The Galapagos Islands

Wednesday, April 25th.

The Galapagos Islands
Arriving in the cool of the early morning with its soft lights is very welcoming after seven days and nights at sea. Coming into Isla San Cristobal is very attractive with its small harbour enclosed with a background of green hills. We are surprised because we expected it to be barren.
As we come in to anchor we are welcomed by Jim who we last saw in Curaco. He kindly swims over to direct us to a sandy patch to anchor in with a good holding. This is important as we plan to leave the boat here for eight days, and there are a lot of rocks on the bottom.

Sealion on a wharf bench

After organizing the boat we take a water taxi ashore for $US.1 each per trip. We have been warned the sea lions can cause damage to the yachts and dinghies. It is fascinating to see them climb, or leap up onto the stern platforms of the boats and into the dinghy. This is the reason for leaving the dinghy tied up on the davits.

There have been many sea lions visit the boat. They seem to be very friendly and not the least bit inhibited by us. They frolic in the water and “bark” at each other. You can hear them come up for breaths of air.
Similarly ashore they get into the dinghies tied up at the jetty and lie around the steps and paths. They also get up on the long seats on the walk into town. They look really slothful and they smell, but it is fun to have them about as long as they keep out of the dinghies and off the boats. We enjoy watching them frolicking  in the water around the yacht  and in the shallows when we go ashore.
We have a lengthy celebratory and relaxing lunch at La Playa restaurant overlooking the port.
This very small town Puerto Baquerizo Moreno with its 10,000 residents is very pleasant to wander around.
When we return to Impulsive we have two large sea lions basking in the sun on our swim board. They are not impressed when Ross shoos them off. He then sets about cleaning off their mess and tying fenders vertically across the swim platform so the sea lions are not able to clamber up there again.
This evening we enjoy twilight hour with Jim. He offers a lot of information about this area and what lies ahead – he has sailed across the Pacific before.
The next couple of days are spent organizing Impulsive to leave her for eight days when we take the tour of the Galapagos. Because Rob has been with us it is a welcome change not to have as long a list as we often have after a long sail. Also after inspecting the belts more closely and adjusting the water pump belt Ross and Rob decide it doesn´t need changing. The dinghy motor is being taken in to be checked.

Visit to the turtle farm
One day we take a tour of this island. Pablo our agent organizes it and it is one of his brothers who takes us.  This includes a walk up to the volcano crater with its lake filled with water and with many frigate birds flying overhead. This natural supply of water supplies the town. We drive past many places growing produce e.g. bananas, avacados, pineapples, tomatoes, potatoes, guavas etc. Also there is a fascinating visit to the turtle conservation farm and then off to a beach for a wonderful swim with the turtles. We end the tour with a lovely lunch at Pablo´s family home which is a great treat for us .
Pablo has another brother who speaks excellent English and is happy to look after “Impulsive” for us while we are away, and can run the generator and the fridges . We need to keep our supplies ready for the 3 week crossing to the Marquesas. There is not much available in the supermarkets here as we have been warned. One supermarket looks promising from the outside but only seems to stock baccardi and toilet paper!
However we discover the main market has good quality fresh produce on Saturdays so we hope we can get our fruit and veges on Saturday week from here. It seems all the stalls are run by local farmers. The restaurants here serve delicious local prawns and langousta, which are relatively inexpensive, and excellent quality beef from the mainland.
During these few days we hear Di´s plane has been delayed out of Auckland overnight. The problem then is can all her connecting flights be organized for her to arrive in time for the Galapagos Island tour ?
Another general problem here is many of the visa cards are not working at the ATM which makes having ready cash a difficulty. We all have some jiggling to do.

