08/12/2011, West of Bora Bora
It's now Friday the 12th and the journey continues toward Suwarrow Atoll. It's been slow going for the last two days as the winds slow down. While we left Bora Bora in 15-18 knot winds, they have dropped to maybe 7 knots all out of th east. We've had the genoa and main up since we left and today switched over to the spinnaker as our only sail. We rolled in the genoa and then hoisted the spinnaker still in it's sock and then took down the main. It was so calm that we did it with Zephyr going down wind. That's not the norm by far. The usual is to head into the wind before you drop your main. With both the main and genoa down, I pulled on the line that raises the sock that encases the spinnaker and out she flew. The winds are still light so it doesn't stay flying all the time but she will at least keep us going in the 3 to 5 knot range. There are two SSB nets out here(8131 at 0800 Tahiti time and 6224 at 1630 Tahiti time) that most cruisers check into letting others that are out here know where they are at any given time. A safety thing. On any given net, a good 20 boat sign in--us included. At least someone out there knows where we are(or close enough) that should we suddenly disappear, someone has a reference point of where to start looking for us. During this mornings net, many of the boats that are enroute have started their engines to make better time. With the cost of diesel fuel approaching $8.00 per gallon out here, we have opted to sail as much as we can on this voyage. We do run the engine for about an hour each day to charge up our batteries. Since it is running anyway, we do engage the propeller so we do get something out of the diesel other than volts. Once we had checked into French Polynesia in the Marquesas, we only had so many days that we could stay(90) so we were forced to motor if our speed got to slow. Now being out on the ocean again with no restrictions on us, we can take our time. We had originally figured on a passage of 6 days since we normally do a good 130 miles each day. Not so now. It could take us an easy 8 or more to get there at the speed we are going. We're not even half way there yet. It's not like we will run out of food or water and we have plenty of books to read and movies to watch and music to play so we won't go bonkers. The forecast is for better winds in a few days, I guess we will see where we are at that time and make plans accordingly. As of this afternoon, we're at 15 03.078S 156 53.512W and slowly moving west northwest on our course.
08/11/2011, West of Bora Bora
On our last few days in ora Bora, we went about getting checked out of the country. We'd hired and agent to handle all the check in and check out procedures before we even left Mexico. It made all the difference in the world as she got us all checked in and filed all the necessary paperwork for us. When we were about to leave Papeete, she took our paperwork and passports and got us all set for the final checkout. She asked us to email her and let her know what islands we were visiting so she could let the proper authorities know. She requested that we give her 10 days notice before we were actually leaving Bora Bora. No problem. We email her at each of our stops along the way. She had given us the necessary papers showing us checked out with just the exit port not filled in in case we left from somewhere other than Bora Bora. All we had to do in Bora Bora was show up at the Gendarmaries(police) and hand over the papers she gave us. Then they would do the final stamps on our passports and we were set to leave. I stopped in last Thursday to get their hours and what documents we needed to bring. The woman behind the counter told us that we would have to fill in the exact same paperwork again as what we had filled in was only to get us out of Papeete. Say what? I emailed our agent and she told us to just take in the pink form she had given us and our passports and that was all we needed to do. As we were planning on heading out on Monday, the Gendarmes told us to come back on Sunday at 0900. we showed up right on time and they took our nice pink copy of the form Cindy had given us as well as our passports and started making copies and stamping them. Then they asked us as to exactly when we were leaving. we'd changed our mind to Tuesday. OOPS!! You can only checkout 24 hours before you leave. OK, fine, we could come back on Monday and finish the checkout procedure.
When we returned on Monday, we got the same woman we got last week. She wanted all the papers filled out all over again even though the officers didn't need it the day before. This was HER way of doing it. I tired to discuss(insert argue here)it with her but there was no budging her. Tracy grabbed my arm and took the forms and sat down and filled them out. I was violating one of the primary rules of cruisers---never argue with the police or immigration people. With the same form filled out all over again, she stamped our paperwork and told us we had to go the post office, buy a stamp and mail it to immigration in Papeete. We did as directed and off it went. In a later email to our agent she said not to worry that Immigration would have two copies of our exit papers. At least that job was done and we were finally out of French Polynesia.
Next, on to the banks to get what we had left in francs changed over to New Zealand or US dollars. The first back had a sign on the door--"we only exchange money for our clients". The second bank only had $10.00 New Zealand(not enough). At the third and last bank, I ran into Avril off Dream Away. She had been smarter(cruising much longer than us)and placed an order with the back for New Zealand dollars on Thursday of the previous week. She was there to pick up her dollars with lots of French Francs in her hand. Surprise!!!---the bank now refused to do the exchange!!! Seeing this, I just left. I ran into her later and she said it took her over an hour and lots of talking before they would do the exchange. No real reason was given as to why they had changed their minds since they had the New Zealand dollars in the bank. Since they were about to close for their two hour lunch break and she wasn't leaving until she got her money, they finally gave in and got them for her. I don't understand what their reasoning was as they would make money on the exchange. We took what monies we had left and bought lots of things we didn't really need but were sure we would use later in the voyage(chips, cookies and cokes, etc)and I finally walked out of the store with only 8 francs in my pocket--about 10 cents. Not bad and we have lots of good snacks to eat and entertain with later in the voyage.
