Author Archives: Christine

About Christine

The one that makes it all happen

Santa's Sleigh

Supply Ship Arrival is Like Christmas

The Gambiers are very remote and only receive a supply ship once every 3-4 weeks.  Over the holidays it becomes even more infrequent.  The main village of Rikitea located on Mangareva received a supply ship in late November, then one in January and then the one we caught at the end of February.  The ship in January had no gasoline so the entire archipelago was out of “sans plumb.”  We were lucky in that the Nuku Hao supply ship was scheduled to arrive within a week after we arrived (the February ship).  Great timing for us!

It is a big deal when the ship comes as the locals receive packages, supplies, parts, cars, scooters, building materials, and pretty much anything that is needed from Tahiti.  The magasins (markets) get all of their fresh produce and goods to stock their shelves.  So, the island life stops as we know it to greet the ships.

Nuku Hao Supply Ship #1

At 0600, the first of two ships arrived.  You can see it coming down the channel (behind the sailboat), during sunrise.

Arrival of the Supply Ship

Arrival of the Supply Ship

The supply ship lowers two pangas to use as “bow thrusters” and help guide them to the dock.  It is amazing to me that they lower these pangas, with people inside them while underway. 

Pangas are used as bow thrusters

Pangas are used as bow thrusters

The pangas use their wooden bow with minimal protection to “ram” the supply ship and move her into place.  The ships captain cannot see the pangas from his perch, so the drivers of the pangas have to have a lot of faith in their own skills – to not get squished.

Pangas expertly maneuvering the hsip

Pangas expertly maneuvering the hsip

Organized Chaos

We went to shore around 10:00 to witness the activity first hand.  The supply ship had been docked for about 3 hours and the dock was bustling with movement.   They have two cranes that lift and lower the containers from the ship to the dock. 

Containers, containers, everywhere

Containers, containers, everywhere

Then forklifts move the containers and boxes away from the boat to make room for more.  Dozens and dozens of containers were unloaded.  Usually they have one fork lift on either end (one goes backwards while the other forward).  Really amazing.

Moving the containers on shore

Moving the containers on shore

The island is fueled by propane (kitchens) and they were very low on supply in the islands.  So, lots and lots and lots of propane bottles were delivered.  Locals bring their empty bottles in exchange for full ones. 

Anything and everything is delivered

Propane bottles - restocking the island

Propane bottles – restocking the island

The gasoline and diesel are delivered in 200-liter barrels.  The locals bring their empty barrels in exchange for full ones.  As an outsider, we can purchase one 200-liter barrel of diesel but not gasoline.   Gasoline has to be pre-ordered or purchased directly from the local magasins (for about $50 per 5 gallons).  Locals can purchase an open container (lower photo) have it filled and shipped to them. They meet with the foreman, provide payment and paperwork, and he tells them which numbered box is theirs.

Fuel and Personal Carts

Fuel and Personal Carts

I witnessed some funny things while on the dock.  I am sure most of it would never be allowed in the States.  A local purchased a 200-liter drum of fuel.  He backed his hatchback to the dock and had a forklift deposit the heavy barrel into the back.  What???  The bottom photo are the locals waiting for individual packages to be unpacked.

200-liter barrel to go?

200-liter barrel to go?

The fork lifts drive right inside the containers to remove pallets of beverages, food, and supplies.  Of course, we found the pallets of Hinano (local beer).

Hmmmm...beer by the pallet

Hmmmm…beer by the pallet

I went around to the bow of the supply ship to see the damage caused by the pangas.  I was surprised the metal ship had so many dents from the wooden pangas.  But both the pangas and the supply ship had obvious damage.

Changing of the Guards / Ships

Damage by the bow thrusters?

Damage by the bow thrusters?

