The Magic of Maupiti

la Orana again Boatbloggers ®

Blogs are like buses. Nothing comes for ages and then all of a sudden, three turn up. Sorry about that. And sorry to rub it in – but while you’ve all been locked down, we’ve been travelling between the Society Islands and there’s just so much to tell you about.

We are in Maupiti, which is about thirty nautical miles due west of Bora Bora. It’s an easy downwind sail, so we put up the two foresails and let the wind just blow us along.

Maupiti 1

It’s famous for two main things. The first is the pass, which is notoriously tricky to get through as it’s quite narrow. And since it is the only pass into the lagoon, the currents can be quite strong between the reefs.

Maupiti Pass 1 2

But as you can see, it was pretty calm the day we came through.

It’s a lovely place to ‘drop the hook,’ as us nautical types say.

Maupiti anchorage 2

The second thing that Maupiti is famous for is the manta ray cleaning station. This is a rock in the middle of the lagoon where the mantas come so that the little fish who live on the rock can clean all their gills and inside their mouths and so on.

Thanks to Rob and Frances ‘Blue Planet’ Lythgoe for these fabulous pictures.

But it’s not just mantas. We also saw this little octopus. It’s amazing how he changes colour to match the sand as he swims away.

No more garlic pulpo for us.

Happily we met up with Rob and Frances from Alia Vita once more.

Group photo

If you remember, we last saw them doing a gargantuan walk up the mountains of Moorea which nearly wiped us out completely. Unrepentant, they suggested that we climb up the little hill at the centre of the island as the view would be amazing.

Screen Shot 2020 10 06 at 14 54 33

And as luck would have it, this time we would be joined by Alex and Carla from Ari B  who we had last seen six years ago in Portimao in the Algarve just before our first Atlantic crossing. It’s a small world!

What Rob failed to mention is that Alex is Austrian, and so is half man, half mountain goat.

Walk 9 Alex

No doubt from an early age he has been bounding up alpine slopes wearing little other than leather shorts and a hat with a feather. Carla climbs to olympic standard too.

We should have known it was going to be tough.

Nevertheless Ju, completely forgetting Einstein’s advice that insanity was doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result, accepted the walking invitation. Lyn rather more sensibly said that she wouldn’t come because her shoes didn’t have enough grip and it would be too slippy. Everyone very politely pretended to believe her.

It started off pleasantly enough.

Walk 3

But it wasn’t long before Ju started to get that deja vu feeling he had the last time he did this.

Walk 10

It was starting to get tough.

Walk 8

But the view was pretty amazing when we finally got there.

Walk 7

But was it worth it?

Walk Top

(Editors note:- Ju would like to point out that this photo was taken by Frances who has a panoramic setting on her camera. This has the unfortunate side effect of making Ju’s stomach also look panoramic. He would like to assure our readers that in real life he is still the same ripped Adonis that you all know and love.)

But as any mountaineer will tell you, going up is the easy bit. The hard bit is coming down.

Glad to see Ju’s overacting skills haven’t left him.

Rob is currently thinking of climbing Kilimanjaro, but only so long as they can helicopter him back down. Ju has agreed to go with him, but only so long as they can helicopter him up and down.

All in all, lunch felt very much deserved.

Walk lunch

We could have filled the blog with photos of all the different fruits of Muapiti, because they are just growing along the roadside; pawpaws, mangoes, pomme etoiles, pineapples, breadfruit – all there for the picking in this little bit of paradise. But we’ll spare you all that. Just time for one arty farty photo to give you an idea of what you are missing, which is imaginatively entitled “Avos.”

Fruit 8 Avo

That’s all for now Boatbloggers ®.

Nana from Maupiti

Ju & Lyn

X

Bora Bora – so good they named it twice

la Orana again Boatbloggers ®

Bora Bora – incredible!  One of those names like Timbuktu that is known to the soul but really only as a by-word for things mysterious, far away and possibly never to be known except for the brave few far-adventurers…

So wrote our friend Steve when we told him we were here. And we couldn’t put it better ourselves. After an overnight sail, we finally saw the famous outline on the horizon.

Bora 1

The crossing from Moorea was pretty uneventful, apart from being dive bombed in the night by what must have been a giant albatross with the trots.

Albatross

Bora Bora only got prettier the closer we got.

Bora 3

They have these lovely little huts, where the rich and famous come to relax.

The digs

We thought we might treat ourselves to a couple of nights on land. They are very nice inside and we felt that we deserved a little break.

£9 200 a night

We asked how much they were.

“Seventy five thousand dollars,” they said.

“We’re not buying it, we just want to stay for a couple of nights.”

Seventy Five THOUSAND dollars for a WEEK!

And that doesn’t include breakfast.

We decided to stay on a mooring ball. Which is $30. Much nicer.

The good news was that Andy and Caroline on Kari of Lymington were here, so we met up for dinner at the very exclusive Bora Bora Yacht Club.

Bora Bora Yacht Club

Where the sunsets are particularly lovely.

Bora Bora Sunset

It came as a bit of a surprise to discover that this side of the island, the west, is not generally considered to be that nice! Apparently it’s all a bit commercial. There’s no pleasing some people – it seemed pretty good to us. But the nicest part is supposedly on the east. So the next morning, we let slip of the mooring ball and took the treacherous path round the island.

