19 April 2018 | Anchorage, AK
We're 26 days from 8 May, our departure date. Both Conni and I are getting a bit nervous and anxious about things. You'd think that this was our first trip rather than our 5th year in the South Pacific!
I ordered a new raw water pump today, the "just in case" item that's been gnawing at me for months. I did my best and spend a lot of money trying to rebuild the old pump, but to no avail. Without more details, the shaft was frozen into the bearings and no method by either my friend Peter or I could budge it. Damn!
We've purchased almost everything that we had listed. That's good. The problem, as usual, is trying to get it all packed! Holy smokes! I made a boarding ladder, for example, since I couldn't ship one, and it takes some space.
Our crew is set, finally. Our friends Robin and Hillary learned that they got seasick, so excused themselves early. Our West Marine friend, Julia, is excited to go with us and will meet us in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, and make the long uphill beat back to Bora Bora in French Polynesia. She'll then stay with us another two weeks. We're very excited that she'll be with us. She'll be a real asset.
I've designed a T-shirt that we'll have printed. They look nice, I think, and they're printed locally so we can have a set made anytime we want or need them.
We'll be staying, once again, at the Pension Tiare Nui on Raiatea. The boat's been watched by a wonderful young woman who's been doing a good job, or so we hope.
More later when we're further along.
06 July 2017 | Pension Tiare Nui, Raiatea
We spent the last night aboard while hanging on a mooring at Marina Apooiti, the same from which we ferried Nate and Val to their flight. It seems that the Marina Apooiti port captain doesn't mind our staying on their moorings without paying, but the use of their showers and other services requires payment. We needed nothing so just stayed aboard.
We knew that there was a “water entrance” to the airport since we had seen the dock each time that we had been there. With so many passengers arriving and departing by boat, it made sense to us for there to be a pass in. Shoot, if you lived on Taha'a, you'd have no option but to arrive by boat, since that's the only transportation between the two islands. Conni and I stood at the side of Apooiti to watch for boats going into the pass as we awaited Nate and Val’s showers before they departed, and fortune allowed us to ascertain the entrance by watching several small vessels journey in. When it came time to deliver Nate and Val to the airport, we all bundled into the dinghy (four people and two sets of luggage) and motored to the pass entrance. To say that the pass was poorly marked was an understatement! There were some sticks protruding from the water surface but sporadically. Everyone scoured the surface of the very muddy water to watch for rocks, but we still hit hard enough to stop the engine on several occasions. My fear was that we'd break the prop and be without engine propulsion.
We were fortunate, and never damaged the propeller, and finally reached the airport dock, tied up the dinghy, offloaded everyone, and got N&V checked in. Afterwards, we strolled to the bar or a beer. Originally, we had planned to take Nate and Val to the “Gold Sail”, the good but expensive restaurant at Apooiti, but for some reason it was closed until August. Conni packed for them a few sandwiches for the trip, but we were sad that there was no opportunity to give them a better send off.
The day after our guests departed, we did depart Apooiti for a few hours and motored a mile past the Carenage, into an area that we had not previously explored. After seeing some interesting bays, we returned to Apooiti for the evening. Squalls had swept past us most of the day, so we didn't feel too bad about staying put.
Actually, we had planned to catch a mooring just outside the Carenage, but our selected and last available mooring was grabbed as we explored. A return to Apooiti was just the thing.
Our pull from the water was scheduled for 8:30 AM, so we awakened early to complete the necessary preparations for the pull. We still didn't get everything done! They know us and we know the drill, so in an hour, Wings was in her cradle, we had electricity
, and had started chores.
I won't bore anyone with details of the pull since it's far from our first. Wings is on her cradle now, where she'll be the next 9 months.
Our host at the Pension Tiare Nui, Raihau, met us at the Carenage as promised and Conni joined him for a trip back to complete paperwork. After her return and a few hours of hot work, we drove into Uturoa for groceries and we were both struck by how well we know Uturoa and how comfortable we are walking around and shopping. We know the stores, what each does better, and we know the rhythms of the town.