Saturday, April 28th.
We are all very relieved to see Di arrive this morning, after a few more delays, in time for us all to board Ocean Spray to set off on the tour of the Galapagos. This large catamaran takes 16 guests and is very spacious, well appointed and comfortable. This is Ocean Spray´s maiden eight day voyage.
The four of us have a wonderful time during the next eight days. The other 6 couples are from different parts of the world, and all great company. They include another couple from Australia. The husband is a retired vet. from Darwin, and his wife a retired parasitologist. They are now farming north of Brisbane and they enjoy sailing. The other five couples are younger than us. We always enjoy younger peoples company very much and hearing their points of view and their plans ahead. There are two couples from Canada, and one couple from Spain who now live in Paris. There are two couples who live in London, one an Australian chinese with a Malay chinese wife, both involved with finance, and the other couple a banker from New York and his wife from Rome who is an investment banker.
Our guide is excellent with his a wonderful knowledge of the area, and a great sense of humour.  Through him we are constantly reminded of Darwin´s theories and their significance.  He also is passionate about the Galapagos Islands and is keen to ensure they are well protected. The staff all seem to go out of their way to give us a good time. Ross enjoys spending time on the bridge. We are interested this boat does not use an auto-pilot.
We have chosen to take a tour of these islands because the places we can visit on our own boat are limited and we haven´t the knowledge. The national park controls the places where we can land and they impose a schedule for visiting the different places, which can be very limiting.
The accompanying map shows the route we took. The Galapagos archipelago is 373 km. from mainland Equador, and has been declared a Heritage of Humanity with some animal and flora species here are found no where else in the world, ie they are endemic to the area. Some species are native ie they came naturally by being blown in or drifting in, or flying or swimming in. Others are introduced and have to be controlled eg. the goats which until recently were out of control in the Point Pitt area on the n.east of Cristobal island We visited most of the eastern inlands, including Genovesa to the north. 90% of the land surface here and all the ocean surrounding it to the set limits from the land – 20 n.miles – is National park to protect this special place. It is a treat to visit here where we can walk and swim close to the birds, animals and sea life which are fearless.
The population in the Galapagos Islands is 30,000 and their main industry is tourism.

                                                            Di and Rob on the excursion

Most mornings we start the day at 6am, often to have our first excursion in the cool of the day and sometimes because it is the best time to view a particular Blue footed boobies feeding frenzy at Black Turtle Cove. This trip is very active with a great deal of walking and snorkeling. With Javier´s guidance we all feel very fortunate to see and learn so much.
The cuisine on board is exceptionally delicious and well presented. Somehow we seem to manage three amazing meals a day. I guess with all the exercise we need it!

Sunset looking over Kicker Rock

There are many highlights during this trip. This is a good time to visit the Galapagos islands. Some days are still very hot but are manageable with the snorkeling and swimming, and the evenings are cool. Also the vegetation is green and lush with the rainfall that comes in at this time of the year. In the dry season there is a lack of greenery. This is also the mating season.
The striking rock formations are a feature here eg Kicker rock. Looking across Santiago island we see examples of one hundred year old lava , which is still very barren, from relatively recent flows of lava compared to very ancient flows eg Genovesa Island. Here we anchor in the crater of the volcano in Darwin´s bay with its white coral beach and mangroves filled with land birds (Nazcar boobies, Red footed boobies, Swallow-tailed gulls, Red billed tropic birds and Frigates). The red footed boobies travel for up to 3 hours to find their food. There are fewer blue footed boobies in the Galapagos than the red footed but they are seen often because they fish locally. They can dive up to 50-60 feet for a fish.
                                                      The blue footed boobies

Sealion sunning itself - an iguana next to it

We enjoy the yellow butterflies as they flutter about. The young sealions  play in the rockpools, and we see many feeding their young. We could sit and watch them for hours. Nearby we climb Prince Phillip´s steps where there is Palo Santo vegetation and we find a short-eared lava owl. Other birds seen here are the Galapagos swallows and doves, and mocking birds.
Floriana Island is another highlight. The view from Baroness Hill is stunning. We visit the Post Office on the beach, which has been operating for many years for sea captains and other visitors. If you post a letter there eventually some one from the country on its postal address will find it and will take it home, put a stamp on it and post it. We all post a letter and take any addressed to our home country. We look forward to seeing if our post card ever reaches Melbourne.

The blue heron


Frigate bird (male)
                                                                                                      The top of Baroness Hill

Disappointingly there are no flamingos on the lake here but on the beautiful beach we see turtle nests, and different kinds of rays in the shallows. Some of them swim over our feet which is a bit eerie. There are frigate birds and blue herons watching for baby turtles. On the tracks we see lava lizards, and black and yellow finches in the nearby trees .
Enroute to Bartholomew Island we stop at one of the Bainbridge Islets. From the top deck of Ocean Spray we can see inside the crater and on the shore on the far side there are some beautiful flamingos. The captain did some wonderful helmsmanship to achieve this getting us so close in to the exterior of the crater.
Pinnacle rock is on Bartholomew island which is an extinct volcano with a variety of red, green, orange and black volcanic formations. This is        where some of Master and Commander was filmed.

