Posted by: catamarantwooceans | June 4, 2017

In the Marquesas

24.5.17 – Wednesday – Once we thought we were securely anchored we took the dinghy ashore. People were greeting us warmly, many wanted to know whether we wanted fruit. A family in one of the houses succeeded in luring us into their yard and showed us the stuff they had. It turned out they were not interested in money but rather barter the goods for things we might have on the boat. We ended up giving them a fender and a fishing lure for some pamplemouse, bananas, a kind of local apple and some limes.

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Zulu was looking to buy a wood carving in fish shape; none of the few carvers we met was ready to supply one in a reasonable time frame and price but then we met Jacques the carver, who promised to have one ready by midday Friday for 4000 francs (about 40 U.S$) . We also bought some papayas from him.

25.5.17 – Thursday – In the morning we went ashore with the intention of trekking to the local famous waterfall. We met some men on the way to ask about the location of the trail to it. They pointed out to the cloudy sky and said that it was going to rain and that the way to the “cascade” would be slippery with possible mud and rock slides making it dangerous. Another option was going up a mountain to a point overlooking the bay. Zulu, who did that seven years ago, decided to pass. Danny and I started walking on the paved road, which was very steep indeed. The views were a great compensation for our effort.

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It took us about an hour and a half to get to the target, where an abandoned yellow tractor marked its location.

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The view from that point was marvelous, if you zoom in you can see Two Oceans on the lower right.

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                                                 (last 3 pics by Danny)

On the way back we met a family, parents, four kids and a crewman, who came the night before. Having seen our U.S flag they thought we were American; when we told them we were from Israel they told us that the people on the catamaran right behind us were also Israelis. That was a surprise! We dinghied over and met Michal, Laurent, their two lovely daughters and a friend. It turned out they heard about Two Oceans from Arturo Romero, the Marine Warehouse rep in Panama City.

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                                      S/V Maia – a Lavezzi 40

In the late afternoon the sky darkened. Rain started falling and strong gusts, one over 30 knots, hit the bay. I felt secure having our two anchors and 40 meters of chain and when I looked around the change in our situation took a long time to register. Laurent came by with his dinghy to see whether we needed help; we were dragging our anchors! The crew jumped into action, we took the anchors up and motored closer to shore, to anchor at 6.5 meters, putting out 50 meters of chain.

The wind continued gusting but our boat held position firmly; still we decided to keep an anchor watch during the night. Just before midnight a yacht came in and anchored to our port a bit forward and too close for comfort.

26.5.17 – Friday – I woke up at 0215 and heard from Danny about our new neighbor. I wanted to cancel the anchor watches as the wind abated considerably, but the proximity of that yacht was disquieting so I decided to continue, taking on the watch from 0245 until morning. I used the time to repair one of the safety webbings which was chafed by the anchor chain during one of our anchoring maneuvers.

After breakfast we went ashore with the firm decision to do the waterfall trek. We had to wait under a copra shed to wait out a shower and then went on, through a muddy trail, crossing the river jumping between boulders. The trail became narrower, passing inside rain forest, mounds of stones placed on the side of the trial confirmed that we were on the right track.

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We kept on walking and after about 40 minutes arrived at the fall. It was so high I couldn’t get it all into a frame of 24mm lens.

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The water fall into a large and deep pool and we entered it for a refreshing dip.

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The way back was slightly easier; the whole trek took about three hours and was worth every minute. Tomorrow we will sail 45 miles to Hiva Oa, which would be the last point in this voyage.

27.5.17 – Saturday – Out of Fatu Hiva at 0610, we motored to get out of the island influence and found wind from the south east. Going with just the main and storm jib was not very fast and Zulu argued that if we opened the damaged jib we could get more speed. We did it and sailed wing and wing with a sorry looking jib on the pole. As we passed the island of Motane, grey rain clouds came threatening from our starboard. The wind was not strong but bit changed direction until we were close-hauled. At 6 miles to Hiva Oa we furled the jib, dropped down the storm jib and motored into the bay.

A lot of yachts were anchored outside since a sort of children’s pirogue race was on and part of the bay was closed; we, however, succeeded in sneaking in and finding a free space, anchoring fore and aft to keep the boat facing the swell, as is the norm in this bay. As we came in I saw the location of the haul-out facility where I was going to leave the boat for two months and do the needed repairs and when we were securely anchored I took the dinghy over there. I was lucky that Vincent, the owner of the place, just arrived and I could sit with him and have a few of my questions answered.

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Vincent said he would only be able to take the boat out on Wednesday. He will then diagnose the engine malfunction and we will make a plan for its repair. Only then I would be able to make my travel plan and go home.

