Day 662: All hands on deck

It's a full house on Egret but not everyone is reacting well to sea conditions

S16 30.55 W151 46.19 Motu Toopua, west side of Bora Bora lagoon, French Polynesian Islands

Scott (YT) and Mary Flanders (MS) left Gibraltar on 16 September 2006, and we’ll be following their journey every step of the way, thanks to this unique online “blog”. For a complete list of all the couple’s blog entries click here 

It’s a full house onEgretbut not everyone is reacting well to sea conditions

Saturday 12 July
After enjoying Moorea for a few days with our friends we have decided to head off to Huahine, one of the northern French Polynesian islands.Egretcleared the Moorea barrier reef at 5.15pm for the overnight run. We currently have great weather and have had a great run in 1 metre seas from the ENE (we are travelling NW). It will be daylight in one and a half hours as Huahine comes into view. This is the first overnighter our friends have ever done at sea but despite this, my fishing buddy Kal stepped up to the plate and stood his watch, even though he wasn’t feeling the best.

Occupational hazard
Let’s digress a bit and address a subject some of you may be worried about before heading offshore – sea sickness. Unfortunately this is a real problem that some people never get over and those that suffer need a strong will to go to sea and stay at sea. Two of the most prolific sailboat photo-journalists that we know fall into this group and thankfully their desire to cruise overrides their early passage blues.

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However, the majority of us have it easier and some never or rarely get seasick. Neither Mary nor I fall into this group. Mary used to get car sick as a child and our early boating days spent offshore fishing were tough for her but she stuck in there and today she is fine. These days only after a layoff will she lay down to acclimate for a few hours when first going back to sea. I used to get seasick as well. I started using the patch for offshore fishing years ago, then I gradually weaned myslf off it and now I don’t need anything at all. Thankfully, time afloat has acclimated us to motion.

Our guests Kal and Anita are going through these problems now. Kal used to get green when fishing offshore. We would set our baits out on kites and drift toward shore going up and down. Both of them are now reaching the point when seasickness won’t be an issue for much longer. They have had a fair amount of sea time and are adjusting well.

Speaking from observation, not medically, it seems some folks get nauseous from apprehension. The last time I was ill it was brought on by a sour stomach full of coffee (only) and worry of particularly bad seas at night. Mary’s apprehension has mellowed as she now knows as long as we keep the water out of the boat all is well, even if we are not comfortable. Our fears and sea sickness have been put to rest by sea miles and education, just as yours will be.

Helping hands
The swabs (‘swabs’ are from the American classic, ‘Captain Ron’) are adjusting well. They are having a great time snorkelling and now we are at sea, watching the baits. They brought enough tackle to fill a small store, including two beautiful offshore rods and reels. They are two-speed Shimano 50 wide reels spooled with 80lb test line and stiff stand up rods. These will be perfect for the large tuna and perhaps billfish we hope to catch along the way.

Already the swabs are helping me by loading and launching the dink while Mary is teaching them foredeck anchoring duties. When editing my pictures of the swabs as they were busy on the foredeck I saw one issue that is worth a mention. One was taking up the slack on the snubber while the other was spraying the chain with the salt water washdown hose. The snubber swab had the tail of the snubber line wrapped loosely around his feet. If the keystock on the windlass chain wheel sheared and the chain hook was still attached it would be interesting to see if the chain weight would strain a 6ft 2 teenager through the anchor pulpit.

The parents of one of the swabs leave later today in Huahine and the swabs will be with us until August 15, without their parents, departing in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The oldest (my nephew) has just graduated from high school and starts college a couple days after returning. Can you imagine what a life experience this will be for the boys? They will learn navigation, watch standing, basic maintenance, and general boat chores. After Huahine we will visit Bora Bora for a few days and then take a 600nm trek to Suvorov Atoll, an uninhabited atoll in the Cook Island chain.

After a couple weeks in Suvorov it’s off to American Samoa where the swabs will leave us. They will get plenty of real sea time and plenty of South Pacific adventure while anchored surrounded by coral barrier reefs. The only link to their lives back home are Ipods. They will have no fast food, no soft drinks, no internet, no mobiles. Just good food, sun and sea.

