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Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Transit

Our first day out wasn't too bad. We had good winds on and off and then into the night the winds died and squalls built. We got real wet, surprisingly chilled and ended up motoring until morning. We began chasing the winds; getting about 10 miles off of our rhumb line, yet managed to stay within VHF range of Syren and Ahu. Syren lost their autopilot not far out of Rarotonga and are forced to hand steer. We are so fortunate that most everything is working well on Destiny. There is a gennaker
halyard that has worn to the point that it is frayed so we (Frank) will have to do something about that before we can fly it next. We are doing the 3-4-3 night shifts again, me taking the 3-hour watches. The sliver of a moon doesn't rise until about 4:30 AM which makes for a very dark night, but when the skies are clear the stars are brilliant! I was watching for falling stars when at around 11PM something started dancing across the back deck. When I turned on the deck light I noticed that a
6 ft. 1x6 board we have our portable propane tank sitting on had dislodged and was sliding around back there, dragging the tank which was tied loosely to the rail. I felt a churn in the pit of my stomach knowing that I had to get back there to do something about it, and of course the waves were now pitching us from side to side! I am such a total coward when it comes to these things, but I sent up a quick prayer of protection and tethered myself to the life line and went out there feeling surprisingly
secure and calmed. I duck walked out there, secured the board and the tank and then butt-slid back to the cockpit steps. These are times I am so glad we are not on reality TV! On my second shift, just before dawn at about 6:15 AM, I got a major thrill (was this my treat for being brave earlier?), when the sky forward of us lit up in a dramatic flash, and then exploded into bright colors as a meteorite smashed through the atmosphere. It trailed sparks for a good bit and then extinguished just
as quickly as it had appeared. Wow! I felt like calling everyone and asking - did you see that! But I just relished it and got all mushy with God, thanking Him for the experience, and then sat alert and poised for the next one in case it came. But that was the end of the show- the grand finale just before a beautiful South Pacific sunrise.

Our second day (Wed.) was what sailors like us live for. The winds and seas were fair and comfortable. The sails were happy and full and we enjoyed a beautiful sky-blue day of cruising. Frank took in the threadbare halyard, cut off the frayed portion and reattached it so that we could fly the chute (gennaker), and were happy campers. While the seas were calm I went down for an afternoon nap. When I returned topside, Frank told me that the piece called the "car" on the mainsail that takes the
sail in and out on the boom (to furl and unfurl the sail) had broken and he fixed it with a jury-rig and a bowline knot. We have partial use of the main now and probably until we get to New Zealand. Around 6 PM just when we were losing our wind the clouds began to build and darken. Time for evening squalls again. They delivered as predicted and we locked and loaded for another wet night. This one was very uncomfortable, as we entered the squall zone the seas came at us from every direction
(those Gemini winds and seas again!) tossing us back and forth and side to side. We decided neither of us would get much rest so we set up 2-hour watches and stayed in radio contact with the two other boats. At full darkness the phosphorescence which we haven't seen much of since before the Marquesas has reappeared and is brighter than ever. It was so vivid that we would see waves completely lit up as though handfuls of stars were being tossed up by Neptune and his minions. I never tire of leaning
over the cockpit to watch the underwater show of sparkles and bright flashes. This is just so amazing we wish we could share the experience with our family and friends but don't have a way to capture this phenomenon on film.

It is now Thursday morning and we have learned from the morning net (radio network) that we are one of 9 boats headed for Niue, all arriving within 24 hours of one another. There are 14 moorings in Niue and it is presently full, so unless several boats depart there by Sat, we may be forced to push onward to Tonga earlier than planned. But we will wait and see what Saturday holds for us. We still have 350 miles to go to reach Niue. Who knows that those miles will bring, eh? We are again without
wind and under power of the engine but at least it is a beautiful day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rainy but Lovely Rarotonga

It has rained on and off every day here in Rarotonga, but we get out anyway and have really enjoyed it here.  Friday night we went to dinner at Trader Jack's with Ken and Wendy from Cop out. Don and Marcie joined us and the 6 of us celebrated Ken's birthday and then extended the celebration to include Frank's past birthday, Don's upcoming birthday (9/2) and Marcie's good news that she is cancer-free for the 3rd year running!  We dressed for the occasion in spite of the getting to shore experience here.  There is nothing like putting on your rain poncho to climb into a wet dinghy with about 2 inches of water in the bottom in order to get to the slimy ladder to climb up to the concrete wharf, to humble oneself.  We have mastered the transition well.  Friends who want to visit us should be well prepared for any contingency while on the boat.  