The Galapagos Penquin

 From the panga we see the Galapagos penguins. Also there are hundreds of the brightly coloured red-orange sally lightfoot crabs along the shore line which attract the elegant herons. The snorkeling here, even though it is a little cloudy at times, is wonderful, over and around these formations under the water. We walk to the top of this volcano to see the 360 view, and see the Galapagos sea hawks close up. There is a view down into an underwater crater.
At Espumillo beach on Santiago Island we have the treat of seeing a newly hatched turtle making
its way down to the water´s edge and beginning its life in the sea. Apparently the female turtle lays up to 40 eggs and because of predators only3% make it to this stage and then ony1.5% make it to maturity. We all hope this little turtle makes it.
The small South Plaza Island was formed by rising lava. It is a stunning view with its steep cliffs and tall Opuntia cacti. It has a large sealion colony and many yellow and red iguanas. The most characteristic plant is the Sesuvuim which is a greenish to yellowish tone during the rainy season and bright red during the dry season.


We have observed many pelicans. It is great to see them diving for fish, especially when smaller birds like the petrels land on their heads and try to take the fish from them.
 Similarly the frigates, known as the “pirates of the sea” only skim the surface of the water for food so steal catches from other birds. They haven´t enough oil for their wings so they are unable to dive deep. It is fascinating to see the mating habits of the frigates. The male blows out his big red pouch at his neck as he is settled in a low bush or on the ground. He wobbles the pouch and makes a rattling sound. Simultaneously he opens his wings which is all to invite a female bird to join him. He continues with this behavior until a female flying overhead chooses to join him.
We see many birds nesting, building nests and sitting on eggs and sometimes small chicks.
We snorkel every day, sometimes twice. One of the best areas is the Devil´s Crown, a tiny island off Floriana Island. The variety of fish is amazing and every time we have a different experience. Swimming with the sealions is  an unforgettable experience. Ross enjoys diving down with them. They are playful and so graceful in the water. It is lovely to see two come past enfolded in each others flippers, just playing apparently. They mate on shore. It is exciting when they come up close and look you in the eye. In one area off Floriana Island the sealions have fun playing with ropes the panga drivers dangle in the water for them.
We also have this lovely experience swimming with the fur seals which are smaller and quicker and have very large eyes and slightly larger ears. The also have two layers of fur and the sealions only have one.
Some of the group see the hammerhead sharks. There are many smaller white tipped reef sharks.
In the highlands of Santa Cruz we visit a lava tunnel deep underground. In the lush deep green vegetation mainly from the Scalesia trees we see some of the gigantic land tortoises. They are very old and enjoy eating guava.

Later today, still on Santa Cruz Island, we visit the other port here, Puerto Ayora, a small unspoiled village with a Spanish culture.

One day is the Captain´s birthday. The tradition is he should be thrown overboard. He took this very graciously and dived in fully clothed, coming up with his cap still in place. He generously gave us all some wine at dinner.
Crossing the equator was another fun time. The captain and crew had us all up to the bridge for a cocktail to watch the chart plotter come to zero.

We all go to the airport together after a 6am visit to Daphne islet between Santa Cruz and Santiago Islands. Unfortunately the tide is so far out we are unable to go ashore but we can see the fur seals close up from the panga as we track along close to the shore.

We have had the best time and we have had a feast of nature all viewed in its natural habitat.
 We hope we might meet up with everyone somewhere, sometime. We farewell Rob and Di as they leave to continue their South American travels and look forward to catching up with them when we all get home.

A favourite menu on board Ocean Spray:
(there is always a choice of menu)

Lobster soup

Tuna served Asian style , with vegetables and/or salad

Fresh strawberries with Chantilly cream

Often after an excursion ashore or snorkeling treats and drinks, including fresh fruit juices, are served on the stern deck
Eg. Fresh sashimi
      Prawn ceviche

This lifestyle could be different on Impulsive for our long crossing!