One of the yachts anchoring outside was one that Zulu and I knew; it was Jipcho, belonging to David Warshawsky, nicknamed Dubi, whom we both met in Richard Bay, South Africa. When the race ended there was a stampede of yachts trying to find a place inside. Zulu went over to help Dubi anchor inside and later the guy came over for a drink, chat and dinner. 

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               Dubi Warshawsky

28.5.17 – Sunday – We rented a 4×4 Suzuki Jimmy and drove to the eastern part of the island. The views were beautiful; a big section of the road was not paved but the small car overcame the difficulty. There were guava trees on the side of the road and we picked and ate a lot of the yellow fruit. We reached Puamau where a Marai with some impressive tikis was located.

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The whole tour took about six hours

29.5.17 – Monday – Today Zulu left to go home. Zulu contributed a lot to the operation of the boat; his knowledge in all things nautical was invaluable, not to forget his cooking style! For Danny and me it was a day of rest; we were waiting for Wednesday and the haul-out.

30.5.17 – Tuesday – We went to Atuona and visited the cemetery, where Jacques  Brel and Gauguin are buried and the Paul Gauguin museum. Although all the paintings there are copies, it was still very colorful and impressive. Back to the boat it took 40 minutes of marching in the hot and humid midday to reach the bay. In the evening we invited Dubi for dinner and as usual we went to bed early.

31.5.17 – Wednesday – The big day has come. At 0900 we motored towards the boatyard; the tractor and trailer were in position, we advanced slowly to place the latter between the hulls and in a short while we were hauled out.

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Danny is flying home tomorrow; I will follow in a few days. Two Oceans will stay on the hard for a little over two months. During that time the starboard engine should be repaired as well its alternator, a new jib will be ordered and antifouling will be painted. I hope to come back in the middle of August to supervise the work and make sure the boat is in good condition to continue sailing French Polynesia.

Until then – Adios from Hiva Oa!

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 29, 2017

Sailing from Gambier to the Marquesas

18.5.17 – Thursday – The plan was to leave at 0900, when the sun would be high enough to read the bottom. As we sat waiting for the time to go, the sound of the starboard shower discharge pump was heard. Zulu and Danny, the residents of that hull are accustomed to that phenomenon, because when sailing they keep the head ventilation port open and some water come in at times. But we were stationary so I went to investigate; the bilge was full of water. At the same time Zulu exclaimed that no water came out of the galley tap. We shut down the water pump and looking at the water system components under Zulu’s bunk, found a disconnected pipe. Adding another band to the connection fixed it and luckily we did not lose a lot of water.

Out of the anchorage, this time using the coordinates Pitufa published on their website, we opened full sail and sailed close-hauled towards the exit. The apparent wind was 20 knots and after a few minutes we saw that the jib repair was falling apart. We furled it and lowered the main; I started to return to Rikitea but Zulu had a better idea and suggested we anchor at the lee of the island right where we were at the time. We pondered our options and decided to cut out the weak part of the sail and replace it with some sail cloth that I had on board, strengthening it with webbings. If that repair would not hold we’ll have to use the storm jib as a substitute. The work took from 0930 to 1645 and everybody took part.

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At 1700 we started motoring out with mainsail up and furled jib as there was very light wind on the nose. We continued motoring into the night waiting for the promised easterlies and the test of our repair.

19.5.17 – Friday – At 0230 Danny woke me up. “the wind has come”. It blew 15 knots from the east. Together we unfurled the jib,shut  the engine down and started pure sailing. Clipping my harness to the safety webbing, I went to the front deck to check the jib; it seemed to be all right.

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Not very elegant but it does the job. Note the short webbings; there is also one in the middle on the other side of the sail.

The day continued with the trade-winds blowing 15-18 knots, giving us good boat speed. Worrying about the integrity of the jib, Zulu suggested we use it in first reef, to lessen the strain on it. I wholeheartedly agreed. We passed to the west of Marutea, an atoll belonging to the Tuamotus. With no information about it we were surprised to notice that there was cellular reception, so surely there is a village there. At 1700 we saw we sailed 139 miles in the last 24 hours. After the sun set, the wind started gusting to over 20 knots; we put the main in first reef too, the idea was to have a smooth run, so that we could sleep comfortably during the night.

Twenty minutes to midnight the autopilot disengaged, the boat turned into the wind and the jib started flapping. Although I was quick to turn the boat back on track I saw that another tear appeared just in front of the repair we did. Of course I had no choice but to furl the sail completely and continue under main alone. Tomorrow we’ll put up the storm jib as a replacement.

