Dear Friends and Family, (Written from Papeete, Tahiti – August 24th, 2016)

This blog is about our time in the Tuamotu Islands and arrival in Papeete, Tahiti

We looked at the weather which had been pretty rainy and rough in the Tuamotu Group and saw a 3 day weather window which would be just enough time for we cool fast cats to make the 500 mile sail from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus. Here's Nikki doing one of her favorite "sun down rituals", blowing the conch shell to say farewell to the day.

We looked at the weather which had been pretty rainy and rough in the Tuamotu Group and saw a 3 day weather window which would be just enough time for we cool fast cats to make the 500 mile sail from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus. Here’s Nikki doing one of her favorite “sun down rituals”, blowing the conch shell to say farewell to the day.

 

The weather was still going to be a bit strange. We were trying to essentially head due south which is a difficult thing to do with the normal South East to southerly winds. There were lots of unusual cloud formations as two fronts were getting closer to each other.

The weather was still going to be a bit strange. We were trying to essentially head due south which is a difficult thing to do with the normal South East to southerly winds. There were lots of unusual cloud formations as two fronts were getting closer to each other. Squalls and rainbows were the order of the day. Beautiful, but it also meant we needed to literally keep our “weather eyes” open.

 

The approaching front at the end of our second day. We knew we'd get hit with some big wind in the early morning hours. We'd tactically planned for this staying way east so we could fall away with the wind shift we expected at the usual "O'Dark Thirty".....:-)

The approaching front at the end of our second day. We knew we’d get hit with some big wind in the early morning hours. We’d tactically planned for this staying way east so we could fall away with the wind shift we expected at the usual “O’Dark Thirty”…..:-) This would allow us to stay on a nice angle of sail and not get too beat up on the home stretch as we then headed southwest.

 

On the morning of our third day, we arrived at Raroi

On the morning of our third day, we arrived at Raroia.  You can see from the disturbed water, that the current is running hard.  Normally, this is no big deal for us as we are easily able to power through even 5+ knots of current. However, as you all may recall, our engines were VERY suspect. As such, we were making only 1 knot against the height of the entry current.  Once on the inside of the lagoon, we were home free.

Currents can be as strong as 6 knots, but that's not the norm. There are computer programs to help with entry times, but the best information usually comes from the boats inside the lagoons.

Currents can be as strong as 6 knots, but that’s not the norm. There are computer programs to help with entry times, but the best information usually comes from the boats inside the lagoons. Sometimes, you can even see “standing waves” which can be two meters (6 feet high). I had seen that at our trip to Rangiroa in 2009.  It’s a bit daunting!  This is one of the reasons that the Tuamotus are known as “The Dangerous Archipelago”.

 

s/v "Enchanter" inside the eastern shore of Raroai Atoll. The main reason these islands were known as the "Dangerous Archipelago" is that there are 77 atolls, none of which are taller than a coconut tree. As such, navigation prior to GPS was to say the least harrowing. They were not widely visited by anyone prior to GPS and once the advent of modern navigation technology was easily available, they've been a cruisers Mecca ever since.

s/v “Enchanter”  (Lisa and Rijnhard from Sydney) inside the eastern shore of Raroai Atoll. The main reason these islands were known as the “Dangerous Archipelago” is that there are 77 atolls, none of which are taller than a coconut tree. As such, navigation prior to GPS was to say the least harrowing. They were not widely visited by anyone prior to GPS and once the advent of modern navigation technology was easily available, they’ve been a cruisers Mecca ever since.  There are also what are known as “Bommies” located inside the lagoons. These are coral heads that sometimes are only a few inches below the water and require strict attention and judicious use of “eyeball navigation”.  More than one boat has come to grief in these islands. While we were in French Polynesia this year, at least two were a total loss.

 

 

"Kon Tiki Island" - This is the famous "motu" (or small island) where in 1947, the Kon Tiki raft with Thor Heyerdahl and crew washed ashore. This proved it was possible to use indigenous materials from South America and literally drift/sail to islands of the Pacific. Heyerdahl was the world's leading proponent of the theory that the Islands of the Pacific were inhabited from South America and not from East Asia which is still the predominant belief among most archeologists. As sailors, we think Heyerdahl had it right as it's hard enough getting here downwind. Upwind is seemingly impossible - that is - coming from the west.

“Kon Tiki Island” – This is the famous “motu” (or small island) where in 1947, the Kon Tiki raft with Thor Heyerdahl and crew washed ashore.  Here is now a monument placed in 2007, commemorating his voyage. This proved it was possible to use indigenous materials from South America and literally drift/sail to islands of the Pacific. Heyerdahl was the world’s leading proponent of the theory that the Islands of the Pacific were inhabited from South America and not from East Asia which is still the predominant belief among most archeologists. As sailors, we think Heyerdahl had it right as it’s hard enough getting here downwind. Upwind is seemingly impossible – that is – coming from the west.  For more on “Kon Tiki”, click the link here: “Kon Tiki” Expedition – Thor Heyerdahl – 1947

 

Kon Tiki Commemorative Plackard

Kon Tiki Commemorative placard.

 

Here you can see how low lying the atolls are. At night, without GPS and accurate charts this would be a nightmare to try and sail around. In other words, don't do it unless everything is working well and you're confident of your abilities. One of the boats lost here was at night this year.

Here you can see how low lying the atolls are. At night, without GPS and accurate charts this would be a nightmare to try and sail around. In other words, don’t do it unless everything is working well and you’re confident of your abilities. One of the boats lost here was at night this year.  There are at least 77 of these atolls and they are as close together as a few miles in some cases. There is also lots of current. Be careful out there folks!  Heyerdahl’s raft washed up more or less where you see the reef’s edge in the background. It was pretty much pounded to pieces in the surf.

 

Socializing is a big deal with we cruisers out here and "beach barbies" a common event.