Marquesas to tahiti - verse

Marquesas to Tahiti-verse

We have now lost a second propeller blade
And so we depend on our sails
We hoping for good constant easterlies
There`s no motoring now if the wind fails

It blows for 2 days but then it dies out
So we´re creeping along in the swell
A tow into Manihi seems like a good plan
A good place to rest as well

But some wind springs up and carries us past
Manihi, but then drops away
And comes round against us, right on the nose
This is not our most memorable day

No doubt given time and the systems here
The wind will come back to the east??
We need good wind now to carry us past
All the Tuamoto reefs

It arrives,  thank heavens. We bundle along
But this wind again proves to be callow
We are caught for 4 hours in a tropical storm
The radar screen`s covered in yellow

Our track wobbles east and then wobbles west
Does the helmsman deserve a breath test?
It is tiring not knowing how long this might last
And by now we both need a good rest

Then at last a present arrives from south east
And it builds. Will it last the whole day?
It does. We are lucky. We bundle along
And make it to Point Venus bay

We creep south along the Tahiti coast
Then in through the gap in the reef
Then quite by good chance we`re at Technimarine
And they lift us out. What a relief.

June 2012

Galapagos Creation (Evolution of the blue footed booby)

Verse   Galapagos Creation
(or Evolution of the Blue-footed Booby)

I don´t want to be an iguana
And never be warm enough
A gamboling young sea lion?
That life looks a bit too tough

A frigate bird, a pelican
A swift Galapagos hawk?
A surgeon fish looks quite good fun
If only it could walk

I thought about being a turtle
But what sex would I be?
Or possibly a tortoise
But then I´d miss the sea

A flamingo was appealing
But they´re hardly ever seen
And a crab is neither fish nor fowl
(And nor is it in between)

A cormorant would be a chance
If only it could fly
A sprightly lava lizard?
No, I need the sea and sky

A booby? Yes, a booby!
But what about my feet?
The red ones or the blue ones?
I think the blue looks neat.

May 2012

Galapagos to Marquesas - verse

Galapagos to the Marquesas- verse

It is tiring to fight against 5 knots
Of wind on account of the need
To get further south where the trade winds are
But at least we have quite good boat speed

Now we`re 4 degrees south and we bear off the wind
This is better, but will the wind stay?
The Marquesas seem quite a long distance off
(And they are) but we`re on our way

It stays on the beam for the next 2 days
And we rollick at up to 9 knots
There`s a one and a half knot current to help
But those islands are still only dots

It`s hard to relax when you`re going this fast
And 3 metre seas hit the boat
Could the wind moderate just a little bit?
We`d enjoy our time more afloat

It drops and it comes around more to the east
As the sails start to slat we perceive
What a silly request it was to make
Is the wind still there to retrieve?

We promise we`ll make no more silly requests
If the wind comes up again
It relents and we rollick along once more
Let it stay just like that, Amen

Now we find it comes round to east south east
And we`re scudding along on a run
With our 2 headsails goosewinged (one on each side)
It`s working (touch wood) and its fun

This wood touching lasts for several days
Then the wind moves almost to east
It`s hard when you`re rolling to keep the sails filled
But we`re half way there at least

Our gear is starting to show signs of wear
Some chafing is starting to show
The mainsail`s supported by coat hanger wire
With 1200 miles to go

But our new sail arrangement is working quite well
It looks like a great big kite
It fills pretty well with 12 knots of wind
And it`s comfortable at night

At night the wind tends to come up a bit
And the swell tends to flatten out
So we`re scudding along by the light of the stars
This is what cruising sailing`s about

But the gremlins arrive and they`re up to no good
A prop blade falls off and the pole track lifts
So our options contract with a fair way to go
We must hope for some helpful wind shifts

With some problems to solve and panache required
It will be no surprise to relate
That the Admiral casually doubles her role
And performs with real skill as first mate

A good wind arrives from a bit south of east
With speeds up to 20 knots
This allows us to sail in conventional rig
May the wind hold up. We need lots

With 5 days to go we are getting close
But be patient, there`ll be no encore
Just relax and enjoy the vast spaciousness
Of the sea, sky and stars galore

With just 3 days to go the gremlins return
The main foil is now hanging loose
Can we nurse her along for the rest of the way?
Could the gremlins not grant us a truce?

