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Leg 2-2010, Update 1
June 12, 2010,  2000 hrs, 16.38 S, 151.27 W, Log: 138,900 miles
Baro: 1014.9, Cabin Temp: 83 F, cockpit 79 F, sea water 85.1 F
At anchor, Baie Haamene, Tahaa (130 mi W of Tahiti)

As we often do, we asked our Leg 2 expedition members to drop by Mahina Tiare at four in the afternoon the day before they would officially join us. This allowed us to collect their passports for outbound clearance, first thing Monday morning, and initiate our safety orientation. An added bonus of crew meeting early was that soon after they joined us noon Monday we were able to set sail for Moorea.

Light headwinds had been forecast but we ended up with a very smooth broad reach to one of our favorite anchorages on the outer reef on Moorea. Tuesday we continued our safety and overall briefing and just after noon we set sail for Opunohu Bay which afforded us an excellent sunset departure for the overnight 90 mile passage to Huahine.

With winds never under 10 kts or over 14 we had a very sweet night sail and just minutes after sunrise Craig and Karyn had the fishing lines out and minutes later they’d hooked a sizable mahi-mahi. The southernmost pass on Huahine was a cinch in the modest wind and swell conditions. Once inside the sizable lagoon we sailed nearly 7 miles south, protected by the barrier reef, to Baie d’Avea, one of the prettiest white sandy beaches anywhere.

Soon after hitting the beach Al learned that Relais Mahana, the small resort where we left the dinghy, was having traditional Tahitian dancing that evening. The hotel staff said that we were certainly welcome and said to invite the only other yacht in the anchorage. There was no cover charge though the staff suggested that it was possible to buy drinks or dinner.

The small beachfront hotel appeared to have only a couple guests but just as we left the beach a van arrived with 30 French tourists, plus we encouraged the crew from the only other yacht in the anchorage to join us. We were not in for a large and sophisticated Tahitian dance show as we’ve seen on some islands, but the four young dancers put their heart and souls into their performance to live drumming and singing and it was several hours later when we headed back to Mahina Tiare.

On our sunrise run the following morning Amanda and I stopped to marvel at two huge logs in the front yard of a modest bungalow. A friendly, nearly toothless older woman explained that her husband was soon going to hollow out these huge mango logs to make two fishing boats canoes. We then noticed a large mango tree festooned with hand-throw fish nets hung to dry the woman said her husband was a commercial fisherman. We did not leave empty handed as she quickly filled a bag of bananas for us to take home.

We are so pleased to see the people on Huahine living well off their land, growing and eating taro, breadfruit and catching fish as their families have for countless generations. Vanilla has replaced copra as their cash crop and we passed quite a few shadecloth-enclosed structures filled with neat rows of vanilla plants. Everyone we passed smiled and waved and one woman even stopped to ask if we would like a ride, instead of running.

We made a brief exploring and provisioning stop in Fare, the largest town on Huahine around noon, then set sail yesterday for Raiatea. Our following winds held nearly the entire way and we sailed into the main pass then south along the channel. Sharing the same encircling lagoon as Tahaa, Raiatea is the second most populous island afterTahiti, with Uturoa at the NE of the island being the second largest town in French Polynesia.

I had told our crew about French Polynesia’s only navigatable river and minutes after we had the anchor down in Faaroa Bay they hopped into the dinghy ready to explore. In the fading evening light we slowly motored up what seemed like a miniature Amazon River, complete with tropical birds squawking and flying overhead, and a canopy of branches and blossoms.  Along the river bank outrigger canoes and fishing skiffs were pulled up into the bush, and we passed some extensive taro and vanilla plantations. A Tahitian named James kayaked over to us inviting us to return in the morning (it was nearly dark) to see his plantation 2 km. further up the river, saying he would load us down with gifts of fruit if we we’d visit. He’d worked at Stardust Yacht Charters who used to be based in the bay until a few years ago. It sounded like he missed working with the charter boats and visitors.

That night the heavens opened, thoroughly washing down Mahina Tiare and half-filling the dinghy with rain. With the river awash and more rain threatening we decided to get underway early yesterday morning (Saturday) to reach Utuaroa township before the shops closed for the weekend. While Amanda and Karyn did a provision run at Continent, the second-best (but small) supermarket in the territory, James, Bob and Craig helped me shoehorn MT into the compact fuel dock at the municipal marina just north of town. We found duty-free diesel available for US$3.50 per gallon, half the price at the much more convenient Shell fuel dock in town. The bonus was also finding a water tap and being able to top our tanks and give the guys the opportunity to do some bucket clothes washing.

