Wednesday, June 6, 2018

RUMPUS in the Society Islands - Isles sous le vent

Rumpus spent a few months out of the water at Raiatea Carenage. Highly recommended for boat care and friendliness.  There was plenty to do when Kristin arrived: refashion the spinnaker pole, antifouling, and the delightful job of disassembling, cleaning and re-plumbing the holding tank. Also seeing what could be done to the mainsail to repair some of the worst short,  preparing Rumpus for launch and racing! 

spreading the main out on the nearby basketball court...

Our time this year was in 4 phases….

Phase 1: 6 on board: Murray & Dale, Karen & Nick, Rupe and Kristin for the Tahiti Pearl Regatta – Five active racing days: two races per day with destination parties in Taha’a and Borabora. 
We won two of the passage races and one of the ‘banana’ (windward leeward) races. 

Highlight: being joined by French sailing legend Loick Peyron on one of our races. He spent most of the time on the bow shaping our genoa and, after we rounded the top mark…”We go downwind, this is time for a cigarette…”. 

Our haka as we crossed the finish line of this race was perhaps a little sketchy but the locals enjoyed it. 

L to R: Rupe, Nick Bullock, Loick Peyron, Murray Gilbert

Loick Peyron with the foredeck crew Kristin and Fiona 

There were some exciting moments as the fleet entered the passes with giant rollers on each side

Chilled out race official

Pre start excitement

We loved this regatta. Our Russian friend Alexei with his Shipman 63 "Vera", whom we’d met first in Panama and later in Auckland, raced with his friends and family including 3 young girls. Fiona Ryder from Auckland took the helm for the racing and they came 2ndoverall in the cruising division to their great delight.

Rumpus came 4thoverall and we were thrilled to win the award for the “Boat with the Best Spirit”!

Phase 2: Dale and Murray left to continue their world journey. Karen, Nick, Rupe and Kristin visited Borabora and some Taha’a anchorages. We relaxed with some market shopping and dinner at the Borabora yacht club. 

Phase 3: Karen and Nick returned home, and Guy, Katherine and baby Amelia joined us. This meant a complete change of pace as we worked around the best sleeping times for Amelia and found places ashore for her to run about. The change of scene and the heat rather unsettled her but she really enjoyed the water and all the special time she had with Guy at her beck and call!  

Phase 4: Just us: Kristin and Rupe. We stocked up at Uturoa. Here you can tie up to the fuel dock and take on water, fuel and groceries all within 50 metres. Then off to Huahine where we watched a stand up paddle race, discovered a paradise anchorage in the south (Avea) and met some new friends including Jennifer and Mark on their private dive boat Starlet.

These kids were all cheering for "Papa!" in the SUP race

Kristin had a great dive with Jennifer and Mark; then we rented a scooter and drove all around Huahine – there are some special treats: completely secluded bays, ancient stone Maraes, and giant blue eyed eels at Fitii. 

Marae Ma'anunu

Nous n'avons que d'oeufs......(we only have eggs)

Next day we decided to go to Maupiti, an island about 100 miles west of Huahine. Maupiti has only one, very narrow, coral-lined entrance pass. We ‘d been told that it was a truly magical place. After 4 hours motor sailing from Borabora, we assessed the pass. Huge rollers from the 3m southerly ocean swell were breaking at times right across the entrance and a current was flowing out at >6 knots. We decided that it was far too risky: Our chances of careening down a wave face beam on and slewing onto coral were extremely high. 
Somewhere behind this wave is a narrow entrance to the Maupiti pass

So……back to Borabora and then to Taha'a. We anchored in a little bay which was overwhelmed by the incredible sounds of a dance/drum rehearsal for the July festivities. 
We rowed across to watch. The entire village was there - we were the only 'popa'as' (pakehas). There were 16 drummers, dozens of dancers, and a choir. 

traditional nose flute....

Over the next few days another trip to Huahine. Stunning sunsets every night and very benign weather. Rumpus goes back to the Raiatea Carenage this weekend and we will be back for more sailing in October....

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Huahine, Taha'a, Raiatea: what day of the week is "vendredrink?'

Next stop Huahine, in the Isles du Vent (windward islands) of the Society Islands group which includes Tahiti. This was a 340 mile passage and our first two-handed. Not a problem, under the beautiful full moon. Caught a yellow fin tuna; yum.
The down side of short-handing: cockpit chaos after shaking out a reef

Huahine, Taha’a and Raiatea are surrounded by extensive lagoons, with numerous passes through. There are so many beautiful places; these are islands we’ll explore more on Rumpus’s next excursion.

A bit of exercise at Passe Avamoa, Huahine

In Taha’a, you can pick up a mooring at the Hotel Hibiscus (it’s expected that you’ll visit the bar and restaurant if you do). Joining 4 other cruisers for drinks, we were served by a French version of Basil Fawlty, 30 years older. Our dinner orders were lost in translation. We were told we could have ‘poisson’ (fish) or poisson, and nothing else. No salad or veggies or bread. So we said, no thanks (we’d caught a tuna and had eaten enough poisson for a while). Over an hour later, vegetables and rice arrived. A complete puzzle! 

Next day a visit to Patio village and an offshore island; admiring a four-master with a few hundred happy cruisers.

Our last day out. Slightly damp but wonderful. 

Carenage and ‘Vendredrinks’. 

