a self portrait

February 13, 2016

Justine has decided it is time to let her voice be heard.  She has painted a picture of herself with words.  Check out Justine’s most recent blog post by clicking here.

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Categories: cruising kids, living aboard | 2 Comments

moorea to tahiti ~ bad decision leads to scariest moment

September 11, 2014

our own 9-11 day & a lesson learned


a calm day at Passe de Taapuna & entry is no problem ~ when a 3 meter swell breaks on the reef, the thick waves & current are strong












My heart still races when I think about this day.  I have dreaded when the day would come time to write about it.  Nightmares haunted me for weeks afterwards.  To this day, when my ears hear the sound of big surf pounding on a reef, my entire body tenses.  My mind still sees the big waves next to me, and I imagine our boat broken to pieces on the reef . . . and the kids.  I shouldn’t have been there, but I was.  My bad judgment had nearly cost us the boat, and quite possibly our lives.


ship approaching Opunohu Bay in the early a.m.

That day had begun with us still anchored near Baie d’Opunohu in northern Moorea.  The plan was to spend the day working on school and getting the boat ready for passage.  There was a 3-meter long period swell out of the southwest for that day, so I had decided the next day would be the best day to return to Tahiti and check in with our agent prior to Wil’s return.


makes the other boats look small in the anchorage

A single email changed that plan.  Our agent stated that I needed come this day to fill out the necessary clearance forms.  I told her that I was still in Moorea, but that we would sail over immediately.  I estimated that I could be in her office by early afternoon.  The kids and I quickly got the boat ready for the 15-mile hop back to Tahiti.

In the meantime, my biggest concern was just how big the swell could be before making it unsafe to enter the pass at Taapuna.  The west-facing pass was currently receiving the 3-meter swell out of the southwest.  I thought I remembered 3 meters being the cutoff, but I wasn’t sure.  No one I knew was in VHF distance.  I tried a quick internet search, but came up empty.

There were two options in front of me.  Attempt Passe de Taapuna, or sail to Passe de Papeete on the north side.  Many boats would use the pass at Papeete when the swell was wrong for Taapuna.  Going through the Papeete harbor and past the airport would add quite a few hours to the trip, but sometimes nature would allow no choice.  For me, the 3-meter swell was borderline, and my decision was difficult.

Ultimately, I decided we would sail for Passe de Taapuna and assess the situation when we got to its entrance.  If the pass looked too rough, we would sail around to Papeete.  Not a problem.


west-facing Passe de Taapuna (near pink line on left) and northwest-facing Passe de Papeete






















The sail across Chenal de Moorea was absolutely beautiful.  The sun was shining, and the long-period swell was barely noticeable.  I was feeling optimistic that Passe Taapuna would be okay.

As our distance to the pass shortened, we could hear the waves crashing on the reef.  They were big, but they didn’t seem any larger than what we’d grown accustomed to seeing.

It was just before noon when we peered into Passe Taapuna for the first time.  The water was swirly with the strong current, but I’d seen and driven through swirly before.  The pass seemed a bit narrower between the breaking waves, but the pass was open all the way through.

The decision was still difficult.  I tried to think how Wil would think.  Would he choose this?  Or would he say that we needed to go around?  Many times, he and I have pushed limits and gone where many won’t, but at the same time we do what we can to keep ourselves safe.

The idea of traveling another 15 miles in order to enter from the north side didn’t appeal.  The pass looked doable.  I very quickly made up my mind.  I throttled forward.  We were going in.

From the very moment we entered the pass, there was no turning back.  It was all or nothing.  From the very moment we entered the pass, I knew I’d made the wrong choice.

The powerful waves were sucking us toward the reef, and we weren’t even at the “swirly” water yet.  I couldn’t hold the boat in a straight line.  I needed Colin to stand on the port side of the cockpit to let me know how close the reef was to that side of the boat.

Colin recalls thinking he was looking at Baby Teahupo’o when he looked up at the waves from his vantage point.  He also noticed a boogie boarder on a wave to our starboard.  He saw a person sitting in a small aluminum boat with a life jacket on keeping an eye on the boogie boarders.  When does a person see a Polynesian in a life jacket!

