South Pacific August 2010


Hi there back with more, Bora Bora is a great place to stay for a short time but it soon became Boring Boring for me anyway. We remained in the anchorage for a week and then decided to move with just 1 rudder. To get  from the anchorage to town was a bit of a mission and Moe, Liv and I had a altercation with not 1 but 2 reefs on our way back in the dinghy the first night. Town is all set up for the dancing competition with all grass huts with restaurants and bars, all pretty cool. There are duty free shops selling pearls, banks, T shirt shops, bars and supermarkets and you can get pretty much all you need. Chin Lees supermarket sells everything and is the bottleshop and baggette supplier. The good old baggette is one thing you get daily and if you let it go stale, about 8 hours, then slice it up for toast it is a winner. We have lived on that for brekkie since getting to FP. Got the rudder in with help from Walter and Ilanor, couple of Austrians, good dudes and celebrated with a few beers then went for a test drive. All good. Went around the island inside the reef and checked out where the girls and I rode pushies. The ride around Bora Bora would have been OK if we hadn’t listened to Moe who thought the pretty red bike was for her, so we all got heaps of shit, no gears and my seat broke making for a horror time. We all got back to the boat and went to bed, 35 kms.

Next day, Jen and I loaded up and went to Bloody Marys for lunch and a few and got free water and ice, bargain, the girls climbed the mountain which was a horror effort taking all day, they slept well that night too. Next day said our goodbyes and headed out for Western Samoa an 8 day passage. We all caught a mahi mahi each and Liv caught her first big fish, they were all about 15kgs and put up a good fight. Only killed 1 let the rest go. 2 days out the spinacker ripped again this time pretty terminal so Moe got yelled at, but after a day or 2 I got over it. Liv found that the seasick pills worked good although she still got a bit crook. Moe and Liv did watch from 1800 to midnight and I did it from then to whenever they woke up and Jen cooked, so it all went well.  We didn’t see another boat after FP so we could have slept the whole way anyway.DSC02380

We pretty much had easterly winds all the way there so jibed backwards and forwards downwind the whole way. We got to Samoa in the afternoon and got led into the marina and as it was Sunday we had to wait for clearing in the next morning along with 5 other boats. The customs and immigration people were great, on time and quick so we were allowed to leave the marina by lunch time and went with Andy our new self designated taxi driver to a Chinese restaurant and then to the slippery rocks. You pay about 2 bucks each and you go and slide down these really steep rocks into a pool. They would ban it in Australia. After my first go I just drifted around the pool with a fake smile on hoping that the pain from my balls would go away. It took a good 10 minutes. Moe and Liv got into it, Jen wouldn’t go near it and just swam in the pool at the bottom of the hill. DSC02434
                                                       We went and checked out the whole island and had a feed at the southern end where the tsunami hit. Now that was sad about 150 people were killed mainly children and grand parents. They are making roads up into the hills for people to relocate and also as an escape route. Poor buggers, real sad. We saw some hooting waterfalls, caves and towns and for the cost of $150.00 it was cool as I didn’t have to drive all day. Got the taxi driver drink driving again and had some breadfruit that his wife cooked, not much chop.

To fuel up you can either take jerry cans or get a minimum of 1000l in a truck from the wharf duty free. I sweet talked the girl into letting us just get 700l which still ended up 170l to much but a couple on another yacht soon had 8 cans and bought it off me, good deal all round saved .50cents a litre and didn’t have to go back and forward in a taxi 10 times. Taxis are cheap though. We did a shop at the markets and supermarket and left Liv with the guys on a boat next to us for the night so she could fly out in the morning , and set out at about 1500hrs around the top of the island headed for Fiji.

