Monday, November 14, 2016


Tuesday 26 July – Monday 12 September, 2016

We arrived in Papeete, Tahiti early Tuesday morning after a fast & wet ride down from the Marquesas.
The first 3 days of the passage we had winds 20 to 30 knots with seas 2-3 meters, the occasional swell hitting us just right to spray the cockpit with salt water then a little later the rain would give us a good rinse. Sunday the wind & seas laid down as we approached & passed thru part of the Tuamotu's, Monday was a beautiful sailing day but we had to keep the sails reefed to stay below 6 knots so we would arrive Tuesday AM and not Monday PM. As we approached the port of Papeete we called the harbormaster to ask permission to enter the port. A lot of big cargo ships, ferries, and cruise ships are always coming and going in & out of the small entrance to the port so it is a good thing to check that the coast is clear to enter. Next we call the marina to see about a slip, they tell us to just choose whichever slip we want. This is a new experience for us as usually they ask your boat length, width, & depth and direct you to a certain slip. We find a slip easy enough as there are plenty of empty spaces, no dock hands to help with lines but 2 nearby boats crew came over to help. Boat tied up, we go to check into the office, this is a gated marina with the office located outside of the gated area. So a boat owner going by had to let us out. Once checked in with the office we received our gate access cards, as well as giving access to the showers, bathrooms and lounge area. One of the cards gets money put on it to activate the water & electricity at the pedestal on the dock at your slip. A pretty neat idea as long as you remember to keep $ on the card and don't run out when the office is closed as that is the only place to top off the card.

Back to the boat and Steve gets the 220 electric cord out, which turns out to be just long enough to reach as we were bow in at the slip. Batteries charging & water hose hooked up so the clean up of the boat was started. We wound up in a slip right behind friends boat S/V Shriaz, who we knew from Grenada.
As we were approaching Papeete, I had been in phone contact with my brother Doug who was in Tahiti for vacation. 11 months prior while I was in Texas visiting family he said they were thinking about coming to Tahiti for 2 weeks on their summer vacation. At the time I was pretty sure we would NOT be in Tahiti by the 1st of August so we talked about them coming to either the Marquesas or the Tuamotu's to meet up and stay on the boat with us for their 2nd week. As time got closer it was looking like they would be coming to the Marquesas even though my nephew just got PADI certified to dive and they wanted to meet in the Tuamotu's. As more boat problems occurred our plans changed but so did theirs. My sister-in-law Laura’s mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, so Laura would not be coming on this vacation. Doug & Dylan came to Tahiti & Moorea and spent a few days with us on the boat. Tuesday afternoon they stopped by the marina on their way to catch the ferry over to Moorea, dropping off the items they brought for us. After seeing them off on the ferry I finished washing the boat as Steve started a few projects from the items that Doug brought.

Wednesday & Thursday a few more boat repairs. The engine had been running a little hot, Steve found & repaired a little hose leak. The watermaker was not pressuring up, at first Steve thought it was due to another end cap crack, this one just a tiny hairline crack. But once the end cap was replaced it would still not pressure up. An email reply back from Spectra said to check O-ring, that was the problem as one was missing. We had 2 new small tears in the sails from this passage. Thursday we dropped the main sail so Steve could repair that one. In between boat projects we walked around town a little and along the beautiful malecon.

Friday 7/29 I caught the 11:30 ferry over to Moorea to meet up with Doug & Dylan for a couple of days. Steve stayed at the marina to continue with a few boat projects. After a fast 40 minute ferry ride I got a cab to the Intercontinental resort arriving just before they went on their afternoon dive, while I relaxed by the pool. That night we walked across the street to have a wonderful steak dinner at the Holy Steak House Restaurant. Saturday we were up early for the buffet breakfast then used the hotel kayaks to go out to stingray city. Not only stingrays but a bunch of black tip sharks swimming around you. Back to the room to get cleaned up and packed up to move over to the Hilton. Checked in by 1 and enjoyed a light lunch with our free drink coupon then back at the room they had left a bottle of wine that we finished off before I went for a massage. That night dinner at the Moorea Beach Cafe. Sunday I caught the 8 AM ferry back to Tahiti and was back to the boat & reality by 9:15. It was a nice calm morning, perfect to lower the genoa sail so Steve could stitch that tear in the sail.

Monday 8/1, a little grocery shopping before Doug & Dylan arrived on the late afternoon ferry. A walk down the malecon and around town before having dinner on board the boat. Tuesday Doug had an important conference call, so with the iffy marina WiFi he decided to go to the hotel across the street. They are a Vini hotspot so he could use one of our codes to log in and make his call with the internet connection. Once he was back on the boat we got underway by 10 AM to take the boat out and anchor overnight in Opunohu Baie in Moorea. After anchoring and lunch we swam around the boat and got the dive plane out. After I showed Dylan how it was used it was hard to get him to let Doug have a chance at it. Tuesday night on the boat at anchor. Wednesday we took the dinghy down to stingray city, it was later in the day so a lot more boats/people there but still a lot of stingrays & sharks swimming in between. We left Moorea around 3 PM to go back to Tahiti, a great sail back hitting 9 knots. We took a slip on the little dock closer to the marina office & bathrooms. Our gate cards had expired and of course by this time the marina office was closed, luckily another boat we knew was on this dock. Peter from S/V Batu lent us one of his cards to use for the evening. Doug & Dylan went to shower on shore before coming back to the boat to pack, they had changed their return flight to go back a few days early to be with Laura and her mom. Once Steve & I cleaned up we all went out to dinner before they caught a cab to the airport for their 11 PM flight back to the US. Not exactly what we had planned but a great visit.

Thursday 8/4 we get checked back into the marina and reactivate our cards.

The next 4 weeks we do several small boat projects as we wait for our new batteries and generator to come from the US. Learning what stores carry what items we might need and where they are located is always an adventure. Checking out the local city open air market as well as the grocery stores, we even have several choices of restaurants to try out.
Most of the time we are exploring the area on foot and carrying things purchased by hand back to the boat, so we make a lot of trips carrying smaller amounts. Papeete has buses that can be taken for longer trips once we figured out the schedule & bus stops. We took the bus to go to the airport to pick up our refrigerator compressor that was being flown back from Nuku Hiva. It was a no show as it was taken off the flight due to someone thinking it was hazardous material, even though it flew TO Nuku Hiva from Tahiti a week before. Kevin from Nuku Hiva Yacht Services talked to the Air Tahiti people and it was put on the plane the following day. Steve was able to install it but needed someone to vacuum it so we had to locate someone to do that, so easy projects can wind up taking 3 to 4 days.

The Generator was arriving first, it came air freight the batteries would be coming via cargo ship. Once we knew of the arrival date Steve went to work the day before dissembling bolts for easy removal of the old one. Steve would need help moving the old one out & new one in so that was arranged a few days ahead with the help from Tahiti Crew Yacht Services. We had to take down the dodger and bimini to be able to use the boom to lift it in & out of the boat. Since the generator is located under a settee in the salon it has great access but we still had to move the settee and the dining table so things were quite a mess during this job. On 8/11 the timing was perfect the old generator was out shortly before the new one was delivered. We went with the same brand Fisher Panda even though we have had a LOT of problems and they do not have the best reputation BUT it would fit into the same spot onto the existing support brackets. Steve still had to do several modifications for different hoses but after a couple days work it was in and running and the salon but back together. The old one sat on the dock for several days while Kevin made arrangements to have it picked up and shipped to him in Nuku Hiva on the local supply boat. He wanted it for the parts and to see if he could re wind the armature.
On Saturday 8/20 we took the dinghy down to an anchorage where friends Jeff & Katie on S/V Mezzaluna were anchored to watch the single man outrigger canoe races. We had been line handlers on their boat the year before when they went thru the canal and this was the first time we had gotten to visit with them since. It was a fun day and we managed to get up close to the race, maybe a little too close as at one point they were going around us on both sides.

