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Leg 2-2012, Update 1

June 14, 2012, 0640 hrs, 16.57 S, 150.48 W,
Log: 155,848 miles, 18 miles to Huahine Baro: 1013.7,
Cabin Temp: 83 F cockpit 82 F, sea water 83.1 F
ESE winds 15-18 kts, colorful sunrise with Huahine ahead!
Broad reaching at 6.7 kts with moderate seas.

HUAHINE, HERE WE COME!

Huahine, one of our all time favorite islands in the world was just visible on the horizon at first light 45 minutes ago. We've had an excellent start to Leg 2, but let me fill you in on the details first.

Amanda and I enjoyed an excellent break between Legs 1 & 2. For the first few days we anchored off Oakland seminar attendees Nicole and Laurent's lagoon-front home on the island of Moorea. Previously (35 years of visiting Moorea) we've always being concerned about where we landed and left the dinghy ashore, so now it was a real delight to beach it a few steps from their front veranda and just a couple minutes from the shops and post office at Maharepa. Over a several enjoyable meals we enjoyed hearing their plans of selling their home, buying a catamaran and heading off on a grand adventure with their boys, Jules and Max.


Amanda, Laurent, Jules, Max and Nicole in cuisine mode
We then headed off to a couple of our favorite secluded anchorage to complete a ton of chores on MT including Amanda's stripping the next-to-last section of toerail and coating with seven coats of varnish, plus three overall coats. We returned to Marina Taina on the island of Tahiti a day early in order not to rush shopping and with a 15% improvement in the exchange rate, we stocked MT's lockers with all the now reasonably-priced goodies from France that can only find in Tahiti and New Caledonia.

Our crew arrived as requested at 4 PM Monday for our safety orientation and it was the first time we met two of them; Spencer from South Australia and Julian from Bogota, Columbia.

Tuesday morning Amanda and I cleared us out with the harbormaster downtown Papeete and customs at the international airport and had MT sparkling by noon when our crew arrived. Before setting sail for Moorea we stopped by Marina Taina's fuel dock to top up on duty free fuel (US$1.20 per liter instead of $1.80). Our 17 nm sail to Moorea in nearly perfect conditions, tucking a single reef in before clearing the pass. The reef may have seemed unnecessary, but sure enough, once we cleared Tahiti's wind shadow, the wind piped up and we were glad the reef was in.

We squeezed through the tiny pass off Maharepa village with just enough daylight to see the numerous coral patches and were anchored in time for a sunset swim. The start of an expedition is always a busy and intense time for Amanda and I but with the luxury of a first night anchor down opportunity we both breathe a sigh of relief we have the anchor down (on some expeditions a weather window necessitates the first night at sea). Being anchored off an amazingly stunning island with an excited new crew makes the moment even better.

Yesterday morning we completed orientation, worked on charting our passage to Huahine, then set sail for Cook's Bay where we picked up more pineapple and our crew hiked over the mountain to join us in Opunohu Bay. Amanda had fish tacos waiting when they returned and after a quick swim we set sail for Huahine clearing the pass just before dark.

We've had unusually stable weather the past three weeks, and this 85 mile passage hasn't proven any different. With typical ESE tradewinds we've had to gybe a couple times, but now we can lay a course to clear the southern tip of Huahine, and from there it's all good!

June 18, 2012, 1240 hrs, 16.38 S, 151.31 W, Log: 155,935 miles, at anchor, Baie Hurepiti
Baro: 1011.7, Cabin Temp: 81 F cockpit 84 F, sea water 83.1 F

Our steady winds held to Huahine's southernmost pass, and once through the pass, Kat, our navigator of the day, found a sandy shelf to anchor on while we went off snorkeling with the dinghy and then returned to MT for lunch. Later that afternoon we wound our way through the twisting channels as far south as depths permitted to anchor in the broad and crescent shaped Baie d'Avea. In previous years we'd seen 4-5 cruising boat but this year there was only one French cruising cat at anchor.

After anchoring Kat and Gordon swam ashore and walked the beach while the rest of our guys dinghied ashore to the tiny Hotel Mahana for cool tall drinks and another stunning sunset. We were hoping they might be having Tahitian dancers performing that night but were told they no longer do that, and that business was really slow this year.

