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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Moorea, French Polynesia Friday 6/29 10:00 AM Ginger

We left Tahiti last Wednesday to spend a couple of days at Moorea. This island is to Tahiti as Bainbridge Island is to Seattle. There are 12000 residents on the island and many of them commute by ferry to Tahiti for work. We went to Cooks Bay last Wednesday to see the Polynesian dance show. It was a good show and as a bonus didn't involve paying $80 for a traditional buffet so it fit our budget too ($5 per person). Thursday we tidied up the boat, had lunch and then headed to the next bay west,
Oponohu Bay. We anchored just inside the pass in the lagoon. The mountain visible from our anchorage is a view we've seen before from photographs. We read that this island was the inspiration for the fictional island of Bali Hai. We enjoyed hiking through a marae (old village site) and up to a lookout with Janet from Blue Stocking and the Gato Go crew. The trip back to the boat was made more strenuous by the fact that our pre-purchased bread had to be picked up by 12 noon when the store closed
for lunch. We ran the last 15 minutes and just made it to get our bread. So, sore but well fed we swam a little in the afternoon and enjoyed the sun. The next morning we were up bright and early for another hike with the whole Blue Stocking crew. Though this "hike" is a dotted line on the map in the Lonely Planet book it was actually a scramble to a knife edge ridge "trail." We asked the security guard at the Sheraton Hotel where to start the hike. He cheerfully pointed us to a driveway. We
asked the homeowner permission to walk through their back yard and hike. She held her unhappy dog as we started climbing the path. It felt a bit like climbing her rockery and as I hoisted myself over a large boulder I asked her over my shoulder if the whole trail was this way. She smiled and said it was. I thought the smile meant she was kidding, but she wasn't. The lower ridge wasn't too bad. There was a little bit of bush wacking but someone had been through with a knife and cut some back.
Of course, Peter had his machete so any large branches across the trail were easily dispatched. As we got higher there was actually an eye cemented in the rock for a safety line. As we had no line we were on our own. At the top of this climb began the trail on the ridge. The drop off on either side was a few hundred feet. The sun was shining and the views were incredible. Janet Paul and I stopped at about 1200 feet. Peter and the two boys continued on to what appeared to be the summit. They
turned around at 1800 feet when they could finally see the real summit 1200 feet higher. Luckily we had started early but as the day heated up so did the rocks. We regrouped at a shady spot overlooking the anchorage. The boys realized a GPS was back up the trail and Peter and Jeremy went in search of the GPS. After a fruitless hour of searching on the hot slope we were on our way back down. The wind was coming up and it was once again time to run back to the boat to get the awning down and out
of the wind.
The next day was spent recovering from our hikes. We were both very stiff and sore and would have really enjoyed a good soak in a hot tub. More boat straightening and some bottom cleaning were of course in order.
Tuesday was time to get the bikes out and see more of the island. We rode toward the east side of the island and were forced by a rain shower to take shelter in a fantastic patisserie. After a little snack we were back on our way to the boat, picked up a few groceries and got 19 of the 20 eggs back in one piece.
Bold Spirit, our friends from Zihuatenejo anchored near us and we caught up with them over a fantastic dinner made by Kathi. We mailed our customs departure form back to Papeete and had a quick hamburger and fishburger lunch at the nearby hotel yesterday. We haven't had many restaurant meals here because it is really as expensive as reported. (2 burgers, 3 draft pilsner beers $45!!)
The last couple of days have been cooler, windy and cloudy. We woke this morning to temps in the mid 70's (brrr), had to put a blanket on the bed last night. The wind has really picked up and the seas are reported to be 4.5 meters. There is a near gale (50-60 knots) just south of us and there are special weather bulletins out for the storm. So, the boat is ready to go to Bora Bora. Everything is stowed and we're hanging out today waiting for better weather. We decided if we need bread we'll
swim ashore with a dry bag to go to the store.
The passage to Bora Bora is approx 140 miles so it should take about 24 hours. Best to go with a little wind but we don't want to be out in the middle of a storm.
We ordered a couple of books to be sent to American Samoa. All of a sudden Amazon is so efficient it's hard to believe. I couldn't get books last summer to save my life in Seattle with a 2 week lead time. Our books were shipped and have already arrived in American Samoa (4 days!!) so we have to get there by 7/26 before the post office starts returning things. We're looking forward to Samoa, Tonga and Fiji and the passages (and less expensive restaurants) in between.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tahiti (Peter)

