Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Rangiroa 07-June-2016 14* 58.03 S 147* 38.2 W

1130: We are both woken up by the grinding of the snubber on the anchor chain. 

What is a snubber? 

A snubber is an extra line that you run from the anchor chain over to the deck cleat to take the shock load of the chain off the windless.

The wind had picked up and was gusting to 35 knots and we were bucking like a bronco - felt like we were underway again. David was feeling uncomfortable so he decided to put an extra snubber line out. It felt like we had been sleeping for hours but then realized that it was only 1130 and our day was not over.

We climbed back into bed and tried to sleep. Then we heard a Big Bang so David went up on deck again. We keep the dinghy upside down on the deck and the seat and fallen down. Just as he was up there the first snubber line broke. We did not lose the snubber but we did lose the hook! All of the other boats in the anchorage were up and checking their anchors.

David decided to stay up and keep watch. Everyone was worried that their anchor chain could break and might have to move out quick or chance being pushed onto the beach or onto another boat. While David was keeping watch the second snubber line broke, straightening the hook! So he rigged up our third and last snubber! He also started the engine and we opened up the chain locker just in case we were forced to forfeit the anchor and head out. And we got a fender ready to mark the anchor in case we had to come back to retrieve it. I mean the waves were breaking over the bow! 

To this point everyone's anchor is holding but no one is sleeping. I made us some herbal tea and we sat in the cockpit waiting for it to get light. By 0530 I climbed back into bed. David moved onto the settee around 0700. Things settled down enough that we could get back to sleep.

David said this is the first time that he ever had to come up with a plan to unleash the anchor and run!

0930: Winds have finally switched around to the ESE. Seas are still a little rough but everything is holding. The northerly winds are very rare for this part of the Pacific and usually this anchorage is very calm.
Good old El Niño strikes again!

Banana pancakes and bacon for breakfast. We opted to spend the day on the boat to regroup. Seas were still rough enough that we did not feel comfortable leaving the boat at anchor without us on it anyway.

The last 48 hours were not fun and had the potential to be much worse. It is times like these that I so appreciate the experience that David has, preparing for the worse, praying (I was doing that part) for the best, giving me clear instructions on what to do, so I can now add this adventure to my experience! No panic attack! No swearing! We even managed to crack a few jokes!

Anse Amyot to Rangiroa

Anse Amyot to Rangiroa 05-Jun-2016 

We decided to leave for Rangiroa a little early. The winds were lightening up and had changed direction from ENE. Total distance to cover is 94 nm so this would put us at the pass around 0600 the next morning just in time for slack tide.

1020: we released the mooring lines and got underway.

1035: Main is raised with a single reef and the Genoa about 2/3 out. We were averaging about 4 knots - not a bad start to the day. 

Then the first squall appeared on the horizon and heading our way. We furled in the Genoa to 1/3 but when squall hit us we had to furl the Genoa all the way in. David was on the sheets and I was on the helm. Boat speed had increased to 7.7 knots and It was taking all my strength with the help of the Monitor ( wind vane) to stay on course. Now it was time to ease the main - more - more! Okay - now I can ease up on the wheel!

Thank you Paul for the Admiral hat as it is the only one of my hats that stays on in conditions like this. Also the brim is wide enough so it keeps the rain off of my glasses!

The second squall came about an hour later but it did not carry as much punch. We were already down to just the single reefed main so the only adjustment needed was to ease up the main. For you non-boaters - this means letting out the main sheet (line) so the sail has a bit more flexibility with the strong winds and helps to keep the boat from being heeled ( tilted) over too far. This also takes a lot of pressure off of the sail as too much pressure can mean bad things (rips, broken lines, hardware coming off). I was at the helm for this one also but it was not as bad wind strength wise but did bring lots of rain.

1200 Things settled down for a while so I put out some cheese and crackers and peanut butter and crackers. Sure glad we had a good breakfast before we left!

Just got the plate cleaned off and another squall was about to hit us. I was very happy when David asked if I wanted a break. Yes! This one had very little wind in it but it sure had a lot of rain. I could barely see past the bow. It was like driving through a car wash. 

1800: The sun was beginning to set and the skies were opening up. Time to put on some dry clothes and heat up the left over Coq a Vin. Thank goodness the squalls have backed off.

So it looked like we might have a pleasant night! Wrong! The winds started to back into the WNW - unusual direction for this part of the Pacific - which put it right on our nose. And that means bashing in 25 knot winds with 5 foot seas! Visions of our trip to Puerto Vallarta before Christmas were starting to form in my head! With these winds we were only managing 2 - 2.5 knots with the motor on. Does not look like we are going to be at the pass by 0600 as originally planned.

It was a long night being forced to motor sail with a double reefed main! Thank goodness David had decided to put in that extra reef earlier. But we weren't done yet. We lost our Monitor as all this bashing and strong winds added a lot of stress - just like on my arms! The weld gave way on the tabment - the pin that connects the vane or paddle to the rudder on the Monitor.

This meant hand steering as the autopilot had also crapped out earlier in the day. Hand steering in these conditions can be tiring so we opted for two hour watches - barely managing 15 minute cat naps through the night. But at least the skies stayed cleared through the night and no squalls.

Monday 06-June-2016 By 1200 we still had 10 nm to go to the pass and the engine died on us. What is going on?

All the bucking and rolling caused the primary fuel filter to plug up. We were always warned to filter our fuel in Mexico due to a history of dirty
fuel but we never had to and we never had problems with our fuel. But I guess the fuel we picked up in the Marquesas was a little suspect - does not take much dirt to plug up a filter. But Captain fantastic had the problem diagnosed, filter changed and engine back running in less than half an hour! Just a little tense with the reef in site and the seas pushing us closer and closer to it - though in reality - still several miles off! 

This is the reason we run a course line well off the reef.

1530: We are abeam of Tiputa Pass and just in time for the afternoon slack water. So something is working for us. The pass is well marked and we motored through on an inflowing current and into the lagoon of Rangiroa.

1600: we put the anchor down in 35' of water, exhausted but safe.
We both had badly needed showers on deck. Then I made pasta Alfredo with a small salad. Do not ask me where I got the energy to do this. We spent some time putting the boat back in order. I hung all of our wet clothes on the life line.

1900: Bellies are full. Dishes are done. We are in bed! I think we were both sleeping before our heads hit the pillow!

But wait til the next blog! Our adventure was not over!

Final Days in Fakarava and on to Anse Amyot

Final Days on Fakarava and on to Anse Amyot

All plans are written in the sand - as Mother Nature had her way and produced a day full of squalls. There seemed to be a squall every couple of hours and we weren't going anywhere!

David decided to make a last run for water and to off load some garbage. He made it to the beach and then hung out at the Magassen (store) while the next squall hit. I was amazed that he made it back to the boat relatively dry. That rain in the last squall was so heavy that the shoreline disappeared! 

Another interesting event - when we came back down to the north end there were only four boats at anchor. By Thursday there were 20!  Quite a few of them moved down from the south anchorage due to the forecast - that anchorage would not be protected from winds from the north. Several of the boats had also planned to leave by the pass in the south however the seas outside the atoll had been building for several days and as a result there would be no slack tide. The pass on the north end is a lot wider and not so vulnerable to the northern running seas.

I spent the day inside, cleaning and reorganizing the drawers in the galley. I also cleaned off all the rust on the flatware - one of the hazards of washing in saltwater. We rinse in fresh but obviously not enough.

Friday 03-Jun-2016 
At 0620 we released the line to the Mooring buoy. We then put one reef in the main, unfurled the Genoa and motor sailed to the pass in order to charge up all the systems on the boat.

Scrambled eggs with bacon, onion and herbed cream cheese for breakfast along with fresh tangerines.

0725: we ran the pass, with the water looking worse than its' bite. The standing wave in the pass looked a little like the rapids on the St. Mary's River. Only difference is the depth of the water is 50 feet. The water was still ebbing as we went through the pass about a half hour before slack water. With the winds coming from the southeast one can expect the ebb to go on a little longer than predicted.  This is why the current and tide program that we use is called a guesstimator! But it really was a non event.

We headed away from Fakarava on our way to Anse Amyot. We actually had to gybe at one point in order to alter our course to clear the point. 

Clouds on the horizon were starting to look a bit threatening 

so we prepared for the squall that looked to be heading our way. Rain gear is accessible. Genoa is fueled in. Eased the main - it already had one reef in. All port holes and hatches are closed. I have a bathing sit on so no need for rain gear. And we wait. And wait. And wait. The rain finally came but only for about ten minutes. There were a few weird puffs of wind but no real change in wind direction or strength. From the picture you can see how threatening it looks but the reality for this one anyway was that it was a non event. The thing is - you can never tell. So we always prepare on the side of caution. If nothing else it makes for good practice.

I keep talking about squalls and why are we seeing so many of them? First of all a squall is caused by a downdraft of wind from a cloud with a large vertical development. These are usually the big puffy cumulonimbus clouds. 

The wind usually runs ahead of the movement of the clouds so along with the visual you will usually experience a drop in temperature and an increase in wind before the rain starts. They may come with or without wind depending on the force of the downdraft and this wind may cause a complete change in direction from the course you are steering. How severe they get can sometimes be predicted by the darkness of the clouds and the sharpness in the demarcation line at the bottom of the cloud. 

As you can see in the photo - this one had the potential to be a bad one! But sometimes the squall uses up all of its energy before it hits you and the effect on us is minimal. In this case we ended up with no wind and just a little bit of rain. The worst is when they happen at night for your only warning is that increase in wind and drop in temperature and the disappearance of the stars. At night, especially with no moon, you have a lot less warning and can get caught off guard. This is why we always sail conservatively at night with at least one reef in the main and the Genoa partly or completely furled in. 

These squalls can last for a few minutes to several hours. As I said before - we have been lucky so far - most of them have missed us completely or petered out by the time they reach us. The couple that have been challenging were short lived! And the reason we are seeing so many of them is due to El Niño and the increase in water temperature.

As our day progressed so did our wind speed. This was largely due to a gradual change in wind direction. We started out on a broad reach with the wind coming on our starboard quarter - about 150* angle from the bow of the boat. Then it came around and we were on a beam reach with the wind at a 90* angle from the bow and ended up close hauled with the wind at 45*. With each change our speed increased from 4 to 5 to 6 knots. Not a bad sailing day.

As we approached the entrance to the anchorage David noticed that the GPS was slightly off from the reality of the situation. This is a good argument for not entering passes in the dark!  Anse Amyot isn't actually a pass but rather an indentation into the motu on the atoll. 

The entrance is well marked with red and green buoys - remember green is kept on the starboard side when entering (opposite to the North American system) and two large white range markers. You move across the entrance until the two range markers line up, then  you turn into the channel.

Position: 15* 48' S 146* 9.1' W .

There was a good current coming out of the pass but no standing wave. We had timed it well for high slack water. We picked up a mooring buoy - I should say David picked up the mooring buoy while I steered.

We just got settled in when the winds started to pick up to 20 knots, gusting to 30. We just got in in time as the wind continued to blow over 30 knots all night but we were protected from the reef. Lots of rain!

One can never be sure of the holding power of these mooring buoys - depends on how they are secured and how well they are maintained. And we were only in 17 feet of water and relatively close to the reef. David was up and down most of the night checking our holding and making sure we had not dragged. Our position held through the night.

We heard that several boats got caught in these conditions overnight - news from the radio net. Weather forecast has the winds continuing through the next day so decided to start an extra night. But David had me start up the boat and come up on the mooring buoy so he could put on an extra larger diameter line. Maybe he will sleep better.

It was unfortunate that the weather was so disagreeable while we were here. Gaston and Valentina maintain the buoys for a $5 fee and will also put on a $30 dinner for you (sometimes lobster or roasted pig or whatever was caught that day) if you book ahead. If you have dinner then they waive the mooring fee. But the conditions were too unsettling to put the dinghy in the water and go to shore. They didn't even bother to come out to pick up their fee. This site is also supposed to be very good for snorkeling - no Sharks! But I guess we will just have to read about it!

But it sure was pretty for those few hours when it did clear.

I knew that we were going to have an overnight passage to the next atoll so I made some French Onion Soup and Coq a Vin - this is French Polynesia after all and what they do have plenty of is onions, chicken, potatoes, carrots, inexpensive Swiss cheese and expensive wine (though we still had some from Mexico) and baguettes!

The night settled down and we were able to get a good nights sleep.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fakarava in the Tuomotus - South Anchorage

Fakarava in the Tuomtus: South Anchorage
We stayed on the hook for the night. In the morning a mooring buoy became available so we decided to pull up anchor and move onto it. It took some maneuvering again to get the anchor up with me on the helm and David working the windless up and down (releasing and bringing up chain) and directing me but we finally came free. The water is so clear that it was easy to see where the anchor chain was laying.

We took the dinghy over to the pass. With Bob and Judy (Kilabilu) for a snorkel. I got some footage on the GoPro. The current was just starting to flood, the best time to snorkel. You sure would not want to be in the pass during the ebb as it could take you right out to the open water! But with the flood you just kind of fly through the water - no real swimming required until we were 3/4 of the way back to the boat. There were lots of fish, a few black tipped sharks and some beautiful coral. It was so much fun and the site so good for snorkeling that we decided to stay for a couple of days and do it again.

The south pass is just off the town of Tetamu - the siteof the old Capitol. There is a dive shop there and a few cabins to rent but otherwise it was mostly deserted. Exception: the old church with the coral and shell alter had been refurbished and was beautiful.

Back to the boat for a bit more polishing of stainless - an endless job on our boat! But I do love it - therapeutic and satisfying. More snorkeling and traipsing around the motus. It is pretty neat seeing the ocean waves break on the oceanside and the calm on the lagoon side.

Just had our evening entertainment. The water was calm and then it started bubbling like a pot of boiling water. I got the flashlight out and you could see hundreds of small pink fish resembling snapper jumping all over the place. Then my light caught the movement of a black tipped shark and was he ever moving! Just like jaws! I guess it was dinner time - just after the sun set. No time for swimming. But I guess that is why the Sharks do not bother the snorkels - just too much of their preferred food around.

Sitting in the cockpit looking at the starlit night. The Big Dipper is getting lower and lower in the northern sky with the bottom of the bucket almost on the horizon.  Orion is also sitting pretty low with his left foot also on the horizon. I wonder at what latitude they both disappear from site?

Sunday and the day started out cloudy with a bit of rain. Slack water was not til 1430 so we were hoping that it would clear up by then. We decided to head over to the dive shop a little early so that we could get on the internet only to find out that the Internet was down. We were lucky to get through yesterday - even managing a few Skype calls. David got to talk to his sister Susan and the grandkids in Australia. I got to talk to my sister Susan for a short while before we got cut off. It was nice to hear her voice though it always makes me miss her more. 

So we sat around watching the fish around the dock - like looking into an aquarium! Al and Patricia (Nauti Nauti) and Cliff and Mary Ann (Corola) showed up to snorkel the pass. We were the experienced of the group so ended up leading the pack. It is always nice to do some of these snorkels with someone who has done it - for the first time anyway. In this particular pass you have to be aware of the currents or you could get swept out to sea!! David and I basically snorkels back to our boat - more water flying! There seemed to be a lot more fish today, including Sharks! I stopped counting at 20.

I just found out that this is the breeding grounds for a lot of Sharks starting sometime this month. I cannot imagine what it would be like at that time. I think I would not want to be in the water at that time.

Barbequed hamburgers with east coast chow chow ( green tomato relish) and warm German potato salad for dinner.

Monday, 30-May-2016 

0811 we unleashed from the mooring ball and headed north and back to the town of Roatava where Armon will get his flight to Tahiti. We motor sailed for the first hour. Or so with just the Genoa out. Closer to noon the winds picked up and we were able to turn the motor off and sail all the way 25 nm to the north end. 

We averaged 5 knots with the sun out - another beautiful day of sailing.

It is still a novelty for me to pick up the anchor, set our course, set our sails and not touch the motor for the rest of the day! What a treat!!,!

Starting to think about dinner. With the lack of fresh vegetables it is getting a little difficult to come up with some interesting things to make for dinner. I found a third of a bag of frozen broccoli when I cleaned out the freezer, some chicken stock and tortellini so I will make my version of Italian chicken soup.

Which brings me to another bit of marine trivia.

Pease porridge hot.
Pease porridge cold.
Pease porridge in the pot nine days old.

Ever wonder where this came from?

Well captain Cook had a reputation for keeping his crew healthy and preventing scurvy. He worked with the Navy to come up with food to have on board to assist with this. They loaded the Endeavour with a portable soup consisting of mixed vegetables, liver, kidneys, heart and other internal organ meats and boiled it to a pulp. It was then hardened into slabs to be dissolved in oatmeal or a pudding of boiled peas! And this was called pease - no that is not mispelt!

We arrived just in time to pick up the mooring buoy that Belvany had just vacated. We were happy not to have to drop the anchor.

Into town to pick up a few provisions and the off to La Pailotte for an early dinner. We had a gal let with curried. Hi Ken - type of crepe made from a special brown flower that comes from England.

What a beautiful setting for a restaurant. It is run by two sisters from France, Isabelle and Florence.

Here I am enjoying some mango and passion fruit gelato after dinner and a swim.

Yes this is a slice of paradise.

Bonus - a local fisherman just came in with fresh tuna and sold us one kilo for $12. Guess what we are having for dinner tomorrow? And another 
local came by with some yellow watermelon.

Next day we picked up some more provisions and brought  in some laundry to yacht services. The tuna for dinner was excellent.

Wednesday morning and the supply ship came in. One last trip to see what fresh goodies arrived. I scored big time with tangerines, pears, grapes, lettuce, fresh ginger, basil, carrots and cabbage. Tonight we will enjoy some Thai chicken wings with a big stir fry of fresh vegetables.

Armon is on his way to the airport. David and I will leave tomorrow - time depending on the tides! And in to the next atoll.