I awoke and changed out the lead of the snubber line. This is a piece of line that is tied from the boat to the anchor chain that acts like a shock absorber, so when the boat surges back on its anchor chain, the nylon line stretches a bit rather than the chain pulling back over the bronze bow roller onto the windlass wildcat, a fancy name for the drum where the chain comes over and is led down into the boat's chain locker.....whew....at any rate....we usually anchor with a single piece of double braided nylon that goes over the anchor roller and ends in a 3/8" SS chainhook, attached to the large 10" cleat midline just aft of the windlass. I decided to try attaching the SS chainhook in the middle of the nylon double braid, allowing me to bring in the line thru both sides of the boat's forward most hawse holes. Unfortunately, one side of the nylon is always under pressure pulling the boat just a bit off center line leaving the other side hard against the bobstay, so I didn't like that idea very much due to chafe of the nylon. It only took a few minutes to go back to our original way of snubbing things, so my coffee was still hot when I got done. Our friend Sverke, a Swedish fellow who's been single handing for the last three years (from Sweden, around the horn), then stopped by to help me figure out why the oar of our Sailomat windvane wasn't swinging freely (it had frozen up and was stiff). He also uses a Sailomat wind vane so was quite familiar with them. We took the vane off and brought it to the foredeck where we could work on it, and finally found one bearing surface that was corroded and binding up the entire mechanism. We cleaned and lubricated the culprit area, and remounted the vane. When he left, I got busy on the dinghy's Tohatsus 9.8 h.p. outboard engine. It didn't run properly, and the high speed jet refused to open, so it surged and sputtered, and just wasn't happy. After taking apart and cleaning the fuel pump, the carburator, decanting and filtering the fuel, and changing the spark plugs, it still had the same problem. Hmmm. I then remembered that when I removed the spark plugs, one of them had salt water corrosion on the end where the wire to the coil attaches. If you've been reading our blog, you'll recall that Sue had the dinghy and outboard flip over on her at Easter Island in large swells. Thankfully, no one was injured, but this is the motor that was underwater for a while. The Chilean Armada took it away, cleaned it up for us, and returned it, all as a courtesy. So, I began to think of the spark plug wires, and sprayed everything down with anti-corrosion spray, as well as attempting to spray under the flywheel. I'm not sure if any spray actually got to the coil or any contacts, but the motor runs perfectly now. I've adjusted the idle screw back to where it should be, as I had to turn the idle up to prevent stalling out previously. I also reattached the negative to the starter/kill button, allowing me to use the key/lanyard again. I like that a whole lot better as I'm a firm believer in wearing the key lanyard so if I go over the side of the dinghy the key is pulled out thereby breaking contact with the electrical system and killing the motor. Best I shouldn't fall out of the dinghy, but hey, it happened to a friend of ours, so I don't want the dinghy coming back at me at full throttle while I'm treading water! OK, so....since the motor was working so well, I delivered bananas to several other nearby boats that didn't have any. When I got back to Infini, I finished scanning a large document Dave had given me to review about refridgeration. When we get somewhere with reasonable prices at the printing shops, I'll bring in our memory stick with all our scanned PDF files and have readily available folders on our bookshelf. Meanwhile, Sue was busy baking a large cake for Dave's birthday. Luke stopped by to see her. He's first mate aboard the Carl Linne (yes,the beautiful 106' boat we transited the canal on in Feb.'09!), as well as being a Registered Physiotherapist. Sue's neck and back have been giving her fits over the last few days, and he was able to go over a bunch of stuff with her as well as some acupressure and massage areas that really helped. THANKS, LUKE! Later in the afternoon I put the swim ladder down and we both cooled off a bit and had a deck shower. Oh, did I mentioned we managed to Skype with Ty, Jon and Matt and our friend Steve? What a treat for us to be able to stay in touch! Our connection here is slow and times out frequently, but we can usually type a conversation and occasionally even voice talk to someone. And finally, we and a bunch of other cruisers had been invited aboard the Carl Linne for pizza. I've got to tell you, these folks are the most gracious people you'd ever chance meeting. Marta kept rolling out the pizzas, Ginny had already put out the tuna sushimi, and Luke and Captain Greg ensured the Campari and soda as well as beer flowed freely. We had all bought a dish to share as well, so we were really stuffed! We did manage to sing Happy Birthday to Dave before devouring the cake, and eventually returned to Infini somewhat heavier than when we left her....So, another day in the cruising life came to an end. Although many of our days are so different, this seemed like a good time to let everyone know how one of our days went by so quickly! It looks as if it will be another 5-7 days before we leave Rikitea to go to northwest up the Tuamotu chain to Hao, as the weather is about to turn nasty for a bit, so that will give us a chance to catch up on boat projects as well as get off the boat and walk around a bit.
