Thursday, May 5, 2011

Not yet...

A small-ish coconut crab
We have not yet left Mopelia. For two days, we've had black skies and
constant rains, so we've decided to wait until this system has settled down.
Although we're anxious to move along and see our friends who are awaiting us
in Suwarrow, we're definitely not keen to endure this weather while sailing.
So we wait.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


May 3 - Happy Birthday Sooh!!

Our second day in Mopelia was fabulous. After a long rest to catch up on
sleep, we spent the morning aboard Renova. I finally made use of the wedding
tulle Julia gave me in Mexico (thanx), and sewed up some bug screens for our
hatches. The flies here have swarmed the boat, and although they don't bite,
they are especially annoying. We're now fly free!

The afternoon was spent wandering around the motu (island), where we checked
out the reef, where we noticed the ocean was as smooth as glass, and met the
other local resident Monique. After she called off her aggressive dogs, we
had a good chat with her, while she continued her work of digging out the
meat from the coconut shells.

In the evening, we joined Hina to walk to the outside of the reef, in search
of lobster. We've tried this once before - on Toau - and we were pathetic.
This time was no different. While John and I shone our lights through the
water in search of beady little eyes, and seeing none, Hina had collected
three monsters for us in no time! We delighted in cooking them up fresh at
the boat!

Overnight, the wind seems to have returned. So this morning, we will check
the weather, and if conditions look good, we will set sail for Suwarrow, in
the Cook Islands.

We've now left all internet behind and rely solely on our sat phone
connection for emails. We will include occasional photos with our blog.

Labels: French Polynesia, fish, projects

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Mopelia

May 1! (Hurray, Hurray, It's the first of May, eh JOE!?)

An early morning start as we prepared to set sail for Mopelia - about 100
miles west of us. This would be a full 24 hour sail for us, so we prepared
the boat, and ourselves for a long day and night on the water.

After taking on ths supplies that we were delivering to Hina, some water
from the docks, and a quick snorkel we set off across the lagoon.

It was our first overnight passage in many months, and we were pleased that
the weather gods were kind to us. We were making great speed, and were very
comfortable with only about 1 meter or so of ocean swell, and no wind waves
to speak of. During the night, we had a couple short squally patches, that
encouraged us to reef in main and genoa, but we were doing well.
Unfortunately, the wind moved to a more northerly direction, and we found
ourselves tacking into the wind. Yuck. But since we had made such good time,
it wasn't a problem, and we found ourselves outside of the pass, and the
best time of day for visibility, just before noon.

WHAM...a fish hit our rod, and all hands were on deck as we prepared for
sushi dinner! It was a strong fish, and John grunted while reeling it in.
Finally we were able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful silver tuna that
had been fighting so hard. Unfortunately, it was HUGE. Much bigger than we
could eat. And more than we could keep in our new little fridge/freezer. And
we didn't know if Hina had any refridgeration or freezer capacity on the
island. We decided to let it go. In my mind, it really was the fish of a
lifetime. A big beautiful tuna. For the rest of the afternoon, we consoled
ourselves with little statements like: "It was so big, it must have had a
lot of mercury build-up" or this classic "I'm sure it was ok, it swam away
so quickly" and of course, "it would have been a shame to waste it". Sure,
our spagetti was good...but oh...sushi...

But...back to the story. After freeing nemo, we did a couple of drive-bys in
front of the pass. It didn't look good. The pass was VERY narrow. Shallow
coral on each side. No room to turn around if it wasn't going well. The
outgoing current was obvious. The NW ocean swell was directed directly into
the pass. Swell against current = standing waves. Yuck.

But, we had this lady's food!

And so we went. Anchor ready. Yet, it was fine. We've been through much
worse. But at one point we were only making two knots of progress, with our
engine pinned! We had over 4 knots of current pushing against us.

But, we are here, and have anchored in a tropical remote wilderness. Hina
lives here on her own, and there is one couple living at the other end of
the island. They are all copra (coconut) farmers. At one time they also
farmed pearls, but this lagoon did not produce great quality pearls, and
they now rely solely on the copra. They receive supplies by sailboats, like
us, and on the ship that comes to collect their copra (every three months).
Pretty quiety life.

After a good night's rest, we'll do some exporing tomorrow, and Hina has
offered to take us lobster fishing!! HURRAY!

To The Top!!

We decided to hike up to Mt. Teurafaatiu (380m). Not for the weak-hearted
(me), nor the unfit (me), nor the sandle-wearing tourist (me). Ha. But, we
huffed and puffed our way to the top and were rewarded with amazing
almost-360-degree views. What a stunner. We sat on the volcanic rock and
took in the views of the lagoon with our boat settled in the crystal clear,
azure waters, surrounded with small islands surrounding the main island, and
the coral reefs that dot the lagoon. I took a million photos and a video,
but those will have to wait until we reach the land of internet.