Monday, September 29, 2014

29 September - Lagoon Sailing

0600 position 16-44S 151-29W. Tied to the Guest Dock, Apooiti Marina,

The wind was picking up from the East the day after our hike, and Haamene
Bay is not a good place to be in an Easterly blow, so we got out of there
on Thursday morning and had a great sail around Tahaa to more protection
on the west side of the island. On the way we stopped at "The Coral
River", an area where water flowing over the barrier reef is funneled
between two motus. The continuously flowing water creates an aquarium
like abundance of marine life - sharks, rays, reef fish, corals of all
kinds, vana. It is spectacular snorkeling. After an hour there we
continued on to a calmer anchorage in Tapuamu Bay.

We had planned to sail to Uturoa on Raiatea the next day for fuel and
water, but half way there we found the winds in excess of twenty knots
and figured that in those conditions it would not be wise to go to the
fuel dock, which was on a lee shore. So we changed direction and headed
back to Apu Bay on the South end of Tahaa, which is also well protected
in strong trades.

We stayed in Apu Bay for two nights while the trades remained brisk, but I
was starting to get bored so we decided to check out the Apooiti Marina
adjacent to Raiatea's airport. I needed to figure out how logistics will
work when my daughter Kendra flies in to Raiatea and I go to meet her
there in a few weeks. It looks like I will be able to take the dinghy
right up to the airport terminal to pick her up. That will be different.
We also needed water. It has become very difficult to find drinking water
now in the Leeward Islands, but here in the marina we can fill our tanks
with a hose. That alone makes it worth the thirty dollars or so it costs
to tie up to the pier for a night.

We were unable to raise the marina office on the VHF so came in not
knowing if space would be available. We found one empty spot on the
Visitors Pier and as we backed into it Jeff and Sally from Bainbridge
Island, Washington, off of the Peterson 46 "Grace" came to catch our dock
lines. They were very helpful in getting us tied up and filled us in on
the logistics of the marina and surrounding area. We agreed to meet at
5PM for drinks and pupus and the party lasted past 9PM. Great folks and
great fun.

Last night was our first night spent secured to a pier in more than five
months. What a different feeling. Apooiti Marina seemed safe and secure,
but we didn't have the isolation we do while at anchor. I'm not sure I
like it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

25 September - Enjoying Haamene

0600 position 16-38S 151-29W. At anchor in 16', mud bottom, Haamene Bay

We had a fantastic dinner at the Tahaa Maitai on Tuesday evening. It was
great to visit with Chef Bruno and his staff again. We can't figure out
how by himself in the kitchen with a single person wait staff he can
produce such a varied and excellent menu in an eight table restaurant on
an island where it is difficult to obtain raw materials. The Tahaa Maitai
is a must visit for anybody cruising French Polynesia.

On Wednesday morning we met Susie and Julius from "Emerald Steel" ashore
for our hike to the ridge overlooking Haamene Bay. What an interesting
pair! Sixty five year old Julius escaped from Communist Czechoslovakia on
foot at the age of eighteen, made his way across Europe, emigrated to the
US, went into construction and then the restaurant business. Susie hit on
thirty-one year old Julius on her eighteenth birthday in San Diego, and
they have been together ever since. Yesterday was Susie's fifty second
birthday. They got into sailing shortly after they met and decided to
build their own boat. They built a thirty eight foot steel replica of
Joshua Slocum's "Spray", the first boat to be sailed single handed around
the world about 120 years ago. Susie did all the welding in constructing
Emerald Steel. They have lived aboard ever since she was built. This is
their second South Pacific cruise and we are planning to meet up in Hilo
in November. They will likely spend this winter in Kaneohe Bay.

Our reward for the two hour hike in the still and humid air of Haamene
Valley was poisson cru and Hinano at Mac China Snack Shop, and it was just
as good as we remembered.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

24 September - Feels Like Home

0600 position 16-38S 151-29W. At anchor in 16', mud bottom, Haamene Bay

Monday wasn't the day. No fish on the sail from Huahine to Tahaa. The
lures were proven winners, but the water was too flat. What a great
spinnaker run from Huahine though. As the day wore on the wind lightened,
but it also came forward which allowed us to ease the pole forward and
keep sailing at full speed. A larger cruising yacht left Fare on Huahine
just as we passed and motor sailed behind us all the way across the
channel. He tried to catch us all day, but failed and entered Tahaa's
Toahotu Pass just behind us.

We had planned to head in to Haamene Bay, our favorite anchorage in the
South Pacific, but in the dying breeze we figured it would be hot and
humid there so we headed instead for Motu Moute on Huahine's eastern
barrier reef. When the wind is light it is the perfect South Pacific
anchorage in fifteen feet, sand bottom, about three miles offshore of
Tahaa and protected by the barrier reef. We made the right choice and had
a cool evening in the light breeze. The following morning we dinghied out
to the edge of the barrier reef, which is always dry, and explored seeing
black tipped sharks, exotic corals, reef fish, and giant clams.