Socializing is a big deal with we cruisers out here and “beach barbies” a common event.  From Left to Right: Kyle and Shelley of “Blowin’ Bubbles”,  Scott and Nikki, of “Beach House” and  Lanny and Ginger of “Swiftsure”.

 

Chuck, Nikk and Linda. Chuck and Linda were with me and Cindy in 2009 at Mexico's Revillegegos Islands. It was truly one of the best experiences any of us had ever had, spending 6 weeks interacting daily with enormous Manta Rays. We hadn't really seen each other in 6 years and it was great to have Nikki meet them and finally get some quality catch up time. We stay in frequent email contact.

Chuck, Nikk and Linda. (Chuck and Linda are from San Diego, California).
Chuck and Linda were with me and Cindy in 2009 at Mexico’s Revillegegos Islands. It was truly one of the best experiences any of us had ever had, spending 6 weeks interacting daily with enormous Manta Rays. We hadn’t really seen each other in 6 years and it was great to have Nikki meet them and finally get some quality catch up time. We stay in frequent email contact.

 

s/v "Jacaranda" Chuck Houlihan and Linda Eidiken. They'v been cruising for at least 15 years.

s/v “Jacaranda” Chuck Houlihan and Linda Eidiken. They’v been cruising for at least 15 years.

 

The big industry in the Tuamotus is Pearl Farming. Black Perls are the specialty of French Polynesia and here, we and the crew of "Bubbles" did a tour of the local pearl farm on Raroia. We have to watch out in the lagoon when moving around that we don't run over their lines too!

Kyle looking at all that cash!….The big industry in the Tuamotus is Pearl Farming. Black Perls are the specialty of French Polynesia and here, we and the crew of “Bubbles” did a tour of the local pearl farm on Raroia. We have to watch out in the lagoon when moving around that we don’t run over their lines too!

 

This gal along with about 7 others were "pearl seed experts". They know how to open and place a small synthetic (literally irritant) inside the pearl to maximize it's shape, size and color.

Christine from “Bubbles” is observing this gal along with about 7 others, who were “pearl seed experts”. They know how to open and place a small synthetic (literally irritant) inside the pearl to maximize it’s shape, size and color.  The “seeders” are imported seasonally from Asian nations to contract this work.

 

Pearl Seeding is an art form. Here are the tools of the trade. It's quite the assembly line to watch. About 50,000 pearls of various quality are harvested in Raroia annually.

Pearl Seeding is an art form. Here are the tools of the trade. It’s quite the assembly line to watch. About 50,000 pearls of various quality are harvested in Raroia annually.

 

Off to Tahanea.... Another of the Tuamotus and a "night/day" sail (carefully!) was the atoll of Tahanea. You can again see the ripping pass currents as there are few outlets for the enormous amount of water trying to escape the lagoons.

Off to Tahanea…. Another of the Tuamotus and a “night/day” sail (carefully!) was the atoll of Tahanea. You can again see the ripping pass currents as there are few outlets for the enormous amount of water trying to escape the lagoons.

 

Beach Party.....This anchorage was nicely protected from the 20 knots "breeze" just around the corner and we had about 6 boats here for our very brief stay.

Beach Party…..This anchorage was nicely protected from the 20 knots “breeze” just around the corner and we had about 6 boats here for our very brief stay.

 

Christine and Nikki checking out an occasionally used beach house. Locals will often move around the islands fishing and set up these temporary living quarters.

Christine (crew on “Bubbles”) and Nikki checking out an occasionally used beach house. Locals will often move around the islands fishing and set up these temporary living quarters.

 

Nikki and I fell in love with this tree. It's color, texture and anthropomorphisation was spectacular.

Nikki and I fell in love with this tree. It’s color, texture and anthropomorphisation was spectacular.

 

Human Form - This was clearly part of the appeal and the colors and texture were magnificient.

Human Form – This was clearly part of the appeal and the colors and texture were magnificent. We wish we could have taken it with us. What a center piece in a natural environment.

 

Rainbows at Tahanea

Rainbow at Tahanea Atoll.

Our third island in the group would be my favorite of all - Fakarava

Our third island in the group would be my favorite of all – Fakarava

 

The Greatest of Ironies. When Cindy and I were in Fakarava in 2010, we met the local dive guide Marc Reteneaur. Marc was just the best guy ever. He left Fakarava shortly after we did and hasn't been back since. I had no idea, he had just returned! What a time we always have. Cindy and friends Jill and Dan and I dove with Marc in the South Pass at least 20 times. The memories were overwhelming and the diving was still just as great.

The Greatest of Ironies.
When Cindy and I were in Fakarava in 2010, we met the local dive guide Marc Reteneaur. Marc was just the best guy ever. He left Fakarava shortly after we did and hasn’t been back since. I had no idea, he had just returned! What a time we always have. Cindy and friends Jill and Dan and I dove with Marc in the South Pass at least 20 times. The memories were overwhelming and the diving was still just as great. Marc is the best!

Kyle and Scott go diving.... We did the south pass with the hundreds of Gray Reef Sharks and it was cool. Kyle and his wife Shelley are both dive instructors so the diving was extra easy.

Kyle and Scott go diving….
We did the south pass with the hundreds of Gray Reef Sharks and it was cool. Kyle and his wife Shelley are both dive instructors so the diving was extra easy.

 

Water Music - For those of you have followed us recently, you might remember I did a post on "We've just been passed by a sport car"! Well, here is the owner himself, Pascal Imbert aboard his "rocket ship" s/v "Water Music". We figured he hurt his arm because he was going so fast, the wind bent it back too quickly. Pascal is a semi-retired music mogul and it turns out we had two friends in common back in the US. He and his crew Tom were great guys and we did "sea stories" on steroids over fine French Wine. Pascal also turned us on to some great Miles Davis music which Nikki and I now adore.

