raiatea ~ work & play

August 7 – 21, 2014

Raiatea was to be our final stop in French Polynesia. The kids’ school books would be arriving in Raiatea soon. We were also eager to see our friends on s/v Zingaya who had returned home to Raiatea and were transitioning into their new jobs there. And, it was time for the family aboard s/v Malia (Colin’s burfing buddy, Kea) to be flying home to Kauai (Hawai’i), and they needed to place Malia in one of the Raiatea marinas. Therefore, along with Malia, we made the short day hop from Huahine over to Raiatea. Once there, we spent a few days of play on Raiatea’s west side.


dubbed “Colin the Invincible”


a more conservative form













anchored between the reefs near Uturoa

After bidding farewell to Malia’s visiting crew, we moved around to an anchorage area near Uturoa on the northeast side of Raiatea. There we could be near s/v Zingaya, as well as some extra provisioning. While we waited for the school books to arrive, we spent time with the Zingaya crew, toured a bit of the Uturoa area, and prepared the boat for departure from French Polynesia. Texas friend boats, s/v Liward and s/v Irie II, also popped in for a brief visit.


Full Monty anchored behind the reef & looking so small















looking northwest from Mt Tapioi, Raiatea towards Tahaa (right) and Bora Bora (furthest)












enjoying the view from Mt Tapioi


standing above Uturoa







looking east over Passe Teavapiti towards Huahine










Raiatea’s east side











an unconcerned bull standing in our path


eye candy for him & eye candy for her








carefully-raised vanilla bean plants










local Raiatea flora



looking north from Raiatea to Tahaa










panoramic view of Uturoa village & Tahaa from Mt Tapioi, Raiatea








Mt Tapioi ~ a fun hike



a Mercedes school bus


school would be starting soon in Raiatea



















convenient provisioning at the Uturoa town wharf


















We were due to clear out of French Polynesia on a Sunday. This meant we needed to get our clearance papers from the Gendarmerie on Friday at the latest. We were down to our last days in French Polynesia, and busy with passage preparations, when we suddenly found ourselves with a leak in the raw water intake for the starboard engine. There was a possibility that we would have to order a new part, so we immediately began the process of filing for a visa extension. At the same time, we moved the boat to the Uturoa town wharf, so we could be available for inspection by proper authorities and a mechanic. Wil was quite capable of fixing the leak himself, but we were required to have a local mechanic verify our situation.


sporting newly pierced ears ~ pierced in Tahiti!

We spent one day and a night docked at the town wharf trying to sort out our troubles. Our extension was filed, but because it was a Friday, we would need to wait until the Monday (one day after our visa would expire) to receive approval. Therefore, rather than sit at the busy wharf, we returned to anchor for the weekend. In the meantime, Wil managed to fix the leak before Monday, and we didn’t need the extension after all.

During the weekend, s/v Zingaya informed us that a local sailing school was hosting a free sailing day in order to recruit new students. While the rest of the adults were busy with work or chores, I dinghied the kids over to the sailing school for the day. There were a variety of Hobie cats, optimist sailing dinghies, and windsurfers available to anyone who wanted to give it a try or have some fun. Instructors were also available and on standby for any necessary instruction or help. Our kids went straight for the Hobie, and then later gave the windsurfers a try.


Zingaya & Full Monty kids going sailing


taking off








sailing to Tahaa


a sailing playground between Raiatea & Tahaa








kids sailing between Raiatea & Tahaa ~ Bora Bora in the distance












first windsurf experience




friendly & helpful instructors









sails & Bora Bora on the horizon ~ a beautiful sight


















On the Monday, we returned to the Gendarmerie for our final clearance. We were surprised when the officer asked us when we would be leaving. Therefore, we took advantage of this fact, and stated that we would need to wait on a favorable wind. We remained in Raiatea for 2 more days before returning to Huahine to wait on that favorable wind.


giant mussel found at while at anchor


a nightly visitor looking for scraps









return to home page

Categories: cruising kids, travel | Tags: , | 2 Comments

huahine ~ kids, kids, kids!

July 17 – 31, 2014 ~ Baie d’Avea

After an incredible morning with the voyaging canoes, we hoisted anchor and headed to Baie d’Avea at the southwestern end of Huahine. Baie d’Avea had been our first destination of choice for Huahine. Now, two weeks later, we were finally dropping the hook in this remote anchorage. While we had been completely enjoying the amazing culture of Huahine, we were ready for some alone time. Also, the boat needed some attention, and we had a birthday to celebrate.


looking out toward the reef ~ anchored inside Baie d’Avea, southwest Huahine












on a Nemo hunt ~ sea anemone spotted

sea anemone spotted & hoped to see Nemo!



When we arrived in Baie d’Avea, there were only a few other boats in the anchorage. We immediately enjoyed some snorkeling, standup paddle boarding, and skurfing. When we weren’t playing, boat maintenance was getting done.


always nice to see water bead on the bimini after waterproofing

always nice to see water bead on the bimini after waterproofing

finally! ~ nothing like a nice coat of varnish

finally! ~ nothing like a nice coat of varnish















When s/y Breeze, a gorgeous Moody 64 under Swedish flag, dropped anchor in the bay, our kids finally got to have some kid time. Two months ago, we’d sadly said good-bye to our kid boat friends in New Zealand, so our kids were quite happy to meet and play with Ella. Unfortunately for us, Breeze was only there for a few days. They had been in French Polynesia for a year, and they were approaching the end of their visa. We wished we’d met them a lot sooner, but little did we know, Breeze would have a big influence in our lives further down the road.

Eventually, we got wind that a large group of kid boats would be arriving in Huahine. They were of the next season of boats to pass through French Polynesia, and they were on their way to Baie d’Avea! We had been hearing them on the SSB and VHF, but had not yet crossed paths. Before we knew it, the anchorage was full of kid boats, and at one point we had 19 kids in the anchorage!

