Saturday, 13 February 2021

MAPS AND PHOTOS


Taipan's Photo Albums 

Taipans Iridium tracker. Its supposed to be live updates.  If you would like to see the weather live you have to go to the top left of the screen and the little cog will give you a drop-down menu enabling you to load the current weather.

Heres another link to Cruisers Sat Net tracker.


 Link to Taipans Anchorages and Map.



I will update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position.



Monday, 30 November 2020

CHASING SQUALLS. THERE AND BACK TO SEE HOW FAR IT IS. November 28th 2020

 

Beautiful Avea Bay Huahine. Drone photo by Jocke PerssonFurusten

We're back in Papeete Marina after a 900nm round trip to nowhere! It'd have been OK if it had at least been a successful fishing trip but we didn’t have a single bite. Squalls, of which there were many, were our only source of wind so rather than avoid them we were chasing them. The night squalls were unpredictable as we couldn’t see them without the radar which had decided to go AWOL in spite of having reported for duty prior to departure!. So the trip was main up…furlers out... furlers in..furlers reefed...main reefed…motor on… motor off. Repeat….repeat for 8 days


Trip to nowhere.

Leaving beautiful Tahaa on the 6th of November bound for Australia was a risk we decided to take in order to make it home to WA this year. The cyclone season had commenced, although it's very unlikely a system would develop this early. We planned to make a straight run for Southport on the southern Queensland coast. 3200nm. All our ducks were in a row. We had clearance to arrive in Oz and Quarantine Exemption permission. The new Mainsail and halyard were installed and ready to go sailing. Extra fuel jerrys were filled to get us into the wind, which was possibly as long as 4 days away. 




The first 4 days were predicted to be very light and it fulfilled that prophecy, but we watched in dismay as weather systems develop ahead of us with the potential wind dying and continuing to die ahead of us for the forthcoming fortnight. (The extent of forecasting.) There was a Tropical Depression forecast to develop just at the extreme of the forecast and unless we could make 140nm a day our weather router advised we would be caught in it. With the lack of wind, we couldn’t guarantee 140nm a day motoring for 12 days so 400 miles out we decided to turn around and head back to Raiatea. The only wind we saw on the trip was that night with an unpleasant 20+ over the deck on the nose whipping up a short steep sea in the inevitable counter current. The rest of the return trip was slow and rolly to begin, but settled as we approached Raiatea south pass on Friday the 13th! After a 24hour rest, we decided to head onto Papeete overnight.



The Staysail furler had detached during that first night we turned back and we needed some welding done. In order to get to the tang, we needed to disable the windlass, which meant anchoring was risky. Papeete marina had pens available so on Sunday the 15th we tied up and plugged in the airconditioning!!!



A month previously we had to abort our departure to Oz. When we hauled the anchor, the windlass stopped with the anchor just 4 meters from the deck. So we re-anchored to repair the solenoid failure. When David was packing the main away the aft edge of the sail came away in his hand! We also noticed a wire coming adrift on a forward lower!! Things happen in 3s!  The sail had done 36,000nm and had been on the boat since South Africa 7 years previously. It showed no signs of wear so we were quite dismayed. In hindsight, we did get a very good run out of that sail and it was good to the death. No repairs or money spent on it.  The forward lowers, 7 years old. Not so happy. The windlass solenoid was just 2 years old. Not happy. 




A new sail was ordered from North Sails in South Africa, who built our old and we had it aboard in 3 weeks. An excellent outcome. The shrouds were replaced with new ones made up by Fenua Rigging in Tahiti and flown into Fare, Huahine. While we waited for the new Main we wiled away time in Avea Bay with lots of swimming and snorkelling. "Sea Rose",  Brian and Sue, very old friends from way back in Thailand, caught us there and after a week or so we moved on with them to circumnavigate Tahaa and Raiatea The new sail was shipped over to Huahine from Tahiti and we went back to pick that up and fit it.



Highlights of the circumnavigation of Tahaa and Raiatea were BBQs on deserted Motus, snorkelling the Coral Garden, Rum Distillery, Taputapuatea Mare: a World Heritage site, and a wonderful day upriver at the Botanic Gardens and fruit farm. Excellent company and lots of interesting experiences to fill the days.





Covid numbers increased as tourists and French workers were permitted to re-enter French Polynesia back in May. As I write French Polynesia has the most active cases per head of population in the world. Tahiti is the worst island, closely followed by the remainder of the Society Islands. Extreme vigilance by ourselves and most yachties means that socializing has been quite limited. Our cockpit is not big enough to allow the required social distancing so our friends list as shrunk considerably. 




