Category Archives: Tuamotus

Long Awaited Pictures!!

We know these pics are way overdue but we haven’t had internet for over two months!  Here are pics from Toau and Raroia in the Tuamotus, Anaho Bay on Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas and a couple pics from the passage to Hawaii. Sorry for not having more to post from the passage but we were naked the entire time and can’t post the pics for obvious reasons….

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Hilo Bay!  Dry Land!

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Message in a bottle at 8N dedicated to the passing of Riley, Alyssa’s loving family dog

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Fresh produce from the farm in Anaho Bay

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Anaho Bay.  Ellie anchored in background

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Alyssa carving up our fresh-caught Tuna in Nuku Hiva

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Approaching Hatiheu Bay, Nuku HivaIMG_0288 DSCF9176 - Copy

All that is left of the mahi Lewis caught after processing all the meat

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Mahi Lewis caught to windward of Nuku Hiv on 50lb test and ocean rod with tiny 4″ jet-head squid lure

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Alyssa made a perfect gaff shot near the spine behind the eyes.  She was hungry and made the first shot stick!

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Sunset at Castaway Island in Raroia

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Sewing projects in Raroia

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Shots from the masthead in Raroia Atoll

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Hottie in Raroia

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Date night on the boat

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Lewis made a custom coconut shaver for making coconut milk (Poisson cru anyone?)

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Lobster trap we set out on the reef.  Instead of lobster we caught a small shark and a few snapper.  Fail.

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This is what happens when you don’t reel in faster than the sharks can swim in Raroia

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Raft #2 (with attached solar panel) found on the windward side of Raroia

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Raft #1 found on windward side of Raroia

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Lewis helping process fish for shipment to Papeete on Toau Atoll. This was only the first batch of fish from 3 fish traps.

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We constantly had around 10 of these pilot fish cleaning our bottom in Toau and Raroia. They don’t ask for money, so we’re all about it. Check out the visibility; we’re anchored in 40′.DSCF9051

Valentine and Gaston’s kitchen/dining area over the waterIMG_0136 DSCF9010 IMG_0133 IMG_0125 IMG_0091

Makin’ coconut bread with ValantineIMG_0086

Major meat processing from Alyssa’s mahiIMG_0083Alyssa’s Mahi caught on the way from Moorea to Toau (using hand line and a medium sized jet-head squid lure)

 

On Passage – Raroia to the Marquesas

This evening I am proud of Ellie and her crew.  Any damn fool with a pile of flotsam can put up a swath of canvas and drift downwind.  It is a beautiful achievement to raise purpose-cut cloth, sheet it in at the perfect angle and gracefully drive a yacht upwind over swells and against the current.  That is exactly what Ellie is doing tonight.  After 800 upwind miles while burning less than 6 gallons of diesel we can confidently say that Ellie has drawn her masterpiece on the canvas of the majestic South Pacific.  The gap between her main- and fore-sail is perfect and allowing the sails to fully draw and effortlessly pull her upwind.  The Monitor is keeping her course and silently guiding her sails at the optimum angle through the trades.  You can feel Ellie surging forward as she falls off each swell with a splash of phosphorescence.  The sea has graced us with another spectacular show of lights in the form of a magnificent sunset.  The moment we are enjoying is a thing of grace and beauty unmatched by any other form of art I have even seen.

We are on passage, two days out of Raroia and bound for the Marquesas.  We should see the impressive volcanic spires within three days if this pleasant breeze holds.  We raced ahead of a convergence zone and it seems we made it to the other side as we are enjoying the spoils, 10 knots of warm easterly trades.  We plan to load up with fresh fruit and vegetables in the Marquesas before sailing for Hawaii.

Manuia,
Lewis & Alyssa

October 2, 2014

On Passage – South Pacific Ocean

12  51.2 S
139 51.2 W

Survivalist Cruising at Castaway Island and the Planned Departure for Hawaii

After two amazing weeks at Castaway Island a weather window has opened up and in a few days we have decided we’ll sail north.

