About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi


"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Passage Days 4/5 - Suwarrow Atoll (at last!!!)

Finally arrived this morning at Suwarrow. The last night was a long one with constant squalls, some bringing torrential rain, the heaviest we've seen since leaving Costa Rica over a year ago. The last one also brought a major wind shift....our typical 15-25 knot SE trade winds packed it in, to be replaced with a 5-10 knot northerly!! Happily(?) we just had about 30 miles to go, and wound up motoring for the last 5 hours in the dying noserly, to arrive at around 8am. It seems that the SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone), like it's cousin the ITCZ (also known as "the doldrums") has taken up residence at a higher latitude than normal...RIGHT OVER SUWARROW!!, bringing flukey winds, heaps of rain, and even thunderstorms.

Anchoring today was not without some drama. We typically check for lines in the water before starting our engine after we've been sailing. Unfortunately today we missed a line, our starboard running backstay, that lives coiled on the stern arch. The coil must've dropped over the transom during the night, and motoring forward was no problem. The problem became VERY obvious when we put the engine into reverse to set our anchor. Instantly we heard a horrendous noise from the arch, which holds solar panels, antennas, stern anchor, and of course, running backstays! These backstays are made of Dyneema, an extremely strong, low stretch, hi tech (read expen$ive) rope. The whole coil was solidly wrapped and knotted around the propeller and shaft. It pulled so hard that it put a bend into the overhead arch, and broke a weld. More work for New Zealand in a few months! After a quick recon to check out the underwater situation, Adam put on a scuba tank and went in to cut and hack the $400 hunk of rope to shreds to remove from the prop shaft. And this while 5 sharks were circling. Even though they were just black tipped reefies, they still get attention! At any rate, the line was finally removed, and no damage appears to have been done to the feathering prop, the shaft or bearings...whew, a bullet dodged, and not one we wanted to deal with after a pretty sleepless night of steady squalls.

But we're here at last, at this remote atoll in the middle of nowhere. Now the Cook Islands' only national park, it used to be the home of a modern day Robinson Crusoe, Tom Neale, who lived here in relative isolation for many years, and was supposed to have been a terrific host to visiting yachties. We're still trying to find a copy of his book, "An Island of Ones Own". Today the atoll is home to 2 park rangers who live here 6 months each year. They are dropped off by the government with supposedly supplies for entire their stay. There are no other supply boats, and no other support provided by their employer. The depend on yachties to bring other supplies (we had heard they needed coffee, sugar, gasoline, cigarettes, fish hooks, and rum!!!) We helped out with gifts as they sat aboard checking us in with customs and immigration forms, and afterwards gave Bravo a quick fumigation spraying. Buh bye bugs!!!

More to follow on the Suwarrow adventure....for now, it's time for an early movie and in bed by 8.....cheers!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Passage Day 1 - Bora Bora to Suwarrow Atoll

Rockin and rollin to Suwarrow!!! Been a fast straight downwind run. Still wing and wing, with genoa to port, main to starboard. Unfortunately looks like we'll arrive in the dark on Monday night, and have to heave-to until daylight to enter the lagoon. Trying to slow the boat down in this wind (20-30 knots) and seas (2.5-4.5 meters) just isn't effective. Still making around 7 knots with double reef and hanky of a genoa. All's well aboard otherwise. Happy to see the improvements we made to our reefing system in Papeete seem to have done the trick in solving the chafing problem. Fish report: zilch. Too rolly to fish today. Trolled all day yesterday with no luck.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Passage Day 1 - Bora Bora to Suwarrow Atoll

We finally left Bora Bora yesterday at 2:30 pm. Felt great to get underway, even with a bit of apprehension in the air about the weather, and especially the seas. The reality wasn't bad. The seas have been a bit big, around 4 meters, but the winds have been moderate, in the mid 20's w/ gusts in the mid 30's. Except for a brief jibe on a large wind shift, we've been running wing on wing, with the genoa poled out to port and the double reefed main on starboard. Pretty rolly, as we're heading straight downwind with wind and waves behind us, but the surfing has been fun, where we've had several surfs of over 10 knots. Occasional squalls make sure we don't get bored!!!

No fish to report...no line in the water. Would be tough to play and land the fish, we're rolling so hard, and we definitely would have a hard time filleting the rascal once he was aboard. Maybe sushi awaits us tomorrow!

All's well aboard!
150 miles down, about 540 to go.....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

"ooooooh, mama, could this really be the end....."