at 7:23 PM
We went to Taravai and had a wonderful time, anchoring between Taravai and Agakavitai Island. We went into uncharted waters; the electronic charts and guidebooks don't show any details of the areas we enjoy exploring. So, we go slowly in good light, and keep a lookout for coral heads. (And, we went behind our friends, who had obtained some 'local knowledge' from a boat who had previously visited!) We snorkeled some beautiful reefs, didn't catch any fish on a fishing expedition (9 of us aboard Soggy Paws outside the reef), and got to explore some back trails where the Cave of the Buried Kings was. Few people inhabit these areas. Taravai once was home to over 2000 people, but war, slaving, and the ministrations of the mad priest Laval decimated the population, and now six people live on island. The remains of old homes, stone walls, and an old church can be seen. The people living there are homesteading, and are gracious company. We were told that the three American boats anchored there were the first American visitors they could remember, having lived there over five years. Most visitors are French or European. We dug for potatoes, and were given pamplemousse, squash, and bananas. Before returning to Rikitea, we went out to the pass just south of the airport at Motu Totegegie, and Sue enjoyed a snorkeling trip while Dave, Sherry, Gram and Johanna scuba dived. We returned to Rikitea in the late afternoon, and enjoyed getting a decent internet connection as well as picking up baguettes this morning.
at 7:41 PM
While Michael stayed aboard to tackle 'the list', Sue hiked up the 1400 ft. bluff to the top of Mt. Duff along with Sherry, Bill & Johanna. What a wonderful workout! Cardiovascular going up...tough on the knees going down; but what a reward! We went through the 'root tunnels', pine forest, and tall grass/narrow trail at the top; the view was spectacular. My body appreciated the much needed exercise!
at 12:58 PM
to us!! Today marks the first day of our fourth year of full time live aboard cruising! It certainly seems like just a short while ago that we left our dock in New Port Richey, Florida, and here we are anchored at Pumaumu, one of the outer motus (islet, a small island) of the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia. For cruisers following in our footsteps, there's a wonderful "Tuamotus Compendium" that can be found at www.svsoggypaws.com, put together by our friends aboard sv Soggy Paws and Visions of Johanna. We've had another beautiful sunrise, and the wind is blowing 16-20 knots from the ESE. We'll raise anchor later this morning and find another motu to explore, and just want to send love and thanks to all our family and friends who have helped us mosey along the way. So, we like to think that "When performance counts....TEAM INFINI delivers!!" as we reflect on the many blessings of good health and safe passages we've had.
