SEA GEM LOG
May 5, 1999
morning after the waterfall
we found our joints could still move and so we took off early to
head for the Tuamotus. Charlie had figured our timing so that
we would arrive at our destination with daylight. The passes
into the Tuamotus have to be run in good light and at slack tide.
The Tuamotus are a series of Atolls and the largest of these is
Rangiroa. We had initially planned to go to Aha but in figuring
the time we decided to go on to Rangiroa.
The trip from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus was smooth and pretty uneventful. Sam at first worried about time dragging but later find that the days seem to go by pretty fast even
though not a whole lot is going on. We have a lot of books on board especially reference books on the places we are going to visit. It helps a lot to read about the destinations so that
you are prepared with plans for navigation in and out and have some idea of what you want to do when you arrive.
One of the questions we are frequently asked is, "Where do you stop at night?" Well the
answer is, you don't. We have heard of boats where the crew actually go below at night and go to bed but Charlie says if they are still alive they should go to Las Vegas because they are
just plain lucky that they survive.
We have someone on watch twenty-four hours a day, even if there are just two of us on board.
The regular duties of life aboard take up a lot of the day. Charlie spends a lot of time on not only navigation but on engine room maintenance. Running a boat is like running a small city,
you have power supplies to worry about, water utilities, waste disposal and of course the politics of keeping the residents happy, rested and well nourished.
On the trip from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus we had passengers
of the feathered variety for two
nights. One bird landed on the mizzen boom in the afternoon,
hooked his wing around the rigging and rode with us all night.
We thought he looked like some variety of booby, and later found
that's what he was. Charlie took some pictures of him while
he was aboard. He left after the sun had gotten quite high.
We hoped he was rested enough to survive until he reaches
his destination. The next visitor selected the bow railing for his
perch, although he did not have the personality or charm of the
first visitor. Both had rather poor social habits, as they pooped
on the deck, and that is always a job to scrub off. It is
always amazing to see birds so far from land and it must be a good
omen when they choose to rest on your boat.
Charlie gauged our arrival at Rangiroa for early morning as that is not only the best light to enter the lagoon, but on May 2, 1999 that was when slack tide was supposed to occur in
Rangiroa. We have wonderful tide programs in the computer, which give the tides of thousands of places throughout the world for any given day. All you have to do is figure out
what time it is where you are. That may sound easy but in French Polynesia some areas change by the half hour not the full hour. Sunrise is a reliable benchmark, then you know how to set your clock.
About three a.m. or 0300, we had no wind so Charlie started the port engine. It started and then stopped. Not good. What's wrong? This is not supposed to happen. Again he tried it,
same results, and he said, "I think we have something wrapped around the prop." We took a strong spotlight and hung over the stern shining it down into the clear, clear water. Every few
minutes we saw a white line appear, wave and then disappear from sight. We got a boat hook and probed and were able to pull some of it free. When we had freed a fair amount Charlie
again started the engine and this time it ran, and I kept seeing shreds of white line coming out from behind the boat. We have "spurs" on the props that help to cut foreign bodies but of
course there are limitations.
We were at the entrance to the lagoon, we were perhaps an hour past the optimum time for
entry but still in "the window." We started in, our bearing according to the directions in "CHARLIE'S CHARTS OF FRENCH POLYNESIA." We watched breakers to the right and
left and a strong current in the middle. We knew by the charts there is a reef just inside but fortunately it is well marked and once you round the corner of the reef you see the lovely
quiet anchorage stretched out before you. The water is clear the sun was shining and the water temperature is 85 degrees F. The setting is perfect.
head down the anchorage and drop the hook in close to fifty feet
of water and then prepare to dive in to survey the port engine prop
situation. What we saw when we went over was one of those
plastic bags they make to replace the old fashioned burlap
with millions of plastic fibers. Charlie and Sam worked for
the next hours cutting and pulling it off the prop.
First they worked free diving, then Charlie connected the diving
hose to a compressed air bottle and that made the work easier.
While they took turns working on the prop we also cleaned the entire
waterline of the Sea Gem, (again,) to clean off the stain and algae
that had accumulated in a very short time. This is another
"housekeeping chore", but fun when you are anchored in
a beautiful place in warm clear water. They finished
removing all the line and we took pictures of the "trophy."
I am hoping some of the pictures with Sam's underwater camera
turn out, would love for you all to see what it looked like.
Our stay in Rangiroa
was delightful. The hotel is beautiful, the accommodations
are varying prices and we understand there are various plans- -
some much better than others. We ate there several times and
their sashimi was excellent. Sam has introduced us to sushi
and when prepared right it is excellent. I can't say as much
for the cheeseburger in paradise, at lunch for twenty three bucks
per person, I think I'd rather Burger King.
We snorkeled on a reef absolutely full of fish, Sam went on a SCUBA dive and we explored the two nearest towns by dingy and by rented car (tiny, tiny car) that only goes forward, has
two seats and no top. Sam rented a bicycle and together we rode to the far end of the island. We handed out Mickey Mouse balloons, and badges to groups of kids on the island
and word spread fast so we even had groups expecting us.
We hated to leave Rangiroa but in order to get Sam to Tahiti in time for his flight, and a little
tour time before hand, we bade Rangiroa and the Tuamotus farewell and headed out for Papeete, Tahiti at five p.m. or 1700 on May 5 a 200 mile sail.
We are now less than one hundred miles from Papeete. The water is so intensely blue it almost looks purple. The sun is shining and we are on a beam reach doing between six and
eight knots . This is what people dream about, this is what we sail across oceans for. This is as good as it gets...until later from the South Pacific.