Niue (Pronounced Ni-Way)

8/11/2017

Seas are up.  6-7 foot swells and wind waves.  Wind is up.  15-20 kts for the first 36 hrs. Which makes for great sailing but too bad about the swell.  We proceed with jib only and frequently not all of that.  The whole trip is fairly overcast but minimal actual rain.  We make good time at 5-8 kts and 26 kts wind astern for the next 36 hrs.  Then the wind dies and we start to motor.

The seas get pretty mild. So the little bit of wind is enough.  Trick is to keep the sails full.  I can do that with 3 kts of wind.  Unless there are seas.  The more waves there are the more wind it takes to keep the sails full.  So tonight with quite mild seas we are keeping the sails full with 11 kts on our port quarter.  And making just over 4 kts.  This will be our last night on this leg.  Expect to arrive Niue just after dawn.  And the Milky Way is laid out so perfectly from the north horizon down to the south.  Keeping the Southern Cross to port we make our way.

8/12/2017

The wind built across the night.  Huub and I furled the main at 4am when the wind got to 22kts and we were making 8.  Strangely enough the ride was quite smooth at that speed.  We arrive and pick up a mooring ball.  And take a nap.  Then we do breakfast and inflate the dinghy.  Customs was easy here.  The dinghy dock is odd.  Concrete pier.  Crane over the side to hoist your dinghy.  Then you park it on the land until you return to your boat.  Small facilities and no beach (boulders only) make this necessary.  Kinda interesting to land this way.

Grocery store seems well stocked.  Except…. No Baguettes!  Lame sliced white bread!  The French never touched this place.  We stock up on everything because Everything is closed on Sunday.  Stores grocery restaurants, everything.  There are 1100 residents.  One stand down day a week is probably a good idea.

We had dinner at a local restaurant with Dan from My Dream.  He sailed here from La Cruz as we did.  Finally caught up with him here.

Rumors.  Of big wind.  Our cove faces West.  Forecast is for 30 kts out of the west on Weds.  That will hammer this little cove.  We might decide to sail around the island Weds.  Seeking shelter by hanging close to the down wind side of the island.  We’ll see.

Rarotonga in our wake

8/7/2017

Our intended departure was Sunday August 6th.  But the immigration office was closed on Friday thru Monday.  More Constitution Day Holiday maybe.  Better luck on the 7th.  Immigration office cleared.  Off to customs office.  Things are going so well. they even take credit cards!  Then they want to see my “bill paid” document from the port where we anchored.  But I have not checked out of the port.  I’m wanting to be sure I succeed with customs/immigration before I check out.  A logical approach but that’s not how it works.  I am sent back to the port to check out.  I get there and it goes well until… cash only Big Nose!  I’m off to the Atm.  But that wraps up the port chores.  And I’m back to the customs office to pay the exit tax.  That’s done.  5 hours later and we are good to go!  I have to say this kind of hoohaa is my least favorite part.  The procedures checking in and out of a country are arcane and a bit random and certainly different every place we’ve been so far.  But so it goes.

While I’m fooling around with exit procedures Nancy is reprovisioning.  Guillaume and Huub are schlepping water and fuel to top off the tanks.  This is a process.  There is no option to fuel your boat at a dock.  You have to carry water and fuel in Jerry cans from gas station and water tap.  Loaded into the dingy.  Row it out 150 feet to STW.  Do it again.

Nancy has decided that the pain and itch of flying to meet us in Tonga is less appealing than just staying on the boat.  That does not go too well and she is cabin bound for 90% of the passage.  I predict more flying for  future passages.  Nancy did the provisioning so had a plan for all the supplies. She did enjoy directing the kitchen processes while prone in the aft cabin.

The last chore is to bring up the anchors.  There be two, bow and stern.  You do this is small anchorages so your boat does not swing much as the wind changes across a day.  For example if you have one anchor and put out 100 feet of chain/anchor, you will swing in a 200 ft circle as the wind shifts.  Not going to work in a small anchorage.  With two anchors you swing almost not at all.  I’ve never laid two anchors before.  So what did I learn.  Anchors you are going to retrieve by hand are a lot of work.  But I eventually got the stern anchor into the dingy.  The bow anchor was too easy.  A windlass is an electric winch that hauls the chain and anchor back aboard.  And it made short work of the bow anchor thank you very much. Maybe I should mount another one on those on the stern…

And we sail off into the sunset bound for Niue.  Nancy makes breaded chicken thighs with pasta.  The seas are calm protected by the island.  Makes for good cooking/dining weather.  But this will change….

All about Raro

8/3/2017

Raritonga is still our new favorite island, but we have places to go.  We enjoyed their “Constitution Day” celebration.   Kinda like 4th of July without the Chinese fireworks.  This day they celebrate by dancing and singing or attending performances of same.  The women dancers wear the traditional grass skirt and gyrate at an improbably rapid pace.  The men also have grass skirts and perform an unusual move consisting primarily of having mildly bent knees and moving their knees close together then wide apart once again at an improbably rapid pace.  All this in formation of perhaps 30 dancers. Ukeleles guitars and Drums!  Oh My!  Very impressive.  Each dance is intended to describe some significant historical myth.  The audience clearly knew them all and knew what was next.  Lots of crowd participation.

We tanked up on water and fuel and food.  We ready.  But the weather is not.  After studying forecasts we decide to delay our departure by 4 days.  Just for fun some whales decided to cavort right outside the harbor.  Breaching and blowing.  I think it’s humpback season.

Rarotonga is a lovely place but not blessed with a lagoon of consequence.  In this context a lagoon is the space between the island and the reef. Bora Bora for example has a lagoon about a half mile wide in places. And deep too.  Rarotonga has a narrow lagoon that is never deep.  So navigable by canoe only.  This means less boats like Spill the Wine visit and no fuel dock.  This island did not come with a harbor.  Their harbor was carved out of the island at some point in the past.  Not too big. 200 foot freighters visited while we were there.  We had to move our boat aside to make room for the tug to spin the big ship in the basin.  Pretty exciting and damn close to us.

