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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bora Boring? Hardly! Day 82 - 90

Baby Rocket and James & Jess - sv Adamastor

Carden, Carolyne and Morley
We hadn't expected much from Bora Bora. It was simply the destination in which to check out of French Polynesia. We had been told it was just another tourist trappy and expensive location - boring. So far, we have been enjoying it tremendously! And what a beautiful way to wrap up the last moments of French Polynesia!!
Chris - awesome crewman aboard Adamastor

Amber - sv Rockstar
Jeff - sv Rockstar

Jammin' at all ages aboard Hotspur

Werner-sv Thalisse
Cruiser potlucks and game nights are plentiful. The Maikai marina offers free swimming pool privileges, free outdoor showers, free internet, free trash drop-off and free dinghy dock to cruisers. Hotspur has hosted a number of potlucks aboard and we have had memorable times aboard other boats.

Beautiful island girl!

Street side stalls with lovely local fruit and veg

A beautiful local women making jewelry with black pearls

Locals playing really good music beside the shore
We absolutely love it here!


Hiking with friends
Military bunker
Remnants of WWII

Amber taking in the spectacular view

and James, too

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jim's Video - Mexico to Marquesas

Here is a short 3 minute video Jim put together of our crossing to Hiva Oa, Marquesas. I think he did a nice job!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

TAHITI to Moorea, French Polynesia - Day 75 - 81

When weather wouldn't cooperate for sailing away, we stayed a few more days in Tahiti. We checked into renting a car – but no cars available. Thought about taking a bus down to see one of the most awesome surf beaches known to mankind (I would have really LOVED to see one of those muscly surfer dudes ride the pipeline!) - but it rained instead.

Jim took a hike that wasn't too muddy and got some incredible photos! Carolyne and I took a bus into Papeete and looked at some magnificent black pearls at Mihiarii Pearls. I bought one for Carolyne that she picked out with a soft sea-green hue... lovely. It was very fun perusing through all the colors and sizes and shapes. Mihiarii will drill a hole in your pearl for free if you like and you can even pick a setting for it, although the prices were inflated. Carolyne also got herself a "pareo" – basically a sarong – to remember our trip to French Polynesia... not that she could ever forget it!

My nasty head cold has moved on and now we are battling impetigo. We noticed that Carolyne had several sores on her legs that "bloomed" into a worrisome bacterial patch. We jumped on them with rubbing alcohol and triple antibiotic creams. These types of staph infections are common in the tropics, very contagious and we didn't want it to get out of control. Keeping the area clean and treating them once or twice a day seemed to do the trick.

We had hoped to enjoy Bastille Day in Papeete – but the buses weren't running for the entire weekend or on Monday and our 15HP outboard is overheating. We were stuck. So, I worked on a large canvas repair job and modification for another cruiser before we left for Moorea. What a beautiful island! I so wished we had left Tahiti days ago and could spend more time in the various bays in Moorea. It is beyond describing – except to say that it looks exactly like one might imagine when thinking of the South Pacific. It is fairytale beautiful!

In the morning we cut up some of our frozen skipjack that we had in the freezer and dinghied down the very narrow channel (dodging numerous bommies!) to an area where the hotels bring tourists to feed the stingrays. It was a gray day with large clouds threatening rain, so there were very few people there.

We forgot our anchor, so tied off on one of the channel markers and snorkeled over to a shallow area, holding our tupperware full of fish chunks above the water. Numerous black tipped sharks swam around the perimeter... thus, why we had our fish out of the water!

Once we arrived at the spot, we were waist deep and stood on the sandy bottom when 6 or so enormous sting rays swam up to us. I hardly had time to remove the lid off the container before one poked his head out of the water and began to climb on top of me. His table manners were atrocious as he began sucking and slurping – literally slurping! - toward my face. I quickly gave the ray a chunk of fish hoping to satisfy him when all his friends came galloping over to also get some kibble. They almost knocked me over! It was thrilling!

Carolyne also fed the giant beggars – she was wearing a bikini and so really got to experience sting rays slurping at bare skin. They allow you to pet their slick, smooth wings. At times we had to push some of them away because they were crowding and pushing. We had to be very careful to avoid stepping on them – they liked to swirl around our ankles and feet – and we didn't want them to sting us with their very large barbs.

The sharks came in very close but never challenged the rays for food. Instead, they circled or came within a foot of our legs, but waited patiently for a scrap to float by. It is the first time I have ever felt comfortable feeding the sea life during swimming. There was a very large stingray, however, that had a nice bloody bite mark on her face... clearly she had an earlier scuffle with a shark!

Jim took some amazing video – I mean AMAZING! I can't wait to get it downloaded to Youtube so we can share. If you ever get the chance to experience feeding sting rays in Moorea, remember that they like to eat fresh fish. We were told by several others who brought sardines that the rays put their finicky noses in the air and ignored all canned offerings.

For all my complaining of catching nothing but "stinkin' skipjack tuna" in French Polynesia, I am forever grateful to them for an experience of a lifetime! We're going back in the morning for another feeding with some of our cruising friends who have yet to have the privilege.

We hoped for a hike today, but it rained several times during the afternoon and into the evening. Maybe tomorrow. Carolyne and I did dive on some submerged tikis – rumor has it that one of the hotels put them in the water to attract tourists. And I guess the tourists do come... I found a very nice silk headband and buterfly hair clippy that someone lost! And we spotted a tiger reef eel (?) – completely albino white decorated with a scattering of black circles.

Friday shows a good weather window, so we'll probably take off then towards Bora Bora... maybe stopping along the way – or maybe not. What we don't want is to be too far away from Bora Bora when we have to check out of the country on the 24th and then have bad weather - forcing us to sail in unseemly conditions. The French authorities, we have been told, are not flexible when it comes to getting out of their territory on time.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Have a Cold in Paradise and Jim Got Hit by a Car

TAHITI, French Polynesia
Day 68 – 73

I have a cold.
Jim is fine - but he got hit by a car.
This is not what I had in mind.
This is a sarcastic whiny post and I'm not changing it...
but the photos prove it's not ALL bad!

As I write this entry I am reminded of the first few months we were cruising in Mexico. We arrived before Christmas in 2008 and by February of 2009 I was in tears. I told Jim that no matter how hard I tried that I felt isolated and was having trouble connecting with people. We ventured on and by April we met so many wonderful couples and families and single handers, ...
and we had friends with grown children, little and big children and no children at all. It was enchanting – the sea life and the cruiser life.
Carolyne and cruising kids swimming in Tahiti

Cute cruising girls!

Carolyne took this photo in Apataki

Black pearls - only $2,000US

Black pearls - $3,000US

We had so looked forward to Tahiti!
Meeting new people and solving our boat instrument issues...
I wish I could tell you that we are having the time of lives...
that Tahiti is everything we thought it would be...
that we have been going to parties and pot lucks and enjoying hilarious conversations with friends...
that we have connected...
that we found reasonably priced replacement parts for our Raymarine C80...

But that would be a big, fat lie.

I have hesitated writing – hoping that things would change.

Tahiti has been a huge disappointment.
We have wasted days and days... attempting boat repairs.
We started by hiring a repairman to come to the boat and solve our electrical issues, which he couldn't...
taking the bus downtown Papeete multiple days visiting all the chandleries (thrice) and Assytem and Ocean 2000, Ace Hardware...
and we actually did find the exact display that we needed –
just the display and nothing else...
at a price of $4,000US!

I wish I could say that we haven't been so tired and discouraged when we returned to the boat...
that I didn't get sick with a nasty head cold (which has put me in a very snotty mood...haha)...
that we are down to a mere 16 days left in French Polynesia and we have to get to Bora Bora to check out...
without radar...
without a depth sounder...
without wind speed and direction...
and with the loss of all those instruments and our enthusiasm and my constantly honking red chapped nose, we just didn't think that jumping through more hoops to make it to the inconvenient Puddlejump Party (starting downtown Papeete where we're not and ending on the island of Moorea in a crowded anchorage) would be anything more than added stress to the tick-tock-tick-tock of our remaining time here and finding a solution to our instrument problems.

So we continued our search for a remedy to the boat.
And if it isn't already obvious that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time...
Jim gets hit by a car.
You heard me right!
Thankfully, it wasn't serious. But the car hit his leg and he was thrown on top of the hood. The driver was mortified and very remorseful. Luckily, Jim wasn't hurt... the driver had only just accelerated so didn't “collide with him” going very fast. She was very worried and Jim assured her he was okay and he and Carolyne continued their search for boat parts. And then at last...
a Raymarine part, discontinued, new in the box and only $100US. A depth sounder that also gives us wind speed and direction! We still have no radar, but we are partially cured!!

Why didn't we ship the part we needed repaired to the Raymarine facility in Australia you ask? Because French Polynesia has a new regulation requiring one to hire an agent at a cost of roughly $200US... even if your part only costs $20US. That doesn't include the cost of shipping... or the cost of the repair. And there is still the timeline factor... and we are running out of time.

As for me... I had one very fun day in Papeete when I took Carolyne and Cassidy (sv Lil' Explorers) to visit the shops and local amusements. We did have to hit the chandleries first, but after lunchtime we had fun window shopping and visiting the large market. The girls bought little presents for family and we had lunch at a snack van we found along the way.

I also discovered a real self-serve washing machine facility at the marina. The cost is $9US per load, but all of our clothes were clean-clean-clean for a mere $30US.

And another positive note... we did NOT get holed by the large red ketch that broke off its mooring at 2am last night - but hit the bungalows right behind us instead!!
No, I am not kidding!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Finally - Some Photos

 Internet in Papeete is rather expensive and inconvenient so far. But I waste no time... here are some of our pics along the way in the Tuamotus. Thank you to Courage and Shannon on sv Lil' Explorers who contributed to some of the fantastic photos!!

Recreation in paradise for Captain Crankypants

Many buildings extend into the water at the atolls. These are on Toau.

Little girl on Apataki atoll

That brown patch is an unmarked reef - yes, we are sailing by it!

Cassidy and Carolyne with our larger stinkin' skipjack tuna.
We bled this one out really well and he tasted yummy!

Helicopter landed on beach with law enforcement on Toau

Finally - the psychedelic drogue is finished!!

Cassidy and Carolyne crewing aboard sv Lil' Explorers.
Hotspur is the triangle in the foreground.
First view of Toau atoll
Crystal clear water in Toau made for fantastic snorkeling

Jim - laid back

Having to be very careful NOT to hit these!
Carolyne and Cassidy exploring paradise

Lion fish trying to hide under coral

Carolyne and the Lil' Explorers

Giant Clam
Carolyne with our stinkin' skipjack tuna.

Hotspur at anchor among the coral heads in the Apataki atoll

The haul out facility in Apataki

Company coming to visit

Carolyne aboard Lil' Explorers helping to watch for things that might go BOOM! in the water

Common small boat stowage on the atolls

Jim and his coconut conquest