Fakarava, Tuamotu

Monday 6/17/2013 14:00 16 31.403 S 145 28.408 W http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:16%2031.403S%20145%2028.408W Fakarava, Tuamotu Posting by Dennis: We have been here now for six days. The first couple of days we spent exploring the little atolls that are just off the bow. We had a fire on the beach one night with Dreamtime and Estrellita. The next day while I was trying to repairing the grill, which I failed at, Barb added to the graffiti and added the signature ‘Land Fall 2013′ on the floating bar that was there along with other tables and benches that the cruisers have built around the fire ring. At night by flashlight we searched for a glimpse of the elusive coconut crab that lives on the atolls, with no success. I went and tried spear fishing. I think that I am going to try to buy one when I am in Tahiti. It is a lot of fun and gives you a purpose to go out and explore the coral heads that litter the lagoons of the atolls. Some of the coral heads that we have gone out to are four or five miles from the boat so one needs a good dingy and motor. You use a lot of gas running around. The last couple of days we have been snorkeling the pass which is the channel that you go into and out of the atolls. The snorkeling is incredible; you just fly along over the coral that is alive with all kinds of fish. You get used to having all the sharks around. A lot of the time you can see four or five at a time. They said that a couple of weeks ago a six meter hammerhead was seen in the pass with a five foot gray shark in its mouth. I would love to see that. The reef sharks we see are only five or six feet max and are pretty skittish if you try to swim much closer than three or four feet from them. It is like fling through an aquarium, with the unbelievably brightly colored fish. We are trying to take some under water pictures without much success, they just will not hold still long enough. So don’t look for many focused pictures to show up on the blog. Last night we were watching a movie and all of the sudden we hear a hard clunking noise, so we went on deck to check the anchor and the chain was tight straight down, which meant that it was snagged on a coral head. So at eleven o’clock I put on my snorkel gear and went over the side. With the dive light I could see that it was wrapped around the coral head so I had Barb start the engine and let out some more chain while I dove to the bottom and untangled the chain from the coral head. It took me several dives before I was able to get it all unhooked. Then I had Barb back down on the anchor and reset it. I turned off my light and it was really neat snorkeling around by moon light. It gives the coral heads dark eerie feel against the white coral bottom. Shortly I was back on the boat, rinsed off and we resumed with the movie. I love movie night, we have popcorn and lay and watch the laptop. Tonight we had another bonfire on the beach. There were probably eight dingys anchored just off the shore, you never run your dingy onto shore, the coral eats them. It was a great time chatting with people from all over the world and all heading to new and exciting places. Everyone is sharing information about different islands and were to go and were not to go. I find it very enlightening and I learn so much. Tomorrow we will be leaving this anchorage and heading to the West end of the atoll, it should be an easy forty mile sail.

