Ok at present I usually don't know what day it is. Mondays are less of a problem. But years of work mean I still dislike them. Three things are eternal. Death, Taxes and Mondays. They follow the weekned, in my case, usually equiped with the pain and bruises acrewd sailing and the liver bruising hangover obtianed at Brighton Drinking Club, like the plague, exaserbating the long drag to towards the folowing weekend.
I doubt I'm alone in this, Mondays are universally reviled. Its impossible to get one over on Monday. Its permanent eternal, you can reason with it, it absolutly will not stop. It follows sunday like a hangover follows a good night out. You must pay for your weekend fun, The payment is Monday. There is no way to get to the comparative tranquility of Tuesday without going through Monday. Case closed, no way, imposilbe.
if you slip your moorings at Alofi, Nuie timzone GMT -11, bound for Nuku'lofa, Kingdom of Tonga timezone GMT -13. I think you can sea where this is going. The time in the 2 islands is the same -11 to +13 is 24 hours. Since Tonga is west of the International Date line and Nuie east and we're going east west accross it we set the clocks forward 24 hours. We got up yesterday morning set our clocks and skipped Monday completly.
I won, I beat monday. This week there was no monday. It didn't happen, I was never there. savour the sweet smell of my victory. Hope you all had a good day of wor on Monday the 28th of April. For me it didn't exist. Monday the 28th of April 2008 will for ever be my favourite Monday, it only happened to other people.
Nuie a trully exelent Island. Think the Chrisian Piety might be as a result of snubbing geologists. Now I'm not a geologist, but I belive that islands that stick out of the sea near plate bounderies should be volcanic. The rest of the islands in this ocean are. Their made of lava and stuff. Sharp and pointy. Igneious rock. Now sedementary rock is layed down as sea creatures die and sink in oceans. They're flat. What the hell is Nuie? its sides drop off like a cliff, making the echo sounder useless right by the shore. So if its a tinny volcanic style island why the hell is it flat and made of limestone? Maybe their is a god, and its his little joke. I'm sure the geologists have an explanation.
Nuie is a flat plateau of limestone sticking out of the ocean. Population 1500, last year it attracted 3000 tourists. 75 odd yachts. Its awesome. I love it. Techically its the first new county I've been to this trip. Due to the arival at the weekend however we didn't even get a passport stamp.
The islands lack of acidic soil and flat with underground drainage gives a new defination of lush. The water flows out to sea in caves or georges made collapsed caves like wot we leared in geography at skool. Swimming in these is wonderfull. Some have underground streams emerging in them, wich are compared to the sea water freezing. The cold fresh water floats on the surface, making wierd distorations when snorkeling. Its cold.
We swam in Limu pools, wierd limesone pools. We swam in the Royal Cave at Avaki, we swam in Matapa Chasm. The last one is a limestone george whos landward end is fed by an underground stream and whos seaward end is cloged by huge boulders. Nearly fresh is a favourite with Nuians out for a sunday swim in between church services. They go twice a day. Its also know as the Royal Bathing Pool. We wen't tombstoning. I.E. Jumping off the cliffs into the water. Was epic fun, not to menton scary. I videoed a nice kiwi called Eli its here
More photos availble in the Nuie Gallery
LINKS FOR RSS USERS:
http://www.oceanhippie.net/content.php?Cat=11&Res=777 - Video
http://www.oceanhippie.net/thumbs.php?gal=778 - Photo
Promising title for a blog post. I just thought it was funney.
Gin and beer suplies arrive
There is no icecream here, sorry. Its not Sundae or Sunday. But yesterday evening was pretty nice. I think my perfect Sunday or (Sundae) would probably involve sitting in the cockpit drinking on a south Pacific afternoon. We seem to be going through a gin-n-tonic phase at present. Would go very nicely with a sundae, gin-n-tonic would.
Christians hit an all time low and played himself at scrabble. We suspected he cheated and looked at his own letters.
Austrialians are all about winning, no sence of sportmanship. Though winning and loosing at sport (or scrabble) are important. Winning and loosing at the same time is asking for a padded cell in your future.