Saturday is a big day here.  Just a few hundred yards away is a large market each week.  It's like one of the big street festivals back in Denver.  All types of vendors are set up and we spent half the day browsing, shopping, eating and visiting.  Then in the afternoon, Syren arrived so the cruisers gathered together to help them in.  It is quite a big deal which gives all the guys something to do and provides the daily excitement for them all.  Saturday night we went with Syren and crew along with Jackie and Peter from Ahu to the local Indian restaurant for their buffet.  This is the first Indian food we've had in quite a while and it was quite good.  All we ever seem to do is eat!  Sunday we took the moped around the island, stopping at the Rarotongan Hotel for the show presented by St. Mary's dance and vocal group.  They performed and sang praise songs in their native tongue with a few in English.  It was a beautiful and moving performance which at times moved me to tears.


After the show we set out for our very first Geocache find.  It is somewhat like a treasure hunt using your GPS, however when the treasure is found, you sign the logbook and leave something.  To find out more go to .  We plan to do this now wherever we sail!  We returned to the boat, logged our find on the site and then settled in for a comfy night in the rain.   We watched the movie Calendar Girls, which we had borrowed from Malachi.


On Monday, Malachi and Orca III departed for Beveridge Reef.  And due to approaching bad weather we decided our time in the Cooks may have to be cut short.  We have been watching the reports which tell us that we want to be out of here before the weekend, but also have to be somewhere else by then so we are studying our options.  The anchorage is getting very rocky in here.  Tuppenny has tied up to us for more stability, and even our big girl is beginning to get tossed around like a rocking horse.  Monday night not many cruisers slept well. 


Today, Tuesday the 26th, we awoke realizing that we are going to make a run for it – heading to Niue and praying that we arrive by Saturday.  It is about 540 miles and we will have good winds for a couple of days dropping to around 5 knots by Thursday, which is NOT good it means a lot of not moving.  We need a good 13-20 knots to get good movement out of this girl.  We mustn't get caught in the approaching storm yet we cannot stay here.  Syren made a decision to leave with us and Ahu as well.  Those two yachts are much faster cruisers than we are so wish us God Speed!
while at sea: (note:the sender must include the character sequence "//WL2K" in the subject line of the message.)
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Friday, August 22, 2008

August 21, 2008 - Rarotonga, Cook Islands

We have arrived and are thrilled to be here in Rarotonga. This is by far the most unique and challenging anchorage job we have accomplished to date. Difficult to articulate but I will try to paint a word picture. The dock is a high concrete wharf and has only enough room for about 14-17 boats, moored stern-to (backed in toward the wharf), depending on the beam (width of your yacht). There are two catamarans here (Cop Out and O'Vive!), which are about as wide as two monohulls (a "regular" sailboat).
Among the monohulls, some have as much as a 15 ft. beam (such as ours) or as little as an 8 ft. beam, hence the room for boats depends upon the size of the ones already here. To get in, one must drop anchor near the middle f the bay, hoping not to cross anchor lines with another yacht, while a fellow yachtie comes out in a dinghy, grabs one of your stern lines and guides you whilst you back in to your slot. We are snug in here, so folks on the boats either side of your spot will grab lines and
walk you in and then pitch the lines to someone on shore who will then tie your stern to the bollards on the wharf. It is really very exciting, especially to watch all of the activity as cruisers buzz around very efficiently getting you into place. They all seem to know what they are doing, thus it feels as though you are being taken care of by the experts. After all, each of them has already done this at least once. We are so tightly set in here that we can walk from boat to boat - just as our
pictures from the marina Taina in Tahiti depict. The difference here is that we are 20-30 feet away from the concrete wharf because of the swell and the surge in the bay. Hence you put your dinghy in to the water and pull yourself back and forth to the ladder at the wharf when you want to come and go. Some yachts have rigged pulley systems to their dinghies. It is all very fascinating! I have taken some photos which will be posted soon. This is like a community we have seen in the movies where
you can see and hear everything your neighbor is doing. We love it! We are sandwiched in-between Malachi and Tuppenny. Tuppenny is new to us, and is a British yacht with Gillie and Ruth aboard. The boats here whom we know already are Orca III, O'Vive!, Malachi, Cop Out, Candene, and Yamana who are just leaving. Still to arrive are Mr. John, Rarangi and Nomad. We looked around and saw only room for 2 boats yet Ken on Cop Out said, "Oh we'll make room, move some boats over and squeeze them in."
We believe him.