Of Radios and Landfalls

7/22/2017

Some of you might remember that STW’s VHF radio was failing.  So Zack brought down another one.  Well the new one exhibited the same unfortunate powering off erratically and refusing to power up symptoms.  Guess it was not the radio.  Further investigation required.  The radio lives inside the boat at the navigation table.  There is a remote handheld unit at the helm station in the cockpit.  Turns out  disconnecting that resolves all problems.  So a problem in the remote wiring.  I remake a suspect splice in the line.  No help.  Then I decide to disconnect a plug in the line.  And it shows severe corrosion due to water penetration.  Cut the plug out.  Track down the 10 wires to their corresponding pins.  And no, the wire colors are not the same on both sides of the plug.  That would be too easy.  Make connections permanent with shrink wrap insulation.  Silicon caulk.  Rescue tape.  I think I’m waterproof now.  And it works again.  Anybody need a Standard Horizon Matrix 2150?  Turns out I have an extra one.

I took Nancy in the dinghy to the airport shuttle dock.  She made her flight and is on her way to Rarotonga in the Cook islands.  We leave here to join her Monday morning.  We being Guillaume, Huub, and myself.  Which will take us probably 5 days.  Maybe she’ll be happy to see us.  Guillaume went out to look for whales to photograph this morning.  We expect Huub to arrive Sunday night on the ferry.  I went for a bike ride around the north end of the island.

Few thoughts.

By reputation I kind of expected BoraBora to be touristy and lame compared to the other islands.  I’d have to say maybe but just a little.  The major hotels are all on the barrier islands.  The airport is on one.  I believe a large majority of the visitors never spend any time on the core island.  I think they are scooped up and transported to their hotels on the barrier islands.  So the core island feels a lot like the rest of the islands I have visited.  Very Nice.

There is a near absence of anything branded in French Polynesia. I have not seen a Starbucks since I left Mexico. No Gap, Target, Costco, 7/11, Burger King on and on.  Almost all mom and pop businesses.  Interesting.  There was a single McDonald’s in Papeete.  I don’t miss these things.  Well maybe a West Marine would be handy….

7/23/2017

Restless.  Guillaume went out to see if the whale watcher could get into a photo opportunity.  No luck and took all day.  But they did see Dolphins and rays.  All not lost.  I traveled the boat to the other end of the lagoon for a change of scene.  Hitchhikers from a neighbor boat joined us for a night of singing at anchor with our other mates from Jandamarra.

I’m still running the dinghy on little green BBQ cans.  But I did hear from the dingy motor’s mfr regarding how to adjust it for Butane instead of propane.  That should serve well at our next island.  We are about done with Bora Bora for now.

7/24/2017

Now we are ready.  Food/water loaded.  Fueled up.  I have cleared customs at the Gendarmarie.  Guillaume gets that done later. Huub should be on the 430 ferry from Riatea.  I’d feel more certain if I heard from that guy today.  My house of cards is wobbling!  We’ll see.  It’s probably under control.  Nancy is in Rarotonga and I’m anxious to be headed that way.  I’m making it out of French Polynesia without any tattoos.   The culture here has embraced them (invented them?) For hundreds of years.  Whew, that was close!

It’s a miracle. Huub found his way to Spill the Wine.  He joins Guillaume and I and we stow the dinghy together.  Then they’re get busy raising the anchor and we hit the road.  Underway at730pm departing Bora Bora.  We clear the pass dodging fishing boats in the dark.  We set our way point for Rarotonga.  534 miles to the southwest.  Engine hours 1543.  All the dominoes fell our way.

We are motoring.  Making electricity.  Moderate roll to the sea.  Minimal wind from behind.  Temperature is perfect.
7/25/2017

Jandamarra carries her owner, John Pool from AUS, crew Harry from Pittsburgh and Jack Lewis an English fellow on his way to Australia to learn more about music and guitar.  He’s bloody awesome already.  Part of the “entrance exam” is an audition tape.  Highly recommend you go to YouTube and search for Jack Lewis audition tape.  You might look at TheJackLewis.com.  If any of you have known me 30 years or so you might remember the “guitar from hell”.  I put together from a $50 pawn shop purchase. It was a home modified attempt at making a guitar that would travel.  Failure actually.  Too heavy.  But it plays.  And it lives on Spill The Wine.  Jack borrowed it in Moorea to record his audition tape.  The guitar from hell has found its destiny. 🙂  Also listen to My Island.  It’s happening here in the south pacific.

We alternated sailing and motoring throughout today.  The additionally variable of sea state was challenging for the first 20 hours.  Lumpy seas make it hard to keep the sails full unless there is 12 kts or better of wind.  Which we finally got.  Just need patience.

I got word from tech support at Lehr, the mfr of my propane outboard.  They told me what to adjust so I can effectively burn butane instead of propane.  Butane is what they use down here.  Likely no propane until New Zealand.  It’s a latitude thing.  I’ll need the dinghy a bit between now and NZ.  I made the adjustment with the motor on the stern rail.  I was very careful not to drop any motor parts.  Lets hope Neptune likes my needlenose pliers which I neglected to look after so carefully.  🙂  But I did get the carburator adjusted.  We’ll see how that works next time we are in the dinghy.

