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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.

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