Good sail but could have done with a bit of south in the east but not to be. Sat on 7 knots  for 4 days the whole way to Suva. The last day was a motor as it was like a millpond so we had the lines out. Caught a Bonito, lost a Mahi Mahi  at the boat and something else that just took off with my lure and line. Need to get new line as it is all twisted and stuffed. Got into Suva 1800 once again on a Sunday so wasn’t meant to leave the boat. Moe and I did a commando raid and got some drinks from the Royal Suva Yacht Club. We had to keep a low profile but got stuck next to the number draw in front of everyone, so much for the stealth. Next day customs came out at about 1600hrs and did their stuff. All went good but apparently you need to let them know you are coming 48hrs prior to arrival. Said we were sorry and thought nothing else of it. They moved to other boats and we hit the bar where we got stuck into it with a couple of locals, Phil and Kerry , had a beauty.
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Next day organised  spinnacker repair and new GPS  then went to town to get our passports stamped as they forgot their stamp. I waited for an hour or so and then got told to wait more as we had breached Fiji laws and it needed to be sorted out by the boss. He give it to me but I just kept nodding and bum licking till he finally had a guts full and let me off with my first and last warning, phew up to 10000FJD. Suva is a pretty old place but has really good food and shopping, lots of people, most things you need and the RSYC which is over the road from the jail. Everyone wanted to marry Moe but not on, Imagine having an Indian taxi driver as a relly, on par with a bloody kiwi. The Fijian’s drive taxi’s at night and the Indian’s during the day so they don’t get robbed. The taxis are all rooted with the standard cardboard on the floor, open the door from outside when you are inside and lock the door with the window down to stop it from flying open when going round corners. The roads are rough as guts so all the cars rattle as well.

We had a ball, yumcha, chilli crabs and more yumcha. Bought half a dozen muddies for about $20 from the markets and the veges are superb. Pineapples, pawpaw and watermelon. This is my type of town.                                                                                                                                We bought 2 wraps of Karva for the chiefs on the islands we want to visit and the barman mixed up a brew for us on the boat. Tastes like crap and didn’t really do anything. We left Suva 0700 with the old repaired spinnacker and a new smaller one. We got round the bottom and it was 18kns up the bum so we decided to pop the new one. I attached it to all points and checked that there were no twists then raised it but the wind got in to where I had been checking and the bloody thing launched itself. The boat was in autopilot and then we saw the sock and its rope at the top of the kite. Horror. Not good as that is pretty essential to get the prick of a thing down. At least there were no twists and we now know it is a smart spinnacker. We were doing 13kns and the wind reached 20kns then 23 and then 25kns and we were doing 15kns and then a storm came in and all around us was white water and the white caps were pluming, we were now doing 14kns in the lulls and hit our highest ever speed, 19.7kns and believe me I was getting worried about my heart. Jen was shitn Moe was sleeping and Boomerang was planing in front of the waves. I took it for 3 hours and the waves were getting a bit bigger and all I could think of was that cats don’t capsize they cartwheel and that I was shaking so we made a plan, I let go of the sheet and Moe fed it then we ran to the front to try to drag it in, fat chance so we set Jen her job to let go of the halyard which she did and bolted inside, don’t blame her, but the cleat hadn’t been released. The noise was unbelievable. I got dragged  almost off the bow, Moe sussed the problem and released the cleat and down it came into the water. One of the happiest conclusions we could have ever hoped for. Moe’s comment after we had retrieved and packed it away was “That was never going to end up good” was horribly accurate.

We motored into the Port of Nadi, Port Denarau, at about 2100hrs, pitch black with no GPS and going with the flow of the day I drove us onto an unmarked rock and being super low tide we managed to clip it with the starboard keel. The boat stopped us dead in our tracks, lucky we were only doing 2kns, we reversed off and then we did 2kns to the entry of Port Denarau channel then had another brush with the bottom, this time mud and soft. I was just about to give up and anchor out in the bay but Luke and Luke were waiting for us in the bar. So we had another shot and cleared the bar by just over a foot and headed in to a very impressive marina and anchored up. Happy Fathers Day. That was the most full on day I had ever had as el Capitaine of Boomerang. We had a few beers with the boys and went back to the boat and carked it.

