Hello to All,
We started our trip to NZ Friday afternoon (Thursday your time) and have reached the half-way point. Had a rough start - rocking and rolling, winds gusting up to 30 mph, but things have finally calmed down, there are beautiful stars out, and we're quite content. The weather is getting considerably cooler (was at least 115 degrees in Tonga) - it's down to about 75 and Martha and Jim are covering up and shivering. Mike and I are LOVING it! We're eating very well - maybe even toooo well. Martha and I prepared shepherds pie, spaghetti sauce, eggplant casserole , beef stew, chicken and yellow rice, and chicken and dumplings. Supposed to have lasted a few days - all we have left is some stew and some shepherds pie. Next we have 18 steaks to eat before arriving in NZ - the authorities will pitch them. So - please put extra large sweats on all our Christmas lists!
We trolled for many hours today, saw some birds, but got nothing. We may try again tomorrow. Our coordinates are: 28, 09, 717S and 179, 34, 542W.
Our goal is to be home before Thanksgiving - I'm sure we'll make it, We want to see a little of NZ while we're here.
Mike and I have been on board the Special Blend for almost three weeks - my how time flies! Every day brings a new lesson - no idle minds here. We have more observations, of course, but have certainly tried to "come to terms" with boat definitions, as they are a little different than landlubber talk.
An important tidbit for boaters - a stalk of green bananas weighs at least 450 pounds and takes up the space of a small fold-out couch. Amazingly, they are either all green at one time, or turn ripe within minutes of each other. We have learned to eat fast! Also prevents scurvy - not one case on board this trip.
"Some like it HOT" is the necessary mentality prior to coming anywhere near the Equator.
Med-moor - was told the term referred to backing in a boat to the wharf, without being in a slip, and tying off. Comes from the common Medeteranian form of mooring. Sounds good in theory, but how to get up to the wharf? Tie your dingy (dink) to the back of your boat, straddle and stretch to get aboard, untie said dink, paddle several feet to a fairly stable rusty ladder, retie the dink while trying to keep it from going under the wharf, grab the said ladder, heave mightly to the closest rung, and scurry upwards. This can be done with or without shoes. When you return, you hope the dink will still be there in full view, and hang precariously with one arm while using opposite hand to pull dink within leaping range of the ladder, and reverse the process, usually accompanied by bags of produce and souvenirs you HAD to purchase.
Amps - still not sure what they are but you never want to be without at least 12.6 of the things, and they cause the captain's blood pressure to rise considerably. Amps seem to correspond with running the refrigerator, the air conditioner, the washing machine etc. at the same time. Will relay further info if I learn more.
Trade for Goods - this term is quite loose in its interpretation, because it depends on how bad you want something, and how much the trader wants what you have to offer. Case in point: captain is at port, talking with some fishing guys. Small fishing boat comes to the dock - has many lobsters, and wants to trade. Captain says - what do you want for those lobsters? Fisherman says bi-qus. Captain asks him to repeat his request - again bi-qus. Captain says - do you mean Bisquick? Fisherman gets practically giddy nodding his head up and down and grinning. A quick trip to the boat produces a box of said request, and is traded for the lobster. It sounds like a fair trade to me.
Parties on the Beach - in the days of Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue, beach parties could lead to most anything. For boaters of all nationalities, it involves an island, everyone gathering pieces of wood, digging a small pit, a touch of kerosene and a flick of a lighter, and a semi-clean grate. After that, boaters lay whatever edibles they have brought onto the grill, gather around and laugh and talk, exchange war stories, then enjoy one of the nicest experiences ever. All share their wares, (haven't sung campfire songs to date), clean up the mess, put out the fire, and ride off in their respective dinks. It just doesn't get much better than this!