The past two weeks have been fun, relaxing and peaceful.  We haven’t pulled the hook since we dropped it upon arrival here.  We have only seen one local boat and they didn’t seem interested in us so did not stop to say Ia Orana.  We spent days scouring the reef for treasure, knocking coconuts down, fishing and kayaking.  Catching fish from the boat became more difficult once the sharks figured out where the action was at.  It became so difficult to pull in a whole fish that once I hooked one I had less than 15-20 seconds to get it onto the boat before the sharks tore it to pieces.  The other day I hooked a 20″ snapper and was fighting to get it in when the sharks went nuts and one big shark took a bite out of him and all I was able to pull in was his head!  Since then I have lost many hooks because I have to reel them in so quick that they snap the line.  It still hasn’t prevented us from eating fresh fish every other day.  We also found an old fish trap on the beach that I converted to a lobster trap, baited with the carcass of a fish I caught and then took it out onto the reef flat and tied it to a rock at low tide.  A couple days later we ventured back out to the reef to gather a bucket full of lobster.  Instead of delicious lobster we had caught a baby shark, a dead fish and two small snapper.  I guess there is a reason that the locals don’t use traps to catch lobster..

We ran out of vegetables a while ago so Alyssa has been cultivating quite the garden in the galley.  She grew sprouts and wheat grass.  She also made yogurt from scratch, which is quite delicious.  We have been quite the survivalist cruisers over the past two weeks (or as Phil, Alyssa’s Uncle,  would call it: Extreme Boondocking); catching and growing our own food.  Between catching fish and making yogurt for protein, husking and shaving coconuts for curry and poisson cru to growing sprouts and wheat grass for live veggies and baking baguettes and foccacia we have all we need here.  It’s cool to be living a part of the simple existence of the early inhabitants of these atolls.  You spend your days procuring and cultivating food, eating delicious fresh meals and then just relaxing.  We have enjoyed it very much.

Alyssa has been sewing up a storm.  She made a great looking canvas cover for the small outboard and fixed some of our older canvas covers.  I’m thinking we may be able to put her new found skills to good use with a new boat card along the lines of “Ellie Canvas Works.”  Ok, we’ll work on the name.

We found another raft while out exploring the reef.  This one had a small plastic dome with solar panels on top.  It looks like it was built to send data.  The raft also has marking from Ecuador on it.  We assume this was an experiment to see where the raft would land.  The markings on top of the dome were a bar code and serial number: DSL+55548  Maybe someone can do some googling and try and find out who is behind it?  I for one am just glad to know that people are sending out unmanned navigational hazards for us to hit while on passage.  Thanks academia!

As for the weather:  There is a high pressure zone to the south of us right now that is causing the trades to blow with force.  We are dancing on our anchor with 20 knots whistling through the rig.  We can hear the roar of the big southern swells mixed with wind waves punishing the windward side of the reef.  In a few days the high pressure will move east and behind it our oh-so-unreliable GRIB files are promising light easterlies.  We are hopeful they are telling the truth and we can glide blissfully up to the Marquesas.  It’s a 4 day sail to Nuku Hiva, the northernmost island in the chain.  On account of Alyssa’s wonderful provisioning in Huahine and our rationing of fuel thus far, we are in good shape to sail past the Marquesas and set a course directly to Hilo, Hawaii if the near-term forecast looks great.  If the weather turns on us we’ll duck into a quiet bay and wait until a better window opens up.  Once we sail north from the Marquesas it’s a 2,000 nm run to Hawaii with no islands in between.  We are estimating the sail will take us about 16-17 days once we leave Nuku Hiva in our wake.

Ellie is ready for another long passage.  I went up the rig yesterday and everything looks great.  We are sure glad we have a Tartan and not a yogurt cup.  I keep finding strength aspects of her build that make me smile and help us sleep well in rough weather.  I have stripped the weather cloths for better windward performance and plan to stow the jerry jugs below (empty diesel and water) and strapped in the cockpit (gasoline).  The yankee is attached and ready for action.  The kayak is stowed away below deck.  We have greased up the primary winches.  We took the paddle off the Monitor windavane and I did some dremel surgery to open up the gap in the stainless tube so that we can tighten the paddle more securely in place.  It has been giving us trouble by moving out of alignment.  The fix was a success and the paddle is now locked in place on the centerline.  I tightened up the steering cables and also took apart the electronic autopilot to inspect it.  It is on it’s last leg and starts to slip when it get’s wet.  Those wheel pilots are POS and should not be relied on for ocean duty.  We have another one on board if this one craps out completely.  Good thing we don’t rely on the wheel pilot for primary steering duty.  That honor is bestowed upon our trusty crew member Monitor who steers a rock-solid course day and night and doesn’t ask for anything.

