Kura skymning

‘kura skymning’ is an age old expression in Swedish. Literally meaning hunching the twilight, the allegorical meaning is more along the lines of gathering in front of the fireplace, as nightfall makes it difficult to do anything useful outdoors. This obviously goes back to the time before electrical lighting, when the dim light from the furnace or stove was what allowed our ancestors to gather in front of it, doing some little ‘handycraft style’ work. Often while telling tales, histories and legends or just chating or singing for that matter.

So why did I come to think of that now?

We are on the western part of Huahine since a few days, at the main village, Fare. The weather is squally and not too inviting to explore those shallow lagoon anchorages so we are spending most of out time onboard, with all those little projects that are a part of life aboard a boat. Our modern version of ‘kura skymning’.
We rented bikes two days ago for a ‘circumpedalation’of the island. At the northern end there’s a fair size salt water lake and a huge ‘Marae'(archeological spot with religious and cultural interest) Here we got stuck for quite a while, magnificent and very interesting and then of course, we got into conversation with some ‘Huahineans’. After this we had to abandon the plan to ride the bikes around the Iti, or smaller of Huahines islands, but little did we care, the Nui was quite enough. The road goes around the entire island so along sea level. Pretty much…but on a few places, it went uphill and then down again, and it’s steep too. Rather crappy rental bicycles without gear made it necessary to walk uphill on several occassions, with backpack, leading the bike, so we had a pretty good leg- and cardiac work-out before arriving at FAre just in time for….that’s right, the twilight. Kura skymning!

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Huahine – Part 2

First a closer position report, we’re anchored off Motu Murimahora(exotic name, right? esp. for fellow swedes) on the southeastern part of this beautiful island, in the leeward group of the Society Islands, French Polynesia.

My new friend, Kike, is taking me to the next level in fishing as in this part of the world. He is thouroughly enjoying all three branches, fishing with rod and line, with speargu/harpoon, and with nets, so who am I not to be sooo happy. Finally I am also to learn the tricks of the trade in finding octopus…one of my favourite dinners. They live in holes and little caves as we all know. We also might know that they change colours instantly, and apparently each and every part of their body independently and instantly, so not that easy to spot. Very interesting specimen, just to watch them move, again all eight tentacles completely indepent of the others, they possess a lot of a particular intelligence in their environment for sure, and it is with very mixed feelings I decide to kill one. That last part is not too difficult, once you’ve made them attach themselves to a spear, stick or even knife you poke into their home, you just swiftly grab it and cut off the head, never mind that all the eight other body parts are all over the place :-D (I am not yet ready to take on a BIG one, I confess)

Again the difficulty is to find them in the first place, since they feed on shellfish solely, spotting a little heap of empty shells on the seabed is a good hint…I will never forget this guy I met while snorkeling in Sea of Cortez, MX. HE had perfected the art, no doubt he made his living on ‘picking up’ octopus. He just swam along the rocky shore, at 2-3,5 mtr depth, a huge net sack over the shoulder and a long stick with a barb in one hand. I folloowed him a minute or so and he caught 3 or 4 while I was clueless at how he found them. It was like he dove about every 25 mtrs, and just poked that stick in one and upp it came and straight down the sack. Incredible! I can only hope he didn’t revisit the same place too often. :-/

Anyway, apart from above mentioned pleasures, this anchorage is so incredibly calm (as in flat water) despite an often strong current coming through, that it allows me to polish the topsides of NANNA while in the water. This being the only second spot making this possible I do take advantage and do a part of the hull early morning.

Hmm, some day our provisions will run short, so the choice will be to either hitch-hike to FAre, the main village, or go there with our boat. We’ll have to ponder a while on that one.

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A New Horizon

and a new favourite bay. Currently anchored inside the lagoon; eastern part of Huahine. Splendid, simply splendid. Within 24 hrs upon arrival we made friends with some local people who took me fishing with them, loaded us with fruit and some veggies fresh from their fields and it just goes on…island life the Tahitian way.

Huahine is less than half the size of Moorea, 85 nM NW of it, so not a huge land mass. Who needs land anyway? It’s all about the lagoon, the lagoon is what has supported this easy-going and hardworking people through a millennia or two, fishing, shelling, octopus and whatever. The lagoon here is wide and except for the well marked coralstudded parts, 3-4 mtrs deep above a very white sand bottom…the most beautiful -and the biggest- swimmingpool I ever seen.