20.5.17 – Saturday – At 0800 the crew assembled in the cockpit to put the storm jib in place. This sail has never been used in real storm or any other conditions. To the best of my recollections it was only raised once, eight years ago, before my first Pacific crossing, just to check its operation. It is attached to a stay with a sleeve that is closed by hanks; those were now completely seized and instead we used lengths of line to tie it.

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Although very small it added sail area and also contributed to balancing the helm.

The weather was tricky, a line of clouds brought the wind forward and we had to sail 50 degrees to the apparent wind. Around noon its velocity fell below 10 and the engine was used for propulsion and battery charging. That line passed to our stern at 1600 and the wind stabilized, becoming easterly 15-17, letting us sail directly to Fatu Hiva. At 1700 l.t we checked our progress and found out we did 145 miles in the last 24 hours in spite of the reduced sail area. From 1800 to 1930 we were in the vicinity of an island called Reao, which has a cellular system; we used the opportunity to call home,where the local time is 12 hours ahead.

We were still thinking about our jib situation. Zulu expressed the wish of maybe using a bit of jib in spite of the damage to it, saying that the tear would be contained by the Sunbrella U.V cloth. It occurred to me that we might try and repair it, not with the sail repair tape, which was difficult to use and was quite flimsy but with a good quantity of duct tape. I actually saw the tear only at night and we decided to wait until morning to open the jib and take a closer look.

21.5.17 – Sunday – In the morning, with the wind around 12 knots, we opened the jib. The duct tape idea was made a reality, with Zulu, the tallest man on board, applying it to the sail and me giving him the required lengths of tape.

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                                  pic. by Danny

We operated the sail gingerly, furling it when the wind speed increased. In the afternoon, when the crew had their beauty sleep, I figured out I could beef the tape some more. I moved the jib traveller forward and took in the sheet, thus lowering the damaged area and making it easier to work on. During the day the wind became calmer and veered aft. 24 hours mileage was 135.

22.5.17 – Monday – Morning brought a squall line with a bit of rain and stronger winds. fear for the integrity of the jib made us reef it and when a big grey cloud came up from the north-east the main was also reefed. we had a good one hour of speeds up to ten knots after which the sky cleared and the wind went back to 10-12 knots giving the unsatisfactory boat speed of between 4 and 5.  In the afternoon the wind decreased below 10 and we tried hoisting the spinnaker; that was not successful because the boat was accelerating and decelerating on the swells and the light sail didn’t like it and collapsed in protest.

I was on the vigil near the fishing rod when a fish was on, not hearing the reel’s noise as the fish pulled the line out. Luckily Zulu, the only perfect ears on board, alerted me and we brought a medium size black skipjack tuna into the cockpit. Lamb back into the freezer and we planned on sashimi and seared tuna for dinner. At 1700 our position showed we only passed 123 miles in he last 24 hours. The forecast promises 10 knots wind for the next two days; disgusting! I did the nine to midnight watch and was happy when the wind went up to 13 – 15 knots; we were moving!

23.5.1 – Tuesday – Good sailing conditions stayed with us all day long. At 1700 we were closer to our destination by 141 miles.

24.5.17 – Wednesday – At 0245 we were hit by a squall with the wind reaching 29 knots. I decided to reef the main, our damaged jib was already reefed. Zulu was awake and joined me for the maneuver, during which the jib sheet was released by mistake, the sail flapping violently. We returned everything back to normal and continued sailing. Later in the morning I discovered that the jib was again torn big time.

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I rolled it completely understanding that its life was at an end, impossible to repair; I’ll have to order a new one. This jib took me, for the last six years, from Thailand, across the Indian and the South Atlantic oceans and a lot of mileage in the Caribbean; Six years of hard sailing now came to an end.

When I woke up from my after watch rest period we were 18 miles from the Bay of Virgins, our destination and 12 miles from Fatu Hiva itself. The island was visible, shrouded by clouds. As we came closer one of those came over us with heavy rain and wind. Coming closer the yachts in the bay were revealed one by one, two catamarans and three monohulls. We found a spot and dropped two anchors in tandem. The view seen in this bay is fantastic, my photos can only give an idea but not fully capture the magnificence of the place.

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The bay is notorious for the katabatic winds blowing into it from the mountain; as we were having lunch one such gust took us so far back, dragging or just pulling at the chain, that we came too close to the catamaran behind us. We relocated to another corner of the bay and dropped the anchors at a point 8 meters deep. 32 knots gust tested our holding; we could now go ashore without fear.

To be continued!

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | May 25, 2017

In the Gambier Archipelago

13.5.17 – Saturday –

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                                        Morning in Rikitea

The day was dedicated to getting to know the town. Following the information I found on the web at the research phase, we went to look for a German guy named Fritz, a former soldier in the Foreign Legion, who made Mangareva his home about forty years ago. His place is a sort of Yachties’ club, one can do laundry and take water from his shower tap.