This picture is of the anchorage at Rikitea, from the hike up Mt. Duff
at 3:40 AM
Position: S23deg01.4minW134deg55.1min. Checking into Rikitea was fast and easy; lots of paperwork, but we practiced our French with a member of the Gendarmerie and got our passports stamped. We also had to go to the post office to buy a 70 French franc stamp to post copies of our clear-in papers to Papeete. The exchange rate was 84 French francs per USD. We walked part of the town of Rikitea, but all the shops were closed as the supply ship Nuku Hua was in, and everyone was down at the docks unloading or picking up their supplies. We made arrangements with the purser to purchase 6 drums of diesel for three boats, and came back to the arduous process of decanting diesel from each 200L drum to our 5G and 10G jerry jugs. Diesel was 121 French francs per liter; the ship's exchange rate was 85 French francs per USD; they took both currencies. It was an entire afternoon to ferry diesel out to Infini, pour it into our tanks, and I still had a long way to go when the sun went down. The next morning I started at oh five early, and finished topping off our tanks, giving the jerry jugs to the third boat so they could start their process early that morning as well. At any rate, all three boats got filled up, the supply boat was kind enough to buy back the extra diesel in the drum that we hadn't used (we miscalculated a bit), and we were all tired and a bit covered in diesel by the end of the process. The next day Sue gave me a haircut on the beach, and a single hander Swiss fellow came by and requested a trim also. I see a new career for her as a beach stylist. The baguettes were fresh (70 French francs each) and delicious! We made arrangements to go explore the outer motus the next morning. Things were going smoothly until I took apart the control arm to the windvane in my attempt to clean it and dropped the pin that secures the control arm into the water. Hmmm. We got out the hookah rig, and Sherry (sv Soggy Paws) helped coach me in its use, as we hadn't used it since we bought it at an SSCA gam a few years ago. I didn't have any luck getting to the 44' bottom, so Sherry gave it a try but the water visibility was terrible (3'), the bottom was soft mud and porous holes, so we gave up on finding that proverbial pin in a haystack. We departed for the outer motus a bit late in the day, but they're only about 8 miles away, so getting there in daylight wasn't a problem. Pearl farm buoys dot both sides of a "fairway" that the boats use to go between islands. When we got out to Puaumu, the small motu that was our destination, the coral heads were everywhere. Pucker factor was medium, as we had certainly had similar experiences in Mexico and elsewhere dodging coral heads, but finding a place to anchor took a bit of wandering around. I then fabricated a new pin for the windvane, and we'll have to see how the vane likes it in use. Our plan is to explore around here for a bit and then return to Rikitea. We managed to sign up for wifi internet, and are able to get a slow connection on the boat at anchor when within range at Rikitea!
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at 2:57 AM
We dropped anchor in Mangareva at 1045 hours. It's so calm in here compared to the last three days of sailing! We're tired, so exploration will have to wait. Since this is our first port of call in French Polynesia, our six month extended stay visa starts now, and we'll have to go see the gendarme and check in with officialdom later today. We're anchored in front of the village of Rikitea, which is known for their black pearl farming. High bluffs and a prominent church are noticeable when you first enter the lagoon, and the lush green of the surrounding hills is a welcome treat.
The picture is of Michael & Dave....
at 9:13 AM
Position: S23deg49min;W132deg57min. We're going almost dead downwind, doing a bit of rolling and slatting with our yankee jib partially furled and poled out to windward, our staysail just about midline, and our main with single reef out to leeward. We hope to arrive in Mangareva, in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia, tomorrow morning, and have a quiet night at anchor for a good long night's sleep - the first one we'll have had in over a month!