One of Amanda and my favorite runs is from Avea around the southern tip of Huahine and part way up the island's east coast. The last two years we've been given bananas at the village where we turned around. This year we saw bananas but the owners weren't about and we didn't want to bug them (and honestly, I wasn't wild about carrying the bananas 30 minutes run back to where the dinghy was!) so I thought we'd return fruitless.

However, just before we reached Hotel Mahana, where we had left the dinghy, Amanda flagged down a Tahitian man with a large stock of ripe bananas in the basket of his bicycle, asking if we could buy some. In French he said help yourself as the bananas were only to feed his pig. He then asked if we'd also like papayas and beckoned us to follow him into his plantation. About that time his attractive daughter whom he introduced as Leilani appeared with a perfect stalk of bananas and he (Joel was his name) and Amanda gathered a bagful of papayas. Joel asked how many weeks were planning to stay in the anchorage (almost directly in front of his beach bungalow) and was disappointed when we replied that we'd sailing later in the morning for another bay so we promised we'd return next year. After breakfast we set sail for Pt. Bourayne; a large, bulletproof natural harbor with very few inhabitants. We spent some time having everyone practice Lifesling rescue before dropping anchor in 95' just before dark.


Gordon delights in being rescued by Kat
We had a full day planned for the next day, so our runners and hikers, Bobby, Julian and Jim met us a few minutes before dawn and we dinghied up the shallow channel which separates Huahine's two islands to a good dinghy landing spot. We're always impressed at how much pride Huahine's people take in keeping up their homes and gardens and the time ashore is always delightful.

Upon our return to Mahina Tiare, Gordon, our anchor master of the day, had the anchor up and we were headed to Fare, Huahine's largest port and village, anchoring a little distance off the wharf near the pass. Town was busting and a school kid's series of canoe and stand-up-paddleboard races took center stage complete with loud speaker announcements and food stands. Crew rented bikes and took off to explore the sacred marae (temple) on the lagoon at the outskirts of town.

The 18 mile passage to Tahaa Island was fast with consistent easterly winds and we used the time to complete our marine weather class. Our goal is to always try and have the anchor down by 1630 and we nearly made it as we anchored in Tahaa's Baie Haamene. Almost before the anchor was down Mahina Tiare was surrounded by eight 10-12 year old boys, each sporting a very cool fiberglass racing canoe. Amanda asked one boy if she could try his canoe, so he bailed out and Amanda swam over between the ama and canoe and pulled herself aboard, much to the amusement of the boys. She took off paddling at quite a clip, but when she tried to turn the canoe around to return, she flipped. This bought much amusement and laughter from the kids. After righting and bailing it, she returned it and the kids headed off home to their respective homes located in several directions around the bay.


Amanda strikes out in the va'a
Yesterday I taught anchoring using our Powerpoint module before we set sail, then as we sailed around Tahaa's northern end, Amanda taught knots and splicing. The tradewinds were amazing, and we stayed on the same broad reach as the winds wrapped right around the northern end of the island, giving us flat smooth sailing with speeds close to 8 kts!

In the early afternoon we anchored off Ilot Tautau, a small islet on the outer barrier reef that has an amazing snorkeling channel. The water rushes over the outer reef and barrels through a narrow, shallow channel into the lagoon. Normally we hike up the beach to the ocean end, jump in and get whisked along at several knots through myriads of tropical fish and coral. Last year some of our crew got a bit scraped up on the coral, so Amanda had the idea of having everyone follow her, as she normally swims the length of the channel against the current, then turns around and whooshes down-current.

Morning view across the lagoon of Pearl Resort and Ilot Tautau with Bora Bora in the distance

 

Unfortunately we discovered the current stronger than ever before with the water unusually shallow. After 15 minutes of flat out swimming we'd only made it about 1/3 of the way up with no prospect of improvement in conditions so we decided to turn around and zoom along out.

This morning we motored 3.5 miles south to our current location so our crew and Amanda could join Alain Plantier on his famous Vanilla Tour. Alain and his wife Christina sailed from France to Tahaa 28 years ago on a 30' home-built plywood sloop, he purchased land in the bay and built traditional thatched dwellings each with a specific purpose whilst planting an exotic garden and vanilla plantation. They raised two children and seem to have an idyllic life.

