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Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

Welcome

Welcome to Scott’s Coconut Milk Run blogsite. I will post occasional emails to this site to let you know what’s happening on my travels across the South Pacific.

Below our approximate route and dates are shown.

FROM

TO

APPROXIMATE MILES

DEPARTURE DATE

DEPARTURE DATE

OFFSHORE DAYS/TOTAL DAYS

BORA BORA

RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS

533

MAY 14

MAY 27

5/14

RAROTONGA

TONGA

818

MAY 27

JUNE 10

8/14

TONGA

SUVA, FIJI

434

JUNE 10

JUNE 24

4/14

SUVA

VANUATU

588

JUNE 24

JULY 8

6/14

VANUATU

NOUMEA, NEW CALEDONIA

300?

JULY 8

JULY 22

3/14

NOUMEA

BUNDABERG, AUSTRALIA

785

JULY 22

AUGUST 5

8/14

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

Gerard Returns with CD of photos and boat parts

Well, it’s Sunday morning and I’ve been to the Ala Wai boat harbor to pick up the autopilot that has to be FedExed overnight to New Hampshire to get fixed. Gerard was in good spirits for having flown all night with no sleep. One of the jewels he brought back is a CD of pictures of the adventure so far. Here’s a few starting with her going away cake.

The crack where the boat is leaking

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Down to the wire

In a few short hours I’ll be off to the Hawaiian Airlines flight that will take me to Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia. Steve and I will spend tonight at the Sheraton, see some friends of his tomorrow and then at 3:00 p.m. take our flight to Raiatea where Susan awaits us.  It’s a short hop with incredible views out the window of the islands  of FP. Moorea, Huahine, Tahaa and Raiatea should delight us with  their beauty from the air.

My bags are right at the limit of 70 lbs. each. My clothes take up a  small corner of my carry-on duffle. The only thing left to pack are  my toiletries. I’m still debating about the electric toothbrush. Power is a precious commodity on the boat, as is space. It will take up a little of each.

The autopilot brain that I sent overnight to New Hampshire arrived back yesterday all fixed. It’s a relief. It’s only our backup system, but it’s wonderful to have. I love to man the helm, but it’s quite a  job 24 hours a day.

Steve is still waiting to see if the wind indicator shows up.  Apparently there were a couple of shipping mixups. If it comes, it may be at the last minute today.

The adventure begins.

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In Raiatea

After leaving Honolulu yesterday we’re finally in Raiatea and on the
sweet Honu. On the drive to the airport my mom called and said she sold
the house. Whew, she found a condo last week and sold her house this
week. I’m so relieved to be on this long trip and not have to worry
about that.

Check-in at the airport was easy for me. I was worried, but it went very
smoothly. The bags were 67 and 70.35 pounds. Just under my limit. Steve
showed up about 30 minutes behind me and waited about an hour in line.
Then he had some mixup about his inter-island ticket. This mixup will
come back to haunt him again today.

The flight was easy, but Hawaiian Airlines was having all kinds of
technical problems with the video system and the film was only available
in French. C’est la vie!

Immigration was a breeze too. The bags came out quickly and customs
never stopped us. Just outside the doors Steve is suddenly surrounded by
three people, leis flying. Then it was my turn. Steve has some friends
that are here for a few months and they came to the airport to greet us
and whisk us away. Jacques, Jane and Titaua let us change some money and
loaded us in their vechicles for the short ride to the Sheraton.

The room was nice, with an ocean view and a king sized bed, but not the
two beds we requested. C’est la vie!

Around 9 this morning Jacques picked us up for brunch. Off we went the
Intercontinental where there was a lavish buffet set out. I tasted many
new delicious things today. What they were I still don’t know. After
lunch we had a nice walk around the property. There were fish to see in
a lagoon they had stocked. We were very leisurly, because our flight
wasn’t until 3:00.

Titaua had said that we should go to the airport and drop our baggage at
the freight office and it might be cheaper than taking excess baggage.
It’s a good thing she made this suggestion too. We arrived at the
airport around 12:45 and got the big heavy bags checked in. Jane was
exceptionally helpful speaking French for us. In the process we found
out that there is no flight at 3:00. So, we finally went over to the
ticket counter to find that we are acutally on the 1:15 flight which
leaves in 15 minutes! Plus, Steve still didn’t have ticket.

At the gate in Honolulu Steve’s travel agent handed him and envelope and
said “here’s your ticket.” We looked at it later on the plane only to
find a check in French Polynesian Francs made out to travel company.
Jane again translating we find out that he was supposed to exchange the
check last night for a ticket. Apparently, someone was waiting at the
airport for him. Oops. So, off to the other counter he had to go and buy
another ticket. We were the last to get on the plane. Luckily it was
late. However, we were on a very small plane and our luggage was on a
later flight that takes freight.

Captain Susan was quite surprised to see us show up hours earlier than
anticpated. Hugs and pictures ensued. A couple hours later we walked to
the Airport, retrieved our bags from a 30+ minute late plane and got a
ride back to the harbor.

Susan cooked us a three course dinner that consisted of pupus, which
included the most fabulous pate’, soft cammenbert and dry French
sausage. Then came the raw salad of many vegetable chopped. Following
the salad were crepes of ham, cheese and tomato. Ooh, la, la. What a
treat. It was terrific. Life is good. Very good.

