Month: June 2017

Makemo, Tuamotus

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Entering the lagoon of each atoll is all about timing. Slack tide is the best time, and even then the current be wild to ride! Combine that with extremely shallow coral ledges on either side, and the adventure can be quite thrilling!

We entered Makemo around 7am, and was met by a quaint little town with an old lighthouse.

Homes with ocean view varied from run down metal shacks to brightly painted concrete structures.

After anchoring we decided to get some things done on the boat before exploring the town, and immediately got to work. There has been an annoying leak every time it rains, right outside Mycah’s bedroom door, and she was a woman on a mission to fix it. She removed all silicone from between some decking, then taped it off and applied new material to seal it tight.

We scrubbed the hulls until we were exhausted and dizzy from holding our breath for long periods of time, cleaned inside and did laundry. It is always so satisfying to be productive.

Town was so clean and well manicured, with mostly concrete streets and plenty of coconut palms, breadfruit trees and lemon trees.

Though there were several cars, bicycles are the main mode of transportation. I thought it curious that most of the bikes are three wheelers, but after being there for a short time, realized why: The basket in the back is for transporting children. We saw many adults with infants and toddlers laying in the back, completely content and enjoying the ride.

Young kids were also hauling younger siblings around.

Little kids also peddled around, the bikes huge compared to their little bodies.

Coconut husks are used by some to create privacy fences,

And in some yards, coconuts neatly lay, drying in preparation to prepare and sell as copra.

We found out that the grocery store opened at 5:30am and that fresh baguettes would be available, so Jude, Mycah and I set our alarms to return at that point.

At that early hour, the town was awake and busy. Everyone was out on the bikes and buying hot, fresh baguettes, music was blaring and the streets were filled with smiles, laughter and ‘bonjour’s’. Those that were asleep, had their mattresses out on their porches in the cool air.

Warm baguettes filled trays and stood out in the open for all to reach for. The smell that filled the air was intoxicating and even if someone entered not needing baguettes, they couldn’t help but leave with at least just one.

One of the interesting things we have found in the stores, is canned butter, and it is so delicious!!!

As we walked back to the dinghy, we heard a man calling to us from behind his fence, saying ‘Are you American?’ We told him where we were from, and he asked, ‘would you like some coconuts?’ We told him we’d love some, and walked back into his yard. He introduced himself as Tahi, and opened green coconuts for us to enjoy the delicious water.

He also opened others and fed us the coconut hearts, which are spongy and have such an intense coconut flavor.

After we drank all the coconut water he cut the empty coconuts in half and made us spoons from the husk, so we could each the meat inside. What an amazing breakfast!

We thanked Tahi over and over, and as we were leaving he asked us if we would like to return to his home for what he called, a BQ that night at 6pm. We were planning on leaving in a couple hours for the next island, but felt honored to be invited and told him we’d be there.

The bbq was wonderful. Tahi had prepared chicken on the grill and cooked rice. We brought pasta salad and our friends, Gary and JoAnn, brought potato salad. It was a feast.

Tahi showed us around his home and told us his plans for it.

I loved his kitchen.

Tahi told us that he is retired from the Army, and placed his hat on Aidan’s head and explained all his medals. He’s kind of a big deal!

Tahi also taught us how to catch huge crabs to eat. You pull out a tuft of coconut husk,

and tie it onto the end of a palm frond. The crabs come eat the coconut and you catch them!

Tahi played Danny’s 10 string Teton guitar, and loved it. He has a beautiful voice.

We also listened to Danny and Mycah sing. Tahi asked us if we’d like for him to show us how to fish local style and to find lobster, so we told him we would love it. We made plans to meet the next day for more adventures and lots of learning. The adventures of this tribe continues, and plans for leaving will be pushed back a couple more days.

Makemo, Tuamotus

Posted on Updated on

Entering the lagoon of each atoll is all about timing. Slack tide is the best time, and even then the current be wild to ride! Combine that with extremely shallow coral ledges on either side, and the adventure can be quite thrilling!

We entered Makemo around 7am, and was met by a quaint little town with an old lighthouse.

Homes with ocean view varied from run down metal shacks to brightly painted concrete structures.

After anchoring we decided to get some things done on the boat before exploring the town, and immediately got to work. There has been an annoying leak every time it rains, right outside Mycah’s bedroom door, and she was a woman on a mission to fix it. She removed all silicone from between some decking, then taped it off and applied new material to seal it tight.

