Sailing The World's Oceans

Dream ~ Discover ~ Explore

Monday August 29, 2011- 07:48 Bora Bora Local Time

(Check out the new pics added to the Rarotonga Photo Album)

I wanted to send a quick note this morning before heading out to Rarotonga.  I’ve done a quick plotting and I think the actual distance is closer to 540 – 550 nautical miles.  Not quite 560 but still the longest solo passage to date for me.  I’ll be happy when this pass is over as I mentioned John is will be arriving in Rarotonga a week from today.  It will be so great to see him.

The word that comes to mind right now for me is daunting.  The weather looks good though we may have light winds.  There is also a big swell rolling but that is supposed to lay down.  Big seas and light winds don’t mix well as it’s hard to keep the sails full of wind.  Hopefully the seas will lay down and we’ll have enough wind to have a beautiful sail to Rarotonga.  Part of me is nervous, a little scared, cautious but I’m up for the challenge.  When a daunting task is layed before me I think I approach it by staring at it a long time and thinking about it.  Then I start to move forward slow and search for a stride.  When I’m prepared and ready my attitude is Alright, lets go.  Bring it on.  So here I am, ready to go and about to take my first slow steps for this passage and will search for my stride.  I also always ask the powers that be to bring a safe passage, with nobody getting hurt and no boat parts broken or damaged.  That always makes for a good ending when arriving in port.  I will write some updates during the passage but of course will be incommunicado until I find a new internet connection in Rarotonga.

Hokule’a of course will be right there with me and we’ll be keeping an eye on one another.  For that I’m very blessed.

Talk to you later from Raro.   Bora Bora Buh-Bye.

Much Aloha,


Sunday August 28, 2011 - 06:52 Bora Bora Local Time

Tomorrow morning we’re heading west to Rarotonga.  560 nautical miles.  I still have a lot to do to get the boat ready to go.  For starters, cleaning the bottom, putting up the lee cloths and stowing everything.  The best part about getting this leg done is that John will be arriving in Rarotonga to join me for a month.  It will be so nice having him aboard.  I’m super excited about that.  Without a doubt the hardest part of the being out here is the solitude factor.  These crossing offer challenges all their own because of being alone.  This will be my longest solo sail to date.  My thoughts turn to Laura Decker too and how she’s doing.  She’s traveled so much further than me since I saw her in Hiva Oa.  I need to check her website but last I saw she was past Fiji somewhere and I think headed towards Australia.  I’ve always been one to enjoy my time alone but I’ve also always had many friends around and of course Jill and I were together for 12 years.  I’ve always been a very social person so the solitude has been something to adjust to.  I’ve met a lot of cruisers out here and we’re meeting people all the time but soon everybody is off on their way and I get back to the boat alone.  So needless to say, I’m really looking forward to John being here and sharing this with him.

I will say this too, I know a lot of close friends and family are keeping up with our travels and our log.  I really hope, and those reading this know who they are, take the opportunity to come and visit.  I want so much to share this with people I love and care about.  For so many reasons.  I’m so glad that the internet exist so that I can at least share it via the cyber-world.   Speaking of cyber-stuff, my camera crapped out on me so that’s why there haven’t been many recent pictures.  Jake loaned me a backup of his and John’s bringing me a new one.  So I will get more pictures up in the past.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of a rainbow the other morning.

Time to get up, greet the day and get Solstice ship shape.   I will send another quick note before heading off in the morning.  Depending on wind and conditions it should take us 4 to 5 days to get there.

Much Aloha,


Friday August 26, 2011 - 13:17 Bora Bora Local Time

It’s blowing about 25 knots outside with higher gusts and we’ve got 6 meter (or 19 foot) swell out of the southwest.  The wind is out of the southeast.  We wanted to leave Bora Bora before now but weather has forced us to hunker down and wait for the blow to pass by.  Right now we’re looking at a possible Sunday but more likely Monday departure from French Polynesia.  Our next stop is Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.  The Cook’s are subsidized by New Zealand so I’m looking forward to going where more people speak English.
think everybody should travel.  And travel to a country where you cannot speak the language.  I think it makes one a better and a more empathetic person.  It’s very frustrating when the language barrier causes the person that you’re communicating with to treat you like a two year old.  As a traveler, I think it’s very important to try and learn the local languages, local customs and cultural ways and to assimilate with the locals as much as possible.  But it is frustrating when those you’re trying to cooperate with have little tolerance because you don’t speak the language.

Since we’ve been here we have been doing things to ready for this next crossing.  We wanted to stop at an interim island between here and Rarotonga but with John coming and the weather forcing us to wait we’ve missed our opportunity to stop anywhere in between.  This leg will now be a 560 nautical mile leg.  It will be my longest solo sail to date.  I’m looking forward to getting out there, making way and getting this leg under my belt.  I’m a little nervous and if I told you I wasn’t scared, I’d be lying.  I’m not scared like “Oh my God I can’t do this” scared but I’m cautious and timid.  It’s sort of like diving in Santa Barbara Island off the California coast.  Santa Barbara Island is 40 miles offshore and the rookery there is filled with hundreds of sea lions.  You hear all the time out there about great whites that come into the rookery looking for lunch.  They are in those waters.  Most times before I go diving up there it pops into my head “Gee, I hope I don’t get eaten by a shark.”  But then….


You hit the water and all that fear goes away and you fall into the beauty of the kelp forest and everything the sea offers there.  The sea lions are part of that too.  The idea of a shark attack vanishes.  It’s the same way with a crossing like this.  I’m afraid of falling asleep and running into something, getting in big seas or winds that are hard to handle, or worse falling overboard with nobody aboard to turn the boat around to come and get me.  To make things more foreboding we just received news of another boat that has ended up on a reef here in the South Pacific.  This came over the radio this morning.  This is the second boat in the last two weeks and the third this season.  This news adds to the cautiousness and timid feelings about heading out.

The cruising community is very tight and they are wonderful in keeping an eye on one another and to helping in anyway they can.  There’s a thin line between having a complete magical time in paradise and it all turning to tragedy.

I have not yet heard the details of this latest boat.  All I know is that the boat name was “Qwest” (It’s my understanding that that’s how they spelled “Quest”) and it ended up on a reef in Savusavu, Fiji.  There was another boat about 10 days ago named “Ree Ree”.  “Ree Ree” was on a mooring in Palmerston, that’s one of the places we’re planning to stop.  The story is they had high winds, the owner was on mooring watch in the cockpit at night when he fell asleep.  The boat broke free from its mooring while he was asleep and washed up on the reef.  They tried to pull it off the next morning but couldn’t.  Before long the boat had four large holes in its hull and became a total loss.  Fortunately, the family aboard was able to get to safety.  The third and I hope final boat we’ve heard about was an American boat named “Kayak”.  The only details I know is that it was a younger American couple who were waiting for the proper time to enter a pass some where in the tuamotus.  While waiting they both fell asleep and they ended up on a reef.  I believe that was a total loss as well but that the couple made it ashore safely.

So these things have a huge effect on the cruising community.  It’s devastating news.  It’s also sobering about how real it is to have happen.  People work so hard to get to the realization of a dream only to have it dashed away instantly.  I also think every cruiser has the same underlying fear.  I think if you don’t think it can happen to you then you’re being ignorant.

So these things weigh on my mind as I’m readying the boat for this next leg.  This week has been filled with
provisioning, getting fuel for the boat and water.  I actually had to pay for water.  750 liters of water cost almost $40 U.S.  That’s the most expensive water I’ve ever bought.  Well water that comes out of a hose.  Supposedly it is desalinated water from the lagoon so it should be excellent.  It better be.

Outside of that and cleaning up the boat getting her ship shape it’s been a quiet week.  Well mostly, except for Sunday night, the night we arrived back here.  Like most evenings here about sunset we go to shore to get on-line, watch the sunset, meet a few of the other yachties and have a couple of beers or a glass of wine.  After the sunset you head back out to your boat to make dinner and have a quiet evening aboard.  At least that’s been the normal routine. 

I had spent a very quiet week aboard in Tahaa so when we arrived in Bora Bora I looked forward to chatting with some new folks and being social.  A group of sailors, all men, were at a nearby table drinking beers, laughing and enjoying then evening.  I knew one of the guys there from the weeks when were here earlier.  After sending a few e-mails and putting the computer away they invited me over to join them.  There were 5 Australians and two Scottish sailors.  They all lived in Australia except one of the Scotts who bounced between Australia and New Zealand.  The other Scott was 32 and with the exception of me the rest were anywhere from their late 50’s to late 60’s.  One particlar gentleman was about 70.  And they drank more that night than college kids on spring break.  I have always heard about how hard the Aussies party and finally I was experiencing it.  And what I’ve heard matched what I saw.  The beers just kept coming out, one after the other.  Our big table top was strewn with empty beer bottles.  Then almost on cue, a couple of the old Aussies would get up, collect the empties, go to the bar and return to fill the void with new full ones.  This pattern lasted for a good 2 ½ to 3 hours.  I don’t recall how many beers I had, what I do know is that I had no dinner and before I knew it, I was drunk.  Being a Sunday night, the young French guys that ran the bar wanted to close it early.  Now telling a bunch of drunk old Aussies that they can’t buy anymore beer is well… lets say it doesn’t go over very well.  I’ve had a great relationship with the young guys there so I convinced them to let us buy one last round and that was it.  They agreed but they had to shut off the lights.  So they filled our table with another round, brought out some small tea lights for us as candles and they shut the lights off.  We sat there under an opened air thatched roof that sits on the deck over the lagoon.  It’s a lovely place to have happy hour.  In the dark, it’s well, dark.  The tea lights were lit and laughter and conversation continued as we finished our beers.  Well like too often the conversation turned to politics.  Fortunately for me, it was about Australian politics, which I know nothing about.  So I chose to sit on the sidelines, well mostly.

We all know that two volatile subjects in social circles are politics and religion.  I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to voicing my opinion about issues etc. but as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to check myself and see the reality of what is happening.  99% of the time when somebody holds a strong opinion about something they rarely change their mind on the subject based on what somebody else says.  All that really ends up happening in the end are each person tells the other they’re an idiot and then they usually spell out why they’re an idiot.  Nothing productive happens and everyone ends up pissed off at one another. 

This one particular guy, his name I will not mention, is very opinionated.  I had a conversation with him, which turned into an argument a couple of weeks earlier.  He’s a “birther”.  For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a group of people that believe  Barrack Obama is not a naturally born American and shouldn’t be allowed to be President.  And so this group takes strides trying to remove him from office on these grounds.  Well, I have a very strong opinion about that and about people who believe that.  Personally I think it’s a racist movement but I won’t get into that here.  In the end, it is so ridiculous and to me embarrassing that we have such ignorant people in our country.  The kicker in all this is that this guy isn’t an American and has never even set foot in the U.S.A.  He just believes this.  Back to this night. Our “birther conversation/argument” was all water under the bridge as we agreed to disagree but of course I forged my own opinion on this guy based from that evening.

When the subject turned to politics so too did the heat turn up on the conversation.  Before too long several guys ganged up on the oldest, and I think the richest, guy there.  They all told him what a fool he was for believing the things he believed.  Now I have no idea what stances people were taking about anything.  It was all about supporting or not supporting somebody and it had to do with mining rights and stuff.  All I saw was the attacking of one group against another.  And it was very sobering.  Politics really didn’t matter.  What mattered was how these guys were treating the oldest guy in the group.  I had spent a good hour and a half talking with this older Aussie sailor.  He’s a wonderful sweet man who has sailed around much of the world.  So to see him being yelled at and told he was a fool made me protective of him.  The interesting thing looking back is that the older man never got his feathers ruffled.  He just sat there holding his head high, looking thoughtfully up to the stars and quietly “Hemmed” and “Hawed” and when something was said and he’d say “Well I’m sorry I don’t agree with you.”  Or occasionally he’d say “That’s not true” or “You’re wrong”.  But his responses were always matter of fact, low tone and deliberate.  The other guys were much more emotional.  All the while I sat there and I said noting but I started to get pissed-off.  I was pissed because of how they were treating the older gentleman.

After a good half hour of watching them berate the old man I had had enough.  I stood up and told them how appalled I was at the way they talked to him and how they don’t even let him talk or listen to what he had to say because anytime he opened his mouth they pounced on him and told him he was an idiot.  They all pointed out how I know nothing about Aussie politics being an American and I should shut up.  They were right.  I walked off to get in my dinghy and head back to the boat.

I only had to take a few steps to realize Yo, Dude, you are so drunk right now.  I made it safely into the dinghy, fired up the engine and headed towards the boat.  About halfway there I realized that I had left my backpack with my computer back at the table hanging on the back of my chair.  I turned the dinghy back towards the dock.  Stupidly, I had no light in the dinghy, also the lights to the yacht club were out and the shoreline that is usually lighted was black. And of course I’m drunk.  I motored towards the dock.  I squinted in the darkness trying to make out some feature on the shoreline that I could use to get my barrings when…

BAM!.... BAM!

What the hell? 
The outboard banged up hard in my hand.


I hit a coral head and the dinghy came to a halt.

