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25 March 04

Kathy's journal notes, continued:

Amanda communicationg with dolphins in the pass to Bora Bora lagoon.
Watching dolphins in the Bora Bora pass

Thursday March 25, our last full day on the Ocelot.  We awakened to a sunrise with a good west wind -- just right to sail to Raiatea.  It took a bit of verbal juggling to discover that everybody was happy to spend the day taking advantage of the wind -- Jon and Sue seemed to fear that Kathy and Pam would feel they were missing something by leaving Bora Bora.  Jon had planned to sail to Raiatea as soon as Pam & Kathy left anyway, and was eager to take advantage of the perfect (and very unusual) sailing conditions -- good west winds, sunny weather -- that weren't predicted to last.  The weather radio was predicting high winds and heavy rain.  Raiatea had two advantages over Bora Bora: more shelter from the high winds and more plentiful parts and supplies for repairing and maintaining Ocelot before the trip to Tonga later in the spring.  Kathy likes being out on the ocean and had long wanted to experience an ocean sail.  Pam was eager, except for some worry about seasickness, but Sue had pills, a pressure bracelet, and candied ginger to combat it.  The kids seemed game for a change of scenery.

Bora Bora, as seen from Raiatea and its reef.
Bora Bora, as seen from Raiatea and its reef

After breakfast, we got everything ready -- closed the hatches, put all the deck detritus away.  We motored to the reef opening, with Sue, Chris, and Amanda putting the main sail up -- so it was ready to go when we got out of the lagoon.  We were followed by another sailboat that didn't put its sail up until out of the lagoon, a practice that made Jon shake his head.

As we got close to the opening, we were joined by spinner dolphins.  We saw one in front of us leap out of the water and spin around.  Others swam very close to the front of the Ocelot, clearly playing with it.  Outside the reef, the crew unrolled the jib.  We also saw a big dolphin, probably a bottle nose.  We tried to fish but didn't catch anything.  We started making 7-8 knots toward Raiatea, about 13 miles away.  No seasickness, although we did enjoy a piece or two of the candied ginger anyway (and Pam and Kathy had taken prophylactic pills).

Another great lunch, served in the cool of the cockpit.
Another great lunch in the cool of the cockpit

We entered the atoll around 1:30, anchoring close to the channel for lunch -- hot fresh bread and brie and sliced red onions.  That was a new one for Kathy -- it was surprising how good the onions tasted with the Brie.  We snorkeled around the coral heads close to the Ocelot.  Kathy figured later that if she'd known it was the last time, she would have stayed in the water longer, but it was very choppy and hard to see since the water was cloudy.

Kathy, engaged in conversation in the evening.
Kathy, engaged in evening conversation

Next we looked for a place to anchor Ocelot out of the way of the expected winds.  That turned out to be surprisingly difficult.  The little bays we entered were either too deep to anchor, or had coral bottoms, which is much harder to anchor in securely than sand.  In one bay, there was a startling drop off -- we'd get within 30 feet (my guess) of where we could see piers and other structures clearly founded on the bottom, and still have 80-100 foot depth readings.  We finally anchored on coral on the east shore of Raiatea, crossing our fingers that it would hold.  Conditions weren't right for snorkeling again, so we cleaned up and prepared for our last evening.  Jon and Amanda opened a coconut and Sue fixed coconut popcorn -- centimeter cubes of coconut meat cooked in oil.  They did taste astoundingly like buttered popcorn, only better.  Sue and Kathy played UpWords -- clearly a better game for Kathy's impatient nature than Scrabble since all the turns happened faster.  Amanda fixed tuna and coleslaw for dinner, and Jon opened a bottle of Rothschild Merlot that turned out to be ... harsh.  (Ed tells me that the California Rothschild's are a bit iffy).  Sue did taxes for Kathy and Pam to mail back in the states, Pam and Kathy packed, Neil called on the satellite phone, and Jon got news that the water desalinator could be fixed on board, but did not get directions.

Then it started raining HARD -- so no open deck hatches for nighttime breezes.

One memory that doesn't attach to any particular day is the sound of Amanda down in her cabin playing the guitar and singing.  To Kathy it was a bit spooky since she sang some of the same songs that Sue sang long ago, including one of Kathy's sharp memories of Sue singing the "aribe aribe" song sitting on Kathy's dorm bed in the high rise dormitory at UNC in Chapel Hill in July 1973.  Sue, I'll bet you didn't know what a long memory that would make.

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