21 November 2012

Haul Out in Paradise

After my usual coffee in bed, I peek my head out of our boat, high up on stands, for a view of clear blue water and swaying palm trees. I climb down the ladder for a short walk over coral sand to the bathroom where I say hi to the crabs...the hermit crabs that is. Did you know that hermit crabs are called Bernard l'Hermit in French? I want to know who this famous hermit Bernard is.

We wake up early to work in the cooler temperatures and spend our day working on projects on the shady side of the boat. Every once in a while my mind becomes aware of the sound of the wind rustling in palm trees and I smile to myself thinking how different this haul out is from our last one in Victoria, BC. Every once in a while a bit of rain accompanies a shower passing overhead, a brief break in a day of clear blue skies.

Midday is time for coconut water and we hack open a green coconut with our new machete and guzzle it. Neither of us have figured out how to drink from a coconut without dripping down our chins and so we've simply decided that this is the appropriate way to drink them. We stop in the afternoon and walk straight out of the yard into the lagoon for a swim before starting our final tasks and clean up for the day.

The proprietor stops by to hand us some freshly picked papayas and to start a fire for us to ward off the mosquitoes who are patiently waiting for the heat to die so they can attack us. With the outside tasks complete, we stand by the boat in our swimsuits, and soap up with a big pink scrubbie until the suds reach comical proportions before ladling heaps of clean fresh water over our heads from the waist high blue drum that the yard fills every morning.

We retreat behind our mosquito screens for the evening SSB nets when we can hear them, a quick overview of the day and the next day of work, dinner and a movie before heading to bed early.

As per usual, we had a few surprises in this haul out -- new things to fix. It is so much easier, with this scenery surrounding us, to work long hours on the boat and to keep our cool when we find another problem. In fact, it is fairly difficult to get terribly worked up about anything or at least to stay worked up for very long. The background sounds of waves, surf and palms in the wind work on our minds subtly like a new age soundtrack, with the French cruisers we meet providing the lyrics "Pas de probleme. C'est pas grave. Inquete pas."

20 November 2012

Rogue Waves and Determining Longitude at Sea

I’ve been meaning to write about two books that I read on our crossing from Mexico to the Marquesas that I had set aside just for that passage and enjoyed a great deal. Honestly, I thought I already wrote about them but I can’t find the post in my offline writer or on the blog so apparently I didn’t. Is there a cruiser version of senioritis or can I get senioritis before 40?

Both books are non-fiction and both are the type of books that, in my opinion, if you like the idea of the book, you will like the execution. If the idea of the book sounds boring, give it a pass.

The first is a book about rogue waves by Susan Casey called “The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean". Although perhaps a questionable choice of book to read while surrounded by hundreds of miles of ocean with no port in sight, I loved the book. I particularly enjoyed the fact that she skips back and forth between information and viewpoints from wave scientists, big wave surfers, and shipping companies and insurers.

The second book was about the discovery of longitude, or rather, the accurate measurement of longitude on land and later on sea. The book is “Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time” by Sobel. It is a bit nerdy, engaging and concise and I really enjoyed it.

I’ll bet your local library has copies of both or if you are feeling flush pick up a copy for yourself when you are ordering your holiday gifts from Amazon.

14 November 2012

French Sailing Phrases

I've been working on my French and I've come across a bunch of French sailing phrases that I love and thought I would share. Native French speakers (come on Letitgo, chime in!), please feel free to correct me.

Les moutons: Literally "the sheep" and it is the phrase used for white caps or "white horses". I love this because of the imagery of fluffy sheep on top of waves.

Les patates: Meaning "the potatoes" this is the phrase for coral heads or "bommies". Also, if you want to joke about a secret signal, such as saying "The eagle has landed" in the US, you can say "Les potates sont cuites" in French (at least in Quebec) which literally means "The potatoes are cooked".

A fleur de l'eau: Reefs that touch the surface usually have a completely flat top that is just underwater, or just touching the water, depending on the tide. The literal translation of the French phrase for these is 'flower of the water' but it means skimming the top of the water.

Petol: No wind (accent aigue on the 'e' so it is pay-tohl). One French dude we met said this had to do with Aeolus, the god of the wind, and the word 'pet' which is fart in French making the phrase "the wind god's fart". His girlfriend said that wasn't where the word came from at all but I pass on the rumor because it is a good one.

10 November 2012

For Sale: Kites and Guidebooks

We have crinkly, like new, most excellent condition 2012 kites in 3 sizes that we are selling at great prices. If you want to get into kiting, this would be a great way to get used gear from someone you can trust. Reason: We will be taking advantage of our visit back to N America to buy a new set of 2013 Blade Kites.

((SOLD)) We also will be bringing back our copies of two guidebooks: Charlie's Charts for the West Coast of the US (5 ed.) and our copy of the new, very well done guide for the Sea of Cortez. This is the set we used to move down from BC, through the US to Mexico. If you plan to visit the mainland of Mexico you will also want Shawn & Heather's other book.

