07/28/2011, Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
We upped the anchor in Baie Hurepiti after Dream Away and Soggy Paws had left and headed out of the bay making for Passe Papai to get outside the reef so we could head for Bora Bora. The wind was pretty much non existent so we were forced to motor the entire way. With the engine going, I fired up the water maker and let her rip for the entire trip across. It's about 20 miles across so not a big trip. Everyone is rushing to Bora Bora as a big front is headed into the area that will produce winds in the high 20 to 30 knot range so we are all getting prepared to hunker down for a few days. Bora Bora has several places that moorings are available. Some for free and some for 5,000($62.50US) francs for week. There is a new Yacht Club about to open and they are trying to attract people to it so they are offering theirs for free. Of course all of those were taken but if you were patient, you might get lucky if someone took off. Most of us are staying for the blow but there are those that want to take advantage of the winds to speed them along. The Bora Bora Yacht Club was the one charging for the buoys. We opted for heading around the north side of the island and dropping our anchor on the far southeast side. The thing about Bora Bora is that there is only one pass into the lagoon that surrounds the island. It's on the northwest side. We had motored right past the place where we wanted to anchor. We entered Passe Avamoa just about 1300 and headed north around the top of the island. If you have been following our post, you might remember where I talked about getting our hands on charts of the island that are used by Sunsail Charters. We have used these charts a lot to show us where lots of things are located and the best way to get around the islands. The chart we had for Bora Bora was a life saver as it showed exactly where we needed to go, turn by turn. It took us into water there was no way we would have entered if we had not had the chart. We traveled through water that only allowed 2.5 feet under the keel with coral all around us. We motored VERY slowly making sure to pay attention to the depth sounder as well as the Garmin chart plotter and the Sunsail charts. For once, I was at the wheel instead of Tracy. She normally takes control as we head into the islands. Today was "role reversal day". She stood outside giving directions as we went. Several times we just stopped and discussed what the charts said and how we felt about being in such shallow water. Coral can take a nice chunk out of a keel real fast. We came to one very tricky part of the trip on the north side and put our trust in the charts and slowly headed around the makers. Eventually(seemed like forever) we came free of the really shallow spots and headed along the east side of the island. While most of the coral was gone, there were times we were still in only 2.5 feet of water with sand under us. Scary!!! We finally pulled into the inlet we wanted to drop the anchor in at 1430. We dropped the hook at 16 31.964S 151 42.296W(for you Google Earth fans), put the engine in reverse and let the anchor dig in. I changed into my swim trunks and put on my mask and fins and headed down to check it out. It's a good sandy bottom so the anchor dug in but we still only have about 2.5 feet under us. There is a coral head behind Zephyr but far enough away that it shouldn't cause us any problems. I'll be diving on the anchor shortly after lunch to make sure it is set well. We may pull it up and more forward to get farther away from the coral"bommie" that is behind us. If we should happen to drag, we don't want to hit it. The bay deepens nicely once past the bommie.
We wanted to be over here for several reasons. One--it will give us good protection from the up coming blow that is set to start today. Two---It's far from the rest of the crowd. We have 6 other boats around us in this big bay. Most are from France. We were the only US boat here till this morning when a second showed up just as one was leaving. Third---There is good internet here. Some of the fastest on the island as there are few boats here to hog the band width. If we have to be stuck here, I'd rather have the internet to keep us entertained. One of our friends(Pereclees) gave us the codes to use the minutes they had left on their internet account when they took off a few days ago for Suwarrow Island.
