Cirque de Totegegie



We have had the silks aboard the boat for a year now and have used them a disappointing half dozen times. Why? In order to do silks aboard our boat we need consistently less than 7 knots. The silks are like a spinnaker and things get quickly dangerous when you get more wind or gusty wind. We don’t have less than 7 knots often and in the few times when we do, sometimes we have other things going on.

At the risk of sounding like morons, I will admit it took us a year to think about stringing the silks up in a tree on land instead of on the boat. Of course we’ve spent a lot of time around small motus with only coconut trees and scrub, which aren’t very conducive to hanging silks, so perhaps we can be forgiven our lack of insight.

In Mangareva at Motu Totegegie, we took some fishing line and a heavy stick, tossed the line over the tree, used that line to haul a stronger line with the silk up the tree, and put down a mat to protect the silks. With a bucket for rinsing feet and a few large pieces of cloth on the ground, we set up circus school on a motu. Friends brought flame juggling thingies, a slack line, and whatever that spinning plastic thing is on the left in the air and we went at it. Good times.

With representatives from the crews of SVs Penn Kalet, Pitufa, Estrellita and Black Pearl (left to right).

Invasion of the Pressure Cooker


I think it is fair to say that most N American cruising boats have pressure cookers. We cruised for 3 years without one and have recently added one.

When we were preparing to cruise, the reasons that people gave for needing a pressure cooker just weren’t compelling to us. When we were reading it seemed like people recommended a pressure cooker primarily to save gas and to reduce heat in the cabin. We have a 20lb propane/butane tank as our main tank and a 5lb for the BBQ. We go 3 months between propane fills -- cooking three meals a day, coffee and tea, and baking whatever we like. We don’t have a problem with propane lasting a long time and in general our propane costs are very low compared to our gasoline and diesel costs. As for reducing heat, the only time we make a lot of heat with our stove is when we bake which we wouldn’t use the pressure cooker for, and pressure cookers aren’t heatless devices. In short, we didn’t buy one because we weren’t sold on the benefit and they aren’t cheap.

P1020786What convinced us to buy one? Well, first we found a used one very cheap, that didn’t hurt.

Second, faster dinner preparation. We realized how quickly we could cook large quantities of things that normally take a long time. In particular, we realized we could cook two favorite foods which we rarely cook because of the length of time they take: a whole chicken in 20 or so minutes and/or an entire pot full of whole potatoes in less than that. THAT was impressive and sounded like a game changer.

Third, we have found that we have cut costs a little with the addition of a pressure cooker. So far in our travels, we have found whole chickens to be regularly available and inexpensive and now that we have the pressure cooker we can take advantage of the low cost to buy two whole frozen chickens when at a grocery – cooking one right away and the second in a day or two when it defrosts. Now that we have a pressure cooker we also cook a lot more dishes with inexpensive dried beans than we used to which is a health gain as well as a financial gain. Plus, the ability to quickly cook beans opened up some dishes we enjoy but weren’t cooking (curried lentils, chilis, etc.).

You don’t need one to cruise – clearly – but there are me reasons to have one that weren’t articulated in anything we remember reading while prepping.

Logbook: Taravai (Mangareva)



P1020859We visited three bays on Taravai, some several times. One of the joys of Mangareva is the day sailing aspect in which everywhere we transited was less than 10 miles and most of the time “the village” (Rikitea) was en route so we would often pop into the village for one night for food, beer, gas and internet…you know, the basics.

Most of the anchorages in Mangareva are deep which, as owners of a manual windlass, we can tell you officially sucks great big donkey balls. We also hate not being able to see where we place our anchor in areas where there might be coral. We always ask around about the holding/bottom but sometimes cP1020897ruisers will tell you mud/sand, the charts say nothing, and I feel a rumble in the chain when I drop that means coral (or rocks). Coral rubble? Live coral? We do our best to avoid this whenever possible and we move when we aren’t sure.

The bays around the island are vastly different. Agakauauitai has a rich, steep, rugged coast line. The island of Agakauauita is an excellent kayak spot. Edward and Denise live on Taravai on that bay and are warm and welcoming. The bay can hold a lot of boats and has great holding.

P1030069On the West side of Taravai are a series of bays the most protected of which is the smallest and furthest south – Onemea. Onemea is paradise found. Absolutely incredible and you’ll have it to yourselves. It is the site in which we filmed our upcoming comedy “Gravity filling our propane tank in paradise”. Release date to be announced. P1030062

Even though it is perhaps the least beautiful of the three (although still beautiful), the bay at Taravai village (on the North side) is our favorite by far.

