12-10-10 We're taking off...

We're leaving for Florida later this afternoon, just in time for the first heavy rains Honolulu has seen in a long while. The rigging project was completed yesterday, with new Schaefer double jaw headstay toggles for the forestay, backstay and staysail. Lefiel Mast supplied us with new tangs and bolts for the upper, intermediate and lower shrouds. New wire lengths were cut for the upper cap shrouds, intermediates and the lower portion of the backstay below the insulator, and the new Hayn turnbuckles were fitted; we then redid the Hayn Hi-Mod terminal ends. The great news was that the SS wire and terminal fittings looked like new, even though I installed them about 5 years ago (btw, I used 3M 5200 in the terminals). We still have just a bit of mast and spreader work to finish up, like remounting the radar reflector, spreader boots and shroud covers, then have to tune the rig. Last week the serviced injector pump and injectors were reinstalled, and the Perkins is running fine. I also found time to uninstall our Village Marine Little Wonder 150 watermaker, which is now available and for sale to a new owner and many more years of service. (The unit is listed on the SSCA and Westsail Owners Association Bulletin Boards in the Items for Sale section). We have about 20 packages waiting for us in Florida, not including our new Frigoboat unit that our friends have shipped to Honolulu already. So, our upcoming visit will be mostly to see our family and friends, with just a little work thrown in such as hunting down parts to bring back with us in Jan. We hope everyone has a healthy, happy and blessed Holiday season as well as awesome sailing, and we'll add more to this blog upon our return.

11-12-10 Fun & Games

Matt returned at 0540 this morning, sporting a brand new souvenir, a birthday present to himself-- a Samoan tattoo. We had birthday cake after the hamburger grill out after the Friday night race; Michael again joined Zion and they had a great time and also placed pretty high on the race list.

Our "to do" list is extensive, as this will be the last (somewhat) convenient place to do, or have, work done. There's a lot of stuff being shipped to us, as upgrades and improvements continue aboard. Locally, finding reliable craftsmen has been a challenge, as many folks don't return calls, or are "no shows" on previously scheduled jobs. We rely on word of mouth of several of the Yacht Club members to steer us in the right direction, and even then, it seems some folks recommended just don't bother to follow up. At any rate, our dodger is off the boat as we tore one of the window zippers in Panama. The Perkins fuel injection pump has leaked since French Polynesia, and has been pulled, and along with the injectors, sent for servicing and repair. I've also arranged for a pressure test to be done on the valves to ensure that we don't need an overhaul before departing next season. The rigger has been busy, as we've pulled the original Lefiell tangs off the mast and I'll be replacing them as well as the original Navtec turnbuckles. Although five years ago I replaced all the 3/8" SS standing rigging and used all new Hayn Hi-Mod terminals, I didn't replace the (now) 32 year old tangs or turnbuckles. Considering Infini has already been thru one circumnavigation and is now well on her way towards a second, the SS metal fatigue and metal "cycles" take their toll. We don't see any cracks or obvious problems with anything we've removed, but I think prudence is necessary and feel it will be money well spent. The watermaker project is progessing very slowly. Hunting down the myriad parts, both large and small, is taking days of time on the phone and internet and has been a real headache. I've ordered the Frigoboat system for our freezer, and look forward to installing the keel cooler when we haul out for bottom work in Jan or Feb. The boat is a bit disorganized, but we're trying to keep things as neat as possible, all things considered! So, that's a brief summary of some, but certainly not all, the ongoing projects we're dealing with on a daily basis. We're keeping busy!

11-5-10 Friday

We've been having a wonderful time here at the Hawaii Yacht Club. The YC members see transient boats come and go regularly, and are used to extending their hospitality. We try to reciprocate by getting involved in many of the activities here: a regular morning coffee clatch, Friday night races, Monday night BBQ's, afternoon yoga classes twice a month, and various special events as they occur. And we've only been here a few weeks! We've both also visited several doctors and dentists for routine exams. We haven't gone out to eat that often, but one notable place was the Spaghetti Factory, where we accompanied our friends Ray and Ramona, and their children Kai, Kiana and Kahealani. The kids have become accomplished Farkle players and even play in the car as they're being driven around! On the home front, Matt's returning Friday morning from American Samoa, and various boat projects are getting started, which will be discussed in another blog entry. It's also a bit easier to get around, as our friends Dave and Sherry (s/v Soggy Paws) returned to the mainland for a visit and left their car for us to use. M's been busy ordering stuff, and Sue is once again wondering how it's all going to fit aboard the bulging Infini.
The picture is from our visit to the Old Spaghetti Factory.

10-28-10 Honolulu, Oahu

We've moved from the Aloha guest dock to a slip here at the Hawaii Yacht Club in the Ala Wai Basin. Behind the locked gates at the end of the pier, you can forget the big city is a short walk away! We've bought two used bikes from Walmart for our transportation; that and the city bus and shuttles will get us around. We've been meeting new friends; the Aloha spirit is alive and well! Michael & Matt joined sv Zion's family (Ray and Ramona and their three wonderful children) for a weekly Friday night race here. They placed 2nd in the non-spinnaker division, and 11th overall...a grand effort and fun for all! There are many long term members and live aboards here....we feel lucky to be part of their extended family for awhile. We've been cleaning the boat and working on our "list". The new galley sink faucet and spigots have already been installed.
Shortly after our arrival Matt was offered a crew position aboard B2, a Nordhavn 64 Expedition Motor Yacht, going to American Samoa. The captain and 3 crew will get there in less then 2 weeks....Matt will then fly back to his much more basic abode here. What an opportunity for him!
Most mornings here have been spent drinking coffee in the yacht club and tracking down and ordering parts and supplies. Shipping to Hawaii is expensive, but a necessary part of the repairs and upgrades we plan to do. Example: four new 175 watt solar panels (purchased here) are sitting on our deck, awaiting the arch modification from the welder we've contacted (who has yet to show up!). Scheduled visits by local canvas, diesel, and rigging experts have already been booked. Many of our upgrades would, under most circumstances, be done by us; but with limited time and many major things to do on "the list" we've opted to farm out some of the punch list.
The picture is B2 leaving....with Matt as one of the crew.

Thursday 10-21-10 Honolulu, Oahu

Sunrise Tuesday we headed for Oahu and had a magnificent sail across the Kaiwi Channel with winds on our stbd quarter. We've been very fortunate with the winds and seas....we've heard this has been a 'calm' year. We're thankful for that!
We tucked into the Ala Wai Basin, and tied to the Hawaii Yacht Club's 'Aloha' dock. Our friends on Soggy Paws had arrangements at Rainbow Marina in Pearl Harbor, so we separated and will compare notes later. Culture shock once more...the high rise condos, high density population, and 1000 boat slips in this one basin....it'll take some getting used to. Creaking dock lines, general noise and music kept us awake--I guess our 8pm shut eye time will have to change. But, we can't complain about the facilities or friendliness of the folks here; everyone's been great! We're working on finding long term moorage and connecting with the skills and services we need for our repairs and upgrades.

Mon 10-18-10 Lono Harbor, Molokai

We had a great early morning crossing of the Kalohi channel to Molokai, where we spent the night in Lono Harbor. What a surreal experience when a swarm of bees invaded us as I was making a big salad. All they wanted was fresh water,(the drought is really, really bad here), so my sink and anywhere there was water was bee city. Thankfully they were not the biting kind, so I had an up close and personal experience with these soft, fuzzy, noisy critters. I put bowls of water on the deck hoping to draw them out there...it worked a bit...the ones below stayed and the new ones were above. I knew they'd be gone by sundown, but they ended up dying/drowning(??), so by sunset I had bowls full of dead bees. Weird.

