Posted by: catamarantwooceans | September 10, 2019

Epilogue

1.9.19 – Sunday – A few days ago when I spoke with Gili I told her:“Do you realize that after I leave here Tuesday we may not see Two Oceans ever again?” This is a sad feeling; I’m O.K with not seeing French Polynesia again in this incarnation but the ties to our boat are much deeper, it’s not like changing your car. I also said that I felt a little bit like I did when we ended the circumnavigation; an end to a fantastic chapter in life, a chapter full of experiences and adventures. The question:”What now” had risen then and received an easy answer. It is not the same today. We are at a crossroad and are not sure where the future will take us. I’ll be 78 next January and although I can still pull the mainsail up to the first reef by hand and do the Pincha Maiura yoga asana, my age is a thing to be considered. Right now we are sure to continue sailing; I cannot imagine my life without owning and cruising a cat.

There are two basic scenarios; the first – the boat will be sold here and we buy another catamaran in the Med.  Gili, who does not believe a sale in Tahiti would go through, supports the second possibility: transporting the boat by ship to the Med. That would mean that we stay with the old girl until the end of our sailing life, which is all right by me, even though I am a bit curious about owning a newer cat.

And what about the blog? Is this the one post before the last?

So this is how things stand now. I can only close this epilogue with the immortal words from an old song by Doris Day (remember her?):

“Que sera sera, what ever will be will be”

From Miki, leaving French Poly – Adios.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | September 4, 2019

Sailing Tahiti and Moorea–part 3

26.8.19 – Monday – Actually it’s only Tahiti from now on. Today was not dedicated to sailing. Alexandre, electronics technician extraordinaire, came by to fix the depth instrument which was showing its product only at high battery voltage or rather display disappeared in low voltage. At the beginning he radiated confidence, cutting wires and connecting others but slowly I could tell that something was not going according to plans. A few minutes of suspense passed when the gauge refused to cooperate but at the end we had an operating instrument which seems to work in all the normal operating voltage range. Alexandre came here  from Guadeloupe on a Leopard catamaran with wife and a kid and they are expecting their second child.

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Alexandre’s company name is “Marine Elec” and his phone number is 87374715.

Next I went to the Casa Blanca restaurant for their internet and the “Marina Express” supermarket to provision for the whole trip. I am not ashamed to confess that I bought Mahi Mahi steaks. Had one for dinner – excellent! By the way, I decided to shorten my stay here by a week; Nogah, my Californian daughter, will arrange for me to fly to San Francisco on the 3rd of September.

27.8.19 – Tuesday – The first day of my last week in Polynesia and I mean, most probably, my last forever. My destination for the day was Venus Point, where in 1769 Captain Cook built a small fort and probably led a group of astronomers to observe the transit of Venus (hence the name). The whole trip measures 14.4 miles so with time in my hands I played the “tack of the day” game. The wind was nothing like the forecast showed and at one point, when I was five miles from the point, it went below 8 knots so I changed to motor-sailing. Venus point is a narrow, low piece of land, jutting into the sea and is the most northern point of Tahiti.

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It does give cover from the seas and is a good anchorage. I dropped anchor at 7.5 meters, as the fish finder showed flat surface – probably a sandy bottom. The way the anchor caught confirmed it.

In the afternoon I returned to the locker cleaning project and this time it was the one where the anchors, chain and ropes are and also a compartment where I keep engine and gear oils. One hour inside that cramped place was not my idea of fun but it had to be done. Dinner: pork chops with home fries and coleslaw.

28.8.19 – Wednesday -  Another 14 miles trip to Ilot Nansouty; the charts are not very detailed but it seems that a good anchorage could be found there. The weather in my departure point was good but looking east I saw some grey rain clouds and hoped they would not interfere with my plans. Light wind on the nose to start with so it was motor-sailing with the full main up. My worries about those clouds was replaced by a feeling of wonder as a few whales were blowing in the distance but they did not stay long and the clouds just drew nearer and nearer. Just as I reached a point two miles from Nansouty it started raining and the visibility decreased to less than one mile. I decided to wait outside until conditions improve and half an hour later, when there was a bit of an improvement in the visibility I started going in.