I have to warn you right away, we are very likely to ‘get stuck’ yet another time…but then, why not? Looks like this year could become a strong El Nino event, not good, means tropical cyclones can occur even this far east, but as long as we go to the Marquesas (800-900 miles to windward from here) before mid-November it should be fine. There is an extra big Heiva (festival) there in December this year, so should be an excellent place to spend this coming wet season.

THe overnight passage from Moorea to here was great. 15-20 kts from E-NE making it a quite fast (for once) and enjoyable sail. In fact so enjoyable I never woke Isabelle up for her watch. I spent the entire 19 or so hours in the cockpit, dozing off in between. There was a 2,5 m swell from SW, thus against the waves which made it a bit bumpy, but NANNA is an incredibly dry boat at sea, we still have to figure out what it would take to get her decks flushed underway :-D

About all for now, back soon!

P.S. I checked the stats for this blog while in Moorea, with internet. Poitively surprised by the number of followers and regular visitors. Since the web here is too slow and pricy to be pratical for uploading photos etc. I find the fidelity of you -dear readers- impressing. After all, this blog is mostly like a diary to support my own memory from our wanderings… In due time, with good internet, I will upload photos to my Flickr account, hope you’ll enjoy the text version for the time being. Oh, and comments and questions are ALWAYS welcoom, there,s a link to oour e-mail in the right hand margin on wordpress if you prefer a private contact! D.S.

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Just another Day

Not the perfect weather pattern for heading westward from Moorea. There is at present a convergence(kinda front where the cold southern ocean air meets the tropical warm air mass) ahead of us since a few days, and it is stationary for the moment.
This means winds from N-NW and squally weather with frequent showers. Not so bad right here but more so in the Leeward Islands. Read this morning on Bob MacDavitt’s excellent blog (metBob@blogspot.com) where you can subscribe for a weekly newsletter providing the ‘big picture’ outlook for the coming week across the whole SoPac. He mentioned a friend in BoraBora who hasn’t seen the sun now for over a week. That’s the Southern Pacific Convergence Zone in a nutshell. Bora is around 100 nM west northwest of us.

This means we’ll bide our time yet again, looks like a Wednesday departure could be favorable. Even though it’s just 85 miles to Huahine, we’d like it to be a pleasant night at sea….

We had one squall last night, of short duration, providing approx. 5 liter water in our catching setup, and some gusts up towards the 30 kt mark. Just enough to wake us up, to close hatches and portholes – they are otherwise always open 24/7 since the temperature inside the boat oscillates between 25-31C- to then be closed again 15 minutes later and …..back to bed. Just another typical night.

Early this morning I bailed the dinghy, rainwater then used for laundry, and rowed ashore to pick up our fresh bread at the little store. It’ true that French Polynesia is quite expensive, in fact more so than France itself or Sweden for that matter, but that’s really no wonder. Take a look at a world map or G. earth and it becomes clear that there is no place on the planet as remote as here, including Antarctica and the Arctic. What? Did I hit my head or is Mr Alzheimer sneaking up on me?

I define remote in this case as far from major habitated cities and areas.

From here, a flight to France is over 24 hrs, and for Stockholm add a few more. It would be significantly faster from New Zealand for instance. Pretty much everything, except local fruit and fish and small amounts of locally bred pork is imported. Lots from France naturally, but also from NZ, Aus, China, and South America and the US too, mainly for fruits and veggies. Though the surface area of FrPol is as big as Western Europe, the land area is infinitely small in comparison, a few hundred atolls and then the ‘bigger’ islands of volcanic origin. On top of that the interior of the volcanic islands is mostly inaccessible do to the topography and dense vegetation. To support the 250′ inhabitants, import is absolutely necessary.

Fortunately, living on our home afloat, we do not spend much except for food, and that’s not likely going to ruin even the poorest.

Back to my morning bread run, it’s so nice that here,like in France,the bread is subsidized making the pleasure of not expensive, fresh bread available to everyone. On the beach while returning to my dinghy I met a local guy who was cooling off in the water an had a chat with him before rowing back to Nanna for breakfast. Small, simple pleasures…after coffee I climbed aloft to reeve the spinnaker halyard, it’s been out since I left for Sweden last year in order to protect it from the tropical sun. Since then, we’ve mostly sailed to windward so no need for it. Now I am dreaming of a leisurely nightly cruise under spinnaker to Huahine in a few days, we’ll see how it works out.