So, we got all settled in to our new berth for the next several days, visited with our neighbors, got caught up on who, what, when and where, and then went ashore to check in with the harbor master, buy a prepaid internet card and to get the feel of the land. The harbormaster's office was a remarkably pleasant visit because they all speak the most lilting NZ English and are very, very accommodating. We have not been in an English speaking country since February and this is music to our ears! The
internet is not by the minute so for that we are very grateful. We purchased a $50 (NZ dollar) card which gives us 250 MG of internet usage, unlimited time online. We don't understand what that means but think it means that we are good to go! We have discovered several excellent restaurants in the area and were dead set on pizza for dinner, hearing that there is a wood fired, cracker-thin crust pizza joint nearby. Dinner turned out to be all that we had hoped for although not quite as inexpensive
as we'd anticipated. We keep forgetting that we are in the islands where most products are not locally obtained. No matter how you slice it though it still beats the heck out of French Polynesia's rates. What really just kills us is the weak value of the USD right now. We've run into Europeans who tell us that they LOVED visiting America because their money went so very far there. Not so long ago other countries loved to be paid in US currency over local, but now they scoff at us when we suggest
such a thing. Nope - they want either local or Euros if payment is offered in cash. American Express is laughable out here as well - better bring your VISA card if you want to charge anything.

We rented a scooter, for which at least one of us had to obtain a motorcycle driver's license. We could both get one but I let Frank do this because I do not relish driving on the opposite side of the road - I have a hard enough time driving without thinking about doing everything backwards! Scooter, $85/wk, Cook Islands DL, $25 (for one year), not having to drive in Rarotonga - priceless!

Frank with the help of Steve form Orca III got the generator fixed. It is too mechanical for me to explain, but I am told that the impeller for the sea water cooling pump shredded from vibration. They got all of the shredded pieces cleaned out and the new piece put in and we are once again generating power! Good thing because we were needing to run the engine for a few hours each day and night to charge the batteries which can sometimes be irritating to your neighbors who may be sleeping or just
enjoying some quiet time. Not to mention the fuel usage of running the engine at $7/gallon. This was also thrilling because now we have enough power to operate the TV and DVD player which is critical to watching Alias!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

August 18th - Happy Anniversary to us!

Today marks our 7th anniversary. Wow! What a journey we have had in these 7 wonderful years together and it will only get better from here. We spent the day doing what most people do on their anniversary. I baked us a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. I then shelled and roasted about a dozen pods of garlic because we cannot take fresh produce into the Cook Islands so I am hoping frozen will be OK. We are trying to snarf up everything fresh as fast as we can hoping not to have to discard
any of these precious groceries at arrival. We napped on and off to be ready for our night shifts and we motored most of the day because our winds went poof! Because we were motoring we had power enough for a few episodes of Alias, and then to top off the big event we dined on grilled filet mignon, mashed potatoes (with fresh roasted garlic, onions, rosemary and parmesan cheese), and canned green beans which we dressed up with yet more roasted garlic, onions and seasoned almonds. We stuffed ourselves
and then ate lots of cake while watching a very unique South Pacific sunset. After dinner we managed to make it to Season 5 of Alias before it was time for my evening nap before the 9-midnight shift and Frank's chat with other cruisers on the SSB net. All in all it was a fabulous anniversary!

