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Leg 2 2009, Update 1

July 20, 2009, 2030 hrs, 12.35 N, 149.34 W, Log: 129,806 miles
Beam reaching  at 7.5 – 8.1 kts in 24-27 kt NE winds
Baro: 1011.0, Cabin Temp: 84F, cockpit 84F, sea water 83.7 F (that is not a mistake!)

RACING TOWARDS TAHITI – THE START OF OUR 20TH SEASON OF SAIL-TRAINING!

The weeks before our Leg 2 crew joined us were sure busy! Somehow all of our major and most of the minor projects got ticked off our lists. This involved Amanda replacing most of our running rigging, sewing new salon cushion covers, steam cleaning carpet and cushions, provisioning and organizing the welding of the triple vang block. We worked together on varnishing the toerail and handrails, stripping back the companionway and applying six coats of varnish, the seasons major provisioning, getting three new Toshiba Tecra computers loaded and functioning with three navigation and six communication programs, and repositioning reef lines for the new mainsail. My jobs included nearly completing sewing the new sun awning, deck and engine maintenance, replacing our medical kit, topping up fuel and stowing a ton of spares. July 4th we took a break and kayaked out into Hilo Bay with buddies to watch the fireworks.

On Thursday we left MT looking ship shape and sparkling under the noonday sun and were at the Hilo harbor gate several minutes early to meet our eager crew. Speaking of eager, Barry Fluckey’s wife Cathy and two very keen sons, Stephen, 12 and Mark, 10 flew from Omaha, Nebraska to see Barry off and to get to check out the Island of Hawaii. Stephen’s first words to us were, “I’ve studied your website so I know all the places I could stow away in on your boat to sail to Tahiti!”. We were pleased to invite them aboard for a quick tour before we welcomed the rest of our crew aboard.

Many times we hit the ground running and set sail the same afternoon crew join….but thankfully this leg was different. We had a very relaxed start with safety orientation and lunch, after which we dropped lines, raised anchor and motored out to re anchor in Reed’s Bay, Hilo. This gave us cleaner water for snorkeling and sponging off MT’s prop and bottom. Although it had only been three weeks since we launched following painting the bottom and servicing the prop in Kona, the nutrient-rich water of Radio Bay had resulted in our prop being totally covered in barnacles and the first foot or so below the waterline needing the mud sponged off. Everyone dived in, grabbed a sponge and the work was done in no time flat.

For the past week we had been tracking Tropical Depression, then Cyclone Carlos.  It steadily made its way up the coast of Mexico toward La Paz then headed directly toward Hilo. Wind speeds went from 25 up to 95, gusting 105 and forward speed of movement went from 5 up to 15, down to 6, back to 12 knots. Every morning before crew joined I plotted our proposed positions with the projected positions of Carlos and for several days it looked like our positions would converge five days out. I asked Commanders Weather for an extended forecast and then on July 16th, the NOAA forecast called for Carlos to dissipate. Whew!

mt
Photo by: Sam Varner

Leaving Hilo on Friday we motorsailed in light air, passing Leleiwi Pt, the very NE tip of the Big Island where we turned SE and hoisted sail. Before long the winds filled in nicely to the low 20’s. The angle was good, allowing us to set a course for 5 N, 145 W, well upwind of Tahiti, and still ease sheets. Later that night occasional squalls with gusts to 35 kts came through, so we double then triple reefed our shiny new mainsail and deeply reefed our nearly new genoa, charging and crashing along through the night. The crossed head seas caused all of our crew to succumb to seasickness, a first ever, so we made a concerted effort to see how fast we could get them over it. Everyone had been taking, but didn’t continue with Emergen-C as well as Stugeron, an over-the-counter very effective, non-sleep inducing antihistamine. The Stugeron alone did the job for Barry, Rick and Paul, but Carol and Miriam added Transderm Scopalamine patches and Wayne found Compazine worked well for him. By 30 hours, everyone was over seasickness which was a big relief.