We checked out Nadi, Lautoka and a few tourist sites. We ended up at a mud hot spring, and had some fun. First you get down to your jocks then get into a filthy brown pool and reach down and grab the slime you are treading mud in and smear it on your head. You then get out and cover each other in mud you collected from the pool. You then stand in the sun to dry then back into the horror pool to clean down then into a hotspring to end it off. It was really good and you felt tired just walking to the car. We had tea, Karva with the band and all carked it early. We left for Musket Cove next morning and moored up to a buoy and went and checked out their slips. We decided to pull it out next morning and proceeded to get on it at Dick smiths Yacht Club. It was soon late and with no food we were pretty messy as we headed back to the boat and bed. At about  0300 I woke with the worries about pulling the boat out on the big trailer, didn’t get another wink but all for no reason as it went like a dream. We repaired the hole with the fiberglass gear I had bought from America, good job. Cleaned all the barnacles off and antifouled  bits that needed it. We finished at sunset and got do right in at the bar. That night we slept in the only high rise in Musket Cove. Putting it back in went well and we stocked up with ice and stuff and headed out to see the sites. Once again the reef is average although the fish were cool and we found a sea horse and a crown of thorns starfish. Ugly things they are. We then headed for Tanna Island but pulled up at a small isle and were confronted with about 10 dolphins that put on a show that was unbelievable. They were jumping 6ft into the air and belly flopping or diving back in perfectly, swimming on their backs and clapping their tails on the surface right alongside the boat. This went on for about half an hour, it was like they had escaped from marine world or something.  After they left Luke spyed a family of squid next to the boat. They were coloured black like the antifouling and were very lucky we didn’t have a squid jig. We tried catching them with all sorts of things but they weren’t that keen on our bait, chicken of the sea, we just call it tuna. Yanks. We swam around the island, a pretty good swim that just got longer and longer at every point we rounded. We finally reached the beach and found Jen in a pair of boardies and the mal on the beach. Had the usual beers and headed for Tanna Island and try to get to see the Dockers in the final. We ended up listening to it, bummer game after all the effort to get it. We went to Beachcomber Island, not much good and headed back to Port Denarau. Bought some pots and went crabbing with immediate results. Ended up catching 4 and stashed them for later. We stocked boat and said our goodbyes to the band, had one last Karva with Skins and the boys, and pizza. Cleared out next morning at Laurtoka and headed west .

The Ranga’s

 

 

Home of the South Pacific Franc

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.DSC01323

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.DSC01257

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.DSC01458                                                                         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.DSC01403The 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.DSC01503                       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.IMG_9758 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.DSC01870

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.

The Ranga’s

Pacific puddle jump proper

20th July 2010.

Hi back again, we have just about jumped the worlds biggest puddle. It has been good but the last few days the wind is right up our arse, the swell hard to port and without a spinnaker you don’t get much worse. So we can’t wait for tomorrow morning at 0930 to be in the bay at Hiva Oa, Marquesas Group.

We left Galapagos and got 12kns SE as soon as we left Santa Cruz and took off for Isabella as the crew reckoned we were mad not to go there. As we got closer the breeze was close to 20kns so we canned going ashore and went West. We had great sailing weather with 20kn ESE to start with and we were trucking along at 9 to 12kns for 3 days but the wind started to come from the East more and more so we needed new tactics as we don’t run with the wind very well. The others had been trailing behind us all the way were now in front and kept hitting us up to put the main up with no reefs, but we found a better weapon. The spinacker, it was like the winged keel on Australia II, all of a sudden we were  doing 12kns all day and dropping it for night and sailing jib only through the dark.DSC00894

We found it impossible to have someone on watch 24 hrs so we slept on the lounge and usually woke to a noise like sail flap or the water banging the floor as we either went down a wave or over one. I still tried to stay awake from 0300 to dawn but it was getting a bit like I couldn’t be bothered. Pretty kicked back and really enjoying myself. Moe wasn’t that keen and we had Vin from the other mob come for a sleep over. A hot shower, a good feed and some cold beers more like it. We were glad to have company and cooked spaghetti bog. (extreme cooking) It was almost done and a wave hit us and the bowl flew off the stove and landed upright on the carpet with half of it staying in the pot and the other half ending up on the floor. Lucky we had heaps. Horror mess. We cleaned the carpet by hanging it out the back transom doing 7kns, worked well. We ended up pretty merry that night and woke up with a hangover. First for the puddle jump. We got rid of Vin the next arvo, he had to throw his gear to the others and then jump in and grab hold of the hand rail, very dodgy in pretty crappy seas but was pretty bloody funny. He reckoned he looked like a penguin as he slid through the water and up on the back step, we thought more like a great big sea lion.DSC01092