Makemo, Tuamoto

Monday 6/06/13 16 39.422 S 143 23.590 W http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:16%2039.422S%20143%2023.590W Makemo, Tuamotu Posting by Barb: It was a fast sail from Raroia to Makemo. We even had to reef the main to slow down the boat. We arrived at the channel entrance at 4 am so we still had to heave to for 2 hours before we could motor through the pass. This pass was a ‘piece of cake’ now that we have the right time for the low and high tides. We headed into the small town and noticed that Rick and Kira on their boat Nyon were still there so we anchored nearby. It was a rolly anchorage and at times the boat would rock so much that the bow would take a dive and disappear into the water. We only stayed there a day and night to explore the town and pick up supplies. A couple of Baguettes, 2 small packs of Velveeta cheese (to use for Dennis famous bean dip) and a six pack of beer came to $30. We will not be stocking up the boat much in the Tuamotos. The next day we followed Nyon, navigating carefully through the hundreds of coral heads hiding inches below the water surface. It took us 3 hours to go 10 miles. We arrived safely at our new anchorage and we were greeted by white coral beaches, palm trees and teal, blue water. We were the only 2 boats there. Sitting on the boat and taking in the surroundings I realized that this is what I would picture as the dream vacation place! Hopefully the pictures we took will bring out the beauty of this anchorage. The flat dry, atolls are so different from the Marquesa islands. As soon as we were anchored, the four of us headed out to explore the islands. Dennis wandered off, as he usually does, and joined us back at the dingy to inform us that he had bumped into a local man who, in French, had invited us for dinner at 6. Rick, Kira and I were skeptical of the plan as we weren’t sure Dennis had interpreted the message correctly. Dennis insisted that we go. So at 6 we took the dingy to shore. We were greeted by the local, Otto, and his 2 friends. We were escorted to their home which was a 12X14 hut on posts and corrugated metal for a roof just a dirt floor. They sat us down and served us coconut milk straight out of the coconut. They were drinking some kind of alcohol drink straight out of a large plastic jug. It was obvious that they were getting drunk very quickly. Despite that, they served us a fine meal of Parrot fish served as Sashimi (raw fish), Poisson Cruz and deep fried. To go with that they had a huge pot of cooked rice. They stood over us and made sure we had everything we needed. With each sip of coconut milk they would come running with a new coconut for re-fills. Otto actually just tore the top of the coconut with his teeth and handed the coconut drink over to us. We asked that they sit with us and eat but they told us it was their custom to eat after the guests were gone. Kira could speak great French so she had to do the conversing and translate for us. It was an interesting night and of course we had to thank Dennis for that adventure. Otto invited Rick and Dennis to come back the next night to go Prawn fishing but that never happened as for the most part the ‘local boys’ seemed to be intoxicated every night. We gave them homemade banana bread as gifts to thank them for the fine welcome they showed us! We went snorkeling for the first time since we landed in the South Pacific. There were lots of coral heads to explore and an abundance of reef fish. Getting to the coral heads meant going in the dingy and heading out miles away from the shore and the boats. We would find a reef, jump in, snorkel for a while, get back on the boat and search for the next reef. I will have to get a ‘Coral Reef fish’ book so that I can start identifying all the fish that I see. There were of course a few 3-4 feet sharks swimming about. They were more interested in Rick and his spear fishing. Even though the sharks didn’t seem to be interested in me, they still made me nervous. Rick managed to spear about 5 fish in total. Dennis seemed to be very interested in the spear fishing so that may be a new toy for him. On our last night we were invited to have a fine meal of fish and chips on Nyon. It’s been so long since I have had ‘Fish-n-chips’, although it was the healthier version of Newfoundland’s Ches’s battered fish and deep fried French fries. After 4 days of hanging out together and spending the days doing boat chores and snorkeling, we said our goodbyes to Rick and Kira and motored out of the atoll on to our next island destination, Fakareva, a 20 hour sail.

