Posts Tagged ‘Penrhyn’

Ouch!

Friday, May 1st, 2015

We had ordered heaps of stuff while in Penrhyn. As out of the way as the atoll is they have good; relative to most of the pacific islands, internet.  So the last 6 weeks there we had ordered spares as well as some new things we needed, had them sent to one of our shore support team members and she consolidated them to send on to American Samoa when we left.

USPS Priority Only

USPS Priority Only

About a week before we left we asked her to go ahead and send them suggesting the USPS Flat Rate boxes and Priority Mail.  She wasn’t able to send with the Flat Rate boxes but luckily  she sent with priority mail  (we hear horror stories of not sending supplies Priority Mail) and we didn’t figure that would be too problematic-or costly. It wasn’t problematic because she had packed well but turned out to be more expensive.

Any future cruisers visiting AS be sure to have anyone in the states shipping you supplies to use the FLAT RATE boxes.  I include  pictures of two almost identical sized packages. The one is

Priority vs Flat Rate Priority USPS

Priority vs Flat Rate Priority USPS

sent priority mail; insured and it’s cost is $81 where as the FLAT RATE is about $18 with the same amount of insurance.  Lesson Learned. If at all possible; ship in a USPS FLAT RATE box to American Samoa!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Sad Good-Bye, to Penrhyn

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

It is the end of Penrhyn as we know it.  Monday as I said Rose ferried us over to Omoka where we needed to see Papa Ru (the immigration officer) for our outbound clearance as well as pay the fees.

There is a $3 / day anchoring fee, and $65/ person exit fee and since we stayed over 30 days we also have a $120 / person fee for an extended stay clearance.  While those fees are higher than most other countries for us our costs here have been lower as there are no restaurants, no hardware stores and only a couple of grocery stores with limited items.

Thus, our stores on board are low, low, LOW!  We are down to 1/2 case of beer, ZERO Oreo’s, actually zero treats, a few cans of meat left, fewer still of vegetables, a little tea and little coffee (if we run out of coffee W/ will make my life miserable!). We are also getting very low on gas and diesel.

I almost bought some more diesel from one of the boats visiting but my intermediary; Rio, was in Rarotonga during that time and I didn’t know really how to go about it.  We started our extended stay here with 200 gallons and we are down to about 60.  I wanted to leave with one of the wing tanks 50 gallons full for the main engine and then a few gallons to keep the generator running on our passage.

Monday took most of the day. Traveling to Omoka from Tetautua is akin to traveling in to any big city from the burbs.  It was close to an hour across

Rose - Our Captain

Rose - Our Captain

the lagoon and an hour back, then doing the official dance, saying Goodbye to some of the people there we know and heading back. Oh, and don’t forget “IceCream”!

Lonnie and Bona (from the sv Good News) came with us as they had only cleared in at Omoka, spent a a few hours anchored there to check in and they wanted to see Omoka as a tourist.  While Papa Ru was having to receive some info from Rarotonga he loaned us his motor bike to check out the new power plant they were building and visit anywhere else we might wish.  Rose had a motor bike from some of her extended family there and loaned it to Lonnie and Bona so the 4 of us took off down the main highway with W/ and I as tour guides. We stopped to look at the progress they were making in the new solar power plant, then on to the International airport. There we chatted a bit and pointed out Manongi’s grocery where we were able to purchase propane, beer, good NZ ground beef, great NZ juice, and other sundry goods – whatever she had that W/ wanted.

Rhomanda, Never Give Up!

Rhomanda, Never Give Up!

We arrived back to find Rose and Rhomanda hanging out under a shade tree with Rhomanda working on opening a coconut by hand and mouth. No lack of creativity here!  While Rhomanda worked away at it I walked over to Ru’s and borrowed the tool that is used by all the South Pacific Islanders to husk coconuts. I felled a couple from the Palm and set about to de husk one immediately breaking through the nut. I forgot to work on the coconuts end. Rose kindly; maybe emphatically pushing me aside, took over and the couple of nuts that were left she had shucked in, oh! say … close to a minute making me; as usual, feel a bit useless.  Ru was still trying to get with Raro on our exit visa so we waited all the while I watched for the new store to open. I watched because I had heard they had ice cream!  A bit later after the store owners returned from delivering lunch to the workers at the power plant the store was opened whereupon W/ and I walked in to buy some ice cream for everyone.  While their flavors were limited; when you don’t get exactly what you wish with ice cream some ice cream is better than none so out I went with a cone of Orange Chocolate! 🙂  Sweet!

