Thursday 30 May 2019


I think it likely that in years to come, when I think back to our
globe-circling journey, Suwarrow will be the place that most epitomises
Pacific cruising.

We arrived off the atoll at 4:00am in virtually no wind. We quietly
bobbed around until sunrise when a gentle breeze set in and allowed us
to sail into the pass. We were anchored by 9:00am and its was great to
be reunnited with 1/2 the World ARC fleet. Suwarrow is desserted for
1/2 the year. 2 rangers had only arrived a few days before us and
were left here until November, with no supply or relief deliveries
scheduled. They were wtill in the process of setting-up their hut and
equipment, but yesterday was one of their busiest days with about 6
yachts checking in (!)

Yesterday and today has passed in gentle rush of walks around the
islands, swimming (with plenty of sharks - some of which are
dangerous), boat maintenance on Tintin and other boats, helping the
rangers get their generator working to run their freezer.

The spirit of helping each other is so strong on the fleet. Since
arriving in Suwarrow, we received a bottle of win from Danica for
providing a vital plumbing component for their watermaker and stopping
their dinghy drifting away;we donated a bottle to Mango for topping up
our water tanks and tomorrow we're going diving on their anchor to
unwrap it from several bommies, which had been spotted by George from
Cabana. The rangers we immensely grateful for help in trouble-shooting
their electric system - failure would have meant their entire freezer
full of food, which needs to last 6 months, would have gone to waste.
Aurora B provided the replacement line for our lazy jacks; I'm going
onboard tomrrow to provide advice, but mostly encouragement, for them
to learn to use their cruising chute.

Last night, we had a 'pot luck' supper ashore for all crews. We did
our bit by supplying a kilo of tuna to each boat from the leviathan that Pim had caught. The quality and variety of dishes that
emerged was great - grilled, curried, raw with wasabi, and many more.
We were entertained throughout by the hermit crabs scuttling about and
then trying to hide if they though they had been seen.

We only have another day here before heading South West towards Nuie -
we'll be sorry to leave

Monday 27 May 2019

74 miles to Suwarrow

Last night was quiet with little wind, lightening busy in the distance
but nowhere near us, and no need to keep changing sails. So we all got
some decent sleep and today we have been treated to a bright blue sky
with dotted white cumulus clouds for the first time in this passage. It
is a welcome sight, for although we don't have much wind we don't have
any squalls either. The engine is doing its thing and we aim to be at
Suwarrow by tomorrow morning, when there will be good light for us to
navigate the pass and the coral reefs to enter the atoll and anchor

We stopped Tintin just now for a swim. There is a bit of swell making
the boat rock but it was easy enough for us to use the stern ladder to
get back on board. A rope with a fender attached trailed from the stern
for us to grab hold of if needed, and we always had one person on board.
The water was 3,800m deep and so blue, lit up by the suns rays it
looked like a kaleidoscope. It was exhilarating! No giant squid or
sharks came to eat us up.

This morning the water is unruffled enough for us to notice a shoal of 8
tuna swimming alongside for the last mile. They hardly seem to move a
muscle while keeping pace with us. I'm happy to say that these beautiful
fish are all too canny to be foiled by Richard's glittery lure!

74 miles to Suwarrow

Last night was quiet with little wind, lightening busy in the distance
but nowhere near us, and no need to keep changing sails. So we all got
some decent sleep and today we have been treated to a bright blue sky
with dotted white cumulus clouds for the first time in this passage. It
is a welcome sight, for although we don't have much wind we don't have
any squalls either. The engine is doing its thing and we aim to be at
Suwarrow by tomorrow morning, when there will be good light for us to
navigate the pass and the coral reefs to enter the atoll and anchor

We stopped Tintin just now for a swim. There is a bit of swell making
the boat rock but it was easy enough for us to use the stern ladder to
get back on board. A rope with a fender attached trailed from the stern
for us to grab hold of if needed, and we always had one person on board.
The water was 3,800m deep and so blue, lit up by the suns rays it
looked like a kaleidoscope. It was exhilarating! No giant squid or
sharks came to eat us up.

This morning the water is unruffled enough for us to notice a shoal of 8
tuna swimming alongside for the last mile. They hardly seem to move a
muscle while keeping pace with us. I'm happy to say that these beautiful
fish are all too canny to be foiled by Richard's glittery lure!