During a refueling from our fuel drums on deck Steve noticed a crack in the arch at the base, not good, we had to find a welder for that repair. Tuesday 8/23 a guy came to the boat to look at what needed to be done and said he would be out the following day to do the repair. They do not allow welding on the docks at the marina but do have a work dock. Steve spent the day removing the bolts, then to hold the arch in place, we used the spinnaker line & topping lift line to help support the arch and pull it away from the boat to be ready to move to the work dock the following morning to have the work done. About the time the guy is supposed to show up, Steve gets a phone call saying he cant come for several days. This is not good, we are on the work dock exposed to a lot more surge against a metal dock and the arch needs to get bolted back into place as soon as possible. Steve makes several phone calls with no luck trying to get someone else out that day. We go back to our slip, the following day Steve checks with the marina office to see if they know someone. They do and he can come out the next day, Friday 8/26. Back over to the work dock, the guy comes to see what needs to be done then comes back in an hour, like he said, with his equipment and helper. The guy is used to working on big freighters so this is a really small job to him. It is not the cleanest / neatest job but he gets it done and does NOT charge us anything. Bolts back in and back over to our slip to re-bed & tighten them down. Steve uses his dremel tool the following day to try to make it look a little neater. Once again a simple one or two day job turns into a 3 or 4 day job.

Our batteries had arrived but were still in customs, and getting a release date was proving difficult. We were still working thru Kevin in Nuku Hiva since he had placed the order, another boat was also waiting for their batteries. Finally on 9/1 they were delivered. Steve enlisted the help of the two teenagers from S/V Batu to help pull out the old ones, and carry the new ones down. Steve had loosened all the fasteners and removed some unused cables to have the area ready to switch them out. Having done the prep work the actual switching old / new went very smoothly and was done in one day. We took delivery of the other boat S/V Athanor's batteries also since they had a daughter come to visit and had left the dock. They were returning 4 days later and did not want to have to have them redelivered. The one battery we purchased in Panama 9 months prior went to another boat very quickly, the others were all picked up after Athanor switched theirs out to be disposed of.

Friday 9/2 was my birthday so a NO work day, a fun play day. We rented a car to tour around the island, stopping at a few tourist stops as well as the other marina to check it out and of course a few hardware & supply stores making good use of having a trunk !!! We made it all the way around the island and had planned to have drinks at sunset at the Belvedere, known for its fantastic view of the harbor from 1800 feet above sea level. The maps on my phone & Steve's tablet had the wrong location, luckily I had their phone # and was able to call and get directions. It was hard to believe that we would find it as we drove up the road / trail leading up the mountainside, we finally found it, way after sunset, but the evening view of the harbor down below was still great and the dinner was excellent. The following morning since we had the car until 9, a quick run to the local grocery store for a few heavy items like soda & bottles of liquor. A stop to pick up Steve's computer at a shop where he had dropped it off for help, it is old and overworked & keeps crashing / freezing up on him, it is on its last days.

That final week at the marina we finished up boat projects and cleaned the boat really good after all the work that had been going on. Laundry with marina water, not free but cheap. Getting the boat organized & well stocked for going to the Tuamotu’s for a couple of months where stores if & when available would have very limited supplies. I had a sinus infection that would not go away so went to a local doctor to get some meds. Friday September 9 after a little over 6 weeks we leave the marina to go anchor out by the Tahiti Yacht Club in Lagoon D'Arue by friends Jeff & Katie on Mezzaluna who are also waiting on a weather window to head to the Tuamotu’s. A short trip down there BUT it was against the wind & waves so our nice clean boat got a lot of salt spray all over the deck. We first stopped at the fuel dock which is a really tight fit for a boat our size !! Thankfully Katie & Jeff met us on the dock to catch our lines. All fueled up, a few more trips to the store to pick up a few more things that we probably don't really need but since we have the opportunity we don't want to not take advantage since it will be awhile before we see stores like the ones in Tahiti. Our weather window comes Tuesday 9/13 as we leave at 6:45 AM heading north east to the Atoll Tikehau our first stop in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

Link to pictures;

Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Wednesday 8 June – Thursday 21 July, 2016

We arrived in Taiohae Baie, Nuku Hiva around 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. Taiohae being largest town & administrative capital of the Marquesas. After anchoring we launched the dinghy and went to check out “town”. Happy to see friends Vivien & Oliver from S/V Maryann loading up their dinghy with supplies as they were getting ready to leave soon. We made plans to go by their boat for Happy Hour and catch up since we had last seen them in Panama over a year before. Our first stop right off the dock was to meet Kevin from Yacht Services. Kevin is from the US and has been living in Nuku Hiva for 8 years after sailing in and meeting his future wife Annabella. His business is helping out all the yachts coming into the Marquesas. He wound up being a tremendous help to us with many different issues. Next stop an electronic store to see if they would have parts to fix our WiFi antenna problem. Then just a quick walk down the main street to see where the grocery “stores” were. Later a great visit with Vivien & Oliver who shared a lot of knowledge on Nuku Hiva and other areas. A productive day for gathering information.

Thursday morning we took down our genoa sail, got it rolled up and into the sail bag on deck to bring to shore for repair to drop off with Kevin. Steve had hand stitched the sail cover that had torn on our crossing, but it needed to be reinforced with a machine stitch. Also picking up a list of what we needed for our Carte De Sejour / temporary resident card, part 2 of our long stay visas. Lunch at a nearby restaurant that had WiFi, nice to have 3 spots right by the dock area to get WiFi, BUT not as good as having it on the boat.

Friday we brought our big computers into shore to update. Not a lot of boats in the bay, maybe 30 as most have come and gone by this time. The dinghy dock is a challenge, a concrete wall with a 5 foot tide and a big surge most of the time. It can get very crowded by the 2 ladders (a week later one had to be removed). On another section there are some tires to climb up & down on. Just NOT easy getting in & out, especially carrying computers or anything. Friday nights Kevin helps arrange a restaurant outing with whoever is in the bay and wants to go, a nice way to meet other boats if you don't meet them doing internet on shore.

Saturday we bring our dinghy chaps into Kevin for repair. During the crossing it had chaffed in a couple of spots, we had materials to reinforce those spots but it would need to be machine stitched also.

Monday we have the paper work needed for our Carte De Sejour, so we go with Kevin to the Haut-Commissariat (High Commission) where he helps interpret for us getting the paperwork submitted. Steve has identified the problem with our WiFi antenna to be the Cat5 cable between the antenna and POI (Power over Internet) point and decides to replace the whole cable and the electronic store has it, so that project gets started and finished the following day. Now it is possible to get internet on the boat. A chip that the post office sells is needed separate ones are used for internet and phone. We already had the phone chip, but the internet chip is only available in Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas so we purchased 2 of those also. Once you have the chip, you then purchase a time card that comes with a user name & password to sign onto the internet. We had been told that some of the cards from Nuku Hiva have a glitch as they never run out of time. Luckily we received two of those 10 hour cards that we have been able to use well past the 10 hours.

Tuesday the Aranui came in, the supply ship that comes every 3 weeks. No moving of boats needed here since the bay is huge and the cargo ship dock is far enough away from the anchorage. Grocery shopping in the afternoon and the following day as they unpack. Steve made the decision to order batteries from Miami to be delivered to Tahiti and then to Nuku Hiva, so that process was started.