Sometime during the night we finally picked up some wind and off went the engine in favor of our preferred sailing. It is now 2 PM on Tuesday the 19th. The seas have been terrifically smooth and the wind has given us as little as 3 .5 knots and as much as 7 knots of speed since making their reappearance last night. Frank announced to me that we are a day behind schedule but who cares; we are having a great sail and enjoying reconnecting with the sea and with each other. He spotted a whale just
a bit ago and is perched on the bow whale watching. This is supposed to be the season out here so we may get lucky. We cherish these times together as much as we enjoy the camaraderie of being with the others. Time on and time off is good for the soul - and gives us time with God to appreciate and acknowledge this beauty that he created for us to enjoy. No Bible Study or church service in the world can compare to the raw understanding and connection that one is able to achieve out here with our
Creator and His universe. Yes, this is good for the soul indeed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First 24 hours out - sailing again!

August 17, 2008. It feels great to be back on the water again and this leg has been a good time for us to just enjoy sailing. It is now around 4 PM on the 17th and we have had a great day and a half. Last night's sunset was brilliant and the moon was so bright we thought at one point another boat must be shining a spot light on us!

We had a nice first 24 hours out of Bora Bora. We departed with Stewart on Nomad, and have discovered two other boats sailing the same course out here with us - Mr. John, and Rarangi. I think both are out of Australia. It is great to know we are not alone out here. Winds are favorable although somewhat light and tend to come at a broad reach and then settle to beam, so we have made some adjustments going off course to catch the wind. The generator overheated yesterday (oh my!), and after cleaning
filters and checking fluid levels we have found there is a leak somewhere in the freshwater cooling side. We can't find the leak and don't want to fool with that while underway so we are needing to run the engine periodically to recharge batteries. At first this bugged us because we had good winds but needed the juice for our fridge, freezer, radio, autopilot, etc to run on. But then last night the winds nearly died altogether so when we cranked on the engine it charged us up and made up some
time while getting back to our initial course. Taking advantage of the light winds and seas I popped some chocolate chip cookies into the oven so that we would have some comfort food on our night watches. We are back to the 3 hour schedule. I take 9-midnight, and then 3-6 AM. Frank does midnight to 3 AM. And that way he is available to get on the SSB for the 8 AM and 8 PM cruisers nets. The static has been pretty bad so we aren't able to hear much or to talk with many others but it is nice
to have some communication while out here. So far so good, but we will be arriving in Rarotonga in 4- 5 days instead of 3 ½ which is OK with us as long as we arrive safely.

Friday, August 15, 2008

August 15th Update

Now back in Bora Bora we are enjoying the moorage at the yacht club. We have been rejoined by old friends on Spectacle (Andy & Melissa), and Nomad (Stewart), and have made some new friends among the cruisers here. The yacht club had been somewhat let go into disrepair, and a young couple (Teiva and Jessica) has purchased it and is pumping new blood into the place with the kind assistance of fellow cruisers. All that remains from the previous owner are the main structure which houses the bar and
former restaurant, a large BBQ grill and picnic area and a couple of out buildings. Where there were once 25 moorings, only 7 remain. Thanks to the efforts of William, the skipper of s/v Fuente , progress has been made to amass a few more. Steve aboard s/v Bliss has gathered old planks and crates to make a stemware hanger for the bar. We haven't been much assistance other than to contribute monetarily by paying a mooring fee, patronizing the bar which serves basic alcoholic and non-alcoholic
beverages but no food, and paying to do laundry. This has been the best bargain for laundry since Mexico! We only pay 500 francs per wash load and then hang dry on the boat.
We have fallen into a comfortable rhythm with this group here. One night we hosted cheeseburgers for Nomad and Spectacle aboard Destiny. Another night Estrellita and Bliss arranged a group dinner at the club wherein everyone brought their own meat for the grill, a side dish to share and we all purchased our own drinks from the yacht club. It was a great mixer! Last night we went to dinner at Bloody Mary's with Estrellita and Bliss. Tonight, our last night here, Spectacle invited us to join them,
Teiva and Jessica ashore for Andy's "world famous lamb stew".
We are once again awaiting Syren's arrival. They left Tahiti, went back to Moorea, are now at Raiatea and plan to meet up with us here today and then take the jump with us to the Cook Islands. Our plan is to leave here Saturday late morning for a 3 ½ - 4 day sail to Rarotonga. Depending on how we like the area we may spend a little while there before continuing westward to Niue, and then onward to the kingdom of Tonga. We have been a little hesitant about this next passage because we will be
going into an area of known erratic weather patterns. Several cruisers departed for the Cooks a couple of weeks ago and encountered a sudden and unexpected gale that caused some of the boats a lot of destruction. We have no firsthand knowledge of the damages but were told from various others that one of them "pitch-poled", meaning that he tumbled stern over bow. Another experienced an accidental jibe and lost their back stays, cracking their boom, and a third encountered a knockdown (turned over
sideways until the mast hit the water), damaging their main and mast. I'm a little nervous about this next one.
Well, well, well! We just got a call on the VHF from Syren telling us they are 6-7 miles out from the entrance to the channel. Amazing! It is midday so we will see them by early afternoon. It is possible this will be the last posting until we see what lies ahead of us with regard to radio communication and access to or lack of internet at the next port. As always, we welcome your prayers and well wishes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August 11, 2008 - We are now moored outside the Bora Bora Yacht Club.

