Thursday, August 28, 2008

Passage to Niue

We departed Rarotonga, Monday afternoon, August 25th after having Jenny's leg recast due to swelling. Her leg looks much better now although her toes are all black and blue from bruising.

This passage will take us four days and four nights and so far it's been really pleasant. Thanks to excellent anti-seasickness remedies, we're all feeling well and are able to function.

We caught our first Mahi Mahi which fed us for two dinners. We certainly hope to catch more as they are very delicious! Actually I think we had 2 big ones on the line, as it just screamed off the reel and eventually broke - bummer, we lost 2 really good lures.

Last night was absolutely glorious as the flat calm sea reflected the light from the stars, providing us an illuminated path to sail. As Malachi sailed west, we left behind us a spectacular luminescent wash as a result of the phosphorescence, the brightest we've ever seen. With some low lying clouds off in the distance, we felt more like we were in Desolation Sound rather than the middle of the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from land. A friend shared a little saying with me that "Stars are holes in the floor of heaven", a beautiful picture of the vastness of heaven and the glory therein shining as well as a reminder of how small we are in comparison. It seems beyond comprehension that God would care enough to love ones as small as us, but he does and we're grateful for His hand of protection over us as we travel.

Electronics still manage to be a burr under our saddle with their inconsistency and chronic maladies. Poor Jay gets so frustrated with this, but always manages to effectively complete the repairs. Our Auto pilot is giving us the most grief lately as it shuts off and stays off for hours on end leaving our tired, short handed (or footed that is) crew to manually steer. Hand steering is fine when there's no wind or seas, but when we're having a great sail with good wind, it takes a lot more muscle and concentration to stay on course.

Niue, a small self-governing country in free association with New Zealand, is located at 19°02' S, 169°55'W. This island is an elevated coral outcropping perched on top of a seamount rising up from very deep water. Niue is 100 square miles, making it the largest raised coral island in the world. Niue's highest plateau is at 220 feet above sea level. In the census of 2001, the population was only 1,788, a substantial decrease from the 5,200 inhabitants in 1966.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rarotonga - Southern Cook Islands

We departed Bora Bora, French Polynesia on August 9th after a 10 day wait for the weather to change. Our four day three night passage was not the most pleasant that we’ve had, but it was probably the fastest with winds reaching 35 knots and our average boat speed of 7 knots. It was on this passage that many of us took a bath in the cockpit, not of our own choice mind you, but that of the huge waves that found their way under the canvas enclosure and onto the, sometimes sleeping, crew. That is not a very pleasant way to wake up!

We arrived in Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga, Cook Islands at 10:30pm and with the help of friends aboard Orca III and Dorothy Marie, snuggled into our little spot, med-moored to the Quay. Although the anchorage was very rolly, the crew of Malachi slept as if it were flat calm, which, in comparison to the 10 – 15 foot swells on the crossing, it was.

Rarotonga is such a lovely island. The people are very very friendly and, best of all, they speak English!!! After 9 months away from English speaking countries, we can’t tell you how nice it is to communicate so easily with the local people.

There are lots of restaurants to choose from, none of which will break the cruising budget. It’s funny, though, that when you’re dining outdoors here, that you constantly have to shoo the roosters away! They’re always hanging around looking for a hand out, and they seem to be particularly fond of chips (that is French fries). Just a side note: did you know that the French do not call them French fries? They call the frites and they’re not even from France, they’re from Belgium.

There is a huge market here on Saturday mornings, and if you so desire, you can start your experience at 5am, but we felt that 7:30 was plenty early enough for us. The market offers a bounty of fresh veggies and a little bit of fruit as well as fresh flowers, locally made crafts and a huge choice of dining fare. We had the most amazing waffles for breakfast last Saturday – a nice crispy Belgium waffle topped with vanilla ice cream, papaya, banana, fresh coconut and your choice of maple syrup, strawberry or chocolate sauce…….MMMMMMMMMMM!

We have rented a scooter here for the week, which is lots of fun, but you have to have a license in order to drive it. We rented the bike first (strange actually) then walked it next door to the police station where we did our driving test. Jay passed, but I failed seeing as it was my first time ever riding a motor bike – they wouldn’t even let me practice first! Anyway, I did practice over the weekend and, on Monday morning, along with our friends Natalie & Dave; I did the test again and passed. Now we both have Cook Island driver’s licenses. It’s quite strange; actually, to drive on the wrong side of the road, you really have to concentrate.

On Sunday, Jay & I rode in to the Cook Islands Community Church to attend their morning service. Although the sermon and singing were delivered in Rarotongan when we were expecting English, it was a lovely service, the islanders sing out loud with all of their hearts which is indeed a joyful noise! Spiritual food for the soul!