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On the way we passed the bakery and Jo Jo place, which is a restaurant, a grocery store and a provider of free internet for those who eat there. We found out that we could get diesel fuel from them too; the price of diesel is 200 francs, two U.S dollars,  a liter. When the supply ship comes, one could fill up with them, minimum quantity is 200 liters at 120 francs. In the afternoon our next anchor neighbor, a Belgian single-hander named Rick, came over for a beer. He came here seven weeks ago so there was a lot we could learn from him about the area. Sometime in the evening Pakia Tea came in. We found out that they decided to stop at the island of Oeno, about 230 miles east of Mangareva, to wait for better winds. The day was concluded by a surprisingly good dinner at Jo Jo’s. Another nice meeting was with a couple living on a yacht named Pitufa; Birgit and Christian have a very good blog with a lot of information about French Polynesia.

14.5.17 – Sunday – At 0400 I woke up to the noise of the rain and the feeling of being wet in a place I wanted to be dry at. Closed the hatch and found a dry area where I could go on sleeping. It was raining real hard and I was hoping that the rain catchment will not collapse and get us some heavenly water. Plans for a hike to the top of Duff mountain were shelved for the time; we’ll wait for a dry day. We were debating whether to go to Fritz and do the laundry as he does not have a drying machine and we would have to hang our washing on the boat. Danny and Zulu went there and came back with a load that was wet but did not look very clean. We hanged it to dry, hoping that there would be no serious rain. What can you do when it’s raining? zulu and Danny discovered that they could receive the Jo Jo’s WiFi on the boat and were glued to the phones facing JoJo’s Mecca.

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I gave the guys an introduction to SUP paddling and after lunch all of us went for a nap; Zulu and Danny excelled in that task and appeared in the salon only after 6 p.m.

15.5,17 – Monday – An important day – the post office is open and we would be able to change money and be free to shop; the shops take credit cards only for sums over 2000 or 3000 XPF, the Polynesian Franc, so if all you want is a baguette you are under the limit. We entered the post office; a smiling clerk told us that they no longer changed money; he sent us to the nearby grocery store, where – not before getting permission from a higher authority – the girl behind the counter changed American dollars and Euros. With the money in our hands we went to the bakery slash grocery store and did some shopping. They did not have fresh baguettes, only frozen ones so we decided to pass.

After lunch we dealt with the damage to our sails. We took the jib down and Zulu sewed and strengthened the area of the tear. Danny and I reconnected the upper batten sleeve which had separated from the sail by inserting two 4mm bolts that should hold them together.

16.5.17 – Tuesday – It did not rain at night so we went out to conquer Mount Duff, which is 1447 feet high. We started on the main road leading to the northern part of the island, went over the ridge and found the sign for the trail to both peaks – Duff and Mokoto. At first the trail passed through rain forest trees and as we got higher it changed to pine.

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The climb was not easy, especially because the earth was still wet and it was difficult getting our shoes (sandals in the case of Zulu) a good grip. We were wise enough to cut some branches to serve as walking sticks which helped a lot during the climb.

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The top of Mount Duff is what I call “the blade”, very narrow trail with steep precipices on both sides.

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                            Sitting on the Blade (pic by Zulu)

The views were incredible.

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              Looking north, Mokoto peak at the center (pic by Danny)

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                        Looking east to anchorage and town

Going down was not less arduous than climbing, sometimes we had to slide on our behinds in order not to fall. In some places ropes were tied to trees to help the passing of steep sectors. Just a short distance from the end of the trail we found a grove of Pamplemousse, those excellent Polynesian grapefruit, sat down on the ground and had a citrus feast.

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Once “down to earth” we all felt quite tired, had lunch at Jo Jo’s and back to the boat to wash and rest. It was a very satisfying trek and I was already calculating how and when I would be able to bring Gili here. 

17.5.17 – Wednesday – Last preparations before departure to the Marquesas; some shopping and toping up fuel and water. The dinghy started taking water and when we lifted it up to its pace the hole was found and immediately treated with 5200 silicon adhesive. In the afternoon we relocated to the Taravai anchorage, which is closer to the northern exit from Gambier. This was not without some stress because we followed the Navionics charts and crossed some 2 meters deep areas. How did all the monohulls in the anchorage get here? I took the SUP and paddled to investigate the area I saw yesterday from the mountain. Sure enough there was a deeper and simpler way to go and later in the evening “Pitufa” came in, demonstrating the right way to go.

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Tomorrow we’ll leave for Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas, 788 miles away; the trip will probably take 6 – 7 days and hopefully this post would be published from there.

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