Thursday, July 31, 2008

Penrhyn to Manihiki

After a tearful goodbye Tuesday night, we are now over half way to the next short stop.

Trinda and I went hunting for varo with Alex's kids. We got 4, a couple small and a couple larger. I didn't try to actually catch one, but watched closely as Ed did. I think I could do it now if I needed to. It is somewhat dangerous as the claws, remember it is called a mantis shrimp after the way its claws are shaped, are very sharp and are slightly barbed and don't come out without tearing the flesh. You hold a fish over its hole and when he claws the fish you catch [his claws with your fingers
and pull him out of the hole. Easier said than done.

We will sure miss Alex, Christine and their kids! They took us in as part of the family, fed us and entertained us.

Almost there 7:30PM. Should see it on radar by midnight and be able to anchor at sunup. I couldn't get the radio to connect earlier.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Net Fishing and Church

Trinda decided to stay with Christine and the younger kids while the rest of us went fishing. The water wasn't right in the favorite place, tide wrong and too much current, so we went further. The two older boys put the net out along the edge of the inside reef, then we splashed along the reff to scare the fish into it. It is a kin of gill net. We got a few, mostly parrot fish. As we were going along in the boat, they could see the school of fish and decide where to put the net! I couldn't see squat!

I tried to 'rush' up to help get the fish out of the net and tripped. I could see this big patch of coral, like a miniature pine tree, in knee deep water, rushing up to fillet me. I couldn't think of any way to miss it, so I finally just gritted my teeth and put out a hand to try to slow down. It did quite a number on my hand. 10 or 15 little cuts that bled good. I spent the rest of the day not using my hand much. When we got back, they boiled some water and made me plunge my hand into it. I;m a
whimp, It was really hot! It is supposed to kill the coral and clean the wounds. It did seem to work, as it is getting better without getting infected, mostly anyway.

After putting out the net twice more, and get too few fish, we started gathering supplies from the motu (island). They needed more of the young coconut palm fronds to weave the hats and stuff. Also the dry coconuts that are just beginning to sprout. The inside is filled with a pithy white stuff destined to become the tree. Baked in the shell, it is sweet like a banana, shreaded it can go in pancakes or a drink, and natural it is like coconut bread. While we were looking for the coconut sprouts, they
started finding coconut crabs. We found 5 or 6.

Then we took the scenic route back to the village. There is another pass into the lagoon just north of the main pass. It is not really suitable for boats due to the current and wave action on the outside, but the scenery is beautiful. We stopped near there to swim a while. There were some sharks, so I tried to get some underwater photos of Ed and the sharks, but the water had a little too much sediment for pictures.

Then on back to take care of the bounty. Trinda and Christine had made cookies and candy while we were out. The oatmeal chocolate no-bake cookies and chocolate coconut balls. But there was no chocolate to dip the coconut balls into. They all disappeared as soon as the kids saw them anyway.

We had the coconut crab sautéed with onions and garlic. It was fantastic.

Sunday morning we dressed for church and went in about 9:00. Trinda in her new green and white traditional hat and the dress suit that Alex's Auntie gave her from the other village. I only had a white shirt and faded blue jeans, but it was OK. They go to the Catholic Church. Lots of folks are visiting Rarotonga so there were just Alex's family and his brother and us. But that made 18. The singing was beautiful.

We went back to his house for dinner, all cooked in an underground oven over night. The sprouted coconuts were just husked and put directly in the oven. Several chickens were killed, plucked and put in with soy sauce. Breadfruit, rice, fish, bananas and more. Some of the cooked sprouted coconut was mashed and juiced to make a drink. It was sweet and coconuty. It was quite a feast. We really have enjoyed eating here.

We went back to the boat and rested the afternoon away. Today we are supposed to have them all out to see the boat. They wanted to go for a sail, but I don't think we will. I also need to work some more on Alex's VHF radio antenna. He can hear but no one can hear him.

