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Our “Sailing Out The Gate Video” leaving San Francisco 08/20/2015

Year ago, August 20, 2015 we left San Francisco to head to Mexico via our Steven’s 40 sailboat. I added this video to the last post a little late, so I’m posting it again by itself because I feel like it deserves its own post.  Our family of 5 plus Nina’s best friend Ava and Ellamae’s biological father,  Jason joined us for the first leg from Horseshoe Cove San Francisco to Halfmoon Bay, California.

TAHITI!!!

What a strange feeling…. after so many months of small populated towns, if any at all, small grocery stores that had just enough supplies to restock a few select fresh fruit (mainly grapefruit, imported apples, and bananas), and quiet surroundings with only nature to be heard, we made landfall in the busiest, most populated island in French Polynesia, Tahiti, June 24th, 2018.

Our overnight passage from Toau was pretty much seamless after our exciting 3 am departure was out of the way. 36 hours and a Wahoo later we found ourselves just reaching the north end of the island of Tahiti. We made way for Venus Point, the same anchorage Capt. Cook landed in on the Bounty to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun on June 3, 1769. That was 249 years ago! This very protected, easy navigable, black sand bay, eased our entry into “city life” for just one night.  The black sand was something we, on Shawnigan, had not experienced yet. When we dropped the hook, we assumed the water was dirty and that we would not be able to see the bottom.  As soon as the anchor was down we hopped on paddle boards and toured around.  It didn’t take long to realize that we could actually see the bottom from the surface. At 20 feet down, our silver anchor glistened half dug into the black sand.

We made Shushi with the Wahoo we caught!

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The next morning we made way for the anchorage just north of Marina Taina,  which is just south of Papeete, Tahiti’s largest city and the Capital of French Polynesia. On our way in through he pass, we motored by a popular surf spot, no not Teahupoo, but lovely to see. I think its safe to say that we all felt shell shocked. So much to see, the surfers were beautiful, the landscape was beautiful, the people on outriggers givin’her were beautiful, the water was beautiful, the list could go on.  Shortly after, as we made our way up the channel, our friend named Gilles, whom we met a few years back in Sausalito as he and his family sailed through on SV Coccinelle, came to greet us on his dinghy.  He hopped aboard, tied his dinghy to Shawnigan and lead the way to the anchorage.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0713.DCIM100GOPROGOPR0714.IMG_3069IMG_3071IMG_3075IMG_3086IMG_3105IMG_3101IMG_3107IMG_3108IMG_3110IMG_3098

Gilles and Christian getting caught up on 4 years of not seeing each other.

The anchorage was tight, but we found a spot. It was exciting to see so many boats anchored and moored in a few mile radius.  The kids were especially excited, because big city means more kid boats coming together in one location, therefore new kids to meet and make connections with. A few other things to be excited about: BIG grocery stores and free wifi access from the town hall, family visiting, and a tour of the island via rental car. Yay!

Every morning the outriggers were out practicing.img_0646img_0722img_0834img_0835

Play time with cousin Lola.

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Ellamae and Apolline

Family shot with Lola in front of Tahiti waterfall.

Moon setting

Ages 17 – 5 years old.

Ellamae’s send-off crew (Boat kids from La Cigale, Raftkin, and our Shawnigan crew).

That’s Nina, doing some kind of funky pose.

Taj is in awe with the size of the waterfall.

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Taj, very much his dad’s son…

We finally met S/V Bonaire!

Nina and Taj coming into shore in the dinghy to pick me up.

Taj (at 5 years old) being towed behind a dinghy on a hydrofoil. Thanks Jeremy with starboardSupNZ !

Kid boat meet up at the park near the marina in Pape’ete. Kids from S/V Today, S/V Coastal Drifter, S/V La Cigale,  us (S/V Shawnigan), S/Y Panacea and S/V ManuiaBus ride back from town with S/Y Panacea crew.