Alain takes yachties and anyone else who can find him on half-day ethno-botanical tours of this amazingly rugged and beautiful island with his Land Rover, stopping very frequently to explain how the different plants arrived, how they are used by Tahitians, and also showing the entire process of cultivating and processing vanilla.


Vanilla Tour Party - Amanda, Jim, Spencer, Alain, Kat, Gordon, Bobby and Julian.
Honeymooners Kat  and Gordon share a coconut
Honeymooners Kat and Gordon share a coconut

June 21, 2012, 1240 hrs, 16.30 S, 151.46 W, Log: 155,986 miles, at anchor, Bora Bora
Baro: 1014.1, Cabin Temp: 83 F cockpit 85 F, sea water 83.1 F

Our plan of crossing from Tahaa to anchor off Uturoa, Raiatea's principle port, was abruptly changed when a 25 kt rain-packed squall blew in on what would have been a lee-shore anchorage, so we turned and ran a couple miles downwind to Marina Apooiti, the Moorings/Sunsail/Tahiti Yacht Charters base. Jean Michelle Nocuse, the marina manager, always keeps two berths at the entrance available for visiting cruisers and when Jim and I whizzed into the marina in the RIB I was surprised to see Jean Michelle standing on the wharf. An Amel about to take the second berthing spot so JM asked them to moor further into the marina basin. This created space for MT to side-tie with her bow extending out of the harbor entrance.

Jean Michelle proudly showed us the new 220 volt shore power outlet which meant we could totally top up our batteries as well as our water tanks. Our crew was pleased to find spotless marina showers and heads ashore along with being able to do their laundry in buckets on the wharf.

Tuesday we focused on docking procedures and as we motored first to a duty free fuel dock and then to the Uturoa town dock our crew wrote up a guide for our docking procedures to assist future expedition members. Both dockings were with 18+ kts of wind forward of the beam with minimal amount of maneuvering space so I was very pleased that crew had gleaned a good understanding of docking. It also helped to have our bow thruster working again as last year it wasn't due to a faulty control relay. It's amazing how much drama the thruster relieves by allowing the squeezing a 38,000 lb boat into small spaces in fresh winds.

Our crew enjoyed Uturoa's shops and internet café while Amanda and I did a top-up of fruit and veggies at the very-convenient Champion supermarket next to the wharf. Our time constraint was finding a secure anchorage before about 5pm when the sun becomes too low for coral piloting. Many of Raiatea's anchorages are 80-130' but Jim, the days navigator, found a 35' mostly sandy bottom very protected

Crew practice reefing while Julian takes the helm
anchorage beyond Marina Apooiti and the two boatyards located on the NW coast of Raiatea. The bonus was we were able to find a dinghy channel through the extensive shore reef to the sports court adjacent to Raiatea Careenage to the enable us for our daily sunrise run before breakfast

Yesterday after completing our abandon ship class Bora Bora beckoned so we set sail. The 30 mile passage

to Bora Bora started calm but as soon as we were clear of Raiatea's wind shadow the breeze freshened to 25 kts and after surfing over 8 kts repeatedly it was time for Amanda to teaching reefing. Spencer was our navigator had his hands full plotting our hourly position and setting waypoints for Bora Bora's narrow channel entrance and anchorage. Anchor master Jim chose a superb spot not far inside the pass with a perfect 35' sandy bottom out of the gusty winds and seconds after the anchor snubber was set we were all in the water for a refreshing snorkel.

mahina expeditions

Leg 2 - 2012, Update 2

July 2, 2012, 0200 hrs, 20.42 S, 158.39 W, Log: 156,530 miles
Baro: 1008.9, Cabin Temp: 83 F cockpit 76 F, sea water 81.3 F
65 miles to Rarotonga
Close hauled @7.8 kts with 12-17 kt SSE winds, single reef in main and genoa

NON-STOP ADVENTURE IN PARADISE!


Bobby, Spencer, Gordon, Kat, Jim, Julian and Amanda gather at Bloody Mary's
I've gotten behind on these updates as every day since we arrived at Bora Bora has been jam-packed. Our arrival at Bora Bora coincided with the start of the month-long Heiva festival. We enjoyed some great sailing in the lagoon while practicing reefing and tacking, some excellent hikes, runs and snorkeling with the rays, our gang enjoyed an incomparable meal ashore at Bloody Mary's, but the real capper was the dancing.


