Posted by: catamarantwooceans | June 16, 2009

Still There

10.06.09 – Wednesday – Morning started replacing the belt on the port engine then breakfast and off to shore. First thing was going to the bank to change some money. Ahead of us in the line were four people and there were two tellers. Not so bad, I thought, but the clients being served just stayed there, and stayed and stayed… The local people sat there chatting, not at all perturbed by the long wait. Miki succeeded maintaining patience for 20 minutes after which dispair and nerves raised their ugly head. It took an hour to get to a teller and then the transaction screeched to a halt when the lady did not find Israel in her computer. Luckily Joel uses his American passport and we could take the money and run.

 We then went shopping for food, which is a pleasure in the French islands due to the availability of good, although very expensive products. We also went looking for a computer speciallist we were told about but his shop was closed. On the way back we happened to meet a bearded yachtsman who was very enthusiastic about the encounter with Israeli sailors. Later in the early evening, while I was relaxing in my room, I heard Joel speaking to someone. Came out to see Sylvan, that’s the bearded guys name, in the cockpit with Joel. He brought some beers (3-4$ each here) and wanted to hear about Israel. After asking him a few questions it became apparent that he is the owner of “Inherit the Wind” the yacht that almost sank on the way to the Marquesas. So, instead of speaking about Israel, we listened to this boat’s tale straight from the horse’s mouth.

Sylvan is a Canadian from Quebeq, a lumber expert by profession. After a divorce he worked here and there, from California to Central America, living on boats, first on a 30 foot Tartan and then on the 40 foot, 1962, wooden ketch “Inherit the Wind”.

Inherit the wind

Inherit the wind

He embarked on the trip to Polynesia out of Puntarenas, Costa Rica with a young, inexperienced, Irish lad whom he met three hours (or was it three days?) before departure. After a fortnight they discovered a leak from the keel area. Sylvan tried to stop the leak with rags and some other materials he had on board but was not successful. At the same time the engine stopped and they could not start it, thus losing electrical power. They had to resort to hand pumping. The leak was so severe that they had to pump two minutes every ten minutes to control the level of water inside the boat. Sylvan feared for the structural integrity of the boat so he sailed slowly not to stress her.

 This went on for SEVEN WEEKS during which the cooking gas depleted and the food situation became desperate! At one point he had enough electrical power, maybe by solar panels, and used it to ask a cruiser’s net to call his daughters in Canada and advise them about his delayed arrival. Somebody in the net alerted the Canadian Coast Guard and perhaps other SAR (search and rescue) agencies and a cargo ship was diverted to help him. As he tells it when the 250 meters ship arrived and towered above him, he could do nothing to maneuver close to her. The ship lowered two containers with provisions, they were able to retrieve one with some food and cooking gas, but lost the other. somehow the option of evacuation was not mentioned. The ship left them and it took another week to get to Hiva Oa, 62 days total time at sea.

In Atuona the young man left to go on sailing with “Ishka” the Australian catamaran. Sylvan, now at anchor, went diving by hookah to try and seal the hull from the outside. With the help of a Yachtie who had welding equipment, he repaired the engine, strightening a bent piston rod by heating and hammering it. He now had a working engine, electrical power and electrical bilge pump. Plans for the future? He wants to get to New Zealand and take the boat out for a permanent repair. Why not in French Polynesia? Because he had to pay the notorious “Bond” assuring his ability to leave by air to his country of residence to the tune of 1500$, leaving him practically with empty pockets. Sylvan is a driven man, and while I personaly think he is taking unnecessary risks, I feel sympathy for him.

Sylvan

Sylvan

After he left, we decided to give him some provisions.

In the evening I tried to work on the computer and my fears were realised. A virus, actually a whole bunch of them, rendered the lap-top useless. You don’t appreciate how dependant you are on the computer until you lose it; Electronic charts, tide tables for all the world – especially important in the Tuamotus, not to mention the writing of the blog, storing and editing pictures, watching movies, internet – a long list!