When Barry, our navigator on Saturday plotted our noon position, we were pleased to find we had covered 162 miles in our first 24 hr run. That followed by 140 on Sunday and 170 miles today, so we are really off to a flying start! A favorable NNE to NE wind direction has meant that we continue to gain easting, even on a smoother beam reach now.

Yesterday we inventoried our abandon ship bags, testing old Skyblazer flares (none of which worked!) whilst Carol demonstrated a smoke canister which worked well, but was quickly dissipated by the wind. Today we did held morning and afternoon classes, covering our first part of marine weather forecasting.

We are looking forward to the winds dropping a bit (just now they are gusting to 28 kts, giving Miriam and Carol a good workout on the wheel during their watch) so we can heave to for a swim and start doing some serious fishing.

Here’s our Leg 2 crew:

leg2 crew
Leg 2 Crew - Rick, Miriam, Paul, Carol, Barry & Wayne

Barry Fluckey, 53
I’m a 767 airline captain for UPS, flying all over SE Asia. I got into sailing by taking a weekend course in Puget Sound and a bareboat charter course in the BVI and have been sailing the mighty seas (lakes!) of Nebraska ever since. Our boat is a Catalina 350 which I hope to move to somewhere where I can have a destination that is different than the same marina on the same lake.

Carol Baldwin, 63
I met Paul Cook at our 44th high school reunion last September and we are getting married this September. I have two children and three grandchildren and am a retired RN. My best, most satisfying job was hospice work. This summer I spent three months sailing with Paul aboard his Valiant 42 along the ICW and partly offshore between the Chesapeake and North Carolina. I live on the beach in North Carolina and love to kayak and contra dance. When Paul asked me to go sailing, he didn’t tell me how much work was involved, but I have forgiven him!

Paul Cook, 62
I am a retired electrical engineer from Colorado who sailed from England to Portugal last summer aboard Mahina Tiare and have returned this year to experience sailing the South Pacific while sharing that experience with Carol, my fiancé. I purchased a Valiant 42 with John’s help in the fall of 2008 and Carol and I sailed it down the US East Coast this Spring. We plan to sail to the Bahamas next season, and aren’t sure where after that.

Miriam Longay, 52
I am a former dietician who now does payroll for my husband Rick’s dental practice in Windsor, Ontario. We have two children, Matthew, 24 and Natalie, 20. Our interest in sailing developed when we were on a cruise in the Caribbean and saw the catamarans there. It was love at first sight and after a few years of practice, we purchased a Gemini 105MX. We sail in Lake St. Clair and when not sailing I enjoy golf in the summer and curling in the winter.

Rick Longay, 52
I grew up on the Great Lakes powerboating, but always loved the look of sailboats. In 2003 we started with learn to sail courses, then liveaboard catamaran course in the Bahamas before buying our Gemini cat in 2006, mostly daysailing. Besides sailing I enjoy golf, curling, windsurfing, wood working and diving. We plan to retire in 2010 to have more time for sailing and enjoying life.

Wayne Glenn, 58
I live in Tacoma, WA with my wife Kathy where we sail our Cape Dory 25. I am a CPA for a non-profit and hope to have a larger boat for extended cruising after retirement. I learned to sail as a member of U of Texas-Austin Sailing Club where I later became a sailing instructor. Sailing brought me and my future wife Kathy together when she signed up for my first sailing classes.

July 21, 2009, 2200 hrs, 12.35 N, 149.34 W, Log: 129,961 miles
Close reaching  at 7.1 kts in 16 kt NE winds and modest seas
Baro: 1011.5, Cabin Temp: 86F, cockpit 84F, sea water 84.2

Today several wishes came true! The wind and seas steadily decreased last night and in the early morning Miriam shook all the reefs out of the sails.  By this morning conditions were close to ideal – close reaching at a good speed in fairly flat blue conditions under sunny skies. Just minutes after we put the fishing lines out Rick yelled, “I think we have a fish!” and then helped land and filet a gorgeous mahi mahi which Amanda served as ceviche for lunch and seared for dinner with fresh homemade pineapple, lilikoi and chilpotle salsa. We completed our second marine weather module this morning and this afternoon we dropped sails so everyone could dive in for a swim and shower. Life is good aboard Mahina Tiare and our crew is loosening up with stories and jokes prevailing.

