SV Tanga

no experience necessary

21 November 2015 | Vuda Point Marina, Fiji Islands
03 November 2015 | Savu Savu, Fiji
23 October 2015 | Savu Savu, Fiji
29 June 2015 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
12 June 2015 | Musket Cove Marina, Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
19 September 2014 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai, Fiji
05 September 2014 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
17 August 2014 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
26 July 2014 | Savusavu, Vanua Levu Island, Fiji
06 July 2014 | Nananu-i-ra Island, Viti Levu, Fiji
04 July 2014 | Nananu-i-ra Island, Viti Levu, Fiji
01 July 2014 | 17 23.614S:177 '47.72E
30 June 2014 | Port Denarau Marina, Fiji
25 June 2014 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai, Fiji
29 May 2014 | Port Denerau Marina, Fiji
21 May 2014 | Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
19 May 2014 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai, Fiji
23 April 2014 | Musket Cove, Malolo Lai Lai Island, Fiji
08 April 2014 | Port Denarau Marina, Fiji
05 March 2014 | Vuda Marina, Fiji

Vanilla Bean Sex in Tonga

14 November 2012 | Opua, New Zealand
Back in our previous life, the only exposer we had to vanilla flavor was the extract in a bottle variety that was used mainly for baked goods. In Polynesia, vanilla plantations are popular tourist attractions, which we didn't visit, but that is when we learned how expensive a single vanilla bean is. We have also come to learn why they cost so much. Also, any vanilla ice cream in Polynesia and Tonga is so superb, a deliciously rich vanilla flavor rather than the watered down milk vanilla flavor found in the states.

Vanilla beans look very much like a coffee bean and grow on a vine. Each vine has from 1 flower up to several flowers spaced about 3 feet apart from each other. Each flower, after pollination, produces only a single bean. Thus the production is limited to number of flowers that get pollinated. A typical flower plant requiring pollination is left to nature aka, let the bees pollinate for the farmer. In Tonga and Polynesia there is no bee that does this, so each flower must be pollinated by hand. After pollination, the bean grows and then 1 by 1 gets harvested and then put through an elaborate drying process where each bean is turned, again 1 at a time, to dry out.

One night, while at Big Mamas on Pangaimotu Island, we were discussing this with Big Mama and she told us that she has 5000 plants on the island that they maintain for an average annual yield of 3-5 kilos of beans. We expressed an interest in learning the pollinating process and she invited us to the next day's hike into the bush to find and pollinate some vanilla flowers. The flower only opens at dawn for about four hours, so an early hike was called for the next day.

The tools are simple:
• a "spider stick" to remove webs that always seem to be at face level in the jungle
• a toothpick for the sexing/pollinating
• lots of bug spray repellant

At 8am the next day, we head off with Big Mama into the jungle to locate the plants. She has them growing wild in about four locations so finding them is pretty easy. Then she showed us each how to do it. First you grab the "organ" between two fingers and slide the toothpick under the head. Then squeeze the organ onto the toothpick and poof, you have just pollinated one flower. A good worker can do this around 50-70 times an hour, with the biggest challenge being locating and reaching the flower.

We're hoping to add some new pictures in our Tonga gallery will help show some of the vanilla bean sex.

Vessel Name: Tanga
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan OutIsland 415
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Tom and Monica
About: Hi and welcome to our website. We are beginning our new journey in life of sailing around the world. Please follow along with us in our new adventures.
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