May 16, 2001 ~ May 31, 2001
May 31, 2001
We awoke about 6 am and contacted Wayne and Tamera via VHF and learned that they had not found Kelly and Gavin. They were in contact with Jean Christoff at the Dive Shop and they were arranging for a plane to be sent from Papeete to aid in the search. They were informed that a plane would be sent, but it would not arrive until almost noon. The mayor from the village of Rotoava joined in the search with other men in their own boats. Paul on *Adelie* was making arrangements to come out in his dinghy to help them bring *Saoirse* into the anchorage near the village, because they were still out by the pass with a SE wind blowing them on a lee shore. Gavin is the captain/owner of the boat and Kelly is first mate, so Tamera and Wayne had never moved the boat by themselves. Tamera and Wayne had been holding up fairly well, but we could hear that they were starting to lose it. So, we decided that we ought to sail to the north village immediately (even though we were NOT ready to leave)....and we didn't know WHAT we could do to help....but we just felt that we should go...
We went to say aloha to Manihi at 8am. He immediately asked WHY they were diving the pass at night???? Of course, none of us were mentioning all the sharks that are out there....We just kept praying and calling to the angels!!! He pointed on the chart where he thought they would be found with the current. We were very sad to leave...we had lots more to do there and we didn't have a chance to say aloha to Karihi and Anne Marie. Manihi did say that he would be up to the airport on Friday to pick up guests, so we should see him then.
We left by 8:30am, which is a little late to have the best light to see the coral going in this direction. Unfortunately with the sun so low in the sky, the angle of the sun is only good for a few hours. We were so relieved and thankful when Wayne called about 9:30am to say that Kelly and Gavin had been FOUND by the mayor in the area that Manihi had indicated on the chart, about 6 miles inside the lagoon. We thought about turning around and going back, but decided that it must be our time to leave. We made good time and arrived at the anchorage at Rotoava at about 2:30pm, just as *Saoirse* was arriving from the pass.
We put our boat back together after our passage and decided that we needed to have a BIG CELEBRATION to celebration having Gavin and Kelly back safe and sound...and wiser! So, Gavin, Kelly, Tamera and Wayne from *Saoirse* and Paul and Roxanne from *Adelie* arrived aboard about 5:30pm after Gavin and Kelly had been to the village to thank everyone for finding them!
The entire saga (that we heard) was that they had entered the pass and it was perfectly calm and they anchored nearby. Gavin had called asking for any vessel in Fakarava that morning (May 30) and we had talked with him somewhat, but couldn't tell him much except that we were in the southern anchorage. Apparently they had been diving in other passes here in the Tuamotus and they checked this one out thoroughlly before they went. Gavin is only 28 and Kelly is 34, between them they have many many hours logged in. Kelly is a rescue diver. They had three lights, many layers of wetsuits, booties, hoods, and gloves. Tamera was in the dinghy (a VERY small one) watching above and everything went well for about 20 minutes of their dive (I think they entered the water about 6:00pm), then the wind picked up and it was against the current, so the pass became a "washing machine". Tamera had water coming into the dinghy and she apparently tried to signal them to return to the surface, but they did not. Then she lost sight of their lights. She searched for over two hours in the pass in this tiny dinghy in the dark. She then returned to the boat and Wayne made the MAYDAY call. Kelly said that they got caught in the current and went into the lagoon (Thankfully it was NOT going out!) and did land on a motu. They were out of the water for a while, tried to sleep but couldn't because they were cold. They re-entered the water and tried to make their way back to the boat using the current which was now going out. They were somewhat afraid to get really into the current for fear that it would take them OUT the pass. The mayor found them approximately six miles inside the lagoon.
They were still pretty much in shock from the whole episode when they were aboard...we did find out that Gavin is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1992. Kelly is a veternarian (horses) from the University of Minnesota with her undergraduate degree from Boston University. Tamera is a vet nurse/assistant, but not sure where she went to school. We didn't really find out too much about Wayne, unfortunately. He did say that his wife had died several years ago (we were sorry to hear that) and he had hired on as crew with Gavin from California. Hopefully, we will see more of them in Tahiti. Really very nice people....and we are so thankful that they were found alive!
May 30, 2001
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CILLA!!!
