Daily updates describing the voyage of the yacht Aldebaran

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17 June
Hot sunny day today at Hiva Oa, but the mountain peak is still in cloud.  They were really disappointed today, the freighter didn’t arrive, and they only just found out that it comes fortnightly, so they didn’t have to move yesterday!  It does sound as though some of the crew want to be back by next Thursday to actually see this freighter come in – I suppose they haven’t seen a large ship for a while.


Today they were given some local grapefruit (I forgot to write down the name) which were quite delicious I gather.  They also attempted to waterproof the windows that leak, but they won’t know how successful that has been until it rains again.  Tomorrow they are going searching to see if they can find some internet access as they still don’t have any, and they now plan to leave on Friday to go the 50 miles south east to Fatu Hiva Island,


They must be up to date with sleep now as Andrew says he now gets up at sunrise, about 6am, but they are all in bed again by about 9pm.


18 June
A hot and sunny but unpleasantly humid day in Hiva Oa – still haven’t seen the mountain top though.  The crew went for a walk this morning to look at the local bush etc, but eventually gave up as the track got quite muddy.  They then went to the home of Sandra, the local agent of the company that arranged their arrival documentation, and used her internet access so there were a few emails sent out today, and some comments on Facebook.  Although they did all their own personal washing a couple of days ago, they paid Sandra to wash all their sheets and blankets and at that time booked in for internet, so today Sandra came and picked them up in her car and took them home for some internet time in her kitchen.  They were also informed that Raleigh is now legally allowed on any of the islands in French Polynesia.  This was a bit of a surprise as animals are not allowed ashore unless they have gone go through a period of 1 to 6 months in quarantine, but Carl had done a lot of preparation and paperwork in the States prior to the trip and together with the time on board, Raleigh got the green light today – Sandra apparently sorted it all out with the local vets and authorities.  Andrew says that doesn’t have a big affect on Raleigh as he is just happy when he is with anyone of the crew (particularly Carl or Lisa) but he can now be taken for walks.  He is not very fit though and tires quite easily.


Hiva Oa apparently has over 1000 inhabitants but there are not a lot of businesses.  There are 4 small supermarkets, 2 hardware shops that also sell items such as clothing, etc, a post office, and a little bank, but they don’t change money.  They have found 3 little restaurants and 2 bars, but nothing like a café.  It appears that most of the social life is when groups gather at friends’ houses for meals etc.


They did meet up with the yacht Galactic earlier in the week.  The couple on that yacht with their two children (both under the age of 4) had always been about a week ahead on the ocean voyage and they talked on the radio a number of times to check on what conditions they were each experiencing.  They were given fruit by the Galactic couple when they came to visit earlier in the week.  The grapefruit that they received yesterday came from Sandra.


The plan to sail down to Fatu Hiva tomorrow has been cancelled or at least postponed as the weather is not looking that good for the coming week.  There are going to be 2 to 3 metre swells from the south, so they are now planning to leave tomorrow and go the 5 miles or so to the little island of Tahuata to the south west of Hiva Oa for a few days and check it out.

19 June
Hi everyone,


The yachties went sailing again today after their week’s rest.  They left Hiva Oa early afternoon and went the 10 or 12 miles south west to a little bay on the north west side of Tahuata Island.  I believe they are in Vaitahu Bay (photo attached) and there are 9 other yachts in the bay with them.  The sea was quite rough for the first hour or so and then quite calm, but the trip was very pretty with some sun and lots of green hills, although there were also some showers and quite high humidity.  They will probably stay 2 or 3 days and may move to another bay a bit further south.  Tomorrow they want to go ashore and have a walk around.  Radio signals were much weaker today, so I asked if there were some high hills on the south side affecting the signals between us and there are.  Still relatively easy to chat though.


Last night the wireless internet that they signed up for a week ago in Hiva Oa suddenly came to life again so they did manage some emails and Facebook entries.  Hopefully it will work when they return as they are feeling a bit cut off from the world.  They are now up to 7 baguettes a day.  They are so lovely and fresh and really delicious.  Andrew and Carl have found some delicious local pate and cheeses in Hiva Oa and also are planning to have their sausages tonight for dinner.  The rest of the crew are having couscous with add-ons for their dinner.  The little bay they are in is super calm but there is quite a wind blowing down the valley towards them, so Andrew is not expecting to get a lot of sleep tonight.  They have the tarp erected over the cabin to keep the rain off, and that also gives them a nice dark cabin to watch a movie tonight after dinner.


