Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Martins' Visit..

July 22nd, 2008 – We just left our friends, Jeff and Jeri Lyn Martin, at the harbor in Bora Bora to catch the ferry for their flight back home.  My heart is heavy with sadness that they are leaving, yet I am overjoyed to have had the precious little time that we were graced to spend with them.


They had booked 2 nights at the front end of their stay and one night at the back end of their stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tahiti.  We knew that we would have only a few days to show them as much of the Society Islands as possible.  So in order to optimize their time with us we asked them to change their 2nd hotel night to the Intercontinental Hotel on Moorea because we wanted them to have a whole day to see this splendid island.  To explain a bit – the Society Islands are comprised of two groups; the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands.  Of the Windward group only two are really accessible to us, Tahiti and Moorea.  In the Leeward group which lies approximately 85 miles to the west are Huahine (pronounced Wa-hee-nee), Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora and Maupiti.  The passage from the Windward group to the Leeward group takes approximately 12 hours and, although we could not get to all of them, we wanted to at least take them to Huahine (the wild island) and Bora Bora.  Frank and I did a lot of chin rubbing and head scratching to try to put together a reasonable itinerary for them, with just 5 ½ days on board.  On the morning of the 16th, Frank and I finished up last minute details; provisioning fresh produce, picking up parts, diving for a lost life-line gate and completing a final repair of the watermaker before motoring over to pick up Jeff and Jeri Lyn.  Frank was able to dinghy right up to the dock of their hotel to bring them on board.  Following lots of hugs and smiles we got underway to Moorea, after a quick stop in Papeete's harbor to get the Martins an up close and personal look at the magnificent Maltese Falcon.


The sail to Opunohu bay in Moorea took between 3 ½ to 4 hours, and we arrived there in the early afternoon, but could not get Destiny close enough to the Intercontinental to make a comfortable transfer of our precious cargo so we ended up anchoring a couple of miles away and navigating through coral clustered waters in the dinghy to take them ashore.   We were losing our daylight, hence our depth perception, by the time we got to the hotel's lagoon in spite of the fact that Jeff and I sat in the front and tried to direct Frank to shore but we just could not find the cut through the coral in the diminishing light.  After grounding a couple of times we resigned to landing them and their bags at a dock quite a ways down the beach, leaving them with a prayer and a big apology we picked our way back to our boat just at sunset.  Whew! Early the next morning we phoned the Martins to make sure they were OK and were still speaking to us J.  They told us all was fine and that they managed to get a cab to the hotel after all.  Jeri Lyn also told us where the cut through the reef is so that we could get over there with our dinghy.  We had a wonderful day!  We took them over to the area where the locals feed the reef sharks and sting rays, and swam among them.  For some reason that none of us could comprehend the rays were so attracted to Jeri Lyn that they were swarming her.  She delightedly petted them and played with them, standing in about 4 ft. of water while Frank attempted to get photos.  Most of them, however, are underwater shots of a headless Jeri Lyn.  We had great fun snorkeling among the many colorful fish and coral in the shallows just off the hotel.  Afterward we returned with them to their beautiful cabin for showers (yes! Real, long, hot showers!), and then set off for lunch and some sun by the pool.  By 3 PM it was time to head back to Destiny.  The Martins' easy days ashore were over for a while – time to move into the rolling hotel for a spell.  We got their gear stowed, showed them how to operate gadgets, discussed locations of fire extinguishers and "man-overboard" procedures and by 4:30 we were ready to shove off and make the overnight passage to Huahine.  We bid a very fond farewell to the island of Moorea as we pulled up the hook.


