Return to the Wild – the Fogleator is back…..!

It has been my great pleasure this week to welcome back Ben Fogle and the team for another visit.  

Back in 2015, Ben Fogle and the team spent a couple of weeks on board Calypso to get a taste of the sea gypsy lifestyle in the remote Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia for an episode of the popular TV show New Lives in the Wild. 

Filming ‘New Lives in the Wild’ with Ben Fogle in the Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia, 2015

This week, Ben and the team flew out to the far less remote islands of Fiji for a brief visit to catch up with the exploits of Calypso (now Calypso II, see here) to find out what has changed in the lifestyle of this particular watery wanderer and to shoot some footage for  Return to the Wild –  a kind of  “where is he now?” section which will be weaved into the original documentary (in place of the less interesting parts) and re-broadcast under the new title.

The smiles are back as we pick up on the theme of general silliness in Fiji, 2019

Despite the brevity of the visit, it was heaps of fun. I hit it off really well with Ben and the crew last time, so it was a great reunion with lots of silliness and general piss-taking.  The weather was totally uncooperative, but the actual vibe was great, so hopefully that will come across in the edit even if the beauty of Fiji does not get the recognition it thoroughly deserves in reality. 

I don’t have the broadcast dates yet, but I will publish them as soon as they are available.

Blue Skies and Massive Hugs to Everyone!

Captain Rick ‘Well Fishy’ Page 
Calypso II
Fiji

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Anyone fancy the trip to Fortuna?

Anyone fancy joining me and one other for the trip from Fiji to Fortuna and back? Leaving the end of the month/early June and should take about 3 weeks or so and be quite good fun. 

  • Leaving Fiji at the end of the month/ early June and making the 3 day passage to Fortuna
  • Having a wee explore and returning to Fiji via some of the legendary Lau Islands (weather permitting).  If you are interested, have a read of this and get in touch .  See you out there!
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All change at Sailing Calypso!

Calypso has been sold! 

Actually, she was sold over 18 months ago but the new owner kept me waiting for a while, eventually taking over back in September.  Sorry to be so tardy in posting, but the sale of the boat was all wrapped up with Jasna’s rather unforseen behaviour which ultimately lead to our separation, so I didn’t feel like writing about it (or anything else) for a while – at least until I had something positive to say and now I do….!

Calyps0 II – an Island Packet 38

I know, I know, she looks very similar to the first Calypso (even the same beige colour)  but that is a good thing because there was much to like about Calypso  and I have not fundamentally changed my philosophy as to what constitutes a good voyaging boat as the laws of physics have not changed.  Calypso II still has the necessities of a good voyaging boat as laid out in Get Real, Get Gone and embodied by the original Calypso (and Marutji before her). Namely:

  • A decent, long keel (integral in this case)
  • A fully supported rudder (No dreaded spade rudders, ever!)
  • A heavy lay up – built to get you there, not win races
  • Small, tough portholes
  • Strong rigging and sails
  • Relatively short, sturdy mast
  • The ability to heave-to quietly in foul weather so I can watch Downton Abbey on the BBC iplayer

Calypso II also has some other things that I would recommend to other voyagers.

  • Less external wood.  I know it looks lovely, but at least half my maintenance time  on Calypso was taken up with keeping the wood nice and insect-free.  If you ignore that task in the tropics, then trouble will soon follow.
  • Oversized rigging and chainplates.  In 2014, the nice chaps at Port Townsend  Rigging whipped out the old chain plates and replaced them with a heavy duty version and did the same to the entire rig.  Gives one a great deal of confidence.
  • Monitor Windvane.   Don’t get me wrong, any windvane is an improvement on an

    Photo courtesy of Scanmar

    electric autopilot and they all work their magic.  Yet only Monitor (and some Aries models. Hydrovanes too, but they are not servo type systems) have solved the ‘big wave problem’.  This is where a big wave slides under the boat and knocks the servo blade out of the water so it is no longer steering the boat. Our Cape Horn on Calypso (although a fantastic system in many ways) was vulnerable to that, as iare all the others). Monitor’s stainless cage prevents that from happening – it weighs a bit more than others, but it is good to know that it will continue to steer in all conditions particularly as it would seem that (however unplanned) some solo sailing is likely to feature in my future.