Lori had planned to spend part of the morning cooking the breadfruit that
Paul had given us on Huahine, and I had to pick our way through the coral
heads back to Haamene Bay on Tahaa. Our destination was five miles away
dead downwind in about 3 knots of wind, so I pulled up the anchor and
drifted with the breeze back to Tahaa while Lori cooked below. I had just
enough way on to maneuver through the shallow spots, and when Lori was
finished we unrolled the jib and had a leisurely sail down the coast and
two miles into Haamene Bay to the anchorage at its extreme end.

Haamene feels like home to us. We liked it so much we came here three
times during our 2011 cruise. The cruising guides describe it as a
"hurricane hole", so you know it is protected. We love the Tahaa Maitai
Restaurant, which you can dinghy right up to from our anchorage 100 yards
away, the Mac China cafe that has the best poisson cru I've ever tasted,
great hiking, great biking, a good store, post office, and dinghy dock.
It doesn't seem to be on other cruisers' radars because there are rarely
other boats here. There was one other boat at anchor when we arrived
this time though, a Spray replica from Long Beach. We met the owners
ashore and arranged to take them hiking tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

22 September - Still Heading West

1200 position 16-40S 151-13W. Between Huahine and Tahaa

The anchorage in the lee of Motu Muri Mahora on Huahine's east coast is
one of Lori and my favorites. Being on the windward coast of the windward
most of the leeward island group, it is hard to get to unless you are
coming from Tahiti or Moorea, so there usually aren't very many boats
there. The anchorage is totally protected, could easily accommodate 100
boats, has a sand bottom 15 feet deep, and excellent snorkeling just swimming
distance away. We went there twice on the 2011 cruise so it was the third
time there for Moku pe'a. This time we arrived just after sunrise on
Saturday, and the anchor was down at 750AM. As we were getting settled a
local named Paul paddled his kayak out from the motu for a visit bringing
us two husked coconuts. Communications with the locals is often a
challenge unless they speak English. Communication with Paul was
particularly tough as he was deaf and mute, so it was sign language at
which he was pretty adept. He had a log book that he asked visiting
yachts to write something in, so we signed his book and gave him our boat
card and some Hawaiian macadamia nuts. Interesting guy.

We spent the next two days relaxing, snorkeling, and enjoying the
tranquillity of Huahine's beautiful eastern lagoon. A couple of other
cruisers came and went, but all were anchored far enough away that we all
had total privacy. It was lovely.

This morning after breakfast we set off for Tahaa. The forecast for light
northeasterly winds looked perfect for the crossing. Once again, the seas
are flat which makes Lori Lloyd very happy. We are screaming along under
spinnaker and full main right on course for Tahaa's Toahotu Pass, which
will lead us into Haamene Bay, our favorite spot in the Society Islands.
As we passed Huahine's northernmost point a mother and baby humpback put
on a show for us breaching, spy hopping, and tail slapping. I think mama
was teaching the youngster how to goof off. We've got the fishing lines
out in hopes of a mahi mahi dinner. I can't believe that we've sailed
more than 5000 miles without catching a mahi mahi. Perhaps today is the day?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

20 September - Heading West

0600 position 16-48S 150-52W. 7 miles south east of Farerea Pass, Huahine

The midnight to 6AM watch is when I feel like writing. When we are not at
sea, I'm not on watch so the blogs don't get written. But here we are
sliding along on our way to Huahine and I'm on watch in the wee hours
again. Lori is sound asleep in her cabin, auto is driving, and I've just
made my first cup of coffee. We are on a beam reach in about six knots of
wind heading north west. The passage from Moorea to Huahine is usually a
run, but the high pressure area passing to our south has brought the wind
around to the north east. Good thing too. Running in this light air
would be miserable. We'd be slatting and slow. The sea is as flat as it
is coming home from the sandbar. If the moon was up it would be perfect.

We departed Moorea just before sunset after a dinner of grilled lamb,
eggplant, and baguette. It is seventy five miles to Huahine, just
slightly more than we can comfortably do in daylight hours so we are
making an overnight trip of it. It's the only way we can be sure to
arrive with plenty of light to enter Huahine's lagoon.

Lori and I had a great time in Moorea. We discovered areas that we hadn't
seen before including the anchorage off of the abandoned Club Med resort
on the west end of the island. It was accessible through the Taotai Pass,
and we found a nice place to drop the hook between the mainland and two
small motus. That end of Moorea has lots of active resorts so we had to
put up with jet skis and speeding tour boats, but we had a good time
snorkeling with sharks, turtles, and rays between the motus and enjoyed
lunch at a restaurant on one of them.