Raiatea was an experience that goes under the personal adventure tab in the memory file.  After our stroll into town we had talked to Syren on the VHF and had told them we were moving onto a mooring outside of the Carenage ship yard in the next bay over from our present location, with the understanding that they were heading our way to meet up.  We spent a couple of nights there and had the good fortune to finally meet a couple named Sally and Brad Bagshaw on a boat called Pax Vobiscum (Peace be with you), out of Seattle.  We had seen them in various anchorages and heard them on the VHF along the way but had not yet met.  They came by in their dinghy to tell us that they were putting the boat on the hard and were leaving the following day to go home for a while, had wanted to meet us and to give us some items that would not store well while the boat was in dry dock.  They had a few housekeeping items to tend to on their boat first and so we invited them to come back later for sundowner (happy hour), and Poisson cru.  We immediately fell in love with these delightful people!  Both are attorneys (semi-retired), accomplished sailors and airplane pilots.  We shared life stories and nearly cried when they left because we had all felt that we'd forged a deep bond with one another and felt sad that it was on their last night aboard, yet grateful that we were able to spend that last evening with them.  Of course we traded email info with the hope that our paths will cross once again down the way.

Next morning we thought we had seen Syren pull into the adjacent bay but didn't hear from them so figured they were just real busy getting the repaired sail back on the boat and decided to leave them be until they had time to contact us.  We busied ourselves with boat stuff and then in the afternoon hailed them again.  They had picked up the sail and were anchored between us and the town (Uturoa), so we told them we'd see them as we passed by the next day on our way to town.  OK, then so we are getting ready to drop the mooring and head to town the next day, gave Syren a call only to find that they were already gone; headed back to Papeete (Tahiti) to pick up parts.. Such is the life of a cruiser.  We must be meant to meet in another place and time.

We arrived at the "downtown" wharf in time to secure one of the last available side-tie spots.  As is frequently the case fellow cruisers (Spirit of Ecstasy and Margarita) were there to help us dock.  Lou and Ian on SOE invited us for tea later in the afternoon.  We had much to do while here so we set off to whittle the list down.  Before leaving we needed to get to the bank in order to get our $3200 bond back, find a clinic to get our last Hep B boosters and hit the grocery store for final provisioning because we had heard that Bora Bora has none of these amenities.   We spent a lot of time walking around and only managed to get some groceries bought.  Uturoa is the second largest city (village) in FP, yet it is smaller than most US towns.  There are three grocery stores, all within one block, several small boutiques, a couple of banks and 4 eateries – one is only open for lunch, and two are Chinese.  The dock was crawling with big roaches so we had to take care to seal Destiny and to make sure all windows were screened at all times.  There are great fears among cruisers (at least for us women), and they are the infestation of either mice or roaches!  After our walk around the little town we went to tea on SOE.  Ian and Louise are adorable.  We learned that she is from South Africa, he from England.  He moved to South Africa and during many successful years in business, collected dozens of Jaguars (the autos), and although he wanted to collect Rolls Royces decided he would settle for naming their catamaran "Spirit of Ecstasy", after the maiden figurehead on the front of the Rolls.  We spent a very nice afternoon getting to know them and discussing future sailing plans.  It seems many of us are headed to New Zealand or Australia eventually. 

