Monday, June 2, 2014

Intrepid's Birthday -

We had many great celebrations for Intrepid's 9th birthday, which was May 29th.  We were underway much of the day, so we made him burritos from our "canned meat" stash, then brownies with marshmallows on it.  I didn't have presents wrapped and ready or activities of any kind, so we decided to do the official birthday the next day.

So, on the 30th, we celebrated for him with a shore day, iPad video games at quiet time, his favorite baked beans for dinner.  Then he opened presents and cards from the grandparents that we keep onboard for their birthdays.  He had a great day!  We had super ripe bananas, so Courage asked for banana bread.  I was about to make Intrepid a cake.  So Intrepid decided that it was OK to have a birthday again the following day with cake and banana bread tonight.

On the 31st, 3 kid boats arrived!!  Good timing!  We knew all of them from prior and their kids are our kid's age.  So we invited them all to cake and a party!!  We had a lasagna dinner (another Intrepid favorite), then eggless birthday cake with green frosting.  We had over 5 more kids.  They all ran, blew glow-in-the-dark bubbles, girls dressed up like princesses, and generally had a great time!  He had a great birthday party finally and all was well.  3 days of celebrating and he was feeling special!!


From Kauhei

We are getting rested and settling in here.  Cassidy and Courage have done much work on the mast and mainsail.  I've been spring cleaning after things hit the floor on the crossing and we had some sort of hatching of what I'm calling "bean bugs" in our dried bean stores.  These bugs are like doublewide weevils shaped like triangles that came from Panama.  I put our dried beans that I bought at the Farmer's market in bulk into Ziplocs.  For whatever reason, months later, these things went crazy in the closet where they were and came out in droves!!  They had eaten through the zip locks in large holes.  So I tore apart the whole bedroom, bleached and scrubbed, and the beans had to many holes in them and so many bugs in them, they went overboard.  That, and the need to pick everything else up, prompted a spring-cleaning.  So, between shore runs, I've been working on getting us back up to speed indoors.

We got the motorcycle launched and Cassidy and Courage made it to the main town here.  It was about 45 minutes away.  There is a supply ship coming in today, so I asked for carrots if possible, but no such luck.  It apparently comes in at 1:00pm, so it was a no go.  Not a problem though, we're in good shape.  The shore is not too steep and there was a road just 10 feet from the surf.  Not terribly hard to get it up there.  It's been fun being able to get out and explore more of the islands than most boaters get to.  And we're getting smoother on our launch and retrieval.

I walked to the ocean side of the island with the kids this morning.  It wasn't terribly far (but of course I was wearing shoes, which they weren't).  This is where things wash up from sea, so Integrity called it "Treasure Beach" and found many items.  The girls found some hermit crabs and Valiant and I played in the tide pools.  It was lots of fun to explore a new area and nice activity for us.

There is no surf on the inside of the island, so it's easy for Innocence to kayak to and from the boat and land on shore.  She retrieved the snacks from the boat, drops kids off, etc.   I think she likes to run the shuttle service sometimes.

We've had lots of great celebrations for Intrepid's birthday, which I'll write about separately.  We've had a couple of nice snorkels, seen reef sharks, and played at the beach.

Yesterday we burned the garbage onshore.  It was beginning to get maggots in the cockpit.  Vitality found one to play with.  I told her "Do not go inside with that."  Guess what little mischievous did?  Then she returned and reported back that it was lost.  Gone.  I asked Intrepid to go help her with that and find it.  
It cannot be gone.  She showed us that she was going down the stairs to MY bedroom with it when she dropped it.  Intrepid came back and reported, "It's gone for good."  I told Vitality that was NOT GOOD!  She was not supposed to have it indoors.  She looked up at me and said, "It's gone for bad."

Today, the cruisers organized a potluck lunch on shore.  At this point there are 9 boats, we had a great feast!!  There are 3 other kid boats.  We're the only Americans.  They are Swiss, British, Australian, Canadian, etc.  I made key lime pie, carrot sticks with dip, and Cassidy made biscuits.  We stayed onshore all afternoon, kids all playing, parents all chatting.  It was a really pleasant afternoon.   Sounds like everyone had a similar crossing, pretty rough. - - Waves over the cockpits and decks, bananas ripening and hitting the floor and being thrown overboard, etc. Everyone has been happy here to be resting, recovering, finally not in a rolling anchorage, which we've been in much of the Marquesas, Galapagos, etc.  The adults were watching some reef sharks when they came where the girls were swimming, the 4 year old screamed and ran out of the water.  Innocence re-assured her that "these sharks don't eat people, other sharks do."  It seemed to work; she went back in.