We had dueling drones today.  Huub’s and Guillaume’s.  I’m interested in the product.  They have to sort through their raw material.
Dinner was beef on the egg with salad.  Then we made popcorn and watched a documentary on the 1969 round the world race and the attempt the game the race dishonestly by Nathaniel Crowhurst.  Which cost him his life.
Wind remains about 10kts off our port stern. Similar wind yesterday but we could do nothing with it as the sea state prevented keeping the sails filled. But with the sea state flattening out now we can actually sail. Making 4.5 to 5 kts on silky smooth seas.  The moon has set and the stars are brilliant.    Milky Way for dessert!  Lovely day if you like the southern cross I suppose…

7/26/2017

Beautiful morning.  Looks rainy to the NW but Spill The Wine escapes this time.  Wind is right behind us at about 10 kts.  This makes it hard to use.  Need more wind or need it off to one side for better use.  Put another way we could sail but we’d go kinda slow.

No other boats seen thus far.  The navigation instruments see a freighter bound for Papeete but it is 16 miles away so no visual for me.

About 8am the wind gets up to 16kts.  We rig the asymmetric spinnaker on port and the main on starboard.  This works for a bit then the wind drops to 7kts and the sea state vetoes that plan.  But not before Huub got a chance to fly his drone for some photos.  It’s spooky to watch these guys recover their drones.  They fly them by the cockpit and reach out and grab them.  Wild.  They are neither waterproof nor cheap by the way.  🙂

At 3pm there was still no wind.  Which makes it swim thirty!  Great way to chill on a warm day.  And the water was right.  3 miles deep.  Then we had chips and salsa.  I peeled a coconut for water that Guillaume and I had harvested at the Sacred Maraes of Riatea.

Coconut water hour is over and we light the egg for the star of tonight’s show… a chicken.  Who did enter life by means of an egg.  And who shall exit the same way.  Later we make more popcorn and watched Captain Ron.  Huub brought a gazillion movies on his tablet.  I should have brought more popcorn…

The motor was making too much noise to hear the soundtrack.  So I shut off the diesel and we enjoyed the show.  After it was over it was very dark.  Moonless at this hour.  I almost looked at the chart plotter.  But no I looked for the southern cross.  And there was our course.

The Maraes are ceremonial platforms related to their cultural events.  The ones at Riatea are 800years old or so.  Looking at them is not so dramatic until you consider the context.  This is where they entertained Captain Cook.  And where any number of ceremonial canoes from neighboring islands approached through the pass in the reef just offshore from the Maraes.  They built signal fires to point the way on the small island in the bay next to where we anchored.  A bit of a haunted place really. With great coconuts, who knew?

7/27/2017

I relieved Huub at dawn.  I came up a bit early so there would be time to retire the motor and set the sails together as the wind was finally building and had shifted to the south east.  Which is to say just ahead of our beam rather than dead behind us.  Peaked at 16 kts.  And we sure sailed on that.  We just missed a rain swollen squall line.  It passed just in front of us.  I was hoping that the wind shift was not squall driven.  It was partially.  The winds calmed down to about 12kts as we exited the trail of the squall.  More civilized anyway for three guys with all their stuff laying around.  Heeling boats put things on the floor!

I settled down to play some more guitar as Spill The Wine plied a close reach south, strait into a full 180 degree rainbow.  I love the early morning and the late afternoon for what they do to shadows.  The sun rising on our stern delighted me with a view of my shadow playing guitar on the cockpit floor.

The wind filled in perfectly.  We enjoyed a day of wind right on the beam at 15 kts.  Boat making anywhere from 6 to 8 kts as the wind varied.  Seas mild all day so we can really use the wind.  Studying the remaining course I see we are in danger of arriving at night.  Like to avoid that.  So I shorten the jib to see about slowing us down a bit.

7/28/2017
I relieve Huub before dawn today. The sun rises later as we make some westing and that sure changes sunrise.  The wind is still perfect and the seas still mild.  I’d like to discover these conditions more often.  Except it’s chilly.  I went looking for pants this morning.  I have not done that since March in Seattle.  And a fleece jacket.  Sea temp is down 10 degrees from the lagoon in BoraBora.  We must be getting some current from down south.  I’m reminded that Spill The Wine has a diesel heater.  Probably still works. But really it’s comfortable below.  Just chilly on deck.

We are 104 miles out of Rarotonga.  If we make 5 kts we will arrive just before dawn.

7/29/2017
Today is the day.  My visa expires and I need to be out of French Polynesia.  Success!  I’m 10 miles from Rarotonga!  It’s 3am and I can see the islands lights clearly on the horizon.    Sea temp is down 12 degrees from FrenchPolynesia.  Air temp down some too.  I’m wearing pants.  It’s been months since I did.  The moon is gone and the stars are screaming.  Maybe you grow weary of hearing that but they never fail to impress me.  English is the language here.  With a kiwi twist.  That will be an interesting difference!

The fantastically favorable winds yesterday persisted.  The sea state finally caught up and it became progressively easier to spill things as the day wore on.  We have been working on speed control to time arrival for dawn.  I think we’ll hit that pretty close.  Regrettable to enter a strange harbor in the dark.  It feels weird trying to go slow when the first few days of the leg we had no wind and had to motor.

We are coming in to Rarotonga and damn I’m still in the dark.  It’s 0415 and I’d like to know when local dawn is.  Oh well. 8 miles out.  I adjust to head more West.  If I approach on a zigzag zag course I can turn that 8 miles into 15 maybe.  Wind is behind me at 13kts.  Making 2.5to 3 kts on no sails at all.  If I sit down we go a little slower.  Hmmm maybe my imagination.

We enter the harbor at 8am.  No reply on radio from Harbor master.  So we are on our own.  And a little help from our fellow cruisers. 🙂 Harbor is small.  The warm has about ten boats tied stern to the concrete pier with an anchor off the bow to keep it perpendicular to the pier.  Tricky and I’ve never done it.  And there is no room for me anyway.  So I drop a bow anchor just like the rest of the fleet and back up towards the pier.  Neighbor boat carried my line to the pier and we were hooked.  One more anchor set to windward holds me from blowing downwind.  Done.

