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Leg 2 - 2005 Tahiti, Tuamotus, Moorea, Tahiti

Leg 2-05 Inter Island Tahiti
June 18, 2005, 0600, 17.29 S, 150.06 W, Log: 88,723 miles
Close-hauled under full main and 130% Genoa at 6.3 kts, Winds: 16 kts, NE, seas: 1'
Baro: 1013, Cabin Temp: 88F, Cockpit Temp: 79F

Moorea Ahead!

What a sail we've had last night and this morning! Of the dozens of times we've made the passage from Huahine to Moorea, a distance of 90 miles, it seems like we either have strong headwinds with rough seas or no wind at all. We set sail from Huahine at 1600 yesterday and have had winds averaging 10-12 knots throughout the night and without the prevailing SE trades, our NE winds have allowed us to sail on the same tack to within 20 miles of Moorea. The eastern sky is lightening and the rugged outline of Moorea is on the bow. We could motorsail to arrive quicker but we'll continue the tradition of this leg, sailing all the way in to the anchorage.

Our Leg 2 crew joined us in Tahiti ten days ago and early the following morning we set sail for Rangiroa in the Tuamotu or Dangerous Archipelago. At a distance of 200 miles, we hoped to complete the passage with only a night at sea and that worked.

Leaving the island of Tahiti

Sue's map of the island we plan to visit

The next morning as we sailed by the first of two passes into the coral atoll's lagoon we hooked a large wahoo, what a welcome. We tacked through Tiputa Pass, then sailed to the anchorage off the Kia Ora Hotel, passing by a sistership, Indeed.

Landing our first wahoo

Ceviche prep chefs Dick and Bob

M.T sailing in Rangiroa's lagoon

Crew prepare to drop the main

Stowing the sails

Giorgio and Laura Cagliero from Italy had joined us on a Samoa-Fiji leg three or four years ago, then took delivery of their new HR 46 Indeed in Sweden. They crossed the Atlantic with the ARC (Atlantic Race for Cruisers) with past expedition members Tom Zacher and Dennis Parker as crew and after cruising the Caribbean, Indeed sailed north to Newport, RI, then headed west through the Canal to the Galapagos, Marquesas and now the Tuamotus. It is always rewarding to meet past expedition members out here living their own dreams and a fun evening was had sharing wahoo dinner and sea stories.

The following day was a busy one, half the crew joined us for a pre-dawn run ashore at 0545, then after breakfast our dive gang had to be ashore by 0730 for the first of two spectacular dives.

Sue strikes a morning yoga pose

Our second dive was even better than the first! We saw large, well-fed sharks which are not interested in eating divers. A massive white and grey manta ray, even bigger than the sharks swam by with two remoras attached to its belly. We dove to 20 meters and saw numerous coral heads and a variety of fish. There was a large rock fish camouflaged so well that it was not visible unless until Rene, our dive master nudged it. After the dive we went for drinks at the Kia Ora Hotel. We not only enjoyed our drinks and sunset but were intrigued by floor of the over the water bar, it was glass so you could view the marine life beneath.

Saturday, June 11 we moved down the lagoon to anchor off an uninhabited beach, looking for a quiet place to spend the day. We took rubbish bags ashore and did a beach clean-up that ended with a bonfire and are always amazed at the amount of plastic that ends up on seemingly isolated and pristine islands.

In search of a secluded anchorage

Exploratory shore trip

Burning the results of an hours beach cleanup

Sunday morning the wind had shifted and increased, making any anchorage along the north lagoon of Rangiroa a lee shore so we set sail, as planned, for Tikehau, 50 miles west. With winds in the 22-24 knot range, Mahina Tiare flew along, often reaching the low 8's, and our crew got some valuable reefing practice. As we neared Tikehau we hooked another wahoo and by the time we sailed into the pass Amanda had it filleted and the decks clean. A large steel fishing boat had recently been grounded very close to the only pass into Tikihau's lagoon, a victim of a sleeping helmsman and a sober reminder to us all.

Standing tidal waves in Rangiroa's eastern pass

A shipwrecked trawler at Tikihau's pass

We anchored off Tikehau's small and attractive village before sunset, and the following morning really concentrated on class. The afternoon was free and crew rented bikes and explored this story book tropical island. With a population of only a few hundred Polynesians and a few, if any, Europeans (other than at the small Pearl Resort Hotel on a distant islet) this village bursts with pride. Every yard has extensive plantings of flowers and bushes, the white sand streets are swept of fallen flower blossoms and leaves each morning and everyone you meet has a smile and a "Iaorana" greeting. This is the old Polynesia - happy people living quiet lives on beautiful islands. There are a few trucks, but bicycles are the main mode of transportation here as the road doesn't go very far!