Justine came into the cockpit.  Always calm, cool and collected.  Her eyes widened, and she very calmly grabbed hold of the cockpit table and braced herself.  Quietly in her mind, she was repeatedly saying, “Oh God, oh God, oh God . . . ”

There was at least a 5-knot current against us.  Our boat can easily do 9 knots with both engines in full forward.  At times, our SOG was barely a knot and a half.  I kept reaching for more throttle power, but both 50 horsepower engines were giving everything they had.  The water’s power kept stealing the helm from my grip.  I was barely strong enough to hold onto the wheel.  Sometimes I had to press my whole body against the helm to keep it from moving the wrong way.  The boat did not want to proceed in the direction of her bow.

I saw a person paddling a board out with the current.  In my mind, I begged for him to stay out of our way.  There was no way I would be able to avoid him if he got too close.  I remember seeing the unsure expression on his face.

My mind was racing.  My body was shaking.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  My mind changed.  This was NOT happening!  This would NOT happen!  I would not lose our home, our everything.  It would not end this way.  I would not quit.  I would not give up.  I fought with every ounce of determination and strength that I had.

Gradually, the current eased and the boat responded to my demands.  We passed the last set of buoys, and finally arrived in calmer water.  I took my shaking hands off the helm and burst into tears.


our ingoing zig-zag track through Passe de Taapuna, compared to a smooth exit ~ depth in meters












There was no time to dwell.  We needed to focus on the next task at hand and find a spot to anchor in the deep (50-60 feet), rolly, and crowded anchorage.  When Wil and I are the anchor team in this “Carrefour Bay” anchorage, it takes us no less than 3 tries before we’re happy with our situation.  Colin and I achieved a good location and well-set anchor after only 2 tries!

Once the anchor was down, I needed to get to shore immediately.  With the big swell, the anchorage was rocking and rolling more than normal.  It took all three of us to safely lower the dinghy without it swinging wildly out of control.  Getting into the dinghy and unhooking it required careful timing with each wave.

As I approached the dinghy dock, it was apparent that docking the dinghy would prove to be a challenge too.  The entire floating dock was jerking back and forth with the swell.  It looked like it could break apart at any moment.  All the dinghies and their engines were banging into each other and the dock.  Not a good place for the dinghy, but there was no other alternative.

The scene didn’t end there.  Waves were splashing over the outermost wharf, pushing boats dangerously close to the concrete.  Water was pushing up through the dock boards at the inside dinghy docks.  Boats were rocking and rolling inside Marina Taina.  The parking lot drains had mini geysers spraying out of them with the push of each wave into the shore.

I was still shaking when I reached the Tahiti Crew office.  Our agent cheerfully walked up just seconds after my arrival and asked how I was doing.  When my response was, “Not good,” she stopped, looked at me, and asked why.

“I just came through that pass,” I’d said while pointing a shaky finger in the direction of Taapuna.  It took a moment before she realized which pass I was referring to.  “That pass?” she exclaimed.  “No one is going through that pass today!  Everyone is going around.”  And she meant everyone.

I didn’t need to tell her any details.  She immediately understood and proceeded to tell me that whatever the highest yacht masters certificate a person can get is, I had just earned it.  Then, she handed me a cookie.

Moral of the story:

Never be in a hurry.

We tend to be critical of sailors who let the clock (or money) rule their decisions.  Every time we hear of a boat damaged in a storm or on a reef, many times its because the skipper chose not to wait.  I (we) have always known not to be in a rush.  Always wait for daylight before coming too close to land or entering an unfamiliar channel.  Always wait for an appropriate weather window.  Wait for appropriate lighting when navigating among coral heads and near reefs.  Never hesitate to turn around or change direction if Mother Nature dictates it.

As many of us cruise for any length of time, I don’t think you can find a sailor who hasn’t made a stupid mistake.  If they say they haven’t, then they are either lying, haven’t been out there long enough, or are extremely lucky.  Fortunately, for most of us, we learn from the mistake and come out relatively unharmed and with the boat mostly intact.

On this day, I made my biggest mistake.  I did something I have always preached against.  I let time rule my decision, and I chose the shortcut.  Whether it was skill or luck that helped us through (or maybe a guardian angel), I am forever thankful that we still have our boat and our lives.

[Added note:  After describing the appearance of Passe de Taapuna that day to Wil, I asked him what he thought he would have done.  Wil believes he would have chosen to go through the pass too.]

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moorea ~ sting rays, sharks, and a gecko

September 8 – 11, 2014


Next stop . . . swimming with sting rays and sharks again for our third time!

