Kitesurfing in Bora

I learned to kitesurf in the most spectacular setting imaginable!  I was riding the board on the second lesson, thanks in large part to the skills of my instructor Alban.  I am officially hooked and can’t wait to get my hands on my own gear.  Check out the pics Alyssa took!  She said it looked like so much fun that she wants to learn as well!

Other than kitesurfing we have been hanging out with our friend Werner of PRINCESS DEL MAR.  We met him way back in Catalina Island and have kept in touch.  Our friends on SKABENGA are headed over tomorrow so a party will most likely ensue.

Looks like we will head to the west side of the island next week and then watch the weather forecast for a good day to enter Maupiti, a 30 nm sail west.  Once we reach Maupiti we plan to hide out there for a few more weeks before heading to Mopelia.   It’s great to not feel so rushed anymore.  I guess that’s the beauty of not having a definitive cruising plan!

Getting ready to ride:

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Launching the kite:
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Alban (instructor) heading out to the starting point:IMG_0128 First ride on the board!  There was a LOT of faceplants before this shot:IMG_0146 IMG_0147 IMG_0157 Oh ya, I got this!  Check out that barrel wave in the background!IMG_0160 Look WAAAAY in the distance and you can see me.  Alban had to fire up the boat to come get me.  So hooked!!IMG_0163

Here are some pics of the past few days:

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The Good Life on a Motu in the Bora Lagoon

We had to share some more pictures.  The beauty of this island is overwhelming.  We have been anchored off a small motu in the SE corner of Bora Bora for the past few days and we are planning to stay a while longer.  

We made friends with the family who owns the motu and today we shared lunch together on their island.  Tiffa and Lucy are extremely fun and friendly.  They live a simple and almost self-sufficient lifestyle.  They have solar panels for electricity, rain catchment systems for water, coconut palms for a variety of edible, medicinal and practical needs, 40 free range chickens for eggs and plenty of fish from the lagoon.  Tiffa collects dried palm thatch to repair the roofs of the over water bungalows and Lucy makes shell necklaces to sell to the tourists.  With that income they can buy rice, baguettes and other supplies from town.  It’s a great life and the definition of laid back island living.

We plan to hang out with them again tomorrow and go kayaking and snorkeling.  Lucy is excited to try our pedal-powered kayak.  Everywhere we go the locals get a kick out of it.

Here is a pic of Alyssa at the hotel where we land the dinghy to go ashore for fresh baguettes and expensive pizza.  Terrible place isn’t it?

DSCF3024 And another of her on the beach at Tiffa and Lucy’s island.  Ellie in background.

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Devouring a drinking coconut in the cockpit:IMG_0106

The beautiful Princess enjoying life in beautiful Bora Bora (btw – She has informed me that she never wants to leave)DSCF3055 DSCF3059

Livin’ it up in Bora Bora and the Monster Fish

We are loving it here!  We have been kayaking, sailing, diving, swimming, flying kites and just hanging out.  The scenery is breathtaking, the water is warm, clear and gorgeous and the soft sand we are anchored in is like a powder.  

Today we moved across the lagoon and anchored off the Sofitel Private Island Resort.  We set the anchor in sand on the edge of the shelf and dropped back into 10 feet of turquoise water.  The bungalows are literally a hundred yards away.  I can only imagine what the guests are paying for the same view as us!

We are having a blast here and we have no plans to leave in the next week or so.  I scheduled my first kitesurfing lessons for Monday.  Watching the kiteboarders flying across the bright turquoise lagoon  made the decision to take lessons very easy!  We’ll keep ya posted on the progress.

Yesterday Alyssa was cutting her nails over the side and she yelled to me that there was a huge fish under the boat.  I came up and looked over the side.  There was a huge Jack hiding in the shade under Ellie.  We are out of canned tuna and I couldn’t help myself so I went below and grabbed my spear gun.  I loaded it and waited for the monster to show himself.  Sure enough he did and I nailed him in the head.  We hauled him up and bled him out over the side.  Once we had the fish it was then time to positively identify it and try to figure out if there is Ciguatera poisoning in Bora Bora or not.  Ciguatera is a terrible toxin that is present in some reef-associated fish.  It accumulates in predatory fish (like Jacks) so it’s imperative that we verify the reef fish don’t have ciguatera here before we eat it.  We saw some locals out on the reef so we hauled our catch behind the dinghy and made our way over to them to ask.  They weren’t able to speak English but the take away was that it was a delicious fish and safe to eat.  We were satisfied and returned to Ellie to fillet it up.  Once back at the boat we were still a little hesitant to eat the Jack and the people seemed so friendly and also less fortunate.  We decided to gift them the fish.  It was big enough to feed the whole family for more than one meal.  The family was very grateful and we felt good about helping them out.

The fish was a monster.  Check out the pic below.