Rarotonga is delightful.  Each new island is our new favorite.  Super nice people.  Cooler weather.  Cooler water.  We rented a scooter to tour the island with.  Yes I look weird on it.  Smallest bike I ever did ride for sure.

The harbor is sorta clean.  I guess swimming is OK.  And of all things there is a floating water park in the harbor.  And we are moored right next to it.  Giggling and splashing Monday thru Friday!  Yay!  Fun.

Rarotonga

I am on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. I admit I don’t know much about these Islands. I flew here because I was not keen on sailing here from Bora Bora. Chris and crew – Huub & Guillaume – are on their way. Hopefully, they will arrive by the time my reservation runs out.

I’m staying at a place on the north side of the island, with access to the beach, which is rocky, with very fine sand – if it is wet, I sink right in. Walking in the surf during high tide, black lava rocks, chunks of coral, and the occasional coconut hit my feet. It is unusual to find a complete shell of any size, as they would have to be carried over the reef without being slammed into the coral. The beach here is deserted. I spend hours alone on it.

I’m enjoying some decent internet access, hot showers, and the ability to walk around. I’ve made friends with locals & tourists, as well as with dogs & cats. The food is still awesome, and I found a decent bar J. I haven’t had my hair cut in four months. The women on the islands wear theirs long, and the manager here advised me that I shouldn’t trust them with my shorter hair. I should be a sight by the time I get back to the US.

I’m trying to look into my next step, which should be Tonga, or maybe Nuie, and then Fiji. There must be some of you who would like to join us …

Out the Dora Dora from Bora Bora

7/22/2017

I took Nancy in the dinghy to the airport shuttle dock.  She made her flight and is on her way to Rarotonga in the Cook islands.  We leave here to join her Monday morning.  We being Guillaume, Huub, and myself.  Which will take us probably 5 days.  Maybe she’ll be happy to see us.  Guillaume went out to look for whales to photograph this morning.  We expect Huub to arrive Sunday night on the ferry.  I went for a bike ride around the north end of the island.  Anchorages look very attractive.  Nothing going on ashore.  Romantic? You bet.  Maybe Guillaume and I will stay in the anchorage one more night… 🙂

Few thoughts.

By reputation I kind of expected BoraBora to be touristy and lame compared to the other islands.  I’d have to say maybe but just a little.  The major hotels are all on the barrier islands.  The airport is on one.  I believe a large majority of the visitors never spend any time on the core island.  I think they are scooped up and transported to their hotels on the barrier islands.  So the core island feels a lot like the rest of the islands I have visited.  Very Nice.

There is a near absence of anything branded. I have not seen a Starbucks since I left Mexico. No Gap, Target, Costco, 7/11, Burger King on and on.  Almost all mom and pop businesses.  Interesting.  There was a single McDonald’s in Papeete.  I don’t miss these things.  Well maybe a West Marine would be handy….

7/23/2017

Restless.  Guillaume went out to see if the whale watcher could get into a photo opportunity.  No luck and took all day.  But they did see Dolphins and rays.  All not lost.  I traveled the boat to the other end of the lagoon for a change of scene.  I met him onshore with the dinghy at 530 and he showed up with Hitchhikers from a neighbor boat.  They joined us for a night of singing at anchor with our other mates from Jandamarra.

I’m still running the dinghy on little green BBQ cans.  But I did hear from the dingy motor’s mfr regarding how to adjust it for Butane instead of propane.  That should serve well at our next island.  We are about done with Bora Bora for now.

7/24/2017

Now we are ready.  Food/water loaded.  Fueled up.  Huub should be on the 430 ferry from Riatea.  I’d feel more certain if I heard from that guy today.  My house of cards is wobbling!  We’ll see.  It’s probably under control.  Nancy is in Rarotonga and I’m anxious to be headed that way.

From Huahine to Bora Bora

7/12/2017

This morning Zack and Guillaume and I went snorkeling on the reef next to our anchorage.  It was farther away than we thought.  But it was a good day for a swim.  The fish were friendly enough in a fish way.  I hope they keep in touch.

Up anchor and exit Maroe Bay.  The wind is 12 kts SE and we head North on spinnaker only.  Nice run for Guillaume’s drone.  Kinda spooky launching and landing that spendy thing on a moving boat. Glad I wasn’t driving it.  But he likely got some good footage for his documentary.

We turn west at the north end of Huahine’s reef.  And the wind stays behind us.  Odd.  Then we turn south along the west shore.  And the wind pretty much stayed behind us again.  Very unusual but favorably.  We’ll take it.

Anchorage off Fare village is crowded.  And there is a 1 kt current that flows through it.  Which means all the boat’s hang on their anchor heading the same way.  Without current boats swing around in the wind and might bump each other.  So a bit of current makes a crowded anchorage easier to deal with.

It’s been raining off and on since we got here.  Which means poor Spill the Wine has some soggy spots under the odd window that might have been left open.  Example last night we attended happy hour at a pub onshore.  Clear skies when we went in.  But shortly after we arrived that changed in a big wet way.  I dinghyed back to the boat presto and closed up my damp boat.  I enjoyed the rest of the squall in the cockpit before rejoining my cre201w. We had big plans to roast a chicken on the egg.  But we ran out of steam and dinner turned into chips and salsa.  Real salsa.  I have not seen real salsa since I left Mexico.

