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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.  

July 28, 2008
Position: S13 14.90 W163 06.71 Suworrow (Suvorov) Atoll, Cook Islands (Northern Group). (Suvorov is the name of the Russian expedition ship that discovered the atoll and the name they gave the atoll. It has since been renamed Suworrow by the Cook Islanders.)

June27
Suworrow (Suvorov) beach

Well, mis amigos, after firing the Thursday early morning VofE into space we enjoyed another calm and sunny day at sea. The day was routine with watch changes, engine room checks, great meals and conversation. This was suddenly interrupted just before sundown when the right rigger went off. (fish speak) The right outrigger (right as you look aft) extends the artificial bait away from the boat into more calm water (less wake) making it more visible to our fishy friends. The swabs take turns with fish. When a swab picks up a rod with a fish on, their turn is over whether the fish is landed or not. So now the reel drag is screaming as the fish pulls line off the reel at an alarming rate while Egret is still making 6.8 knots and the fish is trying its best to be somewhere else. Next Up swab is sound asleep up forward. After canceling navigation, reducing speed to dead idle YT went below and yelled for NU (next up) to get up. He did. He staggered up the stairs thinking "it can't be time for watch YET", next he was thinking it was time for dinner, THEN he realized what was going on. NU went from sleepy head to wide open throttle in a nano second. YT went to the flybridge to give chase, NU was trying to reel before putting on the gimbal belt (a device that attaches across your lap with a belt that receives the base of the rod and spreads the rod load over its surface) so had the rod base shoved into his stuff and the predictable toes turned inward/heels outward trying to relieve the pain. Fortunately for the stuff and unfortunately for NU the fish got off. We never did see it but knew it was large.

Five minutes later and before retelling the story slowed down the right rigger went off again. This time it was RF's turn (rookie fisherman). So there he stood frozen, staining himself trying to sort thru three different folks' advise/commands. We got the boat slowed down, Mary got the gimbal belt on and RF went to work. The fish pulled a lot of drag, turn left and ran across the back of the boat, THEN turned and ran toward the boat. By now YT was in the flybridge and both Mary and the other swab were telling RF to REEL, REEL!! RF reeled like his young life depended on it. In the end the fish jumped near the boat and spit the hook. It was a 35lb swordfish. This was a first for me. Swordfish are nocturnal feeders that feed very deep, primarily on squid. Down deep it is quite cold so swordfish often lay on the surface or near the surface during the day getting all warm and toasty before heading down for dinner after dark. It is not often they snap on a surface bait.

So now RF's adrenaline has transferred to his jaws and the story of what we ALL just saw goes on and on. Great fun for all and someting the swabs will never forget.

It is just after daybreak Friday. Arrival in Suvorov day (27.37nm to the offshore waypoint). What will today bring? None of us can wait to find out.

First of all, the atoll appeared as a bunch of dots (motus) on radar. One of the swabs spotted the rusty remains of a freighter who had a bit of bad luck and drove straight on to the reef. Anchorage Island, the largest motu appeared. Anchorage Island is about 3/4nm long and less than 1/4 mile wide covered with coconut trees. Its highest land is less than 5' above sea level. The current rip at the entrance was in full swing with smallish current waves extending a mile or so offshore. We could smell fish. In the end it wasn't fish, it must have been the swabs because we didn't have a single bite. The entrance is straight forward if you have patience to wait a bit then it opens up and has no hazards. It does help to be in a flybridge and have the sun overhead. We dropped the anchor in 26' of white sand and mixed coral heads, the best we could find after scouting around. We were the 12th boat in the harbor. Three had left that morning ( we heard them saying their goodbyes on the VHF). Going ashore to check in we met the two Cook Island caretakers, Veronica and John and their five kids. Typical of laid back island folks they were super friendly and answered all our many questions. It is hard to believe that we are here after reading about Suvorov (Suworrow) Atoll after all these years.

Saturday AM just after daylight. YT was up and making coffee for MS. (YT - Yours Truly & MS - My Sweetie for you newbies to VofE.) We decided to drop a heavy fishing jig down where the bad boys live near the bottom while the water was heating. WOW!! Something big snapped and pulled a ton of drag before the hook pulled. Moments later fisher swab joined the fishing. Fisher swab soon had a 40lb snapper aboard (later defined as an empress snapper). Minutes later I pulled in a fat little grouper. This commotion got RF swab out of bed and he joined the fishing. Soon he caught a grouper and a couple black jacks (similar to a giant trevelley). Fisher swab caught a black jack then small sharks moved in and three of them ate the next fish. We quit for the day. The swabs took the fish ashore (you are not allowed to clean fish in the anchorage to keep sharks to a minimum) for cleaning. Now we have two 1 gal zip lock bags full of fish we'll donate to the caretakers. So our time in Suvorov begins. Not bad mis amigos. I think we are going to like this place.

Later we circumnavigated half the island on foot. The shallow water was full of small sharks, parrot fish as well as typical reef fish. Sea birds nest on the island so we worked the camera motor drive hard taking pictures. The caretakers turned down our fish ("it would spoil their afternoon fun") so now we are HAVING to eat fresh snapper and grouper for dinner (ho hum). That is after a lunch of fresh yellowfin tuna (yawn). Hopefully a few more boats will show up we can give fish to and let us keep fishing. N55's New Paige and Myah sent an e-mail this morning announcing their expected arrival Tuesday.

