Leg 2 - 2004 Papeete, Tahiti; Tikehau, Tuamotus; Hilo, Hawaii
Reaching Along Toward the Equator
June 23, 2004 1300 07.04S, 146.39W Log: 76,926 miles
Winds: ENE @ 17kts, Cabin Temp: 89F, Cockpit: 86F
Our week at Moorea between expeditions was a treat. We varnished every day, ran up the valleys in the mornings, swam in the afternoons and spent an entire day hand washing and drying five weeks of laundry. On a day car trip around the island Amanda scoped out every little boutique and art gallery before choosing two brightly colored Gauguin inspired wraps for her and her mum. The island seemed a lot tidier than when we last drove around ten years ago, and we enjoyed a relaxing lunch on the same
old floating restaurant, the Linareva, that we had eaten at with local friends ten years earlier. I especially enjoyed a peek in at the dolphin encounter at the Sheraton Hotel, where tourists can pay to swim with and kiss the dolphins. The swimsuit clad, long-legged dolphin trainers looked much more appealing than the dolphins that looked slightly bored with the kissy bit!
Roadside hilltop view of the Sofitel Hotel, Moorea
The exciting news was that we finally reached Robert and Lesley, Amanda's folks on their cell phone at a marina in Brisbane, Australia. Temporarily leaving their bed and breakfast on Bruny Island near Hobart, Tasmania, they had just purchased a classic wooden Arthur Robb 40' yawl, Redwing, that had been cruised from Seattle to Australia. They plan to rename her Swanhaven III, sail to New Zealand and then north to meet us in Fiji. Sounds like we are going to have a lot of fun in Fiji! Seven years ago they surprised us by sailing their 36' gaff-rigged Herreshoff ketch, Taitoa up from Auckland, meeting us in Fiji for Amanda's birthday at Savusavu. We will never forget those times we shared cruising together, and racing each other to the next island anchorage.
We sailed back to Tahiti the day before our Leg 2 crew were to join us and hiked up to Carrefour mega-store with every canvas carry bag we own, armed with grocery lists, only to find the store closed for inventory! We tried at the Master Price super store across the street, but we have become spoiled with the excellent quality and selection at Carrefour, so we didn't purchase much. As luck would have it, all our Leg 3 crew had elected to stay at Maeva Beach Hotel the night(s) before joining us, so when we met them Tuesday night to pick up their passports, they eagerly said they would be happy to meet Amanda at Carrefour the following morning while I was clearing outbound customs, and help her wheel the trolley load of goodies back to the boat in Marina Taina.
Everything went without a hitch, and it was a breeze to pick up our guys right from our favorite anchorage off the Maeva Beach Hotel dock by dinghy. Although our brochure never mentioned it, with an unusually favorable forecast for the first part of our passage to Hilo, we knew we wouldn't be short on time, so we all decided to sail to Moorea right away. We started orientation as we sailed across to Moorea, continued it after a swim in the turquoise lagoon and finished the evening ashore at the Pearl Beach Resort with some superb Tahitian dancing. The following morning we completed orientation and anchored that night in Cook's Bay so we could easily leave before dawn for the 190 mile passage to Tikehau in the Tuamotu Islands.
Leg 2 crew, Morgan, Dan and Bob saying goodbye to Moorea
With a highly unusual forecast of SSW becoming SSE winds of 20-25 knots we literally flew to Tikehau. With the winds dead astern we poled out the genoa and prevented the main on the opposite side and scooted along quickly, sighting the palm trees of the small coral atoll at dawn.
The large southerly swell was crashing over the south side of the atoll, flooding into the lagoon and making the only pass into the lagoon a moving river of white water. Once we entered the lagoon we motored between the coral heads to anchor off the small village, population 400. Tikehau has one of the most attractive villages in the South Pacific, with each family outdoing the next with colorful gardens cultivated in the poor sandy soil, with minimal fresh water.
Bob guiding us in Tikihau's narrow pass
Tidal current rips in Tikihau's pass
As it was Saturday, we missed seeing our old friend Felix, Tikehau's only baker, but still enjoyed a stroll around the quiet town, a quick look in at the only store and a sunny a walk along the windward beach. We had a smooth reach across the lagoon to the new Pearl Beach Resort to check out its interesting operation. Locally owned by the same group in Papeete that own Tahiti Nui Airlines, the resort claims a small motu with groups of gorgeous thatched bungalows perching on stilts above the idyllic lagoon. We met the hotel divemaster, a French cruiser who lives aboard his small steel sloop at anchor off the resort, and the hotel engineer, also a sailor. They said that running an isolated hotel on a tiny islet was just like running a ship. They make their own power and water, and only get provisions by ship every two weeks from Tahiti. We enjoyed cool drinks at the bar and poolside while watching the sunset.