´Comme d’habitude’ (as usual) we’ll do a swimming/diving session before lunch and then another in the afternoon, also simple pleasures, making it so easy to feel gooood here!

All for now/Magnus

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Enjoying it IN the water @ Moorea again

Seems like I have to repeat myself, and once again say, time flies… I just scrolled back and realized it’s just over two months since the last post.

In between, nothing much of significance, just the quiet but good life afloat. We sailed back to Tahiti shortly after the last posting, but this time we stayed anchored off Marina Tahina on the NW side of the island. A very nice close hauled sail in 15-18 kts apparent all across the 15 nM between Tahiti and her little sister to the west. About a mile and a half from the pass, the wind died in less than 20 meters due to the 1500-2000m mountains ahead of us. Hence a little motorboat trip into the lagoon and the anchorage.

We do not care much for big crowded marinas, and were just going to stay a few days, to try and get a replacement for our inner head stay on NANNA. Yeah, right. Almost on the day one month later we enjoyed a reach and broad reach sail in a stiff breeze back to Moorea and Baie Opunohu, our favoured anchorage. Here, we have now enjoyed a couple weeks again with two sessions in the water each day. A couple miles of swimming, some snorkeling and skin diving and the appetite gets enhanced in a nice and natural way.

As a matter of fact, being on a boat in tropical waters without being able to dive in is torture, I know! Once while at Taina I had a little seemingly harmless piece of skin rubbed off, probably against our swim ladder, and overnight it became a red crater with pus. It’s a curse, antibiotics again, and firm orders from the doctor NOT to go in the water until fully healed. in Taina, it was hot, practically never any wind thru the anchorage, so it was particularly miserable not being able to cool off in the clear water.

On the other hand, we provisioned as much as we could at the huge Carrefour supermarket there, to keep our larder filled before heading out to the leeward islands of the Society Group( Iles sous le vent) . We also reconnected with some people we met in the Gambiers, and got to know some new folks too.

They inner stay? Well, just another of those stories. It was a 1/4″ stay which is between 6and 7 mm, so none of the local riggers had any mechanical fittings to make up a new one. We had a spare stay, never used onboard, but it turned out to be 9 cm too long, so same story there, no fittings available, not even swage fittings. So after a few calls back and forth I decided to buy a length of Dyneema line and to splice it and use for the time being. Also a good way of getting aquainted with this material, since I am considering replacing the whole gang with heat-stretched annealed Dyneema before we leave FrPol.

More on this later.

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Four weeks of pure joy

Time flies, it’s a month since my last post. We’ve been enjoying Moorea, sharing our time between Baie de Opunohu and Vaiare, the latter on the E coast of the island. On average we spend close to four hours a day in the water, one session in the morning and another in the a-noon. The two lagoon anchorages at Vaiare offers particularly nice snorkeling with colorful forests of coral, and a fabulous variety of fish. We’ve had some strong trade wind conditions lately(yeah, during cyclone season!) so quite a current in the lagoon always keeping the boat pointed in the same direction night and day. No need to spend much time directing solar panels!

Due to the current, a typical snorkel session starts with a swim to the reef, to windward and against the current about half a mile or so, and then we just drift back with the current while diving on an off to check whatever pops up on our way. The water is about 28C so the wetsuits not needed, it’s simply wonderful to be able to really ‘skin dive’. Not even cold after a couple of hours in- and under- water. I’ve started playing around with the ‘submarine camera’ a bit, but internet access is more scarce than ever. Hope to be able to upload some photos to Flickr soon enough.
In about a week it’s time for Isa to revisit her doctor again, and we will probably head over to Tahiti soon, and definitely before the end of March. I am in the process of getting quotes for our new standing rigging( all the wires, and other hardware holding the mast upright and straight, quite important stuff on a boat and pricy too, unfortunately). The plan is to replace it all before the official end of the hurricane season and then go exploring the Leeward Islands, Raiatea, Huahine and others. We’ll see how it works out.

Updates:

Chikungunya –
almost over, we both still have some pain in feet and hands, but definitely manageable.

