Friday, May 31, 2013

Busby’s Last Post - I don’t believe it…. [English]

Too much adventure, too much fun and just enough luck…

I did:
- Kiteboard
- Snorkel
- Find a coconut carb
- Feed sharks
- Held my breath for as long as I could
- Dove the deepest I could
- Explore the outer edges of the atoll
- Drift in a kayak
- Play with the fire
- Cooked food for friends
- Scuba dived at the 5th best spot in the world (according to UNESCO)

There were hundreds of sharks in less than 200m, tons of fish, a pass with current that brings you in and out. I almost didn’t escape…I almost didn’t escape. NO, not being eaten by a shark, or drifting away by a current. You’re watching too much news and TV.

I was going for a dive and when I arrived early I met the staff, chef and boss of the resort (all local Polynesians).  We were talking (and because luck is following me everywhere) the chef was going to go on vacation and they needed a replacement for 2 weeks.  So… they proposed that I stay and be the chef for the resort, with views of the coral and free dives included. This made me crazy and I was really caught off guard at the moment of the offer. I wasn’t even in the water for the dive yet….and I had the choice to change my life.

So, I went back to Starship to get a few things, so that I could stay over night at the resort and make a trial run for a day in the kitchen….just to show them what I could do.  Ha ha…!!! I’m telling you, it was pretty cool. I was cooking food in an open kitchen, overlooking the reef, coral, fish and sharks that were swimming around us.  It was a shack on pilings with a cracking floor, a kitchen where the compost is by the window (we were throwing all the food directly to the sharks… a way faster compost solution), an open sky terrace where you can dive into the water, directly into the sharks and the big napoleon fish that weigh almost 100 pounds. I will show you sceptics some pictures. I did 3 dives for free in exchange for my services and my room was just over the diving center with a view over the paradise.

But then it was the time to give my decision to the boss, after all these radical changes. Ouff! So you won’t believe me…I refused the deal. I know that you all will think that I’m crazy, but I couldn’t continue. It’s a question of timing with going back to Quebec and my deep needs for returning. I don’t regret my choice right now, but maybe when I’m back in Quebec I’m going to miss that spot. Who knows? Oh well…it was a really good experience to share all those moments with the staff and exchange our cooking knowledge, especially with the few ingredients they have.

For the job, I would have to make miracles happen from 6 am to 8 pm for 25 persons for a salary for $50/day. Baaaaaaa! I’ll pass. The experience was good, I had a good exchange with the locals and I think it was all that I needed. I have quit with respect and I left my mark.

So now we’re here at Fakarava North so I’ll be able to leave to Tahiti on the cargo ship (the Cobia). As people said, it’s a really cool to travel with the Polynesians and it’s 3 times cheaper than a plane ticket. You have to bring your own water, food and toilet paper…or else you’ll starve and smell.  So… our paths are splitting between Starship and me to give some place to Annie’s family when they come and visit in June. And on my side…the dose was good and it’s now the time for me to go back to Quebec, my home.

Thank you to Starship for allowing me to experience this wonderful adventure!
We had lots of good food, good times and I did learn a lot from Chris and Anne-Marie.

This trip will always stay in my mind and heart.

I’ll give you some news from Tahiti. You never know, maybe I’ll get a chef position or better.

See you soon family and friends. I can’t wait to see you and cook a wonderful meal for you.



Busby's Last Post - I don‘t believe it….. [French]

Trop d’aventure, trop de fun, juste assez de chance…

J’ai fais : du kite,  du snorkel, trouver un coconut crabe, nourris les requins, retenus mon souffle le plus longtemps possible, plongée le plus creux possible, explorer les rebord de l’atole, dériver avec le courant dans un kayak, jouer avec le feux, de la bouf  avec des amis et de la plongée dans un des 5 meilleur spot du monde nommé par l’U.N.E.S.C.O

Des centaines de requins en moins de 200 mètres, des milliers de poissons, une passe avec courant qui t’emporte in ou out selon la marée. J’ai faillis y rester. Lol oui oui j’ai failli y rester ;)  mais non pas bouffer par un requin ou emporter par le courant no non… vous écoutez trop les nouvelles et la telle «Les mauvaise nouvelles »

