Friday, April 23, 2010

You Make the Choice

April 23, 2010
3:00 am
Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia

So, I need to take a poll of my blog readers, so please respond (via the comments section-you should be able to sign in as "anonymous" and then you can sign your comment . . . . . . or not) sincerely to how you would approach my situation:
We have just arrived in a new port, new country, with new money (which we had none of), new food, new customs, new time zone and a new language (that I haven't spoken in twenty years). The boat has to be converted from passage making form to more of a live aboard form (one thing is we like to have a table in our main salon for typing blog entries).
I have been diligent about making sure that family and friends know about your progress (position) and welfare (we are all still fine) for three weeks fairly consistently. It was very hard for me to write most days as typing would often bring on the queasiness that I battled most of the passage, due to the inconsistency of the wave direction (give me the roll of an anchorage and others turn green - I am just fine).
This is what the last two days have looked like for us:
We arrived Tuesday in the outer harbor around noon and decided to try to find a spot in the inner harbor. There were about 20 already in the inner harbor and we are very used to the big open space of the ocean, but still we tried to fit into a tight spot for about an 90 minutes. To no avail, it was just too tight, so we pulled up the anchors and headed to the outer harbor. We tried to tuck in beneath the point as close to the bulkhead outside the breakwater as possible where we would spend a rolley night out there, but as I said consistent motion is better for me than what we had on the ocean. We were so hungry, that at about 2:00 we had a big chiliquilles "breakfast". It was too late in the day to check into the country with the local gendarme, but we did go back to the inner harbor and visit our friend, Eric on Secret Agent Man who we had not seen since November. He gave us the lay of the land a little and loaned us a few francs to go and buy some baguettes at the gas station (yep, the mini mart has fresh baguettes daily, tomatoes, huge cucumbers and onions besides the regular mini mart faire). Then, it was back out to the boat to get some dinner going - we had frozen some left over bbq pork and enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches on those fresh baguette. Brian and Erin and Brian's brother, Brady on Delos pulled into the outer harbor and we welcomed them with extra baguette that we had bought. Finally, we went onto local time which is 3 1/2 hours off of boat time. We had been trying to eat with the sun as we crossed, but Brad insisted on keeping the actual boat on PV (which I believe is either Mountain or Central time). The kids did the best job of making the switch as the adults on the boats were all in their bunks by 8:00 local time. The shell shock of $50 for a few hours of internet service kept us from even trying to sign on (let me tell you, you prioritize your internet tasks at that price - no typing or reading online.) I slept well and so there was no blog post to help deal with bad night's sleep. So, maybe it will be some consolation that the absence of blog posts means that I am sleeping well!
Technically, we were under quarantine flying our yellow flag that means we have not yet checked into the country. We found out that everyone is not required to be present at check in, so Tim, Austin and I made two trips ashore with the bikes and rode into town which is about an hour walk or 20 minute bike ride UP and around the point and into the next bay over. The gendarme was very nice and I have didn't even have to attempt to speak French as he wanted to speak English. Next, was money. Went to the bank and tried to figure out how many French Polynesian francs to pull out of the cash machine. Turns out that 30,000($255 USD or so) will buy you a few things, but not that many (I am a very numbers oriented person. It hard for me to make purchases without at least roughly converting to American dollars. I got pretty good at this in Mexico with the peso, but we are talking a whole other decimal place here!!!!!) Next, we needed to check out the food stores and mail our paperwork at the post office. We went to all the little "magasins", no more tiendas, but right along the same lines. I will truly miss all the cheap fresh produce to which we had access in Mexico. We found the stores with fresh baguettes donuts (we had Austin with us) and pain au chocolat and everyone has spring rolls which make for an excellent breakfast, I must say! By the way, while we were adventuring in town, taking care of business, Brad was back on the boat fixing the genset which had decided not to come on for our morning charge. No genset, no fridge/freezer. Turned out to be a loose connection. Also, with all our anchoring shenanigans of the previous day, the windlass (anchor pulling up and down helper) was not working in the down direction. That is not nearly as bad as not working in the up direction, but Brad still wanted to see what it's major mal-adjustment was. Back in town, when we arrived at the post office, we were able to get started taking care of our business with the help of another cruiser on how the internet works, and a wonderful Marquesan woman who made sure that I knew when it was my turn to go sit with the postmaster to buy my stamps and internet card. Didn't realize it then, but the post office is only open three per week - no wonder people were so patient. Tim and Austin decided to head back to the anchorage and so without the nine year old asking every two minutes if we were done yet (hey, he had gotten his donuts!), I figured I could take some time (a little over an hour - ahhhhh!) to download email to read and answer back on the boat and check our bank website to make sure that bills were being paid. The connection was so slow that my bank session kept timing out. It took a little over an hour to download about 100 emails - yikes! The other downside is that I have to at the post office to use the connection - but it is supposed to work at any post office in the islands. I needed to get back to the boat to make everyone lunch. We decided to lock the bikes up near the dinghy dock for ease of use. The Delosians came over to visit and we had some lunch during which time the VHF squawked that our good friends on Mulan (family from Canada) were getting very close to arrival. With the departure of a couple boats from the inner harbor, we decided to try our luck again and got a nice little spot (though it was still very tricky anchoring conditions) next to a boat that would be leaving in the morning. That was after we had to leave and bouy our stern anchor because it was holding fabulously - I guess my good night's sleep was warranted. Stern anchor retrieved and a call came over the radio with Eric organizing a pick up soccer about which all the boys got excited. I was more excited about taking out my braids and getting a good shower. We had already decided to eat in town and so we figured we would walk in after the soccer game broke up. I am not even going to write about that here because it was an adventure all unto its own worthy of a separate blog post. Suffice to say that we hit the hay upon arriving back at the boat with the exception of our hail to Totem being answered by them from the outer harbor.
Bright and early our neighbors left and Totem scooted in and is anchored right next to us. We were not as sure about the holding of anchor as we liked to be, so we stuck close to the boat. There is an outdoor sink next to shower that is great for doing laundry, so I spent the morning getting close to caught up on washing. I think Tim now believes that my self-imposed title of domestic engineer is deserved as he managed the drying end of the laundry. We also worked on getting the boat squared away live aboard style. Brad and I were all set for a bike ride into town to pick up a few more food stuffs before we headed south to Fatu Hiva and the famous Bay of Virgins in the morning. We have since decided to skip it as the weather has been less than conducive to getting there and we would been very rushed in our exploring. Anyway, we were just about ready to go and our anchor started to drag (it was not set well the night before), so we spent 45 minutes re-anchoring and then headed off on the bikes while the boys from Totem, Mulan and Capaz went with Andrew to explore the beach here in the anchorage. When we returned from our more of the same errands, the boys had cooked up a sleep-over and we needed to finish the laundry, put away groceries and get dinner out of the way. After dinner, I finally had a chance to sit down and read the emails that I had downloaded yesterday and the new ones Brad picked up today sitting on the curb outside the closed post office. Have I mentioned that the anchorage is in a bay surrounded by fairly tall mountains and so our radio doesn't work well enough to send emails??
The sun is coming up now, so I am going to head back to bed.

