Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Med Moored in Papeete and Marina Life

Hello :)

After two nights on passage, we had an uneventful trip through the Papeete channel to Marina Taina. We rejected their first offering of slip (too tight for us to manoever into) and now we are med moored near a number of friends along a big dock. It was stressful, but successful: a "Mediterranean mooring" has all the boats perpendicular to a long jetty, with anchors dropped out in the channel and lines holding the boats straight. Both Victoria and Johnathan were helpful - V kept B and J tied on fenders and then operated our "roving" fender. I put the anchor down, Max backed the boat in, then I tossed two stern lines to the marina staff. The boats only have a few feet between each other, so the tolerances are very tight (esp with 12+ kts of wind and lots of current). Very glad to be safely here.

Internet - we think we can get access here, but not likely til tomorrow.


More later,
Love,
Elizabeth
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At 7/27/2014 2:19 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 17°17.00'S 148°00.00'W

Greetings!

There is hardly anything much to write about today ... nothing so idyllic as a bonfire or snorkelling or sharks ... just boat work and boat prep - the less than glamourous side of cruising in general and cruising in the tropics in particular :)

We are fortunate in our place in the marina - we are across the dock and three boats down from our Belgian friends, which means that there are four children to occupy each other rather than just two (a little taste of Berwick-like life as they make community with each other on the dock (blankets, crafts, snacks, playmobil) Max and I visited our yacht agent today; she has the paperwork to get our AIS through the courier, and we should get it from her in the next couple of days. She has also put us in touch with a refrigeration person and an exterminator ... thus the boat prep task of the day. We hope the fridge guy will come on Wed.

I was hoping to spend the day cleaning/stowing/preparing so that the exterminator could walk on board and say, "How on earth did you get bugs, your boat is so clean and tidy and well-swept!" Unfortunately, he did a pre-visit visit today and caught me in my normal state ... dishes in the sink, floors that needed sweeping, and cubbies that had spilled their contents on the benches in order to let someone find something inside them .. oh, well, such is life on a boat with a baby. Henri and his son were very nice, and gave us an idea of what to expect tomorrow. The son will do the treatment for us, and they basically suggested that we take the baby stuff and bedding away (the bedding was headed to the laundry anyway .. 800 French Polynesian Francs ($10)/load!) and make sure that any fresh food was put into plastic boxes or the fridge. Since our fresh produce at the moment consists of three pamplemousse and a few potatoes, this won't be too hard! They are quite confident that they can deal with our "little friends", but I will be so glad when it is over!!!

On the (very) bright side, Max did the seasonal windlass servicing today. When he did it (after a longer gap) in January with my dad, it took them a day and a half just to get the windlass apart (including much head scratching and the use of a borrowed "puller"). Today, Max had the windlass apart and back together again in less than an hour! Such a relief :) He also tackled our less-than-well-designed grey water system, which has a very flat hose run, and therefore has a habit of blocking itself up. With loads of high-pressure fresh water in this marina, he was able to force a stream of water through the shower drain, and it seems to be flowing much better now (of course, this required the saloon floor to be opened up and all the contents of the bilge storage compartment to come out, but at least this was after Henri's visit! The compartment was aired and closed again shortly after supper).

Max has quite a list of boat jobs to accomplish while we are here; my jobs are simpler - laundry and provisioning for the next three months. We are still comfortably using our stores from Mexico, but we will need more staples before New Zealand. The trick will be to figure out what we need and to not buy too much: they have strict rules about what we can bring in with us, and anything that can't come into the country goes overboard before we arrive (literally or figuratively).

Of course, the busier we are, the more likely it is that all the kids on the dock will gravitate to our boat. At one point (while the floor was open) we had three boys, three girls, and Benjamin aboard. Thankfully I was able to entice them back to the dock with the suggestion of swimming. It turned out that the pool at the marina was not the "marina pool" so that wasn't an option after all, but since the water is clear enough to see the pilings under the jetties, and we are on the end of the dock (without a neighbour on that side) the kids were soon convinced to jump in near the boat, then they realized it was at least as much fun to spray each other with the hose. Let's just say that that was the last we saw of them aboard for a while!

The Rainbow Looms have also been quite a hit with both boys and girls (it reminds me of Lego for older kids as they share supplies and ideas). I am now sporting a snazzy new ankle bracelet, with the promise of more to come :)

Despite thinking that I had nothing to say when I sat at the computer, I guess it has been a busy day after all :) I will close at this point, as we have an early start tomorrow to be sure our spaces are ready for the arrival of Henri's son mid-morning. Fingers crossed for a successful visit!

