Society Islands

Society Islands

Image003So, where have Todd and Ellen been? In a nutshell, we’ve been having great sailing, fun adventures and haven’t been near an internet caf√© for quite a while. We still aren’t near internet access. Believe it, or not, but there are some places in the world that the internet hasn’t invaded. Aitutaki Island is one of those places. The reason is as mundane as a phone company monopoly and high long distance rates. So, while we cannot yet check our email, sorry if our box is full, we are able to send a trip log out.

We haven’t written since Moorea. We are now about 500 miles further West and have visited four more islands.

At Moorea we discovered the convenience of a reliable outboard. In this gorgeous spot, our outboard was sick and finally died.

The planned activity for the¬†morning was snorkeling with the rays. Our friends, Nancy and Tom of Equinox, were going also. Gosh, the rays are about three miles away, we’d better get the outboard working. Todd opened it up, fixed some broken springs, put it back together with a little help from your’s truly, and it was running like a champ. We packed a gear bag: snorkels, masks, sunscreen, munchies.

“Should I throw in the handheld radio?” asks Todd.

“Sure, why not?” I answered.

And away we went. Mandolin was on the east side of the pass of Opunohu Bay and the snorkel spot was a few miles west of the pass. The wind and swell was out of the east and the pass was a bit lumpy. “We’re going to be bashing into it on the way back,” I thought. On the other side of the pass, behind the reef in beautiful turquoise water once again, five foot high posts marked the dinghy channel. While we connected the dots, several tour boats from the many resorts were doing the same. One or two came way too close and almost swamped poor little Abu.

“&*%$#,” I said while the tourists waved.

Halfway there, Tom and Nancy zipped by us in their inflatable and large outboard. Small and simple is good, but big is often fast.

We followed the directions we had been given. A few tour boats were already there making it easy to find the rays. The spot was just off a deep channel in about four to six feet of water. About twenty snorkelers from the tour boats were swimming above ten to fifteen rays. The rays skimmed just above the surface of the sand. I wondered why they stayed near the snorkelers until I saw raw chicken in the hands of a few. A ray might settle on the sand for a moment, but would then be off and moving around soon thereafter. I wondered if they were agitated with all these swimmers in the water. I had never seen so many rays swimming about all at once.

Dugout CanoeSoon, I found a frozen chicken pieces bag adrift in the water with a piece of chicken in it. I put the bag in our dinghy and swam back to the rays with my bait. It’s one thing to have a ray want what is in your hand and another to have a shark interested. From up out of the deep channel swam a small white tip reef shark with slow, lazy movements. I dropped my piece of chicken and swam away from it. I didn’t notice if the shark ate it or not. Todd and I caught site of the shark a few more times. It seemed disinterested in the snorkelers and the rays. We watched as it slowly disappeared again down into the deep water of the channel.

We putted back toward Mandolin with our funny little outboard. There is a town on the west side of the pass with a nice little harbor for local boats and we stopped for bagettes, veggies and ice cream.

Time to face the windy lumpy pass. We would be motoring right into it. Except that we wouldn’t. The outboard decided that it was time to go on strike. A few pulls produced the undesirable result of the spring Todd had fixed that morning breaking again. I’ll spare you the details of our attempts to fix since they were all to no avail.

“I guess we’d better start rowing,” I said.

Todd had hurt his back on the way to Papeete. The chiropractor that fixed him all up said that he shouldn’t row for awhile along with not lifting anything heavy.

I rowed as strong as I could into the seas and wind. Abu seemed to go up and down more than he went forward. I tried not to check our progress too often with stationary object because it was depressingly slow. We were still covered with salt. Sitting on the hard seat, I could feel the skin near my tailbone wrinkle each time I pulled back on the oars. Soon it was painful and although I tried to shift my weight, nothing I did alleviated the irritation to my skin.

“Can I row?” asked Todd.

“No! You’re back is almost better.” Watching him lie in pain wasn’t something I wanted to see again anytime soon.

The bow went up and down. I rowed with strokes as strong and even as I could make them. The skin on my bottom wrinkled. I felt the pain of salt water sores beginning to form. I looked at our surrounding. We weren’t even to the biggest wind chop yet.