That’s really about all today.

20 June.
It was a hot fine day today with the odd shower and still humid on the island of Tahuata.  Yesterday I said that I assumed they were in Vaitahu Bay as I hadn’t confirmed it, but they are actually a few bays north of there.  I have attached a couple of diagrams showing where they are, one shows the two islands with Hiva Oa at the top and last week’s location of Atuona, as well as their current location on the north west side of  Tahuata.  The second picture is a closeup of their current location.  They went ashore today and tried to find a track to walk into the bush but couldn’t find one.  They say the location is very pretty and the water clean and clear. They had a swim and also did some snorkelling.  They did find a coconut which they ate, the flesh was lovely but the milk a bit green.


There is no-one living on the shore but there are at least 10 yachts in the little bay and they discovered one that they had met in Mexico.  They had quite strong winds last night up to perhaps 20 knots but had a comfortable night.  They

are planning on staying a few days and moving on Tuesday or Wednesday if the weather is suitable.  Looking at the forecast the weather is due to be windy and rough till about Friday, so I’d be surprised if they do move far mid week.  

The sausages last night for dinner were delicious and tonight they are having noodles.  There may not be a report tomorrow as they have been invited out for dinner (to another yacht) and hence will probably not be on the radio.


Grant flew to China a couple of days ago but didn’t succeed in talking to the yacht.  He returns tonight and hopefully the radio contact attempt will be a bit more successful.


Till next time

22 June
Had a good chat with Andrew (and briefly with Lisa) today.  He had just woken up after an afternoon nap – they got to bed quite late last night after visiting another boat for dinner.  They went to the motor cruiser ‘Eden’ owned by a couple about their own age.  The owners, Adam and Eve, had done a similar crossing from Mexico but under power the whole way (not a yacht) at 6.5 knots – any faster would have used too much fuel.  The boat should have held enough fuel but they had two extra bladders of fuel on board just in case.  They had left earlier but Eve got quite ill so they returned and hired a third crew member to assist with the trip to the Marquesas.  The boat is a Nordhavn 47 (photo attached) and with a search of the internet I found an article on the boat and the current trip which is interesting reading http://www.nordhavn.com/news/headlines/finding_paradise/  Andrew said the boat was quite luxurious, quite the opposite to Aldebaran!  Eve provided chicken and a bean salad for dinner and a chocolate cake for dessert.  Our crew provided a couscous dish and fresh bread.  They’re not starving are they?


Aldebaran is not in the bay I indicated a couple of days ago, they are in the slightly larger bay a bit further south (map attached).  I told Andrew the location coordinates he gave me a couple of days ago were very inconclusive so he gave me much more accurate ones today so I can get their location correct.  They are actually at 09 54.44S, 139 06.26W.  Today they spent some time playing on the beach and swimming and snorkeling.  Apparently the waves are very small but the beach must shelve rapidly as the little waves rise up and crash down on the beach.  Raleigh apparently got bowled over by one today.


Two days ago Grant was flying from China to SF and called Andrew but although he could vaguely determine some human voice on the other end he never made contact.  Andrew said he heard Grant quite well twice but it became obvious that Grant couldn’t hear him.  A shame, but they are in a little bay which will shield them somewhat.


All are well on board and dinner tonight is the left-overs of the couscous dish

23 June
The crew have spent a fairly quiet day in the little bay that they have been in this week.  Andrew and Don spent a bit of time scraping some of the bottom of the yacht but say they will need to clean it up a bit before they do the next longish trip.  They took the dinghy the couple of miles down the coast to the bay with the little village in today and spent the rest of the time doing things like reading, etc.  They plan to leave early in the morning to return to Hiva Oa to hopefully see the freighter arrive for its fortnightly visit, but before that Carl and Andrew are going to get up at daybreak and try and join the large manta rays that feed early in the morning.  They have tried before but the rays got scared off, so they hope to be successful tomorrow.


The wind and swell are due to reduce for the next 5 days or so, so they may look at a further excursion over that time.


Lisa is making a Thai red curry with spinach and potatoes for dinner tonight.


Till tomorrow

25 June
Sorry about not coming up last night.  Wanted to let you know we moved back to Atouna on Hiva Oa and will be here till sunday probably.  We wont be on the radio tonight and but i will be on tomorrow night or i will email if not.
27 June
I haven’t done an update for 3 days or so as the crew all have access to the internet at the moment and partly for the same reason we haven’t talked on the radio for a few days either but we did talk today for 30 minutes or so.  They went back to Hiva Oa last Thursday and have been taking things easy and spent quite a bit of time at a music festival.  They are not sure what it was for but the locals had set up a stage in a park and there was lots of music and food over Friday and Saturday.  Not much dancing though.  Don was in demand to help get the sound system up and running and it sounds as though his efforts were really appreciated.  They missed the freighter, and it has become a bit of a joke as it apparently always comes on a Thursday, but this time it was two days early and came on Tuesday so they missed it!  They have spent quite a bit of time washing and showering and socialising.  While doing one’s washing or using the available facilities they run into a lot of the other yacht crews and chat with them.  They have seen the Galactic crew of course with the two young children on board and they are super positive people apparently, but have also recently met up with the crew of Madrona, another couple with two young children aboard, who are quite the opposite and are quite negative about everything at the moment.  I can understand why though as they took 40 days to sail from Mexico to the Marquesas and ran out of fuel on the way which would add to their worries.  They were apparently becalmed in the doldrums for 7 days.


Our crew have been getting a few provisions where they can find them and have managed to stock up on fruit but can’t find a source of fresh vegetables.  They will probably leave tomorrow for Nuku Hiva which is a larger island to the north and then to Tahiti with a few stops at some islands in the Tuamotus on the way.  They plan to reach Tahiti about 12 or 13 July.  It is about 900 miles from he Marquesas to Tahiti   Out of interest I have attached a map of the Tuamotu Archipelago, it is he largest chain of atolls in the world, spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe and contains 78 islands and coral atolls.


That’s all today

28 June
The crew had a quiet day today as the weather was dreary and overcast with some rain.  They sorted out some of their provisions and got ready to leave tonight for Nuku Hiva which is about 100 miles to the north.  They plan to leave sometime after midnight tonight so that they get into port at Nuku Hiva during daylight tomorrow.  They then plan to leave for the Tuamotus next Sunday or Monday but that all depends on the weather.  If the weather still looks ok next weekend then they will head west.  They are still seeing yachts arriving from Mexico/NA and wonder how many more there are out there.


Andrew and Lisa have put a number of large and interesting posts on the ocean trip up on the blog if you haven’t looked yet  http://braincloud2011.blogspot.com/


Till tomorrow

29 June
Talked to Andrew for about 20 mins today.  They got away from Hiva Oa a bit later than planned but although it is a nice sunny warm day with a 2 to 3 foot swell from behind them and a tail wind of only 5 to 10 knots they have had to jibe back and forth all the way and have not got quite as far as planned, so are going to stop at the island of Ua Pou for a few days.  They were about 5 or 6 miles from the bay they are going to anchor in and although the sun was going down they still had about 1 to 1½ hours of daylight left so they will make that easily.  I have attached a couple of photos showing the location of Ua Pou Island in the Marquesas group and another showing their location approaching the island when I spoke to them nearly an hour ago.  They have been told that they should find a good source of fruit and vegetables on the island.  The island is quite steep looking with some very steep spires sticking up, this appears quite common in the Marquesas. They were accompanied by a large pod of dolphins for some of the way today.


Dinner is yet to be determined as everyone is feeling a bit seedy being back on the water again.  They did get given a leg of goat yesterday so that might be for dinner tomorrow (for the meat-eaters anyway)


Till tomorrow

1 July
Talked to Andrew for about 20 minutes this afternoon and managed to get little more than a couple of dozen words.  They are anchored in the bay of Hakahau, the largest town in Ua Pou Island.  It is on the north east corner of the island with a high mountainous area to its south which probably explains the poor radio contact today.  They will move north to Nuku Hiva either tomorrow or the next day.  Everyone is fine.


Photos attached to show their current location.

2 July
Talked to Andrew for over 30 minutes today.  They are still in the bay of Hakahau on Ua Oou Island but signals are slightly stronger and hence we had much more success today.  I clarified their past few days’ movements as I had not been able to get much info over the past two days.  They arrived at Ua Pou Island late on 28 June and anchored in the bay of Hakamaii on the west side of the island a bit after dark.  They stayed there two nights – a lovely place apparently – and then yesterday went the short distance around the island to Hakahau on the north west side.  It should have taken them less than two hours but the moment they rounded the top of the island they were straight into easterly winds, so averaging about 1½ knots the trip took 5 hours.  There are a lot of boats in the bay and a number of crews they have met before.  They have spent quite a bit of the day at a festival with a lot of music and dancing.  This is the second festival they have come across in the last few days and apparently they are celebrating Bastille Day.  This is the National Day of France and is on the 14th of July, so the islands have started celebrating early!


There is a storm heading up the Pacific towards French Polynesia and we have been monitoring it over the past week.  I gave them another weather report today which shows that the storm will have little or no affect on them as the whole area is in the shadow of the huge Tuamotus Group so they will probably sail to Nuku Hiva tomorrow or the next day and then head for the Tuamotus about Tuesday.


Pictures attached showing locations over the past few days


Till tomorrow

3 July
Talked to the yacht tonight, still somewhat difficult, but we managed quite well.  They are still at Hakahau on Ua Pou and will be there till Monday now.  Don has bought a traditional Marquesas drum which is being made for him and won’t be ready till Monday.  They plan to sail to Nuku Hiva on Monday and then leave for the Tuamotus on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning after topping up with water, food, and fuel.  They are really enjoying Ua Pou as the weather is lovely, still very hot but nice, whereas it rained a lot on Hiva Oa.  They have found that although there is nowhere to buy fruit and veges, they are meeting a lot of locals and are being given a lot of veges and fruit; cabbages, green beans, bananas, apples, etc.


Everyone is well and having a good time.

4 July
Not much to report today.  They are still in Hakahau but plan to move to Nuku Hiva tomorrow.  They have had a quiet day and not done very much.  Most of our conversation was regarding the weather.  They will be fine going to Nuku Hiva tomorrow but may need to delay heading for the Tuamotus for a couple of days.  We’ll have a better idea when we get a new forecast tomorrow.  They may get access to the Internet again when they get to Nuku Hiva tomorrow which will help.


5 July

Just a brief update.  I talked to Andrew and Don on Skype this afternoon (quite noisy and difficult skype conversation).  Don’s drum isn’t finished but should be by tomorrow so they will probably leave tomorrow directly for the Tuamotus and miss Nuku Hiva completely.  They primarily wanted to discuss the weather and it could be a bit rough but the wind and the seas are from behind them which should make things easier.  They will probably head for Rangiroa Atoll but that will be determined by the weather conditions.  They would like to get to Papaeete by July 14, but may have to stay in the Tuamotus until the weather improves.  Currently the weather between the Tuamotus and Tahiti is awful with high seas but the Tuamotus provide a large weather shadow towards the Marquesas Islands which will protect them during this week’s trip.


Don’s drum is a traditional to’ere drum – photo attached.


7 July
Hello all,
Got a quick email from Leslie yesterday.  She had tried to skype call us but we did not connect. 
The crew has been spending time with boater friends (and strangers) and on Independence day, on Jean Paul (French) and Kaja's (American) boat (they met in Hiva Oa) and with Mike and Rod, a couple of "American oldsters" from Newport Beach.  Night before last they got pizza, ate it on the beach and toasted July 4th with some juice.
Oa Pou, like Hiva Oa, was great!  The people are very friendly and generous.  They have gotten necklaces and fruit from many people, mostly "13 year old girls in love with Carl and Raleigh".  June is a celebration month so they have been lucky enough to see lots of dancing and even the Miss Oa Pou compteition.
The crew is leaving for the Tuomatus today and expect to be in Tahiti in about 10 days.
Best to all,
7 July
The yacht did leave first thing this morning and are making good progress towards Rangiroa Atoll in the Tuamotus.  Maps attached showing a green yacht at the current position.  Current sea conditions are a bit rough with20 knot winds and 10’ (3 m) swell on the beam (from the side) but they have made good progress at 7 to 8 knots all day

They really enjoyed the Marquesas islands and didn’t want to leave.  The almost continuous festivals with lots of music and dancing was apparent most enjoyable and they feel they were very lucky to be there at this time.  The first anchorage at Kakamaii on Ua Pou Island was the most enjoyable as they were the only boat there and could meet the locals on their own terms without any other tourists around.  There was a festival show on there as well while they were there.  At Hakahau where they left from this morning they met lots of locals (I also got told that Carl was very popular with the 14 and 15 year old girls!) and left with a more than adequate supply of fruit and vegetables.

The crew are all fine although Andrew is a bit sick as always when they go to sea..


Till tomorrow

8 July
Had a good chat with Andrew today.  They are at 11 45S, 143 00W (I have attached the usual map showing their progress) and have had a good day.  The seas and the wind have calmed down a bit and they have been doing between 5 and 9 knots today, averaging between 6 and 8.  The wind is at 13 knots from the SE and the sea 6 feet from the SE.  A warm sunny day.  Both Andrew and Carl having been feeling a bit woozy but are improving, and the other 3 are all fine.