11.06.09 – Thusday – After leaving a parcel at “Inherit the wind” we filled up with fuel at the big ship dock and then motored, for there was no wind to speak of, to Baie du Controleur about 5 miles to the east. We went ashore looking for the way to a site of stone Tikis the guide book mentioned. The  village locals gave us directions that were not very clear, stressing the fact that it was far. 2-3 km away. I was determined to get there and after climbing a serpentine track on the mountain we reached the place. Not big, wild vegetation covering most of it, but still – when you think of the origins of the structures, they are impressive.

Tiki site

Tiki site

A Tiki

A Tiki

 We then moved for the night to the east cove of the bay. We were the only yacht there until a Catana catamaran named “La Graziosa” came and anchored not very close. Normally yachties wave to each other, comunicating in this way or another. The guys on the Catana seemed determined not to make any contact, even passing with the dinghy on the side of our bows while we were sitting in the cockpit. We, of course, did not care.
12.06.09 – Friday – Back to Taiohae and straight to the computer shop. I breathed with relief finding the man in there. Klaus listened to my description of the malfunction, I left the lap-top with him and was told to come back at 1600. At that time he was still working on it and asked me to come back at 1830. He got rid of the viruses but still thought that we should reinstall windows and put in an up to date anti-virus. The thing was, he could only do it on Monday. Decision: we stay in Nuku Hiva until Klaus fixes the computer.

13.06.09 – Saturday – Yesterday I complained to a greengrocer in the small market near the dock about the absence of tomatoes from all shops. “Come tomorrow at 0500 – there will be tomatoes”.

This morning I trained my binoculars on the dock at 0600 and saw a lot of activity. I jumped into the dinghy and raced there. An open market was in full swing! Fishermen were displaying huge groupers and other fish, people were having breakfast of various strage sea-food that i did not recognize.

Big grouper

Big grouper

I came up to the greengrocer asking for tomatoes. “All finished, you should have come at 0400…” I still found some fruit including breadfruit that I wanted to try for a long time. Back to the boat I found Joel awake and took him to enjoy the spectacle.

We then sailed to Taioa bay, 5 miles to the west of Taiohae (different names completely) were we knew there was a beautiful hiking trail to a waterfall. We found a lot of boats that we knew at anchor there and approached “Suwarov Blues” to ask about the trail. The grownups were away but Ester gave us the general direction. We started on the trail and then met the parents.

Jan and Witzke

Jan and Witzke

Good thing that we did becase they briefed us on the way to the waterfall, giving us some important information about the stones coloumns marking the trail and the fact that one needed to cross a river a few times. Witzke said that the hike will take a little over two hours each way! Good thing that she did because we would have probably turn back after walking an hour and getting nowhere!

The way to the fall was great, though challenging, most of it in the jungle. On the way we saw quite a few old sites and Tikis.

Another Tiki

Another Tiki

At one point, as we were standing in the shade, a juvenile boar came ambling in our direction, seemingly occupied with deep thought and not noticing the human presence. When about 10 meters away he woke up from his reveries and darted away in fright.

Some river crossings were quite deep in strong current.

Crossing

Crossing

We met a lot of yachties who were on the way back and had the satisfaction of saying: “You are almost there”. Reaching the fall area, high cliffs with serrated, knife-like edges towered above us.

On the way to the fall

On the way to the fall

We changed into bathing suits and entered the cool pools leading to the fall, which, probably due to the season was not in full flow but still impressive. It  was interesting to see shrimps in the pool and also an orange coloured langoustine.

Pool and hiding fall

Pool and hiding fall

The way back was easier and we reached our starting point at 1545, tired and hungry… Great hike!

14.06.09  Sunday.  Back to Taioahe, waiting to fix the computer Monday. In the meantime we used it to see a movie and surf the net. Worked fine.

15.06.09 Monday. We came to Klause`s shop. He said he just realised that his CD for windows is in French and will not be of help to us. He did want to see how it worked but could not start it!  So now the computer is with him for further checks. Anyway, we are leaving tomorrow for the Tuamotus. There will be no internet for a while and no updates.  Thanks for all the comments received and all the best wishes. 

SEE YOU SOON,

MIKI and JOEL

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