Cruising the South Pacific
John and Anne on Bali Hai <annejohn@...>
This is the time of the year when people are preparing to cross the
Pacific planning to be in New Zealand by November to miss the cyclone
season further North so here are a few tips.Take some things that
remote islanders might be happy to receive.We were given six black
pearls by a pearl farmer in the Tuamotus. He only had one flipper but
it never occurred to us to give him ours, I wish we had given him a
pair of ours and indeed other things. We could have taken a few such
essential "luxuries". We were surprised to see that the shop on many
islands or atolls sold only the bare essentials such as tinned
meats,rice, sugar etc plus Pampers of which they had big stocks. This
puzzled us until we realised that they do not have enough fresh water
to wash the nappies that are, presumably, used at night. If you have
a good watermaker offer your hosts water. They may or may not need it
but remember that they have no rain for much of the year.
It may have changed but when we crossed nearly fifteen years ago a
visa to stop in the Galapagos took more than the eight months that we
allowed for. We were allowed to stay a week as we took the hint and
claimed that we had a serious problem as our alternator needed repair.
The man in charge there was a captain in the Equadorian navy and it
seems that this was a two year posting during which he may find ways
to increase his income. We wanted to stock up on fuel there but the
only way that we could was to buy it though the captain. We paid for
60 gallons which was delivered by the navy in an assortment of cans
etc. It was not only very dirty but it was not more than about 40
gallons which we could only ell by our dipstick as the cans were of
every size. I complained and the other 20 arrived without problems.
Gas was hard to buy in the Marquesas because the price is fixed by
the French government and does not allow the vendors ny profit. We
were able to top up our fuel direct from a supply ship which happened
to arrive whilst we were in Nuka Hiva.As a general rule of thumb it
is possible to stock up on food stuffs etc in the French islands as
the French have or had arrangements for flying in goodies from France
fairly frequently. Not cheap but frozen ready made meals were
Papeete is a great place to resupply and is especially good to be at
on June 14 as this is Bastille Day (if I remember correctly) and
there was a military parade and many other diversions.
One thing not to be missed is the Festival of the South Pacific which
is an annual event which takes place in a different island or group
of islands each year. Many of the islands sent people to take part
showing facets of their own particular traditions from dancing,
singing, wood carving hut building etc.
American Samoa is a great place to have spares flown in from the
States as it is deemed part of continental USA and thus airmail is at
internal US rates. Specify priority airmail as otherwise your goods
may be offloaded in Hawiai if the plane is heavily loaded. Once off
loaded it may take ages to get on another plane! Deisel here was very
cheap but not as cheap as Venezuela.
Further west the fuel may come from Australia or Indonesian
refineries.I cannot remember which company uses the Australian
refined stuff but apparently it is much better refined and thus not
so hard on the engine.
Anchoring in atolls can be tricky as the depth may be sixty feet and
the bottom may have huge coral mushrooms which the Aussies call
bommies. You anchor with a lot of scope but the winds die out during
the night and your boat will drift around in circles until the trades
get going again next day thus the anchor chain may have been wound
around a bommy several times until there is no free scope, then if a
swell builds up the chain may break the anchor winch which would be a
disaster. The way to avoid this is to tie fenders every 20 feet or so
on the chain so that the chain does not lie on the bottom but will
sink at once if a breeze comes up. This is an old trick, it used to
be done with pieces of bamboo as floats pre plastic.Before we adopted
this technique I had to put down a second anchor so that we could let
out more chain on the main anchor and then scuba down to the bottom
and unwrap the chain from the stalk of the bommy.
Finally do not use the obvious buoys as waypoints and then put the
autopilot on track as this will mean that you will meet up with every
inter-island boat or ship which has used the same waypoints.
For those with bent anchors I think the SS ones may be made in house
by Amel because when we did our factory tour in 2000 I saw an older
man patiently funnelling lead shot into the pointed end and the hole
was then welded over.My SS one is now a garden ornament as we bought
a Beugal type one in galvanised steel in Turkey and we think it is
far superior. I think Amel have now adopted this type for the 54.
Good sailing, Anne and John SM 319