Water Music – For those of you have followed us recently, you might remember I did a post on “We’ve just been passed by a sports car”!  Well, here is the owner himself, Pascal Imbert aboard his “rocket ship” s/v “Water Music”. We figured he hurt his arm because he was going so fast, the wind bent it back too quickly.
Pascal is a semi-retired music mogul and it turns out we had two friends in common back in the US. He and his crew Tom were great guys and we did “sea stories” on steroids over fine French Wine. Pascal also turned us on to some great Miles Davis music which Nikki and I now adore. As you can tell from Kyle’s face, he enjoyed the wine!

 

The gangs all here. Mostly , this is the crew of "Kandu" from Marina del Rey (Ventura area too). The kids are big into diving - they just got certified and surfing is big too. Here, I'm dropping the group "up current" for the snorkel in the pass.

The gangs all here. Mostly, this is the crew of s/v  “Kandu” from Marina del Rey (Ventura area too). The kids are big into diving – they just got certified and surfing is big too. Here, I’m dropping the group “up current” for the snorkel in the pass.

 

Sharks! This is what diving in Fakarava is mostly about. There are HUNDREDS of gray reef sharks as well as the odd lemon, lots of black and white tips too.

Sharks! This is what diving in Fakarava is mostly about. There are HUNDREDS of gray reef sharks as well as the odd lemon, lots of black and white tips too.

Lemons of Fakarava

Lemons of Fakarava. These guys are about 2-3 meters. 6-8 feet long or so.

 

We had to finally say good bye to most of our friends and keep moving which we did inside the lagoon. It's a day motor/sail up to the north pass where after a HARROWING night we'd had a few days earlier, the weather just went flat and gorgeous.

We had to finally say good bye to most of our friends and keep moving which we did inside the lagoon. It’s a day motor/sail up to the north pass where after a HARROWING night we’d had a few days earlier, the weather just went flat and gorgeous. To see about our night on a “lee shore” in a mini storm. I’ll let Kyle tell the story of Beach House, Bubbles and Swiftsure. Link to Kyle’s blog here: Kyle and Shelley’s Blog in the Tuamotus  Notice from the THIRD PHOTO DOWN on this link, Kyle’s story of our riding out the storm in Fakarava on a sudden “lee shore”: Lee Shore – Fakarava Storm

 

Moods of Rotova, Fakarava Lagoon - The Tuamotus

Moods of Rotoava, Fakarava Lagoon – The Tuamotus. This is the second most populated island in the Tuamotus with about 750 people.  Most are completely uninhabited. You can’t tell from looking at this photo, but there are dozens of “Bommies” in view. Very shallow rocks that are easy to hit. In the foreground, you can see some of their shadows.

 

Lagoon at north Fakarava. We would leave the next day for the daysail to Toau.

Lagoon at north Fakarava. We would leave the next day for the daysail to Toau.

 

The day turned wet and wild and when we arrived in Toau, the current was so strong when we tried to pick up the mooring, our dock pole went for a swim. I had to dive to get it back. You can see our blue current line which I use for safety so I'm not blown out to sea. The current was about 2 1/2 knots which is too hard to swim against.

The day turned wet and wild and when we arrived in Toau, the current was so strong when we tried to pick up the mooring, our dock pole went for a swim. I had to dive to get it back. You can see our blue current line which I use for safety so I’m not blown out to sea. The current was about 2 1/2 knots which is too hard to swim against. The dock pole was rescued and I brought this live shell up to show Nikki. I returned it after viewing.

 

The locals eat these. But be careful, some species have a spear like projection that can give you a nasty poke.

The locals eat these. But be careful, some species have a spear like projection that can give you a nasty poke. The animal has retreated into it’s shell for protection and it’s constant movement along the bottom is why the shell is so polished on it’s underside.

 

Weather Window Appears. As much as we'd have liked to spend a few more days at Valentin and Gaston's "Anse Amyot" cove on Toau, the weather window opened and we were off for the overnight sail to Tahiti - the capital of French Polynesia.

Entering Papeete Harbor – Weather Window Appears. As much as we’d have liked to spend a few more days at Valentin and Gaston’s “Anse Amyot” cove on Toau, the weather window opened and we were off for the overnight sail to Tahiti – the capital of French Polynesia.

Point Venus - This is the exact spot (Lighthouse) where Captain James Cook sighted the "transit of venus" in the late 1700's to help prove mathmatically the distance that the Sun was from the Earth. It's also the view that the "Bounty" sailors of the famous "Mutiny on the Bounty" had as they arrived in Papeete.

Point Venus – This is the exact spot (Lighthouse) where Captain James Cook on his first voyage to the Pacific, sighted the “transit of venus” in 1769 to help prove mathmatically the distance that the Sun was from the Earth. It’s also the view that the “Bounty” sailors of the famous “Mutiny on the Bounty” had as they arrived in Papeete.

 

Entrance Buoy at Papeete Harbor. We would end up staying here almost 3 months getting our repairs done.

Entrance Buoy at Papeete Harbor. We would end up staying here almost 3 months getting our repairs done.  Remember you Yanks, it’s RED on the left when returning from the sea in most of the world outside the America’s!

Our next blog will be about our time in Tahiti some of our sight seeing and mostly about our BOAT REPAIRS!

Please recall that the definition of cruising a small boat is “doing boat projects in exotic locations”…..:-)  It is completely TRUE.
I hope to get this out as soon as tomorrow, Friday at the latest as we’ll be off on Saturday to finally go WEST!
KIT,
Scott and Nikki

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends and Family, (written from Papeete, Tahiti – August 23rd, 2016).

This blog was from this past May and June.

We’re catching up on the last few blogs to get current and we’ll soon be off to the leeward islands of Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora Bora before heading off to Suwarrow in the Cook Islands.

We did an amazing amount of “boat stuff” in Tahiti and we think we’re finally done. There is a big weather front coming through tonight and tomorrow and we believe we’ll finally head out west on Saturday!