Anti fouling:
the cupruous bottom paint that’s supposed to keep marine life from sticking to, and growing on, Nannas hull. A bit over three months since we relaunched after the haul-out, and nothing yet! Actually seems like we finally might have got a paint worth the name…. ‘ antifouling’…. To be followed

My free diving record:
Very pleased to be able to say that I daily descend to 20-25 ft (6-7 m) quite effortlessly, seems like my left ear finally got ‘unplugged’ of sorts. This brings me great pleasure, since I just love to be underwater, swimming upside down, playing around like a dolphin. The feeling of being relieved of the effects of gravity never stops thrilling me. Thanks to a strong heart and big lungs, I can hold my breath 2 minutes which is perfectly fine, albeit a wee bit shy of a dolphin ;)
The deepest spot I found so far was our anchor at 25ft or 7,5 mts to go deeper I would need to dive in the deepest parts of the lagoon, around 30-35 mrs, but I could do with longer fins to descend, the ones I have now, bought in a thrift store in Portugal, are just for swimming around a bit really. I checked the gear of some of our friends in the Gambiers who regularly descend to 30-40 mrs working on the pearl farms and those fins are 2-3 times longer than my toys! Will take a look at the store in Papeete which are specialized in this kind of gear and spear guns.

Fishing underwater:

Talking about spearguns, btw, quite a few people here go fishing ‘sous-marine’ at night(!) with a strong headlamp. Now this seems a bit spooky to me, what with those big sharkies and their impressive teeth?! Some do this at a professional level, and they tell me the fish are ‘asleep’ ( or perhaps just blinded by the light?) and thus easier to catch…. Others tell me that it’s due to this night fishing, that there’s less and less fish in the lagoon of Tahiti. Sounds plausible to me, and we can easily see that there are rarely a fish over 20-25cm on the lagoon side of the reef, just what I would call the limit for a Pansize fish. Go figure…
I believe PGEM, who are taking steps to protect the marine life, will have to completely protect larger parts of the lagoons in order to keep the diversity of species.

Sea turtles:

On another note, the last few weeks, the gendarmerie(police) have arrested a few people for poaching sea turtles. If found guilty, they’ll find themselves behind bars for about a year. This is a bit controversial, since sea turtles are a part of the traditional diet in Polynesia, and everyone I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with, have confirmed how tasty the meat is, and that it’s always been regarded as the most delicious ‘beef’ there is. It’s worth noting here that historically, meat has been very rare at a dinner party. They had pigs here, but they were considered property of the royals in the old days, much like the moose, and other big game, back in Sweden. So except for an occasional chicken, fish was the major source of animal protein on the islands.

M

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At anchor, snorkeling and diving

A week and a half in beautiful Opunohu Bay, Moorea, we are enjoying the best time since over a year. 2-4 hrs in the water each day, swimming around the reef and skin diving we’re getting back in shape quick and nice. The reef here was largely damaged by a cyclone some years ago, leaving lots of dead coral, but it is recuperating, much like us, and there is a great variety of fish. I haven’t yet done any spear gun fishing, since quite a few species carries ciguatera and I haven’t yet been able to obtain info on which species being safe to eat. I refuse to kill an animal, if I am not to eat it, so that’s it. There are zones in the lagoon here where all fishing is prohibited, a good initiative to maintain the biological diversity.

No problem, actually I have found that when I leave the speargun on board, I am in a different state of mind, together with the gun I also leave my ‘hunter and gatherer’ role, and just enjoy observing every little fish, and their feeding behavior instead of looking for something to catch for dinner. Instead we buy fresh tuna, wahoo, and other pelagic species, caught outside by the local professional fishermen, so no problem with our nutrition.

Unlike the Gambiers, where every session in the water meant encounters with sharks, here we’ve just spotted one black tip reef shark(harmless to man) so for the first time since Mexico and the Sea of Cortez, we do not need the dinghy to go to a spot for diving, we swim from our boat, making every session a couple of miles of swimming! Great work- out after the long spell with chikungunya and Isabelle’s surgery and all.

