Fighting microbes?

What about them?
Er, yes I did forget that part. Staphylocochs are abundant in Polynesia, both on shore and in the water. All those little cuts one gets on the coral, or on whatever are potentially lethal. I’ve had a number over these last few months, and they never caused me much trouble. If one started to look slightly infected the day after I got it, I cleaned it with Betadine or similar and they have healed nicely and never kept me from being as much as I’d like in the water.

This time was different. A miniscule little dot on top of my right foot after walking on the fringing reef for a few hours at night, in search of octopus seemed totally harmless. The morning after my foot was like a red ball and felt like it could explode just about anytime. The Betadine cleaning didn’ do it this time. It was obvious that it needed to be drained and that I had to get a antibiotics treatment, so off I went to the ‘dispensaire’. The french young nurse did the above mentioned and informed me that it’s the same all over FrPol. She works a few months on one island and then moves to another so she ought to know.

The bummer is that I can’t go in the water until it’s properly heeled. As I am writng, I am on my 2nd day of the treatment and it’s already a lot better. A friend of ours on another boat had the same thing happen some weeks ago, though he waited longer before going to the little clinic and was ‘banned’ from diving during 4 weeks. I hope it won’t take me more than a week from now.

By the way, the locals are not immune to this. Of the 5 people in line when I arrived to the ‘dispensaire’ 4 had bandages on legs or arms. Same stuff!

We already know there’s a snake in every Paradise, but here now we’ve got two. Staphs and ciguatera. So far the ciguatera (they call it ‘la Grate’ here, meaning ‘the itch’) We’re very prudent of not eating any fish that our local friends aren;\’t eating and touch wood, no symptoms. Some of the other crusiers have been ill though, but after taking their chances with other species.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Diving with sharks – and fighting microbes

We’ve really enjoyed it the last few weeks. ‘Island Life; the Real Deal part II’ if you like. Spending time on the motus, with these wonderful polynesians who have choosed to live a simpler and more ‘pure’ polynesian life away from the main settlement on Mangareva. Fishing, hunting, collecting shellfish and other ‘fruits de Mer’. We were both quite afraid of sharks when we arrived here. I had never even seen a shark in real life before, and neither had Isabelle, despite she worked 2 years as a snorkeling guide in the Caribbean some years ago.

Here, you’ll meet them on your first dive/spearfishing experience. I had my baptism of fire while Isa was in France. Toghether with a local friend who see them almost daily, as he’s ‘collecting his dinner. Mostly the reef sharks, Black- and whitetips, but grays are abundant too, and we’ve encountered a few lemon sharks and others, as dark forms rising from the deep. The short comment is, that you’ll get used to them very quick. Spearfishing; we learnt to always tow a plastic crate. Once you pulled the trigger, the sharks pops up out of nowhere, making it very important to get your catch out of the water and into that crate VERY fast. This is a lot easier than it sounds, giving that seeing them closing in really gets your adrenaline pumping.

With another friend, on another island we’ve done some trolling from his boat. We’ve caught ‘carangue’(fr) a member of the tuna family. I enjyed that very much, since at least I had the -rather thin- hull of the boat between me and the sharks. This too, turned out to be adrenaline fishing, since once you’ve got a bite, playing the fish like I’m used to is a no-no. Again, the sharks are hungry, so you pull that line and carangue out of the water as if you’re goal is to pull the lure out of his mouth, or his head of the body, before the shark takes the whole fish off! Needless to add, once in a while you’ll find yourself NOT fast ENOUGH (yes. the local guys are RELAAY fast, they’ve practised a few years) and it happens once in a while that you’re pulling the shark up to the boat. I had one incident when a 2,5 m Gray Shark was about half a meter from my face, mouth wide-open (that probably goes for me too)before he somehow let go and dissapeared in the depth. This is not sportfishing,
we fish for ‘bread’ but it’s done at night and for me that really makes it good sport! This is when the carangue, as well as those gray guys hunt, after sunset and a couple hours on.

What I really love with the locals here, once we all have enough for our dinner, we quit. No point in killing unless eating your catch!

I also did some diving for ‘sept doights’(FR: seven fingers) a big (conch size)shell fish that is quite easy to spot on sandy bottoms, but thety are at 6-7 m depths so makes ‘sport’ too. I’ve always had trouble equalizing when deeper than 4-5 meters, but motivation did the trick. THey are considered delicacious here. Quite a job to clean, cutting all kinds of ‘small parts’ off, then ‘washing them’ in a handful of sand before eating some parts raw and saving the rest to be cooked for dinner. All this after crashing the heavy shells with a rock or a hammer.

