Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rudder Repair -

So after the reality set fully in we have decided to pop the rudder back out, and get the section with the cracks removed. And that is why we are here enjoying this beautiful little city. Yesterday we dropped the rudder again, and loaded it on top of an old Renault 309 that had a hasp latch with a padlock to hold the trunk closed, and the windshield was caulked most of the way back in. 

The roof lacked basic support and settled down a couple of inches with the weight of the rudder on top. There were two areas on the rudder shaft that had stress cracks about a third of the way around the shaft.  It was probably the right call!

This is a nice island and of course I had the obligatory "ride around the island" on the motorcycle. These are very lush tropical islands with fertile soil.  Most people have a garden of some sort, or at least some friends with a banana palm of two.

On our way over to this island we finally managed to land a large Mahi-Mahi. Wow! What a fighter!  It took about 1/2 hour to land the fish, and then there was the photo shoot, as the fish changed from green to blue to silver. The actual landing of the fish was quite tricky. When it was right next to the boat I took the spear guy and jabbed it manually into the fish.  Then with the line and the spear got it onto the swim step. That is when the fight really started. And somehow during operation "fish for dinner" I got my nipple cut! Now how does that happen? We ate as much as we could and canned most of the rest of the fish. Our canning operation is in full swing.  And now whenever we have too much fish, we can it!  Works really great!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Potty Training

The joys of parenting include teaching the children to use the toilet - - -or at least somehow getting them to stop wearing diapers, without making a giant mess.  So precious little Valiant is ready! and he knows it! He loves to shout out his version of PEE and watch Shannon or I run and take him to the toilet. Well today 
as we were loading into the dingy Vitality does her version of peeing off the bottom swim step, and Valiant not to be outdone leans over the edge of the boat bracing himself on the lifelines and yes, peeing like a pro. I think he gets it from his brothers.
So this evening he says something like poop! and off he trundles to the toilet, climbs onto the rim, and edges himself backwards so that he is over the toilet, then whoosh he falls right into the toilet, with only his big head, arms, and legs remaining outside. The look on his face... Priceless!

And the training continues!!


Interesting People We Encounter -

We anchored midway up Huahine at a beach with no houses, thinking it was a remote spot where we'd basically be alone, aside from boats.  This wasn't totally the case.  It's nice, white sandy, clear waters, shallow entrance, etc.  There's a little hut built out of metal siding and a thatch roof, with a bamboo railing in front.  A local man does not live there, but rather seems to come every day in his outrigger.  From what I can understand, he's from France, where he worked in the Army for 22 years and retired with $2500/month pension.  I heard him tell someone else that he has 3 homes.  This is more than he needs, so he gathers/buys shells and seeds, and makes necklaces, earrings, and bracelets for the people that come through as gifts.  He buys the fishing line and attachments.  He brought the girls into the hut and let them pick 8 matching shells.  He popped holes in them, then the girls threaded them onto the fishing line.  He tied them into a circle, sewed them onto the bracelet, and then sewed a few shells into the middle of it.  He measured out their wrists, sewed a shell on the end, and cut the bracelet to size.  They were very cute!!!  We have found many similar shells on the beaches, now we have a great project idea!

Then a party barge arrived.  It was a simple flat boat with a motor.  It was a local Huahine Iti family who came for the day to celebrate 3 of the kid's birthdays.  There was a grandma and grandpa with their 8 kids and all the grandkids.  It was really nice.  Some of the guys cooked a BBQ.  Another guy played guitar while the women sand and danced traditional dances.  Then some of the kids dressed up in grass skirts and woven palm headbands and did a dance or two.  The local boaters on the beach joined in and they were welcomed with classic French Polynesian hospitality.  Then the young girls, maybe teens or just less, came around bringing plates of food to everyone.  We'd brought a picnic lunch of cheese and crackers and peanut butter, applesauce, and water.  I declined taking their food and the first girls continued on to other people.  I definitely saw other boaters eating with them.  But we were fine.  Then an older woman came with a couple plates of food.  I declined again, thanking her.  She was sure the kids needed some food, so I took just one of the two plates.  It was rice made 2 different ways, chicken, meat, and potato salad.  It was good, especially for beach camping food.  Then they brought some baguette and even offered beer or vodka.  Very generous considering the price of alcohol around here!  It was very  nice, and the kids loved it.

Then the local man pulled out some stilts made of bamboo and our guys tried them.  Not as easy as they look.  The local kids lined up to try them too.  The kids then got to try playing the guitar and something they called a banjo.  They really enjoyed it and played for close to an hour trading the 3 instruments around.

We met a 4-year-old girl from Switzerland, her father is French, and her mother is from California.  She spoke French and English.  The girls had fun with her, went for a little swim, etc.  We went home for dinner, and the little girl, Lucille, came over to play for a little bit.  They were all exhausted from a long day on the beach, so they faded quickly and sat down to watch a movie.  Lucille is not a cruiser, her French grandparents are and she's out on vacation for 3 weeks.  It was fun to meet her.  Next morning they were heading to another anchorage, so we only got to play this once.  Lots of nice and interesting people we are meeting out here.

