Monday, May 26, 2008

The boat was hauled out last Wed. We have been living on the hard in our treehouse at Technimarine in Papeete, Tahiti. The boatyard is a real working yard, with huge fishing vessels being fixed here. We have been allowed to live on the boat which is a real bonus, it means we do not have to find other accomdation. Everything is very expensive here so it would have been very costly to find somewhere else to stay.
The yard is located just inside the reef at the main entrance to Papeete harbour, we can watch all the large ferries and ocean going vessels enter and leave port. Cat's-Paw IV is by the fence on the edge of the boatyard and there is a paved road and then a ditch for runoff and then a cement seawall that is 20 feet high. The road is fairly isolated from downtown and seems to be quite a hangout. In the morning and evening there are all sorts of joggers on the road, some seem to be making some sort of loop and we see some them a couple of times in a evening, Barry is very jealous. Then there are the young people who show up in their cars after sundown. They stop and drink and visit and turn their car stereos up to full volume, so we are never short of music for our listening pleasure! Next the even younger guys show up on their motorcycles and scooters. As I said the road is isolated so they use it as a drag strip, Barry enjoyed watching them doing wheelies the other day. Added to this, the boatyard is in the flight path for the airport, huge airliners pass over on their final landing pattern. The first night on the hard I was awoken by one of these behemoths and the noise was so loud and I was so startled I thought we had hit the rocks again.
Which leads to our repairs. Last week we spent contacting the insurance people and getting a surveyor and an estimate done on the repair bill. They have started the repairs this morning and if the weather continues to be good they should be finished by the end of the week. They will not work on it if it rains. The fellow at the yard thinks he should be able to do it for $5,000 USD and he and the surveyor think it is all just surface damage, nothing structural so we are very relieved. The worst part is the damage to the keel because water was getting in there so it is good that it has been drying out since last Wed.
It is a 30 minute walk to downtown so if we go to town we walk one way and take a taxis back. Barry`s hip seems to be getting worse and he is limping badly when we get to town. The taxi ride is $17 so we don't want to take one both ways. We keep running into fellow cruisers downtown and are able to communicate with them on VHF so we don't feel too isolated here. We took Brian and Cathy from Tarun out to dinner the other night to thank them for shadowing us from the Marquesas and had a wonderful time. The other day while we were visiting with friends I had to kick myself to believe we are in Tahiti, it seems unreal and it is a long way from Yellowknife: We have been busy on board doing odd jobs, re-painting our chain, varnishing, cleaning the deck and the lines, etc, etc: We did get our ham radio back but the fellow here was unable to repair it, DAMN, we will have to think about what we want to do to have it fixed.
I am using the computer in the office as there is no internet access on the boat so I am unable to load pictures; hopefully I will be able to soon.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hi Everyone, This is a little late, Ann had someone email it to me but they got the address wrong so I just found it tonight when I checked my mail.
Ann and Barry are safely in Papeete on Tahiti now and have probably already gotten their boat hulled out today. I imagine when Ann gets a chance she will update us and add a few photos.