Our first week in Nuku Hiva went well, getting many of the to do projects taken care of as planed.

Thursday 6/16 Steve finds a FUEL leak in the generator !! This time it is the fuel injector pump, Steve & Kevin decide it will need to come off and be sent to Papeete for repair. In the meantime we will need to run the engine to charge the batteries so a good time to go explore some of the other bays of Nuku Hiva.

Saturday we are underway by 10 for the short 3 mile trip west to Hakatea Bay, AKA Daniel's Bay. The entrance to the bay is almost hidden as you approach from sea so it looks like you will be running into the mountain. We were anchored by 11:30. Afternoon swim and dinghy ride around the bay. Still need to run the engine in idle for a few hours to charge the batteries, this is not good for the engine but for now our only option. Sunday talked to a few other boats nearby to find out more about the hike to the waterfall. We had heard back in Taiohae that part of the trail going to the waterfall was closed due to huge chunks of mountain falling off onto the trail. This was confirmed but you could still go part way and see the remains of the old village of Hakaui where once several thousand Marquesans lived but now only about a dozen. Monday Steve & I along with the crew from S/V Kia Ora, Russ & Greg met with Paul, a local guide, at 8:30 AM on the sand beach in front of our anchorage. This was a better option then trying to get the dinghy over the rocks with waves pushing you in the other cove. A short hike around the shoreline brought us over to the other cove to start the hike. Paul showed us around his home area, fertile land that once supported many, only a few remaining in the area now. There is no road access to this area, it can only be reached by boat. As we start the hike Paul points out the remains of roads and buildings long since abandoned. A beautiful area, with a very interesting history. We cross several streams and have a nice view of the waterfall we can't get all the way to. The last stream we come to has giant fresh water eels (3 ft long and 3 ½ inch diameter!) that you can feed & pet. Back down to a locals home for a wonderful lunch by 2. Paul also loaded us up with many fruits from his yard. Glad we did the hike on Monday as we had heavy rains that night & Tuesday morning which would have made the trail a mess.

Tuesday 6/21 in between showers we made our way back to Taiohae Bay. Steve made his way to shore between another set of showers to drop off the fuel injector pump that he had removed while we were over in Daniel's Bay. It would be sent via plane the following day to Papeete, Tahiti for repair.

Wednesday we go ashore to do internet and pick up a portable generator to use to charge our batteries.

Friday, Steve had thought our refrigerator compressor was not running correctly. He ran several tests and then used one of Kevin's multi meters to confirm that it was not working. Our freezer had been running 24/7 keeping both cold. Another problem to fix. Rainy weekend. Monday Steve had removed our refrigerator compressor and brought it into Kevin. A new one was being ordered but the casing was still good so Kevin would remove that and re solder the new one in when it arrived.

Tuesday we refuel, not an easy thing to do here in the Marquesas. Here the fuel dock is at the cargo ship dock. A big concrete dock with swells coming in to smash you against the dock. We had been told and had seen boats backing up to the dock, med moored with a good 5 foot clearance to the dock. We did not pick the best time for this maneuver, as it was low tide with a good size swell, a calmer day at high tide would have been a much better option. A few days later we saw a boat under those conditions pull up alongside the dock to refuel. With the anchor down holding us away from the dock we get two stern lines to the dock to hold us in place. Then the fuel hose gets tied to a line to pass over to us. Once again glad for our extra fuel drums so we do not have to do this as often.

Saturday 7/2, the cruise ship Paul Gauguin is in port and friends Gary & Christina George & family are on board. Gary had sent me a message and there would be several stops where we could meet but at the time we were not sure where or when our schedules would cross. It was so great to be able to meet up with them after years of not seeing each other, we had shared many a ski trip with them. They were booked on an island tour and the van was full, so we rented a truck and followed behind stopping at the different places with the guide. Lunch at Chez Yvonnes over in Baie D' Hatiheu was as wonderful as we had heard from many of our cruising friends. Shortly after lunch they would return to the harbor and we continued to drive around more of the island. It was a great day seeing them and so much more of the interior of the island.

That night would also be a big Heiva celebration. This celebration takes place throughout all of French Polynesia for 4 weekends in July with each island doing its own thing. We had been hearing the drums at night in the anchorage for weeks as they had been practicing. Here on Nuku Hiva we had been seeing them build temporary buildings next to the main town building. These pop up buildings would serve as restaurants during the festival. We got back from touring the island just in time to do a little internet sitting in the truck until it was time to go to the festival. The Marquesan dancing and music was awesome. What a fantastic day !!

Sunday Steve picked up the fuel injector pump that had arrived on the Saturday flight, got it reinstalled and the generator up and running.

Monday 7/4 no fireworks here, we returned the generator and dropped off some laundry to be done. Not easy finding a place with a washer & DRYER, and no laundromats to do it yourself. We had received an email, in French, and with Google translate thought it said for us to come in and pay for our Carte De Sejour. The paperwork we had turned in was now “officially” ready to be sent to Papeete for final approval, so now we would need to pay. Kevin verified this for us and explained we could not pay cash at the Haut-Commissariat that we needed to go to the Post Office first to buy stamps in the amount indicated, $90, then those stamps get turned in as payment.

Wednesday afternoon we headed east 5 miles to Controleur Baie, It has 3 coves to anchor in, we motored around checking out all 3. All the bay's here are very deep until you get close to shore and the rocks, the west side was way too small for our comfort zone. So we anchored in the middle bay Hakahaa, a slight swell coming in but not too bad. It is a beautiful area surrounded by tall rugged terrain. Herman Melville's book Typee is based on this area and the village of Taipivai. Thursday we moved over to the east side bay of Hooumi where it was a calmer anchorage. Enjoying a couple of days of scenic views and swimming. We did not do a lot of inland exploring at this time thinking we would have plenty of time as we passed cyclone season here.

Saturday we were anchored back in Taiohae Bay, ready for another Heiva night festival. Dinner at one of the pop-up restaurants with 3 other boats before attending the festival. Each week has a performance by a different area from Taiohae. They are telling a story, like a play, with music & dance lasting over an hour. Another wonderful show.

Sunday we heard on the SSB radio net that a boat we knew who left Nuku Hiva the week before was in trouble. Monday it was confirmed that the boat S/V Entertainer had gone up on a reef in the Tuamotu’s and the owner/captain Lewis had died. We had had several dinners out with Lewis during the Friday night outings and as always it is very sad & tragic hearing of such a loss.

Steve had noticed the starter cord on the dinghy motor was almost shot so he replaced that before getting underway just after noon on Monday to head over to Baie D' Anahoe on the north side of the island. The Marquesas are NOT known for snorkeling but this bay is one of the better ones. We had partly cloudy skies so even with a reef near by the visibility was poor. Still another lovely bay with beautiful surroundings. This bay also has some good hikes over to the bay's on either side but with all the rainfall we had in the prior days they were too muddy for us to want to do them.

Wednesday 7/13 we had a nice sail west along the north coast of Nuku Hiva back around to the south side to re-anchor in Taiohae Bay. Thursday would be Bastille Day and they had parades & celebrations planned. These short trips to other bay's was a scouting of places we thought at the time we would be spending cyclone season at.

Thursday was a fun day with parades and activities throughout the day celebrating Bastille Day.
Friday night as we ran the generator Steve noticed it was not charging !!!! Saturday we went in to get the portable generator again until Steve could figure out what the new problem was. That night we went to another Heiva festival, this one being the best of the 3 we had seen to date. They had decorated the floor area, using a lot of plants, lighted candles and other props including a live pig during their performance. They would have my vote if it counted for best performance.