We're here at the Pension with Internet, an air conditioner, a stand up shower, and, on sunny days, lots of hot water. The next week will be filled with work in the heat and grime of the Carenage yard, someplace that we know well. At day's end, we can return here, get clean and cool, and even take a drive into town for the occasional meal at a roulotte, the food wagons. Dominique, the owner, dropped by to great us with his excellent English, “Welcome home!” And we do feel as if he's right.
The roosters are still here, and it still gets hot during the day, but those irritations have become routine. Interestingly, we have decided to delay our return next year by two weeks, at least. The weather has been so improved in June and July that we feel that we can radically improve our time here if we move it later.
04 July 2017 | Apooiti Bay
Bill with Conni
This afternoon, we took Nate and Val to the airport here on Raiatea. We enjoyed an Hinano with them at the tiny shop at the airport, and returned to Wings.
We've been traveling for several days around Taha'a and Raiatea, but no laptop and no Internet have stymied any attempt to post a blog.
To update things, the last activity that I had mentioned (1 July) was a visit to Uturoa for fuel and baguette. We walked around town to find a few needed grocery items, and I found a serviceable pair of sandals since my good ones failed in Tapuamu Bay.
The fuel was a bit more complicated. We had docked at the Shell station in downtown Uturoa but unaccountably, the station was closed: like France, business closing at odd hours is part of life. I grabbed the fuel jug and set out on a quest. The first station was also closed, but perseverance and a 1.5-mile walk finally succeeded. On the return, the five gallons of diesel seemed heavier and heavier, so I called Conni with our new walkie-talkies, and she dispatched Nate to carry the fuel the final 1/4 mile. With the fuel loaded, we headed South to Taputapuatea, the holiest marae in French Polynesia.
Our preferred location and mooring were occupied, so we headed to the next bay to the south: Hotopu’u. We had stayed there earlier, just the two of us, and had even used the pass, Teavamoa, opposite the bay’s entrance. The next morning, Conni felt terrible. Nate had inoculated both of us with a virulent virus and I was a day ahead of Conni in the healing process. Nate, Val, and I motored to the shore and strolled to Taputapuatea, walking the serene grounds and reading all of the excellent signage.
The next day, Sunday, we motored back to Taha'a since Conni had finally made arrangements for Nate and Val to join a Vanilla Tours outing with Noah. We motored to Hurepiti Bay, on Taha'as SW side. It's a lovely bay but wet and open to SW winds.
On Monday morning, we dropped off N &V at the Vanilla Tours dock and enjoyed a peaceful Conni and Bill day of chores and reading. Nate, Val, and Noah had gotten along famously and Noah had invited us back to the Plantier Home for drinks. Nate and Val had brought a bottle of California champagne so we contributed that, some olives, some Camembert, and baguette. After the champagne was gone, we started on a bottle of excellent Pari-Pari sugar cane rum. Umm! At 110 proof, a little goes a long way, but it's the smoothest and most interesting rum I've ever tasted. We finally begged off and motored back to Wings.
After a relaxed morning, we slowly motor-sailed. Ack to Raiatea and found a mooring just outside of Marina Apooiti, the home for the Moorings and Sunsail charter companies. Payment provides a key to STAND UP SHOWERS WITH HOT WATER, Wifi, and a solid mooring.
Nate and Val needed to be at the Raiatea airport for a 6:45 PM flight, so we decided to take them by dinghy to a water entrance at the airport. We had never used it, but had seen the water taxis and other craft tied there. As we waited for them to shower, Conni and I watched for boat traffic that might indicate the route to the airport water entrance and were rewarded by seeing several boats negotiate the entrance. We departed on time and motored to the entrance, but found that the water was very shallow and the channel poorly marked. We attempted the path and suffered two propeller hits. Since there were boats and pilots with local knowledge behind us, we relinquished our place in line and followed them in. It was a first for us and since so many people travel by boat, the route is necessary. It was a neat way to see off our last guests of the leg.
We're here on the Apooiti mooring tonight and if weather permits, we will return to Ha'amene Bay. If not, we'll circle around Raiatea in this direction since we've never traveled past the Carenage. Tomorrow night will be our last night aboard.
First Crossing and Return to Hibiscus
01 July 2017 | Tapuamu and Ha'amene
Blog 29-30 June 2017
On Thursday, 29 June, we dropped the mooring at Bora Bora Yacht Club at 9:50AM and arrived on a mooring in Tapuamu at 5PM. Since I've been discussing lure choice and trolling issues with my friend, Andrew, as we motored out of the Bora Bora pass, I immediately dropped the pink squid lure and proceeded troll as we sailed. The pink squid is a surface popper and seemed a good choice.
