Showing posts with label logbook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label logbook. Show all posts

30 June 2014

Logbook: Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea & Tahaa

P1030678Am I seriously going to write a single logbook entry about FOUR of the Society Islands? Yes.

We are truly on “The Giddyup Plan” right now or as we have been calling it, Estrellita is moving “Charter Style” – referring to the fact that charter boats are often in a different anchorage for each meal. We are no longer on the leisurely movement schedule of someone with a long stay visa. We are on the westward slide with the 2014 pack of puddle jumpers trying to pack in as much as we can before we have to escape the hurricane zone.

P1030705We had been to Moorea before and Raiatea before. Mostly we did the same type of things in both places on our recent visit. We had guests in for part of our stay in Moorea (THANKS MOM & DAD!) and we saw stingrays and toured around the island. Raiatea was a short stop at the Uturoa town dock for groceries at the Champion.

Tip: This has to be the best kept provisioning secret in French Polynesia. Easier than a car even, you can roll your cart full of groceries directly alongside your vessel – not even a dinghy ride!

P1030717Huahine was a new stop for us and we arrived in the company of new friends aboard SV Liward. We had hoped to kite but the wind didn’t like that idea and after some fun times and live music we moved on after only a couple of days.

We hit a single anchorage on Tahaa, also a new stop for us. We anchored on a sand ledge, in front of a lovely motu, snorkeled in the strong current of a hoa (false pass) with excellent variety of fish and not bad coral. Really worth the stop.

…then we sailed to Bora TO CHECK OUT OF FRENCH POLYNESIA!

25 June 2014

Tahiti Logbook (again) and Pics

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P1030605Since our 2012 puddle jump, this visit was our fifth time in Tahiti with our boat (!) and we have also been twice additionally to Tahiti without the boat when flying in and out of the country. This time we had guests (Livia’s parents) and we saw even more of the island than we have seen before. It is true that there always seems to be something new, something more to see even in places that you have spent so much time exploring.

Leaving Tahiti was painful. Over the years we have made some good friends who live in Tahiti and the goodbyes were difficult. Leaving Tahiti behind was also exciting. Sailing out of Tahiti meant westward and new landfalls. Each time we say goodbye to a region of French Polynesia it is a bittersweet mix of sadness and excitement.

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04 June 2014

Logbook: Fakarava (again)

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P1030371Ahhhh…Fakarava. Having spent so much time in the area, with more time in Fakarava than any other atoll, it was a delight to try two new anchorages, both of which we loved as our last stops in the Tuamotus.

P1030281Hirifa, in the SE corner of Fakarava, about 5 miles from the S pass, was a kiteboarding paradise. Long sand spits for launching, almost no coral heads to hit, and we could anchor either in the protection of the motu or right by a sand bar to shorten our “daily commute”. Add to that, there is a NEW RESTAURANT in HIrifa, run by Liza and her family, who will make delicious meals for anyone with a little advance notice (the day before or perhaps the morning of). We were there for the opening (more on that later) and the feast was spectacular.

We also anchored not far from the N pass in Fakarava. The reef by the first marker as you are heading into the pass toward Rotoava had some excellent snorkeling and the beaches were long and sandy.

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Fakarava is a great place to have guests which we did for two weeks (again, more on that separately).

14 May 2014

Logbook: Tahanea (again)

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P1030105P1030154It isn’t a surprise to us that when we were choosing which Tuamotus to visit on our  “goodbye tour” of French Polynesia that Tahanea and Fakarava topped the list. Rangiroa, if it were closer to the other two, would have been a contender as well.

Tahanea has fantastic pass diving and snorkeling plus gorgeous remote motu living with sand plateau after sand plateau in the South.

P1030207We started off our stay here in the company of SV Miramis whom we met on our last day in Mangareva and MV Domino whom we met on arrival in Tahanea.

To me, there is not much else to say about Tahanea. The reason is that Tahanea is a sensory overload experience. I can show some of the visual overload in photos and add some of the activity and audio in videos, but I’m left at a loss to better describe the impressions I have of it in words.

I’ll end this post with a few photos and include a few more photo posts from here. We took a lot of video and I expect that it will feature prominently at some point on our Youtube channel.

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12 May 2014

Passage Report: Gambiers to Tuamotus

GOPR4033Ahhhh…down wind…FINALLY.  Rolly – yes, a bit – but after two years of mostly upwind travel what a novelty to be able to point directly at our goal rather than choosing a tack that allows us to make the most miles made good. What an additional novelty for almost every mile sailed to be a mile made good.