Taputapuatea The cradle of Ma'ohi civilization Link to more info 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taputapuatea_marae


Some of the beautiful heliconia  and  ginger at the Botanic Gardens
More about Heliconia

We now plan to wait out cyclone season and have another go at it next year. Not such an onerous undertaking. Plans going forward as to our whereabouts are sketchy. Cyclone season here is predicted to be mild with a well developed la Nina. Possibly we will head east again to the Marquesas via the Tuamotos …. or we may just go and hang out in Avea Bay. If you get curious you can always check our map or tracker 


Tuatau anchorage at the south end of Raiatea.


Taipans Anchorages

Taipans Tracker


Meanwhile, we await the completion of a few repairs whilst enjoying some air-conditioning and a little very careful retail therapy and social interactions with a couple of other boats. 

Best wishes to everyone for a jolly ol' festive season wherever you may be. Be safe.



Raiatea Southern End

Andre and his family farm a little further inland and opposite the Botanic Gardens. He welcomes visitors and sells fruits and vegetables in season, as well as providing an interesting free tour.






Cruising Guide by Dream Yacht Charters for Raiatea, Bora Bora, Tahaa, Huahine.


Thursday, 3 September 2020

SAILING THE SOCIETY ISLANDS. PRIVILEGE IN THESE DIFFICULT TIMES 1st September 2020

 


Marae at Huahine

I left you with the news that we were headed from Morea to Tahiti to commence departure planning, implying that we were heading to Australia. This was definitely the plan at the time



Kris n David Island style

So much has already been written about the difficulties encountered around the world during the pandemic but we've been fortunate to be in French Polynesia throughout. We were lucky to not be separated in different countries when I had to fly back to Western Australia in January and then encountered difficulties with my return due to a Visa mix up. An injury forced us to rush to Tahiti from Nuku Hiva, causing us to miss the Tuamotos, a vast cruising area of atolls to the east of Tahiti.



Tracks between Huahine and Raitea Tahaa. 

Subsequent lockdown in Papeete coincided with my back injury recovery and thus didn't inconvenience us much at all. We were able to fit in annual bottom maintenance on the hard before the end of lockdown. We were ready to head out as soon as it was announced that travel within the Archipelago was permitted. 



To stay or to go??

Our first destination was Moorea, just a 15nm west. Then our promised return to Tahiti. By now French Polynesia was totally CV19 free. Everything was normal except the country was closed to the world. Destinations to the west remained closed but there were promising signs of Fiji opening up to yachts.  So we decided to wait it out. With the weather particularly unfavourable because the big southerly systems heading well north this year we were pleased we did. Watching the progress of some boats which chose to head directly to Aus was enough to convince us that waiting was the better option. Added to the long sail, Australias forced Quarantine for all international arrivals without any consideration of sea time was another reason for delaying our departure. 



My ideal beach shack

Australian Border Force regulations count sea time from the last port but Health Authorities in each state has been given the power to impose their own rules. Their stupidity would choke a horse!! One couple spent 35 days alone at sea, nonstop from Tahiti (COVID Free for 2 months), and were forced to quarantine in a Queensland hotel for 14 days. This was not an isolated incident. The rules were not applied consistently and occasionally we would hear of sailors who were not forced to quarantine on arrival. The application of the rules seems indiscriminate which is also very annoying.


Huahine

Our current anchorage is the red spot at the bottom. Avea bay

So here we are, still in French Polynesia, which has opened borders and has CV cases rising. Were are not worried about that so much, as we are fortunate to be able to keep contact to a real minimum. Huahine is located 86nm NW of Morea and we made the overnight passage arriving on July 5th  Huahine has a population of only 6000. There is an excellent supermarket and we try to load up and stay on anchor somewhere remote for weeks at a time.



Taipan is visited by whales in Fare, The small town on Huahine

Our favourite bay, Avea, is at the southern end of the island and it has a long white sandy beach with a few houses and a resort, La Mahana, which also welcomes yachties....  (we don't frequent it now the tourists are back.) The entire island is surrounded by fringing reef providing excellent protection from swell. There's a road right around and not a lot of traffic so maybe the bikes will come out soon. Within the bay and only meters from Taipan is some satisfactory snorkelling in warm clear water where we can happily while away several hours every day. 



Cruisers gathered aboard Taipan for sundowners.