We do nurse her along with a headsail poled out
On the last solid bit of the track
Then we boom out the second (twin) headsail as well
(The best form of defence is attack)

As we edge ever closer the wind drops down
With 85 miles still to go
It is tempting fate we realize
To put on a spinnaker show

We arrive at last at le baie des Vierges
Fatu Hiva`s phallic bay
(The original “verges” became “vierges”
When the missionaries had their say)

We drink Tattinger at 5am
As a modest celebration
Of 21(dry)days at sea
Our longest navigation.

May 2012

Passage from Marquesas to Tahiti

Passage from the Marquesas to the Society islands (Papeete, Tahiti)

Wednesday 30th. May
Today is Lily´s birthday. We are disappointed  not to be able to contact her before we leave. Sometimes it is difficult with the time differences and especially during the week.

The skipper now has quite a challenge on his hands to take us a daunting 780 n.miles to Papeete without using the motor. We need to try to keep its use for coming in when we arrive there. We can´t rely on a propeller with only one of three blades. When you look at it under the water it certainly doesn´t look very substantial to propel a boat of this weight (15 tonnes). Also we are concerned this blade may come off too.

The first issue is winching up the anchor. The bay is very calm this morning with winds forecast to come in this afternoon. Apparently there can be a large swell here and high winds funneling down through the high mountain peaks. We decide to winch up the anchor while it is still calm and hope once we are out to sea the forecast winds don´t take too long to come in. We use the motor on the lowest revs to motor up to the anchor to winch it in. We know the end of the anchor chain is around a huge rock. We are anchored near a Swedish yacht with three young men on board, one of whom is Australian. He dives with Ross when they first arrive to check both the boats are safely anchored in this poor holding. It is a relief when it comes straight up and we can head out to sea.
The 14-17 kt. winds from the east came up at about 1530 hours, and even more so when we passed the lee of the island and its headland. This forecast should hold for several days and we are averaging 5.8 kts. At times it is rolly.
Bruce is advising us to come south of 13 S so we are past the convergence zone before it comes in next Saturday. With this forecast we should be able to do this.
Unfortunately the winds will drop out after this for several days so we are trying to organize if there is  some way to come into the Tuomotos, which are on our route to Papeete. The problem is their surrounding reefs and strong tidal currents. We may need a tow.

We are disappointed with this change of plans to track to Papeete but we have no choice in the matter. There is nowhere else available to take Impulsive out of the water to have the propeller fixed. The only positive thought is that we hopefully can get there and have the repairs done in time for our next friends to arrive to meet them in Papeete.

On a lighter note we have the bread baking in the oven and it is a lovely day out here, sunny, warm and calm.

We are sailing with the identical headsails on the starboard side. Later Ross poles them both out to this same side. We can hold this setting for several days and nights.
The seas are relatively calm but are rolly at times. We experience a couple of minor squalls which are mainly inconvenient because of the lull in the winds after they pass through. With the squall on Thursday night we tracked at 8 kts. for a while which  boosted up our average.
With the lighter winds it would be good to fly the spinnaker but unfortunately there are too many fluctuating winds with no warning. Also there is too much east in the winds to goosewing with the two headsails.
There is a large low to our SW which is the cause of the weakening trade winds and so the reason we need to stop at the Tuomotos if possible until they pick up again.
We are in touch with Phil Mellett who came into the Tuomotos last year. We are very grateful he can give us a contact there, Xavier. On Friday evening we are relieved to hear from Xavier who is able to organize Impulsive a tow in through the reef. It would be very difficult to flop around in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no wind for a few days.

On board life goes on as usual with the night watch routine. It is sometimes difficult to have a sensible rest during the day but we have to so we are able to cope with our broken sleep at night. We estimate with this forecast it will take us four nights to reach the Tuomotos. We have a major problem with our propeller but are still able to enjoy cruising in the Pacific Ocean. It certainly is peaceful out here. Tonight is wonderfully calm but we need more wind to keep up our speed average. The almost full moon in the star filled sky is shedding a lovely light over the sea.
Ross has been tuning into a 7am morning sched. that Selwyn and Joanne introduced us to. It has been helpful with different and useful information coming through. It´s good to know there are boats near our vicinity.