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 7/29/2014 12:06 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 17°35.17'S 149°36.99'W
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At 7/29/2014 12:06 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 17°35.17'S 149°36.99'W

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Passage to Tahiti

Hello!

Saturday morning. We have had a bit of everything so far - winds as forecast ([6-10 kts from abaft the beam]- my watch) and winds *not* as forecast (25-27 kts - Max's watch, thank goodness). We are rollicking along now at a boat speed of around 7 kts [in fact I need to keep reefing to keep the boat speed under 8 kts. Max] (much faster than when I was on watch last night, and we were barely doing 3 kts!)

Will write more later, but thought you might like to know that all is well. We split the night in half - I took the 8pm watch, Max came up for a squall at 1245 and stayed on until 6am. He is sleeping now and I have the kettle on for hot chocolate for the kids, both of whom have also been awake since just after 6am. Must be getting soft...

Love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 7/26/2014 6:28 PM (utc) Fluenta's position was 17°07.00'S 147°05.00'W

Hello!

I started this email last night, around 9:30pm, having enjoyed benign conditions throughout my watch. In fact, it was so lovely that I decided to go back up to the cockpit to enjoy the tranquility, planning to write more later. At about 12:45, we were approached by a squall that stretched as far as the eye could see [in fact, as far as the radar could see as well. I had just finished shaking out the reefs in the main from the previous squall and checked the radar to see a big squall at the six nm scale. I was debating if I had room to avoid it under sail when I went to the twelve nm scale and saw that behind the first big squall was a squall line across the entire radar screen. Interesting in that the behind it did not ease and there was no barometric pressure change behind the squall line but it certainly did change the wind for the next 30 hours. Max]. This marked the beginning of what turned into a 24-hr "squall": even after the clouds went by, the winds stayed up around 18-22 kts, peaking at 27 kts during Max's night watch. Not so tranquil anymore!

So here we are on the evening of day two of our passage to Tahiti. After big winds all day (higher than forecast), they finally dropped around sunset (as forecast), and we are actually motoring now because we don't have enough wind to sail! We expect to arrive tomorrow around mid-day. We all found that our sealegs had gone walkabout during our month at anchor, so no one was doing anything extra today. (Everyone was fine, but we were a bit out of practice). I will do even more baking-ahead before our next big passage (muffins, soup, rice bowls, etc)

The seamanship award of the day yesterday went to Johnathan. He noticed a funny sound in the aft cabin just after the engine was started. Not long after we had come down to investigate, the boat gave a crazy lurch: we think that somehow the engine had put itself into gear, and drove hard onto the anchor chain. Everything seemed to be fine [other than a broken anchor roller and bent axle for the anchor roller], and we weighed our anchor shortly thereafter, but it was a bit unsettling to say the least!

Max & Johnathan had surveyed our exit route, but it was still dicey leaving the anchorage; there are coral heads all over the place. We escaped without harm, and left the atoll during a slack tide. It was delightfully anticlimactic :)

Johnathan also got the "proud mama" award nomination for yesterday: after the boat lurched forward, I left a crying Benjamin with the kids and went up to the anchor. This turned into weighing anchor, which meant that Benjamin did not get his "mama fix" before I left. No worries - Johnathan was there. He took him in his arms and jiggled him for a few minutes, and he went to sleep. He was so proud of him self when he came up to tell me about it a few minutes later - and I was proud of him!

Other than feeling a bit off because of the strength of the wind/seas (a good excuse for KD and other treats) today's passage has gone smoothly. Our autopilot is doing really well, both on wind-hold and course-hold. I am so grateful that Max installed all these new electronics when we were in Mexico!

You are probably wondering what on earth we do with Benjamin during the passage ... for the most part, someone holds him (usually me). Sometimes he is set down on the floor of the cockpit, with constant surveillance and the solid barrel-bolted companionway door in place. We will get a proper tether for him as soon as we can, then he (like V&J) will be tethered whenever he is the cockpit; in the meantime, he spends a lot of time in my wrap! Right now, he is sleeping on the starboard setee in the main saloon, so he is close if he wakes, but I have my hands free.

We haven't caught anything but our lures yet (not recommended - over an hour to detangle the lines!), but we are hopeful for tomorrow.