Sunday 10-17-10 Maui

Sharing a rental minivan with our friends, we toured two full days around this beautiful island. We went up to the 10,023 foot high Haleakala, in the National Park. Haleakala, meaning 'house of the sun' has 12 observatories, all closed to the public. The views are spectacular from up there...and we enjoyed seeing the beautiful silversword plant, an endangered hearty plant only found in that National Park. We found a great kite boarding beach at Kanaha Beach Park, near Kahului. Matt was stoked, but sad he couldn't kite that day. Next we went to Ioa Valley State Park, where an emerald-green pinnacle shoots straight up from the valley floor to a height of 2250 ft. The Iao needle is a popular tourist stop...the cameras were clicking; it reminded us of similar grandeurs in the Marquesas.... We drove back to Lahaina and had dinner at the Lahaina Yacht Club before returning to our boats for the night.
We awoke and were off our boats at 0630 to start a full day of many sights and stops along the Hana Highway- a famous narrow twisting scenic road with 54 one-lane bridges to cross. Getting to the Kipahulu section of the Haleakala National Park was our goal. Maui has been experiencing a drought, so many of the roadside waterfalls were trickles or non-existent, but the Waimoku Falls at the end of the Pipiwai Trail in the 'Ohe'o Gulch was impressive with its 400' waterfall dropping down a sheer rock face. There are 24 terraced pools connected by gentle cascades and streams extending from this fall to the ocean. We walked through the bamboo forest, and were struck how serene and beautiful the area was. After a refreshing dip in the pool, we drove along the south edge of the island, and the untamed Pi'ilani Highway was like a trip to the boonies along the coast. It was barren, brown, dry and rugged, with miles of driving on unpaved road. The road itself crosses a vast lava flow dating from Haleakala's last eruption in 1790. We stopped for an incredible sunset view from a cliff along the highway and were able to view four islands from our vantage point. We finally made it back to our boats, weary but with lots of good pictures and memories.
Today was our last full day on Maui, and we started it by visiting the Whalers Museum in Ka'anapali. We later met with David, Ellen, Eric, and Jason who live locally and completed a six year circumnavigation in their sv Peace and Aloha a few years back. We had a lovely dinner with them and returned aboard around 2230 hours (late for us!), hoisted the outboard and dinghy to the deck, and prepared for an early morning departure. Our plan is to anchor for the evening in Lono Harbor on the southwest coast of Molokai, and depart for Honolulu early Tues. morning. Crossing the channels between these islands is known to be calmest in the early mornings. We've had wonderful mild weather so far...we hope it continues!

Thursday 10-14-10 Maui

N 20.52 / W 156.41
We're in Lahaina, a place I always wanted to come to by my own boat. Located on the west side of Maui, it's an old whaling town that is now a busy tourist destination, hosting a very active main drag of shops (Front Street) selling jewelry, T shirts, burgers and ice cream. A typical tourist scene. The small harbor is full, mostly with tourist boats, but there are a few lucky private yachts; there's a 35 year waiting list for a slip! To get here, we had sailed all night across the Alenuihaha Channel, experiencing ENE winds of 15-20 knots and 4-6' seas, and felt blessed that conditions were so benign. The winds died after we crossed Ma'alaea Bay, and we motored the few remaining miles to Lahaina, picking up a Lahaina Yacht Club mooring in front of town. We hurriedly launched the dinghy and went in to register at the YC. Moorings are free, and available for short lengths of stay to the visiting yacht. We had a quick shower upstairs, a quick beer downstairs at the YC bar, and proceeded to walk the town a bit. We were running on adrenalin at that point, but it felt good to mingle with the crowds for a change of pace. That afternoon Dave and Sherry arrived; they had anchored at Nishimura Bay on the NW side of the Big Island during the night and awoke early to cross the channel in the calm early morning winds. Avoiding the build up of the trade winds as you cross any of the channels between islands usually means a very early morning departure (like 0400) or an all night sail (like Infini did) before the kick ass winds and seas have a chance to paste you. Again, watching the weather forecasts and being aware of local conditions is imperative for safe cruising. We look forward to renting a car with our friends and visiting the National Parks before heading out to our next overnight stop in Moloka'i.

Sunday 10-10-10 Mauna Kea

We exchanged our rental minivan in for a 4WD vehicle so we could visit the Mauna Kea lookout and observatories without going with a tour group. Before going there, we visited Waipi'o Valley's lookout and all points on the north west side of the island....such as Kahala, Upolu Pt., and the statue of Kamehameha I. The views and history of the area were very interesting. We had a car full as our friends from the catamaran Moemoea Nui (Alain and Odile) joined us. Atop Mauna Kea it was cold for us (45 degrees F) but an amazingly clear evening, so the view and sunset was incredible. The elevation at the Visitors Information Station is 9,300 feet, and is a required stop to acclimatize before ascending to the summit at 13,796 feet. It felt like we were on a different planet up there...awesome, and a unique experience. More pictures will be added to our Album section soon; you'll feel like you were along with us so make sure you're wearing warm clothes!

Wed. 10-6-10 The Big Island

We've had a lot of fun playing tourist. The bus system here is free, but doesn't run after 5pm or on Sundays. Various cruise ships have been in frequently, and we can stand in their lines for free transportation to town if we want. Also, it's only a 2 mi. walk to the quaint downtown area of Hilo, which we've also done.
We rented a mini van with our friends and toured the island. Our first stop was Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We drove the crater rim road, and the rain and clouds didn't stop us walking to see the visitors center, the crater, Kilauea Caldera, steam vents, and lava tubes. We also stopped at the Jaggar Museum. The drive along the southern side brought us to Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, where we saw three green turtles sleeping on....you guessed it, the black sand! We stopped for the night in Ocean View at Leilani B & B, to meet Randy and his wife Lynn. Randy (KH6RC) is one of the main voices on the PAC SEA NET that we check in with while under passage. These net controllers are all volunteers and put many hours into their 'hobby', offering a great service to cruisers. Sherry ran the net that night; there were 8 boats checking in from all over. We had an enjoyable evening at their peaceful place. The next day we drove to South Point (Ka Lae), where the cliffs have fishing 'camps' on the bluffs. With the offshore breeze, they use plastic bags to get their line and hooks offshore. It's the most southern tip in the U.S. - views from the vistas were a pleasure. We stopped next at Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park (Place of Refuge), the Captain Cook Monument, and then on to Kailua Kona area to visit the marina and haul out yard at Honokohau Harbor. It was a full day's driving to get back to Hilo in the evening. The next morning the girls made a trip to the laundry with their many bags of laundry....finally...then 7 of us (our French friends from Moemoea Nui, Alain & Odile) were off to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, a wonderful spot on the coast north of Hilo.
There are many local booklets and visitor information resources, but theses are also invaluable when touring the islands:
Cruising Guide to the Hawaiian Islands, Carolyn & Bob Mehaffy
Charlie's Charts of the Hawaiiam Islands, Charles and Margo Wood

Oct 3 - Team Infini is safely in Radio Bay, Hilo

We had beautiful sailing in unexpected NW winds of 18-20 which allowed us to sail to windward at a 25-30 degree relative wind angle at 5.5 knots. We had to reef down the sails to slow the boat down, and keep her sailing efficiently and comfortably. At 0400 a line of squalls started, and we saw 27 knots in the higher gusts. Let out the main, furl the jib more, feather the boat into the wind in the higher gusts; by that time we had taken Max off the job as it was easier (and more fun) to steer the boat ourselves; Max had done an outstanding job until then. We ended up having to motor sail the rest of the way to Hilo, as the winds were directly on the nose. The weather was forecast to turn worse Monday and Tuesday, so we didn't want to be out tacking all day and night working our way towards Hilo. We called Customs on our cell phone at 0900, and they said to come directly in for clearance when we tied up in Radio Bay. We turned the corner of the long breakwater leading into Hilo and were boarded by the USCG for a safety inspection! The guys were very nice, efficient, and stayed aboard until I swung the boat around to tie stern to the wall (Med moor style) in Radio Bay. We were secured by 1045 and happy to be in still water.
Final stats are:
total miles: 2154
avg speed: 5.3 knots
total elapsed time: 407 hours
total engine run time (including charging batts, bringing the reefer down): 33 hours, which represents 8% of the total elapsed time
number of fish caught: 2
highest wind gust: 27
total sleep deprivation: incalculable....
Once again, Team Infini enjoyed a wonderful transit, and we thank Neptune for allowing this opportunity and look forward to exploring the delights of Hawaii (and completing a long list of boat projects!) over the next six months before returning to French Polynesia.

Oct 2 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 17

1200 (2200Z)
position: N18deg46min/W153deg25min
day 16 run - 113 nm
avg speed - 4.7 kn
wind - NE 6-10 kn
We had a beautiful night sailing in smooth waters. This morning we set the pole to leeward to keep the yankee jib flat; the main has one reef in it. We're doing 5-5.5 kn boat speed in 10-13 kn of NE wind; we don't want to go too much faster as we don't want to arrive Hilo in the dark. We've got around 110 nm to the anchorage in Radio Bay, and we've been advised that a Med mooring is necessary in the small anchorage area. (This is where a boat drops its anchor and backs up to something, usually a concrete wall, and stern ties about 10-20 feet from the wall. The anchor chain and/or the stern lines ashore can be brought in or out to adjust to any surge that occurs.) We can hear USCG Honolulu on VHF Channel 16, so we know land's out there somewhere ahead of us! This should be our last night out sailing until landfall; I think we're all ready for a change of pace. All's well aboard. Btw, for inquisitive minds that want to know, Max is steering beautifully.
And oh yes....the "fish on" call was made....Matt didn't have to struggle bringing a 3ft. 7lb. mahi mahi aboard. Sue filleted the fish just in time before we had a line squall hit.

