Rangiroa at Tiputa Pass anchorage

5/20/17

Today another supply ship. More of the same kind of supplies. Still no fresh food. The fresh veggies I am starting to think are the local Godot that everyone is perpetually waiting for that never comes.

Maybe the environment being so warm and humid makes it impractical to ship most fresh items. Just frozen and canned things survive the journey. Maybe this culture here just does not do fresh stuff like we are used to. The Marquesas were similar. Grocery stores there offered minimal vegetables and what they had was kinda sad. But the Marquesas had generous and fertile land available for agriculture. So the supply ship was not necessarily their only source. It’s a bit of a mystery.

5/21/17

We woke up this morning and the larger cruise ship is back. Maybe 400 passengers. I’m starting to think this boat is weekly. Frequently there are no boats at all at the aquarium. By mid morning there are 8. The demographic of this boat is interesting. Overwhelmingly couples in their 60s or 70s. Wearing the most unbecoming things to avoid the tropical sun and wandering around town looking lost. To be fair I’ve done my share of that kind of fish out of water wandering in strange places. But not with a hat That ugly for crying out loud!

Nancy and I head for the grocery. Still searching for those fresh veggies. We did score some red potatoes and a frozen duck breast. And the last two croissants in town!

Getting crowded. Time to leave town. We sail upwind which is towards the south end of the lagoon. I was thinking if we got further south the already mild seas would be even more so. Nancy is reading and she looks at me after a few hours and asks me if I notice anything unusual? “Well the most beautiful woman in the world is sailing with me in French Polynesia. That’s unusual!” I replied. Nancy offers “And she is not taking any seasickness medication and she feels just fine.” This is extremely unusual. Maybe living on the boat for a week or two made a difference. I hope it lasts forever.

We anchored on the shore of another uninhabited Barrier island. Still no sign of Gilligan. Smoked a large duck breast on the Big Green Egg. Served it with brown rice and French Wine by starlight. We’ve never had a better day? I’m running out of hyperbolic closings.

5/22/17

As peaceful spot like this we don’t want to leave. Getting a lot of reading in. Swimming. Being amazed at the environment. Took a walk on shore and gave Nancy a tour of how the dingy engine works. I was worried she would have a hard time starting a 9.9 hp engine. God help me I underestimated her again! Slow learner me.

5/23/17

We decided the cruise ship probably left the anchorage by now. So we sail back. Nice broad reach all the way. We passed a tiny island called Nao Nao. Very pretty but we declined going ashore. Lets just say it was popular with birds. Back at the anchorage and we are ready for groceries. At the store we score. Romaine lettuce. Celery. Tomatoes. These items were cold and on an unrefrigerated shelf. Which is to say the had been there for maybe 15 minutes. These are the first fresh green veggies we’d seen since we got to Rangiroa. Back on Spill The Wine Nancy made a fantastic green salad with beans.

Captain Chris Barry

Rangiroa

5/18/17

We stopped by the grocery today.  Did not expect much as the supply ship comes a few days.  So if they were out last week they still are.  Except for Eggs!  They had some so we stocked up.  Fair bit of swimming off the boat in the heat of the day.  In the middle of that a dingy comes along and suggests hosrdevours (which I can never spell!) at their boat Southern Cross at 5pm.  Bring your guitar.  And prepare to sing.  Great fun.  Richard , Phil and Carole were great hosts.  Retired people not acting their age. My favorite. Dr. Phil and his wife Carole just accomplished retiring from ophthalmology at Kaiser. Richard and Phil had been in a band together in medical school so many years ago. I offered a few pieces on my backpacker guitar. But Richard had a remarkable encyclopedia of music in his head. And everybody sang. Especially Nancy with her unnatural memory for lyrics. They left the next day but I expect to see them at the Puddle Jump Rendezvous on the island of Moorea, about 10 miles from Tahiti. Nancy and I went home before we ran them out of wine.  Very little was spilled….  🙂

5/19/17

Today I bent myself of getting acquainted with the batteries and charging scene.  I think something has been out of order for awhile and I have not been getting good information on my battery state.  I suspect undercharging since I left Mexico.  May need to equalize to get around sulfation that is known to be associated with undercharging.  That is another day’s project…  For now I think I have things under control.