C’est juste que j’allais plongée et je suis arrivée d’avance. J’ai fais connaissance avec le boss, le staff du centre, du resort et le chef  de cuisine (tous des polynésiens). On as parler et comme j’ai la chance qui me suit partout …lol  le chef partait en vacance et ils avaient besoin d’un gars comme moi pour le remplacer un ti 2 semaines. Ils mont proposer un poste de chef pour le resort vue sur les coraux et plongée gratuite. Je vous dis que je capotais et j’étais pas mal déstabilisé au moment de la proposition. Je n’avais même pas plongée encore que j’avais une autre vie. Tout allais changer…

J’ai fais un aller retour au bateau pour ramasser des trucs, pour pouvoir passer une nuit la bas et faire un essais tout une journée en cuisine « question de montrer de quoi je suis capable » Ha ha!!! Je vous dis que c’était vraiment cool. Je faisais à bouffer dans une cuisine ouverte, vraiment aux dessus des coraux avec vue sur les poissons et les requins qui nous passait sous les pieds.  Un chack sur des pilotis  avec le plancher qui craque, une cuisine ou le composte se passe par le fenêtre de plywood entre ouverte (on balançait tout aux poissons directe et eux font le composte bien plus rapidement) terrasse a ciel ouvert de ou tu peux vraiment plongé direct dans l’eau avec les requins et les gros poissons napoléon de presque 100 livres chaque. Je vous montrerai j’ai des images pour les septiques.
J’ai fais de la plonge 3 fois gratuitement pour l’échange de mes services et ma chambre était juste au dessus du centre de plongée avec vue sur tout le paradis.

Mais la est venus le temps de donner ma décision au boss après tout se changement brusque. Ouff ! Vous allez pas me croire … j’ai refuser le deal … je sais que vous m’en voulez mais je pouvais pas continuer. Question de timing avec le Québec et mon besoin profond de revenir.  Je regrette pas mon choix jusqu’a présent mais peut être une fois que je vais être aux Québec je vais m’ennuyer du spot??? Qui sais ??? En tout cas c’était tout une expérience de partager tout c’est bon moments avec le staff et d’échanger nos savoir et les façons dont ils fonctionnent avec le peut d’ingrédients qu’ils ont.
Fallait quand même faire des miracles de 6 Am a 8 pm, faire a bouffer 3 fois par jours a 25 personnes et avec un salaire de 50par jours $. Donc baaaa! Je passe. L’expérience était bonne j’ai eu une bonne échange avec le habitants et je crois que c’était tout ce que j’avais besoin. J’ai quitté avec respect tout en laissant ma marque.

La on se dirige au nord de fakarava pour mon départ a Tahiti par bateau cargo  « le cobia » a ce qu’il parait c’est un fun trip vraiment original avec les polynésiens et c’est 3 fois moins chère que prendre l’avion.  Nos chemins se séparent entre starship et moi pour laissez place a la famille d’Anne marie. De mon cote la dose a été bonne et il vient le temps pour moi de revenir chez nous.

Merci Chris & Anne-Marie!

Je vous redonne des news de Tahiti on ne sait jamais.  Peut être que la aussi je vais dégoter un poste chef ou mieux.

Se fut un voyage magnifique et je vais en garder un souvenir  paradisiaque toute ma vie.

A bientôt la famille et les amis et j’ai bien hâte de vous voir et qu’on se fasse des bouff terriblement bonne.


Monday, May 27, 2013

A Day in the Life at Fatu Hiva

[NOTE: Written May 5th, 2013]

I wake up earlier than everyone else, often at 7 am. I'll sit in the cockpit and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Fatu Hiva. The lush green mountains, steep cliffs plunging into the anchorage, and rock spires for which this anchorage was named Bay of Penises. You can often hear the naying of mountain goats, and the cockadoodle-doo of wild roosters on the hillside.