Oct 1 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 16

1200 (2200Z)
position: N17deg46min/W151deg47min
day 15 run: 107 nm
avg speed: 4.5 kn
wind: NE 10-12
Our night was very slow in very light winds. At 1100 this morning we dropped the BAM sail (see previous post) in winds that had crept up to 10-12, and maintained our speed with single reefed main, yankee jib, and staysail. We're expecting winds to go up a few knots later today; Max likes the set of the sails the way they are, hence the single reef in these light airs. Otherwise, Sue's come closer guessing the previous day's run two times in a row now, so Matt and I have to prepare dinner and clean up (the winner gets the bye). No fish yet, but we're sorely deficient in good lures that might attract them! 218 nm to Hilo. We're looking forward to hot showers and doing a laundry; our clothes are standing up on their own...

Sept 30 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 15

1200 (2200Z)
position- N16deg36min/W150deg27min
day 14 run - 127 nm
avg speed - 5.3 kn
wind - NNE-NNW 6-8 kn
The evening sail was slow, and this morning at 0715 we put up our reacher/drifter. This is a very large light weight sail used in very light winds, and it pulls Infini along at 3.5-5 knots, depending on the gusts we get. We'll motor if we have to, but we're all agreed to sail into Hilo, even though it appears it may take us an extra day or so due to a high pressure weather system just north of Hawaii causing light winds in our vicinity for a while. We're doing 2 hour shifts each; 2 hours on, then 4 hours off, just enough to get some good sleep.

Sept 29 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 14

1200 (2200Z)
position - N15deg18min/W148deg47min
day 13 run - 132 nm
avg speed - 5.5 kn
course 305T
wind 10 NNE 10 knots
We had a slow night in gradually diminishing winds. Max and I had a battle of wills this morning. He felt I should do the steering, and I kept reminding him that was what he was paid to do as a bonafide member of the crew. His reply was that he just wanted the company, and felt better about things when I was hovering nearby, adding course corrections and tweaking lines. He had a complete change of attitude when I tightened up a shackle pin that had about fallen out (it wasn't wire tied...since corrected) which secures the steering lines to the shoulder of the vane, and voila, Max felt much better about everything. Winds are forecast to be 10-15 over the next few days, but we've long ago learned to heed what we get, not necessarily what the gribs or forecast calls for, although it's nice to know nothing serious wx wise is brewing.

Sept 28 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 13

1200 noon position - N14deg00min/W147deg01min
day 12 run - 165 nm
avg speed - 6.9 kn (we be surfin, mon)
winds - NNE, avg 15 knots; we saw 22 in the gusts last night.
seas - 6' - 8'
We had a wonderful day's run in fairly constant wind conditions; 15-18 knots on the beam (the side of the boat amidships); Infini likes that sort of sailing; reflected in our highest daily run of this passage. Max has, so far, been doing a great job steering, but occasionally needs attention. We're about 550 nm away from Hilo. All's well aboard.

Sept 27 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 12

1200 (2200Z) position - N12deg24min/W144deg47min
day 11 run - 123 nm
average speed - 5.1 kn
course - 300T
wind - NE 14-18; gusts to 22 knots
seas - 6'
We sailed most of the night, dodging rain squalls, and saw one ship (our first!) about 6 nm away from us. At 0515 we motored due to lack of wind, but found a good breeze about 0700, and have been flying down our rhumb line since. We have our full main and yankee jib out, and are sailing Infini like a big dinghy; with the higher gusts we fall off, or release the main sheet, or both, and adjust the boom vang in or out; thus allowing us to maintain our relative course fairly close. It's takes concentration and work! Waves are about 6' on the beam, but aren't rolling us too badly except for the occasional rogue wave that doesn't know how it should behave. The two boats ahead of us will make port at least 1-2 days in advance of us, and we plan on renting car(s) to tour the Big Island together upon our arrival. The sun is trying to poke its way out; the stars (though very briefly) were a welcome sight last night. All's well aboard.

Sept 26 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 11

1200 position - N10deg59.7min/W143deg29.8min
Day 10 run - 117 nm
course - 300T
speed - 4.5-5 kn
wind - NE 10-12
seas - 6'
Last night was a mixed bag. The wind died completely and we motored 9 hours in a frustrating swell, slatting around listening to the injection pump surging, hoping the engine wouldn't quit, in constant drizzle. Are we having fun yet? Finally, the wind came up in the early morning hours, and we've had a nice NE wind at 10-15 knots, allowing us to point, more or less, towards Hilo. We're still not quite out of the ITCZ, which we expect to be later tonight so we can see stars and clouds more easily. So far, it's been 100% cloud cover, and we've used the radar to look for and follow rain squalls. Right now we've actually got a bit of bright haze showing, and the crew celebrated by taking salt water bucket showers (followed by a sunshower fresh water rinse) on deck. Max is doing a good job, and all's well aboard.

Sat Sept 25 - Day 10 Enroute to Hawaii

1200 (2200Z) position - N09deg25min/W142deg33min
day 9 run - 108 nm
course - 335T
wind - NNE 14 kn; we've seen 20 in some higher gusts
speed - 5.5 kn
We're still in the ITCZ. It's been 100% overcast and drizzling most of the night and early morning. We finally found a NNE breeze last night after motoring for 6 hours in 5-6 knots of wind and confused seas, and were able to shut the engine and return to sailing. At 0500 I found our port jib sheet frayed thru, with just its core sheeted onto the winch. Oh boy. The NE, NNE winds were supposed to come up stronger, and having the jib sheet completely break wouldn't be a good thing. First, we furled the jib; I then took the starboard (lazy) sheet around and led it thru the turning and cheek blocks to the winch. I then found another long piece of line to attach with a carrick bend to the old jib sheet where had I cut it. It will be our lazy sheet; not an ideal solution, but it should get us to Hawaii, and we were putting together an order for new standing rigging anyway. Otherwise, the current in this patch of ocean is probably one knot against us. We're making a slow turn towards Hilo, and hoping to get thru the ITCZ sometime tonight or tomorrow, when we'll experience clear skies once again. Approximately 956 miles to go to Hilo.

Sept. 24 - Day 9 Enroute to Hawaii

1200 position - N07deg45min/W142deg04min
Day 8 run - 132 nm
avg speed - 5.5 kn
wind yesterday during the day and evening - South @ 15 kn; about an hour ago it shifted to SW @ 12-15
There was 100% cloud cover last night with a light drizzle. Right now it's bright, but not sunny. There's a 100% high cloud cover but no rain. We just gybed over to port tack and our course is 345T. Earlier, I had to go up the forestay to change out a chafed bowline knot on the jib sheet, which occurred when the pole topping lift strop gave way, hitting the bowline. Yesterday I went about a third of the way up the inner forestay to retrieve the errant pole lift halyard. When said strop let go, the halyard proceeded to wrap itself around the headstay, jib, and inner forestay, as well as jammed the Profurl at the top swivel, so immediate attention was needed. We were thankful it was still daylight. Sue took some pictures and videos of the maneuvers; we'll try to post them on the blog when we get internet in Hawaii. About 1045 nm to go to Hilo.

Sept. 23 - Enroute to Hawaii Day 8

Position: N05deg37min/W142deg00min
Day 7 run: 121 nm
Avg speed: 5.0 kn
Wind: SE 15 kn
Seas: SE 6'
Our seven day stats: Total miles - 915 nm; avg nm/24 hrs - 131; avg speed - 5.5 kn

We did a 0300 in the morning gybe as the adverse current was quite noticeable and pushing us the wrong way. This morning we put up a double reefed main; opposite the jib - wing and wing as it were, and with the yankee poled to windward, we're rolling but doing a respectable 5+ knots as well as going in the right direction. It appears we have a slot in the ITCZ directly in front of us that has much less convective activity, so we're trying to go due North asap. We have a few good weather sources reporting daily; and with comparing notes with Sherry on Soggy Paws...we're doing the best we can. So far it's been smooth sailing! Max (the wind vane) is steering fine, a bit by the lee, but we're making tracks.
It was a special day to have a huge pod of dolphins visit and play around the boat.

Wed Sept 22 - Day 7 Enroute to Hawaii

Position: 03deg57minN/141deg22minW
Day 6 run: 113 nm
Avg speed: 4.7 kn
Winds went very light during the night, hence our speed dropped and overall 24 hour run as above. We gybed over to port tack earlier this morning to gain some westing, and will gybe back later this afternoon to achieve more north direction. Tomorrow some time we should be able to once again gybe back to port tack and hold it more or less to Hilo. We'll have to dodge whatever storm cells pop up, play the wind shifts and motor thru the calms. We carry plenty of diesel but hope to sail for the most part. Right now we're doing about 6+/- knots with just our yankee jib poled out and the steering vane is doing it's job, which is pretty decent considering we're steering just about dead down wind, a point of sail most vanes are notoriously cranky about. We've decided to name our steering vane Max. Sue says he's got one of the most important jobs aboard. Oh yeh, I forgot to mention that sometime during the night we broke the shear pin on Max's vane rudder. If the shear pin breaks, the rudder will swing up (kind of like a Hobie cat's rudder); we don't know what we hit, and didn't hear anything, but obviously something serious enough to shear a 10mm nylon bolt! I replaced it with a SS bolt, but will get the proper 10mm nylon one once we're in Oahu. Max is doing fine.