Our first impression of Papeete is of the unrelenting car (and bus and truck) traffic. It is a lively interesting city, but it would be the best city in the world to convert to electric cars. Our eyes watered in the dust and smog, and we winced at the noise. Marcy’s decks and rigging grew dirtier every day.

Papeete street

Thankfully we didn’t drive anywhere, we used the public transportation called "le truck." We love the concept of a bus without schedules. One just waits for the next le truck. It won’t take long!

inside le truck

Papeete was a wonderful place to reprovision, but the big city took some getting used to. After all we hadn't seen a supermarket for over three months. On our first shopping try, we had to make a hasty retreat to the boat to escape the musak and air conditioning. Soon we got used to the bustle and convenience of the city. All types of food and yacht gear are available. We finally obtained propane, and repaired our muffler. One of the good shopping spots is the downtown market, complete with live entertainment.

Papeete market

Tahitian trio

Peter was even able to find a coupe-coupe or French Polynesian machete. It’s smaller than the Mexican type, but with a thicker heavier blade, and is perfect for opening coconuts and cutting fruit. It has a nice balance to it – good for chopping.


Visible in the above image is the tattoo on Peter’s ankle. Facing forward is a Tiki (who is himself tattooed) for vision and power when danger is encountered. On the aft side is a Marquesan cross to protect the rear. Very useful for any sailor. On the subject of tattoos and by popular demand; Ginger’s turtle is a symbol of wisdom, and incorporates a fishhook, a symbol of creation.

Ginger & tortue

Our anchorage was a crossroads with yachts of all countries anchored nearby.

anchorage taina, tahiti

Racing canoes and even a sailing canoe passed through the anchorage every day.

racing canoes tahiti

sailing pirogue

The nearby marina had a sprinkling of megayachts.

megayachts taina

We had spectacular views of the neighboring island, Moorea, and heard the boom of the surf all night long.

Moorea sunset from Tahiti


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fakarava Atoll (Peter)

It was at Fakarava that we really realized that life on a sailboat anchored in an atoll can be a guy’s paradise. We get to use spearguns and machetes, hunt for food, and say manly things like “did you see that huge shark try to take my fish?” The snorkeling was amazing: clear water, a great variety of fish, and many, many sharks.

Ginger drift snorkel

5 knot drift, Peter

cruising the reef, Tetmanu
Tetmanu fish 1

Moorish Idol, Tetmanu

Blue school Tetmanu


Eagle ray, Fakarava

Tetmanu fish 9

We explored the little, half abandoned village of Tetmanu. It was the French colonial capital of the Tuamotus in the nineteenth century, and we could see many ruins and neatly laid out streets that are overgrown with tropical foliage now. The beautiful little church, dated 1874, is still immaculately maintained.

Tetmanu church

Church door - Tetmanu

Ginger on ancient road, Tetmanu

old quay, Tetmanu

Fish park guest, Tetmanu

House ruin, Tetmanu

The present day residents are either French (running a pension, a dive center) or Tuamotan (fishing and gardening.) The Tuamotans don’t seem to like the French a lot right now and talk about independence. One man griped that he had to jump through hoops to plant a coconut, whereas the local French could do anything they wanted. He was friendly with Americans, though, and taught us which fish to spear for dinner.

Parrot fish, Fakarava

lunch, Tetmanu

The pension, with it’s little huts built out over the water, reminded us that there is more to life than the “guy’s paradise” could offer so we headed up the lagoon to a town, shopping, and a restaurant.