Here is two sailors’ definition of a great passage: 660nm pass-to-pass as measured on a direct line, weaving around a half dozen small atolls, taking 4 days 20 hours for an average of 5.7 nautical miles made good per hour, 100% under wind vane under sail, sailing out one pass and sailing into the other (from pass to pass only, we did not sail off or onto our anchor). In mostly 15-20 knots of true wind, with seas starting at 2.5 meters and descending to 1 meter. We broad reached. We sailed wing-on-wing dead down wind. Maybe we’ll even admit to a tad bit of sailing by the lee. Glorious sun, only one night of light rain (the last night – which made it a nice end of passage fresh water rinse) and no squalls.

In our first leg of our 2014 WESTBOUND (and then northbound), we knocked off 660 of the 4000+ miles we will be sailing this year. A great passage to start with.

21 March 2014

Hike: Auorotini (Mont Duff)

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P1020724Aurorotini (a.k.a. Mont Duff or Mount Duff) is the tallest peak on the island of Rikitea (in Mangareva, Gambiers, French Polynesia).

Trailhead details: From the village you take the road toward the big church, before getting to the church turn right - West uphill, and just after the crest, you see a well marked trailhead on your left. The trail is kept clear, can be very slippery when it has rained (not advised by locals) and we were warned to “fait IMG_7761attencion” during hornet season of which we were, apparently, in the peak when we did the hike in February 2014.

After seeing only occasional, non aggressive hornets, we thought this was another example of people overestimating dangers* but in the week after we did the hike we met 4 different cruisers who were stung multiple times by hornets that they had surprised on the trail – with the large swollen bumps to prove it. So, it does happen. If you want to inquire about the status of the hornet situation when you visit, the word for hornet in French is pronounced approximately the same as the word “gape” (rhymes with tape).

P1020725The trail begins with a meander through evergreens, on a bed of pine needles, pine cones and ferns, making us NE Pacific people feel right at home. The trail splits (again well marked) to the left and as you gain altitude you are treated to occasional glimpses of the long skinny islP1020731and of Rikitea and the many outlying islands – each islet a lush green drop in a sea of crazy blues.

As you near the summit you leave the trees behind and begin following a fin of rock which drops steeply to either side. Your footing and the stunning views compete for your attention until you reach a series of flat rocks perfect for a summit picnic.

The summit view is 360 degrees and with sunlight, spectacular.

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P1020758We did the hike at the very end of raspberry season but suffered through the scratches of collecting the last of the hidden, far from the trail berries while on the descent – collecting enough for Carol to make a fresh raspberry pie.

With a leisurely pace, a stop for a summit picnic and a fair amount of time raspberry collecting, the entire hike took 3 adults and a teenager 4 hours. Most of the hike is in at least dappled shade but also on the non-windy side of the mountain. It was hot even though we started early in the morning and we drank a lot of water.

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*Ahhhh, hubris. Carol was stung the week after writing this post, prior to uploading it.

10 March 2014

Logbook: Motu Totegegie

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Everywhere we go in Mangareva is beautiful. Motu Totegie is no exception. Motu Totegegie is the name of the motu where the airport is and is not fantastic holding (a lot of large rocks and rock ledges mixed with sand) or great protection from fetch coming from the wrong direction. Still, both the holding and protection are adequate and we weathered a few squalls with southerly wind (and the associated fetch) before the winds went calm.

Like almost everywhere in Mangareva, the water at Motu Totegegie is clear and beautiful, the reef/ocean side if fun to walk, and the shores are inviting (and often lined with real sand, not coral bits).
P1020608What is quite unique about Motu Totegegie is that it is right by a false pass. False passes are cuts in the reef that are not deep enough for a deep draft boat to transit. In some cases, they aren’t deep enough for any boat to transit or perhaps are deep enough at some but not all tides. We found the false pass just barely navigable for our dinghy at lower tides (with serious risk for your dinghy prop) and relatively straightforward at high tide.

P1020654While were there, the seas were calm enough for a few days for us to go outside the pass with friends, in a couple of dinghies and snorkel and fish in the deep blue.
Great water clarity and a lot of big fish. The coral was OK. The canyons splitting the reef were really interesting.
We spent a lot of time hunting and gathering and hanging out at the beach for potlucks, sundowners, afternoon BBQs, and game playing with various boats. It turned into social central and reminded us of our time in S Fakarava at Sud Bar. The Frenchies seem more likely to prepare their food at the beach, perhaps over the fire, than to show up with perfectly made stove/oven creations which has been fun (and a learning experience) for us.

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We went with a gang to visit a pearl farm which I will write about later.
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24 July 2013

Point Venus, Tahiti

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We were trying to figure out why we like Point Venus so much on Tahiti. It isn’t convenient to anything except the prime kiting spot. The grocery is a fair walk. We like being a bit out of the hustle and bustle of Papeete while still having the option to go back “into town” as needed. We rarely share this anchorage with more than a boat or two. The Point is a park and is full of people enjoying their weekend, swimming, paddling and surfing and the sound of kids screaming in the waves is just far enough away to add to the ambiance rather than detract from it. We are able to use our inflatable paddle board to get to the beach and the water is clear although with the black sand you can only tell how clear when the water is flat.

The black sand beach is alternately mesmerizingly beautiful and muddy looking depending on which section and which tide you see.

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The views of the island of Tahiti are great and while the view of Moorea isn’t as good here as it was in Marina Taina, we get to watch the sunsets without jet skis. Although we had spent two weeks in Marina Taina, enjoying the bars, the land access, the showers, doing errands and buying things, and were really itching to get back to the Tuamotus, we passed over a decent (but not fantastic) weather window to sail back in order to spend a week kiting at Point Venus.

From a safety/local perspective, this is a much nicer place than Marina Taina to tuck into if the forecast calls for any of the strong SW’erly swells that can come through Tahiti at this time of year.

26 April 2013

Logbook: NE Apataki & Buddy Boating

P1000230After leaving the haul out facility we needed some serious RnR. We needed to play in the water, watch a lot of sunsets and slowly finish the odds and ends that needed to be stowed or fixed on the boat. We got that time by spending a week in the NE corner of Apataki.

We met up with two boats that we had met last year in the Tuamotus. Both boats have kiters aboard and we had a fantastic time kiting and hanging with them last year. They were our Tuamotu tutors; both boats had much more experience with French Polynesia and the Tuamotus in particular and we had a great time learning how to milk the fun out of the region from them. Since we all splashed at the haul out facility, we have been traveling in loose formation, playing in concert, and it’s been a great time. Who would have thought that three independent, free thinking cruising couples would have so much fun joined at the hip?

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Carol has continued his schooling this year with an introduction to spear fishing which he has taken to with gusto. We are eating a lot more delicious fish and we need to buy a good gun for him at the next opportunity. You have to be quite careful of what fish you shoot in the Tuamotus as there is a particular type of poisoning you can get and the fish that carry it vary from atoll to atoll and even within atolls.

We rigged our aerial silks for the first time on deck, from the main halyard (google aerial silk if you haven’t seen these before). We were too excited to take any pictures but we’ll make sure to bust out the camera next time. We successfully climbed two different ways and tried some of the rest positions. You need relatively no wind so it is the perfect complement to kiteboarding in which you need wind.

12 February 2013

Logbook: Baie de Cook (Cook's Bay), Moorea

On our upwind trip back through the Society Islands in October 2012 we stopped in Moorea for a second visit. This time we stopped in Cooks Bay.

Our first visit to Moorea had been a stop in Opunohu - a visit full of sting rays, phenomenal views and good friends. We were in a bit of a rush to make Easting before the cyclone season picked up, and so our visit was short, but we were still impressed with the physical beauty of the island.

Even though we had spent some time in Bora Bora putting our boat back together after the passage from Penrhyn, the miles had left some gear needing maintenance. Our windlass was crusty with salt from all of the upwind miles and was starting to skip so we spent some time taking it apart, cleaning it, lubing it and putting it back together.

Moorea was just what we needed. We were still scrambling around to arrange the logistics of our impending travel back to N America and trying to make sure we had all of the supplies we needed for a haul out in a remote atoll Tuamotus.

With relatively light winds while we were in Cooks Bay we had a great place to get some work done while having such a stunning surrounding that we still felt like we were enjoying ourselves. Because we were off season we shared the enormous harbor with only two other cruising boats.


26 October 2012

Logbook: Back in Bora and planning our return to N America

Sunset in Bora BoraWe still love Bora after a second visit. Overwhelmed by tourists? Yes. But it is also incredibly beautiful and we keep meeting such nice and generous people each time we visit. If you stop in Bora, use the Bora Laverie for your wash and take some time to chat with the owner. We didn’t have much time to play while we were here this visit.

Our plan is to apply for a long stay visa for French Polynesia which must be done in our home country. We leave the boat on the hard in French Polynesia and fly back to Seattle in early December where we will apply for the visa in Vancouver. The visa should allow us to stay in French Polynesia as long as we want, which we currently are guessing is about 1.5 years after our return flight in April. More on that application process after it is completed.

We spent over a week in Bora Bora getting our legs back under us after our passage from the Cook Islands back to French Polynesia. We needed to refill the boat with propane, gas, diesel, water, and fresh food. We also scurried around making reservations, booking tickets and arranging all of the things we needed arranged to leave our boat on the hard and fly out. We had avoided making any of those plans because, as mentioned previously, we weren’t 100% sure we would make it back.

We’re also looking forward to seeing our families and friends and all of the things we’ve missed about N American cities like sitting at coffee shops and going to the movies. Lastly, we’ll buy all of the crap we think we need for the boat and haul it back in our luggage.

I still can’t believe we’ll be visiting in winter.

If you know of any fun events or opportunities, suitable for two cruisers who just bought plane tickets from French Polynesia to SeaTac (that means poor), send us an email (s.v.estrellita@gmail.com). We’ll be in and out of the Seattle-Vancouver area with possible side trips to Quebec and, if we can find miles tickets or similar, Colorado.

23 October 2012

Logbook: Penrhyn

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If you want to feel like a celebrity, go to Penrhyn.

I wanted to start with my overall impression because I find that if I list pros and cons in a blog post, later when I talk to people about the post they only remember the cons. And the full picture is that by the time we left, Penrhyn had a special place in our hearts and was very difficult to leave.

Pros: It is a beautiful atoll. Very few boats visit (we were the 8th that year and it was nearly the end of the non-hurricane season) and so the people are excited to see each yacht arrive. PenrhynYachts are an important part of their trading and supply line and your extras on board are a boon to the community. The singing in church is intense. You will be a guest of honor at every event that happens and you can count on at least a few feasts in a several week stay. The culture is very different than French Polynesia. Their religiosity is much more apparent and it is impolite to do anything but go to church and eat on Sunday (including moving your boat or kayaking). I had to wear a lot more clothing here than French Polynesia and I want to say that I blame the Christian missionaries for the fact that I had to wear sleeves in the tropics.

English speakers can chat freely with the locals who learn both Cook Islander Maori and English in school. You will be greeted on shore with an offer of coffee (don’t plan on hurrying anywhere) and likely leave with an invitation for another even or a gift of shell necklaces, a pumpkin or a watermelon. Children swam to our boat, and after seeing the sharks, got a ride back in our double kayak courtesy of Carol. The speeches directed at us at the last feast, for two other peoples’ birthdays, the day before we left had us both teary eyed.

Saitu with Elvis glassesThe cons have to do only with the check in and check out procedure, more specifically the anchorage for doing so. The anchorage on the East side of Penrhyn, by the village of Te Tautua is fantastic. White sand, very few scattered coral heads, and under 20 feet. No fetch in the prevailing winds and the atoll breaks the wind. It is a much better anchorage than Suwarrow.

In contrast, the anchorage on the West side, by the village of Omaka is foul with coral (even in the spot marked as sand in the Compendium), and the water by Omaka is too cloudy to see what you are dropping in. We had our anchor caught when we tried to leave and had a bit of panic until we drove around and freed it. PLUS, you have more than 8 miles of fetch building and you are close by a lee shore. This is where you have to check in.

Partial solution: After checking in, it is possible to then check out by asking someone in Te Tautua (on the East side) to take you across to town in their aluminum skiff. We gave them a full tank of gas and went with them when they were already running an errand – win for everyone.

GOPR2441 (1280x960)People complain about the fees for the Cook Islands which are high although nowadays the regular fees are well known so they shouldn’t catch anyone by surprise…but sometimes other fees are tacked on or at least proposed. We paid $50USD at Suwarrow for clearance into the Cook Islands (including health certificates) and for a 2 week stay. We paid nothing additional upon entering Penrhyn. On clearing out of Penrhyn we paid around $130 ($55 per person exit fee and $2.50 per day for a port fee based on size of vessel). However, the immigration/customs officer was out of town and the town secretary said there was an additional $50 fee for the officer’s time. Because this additional fee was not on the list of fees from Rarotonga (the capital), we politely declined to pay and with only minimal back and forth that fee was dropped .

Penrhyn is off the beaten path of cruisers. Most boats go the Southern route (Rarotonga and Aitutaki) or stop only at Suwarrow. Penrhyn is thus farther North than most people travel. We went there and left against the wind, but cruisers coming from Bora Bora should have a downwind sled ride and a similarly nice sail from there to Suwarrow or beyond as long as no convergence zones appear (a problem in the entire region).

Water catchment in Penrhyn