Maupiti, a gem in the Society Islands

For sailors, these outlying islands are tempting and we’ve had Maupiti in our minds since reading an article about it in a sailing magazine while still in Bozeman. It did not disappoint and it was fun to have some days to explore the little, sleepy island some call Bora Bora’s rival. Maupiti was our last stop before saying ‘au revoir’ to French Polynesia. We would have liked to be able to make it to its’ neighbor Maupiha’a (Mopelia), some 130nm  away, but we felt the tug to gain momentum westward …

Stevens/Stevens Rendezvous Society Islands

In May we had the chance to buddy boat with my brother Doug and his family and friends. They flew from Washington and chartered a catamaran big enough to accommodate eleven people on board. We kept a pretty busy schedule touring Raiatea and Bora Bora, hiking, snorkeling, sailing, diving, SUPing and kayaking. A few of us fit in an epic, muddy climb to the top of the peak of Bora Bora. It was great fun to sail alongside my brother, beat him sailing to windward and then watch him blow by us like a ghost ship with the wind behind the beam. He hailed us on the VHF sailing to Bora to tell us that for the comfort of his crew and to keep up with us on the windward leg he was turning on the engine. I said, “That’s awesome (I never expected to be able to beat that catamaran) he said, “Great for you, Marcus…”  Evenings onboard Kiwi will probably stick with us the longest. I guess sunsets are like that. After a long day of whatever and wherevering (usually in the water) their ridiculously spacious Bali 46 was a great place to hang out with no particular agenda, sip a little rum or scotch, a glass of wine or a dark and stormy and enjoy the warm tropical breeze and another delicious meal. ~MS

 

More Moorea

First reliable wifi in over 6 months, so I will be making a series of blog posts trying to get caught up! We last left off in Moorea (Oct.’18), so here are a few last shots of the island which, although somewhat touristy, provided sweet memories and special encounters. Next up, the remote Austral’s …

We waited a while to leave Moorea for the Australs, which was just fine. Plenty of nice diving with our new tanks and gear, bike rides and friends. And whales. In the wind forecasts there always seemed to be a stubborn trough (meaning squalls and confused seas) situated right across the route. No doubt it’s there most of the time in the spring. We finally left, deciding that it wasn’t ever going to really go away, and that anything that looked halfway decent was probably the best we could hope for. 

The forecast was for diminishing winds, so after a rough start (including yours truly experiencing a rare though mercifully brief bout of seasickness after going forward to set up the check stays at dusk, we settled in and the wind and seas finally did seem to mellow. Too make sure we made it to Rurutu not too late we also decided to fly the Asym, which we are normally reluctant to do at night. All fine on Diana’s watch, but instead of continuing to decrease the winds built on mine. The plan was to wake her up to furl the sail if the breeze tipped 16 knots. It hit 18, twice and finally I woke her. By the time we started furling it was blowing 22 knots and the bowsprit was nearly bent in half. It was almost impossible to get the sail in. When the wind did die, as forecast, we could no longer fly our Asym. 

Instead of a Haircut

Crazy way to start a day!  I’ve been brewing the desire to get a tattoo since being in the Marquesas but had WAAAY to much ambiguity around the ‘what’ and ‘where’ questions to pull the trigger. Nothing changed this morning, except that I’d made an appointment to show. We took Namo (our dinghy) down past Cooks Bay in Moorea and found Gilles Lovisa’s waterfront shack.

These Polynesian ‘story’ tattoos are great for those of us inclined to want to piece lots of elements together, so I shared my joys and loves and concerns, too, and before I knew it I was on the table! Total trust in this stranger of an artist! In an hour and a half, designs for all these symbols would be forever with me: earth, growth, nature, flying, and my art. In this tattoo the mountains, the wind and birds can be found, as well as my new animal loves – a manta, turtle, shark and whale. On this meandering ‘trail,’ too, family/friends, strength/protection, passion/compassion and my three children ( I resisted doing your faces, H,M, & W!) are there. Ha, I could have kept on going … but for a first, we packed a lot in!

Now I have to cease my whale swims for a couple weeks, but I have an indelible impression from this stunning corner of the world. Think I’ll keep it!

 

 

NEVER Too Many Whales!

Even with compromised visibility and overcast skies, we STILL spent 4 hours in the water with these mamas and calves! I include these additions for those of you who, like us, can’t get enough!

The Turtles of Oponohu

We are now equipped to dive aboard Allora, so it’s been our pleasure to explore the coral canyons outside the pass in Moorea and we’ve been rewarded with countless Hawksbill Turtle encounters.
Much like the Manta’s belly markings, the ‘mosaic’ pattern on the turtles’ cheek is unique to the individual, so I’ve been getting carried away with my Sony RX100V (in its housing, thanks Marcus for finding a great little camera!) trying to get shots to share with local researchers. ~DS

Heavenly Humpbacks!

 

Yesterday was one of those weird days that looked to be a complete write-off; Diana’s computer started having issues and the weather for sailing south to the Australs was looking impossible. By late afternoon you don’t expect things to turn around. I’m sure a halfway decent plan might have deflected this unfortunate slide in paradise. 

For whatever reason I was on deck and noticed a catamaran which seemed to have stopped halfway in the channel out of the reef. I watched long enough to see that they had paused because of whales coming in the pass. A mother and calf. 

We abandoned ship! At first they seemed to have moved off. We were swimming back, assuming we’d missed the show when they appeared between us and the dinghy. We stopped and waited and they swam over to check us out. They circled and came back several times over the next hour, often so close we both felt like we needed to back out of their way. It’s pretty impossible to adequately describe how huge the mama whale looked as she swam by, her eye just a couple feet away. It was breathtaking! The calf was even more curious and played and splashed right next to us. On one of his passes the young juvenile delinquent gave Diana a playful wallop with his tail, really clobbering her over the head. She was okay, but I think her mask was knocked a little askew. 

This is one of those experiences that probably everyone has imagined. I know I have. There’s simply nothing on earth that could prepare for the feeling, bobbing in the ocean with these beautiful creatures in a curious and playful mood. ~MS