We met everyone back at the town docks and after lunch headed north to Haamene; a much protected bay about six miles north on the island of Tahaa. What a perfect opportunity to study marine weather. A weak stationary front had parked over the Society Islands for four days and as crew had just learnt how to interpret weatherfax charts they could now better understand why the tradewinds had disappeared and been replaced with occasional tropical downpours.

This morning we completed our weather course and test before sailing around the north of the island to a somewhat precarious fair-weather anchorage off on the western reef at Ilot Tautau. We were anticipating an E-ticket ride as we dinghied to “Coral Gardens”. After pulling the dinghy up on the sand motu we all walked along the south shore of the islet until we were nearly at the outer ocean reef. Upon donning masks we hopped into the sea and let the swift current sweep us along the shallow coral channel between two motus back to the inner lagoon. The challenging part of this drift-snorkel is that in many places there isn’t enough water depth to get over the coral without getting sliced up by it, so one has to be looking ahead, making sure the current doesn’t sweep you into a shallow dead-end. The passage is totally chokka with coral and brightly-colored tropical fish. The second time through our crew had the hang of it, zooming along effortlessly and even working out how to pause in the eddies to better observe the marine life.

And that wasn’t the end of adventures for the day! After we moved to a more protected anchorage in Tapuamu Bay in late afternoon we heard serious drumming ashore as Amanda began teaching three-strand splicing. Through the binoculars we could see an elaborate set up of tables with food and what appeared to a head table of dignitaries. I couldn’t wait for class to finish so zipped ashore. I discovered that the village elders were seated to possibly judge or view Tahitian dance, singing and drumming ensembles. Being the only white person present I did not want to ask too many questions but decide to best go get the crew. When I returned to the boat crew were lining the rails, anxious to head ashore to see the dancing that was now in full swing and resounding across the bay

There were 17 girls dancing, at least a dozen musicians and singers, and eight judges or village elders at the head table. As this was totally a local affair we tried to blend into the shadows and enjoyed an impressive ½ hour of performance while little girls were skipping rope, dogs meandered around, kids chased each other and people chatted. When the daylight went the dancing stopped, a few speeches were made and more food appeared as many people either headed home, with plates of food, or choose to stay for what looked to be a party. As Amanda and I turned to head to the dinghy the woman who seemed to be organizing the event approached us and said in French, come, bring your friends, and eat! She gave us chilled drinking coconuts and plates of cake and goodies; all the performers’ families had brought cakes and deserts to share with each other. It was all very Tahitian and it was obvious that the village was proud of their girls who we discovered were competing to represent their village at the competition this Friday for the best dance team to represent Tahaa at the Heiva Festival in Tahiti next month.

June 15, 2010, 1410 hrs, 16.36 S, 151.43 W, Log: 138,944 miles
Baro: 1014.9, Cabin Temp: 84 F, cockpit 89 F, sea water 84.9 F
Broad reaching at 7kts toward Bora Bora

Karyn & James:
Yesterday we circumnavigated the Island of Tahaa, stopping in inlets and walking the scenic roads in the early mornings.  The island was punctuated with baguettes delivered in custom mailboxes, chickens, friendly locals, and a pig.  Life is simple; needs are basic: Breadfruit, Taro, Coconut, Fish, Papaya, Mango…  yes, ‘Il Paradisio’.

We turned into Hurepiti Bay to meet a Frenchman, Alain, for his well known, but always booked, “Vanilla Tour”.  Alain, a combination botanist, archeologist, historian, and farmer, first came to Polynesia 25 years ago on a sailboat en route to New Zealand.  He returned a couple years later, decided to stay, and began his ethno-botanical tours.  His garden is now 22 years old and healthy, and we were all envious of his thatched roof island home.  We toured his garden and learned that Noni keeps you young and healthy – antioxidants.  Interestingly, he explained that less than 1,000 plants are indigenous to Polynesia – they came naturally by wind, sea, and shorebirds, the Polynesian seafarers brought about 200 new plants with them on their voyaging canoes, and then the Europeans brought another 1,500. 