Panorama overlooking the anchorage at Fatu Hiva
On this particular day, at around 8 am I started to make breakfast, scrambled eggs with caramelized onions, mushrooms and canned pork. The smell of which soon woke up the rest of the crew and we dined in the cockpit. As we sat in the cockpit after breakfast a small aluminum skiff, all of the locals have boats in the identical style, pulled up to Starship and Jonathan chatted with them. We determined he was a local wood carver, and tried to figure out what he would like to trade for... ropes, fishing supplies, our 50L water jug... Finally he said to come by his house and look at his carvings and we could talk more about what to trade.

Anne-Marie and the pregnant tiki statue near the dock.
Nearly 10am and we collected ourselves and prepared the dinghy to head into shore. Our plan was to hike to a waterfall with a pool one can swim in at the base. On the way we pass by Sopi's house, the wood carver who visited us at Starship. He didn't have too many carvings available to show us, but they were nice. Busby asked Sopi about wild boar hunting, and got some directions to the waterfall.

The whole town seems to be filled with carvers and carvings.
The town here is really small, but even still Busby asked a few more locals for directions along the way. Finally we found the right turn off to head for the waterfall. It was a two track dirt/grass "road" for most of the way to the waterfall. We are struck by the beauty of the area, which is seemingly in the middle of nowhere, but well kept almost like a garden. The final stretch to the waterfall was over a rock strewn trail by the riverside. A hand full of people were leaving from the waterfall as we were hiking towards it, and by the time we got there we discovered we had the place all to ourselves! The waterfall was a beautiful cascade down the side of a rock cliff.

Beautiful flowers are everywhere, along with beautiful views and scents.

The waterfall!

It was about 1 pm by the time we arrived at the waterfall. We sat on some large rocks in the shade and ate some oranges we got from Sopi and other snacks we had packed, while enjoying view of the waterfall and river beside us. After our snack Anne-Marie and I started to head into the pool for a swim. Surprisingly Busby said he wasn't going to go swimming. After we called that he should come in, and he discovered it was deep enough to jump off a cliff into the pool, he couldn't resist.

Chris & Jonathan ready to jump!
Busby jumps in fine style.

Anne-Marie shows off the waterfall and pool.
After a much faster walk down the mountain, we arrived in town at about 3 pm, and started looking for other wood carvers to checkout their goods. The Marquesas are well known for their beautiful and detailed wood and bone carvings. The island of Fatu Hiva is especially unique since it doesn't have an airstrip and is only accessible by boat. Busby took us to Tava's house, an artist he had met the day before. Tava's had more carvings, of better quality and at a lower price than Sopi, and we enjoyed inspecting them. Then Anne-Marie found a tiki which was calling her name! A large pregnant tiki, holding it's belly which was engraved with the Marquesan cross, the same symbol that is in the middle of her turtle tattoo. The sticker on the bottom said about $180, but after some tough negotiating Anne-Marie got him down to $80 and some items off of the boat. We asked Tava to carve his initials and the year into the bottom of the tiki, and when we returned with the items from the boat, we discovered he had carved the year as 2014. Anne-Marie took this as a sign for when her own pregnancy will occur, and was very pleased.

Anne-Marie with her pregnant tiki and "2014" as we called him.

Another wood carver, Topi, saw us at Tava's house and waited outside to take us to see his own carvings. He also had a great selection of really impressive work! I was really keen on getting an elaborately carved bowl he had, but the price tag was around $300! After some really tough negotiation mediated by Busby, we got him down to the following:
  • 1 headlamp + 12 batteries
  • Books, pencils and other supplies for his kids
  • Lotion and decorative key chain for his wife
  • Fishing gear - 4 lures and some a few dozen hooks
  • $120
Without an airstrip, stuff often has more value than money when trading here, which has been handy for us.

Anne-Marie and I with Temo, our favorite artisan.

By about 5pm we were returning to the boat when we saw our friends from SV Nyon in the anchorage. We hadn't seem them since La Paz back in December and went over to pay them a visit. We invited them over for dinner to catch up, and Busby treated them to some delicious seared yellow fin tuna (which we caught a few days ago) and flambeed banana desert. It was great to catch up and hear how their crossing went. It's always nice to see a familiar face on the other side of the world in paradise.