Rolling Ciggies on a boat is slighly tricky, I've managed to get hold of some filter tips, which is great too. The usuall method is to stick the filter (or "Mouse Tampon") in your mouth whilst aranging the tobaco. I keep bum sucking it when doining it in the dark, which leads to soggy papers and roll up failure. I have developed a new technique which avoids this problem. Instead of putting the filter in your mouth, use your left (or right if you must) nostril to hold onto it whilst preparing the rest of the rollup.
I know, I know I'm supposed to have given up again....
Road Legal in Rarotonga
Damn the cook Islands beurocracy , they've lost me licence records. I had to apply for a new driving licence. They noticed I had no motor bike entitelment, didn't last time. In fact the only place I've legally driven a bike is errrrr Rarotonga. Unfortunatly I've lost my Cook Islands driving licence. I had to take a bike test.
Now the Cook Islands have been forceing people to get a licence for the islands for at least 9 years, I've held a Cook Islands driving permit before. I havn't however driven a scooter since last time I was here in 1999, OK I'm exagerating, it was Thailand in 99 I last time I drove a scooter. ARRRRGHHHHH!
I got lost on the test, "Turn left at the Gas station" Gas station? I've seen bigger sheds! The test consited of driving once around the block, all left turns. My Scooter's left indicator didn't work. I remembered to stop at the stop sign, but over the line. Still passed. Mind you a 19 year old lass who took the test was stopped by the police motor cyclist "do your indicators work" he said, she "replied what are indicators" he pointed at the button. She still passed.
Te Police station is one of a handfull of three storey buidings on the Island. Its sheathed in marble. I think the $10 for a licence and $5 for a test might be very profitable. Hell I've had 2 licences and a test. Oh and now they sell Cook Island police merchandise. I've got a Cook Islands Police cap now!
Police Islands Scooter Patrol (no driving licence at this point)
I love the Cook Islands, I don't begrudge them the driving licence fee. Its the coolest thing I brought back from my last trip and, oh I've a full motor bike licence...... Passed me test and every thing.
Getting lost on the test was an achivement, bearing in mind Rarotonga has 2 bus routes (probalbly 2 busses), clockwise and anti-clockwise. This should give you an idea of the size of the place, and how hard it was to get lost.
For the tourists there's a sign with arrows for clockwise and anti-clockwise.
"Wet Feet" may not sound like a partilularly serious title for a blog post. Its all about context. Wet feet when stepping out fo the car, one driver having parked with the passeger door next to the only puddle in south east England is merely annoying. Wet feet, when the rest of the boat is asleep and your stting in the cabin (Ahem) watching Buffy the Vampire slayer (disk 14 of 37ish) on watch is not annoying its profoundly worrying when watter starts sloshing arround your feet.
Alan, showing a level of intelegence far behond mine, but which I will remember should this happen again, dipped his finger in it and went. "Its alright its fresh". Turned out to be the frsh water hose to the water filter in the Galley had come off and pumped a quarter of the large forward tank of water into the bilges.
Add this to the Autopilot failure this morning, the demise of the memory card on my camera, the fishing reel (gone again), the irratic gas supply (maybe 2 regulators in line wasn't such a good idea). You think maybe I've done something to annoy God lately? I'm sure I have, going arround declaiming their non existance is probably irritating to any deity. Its hardly a new habit of mine. My recent decision to simplify christianity, judeism and islam to one religeon may have irrititated him (or her), I suppose, but franky I doubt it. Haveing three sects all beliveing in he same God and doing their best to make life as misserable for each other as humanly* possible probably irritates him as much as it does me. That having been said, keep at it you abrahmic sects, till its to late for you to reailse that its not the other belivers that you wanna worry about. OK, it is the other belivers you want to worry about, they'll quite happily shoot, burn, beat or other wise murder you for beliving err pretty much the same as you but in a difernet time zone, but you religeon will carry on*. Its us Aithest you want to worry about. Remember its not anchient Rome any more your not fighting oppresion biggorty hatred opression and so on your most likly peddling them now. Its us Athiests who have the moral high ground, or think we do.