There are two marks near the islet, one warning of the reef and the other – a green one showing the entrance; I thought that if I could see those I would be able to enter safely. This is how it looked as I came in. The smudges above the mark are rain drops.

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The main problem was that due to the absence of sunlight it was very difficult to read the bottom but advancing slowly and using whatever visual clues that were available I found a spot 0.15 of a mile south of Ilot Nansouty, where there was good sand bottom with only a few small coral heads and dropped the anchor at 3.5 meters. This is how it looked on the chart.                                                                                             

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When snorkeling to check the anchor I saw that most of the blue shallow area south of the islet was full of coral, in places coming almost to the surface. I was quite lucky with my location; the coordinates are 17 34.439 S 149 18.2 W.

After lunch and a short nap the weather improved greatly. I paddled the SUP against a strong current to the islet, where two fishermen were preparing their equipment for the evening.

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                            Unbelievably small Nansouty

Downloading the marine forecast via my Inreach Explorer I was surprised to see northwest and later westerly winds in the days ahead. This meant I had to change my plan and choose anchorages that were protected from that sector.

29.8.19 – Thursday – The place I chose for the day was 20 miles away, in Tahiti Iti, the smaller, southeastern part of the island; I planned go through the pass D’Aiurua and turn north to a location near a place called Panofai. The forecast was for northerly of 11-13 knots, ideal for my first 15 miles long leg but as I got out of bed I saw that it was already northwesterly, which meant straight from astern. Normally in a situation like that I sail wing and wing using the pole for the jib; today, however, sailing single-handed, ,with wind gusting up to 20 and swells to match, I decided to sail with just the main, forgoing my favorite Poleka dance on the forward deck. We were doing 6 knots which was enough for me.

Two miles to Aiurua, seeing the swells break on the encircling reef and thinking how narrow the pass is, I thought I should have an alternate in case Aiurua would be too wild. One and a quarter mile to the south there is another pass, Tomotai, which is much wider and has a nice bay in the lagoon inside. Why not make it the primary destination? I quickly put the pass and anchorage coordinates in the plotter and went into the pass. Waves were breaking on both sides but the pass itself was calm. I went in, using both C maps on my laptop and Navionics on my tablet, the sun was high and behind so it was easy to see some shoals on the way. Passing a small island on my way, a man on a proa with a small outboard, came to greet me and show me the best anchoring position.

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“Yachts do not come here a lot” he said. I really wonder why, the place is so lovely! Later in the afternoon I took the dinghy ashore to visit the village. The village is situated between the beach and the steep mountain. There is no road connecting it to the rest of the island, communication is only by sea. Some of the dwellings were neglected but quite a few had people in them, mostly women; every inhabited house had a dog or two who made a hell of a racket and some even faked an attack. I could see it was a fishermen village. The island near the entrance, Fenuaino, according to one of the guides, is a private island.

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                                   Two Oceans and Fenuanio

The coordinates of the  pass: 17 50.69 S 149 07.03W and the anchorage 17 49.85 S 149 07.7 W.

30.8.19 – Friday – Out of the pass I went to find the wind from the northwest at about 18 knots. My first leg on my route to the south east cornet of Tahiti Iti was 198 degrees so we sailed with the apparent wind 30 degrees aft of the beam and made good speed. This was great sailing and the sighting of a whale made it even better.We (Two Oceans and I) reached our target, Vaiau, went into the pass and aimed at the recommended anchorage. Alas, it was too deep and to close to shore! Fishermen passing by pointed at a place to the west of the pass but it was also the same. I decided to go out and find another quiet bay.

Looking at the charts and the guides I did not find any bay that was not too deep for my anchoring habits or had anchoring information on the guides. I could, of course go to Phaeton Bay but I really wanted a quiet, not a multi-yachts bay for tonight. I finally chose the anchorage of Papeari, where a Gaugin museum is located; it was 11 miles away, not far. The wind, meanwhile became southerly and light, and our speed went down to four knots and even less, but I didn’t mind, I was in no rush. I decided that three knots would be my minimum and just as I was preparing my lunch it happened. so a single engine was started and our ETA was in one hour.