Sunday 26 May 2019

Tintin Angling Society Update

Rejoining TinTin in Bora Bora consumed a not insignificant portion
of my baggage allowance due to the extensive array of fishing gear that
we brought with us. Having installed new rod holder and shiny two speed
Shimano reel we had high expectations of filling the fridge with a
surfeit of fish.
Day 1 had the reel screaming and a dramatic display from a Black
Marlin as it went airborne in a a highly successful display of how to
throw a hook. Day 2 started with another reel screamer this time a
Blue Marlin which had studied at the same school of hook throwing as
the Black marlin and after yet another aerial display we retrieved
the lure - we hooked three further fish on Day 2 with one hook
straightened out and the others also managing to free themselves.
Some murmurings about lack of fishing prowess and when were we going to
have fish for dinner started to surface.
Day 3 and another screaming reel, another Blue Marlin, the biggest yet,
but due to some lure rearrangement and additional hook attachments this
one was unable to free itself - game on!
We managed to retrieve a couple of hundred metres of line and put some
tension back on the fish when it decided that it wasn't here to play,
changed into top gear and with the reel smoking and me hanging on for
dear life, with the drag on the reel set at max, we watched helplessly
as the Marlin stripped every last turn of line from the reel ending in a
loud twang as the line parted from the reel.
We resorted to the backup rod, a smaller Penn reel loaded with 25kg
line and just on sunset the line took off on a big run heading deep, no
aerial displays, suggesting this time it wasn't a Marlin even though it
was pulling like one. After about 10 minutes of line retrieval and runs
from the fish I was starting to feel uncomfortable in my newly repaired
right arm and discretion took over from valour as I called to Pim to
come and take over what looked like might be an extended battle as the
fish wasn't giving in and felt quite sizeable. For a long time it was
stalemate with neither fish nor Pim seeming to gain the upper hand.
Eventually Pim started to manage to get a couple of turns on the reel
with each working of the rod, after 50 minutes and a fantastic effort
from Pim who said he couldn't feel his arms anymore, we finally had our
first sight of the fish as it came to the surface - totally spent.
A huge Yellow Fin tuna rolled over beside the boat, I grabbed the gaff
and drove it into the fish - Pim handed the rod to Nicki and he and I
hauled on the gaff to try and get the fish on-board but it was too
heavy and then disaster struck as the gaff hook parted from the
handle..... but the fish was still hooked. It was pitch dark by this
stage and raining heavily, but how to get the fish on-board? Clipped
onto the boat with my lifeline and lifejacket, I leant over the side of
the boat and forced a line in the the gills of the tuna and out through
its mouth - at last we could relax a little. Rob rigged a pulley from
the bottom of the boom and we used a winch to haul the fish on-board
with Pim and I arm in either side of the gill to haul the fish over the
toe rail.
Our weigh scales only go to 50kg, we estimated conservatively that
the fish was around 60kg and we started to work on filleting - it
wasn't pretty but then we didn't really have a knife of suitable
dimensions for the duty! Dinner was supplemented with pan fired tuna
steaks and sashimi - next port we'll be looking for the gallon sized
containers of soy sauce and wasabi....

Pim has sore arms this morning and I've got a few bruises but very
pleased with ourselves on this great catch - we should arrive in
Suwarrow in time to share with the rest of the fleet.
No fishing today - no space to store any more.

Of fish and squalls

Our passage to Suwarrow continues to hold our interest. The squalls of
yesterday continued interspersed with beating into the wind. The
last squall wasn't really a squall - more a mini weather system. at
about 2:30am, The wind changed by about 120degress in 10 mins and then
stregthened to 25-30 knots from the SW, and then stayed there for 2
hours. With 2 reefs and the staysail Tintin ploughed on quite happily,
but it was wearing for the crew (or at least the skipper). I wore a
jacket for the first time since the end of Nov. I retired at 5:00am
leaving the boat to Pim and Nicki, but the front cabin was very
bouncy. I must have got some sleep, because when I got up at 8:00, it
was sunny and not too windy. The sea state is gradually moderating.

Suwarrow is no place to enter at night, so we are trying to gain a bit
of speed so that arrive before dark on Monday.