After his garden, Alain piled us in the back of his well stocked Land Rover, complete with lemon ice water in a hibiscus and fern bedecked water cooler, for the rest of the tour.  The first stop was a vanilla plantation where he showed us how to hand pollinate the vanilla flowers.  Then he drove us up a muddy track to the top of the island where we could see Haamene and Hurepiti Bays (both bays provided us beautiful anchorages for the nights before). With each stop, out come the plastic bins – tropical fruits, various leaves and plants, and a machete for chopping and serving.  He fed us fresh fruit and coconut milk while we stopped for vistas and pictures.  Then it was back down to the water where we followed the coast road back to his home.  Before leaving, we heard the story of his neighbor’s 100’ steel pilothouse that spent a year in 100’ of water off Bora Bora before being floated and parked in his bay.  We said our goodbyes and returned to Amanda with fresh basil, bananas, and star fruit.

John:
We spent last night wedged in a very packed Marina Apooiti, base of Moorings, Sunsail and Tahiti Yacht Charters. Normally there is plenty of room in the harbor as the charter boats are out sailing with customers, but sadly this year business is quiet and the harbor is packed with empty charter boats. Our crew enjoyed trips to Uturoa, unlimited freshwater showers ashore and checking out the two nearby boatyards. Oh, and catching up on clothes washing!

James is our navigator today and working backwards, planned our departure of 11 am, based on having enough daylight upon arrival at Bora Bora (30 miles) to navigate and safely anchor in the lagoon. Our sailing conditions are ideal; seas are flat, wind is abaft the beam and the sky is filled with fluffy tradewind clouds for the first time in nearly a week. Life is good!

 

Leg 2-2010, Update 2
June 21, 2010,  0620 hrs, 16.30 S, 151.46 W, Log: 138,990 miles
Baro: 1014.3, Cabin Temp: 80 F, cockpit 79 F, sea water 83.8 F
At anchor, Motu Toopua, Bora Bora (150 mi W of Tahiti)


Last Tuesday we had a great sail from Raiatea to Bora Bora, about 30 miles. We didn’t catch any fish, but while charging along the edge of the outer reef of Bora Bora, Amanda taught rigging inspection.


Bora as viewed from the outer reef

Once anchored, we inventoried our three Abandon Ship containers and discussed priorities for our expedition members in assembling their own kits. We enjoyed a peaceful night anchored off the formerly famous, now-abandoned, Hotel Bora Bora. The next morning we landed the dinghy at Bloody Mary’s, a wild seafood joint’s dock and checked out the pearl farm/gallery nearby before crew took off exploring, meeting us at Bora Bora Yacht Club later that afternoon.


James and Craig with a tiki at Bloody Mary’s


Karen soaking up paradise


Craig, James and Karen getting squeezing maximum sailing performance from MT

Our crew had hoped to grab a burger or pizza at the yacht club, but were told the restaurant was closed until July. The club was only renting mooring buoys at $25 per day and serving drinks. The last cyclone had carried away their three over the water rental bungalows, and it looked like the two young families that had purchased the club just a few years ago years ago are having a tough go at it. We anchored just around the corner in Faanui Bay, home of an American drydock-submarine pen in WWII. We learned that several of the very exclusive, over-the-water bungalow hotels on the outer motus had closed in the past year because of lack of business.

Thursday we spent considerable time practicing Lifesling rescue plus tacking and heaving to, along with doing two photo shoots with the spectacular mountains of Bora Bora as a backdrop, ending up off Bloody Mary’s where our gang enjoyed an excellent dinner ashore.

We left early Friday morning for Maupiti, 30 miles and a century away from Bora Bora, to discover 3.6 kt ebb current in the pass, large breakers either side and a 15’ swell. I had told crew earlier that there was a strong possibility that the forecasted 3.4 meter ocean swell would mean Maupiti’s narrow and tricky pass would be closed by breakers across the entrance, but in 35 years and dozens of visits, I had never seen this much current and such large breakers on either side of Bora Bora’s pass. We had a quick powwow in the cockpit, telling our crew of our two options: continue on to Mopelia, 130 miles and hope we could safely enter the 60’ wide, quarter-mile long pass, or return to Bora Bora and let conditions moderate. They chose the later, and we enjoyed a some great snorkeling and a night anchored just inside and south of the pass next to our Australian friends on Grace, a sistership to Mahina Tiare.

