News from Tahiti

At long last, an update from Karaka… it’s been an epic year and I have been seriously slacking on posting updates and sending news to friends. I guess I have a decent excuse, not only we were on an ongoing intense adventure for most of that time and also there was no or limited internet connection for most of it… anyway, for those who didn’t follow, I’ll start from the beginning, which was around may when we left from Panama… so sit down and get comfy, it is going to be fairly long… hopefully the photos will make it easier to digest… to keep it short I will skip the crew antics and will merely describe our travels…

We stayed several weeks in panama city, despite the polluted harbor and frantic city, as we were working hard to get the boat as shipshape as possible while waiting for the new mainsail.

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Las perlas, Panama

We managed to squeeze some quality time in the perlas islands but mostly we had a long wait in the city. Too long actually, the main sail got delayed, and the crew was getting restless… luckily there were plenty of couchsurfers and friends to keep us busy partying and socializing. Most of the crew did get to help on some canal crossing on some other boats.

Pam and Elena, finding time dragging on in panama city

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Late night jam session, Panama city

We finally managed to get going around mid may after the new sails arrived. Happy captain with a brand new main sail

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On board were still zack and steve, with the remainder being newcomers: pam, louis elena and michaela, making a total of seven. After a few days in the perlas again, we left on the 20 of may. We had no intentions of stopping anywhere before french polynesia, as we were already super late and everybody wanted to spend as much time in the islands as possible. We decided not to go to ecuador after all, and not to stop in the galapagos, mostly because the formalities there are prohibitive and expensive. The trip took 54 days, and that’s a long time at sea… for the details of the trip, you can read zack’s account of it on this link:

http://zackkruzins.com/2013/07/31/54-days-at-sea-4798-nautical-miles-panama-to-french-polynesia/

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Once in the marquesas, we went exploring several islands, while the crew took the opportunity to leave the boat and travel inland and get to know locals. I’m sorry if you are still reading this and would like details, I really can’t be fucked writing everything down… Anyway, in the marquesas we had some good and bad times, good because the place is amazing and the people friendly, and bad because the anchorages are really dodgy and by then there was some tension between the crew. It was pretty intense but I think everybody kept a memorable experience of it.

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Hakaui valley, nuku hiva.

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Hakaui village, nuku hiva

Marquesas landscape

Zack and louis meeting some local girls at a traditional dancing event.

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Karaka anchored in hakatea, nuku hiva.

Three of the crew decided to leave us from in the marquesas. Elena joined another boat, pam hooked up with a local guy and went to live with him for the remainder of her visa duration, and louis decided to stay on nuku hiva as well to hang out with a local family, in order to learn the culture and especially how to hunt in the mountains. So we left only four of us around the middle of august for the atoll of fakarava, where we were to meet up with kim. She flew in from australia. The sail down was wonderful, with near perfect conditions the whole way. The most pleasant passage on karaka for a long long time.

So we picked up kim and cruised the atoll for 3 weeks, taking it easy, diving and kayaking a lot. The place was incredible, but due to the short time we had before flights were due down in tahiti, we decided to limit ourselves to one atoll only. It was pretty magic anyway. I hope the photos are enough of a description.

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South side of fakarava, tuamotus

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We left fakarava for tahiti on the 6 of september and arrived in papeete on the morning of the 9 . We anchored on the west side of the island in front of the local marina. Tahiti is much more developed than the other islands we visited, so it was a bit of a shock after all this time out, but we adapted quickly to the french supplied supermarkets, abundance of fresh food and hectic way of life. We had a nice party for my birthday on the 11 , and went surfing hung over the next day with some couchsurfers from the galapagos. There is a pass called taapuna just a mile or so south of where we are anchored, with a decent reef break there. The surf is a bit scary as the waves are super fast and steep, sometimes barreling, the water is really clear and shallow, and so falling means being slammed on the coral. It makes you think twice about launching… the locals don’t think twice about it, but for someone used to easy point breaks in central america, this wave is a bit of a challenge. We also went to explore the island a bit, going hiking in the interior.

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So that is pretty much it for the trip… michaela left on the 13 , and steve and zack went to explore on land while we spent some time alone with kim. Kim has a job lined up in australia/new zealand guiding tours, and so she flew back on the 20 . We’re not entirely sure what the future reserves for us, she will try to come back whenever she can but due to the distances and the obligations she has back home, it might not be for a while…

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as of now I am on my own on the boat. Steve came back for a few days and that was lucky as he helped me out when the anchor dragged one morning. The boat is now tied to a marina mooring, which is safer while I’m on my own. I have transmission problems still, they have been recurring ever since mexico. During the crossing I managed to locate the problem but not to fix it and so my only option was to engage the transmission into emergency mode, meaning engaging a gear inside it that overtake the clutch, leaving the gearbox in forward mode always. There is no way to put the boat in neutral or reverse. It enables us to motor if we need to, but makes it awkward to do maneuvers such as anchoring or docking. For the past week I have been cleaning the boat up, going through every locker and compartment, taking trash out, vacuuming and eliminating cockroach nests. I’m facing a major cockroach infestation, and so cleaning is essential to get rid of them. Zack and steve are on the nearby island of moorea at the moment, exploring and trying to find another boat to take them further west. Zack will come back on monday to help me take karaka to moorea, about 20 miles away. There I will find a secure anchorage and settle down for the next few months. I had a plan to make a tour of the islands here this fall with a band I met in costa rica, but it fell through as we didn’t have the opportunity to organize it properly while we were at sea. The band is facing the high costs of flying in also, as well as visa issues, so we will try to make it happen next year instead. Check them out on line, their name is: los yukas. The polynesian authorities will let me stay here for up to 18 months before I have to worry about boat importation and other formalities, and so I plan on staying here until the end of 2014. I really have no idea what I will be up to after that. So for now I will relocate to moorea, and hole up in one of the spectacular bays there until february or so.

I will have the boat for myself, taking it easy, going surfing, fishing, kayaking and hiking, as well as making the boat shipshape… I still haven’t repainted the deck after the boatyard in mexico and it is really due now. I will also take care of a long list of other jobs. The cyclone season will start in november and should last until march/april. Cyclones are rare around here but it happens and when it does it is usually pretty violent, so I need to be in a safe spot for that, and moorea , beside being one of the nicest island of the group, is a safe anchorage. My parents will come to visit at the end of the year, and maybe some friends as well. As for after that, I am not fully decided yet. My main plan is to gather a solid crew at the beginning of the year, and take off as soon as it is safe to make a grand tour or french polynesia, visiting as many of the remote islands as possible, possibly gathering data for a cruising guide, but mostly enjoying the diversity and richness of the area. Another thing being discussed is to help Karaka’s friend tara in buying a boat in california, sail across the pacific and resale it in australia. Kim would be part of the trip. We’re not sure yet if the endeavor is worth it in the current market, we don’t want to waste time fixing a boat and we don’t want to lose money either, but there is a chance we could do it quick and make some profit while having a nice trip. Some extra funds would be very welcome as french polynesia is a very expensive place. So we are looking into it. In all cases there are still several months until we could do that so for now, some quite times in moorea for me…

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