Also anchored in Opunohu was a cruise ship. The cruise ship tenders were passing us regularly ferrying passengers to and from shore.

Todd watched one pass. Pretending he was a passenger in the ferry he said,

“Oh, look at those kids rowing their little boat, honey. Isn’t that sweet?”

Todd turned to me and said, “An hour later they’re going to say, “Look, honey, those kids are still out here rowing. They must really enjoy it.?”

I gave him a grim, pained laugh. I started to think about that handheld radio Todd had put into the gear bag.

“Can I row?”

“No.”

Little did we know that there was also a current against us. The song says, “row, row, row your boat gently *down* the stream.” It’s not so gentle against the stream.

“Can I row?”

“No, but you can call the Calvary to the rescue on the radio.”

Todd was able to raise Chris from Perdika on the handheld. I kept rowing and my sores kept hurting until he arrived.

“You look like you’re doing pretty good; you sure you need a tow?” quipped Chris.

“Please?!” I pleaded.

We piled into Chris’s dinghy and towed Abu behind. We made it home safely thanks to the cruising community we are a part of.

I’m not sure if the moral of the story is to have an outboard in excellent repair or to always take the big boat as far as you can before jumping in the dinghy. You see, we could have taken Mandolin, by a different route, to the same snorkeling location.

Since the outboard is sick beyond repair at the moment, we are back to rowing only. We are glad to have a dinghy that rows well.

Our next stop was the wonderful little island of Huahine. The passage was an easy overnight from Moorea. It’s only 80 miles so we left Moorea just at dusk. The seas were fairly lumpy, but we were going down the stream this time so it wasn’t too bad. Lot’s of traffic passing us told us we must be going the right way.

In the morning we woke to another lush, green tropical island. We found the pass and anchored amongst friends off the townfront of Fare.

The center of town consisted of one main street facing the lagoon behind the reef. The lagoon side of the street has no buildings on it. It’s somewhere between a huge dirt lot and a park. I guess the trees give it the slight parklike feel. On the other side of the street are the businesses of town. A hotel, a hostel/bar nicknamed “Club Bed”, a few restaurants, some shops, a gas station, and a large grocery store line the road. At night a few eatery trucks similar to the ones in Papeete, but less posh, set up camp on the open side of the street. Locals, tourists and travelers all mix together in a very laid back atmosphere. All these ingredients combine in just the right amounts to ignite a spark of magic. There’s not much to this town, but somehow it is really cool.

Passport stamps for Cook Islands One day we decided to rent bicycles and ride around Huahine Nui. Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) shares the same reef with Huihine Iti (Little Huahine). Our first stop was an unexpected stop at a vanilla plantation. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, but we finally found an elderly lady who only spoke to us in French and waved us toward the back of the property. Well, hopefully we’ll be able to figure out which plants are the vanilla. Just as we were about to wander around looking for vanilla, a few large tour groups showed up. Ugh, look at all these people. I wanted to continue on, but Todd thought we should tag along with the tour groups. I’m glad I listened to Todd as the tour guide gave a thorough talk about how vanilla is grown.

I will have to write more later. From Huanhine we had a great day sail to Riatea where we stayed a few days and then another lovely day sail to Bora Bora. We celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary while underway to Aitutaki. We continued celebrating our anniversary while in Aitutaki.