KIT,
Scott and Nikki

 

Nikki hoists the colors! We would not be checking in here, in fact, boats aren't supposed to come here first before checking in at Hiva Oa (35 miles to the north). However, it can be very difficult to get back here as it's often upwind against the trade winds. As such, we took the risk of a scolding. It was the right move.

After 3100 miles “at sea” on our 18 day passage from the Galapagos, Nikki hoists the colors! We would not be checking in at Fatu Hiva where we arrived the previous evening. We would do that bit of business in Hiva Oa, (35 miles to the north). However, it can be very difficult to get back here as it’s often upwind against the trade winds. The hiking, the bay and the views here are spectacular and it’s a “must not miss” destination in the Marquesas Islands.

 

Arriving at Atuona, Hiva Oa. This is the primary first stop for most cruising boats and the second largest of the Marquesian Islands. There were over 45 boats anchored here, almost all bow and stern due to the crowded conditions at this - the height of the season.

Arriving at Atuona, Hiva Oa. This is the primary first stop for most cruising boats and the second largest of the Marquesian Islands. There were over 45 boats anchored here, almost all bow and stern due to the crowded conditions at this – the height of the season.

 

Kyle and Shelley's "Blowin' Bubbles" off our bow. We're all bow and stern anchored and awaiting the arrival of one of the inter island cargo ships. As such, we all have to pack in even tighter.

Kyle and Shelley’s “Blowin’ Bubbles” off our bow. We’re all bow and stern anchored and awaiting the arrival of one of the inter island cargo ships. As such, we all have to pack in even tighter. The boats you see on the bow are about one quarter of those that were there and they are all in the process of moving behind “Bubbles” to avoid the entry of the “Taporo IX”.

 

Taporo IX is one of the several inter island cargo ships that bring most of the supplies to the Marquesas. When they enter the harbor, they drop an anchor and swing around. It's quite exciting to watch and everyone close hopes that "hook" will hold!

Taporo IX is one of the several inter island cargo ships that bring most of the supplies to the Marquesas. When they enter the harbor, they drop an anchor and swing around. It’s quite exciting to watch and everyone close hopes that “hook” will hold!  On other days, the new “Aranui V” comes in and it’s almost twice the size of the “Taporo” fleet vessels.

 

View from the back of the Bay. "Swiftsure" was in the shallowest of the water here at only around 5 feet deep. A Tsunami came in here last year and fortunately there was only one or two boats. They survived but apparently by luck alone.

View from the back of the Bay. “Swiftsure” (bottom right) was in the shallowest of the water here at only around 5 feet deep. A Tsunami came in here last year and fortunately there was only one or two boats. They survived but apparently by luck alone. Sometimes the small waves you see here are big enough to surf!

Overview of Atuona, Hiva Oa. This view is from the old cemetary where the famous French artist Paul Gaugin is buried as well as the famous French singer, Jacques Brel. Brel's "Seasons in the Sun" was made famous in 1974' by the one hit wonder - Terry Jacks. For all of you old enough, I include the song here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd_Fdly3rX8 This song was written by Brel when he realized he was dying of lung cancer. He died in 1978.

Overview of Atuona, Hiva Oa. This view is from the old cemetary where the famous French artist Paul Gaugin is buried as well as the famous French singer, Jacques Brel.

 

The late great Jacque Brel. Late in life, Brel did philanthropy work around the Marquesas which he travelled around in his private twin engine plane. Brel's "Seasons in the Sun" was made famous in 1974' by the one hit wonder - Terry Jacks. For all of you old enough, I include the song link here:  Jacques Brel's "Season in the Sun" by Terry Jacks This song was written by Brel when he realized he was dying of lung cancer. He died in 1978.

The late great Jacque Brel. Late in life, Brel did philanthropy work around the Marquesas which he travelled around in his private twin engine plane.
Brel’s “Seasons in the Sun” was made famous in 1974′ by the one hit wonder – Terry Jacks. For all of you old enough, I include the song link here:  Jacques Brel’s “Season in the Sun” by Terry Jacks
This song was written by Brel when he realized he was dying of lung cancer. He died in 1978.

 

Paul Gaugin - The famous French impressionist artist worked on the Panama Canal just prior to his arrival in the Marquesas where he did some of his most famous works. Gaugin suffered from the effects of his life threatening experience with Yellow Fever which he contracted while working on the canal.

Paul Gaugin – The famous French impressionist artist worked on the Panama Canal just prior to his arrival in the Marquesas. Gaugin suffered from the effects of his life threatening experience with Yellow Fever which he contracted while working on the canal. His painting of local Marquesans are considered some of his most famous.

 

Shelley and Kyle from "Bubbles". The always lovely Ms. Woodrow in attendance!...:-)

Shelley and Kyle from “Bubbles”. The always lovely Ms. Woodrow in attendance!…:-)

Nikki did a day tour of some of the famous Marquesian ruins with the "Moai" statues.

Nikki did a day tour of some of the famous Marquesian ruins with the “Moai” statues.

 

Cindy and I had done this tour in 2009 and I had lots of "boat projects" to attend to, so Nikki spent the day touring with another Australian crew.

Cindy and I had done this tour in 2009 and I had lots of “boat projects” to attend to, so Nikki spent the day touring with another Australian crew. I told her she shouldn’t miss it and she had a good day. It’s still controversial to this day of where the original Marquesian’s came from.  The popular belief is still that they emigrated from the west.  For those of you who are sailors and realize  how incredibly difficult it would be to sail 5000 miles UPWIND in canoes, Thor Heyerdahls theories still hold water. See the following link to see his still viable theories: Thor Heyerdahl – Norwegian Explorer and Author

 

Coastal Overviews of the northern bays of Hiva Oa. We wouldn't spend a great deal of time in these islands. I'd been here twice before and we had to move on as we knew we'd be spending a great deal of time in Tahiti doing "boat projects".