That's about it for now - love to everyone,
Elizabeth
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At 7/27/2014 2:19 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 17°17.00'S 148°00.00'W

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Friday, 25 July 2014

We are living in an aquarium

Greetings!

The wind stopped briefly today, and the water in the anchorage went completely still around the boat. Just around this time, we threw out our "overboard box" of kitchen scraps. I was in the galley preparing various foods and snacks for our upcoming passage when the others started to exclaim and to call me to "come and see - bring the camera". I grabbed Benjamin (no time for hat/sunscreen/clothes/wrap), and ran up the stairs. We were perched on top of a 30-foot deep aquarium! We had four sharks, numerous angel fish, a remora, and various other species (that you will have to ask the kids about, because I don't know them by name!) all exploring the scraps that Max & the kids were throwing overboard (with great splashing to get their attention) one item at a time. For the better part of half an hour, we tossed scraps and watched them circle (although they didn't eat much of what we gave them.) The water below was as clear as the air above, and even deep down to the bottom, we could see fish, coral, and sand. A short while later, a slight breeze picked up, the surface returned to its usual rippled state, and the view to the world below closed again. It was extraordinary.

Max & the big kids are camping ashore tonight - it is our last night in the Tuomotus. We thought that this island was so tiny that it would not have any creatures on it, but it turns out that not only are there rats, but they climb trees! (I am somewhat happy to be hanging out on Fluenta with my familiar bugs, soon to be eradicated by a professional). I understand that their supper of foil-baked marlin, foil-baked potatoes (chopped with enthusiasm by Johnathan), and canned corn was quite yummy. When we spoke on the radio, they said that they were too full to eat the canned fruit that I sent (but they might have room for the squares of chocolate...)

As for Benjamin, he has been sleeping most of the evening, so I have made yogurt, sugared/salted nuts, granola, pancake mix, and chocolate cake (V would like to decorate it tomorrow, but we will see!!) in preparation for our passage. I will set out the (mostly canned) ingredients in the morning for a big pot of soup. The saloon and aft cabins are stowed. I will help Johnathan with his room while Max sorts out the last-minute items (ie post-outboard/dinghy) on the aft deck, and we will plan to weigh anchor at 11am. The passage to Papeete is expected to take about two nights, with an arrival around mid-day on the third day. We have booked ourselves into the marina there to make our stop as efficient as possible (at 100 CPF/foot/day - we will keep our visit short!) and we will coordinate with our agent for the exterminator, the fridge guy, provisioning, and internet access (yes, you might even see some photos while we are there!)

Love to all,
Elizabeth
PS - We are enjoying our bananas from the man in the village at the north pass, but they are not as sweet as Marquesan bananas. We still have four pamplemousse, but they are starting to look a bit sad. It will be good to eat lots of fresh fruit & veg when we arrive!
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At 7/23/2014 5:56 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°31.11'S 145°28.55'W

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Thursday, 24 July 2014

More Snorkelling and a campfire ashore

Hello!

The highlight of today for me is a three-way tie :)

*** It might be the hour or so that I spent snorkelling in/near the pass while Max & Benjamin drove the dinghy.

or

*** It might be the few minutes of stillness in our new Mexican hammock, hung between two coconut trees on the beach, just before a beautiful, cloudless sunset.

or

*** It might be the evening of family time sitting around a built-by-the-children campfire, later watching one child catch fish by hand, one child build his own fire, and one child sleep in my arms.

I don't even need to decide; I will just tell you about the day...

We are planning to head for Tahiti (Papeete) in two days (we have a weather window), so today was the last full "fun" day in the Tuomotus before we spend most of tomorrow doing passage preps. We decided to snorkel in the morning and spend the afternoon on the beach. Benjamin slept before we went, so he was happy hanging out with Max during the snorkelling. The kids and I had a long drift across the pass and then another along the edge of the reef. There weren't many sharks, but the water was incredibly clear and flat (just the way we hope it is when we leave in Fluenta). It was glorious to simply drift along, keeping my eyes open for kids and sharks and fish (and finally sharks & fish as the kids had enough before I did). In one area, we saw pairs of fish swimming gill-to-gill; Victoria saw them doing a spiral pattern. We think they might have been doing some kind of mating sequence. In another area, I saw big eyed fish stacked like firewood under a boat. At one point, the water was 70 feet deep, and we could see the bottom!