Happy in Hauhine
What will today bring? Well for starters no fish. However, it did bring a beautiful sunrise and a calm entrance into the channel to the main town on Hauhine. The main town is a one street deal about three blocks long and the focal point is a surprisingly large supermarket so off we went to the gendarme to check in. The check in was painless despite removing Kal and Anita from our crew lists but they didn’t give us any documentation stating that two crew had left even after asking twice. We’ll see what happens in Bora Bora when we check out of French Polynesia for American Samoa.

Hauhine is another spectacular island, ringed by a barrier reef and covered by bright green foliage on the weathered hills. To me the big attraction is the lack of people. The locals live for the most part along the perimeter rim right along the beach. It’s nice to see just plain folk with a million dollar view. We chugged for a couple of hours along the shoreline at a few knots exploring inside the barrier reef. Here the water is crystal clear and you can see the reef fish around the coral heads from the flybridge.Egretset a first today – the first guests delivered to the front door of the resort where Kal and Anita are staying by private boat. The swabs got to snorkel a bit before we had to move from the resort and anchor for the night. One has a small point and shoot camera that is shockproof and waterproof to 10 feet. In the clear water the quality of pictures of the little reef fish is remarkable.

Sunday 13 July
Egretdeparted Huahine at 6.45am for Bora Bora. The seas are gentle one metre swells, which give the boat little motion. Looking past the trolling baits from the cockpit is Hauhine in the background. To port is the Polynesian island of Raitea, a little to the right of Raitea is the island of Tahaa and in the distance are the twin spires of the mountains in Bora Bora’s central lagoon. The swabs are having a great time and are getting along like lifelong friends even though they only knew each other for a short time before leaving Florida.

After painting a perfect cruising picture things changed after rounding the corner at Tahaa. Yup, 20 knots, 3.5 metre swells and chop from the SW-SSW. We bounced a bit and salt spray coated our pristine, rain-washed little white fibreglass home. The swabs crashed, one on the saloon seat and the other in the captain’s chair. The one laying down said he didn’t have a problem (yeah, right), the other one looked like a basset hound with droopy eyes and a sad look on his face. When we turned the corner (and downsea) on the approach to Bora Bora’s inlet both popped back up for duty. There was a large surf along the barrier reef, however the inlet itself was clear but with a fair amount of current. Until we cleared the inlet and were in the inner lagoon we ran up the RPM’s on the lugger.

It was late afternoon and dark when wecame in so we needed a quick anchorage. The main anchorage off the town is in 90ft of water, something we’d rather not do. Anchoring in these islands is different than other places we have been. Here we may set two or three times until we are comfortable with holding, swing and coral heads. TK (anchor) splashed down in 36ft into white sand west of the small narrow island of Toopua, itself west of the main island in the central lagoon. Again it took a while moving around the anchorage to find sand without coral heads sprinkled about.

The island has a few native homes scattered along the white sand and coconut tree lined beach. The house across from us has a half dozen boats anchored in the shallow water out front with the owners and families visiting their friends on this winter Sunday. The beach is full of squealing kids playing at the water’s edge. The hill running down the spine of the island and ending in a tall pointed hill at the end is covered with coconut trees, together with bananas and other beautiful green trees. Not bad again. Now we have a dilemma. The sun is lighting up the island, we are a half hour from sunset and Mary has just retired to the flybridge with a glass of white while I am here at the laptop pounding out this drivel. So we have a choice. Drivel or white. Drivel loses, white wins.

Monday 14 July
It is a rainy Monday morning. Hopefully the rain will undo the wind driven salt spray and leave our home clean again. One of the swabs was up early fishing off the back of the boat until the rain drove him back inside. It is interesting watching the swabs. In their usual life they are entertained constantly by others or things. Living aboard is different. We lead a simple life. Without their parents here they wander around the boat not knowing what to do, however it is not their fault. They are totally out of their normal routine. They will learn to entertain themselves on this trip with simple pleasures and both are writing daily logs. Again it would be interesting to see how the logs progress as their thoughts change from mini bursts of routine entertainment to seeing and enjoying the simple pleasures us cruisers enjoy such as a salt-free boat, sun lighting up an island and sunrise at sea.

Picture 1. Fresh pineapple from the blender splashed with a bit of rum. Different and very healthy flybridge sundowners.
Picture 2. Friends Kal and Anita leaving and the swabs, Mark and Eric.



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