Tumultuous Uproar

A cruising boat with a racing problem...

Bora Bora, two rescues in one day

26 October 2020
Russ Whitford
Lisa and I dinghied a few miles to town from our mooring outside the fabled Bloody Mary's restaurant. We had a fun dinner there the previous night with live music.

We were about to arrive at the dock and noticed a local boat with engine trouble. We headed their way and noticed another local fishing boat was also running toward them. Yes, they would like a tow. The other fishing boat was happy to continue fishing. They had work to do, we had none.

Surprisingly, the skipper spoke English. He thought there was water in the gas that killed his engine. We towed the 3,000 pound boat about ½ mile to a dock. He was very appreciative. Later as we were walking down the street, he drove by and asked our boat name. “Uproar!”

After some shopping, we decided to sail to leave Bora Bora's busy downtown and head to the SE corner of the atoll. That involved about 10 miles of sailing or motoring and negotiating some shallow reefs and channels. But it was a beautiful day and the water is so clear, we could easily see rocks to avoid.

A few miles from the anchorage we spotted another fishing boat with the hood off the engine. This was a smaller boat with two teenage boys. I asked Lisa to slow down and just continue at idle. I hopped in Houdinky and motored over to the boys. Yes, they would like a tow (all in French of course). They pointed to a rough, concrete dock. We tied up and started toward the dock.

The younger boy was sitting on the bow, laughing like crazy that my little dinghy was towing their boat. As we approached the dock, a car pulled up. I'm pretty sure they had called mom and dad for help. The parents were most appreciative that we rescued their boys. Rescue is a bit strong. There was no wind and they were just floating in the calm lagoon.

I motored back to Uproar and Lisa grabbed my bow line. We continued to the turquoise anchorage. Two rescues in one day.

Mopelia, day nine, wood shop class

26 October 2020
Russ Whitford
Mopelia day 9, September 27.

More woodworking.

Lisa mentioned to Magali that I would teach the girls to make dovetail boxes. We got a call on the radio this morning asking if I was ready for the lesson. Fortunately, I had prepared the stock for their boxes the night before. I have some rough planks of Pis Pis wood on board. Pis Pis is really the Polynesian name for this light weight wood. The closest North American species would be basswood or butternut. It would be easy for the girls to work with. But first I had to saw the rough pieces to width and resaw to the correct thickness. Resawing by hand is a lot of work. The saw cut must be accurate or the planks are quite uneven. They are always come out far less than perfect. My hand planes did a good job of making the planks flat and uniform thickness. It filled the cockpit with shavings too.

Anouk and Alize arrived at nine. First, we had a discussion about the Golden Ratio. This is a ratio of about 1 : 0.6 that is commonly found in nature. Early builders found using this ratio when designing structures or furniture was pleasing to the eye. The girls had to perform an algebra problem to determine the dimensions of their box, using the golden ratio and ½ meter of wood they had at their disposal.

They eagerly attacked the wood with my router plane to cut the grooves for the top and bottom plywood. Then they sawed the plank to lengths for the front, back and sides. These were squared up on the shooting board with a block plane. Finally, the dovetail cuts could begin. We examined completed boxes and determined how the dovetails would be cut. Three hours later, the dovetails were cut. That was quite a lot of work so we decided to end the lesson for the day.

Lisa returned from a beach walk with the ladies with of all things, more shells! She is loading Uproar for the shipment back to the US. She hopes to make some concrete sculptures, using the shells for accent and decorations. We will pack Uproar with hundreds of pounds of shells. After all, the shipping is not going to cost us any additional. I'm going to shop back some local lumber as well.

A previous visit to Norma brought up discussions of ships that had wrecked on Mopelia. Norma had a bottle full of ballast stones from an ancient Spanish ship. These were small, smooth stones that had been polishing in the surf for over 100 years. They appear to be granite or marble, certainly not a local stone which is either volcanic or sedimentary, limestone. Lisa found the beach at the south end littered with these stones. There can be no mistaking that these are ballast stones from a wreck. She collected a dozen more. She also found some iron parts encrusted with coral that appear quite old. We will research this further. It would be interesting to learn more about this hapless Spanish ship.

We had a quiet dinner of duck magaret with vanilla sauce and fried potatoes with onions and tumeric. We fell asleep halfway through the hilarious movie, Pricilla.