Image 02  Rick lands a welcome mahi

Commanders' Weather Forecast

To:                          John Neal and the SY “Mahina Tiare III”
From:                     Commanders' Weather Corporation, tel: 603-882-6789
Route:                    Hilo, Hawaii to Papeete, Tahiti
Depart:   2000utc Friday, July 17, 2009
Prepared:              1545utc Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summary: Moderate to strong trades are anticipated to the S of Hawaii this weekend while the ITCZ may remain fairly active

1) Currently high pressure is located to the NNW of Hawaii near 44n/164w with another high near 33n/140w
2) At 15utc, Tropical Depression Carlos was near 9.8n/135.0w and moving to the W around 14 kts
   a) highest winds are estimated at 25 kts with higher gusts
   b) continues to generate a small area of convection
   c) but may weaken to a remnant low or a tropical wave during the next day or so
3) The axis of the ITCZ is from near 08n/140w to 06n/150w to 08n/160w and is fairly active with small clusters of unorganized scattered shower/squall activity
4) These clusters of activity are moving generally to the W around 15 kts and are located near 05-08n/140-144w, 05-09n/146-148w (this one is weakening), 07-10n/153-155w, and 04-07n/162-165w
5) High pressure NNW of Hawaii to elongate to the E thru the weekend which may cause moderate to strong ENE trades, speeds in the 20s, to the S of Hawaii this weekend
   a) also prevents the ITCZ from shifting to the N
   b) and seas may reach 8-10 ft with ENE swell
6) This high may split into two pieces early next week with one high centered W of the Pacific Northwest and the second center to the NW of Hawaii
7) Which may allow the ITCZ to shift to the N, perhaps to around 9-11n along your route
   a) ENE to NE winds prevail to the N of the ITCZ
   b) while becoming S and SE to the S of the ITCZ
8) Feel that the ITCZ may remain fairly active for the next 5-7 days as water temps in this area are running 28-29C which is up to a degree above the long term averages
   a) which may allow shower/thunderstorm activity to bubble up at any time
9) Think that the remnants of Carlos, an area of enhanced shower/thunderstorm activity within the ITCZ, to pass mainly to your S later Sunday or Monday
   a) may remain generally to the S of 13n
   b) but may cause winds to become more NE and perhaps 2-4 kts higher
10) Once you move to the S of the ITCZ, winds may become light S headwinds for a short period then look for freshening SE trade winds to fill in to the S of 08n
11) Would suggest getting an updated forecast Sunday to check on the ITCZ
   a) we will continue to monitor Carlos for any changes

Routing:

1) Have you to the E of rhumb line towards 12n/151w with ENE trades prevailing and to set you up for SE trades S of the ITCZ
   a) and averaging around 150 nm/day
2) Then turning S to pass quickly thru the ITCZ
   a) as you approach the ITCZ, we can select a quieter area to pass thru
3) Once S of the ITCZ, you can head direct for Papeete as winds allow
4) Please see some estimated positions below

Wind forecasts
Wind direction is TRUE, speed in kts, time is UTC

Fri, July 17
12: 050-070/ 4-9
18: 040-060/ 6-12
20: 050-070/ 7-14                                depart Hilo
Weather: Partly cloudy with a few isolated to scattered showers possible
Seas building to 7-9 ft, ENE swell

Sat, July 18 – increasing ENE trades
00: 040-060/12-18
06: 050-070/17-24
12: 060-080/18-25
18: 070-090/20-28
Weather: Partly to variably cloudy with chance for scattered squally showers, brief wind gusts to 35 kts are possible near any shower
Seas 8-10 ft, ENE swell

Sun, July 19
00: 070-090/20-28                              near 17 20n/153 40w
06: 060-080/20-28
12: 060-080/18-25
18: 060-080/19-27
Weather: Continued variably cloudy with a chance for a few scattered squally showers, brief wind gusts up to 35 kts are possible near any shower
Seas 8-10 ft, ENE swell