Later Saturday. We caught more fish but not until we found some boats to take them.

Sunday was a boat chores half day for YT. Mary putzed and the swabs took the dink to a nearby high sandy shallow spot to try to find the resident manta rays. Fisher swab went over with his small camera, waterproof to 10', and was able to get pictures of one manta. Even though he knew they were plankton eaters, nevertheless when the manta came up from the deeper water toward him with its 8' wings barely moving AND its mouth wide open he was a bit nervous.

We got a call on the VHF from a nearby British single hander looking for 10 gallons (35 liters) of diesel to fill his tank half way (it is a 25 gallon tank), so he may gravity bleed his injectors of air. We had a full 35 liter jug of fuel so the swabs and I took it over. He was thrilled we would sell him fuel at Papeete duty free price. The reason I even mention this is there is a little story here. The late 70ish (just guessing) Brit single hander has been wandering the world for years in a 37' rusty steel sloop obviously built somewhere in a backyard. His compass is nearly covered with green tape to retain what fluid is left, and the cockpit bulkhead has an assortment of antique instruments that probably don't work. A bit ago he called on the VHF for weather information to get his departure forecast. This lead to the boat returning the call asking if he got his fuel issues sorted. He said he did after he changed his primary filter and the diaphragm on the fuel pump. I suspect it was the fuel filter and seldom or never cleaned tank. He said "most years I change the filter once a year but this year we went a little over". We could sit here and be critical but the bottom line is this curmudgeon is out here seeing the world and living his life. He has chosen not to sit around watching soaps somewhere and wait for the big trip to end. He has the respect of his fellow cruisers as well as their help to keep him going. Later this morning he is off to Pago Pago, American Samoa, our next destination as well.

Sunday afternoon the swabs and YT went fishing nearby. We have now figured out the fishing technique and where the fish hold in this particular part of the world. Like any fishing spot once this is figured out it is repeatable. And it was. We loaded up with nice fat grouper in no time. In the end we got a triple hookup. RF caught the biggest (11 lb -s 5kg). Before leaving to go fishing a nearby boat called on the VHF and said they had a smoker on board and would smoke the fish for everyone in return for some for themselves. Smoking fish on the beach will be a Monday job.

Now we have a dilemma and it is one we didn't anticipate. We have the ability to catch fish at will. It is not right just because we have this ability to fill everyone's freezers with fish that we do just that. We'll back off to supplying fish for pot luck dinners ashore and not take any more. Now the swabs will have to snorkel the shallow reefs to see their fish. Not all that bad. We'll also explore some nearby islands, laze around Anchorage Island and peacefully spend our time here. N55 New Paige and Myah will be here tomorrow, our Swedish sailboat buddies e-mailed this morning and they are on their way plus we have already met four boats here. "Ain't life grand" to quote a cruising buddy. Ciao.

July 24, 2008
Position: S14.20.40 W159 42.45 (199.9nm from our Suvorov Atoll waypoint) (0527AM local - 1527Z)

Note: We had a typo on OMNI Bob's e-mail address. It should be: Ocmarnav@aol.com

June27
Two happy swabs

Well, mis amigos, it is Life At Sea once again. We left Bora Bora harbor Monday morning at O dark 30 running in gentle swells and just a bit of wind. We were hoping to spend a couple days in an offshore island but a grande surf was breaking across the entrance so we decided to pass. Discussing it with the swabs I figured we had about a 50% chance of making it or not. 5% chance of misfortune is not good enough odds for MS and I. So on we went and here we are at 0429 in the morning (local - 1429GMT) with our first waypoint 6.08nm away. We are turning slightly more north of west after rounding this small atoll. (The atoll, Motu One, position is: S15 48.57 W154 31.30 for Goggle Earth fans.)

Last night was a pleasant night at sea with well spaced swells no more than two meters high and less than 10 knots of wind from behind the beam. Sunset was a special treat. We got our first green flash in the Pacific. The flash was the longest lasting and highest flash we have ever seen. Thru polarized glasses it looked blue. If you haven't seen a green flash I'll describe it. Imagine the bright orange sun being dropped into a thick, light lime green syrup on the horizon. The green flash is the splash from the sun being dropped lasting just a second or two. At sea to see a flash it needs to be calm with no clouds. Yup, heading west helps. Later the sky was full of stars and the swabs got an eyeful as well as phosphorescence in the water streaming off the bow wake, a first for both. The swabs stood their first watch (together) from 8:00PM to midnight. Both Mary and I went over their watch duties along with instructions if ANYTHING has changed to get us up. We also have a watch sheet that is filled out each hour, first of all for discipline and secondly to note any trends of changes in temperatures, barometer and so on. I'll read the items across as they appear on the top of the watch sheet: UTC time (we have one pilothouse clock set to UTC-GMT-Zulu), Crew, Latitude, Longitude, Course, Speed, RPM, ER Check (engine room check), Net Amps (draw), Alternator (amps out), Wind Direction, Wind Speed, Barometer. This logbook is a leftover form the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. We made a second logbook for ourselves that also includes engine water temperature and oil pressure plus in addition to Course we also added Heading (for set and drift). The additional safety of using the watch sheet gives an immediate reference to Course/Heading if in the event of GPS or autopilot failure so you may maintain your course by compass while you tend to getting tings back in order.

