Monday, October 8, 2012

Some Excitement

Last night around 3am the restaurant next to the "Pink Coconut" at the end of our dock went up in flames. Fortunately there was almost no wind, and what there was was away from us. Otherwise we would have been covered by ashes.

It looks like we are pushing off early tomorrow. Lots more food shopping today. Enough for a circumnavigation probably. We also have been topping off tanks and filling jerry cans.

Rick and I looked a charts and set some waypoints. It is not as simple as going to San Francisco. There are islands in the way.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday, 7 Oct. 2012

Lat 17_35.13S, Lon 149_36.95, Marina Taine, Papetee, Tahiti

Beautiful day, hot sunny, no clouds, not much wind.
The ladies have gone shopping and sightseeing.
Rick and Bill are holding down the fort.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday 5 October - Provisioning in Papeete

    Its a warm sunny day with lots of blue sky in Tahiti.  Its lovely but as we work on the boat we wish at times it were a bit less warm and a bit less sunny.
    We went to Carrefour, the giant Hypermarket part of a french chain, yesterday and loaded up on water, packaged and bottled food.  We were able to get the store to deliver the stuff to the Marina and the driver, Michael, was very helpful and a big kidder.
    The bottles of water (close to 700 lbs of it) where the hardest item to transport and store.  We found places all over the boat to place the water and food and after a few hours of hard work all of it was in its place.  Caroline and Donna are marvels of dedication and creativity.
    Last night we were tired (we were so focused we forgot to have lunch) and we decided to join a German couple from a boat next to ours for drinks at the local Italian restaurant where they were playing live jazz music.  Johann and Jutta are in their sixties and own a big 54 foot ketch which they have been sailing for three years in the US, Caribbean and here.  We had a good time and were back at the boat by 9 30 pm.
    Today we have been deflating and stowing the dinghy, fixing various items, providing maintenance to the head, and we plan on fueling the boat as soon as Donna is back from getting four diesel fuel cans so that we may have a total of ten for our trip.
     Our communications arrangements seem in order.  Last night an SSB radio check with Kaneohe was successful.  We also tested the INMARSAT phone and it worked well when I called Rick Shema the Weather Guy and when I called Maria Lucia.
     Kathy and Bill arrive on Saturday night.  On Sunday Caroline and Donna are arranging a tour to some salient Tahiti attractions which they are very keen to see; they are renting a car for the purpose so that as many of the crew can go that want to participate.  On Monday morning we have a refrigeration technician coming by to look at the fridge as it was acting up this morning but later went back to normal.  (We suspect the battery voltage was too low to keep the fridge going and it was cycling on and off, as soon as the sun came up it was ok; nonetheless I called a techie so that he can give it a once over for the trip - he said he could not come today but would be here Monday at 0800).  Also on Monday afternoon we get back our propane gas tank (dropped off wednesday, takes five days) and we meet with the shipping agent to process our passports and paperwork for formal departure from French Polynesia.
    So all seems to be falling in line for a Tuesday departure.  Even the weather looks good according to Rick Shema, the Weather Guy who will be providing us weather serviced during this trip.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Departure from Raiatea

