The Sound of Effervescence

Can you recall the exact sound of champagne bubbles as they hit the surface of the glass? Soda makes the same sound as does some beer.

That is my favorite sound.

Not because of champagne, soda or beer - although I would love to have a cold one delivered to me here on passage (ice cream and a cheeseburger please too). But because that sound is one of the ones our boat makes when it is happy.

When we are sailing smartly, as our boat is slicing through the water, the hull on the downwind side (non-boating friends -- this would be the side that is tilting downwards) pushes down into each wave. As the boat slides down into the wave, it introduces a small amount of air into the ocean. By the time the wave has traveled further down the hull next to the cockpit, these thousands of tiny bubbles resurface making a mesmerizing, gentle, hissing, sizzling, bubbling sound.

I could listen to that hiss for hours, and because I have plenty of opportunity to do so on my midnight to 5am watch...I do.

170nm left to the Gambier Islands.

Day 5: Landfall

There wasn't much of a day 5 because two hours after the end of the fourth day we were transiting the South pass into Fakarava Atoll, in glorious sunshine, with the lagoon waters glowing various colors of blue and the coral visible from the deck at 50 feet.

We dropped anchor West of the pass, just in time for the first of a series of squalls that have lasted several days now. Hoping for the forecast clear weather to arrive before Christmas and we are looking for the next weather window to head further East. This isn't the time of year (for us) to stick around in the Tuamotus for long.

Day 4: Squalls and squalls

- Boiled eggs
- Tortilla rolled with pate

- Noodle soup from a package

- Cassoulet (fancy beans and wieners) from a can

Pinball is less fun when you are the ball.

Squalls have been batting us back and forth between them all day. The good news is that because the winds are up and the direction is changeable we've actually made a lot more Easting than we did tacking about in light fluky winds. The bad news is that as the squalls went away around nightfall so did the wind. Motoring...

We're getting to that point where we are starting to make covert expectations about landfall timing. We're still far enough away that all estimations of landfall start with "if the wind stays the same" or "if the wind is as forecast".

Carol and I aren't the kind of people who start estimating landfall timing from the first day. In part, this is because for us, setting goals like that can cause us to become overly frustrated with the wind, the seas, or sailing when they don't happen. The other reason is that if we are sailing nicely but slowly and we aren't going to make landfall during daylight we are loathe to start the iron jenny. So occasionally we have changed destinations, skipped the intended landfall and gone on to the next.

Hopeful for landfall in Fakarava tomorrow.

Day 3: All kinds of sailing

- Scrambled eggs with smoked turkey and chopped tomatoes

- Tortillas rolled with rillete de canard

- Smoked turkey curry on rice

- Trail mix
- Pear and orange
- Cucumber slices

We've had all different kinds of sailing today. Light flukey winds, 3 knots of wind (and a few hours of motoring), lovely 8-11 knot winds, and squalls.

The third day of a shorter-than-a-week passage is often my favorite. We're both in the groove by then. We've settled into whatever routines are needed for that passage. Radio check in schedules* and weather download best times have been sorted out. Usually the third day is when I start sleeping soundly on every off watch although that started on the first day this time.

By the third day we've also set up the boat fully for passage. On the first day we are often still running preventers or other lines we might need. In the first two days we are hunting down things inside the boat that are knocking or banging and need cushioning or restraining. Although the boat is "safe" on the first day, the third day is usually when it starts feeling fully set up for sea.

*We often check in on the Pacific Seafarers' Net at 0330Z on 14,300USB and we're on the roll call right now.

Day Two: Mehetia and Upwind Cruising

Carol Pre-breakfast
- Last of the baguette
- Rillette de canard

- Scrambled eggs with smoked turkey

- Sliced mild chorizo on baguette with cucumber slices
- Handfull of spicy tortilla chips

- Smoked turkey, carots and peas in white sauce

- Remainder spicy tortilla chips
- Pear and orange

We tacked near Mehetia which is a small pyramid shaped island SE of Tahiti (17 52.6S, 148 07W). The island seemed to have an Estrellita magnet installed as we were fighting light flukey winds and our tacks always seemed to have us pointing at Mehetia.

Today was one of those "why are we doing this days" where the lightness of the wind, combined with its sudden shifts in angle make tacking into challenging. The actual sailing has been beautiful -- great weather, flat seas -- but when you know that you are hardly making any way toward your intended goal it takes some of the pleasure out of it.