After Vin was gone we had some really windy and stormy days with 30kn plus and we hit our top speed of 16.9kns which is the highest out of both our boats. We used the kite for 11 days and then finally we got caught with a storm. I was asleep and Moe was in charge and we got slammed muchas grande. We ripped the head off the kite and tore the strengthening bead of the tack, spewing. We cleaned it all up and bagged it then got ready for night. It was the stormiest weather so far and all the stories about the Pacific being passive are all bullshit. The swell got bigger and the wind and rain were howling so we set the jib, set our rumbline of 262 degrees and closed all the hatches and doors and had some beers and rums and slept right through the night, best sleep all trip for both of us, and when we woke up we looked outside and decided stuff that and watched DVD’S and listened to Carl Hiassen audio books all day then went back to bed and slept through another night of horror. We were doing 9 to 14 kns every time I woke up and had a look at the log and the storm just kept on. After 48hrs it became quite easy to cook and do stuff so we just did stuff inside like scrabble, Moe can’t count, cheater, still reckons having an extra letter is a bad thing. Using a dictionary is a bit dodgy too. Needless to say she won.DSC01098 (1)

We came out of the storms miles ahead of the other mob and just continued to sail jib only with the fishing gear out and trying to contact someone on the radioes, to no success, and we were feeling pretty bloody lonely. Then on the morning sched time 1500 UTC we got Kittiwake, a couple of good poms I met in a pub on Galapagus, loud and clear as they were leaving Galapagus. We were hooting, it was the coolest feeling just to hear someone close to us, sort of anyway they were 1300nm away. Our mates in Galapagus, Simpatica were soon on the radio and we yacked for ages. It was shithot. Best morale boost you could get. Another thing that breaks up the day is the daily puddlejump nets at 0100 and 1500 UTC, they only go for half an hour but you get to yack with everyone, they must cringe when I get on with gidday mate, hows it going mate, seeya mate and so on. It is pretty cool though as our radio is one of the best and we can hear most people. When we first worked out the frequency thing and that the wind generator put noise on it, we actually received people. Moe and I were ecstatic and since that day we make sure we are up and ready for the net. It is useful to know weather in front and to give boats behind the thumbs up. Its good also because all the boats behind us I have met the people and know what they are like. Kittiwake is a 45’ monohull, the guys on her are great and we have pretty long convos after the net which is like the highlight of the day. Pretty strange but that is how it is at the moment. Little things are really worthy.

Moe just bought out some hot bread, we both wish we had some Vegemite and some real cheese. In the Americas they don,t have cheddar cheese, weird, you can only get this orange processed crap, parmesan  or mosserella, soft goo that is good for nachos or pizza. We have had roast lamb, pizzas, French bread, soups, spaghetti, fried rice, chicken stuff and tuna patties and Moe now loves corn from a can and our fresh food is all but gone. Our last night meal is going to be chicken and chips as we have a few potatoes and a kg of chicken. Here is a tip, when you buy potatoes always get the dirty ones as they last so much better, cucumbers last for ages, beans also and the stay fresh vegetable bags work great. We have got 12 day old coriander still in pretty good nick.DSC01130

After another day and just closing in on half way we were back in contact with Dolly Grace, they were amazed that we were there and not miles behind,  wankers, I reckon  Lionell thinks he is Dennis Connor . We were visited by Mark for his sleep over and had a ripper of a night and once again stuck the jib up, autopilot on and carked it. We crossed over the hump at 0915 and cracked another  bottle of Moet and had bacon and eggs, Marks eyes were like plates, he chose a good night to come on board. We smoked some Cubans and partied all day. He was pretty keen on staying but his skipper wanted him back that night and it was probably good as I reckon our food stocks would have been devastated if he hung around too long. We went back to fishing, reading, and veging out. We were catching tuna daily but you  can only eat sashimi now and then, unless you are a jap I guess, so letting quite a few of them go. Yellow fin tuna around 600 to 800mm and probably 10kg. Good fun. In fact I think I will have a break from this and use one of our very flash lures, it’s a squid with a 10 inch rubber fish shoved up its skirt. Amazingly effective and if the sailfish are around they can’t help themselves. Now that I am thinking about it some sashimi might be nice.