During the kid invasion, we must have been so busy playing that we forgot to take any photos. In addition to ourselves, the other kid boats present were Field Trip, Moana Roa, Lil Explorers, Dafne, Elena, and Lochmarin. A volleyball net was set up on the shore, and there always seemed to be a game going. There were also the usual water activities, but this time I got to have my first experience noodling. Sarah (s/v Field Trip) led all of the ladies in this water aerobics exercise that involved foam noodles usually found at swimming pools. Yes, many of us already have noodles onboard! There were also a couple of mornings that involved a dinghy ride around the southern tip of Huahine to the inside surf break of Passe Araara at Baie Parea. The inside break is the perfect spot for beginners . . . if you disregard the fire coral beneath you!


cake decorated by Colin for his big sister



Amidst all of the kid activity, we celebrated Justine’s 14th birthday. Even though we had an anchorage full of kid boats, Justine chose to have a small and quiet celebration with only our family. Her big gift had already been received a few weeks earlier when I took her to get her ears pierced in Papeete. How fun to be able to say you got your ears pierced in Tahiti!


lighting the candles ~ 14 plus one for good luck

lighting the candles ~ 14 plus one for good luck

getting brighter every year!

getting brighter every year!
















August 1 – 7, 2014

Most of the kid boats departed Baie d’Avea on the same day, including ourselves. We needed to return to Fare, and our time in French Polynesia was also coming to an end.

mom & babe out for a paddle

mom & babe out for a paddle






Once back in Fare, we ended up meeting a family from Hawai’i who was boat sitting for a family member. Colin and Kea hit it off and spent many hours “burfing” . . . surfing on a boogie board. While the younger kids were pulled behind a dinghy, Justine and the ladies paddled out in hopes of catching sight of a passing whale.


looking for humpbacks on the SUPs ~ are we crazy, or what!










intentional bump


at least she went down too!








During our remaining days in Huahine, we were at a major indecision. We knew we needed to leave French Polynesia soon. However, it was hurricane season north of the equator. We were supposed to be headed for Hawai’i, but it was too soon. We took screen shots of the major hurricanes moving across the North Pacific and took them to the Gendarme’s office, begging for an extension. After many tries, we had to give up. Pitcairn was our only other choice, but that was in the opposite direction and would mean a lot of sailing for a short time. We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do. In the meantime, we had school books being delivered to Raiatea, and it was time to make the short hop across the channel.


a rainbow in the anchorage at Fare ~ actually IN the anchorage!













is there gold in the anchorage?


local fishing boat returning











return to home page

Categories: boat improvement & maintenance, cruising kids, travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

technical difficulty

For some reason, the previous blog post, Huahine ~ the Hōkūleʻa, is having technical difficulty. Comments and Twitter links aren’t working properly. Therefore, I’m using this post to help identify the problem. In the meantime, it’s possible to leave comments or tweet from this post. Sorry for the inconvenience!


Categories: uncategorized | 3 Comments

huahine ~ the Hōkūleʻa

July 16 – 17, 2014

We had not planned to stay in Fare for the first 14 days that we did, but in addition to all of the Heiva festivities, we learned that the Hōkūle’a, a Polynesian voyaging canoe whose crew only navigates by the stars and the waves, was expected to arrive soon. The leg sailed from Hawai’i to French Polynesia was the beginning of her worldwide voyage, as well as her first voyage since 1999 when she had sailed to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The people of Huahine were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Hōkūleʻa, along with her sister ship, Hikianalia, and they were ready to celebrate the momentous occasion.

arrival of

Faafaite’s masts were the first to appear on the horizon

On Wednesday, July 16th, voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia, and Faafaite graced Huahini with their presence. We may have been the first to notice the set of double masts on the horizon. We peered through our binoculars and radioed s/v Liward for verification. At the same time, a local who had been pulling a bunch of kids on boogie boards behind his motor boat noticed our commotion. He stopped to ask us if it was the Hōkūleʻa we saw. When we told him we thought it was the Hōkūleʻa, all the kids cheered. Immediately, the little motor boat zoomed throughout the anchorage with the children voices shouting, “The Hōkūleʻa’s coming!! The Hōkūleʻa’s coming!!” The moment touched our hearts.

conch horn blowing

the sound of a conch horn announcing the arrival of the Hokule’a

Within minutes, people began to collect on the beach and docks. A conch horn began blowing from the shore. The news of the Hōkūleʻa’s arrival spread like wild fire. We contributed to the announcement with the sound of our own conch horn. Some people took to the water to greet the arriving canoes.

Faafaite, a voyaging canoe of French Polynesia, was the first canoe to arrive. As she got closer, we realized that it was not the Hōkūleʻa, but the air was still filled with excitement.





getting ready to greet the Hokulea

getting ready to greet the Faafaite


s/v Liward dinghy following Faafaite


Hokule’a’s approach to Huahine








The dark red canvas sails of the Hōkūleʻa were a sight to behold on the horizon. For every conch horn that sounded from the shore or a boat, the Hōkūleʻa answered each song with her own conch horn filling the air. Again, our hearts were touched, and we felt so extremely lucky to be a part of something so sacred to the Polynesian community.

The Hōkūleʻa has no engine, so they approached slowly in the slight breeze. As they neared the reef entrance at Fare, a boat went out to tow them the remaining distance. At the same time, more and more people were finding their way out to greet the Hōkūleʻa and her crew. They were using whatever means necessary to get themselves to the beloved canoe. There were small boats, outrigger va’as, kayaks, dinghies, surfboards, and even swimmers.


everyone rushing to greet Hokule’a


a mom & child making welcoming splashes


crew of the Hokule’a waving and blowing a conch horn


Hokule’a being followed by va’as as she makes her way past Fare


Hikianalia arriving in Fare & greeted by the chief
























The Hikianalia, sister ship to the Hōkūleʻa, was the next and final canoe to arrive. Hikianalia has photovoltaic-driven electric motors, as well as modern navigational, communications, and scientific equipment. She sails along side the Hōkūleʻa as they gather ocean research data and transmit their experiences to the rest of the world. However, the Hikianalia has her own sail plan during the worldwide voyage, and will only be sailing with the Hōkūleʻa during the first and last legs of the journey.




chief in ceremonial attire


the chief leading the canoes into port


the Hikianalia being welcomed to Huahine


Hikianalia (left), Hokule’a (right), and Faafaite (behind)


















Once all three voyaging canoes had entered the lagoon, they continued to Bourayne Bay where the welcoming ceremony and celebrations would occur. Ceremonies would begin about 0800 the following morning, and we planned to be there.

