Thursday, 24 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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