Typical house and garden on Tikihau
Morgan strikes a pose outside Tikihau's Mayor's Office
At anchor off Pearl Beach Resort
Sunset and fluffy drinks ashore
The following morning Amanda went to work, teaching winch maintenance, sewing, and going safely aloft.
Amanda and crew servicing winches
Morgan's masthead view of Pearl Beach
Meanwhile I caught up on maintenance, tightening the belts on our trusty 110 amp, 24 volt Balmar alternator and replacing the saltwater pump impeller on the engine. Eric Lockard on Leg 1 shared a
trick with me. He said if you open the lid of the engine's sea water strainer and then run the engine for a minute the salt water will get sucked out of the impeller housing thus avoiding dripping onto the alternator and into the engine pan below. His trick worked and I found that although the impeller was still in one piece, two of the blades were worn enough to warrant replacing it, rather that than worry about the blades breaking off and getting sucked into the heat exchanger. Hey, thanks for that tip, Eric!
Our trusty Balmar alternator
Eric's Trick: pop the lid on the seawater strainer, run the engine a minute...
...before opening the raw water pump housing
Later that afternoon we motored out the pass, this time zooming along with the ebbing current, and set sail for lovely Hilo town, 2100 miles north.
As we watched the sun set we threw our flowers in the ocean, hoping to return again to this paradise of an island.
Steady ESE, then E tradewinds, at first 20-22 knots, and now 15-17 knots have carried us along at a steady clip, covering close to 180 miles per day without pushing MT at all. It has been a little too choppy to stop for swims, so every afternoon at 1700 the helmsperson heads us off downwind to smooth out the ride, and we enjoy bucket baths with sea water, then fresh water showers. We've landed one four-meal tuna, and had three others get away, so we are closely watching those fishing lines!
Here's our Leg 2 crew:
Dan Redmond, 50 is a civil engineer from Portland, Oregon who is looking forward to sailing his Passport 45 down the Columbia River and south to warmer water with his friend Denise next summer. When not sailing every chance he gets, one of his hobbies is restoring '56 Mercurys; he has three of them!
Bob Garbe, 51 is safety and health program manager for the Dept. of the Interior. That means he gets to go to cool places like national parks and forest fires to ensure sure that DoI employees are safe and healthy. He loves trailoring his NorSea 27 to cruise in places other than on Catfield Resveroir near Denver where he lives. Before joining us in Tahiti, Bob flew to New Zealand with his wife Bernadette and son Ben who are now off exploring Australia.
Morgan Brooks, 58 is an avid snowboarder who used to live and work at Vail ski resort in Colorado. His real job now is director of programming for a software consulting company and he sails his O'Day 322 on Catfield Reservoir. He plans to tow his boat with Bob to explore Lake Michigan and later the San Juan Islands. Morgan and his wife Sue also flew to and explored New Zealand before joining us in Tahiti.
Hilo Town, Heeeere We Come!
July 1, 2004 1520 15.20N, 152.17W Log: 78,327 miles
Winds: ENE @ 17 - 22kts Beam reaching at 8 - 9 knots under full sail and a sparkling blue sky!
With only 287 miles to Hilo, our crew are enjoying every minute of sailing! We had very favorable conditions with the wind just forward or aft of the beam until awhile after we crossed the equator at 148 West. Following that were 2.5 days of variable conditions with everything from sailing closehauled into choppy seas to light winds and heavy tropical downpours. Our halfway point and equator crossing were only a few hours apart, so we combined parties, with pollywogs being turned into shellbacks after first suffering through the interminable ceremony, complete with the eating green goo!, presenting an entertaining performance and having to pick and race to assemble a Kinder Egg toy. Dan, our engineer, won that contest.
Bob takes a bite of the Pollywog to Shellback fare
Arghh! We be true Shellbacks now!
Yesterday Dan spotted our first ship, so we had a chat to the Filipino crew as they steamed past at 12 knots, enroute from Vancouver to Auckland carrying sulfur. It also felt like we were starting to break free of the clutches of the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone, previously known as the doldrums) and today we've left the cloudiness behind. The water and the sky are a back to their bright shade of blue, the seas less confused, and Bob reckons M.T is like a horse headed for the barn. Galloping! Sunsets have been on the evening's entertainment with Morgan and Bob always trying
to capture the best one for Sue and Bernadette on Morgan's camera but even prettier are the nights with the nearly-full moon turning the sea to a field of silver.
