What can you see? You sea the sea, and Tahiti and the Lagoon. The image below is just a thumbnail. Click to view/download the full version.
Pearl Farming is rampant around here. Back not like the white ones you get from countries like Japan.
First you get your oysters up from the depth of 6-10 meters, they're hung on buoys under the water in strings. look In them with a special tool. What they are looking for is a nice dark mother of pearl inside the oyster. The mother of pearl is what determines the final pearls colour.
At this point its time for one oyster in 30 to lay down its life. A nice coloured one gets levered open. The dark skin around the edge gets cut into 30 tiny pieces. Thirty more oysters are levered very slightly open, and a little sack at the bottom cut open, into it is inserted one of the tinny bits of the sacrificial oysters flesh and a ball made of the shell of a Mississippi clam. Why? I have no idea. I suspect its about production time. Pearls take (don't quite me on this) 18 months to 2 years to grow. If you were to put a grain of sand in there, you'd either get a very small pearl or have to wait a hell of a lot longer. The woman from the pearl farm glossed over this bit.
Pearl grows from the bit of the edge of the poor old oyster who cops it, and around the seed.
When you come to harvest the pearls, they come out in three types. Perfectly spherical pearls. Single symmetry pearls, either tear-drop or button shaped. And asymmetric pearls where there's no symmetry at all. These pearls are made into bead curtains, or thrown out. Dross.
The crap pearls are bad news for the oyster, cos there just thrown out. No good. The other oysters that have produced good pearls are re-implanted and more pearls are grown.
You can get up to 6 pearls from a single oyster, but since some don't make it, others produce pearls that are crap, eaten by turtles etc there's quite a high failure rate. The larger pearls are rarer since they have to be made using the larger, therefore older oysters - the ones that make it to the fifth or sixth pearl.
The good pearls are graded, though colour varies, its not of great importance to the value. The ones around here vary from grey to black with shades of lustrous green and purply red.
What they're graded by are imperfections, dimples, lack of lustre etc. Grade a pearls have an imperfection covering less than 5%. Judicious use of drill and mounting and that disappears.
As you go down the grades you get more imperfections and less lustre.
Low quality pearls can be quite cheap, but then you have to mount them. Good ones in nice settings are costing the blokes on this rally money that could be spent on boats.....
Now we were light winded and then becalmed when trying to make big passages. Now were tied to a buoy with 20, frequently gusting higher wind and lots of rainy squalls. Shame fabulous bay this. Funnels the wind a bit more than we'd like.
Got soaked going ashore in the dinghy, misjudged a gap in the squalls. Lovely bar the Hibiscus family hotel/pension. We were the only folks in it. This is getting to be a habit. This ocean is painful quiet at present.
French Polynesia has always been fabulously expensive. Guess people can't afford to come, last time I was here I was technically. All right defiantly in cyclone season. Even so the place yacht is surprisingly on the slim side this trip. Less busy than out of yacht season last time.
Cross pacific round the world travels aren't spur of the moment things and they take a while to prepare for/get going. And once you leave the Windwards/Leewards in the Caribbean there's no where to sell your boat till Australia. This years UK pacific crossers at the left England a year ago. Preparing the boat for a good while before hand in many cases. Many will not have done so in the current climate. French Polynesia is an expensive holiday destination, many cheaper alternatives exist. Guess its bad news for the Polynesians.
The French military garrison on Tahiti is to be halved. Not good for the housing market. Maybe the prices over here will drop?
Three things are produced here, copra - coconut, used in a wide variety of products, particularly the cosmetics industry. Noni fruit, a foul tasting and ridiculously easy to grow fruit that's full of anti oxidants and pearls. Black pearls. The girls on rally have taken to them with a vengeance. However they are also a luxury commodity.
I guess I'm saying now might be the time, if your still solvent to look for that paradise trip. All the hotels are mostly empty. Restaurants frequently closed. Don't get me wrong, its not served by easyjet. But.. maybe just maybe, they'll be deals out there. You can get to see some of the most Paradise islands there are, and believe me. They're great.
Obviously the weather is inclement today, I'm taking this philosophically. I know that while I may be rained on here, and when it rains it doesn't mess about. Tomorrow or at least next week it will be fabulous again.