Tintin Angling Society Update
Richard, honorary president of the TAS, has been busy with 3 lines out
most of the time. Fish have biting the lures and at least 3
huge marlins have been sighted while hooked leaping into the air in
anger. 2 managed to slip the hook and the 3rd - about an hour ago -
ran away with the entire line. Richard slowed its charge very briefly,
but then it charged away again leaping into the air as it went. The
line squealed and continued to unwind until it reached the end. A
split second pause before 'twang' - and we could resume our course.

To be honest, all the marlin were too big to land on a boat like
Tintin, so I'm secretly glad they got away (although the last one has
300m of line trailling from its mouth)

Friday 24 May 2019

Pleasen Make yourmind up!

Engine on
wind arrives
washing out
engine off
wind builds
1st reef in main
1st reef in genoa
2nd reef in main
staysail out
rain comes
washing in
rain stops
wind dies
all reefs out
engine on

repeat every hour

Towards Suwarrow

We left Bora Bora at midday yesterday bound for Tonga via Suwarrow and

The World ARC fleet has been split into 2 groups to avoid overcrowding
Suwarrow and Nuie. We are in the 2nd group, 3days behind the first.
The weather forecast was unpromising, with large pacthes of calm
forecast, and 3 crews decided to wait for 3 days in Bora Bora and head
staight for Nuie. Since our departure we've had some sailing, but
mostly it's been calm but overcast with rain. The engine is getting a
good run. With such a strong crew of 5 experienced sailors, there's
been time for reading, crosswords, sewing and other nautical
pastimes. Richard has got 3 lines from the back of the boat, but
still no bites.

Suwarrow is a (virtually) uninhabited atoll a very long way from
everywhere else. 2 wardens are there for 1/2 the year, but mostly it's
just a few yachties who visit each year.

Thursday 23 May 2019

Suwarrow bound

We sailed out of Bora Bora's pass at midday, most of the fleet with colourful gennakers flying. We think we were first over the start line!
We are having a beautiful afternoon's sailing with wind that has picked up from 3 knots to 12: totally unexpected, as the forecast predicted very little wind.
Having a crew of 5 is such a luxury. We are on watch for 2 1/2 hours then 10 hours off...
Richard has 2 fishing lines off the stern and we are hoping for a fish supper tonight.
We are about to pass the island of Maupiti to port then later on, a tiny island called Motu One!

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Bora Bora

This morning Pim and I climbed Mont Nue , one of Bora Bora's peaks. It was a steep scramble through dense forest with vines and tree ferns. But at the top we were rewarded with this amazing view of the lagoon. Tintin is down there!

Leg 5 : Bora Bora to Tonga

After 2 months exploring French Polynesia (it's huge!) we are approaching the next
leg of the World ARC rally: Bora Bora to Vava'u, Tonga, via Suwarrow
(Cook Islands) and Niue. It's 690 miles WNW to Suwarrow, an
isolated uninhabited atoll and a National Park, then 540 miles SW
to Niue, and finally 230 miles to Tonga. Niue is a bit like Makatea: a
very steep-to island where it's too deep to anchor. There are limited
moorings there, so the World ARC fleet has been divided into 2 groups
for this leg.

We arrived at Bora Bora yesterday in time to watch the start of the leg
for group one - see photos. Many boats had their coloured sails out for
the start in Bora Bora lagoon, and it was a spectacle. Swade and
Stefano in their yellow shirts were organising the start. Gemma is the
figurehead on Aurora B's bow.

We are getting familiar with our pre-ocean checklist, and I think you
are too! Jobs for the next 2 days before we leave in group 2 on
Wednesday: Rig check, engine check, diesel in tanks, fill water
tanks, buy provisions, stow stuff away, rig wind steering, check
weather forecast...

We need to fill the water tanks here from the dock for the first time
in ages, because 2 days ago the water maker had problems. Shortly after
turning it on on we heard BANG!

Investigation revealed that the high pressure hose had burst. Maybe due
to chafe secondary to engine vibration. No high pressure hose and
fittings are to be found on Bora Bora, so we have changed to water
conservation mode. Tintin's tanks hold over 600 litres, so we will fill
to the very top before we go and use water carefully. No more luxury of
daily fresh water showers - but
today we all had a great shower on the
deck in a heavy tropical downpour. We can also harvest water from the
mainsail via the sail cover if needed. Other ARC boats with water
makers have generously offered to give us top ups via jerry can in
Suwarrow and Niue - so we will be well looked after.