I made a salad, eggs were being fried and the baguette was in the oven when I glanced out and saw the rod (I was trolling all the time) slightly bent. A fish, finally! It was a small skipjack tuna, a fish I do not like very much and its size did not even merit a picture. I finished washing the dishes half a mile from the pass, entered, found a place with acceptable depth and sandy bottom and anchored. Snorkeling to check I couldn’t see the anchor, down at 12 meters or so, but I did swim around to check the bottom, especially to the east, where there were quite a few bommies at a distance I deemed safe.

The next part of this post can be called 3D: Drama During Dinner. The time was 1930 and I was cutting into the chicken breast I made for dinner with boiled potatoes and long beans, when I felt the wind become stronger. I left my food to glance at the instruments and was much surprised to see 4 meters depth. It was absolutely dark and although I could see lights on shore and a few lighted beacons it was very difficult to orientate. It did not seem that the anchor was dragging but the depth pointed at the dangerous proximity of coral heads. It started raining and the wind became stronger by the minute. I suddenly saw 3 meters on the depth gauge, started the engines and motored slowly in the direction I thought the anchor was at. The wind was now westerly at over 20 knots and I was pondering my options; staying at the helm for as long as this squall continues? Is it a squall or will it continue for a longer time? Go out to the open sea? Non of those was really alluring.

Being by myself on the boat made going forward to raise the anchor, with nobody to work the engines, out of the question. I decided to drag the anchor to even deeper waters and add the second anchor as additional weight and holding power. It’s an easy job when you do it in daylight and have time on your hands but now in the dark and the rain I had to act quickly. The secondary anchor, a CQR, had a few meters of chain connected to it with rusty shackles that I was not able to open, so using that chain I made a loop around the main anchor chain closed with a new shackle , tied a rope to the CQR and threw it into the water. Very quickly it became apparent that we were stationary at depths varying between 12 to 21 meters according to the place the ever changing wind turned us. The whole operation took one hour after which I remembered that the hatch in my cabin was open; of course the part below the hatch was completely wet. The squall abated slowly, I threw the food I did not eat overboard, had a coffee with a chocolate cookie to raise my blood sugar level and thought about the morrow. Taking up the double anchors, with the two chains entangled was going to be a hell of a job. Checking the wind instrument I saw that the highest value was 24.7 knots.

Normally I add pictures to my posts but understandingly not this time, sorry…

31.8.19 – Saturday – I spent the night on the dry part of my bed (why did I not go to one of the other cabins?) waking up frequently to check our position and the wind condition. In the morning, which was cloudy drizzly and grey, it took me 90 minutes of hard labor to raise the anchors and open up the entangled chains. I motored to Phaeton Bay and found a good anchoring place. On Tuesday I would leave Two Oceans and fly home. What about the future? The next post would deal with that.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | August 26, 2019

Sailing Tahiti and Moorea–part 2

17.8.19 – Saturday – I woke up early; the sea was absolutely calm, so before breakfast, I just drank a glass of water and went snorkeling. Here is the list of fish seen: trumpet fish, big stingray, 4 foot black tip shark, Picasso fish and finally, close to our anchor chain, a gurnard – that’s a fish with big wings, supposedly sensors for food location. If tomorrow will have the same conditions I’ll go down with the Gopro.

After the regular morning chores I lowered the dinghy and went to the village in the hope of finding WiFi and to do some shopping. WiFi nil, shopping excellent at the Champion supermarket, and back to the boat. Today’s project was cleaning the port aft cockpit locker and gas tanks compartment, which has not seen a scotchbrite and Cif cream for ages. I took everything in there out to dry and squeezed inside, a thing possible only to those with more than forty years of Yoga practice.

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The plan is to go over all the neglected lockers; there are four more on the list. Once finished all I wanted to do is jump into the water to cool down. Did it and once I opened my eyes I saw that a strong current was carrying me south. Powerful swimming brought me back home refreshed and invigorated.

I finished a book called “The red notebook” by a French author named Antoine Lorraine; it’s a romantic novel and I really enjoyed it. (Gili, can you believe it?). I am also reading a book, in French, by a man called Vito Dumas, an Argentinian, who sailed long distances in the last century thirties and forties. It is always amazing to read about voyages done without any of the modern conveniences we take for granted today. For dinner I treated myself with grilled entrecote, potatoes and green salad, washed down, as they say, with red Bordeaux.