Mopelia, day eight, the atoll of homesteaders

25 October 2020
Russ Whitford
Mopelia, day eight, September 2

Chris from Le Pukeko, has been here for about a month. He and his family have gotten to know the people on Mopelia quite well. He explained to me how Mopelia "works." We had already perceived the rivalry between the Harry/Norma family and the extended Marcello/Adrienne family. The families compete to "claim" the cruisers as their friends. We have been careful to spend time with both families and certainly enjoy the hospitality that comes with it. Rava and Teraix in the south kept asking us when we would move south. They gave us the delicious plate of smoked fish and local beer a few days ago.

We moved south today and didn't do much else. I'll get back to the history and workings of Mopelia. Mopelia was a France Meteo, weather station in the 1950's. Apparently the French government owned all of Mopelia. This is quite unusual as we are told every atoll, island and motu is owned by some Polynesian family. After Meteo abandoned Mopelia, ownership was turned over to the local government administered out of Maupiti, 100 miles away.

The only way to live on Mopelia is to apply for a homestead and promise to produce copra. Homesteaders may not build permanent structures. We had noticed that all buildings are open air with sand floors. There are a few permanent buildings that are remnants of past construction but mostly uninhabitable. Walls are often orange "snow fence" with thatched roofs or corrugated tin. There is only one freezer on Mopelia at Marcello's. He has enough solar to keep it running. There is also a fuel subsidy for everyone here and many fishermen in FP. They pay about $.40/liter of gas or diesel. We pay about $1.40/liter.

Homesteaders are given 200 meters of shoreline and the land to the reef, per family member. Marcello with wife, two daughters and a son (not currently on Mopelia) "own" a kilometer of the eight kilometer motu. Norma and Harry have just 400 meters. The motu is about half kilometer wide from lagoon shore to ocean reef so these homesteads encompass a lot of land.

Another benefit to homesteaders is free transportation and transportation of copra and supplies. But they only get a supply ship once/year when they have harvested 14 tons of copra. We heard that Norma, mayor, is encouraging Piere to work harder. They need everyone to produce to get that supply ship to pay a visit. Norma showed us the communal, satellite phone which she has charge of. She keeps a book with records of who uses it and for how long. The homesteaders don't have to pay for their air time until the copra is sold.

We also learned that Marcello used to be the mayor but somehow, Norma wrested the position from him. It is a strange situation and vibe among some of the homesteaders. We are sorry to know there is some discord among them but there can be no doubt how outgoing and generous they are to cruisers.

Mopelia, day seven, Happy Birthday Alize!

24 October 2020
Russ Whitford | weather a little cloudy, going bike riding.
Day seven, September 25.

Birthday Party

I started the morning working on more Mahogany boxes. Lisa suggested I make two boxed for Anuk and Alize to decorate with shells, like Lisa does. It is more fun to make something when you have a person in mind to give it to. Anouk rowed over in her dinghy, asking if we could help her clean a tarnished chain with a pearl pendant. She wanted to give it to Alize for her birthday. Lisa tried soaking in vinegar and a few other chemicals.

While soaking, Anuk became interested in my woodworking. She wanted to know all about it and pitched in to help as I was finishing up the second box. I was just chiseling out the dovetail joints and we fitted the box together. After measuring for the plywood top and bottom, we cut the pieces and beveled the edges. Trial fit, then we glued it together.

The first box was glued up the previous day. We marked the box for cutting the lid off and carefully sawed along the line. This is the most precise part of box making. Then we drilled for the magnetic latch and rope hinges. The rope hinges are my invention because we ran out of brass hinges. three mm line is glued into the back of the box and pulled tight through the lid. They work well but care must be taken so the lid and box line up properly. If it is off a bit, sanding the sides even the box/lid joint.

We completed the box. Anuk asked if I could teach her and Alize to do all the steps and learn dovetailing joints. Looks like I have two more students. The chain wasn't coming clean so Lisa and Anuk dinghied to 2K where Kaia made a braided necklace for the pearl pendant.

Tonight was the birthday party for Alize (14) at Marcello and Adrienne's house. There were 14 for dinner around their large table. But first, we played some beach games similar to Kubbe and the French favorite, Petonk, similar to Bocce.

