This is a letter I wrote for the PPJ Yahoo Group and now I’m posting it here as well, hoping that someone will stumble upon it and find it helpful…
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This is our 8th month sailing around French Polynesia and I just remembered that many of you are probably getting ready for the “big jump” and could use some advice from people that already sailed around these islands. So, this is my little contribution.
1. Bring a bag of perfume samples, nail polish and lipsticks for trading with Marquesan women (men only want bullets or alcohol, but we don’t like leaving that kind of wake…)
2. Bring an underwater camera … or you’ll miss pictures like this one:
3. Have some kind of rain catching system
4. Download all the banana recipes you can find
5. Buy a wifi booster (we have the Alfa and it works ok)
6. Download Google Earth caches for the Tuamotus atolls while you still have fast internet… if you dont know which atolls you will visit, download Fakarava and Rangiroa, you will visit at least one of them
7. Think about a spare prop for your outboard… you will miss most of the coral heads, but not all of them (even better: bring a kayak)
8. Learn some French or at least buy the book French for Cruisers (I didn’t do it and I regret it)
About learning French:
While crossing the Pacific you will have more spare time than in any other period in your life. Take advantage of it and start learning a new language. I am often seasick and have to avoid reading and being down below, which leaves me… in the cockpit with my iPod. We love the Michel Thomas method, because there are no books and no writing whatsoever. Rick spent every morning watch listening to Start French and now he can more or less speak with the locals, which is a very important part of visiting a new country. Again – I wasn’t as diligent as him and I regret it, because the majority of people we meet does not speak English…
9. If there is a product you really like, buy it in bulk. Even if they have it here (probably not), it will cost more.
10. Don’t forget the cash! In the Marquesas happens quite often that all the ATMs are down “this week, maybe the next also”, the Tuamotu don’t have ATMs at all (except for Rangiroa and Fakarava, and even there the withdraw is limited to 200$)
12. For those of you leaving from Mexico: take advantage of the Kavenga’s chart library in Philos, La Cruz! (I did, but I still had to buy one chart here …for 44$ )
13. About the cruising guides: sooner (before you go) or later (as soon as you arrive) someone will give you 7582 guide books on a USB key. You will have more information than you can possibly read. But it is always good to have a paperback, and Charlie is still the best one, all things considered…
14. Mosquito repellent!
and 15: Don’t worry too much!
French Polynesia will teach you an important lesson:
If you don’t have it, you’ll learn to live without it!
(of course, this doesn’t apply to basic safety gear and water)
What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it.
*** UPDATE December 2016: After 3 years of sailing in FP waters, our list did not change that much. Rick would now add a shade cover which we found essential in the summer (we are currently cruising the Tuamotu and it is scorching hot!) .
I would also add a light wind sail, a stern anchor for the Marquesas and a yoghurt maker like the one below. The price of yoghurt here is quite outrageous. Fresh yoghurt can be very welcome when you run out of fresh food but don’t want to give up that wonderful deserted anchorage quite yet. Buy some starter to get you to Papeete.
– Drones can reward you with amazing shots, but we know of too many people getting disappointed by them not working or not working well enough. We suggest a low-cost alternative here .
P.s.3 : As for the gear you can leave at home:
– wet weather gear and boots (Here the weather is hot, always – when it rains, you can simply get naked!
– firearms (The South Pacific is pretty much the safest place to be in the world at the moment.)