Month: May 2010

Generator Repair (AGAIN!)…..

May 30, 2010

Dear F&F,

May 28-29, 2010

We have not been diving again because of persistent strong winds/waves
outside the lagoon, where the dive sites are. Too rough to be comfortable.
Where we are anchored is fine. The breeze keeps us cool. The wind chop on
the water is a bit strong to swim against plus we are anchored in sand so it
is not that interesting to snorkel or swim off the boat.

Our package of generator oil hoses & warranty replacement video lights did
not arrive on the morning plane yesterday, but it was there on the afternoon
plane. Why? Glad you asked. The morning plane was so full with people,
they ran out of “weight” space for the cargo. So, they sent it in
alphabetical order. “Yacht – Beach House” was last on the list. Fortunately,
their promise of it’s afternoon arrival came true. It is pretty interesting
to watch the prop jet land on this narrow strip of motu. A few tourists
departing & arriving plus locals waiting for supplies from Papeete. One of
the pension (B&B) operators asked me if I had just arrived. In poor French I
said, No I am on a boat. He gave me a fragrant welcome lei, since one of his
expected clients did not arrive. It is a string of Tiara flowers which are
white & smell delicious. I have them hanging in the galley.

Scott could not bear to wait, so we dug right into the generator oil hose
replacement project. It was a bit disconcerting at first since the
replacement hose was significantly smaller than the original (leaky) hose.
But the fittings were the same size & he had the foresight to order extra
fittings. We spent over 2 hours: he in the awkwardly small space contorted
on top of our anchor line and chain. Me, fetching & handing him various
tools, (doing as he says,”My best Vanna White routine”), shining a
flashlight & mopping up endless drips of oil. Sadly, upon testing we
discovered the 2nd hose was also leaking, but we called it a night & tackled
that this morning.

I must be acclimatizing & the season must be changing: I actually got cold
out there in the stiff breeze for 2 hours last night. We had a lovely moon
rise. I giggled at myself running in to grab a sweater when I could plainly
see the temperature still read 80 degrees!

This morning Scott & “Vanna White” tackled the 2nd hose replacement. We did
not have sufficient new sized fittings, but he made do and it “knock wood”
it is working with no leaks so far.

This afternoon I snorkeled an hour scraping the hula skirt of algae off the
boat’s hulls. It was a good workout against the wind produced waves and I
felt cold by the end. The water temp on our boat gauge says 81.4. We’ll see
what we find when we next go diving, planned for Monday. Five days ago it
was still 84 at depth. We hope that the conditions are favorable for diving
on the east side of the island where the beautiful coral sites are. The new
owner came by in his boat to tell us he did not get to keep the same phone
number that was supposed to have been kept when he bought the business. We
can tell he is just getting settled. We gave him our local cell number &
asked that he call us day by day so we can decide if diving is a “go” for
that morning or not.

We had a blast making a new shark video for the web. See our Video Gallery,
“Fins of Bora Bora”, music is “Fins” by Jimmy Buffet. It is faster paced and
more fun than some of our prior footage. We’ll see if we can get good enough
WiFi or more likely load it from shore right next to the antenna. The next
island for sure does not have internet or ANY infrastructure for that
matter.

I must be settling into this life because the days are just kind of gliding
by. Mainly from meal to meal. I hope to find some semblance of fresh
vegetables soon. I used my last carrot, broccoli & bell pepper today. I have
a few apples, kiwis, one grapefruit. Then it’s frozen peas & green beans. We
may rent bicycles to circumnavigate the island. It is so small they say it
takes only about an hour to ride around.

Enjoying Maupiti Island life,

Cindy & Scott

Maupiti – “Dry Days” (no diving)…..

May 28, 2010

Dear F&F,

May 26-27, 2010

Jerome and Natalie invited us aboard their Switch 51 “Na Maka”, the blue
Switch for dinner. I had already cooked Szechuan eggplant with shrimp in the
morning, so added some rice to take as my contribution. The beef roast with
potatoes was delicious. Having someone else cook a meal is always a treat.
When we arrived, Natalie was trying to have the children finish their
dinner, which was already served. The twin boys tussled as expected. I felt
a bit sorry for 10 year old Leo who disappeared quickly with his IPod.
Natalie said any two of the boys get along fine, but when all three are
together, there is a lot of fighting. She is a brave woman! But they seem to
be enjoying themselves and it sounds like we will be on the same path for a
while which is nice. Lucky for us, both of them speak English very well, so
Scott chatted with Jerome as I talked with Natalie.