Route

Ok, so it’s not treacherous like Cape Horn is treacherous, but when the depth starts reading 1.0m and going down, it does cause your heart to beat a little faster.

But it was definitely worth the effort.

Lagoon 3

It’s all very romantic. As they say over here, Boa Bora is ideal for the Newly Weds…

Bora Romance  1

..and Nearly Deads. (No clever comments about which category we fit into thank you very much.)

All in all, the perfect place for a couple of old swingers.

Old Swingers

The snorkelling is spectacular.

Diver Lyn  1

It’s fair to say that we have done a lot of snorkelling over the last few years, and so consider ourselves to be something of experts. In our considered opinion, we have to say that this is some of the best.

Coral garden 3

They call it The Coral Garden.

Coral Garden 2

The water is so clear it’s like swimming in gin. And Ju should know.

https://youtu.be/sxhVhi86Ir0

There’s lots of fish. Little ones…

Fish Swarm 2

and big ones.

Sharks 1  1

But the one thing you miss out here in paradise, is a decent curry. So we decided to turn Domini into the Bora Bora Balti House for a night.

Bora Bora Balti

With chicken saag, daal, rice and all the trimmings. Including Patak’s lime pickle. Woooo woo! Couldn’t get any popadoms though. But we did have the perfect guests.

And a trip to Bora Bora wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Bloody Marys. Restaurant to the stars. Anyone who is anyone has eaten here, from Marlon Brando to Barry Gibb.

Bloody Mary s

And now us.

Bloody Mary s 2

Eat Out To Help Out. We’re a long way from home, but I think we can all agree that we’re doing our bit.

Before we go there is just time for this edition’s Boatblog ® Caption Competition.

Caption Competition

“Just ‘cos you’re wearing a mask, doesn’t mean I have to.”

Better ones than that to the usual address on a ten pound note. And we have a last minute entry for the Arty Farty prize.

“The Clams,” by Ju – featuring the newly discovered underwater setting on the camera. It took five years, but now he’s found it.

Arty Farty Clams 1

And a special tribute to Andy, for his dramatic attempt to win A Darwin Award*, with a giant moray eel.

https://youtu.be/OvHbvf1Xh0I

Nana for now Boatbloggers ®

Ju & Lyn

* The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honouring those who accidentally remove themselves from it in a spectacular manner.

More-ish Moorea

la Orana Boatbloggers ®,

It’s been a long time since we last put anything up on TheBoatBlog ®, and that’s because we haven’t actually been doing much boating to blog about. When Alice and Ben had their little baby boy, now called Orson, Lyn of course wanted to go straight over to Madrid to see him.

Orson

Aaaaaaaaaaaaw…Orson is Awesome.

Ju had to stay in Tahiti with the boat. He didn’t really get up to very much while Lyn was away, preferring a quiet time in with a few friends.

https://youtu.be/d6IrthJF8e0

A truly international lineup at Domini Scott’s Jazz Club, featuring Carlos El Tambor from Barcelona on cajon, Javier “Knuckles” Ramon from Islas Canarias also on cajon, Richard “Cookin’ Haig from Wales on blues harp. And of course the one and only Jelly Roll Ronnie from Brentford. 

Nice.

As well as starting a Divemaster course, Ju also learned a new way of getting into the dinghy.

https://youtu.be/lLHYVuAWU8g

Not bad for an old sea dog. (9.5 points for execution and technical merit. What do you reckon Paul?*)

But eventually Lyn managed to get back to Tahiti despite all the restrictions, and soon we were able to head back to Moorea which is only a few hours sail away. We even managed to pick up some crew for the voyage. 

To Moorea 3

Lyn with Clare from Tintamarre, and Kate from Barracuda. It’s fair to say, it was a pretty easy trip.

We also met up with our friends Rob and Frances from Alia Vita.

Domini  Alia Vita 3

They suggested we went for a little hike. To start off with we were all very keen.

Hike  Before

Only three and a half miles Rob said. What he didn’t say was that it was also half a mile up.

Hike route

At first it was quite easy…

Hike Road 2

But then the path started getting steeper…

Hike Road 3

And thinner…

Hike Road 4

And less like a path…

Hike Road 6

Till eventually it petered out altogether…

Hike Road 7

But we fought our way through, and eventually came across what we were looking for.

Les trois pinus.

Hike 3 Pinus

The Three Pines.

The view from the top was pretty breathtaking. 

Hike View

Not that we had any breath left to take.

Hike  After

And no wonder.

Image

SEVENTY TWO FLOORS! That’s like climbing up the Empire State Building.

It’s not surprising really. When you live on the sea, any walk is up.

The one thing that Moorea is famous for at this time of year is whale watching. Hundreds of humpback whales come up to mate, and to have their babies. We have to be careful on a boat, because one thing that can really clog up your watermaker is whale sperm. We kid you not.