Raroia, Tuamotu

Monday 5/30/13 16 02.419 S 142 28.284 W http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:16%2002.419S%20142%2028.284W Raroia, Tuamotu Posting by Dennis: We left the Baie D’ Hakahau on the May 30 and headed for Raroia in the Tuamotu atolls. The sail was very fast and we covered the 450 miles in just over three days. We caught another tuna the first day out, which Barb was not that excited about because she was a little sea sick. It was the first time she was sick since we left Chile 78 days before. I admit it was pretty rolly having twenty plus knots on the beam will do that. Having the wind on the beam gives you amazing speed, and at night it seems even more so. The first night the seas were at least twenty feet and were often breaking into the cockpit. The wind howled around in the rigging which just adds to the total sensation. We had the yankee out and the main triple reefed, it was a great ride! The tuna we caught just before dark and we made poisson cruz for dinner. The next day we had fried fish sandwiches and then the rest we made tuna salad. Fresh tuna makes the best tuna salad sandwiches. It tastes nothing at all like canned tuna. When we got to Raroia we plunged through the out flowing current, because Dennis didn’t figure the tides correctly, I had the plotter set to UTC time. Once inside the pass we motored along the islands and anchored in front of the village. The spot was very tight with coral heads all around us. We even scraped up against one as we circled around. The anchorage turned out to be terrible because the wind blew across the entire atoll and the boat bounced around badly. We blew up the dingy and got the motor on it, in spite of the back of the boat leaping up and down three feet. Then it was off to shore to explore. We had hardly gotten off the pier when we were approached by a woman who greeted us warmly and insisted that we come to her house for dinner. We were both taken back and basically just said ok. Barb was pretty nervous about it and very suspicious. She also told us about the town. From where we were standing we could see the entire town, one block south was the airport, one block north was the pearl farm, one block west was the stone church, and the pier was behind us to east. The airport was kind of funny because it had a huge parking lot and with only a half dozen cars on the island, it seemed pretty ridiculous. It is surprising just how many pickups there are on these little atolls, from what we can see it is more of a status symbol. There is nowhere to drive to. Anyway, after walking every street in town we headed back to the boat. After a couple of hours of rocking and rolling it was time to head back into the village for dinner. Barb was coming up with every excuse she could, she did not like going to someone’s house she did not even know. But off we went pounding the dingy through the waves. When we reached the pier Tatiana was waiting for us. Let’s just say that Tatiana has a gift of gab. So we learned all about her family and all the things that went on around the town. She cooked us a wonderful meal of steamed jack fish and some fresh poisson cruz, which is raw fish in lime juice and olive oil. By the time we finished that it was ten o’clock and we needed to head back to the boat. So we promised to stop by in the morning and look at some black pearls she had to sell. The next day was so windy that we ended up not leaving the boat at all. We just hung out, read, and did a few little projects around the boat. The next day the wind was not all that much better but we were tired of sitting on the boat and we were ready to leave. So we took the dingy to shore wearing our rain coats, not that they did that much good, walked over to Tatiana’s house were as soon as she saw us we had to have lunch. After lunch we watched her daughter do her traditional song and dance and then Barb was ushered into the other room to look at all the pearls. After her big purchase we said our goodbyes and headed back to the boat. The wind was still blowing twenty knots but we decided to leave, it is always blowing twenty knots. As soon as we started pulling the anchor up the wind went to thirty and it started to rain. By this time we were committed to leaving and the wind picked up even more. Barb ran the windlass and I was at the wheel. I did not realize that the anchor was free and the wind grabbed the bow and pushed it hard to the port. I yelled to barb asking if we were free and she nodded her head yes, so I gave it full throttle and spun the wheel hard over then Barb yelled that there was a coral head just ahead so I threw it into reverse. As soon as I did the wind grabbed the bow and spun it down wind. I tried to back us out of this little hole we were in but couldn’t back against the wind, we were slowly heading for the beach. So I put it into forward and slammed the throttle wide open and spun the wheel hard over and prayed that we did not hit the coral head that was right in front of us. I did not know whether I would have enough power to push the bow around into the wind, but we cleared the coral head and the bow came around and we headed out toward the pass to the ocean and safety. By now the wind was blowing over forty knots and the rain was coming down in sheets. I just headed us for the pass. It was raining so hard that at times I could not see the markers and the wind was on the beam pushing us sideways toward the beach. I just watched the plotter screen and at times we were crabbing sideways at a forty-five degree angle. I was shaking so badly, not just from the cold but from the adrenaline rush and the fear of knowing how close we came to losing the boat. As we entered the pass the current was blasting out and it met the current that was trying to come in it created a very messy sea with waves four feet high and eddies that were pushing the boat this way and that. Once we cleared the pass the current settled down. We raised the triple reefed main and rolled out the yankee. Soon we were doing over seven knots toward the next island, Makemo.