Yet another sunset from Morgan's Camera
Our expedition members have become crack helmsmen, and the relieving helmsperson often shows up early and stays late enjoying the sensation of flying through these tropical seas. Speaking of seas, it's been a too choppy for swimming all but one day, so we enjoy bucket baths and fresh water rinses on the aft deck late each afternoon. The seawater is noticeably cooler now than when we left Tahiti, and sure feels refreshing!
Fishing has been put on hold temporarily as the freezer (and crew!) are full of tuna. We've been steaming two lines with lures, nicknamed; Inky Pinky and Super Sammy, and the tally is two tuna each. It will be a pleasure to have gifts of frozen tuna for our Hilo friends!
Amanda wrestling with a tuna
Fish Lures - Super Sammy and Inky Pinky
Leg 2, Update 3
July 11, 2004 1410 19.43N, 155.03W Log: 78,327 miles
Moored stern-to, Radio Bay, Hilo
Record Passage Time, Tuamotus to Hilo: 2250 miles in 12.5 days, averaging 180 miles per day!!
It's true, it's true! Our winds kept getting better and our crew had Mahina Tiare zooming along at 8 - 9 knots for the last couple days, covering a record (for this year) 191 miles from noon to noon. We first sighted the red glowing lava and lights near the volcano in the early hours of Saturday morning, and by dawn we were reaching past Cape Kumakahi, the easternmost tip of the Big Island.
Our winds held until we were within a couple of hours of Hilo harbor, when they became light and variable. By 0900 we nosed into tiny Radio Bay, dropped our bow anchor and readied the RIB to take our stern lines ashore. What a surprise to have Jose Furia, a wild Brazilian guy who sailed from Hilo to Tahiti with us in 1997, offer to run our stern lines ashore. Jose is on the way to Tahiti aboard his Hallberg-Rassy 36, Pasargada after saying goodbye to his job at Microsoft.
We didn't expect to be able to go ashore for three days, until after the Fourth of July weekend as Hilo Customs and Immigration are normally closed weekends and holidays, but an earlier message relayed from the Harbormaster resulted in Inspector Foss arriving at the dock not long after we did. They have recently simplified inbound clearance procedures and now the US Customs inspector also handles immigration and agriculture.
Soon we had a hose onboard and a little of the water and suds actually hit the decks amid the
merriment of arrival. While everyone was cleaning MT I ducked out to the airport nearby and picked up a rental van so we could head out for a very special lunch and Café Pesto and a great dinner at Uncle Billy's Hawaiian Restaurant nearby.
The boys get sudsy....Opps the boat gets a scrub
On the Fourth we drove 32 miles up to Volcano village, cool at an elevation of 3,500' where we caught the end of the village's Fourth festivities and lunch before showing our guys around Kiluea's crater rim. While in the village we overheard a local woman telling another that the volcano was in a very active stage again, pumping tons of lava into the sea, so we drove 22 miles down Chain of Craters road to the sea, then hiked 1.5 miles over uneven lava rock to see huge clouds of billowing steam as the lava poured into the ocean from an underground tube. The black rock under foot was so hot due lava flowing underneath that I was concerned that my sandals might melt!
Crew standing on the crater rim at Kiluea Volcano
Morgan hiking across the hot lava rock
Dept of Interior safety watch dog Bob goes off limits
That evening we were guests of cruiser friends Carol Noel and Bob Ely at their 12 acre coffee and tropical plant farm in the Puna district. We had originally met and cruised together in Patagonia when were enroute to Cape Horn and Antarctica in 1995, and they later cruised together in the South Pacific. Bob showed our crew the process of making coffee (of which crew purchased as gifts to take home) houseplants on steroids; over 20' high, as well exotic tropical plants to many to name.
Our crew soon headed off to the hotel and further exploring, and here we are now, tidying up Mahina Tiare for our new Leg 3 gang arriving at noon on Friday, July 16.
Legs 3, 4, 5, 6 & 8 are now filled, but we have berths available on:
Leg 7, Oct. 25 - Nov 4, Suva to Lautoka, Fiji
If you want to join us for some awesome sailing, spectacular islands, and the chance to really fast-forward your cruising skills, just give Tracy a call in our office on 360-378-6131 or email her: email@example.com.
>>Sail onto Leg 3!