Tomorrow we’ll kill a pig with yeat another island friend, and then cook it in a Polynesian oven (in the ground)

We’re good here!

Next hurricane season is still very distant :-D

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Diving with sharks – and fighting microbes

We’ve really enjoyed it the last few weeks. ‘Island Life; the Real Deal part II’ if you like. Spending time on the motus, with these wonderful polynesians who have choosed to live a simpler and more ‘pure’ polynesian life away from the main settlement on Mangareva. Fishing, hunting, collecting shellfish and other ‘fruits de Mer’. We were both quite afraid of sharks when we arrived here. I had never even seen a shark in real life before, and neither had Isabelle, despite she worked 2 years as a snorkeling guide in the Caribbean some years ago.

Here, you’ll meet them on your first dive/spearfishing experience. I had my baptism of fire while Isa was in France. Toghether with a local friend who see them almost daily, as he’s ‘collecting his dinner. Mostly the reef sharks, Black- and whitetips, but grays are abundant too, and we’ve encountered a few lemon sharks and others, as dark forms rising from the deep. The short comment is, that you’ll get used to them very quick. Spearfishing; we learnt to always tow a plastic crate. Once you pulled the trigger, the sharks pops up out of nowhere, making it very important to get your catch out of the water and into that crate VERY fast. This is a lot easier than it sounds, giving that seeing them closing in really gets your adrenaline pumping.

With another friend, on another island we’ve done some trolling from his boat. We’ve caught ‘carangue’(fr) a member of the tuna family. I enjyed that very much, since at least I had the -rather thin- hull of the boat between me and the sharks. This too, turned out to be adrenaline fishing, since once you’ve got a bite, playing the fish like I’m used to is a no-no. Again, the sharks are hungry, so you pull that line and carangue out of the water as if you’re goal is to pull the lure out of his mouth, or his head of the body, before the shark takes the whole fish off! Needless to add, once in a while you’ll find yourself NOT fast ENOUGH (yes. the local guys are RELAAY fast, they’ve practised a few years) and it happens once in a while that you’re pulling the shark up to the boat. I had one incident when a 2,5 m Gray Shark was about half a meter from my face, mouth wide-open (that probably goes for me too)before he somehow let go and dissapeared in the depth. This is not sportfishing,
we fish for ‘bread’ but it’s done at night and for me that really makes it good sport! This is when the carangue, as well as those gray guys hunt, after sunset and a couple hours on.

What I really love with the locals here, once we all have enough for our dinner, we quit. No point in killing unless eating your catch!

I also did some diving for ‘sept doights’(FR: seven fingers) a big (conch size)shell fish that is quite easy to spot on sandy bottoms, but thety are at 6-7 m depths so makes ‘sport’ too. I’ve always had trouble equalizing when deeper than 4-5 meters, but motivation did the trick. THey are considered delicacious here. Quite a job to clean, cutting all kinds of ‘small parts’ off, then ‘washing them’ in a handful of sand before eating some parts raw and saving the rest to be cooked for dinner. All this after crashing the heavy shells with a rock or a hammer.

Tomorrow we’ll kill a pig with yeat another island friend, and then cook it in a Polynesian oven (in the ground)

We’re good here!

Next hurricane season is still very distant :-D

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Reunited

As I am writing, Isabelle has been back onboard for 2 weeks. The first week, we stayed in Rikitea, the village, for her to ‘land’ mentally, jetlagged and all. We also needed to udate one and the other on everything that has happened during these 3 months with solely short e-mail contact.
We’re now out on the motus again, enjoying the warm water and the marine life. Still considering our options for the next hurricane season. MArshall Islands, Kiribati, Line Islands are the main alternatives right now…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Navigation and Chart software onboard

I like paper charts. Back in Swedish waters (and Finnish) with it’s 40000 odd islands, islets, rocks, and shoals, navigation demands that you keep your plastic covered large scale charts in your lap (my first laptop ;-D) index finger on your current position and the tiller in the other hand, while your crew does the sailtrim in the ever shifting winds. At least this is how I learnt it some 35 y ago. Today, most people rely on a GPS connected to a chart plotter at the helm. I bought my first GPS around 2002. 2005 I got my first electronic charts on an old IBM ThinkPad pc with Windows 95 and the russian ‘Transas Tsunami’ software. My friend the retired pilot, who spent his entire life at sea, guiding the commercial traffic into Stockholm at work and then sailing the same waters, and as far as the Shetland Islands, on vacations and later, after retirement, told me at this time that ‘like it or not, you won’t be able to by papercharts in a few years!’ Though, those few years are not yet
fully passed, the charts are getting harder to find and the price is skyrocketing.

