Rapturous!

01 April 2020 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
22 March 2020 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
21 March 2020 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
19 March 2020 | MarinaTaina, Tahiti
09 March 2020 | Santiago
08 March 2020 | San Pedro de Atacama
22 February 2020 | Fitzroy and Torres de Paine
02 February 2020
29 January 2020
16 January 2020
03 January 2020 | Santiago, Chile
30 December 2019 | Rapa Nui
12 December 2019 | Marina Taina
13 November 2019 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
29 October 2019 | Marina Taina
22 October 2019 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
18 October 2019 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
16 October 2019 | Marina Taina
30 September 2019 | Papeete Marina
26 September 2019 | Marina Papeete

March 31 update

01 April 2020 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
Susan Wells
Update March 31

We are still in lockdown at a mooring ball near Marina Taina. The lockdown has just been extended until the end of March. It is doubtful that the Pacific Islands will open up to cruisers in the near future maybe not for the entire season. The only place for us to go would be Hawaii. However, at the moment we're better off here so we will hang tight.

The infection rate has remained pretty low. There are now 37 confirmed cases on Tahiti and Moorea- with only 1 case so far in Rangiroa. One person is hospitalized and another was released,presumed recovered, yesterday. About 420 people are in quarantine.

We go snorkeling almost every day. It's actually funny to watch the liveaboards get their exercise. The gendarme quittin' time is about 4:30. The teenage boys on the catamaran near us wait until the last patrol and then jump joyously into the water, usually naked. Dinghies drop from their Davits and wetsuited divers head out towards the reef. We just swim from our boat. Noone comes anywhere close to others so we are all respecting the spirit of the law. The coral isn't great this close to the marina and we don't take the GoPro but there's always something new to discover. Turtles and spotted eagle rays are quite common. A couple of days ago we came upon a sleeping lemon shark. It was at least 8 feet long and granite grey colored with a big flat head. It was lying on the sand half hidden by a Coral head.We've never seen anything like it. We had to use a fish identifying book to find out what it was. The problem is that it was definitely not yellow but the shape and behavior was exactly as described online. The GoPro would have been really useful and we should go at midday. Well, we've got plenty of time to change our routine.



Update, Sunday March 22

22 March 2020 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
Susan Wells

We are not going to be kicked out of Polynesia. With our long stay visas we are allowed to stay but we have to observe the lockdown just like everyone else. There are now 18 confirmed cases in Tahiti and still no cases on other islands. The containment appears to be working. We will not leave for Hawaii tomorrow.

The lockdown requires that we stay on the boat as much as possible and that the boat doesn't go anywhere. We can go onshore for food or medical treatment or exercise but we have to have a form with us on each trip, stating our reasons. Of course, we don't have a printer, so we have a photo of the blank form. If the gendarme asks us, we will present the photo and point to the relevant box. We haven't tried this yet. We're hoping that showing willing will be sufficient. As of yesterday, other cruisers had not even been asked for the form.

So what are we doing cooped up on our 40 foot boat. This morning Greg pulled apart the cockpit speaker system to see why one of them was not working. The speaker is corroded. We could probably get a replacement in Papeete but there isn't an appropriate box to check on the form. He also repacked the sack of dinghy parts so that it isn't lying below my bunk where I step on it every time I get out of bed. He ran the rigging lines back to the cockpit through pvc pipes lying under the paddle boards so there is less friction when we finally go sailing again. I swept the cabin floor, folded and put away the laundry and did an hour of offline Duolingo to brush up my French. Oui, gracias. Now we are both hiding from the noonday sun, sleeping, reading and writing. At about 3 o'clock we will take the dinghy out to the reef and go snorkeling. There are no gendarme out there and we can tick the exercise box. Then back for Captains Hour.


Update March 20

21 March 2020 | Marina Taina, Tahiti
Susan Wells
Tahiti has just announced a lockdown. There are now 15 confirmed cases of the Virus. We are confined to the boat, but we are fully provisioned and we are ready to leave for Hawaii.