  • Hard Sailing/Rowing Tender Say goodbye to the endless bullshit that comes with dinghy/outboard maintenance and have a heap of fun too.  Also serves as my sail training vessel for new crew.  A much easier and fun way to teach the basics  – chuck the new crew out with a copy of “sailing for dummies” and go and have a beer.  A great trolling vessel too because you can scoot quietly across the water dragging a lure at a decent speed under sail alone which doesn’t scare the fish off.  You can really fight with the bigger ones too as there is no possibility of holing your dinghy landing any fish that is less than keen about becoming lunch.  Say goodbye to hunger and boredom and much expensive maintenance all in one go.

    Calypso ll is fairly similar to Calypso with the long keel and fully protected rudder. However, the cutaway forefoot dramatically improves her close quarters handling – I actually came into a marina in reverse (solo) without peeing myself – something one could never have hoped to do in most long keelers – including Calypso.

Having said all the above, we did not start the complicated process of selling a boat we knew (and immersing ourselves into the heavily mined arena of buying one we did not) for any of the above reasons.  The motivation came principally from the desire to accommodate the many readers who contacted us asking if they could join the boat for a while and get a bit of a taste for the lifestyle.  We did try it a few times with Calypso, but she was just too small.  So we set out to look for a boat that  was about the same size overall as Calypso but had an aft cabin and better interior volume, but did not sacrifice any sea-going ability to achieve it.  A very tall order indeed!  The Island Packet 38 turned out be a very good answer to this problem. Whilst less than a foot longer (LOA) than Calypso, she has excellent interior volume with two decent sized cabins and voluminous storage.  In other words, all the advantages of a charter yoghurt pot but with top of the line build quality,

The real cause of the overheating – corrosion in the heat exchanger/manifold allows the coolant to mix with the exhaust gasses and be expelled out the back of the boat with the raw water/exhaust cocktail. If you are losing coolant and there is no obvious leak, this is usually where it is going.

The aft cabin can fit two singles or can be turned into a romantic double with the addition of a centre infill piece.  The forward Pullman berth  is truly the most comfy bed I have ever slept in. The forward head has been removed and turned into a man-cave. Oh yes!  how many sailors are lucky enough to have their own man-cave!  A second head is rather excessive on a small boat and the man-cave means that all my tools, gooey stuff and fasteners are all in the same place rather than strewn out all over the boat getting lost and pissing off my partner (should I ever be of a mood for another) as grease and oil finds its way into the potatoes and clothes.  I am still sorting it out and I wish to add a permanent vice, stand drill and grind wheel, but it is a real life -changer. Makes me smile just looking at it :).

Generally, the bones of the boat were in excellent shape, but she had been neglected for long enough to make her a bit of a bargain.  The gel coat had gone dull and chalky, the windlass and one furler had seized and the varnish was peeling off exactly to the extent that it was difficult to remove and impossible to repair.  The overheating problem in the engine had been cured by removing the wires from the temperature alarm. (sometimes known as the “Hillbilly Tune-Up”) and the head was leaking and making the boat smell like the toilets at Milwall Football Club.  This of course was my first job and proved fairly easy to repair and then I moved on to all the others in more fragrant surroundings.

Restoring the chalky gel coat with the help of these wonderful fun-lovin guys……

……Kelly (1) Kelly (2) and Peter. Hard to imagine nicer guys

With the help of three really funny Fijian guys, I have now removed every single scrap of varnish from the exterior of the boat and I will be replacing it with nothing.  Teak loves salt air and sunshine and leaving it bare reduces the maintenance significantly in the tropics.

