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Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Raiatea is a lovely island and it is the spiritual cultural and epi-centre of Polynesia in fact it is often referred to as the 'cradle of Polynesia'. Historically the peoples of Polynesia travelled from here up to Hawaii, down to New Zealand and everywhere in between. It is purported to have the largest maerae in all of Polynesia - Taputapuatea - a sacred spiritual place that is now mostly grown over with jungle vines although the remnants of the huge boulders which make up the platforms peek out from under the foliage throughout the jungle just waiting to be discovered... Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the centre of this island... our time was filled with the very important activity of 'doing laundry'...priorities you know...

... when one has a boatload of damp, salt encrusted (some clothing starting to stand up on their own!) often smelly laundry we have discovered why many cruisers rate the various marinas and towns they visit according to the finer points of being able to 'do laundry'. I suppose if one were inclined to do so, one could score them on a 'laundry service spectrum':

High score -The Ultimate Polynesian Laundry Services-

This level of doing laundry requires a very inexpensive laundry service (most charge around 800 fcp -equivalent to $8.00- per kilo of clothes) where one lugs ones laundry in old sailbags to the dinghy dock where the local laundry come yacht service lady or man is happily waiting to take the smelly damp stuff- and wishes you a happy "Na Na - which is the Tahitian bye bye" as you head off to explore their piece of tropical paradise. By the end of the day the same happy launderer meets you back at the same dinghy dock with said sail bags filled with freshly laundered albeit slightly wrinkled (as they are rarely folded) laundry and with a cheerful "Maru'ru - thank you in Tahitian" - you trundle it all in your dinghy and head back to the mother ship (trying to keep it protected from the spray off the bow of the dinghy).

Mid-score - Pretty Darned Good Laundry Experience-

Then we have the inexpensive washer and drier situated in a very nice, clean marina 'Lavaderier' where one pops soiled clothing and other sundry items into as many bright shiny washers as one requires,pop in the liquid laundry soap et voila... washing is done as one waits on a comfy chair and reads through a vast array of literature left by other happy cruisers. Driers are available and have multiple settings so that each load is nicely matched to it's drying needs. The happy cruiser heads back to the boat with a nicely folded, clean smelling load of laundry and a pocket full of change.

Doesn't Derserve to be Included in the Spectrum Score- Consider Yourself Lucky to Find'em Washing Facilities-

In this category you are lucky to find a washing machine (note - singular)and driers are non- existent... with 3 large loads of washing staring one in the face and only one very small washing machine (with a secret hidden knob requiredto turn it on) this facility is found very low on our laundry services spectrum.

Unfortunately this was what we found at the marina on Raiatea and unaware of the waiting complexities of this laundry establishment (one tiny closet-sized unventilated room where one must close the door of the room before one can open the door of the washing machine)...Co-cap Billy confidently assured Co-Cap Cath that he would do the laundry as she took the crew to scope out the town 5 km down the road. Three hours later when happy co-cap and crew return from trip to town and back in an air-conditioned shuttle taxi, Co- Cap Billy is still sitting outside the laundry room waiting for his FIRST load to finish!! Needless to say when co-cap Cath took over co-cap Billy bolted for the nearest bar (air-conditioned).

Of course, one must consider oneself lucky when one finds any type of laundry facility as the alternative is that of "salt-water wash with fresh water rinse bucket wash day"... however, that is another story...

Co-Cap Cathy

The Dinghy Dock

Got to love the "Dinghy Dock"... that little work horse "The Dinghy" needs or is served well by its own little dock. In Terrwyn's case it's "The Pickle". (Sir Frances Drake's Golden Hine was initially named Pickel, If I remember correctly).

Ubiquitous in these parts, The Dinghy Dock is rather like Plaza Major or Grand Central Station. Each serving the same function each with their own flare. Each a place for crews to converge, meet and compare notes, swap stories from the Mother Vessels anchored off nearby in plain view.

Sometimes local fishermen clean their daily catch and sharks abound or just yachties load water, fuel, and groceries up and down rickety ladders or floats and the kids swim around.

The dinghy painters pile up on the rare bollard and it's a shell game to loosen only your own. Refreshingly locks are very uncommon as generally its bowline with round turn and 2 half hitches on old weathered recycled sheets or halyards.

