Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and their OVNI 395

11 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
10 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
08 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
08 July 2020
07 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
06 July 2020 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
05 July 2020 | In the Pacific, east of Tahiti, French Polynesia
04 July 2020 | South of Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
03 July 2020
01 July 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
30 June 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
27 June 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
26 June 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
25 June 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
25 June 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
23 June 2020 | Raroia Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
21 June 2020 | Raroia Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
20 June 2020 | Raroia Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
19 June 2020 | Raroia Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
18 June 2020 | Raroia Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

In Retrospect

11 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Our trip is by no means over, but we are now drawing breath at the end of seven and a half months of travelling. We have covered about 7,000 miles, visited seven countries and numerous islands and have now reached one of our major destinations: Tahiti, which feels like the hub of the South Pacific.

We have enjoyed having guests on board with us since leaving St Lucia in early January and Kate and I are now pausing for a while to get used to being just us on Barracuda again.

We have a small amount of maintenance to do but Barracuda has just been amazing and has really taken care of us. We will try to do the same for her.

Despite the onset of Covid, we have achieved about 90% of what we intended to do so far. The major differences are that we spent a lot more time in the Galapagos and did not spend quite as much time in the Tuamotus as intended. But otherwise we have to be very thankful for what has been possible.

We were reflecting on the ‘Sliding Doors’ moment when everything changed in mid-March, and how things might have been different.
- If Kate had booked a flight to leave a few days earlier for her ‘month off’ then we would have been apart since then, she would have missed much of French Polynesia and now would be our first opportunity to get back together - if she could even leave the UK. Her ‘month off’ would have become four.
- Had Andy made it through to the Galapagos just one day earlier, this week would be his first opportunity to get back home to Kerrie.
- Dave and Lesley made it into Santa Cruz with a few days to spare, but ended up spending a lot longer than expected in the Galapagos and French Polynesia.
- Many boats planning to cross the Pacific this year just never left the US west coast or Central America.
- Tahiti would normally be busy with tourists but in fact it is quiet (and rather pleasant).
- We thought that our ARC friends would be well on their way round the world by now but we have caught up with many of them again as most can’t get past Tahiti.

Funny old world.

Today's photo is of some local musicians who entertained us this afternoon - really excellent.

Dave and Lesley are homeward bound

10 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
This blog comes to you directly from Dave and Lesley as they leave Barracuda after nearly 4 months and about 4200 sea miles.

*******

This trip has been everything and nothing like we thought it would be. We’ve seen and done things we had never dreamed of and made many new friends along the way - both in the cruising community and on the islands we visited.

Our top three highlights of the trip have been;
• Starry nights on passage
• Making landfall in Nuku Hiva after 21 days at sea
• The best and most varied snorkelling ever

We learned a lot and Graham and Kate are fantastic hosts - they really know how to make crew feel welcome! We’ll definitely use the skills we learned as we plan, provision and welcome crew to our boat.

After an inauspicious start - 6 weeks at anchor in Santa Cruz when Covid restrictions began - we ended up with 6 weeks and 800 miles more than we had planned.

People say that crossing an ocean changes you - we’ll need to ponder that, at least until we get home. We’ll get back to you.

Fair winds and following seas to Barracuda as she makes west towards New Zealand!

Exploring Papeete

08 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
We have now been in town for a couple of days and nights and the culture shock has still not worn off. Having shops and restaurants on our doorstep is a bit strange.

We have been dividing our time between boat works and getting to know the city. One pleasure was catching up with some World ARC friends last night. Many of the ARC boats are still around as they can't head west yet either, so Papeete continues to be their base; some have have been exploring the Society Islands and the Tuamotus as well. An impromptu pontoon 'docktails' party started up last night, so we had a chance to catch up with lots of folks including a few friends from other boats we have met along the way; it seems that all roads lead to Tahiti.

We have been walking the streets and industrial parks, finding the chandleries and hardware stores to get the spares inventory back up to scratch, and also enjoying the market and architecture of the city.

