Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heading South in Huahine Lagoon

We had some pretty strong winds in the anchorage last night but Sidewinder held fine, and today we head south with Savannah to join Alexis about half way down the west side going south to motu Valorea and pointe Teapaa. There is supposed to be nice snorkeling down there along with very pretty beaches.

This sailmail didn't go out this morn so we will try one more time. We motored down through the lagoon with gusts of 20 kts blowing through the valleys as we passed them by. Visually, this island is beautiful, green on green, tropical and lush. The little niche we have found ourselves in is still windy but incredibly beautiful with a white sand beach and lots of snorkeling to be had once the wind dies, but the grid files show they may go on for three more days. We hope not. Right now it is blue and sunshiney. David is bummed because a charter boat just anchored too close in front of us, and we are always a bit tense when the weather is iffy. Hopefully all will calm down and again, and we will have another shitty day in paradise! 

Friday, July 30, 2010


Hi there! We had a good sail from Tahiti to Huahine two nights ago although, once again, the seas where not going in the same direction we were so it was a bit rocky n rolly. We entered Avamoa pass and are anchored off of the little village of Fare with Savannah and quite a few other yachts, wondering today whether or not this is a good anchorage for the weather coming up. The prediction is for winds between 25-35 knots from the east and it is quite gusty here, but supposedly safe. 

We celebrated our 10th anniversary yesterday; we first explored the little town with Mike and Jodie, and then went surfing just out along the pass here, and David and Mike both caught a few great waves; the wave I should have caught was a bit scarey for me, so I bailed at the last minute, but Jodie caught it, had a great ride and then got squashed by the even bigger next wave. We ended our day with a continuation of the cribbage tournament on Savannah, which started in West Panama, and found ourselves feeling very thankful to be with good friends we will always hold dear. We are going out for another surf session today after the squalls stop, and we hope the sun comes out to warm us all up again. We look forward to exploring the south end of this island which we can reach from this lagoon, but we must wait a few days for the weather to pass. -Suzi

Hi Kris- Thought his should be added to the blog as it explains a huge part of our existence while out here doing what we are doing. It deals with the Single Side Band radio nets that we listen to most every day that give us weather info. as well as a means to stay in touch with some of our new found friends. These "nets," as they are called, are controlled by one person who guides everyone listening through the weather reports and general check-ins of vessels on the way as well as ones at anchor. The "net controller" as this one person is called, changes from day to day to lessen the burden and spread the duties around to other boats. I played net control almost everyday during our crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas, and it's funny how different people run the net differently. I tended to run a "loose" net, but our net was a small one with only 10 or so members. Most nets are much larger, and the controllers are more rigid in their procedures, and the more people that check in, the more this control is needed. Someone has to direct each boat to talk at a certain time or chaos would prevail over the radio waves with people "stepping on" each other all the time. The weather reports that are given are created from a number of sources and then combined to give us an accurate overview of what's happening and, more importantly, what's going to happen in our different areas. You see, these nets reach out to boats that sometimes are a 1000 miles apart, so not everyone's weather will be the same. But it is assumed and agreed upon that everyone's interpretation of the info. given is her/his responsibility, so the buck stops with the captain of each boat. These radio nets are our long distance telephones that are like the old party lines that everyone can hear at the same time and that enable us to stay in touch with each other as well as receive helpful information concerning boat repairs or recipes for that special salsa. The radio has become a large part of our daily life and has replaced the cell phone as our main means of contacting that someone special. We wish all of you back home had one so we could talk to you because if you change the frequency, it's possible to talk to someone 1000's of miles away. But that would mean a special antenna mounted on your roof that neighbors might object to as well as the static that is created during transmissions that can screw up other radio and TV signals. The day might not be far away when SSB radios become a thing of the past when new technology in the phone industry replaces them. But for now, they definitely fill a huge niche in our lives; in fact they are letting me send this message to you right now, but that's another story for another time.  -David

Monday, July 26, 2010

Newly Arrived (but Not New) Photos

I received these random photos from Suzi and David today. The top ones harken back to the Galapagos Islands; the bottom ones are from French Polynesia: the eclipse, dancers and David's favorite beer. (He loves that photo and insisted I post it.) Personally, I am most impressed with the picture of David and the coconut. What happened to his "Buddha belly"? Is the man ripped or what? No really, ladies, double click on this and blow it up. It's impressive. S&D also want everyone to know that they will be leaving for Huahine on Wednesday and will be in transit among the western isles of French Polynesia for the next week or so. They can only be reached by sailmail after Wednesday. 
-Warmest regards to all from the Blog Mistress in foggy Laguna Beach
P.S. Message from Suzi at the bottom.

The photos David sent certainly don't capture the wonderful essence of the Tahitian people, especially the women. I was hoping the dancing pictures would be good, but they are terrible. Even while I shopped in the city yesterday, I noticed that the women are so genuinely warm from the inside out, even as they drive in traffic, and they seem to flow through life. Each with a beautiful plumeria flower in her ear, eyes very bright and attentive, erect in proud posture, she smiles with inner power, and the dancing just accentuates that. I am sure this is a sweeping generality, but it truly is profound. I certainly have a great deal to gain from just being around the Tahitian women, both young and old!  -Suzi

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back in Papeete

We tried all day to get the internet connection yesterday and couldn't. It was soooo wonderful being able to skype you and actually see and hear your voice. That night we had dinner with Alexis on Savannah and then connected with Tom and Paula for good-bye hugs and kisses. We had so much fun with them.  

Went into the city on Thursday to take care of the ordering of a new Profurl staysail rollerfurler and it will be sent to Raiatea by Aug 10. We are planning to leave for Huahine on Tuesday afternoon, arriving there the next mornng. It is supposed to be a beautiful island with many unspoiled clear water reefs and picturesque bays to explore and Savannah and Alexis will be also joining us for some fun adventuring. I have tried to send this email already and lost it all, so wish me luck. I will also try to send some more pictures but right now it seems impossible. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Opunohu

We took Worm down the coast a way to snorkel with the sting-rays and sharks and it was incredible.  Another cruiser friend brought some fish to feed the sting-rays and it was sooo fun being up close and personal with them. WOW!!!!! The little black-tipped young sharks just swam around nearby and cruised. There were others there from tour boats, so it wasn't like we were threatened at all. It was a very cool experience. Steve and Derusha went with us and it was definitely a wet ride coming home against the wind. More fun times with friends! 

Opunohu Bay, Moorea

We are anchored in the prettiest of water with some coral gardens nearby. The wind has picked up throughout French Polynesia and will be dead on our nose if we try to get back to Tahiti before Tuesday. There are sometimes gusts of up to 25 kts right here where we are, but the holding is good. If we are stuck here in paradise, we had better make the best of it. 

We  took Worm up to the end of Opunohu Bay where Scream is anchored and visited with Steve and Derusha for a while, did a short beautiful snorkel close to Sidewinder, and then ended the day with a cruiser cook-out potluck in the park near where we are anchored. We met some new cruiser friends and enjoyed touching base with those we have met over the last few months. It is quiet and peaceful outside right now with a billion stars all around. Life is good.

Friday, July 16, 2010

'Bye to PJ & Tom

Pictures are from our first few days with Tom and Paula: our first afternoon in their little cabana and evening on Sidewinder, David with his eclipse glasses on feeling no pain that night, then our first venture out to go snorkeling with a shot of the exquisite water and coming back into the bay, and the next morning on the deck of their resort. 

Snorkeling was magical yesterday inside the pass. Paula, Tom, Steve and Derusha from sv Scream, and David and I motored Worm out to incredibly clear water with such colorful fish and coral; it was awesome. We celebrated Bastille Day at the resort and watched some young dancers do traditional Tahitian dancing accompanied by good traditional music. It was a very pleasurable evening on the bay and a great way to end our rendezvous. This morning we did a short snorkel and waved good-bye as our good friends drove off to catch the plane to Bora Bora for their next round of adventures. We feel wonderfully lucky to have had the time with them and we will miss them. Tom downloaded their pictures onto our flash drive and when we go into the little town tomorrow morning we are hoping to find an internet connection so I can send pictures of fond memories. 

After David gets a haircut, we are visiting with an old friend of mine from Hawaii, Ron Hall, who has a beautiful pearl shop near where we are moored and a house on the point; he went to high school with John Meany, Poncho, T Boy, etc. and moved to Hawaii right after high school, with all those guys. It has been fun visiting with him this week, and Paula did benefit by finding the perfect Tiki pearl in his shop. 

We hope to move to the next bay over [Opunohu Bay] tomorrow afternoon; the water is really clear over there!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eclipse Report

I was hoping to find internet in Moorea so I could send David's very cool pics with a note about the extraordinary experience of watching and feeling the eclipse. We had our dark glasses on and from 7:45 until around 8:30 AM we were diligent about watching in awe. Around 8:15 the light began to really change and it felt very eery, as if a giant cloud of smog were upon us, without the eyes burning. It was sort of silvery out on the water, and it felt like dusk was coming on. There were lots of cruisers sitting on their boats, just watching and experiencing, and an unusual calm filled the air. When the sunlight began to grow brighter, the busy Sunday morning din began again, and the day took hold. It was very fun to be here, even though it was only about a 90% eclipse; we have a few friends who have kids on board who sailed offshore to a place where they could witness the full eclipse ........  how very cool is that!!

Had a wonderful day with Paula and Tom. We started out with a great snorkel near the pass into Cooks Bay. It was crystal clear, and although we dropped anchor in the shallow water between coralheads, we were able to cruise for quite a long time, finding lots of brightly colored fish and coral. It is always so fun to play with friends and share what you find; as we slowed down and just watched, the waters would divulge the hidden treasures. The wonders of the seas never cease to amaze me! 

Tom rented a car and we then toured the whole island, taking the rest of the day to do so. When we have a chance to find internet again, I will share pictures and more details about Moorea. For now, it is time to go to bed and this is way long for a sailmail. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Moorea

After a wonderful evening with Paula and Tom on board for dinner, we took our snorkeling gear with us on Worm and took off for the little village that Paula wanted to see, around the corner next to the Black Pearl Resort. We ventured into town from the beach and watched as Paula shopped......... definitely a sight to behold. She gets so wired from it! It is fun being next to her, watching the animation and excitement take hold. 

After the shopping spree from which I did benefit, we had a really expensive Mai Tai at the Resort to just celebrate as the clouds and wind began to appear. We did a short rather disappointing snorkel in front of the resort and made our way back to Sidewinder for lunch, hoping to adventure out and do more snorkeling in the afternoon. We ended up spending the afternoon just hanging and David befriended the Tahitians on a beautiful Tahitian sailboat in the bay and played music with them, as Paula, Tom and I took a walk. We had fun wandering around looking for a place to have dinner, but were quite tired when it finally happened. 

Today is a tour of the island by car and hopefully we will find a little hiking and snorkeling as we adventure out. It is really delightful having a chance to touch base with great friends. We are trying to get email at the Bali Hai but so far, Tom has been unsuccessful. We will send pics as soon as we can. Love, S.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Moorea w/ Paula and Tom

This is the perfect set-up. After motor-sailing over here from Papeete, we found the Bali Hai in Cook's Bay with Tom waving to us with a mooring line in his hand while swimming with PJ close behind. How very cool is that! We are moored right in front of where they are staying! Paula and I swam and talked non-stop while David and Tom drank beers and visited on Sidewinder; we dropped Worm in the water and dinghied to their little shack, walked down to the little village at the end of the bay and back, and then drove Worm back to Sidewinder and had drinks and dinner. What a fun day and evening with our dear friends! It is so nice to have someone to really talk to and be with. We have met some great people, but it takes time to form solid relationships that grow over time. 

We are in Cook's Bay, in front of the resort, about midway as you go into the bay on the left side. There are some great hikes around here, and the next bay over is where most sailboats go because it is much clearer, so we will have to explore that as well; it is great that we have the dinghy for exploring the unknown. David is snoring in the main salon after barbecuing and eating the perfect ahi dinner, and it is time for us to go to sleep. We will try, tomorrow morning, to send some pictures Tom took today, using their internet service at the hotel. Bye for now :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Meyers Rendez-Vous

We had to do so much stuff to do this morning that we ran out of time for leaving today, so we are leaving the anchorage around 3:30 tomorrow AM so we can make it to Cooks Bay by the eclipse, around 8:20 or so. We need a whole new rollerfurling system on our staysail which, if ordered this next week, should be in after two weeks (with fingers and toes crossed). It was an old, outdated furler, and the bearings gave out after we used it to heave-to last week. It will cost a lot, and we will have to wait for it to come to Tahiti from Australia. 

We will stay in Moorea for about a week and then head back here to see how things are going. After that, we hope to cruise the West and South side of Tahiti before work gets done here. We really hope that it will all happen before Aug 1. This afternoon I may try to find Paula and Tom if I am motivated; the airport is not too far away, and they are staying at the Airport Hotel.

It is now about 9:00 PM and we have just taken a very expensive taxi ride back here after being with Paula and Tom this evening. We hitch-hiked to the airport because public transportation is so poor; we sat and waited for the bus for about a half hour and finally started hitching. Got a ride to the airport and surprised them with leis; they were stoked! Luckily they had no customs problems with our extra stuff. We caught a ride downtown and had a bite to eat and walked around a bit. It was very fun seeing them both, and we really look forward to the next few days with them in Moorea. We will watch the eclipse, and then take off for the island. I tried to send the first part of this message earlier but couldn't get out; hope it's good now. Love, S.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Few More Photos from Fakarava Atoll


We dinghed to and back from Papeete downtown, which was a wonderful way to begin our exploration of the city. It reminds me of Honolulu but a bit mellower, with French cars driving slowly, even stopping with smiling faces, to let you go across on the crosswalk. While walking the main boulevard, I looked around, glancing up past the buildings to the majestic mountains leading inland, and picked a plumeria flower for my hair as all the women here do. David and I visited the big Nautica Sport shop to see what they could do about our staysail furling system that is fouled. We also visited ACE Hardware on the way back and we spent about $300 in 3 hours.  We ate Chinese Tahitian food in the town square after a brief 30 minutes at the internet cafe we found. It was a great people-watching place and we both were in awe of how many people helped us with such generous attitudes- pretty impressive for a city. On the way home we ran into a reef due to poor navigation assumptions on my part, but luckily the damage was not bad; it was just a rude awakening for us both riding the channel at night. We are home on Sidewinder now listening to some pretty good live music at the restaurant by the dinghy dock, and here we are, in Tahiti. WOW! 

15 Photos

Papeete is a great city! These pics are from the Marquesas and the Tuamotus, mostly people shots trying to capture the essence of what we have been experiencing......just a little. After we explore Moorea with Paula and Tom, we will come back to Papeete and tour a bit of the island also. There is a lot to see, and we have some roller furling items that are being sent to us.  -Suzi 
Anahoe Bay


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back to Civilization

After a very wet, rather uncomfortable night of heaving to, we began motoring toward the Papeete harbor around 4 AM, and arrived inside around 9AM. Turning right, we glided between the red and green markers down the lagoon, past the airport, and beyond to the marina, where we were elated to find many friends we had not seen for a while. How wonderful the cruising world is, full of many interesting traveling, helpful people who are enjoying the part of life. We drank 2-for-1 beers this evening and had a fabulous seafood pizza with Steve and Derusha from sv Scream, reflecting on all of our adventures and insights gained over the last two months since we last saw one another in the Galapagos. Time to go to bed.

It is now morning and we just returned from taking our propane tank to the Mobil station to have it filled. We stopped at the little marina market that seems to have everything anyone could possibly want! WOW! Culture shock! The gas station has a Stop N Go little market as well, and as we walked along the very busy street full of traffic and noise, we fully realized how immediately we have found ourselves right back in the "modern" consumer world. I will send this now so you will know we did indeed arrive safely and I will begin the quest of finding out how to get access to the internet. Love, Suzi 

PS The yachting world is focused on watching the world cup semi-finals right now; the competition between Germany and Spain is very much alive!

PS from Kris: The yacht club they are visiting is at 17 degrees 35'10" S 149 degrees, 36' 57" W on Google Earth. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Made it to Tahiti

From an email sent by David to Darrell: 
We are about 20 miles away from Papeete after a 2 1/2 day crossing from Fakarava, but we are going to heave to for the night because we don't want to enter in the dark: not a good idea if you can avoid it since the channel heading up to the marina we will be anchored in front of is littered with coral heads. They are marked, but not with lighted posts, and navigating with GPS and radar isn't all that much fun. Our charts are spot on, but in tight quarters it still gets hairy calling positions back and forth from the nav station to the helm. Wish we had one of those big chart plotters at the helm but that will have to wait for Christmas. 
Our time in the Tuamotos was great but the last four days we were hunkered down with 20-30 knt. winds blasting us pretty much full time. So the first break we got we headed for Tahiti as we have to be in Moorea by the 10th to meet up with some friends. Hey I have to go: there is a huge squall heading our way, and I have to get the spinnaker pole down. Tell everyone Hi and maybe we will get some internet here so we can send some photos.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Escape from the Lagoon

After a morning of David changing the secondary fuel filter, Dave, from Soggy Paws, the one who really helped us fix our refrigeration system, helped David also, walking through the bleeding of the fuel system which ended up being the easiest part of the whole procedure. Each diesel engine bleeds the fuel system of air a little bit different, and since Dave's boat Soggy Paws has a Perkins engine also, it was great to get his input. 

So after raising anchor one more time, we headed out to exit the pass, running the engine hard to make sure whatever was wrong with it during our first attempt to leave had been fixed. It all worked great, so we entered the pass entrance and all that it had to send out way. The tide was still going out, so we were getting a big shove from behind which is helpful, but when this current hits the incoming waves it can stand them up and double their size. Thankfully we hit a lull in the swell so though a bit rocky and rolly, the exit was a no brainer. But just as we got through the pass we got hit by a squall with 25 knt. winds and lots of rain. Great way to be greeted by the wide open ocean, but it was still good to be out of the lagoon where we could relax a bit knowing there weren't any coral heads lurking out there waiting to take a bite out of our keel. 

We are now heading down wind towards Papeete hoping to arrive tomorrow late afternoon before we lose the light and have to go through yet another pass in the dark. Wish us luck!!!  Our current coordinates are 16 degrees 51 mins. South, 147 degrees 01 mins. West

By the way, Suzi and I want to wish everyone a happy 4th of July!!! Wish we were there to watch the fireworks and socialize with the crew; it will be a quiet one for us, I HOPE!!!  Oh I almost forgot, my tattoo is a band around my right ankle that gives power as per Polynesian lore. In the back running down towards my heel are two curved lines that look like the band is tied together. Very cool!! 
Love & kisses,  David & Suzi

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tropical Angst

It is surprisingly easy pulling up the anchor, and off we motor to join Savannah and Alexis at the pass to head out for Tahiti during slack tide. The wind is still pushing strong against us as David, on the bow, points to the direction Sidewinder needs to go in order to avoid lethal coral heads, and we weave our way through the shallow reef [lagoon?]. As I try to increase our speed beyond 1600 RPM's, there is no increase in power, and we continue to creep forward slowly; both David and I look at each other and immediately are concerned. We are not even at the pass yet, and the current and waves are incredibly strong when going out. Savannah takes off and successfully makes it to the outside sea, Alexis follows, and we quickly turn around, maneuvering our way back through the coral to our previous secure anchorage. Disappointment fills my being and I begin to cry. 

We drop hook once again near Soggy Paws and wait for the wind to help us set. Calls from cruiser friends come in on the VHF radio, wanting to know how they can help us, and we sit for a minute to get beyond our frustrated state. The engine does rev up to 3,000 RPM without a load, and the new problem-solving episode begins. PHEW!!! Once again we untie Worm, attach the spinnaker halyard to his bow line, lower him down to the water, load him up with fuel tank, seat, anchor, and finally the heavy 15HP Yamaha engine, lowered down with the pulley, and he is ready to rock n roll once again. As David thinks, I dive in the water with mask, snorkel, and fins, first checking out the anchor and then head for the beach. 

The swim helps give me a new perspective; the water is delightfully refreshing and clear as I near the shoreline. my feet feel the peaceful, pristine, pink sand beach, palms sway in the breeze and warm sunshine fills my core. I take a deep breath and know that life is certainly not so bad. David makes his way into shore, ties Worm to a palm tree and we walk the sand beach for a while. After a Friday night tequila and dinner, David, with his headlight on, changes one fuel filter from the Filter Boss system, cleans the horribly grungy clogged air filter on the engine (which could actually be the problem) and  is now looking for any possible leaks in the fuel lines. And I ........... have stopped whining, know I am so lucky David is here with me, and am thankful we noticed a problem before entering the gnarly pass. Tomorrow is another beautiful day in paradise.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Still Blowing

Woke up this morning hoping the weather had changed in our favor, but there are still squalls out there passing our way, along with 15-20 kt. winds. We would be on our way today, but from the reports of other vessels out there on the high seas, the seas are huge (12-15 ft.) and would be knocking us around a bit.    Sooooooo, we wait for a while longer. 

Luckily we had a wonderful sunny window of time to snorkel in the pass yesterday with Bambi and Geoff from Alexis, while Mike and Jodi dove with their tanks. It was very fun being swept slowly by the incoming current while watching the colorful coral and fish go by. I am blown away by the intense orange, yellow, purple, shades of tan, and green coral of so many varieties abundant with nature' s amazing patterns and designs on tropical fish of all sizes. Even the parrot fish are each a different array of bright colors along with the huge clams embedded in the coral heads, each with their own vibrant spotted turquoise, purple, or deep blue inner bodies, attracting whatever food they need for survival. WOW!!!! It all makes me want to find a place in the Society Islands to get certified so I can stay down and just absorb this incredible underwater world of color and life. 

We floated with our trusty dinghy, Worm, all the way to Alexis, anchored on the east side of the pass, and we visited with them for a while before they pulled anchor and headed 6 miles north with Savannah for a more sheltered anchorage. It was very fun being with them again. We will spend today patching a few leaks we have found and changing the oil, and we intend to do some more exploring this afternoon on the motu we are anchored behind; on the outside there are waves which are not so inviting right now, given the crazy weather; another round of snorkeling is also on the schedule. Pray for mellow weather that will wisk us to Tahiti without worry......ahhhhhh!