Sunday, December 31, 2017

Kitty and Joe Visit CINNABAR

Four Islands in Eighteen Days - Tahiti to Moorea to Huahine to Bora Bora

Our friends Kitty and Joe came to visit us in September/October and we made some epic memories during their visit. Here are some of the highlights:

They started off with a few days in Tahiti enjoying a cool bungalow with views of the sunset and whales off their reef. We did an excellent island tour and drove all the way around the island. 

We hiked up to the Cascades de Faarumai...

...and Kitty discovered soursops at the fruit smoothie stand.

After they checked out of their bungalow and they moved onto CINNABAR, where they deposited the requisite booze and boat parts that they'd brought for us, we readied the boat for the 4-hour sail to Mo'orea.

After sailing to Mo'orea from Tahiti, (and practically sailing right over a mother humpback whale and her calf!) we had a marathon snorkeling day and took Kitty and Joe to all our favorite snorkeling spots. Unfortunately, once back at the boat Kitty came down with a crazy case of hypothermia. We thought. She had a bad case of the shakes and shivers and we warmed her up with some blankets and hot tea. 

Hot shower, hot towel, hot tea, warm Polynesia??

But that night and the next day, which was our scheduled scooter island tour, she still was not herself. Hmmm...

Quintessential OWB shot. Kitty's trying to rally.

Kitty said she was up for the scooter adventure so off we scooted to tour the island, but try as she might, it was obvious she wasn't her usual peppy self, so when we drove by a pharmacy and I saw a doctor's name I recognized we pulled in for a (hopefully) quick check. In French Polynesia there is almost always a doctor's office associated with a pharmacy, in this case I had actually spoken with this particular doctor over the phone about another matter. Long story short, after examining her, Doctor Bouchet announced Kitty had SEPSIS (which is an internal bacterial infection) and he put her on antibiotics. Yikes! Thank goodness we stopped to see him. 

(May I rant for a moment? We stopped at the doctor's office, no appointment, no "pre-approval", just as he was locking up for lunch. He went back into his office to examine kitty, check her vitals, etc. We were there about 30 minutes while he gave Kitty his full attention, made his diagnosis and wrote out the prescriptions. Cost of visit - equal to $36.00. Compare that to a doctor's visit in the USA. Just sayin'.)

After the examination Kitty felt well enough to continue the scooter tour. 

She felt well enough to schmooze with this young hunk and get him to carve out some fresh coconut meat for her. Way to go Kitty!

However, it would be total rest for Kitty for the next few days. 

Unfortunately she would miss one of the epic highlights of their visit. The day after Kitty's diagnosis a group of cruisers in our anchorage had booked a tour on a highly recommended whale-watching boat. The local guide was very in tune with the behavior of the humpbacks and he put us close to a mother and her calf. Even though the day was overcast with big wind chop we all slid quietly into the water and then kicked like crazy, following our guide who led us to the whales. While Mom was taking a nap about 50 feet below us, Baby frolicked on the surface, practicing its turns and dives and trying to engage us in playing with it. It was, and I don't use the "A" words lightly, Amazing and Awesome. 

Joe filming a baby humpback in Mo'orea. 

A very big baby.

We were able to have several encounters with these whales and it was quite an afternoon. We got a lot of exercise with all that kicking in choppy water and I even blew out the purge valve of my snorkel. (Or maybe I just stepped on it.)

The next morning we could see some activity on the nearby beach. People were erecting tents, bringing in armfuls of palm fronds and flowers, and setting up booths for vendors and musicians. We decided to dinghy into the beach to investigate. Turns out it was International Tourist Day in French Polynesia and the Mo'orea tourist bureau was having its festival right on our beach! 

Music all day long

We spent the day sampling food, smelling flowers, listening to a variety of local musical groups, watching studly young men in loincloths climb trees to pick coconuts and learning about the art of making jewelry and flower leis. We even got to paddle with the #1 Mo'orean paddling team. What a fun day!!

Tom gettin' it done.

We had been looking at the weather and felt that an evening departure the following day would be the last chance to do an overnight sail to Huahine before some big winds and swells would hit the islands. 

