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French Polynesia

Table of Contents

Hanavave Bay

Society Islands

Bora Bora

22 August 2006

fish at Bora Bora Bora Bora Lagoon Today is our last day in Bora Bora and indeed in French Polynesia. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here and have met some lovely people from other boats. We took a run into the town yesterday which was surprisingly dull. During the afternoon we took the tender out to the reef and went for a swim. Some of the coral seems to be making a comeback but a lot is dead. There were as ever a multitude of small brilliantly coloured fish. We joined Brett and Debbie from Interlude III  for drinks last night. We plan to leave tomorrow headed towards Samoa.

20 August 2006

sailing on Ironbark Yesterday we moved back to the northern end of Motu Toopua. We anchored beside Ironbark , which is a Wylo 35. Kev rowed over to introduce himself and we ended up having a very enjoyable dinner and plenty of rum with Annie and Trevor who own her. Between them they have sailed many thousands of miles and were fascinating to chat to. Annie has written several cruising books (one of which inspired us to to visit the Falkland Islands) and Trevor had spent a winter in Antarctica onboard Ironbark after he finished building her in Queensland! They strongly recommended Newfoundland and Labrador as a brilliant cruising ground. They invited us to go for a sail with them so we did that yesterday. It was different using a tiller to steer and we had a lot of wind inside the lagoon. We had a wonderful day and Trevor and Annie joined us onboard for dinner last night. They are leaving today and we hope to see them again in Suwarrow or Samoa.

18 August 2006

Hiros Bell Manta ray We arrived in Bora Bora yesterday having completed our work on Sapphire in Raiatea. Once we left the pass at Tahaa we were reminded once again how sheltered the lagoons of these islands are. Our run across was uneventful and we anchored for the night behind the north of Motu Toopua. Today we moved down to anchor at Hiro's Bell which is at the south of the motu. Hiro was the Polynesian God of Thieves. The anchorage was magnificent in unbelievably clear water over sand. We went for a snorkel and saw three different types of rays including a huge manta ray.


30 July 2006

coral reef fish We spent the night last night on a mooring at Baie Apu, opposite Marina Iti. This bay is deep, too deep to anchor in most parts. There is a small reef fringing the mouth of the bay. We went for a snorkel to take a look. Swimming out from the boat we could see nothing but blue emptiness but suddenly a huge wall of earth appeared in front of us with the reef growing on top. The depth must have decreased from 40 metres to less than one in no time at all. The coral was not looking particularly healthy but not all of it was dead. There were as ever lots of small colourful fish, the occasional ray and several molluscs. We had another chat about our route from French Polynesia and have (almost) decided to head for the Northern Cook Island of Suwarrow before continuing to Samoa. Our original plan had been to head for Tonga. During the afternoon we returned to CNI Marina at Raiatea, where we are scheduled to be hauled out tomorrow.

29 July 2006

turtle hibiscus hotel Yesterday we took the boat around to the east side of the island where we picked up a mooring buoy in the deep water in front of the Hibiscus Hotel in Haamane Bay. We were pleasantly surprised to see our friends from the Dutch yacht Zwerver  already moored there. (We first came across Ellen and Harry whilst we were in Argentina and have come across them many times since). We spend a couple of hours helping them to put their precious stock of Chilean wine to good use. (The affordable wine available here is not fit for drinking). We went ashore to visit the Hibiscus Foundation which is based at the hotel. The not for profit foundation was set up in 1992 by the hotel owners Leo, Lolita and their children and is dedicated to saving sea turtles. Sea turtles in French Polynesia are, as they are in many parts of the world, a protected species. In spite of this, their numbers are dropping as they are still hunted for eating in many areas. In these waters many turtles each year (Green Turtles and Fine Shelled or Overlapped Turtles) become caught in the fishing traps laid near the reef passes which is where the fishing is rich. Without intervention, many of the trapped turtles would be eaten or sold for eating. The Hibiscis Foundation buys the trapped turtles from the fishermen, they feed and shelter them until they are well enough to be released again. Mostly they try to release the turtles near the remote Scilly Atoll which is a protected sanctuary for wildlife. The turtles cannot reproduce until they are 20-25 years of age when they measure 1.2 - 1.5 metres across and weigh up to 150 kg. Most of the trapped turtles are 3-7 years old. As at December last year, the Hibiscus Foundation had bought and released again 1146 turtles. Before releasing the turtles, the foundation tags them and sends all relevant data to conservation centres in Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa. Sometimes the fate of their turtles is communicated to Leo and Lolita and sadly several of the turtles released from here have been reported killed in other parts of the Pacific. We were fortunate enough to see about half a dozen sea turtles currently awaiting their release by the foundation. We ate a delicious seafood dinner at the hotel which seems to be very popular with yachts. Not only was the food superb and the hospitality of Leo gracious, the hotel is adorned with flags of many nationalities along with yacht club burgees donated by visiting yachts. This was a truly memorable stop.