Mon, July 20
00: 050-070/18-25                              near 15 15n/152 45w
06: 050-070/18-25
12: 050-070/18-25
18: 050-070/17-24
Weather: Variably to partly cloudy, perhaps a few widely scattered showers or a squall, brief wind gusts to 30 kts are possible near any shower
Seas 7-9 ft, ENE swell

Tue, July 21
00: 040-060/15-22                              near 13 15n/151 45w
12: 030-050/17-24
Weather: Partly to variably cloudy with a few isolated to scattered showers or a squall especially late
Seas 5-8 ft, ENE swell

Wed, July 22 – passing thru the ITCZ
00: 050-070/11-17                              near 11n/150 55w
12: bcmng 170-190/ 8-15
Weather: Variably cloudy with scattered showers and squalls possible, perhaps a thunderstorm
Seas becoming 5-7 ft, SE swell

Thu, July 23 – freshening SE trades
00: 130-150/10-16                              near 08 45n/150 50w
12: 120-140/12-18
Weather: Variably to partly cloudy with decreasing chances for a few scattered showers or squalls
Seas 5-7 ft, SE swell

Best regards,
Dave Pietras

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Leg 2-2009, Update 2

July 26, 2009, 1500 hrs, 00.00 S, 146.27 W, Log: 130,647 miles
Close-hauled  at 7.2 kts in 16 kt E winds, gusting to 29 in intense rain squalls
Baro: 1006.9, Cabin Temp: 85F, cockpit 84F, sea water 84.4 F

POLLYWOGS TO SHELLBACKS – Crossing the Line!

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The radar screen at the equator as yet another squall sets upon us

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Miriam steers through the downpour in good spirits

We’ve just created a brief respite from crashing along to windward under the intermittent squalls that have hounded us for what seems like days. After easing sheets we gathered all of our Pollywogs on the aft deck for a visit by Davina Jones and King Neptune.

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Crew prepare for their recitals

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It’s Carols turn

As we crossed the equator and before the royal court each Pollywog recited a limerick, rhyme or story and Davina Jones (Amanda) administered a vile mixture of green oats, Tabasco and rum. Now officially shellbacks, they will be expected to come up with some equally noxious ceremony for their Pollywog crew when they next sail across the equator, perhaps on their own boats.

Here are some of the ditties:
There once was a gal named Carol, who went to sea in a barrel, she drank the wine, wrestled a gator and then she crossed the Equator! (Can ya tell she’s from North Carolata?)

This must have been Barry’s lament:
Across the equator alas, my supply of clothes is shrinking fast, the stench is increases, my crewmates gasp. Come Rangiroa, save us at last!

We all enjoyed showers (DAH!) before sheeting the sails back in and continuing on our bumpy course south. Amanda and I can’t remember ever having a passage that has had so frequent with strong squalls. Day after day we’ve been hounded with cloud burst (or not) where the winds go from 20 to nearly 40 in intense and blinding squalls. The wind swings up to 40 degrees as they pass, resulting in very confused, crossed seas. Our day’s run today was only 130 miles, our slowest one in years.

July 28, 2009, 1200 hrs, 04.29 S, 146.43 W, Log: 130,938 miles
Close-hauled at 6.8 kts in 16 kt ESE winds, calmer seas
Baro: 1010.7, Cabin Temp: 86 F, Cockpit: 85F, Sea: 84.4

Whew! It looks like for now, at least, we are finally clear of the squally weather. Last night we didn’t have a single rain squall and we have once again, been able to point high enough to point directly towards Rangiroa, now 630 miles away.  Our winds have dropped to an average of 17 knots, the seas have smoothed out and life is much more pleasant aboard. This morning it was calm enough to show the Powerpoint Cruising Medicine program below and to inventory our new and very impressive Advanced Medical Kit.

