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Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

We had a wonderful dinner with the Peasleys from Imagine the other night. In fact, Andy and Frank, Sandy, Emma and I have all found that we truly were meant to meet because we just fell right into step with one another. We call Sandy Wonder Woman because she can do just about anything, and is teaching us how-to's. She, Emma and I plan to embark on a girls outing (to shop of course!), whilst the boys do guy stuff around the boats. Andy is no slouch either. We are trading books and movies and recipes – and of course best of all, sailing (war) stories! It is so nice to know we are not the only ones who do stupid boat things and experience zany mishaps.

We are still in the marina awaiting the return of our dinghy and our water-maker pump. Frank is diligently combing through marine catalogues searching for needed supplies that we are having shipped to our fiends, the Martins, who are coming to visit in July. Lord, I hope our boat is in ship-shape before they arrive! Actually we must have everything back in order before this weekend. We have registered for a yacht rally – the Tahiti Moorea Sailing Rendezvous on 7/27 & 28. It is a rally to Moorea, including all kinds of festivities to welcome cruisers and to introduce us to Polynesian culture. We have agreed to have a local couple join us on our boat so that they can experience our lifestyle; therefore we need things working properly. We have found that nearly everyone else is dealing with some kind of repair or maintenance issue. It's just like owning a car or a home on land. Responsibility comes with everything – even in retirement.

The weather here has been beautiful, every few days we get a good rain shower, then some high winds and blue skies. There is a perpetual black thunderhead that hovers over the high mountainous point of the island, much like in Maui, but seems far away all the same. Sometimes we sit on the back porch (deck), and jut watch the waves crashing over the barrier reef that protects this island, amazed that we are safely tucked inside while the sea rages just beyond the coral heads. Our "porch" has become a gathering spot for passers-by. Folks wander down with a drink in their hand or with some local goody and soon we have a regular little meet and greet going on. There's Bob from Boomerang (from Lakewood Yacht Club back home), Joe from Syren, Andreas from Otis, Jamie and Christine from Talisman, Andy, Sandy and Emma from Imagine, Helen and Charlie from Nomad, and the list goes on. I think often of friends and family back home and remember a little song from my childhood: "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold". Common bonds, common threads weave our lives and continue to create the tapestry that gives us these wonderful memories and experiences. Frank and I are still living a dream, and like dreams it remains everchanging and evolving. We talk of the difficulties we have had and realize that this is how we learn and grow and appreciate. We are bonding in a way that we never had before, although we have always felt that we are soul-mates.

OK, I'm getting lost I my philosophical meanderings. This life is conducive to that you know. It actually helps me stay connected with my spiritual side as well. We have much to be thankful for and acknowledge that on a daily basis. Maruru!
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ia Orana from Tahiti!

June 19, 2008

Time just flies these days.  We have been in Tahiti for a week now and have seen the marina area and downtown for the most part, trying to get spare parts, get cleared with the Port Captain, get laundry done, and handle repairs.   Quite by happenstance we got a spot in the marina and it is a prime location very close to the entrance on the main dock, so the repairmen can just drive their trucks right up to our boat.  Of course being on the main drag, there isn't much privacy since everyone who walks by can see everything we are doing.  The upside to that is we get to see everyone who comes and goes because they pass right by us.  It's great if you want to be a nosey neighbor!  Frank's favorite pastime when he has a break is to sit on deck and people watch.  Sometimes I call him, "Gladys Cravitz" (did you ever watch Bewitched?), because he spies on people and reports to me what they are doing.  So funny!


We have become fast friends with Joe and Adrienne whose boat is named "Syren".  We met Joe in Rangiroa.  He is sailing with crew, while his wife and son are staying back home in Oregon (long story and not ours to tell). They flew here to meet him for a little vacation. We have gone to dinner a few times and I have so enjoyed having a female friend to talk to and with whom I can relate.  We did a fabulous seafood buffet and Polynesian show together one night.  The food…Oh My Gosh!...was incredible!  One station, for example had platters full of lobsters, Lobster Thermador, sashimi, raw oysters, shrimp, etc.  I won't go on and on although I could – it far surpassed the buffet at Rangiroa which is hard to believe.  Then the show was world class.  The dancers literally blew us away.  What a treat it was indeed.  After we all waddled out of there we swore we would never eat that much again – oh yeah!  Right-on!