The dancers as viewed from our bleacher
Last Friday while exploring the town of Vaitape, both Bobby and Jim had locals approach them about that evening's dance performance, starting at 8 PM, at the large outdoor area next to the wharf. We'd planned to anchor out by the pass that evening to get an early start on our sail to Maupiti the following day but Tahitian dancing takes precedence over everything else aboard MT and everyone said they didn't want to miss this opportunity.

As it was a little overcast when we were packing up to head ashore, Amanda asked, “Do you think we should bring our light rain jackets?” I replied that if it rained, it would probably be just a quick drizzle. Boy, was I wrong! Half our crew decided to sit or stand on the sidelines of the performance area while the other half of us decided to pay $12 and try out the bleachers for a better view. We were seated above the judges and next to hotel guests from the Hilton whose fancy ferry launch was tied up nearby.


Julian's view of the dancers after being upgraded to VIP seat courtesy of a security guard and the rain
We understood that each of the next several evenings a different village's dance troupe would be judged on performance. Nunue Village was dancing and fielded 60 dancers plus an impressive vocal, drum, guitar and ukulele band. The dancers did four costume changes with each dance totally different. After the second dance it started lightly misting and a few wimpy tourists left to shelter in their waiting boat or bus. During the third dance the heavens opened and the wind blew - a real proper tropical squall. In the spotlights we could see bands of rain. This didn't slow the dancers, but the entire Hilton contingency scurried away to their fancy launch to take them back to their over-the-water bungalows on an outer islet.


Oooh La La...Julian with a dancer
We all stayed to the end, at which time the skies cleared, the moon shone and we enjoyed a meeting the performers and a lovely walk back to the dinghy. Tahitians heading home to their villages packed the back of pick-up trucks, singing and playing guitars as they passed. What a magical evening!

Our sail to Maupiti was fast, but just as we neared the pass, a monstrous black squall bore down upon us. Here's Kat's account:


It's all hands on deck as we wait out the squall
“Approaching the pass a squall complete with thunder and lightning hit, forcing us to sail slowly away from the entrance, waiting for better visibility. We got drenched as we repeatedly reefed the mainsail. At the height of it, we got a glimpse of a catamaran roaring along toward the entrance. After an hour the squall passed and Gordon steered us in the narrow, tricky entrance. We were rewarded with a clearing sky, breathtaking scenery and turquoise waters of the lagoon and soaring peaks!”

After anchoring and lunch, Amanda taught Rig Check and that evening we watched Wayfinders, a film about Polynesian navigation and voyaging canoes.

The following day was Sunday and here are Julian's impressions:
“Sunday morning on Maupiti was a particularly wonderful moment in the expedition. After the usual morning run, which on Maupiti took us right around the island, we managed to make the morning service at the large old church in the center of the village. The islanders wore colorful attire with long dresses, hats and lots of flowers. We were welcomed and led up to sit in the first row and were honored with flower leis and many thanks for having come. The service was full of angelical singing, led by the women and followed by the men.

After church our gang headed off in several directions. Spencer managed to wade across the shallow lagoon to one of the outer motus (islets) where he enjoyed his picnic lunch under a coconut tree and checked out the watermelon plantations. Jim and Julian found a group of attractive female archeologists from Hawaii practicing hula on a deserted beach and Kat and Gordon found the petroglyphs up a river and most made it the 10 kms around the island.


Spencer, Julian, Kat and Gordon on a scenic hilltop overlooking Maupiti's southern coast

We had planned to set sail Monday afternoon for Mopelia, 100 miles WSW, but the GRIB files showed light headwinds, so we enjoyed another day in the lagoon and Amanda taught sail design and repair and we covered storm tactics.

In the midst of storm tactics class we heard a boat coming alongside, and popping on deck saw Hina's (Hina is a friend of ours on Mopelia) father and another Tahitian and his daughter with a boatload of food and supplies for relatives on Mopelia. Half the supplies were for Hina, and the other half for another family. The other man looked at the name on MT;s transom, looked at me and asked, “John?”

