Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cost to Cruise - French Polynesia

A few notes about this months cost to cruise.

Groceries: Tahiti was the first "real" place we could buy food.  "Real" meaning there was an actual grocery store available, not just little overpriced markets like what we experienced in the Tuamotus. As we walked through the doors of the local grocery store we could almost hear angels singing. The four of us stood in awe at the mounds of fruits and vegetables trying not to drool on ourselves. And then there was "real" cheese for purchase...not just the government cheese we had been eating. We went a little wild and spent some extra money on groceries this month. 

Butane: It can be difficult to find propane in certain parts of the South Pacific. Part of our 'supplies' cost this month was buying a fitting for our propane tanks to be able to gravity fill them with butane. Other cruisers were able to have their propane tanks filled but it cost them 3 times as much versus had they filled them with butane. 

Amazon/ Supplies: While in French Polynesia we decided it would be best to use the availability of the US Postal service and have items sent to American Samoa. We ordered supply parts (head part, outboard parts, tablet, Android cords, oven part, etc.) off Amazon and other suppliers and had everything sent to South Carolina. Once in South Carolina, Phil's mom repackaged everything into two Priority Mail packages addressed to American Samoa. Our packages were sent on a Tuesday and ready for pick up that same Saturday! Using US Priority mail is the way to go and doesn't cost any extra to send items to American Samoa versus anywhere else in the continental US. 

**Before heading to the South Pacific, load up on anything electronic. We've purchased extra Lenovo tablets as back ups for when our other tablets crap out. Another good idea is to purchase 10-20 extra chargers for your devices. Amazon sells 10 chargers for $12. Your electronics and chargers don't stand a chance in the elements. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cook Islands

Suwarro, Cook Islands
August 7-9, 2017

After leaving Mopelia, we sailed 5 days to Suwarro, a Cook Island national park. Suwarro was made famous by Tom Neale  who decided to leave his family and live in solidarity on this beautiful atoll. Granted Suwarro is lovely, however, I'm not so sure I'd want to ditch my family just to be alone for that long. 

We anchored in Suwarro just in time for the SE winds to kick up to a steady 25 knots. Unfortunately, Suwarro offers zero protection from a SE wind direction and we spent the next two days bouncing around as if we were riding a bronco. (We were able to stay on the full 8 seconds) Just about every boat in the anchorage lost a snubber or bridal. We were lucky and lost both. 

The conditions in the anchorage were so poor that the rangers asked that all the boats come to shore to check in versus their standard coming aboard to complete the paperwork and collect fees. We managed to get off our boat for two nights to enjoy cookouts. Having caught 3 large mahi mahi on the way to Suwarro and not having a freezer to store the fish, we fed all the boats in the anchorage the two nights we were there.(We had eaten the largest Mahi Mahi ourselves on the way in) 

Cooking up some of the fish we had caught on our way. We estimate we caught close to 80 pounds total

Jessica turned 14 while underway to Suwarro. She wasn't terribly excited to be under sail for her birthday, however, she'll never forget where she was while turning 14. We promised a beach party as soon as we got to Suwarro. Our first night on the beach we gathered all of the cruisers to help eat our fish and celebrate Jessica's birthday. Everyone helped create a wind shield as Phil lit her birthday candles. As expected, the high winds blew them out before he could light all 4 (there was no way he'd be able to light all 14.) 

With all 4 candles lit, cruisers helped sing the worlds fastest rendition of 'Happy Birthday' before the wind swept through and blew her candles out. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

1 lucky lure + 7 days of trolling = 100+ lbs of fish

Jessica, our resident fishing expert and her lucky lure are responsible for over 100 pounds of fish. Here's the big reveal..... it's really nothing fancy.  

Our lucky lure is a 7-8 inch, diving, squid jig with a weighted, metal head. Unfortunately the googly eyes have just recently fallen off leaving us with fingers crossed that this lure with still produce.

Lil Fish Stick caught between Marquesas and Tuamotus
We attach our  lucky lure on steal leader (non braided) which is attached to 25 feet of 200 pound test line which is attached 75 feet of gray parachute cord. 

#2 fish on the way to the Cook Islands

We hooked two at a time, one with the lucky lure and the other with a 4 inch cedar plug. By the time of the picture, Emma's fish had already whacked her in the face....She wasn't too thrilled. 
Double hook up on the way to the Cook Islands
So that's it. Nothing expensive or fancy.... just lucky.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

French Polynesia's best kept secret. Mopelia

Mopelia, French Polynesia
July 28 - August 2, 2017

About 135 miles west of Bora Bora lies Mopelia (a French Polynesian atoll). Technically after checking out of French Polynesia, you're not supposed to visit Mopelia, but the trip is worth any risk of getting caught, and honestly if you saw the the sketchy pass to get into Mopelia, you'd know that no official would risk their boat to get in.  Us, however..... we handled the pass like a boss!

The pass to Mopelia is the main reason people don't sail here. The guides books all but guarantee that you'll wreck your boat or die attempting this pass. Yes, it's sketchy, super skinny and the constant outgoing tide makes it's a bit more of a butt puckering experience, but it can be done. 

Pass entering Mopelia

We waited until the sun had come up just enough to make visible both sides of the reef. With the engine punched down, we motored against the current and slowly made our way through the pass. The pass itself isn't very long, but it took the better part of 10 minutes to motor against the 4 knots coming at us, moving at a snails pace.

Once inside Mopelia, a picture perfect paradise was waiting for us. We spent several days enjoying the company of buddy boats we hadn't seen since Mexico, relishing in pot lucks and happy hours. Mopelia is host to 4 different families who are all copra farmers. Every 8 months a supply ship will come purchase all the copra and pay out the families. Other than that one supply ship every 8 months the only other boats that visit are cruisers. 

Mopelia is famous for the Seeadler wreck just outside the pass. Although the wreck is 100 years old, you can still make out different pieces to the ship, including cannons and anchors. 

Cannon ball off Seeadler

Copra Shed

What made Mopelia a special stop for us was the generous family living in the NE corner of the motu. The lovely family took all the cruisers to find lobster at night. The two daughters of the local family were able to catch 6 lobsters...cruisers only caught 2. After the night time lobster catch, the local family offered to cook the lobster and host a cruiser pot luck the next night. 


We approached the beach the next night for the lobster dinner and our jaws hit the floor. The family had prepared an entire feast for 18 people complete with a tablecloth, cutlery, folded napkins, cut coconuts to drink from and a spread like no other pot luck we've attended. Their giant table was covered in lobsters that had been slathered in a curry sauce, giant coconut crabs that had been steamed to perfection, and bowls of poison cru. 

The mother and daughters had made each of us, by hand, shell necklaces to keep. It's moments like these that we treasure... an unexpected night that will stay with us forever.