What I guess I'm saying is if you do come here try and book a 2 week trip...... Just in case.
One of our more philosophical tour guides said, "if the French and the tourists left, the Polynesians would probably go back to growing fruit, fishing and sitting under a tree all day." I'm not sure he's right, and he was at least partly Polynesian, Hawaiian originally. But here fruit grows easily, fish abound, reefs protect the islands, and the tree's are lovely and shady. Apparently you get a year of roofing out of palm leaves. 5 out of a different sort of thatch. I've been to Melanesian islands somewhat like that. All thatched huts, fruit, fish and pigs. Deep inside a part of me yearns for a life like that. God I wish I wasn't a geek some time's pretty sure I couldn't live like that. Shame really.
For non students of the Pacific, Polynesia, as opposed the "French Polynesia" is a triangle. The top of which is Hawaii the south eastern corner is Easter Island, the South Western corner is New Zealand. Not the most populous, but in terms of area. Fucking massive.
Tonga, Fiji Vanuatu etc are Melanesian. The other islands up towards asia are Micronesia.
The crew are stuck in a perpetual pronunciation loop. We keep trying to work out whether Faaaha and Faaha are the same place. The trouble is that by the time we get to pronouncing "Fa" "ah" "ah" in attempt to say it we've fogoton whether the las "ah" was an extra a or the "ha".
No we've no idea. We've started looking for a Baaaa. So we can sit down and have a beer and try it again with a couple of Hinano's in us.
Were in a bay called Faroa, on Raiatea. Seven letters 2 consonants! and sometimes an apostrophe. Next too what used to be a charter base. Yesterday we took a trip up the river at the end of the bay. Too much time spent in the Caribbean, some guy in a canoe appeared and paddled up there with us acting as a guide. Not only did he not tap us for money he tried to drag us ashore to give us fruit.
There's a big difference between the Caribbean Islands and the Pacific Islands. In the Caribbean people will try and charge you for: Looking after your dinghy, tying a rope round a palm tree. Walking the pub. Breathing. Acting as a guide to your own cockpit. etc etc.
The Pacific Islands aren't like that. Some woman in Rangrioa (metalled road 6km, loop in one end so one junction) actually stopped when I put my thumb out and tried to give me a lift, with the Gendarme in the passenger seat. Turned out she was in the middle of her driving test. le Gendarme ne pas amused!
"I'll have a vowel please Carol. Another vowel please Carol, another vowel please Carol and another, and one more. A consonant please, and just so its no alone another consonant."
Biddy biddy bedierbitbp BOOONNNNGG. "Times Up what do you have for us?"
"Well Richard I've got Raiatea". No you haven't that's wrong cos its supposed to have an apostrophe in there somewhere. "You Stripy jacketed, Git"
We slipped before I was finished this morning, now In Utaroa, along side the town quay. Nice. Palm trees, water tap is on the other side of the petrol station, closed on bank holiday so I've just done my Laundry. Hopefully the bugs in the Ioranet wifi system will have been sorted out and I'll be able to upload this. We'll see. Diatribe will follow if not. I'd rant to my friends if they were here, and whats the internet for if not for ranting?
Still in Moorea, yesterday, despite some very suspicious VHF usage including the letting slip of the "secret girls channel" - eleven. Pete off Perigriana was disappointed, his 60th birthday and nobody was really paying attention.
We were, we just managed to prevent him finding out about it. He was going out for Pizza with only Spirit of Nina. The bar never open's here, even when is says it does. So the darkened bar, came as no surprise to him. The bar maid turning up with a flower head dress and a lei did, followed by the whole rally with food music and booze did.
I think he cheered up at that point. I'm feeling it today drank half a bottle of Rum yesterday.
We're off, most people stayed for the Party and the Rally's breaking up again. Were of to Raiatea, others are going around the corner to the next bay or to Huahine.
We'll be going to Boring Boring then the cook's, It will be good to get somewhere a little cheaper! Anyway, I like the cooks. and Nuie.
Uploaded a new video, shot by Steve on Aspen of us leaving Rangiroa, tide was running like a bastard. Here it is.
Its in the video's section too.
I've improved the search button, a lot. I've added suport to find inividual photos. I've also gone through a lot of recent photo galleries adding tags. So it can now find photos as well.