Thankfully the winds filled in by early evening and we sailed nicely throughout the night. It's always easier to fight for miles during daylight.

We've been sleeping like champions. I don't know if it is the flat seas or the aftermath of a stressful few months but we are both sacking out hard and feeling rested because of it. Carol takes the watch at 5am and feeds himself something until I get up around 9am and cook breakfast.

Wait, what? Rewind. Livia does all of the cooking?! Yes, at least on passages I do. Carol get nauseated just slicing a carrot down below. He can eat, navigate, whatever he wants downstairs, but the second he starts food prep he gets green. It works out well because I'm quite happy to never do dishes underway.

Day One: Sailing with Tahiti

- On our own

- Sliced mild chorizo on baguette
- Handfull of spicy tortilla chips

- Smoked turkey drumsticks
- Sliced tomato

- Cashews
- Pear
- Tahitian avocado

Carol woke up at dawn, slipped the line from our mooring at Marina Taina and motored around the corner to the North side of Tahiti, winding his way through the channel at the airport after contacting "vigi" (harbor control). I stumbled out of bed and joined him as we exited the main pass of Papeete and unfurled our sails.

Not long afterwards we hit a good squall. Our friends aboard SV Cariba had set off recently on a "belle fenetre" (good window) for the Marquesas from the Tuamotus and had a convergence zone form on their heads. During the squall, we sat there hoping that the same wasn't about to happen to us. Not the case, as we have had nothing but beautiful blue skies since.

We're going upwind again - another leg of upwind sailing against the tradewinds. This is the story of most of the boats we know of that are moving around on passage in this section of the ocean at this time of year. Boats beating their way to Hawaii, or to the Marquesas. This tack fest led us to sail all of the way down the east coast of Tahiti which was a visual treat and amusing because at sunset, after a full day of sailing, we could still see the island that we had departed. Tahiti is oriented NW-SE and so our SE tack took us to the tip of Tahiti.

The stores in Tahiti are stocked with special Christmas foods which in France apparently means a lot of unusual types and preparations of meat. We scored by finding an entire smoked (pre-cooked) turkey just before leaving on passage and it is delicious.

The wind angle is a bit changeable, forcing us to tack more often than we would prefer but with mild but steady winds, mellow seas, and blue skies, we aren't complaining. With the mellow seas keeping the boat moving gently, the day was a mellow mix of keeping watch in the shade of the bimini and napping down below. The night brought a full moon, rising right at sunset, and staying with us all night.

(If you haven't read it already, the format of this passage diary is an homage to "The Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew by Lin Pardey.)

When life gives you lemons, grope stingrays



P1010886Forced back to Tahiti* for storm repairs, we’ve been working on trying to not lose our cruising while dealing with repairs and claims.

P1010895We actually love Tahiti and nearby Moorea and we had a chance to hang out a lot with our Tahiti friends, make some new Tahiti friends and also hung out a bunch with Gab and Isa on Cariba on their way back from the Cook Islands.

We’ve been making time for some fun, enjoying old favorites on these islands (how long have we BEEN here exactly??!) and taking the time to see and do some things we had missed – like rent scooters on Moorea. Super fun!

We also revisited the stingray feeding and groping site in Moorea. It was fun to go with some people who had never been. We went twice ourselves. We’ve been doing some kiting and catching a lot of sunsets.

We are scheduled to go back in the water this Monday. Let the adventures begin again! Oh, and be prepared for a crapload of boatwork posts as I sort through the haul out chores.

*I know, I know, cry me a river.

What’s inside your binnacle?


P1020032Because the idea of losing steering in a pass in a remote atoll gives me the heebie jeebies, we like to give our steering mechanisms regular love.

We have a steering quadrant and it is relatively easy to keep an eye on those cables. P1020031It is a little more difficult, but not too painful, to give the chain from the quadrant to the wheel a visual check and some grease.

First we took off the compass, then a cover plate, and voila this is what our massive chain looks like – like a big bike chain. You can also see the levers for our gear shifter and our throttle.


We cleaned things up and regreased and put things back together – peace of mind (for a while) again. Another tick on the ever present to do list.

Rope Wheel Cover


Our leather wheel cover had slowly evolved from “weathered” to “salty” to “embarrassing”. P1020061Yet, we didn’t replace it until it busted open – good cruisers that we are. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for leather wheel covers in the automotive section of various hardware stores until I saw a simple rope wheel cover on a forum. There are quite elaborate rope work options for covering your wheel but I wasn’t really willing to put more than a day of my life into the project and so simple it was.