So here we sit doing some odd jobs and reading. So far, we have covered 1310 miles since we left Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas and 4546 since we left La Cruz, Mexico back on April 9th. Add that to the trip up to Alaska from Port Townsend, WA and we've covered about 13,000 miles since we set off on April 4th 2009. Not bad for two greenhorns that had only sailed on the lakes of New Mexico and Colorado. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Update: FLASH!!--Bill dives on the anchor again! The winds have picked up(1200 hours, July 28th), now in the mid teens. The swimsuit was donned and over I went. With the wind blowing and a bit of rain, the water wasn't that cool for a change. My body temp had cooled enough being out in the breeze that it was ok when I hit the water. We'd decided to add a second line to our anchor chain. After we set our anchor, we attached a length of line called a "snubber" that typically has a heavy piece of rubber entwined in the line to give it more spring action to take the strain off the bow. We had set our anchor with one on the starboard side and thought we should add a second on the port side to balance out the strain. We pulled the extra snubber we carry(actually have three extras onboard) and while Tracy set it up at the bow, I jumped in the water and swam forward to attach it to the chain. Once attached, I swam to the anchor--a whole 8 feet under the water--and checked it out. During the night and with the additional pull on the chain due to the increase in wind, it had driven itself nicely into the sand. We're not going anywhere. As I was going in the water, the people to our right were looking into the water behind their boat. Then have a coral bommie(big chunk of coral) right off the stern of their boat. About 6 feet behind their boat. Now that is close. At least ours is a good 20 feet away and we would have to swing a good bit plus drop back to even come close.
07/28/2011, Bora Bora, French Polynesia
It's time to get caught up. We're now anchored at Bora Bora after crossing from Tahaa yesterday so we can wait out the up coming blow that is scheduled for later today. But before I get into the crossing, here is what we have been doing for the last few days.
We upped the anchor a few days ago at Baie Faafau on Raiatea and took off for the island of Tahaa just a few miles north of here. Since we were inside the reef, we started the engine and decided to just motor as there isn't a tremendous area for sailing. It gets close in some areas between the reef and the shore. We headed north making good times heading for Motu TauTau(16 36.164S 151 33.428W) where there is a "coral garden" that is supposed to be great for snorkeling on. We had some way points in our chart plotter so we knew where to drop the hook. We arrived about noon and I dropped the hook while Tracy put the engine in reverse to set it in the sandy bottom. No good. All it did was drag across the bottom. Up it came and we moved to a better spot a few meters away. There were lots of coral heads(big chunks of coral that stick up from the bottom)that we were trying to avoid. We didn't want to hook into one of them and damage the coral. At the second spot, down went the anchor again. It bit in--sort of. I put on my swim suit and jumped in to check it out. Well, it was partially buried in the sand but not as well as I would have liked. We had a quick lunch and we decided to leave the "garden" for a better anchorage. It was blowing and Zephyr was rocking all over the place as waves made their way across the channel. Not comfortable for either of us. The big ship Lady B showed up and tried to drop their anchor also with no success. You can bet that their anchor weighs a lot more than ours and they couldn't get a good bite with it either.
We headed over to the island and made our way up the coast looking at our charts trying to find a good place for the night. No to the first--too deep. Second one had a pearl farm and they "encouraged" us to leave. The third was even deeper at 90 feet. We retreated back south to the small bay across from TauTau. Lady B had headed there after their anchorage failure. There was a second sailboat tucked in the same bay but it had been abandoned there many years ago as most of the things on deck had been stripped by vandals. Again, the bay was 70 to 90 feet deep so we passed on it allowing Lady B to have it all to themselves. Farther south along the coast was a long bay called Baie Hurepiti. We'd read a report in Soggy Paws compendium about it so in we went. At the head of the bay, the water shallowed out to about 50 feet so we dropped our anchor. The bottom was covered in mud so our anchor dug in great(16 38.556S 151 30.913W). We were set and all alone. At least for about an hour. In came more boats looking for an anchorage for the night. Brave Heart(65 foot McGreger)came in and went past us in the bay. It shallows out quickly ahead of us so they reversed course and dropped their anchor quite a ways behind us. In came Soggy Paws and they slipped past us and anchored ahead of us in the anchorage. Nice couple(Dave and Sherry) with tons of experience. With their anchor down, they invited us over for drinks that evening. We were later joined in the anchorage by Dream Away with a VERY experienced couple from Great Britain. They have been sailing for years and already made one circumnavigation. We had a great time talking in Soggy Paws cockpit that evening. That was how Monday ended.