18.8.19 – Sunday – Another beautiful morning, calm, clear water and light wind. A morning swim prior to breakfast started my day. Breakfast and then anchor up and I went out of the pass to go to Maharepa, a village on the north side of Moorea, one and half miles before Cook Bay. With time on my hands I played  with making a tack to clear the northeast corner of the island and then turned left to Irinuhu pass and Maharepa. Close to the beach there is an sandy area of about 5 meters depth. I dropped the anchor,releasing about 50 meters of chain because the forecast spoke about wind picking up later in the evening, with gusts up to 23 knots. I was surprised to see only one other yacht, a small one called Minimus, home port in Oregon. When I swam to check the anchor I continued over and tried to speak to a a man who was cleaning the hull. He made a sign as if he was hard of hearing or deaf so I turned away.

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                                  Maharepa in the evening light

I couldn’t see any dinghy dock so I postponed going ashore for tomorrow, probably in Cook Bay. I need internet!

As night fell the forecast became a reality plus. Wind of 25 with maximum gust of 29.7 knots disturbed my peace. I stayed in the cockpit for a while, watching the wind instrument and the plotter to see whether we were moving but the relative shallow waters and the amount of chain made sure we were keeping our position.

19.8.19 – Monday – With 1.5 miles to Cook Bay there was no need to open sails. Just before the pass the full beauty of Moorea came into view.

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I decided to go well into the head of the bay, thinking there would be less wind there and also to be close to the Pao Pao village services including fuel and INTERNET. I found out the the area I chose for anchoring was deep and that the bay was sucking in and accelerating the wind which reached 30 knots, causing my anchor to drag. I went out of there, made a round of possible other locations but everywhere I looked it was too deep for my taste. Pointed the bows out, turning to the area east of the pass behind the reef and dropped anchor at 2.5 meters on good sand behind two other boats. Out of the bay the wind was a steady 20 knots and the anchor held perfectly.

I lowered the dinghy and with laptop, smartphone and jerry-cans motored back into the bay. Near the Mobil fuel station there is a resort that once was called Bali-Hi and is now Aimeo Lodge; they have a small dinghy dock where a dinghy was tied to. I figured I could try and use their internet. My phone was happy with their signal but not my laptop and I needed to download weather and some important documents – especially the weekend crossword puzzles, not to mention publishing a post to my blog. A young man sitting there told me about a pizzeria called Allo Pizza 10-15 minutes walk away. They had good coffee and fast, excellent internet.

Next was the fuel station where they have pumps on a jetty; you fill your tanks yourself and go across the road to pay in the office. Motoring back to the boat was rather wet, with the dinghy bumping into the short waves. A bit later another catamaran which was anchored inside the bay, followed my example and came to anchor outside. I think it is a big old Lagoon model which looks much better than the boxes they are producing nowadays.

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Two more catamarans came in and in the evening the wind went down to 12 knots; everybody happy.

20.8.19 – Tuesday – It started cloudy with a bit of rain; not a pleasant way to start the day. I had my morning swim and then sat waiting for something that would push me into action. I needed change. When the catamaran ahead of me, who was just over my anchor, moved away, I spontaneously took my anchor up and turned towards Opunohu Bay. The most popular anchorage there is on the east side of the entrance, behind the reef and the place was quite full. I managed to find space on the stern of a small Wharram cat, which had the unusual arrangement of a mast on each hull, two abreast. I’m not sure about the advantages of it, especially on such a small boat.

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As noon came the weather improved. I still did not make up my mind about the plan for the coming days. I will, however, go back to the Taina marina area to speak to a marine electronics guy whom David recommended. The way my depth sensor is connected to the depth gauge, via a fish finder, with what I consider to be an unsuitable plug, is causing the instrument to give its info only when the batteries voltage is high. I want it to be rectified.

21.8.19 – Wednesday – Beautiful morning; no wind and boats are pointing to different directions.