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Boat fixin’

Even though Gerard did tons of work during his two weeks here, there was
more to do once we got here. Steve worked on getting the fresh water
leak fixed by replacing the hose on the starboard(left) fresh water
tank. I worked on get the prop generator(Oscar) back on. Oscar generates
electricity for us when we’re sailing. I reattached the wires and
mounted it back in it’s place. We think we have to adjust tomorrow. Oh
well.

After our hours of work we took a break for lunch and Susan bought us
poisson cru at a local restuarant. It was very tasty. It’s like ahi tuna
ceviche or poke’ but with coconut milk mixed in and veggies like
cucumber mixed in. It’s the main dish Tahiti is known for. Today’s was
probably the best I’ve had here. It was a lunch in the local style, very
leisurely. And just like in France the check only appears after you ask
for it.

Lunch over, we were hot and decided to go for a snorkel right here off
the boat harbor. Susan wanted to visit her favorite anenome. It has a
beautiful bright pink underbelly. Quite astonishing. I will certainly
run out of adjectives and superlatives to describe what I see. The
anenome is filled with blue dot damsel fish that dart in and out as we
snorkel. Also in our half hour swim we saw a big moray eel, and lots of
little keiki fish of all sorts. One of our favorites are the pennant
bannerfish. They’re a bit shy, but very cool.

Back at the boat we did a bit more work. I put the new belt on one of
the other juice generating altenators. This is the big efficient guy
that really cranks out electricity when the engine is running. Which it
currently is to charge the batteries for then night. We had a good
amount of wind today and the wind generator did a good job keeping us
charged.

It’s been fairly hot and humid since we got here. During dinner tonight
we had a pretty good squall go through dumping a heavy rain. It has
cooled down a bit, but cooler air has yet to make it below where I
write.

We’re still waiting to hear from the boat yard about the stantions and
we may go without them, jury rigging what we have. We’re excited to go,
but may well stay here in French Polynesia for a little more time in the
water. It’s hard to leave these beautiful fish. But alas there a plenty
of fish in the sea. OK, stop groaing.

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A new day, more fixes, some unexepected.

This morning Steve and Susan were up a while before me. So, when I got
up they were rarin’ to go. It took me a few cups of coffee and some
toast to catch up.

Steve got started on the cockpit lockers that were suspects in the leaks
we have in the cabin. Susan started in on the mizen mast leak. I finally
jumped in and got going on a stantion that looked suspicious for leaks
too. We took off more ceiling panels in the aft cabin and started
playing with the hose to find the leaks. Finally we found a leak near
one of the main traveller block and around the cockpit coaming cap.
That’s the nice varnished teak on top of the cockpit lockers. The water
flowed fast into the aft cabin as she sprayed the hose.

As Steve progressed we filled the holes with a magic compound called
5200. It’s an adhesive and a wonder of the marine world. Steve dug out
all the grunge in the corner of the cockpit lockers, finding a hole in
the bottom near the drain in the aft port locker. It leads directly into
the head. It looks like should have had a drain hose on it, but it
doesn’t. The deep corners of the lockers actually looked good and Steve
filled them with 5200. We don’t think that the forward locker has been
leaking into the cabin.

At some time during all this I decided to cook lunch. I made an omlette
with salad and fried potatoes. However, as I cooked my fire got lower
and lower. So, I said to Susan that something was wrong. She looked
around and wandered into the aft cabin to a strong smell of propane.
Apparently when we took the cabin ceiling off we pushed the propane hose
up into a screw that was sticking down. This caused a big hissing noise.
Fortunately lunch was about ready. I finished it up in the microwave,
using tons of precious electricity in the 45 seconds I used it. We
turned off the propane and ate.

After lunch Susan and I wandered into Uturoa to look for a solution. We
ended up at 4 stores and came back probably an hour and a half later
with a few parts. Threading the hose back in took the longest. Finally,
we had propane again. Whew. I had let Susan know that I wouldn’t go on
without propane. Steve too said he couldn’t do without morning coffee.
Good thing we got it working again. We’re proud of ourselves.

Steve finished up the lockers and took care of some adjustments to
Oscar, the prop generator. I also installed a breaker on the house
electric system that Gerard sent down.

We’re off soon to the roulattes (lunch wagons) to have pizza. The sunset
is glorious. Red and lovely.

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

Under way

We left Raiatea! We didn’t go far, just to Tahaa, the island next door
in the same lagoon. But it feels great to leave Uturoa. We checked out
with at very handsome Gendarme at the local station, got fuel, baguettes
and sailed for a while. Then we had to motor the rest of the way. We’re
currently anchored off motu Atara on the north east side of Tahaa.

Steve and I tried his air hookah and found we needed weights. After
donning weights it was much easier. The skies were cloudy so the colors
weren’t bright, but there are lots of baby fish around the boat in the
coral. There are plenty of adults too.

All three of us are relieved to be on our way. Tomorrow we head on. We
may try to stop in Maupiti or Mopelia, the later of which is a turtle
sancutary. Both have difficult entrances to their lagoons with strong
currents in them. South West winds continued today, which is where we
want to go, so until that changes much is up in the air. Bora Bora is
still possible too. It’s where the wind takes us.

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Food

O.K. you’re probably sick of hearing about the boat systems by now. So,
I’ll talk about grocery stores instead. With one note about the boat:
we’re almost ready. We may take off in the morning for a shakedown tour
of French Polnesia. Tahaa or Bora Bora.

The three grocery stores in Uturoa are an amazement to me. They’re
pretty small, but the variety and French influence make me want to spend
hours in them. Plus they’re cool inside.

Try to find in Honolulu any of the following items: cassoulet(French
bean stew) in a can, lentils and sausages in a can (French franks and
beans), butter in a can, shelf stable fricasee of duck with green peas,
or shelf stable milk and cheese. I haven’t really looked carefully at
every shelf yet either.

There are fresh baguettes everywhere. Also, madeleines individually
wrapped and sold in a big bag. (Not mandolines Howard) Pate’ and fresh
cheese. And then there’s the freezer section. There are three kinds of
puff pastry, big sheets, smaller sheets and then there’s the block. Duck
breast, New Zealand lamb and meats of all sort are available frozen.

The people here couldn’t be nicer. Strangers wave and say bonjour or
iorana(Tahitia hello). When they do, it’s with a small smile, no teeth
but a very warm greeting. They also look you right in the eye when they
do it.

Tomorrow we’re going to pull over to the public dock, which is very
close to all three grocery stores. It will be joy to stock up the boat
with all the goodies Uturoa has to offer.

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We’re off.

Finally, we’re in shape to get going tomorrow. We’re stocked up on food
and have new batteries.

The old batteries wouldn’t hold a charge all night with very little on.
We also got a battery for Steve’s scuba hookah. So, we have a spare and
we saved one of the old ones, just in case. Changing the batteries
turned into a bigger project than we thought, but now it’s done we’re
happy.

I did find some new things I hadn’t seen before in the stores: shelf
stable boxed sauces, like hollandaise. I had to buy one of them.
Shopping was a joy. We’re nicely loaded up with Tahitian/French
food. We’ll get some baguettes in the morning, fill up the fuel tank and
at least leave Uturoa.

Where we go for our shakedown cruise isn’t decided, but it’s either
Tahaa or Bora Bora. I can’t say one is better than the other, but the
diving we did last year off Tahaa was amazing.

I’m going to also try and upload a picture that I’ve made small in size.
Look in the photos section and someone email me back that it’s there.
It’s a picture of Susan’s anenome with a blue spot damselfish.

I hope I’m not boring you all to death with all these details, but I
think I’ll enjoy having this record to read again later. I want to
remember as much as possible of this gigantic adventure.

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

well maybe

Apparently French Polynesia isn’t done with us yet. Last night it rained
hard and the morning finds us with mixed weather. Rain on and off and
westerly winds. Unfortunately, west is where we want to go. As Steve
says “Murphy’s Law.” So, it’s still up in the air where we head today.

There are way worse places to be waiting. Uturoa is cute and has
everything we need and most of what we want. And then there’s the
grocery stores. But, I already went on too long about that. So, beware
abrupt subject change coming.

Dogs abound here. They run around and don’t apparently have owners. They
all look at you with sad doe eyes hoping for a handout. I haven’t found
one yet freindly enough to pet. Yesterday, a beautiful border collie was
sitting on the dock not far from the boat. The moment I took one step in
his/her direction the dog took off like a bullet and didn’t stop running
for quite a ways. Oh well for so much for doggy diplomacy.

Time to dial in and get some weather reports.

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What a difference 24 hours makes.

We left Raiatea yesterday around 12:30 and headed out to sea toward an
atoll called Maupihaa or Mopelia or Lord Howe Island. It’s still part of
French Polynesia. The sailing went well, but not without a few hiccups.
Nothing major though.

The single entrance to this lagoon is always flowing out at a very fast
rate. Consequently, it’s difficult driving to get in. Susan did a superb
job of it. Still my heart raced as we came in. The water was rushing by
the boat so fast and one wrong turn and we’d crash on the reef. The boat
kept trying to turn sideways and head back out. With her deft driving
skill we were inside in no time.

Birds of all sorts buzzed by the boat to check us out. We wandered
around the lagoon for a while and choose an anchorage. It is the picture
of what you imagine a deserted island to be. However, it isn’t quite
deserted. Ten people live here and one came out in a boat to greet us.
He did his best to communicate and from the combination of his English
and French I got some of what he said. His family has lived on this
atoll for 50 years. He was born off the atoll. More than one family
comprises the 10. Another boat left yesterday. The floating balls we see
are from a no more black pearl operation. He wanted to trade lobsters
for rum. Are we sure we didn’t have rum? It’s not for him, but for
someone else at the other end of the island. We gave him some fruit and
he departed.

This is a extremely special place that very, very few get to visit. It
is already an immense treat and we haven’t even explored yet. I did take
a quick dunk in the water to see huge coral head that is fairly close to
the boat. It is teeming with fish. There are quite a few varieties I
don’t know. I’ll have to go again and then come back to look them up in
the books Susan has on board.