As I keep refereing to boats on the rally, wich means nowt to any none rallyist. You can no look at them using "Boat Spotters of the Caribbean" photo gallery since one yacht looks pretty much like another even to me, not sure how much help it will be.
I'm in Cook's Bay Moorea, there are 3 forms of WiFi available, I've paied for both and neither will work. When everyone asked why we give the Internet away free on Brighton Beach I say "cos were nice people". Its also cos its bloody hard to make it work well enough to charge for it. I understand and sympathise with Ioranet and hotspotWDG, I know its hard. But I have paid, succeeded in paying, all gone through and everything, now give me my bloody password, your unsing chillispot for god's sake, I know that software like the back of my hand. I can make it sit up and beg and Ioranet, it says "No usage time remaining" right next to the history of me paying your for time! Grrrr. The net result is no idea when this will get uploaded.
I've been remiss in my blogging since I got to French Polynesia really. Its great here. Exchange rate's improving thanks to Greece as well.
As I said the rally is in Cook's Bay, guess what that's named after. He was a captain. Knocked around these parts alot. Far be it from me to argue with such a man about an anchorage. I've been here before, we found it very deep. Errr Al if your reading this we anchored in the marine reserve bit that says "No Anchoring" Doh!
Took a look around yesterday. More pictures of the anchorage are in the Moorea Gallery. From better angles this time. Cos we hired a car yesterday to look around. Last time we were late leaving from Papeete, so were going to get to boring boring in the dark. So we anchored looked and left.
Amongst other things one of the posh hotels has a dolphin centre, festooned with writings about "Education". Its a dolphin petting zoo. Where the rich can pay to pet a dolphin. Its not the dolphinarium I object to its the pathetic cover. They've also a sick turtle sanctuary. One of who's occupants was clearly dead. Floating, blown against the fence not moving, with its shell half cracked by the sun and the submerged part of the shell growing weed. Great sanctuary.
Hmm my spell check can't get dolphinarium it suggests delphinium.....
Part of my lack of blogging is due to the lovely trips I've been doing. Here's some advice, which I guess I already knew. Dolphinarium crap, Guagin museum crap. Scenery awesome. French Polynesia is expensive as hell. The best bits are free.
Fortunately the rally have put on some stuff, the aforementioned outrigger sailing canoe and dancers. I'll do a gallery at some point, I didn't take my camera to the dancers. Katrin has changed card's on hers and I've not got hold of it yet. The above picture is from Gill on Spirit of Nina, she can't complain after all the IT support I've given them!
Many of the dancers male and female hips are more blurred than Elvis in his latter, flabbly days. The effects of very fast hip movements in low light. Now I got dragged in the the pig dance in Nuku Hiva (too low light to be usable) others got into this one. I was feeling sick any way. My hips do not move that fast. I'd have dislocated my pelvis if I'd tried that.
The boat is running well. The huge battery bank used to power the boat has seemed week and feeble. The long engine run to Rangiroa seems to have done it a power of good. The last time it had a good charge was Antigua. And that was off the mastervolt nobby battery charger. Mastervolt are in my opinion too clever by half. Because of our generator troubles. We've bought a little Jackal style petrol generator. Its power ouput is a bit messy and the mastervolt detects it and won't charge. Damn. Our main generator is fixed. But not as happy as we'd like. Quite a lot of gunk comes out of the breather from the crank case. Stuck or damaged piston rings probably. We're piping this through the old screen for the water and out a pipe on deck. It seems to be running ok...... touch wood.
Katrin is Icelandic, not flying the flag right now, financial crisis and volcanoes being what they are. She's got three brothers, all marine engineers. They, she, and the world in general are wondering why they are at home on land and she is in the middle of the pacific with a dodgy marine generator. One of them had a skype call he is positive about our generators survival chances.
We got alot done in Tahiti, and I fixed tweaked or played with a lot of peoples IT problems. Also swaped some photos. Steve and Maria off "Aspen" decided to photograph us leaving the pass at Tiputu in Rangiroa. Partly for us and partly I suspect to see what happened. The large southerly swell was throwing waves over the reefs and motus on the southern side. Acting as a pump to fill the Lagoon up. It meant the pass never stopped ebbing. We punched into it and we flew out like a cork from a bottle. They shot video as well and its fab! Not even going to try and uploaded it right now, even if I could get on line.
