11 September 2007 | 19 03.32 S, 169 55.47 W, on a mooring
A special hello to Vera and George, we are thinking of you.
We are here in Niue, an independent little island country in the South(west) Pacific. It's little for a country, but not little for an island. Twice as big as Rarotonga but only one fifth the population. (That clears if up for you doesn't it?) That's what the Niue tourist booklet says anyway. Steen and Malou went ashore this morning to go to the bank and to buy a few supplies. I've got the boat to myself; a rare occasion.
I'm behind on some things I had wanted to put on the blog, so I'll write those first, before the description of Niue; besides we just arrived last evening, and have been ashore only briefly to check in and get a cold Coke. Actually, the Niue blog will have to come later, because we never even finished the Palmerston entry, not to mention the history of the Marquesas that I wanted to submit about two months ago. We are always traveling, which includes meeting mew people, being entertained, entertaining others, cleaning and re-cleaning the boat, (which gets very dirty), thinking up suitable gifts for our island hosts, (very important), trying to study about the next stop. These things, as well as provisioning - always provisioning when the opportunity arises; whether it's at a small 'magazin' (the small French Polynesian convenience markets), or at a roadside veggie stand, you're always looking out for those needed ingredients to refill the cupboards or for that something special to break out on a long passage.
Probably like the travels of most people...it's wonderful, but sometimes tiring, and getting it all written down promptly is not always realistic. So here's to catching up, bit by bit. (I should use a voice recorder you say? You're right.) Why don't I? I think we have a digital one; I'll see. Even if it's just to record a few words to help jog my memory. Ok.
MALOU-SPEAK: Malou, who will be three in October, is now referring to herself in third person as "the little princess". "The little princess is thirsty", or... "Mom, the little princess is sleepy." When Steen says "Malou, could you please pass Daddy the jam?", she'll reply, "you mean your little princess?" One would think that we have all the Disney princess movies on board, but we don't have a single one; not Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, the Little Mermaid or Snow White. She does have the books Little Mermaid and Cinderella. Maybe little girls just embrace this stuff, I don't know. I'm sure Princess Mary from Denmark gets asked all the time if she ever dreamed of being a princess. Denmark's crown prince Frederick married Mary, a regular girl from Australia, (actually Tasmania, I think). So, it can happen. A sweetly innocent thing about Malou's current phase is that, since naturally a princess has to wear a princess dress, so must Malou, so whether wearing her old, new or hand-me-down cotton dresses, her only question to us is, "Mom, do you like my pretty princess dress?" Yes, sweetie. (I guess it's still ok to call her Sweetie).
THINGS THAT BROKE:
We had such a good run, not breaking any gear since leaving Seattle last year, except of course the autohelm belt, I forgot about that. Some of our fellow cruisers were surprised that we didn't have to repair or replace anything when we reached Papeete, (where you can buy boat parts and most anything else). No, we were doing well...until we hit a reef while in the dinghy, bending our outboard propeller, (taking a good chunk out of one of the blades), and shearing apart some plastic do-hicky that's supposed to break in order to save the main parts...hm. So, that was in Moorea, wouldn't you know it, the stop right AFTER Papeete.
After breaking the outboard prop, next came: The refrigerator: that's a real bummer; no cold drinks, salad dressing, various condiments, and of course no freezer, but the freezer never really froze anyway. The problem? Well, we're not sure but after trying to fix it ourselves, we will now have a technician look at it in Fiji.
Next came: A leak in the fuel tank: of course we had just filled up in Tahaa, so we were carrying 90 gallons. Thankfully...it seems the leak was a small one. It has now stopped, so it must not be leaking from the bottom of the tank. Also, thankfully, no bilge water got into the tank...so no water in the fuel - good. We carry 20 gallons on deck, so if we had lost the whole tank, we could have motored into a harbor if needed.
Then: The batteries stopped charging properly - after the fuel leak stopped, we ran the engine one day and our amp gauge wasn't rising as it should. At this point, Steen starts getting a little agitated. We're not really used to things breaking, because back in Tacoma, Steen took apart and repaired or replaced most everything before we left. (I might add that he worked on the boat nearly every evening and weekend for three years...) That sounds like an exaggeration but it's not; just ask my family who called on the telephone regularly, and every time when asking what Steen was up to, he was always "working on the boat." Of course, we lived on the boat, so I still got to see him, sort of.
So that turned out be a bad regulator, the thing that keeps the batteries from overcharging and burning themselves up. We have a spare combo alternator/regulator on board - our old one - we can use for now.
Anything else? We chafed through a couple things - that happens fast. And something got a hold of the line that we trail behind the boat that is part of our tow generator; maybe a fish, maybe a shark, but luckily the line didn't sever, only gnawed, and we didn't lose the towing blade.
Oh Yah! That's the other thing? Our wind generator blade spun itself right off the boat, into about 200+ feet of water, (no diving for that.) It could have landed in a thousand feet, since it happened while we were anchored just near the ledge of the Palmerston Atoll, that drops from 40 feet to thousands in a very short distance.
THINGS WE LIKE:
1. Again, Malou's car seat. I'm sitting in it right now, with the laptop in the cockpit. It's stripped of it's velour cover and now has a Thermarest thrown over it, more weather resistant. It is by far the most comfortable place to sit while en route, and great in port as well.
2. Towels: Our friends aboard Tuscany have quick-dry bath towels from REI. We don't, but wish we did. Not necessarily large ones - hand towel size would work fine for us.
3. Upholstery: Our advice to cruisers: Don't be tempted to use real leather for upholstery if you're going cruising. We have seen what happens to our leather belts and shoes. Totally mildewed. There may be some treatment to help prevent mildewing, but in the hot humid tropics, I wouldn't risk it. Our upholstery is a very soft-handed faux leather on top of the cushion with matching vinyl on the bottom. What's been great about the vinyl is that if we are dirty, sweaty, or having kids over, we can turn the cushions around to the vinyl side. The faux leather also wipes clean pretty well, but it's not water-proof like the vinyl side. Also, with a high quality vinyl, it doesn't feel sticky in hot weather, but nice and cool on the skin. When we get back to a cooler climate, the softer faux leather side will be much more comfortable than cold vinyl.
4. Latex foam pillows: They breath and they're great.
5. Provisions: Nutella, don't leave home without it. (although you can buy it here too.) Classico brand Pesto sauce - very handy and lasts forever. Canned tomatoes (for some reason neither Mexico or the South Pacific are big on canned tomatoes, although you can sometimes find them here.) Canned red pepper: If going to Mexico, stock up on canned red bell pepper, if you like them. I haven't seen them in the States, but in Mexico, they had canned whole red bell peppers - very good and great with tomato/bean stew or in tabouli. Anything from 'Rainy Day Foods' (look online). They sell dehydrated foods, TVP, powdered eggs, powdered sour cream, and such. We really like their products.
Of course we can't forget Trader Joe's, for those of you living on the west coast. (Our favorite grocery store). Basically anything they carry will be appreciated on board or as gifts for hosts or fellow cruisers.
That's a long blog, but we've got a lot to catch up on. Hope you are well, and talk to you soon,
Angela and the captain and crew.