I inquired about laundry and found that as in previous places I cannot do my own, although there are coin-op machines here, a lady sits in the laundry room and collects 1,000 CPF (francs) from you per load to wash your stuff.  That comes to about $14/load.  Then you have to dry your own clothes for 100 CPF per 7 minutes.  The trick is that she does laundry for the big yachts (wash AND dry) so you have to get in line for the one dryer that works, which is only available after she gets done with her clients' laundry.   The only alternative to this is to bag your things up and take a bus downtown, but I heard they charge by the kilo and it is quite a hassle.  Again I say, How dare anyone trash-talk the good old USA!  I just hand wash our smaller items and give our heavier and dirtier clothes along with the towels and sheets to the laundry woman.  Needless to say we use towels and sheets longer in between washes than we ever did back home, because we aren't always lucky enough to find laundry services.  This is only the second time we've had access since leaving Mexico!  Do I sound a little bit whiney?  A girl's gotta vent somehow!


More 411 – there is a huge grocery store, Carrefour, just a 500 yard walk from here.  To use a grocery cart, you deposit 100 francs – like at the airport it is returned to you when you return the cart.  I think this is great! You don't have grocery carts sitting all around the parking lot and elsewhere.  We can even wheel the cart all the way back to the marina and right up to our boat.  There is a cart return at the end of the dock. It is very well organized and efficient.  We continue to experience "sticker shock", however.  The prices are so over the top that we have to shop carefully.  We noticed that lots of people carried bags into the store and thought they were just real eco-friendly.  When we got to the check-out line the girl ran our items through and they just sat at the end of the counter.  We kept standing there waiting for someone to bag them.  Ha! Bag them?  Oh no – you buy a bag and put them in yourself.  We feel like the Clampetts here!  When locals see us coming, they probably mutter to themselves, here come the Tahiti-hillbillies!


We are learning some of the local verbiage, for instance, Io ora na is "hello or good morning".  Maruru is "thank you".  Nana is "goodbye".  Visitors are expected to at least get that much down.  The locals use a mixture of Polynesian and French, and they really appreciate that we try our best to use their words.


We got news from back home that my nephew's surgery this past Monday was a large success.  The doctor told my sis and bro-in-law that they were able to accomplish much more reconstruction than they had hoped to and things are looking good for Tre.  It really is a miracle, and I thank God for that. He is now enduring a very painful and long term recovery.  Thank you for your outpouring of prayers for him.  They have been felt.  


Last night we finally ran into Sandy and Andy from Imagine, and made dinner plans for tonight.  Time to say, Nana! And go get ready.
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Goodbye Rangiroa, Hello Tahiti!

We made the afternoon dive in Rangiroa on the 10th.  What an experience!  They take you in a Zodiac inflatable through the pass to the outside of the atoll where the current is strong and the waves were crashing over us in the little boat.  We loved it - it reminded us of our rafting trip in Canada riding the rapids.  A couple of the other divers seemed somewhat tense and uneasy during the ride. The inflatable was tossing all about and here we are trying to get our equipment secured onto our bodies, yet when we dropped into the water it was so nice and calm, like an underwater sanctuary with crystal clear visibility, exploding in a myriad of colors.   We enjoyed a beautiful drift dive with many contrasting colors and formations of coral and lots of very colorful fish of all sizes, just bobbing in the current along with us.  Many were new to us so we plan to purchase a book of fish of the South Pacific in order to identify them on our next dive.  A group of dolphins came along, literally playing and frolicking swimming around the group upside down and performing underwater acrobatics for us.  They are real hams!  The dive master played with them a bit.  Then we got to feed a sea turtle and saw another one just hanging out as though he didn't notice us at all.  They are just so un-intimidated by us.  Frank saw a big Manta ray although I missed it fiddling with my buoyancy problem (I wasn't carrying enough weight to stay comfortably down with an air leak in the equipment I was using).  At the end of the dive they shoved us up onto the side of the Zodiac and we belly surfed back into the boat, sliding into piled up equipment – all very gracefully executed as you can imagine. Back on board, the dive master pointed out to Frank that his BCD is leaking as well.  Guess we need some new equipment!  Our stuff is relatively old.   They dropped us off back on Destiny and we spent the afternoon tidying up and preparing for an early departure on Wed. for Tahiti.