July 31, 2009, 1130 hrs, 12.26 S, 147.08 W, Log: 131,421 miles
Beam reaching at 7.4 kts in 14 kt E winds, seas: 3’
Baro: 1013.3, Cabin Temp: 85F, Cockpit: 84 F, Sea: 83.5

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Crew prepare for their recitals

PARADISE SAILING!
After what seems like forever, this morning we shook out all reefs and eased sheets, still slightly above the direct course to Rangiroa. With 150 miles to go, it looks like we should arrive Saturday morning. In reading through Lonely Planet South Pacific, they mention the Sunday night traditional Tahitian dance performance. Mentioning that was enough to get everyone extremely focused on boat speed, sail trim and steering a straight course. We’re sure looking forward to a flat boat.

This morning Amanda presented her new sail design class in which she asks …….ah? she wants to keep it a secret! Over the past year she has been collecting and laminating images of many sail configurations. Today this helped crew to better understand the options and features, including good points and bad, that are available to the sailor ordering new sails.

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Leg 2-2009, Update 3

August 3, 2009, 1900 hrs, 15.36 S, 148.19 W, Log: 131,650 miles
Motorsailing   at 6.2 kts in 5 kt E winds
Baro: 1006.9, Cabin Temp: 84F, cockpit 84F, sea water 84.4 F

PARADISE!

As we approached Rangiroa, we had to slow down so as not to arrive at first light. Our first view of Rangiroa, population 3,000 and the world’s second largest coral atoll, was just a thin line of a green fringe on the horizon, about 13 miles away. As we closed on the atoll, our crew spotted a tall new metal lighthouse structure by Tiputa Pass, plus the masts of two mega yachts standing much taller than the tops of the coconut trees.

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Amanda raises the French and Tahitian flag as we approach the pass while Rick takes a few minutes out of forward lookout to give a happy arrival smile

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John gives Carol steering pointers as we encounter the strong pass currents

Using the tide tables we figured that the current should be just changing to flood. Our calculations proved accurate with the current sometimes with us and at times against us up to two knots. We sailed through Tiputa Pass rotating crew so everyone was able to experience steering in turbulence and occasionally breaking seas, passed Motu Fara and gybed to sail into a protected anchorage off the Kia Ora Village Hotel.

We were surprised how few yachts were anchored there at this normally (except in southerly conditions) protected and most favored anchorage. There was an Amel 53, a 50’ charter catamaran and and Kaori, the 129’ ketch whose masts and AIS signature we had seen from outside, but that was it!

In 1975 I had just singlehanded 600 miles from the Marquesas aboard Mahina, my Vega 27 sloop, and was sailing past this anchorage when Serge Arnoux the hotel builder and owner zipped out in his Boston Whaler to invite me to anchor off the small resort and join him for dinner. I graciously declined, telling him I had heard there was a shark research team anchored off Avatoru Pass, five miles west, but he insisted, so I dropped anchor. Over one of the nicest dinner I had ever experienced he told me that before WWII he and two friends from France had found this place while on a world circumnavigation aboard their 30’ sailboat. After the war he’d returned to lease the land and build a hotel which he much later sold to Sofitel hotel group.

I wrote the story up for a magazine and later returned to give him a copy of my first book, Log of the Mahina. I haven’t seen Serge in years now, and assume he must have passed away. Still I have fond memories of anchoring here on many occasions over the years; it’s still one of the nicest in the Tuamotus. The current management still allows yachties to anchor off, use the dinghy dock, enjoy the over-water bar, and rent bikes for the five mile cycle to Avatoru, the larger of the two villages.

Not long after we anchored everyone was enjoying the bathtub-temperature lagoon water, and before long we headed ashore. Amanda and I rented bikes for the day (US$10 each) and enjoyed a leisurely cycle along the shoreline and an excellent lunch of poisson cru (Tahitian marinated raw fish) at a tiny lunch spot in Avatoru. The village seemed sleepier than ever on this Saturday afternoon, and we also had a siesta, laying on a bulkhead alongside the pass under a shady tree until the Chinese store opened at 3pm. When we returned to the Kia Ora after five hours with an armload of fresh baguettes we found our adventurous crew in the thatched hotel lobby, a few feet from the over-water bar where we had left them. They looked totally relaxed though insisted that they actually walked to the edge of Tiputa Pass and back along the beach before lunch at the hotel.