So there you have it--Bureaucracies and Banking at it's finest.
08/11/2011, West of Bora Bora
We left Bora Bora on Tuesday right on our schedule. We headed out the pass and with the winds off our starboard stern, we raised the main and rolled out some of the Genoa. After an hour or so of that, we decided to pull up the spinnaker. We rolled in the Genoa and up went the spinnaker. We got hit by a gust of wind that almost knocked us over. The port side rail was well under water coming up to our port holes. I don't think we have ever healed over so much. Off came the spinnaker and out came part of the Genoa again and off we went. So far, it has not been a pleasant sail. To go the direction we want, the winds would hit us right on the stern. That angle of sail is almost impossible to maintain, we we've had to jockey back and forth with the main and genoa. We have it out over the starboard side for several hours and then over to the port side for a few hours. We're making lots of boomerang shapes on our chart plotter as move along. The winds are about 10 knots so we're not going as fast as we would like, but it beats going slower. Every now and then ,a gust hits us the the boom jerks out to the ends of the lines with a resounding boom. All day and all night. It makes sleep a bit harder to get. Tracy's prep of the meals before we left was a smart idea. All she has to do is reheat and serve. Much easier than hunt up all the ingredients and try and make it out here with Zephyr rocking and rolling from side to side. We ended our 24 hours at 15 46.801S 153 16.200W having made 102 nautical miles. In the last 24 hours, we are now at 15 24.008S 155 04.571W having made 117 miles and a total of 219 with 485 to go. One boat that is going to the same place we are, got to the outside of the reef during the night and spent the rest of the night sailing back and forth along the north side of the island. It's not well marked for a night entrance. We'll start making our arrival calculations when we are about 2 days out so we get there during the mid morning. It's easier to see the coral bommies below you as you go in the pass.
So that's what is happening here as of 0915 Tahiti time(-10 hours UTC). We'll let you know how the day progresses.
08/09/2011, Bora Bora Yacht Club
Well, we are just about to set off again. We've clocked about 1326 miles while in French Polynesia and now we set off on the next journey. This time to Suwarrow Atoll(13 14.507S 163 06.041W) for a few days. Maybe a week as many of the cruisers that go there have such a great time. It's a nature preserve for the Cook Islands(part of New Zealand-sort of) and only has two guides living there and they only live there from May till October when the hurricane season starts.
We will be checking into the Cook Islands when we arrive and we may end up staying up to two weeks. We still plan on being in Tonga by September 7 for the Tonga Festival. It runs from the 7th to the 15 and should be lots of fun.
We will see how time and enjoyment affect our stay at Suwarrow.
Look for posts as we head across. I'll not have actual internet till we reach Tonga so sorry, no pictures.
Stay tuned, the adventure continues. Our three month here is now up.
08/07/2011, Bora Bora Yacht Club
Well, we are getting closer to the next leg of our voyage. We filled up our water tanks a few days ago and yesterday, we headed to the local Total station for diesel and gasoline. We had filled our tanks when we were in Papeete and having run the engine some since we left, we wanted to make sure we had as much as we could as diesel fuel(tax free) runs $4.92 per gallon here while it is much more the farther west we go. I let the yacht club know we were heading over to the station(didn't want them thinking we had skipped out) and tied up to a mooring buoy at another yacht club that is still offering their mooring for free. We would have stayed there(being free) but it is a much more exposed anchorage with the boats rolling and rocking as the winds blow through it. We got a radio call from Soggy Paws(another cruiser) that some of the buoys actually belonged to local dive boats. Figuring we would only be there for an hour or so we figured we would be alright. Fraid not. We saw a woman ashore frantically waving her hands telling us to get off the mooring. We dropped the line and grabbed hold of another buoy in the yacht club. This one was fine. I climbed into Puff and headed ashore with the paperwork we needed for the station--copies of our paperwork where we came into the country, copies of our paperwork for when we leave the country, a copy of our clearance exit papers, copies of Zephyrs documentation and a copy of our tax free permit that allows us to get duty free fuel. It's a cash only business with duty free fuel so while I had about 11,000 francs, I knew I didn't have enough to cover what we were buying. I gave the office 10,000 and started filling the two jerry jugs that we use to ferry fuel. We could have tied up to the dock but the wind was against us and would have kept pushing Zephyr against the concrete dock over and over as the wind was gusting quite well at this time. It would have made leaving the dock nearly impossible.