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Mon Sept 21 - Day 6 Enroute to Hawaii

Day 5 run - 145 nm
Avg speed - 6.0 kn
Wind SE 13-15; it's on our starboard quarter right now
We passed into the northern hemisphere at 1528 (3:28pm) yesterday. Matt became a Shellback, and we had a small party and ceremony commemorating the event. He also received a signed and sealed certificate as well as a wallet card designating him as a Shellback! Of course, we took lots of pictures, and Matt made a video as well. Last night was another beautiful night of sailing, and today is sunny and breezy. It looks like we may get decent enough wind (8-9 knots is the present prediction) to sail right thru the ITCZ; we'll see in the next couple of days. What a blessing that would be. There are four boats checking in or emailing one another during this passage. One of them is a large, luxury Oyster sailing yacht; it's been having no wind and lots of rain as it motors on thru the ITCZ; we're hoping to avoid most of that scenario, but it's just a bit too early in the game to predict.

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Monday, Sept. 20 Attitude

Current Position: 00-17.5S / 141-05W
My family knows how important I think the "A" word is. I've even got the Latts & Atts sticker aboard still, as well as other writings on how our thoughts create our reality. So how can the thought of hand steering 2000 miles change how I look at everyday things....even the clouds in the sky? I've always tried to be an optomist and see the glass as half full, not half empty. So far this trip, we've had the most beautiful weather a sailor can ask for. Also add a great third watch mate; 2 hours on and 4 off doesn't sound horrible for a 2+ week trip. I guess the old saying goes...'you don't miss it as much if you've never had it' applies. It comes down to choices again. I don't think I'd choose to sail on a boat without self steering capabilities. So when things 'break' or you can't get them working....changing my attitude is more work for me....and seeing as I'd rather not work (I'm retired, right?), it's not always easy to practice what I preach. But hey....THE VANE IS WORKING FINE NOW...so life is good once more...
Attitude: The difference between an adventure and an ordeal. It's still high on my list!
We'll have a "passing the equator" party soon....Matt will graduate from a polywog to a shellback. And I can't believe we've only had our own ceremony 7 months ago...how time flies when the sea miles pass under the keel. S

Mon Sept. 20 - Day 5 Enroute to Hawaii

Position: 00.17S/141.05W
Day 4 run - 134 nm
Avg speed - 5.6 kn
Winds - 13 knots right now; 8-15 over the last 24 hrs.
Of note: The wind vane is working great. We're watching a couple of low pressure areas north of the ITCZ around 11N/144W; we'll be at the equator later today - Matt will become a Shellback. Yay---party time!
The picture was taken using a timer....

Sun. Sept. 19 - Day 4 Enroute to Hawaii

Position: S02deg28min/W140deg57min
Day 3 run: 122 nm.
Avg speed 5.1 knots
Wind E 10 knots; seas E 4'-6'
Winds have definitely moderated, as well as swung further aft of the beam. We've had a hell of a time trying to get the wind vane to steer the boat, to release us from what I call "the tyranny of steering." We're still tweaking it and using various sail combinations, but hey, it's only another 1583 nm to Hilo....All in all, the weather has been beautiful; there's a slight coolness to the breeze, but the sun's shining and we expect to cross the equator tomorrow. All's well aboard. Our 3 person watch schedule is working out fine, and we all seem to be getting plenty of rest. The fishing lure's out, but we still haven't caught fish #2!

We use the PacSea Net to check in daily...

...the Pacific Seafarers Net is on 14300HZ USB at 0300 UTC, and we check in daily with them while on passage. The Net takes info from any vessel underway in the Pacific; it's really interesting to tune in and listen to other folks out there. My HAM call sign is KJ4IHF, and we can receive traffic (calls to us) via this Net. This is a HAM net, and you've got to have a HAM license to talk on that frequency, but in an emergency they'll take any calls. Any HAMS out there? 73's, Mike

Sat. Sept. 18 - Day 3 Enroute to Hawaii

Position S04deg27min/W140deg39min. Day 2 run: 131 nm. Avg speed: 5.5 knots. We had a beautiful afternoon and evening of sailing in 12-15 knots of wind and pretty flat seas. Winds are forecast to lighten up a bit to 10-12 knots. Don't know whether the Yotreps position dot is working or not on our "Find Where We Are" portion of our blog as the NMEA input into SailMail isn't working properly. Always something. Otherwise, all's well aboard and not much else new to report.

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Sept 17 - Enroute to Hawaii, Day 2

12 noon position: lat S06deg34min; longW140deg18min. Had a wonderful Day 1; our run was 134 nm, I think that's really good for having to get used to being at sea again. As usual, the wind vane is temperamental, maybe because it felt ignored for so long! At any rate, we're all doing fine. The day's highlight: Matt caught a 5-6 lb black fin tuna; perfect for sashimi!

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Sept. 16th - Day 1 Enroute to Hilo, Hawaii

Position: S08deg40min; W140deg03min
We departed Anaho Bay at 1100 and are doing 5-6 knots in 15 knots of ENE wind.Matt and Sue tossed their lei's into the ocean....in the tradition to hope for a safe return visit some day. Seas are OK, and we're getting used to the motion of being at sea again, as well as trying to dial in the self steering. Lots to do this first day.

Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva Sept. 11, 2010

We've motorsailed six hours around the eastern side to a lovely bay on the NE coast of Nuku Hiva. We were entertained by two different schools of dolphins, and great scenery. Our friends on Soggy Paws traveled the western side and joined us here. The cliffs, peaks and valleys are very picturesque...and we look forward to exploring and walking the trails and over the ridge to Hatiheu. For now it's small boat projects; swimming with the huge feeding manta rays that frequent this bay...and relaxing. Matthew has the BBC 'Wild Pacific' series on hard drive, so we've had a few movie nights with our friends.

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Sept. 6 - Checking out of French Polynesia....

A few days ago we hiked to the southeast ridge of Taiohoe Bay and had wonderful views of the bay and ocean. Yesterday we explored a seldom visited site and visited a local marae called Paepae. It's a large ceremonial area with tikis from around the various islands of French Polynesia. (See updated photo album). Aboard, last minute preparations are underway to do final shopping, a final laundry, get our internet fix, and check out with the Gendarmerie. And, of course, we had to have our last cheeseburger (the best in the Marquesas!) at Babazouks, a waterfront roulette not to be missed, and run by our dear friends Laurent and Laetitia! It's hard to believe we've been in French Polynesia for almost six months! Hawaii here we come! We'll miss having daily wifi, but for anyone emailing us, please use our SailMail address and, again, no forwards or attachments please. With no internet until Hawaii, we won't be able to upload anymore pictures for a while, but Sue updated our picture albums yesterday, so enjoy! Our 2000 nm track to Hawaii can also be followed on Yotreps (KJ4IHF - Infini; note: we hope we've got Yotreps set up for proper position reporting!). Our next blog entries will be when we're underway, so our best to everyone and hope to hear from you!

Comptroller Bay, Nuku Hiva, Aug. 30

S08deg.52.8 / W140deg.02.7
We motored (after trying to motorsail) the 12 miles to windward to get to Comptroller Bay, where we anchored in the middle 'finger'- Hakahaa Bay; the closest to the village of Taipivai. The weather was overcast and rainy, but the beauty of the valley was not lost. We walked the 'horseshoe loop around the valley from one side of the bay, across the river, to the other side where we visited Bernard, a local artist who carves bone and shell. His wife makes jewelry out of the local seeds. We chose not to do extensive hiking to find the area Herman Melville hid out back in the 1840's, as Matt is recuperating from a sore ankle and 'nono' bites from our last walk. It still amazes me that one or two people out of a big group will get targeted for the kisses of the insect world. He inherits Michael's sensitivities for that. We spent one night before returning to Taiohae to join our friends on Soggy Paws again, and to do the last of our provisioning and get the last internet fix before Hawaii.
The picture is of Matt in his favorite spot on Infini.

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Aug. 28, 2010 Daniel's Bay, (Baie de Taioa)

We returned to Daniels Bay along with our friends on Soggy Paws. What a wonderful 5 days we had. A crew of workers had been busy and cleared the already good trail to the village of Hakaui even better. The flowers and plants were in bloom, as there's been more rain. Hence the hike to Vaipo Waterfalls was much wetter, the falls themselves a gushing thunderous roar now...not a weak stream. The rocks we sat on in the cave alcove at the base of the falls before were now underwater, and the windy mist was very strong. We saw the eels in the pond this time....coming up to eat scraps from our packed lunches. The next day we were guests of Ma'i and Maria for a Marquesan meal. Breadfruit prepared two ways, goat in coconut milk, and fish (that Matt helped spear fish earlier in the day with them)...A good time was had by all.
Our hike up to the southwest ridge with Maria as our guide was a highlight for me. As Michael doesn't enjoy playing like a billy goat, he stayed aboard and passed on the 1600ft. steep climb. We really did see a lot of wild goats....there were plenty of them around! The view was incredible, with the pastures on the opposite side so different from where we came. Matt has a pair of 'five fingers' foot wear that is very unusual for us, let alone the Marquesan's here. There was one casuality; a loosened rock that was careening down hit the back leg of Maria's dog, and put a nasty gash in her foot. After being carried by Maria for awhile, she was able to hobble back down with her now wrapped up foot. What a reminder of what can happen in the outback...we're hoping she heals without any problems!
FYI- Matt has his own website ....www.kitingadventures.com
We're both having trouble posting pictures, as the internet is painfully slow when we do have it......
Can you see Infini and Soggy Paws in the middle bay? An incredible view from the top!