We scrubbed the hulls until we were exhausted and dizzy from holding our breath for long periods of time, cleaned inside and did laundry. It is always so satisfying to be productive.

Town was so clean and well manicured, with mostly concrete streets and plenty of coconut palms, breadfruit trees and lemon trees.

Though there were several cars, bicycles are the main mode of transportation. I thought it curious that most of the bikes are three wheelers, but after being there for a short time, realized why: The basket in the back is for transporting children. We saw many adults with infants and toddlers laying in the back, completely content and enjoying the ride.

Young kids were also hauling younger siblings around.

Little kids also peddled around, the bikes huge compared to their little bodies.

Coconut husks are used by some to create privacy fences,

And in some yards, coconuts neatly lay, drying in preparation to prepare and sell as copra.

We found out that the grocery store opened at 5:30am and that fresh baguettes would be available, so Jude, Mycah and I set our alarms to return at that point.

At that early hour, the town was awake and busy. Everyone was out on the bikes and buying hot, fresh baguettes, music was blaring and the streets were filled with smiles, laughter and ‘bonjour’s’. Those that were asleep, had their mattresses out on their porches in the cool air.

Warm baguettes filled trays and stood out in the open for all to reach for. The smell that filled the air was intoxicating and even if someone entered not needing baguettes, they couldn’t help but leave with at least just one.

One of the interesting things we have found in the stores, is canned butter, and it is so delicious!!!

As we walked back to the dinghy, we heard a man calling to us from behind his fence, saying ‘Are you American?’ We told him where we were from, and he asked, ‘would you like some coconuts?’ We told him we’d love some, and walked back into his yard. He introduced himself as Tahi, and opened green coconuts for us to enjoy the delicious water.

He also opened others and fed us the coconut hearts, which are spongy and have such an intense coconut flavor.

After we drank all the coconut water he cut the empty coconuts in half and made us spoons from the husk, so we could each the meat inside. What an amazing breakfast!

We thanked Tahi over and over, and as we were leaving he asked us if we would like to return to his home for what he called, a BQ that night at 6pm. We were planning on leaving in a couple hours for the next island, but felt honored to be invited and told him we’d be there.

The bbq was wonderful. Tahi had prepared chicken on the grill and cooked rice. We brought pasta salad and our friends, Gary and JoAnn, brought potato salad. It was a feast.

Tahi showed us around his home and told us his plans for it.

I loved his kitchen.

Tahi told us that he is retired from the Army, and placed his hat on Aidan’s head and explained all his medals. He’s kind of a big deal!

Tahi also taught us how to catch huge crabs to eat. You pull out a tuft of coconut husk,

and tie it onto the end of a palm frond. The crabs come eat the coconut and you catch them!

Tahi played Danny’s 10 string Teton guitar, and loved it. He has a beautiful voice.

We also listened to Danny and Mycah sing. Tahi asked us if we’d like for him to show us how to fish local style and to find lobster, so we told him we would love it. We made plans to meet the next day for more adventures and lots of learning. The adventures of this tribe continues, and plans for leaving will be pushed back a couple more days.

Rarioa, Tuamotus

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Our crew, including the pickle, thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful 2 1/2 day sail from Marquesas to the Tuamotus Islands. The first day we encountered high seas on our beam, but Tanda Malaika is so broad and sturdy that we moved well with the oceans rhythm. The Tuamotus have been high on my bucket list for so long now, and I was beside myself with excitement as I watched our miles slowly drop from 448, 250, 115…..

As we approached land, the islands reminded us of San Blas and Bahamas, where palm trees are the tallest thing in sight.

Rarioa is one of 78 atolls in the Tuamotus Archipelago, and is the atoll where the Kon-Tiki raft from Peru was stranded in 1947. The Tuamotus were once known as the Dangerous Archipelago due to the many shoals and low lying atolls, and it has only been since reliable GPS and radar have come into use that people can more safely navigate the waters. We still have to be extremely cautious, and only navigate during the day with all crew on deck watching for the many difficult to see reefs. About 20 miles x 9 miles is an average size for these atolls, and many of them only have one or two areas deep enough for a sailboat to enter through from open ocean.

As we entered Rarioa, we were met by a beautiful sight of little ‘islands’ covered in coconut palms.

Each small ‘island’ is connected by shallow reef that is completely exposed at low tide.

We grabbed our gear and jumped in once the anchor was set, and found ourselves in the most beautiful underwater wonderland. Healthy coral heads surrounded by the rich colors of reef fish with about 100ft visibility.

