Wednesday, August 24, 2011


A lot of sailors dislike two-day passages.  Just when you're getting over the initial sleep deprivation and seasickness - wham, the passage is over, and you miss out on the dreaming-while-awake feeling that comes after a week of good sailing. 

But our two-day passage from Tahanea to Tahiti was wonderful.   The sea was so gentle - check out the flat water in this picture, and the nappies flapping in the languid breeze.

Elias spent hours pretending to fish from the back deck.  And there was enough breeze to keep Galactic moving between six and eight knots, which kept Alisa and me smiling.

It was calm enough for Alisa to hold a school session both mornings.

And I got to fiddle with the sails to keep us moving along.

And then, right on schedule, we made landfall.

Too easy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Atoll Livin'

How could you not love fairy terns?

And cutting coconuts from the tree?

And swimming with your kid?


This is the last post that I will allow myself about Tahanea Atoll.


Sailing inside the lagoon.


Tahanea is great for all the obvious reasons, but it's also great for Alisa and me because it's a place about which we have implicity agreed that we don't ever care if we find anything 'better'.  This is good enough for us, thanks.


Another strong allure of the Tuamotus is how completely different they are from anything that we natives of continents might associate with the word 'land'.  These islands are primarily places of sky and sea, with the land taking third place.

Every day of our two weeks there was busy.  There are any number of things to do in a place like this.  Time slowed down and for a while it felt like we'd never leave. 

Maybe we'll come back.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


In Tahanea, we started calling him 'Jacques'.  As in the famous guy on the Calypso.

For months we had been wondering if Elias would be up for snorkelling once we reached the Tuamotus.  

The answer was a resounding 'yes'.  I had figured he would need to practice breathing through a snorkel on land for a while, and that there would be some tears and protests of 'I can't do it' when it came time to try breathing with his face underwater.

None of it.  He just put on the gear and went to town.

Flame angelfish. 

Saddled butterflyfish.

Alisa and I did get that greatest of treats, a snorkel together, thanks to the babysitting services of our good mates on Pacific Bliss.  This is us heading out - don't we look like parents about to leave all thoughts of the kiddos behind for an hour or so?

Fourspot butterflyfish.

But a lot of our snorkelling in Tahanea was done at the pace of a four-year-old.  So we didn't get nearly the tour of tropical reef biodiversity that we got in our visit three years ago, we missed out on our endless snorkels of spotting new species and slowly getting a feel for the biology of the reef.

But I figure we've got a new buddy for that sort of outing well on the way.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A New Consideration

We just spent two weeks in Tahanea Atoll.  And a lot of our time there was structured around... kids' birthday parties.

Elias has reached the age where he really wants the company of his peers.  For a couple weeks before his birthday Alisa and I had been talking about how nice it would be if we were sharing an anchorage with some other kids when the big day rolled around.

And then, just like that, we met some very nice families with very nice kids aboard other boats in Tahanea.  Conveniently, one of these boats had a birthday of their own that we helped them to celebrate, and in turn we were able to muster a respectable mob for Elias' big day.

Taking a page from the book of Pacific Bliss, who had shared their birthday celebration with us, we had beach games on the big day.  There were spoon races...

And tug of war...

And a break for cake.

And then a good swim for all.

It worked out great.  But it was also hard not to notice that we were suddenly playing a new game - our plans weren't just built around the considerations of time and tide and what Alisa and I want - there is suddenly a very important third vote to count when we're deciding what to do.

And the fourth vote is coming in the not-too-distant future.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 5th

August 5th, 2011 - Tahanea, Tuamotus

August 5th, 2010 - Hobart, Tasmania

August 5th, 2009 - Mooloolaba, Queensland

August 5th, 2008 - between Suwarrow, Cook Islands and Vava'u, Tonga

August 5th, 2007 - Haines, Alaska

August 5th, 2006 - Kodiak, Alaska

Monday, August 8, 2011

Passage to Tahiti

It's just turned midnight, and I'm wide awake, courtesy of an accidental gybe while the windvane wasn't paying attention.

Not too big a deal, really. The preventer catches the main, so Galactic just ends up hove-to with a backwinded main. But you do have to drop the main to get back on course.

Alisa and the boys are asleep. The moon is setting dead in front of us.

We commented over and over yesterday at what a gentle sail we're having. The sea is flat, the winds light and behind us. Everything is comfortable, the hatches are open, and we're making acceptable speed. Elias spent a long time on the bow, alone, yesterday, looking for flying fish at first, then just relaxing with his feet on the lifelines. Five years old.

Even though Tahiti has been on everyone's "nothing special" list for the last forty years or so, there is something irreducibly romantic about sailing there.

And this passage is giving us two days to mull over the delights of our time in the Tuamotus, two weeks without the demands of work or travel, with trips ashore every day, and the delight of time spent in a part of the world completely different from any place we've ever called home.

Tahiti, and the Societies, will be a much busier time for us. We have a solid week of work to get the barky resupplied and organized, and another solid spell of science work for me on top of that.

But still, I imagine we'll manage to have some fun.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Two Weeks

This Saturday night finds us anchored just inside Pass Teavatapu, Tahanea Atoll. Tomorrow morning we catch slack water to exit the pass, and though for a while we planned sailing north to Fakarava Atoll, we will in fact turn west and steer for Tahiti. So we're leaving the Tuamotus behind, after two weeks spent in this one atoll, one of our very favorite places in the world.

Elias had a great fifth birthday yesterday, as we were able to round up four other kids to form a quorum for a proper party on a motu beach in the southeast corner of the atoll. There were a few adult-organized games, and lots of time for the kids to just mess around on their own, and pizza and quiche for lunch, and a cake, although the candles could not be successfully lit in the tradewinds, and then an extended bought of swimming in the turquoise water. Elias might not remember it for the rest of his life, but Alisa and I likely will.

We met some wonderful people here, and felt very lucky to see Tahanea again. But now the excitement of moving on is with us, and we are considering the long road that still stretches westward.

Pictures and more details once we return to internet land.