Right, back have set the reel up so heres hoping. We hit a school of tuna one day and I caught 6 in 20 minutes all about 18 inches long, the first one was the unlucky one the rest went back. Moe has caught a couple of rippers and it breaks up the day. Pretty good way to spend the days and even when the storms hit us every night I reckon Moe just looked at it this way, the freaking quicker we go the freaking sooner we will be on land.(its true.. I did) I have learnt a lot about Moe and I think we have only had a couple of blews, usually bought about by her clemsyness. She is doing real well and can handle any type of sea be it 5 metre windblown snot or just the cruisey stuff. She can drive the boat and at present we can’t use the port engine due to a noise in the saildrive, so hoisting, reefing  and dropping the sails in 25kns is pretty full on but she handles it and just glares at me when I get excited like I’m a wanker or something. But when I served her up deep fried chips that were perfect and she poured the salt on, in her rush she took to whole top off the container, I thought what a tosser.

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Land Ahoy

We had 2 days of the cruisy stuff as we approached The Marquesas and our port of Hiva Oa. It is mobs better in a storm, just set and forget not up every hour ginning around with the sails or ropes banging, the only thing you can hear in a storm is the wind and boat crashing down waves. We spotted the craggy coast of Hiva Oa at 0930 and just plodded our way to the township of Autona. We arrived with congratulations from people we didn’t even know as we motored in and dropped the anchor. The Dolly Grace beat us there by an hour, we had the highest speed of 16.9kns and we caught 9 tuna to their 1, wankers. Cracked the last bottle of Moet and sat back to enjoy it much to the filthy looks from Moe who couldn’t wait to get on land. There were boats in the harbor that we heard and spoke to on the net and even Cumulus 1 who we last saw at Malpelo Isle weeks ago. Good vibe all around, even if Moe was spewing, I made her wait, don’t muck with the El Capitaine, you would have thought she would know that by now.

Seeya.

Galapagus here we are.

15th June 2010.

Our last days sail was superb, reaching for 24 hours past Cristobel and on to Santa Cruz, big swell running but cruising at 8 knots, autopilot loving life, beers going down a treat, this is sailing.                                              Dropped our sails and motored into the harbour at Academy Bay and we were completely shocked to see a lit up town on the waters edge, blue lighting along the jetty and ferry wharf. I thought there might be a few shacks or something but this is a eye opener, holy shit.IMG_2038 Vin and ladies                                                                                            We anchored up away from everyone as the swell was quite large and sweeping into the harbour, there were about 30 yachts and other ships in the harbour as well. Anchor set well in 4 metres and let out 40 metres of chain, congratulating beers followed then off to town to find the harbour master. Found him and his name was Seargent Romero, a very helpful bloke especially having to deal with a dumb Australian who can’t even say hello in Spanish. He pretty much told me we can all come ashore but must clear in tomorrow with an agent, he would also organise an agent for us, sounded good to me. I shot back out to the boat and picked up the others and back in for a feast and beers at Hernans Cafe which is a pretty flash joint.

Back at the boat we called up Dolly Grace and they still had 20 miles to go to Cristobel and they should get to Academy Bay at around sunrise. I reckon they got a shock as they thought they were in front of us, you get that.  Its funny as we have a HF radio and a sat phone but it won’t call their number and they don’t have HF so we can’t communicate once we are out of VHF range. You get that.Unknown-7

Dolly Grace mob woke me up at 0600 as they came past to anchor further out than us, they were all excited to be here thats for sure. This was to be a bad place to anchor and a couple of days later when the swell really picked up waves were breaking where they were anchored.

We all went into town on the water taxi, yellow boats, that pick you up from your boat and drop you off at the taxi wharf for 60 cents, we gave them 1 buck and they kept an eye out for you and the boat. On land taxis are white and usually cost 1 dollar to get around town. Our destination after seeing Seargent Romero was our agent, Javier’s place where he goes through the costs associated with our stay in Galapagus. All up it was about $750 USD for Boomerang, Muz, Moe and I which is a bit steep, but who are you going to argue with, if you were staying a bit longer than a few days I am sure it would be worth it. Geez people in Panama were whinging about paying the Kuna $150 a boat to visit San Blas, Galapagus is pretty unique though.IMG_2090 Blue footed boobies