The Martins wanted the total experience and we are afraid they got it!  In fact, they got that and more.  To say that the passage was rough is a gross understatement.  Not long after clearing Moorea's protective barrier reef we encountered high winds and building seas.  The temp dropped several degrees and as the night progressed the bad conditions worsened to the point that Jeri Lyn curled up into the fetal position in a corner of the cockpit and declared us insane.  She and Jeff were not having the best of times this night.  Eventually we maneuvered them downstairs, out of the driving rain into air-conditioned berths where they slept fitfully for the duration of the passage.  In spite of the storm, driving rain and unseasonable cold we made good time arriving at Huahine an hour before daylight.  An attribute to Frank's captain skills, he navigated Destiny through the barrier reef and safely into the harbor where we remained in a holding pattern until we could anchor at daylight.  The rains continued and the winds howled – at times above 30 knots – for nearly three days!  There were periods of short reprieves during which we would dash to shore for groceries, sit in the cockpit to read or just to visit and then after dragging anchor 3 times the next night we moved into another bay to escape the strong currents and winds, followed by our friends on Imagine.  We visited with Imagine shortly – Andy dropped by for a beer with the boys and to exchange movies with us because when it is drizzly and dreary like that you just want to stay inside and watch movies!  We spent another anxious night after the anchor dragged us again, but eventually settled in for some much needed sleep.  I still hadn't caught up from having gotten only 1 hour of sleep during the crossing and just a few the night before. This can make for a cranky First Mate!


Next day we readied for the 4 hour passage to Tahaa, which is enroute to Bora Bora.  Tahaa is called the Vanilla Island because of the abundant vanilla farms there.  We managed to get on a mooring outside of the Hotel Hibiscus where Jeri Lyn and I went ashore for a short walk and the skies began to clear at last! Later we had a very nice dinner at the hotel's eclectic restaurant.  We didn't spend enough time in Tahaa to benefit from its beauty because we wanted to get to Bora Bora in time to enjoy some sunshine there before Jeff and Jeri Lyn's rapidly approaching departure.


Bora Bora is all "that".  The tiny island is home to more hotels than any of the leeward group, and is a popular vacation spot to many famous visitors.  We first anchored just off the Hotel Bora Bora a short distance from the legendary Bloody Mary's restaurant.  The waters were brilliant with colors and so clear that we could see the bottom.  We went to shore for lunch at Bloody Mary's and then took a short walk before deciding to take a cab into town.  There isn't much to the town of Bora Bora, and we found that prices here were even higher.  Must be because it is the vacation spot for the Rich and Famous!  Jeri Lyn and I had a good time walking and window shopping while the boys "shopped" for a cold one.  After getting back to the anchorage we found that our friends on Cop Out had arrived and were anchored nearby, so Jeri Lyn and I swam over to visit with them for a bit before showering for dinner.


Our last night together was fabulous!  We dined at a local 10-star (J!) restaurant referred to us by friends back in CO, called Villa Mahana.  Wow!  After being ushered to a terraced private dining area, we thought that we were the only guests.  When leaving, however, we discovered that there were several other couples dining throughout in private little areas as well.  This chef-owned little bistro focused on making each dining couple feel that they had the place to themselves – very romantic and intimate and is a favorite among honeymooners.  We can see why; the ambiance, the food and service surpassed anything we have encountered thus far on our journey.  I probably sound like a broken record – but just when we think we have had the ultimate experience it just keeps getting better.  We like to think that the present company had a lot to do with it.  Jeff and Jeri Lyn are just a delight to be with no matter where we are or what we are doing. 

Tuesday, the 22nd – our final day with the Martins we motored Destiny to the downtown wharf and tied up alongside for a couple of hours.  We all walked around a bit then had a nice lunch together before saying goodbye.  Fortunately the airport ferry departs just across the dock from where Destiny was tied up, so we only had to unload the Martins' luggage right onto the dock for them to wheel over to the ferry.  They were gracious enough to take our broken Sat phone back with them to be sent to Iridium for repairs.  We have found that other cruisers are cursing their Iridium phones as well, but what are you going to do when there isn't much choice to be had in products.  I should start a cruisers blog to rate products out here in the hope that manufacturers would buck up and stand behind their merchandise!  The Horizon Seafari water maker would be right up there on the list of items to be wary of as well.

