Saturday, June 27, 2015

Playing Race Course Catch Up

We entered the Tahiti to Moorea Rendezvous rally put on by the Tahiti tourism bureau. There were something like 70 boats enrolled, most all had done the Pacific crossing this year. It was a rally, but with sails up it meant it was also a race. We had a bit of a late time leaving the docks in Papeete and showed up to the starting line about 5 minutes after our start. The early morning had started out with no wind but by the time we were at the start it was blowing 20-25kts. A nice beam reach almost all the way. We had John and Lisa onboard and managed to pass a bunch of boats to take second place in the 44ft and under category, coming in behind a J/120 Felicita..
  mooreaIMG_1272 Here’s the carved black pearl oyster shell we got as race hardware – ready for the trophy case. Even more important was the bottle of pineapple champagne that came with it.
AndyTurpin-681 We didn’t do so well racing in the outriggers, but we still managed to squeeze by our friends on Continuum.
mooreaDSC_0379 None of our hardy crew was willing to try the knife dance, even after a few rum drinks.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Back In the Big City - Papeete

We are in the new downtown marina in Papeete, Tahiti, ‘Marina Papeete’. It is located right downtown on the old quay. One busy place – motorcycles, euro ambulance sirens, lots of traffic noise- which we haven’t heard since leaving Panama. But they are building a nice new embarcadero walkway along the waterfront. This is the view from the top of our mast. That’s the new marina on the left, the container port on the right and the island of Moorea in the background. We’ll be sailing over to Moorea on Saturday with a bunch of boats for the Tahitti-Moorea Rendezvous. Brother and sister-in-law, John and Lisa, will be joining us. Should be fun.
You can get most anything you want here in Papeete if you are willing to pay for it. Everything is steep. We had a meal at the low-cost roulettes that park a few blocks from here. They are very organized roach-coach diners with tables out front. There was probably 20 coaches to choose from when we went. Two hamburgers and a large home-brewed cider cost about $35. The atmosphere is good at least, very laid back with lots of locals, couples and families.
papeeteIMG_1211 That brings me to why I was up the mast to take the top picture. If you look at this picture you’ll notice that something is wrong. We were sailing along nicely downwind to Tahiti when the boat all of a sudden slowed way down. It turns out that’s what happens when the big headsail falls in the water. The halyard holding it up chafed through, at about 15 feet into the mast.
So now that we’re in the marina, we can repair it. You can buy quality German line here. And if the bill is over US$300, then they will do the customs paperwork for you to avoid the tax, cutting the cost by 16%. Yes, the new halyard costs more than $300.
We’re busy with boat repairs and clean-up right now. We’ll be re-provisioning and re-fueling for another 5 month run before we leave here. A lot of work yet to be done but we do get some time away to peruse the big open-air market for goodies- fruits and veggies which we haven’t had access to for awhile, fresh fish, baguettes and  tropical flowers, traditional leis and head pieces. Oh, and Chris has noticed that there are “Tahitian” pearls in every store window.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Out of the Water

This is a sign on the side of a building in Fakarava telling yachties that they are not allowed to bring in genetically mutant giant cats and dogs into French Polynesia. At least not without a veterinary inspection first. (Sorry the photo isn’t better, but we thought it was too hilarious to not post.)
fakaravaIMG_1145 The town at the south end of Fakarava used to be the administrative capital of the Tuamotus. Now it is not much more than a couple of dive shops and some small ‘resort’ cottages for rent to the visiting divers. This is the old jail house.
fakaravaIMG_1149 The old 1874 coral church is still in good shape. It has in-laid oyster shell in its facade.
fakaravaIMG_1152 A couple of the cottages for rent; overhanging the water for a great view of the fish.
fakaravaIMG_1116 The number of pearl farms seems to be going down in the Tuamotus due to economic reasons. The stack of balls on the left side of these pearl farm buildings are the floats that hold up the frames that the black-lip oysters grow on.
Chris’ peacock colored pearl necklace haul.
These hermit crabs are devouring a coconut that they have clawed into. We have a good book that helps identify Pacific island reef creatures. For the crabs, the first thing you need to do is determine if it is a left-handed crab or a right-handed crab. There’s no explanation of this in the book, but it turns out to mean does the crab have a larger left claw or right claw. I’m still not sure on these guys, but I think they are left-handed.
fakaravaNIMG_1204 When we were leaving through the north pass at Fakarava this mega-sail-yacht was on its way in. The question I have is it a mega-yacht or is it an aircraft carrier? If you click on the photo to enlarge it you should be able to see the plane that sits on the stern of the yacht M5.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Skin Diving Fakarava

We are continuing our shark desensitivity training. The pass at south Fakarava is known for its collection of sharks. They cruise around in the current waiting for fish to get swept in with the current for their lunches. There’s stories of dangerous breeds of sharks like tigers and bulls being in the pass. We only saw the black-tip, white-tip and grey sharks that are not likely to mess with a human morsel. I still wonder about the possibility of a young-adult psychopath going nuts on a few tourists. Growing up in Florida I learned the shark rules ditty about when they feed: 10 to 3, can’t bite me. So I’m always careful when I see a shark looking at its watch.
fakaravaP6020214 The collection of other fish on the reefs that line the pass are pretty impressive. They range from the small, colorful, typical reef fish like these Masked Bannerfish… 
To this monstrous Napoleon fish (or Bumphead Wrasse). These guys get to be as long as 7 1/2 feet. Not sure how big this one is, but I know he weighs a lot.
Here’s the same napoleon fish with Chris in the background filming with her GoPro to help show the size. That’s one big fish. And he was curious about the snorkelers.
A Golden Trumpetfish hanging head down so no one will recognize him and he can snap up unwary passersby.
A big Grouper checking out the photographer.
A Moray eel suggesting that she owns this nest.
Blacktip shark coming to close to a snorkeler for a photo op.
A Pineapple Sea Cucumber grazing on the coral.
fakaravaP6040289 A version of a unicorn fish that doesn’t have the unicorn spike.
I finally got a decent picture of these odd unicorn fish – proving that Unicorns do exist. They always seem to be running away from me. You can see the unicorn horn sticking off its head. Not sure what they use the evolutionary tool for.
fakaravaP6030232 Some pretty corals too.
A starfish hanging onto some coral
This is taken passing the piers near the side of the inner pass with the in-coming current. Blue Damselfish showing off their colors.
fakaravaP6020179 Important advice: let sleeping sharks lie.