May 14, 2008
We are in Manihi, an atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago at 14 27 S and 146 02 W. We arrived safely on Monday morning and since then we have had just an absolutely wonderful time. I really feel like we have hit the South Seas now, there are palm trees growing on the coral and the sun shines and the sea is a gorgeous tropical blue colour. An atoll is a circle of coral, which has motus or islets within the circle, on some islets there are palm trees and the connection to the next islet may just be coral which may or may not break the surface. The atoll we are in is over 35 km long and 11km wide. There is a pass through the coral which you have to navigate to get into the atoll. These passes have a constant outflow of water. Water can enter the atoll at low tide over the coral so it flows out of the lowest spot, which is the pass. The pass to get in here was 75 m long and 40 m wide, we got as low as 3 feet below the keel when we entered. One Canadian boat touched bottom twice coming in. At the end of the pass there were standing waves of about 2 feet and we were quite worried about having to cross them but it was no problem. One of the boats left the other day and they were going over 9 knots when they left. Barry says this is supposed to be one of the easier passes to negotiate.
Once inside the atoll you have to stay to the inside edge of the atoll to avoid the shallow spots, you can spot them when the sun shines because they look quite white. There is pearl farming in the atoll so there are nets hung off of bouys all over the place so you need to stay away from them. There is a well defined path for boats in this atoll.
Now to the fun stuff, there is a wonderful family here which has made our stay an exceptional one. He is the village baker, there are about 800 people living on this atoll, and when we arrived he pulled up in his boat and asked if we wanted fresh baguettes!! Then he asked if we would like a tour of his pearl farm in the afternoon. We were a bit astonished at the price he asked, $25, but were told that it was worth while so off we went. The tour was unbelievable; he took us out to his nets and explained how the oysters start to grow. He showed us the oysters at each stage from very tiny to 6 inches in width. Then he stopped at one of the shallow coral spots and tied his boat up to a piece of coral and chiseled off a clam for us and showed us how to take out the bad parts and we all had a taste. We proceeded to his dock and the buildings where he processes the pearls. The oysters get pried open and a part of another oyster is cut up into miniscule pieces and this as well as small ball of abalone shell (which is manufactured elsewhere in the world) is inserted into the oyster. It was a very delicate operation and his wife performed the operation with precision tools much like a dentist would use only longer. You have to very careful not to pierce parts of the oyster or separate the muscle from the shell or the oyster will die. He said that he has over 60,000 oysters in various stages of growth and it takes a year and a half to get a mature oyster and then 6 month more to grow a pearl. He uses all parts of the oyster, he sell the shell to Korea and they use it to make mother of pearl buttons and jewelry, the actual oyster he sell for food and of course the pearls. It was a very educational talk which was conducted all in French. Fortunately one of the Canadians with us had grown up in Montreal and could interpret. I could understand quite a bit but when he got to the technical parts I was lost. At one point he said something about a gross femme and I could not understand why he would sell oysters to a big lady and I said so, but it was a gross ferme which means a large farm, we had a good laugh about that!
At the end of the talk he gave us each a coconut to drink and we sat and got to know the other boaters, there were 8 of us. Then the coup de grace, he gave us each an oyster and we got to see if there was a pearl in it or not. He said that if we got one, that was fine and if we didn’t that was tough. The guy was such a softie, that if you didn’t get one in your first oyster he kept opening them until you found one. Barry and I both got white pearl in our oysters and then for some reason he gave us another and there was a black pearl in it. So we had three pearls, I figured earring with the white ones and a single black pearl necklace. That was the best $25 I have ever spent.
The next morning he showed up at the boat again to deliver more bread and he asked us to sign his cruiser book and he had two small black pearls that he wanted us to have, what a guy! Then he invited three couples in the anchorage to his house for dinner. When we got to his house he gave us a tour of the bakery, he has been baking bread for 23 years and now his son has taken over the business and he looks after the pearl farm. He makes 400 baguettes a day. He has plans to open another bakery on a different atoll. At his pearl farm he is talking about opening a small snack and juice bar for the cruisers. He is also the Mormon minister in town. He has homes in Papette and on another atoll, he is quite the business man, but is one of the nicest people you could know. His wife cooked a wonderful meal for us, with clams and oysters, soaked in coconut milk. There was also chicken and New Zealand beef on the table as well as French fries and potatoes cooked in heavy cream and fresh vegetables. It was an unbelievable meal and when we offered to help pay for the meal he would not here of it. His son and daughter in law live with him and they had two small children.
We have one day left here in this paradise and then we are headed to Papeete. It is 270nm to Tahiti we are hoping to arrive on Sunday and have Monday to scope out the place and figure out what will happen when the boat gets hauled. Our friends Cathy and Brian from Tarun, another Bluewater Cruising boat from Victoria will come with us to Tahiti as well to make sure we make it okay. They are true buddies. It would have been nice to be able to visit other atolls but we really do need to figure out what is going on with the damage. I will upload pictures when we get to Papeete.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This is yesterdays position. When I talked with Ann today (to wish her a Happy Mother's Day) She said they had about one more day before they reached the Atoll's. I have had a look at some of the pictures of where they are headed and it looks amazing. For someone interested in diving and snorkeling like myself it looks like a bit of heaven. I hope they have some time to explore before moving on to Tahiti.
The Cat's Paw IV is sailing very well at the moment. They were making 6 knots even with a reef or two in the main and have even had to slow to 5 knots and pull the foresail to allow the companion boat to catch up. The boat that is accompanying them is a 36 footer and over many hours, slowly almost imperceptibly she falls behind when the Cat's Paw has a good wind in its sails. This is fine for the crew as they are forced to sail even more conservatively than planned which means less stress on the damaged rudder.
I asked Ann if she noticed a difference between having 2 crew instead of 3. Of course she said YES. She finds the hardest part is to be disciplined enough to go to sleep once her shift is over and not having someone else to talk to during those long days at sea. Helmsman Bob, you are being missed.
Well Mom I hope you catch up on some sleep when you are finally at anchor but if those pictures I looked at are anything like the real thing, good luck, paradise awaits.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ann and Barry are under sail again and heading to the Rangiroa Atoll for a stop over before moving on to Tahiti. This current stretch of the journey should take approx. 5 days. When Ann called they were making
6 knots and had lots of wind. I am sure they had their sails reefed to prevent stress on the rudder. The boat that is accompanying them was trailing by about 2 miles and they are staying in contact via VHF.
So far it has been smooth sailing.
The most recent marker should read May 8th.
The sailors did get a chance at their last anchorage to recheck the damage to the keel and rudder. They reported that there was no change to the cracks, which was a good sign.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ann on a hill in Nuka Hiva Grounding in Fatu Hiva