Sunday during heavy rains Steve did some diagnostic tests on the generator and it was NOT a good result. This time the armature, the core that spins to produce electricity, was shorted out. Monday we went to talk to Kevin to see about options of having it rewound or replaced. It turned out that to do either was nearly the cost of a new generator with no guarantees of how long the repair would last, so the decision to order a new generator was made. We did not want to have to rely on a portable generator for several months while we waited for the new generator. Since the batteries had to be shipped to Papeete first, it just made sense for us to go to Tahiti and plug in at a marina and wait for both to be delivered there.

Sadly after 6 weeks in Nuku Hiva we would be departing the Marquesas earlier then planned and we would need to go straight through to Tahiti by-passing the Tuamotu Atolls. Changing our short & long term plans for the time being, luckily this is something we are use to.

Tuesday a quick stop at the store for a few provisions then getting the boat ready for our passage. Wednesday afternoon we returned the portable generator and said good by to Kevin, thanking him and Annabelle for all their help.

Thursday 7/21 we pulled up anchor at 8:30 and were underway for our five day passage to Tahiti. 

Link to pictures;


Monday, July 11, 2016

Hiva Oa  &  Ua Pou
Saturday May 28 thru Wednesday June 8

We went back to Hiva Oa for just a few days to pick up supplies and try to get internet.  Saturday morning back into town to get veggies & bread.  Unable to get any on Friday afternoon since the stores here do not carry many if any veggies, you need to find a local selling them, usually out of a truck parked near the store.  Back to the boat Steve worked on our WiFi bullet antenna before the afternoon rain put a stop to that project.  Sunday & Monday Steve still trying to get our WiFi antenna working, with no luck.  I took advantage of the sunshine bringing laundry to shore to use the free water tap to wash a few clothes.

Tuesday we are underway by 7 to sail around to the north side of the island and anchor in Baie Hanaiapa.  Seas & wind were calm as we motored east along the south coast of the island, once we were around the point to the north side heading west we were able to sail with the genoa.  Winds still light 8-10 knots but the sail stayed full as we slowly made our way and were anchored by 1:15 with the bay to ourselves.  After lunch, a nice swim in the bay then a relaxing afternoon on the boat.  You can go to shore here, but no real easy place for us to land the dinghy, plus the dinghy was all secured for our trip to Ua Pou (pronounced Wapoo) the following day. 

Wednesday 6/1, we had the day to relax and snorkel.  Another boat came into the bay.  We left just after sunset at 5:30 heading North West.  We were able to sail in confused seas for the start of the trip, but after the 1 AM rain the winds died and we rolled up the sail and motored the remaining way arriving at Baie D' Hakahau, on Ua Pou by 8 AM. 

All the islands here in the Marquesas are beautiful, with jagged mountains and gentle valleys, a combination of lush green and rock they are all stunning as you approach by sea. 
The skyline approaching Ua Pou and the bay is even more spectacular, with its many mountain spires towering up into the clouds. 

Shortly after we anchored 2 boats left so we re-anchored trying to get a little more protection from the breakwater and maybe not be rocking as much from the swell coming into the bay.  A new dock is being built, so we had several options to tie up the dinghy to go ashore.  With the swells that come into these harbors getting in & out of the dinghy can be quite challenging.  We tied up to the stone dock and used a stern anchor to hold the dinghy off the wall.  A nice walk around the beautiful village, checking out the grocery stores and bakery.  Since this is the 3rd largest village in the Marquesas they are well stocked.  We met Gerald from the S/V Saudade and then went to meet Jerome who owns the Pukuee restaurant & pension (small hotel), he also does island tours and hikes.  We were set to do an island tour the following day and stopped by Gerald's boat to confirm him going also.  The watermaker was vapor locked, so after lunch Steve fixed that.  A fairly straightforward fix, basically just opening joints to bleed air out of the system, but very wet and messy with salt water all over the forward storage compartment, requiring the removal of a lot of “stuff” and mopping up the water.  The usual boat job – 1 hour of prep, 10 minutes of fix, and 2 hours of cleanup.

Friday we picked up Gerald, and met Jerome on the dock at 8 AM.  We used the new dock under construction for the dinghy this time, they have really nice ladders to climb up on, still using an anchor to keep the dinghy from going under the dock with the 4-5 foot tides here.  A short walk thru the construction zone to get to the street.  Jerome drives us around part of the island seeing some of the beautiful sites stopping at an overgrown archeological site in the formerly known Valley of the Kings where we fed the mosquitoes.  Also stopped at a Hohoi Bay beach where the unique flower rock is found.  This rock, known only to be found in this bay, and is used to make many artistic pieces by the locals which we have seen in many markets.  Back by noon for lunch and internet at Jerome's restaurant.  Back to the boats and another boat has left so we re-anchor again in a less rolly spot.   

Saturday we are up early and greeted with a clear view of the mountain spires looking golden with the dawns light on them, an awesome sight!  We pick up Gerald at 6:30 to meet Jerome at the dock again.  We are going across the Island to the village of Hakahetau, where Steve, Jerome, Gerald and another local guy are hiking up to the Poumaka peak, one of the spires.
I knew it was beyond my capabilities so I was dropped off in the village to meet up with them on their way down at the waterfall.  On my way up to the waterfall I met a young man, John, who spoke a little English along with his French & Spanish.  He joined me on the walk to practice his English.  Steve & the guys were supposed to meet me around noon, by 1 they had not shown up.  Having swam & eaten lunch I walked back to a different trail that Jerome said they would come down on and started to walk up.  I soon ran into them.  They were delayed due to the difficulty Steve had on the trail.  IT WAS EXTREME.  He had a little heat stroke and his legs were barely holding him up.  We all went back to the waterfall where the men went for a swim to cool off & have their lunch.  Jerome's wife was coming to pick Steve & I up as there was no way for him to hike back to town as originally planned.  Steve just waited to eat until we got back to the boat.  He soon felt a little better but his legs were still shaky.

Sunday a rest day on the boat, watching a huge group of kids jumping off the dock & climbing back up the ladder with a few sitting on/in the dinghies tied there.  Saturday when we got back to the dinghy there were just a few kids hanging around, and it was evident that they had been in ours but no harm was done.  Monday the construction crew blocked off the ladders, we're pretty sure it was due to all the kids playing there and not because of us few cruisers walking thru.  Once the construction is done I am sure it will be open for dinghies and the kids to play again, as it is easier than the stone wall to get in & out.  We took an easy walk around the village, Steve's legs feeling better but still feeling the workout from the day before, stopping at the stores to see what we could find. 

Tuesday an easy walk up the hill over the bay, to a cross & ceremony ground on top. This trail branches off to another trail leading down to Anahoa Bay with a beautiful sand beach. 

Wednesday June 8th our departure was delayed by heavy rain but we were under way by 9:30 to go 25 miles to the “main” island of the Marquesas Nuku Hiva.  We really enjoyed Ua Pou and hope to get back to stay again, but we have paperwork to complete for our long stay visas and some boat issues that need to be taken care of, and Nuku Hiva is the place to do all that here in the Marquesas.   