The crew has returned - Aug. 19, 2010

Sue and Matt (along with four heavy pieces of luggage), had two full days of travel from Florida to Nuku Hiva to join Michael aboard Infini. Laurent and Laetitia drove Michael, Dave and Sherry (what a nice surprise!) in a borrowed 4 wheel drive pickup truck to greet us at the airport. The traditional Marquesan lei's we received were beautiful! We then toured part of the island, stopping at an overlook of Comptroller Bay for an incredible picnic lunch. We also visited an ancient me'ae (Marquesan equivalent of marae, where religious ceremonies were performed). Next stop was a friend of Laurent & Laetitia's in Taipivai that is a tattoo artist, as well as a bone carver. It was a very winding road, with numerous switchbacks, and we needed the 4 wheel drive; it's not completely paved. The weather in the mountains was rainy, and dodging the horses, cows and piglets was a challenge. We made it back before sundown; time to unpack (where's it all going to go?) and get 'acclimated' once again to the rolly motion of this anchorage.

It's been a whirlwind two weeks...8-17-10

For Sue that is....she flew to Florida for their youngest son's college graduation. Congratulations Matt! He will now be joining us on Infini...a break he's been looking forward to for some time. We will be staying in the Marquises until we leave for Hawaii.
Michael has been tending the boat in Nuku Hiva....we won't leave Infini unattended at anchor...and the closest marina is a weeks sail away in Tahiti. So Sue got to see family, catch up with friends and shop for more things to bring back...one being a replacement topping lift that has frayed (another 'thank you' that it didn't part at a most inopportune time).

Fri. July 23, Taiohae Bay, Nuka Hiva. The Bird Dance and an early morning boat dance

What a night viewing the Marquesan dancing! Sue noted that this was our third Friday night at Heiva (Fete) celebrations, and this evening's theme was the bird dance. People dressed up in elaborate costumes, and drums beat out a rhythm to traditional singing while the soloists did their interpretive dancing representing birds, their feeding, mating rituals and flight. We watched wonderful displays of balance and coordination, and the audience cheered and clapped thru each group's dance. Two MC's narrated in French and Marquesan. It occurred to me that it was very impressive that so many young people participated in these dances; we think five years old was the youngest dancer; the majority of dancers were teenagers; all sizes and weights, and all actively involved in the performance. Most were elaborately tatooed; all wore grass or palm costumes, headbands and colorful necklaces of tooth, shell or feather. Many people in the audience were busy taking flash photos; it all ended too soon. A local band then took over; people danced, but we couldn't figure why one of their songs was "Feliz Navidad!" - maybe they're getting ready a bit early around here! The next morning (Sat. July 24) we awoke early for the weekly Sat. 0400-0600 farmers market. M didn't make it in as he had fended off a neighboring boat that had dragged down on us and would have hit our stern and self-steering vane had he not gently pushed the other vessel's radar arch away; fortunately the winds were gentle or the outcome would have been different. He stayed to ensure that a repeat bump would not occur, and at first light the single-hander woman captain of the boat came over by dinghy to let us know her windlass was broken, so we moved Infini to another location and all's well.

July 20 - Walking with the elders - a hike to the waterfall

We left early to make the high tide into the river and tied our dinghy to a boat owned by a local Marquesan named Ma'i, who lives on the waterfront in the small cove called Hakaui Bay adjacent to and west of Hakatea (also known as Daniel's) Bay. We had picked up Rich and Jan of sv Slip Away and hiked the several kilometers in beautiful forest to Vaipo waterfall, allegedly the third highest waterfall in the world. There was a pool at the bottom of it, and the water was, as expected, c-o-l-d. Sue, Rich and Jan climbed just a bit more to the cavern by the falls, which was a small trickle of its powerful state. We watched the tropic birds in their graceful flight land in the outcroppings of the towering walls above us. After eating lunch, we slowly made our way back thru the woods. Rock cairns marked the path, which went thru ancient areas of rock structures that we think represented building sites. Stone tohua (meeting places), me'ae (Marquesan equivalent of marae, where religious ceremonies were performed), pae pae (stone platforms that were used as foundations for ancient Marquesan houses), and ti'i(known elsewhere as tiki).Passion fruit, mango and noni fruits littered the path, while the biggest danger was falling coconuts (seriously). M walked point and stayed ahead of the rest of us, talking to the rocks and trees, and paying his respects to all the Native elders who went before us and requesting safe passage thru their lands.

July 17 - Daniel's Bay

We raised anchor and sailed the five miles west to well protected Taioa Bay (Hakatea), known by most as Daniel's Bay--named after the friendly Marquesan and his wife Antoinette (now deceased). We were surprised to be the only boat here, but by day's end, six sailboats were anchored for the night. The bay is more protected from the ocean swells; you feel like you're in a 'bowl' with the high cliffs and lush valleys encircling the bay. We hiked half of the 2+hr. walk to the Vaipo waterfall, the third highest in the world (according to Charley's Charts). We were just out for a stretch of the legs and not prepared for a full day event, as we'll make the trip again when some other friends of ours arrive. The landscape is amazing here. Fruit is abundant; mangoes and bananas hanging from trees; passion fruit, Noni fruit, citrus trees...the gardening and farming is well kept up. We've found free roaming chickens and roosters on every island that's inhabited, and horses loosely tethered to a rich grazing area. M spotted wild goats in the higher crags of some surrounding mountains.

July 14 Heiva Celebrations; Fete, Taiohae, Nuka Hiva

We spent Bastille Day starting in the early morning assisting an English yacht (Magic Bus) with engine troubles. Three of us anchored boats took our dingies out and hip towed the 49' boat to the anchorage. (Later worked on by an American yachtie who was an electrician, it turned out this boat had lots of electrical issues - the starter was fried along with the starter solenoid, and the windlass and generator had also failed; the boat had been on passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas). Activities ashore began with commemorative ceremonies and were followed by a colorful parade consisting of pick-up trucks that were decorated with flowers and palm fronds, and that had bands playing in the back as they slowly drove down the waterfront; beautiful horses ridden by tattooed locals that pranced and stepped to show off their training as they moved along; groups of various traditionally dressed folks (adults and children) who stopped by the reviewing stand and sang for the dignitaries; and a benediction before the entire parade broke up for a break before food was served. Covered open tents had been set up the day before, and tables of food were served to everyone for the taking; people were lined up 4-5 deep helping themselves to the free sandwiches, fruits and deserts...all you could eat. We had bought some "street meat," which we were pretty sure was roasted pig on a skewer (100 ff per) and went inside to sit down and order beers at one of the restaurants located inside the pavilion area. More traditional dancing took place and the entire area filled up quickly. The yachties were easily identified, and our table kept expanding as other crews wandered in. After a few hours of eating and socializing, we returned to Infini for a rest, and gathered later in the afternoon aboard a Dutch boat (Blue Penguin) for Happy Hour before returning to shore for the evening's activities. Once again, traditional dancing took place, and we only wished there had been an interpreter to explain the Marquesan songs and dances. When the troupe finally finished, a local band began playing, and we danced a bit before finally returning to the boat. What a great day; colorful, lots of activities and socializing, and beautiful weather!

July 11 - Taiohae Bay

I've heard that the singing alone was worth going to Sunday Mass at many of the Catholic Church's in the Marquesas. Forget that you can't understand a word- since it's in the local dialect-which is similar to Hawaiian and totally different from Tahitian. The acapella harmonizing was out of this world- no instrumental accompaniment needed. The Cathedral suits the landscape, and the Marquesan wood carving art work was a sight to behold. The crucifix as well as the stations of the cross were all locally hand carved; the alter a simple slab of stone. None of the overdone opulence I'm used to seeing; no stained glass....beauty in simplicity, the open rafters and overhangs keeping it well ventilated and cool.
Another thing not to be missed is the traditional Marquesan 'body art', ie tattoos. We were happy to see our single hander friend Keith on Atalanta here, and he was interested in getting his first tattoo. He was disappointed to learn they are no longer administered in the traditional manor of etching with a sharks tooth! We were pointed in the direction of the local artist named Brice (pronounced Breeze), and accompanied Keith to his appointment. He now has a beautiful permanent souvenir, as do many other sailors who have come this way.
So, we've been enjoying meeting folks from all over...taking turns with sun-downers on different boats. We had 11 in our cockpit....it lasted a bit past sundown - 10 pm saw the lst dinghy leaving! A good time was had by all!