Mike, the designated Compliance Officer
Lauri, the AMP abuser
Mike and I joined the Special Blend two weeks ago in Vava'u, Tonga, and what an amazing journey we have had. As a way of introduction, Mike and Martha met in 4th grade, Mike and Jim met at USF in the 60's, Jim left USF to go to Florida Southern, Lauri arrived at USF the next year, Mike and Lauri met and married, Jim and Martha met and married, and we all came together at the Class of '63 five-year reunion. Talk about bonded by Crazy Glue! That's us.
Over the last 40+ years we've shared many adventures, and we've all grown together, learned from each other, and continued to enjoy making memories.
Even though we're a novice crew, Jim and Martha invited us to share the last part of their journey to New Zealand. To ready ourselves for this passage, we have taken copious notes and made detailed observations, some of which I would like to share.
The Top Five:
5. The only way to change hair styles is to change the color of the hair clips
4. Spam is not the best choice for an "underway" sandwich in high seas
3. Given enough rope, a dingy will rise a full story behind a trawler
2. Large amounts of salt water will cause fingernails to break, peel, crack and split - drinking Knox Geletin will only hasten the process
1. If you stick your tongue in a glass of cold water after eating a hot Tongan pepper, the swelling will subside and the numbness will abate in about three days.
We will share more observations in the days to come. Meanwhile, remember to always keep one hand on the ship at all times in rough water.
Mike and Lauri Griffin
Hi Guys - after 113 hours in the air, we're here in Auckland. Arrived this morning about 6:00 AM, went through customs, and checked into the Kiwi International Hotel. Had breakfast and a nap. Just enjoyed a nice meal, glass of wine, and we're headed to re-pack and get ready for the flight in the morning (will leave the hotel at 5:00 - departure around 7:30). Never got a confirmation from Tongan Air, so we will wing it. The flight is about an hour, I think, from Tongatapu to Vava'u - we'll catch the first one. We're on the hotel internet and not wifi - our laptop is not picking this up.
Got quite a few bags - hope they all fit in the dink. We're beyond excited - can't wait to see you!! Tomorrow is it - see you then
M & L
Christy came over yesterday and we enjoyed her visit so much! We are packing now, having a steak and wine tonight, a little cry over leaving Boomer, and will be in the air tomorrow. Can you believe it??? Got the Boat Docs, the "O" ring kit, the few boat parts etc. Think we've got it all!
Please tell Jim that we will also lose Tuesday - we depart on Monday, October 8th, and arrive on Wednesday, October 10th. They must not have a Tuesday in the South Pacific!!
We love you and will see you in a few days - can hardly wait!!!
Love you both,
L & M
Mike and Larui are long time friends of Martha and Jim's. We wish them luck as the Newest Barnacle Scraper Dio.
Ancohor is up. Brad just navigated us through the anchorage and drove us succussfully out of Opunopo Bay. Beautiful. We are Tahiti bound again. We have our bags out and are sadly filling them. I'm going to miss mom and dad, however, I am ready to go home and see my friends and cats. Besides that, I have some Special Blends of fertilizer to sell. The plane leaves at 10 pm our time wich is 4:00 am your time on Thursday. This has been amazing!
That's all folks...
No one has heard from us because we have been exploring Moorea. This place is everything I dreamed it would be. I saw a turtle while in the water yesterday. We were able to get a decent little picture of him. The reef is about 150 feet from the boat and beautiful. We hooked the lobster sled to the back of the dink and trolled the outside edge of the reef. It goes from 1ft of water and slopes down to 1,000's of feet. It was fun as long as I stayed far away from the dark abyss. The scuba divers were watching us with amusement; it really was a perfect way to see the reef. Sharks, turtles, and many reef fish were swimming around the colorful coral formations. Although the colors were not as brilliant as in Fakarava, it was still charming.
The other fascinating part of Moorea are the bays and mountains. Breathtaking. I hope the pictures do it justice. We haven't had clouds for two days so the stars at night are countless. Brad and Dad took the dink and toured the island yesterday via water, and Tom, and Susie from the "Priscilla", and I went hiking up one of the mountains yesterday afternoon. It took two hours to reach the lookout point which made the work worth it. My legs were jello. I was with 2 people almost twice my age that are marathon runners. I am proud to say, I stuck with them and the view was awesome.