But off we went to see them

https://youtu.be/-pAAttS6DFc

We tried to slide in and snorkel alongside them, but every time we did, they swam off before we could get near. Even as a trained rescue diver, Ju couldn’t keep up with a thirty tonne, fifteen metre whale. It didn’t help that at one point when we were getting close to the whales and about to jump in, the dive leader said, “We could get into the water here, but this is where there are a lot of oceanic white tip sharks. But don’t worry. If you see one, all you have to do is maintain eye contact while you swim back to the boat. If you do see it roll it’s eyes back into it’s head, it probably going to attack because that’s what happens when they open their mouths. But that’s very rare. Though last year a woman was attacked…”

Whale 1

We decided to stay on the boat.

It was fun watching the mother whale training the baby. The mother would jump out, and flap her fins around, and then the baby would copy it exactly.

Ju didn’t come back unscathed.

Wetsuit tear

It wasn’t a Great White Shark. More a Great White Bum.

Probably caused by eating this…

Crepe

A peanut butter, Nutella and squirty cream crepe. A traditional Moorean favourite. And only 4,000 calories.

But all too soon it was time to leave More-ish Moorea and head for distant shores.

Leaving Tahiti

Bye Bye Moorea. We’ll be back soon.

But before we leave you, there’s just time for the Boatblog ® competition, which is called…

Where’s Wally Rob?

Hike  Where s Wally

Answers on a large cheque please, to the usual address.

And it wouldn’t be a proper Boatblog ® without at least one Arty Farty entry. This one from Ju, called “Strange Fruit.”

Arty Farty 1

Nana for now.

Ju & Lyn


*Paul Miller. International gymnast (among many other things) and very old** friend. 

**That’s old as in we’ve known him a long time, not as in ancient.


 

 

 

Huahine Heaven

la Orana Boatbloggers®

And welcome to your latest edition of The Boatblog® brought to you direct from Huahine, a little piece of heaven in The Society Islands, French Polynesia.

Huahine 1

And where better to enjoy a few drinks than with friends than in a little beach bar…

Bastille day 1

or a little hotel bar…

Drinks Lyn

or a little pool bar…

Pool

or a little restaurant…

Bastille Day 2

or even on a boat.

Party Boat

(Did you do anything else but drink? – Ed)

Yes of course! We did lots of healthy things. Just one example, we cycled all the way round the island. 65km in total.

Ebike 1

(Is it just me, or does that look like Lyn’s got a very butch right arm?)

It would have been completely knackering, if they hadn’t been electric bikes. 

Ebike 4

A little turn of the pedal and you’re off like Lance Armstrong on speed. Or cocaine. Or whatever else he was on. (We could have done with one of those on the Cape Argus, Nick.)

But we still couldn’t walk the next day.

We went swimming.

Bomb 1

Watched the Huahine Boat Race.

Race Day 1 2

Which is very like the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race but with less oars. They only have one each, but they still zoom along,

There are some rather unusual boats.

Houseboat

These are traditional ways of trapping fish. The idea is that the fish swim up this long stone maze and then can’t find their way back out. Very clever – might come in handy if we’re ever shipwrecked on a desert island.

Fish Trap 2

Sadly this all that is left of the maraes, which are the traditional Polynesian churches. Unfortunately the missionaries came and destroyed them all, because clearly these people were worshipping the wrong God.

Marae 1

We went to the shell museum, which is more exciting that it sounds. Some of these shells can kill you. They shoot out a little harpoon which is more poisonous than a cobra.

Shell Museum

Ju even performed at the Huahine Jazz Festival.

Huahine Jazz Festival

(Isn’t that another bar? – Ed)

All in all, it’s a very nice place.

The Bay 3

And as always, we like to end with a gratuitous sunset. And this one was followed by a green flash. (Alas, I didn’t get it on film so you’ll just have to believe us James.)

Dinghy Sunset

And now we are off about to set sail for Tahiti, because there is a very special event happening very soon!

To find out more, don’t forget to look out for the next edition of The Boatblog, coming to a computer near you.

Nana et a bientôt,

Ju & Lyn

Graham – I suppose you don’t believe this is the moon either.

Banana Moon

Tuamotu Catchup

Bonjour et la Orana Boatblog® fans,

Welcome to our Catchup from Tuamotu.

Here we are again, reporting back from the very heart of the centre of the middle of nowhere; the Tuamotus a series of coral atolls somewhere deep in the Pacific. They really are the quintessential tropical islands with turquoise waters, coral reefs and palm trees.

Ju  Lyn

Our first stop after Fakarava was one of the smaller, less visited atolls called Kauehi (pronounced Kah-oo-eh-hi – it’s quite tricky, but you say all the vowels in French Polynesia).

There are only about 100 people living on the island, so it feels very deserted. All of the young people get sent to school in Tahiti, or make their way to Papeete for work, so there are only very old people and children left here.

High Street

(Not saying these are very old people. Actually it is Jeremy from Next Step and Andy from Kari of Lymington.)

The only industries here are tourism which has died because of Covid, copra – which is getting oil and other things out of a coconut, and black pearls which they farm. Not a lot of people know this, but a black pearl starts it’s life being seeded on a tree.

Seed Oysters

Who’d have thought this is how a pearl earing begins?

It is sad that when you get to the windward side of the island, the beach is absolutely covered in plastic. This is not from the locals, but has drifted here from civilisation.