Tintin Reunited

Last night there was a shout from the dockside: Tintin!
And there stood Nicki and Richard, rejoining us on board.
It is great to have them both back, Richard with his right arm in action again. The unplanned few months back home in New Zealand were filled with work on the new block of land, and we have heard a lot about Richards new tractor!

Sunday 19 May 2019

Taha'a Coral Garden

Our last stop before heading on to Bora Bora tomorrow has been the coral
garden of Taha'a.
We are anchored just next to a small motu on the west side of Taha'a.
There is a steady gentle current of water flowing between two
motus, from the outer reef towards Taha'a. Snorkelling in the
stream we were carried over a garden of coral the size of several
football pitches. It felt like we were flying over the coral and
amazingly colourful (and fearless) fish. Another incredible place in
the world.

Marae Taputapuatea

Our exploration around Raiatea continued from Alex's bay, as we tiptoed
just inside the reef around the south of the island with Aurora B.
The channel was pretty narrow in places between the fringing reef and
the island, but under engine and with the centreboard up we navigated
the 20 miles aound to the east side. More bright green mountains,
waterfalls and bays kept opening up to our left; on our right the
turquoise of shallow reef then deep blue ocean. Our destination was Marae Taputapuatea.

The marae is just about 1m above sea level, a large rectangular
construction with a row of standing stones at one end. Here priests were
initiated, sacrifices made (both human and animal) and ancestors were
consulted. It is said to be the most important marae in all of French
Polynesia. It held its own atmosphere.

Plateau Temehanirahi

The climb up to the sacred plateau of Temehanirahi

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Polynesian tatoos

All through the islands of Polynesia we have seen people with tatoos.
Not just any tatoos - whole arms, legs, faces, backs. They are works of
art. Tatooists of the Marquesas are recognised as the experts. Stylised
natural forms and tikis are integrated with other symbols, and each has
a significance. A turtle represents longeivity, a manta ray, the ocean;
tikis are there to protect you. Several World Arc sailors visited the
tatoo artist in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, and returned delighted with their
tatoos which were designed for them individually to represent things
important to them.

Following in the wake of Captain Cook...almost

On 25th August 1768, Captain James Cook set sail on board the
adapted North Sea Collier, HMB Endeavour, from Plymouth. This was the
first of his three voyages to the Pacific, and the aim of the expedition
was to reach Tahiti in order to observe a transit of Venus across the
sun on June 3rd 1769 and to search for the Great Southern Continent.
HMB Endeavour was twice as long as Tintin; it carried a crew of 94
people, and provisions for 18 months. The passage across the Bay of
Biscay was very stormy and some of the deck cargo, including many hens,
were washed overboard. First port of call was Madeira where Cook took
on board 3000 gallons of Madeira wine.

250 years and 2 days later, Tintin set off from Salcombe, 20 miles east
of Plymouth, also bound for Tahiti via Madeira. We had a beautifully
calm crossing of the Bay of Biscay and no deck cargo was lost overboard.

Cook's route took him around Cape Horn. We had an easier time via the
Panama Canal.

After leaving Tahiti in July, Cook spent some time exploring the
other Society Islands. He spent time here at Raiatea, which is thought
to have been the religious, cultural and political centre of the
Polynesian islands. Marae Taputapuatea (a marae is a sacred site
where human sacrifices were sometimes made) is one of the most sacred
places in Polynesia, and it is said that canoes left to colonise the
Pacific from here.

Tupaia was a navigator priest from Raiatea who joined Captain Cook and helped the expedition
with translation and diplomacy, as well as navigation. His memory is
being celebrated in Polynesia this year, especially here on Raiatea.

At the regatta we met Tahi, the helm of the green sailing canoe team
(he's in the photo of the sailing canoe in our regatta blog). It was
fascinating to talk to him. He is a direct descendant of
Tupaia, and a traditional navigator and Polynesian cultural expert.
In the past he has worked with the British Museum and the Maritime
Musuem in Greenwich on restoration of Polynesian canoes. The
importance to Polynesians in maintaining their cultural identity with
traditions (particularly in dance, drumming, tatoos and canoeing) has
been evident during our time here.

Tahiti Pearl Regatta

Follow this link to see a Tahiti news report about World Arc boat Nica at the regatta.
You might spot Pim on board. As loyal as he is to Tintin, when offered a chance to crew on Nica for the regatta, he jumped at it!