Link to  more pictures;


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tahuata, Marquesas French Polynesia

Tahuata, Marquesas French Polynesia
Friday May 20 - Friday May 27 2016

Friday we are underway by 10:30 sailing out of the bay in Hiva Oa with main & genoa sails.  When we clear the point and turn west we have the wind directly behind us again, so we roll up the main and continue with just the genoa.  At least this time we have 15 knots of wind so the sail stays full and our speed is 6 – 6.5 knots, making for a lovely 2 hour sail to the neighboring island of Tahuata.  We are anchored in the BEAUTIFUL Hanamoenoa Bay on Tahuata by 12:30 and in the water a few minutes later.  After lunch more cleaning off the bottom of the boat, Steve using a weight belt to get down to the keel.  The fish were loving this and waiting for the scrapings. 

Saturday's boat project was to fix the knot meter.  It failed to work on our passage over so Steve wanted to have that resolved.  First testing and trying a few easy fixes, but no such luck, as it was determined a new wire would have to be run.  As with most boat projects / repairs getting access to the problem is ¾ the battle.  This one meant taking down half the headliner / ceiling in the main salon.   NOT an easy task as it involves a lot of hidden screws, tight spacing, light fixtures and hatch moldings.
Also had to empty and move a cabinet.  This turned out to be a two day project and the boat was finally put back together late Sunday afternoon with the knot meter working, just doing our part of living up to the saying of cruising is doing boat maintenance in exotic places.

Monday was a full day of just swimming, snorkeling and beach walking.  We still had not put the motor on the dinghy and it was not needed as we could just swim to the side of the bay and to the beach.  The Marquesas do not have a lot of coral reefs, the water around the islands is very steep up to the shore.  A lot of rocks for the fish to hang out in and we saw a good selection.  This bay is also known for having manta rays but none were there during our visit.

Tuesday morning Steve changed the oil in the generator and noticed the belt was loose.  It must have just happened as the generator has been working fine (knock wood).  The project we had done back in Guatemala several years ago has been working great, the piece put on to bypass the alternator and hold the belt had a bolt sheared off.  All the constant rocking motion of the boat wears things down.  Steve was able to replace it with just a small amount of difficulty.  Finished by 12:30 and pulled up anchor to check out another bay down the coast. 
The main village on Tahuata is Vaitahu in Baie Vaitahu but it is not the best bay to anchor in so we went a little further to Baie Hanatefau.   Anchored in sand but close to the rocky shore at the base of the mountain.  This bay actually has some coral and the snorkeling was pretty good.  On the way down Steve noticed the wind meter not working so that afternoon he fixed that connection that probably broke while the knot meter was being fixed.

Wednesday we put the motor on the dinghy and first went to visit the little village of Hapatoni located at the far end of the bay from where we were anchored.  Another friendly and beautiful Marquesan village with a very nice calm dock to tie the dinghy off at.  We then took the dinghy down to Baie Vaitahu to see the main town.  This dock was NOT easy to get out and tie the dinghy off at.  They have a lot of cement blocks near the dock, so maybe they will be rebuilding the dock.  Sure hope so as we witnessed the following day the supply ship can’t even get to the dock.  The ship lowers small barges to ferry all the goods in which could get troublesome in bad conditions.  A nice walk around the town, stopping at the store just as she is closing up.  Will take us a little while to get use to stores closing from noon until 2 or 2:30.  Back to the boat for lunch and a cool off swim and snorkel. 

Thursday we went back to the beautiful Baie Hanamoenoa.  The supply ship Aranui was in port at Vaitahu so we drove by to see how they unloaded.  This is a freighter ship as well as a passenger ship that comes to the Marguesas every 3 weeks from Tahiti.  Later we watched it go by on its way to Atuona in Hiva Oa glad we were not there for the boat re-anchoring as all the boats had to move for the Aranui to be able to get to the dock.  Steve's boat project for this day was to run an unused cable to our bigger set of 4 batteries.  Thinking that the smaller bank was getting charged too quickly and then the bigger bank not getting a full charge when we run the generator.  This cable will direct more of the charge to the bigger bank of batteries resulting in a better / longer charge overall.  

Friday we were underway by 6:15, to head back over to Hiva Oa, hoping to get a good spot in the inner harbor before too many boats moved back in.  We motored the whole way since the wind was on our nose, and got a good spot inside the breakwater.  We were surprised at how many boats were still outside the breakwater, but there had been big south swells over the last few days which can make the inner harbor even worse than outside as the waves break on the shore and the sides bouncing back rocking & rolling the boats.  Spent the rest of the morning trying to get internet.  We could connect one at a time via manaspot but we were now having trouble with our router and bullet antenna.  Working on getting that fixed.  Friday afternoon we went into town and got to the store just before 2 to learn this one re-opened at 2:30.  Instead of just sitting there waiting for 30 minutes we took a walk towards the old cemetery, not knowing exactly where or how far it was.  We had 2 signs at first to have us go in the right direction, then at the 1st fork with no sign we started to go the wrong way but a local drove by and figured where we were heading and directed us up the other road.  The next intersection had 3 choices and no sign and no one to ask so we walked back to the store after a nice hour walk.  Got a few supplies and a few veggies but we had missed the veggie truck, catching a ride back to the harbor and back to the boat. 

Link to pictures;


Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia

Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Wednesday May 11 – Friday May 20, 2016

The main port for Hiva Oa is in Baie Taaoa (Traitor's Bay) which becomes two smaller bays, Baie Atuona in front of the main village but not a good anchorage and nowhere to land a dinghy and Baie Thauku where all the boats anchor.   This bay has a section inside the breakwater and one outside, being on the south side of the island it is open to the south swells and can be very rolly so most boats try to get into the small area in behind the breakwater.  Since this a port of entry it can get very crowded.  We first tried to anchor inside and thought we had found a spot, many of the boats in this area use 2 anchors, bow & stern to keep from swinging into each other.  We have 2 extra anchors neither of which is easy to deploy especially off the stern.  So we anchored among other boats with just bow anchors out.  Staying on the boat to see how we and the boats near us would swing. With the tide coming in & out and winds off the mountains boats were turning in all different directions at different times.  One boat next to us got way too close so we pulled up anchor to try another spot.  Tried one behind some boats with 2 anchors out and decided that was too close also so we went out on the other side of the breakwater and anchored there.  It was rolly but we have been anchored in a lot worse so it was not too bad, water is cleaner and more swing room.  By this time it was 3 in the afternoon so we just relaxed and stayed on the boat for the rest of the day. 

Thursday we launched the dinghy and mounted the outboard motor, fun to do in the rolly conditions.  They have several docks one big one for the supply ships and 3 small ones for dinghies.  The bigger dinghy dock north of the freighter dock has free non-potable water with connections to use for washing clothes and a cement shower stall.  The 2 smaller ones near the fuel station have a connection for potable water.  The fuel station is close to the freighter dock so in theory you would think you could pull up and get fuel BUT they do not have a long enough hose so all fuel has to be delivered via jerry cans.  They now have the ability to haul boats out via the boat ramp with a hydraulic trailer and a tractor. 
The town is 2.5 miles away from the anchorage, a nice 45 minute walk in the morning with a little cloud coverage but can get hot and walking back with supplies could be difficult.  Not a problem as the very friendly Marquesans are very willing to stop and give you a lift. 
We walked into town that morning to go to the ATM and finally get some local currency.  Went to the post office to get a sim card but were told it is only good for phone calls and not internet.  They do have another sim card for internet, but it is only available in Nuka Hiva or Tahiti.  The first grocery store across the street from the post office had a good selection and baguettes.  So we got a baguette to eat as we walked around town, don't understand what their secret is but the French make the best baguettes.  Checking out the other stores buying a few veggies before returning to the first grocery store just in time as our clocks were ½ hour off.  The Marquesas are UTC minus 9 ½ hours, the rest of French Polynesia is minus 10.  We thought we had read this but this was the first time that time mattered since all stores close from noon until 2.  Made our purchases and caught a ride back to the harbor.  After lunch Steve cleaned more of the boat bottom as I watched for sharks, since this harbor is supposed to have them, but none were seen.  The water is so murky I wouldn’t have seen one until it bit Steve, but I kept a lookout for dorsal fins cruising nearby anyway.

Friday morning at 8:30 we met Sandra, she helps with different yacht services, one of them being the check in process.  We along with several other boats are checking in, 9 of us pile into her jeep for the first group to be transported.  Steve got shotgun, 3 people in the middle seat and 5 of us in the back covered bed !  She takes us to the Gendarmerie (local police) to fill out all the paper work.  There are 2 options when checking in, you can either post a “bond” going to the bank and depositing money for a plane ticket to your home country or like us use a service with Tahiti Crew who Sandra works with.  For a fee they can waive the bond fee and get you duty free fuel and help with other paperwork (long stay visa).   The bond fee is refundable, but you get it back on your very last day in the country in local currency so that would be a lot of $$ to spend that same day.  After check in we went to check out the veggie truck.  Several days a truck(s) comes in with locally grown veggies.  So we were able to get some green onions, eggplant, peppers & tomatoes and a few other things that were not available in the store the day before.  Just 4 of us catch a ride back with Sandra, we go with her further up the hill from the harbor to where she has an internet spot.  There was a problem so we were unable to get an IP address so still no internet for us.  Walked back down to the harbor and we see the boat Jacaranda, they had written several articles for Seven Seas Sailing Association and we had benefited from the information on their blog.  We stopped by to say hello and thank them, and wound up on board talking for awhile, they have just reapplied for another year’s visa so are a wealth of information.  On Friday & Saturday nights a local food truck comes down to the dock and sets up picnic tables and serves food to cruisers and the many locals down on the dock fishing.  We joined Jacaranda and another boat for dinner.  Choices were limited, so we chose Chop Suey. It was pretty good, but not what we were expecting for our first meal out in FP.  

Saturday I dropped off laundry with Sandra and she had arranged an island tour for us and another couple.  We learned afterward that there is a cheaper laundry service and also island tour guides. There is a little shack by the big dinghy dock with notes posted for services available by others besides Sandra, but since this was already arranged we went with it.  The tour started at 9 with our guide Pifa, he was great, and having spent time in Hawaii he spoke very good English.  He was very personable and informative on the islands history.  There are several archaeological sites of Tikis on the island, and we visited 2 of them.  The first called Smiling Tiki, in the middle of the woods on someone’s private property that allows tourists to walk to.  The other sight called Iipona, is on the far northeast side of the island near the village of Puamau via a very narrow road that was paved in some sections and ruts and rocks in other sections so it was a slow drive with beautiful views all along the way.  The site has several Tikis and was where many rituals took place, it also has the largest Tiki in French Polynesia.  Marquesans have big families with many cousins, so our guide was always saying hi to a cousin that we passed.  The place we stopped for lunch was run by a cousin and his brother and another cousin along with their tours joined us for lunch.  Lunch was served family style, and consisted of both goat and beef stew, Possion Cru (fresh raw tuna marinated in lime and coconut milk with Bok Choy), Chinese noodles with vegetables, taro chips, fried plantains and coconut sweet.  After lunch, the cousins got out Hawaiian and Marquesan ukuleles and led the group through several songs. Then we went to a nearby beach for relaxation and more ukulele serenading.  A ride back across the island to the harbor arriving back at 4:30.  We noticed several boats had left so we pulled up anchor and re-anchored inside the breakwater, nice not to be rolling although it is still a little rolly even inside the breakwater.

Sunday May 15th, another boat had left so we re-anchored again!  Then since it was much calmer Steve tackled another boat repair.  He had noticed that on our radar pole support base one of two bolts preventing it from rotating upside down had sheared off and the pole was twisting back and forth with the rocking of the boat.  So he drilled two new holes and tapped them to add two new bolts to hold it in place.  Steve went back up the hill to do internet while I cleaned the inside of the boat.  We called Steve's son Sean to see if grand baby # 2 had arrived yet, but no.  I went up the hill in the afternoon to do internet, slow internet with a month’s worth of catching up to do. 

Monday Steve dropped me off early at the dock so I could do hand laundry, after a month we had a lot of that, so were glad to use the water at the dock.  Sandra was supposed to bring our other laundry (sheets & towels) back at 8:30 but by 9 she had not shown up so we went back to the boat and I called her on the VHF radio to learn it would be ready the following day.  Laundry hung out to dry, hoping for no afternoon showers.  VHF radio announcement saying that one of the supply ships will be in Tuesday morning so all boats in the way of the main dock will need to move.  That would be us and about 10 other boats.

There is a hotel / restaurant, Hanakee Pearl Lodge that will pick you up and return you to the dock and let you use their fast internet along with a choice of a lunch menu item for $35 each.  We called and made a reservation to be picked up at 11:30.  YES that is very pricey but it was worth it that one time to be able to catch up on emails and updates.  Steve was able to sign up for another service ManaSpot, that we will be able use on the boat.  He had tried the day before from the hill but was unable to connect.  I had a cheeseburger Steve had a steak, no time to use the pool as we were busy doing internet.  They were going to bring us back at 4 but when Steve went to shut down his computer he had 15 updates to install.  That took an hour but they were very nice and did not seem to mind us being there as they set up for the dinner. They also lent us an extension cord so we could keep our laptops charged.       

Tuesday we pulled up the anchor at 6:30 to go re-anchor outside the breakwater again.  Supply ship arrived at 9:30 and spent the day and into the night unloading.  The winds & sea swells were much lighter so it was not anywhere near as rolly as the first few days.  Good thing as we had to go pick up laundry.  Steve cleaned more of the hull.  Tried the ManaSpot internet to see how the service was and it was good so now we can sign up on line for additional time to be accessed when we are in an anchorage near a town.  Called Sean to hear the new grand baby Isabela was born J.

Wednesday 6 AM moved boat back inside the breakwater, 7 times in 1 week in the same harbor is a record for us!!  8:30 in to meet Sandra, to get our fuel duty free papers which she doesn’t have yet.  Then into town to provision since the supply ship was just in.  We were already impressed with the good selection they had, all we had heard was that very little would be available.  NOT TRUE, a very good selection is here !!   But the expensive part is very true.  Get a ride back to the boat and unloaded groceries.  Since we need to use jerry cans for fuel and we only have ONE, we stopped by another boat Blowing Bubbles that we had met and asked them if they had any we could borrow we hit the jackpot as they had 11 we could use.  Back to the dock at 3:30 to meet Sandra for our fuel papers, then over to the fuel station.  Tie off at the dock, unload all the cans carry them UP to the fuel station get them filled carrying them back to the dinghy, one at a time for me, 2 for Steve load them back in the dinghy.  Steve went to pay and they tell him the papers are wrong for duty free fuel.  Luckily Sandra had gone up the hill, by the fuel dock, where her internet place is so Steve walked up there and she came back to the gas station to get things okay-ed.  Have to get corrected papers the following day.  Back to the boat to unload cans onto the boat and siphon one at a time into the fuel tanks.  Done by 6, returning cans to Blowing Bubbles so they and another boat could do the drill the following day.       

Thursday just a few things to do before heading out, more internet on the boat still trying to catch up, but it can be very slow.  A little more hand laundry at the dock & boat put in order to go sailing.

