Wednesday, June 30, 2010

David Talks Fish w/ Darrell B.

Well how was the fishing? Hope you knocked them dead; I haven't caught a fish in so long I can't remember the last one. I hooked into a huge Mahi on my pole (wish it had been my heavy duty drag line) but he spooled me until I didn't have a choice but to tighten the drag until he snapped the line with about 10 wraps of line left on the spool. It was one of my favorite jigs also, so a real bummer all around. We have fixed the refer!! With the help of two other cruisers who supplied parts, tools and refrigerant, we were able to locate the leak and repair it. Then over the course of two days I was able to fill the system and get it back up and running!! So it's cold beer again for this Kid as well as a place to keep leftovers and fish (if I ever catch another one again). But I'm still interested in getting another unit to compliment the one we have. Maybe keeping the freezer going of our existing one and getting an Engle to use as a refer. It's still up in the air right now, but a decision needs to made ASAP as it will dictate were we head next. 
We are in the So. anchorage in the Fakarava Atoll and have been having 20-40 knt. winds for the last 3 days and getting sick of hunkering down hoping the anchor holds. It's a real bummer since this place is world known for its diving and we have spent about 30 minutes max. in the water to date. Maybe that will change today as it looks like the winds may lay down to 15-20 as per this morning's SSB net weather report. Storms like this come through this area about every 2 weeks, and we were unlucky enough to be here for this one. The anchorage is good and we are in the lee of the the atoll, so the swell is no problem, but the 40 knt. gusts feel like you are going to blow away!! The noise in the rigging is nerve racking and we are constantly monitoring the GPS anchor alarm in case we drag or something in the anchor system fails. I have my emergency anchor along with 300 ft. of 3/4 rode* posed** and ready at the bow so if we do break away, I can deploy the other quick enough to keep us off any coral heads behind us. Makes for exciting stuff!!! So let me know how the fishing was and tell the gang we say Hi. Still no internet access to send photos with, so just reading and some shots Kris has found on the net of places we have been. She really has worked on the blog for us and I'm not sure how we will ever be able to repay her. See ya,  David & Suzi
         * I think he means rope, but maybe this is a sailing term with which I am unfamiliar.
         ** poised? 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dad Tells Son about Tat . . .

. . . I know: usually it's the other way around. Casey just sent me this email that he received from David a few days ago. I find it amusing that David never says what the tat is: Suzi naked? Casey's birthdate? I guess we'll have to wait and see.  -Kris

Howdy Casey- You are not going to believe what I just did !! I got a
tattoo.... something I always thought was so stupid and I was so
against. Now I have one ??? But it took the perfect situation for me to
even consider it. We are on a small Motu that is part of the the atoll
called Tauo in the Tuamotos. This is the home to tattoos, and the guy
(Tava) who did it is a fifth generation of tattooers to hang on this
atoll which is owned by a family who Tava works with. I laid on a
comfy cot in a small palapa that looked out into the lagoon while Tava
performed on my ankle. Pretty casual place that made the whole
experience special way beyond the tattoo it self. Thought you would
like to hear about that, something new every day around here........
Love you,  Dad

Monday, June 28, 2010

Made it to S. Pass

We are securely anchored on the west side of the South Pass in Fakarava, tolerating 20-40 kt winds and rain squalls now and then. We left a beautiful little safe anchorage half way down yesterday morning as the winds began to howl and pounded our way to the south end to wait for the sunshine and blue skies which will arrive again tomorrow. Today will be a hunkered down inside Sidewinder all day, with many little cleaning and organizing projects to do. Savannah and Alexis are over on the east side doing the same and we will connect to explore the waters tomorrow. They say the diving is exquisite right off of the pass, and we look forward to a few days here with them before heading off to Tahiti. Changes in weather happen very quickly, and it has given us a new respect for weather information. Sherry on Soggy Paws does a fabulous job of staying tuned into the weather. They were really helpful yesterday directing us into their anchorage during high winds, and the bottom here is mostly sand with a few low coral heads scattered about. The motus in front of us are beautiful, with white sand beaches and swaying palm trees, another area to add to the adventure. For now, hope you are enjoying your day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

En Route to Passe Sud/Tumakohua Pass

After a major squall this morning,cleaning our bodies and giving us drinking water, we left the village for the mid-way protective point down the atoll. Southeast winds are supposed to kick in this evening, and we thought it was best to find a safe place to be with Freedom and Sea Fury. This is a beautiful spot wth a white sand beach and swaying palm trees, of course, along with a little house. The water is exquisite, and we will jump in as soon as this sailmail gets sent out. We did attempt internet again this morning from the land, but not happening. OH WELL!  We had a wonderful evening skimming in the dinghy across glassy water last night, with the full moon rising, and ate dinner at at little resort down the way with great food. Ah, the pleasures of traveling! We just made contact with Alexis and Savannah who are anchored at the South Pass, and they say the diving is incredible; tomorrow we will continue there and spend a bit of time enjoying all that we have. Life is good. 