Coastal Overviews of the northern bays of Hiva Oa.
We wouldn’t spend a great deal of time in these islands. I’d been here twice before and we had to move on as we knew we’d be spending a great deal of time in Tahiti doing “boat projects”.

 

Hanamananoe Bay - Tahauata Island. We were going to stop at this beautiful bay where I"d been in 2009, but as it was crowded, we were anxious to get on our way and we all the sudden had a nice weather window to head to the next major group - the Tuamotus. We hailed all our friends on the radio and kept right on going the 500 miles to the island of Raroia in the Tuatmotus.

Hanamananoe Bay – Tahauata Island. We were going to stop at this beautiful bay (only 7 miles from Hiva Oa) where I”d been in 2009, As it was crowded, we were anxious to get on our way and we all the sudden had a nice weather window to head to the next major group – the Tuamotus. We hailed all our friends on the radio and kept right on going the 500 miles to the island of Raroia in the Tuatmotus.

 

"Jacaranda" This is Chuck and Linda's answer to the crowd in Hanamananoe. They just moved next door. We were old friends and had spent 6 weeks together in the Revillagegedos Islands of Mexico in 2009. They would leave the next day with "Blowin' Bubbles" and we'd all get to finally catch up in Raroia. Just before we'd left Atuona, we had a lovely dinner together - the first time we'd seen each other in 6 years and a trip around the world!

“Jacaranda” This is Chuck and Linda’s answer to the crowd in Hanamananoe. They just moved next door. We were old friends and had spent 6 weeks together in the Revillagegedos Islands of Mexico, diving with the Manta Rays in 2009. They would leave the next day with “Blowin’ Bubbles” and we’d all get to finally catch up in Raroia. Just before we’d left Atuona, we had a lovely dinner together – the first time we’d seen each other in 6 years and a trip around the world!

 

Good Bye Tahuata and the Marquesas - next stop, Raroia. The island where Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon Tiki" famously landed after it's trip across the Pacific from South America in 1947.

Good Bye Tahuata and the Marquesas – next stop, Raroia. The island where Thor Heyerdahl’s “Kon Tiki” famously landed after it’s trip across the Pacific from South America in 1947.

Next stop The Tuamotus, also known as the “Dangerous Archipelago”. Next Blog coming up within the day!

Stand by,
Scott and Nikki

 

UPDATE August 3rd, 2016….

We’re still in Tahiti, the new engines go in (we hope) on Thursday and Friday, our steering and boom vang to be fixed then as well. We’re over six weeks behind schedule and are anxious to head west.

Enjoy the combination Ship’s Blog and Photo Gallery of our 18 day passage across the Pacific from the Galapagos Islands to the Marquesian Island of Fatu Hiva.

Our sail was from April 26th – May 14th, 2016….. we’re catching up!

 

 

Nikki strikes the Ecuadorian color. We had been waiting for the trade winds to get closer and about 125 miles to our Southwest was about as close as they would get for the next week, so we decided to head off in virtually no wind.

–                    Nikki strikes the Ecuadorian colors.                        –
We had been waiting for the trade winds to get closer and about 125 miles to our Southwest was about as close as they would get for the next week, so we decided to head off in virtually no wind.

 

The day we headed out, there were three other boats that left with us. Two had left the day before and 6 would leave at the next weather window in about 4 days.

The day we headed out, there were three other boats that left with us. Two had left the day before and 6 would leave at the next weather window in about 4 days.

 

Goodbye Isabela! Our last look at the Galapagos as we set sail for our 3100 mile crossing of the Pacific. Typically, this trip takes the average boat 23 days. As we're a lot faster than most, I was hoping for 18 days which would average just around 175-80 miles/day. In 2009, we did it in 16 1/2 day, but had more stable wind as we left a month later in June of that year.

Goodbye Isabela!
Our last look at the Galapagos as we set sail for our 3100 mile crossing of the Pacific. Typically, this trip takes the average boat 23 days. As we’re a lot faster than most, I was hoping for 18 days which would average just around 175-180 miles/day. In 2009, we did it in 16 1/2 day, but had more stable wind as we left a month later in June of that year.

 

As in 2009, we ended up seeing one ship and one sailboat on the entire crossing. We saw this car carrier on our second day out of the Galapagos. It's a very lonely route as there are no real commercial shipping routes along our proposed path. There were however at least 25 other sailboats out there with us scattered over 1500 miles. Typically, about 200 boats make this trip each year.

As in 2009, we ended up seeing one ship and one sailboat on the entire crossing. We saw this car carrier on our second day out of the Galapagos. It’s a very lonely route as there are no real commercial shipping routes along our proposed path. There were however at least 25 other sailboats out there with us scattered over 1500 miles. Typically, about 200 boats make this trip each year. We say this vessel on our AIS (automatic identification system), but you can see, despite being in the middle of NOWHERE, you must keep your eyes out on watch!

 

Engine Woes again! Here was our make shift "pressure relief" system for the engines. We took the oil filler cap off and vented the crank case. As such, we stopped leaking oil out the crank shaft seal where it met the transmission. We wouldn't get a true resolution of all this (by way of NEW ENGINES) until we reached Tahiti.

–                                  Engine Woes again!                                 –
Here was our make shift “pressure relief” system for the engines. We took the oil filler cap off and vented the crank case. As such, we stopped leaking oil out the crank shaft seal where it met the transmission. We wouldn’t get a true resolution of all this (by way of NEW ENGINES) until we reached Tahiti.  Fortunately, we only had to motor about 30 total hours the entire trip, most of which was in the first day. Just as we would arrive in Fatu Hiva, the port engine began overheating for reasons which to this day, we don’t know.

 

The morning of the second day we were still motoring, but the wind soon came up. W e are in daily contact with other boats via HF radio, email and this gave us a feel for what was ahead of us. One boat, "Kristiana", our Panama Canal transit mate had broken a headstay and we'd receive daily reports about their progress. All turned out well in the end.

