Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bora Bora

Bora Bora, Tues 28 June 2011 10:00 Tahiti Time
Twister arrived in Bora Bora yesterday morning after a two day passage from Tahiti. What could’ve been a one day/one night passage became two days and two nights due to light winds and a late start. As there was no chance of arriving during the daylight hours of the second day, I could set a leisurely pace (ie reef the sails more than I normally would’ve and sail more slowly) and set my sights on the following morning. Getting through Teavanui Pass into the lagoon in the dark would not have been difficult, but finding a good spot to anchor might’ve. The result was a slow but comfortable ride and an unusually dry cockpit. As I was searching for a spot to anchor not too far from the main town of Vaitape, I spotted a small group of sailboats anchored in Povai Bay. As I got closer, I could see they were all on moorings. A dock and restaurant were on the shore. I tried to find a relatively shallow spot to drop my anchor when I put 2 and 2 together and realized I had found the famous Bloody Mary’s. I tied up to one of the available mooring balls, inflated the dinghy, and rowed ashore. I confirmed with the staff that the moorings were indeed free. It has been squally and the winds have been gusty and constantly changing direction since I arrived, so I’m glad to be on a mooring (assuming that they maintain them). Also the lagoon in Bora Bora is quite deep in most places, so that makes for much less work coming and going (putting down and pulling up all the anchor chain which I do by hand). 
                The previous several days (after Bridget had to return to the real world) I sailed to Moorea and back to Tahiti once again. The film crew (two guys Steve and David) Bridget mentioned were interested in going back to their island to get some more footage (Me’etia) and I had agreed to take them (with the provision that we would sail the whole way) for a small fee. However, the winds were blustery and they had had trouble landing on the island in calm conditions, so they decided they’d rather spend the last few days relaxing in Moorea. Thus I sailed with Steve and David back to Cook’s Bay, Moorea. There we hung out with the guys from La Cueca, did some spearfishing, sightseeing, and beer drinking and my cruising kitty (as one’s bank account is called in the cruising vernacular) was replenished somewhat. One night while we were anchored in Cook’s Bay, someone snuck up and stole La Cueca’s dinghy and its outboard motor.  Finding a reasonably priced dinghy and outboard motor in French Polynesia is about as easy as finding a (insert noun) in (insert place). They had a small backup inflatable dinghy so I offered to sell them my outboard motor for a reasonable price. They agreed, and Twister is happy to be rid of the weight when we’re sailing.  I have also decided to sell my beloved bicycle (hopefully here in Bora Bora). It has a lot of sentimental value for me, but I have not been using it very much and after another few months at sea, it will just be a lump of rust.  Anyway, I sailed back to Tahiti on the23rd (I think), dropped off Steve and David, set sail for Bora Bora the next day, and the rest you know.
     Oh, Bridget posted a bunch of pics from her visit.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bridget's blog entry 3

Tahiti is a beautiful island, but we are anchored near the city, Papeete, so it is a busy place.  However, we still awake to the sound of roosters just before sunrise.  It is full of sailboats, jet skiers, mega-sailboats 150+ feet, water skiers, and such.  It also has big city perks such as cold beer on tap, lots of fun cruisers, parks to toss the Frisbee in, big grocery stores for provisioning (where get mustard to improve the already delightful sardine baguette), laundry, and food vans called roulottes, which serve up tasty local treats.  My favorite local food is poisson cru.  Poisson cru is a bit like ceviche, but it created from raw tuna, coconut milk, and a few veggies and spices. Delicious.
We got more eggs and therefore could return to making Norwegian pancakes! And we return to inviting cruisers over for breakfast.  We shared a breakfast with Paul, a Dutch, singlehander.  His boat, Rebellion, is 27 feet and he left on his journey 6 years ago.  During the breakfast a sea turtle swam by, so I grabbed my mask and snorkel and joined the turtle for a swim!!!
Evenings are typically spent chit-chatting with cruisers at the Dinghy Bar, which happens to serve up liter beers.  Simple and delightful evenings of conversation and sometimes even poetry from Terry a gentleman Aussie.  The evenings seem magical, but so simple that is difficult to describe what makes them wonderful.
We met a film crew on their way to explore an island 80 miles from Tahiti, which might be appropriate to relocate a tribe and culture from another Pacific Island, because their island is being erased by rising sea levels due to climate change.  Gray and Rory are hired to sail them to the island. 
One evening as we were getting back into our dingy we bumped into Gil and Kathy, two wonderful Canadians that live on Endorfin and they invite us over for a nightcap.  We get to sip bevies, listen to good music, and dance on the bow in the moonlight.  They give us a tour of their boat, which they have had for 17 years so the stories are incredible and the “remodeling” of the boat over the years is impressive and makes it a lovely home sweet home.
There is a surf break not too far from the boat, so we can dingy there in the mornings often with Gary and Rory after coffee.  Nice waves, but it gets shallow and reefy on the inside. It is crystal clear water and one can enjoy views of coral and fish while waiting in between sets.  We surfed one day with fabulous locals that were taking off late and staying in front of the barreling wave crashing on the reef behind them!!