Photos of South Pass taken from Google Earth:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back to Fakarava

Yesterday we motor-sailed from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. down to the north passage of Fakarava and had no problems coming in on a slack tide (couldn't have been timed more perfectly). We dropped anchored next to Alexis: S 16 degrees 3.5  W 145 37.   Had a wonderful dinner prepared by Bambi, whose past life included catering and taking people out on bare-boat charters, and Jodi and Mike joined us; it was so nice to re-connect with our friends. They leave for the South pass today where diving is supposed to be best, and we will try our to follow them in a few days after re-supplying and fixing the oil leak we incurred yesterday while motoring. There are supposed to be waves at the South Tumakohua Pass, along with more abundant sea-life and visibility. It would be fun to dive with them and enjoy more of their company before leaving for Tahiti. After a few rain squalls yesterday and early this morning, it is a beautiful morning here and I am looking forward to exploring town today and I might be able to find an internet connection; that would be soooo cool!  I will try to skype you anyway and at least send some pictures. Given past experiences, don't hold your breath! Bye. - Suzi

I got tired of no photos, so I downloaded from Google Earth a few of the spot where they are currently moored. Enjoy. -Kris

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Adventure!

It all started with the VHF radio squawking at 11:30 at night. The weather outside had deteriorated from bad to worse, and the wind through our rigging was a dull roar (over 45 knts.). The VHF call was a frantic call for help from one of the boats in the mooring field here at Anse Amyot on the northern tip of Toau Atoll in the Tuamotus of French Polynesia. The large cutter rigged sailboat had slipped his mooring and was on the reef bow first, and they needed all the help they could muster up to get her off. I threw on some clothes, and Suzi and I ventured out to drop the dingy in the water; the blast of water and wind that hit us as soon as we stepped out of the protection of our hard dodger was an example of what I was going to face for the next couple of hours. Just leaving the safety of Sidewinder took more will-power than I have displayed in a long time considering the sea state, but a fellow cruiser was in need. I yelled to Suzi "Here goes nothing!," picked up Dave from Soggy Paws, then headed over to help. 

As it turned out there were three other cruisers who had done the same thing I did, and with the help of Gaston who, along with his wife Valentine, run the land services here, we were finally able to pull that beast off the coral head it had lodge on, and finally back to the mooring ball it had been attached to. Gaston had come out in his panga that has a 100 hp. Yamaha on it, and without him and his boat there was no way we could have moved that 20 ton boat into the wind. He was the hero of the night, and I hope the owner of the boat that was saved makes it worth his effort. After some initial investigation we found that the line the skipper used to attach to the mooring had chafed through and with no back up line run (??) he was soon off to the races at the mercy of the wind and waves. But in the end, damage was minimal: no major structural problems and the worse thing to happen was some damage sustained to his Maxi Prop. and some deep scratches to his bottom. 

I was back inside the warm and comfy salon of Sidewinder by 2:00 am and was proud of how Suzi had started the engine in case we had problems and that she had already checked our attachment lines for chafe. I didn't like leaving Sidewinder, considering the weather, but she was in good hands. By this morning the wind and rain had subsided and the sun has come out with a day of snorkling ahead and the excitement of the night before a distant memory. Never dull around Sidewinder, sort of keeps you on your toes !!!!  Anyone for a round of golf???  -David

You can tell how yesterday ended and why we are not yet on our way to Fakarava. The weather today looks favorable, so we intend to leave very early in the morning, reuniting with Savannah and Alexis, who are anchored at the north end of the island. Love, Suzi

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rainy Day in Toau

It is gray and misty here, giving us a perfect day to work on getting the refrigeration charge going after replacing the hose which had a leak, collecting water while we sit here.  I have flashes of camping in the rain and being in a cozy big tent. Werner is here helping to recharge the system with his big bottle of refrigerant, and Dave just left after spending the morning using his pump to vacuum out the system. The sailing community never ceases to amaze me; there are so many wonderful people who jump at the chance to help others, and it is a great part of being on this journey. I had a really nice day yesterday, visiting with Kathy, Werner's wife from the Kiwi vessel Legend II; it was so nice to just talk woman to woman and we both really appreciated that opportunity, reflecting on how much we miss touching base with our female friends back home. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010


This late afternoon colorful sunset finds me reflecting on the incredible beauty of this atoll. We have definitely found a very special place on this planet and it will take a few days to fully embrace it all. Visually it is stunning from dawn to dusk. The clarity both in and out of the water seems unreal, along with the colors that abound. The water is many shades of aqua, the sky a deep blue, the island lined with palms of many shades of green along with a white sand beach that make you realize the screen-saver so many people have on their computer is a real place. 