We left on schedule on a Thursday evening just after sunset in the peaceful lee of Mo'orea (i.e. the island protected us from the wind and waves), but as soon as CINNABAR poked her nose out of Mo'orea's lee we knew we were in for a night of wind and waves. 
Looks so calm. About 10 minutes later it was jackets, harnesses and tethers to keep us attached to the boat.

CINNABAR was was going so fast, even with her mainsail reefed down (sail area reduced by lowering and securing), that we eventually completely stowed the mainsail away and sailed through the night using only the jib (smaller sail in front). 

We took turns being on watch with two up at a time. Tom and Kitty were in charge for a couple of hours and then it was Joe and Sylvia, and so on throughout the night. It was a tiring but fun night when we decided to give the autopilot a break and hand-steer down the big swells. Joe and Kitty did a great job and as we sailed into the calm, familiar anchorage of Fare, Huahine the next morning we all agreed we'd gotten our money's worth with the previous night's E-Ticket ride. 

A rejuvenating lunch at the Mai Tai Lapita Village resort in Huahine

Every island in The Societies has its own personality. While Tahiti and Mo'orea are heavily visited by tourists, Huahine has a more laid-back surf-town type vibe. It does have resorts, just not as many. We saw only one resort with OWBs (Over Water Bungalows) and it was tucked discretely into a private bay. 

A land-tour company had been highly recommended to us. In fact it was the company that had conducted a tour for the Obamas (and group of Oprah, Springsteen, Tom Hanks, etc.) in April of 2017.

Manava feeds the sacred blue-eyed eels.

Manava, our guide, gave us an extensive and personal tour of the island, concentrating on Polynesian culture, history and anthropology. 

Recently a large tree fell over and it exposed a previously unknown ancestral tomb. These skulls are well-hidden from hikers.

After spending a couple of days enjoying the town of Fare we sailed down to Avea Bay on the SW side of the island. We grabbed a mooring next to a resort and enjoyed their free wi-fi and facilities for a few days. Tom even had a chance to get some kiting in. 

Tom teaches Joe how to help him launch the kite.

Kitty and Joe were keen to add Bora Bora to their repertoire. It is only a half-day sail from Huahine and CINNABAR managed to zip over there in only three hours! 

Our friends Katie and Mike on PANGAEA, (last seen in Papeete) were waiting for us in the mooring field anchorage just off the famous Bloody Mary's Tiki Bar so it was fun to see them again and introduce them to Joe and Kitty.

They brought us some croissants and baguettes even though it was pouring rain. (Mike, your baguette's a little limp. Just sayin'.)

PANGAEA had been in Bora Bora for a couple of weeks and had discovered the best snorkeling and kiting spots so it was great to have our own personal adventure guides. Joe and Kitty only had a few days in Bora Bora so we packed as much into those days as we could.

All trips must come to an end, and our friends finished theirs up by treating us to a fantastic farewell dinner at the famous Bloody Mary's Tiki Bar.

Throwin' the shaka at Bloody Mary's. Hey look, even the barender's toasting us.

The next day they caught a taxi into town where they would catch the free ferry to the Bora Bora airport for their short flight back to Papeete to catch their long flight back to Los Angeles.

NOTE: Cruisers have a motto that we can tell visitors WHERE, or WHEN we will be, but rarely can we tell them both where AND when we will be somewhere, so be prepared to island hop one or both ways.

Looking back on this past cruising season we can honestly say we were very blessed with all our visitors. They were incredible guests who actively participated in making our own fun.  

Joe and Kitty, Mike and Linda, Merci Beaucoup for helping to make 2017 a memorable cruising season for CINNABAR.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life in the Tropics - If You Want a Rainbow You Gotta Have Rain

Photo by Katie of s/v PANGAEA

Cinnabar is currently moored in Bora Bora off of the Bloody Mary's Tiki Bar dock. The internet here is not good so we haven't had a chance to post updates. Our friends Kitty and Joe came for a visit and we had a GREAT time. More on that later when we sort through the pictures.

