Friday, May 6, 2011

At Sea Again

After spending a very busy three days In Taiohae Bay preparing to leave the Marquesas for the Tuamotus, we are once again under way! You wouldn't think that you would need three days to 1.Get fuel, 2.Get fresh fruit and vegies, 3.Go to the store and 4.Do the laundry (or more accurately- have it done!) but we hustled the entire time and almost ended up eating our first "at sea" dinner while we were still at anchor! Corie said it would have been easier to eat while anchored but you know, I made that meal ahead of time to eat under way! Like we have tried to describe before, everything takes much longer to accomplish by dinghy while living anchored out! For example! The fuel dock in Taiohae Bay is a long, concrete wharf with very large fenders intermittently attached where they might fend off a very large ship (much larger than ours...). As the surge is fierce along the dock, we decided not to pull up to the wharf for fuel, but to instead carry fuel via the dinghy, out to the boat in jerry jugs (six jugs at a time). Some people are able to do this single-handedly but it definitely takes all three of us to accomplish the project- one person to stay in the dinghy to hold it off of the concrete and two people to climb up and down the ladder on the concrete wharf (avoiding the crabs on the wall and whatever else may be clinging to it!) with the jerry jugs and then carrying the jugs back and forth from the gas pumps (across a dirt lot FULL of mud puddles) back to the ladder. Since the tide has dropped three feet by the time we have all the jugs filled with diesel the descent down the ladder into the dinghy with the full jugs is treacherous! Neal rigged up a rope to lower the jugs, Corie caught the jugs and stowed them (while bobbing up and down in the surge) and I held the dinghy off of the concrete wall (while bobbing up and down in the surge) trying not to touch any crabs or other creepy crawly things! Back out to Rutea to transfer the fuel to the fuel tanks and then back to the fuel wharf to repeat the whole procedure one more time! Total time... about four hours! We started early in the morning because... EVERYTHING closes down in the middle of the day for two hours... even the gas stations!

Anyway, I could go on and on.... we barely got our laundry back before we wanted to leave because the laundry service does not have dryers.... everything air dries and the air is very humid! Takes forever and the towels are crunchy! No problem though, while we were hanging out at the dinghy dock, waiting for laundry to dry we were able to eat another crepe from the truck/crepery and watch the sharks in the water battle over tuna scraps the fishermen were throwing into the water (right by the dinghies!) as they cleaned their fish! Yes, that would be six foot black tipped and white tipped reef sharks. Corie taped some awesome video of it and posted some photos somewhere.... We were very careful NOT to rinse our feet off in the water before stepping into the dinghy this time!

Time to weigh anchor for the Tuomotus! Bow anchor- no problem! Stern anchor- a huge pain in the... well.... stern! Because the breeze often comes in perpendicular to the swell in the bay, a stern anchor is needed to hold the boat into the swell so you don't roll gunnel to gunnel while anchored. The challenge is that the stern anchor is 45 pounds at the end of fifty feet of chain which is at the end of a hundred feet of rope! Did I say that the anchor is well set in mud and that there is NO windlass to help pull it up or protection to keep it off the side of the hull????? Did I say there is a ten knot breeze on the beam while we are trying to get the anchor up? Neal and Corie pulled in the line with heroic effort. Once they got to the chain, however, they needed to get creative. Neal rigged up a rolling hitch to the chain (to hold it up to the boat) and attached the mizzen running back shackle to the chain while Corie tightened up the running back to haul in the chain. Neal was sprawled on the deck with his head under the life lines of the stern pulpit and Corie was standing on a pile of line to give her some height. They pulled in that chain about two feet at time, repositioned the rolling hitch and the mizzen shackle and pulled it in another two feet, until forty feet were up and they could tell the anchor was off the bottom. Hand over hand, they hauled in the last of that chain and anchor together, lifting it over the life line until it was safely on the deck! I couldn't believe the strength and tenacity they both had to get that anchor on board- it was amazing! Oh yes, I had an important part too! I hosed the mud off of the anchor just before they pulled it on deck!

The Marquesas were spectacular! As we left the bay a ten foot Manta Ray glided by the boat. Waves crashed against the dark sentry rocks at the bay entrance and white, billowy clouds loomed up against a brilliant blue horizon. In a mere 503 miles we will enter Arikitamiro Pass on Makemo Atoll in the Tuomotus. We will be introduced to a completely new South Pacific habitat and way of life- even more remote than the Marquesas. Once again, everything will be new and different and we will be on a new learning curve. What I do know is that we will still be on "island time" and we will just take it slow and one wave at a time!

R of Rutea
At 5/6/2011 7:28 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 10°50.61'S 140°57.11'W

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1 comment:

  1. I'm exhausted just reading about your day. So much for picturing you being all lazy there in paradise. I wish you smooth sailing for these next 500 miles.
    Maybe while you're out there with less to do, I'll get an email out of you!