It's been a while since our last update and much has happened; we've celebrated both the anniversary of our departure and Ellen's birthday, we've sampled the delights of Tahiti and Moorea, narrowly avoided exhaust-fume induced asphyxiation, sent our first emails via Australia and we're currently enjoying nearly perfect sailing in the sheltered lagoon around Raiatea and Tahaa.
While anchored in Cook's Bay, we dug out our "Mutiny on the Bounty" DVD. It's shot against the tropical back-drop of the mountains of Moorea and it was thrilling to realise that the scenery in the film was identical to the mountains visible from our anchorage. Sadly, reality and fiction have yet to meet when comparing the greeting the Bounty received and Kika's arrival; where the film shows the boat being overrun by goddess-like semi-naked Tahitians, all we received were a few friendly waves from passing fishermen and racing pirogue crews.
My "proper job" on the exhaust resulted in a single leak, being transformed into two leaks, then four leaks. The new pipe I'd purchased turned out to have a 40mm rather than 38mm diameter and the best exhaust sealant compounds in Papeete couldn't bridge the gap. Over the next few days I became all-too familiar with the Moorea-Papeete ferry timetable as I traipsed between chandleries, marine engineers, exhaust fitters and automotive suppliers. French Polynesia has a lot to offer, but it doesn't stretch to 38mm flexible exhaust hose. We were saved from wearing breathing apparatus for the rest of the trip by an exhaust fitter who fabricated some 38-40mm pipe adapters. I've optimistically guaranteed the repair until New Zealand, when I'll do another "proper job". Peter and Sheila, the previous owners of Kika, deserve a mention here; throughout the trip they've patiently responded to my email queries with helpful advice and in this instance provided valuable information about the installation of the exhaust.
We'd originally planned to be in Bora Bora for 10th August, Ellen's birthday, but my enthusiasm to fix the exhaust "properly" delayed us so that we only just made our revised rendezvous with Noa in Raiatea for the celebration. Once we'd recovered from the overnight passage, we enjoyed more snorkeling, birthday cake provided by Ragtime and a dangerous combination of the best Panamian and Tahitian wine.
We're currently anchored off a motu (small sandy coral islet within the lagoon) in the south of Raiatea with fantastic snorkeling, the opportunity for some spear-fishing (we've checked for ciguatera with a local fisherman), plenty of driftwood for a beach fire and no shortage of hermit crabs for racing. It's going to be hard to drag ourselves away from Raiatea, but eventually we'll head off north to Bora Bora to locate a waiting parcel and sample (according to our pilot guide), "the most beautiful of the Society islands and possibly the Pacific". We'll let you know if we agree.