So that we could have a shorter dinghy ride to “sting ray city”, we anchored as far west of Passe Tareu (mouth of Baie d’Opunohu) as possible.  s/v Macha has a much shallower draft, so they were able to enter at Passe Taotoi and pick up a mooring.

For the next couple of days, we dinghied back and forth with Macha, enjoying the water activities.  While the boys boogie boarded Passe Taotoi, Justine and I snorkeled near the pass.  The water was too cloudy and a moray eel caused us to exit the water sooner than expected, so we dinghied out to look for whales instead.  One morning, the guys on Macha served us a wonderful pancake breakfast!


butterfly fish amidst sting rays


eager sting rays immediately swarm








sting rays seem to enjoy being touched . . . especially when food is available!














we can stand safely among them


a dog’s trick ~ flipped food from nose to mouth









sting rays feel so velvety soft













even when the food is gone



just like petting a dog!










string ray tail & a child’s feet ~ the two happily swimming together













eventually shark presence grows


. . . and the sharks get closer








hmmmm . . . can you hear the Jaws music?












the more sharks, the more aggression


shark behavior lesson ~ when pectoral fins are down, the shark is exhibiting aggression, and it’s time to leave the water











bug-eating stowaway discovered ~ named Sam














All fun things must come to a brief interlude.  Soon it was time for us to part ways with s/v Macha.  They were going to return to Ha’apiti for some more surfing, and we had a few things to wrap up before returning to Tahiti to pick up Wil.  Playing in Moorea during Wil’s absence had been another nice distraction from the pain we had all been feeling.

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moorea ~ captain mom & the wind

September 5 – 8, 2014



our Rocna well buried on the sand bank

After a week in the anchorage near Marina Taina, provisioning and spending our final days with s/v Liward, the kids and I finally hoisted the anchor and sailed to Moorea.  A strong northeast wind was forecast for the area, so we chose to return to village Ha’apiti on Moorea’s southwest shore.  It was a quiet anchorage and there was plenty of good snorkeling.  With surfing in mind, as well as keeping the 12-year old boys happy, s/v Macha joined us for the fun.


twist ties indicating the amount of chain out


beautiful snorkeling near Ha’apiti, Moorea



Since Wil was gone, Colin had become my new anchoring teammate.  With myself at the helm and Colin at the bow, it didn’t take us long to perfect our team anchoring skills.  Once the anchor was down, Colin would swim on the anchor.  One time, we re-anchored because our chain was too close to a teeny tiny coral home for a teeny tiny lionfish.

We managed plenty of great snorkeling before the strong wind arrived.














checking out the sea anemone


thrilled to have finally found Nemo!








gorgeous clown fish & sea anemone














underwater acrobatics



showing a sea biscuit










an underwater world reflected




beautiful sea slug ~ for Amy


sea cucumber ~ photo for my friend, Amy, who loves invertebrates

sea cucumber ~ photo for my invertebrate-loving friend, Amy





























During the wee hours of the morning, the northeast wind began to build.  By about 5 a.m. it maintained itself at a good 30-40 knots.  It wasn’t long before our chain was outstretched and we were sitting stern to a handful of coral heads.  I immediately put myself at the helm with the engines on and in low gear.  As the wind blew, I monitored the situation, and brainstormed through my options.

The coral and sand bank in the Ha’apiti anchorage doesn’t leave much room for dropping the hook.  Boats must carefully place their anchor near the edge of the sandy drop-off, and allow for swinging room without hitting any coral heads.  We were in our usual spot with the best space available for our boat, but with a 40 knot wind funneling across the mountain and an outstretched chain, there wasn’t an ounce of extra room.

As a “single-hander” with kids, and with a very small anchoring space available, I didn’t want to attempt to re-anchor in the strong wind.  I didn’t want to shorten the anchor scope because then I’d sacrifice our holding power.  Therefore, I sat near the helm and stern of the boat for several hours, watching the coral heads with each gust of wind.

Finally, there was a small lull in the wind.  During the lull, s/v Macha added a stern anchor to prevent themselves from swinging onto the coral.  It would take too much time for me to rig our stern anchor, so I made a quick decision.  With Colin’s help, we pulled the anchor up and dropped it off the edge of the sand bank.  This allowed us to drag the anchor into the bank wall where it immediately held.  With the knowledge that the wind would remain northeast for the rest of the day, I knew we wouldn’t move.  I could finally take my eyes off our stern and relax a bit.

Twelve hours after the start of the 30-40 knot blow, the wind finally dropped below 30 knots.  My entire body was exhausted from the constant tension, and my ears were relieved to not hear the wind howling through the rigging anymore.  I was very thankful the wind had blown during the daylight hours (which it never does!), and I would have no trouble sleeping that night.

Normally, Wil and I would be together through a strong blow, and we could rely on each other for support.  If he had been there, we could have taken watch turns, worked together to get a stern anchor out during the lull, or even re-anchored in the 40 knots.  This was my first experience as a single parent acting as a solo captain (with a bit of help from the kids), and while it was a challenge, I was also reminded of my own capabilities.

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huahine to tahiti ~ bad news received

August 28 – September 5, 2014


underway from Huahine

















The morning had started out as a beautiful morning.  We finally had a good wind for our departure from Huahine.  Our s/v Liward friends were also taking advantage of the wind for their return to Tahiti.  We were a little unsure about our next destination, but we were headed east for the time being.  Hawaii was our eventual destination, and we needed to make some easting in order to have the best angle for the trip north.

We were sailing along side Liward.  We would see humpback whales breach.  Steve and Lili never saw the whales, and referred to us as the “whale whisperers”.  The day was just right.

Everything changed the moment I went to the SSB to check on email.

There were two emails both titled with the name of Wil’s brother-in-law.  One was from Wil’s sister, and one was from Wil’s mom.  The last time we had received an email titled with a person’s name, it was about an old friend from home who had died.  Surely, this wasn’t the case.

I read and re-read the emails.  I couldn’t stop from shaking.  My mind was in disbelief.  Wil was in the cockpit.  How was I going to tell him that his brother-in-law had just died?  Wil walked in seconds later and saw the look on my face.  I couldn’t say a word.  I only indicated for him to read the emails.  The tears flowed uncontrollably.

We cried and cried.  The kids cried too.  It was too difficult to focus on sailing.  I radioed Liward to explain the reason for our inattentive sailing.  They were there for us.

Suddenly, we had a fish on the line.  Now we had to focus.  We all jumped to attention and fell into our “fish on” duties.  Before we knew it, we had our biggest mahi-mahi onboard.  We never measured it, but it’s length more than surpassed the width of our transom steps.  It was huge!  And a nice distraction from our recent news.

The distraction continued.  We had barely brought the mahi onboard when suddenly we had another fish on.  The next fish was even bigger than the first, and it was a wahoo.  Wil barely had room for both himself and the fish on the transom.  The wahoo was not going down without a fight.  Even out of the water, it wriggled so hard that it kept smacking Wil on the legs.  Wil called for our rarely used bat.  He did his best to hit the wahoo over the head, but the fish was too tough.  With every hit, blood splattered everywhere, and all over Wil.  He kept hitting the wahoo, and with every smack, kept yelling “All hail the bat!”  We all couldn’t help but laugh.  We needed this distraction.

Once both fish were processed and put away, we returned to feeling sad and numb.

What were we going to do?  We were on passage, and we had cleared out of French Polynesia.  There was only one thing to do.  We emailed our agent with Tahiti Crew and explained our situation.  Would they let us clear back into French Polynesia, so Wil could fly out to his sister in California?  Our agent was going to do what she could.  We aimed for Tahiti.

We sailed overnight.  In the morning, we didn’t yet have clearance approval from our agent, so we stopped in Moorea, anchoring just outside Baie d’Opunohu.  The anchor was barely on the bottom when we got word that we could proceed to Tahiti.

We dropped the hook near Marina Taina and quickly went ashore to meet with the agent.  She was quick and effective through the entire process.  She drove us to the immigration office at the airport in Papeete and assisted us through all of the paperwork.  She even found and purchased plane tickets for Wil, putting him on a flight for that night.

Wil would be gone for two weeks.  We had hoped that he could stay with his sister for 3-4 weeks, but the French Polynesian authorities only allowed us 15 days on an emergency visa.  We had no choice, and we would take what they gave us.

However, there was a complication on our part.  The moment Wil stepped on the plane, he was considered cleared out of French Polynesia . . . again.  He would not be using his 15 days while he was in the US.  The rest of us would remain in French Polynesia, using up our 15 days.  The day Wil was scheduled to return to Tahiti was also the day the kids and I would be required to clear out.  Our agent tried to get permission for us to be allowed to stay with our “captain”, but we were denied.  I would have to have the boat ready for passage the moment Wil returned.

The remainder of our day was spent going over things I would need to attend to in Wil’s absence, as well as getting him packed for the trip.  After having come off an overnight passage, we were mentally and physically exhausted, but there was no time to stop.  That evening, Steve (s/v Liward) picked Wil up by dinghy and then drove him to the airport in their rental car.

Wil was gone, and suddenly the kids and I had the boat to ourselves in Tahiti.  While I was sad that I couldn’t go with him, and sad for the loss of his brother-in-law, I didn’t feel like we were alone.  Liward was in the anchorage for about a week until they hauled out, and Macha would arrive the next day.

Macha had family visiting for about 6 weeks, which to Colin’s good fortune, included 12-year old Griffin.  They had played together in Huahine, and now would get to be together again in Tahiti.

Regardless of Wil’s absence, I knew that I didn’t want to stay in the “Carrefour Bay” anchorage near Marina Taina for the entire time Wil was gone.  I would go crazy in the crowded anchorage and preferred to be a bit more secluded.  Moorea was the island of choice until his return.

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while waiting on wind

August 21 – 28, 2014

While we waited on a favorable wind to take us to our next destination, there was no shortage of fun.









no fear


posing for the camera




at her own pace


. . . and with grace




our own Puddle Jump 2013 reunion ~ Full Monty, Liward, Macha, and Yum Yum, either remaining in or having returned to French Polynesia










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raiatea ~ work & play

August 7 – 21, 2014

Raiatea was to be our final stop in French Polynesia.  The kids’ school books would be arriving in Raiatea soon.  We were also eager to see our friends on s/v Zingaya who had returned home to Raiatea and were transitioning into their new jobs there.  And, it was time for the family aboard s/v Malia (Colin’s burfing buddy, Kea) to be flying home to Kauai (Hawai’i), and they needed to place Malia in one of the Raiatea marinas.  Therefore, along with Malia, we made the short day hop from Huahine over to Raiatea.  Once there, we spent a few days of play on Raiatea’s west side.


dubbed “Colin the Invincible”


a more conservative form













anchored between the reefs near Uturoa

After bidding farewell to Malia’s visiting crew, we moved around to an anchorage area near Uturoa on the northeast side of Raiatea.  There we could be near s/v Zingaya, as well as some extra provisioning.  While we waited for the school books to arrive, we spent time with the Zingaya crew, toured a bit of the Uturoa area, and prepared the boat for departure from French Polynesia.  Texas friend boats, s/v Liward and s/v Irie II, also popped in for a brief visit.


Full Monty anchored behind the reef & looking so small















looking northwest from Mt Tapioi, Raiatea towards Tahaa (right) and Bora Bora (furthest)












enjoying the view from Mt Tapioi


standing above Uturoa







looking east over Passe Teavapiti towards Huahine










Raiatea’s east side











an unconcerned bull standing in our path


eye candy for him & eye candy for her








carefully-raised vanilla bean plants










local Raiatea flora



looking north from Raiatea to Tahaa










panoramic view of Uturoa village & Tahaa from Mt Tapioi, Raiatea








Mt Tapioi ~ a fun hike



a Mercedes school bus


school would be starting soon in Raiatea



















convenient provisioning at the Uturoa town wharf


















We were due to clear out of French Polynesia on a Sunday.  This meant we needed to get our clearance papers from the Gendarmerie on Friday at the latest.  We were down to our last days in French Polynesia, and busy with passage preparations, when we suddenly found ourselves with a leak in the raw water intake for the starboard engine.  There was a possibility that we would have to order a new part, so we immediately began the process of filing for a visa extension.  At the same time, we moved the boat to the Uturoa town wharf, so we could be available for inspection by proper authorities and a mechanic.  Wil was quite capable of fixing the leak himself, but we were required to have a local mechanic verify our situation.


sporting newly pierced ears ~ pierced in Tahiti!

We spent one day and a night docked at the town wharf trying to sort out our troubles.  Our extension was filed, but because it was a Friday, we would need to wait until the Monday (one day after our visa would expire) to receive approval.  Therefore, rather than sit at the busy wharf, we returned to anchor for the weekend.  In the meantime, Wil managed to fix the leak before Monday, and we didn’t need the extension after all.

During the weekend, s/v Zingaya informed us that a local sailing school was hosting a free sailing day in order to recruit new students.  While the rest of the adults were busy with work or chores, I dinghied the kids over to the sailing school for the day.  There were a variety of Hobie cats, optimist sailing dinghies, and windsurfers available to anyone who wanted to give it a try or have some fun.  Instructors were also available and on standby for any necessary instruction or help.  Our kids went straight for the Hobie, and then later gave the windsurfers a try.


Zingaya & Full Monty kids going sailing


taking off








sailing to Tahaa


a sailing playground between Raiatea & Tahaa








kids sailing between Raiatea & Tahaa ~ Bora Bora in the distance












first windsurf experience




friendly & helpful instructors









sails & Bora Bora on the horizon ~ a beautiful sight


















On the Monday, we returned to the Gendarmerie for our final clearance.  We were surprised when the officer asked us when we would be leaving.  Therefore, we took advantage of this fact, and stated that we would need to wait on a favorable wind.  We remained in Raiatea for 2 more days before returning to Huahine to wait on that favorable wind.


giant mussel found at while at anchor


a nightly visitor looking for scraps









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huahine ~ kids, kids, kids!

July 17 – 31, 2014 ~ Baie d’Avea

After an incredible morning with the voyaging canoes, we hoisted anchor and headed to Baie d’Avea at the southwestern end of Huahine.  Baie d’Avea had been our first destination of choice for Huahine.  Now, two weeks later, we were finally dropping the hook in this remote anchorage.  While we had been completely enjoying the amazing culture of Huahine, we were ready for some alone time.  Also, the boat needed some attention, and we had a birthday to celebrate.


looking out toward the reef ~ anchored inside Baie d’Avea, southwest Huahine












on a Nemo hunt ~ sea anemone spotted

sea anemone spotted & hoped to see Nemo!



When we arrived in Baie d’Avea, there were only a few other boats in the anchorage.  We immediately enjoyed some snorkeling, standup paddle boarding, and skurfing.  When we weren’t playing, boat maintenance was getting done.


always nice to see water bead on the bimini after waterproofing

always nice to see water bead on the bimini after waterproofing

finally! ~ nothing like a nice coat of varnish

finally! ~ nothing like a nice coat of varnish















When s/y Breeze, a gorgeous Moody 64 under Swedish flag, dropped anchor in the bay, our kids finally got to have some kid time.  Two months ago, we’d sadly said good-bye to our kid boat friends in New Zealand, so our kids were quite happy to meet and play with Ella.  Unfortunately for us, Breeze was only there for a few days.  They had been in French Polynesia for a year, and they were approaching the end of their visa.  We wished we’d met them a lot sooner, but little did we know, Breeze would have a big influence in our lives further down the road.

Eventually, we got wind that a large group of kid boats would be arriving in Huahine.  They were of the next season of boats to pass through French Polynesia, and they were on their way to Baie d’Avea!  We had been hearing them on the SSB and VHF, but had not yet crossed paths.  Before we knew it, the anchorage was full of kid boats, and at one point we had 19 kids in the anchorage!

During the kid invasion, we must have been so busy playing that we forgot to take any photos.  In addition to ourselves, the other kid boats present were Field Trip, Moana Roa, Lil Explorers, Dafne, Elena, and Lochmarin.  A volleyball net was set up on the shore, and there always seemed to be a game going.  There were also the usual water activities, but this time I got to have my first experience noodling.  Sarah (s/v Field Trip) led all of the ladies in this water aerobics exercise that involved foam noodles usually found at swimming pools.  Yes, many of us already have noodles onboard!  There were also a couple of mornings that involved a dinghy ride around the southern tip of Huahine to the inside surf break of Passe Araara at Baie Parea.  The inside break is the perfect spot for beginners . . . if you disregard the fire coral beneath you!


cake decorated by Colin for his big sister



Amidst all of the kid activity, we celebrated Justine’s 14th birthday.  Even though we had an anchorage full of kid boats, Justine chose to have a small and quiet celebration with only our family.  Her big gift had already been received a few weeks earlier when I took her to get her ears pierced in Papeete.  How fun to be able to say you got your ears pierced in Tahiti!


lighting the candles ~ 14 plus one for good luck

lighting the candles ~ 14 plus one for good luck

getting brighter every year!

getting brighter every year!
















August 1 – 7, 2014

Most of the kid boats departed Baie d’Avea on the same day, including ourselves.  We needed to return to Fare, and our time in French Polynesia was also coming to an end.

mom & babe out for a paddle

mom & babe out for a paddle






Once back in Fare, we ended up meeting a family from Hawai’i who was boat sitting for a family member.  Colin and Kea hit it off and spent many hours “burfing” . . . surfing on a boogie board.  While the younger kids were pulled behind a dinghy, Justine and the ladies paddled out in hopes of catching sight of a passing whale.


looking for humpbacks on the SUPs ~ are we crazy, or what!










intentional bump


at least she went down too!








During our remaining days in Huahine, we were at a major indecision.  We knew we needed to leave French Polynesia soon.  However, it was hurricane season north of the equator.  We were supposed to be headed for Hawai’i, but it was too soon.  We took screen shots of the major hurricanes moving across the North Pacific and took them to the Gendarme’s office, begging for an extension.  After many tries, we had to give up.  Pitcairn was our only other choice, but that was in the opposite direction and would mean a lot of sailing for a short time.  We weren’t sure exactly what we were going to do.  In the meantime, we had school books being delivered to Raiatea, and it was time to make the short hop across the channel.


a rainbow in the anchorage at Fare ~ actually IN the anchorage!













is there gold in the anchorage?


local fishing boat returning











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technical difficulty

For some reason, the previous blog post, Huahine ~ the Hōkūleʻa, is having technical difficulty.  Comments and Twitter links aren’t working properly.  Therefore, I’m using this post to help identify the problem.  In the meantime, it’s possible to leave comments or tweet from this post.  Sorry for the inconvenience!


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huahine ~ the Hōkūleʻa

July 16 – 17, 2014

We had not planned to stay in Fare for the first 14 days that we did, but in addition to all of the Heiva festivities, we learned that the Hōkūle’a, a Polynesian voyaging canoe whose crew only navigates by the stars and the waves, was expected to arrive soon.  The leg sailed from Hawai’i to French Polynesia was the beginning of her worldwide voyage, as well as her first voyage since 1999 when she had sailed to Rapa Nui (Easter Island). The people of Huahine were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Hōkūleʻa, along with her sister ship, Hikianalia, and they were ready to celebrate the momentous occasion.

arrival of

Faafaite’s masts were the first to appear on the horizon

On Wednesday, July 16th, voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia, and Faafaite graced Huahini with their presence.  We may have been the first to notice the set of double masts on the horizon.  We peered through our binoculars and radioed s/v Liward for verification.  At the same time, a local who had been pulling a bunch of kids on boogie boards behind his motor boat noticed our commotion.  He stopped to ask us if it was the Hōkūleʻa we saw.  When we told him we thought it was the Hōkūleʻa, all the kids cheered.  Immediately, the little motor boat zoomed throughout the anchorage with the children voices shouting, “The Hōkūleʻa’s coming!!  The Hōkūleʻa’s coming!!”  The moment touched our hearts.

conch horn blowing

the sound of a conch horn announcing the arrival of the Hokule’a

Within minutes, people began to collect on the beach and docks.  A conch horn began blowing from the shore.  The news of the Hōkūleʻa’s arrival spread like wild fire.  We contributed to the announcement with the sound of our own conch horn.  Some people took to the water to greet the arriving canoes.

Faafaite, a voyaging canoe of French Polynesia, was the first canoe to arrive.  As she got closer, we realized that it was not the Hōkūleʻa, but the air was still filled with excitement.





getting ready to greet the Hokulea

getting ready to greet the Faafaite


s/v Liward dinghy following Faafaite


Hokule’a’s approach to Huahine








The dark red canvas sails of the Hōkūleʻa were a sight to behold on the horizon.  For every conch horn that sounded from the shore or a boat, the Hōkūleʻa answered each song with her own conch horn filling the air.  Again, our hearts were touched, and we felt so extremely lucky to be a part of something so sacred to the Polynesian community.