Kitty and Joe were in Bora Bora with us for a few days before they flew home and weather-wise they left just in time. For the past week we've had lots of rain and big winds with some of the rain pouring constantly for over 24 hours! 

Our friends aboard s/v PANGAEA were able to take the above picture of CINNABAR between squalls. I guess you don't get a rainbow unless you have rain. We are all having a good laugh at the tourist brochures that show only sunny, glorious weather in Bora Bora.

All is well aboard the good ship CINNABAR.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Mike and Linda visit CINNABAR

What do Mike and Linda have and why is it wrapped up so tightly in their snorkeling gear??? Read on to find out.

We were thrilled to have our friends, Mike and Linda from the SF Bay Area, visit Cinnabar. We cleaned the boat in preparation and the day before they arrived Tom borrowed the marina bicycle to refill one of our propane tanks and get six gallons of diesel to top off the tank.

A bomb on two wheels, tank of propane in the backpack and jug of diesel on the back of the bike. Tom rode very carefully.

The next morning Mike and Linda showed up bright and early. We walked over to my favorite pastry shop for some coffee and pastries...

Linda had the beautiful apple pastry and I had the spiky-looking yuzu meringue tart. YUM!! (photo by Linda)

...took a tour through the big market, and spent the rest of the day seeing Papeete and opening up all the packages of goodies that Mike and Linda brought for us. Some of the items were boat parts that we ordered and had shipped to them, some of the items were tasty treats to eat and drink.

This is what Mike and Linda packed inside their snorkel gear. All bottles arrived intact. Booze is very expensive in French Poly, for example a bottle Cuervo is at least $75.00.

The next day we left the marina and had a wonderful sail over to the neighboring island of Moorea. The tall, green peaks and clear water make it a beautiful place to anchor, snorkel, hike and sightsee.

Capt Mike drives Cinnabar into Opunohu Bay, Moorea.
The weather was very cooperative during their visit, not too hot, not too windy, not too rainy. Perfect really.

We spent a lot of time in the water and did some terrific snorkeling inside the reef. We visited "Stingray City", home to numerous large stingrays and black-tipped reef sharks. 

Lots of sharks and rays! (photo by Mike)

We also snorkeled "The Tikis", where someone had placed a number of large tikis in the shallow water to form artificial reefs for small fish.  Luckily for us some of the best snorkeling was at the reef right off our boat, so all we had to do was jump in the water and swim toward shore, which Mike did every morning.

While we were there our friend Rob from TIGER BEETLE sailed over to Moorea from Tahiti. We all know Rob from our racing days in San Francisco so it was fun to reunite in an exotic location.

Mike and Rob dinghy to the snorkel site. (photo by Mike)

One of the highlights of their visit was the day we rented scooters and circumnavigated the island.
Mike and Tom dubbed our scooters "the gutless wonders". No comparison to their Harley and Ducati back home, sorry.

We drove up to Belvedere Peak for the fantastic view. We visited the Agricultural School to taste some fresh juice and tropical jams. We rode all around the checking out the sights and resorts... 

Linda and Mike in picturesque Moorea

...and eventually ended up at the excellent Moorea Beach Club for an outstanding lunch.

Moorea Beach Club - VERY nice place.

Tom strikes his "red carpet" pose at the Moorea Beach Club. (photo by Linda)

The week that Mike and Linda spent aboard CINNABAR flew by and before we knew it it was time to get them back to Tahiti. There is a ferry that runs between Moorea and Tahiti several times a day so we hired a taxi to run them down to the terminal on the other side of the island. It was hard to say goodbye and it truly felt like something was missing aboard CINNABAR after they left.

"Sans Toilette" award. Well done Mike!!

On their last day Tom presented Mike with an award to commemorate Mike's exceptional fastidiousness in minimizing use of some key boat systems in order to prevent wear, tear and breakdown. This is something only a truly dedicated sailor could pull off.

ALBUM: Mike and Linda

Epilogue: About a week after they left us we got an email from Linda...Mike had contracted dengue fever (from a mosquito) while on the trip. Yikes! Mike, we hope you feel better soon and thank you for saying you'd do the trip again in a heartbeat. 