We had prepared the boat for the crossing and had raised the main, so as soon as we cleared the sea buoy, we deployed the jib and began our windward sail back to Taha'a against the usual ESE winds.
The wind was a brisk 15 kts and we were making in the high six and low seven knot boat speeds. We had just settled for a fast trip when the reel began to sing. I jumped for the rod and Conni began to depower the boat. Luckily, I got a good set on the fish and was able to reel it aboard even before the boat stopped. It turned out to be a small tuna of some sort: there are so many fish unknown to me I can easily identify only a few. Conni and I feared that it was a skipjack tuna, with which we had become familiar in the Sea of Cortez, and that we thought tasted too strong for consumption.
I filleted it and stored it in the fridge within five minutes to give us the best chance of a good meal, and we returned to sailing. We sailed to within a few miles of our chosen entrance to Taha'a and we turned on the engine and tacked to a usable course for the pass. Conni took us through the pass and the seas immediately dropped as we entered the lagoon.
Conni and I were worried about fuel, not having any spare aboard. We've decided that we'd prefer to have the tanks empty rather than have to deal with contaminated fuel, so web
Be been sparing in adding fuel, and had no spare five gallon jug. We had motored longer than planned and knew that we were close to the end of the fuel, but fortune smiled and we were able to reach our old friend, Tapuamu Bay. Surprisingly, we found it absent any other boats. Having ridden out a week's storms last year, we knew that bay and surrounding areas. We grabbed a mooring, shut the engine and enjoyed the remaining evening.
The fish was good but not great, but sufficed for dinner, along with a white burgundy that Philippe had bought for us. I took some photos of the fish while it was still a fish, and would have used my extensive fish photo files if my laptop worked. Grrr.
The engine had heated the saloon enough that I spent the first part of the night in the cockpit, then moved below when things had cooled a bit. Usually, the boat cools and dew glass or it rains, and I am driven back to the cabin.
During morning coffee, we saw that we had been joined by a 75-foot catamaran from Texas. This huge vessel’s name is Wild Berry, so presumably the family name is Berry. A dinghy trip to Tapuamu allowed us to stop and talk to the captain, a Scot named Anthony. The boat was built and complain Poland and the family joined the boat as it passed Texas on it's way through the
Panama Canal. A generator was constantly ejecting cooling water from her hull, so we guess the boat and crew enjoy the air conditioning. I'll bet that it's magnificent below.
Our plan was to grab some fuel and a baguette and motor to our next destination along the lagoon. It was not to be. We were able to grab five gallons of water, but the gas station was closed for some holiday and the minimal store had no baguette.
We enjoyed the remainder of the day by walking around town. At some point, we passed a small fruit stand and I negotiated the purchase of bananas and some papayas. The vendor, in the Polynesian way, also gave us some breadfruit that we're unsure how to prepare, and the entire batch of fruit came to us in a truly lovely handmade palm frond basket. In retrospect, we now think that a large spider, a cane spider, was along for the ride.
As we were enjoying cocktail hour in the cockpit, Val, a stalwart woman, emitted a screech and said that she saw a huge spider! How could there be a spider of that size aboard and be unknown to us? Conni convinced her that she had seen one of the large but docile wasps common here. Sleep came.
The next morning, Conni and I jumped in the dinghy and headed to Tapuamu for fuel and water. Water, no problem, but they did not accept credit cards, now. Damn! We were able to buy only 1.5 gallons, although we had actually looked in the port fuel tank the previous evening and knew that we had at least ten gallons. At low RPM, we use only a hall gallon per hour!
Conni and I had wanted Nate and Val to join Noah Plantier on hiding vanilla tour, but if they were unable, they would miss the vanilla-growing information and a visit to Pari-Pari, the rum distillery. After the abortive fuel run, Nate and Val joined me in the dinghy and I motored them to Pari-Pari, just across the bay from the town of Tapuamu.
