Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Society Islands, French Polynesia ( 27th August to 23rd September)

Warm balmy tropical weather, a cooling sea breeze at anchor, spectacular reef breaks, calm crystal clear aquamarine lagoon water offset by deep blue in the depths, lofty breath taking peaks, fascinating lush fauna, fragrant flowers,white powder sand beaches, tropical fish in coral gardens and exotic pearls.....
120 islands spread over 5 archipelagos..
We would like to spend more time here in French Polynesia but we need to head south for the crossing back to New Zealand in November.

We arrived in Tahiti from the Tuamotus on the 26th of August and spent a week in the Papeete marina where we welcomed Ralph's wife Colleen aboard. She flew in from NZ to meet Ralph after his long voyage with us from Panama since the end of May
 Ralph wasn't fully recovered from his illness so we didn't go far afield, just walked to the market and around the town
After 3 days with us we waved them off on the ferry to Moorea to begin their holiday together and we prepared our floating home for the next stage of our voyage.
After leaving Tahiti island we spent a few days in Moorea island where we met up with Ralph and Colleen for lunch aboard in Cooks inlet
 We waved goodbye as we passed their hotel
 While we were in the marina in Papeete we met a lovely family from Oregan on SV Baku and when they arrived in Moorea we shared an exciting episode with them on the reef in Papetoai with stingrays and black tip reef sharks
An overnight passage of 83nm took us to Huahine island.
 The wind was howling down the valley to the anchorage off the village on the NW side and since all the mooring bouys were taken, the holding on the edge of the reef not good we decided not to leave the boat to go ashore. So instead we anchored in sand off another reef and left the next day for the twin islands of Raiatea and Tahaa. These 2 islands share the same lagoon.

Entering the passage between the reefs..
We found a lovely anchorage beside the reef across from the village of Uturoa. It was a very narrow and shallow pass beside a motu but we skimmed across with a few inches under the keel. Having a centereboard is a huge benefit meaning we can go where shallow draft catamarans venture.

On the left upper part of the photo you can see the motu (small island) and us anchored....
Cathy unloading the shopping trolley into the dinghy
  We were entertained watching many reef fish, local boats traversing the pass and kite and windsurfers.
After a couple of days we sailed across the lagoon to Tahaa island renowned for its vanilla plantations and anchored in Baie Hurepiti for the night.
Now the 11th of September saw us heading to Bora Bora island (25nm) with lots of charter catamarans. After passing the reef we saw a large whale surface to the obvious delight of the people on the catamarans. It is still wondrous to sight them but we have seen so many in our travels now that we tend to keep our distance after 2 direct hits in Madagascar and Sth Africa.
 The reef surf and subsequent spray as we approached the pass into Bora Bora lagoon were spectacular but hazy for good photos.
 The entrance
Mt Otemanu rises out of the lagoon majestically.
We motored in to the village of Vaitape to check out the services for future use then headed across to the eastern side of the lagoon.The lagoon is surrounded by reef and low lying land giving excellent shelter but a pleasant breeze rising over the top.. Again lucky to be shallow draft and able to poke into places many can't go.

The next day we headed in the dinghy down the lagoon to look at the stilted hotels projecting out across the bay. It would not normally be an anchorage we would choose preferring solitude instead but we needed to careen (clean the bottom of the boat) of weed and slime and this site with shallow water, white sand and good visibility was ideal so we upanchored and headed for the exquisite little bay.
To each side of us were stilted hotel chalets, behind us the mountain peaks and in front palm trees and white sand housing more chalets and hotel facilities.. We are told they are in excess of $2,000 per day.
But there was work to be done...Not all sundowners and lying under a palm tree!

Goodbye French Polynesia......We shall miss you

Saturday, 3 September 2016

French Polynesia..Marqueses to the Tuamotus to Tahiti (18th August to 26th August)

On the 18th of August we set sail from Nuka Hiva island in the Marqueses to Fakarava atoll in the Tuamotus. This is 538nm to the South East.

It took us 4 days. We had a bit of a mixed bag weather wise. Some lovely trade wind sailing, some squalls and some motoring.
Eric caught a yellow fin tuna and a mackerel so we were able to have some delicious  fresh fillets and freeze the rest down. 
Ralph holding up the yellow fin tuna..

Unfortunately my brother Ralph was unwell for the last 24 hrs of the passage with a high fever, headache, neck pain and vomiting. It is always a concern when someone gets sick on a voyage.
We were worried that he may have contracted a tropical disease. We tucked him up in bed with strict instructions that he was not to do his watch that night, dosed him up with Panadol and plenty of fluids. 

Our arrival at daybreak on the 22nd of August was a relief..Ralph's symptoms didn't get worse and the cool clear water was a great way to cool off. 
Eric and I went ashore to check out the facilities. It was a pleasure to be in a very sheltered anchorage with no swells but enough wind to be pleasant. A cruise ship had arrived so the tourism office was open and a few local stalls selling trinkets etc
The next day we decided to tie up alongside the town wharf/ breakwater.. There are moorings also available, both costing 55 cents/ person/day!!!

It was a delight to be in the middle of the town with access to Internet, water, rubbish disposal and shops. The lady at the tourism office was extremely helpful and had our best interests at heart. She advised Ralph to go to the clinic as it was was just across the road and free to tourists. 
There had been a few cases of gastric flu in the village and the symptoms were the same so she felt that he probably contracted it in the Marqueses before we left.
It was an interesting place to be as we watched 2 super yachts come in and also a supply ship offloading near us.
As always there is repairs and maintenance to be done, cleaning and reprovisioning and preparations for the next passage. It was lovely to be tied up to the wharf in crystal clear water but Eric was a little wary of the nurse shark who kept him company as he cleaned the hull. These beautiful sharks feed on crustaceans and love to sleep on the bottom of the seabed.
 We enjoyed the company of Peter and Cathy off SV "Leto". They sailed in a day after us and plan to leave in a week or so. Fakarava atoll is a beautiful place and we wished we had more time to spend in the Tuamotus. 
But the time is running out to get back to NZ by the end of the year and Ralph's wife is flying in to Papaeete in a couple of days..
So we were up at daybreak (24/8/16) to make the best of the weather.  245nm to Papaeete, Tahiti.

With a gentle breeze, minimal swell and very slight seas it is a good time to cook without having to strap oneself in and get thrown around the galley. Our bananas are ripening fast so a banana cake has been baked, iced and ready to eat

With no improvement in Ralph's condition, and not being convinced of the clinic diagnosis I tried to contact a Dr friend in NZ for some advice with no success. We carry malarone onboard in the eventuality of malaria so we decided to start this as there had been little improvement in his condition in 5 days. 
As predicted, the last 12 hrs of the passage was boisterous with 20 knot winds and gusts to 25.
But it got us to our destination fast. We caught a blue fin tuna. It took a bit of muscle to lift it.

It was a pleasure to get into the shelter of Tahiti just after midnight.

SV Erica

SV Erica

About Me

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We met in 1971 and it was Eric's dream to build his own yacht and sail the world. This became a joint dream but it was not until 1994 that we were able to start building. "Erica" was launched in 2001 after 7yrs building her. It then took us 5 yrs to prepare her and ourselves before leaving NZ to see the world