Ahe

Surprise a post from Letitgo! Alas no pictures yet to be found even if the posts are piling on our destop fill with photos for us to share; internet is rare pearl in the Tuamotus. In the atoll of Ahe where we are currently there is a tower built but the dish antenna, but it hasn’t made it yet so there is still no internet in this part of the world; which on the other hand makes it a very authentic place to be.

We left l’Anse Amyo before lunch time and after a speedy sail, where we had to slow down Letitgo as much as we could we still ended up having to drift for one houre outside the pass. We waited to have the sun be high enough so we could travel safely through the atoll and avoid the “patates”.

As for laurent Bourgnon sadly his body hasn’t been recovered up to this day, the atoll has been searched thoroughly by every sailor in sight. Walking party searched the outside of the atoll, sailboats came close to look at the shore while dinghies checked the inside. Teams of divers dove up to 80 meter (240 feet) the pass again yesterday but luck was not with any of us. In this area the currents are very strong around and the bigger fishes not so amicable, a local couple we got to know confirmed that he was not the first and will not be the last unfortunately. This pass has seven currents and when the tide reverses it has the ability to stick you to the bottom… Indeed not the most pleasant image.

On a more positive note, Ahe is a charming village with a beautiful atoll full of pearl farm activities. Some nice reefs inside the atoll await our snorkeling as soon as the sun is coming back.

Toau update

Just a quick update for our friends who are listenning to “Polynesie premiere” news, one Laurent got in major trouble while diving the pass yesterday afternoon of Toau; thankfully he is not from Letitgo… Early only on today we realized something was going on when the “Daulphin” helicopter kept circling above Letitgo. We quickly switched on the VHF on #16 and discovered that a large search and rescue was taking place at the time.

If you go back one or two posts you will see a large motor catamaran in one of the picture, it is in fact the owner of this boat who lost his life. We are all a little shaken of course, and it just makes us realize once more to always listen to local knowledge and to respect mother Nature.

On our side, all is well the diving is simply fantastic inside the atoll, we have been enjoying going on some chorals with captivating colours. Please do not worry we will not even come close to the pass (in fact we are anchored quite a ways inside) we sailed through and that was enough of an experience.

Just un petit mot pour nos amis qui regardent les nouvelles sur Polynesie Premiere, oui un Laurent a disparu sur la passe de Toau alors qu’il faisait de la plongee, mais heureusement ce n’est pas le notre. Dans la matinee nous avons realise qu’il y avait quelque chose d’anormal lorsque un helicoptere “le dauphin” survolait non stop Letitgo. Nous avons donc allume la radio VHF sur le 16 et avons appris qu’il s’agissait d’un effort coordone de sauvetage.
Si vous retournez en arriere d’un ou deux bulletins sur le blog, vous pourrez voir sur une des photos un grand catamaran a moteur, le proprietaire de celui ci est celui qui a perdu la vie. Evidemment nous sommes un peu sous le choc, respectons toujours la mer et la nature.

Sinon de notre cote tout va bien, nous faisons des plongees dans le lagon fantastique, il y a une variete de poissons incroyables et des couleurs toutes plus belles les unes que les autres en tout etat de cause nous n’irons pas nous amuser vers la passe, de l’avoir navigue nous a donne assez d’emotion…

Life in “civilization”

We ate out for the first time since January at a snack owned by a Vaitahu’s native just by the dock (unfortunately it should change hand in august), delicious food and great company we had, with interesting conversations and good laughs, it is always a delight. We have been able to re-stock with everyday products at the official PPN price, we even had the luxury to find some beautiful lettuces and green beans! In other words we are in a more civilized area, which brings out the things we haven’t seen in a long time. Kids stealing from the dinghy a ball caught on time, and shop owners who seem to have an aversion to math when adding up… which is too bad as it leaves a slight taste in our mouth.


Valerie sporting the frenchy look as if she had never left.


For the July festivity: javelot, the target is a coco of course about 9 meter high and you are 20 meter from the base. 10 shots allowed the top guys achieve 8-9 no problem.


Yes dear friends in the Marquesas, this is what the dock looks like, here. It’s almost a kilometer long, it’s called the “Chirac dock” but the president never came to visit as planned

And so easy to climb on…



Even cruising you don’t escape the classic father’s day gift.


A group of dedicated volunteers took on a project involving naval constructions and they are rebuilding a traditional sailing lagoon pirogue.