Saturday was even windier and looking at the chart, we chose an anchorage at an unnamed bay on the NW tip of the island, across from the islet where the airstrip is. As we came into the small bay, someone noticed a gun emplacement on the headland, aiming at the pass entrance, so as soon as the anchor was down, four of us hit the beach, and walked along the road until we found a steep track leading up the a pillbox, what looked to be an anti-aircraft gun and a large 7” naval gun. During WWII, Americans built a long runway on nearby Motu Mute to serve as a refueling stop for ferrying fighter aircraft further south and west, and installed four large naval gun sights around the island. What a view we had!

Yesterday morning, Kokomo, a 197’ aluminum sloop built by Alloy Yachts in NZ and one of the largest sloops in the world came and anchored near us. We thought they too were trying to get out of the squally winds that were buffeting the island, but Al noticed a corporate jet parked on the runway, and within minutes of anchoring two large tenders were launched and we assumed the crew had come to pick up the owner who must have flown in on his own jet.


James keeps a lookout as we squeeze between the stern of Kokomo and the reef

We completed our engine maintenance class that morning and during lunch the winds which had been off the beach turned to the N, and quickly we found ourselves on a lee shore with a coral reef astern and the wind gusting into the 30’s with heavy rain. Crew scattered to their sailing stations and we up anchored for a more secure anchorage.

Kokomo scrambled to get their anchor up, not waiting to stow their two tenders which were ditched with crew aboard. They then follow the mother ship back to the S end of the lagoon, where the gusts seeping down off the peaks heeled the huge sloop over 10-20 degrees.

We had our own RIB in the water to worry about, and hoped to find some shelter around the corner in the depths of Faanui Bay. Instead we found winds to 37 knots with higher gusts hitting the surface and blowing seawater into the air (williwaws), even all the way in at the head of the bay. In these conditions it’s difficult to impossible to remove the dinghy motor and hoist the dinghy onto the foredeck. To allow us to tow the without the chance of the high winds flipping it over and flooding the motor James kept the bow of MT into the powerful gusts as Craig pulled the dinghy alongside. I then hopped down into the dinghy, pulled the transom plug and allowed several hundred pounds of water to partially fill the boat.

As we crossed the lagoon, we could see that boats off the yacht club and also further in the bay were all exposed to very gusty winds topping out in the low 40’s. We snuck behind Motu Toopua again and after our first try at anchoring put us too close to Grace Amanda jumped in the water with mask and fins to help find a spot. Upon closer examination we discovered the anchorage was subject to strong currents caused by the breakers washing over the outer reef. Grace, which had been in a fine position when we anchored nearby, was soon charging off in an odd direction with the current only to be hit by a 35 kt gust from the opposite direction. The three catamarans in the area were struggling to re-anchor as their larger amount of windage caused them to really sail about.

Amanda quickly found an area free of coral that seemed fairly protected a little further down the motu towards shore and after we anchored there I snorkeled down to found the anchor well set in all sand with sufficient space from coral on the reef astern. Just before dinner the wind really picked up, gusting to the mid-30’s.

We watched as williwaws hit the water near Grace, shooting the seawater skyward. Amanda said, “It’s time for the second anchor!” and our crew sprung into action. It wasn’t as easy as usual, as I had stored the 50’ of chain (weighing 75 lbs) at the base of the mast, under the bottom shelf of the bunkroom bureau. Al cleared his gear out of the locker, I transferred the chain to a carry bag, Bob helped me lug it up to the bow, Craig hopped in the dinghy, James took the helm with engine running taking the strain off the main anchor and motoring to port being careful not to pull out the anchor. Amanda and Bob lowered the 44lb Delta and chain over the port roller into the dinghy and Craig and I motored the 180’ of line out at an angle before quickly stretching the 50’ of chain out and heaving the anchor over the side. Our crew aboard MT took up tension, the anchor set perfectly, and we were much more secure.

We set one hour anchor watches but by 0200 the winds died as forecasted by the GRIB files. This morning after breakfast it’s going aloft class and sail repair with Amanda so I’ll make a dinghy run for baguettes as we plan to set sail today for tiny Mopelia, population 12, 130 miles west.