Ahe

Ahe

The atoll of Ahe in the Tuamotos is a place of many contrasts. The ocean
swell born of the trade winds comes all the way from the coast of Central
and South America; Ahe is a refuge from the relentless rolling movement of
the seas outside it’s reefed protection. Eons ago, Ahe, like many of its
neighboring atolls, was once and island that has sunk into the ocean. All
that remains is the circular shape of the coral reef that is constantly
trying to grow towards the surface. There is a pass through this reef
that the supply ships and cruising boats can enter the tranquil waters
inside. Five miles across the atoll is yet another almost circle of
coral, this one much smaller. A circle within a circle providing
protection for the village wharf and waterfront. Cruising boats and local
outboard power boats enjoy the lakelike setting.
Where the Marquesan Islands to the north are steep, get lots of rain and
have many waterfalls, Ahe is low to the water, the highest point of land
may be 20 feet above the level of the ocean. The nutrient rich Marquesan
soil is ideal for growing abundant fruit while the white coral sand of Ahe
is only sufficient to support palm trees, low flowery shrubs and the
occasional banana tree. Every house in Ahe has a carefully crafted roof,
gutter and tank system to catch the precious rain that falls from the
occasional squall, while the Marquesas have freshwater streams running
through most villages and pressure water outlets regularly spaced along
the streets. On Sundays the large churches of the Marquesas are filled to
overflowing. Ahe is only able to draw a small portion of its population
to its plain but sturdy looking church. Regardless of the size of the
congregation the energy and singing are infectious and should not be
missed.

Ahe
Pearl farms of Ahe

The July 14th Bastille day celebration is a great excuse for a party to
the Polynesian locals who find little meaning in the French independence
day. Papeete on Tahiti some 300 miles to the southwest is the tourist
center of these islands has a two-week celebration, with many dance, canoe
and other local competitions drawing immense crowds. Ahe has only a two
day celebration bringing out the endless local talent in games, dancing
and singing. Of course there is competition, but instead of gold medals
as would be given in the states, Ahe is much more practical with food
staples of rice and sugar as prizes. The higher award winners walked off
with half a cow while a few even scored a new bicycle. The grand prize
donated by the new airline, Air Tahiti Nui was a round trip ticket to Los
Angeles. This award likely gives the recipient a taste of popular culture
they are so desperate for, but may also give them a dose of how the rest
of the world lives. Perhaps they will be happy to return home.

Unlike the tourism income earned in Hawaii and Tahiti, Ahe takes advantage
of it’s clean water unpolluted by fertilizers and sewage to farm pearl
producing oysters. These oysters, sensitive to temperature, predators and
pollutants survive well enough to provide the coveted South Pacific Black
Pearl in quantities that make a comfortable living for those who work
here. The clothes are new, as are the outboard motors on the work boats.
Houses are comfortable and tastefully decorated on the inside. However,
there is also evidence of too much drinking here in Ahe. New wealth, but
not many outlets for spending it. No movies, no dance clubs, no
restaurants, no coffeehouses. The motu the village is on is perhaps 1/2
mile long and 1/4 mile wide. It’s rather humorous to see people on
scooters zipping around, one assumes, in circles on this tiny atoll.
There are even a few cars and trucks. The family at the end of the road
saved themselves a walk to the Bastille Day celebrations by driving their
car less than 1/4 mile to the town hall where the plywood stage was set up
in the street. This way, they had comfortable seats as well.

All in all, Ahe is a hard working, and somewhat sleepy little backwater.
They do have quite a bit of contact with the big world beyond through
their lucrative pearl trade. And they also have a strong sense of
community and place. All the characters of the small town saga are here:
the Mayor, the Policeman, the Postmistress, the Priest, two shop keepers,
parents watching the children play, the young people entering adulthood,
the boys eyeing the girls, the girls deciding if they will notice or not,
young men at the wharf drinking beer, a knot of older men from which a
whiff of pot is smelled and whispers of “whiskey” are heard. One is
reminded that one of Agatha Christie’s detectives, Miss Marple, learned
all she needed to know about human character from studying the inhabitants
of a small town. A place as laid back as Ahe is perhaps not as simple as
one first suspects.

Tuamotos and Tahiti

Tuamotos and Tahiti

12 degrees 15′ South, 143 degrees 38′ West

With blustery winds we left Daniel’s Bay on our way towards Ahe in the
Tuamotos. This passage was a nice beam reach for the three days, but then
the wind died and we motored for almost 30 hours.
14 degrees 32′ South, 146 degrees 21′ West

The approach to the pass at Ahe was done with a very alert Todd and Ellen
using all navigation aids they had available short of getting out the
sextant. Ellen could see some lights from the village while it was still
dark out. She turned on the radar and could see the atoll on radar at
11miles. The chart and GPS were very close which was a pleasant surprise
to us. Soon we were within the pass, Todd on the bow with polarized
glasses to spot coral heads and Ellen steering while calling out depths