I never liked, and will never like Windows. In fact I find it awkward, barely working and prone to all kinds of crashes,failures and then the constant threat of virus and trojans. It should be mentioned that I’ve been on Macintosh computers since -91 in my business, and would never even consider getting a Win PC except for one thing. At the time, a few years before Mac OS X and the possibility to run Win applications on a Mac the only alternative was a Win PC for charts and Airmail (a software that works with HF radio)Since then I’ve gone thru 3 used IBM ThinkPads (quite sturdily built pcs) and an Acer (that I gave my Dad before leaving Sweden 2008)Since a year back, I use an HP Pavilion dm1 as a navigatiion computer (for other purposes still using a 7 y o MAcBookPro 17” with MacOS Tiger- vintage stuff!)
About a week ago, thanks to Adrian on ‘Attila’ I came across a software package called Naviatrix (check it out at naviatrix.net) that is a Linux distro (OS in non-Linux environments)set up by a sailor for sailors. After a few days of using it I deleted Windows from the Pavilion and am convinced that I will never again run a Windows computer! A relief beyond belief. After tweaking the settings and preferences a bit it’s by far the fastest, most simple, and most comprehensive package I’ve seen. Add to this that it boots from a USB stick (perfect back-up too) with about 4GB (!) content. Once installed and set up for use, it’s still less than 20 GB on my hard drive, leaving LOTS of space for music, photos or whatever… Linux is free, open source and virus are virtually unheard of. Simply great! New to LInux? No worries, there are ‘LInux for dummies’ type literature -also for free- on internet (unless one of the neighbouring boats have a Linux aficionado onboard who can get you started.
Add to that internet forums where you can ask questions and get answers and it should work for anyone.

The chartware itself is ‘OpenCPN’ an open source software available also for Win and MacOSX.5 and later. It works with lots of different charts, including CMap ver2, raster charts, Kap-file charts etcetera.

An added bonus is that it’s fully legal, which the pirated commercial software packs abundant on cruising boats are not.

Check it out! It’s a mindblowing experience, and good luck with it.

Why not a chart plotter on Nanna? I find them expensive, the charts are all proprietary and also expensive and I dislike cluttering the cockpit with instruments. (Also those instruments are quite inviting to people with too long fingers)

We navigate close quarters with one person at the chart table and one at the helm so no need for a screen in the cockpit. When I’ve been singlehanding lately, with ‘bommies’ abundant, I’ve simply made a route in a handheld GPS that I keep at the helm. Works just fine for me.

Edit: Another nice feature, and an extremely useful navigation tool in some places(notably FrPol and any coastal, ppoorely charted area) is Google Earth sat. images, as .kap files runs seemless in Open CPN. Gotta love it!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

To all family and friends on land and on the water from Isabelle and me. I think we cover all 5 continents and all 5 oceans by now in terms of friends.

Universal friendship and peace is something to wish for during the coming year 2014. Six years since Isabelle and I met and almost 8 since I started cruising, and well, over 30 (!) years for Isabelle.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Island Life – The Real Deal

It took a while, about 7 months to be exact, but now I am spending my time out on the motus for a week or more at a time, only heading back to Rikitea for provisions and the odd internet session, but those are getting shorter. Life is not at all fair, considering the Gloom Voyage my poor Isabelle is at as I speak, but all I can do is providing some moral support via e-mail, and in fact she’s feeling better now that I am really enjoying myself. Moving out of Rikitea , the main settlement in the Gambiers,just 5 miles, an hours test run for the engine and drive train (all good!) and I found myself in another world alltogether. I can’t but label it the REAL Polynesia. Just a few families have chosen to live out here, for various reasons, but among those some who simply made the decision to live with as little contact with the outer world as possible, living Polynesian style as in times passed. I have been lucky to befriend people who make a modest (in material standard) but SO rich livin
g here fishing (a science of it’s own given that very few species are safe to eat) gardening and the occasional hunt. Hunt? Yes, the first european explorers commonly left some pigs, goats and even cattle behind to be able to get fresh provisions next time they arrived, and there are a healthy amount still today. (As for those early explorers, they also, albeit unintentionally, left rats and diseases behind but that’s another story)

Thus I am enjoying spearfishing, with the experts, helping them in their gardens and the other day I proudly strolled onto the lawn of one friend’s house with a still warm, but gutted goat in my hand. BBQ for lunch at the beach, enjoying a view that back home would be priced maybe a million Euros worth…

I am invited for Christmas, with BBQ pig of course, so the first solitary X-mas of my life will not be this year. No sad state of mind on that!