We also discovered that we could hike to the top of "Magic Mountain" above
Papetoai Village when we saw folks standing on top of it from the boat.
It looked like a great place to view Oponohu Bay and the fringing reef, so
we asked at the Post Office in Papetoai and they told us how to get there.
Hiking to the lookout was great exercise for our out of shape legs and we
got some great pictures.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

17 September - Cruising Mode Again

0600 position 17-29S 149-52W. At anchor in 50 feet , off Papetoai
Village, Moorea

It would have been too much hassle to transport our empty crate of Hinano
the quarter mile to Carrefour and bring a full crate back, so we saved
that for Cook's Bay where you can dinghy right to the supermarket parking
lot. With our full crate of Hinano and some fresh baguettes we returned
to the boat, did some projects, then headed for Oponohu Bay, once again
getting the head end of the bay all to ourselves. Mitch and Jenna, who
were driving around the island that day, stopped and yelled at us from the
coast road. After a dinner of grilled lamb, fresh baguette, salad, and
Bordeaux , Lori got to see slides and movies of what she had missed during
the trip from Tonga.

The next morning we moved the boat up to Papetoai Village where Lori could
visit the Post Office and it would be easier to rendezvous with Mitch and
Jenna. Lori continues her efforts to single handedly support the Post
Office by mailing dozens of postcards from every place we visit. We had
planned to either go whale watching and fishing or snorkeling with Mitch
and Jenna depending on the weather. After we picked them up it looked
like a good sailing day, so we headed into Oponohu Bay for a sailing tour.
In the middle of the bay we encountered a couple of pods of spinner
dolphins so Mitch went swimming with them while we circled around under
sail aboard Moku pe'a taking pictures. The wind died before we could get
offshore, so we reverted to plan B, anchored out on the barrier reef, had
a picnic lunch, and went for a snorkel. We made it back to our anchorage
off of Papetoai just before dark and all went to dinner in their rental
car at Te Honu Iti (The Little Turtle) in Cook's Bay. We had noticed the
restaurant from our anchorage there earlier, and its waterfront setting
looked inviting. A fisherman walked into the restaurant right behind us
carrying a thirty pound bull mahi mahi, so we knew that was fresh, and
half the table had some of him for dinner. Lights shining from the deck
attracted wildlife, and we were entertained at dinner by sharks and rays
swimming in and out of the light. Another great day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

15 September - Moku pe'a's Excellent Adventure, Chapter 4

0600 position 17-30S 149-49W. At anchor in 50 feet , Cook's Bay, Moorea

The crew change in Papeete felt like the ending of one chapter and the
beginning of another in this adventure. It was difficult to see Matt go.
He is a lifelong friend, a great seaman, sailor, and chef, and I don't
think our voyage from Tonga to Tahiti via Raivavae would have turned out
as well without him. There were some sketchy moments out there, and I
knew I could rest easy when he was on watch. What else can you ask for in
a shipmate?

Lori's flight arrived in Papeete and she cleared customs just a few
minutes before Matt had to go through security to make his flight to
Honolulu, so we had a brief but enjoyable Tonga crew reunion in the
airport lobby. It was wonderful to be reunited with my sweetie again
after a month apart. To add to the excitement, Lori's high school
boyfriend and classmate Mitch Haynie and his wife Jenna, who were on their
way to Moorea to celebrate their thirtieth anniversary, were on Lori's
flight. They gave us a ride back to Marina Taina in their rental car and
we are planning to meet up with them Tuesday on Moorea for a sail on Moku
pe'a. It is a small world.

On Sunday morning Lori and I made a trip to Carrefour to do our
provisioning for the time that she will be aboard. I was in a bit of a
hurry because we also wanted to sail to Moorea that day, but it is
difficult to get out of a place like Carrefour in a hurry. Picture
Costco, but with everything you can imagine. We had a particularly hard
time deciding on wines, cheeses, and cuts of lamb. We did manage to make
it back to the boat in time for a pre-noon departure from our mooring.

The big south swell had dissipated so we were able to depart via Taapuna
Pass. The forecast for light winds was correct, and we ended up motor
sailing nearly all the way to Cook's Bay, arriving just after 4PM. The
mild crossing was perfect for getting Lori back into the swing of things
aboard Moku pe'a. The highlight of the day was the multiple pods of
humpbacks along the north shore of Moorea that performed for us and got
close enough to make us nervous.

Lori took a nap after we anchored, and I made a dinner of fresh green
beans sautéed in butter, garlic, and spices, baguette and brie, and a nice
Bordeaux finished off with some 52% cacao desert chocolate. Life is good.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

13 September - Storm Surf

0600 position 17-35S 149-37W. On a mooring at Marina Taina, Papeete,

It threatened to rain all Wednesday evening, but never really came down
hard. After the initial rinse at midnight, I put on my foulies and rigged
up the catchment system, but that jinxes things and it never really rained
again. Thursday morning it was still and humid. The clouds were down
near sea level and Shark's Tooth and the other peaks were hidden in the
mist. We decided that it was a good day to head for Papeete, so after
breakfast we tried to weigh anchor and get going. Key word is tried.

Robinson's Cove is a famous place, and over the years folks have
attempted different tourist oriented ventures there including picnic boats
and stops during circle island boat tours. They put down moorings which
were later abandoned. We managed to hook one of the hidden abandoned
moorings when we anchored, and realized it when we tried to leave. It
took about half an hour, and Matt graciously volunteered to go swimming,
but we eventually got free and were on our way at 830AM.