Working on the mast
Working on the mast

from the depth sounder. We cleared out the track log on the GPS so that
we could make a track back route to aid in exiting the atoll. Thanks to
the engineers at Garmin for including this feature. Once inside the pass,
the depth got as shallow as 14 feet before it dropped off again. Now we
spot the first marker but are puzzled by the rocks to the right of a
green. Wasn’t the saying, “red right returning from sea”? Soon we found
a red marker and decided that this part of the world doesn’t follow the US
standard to red markers on the right side of the channel and green on the
left as you are going inland. Still it’s amazing how ingrained this is in
our heads. We found a calm anchorage in front of the village on the other
side of the atoll and enjoyed flat water at last. During our stay here, I

installed our new VHF antenna at the top of our mast and fixed the
mainsail track on the mast where the rivets had loosened up. A few taps
and machine screws solved the problem quite nicely. We also spent most of
a day organizing all our paperwork so that it fits into one small filing
cabinet, generating a huge bag of receipts, old magazines and other stuff
that didn’t need to be aboard. After our time at the village, we found
Kamoka pearl farm to be empty, but Leon from the next farm came over and
invited us to go SCUBA diving, have dinner and spend some time with his
family. What a great experience to see the oysters hanging from lines
about 15 feet down. Later we dove outside the pass with 100+ foot
visibility. Soon the wind filled in from the southeast, now we are on a
lee shore. After a nervous night tied between two floats we cast off and
sailed for Tahiti. Between the 1 to 2 knot current and 20 knot winds we
had one of our fastest passages to date averaging 5.9 knots. The last
night we were sailing under the reefed jib alone still making good way.

Tahiti, Papeete:

17 degrees 17′ South, 149 degrees 22′ West

TahitiSunset
Tahiti Sunset

Civilization has caught us by surprise. The Continent store here has
everything including high prices as expected. It is a cross between
Costco and a supermarket. The availability of Costco, but you can buy
grocery store quantities. It’s wonderful to have access to fresh veggies
for salads and a stir-fry with peanut sauce. In Papeete, I was happy to
find Christian Simon, a wonderful chiropractor, to undo the kinks I got in
Ahe and this last passage. The roulette trucks that serve dinner on the
wharf are not to be missed. We had a terrific Chinese meal and got to
watch them cook it, and everyone else’s dinner, right in front of us.
Quite educational. We also caught Le Truck to the Museum of Tahiti, the
Gauguin Museum, the Harrison Smith botanical gardens (where we got to pet
2 Galapagos turtles), and Point Venus where Captain Cook observed the
transit of Venus across the sun on June 3rd 1769. Now we are ready to be
more remote as Papeete has not been nice to our wallets, but has been a
great stop.

Marquesas

Marquesas

10 degrees 27′ South, 138 degrees 40′ West

Ellen writes: I think I am becoming part Polynesian. People here wake
before the dawn and my body has been following suit.
My first morning in Fatu Hiva, I woke before the first glimmer of light
appeared in the sky. Since I couldn’t fall back asleep, I got out of bed
to begin baking bread. I surprised myself by baking bread three times on
the passage and I am now to the point of really enjoying making bread. I
mix the batter and leave it to rise while it is still dark. I take a cup
of tea onto the foredeck to watch the dawn reveal the beauty of this place
called Fatu Hiva. This is a notoriously windy anchorage and the wind
whistles down the narrow canyon and blasts all the boats in the anchorage.
It is cloudy, windy, rainy and cool here. I love it after the heat and
sun of the crossing. The light increases behind the clouds revealing the
multitude of colors in the grey rock and green vegetation. Tiki-like
spires of rock rise all around the narrow, steep canyon. The scenery is
awe-inspiring. What an incredible place to make landfall after 23 days at
sea. Just as I have awoken from sleep, I seem to have awoken from the
dream that was the passage into a beautiful reality that is the Marquesan
Islands. The passage, while very real at the time, now feels like it was
a long tumultuous dream from which is it a relief to have woken. I have
read of people being sorry to have ended their ocean passage, but while it
was a very good passage, it wasn’t a very comfortable one. I am glad to
be here.