This is a good time of year to make the voyage. It will be a beam reach sail and we're going to have Rick Shema as our weather guy. He will be running big weather models for us and letting us know the best time to leave and the best way points to follow.

On Monday we will apply to the Haut Commisaire for clearance to leave. They might refuse because they'd prefer to have us leave our boat and put us on a plane out of their territory. The Haut Commissaire has given cruising yachts 3 choices. Arriving boats who have just crossed the puddle can anchor in Nuka Hiva to reprovision and make repairs and then they must leave to Tahiti where a mooring will be found for their boat while they are flown back to their country of origin. Alternatively, they can leave Polynesia to go wherever they can find refuge. The third option for those who have long stay visas or who have been here loner than a month is that we can stay, but we may not move. That was the news as of this morning but we just heard that we long stay folks might be forced to leave our boats and find accommodation ashore. Why they would want that is debatable. I think will take option 2 and go to Hawaii. They are so worried and busy, they probably have no time to give an exit clearance so we may go without one. 5We shall see!
Meanwhile the really bad news is that I dived overboard with my glasses on, again! I have my prescription sunglasses, so it's not all bad, but if we get to Hawaii, I will be visiting Walmart again for another pair. And why did I do such a stupid thing? There have been squalls passing over and they've kicked up waves that are breaking over the reef. The oar on our dinghy came loose and I saw it drifting away. Well, what could I do but dive in to retrieve it. A 50 dollar oar versus 300 dollar Walmart glasses. Shit!

Quick update

19 March 2020 | MarinaTaina, Tahiti
Susan Wells
Complacency is never a good idea. COVID- 19 has now made it to Tahiti. There are 6 cases on the island of Tahiti and none yet on any other island of French Polynesia. The government want to keep it that way. They have banned all non-essential travel between islands meaning we are confined to this area.

We are healthy and having been on the boat for two weeks now, we're pretty sure we don't have the virus. We had already provisioned to go voyaging so we have plenty of supplies. It is beautiful here, but hot. We're moored about 100 meters offshore so there is usually a breeze to cool things down. (Not at the moment, though.) The water surrounding us is turquoise and about 80 degrees. It's really clear even though we're close to the marina. There are hardly any motor boats and no jet skis to disturb the peace. On shore is a fancy resort with bungalows over the water. It is deserted, dark at night. Although the freeway is not far away and we're close to the airport we hear very little traffic. We've probably found the best place on the world to be.

If they let us stay! The latest announcement is that all foreign nationals must go back to their country of origin. We're not sure whether that means sailors living on a boat. The problem is there's no place to sail to. All the islands in the South Pacific are closed. The Cook Islands are closed, Tonga is closed, even New Zealand has closed its borders. The only option would be to sail to the nearest American territory, Hawaii, 2,390 miles away, 14 days sail.

Santiago, one last time

09 March 2020 | Santiago
Susan Wells
It's a good thing we had given ourselves 4 days in Santiago before departing Chile. What with the global pandemic, protests in Santiago and the International Women's Day march, we needed the time.

Our first indication that life was not going to be simple was at the airport where the taxis refused to take us. We'd unwittingly booked a hostel two blocks from "ground zero" where the ongoing protests have been centered. The taxi drivers didn't want to go anywhere near it, but a more expensive transfer van promised to get us as close to the protest as possible. Oh joy! I tried to imagine two bewildered tourists with heavy bags wandering around between the stone throwing protesters and the tear gas trying to find the hostel. But, he was able to drop us just half a block away and we ducked through the wrought iron gates and were pulled inside a double locked door. The hostel was charming, simple, unpretentious, clean and quiet. What a relief.

We went out later that evening for dinner and got caught in a waft of tear gas. With eyes burning and nose streaming we hurried back to the hostel where we were commanded by our host to take off our glasses so she could spray cold lemon water in our faces to wash the tear gas out of our eyes.