We spent a little time at the marae archeological site. It was a place of worship and sacrifice for the people of Moorea and dates back to the year 900. It is made of ancient stone and coral, the short walls and walkways covered a large area. The missionaries converted the inhabitants in the 1800's. Large trees now grow in the middle of the formations and stone.
Today, we are going to rent a car when the guys get back from deep sea fishing in the dink. Brad and I are trying to get as much in as we can before we leave tomorrow night. The Special Blend will pull anchor tomorrow morning and cruse back to Tahiti.
Till next time...
The Special Blend left the marina. We are anchored out off of the marina, now.
The 2007 Tahiti Tourisme Cup for sail boats is tomorrow and the race starts at 9:30 am. It is from the Marina Taina in Tahiti to Moorea's Vaiare bay which is about 10 miles. There will be a Tahitian meal and dancers when we arrive. I am "crewing" for the "Priscilla" (I hope "crew" means to smile and drink coffee) Anyway, Brad is going to crew with the "Adillia". Mom and dad will get a two hour head start and meet us over there sometime tomorrow night. Ha ha ha. No really, they will be there in time for the meal. I am anticipating seeing Moorea, I hear it is divine! We will be there for several days.
Last night we went to the Heiva 2007! It was as good, if not better, than when Brad and I went Sunday night. The only down side was the singing in between the 2 big shows. The 20-23 verse songs could have been cut to about 8 verses (like they do in Presbyterian churches) and been fine. The costumes in the 2 big shows were incredible and the productions were much more than I expected. We didn't understand the language but we understood what was going on. It was a Broadway musical Tahitian style! The orchestra consisted of drums of various sorts, ukuleles, and guitars. It was impressive as the rest. These are not professional performers but, citizens of communities that pull this together for competition. It was as good as any professional production I have seen. The costumes for the men were interesting. Bare tattooed fannies were just a normal thing up there. I wont say much else about it. But, I will admit...I think I might have seen something...
Well, I have been trying to decide which story to write about:
Sunday mornings in Tahiti
Sniff fragrant bottles with caution in Tahiti
Watching Polynesian female dance competition with 15 year old son/French TV interview...Live!
How many pearls does a pearl farmer pearl for more pearls?
3 days of 25 kt winds...no captain. Sleep? what's that?
New friends, new places.
Beaches of FP...pink, black, white
You see, so many topics. Maybe later today I will narrow it down to something that would interest people. I just know that the past several weeks are so special to me. I am so very thankful to mom and dad. The experiences are almost hard to put into words and to be sharing it with my son and parents makes it that much bigger! My mom and dad will celebrate their 40th anniversary in August! Lesson from all of this...go have fun with your best friend. Speaking of friends... I have made friends here that I will keep in touch with for years to come. Some are boaters, some are locals. I don't think I am completely done with boating. It gets in your soul. Don't know how or when I will do it again, but I pulled another week out of this trip; I go home on the 11th. Till next time...
The passage to Tahiti was well fought. Bruises and broken dishes are all that was suffered. Only one good overboard chumming occurred. We made it. The approach to the island was beautiful! The island of Tahiti was well lit like a big city should be. The combination of the water, mountains and active city was awesome. The moon and stars were bright and the silhouette of the mountains on the neighboring island, Moorea, was breath taking. We anchored in the middle of town and got some well needed sleep. We are on our way to the marina to dock up for about 10 days or so. Dad is headed home on Tuesday for a week. I guess Brad and I will pass him in the air on the 3rd. Unless, we can arrange a flight for a later date.
Till next time...
Christy, SB Barnicle Scraper
Prior to this trip, I could count on one hand the number of sharks I have encountered. Even with all of the hours I have spent scuba diving and lobstering. And those, my friends are what we refer to as large "cat fish"...nurse sharks. Just bop them on the nose and they leave us alone. In fact, the only time I have experienced fear in the water was a surprise, face to face, unexpected visit with a turtle and when the baracuda are larger than my dad.