Friday morning we got up very early to try to get to the bank before the lines got out the door in order to retrieve our bond money and to find a place to get our vaccinations.  We found out once again that nothing is easy or directly accomplished here.  While Frank set out for the bank I went in search of a doctor's office.   After his stint in the bank line he found that we had to first go to the gendarmerie for a signature on our documents and then back to the bank.  I found that we have to first get a prescription from a doctor, take it to the pharmacy to get the serum, and then go back to the doctor for the injection.  I tried but discovered full waiting rooms and no reception areas at the 3 I visited.  I had no idea what to do to see a doctor.  We were told at the visitor's center that we could go to the hospital.  Together we decided to hit the gendarmerie and then go to the hospital to see what could be done there.  The gendarmerie was actually quite rude to us which, based on previous experience was surprising, and told us in excellent English that she doesn't speak English – only French.  She literally made us struggle to explain our needs to her and after quite a lot of trying and looking pretty silly, we were sure to her amusement, she pointed to our documents and told us that we cannot do that in Raiatea, we must go to the bank in Bora Bora.  Of course all of our documents are in French so we don't know what we are doing, but are still learning to practice patience and tolerance because this is not our country!  Next we set off for the hospital.  A doctor finally agreed to talk to us and with his limited French explained that he was too busy to help us and that we must go find a doctor to write an RX.  I explained that I had tried that but the doctor's offices were all full and we needed someone to help us out here.  He finally wrote an RX for each of us but told us that after we get the serum we must find another physician to give us the injection because he had no nurse that day, lots of patients and was just too busy to help us more.  What a nice man!  And it cost us nothing to have seen him.  Off we went to the pharmacy (only 1 in town).  Of course there was a very long line – we are now accustomed to long lines here, and think it is actually part of the social culture.  The locals arrive, hug and kiss and fall into various conversations with one another and with those arriving and leaving.  It is all very civil and quite affable to observe as an outsider.  There is no anxiety or foot tapping or nail biting among any of these gentle islanders as they wait in line. When we finally got to the counter we were told that there was only one available serum, but that a supply should arrive the next day.  We took the one and found a physician upstairs.  We waited in line and when we were next, the nurse informed us that they were closing for lunch and to return at 2 PM.  We asked if we should have an appointment but she said "no, just come back at 2".  We returned to Destiny for lunch and a rest and then trotted back over to the physician's office.  Arriving at 1:50, the waiting room was full.  Once again we were turned away and told to come back at between 6 & 6:30 the next morning but that being Saturday they would be closing early.  She was kind enough to refrigerate Frank's serum for us and we left to go get our grocery shopping done.  Naturally there are 3 grocery stores here for a very good reason; what you search for in one may be found in another. We scoured all three, coming up with a relative supply of items on our lists.  You learn to live with what you find and to be happy about it.   Back onboard we stowed goodies and settled in for another night of Alias.

Saturday morning bright and early we arrived at the doctor to get in line.  I had checked in at the pharmacy and been instructed to return at 9:00 for my serum.  Everything went perfectly!  At 8:45 I went down to the pharmacy, got in line, had my serum by 9:05, walked back upstairs to the waiting room, sat down with Frank and we got called up within 10 minutes.  Interestingly, during the wait I stepped into the water closet (bathroom) and was disarmed to find a rather nasty facility.  The sink and toilet were filthy and there was barely running cold water – no hot and no soap! I rinsed my hands and dried them on my shirt.  As I sat down again, Frank whispered over to me, "By the way, don't touch anything and if you do then do not put your hands to your face".  Right.  What was even more alarming was that we had already seen the doc come out of his office to use the toilet in between patients – cripes!  I kept thinking of episodes of ER, where the doctors went down into third world places to operate on people in facilities that looked like this one.  When we got called into the room, it was even more bizarre.  There was junk piled all over the patient "bed", and stuff just stacked all about willy nilly.  There was a small cart with some instruments on it that looked none too clean.  We rejoiced when we saw that our serum came already loaded into a sterile syringe!  The doctor actually did take some gauze soaked in alcohol to clean a spot on each of our arms, prior to injecting us.  That shot hurt like the devil!  After my injection I bled a little and so after fidgeting around looking for something to put on my arm, he finally settled on a piece of tape.  When we were finished and he had signed our World Health Certificate cards, we hightailed it right out of there, went straight to the dock, cast off the lines and set out for Bora Bora.  Au revoir, Raiatea!
while at sea: (note:the sender must include the character sequence "//WL2K" in the subject line of the message.)
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 2nd – Frank’s 60th birthday!!!!