Difficulties in Paradise

Ellen writes: Just as one must always be alert for changing conditions and
ships at sea, one cannot relax one’s vigilance once at anchor. There are
actually more hazards making landfall and anchoring than in crossing
oceans. But at least at anchor, you probably won’t have a ship run you
down. Granted, you probably won?t have a ship run you down at sea, but
you?d better watch for them while you?re out there.

One evening at Fatu Hiva, Todd and I found out that there would be a
special Friday evening Mass and procession through the village. We were
excited to take part in a normal activity of the village and wanted to
give thanks to God for giving us the skills, abilities and good fortune to
arrive safely. Well, He certainly didn’t make it easy to arrive at church
safely. The dinghy landing is a concrete boat ramp, which the surge rises
up and down constantly. It’s not too difficult, but not too easy, either.
And when a somewhat large breaking sea is attacking the ramp, it’s not an
easy landing at all. Part of what makes it difficult is that the landing
is tucked behind a point of land, which is good for a bit of protection,
but bad for seeing what is about to come and GET you. We sat in our
dinghy, Abu, and watched the seas rolling in and breaking on the landing
and rock beach and tried to time it right. Todd thought it looked good
and started rowing fast. I looked behind and saw what appeared to be a
larger-than-all-the-rest wave make its way around the point. We had almost
made it to the landing and our friends’ hands waiting to grab Abu, when
the last swell started to suck us back out. Todd rowed for all he was
worth, but we were going backwards. We bailed out of the dinghy. I
managed to find myself on my feet, unscathed. Todd stumbled as he got out
and was pretty wet up one side. We grabbed Abu and looked back to see that
big swell becoming a big wave. The wave hit Abu, Abu hit me, I guess I had
poor footing for the next thing I knew, I was on all fours and my dress
was soaked. Our friends and Todd ran Abu up the ramp and out of the
confused water swirling about us. I picked myself up, walked out of the
water and laughed in a sort of dazed way. We were all a little wet, but
none the worse for wear.

So we walked into church and dripped salt water on the floor all during
mass. I have had the good fortune to be raised Catholic and have heard
Mass all over the United States as well as England, France, Germany,
Canada and Mexico. Nowhere have I heard singing from the congregation
like in the little church in Fatu Hiva. Everyone sang and everyone sang
loud. The singing was beautiful and it was all in the Marquesan language.
It was a joy to listen to and be a part of.

Luckily, launching Abu went much more smoothly than the landing. Two
Marquesan men were at the landing and helped our two sets of friends and
then us launch all of our dinghies. It was now dark and we were mighty
glad to have their expert knowledge of the landing and wave patterns.

The next night saw the wind whistling down the canyon increase. The wind
was probably sustained at about 20+ knots, but was gusting to over 50
knots at times. The first boat to drag anchor was our friends on
Calyptus. We watched them struggle to re-anchor. Pretty soon the French
boat on our other side was having anchor drills, too. The anchorage is
small and was quite full with 12 boats. Letting out more scope wasn’t
much of an option as you would then most likely hit someone else, even if
your anchor was holding. We were all the way at the front of the pack and
so didn’t have to worry about someone dragging down on us. We have never
dragged anchor, even in some pretty big blows, and weren’t too worried.

In fact, we decided to take showers. Taking a shower in the cockpit with
high winds isn’t very fun even if you are in the tropics where the
temperatures are warm and even if you’ve heated your shower water. Once
you’re naked and wet, that wind chill is gonna get you.