That's enough for now. This is a long one because it has been a while since I posted.  Even longer for the Captain.  He is overdue but that is not my story nor my business.  One more side note though – our dear friend Ryan arrived safely in Papeete and has joined Syren as crew and is loving it.  Can't wait to get together with him.  Our love and best wishes to all of our family, friends and readers out there.
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Monday, July 28, 2008

July 15th, 2008

We left Moorea for Tahiti and this time decided to dock in a berth in Papeete's downtown harbor. It is a stern-to marina, which is not our favorite way to go, especially there because the dock is several feet higher than our stern and in order to board or disembark from Destiny, we had to swing like Tarzan and Jane from the swim platform up onto the dock using the dinghy davit's lift lines. It got to be fun once we got the "hang" of it, and figured out how to pass packages and groceries to one
another from the dock. We felt it would add an element of security, deterring potential perpetrators; however, we had just gone to bed one night and heard a lot of noise up on deck and what sounded like a loud crash above our heads. We both immediately popped up the companionway to find Joe from Syren with another person on the back of our boat, just grinning from ear to ear! Joe was so proud of himself that he was able to get into the dock and locate Destiny. Thinking we were not aboard, he was
going to just sit on our back deck and await our return so that he could introduce us to his newest potential crew member. We stumbled up and met Helene, visited for a few minutes and went back to bed.

We really enjoyed being downtown for a few days. We ate at the Roulotte a couple of times, took care of paperwork and departure requirements, got to walk around and see the areas that we had missed before, then on Monday, July 14, we motored back over to Marina Taina to pick up the water maker pump and parts and hit the giant grocery store, Carrefore, for provisions. There were no berths available so we anchored. Morning Light was there on the same dock with Syren and told us that the local restaurant
was serving free Paella that night to anyone who arrived wearing a life jacket. Well we were certainly up for that! This must have been their Bastille Day celebration, and it was packed! We enjoyed seeing everyone dressed up in their life vests. The paella was excellent and the camaraderie and fellowship with other cruisers even better.

July 16th, we dinghyed over to the Hotel Intercontinental to meet up with Jeff and Jeri Lyn whose flight was scheduled to arrive just after 5 AM. They had brought us two 50-lb. boxes full of boat parts, goodies, mail and gifts from them and from our family. It was like a reunion and Christmas all in one! We left them to get some rest from their long flight and we returned to our boat to unpack our boxes. That evening they joined us at the marina, met some of our fellow cruisers and then we took
the "le truck" downtown to the Roulotte for dinner.

I've got to cut this off now in order to transmit to my blog because we are back to sending over the HAM. More to come….

Thursday, July 10, 2008

July 4th, 2008 - Happy 4th of July and Happy birthday, Ma!

Happy 4th of July and Happy birthday, Ma! (Frank's mom).  Wow, it just keeps getting better – Baie de Cook, on Moorea is extraordinary.  We anchored at the head of the bay for the first few days.  The waters are deep and calm – in fact this is the calmest anchorage yet in our journey.  There are rainbows nearly every day, and we are surrounded by volcanic mountains that are very lush, abundant with plant life and awash in striking colors.  To one side is a pineapple farm which runs up the side of one mountain.  On another side are beach hotels and homes built into the face of the mountain.  It looks like a scene out of Jurassic Park after development. 

On July 1, Ken and Wendy on Cop Out invited several of us over for a potluck dinner to celebrate Canada Day.  The only requirement was that we were to wear red and white.  We thought we could handle that.  We brought red beans and rice (get it?  Red and white for Canada!).  The group was comprised of Sandy, Andy and Emma from Imagine, Lauren and Stefan from Cat Coquette, who wore their Denmark flags (pretty ingenious), and then an English couple from their boat Crazy Diamond.  Although Ken is Canadian, Wendy is originally from New Zealand and she prepared a scrumptious NZ leg of lamb for the main course. Ken led us in a round of Canadian trivia; we made them sing, "Oh, Canada" and then, as often happens out here, the topic changed to George Bush and the candidates for the 2008 presidential race.  It seems the entire world keeps up with US politics.  What fun! These guys had us all rolling with laughter throwing out their American puns and stories.  Of course we got our jabs in too.