Mid morning we dinghied to the fuel dock with 5 of our 5 gallon jugs. The
day before, I had “reserved” two dozen eggs. I also bought vinegar from the
“market” with a walk up window. Yesterday the proprietor had let me inside
to more closely view what was for sale. At a roadside stand I bought two
pamplemousse (grapefruit, $3 US each). We think the Seventh-Day Adventist
church members must own all the businesses since everything is closed on
Saturdays. And we did not see any alcohol in the market, as SDAs don’t
drink.

There were posters about a local artisan art fair. There were about 50
vendors with nicely displayed shell jewelry, wood carvings, pareos & other
chachkies (yiddish). A band was there but not playing yet. NO ATTENDEES. It
was sad. I seemed to be the only one browsing around. The artists were
dressed up but not smiling. I am not a collector, gift-giver, or shopper and
there was nothing special at all. I don’t know if the mayor of the island
decided this was a good idea, but without a cruise ship or some group of
tourists to attend, I don’t know what they were thinking! They did not seem
to be buying from each other. The oddities of island life…

Scott’s packages are both in Papeete and the agent will put them on the
plane to arrive here tomorrow morning. He will tackle the generator oil hose
replacement ASAP. I pray the new video lights really work. It will be so
disappointing if they are lemons too. So many companies are bad about bench
testing their equipment before sending it out to the customer.

We hope that the wind that has been making the outside of the reef too rough
for diving will start to subside soon. I hope to dive here a lot more. Scott
always has his eye on the weather and will be looking for a window to sail
to the next island, Mopelia, which is an atoll and will be our last stop in
French Polynesia. It’s hard to believe but we’ve been here for almost
exactly one year! I can happily stay here longer, if I get to dive. If we
are not diving, we may as well move along. That is my feeling. Of course
there are repair and maintenance days. And for Scott many hours of photo and
video editing.

Tonight I received Vincent’s Ships Log: his account of their stay with us.
It is priceless. It made me laugh and cry, re-living the magic week we had
together. I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you all for writing. I still get “homesick” for my friends & family.
Your emails bridge the gap between us.

Cindy & Scott

Maupiti Dive Day 2 & 3…..

May 25, 2010

Dear F&F,

May 23, 2010

Last night it was fun to review Scott’s photos du jour. He got more good
ones that he expected. I love his work and am so glad he has the patience
for it. I do not! I am happy to point out pretty things for him to take
pictures of. But actually dragging a camera around underwater and all that
underwater photography entails would ruin the experience for me. He loves
it. It is his art. And I love the results, so it works out great. As I
write, he is in his “dark room”. Thanks to digital photography, he only
needs his Macintosh, not a room full of chemicals.

We were happy to see Ronald alone pick us up this morning. We will likely be
his last clients as he is selling Maupiti Dive Center to another couple.
Ronald and Rochelle, with two kids, are buying a boat in Raiatea and plan to
go cruising themselves. Ronald discovered all the sites here, hopefully the
new owners will keep things going.

The wind shifted to the north overnight which really knocked down the swell
outside the reef. Hurray!!! It was a MUCH more comfortable ride to the
sites. We had two gorgeous dives. They were both shallower than yesterday so
we could stay down a long time. Scott got some awesome detailed shots of the
coral texture and patterns, colorful blue clams, and an outer space looking
jelly fish.

We came across a few of the hated Crown of Thorn starfish, the reef
destroyers. I could hear dive guide Ronald in a Bruce Willis or Clint
Eastwood voice saying, “Not on my reef you don’t!” as he went after it with
a loose piece of sharp coral. Stabbing it, dismembering all its spiny legs
and strewing the remains with a certain amount of righteous indignation. If
Scott was focused on shooting something with his camera for a while, Ronald
would go ahead and destroy more of them as he saw them. It is amazing that
he has been able to single-handedly weed out this invasive reef destroyer.
Hopefully Lionel will keep up the practice to protect the reef. I am tempted
to bring my Hawaiian sling & spear a few myself.

We were so tired by the time we rinsed gear, showered and had lunch that it
was nap time. Scott looked at our fish books, identifying various ones we
saw today, but I was gonzo. Delicious. Wake up, almost time for happy hour &
writing! It’s a tough life but somebody’s got to do it….