Mo’orea is a lush and mountainous island just 20km northeast of Tahiti.  Spectacular!! We headed there on June 16 for 2 nights and a day.  We anchored in 10 feet of clear water.  We could hop off the Twister and with a minute swim be snorkeling an impressive reef.  During one snorkeling we saw what looked like a white mini-moray eel with Polynesian style tattoos. We also spotted some crazy life form that looks much like 4 feet of rope with 2 inch diameter and has a tentacle head at both ends seemingly snacking on coral. BIZARRE!
We hitched about Mo’orea.  We hitched up a mountain to Belvedere lookout for a view of Moorea from above.  We did a splendid short hike through the lush jungle.  We found a waterfall and had an incredible fresh water rinse.  Showers are extremely rare while dwelling on a sailboat, so the waterfall felt amazing.  The flora was diverse with numerous types of flowers and trees.  We didn’t see much wildlife.  And each and every time I heard something in the jungle moving around it turned out to be a chicken or rooster!! Unexpected at first, but then it became normal.  Why would there be rooster just running wild in the jungle.  There are a ridiculous number of chickens on Moorea.  It is evident in the morning when the roosters begin crowing.  They are loud even on the sailboat anchored offshore.  The night sky was delightful.  The moon was just past full.  So, the nights started without moonlight just impressive stars.  After a few hours the nearly full moon would rise behind the mountain to join us and the stars!
We returned from Mo’orea to Tahiti after 2 nights.  There was enough wind to sail most of the way. 

I head back to LA tonight and as I approach the end of my trip I feel extremely lucky to have experienced the wonderful life on the Twister and also a bit like having a big cry.
“She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.” –Brian Andreas

Bridget's blog entry 2

Cruiser Culture
Cruisers are the folks that live on the boats.  Most of them travel in pairs and have crossed the Pacific at least once.  The boats come in all shapes and sizes.  I would say typical size is around 40 feet.  The Twister is on the tiny side of the spectrum at 28 feet.  The people are friendly and appreciate a sense of community, because all are dwelling a bit isolated on their respective boats.  The evenings are often full of nice conversation and cold beers when possible.  The weather and wind is always topic number one.  And then stories from life and philosophies on living.
One night on Rangiroa it was simply announced on the VHF radio channel 16 that there would be a bonfire on the beach after sunset.  At sunset the sound of dingy engines heading to shore fill the air.  The campfire was delightful. There are lots of good cruising folks.  We remembered to bring bourbon for sipping, but forgot cups.  Luckily, Lars is ship monkey so he climbed a coconut tree to fetch us coconuts from which we could sip.  The beach was lovely with moonlight on the white sand and palm tree shadows for decoration.  Lars played some good old blues guitar!

Our Dingy with the Little Engine that Could
The dingy is a key accessory for any cruising sailboat.  It moves boat dwellers from their isolated boat islands into the world and community.  Our dingy rocks!!  It is a shade of orange that matches the color of a cheery flower and rays of sunshine.  I love our dingy complete with the little engine that could! And it has made us well known in the cruising community.  It has a few leaks.  Many folks know us for our dingy and our smiles as we lounge crosswise in the dingy bailing water as we go and sometime pumping air into it as well.  One couple we met said they enjoy watching us.  The wife said the first time she saw us was after her husband called her up on the deck saying “you’ve got to see this” and the “this” was us in the dingy.  But, it always gets us where need to go.
Passage Rangiroa to Tahiti
We packed up the Twister on June 10 and started the 200 mile trip to Tahiti around 10am.  We timed the passage out of the atoll with the outgoing tide and sailed out of the atoll into 20 knot winds and 6-8 foot swell. Eventually we went into the island shadow for “perfect” sailing conditions to use Lars’ adjective.  The Twister just cruised along with the auto pilot wind vane doing the work at 5.7 knots. Sunshine and boobies kept us company.  The boobies considering a rest on our mast, but can’t find a suitable seat.   Gorgeous sunset. Then, I was harnessed in for the first watch. 
We sailed through the night sharing watch duty in 2 hour blocks.  The weather was quick to change from star filled skies to clouds and back to stars and moonlight.  Squalls could be seen in the distance, but we never ended up in the heart of one just a few raindrops now and then.  When not on watch the large swell made sleeping on the floor the best option on few seat cushions.  Then, rise and shine every 2 hours. 
Just after sunrise back to the normal routine of coffee and breakfast of granola, cookie crumbs, and powdered milk.  The auto pilot does most of the work.  We tossed in a fishin’ line.  Then, played high stakes chess with the loser having to clean the fish. I lost, but we never did catch a fish.  I was feeling a bit of background seasickness during the passage.  It was nothing awful, just a constant reminder that the sea is much mightier than I am. 
Night two had rougher seas and I was cold as wet just like I imagine sailing to be.  I awoke from my secure location on the Twister floor at 2am to start watch.  The moon was ¾ full and was in the clear western sky.  The eastern sky had rain and dark clouds.  Then, magically and eerily a “moonbow” appeared.  A perfect rainbow shape spanned across the eastern sky, but the color was of moonlight. Beautiful. We had a lovely sunrise as we approach Tahiti.  We dropped anchor 47 hours after we picked up anchor in Rangiroa.