June 11th watching the tide tables and checking the Grib files we decided to leave from the Avaturo pass which carries less of a current than the Tiputa, through which we had arrived, hitting it by 6:30 AM.  It was just another walk in the park for us.  Timing is everything in these coral atolls and barrier reefed islands. The sail over to Tahiti was some 200 NM, which we planned to cross in about 30 to 36 hours.  We left with several others so had radio buddies during the passage.  The winds were fantastic and for most of the voyage we were getting about 7 – 8 knots SOG (speed over ground).  We reefed in both sails a few times when the winds got up over 20 knots, and after an uneventful overnighter, we entered Tahiti's Papeete port at around 12:30 PM, on the 12th.  We dropped anchor in the bay just outside Marina Taina.  Wow!  This is a bustling place!  There are several very large 150 ft + sailing yachts in the marina.  The beam on a couple is wider than the length of some of the sailboats we have seen around.  When we arrived the seas in the anchorage were pretty rough and rocky so we laid down plenty of scope and were in for a rollercoaster of a night.  The next day we found that our friend, Joe on s/v Syren had stern tied at the marina on his first night, out by the big boys, and because it has been such a rough night with his dock lines taking so much stress that one of his cleats ripped right out of his stern!  He quickly sought a side tie berth.  We inquired about one but were told to get in line.  We put our name on the list and got busy trying to line up repairs for our dinghy, the fuel line and the watermaker.  I'm leaving it to Frank to detail those events when he updates his page.  We are so happy to be here!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


June 5th - it's my 51st birthday! How many girls can say they spent their birthday in the middle of the South Pacific sailing to an island paradise? We are about 24 hours away from arrival in Rangiroa which is the 2nd largest coral atoll in the world. We must time our arrival so that we can enter the pass at slack tide; hence we are slowing Destiny down as much as possible. We have incredible sailing wind but have reefed in the sails and because of that the large waves are really giving us a lot
of roll. In order not to lose our balance we have to hold on tight with every step. I am developing calluses on my hands and knuckles - horror! The skin on the palm of my hands is raw and peels off from being wet. Frank doesn't seem to be affected by this - he has even more calluses and thinks it is great that his knees are now like rollerblade pads they have become so hardened from kneeling. I still use the kneeling pad. I don't care to have leathered knees.

For my birthday Frank gave me a huge Cadbury chocolate bar and is being the galley slave today. We can't get too fancy because it takes great effort to perform in the galley in these conditions. At night we are now running on 2-hour shifts which works out well, and it makes the rock-n-roll watches more bearable. Early this morning we passed Manihi which is the first atoll in the Tuamotu Archipels coming from the direction we are using. Next is Ahe, then Rangiroa. We have only seen two other vessels
out here, and one fairly large one looked as though it came out of Ahe, heading directly toward us. He just plowed right into our path - not wavering as we maneuvered out of his way. We have no idea what kind of ship it was - not a fishing boat or a pleasure boat but was covered in antennas. Research boat? Weather station? Whatever, he acted as though this was his ocean and we were in his way! Frank keeps grumbling about how hard it is to work in the galley and to prepare meals - ha! he thought
he performed the only difficult tasks on board. I do appreciate his giving me a break today though.