A few days ago I made a new personal record in free diving, at approx. 6 mtrs. Not a whopping depth as such, but for many years, I’ve had problems equalizing my left ear, thus rendering it impossible to descend deeper than a mere 2,5-3 mtrs, so for me this marks a tremendous step forward, and I intend to do a few attempts each day now to further improve on it. Isa easily descends to about 10 mtrs ( 33 ft) so that spurs me on…

Beginning of next week, we’ll head over to the E side of the island, where the ferry leaves for Tahiti. Isa needs to do a blood test before revisiting the clinic in Papeete, next Friday for a follow-up visit. Then we’ll go back here and continue as now, weather permitting.
We will also take the opportunity to replenish our ship’s stores, at the only ‘large’ supermarket on the island, close to the ferry station, before returning here. Moorea has a population of about 15 000, so very smallish compared to Tahiti, and many of the inhabitants work in Papeete, so they do their shopping there too, no doubt.

Over and out.
M

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Out exploring the Islands again, at long last

The Chikungunya; by far the worst bout of illness I’ve experienced in my life.

After over eight weeks of being all but disabled from this nasty virus, it felt like time for an appointment with a GP doctor, though we had already been told there’s no adequate remedy known…the doctor I met with was of a different opinion. When I started describing my symptoms, she chimed in with one superb description after another, in fact describing them far better than my limited French allows me to.
She said after so many weeks without significant amelioration, a treatment was needed indeed. Anti inflammatory pills, together with another drug to protect my stomach from those (!) and then vitamine B1andB6 in generous amounts during 3 weeks….fortunately it did the job, little by little, day by day the symptoms diminished. I am still on these medications for almost another week, but we’ve sailed the boat over to Moorea, Tahitis little sister, a few days ago. Anchored in a beautiful postcard-like lagoon anchorage some 150 mtrs from the heavy breakers on the reef, we fully enjoy life again, snorkeling, hiking, and doing those odd boat projects. During our 8-9 weeks in Arue, we didn’t do anything at all in fact, just surviving of sorts, so it feels intensely gooood to be out here.

The cyclone season is not over, so a daily check on the synoptic charts to see if a ‘bad one’ is brewing somewhere NW of here is a must. A few weeks ago we had a close encounter with TS Niko, who popped up with 48 hrs notice and initially seemed bound for Tahiti. Small depression, 985mb but packing 50-60 kt winds in the centre, he passed 80-100 miles E of us, causing heavy rain and 5-6 m waves across some of the Tuamotus before fading out a few days later around 23 South. Though Meteo France had him as a tropical depression ‘forte’, Nadi, the Fiji met office classified him as a cat. 1 cyclone. Apparently the met people can have different views on things too, though I believe the local Fr were correct this time. How we fared in all this? Forecasted 35-40 kts gusting to 55 we prepared as well as we could, but Niko changed his path slightly and the very day he passed, was in fact the best one weatherwise in weeks at the NW part of Tahiti. Blue skies, hardly any wind and less humid than normal this time of the year. Note that we were in the ‘navigable semi-circle’ the W side in the southern hemisphere, at the same distance on Nikos E flank, a totally different story!

Several of the major met offices, notably Australia and NZ, have recently downgraded this years El Niño to a ‘weak to neutral’ event. Hope they’re right on that!

For weather, in the South Pacific there are some peculiarities to get to know once you’ve set off on a crossing towards French Polynesia. The Trade winds, always seemingly agreeable 10 kt average from SE, seems like sweet, leisurely sailing. The key word here is average. The everlasting flow deep in the southern ocean, of
Lows and Highs creates a pattern for the trades, in short you will most likely encounter winds both from north and even west for 2-3 days followed by about a week of SE, E and occasionally NE winds. Then there are the squalls… We had hundreds, too many to count, usually for a few days, followed by a few days with that pretty ‘trade wind sky’ all of us love. We never had more than 30-35 kts in a squall, but met several others who encountered 40-45 at times.

The most peculiar phenomenon, in this the greatest ocean on the planet is no doubt the SPCZ; South Pacific Convergence Zone. Simply put, this is where the cold air mass from Deep South, meets the warm humid air from the equatorial zone. Also, simply put, it means really shitty weather! To be avoided if possible. The SPCZ, starts in the western Pacific, and stretches in an arch Eastwards and Southwards. During the southern summer it reaches it’s extreme easterly position and affects FrPolynesia for a week or so, sometimes longer, at a time. Lots of rain, potent squalls, and perhaps most importantly for cruiser underway – winds from the NW quarter. Just 50 Miles to the East, it can be blue skies and Nicke SE winds.