Tetmanu pension

Fakarava, sunset over lagoon

Our new anchorage was in front of the islands’ quai where the inter-island freighters bring building materials and goods for the store. When the ship moored, a day or two later, we inquired aboard to try to buy some diesel fuel. No problem! We were invited to the bridge to chat with the captain while the engineer (the captain’s brother) filled our container. The young hard working captain was also the owner of the ship and another smaller one. He described picking up the ship in New Orleans and bringing it back through the Panama Canal to Tahiti. His memory of the States is dominated by an incident – he and his crew were robbed at gunpoint as they walked to get dinner at a restaurant. They were glad to return to the Pacific!

quay, Fakarava

The small town of Rotoava is as neat as a pin, and with a bakery, store, and restaurant it had the niceties that we were looking for.

main drag, Rotoava, Fakarava

table decorations, snack, Fakarava

snack, Fakarava

Peter and friend, Fakarava

school bus, Fakarava

Rotoava is also a center for Tahitian pearl culture. We visited a couple of operations and learned something about the process.

Large pearl farm, Fakarava

pearl work, Fakarava

pearl surgery, Fakarava

pearl farm lunch bldg, Fakarava

We found a very nice little necklace for Ginger, proving that the Tuamotus can be nice for girls, too.

Ginger at Fakarava

The roads on Fakarava are beautiful flat, well maintained, and almost devoid of traffic. We unfolded the bicycles and rode as far as we could in both directions.

the quay, Fakarava

airport dock, Fakarava

End of the road, Fakarava

riding south, Fakarava

It felt good to stretch muscles that get no use on board. When we bought the bikes, before we left Seattle, we weren’t sure that we would find places to use them. They have proved to be worth the precious storage room they take up. We recommend them to other cruisers.

Another gorgeous anchorage, Fakarava

Still unable to refill our cooking fuel, propane, at Rotoava, we realized that we needed to head to the big city of Papeete. Sadly, especially for the boy on board, we plotted the course to Tahiti and hoisted anchor.

Tiare flower, Rotoava


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Makemo Atoll (Peter)

After departing the Marquesas, we faced a short passage of only 2 or 3 days to our first island in the Tuamotus. We use a simple 4 hours on and 4 hours off for our watch schedule. This gives us plenty of sleep, but we’ve found that on the shorter passages it can be difficult to get into the rhythm. The trick is to really sleep during off watch, even if it is daytime and you aren’t yet very tired. Ginger uses her eye mask to block out the light.

On passage to Tuamotus

Before long, we found ourselves at the pass to the lagoon of Makemo atoll, ready to enter even though it was later in the day than ideal for spotting shallow patches and coral heads.

Makemo entrance

The pass was not a problem, at least the time of day was right for favorable current. We anchored in the last minutes of daylight and set the alarm for exploring early the next morning.

Makemo sunset

The next morning revealed a sun drenched world of blue lagoon, blue sky, clear water, and white sand. We went ashore and explored the village on streets of crushed coral.

Hoa 2, Makemo

downtown, Makemo

NE pass and fish park Makemo

Makemo church

Makemo art

Old house, Makemo

Quay, Makemo

On the street, Makemo

After exploring, we headed back to Marcy. Ginger set up a banana hammock, as we had been taught, to dry our extra bananas.

Marcy's banana hammock

The water was enticing, so clear and with such brilliant colors. We jumped in.

eels and shrimp at dock, Makemo

What you talkin bout fish, Makemo

Yellow fish, Makemo

Occasionally a distinctive ominous shape would cruise by – reminding us that we weren’t in an aquarium.

Shark, Makemo

Time passed, we swam, explored, ate and slept. The bananas cured. We felt it was time to move away from town, so we sailed inside the lagoon to a deserted spot.

Drying bananas

Ginger prepared a wonderful lunch to celebrate.

Anchor down, mid way, Makemo

We snorkeled and hunted fish with the speargun, explored the beach and found an old cemetery.

old cemetery, Makemo

Grouper, Makemo

Makemo hermit crab

We stayed here until we realized that our cooking gas was about to run out. It was time to move on. After another sail down the lagoon to the other entrance, we dropped the hook intending to stay the night. Unfortunately, Marcy was soon inundated with pesky flies, so we quickly went to plan B and just headed out the pass to the next atoll on our list, Fakarava.

Frangipani, Makemo