The boys went for a play-date at another boat for hours this evening and had a great time!  We are all exhausted and will sleep well.  Tomorrow we hope to do a nice snorkel at a reef farther out.  I plan to caulk the cockpit roof finally so maybe it won't leak.  Courage is going to work on the mainsail again I think.  We began realizing that we only have a few more days here and many projects to get done on the boat to make it functional and more comfortable.  Better be knocking them out while we explore also.


Final Arrival to the Tuamutos -

We arrived in Kaihea (??) on the 29th of May.  It was a push.  We'd been under only spinnaker the day prior due to the mainsail coming down with 8 cars jumping the track in a squall with winds up to nearing 40 knots.  So, it was decent moving, but not full capacity.  So on the 29th, we slowed to 4 knots of movement.  That wasn't going to be enough to get us in by dark.  You really should not enter these atolls at night due to the many, many reefs.  So, we needed to push a little.

Courage and I raised the mainsail, even with the top 8 cars out of the track.  We sped up some, but there was a constant creaking noise of chaffing ropes, so we finally decided to drop it and get the ropes laid out right.  We couldn't take another rope chaffing through and it just was too wild of a ride to have someone going up the mast.  So, we lowered the mainsail and started the re-organizing of ropes as squall 1 of many hit.  They kept coming it seemed or there was one on the horizon.  Tons of gorgeous rainbows too on the upside!  And it was washing off all the salt water we'd been taking on deck and even onto the roof!  With all these squalls and irregular winds, we decided that maybe it wasn't the best time to put up a handicap mainsail, so we started the motor to push ourselves along at a pace that we could make the island before nightfall.  During good winds, we'd kill the motor, but as we'd slow, we'd get ourselves moving along again with the motor.  We did well; we got in to the entrance channel about at the latest time we'd hoped to be hitting it.

The channel was plenty wide for us, but has standing waves about 2 feet tall.  It's intimidating at first when you know you're going over a reef and have breaking waves in front of you, but the waves are breaking because the rush of water is all coming through a narrow channel, not because of shallow water.  So, we had Cassidy up on the first spreader to keep an eye out for "boomies" (shallow coral reefs).  After the entrance it was about another hour or hour and a half to get to the anchorage.  Wow, that was longer than we expected and we were definitely coming in at dusk!  Cassidy was on the spreader looking for boomies the entire time, including during the squalls as they hit.  Atta girl!

There were 3 other boats here, 2 Swiss ones and our old friends on Alba that we went up the Darien with in Panama.  Great to see them again, very nice British couple!

We were exhausted after a long, bouncy ride.  The cabin and cockpit was a disaster from things being knocked on the ground.  We anchored, had dinner and went to bed.  It's a gorgeous anchorage!!  Flat as anything, even in 25 knots of wind!  Great sleeping.

The scenery is as amazing as any postcard.  Crystal clear light blue water with visible coral, white beaches, palm trees as far as the eye can see!!  You don't even need to snorkel; you can just look down at the fish in the crops of coral!
The beach is white, but not really sandy, most of it is larger bits of coral, so a bit rough on your feet!!  I gave all the kids a new pair of water shoes to wear to shore, but it turns out they never wear shoes and they really can't keep the things on their feet ("I've got sand in it"  "It's slipping off", etc.)  So, I told them it's their choice, but I wear mine and it's way nicer!  There is beautifully soft sand under the water at wading distance, so the kids spend a lot of time in the water wading since it's more comfortable for both heat and their feet.

These islands I believe used to be volcanic islands, like the Marquesas.  But they have eroded and "sunk" back down under the sea.  The surrounding coral is what keeps washing up on the edges keeping them above ground, slightly.  A tsunami would be a disaster here; it would just sweep right over the entire island.  But it makes a gorgeous ring of land around a coral reef, which is awesome for boaters!!


Life -

This turned out to be one of the first stops for many of the boats. There are now about 9 boats here! There are Swiss, sailors from Belgium, a family with 3 children from the island of St. Helena, Kiwi's, Germany, England, Denmark, France, Australia, Canada, and we are the only Americans. There is only one other catamaran though.

Most of the cruisers here are about our age, and there are a total of 11 young children including our 5, mostly in the 3 to 9 year old range. Cassidy is more falling into the adult crowd.

Took the motorcycle into town today. Listened to some wonderful church singing. Singing seems to account for about 80% of the service time. The town is nice, but not so great as to warrant a visit with the boat.

We are still doing repairs/upgrades and cleaning to the boat, so we should be here for another couple of days before heading off to Fakarava.