At 0730, we hauled anchor and motored to Bourayne Bay. However, by the time we arrived and found a good spot to drop the hook, we were late for the opening ceremony. Being late didn’t matter though, as we were still able to have an incredible, up-close and personal experience with these special canoes and their crew.


the Polynesian sailing canoes docked in Bourayne Bay, Huahine


spectators around the canoe hut where the crews have gathered


the crews gathered in the canoe hut










décor hanging inside the canoe hut


probably a village kite from Heiva


music & song to celebrate the Polynesian voyaging canoes and their journey


























After viewing the tail-end of the ceremony, we returned to the dock to have a closer look at the canoes. Every crew member we spoke with was extremely friendly and eager to share their experiences. One even offered us the use of his home, laundry, and shower for when we reached Hawai’i. And then, to our surprise, we were invited aboard for a tour of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia. We felt extremely honored.


storage rack on the side of the Hokule’a














Ki’i Wahine’s eyes represent seeing and foresight


Ki’i Kale represents knowledge














The Hōkūleʻa’s ki’i “embody the spirit of Hawai’i and watch over the canoe while it voyages.” The male and female ki’i work together to guide the canoe.


Hokule’a’s rudder lifted from the water


seeing how the Hokule’a tiller feels


traditional swim wear hung out to dry on the Hikianalia!


looking from deck down into a bunk room


only a flap of canvas to keep the crew dry!


in remembrance of Eddie and his great sacrifice for the Hokule’a and her crew





























Eddie Aikau was a renowned big wave surfer and the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay (Oahu, Hawai’i). In 1978, he joined the crew of the Hōkūleʻa. Sadly, at the start of the voyage, and just 12 miles south of Molokai, the Hōkūleʻa was overturned in nasty seas. Eddie attempted to paddle his surfboard to shore for help, but he was never seen again. Today, Eddie’s legend lives on, and throughout Hawai’i, the local saying “Eddie would go” helps many to face the impossible and to live with Aloha.



kauri cleat on Hikianalia from Waitangi, Aeotearoa (NZ)


engraved bird on the kauri wood cleat


symbols carved in wood on the Hokule’a


on Hikianalia ~ lava rock wrapped in ti leaves ~ a symbol for good luck


getting fishing tips from Hikianalia crew


checking out the Hikianalia crew quarters




























Words cannot express how truly incredible this experience was to us. We were the only cruising boat in the anchorage at Bourayne Bay. Seeing the Hōkūleʻa and her crew in such a personal setting, as well as the Hikianalia and Faafaite, couldn’t have been more special. Little did we know at this point in time, the Hōkūleʻa and the Hikianalia would continue to touch our lives in many ways as we continued our journey through Polynesia and the Pacific Ocean.


anchored in Bourayne Bay ~ quite literally the only cruising boat to be at this special event

street art in Honolulu ~ POW! WOW! x Hokule’a of Papa Mau Piailug, Master navigator













“In order to be a Navigator, you have to be fierce” ~ Mau Piailug

Watch “The Talk of the Sea Video” and learn more about the Hokule’a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

return to home page

Categories: newsworthy, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

huahine ~ heiva in fare

July 3 – 17, 2014

The overnight sail from Tahiti to Huahine was a good sail and completely uneventful. As the sun rose, so did the view of Huahine on the horizon. Due to our expiring visas the year before, we had to skip a visit to Huahine, and we were making up for it this year. Little did we know that during the 5 weeks we would spend there, Huahine and its people would come to hold a very special place in our hearts.

Huahine means woman ~ the mountains are the image of a pregnant woman

Huahine’s pregnant woman, as seen from the shores of Fare

[Huahine means woman, pregnant woman, or woman sex ~ the mountains are a profile image of a woman giving birth. Her head is far right, her breasts in the middle, and her pregnant tummy and outie belly button are far left. If this could be a panoramic shot, then one would be able to see her thighs spread, as though she were delivering her baby.]

Our first intention was to go directly to the southwestern anchorage in Baie d’Avea. However, after a chat with Steve (s/v Liward) on the morning SSB net, we learned that Liward was anchored in Fare. Once again, our destination changed. We dropped our sails, entered Passe Avapehi, and motored up to the village of Fare. As we approached the anchorage, a familiar voice over the VHF declared, “There goes the neighborhood!” It was Wayne from s/v Dances with Dragons who we’d just recently met in Tahiti. Such a funny guy!

Village Fare in Huahine

Village Fare in Huahine

Again, it was great to reunite with Liward. They immediately gave us all of the inside scoop for the area, especially about all of the upcoming Heiva festivities. They also informed us of a Fourth of July cookout that was being hosted by a local couple for the American boats in the anchorage. Lovina and Jean-Louis, who live on Huahine for about 6 months of the year, were so kind and generous to open their home to us, and throughout our stay in Huahine, they made us feel as though we were part of the community.

skim boarding in Fare while Lili (s/v Liward) reads in a hammock

skim boarding while Lili reads in a hammock

catching a good ride in Fare

catching a good ride in Fare


We also got to know Frederique who runs the Pacific Art gallery and boutique at the waterfront. Frederique was another person who made us feel at home in Huahine. A kind and generous woman, she doesn’t hesitate to help anyone in need. We enjoyed visiting with her in her store, she gave us a ride to Heiva dance competitions, and she also took Wil on a search for eggs.


a young Huahine boy enjoying an evening paddle

a young Huahine boy enjoying an evening paddle

Before ever leaving New Zealand, we were put in touch via email with another family also returning to French Polynesia. s/v Zingaya was in South Island and they were returning home to Raiatea. They departed New Zealand about a week after us, and after suffering through FIVE strong low pressure systems and a knockdown, they ended up sailing directly for Raiatea. (During the knockdown, the mom, who was tethered, had gone over the side, and their 13-year old daughter managed to stop the boat while her dad pulled mom back onboard! Then, they spent 2 days hove to while they cleaned up the boat.) We stayed in touch with them throughout the entire passage, as well as afterwards. We finally got to meet them in person when they stopped to visit us in Huahine on their way to the Tuamotus for a family vacation. They too have become friends for life!