27 July 2006

north tahaa diving kev view bora bora tahaa house On 25th we crossed inside the lagoon from Raiatea to Tahaa. En route we saw another Oyster and realised this was Carpe Diem. We had last seen them in the Galapagos. After a brief mid channel chat we continued north. Luck was not with us. Anchoring in large areas of Tahaa is difficult due to either very deep water or lots of coral and shoals. Our first intended stop was in a deep bay on a mooring buoy. Upon arrival we were told that the buoys were all reserved. The depth was over 40 metres so anchoring was not an option. We continued to our second option - opposite a motu on another buoy. Here the water shoaled from 40 metres to less than one metre in no time at all. The buoy was too flimsy for us to risk using. We tried to anchor in a sand patch but with the combination of a steep gradient and surrounding coral our anchor could not set. We were unhappy as it would soon be dusk and navigation in the dark, surrounded by coral and shoals, did not appeal. We eventually set the anchor in a nondescript bay on the north of the island. The following morning we decided to head to the west side of the island. Tahaa is surrounded by a fringing reef and motus. One can circumnavigate Tahaa without leaving the shelter of the lagoon. We anchored in a small bay in good firm sand with a view over Bora Bora. We took the tender across to the fringing motus and went snorkelling. Unfortunately the visibility was not that great and the coral seemed dead. I read in The Lonely Planet  that the 2001 El Nino effect had irreparably damaged the coral in these lagoons. We did see lots of vibrantly coloured fish though and a couple of manta rays. We went over again today in search of manta rays but did not find any.


13 August 2006

Sapphire being hauled out at CNI, Raiatea Sapphire on the hard at CNI, Raiatea We have spent the last fortnight at CNI Marina, working on Sapphire. For the first week we were hauled out to be polished and re-antifouled. The technique used was unusual, in that we were dragged up a slipway at a slightly alarming angle by a protesting tractor. We also replaced all of the anodes and serviced the propeller. Since we were re-launched, we have tackled a number of boat jobs, such as polishing and waxing the deck, servicing the engine and windlass, straightening and re-marking the anchor chain and cleaning all the upholstery. We plan to leave here in a couple of days and head around to Uturoa, where we hope to be able to fill up with diesel. Then we will sail across to Bora Bora (only twenty miles) and spend a few days enjoying the magnificent anchorages. This will also give us a chance to test our batteries. Unfortunately, our house bank is on its last legs and we are trying to decide whether to replace them here or manage until we reach Australia. The problem is that we cannot obtain our preferred batteries here and the ones which are available are extremely expensive. If our trial run at Bora Bora does not go well, we will have to return here and order new ones. Otherwise, we will finally take our leave of French Polynesia and head west.

24 July 2006

We visited the marina office first thing today to confirm a time for hauling Sapphire. We were informed that our package of spare parts was stuck in Customs in Papeete. (This despite Fedex claiming to have delivered it to the marina office on their website). This was a problem as the package contained parts we needed before being hauled. We decided to reverse the order of our plans a bit and set off for a few days in Tahaawhile we waited for the package to arrive.