Today we experienced impressive generosity from those who have little and wonderful hospitality.  I really enjoyed watching the local family interact and celebrate.  I like how they incorporate traditional music, song, and dance into their party.  I have heard that there is concern as things become more industrialized, that the younger generations are listening to iPods or whatever and are losing their tradition.  This is a great way to hand tradition down from one generation to the next in a fond, memorable way.  It also turned into a great way to show off and share your culture with foreigners!  There were French, Swiss, American and Italian boats there at the time.  It was a great day, we were worn out and slept well!!

This was not the calm, isolated beach we thought it was, but it was a great and very interesting stop.


July 30, 2014 - Huahine Pearl Farm

Today Kate and Jasper from S/V Elena and my kids and I went on a 4-mile dinghy tour across Huahine to visit the pearl farm.  The trip over is beautiful - you cut between Huahine Iti and Huahine Nui which are connected only by a bridge that we went under.  They are gorgeous islands with tall rock formations and tropical growth all around.  The water is a bright blue and pleasant lukewarm.

This pearl farm was much different than the one we visited in Apataki.  The one in Apataki was much more industrial, a working farm, where we watched every step of the process.  This farm in out on stilts in the lagoon between mainland Huahine Nui and an outlying motu.  Their board explains that they like it out like that because the bugs don't come out there to bite them, only on land!  The outside of the building has oyster shells decorating it and a wood deck around.  It's a beautiful showroom inside.  The owner does both pearls and pottery, so there are many things on display and for sale.  They put on a presentation using a real, open oyster to demonstrate what is what and how they do it.  I learned more about the theory behind the process here than I did in Apataki.  They implant a graft from a donor oyster with beautiful colors in their shells.  They also implant the seed that we were seeing in Apataki (and here).  The graft is from the mantle of another oyster and is alive.  It sees the seed as foreign and lays down pearl over it as a protection.  There's only a 50% success rate in this process.  Sometimes the native oyster rejects the graft and lays its own pearl over the graft.  This is what I was finding in the discard oysters in Apataki, small, irregular "pearls" left in the gonad sack of the oysters that failed to produce a pearl and were therefore discarded (until I collected them).
Cool to understand what they do better.  So now I've seen it done and understand what and why they were doing it.  At this pearl farm, it was all presentation and demonstration, but no actual work being done.  We did not see them implanting oysters, drilling them, tying them to the plastic mesh, etc.  I am glad I have that background information also.  This was a little touristy.  But you can't beat an English presentation and demonstration about the process either.  They are also super gluing little beads to the outer shell of an oyster, it lays pearl over it in only 6 months time, then they have to sacrifice the oyster, but they cut it out of the shell, and at that point they can have a pearlized dolphin shape, heart, round bead or anything else.  These are cool and faster than the 18 months for a round pearl, but any oyster could only produce 2 (at one time), then it is killed for harvesting.

We walked around the showroom and saw some lovely things, but unfortunately for them, we've seen better prices and were unable to purchase anything here.  I got some nice ideas on how to mount and use my loose pearls.  I wanted to buy something in appreciation for the place and the tour, but some of the loose pearls were 15 times what we'd paid for similar quality ones.  I couldn't bring myself to blow the budget to show my appreciation, so we left with pictures and memories and had a lovely dinghy ride back home on the opposite side of the island.  I also now appreciate my black cord pearl necklace that I got in Tahiti, which sells between $70 and $90 here.  So I feel I've done well!

They too also really have a good business plan.  They have a beautiful product, locally produced.  They make great gift for tourists to bring a memory or give to friends.  They have multiple "island boat tours" which stop by their pearl farm for the free tour, which enhances the island tours for sure.  They have captive audiences who want local treasures as gifts from their trip.  There is no local competition and many tourists aren't able to price shop their pearls.  They shop and displays are certainly beautiful and nicely done.  So, kudos to them for what appears to be a nice business plan and good marketing!  And who's the say the "value" of a little shiny ball anyway?

Jasper from Elena is 10 years old and has been saving his money for some surfing gear.  He was tempted to buy an oyster shell carving and finally came to the conclusion that he may not have a use for it in the future.  Not as much as he might use surfing gear.  When we returned to the boat, I gave him one of my pearls I bought previously.  It's got gorgeous colors and an unusual shape with a point on one side and a small knobby on another side.  He loved it and was very appreciative and is thinking that if his dad is able to drill it for him, he will make a necklace of it or add it to a bracelet he has.  Glad to see that he liked it, and he has a memento from the pearl farm as well as his friends on our boat, and rational thought about financial planning was also encouraged.  
All good.


Fantastic Week

What a fantastic week! - -And now we are starting a slow trip to the coral gardens of Tahaa!  It is supposed to be beautiful!  We will keep you updated.

Integrity and I went with the Motorcycle around both of these islands.  We saw the sacred blue eyed eels, did the steepest road in the Society Islands, and to top it all off had ice cream and cookies for lunch!  Somehow we have managed to put on over 400 KM on the motorcycle just on this tiny island.  I have found it to be 'real nice' to experience the islands from both the land and the sea.

We had another giant "good-bye" gathering last night. There were nineteen children and seven sets of parents. The children all went on to Lil' Explorers and the adults went over to another catamaran (Field Trip), for grown-up conversations, and sharing of info on the upcoming islands.  Most people’s 3-month visas are running out, as most people arrived in the same big batch.  So now there is a mass exodus to the west.

We are still trying to determine our best course out of here, and are thinking, the Cook Islands, Palmerston Atoll, Beverage Reef, Nuie, Tonga then Fiji.  Looks like an interesting couple of months!!!