It puts a different perspective on sailing when we no longer have a reliable motor to rely on. Ross always tries to sail Impulsive to her best ability in the conditions available but now this is even more important without the use of the engine. He takes advantage of all possible wind available.

From the very early hours on Saturday morning the winds drop right out, about 18 hours before they were forecast to, and we are averaging only 2 kts. This is very disappointing and frustrating especially as we have a tow in place for 10 a.m. Sunday morning if we can be there. We are not expecting the winds to pick up with the current forecast, apart from some ESE to easterly winds we may pick up at 13-18 kts. just for several hours. It is lovely being out here on such a gorgeous hot and balmy day but we need more wind. We really enjoy cruising but we do like to maintain a reasonable average speed which normally we can do by using the motor to motor sail.

Just on dusk Ross notices the starboard headsail sheet is badly chaffed. Fortunately we just have time to replace it before dark. Also the boat speed picks up with a bit more wind and we feel we are making some progress again. We had  winds of 5-8 kts. from the N.E. and now they are 9-11 kts. from NNE to EWE giving us an increased boat speed of 3-3.5 kts. We are hoping to arrive for a tow for entry into Manihi through the reef on Monday morning at the optimal time for the tide and current. There are no squalls tonight.

Sunday 3rd. June
It is rather depressing to wake up this morning to find the winds have dropped out again and we are lucky to make 3 kts. of speed. At least we are going in the right direction!
The wind is now N to N.E. and so not filling the sail properly on the starboard side so we pole it out to port.
With our very slow progress and the weather report we will probably have to track straight to Papeete. We will not be able to arrive at the pass in the reef  into Mahini at a suitable time for the tide and current.  It is confirmed that we are able to be towed in, which is a great relief. (We have also requested a tow in for as far as someone would be willing to come to pick us up, but no-one is prepared to do this).
Also we would like to be in Papeete when Prue and Bob arrive. This trip could take another week.
Provisioning could become an interesting question. We haven¨t shopped since the Galapagos Islands four weeks ago. I am very grateful for all the advice, especially from Robbie, to stock up the freezer in Curacao particularly, and then in Colon. We still have enough bases for meals in there to get to Papeete.
Thank goodness for the wonderful supplies of fresh fruit from Fatu Hiva.
We have supplies of a great variety of cans of fruit and veges; pastas, rice, risotto; dried fruits; long life milk and juices; muesli and dried biscuits. Also vacuum packed cheeses (still some Dutch ones from Curacao) and cold meats; eggs, olives and nuts. We have some dried foods if we need them.
With the water maker we can always have fresh water to drink.

Once we accept this is how it is, it becomes easy to again relax into this simpler way of life style, apart from dealing with Impulsive, and enjoy it. With the calm seas and lots of time we get out the art equipment. There are many inspiring scenes from the Galapagos and Fatu Hiva to try to capture.
Fortunately we have many good books on board and on the I-pad. Ross has just read John Grisham´s “The King of Torts” and was disappointed with it, but is now enjoying re-reading “Death on the Nile”. I have just read “Nothing to Envy”, as has Ross. It is well written and gives an incredible insight into North Korea.  I also read  “When God was a Rabbit” which is an excellent read. Again it is lovely to have the time to read so much. We never have this time at home.
A friend has lent us the series of “the Tudors” to watch. This is a very powerful presentation which we enjoy watching whenever we can.

Later in the afternoon we pole the headsail out to he starboard side again because the wind comes round to the east and slightly south of this at one stage.
At 6pm. we suddenly have beautiful sailing at 6 kts. with the boat heeling and not rolling. We don´t need a tow at this stage after all, just patience.
Tonight we experience several benign squalls with winds from 18-20 kts. with short and heavy showers of rain. If these squalls bring more wind we are happy to cope with them. The full moon is out which makes a huge difference because we can see the dark clouds coming as well as seeing them on the radar. During the quieter times it is lovely to hear the water lapping over the stern swim platform.
A huge cargo ship passes close by at midnight. It is the only boat we have seen out here. It gives me quite a start because with all the clutter centred around our position on the radar screen it wasn´t identifiable. It just proves you have to go out to the cockpit regularly to have a proper look for other vessels.