23 July 2006

raiatea raiatea pass raiatea pass The crossing from Huahine to Raiatea was uneventful with the exception of the loss of my trusty Tilley hat. I was at the bow when it blew off (despite being strapped on...not very well). We promptly executed our hat overboard manoeuvre and found the hat. The brief 5 mins or so of thrashing into the trades to rescue old faithful reminded us both of how grateful we are to be heading west! We entered the lagoon at Raiatea and immediately the swell was absorbed by the reef. This is definitely my type of sailing. On our way around to the boat yard at the north of Raiatea we noticed what looked like a sailboard floating in the water some way from the island and then saw a person floating some way from it. He looked to be in trouble so we got the sails down and motored over. The man had been kite surfing and his kite had collapsed. It was all tangled and he looked very tired. We asked if he needed help and he asked us to pick him up and take him ashore. As we circled him waiting for him to wrap the kite up a much smaller tin boat saw us and came out to help. It was much easier for him to get a lift back with the smaller boat. We were pleased that he was ok.


23 July 2006

Huahine Huahine Huahine We left Cooks Bay, Moorea and made the overnight passage to Huahine on 21 July. The passage was fine and we arrived at the pass in the reef to Huahine shortly after daybreak. Once inside the pass the water was just magnificent with so many hues of turquoise shimmering over the reef and sandbars. We headed to Avea Bay at the south of the islands and soaked up the views of lush palm trees to port and the glittering shallow water to starboard. We could see the islands of Raiatea and Tahaa beyond the reef. We sailed on the incorrect side of a pair of buoys at one point and were alarmed to see the depth drop sharply. I went to the bow to direct Kev through the coral. The water was so clear that I could not tell whether we were in 2 or 10 metres of water: the coral looked a lot closer to our keel than it was. We anchored off the beach at Avea Bay and enjoyed the magnificent view. This morning we went for a snorkel after breakfast towards the reef. We were anchored in about 15 metres though only a little way from the boat and away from the beach the water shoaled over a huge sandbar that seemed to run all the way to the outer reef. We did not see much coral but did see several huge manta rays flying through the water and nosing around in the sand. Upon returning to the boat we reluctantly decided to leave Huahine for the next island of Raiatea. We are booked to have the boat hauled there and re-antifouled. The weather is forecast to kick up over the next couple of days so we thought it best to make the crossing while the weather is still favourable.


19 July 2006

sharks and rays ray tiki dancer We had a really excellent and memorable day today. We moved to the western side of the bay this morning. We anchored in the crystal water and then took the tender for about a mile further west. We could not take the boat as there was insufficient depth and a lot of coral. We found what we had come to see as we anchored the tender on a sandbar in about one metre's depth. As soon as we arrived dozens of huge rays came to see what we were about. They swam right up to the tender and as soon as we were in the water they swam right up to us. We could even touch them - and had to gently push them away at times. We snorkelled for a while and marvelled at the rays and the colourful fish. The clarity of the water was incredible. As we swam off the sandbar and the depth dropped we could see quite a few reef sharks swimming in the deeper water. We were so lucky in that we had the place almost to ourselves for quite a while before the tour boats arrived. When they did come, they were actually attracting the rays with food. Naturally the sharks wanted a piece of the action too so they were attracted to the shallower water. We certainly did not feed them, and think the whole idea is questionable. Still it was an amazing experience to swim surrounded by countless rays and sharks. (I had checked up beforehand to see that these sharks were not supposed to be a danger..) On the way back to the boat we found some tikis that had been dumped in the water, supposedly by missionaries a long time ago. They were in great conditions and it was really something to see these statues staring up at us from their home on the sea bed. During the afternoon we returned to Cook's Bay and were delighted to see the Esmeralda at anchor. The Esmeralda is the training ship of the Chilean Armada. For dinner we went ashore for a fabulous seafood meal at the Blue Pineapple which is the restaurant attached to the Bali Hai Club. Before dinner, we saw a group of Polynesian dancers perform. How the women move their hips like that I will never know. They were marvellous. Towards the end of the performance they asked members of the audience to participate. Despite my desperate effort to look engrossed in my camera, we were both called up. I have reached the conclusion that I am not a natural dancer. Kev believes that he would have been alright had he not been put off by the sound of his wife laughing at his moves!