The Nuku Hao supply ship finished unloading and repacking the ship around 1800.  By 1900 it left the dock and was out of the channel.    By 2100 the Taporo Supply Ship was pulling into the harbor.  What a lucky day!  Both supply ships arrived.  The Taporo carries more of the fresh produce and frozen goods.  It was raining when she arrived so we did not go to the dock to witness this madness.  We did however, go ashore several hours later to raid the magasins for fresh produce.

Taporo Supply Ship

Taporo Supply Ship

The Taporo brought all of the jet fuel for the airport

Jet Fuel

Jet Fuel

Although two ships came to deliver supplies, we realized that they still did not bring certain items like cabbage which is normally a staple.  Odd.  We will have to find a local who grows them.  Because we are in the Gambiers, very fertile islands, the search will continue for fresh produce.

Matt enjoying a morning SUP

Taravai Rest and Recovery

What a difference an anchorage makes, after 5 nights at sea and having disrupted sleep. We anchored in Baie Onemea in Taravai.  This is where we dropped the hook 10 months ago with our friends on Agape and Halcyon.  There was one other boat here when we arrived, but we were too tired to go somewhere else.  So, we anchored far out of the bay to have a better view of the sunset.

We woke to a beautiful, calm, flat, bay that had a light breeze.  So beautiful and perfect. Taravai is just what we needed after this long passage.

Taravai Mornings

Taravai Mornings

We spent 2.5 days in Baie Onemea.  Mostly catching up on sleep and cleaning.  The boat was a disaster both inside and out.  We had a perfect view of the sunset each night and were surprised to see a very big green flash on our first night.  Of course, we didn’t capture it on camera, but you have to believe me!

Matt captured a few shots of the sunset while I took photos of him.

Sunset Photos Taravai

Sunset Photos Taravai

It looks like Cousin It at the helm, but that is me :0

Cousin It watching the sunset

Cousin It watching the sunset

Taravai Village

On Sunday morning we motored the 5-miles over to the “main village” of Taravai.  I put that in quotes because there are 4 families that live on this island. They have a church and nothing else.  No magasin, post office, cars, or roads.  However, one of the families is super generous!  They host a Sunday Funday each week where they provide the main course and the guests bring the apps, salads, sides, desert, and beverages.  There are games, music and good times.  We celebrated Matt, Rachel, and Becca’s birthday here last May.

On the way over it was impossible to miss the absolute beauty of the island.  It is incredibly lush and green.  Dozens of shades of green can be found covering the hills.  The Gambiers had a particularly wet season so everything is thriving spectacularly.

Taravai Hillside

Taravai Hillside

Taravai is synonymous with Valerie and Herve who live in the main village.  They served up BBQ’d goat which Matt said was amazing.  We met lots of new people and ran into some other cruisers we have not seen since we arrived a year ago.  There are 4 main islands and lots of motus that make up the Gambiers.  At this time, there are only 15 boats in the entire archipelago and 10 of them are at this anchorage for the festivities.  We are early in the season so I am sure more boats will be coming soon. Last year when we arrived, there were 35 boats in the Rikitea anchorage alone!

Several boats left the next day.  By Tuesday, it was just Sugar Shack in front of Valerie and Herve’s place.  Nice, all to ourselves again!  Matt took advantage of the calm days and went on a long SUP ride.

Matt enjoying a morning SUP

Matt enjoying a morning SUP

Taravai was just what we needed after this passage.  It gave us the chance to rest and recover and then to reengage with other cruisers.  

Matt on watch during sunset

Passage: Marquesas to Gambiers Part II

We left on a Saturday for our 900-mile passage with the hopes of arriving by Friday.  We had strong winds, big seas, lots of squalls, a few rainbows, a large pod of dolphins and a few birds along the way.  Overall it was a great passage, but there were times, many times, where it just seemed endless!

If you missed Part I of this series, click here to read it.

First 24 Hours of the passage

  • 15 February, departed 11:15am, 797 to destination.  
  • 25-28kts of wind coming N of E
  • 2-2.5-meter seas in short increments making a lumpy ride
  • Avg. Speed 6.4, Max speed 12.6 (surfing down one of these big waves)
  • Travelled 155nm, 642 nm to go

Really choppy sea conditions, making it an uncomfortable ride all day and night.  Good, strong winds during the cloudy day which kept it cool for us while at the helm.  At night we had several squalls with lightening on the horizon (which is frightening). We danced with 2-3 reefs at night depending on the wind conditions.

After a short squall, we were gifted with a pretty rainbow.

Rainbow at sea

Rainbow at sea

Matt at watch just before sunset.  He makes this passage look easy.

Matt on watch during sunset

Matt on watch during sunset

This is a good shot of a rain cloud just over the sunset.

Rain cloud

Rain cloud

Here is a shot of a squall that just missed us – ha ha ha!

Rain cloud on the horizon

Rain cloud on the horizon

48 Hours

  • 16 February, 457 miles to go
  • 25-28kts of wind coming N of E
  • 2-2.4-meter seas in short increments, lumpy ride
  • Avg. speed 6.9, Max sped 12.6 (from day 1)
  • Travelled 340 miles, 185nm sailed in this 24-hour period (WOW)

It was another cloudy and dreary day which brought cool weather.  More squalls all night kept us playing dodge-squall.  We did however have an amazing day covering the miles.  We consider a good or average 24-hour period being 120nm sailed.  That is 5kts an hour which keeps us comfortable and the boat moving.  Today, however, we sailed 185 nm which meant we had maintained a 7.7 speed for a long time.  Of course, our “average speed” above includes the speed from day 1 so it does not reflect our great day today.

Blessed to receive another pretty sunset photo.  Photo doesn’t capture the purple and pink sky, but it was pretty!

Sunset at sea

Sunset at sea

Here is a photo of our radar showing us an upcoming squall. Doesn’t that look like fun to go through?  We actually were able to dodge this squall, but it did bring us some good rain and strong winds.

Radar showing a squall in front of us

Radar showing a squall in front of us

72 hours

  • 17 February, 306 miles to go
  • 25-28kts of wind coming N of E
  • 2-meter seas, starting to calm down, longer increments in between the waves
  • Avg. Speed 6.7, Max Speed 12.6
  • Traveled 488 nm, 148nm sailed in this 24-hour period

Sunshine in between the squalls today.  Bright and cheery.  Winds slowed down in late afternoon and evening making it a lot more comfortable.  Funny how you get addicted to the speed.  When you slow down your desire to get there faster outweighs the uncomfortable ride. 

96 hours

  • 18 February, 173nm miles to go
  • 18-22kts of wind coming N of E but winds are starting to shift more E
  • 1.5-2-meter seas, longer increments (9-10 seconds), little calmer, nicer ride
  • Avg speed 6.5, Max speed 12.6
  • Traveled 623nm, 135nm sailed in this 24-hour period

Sunny day, bright and cheery.  A few squalls at night bringing rain, early morning got a double rainbow

A beautiful double rainbow appeared just after sunrise.

Wowza, double rainbow

Wowza, double rainbow

120 hours

  • 19 February, 25nm miles to go
  • 13-15kts of wind mostly E, we lost the Northerly aspect which is frustrating.
  • 1 meter seas in 9-10 second increments, nice and a lot more comfy
  • Avg. speed 6.4, Max speed 12.6
  • Traveled 773, 150nm sailed in this 24-hour period

Wind shifted to East and East of South which makes us point almost into the wind at a 35-38 degree angle, which is really hard to sail. Most boats can point at 50-60 angle, but our stellar boat can do better.  Its’ just not terribly comfortable sail.  On starboard we can do 30-32, but our current port tack is better at 38-45.

This photo is our wind instrument which shows us the angle/direction of the wind (just barely before the 30), the wind speed “13.0” and our boat speed 6.3.  It also has “—” for depth as it is too deep to measure. Our depth gauge stops reading after 100 meters.