You guys are welcome anytime!!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Spectacle de Feux D'Artifice - FIREWORKS!!

Last week when we were anchored in Opunohu Bay, Moorea, we shared the bay with the small cruise ship The Paul Gauguin, which carries about 300 passengers. The Gauguin does deluxe cruises throughout The Societies, Marquesas, Tuamotus and Cook Islands. Usually The Gauguin leaves its anchorage in the late afternoon, around 4:00 p.m. so that it can overnight to the next island. But this one night The Gauguin remained in Moorea; we could see its bright lights as the patrons enjoyed their dinners aboard. 

After dinner and when it was very dark we suddenly we heard a loud KABOOM and ensuing percussion as the sound echoed off the nearby mountains. What the???? We popped up on deck to see what had exploded and were treated to a a waterfall of incendiary light that looked like it was falling over the cruise ship. 

We could see that a big barge had motored out to an area right between us and The Paul Gauguin and was setting off fireworks right in front of us. Our very own fireworks show! 

The show went on for a good 15 minutes at least and the pyrotechnics were excellent. The spectacle seemed even more exciting than usual considering we were "out in the middle of nowhere" and with the loud booms reverberating off the mountains behind us.

The barge, overshadowed by The Paul Gauguin, begins the grand finale.

It was a fantastic surprise and we enjoyed the heck out of it. After the show many of the boats in the anchorage, Cinnabar included, honked their loud horns as a show of thanks.

The Paul Gauguin remained in the bay for the evening and departed Moorea the next day, bound for her final destination of Papeete.

We are also now in Papeete, waiting for our friends Mike and Linda to arrive for a visit. When they board Cinnabar we'll head back to Moorea for some snorkeling and other fun.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Moorea - A Visit To The Shrimp Farm

Opunohu Bay, Moorea

Eat me!!

We are in Moorea, Tahiti's neighbor to the east. We are currently anchored in a large bay called Opunohu, on the north side of the island. It is the quintessential South Pacific anchorage, with the reef and open ocean on one side of us and green, verdant peaks on the other. Moorea is a popular tourist destination and there are many things to do here.

We heard there was a shrimp farm at the end of Opunohu bay and that they sold fresh shrimp there on Wednesdays. I was keen to take advantage of this opportunity so on Wednesday morning, while Tom was up to his ears replacing the bearings in our two fresh water pumps, I hopped into our dinghy "QUICKIE" to see if I could find the farm. Kate from PANGAEA accompanied me.

We are anchored at the mouth of the bay, so it was a bit of a ride to reach our destination at the far end. As we approached the end of the bay we could see quite a bit of activity across the street from the beach, which we surmised was the shrimp farm. We beached QUICKIE, tied it to a tree to secure it, and made our way over to the action.

Kate at the shrimp farm. Belvedere peak in the background. (We didn't want to leave the oars in the dinghy.)

We entered a warehouse-type building and a friendly lady told us to go out to the lagoons where they were gathering our shrimp. Cool! We joined a number of other people, mostly locals but with a few cruisers like ourselves in the mix, and watched two men pull in a large net which was stretched across the square lagoon. 

The net stretched across the lagoon

They slowly pulled it the length of the lagoon and then, when they reached the end, started gathering the ends to contain all the shrimp, which were hopping around trying to escape the net. Meanwhile, a flock of terns was wheeling overhead trying to take advantage of the frenzy of leaping shrimps. It was quite a scene.

The warehouse lady helped the men pull in the net. Note terns dive-bombing the operation.

When the net was gathered into a corner they used dip nets to collect the shrimp into large buckets which they wheeled into the warehouse where they would weigh and bag the shrimp.

Scooping the shrimps into bags...

...and weighing them out into kilos.

Packing the kilo bags with ice.

Kate and I stood in line, purchased our kilo bags and made our way back to the dinghy on the beach. As we dinghied back to our boats we were treated to the company of a dolphin who decided to amuse itself by playing in our bow wake.

As soon as I was on Cinnabar I set a pot of water on the stove and got it boiling. I boiled the shrimps for 3 minutes (as instructed by the people at the farm).