This is a sailor’s worst nightmare. We were sleeping and were woken up with a mighty bang. We had no idea what was going on, just that something was terribly wrong. We had anchored at the island of Fatu Hiva, an absolutely gorgeous spot. The anchorage is fairly deep so we had gone close to shore and anchored in 35 feet of water, we had over 200 feet of chain out. We made sure we gave a really good pull on the anchor and we figured we were set. The first night there were not problems even though there were big gusts, we were set very well. Everyone was anchored rather close together and the night before the boat behind us had been touched by the fellow beside him. We went to talk to him about it and he said he thought we were too close and asked us to re-anchor. We quite liked where we were so instead of re-anchoring we pulled up 25 feet of chain, still a very acceptable ratio of chain to depth. Well I guess we should have re-anchored because that night we dragged.
Barry went up on deck to see what was going on and came down to inform me we were on the rocks. Oh my gosh, holy crap, what a horrible feeling. At that point I was on the floor, not sure if I had been thrown off the bed there, but I got up and found my glasses and raced upstairs. Barry was worried about the anchor and what it was doing, all I wanted to do was to start the engine and get away from the rocks. We could see the rocks sticking up right beside the boat, VERY UGLY. We got the motor started and as we were sideways and facing the shore I told Barry to try and back off. We went backwards and the swell caught us and mashed us down on the rocks again. When I looked again we were now backing towards the rocks, so I yelled for Barry to go forwards. We managed to motor right off, Barry had to get the anchor up, thankfully it was still there, and we had not lost it, only dragged. We motored around the area for about an hour. We had figured out that we did not want to re-anchor in the dark and after we had checked out the steering to make sure everything was working and figured out that we were not taking on any water, we decided to sail away to another anchorage about 6 hours away. We had been at that the anchorage we were headed for twice, knew the holding was good as well as the visibility, so we could dive the bottom and look at the damage.
We had no problems sailing to the other anchorage and the next morning we checked out the bottom. The keel has a chunk bit out of it, the fiberglass is ground up but it doesn’t look major. The skeg which holds the rudder is in worse shape. It has a crack in it ¾ of the way up and also the bronze boot which the skeg sits in has a crack all the way around it. This good cause the rudder to fall off and we would have no steering at all.
Yesterday we called a boat yard in Tahiti and we able to get a haul out date of May 20, 2 weeks from today. That will give us time to sail the 800 nm to get there and perhaps even stop at one of the atolls in the Tuamotos. Barry has decreed that we are going to sail very conservatively, not put any stress on the steering, reefing the sails so we never have any weather helm. Another Canadian boat, Tarun, friends from Vancouver Island have agreed to sail with us to Tahiti, so we will have help if something goes wrong. Our spirits are a little low at the moment but we could have lost the boat and been on our way home by now so there always is a bright side. We are at Nuka Hiva at the moment and will head to the north side today to the safest, calmest anchorage in the Marquesas to look at the bottom again and try and regain some semblance of balance and calm. We hope to leave for the Tuamotos is a couple of days, it will take us about 5 days to get there. We will keep in touch by sat phone. Barry slurping coconut milk that he had hacked open when we walked up to the waterfall.
Well if you have been keeping up with the blog then you know that Ann and Barry have had a little misadventure. On the morning of May 1 they woke up to the sound of the boat on the rocks, apparently the anchor had let go some time in the night. They have assessed the damage and the hull of the boat is fine but there is some damage to the rudder and keel. It was hard to understand the exact extent of the damage but their is a crack some where near the boot for the rudder, how serious it is they are unsure. And the keel has a 12 inch scratch/ gouge in the fiberglass. They were unable to get any repairs done on the island where the incident happened and because the hull was undamaged they decided to sail to Nuku Hiva. Nuku Hiva seems to be the other major island in the Marquesas and it has internet access and more amenities than the other islands in the region. (I am just going on what I have observed on Google Earth so if I am wrong please correct me so I can edit the blog) The plan when I talked with Ann last was to get a hold of boat yards in Tahiti to arrange a lift out date for the boat to get the repairs done. Ann and Barry have met a few Canadian boats in Nuku Hiva and one of them has agreed to accompany Cat's Paw IV on its sail to Tahiti as a back up in case an emergency should arise. Nice to hear the mariner spirit is alive and well and I will be glad to know that Ann and Barry will have company to lend a hand on the week long journey to Tahiti.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hello to all, Trish here again.
I called Ann and Barry the other day and they just happened to have a new position to pass along. As you can see they are at a new island. Fatu Hiva. I will add some info below from google earth about Fatu Hiva and if you are interested you can read on.