7/14/2017

Bastille Day!  Marking the revolutionary French Revolution!  Surely there will be a big festival in Fare Village to mark the day.  And there was a big festival.  But it had to do with Heiva.  This is a month long local custom that has lots of dancing singing javelin tossing canoe racing celebrating Polynesian culture.  French culture not so much.  🙂

7/16/2017

Guillaume runs into Robin and Fiona.  He had traveled with before.  Nice folks so we move up the coast and arrange to have dinner with them. Lamb chops on the egg.  Some singing and playing.  Fiona takes photos of the big green egg on the stern.  I ask her why and she explains that her mother had been bugging her and Robin to put one on their boat before they left Florida.  I’m not making this stuff up.  Fiona’s mother is not well and I want to meet her!

7/17/2017

Today we moved up to TaHaa the adjacent island.  25 kts in the lagoon between the islands.  But being a lagoon, minimal wave action.  Great sailing.  We moved up the western side of TaHaa and took a mooring ball in a cove with a pearl Farm.  They gave us a brilliant tour of their operation and we helped them close at sundown.  Their docks have a nice view to the west.  Rib steaks on the egg for dinner.  Nancy and I are enjoying Zack and Guillaume.  They have good appetites!

7/18/2017

Time to move on to BoraBora.  25 mile crossing.  Big seas and 20 to 25 kts behind us.  That goes well if you like stuff flying around the boat.  Actually goes just fine other than that.  Nobody gets ill.  Approaching Bora Bora is dramatic.  It has this radically vertical peak right in the center of it that resembles Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings.  25 to 30 kts blows through the anchor field when we arrive.  We plant our anchor successfully but end up a bit too close to another boat.  We are pulling it back up to re-anchor and a neighbor tells us there is a mooring ball available.  In this kind of wind a mooring sounds pretty attractive so we nab it.

Town is pretty close and so is the grocery.  Well stocked for sure.  That will be handy when it is time to leave for the Cook islands.

7/20/2017

We get Zack packed for tomorrow.  He is flying back to Papeete to meet his family when they arrive from Seattle.  He was great crew and gets invited back.  Time to rotate crew again.  Guillaume is staying on board.  Nancy flies to Rarotonga in the Cook islands on the 22nd.  Huub will join Spill The Wine the evening of the 23rd.

7/21/2017

After Zack departed this morning we visited the Gendarmarie and checked out of French Polynesia effective the 24th.  Lots of paperwork.  Boring!  Seriously my least favorite part of this adventure.  I’m still waiting on a separate clearance that comes from the French Polynesian Harbor control.

A boat full of musical types just anchored next to us.  Tonight should be good!

7/22/2017

Some of you might remember that STW’s VHF radio was failing.  So Zack brought down another one.  Well the new one exhibited the same unfortunate powering off erratically and refusing to power up symptoms.  Guess it was not the radio.  Further investigation required.  The radio lives inside the boat at the navigation table.  There is a remote handheld unit at the helm station in the cockpit.  Turns out disconnecting the remote resolves all problems.  So a problem in the remote wiring.  I remake a suspect splice in the line.  No help.  Then I decide to disconnect a plug in the line.  And it shows severe corrosion due to water penetration.  Cut the plug out.  Track down the 10 wires to their corresponding pins.  And no, the wire colors are not the same on both sides of the plug.  That would be too easy.  Make connections permanent with shrink wrap insulation.  Silicon caulk.  Rescue tape.  I think I’m waterproof now.  And it works again.  Anybody need a Standard Horizon Matrix 2150?  Turns out I have an extra one.

Welcome to the Society Islands

6/29-7/2017

The 29th we relaxed just the two of us.  Thank you.  The 30th two of our hitchhikers came back on board and brought what appeared to be 1/4 of a tuna.  We put that on the egg for sure.  July 1st two more people joined the crew for…. more Tuna!  Nancy and I took the boat out of the bay that day to get a different view of the island.  Pizza Night upon our return.  July 2nd our guests departed and we once again relax just the two of us.  One of the crew we probably won’t see again for some time.  He’s off to crew on a boat in the Mediterranean that is heading for a possible NW passage in the Arctic.  Unusual opportunity for sure.  The other 3 will all be rejoining the boat at Bora Bora to cross to the Cook islands to the west.

7/3/2017

We walked a couple miles down to the next bay today and found lunch and a place that does laundry.  And delivers when it is done!  Yay!

7/4/2017
They don’t celebrate that here!  Wait until the 14th.  That if the anniversary of the French Revolution. We’ll see if the Polynesians give a hoot about that!

7/5/2017
Nancy took a long walk down the shore to a pretty village around the point  I took a bike ride up the valley to a lookout 800 feet up.  Nice view.  My poor rusty bicycle is not loving the salt environment.  Time for more love and lubrication to keep it going!

7/6/2017
The bay is filling with Oyster brand boats.  There are a dozen and more on the way.  They are on a circumnavigation tour together.  And they all look kinda the same.  I was not aware inbreeding affected boats.  Anyway getting crowded.  We are off to Papeete again to pick up crew for the 16 hour trip to Huahine we will do next week. We motored across right into a 20 kts headwind.  But it was still a good day.  Arrived Papeete marina and got about the last slip available.

7/7/2017
We were in the cockpit after a day of boat chores and food truck dinner.  My food truck dinner was veal, cooked on a spit in the parking lot.  Recommended. Relaxing and I’m trying to learn Dock of the Bay on my guitar.  Not a hard one but I’ve never done it!  We were comparing two catamarans across from our dock.  One was big and fat.  That would mean comfy but slow.  The other was light and lean.  So not so spacious but fast.  Then a family walks by and we chat with them for a bit.  Nice folks.  Turns out they were from the Fat Catamaran.  Then another couple comes by and we chat with them for quite awhile.  They were from the Lean Cat and we are having dinner with them tonight.  You can’t make this stuff up.