At 5:50 AM we were aligned and ready to approach the pass. Tiputa Pass is known to have currents of between 6 - 10 knots. It is important to reach the pass at slack tide when the current, short seas and rip tides are minimized, making the pass more navigable. Slack tide here is about a 20 minute window between high tide and low tide. We timed it just right and had no problem entering the lagoon. Once inside we saw a number of sailboats nestled into the bay in front of the Kia Ora Village resort.
Words cannot describe the beauty of this anchorage. Even our pictures fall short of capturing the hues of blues and greens and color variations of this amazing setting. Just use your imagination, picturing a south pacific island paradise and you've got it. Frank said, "Honey how about we expand your birthday present a little and get a room for a few days?" Well, twist my arm! So it is that we booked a little bungalow in Rangiroa. It has been nice taking long showers and swimming in the pool, eating
gourmet meals and breathing fresh, clean air. We spent a lot of time doing nothing but laying by the pool. We did get out a little. We rented bicycles one day and rode around into the small town for a look around. Not much here, but took our laptop because we still have a few prepaid internet minutes which may only be used at the post office, which was closed so we sat outside with the laptop, picked up the signal and got hit with a rain storm! We had a connection just long enough to read some emails,
and I caught my friend Jeri Lyn online so we chatted on Skype for a while. It is nice to have friends and family join Skype (it is free by the way), because when we are online and they are online we can either talk to one another or instant message one another at no cost. This is great because I am able to talk to my friend JL, my daughter, sister and sis-in-law often. Very handy indeed. Ok, moving along…Sunday we went for a tour of the Gaugin Pearl Farm. Only black pearls are produced around
these parts,and I was surprised that these very expensive baubles are a semi-manufactured product. There are black oysters which produce the black pearls; however, the farm helps them along a bit. They actually "seed" the oyster with a white nucleus pearl which is imported from Mississippi (yes, that's right - from the USA). The technician makes a graft from another oyster into the farm's oyster, then inserts the nucleus pearl into the abdomen of the oyster which eventually generates a black pearl.
Each oyster can be re-used up to 3 times with this process. They are classified in grades of course, and priced accordingly. They are very expensive, for instance an 8mm imperfect semi-round pearl sells for between $200 and $250 each. We did not get any pearls but thoroughly enjoyed the tour.

Sunday night at the resort there was a buffet and show. They called it a B-B-Q; we called it a gastronomical delight! We ate a wide variety of seafood in every form - sashimi, Carpaccio, grilled, ceviche-style, oysters, and on and on until we thought we would burst and then there was the dessert buffet - oolala! Afterward came the Tahitian dancers who performed for nearly an hour. At the end a couple of dancers gave Frank and I their Plumeria leis. What a great way to end our stay at Kia Ora. The
only drawback to staying on land is that at night whenever I would get up out of bed, I always fell down! I swear they put moving floors in that cottage! Frank did the same thing. We have lost our land legs!

Now we are back on Destiny. I missed her! Our dinghy just got us back onboard and then the patch blew, so we have a dinghy raisin again. There are 25 - 30 knot winds here in the anchorage and our first night back on the boat was wild after the tranquility of the bungalow. We had planned to dive this morning. The dive boat came by at 7:15 AM, picked us up and then when we got all the way to the reef the dive master hefted my tank and vest, to find a problem with my BCD. There is a leak in the thingy
that attaches to my first stage so we didn't get to dive. We are back on Destiny awaiting the 1:30 dive, at which time I will use the resort's equipment.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou & Out to Sea....

May 31, 2008
We left Baie D'Anaho Saturday morning with no sign of Imagine. Having missed them again we vowed to meet down the way. The sail over to the next island was a jolter! The tossing began again and you would think we'd be used to this by now! I kept smelling diesel every time I went below. It was getting strong but we could not find the source of the leaking fumes.

We arrived in Ua Pao's, Hakahau in the early afternoon. We noticed there were 6 other boats in the small bay behind the breakwater and all had a stern anchor out. Joy! We dislike deploying a stern anchor. It requires taking the secondary anchor from the front of the boat, loading it into the dinghy, running it around to about 50 feet astern and dropping it, while the other of us feeds anchor line back down along the deck and securing it. This is done after setting the front hook. The winds
had built and by the time we got the bow anchor set Destiny had swung around full circle so that we were facing the opposite direction of the other boats. We just couldn't get straightened out so we stayed askew yet clear of the others and - unfortunately outside the breakwater. The night brought swells and high winds. We both awoke several times to check our position. By early morning we decided to move closer in, but it was tight. We got set and did a good job this time. Peter and Alice aboard
Yamana, (New Zealand) watched us taking jerry cans to shore to fill up at the beach faucet, took pity on us and told us that we could actually tie up to the Warf and take on water from there if we had a long hose. We jumped at the opportunity to fill our tanks and to be able to take real showers! This required us pulling up anchor again and moving to the Warf. Peter helped us secure Destiny to the dock while Frank hooked up the hose and I filled the tanks. The Gendarmerie came by to remind us
NOT to consume this water but that it is OK for everything else. So, we finally broke our vow not to put outside water into the tanks but faced with the current dilemma we had no choice. We got re-anchored and set about finding the fuel leak. We discovered that it was likely a breach in the fuel tank fill line. We had fuel in the bilge and in two of our food lockers. We spent the entire day cleaning out the lockers and flushing the bilge. We do not know for certain but are thinking that when
the tank was filled some spillage had occurred and then while sailing in these rough seas diesel must be washing back up into the fuel line and out the fissure again. We spent the next morning going back and forth to town purchasing bottled water. We have to have enough to drink and to cook with until we can get the watermaker repaired in Tahiti. We then left Monday evening to head to the Tuamotu.