The Pari-Pari staff gave their usual spectacular presentation and gave a good idea how the vanilla is grown, harvested, and cured, then their unique rum-production process. Like us, they purchased some rum. On return to Wings, we removed the outboard from the dinghy in preparation for towing, slipped the mooring, and motored north in the lagoon.
Weather deteriorated as we traveled, with squalls slicing across us frequently. We passed Patio, the administrative center of the island, the on to the Love Here pearl farm, where we used their mooring. A correction to our understanding: “Here” in their name is Tahitian for “heart”, and works well with the English word, “love”. We think that it's a clever double entendres with the two languages. The Love Here staff also provided an excellent presentation of the pearl farming process and both couples bought a few trinkets as gifts. Prices, since the grow the pearls and make the jewelry, are very good. We motored on.
We finally reached Ha’amene Bay and took the remaining Hibiscus Hotel moorings. We motored to the hotel and reunited with wonderful Leo, the colorful owner. As I think that I mentioned, Leo is only six months past open heart surgery, so is weak, but he still oversees the operation and set us up with cold Hinano and Wifi. We arranged for a 7:00PM dinner.
We were joined at dinner with 7 people from a Moorings catamaran and a couple on a Dream Yacht Charters mono-hull. Served buffet-style, the menu included a squash soup, served hot with granted coconut; salad; gratin of taro; couscous with lamb; and an entire grilled Parrot fish each. Dessert, if one could hold it, was pamplemousse and a yellow-fleshed melon. We had consumed a bottle of White wine, in keeping with the fish main course. After dinner and light conversation, we staggered to the dinghy for the ride home.
Then the spider reappeared. Both women had reboarded when Nate and I heard screeches and oaths. We climbed into a cockpit empty of our shipmates, both of whom were on the foredeck by now, but the sparser, admittedly the largest I've seen outside a zoo, perched on the binnacle cover. A mad death squad search ensued, with the inevitable result of oohs and ahhs about the size of the dead spider held in a paper towel. There was a less than reverential burial at sea. Val was vindicated.
We motor to Uturoa for fuel and BAGUETTE! today, then on to see Taputapuamu, the Holy of Holies on Raiatea.
27 June 2017 | Bora Bora Yacht Club
We're still on Bora Bora, and moored at the yacht club. Last Saturday , Conni and I motored Debbie an Philippe to Viatape for their departure ride out to the airstrip motu. They were great guests, and we enjoyed having them with us. We hope that had as much fun.
We had an evening with the two of us, a normal, quiet evening, and on Sunday, we motored back to Viatape to fetch Nate and Val back to Wings.
Nate is an HVAC engineer for an Anchorage firm who has been contacted to ConocoPhillips, and Val teaches for the Air Force. We met them through the Seward Yacht Club, and Nate traveled with us from Bora Bora to Rarotonga during our trip West to Fiji. Both are accomplished outdoors people, low maintenance, and ready for any adventure. The cost in money and time to reach Bora Bora are so substantial that we're honored for anyone to join us, and not a little anxious that we can provide the great vacation that they have every right to expect!
They had arrived last week in Papeete, since they had decided to see something on their own of Tahiti. They found an Air BNB room, rented a car, and saw more of Tahiti than we have. Smart folks! The day after they leave us, we take Wings to the Carenage to begin the decommissioning process and the trip is over.
Yesterday, we repeated the bike tour of the southern end of the island, spending a few hours at Matira Point beach. The water was its usual beautiful color and temperature and the snorkeling was great. After a quick rinse in the public shower, we biked back to the pizza place with the wood-fired pizza oven and enjoyed great pizza, cold Hinano, and wonderful conversation. After a ride back to Viatape, we dropped the bikes at Avis and motored back to our bay and Wings.
The bay in which we sit is protected by a point of land so that we're usually in calm water (other than rude young men riding hell-for-leather on jet skis through the mooring field), but a short trip around the point toward Viatape can put us in white caps and rough seas, and very wet butts. I am usually operating the outbound so I've had to learn where the path of the driest butts is.
We took a long walk today, venturing into Fa’anui Bay. We choose, for some odd reason, the hot part of the day, causing thirst and too much sun. Still getting off the boat is nice.
We leave tomorrow, sailing toward Taha’a.