IMG 4678

 “Sunview – The Best From The West.”

We did our best with Caroline and Andy from Kari of Lymington to clean it up a bit, but it’s a daunting task.

Picking up plastic

It’s very expensive here. If it’s not a fish or a coconut it has to be imported. For example, a bag of crisps is thirteen dollars. OK, so that was a big bag, but even for a dedicated crisp-oholic such as Ju that’s a bit much, so we had poisson cru instead. Which is raw tuna marinated in coconut milk. Very tasty, and sadly a lot healthier than a bag of salt and vinegar.

Unfortunately, for much of our time in Kauehi it was raining, and we spent a lot of it on the boat sitting out a storm. 

Rainbow 2

And when it rains, it rains.

When it rains it rains

But at least it’s warm rain.

As soon as the weather let up, we set off for Rangiroa, about twenty-four hours’ sail to the north west, where we rejoined a number of other Sailors of the Lost ARC.

Sola in Tiputi

Nick from Maximillian and Alan from Island Wanderer had rigged up their paddle board as a water ski. It was brilliant fun – just like water skiing but slower. 

The next day we went to a place called The Blue Lagoon which is a lagoon within the lagoon, and even by Polynesian standards is stunning.

Blue Lagoon 7

It’s probably not the most original name that they could have come up with, but it seems to sum it pretty well.

Blue Lagoon 8

It really is somewhere that should to be on everyone’s bucket list. (With the possible exception of Alan. The only way here is by boat, then another little boat Al. Not good if you get seasick.)

We went spearfishing for lunch, and caught a parrot fish.

Spearfishing

…or as Monty Python would say, an Ex-parrot fish.

Ex parrot fish 2

You don’t throw your scraps to the dog in French Polynesia. 

Not a good time to go paddling.

While we were waiting for lunch our guide showed us some of the local skills.

Start with a leaf…

Do you know what it is yet 2

Make a few folds…

Do you know what it is yet 3

Do you know what it is yet?

Do you know what it is yet 4 3

Eat your heart out Mr Gucci.

Just time to go to the spa with our friends before we had to go back to the boat.

Blue Lagoon 4 2

The next day we went diving and saw our first manta ray.

Manta 1 2

And then the dolphins came to play.

And like most of us, they love nothing more than a tummy rub, which seems to put them into a sort of daze.

Dolphin 4

Then it was back to the boat with the crew of Volunteer to put the evening’s cabaret together.

The Band 1

…with dancers from Easter Island.

The Cabaret

But now the winds are building…

Windy 1

…and the forecast tells us that a storm is heading our way, so it’s time to move on. Next stop, The Iles de la Societe.

Nana and au revoir for now, as they say over here.

Ju & Lyn

PS – Have we got time for a gratuitous sunset?

(Go on then – Ed)

Gratuitous Rangiroa Sunset

South Pacific

la Orana et bonjour Boatbloggers®,

And welcome back to another action packed edition of The Boatblog®, this time being sent to you direct from Fakarava (be careful how you say that) in The Tuamotus, a series of atolls in the heart of the South Pacific. This is of course where Rogers & Hammerstein’s great musical was set, and as a tribute we will be gratuitously shoehorning in as many song titles from the show in this blog as we dare. Dites moi how many you can find. (See what we did there?) Answers at the end…no cheating!

All in all we spent nearly two months in Tahiti, as travel between the islands was banned because of Covid 19. But on the island itself most restrictions were lifted, so there was plenty to do. We went to an evening of traditional dancing…

Dancing  audience participation 2

Our night at The Belvedere Restaurant up in the hills turned out to be some enchanted evening…

Infinity Pool  Some Enchanted Evening

Even the view from the loo was pretty spectacular.

A loo with a view

We found time to go surfing. We’ve never done it before, but Lyn is quite a cock eyed optimist…

Surfing  Lyn  Cock Eyed Optimist

so we jumped straight in. It’s harder than it looks.

Surfing  Lyn falling

But lots of fun.

Surfing  Lyn laughing

There is nothing you can name, that is anything like a dame – or better still, four dames surfing.

Surfin Girls  There is nothing like a dame

They look like they’ve been washing men right out of their hair all morning. (OK – stick with it, that was a difficult one.)

Finally the restrictions on travel between the islands were lifted, and most boats left Tahiti straight away to go exploring. It’s amazing to think that French Polynesia actually covers an area bigger than Europe, so there’s quite a lot to explore. Unfortunately we still had some engine trouble, so we had to wait to get that fixed before we could set off.

Engine 2

Quite a big job, but soon it was back in and working, and we were ready to set sail. First stop Moorea.

This is where they filmed South Pacific.

And this is Bali H’ai.

IMG 4569

We climbed up the hill, and we think you’ll agree it’s a fabulous sight.

Moorea  Up The Hill 2

And the scenery’s not bad either (Boom! Tish!)

After only a few days we saw a weather window that could get us east towards the Tuamotus, so we set of for Fakarava – about two days sail away. 

It’s a beautiful atoll, and in normal times can get quite crowded with tourists, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Where better to relax with a bloody Mary or two after a hard day eating?

Fakarava  Cocktail hour  Bloody Mary

Or enjoy some happy talk on the beach with our friends from the World ARC. 