June 2nd - We are now enroute. We had wanted to spend a couple of weeks in the Tuamotu but after discovering that we now have diesel all around the refrigerator and freezer pumps in another locker we have decided to fast track to Tahiti. We, our boat and our nerves have reached critical on the load bearing scale. We are having a great sail - making good speed but the seas are rough and pitching us a lot so we continue to monitor the bilge and the lockers and to mop up and clean out to stay ahead
of the leakage. We have also decided that we may try to reach Rangiroa, the largest atoll of the Tuamotu just to have a day or two to stop and get a break. The diesel fumes onboard are burning our eyes and giving us headaches so we spend as much time as possible in the cockpit.

Today is June 4th, my little brother's 50th birthday - Happy birthday, Tom! I love you!

Monday, June 2, 2008

May 28- 30, 2008 Island of Nuku Hiva

We have never had an experience such as we did getting fuel on Tuesday. The fuel dock in Taiohae Bay is solid concrete and is built like a wall about 15 feet high at the edge where boats tie up to take on fuel. It was low tide by the time we were queued up, and the waterline was below the bottom of this high wall. The drill is: you drop anchor and back up to the concrete dock, while your boat is being tossed around in the strong surge of the tide coming back in. It took two men on the dock above and our new friend Mark (from Margarita) to try to secure stern lines while I was manipulating the anchor line and Frank was manning the helm. The surge was so strong that a few times we nearly smashed the solar panels into the dock, which are mounted in back on top of the dinghy hoist. I was running back and forth from anchor to stern to take in and let out chain and to push us off from the wall. Mark got into the dinghy to bring the fuel hose to Frank so that he could pump the diesel into our tank which is located amidships. The bucking and tossing continued while Frank manhandled the fuel hose and the rest of us tried to keep Destiny out of harm's way. The stressing of our dock lines sent shivers through our bones. I kept wondering how much load they could endure, while watching the last of our snubbers pop. The fueling process lasted about 2 hours, and by the time we got Mark back to Margarita it was too late in the day to go anywhere. We dropped anchor and spent one more night. Side note: a snubber is a heavy-duty rubber gismo that wraps onto your dock line in order to relieve tension that would normally cause the line to break or fray. The snubber takes the stress and will break when the line is under tremendous pressure. Between the anchorage at Manzanillo and the fueling ordeal in Nuku Hiva, all of ours have now blown.
Because of the increasing surge in this bay we spent a restless night and Frank awoke at 5 AM to find that we had moved much too close to Margarita, so it seemed like a good time to raise the hook and head out. After pulling up the anchor I went below to fix coffee and breakfast while Frank maneuvered us out of Taiohae. As we left the safety of the bay, all of a sudden I felt the boat thrash from side to side and heard crashing all about. Frank started yelling for me to come up and help him. I quickly unplugged the coffee pot, set it down into the sink, turned off the oven and ran up topside. The lines holding the dinghy had snapped and the poor little guy was swinging wildly, twisting and pitching, slamming into the hoist's frame. Frank was frantically trying to head the boat away from the churning waves that were throwing Destiny all about, but I could not get a secure hold on the dinghy, and braced there with tears streaming down my face I felt so helpless and inept. We quickly switched places and I turned us back into Taiohae Bay while Frank re-secured the dinghy. We decided at that time to take the longer, opposite route around to the north side. For a fleeting moment we considered just following the prevailing winds and going on to the Tuamotus, but we had promised Imagine that we would meet them at Baie D'Anaho, and it was too late to change the plan. We had heard that Baie D'Anaho and its neighbor, Baie Hatiheu were not to be missed before leaving Nuku Hiva so we journeyed forth.