Bridget's blog entry 1

Marvelous! Simply marvelous. I steal the phrase, but believe it is the best way to describe life on the Twister with Lars.  I joined the journey in Rangiroa, an atoll in the Tuamotus, 16 days ago and Lars asked me to do a few guest blog entries.  There is so much to write and I would have enjoyed writing more frequently and somehow attempting to catch all the moments, but the moments must be lived, so writing is tough.  Plus, the internet connection is not reliable.  We are motoring currently from Tahiti to the neighboring island Mo’orea.  We started by sailing off the anchor, but eventually the wind died and the motor began putt-putting us along.  I decided it is a good time to write.
                Lars suggested telling chronologically…
I met Lars on Rangiroa on June 1.  It took me 16 hours of traveling from California to catch him after 5 weeks of sailing.  Planes are apparently quite fast.  Rangiroa is an atoll and at the widest point is about a half mile wide.  The landing strip is nearly as wide as the atoll with blue tropical waters all around. Lars greeted me after my walk across the tarmac with a smile, hug, and a cold beer!! A fellow Lars met a few days before happened to be at the airport, so he gave us a ride the few miles down the atoll to a dock.  There we were met by the “neighbors” Gary and Rory.  They are two Brits that left Los Angeles on a maiden sail in January on their boat La Cueca.  After a few months in Mexico they crossed the Pacific and anchored next door in Rangiroa.  We cheers! a Hinano, a Tahitian beer, while overlooking tropical blue seas and they give us a lift in their dingy back to the Twister.
The anchorage is beautiful with crystal clear water.  We are anchored in 25 feet of water, and can see the bottom, corals, and fishes with no problem while on the boat.  We enjoy a quick snack of grapefruit.  Grab the snorkeling gear and snorkel to shore.  Incredible! We pick up the dingy under a coconut tree and Lars rows down to the passage so we can drift snorkel over a reef.  The atoll has limited passages from the outside ocean, so when the tide is coming in the current is quite strong and one can simply drift along and admire the coral reef.  There was so much life including moray eels, parrot fish, pipe fish, pufferfish, fish with hot pink spots, banner fish, squirrel fish, and, and, and… We return to the Twister sip rum from coconuts we just harvested, shared a PBR, and cooked up some pasta.  Then, relax in the cockpit under the most twinkling night sky!!! There was a no moon, so the stars had the sky all to their selves and put on quite a show.  The Southern Cross shines brightly each and every night with shooting stars.
Typically we awake to roosters “cockadoodledoo” before sunrise around 6.  We are anchored 200 meters from shore.  We watch the sunrise while the water boils for the French press full of coffee.  I like a morning swim and then we can kick it with coffee and a grapefruit in the cockpit as the day begins.  Most mornings we listen to a bit of RadioNew Zealand from the shortwave radio.  This keeps us having a clue about the happening in the world.  Listening to human news from a peaceful lagoon has a sci-fi feel to it.  A sense of ease dropping onto a world far far away with updates on wars, war crimes, trade agreements, food stamps, murders for sorcery.  The pressing issues of the day. Busy, busy, busy. And then we switch it off.   And must decide if we want Norwegian Pancakes or French toast to go with the nutella and bananas that Lars acquired by trading a chunk of rope.  So, that was my first 18 hours!
Okay Highlights….
After a few days we sailed across the Rangiroa atoll to the Blue Lagoon. BEAUTIFUL.  Before we drop anchor we already see 5 black tip reef sharks.  We dive in a swim with the sharks, check the anchor, and snorkel over to Rory and Gary in La Cueca.  They buddy sailed with us to the Blue Lagoon.  We wander the lagoon.  Gather coconuts, see sting ray, little baby sharks about 1-2 feet all over the place.  Lovely sunset sunset over the lagoon! Dinner on La Cueca. 
Day 2 at the Blue Lagoon -The dingy engine works for the first time since November 2009! Miracle, which is celebrated with wine and dingy rides.  Snorkeling and more coconut gathering. We play the violin/fiddle. Lars has learned a Norwegian folk tune on the violin.  Happy Hour CocoLocos (rum in our coconuts) while floating in inner tubes with sharks swimming past. We catch 3 crabs from the island for dinner and prepare them with potatoes and coconut rice.  STARS!!!!!
Day 3- Weather goes crappy! So we must leave the blue lagoon and cross the atoll for shelter.  Back return to our original anchorage near Tiputa. 
The weather, wind, and swell meant no leaving Rangiroa for 5 more days. Rainy days equal cribbage, French toast, guitar, swims.  Weather cleared on Rangiroa, but the open ocean still had large swell and lots of wind 30+ knots.  We surf.  The locals are so friendly and invite us to share the better wave at the peak.  We toss the Frisbee with the local kids after which every time we come ashore kids ask us to toss the Frisbee with them.  We dive with grey reef sharks in the deep blue ocean.  We hitch rides around the island and learn that the best deal for lunch is a baguette with canned sardines and we eat lots of those sandwiches.  We play chess on the beach. Lars plays guitar.  We cook pasta with tons of garlic and always hard boiled eggs.  We campfired on the beach with Rory, Gary, and a few local kids.  We watch the dolphins do crazy jumps in the rushing currents and standing waves in the passage.  We hitch rides around the atoll. All lovely adventures.


Bridget flew home to Los Angeles last night. It was nice to have a friend along on the Twister for a couple of weeks. She kindly agreed to write a couple of guest entries on the blog. I posted a few pics from the last few weeks.

Monday, June 13, 2011

In Tahiti

Just a quick update--Bridget and I arrived Tahiti before sunrise this
morning and anchored at 17 deg 34.938 min S, 149 deg 37.190 min W near
Marina Taina. We had a nice 2-day sail from Rangiroa. Hope to post
some more pics soon (sharks).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I wrote this on June 7 but forgot about it and am just posting it now.
Tiputa Pass, Rangiroa, Tues 7 June 2011 21:23 Tahiti Time
I surfed Avatoru Pass Tues the 31st. It was 4-5 ft and pretty clean. My first time surfing over coral reef--A little unnerving when the water is so clear. The locals were the friendliest I’ve met anywhere. When I chickened out on my first wave, I thought I wouldn’t get another chance (which is what would happen many other places), but nobody seemed to care. They actually continued to encourage me (hooting and hollering) when I would paddle for a wave.
 Bridget arrived Wednesday the 1st of June. We drift-snorkeled Tiputa Pass the next day. We saw a lot more life than I did on my first attempt. Most of the fish I can’t ID, but we did see at least four Green Morays, a couple of White-tip Sharks, many Parrot Fish, Triggerfish, Unicorn fish, and I think a Napoleon Wrasse. Friday we motor-sailed (mostly motor because it was very calm) to the Blue Lagoon (a lagoon within Rangiroa’s large lagoon) on the western end of Rangiroa, along with our friends on La Cueca, Rory and Gary.  Before we even dropped anchor, we had seen 4 or 5 Black- and White-tip Sharks. It was nearly dead calm the two days we spent there. Parts of the lagoon are too shallow to even snorkel. It is like a miniature atoll, with several coral islands surrounding it and passes in between. From what I could see, the best diving is on the outside of the eastern end (ie inside the big lagoon) of the Blue Lagoon. Everywhere you turned there would be another shark. We picked coconuts and collected a few crabs and had coconut juice with rum and crabs for dinner one evening. We were going to go back for more crabs if we didn’t get sick from the first batch, but the weather had other plans.
It remained dead calm until Friday around noon when the wind suddenly piped up after a little squall blew through. Being on the western end of the (big) lagoon left us on a lee shore with a lot of fetch on the windward side and an uncomfortable swell built up quickly. We pulled up the anchor and had a wet and bumpy ride beating back to our old anchorage by Tiputa Pass. We arrived just before dark and have been hunkered down here since then along with about 20 sailboats and one mega-yacht, waiting for this front (or whatever it is) to blow through.  We put down a second bow anchor yesterday morning, more for the practice than out of necessity. Things have calmed down a bit now, but I think we’ll stay put till Friday when it looks like conditions will be nice for the sail to Tahiti and the big city of Papeete (I think it’s pronounced Pa-pe-eh-te). Bridget and I are looking forward to seeing Teaohupoo in all its glory. I think I’ll let her surf there while I take pictures. We’ll also head over to Moorea (right next to Tahiti) for a couple of days.