We are at Anse Amyot, a slot in the reef which appears to be a pass but is actually a cul-de-sac blocked by a coral bank across the inner side, and we sit safely on a mooring. The couple, Valentine and Gaston, who own this motu, are so wonderfully friendly and love "yachties". We are having dinner with them tomorrow evening to help pay for our secure mooring and to show them our appreciation. We can dive from our boat in amazingly clear water; the colorful coral is awesome, and the wide variety of exotic fish abound. WOW! This is so special!!!!! We are enjoying evenings of playing music with some other cruisers and Valentine and Gaston both play wonderful local melodies that make my heart soar. The tropical breezes are perfect and we are trying to grasp it all. Wish we could send some pictures but know it is just like in the pictures and more.  Wish you were here.

For those of you following on GoogleEarth, I think S&D's coordinates are 15°48'9.73"S  146° 9'11.48"W, a pretty amazing spot. The photo at top is of that current moorage, if I am correct. 

Monday, June 14, 2010


This morning we are gliding through the incredibly blue water at about 3.5 knots on our way to either Kauehi or Toau with Legend II, new cruising friends, from New Zealand; they are very fun to adventure with. Yesterday afternoon, after anchoring in the most amazingly clear aqua water ever, Verner and Kathy picked up Robert, Kelita, David and I in their dinghy and we went into the village of Takaroa for a bit of exploring. It is a very poor village of pretty run-down little shacks, full of smiling locals reliant on pearl farming, which I believe doesn't bring them much. Life is definitely simple but the many children we encountered were full of energy and joy as they played futbol in the streets and rode bikes together. Plumeria trees are abundant with various colored fragrant flowers and cocoa palms sway in the breeze. The surrounding water is ladened with sea life but even the locals are very cautious about which fish they eat and how much, due to the coral reef disease of ciquatera, called la gratte in French, meaning the itch. It is better for cruisers to catch the mahi-mahi or yellowfin tuna on route between atolls, so that is what we are attempting to do. Unfortunately, Captain David just recently hooked a huge mahi and because his reel and line were too light, after a bit of a fight and having to stop him from taking all of the line, we lost him. Part of the problem was not being able to slow down while having the spinnaker flying, but the light weight tackle was also an issue; Captain Dave was definitely bummed! We are now using our drag line and hoping for the best. David and I both dropped into the pristine water to check the anchor and chain, before leaving, and were in awe of the clarity and color of fish and coral beneath Sidewinder. Off to our next Tuamotu adventure and the excitement of diving in these waters. Wish we had our underwater camera with us but look forward to the package waiting for us in Tahiti down the way. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010


We are sailing toward the village and anchorage on Takaroa, and the water is so so incredibly blue. We will sailmail you later after we check out our first atoll. This is so exciting. Love you.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

South Pacific Sailing

It's another shitty day in paradise on the deep azure Pacific Ocean, and sleep deprivation has set in finally. It seems to take a few days and then the little body knows it needs some quality sleep. We flew the spinnaker all day Thursday, that night, and Friday, and it was a wonderful flat, gentle ride. Last night the wind began to gust, so we doused the sail for safety sake. The seas are now more bumpy, and it feels a little like a mild version of our Galapagos-Marquesas passage; we'll fly the "panties" (an endearing term Richard gave to the chute), and we will gently glide to Takaroa where we will anchor tomorrow late morning outside the atoll just to stop, swim, and take a deep breath. There is a safe outside "waiting" anchorage, and many cruisers stop there on the way to other atolls. We will then head for Taou where there are moorings, great snorkling, and some other folks who want to hang and play music. It has been fun playing the guitar again with others, and David is getting way into playing great harp, especially having fun with the blues. Love to everyone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the Way to the Tuamotus

We have been sailing since 4 PM yesterday afternoon, and we have gentle light wind and waves pushing us to our destination slowly but surely. The weather is beautiful and our spinnaker is flying well, so we have no complaints. We still have just a little ice left from the huge block we got in Taihoe last Saturday, so we are fishing with hopes to find yellowfin tuna or mahi for dinner; that would be soo nice! We had two more glorious days in Daniel's Bay, just enjoying the peace and quiet after most all the boats left, and swimming with the mantas was so cool. Wish we had a lens that would capture the essence of the valley, but one just has to imagine a bit of true tropical paradise, with palm trees swaying in the gentle warm tradewind breezes, a few little open-air houses nestled in the green on green valley, colorful flowers everywhere, fruit trees ladened with papaya, grapefruit, starfruit, lemons, and oranges, horses feasting on lush grass, and dogs and cats everywhere, enjoying the good life. 