Incredibly, Marcello had remembered a visit 23 years earlier that I had made to Mopelia and written about in Mahina Tiare, Pacific Passages. Back then Marcello and his wife Adrienne were newlyweds, had no children (four would follow, the youngest daughter with him) and were living an idyllic life in an amazing thatch house on stilts perched over the lagoon.

Marcello filled me in on the details: a cyclone had swept the island, and he and Adrienne had survived by putting their babies in an old freezer which floated as successive waves roared across the 6' high island, washing their house and nearly all the palm trees into the lagoon. Now they were helping their son Hio build a house and get started farming pearl shells. Marcello asked if we could take supplies to Mopelia for his Hio, Adrienne and daughter Fiamona.

We set sail in ideal conditions Tuesday afternoon. Winds were never over 15 kts, seas were calm and by 0900 Wednesday we were lined up an entering Mopelia's narrow pass. The continually-ebbing current topped 3.1 knots as we picked our way through the reefs then motored partway across the lagoon as I tried to remember the old location of Marcello and Adrienne's house.

It was Amanda's idea to give a blast on our fog horn and that really did the trick! In minutes our lookouts could spot people running down the beach and a boat being launched. Hio called us on his handheld VHF radio and said he would meet us once we anchored to collect the supplies.

Ashore Adrienne was just as full of life and humor as she was 23 years earlier and was thrilled with our visit. They were all in the process of building a thatched house with Hio doing the construction and Adrienne and Fiamona weaving of coconut for the roof thatching.


Amanda, Adrienne and Fiamona under the beginnings of a thatched roof
Don enjoying blasting along in  the Southern Ocean
Amanda requested a couple of coconuts and Hio took off climbing coconut trees tossing down choice nuts which Adrienne promptly opened and passed around for sampling. Copra (dried coconut meat) is a source of cash income for those on the island and we got to view the results of their efforts. We were next put to work grating nuts with Adrienne giving hints.
Preparing for a stormy night  watch
Spencer being given coconut grating hints by Adrienne. It's not as easy as she makes it look


Fiamona, Adrienee, Amanda, Jim, Bobby, Hio, Gilles, John, Christine, and Julian with Kat and Gordon and Spencer in the front row
It all turned rather festive when a French couple, Gilles and Christine stopped by to visit. They live on Raiatea and were visiting Mopelia for their 23rd time.

We would have enjoyed spending more time with everyone but the anchorage was on a lee shore and we knew that it would be calm and protected off Hina's so after fond farewells and a parting photo and gift of lobsters we raised anchor and headed to the windward shore, dodging pearl farm floats along the way. Hina was happy to see us along with the groceries her father had sent us and we planned a barbecue ashore for the following evening.

One of our favorite places in the world for sunrise runs is the rugged windward beach on Mopelia. Julian and Jim, also keen runners, joined us each morning. The challenge is always finding a trail through the jungle back to the lagoon-side of the islet, so each morning we collected poles and flotsam on the beach to better mark the trail for future cruisers exploring the island.

 


Amanda and Jim gather trail makers
Don enjoying blasting along in  the Southern Ocean
Our spiky trail maker that can be spotted from afar
Preparing for a stormy night  watch
Amanda, Jim and John working hard on trail clearance


Julian's view of the going aloft haulers and resident lagoon sharks
Thursday Amanda taught safely going aloft for rig check and everyone took cameras up the mast for fantastic views of the island and lagoon.

What a barbecue we had Thursday night! The crew of the other three yachts also brought fresh fish, baked cakes and other goodies and three of the young Tahitians camping on the island while working copra brought parrot fish and coconut crabs. We cooked up and brought the lobsters, I baked a yummy ginger carrot cake and Amanda made salads. The crews of the various yachts included a single-handed engineer from France, Gilles and Christine and a lovely French family; she from Reunion Island (near Madagascar), he from France and their kids. The night was magical. Hina had rigged some 12 volt lights over the picnic tables and towards the end Hina and Amanda serenaded the group belting out Maori songs, Hina's powerful baritone voice booming over Amanda's.


