We celebrated our first year of circumnavigation and Baggy’s 40th birthday … at a rum distillery.
We had reached Ta’haa in the Society Islands in French Polynesia, 11,777 nautical miles since sailing out of Portsmouth Harbour on a rainy, grey morning exactly 12-months earlier.
In true sailor style we raised a generous tot as a toast to the birthday girl, and our success, from a bottle of local South Pacific rum.
12 Stats in 12 Months
• 10kg of weight lost between us
• 16 countries/provinces visited
• 34 nights on a mooring buoy
• 38 hours spent underwater
• 51 dives (37 independent)
• 57 destinations visited i.e. stepped ashore
• 80 day sails
• 87 nights at sea
• 87 nights in a marina
• 157 nights at anchor
• 5,100 views on Yellow Brick
Over 10,500 Baggy Round the World blog views!
We HAVEN’T … slept ashore or in a bed. We haven’t had a bath, been to a hairdressers, used a hairdryer, worn jeans or a jumper, been to the cinema, used a freezer, dishwasher or microwave oven, been in a lift, train or plane, used any form of heating, walked on a carpet, been stuck in a traffic jam, watched the news on TV, drunk Guinness or seen snow.
We HAVE … sailed across the Bay of Biscay, the Atlantic Ocean and a big chunk of the South Pacific Ocean. We’ve been through the Panama Canal, crossed the equator, experienced an earthquake and tropical storm, sailed over an active volcano, climbed an active volcano, explored the Galápagos Islands and dived with hammerhead sharks and manta rays.
And I can report that Baggy and her Bagheteers are healthier, poorer, leaner, happier, saltier and wiser!
So roll on the next 12-months … which should take us as far as the Indian Ocean.
Things we’ve missed the most …
Sally: running water, oatcakes, 24/7 WiFi and Google, feeling cold (really), baths, wrapping up in jumpers, boots and scarves; the smell of autumn; the freedom of stepping out of a front door
Paul: Proper beer, proper running, family and friends; proper British seasons; proper Indian restaurants.
Lost at sea …
Digital camera and underwater housing, flip flops, a fin, a wetsuit, sunglasses, vari-focal glasses, two baseball hats, one pair of pants, one sock, a saucepan lid, 12 wooden clothes pegs, several earrings, glasses case, winch handle, two bracelets, fishing lures, one glove and a hand towel.
Things we wish we had
Sally: Digital camera and underwater housing, fold up bikes, a paddle board, drone, cockpit table, 12 volt hand whisk, rust resistant cutlery and cake tins!
Paul: Fishing lures that work!
And the Annual Baggy Awards go to ….
Wildlife encounters extraordinaire, best diving, incredible terrain and good pubs too!
FAVOURITE SAILING PASSAGE
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS TO MARQUESAS ISLANDS, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Longest leg to-date (twenty two days, 3,100 nautical miles) double handed and crossed the equator.
SHELTER BAY, PANAMA
Helpful staff, goody bag, lounge, TV, WiFi, bookshop, free yoga classes, potlucks, bus trips, crocodiles, howler monkeys, jungle running, bar, restaurant, seminars, pool.
KICKER ROCK, SAN CRISTOBAL, GALAPAGOS
Giant fish ball; hammerheads, white tipped and galapagos sharks; sea lions; eagle ray, octopus, turtles, barracuda and more.
Never eaten any pineapple as fresh, and may never again.
Cooks in five minutes, exactly like fresh potato.
CAMARET SUR MER, BRITTANY
Zero waste and impressive, high tech underground recycling facilities.
SAN BLAS ISLANDS, PANAMA
Heart breaking – there was miles of this stuff.
Cruising the Pearls of the South Seas
Since the last blog we’ve been cruising the Society Islands. Little oases of paradise comprising nine high volcanic islands and five atolls encircled by lagoons inside fringing reefs.
The French influence is still strong. Many young islanders go to college in France. Copra is harvested and vanilla and pearls are important exports.
And then there’s the Hinano Tahiti beer, sold since 1955.
It feels like we have company shares in Hinano Tahiti … it’s the only beer we’ve drunk for the last three months.
We visited the Windward Islands of Tahiti and Moorea (The Sister Island) and the Leeward Islands of Huahine (The Authentic Island), Tahaa (The Vanilla Island), Raiatea (The Sacred Island) and Bora Bora (The Pearl of the Pacific).
Our Top Fourteen Memories
1 TAHITI: Watching the annual Heiva Festival – the televised, stadium sized, traditional singing and dancing competition between all the French Polynesian islands.
No photos were allowed but it’s the largest Tahitian cultural event in the world. We’re talking grass skirts, hip shaking, tribal dancing, conch shell blowing, drums and acapella singing.
2 TAHITI: Watching a traditional, bare bottomed, fruit racing competition round the park.
Photos were allowed …! Seriously, this was a high level event with mostly male athletes from French Polynesia’s five Archipelagos taking part.
3 TAHITI: Amazing street art in the backstreets of Pape’ete.
4 TAHITI: Hiring a car and touring the islands with friends from yacht Mahala.
5 Tahiti: The Fautaua Pass hiking ‘experience’ … a high security valley walk where the Tahiti water supply comes from.
Dressed in shorts and sun hats and carrying our packed lunches our walk began with a personal escort into the upper, inner sanctum of Tahiti’s main council office. We were taken to an office and told to wait on a leather couch.