Raroia, Tuamotu

Monday 5/30/13 16 02.419 S 142 28.284 W http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:16%2002.419S%20142%2028.284W Raroia, Tuamotu Posting by Dennis: We left the Baie D’ Hakahau on the May 30 and headed for Raroia in the Tuamotu atolls. The sail was very fast and we covered the 450 miles in just over three days. We caught another tuna the first day out, which Barb was not that excited about because she was a little sea sick. It was the first time she was sick since we left Chile 78 days before. I admit it was pretty rolly having twenty plus knots on the beam will do that. Having the wind on the beam gives you amazing speed, and at night it seems even more so. The first night the seas were at least twenty feet and were often breaking into the cockpit. The wind howled around in the rigging which just adds to the total sensation. We had the yankee out and the main triple reefed, it was a great ride! The tuna we caught just before dark and we made poisson cruz for dinner. The next day we had fried fish sandwiches and then the rest we made tuna salad. Fresh tuna makes the best tuna salad sandwiches. It tastes nothing at all like canned tuna. When we got to Raroia we plunged through the out flowing current, because Dennis didn’t figure the tides correctly, I had the plotter set to UTC time. Once inside the pass we motored along the islands and anchored in front of the village. The spot was very tight with coral heads all around us. We even scraped up against one as we circled around. The anchorage turned out to be terrible because the wind blew across the entire atoll and the boat bounced around badly. We blew up the dingy and got the motor on it, in spite of the back of the boat leaping up and down three feet. Then it was off to shore to explore. We had hardly gotten off the pier when we were approached by a woman who greeted us warmly and insisted that we come to her house for dinner. We were both taken back and basically just said ok. Barb was pretty nervous about it and very suspicious. She also told us about the town. From where we were standing we could see the entire town, one block south was the airport, one block north was the pearl farm, one block west was the stone church, and the pier was behind us to east. The airport was kind of funny because it had a huge parking lot and with only a half dozen cars on the island, it seemed pretty ridiculous. It is surprising just how many pickups there are on these little atolls, from what we can see it is more of a status symbol. There is nowhere to drive to. Anyway, after walking every street in town we headed back to the boat. After a couple of hours of rocking and rolling it was time to head back into the village for dinner. Barb was coming up with every excuse she could, she did not like going to someone’s house she did not even know. But off we went pounding the dingy through the waves. When we reached the pier Tatiana was waiting for us. Let’s just say that Tatiana has a gift of gab. So we learned all about her family and all the things that went on around the town. She cooked us a wonderful meal of steamed jack fish and some fresh poisson cruz, which is raw fish in lime juice and olive oil. By the time we finished that it was ten o’clock and we needed to head back to the boat. So we promised to stop by in the morning and look at some black pearls she had to sell. The next day was so windy that we ended up not leaving the boat at all. We just hung out, read, and did a few little projects around the boat. The next day the wind was not all that much better but we were tired of sitting on the boat and we were ready to leave. So we took the dingy to shore wearing our rain coats, not that they did that much good, walked over to Tatiana’s house were as soon as she saw us we had to have lunch. After lunch we watched her daughter do her traditional song and dance and then Barb was ushered into the other room to look at all the pearls. After her big purchase we said our goodbyes and headed back to the boat. The wind was still blowing twenty knots but we decided to leave, it is always blowing twenty knots. As soon as we started pulling the anchor up the wind went to thirty and it started to rain. By this time we were committed to leaving and the wind picked up even more. Barb ran the windlass and I was at the wheel. I did not realize that the anchor was free and the wind grabbed the bow and pushed it hard to the port. I yelled to barb asking if we were free and she nodded her head yes, so I gave it full throttle and spun the wheel hard over then Barb yelled that there was a coral head just ahead so I threw it into reverse. As soon as I did the wind grabbed the bow and spun it down wind. I tried to back us out of this little hole we were in but couldn’t back against the wind, we were slowly heading for the beach. So I put it into forward and slammed the throttle wide open and spun the wheel hard over and prayed that we did not hit the coral head that was right in front of us. I did not know whether I would have enough power to push the bow around into the wind, but we cleared the coral head and the bow came around and we headed out toward the pass to the ocean and safety. By now the wind was blowing over forty knots and the rain was coming down in sheets. I just headed us for the pass. It was raining so hard that at times I could not see the markers and the wind was on the beam pushing us sideways toward the beach. I just watched the plotter screen and at times we were crabbing sideways at a forty-five degree angle. I was shaking so badly, not just from the cold but from the adrenaline rush and the fear of knowing how close we came to losing the boat. As we entered the pass the current was blasting out and it met the current that was trying to come in it created a very messy sea with waves four feet high and eddies that were pushing the boat this way and that. Once we cleared the pass the current settled down. We raised the triple reefed main and rolled out the yankee. Soon we were doing over seven knots toward the next island, Makemo.

