Friday, June 30, 2006

Pests and pitch-poling

Our stay in Hanamoenoa Bay on the small island of Tahuata was tranquil. There was no settlement, just a beautiful beach, coconut palms and lemon trees. We had a great overnight sail there punctuated by a dolphin visit and something sinisterly large on the fishing line which, having made the winch scream with the speed of the racing line and created an impressive bow wave behind us, thankfully, got away. In the bay we spent a couple of days snorkeling, reading and doing a few 'low-level' jobs. We were 'friendless' in the anchorage when we arrived, with 5 unknown boats there, and it was a good opportunity to meet some new people after the easy security of 'the Net' group. Sadly but inevitably the group has now dispersed but will reconvene at intervals along this 'Coconut Milk Run' route.
We headed for the larger island of Ua Pou overnight on Saturday and had a challenging time anchoring in the roly bay. Several friends had suggested that because of the swell that enters the bay, a good idea would be to put the anchor out and secure a line from the stern to the breakwater to give us more stability during our stay. We don't love Kika for her manoeuvrability - she is famously awful at going astern - so we were apprehensive but nonetheless determined to rise to the challenge. All the other boats in the anchorage had stern anchors out and were rolling, a further inducement to secure to the wall. So we waited for the wind to slacken off and then went for it and Kika behaved impeccably, reversing beautifully and rather haughtily into position when Nick had dropped the anchor. We felt quite smug ('specially me, I was at the helm!)Something we're not so smug about are Kika's 'visitors'. We have an infestation of cockroaches which is quite revolting and upsetting as they are something every cruiser dreads for their sheer numbers and tenacity. In fact, having roaches is quite taboo amongst the cruising fraternity which stops short of flying a flag signalling your shame, but we agreed that the blog should not be censored, and you, as readers have heard plenty of the good stuff, so can share the bad. Anyway, it appears our 'lodgers' are a sort of super-creature whose powers of survival are limitless. They can stowaway as eggs in the gum of cardboard, or under your shoe, or they can simply fly in through a hatch if they fancy emigrating. Once aboard, they are difficult to kill, and when you have managed to do so, their eggs lie dormant for a while and then the new batch begins! So chemical warfare ensued aboard a couple of days ago. Having realised that spraying was having no effect except possibly making them bigger and bolder, we invested in some Aussie stuff with 'Egg Kill' that zaps them and apparently the eggs too. Lockers have been disinfected and 2 types of poison added. All we can do is wait. Nick is not too bothered by them and really, they aren't that harmful, but having 'fessed up to my parents about this current challenge, Dad did a 'Google' search and helpfully informed me that they like to nibble on human eyebrows! Words fail me. Where's that flag, the one with the black cross on it?

Another disaster befell us the afternoon of our arrival. As I said, the anchorage is roly and suffers from cross swells which can make landing a dinghy difficult (you know what's coming, don't you?). Well, we rowed Jordan to shore but were pitch-poled at the last minute in the shallows. It all happened very quickly and was quite dramatic. I was thrown out of Jordan and dragged under the surf, while Nick was completely engulfed by her as she pitched over. I stood up, to see the upturned Jordan and not a sign of Nick. I had images of him unconscious and water filling his lungs which was enough to give me cockroach super-strength and I lifted up the dinghy (no mean feat - she's a big girl!) to find 'no-mercy' Nick unharmed and ready to spring to action. All was salvaged including 4 flip-flops, 2 pairs of sunnies, 2 oars and the plastic dinghy seat which had given me a glancing blow on the cheek as it flew off into the surf. Jordan, however, is now on probation. Brenda is ready and waiting in the forepeak if we have any more nonsense! Thankfully, Nigel was not involved as we had decided to row in. Phew!

Oh well, we have had some fun too; hiking in the hills, relearning how to spend money in shops and bars and, of course, since there seem to be no laundry facilities for yachts in the islands, doing plenty of washing. We knew the pressure cooker was a wise addition to the galley, but it also gets your whites whiter (well, sort of). Our walk was breathtaking and we were accompanied by Patrice who was refreshingly modest about his knowledge and experience of being a guide and encouraged us with our attempts at French, the common language. We came down from the mountains with aching legs, an enhanced French vocabulary and backpacks full of fruit, fruit, fruit.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Guys, welcome to the pacific, cockroach heaven, Sydney is full of the little buggers. Time to adopt the No Box on Boat rule. Thanks for the window into your world, see you in Oz i hope

Paul Mel and Cal