Another absolutely BEAUTIFUL day!!! We could stay here forever!!! We visited Manihi, who was on top of the fourth bungalow that he is building, so he couldn't take time to visit with us, unfortunately. Jason remained on board and worked out while, David, Eric and I went spear fishing/snorkeling. Eric managed to shoot one grouper, and we moved to many different reefs trying to outsmart the sharks. I was in the water for over an hour, and finally just sat in the dinghy and viewed the awesome beauty of this place! Eric and David gave the reef back to the sharks and we returned to the boat for lunch. After lunch they went to another reef, which was nicer with more fish and clearer water, and Eric speared a parrot fish, so we had our dinner! I spent the afternoon on emails and this website.
At 5pm, Eric, Jason and David went fishing out in the passe with Manihi in his big boat in hopes of catching a yellow fin tuna...No luck....We did really enjoy our parrot fish and grouper dinner with, rice, bean salad, and corn bread.
We left our VHF on...and at about 8pm we heard a "MAYDAY, MAYDAY" Two divers were lost during a night dive in the north pass. We talked with Wayne and Tamera from *Saoirse* off and on for several hours. Paul and Roxanne on *Adelie* were anchored at the village. Paul went into the village and of course, no one was around at that time of night, except for a lady in the telephone booth! She was smoking and drinking, and said that she would take Paul to the dive shop as soon as she finished her call. He had a hair raising ride behind her (with no place to put his feet or to hang onto, since he really didn't want to put his arms around her!!!) on a Vespa scooter down the road to the dive shop. He located Jean Christoff, who spoke English and was willing to lead a search for the missing divers. We understood from Wayne and Tamera that they searched ...with no luck...until about 1:30am. We felt entirely hopeless being 32 miles away. Manihi has no radio and there is no way to enter his place around the coral in the dark in the dinghy. So, basically all we could do was talk with them on the VHF, try to contact someone on the SSB (we realized that there was no one on any of the frequencies at that timeof night...not what we wanted to find out).
We spent the night praying for two divers, asking the angels to comfort and protect them and to lead the searchers to find them!!!!
May 29, 2001
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOY!!!
Eric and Jason were fishing off the back of the boat again with the sharks! A pretty quiet day with boat projects, making breads, writing emails and updating this website. We planned on snorkeling in the afternoon and then it rained with a shift in the wind. A quiet day!!
May 28, 2001
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROD!!! We hope it was a special day! HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY....USA!!! HAPPY LAUNCH-DAY, PEACE AND ALOHA! TWO YEARS AGO!!!
Eric and David went spear fishing (lots of problems with the sharks...very unnerving when they appear out of nowhere as soon as Eric pulls the trigger! He needs to shoot fast, not miss, and put it into the dinghy immediately!) They gave up and returned so that David could give me a haircut. Jason worked out. I spent more time on answering emails and updating this website.
After lunch we trolled in the pass (NO luck) and snorkeled/spear fished for over an hour while Eric managed to spear a parrot fish and a grouper! (STILL problems with the sharks).
We were alone again in the anchorage after Aqua Tiki (the dive charter catamaran) left. *Lady Samantha* left yesterday for Papeete. All of these smaller boats are leaving via this southern pass, but we are not comfortable with it and need to look for black pearls, so we will sail up to Rotoava, and leave via the northern pass.
May 27, 2001
We went over to visit Manihi about 9am and then dinghied over to the motus over on the other side of the pass which had been described by Manihi and *Lady Samantha*...just another bit of paradise...with PINK sand and turquoise water. We walked to the ocean side of the motus and picked up some beautiful shells. Unfortunately, I had to return many of them to the ocean because they contained small hermit crabs.
We took some gifts over to Karihi and Anne Marie before we did our drift snorkel at about 1:30pm. We saw barracudas, sharks (which seemed much more agressive compared with our morning drift snorkels..which made us very uncomfortable), plus a lion fish. We actually petted a remora...they are soooo cute!!!
We watched "When a Man Loves a Woman"....a wonderful movie but VERY intense.
