Friday, April 30, 2010

on the move

16 41.7 S 143 11.3 W between Hao and Makemo in the Tuomotus

After almost a week in Hao ,our first stop in the Tuomotus, we are doing an overnight to Makemo, the next atoll on our itinerary. So far my impressions of the Tuomotus are varied. The passes to get in and out are scary and so I am a bit apprehensive about going to so many different places as we had picked out...but there is not that much to explore (at least on Hao) so we are wanting to move about . We arrived in Hao on Sat morning after a 3 day, 3 night passage from the Gambiers. We had a hard time getting the right info as to high, low and slack tide (Noaa where are you when we need you/that's the US national weather service for all you non sailors) So we went in without paying enough attention to what we could see with our eyes...Turbulence!!! It had been quite windy for days and so there were standing waves and a current against us which in the middle got to be up to 8 one point we were actually going backwards... I was terrified and hiding in the pilothouse when I saw a HUGE wave break over the back of the boat. We had not put up our hatchboard so water flooded into the boat. We did get thru thanks to this heavy duty, powerful John Deere engine of ours and did get the inside all clean and salt free(extra bonus I guess )but it was quite unnerving especially for moi. Our first day in town we found it incredibly friendly...were picked up and driven in, shown around and invited to dinner by a woman who teaches special ed there. Her name is Camillia and her husband Parua(we think). They made poisson cru of a different version and sushi as he had caught a big tuna that day. He fishes and helps his mother run one of the stores in town...she apparently is the "mayor" and they seem pretty well off. 2 cute kids and a very nice home and they made us feel incredibly welcome. Sun. we got out our bikes and headed most of the way down the atoll on an unpaved road. Didn't make it to the end as we had hoped because the road was a bit rough but found a nice beach for a swim and overall had a great outing.

Late that afternoon Gram was "dressing"'s actually more like undressing the fish we had caught on our way in and put in the freezer to be dealt with later. We had invited Bar for dinner and I wanted to make fish tacos, He is quite an interesting 38 year old who is single handing around the world on a lovely 50' boat he had built in Holland...he is Dutch... and has been sailing her for 3-4 years including a bunch of time in Antartica!!! So back to Gram, who while scaling the fish put a deep gash into the joint of his left index finger. Bill, knowing the bad mix of fish bacteria and deep wounds needed to perform a fairly intensive flushing out, surgical procedure. So I became the scrub nurse(albeit a queasy one) and we set up our dining table as sterile as we could and did lots of cleaning and more flushing with sterile water and then a few stitches and a very large antbiotic shot. The next day we went to the navy (French from the nuclear testing days here and still on island) infirmerie and were seen by a very nice and very competent nurse practitioner named Pierre. He gave Gram an IV and a couple more does of antibiotics, checked the wound and replenished many of the supplies Bill had used(even resterilized all our instruments). They were so nice!!!! Had a few more hang out days to be sure all was well before venturing away from this great facility were Gram to need more medical attention. He's a bit bored and can't go in the water but this too shall pain and pretty lucky we had such good emergent care between Bill mostly but Pierre's backup a lucky break!

Leaving the pass today we had learned our lesson and anchored off it a few hours till it looked as calm as we could expect and had a much beter experience. Tonight is a beautiful full or nearly full moon night and we are motorsailing to Makemo, our next lagoon. We have heard there is some good diving there and hope that there is a little more to do than on Hao...tho' the friendliness of all the people there made it a great stop anyway. Plus more yummy baguettes were available!!! Caught a tuna right at dark tonite so we are packed to the gills(no pun intended) in our freezer...good thing as the food in French Polynesia is so so expensive. Cost us 15. for a 3 head pack of Romaine lettuce but we were so wanting a salad we splurged..last lettuce we had seen was in Easter Island! So, that's about all the news from our little world..more as we continue this journey and the adventures along the way...