I have been slowing going through the boat stem to stern and fixing whatever I don’t like and cataloging the enormous amount of spares the previous owner was kind enough to leave me with (thanks Daryl!) but generally speaking I am absolutely amazed with the build quality and presence of mind that Island Packet put into these boats – almost every time I think “wouldn’t if be a good idea if…” Island Packet seem to have already done it.  

 

Easy to singlehand – simple and predictable.

She is a delight to sail and surprisingly close-winded fro a long keeler.  Johnny (friend visiting from Tonga) and I were amazed how smartly she tacked and at tight angles that were beyond anything I had hoped for (certainly much closer winded than Calypso).

So my friends!  In a few weeks I will be ready to sail.  I am not yet feeling up to inviting any readers on board at the moment though.  This forum is not really the place to discuss what happened between me and Jasna, but suffice it to say, the more you trust somebody, the greater the pain of betrayal , so I doubt I would make the best company.  But I look forward to meeting you all out here later in the year when I have (inevitably) bounced back a bit and am closer to my usual fluffy, fun-loving self!   Despite upgrading the boat, I will still be running on a ‘not for profit’ basis so I expect a decent bottle of wine (or two bottles of cheap Londis plonk)!

As always, any questions  stick them below in the comments.

Cheers Everyone and Fair Winds to All!

Rick 

Calypso II

Fiji

 
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Get Real, Get Gone – now available in German!

Nr. 1 Bestseller jetzt auch auf Deutsch erhältlich !!

As promised, Get Real, Get Gone  is now available in German.  You can download the ebook or order the paperback here. Coming soon… Spanish, French and Portuguese!

‘Denke nicht einmal daran ein Boot zu kaufen, bis du dieses Buch gelesen hast’ Tom Cunliffe (legendärer Segler und Autor von The Complete Yachtmaster). 

Der Gedanke, dass man reich sein muss, um auf seiner eigenen Yacht die Welt zu bereisen, ist so weitverbreitet, dass er größtenteils nicht hinterfragt wird. Die allgegenwärtigen Bilder von Martini-schlürfenden reichen Männern auf Superyachten festigen diese Vorstellung nur noch mehr. Dieses Buch hofft, all das zu ändern. Rick und Jasnas kürzliches Erscheinen in Ben Fogles ‚New Lives in the Wild’* zeigte ihren kostengünstigen Lebensstil und ihre Abenteuer an Bord der Calypso und stellte die Idee des Segelns auf geringem Budget einem ganz neuen Publikum vor – einem Publikum, welches es vielleicht niemals in Erwägung gezogen hätte, dass ein solcher Traum in der Realität mit nur so wenig finanziellen Mitteln umgesetzt werden könnte. Dieses Buch ist für sie und für alle erfahrenen Segler, die sich vom Joch des konsumorientierten Segelns befreien wollen und sich darauf zurückbesinnen möchten, was auf See wirklich wichtig ist…

Fair winds everybody – Guten Wind und eine ruhige See!

Cheers/Prost!

Rick  🙂

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The Boatyard Vava’u, Tonga

All boat owners share the same two desires when they haul out:

  1. Get your stuff done
  2. Get back in the water

Boatyards are pretty much a means to an end and certainly not a place to linger if your psychological or financial health are important to you.

The Boatyard Vava'u

Boats safely stored for the cyclone season in the Boatyard Vava’u

 

So when we hauled out at the boatyard in Vava’u, we were surprised to find that once we had got the essentials done (new engine and antifouling) that we were in no desperate hurry to get back in the water.

Sure, we were not going to dawdle there forever (after all, there are no free days) but the people who run that boatyard had made the experience so pleasant that we found ourselves in the rare position of not actually being desperate to leave.