 Fakarava   Happy Talk

Or as we now call ourselves since the ARC was cancelled, Sailors of the Lost ARC.

It was a bit disconcerting when we arrived to hear about the storm which hit the atoll a few days before we arrived. Lots of boats were damaged – some more than others. This nearly was mine, but we were lucky. If we’d arrived only two days earlier…

Fakarava  Beached Boats  This Nearly Was Mine

But the main reason to come to Fakarava is the diving, and in particular the “wall of sharks.”

https://youtu.be/SAAnrk1YcBk

We are told that sharks don’t eat divers because they don’t like the taste. Apparently we have too much iron in our blood, so if you ever decide to do this, eat lots of spinach before you go.

The water is gin clear.

Diving  Lyn

And there are more sharks than a lawyers’ convention.

Diving  Sharks

Ju then made tiny error of judgement. He agreed to go on a night dive, while the sharks are out feeding. Quite what made him sign up for this, he is still not sure. It was like being in a shoal of fish except it wasn’t fish – it was sharks. Black tip sharks and white tip sharks.

And they were hunting.

Diving  Night shark

There were sharks in every direction, and the torch just picked out millions of eyes as they went on the prowl. The were at least 300 of them, and Ju was in the middle of the pack. Then just when everything seemed to be slowing down, suddenly they would all go berserk as they saw a fish and went after it. It was fantastically terrifying, or terrifyingly fantastic – one of the two. But either way, it was very exciting. Though Ju is not sure he’s going to do it again. It didn’t help to find out that when they filmed this exact same dive for the Blue Planet, all the divers wore chain mail.

Thanks to Jeremy from Next Step for all the underwater photos.

BTW – do you know what a pack of sharks is called? Answer below…

We had a lot of parties. We have a better social life out here in the middle of nowhere than we do in the middle of London. This is a bootleg recording of one of our boat jams. All the players were very carefully taught by maestro Ju.

https://youtu.be/rzDq-MigLKs

We celebrated Petra’s birthday.

Fakarava  Petra Birthday  Younger Than Springtime 2

I’m sure we all agree that she looks younger than springtime. And that bloke wearing the traditional Fakarava table decoration looks like a wonderful guy.

So – just time for the arty farty competition, both submitted by Lyn. The first is called “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts,” which wasn’t from South Pacific, but perhaps it should have been.

Fakarava  Arty farty 4

And the second entry is called “Amazing Roots.”

Fakarava  funny tree 2

And the winner is Lyn! Well done Honey Bun!

That’s all for now Boatbloggers®.

A bientôt!

Ju & Lyn

How did you get on with the South Pacific song competition?

Here’s the answers…

Dites Moi, Some Enchanted Evening, A Cock-Eyed Optimist, There Is Nothing Like A Dame, I’m Going To Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, Bali Hai, Bloody Mary, Happy Talk, This Nearly Was Mine, Carefully Taught, Younger Than Springtime, (I’m in love with) A Wonderful Guy, and last but not least Honey Bun.

A pack of sharks is called a shriek – presumably after the noise a diver makes when he sees one.

 

Paradise Prison

la Orana Boatblog® Fans,

That is Tahitian for hi there.

Greetings from Paradise Prison.

We weren’t sure whether or not we should put up a blog under the current circumstances, given that most of our followers haven’t seen daylight for many weeks now and are still in lockdown in places as far afield as London, Madrid  and Kettering. It might just be rubbing it in a bit too much.

But if it’s any consolation, we too were in lockdown for the first month that we were here. Which isn’t so bad when this is the view.

Amazing Clouds

We were only allowed to go 1km away from the boat, and had to carry a document saying where we were going and why. Alcohol was banned, but shopping was allowed, and so was exercising. So that’s one for Lyn and one for Ju. We’ll let you work out who did what. You couldn’t even go swimming unless it was for essential boat maintenance. Ju found that a daily check of the anodes was essential and is pleased to be able to tell you that they are fine.

Normally a marina is a hive of activity, people coming and going and doing boat jobs. We’ve never known one to be so quiet and deserted.

Marina deserted

It was all a bit spooky.

But it didn’t last long. There have been remarkably few cases of the big C here, and no deaths we’re pleased to say. So it wasn’t long before the authorities were able to go from “Restez a la maison” (Stay at Home) to “Reste attentif,” (Stay Alert) status. They didn’t actually put it like that, but that was the gist. No one knew what it meant here either. But it seemed that things were pretty much back to normal. We still couldn’t go sailing, but at least we could go and visit the island.

And very nice it is too. The capital is Papeete, which among other things is famous for it’s graffiti.

1 Street Art 1

Though calling it graffiti seems to be underselling it a bit. Perhaps “Building Art,” or “Big Banksy?” Suggestions on a ten pound note to the usual address please.

2 Street Art 2

We went on an island tour with Cheryll and Martin from Zan.

3 A good looking group

The scenery is spectacular. 

6 Bay 2

It’s all really lush, with strange looking tropical flowers everywhere.

9 Nice flower

These are a beautiful couple

8 Double waterfall

…of waterfalls.

