Sunday, June 29, 2008


Saturday we sailed the 20 mile passage to Raiatea Island. This is the second largest and most populated, next to Tahiti, in French Polynesia. There are two haulout facilities and this seems to be the main center of boat maintenance in the S Pacific. But we have decided to postpone our haulout and hope to make it to NZ and do a major refit there.
We had a 15 knot tail wind and sloppy seas but managed to get in behind the reef and motor down another 5 miles to Baie Faaroa, a deep bay with a river at the end and lots of houses along the shores. Moorings and/or Sunsail have mooring balls in the bay as well where they park their charter boats, mostly catamarans from what we can see. It is a large bay though and we anchored off the mouth of the river in brown silty mud. The holding is good and just as well because the wind came up overnight
and funnelled through the bay at 30 knots or more. We swayed around and listened to the hum of the rigging but held fine. Today was cloudy with showers and the wind continued till mid afternoon when it stopped completely.
So we did boat chores and read books and relaxed. Tomorrow we go in search of propane!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Moorea was nice but Huahine is very nice! Maybe it was the head cold or the strong winds that kept us boatbound but we were ready to leave Moorea. We skipped the next bay over where you can swim with the rays and sharks because it was too crowded.
So we hauled the anchor around noon and planned an overnighter for the 90 miles to Huahine. We had nice sailing for the first half, interspersed with heavy showers and gusty squalls, but then the wind went very light and we motor sailed the rest of the way to arrive at the S end of Huahine at daybreak. Tried three times to anchor on the shelf inside the reef, in about 15' of water, but we gave up and dropped the hook in front of the village in deeper water but with something on the bottom the anchor
could dig into! On the reef shelf, there was only a very fine layer of sand so unless the anchor hooked on coral, it just dragged. With the winds we had just experienced on Moorea, we would not get any sleep unless we knew the anchor was set.
It is quite nice off the village. The boat streams to the W due to the current that constantly runs out of the pass behind us. This is because the swell coming up from the SE breaks over the reef and fills the lagoon to overflowing. There is just enough breeze to make the hot sun bearable and the water is clear for swimming.
We have met up with Brian & Cathy on 'Tarun' again and Barry & Ann on 'Cat's Paw IV' are here as well. So we had our traditional celebratory beer before noon and settled in to relax for a while.
We are beginning to realize that we are drawing to the end of our French Polynesian experience. They gave us 3 months and that will be up July 21st. We are also hearing rumours now of boats who landed illegally in Fatu Hiva (like we did), being fined $200US for not clearing in properly first! Guess it pays to be the first ones in! There are only two, maybe three, islands left to visit before we clear out of the country. The next, Raiatea which we can see in the distance, has haulout facilities
and services for fixing broken gear. We seem to be in fairly good shape (touch wood), so will skip the bottom painting here and hope to make it to NZ for a major refit. After that is the jewel of the S Pacific, Bora Bora, and we are looking forward to seeing it. This is where we do our final clearance out of the country and retrieve the bond they made us post on entry. This amounted to about $3200US and guaranteed to them that we had the means to leave the country if necessary. I guess they
don't like foreign hippies becoming a burden on them! After Bora Bora, there are two small islands we were told we could stop at on our way by. We may visit one of them, Ile Maupiti, if conditions are favourable.
Our destination after French Polynesia is the Cook Islands but which island is still under discussion. We are leaning to Rarotonga but Aitutaki is on a more direct line to Niue which would be our next stop after the Cooks. I doubt we will do any exploring in the Cooks as the islands are small and do not seem to offer much. From Bora Bora to the Cook Islands is about 500 miles and from there to Niue looks like about another 400 miles so the legs are getting longer. After Niue comes Tonga and then
a decision whether to go directly down to NZ, a 1000 mile passage that requires careful weather routing to avoid the depressions that move constantly from the Tasman Sea going E to NZ, or continue further W to Fiji or even New Caledonia, where you get a better angle on the long leg S to NZ. Time and weather will influence those decisions.
But for now, we relax in Huahine! Yesterday we went into the village and found a stage set up in a covered area where bands were playing in a music festival. Sipping on a cold fresh coconut and enjoying the music, which was a mix of French and Polynesian songs with guitars, electric keyboards and voice. People were sporting their best straw hats with lots of flowers wound around them and the tattoos were much in evidence. Then walking back to the dinghy we came across the weighing in of a fishing
competition which saw giant mahi-mahi and swordfish hoisted up on block & tackles to see who got the prize!
Sunday today and maybe we'll drop the dinghy anchor on the reef shelf and see what kind of coloured fishies are out there!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On the reef!

No, not literally....well not quite anyway! Today we moved out of Cooks Bay to a spot just inside the pass through the reef; just off to the side as you enter the bay. Unlike the end of the bay where we have been anchored for a week now, the water here is crystal clear and has that beautiful turquoise colour you expect in these kinds of places.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, yesterday we rented a car and drove around Moorea and this morning after coffee; we hiked up the road and around the point to visit the 'juice factory'! They have a large production processing plant where they make pineapple, coconut, papaya, orange, banana and various blends of juices. They also make some with booze in them and have a sampling we hiked up to check it out. It was very touristy and in fact as we tried to get near the bar to have a sample,
we would be overwhelmed by a truckload of folks fresh off the cruise ship anchored in the next bay! But we had a nice walk and when we returned to Toketie, it felt like time for a change so we dragged the anchor out of the mud...with great resistance...must have been those 40+ knot gusts....and moved to the head of the bay.
Completely different world out here! After setting the hook in the deep part, we backed down onto the sandy surface inside the reef. Here it is only about 10-12 feet deep but our anchor is over the hill into the deep part so we should hold long as the wind keeps blowing from the bay! The winds seem to have settled down finally and the forecast is for light wind tomorrow. We are hoping for a quiet night!
On arriving at the new anchorage on the reef shelf, we immediately donned snorkelling gear and jumped into the water! The plan was to scrub the waterline, which we accomplished, but with many distractions as we swam off to view the stingrays and other sea creatures around us!
Much more relaxing out here!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Prisoners of the wind!