Friday May 20th after Steve goes in to get a baguette, we get underway by 10:30 AM to travel about 10 miles to the neighboring island of Tahuata. 

Link to pictures;


Monday, May 16, 2016

Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia
Saturday May 7 thru Wednesday May 11, 2016

Our first land fall was at the island of Fatu Hiva / Fatuiva, as we approached from the east only high jagged steep mountains could be seen.  As we came around to the west side of the island the Baie Hanavave was in sight. [Bay of Virgins, actually originally named Bay des Verges (Bay of Penises) by the first Spanish explorers due the shape of a number of prominent rock formations.  But when the priests arrived, they changed that to Bay des Vierges (Bay of Virgins)].  The rock cliffs surrounded by green mountains and valleys is an impressive sight, looking just like it did to Captain Cook some 300 years ago.  We found a great spot to anchor in close in 24 feet of water by 9 AM, there were 7 other boats already anchored, one that had arrived just before us. 

I called my sister to let her now we had anchored safely.  Still tired from an uncomfortable last night at sea we went about cleaning the boat up a little.  Then launched the dinghy and mounted the outboard, it would not rotate well so Steve got the grease gun out and fixed that problem, glad that it started right up.  Fatu Hiva is not an official entry point to the Marquesas, but being a French territory they are not as strict with the rules.   We had talked to several boats that had stopped here first and had heard that this was not an uncommon practice.

We went to shore to walk on land, a great spot to do so after 28 days at sea being surrounded by blue, now we were surrounded by green.  Lush green mountain sides beautiful flowers and fruit trees.  There are only about 600 people living on this island in the 2 villages.  NO bank so no way for us to get any local $$. We really did not intend to buy anything just wanted to walk.  We were approached first by a man wanting to trade for fruits.  Bartering had not even crossed our minds, he wanted fishing lures or lines or cigarettes or rum none of which we had.  We explained we had just arrived and had no $$ and if we thought of something to trade with would come back.  Walking more into the village we met another man Poa also wanting to trade for fruits pamplemoss = giant grapefruit.  Again we explained our situation, he spoke a little English and had us go with him while he picked some lemons and pamplemoss than brought us back to his house gave us each a banana and we all shared a grapefruit.   Carving is a big thing in the Marquesas, so he showed us some of his work.  Besides wood pieces he also carved cow bone.  Steve asked him how he carved the small pieces and was told he used a dremel tool.  Steve said he had some small bits and would bring one to trade for the few pamplemoss and lemons we left with.  Back to the boat by 2 a nice swim and then a long nap.  Waking up around 6 for a light dinner with a cool breeze and an early night back to bed.

Sunday a partly cloudy day, with the cloud stuck on the high peaks of the mountains.   A few light short showers.  A quick run into the village to give Poa his dremel bit.   Back to the boat to work on the watermaker repair.  Once the extra fenders and dive & snorkel gear are moved out of the way Steve had access to the watermaker.  The problem was with the power to the booster pump.  The connectors were all heat sealed, but somehow water had gotten into the negative connector and corroded the wire.  After cleaning it up and replacing the connector, the pump ran and the watermaker worked for about 15 minutes, then kept restarting.  Vapor locked.  After half an hour of creative burping the water supply circuit, it restarted.  Only an all afternoon fix.  The actual fix took only about 15 minutes, but digging out the tools and putting them away added another 4 hours.  Just life on a boat. 

Monday morning we took a hike to the waterfall, there was a map posted by the school that I had taken a picture of and we printed it out.  Only a few roads available, we still missed one of the turnoffs from the dirt road to the trail but met up with some locals paving a new road and they told us where to find the trail.  We missed it because it was blocked off with some rocks piled up in front, on the way back a guy was there with a tractor moving them guess to help with the paving of the road.  We learned the following day they are building a Hydro Electric Dam so maybe the road has something to do with that as the other village on the island is in a different direction and already has a road to it.  The trail starts off nice, but soon gets narrow and steep and hard to follow.  Cruisers doing the hike previously have placed cairns along the way to guide you in the right direction and it was pretty easy to follow, I was very glad I had my trekking poles with me.  The water was cool and refreshing and we had a nice swim before heading back.  Back to the boat by 1, lunch then dropped the genoa sail so Steve could repair the sails sun cover that had started to come apart.  First using the heat gun to stop any further unraveling then hand stitching.  A good temporary repair until we can find a sail repair person with a sewing machine. 

Tuesday a cloudy day with light showers.  Steve finished up on the sail repair, changed the fuel filters and we defrosted the freezer, and started to clean the bottom of the boat.  You know you had a slow passage when you get slime & mildew at the water line plus we had these nasty looking tube worms attached on the transom and waterline. 

Wednesday morning the winds were howling down the mountains into the bay.  Sunrise & sunsets are early here around 5:30.  We got underway by 6:30 and had double reefs in both sails, doing 8 knots in speed in 4 foot short interval seas, so a lot of spray coming over the boat.  Our 40 mile, 6 ½ hour trip to Hiva Oa was wet & wild & made us kind of glad we had a slow passage.  We called on the VHF radio to say we were arriving and were told that check in would be Friday morning and that it would be OK for us to go ashore in the meantime.   Time to explore another island, to be continued ….

Link to pictures;


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pacific Passage

Pacific Passage
Sunday April 10  thru  Saturday May 7, 2016

We left the marina on Saturday after fueling up and went to anchor off the Salinas Yacht Club & marina just 4 miles west.  An hour before we left the dock one of our bow lines broke, and the boat swung into the dock, demolishing the stern sugar scoop bumper.  We were very glad to leave that marina, the worst we've ever seen.  Leaving gave us an easy departure the following morning and gave Steve time to dive on the boat to clean the prop.  He didn't want to do it in the foul oily marina water.  Being a Saturday the beach was packed with people, and water toys = jet skis and big floats being pulled behind small power boats as well as several sailing races from laser size to 50 ft. size boats going on.  Very entertaining. 

Our 28 day passage started at 8 AM on Sunday with us motor sailing south-southwest under overcast skies.  We wanted to get further south in hopes of picking up some favorable winds, so we opted to use the engine to help get us there.  By 8 PM we were able to turn the engine off and sail, sailing to the wind angle, heading more south than on course.  This would turn out to be our situation during most of our time at sea.  Happy to be sailing with just the sound of the wind & waves.

Our knot meter was not working so we would only have our GPS speed and not the speed thru the water for this trip.  Not a good thing to have happen, but it is not crucial to the boats performance, just a useful tool in setting the sails and keeping track of miles logged.  During the trip it would mysteriously start working from time to time but not reliably.  Something to fix at a future date.

On day 3 we went to run the watermaker and it would not pressure up, so we would not be able to make water during this our longest passage !  We carry 250 gallons so we had plenty to make the passage as long as we conserved, which we did and made landfall with 100 gallons still left.   Our watermaker is located in a forward storage area so it was not accessible during the passage to check on repairs underway.  Besides missing nice showers and doing sponge baths we missed washing the cockpit down the most.  The salt air & sea spray coats everything with a fine layer of salt so everything you touched in the cockpit would be sticky.  We did use old dish washing water to help wipe the cockpit down and that helped a little. 

For most of the 28 day passage we had very light winds, 10 knots, directly behind us, our worst point of sail. This also meant, mostly calm seas which was a good thing.  Our biggest challenge was to try to keep the sails full and not flapping NOT an easy task.  We tried wing on wing but just not enough wind to make it worthwhile.  Using our spinnaker pole to keep the 150 genoa sail out was our best option. This took several maneuvers to set up, adding another block to rerun the sheet line thru, running a lead line forward, and both of us up on deck to deploy the pole.  Great once it was done but if the light winds switched sides jibing was not easy, having to roll everything up and redeploy on the other side.  Not something we would want to do a night with a wind shift or wind increase so we would just sail this way during the day. 