“Oh no.  Where the hell am I?” I said aloud.

I saw the coral head stuck under the dinghy.  Immediately I knew where I was as I always avoid this area when I can see.  I had missed the dock by about 100 feet and ended up in the cluster of coral heads.  I pushed the dinghy back into deeper water and steered back over to the dock. I climbed out and went back over to the table where they were all still sitting in the dark.

The next day, I learned that the young 32 year old Scottish guy thought I was coming back to fight.
“I left my backpack with my computer in it here,” when I spoke he realized I wasn’t there to fight just to get my computer.  Whether or not he was happy or sad about that I don’t know.

“It should be on the back of my chair,” I said.

It wasn’t there.

“Oh, no.  It was right here.  I know it,” I said in a panic.

“Don’t worry, Bill.  Don’t worry, we’ll find it,” the birther said kindly.  “It’s got to be here somewheres.”

All of a sudden the political conversation stopped and all of us drunks took to the task of searching for my backpack in the dark.  I was amazed at how everybody wanted to help me.  In a moment the group went from yelling at one another to helping me.  We were crawling around on the deck looking under chairs and tables.  It was nowhere.  Just when I didn’t know what I was going to do as so much of my life was in that computer...

“Here it is!” one of the other attackers of the old guy said.

He pulled it from under a stair where it sat dangerously on the edge of the dock less than a foot from going into the water.

“Oh my God.  Oh my God.  Thank you so much, thank you so much,” I said with genuine relief and thankfulness.

I thanked them all again and left to the sound of them cheering themselves and laughing.  I got back in the dinghy and put my feet into water that covered the floor.  I didn’t think about it right away as I’ve had a small leak in the floor of the dinghy and I was just thrilled to have my computer back.  About halfway back to the boat I realized the water was much more than normal.  I have a small hand pump in the dinghy so I pumped it out.  I got back to the boat safely, though I hadn’t turned the anchor light on so finding the big boat in a cloak of drunken darkness presented another challenge.  But I made it safely and didn’t go on somebody else’s boat first or anything stupid like that.  At least that I remember.

To make a long story longer, I learned in the morning that I had torn a nice gash in the floor of the dinghy when I hit the coral head. 

So part of this week has been spent patching up the dinghy.  It’s still leaking but the leak is a lot slower than it was before.  But there is still work to do to fix it completely.

I also learned something much more valuable.  And that is, to take a lot more serious to see to it that I never get in a situation like that ever again.  I mean drinking and boating. Even if it’s a short dinghy ride back to the boat.  In an instant, things could’ve been much worse than a tear in my dinghy floor.  I thanked King Neptune and the powers that be for looking after me.  As the saying goes “God looks after fools and drunks”.  That night he looked after both of those sides of me.  And for that I am thankful.

Much Love and Aloha,



Friday August 19th, 2011- 10:19 Tahaa Local Time

The last couple of days have been incredible.  As I mentioned earlier, on Wednesday we sat down with Leo and interviewed him about his Foundation Hibiscus.  The foundation is dedicated to rescue and release of trapped and caught sea turtles.  In the 14 years since Leo started the foundation he has rescued and released 1,590 turtles.  But his foundation goes much deeper than just the preservation of these amazing animals.

Leo is big man.  He stands about 6’4” but he’s a little hunched over from the shoulders up.  He has the same posture of a turtle.  If he stood up straight he’d be closer to 6’5” or 6’6”. He has a calm, gentle, forthright, self-assured and smart nature about himself.  He is so turtle like it’s uncanny.  When he smiles his lips don’t part but his eyes alight with a deep seeded fire.  Leo loves life.

Here is what I find so amazing about Leo.  Leo grew tired of watching the turtle population being decimated on his island home of Tahaa.  In French Polynesia the locals still catch and eat turtles.  They are a delicacy.  They are also endangered.  Leo decided to buy one from a fisherman and save it.  That lead to him wanting to save more.  So every day he’d go to the fish market, cash in hand and he paid top dollar for a turtle.  He took them home, nursed them back to health and a few weeks later released them back to the sea.  In the beginning Leo learned that the fisherman were using the money he gave them to buy alcohol and get drunk.  Alcoholism is a big problem in these islands.  Leo didn’t want to contribute to that but he still wanted to save turtles.  So he decided instead of money he’d trade with gasoline.  That fore thinking and thoughtfulness I think is amazing.  Leo not only cares about the turtles he’s rescuing but he cares about the welfare of the islanders who are catching them too.

“But Leo, how can what you do be a success if the culture doesn’t change and people here stop eating turtles?” Jake asked.

“Things take time”, he said in a calm patient voice. “Some day, things will be different, but for now it is a thought in there head that makes them think.  And that is a  beginning,” he said.

In that moment I saw the enormity of what Leo had taken on.  He is one man saving turtles one by one in a country where they catch and kill thousands a year to eat.  It would be like one man trying to save turkeys at Thanksgiving in America.  He knows deep inside that he’ll never live to see the day where the islanders stop eating turtles but he knows that change doesn’t happen over night.  It may take generations.  And it takes the beginnings of something for that shift eventually to happen.  Leo is on the forefront of that thinking.  Perhaps he is right, perhaps some day many years from now the turtle will be protected and nobody will eat them here anymore in French Polynesia.

“It is already started” Leo went on.

He pulled out a book and showed us how in Bora Bora two were arrested last year for killing and selling thousands of turtles.  A year earlier Fishermen in other islands were arrested and fined.  When Leo started the idea of somebody being fined for catching turtles was unheard of.

“So it has started,” he said with a smile.

“So Leo, have you ever eaten turtle?”  I had to ask the question.

He looked straight at me, “Yes.  It is not so good.”  Then a deep seeded memory sparked in his mind’s eye.

“But one time my wife, she is Polynesian, made a turtle dish for me many years ago.  That one was delicious,” he said.

His words must have surprised himself and struck him funny as that smile spread across his lips again and he looked back down to the table at the mass of books before him.  The books were a mixture of reference books, dictionaries and ledgers with articles about turtles and personal ledgers that people wrote in who had sponsored turtles to set free.

The Foundation Hibiscus is located at the Hibiscus Hotel on Tahaa which Leo also owns and runs.  He offers something to all that come to stay or that come to just see the turtles.  For $1000 euros you can sponsor a turtle.  You help weigh, measure, tag and release the turtle back into the wild.   You also get to name the turtle.  The name, number and all the vital information are sent to the Regional Marine Turtle Conservation Program (RMTCP) located in Apia, Western Samoa.  They keep records of turtles from all over the pacific.   Leo’s records and books date back 14 years.  Each person or family signs his book and tells something of what it meant to sponsor a turtle.  One particular message was from a family that came and stayed at the hotel.  The father had three young children with him and he’d taken the family there to recover after the death of their mother.  While they were there they decided to sponsor a turtle and they named it “Dorothy” after their mother who had passed away only months earlier.  The children and the father worked with Leo and helped record all the necessary measurements, weights and official number and name for the records.  They went out in a boat to a remote place and released the turtle.  In that action Leo not only released a turtle back into the wild but he helped a family heal after the loss of their mother.  Dorothy swam off to a new life of freedom and also gave new life to this family.  Leo’s books are filled with hundreds of similar stories.

I was bummed because I was hoping to sponsor a turtle but we just couldn’t afford it.  Leo must have sensed our disappointment because then something wonderful happened.

“I want to give you a turtle,” Leo said.

“Oh I know Leo, I wish we could afford it…” I began.

Leo held his hand up to silence me.

“No.  I want to give you a turtle.  You take it tomorrow on your boat,” he said.

He looked at both Jake and I.  We understood and nodded.

“You come tomorrow.  9am.  You take and let go a turtle.  I’ll show you where.”

“Oh, okay.  Wow!  I don’t know what to say, Leo,” I said.

“It is okay, Bill”.  That smile crept back across his lips and his eyes went aflame again. 

The next morning Jake, Jackie and I arrived at 9am sharp.  The pen that Leo keeps the turtles in is about 50’x50’ and it’s thigh high deep.  This particular day Leo had 8 turtles in the pen.  7 green turtles and 1 hawksbill.  Those two are the most prevalent turtles in these waters. 

When we arrived Leo was sitting on the edge of the dock with his feet dangling the water.  A young Frenchman was lumbering about in the pen trying to capture a turtle.  The turtles circled around him in a frenzy trying to escape his grasp.  The young man would lunge toward one awkwardly and succeed in only splashing about in the water.  Leo was laughing.  Sea turtles may be slow most of the time but when they want to they can move.  They’d make Michael Phelps look like a…. turtle…. a turtle on land.

Leo was getting a belly full of joy watching the fruitless efforts of this young man.  It reminded me of a scene when Rocky Balboa is trying to capture a rooster in Rocky II.  Maybe it  was Rocky III.  This was the sea version of that scene.

Leo’s son, Eric, a handsome 28 year-old Polynesian/French man (he looks nothing like a turtle) emerged from the hotel with a cup of coffee in hand.  He stood at the edge of the dock sipping his coffee.  He wasn’t laughing.  After a short while of watching the Frenchman splashing about Eric spoke to him.  I don’t know what he said, as he spoke in French, but it was evident that he was instructing him how to go about capturing a turtle.  Turtles continued to swirl about circling the young man as he stood there and listened to Eric.  When Eric was done talking the young man went to the far corner of the pen and waited.  After another short while a turtle ignorantly swam into the corner where the young man stood.  The young man moved casually in front of the turtle and cornered it.  He lunged forward and caught the turtle on the side of his shell and lifted him up in victory.  He hoisted the turtle high above his head like a French Canadian hoisting the Stanley Cup.

“BRAVO!  BRAVO!”  Leo laughed and clapped his hands.  He rocked back and forth in complete mirth.

“BRAVO!” he yelled again.  Leo then said something to the young man in French.  I can only deduce that it
was some wise turtle wisdom about being patient and letting the turtle come to him.

The young man brought the turtle over to Leo.  The turtle was flailing his fins against the air.  The turtle was scared to death.  The young man sat the turtle down on the dock next to Leo.  Leo started stroking the underside of the turtles chin with his fingers.  The turtle calmed down.  Leo then gently stroked the top of his head.  The turtle liked that too.  Leo waved me, Jake and Jackie over to join him.

“This is the turtle you will release today.”

“Do they bite, Leo?” I asked.

“No” he said instantly.  “Talk to him. He’ll calm down.” Leo explained.

Wow!  Leo is the turtle whisperer! 
I thought to myself.

The young Frenchman helped Leo measure the turtle.  He was 43cm wide and 45 cm long.  Leo lifted the turtle up and judged its weight.  No scale was used.  He set the turtle back down and wrote “10 kg” in his ledger.  A large bizarre looking set of crimps with a nasty spike on it sat next to Leo’s side.  There was also a tray of silver tags.  The tags were long and thin.  They reminded me of a skinny version of dog tags that soldiers wear around their necks.  The number on the tag read R-42771.  Leo wrote that number down in his ledger.

The young Frenchman held the turtle down by his shell.  Leo continued to stroke the turtle under his chin with one hand while he put the tag around the left forward fluke of the turtle with the other.  The tag was shaped like a hairpin.  With a closer look you could see that the tag when crimped actually went through the fluke of the turtle and clipped to the back side of the tag on the other side.

That’s why there’s a big nasty spike on those pliers.  He’s actually going to poke a hole through his fluke.  OOUUCCCHHH!!!  Oh my God, the turtles gonna freak. 
All these thoughts ran through my brain.

Leo then picked up the pliers, put them around either side of the turtles fluke directly atop the tag and squeezed….


The turtle let out a hiss just like a cat.


The tag clipped in place.

“Okay.  We go inside.  You must sign the book,” Leo instructed and stood up.

We sat at a table and Leo laid a large legal size leather bound book before us.  It was his book for 2011 that people signed who had sponsored a turtle.  Jake, Jackie and I all signed the book while Leo filled out the final official paperwork on our turtle.

“What is his name?  You must name the turtle.”

“Well we already thought of a name and we all agreed on it last night,” Jake said.  “Leo.”

Leo scoffed immediately and waved his hand as if to say Get out of here.

“Seriously Leo, that’s what we want to name him,” Jake insisted.

“Leo, it’s perfect.  It’s in honor of you and for all the turtles you’ve saved,” I told him.

Leo went back to his paperwork.  He left the name empty and filled out the width, length, weight and number of the turtle.  He then looked back up at me and went back to the space for the name.

I looked at him forthright like a turtle and said patiently “It’s perfect.”

Leo reluctantly wrote L-E-O down for the name.  Then that smile spread across his lips and he laughed quietly to himself.

“Okay.”  Leo closed the book. 

Leo pulled out a map of Tahaa and pointed to a series of motus about 5 miles from where we were.

“Here.  Release him here.  In shallow, light water.  Not deep.” Jake and I nodded at his instruction.

“You go now.”  Leo spoke English like Tonto.

Leo loomed over Jackie and grabbed her about the shoulders.  He leaned down and gave her a light kiss on the cheek.  He shook hands with Jake and wished him all the very best of everything and good luck.  He then turned to me.