So far on the trip our course and heading have been within a couple degrees. We are flying at up to 7.0 knots, middle 6's mostly, since leaving Bora Bora running at our fuel stretching 1350 RPM's. We did have one slow period at 5.8 knots. We are running with the South Sub-Tropical Current (.5 knot) and have no opposing wind. As good as it gets...almost. After witnessing the outflow from the last atoll and the birds working the current rip there were sure to be fish around. The swabs are living in a fishing desert so far. We are making such good time we are overrunning this atoll and a chance to fish its outflow. Sorry, guys. What will today bring? Who knows, we'll see in an hour and a bit when the sun makes its appearance behind us.

Well, well, well, if you are patient tings do change. The swabs were on daytime watch around noon when one spotted their first radar target....ever. It was a radar reflector on a pole set over a long line of small buoys disappearing underwater. It appeared to be a purpose set FAD (fish attractant device - yes, this is real - not made up). It did its duty and held tons of fish up and down the food chain. In a watery desert there needs to be a reason for fish to hang out, a current edge, sea mount with water welling from depths bringing the food chain near the surface, OR something natural or artificial floating on the surface holding bait. Our first pass had four good size dolphin (mahi mahi) hit at once with one landed. Next pass, two at once, one landed, next a nice fat yellowfin tuna and our last pass with the freezer maxed out, another nice dolphin. One of the swabs is an excellent fisherman taught by his dad, the other a rookie. Both were thrilled. After catching two of the biggest fish of his life RF (rookie fisherman) was already telling fish stories and his fish were growing within minutes after being filleted. Like the little two year old girl on Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile, turning on the charm and receiving a candy bar from a passerby, and RF telling fish stories after his first real fish. I guess some tings are in our genes.

So we had a great day fishing, calm seas and following wind, a second green flash at sunset in two days (with an accompanying green blink before the flash - first ever), and to top it all off YT's Yellowfin Islamorada for dinner. A very special day. There was one ting that was even more special for Mary and I. The swabs have been with us, sans parents, for just a few days. We mentioned before how they were first wandering around the boat lost without their normal mini bursts of distractions. Now at sea they HAVE to entertain themselves. There isn't any TV, MTV, game boy, internet, no nothing. One swab just finished reading a book required for school that when coming aboard was in his bag to satisfy the parents. We had a talk the day before about simple pleasures. The night before both swabs were outside trying to take a picture of the green flash if it happened. Last night both were out again with their cameras at sunset taking pictures of the setting sun changing the lighting on the clouds every few seconds. They were actually SEEING the sunset. They SAW the beauty. The entire reason for this trip mis amigos.

It is Wed AM well before daybreak. The seas are so oily calm with a bit of swell the radar is sighting birds sitting on the surface 2 miles away. When I come on watch I switch the radar thru its ranges up to 48nm looking ahead for targets. 48nm is a fairy tale with our radar installation height but for the first time we picked up a strong target at 24nm, probably a ship, and a second slightly weaker return at 22nm. Normally it is only high land we pick up at those distances. In calm weather we normally run with the radar set at 12nm but after seeing the FAD we have the radar set at 6nm in case a long distance fishing boat has dropped a number of FADs in this area. Running over one of those deals wouldn't be fun.

We have boosted our RPM to 1450 in order to arrive at Suvorov Atoll with as much light as possible on Friday. Early last night we were running at 7.3-7.6 knots but this morning with the lack of breeze to help push us along our speed has dropped to the 6.6-6.8 range. Most trawlers have a lot of windage and Egret is no exception. Wind aft of the beam gives us a big push and likewise, forward of the beam slows us considerably. It is not often at sea we wish for more wind but yesterday's 6-9 knots from behind would be nice. What will today bring? Who knows but we had a talk with the swabs about fishing. We can only fish when there is room in the freezer or fridge, and not more in the fridge we can eat before it goes bad. Today we'll fish the two big rods spooled with 80lb test and two speed reels to keep time fighting fish down to a minimum should one hit. Tomorrow we'll be within a day of Suvorov so we can pack the fridge(if the fish decide to snap) and give fish away to other cruisers when we arrive but again we'll only fish the two big rods. To miss a safe entrance at Suvorov would mean another night at sea jogging off the entrance waiting for daylight, or in reality, late morning in order to read the bottom on the way to the anchorage.

My how the days pass quickly at sea. It is Thursday morning, O dark 30. We had shrieking wind last night at just under 10 knots from a little W of S. The seas ramped up to at least a meter. Tough duty but we survived and now the anemometer is reading 1.9 knots and the seas have subsided to less than a meter. Oh yes, we had another green flash last night, three in a row. And oh yes again we had fresh fish for dinner. The swabs have settled into their night time watch (8:00-midnight) together and are standing an individual 2 hour watch during the day. They wash dishes when it is their turn along with MS and I. Neither swab has any feelings of nausea. So their life is good and we all are looking forward to landfall Friday morning. Our speed has been above what it needs to be for a mid day landfall so we'll fish the pass before we enter the atoll if we maintain this speed. From what cruisers said who have been there before we should be able to catch enough fish for an anchorage fish fry in short order. We'll see.

Web guru Doug Harlow is on vacation this week so we have a day's delay getting VofE posted. We'll fire this edition into space now on Thurs am to be posted before the weekend. So there you have it. A few more days of Life at Sea. Ciao.

Below is OMNI Bob's weather forecast we have been riding these past days.

Therefore if you are able to arrive in Suwarrow by July 26/late or July 27/am, you should avoid the highest wind/sea conditions that are expected to develop by July 28/am.