Hope everyone is having a great day.

Cheers,

Lewis & Alyssa

Piti uu Uta Island, Bora Bora, Leeward Islands, French Polynesia

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151 43.494 W

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Life in Bora Bora

We weren’t kidding when we said we set the hook hard and were going to stay a while.  We haven’t touched our anchor since the last post.  One would think that it’s all pina coladas and mai tai’s, but you’d guess wrong.  See, life on the hook in a beautiful setting such as this is a wonderful thing; but it’s not without a required balance of upkeep and chores.  To that end, we have been filling our days with some much needed repairs and housekeeping.

We spent the past three days rebedding all of the port chainplates, one per day.  They were slowly leaking when it rained or when we were shipping seas so it was overdue.  We pulled each plate completely out, cleaned, inspected, sealed and replaced.  It was definitely a two person job and Alyssa’s help was much appreciated, especially each time I heard a yelp from the galley signaling that she stabbed herself again with the wire brush.  I used epoxy putty to seal off the wood core inside the deck and then butyl tape for the final sealant around the chainplate and under the deck plate.  The end result was a water tight seal that should last for many years to come.  

Today we fired up the watermaker and Lyss took up her favorite backbreaking job of hand washing our laundry.  The trades are blowing strong so it was dry in a few hours.  We then filled our tanks and even heated some water for the Princess’ much deserved HOT shower!

We waded out onto the sandy reef yesterday to fly the stunt kite I picked up back in Morro Bay and we had a blast.  It was Alyssa’s first time flying a stunt kite and she didn’t crash it once!  Not bad considering I slammed it into the water half a dozen times..

We also found a pizza place across the bay that has an actual wood fired oven.  The pizza was delicious but I think they fuel the wood oven with francs because it sure was pricey!

On the way over here last week we sailed over a coral wall on the edge of the reef and saw sea turtles so tomorrow we are going to load up the dink with our dive gear and go check it out.  Hopefully we’ll upload some pics of the Mermaid swimming with her turtle friends!

Cheers,

Lewis & Alyssa

Bora Bora, Leeward Islands, French Polynesia

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Anchored in a Postcard – Bora Bora

We sailed to Bora Bora a few days ago and have been exploring the island and finding the most idyllic anchorage.  The first night we anchored in the lee of a small motu in the SW corner of the island in about 15′ of clear water.  The next day we sailed to the main town of Vaitape to check out the Heiva celebrations which were pretty cool.  They set up a whole palm-thatch village with restaurants, bars, dance stadium, etc.  We had lunch surrounded by tropical plants and flowers inside one of the tiki huts which was pretty cool.  Our night spent anchored off the town was loud and rolly from all the wakes and I was worried about theft.  There has been a lot of theft from cruising boats so I locked up everything really well.

The next day we sailed around the island and picked our way through tight coral patches and over shallow reefs to anchor between the over-water bungalows of the St. Regis and Le Meridien hotels.  We thought it was pretty awesome to be anchored next to people who are paying a thousand dollars a night for the same view as us!

There were just too many boat wakes off the hotels so we moved south the next day.  We carefully navigated through tight coral patches with only 4 feet of water under our keel in some spots!

We are now anchored in the SE corner of Bora Bora in 7 feet of the clearest water we’ve ever seen.  This spot is right out of the pages of National Geographic.  We set the anchor hard and we plan to stay a while.  I’m tackling some projects like rebedding chain plates and Lyss is fixing bug screens and sewing some canvas.  The work starts late and ends early.  Of course there are the obvious distractions like jumping in to cool off.  

Here are some pics.  The sunsets over Bora Bora have been breathtaking.

Lewis & Alyssa

Motu Taurare, Bora Bora, Leeward Islands, French Polynesia

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We’re Afloat! Bound for Bora Bora!

We launched on Thursday.  It was an exciting moment and we had 20 knot winds whipping chop straight into the haul out slip which made backing out extremely nerve racking.  Luckily Ellie behaved and backed out straight enough for me to point her bow towards the gap in the reef before being pushed onto the rocks by the increasing N wind.  We booked it out of there as fast as we could and made for Tahaa that afternoon.  We are planning on sailing for Bora Bora tomorrow morning and should arrive in time for the Bastille Day celebrations on Monday.

We were able to get a two week visa extension so we have until the 20th to sail out of French Polynesia.  We have enjoyed our time in FP but we are ready to leave.  We’re over the ridiculous prices and frankly the French culture is not so enjoyable.

At this point the itinerary includes: Bora Bora, Maupiti, Mopelia, Suwarrow, Samoa and then Tonga and possibly Fiji.  After Tonga/Fiji we have to get out of the cyclone area so that means sailing north or south.  We’re still deciding where to go.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Here are some pics of the launch and Ellie’s new paint! 

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Finally Done Painting! Splashing Tomorrow!

