Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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.

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