    Few things focus my attention as when I am guiding a boat through plentiful, unknown, scarcely marked coral heads.  The island boats, full of long acquired local knowledge, just zip along in Raiatea and Tahaa at full speed.  The visitors, like us, creep along staying true to the maxim that one should never approach anything faster than you want to hit it.  And since coral is all around one tends to remain prudent.
    On Saturday morning the winds had finally quieted down to a mere 20 knots and so we left our mooring in Raiatea and started our 126 nautical mile/30 hour trip to Papeete.  We were not exactly looking forward to going directly into the winds and into the seas whipped up after several days of high winds.  But the first and perhaps most challenging part of the voyage, was to maneuver the coral fringed waterways, go around the tip of Raiatea to the its eastern side, and then exit the reef at Iriru Pass.
    It was 8 am and the crew kept their eyes out for the always hard to see navigation aids and any other indication as to where the channel was.  The day was overcast and gray and visibility could have been better.  Caroline used the binoculars with integrated compass in a highly efficient manner.  Once she picked up an aid she would call it out with a magnetic bearing from our boat which allowed me to then refer to the binnacle compass, quickly locate the aid, and judge our course in relation to the edge of the waterway.
   After moving along gingerly for about and hour and a half, we arrived off Iriru pass where we raised the mainsail and then went through the opening.  It is always captivating to move the boat through a narrow opening of relative calmer water while to both your left and right big waves are crashing on rocks and which seem to not only draw your gaze towards them but perhaps the whole boat as well.
    We were soon out of the pass and proceeded another two miles out before turning right towards Papeete.  The wind was blowing at a good clip and exactly in the direction we wanted to go.  So we turned on the engine and pushed forward as we left Raiatea to our right and saw the island of Huahine off to our left.
    For the longest amount of time it seemed like we were stuck to Huahine.  Hours would go by and the island was still right next to us.  Our hourly plots on the charts showed that we were making progress at about 4-5 knots an hour yet the appearance was that it was taking a long time to get away from Huahine.
    All of the crew was in the cockpit.  Bob and Maren, Caroline and me and we settled in for the long ride.  We have some large comfortable seats that can be brought up into the cockpit and allow for very civilized passages and for pleasant naps.  These seats have proven to be very popular.
    We had a full moon and the night was spectacularly beautiful.  The sky was full of stars but the moon just overwhelmed everything and it shone so vividly on the water.
    When the moon first came out it caused a bit of alarm.  I was on watch and saw out to port what seemed to be the long yellowish lights of the bridge of a large ship that seemed quite close.  It was only a bit of the moon peeking from behind a slit in a low lying rectangular cloud.
     All of us enjoyed the beautiful night and in the morning we were rewarded with a great sunrise coming from behind the sharp irregular mountains of the island of Moorea.  It was lovely in itself but also because it meant we were close to our destination, Papeete.
      At least I thought so.  Bob Wrigley came topside, saw Moorea so close and reminded me he had reservations at a hotel in Moorea for that day.  So we immediately did some new route planning, changed course and headed for Cook's Bay.
      Bob said he remembered from a recent trip a small port on the bay where we could come in alongside and leave them off.  He said "you just need to come in then make a wide sweep towards the right of the port, turn back and come put your starboard side on the dock."   So he had a good mental picture and described it well so I was assured about this place I had never seen.
      A bit later a doubt hit me, I realized there was something we had not discussed.  "Bob, how deep is this place?" 
       Bob, fully conscious of the six foot draft of Pilialoha,  looked a bit perplexed and said "I dont know."
      So we headed into Cook's Bay, found the port and saw that it was much smaller than we thought.  There was no way we could turn around in the small area much less come along the starboard side.  So we went in very slowly looking at the emerald waters very carefully as well as the depth gauge.  Bob said, "Just put your portside to the wharf."  I answered, "Yes, but all the lines and fenders are set for starboard!"  In a flash everything was moved and we made the gentlest of landings and quickly tied up in eight feet of water.
     Bob and Maren went ashore, pictures were taken, farewells were said, and Pilialoha backed straight out the same way it came in.  We tied up at a mooring off the Bali Hai Hotel to rest, shower and have lunch.  Then we started the last leg of the trip to Papeete.
     The winds were over 25 knots as we left Cooks Bay so we reefed down and had a heck of a nice ride doing 8 knots with a second reef in as well as a very small bit of jib exposed.  We were off Marina Taina in no time, got through the reef.  We called the marina and they had someone lead us to our great berth and help us with the lines.
    It was Hinano time. Now to plan the provisioning and receive the rest of the crew.
Pilialoha in Paradise

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pilialoha - Thursday 27 Sept