7/8-9/2017
Last big city details.  I acquired and installed a bilge pump switch.  The 10 year old one expired.  Then we went for ice cream and Internet.  After dinner it will be time to pick up Zack Hudgins our next leg crew.  He will be with us through Bora Bora.  And one or two of our hitchhikers… 🙂

Found Zack at the airport no problem.  We taxi back to Marina Papeete and get settled.  Guillaume joins us the next morning and we are off for Moorea.  No wind predicted but we got some anyway.  Beautiful sail back to Cook’s bay.  It’s Sunday and all the grocery stores are closed.  So we go out for Awesome Pizza at Allo Pizza!  Elegant solution to our problem.

Today 7/9 Guillaume goes ashore to get some computer/internet work done on assembling his documentary on climate change”s impact on the South Pacific.  Pretty interesting project.  Zack heads out for an extended bike ride.  I worked on finishing the installation of the VHF radio Zack brought down from Seattle.  And the swimming was great today!.  Most of the boats in the bay are gone again.  We have seen many of the faces of Cook’s Bay.  Nancy is about to sear tuna.  And we await our last crew member who should join us at 5pm.  Then we 5 depart on a floating “red-eye” for Huahine.

After an awesome seared tuna dinner we finished stowing the dinghy and John’s surfboard.  And we weigh anchor and go.  Guillaume gets some drone footage of our progress.  We clear the pass in the reef on our way out of Cook’s Bay as the sun retreats below the western horizon.  There is a bit of wind and the seas are smooth.  We are making 4 kts in 7 kts of wind on a lovely reach.  Mr Sulu the windvane is back on the job for the first time since we arrived in the Marquesas.  And he’s doing a fine job.

We’ve laid out the watch schedule.  I’m on til 9.  Zack til midnight.  Guillaume 12-3.  John 3-6. Then back to me.  I’m looking forward to it!

The suns gone down and here comes a moon.  It it not full then it doesn’t  miss it by much.  Like a searchlight on this dark night it is.  There is a bit of wind and we make about 3 kts through the night.  The sea is as calm as I’ve seen it in a long time.  Shortly after dawn the wind drops and our boatspeed is down to two knots or less.  Captain makes eggs pancakes and coffee.  And there was much rejoicing.  Our Canadian crewmember brought maple syrup from CAnAdA.  Thank you!  After breakfast  we swim in water two miles deep.  Nobody gets cramps and drowns.  Aye!  Then it is time to motor, make water and charge batteries.

The closer we draw to Huahine the more like glass the water becomes.  A beautiful day to have a quantity of fuel on board!

We enter a passe Fararea in the reef on the east side of the island.  A village is advertised on the South Shore.  We’ll they do have a restaurant.  But no grocery.  Dinner Out Tonight!

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6/21-22/2017

Nancy explains to me why it would be good to go to Papeete.  Logical stuff.  Charge batteries.  Take on water.  Odd big city details addressed.  I was with her.  The Tahiti/Moorea/Puddle Jump Rendezvous starts in Papeete Friday the 23rd.  Wouldn’t want to miss that. One of the attractions is representatives from host countries down wind will be present to acquaint us with the details of traveling to their countries by boat.  Good Idea.   So we left Cook’s Bay about 0930.  Got to Papeete about noon.  And found a slip in Marina Papeete.  Stroke of luck.  Damn near full and this weekend is the peak of high season.  Watered up.  Charged up.

Never mind checking in at the marina.  I load my most empty propane tank and bust it off to the filling station.  Our neighbor has a tank needs picking up.  It’s a long walk when you are schlepping a big propane tank.  Unless you have a bike to strap it to.  And I do.  So I swoop into the Mobil station.  Pick up my neighbor’s tank.  Drop mine off to be filled (and they SAID it would be done by Friday…).  As I’m strapping neighbors tank to my bike the gas truck comes along and hauls off the tanks, mine included.  Timing could not have been better.

But damn is it Hot.   No wind.  Nancy says Hey Man… if we turned the boat around on the dock we’d get more wind in the cockpit.  Yeah whatever..  but it might work.  So we release all the lines and I head out to turn around and come right back.  Nancy and a neighbor are on the dock to manage the lines on the way back in.  I have moved one fender to the starboard side which will now be to the dock.  I need 3 really but I hear a funny note from my diesel exhaust.  Like no water coming out with the exhaust. And there should be.  More often than not diesel marine engines have a water cooled exhaust system.  I used to have one too.  Now suddenly I don’t.  It’s the same water that cools the engine.  So now you begin to see the scope of the issue.  Quite in a hurry to get back on the dock now.  It’s calm.  Did I mention no wind?   Land her easily with my excellent dock hands’ assistance.  And darned if we did not see a bit better breeze in the cockpit for the turning around.  Bonus!

Now to sort out the cooling system on Spill The Wine.  Blocked intake?  Bad impeller in the pump?  Blocked hose that would introduce water into the exhaust?  Most likely impeller bad.  Odd because I replaced that on April and the tend to last about a year or more.  But then the last few months the motor has seen a lot more use than it used to see in a year in Seattle.

Open the pump and the impeller is shredded.   There are 12 fingers or flat vanes on the rotating impeller.  There are 3 left.  The others are piled up in the pump housing in bits.  I collect all the parts and all 12 vanes are not accounted for.  Two are missing.  Musta  got pumped downstream to the heat exchanger  (like a radiator in a car).  I look there but no vanes.   Hmmm.   I remove the hose from the heat exchanger that brings the water from the pump.  Nancy starts the motor and I hold the hose over a bucket.  Water pump is certainly working now.  Strong flow.  And along with the water, the missing 2 vanes are revealed!

Close it all up and start the motor.  The exhaust is full of water again as it should be.  And there are no leaks in the engine “room”.  Even better!  More like the vaguely accessible engine cupboard…

So off to the store.  Need another impeller to have on hand.  A patch kit for the dinghy.  It has a slow leak that I recently located.  Need charcoal for the Big Green Egg.  Might not find any of that for awhile after here.
What’s next.  Oh yeah the VHF radio has been refusing to turn on.  How rude!  There is a electronics fixit place here.  Remove radio and pack it up.