I got the first two jugs filled and headed back to Zephyr. We then pump the fuel out of the jugs and into the through deck fittings that lead to the tanks. Doing all this takes some time. Back to the fuel dock for more fuel, this time with a jug for gasoline. With those filled, I'd planned on walking down the road to the local bank and getting some more money. The clerk at the station told me that they closed in 15 minutes for lunch and wouldn't open again till 1400(nice lunch "hour"). OPPS!!! I didn't have enough funds to pay for the fuel that was already pumped. I thought about running to the bank but there was no way I would have made it there and back. I ran to Puff and hustled back to Zephyr. I had Tracy grab some of our emergency US dollars we keep on board and I rushed back to the station. I made it just in time to pay for my gas and diesel and headed back to Zephyr. Being much closer to town, we decided to take Puff to the town docks and have lunch and pick up some groceries while we were there. Strangely, the roach coach(known here as a Roulottes) that we have eaten at a good bit wasn't where it normally was. The other cheap "Snack" that was outside the grocery store was also closed. While we were in town, I hit the local banks ATM and now had plenty of money for more fuel. We grabbed some drinks at the grocery store and headed back to Zephyr. While we were having lunch, we heard several boats talking on the VHF radio about heading to the yacht club to get a buoy. Since we didn't want to loose our mooring, we dropped off the buoy we were attached to and headed back to the Bora Bora Yacht Club to get our mooring ball back. No problem with that as we found that no one had come in while we were gone. I jumped into Puff and with our two diesel jerry jugs in hand headed back to the station. Now a lot farther away than it had been. With only myself in the Puff, I could get her up and planing so I made quick time of the journey. Since I had left a short time before, the attendant didn't make me get another set of documents(yea!!) and allowed me to get these two jugs filled but she wanted to be sure that I wasn't coming back for more. Nope, we were done. Thirty gallons did a good job of getting our tanks where we wanted them to be. With full jugs in Puff, I started up Dragon(our 7.5hp outboard) and headed back toward Zephyr. Now normally with so much weight on board, I can't get her up and planing but I guess I had the distribution of the weight right as I get her up planing just fine. Now not as fast as when the jugs were empty but I still made good time getting back. Tracy was already to pump the diesel into the tanks when I got back.
Shortly after I got back we got a visit from Henrik off Dana(our Danish friends) and we tried to move some of our movies over to his hard drive so they could watch them as they cruise the waters. No matter what we tried, we couldn't get they to move. Either my hard drive was locked or his was but we could never get them to transfer. Lene and Henrik had caught up with us here at the yacht club a couple of days ago and we has spent the last two night socializing with them either in their cockpit or in ours. A wonderful couple full of knowledge and eager to share their experiences with us. Having only been out here for just over three years, we are definitely on the newbie side of the cruising community out here. Many have been out here for 15 years or longer. Some have already go around the world and this will be their second or third time. Last night, we had Jake and Jackie over from Hokule'a, one of our sister boats here at the anchorage. Bill off Solstace couldn't make it unfortunately. Jake and Jackie had had company for the last ten days or so. They had just come back from putting them on the ferry to the airport. We'd met them when we were on Moorea about a month ago. We spent several hours in our cockpit getting caught up on what each of us has been doing and where we have been and are going. It was another fun evening.
Yesterday afternoon, a sailboat(about 100 feet long!) came into the anchorage and dropped their anchor about 200 yards to the northwest of Zephyr, letting out a good 300 feet of chain as they were in water a good 90 feet deep. A beautiful boat. As we sat in the cockpit last night with Jake and Jackie, we saw a sailboat come through the pass about 2000. They appeared to be coming towards the yacht club anchorage. Since it was pitch black, they launched their dingy and two people motored in checking out where buoys were in the anchorage. Now there are a good many available if you know where to look. As luck would have it they came across one close to the 100 footer. They motored back to the "mother ship" and tried to direct it toward the buoy. Well, that didn't work so the two of them piled back into the dingy and returned to the buoy with a blue flashlight in hand to show the boat the way to the buoy. Jack and Jackie had already left by this time so I sat deck with my own flashlight trying to help them come in. As luck would have it, it started to rain shortly after the dingy got to the buoy. I'm sure they were drenched by the time their boat got to them. Once attached to the buoy, they were set. Unfortunately, this put them VERY close to the 100 foot beautiful sailboat. Not a good place to be with the new boat on a mooring that has limited swing room and the 100 footer on the end of a 300 foot leash that would allow them to swing nicely at anchor. When I went on deck this morning, I found that the 100 footer had moved during the night to a different place and re-dropped their anchor. They were now a big distance away from the new boat. I guess being on a moorage buoy trumps being on an anchor. I would not have been happy having to move so late at night. Oh well, that's the cruising life for you. Most times, the rule of the road out here is the last one in can be asked to move if another boat feels you are too close and they are uncomfortable with it. Not so with anchor versus mooring buoy.