We dropped Johnathan at the beach after we went snorkelling because he wanted to build his own shelter and a ladder (with lashings), then Max, Victoria, and I headed to Fluenta for a quick lunch before returning to the beach armed with hot dogs, hammocks, and other necessities for an evening ashore. There wasn't much daylight left but we did manage to hang our hammock, and both of us had a few minutes to sit in it. "Peace & quiet" is a bit of a misnomer, but there can be a certain joy in listening to kids making the various sounds that kids make. Victoria was teaching Benjamin to splash in the shallows, and Johnathan was using his knife to make a club out of a palm frond. We were also serenaded by the sounds of some kind of ocean bird, and of course the constant pounding of the surf on the outer reef.

There was absolutely no wind in the late afternoon; everything was still and quiet, and we were the only ones on our beach. We realized that it was nice yesterday to share it with other cruising families, and also nice to enjoy it alone today; it strikes me that this is typical of cruising in general. Victoria & Johnathan started our fire, and we burnt such a big log that we ended up staying quite late on the beach: it was almost (cruisers') midnight (ie 9pm) when we returned to Fluenta. Max and the kids have determined that this will not be our last campfire here, however. Their plan is to stay ashore tomorrow night, so we will need to work efficiently to do both boat preps and shelter preps during daylight. The menu may be a little posher for our celebration - we still have some wahoo in the freezer that we can wrap in foil and cook in butter, and surely we have something desserty that we can cook on the fire. We might even try pottoes in foil again, perhaps cooking them for less than 90 min this time!

As we dinghied back to Fluenta, we realized how spoiled we have become - there are five other anchor lights shining on our side of the pass, and it feels a bit crowded. On the other hand, the other side of the pass seems to be offering a taste of the "bright lights, big city" that waits for us in Papeete: several huge yachts are at anchor, and they are ablaze with lights.

Anyway, now you have a taste of our lovely day; I hope things are lovely wherever you are as well.
Love,
Elizabeth
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At 7/23/2014 5:56 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°31.11'S 145°28.55'W

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Diving (no sharks) and a bonfire

Hello!

Max and the kids got their exercise today diving on Fluenta, using the last of the air in Max's tank in anticipation of having it refilled at the dive shop tomorrow. Both kids love to breath-hold dive on the hull and rudder to help clean away the barnacles and growth that can slow us down on passage (we sure don't tell them that it is work not play!) It was with a certain relief that they finished with no sharks ambling over to check out the proceedings. Even though they seem benign, it is kind of like having bears in your back yard that want to come to sit on your porch. According to Max's dive master, there has only been one shark attack here in recent memory, and that was of a local fisherman who was cleaning fish and reached into the water to pick up a piece of steak that he had dropped. The shark thought he was stealing food and expressed his displeasure. That being said, nervous or not, we will probably go to the pass again tomorrow and drift-snorkel with them!

As Max and the kids were preparing to dive, we had a visitor. One of the other cruisers is a teacher in her "other life" and she had mentioned during the pearl visit last week that she had some books she likes to read with kids. She had come over to read to them! We all learned a bit about wombats, dingoes, koalas, and other creatures native to Australia. I love watching how our kids glow when they are engaged with an adult who is not one of their parents :)

Victoria and I had some fun this afternoon. In preparation for one of "my four-day pedicures" (Day 1 - remove polish. Day 2 - shape nails. Day 3 - apply new polish. Day 4 - tidy everything away ... ), my bundle of polishes had been sitting on the table for the last few days (I had made it as far as day 1 a few days ago). "Give me your hands," she said. "Ok," the new me said (the old me would have refused and told her that it was lunch time and I had chores to do; lovely mother-daughter moment would have been lost to the mists of "might have beens"). After several very carefully applied layers were completed, I found myself with five different nails on each hand - one each of brown (earth), neon green (grass - colour selected by Johnathan for Victoria's last birthday), orange center/blue spots (flower), blue (sky), and orange dot/blue surroundings (universe). I certainly wouldn't have produced such a creative manicure myself! Who knows what my eventual pedi will look like :)

We all went ashore in the late afternoon for a sunset bonfire. When we arrived, there were already folks there from two kid boats. One boat has a French family who have been living in Tahiti for the last 15 years (along with his parents who have come here to visit them for a month). The other has a family who, in their own words, is half Spanish, half Italian, and half French (and who speak English after a few years in the US). The second family has three big girls (12, 10 & 8) and a small boy (4), so it was fun to speak to a mom with similar experiences as ours. After meeting Benjamin, her kids have started asking why they can't have another baby too :) This beach is lovely, so we are planning to spend most of the afternoon there tomorrow, and maybe even get some nice photos as the sun is setting on the other side of the lagoon.

