Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marooned in Moorea

June 30, 2010moorea5
I am not sure if “marooned” is quite the right word, but I do love the alliteration of it all.  In any case, the weather has us “stuck” here.  It’s really not a bad place to be stuck or marooned or whatever.   We were planning on heading back to Tahiti for Brad’s birthday, but since no one seems to moving – no boats are heading on to the western Society Islands and the other boats that were heading back to Tahiti the same as us, we are deciding to just stay put and celebrate Brad’s birthday here.
Here is dramatically beautiful.  We are in Opunohu Bay on the leeward (sheltered from the wind) side of Moorea behind a protective barrier reef.  The wind has been up and down for the last two days, but the most telling tale were the three boats that tried to leave this morning and turned right around outside the barrier and came back in to re-anchor. Belvedere1
We have been very busy hiking, biking, snorkeling, hanging out with sting rays and some of our cruiser friends.  The water here is nice and clean, so Brad has gotten the boat’s bottom washed and scraped off most of the growth.  The kids have been spending their last few days with both crews from Totem and Stray Kitty who will both continue west as well as meeting some new friends who will be heading back towards to Tahiti along with us from a boat called Victoria.
Time seems to have really speeded up for us.  It is hard to believe that we will be headed for Hawaii in two short weeks.  Luckily, we are pretty ready and we are very excited for our crew to arrive shortly before we are aiming to leave in mid-July.

Note from the blogster:  We are posting pictures to older blog entries and have most of June’s done and posted, so go back and check ‘em out! -PJ

Friday, June 25, 2010

Moving on to Moorea

17* 31.4’ South, 149* 32.1’ West

Tahiti Yacht Club, Arue, Tahiti, French Polynesia

June 25, 2010

Tahiti Yacht Club

IMG_2667 IMG_2668 Outrigger Canoe Club next to our mooring


We are doing a very quick (one day really) turn around of gas, food and repairs so that we can spend a few more days in Moorea with Totem.   I have not been to an American style super market since Mexico and was a little overwhelmed when we went to the one nearby to the Yacht Club where we are staying on a mooring ball.  With the provisioning and all, we have not had any time at all to do any exploring.  We will return here on June 29th and probably be in the same spot until we leave on July 15th where we will try to take care of celebrating birthdays and getting ready for our trip to Hawaii.  We also hope to get in a little exploring then!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Land Ho . . . . . . again!

17* 07.3' South
149* 17.5' West

June 23, 2010

Tahiti – 30 miles out!IMG_2658

This time it was Bryce who called, "LAND HO!" for Tahiti. We were a little more than 50 miles away. Tahiti is a much bigger landmass  than anything we have been aiming at for the last few months. Brad and I were very tired after having dealt with fuel issues. We decided to try to go fast and get to Tahiti from Rangiroa in one overnight rather than two. Brad is hoping that the problem is related to some sludge at the bottom of our fuel tanks.
We plan to do a little bit of exploring, but our big goals here are to get re-provisioned and take care of few pieces of business before we leave for Hawaii around the 15 July. I am still hoping for faster internet so that I can work on uploading some pictures!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

Rangiroa, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
June 21, 2010

If there is a "winter" here, it came roaring in last night with the wind howling at 25 to 35 knots for several hours. Before that, at dinnertime last night, we had torrential rains! It is the first sustained rains we have had since Manzanillo in February and this time Brad worked on getting rain water into our water tanks.
We are at anchor in a pretty protected corner near the east pass. We also knew this weather was on its way, so we were not very surprised when the weather whipped up.
It was still pretty windy this morning, but things are definitely calming down. The sun is out, so it is still pretty warm. As soon as the intense part of this system pass by us, we will pull anchor and head for Tahiti, probably tomorrow.

I didn’t take any pictures during the nasty weather, but here are some of the anchorage:

IMG_2655  IMG_2654 IMG_2629

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Last of the Tuamotus

14* 58.0' South
147* 38.2' West
Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
June 18, 2010

The overnight passage between Toau Atoll and Rangiroa Atoll was very pleasant. We left Tuesday about 1:00 pm on a nice, but dying breeze. Brad's navigational timing was again spot on as we sailed to within 6 miles of Rangiroa's Pass before we the wind got light and we turned on the engine and motored through the pass about 10:00 am. We did not wait for slack water as this pass is very deep and we had a pretty exciting moment or two (for she who was hand steering anyway) as we had about 4 knots of current against us.

Rangiroa’s eastern pass:  Passe de Tiputa

The anchorage and the main town in this part of Rangiroa are on separate ends of the main motu about 5 miles apart. We were very low on dinghy fuel and one of the pearl farmers nearer to the anchorage than the town sold us 5 gallons of gas. We then proceeded to make a foray to "the village" where we were finally able to hit an ATM (though we still had a few French Polynesian Francs held in reserve) and get some more fresh fruits and vegetables. We are not sure if anything is grown here other than coconuts and grapes (there is a winery!) because most of the fresh stuff seems to come from the Marquesas. This community is definitely not as egalitarian as most that we have seen in since we made landfall in the Marquesas. There are definitely differing levels of income and social stratification here. I am sure that we will see even more of this in Papeete.
Yesterday, we crossed the pass to another village (much closer to the anchorage). We were able to use the internet at the post office and found a little store where the women was making Polynesian style quilts and had soft ice cream! Back on this side of the pass is a hamburger stand/restaurant that is right at the main quai and a bit out over the water so that you can watch the fish and stingrays swim around a shallow reef right from your table. The kids loved it.

