Saturday, June 8, 2019

A tour of Taha'a: Tres Terrifique!


Taha’a shares the lagoon with Raiatea, and is a very quiet island, with 7-8 villages across 33 square miles, and a estimated population a little over 5000.  Its nickname is The Vanilla Island, and Taha’a produces 80% of all Tahitian vanilla.  The only way to access the island is by ferry commuting boats that go back and forth across the lagoon, or private boats.  There is no airport.  Most of the economy is based on tourism, pearl farming, fishing and vanilla plantations.  

There are many tour companies listed online for Taha’a - this one stood out by its referral from another cruising catamaran, Panache, who had just finished the tour with a party of six.  We jumped at the opportunity to try it ourselves.  Would give the day a 10/10!

The following activities were included:  swimming with swing rays and black tipped sharks in open water, guided tour of Vanilla Farm with full process of growing and harvesting explained, snorkeling in the 1st of 2 Coral Gardens, buffet lunch in very pleasant setting, lagoon side at a local families home, guided tour of the Pearl Farm “Chan”, 2nd Coral Garden snorkeling through very shallow areas with coral and fish, Tour of the Taha’a Rum distillery and transportation back to Shindig.

The highlights were having plenty of time in the water (3 different sessions), a great pace of activities, conversational tour guide and driver. Having a guided tour in the 2nd Coral Garden, allowed us to swim along different channels, where we went single file following the leader through the maze of Coral.  In addition to lunch, there were snacks, including rum punch provided, and at the end of the day, cold Hinano beers.  (Nancy had another punch instead)
The group had a total of 10 participants, we were the only cruisers, English speaking and the oldest (!).  One young French man was temporarily working  in San Francisco, and he had lots of fun conversations about his perspective of California, France and other places he enjoyed.   

It was a fabulous day spent as tourists, and highly recommended.   


Shindig at the end of the rainbow in Taha'a

Nancy wanted to book this AirBnB

Goofing off with sharks

Did I say "Sharks"?

Lots of Sharks

Vanilla crop after it has been dried

Vanilla drying box at the Rum distillery

A very fancy German-made still

Getting a refresher on Tahitian pearl production


graft material used when implanting a new nucleus in an oyster 


technician adding the graft and  nucleus to an oyster

removing pearls and adding new, larger nucleus
(Each Oyster may be able to produce up to 3-4 pearls, one at a time) 

Pearls sorted by size after being removed from the oyster

Fish posing on a drift snorkel 

Nemo found in French Polynesia !

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Shindig Launched and ready for action


After two weeks we are ready to launch!



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Cruising = Enjoying the Exotic Locations while Fixing Boats

While we spent the last two weeks getting Shindig ready, the overall beauty of this tropical island, Raiatea, was not overlooked.   Raiatea is the 2nd largest of the Society islands (Tahiti is the largest) in French Polynesia.  The population is over 12,000 and primary economy is agricultural with exports of vanilla, pineapple and coconut.  There are a mix of Polynesia descent people as well as French, and each day we greet each other with either an "Ia Orana" or "Bonjour" depending on what language emerges first.  Our Spanish is complicating the mind a bit, so sometimes Nancy responds with "Si", instead of a"Merci".   Generally everyone is very friendly and smiles a lot.  Not a bad way of living.

Our rental car allowed us to enjoy the daily commute along the water to the boatyard.  There are lots of little cars and trucks zipping by, but also slow moving locals on bicycles sharing the road.  One  day we took off 1/2 day and drove all around the island.  The highlight was visiting the sacred Marae *(Temple)  Taputapuatea, once considered the central temple and religious center of Polynesia.  Priests and navigators from all over the Pacific would gather here to offer sacrifices to the gods and share knowledge.  The site is over 1000 years old, and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017.

Daily Commute 

The Marae Taputapuatea 

Western Polynesia's most significant political, ceremonial and burial site
Paved Courtyard with large standing stone in center

Time for Lunch

Simple French Lunch - Fish in Vanilla Sauce, Taro, Tropical Fruit & Rice 


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cruising = Fixing Boats in Exotic Locations


A popular definition of Cruising is in the above blog post title.  Very true for Shindig, who has been waiting patiently in the tropical humidity and sun in the island of Raiatea.  Raiatea is about 145 miles  from Tahiti - a 40 minute flight by airplane, but more interesting, an over night sail by sailboat.

So we have been holed up in two different airbnb or little motels, commuting daily to the boatyard to try to turn Shindig into the cruising machine that she is.  We worked 11 days in a row, with a 1/2 day break;  scrubbing, un-molding, fixing, greasing, de-greasing, reorganizing, cleaning on the inside, installing new systems, negotiating with the boatyard as rain delayed their exterior work.  Rob installed the wiring for a new Iridium Go which will make our communications back home, as well as wind forecasts, much better.  Nancy was very happy to have access to a single laundry machine in the airbnb and did 15 loads of laundry in 5 days.  (Getting laundry done in the South Pacific is very expensive, usually about $15/load for wash and dry) Got to appreciate the little things.  

Photos below show a few different angles on the fix-it jobs.  

The Boatyard where Shindig has rested for 18 months

Interior shot of main salon in shambles.

Nancy crawling in the V berth to try to find some hidden treasures  SUP still in its bag, as well as surf board


Main salon table moved to expose hidden water tank baffles.  8 sections cleaned over 2 days.
Entrez vous - the entrance to Shindig via the 10 ft ladder.  Boat Cover remained on for first week

How Romantic!    R + N = Heart on the Garbage Can
Some Boat Yoga:  Into the Aft Locker 
Rob goes up the mast to fetch halyard messengers and install wind instruments

A well deserved Tahitian Beer - and un heated swimming pool   The Best!



The primer going on after 4 days of paint removal

Friday, May 3, 2019

Boatyard Purgatory

The recommissioning process is well under way.  Shindig is buried two boats deep in the yard and we hope to splash in a week.  What could go wrong.....



Thursday, May 2, 2019

Shindig Blog Reboot

Yes, the blog has been dormant for a long time......




We had intended on catching up on the blog following the 2017 cruising season when we returned home and had lots of good internet.

Unfortunately, 36 hours after arriving home in California our home was burned in the Sonoma County Tubbs wildfire.


Digging through the rubble, Rob uncovers Nancy's Stienway
So much community support for fire victims

Since the fire, we've been recovering from our loss, navigating the insurance process and getting back on our feet.

Rather than rebuild on our burned lot, we decided to purchase another home.

Now, 18 months later, we are mostly settled and look forward to restarting our seasonal sailing aboard Shindig.

Keep an eye on the blog for updates on our cruising in the South Pacific, and as we continue the  adventure in French Polynesia and further points West.

The Shindig Cruising Adventure Continues!

Current view from 200 200 ft above the boat yard in Raiatea.

Shindig is buried deep in the boatyard.  Soon she will be free!