 

Jasna checking the sails in the Boatyard Vava'u

Unusually for a boatyard, there is plenty of loan to spread out the sails

The boatyard guys get creative - lowering the engine down to Rick gearbox first

The boatyard guys get creative – lowering the engine down to Rick gearbox first

The carpenter Cyril trying out his last masterpiece - a boat shaped cradle

The carpenter Cyril trying out his last masterpiece – a boat shaped cradle

Jasna getting help sanding the windlass

Jasna getting help sanding the windlass

There is very good snorkeling just off the boat ramp

There is very good snorkeling just off the boat ramp

The Boatyard Vava’u in Tonga is owned and run by two couples – one Brit and one South African – and despite being open a mere 2 years is certainly the nicest boatyard we have ever hauled in.

Set on a lush green lawn in the lee of a mountain, the idyllic setting is complimented by a good little chandlery and that rarest of boatyard beasts, the hot shower.

For those that prefer not to get dirty, there are great services here too – mechanics, carpenters, painters, sanders and fibreglass experts. But what makes this little corner of paradise truly special is the helpful nature of everybody there.  Not once did we even get a hint of the ‘don’t bother me’ attitude that is increasingly common in such places.

The secret of their success lies in their background. The owners (Joe, Kate, Al and Bo) all arrived here under sail  – their boats are hauled out in the yard. Their previous experience as boatyard customers means they know exactly what a sailor needs and the conditions we are operating under.  While landlubber tradesmen might lose patience with the inevitable barrage of questions that arrive with every new sailor, these guys have not forgotten what it is like to be constantly attempting the impossible in an environment so unfamiliar you don’t even know where to buy a pencil.

So a big thank you to Vava’u Boatyard for introducing us to a rare experience – being slightly sad to go back in the water.

 

Us with The Boatyard Vava'u Crew

Us with The Boatyard Vava’u Crew

Click below to watch a short video of us hauling out in Tonga.

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Donald Crowhurst – a true sailing icon

mercyFifty years and gallons of ink have passed since the first Golden Globe Single Handed Around the World Race and to coincide with this anniversary, Hollywood is releasing a film about one of the competitors and a personal hero of mine – the little known and often overlooked sailor Donald Crowhurst.  The film is not on release yet, so it is not possible to predict how the LA movie industry will portray this often maligned sailor, so before they get their say, I would like mine.

I have never been much of a hero worshiper.  I remember watching Superman as a kid and being singularly unimpressed – what courage does it take to stand up to a bullet if you know it is going to bounce harmlessly off your oversized red pants?  What courage is required to leap between buildings if you know that you can just fly off into the sunset if you cock it up?  I feel a similar ambivalence towards the sailing supermen.  The Moitessiers and Knox-Johnsons of the world seem to have been blessed with superpowers and a mental robustness that are not granted to the rest of us.  There is no doubt that they are great adventurers and sailors, but I have always been more interested in what the ordinary guy like myself can do – not what is achievable by the physically and mentally gifted.

One’s relationship with supermen is always doomed to a, ‘well it’s OK for you’ type of passivity, but when you meet somebody ordinary who is living an extraordinary life, your thoughts are likely to be more inspirational.

‘Well if they can do it’ we think to ourselves, ‘why not me?’

Yes, I have lead and continue to lead, an adventurous life but those people that have inspired me were not supermen, but ordinary, human, fallible beings. Of course, when one is surfing the edges of what is achievable by ordinary men and women, there is a danger that we may drift into the arena of the over-confident and overestimate our own abilities or (perhaps less forgivably) underestimate the dangers that face us. We may bite off more than we can chew.

We are amply assisted in this process by the ‘just do it’ mentality of the advertising world and the ‘you go girl’ attitude of the philosophically challenged who seem to dwell in increasingly regrettable numbers on social media.  With growing  predictability, nearly every sailing blog carries this quote from Mark Twain.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Apart from being an extraordinarily long winded and prescient way of repeating the rather banal Nike mantra, the implication of course is that you will regret inaction more than action and (by extension) that whatever you do you won’t regret.