Heiva in Huahine was one experience that will remain in our memories for a lifetime. Fare is the main village where most of the competitions are held. Villages from across the island compete against each other in various sports and crafts. The activities include va’a races, a fishing tournament, kite construction and flying, javelin throwing, fruit basket making, hut building, fruit carrying races, dancing, singing, a street parade, and the list goes on. There was more than enough to see and do.

some of the Heiva activities schedule

some of the Heiva activities



flags at the Fare waterfront ~ each color represents a village of Huahine












viewing tent for waterfront competitions



flags from left to right ~ French Polynesia, Tahiti over the United States, and France













The following photos are only a small representation of our Heiva experience. There are many, many photos, and it was extremely difficult to narrow them down. These are only thumbnails, so you’ll have to click on each photo to view its entirety.


Va’a Races:


Javelin Throw:


Hut Building:


Dancing & Singing:


Fruit Carrying Races:


Bastille Day Parade & Festivities:


For us, the best part about the whole Heiva experience was the fact that we were witnessing something very special taking place among the residents of Huahine. All of the festivities and celebrations were for themselves. We were a minority among the crowd, and we felt privileged to be there. Again, we felt very much a part of the community, especially when we’d attend the various events and run into people we knew. Huahine and her people will live within our hearts for the rest of our lives.

hanging out after the parade

watching the parade in Fare


a beautifully dressed man ~ common throughout French Polynesia

a beautifully dressed man ~ very common throughout French Polynesia










wearing a helmet, holding a pink purse, and drinking a juice box ~ a true dad!




return to home page



Categories: newsworthy, photos & poetry, travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

posting to resume!!


too fast for the lens

too fast for the lens







A long overdue post is on its way. Get ready to dive into Polynesian culture!!

return to home page

Categories: travel | 1 Comment

moorea, tahiti, moorea, tahiti ~ back & forth

June 1 – July 2, 2014

Ha’apiti, Moorea ~ crystal clear water & gorgeous mountain peaks

Even though s/v Liward was anchored in Baie d’Opunohu on Moorea’s north side, Steve and Lili rented a car and drove down to see us in Ha’apiti for the day. There were warm hugs all around when we picked them up at the stone wharf and dinghied them out to the boat. It was so good to see old friends from the previous season in French Polynesia. The last time we’d seen Steve and Lili was nearly a year earlier in the Tuamotus. They brought lunch for everyone (ham, tomato and emmental cheese with mustard on a baguette), and while Lili and I visited on the boat, Wil and Steve went to catch a few waves. By the end of the day, they had convinced us to move around to Baie d’Opunohu, so we could have a music jam session and meet another kid boat who also had musicians onboard. The following day, we did just that.

navigating the busy waters near Marina Taina

After 2 days in Ha’apiti, and 3 days in Opunohu, we were off to Tahiti to finalize our entry papers (a whole other story in itself!) and to do some re-provisioning. s/v Liward would be moving on toward Huahine and Raiatea, so just after a few days of catching up, it was already time to bid farewell. However, we had no definite plans, and Liward would eventually be returning to Tahiti, so it was quite possible we would bump into them again.

big boats Med moored at Marina Taina

When we arrived in the anchorage near Marina Taina, we were reminded of how little we like to anchor there. A swelly, deep anchorage where boats are anchored on top of each other. When the wind is up, boats drag. Also, regardless of wind speed, anchors frequently get tripped when another boat hauls its anchor to leave. On a day with absolutely no wind, s/v Outsider’s anchor was tripped while they were ashore for the day. They were anchored near us, and we noticed that their boat (a catamaran comparable in size to ourselves) was slowly drifting backwards. With Wil on our boat handling a line, and I in the dinghy pushing their boat, we managed to side-tie Outsider to our boat until Ian and Wendy returned. Justine had tried to raise them on the VHF, but with no luck. There are many moorings in the area, but they are not rated high enough for our tonnage.

Regardless of the craziness of the anchorage, we were quite excited about shopping at Carrefour again. Beautiful fresh produce, so many cheeses, baguettes, and chocolates! We started hearing cruisers on the SSB referring to the anchorage as Carrefour Bay . . . a very appropriate name we thought!

local boats at their moorings near Punaauia, Tahiti

About our entry papers. When we checked in with our agent,Tehani at Tahiti Crew, we discovered that our arrival papers from Tubuai had been lost. Both the agent and the gendarme in Tubuai had no record of our clearance into the country. Also, I had neglected to make copies before mailing our paper to Tahiti, so we had no papers onboard either. I always make copies of forms that need to be mailed, and this time I forgot! Fortunately, we had the stamp in our passport for proof. Although, we were wishing that there wasn’t a stamp, and we could just start the clearance from scratch for the date we arrived in Tahiti. Until officials could sort out how to handle our situation, we were not permitted to leave the Tahiti/Moorea area. Twist our arms! Read more »

Categories: cruising kids, nature & wildlife, travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

tubuai to moorea ~ only 3 days

May 30 – June 1, 2014

After a 19-day passage against the wind, one would think that a 3-day passage with a perfect wind on the beam would be a breeze. Where the boat was concerned, it was a perfect passage. As for Justine and I, we didn’t feel so great. And, in the fishing department, we had zero luck.