And a supply ship came.  Yay!  The restaurants have been running out of food.  Pretty interesting.  Hundreds of islanders descended on the pier at the end of a dead end road. It was a bit of a cluster. All sorts of goods. Air conditioners, diapers, cases of canned things, 20 liter (5g) jugs of water, leaf blower, pallets of beer, pallets of butane, huge tanks of petrol, on and on. Most of it showed up in maybe 8×10 ft containers. Odd things people had ordered online perhaps. But the veggies that were rumored to be coming were not present. Oh that would be tomorrow’s boat….

5/15/17

Nice sail back east to Avatoru.  When we got there the chart marked some anchorages.  Um no.  Way too shallow, way too much current.  We picked a different spot.  I dingy to shore to see if there are eggs or yogurt.  Um no.  It’s Monday and the supply ship is due Friday.  Interesting way to run a railroad.  So we head back South to Tiputa pass anchorage.

5/16/17

Time to investigate the Aquarium.  Why not?  No one else is!  Short dingy ride to it.  Probably more fish than any other snorkeling spot I’ve seen.  Nancy wears a mask with yellow details.  The little yellow fish seem to like her perhaps as a result?   It’s a good day.  Dinner at a French restaurant deck overlooking the pass into the lagoon.  Even from there we can see many fish and many sharks.   And the menu is… Fish!  It’s what’s for dinner.

5/17/17
Boat chores in the morning.  Swimming and a trip to shore in the afternoon.  No aquarium.  Medium cruise ship brings 140 people and the aquarium is crowded. They left just before sunset.  Bean salad chez Spill The Wine followed by some guitar closes the day.

5/14/17

Time to snorkel off Gilligan’s island.  There is a pass on each side of the island.  So that means current.  But off the shore facing the Lagoon there is not much current and a cool reef.  Then we hiked around the island and out to the reef that is swallowing the surf.  It’s like Mars.  Back to STW for dinner.  The wind is up so I reset the anchor to give us more shelter from the island.  The stars come out seriously.  No moon yet and few clouds.  Fascination with the stars does not seem to wear off.

5/15/17

Nice sail back east to Avatoru.  When we got there the chart marked some anchorages.  Um no.  Way too shallow, way too much current.  We picked a different spot.  I dingy to shore to see if there are eggs or yogurt.  Um no.  It’s Monday and the supply ship is due Friday.  Interesting way to run a railroad.  So we head back South to Tiputa pass anchorage.

There goes the neighborhood

5/10 -11 [Wifi access is only periodic here, so no telling when we can post updates!]

Three flights, four time zones and nearly 24 hours later, I (and my suitcase!) finally reached Rangiroa. Chris & I agreed immediately that the time apart had been TOO LONG. I saw Lynn only long enough to say “hi” & “goodbye”, as she was flying out on the same plane.

It’s beautiful – just like every postcard you’ve ever seen. The water is a shade of blue I thought could only exist with a filter, and it’s clear all the way to the bottom.

I want to explore the local area. My brain is still in Spanish mode. I need to dredge up my French. You can buy sarongs and pearls. There seem to be quite a few restaurants, and so far, the food is great – especially the bread. Chris reports the local wine isn’t very good, but French wine is available.

5/12 – 13

We spent a couple of nights at anchor. In the morning, two cruise ships arrive. We sail across the “lagoon” about 15 miles to another side and anchor off some motus. Only one other boat nearby. No one on shore. No Wifi. Just us.

At night, we sit on deck and look at more stars than I knew were out there. We have no place else to be until 6/20.

Catching up

5/8/17

The wind has been East or maybe SE since we arrived in southern hemisphere. Now it has shifted North. And that works for Spill The Wine. Making good time.

Just as we approach Rangiroa a squall blows through. Nice to arrive with a clean boat! Tide info predicts we are on mild flood. As we enter the pass there are moderate breaking seas to the east. Smooth to the west side of the channel. So we go west. 2-3 knots of current push us through the pass at a good clip. In a twinkling we are in the Lagoon. Magic. We round a small islet and turn west. Anchor down and relax. Nick and Taylor dingy over and share some local knowledge and a cold IPA I bootlegged in from Seattle. More boat settling and catch up on sleep.

5/9/17

Biker day. We bring my bike to shore and rent one for Lynn. And off to Avatoru. It’s about 6 miles. Goes right by the airport. Rained a bit. Seems like rain 3x daily is how it comes on Rangiroa. But the rain is 86 degrees just like the water. Wear a hat to keep the rain out of your eyes!