There have been so many boats with kids here, that there is always some kind of fun happening on the wharf. Jared from Tin Soldier had his birthday party and there were kids from 7 boats to help celebrate! Not long after that, the skateboards from O’vive appeared and kids young and old were giving it a try. Jenny was particularly interested in trying out Emilie’s Rip Stick, a crazy two wheeled skate board that pivots in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s harder than it looks and she took a bad fall and broke her ankle. She is now in a cast for the next 4-6 weeks. As a result of this accident, however, we were once again exposed to the kindness of the islanders when Gary, from The Dive Center, kindly drove us up to the hospital and even offered to wait with us to drive us back. The staff in emergency was amazing too. Jenny was examined, x-rayed and cast all within an hour. Everyone has been so great helping Jenny get around.

Jay, Dave and Steve worked together to fashion Jenny her own pair of custom crutches as there are none on the island for sale. This was a labour of love to provide Jenny some freedom and mobility for which she is truly thankful. Good job guys!
Yesterday, the whole island, it seems, turned out to welcome a small sailing vessel that was returning from two months at sea. And what a welcome it was! I hope all our family and friends will be there to welcome us in similar fashion when we return to Vancouver next summer.

We are currently waiting for our New Zealand visitor’s visas to be processed. We should have them today or tomorrow. It is our plan to depart after the Saturday morning market. We can’t wait to go back for those amazing waffles!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bora Bora

16°30’S and 151°45’W

Captain Cook discovered this island in 1769 and is home to a US Army naval base which was built during the War of the Pacific against Japan (1941-1945) as well as the first airport in Polynesia. When Jay was here in 1983 there was a dirt road and very few cars, during the last 10 years the islands popularity spured the development of many luxury hotels with beautiful bungalows built over the water. Bora Bora is the premier travel destination in Polynesia and will be our last port before departing for Raratonga in the Cook Islands.

It’s been very, very windy since we arrived here which has limited our swimming and snorkeling experiences and delayed our departure. However, we have visited a few different anchorages and enjoyed a couple of snorkeling trips. On the East side of the island we snorkeled and saw three spotted rays – my favorite! They are so beautiful and graceful, like they are flying.

We are currently anchored in front of a famous restaurant called Bloody Mary’s which is a popular destination for many famous people (our names will be added shortly). It is customary, in Polynesia, for families to bury their deceased family members somewhere in their yard, and it’s no different here at Bloody Mary’s – there is a grave near the back of the restaurant!

We visited the Farm, Bora Bora Pearl Company and purchased a black pearl necklace for me, I got to watch Andrea create my necklace which was a really nice experience. She did a great job and I love my necklace! Here’s a picture of Andrea and me wearing my new pearls!

We’ve been having a really nice time despite the winds as it’s always nice to stay put for a while and read and relax. The girls have been spending lots of time finishing up school work and hanging out with their friends on O’Vive and Jay has been tending to some boat repairs. I have been really enjoying hanging out with Natalie and her family from France and have been practicing my French and learning new words every day. We’ve also learned a new French card game which is always fun.
In 1983, Jay and his parents, sister and friend sat at anchor in this very spot and rode out Hurricane Riva, the most devastating storm to hit this area. We had to vist this spot which looks much different and serene, don't you think?

I thought you might enjoy a little peek into the grocery store here. Pretty much every day, we go to the store for fresh baguettes (they go stale very quickly) and this is how we see them, they cost 51pf each which is about 75 cents. Those of us accustomed to enjoying the bountiful harvest of Chilliwack corn will be shocked at the extensive packaging and expense of a single cob of fresh corn 285pf which is about $4!

One day, Natalie, Karine, Madeline and I went for a walk and happened upon the studio of Garrick Yrondi, painter and sculptor. We had an amazing experience viewing his work in the gallery in his home. His home, which is under construction, sits high on the hillside overlooking Baie de Povai and Mount Otemanu which stands 727 meters high. This very kind gentleman gave us a tour of his home and his artwork.

An excerpt from Yrondi’s brochure:

Garrick Yrondi was born in 1945 in Antibes (France). He descended from a family of four generations of artiste…

He realized a big sculpture in pink marble “Vahine e’ie” she is two meters high, carved in Portugal and placed at the exit of the airport of Bora-Bora, welcoming all of us as we arrive.

This is an accomplishment of the same type as the little Mermaid of Copenhagen, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower…

You will love or hate his picture creations, there is not place for indifference. This being is as strong as his work.

I wish I had the means to purchase one of his paintings, I’m particularly fond of the ones with orange fish, however, instead I’ll treasure the experience and claim it as a brush with fame!

You may view his work at

Today we hiked up to the radio tower on one of the peaks of the island and enjoyed an amazing panoramic view of the bay and reef. It was just a half hour hike to the top, but by the looks of the trail, few people go, just the 4x4 tour trucks. It was the most beautiful view we’ve seen so far on one of our hikes.

It was our great pleasure to meet Madeline, Jean-Mi, Karine, Pauline & Axel (Natalies family from France), we enjoyed many great experiences together and we will miss them. We celebrated Karine's birthday at Bloody Marys, where we feasted on incredible seafood!

Most of the hotels in French Polynesia consist of numerous little huts, built over the water, here's a pic of a new one under construction.