I knew the day would come when I would be in the water and see the real thing lurking in the murkey distance. Yep, it happened here in the pacific. The first one was a small white tip and yes, it was a big deal. We took his picture and we all went our own way. The second encounter, the shark was much larger and I was 80 feet deep with him. He was lurking in the distance, and paid no attention to me. I was more interested in the coral field and reef fish. I can no longer count on two hands, much less even count, the total number of sharks I have seen the past 10 days. Brad should write a story about his scuba dive experience in the south pass. I snorkeled the south pass and the sharks were far below me...with my son. Big reef sharks, small reef sharks, nurse sharks... Fins to the left, fins to the right! You see, the south pass is "small" and the sharks like the moving water; they breathe better. To top it off, the moon was new which makes for a stronger current and, thats right, more sharks. The good news is that Fakarava does not make a practice of feeding the sharks and there is plenty of food. For some strange reason, I have had no fear. I really have no explanation for it. I thought I was fearless of sharks.
Well, I was wrong. While in Toau, you would have thought I saw jaws. Brad, dad and I were looking for the visous, but, tasty Varro. (Dad's hand is better every day) The water was as clear as a bottle of Zepherhills. I was playing with some little reef fish when along came a black tip going about 30 mph in the water! He was about 24 inches long! I was in the boat within seconds. I have no explanation for this frame of mind. I have been known to change my mind, but, why was I scared of a baby shark after swimming with over 100 of the big ones several days prior. I could see him from the inside of the boat just as clearly as when I was in the water. His larger friends visited a bit later ( the biggest was about 5-6'). I was in the boat for the day now. The atoll was beautiful from there. I was happy and relaxed, I pointed the sharks out to everyone else. I guess I needed a shark break. I'm gonna get back in the water when I get to Tahiti to see fins to the left and fins to the right...
Till next time....
Christy - SB Barnicle Scraper
The Mayor of Fakarava [and 7 other surrounding atolls!] took Jim and I out for a fishing trip on his boat. We trolled the mouth of Garue Pass on the north end of Fakarava and then trolled our way over to the nearby atoll of Toau. We trolled the pass of Amyot and Otugi pass. This was my first shot at "hand lining". It's just the way it sounds, let out a bunch of line from a wooden spool, this line is an extremely thick monofilament about 1/4 inch in diameter, you grab onto one end of the line and tie off the very end to the boat. The tied end on the boat is in case "big feesh" [as they say in their best English] hit's the line. Jim and I had a double hook up when we reached Taou and we each hauled in an unusual looking Jack fish of some sort, beautiful colors; like a fluorescent amber jack. They both went into the cooler for eating later. Jim hooked onto a white tuna of pretty good size [24-30"]. I caught an unusual looking fish that looked like a jet-black permit. Everything went into the cooler. It appears that they eat pretty much everything they catch, including a houndfish. All in all, it was an amazing trip. I got to drive the boat, catch fish on a hand line and see beautiful scenery. We fished about 1 hour past sunset and ran back to the village of Rotova well after dark.
Today we snorkel the north pass with the Mayor and tomorrow we snorkel the south pass with a diving guide. This will be an amazing end to an awesome trip. I fly out Thursday from here.
Barnacle Scraper Chronicles #2
We are docked up against a wharf here in the village of Rotoava in the atoll Fakarava, or as Jim calls it "Frika-Frakafrokafru". It’s another gorgeous atoll. We met some friends on a sailboat from San Francisco in Ahe who showed us how to calculate for slack tide and it seemed to work out well, our entrance into Garuae Pass this morning was smooth as silk, much different than our white-water rafting adventures in the other passes. We are all so glad to hear Granny Boots is doing better and it was pretty sad to see Martha leave. Brad and I scrubbed the outside of the boat yesterday and we got out the SNUBA and did some of the bottom and the prop. Mr. Jim made Brad and I wash real good around the black-water outlets; we were in hopes that no one would flush the toilet!