We met Captain Louis off of a Catana 47 called Simpatica and his crew, Davina was a beauty too. She was in on anything going. When you go to Acadaemy Bay on a yacht you will inevitably me Cockaracha, you need anything he will find it, good value and honest. They have really good markets at the top of town, excellent washing services and I found a mechanic who could fix the alternator.                                        Moe and Muz joined Vinnie and Mark and went to Isabella, I stayed with the boat as the swell was getting out of control. Lionel did the same so it was a quiet few days with the boat to myself. Captain Louis and Captain Curly came over for Nachos and beers and to help set up the HF radio. After an hour or so I now had the knack, I could listen to the puddle jump net at 0100 AND 1300 UTC. Learnt how to search for other frequencies but still couldn’t get the pactor fucking modem to work, so it looks like all the subscriptions for sail mail etc are a waste of time for us. Captain Curly was a ripper, he was on a very small catamaran and had an engel fridge, a HF radio and a swag. His cat had started to fall to bits when all the nuts and bolts holding the hulls to the cabin pod came undone, lucky he was onto it or he would have sunk for sure.

IMG_2047 Molly and Davina with giant tortises

The biggest swell hit that arvo so Lionel and I got a taxi over to a wave that we had been watching and what fun we had. I got 2 hooting backhand barrels and just had a ball, the water is freezing though and 1 hour was enough, blue feet, knees and lips. We asked the taxi driver if he had seen any others surf  this spot and he laughed and said no way you fucking crazy, so we named the spot diesels coz all you could smell was the exhaust off a big ship anchored up about 50 metres away which was being emptied one barge at a time all day long, amazing, they offload land cruisers and mini trucks onto a barge then drive them off at the land base. Had good tucker with a market style street, with chinese, local and spanish style foods, cold beer and pretty cheap too. Had a meal out on the point at a restaurant that was superb, but expensive, and you could always get something at Hurnans Cafe and the place was a good place to catch up with other yachties and of cause Cockaracha. His fuel delivered to the boat in 18 gallon drums was $3.00 a gallon, the agent wanted $4.50 so it was a no brainer. His mechanic came back with the repaired alternator and I put that all back together so then the shed could be stacked up neatly and Boomerang was looking pretty good. Hit the market with Lionel, I bought heaps of fruit, veges and stuff, Lionel bought some muesli and that was it. Moe and I will be right at least we won’t starve. Javier dropped out our passports so when the guys got back we were free to go.Unknown-8

Met the crew from a yacht called Kittiwake, nice people who would be following us across the Pacific and would be listening in on the PPJ net daily. Captain Louis and Davina left with dodgy ill fitting keels  that had been made on the island and then the next day they returned to get them fixed properly, another cat come into harbour with only one rudder after hitting a reef at Isabella, Curly just smiled and waved and came over for drinks when we all piled onto Simpatica, they have got a coffee machine and all the gear. The Dolly Grace was parked next door as it had dragged its anchor the first day there, all the taxi drivers asking me why Boomerang is the only boat facing the shore something which I have no idea about but it was true it just sat there without surging on the swells or anything. I cleaned up my list and was pretty well ready to get going. We all went out for tea and a few drinks down the ritzy end of town, good food and nice looking out onto the bay.

The final morning I had radio lessons with Curly and Louis and then coffees and bacon and eggs and juices at Hurnans. The crews all returned looking burnt out and rooted with tales of climbing a volcano, swimming with sharks and general running amuck, their boat was late which then meant Muz had to get to the airport pretty much the moment he got back, which didn’t happen but we got him in a taxi to the airport with some chick from who knows where. So Muz’s farewell was not that well planned which was a bummer, he flew out to Panama City and then onto USA and back home. God we had some funny times and we all had learnt so much as we went along day by day. Now it was just me and Moe. Horror. Bought some soda water, bicarb soda and some yeast so we could give cooking bread a go. Mollie is not that keen to get going and putting on a bit of a show but it is time to go. A weather report is not much good as it only goes out 7 days and this could take 20 so this will be us against the elements, bring it on.IMG_2236 Penguins and Boobie

Dolly grace have got dramas with their anchor, ours come up nicely, Moe wore the Dufus headphones and did a really good job, we meandered around the anchorage saying seeya to everyone while we waited for DG and finally we were off. Great wind, SSW 15 knots and us doing 8 and a bit heading west with a bees dick of south.

The Ranga’s.