Tuesday, we were invited on a hike with Soggy Paws and the couple off Dream Away. Let me tell you, those two couples can hike. We thought it was going to be a nice hike just to the next town Haamene--a couple of miles max. Oh no, we were going up into the mountains to hike to a town called Patio on the north side of the island miles away. About 5 miles in and up in the mountains, Tracy and I threw in the towel and turned back letting them continue on their merry way. As we came back down the mountain, we experienced rain storms several times. We hid under the dense brush but still managed to get quite wet. At least it was fresh water. We got back to the town of Haamene in time for lunch(1300 hours) only to find the local "Snack Mac China(just about every restaurant is called a Snack here) was closed for remodeling. OK, on the local Magasin(grocery store). They closed at 1130 and reopen at 1400 for a nice long lunch break. It's that way all over French Polynesia. Every one closes for at least two hours at lunch. We waited outside(again more rain)under their canopy so we could get the makings for a picnic. They opened promptly at 1400. We grabbed three of the last 8 loaves of French bread as well as some cheese and ham for sandwiches. Add a couple of soft drinks and a tube of Pringles and the total came to almost $25.00US. Nice picnic! We ate and started the long walk over the mountain that separates the two harbors. As we headed up the first hill, we stuck out our thumbs trying to get a ride. The first car passed us by but the second(a tour truck) stopped and gave us a ride telling us all about the island. A fun trip back over the mountain. We got back to where we had docked Puff stopping off at Sophie's Boutique to buy some vanilla pods. Vanilla is the primary export of Tahaa. They grow most of the world supply here. Each pod must be hand pollenated and there are thousands of plants all over the island. Back to Puff and out to Zephyr. It was still raining so we arrived quite drenched about 1530. The rest of the gang finally showed up about 1730 having hiked a good 13 miles that day. More power to them. We settled in for a nice quiet evening making plans to head to Bora Bora in the morning.
07/25/2011, Baie Faafau
Since we have good internet here, I' ve added another gallery of photos. "Huahine and beyond". Click on them to see then larger on your screen.
07/22/2011, NaoNao cove, Raiatea
We're still at NaoNao doing more chores. The laundry continues as did the rain yesterday. With some Sun and some rain, the washing went as well as expected. Eventually , we ran out of clothes pins as the job progressed. With little Sun, the clothes took a good bit more time to dry than expected. Since we ran out of pins, we called a halt to the job and it continues as I type this post.
Yesterday afternoon, the one other boat here in the cove upped their anchor and took off for part west of here. We were ready for a cove all to our selves. It was not to be as the one boat left, two came from the west channel and took their place. At least one is a charter catamaran while the other is a smaller monohull sailboat. The cat had 4 people on board(2 men + 2 women) and the mono had 5--2 men +2 women and one child. At about 30 feet, it has got to be crowded in there. All of them--except one person on the cat spent the rest of the day in the water, swimming or paddling in a kayak. One girl on the cat just lounged around, worked on her tan and took lots of pictures of herself. I don't quite understand not getting in the beautiful water here.
Once we came to an end of the laundry, at least what Mother Nature would allow us to do, we jumped in the water and snorkeled around the cove. We couldn't be sure if it was going to rain or have more Sun, so the Laundry was closed for the rest of the day. We swam down--almost 10 feet-- and checked the anchor. It was snugged in deep in the sand. We were not going anywhere. We swam east in the cove to some coral heads and looked around. Not to interesting. Tracy had snorkeled the day before and led us back toward the west end of the cove where the coral and fish were far more abundant. Beautiful colors, not only in the coral but in the fish too. Many fish we have never seen before. The card we have on board to identify them doesn't have most of what we saw yesterday.