Yeah I know only I could take a minor, if worrying incident of wet feet and blame it on orgaised religeon. Its a blog, its not suposed to make sence.
* it could be "as godly possible" but frankly I doubt it.
** Secretly the'll be very happy about your myrterdom/oppression - its good publicity.
French polynesia has higher booze an fags tax than even the UK.
Last time me Borrje and Ros took up rollup smoking. Now even Al has. Unfortunatly the only papers you can get are ungummed. They're a bloomin nightmare.
Thats all. Wonder why you botherer reading my rants.
"The time has come to speak of many thing, of fishing reels and generator things"
Bits of boat keep going wrong at present. Some are minor. Chris's tea, minor, that was sat on the gimbaled stove (the stove is on hinges and can swing so it stays upright, even if the boat doesn't) on top of the frying pan. The Pan's handle caught under the edge of worktop creaing a miature catipult. Which was funny rather than fatal. The generator has been broken for a while, but I got some wirewound resitors of RS austrailier. Jobs a gooden we thought.
Well no. Problem soldering iron don't work. Alan's soldering iron is 240v and is more of a branding iron. Either it don't work or the inverter can't power it (inverters convert 12volts DC to 240volts AC). So the soldering job was perfomed by blow torching the bit of the soldering iron then quickly soldering the componant on. Miracle it worked! McGuiver as Al puts it, I'm more of an A-Team man my self.
Dunno what happened to the fishing reel. Took it to bits (fiddly as hell). Put it back to gether, then a huge fish ripped off all our line, Our new 50kilo line, it ripped off so fast the sides of the reel melted. Breaking the reel again.
The engine then wouldn't swich off. Itermittant fault. Fortunatly I know where to find the mechanical off. I do like it when things fix themselves.
The big breakage was the spinnaker pole u-j. Another one, with the car this time. This one was probalby some what over loaded. A poled out full genoa in a 40+ knot squall will do that.
Well every thing's back to gether bar the pole. That's in pieces.
I found some more bugs in my blog, and fixed them. I was trying to stop it showing a "next" link on the current month. I can't describe how much harder PHP coding is when: A: its difficult to see syntax errors due to the large cracks and black blotches on the screen. B: You have to rely on the ofline manuals for PHP and MySQL - neither of wich have a search function in flat HTML.
"I'm gonna take me bike, cos once again the canal's on strike"
Poor old Sam on Ramprasad, the Guy I did 2 of my previous Atlantic crossings with, and who I once had to fish out of the river Neva in St Petersburg has gotten to Colon for his Panama Canal transit, to find that due to a strike by the Pilots, he's sceduled for a tranist on June the 11th.
Don't scan bank notes in the Bank of England
This one scaned in Bank of Tonga
Sam seems to be making the best of it. He's going to San Blas. A place i have increadible memories of. Victor and his dog taking us around his island, having paddled up in his dugout canoe. Hopefully its as good now as it was 9 years ago. He's also planning a trip up the Chargress river. Wich We were thinking of as a waiting strategey. The Chargres was dammed to build Gatun lake that feed the canal. Its navigable for several miles into virgin rain forest. Wake up to the howler monkeys - you will they're not called howlers for nothing.
I was inicailly unhappy at missing Carnival in Trindad. Not now had I waited in the Caribean for it, I would want to be stuck in Colon for 2 months.
I can only assume therfore that due to the strike the ocean is empty of yachts behind us. Well bar the ARC World and Blue Water Rally.
Hopefully we'll get to the Cook Islands on Friday. Theoretically this Northery will go on friday morning. Apparently the harbour at Raratonga is not suitable fro northerlies.
Jackie, Al's girlfriend, who got off in Panama, is now flying out to Tonga, not Fiji, at the beginning of the month. Apparently the air port she's landing at is 10 miles from the Marina? Marina? What marina? I don't no nuffin bout no marina in Nuka'Lofa, Tongatapu (insert random apostropies in all Tongan spellings). So she knows where the marian is but we don't and we're the ones on a boat. Hope she's going to the same island we're going to......