Along the direct route to Suwarrow expect:

Mon/21-night: E-NE 05-12kts, Waves 0.5-1.0mtrs. Swells ESE-ENE 1.0-1.5mtrs.

Tue/22: ENE-NE 05-12kts. Waves 0.5-1.0mtrs. Swells E-ENE 1.0-1.5mtrs.

Wed/23: NE-Var 05-12kts. Waves 0.5-1.0mtrs. Swells becoming mixed thru the day, ENE-NE & SW-SSW 1.0-2.0mtrs through Wed/eve-night.

Thu/24: Var to SW-SSW 08-15kts. Waves 0.5-1.0mtrs. Swells tending more SW-SSW 1.5-2.0mtrs thru the day. Some long ENE swells 0.5-1.0mtrs are still possible.

Fri/25: Shifting/becoming SSW-SE 10-18kts. Waves 1.0-1.5mtrs. SW-SSW 1.5-2.0mtrs.

Sat/26: SE-ESE 12-20kts. Waves 1.0-1.5mtrs. Swells SW-SSW 1.5-2.0mtrs.

Please continue with your daily position reports. We will continue to watch and update while enroute. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI

July 20, 2008
Position: S16 29.18 W152 17.77 Just offshore of Maupiti island, French Polynesia

June27
Two beauties

Well, mis amigos, we be dinkin again. Mark from N55 Myah gave us a lift into town where we ordered a new 24 liter (6 gal) Yamaha fuel tank and hose and bought a fuel primer bulb from a local marine store. Just a little over $500 US Pesos. Amazing. The only good news it would be put on a plane in Papeete and be delivered tomorrow (Sat) morning. So as a short primer to those of you who think sinking your dink motor won't happen lets give you a little information so you can help others. By the way, this only applies to two stroke motors and my only experience is with Yamaha engines even though other brands should be similar. Once we had the dink sitting in her boat deck chocks we removed the engine shroud and gave the engine a thourough RO water washdown. This particular engine is a commercial unit (bought in Nassau, Bahamas) that only has two bolts that hold the carberator to the engine (our 8hp Yamaha had 4 nuts that held the carb on). We removed the fuel line, throttle linkage and the two bolts holding the carb on and removed the carb. Next, out came the two spark plugs. We then ran RO water into the intake manifold on the front of the engine where the carb bolts onto. Yes, ran water INTO the engine. Next we ran water into the two spark plug holes. The far majority of water runs out the exhaust. Now we pulled the starting handle time and time again spitting water out the plug holes. Next it was removing the fuel filter from the side of the engine and pouring out the water and blowing it clean. Before we left we sprayed large amounts of Corrosion Block into the intake maniford (front of the engine where the carb bolts up) and into the spark plug holes, pulled the starter rope sloooowly to disperse the Corrosion Block, then let it sit.. Next it was off with Mark to town.

After returning to Egret we removed the 4 phillips head screws from the bottom of the carberator float bowl and cleaned the bowl. Next, removed the float and needle jet (one screw holds it in) and set it aside after wiping it clean. Next removed the removable jet and blew into that hole and again into the hole next to it that also has a jet. Next cleaned the water we blew out of the jets into the main (round) body of the carb. When the carb was spotless and free of water we replaced the jet, float and needle valve and the float bowl. Easy and takes just minutes. Once clean fuel was hooked up (mixed at 25-1* to give the engine extra lubrication even though this is a 100-1* engine (*fuel-oil ratio) we pumped the fuel thru the filter on the side of the engine using a jar to catch the fuel until there was no water droplets coming out. We cleaned the original plugs and reused them, reattached the carb, linkage and fuel line, pulled the choke, gave the engine a little gas in neutral and it started on the third pull. We ran it for 20 seconds (without water) then shut it off and launched the dink. We have been running it ever since and it runs perfect. We'll see in time if we have any electrical gremlins but when the same thing happened to the 8hp Yamaha we never had any residual issues. It does pay to have an extra tank and fuel hose for a small dink. We were out of fuel hoses so we used a water line we used to have for the watermaker overflow, added two Yamaha fuel end fittings we had in stock, an in line fuel filter from stock as well and the fuel priming bulb we bought from the local marine store. It isn't pretty but it works. So it isn't rocket science folks.

We can see your eyes glazing over now and in your heart you know it won't happen to you. But just in case you skipped the two paragraphs maybe give it a peek so, as we said above, you can help someone else. You get the picture. (later....we found the drain plugs to be ruined by 5 years of incidental fuel and oil spillage degrading the rubber and the reason one plug popped out)

Saturday was a rainy day spent putzin, lunch with Myah Mark at Bloody Mary's and a visit to our Swedish friends (in the rain) giving them an unused BBQ grill. Later in the evening the swabs taught us to play Texas holdem, a type of poker. Yup, we took all their chips. Their tears were ruining our Turkish carpet.

Sunday, more rain this morning. We have decided to leave Monday for the small Polynesian Island of Maupiti just 25nm away and on the route to Suvorov Atoll. This is a small atoll with a central mountain and two anchorages. We enter thru a narrow pass with full time current flowing out. One cruising guide says to enter early mornng and the other says to enter at noon. (there are just two tides a day here) We'll see. If the swell is blocking the entrance we'll keep going to Suvorov. Early Google Earth coordinates are S16 29.00 W152 15.00 if you would like to take a peek.