Amanda checks the Mike is correctly fitted into the Spinloc climbing harness


Crew haul James to the masthead for rig check

June 21, 2010, 2200 hrs, 16.3 7S, 152.52 W, Log: 139,059 miles
Baro: 1014.7, Cabin Temp: 82 F, cockpit 79 F, sea water 84.7 F
Broad reaching at 7.5 – 11 kts in 35-32 kt ESE winds with confused 13’ seas, main and genoa triple reefed

We left at noon, finding the condition in the pass better than two days earlier. While still in the lee of Bora Bora the seas weren’t too rough and I asked Al and Craig to set our trolling lines. However, once clear of the island the winds and seas steadily increased and just about when the winds were gusting to 30, Bob noticed a large mahi on one of our lines. With a bit of work Bob and Amanda pulled her in, I gaffed and Amanda cleaned a three-meal fish. Normally we don’t fish in such rolly conditions!

We had hoped to at least sail by and check out the conditions in Maupiti’s pass, 30 miles W of Bora Bora, but with the rough seas we set a straight course for Mopelia atoll, 130 miles to the west.

Tonight our crew is getting a real workout with winds gusting into the low 30’s and still a fair confused sea running. The bonus is that we are scooting along so quickly that we should arrive off Mopelia’s pass by 0700 or so, giving us ample time for (hopefully) entering the lagoon and exploring ashore before setting sail Wednesday for Rarotonga.

June 25, 2010, 0530 hrs, 19.24 7S, 157.36 W, Log: 139,405 miles
Baro: 1014.8, Cabin Temp: 81 F, cockpit 79 F, sea water 81.0 F
Beam reaching at 7.3 kts in 20-30 kt ESE winds with confused 8’ seas

We covered the 130 miles to Mopelia in record time, having to slow down so as not to arrive off the lagoon entrance pass before dawn. The current eddy outside the pass stretched a considerable distance, but we slowly maneuvered into the pass, gradually increasing throttle as the pass narrowed to about 70’ Everyone was standing on deck or aloft looking for coral heads and fish floats and when our progress slowed to 2kts over the bottom, Amanda yelled back from the mast pulpit, “MORE POWER!!!” I increased revs to 3,600 (out of a max of 3850) and was pleased to see the coolant temperature still in the green arc. Many times we have been very thankful that Hallberg-Rassy installs larger than normal engines in their boats.


The pass at Mopelia

Steering was tricky as tiny back eddies and turbulence would push the bow port or starboard, but slowly we crept through the pass, past the shallow spot (never less than 5’ under our keel) and into the lagoon. It was amazing to see how much higher the water was in the middle of the pass than on the reef on either side. Once inside we kept a vigilant lookout for abandoned pearl farm floats and coral heads as we motored directly into 28 knots of wind. By the time we crossed the four mile wide lagoon and were sheltered behind a thick band of palm trees the anemometer showed only 17 knots.

We anchored between three French and one American boat then dived in the water before enjoying a calm breakfast. After a nap crew hit the beach to explore for a few hours and Amanda and I started chopping vegetables and preparing for dinner. I had zipped over to Beach House, a Switch 51 catamaran from LA and met Scott and Cindy. When I mentioned that our crew would be interested in a boat tour Cindy joked that their boat was a dive boat that additionally had sails. Considering that as they are both very keen divers they invited us to come over and see the underwater videos they had shot over the past year in French Polynesia including their 18 days on Mopelia, I invited them to dinner.


Crew take a stroll on Mopelia’s pristine beach


Scott and Cindy aboard Beach House

Their videos were incredible, www.svbeachhouse.com, footage of swimming with whale sharks off Mexico, lemon sharks on Bora Bora, manta rays, and recent shots of the Sea Adler shipwreck at Mopelia’s pass. They had even found Seeadler’s main anchor, whose chain snapping in a sudden squall had resulted in the ship being driven on the reef in 1917 during WWI.


Cindy diving on Seeadler’s main anchor


Everyone is a spotter as we leave Moplia’s lagoon


Curious black-tip reef sharks….say’s John


James and a large piece of metal from the Seeadler


Everyone say….shark!

Yesterday the winds had dropped so after sail repair and use of sewing machine class we crossed the lagoon, shot out the pass, and anchored very close to the shipwreck. Our gang snorkeled together over the shipwreck and got pictures of each other using Bob’s nifty Canon underwater camera. Thanks Bob!

We set sail for Raro late yesterday afternoon, not wanting to reach Atiu, a 2/3 of the way rest stop before dawn. We covered over 165 miles in the first 24 hours and now with 40 miles to go it looks like we should have the anchor down for a swim and lunch soon after noon today.