Last time I was in Tonga the internet and the national bank were the same place. Banks need good coms. So it was a good internet cafe. We should put one in the Bank of England.
Just north of Luku'Lofa (not sure of capitaisation of Tongan capital) is a reef. Entitled "Dido Shoal", I have visions of Dido wrecked on it, I dream of waving cheefully at her and sailing off merrily, leaving her there with sharks circling.
With that pleasant thought its time to go.
The weather forecast was for 15-20kn's. This has turned out to be true.
For a given value of true.
Currently, as near as I can figure, rounded up, allowing for boat speed and subejectivly I'd have to say we had none. Therefore the given vaue of true is:
"Average of really light bits and 40knot gorrey death with pleasant* periods of gale force 8 boat cleaning hozizontal rain from a random direction"
Its not that the forecast is wrong - its just missleading.
* for a given value of pleasant, in this case its the same one that formular 1 bloke likes - sadomasocistic.
Approaching the island of Boring Boring,
In bad weather.
Bora Bora, the most beautiful island in the world, or a contender for it. Shame the weather is rather like that of an English Bank Holiday, damn that's bad luck. Well were here, its Sunday and the islands closed, its hard this life. None the less the yacht clubs closed.;
Its not a yacht club, its a restaurant called a yacht club. But judging by the wifi in Papeete the club is changing hands, its certainly closed. Since the anchorages here are 27 and 25 meters (and I'm being optimistic), we've borrowed their mooring on the assumption that nobody cares.
Well I'm ata beautiful island, the Yacht Clubs WiFi's out. The wonderful lagoon is around us, but I'm not allowed to swim. The islands closed. So I guess its back to bed. We'll probably leave for Raratonga tomorrow. With our fixed generator.
Yay, hope my Cook Islands driving Licence doesn't need renewal.
For those of you who don't get a postcard, sorry (could be all of you if I don't find a postbox) look below to see where I am, being rained on.
Post card of Bora Bora
Accidentally visited Moorea, took so long to get diesel we figured we'd arrive in Bora Bora in the dark. So we stopped at Cooks bay Moorea.
Cooks Bay Moorea
In Papeete Christian received a parcel from home, laptop diving stuff etc. Also is parents enclosed thoughtful gifts (inc vegimite). Also included was royal Auto magazine. The magazine of the RACV. Thats the Auzzie RAC. A quality publication on a par with an in-flight magazine. The reason for this inclusion with Easter eggs, vegimate and stuff is that Jackie, who's Austrialinainity is Al's reason for going to the beer and kangaroo continent is a resident of Port Macquarie, New South Wales. The magazine contains an article.
Let me tell you about Port Macquarie. Its got Australia's best climate, according to CSIRO - whatever the hell that is. its Gum trees are home to one of Australia's largest koala populations. Wich means its also home to the only NSW Koala hospital "Australia's cuddliest marsupial". Other unmissable include. "WALK Don't leave town without stepping out along the two hour beach-to-beach walk" Convict ruins etc. Apparently the north coast is an "anglers paradise".
Now for the cyinic in me....
Ok this sounds like Eastbourne - referred to by most Brightonian's as 'God's Waiting Room' due to the average age of its inhabitance requiring 3 digits, it usually has England's best sunshine records, is equivalently conveniently located "4 hours from Sidney", on in this case London, has a zoo at drusillas etc. etc. etc. Ok I'm gonna get killed by the Sarno family better stop now......
Arived in Papeete, all this time I've been spelling it wrong. Mostly however its the ear ache I'll remember, straight off the boat down the hospital. On antibiotics(very expensive ones) and ear drops. Not to mention pain killers. Not allowed to swim.
On drugs in pain and not allowed to swim in Paradise.
Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, in fact the whole of French Polynesia, is the origin of the word "pap". As is clearly illustrated by the free calendar we got from the supermarket. The good news is I have a nice new T-Shirt with "Hinano beer of Tahiti" emblazoned on it. Which should help spread peace an light amongst my friends when I get home. I've got some of their stickers too, with the nice kneeling polynesain lass with a flower behind her ear.
Some of you will be receiving postcards, maybe with a beer sticker on instead of words, then ou'll see what I mean.
Obviously you have to be here to really appreciate it.....
Hmmm tis nights like this that make me nervous. Were less than 2 miles from the corner of Rangiroa, an island who's maximum height is 6ft inducing palm trees. Al claims he saw a 3 storey building, but I don't believe him. There's no moon, less than 10 kn of breeze and another atoll in the way. Oh and Rangiroa's not where the chart says it is. According to the radar - which only works when the engine's on, and a bit of calculating its .3 of a nautical mile out. Given even now were less than 2 miles from it, that's not pleasant. Its got one light on it. Echo sounder is useless as were outside the 1000m contour (even this close). The gap between the islands requires a course of gybes and the gap is only 5 miles. Assuming the other atoll's where the chart says it is. Most likely is .3nm out like the other one. So I've adopted the motor the straight line through and use the radar approach. Damn the fuel, the environment and the temperature in my cabin.
Its hot here, and the engine doesn't help, its right next to my cabin. Ah well. must get away from corraly death. I likes Atolls, pretty on the inside sharp on the outside. They really are spoony things, 20m deep and 20 miles across with a glorified beach as a border. 1000 meters half a mile out side. Does ones noggin in and if one is not careful ones boat.
"Id rather be on the boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with the boat on the rocks."
I waxed all philosophical on the way over here. There are three sorts op people in this world, not the usual 2.
Optimists, who sea a half glass and say "Its half full"
Pessimists, who sea a half glass and say "Its half empty"
and of course sailors, who're just happy the damn things not in their lap.
Its also faintly possible that the sailors just see a half glass and go "I'll have that" and down it in one.
Due to the inadequacies of French Polynesian internet (no to mention beer stocks, cash points and charts) I've not had much of a chance to update. When you see this look out for my tribute to our Weather Girl, Jackie. In odds and ends. Alan's wild life video entitled Attenborough and a loverly and a loverly desktop walpaper of Jackal and her Crew in Tom's Travels.
LINKS FOR RSS USERS:
http://www.oceanhippie.net/content.php? Cat=10&Res=724 - Weather Girl
http://www.oceanhippie.net/content.php?Cat=11&Res=722 - Attenborough
http://www.oceanhippie.net/content.php?Cat=11&Res=691 - Wallpaper
We attempted to enter Manhie, twice, going aground the first time, slight damage to the rudder. Second time we hit the ebb tide. Got forced back out the pass again. Third time the current was still running. The entrance looked like the area behind an over flowing dam.
We go in there found the anchorage was 20 meters deep. Hugh rocky lumps of coral sticking up every where. Got the anchor jammed upside down backwards on the top of a 5 meter high protrusion of rock. It didn't jam too badly, mostly because the chain was wrapped around too many other lumps to pull on the anchor its self.
We gave up trying to anchor and left for Rangiroa. Which is a different story. We had to wait half an hour for the Pass to Calm down (we'd learned our lesson about atoll Navigation). The lagoon here is unbelievable, the water's 20 meters deep and you can see every detail. The Visibility is as near infinite as damn it. Went snorkelling yesterday, and playing with baby sharks, which was fun see the Attenborough video in "Tom's Travels". Some serious fish here. See the rangiroa photo gallery.
There may be a problem with my newslettery thing, assume by the time you read this I will have fixed it!
Oh boy I wish I had a copy of "Charlie's Charts of French Polynesia". Actually I do. I permanently loaned it to Sam on Ramprasad when I brought it home from Ornen in 1999. It would be churlish to have ask for it back after 9 years, when he is now queuing up for the the Panama Canal and his first pacific crossing.
