07/21/2011, Fare, Huahine
We should be pulling up the anchor in a few minutes and heading out for Raiatea on the South end of the island near Motu NoaNoa. Should be great. At least that is what we have heard. We'll let you know either later today or tomorrow on our next post. It will have to be by SSB radio so no more pictures for a while.
07/20/2011, Village of Fare, Huahine
Will the wind never stop???? We'll settle for it slowing even a bit. We upped the anchor yesterday and headed back north toward the village of Fare on the west side of Huahine after experiencing a week of wind and rain. Normal winds in the high teens with gusts to 30 knots and more. I know, we are on a sailboat but that's fine when out sailing but at anchor, we become sort of boat locked. You can't go anywhere without getting soaked by the waves that blow through the bay.
On Monday, we decided to take Puff and head around the south point of the island toward the village of Parea and the pass just off the village so we could visit Motu Araara and do some snorkeling. The east side of the Motu(also known as an island in English) is known for decent coral for good snorkeling. Off we went waves pounding into poor Puffs bow as the winds came around the end of the island. It got so bad that I finally put on my snorkeling mask and snorkel to try and see through the spray the waves were making. As it was, we had to jockey around large coral heads that come up from the sandy bottom. With the water so turbulent, it was impossible to see some and what you could see, we had no idea how deep they were under the surface. We finally made it around the point and headed toward the east side of Motu Araara. Well, that was no good as the winds were buffeting that side of the island. Over to the west side--much better. We pulled Puff up on shore and I headed into the water. Tracy waited at Puff for me to report back if the swim was worth it. In all reality, the reef there is just about dead with few fish and very little live coral.
Back into Puff and back around the south point toward our bay. It's much better to go down wind than up wind. A lot less spray over the bow. We stopped in the south section of our bay(Avea Bay) and dove in. Much better. No where near as much dead coral. Tracy went in right on top of a big live coral head with lots of fish all around it. When I finally got there, I took some pictures that I'll post for you later. When we dove on the love coral there were anemones with clown fish(like Nemo) all over the place. While much of the coral was dead, we had gotten lucky and found a live patch. There was also one of the sting rays in attendance though not as friendly as those at Sting Ray City back on Moorea. He swam away as I came near him. Back to Zephyr for dinner.
Yesterday, we upped the anchor and took off for the village of Fare. A short ten mile motor with coral reefs on both sides of the channel. We followed our earlier route that was still shown on the Garmin chartplotter. We arrived just before noon. I played out the anchor in 20+ knot winds in 60 feet of water. Out it went but our CQR anchor didn't bite into the bottom. Up it came and around we went till we found a place only 45 feet deep. Down went the anchor and we were lucky this time in that it grabbed the bottom. I let out 160 feet of chain before it jammed in the windlass on it's way out. For some reason, as the chain comes back onto Zephyr, it takes a twist in the linkage rotating clockwise. The last time I had all the chain out was back in Puerto Vallarta in February and it was a mess then. We've anchored dozens of times since each time having the chain twist as it comes back aboard. We normally use about 120 feet of chain in a normal anchorage but this time we were much deeper so the windlass finally ran into the snarled chain where it had bunched up. No more chain was going to come out and it was snarled so badly that there was no way to get in back through the windlass. Thank heaven the anchor bit into the bottom and held. To solve the problem we had to take all the chain out of the anchor locker and lay it out all over the deck so we could get all the twists out of it. About an hour later, all the chain was dekinked and put back into the anchor locker. Now all I have to do is watch the chain that is between Zephyr and the anchor as it comes back on board and make sure it comes in with no kinks. With luck it should swivel toward the anchor and take all the kinks out as it comes up. Guess we will see.
We set our anchor alarm on our chart plotter and with the wind continuing through the afternoon(still in the high teens to gusts in the 30 knot range)we stay aboard again. Late in the afternoon, a 46 foot Jeanneau(brand of sailboat) came in and dropped their anchor just about where we had dropped ours. They just didn't let out as much chain. They dropped back on us stopping off our port side. A bit to close for comfort since we had already drug once in this anchorage. We talked to the other boat via VHF radio(didn't want to shout between boats) and once I told him he had dropped just about on top of our anchor, he decided to move. He didn't want his anchor to snag ours and endanger both boats. Up came his anchor and he moved a bit farther forward and dropped it again. It bit in and he was secure. The reason he anchored so close to us was that he is friends with a boat that was anchored next to us. With his anchor set, he dropped back until he was within about 40 feet of his friends boat. Now he was their problem, not ours though if he dragged, he might still drop back on us but I figure he had good insurance as his boat look close to new. When I went on deck this morning, he had pulled up his anchor and moved again. This time, much farther forward in the anchorage. During the night(about 0300) a big gust of wind had gone through the anchorage and his anchor had come loose. He got it reset but spent the rest of the night sitting in his cockpit on anchor watch. We found all this out this morning in conversations he had with another boat on the VHF radio. Better him than us. Looking at our chartplotter, we haven't dragged at all. Yea for us.