Rumpus is now happily hauled up, out of the water, in the Raiatea Carenage, awaiting her next adventure. Rupe is back in NZ, and Kristin is doing all those things that you have to do to get a boat maintained, cleaned and ready to be left for a while. Borabora looms tantalisingly in the distance, and daily dealings and socialising are all in French. These have included a boat sale party, meeting Liz Clark on her boat Swell and Friday drinks in the boatyard: aka “Vendredrinks”. So, from the adventures of Rumpus, a bientot! 

A birthday in paradise: the Tuamotus and beyond.

From the Marquesas to the Tuamotus is about 500 miles: 4 days and 3 nights. 
Sunset at sea..

Our weather forecaster Bruce Buckley works from Perth. He emails updates and ideas for our passages; how to avoid thunderstorms, what wind strength and direction to expect. It's like having another crew member. 
So when he foresaw strong winds hitting the Tuamotus, we decided to stay a few more days in the Marquesas, in a secure anchorage at Nuku Hiva with plenty to explore. The month-long July celebrations were still under way, with pop up restaurants and traditional dance competitions. 

We then stole a march on our passage to the Tuamotus by crossing to Ua Pou, where we'd been a week earlier. Slightly south and west, this island was a good departure point.

Rupe's Hat and the 'knock knock magasin'
At Hakahetau, on Ua Pou, there's a tiny shop ('magasin' in French) in the front room of a nondescript house. You have to knock on the door and shout "magasin!!”, then they'll open up to sell bread and other basics. Rupe lost his favourite hat there or thereabouts the previous week. Hoping to retrieve it, we returned  to the 'knock knock magasin' and there it was, resting quietly on a table. Happy Rupe.  

Passage to Tuamotus
We headed round to the west cost of Ua Pou, closest departure point for the passage, but there was no internet signal. A major problem for Nico, who begged us to backtrack to a bay with a signal so that he could chat online with his boyfriend Pablo.  In exchange he promised to be the most responsive, diligent, hardworking crew ever throughout the passage, and happily do whatever was asked of him. Little did he know that in a few days we would be dealing with the perils of the Blocked Holding Tank….
We left slightly ahead of our friends Jenny Jamie and Paul on their  39 foot Lagoon catamaran 'Due West'.

After 3 great days and 2 nights sailing we arrived at the charming atoll of Kauehi. We charged through the pass in the coral reef with a 6 knot current running into the lagoon; big eddies and overfalls. Many of the passes through the reefs of the Tuamotus are tricky and dangerous, so for Rumpus with our deep keel, some islands aren’t accessible. Fortunately Kauehi was. 
Anchoring off Tearavero village, we explored ashore. Three churches, two shops, and some intriguing waterfront dwellings. One had a pig in a cage on stilts over the sea ('to protect him from the dogs') 
We met a pearl farmer with 6 huge live coconut crabs tied with nylon to the rafters of his porch. They dined on chunks of coconut scattered about. These crabs are allegedly delicious and increasingly rare. They can open coconuts with their huge claws; so they can easily sever your finger. 

Poo poo
Day 2, we motored out to the pass to tackle the Blocked Holding Tank on an outgoing current. This Poo Jam involved gloves, hoses, siphons, sponges, buckets, and nasty nasty smells.  Rupe emptied the holding tank manually through the inspection port. We then found that the through-hull outlet was quite blocked. 
Brave Nico dived under the boat with a wire to poke into the hole.....successfully releasing a golden cloud - and swimming super fast to get back aboard! 

Nico was keen to get to Papeete and onwards as soon as possible. Rumpus was heading for Raiatea. So, Nico decided to join the crew of Cannonball, a large sloop with a crew of about 10, due to leave for Papeete the next day. 

Enfin, sailing a deux.
Now there were just two of us on Rumpus. We motored 50 miles to Fakarava, a huge atoll with a lagoon 20 miles long and passes north and the south.
How to store your boat in a calm lagoon.

Pearl farm museum

Rehearsal for the evening's show

After a couple of days in the main village of Rotoava, we threaded our way down the channel to stunning  Harife in the southeast corner.  (Recommendation from Tom and Alex on El Mundo; the guidebook authors clearly want to keep this magical place secret). Agenda for Kristin’s birthday: snorkelling with the black tip sharks, paddle boarding and exploring the outer reef.

Yes this is a swing~

Friendly little black tip reef shark

coral, cowrie shell and intact lightbulb.

Wind and a rainbow on the ocean side

How to spend your 57th birthday. Super lucky. 

Our old friends on Due West and Freja came down the channel to join us for a little party on board with the last of our Caribbean rum, a fabulous birthday cake made by Merete, and a card and decorations from Jenny and Paul! 

The southern pass of Fakarava (Passe Tumukohua) is 5 miles from Harife. There are moorings there, accommodation in little island bungalows, a restaurant, and two dive operators. I recommend Tetamanu Diving. Two incredible dives in the strong current of the pass, with sharks and astonishing numbers and variety of fish.

The most picturesque dive centre I've ever seen: Tetamanu Diving.

Dive boat passenger

We were extra careful getting into our dinghy.
Leaving Fakarava...

Passe Tumukohua has a least depth of just under 3 metres. That’s about the same as Rumpus’s keel. Dilemmas and discussions about whether to spend a day returning to the north (deeper) pass or venture through the south pass. After wide consultation with locals, examining charts and aerial photos, and a generous helping of gumption, we braved the pass; exultation and relief!
Yay, we made it! Off to the Society Islands!