Just 30 miles west is a double island with an enclosed reef Raiatea and Tahaa offer a little more facilities with a couple of marinas and boatyards. There are airports out of most islands except Tahaa which is only a short boat ride from Raiatea airport. A lot of charter boats operate out of Raiatea. From Raiatea to Bora Bora its only 16nm but we've not ventured there yet. It's not a very cruiser friendly destination. No anchoring and quite steep fees for the moorings.



Crystal clear water.

Huahine like most islands has its ancient stone ceremonial sites called Marae. On an afternoon drive with some new friends we met in the resort before the tourists were allowed back we visited some of these sites. They are quite different from the sites in Tahiti. It's incredible to think these huge stones were assembled with no machinery. Lots of slaves I think!. Aside from the Maraes we also visited the Rum distillery in Fare the only town on the island. Chocolate Rum!! Yum

For now, we remain in Huahine and wait to see how the rest of the world, particularly Australia and the countries to the west of us, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu, handle the CV situation. Cyclone season commences on Nov 1st which means we have to head directly to Australia or back East and north. Maybe as far as the Marquesas again. 

Watch this space.



Sunday, 7 June 2020

RELEASED FROM THE LOCKUPJune 5th 2020

Tahiti Airport Anchorage towards Morea.

After a very long period of confinement from10th March to 30th of April, we have emerged from hibernation. 

North Coast of Tahiti
Tahiti recorded 60 CV19 cases and one hospitalized with no deaths, so it was very well handled and Tahiti and Morea were the only two islands amongst the hundreds comprising French Polynesia to record cases. An early case in Fakarava was airlifted to Tahiti and didn’t spread and a late case was airlifted to a Tahiti from an Ecuadorian Fishing boat near NukuHiva and the boat was sent back to Ecuador there have been no new cases for about one month. 

Only 1 barnacle!!

The lockdown was pretty similar to most places I think. We had to have ID on us if we left the boat and no stores except essential grocery, fuel, pharmacy, etc only one person was permitted to shop from any lockdown group. There was a special form we had to fill out for every visit ashore which stated place of residence, time of departure, intended destination, etc and two hours was maximum time allowed. No alcohol sales at all. David only made two trips to the grocery. I swam against the wall beside the boat most days as waking was still a challenge. At the end of May they lifted that restriction to sales Monday to Thursday. No weekend sales There was also an 8am to 5 am curfew lifted at the end of April 

That darn ladder!

The first job, once we were let loose, was to get Taipans ass out of the water and replace her cutlass bearing. That’s a tube thingy that fits over the propeller shaft inside another thing and stops it clanking when we have to motor. So while she was out David also splashed some antifoul paint on in an attempt to dissuade critters that like to freeload on boats and in so doing can cause the boat go very slow, dragging all that crap through the water, and we don’t want that.


Technimarine hardstand was very good. Their travel lift team were professional and the yard very clean. Pity about the bathrooms. It’s a high dock, however, so we were forced to remove our forestay to enable the lift to get our keel high enough to clear the edge. Lucky we extended the backstay in the UK which now provides enough thread to loosen it without having to remove it entirely, making removing the forestay, furler and sail intact, a much simpler job now.

Tahiti Graffiti

We stayed aboard for the duration; up Monday and relaunch Thursday and it was ok. This was the last 4 days of full lockdown and everything was very quiet but we were able to get the required supplies for painting etc. My back has improved and the ladder was good exercise.
 
Taipan in Cooks Bay


After launching we took off around the island and tried unsuccessfully to catch a fish on our way to the lagoon and we anchored near the airport with a big group of other stranded yachts. No boats were allowed to move without express permission until Mid May. The Hotel California Cruising Net on VHF each morning was our source of local news and provided entertainment each evening either with Quiz shows, Dingy Raft-Up get together with social distancing or later dingy-in Movie nights with a movie showing on the aft of a big catamaran and everyone snuggled in their dingy. We missed those because we left for Moorea about 14 nm west beforehand to rendezvous with old sailing palls Sal and John Potter on Capal Mara. A good two weeks of catching up saw the total and simultaneous destruction of the cellar and our livers.

Cooks Bay

The anchorage at Cooks Bay, famous for a visit by the good Captain Cook, is a superb anchorage deeply cut into the interior with high mountains each side, and with good fringing reef protection from the sea  We have been here social distancing for three weeks, and with no sign of any of the island groups between 

Excellent restaurant in Cooks Bay

French Polynesia and Australia opening their borders any time soon it has become inevitable that the passage back will be a long one. Cairns is roughly 3700nm from here and that could take up to 30 days if winds are fickle and possibly less if we see good consistent breezes. 