Monday AM. We started Egret's little Lugger at 0215AM, pulled TK from 72' and cleared the entrance to Bora Bora at 0315AM. It was a gentle ride to the entrance of Mautipi, an island ringed by an atoll with a narrow entrance. The tides continually flow out (south) of the entrance. Waves wash over the low atoll in places filling the lagoon so the excess has to go somewhere. And it does.....big time. There were current rips well offshore. At times with heavy weather, not the light seas we have now, the current runs up to 9 knots at the restricted entrance. This morning the breakers were at least 3-4 meters high ACROSS the entrance. We passed, thank you. So, now we are on our way to another atoll in the middle of the Pacific. Our first waypoint is a small uninhabited atoll coming up in 132.6nm then a second waypoint 507.2nm further to a point just offshore of Suvorov Atoll. We have been in constant touch with OMNI Bob (professional weather foreccaster Bob Jones - 866 505-6664 - Ocmrnav@aol.com) who suggested we wait a bit (as we did) before departing Bora Bora. Wouldn't it be great if the weather stayed the same all the way to Suvorov? I'm sure not but we'll see.

The swabs took marezine (over the counter sea sickness pills) last night before bed and are doing well this morning. Soon its bacon and eggs for all.

So there you have it. A few more days in The Life. And now we begin life at sea. Ciao.

 

July 14, 2008
Position: S16 32.02 W151 45.06 SW corner of Bora Bora

June27
Race contestant

Well, mis amigos, ho hum, still in la perle du Pacifique (The pearl of the Pacific), Bora Bora. Yup, its tough duty. We moved from Motu Toopua to an anchorage near the SW side of the island. We sort of made an anchorage by dropping TK into relatively shallow water (12' - 3.5 meters) then setting into deeper water. We're off the main channel and are enjoying the crystal clear water, white sand bottom and no boomies (coral heads). The dinghy ride to town is much closer as well. For all its hype bora Bora is a treat. Like Huahine, Bora Bora is further from Tahiti with fewer people and seems more relaxed. There is a relatively short section of road in the central village with the tourista shops, a good grocery store, banks and so forth. We did not see a single two story building. There are 14 large resorts, 4 small and a few pensions. None are garish glittering monsters but smallish, well thought out resorts with the main buildings tucked into the coconut trees and small individual huts on pilings over the water. Our friends staying in one says their living room table is clear glass with a view to the bottom. All night there are fish swimming thru the lights beneath their hut.

July 14th is Bastille Day (Independence Day) for the French. All the French Polynesian islands had their local celebrations with the multi-island contests held in Papeete, Tahiti. We were alerted by VHF about a parade starting downtown in Bora Bora at 2:00PM. Off we went in the dink with the swabs. The dinghy dock was jammed with cruiser dinks but we found a spot for the CIB (catamaran ice breaker). Even though its dead winter again the only ice we see is in our drinks these days. First everyone suffered thru important folks droning on until the parade started. A number of dignitaries in the stands were nodding off (its universal folks). The parade for the most part was a Chamber of Commerce commercial with private businesses being represented by their employees. Obviously the tourist industry and resort business are king on the island. Special items were the trucks so covered with flowers you couldn't see them and a few, not even the drivers. The fishing club crowd was represented by flower covered boats being towed by flower covered trucks, adorned with flower covered family and friends. One even had their dog on deck with a palm leaf decoration around its neck. Each one had the tail of a long dead fish as its pride and joy representing their fishing skills. What commercialism didn't take away is the warmth and happiness of the people. We took over 500 pictures between us, most of them of people, young and not so young. They and we thoroughly enjoyed the day.

The grand finale was a traditional race for young men, and a few not so young, carrying a log with banana bundles on both ends. There were two full stalks of green bananas on each end along with their flower decorations whose weight was scaled before allowing them to participate. (the next day we saw a barrel of individual bananas in the inspection shed from reducing weight to the minimum allowed) We estimate each log assembly weighed at least 75lbs - 35 kilos, based on picking up a partial assembly the next day. The contestants wore shorts, a few had on more traditional loincloths, were barefoot and shirtless. Most were heavily tattooed in the most beautiful traditional tattoos imaginable. There were about 20 participants lined up at the start. They stood behind the logs for the start, picked them up at a dead run and were off from the white sand parade ground to the street. At the street they ran right for a couple blocks, back to the left for a couple blocks then back to the parade grounds. The winner was WAY out front. Then the rest. All were exhausted and near collapse at the finish. As they reached the finish spotters lifted the logs from their shoulders. Most sports we see on TV the finishers of whatever are all smiles and are celebrating. This group had nothing left, they just staggered off with their friends or family's until they recovered. We were soooo lucky to see this contest, not for TV, tourists, but themselves and fellow islanders.

The next day we were aboard doing boat tings and we heard a hail from outside. Our friends we saw off in Huahine were aboard a dive boat on their way to feed a zillion sharks and rays. We met last night at one of the most famous pub/restaurants on the island, Bloody Mary's. Bloody Mary's is probably the most beautiful, unique places we have been. Near the entrance is a list of rich and famous folks who have been there. The list is a who's who of entertainment and sports folks. The entrance and entire bar and restaurant floor is white sand. It has a traditional thatch roof. Dinner for those who stay for dinner is on ice as you enter. This is what you WILL eat, what they have fresh. Huge pieces of steak and fresh fish. We were lucky to get a seat at the bar for six (the seats were logs buried n the sand). We had a great time and yup, bought tee shirts. Our Swedish friends are coming over tonight for burgers on baguettes but tomorrow night we'll have to give Bloody Mary's another go.