The snorkeling on theP1020836 East side of the bay around the small island is very good, but what made it our favorite was our friendship with Herve and Valerie and their children Alan and Ariki.

With them, we hunted (fish and goats), we gathered fruit and vegetables, we played almost every yard and beach game imaginable, we feasted, we kicked back a few cold ones and our memories of their family will be in our hearts as leave French Polynesia.



Logbook: Motu Tauna (Mangareva)



IMG_7715Motu Tuana has that ridiculously blue water surrounding it that I associate with the best waters of French Polynesia. I imagine that people think I’m photoshopping/color-popping my photos but at times (not always) the water really is that blue.

It’s a small motu with a small building on it that is used when the family that owns it visits for a picnic or fishing weekend or whatever.

In addition to ridiculously blue water, it has an incredibly long sand spit off the south side which is where we spent our time kiteboarding. Flat water just downwind of the sandspit, the safety of kiting upwind of the sandspit as we were teaching friends to kite, unobstructed wind S of the motu. Lovely.


P1020553I managed to go the entire time we were there (over two visits) without taking underwater photos but the water clarity was excellent and there were a lot of great snorkeling. A lot of flat topped coral and as usual in the Gambiers, a lot of fish.

The sand was nice fine white sand and we spent a number of nights drinking and cooking over a small fire with fellow cruiser-kiters.

(another) Paradise found. A new favorite place indeed.

FAQ: Solar panels on bimini


We have had fairly regular questions from readers on how we mounted the solar panels on our bimini. Unfortunately, when we mounted them I did not take a good picture of the installation (for shame!). Recently we removed our bimini and dodger to redo the stitching with a UV proof PTF thread (we chose Tenara by Goretex) because we had access to a sewing machine. While the bimini was off, I snapped a picture (above).

P1020501The stainless steel tubing was installed on the bimini at the time of fabrication by Iverson. I bought some aluminum bar stock to attach to each solar panel so that the main point of contact was between similar metals (aluminum solar panel frame and aluminum bar stock) to reduce corrosion. Because of the two different sizes of the panels (outer panels are the same but inner is different to maximize the available real estate for amps), the bars are mounted differently: port-starboard on the outer two panels and fore-aft on the middle panel.

The panels were then mounted to the frame with u-bolts with wing nuts (for easier removal in case of a tropical storm), with starboard spaces.

The details of the panels and the controller are here.

Boat Yoga: SeaMaker 20 Installation on a Pretorien 35


P1010831TThis is not an installation guide (the installation instructions from CruiseRO are clear) but I thought I would add a few photos to identify “where in the heck we fit the parts” for a 20 gallon per hour SeaMaker watermaker (AC) on our 35’ Pretorien.

Our Honda 2000 lives (when not in use) under the helmsman seat in the lazarette, on top of a three jerry cans of diesel which are on top of the main diesel tank. More on that (per request) later.

The main pump and membrane fit in the drop bin just aft of the fridge on the starboard side of the boat (the location requiring Carol’s advanced yoga skills).


The boost pump was mounted to a floorboard cut out in the inboard cubby just forward of the sink (the one with the opening hatch to the walkway at foot level).


That’s it. Those are the 4 main bits. The rest was running tubing and electricity. Our intake thru hull is port of the keel and was installed by a previous owner.

Packs of Wild Tweeners


P1020712One thing we love about cruising is the frequency with which we become embedded in a gang, and the energy that those gangs brings to our lives. We’ve had awesome gangs in BC, Mexico, and multiple times in French Polynesia.P1020690

It often starts when we have met another like minded boat and we are enjoying their company and another boat joins in (or maybe we are this boat that later joins in), and maybe another boat and suddenly we have a gang, we have group momentum, things are happening, other boats are joining in, there are inside jokes, much later nights than normal, and earlier mornings, P1020685practical jokes, nicknames for people, nicknames for the group, we egg each other on to do more, to play more, to live more.

There is a mixed sense of loss and relief when the gaP1020796ng splits up as, in the cruising world, it always does. These people become the close, local substitute for the best friends we have left behind, and the family we have moved away from. There is a wrenching feeling when we separate from them that echoes the feeling of when we left N America.

P1020665At the same time, gangs are barriers to meeting other people – perceived or imagined – locals or cruisers. Sometimes people get grumpy about gangs. There can be strange double standards about invitations/greetings aimed at gangs, where gangs are blamed P1020846for a lack of invitation/greeting by people who have also not offered an invitation/greeting. People will be people I guess.

While part of a gang, we have to work hard to meet other people (and we do) in ways we don’t have to work when we are traveling solo. When we leave a gang, we go back to activities and routines (and relaxation) that we often didn’t have when ensconced in the energy of the gang.


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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