On Sunday we plan to return to Tahiti and start clearance procedures. Stay tuned for departure. You can follow our progress on the Iridium tracking site. It’s live and shows the weather in real-time. See you on the other side 



View into Cooks bay from the back door
Now in Papeete Marina. Tahiti. Waiting for a weather window.


Tuesday, 24 March 2020

PARADISE LOST MARCH 24th 2020


Well, what a difference a day makes!  We are better off than many. Taipan is tied up in Tiana Marina in Tahiti French Polynesia. It's cool with the air-con on and we've dock water and electricity. There are a lot of worse places to be. 

Taina Marina Papeete Tahiti

A lot has happened since my last post in early November.

First, there was my birthday and a beautiful locally carve bowl from Nuku Hiva was a lovely surprise from David.



In early December, Ua Pou hosted the fabulous Festival of Marquesas. Ou Pou is a small but spectacular island with large volcanic cores piercing the skyline and is situated just 25nm south of Nuku Hiva. 

Hakahetau anchorage. Ua Pou Marquesas.

After one aborted attempt to anchor in the tenuous bay at Hakahetau, we did get a spot and were able to attend the events. This required a lot of planning. The break on the dock where we had to land dinghies was at times, furious, and required supreme agility to scale the concrete pier to safety between swells and the return in the dead of night, was just as exciting. We all had to deploy stern anchors, as the swell inside the bay was big and the anchorage very tight. A lot of boats had turned up to go to the festival.

On a fine day with no swell, it was lovely.


The small village of Hakahetau with beautiful gardens and fruit trees and a small supermarket provided a friendly welcome. We did some walks into the mountains to explore the ancient house platforms, pae pae, and to see a waterfall.  

Herve waterfall and some remains of a once-thriving village.
These islands were first inhabited between AD900 and 1100, were once heavily populated but over 90% were wiped out by disease when whalers, missionaries, navies and traders arrived in the 1700 and 1800s. A reminder of what the world faces today! There are numerous remnants of archaeological importance all over the archipelago, with house platforms, sacrifice sites and meeting place platforms scattered throughout the island's valleys. 
Rapanui dancers


The festival itself was exceptional. It's only held every 4 years and involves teams from each of the 6 inhabited  Islands. This year a guest appearance, and one of the highlights, was a small team from Rapanui. (Easter Island, Not a Marquesan Island. Chile), The Island groups of up to 100 participants practice for months and the final effect is an outstanding celebration of traditional music, costumes and dance. 

Huge drums beet out frantic rhythm for the dancers
The event was held over 4 days, and often well into the night, at Hakahau, an hour each way from our anchorage, by taxi, over rough gravel roads. We had watched several practice sessions in Nuku Hiva but were unprepared for the diversity and scale of the event. In the hot sun, teams often danced and sang for over an hour each. Check out the photos and I will also try to load some video.



Returning to Nuku Hiva and Tahoe Bay after the festival, we prepared for Xmas, with friends flying in from Tahiti to join us, and another Australian boat, Perigee. Taipan and Perigee shared the preparation and venues for an all Australian Xmas. Everything was done to excess as it usually is and our livers may never fully recover.

In the midst of this frivolity, I received news that my father was seriously ill. Sadly I didn't make it home before he passed, aged 97 and having lived a full and active life. He passed in his home on the farm. I flew back to Australia immediately anyway, arriving on New Years Day. Here I caught up with family and friends after a horror 50-hour trip. I spent 3 weeks in Mount Barker, WA, with my brother. Between jobs, we fed cows and had a fly over the countryside and the coast in Vern's Cessna A real highlight.

Quarenup/ The old quarantine station in Albany. May have to be re opened
Catching up with family.
There was even a ride with my grandaughter.

As I left Tahiti I had a nasty surprise at the immigration counter and was told I would not be allowed to return as my Visa was expired. Another long story. There were long days and longer skype calls between myself and David who was all alone in Nuku Hiva without any way to leave without triggering the same problem. Nowhere to leave Taipan as cyclone season was in full swing. After a lot of anxiety and tears, we managed to get a Recepisse. (all in French) A document which should have been issued to us when The Haute Commissioner was in receipt of our Long Stay Visa Documentation which we had lodged in October. We were unaware of the Recepisse document. Anyway, it all smoothed out and on the 21st of January, I flew back as far as Auckland before  I was stopped and they refused to let me board my Tahiti flight... There ensued a lengthy and sometimes heated exchange between myself and several of the international flight desk staff before a French-speaking staff member was dredged up from a backroom and having read my documentation, promptly stamped me and gave me a boarding pass. By now my stress levels and my temper were almost at the same level!