Clams in brilliant emerald green, purple and royal blue attached to coral heads close up quickly as we approached them.

Oysters hang in odd positions, attaching themselves randomly – like a child fallen asleep on the way up the stairs to his bedroom.

Within minutes we were surrounded by blacktip, whitetip and nurse sharks, as they curiously watched to see what new creature had entered their tranquil lagoon.

We explored around for a couple hours and there wasn’t one single minute during that time that there wasn’t at least one shark within a few feet.

Even Emma, who usually grabs my hand nervously when a shark is close by, felt at ease and swam among them like they were old friends. Though we are comfortable with these sharks that are for the most part, a docile species, we still have a great deal of respect for them and keep a close watch.

We motored to the northern most point of the lagoon the following day, and discovered one of the most picturesque scenes.

Light colored sandbars contrasted against intense turquoise water, and lazy palms gently swayed in the cool breeze. Quiet lagoons meandered through groupings of trees, filled with juvenile fish from the reef – a safe oasis for them to grow. I sat doing laundry on the stern and thought about how I have the most beautiful laundry room in the whole world. Just me and my bucket and the ever changing beautiful scenery. I wouldn’t change it for any fancy washer, dryer and laundry room in the universe.

The creatures picked a good spot on the beach, cleared it and built a fire at dusk. They played charades by firelight and ate some cookie bars that Emma had baked.

The next day we pulled dup anchor and moved on once again, exploring yet another spot in the Rarioa lagoon. The creatures and I took our places on the bow and watched closely for shallow reefs.

Even in deeper waters there are many random and unexpected shallow spots, and if the sun isn’t in the right spot and glare is bad, they are impossible to see until it’s too late.

While cruising along we caught 3 Crevalle Jack, and threw them back. They are so beautiful, like their fins have been wrapped in mother of pearl.

The last spot we anchored was loaded with sharks. They circled the boat while we were anchoring as if they were eager for us to come out and play…so we did. I jumped in and waited for Danny to join me and was instantly watched curiously.

At one point a remora swam over to me and looked at me then moved over to Danny and attempted to suction onto his belly, but apparently didn’t appreciate the hair on his belly and left with a disgusted look on his face. (Personally, I love his hairy belly.)
We explored for a while, picked up shells then explored more on the reef. If I could have just one super power, it would be to be able to breathe underwater, but I guess it’s best I don’t because I’m not sure I’d ever surface!

The Tuamotus have been everything I dreamed they’d be, and we’ve only visited one of the islands thus far. We retire to our beds exhausted from school/chores/work/play every day and wake excitedly ready to begin again each morning.

The next island we’ll visit is Makemo, and is about 75 nm away. We’ll keep you posted!

Rarioa, Tuamotus

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Tanda Malaika and crew arrived safely in the Tuamotus Islands after a gorgeous 2 1/2 day sail. This place is absolute paradise. The marine life is so healthy and in great abundance. We have no idea when we’ll have wifi.

Waterfall hike, Daniels Bay

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Our final excursion in Marquesas took us to Daniel’s Bay here on Nuku Hiva.

Once again we were surrounded by dramatic landscape, endless greenery and warm, humid air.

We loaded the bare necessities into our back packs, and drove the dinghy up the river flowing down from the waterfall.

It felt like we were in the Amazon and I half expected to see an anaconda moving through the water.

Coconut palms lined the banks, and one lazily leaned over the water. We decided to pull the dinghy up onto the bank there since the river was becoming too shallow.

We specifically chose high tide to begin our adventure, knowing the river would be higher a little farther in.

We walked up the beach a bit to get to where we needed to begin, and Kjira made friends with a cute little crab.

She was hesitant to pick it up, so I picked it up and handed it to her. She held him for a minute then gently placed him in a safe place away from foot traffic.

A local man with a big smile pointed the direction we needed to go to find the trail.

The valley was covered in 1000’s of fruit trees. I think it would be safe to say that probably 90% of the trees were fruit trees, including coconut, guava, pampelmousse, lemon, lime, orange, passion fruit, breadfruit, banana and mango.

The locals take such great care of their valley, cultivating the land and keeping it clean.

We passed a small hut where many bunches of bananas hung,

and beautiful flowers covered in raindrops.

We hiked in for 2 hours, up and down slippery muddy trails, some places more rocky than others,

past scenes that took our breath away,

under low lying branches,

through so many beautiful bright green ferns,

and muddy rivers.