The morning of the second day we were still motoring, but the wind soon came up. We are in daily contact with other boats via HF radio and email and this gave us a feel for what was ahead of us. We can also download weather files and if in a real pinch, make a satellite telephone call.                                                                                                                                                                       One boat, “Kristiana”, our Panama Canal transit mate had broken a headstay and we’d receive daily reports about their progress. All turned out well in the end – repairs successful when they reached Tahiti..

 

The Wind Arrives! About 22 hours after we left Isabela, we found the trade winds which started to build. It turns out the first day would be the best day for wind the entire trip!

–                      The Wind Arrives! Genoa set to starboard (port tack). We did 198 miles the first full day of wind.                                –
About 22 hours after we left Isabela, we found the trade winds which started to build. It turns out the first day would be the best day for wind the entire trip!

 

Taking photos of Sunsets and particularly on my sunrise watch - sunrises, became a daily feature.

Taking photos of Sunsets and particularly on my sunrise watch – sunrises, became a daily feature.

 

The trades filled in and the wind went to the South East. We were able to set our genoa to port and really started stretching our legs.

The trades filled in and the wind went to the South East. We were able to set our genoa to port and really started stretching our legs.  An unusual feature of taking photos as sea is that the ocean always looks MUCH CALMER than it is. It’s not rough in this shot, but we were moving along quite nicely. NOTE: CRAP SHOOT on the bow pulpit.

 

The winds started to lighten as we went along, so we were able to fly our spinnaker. This is the big power sail, but ours is really small compared to what we could fly. As we're a crew of only two, we don't want to have so much sail up that we can't control it. There is a "spinnaker sock" at the top of the sail which we pull down when we want to put it away.

The winds started to lighten as we went along, so we were able to fly our spinnaker. This is the big power sail, but ours is really small compared to what we could fly. As we’re a crew of only two, we don’t want to have so much sail up that we can’t control it. There is a “spinnaker sock” at the top of the sail which we pull down when we want to put it away.  The pole is usually stored parallel to the two headsails you see in the photo (rolled up). We never have to remove the inboard end from the mast. It’s carbon fiber and as such, extremely light and easy to handle, yet very strong.

 

What do we do all day? We are often asked what we do while on long passages. Frankly, we're pretty busy most of the time with radio communications, meal preparations, navigation, sail handling, maintenance and there's always a good book!...:-)

What do we do all day? We are often asked what we do while on long passages. Frankly, we’re pretty busy most of the time with radio communications, meal preparations, navigation, weather, emails, sail handling, maintenance and there’s always a good book!…:-)

 

Sunrise at Sea.... and how I just MISSED the AMADON LIGHT!

Sunrise at Sea…. and how I just MISSED the AMADON LIGHT!

 

Amadon Light. According to friends Biil Healy and Gary Walls (whose boat is named "Amadon Light"), this is the morning version of the green flash. Now I've seen lots of green flashes out here at sunset over the years, but never one in the morning. This photo was taken 1-2 seconds before I DID INDEED see the morning "Green Flash". It popped up like an inverted "U" and went up about as high as the brightest part of the color you see below th e cloud. Now when I'v looked on the internet for "Amadon Light", all I ever find is Gary an Bill's boat BLOG! However, a "morning green flash" does indeed exist. It may even be called ' The Amadon Light".....-)

Amadon Light. According to friends Biil Healy and Gary Walls (whose boat is named “Amadon Light”), this is the morning version of the green flash. Now I’ve seen lots of green flashes out here at sunset over the years, but never one in the morning. This photo was taken 1-2 seconds before I DID INDEED see the morning “Green Flash”. It popped up like an inverted “U” and went up about as high as the brightest part of the color you see below th e cloud. As usual, it was there for less than a 1/2 second.  Now when I’ve looked on the internet for “Amadon Light”, all I ever find is Gary an Bill’s boat BLOG! However, a “morning green flash” does indeed exist. It may even be called ‘ The Amadon Light”…..-)

 

CRAP SHOOT arrives! This red footed boobie bird seemed tired and we're quite used to seeing birds far from shore land on the deck for awhile to have a rest. This guy however stayed for three days! He would always return to the same port bow pulpit and was oblivious to the sails and lines wiggling all around him.

“CRAP SHOOT” arrives!
This red footed boobie bird seemed tired and we’re quite used to seeing birds far from shore land on the deck for awhile to have a rest. This guy however stayed for three days! He would always return to the same port bow pulpit and was oblivious to the sails and lines wiggling all around him.

 

If you want to know where he got the name "CRAP SHOOT", just look at the deck below the bird. He'd go fishing in the morning and I'd go up to try and scrub off the poop. Twice, he almost landed on my head upon his return and gave me the look. That look said, "He pal, go find your own floating island, this one's mine!".....:-)

If you want to know where he got the name “CRAP SHOOT”, just look at the deck below the bird. He’d go fishing in the morning and I’d go up to try and scrub off the poop. Twice, he almost landed on my head upon his return and gave me the look. That look said, “He pal, go find your own floating island, this one’s mine!”…..:-)

 

I could never tell if he was just laughing at me or what? On the third day, a squall came in and we were in very low visibility conditions. He went fishing and never returned.

I could never tell if he was just laughing at me or what? On the third day, a squall came in and we were in very low visibility conditions. He went fishing and never returned.

 

"CRAP SHOOT" would put with the lines from the spinnaker and even our putting it up and down. There he is on his perch.

“CRAP SHOOT” would put with the lines from the spinnaker and even our putting it up and down. There he is on his perch. Good Luck CS!

 

Genneker on the pole! This sail is 50% bigger than our genoa, (the front of the two rolled up), but 50% smaller than our spinnaker. In theory, it's easy to control and done so by the furling drum at the bottom of the sail. It's too big to fly from the middle, so we have it "out to weather" on our floating tack line.