We plan to ride the SE trades due north from Nuku Hiva on about 141 W until we cross the ITCZ and find the NE trades at about 8N or so.  Once we reach the NE trades we’ll fall off and sail on a course that puts us just north of the Big Island of Hawaii.  We plan to make landfall at Hilo on the North side of the island.

I have mixed emotions about heading for Hawaii but Alyssa could not be more excited.  Just the thought of real grocery stores, farmers markets, starbucks, movie theaters and restaurants has butterflies in her stomach.  I am looking forward to seeing the active volcano and possibly renting a motorcycle and riding for the first time in over a year.  It should be a fun detour and a change of pace to have all the amenities of home.  We are also very excited to visit all our friends and family in CA over the holiday’s.

We leave in three days so there is more to be done in preparation, not to mention the mandatory hammock time.  We’ll write en route.

Manuia,
Lewis & Alyssa

September 28, 2014

Castaway Island, Tuamotus

Castaway Island

We’re still swinging on the hook off the same motu we found upon arrival here.  The wind has put some more east in it’s north so Ellie’s rudder is now floating about 3-4 feet above a beautiful healthy coral head that is loaded with delicious fish!  Sure makes catching dinner easy; all we do is drop a line over the side with a bit of fish on the hook and within a few minutes we pull in a 12 – 18″ snapper or grouper.  We caught two fish the other day and grilled them up.  Alyssa shaved some fresh coconut with a homemade stainless steel shaver I fabricated with my dremel and cooked up a delicious curry!

We’re living like kings out here in the middle of paradise.  The morning usually starts with a kayak peddle down the beach and up some of the false passes that run between the motus.  Then it’s breakfast in the cockpit.  Days have been spent exploring the islands and fishing.  Alyssa has been cooking up a storm and she even baked some fresh baguettes that are quite tasty.  I finally strung my hammock in the cockpit under the bimini and have been spending long lazy afternoons reading.  One book I’m reading is The Coral Island by Ballantyne; it sure is surreal to read his vivid descriptions of the island they are stranded on only to lift my eyes from the pages of the book, take a look around and under the boat, and actually see the scene in real life!

Yesterday we loaded up the dink for an excursion and cruised a mile away to what looked like an abandoned dwelling.  It hasn’t been used in a few years.  The galvanized steel roofing is rusting up and all that was left were tins of corned beef, some jellies for reef walking, an old stove and some fishing traps.  We headed out to the reef’s edge and while beach combing we came upon a strange discovery.  We waked closer to the crashing breakers and caught on a huge dead coral head was a makeshift raft.  It was constructed of bamboo and bound with cotton line.  There were fishing floats in each corner and black netting across the entire top.  It appeared to be a liferaft someone would have made if they were trying to get off a remote island or atoll.  The scene was very eerie and we were looking all around to find any evidence to support our theory that someone used this raft to escape to sea.  All we could find was ripped cloth attached to the raft and strewn about a few hundred yards from the beach.  We did not see any writing or evidence of who made the raft.  If it was someone’s attempt at self rescue we sure hope they made it onto this atoll safely and then to the village on the other side of the island.

The evening on what we have named Castaway Island is enjoyed with Alyssa’s fresh baguettes, French Cheeses, good wine and the sun setting over the motus on the western side of the atoll.  We smile at eachother and the deep contentment and satisfaction we are feeling is shared without having to say a word.

It’s a good life on Castaway Island.  What continues to satisfy me is the realization that we are anchored here in flat calm turquoise water and it’s not costing us a dime above the provisions and fuel we are consuming.  The good life for under $500 a month.  I can’t think of any other place we could live so well for so little.  Anyone for going cruising?

Manuia from Castaway Island!

Lewis & Alyssa

September 19, 2014

p.s. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to those sailors who were devastated by the hurricane that hit the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.  We are wishing the best for those who are trying to salvage their boats and condolences for those who lost their floating homes.  It also saddens us to have learned about the sailors who perished the night of the storm.  We hope that the cruising community in Mexico gets back to the good life in short order.

Anchored in Another Postcard After Two Days at Sea!