They found great baguettes again on Ua Pou but are starting to hanker for some grain bread again so are baking bread again on board.  I asked how the leg of goat went the other day.  Andrew said they had it two days running, on the first Lisa marinated it and made a curry, and on the second she braised It in oil and BBQ sauce and then cooked it on the BBQ.  Andrew said both were delicious although he didn’t get much of the second as they had a umber of people sharing dinner that night.  He said both variations were better than how the locals cooked it as their’s tended to be overcooked, it was very tender and fell to bits but was a bit tasteless!  They are still well off for fruit and veges on board and had been given 2 things they assumed were squashes, but turned out to be avocados, about 4 times larger than our avocados, but tasted the same.

At the current rate they may get in to Rangiroa on Saturday evening but need to arrive at low or high tide, not in between.  Rangiroa is a huge atoll with only a couple of entrances into the lagoon so the water rushes in and out at over 6 knots at mid tide so the only entrance and exit is within an hour of low or high tides.  I gave them accurate tide times today so they have something to aim for.


Till tomorrow

9 July
Annette and I had a long chat with Andrew today.  They have made good progress although the sea has come up a bit which has slowed them down a little.  They are at 13 19S, 145 09W, travelling at 7 knots with a 17 knot SE wind and an 8’ SE swell (map of progress attached).  They won’t make Rangiroa Atoll before dark tomorrow so will slow down when they get in calmer seas closer to the atoll and enter the Avatoru Passage early Sunday morning.  They plan to stay two days and leave on Monday evening for Papeete in Tahiti.  They should arrive there on Wednesday.  All stomachs are back to normal and everyone is eating and drinking normally which is good to hear. 


Andrew elaborated on their 7 or 8 days on Ua Pou Island.  Their first two days were spent at Hakamaii on the west side as I mentioned yesterday.  They were the only visitors there.  The bay was a little difficult to enter (it was very nearly dark) and find a suitable mooring.  There are only about 100 local inhabitants and they were setting up for a festival.  On the second day there was lots of music, dancing, singing and drums.  Lisa won an outrigger paddle in a raffle.  They really enjoyed the lack of tourists.  Then they had their very slow day trip around to Hakahau battling the head winds.  Hakahau has about 1000 locals and is the largest town on the island.  There is a good port there and they saw 2 large freighters come in including the Aranui 3 which is the ship that they had missed twice at Atuona on Hiva Oa.  It is an interesting vessel called a cruise freighter.  It is the freighter that supplies all the Marquesas and Tuamotu Islands but in addition carries up to 200 passengers in very good accommodation.  The festival there had 10 to 15 stalls selling local merchandise and as Lary mentioned they witnessed the local beauty pageant.  There were only 4 girls and it was all really nice, no vanity to spoil it.  It turned out that all the girls were about 15 years of age and most of the islanders get married around that age.  In fact Carl was apparently propositioned by one mother trying to marry off her daughter.  Andrew said that they appear to marry at 15 to 16 have their children while still in their teens and hence the islanders about the age of our yachties all have teenage children by now.  Hence Andrew said they got on much better with the teenagers than islanders of their own age.  They really enjoyed the Marquesas with its high mountains and amazing scenery and didn’t want to leave (they felt the same about Mexico) although they are actually looking forward to getting to Tahiti as they are suffering withdrawal symptoms from being away from crowds of people for a long time now.


Little things happen all the time to keep them on their toes – nervous parents, aunts, etc shouldn’t read this paragraph!  Two days before the yacht left Ua Pou a catamaran left to follow the same route to Rangiroa.  About 60 miles out it hit a whale and sank.  The crew were picked up the next day and all were ok but of course it got reported that they were attacked by a whale – it is much more likely that they ran into a whale sleeping on the surface, which they do do, and catamarans are typically quite lightly built and can’t take collisions like that, like a single keeler can.  An interesting tale with a good ending.


They plan to stay a little while in Tahiti as there are a couple of maintenance items to do on the yacht, such as clean the mussels off the bottom, and then the current plan is to go to the Cooks including Rarotonga, then Tonga.  They are not sure whether they will end up in NZ or in Australia at the end of the voyage, currently it’s about 80% looking like NZ, but depends where they get the best opportunity to sell the boat which they will start looking at in a few weeks time.


That’s enough for today

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