After a few days in the bay, a group of us moved out to anchor just inside the barrier reef of Cook's Bay for snorkeling and internet access.  My gosh, it is beautiful! The snorkeling and swimming were just so great.  And we hear it keeps getting better down the way.  Unbelievable. 

One evening several of us got together for dinner and the dance show (yes, another one!), over at hotel Bali Hai.  Everyone but Frank and Jay (from Malachi) got up to dance at some point.

So, for Independence Day we brainstormed with Imagine and Cop Out about how to have a 4th of July celebration with all of the boats in Cook's Bay.  Ken, Sandy and Frank all went to recon for a beach spot to have a cookout but there was nothing available for us.  We considered having it on one of our boats but didn't know how large the group would be so Sandy introduced the "dinghy tie-up pot luck" concept which they had done in Mexico. Just about everyone in the anchorage joined in for the fun.  Imagine anchored their dinghy in the shallows between our two boats, then everyone else came along and tied up to one another. We and Imagine provided hamburgers for everyone.  Others brought canap├ęs, hotdogs, popcorn, various dips and crackers & desserts.   We all just passed food around and chatted up a storm.  We are amazed at how even outdoors a decent sized group can turn up the volume when all are chattering at the same time.  The boats represented were: Malachi (Canada), Point Zero (UK), BeBe (US), Free Spirit (US), Imagine (US), Boomerang (US), Cop Out (Canada), Que Barbara! (US), Nomad (UK). I think that covers everyone.  We took some photos, which will go on the website.  It was such a good time – thanks to Sandy for putting it all together.

Next day we moved back into the bay to escape the winds and current that were building out by the reef.  Joe (Syren) finally arrived from Papeete and told us that he is getting his crew put together for the next leg.  One of those crew members may be our friend Ryan from Parker!  It would be great to have Ryan out here with us.

Our boat buddies began migrating over to Baie d'Opunohu – just around the corner from Cook's Bay, so we followed along and were so pleased to have done so.  This anchorage is nearly as beautiful as the first one over at Vaiare where we came into with the Rendezvous.  Yesterday Frank, Sandy, Emma and I went to swim with the stingrays and the black tip sharks, just in front of the Hotel Intercontinental Moorea.  It was probably the most amazing experience I have ever had.  The water wasn't more than 6 ft. deep, if that, and we snorkeled around with rays and sharks just swimming all around us close enough to touch!  I have NEVER gotten that close to a shark in my life, but strangely felt relatively safe.  We hope to take Jeri Lyn and Jeff over there when they arrive next week.  It is an experience of a lifetime.  The water is crystal clear, and our eyes just feasted on the magnificent colors of blue and various hues of turquoise up against the white sand beaches.  Can it get prettier than this?

Our friends, the Martins are arriving next Tuesday, and we have much to do before we see them.  Our Sat phone broke – just sitting there!  It must be taken somewhere for repair - too long of a story to tell, and we need to pick up provisions and our water-maker pump, etc., etc., and Monday is Bastille Day which is a very big deal over here. So, we are pulling up anchor today, Thursday, July 11, 2008, and heading over.  We heard the Maltese Falcon on the radio last week announcing their entrance in to the port in Papeete so we hope to get a glance at it while there.  OK, we're off!  More later…
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Rendezvous

Greetings from Moorea (pronounced Muh-ray-ya).  We came over from Tahiti on the "Tahiti-Moorea Sailing Rendezvous" (race/rally), on Saturday, June 28.  The rendezvous actually began Friday afternoon at check-in, downtown Papeete by the port.  There was a tent set up with local vendors displaying their goods and services, there were games, arts and crafts, and then there was a formal Polynesian "Skippers Blessing" followed by dancers & local musicians, the reception and the crew briefing.  We got goodie bags with t-shirts, and the like. Afterward Bill and Judy from the yacht Bebe joined us for the "roulette" dinner in the port area.  This is a nightly event that we have enjoyed a few times.  Several cooking trailers are set up and arranged like outdoor restaurants taking up the entire plaza, making every edible delight you can imagine.  There is pizza, steaks, seafood, sushi, sashimi, hamburgers, Chinese food, Polynesian food, crepes, ice cream and sometimes entertainment as well.  Bill and Judy, by the way are from Houston, and sail a beautiful 53 ft. Amel yawl.  We have met several cruisers from my old stomping ground out here.   