July 7 - Nuka Hiva

What a nice day we had today. We started off hiking towards the fuel docks in a gentle rise of paved road that had a few switchbacks and ended up back in town. There were nice views from above the bay of the anchored boats although there was a slight rain falling. We then stopped for fresh tuna sushimi and croisson poi for an early lunch. We hit the grocery store (seems it's become a daily visit) and did a bit of provisioning. In the afternoon we returned to Nuka Hiva Yacht Services located right by the dinghy dock. This outfit is run by a local named Moetai, and can arrange tours, car rentals, fuel delivery to your boat, taxis to the airport, laundry and other yacht related services. As of this writing, wash and dry is 1000 ff per load. The local fisherman had just come in and were filleting their catch (snapper, wahoo and a few other fish I couldn't identify) at their tables in front of the dinghy dock, so we bought 4 kilos of wahoo (500 ff per kilo). Fresh wahoo and tuna sashimi the same day - how good does it get? The rain has been intermittant and according to Moetai, a welcome change from the dry conditions that have prevailed for the last several months.

July 6 - Taiohae, Nuka Hiva

Nuka Hiva (pop. 2600) is the second largest island in French Polynesia (after Tahiti). It has varied terrain, from steep wind swept cliffs to lush river valleys and deep bays to a third of the island being desert. The main town of Taiohae serves as the capitol for all of the Marquesas. (Only six of the fifteen islands are inhabited). It is also where Herman Melville (Typee) jumped ship in 1842 and hid out near the village of Taipivai.

In between drying the boat out, cleaning, and even recaulking a few deck and rail fittings, we've walked the waterfront road. On the road heading east is the hospital, P.O. and gendarme, and going west are found many small stores (magazins), stalls, a bank with ATM, artisan boutiques and historical sites. We found Rose Corser at her Museum/Boutique. She settled here with her husband Frank (now deceased) after many years of sailing, opened an Inn and has been a friend to cruisers ever since. She sold out to a Tahiti conglomerate 3 yrs. ago and is building another Inn/Restaurant which will be adjacent to her Museum/ Boutique. Two evenings ago we went to the cultural center to watch a part of the celebrations leading up to the July 14th Fete celebrated throughout French Polynesia. Locals perfomed traditional dances in native costumes and singing and drums accompanied the troupes from the various villages of the island. It was very well attended and we really enjoyed the display, even though we didn't understand the MC's explanations - it was all in Polynesian!
There's a lot of history, culture, and traditions to read and learn about...and many different bays to explore. We'll be watching the weather for any subtle changes in the easterly winds, to prepare for departure to check out other locations.

July 2 - Infini is safely anchored at Taiohae Bay (Nuka Hiva, Marquesas)

Position: lat08deg54min;long140deg06min. We had a difficult 6 day passage in high winds and rough seas from Fakarava to the Marquesas. We had hoped to stop in Fatu Hiva first, but the weather was so contrary it was not to be. We arrived at Nuka Hiva at dawn, and experienced more squally conditions typical of this last week. We also experienced engine trouble again, but that was fixed just in time to motor sail the last few miles to windward and get to the anchorage. Last night we, once again, saw the Southern Cross, and I couldn't help but think of the Crosby, Stills and Nash song of that same title, and how we were experiencing a magical night, even if the winds were a constant 25 knots with higher gusts, and the seas were 10-12 feet and rough. So, we'll be exploring the Marquesas for the next 8 weeks or so and will continue to update our blog entries about these fabled islands. Right now it's relaxation time...


[d]2010-06-30 16:01Z

June 28 - What we did the last two days...

Position: lat S13deg34min; longW142deg44min. I've battled what turned out to be a nasty airlock in the intake to the engine saltwater pump. It all started when we noted no water flow thru the "pee hole" which empties into the cockpit scupper (more boats should have these "pee holes" as a way to determine engine water flow without resorting to hanging overboard and trying to see the exhaust.) Starting at the thru hull, I traced the intake line to the strainer, then to the pump, then to the oil cooler; you'd think this would have been an easy fix. No way. There was great flow thru the seacock, but very little out of the strainer onwards. What??!! Finally, after verifying the integrity of the pump, which meant dismantling it from the block, changing the impeller, and ensuring said impeller was rotating on the shaft (seen when the pump cover's off and the engine is quickly "goosed" ie:started), I back filled all the hoses and pump, cracked the hose clamps on the seacock (only try this with the seacock closed) and made sure there was water flow from the hose that attached to the oil cooler all the way back thru the pump, the strainer, and down to the seacock. Finally...good water flow with the engine started, and a great sigh of relief. We have no idea why we would suddenly develop an airlock, but...all cruisers know shit happens. We're presently enroute to the Marquesas. Weather has been pretty good, if you don't count the squalls and periods of no wind last night, and it's blowing 18-20 but pushing us off our rhumb line further in a north direction than we want (we'd like to be going northeast). Hopefully, we'll get a favorable wind shift tonight or tomorrow which will allow us to aim more at our destination, Fatu Hiva. Although, we've kind of decided that any landfall in the Marquesas would be really good in these conditions, so we'll see what the next 2-3 days bring!

June 27 - General thoughts on the Tuamotus

We really enjoyed the Tuamotus atolls. They offer something for everyone: isolated atolls or atolls with small villages, depending on your mood; interesting navigation thru the passes with the necessity of timing your entry/exit for slack water, not an easy task even in good weather; great diving and snorkling, with schools of fish, shark and colors that are a photographer's dream; lovely beaches and reefs, with the opportunity to go shelling and lobstering; wonderful people who welcome you with smiles, from the adults to the kids; black pearls, which are only to be found produced by the local oysters; and last, not to be forgotten, fresh baguettes and croissants, depending on where you are, that are absolutely delicious! We've only been to three atolls (Makemo, Fakarava and Toau) but we think with careful navigation, GPS, and good charts, the atolls of the Tuamotus should be on many more cruisers itineraries. Also, one other wonderful resource deserves special mention. "The Tuamotus Compendium" was put together by our friends aboard the sv Soggy Paws (Dave and Sherry) and Visions of Johanna (Bill, Johanna, and Gram). It can be found on either vessel's website, and offers a wealth of up to date information for those cruisers planning on spending time here. Check it out!

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June 26 - Goodbye Fakarava!

We raised anchor about 0730 after untwisting our chain from multiple coral heads. Sue had to snorkel to direct me steering the boat as I went back and forth from the helm to the windlass to raise the anchor. We exited the south pass without problem, and had a very nice day sailing in winds of 14-16 knots. We're enroute to Fatu Hiva, Marquesas and are very excited to be underway again. We're checking in with the Pacific Seafarer's Net during this 500+ nm passage, and you can follow our progress at the Pangolin.nz internet site by looking for my Ham call sign, KJ4IHF, and following the info there.

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June 23 - Fakarava south pass - It finally happened...

We've owned Infini for about twelve years and we finally had someone come up to us and recognize her from when her previous owners, Chris and Laura, from whom we bought the boat, had circumnavigated during their four years of ownership. Joanie and Guy, presently on their 49' Trintella named Pickles, along with their four children, had previously (before kids) owned a boat named Forte, and they and Infini kept meeting up in various parts of the world. We've always wondered if anyone would recognize Infini from her previous time around, and it's taken us this long to have that question answered! Meanwhile, we're waiting for a favorable weather window to leave Fakarava so we can gain some easting in order to turn towards the Marquesas (NE). It's been blowing mostly from the E-NE, so we'll wait for the SE winds, expected in the next couple of days, to return before departure.
(The picture is of Nakia at anchor here with us for awhile.)


[d]2010-06-22 16:06Z

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June 20 - Tonae, Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus - A nice anchorage

Lat 16deg15.558S/Long 145deg32.851W Today was one of those days that started off with promise, deteriorated in weather conditions that sucked, and ended up in the discovery of a place not even mentioned in the guides. We had departed the north anchorage of Fakarava for what was to have been an uneventful motor sail down to the south pass anchorage. About a third of the way down the wind picked up until it blew 22 knots on our nose, accompanied by a short two foot chop that would have been OK, but the tide changed against us and we were doing about 1.5 knots over ground. Dark clouds were scudding past and it was obvious we weren't going to make our destination. We had previously anchored in a spot mentioned in Bonnette's "Guide to Navigation and Tourism in French Polynesia" but I recalled a beautiful small sandy beach cove nearby that anchorage that looked enticing, so we turned around and took another hour to get to that spot. What a great place (lat/long noted above). We dropped anchor in 31' of sand, there weren't too many bommies, and we listened to the wind howl in the rigging. The most I saw in one of the many squalls that poured rain on us was 33 knots, but we were snug and secure behind a small promontory of land that protected us from the NE winds in the squalls, without uncomfortable swell. We spent a very pleasant night in a beautiful spot; a nice end to the day!