For several days I have been trying to plan a birthday party for Frank's 60th.  This is no small task if one wants to host a surprise party; living on a 50-ft boat, communicating over open VHF channels one cannot easily convey information privately nor keep secrets.  Because cruisers move around so much – and often on a daily basis, I didn't know who to invite, nor did I know where my captain would decide we would be anchored on that day.  I had pretty much decided to play it one day at a time and wait to see who would be with us on the big day; hence I'd not made any concrete plans.  The plotting; however,  began in the anchorage of the Taravana Yacht Club on 7/31, where I got to sneak around by dinghy and talk in code over the radio to Imagine, Moasi and Liberty Call.  Luckily Julia and Sandy jumped right in and assured me that they would do the plotting and communicating for me if we could just lay some groundwork together.  Syren was elsewhere but kept promising to meet up with us eventually, not realizing that Frank's birthday was closing in, so we had to just hope that things would work out for them to join us.  The plan materialized as circumstances presented themselves to us.  Moasi is a catamaran and can seat a large group for dinner, so we decided to have a pot-luck birthday dinner for Frank there.  I provided the main course and the cake.  It is nearly too much to go into – and no one would believe what we went through to pull this thing off, but fate (destiny) made a step forward and came through for us again.  Syren showed up just in time to join in the festivities and we had a great party for Frank.  I had managed to find two beautiful whole rib eye roasts which I rubbed with rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, fresh crushed garlic and olive oil, and roasted on the grill.  They turned out better than any prime rib we have eaten before, probably because the meat here is so good.   Julia prepared herbed roasted potatoes, Sandy made a beautiful garden salad, and Helene (crew from Syren) brought her special marinated olives and pate with French bread.  Julia stuck sparklers into the cake and we all sang Happy Birthday. It turned out not to be much of a surprise but we had a good time nonetheless.

August 3rd the wind continued its strong gusts, and intermittent rain showers blasted us from time to time – usually just when we got all hatches and windows opened up, so we decided to stay another day in this protected anchorage.  We are amazed how many chores crop up when we are at anchor, so we set about doing them and because we felt "boat bound", we watched episodes of Alias to pass the time.   Joe has every episode of five seasons of Alias which he was kind enough to loan us. We had never watched it when we lived back home and now are hooked!  So every chance we get at down time we watch Alias in an effort to get through all 5 seasons before Joe leaves and takes the discs with him. 

August 4th we made a decision to get over to Raiatea because we had not yet been there.  Joe rode with us, pulling his dinghy with a torn sail as its passenger which was to get dropped off for repairs.  We managed to get on a mooring at the yacht charter marina for a couple of nights.  We did get internet and I called my daughter but could only hear every couple of words, so we took care of personal business online and then went to shore for a recon of the area.  We walked into the main village, about 4.5 kilometers away.  It was a nice walk and we wanted to do a little shopping but the periodic rains came along getting us relatively damp, so we just picked up a few items in town that we could carry back, including a beautiful tuna filet and accompaniments to make the Tahitian specialty, Poisson Crue (Tahitian Marinated Fish), following is the recipe:

1.5 lbs   fresh tuna (we use yellow fin)
1 small  shredded cabbage
½             cucumber, julienned
1 lg         tomato, chopped
1 med   onion, finely sliced
8              limes – juice of
½             carrot, shredded or julienned
1 c           coconut milk
1 sm       green pepper (or red, yellow, etc.), finely sliced

Dice the fish into ½ inch cubes, rinse with fresh water and place in large bowl.
Squeeze the limes and pour the juice over the fresh fish.  Mix well and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
While the fish is marinating, prepare the vegetables, mix them together and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the vegetables to the marinated tuna, then return to the refrigerator.