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I wanted to go ashore and on the way stopped by the yacht on my right to ask about shore facilities. The man on her took of his hat and glasses – it was Laurent who worked on my boat in Phaeton Bay…I found a place for internet but they were not yet open and I did not fancy waiting two hours for it. I also found two ladies selling fruit and a small magasin by the public beach.

Back on the boat I aimed the binoculars at the western anchorage where I could see five catamarans. One of them seemed to be familiar. A couple named Ryan and Nicole Levinson came to French Polynesia from Mexico on a monohull. After seeing a fast catamaran pass them on their way they decided they wanted to buy one. Ryan found out about Two Oceans and we were in contact by e mail and phone. They ended up buying the same catamaran that impressed them on the passage, a 48 foot (!) one off boat. Ryan and Nicole run a Vlog called “Two Afloat” and you can watch their unfolding story on Youtube.

I decided to motor over and say hello.

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                            Kiapa Nui – Nicole and Ryan’s cat

As I was anchoring Ryan suggested that I was perhaps too close; I re-anchored further away in what seemed a good distance.  I invited the neighbors to come for a drink later in the evening but after accepting they suddenly remembered some painting job they had to do in the evening when the winds die down. We left it open.  After sunset Ryan called me on the VHF to tell me that our boats were attracted to each other and the distance became too close for comfort. I shortened my chain and maybe they did the same; separation achieved anew.

22.8.19 – Thursday – after a morning swim and SUP sortie, I was sitting in the salon, pondering my next steps. I needed internet and a proper shop and those were available in Cook Bay. On the other hand I still wanted to talk to Ryan and Nicole and was not sure whether we did plan on meeting later. My doubts were solved as Ryan called to say they were going out sailing, destination yet undecided (?). I bade them farewell and went back to Cook Bay, to my favorite 2.5 meters deep anchorage.

On the beach I saw an establishment that with the help of the binoculars and my telephoto long lens was identified as the Moorea Beach Café. Surely they would have internet and ice cream? MBC added the words “Yacht Club” on their signs and put a floating dock for us yachties. They have a nice Grill restaurant and an annex – pizzeria with moderate prices. From the Cafe I went to look for a rubbish bin I could use and found one right near the Maharepa super market, only three minutes walk from the MBC. There are also several other shops, like a phone place where I could recharge my local phone, black pearls shop and a Sotheby’s agency, in case you want to purchase a mansion or some land.

23.8.19 – Friday – Morning swim with a beautiful eagle ray. Yesterday as I came in I saw an Austrian monohull called “Imagine”; now my friends Moshe and Ilana have a yacht with the same name; I thought I’d take a picture and send them. As I got closer, the owner came out and after I explained my reason he invited me aboard. Wolfgang and Veronica surprised me with their sailing history; this is their fourth long voyage! If I understood correctly the first three were all circumnavigations!

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They said that this voyage would be their last; they also want to sell the boat here. I gave them David Allouch’s phone number.

24.8.19 – Saturday – A beautiful day with very light wind. This morning swim I saw a black-tip shark; the day’s sporting events included a 45 minutes fast walk and then to the boat for another locker cleaning. Tomorrow I’ll sail back to Tahiti.

25.8.19 – Sunday – If you want to make sure you will see something interesting during your morning swim – do NOT take your Gopro with you. This morning I had four meetings with black-tip sharks, I think they were three individual specimen, and although I am conditioned not to fear them, still the surprising appearance of a relatively big one behind a bommie did give me a jolt.

I went out of the pass a few minutes after a big motor yacht, following her I saw she stopped for a while and then continued. There where also two small motor boats which I took to be fishing boats. As I got closer to them a big splash made the picture clear; they were whale watchers! I immediately turned to their direction and was able to enjoy the show and even take a few pictures.

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                                              Humpback whales

In 2009 we also saw four of those magnificent creatures near Moorea.

After a while I left the scene and sailed towards the pass that would take me to the Taina marina area. As always the anchorages near the marina where completely full so I motored to Maeva bay, which is not far from the marina, is relatively shallow and had space for yet another catamaran. Tomorrow I plan to meet an electronics technician about my depth gauge and on Tuesday start going round the east side of Tahiti on the way to Phaeton Bay and the end of the French Polynesia chapter.

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