    Its 5 am on Thursday and Pilialoha is moored to a ball off the Bora-Bora Yacht Club.  In about two hours we shall leave and start on our way back to Tahaa.  Its raining outside and we hope its just the normal tropical early morning shower.  The forecast is for good wind and weather which will be welcome given the upwind nature of the trip today.
    Last Monday we were at Raiatea and provisioned thoroughly at Laiut Supermarket which had everything we could desire.  We also visited Champion supermarket which was more modern and even better stocked.  Liaut was willing to deliver to the boat on the spot but we had our trusty "personal" taxi driver, Warren, and his large van and it all fit easily.
    That afternoon we paid up at marina Apooiti where port captain Jean Michel, a Walter Mathau lookalike, bid his quiet farewell with a mild yet sincere smile.  There was little wind to Tahaa and after about an hour of sailing at 3 knots we turned on the engine.  The views as always were spectacular.  Emerald seas and green mountains enhanced by the idea that we were between two islands so close by.  We bypassed Baie Haupiti and went instead for Baie Tepamau at the recommendation of Bill Leary (Noodle) who had recently been there and had great things to say about it.
    He was right.  It was extremely well protected from wind and wave.  Bob and Caroline worked the bow as we anchored in 70 feet of water and did a great job as we paid out all of the anchor and then some of the line.  We went for a wonderfully pleasant swim off the back of the boat and then followed that up with drinks and finger food.  The view out of the bay was out over some nearby small islands and at night the stars came out and filled the sky.  It was amazing how many stars could be seen.  I especially enjoyed watching the constellation Scorpio with its unusual shape and its bright red central star of Antares.  The moon was half full and very very bright.  I choose to sleep in the cockpit and at 2 am the intensity of the moonlight woke me up as it came down low on the horizon.  At that time in the morning I just looked around for about an hour taking in the beauty of the bay, the stars and the moon and enjoying a deep sense of contentment and relaxation.  It was a funny feeling as I was not sleepy, not doing anything and far from being bored.  Just sitting there watching and enjoying.
   The next morning, after much consultation, we left for Bora-Bora at 1000.  It was a nice day and for the most part a good downwind sale.  We had a moderate squall come down upon us to make things interesting.   We soon approached the outer reefs of Bora-Bora.  This was the second time I had approached these, the first time being ten years ago on what is now Bill Leary's boat Mokupea (then known as Le Christien and in charter with The Moorings).   The power of the waves crashing on this reef is always awe insipiring and we made sure to keep a healthy distance.  A local freighter came out from around the reef bend fortuitously indicating where the reef ended and then he headed directly towards us.  We decided to keep him on our starboard as that would ensure that we had him between us and the reef.  We communicated on the radio and told him we would pass starboard to starboard.  It took a while for them to respond and we imagine they went looking for someone who spoke English as in a few minutes we had a most pleasant, calm and authoritative voice agree with our plan.  The large red ship passed us just about a quarter mile away rumbling along loudly.
    Once around the bend we sailed easily to the Bora Bora entrance through the reef at 1600.  We headed to the Bloody Mary moorings hoping to have dinner there that night at the kind invitation of Bob and Maren Wrigley.  Capturing the mooring was again up to the team of Bob and Caroline and it was a bit more challenging than expected.  Wind gusts  were coming down from the hills and did not help.  Eventually we tied up, shut down engines and being quite tired decided to not to deal with launching the dinghy and to leave dinner at Bloody Mary's for the next day.
    The night was not bad but not great either.  The strong gusts of wind continued and the noise and movement were annoying.  The next morning we decided to move to the Bora Bora Yacht Club which seemed better protected and that made all the difference in the world.  We got the foremost mooring, so close to the club you could see inside and watch the customers.  We did not even put the engine on the dinghy as it was such an easy row and this dinghy responds nicely to rowing.
    Julien was our host at the club.  A nice young Frenchman with a pleasant warm smile on his handsome face, he had the ladies in the group enthralled.  Bob and Maren had lunch at the club while Caroline and I rented bikes and went out to explore the north of the island.  The flat road took us along the water and we enjoyed the small homes in this area that was devoid of tourism and commerce.  Local people were everywhere carrying out there normal lives.  We talked about some of the modest homes with fabulous views and how some would call the people living there poor yet they were actually quite rich to have the view and the pleasant lifestyle which we came so far to enjoy.
   Caroline and I entered a local market and found hot Chinese fried rice for sale and we took that with us, found a shady cove at the waters edge and ate enjoying the scenery.
   Back at the boat we did some boat chores, bathed in the ocean and then got ready for our meal at the Bora Bora Yacht club.  We rowed in and had a table right outside in front of Pilialoha.  Quite a treat.  We had Breast of duck and Vanilla Mahi Mahi accompanied by wine and prefaced by great salade gourmand and Tuna Carpaccio.  The desert was also great as was the service by Julien and his staff.
    After a good nights sleep the crew is now starting to wake up to get the boat ready.  We hope to leave by 0700 and be on our way to Tahaa.  Our goal is Baie Haupiti where we will overnight and then leave the next day for Papeete, weather permitting.  We will check the forecast carefully as the winds were not expected to be good for Friday and Saturday, especially for this upwind trip.
    Cheers from the crew of Pilialoha
Rick Villalobos
Caroline Heinrich
Bob and Maren Wrigley

Still In Raiatea, No break in Wind

     Its 1545 on Saturday and the wind has been strong all day long.  There has been no let up and therefore we have not left our mooring at Marina Apooiti.  The French weather service forecasted for winds of 65 km which is some 35 knots.  The day is sunny yet the wind goes on and there are white caps within the reef.  At the distance we can see the large sea waves hit the outer reef.  All forecasts are for lesser winds starting tomorrow and then we shall start our trip to Papeete.
     We have spent the day in different ways.  We have cleaned the boat thoroughly, tried to fix the speakers for the music, looked for different forecasts on the internet, slept, cooked, read, and played games.  Despite the wind it has been very relaxing.
     Right now Bob is sleeping, Maren is tanning, and Caroline is reading.
Cheers from Raiatea,

Warming up for the big event!

On Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 8:32 PM, <> wrote:
Hello Maria Lucia, Marcela, Kim, Lou, Bill, and Caroline,
    We are back on Pilialoha.  We got here around 3 PM on a sunny afternoon with mild breeze.  We boarded a boat that was quite different from the one we left.  It was extremely tidy, super clean and organized; linen was on all the bunks finely folded with towels exquisitely placed nearby.  All lockers had a listing of items inside; the fax was pouring out its photos and synoptic maps.  Thank you Kim and Lou for all you have done.
    The flight over from Hawaii was most pleasant; it was funny to recognize the crew now, having seen them so often over the last few weeks.  The flight had plenty of free seats and all went smoothly.  Arrival at customs and immigration flowed very well.  They asked for the bond letter, saw it and we were off; all very fast and simple.
    The Icklers were just outside waiting for us.  They looked great, happy, healthy, tanned, and beaming.  Lou said that he had a great time. Kim was radiant.
     We were met by Oceane from Ocean Lodge Tahiti.  Pretty soon we noticed that she and her crew have not done this very much.  There was much discussion back and forth, movement of the two drivers one way and the other.  Loud colorful french spoken to us, most of which we could not understand. And after much talking, gesturing, and activity in place without anything happening, we were off.  We then stopped to get a (one) gallon of diesel for the truck; and then Caroline (who had eaten half my sandwhich I carried on board, and then had the in flight meal) said she was hungry.  So the ever much complying Madame Oceane stopped at a Roulotte; but then Caroline decided she did not want to make us all wait so we were off again. 
       The house was just south of Marina Taina, about 3 km,  not more.  Its a big simple house recently renovated to house budget travelers like young backpackers.  All was freshly painted and recently put together.  There were no other guests.  The two bedroom apartment from the website did not exist so we got two separate rooms, both with double beds.  When I asked for a roll out bed and explained Caroline and I were not a couple, the lady graciously offered me a third room free of charge and I accepted.
    The rooms here are clean and sparsely furnished and really aimed at spending very little. The pictures in the website were much more alluring (we felt like the people in the movie "Exotic Marigold hotel" where the pictures had been photoshopped)  The irony is that the low cost of the lodging is nullified by the cost of getting to the place and then back to the airport.  Better to stay at a better hotel closer in, the cost will be the same and the quality way better.
    Breakfast was good, plenty of baguettes, confiture, butter, tea, and coffee.  All the people were very nice and personally warm.  They took us to the airport and it was all hugs and multiple face kisses and "a la prochaine" here and there.
    The flight over was very good and quite full.  Warren was waiting for us with the baguettes the Icklers asked him to get.  He dropped us off, the dinghy was right there and soon we were on the boat (well not that soon, it took a while to get Caroline's four heavy duffel bags on board).
     The crew of Grivelda left soon after we arrived, not without saying hello and being most civil.  As soon as they were gone I started the engine for 1.5 hours.  We also had beer and pupus to celebrate our arrival.  Caroline started working on the galley getting it arranged to her preferences for the delivery.
     We passed by the local marina restaurant which was open, considered eating there but in the end decided to eat on the boat.  Caroline prepared salad and pasta and we had a great time.  Maren keeps on exclaiming how relaxing this all is.
     Tomorrow we shall go into town early and provision for the week.  Then we will try to go to Tahaa and find an anchorage there.  Rest of the week is up in the air. There is a lot of desire to go to Bora Bora but we may not have enough time to do so. Weather report for Thursday and Friday is not so good right now so we shall continue to monitor the situation.
We send you all a big abrazo and will keep you up to date on our adventures,
Rick, Maren, Bob, and Caroline
Bill Myers,    808-294-2670

Some of my stories are at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Picture of Paradise

First Post from Sat Phone

Getting the Iridium satellite phone data link working has been very painful. It works, then it doesn't. It worked yesterday but not today. And,of course, I have better things to do with my time. But the Blog is important and sending and receiving email is important so I'm keeping at it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another Adventure

Somewhere around the 8th of October, 2012,  Rick Villalobos and Bill Myers will push off from the dock in Papeete, Tahiti in a Beneteau 393 named "Pilialoha" and head for Hawaii. They will be accompanied by three other crew members: Donna Austin, Caroline Heinrich and Kathy McGraw. These three have dozens of ocean crossings to their credit (9 of them with Bill).

Everyone is excited about the trip. Some people are going down to the boat two weeks ahead of time to start preparing for the trip. Others will follow a week later, and some others with tight schedules will come aboard just before our scheduled departure.

It is our intention to list our position each day here on the blog and tell some stories if anything exciting happens. Or, maybe, make up a story.

For example, the current location is on Raiatia, at (16 43.65S, 151 28.70W) in the Apoiti Marina at Ponte Oporo near the airport.

There is no Course and the Speed is zero.

The departure is expected to take place from (17 35.19S, 149 36.94) in the Marina Taina on Tahiti.

Stay tuned.