May 26, 2001
We went into the Village about 10am and met the guys from *Lady Samantha* on the dock (they just arrived yesterday from the northern anchorage). We were greeted by Karihi and Anne Marie, who are in charge of the bungalows and restaurant named Tetamanu Village. We all talked in broken French about fishing (looking through the posters of fish and sharks on the wall and his fish book) and about surfing (Kelly Slater came and surfed the break right here at this pass). Karihi invited all the guys to go spear fishing with him at 1pm. Karihi also handfed and petted the huge Napolean fish!!! Sorry no pictures and the fish wouldn't come up for more food from Eric. We walked around the village, which was the original capital of the Tuamotus; however, there are only about eight people living there now. They have a beautiful church, but very seldom hold services there.
Eric, David, and Jason spent all afternoon spear fishing and fishing with Karihi and his friends and returned with SEVEN dinners of fish (parrot, grouper, etc). Karihi is an incredible spear fisherman: he holds his breath forever and never misses! After they went spear fishing, they pulled bait fish out of their fish traps and fished off their boat in the pass. Then they returned to the restaurant and cleaned all the fish. I spent the afternoon making bread, brownies, and answering emails. What a delicious dinner we had....the parrot fish is wonderful!
May 25, 2001
I spent the morning finishing up the wash (remember, everything takes at least three times as long to accomplish as on land!) and getting out items were are stowed under seats or screwed down floors (OH...to have a nice walk in pantry!) We went on our drift snorkel in the pass at 10:30am, but discovered that we were a little early (we have just about given up trying to figure out the times for slack water!) so the water wasn't quite as clear as before. We were VERY tense when a huge maybe 10 foot bull or gray shark which swam up and under the dinghy (I am getting quite adept as pretending to be part of our avon dinghy!)! We were out for over an hour and half, as we were yesterday.
Boat projects all afternoon and we needed to reanchor for #5 time because of squalls with 18-20 knot ESE winds.
May 24, 2001
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JIM on *Mah Jong* where-ever you are...still in the Caribbean! We wish that you had traveled with us to the Pacific...
We worked on more boat projects (that is another Law...the list never gets shorter!) until we left for our drift snorkel at 10am. We wore full wetsuits today (since we had gotten so cold yesterday) and we saw more sharks (black tip and white tip reef sharks, we are hoping that Julie will bring a very definitive Pacific fish identification book when she arrives on June 13), a very large school of barracudas (which just happened to be pictured on my Nature Conservancy calendar stating that large schools of barracudas are very uncommon now because of the degradation of the coral reef, which indicates just how healthy this ecological reef system is here in Passe Tumakohua), plus all the usual fish (humus, parrotfish, etc. etc). We really enjoyed the "flying" over the coral and this time we went all the way back to our boat! We were playing with many remoras and then were startled by about six sharks very near the boat. They just seemed curious...but still a little nerve wracking! What a wonderful experience! The boys spent the afternoon fishing off the back of the boat, catching many surgeon fish (beautiful colors and we thought we couldn't eat them, so they threw them back!!!). Everything was fine until Eric caught a shark, and then dropped out good "vise grips" in the water trying to get the hook out! He managed to un-hook the shark and then to dive to 40-45 feet, locate, and retrieve the pliers!
We did another load of wash, read our last :( Christmas card (Thanks again), while the wind was blowing 22+ knots from the ESE!
May 23, 2001
*Avantar* left and we were joined by another French charter boat. We were busy with boat projects, etc. and then did a drift snorkel through the pass at about 11am. We motored out through the pass, hopped into the water and hung onto the dinghy, as we drifted into the lagoon across all the magnificent coral in the pass. We saw sharks, eagle ray, napolean fish, etc. etc...many fish common to Hawaii in absolutely crystal clear water. At we drifted passed the restaurant and the little houses built into the pass at the village, we saw many many fish living under the building. Then the current gathered momentum and we were like "superman" flying over the coral, heading passed the fish traps (where there was a huge dead shark) and into the anchorage. We hopped back into the dinghy after we were approached by six curious sharks. We were in the water for about an hour...and were very COLD, but VERY impressed with our incredible pass snorkel.
I worked on updating my inventory, washed the shower curtain in chlorox (incredible haven for mildew!) , and wrote emails, while the boys went with Manihi to get fish from his fish trap so that we would know what fish we could eat here. There are lots of fish that carry ciguatera (fish poisoning) in the Tuamotus. The fish that are affected varies in every location.