Christine and Kat chat while the grill is prepared
Don enjoying blasting along in  the Southern Ocean
The feasting continues
Preparing for a stormy night  watch
Amanda, Hina and John joking about Hina's forgotten taro ice cream

When we said goodbye to Hina yesterday morning, she said, “Don't forget my taro ice cream next year!” Amanda had totally forgotten the joking promise to bring her a tub of ice cream from Maupiti, and according to Keta, her neighbor, Hina had mentioned the previous day that it was about time for Amanda and John to show up with her ice cream. We did remember her love of chocolate bars, though.


Julian perched on the spreaders with camera and Jim and Gord hung off the back of the dinghy as we drifted out the pass at 4 knots before anchoring just south of the entrance where we snorkeled over the wreck of the WWI German square-rigged warship Seaddler.
Don enjoying blasting along in  the Southern Ocean
Kat keeps a lookout on the snorkelers
Preparing for a stormy night  watch
Snorkelers cruising over the wreckage of the square-rigger Seaddler


Jim checks his noon site
Expecting light winds we set sail before lunch and were pleasantly surprised with a 15kt ESE breeze. We rigged the whisker pole to get every ounce of speed, but slowly through the evening the winds lightened, as forecasted, and we had to motor a fair bit which makes for great flat conditions for celestial practice. Fortunately our winds returned last night and our crew has had a good work out tucking in and shaking our reefs. Now we're really sailing along nicely in flat seas with an ETA at Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga of around noon. We're really pushing to get into port and clear customs by late afternoon as several of our gang are excited about joining us for the always crazy House House Harriers fun run and possible barbecue that happens every Monday at 5 PM.

Saturday afternoon we hove-to after celestial practice for an excellent swim on flat sea and minutes after we were underway again Spencer spotted a fishing float. I suggested he steer toward it in hopes of catching a fish and seconds later someone yelled, “FISH ON!” It was a sizeable wahoo (Spanish mackerel) and no sooner had Amanda finished cleaning it than we landed a real fighter of a skipjack tuna. Yesterday when nearing Mauke Island we landed two yellowfin tuna, a rare treat. These are the best fishing results we've experienced in several years.

It's been an excellent expedition - cheerful, inquisitive crew whose sailing and navigation skills have improved daily, great sailing experience and amazing adventures ashore.


Spencer with his catch...he just managed to beat the sharks
Don enjoying blasting along in  the Southern Ocean
Bobby had earlier offered to make sushi when we caught a fish and did an excellent job with the tuna while Amanda grilled the wahoo with Dukah, a tasty African combination of herbs and ground nuts.

Here's they are:

Julian, 26 from Bogota, Columbia
I learned to sail aboard an Optimist in Cartagena, my mother's hometown and honed my dinghy racing skill on 420's racing for the sailing team of St George's School in Newport, RI. My love of cruising comes from chartering in the Caribbean with my family. I've just switched from med school to a PhD in Health Policy at Harvard University, so I doubt I'll be able to go cruising for some time, but my dream is to some day circumnavigate the globe.
(Julian's parents, Marta and Felipe sailed with us on Leg 1-2010 and are two of our all-time favourite expedition members)

Spencer, 46 from Adelaide, Australia
My entire sailing experience is 1.5 years racing with my sailing club, so I chose to experience an ocean passage to better understand if I like ocean sailing and to help me learn what to look for in a cruising boat. I'm interested in buying a 30-35' boat to get more coastwise experience and then eventually sail up to the Solomon Islands and PNG on my own.

Katherine, 55 from Vancouver, Canada
I first began sailing seven years ago, racing out of Vancouver. I still race 2-4 days a week in addition to cruising with Gordon on our Beneteau 32. Five years ago I began to dream of going cruising full time which is what this trip aboard Mahina Tiare is all about. I now know I can conquer my longstanding seasickness (giving up coffee and taking Stugeron) and have also learned that cruising is lots of hard work. I plan to take courses in weather and navigation once I return home.

Gordon, 58
I stared sailing in 1990, living aboard a Seabird 37 then a Maple Leaf 40 for a total of nine years. My last boat was a Catalina 30 and our current boat is the Beneteau 32 that I sail with Kat. Through my work I can fly anywhere in the world, and I plan to sail where ever I land. This is my new dream.

Bobby, 62 from Los Angeles
I am a voice actor/voice over artist for commercials and animation. I've always had a dream of living aboard and cruising and owned a Catalina 22 in the ‘80's which I sailed in Florida. What an amazing experience this expedition has been. I am now looking for a 37'-40' Pacific Seacraft and maybe a sweet lady to share the adventure with.

