Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Enroute to the Tuamotus

Hello to all,

Today was one the most beautiful days at sea I've ever experienced. It was light air, never more than ten knots, but the direction was good, a close reach, with a very gentle following swell of one to two feet. There were scattered tropical fair weather cumulus and the ocean is a deepest, clearest sapphire blue. It's after midnight and conditions are still wonderful. The boat is moving at four knots with six knots of breeze on a close reach. There's about a three quarter moon and we've got twenty three miles to go to the pass entering Fakarava. At this rate we'll heave to for a couple hours to wait for the slack tide which is supposed to be at 0717. Tidal calculations around here are notoriously inaccurate. So it's been a beautiful day if a little slow. Still we covered over one hundred miles and this passage will be a little faster than planned due to the very good first three days. If every day at sea were like today there would be a lot more people out here.

This is a very isolated area. Fakarava is the second largest atoll in the Tuamotus but still has only seven hundred people on an island more than thirty miles long and fifteen miles wide. Of course most of that is interior lagoon with very low lying land islands (motos) only on three sides. The rest is coral reef. We have three large atolls within 25 miles right now and there is not a light in sight. You'd think we were in the middle of a long passage. This is called the 'dangerous archipelago' and used to be avoided because the hazards could not be seen until a vessel was to close. Now with radar and GPS it's an area regularly visited but we're still being very careful. I won't be entering the very tidal pass until the tide is right in daylight. to be continued....

1425 the 15th.

We hove to as planned and got a couple hours sleep before entering the pass without incident, perfectly timed just as the tide books predicted, which bodes well for other island entrances in the area. This is a lovely quiet anchorage with a few other boats. There is a dive operation and the first thing we did was run into them and make arrangements to drift dive the passes tomorrow. We went for a walk in 'town' and got oriented. We'll spend a couple days anchored here before moving off into, hopefully, uninhabited areas of this atoll. We're going to do a little dive off the boat for practice this afternoon.

Love to all,
Bill, Janet and Kens

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Leaving the Marquesas

Hello to all,

We're enroute from Nuku Hiva to an island in the Tuamotus called Fakarava. Supposed to be great diving. We left Bill Huber to catch his plane home. He'll probably be in the US by the time you read this. Bill was a great shipmate and we'll miss him.

I really loved the Marquesas and was very sad to leave. I'd like to come back someday, maybe as a rich tourist. If you want a great place to visit, go now, it's going to change fast. The Tuamotus are totally different from the Marquesas. They're true atolls. Very low lying beachy places with large internal lagoons and, as I said, great diving. They're very thinly populated. Farakava, where we plan to go first, does have a village and even air service to Papeete. Toau, where we'll go next unless plans change, has about forty people part of the year.

We're having great trade wind sailing. Winds are out of the east at 15-20 knots. It's about 85 degrees with fair weather cumulous and an easterly swell of about five feet. We've got a reef in the main, the genoa partially furled and the stay'sl set. The Hydrovane (wind self steering device) is steering and we barely ever touch it, works great. We're doing hull speed easily (7.5 knots). If this keeps up we'll have to wait around for the tide to change to get through the reef pass into Fakarava!

To those NWA guys who have inquired about HF frequencies, the Pacific Seafarers HAM net is on 14300MHZ at 0300Z for the warm up and offically begins at 0330Z. This is a HAM net but you can listen in and a quick call from an aircraft would not be too much trouble. By 0400Z we should be on 6227MHZ which is the coconut milk run SSB net and calls would belcomed on that net from aircraft I believe.

Thanks to all the folks kind enough to send us emails!

All the best,
Bill, Janet and Ken

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In Nuku Hiva

I'm sitting on the concrete wharf in Nuku Hiva. The local 'yacht service' has set up wifi. But it's the slowest wifi....

It's a cool and sweet morning and we just did the market which starts at 0530 and is over by 0700. In the Marquesas things happen early or late. It's more comfortable that way. we had heard some negative vibs about Nuku Hiva, it being the metropolis of the Marquesas, 1800 people after all, but it is a lovely place with a nice anchorage. There are about 50 boats here from all over the world including a Swan 100' and what is probably a 250' three masted schooner out of Southhampton. There's a very friendly cruising community and we had dinner with folks from several other boats last night. This is where Herman Melville jumped ship off a whaler in 1842 and ended up with the 'dread' Typee for several months. Of course the Typee treated him very, very well and he had a great time. For some reason he was desperate to go home but it was probably the best time he ever had...read 'Typee' for a very interesting account of the Marquesas and just a general good read.

Bill Huber will leave us to head home tomorrow. We're going out to a nice place for a little dinner tonight. There are few places to eat and Air tahiti owns a small resort here which is supposed to have a very good restaurant. Probably the 12th we'll leave the Marquesas (it hurts just write that) and head for the Tuamotus and the island of Fakarava for a landfall. Should be a four day passage.

I'm still working on getting the onboard email up to speed but things are improving.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet, Ken and Bill H.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lovely Ua Pou

Hello to all,

Still having problems with email speed but hopefully this will get sent soon. We're at Hakamaii Bay on the southwest side of the island of Ua Pou,pronouced WAPOO, we're told. The approaches to this island are the most spectacular I've ever seen. It's only a few miles in extent but it rises to 4000' and is doesn't just rise, it shoots aloft in volcanic spires. The surrounding terrain is mountainous and covered with vegetation but these vertical rocks spires, we assume, are volcanic plugs and I don't say 'old volcanic plugs' because on a geological scale these appear to have happened yesterday. They are sharply pointed symetrical shear rock spires from, in some cases, the sea surface, to up to four thousand feet. Yesterday on the approach we sailed within a few hundred yards of a rock spire which came directly out of the sea to 800-1000'.

To give you an idea of the isolation of the Marquesas, the third largest town in the whole group is found on Ua Pou and that's a thousand people. The largest is Nuka Hiva at 1800, and we'll be there in a few days. There are about 6000 folks in the entire island group. This village we're anchored off is much smaller but we'll go ashore today and see what's happening and maybe get some fruit. We did get skunked fishing yesterday after fishing the entire 60 mile sail with all rods out. We started out strong fishing but haven't had much luck lately.

More later!

Bill Huber and I swam ashore at Hahamaii, it was to rough to bring the dingy in, and found a very nice and prosperous small village. Clean well constructed homes and a lovely church. Had a nice conversation with the local school teacher, mostly in English, and a nice visit in general. We headed back to the boat and moved up the coat a few miles to a lovely anchorage called Hakaotu. All to ourselves, but a Swiss semi-hermit lives in the grove just off the beach. He's spent a few months a year there for the last fourteen years. We're waiting for a great sunset. Tomorrow we'll probably move over to the larger village and get a few provisions, then head for Nuka Hiva.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet, Bill Huber and Ken Stiver