Avatoru has a pass through the reef similar to the one we transited. They also have a Tahiti Air office where Lynn went to buy her ticket to Tahiti. Air from there to US had to be arranged from the US. We have not found reliable Internet here. Too close to the end if the earth I’m thinking. Dragons must be here somewhere. I’d like to see one before we fall off the edge!

5/10/17

Today will be aquarium for snorkeling and then finish cleaning the boat. Nancy arrives tomorrow yay! She will need to catch up on sleep from her long voyage on three planes then meet the aquarium. Lynn flies out on the same plane. She was great crew crew and gets invited back.

¡Hasta Luego!

The low season is creeping up on La Cruz. The festivals have passed. Gringos are heading to cooler, less humid places, – or like Chris, the South Pacific, – and the town belongs more to the Mexicans. Flowers are really starting to come out, as are the flies. There are clouds where it’s usually clear. And the pool is GREEN.  ew.

I’m organizing myself to travel tomorrow: Cleaning out the fridge. Getting laundry done. Saying “good-bye” to people & places I’ve gotten to know. Putting my temporary home in order. I know we will come back to this place sometime. No telling when, at this point. But I have LOTS of memories to take with me to Rangiroa, where my love waits for me. That makes leaving much easier.

Motus and Atolls

5/7/17

Day is winding down.  Sunset in an hour then watches begin.  Passing by the north side of Manihi island as we make our way to Rangiroa.  100 miles to go.

Our present speed should see us there at 2pm local. This will be in time for high tide. And that is both important and a good thing. There is a pass that allows you through the break in the reef.  If you are there on the outgoing tide its some serious upstream work.  Even with the current behind you on a flood tide you can get into trouble with too much current.  The “islands” are ring-like entities that have lagoons in the center.  And the lagoons can take up 95% or so of the area defined by the reef.  I think this is a common arrangement for atolls.   Unusual for sure.  It’s like they are hollow.  See what Google Earth can show you regarding these things.  Now what is the difference between a motu and an atoll?  This is the Tuamotu archipelago.   Not having Internet I’ll find out about this later… 🙂

Moon comes up and it’s big.  Has a celestial bright thingy just by it. This would be Jupiter says Mr. Christian. Moon is great for spotting squalls in the distance.  Radar helps too.  Not that you can really run from these things,  but it’s best not to be caught with too much sail up.  We are motoring as there has been no wind of consequence. But the wind is finally filling in as my jib-I’ve-been-fishing-for-wind-with is now filling in and pulling.  One thing about motoring is it does make our speed more predictable.  Especially useful here as there is no value in showing up to Rangiroa just after sun set when the current is starting to exit the Lagoon.  Best get there on time I’m thinking.  With luck tonight will be our last night at sea for awhile.

STW Spa Day

5/7/17

This morning Lynn announced that Spill The Wine was getting a spa day.  Need to clean her up to get her ready for Nancy who will be joining shortly.  We had some laundry done at Hiva Oa,  but today we discovered an unfortunate lot of clothing that had been seawatered. That’s what happens when you leave ports open with high seas.  Which is to say it’s not the first time.  So that’s done.  Bunch of things put away.  More to do but shipshape is within sight!

I went off watch at 9pm.  It was quite cloudy.  Now back on at midnight and the clouds are gone.  And every night the moon gets bigger.  I can use the light.  Not that there are any other boats out here.   Big Empty.  Not complaining about anything.  No clouds means no squalls.

Banana pancakes are on the horizon.  Because all the bananas ripen at once eh?  Don’t come down here if you don’t like bananas.

Beyond pancakes and cleaning is planning the arrival to Rangiroa.  No night arrival. Mid-day would be optimal.  So need to figure out if we need to go faster or slower to time the arrival.  And we have all day to do that figuring.  I will consult with the wind…

Cinqo de Mayo

5/5/17 1830 (630pm)

I wanted to arrive Rangiroa on the 9th and I think we are on track for that.  Barely a cloud in the sky tonight.  The moon lights up the neighborhood nicely.  After it sets the stars should sing.

Lynn ended up with a sore throat. That’ll sit on your good time.  We start watches at 6pm and she has gone down to sleep until 9pm.   But sore throat did not stop her from making awesome eggplant Parmesan.  Food on a boat is the best! We both got a lot of reading done today.  Amazing what happens when nothing is broken.