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June 17 - Fakarava

We saw Jon off for Papeete today; thankfully the airport there has reopened and resumed regular flights after being shut down by a strike in Tahiti. How many people can say they've been dropped off at the airstrip by dinghy! His visit seemed to go by so quickly, and we all have great memories of scuba dives here at Fakarava as well as at Toau, snorkeling, shelling, farkel games, back gammon games, and introducing him to other cruisers. The cruising lifestyle is so different than most others, and Jon adapted to ours and had a chance to unwind and relax after completing a very busy first year of medical school at the University of Central Florida. The V berth sure looks empty without him! We took lots of pictures, shared many great meals and enjoyed his company immensely! He returns to Florida rested and tanned, and ready to resume life in the big city!

June 10 - Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus

We really enjoyed our time in Toau. Our friends on Soggy Paws were very helpful in getting Jon and Sue out diving a few times. It's been 9 years since Jon last dove; so the refresher course and gear check from Dave & Sherry were much appreciated. What adventures...the amount and variety of schools of fish and coral...the wall and drop off into the abyss was very dramatic. We also went on a few dinghy expeditions into the lagoon with friends...and found a beach/reef area to beach comb; we came across a few small black tip sharks, a few crabs, one flounder, and a couple eels (man, are they fast!). We returned with many cowry shells, augers, pencil urchin spines and lots of shells we don't know the name of. We really need to buy a good shell book! Fortunately, our friend Gerald, aboard sv Whiskers from South Africa, is a shell expert, and was able to help us identify many of our finds.
One afternoon we had a Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) gam, with four boats represented (Infini, Whoosh, Nakia and Soggy Paws), along with 'guests' from two other boats (Tutatis and Whiskers). The main topic of discussion was, what else, weather, and we shared information and opinions about this most important subject. Learning the idiosyncracies of the weather here in French Polynesia is challenging, and just when you think you understand the patterns, something comes along to add uncertainty and crazy conditions to your day!
Valentine and Gaston had 17 of us for dinner last night. We had gone in early to play bocce ball. There were three teams of two competing in a round robin. We also gave Gaston a new beach volleyball, and he and Jon immediately got into a game. For supper we had rice, fried fish, seared ahi tuna, poisson cru, and grilled lobster, topped off by chocolate covered coconut cake. We all rolled into the dinghy and got back to Infini at 1100....
The boats in Anse Amyot are going in several directions. We motor sailed back in 6-8 knots of wind to Fakarava, as the SE trades are supposed to fill in a few days, making the trip back here that much more of a chore (strong trade winds right on the nose). Many of the other boats were waiting for just that kind of wind to go to Papeete. And, as always, a few new boats showed up every day; it's the season! Back anchored near the village of Rotoava in Fakarava, we saw our friends on Stray Kitty who we hadn't seen since the Galapagos, as well as our new friends aboard Trim, Tutatis, and Anthem, the latter sailed by a guy named Jack from St. Petersburg, Fl. It's a small world out there...

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[d]2010-06-06 16:05Z

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June 4 - Anse Amyot, Toau. Happy Birthday Michael!

What a wonderful birthday! Sue cooked multigrain pancakes and we had them with the real maple syrup, unavailable here, that Jon had brought with him. We then went for a beach walk and exploration, shelling and going to the ocean side of a neighboring motu. Jon and I then helped several boats with their mooring lines as they came into the area. We later snorkeled the reef nearby, seeing eels, grouper, and multitudes of tropical fish. For dinner, Valentine and Gaston had suggested we use the restaurant area for a cruisers potluck, and all the boats in the anchorage participated. There was freshly caught mahi mahi, chicken stew, rice, couscous, cornbread, baguettes, pate on homemade bread, cole slaw and other food there. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me in English and then French, and one couple even sang it in Portuguese! For dessert, there was chocolate covered coconut cake, an upside down pineapple cake, a banana tort, and a peach broulee. We were all stuffed! Valentine and Gaston gave me a beautiful shell necklace and a perfectly polished pearl shell, and our cruiser friends gave me unexpected, and much appreciated, gifts of rum, fishing lures, a red flare and an LED finger flashlight! We then watched a slide show on Sherry's computer of their recent dives; just beautiful! A very memorable evening, and tomorrow morning there's a beach clean up scheduled at 1000. Always something going on, and people coming and going here in Anse Amyot.

June 3 - Anse Amyot, Toau Atoll

We left at 0630 and had a great sail to the northwest corner of Toau, entering a small cul de sac which has about a dozen moorings and a small restaurant run by a couple, Valentine and Gaston, who have become cruiser favorites for their renown hospitality and generosity. There's lots of places to dive and snorkel, beaches to go shelling at, and the all weather protection is very good.
Jon caught a small wahoo on the way...fresh fish for the first time in awhile!

June 2 - Fakarava

Our son, Jon, arrives today. We started walking to the airport but a truck stopped before we had gotten far and offered us a ride there. It was great seeing Jon again, and he gets to stay two weeks with us! It started raining a bit just when we collected his bags, but, again, we were offered a ride back to the quay where the dinghy was, so everything worked out great. Tonight we're going into town to hear some music, and will eat at a roulette here, at what I refer to as the "hippie van," as it's painted with large multi-colored flowers all over! Our friends Jack and Patricia from sv Whoosh came into the anchorage today, so they'll join us as well as the crews of LeuCat and Beaujolais for dinner.

May 30 - Happy Mother's Day...

Celebrated today here at Fakarava Atoll in French Polynesia! We went to dinner last night along with the crews of sv Trim, Beaujoulais, Bamboozle, Worral Wind and Onda. We sat in this small beach snack shack opened only on the weekends, and the food was good; a choice of steak frite, lemon chicken, chow mein, or croisson cru. There was a guy playing keyboards and singing, and the waitresses all smiled and made everyone feel welcomed. At about 0315 a supply ship came into the quay, but when we later got out of bed at 0530, he had already gone. Wind is up today, blowing ESE at 20 with higher gusts, but the sun's shining and forecast is for the wind to moderate tomorrow. Btw, a brief note about food prices. Two days ago, the post office converted USD at 1 USD to 88 ff. There are no banks or ATM's here at Fakarava. A 24 can case of Hinano beer was $72 USD; each can costs $3.00USD; eggs are $.48USD each; baguettes are 65ff, about $.74USD each; chocolate croissants are about $1.50USD each; pamplemouuse, which we got free in the Gambiers, is $4.77/kg here. We look for foods with a red label; those are foods subsidized by the French government, hence a bit less costly than most. Fortunately, we don't need too much as we're still eating those provisions we bought in Panama.

May 27 Rotoava, Fakarava

Anchored at 16.03.16S 145.37.2W
We motorsailed up the marked channel to the village of Rotoava, in the NW corner of the lagoon, where our friends on Soggy Paws and Visions of Johanna are spending one more night, before leaving for another atoll. Sherry had us all aboard for a delicious fish stew dinner, and we got the low down about the village here. We've got internet again, and are awaiting the arrival of our son Jon in a week. We'll explore the town, stretch our legs and enjoy our internet 'fix', load up on fresh, warm baguettes and croissants, and do some provisioning. We've also been welcoming and meeting boats coming in from the Marquesas...part of the PPJ group. Most boats on the 'milk run' go to Marquesas first, then stop briefly here in the Tuomotus, before heading to Tahiti and westward either to NZ or Australia for the cyclone season. Our current plan is to visit the Marquesas in July/Aug. and head to Hawaii sometime in September. It's nice not to have to rush and be out of French Polynesia in the usual 3 months. That extra work to get our 6 mo. extended stay visa for French Polynesia is paying off! We'd then return from Hawaii to French Polynesia in April/May 2011 for a new 90 day stay; thereby giving us a total of 9 months here over two seasons. Nice....

May 24 - Sometimes the guide books and electronic charts get it wrong...

Lat S16deg16min; LongW145deg32min.
Last night we anchored at a beautiful spot named Hirifa, which has a sandy beach we went shelling at this morning at low tide, and a number of seasonal buildings used by the copra workers and fisherman. We used one of our many guidebooks to motor along a "fairway" marked with red and green markers to arrive at a small cove named Oreihara. A bow lookout is still helpful, as coral and rock shoals are scattered and await if you wander too far off the fairway. One of the electronic chart sources we use showed several markers that are no longer there, a somewhat common occurrence. One of our guidebooks had all five of its suggested anchoring spots one degree of latitude off, a typographical error. But, even with corrections applied, one of its anchoring suggestions was in 95' of water, a bit deep for most of us! So, the moral is to use guidebooks and electronic charts judiciously, and apply a healthy dose of skepticism and common sense.