Early Sunday morning Amanda and I went for a run ashore to pick up the eight fresh baguettes we’d ordered the previous day. We then we raised anchor and headed up the lagoon in search of a quiet deserted anchorage. Here Amanda taught provisioning and rig check before we hit the beach for a wander. We had chosen a spot where the atoll was low and there wasn’t any jungle so that we could easily walk across to the windward reef. These atolls feel like raw nature and seem so vulnerable and unprotected. During hurricanes, the storm surge can wash completely over the land which is only 5’ tall at the highest point.

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Crew at the beach - Wayne, Carol, Paul, Miriam, Rick and Barry

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Crew exploring the outer reef

After lunch we set sail and practiced reefing, points of sail and Lifesling Rescue while Amanda and Barry took pictures from the dinghy, for Practical Sailor magazine, of our unique rescue sequence.

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Carol throws the Lifesling

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Wayne at the helm during Lifesling Rescue

By 1700 we had sailed back to the Kia Ora as we had heard there was Tahitian dancing at the hotel that evening. In the past we had enjoyed some very impressive local dance groups, complete with drummers, ukuleles, guitars and singers, plus up to a dozen dancers, but this time it was a smaller performance though interesting. Carol got pulled up for a dance lesson and did a great job.

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Will Carol trade in contra dancing for Tahitian?

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Barry and Tahitian dancers

That brings us to today! Our plan had been to sail 50 miles to tiny Tikehau, population 300, and many times a favorite stop of ours, but the GRIB files and Honolulu weatherfax showed a front sliding up to Tahiti from the south. If we stopped in Tikehau the forecast was for headwinds for our passage to Tahiti, so this morning we reluctantly set a course directly for Tahiti, 220 miles SSW.

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The sobering shipwreck as we exit Avatoru pass

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As we sailed between Rangiroa and Tikehau this afternoon the calm seas provided the perfect opportunity to practice celestial navigation

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“FISH ON” yelled Barry and before long three of us were struggling to land the largest bull mahi mahi we have seen in many years.

The wind died later in the afternoon (it is currently 1.4 kts) so we are motorsailing. We should pass Marlon Brando’s island of Tetiaroa sometime around noon tomorrow.

August 5, 2009 0330 hrs, 17.32 S, 149.34 W, Log: 131,788 miles
At anchor, Papeete harbor
Baro: 1011.6, Cabin Temp: 80F, cockpit 75F, sea water 81.7 F

Our wind returned when we were passing Tetiaroa Island, and held nearly until we reached Tahiti. The stationary front that was sitting just south of Tahiti had built up impressive bank of thunderheads, but we managed to slip between the squalls and made landfall in fairly modest conditions. By 1615 we sailed through Papeete Pass, dropped the main and slowly did a tour of the harbor, looking for mooring options. We found two new floating docks with just a handful of local and cruising boats plus plenty of space as well as the spot nearly in front of customs and immigration office where we had temporarily tied to clear in in 2005, our last visit to Tahiti. We ended up anchoring just off a new unused stern-to mooring area slightly west of the yachts, and are now taking turns standing anchor watch. Papeete harbor has long had a reputation for theft from yachts tied up along the waterfront so we chose to anchor off even though it is less convenient.

August 6, 2009  0845 hrs, 17.30 S, 149.49 W, Log: 131,805
At anchor, Cooks Bay, Moorea
Baro: 1012.2, cabin temp: 73F, cockpit: 78F, sea water: 81.9

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Astern we watched as two tugs, plus the pilot boat led a very large freighter into the harbor.

Yesterday morning, not long after I went back to sleep following my anchor watch and writing the previous update, Amanda and I were awakened by a brilliant light shining in the aft cabin hatch and ports. At first I thought it must be headlights from a car on shore, but by the time I had the hatch open I was confronted by the 80’ Papeete dark green harbor tug very close astern, shining her huge searchlight on Mahina Tiare. In seconds I was on deck and one of the tug’s crew explained that they would be maneuvering a large freighter into the harbor shortly, and if possible, could we take a stern line ashore and pull ourselves in a bit, or else move further in the harbor. In a minute we had started to raise anchor and all expedition members were quickly on deck, readying dock lines and fenders.