Atiu, population 400, is not a port of entry for the Cook Islands so we won’t be going ashore but no one will mind if we anchor for lunch, a swim and a nap for a few hours.

June 26, 2010, 0650 hrs, 21.08 S, 159.27 W, Log: 139,552 miles
Baro: 1014.7, Cabin Temp: 79 F, cockpit 79 F, sea water 80.8 F
Broad reaching at 7.5 kts in 22 kt ESE winds, main and genoa double reefed

Atiu proved to be a perfect little rest stop. The winds were wrapping around the island so that the sheltered lee was very small and there was a bit of swell hitting the reef. Amanda wasn’t sure we would be able to stop but Bob carefully guided Mahina Tiare toward the reef until the sounder read 65’. Craig jumped in with mask and fins and said the spot we were over offered a sloping bottom without any chasms or tall coral heads. We dropped anchor and once we had all 250’ of chain out we were in 200’ of water, so we’d basically anchored on the edge of a steep mountain. As this would prove disastrous if the wind or current changed we kept an anchor watch person in the cockpit for our five hour stop. The water felt noticeably cooler than Mopelia and several of us enjoyed snorkeling to the edge of the reef. The coral was very low, not very colorful and there were a few reef fish and one sleepy grey shark on the bottom, 65’ below.

After lunch we covered our last class of the expedition, clearing customs and dealing with officialdom worldwide, and then took naps and relaxed.

Roy, a local fisherman came by with his daughter in an aluminum skiff to say hello. A small bit of fish line and a head of a grey shark sat in the bottom of his skiff; the only remains of a long-line fishing rig he had moored offshore. He said that the cyclone that had hit Aitutaki earlier in the year had missed Atiu, and when we asked the current population of the island he mentioned that there were about 400 people on the island, down from 900 in the 1980’s.

We waited until 1730 to set sail so that we wouldn’t arrive in Raro before dawn, and that proved a good idea as with trades blowing from 20-25 all night, our speed has been close to 9 kts, even double reefed! Several of our crew enjoyed an unexpected partial lunar eclipse early this morning, but they didn’t think to wake the rest of us. Darn!

June 29, 2010, 0600 hrs, 21.12 S, 159.47 W, Log: 139,574 miles
Baro: 1014.2, Cabin Temp: 75 F, cockpit 79 F, sea water 79.5 F
Anchored and tied stern-to in Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

WE’VE ARRIVED!

Yesterday we had a glorious sunrise as we made landfall on Rarotonga and prepared MT for mooring. We tucked in a third reef just before turning and lining up on the range for the narrow entrance into Avatiu Harbour and once inside we quickly turned into the wind in the tiny harbor and dropped the main. Amanda held the bow into the wind as we launched the dinghy, lowered and mounted the outboard as Al readied the main anchor. We already had a 180’ stern line ready to run ashore. About this time, a Swiss 39’ Westerly sailboat also arrived in the harbor and started racing around in circles, dangerously close to several reefs. Harbourmaster John Fallon came on the VHF and said that it would be fine for us to moor in the SW corner of the harbor next to Te Kukupa the Cook Islands patrol vessel. John also asked if we could relay to the Swiss vessel to moor in the other corner of the harbor. We did, telling the Swiss captain that as soon as we had MT secured we would assist them in getting a line ashore.

Mooring in Avatiu Harbour is never easy as it’s a med moor; bow anchor set and yachts held in place with stern lines running to shore. The complicating factors are not much space, generally 5-10 yachts poorly moored, poor holding ground, wind on the beam, swell and wave refraction, and plenty of anchor rodes of already-moored boats. One must try and avoid anchoring over the top of existing anchors as most smart sailors set two anchors. Further complicating the situation for us is that our bow thruster batteries had died so we didn’t have the luxury of being able to precisely control our angle of backing in. Amanda and James were stationed in the dinghy to become our thruster.

We dropped our main anchor (75 lb CQR) 200’ out from our final desired position next to the patrol boat. I knew this would be further out than other vessels anchors and that our rode would not cross another boat’s. As Al let out the chain we backed in while Amanda and James ran a stern line ashore. We didn’t get it secured quite quick enough and had to fend off against the patrol boat but before long we could take up slack on the stern line and carefully winch ourselves toward the harbour wall, running a second stern line ashore at the same time. WHEW!