Jim, 62 from Portland, Oregon
I'm interested in cruising the Caribbean and South Pacific and earlier completed the Panama-Hawaii leg aboard MT. I am a retired firefighter.

July 4, 2012, 0600 hrs, 21.12 S, 159.46 W, Log: 156,606 miles
Baro: 1014.6, Cabin Temp: 73 F cockpit 71 F, sea water 77 F
Anchored off Trader Jack's, Avarua, Rarotonga

WE'VE MADE IT TO RARO!

As we approached Raro we saw two yachts anchored off Trader Jack's (a notorious waterfront bar and restaurant) which was not a good sign. When Port Control replied to our calls on channel 16 they told us we too would need to anchor off the island as the redevelopment Avatiu Harbour was going on around the clock with dredging operations.

Anchoring offshore of any island is always a challenge and generally means one person needs to stay aboard for anchor watch. Amanda dove in with goggles and fins and tried to find a secure place for us to drop anchor but we drug the anchor in reverse several boat lengths as that the bottom appeared to be hard, flat coral with a couple of inches of sand cover. A second try yielded only slightly better results which I decided would have to do temporarily in the calm conditions. With the current SSE winds we are in the lee of the island although when the wind shifts with frontal passages, ESE and then NE, N, NW, W, Amanda and I instantly knew that our week off between expeditions was not going to be easy.

Preparing for a stormy night  watch
Julian and Jim are smiles after completing the re-anchoring of MT off the reef. How cool to be anchored off Trader Jack where dinner and drinks await.
Port Control explained that the harbourmaster had resigned months earlier but offered to meet me at Trader's small boat and canoe landing to wait for Customs, Quarantine and Health inspectors. The inspectors never showed up, so Fa offered me a ride to Customs on the back of his motorscooter. As I was clearing customs, the Quarantine officer showed up and I was able to easily complete his forms. He was only concerned to hear whether or not we had any meat aboard, and when I asked if he would like our veggie scraps and leftover fruit and vegetables he said, “Naah, just chuck them in the harbour!” Our next stop was the Port Office at the harbour (which we normally moor in front of) and the helpful girls offered to book the fuel tanker truck and arrange for us to get water briefly alongside at 10:30 the next morning.

Bobby, Kat and Gordon headed for hotels ashore and Jim and Julian helped us re-anchor in a slightly better location before we headed off, with Spencer, to the backside of the island for a wild and wonderful Hash House Harrier run up the mountains and along the old Kings Road. Hash was just as crazy and fun as always and Jim volunteered to carry a double baby-buggy across a river and up a slippery slope as the tri-athlete mum ran like a gazelle holding her 18 month boy while the her older daughter was passed along to volunteering haulers.

Once back on a rough track she popped the kiddies in and took off faster than anyone else! Julian Jim and Spencer were all instantly hooked on HHH and determined to find local groups in Boston and Portland and Adelaide. We made it back to Trader's by seven to join the rest of our gang for a totally outstanding dinner with MT's anchor lights visible offshore beyond the reef.

After a dawn mountain run yesterday we had excellent help from our guys maneuvering Mahina Tiare into the very busy little harbor, temporarily tying up to a huge ship fender while we fueled, watered and washed down before heading back offshore to reanchor.

We'd spotted a notice in the local paper of a free lecture at University of the South Pacific's local campus by two visiting scientists on the deep reef ecology of the Cook Islands. As all of our remaining crew are keen divers, we met last night and were stunned by the presentation. The scientists had help pioneer new re-breathing apparatus that allows them to spend considerable time at depths up to 350', far deeper than scuba allows and as a result, they are discovering new species almost daily. They showed a PowerPoint presentation of the dispersal of reef fish in the Pacific and video footage shot only hours earlier of coral of fish species never before seen by humans.

Well, that's it for Leg 2, 2012! It was an excellent expedition with learning and insights right to the end! Several of our expedition members mentioned they want to be onboard when we next sail from Norway up to Spitsbergen, just short of the North Pole in a couple years. True adventurers!

mahina expeditions

Leg 2 - 2012 Itinerary

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