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. 

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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 ….

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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;