A few years back they interrogated the oldest of Fakarava to try and stay as close as possible to the original ones, the children at school are also involved and learning in the process.






Benjamin had a ride back home after walking 9 km; do you think he enjoyed it?

Tomorrow, we are heading to Toau an uninhabited atoll, and should be there for a few days, so there won’t be any internet facilities… And after that who knows where we will be, that is the question.

Rotoava Fakarava

Your turn now try and pronounce quickly three times after us, Rotoava Fakarava, it’s not that easy when you have to roll the “R” is it?

Well finally we were able to leave the other side of the atoll two days ago, which we crossed in not the best conditions. Out of nowhere we had wind gusts of 30 knots that would come and hit us getting Letitgo to accelerate quickly thankfully we had some suspicions early and had a reef in the main sail, and in the end as we were coming closer to the village in the official channel, we found ourselves in the middle of the lines and buoys of multiple pearl farms. A bit of a hairy situation on a first look, but a little knowledge helped us recover our senses, it turns out the lines under are suspended 2-3 meters deep, phew… So the rule is to cross nicely in the middle if your draft is not too deep, even if it is still stressful because your first reflex is to think that these are fishing nets at the surface.

Rotoava is one of the main villages in the Tumaotus and one of the top two tourists’ destinations in other words a “busy” spot where money can be made. Hence we were approached to pay a “taxe de sejour” (stay tax) because we have the privilege to anchor here, read our thoughts “Don’t think so buster!” We didn’t come in a private helicopter or jet and are still not on a 96ft Sailboat or a 148ft motor boat such as those we witness daily. Nonetheless we will stay here because we finally finished all our fruits and veggies from the Marquises, it took us one month to get through our stock not bad at all, thank you again to all our Marquesian friends. Fortunately, they have the supply ship coming here every week on Thursday, and once Cobiac 3 lands on the dock, you can buy fuel by the liter or bring your mega yacht on the side as we witnessed. You then have to take “les jambes a votre coup” in other words run to the store and raid whatever they put on display for fruits and vegs. As per the photo below you will see what we brought home and wait for the sticker shock.

Benjamin has a provincial test on Monday and with the help of the school principal we got it all setup, this is not that simple when you never know where you will be! This afternoon we heard the drums during our walk and decided to find the source of it. The Hieva is coming up soon for July and a full blown rehearsal was in progress, beautiful. They were bringing three groups together for the rehearsal to prepare for the intro dance, the music was pretty amazing and in complete sync with the moves.



Cruiser from another mother, sorry class and this one is the smallest of the three.


No doughnut run for those cops but a leisurely ride.





Are you ready? All this cost …..

 

84$ cough cough cough after our $20 Panamanian runs it hurts the wallet.

Snorkeling the Fakarava’s South Pass

With the wind dying down slowly, we finally were able to put our snorkel gears on. There is a specific time to do bath yourselves in the pass with the current going in at a speed of 6 knots, you become quickly aware of your surroundings and become cautious. But as always the pictures will be the best to share our experience.



Never far from you.







The second day we found the nest and observed from above a large number of sharks swimming at the bottom to feed.




We went onshore to find sprouted coco and the axe did a fine job, from the picture above this one dries naturally and is a pure delicacy, another treat we discovered in the Marquesas.


Somebody for sure is going to tell us what this is, plastic travels far in the Pacific.


Facebook profile photoshoot of the day.

Fakarava South

There are many boats around as we are in the high cruising season and Fakarava is one of the most popular atoll; truly we haven’t seen this much boat since we last were in Panama. The grib files are forecasting stronger winds from the South which makes Fakarava South anchorage a perfect place to spend a few days, we will stay put and enjoy our books before we can go swim in the pass. The view from our breakfast nook is everything we had dreamed about, and we could try to use our words to describe it all but wouldn’t even give it justice hence we will let the camera talk! Enjoy…

faka sud

under

rain faka

Not always sunny in paradise, 30-35 knots gust and heavy wind. Below the same day a few hour later.

safe

This is how you don’t tear you prop.

palm






Outside of the atoll, could be any rugged beach in the world.


The pension and some diving outfit on the other side of the pass.

Harpoon fishing for Mahi-Mahi and emergency exit.