The previous evening we had checked out places to moor temporarily for customs and to fill our water tanks, so we just side-tied to a floating pontoon and started filling our tank. Shortly after when we were washing down Mahina Tiare, Gerard, the harbormaster for yachts and a long time acquaintance, stopped by to say hello. He asked us if we would be clearing in once the offices opened. It was great catching up on the last four years (his outrigger canoe team has won the prestigious Molokai Channel Race in Hawaii the past three years)...

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Plus a Tahitian dance lessons for Amanda - stay on your toes vahine!

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Amanda and I soon headed up to his Gerard’s office and immigration to check in; located on the new cruise ship quay just past the tourist office and night parking area for Le Truck food vendors.

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Before long we were all set and everyone took off to explore town and the amazing Papeete public market.

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Rick and Miriam surprised us with a bunch of delicious pineapples, pamplemousse and a box of exquisite cakes and pastries while Carol returned with sweet finger bananas and fresh basil; Amanda’s favorite galley essential.

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By 1100 everyone was back and we set sail from the picturesque water frontfull of racing outrigger canoes.

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Rick and Miriam surprised us with a bunch of delicious pineapples, pamplemousse and a box of exquisite cakes and pastries while Carol returned with sweet finger bananas and fresh basil; Amanda’s favorite galley essential.

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What perfect conditions we had, clear skies, moderate seas, gorgeous islands ahead and astern and the knotmeter nudging eight knots.

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We anchored deep in Cook’s Bay off the old Club Bali Hai and before long Amanda had our crew dismantling and servicing winches shortly, though a little hard to stay focused with a gorgeous backdrop. Gerard had mentioned that Bali Hai has great Tahitian on Wednesday and Sundays night so I checked ashore to check out when it started. The beachside bar and barbecue that Club Bali Hai usually offer after the dancing was cancelled as tourism is substantially down but there was still dancing.

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At 1800, just on sunset, a dozen drummers, guitarist and ukulele players and singers set up on the lawn under the full rising moon. They soon provided a dramatic drum beat and pace for the 15 dancers that entered onto the lawn in full dance regalia of flower leis, crowns, hatua (belt of woven ferns) colorful pareaus and grass skirt with matching i’i (tassels) They exhibited so much energy and passion for their music and dance that it literally brought tears to my eyes.

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To hear this music and watch the dancers was what we have missed, and looked forward, for the four years while we’ve been away, sailing in Europe. The dancers did multiple costume changes, including one of the male dancers who started to lose his small and tightly-wrapped pareau, much to the delight and amusement of the female audience, perhaps the Tahitian version of a costume malfunction. Another highlight was the tiny daughter of one of dancers who mimicked her mother on each dance. See if you can find her in the dancing image.

After an hour of nearly non-stop dancing the dancers were exhausted and sweaty. Normally at the end of a performance the dancers will drag a few reluctant folks out of the audience to try and teach them how to Tahitian dance.

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Miriam, Amanda and Carol with dancers

Not this group – they got the entire audience up on the grass, lined us up in rows and we had formal dance instruction. Guys have it easy…they just open their arm wide, squat lightly, then open and close their knees, known as opening and closing the door. The girls just wiggle their hips….oh yeah….looks easier than it is. Amanda was thankful for her lesson from Gerard. To cap off our evening our crew treated us to an excellent pizza dinner at Alfredo’s, just down the street.

This morning Amanda taught going aloft for rig inspection, crew cleaned cabins and before we knew it an excellent three week expedition was over. Paul and Carol are staying a week longer on Moorea perhaps in honeymoon preparation while the others are catching the ferry back to Papeete. Amanda and I now have a week to enjoy various anchorages on Moorea while catching up on boat projects, writing and relaxing.

 

itinerary leg 2 2009

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