We spent Thur doing final provisioning, the swabs went snorkeling, and we enjoyed Bloody Mary's once again. Early Friday morning YT got up to turn off the malfunctioning freezer and fridge because the batteries were getting low........again. That is an ongoing story that is yet to be resolved. We received the parts to fix the freezer but with no directions and it is not a matter of swapping out parts. You have to know something and I don't. We are working thru that as we can.

After getting up and turning off the battery sucking devices I checked out back. The CIB, el dinko, was upside down. The winds have been puffing all night up to 30 knots so there is a bit of chop. Fortunately we are on a full moon so there was light. It is a long story but thru trial and error and with the swabs help we now have the dink up and down resting on the swim platform with the bow high in the air. Missing are the gas tank and hose, anchor and line, paddles, an oar, one of our large inflatable fenders and assorted small stuff. Not good. We have a spare gas tank but no spare hose. The spare hose and its tank went away with our Zodiac dink in Easter Island. It appears the swim step that was loose in the back of the stbd hull was bouncing around and pulled out the drain plug. Its the only thing we can figure out. The drain plug is one of those snap tight with a small lever. In any case it is what it is. Later this morning (its just daybreak now) we'll refloat the dink and tow it to an anchorage near N55 Maya and see if he will take us to town where we can buy a hose and another gas tank. Then we'll return and get the 30hp 2 stroke Yamaha running. This is the second time we have sunk an outboard. Yup, it happens. Its just one of those bad deals that won't happen to you.......but. There is a small lesson to learn here. We sold our 4 stroke engine for a much less efficient and noisy 2 stroke. In either case had we sunk a 4 stroke it would be REAL bad. A 4 stroke would probably end up a spare anchor.

So there you have it. Real life cruising, the good bad and bloody. Ciao.

 

July 14, 2008
Position: S16 30.55 W151 46.19 Motu Toopua, west side of Bora Bora lagoon, French Polynesian Islands

June27
Friends Kal and Anita leaving and the swabs, Mark and Eric

Well, mis amigos, after enjoying Moorea a few days with our friends we're off to Huahine, one of the northern French Polynesian islands. Egret cleared the Moorea barrier reef at 5:15pm local for the overnight run. We have great weather and have had a great run in 1 meter seas from the ENE (we are traveling NW). It will be daylight in 1 1/2 hours with Huahine in view. With all the boating our friends have done this is their first overnighter. My fishing buddy Kal stepped up to the plate and stood his watch even though earlier he was feeling a bit off.

Let's digress a bit and bring up a subject some of you may be worried about before heading offshore. Sea sickness. This is a real maladie that some never get over. Of this group only those with strong wills go to sea and stay at sea. Two of the most prolific sailboat photo journalists we know fit this group. Their desire to cruise overcomes their early passage blues. However, the majority of us have it easier. Some never or rarely get seasick. YT and MS are not in this group. MS used to get car sick as a child. Our early boating days offshore fishing were tough for her but she stuck in there and today she is fine. These days only after a layoff will she lay down to acclimate for a few hours when first going back to sea. YT used to get seasick as well. I started with the patch for offshore fishing years ago, then started cutting the patch in half and eventually graduating to Sea Bands before not needing anything at all. In our cases time afloat acclimated us to motion. The far majority of this time was spent in small boats. Guests Kal and Anita are going thru that now. Kal used to get green when sailfishing offshore. We would set our baits out on kites or flatlined and drift toward shore going up and down, u&d, u&d, etc. Both now are near the point when seasickness won't be an issue any longer. They have spent their sea time and are adjusting well. Speaking from observation, not medically, it seems some folks get nauseous from apprehension. The last time (fortunately some years ago) I flashed my hash, it was brought on by a sour stomach full of coffee (only) and worry of particularly bad seas...at night. Once that was over I haven't been sick since. Mary's apprehension is far in the background because she now well knows if we keep the water OUT of the boat all is well even if we are not comfortable. If any of you reading this drivel think we are fearless or started boating with iron stomachs you are very mistaken. Our fears and sea sickness have been put to rest by sea miles and education, just as yours will be.

The swabs ('swabs' are from the American classic, Captain Ron), 16 & 18 are adjusting well. They are having a great time snorkeling and now when at sea, watching the baits. They brought enough tackle to fill a small store including two beautiful offshore rods and reels. They are two speed Shimano 50 wide reels spooled with 80lb test line and stiff stand up rods. These will be perfect for the large tuna and perhaps billfish we hope to catch along the way. Already the swabs are helping me loading and launching the dink while Mary is teaching the foredeck anchoring duties. When editing my pictures of the swabs busy on the foredeck I saw one issue we'll bring up. One was taking up the slack on the snubber while the other was spraying the chain with the salt water wash down hose. Snubber swab had the tail of the snubber line wrapped loosely around his feet. Hummmm, lets see. If the keystock on the windlass chain wheel sheared, AND the chain hook was still attached it would be interesting to see if the chain weight would strain a 6'2" teenager thru the anchor pulpit. We'll do a little show and tell later...with pictures.