The dinghy fleet is a mixture of generally RIBs (Rigid Inflatable Bottom boats) a few hard rowing dinks or just plain old and smalle like Pickle. Many are canvas covered (UV pro) and a few "anchored off" in 3 ft. of water if the dinghy dock is just a ramp or sandy beach or an ancient village stone quay. All different all varieties on the theme. All lovely, warm water, inviting, and FREE.

They are all nodes of activity, stages where the crews play their own parts. A busy congested community service for yachties, one time visitors as ourselves.

I love the Dinghy Dock. I am so happy and generally so relieved to arrive at yet another totally new yet strangely familiar little dock. And on it goes day flows into day as we thread our own way through Polynesia and unload Pickle to explore another totally new island - always setting off the from and returning to "The Dinghy Dock". Ships log

Latitude 16 degrees 38 minutes

Longitude 151 degrees 25 minutes W

Anchored off a small motu near the island of Tahaa - small sister to the island of Raiatea

Co-Cap Bill

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Crew, Overnight Crossing and More of 'Starry, Starry night'

Our crew is now safely on board and has experienced their first night crossing. Min and Nick are both eager learners and Bill and I are just as keen to teach them 'the ropes' (as it were!!). We stayed a few days at our moorage in Tahiti (both Bill and I appreciated the lack of stress of being tied up to a reputable marina's mooring buoy (I pronounce it 'boo-ee'... other's say 'boy' - is there really a correct pronunciation or is it like tomatoes??? Hmmm something to ponder on those long ocean crossing night watches)... then zipped over to Moorea - a lovely island that has all the beauty of Tahiti and only a fraction of the tourists. We loved it there and while the kids worked on their scuba diving qualifications Bill and I snorkelled watching them far below us. On that little sojourn Bill and I saw a clam whose opening had to be t least 2 feet long!! (I'm sure light refraction had nothing to do with that!)... we spent a few days of hitchhiking aroud the island; hiking from Cook's Bay back to our anchorage in Baie de Opunohu - a wonderful anchorage by way; and Min and doing some shopping (to Bill's relief I now had another eager shopping partner which let him off the hook!!) since Min had to take a break from diving as she had suffered an inner ear 'squeeze' during her first dive... and then felt it was time to head out again.

We decided to expose our new crew to their first overnight crossing to the island of Huahine our next stop on this journey of discovery in the French Polynesian islands as this would be a great way to expose them to that part of cruising. To set us all up for success in this initial crossing for Min and Nick I handed out one dose of Sturgeron (a terrific seasickness pill) to them and me a good 2 hours before our ETD (Bill happens to have a tummy made out of iron - lucky him!!!). I then decided to start the dough for a couple of loaves of bread as we thought we had not picked up our regular bagette that day (it turned out we not only had picked up a bagette one of us had snuck 2 extras into the quarter berth provision corner... oh well better a plethora of bread than none at all! With bread dough rising nicely in the 80 degree Farenheit galley we set course to the island of Huahine. It is about 60 nautical miles from Tahiti and is perfect to sail through the night to arrive in the morning so that the pass that we wanted to sail through the reef that surrounds Huahine would be very obvious (despite paper charts, electronic charts, navigation cans etc. one must always include excellent visual conditions for entering many of these passes... one can never be too cautious).

Now remember that dough that was rising in the galley? Well, once we were heading out from the lee of Moorea we realized just how big the seas and winds really would be that night (3 metre average swells with 25-30 knots of wind) - I made the wrong decision to go below and continue with the bread making... suffice to say that I did not have the opportunity to enjoy the results of my labour with the others... and Bill had to open a few cans of stew to go with it to keep the crew fed.

I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the starry, starry night during my watches by keeping my eyes glued on the Southern Cross (the constellation that has saved many a sailor from being lost in that huge ocean as a naviagation aid and that night saved me even more than my dose of Sturgeron!!!

Must go now and pick up some fresh produce from the market before they close... tomorrow we head off to the island of Raiteira - apprently considered the historical and cultural centre of all of the Polynesian Islands.

Talk with you soon!

Fair winds from

Co-Cap Cath