The best source for info on all this that I have found, is the
Kiwi met ‘guru’ Bob MacDavitt, and his weekly weathergram, (subscribe to it via e-mail) gives you the big picture on the weather patterns from W Australia to FrPol
If still in print, his booklet on SP weather is superb.

Fair winds and following winds to all!

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Starter & Chikungunya Part II – revised plans agaiin

Today we are Dec 12, I am back onboard, alone, after following Isabelle to the hospital where she’s having a surgery while I write this. More on that later, now an update on the starter… It took a couple of days, before I regained my strenght enough to even have a look at it. As I stated in the previous post, it was a pleasure to just be in a protected anchorage again, and in fact we didn’t even go ashore in a few days. The culprit turned out to be a failing pushbutton/breaker in the ignition circuit. My attempt to jump the starter failed no doubt due to the very limited access I had with an ordinary screwdriver. While testing and troubleshooting I find that a very short, chubby little srewdriver does the job perfectly. This little tool will hereafter be kept at hand while we are uunderway. The startbutton got replaced in due time and so the problem solved. As for the Chikungunya, it’s still a pain in the rear…so to speak. After almost 4 weeks, I have so much pain in my neck, shoulders and worst of all- my hands- as to render me quite useless onboard. Isa got the same little virus a week and a half after me, but after the first few days with high fever, she seems to do better than me. No remedy, except painkillers, and vitamine C according to the pharmacist I asked today. For vit. C well, we do eat a healthy amount of fresh fruit to cover our needs, but I bought some pills anyway, though knowing only too well that any amount more than the body absorbs, just passes thru and exits with the urine, so nothing but a waste of money and resources. BTW, the pharmacist told me she had the same symptoms also after 4 weeks, and some folks are not well again after 3 months! I certainly hope I will not belong to that category, but only time will tell.

Anyway, this has lead us to change plans again, the Marquesas will be there for next year, we will spend the hurricane season – during the now confirmed El Nino event – between Tahiti and her little sister, Moorea. Keeping a close attention to the weather forecasts, IF or when a cyclone seems to possibly move this way, we’ll scoot down to Port Phaeton again, the by far best ‘hole’ in FrPol, and hunker down, either inside the little marina or on multiple anchors in the bay. I might also inestigate the possibility of making a hurricane mooring for us and splash it there, we’ll see.

First Isa has to recover from her surgery, hopefully no longer than a fortnight from now, and then we can start moving about, exploring the lagoons and do some much missed diving and fishing again. Better to have it done with at any rate, otherwise it was planned for late March or April the coming year.
In the meantime I am weighing different options as to how and where to by new standing rigging for NANNA, to replace the whole gang using mechanical end fittings (Norseman,StaLok, Hi-Mod or similar) more on this too later.

A Merry Christmas to All!

Magnus

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A Close Haircut and Chikungunya

We saw it fit to do a little trial sail after all the work done during the haul-out and decided to combine it with going to Arue (just E of Papeete)at the N tip of the island to get together with friends and also to do some shopping for ‘boat-bits’ in Papeete before leaving for the Marquesas, so heaved anchor Monday morning and powered out of the Bay against a 6-7 kt contrary wind the first few miles. Set the Main underway and then the genoa once we turned to Starboard to exit the pass. This is the first time Isabelle sees this part of the lagoon, since she had already arrived here by air when I first made landfall last May. Everything appeared just fine with the drive train and with the clean new antifoul we made good speed on a reach W to double the ‘Pointe Maraa’ which makes the westernmost extremity of the island. Smooth, enjoyable sailing, but I had got another concern… I just didn’t feel OK, pain in every muscle after the little ‘work-out’ of cleaning the mud off 60 mtrs of chain is not normal. Slowly I felt I was getting more and more feverish and soon reluctantly realized I had Chikungunya rapidly taking control of my body. Fast and furious tropical fever. Great timing right?

Anyway we kept on planning to go inside the lagoon again some 12 miles south of Papeete to spend the night at anchor off Marina Tahina, where I wanted to buy some pickle for the watermaker. We should be able to make it there just before nightfall, but Eolius had other plans,

Just a couple miles from the pass, the wind suddenly died out. Completely. OK, no worries, fire up the engine and on we go. It did not crank though. Nothing. Not even the little ‘click’ from the solenoid. By now I knew I had high fever, sweating quite profusely, brain no longer functioning normallly. Anyway, when needed we can push our limits, so off the companionway hatch to get at the front end of the engine where the cables are connected to the starter. Connections all looking good, wiggled them and tried again but same discouraging result. I then bypassed the main suspect, the ignition switch but still no success. There is very limited access spacewise around the starter so very difficult to jump the solenoid in place with a screwdriver, but finally managed to do so with my by now quite fumbling hands, but to no avail.

