Saturday, July 17, 2010

midnight watch-version 10

18 30.4 S 159 12.8W between Mopelia and Aitutaki

Good morning from the nav(navigation) staion here at 1 am. It's a beautiful clear starry night and I am on watch on a 2 day, 2 night passage from Mopelia to Aitutaki in the southern Cook Islands. This has been one of our kindest passages with fair weather and long wave trains that are only 7-8 ft seas. A small roll but none of the herky jerky stuff that throws us around and otherwise makes us a bit miserable. We have been making 7-10k speeds for the bulk of the trip and have flown a combo of full to double reefed main with either the jib or the larger reacher out on the pole (our version of a spinnaker). True downwind sailing and much more what the Pacific is supposed to be like. Not bad!!!

We have officially left French Polynesia . So sad to be sailing away from the land of baguettes and ripe cheeses. The good news is we think we will be in English speaking territories for the remainder of our trip. As fun as the stumbling and bumbling of Spanish and French has been for the last year it will be nice to be able to just talk to peiople without all the thought and frustrations. If I could do it all over the one thing I would change or encourage other cruisers would be to be better prepared language wise. Really wish I had of had the time to take a few classes at the Penobscot school and been more fluent in both Spanish and French.We got by but I can only imagine what we missed and how much more we might have experienced with a better command of the native tongues in these foreign places.

We have had the good fortune of buddy boating with a lovely English (they actually live in So. Wales) couple on their Oyster 56. The boats are amazingly well matched and these past 2 days we have pretty much been within a few miles of each other. Definitely changes the whole feeling of being (or not in this case) out here all alone with nothing but ocean ocean everywhere. Rather comforting and their company is fabulous to boot. Lots of shared dinners and laughs ( when at anchor that is) and some fun excursions during the day as well. Trish does not dive so for Steve it was really great to have us to go out with as it was all on our own diving in Mopelia. We did 3 (2 for me) dives in 2 days and found it to be the best diving since the Tuomotus. The coral was alive and well/very beautiful and the water clarity exceptional. Saw some very larg pelagic fish which was different as well as lots of the beautiful colorful butterflies, angels,wrasses, and surgeonfish that these waters are famous for. Amazing just amazing colors and a bunch of new species to add to our list of fish sighted. Only a few sharks which actually is fine with me. We dove outside the pass which I had described on our entry in as narrow and hairy. It was that, though not as intimidating in a dinghy as in the big boat . A wet and wild dinghy ride back however as the fetch did have a chance to kick up the seas in the lagoon. We had taken two dinghies and Gram and I were airborne and so soaked that he had to wear his snorkle mask to be able to see...very funny! Spent both afternnoons on the beach ( a lovely white sand palm lined stretch) playing some boules and going for walks with Steve and Trish. There are only a handful of people on Mopelia (one man , his wife and a grown son with child and another woman who lives by herself supposedly). We only met the one man and actually moved down the beach to the deserted anchorage in the north to be closer to the pass and the diving. There we did find the remains of a couple of homes that were destroyed in a cyclone in the past year or two. Strangely enough there were still a bunch of chickens and a mama pig with two piglets roaming the beach. Guess there is a male pig somewhere nearby too.

We are praying for a bunch of calm days as the next few places we are headed will not have much protection and we will be uncomfortable if the seas are rough or rolly. Will see how lucky we get and move on if not. Time to wake Gram up and get a few more hours of sleep myself.

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