18 July 2006

anchorage at Opunohu octopus Opunohu Bay After a rainy day at anchor in Cooks Bay yesterday we moved this morning to Opunohu Bay. Thankfully the weather is lovely again today. We anchored at the eastern mouth of the bay and the water is beautifully clear. We are in between the outer reef and a beach with lots of coconut palms. During the afternoon we went for a snorkel over to the inner reef. We have bought a waterproof case for our little camera so we had fun trying to photograph some of the fish. We saw hundreds of fish of every imaginable colour. We also saw a spotted ray and best of all, a big octopus which was hiding under a rock. We stayed still floating over the rock until he decided that we were not a threat and came out. This island is just so beautiful. This is exactly what I hoped we would see in the Pacific.

15 July 2006

Coconut Palm Cooks Bay Moorea Church Two Bays We went for a wonderful walk up to the belvedere today. The scenery reminded me very much of Queensland's Sunshine Coast, though it is much greener here. The road threaded through pineapple farms and was lined with mango and banana trees. The view from the belvedere over the two bays, Baia de Cook and Opunohu was magnificent. We stopped at the agricultural college for a fresh fruit juice and sorbet. We decided to take the long route back via Opumohu bay and around the headland back into Cook's Bay. In Opunohu bay we saw a lot of people in the water shepherding schools of fish into a long net. The water there was as clear as glass. We spent a very enjoyable evening having drinks on board Carebli . It seems likely that we will see Chris and Fiona in Brisbane.

14 July 2006

Mt Rotui Cooks Bay Bastille Day. We left Tahiti today bound for Moorea. The passage of around 20 miles was fast and a little squally. On the way over we passed Zwerver  who were heading back to Papeete from Moorea. They realised too late that the bank on Moorea would not accept their card so they had to go back for cash. Within no time we were anchoring in Cook's Bay (which is misnamed as Captain Cook did not anchor in this bay but the next bay of Opunohu). After delivering a parcel to Sandpiper  (the parcel had arrived too late in Tahiti for them to collect it) we were very pleased to anchor beside Lady in White . We had not seen them since the Marquesas. Richard had gone home for a while so Barrie was on board with his wife Marilyn, and Alex and Claire. We had drinks on board Lady in White during the evening. The bay is very scenic and similar though bigger than Fatu Hiva's Bay of Virgins. Already, we both love Moorea. During the afternoon Kev announced he was going for a swim. He had been gone for well over an hour and I could not see him anywhere in the bay. I spotted him eventually through the binoculars on board our neighbouring yacht, the beautiful Oyster 53 Carebli . Kev had been welcomed on board by Chris, Fiona and their guests. They are bound for Australia also.


11 July 2006

The rigger from API yachting visited us yesterday to inspect the rigging and repair as necessary. The new babystay was fitted. The facilities here are not really good enough to repair the forestay and he was worried that the headstay foil might sustain damage in the process of replacing the forestay which in any case he thought looked fine. The backstay also appeared to be fine. (The forestay and backstay are dyform which is stronger than the rest of the rigging.) Finally we can leave so we now only have to take on fuel, a little food (and of course beer), before we can clear out of Tahiti. The damage to our rig has been extremely costly in terms of time. We hope now to put this behind us, leave Tahiti and enjoy cruising some of the Pacific's most beautiful islands.

8 July 2006

Fautaua Valley Still stuck in Tahiti and the novelty has well and truly worn off. Selden have sent us a new backstay, forestay and babystay though oddly enough, no one from Selden told us this had been done. We had seen that our baby stay was badly damaged but had been very concerned about unseen damage to the forestay and backstay as these parts had borne loads for which they were not designed when the shrouds failed. The parts languished in Customs here for nearly two weeks before finally being released. Now we have to wait until the rigger (who seems to be the only rigger in Papeete) has time to inspect the boat and fit the parts. He is not at all keen on replacing our forestay (or backstay) so unless he finds damage to our existing parts, we will have to forget it until Australia. We just don't have the time to sit around here for much longer, not least because our visas will expire. We honestly don't think much of Tahiti. In fact, I think that if anyone wanted a lesson in how to really ruin a place, they could learn a lot from Tahiti. The island (in keeping with the rest of French Polynenia) is terribly expensive. There is no income tax so all goods and services are taxed to a phenomenally high level. The traffic in Papeete is worse than in London. The public transport is poor at the best of times and nonexistent after 5pm. We took the bus to visit the Musee de Tahiti yesterday, and for 40 mins in the museum, we spent a total of about 4 hours on or waiting for buses, to travel a total distance of around 12 kms. We decided to take a hike up the Fautaua Valley which is reputed to be beautiful. The hike was similar to the one at Daniel's Bay in the Marquesas though less muddy and without the no-nos. The jungle was very dense and we walked for just over two hours before calling it a day and heading back. It was nice to see something a little different. We are both very keen to leave here as soon as we can in order to see the other islands which are by all accounts very lovely. The people here are all geared up for the Soccer World Cup final, with "J'aime la France! Allez la France" banners all over Papeete. I have seen a lone car dashing up and down the streets flying a huge Italian flag.