We are going back in the water tomorrow.  We have been painting like mad trying to get all the coats on so we can get back to the more enjoyable part of cruising.  Tomorrow afternoon can’t come soon enough.

We have been having so much fun I don’t know where to start….how about the A-hole yard manager, the language barrier between us and all the employees, the freezing cold shower, the overpriced and very limited supplies, the one restaurant that is never open and the swarms of mosquitoes.  Get us back in the water!

Here are some pics of the past few days.  The paint came out great.  We’ll roll one final coat on the bottom tomorrow then remove the blue tape on the lower part of the boot stripe and splash Ellie! 

p.s. We went with a tropical theme…..that green on the boot stripe was the only tint of green paint in all of French Polynesia (not exaggerating).

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Boatyard Blues in Raiatea

We have been slaving away trying to get Ellie painted and back in the water as soon as possible.  We are doing all the work ourselves so every night we are both completely exhausted.  The work starts at 7am and we don’t get to the COLD shower until about 6pm.  We spent all weekend grinding out some osmotic water blisters from the fiberglass and then sealing, filling and fairing the holes we made.  Most of the blisters were only as deep as the paint but our overzealous Polynesian yard hand went to town with a grinder for an hour when I wasn’t looking and created a whole weekend worth of work for us! 

It’s a really good thing we hauled out though because we found a sizable hole in the bottom of the aft section of the keel.  I was able to grind it all the way to the glass, epoxy and seal it off then fair it completely flat again.  There was also a small crack in our brand new rudder but luckily we caught it now and were able to grind out the moisture and seal that off as well.

So now we have primed all the spots we repaired and this afternoon put the first of three coats of ablative anti-fouling paint on the bottom.  Tomorrow we will roll on the other two coats and also roll on the hard anti-fouling paint to the bootstripe.

The work is grueling, the weather is hot and humid and we keep getting swarmed by mosquitoes even after coating ourselves in bug spray.

Needless to say we can’t wait to be back in the water mid-week and headed for Bora Bora.

Here are some pics of the progress.

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Hauled Out in Paradise

We decided to haul out here in Raiatea.  It was a tough decision but ultimately we decided that we should haul and paint the bottom before heading further west.  I explored a bunch of options and weighed the alternatives.  We even considered shipping paint to American Samoa and doing the bottom ourselves in Tonga.  Turns out that getting the paint to Samoa is a lot harder than we originally thought.  We are not planning on spending the cyclone season in New Zealand or Fiji, otherwise we would have waited.  There are no real boatyards between here and Fiji.  The boot stripe is peeling and the growth is out of control and driving me crazy.  The bottom paint is super thin, gone in some spots and about to wear completely away on the rest of the bottom (it’s ablative).  So we are on the hard and I’m writing this from about 8 feet above sea level.

We hauled out this morning.  I had to remove the forestay so the small travel lift could get the straps under Ellie but otherwise it went smoothly.  They put us down on a steel cradle.  The bottom paint looks pretty good.  Predictably there are a bunch of spots where the paint has failed so I spent all afternoon poking, prodding and scraping the spots that have failed.  It started to rain so the work is put on hold until tomorrow.

We have made a common concession that many cruisers before us have made.  We are raising the waterline.  We could have made the more prudent decision and lightened up the boat instead but that didn’t sound like fun: get rid of dive compressor, dive tanks, kayak, extra spares, tools, extra fuel jugs, generator, heavy 10hp outboard and all the other gear we have on board to make life fun and comfortable.  So instead we are raising the waterline by 2.5 inches so our white gelcoat doesn’t get so much fouling and my sanity can be saved. 

You probably don’t know this but there has been a war going on between me and the sea and the battlefield has been at the waterline.  See once we loaded Ellie down with all our cruising luxuries she sat about an inch into her bootstripe.  That bootstripe does not repel growth.  So as a result I have had to scrub the waterline on a weekly basis.  This is not so much fun.  Lately the sea has been winning the battles.  She threw something at us that I just couldn’t rebuff.  Hard red algea that I couldn’t get off even with the most abrasive scotch pad I have in my arsenal.  It has taken over (see pic below).  

So we are in the yard and the algae is dead.  Let’s see how well it fares when they take a mechanical sander to it!  The sea may have won the last few battles but I will win the war!

We are planning to be on the hard through the weekend and will most likely launch mid next week.  The rain has brought my favorite insects, mosquitoes, and they have taken over the public restroom.  How fun!  We’ll surely be going through a few cans of repellent over the next week.  On a positive note we can still see the sunset over Bora Bora from the yard, there is coral under the dinghy and we hear there is a pizza place just a 5 minute dinghy ride away.

We’ll keep ya posted as the work progresses.

-Lewis and Alyssa

July 2, 2014

Raiatea, Leeward Islands, French Polynesia

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