S/V Alondra kids, S/V Bajka Kids, and Taj at the office in Marina Taina.

Playing with the “BajkaBoys”Ship Shape time…while the laundry dries. 

 

 

 Taj posing with his signed Frankie Hill skateboard that was given to him.

Our farewell as we departed Tahiti from our Starboard SUP New Zealand friend Victoria.

 

 

 

 

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a French couple that we met in Mexico 2.5 years ago

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Taj picking up trash along the way to see the sunken plane.

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Taj diving down to get a closer look at the plane.

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Nina getting down and close…

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IMG_3101coming up next…. Mo’orea

 

 

 

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apologies about boat teen post confusion

Dear followers,

I apologize for getting you excited about a post on raising a boat teen…the post isn’t quite ready yet and I was using the password protected mode for another purpose. I didn’t realize that it would post like a normal post does. There will be a “raising a boat teen” post at a later date, I promise. Something to look forward to.

In the meantime, I am near ready to release our post on Tahiti. I just have a few more pictures to find on the hard drive.

Fair winds and following seas,

Josie and a family afloat aboard S/V Shawnigan.

P.S. A Family Afloat Apparel is currently available to order for only a few more days… Get yours now by clicking here!

Toau

Video of us leaving Fakarava out of the North Pass:

Video of SV La Cigale as we’re both heading out of North Fakarava pass.

Toau, Tuamotus, French Polynesia:

June 18-23, 2018

Making our way about the Tuamotus with the prevailing winds, next stop after Fakarava, Toau.

atoll. Wait a minute, prevailing winds?! We left at 7 am in order to arrive at Toau’s east pass around 11am. That way we can see clearly into the water, looking for coral heads and shallow areas as well as timing the tide/current into the pass. All looked good from where we were “sitting”. As we left Fakarava, the winds switched out of the north, exactly where we wanting to sail to. To add more excitement into the mix, the current was heading out at Fakarava North pass. Let’s put two and two together: incoming wind (out of the north) + outgoing current = standing waves . Yay a circus ride!!! Apparently you can skirt the edges of the pass and bypass this “mess” but we decided to go straight on through, along with our friends on La Cigale. Don’t miss the video clip below!

Once out the pass we battled the headwind. We almost gave up entirely and turned back in when we would tack one way to head northwest and get pushed southwest, then tack to head northeast and head due east. It was painful. We decided to keep with our easterly direction and turn on the iron sail (aka engine) to aid us to arrive at the the east pass of Toau by 11am. La Cigale also used this method.

Toau’s pass was cakewalk compared to Fakarava north. Many people speak of horrendous passages through it, but we had it blissful. It is still nerve racking when you can clearly see the bottom 7-8 meters (25 ft) below you, and you can see almost every detail of the coral carpet. Not sure one can ever be at compete ease with that.

Once through Toau’s east pass, we headed south, along the eastern edge. We settled in the Southeast corner (ish), a relatively sandy bottom area. As a general rule of thumb, the southeast anchorages of most of the atolls in the Tuamotus, you’ll find more sandy holdings. This is due to the wind direction, blowing sand over and it settling within the atoll. There were some coral heads, but they were easy to spot and plenty of room to navigate around to find a good anchoring area. Here, with La Cigale, and 2 other boats in the distance, there was plenty of room. And it was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful!

Pizza making over on La Cigale.Spa day on La Cigale Barber Shop Shawnigan , cutting Xavier’s hair off the starboard hull. Coffee time on Shawnigan

After a few days inside the atoll, it was time to make our way back out and north to Toau’s false pass on the north end called Anse Amyot. It’s a false pass due to its pass like appearance, but no complete pass through. You enter as if heading through a pass and grab a mooring or anchor in the middle. Again the east pass was manageable when we heading out, with an incoming current of about 2 kts. We sailed on up to Anse Amyot and motored up to a Mooring, next to our friends on SV Summer. The “lagoon” , as many people call it, was beautiful, but windy. This is normally a very picturesque anchorage with brilliant colors popping out of the water, but the wind waves made the water surface difficult to see much color. That is until you jumped in. Despite the wind, we were determined to snorkel. It was beautiful!!! We’ve heard many stories of the fantastic diving here. The days we were there were not those days, but non-the-less still very amazing. Watch our video here or click it below:

Our 90 day visa in French Polynesia was already halfway through.