 "......to be stuck inside of Bora Bora with the Tonga blues again?....."  Apologies to Mr. Dylan, and we certainly don't expect a TON of sympathy, but we really are stranded here in Bora Bora waiting for a weather window to head west.  This season has been tough to find adequate stretches of decent sailing weather.  All of the weather models we check have been forecasting 30-40 knot winds with 5 meter seas for the past week, and the coming week looks little better.  In fact, Bob McDavitt, a well known Kiwi forecaster, in his weekly south pacific briefing, today said:  Tahiti to Tonga:  Too much wind and waves in the squash zone this week. Just spend the time on other cultural activities.  

So, we wait, along with a growing fleet of other cruisers, for a more favorable forecast.  In fact, with boats arriving every day, the lagoon is filling with yachts stacked up like cordwood, all waiting for the "go" sign from on high!!!  Lot's of internet time spent on serious hand wringing forecast checking, and b.s.'ing with other cruisers at happy hour, everyone trying to see what they're hoping to see, either in the forecast sites or in the equally amateur views of others.  Pretty funny, really, this "group think" phenomena.


View from anchorage in Papeete, Moorea in background
So, 'nuff o' that.  How HAVE we been spending our time, really?  Well, we finally took care of last minute chores in Tahiti, a list that seemingly wouldn't end.  This was our last opportunity for boat repairs before New Zealand, many miles and 3-4 months away.  The day that we planned to depart, Cindi lost a tooth crown!!!  Happily she found it (!!!), and a terrific dentist in Papeete epoxied it back in, no muss, no fuss.  (Adam was planning on a dollop of JB Weld, but Cindi opted for a dentist....go figure, she of little faith!!!)

Cruising boat washed up on the rocks after a rough night in the Papeete anchorage.  A sobering sight, she was still there when we left 1 week later.
 
A yacht named "A", the latest toy of another Russian gazillionaire


Various means of transportation in Papeete

Young Tahitian surfs Bravo's wake while leaving Tahiti

After leaving Papeete, we had a rather boisterous overnight sail to Huahine, where we spent a couple of days at this pretty quite untouristy (for the Society Islands).  People were friendly, the scenery typically beautiful, and we should have stayed longer before heading out to Bora Bora, a long daysail away.

Bora Bora has been a bit disappointing, really.  Though the lagoon is indeed drop dead beautiful in places, the motus (islets) surrounding the lagoon are all privately owned, mostly by the large hotels...Four Seasons, Hilton, St. Regis, the list goes on.  So it's difficult if not impossible to land ashore, except for the main island in the center of the lagoon.  

On this island is the main town of Vaitape, as well as various mooring areas such as the famous Bora Bora yacht club (seemingly a bit run down, and past it's former glory days), the new and very nice Mai Kai Marina and Yacht Club, where we're now on a mooring, Bloody Mary's restaurant, a bit touristy, but a lot of fun (what other restaurant has not a coat check room, but a flip flop check room, as the floor is all sand, and feels great barefoot!!!).  Also, most of the actual residents of Bora Bora call the island home.

Entering the Bora Bora yacht club.
We rented bikes one day for a ride around the island perimeter, a flat 20 miles, with lots of classic lagoon views.  The bikes were perfect for the task... one speed, coaster brakes, white walls, ape hanger chopper handlebars...perfect beach bikes!





























Cool "ship in a lightbulb", a model at a little maritime museum visited on our bike ride

We've really enjoyed the Heiva celebration here in Bora Bora.  A month long celebration in all of French Polynesia held each July, the Heiva celebrates Polynesian culture through dance, music, and athletics such as canoe races and rock lifting.  Bora Bora takes it seriously, and many nights we take the dinghy over to the Heiva site to watch the spectacle.  Lots of trophies for winners of the competitions.  This week is the inter island competition, and the dancers are intent on bringing home the glory to their villages.  This is no "Dick Clark goes to a luau", but rather a real showing of pride in the culture.  Amazing performances, obviously rehearsed for months.  











 
Sizing up the competition

Both male and female dancers were amazing








A corner of the bling room, goodies for the Heiva winners
Bastille Day is a big deal in France, and observed with a good natured celebration here in Polynesia.  On Bora Bora there was a funky parade, with the hotels, clubs, gyms, and of course, yacht clubs all participating.  Mai Kai's theme was pirates, and we came out in force.....ARGHHHHH, avast ye scallywags!!!

Adam w/ John from Mystic Moon.  This pirate stuff is serious business!!!

The costume judges looked like they had mixed reaction to our gangs efforts!!!!!
This will probably be our last post from French Polynesia.  We've had a terrific 3 month stay in this beautiful, diverse country.  The people have been wonderful to us, in spite of our bumbled attempts at French.  The diving and underwater adventures have been world class, and will be high bar to beat as we work west.  But our visa has run out, and we've checked out with the gendarmes, bound for Suwarrow atoll as soon as the seas die down a bit (possibly tomorrow!!).  We'll miss this place, but have to admit it will be a treat to be able to better communicate with the locals as we work our way toward English speaking islands.  Cheers!