Other than the couple of hours when we went ashore to see the Tahitian dancers, we have been boat-bound due to the wind! A fairly steady 30 knots with gusts over 40 knots is keeping everyone watching their anchors. It funnels through the valley between two mountains and is concentrated in Cooks Bay, where we are anchored. The bottom is sticky mud and seems to be fairly good holding and although a couple of boats have re-anchored due to dragging or not being set properly but we seem to be holding
fine so far! We have 260 feet of chain out and about a 30 # kellet keeping the scope on that low!
They are forecasting this system from the S to affect us through the weekend so we may not be doing any exploring in the next couple of days.
But it is a beautiful place and we can always find chores to do on board. Having recently acquired the new weather fax schedule, I have been downloading various weather files to understand the patterns locally.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Surf's Up!

There is an area on the SW side of the big Island of Tahiti that is said to be where the world champion surfing competitions are held! It is also supposedly a very dangerous place to surf because of the reefs. Needless to say, the surfers are converging on it!
We are safely tucked into Cooks Bay on the NW side of Moorea and with a large swell forecast from the SW, we are glad to be here. Boats were clearing out of the anchorage in Papeete behind the reef where we were. The swell was already coming over the reef and we felt it the day before we left. Boats are reporting today that they could not sleep last night and there were standing waves in the W pass. This is part of a weather convergence zone south of us that is expected to bring a change in weather.
The sky is overcast and we have had several small showers so we can see the change coming!
Today we stayed on board, mostly because the Captain was nursing a head cold! Although now that I've finished the Sudoku book (thnx Y) and have no crosswords to will be only a matter of time before we go exploring. Fortunately we ran into a pile of trashy novels recently that helps keep the boredom down!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Anchored in Cooks Bay after a short but 'spirited' sail from Tahiti, hitting 8.5 knots at times! This is a very peaceful and beautiful place, especially after a week in the city! Tonight we dinghied into the local bar/resort to see the Tahitian dancers. They showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm! No swell here so should be a restful night!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

black pearl farming





Papeete, Tahiti

Anchored around the NE side of the Island, past the airport and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Looking out to the sunset, huge rollers break on the reef only a few hundred meters away. In the distance, Moorea looms! It is a beautiful setting. A short dinghy ride to a marina gives us access to 'le truck' which takes us downtown. A ten minute walk to the 'Carrefoure' which is the French equivalent of Walmart.
The sun is shining and the breeze makes the heat and humidity almost bearable. Tahiti seems like a crossroads for ocean travelers. From here boats are bound N to Hawaii or E to the Panama Canal or W to Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand. French boats, Dutch boats, English boats, Canadian boats, American boats, Polish boats etc... And everyone of them has tales to tell, the common bond being the oceans we've crossed and the ones we gaze ahead at. From the largest sailing yacht in the world, the 'Maltese
Falcon' moored downtown to the grubbiest little derelict still afloat, you see them all here.
And among them, Toketie bobs gently, pulling on her anchor chain...almost to say...'where to next?'....and we ask ourselves the same question. This feels like a halfway point and we take a deep breath before taking the next step across a very big ocean.

Monday, June 02, 2008


This is what it is supposed to be like! A steady 15-20 knot breeze from the same direction, in this case ESE, with occasional gusts to 25 that drive us off course, clear blue skies with big fluffy white clouds! As forecast, we have had probably some of the best sailing so far since we left Fakarava atoll. In keeping with the old sailing superstition, having mentioned how great the wind is, I am 'touching wood' that it will hold to Tahiti!
Tahiti! Just the name conjures up romantic images of the South Seas! The largest island of the Society Islands, with high, spectacular, sharp peaks, is surrounded by a coral barrier reef from half to two miles off the coast with many passes allowing entry through the reef. With luck we will spot it at first light tomorrow! The main port and administrative center is Papeete, with all the hustle and bustle of the largest city in French Polynesia. The change should be interesting. But we have
provisioning to do, fuel and water to take on and a few maintenance issues to address.
Meanwhile, 'Merlin', the monitor wind vane, steers us round the clock as the large ocean swells from the SE roll under us and Toketie logs the miles under her keel!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Goodbye 'Tomatoes', Hello Societies!

In spite of the painfully slow passage getting to the Tuomotus and the bumpy ride entering our first one, we are sure glad we took the time to visit them. The two we stopped at, Kauehi and Fakarava, had very different characters but both were charming.
Early this morning (Sunday), we cleared the pass at the N end of Fakarava and set a course for Tahiti! The weather reports, both grib files and French Polyniesian report were favourable indicating 15-20 knots of wind from the East for the next 3 days. It is almost sunset and so far it has been glorious sailing all day. Let's hope it continues!