We may leave for Manihiki tomorrow or Wed. It will be hard to leave.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back to Omoka, Penrhyn

After a wonderful week at Tautua Village we came back to the first village here at Penrhyn for Trinda's birthday. Alex and Christine made a dinner party for Trinda. Varo (mantis shrimp), crayfish (spiny lobster), raw fish, bar-b-que fish, baked fish, rice, pan bread (coconut, flour, sugar like pancakes), chocolate cake and some kind of pudding. Each of the older kids made their favorite dish. Not to mention a bottle of coconut rum and a little Jim Beam for us. They made us matching tropical shirts
and they made Trinda a traditional hat, green and white straw with 3 big flowers. Beautiful! They sang a couple of happy Birthday songs and a gospel song, "You're Special in the Eyes of Jesus". With 13 kids it sounded like a quior.

Before we left Tautua, they gave us (mostly Trinda's birthday) lays, a hat band with 3 of the woven flowers, a fan, necklace, bottle of wine and more. Fresh bok choy and a chunk of tuna.

We feel so special here, like we are part of this great extended family. Not every yacht that comes to Penrhyn gets this special treatment.

We are going net fishing this morning with Alex and his kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

(no subject)

I did go lobster hunting. The tide was wrong. We walked about a mile in the rocky surf, in the dark, tripping over coral for about 2 hours. "Excellent exercise", they said! My legs are sore and my ankles are scratched up and I hurt all over. I missed one, but they caught it OK. We only saw 4 or 5. They speared some fish and found a few crabs. Not dongenes, but nice sized! The full moon came up about the time my flash light went flat. The walk back to the boat wasn't too bad.

This morning we went back to Banapa's house, had breakfast then off to church. The singing was nice. I recorded the whole hour of service and will send it or post it when I can. It was almost all in Marui, the Cook Islands native tongue. Just the welcome to "Our English speaking Friends" in English.

There was no lightening, Trinda made it in and out OK!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Penrhyn - Te Tautua

We moved across to the other village today.
They talked Trinda into attending church with them tomorrow. They even gave her a beautiful dress to wear and are loaning her a hat! We'll see ...

I am going lobster hunting tonight on the reef with a flashlight.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The Kwai supply ship came and went. They left this afternoon about 6. We managed to not buy much from them this time, however the islanders sure did! Lots of stuff was delivered. No fresh veggies though, just basics and electronics. Diesel, DVD players, CD players and gameBoys, pots and pans and silverware. I don't know why the silverware is so popular since they never put it out when they serve us dinner.

I went to the presentation where the Queen's Rep pinned the medal on Christine's father. Trinda wanted to come but didn't make it. We went to Alex's house to go with them, but we were not dressed approprately. It was in the Prodistant church so no sleevless blouses or pants for women and long paants for men. On the way back to the boat to change, Trinda got hit with diarryha and had to stay home.

I got back to the church a few minutes late. The constables and his body guard had the street blocked off and I had to wait while the Queen's Rep entered the church. Then they locked the door until after the first song. Then they let us stragglers in. They said, "Go on in, face Him and bow. Then take a seat.

It was all in Mauri, the native tongue of the Cook Islands, so I didn't understand much. Until they read the letter from the Queen. It was in English. Seems Christine's father has been employed by the government for over 40 years!

Then we went across the street to the activity center and had supper. there were over 40 dishes. I did my best to sample them all as you would guess, but by the time I got back for the second pass, many of them were empty. I did try pork, curried scallops, several fish, sweet & sour bread fruit, arrowroot (tapioca), rice, taro, and several stews and pasta dishes. ALL with out benefit of silverware or serving spoons. Just you try hot stew with just your fingers! Aah well, when in Rome ...
There was a finger bowl and community towel afterwards.

The captain and crew from the Kwai came also, but they were too late even for the food. There was none left 30 minutes after the start! Christine and Alex invited them and me back to their house for drinks and supper for those who missed out. They got the good deal, lobster, more scallops (better tasting), fresh bread, etc. I had to settle for just some scotch, as I had bragged about eating my dinner and having to have Trinda's share too since she was sick. We all had a little too much scotch. Alex's
daughters danced for the crew from the Kwai and they played guitars and ukulele and every body sang (except me, I don't know any songs).

Alex wanted to buy some of my fish hooks, so I set the price at 2 lobsters and 2 varo (mantis shrimp). He thought I was kidding, just some food for the hooks? I said sure, I really wanted to taste the varo. So, tonight they had us in for the varo. It is like a very large prawn or shrimp, but has legs in front that remind you of a preying mantis. the edible part of the tail was maybe 8 inches long an 1 to 2 inches wide. the head is only about 2 inches, so it looks all tail. It was sweeter than shrimp,
not as rich as lobster, but better than crab even, Trinda said. Usually they feed us lots of choices, like the parties, but tonight it was just the varo, fresh buttered bread, rice, tea and coconut cream. The varo was sautéed/steamed in garlic butter. I was the best meal we've had in a long time.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back on the air

I found a cable/adapter. I have e-mail again! I had a USB/serial adapter on the GPS cable that I had forgotten about.

We arrived Penrhyn OK, about 7 AM. Got here on Sunday morning. We thought we might have a problem, but they said "No problem! Come on in and anchor in the lagoon about 3 PM." We did and they waited to come out and check us in Monday morning. We got water made and some laundry done waiting for them. And plenty of rest. Most places want to check us in before we get to rest from the trip. So it was nice for a change.

They all seem glad to see us. Trinda brought stuff for Alex and Christine and their daughter, the island baker.

The Kwai came yesterday too and there is one other boat. We are only the 3rd and fourth boats this season. They wonder where all the boats are.

The Queen's Representative is here today to give an award from the Queen of England to Christine's father. There has been lots of kids dancing and music and kaikais (feast in the maneaba). Having fun in the good weather.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Penrhyn Arrival

We arrived at Penrhyn Island, Northern Cooks about 8:00AM today, Sunday July 6. All is well.

I think that's right at 6 days. All this International Date Line crossing confuses me. Oh well, should be OK for a few months, till we head back up to Tarawa.

Alex and Christine remembered us. They called on the radio just as we anchored. They said it would be fine to come on inside the lagoon and anchor, even though it is Sunday. Only leaving on Sunday is bad.

We are glad to be anchored again. It is a little rocky in here, with a 20 knot wind and 5 miles of fetch. We made water to fill both tanks full. We still had over 50 gallons in the second tank. We seem to unconsciously go on rationing as soon as the first tank runs out.

Our initial plan is to stay about a week. We saw another sail boat arrive outside just as we were dodging coral heads on our way in. They haven't answered the radio yet and we can't see them from inside, but I suppose they are still out there somewhere.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Day 5 and 6

90 miles to go.
The wind came up and the sea got a little bouncy, too bouncy to sit up front and type a letter. We did make good time though, 148 mile day yesterday. That's close to our record, just over 6 knots for a 24 hour average. We've slowed a bit this afternoon though. We should be there some time in the morning.

Just great! They got mad at us for leaving on a "Sunday" and here we show up again on Sunday! Oh well, they'll get over it. Maybe this way we can just anchor outside for the day and catch up on some rest and chores.

We are half out of water, and I think maybe the reason the water maker broke is that it sucked too much air from making water under sail in a rough sea,on this same tack from Hawaii. So I decided not to make any water till we get there or go on the other tack so the intake is on the downhill side.

Still not fishing. I don't know why, we just aren't.

I made beef and broccoli stir-fry last night. As usual I forgot to start the rice till it was almost too late, then Trinda had said she cut up all the stuff but the onion. I looked in the fridge and saw a baggie of broccoli and thought that was all. I missed the stems so it was a 'light' meal. It was good anyway.. We had some fresh ginger for it so that helped.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day 3 and 4

Still nothing exciting, thank goodness. The wind got light and too far SE so we motor sailed about 6 hours upwind last night got get back some easting. Now the wind is back to the East and we are doing fine. Still 365 miles from Penrhyn.

No fishing still. I'm cooking a couple of steaks in a pan on the stove for tonight and mashed potatoes plus left over pasts salad.

Reading lots of books. We are watching Heros season 2 on the portable DVD player during the night watches. I couldn't believe we forgot about them till now, but it is nice to have something new.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Xmas to Penrhyn - day 2

Not much exciting.
The wind is changing for the better. Yesterday it was almost on the nose. We were 27 miles off course by midnight. Today we are almost back and thinking of loosening the sails a little. We are sailing 'close hauled' or as near to into the wind as we can. The waves are low and not an unpleasant ride.

We are not fishing yet.

We are only a few miles from our 3rd equator crossing. We have no party planned. In fact, I just noticed it. Oh well, jaded sailors! Ha!