Chile has been relatively isolated from the Corona virus but not so the rest of the world. The day before we left Atacama we had found out that French Polynesia had instituted a requirement for all people, citizens or not, coming to or even transiting through Polynesia to have a certificate of health issued within 5 days of arrival. We flew into Santiago on Thursday and anticipated that Friday would be spent trying to find a clinic and doctor who would give us this certificate. A phone call to the US embassy informed us where to go and we were able to make an appointment for 10:00 am that day. The health check consisted of taking our temperature and ensuring that we had not been anywhere near any affected country. By 11:00am we were done. The metro took us near where we used to live but as we exited we found the gates closed. Only one gate was open on the far side of the station. A crush of people gathered at the bottom of the stairs. We had no idea what was happening. Eventually we exited safely and heard the chant of people up the street. A protest march was coming towards us. The authorities closed the metro so they couldn't destroy it. It turned out that these were high school students still in their uniforms, just out of school. Their march was choreographed and scripted. It was in no way threatening.

Later that Friday evening, back at our hostel near ground zero, the protest was much more threatening. Again, the street in front was barricaded and the protesters had set fires in the middle of the street. They kept rushing the police who responded with tear gas cylinders. We watched through the lead glass windows as the struggle went back and forth. The struggle only ended after midnight. As far as I could find out, neither police nor protesters were seriously wounded.

The next day we had booked an excursion with our guide and friend, Ramón who had led us up Aconcagua, Cajón de Maipo and el Pintor. He arrived early to pick us up, driving through the ashes and broken pavement. I'm not sure he approved of our choice of accomodation. Ramón took us up to Mirador de los Condores where we were able to watch the condors wheel and roost below us. What a relaxing contrast it was to the choas of the previous two days.



And it wasn't over because the next day was March 8, International Women's Day. A huge march was planned which inevitably turned into a massive protest. Over a million women dressed in protest purple with green scarves supporting the abortion fight in Argentina gathered just two blocks from our hostel. I joined the beginning of the march until it got too crowded. The mood was upbeat with lots of painted, excited women and girls singing, chanting and taking selfies. I didn't see any anger, but by late afternoon most of the women had gone home and the protesters and police played cat and mouse until late into the night. Helicopters thumped overhead as we watched the armoured police vans being bombarded by bits of broken pavement and they responding with water cannon and teargas. This time there were arrests and structural damage but I could find no reports of police brutality or woundings. (Ramón, correct me if I'm wrong)

Finally we left Chile the next morning. We will have an 8 hour layover in Rapa Nui arriving in Tahiti at 12:30am glad to be back to our boat leaving the pandemic and the war zone behind.
We will be back to slow internet, few photos and no facebook posts.








Atacama

08 March 2020 | San Pedro de Atacama
Susan Wells
Licancabur volcano at dusk. Guardian of San Pedro

After 6 weeks of Spanish instruction we bid our fond farewells to the wonderful teachers and interesting classmates at Escuela Bellavista. We are happy with our progress and determined to keep up the Spanish. Never mind that we're returning to French speaking Polynesia. Somehow we'll download Spanish movies and podcasts because we really want to spend more time in Latin America. And there's always Duolingo if we can only find the bandwidth.

Meanwhile, we had a last trip up North to the Atacama desert. This trip was also arranged through Adventure Life. We found out later that the owners of our lovely boutique hotel in San Pedro de Atacama and the owner of Ecocamp in Patagonia are good friends. Likely, the director of Adventure Life is a good buddy of theirs. Whatever, we have benefited greatly. We have no complaints.

San Pedro is disorientingly like Santa Fe in New Mexico about 30 years ago when we first saw it. The buildings are all flat roofed adobe, the streets are unpaved and dogs bake in the sun at every corner. Here, at least, there are no chickens. The whole town is dedicated to tourism. Souvenir shops sell alpaca garments and bright woven fabrics, restaurants serve empanadas, cazuela (stew), pastel de choco (tamale pie), and ubiquitous pizza. The small town center and plaza is pedestrian only and the streets are packed with serious hikers in boots and desert hats or sunburned sun worshipers in sandals, shorts and spaghetti straps with big hats. We opted for the long sleeved, long pants fashion statement.