We're now at 16 42.808S 151 02.400W for all you Google Earth fans.
During the night, two big supply ships came in the and bay and passed behind us on their way to the wharf. There should be lots of new things ashore for us to choose from when we get there. It's still blowing in the high teens out there but we have to get ashore for more gasoline as well as groceries. I'll let you know how that works out and how wet we get.
07/19/2011, Still at Huahine
I've posted a new photo album of some of what we have seen on Tahiti, Moorea and Huahine. Click on the photo to enlarge them for better viewing. Enjoy.
07/18/2011, Avea Bay, Huahine Island, French Polynesia
How to get lost in one easy lesson. It's easy. Just don't know where you are going.
We took off on a hike yesterday morning down to the South point of the island to see the Marae Anini, one of the local holy sights of the island dating back to before the French showed up in the 1700. It's made up of lots of coral slabs that have been hauled off the shoreline and stood up on end. I can't imagine how much work it took to get all those slabs in place. We were greeted by a local guide that had a group of four with him.
After exploring the beach there, we took off for a hike up one of the local mountains, or at least what they refer to as mountains. We heard and read about a path that takes you up the hill for views of Avea Bay as well as the village of Parea on the eastern side of the island. Supposedly, the path wound around and would take you down to the village at the end of the hike. From what we had read, no one has found the rest of the path that takes you to the village but we were game for a try. Up we went along the well traveled path higher and higher reaching several "summits" of different hills as we went. While the views were great, just about every one was blocked by the growth of Australian Pine Trees. Tall spindly trees with long thin needles that hang down from the branches. Lovely really.
Up and up we went till we finally got to the summit. Once past the summit, we traveled a much less warn path. It eventually petered out to just a small path that was barely there. We had a choice to make--continue on and try and find a decent path to the town or turn back. We pressed on!!! Through fern covered areas as well as long vine covered areas that grabbed at your feet and shoes. Oh, by the way, I was wearing a set of Crocs(not designed for hiking) while Tracy had on a pair of shoes with just about no tread left on them. We really were not set up for hiking in the hills. Down we went with no real path or trail to follow. We tried to head down toward the village as we were lead to believe we should find a path but what ever we followed just took us to the edge of a rock cliff. Sorry, wrong way!! So we headed farther north and slowly made our way along the top of the ridge veering toward the west away from the village but back toward where we had started at Avea Bay. The woods got denser with far more decayed trees and vines. On we pressed watching our steps. I'd picked up a "walking stick" that someone had left along the earlier pathways to help me out feeling through the deep carpet of ferns, vines and grasses. Tracy took a wrong step and took a quick landing on her fanny. We slowly made our way down the side of the hill coming out north of where we had started at Avea Bay several hours before. As we looked back up the "mountain", walking along the crest line had helped us get past the steep cliffs that also made up the west sides of the "mountain". We'd come out on the one place where you could come down. OK, we got lucky but we also got down hardly the worse for wear other than shins that had been whipped by the ferns and vines-- oh, and my feet were really dirty.
We retraced our steps down the road we had taken earlier toward one of the "Snacks"(small restaurant) for a well deserved lunch. As we approached, the place was empty. Not a car nor a person. I wandered in(no doors on these places) and finally found a group in the back room. One of the women came forward to take our order. I had chicken and fries($1,000 francs $12.50US) while Tracy had chicken with roquefort cheese and fries($1,300 francs $16.25US). Two bottles of Coke at 225 francs-$2.81 each. Add on two ice cream cones--the first we have found for I don't know how long at 150 francs ($1.87 each) and with another bottle of coke to go, we ended up at over $44.00 for lunch. As we had lunch, a pair of locals came in for a french bread sandwich to go. That's how the locals normally eat. We didn't see any mention of sandwiches on their menu. The food was great and the portions were huge--two breasts on each plate with more fries than either of us could eat along with slices of french bread to have with the meal. We felt we got a great meal for a "reasonable" price. If you eat at a "restaurant", you can expect to pay at least double what we did as they cater more to the tourists than the "snacks" do. When we eat at one, we are normally the only non locals at the tables.
We headed back to Puff for the trip back to Zephyr. We'd tied here up--actually locked her up to a dock at one of the small hotels along the beach. Actually the only hotel along the beach. I checked the prices of a room(little grass shacks along the beach) on the internet and they run over $400US a night--meals not included. YEOW!!!!!! Of course you do get free satellite TV in your room!!