26 June

Papeete Quay We have spent the last few days just catching up on small jobs at the marina. We have been into Papeete twice. It is a very busy city, though not so big. Unfortunately it is choked with traffic and no one seems to walk as there are very few footpaths outside of the very centre of town. We went and had a look at the quay. We had originally thought of keeping Sapphire there but had read dreadful reports about the general seediness of the area so decided against. The quay looks fine and we had a chat with some people on boats there. They said it is a little noisy but otherwise fine. Still, it is cheaper where we are and after the business of Papeete centre it is a pleasure to return to the peace and quiet of this little marina.

18 June 2006

Yacht Club Tahiti This morning we moved from Point Venus around to the Yacht Club of Tahiti where we were provided with a mooring. We secured the boat and marvelled again at the flat water. The reef provides superb protection. We made our way into the club to introduce ourselves and noticed that the manager had a copy of Oyster News on his desk with our article bookmarked. He had recognised the name of the boat. The club seems very welcoming and the price of the mooring is surprisingly affordable at 650cpf per day. We decided to keep celebrating our arrival in the Society Islands with lunch at the yacht club - grilled mahi mahi, delicious! Kev's French is coming along really well though he is not really helped by his dictionary. This is the one he used at school, published in 1954. There are no entries for "computer" or "internet" but fortunately the dictionary provides all the know-how he might need to translate "thou art dastardly you scoundrel!" which of course might be handy. During our lunch Kev grabbed a local newspaper to see if that might help him with his French translations. Amazingly the latest rugby test between Australia and England made the sports pages with the headline "L'Australie atomise l'Angleterre". No translation was needed.

17 June 2006

Point Venus We have had a very fast passage making 170-180 miles a day. Now that Sapphire is not so weighed down with stores and that her hull is in a better state, it is wonderful to feel the boat sailing properly. I had almost forgotten how fast this boat is. We are booked to have the hull re-antifouled in Raiatea so she will be in great shape after that. We arrived at Ahe at 0300 yesterday morning. We would have loved to have spent time here cruising the Tuamotus but we have spent longer than intended in the Marquesas and our rig is still not right so we need to press on to Papeete where we can have the rig sorted once and for all. We picked our way around Ahe and Manihi under radar. We hardened up to make our way through the pass. Arutua was just visible in the day light as a tiny fringe of palm trees. It is easy to see why these motus are known as the Dangerous Archipelago . Kev's breakfast flew off the cooker again this morning as the seas have not really eased (though the temporary lee provided by Ahe provided a couple of hours of blissful relief). During the afternoon Kev called down from the deck and asked for a pair of rubber gloves. It seemed that a large bird had taken it upon itself to die in our tender! We have no idea when or how this happened. Was it diving for food and miscalculated, crashing head first into the tender? Was it tired and took a rest there, dying in the process? In any case, removing the ex-bird was definitely a job for the skipper. Us lowly mates cannot be trusted with such tasks! (He did poke it with the boat hook before committing the body to the deep, just in case it was just sleeping but it was not..) During the afternoon we saw Tahiti and before long we were anchoring behind the reef off Point Venus . This was where Captain Cook brought the Endeavour  to anchor in 1769. He so named this point as he was in Tahiti for the main purpose of observing the transit of Venus. We anchored around a headland and behind the reef in delightfully flat water. We celebrated our arrival with a couple of glasses of wine in the cockpit watching the sun setting over the neighbouring island of Moorea. The perfect end to a successful passage.