It’s a bummer that the tax (AKA ‘Papeetisation’ of the boat is over 20 % of the value) otherwise it would be SO tempting to jsut stay indefinetely here, I can’t for the life of me imagine a better place to be!

“a la prochaine”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Good News! – and some more bad ones…

I can’t believe how fast time pass….well the engine is back in order, won’t wear you down with details but all is in place and good to go.

The bad news? Isabelle flew back to France a week ago since not only her Dad, but also her only brother are very ill. She has a return ticket reserved for mid/Jan but it can be re-booked earlier. This is a major blow obviously and we are literally on the opposite side of the planet here.

I might just hang out here until Isa is back, now I can move around and explore the motus (reef islets) for a change. I have also made some friends here and actually love this place. If I start to get some cabin fever I’ll do the 800 miles passage to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas and Isa can fly in there, to Hiva Oa instead. I haven’t single-handed since 2007 but it would be nice, there is nothing like solitude on the ocean (The Monastery of the Sea as Webb Chile named it) even though good company is even better… We’ll see about that, one day at a time. Monday I will go and apply for Residency here. Just bacause I can after spending more than 6 months in Rikitea, unfortunately for Isa, she left just 2 (!) days before her 6 months and upon her return the clock starts from 0.00 again. I am not completely updated on the residency but it will give some advantages in form of the health here, and also discount on the flights within Fr. Pol. And it is valid in all of Fr Polynesia of course.
More on this later. For the boat it’s 18 months though. To stay longer we would have to ‘Papeetiz’e’ the boat, a tax of 20+ procent.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bearings arrived

What a relief. Our non voluntary spell of stationary existance is close to an end. Today, the little parcel containing 2 needle bearings and inner races for our transmission arrived ‘La Poste’ here in Rikitea. The parcel was dropped off at the ‘Royal Mail’ office in Devon, UK August 14 and we are September 20 today.

A bit more than 5 weeks which makes our 6 week passage to hear from Colombia under sail appear a lot faster all of a sudden. Turned out that the bearings arrived with the supply ship, which makes the transport from Papeete to Rikitea a 3 week cruise of the southernmost of the Tuamotu group and perhaps the Australs too. I have just verified that they are the right dimension, and will normally have them installed and the engine up and running in a few days. Just gotta have a puller, that another cruiser here has, and they are currently spending a few days at the outer islands in the Gambiers. As for the swageless fitting fot the repari of our backstay; so far no news. 3 weeks since they e-mailed that they would give me a quote for the shipment from Raiatea(Society group) to here. At least we should be able to start exploring the motus and other islands of this group soon, under power then.

Back later regarding this issue. We might celebrate with a glass of our diminished supply of Ecuadorian Aguardiente tonight!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

French Polynesia compared to Europe

The area of Fr Polynesia is about as large as Europe. I might have mentioned that previously, but a day or two ago, when we visited the local office for Air Tahiti here in Rikitea it dawned on us in a more bright light. On the office wall, they had this big map, showing all the routes between Tahiti and an impressive number of the outer Islands. Fr Pol consists of 5 different archipelagos or groups of islands. The Societies (Tahiti, Moorea, Raiatea and BoraBora among others)The Tuamotus (aka the dangerous archipelago due to the fact they are all low atolls) the Australs (southwest of here, Rapa, Raivavae and others)the Gambiers of course and last but not least the Marquesas,(Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva etc).

On this large wall map, under the arrows and great circles showing the aereal routes, a map of Europe was visible in a darker blue colour. Papeete, the capital of Tahiti was naturally placed on Paris. The Australs were then spread arch-like from Portugal via Marocco and Algiers with Rapa a bit further east. Gambiers was on top of nothern Turkey and the NW -most island in the Marquesas right on top of Vasteras, a town 150 km west of Stockholm, Sweden.

I picture says more than 1000 words, and this picture gave a very tangible idea of the vast part of the Southern Pacific we are in.

We went to this office to ask if by any chance a parcel to NANNA had arrived with the latest flight from Papeete. It hadn’t. A glimpse of hope later at the Post Office. We were informed that with the next supply ship (which makes a 2-week cruise to some of the Tuamotus before arriving here) has at least one parcel onboard (checked on the computer!) that is mailed from another European country than France. It could then be from the UK and destined for us.

The TAPORO VII will arrive here next Tuesday. Our fingers crossed. More on that later, in the meantime we are experiencing another of the ‘enhanced tradewind’ phenomena that regularly pass by due to a MIGHTY High Pressure (1037 mbar) moving by westward at 38 South. 20-25 knots with squalls and gusts to 35 knots. The Highs are different in this part of the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment