Manihi – Tuamotu Atolls…..

Dear F&F,

August 23, 2009
Manihi – Tuamotu Atoll

We decided to head to Manihi for a few reasons. We both woke up before the 5:00 a.m. alarm so got a good jump on hoisting the anchor, which was made easy since the lift bags we put on yesterday kept the chain off the coral heads. The morning twilight gave us enough light to see the north pass exit clearly, plus we had our track marked on the chart plotter from our test run out & back the day we arrived.

The wind was 20-25 knots very close to being on the nose. The angle is too close to sail, plus we do not want to risk going too slowly & missing a daylight entry. We motored the whole way with the staysail out to give us a little boost. We took 2 hour watches. I was not perfect, but not too seasick with sturgeron & the A.W.Z. (Annoying Wrist Zapper). My 2nd off watch I slept hard & when I got up we were here – wonderful. The entry was well marked & not difficult. It did get as shallow as 11 feet, but Scott had good control of the helm on the ebb tide.

We hailed Xavier on the VHF. He runs the SailMail station here. It is a parallel, pay system similar to Winlink, but allows business. We use both systems (in fact sends all these web posts to our site via Sailmail). Scott had emailed Xavier telling him we were coming. He has arranged for us to buy diesel when the next supply ship comes. Xavier is French, a retired commanding officer for the French Navy in French Polynesia. He & wife Ann Lawrance also have a home in Tahiti. They bought their motu (little islet) here about 3 years ago & are in construction of a wonderful home. She is a maritime law attorney. They were both welcoming & delightful.

We also met cruiser Sylvan from Quebec. He used to work in the lumber business out of Costa Rica & Dana Point. He left for the cruising life 3 years ago. He had engine trouble plus a leak at his mast which resulted in a 56 day passage from Costa Rica to the Marquesas. YIKES! He looks very \”native\” with bushy hair & beard. Lucky for us, they all speak English very well. It is embarrassing that our French is so rusty. When I try to speak, Spanish comes out. Sylvan invites us all onboard for crepes. He has a sweet 15 year old Jack Russell terrier. Xavier & Ann have 2 dogs also. An American contractor from San Diego, Kenny Crocker, is living with them in their temporary dwelling overseeing the building of their main home. It will by lovely when finished. A lot of work still.

Scott took photos of Xavier with his SailMail equipment. The weather is a delightful 82 with a 13 knot breeze. We are so glad we chose to come here & not just head to Rangiroa. We will get there, but we have some time to spend here. Tomorrow I get to use the high speed internet at Xavier\’s home! He described how shockingly cheap it was to run a submerged cable from the village to his house for internet. They have solar & wind power plus a generator. Ann\’s enthusiasm for the project was contagious. There are daily flights from Papeete to Manihi so she is frequently back & forth. They have 4 grown children, 3 in Paris, one in Tahiti she intends to send back to school in Paris. They are a very warm & friendly couple.

Today is our 18th year of being in love. On this day 18 years ago we sailed to Catalina together for the first time on \”Greybeard\”, Scott\’s parent\’s boat. It seemed fitting to share our afternoon with another couple in love with each other and this island.

We will dive here for sure. We can dinghy 15 minutes to the village & see about diving with the local dive center. Ann said her kids have gone & it is very good. Marc, dive master from Fakarava, may be coming to work here. It would be fantastic if we could dive with him again.

I am glad I cooked rice & chicken with my last jar of Trader Joes mojito sauce last night. So easy to just heat dinner. There is a bakery here, so we can buy fresh baguettes, which is good since I am down to my last frozen one & not so keen to heat up the boat baking bread. I\’ll be eager to see what else they have in the store.

Cindy & Scott