Gave up on that. We’ll wait a while, some little breeze should pick up. A closer look at the chart showed our position 1,5 miles off the reef and GPS suggested a slow (as 0,3-0,5kt) drift toward the reef. Not the best situation to find ourselves in with about 45 minutes of useful daylight left. By now I was shivering and sweating in turns, and was clearly already on ‘reserve power’ and since Isabelle, unlike me, has the terrible experience of losing a boat on a reef, I could see how she was getting seriously scared. Surprisingly little other traffic on the water, not even the local fishing boats. One sailboat less than a mile off motoring south though. Isa put out a call on the VHF for them but no answer. Guess they didn’t have the radio powered up. After a little while I checked our position again, and we were indeed slowly drifting the wrong way. I saw the beginning of terror in the face of Isa, and even my admittedly dimmed mind realized that we were not in a very good position. I knew that I was simply to week physically by now to launch our dinghy -lashed down properly on foredeck- get the outboard on it and then tow us away a couple miles. Normally a simple task, but fever and pain had reduced me to a very week and tired OLD man, so in order to install some plan of action (though still hoping for some zephyrs to allow us to gain sea room under sail in time) I asked Isa to put out a Pan-Pan to inform MRCC of our predicament. So she did. They got back right away, and wondered if we required a tow.

Knowing that would cost a small (?) fortune, we told them to stand-by for half an hour to see if we would be able to get out of trouble by ourselves. They sent out a helicopter (for practice mostly as the told us) that came just a few minutes later, took a couple of circles around us and then scooted back to base..By the next time MRCC called us on 16 some ripples came up on the water and thanks to NANNAs maneuverability in very light airs, and very gentle handling of sheets and the wheel I made the boat steer a WNW course at 0,5-1 kt and so asked them to wait a while longer before sending out a tug or whatever kind of vessel they had in mind. Ripples hanged on and for 20 minutes or so we made 3kts + COG and soon had increased our margin to disaster with a bit over a mile.

From now on and all thru the night, MRCC called us every 2 hrs, for a position and we handsteered in zephyrs and calms all night. Boatspeed 0-1 kt in pretty much every direction of the compass, though we tried heading north as much as possible since we were now determined to keep on going to Arue. Incidentally our friend we wanted to see there is a mechanic and the pass is wide and entrance under sail straight-forward in most wind directions.

This night and the following day I passed in a feverish trance, interspersed with sleep, mostly lying on my back in the cockpit, since I couldn’t sit up, steering with a couple of my toes on a wheel spoke while keeping an eye on the stars for direction. When Isa took her watches I must have been more or less unconscious, at least I do not remember anything except that the 2-hrs invervals between the call-ups often to me seemed to be only 10 minutes apart.

The following day was calm, with clear skies and awfully hot for my fever-ridden body. At 14.00 we found ourselves some 5 miles west of Papeete when very suddenly a fresh NE breeze sprung up and we could make a tack 35 degrees in 14-18 kts apparent followed by another tack that took us right into Arue where Richard, our friend the mechanic, met up in his dingy to make sure we got safely anchored.

Just after that was done I checked my temperature. 39,9 C. Don’t remember I ever was more pleased to be at anchor and needless to say I enjoyed elongating myself in the v-berth!

This above took place Tuesday afternoon, I am writing these lines Friday and the fever was gone yesterday already. It has left me with bad pain in all joints though and a great fatigue.

Later on today I’ll have a look at the starter issue, still suspecting an electrical problem. If I can’t find the culprit, during the weekend Richard can have a look at it. By the way, thru another friend here we just found out that there is a shop in Papeete where they can rewind (or is it rewire?) electrical motors. Like someone said once ‘ You can find just about anything in Papeete, but the problem is to know where!’ Anyway we’ve got a spare starter, and spare brushes too, so that should not normally be needed. Back on this later…

Cheers, Magnusday morning and powered out of the Bay

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