We’re having some trouble getting weather reports from our
buoyweather.com provider. So, if anyone would like to look up the
weather for us, we’d be geatfull. It’s difficult to find, but somewhere
on the internet it exists. We’re at 16.46S, 153.56W.

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Happy at anchorage

Last night after our dinner of duck breast, yellow wax beans, fried
green tomatoes and hockey puck corn muffins the sky started to light up
with lightening. It was far off and pretty sight. The stars above were
amazing. I could even see the Magellenic Cloud. It’s just a round whisp
of light in the sky even in the binoculars. However it is two galaxies
each the size of the Milk Way superimposed on each other. Of course, the
Milky Way was in view. Not the candy bar. Although we did have a bit of
chocolate for dessert.

A few hours later the storm had moved over us and the boat was rocking
and rolling. We had anchored in sand which is a pretty good place to
anchor. Still, we were worried about dragging the anchor and ending up
grounded or hitting coral heads damaging the boat. The winds really
picked up along witht he waves. The bow of the boat where I was sleeping
in the v-berth groaned with the sound of the chain bouncing. I got up
twice to adjust it to try and lower the noise. Apparently though, I
slept through the worst of it when Susan and Steve were up contemplating
our circumstances.

This morning finds us in party cloudy weather with a bit of wind
blowing. Still this little atoll is gorgeous. We’re planning on staying
here at least for one more day. We will explore the beach and the ocean
nearby and visit the gaggle of birds around.

We have been sucessful at getting some weather and I’m about to dial in
to get more and send this missive.

Our love to all. We’re really grateful for your words of encouragment.

Scott's Sailing Adventures

I got my wish.

In all my snorkeling and diving in Hawaii I have never seen a shark. One
of my big wishes was to see sharks. I got my wish today.

Steve too Susan and I on the dinghy over to the “bird island” and we
said we’d make our way back to shore near the boat and call him on the
portable VHF radio to come get us. We didn’t walk far before seeing a
very small black tip reef shark in the shallows. He swam off. We
explored the island, seeing lots of birds with them checking us out in
return. They don’t have much human contact so they’re curious and swoop
down to see what we are. The juvenile boobies are probably the most
daring, although the noddys came pretty close too. Fairy turns, lesser
Frigate birds and red tail tropic birds were also around.We made our way
back to the main island of this atoll by a combination of hiking over
lava rock and wading. I’ve not waded in the ocean much and it was great
fun.

As we neared the shore of the main island Susan announced that there was
a shark ahead. She was wrong. There were six. All swiming with their
dorsal fins out of the water and that distinctive black tip showing. I
was a little unnerved as I was leading and once they heard me coming,
they turned to swim over and find out what I was. Susan told me to put
our snorkel bag in the water and that would scare them away. On this
point she was exactly right. She’s had experience with these guys at
Palmyra. In all honesty it was silly to get worked up about these
sharks, the biggest was probably 18 inches long. I’ve seen bigger fish
when snorkeling and they never bothered me. I also know that black tips
don’t usually attack humans. But then they are sharks. They have a bad
reputation.

We got out of the water and over the next hour or so we saw many more
sharks. None more than two feet. I got brave and started wading into the
water to get them to come over. And they did. We’ve got a few of
pictures of them. In the pictures of them alone we could claim they were
huge, but then the next shot has my foot in it ruining their fearsome
appearance.

The island is also covered with stawberry hermit crabs in all sizes.
They take what shells they can find to live in and as they grow they
have to find bigger shells. They even climb trees. We saw one today up a
tree with the most beautiful shell. We told him he was very lucky to
live in such a beautiful house. All down the beach we stopped to see
what these little crabs were living in. Some were living decidedly
downscale while others were more upper crusty in their choice of abodes.

Steve picked us up on the beach and we had a pleasant dinghy ride back.
After lunch and a short rest Steve went off with his dive hookah and I
went off snorkeling. We regrouped at the boat and had dinner of Hunter’s
chicken, rice and garlic bread. Thats the end of our fresh meat, so it’s
time to start opening cans and boxes. We have plenty of them from the
French inspired grocery stores of Uturoa. Needless to say, we won’t go
hungry.

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

Wow

What a day. We awoke to very calm waters around the boat and visibility
25 feet to the bottom. There are dead trees all over the sea floor under
the boat. Remnants of some storm. We were visited again by Kalami
the local guy and he came bearing coconuts. He insisted on giving
us 2 each even though we said 1 was enough. Soon after, Susan and Steve
went off on his dive hookah and I went snorkeling. It was excellent. Not
exactly crystal clear, but pretty wonderful. I saw lots of fish I didn’t
know and back on the boat I couldn’t remember them all to lookup in the
books. A bright yellow pufferfish was a highlight as was the lined
surgeonfish. The water was teeming.

I came back to the boat and soon Susan traded positions with me and I
got to use the dive hookah. It’s like diving but without the tank on
your back. A compressor is up at the surface in the dinghy and two
people can dive to a depth of about 25 feet. A line comes down and into
a regulator just like a dive regulator. We stayed down most of an hour
and by then I was completely a prune. We saw many neat things and it’s
fun to get up close to things that you can’t when snorkeling. Cleaner
wrasses normally clean other fish but kept checking us out, especially
Steve’s calves. One actually tugged on his rear pocket a little.