IMG_2636 IMG_2646 IMG_2640 IMG_2641 IMG_2642 IMG_2643
We have brought the bikes to shore and done some riding up and down the main atoll. There are definitely more tourist attraction-type opportunities here: scooter/bike rentals, pearl farms, artists, and of course, dive centers. Brad and I did not quite make it to the main village on this morning's ride, but maybe that will be tomorrow's activity.

 Rang2 001 Rang2 003 Rang2 006 Rang2 011 Rang2 017 Rang2 032 Rang2 047 Rang3 027  Rang2 051 Rang3 018 Rang3 057Rang3 040 Rang3 029 Rang3 052

Snorkeling the reef just inside the Passe is fantastic.  Since there are more people here, the fish are not at all afraid of them and often seek out the human snorkeler in hopes of handouts!  Sometimes, they get in the way of the camera!

Rang3 007

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time to plan

15* 57.7' South
145* 52.7' West
Toau, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
June 13, 2010

Toau 007     

Yesterday, we caught the mid morning tide out the north pass of Fakarava and very slowly motor sailed the 11 or 12 miles to the Toau pass. There was just a little wind, but we really didn't need to go very fast. So, we enjoyed lunch and some down time.
I got to drive CAPAZ through the pass which was exciting even though this is a very wide (relatively) pass with no real obstructions. I still got a surge of adrenaline when the depth went to 27 feet and there was a pretty good current pushing us to one side. Toau 004

We continued on down the inside of the lagoon to where our friends on Io were anchored. They gave us a little information about what they had found out about the area in the day since they had arrived.
After some time ashore, we ate a quick dinner because Mike, who is a biologist, offered to lead a reef hike after dark when many of the creatures are more active. They were also going to do some hunting for spiny lobsters. I stayed on the boat and got in some reading. Brad and Austin returned after about an hour and a half. Bryce, however, hunted lobsters and parrot fish until everyone was ready to head back to the boats around 10:30. He was so invigorated about his experience when he returned that I am pretty sure you will be able to read all about in the next issue of the Capaz Chronicle. IMG_2625

Lobster Life Support Set-up

This morning, we had a quick planning session before we took the dinghy and kayak down the motu a ways for more exploration. The outer reef was much closer to the ocean side of the motu than it is here where we are anchored. Brad and I had quick snorkel in fairly swallow waters with some amazing coral formations, though not as many fish as we have been seeing in some of the other places we have been.

Toau 023Toau 029Toau 027

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Civilization . . . . . Almost

Rotoava, Fakarava, Tuamotu, French Polynesia
16* 03.5' South
145* 37.2' West
June 10, 2010


 IMG_2560 IMG_2561 IMG_2562 

Yesterday we dodged coral heads on our way to Rotoava the largest settlement on the atoll of Fakarava. Actually, if there were any coral heads, we couldn't see them because the light was bad for most of the two hour trip. The charts have a marked channel here, so we were reasonably confident that no big ones would sneak up on us. What we did have to watch out for as we approach the north end of the lagoon were the buoys marking the strings of pearl oysters.
Today, we took a tour of a pearl farm where we not only learned how natural pearls come about, but also how the Japanese devised a way to fool nature and use the oyster to manufacture pearls. It is a very interesting process. Then, of course, after our free tour, we were escorted to the boutique where the farm's pearls were available for purchase at a rate much less than retail in Tahiti! Actually, the man who owned the farm was incredibly nice and patient with all our questions. The Hinano Farm operation that we visited is 6 or 7 km out of town, so he brought us down in his van and we got to see a little more of the atoll.

IMG_2524    IMG_2521IMG_2519
We have also taken the bikes ashore and have been doing a little exploring that way also. The boys and I made it up to a structure that turned out to be an abandoned lighthouse. From the drawing of town, we had originally thought that it might have been more of an archeological site – it was old and pyramid-like, but not that old and made out of cement. It was still a great ride for the boys with a few minutes on the ocean side beach before we had to turn around and head back to town.

  IMG_2499 IMG_2500IMG_2507
The reason that I called this post "Civilization . . . Almost" is the town seems to have everything a small town would need except a bank or ATM. It is a little bit of a mystery how the cash circulates in these small settlements as the locals seem to pay for purchases at the local magasin mostly on account, but we have also seem them using cash. Where do they get it? Is there someone named Pierre or Fredrique who has a vault in his maison where he is able to keep a large supply of cash that the locals can use to change their government checks. Luckily, if you ask really nicely (and make a fairly large purchase), the clerk at the magasin will "try" to run your carde credit.

IMG_2558 IMG_2552 IMG_2554

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