Its doing what it does a lot in the pacific, raining. A lot. Soaking out there. Do you all feel better now. We've been out on a tour, in the rain. The first stop at the water fall was impressive, its wasn't actually raining. But there was so much spray the results were the same, only colder.
The chief was so protective of his beautiful daughter that he assigned 3 of his greatest warriors to keep the boys away. One day she met a boy in the woods, they talked but the warriors drove him away. Next day she went back up the valley and ran ahead of the warriors to meet him. Now the boy admitted that he was in fact the genie of the valley. And created 2 small water falls to hide behind. The third he created to sweep the warriors to their death.
Ok that's one version. In the other they were running to stay ahead of the warriors, slipped and fell to their deaths. The first two waterfalls appeared where they fell.
The warriors following saw what happened, looked at each other (presumably), realised that the chief was going to kill them, literally, and probably eat them too. And they too jumped and the the big waterfall formed where they fell.
Then my poor, long suffering, camera got bitten by a fish. To add to its previously documented problems, it now has a scratch on the screen. The restaurant had fish pens out the back. Full of medium (ok for England large) fish. I did what any sensible man wound do put the self timer on and dangled it in the water. The little bastards nearly ripped it out of my hands.
After the rather poor (and wet), Gauguin Museum, we stopped at some caves, due to the slightly overfull coach I'd ended up in the small extra people carrier. I was late, that's how, I admit it. We were ahead of the mob in the coach, with the Tourism office guide, the big cave with curative powers. Was fenced off, due to health and bloody safety. So I obviously shinned over the fence and paddled in the pool, I was wet anyway. Cured of all athletes foot I heard the Rally representative hissing "get back she's coming", referring to the guide so over the fence I went, and proceeded to carry on my musing on a rock against the gate. The guide duly arrived and said "If you were Polynesian" you'd just go over the gate, we do". I laughed and said I already had. I may not in fact have had my feet cured of athletes food by the medicinal cave pool cos I don't have it, it didn't cure Gauguin's syphilis either.
She did have a go at me later for entering a Tiki site and not being a priest. Right in Malaysia I offended the Buddhists, I'm forever bothering the God botherers. Ahhhhh another Religion offended.
I was trying to Photograph our first stop, a blow hole sandwiched between the road and the cliff, glamorous. It wasn't doing much so closer and closer I snuck. WHOOSH. My totally redundant sunnies, hooked into the top of my T-Shirt flew fifteen feet down the road my hat went. I blinked my smarting eyes turned to look as it soared away to land 40 feet down the road. Eye's still sting now.
If it hadn't been for the bizarre incidents the trip would have been a little disappointing. Yesterday I was sick, like last time I was here. Went sailing on an out rigger canoe anyway. Saw some very pretty Tahitian dancing girls, and went home and missed the pub, I was that sick. Will no go and retrieve photos of said dancing girls, and of me in the outrigger canoe and see if I can't inflict them on you later. Thanks to PierToPier.net (currently running in down town Papeete) I can leave my laptop on board.
Repairing dinghies, is a git. The Brighton Drinking Sailing Club Rescue Boat has had a leak for years, its right next to a joint on the rubbing strip on the side.
Instructions say, if you must have an inch of patch from the hole all round. In my experience, and I suspect every ones else's as well you never get a hole more than half an inch from a seam or fitting. Its bloody infuriating.
This one is right next to the strip that holds the handles. I suspect - and I did it properly, I used the Shampoo method, it won't work. I suspect it will end up like the SC's rescue boat. Not cured but better. I'm thinking pump once a day not every trip.
The "Shampoo method" may take some some explaining. As per bloody usual, there's no instructions on the tube of glue. Not a problem its like inner tube repair or contact adhesive, you cover the boat and the patch and wait a while then press them together, forever. So I decided since "a while" is a bit vague. Here's where the Shampoo (capital S is not a typo) comes in. I decided that by the time I'd smeared the glue and cleaned my fingers, the 'orrid, pre Spice Girls band's song Shampoo You, of the classic Album "We are Shampoo" was just the right amount of time to wait. You can listen to this nineties classic using the play button left (hipIplayer).