David wrote about the Monday luau to Casey and asked him to either send it to you or post it on the blog, so I do hope he followed through. David got way into helping Mai and Maria dehair the pigs, butcher them, dig the pit, build the fire, place the pigs in the pit with banana leaves, and finally drink cold beers with them after all the work was done. It was a wonderful party and all the cruisers brought side dishes and had a great evening. It reminded me of our many cookouts and, again, I thought of all our wonderful friends we are so fortunate to have. I know this weekend will be another gala affair, and I will try to sailmail the Obrands with a congratulation message for Jessie. 

We think we are heading for Manihi first but it will depend upon the wind; we would like to sail the whole way, and right now we are heading that way. Freedom and Savannah are stopping at a different island, and then we will all eventually head for Fakarava for surf and snorkeling. We are also going to Toau, where there are moorings and awesome diving. We have heard that internet is hard to find in the Tuamotus, so thank goodness for sailmail!!! 

Paula asked me to send her a wishlist from TJ's, and I know she is visiting California for a few weeks. I have her new email address in my gmail address book which I cannot access, so could you please send it to me? If not, I will send you the little list. All that I really need is TJ's 21 Seasoning and don't want to burden them with anything else. I sure hope that we can connect. The eclipse is happening there in Moorea on July 11, and the French Polynesian dance competition is in Bora Bora on the July 14; Paula certainly knew what she was doing when she made those reservations! 

Last Hike in the Marquesas

(Received Monday morning.) 
Had a great day today, hiking up the valley through a marvelous little village of mellow, very beautiful, friendly people who are surrounded by lush natural abundance; trees ladened with pomplamoose, limes, papayas, bananas, mangoes, and breadfruit line the road which turns into a well beaten path along the river. Bambi, Jeff, Robert, Kelita, Jodie, Mike, and I meandered our way through the rich land for about two and a half hours, crossing the stream and river three times, and ended by entering a mystical canyon of high cliffs and a silky stream leading to two beautiful pools, a very high waterfall and cave you can glide into. Several huge friendly freshwater eels live in the pools, and I was very happy not to see them until I got out. 

After returning to the boat, I went for a swim with the two resident Manta rays; what a special thrill that was! David spent the day on Sidewinder and was very productive rearranging stuff on the bow and was very happy to have had the time to stay behind on his own. One of the cruisers arranged to have a luau tomorrow, and we look forward to working with and enjoying some time with some of the locals; we will have the opportunity to feast, play some music, listen to some Marquesan songs, and maybe even dance. We are all hoping to leave for the Tuamotus on Tuesday, but still do not know which atoll we will go to first. Hope all is well with everyone. Sounds like the Obrand party will be a doozy! YAHOO. Bye

(Also received Monday morning in response to my questions about their next destination.) 
We have studied our wonderful Guide to Navigation in French Polynesia, looked at the many charts we have of all the Tuamotus for hours on our own and with others, talked to those who have been there, done that, and we do have a list of those which are supposed to be the best as far as entry, anchorages, snorkeling, surfing, staying, and enjoying.  We listen to the Tuamotus SSB net most mornings, which are all the boats we know who are already there and get thorough weather reports and detailed discussions. It depends upon how many we want to visit and how much time we want to stay. I think we will visit Manihi, Toau, perhaps Fakarava, and a maybe Rangiroa (but probably not). Even on Rangiroa internet access is very iffy. Oh well. Look forward to skyping you someday again.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Daniel's Bay

We sailed down to Daniel's Bay yesterday afternoon after spending about 2 hours trying to send the pictures, but no cigar. I guess the signal just isn't strong enough to send pictures. Oh well, I have to let go of these frustrations and look more closely at the awesomeness of this "dream come true" without much communication. I so miss the ability to talk to you anytime I want or need to, but it, too, must be part of the challenge I have taken on. So often I find myself trying to muster up the confidence to be good at whatever I am doing, and I keep on making mistakes just because I am not experienced at whatever it is I am doing. Someday it will all come together, I know. Even the language is foreign! Ah, and then there is the ongoing saga of needing organization skills which make life so much easier for everyone! YOW! It is a beautiful morning in this pretty little bay, and the manta rays are supposed to be here greeting us. I am sure we will be visited. I am hiking to the waterfall with Savannah, Freedom and Alexis and look forward to the natural interior island experience. Let's hope we can send out; the cliffs soar to the sky here and we may be too secluded. Love to you.

