We’ve been in Maupiti about a week and are loving it here. The people are very welcoming and friendly and the vibe is super laid back. We met a local guy named John who is originally from CA. I’m pretty sure he spends all day in a hammock because he may be the most tranquilo guy we’ve ever met. We managed to find some fresh veggies, eggs and baguettes to replenish our dwindling fresh food selection. You have to walk the entire length of the town to gather a single bag of groceries. It’s pretty fun though strolling along the main path and stopping and the locals homes to pick up a couple cucumbers here and some green beans there. It took a day to procure baguettes, with having to put in an order and all. There is not a single ATM on the island so when the rest of our francs disappear it will be time to push on to Mopelia where not a single thing is for sale!
A couple days ago we went down to the pass for some fishing. We tied up the dinks to the stern of the St. Francis 44 catamaran SKABENGA and cruised across the lagoon and anchored in the 4 knot current just before the pass. We gathered up our fishing poles and spear guns and went hunting for some dinner. I drifted the pass a couple times on the surface to check out our prey. There were hundred of fish but they were all in the middle of the pass and deeper than I could reach with my spear gun from the surface. This mission necessitated SCUBA tanks. Luckily I brought a tank so we returned to the mother ship to get the gear. Once I was suited up I dropped off the back of SKABENGA and immediately started flying down the pass at 4-5 knots in the swift current. The plan was for Alyssa to drift in the dinghy and pick me up before the breakers so I wouldn’t get sucked out into the the open ocean and/or drop into the abyss. I was cruising along trying to avoid being slammed into the coral heads all the while picking out the unlucky fish that would become our dinner. Halfway down the pass I saw a huge coral head and behind it were hundred of fish hiding from the current. I quickly maneuvered behind the coral head and found it was perfectly protected from the swift current. Upon my arrival most of the fish took off….they have been hunted before. I decided to hang out there for a few minutes and wait for an unlucky fish big enough to justify the effort of firing at. I was hanging on the the coral head with my left hand and aiming my speargun with the right. After a couple minutes of waiting I realized that very soon poor Alyssa would start freaking out that I hadn’t surfaced and she would be thinking the worse and initiating a multi agency search of the Pacific. Just when I was about to let go of the coral head and make my way to the surface I saw Bruce (of SKABENGA) fly by in the current and he waved to me. OK I thought to myself, he’ll surface soon and tell Alyssa I’m still down and that I am alright. I decided to stay a while longer and try to get a big one. We haven’t had fish in over a week and I wanted to bring home dinner! A couple minutes later, out of the corner of my eye I saw a massive big eye Jack cruise through the gap in the coral head. He must have been 3.5 – 4 feet long. As I quickly swung the spear gun around to aim at him the current whipped the gun downstream and he bolted. Another couple unsuccessful shots later I looked at my air gauge and I was down to 500 psi signaling it was time to surface. I let go of the coral and was immediately sucked downstream. I was making my way up to the surface as quickly as it was safe but the current was incredibly strong. I was concerned that I wouldn’t break the surface before reaching the breakers. I broke the surface and to my relief I was not yet at the breakers. I signaled to Alyssa and she zoomed over to pick me up. She was really upset at me! I thought that Bruce had surfaced 10 minutes ago but it turns out that he found a coral head further downstream and had hid there for almost as long as I did. I felt terrible for scaring her like that. Poor Alyssa thought I had been washed out into the Pacific and was lost forever!
Yesterday we hiked to the top of the island in what must have been the best hike we have ever been on. The views were breathtaking. Maupiti is one spectacular place. There were a couple tricky sections where we had to use ropes (that were already there). Once we reached the top and climbed on to the flat pinnacle rock our jaws dropped and we spent the next minute in awe. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
We’re not sure how much longer we’ll stay but we’re in no hurry to leave. Today was an excellent day to transit the pass but we are not ready to leave so we’ll have to watch for the next good window. There is some heavy weather coming in from the SE so the pass will most likely close out for another week or so. Looks like we’re stuck in paradise…..oh damn 🙂
On another note we have decided that after Mopelia (100 nm west of here) we are going to delay further westward progress until next season. We will spend about a month in Mopelia before sailing back to windward to load Ellie up with a month’s worth of provisions. Some time in October we will point her bow NE and sail non-stop to Hawaii for the winter. It’s a 2,500 nm run and should take us about 20 days. If we hit our planned waypoints the wind should be on the beam most of the way. We will ride the SE trades up to the ITCZ at about 5N and then once we hit 10N we should find the NE trades to fall off for the Big Island of Hawaii. We plan to fly home in December to visit family. When we return to Hawaii in January we will prep the boat and sail south sometime in Feb. We’ll visit the Line Islands (Palmyra, Fanning, Christmas) and then Penrhyn in the Northern Cooks. We plan to hit Suwarrow as soon as the cyclone season comes to an official close and then make our way west towards Tonga and Fiji. That’s the current plan. Written in sand at the low tide mark.
We also wanted to say congratulations to Ian and Dori, who were married last weekend, and to Brian and Liz of PURA VIDA who are getting married today!! Wish we were there guys. Are you still doing the HaHa this year?
Cheers from Maupiti,
Lewis & Alyssa
Lastly, check out the August issue of Latitude 38. Awesome article about our time in Raroia and encounters with sharks!
LINK TO MAGAZINE (Pages 126 – 128)