I bought 60 meters of 4mm nylon line and ended up with some leftover.

P1020065First we stripped off the old leather cover which left bits of itself stuck to the stainless wheel and had to be scrubbed off.

Then I tied the nylon line to one of the spokes and began wrapping. When I reached the next spoke I tucked the line down, half way around the spoke, and then back up onto the wheel, and started wrapping in the opposite direction. Each time I finished a pie wedge, I milked the line tight before transiting the spoke.

Two things I wish I had done at this point were: 1) put the line on a hand spool of some sort, such as you use for handline fishing to make the wrapping easier and 2) not bothered to wet the line when I started and rather just wet it later in the process.

P1020066Hours later when I had finished the wheel I tied the two ends together with a square knot and wet the entire wheel. Then I started half way around the wheel from the knot and milked the line toward the knot and retied the line taking up the slack. Then I went back to the half way point and milked the line the other way.

I’m leaving the square knot for now until I milk the line another time or two and then will probably whip the two bitter ends together and then put something decorative over the whipping.

P1020067Tip: I set things up so that the knot is at the wheel’s top when the rudder is centered. When I put the decorative bit this will help us find that center by feel.

New Money in French Polynesia


P1020016On January 20, 2014 French Polynesia will be getting brand spanking new money.

I’m a big fan of the new 1000 (~10USD) which has a manta ray and a turtle on it.

Old bills will be accepted through Sept 30, 2014 so this won’t affect most people transiting through the country in next year’s puddle jump but don’t save your old bills for next year in New Caledonia or Wallis & Futunu.

Tahiti Hike: Lavatubes

P1010796 P1010764
After underestimating the intensity of the 4x4 action that was the approach road for this hike, we didn’t have time to make it all of the way to the 3rd lavatube and back in daylight and we certainly weren’t driving that road in the dark.  Let the adventure begin…

P1010793The road is closed to cars unless you pay 2000CFP. It was a beautiful area with some pretty views down the valley to the ocean.

The main reason that people visit is to climb through these caves (the tubes) and to see a bunch of small waterfalls in a jungle setting. We had a blast and on a weekday in October, had the entire place to ourselves except for a lone mountain biker we met on his way down the road while we were driving up.

Despite being recovering (on break?) rock climbers, or perhaps because of it, neither Carol or I love pulling down on ropes that we can’t see the attachments for and so we opted to swim the first lavatube which was spooky, fun, and refreshing in the heat.

P1010767 P1010775
P1010801 This decision became a little more spooky when later in the hike we caught a glimpse of a two foot long fresh water eel. I’m sure we aren’t in their normal food chain but I’m also sure I don’t want to jump on top of one while it is swimming in a dark cave. Something I got to consider on our way back down to the first lavatube in detail.

The entire hike had a surprising lack of bugs despite the humidity, heat and greenery. We encountered a few clouds of gnats but not a lot more. Good thing with the dengue going around Tahiti right now.

There is something so relaxing about stone hopping in a river. The concentration, the sound of the running water. We both loved this hike.


Liquid Motivation: MOVIES!


To have internet strong enough to be able to rent movies to our laptop is a rare thing for us on this leg of the journey. On top of that, to have a huge HD TV that we can plug into the laptop and watch said movies, is a real treat. The last time we saw a film in the theater was in February and I don’t expect to have the opportunity again for more than a year. The first thing we did, as the narcissists that we are, was to watch some of our own movies which were filmed in HD on an actual big HD screen. Way nicer looking than on our laptop.

Sunset over MooreaWe rented a bunch of movies and while I won’t bore you with our thoughts on the run-of-the-mill comic and other movies we rented, I will mention two sailing and/or ocean related films that we saw.

The first ocean related movie was the most recent version of Kon-Tiki. I’ll start by admitting that I haven’t read the book by Heyerdahl or seen any other versions of the movie. I thought the movie was beautifully filmed, was interested to find out that Thor’s wife’s name was Liv, and, having made my own less dramatic landfalls, I was impressed by the emotional enormity of that particular landfall to the men aboard.

The second ocean related movie was Chasing Ice. If you want to be deeply disturbed by glacier retreat while at the same time overwhelmed by beautiful pictures of ice formations, this is your film. I’m very glad we had a chance to see it.

THANK YOU MOM! We put your donation to good work.