Monday 4th. June
Today is overcast which is unusual. We bring the sail in to end to end the headsail sheet because it is chaffing at the pole end of it. Simultaneously the wind drops out, and what there is of it is 8 kts. on the nose. We are becalmed! This is a very frustrating predicament , and dispiriting, because we are simply bobbing around in the ocean not going anywhere but tending to drift very slowly in a N.W. direction. Our course is S.W.
Our position is 27 n.miles from Mahini so Ross mails Xavier , and our agent in Papeete, requesting a tow. Again the forecast is not favourable, and with mostly light winds. We must also consider the atolls and reefs S.W. of  here, because we cannot rely on the motor. On this passage so far we have only used it very briefly on low revs to furl the sails and reset the spinnaker pole so that we hold our course.
Xavier replies that no-one is willing to tow us. We haven´t had an answer from the other agent yet.

Showing the problems we have holding our course on the chart plotter

Some hours later at 6pm.the wind comes up into S and then ESE accompanied by a few minor squalls, and later still it comes round to on the beam, 15 – 20 kts. and we can hold our course at 5 and 7  kts. This is perfect timing to take us between the navigational hazards of Rangiroa and Aratua atolls and their reefs. To be without a motor here is very threatening.
Now through this area our bearing is 215 degrees to Papeete. We are taking a course of 190 degrees to deal with the weather forecast and our tracking into Papeete. Ross has cancelled our request for a tow except to bring Impulsive into the dock.
For this section of our tracking it is very fortunate having the full moon shining above us giving light over the sky and the ocean. It makes night watch so much easier, and cheerier, being able to see out, rather than being surrounded by pitch black dark which can be rather eerie, even though the radar is so reliable. It is lovely to see the sail easily too.
Tonight I have the most wonderful and exhilarating sails during night watch with winds up to 25 kts, with no squalls. Our spirits are lifted again and we are now thinking positively about our ETA in Papeete. Also we have received the re-assuring news that the propeller parts have arrived in Papeete. We are always conscious of our plans with Prue and Bob and hope to set sail with them as planned, or at the most one day late because of the weekend.

Tuesday 5th. June

We have 145 n.miles to go. After this morning´s weather report from Bruce we are tracking directly to Papeete. The headsail is thwacking so it is poled out. Ross needs to replace a screw in the beak of the pole. With the motor on its lowest revs we are making nearly 4 kts. so must have a favourable current today.
The forecast is we still have a soft patch of wind to pass through when the winds will die off in the next 12 hours. From 1000 hours until 2300 hours we have a very calm and relaxing day and evening with 8-10 kts. of wind from NNE to N, making 3.5 kts. to the WPT.
Then there are 4 hours of a thundery system with the wind all over the place but mostly in the SW, just lolling all over the place. Our track on the computer screen shows us going in very direction so not at all productive for 4 hours - 11pm to 3am. Ross has had a very busy night watch. We bring the pole in at 0200 hours and then just have the headsail out to allow for more maneuvreability with the sail. Then the wind settles into the SE and will hopefully stay with us to the WPT at Papeete, now 90 n. miles to track.

Wednesday 6th. June
Finally at 3am.  the  winds we have been  waiting for from Bruce´s forecast come up to 22kts. SE to SSE and we are "tearing along". There are several patches of heavy rain with the radar covered with yellow. These don´t produce much wind and its not particularly gusty.
Later the 2-3 metre seas become bigger and confused with a short chop. With an increase of our speed up to 8 kts. Ross lets the sail out a bit to reduce it to 7kts. The wind stays up all day in this direction so we have a wonderful, if not slightly hair-raising sail to within 5 n.miles of our destination. I have never been so excited to see land when we can see the wonderful outline of Tahiti ahead of us. Frustratingly the wind drops out in the lee of the island and we are unable to reach our final weypoint before dark. At least we have seen the coastline in the daylight and as it gets dark lights come on along the shore line. We decide to come into Venus Bay about 4 n.miles north of Papeete Port to drop the anchor. It is pitch black dark as we turn in around the reef but just as we do the magnificent full moon rises to light up the area.
The relief of finally being safely anchored is fantastic. This passage has been an enormous challenge for both of us so we thoroughly enjoy sitting quietly in the cockpit for a while with a drink. Going to bed knowing we don´t have to get up for night watch is also a treat.

Thursday 7th. June
Waking up in Venus Cove is a delight with the tall Tahitian mountains as the backdrop.

