and PEARL FARM TOUR
June 15, 2004
We finally were all underway, Billabong in the lead because he had previously been to the North end of Fakarava and knew the route, although we made sure to have someone on the deck for conning the passage.
We were greeted by Tackless II who had arrived in Fakarava the day before. The anchorage was very pretty and the waters were calm and clear when we arrived.
That evening, Bob, Becky and I went to shore and walked the clean cement streets, exploring the village and locating the bakery. Normally, bread must be purchased by 5 am because they are sold out by 6. We were able to put an order in and they agreed that we could pick it up around 7 am the following morning.
RIDING OUT THE STORM
Sure enough the wind started to blow early the following morning. We all remained boat bound riding out the rough and bumpy seas for the next 2 days. I actually had to resort to my Stugeron to combat seasickness.
12 boats were anchored in Fakarava, bobbing up and down like a hobby horse waiting out the bad weather that brought rain and wind to 30 knots. Several boats broke their snubbers on their anchors and Solstice lost their whole bow roller.
It was too rough to even take a dinghy to shore or visit any of the other boats. We were all worried that when we had to pull up our anchors, they would be wrapped around coral heads again.
June 17, 2004
We heard from Ocean Girl today. Ralph had stayed behind in Kauehi to help out by devising a method to secure the broken rudder on Ali Kai Too so they could somehow make it to Tahiti for repairs. Neither Ralph nor Donna got to enjoy the anchorage, snorkel or hike ashore because Ralph was busy with the repair the whole time we were in Kauehi. Now we hear that Ralph has ruptured his eardrum when he dove his anchor.
The fleet was giving him advise on antibiotics, etc. over the radio .. the general consensus is that he must stay out of the water for 6 weeks and NO alcohol (That would be very hard on Party Ralph). Here's a guy who has spent all his time helping everyone else and now he won't be able to enjoy himself like he deserves to. We hope Ocean Girl will catch up to us soon.
Judy on Free Bird developed a kidney stone. She has had them before so recognizes the symptoms. Freebird is the same boat that had the dinghy punctured by the shark at the last anchorage.
This weather lasted 3 days. I did lots of reading and updated my photos.
A TRIP TO TOWN
June 19, 2004
Finally the weather settled enough to take a trip to shore. We bought a few items in the local store but I was shocked when I discovered that I had paid $10.54 US of 1 head of cabbage and 1 cucumber (the only produce in the store)! They did not have any dairy, eggs, fruit or meat products.
We walked a couple of miles down the highway to a Pearl Farm and made arrangements to take a tour the following day.
ASCENSION anchored in front of Totoava
Road though town
PEARL FARM TOUR
10 of us gathered at the Havaiki Pearl Farm. The price was $15 each and it included keeping the pearl from the oyster of your choice that you could select from the water.
We snorkeled over the cages that contained the oysters, picking out the string we wanted to take back to the farm. The cages were about 30 feet below the surface so diving down to retrieve one takes some skill. We loaded the string of oysters on to one of the dinghies and head back to the farm.
At the farm we were shown the process of seeding, grafting, washing, collection, etc. We each picked an individual oyster which was opened up to reveal our pearl.
My oyster contained a very unusual creamy coloured pearl, baroque shaped. Gord got the award for best pearl.. a beautiful round black pearl with no flaws (worth about $100).
Gord gave me his pearl and I had a hole drilled in it. I now wear it strung with a leather thong around my neck.
Everyone's pearls were a little different in shape, colour and size. It was quite suspenseful as each oyster was opened.
Once everyone had their pearl, we had to eat our oyster. With a little salt and lime juice, it wasn't all that bad!
Their was a store at the Pearl Farm that sold various pearls loose and set into necklaces, rings and other jewellery. Most of the other cruisers got carried away at his store and bought pearls and jewellery but I managed to restrain myself. Prices in Tahiti are more than double what they were at the farm so some people got really good deals.
Judy, Dave (Freebird) & Angela pulling up string of oysters
Explaining the process
Gord, Bob, Becky, Doug & Dave display their picks
The Pearl Farm had a little area stocked with colourful fish where you could snorkel and get a close up encounter with the residents. There was even a turtle but he seemed less than willing to accept the confines of the pen. Becky got in the water and fed some of the fish.
Do I really have to eat this?
June 21, 2004
We all agreed that we had a good weather window to continue on to Tahiti so decided to leave the next morning. Getting our anchors up in the morning was quite a feat and Rick on Emerald and Don on Tackless II were called upon to assist unwrapping anchor chain from coral heads with their dive gear. We sailed through the channel leaving Tackless II to set a course for their visit to the Southern end of the atoll and Free Bird to journey to another atoll.
Just as we were leaving Fakarava, we heard VHF radio communication from Ocean Girl and Danses De Le Mer as they were heading into the pass. Maahji-Re was also within range and he joined out group towards Tahiti. Stardust led the pack, followed by Ascension, Billabong, Solstice, Emerald, Mag Mel, and Maahji-Re. With the 7 of us traveling together we can see lots of little white lights on the night horizon...very comforting.
Since we had been informed that Anjuli, staying at the quay in the main anchorage downtown Papeete, Tahiti had their boats broken in to and ransacked, we all decided to head for Maeva Beach, a bus trip away from the main center.