The Hōkūleʻa has no engine, so they approached slowly in the slight breeze.  As they neared the reef entrance at Fare, a boat went out to tow them the remaining distance.  At the same time, more and more people were finding their way out to greet the Hōkūleʻa and her crew.  They were using whatever means necessary to get themselves to the beloved canoe.  There were small boats, outrigger va’as, kayaks, dinghies, surfboards, and even swimmers.


everyone rushing to greet Hokule’a


a mom & child making welcoming splashes


crew of the Hokule’a waving and blowing a conch horn


Hokule’a being followed by va’as as she makes her way past Fare


Hikianalia arriving in Fare & greeted by the chief
























The Hikianalia, sister ship to the Hōkūleʻa, was the next and final canoe to arrive.  Hikianalia has photovoltaic-driven electric motors, as well as modern navigational, communications, and scientific equipment.  She sails along side the Hōkūleʻa as they gather ocean research data and transmit their experiences to the rest of the world.  However, the Hikianalia has her own sail plan during the worldwide voyage, and will only be sailing with the Hōkūleʻa during the first and last legs of the journey.




chief in ceremonial attire


the chief leading the canoes into port


the Hikianalia being welcomed to Huahine


Hikianalia (left), Hokule’a (right), and Faafaite (behind)


















Once all three voyaging canoes had entered the lagoon, they continued to Bourayne Bay where the welcoming ceremony and celebrations would occur.  Ceremonies would begin about 0800 the following morning, and we planned to be there.

At 0730, we hauled anchor and motored to Bourayne Bay.  However, by the time we arrived and found a good spot to drop the hook, we were late for the opening ceremony.  Being late didn’t matter though, as we were still able to have an incredible, up-close and personal experience with these special canoes and their crew.


the Polynesian sailing canoes docked in Bourayne Bay, Huahine


spectators around the canoe hut where the crews have gathered


the crews gathered in the canoe hut










décor hanging inside the canoe hut


probably a village kite from Heiva


music & song to celebrate the Polynesian voyaging canoes and their journey


























After viewing the tail-end of the ceremony, we returned to the dock to have a closer look at the canoes.  Every crew member we spoke with was extremely friendly and eager to share their experiences.  One even offered us the use of his home, laundry, and shower for when we reached Hawai’i.  And then, to our surprise, we were invited aboard for a tour of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia.  We felt extremely honored.


storage rack on the side of the Hokule’a














Ki’i Wahine’s eyes represent seeing and foresight


Ki’i Kale represents knowledge














The Hōkūleʻa’s ki’i “embody the spirit of Hawai’i and watch over the canoe while it voyages.”  The male and female ki’i work together to guide the canoe.


Hokule’a’s rudder lifted from the water


seeing how the Hokule’a tiller feels


traditional swim wear hung out to dry on the Hikianalia!


looking from deck down into a bunk room


only a flap of canvas to keep the crew dry!


in remembrance of Eddie and his great sacrifice for the Hokule’a and her crew





























Eddie Aikau was a renowned big wave surfer and the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay (Oahu, Hawai’i).  In 1978, he joined the crew of the Hōkūleʻa.  Sadly, at the start of the voyage, and just 12 miles south of Molokai, the Hōkūleʻa was overturned in nasty seas.  Eddie attempted to paddle his surfboard to shore for help, but he was never seen again.  Today, Eddie’s legend lives on, and throughout Hawai’i, the local saying “Eddie would go” helps many to face the impossible and to live with Aloha.



kauri cleat on Hikianalia from Waitangi, Aeotearoa (NZ)


engraved bird on the kauri wood cleat


symbols carved in wood on the Hokule’a


on Hikianalia ~ lava rock wrapped in ti leaves ~ a symbol for good luck


getting fishing tips from Hikianalia crew


checking out the Hikianalia crew quarters




























Words cannot express how truly incredible this experience was to us.  We were the only cruising boat in the anchorage at Bourayne Bay.  Seeing the Hōkūleʻa and her crew in such a personal setting, as well as the Hikianalia and Faafaite, couldn’t have been more special.  Little did we know at this point in time, the Hōkūleʻa and the Hikianalia would continue to touch our lives in many ways as we continued our journey through Polynesia and the Pacific Ocean.


anchored in Bourayne Bay ~ quite literally the only cruising boat to be at this special event

street art in Honolulu ~ POW! WOW! x Hokule’a of Papa Mau Piailug, Master navigator













“In order to be a Navigator, you have to be fierce” ~ Mau Piailug

Watch “The Talk of the Sea Video” and learn more about the Hokule’a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

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