We had 4 tours booked for our time in Atacama. Unfortunately, none of them required any hiking - tour bus only. The vast distances and very diverse landscape necessitated ground transportation. Wow, what landscape! Volcanoes stretch from North to South as far as we could see rising to 20,000 feet and more. Most are topped by snow even in summer. There are two active volcanoes near San Pedro releasing trails of steam and gas into the intensely blue sky. To the West, the third largest salt flat in the world disappears into the haze. Almost lost in the haze, the lithium evaporation ponds add definition to the emptiness. Only two towns hug an oasis connected by a single road. Near each, ancient Incan rock wall terraces ascend up the slopes hinting at how much wetter the weather used to be.

It does rain in this part of the Atacama. The moisture comes from the Amazon basin on the other side of the Andes. Most falls on the mountains but every now and then a band of clouds will sneak through the peaks to rain heavily causing flash floods and washouts. The towns don't seem to have dams or reservoirs but San Pedro has grown hugely straining the resources of food and water. Each one of our guides expressed concern about its sustainability.

One night, we went to dinner at a place called Delices de Carmen, a hole in the wall recommended to us by our guide, Yasu. We had been there before and Greg had zeroed in on a dish being delivered to a neighboring table. It was a sizzling platter piled high with meat; beef, pork, chicken, chorizo, blood sausage and other less identifiable proteins. Our waiter discouraged us from ordering this dish meant for at least 4 people and besides that, it was our lucky day. The restaurant had been invaded by three tables of Russians! Of the five wines offered, two had been sold out. We settled on a shrimp saute with French fries and the same saute with mushrooms and salad for me. Of course we had a bottle of Castillo de Torro Reserve Carménére to smooth the way down. The Russian cohort was not as easily satisfied with the available wines and ventured out into the night to track down better bottles at the local botelleria. Apparently they bought several because the noise level increased dramatically after they returned.

Here are some photos of the area; check out the photo gallery for more under the Atacama folder.

We return to Santiago for a couple of days before heading back to Tahiti.


Volcan Colorados one of the many volcanos along the frontier of Chile and Bolivia


Each one of those peaks is a volcano along the frontier


Fast asleep in the sun


Miscanti lagoon. It's called a lagoon because there is no stream flowing into it


The geysers 14,000 feet at dawn


Greg drinking mate at the geysers


The Rainbow valley
Vessel Name: Rapture
Vessel Make/Model: Caliber 40 LRC
Hailing Port: Berkeley, CA
Crew: Greg Newman, Susan Wells
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Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora
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Created 9 June 2019
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50 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
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Photos of the boat, people and places in the Bay.
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Created 24 June 2017
Memorial Weekend 2017 Greg, Susan, Mike and Toni Spicer, Nick Spycher
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Created 23 June 2017
29 Photos
Created 21 May 2016
July 25 to August 15 San Franciso, Half Moon Bay, Monterey, Morro Bay, Cojo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, Santa Barbara Island, Catalina.
15 Photos
Created 23 August 2015
The Food Saver vacuum sealer is a really useful device. The aluminum packs contain a 2 person serving. They just need to be defrosted and thrown in the oven - no prep work required. We could bake all 3 at once, or the crew that is sleeping can bake theirs when they wake up.
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Created 24 June 2014
Memorial day cruise from San Fran down to Monterey, but we turned West at Santa Cruz for about 50 miles before tacking North for a direct beam reach back to San Fran.
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Created 18 June 2014
The second overnight cruise. San Fran North West to Pt. Reyes, then south cutting east to Pillar Point and back to San Fran.
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Created 18 June 2014
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Created 6 May 2014