Little Green Boat

Spruce visited Japan and Alaska in 2018 after time spent in the South Pacific, NZ, Australia and Asia.

06 June 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
06 June 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
31 May 2020 | False Pass - Gambiers - French Polynesia
31 May 2020 | False Pass - Gambiers - French Polynesia
24 May 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
24 May 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
16 May 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
06 May 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
08 April 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
02 April 2020 | Still On Passage
30 March 2020 | Still On Passage
26 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to South Pacific (Day-15)
24 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to South Pacific (Day-13)
23 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-12)
22 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-11)
21 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-10)
20 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-9)
19 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-8)
18 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-7)
17 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-6)

Breezes, Gales and Squalls for Capricorn

06 June 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
The last blog posting mentioned that we were making towards the island of Taravai. Our plan was to anchor in a sheltered spot before a region of compressed isobars between high and low pressure areas developed and moved eastwards, along the northern fringes of the southern ocean.
Mission accomplished, but violent squalls on night two gave crews aboard the eleven boats taking refuge in the same anchorage much broken sleep. Three boats recorded gusts of 60-65-knots within squalls of 40-knots. Shifty winds caused vessels to heel alarmingly from side to side. Two craft dragged anchor but reset themselves without issue; the bottom is excellent holding in fine sand and heavy silt. Our anchor dug itself deep. We moved to a slightly more sheltered spot in the north of the bay the following morning; the anchor reluctantly pulled out of the seabed by motoring back and forth once the chain was up-and-down.
This morning, after four days being pounded by strong squalls, the stormy weather continues. Periodic momentary lulls are broken by the next squall hurtling across the bay. Sometimes wind strengths are ameliorated by heavy rainfall. The photo shows a Dutch ketch, Lucipara-2, through driving rainfall. The duration of this spell of turbulent weather is remarkable. Although, we hear this is quite normal during the southern winter for these fairly modest latitudes: just north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Spending time below while cuddling a hot beverage as wind howls in the rigging and rain hammers the deck is an unexpected pleasure for June in The Gambiers.

Breezes, Gales and Squalls for Capricorn (cont)

06 June 2020 | Taravai - Gambiers - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
As described in earlier blogs, the produce grown here is bountiful. A visit ashore to Edouard's, during a short lull between weather fronts yesterday, enabled us to purchase locally grown and wonderfully fresh oranges, mandarins, lemons, breadfruit, bananas and pumpkin. Sue is definitely smiling at her hoard and not the lashing rain seen behind.
Breadfruit has unfavourable associations in the UK due to the history of the Bounty. Captain Bligh's unsuccessful first attempt, later achieved, to transport Breadfruit to the Caribbean as food for slaves, belies this food's versatile nature. It is a wonderful substitute for potato, we think much tastier. However, the fruits cannot be stored for long without turning to mush. They are ideal for tropical environments where they grow much of the year.
Paw-paw (aka papaya) coupled with onion, chillies and few other choice ingredients will be used to cook a batch of chutney that will last a few months. One of the ways to while away the next few days until more clement weather returns.
Several of the boats still here are waiting for a favorable weather window to travel north into the Tuamotus. News on the SSB radio net reports gale force winds have been experienced by boats 500 miles north in Hao and other islands. There is a major problem with winds coming from different directions when located in atolls. The wind-fetch across a lagoon may be tens of miles and large waves may batter those unfortunate enough to be anchored in a non-sheltered leeward spot when the wind shifts.
Spruce will head that way eventually , but not for a few weeks more.

Happy Sprucettes

31 May 2020 | False Pass - Gambiers - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
The recent visiting supply vessel brought our new shroud wire. It was rapidly fitted and checked for size. All is now tensioned and our rig has a big tick for fixed. The autopilot is still in transit. A precise delivery date is still unknown.
With the change in emergency measures several sailboats have already departed northwards into the Tuamotus. We have gone off into the wider archipelago and are enjoying snorkeling, swimming and generally being anchored in some splendid turquoise vistas. Terns, noddies and occasional frigate birds fly by. Fish leap into the air, no doubt escaping predators chasing from below. The French Polynesian government recently published a list of yachts registered as being legitimately within the region. The key message is that the list includes those who were either already in French Poly or accepted as being on passage when the Covid-19 restrictions were imposed. Spruce is on the list and we are all welcomed and urged to go cruising throughout Frecch Polynesia.
Eggs are one commodity with a good local supply in The Gambiers. Here is a photo of Yves with one of his fine hens. In total he has 250 of them whose collective purpose is to lay some 200 eggs per day; he can supply consumers directly (call Monsieur Yves on VHF channel 16) or they can be found in several of the local shops. In common with many of the local inhabitants around Rikitea, Yves also has a productive garden. This sub-tropical climate favours bananas and papaya all year round. More seasonal crops include aubergine, lemons, grapefruit, oranges, breadfruit, ginger, pak-choi, tomatoes. For those who choose to grow their own produce a high degree of self sufficiency is easily achieved. The hungry months normally associated with winters in northern European climes are not a problem just north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Although the temperatures can be quite cool with the southern ocean just over the horizon.