And there is an amazing feature called “The Blowhole.” You stand next to a bit of rock by the cliff, and all of a sudden…

4 Blowhole 2

…a blast of air shoots up through a hidden hole. We’re not quite sure why it happens, but it’s something to do with a big wave coming in from somewhere underneath the cliff.

Not only could we go exploring, but we could go SCUBA diving too.

1 Scuba 1

There’s a plane wreck which was quite fun to climb in and swim round.

2 Scuba plane 1

And we saw a stonefish.

4 Stonefish 2

Now the thing about a stonefish is that it looks exactly like a stone. Except it is one of the most poisonous fishes in the sea. You’re probably looking at this picture and thinking, “They’re having a laugh. There’s no fish there. That’s just a stone.” I would point out the stonefish to you with a little arrow, except I’ve forgotten which bit was the stone and which bit is the stonefish. But trust me, one of those bits of rock is actually a deadly fish. It’s got a row of hypodermic needles in its back which inject you with poison if you tread on it.

I remember an Australian divemaster telling me that if I ever trod on a stonefish, “…you have to get back to the boat as fast as you can. Go directly to the fridge and get yourself a can of Fosters. You might as well enjoy your last five minutes.”

Treading on a stonefish really spoils your day.

With so much time on our hands, Ju has taken the next level of SCUBA diving training, which is “Rescue Diver.” He’s half way through the course, so if you’re half drowning he can save you, but if you want to drown completely you’d better wait till next week.

One of the best days out we had was our trip to the lava tunnels with our friends from Next Step and Cloud Shadow. 

We thought it was just going to be a little stroll in the hills. It started off a bit bouncy, going up in a 4X4…

1 4X4 to the mountains

And all seemed pleasant enough.

2 The river

Then they said put on your helmets and wetsuits, and follow our Tahitian guide Herve, into the cave.

5 Into the cave 1

Hmmmm.

Still not too bad…

6 Into the cave 2

Then it got steeper…

7 Potholing 3

And wetter.

Wetter

And darker.

8 In the cave

But eventually we could see light at the end of the tunnel…

9 Potholing 1

And fairly soon were back in the sun.

11 Into the light

Only three more to go, says our guide. Which would have been ok, except to get the next one we had to inch along a cliff face, with a pretty vertical drop below.

12 Cliff face 2

Those of you who know how much Lyn hates heights will appreciate what an incredible act of bravery this is.

13 Cliff face 4

Woo woo! Go girl!

Ju’s not too keen on heights himself.

15 Cliff face 3

And if that wasn’t enough, next we had to go upwards….

18 Roping 3

Nearly there.

19 Roping 5

Well done Lyn. No excuses for not going up the mast now.

Ju’s turn next. Quietly confident.

22 Roping 4

Only two more left!

3 Waterfall 1

But soon we were at the top and all that was left to do was to trek right the way back down through the jungle.

23 Jungle trek

It was the most fantastic day out.

This is a video that Jeremy on Next Step made.

So that is our lockdown story. Just time for a gratuitous sunset

Sunset 3

And moonrise. 

Sunset 2

Or is that the sun? Graham – please let us know.

I think it is fair to say that of all the places in the world to be locked down, this is probably the best.

Not counting Kettering.

Hope lockdown isn’t too bad wherever you are.

Nana (That’s Tahiti for “bye”) for now.

Ju & Lyn

 

Domini’s Top Tips for Crossing the Pacific

Bonjour autre fois BatteauBlog® Fans,

We have just crossed The Pacific Ocean.

Well, that’s not quite true. We have crossed about half the Pacific Ocean, which is still a bloody long way. Further than The Atlantic in fact. We have just got in to Tahiti and all in all it was nearly 4,000 miles from The Galapagos. And quite an adventure it was. So without more ado, here are…

DOMINI’S TOP TIPS FOR CROSSING THE PACIFIC

If you’re crossing the Pacific, or anywhere else for that matter, Domini’s FIRST Top Tip is to book our friend Chris Tibbs to do your weather routing.

Chris

He is brilliant. For those landlubbers out there, a weather router not only does the weather forecast for where you are, but also tells you the best route to go to avoid all the storms and calms. Chris is famous in the yachting world, and has written all the top sailing weather books, worked for the Met Office, and as a sailor has gone round the world more times than the moon. So he’s coming along. As well as the routing for Domini, which he is particularly proud of, Chris does the routing for the Swiss Olympic Sailing Team. A role that we suspect he got because of a recommendation made here on the Boatblog®.

Don’t go to sea without him!

And Domini’s SECOND Top Tip for crossing the Pacific is Do It With the World ARC.

Oooh – controversial stuff!!! Lots of our sailor friends will disagree with this – you know who you are!

But let me tell you a story.

We almost didn’t get started on this, the longest leg of the World ARC. We were about to weigh the anchor and get ready to cross the start line, when we decided to do one last check of our emails. There was one from Catana, the people that made our boat. Apparently there was a recall on our escape hatches. Those are the little windows on the bottom of the boat that are there in case we should ever capsize and need to escape. Apparently the glass on some of these particular hatches has been falling out and we should definitely not put to sea until we had installed the modification kit – we could sink! Catana would send out the modification kit straight away, but it would take at least 10 days for it to arrive from France to The Galapagos. 