“Leo thank you so much for everything.  It’s been so great seeing you again.  I also wanted to thank you for saving turtles,” I said.

I went on to tell him how incredible it was to meet somebody who gives so much more back than he takes.  Not just to the turtles but also to people.  I told him how wonderful I thought it was that he cared about everything.  I told him that this world is a better place because of him and that he was a hero to me.  I spoke from my heart, that’s all.

“Okay, Bill” he said.  “I am going to kiss you.”

“Okay,” I replied not sure what I had gotten myself into.

Leo grabbed my shoulders the same way he had Jackie’s and leaned forward and kissed me on each cheek.  In the affectionate way the French do.  I returned the kisses to him.  He looked me straight in the eye smiled and shook my hand.  His hand shake was firm and strong and filled with meaning.  Like a turtle would shake hands if he had one.  Something unsaid passed between us.  It was an understanding of trying to help make this world a better place.  Leo has a drawing of a turtle framed on the wall of his hotel.  Under the drawing it reads We Are All One and To Survive We Need Each Other.  It was that sentiment that I felt passed between us.

We went back outside where the young Frenchman held the turtle.  Jake lifted the turtle up as Leo had showed him and we got in the dinghy and headed out to Solstice.  Needless to say, the turtle was frightened to death.  Jake played the role of turtle whisperer.

We carefully positioned the dinghy to bring the turtle aboard. 

“You guys are gonna have to take care of the turtle.  I’ll drive the boat and take care of Solstice.  I’m not touching that turtle,” Jackie informed us.

“No problem, Jackie” both Jake and I said.

“But he’s cute,” Jake said.

“I know.  I’m just not touching him,” she reaffirmed.

“Don’t worry Leo.  She still loves you,” Jake told the turtle.

We sat Leo on the aft deck of Solstice.  Jackie and I prepared Solstice to go while Jake talked with Leo.  I had taken care of most everything before but we needed to take care of a few final things.  We hoisted up the dinghy, secured lines and started the engine.  Leo didn’t like the engine.  Angelina didn’t like it either.  For those who don’t know, Angelina was my kitty that I had to leave back home.  She’d run off to some secure place everytime the engine fired up.  Leo wanted to go somewhere too but couldn’t.  He was scared to death.  Jake did everything to keep him calm.

We got a bucket of saltwater and a large towel.  We soaked the towel and laid it atop Leo to keep him wet.  He liked that.

It took us a good hour to get Solstice out to where Leo had told us to set Leo (the turtle) free.  Jake and I took turns soothing Leo’s nerves.

“It’s okay, it’s okay.  We’re taking you home,” Jackie was warming up to Leo.  “You’ll be home soon,” she told him.

“See you’re starting to like Leo, Jackie,” I said.

“I like him.  I just don’t want to touch him,” she said with a smile.

The water was too shallow for Solstice where Leo had told us to go.  We dropped the hook for Solstice and got the dinghy in the water.  I steadied the dinghy while Jake slowly made his way down the aft ladder with Leo.  Leo, knew what was going on.  As soon as he saw the ocean he got excited.  He started flailing his flukes rapidly trying to leap into the sea.  Once in the dinghy we headed out to the light pale blue shallows like Leo had told us.  We wanted video footage of the moment.  We wanted a shot of me lifting Leo up to put him in the water and a shot from the water of him being released.  We only had one camera so we staged the first part.  I lifted Leo up and acted like I was about to release him.  Leo flipped out.  He grew so excited by being lifted out over the water that it was hard to hold onto him.  His flukes flung and flailed rapidly.

“Okay, we need to just get him in the water,” I said.

“I agree,” Jackie added.  “It’s time for him to go home.  He’s been traumatized enough today.”

We were all in agreement with Jackie.  Jake was in the water and we gave him the camera.

“Okay Leo, you have a great life.  Don’t go in any fish traps.  Stay away from fisherman and live a long, happy and healthy life.”  I gave Leo a kiss on the back of his shell.

“Do you want to kiss him, Jackie?” I said being a smart ass.

“No.  But I’ll pet him,” Jackie replied.  She reached over and gave Leo a loving stroke.

“Bye Leo.  You be good.  Stay safe.  Don’t end up in the pot,” Jackie said with her sweet southern drawl and gave him an extra long loving stroke.

I gave Leo one final kiss and lowered him over the side.  He started flailing his flukes again.  Jake went underwater.  As soon as his belly hit the water the power of his flukes sent a wave of water over top of me.  I set him under the surface and let him go.  Like a streak of lightening he took off.  In an instant he was gone. 

“Wow!” we all exclaimed with joy and laughter. 

I looked out to the beauty of Leo’s new home.  And I felt something that Leo back at the hotel must feel often.  The beauty of being alive.  The beauty of helping something live.  And in myself with all that has transpired in my life I felt too that I was giving life back into my own soul.  A rebirthing so to speak.  While helping Leo find a new life he also helped me bring life back into myself.  And for that I am eternally grateful to not just Leo the turtle but to Leo the turtle savior.

Much Love and Aloha,


Wednesday August 17th, 2011
- 16:44 Tahaa Local Time -----

We arrived in Tahaa Monday afternoon and anchored snug in Haamene (pronounced Ha-ah-meh-nay) Bay.  It’s a deep bay with lush green jungle rising on either side of this volcanic island.  It’s one of the few deep calm bays in French Polynesia that serves as a hurricane hole where boats can take refuge during a cyclone.  What has brought us back here is Leo the owner of the Hibiscus Hotel and more importantly rescuer of turtles. 

Jake and I went over this morning and spent some time interviewing him and video taping the turtles in the pen.  When we left here a few weeks ago I thought that we would be able to sponsor a turtle as it cost 1,000 euros.  Well I didn’t really know at the time how much a euro was compared to the “not so almighty anymore” U.S. dollar.  Stupidly I thought the U.S. dollar must be stronger than the euro.  It’s not.  It translates to about $1,400 U.S.  I can’t afford that.  So we told Leo we wouldn’t be able to sponsor a turtle but we’d still like to interview him.  He said in his thick French accent “Okay, Bill.”

So we spent a wonderful morning with him.  I had traded some e-mails with my 13 year old niece Meghan a couple of days earlier and when I told her about Leo she replied “Wow!  That guy must totally be into turtles!!!”  I told Leo Meghan’s reaction and he smiled.  Without parting his lips of course.  And that spark in his eye grew brighter.

There is something very infectious about Leo.  He has the glow of being alive and living.   Happiness exudes from his being for just being alive.  Perhaps it’s that love of life that makes him want to give life to the turtles he saves.  I don’t know.  But that feeling bleeds over to those around him.  I found myself caught up in his enthusiasm.

“So Leo, in the spirit of my neice Megahn, I have to ask you, why are you so into turtles?” I asked.

“I grew tired of watching turtles end up in the pot,” he said. “Too many.  It was too much.”

He told us about how he hated seeing all these turtles being caught and eaten so one day he just went down to the wharf and bought a turtle from a fisherman and took it home.  He made a little pen in the bay by his hotel to keep the turtle safe while he fed him and nursed him back to health.  A couple of weeks later he took him to a remote part of the lagoon and released him back to the sea. 

Something happened that day.  He felt “Why just save one?  Why not more?”

Oh, we’re headed over to have dinner at the Hibiscus Hotel now so I’ll have to pick this up later.  Until then.

Much Love and Aloha,



Monday August 15th, 2011- 11:15 Bora Bora local time

We exited the pass of Bora Bora a couple of hours ago and are headed back to Tahaa.  We’ve got a 15 knot breeze with a gust to 19.  Of course it’s coming right out of where we have to go so we’re motoring.  Why couldn’t we have had this breeze when we sailed from Tahaa to Bora Bora?  We motored that leg too.

It’s great to be back on the sea.  There’s something special about just being on the water.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a daysail or if I’m crossing an ocean.  The sea just offers a vast array of emotions and the constant reminder of grounding me in the now.  Your thoughts are on the wind, the sail trim, the movement of the boat, and the ever changing conditions.  Not to mention a constant eye for anything in the sea.  The water today is a deep pearl blue and white caps are sprinkled sparsely across the ocean.   We have a week to 10 days before we have to leave French Polynesia.  These days are freely ours.  It’s up to us to do as we wish.  Where we want to go, what we want to see, I feel like we’re finally cruising.  And now we’re headed back to Tahaa and to see Leo.  Sir Leo the turtle savior.

Yesterday I spent the morning getting Solstice ready to leave.  By the afternoon she was ship shape and ready to go.  I planned to have the rest of the day for me come mid afternoon.  It was Sunday August 14th. On this day a year ago Jake and I were at Jeep’s bedside with his daughter Laura, son Jason and fiancée Joyce.  We held his hand, listened to Hawaiian music and together we watched Jeep take his last breath.  That moment forged a bond between the five of us.  That experience and the love we all have for Jeep is its foundation.

So on this day here a year later I kept the afternoon free to spread some of Jeep’s ashes no matter where I was.  I happen to be on an island that the writer James Michner said is the most beautiful island in the world.  I don’t know if that’s true but any place with that reputation is fitting place for Jeep.

I put some of his ashes in a ziplock, poured myself a glass of wine and hopped into the “blow up boat”.  Jeep always called the dinghy the blow up boat.  I headed just south of the pass inside the reef where there is a most spectacular view of Bora Bora.  From this angle Bora Bora looks like a giant manta ray beginning it’s leap from the sea.  Mantas have been known to leap straight up out of the sea.  To me the island is frozen in that moment as the Manta is just emerging from the sea.  At least that’s what I see.  The water was pristine, clean and clear.  Perfect.  I shut the engine off and absorbed the power of the island and her beautiful lagoon.  I sat up on the side of the blow up boat and hung my feet over the side and let them dangle in the water.  I always feel closer to Jeep when I’m touching the ocean.  I poured a little splash of wine in the lagoon for King Neptune and for Jeep.  And I sat there adrift, staring at the beauty of Bora Bora, sipping on a nice French white and I talked to Jeep.  I told him about all we’ve been doing in this past year and how much I wish he could be here and how much I missed and loved him.  Then all of a sudden the tears came.  They came in a rush of swirling emotions that I couldn’t and didn’t want to hold back.  I cried.  And I cried hard.  It was a strange mixture of emotions of grief, love, sadness, joy, laughter, fear, loneliness and oneness with everything.  It was overwhelming.  I couldn’t believe all that had happened in my life since Jeep passed away. And here I was now thousands and thousands of miles away from his bedside floating in a dinghy by myself engrossed in the rapture of Bora Bora.  Mostly in that moment I missed him greatly.  I loved him and was so thankful for the years we shared.  The tears stopped as suddenly as they started.  Again, I was caught in the peace of the lagoon that surrounds this incredible island.  Nothing magical happened, no dolphins leaped out of the sea, no turtles came up and said hello.  I was just there floating in a blow up boat upon the sea.  And I felt that Jeep was right there too.  As long as he’s alive in my heart, he always will be.

And now I turn my thoughts towards Tahaa.  I’m excited for our visit with Leo.

Much Aloha,


Saturday August 6th, 2011 - 14:28  Local Bora Bora time

Today is a sad day.  Jackie’s Mom and sister are leaving to head back home.  A sort of silence has fell over Hokule’a and Solstice.  It’s a different type of parting than when you go to visit family and friends back home.  I think that’s because one how far we are from home and also because we’re not sure when we’ll get to be together again.  Of course this is harder on Jake and Jackie than me but it also reminds me of my family and friends that I miss.  So today there is a bit of a quietness surrounding the boats.

One thing is coming to the island soon.  It’s not a person but a shipment from home that holds some important items.  My HF radio, which allows me to talk halfway around the world and download weather faxes.  And, a new freshwater pump, which allows me to have pressurized fresh water on the boat.  The package was shipped via FedEx from LA to Honolulu to Auckland, NZ and yesterday arrived in Papeete.  The shipment cost about $1000, which I think is criminal.  It would almost be cheaper (and faster) to fly somebody here with it.  Why it takes that round about way instead coming straight to Papeete only FedEx can answer.

So for the past 8 days I’m living by foot pump alone which is located in the galley (that’s the kitchen) sink.  These foot pumps were very common in older boats as they use no power.  They were put in to save battery power while out at sea.  There are actually two pumps, one for salt water, which is installed to wash with salt water to conserve freshwater.  The second pump uses freshwater for final rinses and to have fresh water.  The pump is located near the floor and there is a spigot for each in the sink.  You tap the pump with your foot.  If there is a good song on the stereo to help keep rhythm while you pump makes washing your hands or doing dishes more fun.  This has been my only location source for freshwater aboard Solstice for the past 8 days.  So I brush my teeth, wash my hands, do dishes and to shower…. of course I can’t fit in that tiny sink to shower.   That task, requires a whole new routine.

I put on my bathing suit so as not to scare the neighbors.  I take soap, shampoo and conditioner and put it on the aft deck.  I go down to the galley with a five-gallon bucket.  Fortunately it just fits in the sink under the freshwater pump spigot.  I put on a good foot tapping song.  “Knee Deep” is a good one.  I commence tapping on the foot pump to the beat, (sometimes I sing too if I’m feeling particularly joyous) and I fill the bucket up with fresh water.  When the bucket is full I place a small plastic cup in it and take the bucket out to the aft deck.  Then I make sure to drop the ladder on the back of the boat so I can climb back aboard.  I undo the gate on the side rail and jump overboard.  If the water is nice I may swim around a bit.  I climb up the ladder to the aft deck.  I grab the soap and try to lather up.   If you’ve bathed in saltwater before then you know that soap doesn’t lather up nicely like it does in freshwater.  It sort of smears and bubbles just a little.  So I smear soap all over myself.  I then put a big squeeze of shampoo in my hand and do my best to lather up my scalp.  Shampoo lathers up a little better than soap but not much.  Actually different brands of soap and shampoo lather up better than others in saltwater.  I’m still researching this and am searching for the best one.  Once I’m lathered up from head to toe I jump back into the sea.  I hold my breath and dive underwater several times and scrub and rinse.  It takes some work to remove the smeared soap.  I climb back aboard for a second round of cleaning.  I smear soap and shampoo all over again, making sure to get every spot.  I make my way over to the gate at the rail.  If soap or shampoo gets in your eyes this can be a lot more treacherous than it sounds.  Because then you’re blinded by stinging soap and making your way blind on the deck of a boat is well… challenging.  Once safely at the rail, I leap back into the sea.  If I’m feeling particularly joyous I may let out a loud YYYAAAHHHOOOO rebel yell while in midair from the boat to the sea.  That’s what us Virginia boys do sometimes.  Once in the sea I rinse thoroughly again diving up and down like a sea lion.  Well maybe not quite as graceful but I get a good rinse.  Again, I make my way to the ladder and climb aboard.  Now I get a good squeeze of conditioner in my palm and I work that into my hair.  The instructions say it’s good to let it sit there awhile before rinsing it out but in the sunshine it tends to dry out which isn’t a good thing.  So I let it sit briefly but I work my way to the rail before it bakes into my head.  I stand there on the rail with my back to the sea and my tippy toes on the rail and my heels hanging off the side of the boat.  Like a diver perched on a diving platform, I stretch my arms out forward, palms down and then I do a double gainer with a half-twist as I enter the sea in perfect form.  Okay, I don’t do that, I just leap into the sea.  Perhaps with a rebel yell if I’m feeling particularly joyous.   Conditioner takes a few more dives to rinse out than shampoo.  Once free of all soap and conditioner I climb aboard again and go to the bucket of fresh water.  I take the plastic cup and begin to rinse myself off.  I pour cup after cup of fresh water over myself.  I pour it everywhere making sure to get rid of all the salt.  If there is water left over and I feel I’ve done a good rinsing, I’ll raise the bucket above my head and pour it all over to give a final good rinse.  It’s usually about this time I realize that I’ve left my towel down below and I have to run down sopping wet through the boat to retrieve my towel to dry off.  This has been how I’ve been showering the past week.

Since my package is in Tahiti I hope to have it soon.  There is a party at the Yacht Club tonight so I know I will have a shower like this later this afternoon.  I only shower like this during the day.  It’s too chilly at night.   I will say this, on one level it is a pain in the butt.  I miss being able to shower properly.  A nice shower is one of the greatest things in the world.  But there is something special about showering like this.  It makes you feel very alive.  Just leaping into the sea and hitting the water is all about living in the Now.  The water is warm and so it’s refreshing.  It also makes you appreciative of the little things in life.  A good shower and a good bed are two of the greatest treasures in life.  One of the best things about traveling on a boat like is that you have your bed (and your home) with you everywhere you go.  Every night, (unless I’m in the middle of the sea) I have a wonderful place to sleep.  I hope too to have my shower back soon.

Much Aloha,


Tuesday August 2nd, 2011- 11:15 Local Bora Bora time

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting aboard Hokule’a with Jake and Jackie and a subject came up that brought forth great discussion.  It had to do with culture and fashion and where we were in the world and what men were wearing.  The subject matter specifically was about the teenie-weenie bathing suits that European men wear.  The “banana hammocks” as we say in America.  It’s never good to generalize but I will confidently make the broad statement that most every American man or woman, hates the banana hammock.  Perhaps it falls under the general prudishness that the American culture has about sex from being formed in a patriarchal society.  I don’t know.  But Americans don’t just “not like them” but they “hate” them.  In fact, there’s even a beer commercial making fun of them in America.  Even on the most fit, well-built guy they look, in my humble opinion, terrible.  The only exception is for swimmers and athletes competing to try and help themselves swim faster as there is less “drag” in the water by wearing them.  This is the only acceptable time in America for a man to wear a “banana hammock”.  But it’s really the woman’s opinion that matters here.

“So Jackie, do you ever think that it looks good on a guy?”

“Uh, no!” she replied without hesitation.  “I don’t know any American girls that like them.”

“But European women must think it looks good, right?” I asked her.

“I don’t know…. Maybe,” she said with doubt.

“Why would men wear them if the women didn’t like them?”  This was my big question.  I thought that must be true.  European women must like them.  Otherwise, if women in Europe felt the same way about the banana hammock as women in America did well men wouldn’t wear them right?

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a French/American girl in L.A. named Veronique.  She’s smart, funny, sexy and carries about herself an air of self-assuredness, confidence and a true love of life that makes being around her a joy.  And she has traveled, she’s worldly.  We’ve become friends and about a year ago she moved back to France.  She’s the only European woman I know that I felt comfortable enough approaching this subject with.  Jake and Jackie know Veronique as well and we all agreed “Let’s ask her.”

So I sent her an e-mail.  I told her about our conversation and let her know that we wanted a European woman’s opinion on the matter.  She wrote back with her thoughts and theories about the matter.


I laughed out loud so hard reading this email of yours!!!!!  This is too good!

I don't know if the previous generation of women liked it or found it "sexy" but my goodness I wonder myself (and many other French women I know) what the hell is the deal with that???

Ok most of us (men and women) got used to it for it is simply normal here but we make jokes about it too.

I have a few theories:


Most European men don't like to have wet clothe sticking to their thighs with the hair and all so they prefer to wear the tiny thing that in french slang is called: moule-bite (which literally translates to:  "the thing that molds the dick)

Also as a lot of European pp like to bath in the nude, this might be a polite option.... :-)


Maybe European fathers told their sons that it was very masculine to expose the size of their gift to their surrounding and maybe they thought it was important and appealing for women to see that. What a lovely attention don't you find?!.... :-l

Honestly Bill I really don't know....!  Some mysteries will remain unresolved

Do European women like it? I cannot answer for them but in my case, no, I don't find it "sexy".”

Hooray there is hope.  European women, well at least Veronique, doesn’t like the banana… I mean “moule-bite” either.  I sent her an e-mail back telling her the joy I found in her answer.  I told her that if most European women felt this way then they have the power to rid the world of the banana hammock.  They could join forces and come together and tell flat out and openly how bad it looks for a man to wear those “tiny things”.  It could happen.  Suddenly I felt like Martin Luther King Jr.  “I have been to the mountain top and I can see…” a moule-bite free world on every shore.  What a much better world we would live in with no banana hammocks. 

I proposed this crusade to Veronique but instead she proposed a much darker experiment.

“So now your next mission before leaving Tahiti would be to try out and report the pros and cons of the "moule-bite"!  Yes!  Absolutely Mister Babington, it is part of a very thorough sociological research to add to your documentaries around the world.”


How could I do that?  I wouldn’t even feel comfortable buying a pair. 

I thought about it for a long time.  Should I go buy a pair?  Give them a try?  When an attractive French woman, like Veronique, says something to you, you listen.  Perhaps there is something “unknown” to me about the joys of wearing a moule-bite.  She has a point.

So I went to the store and bought myself a bright red moule-bite.  I got back to the boat and put them on.  It took me about an hour but I finally got the courage up and went to the beach wearing them and nothing else.  I was timid at first walking around sort of hiding from people. But you couldn’t really hide.  And then I noticed something was different.  Everything was tucked up nice, tight and close.  I felt an incredible comfort at the beach like I’ve never felt before.  Before I knew the pace of my walk had quickened.  I felt strong.  I then started to jog.  It was so incredibly comfortable and different than anything I’ve ever worn.  Soon I was running across the beach at full speed and leaping into the waves.  No worry of things flying all over the place and hurting myself.  I dove gleefully over the waves and body surfed fearlessly.  I was in complete joy and
comfort and frolicked in the sea like I was 10 years old.  It was… Magnifique!

I ran out of the sea onto the beach and stopped.  I stood there soaking up the moment.  My body and moule-bite glistened in the tropical sunshine.  A feeling started to grow in my chest.  It swelled and soon my whole being and I was overwhelmed with the sensation of putting myself out there for the entire world to see.  I felt like I was… THE KING OF THE JUNGLE!  It felt incredible to be so bold, courageous and free.  I think I shall never take off my new bright red moule-bite. 

And then…..


Except maybe in private for some very very special woman… if she wanted me to.

And as I was finishing this log entry an Englishman in his late 60’s emerged on deck of the vessel anchored next to me.  He was wearing a moule-bite.  He turned around to reveal that his moule-bite was a different than most.  His was also a thong.  My hopes of a moule-bite free world dashed.

Much Aloha,


Monday August 1st, 2011
- 14:16 Local Bora Bora time

Update:  18 days and still no new roach sightings.  My confidence grows a little more as each day passes without a sighting but of course I remain on constant guard.

We’ve been in Bora Bora, which actually means “First Born” in Tahitian, for a little over a week now.  It’s been nice to stay put for awhile.  Jake and I did a dive with a local dive charter the other day and on Saturday we hiked to the the top of one of the main peaks on the island.  It’s about a 2 hour hike each way.  You hike up through the lowlands and head up into the jungle.  The jungle is thick and the mountains is steep.  Many areas were slick and slippery as there has been a lot of rain here lately.  It was good to get the heart rate up and stretch the legs, and the arms too.  At different points along the trail there were ropes you’d use to assist in climbing up and repeling down.  A crusier friend we’ve met named Jerry on a boat called Pacific High joined us and we spent the morning hiking up, having a lite lunch at the summit and hiking back down.  The views were magnificent and I’ll never look at a picture of Bora Bora again without thinking about that climb.

Those that know Jake know what great shape he’s in and his constant swimming and paddling well…. let’s just say that Jerry and I were not leading the way too often. I will say hiking with Jake is sort of like hiking with a ghost.  You look up and you just get a glimpse of him through the foliage and he disappears.  I kept waiting to hear a loud shrill cackle that echoed off the mountain as his apparition floated away and faded into the darkness of the dense jungle.  The laughter came at the summit and we all marveled at the view.  Bora Bora is breathtaking.

With all that said paradise is not without its problems.  I get the feeling and sense of an underlying animosity here towards the tourist and especially towards the French.  Our friend Jerry, who is a very kind hearted, mild sweetheart of a guy told us an almost unbelievable story about his first visit to Bora Bora last year.  Jerry is in his early 50’s and he’s in good shape because of the active lifestyle he lives.  Within less than 5 minutes of stepping foot on the island he walked through the grounds of the yacht club out onto the street.  Seconds later a wild eyed islander approached him and started beating the crap out of him.  Jerry didn’t fight back, he really didn’t know what was happening.  The guy beat Jerry furiously putting a gash over his nose and Jerry dislocated his finger while attempting to block the blows to his face.  Fortunately other islanders came to Jerry’s aid and the guy ran off.  The islander was eventually apprehended or turned himself in (that part we don’t exactly know) and was high on some drug.  But something caused this guy to go berserk at the sight of Jerry.  Jerry believes that the guy mistakenly took Jerry for some French guy.  We don’t really know that either.  What we do know is that Jerry had a dark introduction to Bora Bora.  Jerry’s story brought many other questions to mind for me and sort of validated this weird feeling I get every now and again from the islanders.  I am quick to tell an islander “Je suis American” – “I’m an American”.  Some here believe that the French are losing a bit of control of the islands.  But we watch too a lot of the “good” and “respected” jobs seem to be held by French people.  While watching all the Airport shuttle boats that run people to and from the airport.  You have to take a boat to the airport here, that’s pretty cool.  There are probably a half a dozen boats with a Captain and about 4 deckhands per boat.  All the deckhands are islanders.  All the Captains are
white French guys.  I don’t know if it’s just like that or what.  It’s just an observation.

I was also told to watch too what goes on when you go to the grocery store.  The majority of the grocery stores we’ve been to are owned by Chinese.  Chinese came to these islands many years ago as cheap labor when an Irishman named William Stewart tried to start a cotton plantation in Tahiti during the world cotton crisis caused by the U.S. Civil War.  Stewart brought Chinese workers over to pick cotton as the islanders refused to do that work.

When the civil war ended, so did hopes for Stewart’s cotton plantation in Tahiti as the U.S. started producing cotton again.  The Chinese, however, loved the islands and stayed. 

I was told to watch the islanders when they check out at the grocery store.  They never pay for anything. 

Instead the cashier will pull out a notebook with a long ledger on it and will mark down next to their name the price of goods “purchased”.  Well they are not purchasing them.  The stores are giving them the goods almost as a loan.  Then one day, (we’ve been told) the store owner will go to the customer and demand payment for all the goods that are long overdue.  When the islanders can’t come up with the cash to pay their bill the storeowner instead takes their land as collateral.

When I was at the store the other day I watched and that’s what I saw.  Islanders checking out without paying and the cashiers writing down in a book the wares they have purchased.  In fact there is a ledger on the Chin Lee grocery store wall with all these family names on them and what they owe.  Kind of weird.  Like your debt is out on display for all the town to see.

I’ve often wondered how the locals afford to live here as everything is so expensive.  I guess that’s how some do it.  They just go deeper in debt.  It reminds me of the coal mining song where the chorus says “16 tons, what do you get?  Another day older and deeper in debt.  St. Peter don’t ya call me ‘cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store”.

Jackie and I were talking about how the islanders must feel here.  Their homes are not much more than cinderblock walls with tin roofs.  Most of the homes have no glass or screens but just cut out areas for windows.  Some of the windows have sun bleached and torn flower patterned fabric blowing through them for curtains.  The floors are usually rickety planked platforms that look as if they were hurriedly nailed together. 

They’re poor.  And they are constantly catering to people who come here to wine, dine, buy pearls and spend money.  They stay on their yachts or in fancy resorts.  To them they see rich people all around them coming to their island.  When they look inward to themselves and to those that live here, they see poor people.  I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to an islander but I hope to soon.  Perhaps I can find a better understanding of the locals here and how they feel about things.  I do, however, get an uncomfortable vibe from them.

and I are anchored off the Bora Bora Yacht Club.  That sounds fancy but it really isn’t.  It’s not much more than a thatched roofed building with a deck and a pier.  They have an internet connection and they sell cold beer and serve dinner.  The moorings here are less than $10 a day if you stay here for a week or more. 

There are close to twenty boats from all parts of the world moored here on any given morning.  Every morning from just before sunrise for two hours local fishing boats will fly through the anchorage at full throttle right by the boats.  Some of them get so close that I could leap aboard them from Solstice as they pass by.  It is so dangerous.  I dare not swim off the boat for fear of being run over.  Sometimes they’ll smile and give you a friendly wave but most times they stare straight ahead as they bear down at top speed and pass very close to the boats.  They blow by sending a wake that hits the hull of the boat hard.  I get the feeling that they do it on purpose.  Just to remind people that this is their island and they can do as they please.  I may be wrong but that’s the feeling I get.

Like everything it’s a complicated situation.  I have no idea what the answer is or if there is a good solution.  Their island home seems to be slowly slipping away from them and they’re trying hard to hold on to what they have.  Perhaps someday the Islanders, the Chinese and the French will figure a way to all share in the wealth that this land has to offer in the same way we all share in the beauty of the lagoons, the beaches and the mountains.

Of course as I’m ending this log entry a yachty in a dinghy just flew by Solstice’s bow at top speed only a few feet away.  Hmm….

Until later,


Saturday July 30th, 2011- 02:08 Local Bora Bora time

It’s a little after 2am and I can’t sleep.  I’m not really sure why.  I haven’t slept too well the last few nights.  Maybe it’s the weather.  It’s blowing a bit outside with gusts up to 25 knots or so.  It’s been blowing a little the last few days. Life’s different aboard when the wind blows when you’re at anchor as opposed to the slip. 

Actually, I lied, I’m not at anchor, I’m moored.  I’m figuring this out now.  That’s why I haven’t slept as well.  I have very good ground tackle and I’d rather be at anchor when it’s blowing than at a mooring.  Who knows what the condition of the mooring line I’m on is.  I know what the condition of my anchor gear is.

For those who don’t know, a mooring is basically a buoy with a line to it that goes down and attaches to some big concrete block on the bottom.  These lines get old and rot if not replaced frequently and often mooring lines break or the concrete block, if not sized for the proper boat can drag.  So there’s a bit less of a peace of mind while on a mooring than on anchor, at least for me.

Update:  I just got up and did a check in the salon and main galley.  I’m happy to report 16 days and still no live roach sightings. I’m feeling very good about the impact I’ve had on ridding them but as usual I remain on constant guard.

Dana and Peggy left us on Tuesday and Jackie’s Mom and her sister Shannon arrived yesterday, well actually the day before yesterday as its 2am on Saturday now. 

Things have just started to slow down a little for us and right on time Solstice has decided to give me more boat projects to do.  I had just got done dropping off some laundry.  Laundry in French Polynesia is another story but a load of laundry is approximately $32 U.S.  Yes that is correct.  $32/load. That does include drying.  You can elect to not dry the clothes for a cheaper price.  I could go on for days about the frustration and expense of doing laundry in French Polynesia but that’s another story.  Actually you can’t “do” laundry here unless you have your own machines or a bucket.  You must “have” your laundry done by somebody else.

Anyway, I got back to the boat and wanted to fire up the engine to charge the batteries and make water with the watermaker at the same time.  Jackie’s Mom being in town I wanted to shower too as we were all going out to dinner.  Since my hot water heater exploded on the way down to Mexico I have been well… taking cold showers.  Which actually has been just fine, most of the time, as the weather is hot here.  My routine has been to go up on the aft deck, I have a nice freshwater outlet and hose with great pressure so I shower there.  I wear my bathing suit so it’s just fine and I don’t scare off any of the neighbors anchored nearby.  At
least I don’t think I do.

Everything was going great.  I was making water, charging batteries and getting a great shower on the aft deck.  I went below after drying off and immediately smelled something, well different.  When you live on a boat your senses are very aware of noticing anything different.  Boats can be loud with howling wind, clanging lines, the sea rushing past the hull but all those are familiar sounds.  And peaceful sounds most of the time. 

But if there’s an odd clank, or bump or anything unusual you pick it up immediately.  A strange sound on the boat will awaken me instantly as there’s this underlying fear that the boat has lost its mooring or you’re not anchored anymore and instead you’re drifting aimlessly upon the sea and running into something.  Well maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but not a lot.

This smell struck me that way.  Something was not right.

UH-OH!  No good.  Immediately I checked the temperature of the engine.  It was fine.

Okay, I’m not burning up the engine.

So in an effort to find the problem quickly I opted to leave the engine running.  I opened the engine room doors on the starboard side.  Everything looked fine.  I opened the engine on the port side.  I noticed a large piece of sound barrier insulation foam that was glued to the ceiling of the engine room had decided to let go and hurl itself atop the exhaust manifold.  That’s gets very hot.

There it is!  And I pulled the tired old foam piece off the manifold and tossed it in the trash can.

Problem solved.  It still smelled a bit but I convinced myself it was residual from the foam melting atop the muffler.

I went forward and turned on the faucet in the forward sink to shave.


The water pressure was really strong.

Wow!  I guess the batteries are getting pretty charged and pumping the freshwater pump better.

In the process of shaving I turned the water on and off a few times as not to waste water.  After all, I do live on a boat.  Water is precious.


The water was strong each time I opened the faucet.  I then went to the sink in the galley and opened the faucet there out of curiosity.


Super strong pressure there too.

Something’s wrong. 

With the engine and the watermaker running I couldn’t hear the water pump running.  I turned the engine off.

The low hum of the water pump running was emanating from under the floor boards where it’s mounted.  The thing is the faucet was shut off.  The water pump should not be running.

I turned off the power switch for the pump.  I pulled open the floorboard and there was the real source of the odor.  The end of the water pump had melted around the pressure relief switch.

So, I am getting a new water pump shipped to me along with my repaired SSB radio that crapped out on me in Mexico.  I will try and salvage this one or return it to West Marine when I get to one as I bought the extended warranty for this one.  I think the nearest one is in New Zealand. 

Showers now consist of filling a bucket with freshwater and setting it on the aft deck.  I jump into the ocean to get wet.  Climb the ladder up to the aft deck.  Lather up with soap on my body and shampoo in my hair and then jump back in the ocean to rinse.  If I feel another pass is needed I repeat the lather up a second time and jump back in the ocean to rinse.  Once I’m satisfied I’m squeaky clean, I do a freshwater rinse with the water from the bucket.  Ahh, the life of cruising and sailing around the world. 

Perhaps when I reach New Zealand, I’ll be able to find a water heater for the boat and once again, I’ll be able to have nice hot showers down below like civilized boaters.  Is that a misnomer?

Much Aloha,



Sunday July 24, 2011 - 08:43 Local Bora Bora time

FYI - The best webmaster ever is coming to Bora Bora for a long overdue vacation and the ship’s log page will be updated when she returns in mid-August.

Update:  10 days and still no new roach sightings. I remain, very much on guard and constantly diligent to prevent it from happening again.

We arrived in Bora Bora yesterday after a 4 hour motor.  I was really hoping for a nice leisure sail instead there was no wind and we motored the whole way.

Since Dana and Peggy arrived we’ve been on the go and been to three isalnds and 6 different anchorages in the past 4 days.  I’ve had little time to write much.  I’m getting quite good though at handling Solstice solo.  Though at times, she’s overwhelming and I’m surprised to find myself exhausted when most of the work is done getting her from one place to the next. 

I was also shocked when I stepped on a scale a few weeks ago and learned that I’ve lost about 25 lbs. since leaving Redondo.  My pants and shorts which are all 33 or 34 have all become quite loose.  I feel good though and strong and except for the normal aches and pains of the wear and tear on a 47 year old body and I’m content to be back down to my “fighting weight”.  I now weigh about the same as I did when I was on South Pacific trip with Jake and John 13 years ago.

I’m sitting in the cockpit having a cup of coffee and enjoying the peace of the morning here in Bora Bora.  The sun has just popped up over the green lush volcanic ridges of the island is starting to fill the lagoon with light.  The island is awakening.

Bora Bora is much different than the other islands as it exudes the “Tahiti resort” feel that the other islands don’t.  It caters to the tourist and there are many luxury hotels lining the motus and the turquoise waters of the lagoon.

Raiatea and Tahaa are much more low key.  With the exception of cruising yachts and visitors at the few hotels most tourists traveling to French Polyneisa bypass those islands and head here to Bora Bora or Tahiti.  We plan to be here for 2 to 3 weeks so I hope to learn new things about Bora Bora that I never knew.  Jake, John and I met a local here named Noah that we’re hoping to find again.  He would be a great tourist guide for us.

Our time in Tahaa was spent mostly snorkeling and swimming and going from one beautiful anchorage to the next.  We did snorkel in a motu off one of the hotels in a place called “coral gardens”.  In all honestly the coral looks terrible.  Like many reefs around resorts it is overrun by tourists and the coral is dying or dead.  I think most people don’t really notice it as the water is still very clear and there is an abundance of fish and they have nothing to compare it to.  As soon as you enter the water you are surrounded by fish.  It’s obvious that tour guides and groups come here with food in hand to feed them.  I wish these groups would make more of an effort to preserve the reefs they are utilizing to support their livelihood.  I don’t think it would take much except to close different areas for different lengths of time so that the reefs have time to recover.  So much of the coral was covered with a cobweb-like material that seemed to be suffocating the coral. 

There is a man on Tahaa, however, who is all about giving back to the sea.  His name is Leo.  Leo runs a hotel called the Hibiscus Hotel on Tahaa and we met him back in ’98.  As soon as we set the anchor in Haamene Bay we hoped in our dinghies and headed off to the hotel.  13 years ago, Leo was tired of seeing the loss of the sea turtles in the islands.  So he decided to do something about it.  Some of the fishermen back there would still catch and sell the turtles for food.  They’re a delicacy.  They’re also endangered.  Leo started going to the fishermen and paid higher prices for the turtles and he took him back to his hotel.  There he had built some pens by his pier for the hotel where he put the turtles.  He’d nurse them back to health and release them. 

I was excited to see if Leo was still there.  We pulled up to the pier and the large pen where all the turtles once were seemed run down and abandoned.  My heart sank.  Was Leo no longer there?  Why is it that so many people trying to do something good have to struggle to make it happen?

“Hey they’re over here,” Jake said.

A smaller area had been penned off and about a half a dozen turtles were swimming about.  Some had scars and cuts on them, all were eating and looked to be getting healthier.


We all went inside to the bar area where we hoped to get a cold Hinano.  I hoped to see Leo.  The inside of the hotel dining area is decorated with flags hanging from the rafters from all over the world.  Like the old pen, parts of the hotel seemed run down.  But with a closer look you could feel that it was also rich in history and it had a story to tell.  Behind a small petition hidden in the back corner was a desk with an older man sitting at a ledger doing paperwork.  I would’ve guessed Leo to have been in his early 60’s in ’98 when we met him.  I went straight back to the corner and poked my head around the petition.

“Leo?” I asked.

The old man turned to me and peered over the glasses that sat perched on the tip of his nose.

Damn it’s Leo,
I happily said to myself.

“Leo,” he smiled without opening his mouth at the sound of his name.

“My name is Bill.  I met you here 13 years ago,” I explained.

Leo stood up.  He’s a big man, 6’5”.  He slowly approached me as a turtle would, curious and forthright.  We shook hands and I told him how we were here so long ago when he started rescuing turtles.  Leo is French, his English is very broken and a lot got lost in translation as we communicated.  But there is fire in his eyes that would put a 21 year old to shame.  And with that we connected on a level where there was no miscommunication.  We talked about the plight of the turtles and how his efforts were going.  He seemed disappointed about them rebounding but was still as determined as ever in his mission to save them.  In fact, now he tags all those that he releases and has details about each turtle.

Leo walked over to the bar and we ordered a round of beers.  Along with the beers he gave Jake and I a sheet of paper.  The paper explained the sanctuaries mission and how you could help.  The flyer said that you could help by sponsoring a turtle for $1000 euros and actually take place in helping tag and release a turtle. 

When I read it something clicked.

“Jake, we need to interview Leo.  And we should sponsor a turtle and videotape it for Island Earth.  It will be our first real story to tell video-wise,” I said.

Jake agreed.  And so we made arrangements to come back to Tahaa after our visit to Bora Bora to see Leo, to interview him and videotape the whole thing.  When I told Leo about our idea the spark in his eye turned brighter and the smile on his tightly lipped mouth spread bigger.  Leo has the striking resemblance of a turtle.

“Okay, Bill.  We will do it.”  Leo said with a strong handshake.

We headed back to the boats at full throttle racing each others dinghies the whole way.  Leo’s fire was infectious and his enthusiasm had overflowed into me.  And something he told me 13 years ago rushed into my memory.

“If you don’t do anything worthwhile in this world, you’ll just die an idiot,” I laughed at the memory and I think he’s right.

I cannot wait to get back to Tahaa and to spend some more time with Leo.  To learn from him, to see the world as he sees it and to release a turtle back into the sea.

Much Aloha,


Update:  I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails since my last posting about the varmints onboard so I wanted to say right off the bat that since the major assault I have been diligent about getting up two or three times a night, grabbing the spray can before turning on the lights and then being ready and aimed for pursuit of fleeing roaches.  For 6 days I saw nothing.  Then just as I was starting to relax, at about 3am I saw one small one on the galley counter when I turned on the lights and…


Hit him directly with the spray and promptly executed him.  That was 6 days ago.  I have seen nothing since. And none of the traps have caught anything either.  So in 12 days I’ve seen only that one small one.  I am cautiously optimistic that I’ve rid the varmints from the boat but I remain on constant guard, however, and only time will tell when I feel that I can relax with complete peace of mind knowing they are all gone for sure.  I will update you again as time passes.

Thursday July 21, 2011 - 04:15 Local Raiatea Time

Check out the new Raiatea Photo Album in the Solstice Photo Gallery

It’s early morning here and for some reason I’m wide awake and can’t sleep.  Dana and Peggy, our friends from King Harbor arrived last night.  Jake and Jackie bought their old boat Hokulani from them years ago and have been close friends ever since.  They are staying aboard Hokule’a

It’s really great having friends come visit.  It’s a connection to back home and they bring with them the reality of home being there for us and all the friends we left there.

Often throughout the years living in King Harbor on a Friday or Saturday afternoon and evening there was a sound that was familiar as the herons and seagulls.  Jackie’s laughter for some reason always carried a great distance in the harbor.  She has this wonderful uniquely pitched laugh that drifts for many docks.  I would always know when they had guest aboard as I’d sit in the cockpit enjoying a sunset as every now and again Jackie’s laughter would come drifting across the water to my ears.  It always made me smile.  And then wonder… Hey why wasn’t I invited?  Well, not really. 

Last night I heard that laughter again and often drifting over the wateras I watched the sunset drop over the sea just to the west of Bora Bora in the distance.  It was beautiful and I’m so happy Dana and Peggy are here, it’s going to be a great week.

We’re off in a few hours to explore the nearby island and motus of Tahaa (pronounced Tah-Ah-Ha).  Perhaps that’s why I can’t sleep right now.  I’M EXCITED!

Much Aloha,


Tuesday July 19, 2011
- 09:30 Local Raiatea Time

The crossing from Moorea to Raiatea was almost 100 nautical miles exactly.  We, or should I say Jake, planned our departure and arrival perfectly.  20-25 knot winds were forecast to start Saturday and right on schedule they started to blow about ½ hour after we came in through the pass in Raiatea.  They say down here that you should factor in a 5 to 10 knot increase on what is forecast because that is what you will get.  In the little time I’ve been here I’d say that’s a good rule of thumb.

In our overnighter to Raiatea the most I saw was a brief gust to 18 knots.  The wind was far aft and would not keep the jib full.  Being solo you sit and stare and think a lot.  There’s nobody to talk to (except yourself and the boat) so you think.  It’s sort of like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” where that piece of plastic washes up on the beach and he watches it for what seems like an eternity.  The wind blows it up and down on the beach and he sits there just watching the wind blow it.  Eventually he makes the connection that he can use the plastic as a sail for his raft.  Like Tom Hanks I sat there staring at the sails that way trying to figure out what to do.  The jib would not stay full for a bunch of reasons.  The seas were big, confused and sloppy.  Solstice rolled all over the place from rail to rail.  The wind was about 14 knots, perfect, right?  Well when a big rolling seaway is rolling rail to rail the wind isn’t strong enough to keep it full.  We were on a starboard tack.  Solstice would roll heavily to port and the wind would spill out of the sail.



The wind would suddenly rush back into the sail as Solstice rolled back to starboard.  This would happen several times a minute.  It’s hell on the sail and on the rig.  Something had to change.

 “Solstice, Solstice, this is Hokule’a do you copy?”  Jake’s voice crackled over the radio.  He was on time for our 2 hour check-in.

“Go to six, eight Jake”, I replied.

Channel 16 is for emergencies and for hailing other vessels.  If you just want to chat you need to go to a chatting channel.  One of them is channel 68.

“Six, eight”

“Hey Dude, how’s it going over there?” I asked.

“We’re rolling all over the place.  How much of your jib do you have out?”

“About two thirds.”  Because of the forecast we elected to put a double reef in the main and keep the jib tight too.

“Yeah, me too.”

“I’m thinking about dropping the main and sailing with just the jib,” I said.

“Jackie and I were having the exact same conversation,” Jake said.

I was able to sheet in the main and head down wind enough in the light breeze to be able to pull the main down without changing course.  Once the main was down I rolled the jib all the way out.  In addition to the seaway keeping the wind out of the jib, so was the mainsail as we were running so far downwind and it was blanketing the jib.

Solstice still rolled from port to starboard but the jib stayed full and the auto-pilot worked much better.

There’s something magical about being out at sea.  It doesn’t matter if I’m going for a sunset sail or I’m crossing an ocean.  I’m catapulted into the now and I’m immersed in the environment. 

A near full moon rose in the east and cast a beautiful sparkling light across the ocean to Solstice.  The rolling sloppy sea was uncomfortable at times but I soaked in the beauty of the night.  There was an incredible feeling of peace aboard Solstice that night as we sailed towards Raiatea.

I’m starting to learn that the short 2-day or less crossings are sometimes harder than the longer 5 day or more crossings when you’re solo.  With the longer crossings I find that when you have a lot more sea-room you can relax about going down below to “Catch some shut-eye”, as Captain Ron would say.  It’s a lot less nerve racking on the longer passages than on the short ones.  During the short ones I’m on constant alert and guard for two major reasons:  1) Running into other boats as there is a lot more traffic and or 2) running aground as there is a lot more natural obstacles too.  Neither one of those are good things.

I don’t try and sleep during the day.  I elect to stay awake as long as I can and then try and get some “naps” in.  Unfortunately I found myself jumping up every 15 to 20 minutes to check on things.  In my ignorance of “this is a short crossing” I elected to not put up a lee cloth.  I figured that we’ll be on a starboard tack and I’ll just put myself in the port satee and they’re I’ll stay.  A one nighter, I’ll be fine - … no leecloth needed.

As usual, I told Solstice she was on watch and to wake me if she needed me.  I was exhausted and pleasantly surprised to find I fell asleep quickly.  I guess Solstice needed me awake or didn’t want to be on watch because she rolled hard to port and then quickly to starboard and I was launched up and out from my bunk and…


Hit the main salon floor hard.

I said to myself. 

I guess those things really work.

Our last hour approaching the pass and the two hours after we got inside the reef were plagued with a lot of short heavy downpours.  The sky would open up and heaven would pour down an incredible amount of water upon us.  Hokule’a was nearby but in a matter of seconds she and the island would disappear behind sheets of rain only to reveal themselves again 10 minutes later.  Sometimes with a beautiful rainbow.  It was fun and electrifying.  No thunder or lightening, just heavy rain.

13 years ago when Jake and I were here we could pull up and anchor in a lot of places with no word to anybody.  Lots of small coves with quiet anchorages.  Well  capitalism is alive and well in French Polynesia. 

Most of these anchorages are now filled with moorings and you have to pay to stay here for the night.  In their defense, it saves the coral from being hurt from anchors but in most of these bays in particular on
Raiatea the bottom is all dark mud.  Nothing harmed here by anchors.  My guess is they’ve just found another way to make money.  It took us a couple of hours of motoring around to figure it out.  Sort of like trying to find a parking spot at the mall two days before Christmas. 

Eventually we found a beautiful cove here and cleaned the boats up and did some chores while waiting for Dana and Peggy to arrive.

The most interesting thing has been laundry.  For some reason here they do not believe in dryers.  In Papeete there is no coin operated laundry at all.  You can do your laundry in a bucket or take it to a professional where they wash, dry, press and fold and even deliver in sealed plastic bags.  For about 3 loads of laundry it cost near $100 U.S. dollars.  I opted to spend the money and get my clothes very clean.

Here in Raiatea Jackie and I were super excited to learn they had laundry here at the marina.  But only a washer, no dryer.  The washer is small here.  Not too many clothes fit for a load.  Fortunately I’m single so I thought I didn’t have much to do.  It took three loads.  I brought the wet clothes back to hang up to dry all around the boat.   The washer spun them very well and got most of the water out.  Unfortunately the bright blue sunny skies disappeared and a hard downpour came as soon as I got all the clothes hung up.  Needless to say I got a couple of natural rinse cycles.  Eventually all the clothes dried.

Life as a pirate…

Much Aloha,


Read the July 10th
and July 14th log entries below before reading the July 15th log entry. You will understand why afterwards:)

Friday July 15, 2011
- 18:02 Moorea Local Time

We just left Moorea bound for Raiatea (pronounced Rye-A-Tay-Ah).  We left the pass in Cook’s Bay about an hour and half ago and the sunset is setting over the horizon off the bow.  I’m sailing into a twilight sky and I’ve 90.65 nautical miles to go.  The weather forecast calls for 20-25 knots so I put in a double reef and we’re sailing comfortably at about 6.5 to 7 knots.  Right now we have only about 11-15 knots of wind.  We should make landfall somewhere between 0730 to 0830 if everything goes okay and King Neptune and the powers that be allow us a safe crossing.

I was sitting here in the cockpit thinking about my last log entry and how it might be received and I totally forgot about the part of the story that prompted me to share this with everyone in the first place.

Our last night in Papeete Jake, Jackie and I decided to go out and have dinner and perhaps see a little of the “night life” as the only night life in French Polynesia is in Papeete.  We went out and eventually ended up in a club where we people watched for an hour or so before heading back to the boats.  We’re old now so we don’t hang all night with the young kids.  Besides we had to get up and shove off to Moorea in the morning.  But we laughed a lot about our lives and how we’ve all ended up here in the middle of the South Pacific.  We shared a lot too about the hard parts of it all too.  We talked about the leaving of friends and family and the overall change that has happened to our comfort zones and our lives.  All so we could head out to sea to get our butts kicked around by Mother Ocean. 

Jackie also ended up telling us a story about a lettuce drier she bought on-line from Amazon and how you swing it over your head like a lasso and it spins the water out.  Jackie demonstrated the entire maneuver and then she just started laughing so hard.  She laughed as she swung her hips and her hand overhead like she was the winner of the Rodeo Lasso Queen Award.  She laughed as she swung and explained about how great it really works.  I have not seen Jackie laugh that hard in many many years.  It was infectious and before I knew we were all laughing together.  My face hurt from grinning by the time we left.  It was a great evening.

In the end we went home early and though we had a few drinks none of us were drunk.  I had that perfect amount that just gave me the giggles and that overwhelming feeling I get now and again about the love of being alive.

When I’ve had that amount of wine sometimes strange things happen that I can’t explain.  For instance the night I tried to crawl into bed with my step-mother-in-law or the evening I wound up under a tree sleeping with a three-legged pig next to me.  But those are stories for another time.  The happening this night was the reason I wanted to tell the roach story in the first place.

We were heading to Moorea about mid-morning the next day so I went straight to bed when we got home.  My head hit the pillow and I was out hard.   Dreams then filled my slumber.  Not dreams from the happy thoughts that were swirling in my head as I laid down but dreams about cockroaches.  They were everywhere and I was determined to stop them.  I got up and there on the main salon counter was a giant spray can of the “Bygone”, the stuff I’ve been using.  It was a HUGE can.  I knew it would do the trick.  At the nozzle it had a long hose and a safety ring you had to pull to activate it.  I grabbed it and pulled the pin.  The hunt was on.  I was in search of this dreaded cockroach.  He was the last one onboard and I had to get him.  Then there he was in the galley.  He ran faster than any of the others and when he got to a corner he did a backwards hand spring off the wall and backflipped over my head and landed on the main salon table.  I turned around to face him.  He leapt from the table to the floor and headed to the forward cabin.  I ran fast in hot pursuit.  I chased him through the cabin and into the forward head.  He leapt up on the toilet lid and sprang to the counter top and into the corner.


I raised the nozzle and took aim.  He was right there dead to rites.  I fired.


The loud sound woke me up immediately.  I found myself standing naked (I sleep in the nude) in the forward head with a fire extinguisher in my hand that I had just set off.  White powder dust was all over the wall and counter.  There was no cockroach covered up with white dust. 


I stood there, dumbfounded.  I looked down at myself, at the fire extinguisher in my hand, and at the white powder all over the countertop and wall.  I slowly connected the dots about what just happened.

“WHAT A MORON!  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled at myself out loud again.

I fumbled with the plastic safety ring key to put back in the extinguisher.  I could not figure out how it went back together.  The synapses in my mind were still not firing.  I was still half asleep.  I tried a bunch of different angles but it would not go anyway I tried.  I shook my head, trying to clear it.  Eventually I had the sense enough to go look at one of the other fire extinguishers and saw how it went back together.  I hung the fire extinguisher back in the holder I had removed it from.  I don’t even remember removing it.  Slowly I woke all the way up.  I got out the vacuum and tried to clean up the mess.  The vacuum doesn’t work to well cleaning up fire extinguisher discharge.  Beside the powder sort of got hard in places and wasn’t really powder any more.  I got sponges and a bucket and cleaned everything up. 

When I was done, I crawled my dumb ass back to bed and lay down again.  I sat there staring at the ceiling in the aft cabin.  Look what this whole thing has done to me?, I thought.  It was plaguing my sleep and I’m sleep walking, (or running) around naked in my boat with a fire extinguisher.  Before too long a big smile crept across across my face at thought of it all.  I wonder if I yelled out “Die you fucking cockroach”.  I started to laugh.  WHAT A COMPLETE AND UDDER DORK I AM.   The laugh started subtly but soon turned into a full on out loud belly laugh.  Eventually, I laughed myself to sleep and had happier dreams the rest of the night.

Much Aloha,


"THE Cockroaches" (click on an image below if you really want to see the enlarged image of Bill's handiwork - gross! Hmmm, I'm not really sure that I want you to fix dinner for me when I visit, Bill).

Thursday July 14, 2011 – Bastille Day - 15:26 Moorea Time

In a nutshell here’s what’s happened since the last bombing.  I spent 12 hours cleaning the inside of the boat.  Solstice hasn’t had a cleaning like that in years.  And she gets lots of cleaning.  I left powder and spray only in deep bilge areas where I don’t really go often.  I have packed all food that isn’t in tin cans or tightly sealed in the freezer and refrigerator.  In all my cleaning I saw no more roaches.  Once the boat was clean I set out more traps in strategic places.  They have caught a total of three tiny ones.  I did catch one bigger one in a trap but it’s unclear when he was there because he’s been dead for some time.  Sunday night, after having dinner with Jake and Jackie I came back to the boat and saw one on the galley counter.


I hit him immediately with spray and he died.  He didn’t run at all so perhaps he was dying.  I don’t know. 

That was Sunday night.  3 ½ days ago.  I have not seen a live one since.  The only dead one was the one I mentioned earlier that was in one of the other traps that I forgot to look at so I’m not sure when that one got in there.  The other traps have caught no new ones in about four days or more.

So I am hoping and praying that I’ve annihilated them.  Please send me positive vibes and prayers that they are gone.

I will leave this log entry with this.  I have always prided myself in keeping a clean vessel and one that is always ship shape, safe and seaworthy.  That is one of the reasons why this has been so very hard for me.  I feel I am doing absolutely everything in my power to rid them from the boat outside of hiring an exterminator to come aboard but I really don’t think he’d do much more than what I’ve already done.  Solstice is very clean and I have seen no signs otherwise.  I have also been even more anal and diligent about anything brought aboard so that this will never happen again.  I trust that it won’t.

So that’s it for now.  We’re off to Raiatea late tomorrow.  I’m not sure what internet connections are like there but hopefully they are good and I will be able to send the latest update sooner than later.  Friends Dana and Peggy from A-dock are coming to stay aboard Hokule’a for a week.  I wonder if they’ll come visit Solstice
after reading this latest log entry.

Much Aloha,


Sunday July 10, 2011
- 13:39 Moorea, Local Time

We left Tahiti yesterday and after a nice short 3 ½ hour motor we arrived in Upunohu, Bay.  It’s been our shortest crossing anywhere since leaving Catalina.  So nice.  The anchorage here is the flattest we’ve been in yet.  Steep volcanic cliffs covered with lush tropical jungle makes for the perfect South Pacific setting.  In fact this bay was the backdrop for the film South Pacific as well as countless other films that take place in the South Pacific.  At least that’s what we’ve been told.  Opunohu is one of the most photographed bays in all of French Polynesia.

Now, I have a confession to make.  I have not written about something that has caused me a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for the past several weeks.  At times it has tested the brink of my sanity and has made me seriously question if me doing all this has been worth it.  It has been my desire from the beginning of this adventure to be open and honest about everything in this log.  Especially with what’s happening with me emotionally as well as Solstice.  So in an effort to be true to that, to myself, and to what I want this log to be I feel that I need to share this.  I also feel that it is important to be open with those of you who are following my travels so that if you may wish to do something  similar some day you can trust that I’m not just telling you the good things or with only how I want it to be perceived.  So with that, here it goes.

About a month ago we were at Manihi atoll.  I awoke early at sunrise so happy to be there as I had just completed my first long solo sail from the Marquesas.  I went into the galley to make coffee.  As I got the percolator going I rummaged for something in the shelf above the stove.  My hand hit a bag of limes and suddenly about eight roaches came fanning like sentries being deployed to set up an invasion.



I freaked out.  I grabbed the bag and ran outside to the aft deck.  You’re not supposed to throw plastic overboard so I turned the bag upside down and started to shake out the limes.


The limes fell into the pristine waters of the lagoon one by one.  I noticed a roach crawling on the outside of the bag near my hand.


I tossed the whole thing overboard.

I ran back below.  I started to pull everything off the shelf.  I grabbed the wicker basket that I’ve had there for years.  I keep ginger, garlic, onions and the like in there.  And….



I ran up top again and hurled the basket overboard.

Back below, I went through the sliding cabinets in the galley.  I grabbed a bag of flour that was almost brand new and packed in a zip lock, one section of the ziplock had come undone. 


I ran outside with it.  In an effort to not throw that bag overboard I turned it over to empty out the flour.  A good 18 knot breeze gust picked up at the right moment was grabbed the flour from the bag and hurled it into the air.  A  huge cloud of white flour dust erupted off the stern of the boat.


I then saw that what didn’t go into the air went all over the dinghy floating in the water.


I tossed that overboard too.

I went through every cabinet on the starboard galley side of the boat.  I grabbed all the fresh produce that I had bought in Nuku Hiva and had soaked in bleach water.  I tossed it all.  Apples, oranges, pompelmoose, pineapple, tomatoes. 


All overboard.

I grabbed pasta that had been opened but stowed in ziplock bags. 


One of the bags was only partially sealed on that too. 

Tons of spaghetti hit the water.  Thankfully spaghetti sinks.  I threw away anything that wasn’t completely sealed or in a tin can.  When I got to a second he bag of flour that was unopened and tossed the entire thing overboard I looked off the stern of the boat.

Finally as the initial frantic panic subsided I caught my breath.  Then I saw the long line of crap that was drifting away from Solstice across the sundrenched azure sea of the lagoon.  The wicker basket lead the way like a boat floating on the sea.  In her wake, fruits and vegetables, plastic bags, flour dust atop the sea, all drifting off towards the town.

I felt terrible about tossing that stuff overboard, but I had no choice.


Back below I got out disinfectants and cleaners and went to work cleaning every cabinet. I knew some of those damn things didn’t make it overboard. My brain swirled with a million questions.

How did they get on the boat?  Where did they get on the boat?  Jackie and I both did a preventative bombing in Mexico as maintenance.

“SHIT!”  Because of that bombing, I now only had one bomb left on the boat.

I’ll have to see if I can borrow one from Jake and Jackie.

Bug bombs are invaluable out here as you can’t get them.  In fact, it was on my list of things to buy and stock up on before I left L.A.  It’s also something that I forgot about.   On Far Niente we got roaches too and had to wait until Papeete to bomb the boat.  Once we got there and bombed though, we got rid of them.

If I can get a bomb from Jake and Jackie, it will be okay.  If not, then I’ll just use the one bomb I have.

I spent the next couple of hours pulling out things from cabinets, opening floorboards, and pulling out drawers.  Preparing to bomb.  By the time I was done it looked like a bomb had already gone off inside the boat.  Crap was everywhere.  I hopped into the dinghy and took off to Hokule’a.

“What?  How?  Where?”  Jackie had all the same questions as I did.  They also handed a spare bomb over in a heartbeat.

“Well you have to get rid of them!”  Jackie said emphatically.

She and I were on the same page.

I got back to the boat, sealed all the ports and hatches.  The instructions say to close up the area to be bombed for 1 ½ to 2 hours.  I planned to keep it sealed for 4 hours.

During the time out of the boat I planned to clean the waterline so I made sure to have everything I could possibly need on deck as I couldn’t go below once I set the bombs off.


I set the bombs off and ran outside and closed and locked the companionway.  I locked it just in case one of them was big enough to push the doors open.  I then noticed that the dorads were not sealed.  Dorads are the metal scoop looking things on the deckhouse of a lot of boats.  They basically allow fresh air (but not water) into the interior of the boat.

DAMMIT!  The fresh air’s going to get in there and all the roaches are gonna run to that little area and breath the fresh air and survive. 

This is how my mind was working.  But there was nothing I could do.  The bombs had been set off.  I couldn’t go below now.  Hopefully there wasn’t enough fresh air to get down below to affect anything.

After that bombing I felt relief.  I put everything away and went back to trying to find some relaxation of being in Manihi.  But that image of roaches fanning out from the bag of limes wouldn’t get out of my mind.  It turned my stomach.  It still does.

I have run over and over and over in my mind how they could’ve gotten aboard.  I’ve been very diligent about washing things.  Even in Nuku Hiva I bought eggs and transferred them to hard carriers.  In fact, before leaving the store front there I lifted an egg to transfer it and there was a roach in the egg carton.  The carton got thrown away and all eggs were washed in a bucket of water and bleach before ever going down below. 

There are a million rules that cruisers learn to abide by to prevent such things like roaches from getting on the boat.  Here are a few:

  • Nothing in cardboard
  • Bay leaves in all flour and flour stowed in ziplock bags.
  • Stow everything in ziplocks.
  • Wash all fresh stuff in water before bringing it on the boat. 

I had done all these things and more since leaving Redondo.  Could they have gotten aboard from the big Costco run we did the day before leaving L.A.?

Another rule, when you’re out and about never put a bag you’re carrying on the floor.  In fact, Jake, Jackie and I laughed as Tony set his bag on the floor in a restaurant in Hiva Oa right before he left to catch his plane to Tahiti.  Then everybody sat their bags on top of Tony’s.

Tony!  Could it have been him?  I recalled Tony had a big bag he set on the floor at the restaurant before he came aboard in La Paz.  We had dinner out there for an hour and a half.  I didn’t think of it at the time but could that have been it?  Maybe it happened when Tony and I provisioned.  I had a pineapple aboard but I soaked that too.  Maybe I didn’t soak it long enough.

I had no idea, all I knew was they were on the boat and I had to get rid of them.

After the bombing I opened the boat up and was relieved to find a couple of dead and or dying roaches.


I started to relax again.  Though now I couldn’t wait to get to Papeete and get some more bombs and re-bomb the boat again.  Just for safety.

The next day we left for Ahe.

While in Ahe I may have noticed a couple of smaller ones that were lethargic and dying.  Then we were off to Rangiroa.

It had been well over a week since that bombing and we were in Rangiroa.  I awoke in the middle of the night to use the rest room and to get glass of water.   It was about 2 am.  I clicked on the galley light.  One scurried across the marble counter top.



I grabbed a paper towel and tried to crush him.


He was too quick and scurried to the safety of a crack by a cabinet.  I couldn’t get to him.


I turned around and another one scurried across the other galley counter. 



I hit him square and crushed him good.

“DIE YOU BASTARD!”  Then I stole a line from Scarface.

“I step on you, you fucking cockroach.”

I took the wadded piece of paper towel and tossed it overboard.

I searched the cabinets for the other one.  I looked all over but I couldn’t find him.

Eventually I went back to bed and lay there with my eyes wide open.  There was no way I could sleep.  All I could think of was that guy in Men In Black where all the cockroaches are crawling out from him.  I started to itch all over.  I couldn’t take it.  What am I gonna do?  What am I gonna do if I have a lot onboard.  I’ve heard nightmare stories about other boats with complete infestations.