13 June 2006

Reinforced Trades and a rainbow We left Ua Pou today as the strong reinforced trade winds are showing no sign of abating. The wind was from the east so stayed abaft the beam (about 110 degrees off) and blew a steady 25-30 knots. We had the main and the genny well reefed and were soon roaring along. The hull cleaning has made an enormous difference. The seas have been rough. Twice tonight the frying pan launched itself off the cooker and ended up under the navigation table and the occasional wave breaking over the cockpit makes spending time at the wheel that bit more exciting.


Ua Pou

11 June 2006

Ua Pou going into battle We left Nuku Hiva yesterday bound for Hakahetau on the neighbouring island of Ua Pou. We had strong winds of 25-30 kts just slightly forward of the beam so we had a fast and lumpy passage. The views into the bay at Hakehetau were just beautiful with the clouds clearing just in time to reveal renowned spires of Ua Pou. The seas had pushed us just to the west of Hakahetau and with our rig not 100% we were reluctant to head any closer to windward so we anchored instead at Bahia de Vaiehu which was just south of the island's westernmost point. The island provided a great lee so the last few miles were a pleasure in flat water. The anchorage was nowhere near as scenic as Hakahetau but the shelter was very good, the holding excellent in sand and the incredibly blue water looked pretty washing against the rocky shore. Importantly the water was crystal clear and this suited our purpose twofold. We needed to run the watermaker as we were nearly out of fresh water and we desperately needed to scrub our hull. The bay at Nuku Hiva was too dirty (muddy) to do either and additionally, the anchorage was so rolly that to go under the boat would have been dangerous. When we did go over the side yesterday our hearts just sank when we saw what had grown on our hull during the month we spent in Nuku Hiva! We had enough sea life thriving there to write a whole ~Blue Planet~ episode. It was a depressing sight. Not only did we have our work cut out for us, but the sea was teaming with little jellyfish. In the two minutes it took us to notice this, I received about thirty little stings which hurt only a bit but were infuriatingly itchy for the next two days. Kevin got one! We ended up cleaning the hull wearing shirts, trousers, socks and gloves for protection. After two days our hull was in much better shape. Kevin even managed to swim under the keel and clean there. (Not a very easy job without any sort of tank or weight belt.) This should improve our speed for the next passage.

Nuku Hiva

7 June 2006

As it was blowing 25-30 kts in Controleur this morning thanks once more to the endless stream of squalls passing overhead we decided to forget trying to get to Anaho. We waited for a break in the weather to get the anchor up and head back to the main port. This was only 4 miles or so but still took us over two hours. The wind was all over the place and the sea state was very lumpy and confused. However my day was made by the company of a family of dolphins including a baby dolphin. We had never seen a baby dolphin before and this little creature was an absolute delight. The baby never left the side of its mother and the two seemed to swim and jump in near perfect unison. Occasionally when the baby tried to jump out of the water it seemed to veer to starboard! Another dolphin seemed to notice this and so swam on that side of the baby to help to keep it in a straight line. They seem to look out for one another beautifully.

6 June 2006

Anse Hooumi We decided to leave today and head for Anaho Bay on the north side of the island. Lotus  are there now and Co phoned us to say that the water is crystal clear and calm. This is what we need to clean the hull. We left a couple of hours later than we had planned. This was because we needed to visit the bank and the post office. Yesterday was a public holiday here (again) so there were queues which took an age. The day was not a terrific success as it took us three hours to beat to the corner of the island (a distance of four miles). Once we rounded the corner we had hoped that the wind would be more favourable. However, within fifteen minutes or so we found ourselves trying to make headway into 30 kts as squall after squall belted across our course. We gave this up as a waste of time and headed back to anchor in Controleur Bay on the south east tip of the island. We plan to try again tomorrow morning to reach Anaho. The anchorage here is lovely. The bay has three fingers and we anchored in the eastern most bay called Anse Hooumi. The scenery reminds us a bit of Chile but with coconut palms. As we anchored, we realised that this was the first time that we had had an anchorage to ourselves in a very long time. In fact. this is the first time that we have anchored without other yachts around since Caleta Tames (where we nearly lost our anchor) in northern Chile, six months and about 5500 miles ago! We both much prefer the solitude of the quieter anchorages. Since leaving Chile everywhere we have been has been crowded with yachts so this is a treat.