A couple weeks ago we were swinging on the hook in Maupiti debating heading NW to the Marshalls, SW to New Zealand or back uphill to Hawaii.  They were all about the same distance away.  If we followed the herd of 300+ Puddle Jumpers and rushed through Tonga, Fiji and on to NZ we were almost guaranteed crowded anchorages and a rough passage to NZ, not to mention the difficulty in getting back to Tonga the following season.  Heading to the Marshalls would have been off the beaten path but coming home for Christmas would have been too expensive and Alyssa was longing for civilization, family and real grocery stores and I could really go for a Cheeseburger in Paradise.  That left the third option on the table: Hawaii, which we chose.  The most difficult part was going to be bashing uphill 600 nm back the way we came, against the prevailing winds and currents.  But once we made it to the eastern Tuamotus we only had to sail a beam reach due north to about 10N and then fall off for the big Island of Hawaii.  Well after a few very rough passages and a couple very nice ones we did it and our easting is complete!

Our two day sail from Toau was about the best we could have asked for.  We covered about 230 nm in two days, not bad when considering we were sailing close hauled most of the time and against the west-setting current.  We had lovely conditions with NNE winds averaging 12-14 knots allowing us to sail close on the wind due east and make 4.0 knots SOG on average.  The seas were behaved as well and were about 1.0 – 1.5 meters on average, which is really nice!  We made way under full sail and enjoyed every moment of it, holding our breath in fear of a heavy blow or big squalls that never materialized.  We glided over the smooth swells under a half moon that lit up the sky but still allowed for viewing shooting stars and admiring the southern cross.  We are both rested and sure hope we have some of those conditions on the way to Hawaii!

After a great two-day sail, a nerve-racking pass, and two hours of carefully threading our way through uncharted coral heads, we dropped the hook in the most amazing setting imaginable.  There is an uninhabited picturesque palm-clad island off the bow.  Turquoise water under the keel with colors tapering lighter as the depth shallows up to the white sand that lines the pristine motus.  Ellie is not rocking and feels like she is tied to a dock.  There is not a single other cruising boat in this entire 15+ mile lagoon.  The only sounds we hear are the roar of the waves crashing on the reef, the lapping of small wind waves on the hull and the sea birds dancing about putting on a ballet for us.  We are once again anchored in a postcard and we have it all to ourselves.

The ability for us to dream is a wonderful part of being alive.  The ability to realize those dreams through intelligence, hard work and perseverance is an incredibly rewarding talent we are fortunate enough to enjoy.  Two weeks ago we imagined being anchored behind a private island all to ourselves with no other boats or people around and today we’re here.  Life is great.

We plan to stay here a month or so before making our way north to Hawaii.  There is no internet or phone on this atoll so we won’t be able to upload any pictures for a while.  Drop us a line via our at-sea email address.  We always love hearing from our friends and family.

Manuia from a motu we have yet to name,
Lewis & Alyssa

unnamed motu, Eastern Tuamotus, FP

Paradise….lost? The Toau Sweat Shop

After a week in Toau we have decided to set sail.  There is a two day weather window opening up and we plan to take advantage of it.  The winds are forecast to average 10 knots out of the NE for a day and then lighten up and become squally.  We still have a full tank of diesel and we are prepared to use it this time!

The past week has been busy.  We were hoping to relax more but each day we have succumbed to the call of indentured servitude to the local family.  When we arrived here we told them we did not have any money (they charge 700 cpf or approx. $9 US per night for use of the moorings).  They said “no problem!  Maybe you can help us out a little bit instead?”  We said “Sure.  No problem.”  We also gave them some gifts: a box of wine, a pineapple from Moorea, some veggies, baguette, etc.  Turns out that their expectations of “a little bit of help” are on the order of migrant laborer status.  We helped them out with everything from preparing the feast for the visiting charter boats to raking the leaves, to gathering fish from the fish traps and then stringing them into bunches of four for the supply ship (all 600 fish!), shaving coconuts, doing their laundry (we did ours as well which was nice), cleaning and doing dishes, filing about 120 liters of water bottles for them with our watermaker, etc.  After about the fourth day of labor I was starting to feel that we were being taken advantage of.  They were very friendly and we found it almost impossible to turn them down when asked for help.  I even rehearsed in my head responses to the next favor she was going to ask of us, “I have work to do on the boat” or “I’m working on the engine today.”  But as soon as she would ask we would lose all control and immediately say “Sure, no problem. We’re happy to help. How high should we jump?!?”  We think that so many cruisers have come through here with unlimited generosity that expectations have risen to unreasonable heights.  We’re glad we could help them out but in aggregate it was a little much.