Once back at Zephyr, I started up the generator to recharge the batteries and turned on the water heater so we could have a "hot" shower--a real treat. Since we had eaten such a huge meal at lunch, dinner was just snack food. Neither of us was that hungry.
Last night, the winds continued to howl through the bay hitting close to 50 knots in one burst. Rains fell off and on just to make it interesting. We had pulled Puff(our dingy) onto the deck for storage rather than dangling her from a hoist along Zephyrs starboard side. With the winds we had already experienced during our stay here, we felt it smarter to have her strapped down on deck that flying along side. Our decision proved correct. Puff was safe and secure this morning. We've seen some people leave their dingies in the water over night and find them upside down or missing the next day, neither of which do we want to experience.
Today, we hope to dingy around the south end of the island and do some snorkeling on the coral reefs that are there. Right now, it's blowing and raining so we will wait for a while and see what comes later this morning.
Stay tuned. More to come.
07/15/2011, Avea Bay, Huahine, French Polynesia
We upped the anchor yesterday at 1500 and took off for Huahine, about 90 miles northwest of Moorea for an easy overnight sail. The weather forecast was for 15 knot winds out of the East and swells to be to be out of the Southeast. It would have made for a nice downwind sail. Instead, both the wind and swells shifted around to the Northeast and we ended up of a broad reach for sailing and a rollie night as the waves hit us off the starboard stern quarter. We rolled back and forth all night long. Both Blue and Snowshoe were not impressed with Blue drooling like she had a Foo Man Choo mustache.
It was a relatively cloudless night with a full moon shining down so bright that we could easily see everything around us so there were no surprises. I took the 1900 to 2300 watch with Tracy coming up to relieve me at 2300 for her 4 hour stint at watch. The winds were shifty through the night so a constant vigil was needed to keep us on course even with James, our Hydrovane doing all the real work on our stern. He proves himself over and over as an important crew member. We sighted Huahine in the early morning about 0300 in the distance. As day break came, she was right off our bow and we pulled into Passe Avamoa on the West side about 0900 after 18 hours underway.
We dropped anchor twice in the bay off the village of Fare but the anchor refused to bite into the sandy bottom. I guess it was just a coating of sand on a coral bottom. Instead, we continued our journey South along the interior of the large coral reef another 10 miles to the large bay of Avea along the South shore of the island. We dropped the anchor again in 35 feet of water and she bit right into the sandy bottom and has held fast.
We'll be here for a couple of days before we set off for Ile Raiatea about 34 miles west of here. Huahine is a VERY laid back island where big business has been discouraged and time moves slowly. There is no bus system on the island. So either hang out and thumb and hitch a ride or put on good walking shoes. There are a few place near here we expect to explore over the next couple of days and will take Puff(our dingy) around the South end of the island to explore over there as the coral reef makes it impossible to get Zephyr in there.
It's been a great sunny day with the temp in the low 80s and the water coming in at 80 degrees. Amazingly, it feels quite cool when you first jump in. It still beats the 60 degrees or lower along the Pacific Northwest coast.
Stay tuned, I'll post more as we move along. Sorry about no pictures but the internet provider provides a nice strong signal but there is no connectivity once you find his signal. It was the same way at Moorea except that we could connect every now and then. For what we paid for the service, we are not getting our monies worth. So I'll continue to post using our SSB radio till I get good internet.
07/12/2011, Oponohu Bay, Moorea
It's been quite a while since I posted a blog so I hope this will get you caught up on what has been happening since the past post. Wednesday of last week, the Yacht Club manager came by our boat to see when we would be checking out as he had other boats that were coming in and since we had told them we would only be a week on the buoy, he wanted to know when it would be free. With that nice kick in the butt, we decided to forgo some of the jobs we had planned (nothing important) and get out of town and head back to Moorea. So we checked out the next day and headed out for the island. We'd thought to delay by one more day as the weather forecast wasn't the best and for once it proved right. We ran into 35 knot winds out of the east--we were going west so that was fine and a bout of showers, one after another all day long. It would pour and then stop and then start all over again for most of the trip. In the end, it was about 25 miles to get over here and when we arrived, we looked at the cove where we had anchored during the Puddle Jump Rally and decided it wasn't the place for us as it was still blowing at 35 knots and while our Duogen would have loved it, it was a bit to much for us. So we just kept on going up into the bay and finally dropped anchor near the head of the bay in pretty much calm water. We had four other boats already here so we made it to five. Four more boats came in after us and decided to join us at our anchorage since it was still blowing at the outside of the bay. By the end of the day, we were up to nine boats. It's a really big bay so there was no problem.