Jerome & family on the other Switch 51 (s/v Na Maka) which is Polynesian for
“Spirt of the Ocean”, moved and are now anchored closer to us. We passed
them snorkeling this morning as we went out in the dive boat. There are also
two other charter catamarans and a trimaran. There have been clouds off and
on, no rain yet, but we did have a lovely rainbow before sunset. We are
going to dive again tomorrow, because the weather is predicted to get rough
on Tuesday and we don’t know how long that will last. Besides the weather,
we think it is smart to take advantage of Ronald being here while we still
have him. I’m sure Lionel will be fine too, but he is just learning the
sites.

May 24, 2010

Maupiti Dive Day #3

It started raining about 4:00 a.m. & at 7:15 was still steady. It probably
seems funny to think that a bit of rain might deter us from diving, when we
are wet anyway. It’s partly psychological, even though the water is just as
warm and the air only slightly cooler. It is just not initially appealing to
zoom out in the rain. Donning “gooey wet things” is kind of yucky (our gear
hanging outside got wet in the rain). But I was really looking forward to
one more day of diving with Ronald. We called and he said he would happily
take us, he likes to dive in rainy weather. Sometimes it just isn’t as
pretty without any sun. Everything underwater looks more monochrome. He was
at home and willing to “stand by” and let us see if the rain would break.

The weather forecast is for strong winds Tuesday through at least Friday so
we may have a few mandatory “stay at home” days ahead. Scott has a lot of
video editing he wants to catch up on. I have a harder time figuring out
what to do sometimes, but can always read. Although the rain cools it down
(76 at the coolest) it gets stuffy inside because we have to close all the
windows. One of the forward salon windows has a drip so we keep a container
under it.

By 8:30 a.m. the rain slowed to a drizzle so we decided not to be wimps and
called Ronald, Let’s go. The wind was not blowing hard, so the waves were
not whipped up and the ride to the sites outside the reef was pretty
comfortable. Just the three of us again – yippee!

The past two days Scott used the macro lens on his camera to take close ups
of fish, coral, etc. Today he used the wide angle lens which means that he
wants me in the photo for perspective. He is “in his darkroom” right now, as
I write. I forgot how small and far away I look, even though I feel very
close to the lens. I imagine I am the dominant feature in a picture, but
that’s not the case.

I don’t look as goofy as I used to in the early years of underwater
modeling, but it is still a challenge to not exhale, look relaxed & natural..

Between our two dives he gave me these tips:

*Look either at the camera or the subject that is in front of me

*Tilt my head up a bit and raise my chest

*Avoid flailing arms, especially the arm nearest the camera, keep at my side

*Avoid super bent knees or widely spread legs

I know how important good photos are to Scott so I try to cooperate as best
I can. We are both still learning and I’m sure will improve over time. I
confess that when his strobe batteries died halfway through dive #2 I was
relieved to be “off duty”.

Highlights of today’s dives: more neat jelly fish, an eagle ray seen in the
distance, but mostly lots and lots of gorgeous coral. Scott said he kept
hearing Sting’s song “Fields of Gold” as he swam the beautiful reef. Perhaps
for a future slide show…

We didn’t get back to the boat until 2:00 p.m., so had a late lunch. We had
our afternoon snack of oatmeal at 4:00 p.m. and wouldn’t ya know, it’s
almost happy hour! We’ve certainly had 3 very happy days in a row. We feel
lucky that we got to dive our first few days here. It would have been a
bummer to come and immediately be stuck onboard due to weather. Now we can
be more patient to wait out whatever potential bad weather is coming. The
lagoon where we are anchored should stay comfortable, but it can be too wild
outside the reef to go out to the dive sites if the wind is blowing hard
(especially from the south) and the waves are big. We are still waiting for
our generator oil hoses to arrive in Papeete (by way of Wisconsin and
Redondo Beach, California – Yea Mike!) then be flown here, so we are in no
rush to leave.

Looking ahead, I found a dive center by Googling Aitutaki (a Cook Island).
Neil Mitchell has already responded to our inquiry and given us some info
about the island and entering the pass there. Between here and there is
Mopelia, which is an atoll, our last stop in French Polynesia. Apparently
only 10 people live there! That should be interesting…We discovered there
is a WW1 German “Raider” wreck right outside Mopelia Pass. We’ve Googled it
and hope to have lots of photos and the interesting story behind it and her
Captain. Scott believes the Captain and vessel were the inspiration for the
John Wayne film, “Sea Wolf”.

Ok sports fans, that’s all the news that’s fit to print! Please email us
about what is happening in your life. No fair just living vicariously, we
care about what is going on with you.

Cindy & Scott