5 minutes before serving , pour on the chilled coconut milk, mix well and serve with sliced fresh baguettes!
while at sea: (subject line:WL2K)
Skype ID: frank.barb.gladney

Monday, August 4, 2008

July 31, 2008

Another week just whizzed by! After leaving the Martins, Frank and I went back to Bloody Mary's pier and found a mooring, and then later on went to a pot luck on Cop Out, where Don and Marcie former crew of Spirit of Ecstasy, were now staying with Ken and Wendy. We introduced them to Frank's Tri-tip (a tailgate specialty of his), and the 6 of us had a wonderful evening.

The next day (July 23rd), we decided to return to the islands that we had pretty much rushed through, so we leisurely sailed back to Tahaa and Huahine. With the rains now gone we had an opportunity to capture the true beauty of these amazing islands. This time, the bays in Huahine took on a completely new dynamic and one which caused us to feel we hadn't even been there before. We spent nearly a week in Huahine anchored most of the time in an unspoiled lagoon in front of Hotel Mahana (lots of Mahanas
here!), snorkeling with the Peasleys and the Tates (Christine and Jaime from Morning Light). One day we rented a car with the Peasleys and toured the island, visiting religious and historic ruins, and generally taking in the incredible vistas at each bay along the route. Syren was to have met us there but we still had not seen them. Christine and Jaime were leaving because their time in FP is coming to an end so Destiny hosted a pot-luck with the group on their last night in Huahine, wishing Syren
could have arrived in time to join us. Finally, we heard from Joe that he & crew were on his way over. They arrived just after we returned from our drive, so Frank and I went for a short visit and to give Ryan his "welcome-to-French Polynesia" hug! Ryan and I spent time catching up while Helene brought out one savory snack after another, which was heartily devoured! She told me her mission is to "beef" Ryan up and to feed these guys healthy meals.

We had been without communications long enough so the next afternoon Frank and I cruised back over to Fare, the main village of Huahine where the only internet signal on the island could be found. It had been down during our last pass through and we were hoping to catch it on a good day to take care of business and to catch up with family and friends. Yes, it was a good day and we had a good signal as well. I tried calling my family and but got no one, so at least I got some emails off to them, and
managed an update to my blog. We still haven't had a good enough signal to upload pictures but that will come in time. I continue to fail to motivate the Captain to write because when he has down time he craves nothingness and he deserves to do absolutely nothing. We enjoyed our time in Fare, spending a couple of days there just walking around and browsing shops and on our last night enjoying a great meal at the local hotel.

We came back over to Tahaa on July 29th and moored at the Taravana Yacht Club. Imagine was kind enough to reserve a mooring for us as well as a reservation at the dinner and show that night. We were thrilled to find that Moasi (Ian and Julia) and Liberty Call (Darrell) would also be arriving and sharing our table for dinner. The evening was "smashing and brilliant" as Julia would say. The entertainment included musicians, Tahitian dancers and fire dancers. The meal was a buffet of local delicacies
and was prepared by Maoui and his wife, who are the son and daughter-in-law of the owner. They did a charming job with the décor and waited on us hand and foot throughout the evening. There must have been 50+ guests dining that evening, plus the others who arrived just to watch the show while Maoui personally attended to each individual. Of course when we got the bill we appreciated that we had paid for this exceptional service. We stayed at the yacht club a couple of days. I needed a machine to
wash laundry because sheets and towels are just too much to handle by hand for this girl. We gritted our teeth as we handed over 3000 francs (about $40) to wash two loads of laundry, which we brought back to the boat to hang to dry. When we leave FP our bank account will have an opportunity to recover, but for now we just keep handing it over!

The winds have picked up and are gusting even higher out of the south/southeast than before. Our wind meter has quit so we don't know the wind speed or our boat speed but were ready to find a sheltered bay, so we motored around to the westernmost bay in Tahaa and have been joined by Moasi, Imagine, Liberty Call and Syren. We are waiting for the winds to abate so that we can get out and have some fun. We also plan to see Raiatea before going over to Bora Bora. There isn't much here, and Saturday
is Frank's 60th birthday so we hope everyone will hunker down and stick around to celebrate with us.