The parents of one leave later today in Huahine. The swabs will be with us until August 15th (sans parents), departing in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The oldest (my nephew) has just graduated from high school and starts college a couple days after returning. Can you imagine what a life experience this will be for the boys? They will learn navigation, watch standing, basic maintenance, and general boat chores. After Huahine we will do a day hop to Bora Bora for a few days then off on a 600nm+++ trek to Suvorov Atoll, an uninhabited atoll in the Cook Island chain. After a couple weeks in Suvorov its off to American Samoa and will finish our time there. They will get plenty of REAL sea time and plenty of South Pacific adventure while anchored surrounded by coral barrier reefs. The only link to their past are Ipods. They will have no fast food, no soft drinks, no snackie stuff, no internet, no cell phones, no TV, no nuttin but good food, sun and the sea.

And now the sun is just beginning the day. What will today bring?

First of all, no fish. However it did bring a beautiful sunrise and a calm entrance into the channel to the main town on Hauhine. The main town is a one street deal about three blocks long. The focal point is a surprisingly large supermarket. Off we went to the gendarme to check in. The check in was painless as well as removing Kal and Anita from our crew lists. However, they didn't give us any documentation saying two crew were gone even after asking twice. We'll see what happens in Bora Bora when we check out of French Polynesia for American Samoa. Huahine is another spectacular island, ringed by a barrier reef and covered by bright green foliage on the weathered hills. To me the big attraction is the lack of people. The locals live for the most part along the perimeter rim right along the beach. Its nice to see just plain folks with a million dollar view. We chugged for a couple hours along the shoreline at a few knots exploring inside the barrier reef. Here the water is crystal clear. You can see the reef fish around the coral heads from the flybridge. Egret set a first today. First guests delivered to the front door of the resort where K&A are staying by private boat. The swabs got to snorkel a bit before we had to move from the resort and go anchor for the night. One has a small point and shoot camera that is shockproof AND waterproof to 10 feet. In the clear water it is remarkable the quality of pictures of the little reef fish.

Egret departed Huahine at 6:45AM for Bora Bora. I'll just take a minute at 9:58AM to describe our trip so far. The seas are gentle 1 meter swells giving the boat little motion. Looking past the trolling baits from the cockpit is Huahine in the background. To port is the Polynesian island of Raitea, a little to the right of Raitea is the island of Tahaa and in the distance are the twin spires from the mountains in Bora Bora's central lagoon. Not bad for these Florida folks and the swabs. The swabs are having a great time and are getting along like lifelong friends even though they knew each other for a short time before leaving Florida.

After painting a perfect cruising picture tings changed after rounding the corner at Tahaa. Yup, 20+ knots, 3.5 meter swells & chop from the SW-SSW. We bounced a bit and and salt spray coated our pristine, rain washed little white fiberglass home. The swabs crashed, one on the salon seat and the other in the captain's chair. The one laying down said he didn't have a problem (yea, right), the other looked like a basset hound with droopy eyes and a sad look on his face. When we turned the corner (and downsea) on the approach to Bora Bora's inlet both popped back up for duty. There was a large surf along the barrier reef however the inlet itself was clear but with a fair amount of current. Until we cleared the inlet and were in the inner lagoon we ran up the RPM's on the Lugger.

Being late afternoon and dark coming soon we needed a quickie anchorage. The main anchorage off the town is in 90' of water, something we prefer not to do. Anchoring in these islands is different than other places we have been. Here we may set two or three times until we are comfortable with holding, swing and coral heads. TK splashed down in 36' into white sand west of the small narrow island of Toopua, itself west of the main island in the central lagoon. Again it took a while moving around the anchorage to find sand without coral heads sprinkled about. The island has a few native homes scattered along the white sand and coconut tree lined beach. The house across from us has a half dozen boats anchored in the shallow water out front with the owners and families visiting their friends on this winter Sunday. The beach is full of squealing kids playing at water's edge. The hill running down the spine of the island and ending in a tall pointed hill at the end is covered with coconut trees along with bananas and other beautiful green trees. Not bad again. Now we have a dilemma. The sun is lighting up the island, we are a half hour from sunset and MS has just retired to the flybridge with a glass of white while YT is here at the laptop pounding out this drivel. So we have a choice. Drivel or white. Drivel loses, white wins. See ya.

It is a rainy Monday morning. Hopefully the rain will undo the wind driven salt spray and leave our home clean again. One of the swabs was up early fishing off the back of the boat until the rain drove him back inside. It is interesting watching the swabs. In their usual life they are entertained constantly by others or tings. Living aboard is different. We lead a simple life. With the distraction of parents gone they wander around the boat not knowing what to do, however it is not their fault. They are totally out of their normal routine. They will learn to entertain themselves on this trip with simple pleasures. Both are writing daily logs. Again it would be interesting to see how the logs progress as their thoughts change from mini bursts of routine entertainment to seeing and enjoying the simple pleasures we cruisers enjoy such as a salt free boat, sun lighting up an island, sunrise at sea and so on.

So there you have it, another few days in The Life. What will today bring? Whatever we want. Ciao.

 

July 2, 2008
Position: Opunohu Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia S17 30.79 W149 51.10

June27
Rose de Porcelaine (Porcelain Rose) from the open nursery

Well, mis amigos, it is early Tuesday morning, a repeat of Monday with misty rain but with a BIG difference. Water toy boat is gone. WTB has been replaced by a grande water toy boat but a bit more sophisticated. Yesterday afternoon a very large ocean going tug conversion, Axxxxx, pulled into the bay. Axxxxx has to be over 200' and is loaded with tenders, some for young guests and a couple tough long range exploring tenders. With Egret's shallower draft we can tuck into small places the deep draft larger boats can't get close to but with fast long range tenders they can anchor elsewhere and visit the same places. Also yesterday afternoon a small 30ish foot Japanese sailboat pulled into the bay and anchored in front of the Kiwis. We see very few Japanese sailboats out cruising. It would be interesting to talk to them but this morning they were gone.

(Later Axxxxx information) My how tings change. WTB is a piker compared to Axxxxx. After the guests were up, out came the hidden water toys. Seven (7) personal watercrafts, one yellow tow behind banana, one 15' jet boat and a second with ski racks overhead. Looking at the remaining tenders there was a 30' go fast boat with triple monster outboards and on the opposite side was the same but with outdrives. And yet another day boat. Mary and I were in the dink washing Egret when two of the personal watercrafts came racing by with small children in front of the adults. Wake city. I gave one a shout and Gaelic shrug and they behaved. Soon a third came out ripping around. After terrorizing the anchorage he came up all smiley faced and wanted to talk. Before he got started I asked if he was teaching his son to be disrespectful to others and did he know what he was doing was dangerous to us while we were trying to wash the boat? Head down he put putted away. I'm sure he wasn't used to a mere mortal peon giving him the business. Axxxxx is a beautiful go anywhere, anytime, ice rated conversion. What a shame she has sold her soul to childish toys. A sheep in wolf's clothing. I couldn't imagine spending over 200k USP a week chartering and taking that time racing around an anchorage on a toy instead of seeing one of the prettiest islands in the world. Geesh.

(Tue AM early) Axxxxx is gone. Not a person put a foot ashore in two days. Amazing.

Monday was a special, special day. Finally we got to see the real Polynesia we all envision as paradise found. To us Papeete, Tahiti is a busy transfer port whose time for paradise is over. Inland Tahiti away from the coast is still beautiful and mostly unspoiled. Moorea is the Real Deal. Moorea is shaped like a triangle with rounded corners surrounded by a barrier reef. The point of the triangle faces south. The northern flat side has two deep bays cut into the interior separated by 899 meter Mt Rotui in the center. The two bays are, Opunohu Bay where Egret is anchored and Cook Bay to the east. The outside rim is the southern half of a long extinct volcano. The semi circular less steep inland valley slopes are rich with fruit and vegetable farms.

At the head of Opunohu Bay is a road that leads inland up to an overlook from where you can see both bays. We anchored the dink just off the beach using a stern anchor and tied the painter to a coconut tree. Hidden in the brush was a dugout canoe in with a small curved tree for its outrigger. Nearby was a second. Both were in working condition but not used for the tourist industry. Simply old time local transportation. What a treasure. Along the valley road leading inland were a number of French government agency buildings all dealing with environmental and land use. The crown jewel was a farm used in vocational training for islanders. Lured by a sign in French and English announcing free farm tours in we went. At the juice bar we were given a folding 'trip tik' for a self guided tour. Off we went on a looong walk thru the valley farm. The largest section was dedicated to pineapples growing in large silver patches up and down the hills. The pineapple plantings were at different times with the fruit in various stages of growth. Additionally they had avocado trees, mango, papaya, lime, passion fruit, grapefruit, and bananas plus a couple fruits we probably missed. There were small sections for livestock with goats, cows and pigs scattered along the farm road. There was also a large nursery section with open growth and shade houses. This has to be one of the prettiest farms in the world set inside the spectacular, heavily weathered volcano outer rim of Moorea. You could almost see fruit growing in the dark brown/orange soil. After walking up, down and around the farm by the time we got back to the juice bar we were parched sooooooo we bellied up to the bar for ice cream, fruit drinks and a bottle of water. They also had whole bean coffee grown on the farm so we bought a bag as well. Almost forgot, a jar of papaya jelly. After leaving the fruit bar we well understand capitalism is alive and well in Moorea.

The road leading up to the overlook is 1 1/2 lanes wide and is a natural garden of exotic trees and flowers. It even out did Mangareva in the Gambier Islands. Near the top we met the Kiwis on their way down. We told them not to miss the farm and they in turn told us the road ended not far up the hill...yes. The overlook was as advertised but we found a trail that lead higher for even better views and away from the few touristas. Like other places we have been we sat a while drinking it all in trying not to forget what we were seeing. Quality cameras have their place and this was one. Between us we took over 250 pictures. It will be tough to whittle them down to a reasonable number. It will be tougher to shrink those we keep to forward to Jenny Stern at PAE to have posted on the website. She in turn will have to pick and choose. What helps is we are now able to add captions to pictures so viewers have an idea of what they are seeing beside another pretty picture. Mary took today's pictures. Another memorable day in The Life.

Yesterday (Tue) afternoon after the showers went away we took a dinghy ride out of the bay. Just around the corner is a city of boats anchored in the shallow clear water. Access to wifi did the trick. The sandy beach across the way is one of the few sandy beaches in the Society Islands. This beach was the location where they filmed The Bounty with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in 1983. We stopped by several boats we knew and in conversation found a large group of American boats have gathered next door in Cooks Bay for a 4th of July celebration. So this morning we too will pull anchor, anchor for a bit in the shallow water and dive on the bottom to see what's happening, then will join the other Americans in Cooks Bay. Friday we'll move back to Papeete and final provision before our friends arrive on Monday.

Have a nice Independence Day. Ciao

 

 

 

 

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