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tahiti and Moorea.....time out for work and play...

Well, we've been in the Tahiti/Moorea groove for a few weeks now, enjoying the time out that this south pacific pit stop offers.  Many repairs were overdue, such as the rigging we noted in Nuku Hiva.  At that time, we reported that we had seen only a couple of strands broken out of a swaged connection at the top of one shroud, a lower on the starboard side.

2 broken shrouds
Well, when Adam went up the mast to take it down, and into the rigging shop for a new one, he found that the shroud in question had now broken all but about 3 strands (out of 20), and it's neighbor, also a starboard lower had just 4 remaining.....yikes, that was WAY closer than we had known to a major problem.  Happily we were able to order new shrouds (we replaced the broken two, and the matching pair on the port side as well) from New Zealand, and we cut them to size and just installed them yesterday.  We will replace the rest of the rigging when we reach New Zealand in November.

Another interesting problem was nipped in the bud....one morning while charging the batteries with the generator (running the genset far too much these days, as we watch our expensive P.O.S. Lifeline batteries give up the ghost after just 18 months....and Lifeline won't answer any emails.....grrrrrrrr.......  I digress......) we noticed the smell of burning electrical insulation....a very distinctive, very scary smell.  Fire aboard a boat is a really bad thing.  Really B-A-D!!!!  We finally found the culprit, a plug that had apparently gotten a bit of corrosion, raising the resistance to the burning point.  Easy to fix with a hardwire bypass of the plug, but could have been a real disaster.  Another bullet dodged, but a pretty close call on this one.

Okeee doke, 'nuff of the repairs.  Lots of smaller (but oh-so-expensive in Tahiti) bits have been repaired as well.  New main halyard, and all 3 reef lines, all now Dyneema, should last a while.  And as promised, on to the fun stuff...

Friends Rich and Laura came down to Moorea from Seattle for a visit.  We brought Bravo across the 10 mile channel from Tahiti, and anchored in beautiful Oponohu Bay, near to their hotel.  Had a lot of fun exploring the island together on our rented scooters.  Excellent hiking and decent snorkels on the reef.  Nice.



View from top of pass, looking down on Oponohu Bay on left and Cooks Bay on the right.


Adam starts up a Moorea chapter of the Hells Angels on his 50cc weedeater

Heading home

Picasso triggerfish

Cindi at a Polynesian dance lesson.....it's a fact, Polynesian hips ARE connected differently!!!
 

Went snorkeling with a gaggle (herd? school? mess?) of big stingrays in the Moorea lagoon.  Quite amazing, really, as these bad boys are used to being fed, and are all over us to get some goodies.  We had saved flying fish in our freezer to use for fishing bait, but we broke them out to feed the rays, they loved it, "climbing" nearly out of the water on our shoulders to grab the fish with mouths like Hoover vacuums.  A bit weird to be standing in 4' of water with monster stingrays acting like little puppies, while reef sharks swim all through the frenzy.  Very cool, all in all!!!











Nicole from Bella Star makes a new friend

Every year Latitude 38 magazine, based in S.F. sponsors a rendevous in Moorea of "puddle jump" boats.  Since we were already here, we decided to motor around the corner into Cooks Bay to join in the festivities.  A terrific opportunity to catch up with other boats we've met along the cruising highway, as well as a great slate of activities, including the all-Polynesia ukelele contest (winning band gets tickets to San Diego to compete in the international uke competion.....in SAN DIEGO?????......)



Winning team with their tickets to San Diego
Outrigger canoe races were the main event on the last day of the rendevous.  Adam and Cindi were both on 6 person teams made up of 4 gringos and 2 studly Polynesian rowers.  Adam's team, the Lei Men made it to the semi finals.....you know what they say about "old age and treachery.....!!!




Race starter took her job seriously!!!


Lei Men on the left, Adam in red shirt.


Grabbing victory on the outside!!!

This guy was no beginner!!!
This guy was!!!

The "Lei Men" in fine form after a stunning come from behind victory in the first heat




Off goes Cindi's team, the "Flying Huahine's"

A few last minute instructions from the head of the race committee.....

"And they're off....."


All in all, a great day, with the races, Tahitian dancing (w/ instructions), fire walking, I mean it had all the bases covered!!!
















We're now back in Tahiti, many boat projects scratched of the list, and ready to head west to the Leeward Islands.....Bora Bora here we come!!!