Once the shrimp had cooled it took me about 1.5 hours to peel and clean all the shrimp, 40 in all. It was now past lunchtime and Tom was eyeballing those plump little shrimp, so I whipped up a cocktail sauce and we indulged in some shrimps and fresh baguette for a late lunch. 

That night I sauteed the rest of the shrimp with lots of garlic and tarragon, scampi-style, and served it up with roasted garlic spread on toast points. Yum!!!

Pile 'O Shrimp

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Papeete, Pals, Pompiers and Heiva

The outstanding street art in Papeete. This one was so beloved it was made into a postal stamp.

We've been in Papeete for over a month, taking care of boat repairs/upgrades, visiting with friends, and seeing the sights of beautiful Papeete.

Our marina neighbors aboard BIG FISH showing off their outside fuel tank. We met these guys last year in Fakarava. Adrien (right) is the local kiting instructor.
One night we were enjoying the sunset behind the mega-yacht Ethereal who was doing sail maintenance.

Then we noticed this guy WAY at the top. Bet he had a good view.

Upon arriving in Papeete our first order of business was to have a new lazy bag, aka stackpack, constructed for Cinnabar. Our old mainsail cover was in shreds and our huge mainsail, brand new, crisp and slippery, was almost impossible to handle the old-fashioned way by flaking it on the boom. Almost all the cruising boats that don't have in-mast or in-boom furling seem to use these long boom bags that double as sail covers. The idea is that you drop the mainsail directly into the bag and then zip it closed.

We had contracted Tahiti Sails last season to make the bag and put us on their schedule since we knew we'd be here during the "high season", and boy was it crowded at the downtown City Marina when we arrived. We came smack in the middle of the Pacific Puddle Jump fleet who were all waiting to do the popular Tahiti-To-Moorea Sail Rally held at the end of every June. Additionally, this year there was also a big Oyster fleet doing a group circumnavigation and many of them happened to be there too.

Sebastien measures the sail for the new lazy bag.

Sebastian from Tahiti Sails came out to measure CINNABAR for her new "outfit". We provided the fabric and special Tenara thread which we transported aboard SHINDIG when we did the Puddle Jump earlier this year. 

Sebastien finally installs the finished cover weeks after his first measurements.

Cinnabar's new look, no more sail hanging over the boom, now it's all on top.

We had also noticed a small leak in one of our main cabin windows during a heavy rain, so one of Tom's first projects was to remove the old sealant (sticky, gooey and black) from all four windows, tape off the windows, and re-seal them. Luckily the glue that was holding them in place was still good so he didn't have to remove them for the job.

NOT a fun task but Tom did a great job.

This was a several-day project, very messy, but the end result was perfect as all the windows passed the shooting-water-at-them test.

One of my projects was to purchase some tropical material and make cushion covers for our exterior and interior cushions. So Cinnabar got a new facelift inside as well as out. 

Many thanks to TUMBLEWEED who loaned me their machine.

One night we were surprised when a stranger stopped by to introduce himself. Turns out it was Josh from North Sails New Zealand who had sold us our new sails last year. He was working for North Sails when they made our original sails in 2001. He was on his way to Nuku Hiva to do a major sail repair on a huge yacht. He noticed Cinnabar in the marina and offered to go sailing with us on his way back home to check out the new sails.

Josh is a great guy and we appreciated him spending time with us. That's what we call great customer service!
There are many festivals and sports events in Tahiti throughout the year and one of the most important is the Heiva, a month-long celebration of Tahitian dance, music, culture and sports. Last year we missed Papeete's Heiva, so this year we were determined to enjoy some of the festivities. The climax to Heiva is the big dance and music competition held in July, but there were many other activities leading up to this that start in June.

Random parade in honor of Heiva
This Polynesian beauty was more interested in me than the parade.
My dock neighbor told me about a celebration of crafts, called Heiva Rima'i, representing the five archipelagos of French Polynesia, so one day at the end of June I took off my sandals, donned my walking shoes, and walked the 1.5 miles from the marina to the fairgrounds. The grounds were filled with tents where people were selling crafts unique to their archipelago. I saw booths filled with pearl jewelry, woven goods, colorful dresses, quilts, pillows, shell jewelry, hats, etc. 