Baie De Taioa, Nuka Hiva and Baie De D’Hakahau, Ua Pou

Monday 6/03/13 16:00 09 21.482 S 140 02.909 W http://maps.google.com/?z=7&t=k&q=loc:09%2021.482S%20140%2002.909W Baie De Taioa, Nuka Hiva and Baie De D’Hakahau, Ua Pou Posting by Barb: Baie De Taioa was probably the prettiest anchorage that we have been at the Marquesa. Once inside the bay you could no longer see the ocean so it was very safe and protected. The east facing pinnacles were magnificent and Dennis did manage to take some good pictures there. There were only 5 boats anchored there and one of the boats, Nyon, belonged to our friends Rick and Kira. Nyon is a 55 year old wood boat that they have refurbished over the last ten years. We arrived in Baie de Taioa shortly before lunch and within an hour we had jumped in the water and started the now weekly task of cleaning the water line on our boat. It is amazing just how fast the algae grow on the boat and how hard it is to scrub off. The next day Rick, Kira, Dennis and I set out at 8 in the morning for the 4.5 hour hike to the world’s third highest waterfall. The hike was breathtaking. It started out with a walk through the village surrounded by flowers and fruit trees. The place was like walking through a garden with all sorts of very unusual plants, at least for us. From there we had to cross over several swollen streams due to all of the rain that had fallen on the last couple of days, sometimes the water was waist deep with a pretty strong current. We walked through an overgrown forest which contained trees with twisted roots and thick foliage. Some of the trail went through ancient ruins with stone lined paths using boulders that would have taken dozens of natives to carry and ruins of the foundations of the Polynesian people that had lived there hundreds of years ago. All of it over grown with thick trees and vines. As we got near the falls the trail started meandering through a canyon and the wet mist intensified until we felt like we were in perpetual rain surrounded by lush green foliage. We could only see the top of the falls as the base was behind a canyon. Dennis and Rick attempted to swim to the base. They disappeared around the canyon bend and it left Kira and I wondering what was going on. I asked Kira how long we would have to wait before we could go ahead and eat their portion of the lunch! They returned after 10 minutes unable to get to the base as the water was too deep and the current was too strong. They encouraged Kira and me to jump into the murky water as they said it was very refreshing. Kira jumped in but as I am not a water baby and nervous about the large fresh water eel I saw the day before, I opted to sit and watch. Suddenly rocks started to tumble into the little pool from the overhanging cliffs and all three were very, very quick scrambling out of the water. We should have probably heeded the posted ‘falling rock’ warning sign! On the way back, as we were crossing one of the streams, Kira and I spotted an eel. It swam towards me and it had plans to go between my legs if I had not screamed and jumped. I had a premonition that I would meet the eel on our hike! We got back around 2:00 in the afternoon and had to row back to the boat as our dingy motor had died on the way in to shore. No fear, Dennis had it working within the hour after he cleaned the carburetor. We had supper on Nyon, Rick cooked us a wonderful spaghetti dinner, and we were relieved that we didn’t have to cook. In the morning we said our goodbye’s with the hopes of meeting up with Nyon in the Tuamotu atolls and headed south towards island of Ua Pou thirty miles away. Baie d’Hakahau in Ua Pou was a very rolly anchorage which required a stern anchor. The view of the town included a back drop of several beautiful spires which only made themselves visible occasionally due to the cloud cover. We of course hiked through the town and scoped out all the grocery stores. Dennis is such a wimp when it comes to the heat. That is our normal routine now at every anchorage. We had a great meal at Rosalie’s restaurant and we ordered our meal with the help of the Custom’s officer, who said he eats there everyday. He spoke relatively good English and suggested we order the ginger beef and the tuna tartar, both dishes which were not on the menu designed for the tourists. While we were in Baie d’ Hakahau I took advantage of the good internet connection and uploaded pictures to the blog. It meant staying up most of the night to get the best internet connection. During the day we hiked around town looking for the few supplies we needed. What we needed most of all was fruit, because we know that it is not going to available in the Tuamotu. They don’t seem to sell fruit in the stores because everyone has fruit trees in their yards or know someone to get it from. We managed to arrange to have a huge bunch of bananas, a dozen pamplemousse, dozen mangos, and a half a dozen unknown fruits delivered to the pier. After securing them to the radar arch, Dennis continued to work on the head again and it still is not fixed. So we said goodbye to the Marquises and started our 425 mile sail to the Tuamotu Archipelago islands.