The beginning was slow to start with little to no wind, so we motor-sailed for the first part of a day. When we exited the reef pass early in the morning, we had hoped to catch fish along the reef, but the fish seemed to elude us. We fished for the entire 3 days and never caught a fish. That’s when we were reminded how, on our previous visit to French Polynesia, fishing had not been so grand in the waters near the Society Islands. After having experienced the Societies the previous year, it was easy to believe that this area has been over fished.

Once we found the wind, we had a beautiful 20 to 30 knot east wind with 2 to 3 meter waves. Both wind and waves were on the beam, and under reefed main and partial jib, the boat cruised easily in the 5 to 7 knot range. Best of all . . . there were no squalls.

With such perfect conditions, Justine and I were puzzled as to why we weren’t feeling so well. We couldn’t decide if we had a tummy bug or if we were seasick. We both had a nagging nausea that wouldn’t go away. Wil and Colin were fine, and Colin is usually the first to get seasick. The sickness lasted for the entire 3 days and until we dropped the hook. Very strange.

When we departed Tubuai, we thought we were destined for Tahiti. Our plan was to land on Tahiti Iti, and then work our way downwind toward Pape’ete. However, while underway from Tubuai, we re-established contact with our friends on s/v Liward. Steve and Lili had left Liward at Marina Taina for 6 months while they returned to the States to obtain a long stay visa for French Polynesia. They had recently returned to Liward and were headed for Moorea. After making plans to meet up with them, we altered course for Ha’apiti on the southwestern side of Moorea. We were looking forward to seeing them again, enjoying music jam sessions together, as well as some surf sessions, and catching up on the local scoop.

Moorea ~ anchored near Passe Matauvau looking toward Ha'apiti

We had just barely gotten the anchor in the sand when we received a call over the VHF from a New Zealand boat in the anchorage, s/v Bandit. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we’d been on the same SSB net back on the Atlantic side, but we’d never met in person. Not more than a day later, I received an email from Andrew of s/v Eye Candy, organizer of the Magellan Net, saying that he’d heard news of a catamaran named Full Monty that had just returned to French Polynesia, and was this true?

Just how amazing is that?! It definitely doesn’t take long for word to spread on the whereabouts of a boat and her crew! One might think they are far away in some remote part of the world, but with the cruisers’ network, people are going to know where you are . . . something that can be a comfort when so far from home or help. For ourselves, after having said good-bye to our buddy boats of the past year, it was nice to know that we would be bumping into the next season of boats that were crossing the Pacific, many of whom we were either already familiar with or already knew.

For now, the anchor was down and we were ready for a good night’s sleep.

Moorea known for her gorgeous pinnacles


Moorea's peaks rise as high as 1207 meters



return to home page

Categories: passages, travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

tubuai ~ rest & recuperation

May 21 – 30, 2014

looking across the lagoon to Tubuai's northern side

Tubuai, the administrative center for the Austral Islands, is known as the “fruit bowl and veggie bin” of French Polynesia. With fertile soil and a temperate climate, the island is capable of growing carrots, potatoes, cabbage, leeks, watermelon, pineapple, and lychees. However, only some of the produce is consumed on the island. Most fruit and veggies are sent via cargo ship to the markets in Pape’ete, Tahiti. Therefore, while we had been excited about the possibility of unlimited produce, when the time came, we were only able to find a few basics at the roadside stands.

There was a lot that we should have explored while we were in Tubuai. Instead, we went into a type of hibernation mode. We were exhausted from the passage, and our land legs weren’t returning as quickly as they normally do. Also, from the time we had started cruising nearly two years prior, and up until now, our lives had been non-stop, doing passages, exploring islands and cultures, and socializing with buddy boats. While we thoroughly enjoyed absolutely all of it, we just needed to stop. We needed rest, recuperation, and some time for our family to just be together without concern for anything else. Tubuai satisfied that need for us.

always happy to decorate a cake


why the shirt on the head? . . . we don't know!











Colin’s 12th birthday was two days after our arrival. We made plans to celebrate his birthday anchored near a lone, little sandy island called Motu One. This little sand mound turned into our most favorite spot, and we would have happily stayed there indefinitely. There was plenty of anchoring room with respect to coral heads and the water was gorgeous. Along with a little swimming, snorkeling, and motu exploration, the birthday celebration was a full day of junk food consumption. Justine made doughnuts for breakfast, and because we’d eaten such a late breakfast, lunch consisted solely of Doritos. Homemade pizza and birthday cake were a must for dinner.

Motu One (pronounced Onay) ~ a sandbar that became our favorite

While we did some walking on the main island, most of our exploration took place in the lagoon. As par for our norm, we explored outside the main marked channels. We spent quite a few days dodging coral bombies just to find an anchorage that was the remotest of remote.

the airport at Pointe Teonemarua ~ the northwestern tip of Tubuai

One day, we couldn’t find a safe spot to anchor for the night, and we were running out of daylight. Therefore, we anchored near the point where the airport was located. It was a great sandy spot, but the current was strong. Using the current to our advantage, we improved our swim endurance by attempting to swim from stern to bow. My heart raced and my lungs burned, but it felt good to exert the energy.

Later that same evening, it was dark and we were winding down for the night. Suddenly, we heard a crash at the bow that vibrated the boat, and then the sound of voices. Wil turned on the deck light and went forward. As they clung to the bow of our boat in wind fetched waves, some fishermen in a small, metal boat were drunk and looking for more liquor. They only spoke in French, and Wil was having a difficult time speaking with them with his limited words. The fishermen were persistent in their quest.

Nervously, I went forward to help communicate. With an understanding of the Polynesian culture, I explained to the men that we were a family with children, and we did not have anything to drink. Suddenly, their tune changed. The guys apologized for bothering us and insisted that we take one of their meals. We declined, but they insisted. By the time they motored away, we had a freshly prepared, warm tray of food in our hands. We surely didn’t expect that outcome!