On the food front, I successfully made yogurt last night. My first two batches had turned out to be quite spotty/lumpy, so this time I poured the hot milk through a tea strainer before I added it to the starter, and it turned out to be a much smoother consistency. Without a yogurt maker on board, I heat the milk powder (400 mL) and water (900 mL) almost to a boil, then cool it to 110-120F. This just nicely fills a 1L mason jar. Months ago (back when we had wifi) I read a blog post by Estrelita where Livia described using their pressure cooker to cure the yogurt. Of course, I don't have this post to refer to now, so I decided to add hot water (approx 125F) to my pressure cooker to a depth of about 6+", set the lidded jar of milk/starter in it, cover the pot and wrap the whole thing with a towel. Since I started late in the evening, I left it only the minimum time (4 hr), then stirred it (to stop the action of the cultures) and put it in the fridge overnight. It was lovely and thick when I checked it, so I think we have our technique and recipe (thanks to SV Litorina in Tahanea) that I will just tweak from now on. Fun. I am looking forward to the time when various from-scratch foods are second nature to make each week (yogurt, bread, granola, dried fruit, etc). None of them are hard, but they all take some planning, coordination and practice.

Dinner was much less homemade: wieners on roasted on sticks and eaten in wraps with ketchup. We were going to be healthy and eat sweet potatoes roasted in foil, but we left them too long (ie the whole evening ... we found them when we were putting the fire out!) and decided just to throw the resultant charcoal to the fish :)

We are starting to look ahead to our post-French Poly itinerary. We can go to NZ either via the Southern Cooks or the Northern Cooks. As we read accounts from other cruisers in the various compendia and cruising guides, each seems lovely, so somehow we will wade through all of this information, throw in a bit of intuition, weather forecasting, and scheduling, and come up with our plan for the early fall. As you may have seen on our blog, we are hoping that someone will jump aboard with us in the November time frame to sail from Tonga to NZ with us, as this has the potential to be a bouncy passage. It will be fun to see who joins us :) (Let me know if you have someone in mind).

Anyway, that pretty much sums up a lovely winter day (27 deg C) in French Polynesia.

[Maintenance update: not much to report. As always, there are unplanned arisings. The recent case was a strong chemical/paint smell in the cabin. We have an extensive collection of sprays and whatnot (what at work would have been called the POL Locker but alas not up to a standard that would have passed an AFSO inspection. Sadly considering I was at one point a Aviation Fluid Services Officer). After gaining access to the POL locker the smell got stronger and then I started finding the trail of black goo. Turns out a can of belt dressing let loose creating a lovely slick of toxic gunk. All cleanable but not what I had on my maintenance schedule. At about the same time we noticed that the fresh water pump seemed to be straining. Normally we replace the water filter every six months but was clogging already after three months. Acess is again a pain but not complicated. Thankfully we also stocked up on filters in Mexico. What was on my maintenance schedule was the every six week topping up our almost 1000 amp-hour house battery bank with distilled water. Not a complicated job but time consuming as boat disassembly and boat yoga is required to fill the 24 cells (eight x six volt batteries with three cells each). We also have two six volt batteries for the windlass bank and a 12V start battery. Liz mentioned the hull cleaning which we try to do monthly as well as checking the prop and shaft zincs. It was a treat to do the cleaning with the SCUBA tank than freediving. The inexpensive Comex paint seems to be working much better than the expensive Trinidad SR paint we had applied in Anacortes. Max]

Happy summer and love to all,
Elizabeth
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At 7/23/2014 5:56 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°31.11'S 145°28.55'W

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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Diving and Snorkelling at Tetamanu Pass (Fakarava)

Greetings!

Today's email is a combined effort ... I will give you the general update, and Max will fill you in on the details of the diving that he did here.