On Friday, we decided to go and visit the Stingray City. This is a small section off the main bay up a channel that has a large number of "tame" sting rays in a small area of water. It's a huge attraction on the island with numerous tour boats taking lots of tourists to see, feed and pet the sting rays. When we arrived, there were two tourist boats there as well as two other dingies. We all joined in with the tourists and were swamped by the rays. When I jumped into the water, one immediately came up to me and literally swam up the front of my shirt looking for food. They were all around us. Well over a dozen. Far more tourists than rays but who is counting. Every one was having a great time with them. As we fed them, a group of three black tipped sharks joined in the group to see what they could get-- food wise. After a good hour and a half, we finally piled back into Puff(our dingy) and headed back to Zephyr. It was an amazing experience literally swimming with the rays and sharks and being perfectly safe.
Saturday, we headed over to Cooks Bay, about two miles east of here through a narrow marked channel inside the coral reef that surrounds Moorea. The charts say its a safe trip with a nice deep channel but we hit coral with our outboard twice as we rounded the top of the island. No damage but quite unnerving when it happened. We ran into some folks that had made the crossing that we had originally met in Mexico and they clued us into the place to go for a cheap lunch as well as places to tie up our dingy where she would be safe. The Bali Hai Restaurant and Resort was even having a tattoo fair with lots of tattoo artists showing and doing their work. Just about every stall, and there were lots of them had some one getting another tattoo. We both passed. We toured Cooks Bay(didn't take long) and headed back to Zephyr with a few goods from the local store. We took it quite slowly on our return trip and missed hitting any coral. When we arrived up into the bay where we were anchored, we were greeted by two, yes, two Liberty boats. They only made 35 of them so counting us(though not legally a Liberty) it was great to see some of our children since our boat was the first We motored over to Hakulea to introduce ourselves. Jake and Jackie have had her for 6 years and have been living on board one boat or another for most of the last 15 years. They had been clued in by Evergreen(anther Liberty)that we were some where out in the islands. As we chatted, we were joined by Bill off Solstice, the other Liberty. These two boats have been traveling together for a long time as the owners have been close friends for years. Jake and Jackie decided we should have a Liberty Party on Sunday evening. Drinks would be served at 1630. We've seen several Liberties during our travels but have never been in an anchorage with two at once.
We spend Sunday cleaning Zephyr as just about every business on the island is closed. We started at the bow and slowly worked our way to the stern. We scrubbed and polished and stowed and picked up and cleaned both inside as well as outside. The party on Sunday evening was great. It was wonderful seeing the differences and changes that had taken place over the years as the boats went into production. There were some things we liked and some we didn't . We all decided that we should have the party on Monday evening so everyone could see how the Liberty boats started. What was added and what was left out after our prototype was made. We spent most of Monday continuing the cleaning(Zephyr has to make a good appearance) with more polishing and scrubbing. By the afternoon she looked great. At 1630, Jake, Jackie and Bill all came over for the party as well as the tour. Within 40 minutes it started raining. First just some sprinkles but still annoying. We gathered up our things and drinks and headed below. Then it really started pouring. No one was going anywhere. We traded stories about our boats and ourselves and had a great time. By 1930, it was still raining so Tracy decided to make Chicken Curry with rice for the entire group. It was a great meal with a nice big bottle of wine to go with it. More stories were told and the evening came out great. About 2130, it finally let up enough that they could get off Zephyr without getting soaked. It did start to sprinkle as they boarded their dingy. It rained though most of the rest of the night. All in all, it was a great evening.
Both Solstice and Hakulea had decided to head for Cooks Bay this morning(Tuesday) to see it. We made arrangements to see Bill's boat Solstice before they took off. Again, lots of subtle changes as the boat were made. Again, some we liked and some we didn't. Once we finished the tour, we took off for shore and headed for the bus stop so we could take a nice bus tour of the island. We were passed by a bus heading east but saw it to late to get it to stop. The next bus we saw as headed west so we jumped on board. We got off at La Petite Village(a small town along the coast) and toured the town and had a nice lunch. We waited for the next to continue our trip but the next bus that was headed west zoomed right past us with the driver waving at us as he passed. He didn't want to stop so he didn't. Not knowing the schedule, we finally decided to hike back to Zephyr about 1430 figuring we could grab a bus as it passed us. Every bus that passed us, and there were few of them, just kept right on going with a wave to us. Not a one would stop. We finally got back to Puff(our dingy) about 1730 as the Sun was setting. It was a long hike to get back here. I'm sure we will pay for it tomorrow(heck we are already hurting now). Tomorrow, we plan in heading out to the other anchorage as the winds have let up some and make another trip down to see the sting rays again. When I get internet, I'll post some of the photos we took of our trip.