Motu Toena ~ the northeast side of Tubuai's lagoon ~ coral heads are easy to spot

When we did find little remote spots, we felt like we had the whole world to ourselves. We swam, snorkeled, and took walks along the water’s edge. We soaked up every ounce of warmth that we’d missed.

through the escape hatch to the bottom below


keel & waterline through the escape hatch









Our anchor spot near Motu Toena was a bit tight quartered with the coral heads, and we were reminded of a valuable lesson. After an intense trek across the lagoon that required a keen eye for coral heads, as well as several sharp, last-second turns, we were looking forward to dropping the hook and relaxing. However, when we arrived at Motu Toena, swinging room between the coral heads was nearly non-existent. In order to solve our problem, we situated ourselves with respect to wind and coral heads, and ran a stern line to a tree on the shore. With both bow and stern adjusted to an appropriate scope and tightness, it appeared that we were good for the night . . . or so we thought.

at Motu Toena ~ anchored with a stern line tied to shore to keep us off the coral bombies

That night, the wind shifted sooner than expected. Just before turning in for the night, Wil went up to check on our situation, and found that the boat was sitting next to a large coral bombie. We weren’t touching it, but it was far too close for comfort. After assessing our situation, we finally decided to ease out the stern line and shorten the anchor scope. This brought us to a comfortable distance from the coral, but now we had a shorter scope to the anchor. During the line adjustment process, a small black tip shark stopped by to see what was going on, but quickly swam away. We didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night while we listened for any signs of stronger wind. Fortunately, everything remained fine until morning, and it didn’t take us long to pull up anchor and return to a more comfortable setting.

The lesson learned? One should do their best not to place themselves in an anchoring situation where they can’t escape during the night. There was no way our recorded track would have been accurate enough to guide us out between the coral heads. If the wind had picked up, there is no way we wouldn’t have touched a bombie or few. We knew better than to do this, but we were just out to have some fun. Thank goodness we didn’t have to learn the hard way.

a sight to see the keels so close to the sand!


small trunk fish amidst the green



a cabbage-like coral


coral heads rise up from the depths










loving the warm, clear water





lots to see in one spot


giant clam & sea urchin










contrasting colors


snorkeling in the lagoon




Blue-Green Chromis or Green Damselfish ~ these shy fish always retreat into the coral simultaneously







In hindsight, we should have stayed and explored the island of Tubuai some more. This was most likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we should have cherished it more. However, after 10 days of rest, we felt refreshed and ready to move north toward the Society Islands. The Australs are still far enough south of the equator where they receive stronger storms from low pressure systems, and they’re a bit cooler than the rest of French Polynesia. We were just ready to go . . . and we had a good wind to carry us.

return to home page

Categories: cruising kids, nature & wildlife, travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

new zealand to french polynesia ~ against the wind

added note: While this is another one of my lengthy posts, it is more for our own record and memory of the passage. But hopefully, many of you will enjoy it regardless. For those of you who prefer a shortened version, most days are titled with some highlights.

May 2 – 20, 2014

Day 1: leaving on a Friday

The morning was an eery calm as we approached the dock at Marsden Cove Marina. Except for one boat returning from sea, no other boats were on the move. This was the calm before the storm. The large low pressure system that would give us a lift was on its way to New Zealand.

It was also a Friday. According to superstition, never start a passage on a Friday. However, for us, our best passages always seem to begin on Fridays. Maybe this would be the case this time too. After receiving our clearance papers from the Customs officer, and submitting a photo of our boat for search and rescue purposes, we were on our way.

At 1330, we pulled away from the dock and began our journey to the east. The sea was glassy calm as we motor-sailed away from New Zealand. At sunset, and with a fading coastline behind us, pods of common dolphins came to bid us farewell. They had welcomed us when we arrived, and now they were with us as we were leaving.

Bream Head, North Island, NZ

a fading NZ coastline ~ she will be missed









on May 3rd (utc) ~ the Large Low Pressure as forecast for May 10th

Day 2: waiting for the wind

With the engine finally off, we sailed slowly on calm seas. There were plenty of things to see: a small Albatross, a funnel cloud in the distance, floating pumice, a visiting Martin, and lots of teeny, tiny Man of Wars floated past. We remembered seeing hundreds of tiny Man of Wars on our way to New Zealand (about 2 days away from NZ, with very little wind, and we’d caught a tuna.) Now we were seeing these creatures again, at about the same distance from New Zealand, only this time we caught a Mahi Mahi! This must be a special place.

by passage end, only the Sweet Basil survived

The night became a glassy, flat calm with absolutely zero wind. There was no point in motoring. We had a lot of miles to cover. Also, we didn’t want to get too far ahead of the approaching Low pressure system and miss our free ride. For 12 hours, we dropped the sails and waited for the wind. This was against advice from my Dad and friend, Bob. It was advised that we motor northward as fast as we could. More dolphins came for a visit.

Day 3: first problem

Under sail once again, more Albatross were seen and the air temperature was getting warmer. I baked banana bread and made pumpkin soup.

As the seas started to grow, our first problem appeared. Leaky escape hatch seals. A fine time to discover that the new seals didn’t fit properly. We would have to keep sopping up the water from under the floor grate in order to keep things in check. This chore would have to take place a few times a day.

an Albatross resting on the water

Day 4:

Sailing along at 4 to 7 knots in choppy seas. After sailing northeasterly to properly position ourselves for the northern edge of the Low pressure, it was finally time to go east and hope to catch our ride.

Cooked prior to the passage, we had chicken and dumplings for dinner.

The seas became more bumpy and confused near Colville Ridge, about 200 miles NE of Whangarei.

Continuing to sponge water from the escape hatches.

Day 5:

A 5-knot wind was from northerly to variable, so we motor-sailed with one engine at low rpms to maintain a SOG of 3.5 knots. Seas were NE with a 2 to 3 meter long period swell. 95% cloud cover. We took advantage of the calm conditions to make water and take showers. Mac & Cheese for dinner.