We're currently moored up next to Aurora B in a wonderful anchorage 3/4
the way down the west coast of Raiatea. And today we are doing...very
little. Which is just great.

The previous blog talked about the first 2 races of the Tahiti Pearl
Regatta. The 3rd and final race was a lap of the island of Taha'a,
inside its reef. We had a wonderful day's sailing. The crew of the
previous days was augmented by Ed and Gemma from Aurora B. The start
was shambolically organised, with the line running downwind instead of
upwind as in the race instructions. We realised this about 3 mins from
the start when we found ourselves alone in a great place for the line
with everybody else on the other side of the line, confirmed when race
radio said that downwind sails were allowed over the start. By
accident or design, we actually had a brilliant start - at the head of
the pack with all the colourful spinnakers behind us. Somewhere
there is a picture looking back towards superfast Nica. It won't
happen often! As some of the faster boats overtook us, we had the great
sight of the spinnakers flying against the background of the reef and
Bora Bora. Flukey winds around the back of the island kept the trimmers
busy, and then we beat along the north coast. In the flat water,
Tintin's tacking angles were much better, and it was fun having tacking
battles against large cats, small racing boats and sailing canoes - all
while keeping in the channel.

The party in the evening was great - on a small motu next to the
anchorage. The organising Committee excelled their already high
standards of ineptitude by not including Nica in the prizes for the
cruising division, when they had clearly won. It seems they had
incorrectly recorded the results and not sought to check them. Amongst
the WARC fleet, approaches to resolving this varied - but calmness and
logic won; Nica were acknowledged as worthy winners.

It was a slow start to the day after the party. Jo & the world ARC
women had a ladies day on Nica. Nica is an amazing - very green -
Finot Conq fast cruising boat (See front of Yachting World from Nov
or Dec last year). 54ft, about 1/2 the weight of Tintin and very
fast. They did the 3,000Nm from Galapagos to Marquesas in 14 days and
were there to meet WARC Swade and Andrew from the airport, when SWade
and Andrew were there to greet us! Maren and Gorm are a lovely German
couple who sailed her double-handed around the world and very generously
invited the ladies from the assembled World ARC boats for a day

Five of the crews headed south to the bay we are in now. Beyond the
palm fringed shore a sheer bright green mountain wall rises, known as
the 100 waterfalls. After rain, the mountainside cascades with water.
We haven't seen it yet, but we were treated to a beautiful evening
last night when the wall changed from green to gold and then pink as
the sun set. We had a lovely evening invited to the house of Alex,
one of the paddlers in the 3-man Va'aa sailing canoes. Originally from
Europe, he and his family have settled here and he now makes
beautiful lightweight paddles and racing canoes, in a mixture of carbon,
bamboo and local hardwood veneer. His house,
open and airy facing the surf and the setting sun was simply idyllic.
We were guided through the coral reef in the dinghy to his house by
his 10 year old son, Manu, in his own little outrigger canoe.
Why don't we all move here?

Yesterday, we were up early to climb to the sacred high plateau in
the centre of the island. It was a super walk, quite muddy and slippy
in places and almost cold on top. We were fortunate to get good views
from Huahine in the east to Bora Bora in the west with the reef all

Saturday 11 May 2019

Tahiti Pearl Regatta

We've had a very hectic few days at the Tahiti Pearl Regatta.
Apparently it's the foremost (only?) international sailing regatta
within thousands of miles, and we thought we'd have a bit of fun
putting Tintin through her paces.

The regatta started at Raiatea. Our crew is mixture from other WARC
boats. Joe from Charm is our racing consultant. Quite why he wants
to race on battleship Tintin when his own boat is MUCH faster (254NM in
24 hours across the Pacific), I'm not sure - but he really seems to
enjoy the challenge of making Tintin move, and we are really glad to
have him on board. Josie is also aboard for a few days, having been
released by Raid for the duration of the regatta. She's a marine
biologist and has has provided many interesting insights - not least
explaining the 'spy-hopping' behaviour of a pod of Pilot whales we saw
when coming across from Moorea. Pim is racing on Nica - the fastest
and most photogenic boat in the fleet.

The practice race on Wednesday went well, but Thursday was less
successful. It started badly when Joe discovered a laptop and wallet
with cards etc stolen from their boat while they slept. He heroically
dealt with the hassle and police bureaucracy before the start, but
during the start sequence, we were involved in a collision with another
boat. Moving fairly slowly, we T-boned a lightweight racing
catamaran. There was only going to be one winner of that impact!
Fortunately damage to the other boat was limited to a smashed window,
bent chain plate and cracked daggerboard. The skipper, when we met
afterwards, was very reasonable and we are on surprisingly good
terms. Tintin was completely unmarked. The 3rd thing that day was that
the genoa on Joe's boat, Charm, ripped at the head during the race,
which will require major surgery.

Anyway, the race was a beat for 22Nm east back to Huahine. It's not
Tintin's best point of sailing and we were near the back of the fleet -
and subsequently asked to retire due to the start line incident.

Today was a new - and better - day. Same distance but downwind back to
the island of Taha'a. Using Charm's v large yellow chute we kept up
with larger and supposedly faster boats, with an exciting finish
through the narrow pass in the reef in a squall, dead down wind, dodging
a sailing canoe and neck and neck with a larger yacht. We were in time
for impromptu drinks on big, green, superyacht Nica and a paddle in one
the amazing 3-man Va'aa sailing canoes that are doing the regatta. Jo
(not Joe or Josie) has been helming all the time, and has been doing a
great job while I just pulled ropes on the foredeck.

The organisers are putting much effort in producing media for the
regatta, so have a search for Tahiti Pearl Regatta and see some of the
amazing images.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Moorea and beyond

Although a busy place, our week in Papeete was a very good one. Not
only did we achieve a great deal, but we had time to reflect a little
on our time in the Marquesas and Tuamotus before we launch on with
visiting more new places. We are crammed to bursting with amazing
memories and stunning vistas and lovely encounters with Polynesian

We said goodbye to Andrew and Swade who resumed their World Arc duties
once we arrived in Papeete. it was a complete pleasure to have them on

A gentle sail/motor took us 25 miles to our next port of call,
Opunohu Bay on the island of Moorea. It is where Captain Cook dropped
his anchor in 1777. The spectacular scenery reminded us a bit of the
Lofoten Islands in Norway (just add palm trees!). The towering
mountains drop right down to the water, with just enough room for a road
and a few houses before the shore. Then there is the lagoon and the
coral reef which encircles the island. The Society islands are like a
mixture between the geography of the Marquesas (young volcanic peaks
with no reef fringe yet) and the Tuamotus (where just the coral rings
remain, the volcanic cores having eroded). I think that is because they
are younger than the Tuomotus but older then the Marquesas, give or
take a few million years!

It was perfect drone flying weather - see photo.

Ashore we climbed a small peak called the Magical Mountain, a
lovely walk through fruit trees giving way to pines higher
up. The birdsong was beautiful. We returned to Tintin with a supply of
passion fruit which had fallen to the ground.
Tourism is bigger here in the Society Islands than in the Marquesas or
Tuamotus. Quad bikes are a popular way to see Moorea
island and jet skis roared past our anchorage from time to time.
Overwater bungalows of the Hilton and the Intercontinental hotels stand
on the reef either side of the entrance to the bay. Balancing the
desire to preserve the lagoons and their fragile ecosystems with the
development of tourism is a challenge.

Tintin's engine died on us en route from Papeete to Moorea, giving us
the opportunity for more boat maintenance in exotic locations... Rob
diagnosed air in the fuel system, and yesterday we narrowed it down
to a leak at the base of one of our 2 primary fuel filters. Luckily we
have built in redundancy with 2 inline, so we could switch easily while
Rob sorted the problem.

Now we are on our way to Raiatea, 100 miles west. We have had an easy
night sail on a settled sea. Together with a few other ARC boats, we
are entering the Tahiti Pearl Regatta, sailing races between the
Leeward Society Islands of Raiatea, Huahine and Taha'a, on 9,10 and 11
May. We will be joined by Joe Grosjean (from Charm, another ARC boat)
and Josie Chandler (from RAID). The regatta website has a video of
last year's racing - worth a look. It should be fun!

Richard has the all clear from his surgeon to join us at Bora Bora,
which is the best news, so we will welcome him and Nicki back on board
on 19th May before we set off on 22nd to Suwarrow (Cook Islands) then
Niue, then Tonga.