French Polynesia is known for its beautiful woven products.

As I wandered around enjoying the sights a nice woman grabbed me and put me in a long line. Turns out it was a line for a traditional Marquesan buffet filled with breadfruit in different forms, small steamed crabs, bananas prepared different ways, and other things that were a mystery to me.

The Marquesan buffet reminded me that the cuisine from this island group was not our favorite
A woman handed me a large leaf to use as a plate and then put various items onto it. Quite frankly none of it was very tasty and I worried about those little crabs sitting out all day so I slyly slipped it into the trash at the first opportunity. 

On my way back to the marina I passed a large park filled with all of Papeete Fire Department's vehicles and boats. It was kid's day and hordes of children were climbing all over the trucks and taking tours. I stopped to check out the water rescue demonstration which was very interesting. 

Les Pompiers (firemen) and kids enjoying the water rescue

Eventually many of the Puddle Jump and Oyster Rally boats left for the big party in Moorea, so the marina calmed down a bit. Our friends PANGAEA and TUMBLEWEED arrived and it was fun to hang out with them and hear about their journey from the Marquesas, through the Tuamotus, and on to Tahiti. 

Mojito night with Kate and Mike (PANGAEA) and Douglas and Morgan (TUMBLEWEED)

We had some very fun times introducing our friends to Papeete, everything from showing them the best marine supply stores to Girl's Day Out lunches, walks, shopping and enjoying Papeete's fantastic street art. 

We celebrated Kate's birthday at the wonderful cafe La Perchoir, Betsy (ALCYONE), Kate (PANGAEA), Sylvia, and Annie, Kate's visiting friend from Colorado (Photo courtesy of PANGAEA)

Interesting street art at an apartment's entrance
This beautiful piece also decorates an apartment bldg

The highlight for Tom was when he and Mike from PANGAEA took the bus to Point Venus for a day of kiting. 

Our friends aboard SHINDIG, who had stayed longer in the Tuamotus for some good kiting, eventually arrived and it was terrific to spend time with Rob and Nancy again. When they arrived and I went aboard SHINDIG it felt just like home. Imagine that!

The cruisers who had been at the Heiva dance competitions last year raved about them, so we purchased tickets to some of the shows. 

Kate and Sylvia all dolled up for Heiva. 

The shows were nothing less than amazing. Picture at least 100 dancers, men and women, dancing for an hour, with several costume changes, and all the costumes made by hand most of which were woven with leaves, bark and flowers. The women shook their hips so fast it was a blur, all the while moving around on their toes keeping their upper bodies so still, except for graceful hand movements, that it looked like they were floating, not walking. 

The groups went through several costume changes. Who wove all those fantastic costumes? (photo courtesy of Info Tahiti)

Meanwile the men were bounding around, shaking their knees while doing squats and other things that seemed physically impossible for such long periods of time. 

This guy won first place in the men's solo dance. (photo courtesy of Info Tahiti)
All this dancing took place to a large orchestra of drums (various kinds), singing, ukuleles, and nose flutes pounding out a tribal beat that was truly primal and enthralling. The last show we saw was the last night of Heiva. We paid $20 each to see FOUR dance/music groups perform for six hours! We had never seen anything like this spectacle and were completely blown away. 

On our last night we were fortunate enough to see the woman who took first place in the solo dance because her troupe, the 2nd place overall winners, were performing that night. A MUST - Check out this stunning video of her (eat your hearts out Shakira and Beyonce): Hauhani Taputu, best dancer

Now we are doing some final tasks and provisioning in the comfort of Papeete's marina because in a day or so we'll sail over to nearby Moorea which we hear has some fantastic snorkeling and possibly diving. We're looking forward to exploring some new locations in anticipation of our friends Mike and Linda who will arrive to visit us in just three weeks. Inspired by Heiva, Linda and I are already making plans to weave our own outfits.