Yesterday morning was an early one for Max ... he left the boat just after 0615 to go diving. Early morning is the dive master's favourite time of day as the light is supposed to be the best. The kids and I had a quiet Sunday morning (I had a moment of "Holy Smokes, it is Sunday again!" and put on my "Sunday Music" playlist. We don't make it to any kind of church, but I play my "soul music" for everyone as often as I remember!) Again, with care of the soul in mind, I left the kids reading, and meditatively cleaned the cabin, enjoying my own company. It was so much more peaceful than nagging them to help, creating angst, and still doing the whole job myself. Even Benjamin cooperated by sleeping on the bunk where the big kids were reading. It was lovely to do the basic chores that tend to get missed when we are coming and going - tidying, sweeping, dishes - and everyone enjoyed the space when I was finished. Breakfast was a Sunday Brunch of corn pancakes.

In the afternoon, we dinghied over to the little beach by the resort where the sharks like to swim. There were four local children swimming and carrying on when we got there. Neither they nor the sharks paid each other any attention. As Max describes below, we took his diving gear, and the kids got a chance to blow some bubbles in the shallow water. It is still rather surreal to be standing waist deep near the beach, then put your face in to watch the sharks swimming around! I was able to join Max under water because the "boss lady" of the resort (the same one who taught us about coconuts the day before) came over (twice) and offered to hold Benjamin for me. On the second time, I said yes! He stayed with her, walking about and watching people for a good 20 min, and only cried when she let someone else hold him (and a bit of baguette fixed that!) As the afternoon wore on, two other kid boats worth of dinghies joined us on the beach, so after a little play and a chat, we all headed back to the anchorage. There are two ways to get there - the long way (following the channel around the reef and into the anchorage from the 'back') and the "short" way (crossing the channel, hugging the beach, and walking the dinghy across the really shallow part). All three families took the "short" way back, and it was quite funny to see everyone walking and towing their dinghy. We used the long way today!

This seems a good spot to inject Max's dive summary ...

***

Diving.

We talked to both dive shops but only Topdive would accept my ACUC card. I received the ACUC certification when I completed the Navy's Ships Diving Officer course many years ago. I do not know if ACUC even still exists. I dove as a Ships Diving Officer for HMCS PRESERVER and while at RNAS Culdrose but have not done a lot of sports diving. Although we carry a set of diving gear and two tanks onboard Fluenta we do not have a compressor so diving is reserved for hull maintenance and anchor retrieval that is too difficult to do free diving unless we are lucky to sailing with a boat with a compressor (miss you guys in SV Sweet Dreams !). {Liz note - ie Max still generally dives for work but not for fun!}

I did three dives over two days in the Tetamanu Pass of Fakarava. All three had elements of drift diving and I saw lots (and lots and lots) of sharks. On the second dive we stayed stationary near a canyon where the current is fairly quick and the sharks stay relatively still over the ground but with good water flow. In these spots you could likely see 50 or more sharks at any one time and there were three waves of sharks. All quite close but they seemed unconcerned with our presence. Biologists were here a few weeks ago and counted 650 sharks in the passage itself. On the last dive we used Nitrox to increase our bottom time at depth. Again, lots of sharks but also large schools of barracuda, some Napoleon fish and one huge triton shell. I took my new toy for the passage, a Go Pro camera, on the dives and took many pictures so some will end up on the blog once we have internet.

Since I dove with the local shop they will fill my dive cylinders for a reasonable cost. However, the tank is not fully empty as I only used a bit of air doing the epoxy "cap" to hold the skeg bolts in place, so copying from SV Nautilus I took the kids diving. We kept it very simple. They used my spare regulator from my tank and we just sat on the bottom two to four feet below the surface and watched the sharks swim around us. Liz had a chance to go with my two and left Benjamin with a Tuamotuan lady ashore for a few minutes to sit on the bottom and check out the sharks. Again, the sharks are most unconcerned with our presence in their domain. I went for a snorkel along the edge of the pass as well and saw another large Napoleon fish.

Today, the kids and I did some drift dives snorkelling along the reef with Liz and Benjamin manning the safety boat as we bounced along towards the ocean. Again, an incredible diversity of fish and lots of black tip sharks. Johnathan went for an extra dive and saw one Napoleon fish in the distance but were unable to swim against the current far enough to get close. Perhaps tomorrow.

***

Back again ... so yes, Benjamin and I manned the safety boat while Max and the big kids swam along the current. It is a bit nerve wracking to follow three members of your family, not get too far away and not run them down when you pick them up, all while paying attention to the movement of the current. It was especially stressful because I am I am out of practice as Johnathan tends to be the one to drive us around these days!