The day after the storm a catamaran showed up as we were going off to
walk in the water with the sharks. Today, Michelline, an Aussie woman
from the boat came over for a chat and invited us over for drinks. I
baked some lemon bars to take over and put some fresh coconut in,
courtesy of Kalami. Susan and lazed around under the
Bimini (canvas cockpit cover) putting together our new drogue. It’s a
device that slows down the boat in big storms. We have to attach a
series of cones to the long line (rope to non sailors). They have to
weaved into the line and then tied off. It’s tedious, but gives us
something to do while we talk. We can’t get into too deep of
conversations or some of us (Susan) starts putting them on wrong.

Susan shuttled Steve ashore so he could explore. We promised to pick him
up for our date with Michelline & David. All afternoon loud singing and
laughte were coming from their boat. We we arived we found out why. Two
more of the locals had come aboard for some rum. Victor & Hina were
there and Kalami arrived just before us. Karaoke was being sung, mostly
to rock bands like Bon Jovi. In the pot on the stove was (Alex stop
reading. No really, turn your head) a coconut crab fully cooked. These
guys are the giants of the crab world and love to eat coconuts. They
take many, many years to mature and grow really large. This one was
probably 3 to 4 pounds, maybe 15 – 20 years old? They get upward
of 25 pounds. They’re land crabs but start their lives in the ocean.
They have one very strong claw and in a day’s time can get a coconut
open. The party was a little too wild for our tastes, but we had no easy
escape. Steve negotiated with Kalami through David to go out
lobstering tonight. Finally, the locals were drunk enough and Kalami
usered them out.

I helped David get the meat out of the crab, we added a little mayo and
salt and pepper. My hands are still oily. I guess all the coconut oil
they ingest stays in them. It made them incredibly rich, and very tasty.
(Sorry, Alex, but it was dead already.) David also had traded a bottle
of rum for a basket of spiny lobsters. I talked him into throwing some
of the very small ones back. They really were too small to bother with.
Better to let them reproduce.

So, Susan is polishing the coconut crab carapice to keep as a Mopelia
souvenir and Steve is off lobstering.

We’re all set with the weather stuff and looking to move on tomorrow if
everything looks good. It’s way more difficult to do this at sea, so, it
may be a couple of days before the next entry.

Good night and good luck.

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

On our way

We left Mopelia the day before yesterday and headed out for Roratonga.
We started out very nice and easy, but that didn’t last long enough.
After our dinner of lobster that Steve caught the winds picked up and
shifted directly to where we’re going. So, change of plans. We’re still
headed to the Cook Islands, but Aitutaki instead of Roratonga. After a
day and half plus of winds in the wrong direction, things are looking
up.

I’m experiencing a little seasickness, but nothing too dramatic. I just
feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous. Not bad enough to stop me
from eating. Although, I must admit that this typing is getting to me a
little, so I’ll cut this short.

We’re safe and slowly slogging our way to Aitutaki. The skies are clear
and the boat is pretty steady on a starboard tack. Susan is about to
start up the Iron Gennie (the engine). The front sail is called a Genoa
or Jib. So, the engine is the iron gennie.

We hope you’re all doing well.

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

Going nowhere, slowly at great expense.

A tongue in cheek book that Andrew gave me and Susan has already on the
boat defines sailing as “the fine art of getting wet and becoming ill
while slowly going nowhere at great expense.” This is proving very true
since our departure from lovely Mopelia. Also, from the book is the
definition of course: the direction in which a skipper wishes to steer
his boat and from which the wind is blowing. This is also proving true.

Since you cannot sail directly into the wind we cannot go to Roratonga,
nor to Aitutaki both in the Cooks. So we are going along as close to the
wind as we can, beating. The popularity of this Coconut Milk Run is the
easy downwind passages. Ha. Beating is difficult and makes everything
you do on the boat hard. Just getting to the head and taking care of
things in there is a 15 minute deal.

Cooking becomes quite fun when you’re bouncing around the galley.
Luckily, the stove is gimballed. This means that it sways and stays
mostly level side to side. It’s very odd to watch. Still, we had
mushroom and pepperoni pizza for lunch yesterday and chili with corn
muffins for dinner. I have to keep us fed. The pizza dough came as a box
mix from Uturoa and was nice. It certainly was more of a flaky French
dough than the traditional Italian.

I’ve pretty much got my sea legs, although too much time reading or here
on the computer makes me a little dizzy. Nausea has passed completely. I
just noticed that on starboard (right) side out the forward port I can
see below the water when we crash through certain waves. It’s not there
all the time, but occasionally. It’s cool, but it means we’re beating.

We should make it to Aitutaki sometime tomorrow morning, motoring the
last way to get the course we need, unless the wind shifts. Our weather
reports say it will, but they’re not very accurate.

We’ve been putting together our drogue and it’s almost done. It’s
tedious, but keeps your hands busy while up in the cockpit with nothing
to do. We’re not quite repeating stories yet, but I’m sure we will
before this is all over. I told Susan I think she got me here on false
pretenses. Easy light tradewind sailing downwind. Right!