at 8:24 AM
We arrived safely and anchored at 0800, having called ahead to officials of our imminent arrival. We were picked up by a small launcha at 0930 and met Simon, the Agricultural officer, and Brenda, the Immigration officer. Clear-in procedure was easy and fast. We then had coffee and toast with Brenda, her husband Mike, and Dave and Sherry, as well as Paul, the captain of a charter boat named Southern Cross. We planned our morning, and what a wonderful morning it turned out to be. Brenda took us on a tour of part of the island, with both of us holding on as we sat in the back of her Honda four wheeler. There are so many ruts and unpaved roads, the islanders started using four wheel drive vehicles a few years ago. We visited Rope Bight, climbing down a near vertical cliff to get to a small beach area where there were petroglyphs in the rock wall. You had to think and hold on like a mountain goat. We also got to see St. Paul's Pool, Highest Point, and several other bays suitable for anchorage when weather permitted. Brenda is, if I recall correctly, a fifth generation descendant of the Bounty mutineers. We arranged lunch at Betty Christian's, who, along with her husband Tom, are also mutineer descendants. Betty cooked a sumptuous lunch on short notice, and what was of particular interest was that she and her husband were friends with Irving and his wife Exy Johnson (of Yankee fame that I alluded to in a previous blog entry) and they had them as house guests on a number of occasions. After lunch, we visited the Museum, where artifacts and a wonderful stamp collection were seen. We eventually wandered down to the dock at Bounty Bay, being given a ride by David, the Ham operator (VP6DB) I had made contact with a few weeks ago. We were loaded down with bananas and fresh veggies. Upon our return to Infini thru the building surf, the rolling motion aboard was still horrible, so we made the decision to depart for Mangareva, feeling that we'd get a better night's sleep underway than at anchor. Three other boats departed the same time, as there were five of us visiting this tiny 2 mile X 1 mile size island! Brenda had told us that 39 yachts had visited last year, one of the busiest on record. Unfortunately, Pitcairn has no really safe anchorages, and with the swell situation expected to deteriorate, we felt that getting just about thrown out of our bunks while anchored was a bit much for us. Our visit was way too short, but we feel fortunate we were able to get off the boat to make the visit, and in so doing fulfilled a childhood dream of mine and have wonderful memories of the friendly people we met and the historical sights we visited.
at 11:15 AM
Pitcairn Island appeared as a dark smudge off the port bow at 0500. I've made coffee and experienced all kinds of emotions, but just want to, again, give thanks to all our family and friends (especially Rick Kain in Balboa, Panama; we wouldn't have made it without your help; thanks, mate); and special hugs to Sophia, Maddox and Luka. We should be anchoring around 0730 local time; it's an hour earlier here than Easter Island. More later.
Position: S25deg20min;W128deg34min. Day 10's run: 120 nm. It was like a cruel April Fool's joke. We were 175 nm from Pitcairn and the wind died. Fortunately, we carry enough diesel to motor the rest of the way in, albeit slowly, and that's just what we're doing. Then I remembered, no wind was one of the reasons the mutineers living on Pitcairn weren't discovered for so long; boats just couldn't get there! No engines in those days, right? There occasionally seems to be a windless zone around the island that, at times, reaches out for several hundred miles, so depending on the month and weather, boats were becalmed here and the word spread...."don't look there...there's nothing out that way except no wind!...." The boat's Captain gave the command to go another way and the mutineers remained undiscovered for a long time! The actual mutiny took place in 1789; an American whaling ship discovered Pitcairn in 1809, and the British arrived in 1814. If you haven't read "Mutiny On the Bounty," heard about Captain Bligh, John Adams, Fletcher Christian and the rest of the crew, as well as the Tahitians who accompanied them into exile, it's time to get the book out of the library! It's wonderful reading for yourself (and, if you've got any, your kids!) and, obviously, a true story! The film (staring in various film depictions Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Marlin Brando, Anthony Hopkins, Mel Gibson, and others) is also available, and gives the flavor of the situation, with a bit (some would say a lot) of artistic licence thrown in. At any rate, it's those descendants of those very same mutineers that we want to visit with and see how their ancestors lived. Also, one of my sailing heroes, Irving Johnson of the brigantine Yankee fame, was the one who retrieved and raised the original anchor from the HMS Bounty where it lay on the bottom in Bounty Bay, and it now resides in Adamstown. History all around us, and we're hoping to experience it! We're motoring, with 83 miles to go, and should arrive at Bounty Bay tomorrow morning. We're excited!
Position: S25deg38min;W126deg30min. Day 9's run: 126 nm. The seas and wind have calmed down, making for a comfortable ride towards Pitcairn. We're able to move around, eat and sleep in much more moderate conditions. Unfortunately, southerly swells are forecast to build to 12-14 feet just hours after our arrival, so we're not sure we're going to be able to anchor there! We'll decide specific strategy when we arrive, which we think will be Sat. afternoon. We may have to wave at the island as we go by! Well, for Team Infini, effort counts for something too, and we've certainly made an effhttp://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=1073188464461980068&postID=7298266633799733340ort to get here!