We had a pretty rough night last night. Ms. Martha wouldn't have enjoyed it because I sure didn't; too rough to even fish, bummer. I popped the Dramamine like candy and that kept me feeling good but in comatose. Brad and I walked into the village today and bought bread and eggs. We had cheese grits, omelets and pan-fried French bread this morning for breakfast. Tasty. Everyone is sleeping on the boat except me. Jim and I are working on the anchor chain motor today. Christy comes in Saturday. I would like to snorkel some of the reefs tomorrow and I know they'll do some diving on Sunday when Christy arrives. They say the south pass of Tamakohua is perfect for diving/snorkeling. Lot's of harmless reef and black tip sharks.
We're here for at least until Monday.
a good day
hey mom we left manihi to day. the pass was really scary, grandaddy had us put on our life jackets just in case, you know a drill. the second we got out of the pass grandaddy said to put out the lines. we trolled for about 45 min and then something hit i ran and get the rod i almost got spooled. the fish started to come toward us so i got alot of line in. we didn't know what it was but we figured a tuna. then it took all the line out again and it went deep with all the line. then i fought it for about 45 min. then it surfaced it was a Marilin. i had to fight it for a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes. we got it in and we fillet him up and ate him for dinner. he tasted good. grandaddy says it was about 250 lb. it was huge i cant wait for you to see the pics. after that we went into ahe that pass was about the same but right when we got into the island a rainstorm hit it was funny and cold. and we finished the first season of 24. i love you and will see you in a couple of days.
Barnacle Scraper Chronicles 6/3/07
Well, might I say yesterday’s "pucker factor" entering Tairapa Pass into the atoll of Manihi was a level 10.0. The seas were rough that night while in a holding pattern. A sailboat motored right past us and into the atoll, I looked at Jim and he said, s---t, if they can do it, we’ll just follow them right in. Well, we did and ran right into the pass with 5-6 knot current just pouring out of the pass. Looked like a fast moving river with some white water. Jim did a good job at keeping the boat straight. With oyster beds on 50 feet of one side of us and a cargo ship on the other, we muscled in through. Jim and I both knew that if the boat didn’t stay straight, we’d get swept into either side. I kept my mouth shut and read out the depth gauge. We cleared the pass and into paradise. This place is absolutely amazing.
Yesterday, we had a pearl farmer named John Paul stop by out boat, he had a whole bag of black pearls he was selling and hardly spoke any English. I told him I wanted to buy my wife a necklace and he said he had more at his house. I jumped onto his panga and expected to be back within an hour. Well, 5 hours later, I came back, not to my choice either. I met all of John Paul’s friends, saw the 5-6 large marijuana plants that he grows in his backyard, saw his equal number of marijuana plants drying, refused to smoke weed with him, looked through his family album, saw his gun tattoos, got growled at by his dogs, refused again to smoke weed with him, toured his family pearl farm, tried to hold a conversation with him which was next to impossible, and refused to smoke weed with him. It seemed like every time I told him that I needed to leave, his English suddenly got worse. Jim and Martha were close to sending out a search party.
Today was impressive. We packed a lunch and Jim trolled us around the edge of the atoll which is basically one large reef. We saw 1000’s of reef fish, the largest morey eel of my life [he actually left his crevice and swam in open water] sea urchins dozens of different colored angel fish and small reef fish from every color and pattern imaginable. I got a little nervous when I saw the black-tip shark and the large [unknown] 7’ shark swim by right below me. Too bad Martha’s underwater camera took on water after about 3 photos.
We are headed over next door to the sailboat Adelia owned by Kip and Denise out of Santa Barbara, CA. Very nice people. Tomorrow, we haul anchor and leave for the atoll of Ahe about 10 miles from here. This place is just like you see in photos.
Miss you all,