The western outer reef on Tikihau

Even the waste copra coconut husks are tidy on Tikihau!

Tikihau kids playing volleyball on the main street

The cargo boat Mareva Nui came alongside the jetty at night and we didn't even know it

Captain John relays another set of instructions to the bow lookouts

Tuesday, June 14 we raised anchor as soon as there was visibility, around 0700, and had an excellent sail seven miles up the lagoon, to clear the pass at 0830 and set a course for Huahine, 200 miles WSW. With wind in the mid 20's our crew eagerly tucked a reef in and we were off on a beam reach, zipping along at close to 8 kts. As the day progressed the wind dropped slightly and shifted a little more to the north so we were able to ease sheets to a broad reach. What a sight to see Huahine's rugged green peaks at sunrise! We decided to make landfall on the rarely-visited windward shore, sailing through Farerea Pass tucking around behind a sheltering motu to anchor in a protected bay we had never visited before.

Approaching Huahine

Mt Finger and Mt Mouatoru - northern shore of Huahine Iti

A handsome gaff-rigged Atkins cutter followed us in the pass and anchored a short distance off. We always figure that anyone who sails such a distinctive classic wooden boat has to be an interesting person, so when Bruce rowed by, looking for a cushion that had blown off their decks, we invited him and his young bride Tiffany over for dinner. They would only come if they could bring some of the huge mahi mahi they had just caught, so we really had a feast, between Amanda's quiche, salad and the mahi. Originally from Victoria, Tiffany had been living on Orcas Islands (San Juan Islands) teaching yoga and dance when she met Bruce, a wooden boat builder who had spent eight years in Maine as an apprentice at the Wooden Boat School, then as a boat builder. Cruising on a shoestring budget, they were amazed how EASY cruising was, and how beautiful the islands were. With minimal gear on their boat, they rarely had breakdowns and were the most self-reliant cruisers we have met in years!

Wednesday we sailed around to the "busy" side of Huahine, anchoring off Fare village. Crew rented bikes and scooters to explore the island and everyone found their way out to a little black pearl farm on a motu, stocking up gifts for family and friends. Sue and Lynn checked out the Toetoe, a pension they would be flying back to for three days after the expedition.

Lynn and Sue - ready to explore Huahine

Fare's main street is alive with the excitement of a youth triathlon

Huahine's lagoon pearl farm

Open oyster shell with black pearl

Dennis befriends a cat at lunch

Kids at play along Fare's town's beachfront

Fare's small boat landing at sunset

The next day we worked our way south inside the reef to find a quiet reef anchorage. After Amanda taught going aloft to check the rig and provisioning, we piled into the dinghy for a snorkel safari to the outer reef. What a myriad of colors the coral and fish presented, this was the healthiest coral we have seen in years and the large numbers of brightly colored tropical fish made us feel like we were swimming in an aquarium.

Sue helps Bob into the bosun chair
You've probably gotten the idea that we really like the less-traveled and populated islands. You're right! Huahine's only real hotel, the Sofitel Heiva closed due to lack of business last year. All that remains are family owned guest houses and one small hotel built on stilts over the lagoon, and inaccessible, except by water. There is the Papeete-based Tahitian Princess that spends a few hours a week anchored on the back side of the island, whose tourists reach Fare by bus for a couple hours each week, but other than that, this island really hasn't changed since I first sailed here in 1975!

Well, back to the present. After going aloft for rig check class and snorkeling to the outer reef we set sail late afternoon from Huahine to Moorea.

We had another sunrise landfall, and just as we tacked in close to Moorea's NW corner, we hooked a large mahi mahi. This gave Dick another chance to make his tasty ceviche, and here is his recipe:
  • 1lb. fresh fish
  • 2 cups fresh lime juice, optionally 1/4 cup lemon and orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup scallions (optional)
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce Cut fresh (use any firm white fish: tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, wahoo, swordfish; even scallops) into approximately 1/4" x 1/2" x 3/4" pieces This lets the juices cook the fish faster) and place in a sealable bowl.
    Pour lime, lemon and orange juice over the fish.
    Add finely chop cilantro, parsley, green peppers, and scallions.
    Mix in onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce to taste.
    Refrigerate 2 - 12 hours (the longer the better)
    Place ceviche in one cup serving containers and serve with your favorite crackers or bread.

Mrs Mahi

Sue works on her navigation to Moorea

A look into from Opunohu Bay from our outer reef snorkel trip

Dennis dives to check out a chasm

Dick with another tasty ceviche concoction

After a snorkel trip and a stop in Papetoai Village to top up water, wash the boat down, see the oldest church in the islands and buy ice cream, we then sailed two miles deep into Opunohu Bay for class.