We bagged the snorkeling about 1550 and headed back to Zephyr for showers and some snacks. The SSB net was to begin at 1630 and we didn't want to miss it. We listen in on the net to see what is happening around the island with other cruisers so we will be better informed as to what to expect when we get there. we also get clued into as to where the best places are for snorkeling and diving. We expect to spend one last day here(today) and take off for another motu(island) around the west side of the island for a day or so. Soggy Paws(another cruising boat)had recommended it. Once we are done there(a day or two) we will head up to Tahaa, another island just north of Raiatea.
While Tracy was doing the laundry, I busied myself on deck checking just about every screw I could find as well as the rigging and lifelines to make sure all was securely attached. A few of the screws were loose so they got tightened. All the blocks on deck got a good spraying of WD 40 so they will run smoother. I fired up the generator at 0830 to refill the batteries and while it is running, I turned on the water maker to replace what Tracy is using while doing the wash. We hold 265 gallons of water, so that is loads but I like to keep them relatively full if I can. While running the generator yesterday, we made about 34 gallons(9 gallons per hours roughly). Today will be about the same.
After lunch, off for more snorkeling. With luck, the second boat that is left here will take off so we will have the place to ourselves. It's fun sometimes to have a place to ourselves. It's a rarity out here. Most of the boats that came in the Puddle Jump are still around so to have a place to ourselves would be quite a special treat. We will see how the afternoon progresses.
More to come.
Oh, I forgot to tell you, Tracy made Chicken Curry for dinner last night. Wow was it great. Served on a bed of rice, it really hit the spot. For those of you in Denver, give Tokyo Joe's a try if you can. Their "Joe's Special" is a great blend of nice spicy curry and rice. Definitely one of my favorite places to eat when I get back there. NO, I don't own stock in their restaurants, I just love their food. This was not a paid advertisement. Sure wish it was.
OK, here is one of those "more to come" moments. For everyone out there that plans on doing what we have done, or plans to head out anywhere, be it the Sea of Cortez or parts unknown, get your self a "wringer" for doing laundry. Many times, laundry facilities are not available where you may be going or the price is so high that you just can't afford it(Huahine was $13.00US per load. We purchased our wringer at Down Wind Marine in San Diego and while it wasn't cheap, it has more than paid for itself in making Tracy job doing laundry easier. We see lots of boats out here with clothes all over the lifelines and hung from clothes lines around the deck. In conversations we have had with other cruisers, we seem to be the only one out here with a wringer. You can hear the envy in the wives voices when they hear that we have one. Most take their clothes and wrap them around a shroud and twist or just use their hands to twist them. So, if you plan on heading out, get your self or as a gift for the person doing the laundry, a wringer. They will love you for it.
07/22/2011, NaoNao cove, Raiatea
We upped our anchor yesterday about 0900 to set off for Raiatea, an island about 19 miles west of Huahine. We'd anchored at Fare, a village on the west side of the island several days ago after coming north from Avea Bay on the south side of the island. During our short time here, one of our friends on Yaringa(an Australian boat) and come in and where they ended up was just about where we had dropped our anchor. We'd discussed it with them and told them we would call them on the VHF when we were ready to leave. As luck would have it, a small shift in the winds had shifted their boat just to the north of where it normally set so we got our anchor up with no problems. We passed within about 50 feet of them.
Off we set out of the pass and off for Raiatea supposed to be on a heading of 235. As luck would have it, the winds were also blowing at just about 235 so we couldn't make that heading. Most boats don't sail straight downwind. It's too much stress on the sails as well as the rigging as the sails want to shift from side to side. A wildly swinging boom is a terror. So we headed off at about 250 and took off. With winds in the high teens, we were doing about 7 knots with just the Genoa rolled out at the bow. Being only 19 miles away, we pulled up to Pass Teavamoa just after noon. There were breaking waves on either side of the pass. It reminded us of going into Topolobampo on Mexico's mainland coast well over a year ago.