It was not one-sided though.  We were able to join the feast with the charter boat (that we helped prepare), they baked a pizza one night that we all shared and Alyssa was able to drill holes in some of our pearls.  I think what made the trade so lopsided was that on Sunday we sat around visiting with them and she harped on for three hours about Jesus and we had to sit there in flight attendant mode (all fake smiles and nods) during the whole “lesson.”  That session was far more painful than the manual labor!

Helping Gaston with the fish traps yesterday was a wild experience.  I helped him collect 600 fish from his traps in only two hours.  That is an incredible amount of fish and the fish were about 18″ on average.  My job was to jump in the trap and swim (scare) the fish into a corner.  Then Gaston would hold a big basket (7′ x 4′ x 3′) made of chicken wire against one side of the corner while I swam around the other side.  The fish would then go into a crazed frenzy and swim violently into his basket.  He then tipped the opening of the basket so it was above the water and we both lifted the basket out of the trap and another guy lifted it into the boat.  We repeated this procedure about 40 times between two fish traps until the boat was full to the gunwales.  Then we unloaded the fish at the dock, sorted them and strung them up 4-5 to a bunch.  A few hours later the supply ship, COBIA 3, came into the bay and dropped down a huge container with ice in the bottom.  The fish were loaded into the container, more ice put on top, and then loaded back onto the ship.  Those fish will end up presented nicely on ice in the central market in Papeete tomorrow.  Gaston will be paid the equivalent of $1,500 US for four hours work.  Not a bad system when you have free labor at hand!

Gaston and Valentine are both very friendly and we believe they mean well.  It was nice getting to know them.  That said, I don’t think we’ll be coming back.  It was just too much trying to satisfy their expectations.  We also missed out on some great diving as a result.

We are very excited for our next atoll.  It promises seclusion, privacy and tranquility.  We are both looking forward to spending a few weeks on our own private motu.

We’ll send updates en route.

Manuia from Toau!
Lewis & Alyssa

September 12, 2014
Anse Amyot, Toau Atoll, Tuamotus, FP

Passage Summary – Moorea to Tuamotus: Ass Kicking

We just moored in one of our favorite spots in the Tuamotus after the roughest passage we have had on the voyage thus far.  We left Moorea three days ago with the forecast calling for winds in the mid-teens out of the SE.  The plan was to ride the SE winds on the beam and sail the 230nm on a course of NE to make landfall in the Tuamotus on the second day out.  Not exactly what happened.

We motored from Moorea until we were out of the lee of Tahiti where the SE winds filled in.  The first night was extremely rough with 20 knots just forward of the beam and steep seas throwing huge amounts of water over the boat and filling the cockpit.  The motion of the boat was severe and we both felt sea sick.  The exchange between me and Alyssa went something like:

Lewis: “This sucks. We probably should have just gone when there was no wind and burned the diesel.”
Alyssa: “But then you would have been swearing about burning the fuel.”
Lewis: “Probably. But at least I would have been swearing about it with a beer in my hand instead of barf in my throat.”

The only positive was that we were making 5.5 to 6.0 knots SOG against the prevailing west-setting current and we were generally on course.  That night Alyssa went to pull in the jib furling line to reef the sail and she suffered some severe burns and blisters when the line ripped through her hands.  This was even with sailing gloves on!  Most women would go down for the count after that but she’s tough and salty so I didn’t learn about her injuries until morning.

Alyssa woke me up with a scream: “We got a huge fish!  Get up!”  I crawled out of the bunk and headed to the cockpit.  Alyssa had pulled in a 4 foot mahi!  It was bright yellow and magnificently beautiful.  I went below and grabbed the gaff.  A couple swift shots later and we impaled the giant, bled him out and brought him onboard.  He was heavy so it took both of us to lift him.  I was feeling very seasick so Alyssa went to work on the side deck cutting the huge fillets.  Each side filled up a gallon ziplock.  She tossed it in the fridge and threw the lure out again.  A huge thanks and shout out to Bruce on SKABENGA who helped us make the squid lure that caught the mahi.  We have a great picture of Alyssa and the fish but we won’t have internet for at least a month or so; we’ll upload when we reach “civilization” again.