Wow, what a trip just to get to the northern side of Nuku Hiva. We had good winds until we reached the northwestern edge, then we hit the leeward side, lost the wind and motored. The geography of this island is spectacular and dramatic, with steep rising bluffs and ever changing colors of both landscape and sea. We tried to take pictures but just do not have equipment sufficient to capture the remarkable beauty here. After a while a large group of dolphins came charging toward our wake. Frank and I went up to the front of the boat and propped ourselves on the pulpit to watch them swim and play in our bow wake. They stayed with us for several miles. I never tire of watching them. We came around the next point to face strong gusting winds right on our nose and very rough seas, crashing to shore like a symphony. About 5 hours after our morning departure we spotted Hatiheu Bay and ducked quickly into there and set anchor. Our guide books speak fondly of the town but not of the anchorage. The village looked so charming and inviting and is known to have many archaeological sites, tiki carvings along the shore, various amenities and an excellent restaurant. Unfortunately, our dinghy looked like a raisin, with two of its bladders now deflated and was in serious need of repair. The patch job Frank had done in Taiohae Bay hadn't held. As he worked to remove the former patch we realized that the anchorage was getting too uncomfortable to stay without the possibility of going ashore there, so we pulled the anchor and beat back into the wind around to Baie D'Anaho. We were welcomed with calm, crystal clear waters and a beautiful beach area. Soon after we dropped the hook we saw a turtle swimming and bobbing around, a manta ray drifted by and swarms of fish were all around. The bay is dotted with coral heads. The guide books call this the bay "right out of a Robinson Caruso tale". There are beautiful rocky spires to the eastern side which look like something from the Land of Oz. This is a good place to repair our dinghy and our states of mind. Unfortunately, the watermaker is once again out of commission and this bay has no village so we cannot stay long. There is only one other boat here, so it feels like we have a private paradise!
Thursday (May 29th), we awoke to discover that a third very large sailing ship had arrived, carrying at least a dozen passengers. We watched the crew take guests back and forth to shore while Frank patched up the dinghy and we decided it should set for a full day. There are hiking paths here, and one that would take us over the saddle back to the other village of Hatiheu, where we had first tried to settle, but it is a 1 ½ - 2 hour hike and we cannot get to shore unless we swim so we will try that tomorrow. We hung around, went for a little dip in the water and just enjoyed the serenity of this place. In the afternoon two more boats pulled into the bay. At night we sat on deck and just looked at the clear skies, again ooh-ing and aah-ing over shooting stars and trying to figure out what constellations we are seeing.
Friday morning, we noted that the charter boat had left. We decided to head out around 10 AM for the hike to Hatiheu. There is no dinghy dock here - only the sand beach. Beaching our dinghy with its oversized - very heavy outboard is a chore so we figured we would row to shore. We loaded ourselves and our gear into the dinghy and began to row. The wind was fierce and the current pretty strong (the tide was coming in), and after getting about half-way there we decided we may be able to get to shore but would have a devil of a time getting back out. We ditched the row to shore idea and headed back for Destiny. Once back on board Frank tried the watermaker again and announced that we had better get somewhere to get some water because the thing is probably down for the count this time until we reach Tahiti. I reorganized the galley for the 4th or 5th time and by 1 PM we decided we are tired of being held hostage on our boat, so we attached the motor and set out again for shore. It was high tide so we had little trouble getting the dinghy dragged up onto the shore. Because it was late in the day a hike to the next village was not an option because it gets dark around 5 PM, and when the sun goes down it is DARK. Charlie's charts mentioned that the oldest archaeological site in the Marquesas is around the east side of this bay so we chose that direction. We had a great hike along jungle paths and through some small homesteads, picked some lemons and saw lots of deserted campsites but nothing that looked like an ancient archaeological site. When we reached the head of another bay we turned around and got back in time to watch the sunset over the mountain side. By then several other boats had arrived, really crowding the small bay. We stowed gear and tightened everything down for an early departure to Ua Pou on Sat. morning.
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney