Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tahiti


You know that you have been away from civilization too long when passing cars and trucks startle your children as they walk on the sidewalk! 


Amelie is currently anchored just outside the Marina Taina on the West Side of Tahiti, just South of Papeeté. Being in the largest urban centre in all of French Polynesia has been a bit of a shock to the system, but the people are just as lovely, and there are definite pluses too  .

Our neighbours at the anchorage


What’s great about this anchorage : 

1-We have the most spectacular view of Moorea, especially at sunset. 2-We have had the privilege of being a ‘starting line’ for an outrigger canoe race: Tahitians are an active bunch and they can handle an outrigger canoe like nobody’s business .....sitting in the cockpit we can see them go right by us, all in beautifully coordinated unison.... and so darn fast !  3-We are near one of the best (maybe even THE best) grocery store in all of French Polynesia !  All we have to do is dinghy into the marina and then walk 10 minutes to the store, and they will let you bring your cart right to the Marina ...it is so nice not to have to carry all those provisions on our backs ! 

Moorea (Background) and the Reef as seen from Amelie


Day tour of Tahiti. 

We wanted to get out of the city and see Tahiti’s more natural side so we rented a car for the day on Sunday. What a relief to see that Tahiti actually does have some very scenic sites !  We saw some very large caves, surrounded by lush forrest, towering waterfalls, stopped in to Tautira village where author Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) lived for a while  and was cared for by Princess Moe (of Tahiti). 


We also went up to the Taravao Plateau overlooking the Isthmus (narrow strip of land) between Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti (‘Large’ and ‘Small’ Tahiti) 


View from the Plateau




.and of course we just had to go see the world famous Teahupo’o  (pronounced ‘Chai Po’) , home of the mythical wave and world class surfing competition. The wave, which is about 1 km out from shore, is said to be: consistent, huge and  perfect  which is of course what every surfer is looking for, but only the most experienced surfers attempt to ride it !





Other than this tour, we have been mostly working on the boat.....trying to get through the most important items on the never ending To-Do List. Now that school is over for this year, we were able to get a fair bit done and ,even though we know we will never get to the end of the list, it still feels so good to check items off as they get done .Quite a bit of time has also been spent re-provisioning. The biggest one we’ve had since  Panama.....Since we will soon have 4 teenagers on board (yikes!), this requires some careful planning of snacks and meals ....thankfully Matthew has us well trained for this already!


Even with all the work that we have done on board, we have nevertheless taken the time to go see another great dance show one night (as part of the Orange festival on the weekend). It still amazes me how much energy the dancers display  for each performance and the drummers. keeping a furiously fast pace for the dancers,.....with their bare hands on these very tall wooden drums all the while signing and making loud war cries, ........quite powerful ....ensuring that no one in the audience, not even Mark- who has been known to fall asleep in more than one occasion- could EVER fall asleep during the show. It is really nice to see how proud the Tahitians (and all French Polynesians) seem to be about their culture, not only with the dancing, singing but also with their traditional way of life (the canoes, tattoos, ....) I think it reflects well on their education of their children, to carry this pride of their identity from a young age. Like I was telling Meg the other day : Imagine if the younger generation here all listened to modern music only and did not embrace their local traditions and music.....As tourist, you and I would have a very different experience visiting these far away places !  We would not have a chance to learn from them about their roots.....it would be a mush less interesting world to visit !  This helped us to have a new found appreciation  for all the work done in preserving different cultures, all around the world...



Roulottes:

The renown food trucks , called “Roulottes” can be found on any given evening, through out Tahiti. These are more than your average food vendor. They set up tables (with table cloths and all!)  and even have waiters come to take your order and serve you at your table . At the Main Roulottes area in Papeete, there are dozen of these trucks offering choices such as Pizza, Chinese Food, Steak Frites,  Pasta, Poisson Cru, Crepes and even Fondus !  We enjoyed eating out at these on a few nights !  Yum Yum !




Coming up, our friends Sonia, Alexis and Olivia are on their way to us  from Canada as we speak.....we look forward to sharing the nearby islands with them over the next 14 days !

Much love

4Ms sailing
XXXX



Wednesday, 24 June 2015

FAKARAVA to MOOREA

It feels like its been a while since I’ve written...has it been….?   I’ve lost track of time. 

Faka Rava
I’m trying to remember all that’s gone on since I last wrote...I believe I left you off as we were in Makemo in the Tuamotus.Ok, so, after leaving Makemo, we headed off to FakaRava, where we’d heard there were more people, and possibly even a restaurant.....??!!


FAKARAVA : 
Like the other atolls we had to time our entry in through the reef and estimate the tides (there are no actual tide tables available, and so you have to guestimate the tides and currents....which means that when we get to the pass, we stop and watch.....and then we communicate with any boat that is near us to share any information we may have, then we have another look at the pass, turn the engine on, bite our lower lips and head in.....all hands on deck....its a bit unnerving , but lots of fun too , and what a relief once we are through! 

  
Matthew enjoying a quiet beach in Fakarava

Fakarava was a real treat and so worth the visit!  We did not know until we got there that the pass was a protected UNESCO HERITAGE site. The snorkeling and diving is spectacular....no wonder it is rated as one of the top in the world!  So we spent everyday in the water.....looking around....While Meghan and Mark are the divers in the family, Matthew and I like to stay at the surface, me wearing a mask and snorkel and he, preferring the more natural “ Take A Deep Breath-Stick Your Head Under Water-Open Your Eyes Wide” approach....he really IS part fish!  Anyways, the highlights from my view point at the surface was : seeing a SCHOOL of sharks (dozens of sharks swimming, slowly, just below me).. the variety of the reef fish whose colours dazzle in the crystal clear waters.. the giant emperor fish AND finally: swimming under the restaurant’s (yes there WAS a restaurant after all!) deck while negotiating with a shark on who should have the right of way in the narrow pass between the pillars!  I let him go first.  I thought it was the polite thing to do, after all it IS his ocean.....but as he brushed right past me as he swam by it gave me such a THRILL!  Meg and Mark went diving everyday and they would see the same sharks as we would, except that instead of dozens, they were swimming with HUNDREDS of them....an experience they will never forget!



One of the many sharks we swam with

It's no wonder Disney is currently filming a nature film here, and we heard that BBC was just here a few month ago doing the same.  Maybe one day we will get to see Fakarava again, on the big screen.....
The restaurant in Fakarava


We could of easily stayed much longer in the Tuamotus, but, we are only allowed to stay 90 days (in total) in French Polynesia, and there are still Tahiti, Moorea, Riatea and Bora Bora waiting for us with only 30 days left  ....AND our friends are scheduled to arrive in Tahiti soon.So, we raised the anchor on June 16th and set sail for Moorea. We wanted to arrive in  time to partake in the Tahiti Rendez-Vous celebrations which were happening on the weekend. Morea, (like Tahiti), is a beautiful mountainous island surrounded by reefs. We arrived at the entry to Cooks Bay at about midnight on the morning of the 18th. We had never come into an anchorage so late at night before, let alone gone through a reef in the dark! (Moonless night!)  But Mark had done his homework checking the accuracy of the charts we have and he knew that the pass was well marked with navigation lights including range lights to get you in and down the bay (you have to love the French for that too!) So, after heaving to outside the entrance for a bit to let a small squall blow past, with Mark at the helm armed with our charts, radar and Google Earth image overlays (on the chartplotter and computer), and with me on deck keeping watch and calling out depth ...we made it through without any issue....we then had to find a place to anchor (I had to stand on the bow and use a flashlight to make sure we didn’t hit any other boats, as it was pretty dark!). We had a good night sleep and woke up to the breathtaking scenery of Moorea....tall mountains all around...reminiscent of Fatu Hiva’s Bay of Virgins.....but with fancy resorts ! 

"RENDEZ VOUS" FUN !

Coconut Grating Demonstration

The “Moorea-Tahiti Rendez-Vous” is an annual event held  for sailors who have crossed the Pacific.The events took place at one of the resorts called the Bali Hai.  The weekend was packed full of activities such as Polynesian Dancing, Traditional Outrigger Canoe Races, Good Food and Music, Demonstrations such as Coconut Husking, Weaving (with banana leaves) Rock Lifting, Sarong ('Pareo') Wrapping and even how to make beautiful head dresses and lays with flowers. 


Team Amelie ready for the Race !


The timing was perfect, as it was Father’s Day weekend, and my birthday...how lucky for us to have so many fun activities happening on that weekend!   In short; we had a blast!  Team Amelie got in third place (out of 5) in our heat of the canoe race....mostly because of our two local team mates (there were 6 seats in the narrow (and beautifully decorated) canoe....the front and back seats were occupied by the true professionals and the 4Ms sat in the middle seats, one behind the other. With the guidance of our experienced team mates we used our wooden paddles, digging deep into the water, switching sides when we were called to do so.... and paddled our hearts out!  (Matthew got to just sit and enjoy the ride). The whole things lasted maybe 15 minutes......but it was exhilarating to go so fast thorough the water and to cross the finish line! 



Meg (3rd from front) in the Kids Canoe race



The dance shows on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon were just FANTASTIC!  The dancers were so darn good  ( I had no idea a woman’s hips could move like that!) There was so much energy!  My favourite were the men....when they did their warrior dance (like the New Zealand ‘Haka”)....they really put their heart and soul (and muscles!) into it!  I could easily see how this would intimidate any rival....especially at the end of the dance when the men threw themselves into the audience with a loud war cry (and flying sweat) they would land mere inches away from a spectator’s face, freezing into a cold, angry stare....for 10...20 seconds of silence....really intense! 
I should know because I was the recipient of one of those stares....I shall  never forget those angry dark brown eyes looking into mine for what seemed like an eternity,  Of course after the spell is broken,  the same men relax and break into their signature friendly smiles....the act is done, and you can breath again but ....just.....wa-a-wow!
I wish I could of captured THAT on film! 


Birthday Girl Gets a Lift





Meg had a great time with the demonstrations and even took part in a relay race where she had to run carrying two stocks of bananas (one stock on each end of a bamboo pole) around a course. Matthew loved the music (loud drums!) and swimming in the Bali Hai Pool!  Mark had a great time catching up with all the cruisers we had met from Panama to Moorea....so many familiar faces and names....so many stories to swap!






After the party wrapped up, we sailed to Tahiti (Monday) and have been enjoying the hussle and bustle of the “Big City”....The last two days have been spent shopping, crossing items off of our boat list.....and of course we had to stop in to McDonalds.....to have  ice cream sundaes!  


Coming up : 

We have a few projects to work on before our guests arrive....tomorrow is the last day of school and so we will have more time to get all those things done !
Well, we hope you are enjoying your summer....here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are entering winter......but happily no winter boots or toques will be needed ! 


Loads of love
4Ms at sea
Society Islands

A "Sea Biscuit", like a "Fat" sand dollar, found intact !



Meg and Tristan ...the youngest and cutest crew member of SV Kazaio


This is one of the beauties that got away….a  5-6 foot sailfish we hooked between Tuamotus and the Society islands……





Meghan On Amelie-GREAT PACIFIC CROSSING

Well, it’s finally posted! Now, let’s just pretend that this was posted at the beginning of May, right after we arrived in the Marquesas so everybody take your time machines and read this as if we had just finished the crossing!

!!!WE DID IT!!! We did our longest crossing yet (and probably the longest crossing we will ever do): 19 and a half days from the Galapagos to the Marquesas! This blog will not be about land but about life when you are literally floating amid the waves of the biggest ocean on Earth for weeks!

Before you do a long crossing, there is quite a bit of preparation to do ahead of time. I really take “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best” seriously. I pictured in my head that the worst that could happen to us is we flip completely over (but, if we did, we would come right back up after) so I prepared my room for that! We never actually got even remotely close to the sail touching the water but I’m glad to see that I can prepare my room for that kind of condition. During the preparation stage, it can be stressful but once we get out on the open ocean, we become like rasta men say: “Hey mon, what were we fighting about mon?”!

I was actually very surprised. I thought that being out of sight of land for a long time would freak me out a lot because I would worry about storms, high winds and something happening to the boat like a fire or a leak but actually it did the opposite; it relieved me of my worries. After I realized that the way things were going on the crossing, there was about a 5% chance those things would happen.

Now, if somebody asked whether I like it better at anchor or out on the ocean, I would honestly say I like it better at anchor but if I was measuring this on a seesaw, the difference would be almost not noticeable. When your’e out at sea, you can do anything and I mean anything. You can scream as loudly as you want (which my dad is not a big fan of) and not a single soul either than your family will hear you! You can blast the music on your speakers as loudly as you can and no neighbours can come to complain. Even if the entire continent of Asia blew up, you would have absolutely no clue! 

You may wonder how we hand steer the boat for 3 weeks without stopping and the answer is: we don’t. Thanks to our friend “Auto” the autopilot, we just enter our course into “Auto” and the boat will just keep going on that course until we change it. It’s very efficient because that way, we can just relax and do our normal things while “Auto” drives us all the way there (but at anytime, we can always hand steer ourselves). As my dad phrases it, “I find that Auto has more patience than me”! Still, at least one person always has to stay in the cockpit though to make sure “Auto” doesn’t go off course and the autopilot still can fail if it is stressed too much in heavy winds or storms. That is why we have “Auto #2” just as a backup because if it fails, we would have to steer the whole way there which would not be fun. Of course, some boats do do that because either they don’t have an autopilot or their autopilot breaks (which is what happened to one of our friend’s on the same crossing). 
Dad raising the second headsail
About school underway, that went actually pretty normally. I was surprised that I was able to do all my subjects without ever feeling seasick at all! Of course, it was sometimes extremely frustrating in the swell and wind because my textbooks wouldn’t stay on the pages I needed them on. I did lose one handout in the wind! Despite all of that, I still managed to do school everyday except one which now that I look back at, I actually feel pretty accomplished. My dad did an exceptional job at getting us there safely, my mom did an amazing job at cooking three meals a day despite the challenges with the rocking, Matthew did an excellent job at finding new hobbies either than swimming and I feel I did a pretty good job at school everyday including weekends.

School only took up about half to two-thirds of the day so I definitely did other things to keep me busy during the day because you can’t just say, “I’m a bit bored, I think I’ll just go for a walk around town,”! I always like the quote “Music saves my soul” but on this crossing I truly believe that movies saved my soul! Thank goodness for a hundred thousand movies out there because almost every night is movie night on long crossings! I also enjoyed practicing guitar (I am working on my first song: “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young), making dozens of elastic bracelets to give to the local kids around the South Pacific, playing so many games of I-Pad Monopoly until I was able to beat my dad and lots of other stuff I can’t remember right now!

We obviously put out our fishing lines to see what there really was out there in as far as we could tell, the vast nothingness. Sadly, we only landed one small dorado fish (mahi mahi). We had actually hooked about 10 fish but all of them got away or we threw them back because they were too small (when they were still alive). The most impressive ones we hooked were about 6 and half foot sailfish and about a 5 foot marlin! The way we had arranged our lines is we attached a bungee cord with an empty pop can to the line and when a fish would grab on, the line would stress the bungee cord which would make the pop can bang against the deck alerting us there was a fish so we could go pull in the line. When we caught the sailfish, it went a bit differently than that though! The pop can went insane for about half a second and then we heard the fishing line being unwounded extremely fast and then WHAM! snap went about a quarter of the line, including our lucky lure which we had caught all our other fish with! We were looking frantically everywhere and then in the distance, we saw it “tail walking” (jumping out of the water but keeping it’s fin on the water making it look like it was walking on water), probably trying to get the lure out of its mouth!

Either than the fish, we also saw some other, not-good-to-eat animals such as dolphins, whales and birds. I had thought that 10 days from the nearest land, birds wouldn’t be around but that was obviously wrong because I saw birds every single day on our crossing. They weren’t even big birds, they were little blackbird sized birds coming for some offshore fishing!

One day, the same day we caught our mahi mahi, we got a spectacular dolphin show! There were about 20 5ft long dolphins splashing at the bow with a surprise pilot whale friend with them. It was very, very odd that one pilot whale was, first of all swimming amid all of these dolphins and, second of all, was also swimming right next to the boat. 

You might think that all the good stuff happens during the day which is partly true because you can definitely see things better during the day but when you see things at night, now that is special. One time, my dad saw dolphins when it was a full moon (which sounded really cool) but when we had our dolphin show it was a new moon. It’s true that we didn’t actually see the dolphins themselves but the phosphorescence (plankton that glow green in the water at night) outlined them so we could see where they were moving and the spray that came out when they breathed!

A hitch hiking Galapagos night seagull
sitting on our solar panels!

Also, on the first few nights, we saw some Galapagos night seagulls. The Galapagos night seagulls look exactly like normal seagulls except they have red eyes which let them see at night so they can fish! That time, there was a moon so we could kind of see them flying but the coolest part is that there were many of them so they were communicating back and forth making ticking noises.



I don’t think the animals are the most breath taking things on night watch though. I think the stars are. The only light pollution within hundreds of miles was our navigation instruments (which is very minimal light) so no stars are hiding. You look up and everything you see looks like a diamond. There is no way I could count all of them but I would guess there are probably 100 million or more! You can even see the milky way which you know is countless miles away because the stars are extremely hard to see. You see them for a second but then you don’t a second later but you know from that one second that there are more stars in that milky way than people on Earth!

I know that I am saying, “beautiful this, beautiful that” a lot in this blog but it’s not beautiful sunsets and stars and dolphins all day everyday on a 19 and a half day crossing. Everything takes longer when your’e moving. It takes two minutes to put on pants instead of 10 seconds. It takes five minutes instead of one to get up, go downstairs, get your notebook and come back up. 

Life in the kitchen on a moving boat, well... that needs a whole paragraph just to itself. I know I didn’t cook so I’m definitely not taking credit for that but I did do dishes sometimes so I have some experience in a moving kitchen. First of all, I can’t stack the dishes on the side of the sink like I always do because in the waves, they will just crash clang and it will end in disaster. I have to put them on one of our countless life saving anti-skid pads. In science this year, I learned that a stable structure is wider at the base than at the top and I think that washing dishes was the situation I thought I would least need that tip. Turns out, it was very useful because spreading my legs wide like the yoga warrior pose was the only way to stay standing. 

I hope you did not mistake my words as complaints because that is certainly not what they were meant to be. In fact, I think we were extremely lucky at how well the passage went. Some of our friends were not so lucky and had some bigger issues but if I start telling the stories, none of you will ever want to cross an ocean and I don’t want to eliminate that option for you. Yes, the continual swell we had was hair-ripping-frustrating at times and we didn’t have much luck with fishing but we had no serious injuries or illnesses, no storms, no boat problems (either than a minor laundry machine issue), we made pretty good time and let’s face it: we had A LOT of fun! 

For those of you who are wondering, when we stepped foot on land, oh yes, did it ever feel like the ground was moving! 

P.S: You can all come back the the actual date now:) 

Friday, 12 June 2015

Tuamotus - Amazing



Ahoy there !

We are still traveling between atolls in the Tuamotus!!

The sail between each atoll is usually done over night (as they are a close 40-60 n.miles apart and timing to leave one atoll in good light and/or tide, then arrive to the other in good tide or light) but we have to time our arrival just right with daylight to have the best visibility of the surrounding reefs. Sometimes this means slowing the boat right down or 'heaving to' (completely stopping) for a few hours in the night.


An atoll is an old volcanic island which has eroded away leaving nothing but a thin rim of reefs with an interior large lagoon. Some of the breaks in between the outer rim offer us a safe passages (which thankfully have been well charted and marked for arriving sailboats. Still, when the time comes for us to enter the passage ....it's "All Hand on Deck" and quite exciting!




What you see when you look in towards one of these passages is a swirling, boiling soup of water , waves going in any and all directions and the current can be quite strong....it is an eerie feeling as your boat gets caught up into the current and suddenly your speed increases, you are being pulled in, and all your have to do is keep control of the boat , steer it straight and keep the engine going... just in case.....Other than this little bit of steering control, you are quite at the mercy of the current for a few minutes....sort of like when the 'Millennium Falcon' gets pulled in towards the Death Star in Star Wars...except that instead of Storm Troopers and Lord Vader waiting for you at gunpoint when you arrive.....you are welcomed by calm, ridiculously transparent, beautiful, aqua blue water.


The dinghy dock at one of the rare "towns" found in the Tuamotus. This is the tiny village in Makemo. 



The anchorages we've been to so far have offered great protection. The view never disappoints; the idyllic deserted island....palm trees, surrounded by 'bombies' (small reef outcrops). At night, the stars shine brighter than anywhere I've ever seen on earth and there is no one around!

THIS is what we have to look out for while we are sailing in the  Atolls, there are many scattered all around us.


Because the water is so protected in these atolls, we have had some beautiful day sails. With almost zero swell, it is like sailing on a lake. Living onboard a monohull, we have grown accustomed to living while being constantly healed on one side, but these downwind sails have provided us with perfectly horizontal and steady ground to stand on....while still enjoying the fun of racing forward with the wind. The only think we have to be wary of are the many reefs, so one of us usually has to perch ourselves quite high in our rigging to keep a lookout.


Mark finds a comfortable spot to look for reefs….(Inside Makemo Atoll)
We have not been doing much fishing within the Atolls, as some reef fish have ciguatera (a type of food poisoning which is caused by an accumulation of toxins in the fish), but once back out in the deep, deep waters, we have thrown our lines in ....but we have not had much luck recently, only having caught one large unknown fish who promptly jumped out of the water stealing our lure and swimming out of our reach before we even knew it happened! One day we were subjected to a particularly cruel teasing by a large school of tuna. They swam along side Amelie for over an hour, jumping on either side of us. We could see them clearly as they chased along side our hulls. We had two lines out and Mark even went to get a fishing rod and started to cast out towards them....and we caught NONE! Oh well, we still got to enjoy a delicious fish barbecue with friends on board SV Perry who were luckier and caught an enormous (5 foot) wahoo one day!

Days have been filled with school, which is rapidly coming to an end (just a few more weeks before summer vacation starts!) and pretty spectacular snorkeling. It is amazing how quickly one adapt to sharing swimming space with sharks! There are just so many here! They usually come out to investigate when they hear our splash when we first jump in. They are pretty cool to see. Sure you get a rush of adrenaline (never fails), but then you see them gently swim on by. Occasionally they grant you a second or third visit to investigate you a little bit more, but nothing too alarming. We have mostly seen black tip (reef) and nurse sharks, usually in the range of 4-6 feet long, so not small....but harmless just the same.

The reef fish are very colourful here, even more colourful, I think, than in the Caribbean, and there is a greater variety of all the species...just so many, its hard to describe. It is always a joy to experience this, it never seems to get old!

Some colourful Clams in the Coral





'Mark'….It rhymes with 'Shark'!

A funny thing happened to Mark today as he was diving behind the boat (trying to retrieve a socket he had dropped while working earlier)....He came up laughing telling us that a ramora fish (the kind you often seen attached to a shark's belly) was trying to attach himself to Mark (and or his weight belt) and I guess he was quite insistent about it....Mark had to push him away several times!

But I  wuv you ! 

We are slowly making our way across the Tuamotus, currently at Fakarava, on our way to the Society Islands (Tahiti) which we should reach next week.


As always, we are sending you lots of love from this part of the world.


4Ms sailing
XXXX


Friday, 5 June 2015

A Memorable Dolphin Encounter and the Tuamotus

Before I tell you about the Tuamotus we have to talk about ...The Melon Heads

Sounds like a the name of an 80‘s punk band but I am actually refering to  the huge dolphin pod we encountered on the East Coast of Nuku Hiva. On our Way to Anaho Bay, our last anchorage before the Tuamotus, we had a pleasant day sail where we first were greeted by a pod of small grey and white dolphins. They did their usual fly by, just enough to delight us, for about 10 minutes....but less than 30 minutes later we were surprised to see more dolphins appear at our bow, they were of a much larger variety, grey like Bottlenose dolphins but with very round heads, (that’s were they get their name : the MelonHeads!) These very social dolphins stayed with us for about 90 minutes !  This was a fantastic display that Meg and MC simply could not get enough of !  We abandoned school for the morning and sat with them at the bow of the boat. These guys were so much fun and they didn’t want to leave us !  At one point the wind died and so did our speed, the boat was almost stopped and we couldn’t believe it, but the usually speedy dolphins actually stopped too !  They slowed , turned around and came to hang out at the boat , swimming around and waited with us for the wind to come up again !  Making eye contact with the dolphins was a very special thing.....every once in a while, one of them would turn to his/her side and look right into my eyes !  Meg and I were beside ourselves, and we even belted out a few songs to show the dolphins our appreciation What song do you serenade a dolphin with you ask ? Well, since we were dealing with highly intelligent animals, we chose everyone’s favourite classical: “Ave Maria” followed by “Edelweiss”. I think they liked it !  We didn’t scare them away anyways !




An amazing underwater shot of the same dolphins we saw, taken by Owen (SV Seabbatical) 

MC and Meg conversing with the 'Melon Head's at the Bow of Amelie (Photo courtesy of SV Seabbatical)


While in Anaho we enjoyed a hike over the hill to the nearby village where we visited another ancient archeological site and saw an enormous tree ! We then headed off to the Tuamotus !


Our Anchorage at Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva
The kids standing in front of a very LARGE tree , Nuku Hiva





More about the Tuamotus : 

As I mentioned in the last blog update, the three day crossing was not much fun,  but the destination was well worth it !  We were anchored in such still water that it felt like we were in a lake. We spent nearly a week, resting and cleaning the boat, doing school work and catching up on laundry, reading and sleep. We were again surrounded by many of our friends , all 'kids boats', so there were plenty of water sports for the kids to participate in !  Meg had a go at windsurfing, with Justin from SV Misbehaving, a former instructor, giving all the kids an afternoon lesson. Meanwhile, Matthew enjoyed being pulled around on the paddle board. 








We also had a chance to visit the nearby Pearl Farm. I was really neat to see how the process is done: They implant the adult clam with a natural fresh water pearl; (Harvested in the USA, Mississipi river and then processed in Japan) and then allow the pearls to grow over a few months (they put the clams back in the sea water, all attached to one another in a long chain) until they are ready to harvest. While snorkelling on the reef near the boat we found a clam, probably a stray from the farm which had come detached, when we brought it back to the boat,  Mark was able to open it, and we found a black pearl inside !



Another neat excursion for us was to go and see the site where the famous Kon Tiki expedition ended (where the raft crashed into the reef) in 1947. There was a small plaque with all of the names of the men who had been part of this legendary crossing. Lead by Thor Heyerdahl, their crossing proved to the world that a raft launched in South America could make the journey all the way to Polynesia. We had seen the movie a few years ago, but seeing this site inspired us to re-watch it that night. Meg enjoyed it very much.


We are now anchored just outside the town on Makemo, another atoll island in the Tuamotus. Not since Tobago Keys in the Grenadines last July had we seen water this crystal clear !  It is like we are anchored in a swimming pool !  At 60 feet, I could still see the bottom !  We look forward to some more great snorkelling.....already we have seen lots of  reef sharks, the usual multi-coloured fish ,some turtles as well as giant clam shells. 

Experimenting with cameras :


I will leave you with two different perspectives taken in the last week;

The first is a shot taken by Mark from the top of our mast (from 65 feet high):



and the second, of our first anchorage in the Tuamotus in Raroia, taken by mounting a camera to a kite !


Until next time, 

We are sending lots of love from the 4Ms
XXXX