Raymarine Wind Instrument

Raymarine Wind Instrument

124.5 hours

  • 16 February, arrived 1545
  • 8-12kts of wind coming E of S making it incredibly difficult to sail.
  • 1-meter seas
  • Avg. speed 6.4, Max speed 12.6

Had to motor sail most the last 8 hours because the wind was not cooperating and came south of east.   It was such a relief to see land.  The island to the left is Mangareva (main island) and the island to the right is Taravai (where we are headed).

Land a ho!

Land a ho!

Entered the NW pass with no current or swell.  Nice, easy, calm, and wide entrance.  Followed our path from a previous trip here.  6kts of wind speed coming south of east. 

Photo of Taravai as we head toward the pass

Taravai approach

Taravai approach

Photo of Mangareva as we head toward the pass (you can see Mount Duff which we hiked last year).

Mangareva, the main island

Mangareva, the main island

Heading to Baie Onemea (where we anchored with Halcyon and Agape last time we were here).

Total Passage Data

  • Average overall speed 6.4
  • Max Speed 12.6
  • Trip distance 800.2nm
  • Total miles sailed 838.9 (up and down waves, through water)
  • Total miles from Nuku Hiva, Marquesas to Taravai, Gambiers = 969nm
  • Time in Total 124.53 hours

And we rest after a yummy pork chop dinner, cold beer, and admire the sunset

Sunset at Taravai

Sunset at Taravai

What do our gauges tell us on a passage?

Sugar Shack has a lot of amazing technology on board.  It keeps track of everything from current weather conditions, direction of the vessel, auto pilot, and more.

Our B&G chart plotter is what I reference most.  It has many screens, but the two I use are this page and the radar page.  This overview gives you all the data you need to know.  Wind speed (true and apparent), wind direction (true and apparent), boat speed, course, longitude, latitude, steering, and VMG (velocity made good).  Along with lots of other important data.

B&G Chart plotter

B&G Chart plotter

Raymarine wind instruments are located outside in the cock pit (one on port and one on starboard).  They show us a visual of the wind direction, wind speed, boat speed and depth.

Raymarine Wind Instrument

Raymarine Wind Instrument

Raymarine auto pilot head instruments are located outside at the helms (one on port and one on starboard).  They provide a lot of useful information in addition to controlling “auto.”  You can set each square to display the information you want, but we have them set to display AWS (apparent wind speed), depth, SOG (speed over ground), DTW (distance to waypoint), COG (course over ground), and AWA (apparent wind angle).  With autopilot we can set it to “wind vane” where it holds the approximate course but based on the wind angle.  You can plus or minus in increments of  “1” or “10” to change your direction.

Raymarine Auto Pilot

Raymarine Auto Pilot

At the Navigation Station Inside

Inside we have another Raymarine auto pilot set to display different setings.  TWS (true wind speed), AWS (apparent wind speed), SOG (speed over ground), DTW (distance to waypoint), XRE (cross track) and Heading.

Raymarine Auto Pilot Nav Station

Raymarine Auto Pilot Nav Station

VesperMarine is our radar display which shows us what is coming within a 24nm radius.  We can set alarms that beep at us if anything comes within a certain radius (like another boat or squalls).

Vesper Marine Radar

Vesper Marine Radar

We use Navionics on every passage which is on the iPad and shows a map of where we are, where we are going, our boat speed, and approximate arrival date/time to either the waypoint or the final destination.  This photo was taken on day 4.

iPad showing Navionics

iPad showing Navionics

We use Open CPN on Matt’s computer.  I could not possibly tell you all that it does, but it is invaluable to us.  We can overlay our course over maps which show us areas to avoid (bommies, reefs), depths, other vessels (their distance to us, direction, size), etc…

Computer using Open CPN

Computer using Open CPN

We use everything we can to insure a safe passage.  It is a blessing that our boat is so well equipped with top of the line technology to get us safe.