Today, we were supposed to go the the local Gendarmarie to get all our exit paperwork stamped and processed as we plan on heading out on Tuesday. We were due at the office at 0900 for processing. When we got up this morning, it was blowing something fierce across the island but we needed to get to town in Puff so we planned on getting wet during the trip. We wore waterproof coats to try and keep us dry and we stayed somewhat dry for most of the trip. When we got to town we were only partially soaked. The wind shifted as we headed around the island so the while we were going down wind for the first part of the trip, we were suddenly going into the wind for the last half of it with water splashing into Puff with every wave. Oh well, we were not going to melt. We got in a bit early so we waited at the dock as people off the Paul Gauguin cruise ship were coming ashore. Boy were they pale!!!! Sunlight reflected off the creaminess of their legs! It was blinding!!!
At 0900, we showed up at the Gendarmarie with all the papers we needed and after looking at them and stamping some of them, they asked us when we were leaving. Tuesday I said. Oh Oh, we were a day early. You can only check out one day before you leave. Now we get to go back again tomorrow. No big deal. It's their rules and we always try and obey them. It's their country after all.
Today, Tracy is putting together the meals we will need when we are on passage. Everything will be cooked and in bags or containers either in the frig or in the freezer ready to be put in the oven or plunged into water for a quick reheat. It's much easier than trying to cook if the passage ends up being rough. The last thing you want to do is be down below trying to cook in rough seas. We expect it to take a good 6 days so we will be already when we drop the lines to the mooring buoy on Tuesday(weather permitting). Our next stop is Suwarrow Atoll.
08/04/2011, Bora Bora Yacht Club
Yesterday was job and haul day. We started by trying to replace one of our circuit breakers on our electric panel. The switch that controls the lights in the engine room started tripping and disconnecting the circuit when it was first turned on. After a couple of flicks of the switch, it would stay on. I pulled out one of our replacement breakers(can't carry too many spare parts) and unscrewed the breaker in the panel and unscrewed the wires(of course, I had already turned off all the power to the panel). It wouldn't come out. It appears to be wedged under one of the connector strips. Getting frustrated easily, I reconnected the wires and screwed it back into the panel. When I turned the power back on, the switch appears to be working fine. Who knows? Loose wire maybe? At least it is working fine now and I still have a replacement in case it gets bad again.
Once that was done, we loaded our water jugs(4--2.5 gallon jugs) into the dingy and headed to the dock at the yacht club to start refilling our tanks. We have a water maker that we turn on every time we fire up our generator but it can't seem to keep up with our usage. It supposedly makes 8 gallon per hour so in an average generator run, we make about 24 gallons. With that much production(we run the generator just about every day) we should be able to keep up with usage. We're going to put the production tube in one of our jerry cans and see how much we are actually making the next time we fire her up. We took our filtration system ashore(GE charcoal filters as well as a paper filter) that we can connect to the hose from the faucet to make sure all the water we bring aboard is as clean as it can possibly be. We have friends that took on water at Anaho Bay in Nuka Hiva from a faucet ashore and it ended up fouling their tanks. They had to pump all their water out and get in a clean their tanks. We've always done it this way, especially since we left the US. It slows down the flow, but all the water you get is as good as it can be. The yacht club has their own desalination plant so I checked it with our salinity meter(for our water maker) and it came in more pure than the water we make aboard. Hauling 10 gallons each trip, I finally hauled 80 gallons back to Zephyr. Tracy stayed ashore with our filtration system. The hose from the yacht club allowed us to fill our jugs right in Puff so there was no hauling involved. We started about 1100 and finished about 1430. The club charges 500 francs($6.25) for 100 liters or about 26 gallons so it cost us 1,500 francs($18.75) for what we took aboard. We burn far more gas in the generator to make that much water. With the tanks just about full, we will have plenty for our next voyage. We hold 265 gallons so we should not run short.
A while later, we headed back ashore for showers and only had to wait for two people ahead of us before we got in. On our way back to Zephyr(about 1830) we saw a sailboat coming into the yacht club mooring field looking for a buoy to hook onto. With it being pitch black, even with flashlights, they were not having much luck. There were only a few balls left to hook on to. We dropped our shower equipment off at Zephyr, grabbed a flashlight of our own and took off to help them out as we knew where the available mooring balls were. We zipped over to them and told them to follow us in. Tracy spotted one of the buoys and we lead them right to it. We even handed them the mooring line. Their boat(Champagne) was safely hooked for the night. We headed back to Zephyr and had a nice late dinner and settled in for another movie night on the computer.