May 21 - Anchoring in the Tuamotus

Anchored at Fakarava atoll; Position Lat S16deg30min; Long W145deg27min
We've had a steep learning curve adapting to anchoring techniques here in the lagoons of the Tuamotus. The bottom of many of the atolls is a hard marl, mixed sand with rock and coral. Anchors have a hard time biting, and chain scorches across the tops of the coral and gets twisted below much of the coral. So, here's a typical scenario. Depth is 45'-50' and a small area of sand is spotted in decent light to consider dropping the anchor in. Consider, with the wind and current, dropping the hook exactly on that small patch of sand, actually hard crust, is problematical. Having enough swinging room so the boat doesn't hit another coral head when she swings is paramount, and snorkeling the anchor and surrounding area is a must. Example: three days ago we anchored west of the NW pass at Makemo atoll. Depth was 47', bottom marl and hard coral. Current was fast, and when we finally dropped, the anchor hooked in and the boat swung violently around to a standstill. I figured the chain had wrapped around a coral head, a typical occurrence, or the anchor fluke had grabbed underneath one. Sue donned her snorkel gear and I tied a line to her and had to pull her towards the bow of the boat against the current as she couldn't swim against it. When she finally spotted the chain, her comment after removing her snorkel was "It disappears in the abyss." "Shit", I thought to myself; she can't even spot the anchor. It had disappeared between coral heads, with who knows exactly how much chain along with it, and getting it out will be a challenge. Aboard, we maneuvered the boat forward and our powerfull Maxwell HWC 3500 windlass couldn't budge the anchor/chain although the bow was directly over the disappearing chain. The bowsprit dipped as we tried different angles of pull in an effort to free our 88 pound Delta anchor. I was about resigned to losing an anchor and chalking it up to bad luck when Sue said why don't we try one more time. Sure enough, the anchor broke free and we managed to retrieve it without damage to it or Infini. Luck, for sure.

Diving the anchor is often a solution to help free it, but the current was so strong at that time of the day we would have had to wait until the next morning for a slack tide to even consider donning tanks and wrestling with the big 88 Delta. So, sometimes luck really does play a part in this anchoring dance. We finally departed Makemo for an overnight sail to Fakarava atoll. Entering the pass with a two knot current behind us presented no great difficulty, but finding a place to anchor in front of the small village nearby the pass was another story. We first anchored amongst the coral and marl, but when snorkeling I noticed a coral head we hadn't seen previously. It rose just high enough to be a threat if the wind changed and Infini swung around. So, up came the anchor and we moseyed around looking for another patch to drop in. Attempt two went pretty well until I donned mask and snorkel and spotted old fish trap lines and buoys that our anchor was resting on top of, and the anchor itself was sitting pretty as she lay directly on top of a coral head! We had stopped swinging when we backed up and you guessed it, our chain was wrapped around a coral head, thereby stopping the boat. I felt fortunate we hadn't hooked one of the old wire and rope fish lines with our anchor, as that would have likely ended up with me scuba diving to free the anchor. So, with Sue once again in the water with snorkel gear on directing me as I ran back and forth from the helm to the windlass, we managed to untangle the chain and pull up the anchor again. On our third attempt, we managed to have the Delta dig in, and I had buoyed the chain with a large float about 50' from the bow. So, that helps keep the chain from wrapping around every single coral head surrounding us, but doesn't absolutely prevent a wrap. We use an anchor snubber as part of our anchoring process, and we're hopeful this third attempt will give us a restful night's sleep! In discussions with every other boat, it seems wrapping your chain around a coral head is a daily occurrence, and some folks don't even worry about their anchor "digging in." The only thing that gets me super nervous is if the water is too deep to even see the bottom; then it's really a crap shoot where the anchor is and if it's dug in or just the chain wrapped around a coral head when the boat stops moving upon backing down. Well, I guess that's one of the reasons the Tuamotus aren't on everyone's itinerary! It's been a learning process, for sure!

May 20 - Anchored at Fakarava

Lat S16deg30min;W145deg27min: Weather forecast was for very light to no wind over the next 5 days, so we decided to depart Makemo and motor to Fakarava. We had a rough time retrieving our anchor - I'll write more about that in another blog entry, but it finally came up and we had no trouble exiting the NW pass at Makemo. We motored about 65 miles and a light northerly wind finally came up at 0300, allowing us to slowly sail the rest of the way to Fakarava. We entered Tumakohua Pass at 0715, and anchored shortly after. Several other boats are here, including Soggy Paws, Visions of Johanna and Nakia. This atoll is 32 miles long by 15 miles wide, with lots of places to explore, and the pass diving is reputed to be the best in all of the Tuamotus. We'll rest up a bit and look forward to having fun here! Tonight it's dinner ashore at the family run Pension Motu Aito, with our friends and the guests--an Italian and a Japanese couple. Bill from V of J, John from Nakia, and Dave from Soggy Paws went with our host, Manihi, outside of the atoll on a fishing trip, and managed to catch the wahoo that was served. Talk about fresh!

May 17 - Makemo

Lat S16deg27.1mi; W143deg57.8min. Happy birthday Tyson and Sophia! We raised anchor this morning and moved to an anchorage just west of Tapuhiria Pass at the NW corner of Makemo. We're just beside the pass channel, and you can see the current rip thru here (it's 1200 noon local time), by my estimate at 8-10 knots! We've got a good bite with the big Delta in 42' sand, so we'll put on our anchor alarm and relax! Next: exploration by dinghy at slack tide!

May 14 - Anchored in Makemo

We had moved northwest in the atoll to another anchorage two days ago. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been all that wonderful, so we haven't been able to explore off the boat. We are apparently under the influence of the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ); if you think ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone), you'll recall rainy weather, squalls, calms and high winds; a real mixed bag, and that's what the SPCZ is like. Our anchor keeps wrapping around coral heads, a very common occurrence in the Tuamotus, so we usually snorkel it and move the boat accordingly if necessary. Our friends at other atolls have had even worse weather; we keep an informal SSB radio net twice daily to say hi and chat. So far, we've had this anchorage all to ourselves (besides the small silver with white stripe ramoras that hang out under the boat); hopefully we'll get to explore the nearby beautiful beaches and coral heads soon.

May 10 - Anchored at Makemo, off the village of Pouheva

Lat S16deg37min/Long W143deg34min. We're safely anchored at Makemo Island, after going thru our first pass in the Tuamotus. (Arikitamiro; all the passes have a name, though we can't pronounce them!). We departed Rikitea May 4th thinking we'd stop at Hao Island, but strong winds and waves prevented us from doing so. A nearby motu, Amanu Island, was tempting, but again, we were stymied by strong weather. So, with little choice, we continued on for another two nights and went thru the pass here at Makemo at 0847 and were anchored in front of the village by 0915. The sight of five large windmills in the village shocked us, as they were probably the last thing we expected to see in the Tuamotus. Timing of your transit thru the passes of all these islands involves more, I think, black magic than art. It's important to time your passage as close to slack water as possible, as tidal outflows at some islands can reach 20 knots! Yikes! But, every guide book quoted a different methodology of calculating slack water, and everyone we met also was confused. So, you've got to figure the time of high tide, low tide, when the meridian passage of the moon is (no,I'm not kidding), and when moonrise and moonset are. Then you try to figure the passes of the motu itself....is it a large atoll like Makemo (40 miles in length and 10 miles wide (at it's widest point!), allowing a constant flux of water in, thereby shutting down all bets as to timing. It just goes on and on. We probably just got lucky, but we found this pass easy to navigate without any appreciable current against us, and had a small handkerchief of jib out in the 18 knots of wind forward of the beam. We had short tacked all night, and we used the computer nav. program (we're using Max Sea) to help calculate set and drift to allow us to be just off the pass at the time we wanted to be there. The weather cooperated, and our big problem was slowing the boat down! We had practiced heaving to, and used various sail combinations up during the afternoon, but I still wasn't happy. We were going just as fast under bare poles than with a small amount of jib out! At the time, winds were 20 knots, seas 4'-6'; not bad for around here! So, we're tired but very happy to be here. We've snorkeled the anchor, (crystal clear water!) and the chain is partially wrapped around a coral head, but that seems to be what it's like around this particular spot. We'll launch the dinghy and explore the town tomorrow, and possibly move to another anchorage in a day or so.
Btw, a short bit of Tuamotus factoids. Before the use of GPS and accurate charts, the islands here used to be called "The Dangerous Archipelago." Many ships sank due to uncharted reefs and unpredictable currents. Numerous coral heads lurk just beneath the surface inside the lagoons of most motus. But, the fishing, diving, and beaches are reputed to be excellent, and it's certainly far enough out of the way to not worry about an over abundance of tourists! There are 76 islands, of which 45 are inhabited and 29 atolls have airstrips. The Tuamotu Island chain runs from the SE to the NW, and lies between Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands, and are under French jurisdiction. Pearl cultivation, as well as copra harvesting, are found throughout the islands.
The picture is of when we were coming in the pass.