Dinghy's are a yachties best friend, and worst enemy. This is the first time since mid February I've not had to use it to go everywhere. The food for the pacific, including 17 slabs of lager, bottled water, gerry cans of fuel and water its all come aboard by dinghy. Trips snorkeling, the pub, beach BBQ's all in the dinghy. We've 2 dinghies. A soft one, with and inflatable bottom (god knows what that phrase will do when it gets into Google search) and a rib. Rigid Inflatable Boat. We've 2 outboards as well. A heavy one and a light one, actually they're about the same weight. One works and is 9.8hp, its a 2 stroke. The other is still not working, is 4hp. I hate it. its a bloody 4 stroke, EU emissions friendly piece of shit. You put it down wrong the oil falls out. It weighs a ton, its covered with stoopid safety features and its carburetor is a M.C.Esher esque nightmare of pipes nozzles and tiny little holes many of which I have prodded and poked some are still blocked. It will run if A: you give it full welly and start it with the choke. B: You run it with the choke. C: you half choke it by putting your hand over the air intake.
This outboard sunk, twice. Still ran.
The dinghy called Jesus rose from the
dead, after 3 days of repairs.
Unfortunately rather than ascend to
Heaven its sank to the depths. Frequently
I've had troubles before with outboards, there are some tricks. they are some times hard to start, hard to get to idle properly. But mostly if you've problems you take out the spark plug clean it. Take the bottom off the carburetor and get the needle valve working. If your really smart adjust the screw on the carb till it idles properly. The only reason you clean the plug is if you've put too much oil in it. Flooded it (with fuel not water). Or you've been committing the cardinal sin of 2 strokes, too much choke.
Starting a 2 stroke. Pull. Pull again, fiddle with throttle. Pull. DO NOT USE CHOKE. Pull again. Check fuel by pumping it to the carb using the bulb if it has one. Pull again. Check for whiff of petrol by now there should be one. Pull with high throttle - helps blow the excess fuel though if you've flooded it. Now if it is not starting you may engage the choke. For one pull only. If it starts, immediately release the choke and rev. If it doesn't start. Take the choke off again and do not re-choke for at least 7 more pulls. Often it will start on the pull after the choke.
Repeated pulls with the choke on will either flood it or oil up the plug or both. Making it harder to start not easier. Requiring choke is a sign to my simple mind of clogged or semi cogged jets in the carb. disassemble and clean out jets. Piece of piss on a (small) 2 stroke. Watching my father trying to start lawnmowers as a child I've always wished I'd know then what I know now. It would have made life so much easier.
Island by Island we crossed the pacific,
and with the exception Jesus things were terrific,
such an embarrassment it was to be in that craft,
with hats pulled low we pumped and laughed.
Pumping and pumping for me in a dinghy,
Pumping and singing they've all been drinking,
Pumping and bailing "oh god we're sinking",
Pumping our way across the pacific.
Extract from Roz's Poetry
For instance Jesus's outboard sank twice. Pull the spark plug out pull to pump the water out of the cylinder. Rinse. Dry and add clean petrol and start. Remember the bit about pulling the spark plug out before turning it over. Air is compressible, water is not. if its full of water turing it over will break it. Badly.
Jesus was Ornen's dinghy, it took 3 whole days to get it too rise form the dead. Unlike its namesake who ascended into heaven. This Jesus tended to descend to the depths. Frequently. Procedure was one to pump air, one to drive and one to bail the water out. Using it alone was a complex multitasking procedure.
Dinghies are personal thing. On Ramprasd on my first big trip I shared a bunk with a seahopper folding dinghy. Great idea, it was a flat pram style dinghy. Of plywood. The joints were neoprene strips. It literally unfolded like a cardboard box. It was great to row, it could sail, light winds only or the leeward shroud went slack and fell off. It was found with 2 huge rastas sat in it on land in St Lucia. There after the seams gave out and it sank. That's when I found Jesus. Thorborjn on Ornen came to our rescue, he drove I pumped.