Normally, I would not write about every little thing that we do, but I guess it was appropriate since there were more than a few comments about us not making an entry for a couple of days and I hope that you can understand why. Would you have tried to squeeze a blog post into the last 60 hours?

It's great to have fans, but boy can they be demanding!

Airmail info:

sys: WinXP/605/1014MB/35.26
modem: PTC-IIe/COM4/57600/USB/?/3.9
modem: PTC-IIe/COM4/57600/USB/?/3.9

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:


Anonymous said...

PJ - Ignore those cranky comments, you have earned lots of stars in my book for even making the crossing to the land of hot and humid! Extra stars for keeping your job as "engineer", mom, and wife!
Post what you can, when you can and keep up that energy! I had a lovely trip to Spain - just got back. Lynne xoxo

PS. HI to Brad and the Baker Boys!

Seven C's said...

Let the "Cranky ones" (tongue in cheek - they all love you guys :) )
sit in your place. They won't be cranky about the lack of posts for long - especially at $50 per hour for an internet connection!
Sounds like quite the expensive place - but a fantastic place none the less!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the big passage! It all sounds so cool!

Chris King

Anonymous said...

PJ, Really glad to hear from you guys. I just figured you were busy or had some difficulty (like Totem) that was keeping you from posting. At $50 an hour I'd be careful of my time on line too. Mary

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the big update. I am so glad you made it to the Marquesas and are settling into the new culture. I can't wait to see it for myself. Cheers - Kelly

Angela said...

Hey guys! Love hearing the updates and so glad to hear all is great! Miss you guys here, but sure jealous and excited for all of you! Take care,


Anonymous said...

Want to trade an old Honda civic for Capaz?as is where is...I should update you, it's raining and very gray in Bellevue. I know fruit at the market is a cash deal, but why aren't you using plastic everywhere? Then you don't have to convert the value. Bob Bray.