This is singularly untrue on an ocean that is largely indifferent to your plans for self-actualisation.  There are thousands of people who have put to sea without experience on unsuitable boats who deeply regret it.  Many carry the heavy burden of guilt and sorrow for the lost lives of loved ones and crew, even more have been bankrupted or traumatised by the experience. Innumerable relationships have been destroyed.

 Donald Crowhurst on board the Teignmouth Electron. The boat was discovered unmanned in July 1969. Photograph: Eric Tall/Getty Images

Donald Crowhurst on board the Teignmouth Electron. Photograph: Eric Tall/Getty Images

Sometimes then, the world needs a different type of hero – one that shows our fallibility, not adds to our over-confidence. Donald Crowhurst was such a man – unassuming, quiet and utterly ordinary. One of the entrants in the original Golden Globe Single Handed Around the world Race in 1968, the inexperienced Crowhurst set off on a wholly inappropriate, untested boat and paid the ultimate price.

As the entrants prepared for the race, legendary sailor Bernard Moitessier (a genuine superman if there ever was one) commented that,

 “Anyone who attempts this for any other reason than the joy of it, will get his neck broken.”

And he was right.  Donald Crowhurst, a weekend sailor at best, was no lover of the sea. He wanted to be special. He wanted the same type of accolades that had so recently been bestowed upon Sir Francis Chichester, he wanted to make a name for himself and to promote his fledgling electronic navigation company.  He was certainly not inspired by the pure joy of being ‘out there’. When it became obvious that all his hi-tech gizmos were not going to be any substitute for a strong boat and the increasingly undervalued asset of hard-won experience, rather than give up (and face bankruptcy) he decided to cheat by hanging out in the South Atlantic and waiting several months for the fleet to sail around the world, whereupon he would quietly slip in behind the tail-end charlie and return to the UK. Perhaps not to a hero’s welcome, but a respectable showing nevertheless.

But the fragile and fallible human mind had other ideas. Trapped in the South Atlantic for endless months of solitude and guilt, he eventually killed himself rather than face possible exposure.

Crowhurst reminded us that there are caveats to the idea that ‘anyone can sail around the world’.  He reminded us just how lonesome it is out there and how quickly things can go south – particularly hi-tech electronics that tend to fail at the earliest exposure to salt water.  Crowhurst believed the secret of his success would be untested technology and this philosophy was exposed in the most tragic way.

Tacita Dean, ‘Teignmouth Electron’ from the series Disappearance at Sea, 1999

Donald’s trimaran ‘Teignmouth Electron’ was found adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in 1969 / from the series Disappearance at Sea, 1999, by Tacita Dean

The death of Donald Crowhurst raised the game of those who came later – reminding thousands of sailors of the value of a sturdy, tested design and of experience gained the hard way, rather than imbibed second hand or bought at the boat show. The death of  Donald Crowhurst scared many people into doing the right thing. It is hard to estimate how many lives he saved this way. Donald Crowhurst was a brave, often maligned, example of the fragility of human nature and the vastness of the sea.  It was a message that needed to be heard, and still needs to be heard today.

In the fifty years since, Crowhurst’s lesson seems to have been increasingly drowned out by the consumerism that has taken over the marine world.  It makes good marketing sense to portray sailing around the world as simple – as long as you have the huge amounts of electronic gadgets that the salesmen are all too happy to charge to your card. And once again, people with little experience are hitting the sea with unsuitable, lightly-built boats bristling with electronic gizmos as a surrogate to seaworthiness. With increasing regularity, inappropriate boats are failing or grounding on reefs or sinking due to a combination of lack of good sea keeping and over reliance on electronic toys (see my article in the November 2017 issue of Cruising Helmsman for more detail. You can download this here)

Perhaps the most worrisome group are the ‘Bucket Listers’.  Increasingly, rich retirees with little sailing experience set off ‘around the world’ in the belief that this will give their life a meaning that it previously lacked.  That may seem like a good idea to you, but remember what Moitessier said.  The sea is completely oblivious to you and your needs.  It does not care that you feel that your life lacks meaning. Imposing your agenda on the sea is exactly the kind of hubris that got Crowhurst killed.