At the half way mark we had the best view of the Vaipo Falls that we’d have the entire hike.

Once we reached the end of the beautiful box canyon the sound of rushing water filled the air, echoing against the tall rocky walls.

The creatures climbed around on the rocks and through a cave, and we all relaxed together eating pampelmousse, then headed back the way we’d come.

When we reached the entrance to the bay where the locals have their homes, we joined several other hikers and paid $10 each and ate a delicious meal they had prepared.

Fresh fish was grilled on the braai, breadfruit cooked in the coals, and a delicious salad of grated guava, mango, ginger and cucumber was served.

With full bellies we took our tired bodies back to Tanda Malaika. She floated gently – waiting for us in the bay.

We scrubbed hard, finally coming clean, then relaxed for the rest of the evening feeling completely content. Our world is beautiful, and life is good.

Tomorrow we will set sail for the Tuamotus, which should take 3-4 days.

Exploring Nuku Hiva

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We picked up our rental at 9am yesterday, and all squished in until we were outside the village limits before the creatures jumped in the back for more space and a better view.

We were surprised with how well maintained the roads were as we snaked back and forth through the jungles of Marquesas.

The sky was partly cloudy but the clouds were high enough so we had amazing views from higher elevations. Taiohae Bay is where we are currently anchored.

I have always loved the various shapes of trees, so traveling through hundreds of thousands of them all day long was heavenly for me.

Looking down on some of the bays like this one called Hakau’i, it was interesting to see the variation in water color – some areas brown from runoff from the mountains, while others were beautiful blues.

Some of the valleys had very shallow brown water and water ridden lowlands.

The number of coconut palms is unbelievable! Houses are nestled among them up on the hillsides like I’ve seen cabins among the pines in the US.

Every once in a while Aidan would jump out with his long board and fly down the smoother roads. He is amazing at drifting on his board. Once minute I’d see him and then all of a sudden he’d disappear around a corner.

He had a blast and a half, and only had one unwanted landing but didn’t get hurt, just immersed in a puddle of pig poop water. He smelled delightful for the remainder of the day!

We stopped and explored a site where some ancient tiki’s stand and new ones have been added.

It’s easy to tell the difference between old and recent. Studies indicate that the first people to arrive 2000 years ago, were from west Polynesia, and later colonized Tahiti, Cook Islands, New Zealand and Hawaii.

Polynesian tribes practiced cannibalism. One of the theories was that it was more for food than ritual. An offering to the Gods was called Ika, and was caught and hung by a hook in a sacred place – whether it was fish or human.

Coconut palms by the 1000’s in this valley,

and some are obviously over achievers as they reach far higher than the others.

Further on down the road around several corners,

we reached a stream running down into Ho’oumi Bay,

where we strolled the beach and picked up several shells.

We passed by gorgeous waterfalls,

and an archaeological site where huge rocks were arranged in different layers where thatched structures once stood.

Hieroglyphs were on some of the moss covered rocks

just beyond a little bridge,

which led to a majestic, ancient glorious Banyan tree. Notice how small Aidan looks next to it.
If only it could talk…

As we descended into Anahou Bay, we looked down on jagged volcanic spires which were so dramatic against the blue of the bay.

We got several glimpses of it as we made our way down through the trees – each time looking just as beautiful as before.

Down in Anaho Bay rocks lay rounded and smooth from erosion on the beach.

Sand banks on the sides of a stream emptying into the ocean looked like someone had spooned mouthfuls of chocolate from the sides to devour.

Leaves laying off to the sides reminded me of Fall – a season I haven’t seen for some time!

The highest area of the island called the Toovii Plateau, reaches heights over 4000ft, and has an entirely different look and feel with pine trees and open meadows.

Aside from the fact that there was no smell of pine in the air and many ferns grew in giant patches, we almost felt like we were back in Idaho!

We took time to admire our surroundings,

before continuing on to the ‘Grand Canyon’ on Nuku Hiva.

We have just barely scraped the surface of these beautiful islands of Marquesas, yet are so touched by the goodness of the people here, and the peace and beauty in all that surrounds. When we leave Nuku Hiva, we will probably stop by Daniels Bay on our way out, which is about 10 nm around on the other side, then continue on 400 nm to the Tuamotos Islands.

We have no idea what wifi will be like there, so if no blogs with photos are posted, it’ll be because I can only write text through satellite, and will blog as soon as I can.

Ka’ oha, my friends.