Crew Members Heather and Rick Arrive from Poulsbo
Upon our arrival on the ferry from the Bora Bora airport, Diana kindly met us with bags of groceries which included 4 fresh baguettes. We knew at that moment that we made the right decision about this adventure. It was so great to see Diana after 10 months of her being on her blue water cruising adventure. We stayed in Bora Bora for a few extra days and enjoyed the island on bicycles with Diana, Anne, Rick, and our new friends on 2K, Kjell, Kaia, and sweet Katrine. We loved walking into town and shopping, visiting the local rum distillery and vanilla plant, eating/drinking at Bloody Mary's restaurant, having a little bit of wifi and drinks at the Bora Bora Yacht Club, and watching incredible sunsets. We also created a new love for Magnum ice cream bars! Thank you to Diana for that special treat!
Time flies…After arriving at the boat and settling in, Diana and Anne said guest crew are required to do the Blog Posts. Well that was 29 days ago. (They both claim they are too busy living day to day, studying the weather and looking for the elusive whales & non-existent internet to keep in touch!) We have been to French Polynesia (Bora Bora, Tahaa, Raiatea, Huahine, Maupihaa), Cook Islands (Palmarston) and now on a 5-day offshore passage/612 NM to Tonga's Vava'u Group. This is definitely a "New kind of FUN" as former crew member Mike said after their initial offshore passage along the WA, OR and Northern CA Coast. Tonga is our 3rd offshore passage if you don't count the memorable passage from Bora Bora to Tahaa which was our first official open water crossing (this involved a bucket and holding oneself very still while looking only at the horizon). Anne and Diana had said it was supposed to be a quick and easy passage, don't believe everything they tell you.
Our next stop (after our eventful crossing from Bora Bora) was Tahaa. We pulled into a beautiful, quaint anchorage spot and tied up on a Vanilla Tour mooring ball. The next day, again with our Norwegian friends on 2K, we met Noa who took us on the "Vanilla Tour". We walked through a vanilla farm learning about the tedious process of making vanilla from start to finish. In his 4-wheel drive Land Rover, Noa drove us to "town" where we picked up the yummiest ham and cheese sandwiches made in a baguette. We clearly needed the sustenance for our next journey up the hill (thus the need for the 4-wheel drive Land Rover). Noa carries a chain saw…he needed to cut fallen trees all the way up the mountain! The slightly terrifying drive was worth it! The panoramic view was just the beginning. Noa cut up various tropical fruits for us and presented them on a banana leaf platter. We drank coconut water right from a fresh coconut. The trip down the mountain was less frightening. We cruised the island and stopped at a rum distillery and vanilla processing plant. Did we taste the rum you ask? Yep! It was good! Our tour ended back where it started at Noa's parents' lovely home and gardens. After checking our emails and downloading important documents (Yes! We finally had some internet!) we sadly said goodbye to wonderful Noa.
Raiatea was next and only a short journey from Tahaa. This was our provisioning stop for more food and fuel. Captain Diana is a master at this provisioning thing. She knows just what is needed and brings just the right amount of shopping bags as well a cart to haul all of our food and beverages back to the boat. Rick and I found the ham and cheese sandwiches again as well as a French Patisserie. Rick loves his pastries! Both Diana and Anne have the cutest dresses and Heather was having wardrobe envy so some cute dresses/skirts were acquired in Raiatea. Heather loves her new tropical clothes! After leaving the main harbor we ventured to a quieter location at the head of a small river. We piled in the dinghy and motored/rowed as far up the river as we could go. Talk about lush and green!
And Heather's favorite!!! Huahine! Oh my was it beautiful! They also had a yacht club where we enjoyed great food, rum punch, and so-so wine. But best of all we enjoyed new cruising friends Edd and Judi. They were so kind and helpful, and by the time we left they were a bit worried about us and if we could handle the crossing to Cook Islands. We so appreciate their concern and kindness. Rick and I rented bikes and rode around the north island and a bit of the south island. "It is very flat all around, but don't go up THAT hill", the nice lady said at the rental place. LIES LIES LIES!!! It was not flat!!! But we had a blast and walked up the hills when we needed to. Bastille Day was celebrated that weekend as well! Oh it was beautiful: parade, costumes, music, signing… What an honor to witness the pride that these kind people have in their heritage. Huahine is a gem in the middle of the ocean.
I think this is a good place to mention that Arctic Loon is not without its challenges. Things break on a boat! So, before we left for this trip Jeff told us that the toilets were fixed and that we had plumbing. This was great news… Well… he was half correct; half the toilets were working. Though it was no big deal to share the one head with 4 people, Diana was determined to figure it out and fix that damn head! So without too many details, Diana fixed that damn head! I have never met anyone more determined in my life! She sported that snorkel and mask and went below the boat. The repair initially involved an unsuccessful wooden stick, a trip to the hardware store for a snake, and finally two coat hangers braided together. Watching Diana under the side of the boat, working that coat hanger braid, over many days, in unnamed locations, with her various methods gave me a whole new meaning to tenacity. Between Captain Anne's research skills (despite her limited internet access) and Captain Diana's tenacity and their incredible ability to problem solve, repairs are made! I won't bore you with water-maker, wind instruments, and prop shaft seal issues, but they all got fixed thanks to Diana and Anne… and the outside assistance/expertise of the cruising community.
Everyone needs a down day, right? We found ours anchored off the privately owned Motu NoaNoa on southern end of Raiatea. Picture postcard, quiet, blues of all hues... Books got read, chores got done, kayaks got paddled, skin got tanned, snorkels and fins got used, listened to Diana's Spotify playlists and just visiting with each other topped it all off.
And then there was the final anchorage in French Polynesia at Maupihaa Atoll, actually we had already cleared customs so maybe we should not have stopped. And it was the scariest entry navigating Arctic Loon through the reef. Luckily we had Emir/Xin on Hugo providing us a detailed description on how to negotiate the current/reef, and Diana has had lots of experience in Alaska. Diana and Heather just called it the M Atoll because they could not remember its name. Far away from civilization in its truest form! A supply ship comes in once or twice a year and delivers needed provisions. The 4 families that reside here provide for themselves by fishing and living off the land and a little help from friends/family. However, arrangements are made by the mayor of Maupiti for cruisers passing by to deliver not only needed supplies but family members going to Maupihaa. This was a wonderful place to walk on the beaches, kayak and swim and snorkel. Diana, while swimming and snorkeling a great distance from the boat, witnessed two large sharks who thankfully wanted nothing to do with her. My admiration goes out to anyone who knowingly swims with sharks!!!