Genneker on the pole! (Also known as a Code Zero or a Screecher).
This sail is 50% bigger than our genoa, (the front of the two rolled up), but 50% smaller than our spinnaker. In theory, it’s easy to control and done so by the furling drum at the bottom of the sail. It’s too big to fly from the middle, so we have it “out to weather” on our floating tack line.

Here you can see the "free luff furler line" that rolls up this sail. It must be kept taught to roll it back up and it' s best to blanket it behind the mainsail.

Here you can see the “free luff furler line”  (Blue line on the right) that rolls up this sail. It must be kept taught to roll it back up and it’ s best to blanket it behind the mainsail. After flying this for 36 straight hours, our steering failed (hydraulic issue) and oh boy what a mess!

 

Nikki pulling the Genneker out of the starboard hatch. We had no idea, but just as the sun had set the night before, our steering started to slip. After lots of miles, our "check valves" were worn out on the balancing system of the hydraulic steering. They keep the two rudders aligned . Well, the boat just started to round up. We got it stabilized and went to roll up the genneker. The boat rounded up again and all heck broke loose! We had the sail half way in and then the wind caught the back of it and I was afraid it would rip to pieces. We couldn't roll it anymore so we lowered it and it went in the water. After it was down it was only connected at the bottom and it was blanketed from the downwind side of the boat. We were able to get in on deck and back into the hatch. Then I went and reset the steering. This would remain an ISSUE all the way to Tahiti.

Nikki pulling the Genneker out of the starboard hatch. We had no idea, but just as the sun had set the night before, our steering started to slip. After lots of miles, our “check valves” were worn out on the balancing system of the hydraulic steering. They keep the two rudders aligned and turns out aren’t even necessary!  Well, the boat just started to round up. We got it stabilized and went to roll up the genneker. The boat rounded up again and all heck broke loose! We had the sail half way in and then the wind caught the back of it and I was afraid it would rip to pieces. We couldn’t roll it anymore so we lowered it and it went in the water. After it was down it was only connected at the bottom to the front of the boat and it was blanketed from the downwind side of the boat. We were able to get in on deck and back into the hatch. Then I went and reset the steering. This would remain an ISSUE all the way to Tahiti. In Tahiti, we’d remove the check valves and just by pass them. They’ve always been an issue and never solved the rudder alignment problem.

 

Scott fixes the free luff furler unit. The Harken Code Zero furler unit has two "wings" which are very vulnerable to getting bent. In the melee, one got bent. New parts arrived in Tahiti for the fix. A few days later, we were able to set the sail in light wind and roll it back up properly.

Scott fixes the free luff furler unit. The Harken Code Zero furler unit has two “wings” which are very vulnerable to getting bent. In the melee, one got bent. New parts arrived in Tahiti for the fix. A few days later, we were able to set the sail in light wind and roll it back up properly.  Here you can see it’s half rolled up and half open like it was when we lowered it in the big building wind as the steering failed.  Every 2-6 hours all the rest of the way on all the way the next 1000 miles to Tahiti, I had to re-set the steering rams in the engine rooms. A MAJOR PAIN in the rear.

 

Squalls a commin'.... We had two bad squall experiences. The first one was the steering issue, but the second one, I just got lazy. Nikki asked me if we should shorten sail for a large but benign looking one astern. I thought it just a bunch of rain! NOT! 40 KNOTS for 10 minutes and it stayed for 30 minutes with winds always at 24 knots or more! We had a full main up and the furling line was damaged. We "ran before" till it calmed down. It was a big expected wind shift and I learned my lesson - yet again. It's probably one of the 2 or 3 biggest squalls we've seen all the way around the world in 9 years.

Squalls a commin’….
We had two bad squall experiences. The first one was the steering issue, but the second one, I just got lazy. Nikki asked me if we should shorten sail for a large but benign looking one astern. I thought it just a bunch of rain! NOT! 40 KNOTS for 10 minutes and it stayed for 30 minutes with winds always at 24 knots or more! We had a full main up and the furling line was damaged. We “ran before” till it calmed down. It was a big expected wind shift and I learned my lesson – yet again. It’s probably one of the 2 or 3 biggest squalls we’ve seen all the way around the world in 9 years.

 

Sail HO! Just like 2009, we saw one ship and one sailboat. This was Pascal Imbert's "Watermusic". Pascal is in the music business and hence the name. This thing was the fastest boat out there. He was doing 15 knots when I took this photo. We spoke on our VHF radio and stayed in touch finally meeting in the Tuamotu Islands at Fakarava. Pascal is a lot of fun! His boat is a rocket ship.

Sail HO! Just like 2009, we saw one ship and one sailboat. This was Pascal Imbert’s “Watermusic”. Pascal is in the music business and hence the name. This thing was the fastest boat out there. He was doing 15 knots when I took this photo. We spoke on our VHF radio and stayed in touch finally meeting in the Tuamotu Islands at Fakarava. Pascal is a lot of fun! His boat is a rocket ship. 52 foot catamaran, all carbon fiber, 22 meter mast (carbon) and weighs only 6 tons!  “Beach House” is 51 feet long, vinyl ester with a 19 meter mast and weighs 17 tons (with all the gear, food, fuel spares, etc.).  It’s a very exciting ride. .Think surfboard at sea.  We hope to do 200 miles in a day, Pascal NEVER DOES LESS THAN 200 miles in a day and averages around 270.  He sailed from Costa Rica (west coast of the America’s) to Fatu Hiva in 18 days, that’s an extra 900 miles he did in the same time it took us from the Galapagos.

Nikki studying the stars! Nikki is fascinated by Celestial Navigation, especially using the stars. She takes a star shot every now and again to keep in practice. She did running fixes with the Sun all across our Indian Ocean passage in 2012.

Nikki studying the stars! Nikki is fascinated by Celestial Navigation, especially using the stars. She takes a star shot every now and again to keep in practice. She did running fixes with the Sun all across our Indian Ocean passage in 2012.