May 22, 2001
We reanchored ...again (I think it was #4)....this time we used two fenders along the chain (as recommended by Arnaud and several other cruising books) to keep the chain from wrapping around the coral (the major problem besides having to dive to untangle the chain is that when there is a short scope and the boat starts bobbing up and down on the waves, the chain can break....the boat is then lost on the reef!). After we did that we were fine, even though the winds were still strong at 20 knots, they had switched to the SE.
We had a delightful lunch with Manihi Salmon, Hiroa (his friend from Papeete who works in Customs), and his worker Tua. They had all been out to the fish trap and we enjoyed poisson cru (fish cooked in lime juice and coconut), fried fish, rice and a fried bread. Manihi has three (building a fourth) wonderful bungalows which he rents out...talk about getting away from it all! No phones, no television, no radio, no computers just the beautiful ocean, sky and sand! If any one wants his fax number, let me know...I can't think of a more beautiful place on this planet to visit! Manihi's wife, Tila, and their cook were still up at the north village. They had stayed behind yesterday when he had taken several guests to the airport. He has a very large boat with 146 hrsp motor (our Yanmar is only 140!) so he is able to go across the lagoon (if the light is correct) in about 1 1/2 hours!
I made some bread (since there was no store or bakery for miles!) and corn muffins while David and Eric snorkeled to check out the anchor and the reefs around the boat. They found murky water with lots of sharks!!! Christian and Natalie, who are on the French charter boat, dropped by to asked us over for "sundowners"; however, David had just received an email from his Mother saying that his father had just been placed in a home for his Alzheimer's, so he needed to send her a reply immediately. We visited with them for a short while...long enough to discover that they had been working on the *Paul Gaugin* in French Polynesia for a few years and were heading back to France to be married, after enjoying this vacation with her family aboard this charter boat. We wish that we could have spent more time with them...very delightful young couple. We might run into them on Moorea, since they will not be returning to France until August.
We did not need to run the generator tonight because of all the power being made by our Windbugger with all this wind that we have been having...so it is not all bad!
May 21, 2001
We needed to reanchor at 6:30am because of 16-20 NW winds (picking up the waves with the entire fetch of the island for THIS anchorage)! We were anchored in about 40-45 feet, but it was a few sand patches in really nasty looking coral! *Charade* continued to "fly" around the anchorage on body boards, dinghies, etc...so we weren't too disappointed when they left about noon! We spent most of the day doing projects: Jason cleaned the metal and worked out, Eric had his haircut after he and David worked on fixing the deck wash pump, which had failed yesterday when we needed it to clean off the mud when we raised the anchor.
We reanchored...again...about 4pm and noticed that another boat had come into the pass, so that we were no longer alone inthe anchorage. It was a really dark night (it was dark at 5 pm! and we had winds blowing to 31 knots...so we had an anchor watch!
May 20, 2001
We woke up to rain (which had started about 3am) and lots of wind making large waves and blowing us on shore. After listening to the nets, we quickly hauled up the anchor and left, heading for the south anchorage, in spite of imperfect sunlight. *Lady Samantha* also moved but simply tucked around the other side of the point. We motored and sailed part way to Tetamanu Village, with the aid of the radar (we could see the markers on the radar screen) and some sunlight. We anchored during a squall (the worst of the trip)at about 11am. We were able to completely fill up our water tanks and clean off the topsides of *Peace and Aloha* so all is not lost on a rainy day! We were not alone! There was a very large power yacht (*Charade* London, England) with clients or the owners aboard and they spent most of the afternoon flying around on their dinghy, which was about the size of our boat!
We spent the afternoon putting the boat back, making muffins and writing emails. We did watch an excellent video: "Buffalo Soldiers". Watch it if you can!!! Lots of good messages!!!
May 19, 2001
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PHIL on *Iwalani*....we hope your day was special while you were continuing to make your passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas! We are so glad that you decided to continue on rather than returning to Maine! We hope that you will catch up to us soon!
