7th July 2010.
Hi there we are still alive and making our way west although we have come across our first major breakage, the port rudder is missing. What is it with Augusta Yacht Club boats and rudders. We were a lot luckier than Chris and I only noticed it missing when I dived in to check the anchor at our anchorage in Bora Bora. I sort of double blinked and thought what the …. Is going on and then it sunk in. Horror. I actually jumped back in later to see if I was tripping or something but I wasn’t, worse luck. We got onto Brian Perry and he is making us one and sending it here early next week, blows my schedule out, but the girls were grinning from bloody ear to ear. Bora Bora is pretty amazing with water like you see in magazines and compared with a 8 day sail to Western Samoa it must have looked very appealing.
We had a ball on Hiva Oa, Marquesas, and as always with our good luck we came across a taxi driver named David, who runs his own show and is very helpful and seemed to like us. The usual fare to town is 2000 francs, $25 AUD, but this soon became 1000 and we could get him to wait, come and have beers, pick us up late at night anything you wanted. Good bloke. Once we got the boat anchored up the general consensus with the Dolly Grace mob was to go and get on the piss, after 18 days 1 hour, pretty good call. They all walked to town and we sat on the boat drinking Moet and reflecting on the enthusiastic congratulations we received by a bloke in the harbour, it was a truly meant , well done you two, and made our achievement all the more rewarding.
Moe, who would rather get her feet on land, finally came around when we drove past them in the main street still looking for a pub and food. With Mark in toe David took us up to one of the best restaurant bars we have seen, awesome views and friendly staff who don’t come across Australians much. They served freezing cold Hinano beer, local, and we plyed the taxi driver all afternoon. We hadn’t worked out the currency yet but the humble franc is worth more than you think. So drinking is an expensive habit but I reckon a good one to have. We taught all the staff to say Gidday Mate and Seeya later alligator which at first they were shy but soon came to the party. We headed back to the boat and and it was decided to visit again for tea. Tea was a bit drawn out and not as good as expected but good fun and all the others spun out when the girls at the desk said gidday mate as they walked through the door.
Dolly Grace left 0600 and headed for Nuku Hiva, a trip that they struggled with, 40kns and into a large sea and one crew down as the captain decided Mark had to leave. He hung out with us until his plane took off and he headed for Tahitti. Lucky bugger got to surf 4 foot Cheaupou. We scored his cigars. We cleared in to French Polynesia. It was an easy task and then we had to pay our bond, equivalent to a one way ticket back to Australia $1200 each. You get it back when you leave FP so we will be able to spend up then. We checked out the joint, very neat and tidy and everyone is friendly. Bonsoiring and merci becuing to anyone who came within 10metres of me had Moe spewing but I had good fun and they seemed to like it as well. We were going to hire a car but instead I got the genet going and the HF radio still doesn’t work for email or fax, it will probably work when we get home.
I did all the washing by hand and hung it around to boat. That night we had tea at David’s cousin’s restaurant playing pool on a huge table with big pockets, suits my game and I flogged everyone. Ate local style food, fillet steak and digon sauce with noodles and a salad, bloody beautiful, all eaten with the family. Excellent. If going to Hiva Oa it is a must. Easy to find as it is the only place on the hill as you look north. Next morning it was time to say seeya to Mark as he was flying to Papeete with so much luggage that we ended up with cigars and mount gay rum so all was good for us. We did a big clean up, got some bread and fruit and were ready to leave at 1200. Said our goodbyes to everyone and hit the high seas at 1300. As we got out the harbor it was rough as and not real flash. We had only 1 reef in and full jib and took off doing 12 kns between the island in 30kns and big seas. Couldn’t drop the main as too horrendous so ploughed on and came around the lee of Fatu Hiva to dead flat water but 25 to 35 kns so got rid of the main and sailed on heady past all the beautiful bays along that coast. Yachts everywhere and we were doing 12kns jib only, one gust made the rigging groan, not a good sound. Once past the tip and back out to sea we had it to the rear quarter and cruised off to the Tuamotos, 4 days away. Pretty much a set and forget trip with great winds and not to bad seas. We left Cumulus 1 for dead and could only reach them on HF. We got to speak to Kittiwake and Simpatica and had long convos with them as they hadn’t spoken with anyone for days, as Tim says in full Pommy accent, they are happy bunnys once more. Got a bet with Simpatica that they wouldn’t get there in 15 days, I think I won, and we sailed west south west. One morning Moe and I were playing scrabble when out of the blue she said what time is it, late morning was the reply and then the penny dropped it was dark outside. We went out the back and witnessed the last of a solar eclipse, pretty cool. We got a couple of bits of paper and put a pin hole in the top bit then lined it up with the sun and moon and what do you know, our own safe way of looking at the eclipse, last time I did that was when I was in grade 5 at primary school.
