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_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On passage again, Wed, 5/9 11:00AM 13 41 S, 141 46W (Ginger)

It took us a couple of extra days to get moving again but we're on our way to the Tuamotus. We had a great hike up a valley on Saturday 5/5. Our friend, Teii gave us a tour of the valley and showed us a number of tikis and other petroglyphs. It also happens that his family has some fruit trees up in the valley so by the end of our trip he had filled our packs with mangoes, oranges and pamplemousse plus a coconut in each hand. We were with our new friends from "Paddy West's" and their 6 year old
son was well entertained by Teii and all the fruit. Fortunately we brought some mosquito repellant because there were swarms of mosquitos and even with our deet repellant we ended up with a lot of bites. On our way out from the hike we passed a man with 6 dogs and an 8 inch knife heading up the valley to hunt wild pig. He seemed confident but we decided we wouldn't want to face pig tusks with 6 scrawny dogs and a small knife.
We were lucky to be in the bay on Sunday morning to watch the "Aranui 3" unload supplies at Vaitahu. It's a dicey process at best there though we heard lots of "no problem" before the boat came. They load all the pallets of supplies on smaller boats called "lighters". One lighter appeared to be made out of a surplus bridge section. The lighters head to the quay, this is no ordinary substantial quay. This is a cement road that's built over some rocks at one end of the bay. As they bring the
boat in the bulldozer meets them at a 90 degree angle to the boat and they strap chains from the bulldozer to the pallet. Some of the pallets were large stacks of cement block so they were quite unwieldy. As they watch the waves they connect the last chain and yell "vite, vite" the bulldozer jerks the pallet off the boat and tries to clear the other pallets as the surge moves the boat forward and back. With the heavy pallets the back hoe end of the dozer came way off the ground, the pallet would
lift but sometimes they weren't quite fast enough for the waves which resulted in a few broken blocks left on the quay. As the pallets come off with supplies for the stores and the rest of the island, people descend on the pallet and clear it into waiting pickup trucks. The empty containers are then filled with copra and noni fruit to go back to Tahiti. Though we found out most of the garbage is burned and then buried here they do recycle glass bottles so flats of those are loaded back aboard
the boat as well. They also load empty fuel drums aboard and take on full ones. In the middle of the pallet loading the passengers head ashore and then get loaded back on board as well. They have managed to turn their supply ship into a cruise ship and there are about 100 passengers aboard. It looks so deluxe I was trying to figure out how to stow away for a night or two. They took 2 loads of people ashore. Most went to the catholic church and then went to the 5 tables set up to sell carved
bone, vanilla beans and dried bananas. Within 2 hours the passengers were all back aboard, the outgoing pallets were aboard and the "Aranui 3" hauled anchor and headed south. All that was left on the quay as they departed was a few pallets of cement block.
The quay is a hub of activity in town as it is the loading place for small boats that go to other islands as well. Typically a boat would nose close to the quay and luggage would be tossed at the peak of a wave as the boat hovers. Then it's time for the passenger(s) to jump and off the boat goes. For us the quay was our landing spot. There are 2 choices there. There are narrow stairs which go straight down to the water or there's a flat shelf. We've been using "red dogfish" our inflatable kayak
lately so the boat was a little tippy to try for the stairs. The platform was just about big enough to fit the whole kayak on top. The tricky part, of course, were the waves and the tide. If the tide was perfect and the waves small we could ride a wave on to the platform, jump out and hold the boat as the wave receded. We'd be left holding the boat high and dry and then we'd negotiate the stairs rounded by years of surf and put the boat somewhere out of the way on the other side of the road.
If the waves were big they would crash over the platform and then recede leaving a 2 foot drop-off between the launch platform and the water. If we were half on, half off the boat would have capsized. To complicate matters the whole platform is nicely covered with slime and the kids like to swim there in the afternoon. Though we were there for over a week we never swam accidentally at the quay (it was a great place to snorkel) and were glad we had a light boat to carry up the stairs.
We're now surrounded by blue again. We've just passed our first islands in the Tuamotus though we can't see them because they're 30 miles south of us. We still have 200 miles to go so we may not be able to enter the lagoon until the day after tomorrow. Lagoon negotiation must be done in daylight to avoid coral heads.

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