Part of an email written by me to my Dad and friend, Bob, who were assisting us with weather forecasts.

. . . the LLP (Large Low Pressure) may not come up to 30S, and we’d like to have at least 25 kts of wind on our stern for a slingshot, we are easing up on our rush to get north. We are currently faced with getting across the Kermadec Ridge and Trench before seas get larger, so for now a more easterly track would help that situation. We aim to avoid various ridges and sea mounts. Once across the trench, we will adjust our course to whatever latitude necessary.

. . . a possible tropical low pressure developing near Vanuatu may make it’s way SE after the weekend. Based on this preliminary information, I’d like us to stay as low as we can tolerate with the LLP and get the fastest boost eastward that we can, putting ourselves “across the tracks” before the Tropical Low (TL) gets to our area . . . assuming the TL stays on the usual SE path that they seem to take this time of year.

We got a perfect little surprise boost. Winds became steady just forward of the beam, and we cruised at an easy 6 to 7 knots for about 12 hours. Then, sadly it was gone.

our new secondhand jib ~ the best New Zealand souvenir ever!

Day 6: a shooting star on a cloudy night?

We saw a big Albatross and some Petrels. As we crossed the Kermadec Ridge, the seas became quite confused before every change in ridge level. Eventually, we crossed ridge and then the trench. The trench was smooth until just before exiting from the deeper waters.

The frontal system that passed over us today, turned into a “non-event”. After a brief puff of wind to 25, the wind dropped and the rain poured. Gave us a chance to scrub the cockpit! Eventually, the wind settled into N-NNW 15-20 knots. For the rest of the day we were maintaining 6 to 7 knots of speed, sometimes seeing over 8 knots.

Watching a small and fast moving low pressure system from our NW. It will determine whether we need any major course adjustments. At this time, sailing through this LP system looks do-able. However, we will watch for early intensifying.

A ship passed 9 miles away from us. Leftovers and fish for dinner. Still sponging water from the escape hatches.

With a cloudy sky and no stars visible, Wil saw a large “shooting star” burn up below cloud level. Meteorite or space junk? Yikes!! Do meteorites float? Maybe what we think is pumice is really rocks from space!

Day 7: a guest for the night

The kids slept until after 10 a.m.! Big pumice pieces floated past (or maybe space rocks!), and dozens of Petrels were skimming the waves. A funny “sulfur land” smell entered our noses. It’s quite possible we were smelling the Kermadec Islands about 150 miles to our northwest. Or maybe the development of a new island? Hmmm.

A little Martin stopped by for a rest. During its search for a place to sit, the bird briefly flew into the salon. Once out again, we kept the doors closed for the remainder of the bird’s visit. It perched itself on top of our bell next to the salon doors, and stayed through the entire night. Even my attempted stealth-like, but clumsy, comings and goings for horizon checks and sail adjustments never disturbed it. Wil managed his entire night watch by only needing to peek his head out the main hatch for his horizon checks, never having to go outside.

Day 8: going back in time

This morning, after a thorough wash of its wings and feathers, the bird was on its way again.

Today, we crossed the International Dateline. When we woke up, it was Friday, May 9th. Now, it’s Thursday, May 8th.

Winds are expected to gradually increase over the next few days, as well as wave height. We’re expecting to see about 5 meter waves during the peak, but they will be long period and following . . . should be a fun ride!

Day 9:

Nothing major to report . . . we hope. We had a great radio contact with s/v Elcie who is sailing 150 miles to our west. They departed New Zealand about 4 days after us, and they are on their way to the Southern Cook Islands.

Shepherd’s Pie for dinner. Rain squalls in the night. Sponging duties continue.

on May 10th (utc) ~ the Large Low Pressure not expanding as far north as predicted

Day 10:

Warm homemade coconut bread with butter and jam. Coconut bread with peanut butter and Nutella. Yes, we’re eating fine!

The kids played Trivia with the girls on s/v Elcie over the SSB.

A very rainy, squally night with winds from all directions.

Day 11 (Mother’s Day): surprises, the good and the smelly

After a continuation of the squally night, the wind has now settled to 15 to 18 knots out of the SW. Westerly seas are a 4 meter long period swell . . . the kind of swells that put you on top of the world! With partly sunny skies, we’re sailing at about 6 knots and on a course of 78 degrees true.

We think we’ll roughly head for 29 S / 160 W, about 3 days away. Then, we will make the attempt for a NE course for our final destination of Rurutu. Of course, it’s anyone’s game right now.

Just had a lovely Mother’s Day surprise . . . I went out for a horizon check, and a Pilot Whale surfaced next to me. At that point, I wasn’t sure whether I was seeing a very large dolphin or a small whale. I was rendered speechless. Wil happened to look out the galley port just at that same moment, and he yelled, “Dolphin!” Everyone ran out on deck and couldn’t figure out why I was just standing there, not saying a word. Then, two whales surfaced again, and then we saw the whole pod. It was so cool! We think we’ve identified them as Long Fin Pilot Whales.

We have been in daily SSB contact with Elcie now. They are probably about 80 miles from us by now, but we will never see them.

After being so packed with food, there is finally a dent in the freezer. We’ll probably resume fishing very soon.

Only about 900 miles to go as the crow flies, but with the tacking and headwinds to come, we could easily add 100+ miles to that. Both exhilarating and depressing! This is a time when we must go with the flow . . . to expect anything and have no expectations.

A rainbow appeared together with the moon.

I had just begun my night watch when I was suddenly hit in the chest by a large flying fish. It bounced off me and landed in the cockpit. After the slimy bugger escaped my grasp several times, I finally managed to happily return it to the ocean. Wil and Colin had been watching the scene through the salon doors. Once all was clear, they opened the doors, but they were quick to let me know just how badly I smelled! A squeeze of lime on the hands, after they’re washed, helps diminish the everlasting fish odor.

Sailing nicely and relatively close hulled with 15 to 20 knots of wind.