Before going diving, we had a marathon Harry Potter day here today. We watched the third movie last night, and both kids read hundreds of pages in the seventh book today; they finished within 10 min of each other this evening! It was lovely and quiet; they each had one of the Kobos (we bought two in the fall) and there was no argument over whose turn it was with the book the way there is with one copy of a paper book!

Benjamin is a fan of pretty much any flavour. Lunch today was a chili-bean-chicken-corn soup (from cupboard to imagination to pot all in the space of 20 min), to which I had added extra hot sauce to my portion. When Benjamin started making his "I want what you have" sounds, I started giving him one bit on the end of the spoon at a time. He gobbled it up! The funniest part of today, however, had to be dinner time. Dinner tonight was a Wahoo fillet from our previous passage. {Supposedly the fish is good in this atoll, but we have elected not to take chances, as there seems to be some fish from some areas that are not safe. We will fish again when we are on passage.} Since our little "high chair" only mounts on the saloon table, when we eat in the cockpit, we often sit Benjamin beside us on the bench and give him a towel as a mat to make the cleanup easier. He quickly decided that he was done sitting still on the mat beside me, so Max took a turn. We don't have much in the way of recognizable language from him yet ... but the meaning of the loud grunts he makes when he sees food that we haven't yet shared is pretty clear. Max fed him for a minute with his grownup fork, then even that was not enough for Benjamin - he had to have the fork in one hand and fistfuls of rice in the other. He was like a little bird that hadn't been fed in a month! The whole family was laughing, as was Benjamin. It is such a delight to have a new little person in the mix! (And it is times like these when it is nice to be able to turn on the salt water pump and spray the entire eating area to do the cleanup :) )

If we were closer, you wouldn't need all this detail - you would come for dinner and watch Benjamin for yourself! That not being the case, this little note will have to suffice, and allow you to join us for dinner (and diving and living aboard) vicariously :)

Love to you all,
Elizabeth
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At 7/18/2014 4:41 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°20.29'S 145°29.77'W

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Monday, 21 July 2014

Seeking Crew for Tonga to New Zealand

We will be looking for an additional crew member for the Tonga to New Zealand leg in November. The advert for the passage is below. if anyone is interested:

SV Fluenta is looking for one crew member to accompany them on the 1100 nm passage from Tonga to New Zealand in November 2014. Fluenta is a Stevens 47 cutter with a family of five onboard: Max and Elizabeth and their children who will by then be aged eleven years, nine years and eleven months.

Details on their journey so far and on Fluenta herself can be found on their blog: SV-Fluenta.blogspot.ca

Crew duties on passage will consist primarily of standing watches in rotation with Max and Elizabeth although he or she is expected to help with any other boat chores as with the rest of the crew. Watchstanding duties will be tailored to the crew's experience and competence and the expected conditions.

The intention is depart Tonga in November when there is a favourable weather window. Fluenta has engaged Bob McDavitt as their weather router. If conditions are suitable, Fluenta will stop in Minerva Reef enroute. The intended destination is Whangarei but Fluenta may check into Opua if that makes sense at the time. Both are close to Auckland.

Fluenta will cover all costs onboard and as well as any restaurants ashore and any visa costs to enter New Zealand . The crewmember will be responsible for costs to get to and from Fluenta.

Crew accommodations will be the V-berth of the boat. However, if conditions make sleeping in the V-berth uncomfortable then there are also two sea berths available in the saloon. Fluenta is a non-smoking boat and is "dry" on passage (other than perhaps champagne at the halfway mark for example).

The Stevens 47 is a 1980's Sparks and Stephens design with a modified fin keel and skeg hung rudder. With her significant ballast ratio and moderate displacement-to-weight ratio she is a sea kindly passagemaker allowing reasonably swift passages.

Max holds a RYA Yachtmaster Ocean (with Master of Yachts 200GT commercial endorsement) certificate and is a Canadian Yacht Association (CYA) Advanced Cruising Instructor. Elizabeth is also RYA and CYA trained and has sailed over 10,000 sea miles. Both have completed various sea survival courses and Advanced Medical First Responder Training. Max's sailing CV can be found on the Linkedin website.

Whilst it will be impractical to conduct a formal sailing course during the time period, instruction in passagemaking will be provided as much as is practical and desired by the crew.
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At 7/18/2014 4:41 AM (utc) Fluenta's position was 16°20.29'S 145°29.77'W

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radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com