The second day the wind increased even more and was sustained at 25 knots and gusting higher.  The wind also clocked around more to the east and as a result we were close-hauled into it trying to hold our ground to make our destination.  It was the roughest conditions we have subjected ourselves and Ellie to since we left San Francisco.  This was due in most part to the fact that we were fighting the prevailing winds and current, which it turns out is much harder than originally thought.

After the second day the realization sunk in that there is no way we will make our destination on this tack.  We decided to stick with it and see where we made landfall in the Tuamotus.  The second night we came 10 nm from the NW corner of Kaukura.  I did not want to tango with low-lying atolls at night so we tacked back towards open ocean on a frustrating course that was pretty much aiming right back at Tahiti.  We would spend the next 18 hours close-hauled fighting 25-30 knots of wind and strong squall after squall after squall to cover only 50 nm to windward.  We were only making about 4 knots against the extremely strong west current.  At one point near the SE corner of Kaukura we saw over two knots of current!  After what felt like the 50th tack but was probably only the 6th, we fired up the iron genoa (engine) and pushed hard on the wind against the steep seas and rain.  We were only making 3.5 knots but at least we were making way.  I felt like we were on that movie the Truman Show and there was someone up in a warm booth pushing buttons and f*cking with us.  More wind!  More current!  They are still making way, send huge squalls!   Through all of this we were in endurance mode just trying to hang on and not throw up.  It was not fun at all.  Ellie was being worked hard and she was creaking from all the stresses she was being subjected to, but she is one tough b!tch and she wouldn’t let the conditions beat her.

It took us 285 nm to cover the 230 nm rhumb line distance.  We would have been in yesterday evening but it took us so long to cover the last 50 miles that we made it to the entrance just after dark and decided to take the more prudent route and practice good seamanship by heaving-to for the night.  After spending two days in such rough weather, riding out the night in the lee of this atoll felt like being at anchor.

So the conclusion is that going east against the prevailing conditions is extremely difficult and borderline not possible in our boat.  We did it but given the same weather conditions I would not choose to repeat this passage.  We needed to get out of Moorea [a little complication called expired visas] so we decided to go.  Next time we’ll be more patient and wait until the conditions are more favorable.  In looking at the weather more closely it looks like we were on the edge of a convergence zone where the SE and NE trades meet.  This is why the winds were so strong and it was so squally.  At least we’re getting a better handle on this whole debacle they call weather forecasting.

My bloody mary is getting warm and I smell breakfast so have to run.  We have a busy week planned of doing absolutely nothing.  I’m finally going to string my hammock.

What a passage. What a life.

Cheers from the tired crew of Eleutheria

September 4, 2014

[Undisclosed Atoll], Tuamotus, FP

Toau is Pure Paradise

Today was one of the best days of my life and everything I imagined cruising the south pacific could be.

I woke up next to my amazing girlfriend on a non-rocking boat.  The wind had backed off and was no longer howling through the rigging.  We listened to the morning HF radio net and made some tea.  We had an awesome breakfast in the cockpit and watched the locals heading out to collect fish from the traps.  Then we readied the dinghy for a dive and headed out the pass and along the coast about a mile.  When we reached the dive site marked on the GPS we didn’t find a dive buoy, it was quite rough and Lyss was a bit scared of diving on a wall that drops off into the abyss so she stayed with the dinghy while I slipped below the surface to explore.  The dive was incredible.  The coral was abundant and very healthy teeming with thousands of fish.  I spent time filming two clown fish dancing in and around a huge sea anemone.  I descended into grottos and under coral ledges.  I dropped down the face of the steep wall on the edge of a thousand foot abyss.  It was everything I would want in a dive and it was incredibly peaceful down there.

When we returned to the pass we decided to stop by and introduce ourselves to the local family who lives here.  Valentine and Gaston are very friendly and welcoming.  We were immediately handed some delicious fresh coconut.  They asked if we wanted to trade for some pearls.  We spent about an hour carefully going through there pearl collection and making our selection.  They asked for booze, specifically rum and whiskey, unfortunately we have neither.  They also asked for TP, paper towels, canned food, pasta and of course beer and wine.  We came back from the boat with our last box of wine, some beers, TP, paper towels, canned veggies, pasta, sunglasses and some other things.  She really liked the sunglasses, and the American beer.  We arrived at a deal and returned to the boat with our booty.