Finally we settled down for the night at about 9 pm, as the wind started to pickup from the valley as it often does at night here. The wind sweeps down the steep cliffs and blows out to sea. The anchorage is a bit deep and falls steeply off into the sea, often causing problems for boats the don't anchor well. At 10 pm Anne-Marie awoke to the sound of an anchor windlass running, and got me up as well. We both poked our heads out the vberth hatch and observed as a boat directly upwind of us was hauling up their anchor and driving around in the dark. Their anchor had dragged and they needed to re-anchor in the bay. When they started to drop their anchor directly up wind of us, it became time to get dressed and pay particular attention to this boat. Moment's after getting on deck it was clear that where this boat was attempting to drop their anchor would result in them crashing right into us. Busby yelled something at them and I yelled we had 300 feet of scope out, finally he realized that he was in a bad position, but nearly too late! As we had been yelling, he had been getting blown towards us quite quickly, and he was now about a boat length to port (left), just ahead of our bow. By the time he got back to his helm and gunned the engine, his prop wash (the tendency of the propeller to initially spin the boat sideways before building forward momentum) sent his stern directly towards our bow! Busby and I were standing right at the bow of Starship, Busby pushed the other boat away as it swung inches away from our bow, and had to duck as the other boat's solar panels passed over our bow pulpit!

The other boat started to pickup their anchor for yet another attempt, when all of a sudden one could see there was a problem with getting the chain up. They had jammed their windlass somehow, and were now running ropes back to cockpit winches to try and get the anchor up. Anne-Marie in the meantime had gone to the stern and started to collect fenders in case of another close encounter. While the other boat was trying to unjam their windlass, they started to blow back on us again and Busby ran to the stern to get the fenders from Anne-Marie, telling her "They are coming again!!". Now the three of us were at the bow fenders in hand as again the other boat gunned their engine to get away from us! This time they passed about 5 feet in front of our bow, which we all agreed seemed like miles away compared to the last time.

During this whole ordeal the captain of the other boat was screaming obscenities and insults at his wife, the likes of which I wouldn't say to a dog which had bitten me. Meanwhile his wife like a deer in headlights, was terrified to do anything besides the orders so harshly shouted at her, and terrified even more about fulfilling those orders incorrectly. Finally they had managed to get their anchor on board, and went out of the anchorage to get this sorted out, giving us a much needed break from the chaos. We waited anxiously in the cockpit for their next attempt at anchoring, with the spreader lights on to ensure their was no confusion as to where we were in the anchorage. A half dozen other boats in the anchorage were also lit up having seen all the commotion. Finally the third time was a charm, they came in and dropped their anchor on our port side, such that they fell back safely downwind of us. Again we waited to be sure that they were not dragging and going to make another attempt, when at last their running lights were turned off and their anchor light turned on.

Anne-Marie said she had never been so terrified during the whole crossing, or our prior year of cruising, as that night with that dragging boat. Indeed it was certainly the closest call we have had while at anchor, and goes to show that even if you are doing everything right, the biggest danger may be your neighbor who isn't.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Loving this Place - Fakarava South

We've run out of fresh produce (except for an onion and grapefruit) our meals are getting pretty creative. Luckily we've still got canned fruit and vegetables that we've been using a lot. Just a few days ago I was thinking of our meals and it made me smile that we're eating so well...even with our lack of fresh stuff. Here was our menu:

Breakfast: homemade muffins and homemade yogurt
Lunch: hummus (thanks auntie Wow), crackers and our last 2 carrots
Dinner: fried fish, lentil stew and a slice of freshly baked bread

Busby has become quite the muffin master and makes them every few days. I'm still making yogurt and improving my break baking. Chris and Busby had a great first spearfishing expedition here. They brought back 2 grouper and a parrotfish, as well as all their fingers and toes. I was a bit nervous about them going spearfishing here because of all the sharks, but they got some good advice from some veteran spearfishers and had no problems.

We keep saying we're going to leave tomorrow for Fakarava North, but tomorrow never comes. Fakarava North has internet, fresh produce etc... that we need. But Fakarava South has the most amazing kiteboarding and snorkeling that we've ever we keep questioning if our "needs" are really more just "wants". There's also lots of little islands to explore with white sand beaches (perfect for yoga) and palm trees (perfect for hammocking). We're all just loving this place so much that it's really hard to leave! I wish I could share pictures of the brilliant colours of the water, the magnificent sharks, the flourescent mouthed clams and our smiling faces...but those will have to wait until we get to the Internet.

Love to all,

P.S. To prospective cruisers, the west side of the pass is a way better anchorage! It's calmer, you can anchor in sand and the beaches are amazing. The only downside is it's a longer dingy ride to the pass for snorkeling/diving.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fakarava South Pass, Tuamotus, FP

We have arrived at Fakarava South!

After a very fast paced but smooth sail, the first time Starship has averaged nearly 7 knots, we arrived at the south pass of Fakarava.

Luckily our friends from Cariba were already inside, and provided on the spot information regarding the current in the pass. It was a very hair raising experience, our first pass, coming in close to sunset so one could not see obstacles in the water well, and a large ocean swell causing havoc with the currents, but it all went smoothly and we are very happy to be anchored safely inside!

Anne-Marie already saw her first shark and looks forward to getting up close and personal with them in the water tomorrow...eeek! The snorkeling here is supposed to be amazing. We can't wait!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

We are on the move again!

After so long of being anchored or doing short day hops around the Marquesas, it takes a little time to get used to being underway.

Today for example I was preparing a bowl of cereal for myself, an easy enough task at anchor, but we were in some pretty lumpy seas causing the boat to roll hard once in a while. Luckily we have bowls with rubber grips on the bottom, which hold the bowl still under all but the most extreme conditions.

So there I was with my bowl of cereal secure on the counter, topped off with milk, about to put the milk away, when a big roll comes and I hang on to the milk and the boat. Finally the rubber grips on the bowl gives way, and I watch helplessly as it slides across the counter, rams into the cupboards, and deposits half of my cereal onto the cupboard doors and counter top! Milk and cereal is all over the counter and the tracks which our cupboard doors slide in. After some harsh words with the bowl I place it back upright, shovel in as much cereal as I can salvage, and place it back on the counter, this time between the fridge lid and the sink, which creates a slight trough that I felt would surely secure the bowl.

I went about cleaning up the milk and bits of cereal which were everywhere. I removed the cupboard doors to clean out the milk in the sliding tracks. This exposed a wall of canned goods which wobbled precariously as the boat rolled, but they seemed stable enough. Then, just as I was almost finished with the cleanup, another big roll and I watch in amazement as the bowl hops out of the trough, onto the fridge lid and slides into the cupboard doors 1 foot to the right of the one's I had almost finished cleaning! Again depositing cereal and milk all over the place.
This time, I came to my senses and after shoveling up the cereal again, I put the bowl down on the gimballed stove top which I should have done in the first place!

Now I had more mess to cleanup, as the milk had managed to make it's way under the fridge lid and onto the top shelf. So I start taking things off the shelf and placing them on the counter ... a second later better judgment hits me and I start placing things on the gimballed stove top, I'm learning ... (It was early in the morning and I didn't sleep much, so I think I deserve a break on that one) ... The cleanup is going well and I go and grab some bleach and start giving everything the final wipe down when another big roll hits, and a canned good falls out of the opened cupboard behind the stove. That will have to wait until we arrive in the Tuamotus to be retrieved.

Finally, with everything cleaned up, cupboard doors back in place, fridge shelf cleaned and restocked, I filled up my bowl of salvaged cereal with some more milk and went into the cockpit to enjoy my now very soggy cereal.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stuck in Paradise

Sometimes life is tough while cruising. Like now for instance, we are stuck in arguably the most beautiful anchorage in the world, and can't move on to the lowest islands in the world (the Tuamotus) because of bad weather. I'm sure you are all playing the world's tiniest violin for our plight.

We have been at Fatu Hiva now for a little over a week. It has been quite an amazing place that's for sure, and I have a blog post with picture about it ready to go as soon as we get to someplace with internet. Right now though there is a weather system between us and the Tuamotus causing squalls, thunderstorms and otherwise very light winds. It looks like the weather might improve towards the end of the week and we can make our escape.