The drive back down into Taohoe Bay Nuku Hiva. The Canyon

David met me in Tahiti and we enjoyed a couple of nights aboard Capal Mara at Tiana Marina with our good friends John and Sal before returning to Taipan in Nuka Hiva Another 5-hour flight.

The magnificent and wild hinterlands of Nuku Hiva.

Homecoming flowers from my Captain.
All seemed to be sweet. Life was good. I was home. Unpacking completed and just settling in when I felt a painful pop in my back. Taking it easy for a few days it didn't seem to improve it, and by day five it was the weekend and the pain was pretty extraordinary. Day 6 I decided to go to the doctor the following day. Monday, I was just too sore so delayed. By Tuesday I just had to make the effort to get into the dingy and get to the hospital. Well, that came to a grinding halt on the dock because by then I couldn’t walk at all. A lovely local spotted the problem and promptly grabbed his vehicle and raced David and me to emergency. Short story. I was in there for 14 days. The pain was excruciating and it took three days to get some control. The staff at the Louis  Rollins hospital in Nuku Hiva were outstanding and Doctors including several specialists, also very very good. After a fortnight I could walk about 10 meters if I remained bent at 45°. Without CT or MRI the hospital could provide no diagnosis. They only had X-ray and couldn’t determine what nerve damage I had sustained. Our Travel Insurance, Total Insurance Direct (Aust) would not consent to fly me to Tahiti for diagnosis so back to the boat I went.

In happier days with Janika off Leela after our workshop making floral head pieces.

After a week aboard, the father of our very good sailing friends from SY Sentijn, ( https://sentijn.wordpress.com ) USA,  flew to Nuku Hiva from California on 12 hours notice to help us sail Taipan to Tahiti. My vets from Capal Mara had been consulting during the whole 'de bark al' and had advised "cage rest" so I was duly confined to the cabin, while David and Tim wrestled with Taipan alone!! 

David and Tim arrive to take me to Tahiti.

We left Nuku Hiva in very light conditions on February 24th and motored almost the whole  780 nm. We did stop in Fakarava for 24 hours to await the passing of a trough with lots of wind and rain. From Fakarava to Tahiti it was a little rough with the remnant swell providing some unpleasant roll. Overall, they made a pretty fine show of it without me and I will be eternally grateful to Tim Pennington for making the long mercy dash to assist. 

One of many highly decorative buildings in Papeete
Several specialist appointments and a CT scan revealed a herniated disk and nerve impingement in my lower back. (Insurance had gone to ground and we expect they are busy right now) I was advised to have a spinal injection and expect to go to surgery, due to the severity but in the next few days I had some signs of improvement then the COVID19 thing went berserk so I elected to keep clear of the hospital and see how much improvement I could get.

Gathered with Capal Mara and Perigee.
It's nearly 3 weeks since we arrived in Tahiti and I'm walking better and the pain has decreased. Beyond that, the Virus has gone mad and the world governments responses have followed far too slowly in my humble opinion. 

Inventory of onboard stores before lockdown.
David and I jumped into isolation as soon as we heard that countries were closing borders so as of today we've been in isolation aboard Taipan since the 10th of March and are asymptomatic. Only on the 21st of March Tahiti closed everything down with 23 confirmed cases and a population of roughly 190,000 people. Everyone except for essential services is home isolated for 14 days.....including schools!…. We are provisioned aboard for about 4 months if necessary and will wait and see how it all pans out before we will know what our options are. 

Maybe we will get a tattoo!!

We’ve been in French Polynesia since last October. The Authorities here have advises that we can stay but must remain isolated aboard. That isn’t a problem for us. We are not permitted to swim off the boat though and that's a pain when my back could have really benefited! We can find jobs aboard to do to keep us busy. Trips to the supermarket will be allowed with strict guidelines and you must carry ID and show a special form, but we won’t have to do that any time soon. 

We have no set plans. At the moment all we could do is head straight to Australia direct. All the other countries are closed to yachts. 3700nm to Cairns! so like everyone else we sit tight, stay home and wait! Stay safe and well everyone.

Click here to open a new page with more photos.