Driving Around Bora Bora
23 June 2017 | Bora Bora
Although the Avis delivery guy was supposed to fetch us at 8:30, he didn't arrive until 9AM, telling us that despite having both fetched us and delivered us at the yacht club, he waited at the wrong place. Crazy.
We finally departed Viatape at 9:20, after the usual paperwork war with Avis. We elected
Philippe to drive since he likes to drive, is French so the paperwork was simpler, and easily reads signage.
We drove sou from Viatape, driving the route that we had biked the day before. The air conditioning made the trip considerably more comfortable! We continued around the southern end of the island and drove up the east side, seeing a part of Bora Bora that Conni and I had never seen. Wherever we drove, we were constantly on the search for coconuts that we could break into with my cutlass. When we found one, I sliced off the top and we feasted on the refreshing water and the cool meat inside.
Eve. At a snail's pace, we made it around the island in 1.5 hours, it only being 25 km. Debbie read from her guidebook and we followed every interesting lead. Some were successfully, most were not. We tried to find the banyan tree that inspired James Cameron's Avatar tree, but the directions were too sketchy. As we searched, though, I found a short papaya tree and cut several leaf stems to use as straws. Cool! Straws for our coconut!
We followed the directions, and paid $5/each, to see two 7-inch guns from World War 2, a cool thing to see. Since my veteran father died two years ago, this kind of thing has meant more to me. As I looked at the guns in their emplacements, I mused that every planner, every construction person, and most of the guys manning those guns is gone. That great struggle for survival that so deeply influenced me, through my parents, is truly history, now.
We had lunch...actually way too much lunch, at Bloody Mary's bar. It's a local and world famous beach bar, and it was nice to introduce D and P to it.
One interesting entry in the guidebook was the "Marine Museum" that the book claimed was very good but seldom open. We drove by and open it was! Inside was the life-long collection of hand-crafted sailboat models, all to the same scale. Triremes, the Bounty, Slocum's Spray, all in all about 50 beautiful models spanning a 1000 years and worlds of distance. The creator did appear and gave us his impressive story, having started building the models when 17. The museum, then, showcased a lifetime of effort.
We had arranged to leave the car at the yacht club, so we strolled through, hopped I. The dinghy, and motored back to Wings, where we ran the generator until we departed again.
The Bora Bora Heiva ("Hay-eva") is the largest and most important Heiva other then the Papeete event, and we grabbed the opportunity to see an evening of it. The first group wore beautiful costumes with white flower headdresses, and sang a host of traditional songs in Tahitian. The second group, from the nearby Fa'aroa Bay, was a huge troop of dancers, half male, half female. They were fantastic and danced for a full 45 minutes. The male dancers were athletic and fast, performing the traditional male dance by swinging their bent knees in and out with feet flat on the ground, making what appeared to be stylized combat moves with their hands. The females were no less rehearsed and talented, showing their mastery of the hip shake. Both groups had three costume changes, and each had a session to themselves as well as complex dances with both groups on the sand. The drummers were SO fast and synchronized! All of the dancers appeared to be young, between 12 and 20, or so it appeared from the stands. Female tourists flocked to the sand to have their photos taken with the sweat-gleaming male dancers, but the females made a quick departure. We all thought that the very cool temperatures were helpful to the dancers.
Although the stands had not filled for the first group, it certainly did for the Fa'aroa group, and standing spectators were watching ten deep. A sizable part of the Islands's population was present. At $15/seat, we had chosen to sit in the stands, but most stood watching at no cost.
At the end of the evening, we chose to walk the 45 minutes back to the yacht club rather than pay the $30 taxi fare.
What a fine day of enjoying Bora Bora.
Debbie and Philippe depart tomorrow and both Conni and I sad at the leaving. They remain the lowest maintenance guests that we have aboard. They're happy with anything that we do, have boundless enthusiasm for trying new ideas, and require no help or attention to keep themselves entertained. The longer that they've been aboard, the better they've become at helping on boat tasks. They shower in the cockpit with no issues and live in very tight quarters without going stir crazy. Debbie is my one and only sister and I love her, of course, but she is bright and a lot of fun, too. With a PhD in psychology, she is perceptive and articulate. Philippe is a master of plants since he's a landscape architect, and he's the last word in French since he is French. A better match for traveling in French Polynesia couldn't be imagined. We'll miss them.