After lunch I took the kayak and went exploring.  I was peddling over the bright blue and turquoise water while watching the coral heads just below the surface.  The fish traps they have set up are quite interesting.  It’s just a chicken wire and rebar maze that the fish swim into and cant get out of.  When they get hungry they just motor over to the traps and pick out lunch.  After checking out the traps I peddled over to a drop off, donned mask and snorkel and jumped in.  I drifted through the pass back towards the boats and came upon a huge green moray eel.  He was about five feet long and had his mouth open and he was looking at me with his sharp teeth.  I watched him for about ten minutes wondering if he was going to come all the way out but eventually decided to let him be and I moved on.

Once back at the boat I had a good shower and got ready for dinner with our friends on The Beguinne and True Blue V.  Alyssa whipped up a potato salad and we headed over to the Beguinne while the sun was setting outside the pass.  We all shared a great evening complete with fresh pamplemouse margaritas, actual fresh green salad!, Alyssa’s awesome potato salad and fresh-caught mahi mahi.  I topped it all off with a slice of cocoa cake left over from the visit with our German friends on Antares.

What a great day in an absolutely amazing place.  We have all the ingredients for a wonderful happy life right here…..and there is not a single thing for sale.  No schedule, no overbearing laws, no police, no tax man, no theft and no crime.  Just good people sharing and enjoying each day as it comes in a spectacularly beautiful setting.

Everyone here is smiling, and for good reason.  What a stark contrast to the faces on the NYC subway….

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

-Lewis

June 2, 2014

Anse Amyot, Toau, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Tuamotus 003

Tuamotus 012

 

http://youtu.be/F8XnoEwXZ2k

Pinned Down in Toau

Ia Orana from Toau Atoll!

We are swinging on a mooring ball on the NW side of Toau (Toe-ow) atoll in 25-30 knots of wind.  We are in Anse Amyot, a picturesque coral cul de sac (false pass).  The reef between us and the lagoon is doing a great job blocking the wind waves that are raised inside the lagoon and we are sitting in flat water with a mere 6″ of wind chop.  The wind generator is cranking out all the power we need and we have the watermaker going so we can top off our tanks and do some laundry.

We sailed over here from Fakarava yesterday with our friends on True Blue V (an Island Packet 44) and The Beguinne (a Valiant 45?).  We got up at 5:00 am so we could be in the pass at exactly slack tide, 6:30 am.  We timed it pretty well and had a couple knots of ebbing current.  We managed to steer clear of the worst of the wind waves outside the pass and only had about 3-4 foot waves to deal with.  Ellie handled them like a champ and was soon barrelling along nicely on a broad reach under full jib making 6 knots towards Toau.  We enjoyed a great 6 hour sail to the lee of Toau and had an easy entrance into Anse Amyot, despite the fact that a line of three huge catamarans were blocking the range markers.  We grabbed a mooring and I donned dive gear to drop below and check it out.

As soon as I put my mask below the water I was amazed!  The pass was teeming with colorful fish, coral, rays, sharks and deep canyons.  I dove to the bottom and was happy to find relatively new 3/8″ chain wrapped and secured around a dead coral head with 3/4″ line run up to the mooring ball.  I wanted to keep diving so I made my way over to where our friends were moored and dove on their moorings as well.  On my way to True Blue V I saw a beautiful spotted eagle ray.  I haven’t seen a spotted ray since Hawaii so I was very excited to watch him gracefully flying over the bottom.

There is amazing diving here just outside the anchorage on the wall of the atoll.  The locals who live here even installed dinghy moorings at the dive sites!  We are both very excited to go diving tomorrow or Tuesday once the wind lays down a bit.  The coral is very healthy, there is even coral starting to grow on the underwater mooring balls that are strung between the anchor and pennant.

There is one family who lives here on the island and they have invited us to join them for a traditional Polynesian feast.  We’ll have to report back with details on the dinner and table fare.

Our German friends on Antares (a Halberg Rassy 40) are here as well.  We met them in Nuku Hiva.  They invited us for coffee this afternoon so we can all catch up.  We’ll bring some of Alyssa’s fresh-baked banana bread to share.

We are planning to spend 3-4 more days here before sailing for Tahiti.  Looks like favorable winds on the 5th but we’ll be watching the forecast closely to time our 225 nm passage.

Gotta run now – bilge pump running.  Probably a watermaker fitting….it’s always something ;-)

Lewis & Alyssa

June 1, 2014

Anse Amyot, Toau Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Moored:
15 48.165 S
146 09.066 W