There was no wind, so we powered for an hour to Aroa Point on Moorea's
northeast corner. The wind filled in there from the north and we set
sail, shut down the engine, and headed for Taapuna Pass which is the back
way into Papeete and close to Marina Taina, our destination. It was great
sailing for half an hour until we got out of the shelter of Moorea, and
then were exposed to a huge south swell. The swell was no problem for us
sailing in the open ocean, but I knew there was no way Taapuna Pass would
be usable since it is narrow and faces the south. So we altered course
forty degrees and headed instead for Papeete's main harbor entrance which
is navigable in any weather.

Papeete's main entrance is busy and full of commercial traffic. One must
obtain permission from harbor control on the VHF before entering. It is a
hassle and to be avoided if at all possible, hence my preference for
Taapuna Pass, but we had no choice today.

The water that comes in over the reef as surf due to the large swell must
find its way back into the ocean somehow, and that path is always through
the deep channels in the reef, including Papeete's entrance channel. As
we entered Papeete Harbor we encountered a four knot current that slowed
our progress over the ground to about one knot. It was slow going into
the harbor and all the way to Marina Taina four miles along the coast
inside the barrier reef. Normally I would have anchored off of Marina
Taina, but in the chop and strong currents due to the surf I decided
instead to pick up and pay for a mooring and have some peace of mind.

Matt and I dinghied ashore, had a beer at the Pink Coconut, and went
shopping at Carrefour, the local Costco equivalent within walking distance
of the marina. French wine, fresh lamb, and baguettes. It's what's for
dinner. We were happy boys.

On Friday we caught Le Truck to town to do some business. We stopped at
the airport where Matt confirmed his flight out and I cancelled the
refundable Hawaiian Airlines ticket I had purchased in lieu of posting a
bond. We went down town to the ferry terminal to visit the Port Captain
and get our clearance documents out of French Polynesia, went to customs
to get our duty free fuel permit, and stopped in at the local marine
hardware store to get a spare light bulb for the mast head light and some
canvas waterproofing solution. On the way home we stopped in at Carrefour
again and picked up another load of provisions. It doesn't sound like
much, but civilization exhausts me and we came back to the boat pretty
tired. .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

11 September - I Love Moorea

0600 position 17-31S 149-51W. At anchor in 50 feet, Robinson's Cove,
Oponohu Bay, Moorea

Tuesday morning was clear and calm, so we weighed anchor and powered out of
Cook's Bay, along the barrier reef, and into Oponohu Bay two miles to the
west. I'd anchored in Oponohu Bay during all three of my previous visits
to French Polynesia, but there were still some anchorages there that we
hadn't explored, so that was the mission for the day. We headed west
inside the reef to the town of Papetoai where we pulled alongside their
first class wharf to look for water. They had taps installed, but all were
disconnected. We continued on along the reef in the small boat channel
until it got too shallow and we dropped our hook there over a beautiful
flat sand bottom thirteen feet deep. We were basically anchored out on the
sand shelf behind the barrier reef. We both went for a snorkel in the bath
warm water. Gorgeous.

We decided to stay there for the day because it was hot and muggy, and we'd
likely have more breeze to keep us cool than deep in a bay. The clear
weather disappeared at noon, and we had a rainy afternoon and evening,
perfect for cribbage, reading, Hinano, and a movie.

The weather started to clear a bit Wednesday morning, so we powered back to
Papetoai, anchored, launched the dinghy and went ashore to buy essentials -
baguettes and garlic. Then we were off to the most famous and picturesque
anchorage in the South Pacific, Robinson's Cove at the head end of Oponohu
Bay. Remarkably, we had the entire head end of Oponohu Bay to ourselves.
That hadn't happened since my first visit thirty eight years ago.

Our adventure for the day was a bike ride, and we rode and pushed our bikes
up to the "Belvedere" in the mountains between Oponohu and Cook's Bay. It
is a magnificent view, and worth the effort to get there. Then a long
coast downhill into Cook's Bay and around the headland back to our starting
point. We looked for our French pal who had been aground in Cook's Bay,
and were relieved to see that he was gone. I figure about fifteen miles of
hilly biking for the day, enough to get our butts and out of shape legs

Robinson's Cove is right up against a sheer 2500 foot cliff on one side,
the bay and rugged mountains beyond on the other, the "Shark's Tooth"
mountain made famous in the movie "South Pacific" on the left, and the
mouth of Oponohu Bay on the right. It is stunning no matter which way you
look, and the anchorage is protected and calm. The only downside is the
automobile traffic that whizzes by on the coast road. It is as busy as
Kaneohe Bay Drive. During my first visit here I recall a car every ten
minutes or so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

9 September - Wind and Baguettes

0600 position 17-30S 149-49W. At anchor in 45 feet, Cook's Bay, Moorea

Now that the voyaging is done for a while I thought that I'd ratchet back
on the Moku pe'a Reports and send them less frequently, but interesting
things keep happening.