While I believe that we are all capable of more than we think we are, Donald Crowhurst will always remain my sailing hero because he reminds us that there are limits.  This was an important message fifty years ago and a particularly important message now in the age of Facebook where encouraging caution and preparation is too often portrayed as ‘pissing on somebody else’s dreams’.

Donald Crowhurst lost his life showing the rest of us where the line between dreams and fantasies is and his example has injected a bit of well needed reality into an increasingly sloganized narrative that was beginning to make ‘exploring the trade winds’ sound too much like an easily purchased panacea to all modern ills.

The world owes Donald Crowhurst a great debt.

Frame from the movie Deepwater

Donald Crowhurst / Frame from the movie Deepwater

 

*The film The Mercy stars Colin Firth as Donald Crowhurst and goes on general release Feb 2018.

 

Further reading:

A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols 

 

The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall 

Watch:

Deep Water by Louise Ormond.  An excellent documentary with much original footage.  Notoriously publicity shy, the director has managed to involve the  Crowhurst family in the narrative which gives her portrayal a sympathy that is often lacking in other accounts. 

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Never too old

The sea gypsy community is packed with odd, interesting life stories.

There are many unusual sailors out there and this is the story of one of them.

Tilly's Birthday

It was a spring day in the Netherlands and the sun warmed the air just enough for the party to be held outdoors. It was a big day,  Granma Tilly was celebrating her 90th Birthday!

 

As life goes, Tilly now needed some help with the everyday tasks and her son Humberto decided to leave his little sailing boat El Holandes Errante at anchor in Fiji and join her in Europe. After not too long she commented:

“I know you are much happier when you are in the South Pacific. Why don’t we go there?”

“Mum, my boat is waaay too small for the both of us.”

“Well, then I will sell my house and we will buy a bigger boat!”

After a few moments of hesitation Humberto realized that she was serious. She had never stepped foot on a boat before, but now she wanted to live aboard in the South Pacific!

And so they did it. Humberto showed her a few candidates and she picked their new boat, a St. Francis 44 catamaran.

They sailed from the Caribbean through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific. Tilly’s first ocean crossing took 45 days due to no wind, but she did not complain.

Superbabica in wahoo

She experienced many new things and was suddenly getting younger by the day.
Tilly and HumbertoTilly made many new friends, both in the Sea Gypsy community and on the islands they visited.

DSCF9449

IMG_20170526_142447

She adapted very well to the life on the sea, also thanks to Humberto, who made some modifications to make her life easier.

IMG_1219 (2)

Tilly’s elevator

See how Tilly’s cool elevator worksDSCF0108

It was interesting to listen to many of her stories, including a grounding in Tahiti when she was alone aboard. She really seems to be without a care in the world. She also explained why:

“All my life I took care of other people. Now finally someone is taking care of me. I love it.”

Tilly just recently celebrated her 91st Birthday, this time on a passage between Beveridge Reef and Tonga.  She definitely does not look one year older, maybe 20 years younger!

Tilly before and after

Tilly at 90                                            Tilly at 91

We met her and Humberto in Neiafu, Vava’u. They impressed us as happy and charismatic people, the kind of people that make our sailing community so very special.

They are now sailing around Fiji where Tilly is spending her days drinking fresh coconuts in turquoise lagoons. What a great way to live in retirement!

She made me think of one of my favourite quotes:

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Hunter S.Thompson

You can follow Tilly’s and Humberto’s journey on their Youtube channel or check out Humberto’s website.

Tilly enjoying Bora Bora

Tilly enjoying life in Bora Bora

 

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Do you suffer from MIAS? A simple self-test

Are you suffering from M.I.A.S (Musical Instrument Acquisition Syndrome)?Music aboard

Already a serious illness that affects millions worldwide, MIAS sufferers who live in small spaces are doubly at risk as their increasing instrument and associated supplies (reeds, strings, manuscripts, bongs, etc) start to displace essential stores leading to malnourishment and vitamin deficiency.