This time around there was no imperatives, I was not waiting or in the process of repairing the fridge, so I jumped on the occasion I was invited to go fishing with a harpoon. No trailing of line for Mahi-Mahi here in the Tuamotus, instead the skipper of the boat is standing up front and at the control. Once a fish is located, the rodeo starts, after 5 minutes of chasing the fish it gets tired, it is then a lot easier to harpoon. I witness the saga ounce, but with my good luck charm on any fishing vessel the captain declared “I have never seen this, no bird nothing we are going home”. Let me tell you this sport is not made for the faint hearted, the boat lurks 180 degree in no time stops and goes at the will of the fish, there are the real cowboys of the sea.

harpon

We learnt something interesting in the meantime; at approximately 1-2 miles out of nearly every atoll pass’s you will find a DCP. In other words means: a fish concentration device or in plain English a bloody line and buoy ready to get tangle in your prop in no time, see picture above, you’ve been warned.


Our view from the veranda these days, seating at the dock in comfort while the water runs at 4-6 knots current, swimming can be accelerating to say the least.

Of course the children after school came for a swim and a chat.

Unfortunately, we had to move for the supplies ship on the other end of the dock late afternoon, but the wind direction and the possible line arrangements made it dangerous for us to stay. So around midnight we had to plan and execute our emergency exit, let say that we got out with only Benjamin falling in the water in between the dock and the boat… Not a pretty exit but the pass spitted us out in no time, sorry Katiu for leaving you this way but we promise you we will be back next time around.

The force was not with us this time.

After a final evening/dinner with Alexandra and Florent, we waited for the alarm to wake us up and were ready for an early departure en route to Katiu. It is just a day trip with only a 60 nm or so we thought! Indeed our average speed went down drastically with calm winds, so instead we enjoyed a leisurely sail along the length of Makemo and decided to come back inside the atoll by the westerly pass to spend the night and continue on the next day, truly there is no need to burn diesel just for the fun of it. As soon as we anchored amongst low laying coral heads, using our buoy system to avoid tangling our chain in the corals (hopefully), we jumped in the dinghy for some underwater exploring.

Decent water clarity greeted us and a few smaller sharks came to see what the commotion was about. The walk on the atoll revealed a motu frequently covered by the sea as it overflows regularly; it was full of coconut crabs a sure sign when you have all the nuts with holes on them.

“Benitiers” burried in the corals

To our left a litlle lower, here is our friend the black tip shark swimming by nonchalantly.

Sunset from inside the lagoon Makemo West.

The next day after “a must have breakfast in paradise” we left Makemo for the atoll of Katiu, this was an easy day sail of five hours towards a smaller atoll. The village is inhabited with 200 souls and has a very different vibe and overall more authentic, people were playing real music with real instruments such as the ukulele and guitar singing and chatting with each other enjoying a Sunday afternoon the old fashioned way which means in French Polynesia with music beer and petanque while children run around playing with leaves and tree branches.

This is what the pass looks like from the outside, Katiu is an out flow pass only. The village has a dock where you can stop when the supplies ship is not in town.


Old pearl farm in the background (sur pilotis) not used anymore due to new regulations for environment protection.


In comparison to the Marquesas where every garden is wide opened and not fenced in, here in the Tuamotus they love their cement fences (compliment of the commune).

And another one for the book…

Or when your world is turned upside down!

Since we had a successful day yesterday, we decided to try our luck at repairing the water heater. Now we are talking superfluous, but once in a while a little warm shower after some engine time can feel like a day at the spa or even a warm washing machine wash, so why not?

It sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Last time I looked at it I had seen copper and stainless, in other word it is brazing at its best, and it seemed easy enough, I was reassured. Well first we had to remove the cooling liquid some tough tubing, but a couple of hours did it. Then I removed the trial reparation I had done a few months back only to realize that it was all stainless, to add to the issue after testing under pressure, we discovered that we needed to weld all around. But no problem this is why we carry onboard 308 welding rode when we get stuck in paradise with no supplies. And this is when our day starts to get a little spicier, you see we literally had to put the entire boat upside down to find those welding rode, when we say literally this means every single room was turned inside and out to find them! Evidently it took a while but our search was rewarded. Now time to turn to the welder, he had a bad day and a hole was made in the tank, we tried repairing around but to no available, so by late afternoon we re-installed the apparatus and will live without hot water until we purchase a new water heater.

All in all on a more philosophical note, that’s ok because in the end it’s now been 2 years since we’ve had a hot shower on board!


