Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Huahine, French Polynesia

We had a wonderful first few days here in Huahine over on the almost magical eastern anchorage. We met some very nice, generous families on the fringing Motu who gave us way too much cantaloupe and bok choy, and invited the kids out to the boats for some tubing and swimming. Fun was had by all. Since then we came over to Fare on the western side, had a nice day biking to the Ahu's (fairly boring pile of rocks but a nice ride) and seeing the beginning and end of a 2.5 hour canoe race (wow is all we can say). After that we went on a wild goose chase for better anchorages as we were trying to get to the southern most beach, but the 20-30 knot winds from the south made that seem unwise and there wasn't much else worth stopping at along the western shore so we ended up back in Fare yesterday around noon.

Today we leave for Raiatea and Tahaa, which share the same barrier reef for some more exploring and also to pick up our new inverter.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Welcome to Vagina

Huahine, French Polynesia
16 45.9S 150 57.6W

We arrived yesterday in Huahine which is the polynesian slang word for Vagina...thing Hu-Ha, popularized recently by Grey's Anatomy and Opra acording to some article I read last year. Local legend has it that some god (don't remember the name) split the island in half with his "canoe"....if you know what I mean and now it has a small cleft between the two mounds...I think you get the point.

Anyway, we found a beautiful anchorage on the east side, about 1 mile south of the pass where we are sitting 17 feet above clear white sand with crystal clear water and about 1 knot of current. We had a nice drift snorkle, driving the dink about a mile south then drifing back to the boats over some decent coral with TONS of reef fish. Mom and Bill also went ashore while I worked on boat projects and met some nice people who gave us more fruit, green onions, and kale then we know what to do with....I guess stir fry is in our near future.

Tonight was a 5.5 hour happy hour on Curious topped off with Bill "pole dancing" on the mainsheet to "Boys are Back in Town"....quite the sight....not pretty though. Trish is hoping next time I will give it a try.

I think we are going to move around to the south west corner of the island tomorrow where there is supposed to be another great anchorage, maybe with a good dive nearby and suposidly the best beach in Polynesia.

Hopefully I will start posting more often again now that things are settling in again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Informational "pearls" of Papeete

French Polynesia
Huahine Island, Society Islands
16 45.86S/150 57.56W

We have left Tahiti and Moorea, the Windward Islands in the Society Group. After an 0500 morning departure, we made a light air 82 nm motor/daysail to the east coast of Huahine - the first of the Leeward Islands . We are anchored between the island and Motu Murimahura in the midst of a long plateau of 17 foot of sand - a lovely spot. We put fishing lines out and brought in a 25 lb. Bonita Tuna early in the passage, and shared ceviche with friends on Curious and Rhiann Marie yesterday evening. Weather has changed and today is another beautiful day.

For cruisers - here are some informational "pearls" about Papeete:

Generalities and Approach: Call Port Captain on CH 12 10-15 minutes from Pass de Papeete. There is a large amount of ferry traffic in and out. If you wish to proceed south to Marina Taina, you will need permission to pass by the airport, and radio back when you are clear. Otherwise, you will turn left towards the town quay.

Marina Taina is the more upscale marina, excellent and helpful staff. Med moor bow or stern to the dock and divers will tie your outside lines to moorings. Very clean, good (cold) showers, nice nautical ambience. Best provisioning around is walkable at Carrefours grocery - take a cart back with goods. Many boats anchor or moor off Taina. There are 21 balls just south of marina labeled with letter "C", first come first served. Anchoring nearby can be tight if crowded.

Papeete town quay now has floating piers for med moor tie up - no longer tie to the wharf. Locked gates provide security and overall seems to be a good improvement. Blvd quiets down at night. Much less costly then Taina, but no shower or facilities,electric is limited to 15 Amps. Most downtown shopping is easier from here, but decks will get a coat of city grime.

WIFI:Iorananet and Manaspot as well as Hotspot-WDG. Most locations have at least one of these available.

Customs and Arrival: Agent will do all, or you need to visit Port Captain 1/2 mile north of town quay. Busses travel reqularly during the day from Taina to town of Papeete, R/T about 200 fr.

Fuel: Agent can arrange for duty free fuel. I am not certain if it ca be done on your own. Duty Free cost was $3.40 US June 2010.

Boat Supplies: We used Sin Tung Hing marine for general supplies. Phone is 54 94 53. They have a downtown store, and a satellite at Marina Taina. A great enthusiastic and english speaking contact is Sebastion, who is at Taina Mondays and Tuesdays, otherwise he is downtown. Sebastion cell is 73 72 96. Items can be brought to Satellite from downtown. Location is in Vaininiore, just across the canal (Riviere Papeava) from Fare Ute on the waterfront.

Yune Tung is on Voie O around the corner from Kim Fah (see below) and has an excellent supply of batteries, and some electrical parts. We bought a battery duty free. A great contact is Isabel who speaks english and was very helpful.

Nautisport is another well know downtown marine supplier.

Tahiti Yacht Accessories, located at Marina Taina, is another option for marine supplies. Michelle is the owner, cell 74 10 02. They have a good supply of Victron battery chargers, inverters, etc.

Provisioning: Carrefours is awesome. Exit Taina and go left. Excellent cheese, meats, produce at USA prices or better for most! Otherwise, Champion is a decent market located downtown, and around. ATm's are all over downtown. You can find an ATM machine by gas station south of Taina - exit and go right.

There is a mini Costco type shop named "Cost and Company" that has bulk packaging of some special items such as fruits and nuts, cereals, coffees, paper towels, olives artichoke hearts, pastas and sauces...things you do not find everyday. Their stock is hit and miss, and are located on Avenue Pomare on block east of the large Intersport shop (Corner of Pomare & Rue des Remparts) at the corner of R. Ph. Bernadi No. Phone is 45 54 40.

We also found Kim Fa, a downtown duty free wine/Heinekin/alc bev supplier 1/2 way to SIn Tung Hing (located on Rue des Remparts, 1.5 blocks north of Avenue Pomare). Least expensive wine bottle would cost 1400 francs retail, but 460 fr duty free. Phone number is 54 56 00 and contact person is Joanne. They wish you to buy 2-3 days before your departure, and will deliver to town quay. You must then leave FP, or "lock" the beverages.

Overall, provisioning was much better than expected. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

it's about time

Island of Moorea about 10 miles from Tahiti 17 30.8S 149 51.1 W

Been a long time since I wrote all of you but we have been so busy with prep for and then a wonderful visit from Zak, Sierra, Rob and Emma that there was just not enough hours in a day. Now we are playing catch up and repairing all the broken things with the parts that they brought and feeling bit blue to not have my little Emma here calling Grammy J, Grammy J come jump with me(she loved to jump on our bed and let me tickle her). What a trooper and wonderfully adaptive person that little girl is. She is so smart it blows me away. Her disposition is fabulous and it makes my heart swell to realize what wonderful parents Rob and Sierra are and what a delightfully happy child that helps produce. Zak has a very special relationship with her and it's way cool to see a 19 year old boy be so tender and loving. A neat role for him as he was always the baby in our family. He found out while he was here that he got his first choice for living accomodations at McGill so that is a welcome relief. He will be at an alternative residence...it's suites so more like an apartment- with kitchen. He got a single room but will have suitemates(good for him as he has never shared a room with anyone). He sure did grow up alot with the experience of living on his own this winterso will be happy to be cooking and shopping for himself and have that independence. Also he seems to appreciate us more than ever!

While the kids were here we mostly cooked and ate and did dishes and went to the beach and just enjoyed the time together. We came across the Sea of Moons as they call the water between Tahiti and Moorea and spent our time at 3 anchorages on Moorea. Did a fair bit of snorkeling but the reef here is dead. dead. dead so was pretty disappointing. Still some good fish but without the beauty of the reef alot of the experience is lost. Zak and Gram dove once and Bill, Zak and I another time but we felt that the quality of the dive was barely worth the effort of filling the tanks! The boys tried a day of kiteboarding and we did lots of swimming with Emma who is quite a good little waterbaby. One of the last nights we went out to eat and saw one of the Polynesian dance performances. The girls here are such beauties and so graceful. The arm movements are slow and willowy and their hips and fannies do things that I know mine could never learn. Quite amazing and they learn at such a young age. Some of the dancers were probably only 12-14, yet they moved like sexy ladies...Hmmm no wonder Captain Bligh and his men did not want to leave the "South Pacific".

Zak was supposed to leave after a week (while the Dietz's were staying for 2) because he needed to start his summer job. However a day before his flight home a national strike shut the airport down(no we did not organize it to keep him with us longer). Apparently the lack of fire fighters made it so that no flights could come in or leave and it stayed that way for 5-6 days ...what a mess because then we had to deal with rescheduling once it reopened and there were so many disruptions that it took another few days for things to be back on track. Luckily we were able to get Zak rebooked to go home with Sierra and Rob and by Fri things were back on schedule and relatively smoothe again. We still are trying to locate an inverter that we had ordered from Europe and can't be tracked as it got stuck in Paris during the strike. What a mess and very bad for an already hurting tourist economy!

We sadly put the 4 of them on a plane last Fri eve. and then were able to join up with the Puddle Jump Rendevous. Have met lots more cruisers and many will be on our same track towards New Zealand so that has been nice. The weather has been raunchy tho' finally seems to have broken today and the sun is out after 3 days of wind and rain and huge seas. We have delayed our departure for Huahine another day or two till the seas die down but are anxious to move on. Hope everyone has a happy solistice and you friends in Maine enjoy the long long days!!! Miss being there a bit now that it is" summertime and the living is easy".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

There's No Place Like Home?

Moorea - French Polynesia

We all had quite a laugh when shopping at a very small grocery in Moorea when Sierra saw this sign. Hard to believe when a quarter of the way around the world that you see such a thing.

The last week with Sierra, Rob, Emma, & Zak (SREZ) has been outstanding. We have been enjoying each others company, swimming and beaching lots, and have seen some pretty cool things (petting rays, hikes, beaches, snorkling, diving, and much more). We even managed to arrange a general strike, shutting down the airport, and allowing Zak to spend an extra week here. In all seriousness, the strike ended today so our parts should finally be able to clear customs and get to the sailmaker and hopefully the inverter will be able to fly in now.

We have a few more days of fun here in Moorea, then back to Tahiti to meet up with the Puddlejump and send the family to the airport, pick up sails, and inverter before heading off to the rest of the Society Islands.

In other news, my first published sole author article is currently on news-stands. My review of small dome broadband satellite systems was adapted for the July issue of Cruising World and features a pic of me in the rigging. I will also have an similar article in the August issue of Yachting with some nice shots of Visions in exotic adventurous locations so keep your eyes peeled.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Small fish in a big boat pond

Papeete Tahiti, French Polynesia

It has been 4 days of hard work, cleaning the boat inside and out, working on the Gen-set, troubleshooting our inverter that sh!t the bed the other day out of the blue, and buying lots of food.

Good news is work is just about done, new inverter is on the way, and the family arrives this evening. We have met quite a few nice crews on the superyachts surrounding us, culminating in a nice dock party last night, a real treat for me as it was the first time hanging out with people my own age in quite a while.

We had drinks the other night with the crew of Juliet, winner of 1994ish superyacht of the year award, whose captain Johnathan is from NH, went to Colby, and interned at Chuck Paine's office just before I did.

We are about to head over and tour Bliss, a brand new 120 footer just launched in Auckland....quite the neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Culture Shock

Papeete, Tahiti...land of the fragrant Tiare flower
17 35.1 South 149 37.0 West

OMG...having a major culture shock having arrived in Papeete(Tahiti) and what is known as civilization. Lots of cars, stores, people, internet and tons of activity...no beautiful turquoise water/at least not at the Marina where we are, fish,sharks, and the quiet villages that have been our life for the past 4+ months. Going to the supermarket was like being kids in a candy shop and we have already spent $700. on treats, cheese , vegies, and things we have not seen since Panama in September..still have a few more trips to go. We are limited to what we can carry at once so this is a multi trip spree! Also, once we get back begins the long and tedious process of repacking all the food in our handy dandy food saver(vacuums and seals) and then trying to stash it all away in all our hiding places all over the boat(and I do mean all over).

We are sandwiched in between all the big yachts at this marina as we were luckily able to fit in a spot too small for anyone else...The number of really large (crewed) boats is mind boggling...at least 20 or more over 100 ft/both sailboats and motoryachts. This really is a crossroads for all boats traveling the Pacific and I guess everyone stops here at some point. There are no more spaces here and there are not even any moorings...it seems really busy! Nice to be on the dock for getting stuff on and off the boat...we are taking down all our sails except one for repairs and replacement plus needing some more boat supplies and all that food so walking the gangplank (they have us stern to with a narrow board from boat to dock) sure beats dinghying back and forth. Will also make it lots easier for Dietz'z and Zak who will arrive late Sat nite after a long, long, very long day of travel. Emma will most likely be in the best shape of all of them(tho' Zak is a really good traveller as well) Obviously we can't wait to see them. It has been 6 months(4 for Zak) and I know Emma will be a different kid. Definitely the downside of this adventure is time away from friends and family.

We had a wonderful last couple of weeks filled with water activities and social gatherings in the Tuamotus. Last I wrote we were at the South Pass of Fakarava where we spent about 5 days and dove and redove that pass as it was so cool. Went out with a dive shop to figure it out the first time but then just went on our own, towing the dinghy the other 4 times. Saw hundreds of sharks and really nice coral and fish and were able to get really comfortable with the concept of drift diving from our own dinghy(which is very nice to have right with you by the way as you have no way of getting lost from your exit out). From there we went to the town of Rotovai by the north pass of Fakarava and spent the next 4 days there. Also famous for its diving we arranged to go out with the dive shop there a couple of times...too far from the pass to dinghy and also more complicated diving as the pass is very fast. We did our first dive at a place known as the coral garden which was really awesome. Incredible visibility, and an aquarium full of colorful fish and live, varied coral. We are being really spoiled by these amazing conditions and loving the 84-86 degree water. Next day we went out early in the morning to the north pass and did that wild and crazy dive. They dropped us at the wall and we went down to about 100 ft. and hung out watching the sharks. As we came up a bit got into the current and were flying (literally felt like that with arms out and just ripping along) thru the water. I was glad that we had a dive master with us as I needed a bit of help manuevering with the strength of that current. Even our friends Dave and Sherry who are seasoned divers (Dave was a navy diver for his career) thought it was a tough dive...but cool! Went to the fancy hotel about 3 miles away to meet up with a couple from DC we had met (they were on their honeymoon and diving their way thru French Polynesia) the day before when we went to the hotel looking to buy gas. Once again our afternoon on the beach got rained out...we do so little beach hanging out that it is frustrating that it seems to usuallly rain just then. Had a number of happy hours on board with Soggy Paws and our friends from the boat Puerto Seguro, a nice young couple Maria and Estefan who are from Columbia and Argentina whom we had met in the San Blas and remet here.

From Fakarava we did a nice daysail (good wind, no swells) to Anse Amyot, an area that is a false pass/kind of a cul-de-sac-between the reef outside and inside on the atoll of Toau. This was an amazing place complete with moorings and the truly amazing hospitality of a couple named Gaston and Valentine who live there. They provide these moorings for free as long as you eat at their restaurant at least once in your stay. It was a lovely spot with good protection for 350 degrees/totally unusual for the Tuamotus. Lucky for us as the whole time we were there the winds were clocking 25-30 knots. Soggy Paws and Puerto Seguro joined us at this anchorage as well as 2 catamarans with nice French couples aboard. The diving here was quite easy to do on our own...Gaston has placed a couple of dive buoys outside the reef so we could tie the dinghys up and go down with no encumbrances. Beautiful coral, visibility to 100 ft and again lots of fish...but no sharks(kind of a welcome relief). Next day we were lucky enough to be taken across the inner reef in Gaston's boat and shown where the Manta rays feed. We snorkeled and frolicked with the rays (who measured at least 8-10 ft wingspan) and were blown away by that experience. They are weird but beautiful in the way they move...Gram posted a video on the blog for anyone who wants to share this exciting experience. We had lunch and then went out to the other buoy with Dave and Sherry to do the other dive here. Once in the water you find hole that must go down 200-300 ft. It kind of spooked me at first...thinking I would disappear or be sucked into the big blue (as in black) hole. Again visibility was amazing and there were tons of fish including a few new species to watch. We did this dive a second time with Dave, Sherry, Maria and Estefan and that time I was totally relaxed and really got into the depth of the wall/hole. Did see a few Napoleon fish that must have been 100 lbs...very BIG. Somewhere in here we had a lovely dinner with Gaston and Valentine (12 people in total with the French boats included)...lots of wine, parrot fish cooked in foil on the grill, LOBSTER which we had not had since the San Blas, and Poisson Cru plus garlic bread and a delicious coconut cake with choc. frosting for desert. What a treat and a very late, fun night. Our last night there I had suggested we do a pot luck dinner with all the boats and we asked G and V if we could use their place...of course they agreed and we had another eve. of good food, good wine and good company. Anse Amyot proved to be a simply wonderful stop and will long be remembered.

It was really hard to say goodbye to Dave and Sherry...after all we had been off and on travelling with them since Nov and pretty much completely with them since Jan. They are the ultimate in cruising couples...so kind and taught us so much...always willing to help and really fun to be with. They like to be as active as we do (which is probably not the norm) so we made the most of our time together and were very well suited to stay in tandem in that respect. They will stay another 6-8 weeks in the Tuamotus before heading to the Marquesas and then onto Hawaii for their winter. We will miss them tremendously and hope our paths will cross at some future date. I believe we will stay in touch which at least is a consolation.
Once we left Anse Amyot we had a quick 28 hr.passage to Tahiti...as per usual it was windier than predicted and thus with more swells but that did allow us to make it in record time. So there you have it and here we are...now in a much anticipated countdown of 3 days till we see Zak,Sierra, Rob, and our precious Emma on Sat. night.