Once through the pass, we turned to port and headed south with the reef on the left and the shoreline on the right. The channel is well marked with post painted green(water side)and red(land side) all the way down the channel. Our charts on the Garmin chartplotter were spot on also which is a big help. We pulled up to NaoNao about 1320 and rounded the west end of the motu (island) for a sandy patch we had been told about by Soggy Paws. They are another cruising boat that was in this spot earlier this morning. Check them out on the internet at soggypaws.com. They have put together a great compendium about all the islands here in French Polynesia that is a free down load. As other cruisers stop at an island, they report back to Soggy Paws as to what they found so other that come later will have a better idea what they will face when they get there. We use it constantly as we cruise. When Soggy Paws left, they let the only other boat in the anchorage(Chakira) know that we were coming as we had spoken with Soggy Paws earlier that morning. As we rounded the west side of the island, Chakira told us where the safest place was to drop the hook. Tracy got concerned when we showed only ONE FOOT under Zephyrs keel. Chakira told us it was fine as Soggy Paws(which draws more) had been in the same spot for over a week with no problems. Down went the anchor and with Zephyr in reverse, it dug in just fine on the sandy bottom. After a great lunch of Tuna Salad on French bread, we dove on the anchor just to make sure. Well, we now know that our depth sounder is accurate. We had just about a foot under Zephyr's keel. Luckily, there is no real tidal influence in this area so we should be just fine.
Now that we were set at anchor, we started in on the next chore. Scrub the water line. We had a growth of about 6 inch long grass like stuff attached at our water line and more of the green stuff on the prop. In we both went with scrapers as a 3M green scratchy pad as well as suction cups with handles to keep us attached to Zephyr and we started scrubbing. That stuff was put on with Super Glue!! It took a while to get it all off. Once the green stuff was off, there were black dots along the hull that took extra elbow grease to get off. about 90 minutes later, Zephyrs hull looked much better. I dove on Zephyrs prop and held myself under water so I could scrape all the stuff off the prop. It wasn't bad but did need some attention. Holding yourself under water tends to get a bit tiring so once that job was done, I climbed back up the ladder while Tracy took off for the coral heads to see how they were. Some alive and some dead was the report when she returned. I meanwhile had gone below and taken a nice shower to get all the saltwater off. Sure feels good to be clean. Having run the engine to get over here(in the pass) we had plenty of hot water to spare.
For dinner, I fired up the barbecue grill to do our last bratworsts that we had left from Mexico. Got to ration that with no one carries out here. They sure were great on French bread with dijon mustard. Oh, jost a side bar. The locals out here must love dijon mustard. There is tons of it in the stores. Including Gallon tubs of it in the store. We have a good bit of it ourselves but these people must love it. We settled in for a nice movie night on deck in the cockpit .with only two boats in the anchorage. With little wind(yes, I know, I asked for it), down below as a bit stuffy. A nice way to spend an evening.
Today, Chakira was leaving and we had laundry to do. So I fired up the water maker to replace what we were about to use and after Chakira took off, we upped the anchor and moved over to the spot they had been in. We now have about 3 feet under our keel. Much better. We'll dive on the anchor when the laundry is done and the Sun comes back out. It's much easier to see under water when you have bright sunshine to help.
So here we sit--16 55.157S 151 25.897W safely at anchor all alone for once. There is the occasional fishing boat with locals that comes by but other than that, we have the place to ourselves now. When we pulled in yesterday, we found signs all along the beach telling us that coming shore was "taboo" . Not sure what that is about but all the beaches in French Poly are available to everyone. Maybe as long as I don't come inland on the island we will be alright. We'd thought the island was deserted but we saw several shacks along the beaches as we came around the north side yesterday. We will just have to do some more exploring today. We found several beautiful shells yesterday as we dove around Zephyr but they all had critters in residence so we just left them alone. It's "house" after all. The beach is yet to come.
It's a bit cloudy today so Tracy is a tad concerned about doing more laundry. Heck, out here, rain is just a second rinse for the clothes. It can't hurt though we might have to put everything through our wringer again if it pours. Guess we will see as the day progresses.
I'll let you know how the afternoon comes out.
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.