Papeete is a bit scruffy but at the same time has an elegance we have not seen for a while. Many of the ladies wear long flowing bright floral dresses and big hats, or flowers in their hair; there are loads of men in flowered shirts. The young French are chic and fashionable. There are pearl shops everywhere. There is a booming café culture. Alongside all this is a Polynesian overprint with ultra-friendly people waving Polynesian greetings and it all just feels very nice.

Night Time Manta Ray

08 July 2020
Graham Walker
A bonus picture today. We were walking home from dinner and came across this manta ray gently cruising around. Had to share.

Tahitian Delight

07 July 2020 | Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
We awoke today after a very solid night's sleep to the noise of a bustling, traffic-filled city. We have not been in a big town, much less a city, since Panama. Suddenly we have access to restaurants, shops, buses, supermarkets, boulangeries and everything else that many would like to take for granted in their daily lives in normal times. Fresh breakfast croissants - luxury! High on our list is finding a good laundry - but there is time for that. We are (just about) in a marina tied up to a stone wall and hoping to get a proper berth, but the demand is high so not sure if we can stay here for long. Anyway....

We have now completed our immigration check-in with the police, so both we and the boat are legal. We were never able to do that in Nuku Hiva when we arrived. It also means that Dave and Lesley can fly out without questions as to how they got in; and it gives us more flexibility later in the year if, for any reason, we have to stay in French Polynesia longer than planned.

We have now completed just short of 7,000 miles on this trip since we left Grenada, and around 4200 since we left the Galapagos Islands. Whangarei in New Zealand is still our ultimate destination, if the NZ borders open (there are moves in that direction but nothing firm yet). As the crow flies, that would be 2,200 miles; a route via Tonga or Fiji would be a little longer but obviously give us shorter legs (as it were). So we are about ¾ of the way through our planned trip and roughly where we hoped we would be by now. Given the events that have overtaken the world during this time, we feel very lucky to have been able to do this trip at all.

We are now going to stop and take stock whilst we catch up on a little boat maintenance, and then relax and enjoy Tahiti's pleasures.

Land Ahoy!

06 July 2020 | Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
Well that is us in Tahiti - and legally in the country as well! More of an update in due course.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

05 July 2020 | In the Pacific, east of Tahiti, French Polynesia
Graham Walker
We have a full moon at the moment and last night’s sailing was just been amazing. Never in our lives have we sailed in such bright night conditions. It just does not get dark, and you can see everything on deck when working. The moon has been up all night, reflecting off the waves and lighting up the sea. Totally magical. Only the brightest stars make it onto the celestial ceiling in these conditions.

They say the best time to pass through the Tuamotus is during full moon to give you the best visibility on the atolls at night, so we managed to achieve that two nights ago.

We are now down to 135 miles to Tahiti which will take about a day (and a night) if the wind holds; we are looking forward to all that Tahiti has to offer.

As an aside, we’ve been discovering new things to do with coconuts. Having been gifted three green coconuts and one brown one in Makemo, we then had the challenge of opening them on the back of the boat – that’s another story – and then processing the contents. So far we’ve had coconut and cabbage slaw, coconut stir-fry and salted roasted coconut chips; we’re working on drying some grated flesh for ANZAC cookies and some chips for granola, and I’m sure we’ll come up with some other inventions soon. We had a delicious coconut and garlic sauce for fish in Hiva Oa that we’d like to replicate – but there’s a sad lack of fish in our bit of the Pacific just now.

Under way for Tahiti

04 July 2020 | South of Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
We left Makemo in the early afternoon yesterday. We watched the flow in the pass for a bit from our anchorage and it seemed to be calming down as the tide was going slack; by the time we slipped through it was running about half a knot against us which is perfect for navigating a pass with its erratic currents. Ideally you want to have something to push against to stay straight. Then it was sails up and off, bound for Tahiti (that sounds quite cool, don't you think?).

We were still very much in the middle of the Tuamotu atolls so we had to navigate our way carefully around these through the night. By mid morning on Saturday we were passing south of Fakarava, ready to head across the open water to Tahiti with another couple of days and 250 miles to run.