Apparently the Canal is like the London Underground. Its on strike. So he may have to spend some quality time in Colon, poor bloke. Meanwhile I'm headed for the "Murderious Archipelago" with out the book that tells me how to negotiate the atol passes to access the laggony goodness within.
I've been naughty, I took a digital camera aboard another yacht and took photographs of the appropriate pages of the book. Not practical by it worked. We're now headed for Manihi ( I have so given up trying to pronounce the south pacific). Then maybe Ahe, and defiantly Ranigroa.
The Image above is my Chartlet of the Tuamoutos, Items underlined in blue are murderous "9kns current and coral heads in the pass" etc
Highlighted - Should be able to get in, without trauma. Underlined, maybe at slack water.
The boat is moving nicely, should be in crystal clear lagoon by the day after tomorrow.
There are 3 sorts of Islands in the Pacific.
1. Volcanic, and young. The Marquesas are an example. The islands have forced them selves up from the deep ocean by volcanic action. They are surrounded by cliffs. Coral may be eaking a living on the edge.
2. Volcanic medium age. The Coral around the edge grows an sustains its self, forming a ring around the island. The island is meanwhile eroding. What you end up with is a tall volcanic island surrounded by a lagoon with a reef on the edge. Like Castaway with Tom Bloody Hanks!. Bora Bora's a classic example.
3. Ancient. Assume the the erosion continues, eventually the whole volcano will disappear. The erosion will the stop at water level, the coral protects it from the waves, a shallow lagoon forms where the volcano once was. The Coral still stays, forming an empty lagoon who's tallest point is the palm tree on the surrounding reef. The Tuamoutos are all like this. The top of the Island is 2ft high, not counting the palm trees!
The Islets on the side of the coral reefs are called "Motu", for instance Rangiroa has 240 islets in a ring, with a huge shallow lagoon inside. The big gaps between Motu are called passes. Unfortunately, the tide rises and falls, and the entire rise for the Lagoon has to flow in and out through the passes. This kicks up eddies, overalls and nasty currents. Add the total irrelevance of these atolls to international shipping explains their poorly surveyed state, the ancient surveys don't include the tendency of coral to grow...... The maximum height of on Palm tree (radar absorbent), the sharp coral and you've got a cruising ground that deserves respect. So I'm drawing pictures, and looking at blury photos on digital cameras. Don't do as I do people.
When your bottom is covered with barnacles, its not which hand, but how many. All three of us had a go at it. Finally we've a clean bottom. Its wonderful. The boat feels like its sailing on butter. The ride is so fast and smooth.
The picture right gives you an idea of how thick they were. For your information the anti fouling is the black. Not that you can see any of it.
The job wasn't too bad, I got nearly half of it done in Hiva Oa, the rest was done in Huka Hiva. We were told that sharks come into the harbour at Hiva Oa. But decided "what the hell" I want those barnacles gone.
In Nuku Hiva, all three of us were in the drink for ages. Scrubbing scratching our selves. Blood, dead barnacles in the water. Fortunately we saw our first shark the following morning instead. Would have ruined the fun if we'd know there were sharks about.
I didn't get scratched, I've got nice dinghy sailing gloves, to stop the scrapper (formally a family circle biscuit tin) digging into me. I was also wearing a rash vest.
Well it was a rash vest, now its more a sort of T-Shirt. I've lost a lot of weight.
We're no longer at Hiky Naky, I mean Nuka Hiva, we're off to the Tuamotus. A series of atolls. between us a Papette.
The Tuamotus are rings of coral with a lagoon in the middle, often 20 miles across. With no actual island. The highest point in the archipelago is a palm tree + a beach. See my trip one section for the Apataki video.
We've made some friends out of Tiger. A South African family, who very kindly (given is £50 a bottle hear) brought some scotch over, which we helped them remove from their customs declaration. We fed 'em steak as compensation. I do feel sorry for them though, Al and I offloaded junk on them. My inflatable baseball bat now belongs to their kids.
Whould you want so share a small boat with 2 small kids and one infaltable baseball bat?