I had finished my shower, wrapped myself in a towel and was helping Todd
with his shower. He had just soaped up when we heard shouts of
“Mandolin!!!” coming from a boat near us. We looked up, took our bearing,
and … we were dragging. We threw on clothes, turned on the engine and
the foredeck light and had our own anchor drills. Todd picked up the
anchor and attempted to set it three times before it finally caught and
held. The wind was whipping my wet hair about my face and I wondered if
it wasn’t time to put to sea. Of course a few projects were still strewn
about down below, which included the sewing machine sitting on the table,
and the dinghy wasn’t secured, so it could have been a bit ugly if we put
to sea right then. We finally got the anchor set. When we were sure the
anchor was holding, Todd finally got to finish his shower. We figure there
was a rock shelf we were trying to anchor on; once we dropped the anchor
in water a few feet deeper, it held just fine. While we were trying to
get our anchor set again, I heard many voices on other boats downwind
doing the same thing we were doing. The languages were German, Italian
and Flemish, but I’m sure the words were similar to those on Mandolin in
English.

We had been planning to leave in the morning, so it seemed like a good
idea to stow everything right now. We had the dinghy and everything else
secured in about 1/2 hour. The plan was to put to sea if we dragged
again. We shared anchor watches with Calyptus. The rest of the night was
uneventful. In the morning, I had a bit of a start just past daybreak
when I woke up and went out to count all the boats. There was a boat a
few miles out from the anchorage. Oh no, someone has dragged anchor, I
thought. I counted all the boats and came up with twelve. Weren’t there
13? I think of how many boats were anchored when we arrived and who had
arrived since then. I come up with an answer of 12. But my brain is
foggy, so I figure it out several more times in my head. Always 12. I
count the boats at anchor, 12. I count the boats according to who was
here before us and the order boats arrived after us; all are seemingly
accounted for. Well, I guess someone else wants in and is standing
offshore until it is fully morning. Sure enough, a rather large Amel
Maramu is motoring around in the anchorage when we get out of bed about an
hour later.

Todd and I were the first boat to leave the anchorage that morning, and we
knew of at least three other boats also planning on leaving. We wonder
how many more left as well after a pretty bad night. The locals probably
love watching all these boats pack into a small anchorage and then seeing
the anchorage clear out after a good blow. All in all, we are very glad
we made landfall at Fatu Hiva and enjoyed our time there.

The wind was kind when we raised anchor. We put up the main, raised the
anchor and sailed through the other boats out of the bay and on to other
adventures. Who’s scared of a little wind? We’re a sailboat, remember.

Marquesas: Tahuata:

9 degrees 56′ South, 139 degrees 06 West

Todd writes: After our visit to Fatu Hiva we enjoyed a day sail to the
small island of Tahuata. We found a bay to anchor where two other French
boats are anchored. Upon getting to know them we found that they both had
young girls aboard that were attending school in the village. The last
day of school is tomorrow and they looked happy. From the boat we could
see the road to the next town and wanted to walk part of it. While we
explored to find the road we got lost several times. Of course one of
these dead ends turned out to be surrounded with many fruit trees.
Celest, a local man, came out of his home and offered us some pamplemouse.
He promptly went up a tree and started tossing us the large grapefruit
looking things. Our job was to catch them before they rolled down the
hill into town. Soon we had almost more than we could carry. Fortunately
I have gotten into the habit of carrying a mesh bag in our pack just for
such occasions. This favor was returned the next day when we baked lime
squares and took some up to his house. We did eventually find the road
and hiked it one morning. The views were worth it. It’s amazing the
little things we get excited about these days. From the small local store
we bought an ice cream cone and shared it sitting under a mango tree. I
think it is the first cold thing we’ve had in over a month.
Marquesas: Ua Pu

9 degrees 21′ South, 140 degrees 06 West

This passage required an overnight sail from Tahuata. It is amazing to
see the differences in each island in this group. Fatu Hiva was the
young, steep, green island. Tahuata was smoother, had lots of fruit and
nice people. Ua Pu is the island of spires. Volcanic plugs that have not
been eroded away stand out against the clouded sky when you can see them.
Mostly they just keep their heads up in the clouds. Looking up the canyon
from where we are anchored reminds us of Yosemite with the tall cliffs and
spires on each side. As we were exploring town and taking a break to
drink some water on the steps of the church, we met Etiene who lives here
and Eric the captain of the French Navy ship that anchored just after us.
We accepted their invitation to dinner near the beach and offered to bake
cookies for desert. The evening turned out to be quite a gathering as
most of the Navy off the ship, several Marquesans from town and 5 boats
worth of cruisers showed up. Bread fruit, pate, baguettes, chicken,
steak, and other local dishes made quite a spread for all. After we were
quite stuffed, the young Marquesan men performed some of their traditional
dances, which started a bit of a talent show. The Navy sung songs, the
Swiss lady lead the Marquesans in another song. The Italians performed
loud skits. Jennifer the other American and us got up and showed them how
to do the Hokey Pokey. What a hoot.
The next morning we tired of the rolly anchorage and sailed for Taiohae
Bay, Nuka Hiva.