How to keep busy on a boat, try to find something you stored away 6 months ago and can fit in any nooks and cranny!

Water testing the tank on the side of the house, with bananas in the background for the exotic note!

While all this was going on, Benjamin spent a good chunk of his day at the doctor’s office to get his toe nail looked after. He escaped surgery lucky for us, because in the tropics living on a boat is not the best recipe! Finally, after successfully soaking his foot for two hours they realized it was not an ingrown nail after all.

And to finish this magical day, the children congregated at the dock swimming around. Some young boys had found two roosters and decided to “play” cock fighting! As for the girls, they play with whatever floats and giggle as anywhere else in the world. It was all fun and game until one of the youngest one decided to take our kayak a little too far and disappeared from our view en route to the pass… Benjamin chased him with the dinghy but the current and many coral heads stopped him dead in his track, fortunately Valerie had climbed onshore and coordinated both rescues. (Emma we can hear you: A classic family circus…) Meantime I put everything away, and back together along with coolant until we were stable again.

Anybody wondering how we keep busy again?


One of those couple of days….

We have been fairly quiet these last few days and this is why:

As I am waiting in the early morning for “the expert in refrigeration “in Makemo, I reflect on the low of cruising; when a boat could be sold for a song, when you dream of a 9:00 to 5:00pm cubicle job and living in a rented condo where nothing goes wrong ever… Wait did we just say that?

Truly at this point it sounds appealing, our reality was hard to deal with and Letitgo finally screamed in our faces: “Please take care of me NOW”. The strings of problems we have had since arriving in the Tuamotus have been draining even if not crucial to our safety.

Our membrane didn’t like the inactivity from the Marquesas and showed it to us with a 30%-50% drop in output and fidgety pressure. Our fridge just had a major life crisis and decided to not cool anymore even after recharging it. I kept the manifold on to monitor it and one of the fitting had a leak we lost all the 134A I had put in… Add to the fact that we are still new to living here, and we haven’t got the groove of the water clarity/coral heads, we have now broken two shear pins on the outboard propeller. Again one might think this is nothing major, people have survived without a fridge and a water maker before, but those are little troubles that make you not enjoy your surroundings fully when you are used to cruising in luxury.

In any case, our repair man showed up at 8am after a little reminder via cellphone on his way to his fish park. He had a good look at our sick fridge, told us he had all the tools needed and that it shouldn’t be a problem, then he had to go to his fish park, so in a heartbeat I jumped in and we went scooping fish out of the enclosure! I came back with our lunch and a promise to return later with all needed. This is island life and priorities are set by the mood, let’s hope he is in a cool one after lunch.

Nope he was not in a working frame of mind, but tomorrow no problem he told Benjamin and our neighbour after meeting them on the dock.

Next day he was here and he showed up with some equipment and started troubleshooting, we found some oil traces which was a good sign for a leak. Sebastian went to get his torch and disappeared to check on his fish park, he came back after lunch, then we applied more soap foams than a rave party would consume and still couldn’t find the leak a mystery… we vacuumed twice we re-checked but still couldn’t find a leak. After all we decided to re-install it all and charged it and left it for the night to see if it would hold the charge. Here we are both up and counting the minutes when the fridge starts and ends its cycle, and checking on the level of pressure it is 2.30am.

The pressure is stable indicating that a micro leak is the cause of our trouble, back professional conscience I run my finger around the area where we had thought the leak was and bingo some fresh oil is on my finger. Well now let’s see when Sebastien shows up today… Mid-morning, we had his opinion, the verdict is there is definitely no major leak and the oil I got on my finger may have come from the cracked manifold running down the tube and onto the de-humidifier not from the compressor. So what to do, run around in circle especially if the leak is in the condenser and no detectable without destructive surgery or buy a bottle of 13kg and a set of manifold and once every month or two give it a shot, email sent to the three cooling supplier in Papeete for quote, our future is getting clearer.


As for the water maker after some troubleshooting and amazing support from Rich at cruiser RO water maker, plus the kindness of another cruising family we were gifted another acid cleaning solution. We have been able to produce without fluctuation at 84% of our maximum output. So no complains on our part, and we will keep our fingers crossed that this one just dodged us! For now we hope it will hold or at least until we are in Tahiti where we can get a membrane flow easily.


During all this Benjamin explored the West side of the atoll a little further away, which was actually 20 km further and on a concrete straight flat road. Luckily his charm got him a ride back…