Moving along…early Saturday morning we pulled away from the dock in Marina Taina to begin the rally in Papeete's downtown port.  We had agreed to take along 2 locals as guests aboard Destiny for the sail to Moorea, which is only 10 miles to the west.  Our guests turned out to be two young men named Nicholas!  Both were French; one from France and one from Tahiti.  They were adorable – about my daughter's age – and we enjoyed showing them around, teaching them the English words for things on Destiny. They did the same for us in French and in Polynesian. They wanted so much to be deck hands and to help us sail.  Sadly there was absolutely NO WIND!  The rally horn blew and all the boats sat bobbing with sails flapping around.  We were all laughing and calling to one another, cracking jokes about the "warp speeds" we were all pushing.  Finally after a couple of hours of agonizing flopping about, the race officials announced that we would motor to Moorea because lunch was being served at 1:00, and at the rate we were going it would take all day to get there.  When we arrived at the entrance of Vaiare, we were greeted by canoes and outriggers full of locals dressed in ceremonial garb, blowing horns and beating drums, calling out, "Ia Ora Na!"  It was wonderful.  Then we entered the most beautiful bay we have seen yet.  The water was so clear and blue that Frank kept saying we were in a swimming pool.  After getting anchored and settled in we all dinghyed to shore for the Polynesian feast and games.  The games were pretty challenging but we participated in most of them.  There was rock lifting where a local guy would lift larger and larger great big rocks and then a local would compete.  No one even came close to matching him.  There was an outrigger race – 4 of us and 2 locals to a canoe (mine came in next second to last!). There was this crazy javelin toss – a tall pole (35-40 ft. in height) stand in the middle of a large circle with a coconut on top of it and you try to get your javelin to stick into the coconut.  HA!  Many of us couldn't even pitch it half way up.  The locals were much better, although only one made it. There was a fruit carrying race; you carry a 6-ft pole over your shoulder from which coconuts and bananas hang, and run with it around 4 points.   There were some great prizes given for winning – but we didn't win any.  We had a wonderful time anyway.

So the events of the day came to a close and we all headed back to our floating homes to find that another large sailboat had dragged anchor and hit our beautiful Destiny.  We were heart sick at the sight.  Upon arrival, we found a French guy in our cockpit trying to settle the boats down.  According to him, the other boat had drifted into ours, hooking our anchor chain dragging Destiny along with it.  He had actually tied the other boat to ours with our Genoa sheets and had dropped our second anchor to prevent her from dragging further into other boats.  We could see there was damage because wood shavings were all over our deck and the other boat's life lines were drooping but we could not yet determine who had sustained what.  Thanks to the concerted efforts of other cruisers on Morning Light, Baraka & Cop Out the vessels were safely separated.  It was quite an ordeal, involving Ken from Cop Out diving to get the anchors apart, prudent maneuvering of the two sailboats, dinghies, people, anchor chains, ropes and lines.  We had to await first light to assess damages to Destiny, but could tell that the other yacht had incurred some.

Thank God Island Packet builds a solid yacht!  Sunday morning revealed no damage to the pulpit, toe rail, stanchions or the freeboard.  Frank and I dived to check our hull and found nothing more than a scratch to the gel coat on the starboard side.  I baked batches of brownies and delivered them to the four boats who had helped us out and we gave thanks many times over.  We stayed in this beautiful bay for a couple of days, enjoying her beauty.  The snorkeling was fabulous.  The coral here is in good shape and the fish and sea life are abundant.  Colors magnificent! We would liked to have stayed on for a while but by Monday mid-day it was time to mosey over to Baie de Cook (Captain Cook's Bay) to meet up with others. 

We're posting pictures today as well while we have internet.
while at sea:
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney