2010-04-April 2010

Passage Notes continued...

On day 16 a pod of bottlenose dolphins surrounded us and played in our bow wave, they were breaching, jumping and flipping. They seemed to be having so much fun. They stayed with our boat for 4 hours!! We enjoyed their company, apart from them, we saw 2 other boats the first few days and nothing else the rest of the time.

On day 18 the wind totally died, we had 3 to 7 knots,the spinnaker was barely flying so we decided that now would be a good time to motor. We motored the rest of the way to Fatu Hiva.

On day 19 we arrived but it was still dark, so we drifted around for around 1 hour while we cleaned the boat. At first light we motored into the anchorage. Yipee we are here!!!

A few issues that we experienced during the passage:

#1 Chafe. It was rough going for a long while as the waves were coming at us across our beam for days on end, so we were doing alot of sideways motion. Our reef line #1 chafed through, our reef line #2 almost chafed through. Fortunately, our kids have small hands. Both Ryan and Andrea gave it their best to try to rethread the reef line through the cleat inside the boom and we had success. The next line that had a problem with chafe was the spinnaker halyard which was holding up the code zero. After 51 hours of it being up, we took it down to switch to the spinnaker and the halyard was almost all the way chaffed through, it probably only had another 2 hours.

Don't let Chris's smile kid you.....

#2 Shackles. Our spinnaker shackle unclipped while it was at the top of the mast and fell into the water. Had to hoist Chris up the mast to retrieve it.

Our code zero did the same thing 2 days later. We pulled it out of the water and I hoisted Chris up the mast to retreive the halyard. From that point on we tied the halyard to the sail and took the shackle off.

The shackle on our bowspirit unclipped while the Code zero was up which meant we had to try to get it down on deck without rolling it up. This is always a feat as the sail is quite large. However we were able to deal with all these issues as they arised.

We had some other minor issues that had to be dealt with during the passage. Actually, I was surprised at how many daily issues we had, however we had amazing weather the whole time. It was sunny and warm during the day and cool at night. There was hardly any rain and only a couple of small squalls. We had a gorgeous full moon, in fact I have never ever seen a moon so big, you could see the craters in it. The moon shone brightly for about 15 days of our passage, we also had a clear view of millions of stars each night. And I happened to see a falling star one night on my watch.

I read an article in a New Zealand magazine by an Indian solo circumnavigator and I've taken his mantra to heart. When you have this perspective you have a totally different outlook and things that happen just are not a big deal. Here it is:

"There have been plenty of challenges, too many to list. But it also depends what you call a challenge and what is a day's work. If you don't make a big deal out of something it doesn't amount to anything."

April 9, 2010

Our first day in French Polynesia -The Bay of Virgins (Hanavave), Fatu Hiva. What a spectaular anchorage, huge green cliffs explode from the water. There are 3 other boats in the anchorage, all of which we had met before in other places. We spent the morning drinking coffee and sleeping. Then we went into shore. There happened to be the Aranui (part cruise ship; part supply ship) in port and this only happens here once a month. So the locals put on a dance and drumming show, plus they displayed their artwork - carved wood sculptures, pearl jewellery, tapa cloth - made from the inside bark of a tree. We are now trying to forget all the Spanish that we learned and are trading our si's with our oui's.

We hiked to the waterfall, it took all of our strength to get up there, we were somewhat vertically challenged after 3 weeks of relative inactivity. We took a few wrong turns which made our hike even longer!! There are no road signs, no signs pointing the way to the waterfall, and no cabs. All the homes seem very neat, the streets are clean.

While we were in Fatu Hiva, we traded for lucious tropical fruit (mangos, pamplemousse, papaya, bananas, breadfruit and coconut) and tapa clothes. The ladies request things like children's toys, perfume and earrings, while the men ask for 22 shells!! I think we did pretty well here:

April 12, 2010 Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia to Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia - 42.91nm

Atuona is famous for having been once home to painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel. We walked into town, very hot. But it was worth it because we found the boulangerie and bought several hot fresh baguettes - nothing better than that.

We rented a jeep and did lots of touring around --this was the scariest ride of my life. After the airport road, the road turns to dirt and for the rest of the ride to Puamau, you are hanging onto the edge of an extremely high cliff while the rental car which you hope has working breaks and good tires drives back and forth through the switchbacks and hairpin turns along the cliff. I was just praying that it wouldn’t start to rain until we got back to Atuona.

We drove on past a few very tiny fishing villages to the town of Puamau on the east coast of the island. Here is the Iipona Archaeological Site, one of the best preserved archaeological sites in French Polynesia. There are five tikis. One of them is called Tiki Takaii, the largest tiki in French Polynesia.

Stopped by the Calvaire Cemetery, perched on a hill overlooking Atuona. Saw Paul Gaugin’s tomb (1903) and Jacques Brel’s grave.

Our last stop was at Taaoa,a large sacred site from long ago.

We are so glad we bought so much food in Panama and stocked up so well. I thought that we had bought too much food but no. It is pretty expensive here for food and drinks and everything else (going out to eat at a restaurant for the five of us? I don’t think so) that we are thankful we have a boat full of provisions to devour.

We walked to the Tehueto petroglyphs. Hidden high up in the Tahauku Valley the path is confusing as it is overgrown. We got a sketch map from the tourist office and found it no problem.

Woke up this morning to the starboard bilge pump spitting out water like a waterfall. We lifted the floor board and there was water all under the engine and the bilge. Thank god the pump was working! We lost our whole port water tank into the bilge. A fitting on the water pump rusted through. Thankfully our man of the hour and captain was able to fix it, haven’t seen anything yet that he has not been able to fix. I sponged out the water with a sponge and a measuring cup and we were able to put the water pump back on and have breakfast.