Venus Bay

We are supposed to meet our agent this morning but are unable to contact him and are still waiting for his mobile phone details. We need to be in Papeete port so decide to head off. I am very concerned we are doing this without a tow even though the conditions are calm with no wind and the sea is like glass. To hire a tug boat is $1000.00 per hour so Ross wants to try doing it with minimum revs. I am very apprehensive but the skipper is right - we can do it even though it takes us several hours.

Coming into Papeete
The bridge that is too low for us to pass under

We decide to go in through the Tanua pass planning to tie up at the city dock as Laurent the agent had suggested. However to do this we have to pass under a bridge which is a much lower height than our navionics chart shows and there is no way we can fit under this with our mast. We turn around and are feeling very frustrated because there can be quite a current coming in through the second pass and we are not willing to try this. Just as we are wondering what our next move will be we discover we are right outside the marine haul out where Impulsive has to be taken out of the water to have the new propellor parts fitted. There happens to be a large barge here so we tie up to that and Ross goes in by dinghy to see what we can arrange.
It happens to be my birthday and all I can wish for is to get the propellor working again preferably sooner rather than later. It would be wonderful to continue with our trip as planned and not to let down our friends and family who are planning to join us during the next few weeks.
With the odd difficulties put in our path this wish begins to be fulfilled. Ross can call the agent from here and he is immediately very supportive. After much discussion and because Impulsive is there and ready to go they lift her straight out of the water on the understanding Laurent will go to the airport to clear the new parts from customs and be back by 2.30pm. The idea is hopefully to leave the boat in the sling when they lift her out, repair the propellor and put her back in the water before the men finish work for the day. It all sounds too good to be true! And of course it is.
While we are waiting for Impulsive to be lifted out after the lunch break Ross and I have a lovely simple lunch in a local small thatch-roofed cafe. We are lucky to find this delightful place as we are in the hub of the port and industrial zone.
Impulsive is lifted out and the propellor  is inspected by the mechanic. The axle stubs that hold the blades have been damaged so the threads have to be re-machined. As well a vital part (the bearing cap) isn´t included so we need to have that made as well. This means great problems for the space in the yard but fortunately they finally decide to leave Impulsive out of the water. The parts are not available here and will have to be flown in which is a minimum of 5 days. This is looking disastrous for our plans with Prue and Bob.
We also find the 3rd blade is use and could have fallen off soon. The cause for the problems with the propellor are till not definite.
We are both now exhausted. We walk into town to find somewhere for dinner. We find a low key place down near the water at the harbour. On the way back we are confronted by a closed very high steel grid security gate which has trouble getting me over.
What a birthday! We have to sleep on the boat on the hard stand to make sure we are there at 7am in the morning for the mechanic.

A lovely man, Bernard is the previous owner of this business. He now seems to work here as an overseer.  He takes a great interest in our problems and seems to scoop Ross up under his wing. He takes him to have the threads re- machined and to have  new bearing caps made all within the day on Friday. Unfortunately for us the haul-out business closes at 2.30 pm on Fridays so the plan is for the mechanic to finish the re-fitting and to have Impulsive put back in the water on Monday morning, first thing.
If this works out we can set off with Prue and Bob as planned, and will be very grateful to the many people who have helped us along our way.

Dancing at the Intercontinental Resort

Nothing else can be done over the weekend so we decide to take an Rand R at the Intercontinental resort. We have a real relax and catch up on some sleep, see some traditional dancing and enjoy some excellent cuisine.
We spend several hours on Saturday back on Impulsive washing off the salt, dealing with some rust spots, cleaning the interior and Ross makes a trip to the chandlery. On Sunday we do a big supermarket shop at Carrfor so on Monday morning we just need to go to the market once the fridges can be turned on again. We need the boat in the water to do this.


                                                          The new Propellor

Favourite recipe this leg:
(improvised) Salad nicoise:

Canned tuna
Finely chopped cabbage (instead of lettuce) – still fresh
Roasted red peppers – from a jar
Bean salad mix – canned
Bean sprouts – canned
Diced baby potatoes – canned
Corn - canned
Goats cheese – vacuum packed
Dressing - vinegarette and fresh lime juice
Boiled eggs – place on the top of the salad

This salad was fine to eat, easy to prepare and to wash up.