07/31/2011, Motu Piti Aau, Bora Bora
Well, it blew and it blew and it still continues to blow so here we sit just waiting for it to slow down. With that being said, yesterday was "let's make bread day" aboard Zephyr. I started early as I thought I'd make a couple of different loaves. Being out on the hook, far away from a town(it's on the other side of the island) we have started to run low on bread so it was the perfect time to fire up the oven, pull out the flour, etc. and have at it. I'd downloaded a recipe off the internet a while ago and had already made one loaf last week. It was OK, but not as good as I had hoped. This time, I tweaked it a bit, adding a bit more sugar as well as a bit more yeast and allowed it to rise a good bit longer than they recommended on the recipe. I keep the loaf in the engine room for rising as it is the warmest place on board and it rose wonderfully. The last time I made it, it didn't look totally done when I pulled it out of the oven. I checked the temp of the oven to make sure it was correct and let it cook just a bit longer and it came out great. It rose so much that it hit the top of the oven as I tried to slide it out.
For my second loaf, I went with the braided cranberry walnut bread I made quite a while ago. I loaded it full of both cranberries and walnuts and added some orange extract to expand the flavor a bit. It has to rise a good bit longer than the white bread I made earlier so it didn't come out of the oven till after 1600. As you can see from the picture above it came out just fine. We fired up the generator so we could make toast this morning and it was wonderful if I say so myself.
Tracy was feeling off her game for a change and she sat and stitched and read and slept through the day. A day of rest is a good thing. With the wind still blowing, it really wasn't a good day to go anywhere so sitting still here was just fine.
We have found that this is the bay where Bora Bora teaches sailing to the kids of the island. Every day(except Sunday) they come out in small single sail monohulls(smallest kids), intermediate Hobis(a bit older kids) and bigger Hobies for the more experienced kids. They flash around the bay going back and forth practicing their tacks and gibes time after time. Many make it up onto one hull as they flashed past Zephyr hooping and hollering as they went having a great time. There are chase boats along side just to make sure no one gets in trouble so they are well supervised. Yesterday, in the high winds, several flipped on their side. Some needed assistance getting them righted but even then, they seemed to be having a good time. Starting young like this will make these kids excellent sailors as they grow up.
07/30/2011, Motu Piti Aau, Bora Bora
We're now at day three anchored off Motu Piti Aau(16 31.964S 151 42.296W) along the eastern side of Bora Bora still hunkered down in the nice blow that had been forecast. For once, the forecasters got it right. I'm glad we left Raiatea on the 27th because the storm got here early and closed in around Bora Bora and there was no way we would have gotten to where we are with the weather we had on the 28th. We woke to total overcast and a growing wind that continued through the day hitting into the mid 20 knot range. It stirred up the water around us making it almost impossible to see the coral below and be able to tell where it was safe to go and where it was not. It rained off and on all through the day with a few of the more brave souls heading out from the anchorage. All were charter boats that only have so many days to see what they want to see. Several monohulls came in after us and lined up beside us in a straight line heading out west in the bay. Catamarans are anchored farther in the bay in shallower water as they do not need as much water under their keels. We have ten boats in the bay at this time. Only two American boats, one Canadian and the rest are all French. As we talk during the morning net on the VHF radio, there are still lots of boats on the other side of the island either at anchor or attached to the mooring balls that are available. Over the last two days, I dove on the anchor several times to check it out and find it digging in deeper each time I look at it. We don't want it coming loose.
So for our first full day in Bora Bora, we sat in the cockpit with the side panels installed and watched the rain fall. It was so heavy at times that you couldn't see the mountains on the island at all. They were gone in the downpour.
We had noticed during our recent trips that our wind gauge had been acting up. It would give us the direction the wind was coming from but sometimes the speed of the wind would be no where near what it should be for what we were out in. Yesterday, I went up the mast to take a look at the masthead unit to see if I could find any problems. Of course, it was still blowing in the mid teens but with us so close to shore, there was little rocking to make the trip up scary. It wasn't like I was the ball in a tether ball game. I've had that in the past and really didn't like it. I ended up disconnecting the unit and bringing it down to take apart what I could take apart to see if there was a loose wire in it. We cleared the table in the main salon and with screw driver in hand, I took the plug apart. Yep, at least one wire is corroded but all appears to be connected. I tried to scrape off what corrosion I could find, added some silicone sealant to reseal the plug and went back up the mast to reattach it. What I did had no effect so we are stuck with a not knowing how fast the wind is going but at least we know where it is coming from which is more important for a sailor. Having been out for the last three years, we pretty much know how much wind is around us by how the seas act and feel. A nice lunch of ham and cheese on a baguette and we launched Puff with Dragon(our outboard) and headed out for one of the snorkeling sights southwest of here. It was still blowing but being in our swim suits, we really didn't care as we were going to get soaked anyway.
We dropped anchor in about 7 feet of water at a small motu called Piti uu Uta a little over a mile from Zephyr and jumped in. We'd anchored downwind(and down current) of the main coral field so we had to swim into the current to get to the field. It makes getting to the coral harder but the swim back to Puff much easier when you are tired from all the snorkeling. Much of the coral was dead but there were some outcroppings of live coral with lots of fish to see. We were joined late in our snorkeling by some people off a tour boat. I know they paid a pretty penny for their trip. We climbed back into Puff and headed back for Zephyr late in the afternoon. We only hit a few outcroppings of coral as we went. We just got into to shallow water. We watched another bigger boat go through the same area(much faster than us) with no problems so we just copied his route and got right through the coral field. Back at Zephyr, the winds kept right on blowing(as they still are) and we we each took showers and settled in for the rest of the day.
We have discussed our future plans as to where we will be going and "think" that we will head for Suwarrow Atoll and then on the the island of Nuie and on then to Tonga. There is a festival in Tonga starting on September 7 that we would like to attend. Lots of our friends will be there too so it will be a nice get together. Google the Tonga Festival and you can read all about it.
So here we sit for another day, clouds and wind and intermittent clear skies waiting for it to pass so we can return to the western side of the island and get more fuel and water as well as the last supplies we will need for the next part of our voyage.
It amazes us how many young people with kids we have seen out here on boats. I'd guess the average age of cruisers is the early 40's with many quite young yet on big expensive boats. The boats with kids tend to all travel together so they have friends to play with at the anchorages. There is lots of conversations between the boats with kids on the VHF radio when ever they are anchored. While these kids may be young, they are some of the most polite and knowledgable kids we have ever run into. We expected to find far more people our age out here yet we are some of the older ones. More power to them for having the guts to set out on a voyage like this with their kids. Many have been out for several years. One we ran into in Papeete has live aboard all her life and she is now 11!! She has never lived on land.
It's still blowing as the Sun rises so we will see what today brings. Probably more snorkeling in a different spot and maybe we will invite one of the other boats over for drinks this evening. Guess we will see.
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.