It blew hard all yesterday morning, so hard that we didn't want to leave
the boat in case we started dragging anchor or somebody dragged into us.
Some of the gusts were well over thirty knots and had us healing over
twenty degrees. The wind had shifted ninety degrees since dawn as a front
passed, and the seventy foot catamaran that we were comfortable anchored
next to became a boat anchored directly to windward and pretty close
because they had out more anchor line than we did. So we kept an eye on
them all morning, but our proximity didn't turn out to be a problem. Our
pal on the Beneteau 41 finally woke up, realized that he was aground, and
never did anything about it. He's still aground again this morning, but
it's worse than yesterday since he was pushed even further on by the heavy
winds all morning. We ran into his crew later in the afternoon while
having a cold one, and he was as baffled as we were about the lack of
action. He said he's not in charge and does as he's told.

The wind finally moderated enough after noon for a venture ashore to do
some shopping. Fresh fruit and vegis, our first in weeks, and still warm
out of the oven baguettes. We went back to the boat for a lunch of sliced
apples, cheese, baguette and Hinano. Heaven on earth. There is nothing
like the taste of a fresh baguette to establish that you are truly in
French Polynesia.

The weather was unsettled enough for us to stay put all day. Today should
be nicer and we will move to the next bay on Moorea, Oponohu, one of the
prettiest spots on earth.

Monday, September 8, 2014

8 September - Civilization

0600 position 17-30S 149-49W. At anchor in 45 feet , Cook's Bay, Moorea

Tahiti's population is about 150,000, most of which are in Papeete. They
generate a lot of garbage, and some of it ends up in the sea. Once on
the sail to Point Venus, and twice yesterday on our way to Moorea, I found
myself diving to turn the autopilot off so I could steer manually and
avoid hitting large tree branches that were floating directly ahead of us.
The branches weren't large enough to hole and sink Moku pe'a, but they
could have taken off a lot of paint, broken the speedometer, or damaged
the propeller. One definitely doesn't want to be sailing in Tahiti's
coastal waters at night when you wouldn't be able see to avoid the big
stuff. I was amazed at how much vegetation debris was out there. You
don't see that kind of garbage in the waters around Hawaii. Perhaps it's
acceptable here to dump green waste into rivers, streams, or the ocean?

Otherwise we had a glorious sail wing and wing all the way to Cook's Bay
on Moorea arriving just after noon. We anchored at the head of the bay
among eight other cruising boats and then went ashore to seek out the
local Gendarme, who we were told we needed to check in with by the
Gendarme in Raivavae. After a twenty minute walk we found his office
closed for lunch. Walked back to the other end of the bay to find the
supermarkets all closed because it was Sunday, and walked back to the
Gendarme's again after he reopened. He looked at our papers, smiled and
said "c'est bon", and that was that. He didn't write anything down or
stamp anything. I think we are done checking in with the local Gendarmes.

We'd walked many miles by now, and it was hot, so we stopped in a little
bar/restaurant that we had already passed three times and had a cold one.
Inside we met a Frenchman on the Beneteau 41 anchored next to us. He had
sailed out here from France and was on his way back to the Caribbean via
Chile, Cape Horn, Argentina, and Brazil.

It was calm at the head of the bay when we anchored and went ashore, but
while we were having a beer it started to blow. We could see that the
easterly trades were still blowing outside the bay, but at the head of
the bay the wind was blowing strongly from the west, apparently a swirling
affect of the winds hitting the high mountains around us. It blew hard
all night with some puffs as high as thirty knots. We haven't moved, but
at first light this morning I can see that our pal the Frenchman's
Beneteau is aground in front of us. It doesn't look like he knows it yet,
there's no movement aboard. He must be a sound sleeper. He'll be fine
though. There's no sea here in the bay so no significant damage is
likely. It will be interesting to see how he manages to get off.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

7 September - Chicken Skin

0600 position 17-30S 149-30W. At anchor in 15 feet , black sand bottom,
Point Venus, Tahiti

Captain Cook needed to know the exact time to determine his position and
fulfill his mission of mapping the Pacific. Unfortunately, his
chronometer was a crude early version that needed periodic recalibration.
One method of recalibration was to observe the transit of Venus as it
passes between the sun and the earth, an infrequent occurrence. Captain
Cook had the opportunity to observe the transit of Venus here in Tahiti in
1769, and he set up his observation camp on the peninsula just in front of
where we are anchored. Now named Point Venus in honor that historical
event, it is a beautiful protected anchorage just four miles east of
downtown Papeete. We are sharing it with four other yachts, but there is
room for four hundred.

I have read a lot about Captain Cook's voyages, and get chicken skin
thinking about what he accomplished. Sailing a leaky old wooden boat that
could barely sail to windward, he fulfilled his mission on three voyages
to the Pacific. Ranging from the Antarctic to the Arctic, without an
engine, not knowing what was in front of him, with lousy anchor gear….
The contrast to modern cruising is amazing. We know where we are at all
times within a couple of feet, we know what's out there, we know the
weather, we have engines, stout fiberglass boats, good ground tackle, and
can call for help if we need it anywhere and anytime. Ocean cruising is
now remarkably safe if you use common sense.

