Athanor Expedition

Our exploration of land and sea

Will she remember us?

Just this morning, I was thinking about how luxurious it is to take a hot shower.

After 18 months of experiencing the luxuries of land-based life, Rob and I (plus 300lbs. o’stuff) will return next week to S/V Athanor – and, with this, trading the luxuries of Seattle for the luxuries of the South Pacific: the insanely blue water, so clear you can see stingrays nestled into the sandy ocean floor 100 feet deep; the lush green landscape, still largely untouched; and, the beautiful French Polynesian people, working intently to protect their ecosystem and reclaim the culture of their ancestors.

During our time at home, we have been immersed in work, spending time with our family, and envisioning our return to Athanor. We’ve talked, and talked, and talked, about how we want to “experience” this season. First and foremost, the phrase “with ease” has percolated to the top. We want to immerse ourselves in the rich culture that we’ve just barely had a taste of. If you sailed along with us in 2015/16, you’ll remember our musings and images of the beauty we encountered. If you’re new to our blog, we invite you to take a peek back through our journey. This year, while we promise more sharing of that beautiful landscape, we hope that through our words, you’ll get to know more about the day-to-day lives of French Polynesians…and of a couple of Americans dipping our toes in another way of living.

But before we set sail, we will have to return Athanor to the water! This will be our first go at the re-commissioning process. The “to-do” list is very long and we’ve got one week until the tractor moves her into position to gently slip into the water! Projects include: sail repairs, bottom paint, testing all systems – engine, outboard, electrical, battery, water-maker, refrigeration, communication and navigation systems – oh my! And then, we acclimate again to living on a boat, two people in a very small space, with limited access to services, being self-sufficient again, always tracking the weather, always having Plans B and C at the ready.

Over the course of the next six months, we will split our time between Seattle (working a bit) and immersing ourselves in the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The Societies include the Isles du vent (windward islands) Tahiti, Moorea, and the Isles sous le vent (Leeward islands) Hu’Hine, Raiatea, Bora Bora. Unlike our 1st year out (sailing 7,500 miles from Seattle and a 26-day Pacific Ocean passage), sailing these islands is relatively easy; distances are close, at the most an overnight sail between anchorages. We will explore the islands on foot and by bike, taking in the music, dance and culture, participating in Heiva festivities, snorkeling, and connecting with other voyagers from the US and elsewhere.

Toward the end of the season, we will likely make a longer passage, out of French Polynesia, to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. The purpose of this trip would be to “reset the clock” on the time our boat can stay in French Polynesia. A boat is only allowed to stay within French Polynesia for up to three years before being required to pay a steep 8% import duty. For us, that deadline will land relatively early in April 2019 and we’d rather not be rushed to exit the country. We’ve heard from several of our cruising friends who have long since moved on from French Polynesia that this set of islands remains at the top of their list in terms of its raw beauty, culture and friendliness towards cruisers. This short 4-5 day passage to Rarotonga (plus another 4-5 days upwind return) allows us to buy the extra time we would like to have in French Polynesia before sailing west toward Niue, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand – and being able to share this beauty with friends and family.

When we started this adventure, our blog was entitled: Athanor Expedition, A Year of Exploration. Today that changed to: Athanor Expedition, Our Exploration of Land and Sea. We are truly blessed to explore the world in this way - even if we do have to use a camp shower. ☺

We’ll write soon!

Susan & Rob