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Aitutaki, Cooks Islands

We made it this morning to Aitutaki, in the Cook Islands. We had
originally set out for Roratonga, but the winds brought us here instead.
The passage into the “anchorage” is a bit shallow and we kissed the sand
once. Still, Susan expertly brought us here and we’ve put down two
anchors. I still feel like we’re moving. This anchorage is very small,
dragging anchor is a problem and there’s no room to swing. However, it’s
gorgeous. We have our “Q” flag up awaiting customs. Since it’s Sunday,
we’re not sure anyone will come out. We’re not supposed to leave the
boat until we’ve cleared customs. Church is going on and the sound of
hundreds of voices singing together wafts our way.

Aitutaki is called the Bora Bora of the Cook Islands. One can see why.
The water in the lagoon is crystal clear and all shades of blue
turqoise. Coral heads show up as dark patches and are numerous. We’re
ready to explore, but happy to sit and relax after our passage. The
water is very calm and Susan is making lunch. She cooked dinner last
night too. I’d say two meals in a row, but I made scones this morning.

We’re here and very glad to be. More to come after we’re allowed off the
boat.

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Survivor Aitutaki

Today we went into the town to Arutanga to check in with the
authorities. All our guides said that they would come to us, but they
don’t. Paperwork had to be filled in and our passports got stamped. We
changed money at the bank next door and sat down to wait for the Health
inspector Mataiti to come. He was a jolly guy and told us about how
abuzz Arutanga was about all the Americans already here and more due to
come in two weeks. The next version of the T.V. show “Survivor” is going
to start filming in two weeks.

After check-in Susan and I went shopping for groceries and Steve went
off to find out about diving. If we thought supplies were expensive in
French Polynesia, we were wrong. We decided several of the things on our
list could wait until Roratonga, which is supposedly much cheaper.

Steve ended up renting a car and we toured about every inch of the
island, including driving through the Survivor Base Camp. Lots of work
is being done in preparation for the show. We finally found the Marae,
or ancient holy site, The tourist maps they hand out have roads on them
that are no longer used and it was down one of these we went. Adventure
ensued. We got thoroughly stuck in the mud. A very nice local many
pulled us out and refused all attempts to compensate him

One of the highlights of our day was the Aitutaki Marine Research
Center. In large tanks, they had thousands of giant clams in various
stages. The center is trying to re-populate the lagoon. The clams have
been decimated by humans picking them for food. In another tank were
several small honu (green sea turtles). They were so cute. I’ve never
seen them so small. They probably weighed in at less than a pound. The
ones I baby-sit up at the North Shore of Oahu are from 150 to 300+
pounds.

Tonight we’re having dinner at Tauono’s a place where much of what’s on
the plate was grown in the gardens surrounding the restaurant. The fish
is local too. It should be a treat. The seating is outdoors and very
charming.

We also made reservations for tomorrow night to see the Island Nights
show. It moves around from place to place each night of the week. We
will see it at the Samade on the Beach “resort”. It’s a little place
with bungalows and the tables are in the sand right on the beach. We
stopped at several of the hotel/bungalow places and many are very
charming. We ate a nice fish and chips lunch at one call Te Vaka. The
British are the main influence here. They have crumpets in the grocery,
raisins are called sultanas and many other thing from the U.K. are on
the shelves of the store.

Tomorrow we hope to get in some marine adventures. Susan and Steve are
diving. The dive is a “wall” dive and deep, which I’m not quite ready
for. I’ll run off in the dinghy to find some snorkeling.

Thanks for all the well wishes coming our way. Howard has been keeping
us up-to-date with headlines. Just headlines. They ‘re very funny and we
enjoy them tremendously. Steve bought a paper today only to find out
later that it’s a week old. Oh well, we didn’t read the news from then
either. In reality, it’s been a very nice thing to not hear about all
the messed up places in the world.

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Roratonga

We left Aitutaki yesterday at high tide, kissing the bottom several
times on the way out. Still, it wasn’t bad. We motor sailed all the way
and got to Avatiu Harbor, Avarua, Roratonga around 12:30 p.m. The seas
were mild and wind very light on the passage. It was easy going.

We’re in a very odd spot in the harbor too. Basically, we’re med-moored
(Tahiti style) to a corner of the wharf. It about the only place we
could go. Our stern faces the corner and we have two anchors off the
front and all our fenders off the back. It took us an hour to anchor,
but finally we’re dug in.

We toured the town and it’s quite charming. There is a bit of traffic
compared to Aitutaki, but the town is much more appealing than Papette.
As we toured, the shops were closing. Tomorrow they’re only open until
noon and everything is closed on Sunday. Monday is a holiday. The day
off in celebration of the Queen’s Birthday. However, the actual
celebration is Saturday, June 17. Go figure.

We’ll see what we can get done tomorrow. We need diesel. We found out
yesterday that our two jerry cans of fuel are gasoline not diesel. So,
we have to get rid of the gas and fill the cans with diesel. Ferry them
to the boat, fill the tank and repeat. We have taken care of our port
and immigration paperwork so we can leave on Sunday or Monday. We didn’t
want to wait for the holiday to be over for us to go on to Niue. We’re a
bit behind our original schedule and are anxious to get going.

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All day refueling?