Nice 11 knot breeze all day.  Main and jib deliver 5-6 knots all day.  Will it last all night?  I’ll ask the Southern Cross….

More Cruising

5/5/17

Slow news day.  Nothing breaks and there is nothing to complain about.  Decent wind for half the day.  Excellent motoring the other.   Spill The Wine has enough fuel on board to motor to Rangiroa.  Not the desired outcome but nice to know.  At the end of Lynn’s 9-midnight watch another squall catches up with us.  Passes quickly and leaves us with not much wind at all.   As I start my watch I contemplate stowing the jib and motoring.  Hmmm.  I’ll just round up something to read and see what happens.  The squall has left the sea a bit smoother.  And the wind fills in better than before.  Soon STW is sailing along quite nicely on jib only.  This makes reading much more of a pleasure.

We are making decent progress. 423 miles to go.  164 miles made.  Looks like 5/9 arrival. Hopefully Not at night!

Quote of the day:
It can be so fun being what you are.  Figure out what you are and enjoy that thoroughly.

Cruising again

5/3/17

Hiva Oa was a beautiful stop.  We toured the town.  French baguettes available all over.   We met up with some fellow Puddle Jumpers.  And we met a French couple Patrice and Krystal.  Every time we turned around they were helping us with something.  Schlepping fuel or water, thirsty.  Great neighbors.  Their boat was the same Lagoon that Lynn and her husband John ran their charter business with in 2003-2007.  Flashback for her.

We were shopping for fresh vegetables.   Inconsistently successful.  As verdant as this place is, you’d think you could grow everything and anything in quantity.  Maybe you could but the fruits and vegetables here come from off island. Every couple weeks there is a supply boat.

We took on 30g water and 188 liters of fuel.  This did not fill us up but nearly did on fuel.  The watermaker will keep up with us fine for 5 days.

We were walking down the road and two young women approached us looking for crew positions to Tahiti.   Could be.  But on the day of departure  (today) they decided to stay two more weeks and participate in a marathon. Youth!  The wind changes and off they go. 🙂  They did come down to the anchorage to let us know.  Nice touch.

So it’s just Lynn and I as we head to Rangiroa where Nancy will join Spill The Wine and Lynn will return to her husband John at their home in San Francisco world.  Wind and seas are mild just now but a rain squall is brewing about 6 miles out.  That might be my second bath of the day.   It’s comfortable in the 10 kts following breeze at 88 degrees.  But if you move…. it gets hot pretty quick.  We are making 5 kts on jib only.  590 miles to go.  Should take about 5 days.  Goodbye Marquesas.  Hello 360 degree horizon. I think I’ll slice up a mango.

5/4/17 0100. (1am)

The first part of this evenings watch was moonlit making identifying the squalls quite easy..  now the moon has set and the stars are my next best tool. To starboard I have a great view of many stars.  To port it is dark.  Shower time? We’ll see.

Sea state is building a bit.  Earlier the boat was sailing pretty flat.  Now it is lumpier.  Moving about the boat requires more effort to keep your footing. What can i say.  Some people like this or that athletic endeavor.   I like to stagger about in my boat.  Should be an Olympic event!

Cruising is a different way to sail.  Don’t know when I’ve spent more time flying just one sail.  You want to fly enough sail to make 5 or 6 knots,  but no more.  More just makes the sail plan more work to manage.   Especially at night not worth it with just one sailor on watch. And it’s not a good day when you get caught by a squall with too much sail in the air. With one sail not much adjustment is required.  Just now the wind picked up a bit and she just puts her shoulder in and carries on.

The stars have returned to starboard.  That bit of rain missed me.  It feels good to be back at sea.  And the flying fish have not yet found me.

Baguettes & Beer

I’m having déjà report here.  If this is redundant forgive me.

5/1/17

We radioed to check in as planned.  Our agent was expecting us.  We did not have our paperwork together however.  Bummer.  Nobody seemed to worried about it. My biggest fear was that they would tell me welcome and no beer or baguettes for you until late you finish check in!  We got back in to the customs office today and things went well.  Nice people.

Went to town for baguettes and beer.  Interesting touring the grocery stores.   Today tried to figure out what was wrong with the chart plotter.   It dawned on me that maybe resetting to factory defaults would help.  It seems like it did.   Sailing in here on my phone mapping app seemed kinda iffy…   but it worked!  Good to have redundancy in this category.