Electronic fixit place is not too encouraging.  They are not sure if the can fix.  They don’t have parts for my brand.  Ok let’s nevermind the radio then.  I scored on the rest of my supplies and back to the boat.

Nancy and I step out for a smoothie in the heat of the afternoon.  Perfect.  We encounter a mob of Tahitians playing ukuleles in a store front.  The graffiti behind them even celebrates ukes!  Fun!

White bread baguettes are great but we found whole wheat ones.  Awesome.  The post office here is called OPT.  The office of postal and telecommunications services.  So you buy your cell phone at the post office.  Odd.  Anyway I managed to screw my Polynesian phone up and needed help.  That was easy!

Nancy made marinated lamb chops.  More awesome! Then she went off to girls night with some of the other Puddle Jumpers.

6/23/2017

So I have this dead radio hanging around the salon.  What to do.  Oh well. I’ll just hang it back where it belongs.  And the SOB works perfectly.  Twas ever thus.  I have not mentioned it yet but I have crew coming on July 8 and they are bringing Another Radio!  I scored that on ebay.  I’m still happy it’s coming as this one’s inconsistent behavior is really not ok.  It can become a spare when the new one shows up.

This afternoon there was a kickoff event at the Tahiti tourism office on the waterfront.  People from New Zealand and Fiji gave presentations to encourage the Puddle Jump participants to come and visit.  And to give us customs and touring clues. The minister of tourism was on hand to speechify and bless the fleet.  Seriously athletic Tahitian dancers put on a very impressive show.  There were some folks looking to hitch a ride from Tahiti to Moorea with the fleet. All 15 miles of it!  All the participant boats are scheduled to depart tomorrow  (Saturday) for Cook’s Bay in Moorea.  Nancy and I take on 4.  A Dutchman, an Irishman,  an Englishman and a German woman.  Fun bunch of 20 somethings trying to find their way around the world.  They stayed with us for the whole weekend.  Wore us out!

6/24/2017

Our crew showed up at 9am as planned and we departed.  About 25 boat’s are in a big pile outside Passe Papeete and then they are off!  Wind is light.  Seas are building just the same.  Strangely enough Spill The Wine ends up in front of everyone.  That is not what usually happens.  About 2/3 of the way there, the wind expires and the swell is large.  Ideal for seasickness.  Accordingly we have a seasick crew.  Nevermind being in the lead, we motor up and find our way to the bay.  Much smoother!  Crew recovers in time for an anchor down beverage.  🙂  It turns out everybody motored but one boat.  It required patience and strong stomachs but Wiz sailed all the way they win the event!

We tour the anchorage visiting our peers on our way to the grocery.  Then ashore for more destination seminars and dinner.  Some of our young crew stays out a bit later than us and returns silently.  Sneaky buggers!

6/25/2017

Crew makes us all breakfast.  I knew we had the right folks on board!  We are fueling up for the outrigger canoe races.  My hand picked international cabal crew ended up the gringo victors!  That’s the good news.  The bad news is they had to defeat their captain’s team to do it, the bums!  I got over it….

More amazing Tahitian dancers and a Polynesian feast followed.  We ended up on another boat playing and singing into the night.  How their cockpit managed to swallow 16 people is unclear…

6/26/2017

Our hitchhikers made breakfast again, cleaned up and cleared out.  Great crew.  They all get invited back.  Just the same it will be nice to have just Nancy and I onboard for a bit.  Some of them are returning Friday.  And a couple more signed up to cross with Spill The Wine to Raritonga in the Cook islands at the end of July.  That is about a 5 day crossing.  It will be good to have the extra hands.

The bay is shedding boats now that the event has finished.  I was hoping that it would.  Peace descends on Cook’s Bay.   Ambition might happen tomorrow…

6/27-28/2017

So the 27th we invited our hosts from the night before to come and visit.  More music!   So much fun that we added more folks the evening of the 28th.

6/29/2017

Now the wind is up. Gusting to 25.  Cooler too.  Good day to be anchored!  Reading, Internet dose, neighbors coming later for chicken on the Egg!

All Moorea All the Time

6/15/2017

This morning we woke up restless and moved to the next cove East.  Passe Irihonu on the north coast of Moorea is a narrow one.  And the anchorage area was small.  But we were the only boat so that was no problem. Interesting stuff on shore.  We walked to the local grocery.  They had AC!  And birds flying around in their store.  They were after the baguettes!  Sacré Bleu!

Nancy seared some fresh tuna.  Awesome!  stiff rain on the boat late that night.  I love that sound.

6/16/2017

More restlessness.  We motored making power and water to Passe Tareu.  It provides access to Opunohu Bay.  Near the passe there is a shallower spot, ranging 20-40 feet.  For some reason everybody and their sea dog anchors there.  Probably 25 boats.  And the rest of the bay is vacant.  It’s kinda deep.  60 feet can be found.  Just a puzzle though.  Anchoring in a big pile seems odd.  Anyway we retreated to Cook’s Bay because they have groceries within reach of the dinghy.  And there are only 6 boats in the whole thing.  Nice.  I think it’s Pizza Night!

6/17/2017

We are enjoying reading in the cockpit punctuated by the odd swim.  But today we walked over to the Opunohu Bay next door.  Gotta get physical sometime.  The sun didn’t get us.  Grateful for some clouds.

Physicality deserves food!  Some of the restaurants will come and collect customers in a van if you call them.  So we did.  Went to HolySteak.  I put on shoes and socks.  Its been awhile!  Predictably awesome.  They had some live music.  We are finding that a bit rare here.  Not like La Cruz Mexico at all.  Many restaurants there had music.  Interesting.