Note to all: I will be out of town Mon.-Thurs., so don't be alarmed if nothing is posted until after that. -K.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Heading for Daniel's Bay

We are leaving Taiohae Bay for our last venture in Hakatea Bay, known to cruisers as Daniel's Bay, where we will hang for a while, do the wonderful waterfall hike everyone raves about, join some other cruisers and locals in a pig roast (right up my alley!) and then we will begin the crossing to the Tuamotus. We haven't yet decided which atolls we are going to, so that will come next week when we know more. Let's hope I can send the pics along with this email. The pictures are from the crossing, reaching landfall, a glimpse of Fuka Hiva and friends, Hana Tahuamoenoa Bay on Tahuata, and Anaho Bay, Nuka Hiva.

I received this missive on the gmail account, which means they are at an internet cafe. So far no pictures; I will post them if/when they arrive. Fun: If you go onto Google Earth (free download) and search for Hakatea Bay, French Polynesia, you can see Daniel's Bay. To the southwest between the Marquesas and Tahiti lie the Tuamotus, where they are headed next.  - Kris

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fun with Friends

We did not have any luck with refrigeration yesterday, so I guess my appreciation for ice and keeping food for more than a few hours will continue to be enhanced. I certainly now really understand life without refrigeration and the hardships that come with it. We have been very fortunate to be around friends who have cold beers and a place to store fresh food. That will change on Tuesday when we take off for the next adventure. Had a great gathering on Alexis last night, reconnecting with Mike and Jody and Robert and Kelita. Bambi and Jeff served yummy sashimi from the yellow-fin tuna they caught two days ago, and we all enjoyed sharing more stories. It is special to be with friends, as you well know. I miss you mucho and send my deep love always. Love to everyone. I will send pics today if I can. Bye for now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Preparing to Leave the Marquesas

We had a bumpy motor sail from Anahoe Bay yesterday after one last snorkel with an eagle ray in the morning. We finally did set sail about half way and encountered hundreds of dolphins as we rounded the point; that was very special!!! They certainly know how to have great fun! Bought veggies for our passage this morning, fueled up, and found a wonderful French cruiser who might be able to help us fix our refrigeration system if he can find a machine shop here ( a very slight possibility). Freedom, Savannah, and Alexis are here and we hope to leave with them, stay in Daniel's Bay a few days, and then cross to the Tuamotus early next week. Wish I could send pictures; it is so frustrating not getting internet connection. EEECK! Never did I imagine it to be so difficult. Oh Well.  Love to all.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Highs and Lows

We have had no internet connection forever and I don't even know if we will be able to send this out but I am hopeful.  We left Taiohai Bay, the largest town in the Marquesas on the island of Nuku Hiva, last Saturday, after a few days of huge waves and continuous rocking, 30 minutes of internet access which allowed only reading our emails, not sending out, no solution to our refrigeration problems after hours of work, and a crazy adventurous evening with Bambi and Jeff, our South African friends from sv Alexis. We mostly motored our way around the island to an absolutely awesome scenic Anaho Bay where we have been recuperating and thank goodness we are here! We have gone from the lowest of the lows, thinking of selling Sidewinder and coming home, to snorkeling clear aqua blue water through exquisite coral gardens with incredible exotic fish, a huge manta ray, and a turtle. Yesterday we hiked over the Tevaitapuhiva Pass down into Haitheu Bay and the village of Haitheu and had a fabulous lunch with the other cruisers who are here in Anaho (about 12 of us). I hiked up the hill to some the powerful archeological sites of Hikokua, Kimuihei, and Tahakia where I found an ancient tiki, tohua (ceremonial grounds) and petroglyphs. There are several very old huge banyan trees where the spiritual rituals were held and the vibrations were strong; it was a very special exploration. Hiking back over the pass reminded me of many our hikes, and I spent quality time just reflecting on my magical life full of wonderful friends. We will spend one more day and venture back to Taiohai for the last of our provisioning, and then head off for the Tuamotus by way of Daniels Bay. Much Love to you.