For information and prices on either the kites or the guides, email us at s.v.estrellita@gmail.com

06 November 2012

Election Night on the Ocean

People have asked if it was hard to be gone from the US on election year and I have to say that I've really enjoyed being out of the US for this cycle. I don't hear a thing about the election unless I search the information out myself. No TV hyping the mini-drama of the day. No dire warnings of death and destruction of life as we know it if you don't vote for person X. I've been glad to be gone and although it requires some planning (and I almost screwed it up), it was easy to vote absentee.

That is--it was easy to be away until today. We're on passage between Tahiti and the Tuamotus and I was sitting in our sunny cockpit having a sandwich (on baguette of course) with Carol when I realized that TODAY was election day. I'm surrounded by ocean, with a single sideband as my only news source, and suddenly I felt very far from home. I love and I hate the festival of election night. I normally have a plan for where I'm going to watch the news come in, I make popcorn and I stay up until the election is called even if that means the wee hours of the morning. When Obama won in 2008 I was in France in a hotel room without a TV but at least I had internet access and I could refresh 10 different news sites waiting for more information to pop up.

Tonight, in between tack planning, horizon scans, radar scans and charting, I spent my watch flipping through AM radio channels on the SSB trying frantically to find a station that came in clearly that is news. After struggling through the French international news on the SSB and still not being 100% sure what the status of the election was, the American stations started coming in clearly and I heard that CBS had called the election.

And once I had the result, rather than listening to the pundits discuss the results, or people try to guess who the next cycle's candidates will be, I happily had the option to turn off the radio and go back to watching the stars.

05 November 2012

Leftovers

Here is what happens when you have some extra photos that you want to post, and to say something about, but not enough to write an entire post about. They collect in your photo organizers in a “resized for posting in blog” folder until you eventually have enough in a category that you can write a post about that category. Except…that I don’t really have enough of any of these to be comprehensive. So, here are some tidbits.

Read the watermarks or hover your cursor over the image for the info.

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Often we see crushed crabs on roads. They like to live in holes by and we think underneath the concrete on the edges.

 Crabs are the road kill victims of the S PacificUsable cloth inside the palm tree Rain catchment systems are built into most buildings on atolls Hurricanes destroy older graves

01 November 2012

Logbook: Raiatea

There is something very romantic about pulling up to a dock with hand laid stones in the center of a village. IMG_7006 (1280x853)We had stopped first on the West side of Raiatea to pick up some supplies from the stores by the two haul out facilities and then moved to the East side of Raiatea to the town of Uturoa.

When we arrived in Uturoa we hadn’t tied a dock for 8 months, since La Paz Mexico in February, with the exception of two hour-long tie ups to fill our water tanks. We haven’t even tied up to any fuel docks in the S Pacific. For one reason or another we always end up schlepping our jerry cans to the station.

IMG_7031 (853x1280)If you look at the tree line behind our boat, just to the right of the trees that you see in the photo is a park where people launch their kites. Raiatea had great constant, non-gusty wind when we were there. Unfortunately the launch spot is a bit too sketchy for Livia’s skills (you have to jump off a pile of rocks into the water with your board in your hand) but Carol kited until his abs screamed.

On our first afternoon there we went over the kiting area and asked questions of a local kiter about the entry. As these things seem to happen often, that conversation led to an invitation to a birthday party the next evening and our entree into the kiting gang of Raiatea. A group of really nice people that we’re looking forward to seeing again the next time we pass through. Thanks to everyone.

IMG_7056 (853x1280)Raiatea and Tahaa are two islands with a surrounding reef. The reef has joined so that the two islands are inside the same lagoon. They look somewhat like a peanut. We hiked the short but nice hike to the top of a mountain and took some photos. In this one you can see the right middle side of the peanut.

We didn’t anchor out by the lagoon which looks lovely because we were waylaid by kiting and because we spent a week pinned down by mara’amu winds. Note: mara’amu winds are the name of the strong ESE winds caused by a high pressure system (above 1026) traveling below French Polynesia. When people say a mara’amu is coming they mean that a high pressure system is going to accentuate the normal trade winds. How much they are accentuated is, of course, the important part to keep an eye on.

We were starting to get anxious. It was nearly the end of October and with Nov 1 being the official start of the hurricane season, and with an impending haulout still 300 miles from Raiatea, we were wanting to get further East. It was nice to be forced into a week in Raiatea by the winds because we really enjoyed it and we wouldn’t have stayed that long if we had the weather to move on.

We left under power for the Moorea-Tahiti area in light winds and calm seas. Blechity. Motoring.  We had entered in Passe Rautoanui on the West side which was wide and calm and exited on the East side from Passe Teavapiti which, in the light conditions we left in, was flat.

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Notes about the dock – the far South side, connected to the small boat basin, is the only place you want to be in E or ESE winds of any strength. The rest of the dock, which has better cleats and wood rather than concrete, is great in light winds but gets bad fetch when the wind comes up. We were told that if you come for a day or two, no fees are assessed but if you camp out too long they come by asking. We were there a week with no problem but a French boat that was essentially trying to live there for free was asked to pay. In high season the demand for the dock might be higher and you might try to free up space because many people come in just to buy groceries at the Champion right across the street. Great place to buy heavy things because you can roll your cart right to your boat.