3 June 2006

Outrigger race After what seems like a very long time our new shrouds were fitted today. Unfortunately we discovered damage today to the baby stay where lots of wires have parted so that will need to be replaced in Papeete. We have spent much longer here in Nuku Hiva than we first planned. The bay is pretty with a pleasant little town but without our new shrouds we have not been able to explore the rest of the island as we would then be totally reliant on the engine. We did venture twice to take water from Daniel's Bay which is literally around the corner. Our timing was fortunate as recently it rained so hard here that there was damage to the pipes that supply water and the water there is no longer potable. It seems incredible, in this island, with its many waterfalls and regular rainfall, that there is no ready source of drinking water. We refuse to run our watermaker in this bay as the run off from the mountains means the water is generally quite muddy. With the new shrouds fitted we plan to head off very shortly for a couple of days on Ua Pou before setting off for Tahiti. We had hoped to spend a little time exploring the Tuamotus but the extra time we have had to spend here now pretty much rules that out. In all we have enjoyed our time here, it is a pity that we have not been able to use the time actually exploring different parts of the island. There is a lot of familiar Australian and New Zealand food for sale in the shops, albeit at hugely inflated prices. We have got the hang of buying directly from the fishermen and Kev has discovered which beer is the most affordable (luckily for him that beer is also in the biggest bottles) so we are learning how to live more affordably here. A few days ago we had a very civilised coffee and cakes onboard Lotus  as we watched the outrigger canoe races. The men were unbelievably fit. We saw the winners race in (18 kms later) while they hardly broke a sweat! It was very impressive.

17 May 2006

Tiki Another Tiki We have been in touch with the various people involved with the repair of our rig and things are slowly coming together. Selden have shipped all the necessary parts from the UK so now we just need to wait for their arrival here. I believe this will come via Papeete. I went for a walk around the waterfront here and found lots of tiki statues lining the shore. We were so pleased yesterday to see our friends from Lotus  make their way into the harbour, though their stay here might not be as relaxing as they might have hoped. Whilst cleaning his hull underwater Co sustained a small cut to his foot where he touched the rudder. Kev did exactly the same thing a few days ago. Although he put antiseptic on this, Co has developed a terrible infection in his leg and has been admitted to the hospital here for an operation to remove the poison. This has really made us think carefully about working underwater on the boat.

16 May 2006

Hiking at Nuku Hiva Waterfall Nuku Hiva Daniel and Antoinette Over the weekend we went to Hakatea Bay (othewise known as Daniel's Bay). We have been unable to run the watermaker here so needed the fresh water which is available there. We towed Cheyenne  around too as he is unable to use his engine and there was no wind. The bay is stunning though we had been warned about the no-nos. These are little insects similar to sandflies and are (unfortunately) very common in the Marquesas Islands. They can turn the most idyllic settings into an itching miserable hell! On Sunday we decided to brave them and take a hike up the Hakaui Valley to the Vaipo Waterfall there. This is one of the islands most breathtaking sights as the river has cut sheer walls of about 800 metres into the basalt. The w aterfall is 350 metres high and one of the highest in the world. It must have rained recently as the track through the jungle was very muddy. Kev, Jim and I were all fully covered up to avoid the insect bites. We got a bit lost and ended up taking 2.5 hrs to find the waterfall. The path ran though some very dense jungle and there were lots of ancient Marquesan ruins that were disappearing slowly into the undergrowth. On the way we had to make several stream crossings and all ended up fairly soaked. When we reached the waterfall most of it was obscured by a part of the cliff. We had been told by other people to swim across the pool at the base of the waterfall and climb over a few large rocks to see a spectacular view. As we reached the end of the pool though I spotted a huge eel in the water so that was the end of my plan to get into the water. I was not alone. Kev and Jim decided they could live without the view as well. We climbed through a cave and scrambled over some boulders to get closer though still could not see the whole waterfall. Even so the wind and spray generated at the base was powerful. We walked back to Daniel's house. Daniel is about eighty years old and lives in a tiny hut in this little piece of heaven with his wife. We talked to him for a while and signed his guest book. Nearly all of his visitors are from yachts. We left him loaded with fruit and a few Marquesan words. Daniel and Antoinette seemed to enjoy chatting to us. That night we had dinner onboard Cheyenne  with Jim.