We will likely come back to the Tuamotus. We have only seen two out of many; in a sense they are all quite similar and in another sense they are very different. This is classic remote French Polynesia; coral fringed atolls full of turquoise blue water with great snorkelling, sandy islands and palm-frond horizons. The villages are small and remote. They are serviced by supply boats (monthly for Makemo, weekly for Fakarava) and occasional planes if they have a runway. The villagers who live on the atolls we have visited are super friendly. They speak a lovely laid-back leisurely French, which makes life simple too.

The thing that has taken us by surprise here is the weather. We have been seeing about 50% down time waiting on weather. We are being affected by weather systems well to the south of us that cause a strong wind (a Maramu) to come through every week or ten days. This means that you need to be constantly thinking about where your next sheltered spot will be. Even as we head for Tahiti on this trip we know there is another one due in on Tuesday so we need to be in shelter again before then. It's not time wasted as you can see from past blogs, but it is a bit limiting.

As we leave the Tuamotus we are heading for the third of our FP island chains: the Society Islands. Best thing about Tahiti �" Carrefour! Our first proper supermarket since Panama!

Ready to leave Makemo

03 July 2020
Graham Walker
The time has now come for us to leave Makemo. We have enjoyed our final coupel of days with some snorkelling and visits with friends between boats. These periods of confinement whilst waiting on weather can be very sociable. At the same time – so long as we are sufficiently protected we can get out on the water for some snorkelling. We saw a new fish on the last swim – it was a juvenile Emperor Angle Fish – really stunning. Last night we were taught the dice game of Farkle by Venture Lady.

Today we were up early and away through the bommies to the village for some shopping and a WIFI catch up (hence the blog photos) and in a coupel of hours we plan to head out of the pass and start a three day passage to Tahiti. Given the weather systems that are forecast for the next couple of weeks it is now time to move and get ourselves in position for Dave and Lesley’s flight in just under a couple of weeks.

Beach Party

01 July 2020 | Makemo Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
Yesterday one of our French boat neighbours came by to let us know that there was a lunch bbq planned on the beach, and all boats were invited. There is a shack and cleared area in amongst the palm trees owned by a local gentleman called Hubert, and he was kind enough to let everyone use his ‘garden' and hut for the bbq. There were crews from about 10 boats there (French, British, Swiss and Canadian) with an assortment of food on a large table, and a very fine time had by all. It's one of the few times we've really wished for a freezer, as the fine local mahi, French sausages and Canadian steaks hit the chicken-wire grill. We met up with our friends on SY Tao again; we first met mid-ocean between Panama and Galapagos and we have not seen them since Nuku Hiva. In the afternoon we played some inter-boat boules. The British team put up a valiant showing but were pipped to the post by the French experts.
In the evening we went over to the Anglo-Swiss catamaran Lollipop for dinner. Passing between boats in the dinghy in the dark when the wind is blowing side on at 25 kts is a different way to go out for the night; it was a wet ride over and a wetter ride back. Our hosts served us raclette followed by ice cream �" totally delicious - how they managed to put that together in the middle of nowhere we will never know. We were all rather envious of their table top candle powered cheese melters and, once again, their freezer.

The wind seems to be dropping and the weather improving so would it be too much wishful thinking that we might be seeing the end of this weather system soon?

This morning we went over to a coral garden area for a snorkel. Our first spot proved to be too shark infested for us to feel comfortable swimming there so we moved to another where the corals were really stunning but the current from the swell breaking on the reef was really strong so we gave up and went back to base. Another day perhaps.
Vessel Name: B
Crew: Graham and Kate
About: Learning as we go....
Extra: Look to this day for it is life...
B's Photos - Main
81 Photos
Created 30 April 2016
60 Photos
Created 16 September 2015
a pre-retirement holiday
19 Photos
Created 21 June 2015
some shots from our lovely trip around the Aegean with Ailie
8 Photos
Created 16 January 2015
9 Photos
Created 19 July 2014
2 great weeks with Steve and Bibi Rainey.
11 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
A long weekend with Catherine and David.
4 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
4 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
14 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Barracuda, K & G head south to a new home.
14 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Barracuda does the Western Isles of Scotland.
12 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Kate and Graham Chillin'
7 Photos
Created 18 July 2014

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