Normally most people use some kind of inflatable. Rigid bottom's allow bigger outboards and faster. But are heavy and a bugger to store. Softer bottoms are lighter and can be collapsed, but if you put a larger outboard on them tend to fold up as your going along. An are easier to puncture. They go Psssssst bubble bubble when you hit something, rather than Crump. Neither is perfect, both usually row like a one legged dead kitten so outboards become the norm.
To store people often fit davits on the back of the boat to put the dinghy in. If you do that its often hard to go stern too on the dock or go swimming. You can't usually have a wind vane either. There is no right answer here. Will some one please make a dinghy that's: Nope not happened yet. I expect cold fusion first. I'm secretly hoping if some cretinous sales person from a dinghy manufacturer will post a comment along the lines of "my design is perfect" so I can ridicule them. In light of the fact that tis Election day, please use the coment form below to indicate whether on not your prefer: Oh and if by the time you're reading this the Torries are In at least I'm on the far side of the world. And if Gordon's till there, at least I'm on the far side of the world. This is a win win for me I think.
To store people often fit davits on the back of the boat to put the dinghy in. If you do that its often hard to go stern too on the dock or go swimming. You can't usually have a wind vane either.
There is no right answer here. Will some one please make a dinghy that's:
Nope not happened yet. I expect cold fusion first. I'm secretly hoping if some cretinous sales person from a dinghy manufacturer will post a comment along the lines of "my design is perfect" so I can ridicule them.
In light of the fact that tis Election day, please use the coment form below to indicate whether on not your prefer:
Oh and if by the time you're reading this the Torries are In at least I'm on the far side of the world. And if Gordon's till there, at least I'm on the far side of the world. This is a win win for me I think.
No wind, in Marina Taina, Papeete, Tahiti and man its hot. However expensive this Marina may be, its fatal mistake was to give us flat rate electricity. Its thirty something out side, baking sun and 24 degrees in side. We've got the air con on. We'll get our money's worth out of the Electrickery. Tied to the Land, not dingying ashore, with infinite electricity and water - out of a pipe. You have absolutely no idea what a pleasure that is. last time we were alongside with power was Shelter Bay in the Caribbean. We've dinghied ashore with Gerry cans and water a food and everything, charged batteries by engine or genny, watched our batteries, out tanks and our filters like hawks, we had too. And relax.
Unfortunately is blasting hot out side. I've fixed the wind generator (last worked in Panama). Locked up brushes on the swivel base. Errrr obviously that wasn't all the trouble it gave me. Its on a boat nothing is that simple. It sliced it cable the fold down for maintenance pole system didn't function as it was supposed to. Also the flat plate on the front of the cowling was cracked so I broke it. Its glued back together again and all working.
We think there is no wind. Also its blades are made of glasfibre and have been in the tropical sun for more than 2 years. Their shedding. Despite a shower - infinite water is such a luxury I itch like mad with little pieces of glasfibre in me.
The man arrived today to fix the generator. Poor sod looked awful daunted at the tinny hobit hole full of shite he had to crawl into. He's gone off with the heat exchanger. Here's a pocket explanation of what may have happened. Heat exchanger is a bugger to get at. Its made of copper, with end caps bolted on with steel. It contains an anode. Rust is a normal problem on boats. However dissimilar metals also corrode when dipped in an electrolyte. Such as sea water. Remember I said its a bugger to get at - that where the anode is. Even the professional service guy couldn't check it.
An anode is a piece of galvanically attractive metal, often zinc, that is supposed to corrode first thus saving important bits. Manual says change every three months. NOT every 10 years.
Due to a lazyness, the above picture is in fact 2 years old. Its the first time I've cut that corner so far this trip, sorry. Must find and charge camera. Anyone who tried the Nuku Hiva video yesterday and it didn't work should find it fixed now.
Oh dear, my new Olympus indestructible waterproof freeze proof (handy) camera is slowly expiring. I say new one, the first one made it to Fiji last time before it decided to leak. It soldiered on above the waterline and was sent back as a corroded wreck with a dodgy cable flapping loose front. Marked repair under guarantee.
They sent a new one.
I suppose its had two and a half years of use, its been on F18s, Hobie 18s rescue boats launching off Brighton Beach, the RS 600 the i14. Not to mention sailing 5000Nm across the Caribbean and Pacific.
Its a case of Dive Another Day, and see if it still works.
More pictures from, what's left of it, to follow.