In the mean time they sent me a technical drawing of what I needed to do, in case I could make my own modification kit.

 

Screen Shot 2020 04 05 at 10 48 06

Ha ha ha ha ha!

What an earth is that?

Those of you that know Ju’s metalworking skills will realise that this is a completely meaningless piece of paper. All he could tell was that even if he could get the parts, he would still have to drill through the hatch glass, which filled everyone with horror. Bear in mind, Ju is the man who once plumbed the washing machine into the gas main.

So we were going to miss the start.

By at least ten days.

I called up WARC Rally Control on the VHF to tell them the bad news. And fortunately, some of the WARC fleet listened in to the conversation, in particular, Alan on Island Wanderer. Now Alan, in his previous life, had been an industrial engineer and owned a factory that made things out of metal, and he was able to look at the technical drawing as though it was a musical score and knew what it all meant. He explained it all Ju who nodded and tried not to look bewildered. If only we had the aluminium, Alan could knock it up in a couple of hours.

But where to get the aluminium!

Once again the fleet came up trumps. Karl on Remedy had been listening in to the VHF conversation too, and as it happened he had some spare aluminium on board. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, about half an hour later, Alan and Colin from Island Wanderer had set up a metal workshop in the children’s playground in Santa Cruz.

Playground Workshop

Once they’d made the parts that were needed, all Ju had to do was drill through the hatches and attach them.

Alan saw the fear in Ju’s eyes. 

What to do…?

Hatch mending

They came back to Domini and fitted them for us. Even though it meant delaying their own start.

Great Job

Great work Alan & Colin. Thank you very much. And thanks to Karl for the aluminium.

And it was a good job we fitted the modification. As it turned out, a few days into the crossing the glass from the hatch started to come away, and without these bits of aluminium, it would have fallen out.

For you landlubbers let me explain the enormity of what happened. We are on a tiny island, known more for it’s blue footed boobies than its metal work shops, and within five hours of receiving the email from Catana we had our hatches modified so we could put to sea. We couldn’t have done that if we had been in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, let alone in the middle of nowhere.

So off we went.

On first inspection, The Pacific is very similar to The Atlantic.

Sea View 3

Though to start off with there seemed to be more wildlife. We saw manta rays jumping, a couple of whales and loads of dolphins. As well as the usual flocks of flying fish. I’m afraid we didn’t get any pictures of them, as they are a bit fast, but we have lots of photos like this.

Sea View 2

And this.

IMG 4283

In fact four week’s worth of photos like this. But don’t worry Boatblog® fans – we won’t post them all.

Well – maybe some of the sunsets.

Sunset 1

We have to keep a twenty four hour watch, so we take it in turns through the night. Four hours on, four hours off.

Night falls

It was all going very nicely, when after a couple of weeks at sea and as we were nearing The Marquesas, a little island group in French Polynesia, we started getting emails from Rally Control. 

Unbeknown to us, the world had apparently caught the Corona Virus and had changed in ways we couldn’t begin to imagine. We could no longer stop in Hiva Oa, our intended landfall, as it was in lockdown and not accepting foreign boats. Which is fair enough. French Polynesia has quite a history of Europeans turning up with infectious diseases that wipe out the local populations. 

IMG 4316

So we couldn’t stop there, but apparently we could go to the island of Nuku Hiva instead. 

Off we went…

Pacific View 1

But then another message – the authorities had changed the rules again. French Polynesia were now shut to all inter-island traffic, planes, ferries and of course yachts. If we landed at Nuku Hiva, that is where we would have to stay. Rally Control advised going on to Papeete in Tahiti.

So we sent course for Tahiti, which was an extra 1,000 miles further on. The only problem now was that the wind was dropping, and even the mighty Chris Tibbs couldn’t do anything about that. Also, even with our reserve jerry cans, we were running low on fuel so we couldn’t just motor.

IMG 8019~photo

…and for a couple of days we had to bob about like the sailors of old caught in the Doldrums.

But the sunsets were still glorious.

Sunset at sea

And we met up again with Island Wanderer.

IMG 4328

You can just see them on the horizon.

It wasn’t long before we were going through The Tuamotus.

Tuamotus 2

These looked like the prettiest atolls ever, and it was terrible to have to just sail through them and not be allowed to land. 

We’ll be back.

Land Ahoy! Eventually, after 26 days at sea we saw Tahiti in the distance.

Land Ahoy

A welcome sight indeed.

Selfie

Not Ju, Tahiti.

Tahiti

Even the birds came to say, “Bonjour.”

Bird Welcome

When we arrived, we knew we were in France. Ju called up the marina to get our berth. It was five to twelve.

“I am sorry, you will ‘ave to anchor for a few hours.”

“Why?”

“It eez lunchtime.”

“We’ve been at sea for four weeks.”

“But it eez lunchtime.”

So we anchored and waited for the end of lunch. Bon appetit.

Arriving 

Domini’s THIRD Top Tip for crossing the Pacific is Don’t Run Out of Tea. Just as we were preparing to leave The Galapagos, we realised that our supply of PG Tips was running low. It was looking like we would have to ration our cups of tea on the way across!  Andrew & SWade from Rally Control to the rescue. They were heading back to the UK, and said we could have the last of their teabags.