We could have spent at least another month in the Tuamotus exploring underwater and on land. But alas, it was time to head to Tahiti. The clock was ticking. Family was coming to visit us in Tahiti, Ellamae (our 10 year old) needed to fly back to the U.S for her time with her biological father, and we still had the Society Island group the explore. We did the math with distance to Tahiti and average boat speed (5kts). Tahiti was a very long overnight sail from Toau.

The benefit to Toau’s false pass is that one can leave “through” it at night. We estimated our passage from Toau to Tahiti to take about 36 hours, which meant a 3 am departure time was needed in order to arrive before dark the next day. We had tracked our way into the mooring the other day and paid close attention to all the details of markers and reef locations so that our departure would be “easy”.

At 3 am our internal alarm went off. Shawnigan, pointing to the southeast, was bobbing up and down on the mooring ball as the wind persistently blew 15 kts. Perfect wind conditions to sail off the mooring, but not the perfect anchorage. We made it out fine, but I wouldn’t say it was without standing on the edge of my seat. It was windy, there was a small current, it was dark. We had tied an extra line to the mooring we were on, not trusting what was there. We knew we would have to leave it when we placed it. It seemed pitch black with our navigation system lit up, hindering my night vision. We had our tracks in through the pass saved and ready to follow out. As the engined warmed up, we reviewed our exit plan.

Timing our boat’s dance with the wind, we motored off the mooring in the correct direction, away from the reef 20 meters to our starboard. Behind the helm, my job was to quickly throttle up our RPMs as soon as we released from the mooring ball. We had our lines set up with two loops to either side of our bow. Christian released the first one, checked to make sure I was ready, and with a torch shining on himself he released Shawnigan from the mooring and hand motioned me to motor out. The wind was strong enough to require 1800 RPMs for ample steerage off the mooring to turn off the wind, past the other boats and out through the pass. At the helm, I focused heavily on our Navionics chart, attempting to follow our track out exactly as we came in. I will say, it’s a lot harder to do when you can’t visually see where you’re heading and only looking at a screen and compass. Christian was on the bow with a bright light shining, keeping an eye out for the surrounding reefs. Heart pumping, I was relieved when we made it out of the pass and clear of any reef danger. As we veered off the wind, toward Tahiti, we unfurled the Jib and turned off the engine. Ah, peace. All that was, was the sound of the wind, the slapping of the water from behind and the stars in the sky. Off the coast a few miles, we were in the clear of any obstacles and could relax.

Toau, thank you for your beauty. We hope to visit again? Maybe in less windy conditions next time.

SV Summer (Shannon 28) with Leo and Laurel aboard.

do you see the fish?

SV Tusi 2

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Christian checking on the mooring ball in Anse Amyot

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Where We’d Build a Tunnel to, in 6 Words

Coach Daddy has put out another fun “in 6 words or less” post, featuring our answer … I’d tell you what # our response is, but then would wouldn’t see all of the other responses of bloggers and possibly new blogs to follow!!!

Coach Daddy

stormtrooper first order castle Sometimes you get to storm a castle at the church yard sale. #truecrusaders

I’m all for being in the moment.

6 words graphicBut sometimes, you just want to tunnel your butt someplace else. Not always even to a churro factory after hours, although … well, we all have aspirations. And I’ve asked several strangers, bloggers, friends, and a few strange blogger friends this question:

If you could build a tunnel from your house directly to anywhere in the world, where would it go? And why?

That’s a lot to get into six words, but it’s possible.