Traditional art displayed on the Mayors office - Papetoai

Oldest church in French Polynesia

A page from Susan's journal

Crew study storm tactics

We anchored in the same spot I first anchored in 1975. Then I had spotted the only structure on that entire side of the bay, a wooden plantation house on stilts, surrounded by palm trees. When on the sandy beach next to the house, I met Med Kellum, who invited me to join him and his wife Gladys for dinner that evening. Their home was like a museum with ancient stone statues from the Marquesas, rare shells and relics from various sailing ships. Med showed me clippings and photos of the three-masted 180' former lumber schooner that his parents had purchased and refitted as a yacht before sailing to Tahiti. Gladys, a friend of Med's sister was along for the voyage, and it wasn't long before Med and Gladys fell in love and were married. This wasn't long after WWI and a most of Opunohu Valley and Bay had been a German cotton plantation that was seized by the French during the war. When it came up for auction, Med's father was the only bidder, and the entire bay up to the peaks of the surrounding mountain tops was a wedding present for Med and Gladys. Needing a place to live, the family sailed back to Honolulu, built then disassembled a house, made of old-growth redwood and sailed south back to Moorea. After clearing some land they assembled the house and raised two children, a son, Rotui (now an airline pilot) and Marimari, who became an anthropologist with the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. Over the past 30 years I've returned many times to visit and always bring books and when possible, fresh fish.

The Kellum house and garden

Marimari Kellum pointing out the lantern hibiscus her father would pick everyday for her mother

Kaimiloa - the ship of Marimari's grandfather

Heliconia flower

Bat lily

Leg 2 Crew in the garden

Always a dedicated steward of the land, in his mid-80's Med was busy planting a teak forest. He explained that it would be around 100 years before the teak would be harvestable. A few years back Gladys, well into her 80's passed away, followed by Med a year or so later. Marimari returned to look after the place and has been living there alone for 15 years or so. When Sue met her ashore, Marimari invited our crew over for a visit. She showed us many rare and exotic plants including a bat lily and several rare palm trees. Marimari explained that her parents had given much of the several thousand acres to the territorial government which had built an agricultural college and research station.

Our crew completed their tour of the bay with a hike up the valley to Marae Titiaroa before we set sail to Cooks Bay, practicing man overboard along the way.

Opunohu Valley

Marae Titiaroa

M.T. undergoing man overboard maneuvers

Our last night dinner was ashore at Alfredo's and a lovely Scottish chap Ron was our one man band entertainer for the night. His repertoire was amazing; anything you could sing or dance to in any language, with our waiter Thomas also joining in.

Michael enjoying a fluffy drink at Alfredo's Italian Restaurant

Entertainer Ron and waiter Thomas sing duet

The following morning before first light we set sail for Tahiti, finishing up our teaching and expedition with celestial navigation. It's incredible how fast this past couple weeks have flown by!

Dick takes a noon site
Here's our Leg 2 crew:

Bob Henkes, 53, is a nurse from Wenatchee, eastern Washington. He has a 19 year old daughter and 21 year old son and is as keen of sailor as we've had aboard! Bob has done several charter trips with his son as crew, and is eager to sail more.

Micheal Eden-Walker, 54 is a physician and therapist from Ottawa, Canada. He sailed with us in Spain and Portugal four years ago and is talking about returning for Leg 5-07, Gothenburg to Southampton. He dreams of upgrading from his 30' sloop and is thinking about basing his next boat in Europe, close to his wife Polly's family in England.

Susan Fandel, 55, is an artist who is also an environmental inspector for a utility company. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her partner, and very keen sailor,

Lynn Magnet, 56. Lynn is a therapist for a large health care provider, specializing in anxiety disorders. A great sense of humor and love of sailing help her keep the balance. When not working as a therapist, Lynn enjoys working as a sailing instructor for Club Nautique. Lynn and Susan have a Cal 2-29 in partnership with three other people and are planning their first excursion on their own outside the Golden Gate.

Dennis Synnes, 56, is a physician assistant and nurse from near Tacoma, Washington. He is readying his Hans Christian 38 for long distance cruising and is always looking at the charts and planning his return. Dennis is an expert on tropical medical issues, having been deployed all over the world with his National Guard unit.

Dick Fullerton, 62, comes across as the mild-mannered recently-retired IBM exec that he is, but he has a wild streak. When hoisting the main he was experiencing some pain in his shoulder and when I asked him if it was a chronic condition, he said no, that he had taken a spill at 60 mph while trying to barefoot water ski with some buddies a couple weeks before joining the expedition! Dick has been a boater since he was 9 and is planning on ordering either a Nordhaven trawler yacht or a Lagoon catamaran for extensive cruising. This expedition was one way to test the waters, and he is presently leaning toward the cat.

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