There were of course a few exceptions to our calm conditions.  On day 5 the winds were up to 20 knots, great for downwind sailing.  We had rolled up the main and were just sailing with the genoa when the auto pilot went into standby mode.  Luckily we were both in the cockpit as the boat went off the wind and the sail and sheet line started flapping like crazy.  The sheet line got wrapped around the dorade and pulled it off.  I was able to get up on deck and grab it before it went overboard while Steve got the boat back on course.  Conditions over the next 2 days let Steve make the repair and put the dorade back on underway.

Our auto pilot worked beautifully during the passage, either sailing to wind, on track or just in auto.  There were however several times when for whatever reason it would switch off, going into standby mode.  This was something we were aware of and knew to keep a good watch for any change in boat / sail movement.  Once when Steve was asleep I went down to use the bathroom when I came out and looked out the companion way and saw the clouds circling it just took a second to realize it was the boat spinning.  Back into the cockpit quickly getting the boat back on course and the auto pilot reset.  This happened about 10 times, each time the auto pilot would reset and start working again with no problem.  A mystery ?

The first 3 weeks the sea swells were mostly from the south east, so they would hit us broadside or aft, we would ride up the front of the swell and slide down the backside making a sort of corkscrew motion for the boat.  Most days they were in the 4 to 6 foot range, with just 2 days with 8 to 10 foot swells with an occasional 12 footer.  Walking around the boat was “fun” always having to have a handhold and trying to stay balanced.  Our main berth is midships so with the rolling motion we used the aft cabin for sleeping.  The last week when we were becalmed & only 1-2 foot swells it was much easier moving around the boat but we sure were wishing for more wind.

We had very little rain during our trip.  There were many days where we could see the rain forward & aft and off to one or both sides but it was like we were in a bubble and none fell on us.  We were of course hoping for a nice gentle rain to rinse the boat off & maybe even collect some.  A few light short sprinkles hit us but not until day 14 did we get a good short rain to rinse the boat and wash our hair on deck.  Day 21 also brought a nice early morning rain cleaning the boat and washing our hair on deck again.  This was better than having to dodge squalls as many of the boats north of us had to do. 

Communication was difficult this trip, we had trouble sending, receiving and talking on the single side band radio (SSB). Propagation (in addition to the wind) was not working in our favor.  There were several nets to check in with for boats out at sea in the Pacific and specifically for “puddle jump” boats.  Puddle Jump being the phrase coined to refer to boats crossing from the Americas to the South Pacific.  Our connection the first few weeks was very light and scratchy.  The last 2 weeks talking and hearing got much better talking with boats at sea as well as ones already in French Polynesia.  Being unable to send & receive emails was due to a computer glitch that Steve figured out BUT it was & is still not working correctly.  We had our satellite phone so I would call my sister every few days with our update that all was well.  The first 3 days out we were in VHF radio range with 2 other boats that had left the marina on Sunday.  In the first week we saw 2 power boats on different occasions traveling in what appeared to be from the Galapagos to Peru?  And we talked to the only cargo ship we saw traveling from Lima to China on day 7, other than that nothing else was seen.   

On day 10, a day with higher winds and waves, I saw an opening in the bimini connector.  The threads holding the zipper in place had worn out and had caused the material to separate from the zipper.  At first we thought we could just lower that section and Steve could sew it while sitting in the cockpit.  That was very wishful thinking on our part, it was way to windy & rolly so we had to take the whole bimini down and Steve brought it down below to hand sew it back together.  Mission accomplished and bimini back up in place just after sunset.

As I stated earlier keeping the sails full and not flapping was our biggest challenge.  With the light winds it was hard to do, they would stay full for a while but then every 4th or 5th wave the boat would roll in such a way to knock the wind out of the sails.  Back winded the sails would collapse and then would slam back into position with a loud snapping & banging noise.  Causing us to cringe every time, but there was very little to do to stop it completely.  As it was we were sailing more with the wind direction than on course, but we could only do that so much if we ever wanted to reach our destination.  The sails took the abuse very well, the sail cover trim on the foot of the genoa sail not so well.  The threads were torn leaving the trim shredding a little each day.  The sail was fine but it was not something we liked seeing every day and not a crucial thing to have to fix underway.

Another problem that was caused by all the rolling motion was some wear spots on the dinghy cover.  Just enough movement & friction over time to put holes in the cover.  We noticed it in time and were able to put in place protective buffers before any damage to the dinghy.  Another future fixable project.

We don't fish, because I don't eat fish, and cleaning them on the boat is messy.  But we had plenty of free flying fish on the passage.  We'd see them flying all around us during the day, and at night, when they couldn't see the boat, some would run into it and get stranded on the deck, so every morning we'd have to pick up 4-10 on the deck and toss them overboard.  They're small, the size of sardines, but they would have made a tasty treat for a boat cat if we had one.

We had many beautiful sunrises and sunsets and moon rises as well as many gloomy ones.  Wonderful star gazing!!!  It is amazing how just a little moon can light up the sea.  The several days around the full moon we had very little cloud coverage so had full advantage of the moon light all night long.  Then there were nights with no light, just surrounded by black unable to see much beyond the boat.  Just us moving thru the wide open ocean. 
One day kind of morphed into the next.  Our watch schedule was that I would do the 8 PM to midnight, Steve would do the midnight to 4 AM then I would come back on watch at 4 or 5 AM and Steve would get a couple more hours of rest.  Then we would take turns sleeping / napping as needed during the day.  There were a lot of days when neither of us would need more sleep during the day and there were a few when I needed an extra 3-4 extra hours of sleep, especially after a night when I got very little sleep during the midnight to 4 AM time.  All in all it went rather smoothly with both of us getting plenty of sleep when it was needed.  To pass the time we read a lot on our Kindles, and played computer games. 

Since the seas and winds were mostly moderate, cooking below was challenging, but doable.  The menu was driven by what fresh food was about to expire, and we ate well, arriving with almost no fresh food left but cabbage.

The last week the winds and waves died down even more, winds from the east behind us at 5 knots or less the seas only 1 foot swells.  Even keeping the sail full with the pole was difficult.  We started to run the engine a few hours a day, usually during the early morning hours when there was no wind at all that helped get us back on course and make up for having to sail off course with the wind.  It was painfully slow, since the winds had been pushing us south we had decided to head for the island of Fatu Hiva instead of Hiva Oa our original destination.  Days 25 & 26 we were getting so close but with no wind still a long time to go so used the engine even more.  We had plenty of fuel to get there, but knowing no diesel would be available at Fatu Hiva we wanted to still conserve.  Day 27 at 1:30 I sighted land !!!!  So very exciting, when Steve came up from his nap I was able to say Land Ho.   So with our current light wind and slow speed it would put us close to the island at daybreak.  BUT the wind gods were still against us & at midnight the winds picked up and NOW we were going too fast.  We would now be arriving close to the island at dark.  Being new territory, even though the charts all showed plenty of deep water we wanted to be able to see our approach.  We rolled up the genoa as small as we could, still going too fast so we had to bear off course causing it to be a very bumpy 4 hours for me to try to sleep.  In the dawning light we were able to get back on course and let out the sail and of course with the sun rise the winds died down again.  It was still a lovely morning to come around to the west side of the island and anchor in Hanavave Bay by 9 AM.

Link to a few pictures;