We had a great sail yesterday from Tahiti Iti. We motor sailed for three
miles inside the barrier reef to the next opening, Vaionifa Pass, where we
went back out in the ocean for our thirty mile sail to Point Venus. Down
wind all the way with the wind in the low teens, we saw dolphin, humpback
whales, and even a fish before he struck one of our lures. Unfortunately
the fish didn't stay on the hook so it was spagetti for dinner.

Matt and I swam ashore and went for a stroll after we anchored at 3PM. We
are definitely back in civilization. Since it was Saturday the beach was
packed with city folk relaxing on the weekend. We are bypassing Papeete
today and heading directly for Moorea, which we can see in the distance.
I know that there are stores in Cook's Bay there, so that's where we are
heading first. We haven't been able to buy fresh fruit and vegis since
Tonga, and I am worried about getting scurvy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

6 September - On Watch

0600 position 17-50S 149-08W. At anchor in 56 feet, mud bottom, off of
Aiurua, Tahiti Iti

Night watches are over for a few months, but I am a creature of habit.
It is 5AM and I'm supposed to be on watch so sleep is elusive. It was the
rain that woke me at 4AM. A big rain squall rolled through about 10PM
last night, enough to thoroughly flush all of the salt from the passage
off of the boat, and I thought about setting up the rain catchment system,
but I was all snuffled up in bed and didn't want to move. After the
second big squall came through at 4 I decided it was time, so I got up and
spent the next half hour setting it up so all rain water that falls on the
deck gets routed into our two fifty gallon water tanks.

We're not low on water, but anything I can do to dilute the horribly
tasting Tongan water still in the tanks will be a benefit. We only just
switched from the aft to the forward water tank 2 days ago. That's pretty
good water management, seventeen days on one fifty gallon tank. My effort
to set up the catchment system should guarantee no more rain until we
depart this morning at 9AM.

Our arrival in Tahiti Iti went nearly as planned. After first light I
noticed that there was something wrong with the gooseneck where the boom
connects to the mast. A quick investigation revealed that the cotter pin
that holds the critical and beefier pivot pin in place had broken off.
The pivot pin had worked its way up, and now the gooseneck was twisted and
bearing on only one half of the hinge joint. This overloads the aluminum
casting and it probably would have fractured if we'd had a full mainsail
up, but because we had a triple reefed main loads were small and the
fitting was OK. We ended up dropping the sail to take the load off of the
fitting completely, putting the pivot pin back in position, and installing
a new cotter pin. The mainsail went back up, and we were back in
business. Whew, a broken gooseneck would have been a problem. By the
time we were done fooling around with the gooseneck we were approaching
the entrance channel. Roll up the jib, turn on the engine, jybe into the
channel, and the next thing we know we are in the calm waters of the

We powered up to the motu I recall anchoring at and exploring twenty eight
years ago, but it looked like people were living there now so we turned
around and headed back to an anchorage off of the small village at
Aiurua. We found a nice spot tucked in behind a peninsula that blocks
all of the sea and most of the wind. Very pleasant.

We are right up against the high mountain cliffs of Tahiti Iti. It
reminds me of the road to Hana on Maui. It's these high cliffs pushing up
the clouds as they approach the coast that is causing all the rain. There
is just enough flat land below the cliffs for some settlements, but its
not flat enough to build a road. So all of the transportation is by boat.
Yesterday afternoon the "school bus", a large outboard driven passenger
skiff, arrived first dropping off the elementary school kids and later the
high school kids. Water transportation works well for them because the
fringing reef is close to shore and totally protects the deep hundred yard
wide lagoon that is their highway. The lagoon is full of coral heads, but
they are well marked and the locals know where they are. We plan to pick
our way through the coral heads this morning when the sun is high enough
to the next opening in the reef, about a mile to the north, before
entering the open ocean for our sail to Point Venus.

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 September - Degrees of Difference

0600 position 18-04S 149-01W. 15 miles off of Tahiti Iti.

What a difference a few degrees of latitude make. We are now truly in the tropics. It is warm. I am comfortable. I feel
like going swimming. A few days and a few degrees further south in Raivavae I was cold. It looked like there might have
been good snorkeling there, but I wasn't about to get in. This is more my style.

Yesterday was more of the same, broad reaching under a triple reefed main rolling the jib in and out to maintain pace to get
us to Tahiti Iti just after sunrise this morning. The wind was up in the high teens, a bit windier than the day before, but
it was still comfortable sailing with just a little water on deck.

We've sighted no other vessels on this passage, and nothing in the water except a type of seaweed that we typically see on
coral reefs. It must have broken free from the Tuamotu reefs that are upcurrent and drifted here.

We will be arriving at Aiurua pass at about 9AM. The sun should be high enough by then for a safe entrance. We plan to
anchor in the lee of a motu on the fringing reef for the day and then probably off of the Aiurua River mouth for the

Both Matt and I are glad that regular night watches are over for a few months. I enjoy puttering and writing on my night
watch, but I like sleeping more.