Day 12: trying not to lose another escape hatch

During the wee hours of the morning, the a SE wind grew to 30 knots, and the 4 meter seas quickly became short period. Our bodies remained tense with every slam and shutter of the boat in the waves. We tried to stay on an easterly course, but by 4:30 a.m. it came time to ease the strain on boat and crew, and we turned the downwind with just a smidgeon of jib out. One escape hatch handle bracket broke due to vibration of not having a thick enough seal. Wil has placed a tourniquet of sorts on handle to help hold up the hatch, but there’s a greater gap for water to enter at a faster rate. Now, we must sponge it hourly, as well as maintain a slower boat speed and a smoother angle to the waves to reduce slamming. Presently, we’re sailing quite comfortably, although quite a bit slower.

Wind is currently SE 20 to 30 knots and the 4 meters seas remain rough out of the west.

We will continue on a N to NNE course until the vicinity of 25 S / 160 W. At which time, the winds are forecast to clock to a more northerly direction, allowing us to make some easting again. In the meantime, once the seas subside to a point where we can open the escape hatch long enough without taking in a bunch of water, we will get a line around it and secure it. We don’t want to worry about losing it . . . again! Oh, the fun!

The kids had another wonderful game of Trivia with Elcie over the radio waves.

Day 13: others with troubles

The sun is shining and our spirits are up. Seas are calming.

Sad news was received. Catamaran s/v One World sank just 20 miles from Brisbane on their way to Australia. Captain and crew were safely rescued at night by a freighter. Also, catamaran s/v Escape Velocity had been dismasted about 400 miles into their trip from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. They were able turn back and return to Central America.

Pancakes for dinner.

Day 14:

The entire crew was put to work on bucket brigade for a cockpit cleaning. We chatted with s/v Saliander on the SSB. The kids’ Trivia game was cancelled because signal reception was not good.

Day 15: a new destination chosen

As squalls were approaching last night, we noticed where the sky seemed less squally to our SE. At the same time, a grib file indicated a sooner switch to N winds, if we went a little S. Therefore, we tacked to the SE, and gradually over the course of the night, we have been able to come closer to an easterly course. The seas are so mixed up, it doesn’t matter how close-hulled we are. We also managed to avoid all squalls. Yay!!! Patting ourselves on the back for that strategic move.

We will continue sailing as tight to the wind as comfortably possible, and clock from an easterly course to our rhumb line course as the wind permits. We believe our final destination has changed to Tubuai, a little further east. Rurutu doesn’t have adequate anchorages for unsettled weather, but Tubuai has a reef-protected lagoon. We don’t want to be forced to leave due to weather just after we get there.

We feel like we’re stuck in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day movie. After every sleep, we wake up and do it all over again. We may spruce up the day with some frigid bucket showers on the transom. The kids played another round of Trivia over the air waves with Elcie.

Wind is NNW 12 to 15 knots, and the seas are a mixed up 2 meters. Our course is 100 degrees true with 4 to 4.5 knots SOG.

The moon was shining, but it disappeared behind the clouds. We’ve had our fair share of squalls. Fortunately, they’ve been mostly rain with only wind to 25 knots. Tired of adjusting sails, so we dropped all sails, turned on a motor, and hunkered down inside with an eye on the radar.

Day 16:

Squalls until morning. A salt-free boat today!

No wind, so we’re motor-sailing. Making good easting.

Played card game, Skip-Bo.

Day 17:

Much warmer, but still a cool breeze. We’ve opened the hatches.

We got a bonus wind today. Thought we would be motoring, but instead got to sail at 6 knots for most of the day. It’s slowly dropping off tonight, and we expect to be motoring later tonight and through tomorrow.

We feel like we’re in the home stretch. Doing our best to make landfall by the 20th, but know that it most likely will be the 21st. Colin really doesn’t want to celebrate his birthday while under way, so we’re just squeaking in!

We’re taking daily position reports from s/v Saliander over the SSB. They are on passage from Hawaii to Alaska, also about a 2000 mile stretch. It’s amazing that we’re speaking boat to boat over such a huge distance! Always great talking to them.

My gall bladder has been having periodic twinges over the past week. Nothing painful, I just know that something is there and experience an occasional slight discomfort. Sometimes it hurts to lay on my right side. I’m trying to stay hydrated, eat well, and also take an occasional vitamin.

Worked on re-sewing our French flag. Motored on flat calm. Had a movie night.

Day 18:

Another warm day. Another nice calm day.

Day 19:

In the early morning, we were able to sail at 7 to 9 knots. Today, we discovered that Colin has not had a shower for 2 weeks!

northern side of Tubuai ~ Austral Island, French Polynesia

Day 20: LAND-HO!

As we sailed toward the reef surrounding Tubuai, we made a plan for where to fish before entering the reef pass. Just as I looked up and saw a Frigate Bird circling overhead, a Mahi Mahi made a mad dash for our hook. We were thrilled for the entire battle of pulling in the fish, and then at the last moment before boarding, it shook the hook. We were slack in our technique and should have known better. Oh well.

When the engines were started, the starboard engine didn’t put out water. Wil was able to quickly clear the blocked line.

an excellent bombie spotter from his perch!


flying the French flag once again












Navigating the reef entrance and the channel to the village of Mataura was straightforward. There is only one other cruising sailboat in the anchorage. Anchor down at 12:15 p.m. local time.

The sound of stillness and an incredible sense of accomplishment. We just sailed 2200 miles of what was supposed to be our toughest passage to date, and it had turned into our best passage yet! I still believe in the ingredients for this passage’s success: savvy sailors, a good onshore weather/radio team, good sailing tactics, a whole lot of luck, and a guardian angel.

Time for lunch and our traditional clink of beer bottles before we’re off to find the local agent and Gendarmerie.

Marsden Cove to Tubuai ~ Plotted Course (black line) vs Actual Course (blue pins)

weather forecast for the day after we anchored

return to home page

Categories: living aboard, nature & wildlife, navigation, passages, weather | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment