Posts Tagged ‘Omoka’

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

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Crossing

Friday, December 12th, 2014

My first concern was getting the anchor up. We’d heard the chain dragging across the coral on the bottom and when the winds were from the SE I knew it was lodged under a head because the chain was coming up short. Adding a good bit of snubber to the system stopped the jerking / snapping of the chain. Snapping chain is a good way to break it as the chain is not designed for shock loads.  We started about 10 ish and not long after the anchor came aboard.

There were a couple of tense moments where it appeared “stuck” in a crevice or under a rock. But patience seemed to work and after the boat moved around a bit the chain popped out of it’s spot and I continued to retrieve the anchor. I was concerned because we had anchored in about 45′ of water and once I could dive; albeit briefly, to that depth, here the water clarity and the depth made the retrieval by snorkeling a chance proposition.

Free of the bottom we slowly motored away from our home of the last couple of weeks; Omoka, and began the task of eye balling the lagoon for bommies. There are no charts showing most of the lagoon depths and the bommies will at times rise from 200′ of water to within 3′ of the surface. Mostly the depths are between 50 and 100 feet but any bommies will stop us should we be distracted enough to run into one.  W/’s at the helm and I’m on the foredeck watching the water for signs. In good light and with a light breeze they are easy to see. For me; it is mostly the light that is important. We first try to use the “ships channel” that the US charted when they had a presence on this atoll back in WW II but all in all it seemed easier to weave in and out of the problematic areas.  Eventually we cleared the worst of the shallow spots and finally set a course due E to Te Tau Tua. Here I just had to keep a sharp eye out and for the most part we didn’t veer more than 10 degrees off course to avoid any obstructions.  Then back towards the other side we headed.  An hour later we came upon the shore of Te Tau Tua and I looked for a place on the sand shelf.

Te Tau Tua in the am

Te Tau Tua in the am

The depth here is about 15-20 feet and 95% sand bottom; clearly visible. With the winds being generally out of the East I found a place that I hoped would not swing us against any coral heads and was close enough to the village to obtain wi-fi.

Anchored we had lunch and then began to prep the boat for our stay here.  This afternoon we planned on walking the village and maybe meeting a few people.  We remember Rose from the Kwai and we met Sam along the highway in Omoka while returning from our shopping trip to the lone grocery. We hoped to run into them and get a sense of the village on this side. We found much more than we had hoped.

Initially we didn’t see Rose nor Sam. And foolish me I never asked where they lived although I could easily have asked anyone in the village. But I’m male and asking for directions is just not in my DNA. So we walked. North, then South. We found the  power plant, the Telecom (which is unmanned), and the school. We crossed the main road and walked a wee bit farther S till the unoccupied home with a new sea wall and then began to head back to the boat.  There we ran across Solaman and his family.

They asked us to sit and join them so reluctantly we did. We’re just not use to how friendly people are outside of the US.  Walk down any street in the US as a visitor and maybe 1 out of 100 people will ask you to stop and sit a spell just to chat. Here it seems the vast majority will ask you to sit a spell. I said reluctantly because our US culture seems to doubt the intentions of others and we’ve been ingrained in that thinking process. We’re trying to change our attitudes from fear of others to acceptance.  So we sit a spell.

Solaman asks if we got our diesel (everyone here knows what everyone else is doing), and we said yep, we’re now full up and ready for anything.  We talked about cooking, the Kwai, the one store that Te Tau Tua has and laundry.  He had heard that I do welding; god knows from where, but I told him I have welded plastic but never Al. He had a boat that had a bunch of pin holes. I told him we had worked for the school system and he invited us to the last day of school that they had before their year end vacation. It was called Parents Day but he said we would be more than welcome. Wanting to experience other cultures  the best way is to participate in them so we said we would be there. And Parents Day was much more than we expected.

I’m finding my expectations are usually no where near correct. While just talking Soloman indicated if we have any laundry that W/ could just bring it in and do it. He understands most cursing boats do not have a laundry machine. At least boats as small as ours!  On our boat I’m the laundry machine here and I do a small load 5 days a week just to keep up. Can one imagine anyone in the US offering to let a traveler use their laundry machine upon meeting them for 10 minutes?

We left with something new on our to do list and a puzzled look on our faces. People in Penhryn hold few pre conceived notions about others. They take people as they are and are welcoming to whom they see. Carpe Diem is a great cliche’ in the western world but here it is through living.  Seize the day, Seize the moment, Seize the opportunity, the opportunity to share in others lives.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

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