Lori has confirmed that she will be joining me in Papeete the day Matt departs. Hurrah!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

4 September - Change of Plan: Tahiti Iti Bound

0600 position 20-16S 148-20W. Day's run 139 miles.

The Island of Tahiti is shaped a lot like Maui, with Papeete and ninety
five percent of the population on the larger western part, Tahiti Nui.
The smaller part to the east, Tahiti Iti, is spectacularly beautiful and
rugged. There are no roads around the eastern end of Tahiti Iti. It is
only accessible by boat, and there is a fringing reef with a couple of
deep entrance channels that provides a protected anchorage. I visited
Tahiti Iti while exploring the South Pacific in 1986 aboard Eleu, my
Ranger 33, and loved it. It is hard to get to from the west though
against the prevailing southeast trade winds.

Last night during my midnight watch I was staring at the chart plotter
noticing that we were going to sail right past Tahiti Iti on our way to
Moorea. Duh. We have plenty of time. So change of plans and slight
change of course. Now our destination is Tahiti Iti. Perhaps a night
there and a night anchored under Point Venus where Captain Cook witnessed
the transit of Venus, and then on to Moorea.

Tahiti Iti is a bit closer to Raivavae than Moorea is, so we'll arrive at
our destination sooner than planned. We've slowed down to ensure we don't
arrive before sunrise tomorrow. It's been a triple reefed main and jib
all day, and still we do almost six knots. It's easy sailing though.
With all the pressure off of the sails we can relax a bit.

Matt made the best seared ahi wraps for lunch today with a wasabi soy
mayonnaise sauce and cabbage, but I think the ahi is about to reach the
end of its shelf life. It is starting to smell like fish.

It was warm enough today to take a bath in the cockpit without first going
through a mental toughening exercise in preparation. Tonight it is a
single sweatshirt, bunny slippers and shorts.

Lifelong pal and KYC member Bob Braun was planning to join me in Papeete
when Matt departs. We had planned to spend three weeks sailing through
the islands before Bob departed and another lifelong pal, Dave Schaefer,
joined me in Huahine. Unfortunately, work got in the way of fun and Bob
had to cancel. I'm trying to talk Lori into stepping in for Bob. If any
of you see her, please encourage her to come.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

3 September - Moorea Bound

0600 position 22-31S 147-45W. 81 miles from Raivavae

After a peaceful night at the motu, we woke up, had breakfast, did our
daily sat phone email drill, and studied the latest grib files. It showed
that we were currently entering an ideal window to sail to Moorea with a
high pressure system approaching from the west and giving us southeast
winds. That window would start to close in about four days though as the
high moves past and the next low pressure system approaches. When that
happens the wind will back to the northeast, north and west. We could
chance it and wait for the next high, but that would put us dangerously
close to Matt's departure date from Papeete, and besides, he's never seen
Moorea. So we decided to depart Raivavae right away.

It is a 400 mile sail to Moorea, and the winds should be steady, strong,
and behind us the whole way there. 150 mile days should be doable, so
that makes it a two and a half day passage. Don't want to arrive there
at night, so it makes the most sense to leave just before sunset ensuring
a daytime arrival in Moorea.

So the heat was off to get going, and we went for another walk on the
motu, this time heading over to the windward shore. It was very different
from the lagoon side, all coral rubble, no sand, and lots of plastic
debris that had washed in from the ocean. No glass balls.

I'm always on the lookout for glass balls. As I type this I'm looking at
three of the five glass balls that we have found on Moku pe'a. They are
hanging from the starboard handrail over the settee. The first Lori
spotted in 2005 during our maiden ocean sail on Mokupea. The second was
found in Kawaihae during an around the state cruise my daughter Kara and I
took in 2007, and the third Lori and I found on Niihau last summer. Kara
has the one she found on Niihau on her sixteenth birthday in 2007, and the
fifth one that Lori and I found off of Makapuu while sailing home from
Molokai in 2010 is too large to keep on Moku pe'a so it is in the living
room at home. They all bring back memories of good times. Glass balls
are getting harder to find, but are much more common in the North Pacific.
I figure if I can find one in the South Pacific it would be a very
special memento, so I keep looking.

After our walk ashore we raised the hook and headed back to Rairua. Not
as much excitement with the coral heads this time, but there was some
serious zigzagging to avoid them. When we arrived back in town we were
surprised to see another boat at anchor, this one from New Zealand. We
spoke to them and they told us they were heading west from Chile and had
just come from Mangareva. They looked a bit shell shocked, and complained
that they hadn't seen much trade wind weather since leaving Chile. Sounds
like we are not the only ones with that recent experience.

We went ashore, bought some slippers for Matt since he'd blown his out
hiking, checked out with the Gendarme, and headed back to the boat to get
ready to go to sea again. Anchor up at 4:15, clear of the pass at 4:40,
and we were on our way to Moorea.

The wind has been as forecast and we have been sailing on a glorious
starboard tack broad reach in fifteen knots of wind aimed right for
Moorea. Moku pe'a loves it. The wind should be from this direction all
the way in, with perhaps a bit more velocity as we get closer.

