Thursday, September 18, 2014

Surviving and Thriving in Maupihaa

Tossing shells with Dad
After saying goodbye to our friends on SV Moana Roa, we headed out the Maupiti pass and on to Maupihaa to meet up with our friends on Remi De, Dafne, Elena, Rockstar, and Outsider.  On the way, I would turn one year older – a birthday at sea.  Before we left Bora Bora, Mark had surprised me with a day at one of the fancy resort spas for some birthday pampering.  Not a bad place to be for a birthday!

In the first evening of our sail, we noticed whales breeching off the port stern.  It was amazing and unsettling at the same time.  Would they come too close to us and breech at an inopportune time?  Visions of a whale slung over our deck quickened my heart rate and sent me turning the autopilot a few clicks more to starboard, just to be on the safe side.  I watched, relieved, as the spouts of spray confirmed that the whale was going further and further away from us.

Good winds allowed us to sail most of the way, even getting us to the narrow pass of Maupihaa by 8 a.m. the next morning, faster than we’d anticipated.  We’d heard from a friend, who’d already sailed through the pass, to get in as early in the day as possible, because the strong outgoing current picked up in the afternoon to 6 knots.  Since we got there early, we only had to push through 3-4 knots of current to get in.  It was a tight squeeze, hugged by shallow coral reef along each side that created a space barely as wide as a one-lane road.  I was very happy not to be at the helm, but rather up by the mast, spotting bombies (shallow coral heads).  Later, on shore, we’d hear of one catamaran that misjudged the reef.  He had left with the sun in his eyes and had to be pulled off by a local’s fishing boat.  Luckily, no major damage was done and everyone was fine, but I’m glad that wasn’t us!

Dinghy full of friends coming to hang out on the beach!
Guys out foraging for food
The kids were immediately swept up into the flurry of beach play, and I enjoyed reconnecting with my girlfriends from the other boats, too.  The men reverted to their hunter/gatherer instincts, going out daily to hunt lobster and coconut crab, trolling for wahoo, spear fishing in the pass, or digging in the reef for escargot.  Hio, the 20-something hunk whose family lived here, was amazing at finding food.  He knew this place – where to go hunting and when.  All the men were thrilled to learn from such an expert in the ways of island foraging, and followed along any chance they could.

Learning to grate coconut
I marveled at the warm welcome and positivity from the sweet family who live on this tiny atoll.  Mark and I often have conversations about how to be deliberate with this special time we have with our kids – deliberate about who we are as a family and the impression we want to leave with others.  This family quickly became an inspiration to us.  The joy and generosity that they convey to each and every cruiser is a true testament to the legacy the parents have passed on to their children.

During our stay in this paradise, we learned all about island life and survival, but we also learned how to thrive and love deeply.

The ladies hanging out with Hio :)
Coconut crab hanging around waiting to be dinner

Cooking those coconut crabs!
Learning how to make cowrie shell necklaces

 While we were in Maupihaa, Elizabeth celebrated her 9th birthday with a beach cupcake party.  Our new friends made her a gorgeous shell necklace and she got lots of hugs!  Her friends all brought specially made gifts, and they had a great afternoon enjoying the island.

Homemade cards are the best!!

Kids in their natural environment

Helping Michael after a fun boogie board ride!   

Opening a special pearl bracelet from Dad - priceless...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Middle of Nowhere

Author: Mark
Date: August 23, 10:00pm MST
Location: 19 59.346 S - 167 46.000 W
Conditions: Anchored

It's six o'clock somewhere! Actually it's six o'clock here, in the middle of nowhere, anchored behind a submerged reef, with a beer in had as I type this. We sailed 868 nautical miles in just over six days. Not fast, but given the conditions, not terrible. A lot of boats averaged 3-4 kts a day with less wind, so we did pretty good considering the weather window.

There is only one other boat here, a buddy 'kid' boat called Moxie. It's almost surreal to be anchored here in the middle of the ocean, with calm conditions, turquoise blue water, no land in sight - and a 3m swell outside. This will probably be the most remote, unique anchorage we'll ever go to during our travels. It's amazing. Especially after being at sea for almost a week, to drop the hook, and still feel like we are in the wide open ocean, but...anchored.

OK, more later. We wanted to let everyone know all is going well, we are safely anchored, and excited about diving and snorkeling over the next week! Stay tuned!

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frontal System Arrived

Author: Mark
Date: August 22, 9.00pm MST
Location: 20 11.893 S - 165 18.436 W
Conditions: 18-22kts SW, 6.3kts SOG, confused seas, All is well

We are still in route to Beveridge Reef. We expect to be there tomorrow. All is going well aboard Field Trip. It will have been over 800NM crossing the 'Dangerous Middle' - with no major issues. We are currently getting a little clobbered with wind, but that was expected. We wanted to arrive early today, but the winds were lighter than anticipated so we were sailing slower. Now the wind has certainly picked up, with the sea state being real messy.

The biggest issue we had was today. We had to hove to for about six hours. Our Jefa autopilot motor gave us more problems. ARG. The Furuno has been rock solid, but the Jefa unit not so much. For the second time on a long passage the four mounting bolts somehow backed themselves out, the motor spun around shearing off the clutch wires. There is definitely something amiss with the four bolts and small vibrations from the motor. I'll add loctite before our next long passage, and see if that helps. The issue is the bolts themselves have some form of grease on them, so I will have to clean the sockets and threads thoroughly before adding Loctite.

Everyone aboard is doing well. Today has been the roughest by far of the entire trip. But everyone has their sea legs so no issues with getting sick. Whew! :)

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