We have just been visited by a pod of pilot whales as we make our
approach to Raiatea. 5 all surfaced then dived together, with others
"spy-bopping" ie just poking their heads out above the surface to look
around. Apparently pilot whales are unique among cetaceans in that
they can see in air as well as underwater. (Josie, on board with us en
route for the regatta, is a marine biologist so we are quizzing her at
every opportunity!)

Saturday 4 May 2019

The World ARC

Here's is the complete line-up of world ARC crews, plus a few Tahitian
dancers.  We received a great welcome at the Papeete Town Hall on
Wednesday evening and are now preparing to move on to Moorea.

Friday 3 May 2019

Papeete Life

We did well to arrive in Papeete before the bad weather.  We have had a
couple of days of rain but with a barely a gust in the marina but boats
arriving have reported 30, 40 touching 50 knots of wind with big seas. 
Several crews arrived  very frayed at the edges and a bit traumatised by
the experience. Fortunately, there seems to have been no lasting damage
to boats or people. Talking to them reinforced the feeling that we're
glad we've arrived. This is despite the fact the Papeete is definitely
the least pleasant location we've been to for 6 months!

It's a different life in Papeete to the rest of the trip. There's a real
feeling within the fleet of 'Phew, we've just sailed pver 6,000miles
since St Lucia - always pushing on.  Now we've arrived in Tahiti and
we'd just like to stop for a while'. The fleet is altogether now for the
first time since the Galapagos Islands nearly 2 months ago.  We are
enjoying seeing everybody again, catching up and taking stock - and of
course the inevitable boat jobs.

People who have not experienced blue-water cruising might wonder about
boat jobs - 'surely you just sail the boat? and if nothing breaks, it's
all good'.  Well, sort of.  We have a strong boat, we prepared well and
- touch wood - have had no major failure so far'  Still however, the
list of jobs was extensive.  My notebook of jobs for Papeete had the

-    Fix Snowy.  This is the only journey-limiting problem.  The seam on
the inflatable floor had come apart and there was a hole in one tube. 
We had tried multiple time to fix both, but air always continued to
escape.  Snowy is now in hospital and due for release tomorrow

-    Service the loos.  Take them apart, clear out the crap, replace any
worn parts (only a spring this time).  Nice job.....

-    Waggle all the seacocks to ensure they still open and shut (plastic
handle on 1 is cracked, but safety is unaffected)

-    Grease the steering cable (slight squeak gone now)

-    Financial Admin, paying bills at home, ensuring there is money in
the right place etc

-    Buy petrol for outboard and compressor

-    Recheck the travel on the engine gearshift selector cable (you
don't really want to know)

-    Buy a new shower head to replace the leaky one in our heads
(remarkably, we found an exact replacement)

-    Add dyneema soft shackles to the mainsail cars as an addition to
the bungee currently holding the sail to the mast

-    Update necessary bureaucracy re crew changes

-    Get a new electric dinghy pump.  After 12 noisy years, the old one

-    Download charts for cook Islands, Nuie, Fiji & Tonga

-    Restick the table leg to the hull where Richard and I pulled it off
in Jan

-    Service both genoa winches.  Now not squeaking any more

-    Laundry.  Great to have it done by someone else, but always seems
to come back at nearly double the original quoted price.

-    Fix SSB problem.  It kept freezing after 10 minutes use. The tale
of importing the replacement part into Tahiti is extremely long and
dull.  But it's now fixed under warranty so hopefully will not re-occur.

-    Paint marker lengths on chain.  Red at 10, 40 & 70m, Yellow at 20,
50 & 80m, Green at 30 & 60m

-    Write chain marking scheme on inside of anchor locker lid because
we keep forgetting

-      Improve the plate on the guardrail for holding the outboard so
that it actually is big enough for the outboard.

-    review list of scheduled maintenance

-    Buy all the dry stores & drink required for approx next 2 months

Yesterday, we did a lap of the island with Betrand, a friend we've been
on parallel tracks with since Fakarava.  He is on his boat 'Mupi' alone
for a couple of weeks as his wife flies home on family matters.  It was
an interesting drive but what stood out for me is just how little the
middle of the island is developed or even considered.  There are barely
any roads going further inland than, say, 1/2 a mile.  The fantastic,
lush, vertiginous mountains look completely unexplored.  One can visit
the base of 100m+ waterfall - climbing to the top is not an option.  The
island's entire focus is the coastal strip and the sea inside the reef.