We came across the eastern Tuamotos and decided on Tuoa Isle but couldn’t make the Northern anchorage so we went for the southern. We were just about to enter when I checked the depths off the GPS and for some reason read it wrong, I hadn’t used the depths for so long as it was usually 2 or 3 kms deep and the paper charts use a different method giving decimal points alongside but not in line. Hope that made sense. Anyway all of a sudden I thought anything marked as 12 was 1.2m deep not 12, Dickhead. After I got over it and sussed it out Moe reckons that that was about the most pissed off she had seen me ever. I really thought we were not going to see the Tuamotos. You enter the Passe and head on a line that is in the GPS then divert to another and then another to the anchorage. There were 2 other boats there, Arctic and Lunar, Swedish guys. They gave us the nod as to a good anchor spot and we were soon parked up in 14m of water not 1.4 as I had thought. Pheww. Sunset was only an hour away so we hit the island, uninhabited but with humpys for when they get the copra from the coconuts. Pristine water and land although the ocean side of the attol is covered in rubbish but inside the attol is great.We sat back and got pissed and slept like never before. You couldn’t even hear or feel anything, unreal after 4 days of non stop sailing it is a bargain to pinch a good sleep. We woke up and went for a swim then headed out and as we approached the Passe I could see waves breaking across it so kept to the right side as it looked less dramatic but we were pushed into the middle by the water rushing off the reef and all of a sudden we were amongst towering stand up waves, horror, and at the last minute I gayed out and spun us around and headed back in but the first wave we got was one that wasn’t going anywhere but was easily 6ft high and towered over the back of us, Moe said horror, I said shut up and we went nowhere until the props dug in and all of a sudden we were doing 14kns and only just moving, but feeling safe and we eventually made it back into the attol. Horror. I couldn’t believe it but Moe got it on video, good family viewing with not 1 swear word, amazing. As all yachties would do I thought let’s give it another shot and stick to the right this time but I soon baled out as it was looking like the same result. So we anchored up after following the chart plotter lines and got onto Lunar who said he was surprised we had gone mid tide. It reminded me of the Gaps in the Kimberley where we used to muck around in shit like that for a bit of excitement, I must finally becoming old. We quizzed the guys and it was decided to give it a go at slack tide, somewhere between 1200 and 1300hrs. We swam around and got the BBQ arced up and had steak and eggs and a few beers. We headed out again and although it was better it was still a bit out of control but we made it and set the sails then tacked around the atoll and into the deep blue once again. We were on a broad reach doing 11kn’s as we got clear of the Tuamoto’s but then it all turned to shit.The Easterlies were back and as each front hit us we were in 20 to 30kn’s and a 3m swell. I would rather play with the toilet. We sailed all night and day and we were approaching Tahiti at about 2200 with all the lights of Papeete showing. The wind and the swell were huge with waves passing in front of us blocking out the sky, where is that toilet this must be what it is like to be a plumber.
We finally made it into the port and radioed Port Control and were given permission to enter. We moored up alongside of the wharf and footpath and were very happy to be on land and when Jen and Olivia rolled up we had drinks and proceeded to get very merry sitting there with a drunk in the bushes who I shutup by giving him one of Jen’s ciggys. We sat on the wharf to 0330 and finally crashed. Woke up to customs gently tapping on the hull. When I explained about the sail there and introduced myself he said alls cool and gave me to lunch to move. He turned out to be the nicest bloke and helped me through the process of including Jen and Liv to the Crew list. Superb. So with all the paperwork done Jen and I went for a walk around the the markets, great produce but excy, then a coffee and back to boat. On the way back came across the Cumulus mob who were both happy to see us and not so as they had heard about another cat that had capsized and thought it was us because they hadn’t heard from us. This we later found was due to our HF antenna unscrewing and no comms and our extra 5 hrs spent on Tuoa. Good to see they cared. That 5 hrs would have seen us probably beat the worst of the storm, spewing. You get that.
The girls stayed in the Sofitel and Jen and I stayed onboard and we just extended daily and then one day Jen checked the bill and wasn’t real happy with the poolside drinks bill, buggers. We hired a car and did the island but I had got a flu and some sores that were badly infected and felt like crap, sweating like a rapist and pretty grouchy but I put up with it so they could see the place. Tahiti is bloody expensive and with the old franc worth so much it canes the bank balance. Taxi fares are 3000f from town to hotel so we kept the car till we left. Left hand drive, almost run over a lady on a bike, so Jen reckons, I didn’t see it that way. We went to Teaupoo to see the surf, watched a motocross event and saw all the beaches where people surf or paddle board, all really good to see although for me it was through very drowsy eyes. We met a couple at the dinghy bar at the marina and got on like a house on fire as with a barman whose drinks made the 14000f worth it. We didn’t take the girls there. Happy hour is at 1700 to 1800 and you get a good mob of yachties there getting the cheap beer and wine. I found a chandellery, bought a new toilet, new HF aerial, safeties for genset and oil all for 113000f which was pretty good as the ariel in the US was $600USD. The temp switch didn’t fit, some home made thing by the genset mob, wankers, so had to get it machined in a factory. The antenna was broken and needed soldering so I went to buy a gas soldering iron which was easy but getting the gas was a different kettle of fish, unbelievable. In the end I got onto the guy who runs a chandellery at the marina and he told me to go to Carrefours to a little tabac shop but they had run out, in the end he lent me his gas. Then the soldering iron wouldn’t work so I borrowed his, but his wouldn’t get hot enough, so I took mine back and tried to explain and was told to go down the back so I said shall I just change it and she nodded, no idea what I had said, so I went down put the stuffed on the shelf grabbed the new one and walked out pushing Jen into the car and speeding away. I had Michelle’s gas gave it a go and halafunkinluya it worked and I could solder the single joint and the HF radio was once again a goer. What an ordeal. If I had done it by taxi it would have cost probably $200 in fares alone. This is pretty much how things go here. Frustrating is not the right word. We got a sailmaker who has setup a loft on his boat to fix the spinnacker and when we got it back and were loading it into it’s sock we notice all these other little holes so took it back. Told him to fix it but he didn’t start until I saw the quote, could have rung the pricks neck. Finally we got all things done including provisioning, fuel, clearing out and returning the hire car while the girls drank heaps of Baileys and Kalua by the pool. We were ready to leave for Moorea. We upped anchor and motored past all the yachts and said our goodbyes to the Swedes, scared the shit out of them as they had their backs to us as I approached and motored right up behind them, made them jump and they all yelled seeya Rocket Rod. Pretty funny as I never said a word. The sail to Moorea was a nice jib only affair with Liv driving and doing a fair to good job for her first go. We made it right on sunset so anchored out of Cook Bay, named by guess who. As usual everyone checks the dickhead late comers and gives a word of instruction. I dropped 40m chain and dived on it. All was good. We woke up in the morning and the boat next to us was miles away and that made me think of the guys behind us. I got out on deck and found our boats the dinghy distance apart and the other guys having breakfast. They invited me over but I declined and shortened up the chain and Boomerang sat well behaved all morning. We anchored up in the bottom of Cook Bay next to the guys on Vita, Walter and Ilina and their mates from Germany. He is a heart surgeon, so pretty good bloke to have next door, especially after the breakfast lunch we consumed. Had a nanna nap that arvo. We went to a restaurant that is in a book of the 1000 things you should do before you die, Well I have been there but we didn’t eat anything as outrageous prices. French onion soup was the cheapest coming in at just on $30 AUD for a pissy little bowl. Beers were $14 so we hit another restaurant that was pretty bloody good anyway. We upped anchor next morning and went to the next bay and swam etc and waited for 1800 so we could get going to sail to Bora Bora about 100nm. It was a nice sail until about 2200 when the wind swung right up our arse and the swell was about 15 degrees from the North. Shocking and was glad to see the sun rise. We sailed to Raiatea and come through a narrow passé and sailed around the atoll on the inside to the next island called Tahaa which is also inside the attol. A pretty nice place and considering the 4 to 5 metre swell we had been in all morning it was dead flat but windy. We sailed all the way to the top of Tahaa and anchored in front of a resort. We were diving on the anchor and around when a boat came up beside us and offered to take the girls snorkeling in a coral garden. They jumped, I said how much with the thumb and finger move, he was French, and he said for free. I just about fell over, something for free, not what you come to expect here. It was really good and they took us back the next day. We explored the reef and walked back along the track which had holes everywhere so I asked the local bloke Norbert what was the go and with a little bit of coercion he showed me how to catch the sand crabs with a long piece of bamboo, fishing line and a lime. You tie the lime on the line and kind of cast it at a hole in the ground. The crabs come out sniffing and just can’t help themselves and once they grab it they don’t let go. You just swing them in and drop them in the bucket. Pretty bloody easy. They tasted ok but are a bit fiddly. Norbert and Annette were keen on seeing the boat so they came for tea, I think it was probably the first time they had had cauliflower soup, they ate it but I am not sure they really liked it. Norbert liked the beers. I went for baggettes the next day on Tahaa proper and caught a fish, looked like a trevally but blue and went for breakfast at their place. Traditional French Polynesian, baggettes with soft cheese, green coconuts, café in a plate and paw paw and lime. All really good. He then took us on a tour of the resort that takes up a fair bit of his island. 5 star with all the trimmings, mainly moviestars and models go their. Pretty funny as Norbert walks around in a traditional sarong that looks a bit like a nappy and everyone seems to bow and scrape to him.
We left the guys and took with us presents in shells and necklaces and a really good feeling. We headed south a bit and out the passé and headed north to Bora Bora in good seas and wind. On this bit of the trip I thought the brakes went on as we were sailing and then it was right again and thought nothing of it and we hardened up to sail up to the passé into the attol. We were doing 7 to 9 kns only 50metres from the reef with a 2 to 3 metre swell running, felt great and absolutely normal. We entered the passé and went to an anchorage that we had been told about and anchored up. This is when I jumped in to check the anchor and found one rudder was missing. This caused another problem because in all the mayhem going around in my head I forgot to check the anchor and for the first time all trip the anchor didn’t hold and next minute we were drifting onto another boat. Untruckingbelievable. We hauled it in and shifted to another spot, set it again and dived on it, all good. And here we sit and wait.