View original post 672 more words

Diving with Sharks! Fakarava, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Fakarava

June 7th, 2018:

Southwest of Kauehi is the atoll of Fakarava. Fakarava South is well known in the diving world for one of the most amazing shark drift dives. We were super excited to be heading there to freedive it and snorkel. We entered through the south pass with La Cigale directly behind us. Looking back, I’m unsure why, but we decide to take the east channel through to get to the anchorage/mooring area. It was only 3 meters at one point, which is plenty deep, but no room for error. As we motored against a strong 4 kt current, it looked like the reef was going to reach our keel at any second and we weren’t moving past it very fast. We made it, though on pins and needles the whole time.

We arrived on Tuesday to find that the anchorage was “empty”. There were only 4 other boats there and 2 free moorings were available. We grabbed one, but unfortunately the other one was too close to the other boat for La Cigale to grab, so they braved the anchoring within all of the coral littered bottom. This normally very crowded anchorage had emptied out due to the supply ship that arrives in North Fakarava on Wednesdays. Most of the cruisers all head up there on Tuesday to be there first thing in the morning on Wednesday for fresh produce. I wish I could say that we couldn’t have planned it better, but we didn’t plan it that way at all.

As we settled in, it didn’t take long to realize that this place was chalk full of reef sharks. Just looking off of our boat down 35 ft to the bottom, we could see sharks circling around. For the first time, they weren’t just black tip reef sharks either. We could see Grey reef sharks and White Tip reef sharks as well. We slowly lowered ourselves into the water for a closer look. Yep, they were all over and “friendly”. At one point I was able to attract a total of 9 sharks near the boat by splashing around on the surface. They were curious, but that’s as far as it went. We quickly realized we weren’t on their menu.

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White tip reef shark

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Grouper

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Bumphead Wrasse / Napoleon Wrasse

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Vacation rental on the water.

Over the next few days, we snorkeled/free-dived the south pass. You do this by taking the dingy to the outside of the pass, and timed with the incoming tide/current, you drift back into the atoll, watching all of the sharks, Grouper, and other sea creatures along the way. There is a section called “the wall of sharks” , in which the sharks tend to congregate in huge masses. Over the course of 5 days I think we did the drift dive 8 times! Christian put a little video together of it. See it here on our YouTube Channel.

A week zoomed by. A portion of the kid boats we met in the Galapagos arrived here around the same time as well. We met up with SV Alondra, another kid boat from Canada, and a few other kid boats we hadn’t met yet. Edith on SV Alondra is a Marine Biologist and was very generous to put together a few boat school biology classes. She pulled out a few of her props for a lesson on Marine Mammals and again, on another day, her microscopes for a lesson on Plankton.

As our time in South Fakarava neared its end we had been out for nearly 3 weeks without reprovisioning. It was time to head up to “town”, Rotoava, in North Fakarava for a re-supply.

We had a great sail off the hook and back on again in the north end after dodging pearl farm buoys. See our swinging video here.

 

 

We anchored off of the town along with other cruiser friends. We first went to find some groceries. We were lucky to find that there were eggs available at the Fakarava Yacht Services facility. They also had wifi and coffee, both were not great , but did the trick. a coconut crab Ellamae and Megan off of SV Raftkin.IMG_4904Haley (Raftkin) and Nina

Pearl Lottery – pick out a shell and hope you get a beautiful pearl…

 

We spent a few days there, getting wifi, eating really good croissants, and doing a little SUP yoga and video with the ladies.

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yes, that’s a shark… Nurse Shark

Screenshot (267)Screenshot (269)Screenshot (271)The crew off of SV Today stopping over to say hello. They have a ocean plastic awareness program called “eat less plastic” in which they are promoting through their sailing voyage.

saying “fair winds” to Alondra.

We finally were ready to head out to the next atoll, Toau. There was just one issue, the wind switched to the north, the direction we wanted to head in. Video and photos to be posted on our Toau post, up next.