6/17/2017

Today it was hike to the Tiki Park.  There are some archeological ruins up the valley.  Makes for a nice walk in the forest.  At some point we decided it was too far to go without water.  Will revisit soon.

We invited our neighbors from Southern Light over for horsdevours.  Which we devoured.  We met them previously in Papeete.  Nice bunch.  Their schooner was built by the captain.  From 69-72.  This is the 4th time he’s sailed her from New Zealand to Vancouver BC.  He’s only 75.  And his Sr crew is 76.  They have two relative rookies on board as well.  One with no experience.  One with a bit.  But they were a good team.  And they were tested. 60 kts max wind they saw on their 30 odd day passage from New Zealand to here.  They are all experienced now.

Pictures!

We’ve been neglecting to add photos to the blog because the wifi is unreliable. I will try to show you a few of mine today. First, Rangiroa:

Sunrise                                     Look at that color!                         Rose at sunset


Lulu                                                         View from Gilligan’s Island


A feast on the Big Green Egg for a lovely evening

Tikehau:

Well, that took my entire battery. More later.

Return to Moorea

6/13/2017

I can testify.   Les Trois Brasseurs has a fine IPA.  And the stainless steel guy delivered the repaired part last night.  nicely done.  Metali’nox Stéphane Gerand (689) 87 77 02 77.  highly recommended for stainless work and service.  nice pu and delivery!

Later in the evening we were back at the dock enjoying the night air in the cockpit.  A neighbor approaches us and asks if we have a corkscrew.  We are on a boat called Spill The Wine!  We have about a hundred corkscrews. We took care of him.

The sun came up and I could not help but notice that it had rained in the night.  And I had left the companion way lid open.  No Bueno.  The stairs from below to the cockpit are carpeted.  And mold was on their near horizon.  We cut up an old rug from our house for these stairs years ago.  Bruce the Dog had a tough time as the stairs are steep.  Carpet helped.  But he has gone by some years ago and now the carpet will be joining him in the great hereafter.

Next was off to the Mobil to collect the propane tanks.  They were ready.  A miracle.  Strap them to the bicycle and cart them back home.  Fill the water tank and check out.  Hasta La vista Papeete!  Back to Moorea.

The sail over was pretty smooth.  Partly due to minimal wind.  So we motored half way.  But I’ve got about a 3 month supply of fuel on board so what the hey!  Anchored in Cook’s Bay again.  So quiet.  So peaceful.  So dark.  Nice change as Papeete was none of these things.  But it was charming in other ways.

We feasted on grilled duck breast and French wine.  Another good day.

6/14/2017

We woke this morning and there was an onshore 15kt breeze.  It had been offshore last night.  So now we are on the other side of our anchor and it’s kinda getting shallow.  We reanchored across the bay to hide from the wind and the shallows.  I’ll sleep better.

We have a Canadian boat nearby and her captain is coming over and I am getting ready to toast up a prime rib.  Meat selection at the grocery is interesting.  Prime rib and filet mignon.  Where did the rest of the cow go?

Reaping Electrons

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This is what a shore power connection looks like in French Polynesia.

6/11/2017

Day of rest.  The heat really takes the wind out of your sails!  We visited a neighbor boat for happy hour.  They are in the middle of a round the world tour sponsored by their boat manufacturer, Oyster.  Fun people.

6/12/2017

Things are open and I head to the electrical parts store.  And lo, they had what I wanted.  Miracle.  Even found some propane in a 16oz can.  Never thought I’d see one of those again!  Back to the boat and assemble the parts.  Detach the charger from the existing electrical system and mount a French style plug on the charger’s wire.  Plug it in and voila! 40 amps comes pounding into the battery Bank.  We’re not going to be at a lot of marinas but still, this is a handy feature.

I just spoke to the stainless guy.  He says he’ll deliver tonight at 730pm.  Awesome.  All the pieces are falling into place.

Tonight it is 2 for 1 at a local microbrewery.  Rumor has it they have an IPA.  We’ll just have to see about that!

Bon Appetit!

6/12/17

We are IN Pape’ete, Tahiti. I mean, the marina is right downtown. This place should be visited when you have access to A/C and a pool. It’s HUMID. At least living on the water, the insects don’t bother you as much.

There are advantages to being in a city, though: there are stores where you can buy boat parts, hardware, etc., that don’t exist in a village. Top of our list is getting our propane tanks refilled, and one of our bimini supports needs welding. Then we will head back to Moorea.

Pape’ete is quite modern and very French. There are markets, bistros, and boutiques. I already took care of obtaining the obligatory souvenirs: a pareo & some black pearls. Of course, when I travel, my favorite diversion is the food. Chris found out about some food trucks near the ferry terminal. We went there last night and had sumptuous seared red tuna. There is a large market downtown that you have to hit around 6:00 am to really get anything. There are also Carrefour supermarkets. If you have ever been to France, you’ve probably seen these. The food selection is stunning. There is a cheese department. There is a long refrigerated aisle of nothing but charcuterie. You can get a two-foot long fresh baguette for about $0.50. I picked up a beautiful package of the tiniest (1 cm sq) raviolis for $2.00.

This morning, we sat in the cockpit while it poured around us, and Chris attacked a pamplemousse . These are also called Asian grapefruits or pomelo, and you can sometimes find them at Uwajimaya. They take some work, but they are worth it. The skin has to be cut. Under that is about an inch thick of pith. Then, you have to remove the tough membrane around each slice. But when you taste it, you realize this is what grapefruit aspire to be.

A couple nights ago, Chris did a spectacular job of grilling a big prime rib steak that I had slathered with roasted garlic paste. We still have some duck breasts in the freezer. And I have a couple of bottles of French Rosé. I think we’ll survive.