 

The ocean's "sea scape" and moods change constantly.

The ocean’s “sea scape” and moods change constantly.

 

We made lots of sail changes depending on the strength of the wind and what we anticipated.

We made lots of sail changes depending on the strength of the wind and what we anticipated. Though an asymmetric spinnaker, designed to fly from the bowsprit, we can sail much “deeper”, or said another way, with the wind much further behind us with the spinnaker on the pole.

 

Squall on the horizon. We have to watch out for these as the winds often build or shift significantly, not to mention rain.

Squall on the horizon. We have to watch out for these as the winds often build or shift significantly, not to mention rain. This one has past from our port to starboard and if there are lots about and at night, we can use our radar to see where they’re headed.

 

Rainbows are a frequent sight on long ocean passages.

Rainbows are a frequent sight on long ocean passages.

 

More Rainbows, no Unicorns, just the moods of the ocean.

More Rainbows, no Unicorns, just the moods of the ocean.  We also watch to see how high these cumulous clouds develop. These aren’t severe and are well spaced. Often, big squalls in a line are the harbinger of a major persistent wind shift.

 

LAND HO! After 18 days at sea, we spotted Fatu HIva! This island was made famous by Thor Heyerdahl in the book of the same name.

LAND HO! After 18 days at sea, we spotted Fatu HIva! This island was made famous by Thor Heyerdahl in the book of the same name. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Heyerdahl’ book, “Fatu Hiva – Back to Paradise” 

 

Our last sunset of the voyage. We would actually enter Hanavave Bay (The Bay of VIrgins) this night. I'd been there before and knew it would be safe to enter with no obstructions. As well, our friends on "Blowin' Bubbles" had arrived the day before and would be up to help guide us in.

Our last sunset of the voyage. We would actually enter Hanavave Bay (The Bay of VIrgins) this night. I’d been there before and knew it would be safe to enter with no obstructions. As well, our friends on “Blowin’ Bubbles” had arrived the day before and would be up to help guide us in.

 

Nikki liked to blow the conch shell every evening at Sundown.

Nikki liked to blow the conch shell every evening at Sundown. Our last night of the voyage.

 

Sails down and motoring in as the wind died. Just about this time the port engine started overheating. We''d end up removing the thermostat for the next month before we arrived in Tahiti, but it was just one more straw in the major engine caper.

Fatu Hiva! – Sails down and motoring in as the wind died. Just about this time the port engine started overheating. We”d end up removing the thermostat for the next month before we arrived in Tahiti, but it was just one more straw in the major engine caper.

 

Dawn at Hanavave Bay, the Bay of Virgins. The locals originally called this the Bay of Phalluses for which I'm sure you can see why. The Missionary's were offended by this and re-named the bay to it's name today.

Dawn at Hanavave Bay, the Bay of Virgins. The locals originally called this the Bay of Phalluses for which I’m sure you can see why. The Missionary’s were offended by this and re-named the bay to it’s name today. The previous evening, several of the crusing boats here knew we were coming via email and radio communications and turned on their lights for us. The boat on the left is “Blowin’ Bubbles”, Kyle and Shelley from Canada.  We were in daily radio/email communications all the way across. They took 23 days, we took 18. Cats are cool!…:-) I was last here with Cindy in 2009.

Nikki hoists the colors! We would not be checking in here, in fact, boats aren't supposed to come here first before checking in at Hiva Oa (35 miles to the north). However, it can be very difficult to get back here as it's often upwind against the trade winds. As such, we took the risk of a scolding. It was the right move.

Nikki hoists the colors! We would not be checking in here, but wanted to come here first as it can be a difficult sail to get back from the check in island at Hiva Oa.

 

The spires here are breathtaking and note the family of goats precariously walking on the side of the almost vertical cliff. You could here them bleating from the anchorage.

The spires here are breathtaking and note the family of goats precariously walking on the side of the almost vertical cliff. You could here them bleating from the anchorage.

 

Ashore for a bit of internet and a day hike.

Ashore for a bit of internet and a day hike. Yes, even this remote corner of the world has wireless!

 

Fatu Hiva is simply a gorgeous island with dense jungles.....

Fatu Hiva is simply a gorgeous island with dense jungles…..

And Waterfalls......

And Waterfalls……

 

We did the 4 mile round trip hike up what is an incredibly steep road.

We did the 4 mile round trip hike up what is an incredibly steep road.

 

The view back to Hanavave Bay is spectacular. Beach House is the boat on the right.

The view back to Hanavave Bay is spectacular. Beach House is the boat, second from the left.

 

The flora is spectacular. This is Ginger Lilly.

The flora is spectacular. This is a Ginger Lilly.

 

The cumulous clouds pushed by the trade winds hit the mountain range and get cold. This causes the leeward (downwind) side of the island to often get rain.

The cumulous clouds pushed by the trade winds hit the mountain range and get cold. This causes the leeward (downwind) side of the island to often get rain.

 

Departing Hanavave Bay to check in at Hiva Oa.

Departing Hanavave Bay to check in at Hiva Oa.

 

Friends on "Ta-b" headed out with us for the day sail to Hiva Oa.

Friends on “Ta-b” headed out with us for the day sail to Hiva Oa.

 

Last time....This was my second trip to this magically beautiful island and I'm sure my last. I had great memories for both times and of course I often thought of my time here with Cindy six years ago. Stand by, our next blog will be about our time in the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands and our trip into Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia with all it's romance and intrigue from Captain Cook to the Bounty Mutiny. Scott and Nikki

Last time….This was my second trip to this magically beautiful island and I’m sure my last. I had great memories from both times and of course I often thought of my time here with Cindy six years ago.
Stand by, our next blog will be about our time in the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands and our trip into Tahiti, the main island of French Polynesia with all it’s romance and intrigue from Captain Cook to Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian of the Bounty Mutiny.      Scott and Nikki