So, how do you know if you are suffering from MIAS or simply have, ‘a lot of shit’.  Try this simple self-test.

Examine the formula below:

H= n+1

(where H= happiness measured in grins, and n= number of musical instruments currently owned)

If the above formula makes perfect sense to you then you are suffering from MIAS and should seek immediate medical attention or a larger boat.

Rick playing ukelele

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Moorea – Hollywood’s Backdrop

Mo'orea

Mo’orea

When I was told that Moorea was the filming location for both South Pacific and Jurassic Park, I was torn between the desire to see how a landscape could be so contradictory and the very real fear of being torn to shreds by a gay velociraptor.

Cooks Bay

Sailing into Cooks Bay

In fact the beauty of Moorea encompasses both the light-hearted musicality of the former and the dark mystery of the latter.  Wafting palms and gentle waves on the coast rise quickly into mysterious and dramatic peaks of untamed jungle. The people reflect the same contradiction as the landscape – gentle, calm and helpful. But leave your outboard on the beach (as we did) for more than 15 minutes and consider it a sacrifice to the Tiki gods whose images are still found sculpted into the rocks.

In the water with stingrays and sharks

In the water with stingrays and sharks

In our usual quest to be the slowest cruisers in the world, we have been here for nearly four months. We have explored the anchorages of the north and west and got to know some great people. We have circumnavigated the whole island on a scooter and swum with sharks and stingrays whilst having a good sticky-beak at the underwater geography too. And over time, we have come to see beyond the movie backdrop and get a real flavour of this extraordinary place that is rapidly becoming our favourite spot in the Pacific.

Kayaking around the Opunohu Bay anchorage

Kayaking around the Opunohu Bay anchorage

 

Swimming with sharks

Swimming with sharks

Underwater Tikis Moorea

Underwater Tikis

It may not be for everyone – particularly the more ‘A’ type personality – but slowing down to something assimilating the pace of life in the places you visit is the only real chance of getting even a whiff of its authentic flavour. We are glad we did.

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Budget Drone Photography or ‘Kitecam’

aerial view on anchorageWe have all admired those sweeping aerial shots that used to be the exclusive domain of professional photographers with much greater budgets than ours. With the introduction of the drone, that monopoly is admittedly being challenged at least to a certain extent. Whilst significantly cheaper than chartering a helicopter, drones are still fairly expensive and everyone we have met who owns one, has complained about reliability. This is fairly usual when a technology is in its infancy and I have no doubt that as the years roll on and the market deepens, drones will be super-reliable and virtually free with breakfast cereal.

Back in the real world of the everyday cruiser, where budgets are still a part of life, $4000 is a lot to spend on something that works only a few times.

 

However, there is a tried and tested technology that has been continuously developed for thousands of years, principally by the Chinese who invented it at about the time of the birth of Christ.  It is simple, cheap and enormous amounts of fun.

 

Welcome fellow sailors to the ‘kite-cam’

 

You will need:

1 stable kite (we add a drogue to ours, just to be safe)

A line of fishing reel

A light digital camera (waterproof!) that can be programmed to take pictures at regular intervals

A safety lanyard

A basic understanding of a photo-editing suite such as Adobe Photoshop

A helpful partner.

 

Firstly, set up your kite and test fly it without the camera to get a good feel (remember that if the kite is not flying strongly in the wind you have, it will not fly at all when you add the extra weight).

IMG_1327

Then bring it in and lash the camera to the frame along the central axis. Set up the camera to take a photo every 10 seconds and off you go….

Kitecam

DCIM101GOPRO

As you can see from the pictures, the only down side is the fishing line bisecting and spoiling the photograph.  This can be easily erased in most photo editing suites in about 2 minutes.

And there you have it – cheap aerial photography by kite-cam.  And possibly the only product from China you will ever own that was actually invented there!

kitecam on calypso

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