Now THAT is life saving stuff.

IMG 8046

Cheers!

So here we are, on lockdown in Papeete. There’s definitely worse places to be locked down – Brentford for example. And relatively speaking we are pretty safe from Corona Virus. So far there have only been 40 confirmed cases on the island – let’s hope it stays that way. The problem is that if you do actually get it, there’s not much in the way of medical facilities. The ventilator is a bicycle pump and a large balloon, so the key thing is taking note of all the quarantine measures, which the people here are taking pretty seriously. Let me explain just how seriously.

They have banned the sale of alcohol.

IMG 4426

Pas du vin. Pas du biere. Pas du anything.

For a French country, it doesn’t get much more serious than that.

Unfortunately we are not allowed off the boat apart from to go to the supermarche. It’s quite frustrating to able to see paradise but not to be able to visit it.

But still, it’s a nice view as the sun goes down.

View from the marina

Au revoir for now, nos amis.

Ju & Lyn

PS This Post is dedicated to Danny, our little cat.

We had the sad news from Dave and Ali during the crossing that Danny had died.

Danny

Night night Danny. 

The Galapagos…again!

Yes Boatbloggers®

We know The Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime place to go, but we here on the good ship Domini have done it twice. This time with a difference. This time the whole gang came out.

Everyone really

So we won’t bore you with all the usual photos of the Galapagan wildlife – you can see all that in our previous blog – but we’ll try to show you some of the things we got up to.

Of course it wouldn’t be a holiday in Los Galapagos if you didn’t do some diving. Here’s Joe, Ju & Rory about to jump…

3 Divers

Joe completed his PADI training course while he was here, so he’s now a qualified diver. Well done Joe!

Ben and Joe on boat

There is an enormous amount of fish. We even swam inside a baitball which is literally millions of fish all swimming around in a huge ball to protect themselves from the sharks and other things that want to eat them.

Baitball

We just hope that this isn’t the time the shark decides to raid the baitball.

Ok – so I said no pictures of wildlife, but this one of the rays is pretty good.

Rays 1

Here’s Rory…

Rory Diver 2

But it wasn’t all under the water. We sailed (well…motored if we’re honest) from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, and stopped for a bit of deep water swimming off the back of the boat on the way.

Deep sea swimming

You can’t do a blog about the Galapagos without mentioning the Giant Tortoises.

Tortoise 2

And they are pretty massive.

Tortoise 1

Here’s one for the caption competition.

Tortoise fighting

Answers on a ten pound note to the usual address, and the winner gets to take the crew of Domini out for a slap up meal.

And now the Boatblog® quiz.

Q: How do Giant Tortoises make love?

Tortoise humping

A: Slowly.

It’s only when you try on the shells that you realise what an achievement it is.

Press ups

We also went down the nearby lava tunnels. It was a bit wet, so they made us all wear wellies.

Boots 2

Which you did need.

Cave

Because it was quite deep.

Sink hole

We went surfing…

Surfing

Hiked up to the top of the volcanos.

Alice knackered

Till the mist rolled in.

Mist

But sadly it wasn’t all just fun and games. Ben, who is a professional coder (for those of you over fifty, that’s something to do with computers) unfortunately had to do some work while he was over here.

Ben working 2

And we found time to enjoy a drink or two. This one was particularly popular,

Clitoris cocktail

because it is made out of this flower, which has a rather surprising name.

Clitoris flower

I’m afraid you’ll have to figure it out for yourselves, but here’s a clue. It is called what it is called, because that is what it resembles. Though only if you are ill.

We took lots of photos. 

Rory

Especially of people taking photos.

Oh – I can’t resist any longer. Here’s some photos of the wildlife. First up, a marine iguana…

Iguana

A sleeping sea lion. Or as they call them over here, a sea wolf.

Sealion 1

Despite our best efforts with the fenders, this cheeky one got onto the boat.

Sealion 2

Here’s one of Darwin’s finches.

Finch

At least we think it is. They all look a bit the same to us. Which I guess is why we didn’t come up with a theory about evolution.

Talking of which, you have to hand it to the Seventh Day Adventists. They’ve just built a church right in the middle of town.

Creationists

Given that they’re all Creationists, they’re trying hard taking the message right to the heathen heartland.

Here’s a heron. 

Heron

Not the most unique of birds, but it’s still a nice picture. And here’s a dancing booby.

Booby

And now, can you guess what Lyn & Alice have just seen?

Wow

Answer below.

In the mean time, here is this edition’s gratuitous sunset, submitted by Rory.

Sunset

And a turtle especially for James.

Turtle 2

But our favourite photo is of Ju & Joe by Troels on SV Atreju. Thanks Troels

Image1

And now here’s the answer to the “What Did Lyn & Alice Just See?” quiz.

R040221

Hasta luego Boatblog® fans. And let’s face it, you must be fans if you’ve got this far.

Next stop, The Marquesas. We leave on Wednesday (4th March) and it’s quite a big crossing. Actually longer than the Atlantic so don’t forget to track us on…

https://www.worldcruising.com/world_arc/eventfleetviewer.aspx

Ju & Lyn