11 May 2006

Daniel's Bay Towing Cheyenne We are anchored off Taiohae on Nuku Hiva. We have been here for a few days now as this is where we expect to have our rig repaired. When we arrived on 7th we were invited for drinks onboard Halekai . Borger (the skipper) makes the BEST rum punch we have ever tasted and he even served up fresh sashimi from the locally caught tuna. The anchorage is large (a little rolly) and is actually formed by a submerged volcanic crater. This is obvious when you look around to see the jagged cliffs and lush peaks surrounding the circular harbour. We were very excited to be able to buy fresh food again though at extortionately high prices. A can of beer is around $US3 and a box of cornflakes is $9!!! There is a shop with internet facilities and telephones so I have been able to phone home and we have been able to get on top of things a little via email. We went out for a fabulous meal last night at the Heikahanui Pearl Lodge with Richard, Barrie and Jim. The NZ Lamb was superb and a real treat. When we all got back to the boat we found that Jim's tender had deflated partially and his outboard was totally underwater. He is having a run of terrible luck now. His autopilots are broken, the cutlass bearing for his prop is broken and so is his port intermediate shroud. It makes our problems seem much easier to handle.


3 May 2006

Hana Moe Noa at Tahuata We had not planned to leave until tomorrow but heard this morning that an earthquake had occurred in Tonga and that a tsunami warning had been issued. We got the anchor up and headed to the next island up, Tahuata. Unfortunately we did not leave until 0930 which meant we would be pushed to get in before dark. (As it was, the warning was cancelled after we left.) A couple of days ago Kev went up the mast and strengthened the jury rig so that we would be able to leave if necessary. We were sailing well until the wind died and we had to motor. Of course the fuel alarm chose to go off at this time. Because our fuel cans are so poor we had water in the fuel (despite using the three stage filter). We drained the water but then had to bleed the engine before it would start. We arrived just as dark was falling at the anchorage of Hana Moe Noa on the NW of the island. It was beautiful but crowded. We anchored behind all the other boats which meant we anchored in rock. As we dropped the anchor a man from another yacht, Kibuki  visited to give us a huge piece of yellowfin tuna. We will move at first light to anchor further in where the bottom is sandy.

Fatu Hiva

2 May 2006

Hanavave Bay Orchid Went ashore today for a walk, the first in weeks. The island is extremely lush with ferns and palm trees everywhere and orchids growing wild. There were lots of banana, mango and citrus fruit trees also. The locals seem to keep their own chickens and some even pigs. We walked up the hill to the look out over the anchorage. It was very attractive though steep and after so long on the boat it was a bit of a shock to the legs and lungs. The view over the anchorage was spectacular. We watched a huge luxury yacht Adele  make her way in and anchor. We met the Gendarme who shook our hands and insisted that we leave tomorrow. It is not possible to clear in to French Polynesia from Fatu Hiva though this is where the vast majority of yachts make their first landfall, being the most windward island. The Gendarme usually gives permission to stay here for three days.

28 April 2006

Dinner in Fatu Hiva Balloon Kids We spent most of the day catching up on boat jobs. Lady in White  were good enough to let us take some fuel from them as we are nearly empty now. We also took a dip over the side to scrape some of the barnacles off our hull. During the evening we joined a bunch of other cruisers for a meal ashore. One of the local families had prepared fish (raw in lime and coconut milk) and chicken - also breadfruit. The fish was delicious. The family had lots of children who just loved balloons. Some people from the yachts came prepared with gifts of balloons which I think is a much nicer idea than giving "bon bons". The children just loved them. They all wanted photos taken not of themselves but of their balloons and as soon as they spotted the camera the cries of "Madam! Photo!" started. They were beautiful kids. Kev practised his French with the ladies of the house while the man of the house produced frangipanis to sit behind our ears. (My family will know the significance of this!!) His wife told me that as a married woman I needed to wear mine behind my right ear. This family make their money by fishing and also by growing grapefruit which they sell to the USA.