Today we woke up fairly early to get everything done before the shops
close at noon. Susan and I went off to the farmers market, which is
right next door to the wharf. We bought lots of fruit and veggies at
very good prices. The market also had shops set up selling all kinds of
souvenirs. Steve stayed behind and worked on renting a car. We needed it
to ferry diesel back and forth from the gas station. Luckily we had help
from fellow cruisers and they lent us some jerry cans and an electric
pump. We topped off the main tank, filled one of our auxiliary tanks and
our jerry cans. This was all going on while the two boats next to us
were doing the same with all the same equipment. Lots of sharing going
on. Very nice yachties helping all three boats out.

Both boats next door are cute little 28 footers from Poland. The crew on
each is 2 women. So, there are 3 female skippers in a row here. Very
unusual. I can’t imagine sailing here from Poland. I thought I was far
from home.

During all this activity, I wasn’t really doing anything, so I went off
to the groceries and Steve retrieved me when I was done. I loaded us up
with more canned goods. We were very low on canned veggies. I also
picked up some New Zealand lamb shanks and a chicken, both frozen. The
fridge is about 1/2 full of Diet Coke. The store wasn’t as fun as in
French Polynesia, but still had many interesting items. I also had time
for a little souvenir shopping too. I got nice black pearl necklace. I
bought one last year in Tahiti, but I wanted a bigger one.

By 2 p.m. most of the shops were closed and we were fueled up. I went
off for a shower at the harbor office. To my great surprise the water
was hot! When I got back Susan and Steve greeted me with the bad new
that our main diesel tank is leaking. Fairly fast. We knew we had a leak
and had tried a fix. Apparently, it didn’t quite work. Susan had picked
up some baby diapers for just such a sopping up occasion. However, they
were soon depleted. I ran off to the one remaining store that was open
until 4 p.m. When I got back they were pumping some of the diesel out of
the main tank and re-seating the seal that was leaking. It seems O.K.
for now. Who knows once were underway and sloshing around more.

Warning, technical boat stuff to follow. You can skip to the next
paragraph if you’re not familiar with the boat. Our main bilge has a bit
of diesel in it now and the primary bilge pump isn’t working. We noticed
that yesterday. Which is actually quite a good thing. We don’t want to
pump out the bilge in harbor with this much fuel in it. Once were out of
here tomorrow we’ll pump it out, by the hand pump if necessary. Then
we’ll get the bilge pump working again. The bilge has had a bit of a
workout running every half hour or so when motoring. It took a while to
diagnose, but we found that the engine anti-siphon is spitting out water
that is running back down the bilge output hose. Both are in the same
cockpit drain. We hope we solved that by raising the bilge output hose
higher.

With all this time running around we haven’t really seen Roratonga.
We’ll drive around tomorrow and maybe even snorkel. Tomorrow is Sunday
and the locals really frown on doing anything. We’ve already been asked
“don’t you go to church on Sunday?” We pretended we didn’t hear them
ask. From what we understand it’s even stricter in Tonga. We’re making
Sundays sailing days from now on.

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Niue here we come

On Sunday we got up and Steve went off to church. He wanted to hear the
legendary Cook Island singing, which happens in church. Susan and I were
heathens and worked hard on cleaning up the boat, doing laundry, etc.
Laundry is a chore, especially at sea with limited fresh water. Our
water maker is doing great, but we still like to be a bit conservative
with the water. So, when in port with a hose and fresh water it’s
laundry time. The whole boat was strewn with clothes and sheets from our
bunks.

The wind picked up and Honu was drifting towards the Polish boat next
door. Susan and I worked on the anchors and stern lines to pull us away
a little. It worked, but the wind was strong enough that Susan said she
didn’t want to leave the boat. Steve and I took the car and did a
roundtrip of the island. We stopped for an art gallery, a couple of
hotels, a souvenir shop and for lunch. I had fish and chips for lunch.
The fish was parrotfish. It was most delicious. The batter was crispy
and the fish mild, flaky and with a distinct wonderful flavor. I see
these big fish swimming around in Hawaii. They are very colorful and fun
to watch eating the coral. They chew at the reef taking hunks off. Out
of their gills comes some new sand. Later at the other end, other new
sand is produced. This fact always gets a giggle out of the tikes that
visit Hanauma Bay where I volunteer. These fish also change sex. If
there aren’t enough females they change. If then there are too many
females they change back. Pretty amazing.

Back at the boat we finished stowing away everything, pulled up our two
anchors with relative ease and headed out of Avatiu Harbor. We sailed
smoothly all night last night with good winds and the moon showing the
way for most of it. It’s quite a difference sailing with no moon and
with moonlight. It’s certainly a bit scarier without the moon. Early
this morning the winds died and we’re now currently motoring. The wind
that there is comes directly from where we want to go once again.

Steve is puttering with the starboard running light. They’re new and the
one isn’t working. Susan is listening to a book on tape. These are a
great way to pass the time. I’ve been through one already and started on
a second. It’s much easier than reading and doesn’t make you seasick,
which reading can. The thing about getting your sea legs is that you
have to do it every time we head back out to the open ocean. We have
very mild seas and from a good direction today, so our adjustment is
quicker.

We hope to be in Niue by Friday. We’re all excited to see this tiny
island nation. Captain Cook never landed here in his three trips around
the Pacific Ocean. He named it Savage Island because the natives ran off
his boarding parties. Cook reported that they came running out throwing
things and had blood red teeth. He assumed it was from cannibalism. It
wasn’t. There was a red colored banana that the natives ate. They were
very wary of outsiders though and did try to keep them away. Even the
missionaries took way longer to infiltrate Niue compared to the rest of
Polynesia. More Niueans live in New Zealand than in Niue. In 2001 there
were 1,700 in Niue and 12,000 in New Zealand. There aren’t a lot of
economic opportunities in Niue. The cruising guides tell us that this
little nation is filled with the most friendly people we will encounter
in the Pacific. We’ll let you know.

Scott's Sailing Adventures Uncategorized

Night watch

It’s 3:30 A.M. and I’ve just come on for my three hour watch. We rotate
through three different shifts on our passages. I think the hardest is
the 9 P.M. to Midnight. Often the other two go off to bed after dinner
and so that shift really is 7 P.M. to Midnight. We try to stay up with
whomever has that shift, but it’s hard when you know you need some sleep
before your shift. However, after that shift you’ve got a good night to
sleep, so it has it’s advantages over the Midnight to 3 A.M. shift.

What are we watching for? Ships. Out here in this part of the Pacific
there isn’t much traffic and I have yet to see anything on any of my
watches. Those large container ships that haul cargo to the islands
we’re visiting are out there somewhere. They move really fast and can go
from a blip on the horizon to bearing down on you in fifteen minutes or
so. We have what’s called a hand bearing compass to help us determine if
the ship we see is on a collision course. The one we have now is new and
is built into a very nice pair of binoculars. If over time the compass
heading you see while looking at the ship doesn’t change, then you’re on
a collision course. If it changes you’re not. Luckily, in all my sailing
the ships I’ve spotted were never headed towards us.

We also keep an eye on the sails if we’re sailing or the engine if we’re
motoring. The later of which we are currently. This passage has been
slow and the wind only co-operates for short intervals. We watch the
wind to see if it’s time to change from motoring to sailing and visa
versa. It’s a great time to listen to audio books. We have quite a
selection on board, with most of them nautically themed. “The Revenge of
the Whale: The True Story of the Whale Ship Essex” is the book I just
listened too. It was a great story, but the writing was just average. It
is a bit spooky though sitting here hearing about guys in a life raft
having to resort to cannibalism to survive. This was the 1820s though
and we’re way better equipted if anything drastic forced us to leave
Honu.

We have an emergency life raft that is filled with supplies. We have
extra water set aside to take with us. The most important item though is
the EPIRB. I’m not sure what all those letters mean, but I’m pretty sure
the last two are Rescue Beacon. This device, when activated, will send a
distress signal up to satellites as they pass over us. After several
passes our location can be determined.

The moon just set and now it’s dramitically darker. The stars are
brighter, the sky glorious. I can see the milky way and if I don’t look
right at it, the Magellenic cloud. Your eyes and brain trick you if you
try to look right at it. Somehow, if you look at it and away and at it
again you can trick your brain back into seeing it.

Night watches can be, get this, cold. Yes, even here in the South Pacific
the nights can be cold. I don’t mean cool. Tonight is warmer than the last
couple, but still I have on sweat pants and a light jacket. Last night I
had all this on plus I was sitting under a blanket. The main sail is
flapping around and I’ve got to do something about it…….

It’s now 5:00 A.M. I played with the main sail for a while, gave up and then
gave it another go. Finally, I got it to stop flapping and making thundering
“thwaps”. Of course, what worked was one of the first things I tried. I
don’t know why it didn’t work the first time. During all this our wind has
shifted to the south. This is great. Maybe we can sail, I thought. So, I
tried. I idled the engine and pulled out the jib. Yeah, we could have
sailed, but our speed was less than 2 knots. At that rate we’d get to Niue
in two weeks. I pulled the jib back in and pushed the throttle back up and
away we go, back up to 5 knots. If you want to know how fast we’re going, go
get in your car and drive to the grocery store at about 5 m.p.h. Then slow
down to 2 m.p.h.

Our fuel will only last so long and they we’ll have to sail the rest of the
way. I’m voting to save at least enough to motor from Niue to Tonga, but we
do have to get to Niue first, so that may not be practical. We don’t know if
Niue will have diesel for sale or not. If they do, I imagine it will be the
most expensive diesel we encounter.

We’re about to cross into a new timezone. We will be GMT -11 soon. That
means we’re one hour eariler than Hawaii and 7 hours early than the East
Coast and 11 hours earlier than London. In a couple of weeks we’ll cross the
International Date Line and then we’ll be in a different day from y’all.
Cool.

Our trip odometer will hit the 1,000 nautical mile mark in the next couple
of hours. I can’t believe we’ve traveled that far already. This zig-zag
course to Niue has certainly added a good number to the total. So much for
“as the crow flies”.

Our best to everyone and let us know what you’re up to. We’re not getting
much email with news from family and friends. Howard is still sending us the
headlines, which is a big hit. Susan says “that’s all you need. Just the
headlines”.

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