In other news, I’ve started making a collection of sailing films, mostly freely available online here. It isn’t finished yet and I’ll write more when it is.

Tahiti Hike: Jardin d’eau Vaipahi


jardin d'eau vaipahi

jardin d'eau vaipahi Here we are in Tahiti with access to a car (Thanks Sugi!) and so we decided to do some hikes that would be difficult to do as cruisers with just a dinghy. Unfortunately, as soon as we made that decision it poured rain for several days which made a lot of the approach roads impassable even with a 4x4 and turned the trails into mud slicks.

jardin d'eau vaipahiThe first day without rain we chose a hike with a trailhead on the main paved road and which was relatively easy and not too long in case it started pouring again. We complicated matters by accidentally bringing two left hiking/running shoes for me and so I had the additional challenge of doing the hike in Carol’s slightly-oversized-for-me flip flops. Sliding in the mud while my feet slid in the flip flops was actually quite amusing.

carol at jardin d'eau vaipahi The first part of the hike is really a meander through a tended garden which was much more interesting and beautiful than I would have expected. There are a bunch of different kinds of bamboo, water lilies, and some very nicely laid out garden art. And before you even start the trail there is a gorgeous waterfall.

After the meander, the hike ascends through a series of switchbacks until (if you start with the Souther/right most branch of the loop) it reaches a great overlook (see first photo above). You can see Tahiti Iti to the left, the lagoon and reef straight ahead. There are picnic tables and a breeze and I can see hiking to it just for lunch.

livia at jardin d'eau vaipahiThe rest of the trail is a wide, mellow, maintained, relatively flat trail that loops a ridge bringing you to the other side of the valley and back around to another muddy switchback down the trailhead. It was relaxing and beautiful and instead of vistas you had the feel of a British Columbia/Washington State rainforest – pine needles soft underfoot, ferns, moss on the trees, the damp smell of rotting vegetation.

We took a peek up the river trail and plan to do that another time with “real shoes”. Seems to be full of mini waterfalls and pools. Except for kiting, as cruisers, our legs don’t get as much exercise as we would like…stay tuned for more hikes.

Liquid Motivation: Post Whores

PhotoGrid_1381450010067 As it turns out, we are post whores.

As Carol always says, “I’m easy but not cheap”, or as I used to say as a consultant, “You can’t buy my opinion but you can buy my time.”.

It turns out that aboard SV Estrellita 5.10b, blog posts are actually for sale. Well, the content isn’t for sale but the topics definitely are.

Our Paris Fan Club (membership: 1 as far as I know) has asked us if we might post a little more about our feelings on the Pretorien after more than 6 years of ownership and more than 3 years of full time cruising.

photo 3_20131021155643734It’s a great topic, and though Doug O was not seriously trying to buy a post (but he could, they are seriously for sale…bring it), we will be addressing the topic shortly.

Thank you Doug O for two rounds of happy hour “proper” beers in Tahiti and a night of live music accompanied by a round of “not happy hour” drinks a different night.

The Cruisers (Prepper, Doer, Armchair or Otherwise) FutureMe Challenge

Yeah, yeah, cruisers aren't supposed to like plans. But we make them and we do love to dream about future destinations. I love dreaming and planning. Plans are great as long as the word is flexible.

My non-boating friends should definitely play as well.

So, where will you be in 1 year? 2 years? 3 years? Even more fun, where will your friends be in 1, 2 and 3 years?

The Cruisers (Prepper, Doer, Armchair or Otherwise) FutureMe Challenge: Instructions

1) Get a glass of wine (or whatever) and sit around with someone you like to chat with and discuss the following questions. Or, keep your thoughts private and do this in your cubicle or at your nav station.
  • Where will you be in 1 year? 2 years? 3 years? 
  • Where will your friends be in 1, 2 and 3 years?
  • If you like, where will the crew of Estrellita 5.10b be in 1, 2, and 3 years?
2)  Go to* and write yourself an email answering those questions. Change the delivery date to Nov 1, 2015. Add this text to the end of your email: "Go to and report back!" Send this email.

3) Important: will send a validation email to the address you used. You must click on the link to validate your request or the email will not be sent (in the future).

4)  In 2 years, will send your email to the address you specified. When you receive your email, click on the link and report back here. How far off (or not) were you?

Carol and I have a bottle of wine and are going to sit down watching the sunset over Tahiti and play right now!

*I have no affiliation with this service. I have used it in the past successfully with our gmail account and never noticed any spamming. They promise they don't.

Free French Polynesian Music

Did you enjoy the song in our recent video? Want a taste of contemporary French Polynesian music for your next party/playlist?

If so, you can download the song from our video (Hinenao) and another Takanini song by clicking on this link to Takanini's facebook page and then clicking on the "download free music from Takinini" link. From there you can download two of their songs with their permission.

We are not affiliated with the band. Just fans. Enjoy!

The Luxury of 35 feet

Let’s just ignore all of the people who would give up their first born in order to have a well found 35 foot cruising boat (and the time and health and finances to use it) and indulge in the luxury of discussing high class “problems” like the fact that our boat is usually the smallest in an anchorage. It has become such a funny truism that once I said “look at the small boat sailing in” and it turned out it was another Pretorien. Even *I* am calling our boat small even though I know people on smaller boats. And the number of times that I’ve had someone say upon meeting me ashore “oh, you are on that small monohull in the anchorage” is adding up.

GOPR3941 In the high class world of people traveling by private sailing yacht, our boat is on the small size. So how can I describe Estrellita as “luxurious”?
Let’s leave aside all of the ways that a Pretorien, at 35 feet, is actually more capacious and faster than many larger vessels. What I actually mean when I say the “luxury of 35 feet” is the luxury that we have gained by NOT buying the biggest boat we could afford. Like most people preparing to set off, we had a budget for our cruising boat and a budget for our refit. When we purchased the boat we bought below our purchase budget.

First, this allowed us to be more generous on the refit in the gear we purchased. Second, we’ve considered upsizing more than once and the main reason that we keep coming back to when we decide not to upsize (beside the fact that prepping again might kill us) is that by having a smaller boat, with smaller gear, and by not maxing out our budget, we not only had more money for the refit, we have more money now.
If we upsized our boat we would have to downsize our “living large” fund. Everyone is different, and certainly every cruising budget is different, but for us, the limitations of our physical space on a 35 foot boat are not as important as the limitations we would have to put our our spending if we bought a larger boat.

Bottles of wine? Plane tickets? New kites? …or a bigger boat. Where do you stand?

PS - If anyone wants to donate their used Outremer, Atlantic or Swan we will happily accept your generous upsizing offer. Or your own suggested better-than-that-list sexy sailing machine.

French Polynesia Long Stay Visa (Part 2)


IMAG0202Background: I wrote about our initial application here and about the recent changes in the customs laws here.

Just over a month after our application we received notification that we had been approved. With an expected time of up to 3 months, this was unexpected but great. We changed our flights back to French Polynesia from late April to early March and made plans to head to the French Consulate in Vancouver with passports in hand for the visa to be entered. Our visit went smoothly without any surprises.

IMAG0190Upon arrival in French Polynesia we contacted the office in Papeete  that deals with long stay visas downtown and arranged to meet with the official a few days after our arrival. We brought our passports with visas and also a stamp from the post office worth 9000 CFP (about $100) which we initially thought we had to have per person but it turns out we could purchase “per family”. The official created two Carte de Sejour with the photos and the stamp and we were officially long stay visa holders!

On the back of the visa there is room for multiple stamps. We were told at the office that the visa is good for one year and can be extended for multiple years with additional 9000 CFP stamps and a visit to the office. She told us that there was also an office in the Marquesas that could perform our renewal.

Losing Your Cruising


Whenever Carol or I get stressed out about something silly, we jokingly ask each other “Are you losing your cruising?” – as in, are all of the hours of relaxation gone in an instant because of some very silly thing like (literally) spilt milk?

IMAG0024 We also apply the phrase “losing your cruising” to the more unfortunate phenomena of cruisers who get pissy about locals while running boat errands.

How is it that a group of people (cruisers) who have made the conscious choice to prioritize their lifestyle over the endless pursuit of material goods, when in “boat errand mode” suddenly are unable to respect someone else (a South Pacific Islander for example) prioritizing their own lifestyle over the endless pursuit of material goods?

((if your brain hurts right now, I empathize, so does mine))

It is as if the relaxed, laid back cruisers flip a switch in their behavior when they go to do errands that puts them in “business mode”.

While in business mode, they expect that people will hold to a fixed schedule, will proactively force things to happen instead of reacting to events outside of their control and will value money over a balanced life.

IMAG0003_20130809083155278Once business and boat errands are finished, the cruisers go about enjoying their completely unfixed schedule, reacting to the weather and opportunities that come up, and continue valuing their lifestyle over the endless rat race.

Let’s all try this: When doing boat errands, refuse to lose your cruising.

Livia’s Kite Spot


P1010498You might remember me whining about my struggle to learn to ride a kiteboard. After finally getting out of the water, on top of the board, and to the point where I could ride and (usually) stay upwind, we promptly took a 6 month break from kiteboarding.

When we returned to the Tuamotus, I struggled to retain my gains in the face of gusty wind, sharp coral rubble beaches, coral heads and currents ripping through false passes. I had fun but in order to have fun I had to pick and choose my conditions carefully to match my skill level and I didn’t get a lot of time on the kiteboard. When I picked poorly I reached that special level of frustration people get to when they know they could do something if the conditions would just freaking cooperate. That is…until we reached Rangiroa.


P1010348SE Rangiroa is a kiteboarding dream. Miles of knee deep water, over true sand (not coral bits), with no obstructions and a clear unobstructed path for the wind. You ride with the sun reflecting off the white sand, warm clear water, occasional strips of brilliant blue when the water rises above knee deep. The area appears to be a nursery for various aquatic life and we kited with absolutely adorable 1’ long wee black tip sharks and meandering sting rays (both easy enough to see and not numerous enough to worry too much about).

After a brief reconnaissance visit, we loaded up at the village and headed back to weather one of the longest mara’amu blows we’ve seen while anchored in the SE corner of Rangiroa at the base of the kiting spot. We kited 9 out of 11 days and the 2 break days were because the winds were too strong for our smallest kite. We were grateful for the break days because we were bleary eyed from exhaustion, sun and salt and wobbly from extra long kiting sessions.

livia screenshotI spent the time with a grin permanently etched on my face. The sound of the wind, the hiss of the board over the water, the amazing beauty of my surroundings, the more-than-mile long tacks before turning was necessary, moved me into this dreamy state of moving meditation that I haven’t felt since rock climbing. Not only did I get hours of silky smooth riding under my belt, I worked on my carving turns and tried (and landed) my first jumps.

If you are a cruiser kiter and bring your boat to the S Pacific, get yourself here for a set of good windy days. Even in very strong wind the sand banks keep the water flat and so the anchorage, while somewhat exposed to the wind (depending on how far S the angle), is flat water.


Does. Not. Suck. Definitely a new favorite place (nfp).

Liquid Motivation: Lunch and Tahitian Wine


Yep, wine made in French Polynesia (see below).

We don’t eat out very often in French Polynesia because of the expense. We have found some cheap eats (e.g., the casse croute) but otherwise we save our going out budget for ice cold beers (also expensive) somewhere where we can enjoy a different view than from our cockpit. Funny enough, one of our favorite things is to have the beers at a bar that overlooks the anchorage. Something about seeing your home floating in paradise makes the beer tastier.

PhotoGrid_1378355446879A very VERY big thank you to Ronald C. who sent us a Paypal donation and funded not only a much needed and appreciated feast onshore at a great “snack” (small outdoor cafe in French Polynesia) called Chez Lili but also enabled us to sample some locally wine which had been previously out of the range of our cruising budget. We were so excited to be eating out at Chez Lili that we split in half and inhaled the curried mahi mahi burger and ate half of the tuna carpacccio before I remembered to snap a picture! If you visit Rangiroa, Chez Lili is delicious, the fish perfectly prepared and the owner Lili is a riot and worth the visit herself.

IMAG0021After the snack we picked up a bottle of Vin de Tahiti, Blanc Sec (2008) made right here in Rangiroa, the Tuamotus, French Polynesia. Even though we were slightly afraid (I mean come on, atoll wine??) we very much wanted to taste and to support the local vintage. With the last of Ronald C’s donation supplemented with one from my Mom (Love you Mom!) we bought and chilled a bottle, broke out the fancy glasses and the contraption we’ve been calling a cockpit table and watched the sunset.

We were extremely surprised to love the wine. The tasting notes talk about the influence of the minerals from the coral rubble on the terroir. I tasted flowers and honey (without the corresponding sweetness). An unexpected find, unfortunately a little out of our normal price range. Of course, when we were still DINKs (dual income, no kids) we had been known to sleep in our car on a road trip to save money but buy a case of expensive-for-us wine on the same trip. Priorities!

Tortoises, Hares and Ostriches

This post was inspired by reader follow-up questions from our most recent "snapshot" post (Snapshot: 3 years of cruising).


Was the primary motivation of your cruising boat purchase one of fear or love? Were you choosing a boat that would make you safe from all of the dangers present on the open sea (the Tortoise boat)? Or were you choosing a boat that would increase your already high fun factor under sail (the Hare boat)?

In our limited experience, the fear emphasis is a gross (and probably unfair) generalization of N American cruising culture and the love emphasis is a gross (and probably unfair) generalization about French cruising culture. Of course it is true that many N American's love sailing, many buy Hare boats, and Tortoise boat owners are not necessarily fearful people. It is also true that the French are safety conscious and can be sometimes found in stout boats (although sleek aluminum vessels are more likely than traditional cruisers). However, the emphasis on one versus another I think is, on average, fair.

We were listening to a French single sideband net and one boat talked about having entered one of the Tuamotus (atolls with passes) at night. He was a single hander and he said that he could see the hole in the atoll with his binoculars so he went for it. My reason for telling this anecdote is not because we think that this is a good idea but because on the French net his statement didn't cause a single reaction. Not that the French listeners thought it was a better idea than I did, but it didn't evoke an emotional reaction. Carol and I had a lively discussion imagining if this same person had made this statement on a mainly N American net. Mon dieu!

The personal emphasis on fear vs. love interacts with a whole host of cruising boat and cruising plan decisions: What level of risk can you accept, do you want to accept? Will you accept a certain level of risk if it increases your level of fun? How much? Do you believe in preparing your boat for all possible ocean conditions (e.g., pitch poling, perfect storms, etc)? Or do you believe in choosing to sail within the limits of the imperfect vessel that you have (e.g., sailing in season, avoiding certain passages or certain oceans)?

I recently read this post from one of my favorite bloggers which was also printed in 48 North.

I was fascinated by Totem's description of someone getting judgmental about the choice of an open transom for a cruising vessel (i.e., dangerous for their children). Although Totem didn't comment on whether the person was being mild or intense, I've seen the same judgments or criticisms passed and often with a lot of emotion attached. The Hare decides that even if they assume that their keel will get ripped off if they hit a submerged container at full speed they are OK with that because their 9 foot bulb keel adds to their fun factor. The Tortoise disagrees. No problem, people have different levels of risk assessment. What is impressive is sometimes the Tortoise disagrees in an emotional and verbally aggressive way. Why do some Tortoises freak out about the Hare's acceptance of risk?

I believe that some people who make fear based cruising decisions find love based cruising decisions very threatening. It is as if the lack of fear of the Hare rips the lid off these particular scared-y Tortoises' barely contained fears about the ocean. Further, one person's choice not to buy into a certain design feature or piece of safety gear calls into question the other person's choice to include it. If I choose not to buy a parachute anchor, the person who bought a parachute anchor feels as if I am questioning their choice. If they can convince me somehow that I am wrong, they rationalize their own expenditure and decision.

Certainly, there is the opposite problem of people who have set off cruising in lightly built boats, with little safety gear, not because they've consciously chosen the trade-offs and compromises but because they are actively ignoring and minimizing any possible dangers. We'll call these people the Ostriches. The Ostriches can get very angry and defensive when the Tortoises (and the Hares) point out the failings of their vessels. The Ostriches also, by failing to acknowledge the weaknesses of their vessels, fail to sail within the limits of their vessels and are the bane of emergency rescue services worldwide.

Like most people, we think we're in the middle. We wish we were even sleeker and sexier when we are playing but are very happy that we're stout when we're afraid. Well done, Wauquiez, well done.

Apataki Haul Out and MV Cobia 3

VIDEO FRIDAY During our haul out in the Tuamotus at Apataki Carenage we took some video of the facility and put together as short video. We also put together a short video of return trip from Tahiti to Apataki on the interisland freighter, the MV Cobia 3. Both videos are embedded below.

Rangiroa: Decorating churches with local materials


Because of my love affair with the water in Rangiroa, I feel compelled to include a water shot in every post. This is the water in front of the abandoned church we visited.


P1010316We visited first an old church that is being cared for but not regularly used. We anchored at S15°18'16.27" W147°26'33.02" with the church at S15°18'40.67" W147°28'00.27".

Beautiful shell necklaces and palm frond weavings adorned the statues inside. And a religious text in Tahitian.

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Next we walked by the church in the main village of Avatoru which was decorated loud and proud with black pearl shells. Love it.



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