We obtained weather faxes and also discussed the weather with *Bow Bells,* *Silver Fin,* and *Suvarro II* because of our concern for a front, a trough, and a ridge approaching us. Our concern was for the wind shifts, especially from the Southwest and West, which is usually the strongest, because we were exposed to the fetch from across the entire island. This means that we would be on a lee shore with some larger waves being built up from across the 32 miles of the lagoon. We decided to go ashore in search of bread (NO luck!), black pearls (NO luck!), dive shop (NO luck!)...so we stopped to discuss all this with *Lady Samantha* and we all made the decision to go to the south anchorage. We left about 11:30am and motored through millions of pearl buoys, much like the lobster pots of Maine! The channel down the coast inside the lagoon from the Rotoava to the south anchorage at Tetamanu Village is very well marker with the red and green lighted standing markers. We just needed to follow directly from one to the other, leaving the green ones to starboard (right) and the red ones to port (left). We ran out of daylight and anchored about 4:15 pm at Kakiaau, about 12 miles from Tetamanu Village, in 80 feet of water. Traveling in reef areas with patches of coral should be done in the middle of the day with good sunlight. We had changed our clocks again, because the Tuamotus are on Tahiti time, which is GMT - 10 hours or the same time as Hawaii time! The only difference is that we are approaching the SHORTEST day of the year on June 21, instead of the LONGEST day of the year in the northern hemisphere.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner of mahimahi, mashed potates, egg plant casserole, and cookies in this beautiful anchorage! We continued to read Christmas cards and just happened to read my brother, Peter's card and they wondered WHERE we would be when we read their card!!! Well, now you know!
May 18, 2001
We talked with *Lazy Jack* who had returned to Taiohae Bay to find NO fruits or vegetables and NO water for laundry to be done!!! We were lucky to obtain all the fruits and vegetable that we did. We had to motor because it was so calm...from one extreme to the other! We had an early lunch and went through Passe Garue on the north side of Fakarava, which is the second largest atoll in the Tuamotus (32 miles long by 15 miles wide lying roughly NW-SE)at about 1:10pm which we calculated was slack water (we followed *Lady Samantha* through and everything was FLAT calm!). This passe is one of the largest in the Tuamotus and can be used at any time for vessels with speeds of 8 knots. With the other passes in the Tuamotus, entry and exit should be timed according to slack water, which is supposed to be about 1 1/2 hours after high and low time or 5-6 hours after moonrise or moonset. Those times never seemed to correspond with what was happening in the passes. We noticed that the period of slack water was very short. We also decided that it varies greatly from atoll to atoll depending upon the width of the passe and the amount of water within the lagoon. We also decided that the prime concern was to have the current and the wind flowing in the same direction and that the waves are set up when they are flowing in opposite directions.
We then needed to motor to Rotoava, the village on the north east coast of Fakarava next to the airport, pass several reefs along the 2.5 miles. All of these reefs were very well marked with lighted green or red markers. We anchored in about 60 feet of water near the wharf at about 3pm. (We traveled 545 miles in 3days, 8 hours, and 30 minutes.) What a beautiful calm evening with many many stars reflecting in the waters of the lagoon! Absolute tropical paradise! And we weren't rolling anymore!! We all had a wonderful peaceful night's sleep!
May 17, 2001
Day #3 on our passage from Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas to Fakarava in the Tuamotus. We slowed down alot, so the spinnaker was put out, while I slept. I was able to write a few emails during the afternoon and enjoy rotis for dinner. We spotted another boat in front of us and found out that *Lady Samantha* (Georgio, Duane and Terri aboard this Italian boat. Duane is a land architect from Vancouver) had left Taiohae Bay on the afternoon of May 14. We had been in many anchorages with them, but hadn't met them. We were both bound for Fakarava.
May 16, 2001
We had a slower day and was not so rolly, so I ate a little for lunch and had some mahimahi for dinner. I did sleep most of the morning and spent the afternoon reading about the Tuamotus
The news of the day was that Henry on *Maritime Express* needed more entries in their saga of the Pacific, so Henry slipped on their return trip from the waterfall at Daniel's Bay and broke both bones in his arm, near his wrist. They were VERY impressed with the doctors, etc. at the hospital in Taiohae Bay, where they put pins in the bone in very intricate French operation procedure. Unfortunately, they need to remain there for at least a week to xray his arm to ascertain that there has been no movement. All the jobs aboard are now Gail's responsibility!!! Thank heavens...she has lots of other cruisers around to lend a helping hand.