Rebecca has arranged to depart French Polynesia and find her way back home.  She was great crew.  Lynn and I encountered two people looking to crew to Tahiti.  Now we are trying to find them again to get them on board.  We’ll see.  It would make for more sleep for everybody if they came along.

In the meantime having fun with the neighbors in the anchorage.  No real hurry to leave but we have places to go and People (Nancy) to pick up in Rangoroa!

Hiva Oa

4/30/17

As we got closer to Hiva Oa we got nervous.  There is no moon.  There is a big hunk of earth over there somewhere in the dark.  We bear away from the island a bit to be sure to clear.  Rains come.  Hard.  And  go just as quickly.  Hiva Oa is dark.  Where da population at?  We learn later the island sports a population of 2000.  And it is 22 miles long.

Finally we spot some lights on the south Shore.  Right where they should be.  We get our first whiff of land in a long time.  Earthy. Organic and spicy.   Welcoming.   We pull in and anchor in a small cove with a dozen other sailboats.  Some we know.  The valley walls rise up to the north, east and west of the bay.  Beautiful foliage supported by rain several times daily.  This is a good place to be a plant.

We get on the radio and make plans to take care of customs formalities in an hour.  Oh there is a problem.  Some documents missing.  Recoverable.  No one seems too worried and we reschedule our check in.  Off to town. Baguettes!  We feel happy to be here already.

Not sure what runs this town economically.   But not tourism.  They probably don’t get enough boat people coming through to make any tourist related endeavours worthwhile.  But they are very nice to us.  French is a fun language and I have some.  Many people speak some English.  Some quite well.  Beautiful place.  Anyway by the time we get officially checked in we will be restless and ready to move on.  Nuka Hiva will be our next stop.  Unless we change our minds….  🙂  Then on to Rangiroa to pick up more Crew.  Nancy Patterson will join Spill The Wine!

NOTE: Photos by Rebecca Schaaf 🙂

Land Lubbing

While Captain Chris & Crew get their land legs back, maybe you are wondering what I am doing, other than transmitting their adventures (or maybe not, in which case, you can wait till tomorrow).

La Cruz is a sleepy little town that has a few unique things going for it. There is a fairly large Gringo community, at least in the high season, but that is because there is a marina here. This is not a tourist town – no little shops full of chotchki souvenirs. The marina has lots to offer. There is an organized kid’s club that has lots of activities, including some to benefit local charities. They hold yoga & Spanish classes, and special speakers give presentations on a variety of subjects – like how to take the bus. There is a free movie at an amphitheater on Thursdays, where they sell wood-fired pizzas and beer. On Sundays, there is a Pike Place-type market where you can get food, artisanal cheese, crafts, clothes, flowers, etc.

Speaking of food, the restaurants in La Cruz are great! Along with some of the best tacos and guacamole (and Margaritas) I’ve ever had, there is great Italian, German, Japanese, Mediterranean, British, and Organic food. Tacos on the Street makes all their tacos using rib-eye! Diez Langosta makes Nitro ice cream! Cafe Shule’l makes me a green juice smoothie every morning (celery, nopales, parsley, pineapple, and fresh-squeezed orange juice – yum!!). Masala has a lovely wine selection. Ceviche is everywhere, and amazing. Several places make exceptional espresso drinks. A place called My Cakes makes the most indulgent chocolate cake you can imagine. Everything is fresh, home-made, and delicious.

There is the live music. Yes, there are traditional Mexican bands., but what I like is all the great Rock & Roll. There are a lot of musicians around here who play all over. There is an open mic night where they all just show up, group & re-group into various bands & play all evening. Notable are Leon, who plays the washboard, and Eddie, who plays the spoons!

Saturday nights, there are usually celebrations for the locals in the town square. That always includes music, but lately also rides & games for the kids, more food, dancing horses, and fireworks. The last few weeks have been a non-stop celebration of Pasqua (Easter), Semana Santo (holy week),and now La Cruz days. There are parades every night, and M-80s that explode every morning around 5:30. I guess it really doesn’t sound so sleepy.

There is, of course, a lovely beach. And there are very lovely people. Everyone greets you on the street. I make a point to greet all the dogs & cats (of course). And I’ve made friends. I’ve been lucky enough to have friends from “home” visit me while I’ve been here, too. It has made it easier while Chris is so far away.

Now I am counting the days before I fly out to meet him in the Tuamotus (look them up).