The table was piled high with lobster, coconut crab, fish cakes, rice, cous cous salad, poisson cru, sourdough bread and lively conversation. Napkins are never used at meals. I have a hard time with this and sneak some in my pocket. I don't like my beard and hands dripping with food but no one else seems to mind. All was delicious and there was plenty. But before we dug in, Marcello gave a short speech, thanking us for joining them and appreciating our friendship. He then murmured a prayer. His voice and rhythm of the Polynesian language projected a mystical, spiritual tone over our gathered community.

Mopelia, day six, trigonometry

23 October 2020
Russ Whitford | Weather is perfect today
Mopelia, day six, September 25.

School day on Ecole Uproar.

I mentioned the evening before that I could teach some trigonometry to Alize, 13 and Anuk, 15. They readily agreed. The two girls arrived at 9:00am sharp on their paddle board. They were wearing matching outfits their mom made for them. There is something remarkable about boat kids. They are comfortable in any surrounding. They are not shy or self-conscious around adults. These traits will serve them well in life.

I had no idea of their math skill level so had prepared a few problems involving Pi, Pythagoras Theorem, etc. They had a working knowledge of these and the necessary algebra. They had learned in French so their mother Magali, was anxious for them to learn some technical English. They spoke perfect English as their dad, Chris is from NZ.

We treated the lesson like we were ancient builders and had no knowledge of Trigonometry. We drew a unit circle and devised our own trig tables. We then used those trig tables to solve some problems. The final problem was to determine the length of Uproar's backstay using only a protractor and horizontal measurement from mast to transom. I said we didn't want to have to haul them aloft to hold one end of the tape and used trig instead. They were attentive and involved for the two hour lesson and I sure enjoyed working with bright, enthusiastic students.

The evening was on 2K, playing more Farkle and Mexican Train dominos. Kini left this morning to beat back to Raiatea. I think they have picked some good weather. Wind should shift from NE to SE. They planned to start out on port tack and tack onto starboard when the wind shifts. That would be playing the conditions just like a racer. Bon voyage.

Mopelia, day five, fixed Kevin's boat

22 October 2020
Russ Whitford | Weather is perfect today
Mopelia, day five, September 23.

Lisa, Magali, and Kaia went to shore for more shells today. Kjell and I dinghied about a mile to Kevin's homestead to fix his skiff. It had two holes in the bottom and he had no coli (glue) to fix it. I had epoxy and Kjell had some fiberglass.

Kevin was most pleased to see us. He had resurrected his piece of soggy fiberglass from the barrel and it was drying in the sun but we decided not to use it. Kjell and I set to work, cleaning out the holes and sanding the surrounding areas. We filled the holes with bunched up glass, soaked with epoxy, then filled them in smooth with thickened epoxy. We retired to the shade and drank from the coconuts Kevin cut for us.

Norma rode by on her bicycle and stopped to chat. I asked the names of the people we had met south, yesterday. She wrote them down on the flap of a cardboard box for me. We are beginning to know everyone here, who they are related to and other tidbits. Norma said she was cleaning the road. Imagine the major of a city, riding her bike to clear coconuts off the road.

The drunk lady we met the day before was named Hina. She lives near the community house, we haven't visited there yet. I asked if she had a husband and Norma said, "no." I asked, "pourquoi pas Kevin?" Why not Kevin? They laughed and Kevin vehemently said no!

Kjell and I tested the previous patch work to see if it was hard. It was hardening and scalding hot. We laid three layers of glass cloth over with more epoxy resin. It looked pretty good and will certainly work until Kevin bashes another rock. Unfortunately his beach is rocky. But he has a boat lift that will keep his boat from harm.

That evening we all gathered on Le Pukeko for cocktails and Farkel, dice game. Pascal and Inez from Keli had sailed up from the south and joined us. We were shocked when Magli offered Pascal a beer. She said, "We have only one beer left but you may have it." What a fiend for taking their last beer. They still have two months before they will visit a store! The next day, I gave Chris a six-pack.
Vessel Name: Tumultuous Uproar
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau 42s7
Hailing Port: Milwaukee, WI
Crew: Russ Whitford & Lisa Alberte plus Sophie our Jack Russell Terrier
Tumultuous Uproar's Photos - Main
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Uproar FULL ON in the North Channel! Picture by Rick Pask.
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