Somewhere noonish or so Ru returned and we paid our bill and thanked him immensely for assisting us in our long term

Papa Ru, the friendliest Immigration Officer in the WORLD!

Papa Ru, the friendliest Immigration Officer in the WORLD!

stay. I don’t think we could have found a better place to hang for the South Pacific Cyclone season. We then headed back to the 20′ or so Aluminum boat with a 15 hp Yamaha and slightly bent back prop blades to head back to Tetautua.

Our jobs now were to ready Elysium for the passage.  If we work hard it requires about 6 hours to pack and store stuff preparing the boat for offshore but we figured to do the job over a day or so, leaving Wednesday. To mildly complicate matters Kura asked us in for a final farewell dinner (Kai-Kai) Tuesday evening. We had planned on having the dinghy up and stored for passage; however, Lonnie volunteered to chauffeur us ashore so we could indeed enjoy a last feast with our friends in Tetautua and still ready the boat.

To store the dinghy for offshore we lift it up, flip it, deflate it, cover it and  slide it inside the boom gallows on top of the aft cabin. We built a cover for it and install that as well protecting the dinghy fabric from errant fish hooks or anything unimaginable damaging the Hypalon fabric.  After all, it is now our only car!  We then secure the dinghy wedged between the pushpit  supports and I added a pad eye on the aft cabin to secure the stern. The mainsheet clears the aft end of the dinghy by a couple of inches.

The rest of the time is checking things over. Oil in the engines, transmission fluid levels, packing items in lockers that will not see the light of day again till we reach our destination, W/ frantically (not quite the right word but close) begins preparing easy to reheat meals for offshore as well as some goodies for snacks (Brownies). I close off the forward seacocks, we move the Drifter-Reacher out to the forward head for easy launching and stowage, we get out the spare rigging bag for cotter pins (mostly), the spare bag for the self steering gear as there always seems to be a need there, We remove and stow the sail covers, attach halyards and tie off, stow a solar panel, stow and secure the outboards, make sure each locker is securely latched, move electrical connections so the navigation computer and iPad always have power. Then we look around again and make sure nothing can slide off the shelves / counters  and onto the floor, we prepare the lee cloths for our berths, we make up our sea berth preferring to hot berth it instead of having separate ones. In the worse case weather we do have two berths with lee cloths.  We harvest ice and make more running the generator longer than normal, make sure we have enough water in the tanks or make more as needed.   Once we pull the anchor we tie make sure both bow anchors are tied off too.

I remember one boat making a short trip longer than they needed because they didn’t tie their anchors off in the Marquesas. About a mile into their 5 nm voyage they found their boat slowing down next to nothing. Upon closer inspection the captain had discovered his anchor had bounced free and took all 300′ of chain with it now dangling directly below the boat.  He had quite a time in a rolling sea retrieving the anchor and all that chain back aboard.

Our Hosts

Our Hosts

So …we are ready, Lonnie picks us up and we visit Tetautua for the last time. About 1/3 of the village is there and we chat away as food is heaped on the table.  Food wise. people here spare no expense. There is a little bit of everything, most all natural with no food additives and all healthy.  As usual we sit down with the other guests; the family waits till the guests are all satisfied, and after we retire they begin to eat. I don’t think I will ever get used to being singled out and respected that much.

Go Slow
Sail far
Stay Long

Penrhyn – Bitter Sweet

Friday, April 10th, 2015

It is time to leave and we have ( I have ) mixed feelings. This has been our home for 5 months and the residents and families have been just wonderful! We have shared many experiences with them, eaten their food, had holidays together, helped with their electrical issues, worked with Rio on needs of the village, provided support with their power plant, taught their children at the school, dove for Pearls, repaired the swing for the wee ones, fixed whatever machines I could (ironically mostly sewing machines) We’ve been included in their celebrations, attended their church, shared laughter and some small frustrations of living on the edge of the world.

I guess one might say we had been adopted. Adoptions are quite common in Penrhyn as well as the entire South Pacific that we’ve visited.  From outward appearances we don’t see them as being as formalized as in our traditional Western Culture. As one child is seen to function better with one family soon that child is moving in to a new home and a “new” mother / father are caring for them. (The picture on the left is of

Emotional Sisters but not Biological Sisters

Emotional Sisters but not Biological Sisters

Rose and Rhomanda who affectionately refer to each other as sisters but biologically they are cousins.)  On Penrhyn as well as much of the South Pacific this can be confusing for us of European heritage that expect things to be “exact”.  As we drilled down into the Penrhyn culture we often heard of Uncle and Grandpa, brother, sister, son or daughter, when the biological connections were much different than the emotional ones.

Yet the sea calls us. Mayhaps I ought to say the weather pushes us.  We’ve made arrangements for the following cyclone season in Fiji where we will visit the US for a recharge with family and friends and spend the following season in Fiji. It is early in the sailing season for the South Pacific and this may be close to the first time that we will have some breathing room and will not be rushing trying to stay ahead of potentially inclement weather. From Fiji we are not yet sure.

So Monday Rose will ferry Wendy and I to Omoka for checking out. Currently the Immigration officer; Papa Ru, is housed in Omoka, and we need to complete the paper work through him.  There are plans underway to have the Police (yes there are 2 sometimes 3 police in Penrhyn- why we don’t really know 🙂 ) do the paper work. In the future, boats visiting will be able to complete their paperwork on the Tetautua side. We want to prep the boat or the passage on the Tetautua side as the anchorage is sooo much calmer and the anchor I will not fear being stuck in the coral as I would at Omoka.

So the plans are Monday, paperwork – pay our fees, Wednesday head out the NW pass and hopefully in about a week we’ll be in Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Home Again

Monday, April 6th, 2015

We arrived back to Tetautua and setup Elysium for comfortable living while anchored off the village. Our awnings were up!  I don’t understand how any cruiser can live without awnings.

Elysium and Her Awnings

Elysium and Her Awnings

When we have the awnings set the boat is so… much cooler. These are not awnings made of sail material. Sail material lets a lot of the UV through and with the UV comes heat. Our awnings are made of Regatta fabric and have a vynal coating making them water proof as well as having an SPF of 100 or more. 🙂  Of course in a good tropical rain water will drip through some seams. When I have checked with an infrared thermometer on the deck under the awnings there is a 20º F difference between the sun and shade areas. That heat has to go somewhere and a good part of it ends up on the boat deck radiating day and night making the cabin below hot like a sauna.

Once we were all set up we went ashore and visited our friends. I walked over to the school and checked in with the teacher; Ms. Williams, for my schedule in the following weeks. I had one, maybe two more presentations on basic

Ms. Williams and Me

Ms. Williams and Me

science and then she wanted some work on Geography and Mapping skills.  For mapping we started with where Elysium left Florida, and traveled to the Bahamas, then offshore to the Virgin Islands. The kids always wanted to know where we had been.  After that we plotted dots down the Windwards and Leewards to Trinidad and across to Panama. All the while they were trying to plot on a world map our positions. Next onto  the Panama Canal, the Galapagos to the Marquesas, down to Tahiti, up to Bora Bora and finally Penrhyn. Some students were surprised Penrhyn wasn’t even a dot on the world map.

The Senior Class

The Senior Class

The following day; near the end of the term we worked with a map of the Cook Islands that I had in one of our cruising guides. Students listed  the Lat / Long of each of the 15 islands and to finish they were working out some distances between the islands. Here Ms. Williams reminded me that on Thursday; the last day of the term, the students were  going to honor W/ and I for my work with the students.  Oh-Oh!  I’m not one for attention but what could I do; I graciously accepted and just shy of noon on Thursday W/ and walked to school.

They were having Kai-Kai (a buffet provided by the parents) and then gifts for us provided by the students and their families as well as a before feast presentation and an after feast presentation. Plenty embarrassing!

W/ and I sat up front while each student brought up necklaces, wrist bands, and fans all made from local material. I swear I sat lower and lower  in my chair just having 100’s of shells draped around my neck.  After the

presentations, a couple of songs including one in English “We are Family”, we ate. And as is tradition in much of the Pacific islands we were invited first. Fortunately  once we had chosen our gastrointestinal delights Ms. Williams had the children begin so we didn’t have to eat with 30 hungry faces staring at us.

After lunch we had another show, Rhomanda and Makeroa put on a Cook Island dance then the students sang

Primary Kids Dancing & Singing

Primary Kids Dancing & Singing

and danced to another couple of songs sung in the mother tongue (Mauri or often referred to as Penrhyn).  We left thoroughly entertained and quite tired from all the attention. We are not used to being the center of anyone’s attention. If you want to call us voyager

Wendy and Me; Elysium in Background

Wendy and Me; Elysium in Background

wall flowers that’s fine.  We are. Back at Kura’s,  Kura snapped a picture of us wearing all our stuff and then we crawled to the dinghy for our return and a good rest on Elysium.

Three days later after Easter Sunday church we had another Kai – Kai. This time the entire village was there and while we were not the center of attention as visitors we were still invited to be first. I doubt I’ll ever get use to the attention and respect given guests here.  Knowing that for us being guests in their country we need to respect their customs we had to swallow our pride and accept the accolade.  From Roast Pigs to every fish dish one can imagine, clams sautéed in Coconut, plenty of rice, Breadfruit, Chocolate cake and Brownies (provided by the two visiting yachts here) we again ate till we were near the Hindenburg status, ready to explode.

Part o the Cleanup Crew

Part o the Cleanup Crew

The villagers have these events choreographed to the max.  No sooner had everyone eaten than they began to clean up. Volunteers started collecting the plates and glasses, others washed and rinsed, someone else dried and then there were those sweeping the area and returning  tables and chairs to their stored places.  Two hours after we started one couldn’t tell there had a been a feast there and 60 people returned to their homes

Two Happy well Fed Kai-Kai 'ers

Two Happy well Fed Kai-Kai 'ers

(and 4 to their boats) completely satiated.

These are the days. And there are not many left. We’re looking to leave this month and while Penrhyn will remain in our hearts Elysium will be looking West to other anchorages.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Up North

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

One of the ongoing needs of Elysium is that she needs attention every day;  not in maintenance but in the day to day operation. The heart of our comfort is our generator. That keeps the ice flowing and the beer cool, as well as other food stuff. 🙂  And to those ends we run it twice / day which entails that one of us is always available in the am or pm to start her up and shut down the generator.

Rio and Kura had asked us to come on a trip to a Motu in the North of the Penhryn atoll. Since there was not really a good anchorage for Elysium there we had to forgo part of that experience. However he indicated that we ought to then visit by dinghy the following day.
That we did.

It was a long dinghy ride. We didn’t exactly know where the out-of-operation pearl farm was but Rio said to just run along the N. Motu and we’ll run into it.  With a light breeze out of the ENE we did exactly that. We filled the dinghy tank with fuel and with the last of our fuel we filled a small reserve tank I like to carry when we travel any distance with the dinghy. We were not going to be in the ocean out of sight of land so the worst that could befall us was running out of fuel and spending more time on a motu than we wished. Fortunately the Yamaha 15 is quite miserly when it comes to fuel.

As we tooled along the motu we kept an eye out for another anchorage should more inclement weather descend upon us.  And true to his word Rio was definitely right. Where we were on the NE tip was the absolute best spot. Best in anchoring in sand opposed to coral and best for protection.  We were getting a wee bit concerned tooling along the N coast as we kept on getting closer and closer to Omoka (which is on the far side of the atoll).

We passed one spot there were a couple of buildings and then another, neither of them occupied by Taika and crew.  When Rio and Kura had first talked of going it started out as immediate family. But as their kids told their friends it soon turned into the extended family. Most people in Tetautua are related, sometimes loosely but with the extended family there ended up about 20 kids and 3.5 adults. Rose ( a 20 year old) doesn’t yet think of herself as an adult nor is she a kid. Most often she’s the Queen of the kids!

They all left on Friday and had planned on hunting the illusive Coconut crab that evening. Saturday when we

Kids coolin off at the closed Pearl Farm

Kids coolin off at the closed Pearl Farm

would arrive they ought to have a good pile. We left as soon as the refrigeration was cooled down and the boat secured.  About an hour later; maybe more maybe less, we arrived at the ex-Pearl farm. The kids were just getting warmed up.

From 4 on up to 20 the kids were already chowing down Coconut Crab and working their way into

Picking Coconut Crabs

Picking Coconut Crabs

the water.  Rio was cleaning crab and I joined him. They had a mallet provided by another cruiser so I beat on the exo skeleton and then picked out the meat.  Coconuts had already been husked and people were milling around, settling down into a relaxing day.

After some Crab dish, rice and coconut juice we too settled in for a day off; hanging out – exploring the old farm site, maybe swimming and some pictures. What a place for a new eco Lodge this would make. But as we talk to Rio,  Kura, and Samoa I doubt that will happen. It seems odd to me that some of the individuals in Penrhyn are not in favor of industry. I can not exactly say why, maybe some fear the lure of money, others just love the simple life but even here money is needed. When the ships come from Raro or Hawaii people buy things they just can’t get here. There was some complaining and moaning of the Pearl farm being placed here and it was started by a Penrhyn person. There are only 2 flights / week into Penrhyn and often those don’t occur. Ships coming to the place are about once / month and passage is usually on the deck under a tent. Unless the Cook Islands can establish regular service to Penhryn I doubt there will be any hospitality industry or any other off shoots in the near future. They have heaps of Coconut trees but even if they wanted to do much with creating the dried coconut like in the Marqueses there is no reliable way to get the product to market. Same with the Nonie plant which the people in Tetautua consider a weed. But … for all the history lessons we had we had a good day.

Penrhyn, North Shore

Penrhyn, North Shore

We walked to the North side of the motu and watched the surf roll in. We tried to count all the birds hovering in the currents of the wind; stopped at close to 1 million  🙂  , and then meandered back to …. camp. There I followed Rose out to the old oyster sorting shack over the water. The kids had already claimed it as their

A real Mermaid!

A real Mermaid!

diving platform for adventure into the crystal clear emerald torquoise waters of the lagoon. They are much more adventurous than I.  They were leaping into the deeper water area but there was some metal structure left over from the oyster farm days that they always needed to miss. And when Rose figured out a way to ascend to the roof and jump from there into the water the rest of the kids followed.  The energizer bunny has

Queen Rose

Queen Rose

nothing on the kids of Penhryn.

From there I wandered back to W/ and Kura; Kura is always doing something and was making a Tiara out of the natural flowers and plants here, and I layed down to rest. Rio has taught me that. Never miss an opportunity to snooze. He can take a break in any place and at anytime.  So I laid about for a good hour while W/ and Kura chatted away about life.  Near on an hour before they were to return W/ and set about to head back to Elysium.

They had the big Aluminium community boat with a 70 hp engine we just had the 9′ dinghy with our little 15. And as I’m not real fond of heading any distances with a single engine and no sail and I wasn’t sure how our fuel consumption would hold out.  I figured to leave early and take the track back they were planning on. It should be the lowest possible seas and should something happen to our motor or fuel on the way back we had AAA right behind us.

Fortunately, we made it back. A little shaken up as the seas were not that favorable; the winds had clocked to a more easterly direction and that didn’t offer us much of a lee shore on the ride back. I did my best to steer between the swells and ride up and over as many as possible; however that was not the majority and both W/ and I had a good massage on our bums!  Not a massage that either of us wished to repeat.  Once on the boat and cleaned up we see Rio and all the kids come back in the big boat. All successfully returned from an outing to the N motu, and I’m sure every parent from Tetautua very much relieved that their children have not only returned unharmed but EXHAUSTED. We too are tired and once we’ve showered up and had our evening sundowners, we are looking forward to a good night counting sheep.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long