Happy Sprucettes (cont)

31 May 2020 | False Pass - Gambiers - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
This photo of Spruce was taken from the motu named Apou, just north of the runway on the eastern side of the archipelago which is atop Totegegie, running along the outer reef. In the distance are the islets of Kamake and Makaroa, they are 10-miles away and almost at the far side of the group, although the fringing reef beyond those islets is permanently submerged at a depth of between 2-10 metres. A little farther the seabed drops off into the oceanic abyss, 3000 metres and more deep. Behind the camera a beach of white coral sand a few tens of metres wide gives way to jagged lumps of broken coral. Off the eastern perimeter more ocean quickly falls off into the ocean depths. The Gambiers are a relatively small oasis of islands and shallows surrounded by deep blue. Today we moved a coupe of miles south to anchor near False Pass. A dinghy ride through a shallow coral strew passage took us to the ocean side of the reef. Snorkeling in 10-15 metre depths offered sightings of many sharks: white and black tips plus several greys. Groupers were also abundant plus a bonus of a couple of Napoleon Wrasse accompanying the myriad fishes. The coral looked healthy with little signs of bleaching: perhaps the cooler water in the more southern latitudes has held the more equatorial signs at bay.
Winter may well be coming closer, but we expect weather to be rather like a good British summer. When the wind blows from the south a chilly 23C can be expected, when from the more equatorial north a muggy 28C will be the norm. Winds clock right around the compass and can be rather strong from the south and the north, however, there are sheltered anchorages for all conditions, it is merely a case of watching the weather and moving around the archipelago. On Tuesday we shall move into the lee of Taravai, winds of 35knots from the northerly quadrant are expected from mid week.

Awaiting Suppplies

24 May 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Sue takes a look in the kitchen at Philippe's, the local Brioche Baker's establishment. As one taps away at a keyboard, using his wifi connection, the enveloping aroma of freshly baked loaves is ambrosial. There is also a baguette baker in Rikitea. To secure loaves for breakfast requires a 5am collection. With an eye to potentially expanding waistlines, we are rationing ourselves strictly on portions of French style breads and pastries.
At the moment a Maramu wind is blowing a stiff breeze from the south. This will back into the south-east and then east over next 3 days, but remain at around 20-25 knots strength. Sporadic rain squalls bring stronger blasts of wind, sometimes at 30+ knots. As the winter closes in, the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) near the equator moves farther north and, in tandem, the westerlies in the southern ocean come closer. Even though we are at the latitude of the Tropic of Capricorn,the interaction between huge winter depressions down south, and the trade winds to the north cause these intervals with stronger winds. Accompanying the breeze are 3-4m swells pushing north from the awesome oceanic expanses towards Antarctica.
This oceanic archipelago is remote, situated some 900-miles SSE from Tahiti, the administrative centre of French Polynesia. Chile lies 3,500 miles to the east, New Zealand off to the WSW 2,600 miles. The closest neighbour is Pitcairn Island only 300 miles in the direction of South America. A mostly submerged fringing reef with a few motus (islets) provides an excellent breakwater for the scattering of islands sheltered within. The largest Gambiers island, Mangareva, is where the main village of Rikitea nestles at the foot of a steep rocky hill. Trees hug the slopes in a pleasant array of shapes and textures: pines, mimosa, and nearer to houses shiny dark-leafed breadfruit deliver a marked contrast in late afternoon sunshine. To the south of the anchorage Mount Duff overlooks a bunch of yachts patiently awaiting arrival of the next supply ship.

Awaiting Suppplies (cont)

24 May 2020 | Rikitea - Gambiers - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
The last visit by MV Taporo, one of the two supply ships that service Rikitea, was around 3-weeks ago. On the last visit we bought a 200-litre drum of diesel fuel; this was decanted into jerry cans to transport back to Spruce using our dinghy. The vessel has a large tank of diesel on board, that is pumped into (what looks like 500-litre) containers to be transported to the local electricity generating station. Sailboats who want fuel must buy in 200-litre units. Typically a number of crews from smaller boats will get together to share the minimum quantity. We carefully planned usage and emptied jerry-cans to accommodate the full amount.
The next arrival of the Taporo will follow close on the heels of a sister ship, the NukuHau. Our replacement rigging wire, swaged and constructed in Tahiti, is reported by the rigger to be aboard for our collection. Payment for an order for our new autopilot has gone through successfully. That item will arrive in Tahiti at the convenience of the shipping gods....then to be onward sent with a future Taporo schedule to get it brought to The Gambiers for us to install.
The restrictions on inter-island travel within French Polynesia have been lifted. We understand that cruising will be possible providing the authorities at the intended destination island are willing to accept visiting boats traveling from locations within French Polynesia. Apparently, new arrivals from outside French Polynesia must make Papeete in Tahiti their first port of call. Information continues to be vague with detail filtering through gradually, rules governing the revised situation should become clearer in the coming days. It expected that many of the thirty-five cruising boats presently in The Gambiers will sail north for the Tuamotus and warmer climes.
In the meantime, once we have installed the rigging wire, we shall be able to cruise the local archipelago and visit some of the more remote anchorages... as weather permits.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges and hoped to learn to speak more Spanish. Unsuccessfully:-( Maybe this year?
Extra: During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-18 brought us from Asia to Washington State via the Noorth pacific Rim. In 2019 we aim to cruise BC and then head south to Mexico.
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Spruce's Photos - Isabela Galapagos 2.
Photos 1 to 119 of 119 | Main
Thata a fine hair cut!
Looking towards isla Tortuga.
Shell and the remains of pencil urchins.
A sally Light foot crab
Oh its all just far too much trouble!
A lava tunnel.
Green Heron
Tunnel of mangrove roots.
A collection of Boobies of the blue footed kind.
The rain is coming!
The wall of tears
A land crab
Anyone for fresh pineapples?
Locala tansport.
A good place to hang out.
Carolyn from SY Macha shows how big the tarrow plant is.
Paw paw.
cruisers ready for a posh meal at the Hauser
A sour sop fruit.
Sues swims with the turtles.
A Hawksbill Turtle.
A young Pelican keeps an eye on us.
A Flightless Cormorant.
Julio the captain.