When I asked Ann if she is still enjoying the region her response was....
"It is absolutely spectacular here"
So I will take that as a yes. Some of the pictures I saw on google earth of the island were amazing, very lush with awesome rock features.

Ann says they have been doing some exploring. The other day they did a long walk and came across a 200ft waterfall, and I am sure went for a swim if Mom had a say. On the way back they were starting to get hungry so Barry, getting into the hunter/gather mode, chased down a wild coconut on foot and they feasted on its fresh milk and meat. (Not bad for a guy with a bum hip.)
That was about all I got from the brief conversation. Sounds like all is well and they are happily cruising along. We will keep updating the blog now and they until Ann can get a good internet connection.
Fatu Hiva
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elevation 0 m–1,125 m
Land area 85 km²
Population¹(Aug. 2007 census) 587
Density 6.9/km² (2007 census)

Fatu Hiva (the "h" is not pronounced, see name section below) is the southernmost of the Marquesas Islands, in French Polynesia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. With Motu Nao as its closest neighbor, it is also the most isolated of the inhabited islands.
Fatu Hiva is also the title of a book by explorer and archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl, in which he describes his stay on the island in the 1930s.
[edit] Name
The correct name of the island in Marquesan is Fatu Iva (without "h"), however the name was incorrectly recorded as Fatu Hiva, probably under the influence of other Marquesan islands containing the element Hiva (Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa, two island names where the element Hiva, with "aspirated h", is different from the element Iva in Fatu Iva) and also because in French the letter "h" is always silent (not pronounced). The spelling Fatu Hiva has now become official. In English however, contrary to French, this creates a problem as the letter "h" is almost always pronounced in initial position. In order to obtain a correct pronunciation of the name, English speakers should not pronounce the "h" of Fatu Hiva (IPA: /fatu iva/).

The island was named Isla Magdalena ("Magdalene Island") by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, a name rarely ever used.

[edit] Geography

Rainforest on Fatu-Hiva
The eastern coastline of Fatu Hiva is characterized by a number of narrow valleys, carved by streams that lead to the interior. Between these valleys are headlands which terminate in cliffs that plunge directly into the sea, making travel between them possible only by travelling over the high mountain ridges between them, or by boat. The largest of these valleys is at Uia.
The western coastline has two significant bays, Hana Vave (also known as Bay of Virgins or Baie des Vierges) in the north, one of the most picturesque sites in the South Pacific, and the well protected harbor of Omoa near the south. There are several smaller valleys between these two.
The center of the island is a plateau which is covered largely by tall grasses and pandanus trees. To the south of the plateau, running to the south, is a mountain ridge, called Tauauoho, its highest peak, at 1,125 m (3,691 ft.) is the highest point on Fatu Hiva. Proceeding to the north and northwest from the plateau is a mountain ridge called Fa‘e One, the highest peak of which is 820 m (2,690 ft.).

[edit] Administration
Administratively Fatu Hiva forms the commune (municipality) of Fatu-Hiva, part of the administrative subdivision of the Marquesas Islands. This commune consists solely of the island of Fatu Hiva itself.
The administrative centre of the commune is the settlement of Omoa, on the southwestern side of the island.

[edit] Demographics
The 2007 population of Fatu Hiva was 587. The people live primarily in three villages:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ann and Barry continue to sail through the Marqueses. Last night their anchor did not hold and they awoke to the boat hitting the bottom. There is some minor damage to the keel and to the skeg in front of the rudder. The examination of the boat has determined that the hull has not been compromised and is perfectly safe to sail. They returned to Hiva Oa and have found out Tahiti is where they need to go to get the boat repaired. As a result they have elected to head for Tahiti now rather than later. They will determine if there are other boats intending on leaving soon and perhaps join another cruiser for the journey which should take 8 days. They hope to stop to spend some time at some of the islands along the way. We will keep you updated as we know more.