With James still ashore Craig and I zipped to the Swiss boat and asked if they had a stern line ready. They hadn’t but after digging around came up with one. Upon dropping their bow anchor Craig and I used the outboard power to guide them back, avoiding the downwind boat. James took their stern line and secured it ashore.

As we were still in the dingy we offered the neighboring yacht Suwarrow Blues help in setting their second anchor. Whilst diving we noticed that their main anchor was upside down with very short scope. Craig and I then spent the next hour in the water with masks and fins trying to locate the abandoned moorings we’ve previously secured to. Craig found the large engine block we’ve used for many years to keep us off Te Kukupa and we chained two lines to it. I found our main anchor chain was in a zig-zag course around several rocks and coral heads but it would have to wait until later to sort out. Our crew enjoyed lunch ashore and we all went to Trader Jack’s, a great waterfront seafood dive for dinner.


Mahina Tiare rides secure in Avitiu harbor

Sunday morning several of us went to the large, coral-limestone Cook Island Church in downtown Avarua, the main town (really a village) to enjoy the singing and in the afternoon we set a second anchor, tidied up the chain, washed down MT and filled the water tank. We enjoyed a spicy curry dinner ashore and yesterday our gang packed and cleaned below before heading ashore. A treat for Amanda and I was to join the Hash House Harriers running club for their weekly Monday night run, and what a wild one; up the side of a mountain and ON ON! through the bush with lots of great views of the harbor and island that we’d never seen before.

We’ve noticed a major difference in the business atmosphere ashore here in Rarotonga, vs. Tahiti. In Tahiti tourism was again down 30% for the second year in a row and several major high-end hotels have closed indefinitely and others were considering closing. In Raro we noticed two of the larger businesses (none are very large, though) are in the midst of expanding and have seen several new homes under construction. The local newspaper says that the Cooks are the only island nation in the South Pacific to experience an increase in tourism this year and the inaugural flight of a new direct Raro-Sydney, Australia service is sold out. Several local hotels are fully booked and the shop keepers we have chatted with all say business is quite good. We wish them we continued success.

As we know that many boats cruising the South Pacific use these updates to gather knowledge before arriving in these ports, we will shortly be posting some hints for mooring in Rarotonga and the outer islands where Med-mooring is the only option.


Leg 2 Crew  Bob, Karen James, Mike, Craig and Cpt. Al

Here’s the scoop on our coconutty Leg 2 crew

Bob Packard 64, a retired Marine and now and engineer with Northrop Grumman, from Long Beach, CA. My sailing experience began many years ago but has progressed only in small doses. Now looking forward to retirement, my wife Karyn and I have resolved to follow our dream and sail away aboard our beautiful Norseman 447 named Real Time. We read everything in print about the cruising life and its challenges but we need some depth so this expedition is the perfect complement.

Rev. Karyn Reddick 64. I have lived most of my life in Hawaii. My family was power boaters and as a young woman I raced unlimited hydroplanes and runabouts. I’m an ordained minister and have worked for the past 20 years as the Director of Pastoral Care at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. As a sailor I’m a novice with much to learn. Our plan is to go cruising next year after retirement.

James Buskard, 29. I’m a V.P. of a small gold exploration company based in Nevada. Although I now live far from the ocean, I grew up sailing dinghies and spend as much time as possible on the water in the Pacific Northwest. I’m drawn to adventure and have recently completed several long distance motorcycle trips including one to Guatemala and back. My near term plan is to buy a boat and sail to Haida Gwaii and around Vancouver Island with the dream of offshore cruising….preferably with a girlfriend……anyone interested?

Mike Blumberg, 18. I’m a student form Hillsborough, CA and will be attending Puget Sound University to study biology and science. I have recently been through sailing lessons at Club Nautique in San Francisco with this being my first offshore sailing experience.

Craig Davis, 54. I retired from a career on Wall Street several years ago to pursue my dream of being an “adventurer”. It seems that as long as an activity requires extended periods of bad food, little sleep and no showers its fair game. I’ve climbed, skied, dove, sailed, paddled, crawled, slithered and sheltered in places most people have never heard of. Sailing on Mahina Tiare is a chance to spoil myself in the South Pacific.

Al Maher 64, retired from commercial real estate in San Francisco. I’ve been sailing for over 40 years and this is my 8th trip on Mahina Tiare. I’m especially enjoying the company of my good friend Mike, whilst introducing him to sailing, so reckon we’re up for more exploring and adventures in the future.

 

itinerary


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