We filled in a LONG form and were shown into the office of a high ranking council officer. Feeling like we’d been naughty we sat in silence (for a long time) opposite their desk while all our details were entered into the computer.
We then paid a fee and were given a permit, instructions on what to do with it …. and then … only then … were we were allowed to enter the valley!
6 MOOREA: Hiking through vast pineapple plantations on the mountain slopes.
7 MOOREA: Fishermen feeding nurse shark.
These shark were so tame and huge they were practically walking ashore and climbing on to the boats.
8 HUAHINE: Playing ‘spot the supersize houseplant ’ on long jungle treks.
We spotted Tahitian gardenias, hibiscus, bougainvillea, red ginger, antheridium, golden trumpets, heliconias, wild orchids and lots more.
9 TAHAA: Diving with HUGE moray eels in one of several independent dives off the reefs of the island passes.
This stunning tiger cowrie was photographed and put back quickly to live out its days!
10 RAIATEA: Long scrambles up waterfalls and rope abseils down.
11 RAIATEA: Learning how to make rum … then tasting, purchasing and perfecting tea rum punches.
12 RAIATEA: Rowing up the only navigable river in French Polynesia, the Aoppamau River.
Buying fruit and vegetables from a small holding. Then feeling poisoned for several hours by the irritant in the taro root stalks!!
13 RAIATEA: Independent wreck diving the 30 metre deep Nordby.
A Danish three-masted ship wrecked in 1900 carrying supplies from Auckland to Liverpool. We had it all to ourselves!
14 BORA BORA: Marvelling at the mesmerising blue lagoon and diving with eagle rays, manta rays and turtles.
Then losing my digital camera and underwater housing despite three intense searches.
Five Fascinating Facts
1. Chickens still run wild everywhere … but eggs are still hard to buy and Paul can’t buy fresh chicken.
2. Some people have the graves of their relatives next to their houses.
3.Laundry is simple – just a parou (sarong) for each day.
4.The gendarmeries information posters are about dangerous red ants, dengue fever and what to do when you see a whale.
5 The postman rings a bell by your post box when you have mail.
In other news …. it isn’t always paradise!
The Tale of the Phantom Wave
1am, Thursday 25 July
Night watch sailing from Tahiti to Huahine
I woke up screaming. A cold, rogue wave had come through the cabin window drenching me and the bed. I shut the window, got up, dried off and found a towel to lay over the BIG wet patch.
Paul (on hearing the commotion): You OK?
Me: No! I just got TOTALLY soaked by a wave.
Paul (small voice): Sorry! That was me. I just poured a bucket of water over the rope that was squeaking over your head.
I tried to settle down on the damp bed. And all I could hear was the squeaking rope above my head. ?!??5)!!£&@?!?67!)(@)
Battery Burn Out
We left Tahiti for the island of Moorea stocked with water, food, charged up gadgets and a shiny clean boat.
Three days later we noticed the batteries weren’t holding their charge. Then we heard them sizzling … and then we smelt them! They were dying.
They WERE five years old and we had a separate engine starter battery.
But … we had no lights, no instruments, no water pump and no fridge!
Yes, we had a solar panel, but without the batteries there was no where for the charge to go. And Moorea didn’t sell batteries.
Our only option was to sail back to Tahiti in daylight hours.
Sailing backwards on a circumnavigation feels horribly wrong. But, our perseverance paid off and after two days of trawling round Tahiti industrial estate chandlers we were the proud owners of two new 115 AH AGM, 12-volt, deep cycle domestic batteries.
Unfortunately, recycling the old ones involved wheeling them two miles on a collapsible trolley to another industrial estate. And, yes, the trolley broke under the load and Paul had to drag the two dead batteries (and broken trolley) along the road for half a mile in the midday sun.
Karma?! Just saying.
Our cooker uses gas and we have two, refillable 4.5 kilo calor gas cylinders. Despite our UK fitting we’ve had no issues with refills ….. till they both ran out in Raiatea.
We had deliberately emptied them both as we wanted them fully filled before heading to the Cook Islands. So, happily (and smugly) we cooked one-pot wonders on a meths Origio stove for a week.
BUT … when we took them to be filled they didn’t have the right connectors to do a gravity fill.
And THAT meant no grilling, no fresh bread and cakes and cooking on a single burner FOR A MONTH.
But after eight miles of walking to and from a plumbers; tricky French conversations and some dodgy DIY work Paul made a fitting that eventually worked and we now have two overfilled six kilo gas cylinders. It was enough to turn any UK gas suppliers hair grey.
So … what now?
We’re currently ‘stuck’ in Bora Bora!
We want to leave French Polynesia but we’ve been delayed by the forecast of very windy weather. If we can, we hope to sail 650 nautical miles to Palmerston Atoll, a remote part of the southern Cook Islands, New Zealand territory.
Accessible only by boat Palmerston’s main motu is less than 0.5 miles wide and currently has around 35 inhabitants … descendants of just ONE footloose English man, William Marsters. BUT it’s not a secure anchorage if the weather is bad and we are now looking at what other options we have.
So, I think that’s it for now. Ooh no … I forgot to tell you about Baggy being rammed by an out of control catamaran.
Hang on, let me get some Hinano beers and I’ll tell you the full story!!
Keep in contact, we love hearing from you (when we can get online) and you can keep stalking our progress via Yellow Brick.