We are heading just west of north, so are moving quickly towards warmer
weather. I can feel the temperature rising already. The cold has been
great for sleeping, but I'm sure looking forward to thawing out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2 September - Alone in Paradise

0600 position 23-53S 147-37W. At anchor off the "Swimming Pool Motu",
Raivavae Lagoon

This morning we dinghied ashore and went to the post office to mail our
customs clearance form to Papeete. We were required to do that within 24
hours of checking in. Then we went to the store to get some provisions.
We got some eggs, steak, and beer (the essentials). They only sell Hinano
here by the 16 oz. Bottle, no cans, so we bought a 20 bottle crate. Don't
want to run out. The plastic crate is too heavy for one guy to carry so
we each carried half as we walked the half mile back to the dinghy. We
were very popular with the younger guys that biked past us on the road.
Most gave us the thumbs up and some offered to help. We're pretty sure
they meant help drink it.

Once back aboard we got underway and headed for the other side of the
island. Raivavae's lagoon is nearly identical to Bora Bora's with a high
island in the middle surrounded by a motu fringed lagoon. It seems to be
about the same size too. The lagoon has far more scattered coral heads
though, and is poorly charted, so we had some sketchy moments with Matt
calling out shallow spots on the bow and me alternately diving below to
check the chart plotter and driving. At one point we found ourselves in
a dead end maze of coral and had to back out the way we came in. After a
couple of hours we found our way up into the lee of Motu Viamanu, also
called the swimming pool motu for its shallow water over sand that heats
up to bath temperature in the sun. The anchor went down at 2PM, and we
went ashore to explore. We walked the length of the mile long motu and
saw no sign of recent human activity. No footprints in the sand, nothing.
In fact it looked like we had this entire half of the Raivavae lagoon all
to ourselves. Since we came around the northern most point of Raivavae
we've not seen another human.

It is hard to believe that there is nobody here. This place is at least
as beautiful as Bora Bora, but there is no tourism. There's also far
fewer permanent residents. The guidebooks say less than 1000. I don't
get it, but it suits me fine. I like having stunningly beautiful tropical
islands all to myself.

Monday, September 1, 2014

1 September - The Land that Time Forgot

0600 position 23-52S 147-41W. At anchor off of Rairua Town, Raivavae

Had an excellent full night's sleep last night, the first in two weeks.
Awoke and had a great breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and then set off to
run the check in gauntlet. The two gendarmes on duty spoke english about
as well as we spoke french, but all four of us tried very hard to be
patient and polite and after about an hour we were done and everybody was
happy. It took a while because nobody checks in to French Polynesia in
Raivavae. In fact, they get very few cruisers here. We heard that we are
the sixth boat to visit in 2014, and all had entered French Polynesia
elsewhere. So the gendarmes were completely unfamiliar with the check in
process and had to consult their SOP manual. Slow, but all's well that
ends well.

After checking in we returned to Moku pe'a and I attacked the fixit list
winning battles with both the mast head light and stern light. The first
was the bulb and the second was just a bad contact between the bulb and
its socket. I did a rig check while up the mast. All looked good except
some stitching at the head of the jib. I'll drop it in the next few days
and stitch it up by hand.

We had planned a trip out to the motu on the fringing reef across from our
anchorage this afternoon, but this morning's sunny weather turned to
clouds this afternoon and it didn't look like fun. Instead we went for a
hike, found the road that bisects the island, and hiked to the high pass
in the middle hoping for some vistas to take photos. The hike was great
exercise for our atrophied leg muscles and the scenery was excellent, but
trees blocked the views from the top so we didn't get our photos.

Matt commented to me last night that he was struck by how quiet it is in
Raivavae. Moku pe'a is very noisy at sea. The wind in the rigging, the
water moving past the hull, the creaking of the joinery as the hull works
and flexes, the sound of the autopilot activating, the constant whir and
rattle of the wind generator - it is loud. And loud noises wear on us.
I'm pretty good at tuning it out, but Matt hasn't been aboard as long and
the noise, the wind generator noise in particular, grates on him.

Get off the boat anywhere and it is quieter, but it is remarkably more
quiet on Raivavae. There is nothing happening here. This is the land
that time forgot. Articles I've read say that it is like Bora Bora was
years ago. Try pre WW2. There is an airport, but there don't seem to be
any visitors. The only haole we've seen is the Gendarme. We've only
found 2 B&Bs, but both looked empty. No hotels, no restaurants, no
tourist attractions. The two art galleries we saw while circling the
island were closed. There was about 6 hours of action after the steamer
arrived with the distribution of the products it brought, but by mid
afternoon life on Raivavae was back to normal. Quiet. No traffic, no
industry, no music, just the whisper of breeze through the ironwood trees.
Even the dogs are well behaved. I haven't heard one bark yet.

The people appear to be remarkably happy and friendly. Everybody waves
and shouts greetings to each other as they pass on the road. Men shake
our hands and look in our eyes when they say hello to us. Folks want to
talk with us to see what we are about. This is not a tourist town.