Marquesas: Nuku Hiva

08 degrees 55 South, 140 degrees 06′ West

One of the largest boats we see upon entering Taihoe Bay is the 86 foot
wooden schooner Astor. (www.astor.org) These are the people we met on the
Amateur radio during the crossing. Waves and smiling faces were seen all
around as we finally meet in person. Taihoe bay is the largest town
(city) in the Marquesas, but isn’t that large at all. We were able to
walk the beach front in about 30 minutes on our exploratory walk to find
grocery stores and a cute little cafe for Ellen. The cafe is going to
have to wait for Papeete, but we did find some good looking restaurants
that we will try out. The Saturday morning market was a big hit featuring
fresh fish, vegetables and baked goods. The only downside is that it
starts at 5:00 a.m. sharp and everything is pretty well picked over in the
first 20 minutes. Our shopping bag was filled with $1.00 heads of
lettuce, bok choy and a $3.50 bag of carrots. We also scored a croissant
and cinnamon roll. After a quick trip to the store for baquettes we were
finished with our shopping for a few days and went back to the boat for a
nap. At least the church service on Sunday was at the reasonable hour of
8:00 where the singing was beautiful. The only internet connection in
town was $20/hour but we took it anyway to send out our trip log and read
our full inbox of messages. Fourth of July was celebrated aboard Astor.
While there weren’t any fireworks the food and company was excellent. One
afternoon at high tide I took the dinghy and a few of our jerry jugs over
to the fuel pier and was stunned by the $4.00 per gallon price. Thank God
we are a sailboat. Fortunately we should be able to get tax free fuel in
Papeete. The check-in procedure was quick and easy. The gendarme spoke
excellent English and was very friendly. He helped us fill out the
necessary check-in and customs forms. The letter that we had from our
travel agent in the states saying that they had our credit card on file
and could issue us tickets anywhere was sufficient so that we didn’t have
to pay the bond here. The bond is an amount of money per person for a
plane ticket to your country of origin in case you are not able to leave
on your boat. While we can see the reason for this, we weren’t looking
forward to losing several hundred dollars in transaction fees, currency
differences etc. We would rather spend this money on goods and services
while we are here. The last step is to see if this letter will work when
we get to Papeete, the official check-in point for French Polynesia.
(Update: It didn?t work)
After the fast pace of city life (not really), we set sail for Daniel’s
bay, just to the west of Taiohae bay. We took a long tack out and back so
that we could run our engine long enough to make water. One of the main
attractions of this bay is the hike to the waterfall, which we did and
thoroughly enjoyed. Walking on an ancient hand laid rock road, passing
ancient foundations for villages and even seeing two tikis was only the
half of it. There were forests to walk through that appeared to come
right out of a Tolkien novel, then a magical swim in the pool at the base
of the fall all by ourselves. We met Steven who lives at the village on
the bay where we anchored. He offered to get us some fruit the next
morning, so I came in and we walked around picking limes, pampelmouse,
starfruit and two large stalks of bananas. I gave him some fishing gear
and a length of three strand line.

This morning was a sad morning however as we noticed that Freda our pet
duck decoy for the last 5 years was gone. After searching around by oar
and later with the help of Steven’s outboard skiff we were unsuccessful in
finding her. We figure her reasons for leaving could be several, but the
most likely being the discovery of a boyfriend who helped chew through her
leash. Or perhaps the fact that since we put new bottom paint on in La
Paz there wasn’t enough slime around the waterline to eat and she got
hungry. Either way she picked a good island to enjoy her freedom. We are
still sad, and hope that in the future another duck will adopt us.