That can’t be me, that can’t be me.  That can’t happen to Solstice.

I also thought of a Bloom County strip from years ago where Berke Brethard has his cockroach character bragging to Opus about how when mankind blows themselves up with nuclear bombs the only thing left on the planet will be cockroaches.  Because scientist had proven that cockroaches are one of the few things on the planet that can survive a nuclear bomb.  The little roach is laughing and laughing and Opus is staring down at him.  Finally Opus steps on him.  SPLAT!  I love Opus.  And I miss that comic strip. 

Before I borrowed a bomb from Jake and Jackie I was concerned about talking to them about what had happened.  The last thing I wanted was for them to be grossed out or feel like they’d never want to come and visit me aboard Solstice again.  Or worse, that they wouldn’t want me to visit them.  But I needed to talk to somebody and they were the only ones.  And I needed their help and advice. 

I also believe that everything happens for a reason.  I often feel like there are higher reasons for things that happen and part of our evolvement as human beings is to start learning how this world communicates to us on a higher level of consciousness. 

What could be the higher meaning of this?
, I asked myself.  Jake sort of feels this way too about higher consciousnesses so I thought I’d ask him.

“So Dude, what do you think the higher meaning of roaches on the boat is?”

Jake looked at me and thought about it for a long moment then simply said “Dude, sometimes shit just happens.”

Perhaps he’s right. 

The next day we had planned to rent bikes and bicycle around Rangiroa.  I was happy to get off the boat.  As we biked we stopped at a lot of stores and shops.  At every stop I searched for bombs.  Nothing.  Nobody had anything.  All I found were these little gooey sticky “Roach Traps”.  Sort of like the roach motel.  They’re brightly colored in red white and blue and there’s all these cartoon roaches peering out through windows all distraught and in trouble because they’re trapped.  They look silly like a Disney cartoon.   I picked it up and showed it to Jake.

“This is all they have.  I’m not going to get these,” I told him.

“Dude if it was me and the roaches were on my boat, I’d get anything I could get my hands on right now.”
Jake was right, I bought the traps.  There were five traps in the pack.  You have to assemble them like little a little cardboard puzzle.  I opened a beer and set out to building the roach motels.  I decided to build three and save two.  Not sure why.  That was my plan.  The first one got all gooed up and I folded it in the wrong places.  By the time I got to the third one I was an expert at assembling them.  I set them out strategically. 

Two in cabinets and one on the galley counter.

The next morning one trap had two roaches in it.  The other had one and the third had none. 
EXCELLENT!  Three down.  Maybe they’re the last three.  I tried to reassure myself.

I told Jake the news. 

“Dude, that’s awesome.  You got three!”  Jake acted like I had just caught tournament winning tuna off Cabo.

Now more than ever I couldn’t wait to get to Papeete.

On that crossing I noticed the traps had caught a couple of smaller one. I was happy about that on one hand and bothered on another.

Geez how could there be more?

We arrived on a Sunday in Papeete.  That next morning I was on a mission.  GET BOMBS AND BOMB THE BOAT!

Monday AM we headed out shopping and hit hardware stores.  I used my best charades and pictionary skills to convey the meaning of roach bombs to the French speaking workers at the stores.  Finally, I got my meaning across and was instructed to go to an agricultural store.

Now knowing which charades worked best in my communication, actually it was a drawing of a bottle spraying up in a room and roaches running for their lives that did the trick.  That lead us to the right section where we found what we needed in the first place.  A Tahitian who could speak Englsih.  She found the bombs.  She even read and translated the instructions to us which were in French.  I was glad too that I was somewhere where we should get some good potent bombs.  Nothing the EPA has water-downed too much.  I bought 11 of the 12 bombs they had.  I owed the one to Jake and Jackie that I borrowed and I figured I’d use four now and that would leave me 6 onboard to use if I find the need for them in some other part of the world.
I went to the cash register and almost had a heart attack when she told me the cost.  It was almost $300.  I was floored.  I could’ve put some back, but I didn’t dare.  I put down my card and just wrote it off to the price of getting them off the boat.  Honestly, I think I would have paid twice that if it meant getting rid of them.

The next morning, once again I spent my time readying the boat for the big bomb.  But instead of two I was going to use four bombs.  One in the forward cabin, one in the main salon, on in the galley (maybe I should put two there – no one should be enough) and the last one in the aft cabin.  These were very potent and the boat is a small space.  Footage-wise two bombs was more than enough for the space I was bombing.  I figured twice that was better.  Again, I emptied all cabinets, opened all drawers and floor boards and made Solstice look like a complete disaster.  But this time none were going to survive.  It was ending NOW!

This time I remembered too to pull all the dorads and seal them up.  Everything was shut up.  All ports, hatches, dorads, everything.  I also planned to stay off the boat all day.  A good 8 hour bombing.  That should do it.

I grabbed my dust mask, a pair of goggles and hurried setting them off.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off the one in the forward cabin and ran to the aft cabin.
PPPSSSSHHHHH! -  I set off the aft cabin one and ran to the main salon

COUGH! COUGH!  The dust mask didn’t work too well, (in hindsight I should’ve used my respirator but I wasn’t sure where it was packed away).  The cabin was filling up with insecticide.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off the one in the main salon – I was getting a little dizzy as I ran to the galley.
PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off the galley one, ran up the companionway, pulled and locked the doors.

I went to the aft deck gulped in a lung full of fresh air.  My head was spinning.  Suddenly I wasn’t clear if I had set them all off.

Did I set off all four or just three?  I think I set off four.  Did I forget the one in the main salon?  What about the galley?  I don’t know.

It was too late.  I couldn’t go back below to double check.  I’d have to wait and see.  Besides two should be enough, let alone four.  I was happy to stay off the boat all day.  If it meant leaving the boat locked up for three days and getting rid of them I was happy to do that.

That night I went to Jake and Jackie’s for dinner and had the beautiful tuna dinner that he made.  After dinner and before desert I went over to open up the ports and air the boat out so I could sleep.  It had been well over 8 hours.

Solstice smelled strong of insecticide and I was happy to get some fresh air in there.  I found a couple of small dead ones but that was all.  With so many boat projects to do I didn’t go about putting all the drawers and things away.  I also wanted to be able to peer into cabinets easily to see what may be lurking inside. 

Four days passed and I didn’t see anything.  I had gone to dinner a night earlier and started feeling bad.  I started to get some stomach thing going on.  That night I went to be really early about 7:30.  About 11:00pm I got up to use the rest room and as I had been doing every night, I wanted to check in the galley to make sure the coast was clear.

I moved a dish towel that had been laid out to dry and….



NO!  NO! NO!  HOW COULD THIS BE?  I just bombed the shit out of the boat

I grabbed a paper towel and

SMASH!  I got him before he got away.

Then I turned around and walking on the lip of the trash can in the galley was a small one.


I tried to get him but he fell in between the trash bag and the can.  I pulled the bag out.  He was running around the bottom of the can.


SMASH!  - I crushed the life out of him.


I was beside myself.  I didn’t understand.  How could this be?  I cannot have this happen.  It’s an infestation.  I went back to the aft cabin and there on the floor was another one.


I ran forward and got another paper towel and…

SMASH!  I got him too.

He didn’t run but he was alive.  Maybe he was dying from the earlier bomb, I don’t know.  He was there though.  All of a sudden my stomach ache disappeared.  My heart was pounding and my adrenaline was pumping.  All I could think about is where are they?  How many are there?

I laid down in bed.  But there was no way I could sleep.  I was stressed to the max.  I felt like I was losing the fight.  They were taking over.  I couldn’t get rid of them.


My mind was spinning with thoughts.

They come out at night!  Bomb at night. Bomb the boat and sleep in the cockpit.  Bomb at night when they’re out.  Okay, tomorrow night I’m going to bomb at night.

I looked at the clock.  It was a little after 11:00.

Hell don’t wait, Bill.  Why are you gonna wait until tomorrow?  Bomb tonight.

I got out of bed and got to work.  I had six bombs left.  I set out three that night.  I got all my bedding anything else I thought I’d need for the morning and put it in the cockpit.  This time I also rifled through a cabinet and found my chemical respirator and put it on with the goggles.  I was sweating as it was humid and hot down below all closed up.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off one in the forward cabin and ran to the aft cabin.  My goggles started to fog up and a ferry wake rolled through the harbor.

BANG!  My shoulder hit the bulkhead by the chart table as I ran to the work area.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off the one near the aft cabin.
PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off the one in the galley.

I pulled the companionway doors and hatch closed and locked them.

I lay down in the cockpit.  I heard the subtle WWHHHIIISSSHHHH of the bombs releasing themselves into the cabin below.  The air felt great as it was about 15 degrees cooler on deck than below.  I felt a sense of relief for that and breathed in the cool night air.  I closed my eyes and tried to sleep the best I could.  Visions of Men In Black still plagued my brain and made me felt itchy.  Eventually I fell asleep.

In the morning I didn’t want to open up the hatches and go below.  I wanted that stuff to say in there for days.  I wanted it in every crack and corner.  I wanted it to obliterate every roach aboard.

I went over to Jake and Jackie’s.

“WHAT!!?  How can they be so resilient?”  Jackie exclaimed.

“I don’t know.  Je ne sais pas.”  I tried some French to try and evoke some humor into the situation.  I needed some humor right now.

“WAR!  This is WAR DUDE!”  Jake was fired up and took charge.

“You need a multi-phase attack, that’s what you need,” Jake went on to explain about how he thought about this while we were in the store the other day.  I should try and find some boric acid.

“That’s the white powder you see all over the floors at cafeterias like at Tech,” Jake explained.

So I went out that morning in search of things I needed while the boat stayed closed up.   I didn’t open the boat back up for almost 12 hours. I went to the stores and found the white powder and some heavy duty roach killer spray.  I also went and bought the last bomb on the shelf at the agricultural place.  I also borrowed one more bomb from Jake and Jackie.

Jake was right.  This was war.  And I was going to lay down an all-out assault to wipe them out.  No survivors.  Rid them all once and for good from Solstice.  My plan was to open all floorboards and cabinets and sprinkle the white powder in every corner, crook, crack and crevice.  Also to spray every area with the heavy duty roach killer spray.  Then I’d set off four more bombs tonight and three more the next night.  A full on assault.

Once again I donned my chemical mask and goggles.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set off the one in the forward cabin and walked to the aft cabin.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – I set that one off and set it up just right and moved to the main salon.  My movements
were slow and deliberate.  I was calm and walked from bomb to bomb activating them.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – The main salon.  I was like a mass murderer not running from anything.  Calm, cold, and deliberate.  I was a roach killer.

PPPSSSSHHHHH! – Finally the galley.  The damn galley.  Maybe I should put two in there.  I thought for a few long seconds  Finally sane, Bill piped in.  Get the hell out of the boat, Bill.  It’s filling up with insecticide.  I ran quickly out and shut the companionway hatch and doors.

The next morning I went out to McDonald’s for breakfast.  I’ll eat McDonald’s about 3-4 times in a year back home.  While in Papeete I probably went there about twice that.  It was a convenient place to go and to leave the boat shut up in the morning.  And honestly, I was impressed with their coffee.  They must really be trying to make better coffee than Starbucks.  It’s not better but it doesn’t suck like it used to.  I’d say it’s good really.  At least in Papeete.

I sat there planning my next phase.  More powder in places today that I knew I forgot, more spray and another bombing.  That has to do it… right?

I went back to the boat after another near 12 hours of being closed up. And…

One scurried across the galley counter top.



I was prepared with spray bottle in hand and hit him square.  He went into convulsions and died.  I looked along the galley counter and a small one was running about.



The need for another bombing felt as great as ever.

Once again I walked the floor like a cold hearted killer setting off the bombs one by one.  I locked up the boat and took to my berth in the cockpit. 

The first raindrops started to hit my forehead at about 10pm.  By 10:30 it was a steady downpour.  I huddled up under the dodger trying to stay dry.  I pulled all my pillows and bedding up on my lap and sat up there like a caveman seeking shelter under some rock ledge during a storm.  I felt about as smart as a Neanderthal too.

Maybe it will let up.  Maybe it will stop.

It rained harder.  It had already been about an hour and half since the bombs went off.  That’s all the instructions call for.  Maybe I can go back in.  Open up some ports..

You can’t air out the cabin when it’s raining.  Besides.  YOU NEED TO LEAVE IT LOCKED UP FOR 12 HOURS AND STEP ON THOSE FUCKING COCKROACHES!

I had no choice.  I was stuck outside the boat in the rain.  So I took a page out of Angelina’s book and stole from her.  Those who don’t know, Angelina was my kitty.  I had to leave her when I left Redondo.  She has a loving home at my ex-Mother-In-Law’s house who is taking great care of her.  Angelina’s only home was Solstice.  She loved the boat.  One of her favorite places to lay was tucked up on a cockpit cushion up under the dodger, usually in the shade.  But sometimes when it was raining too.  She was dry and happy.  So I put the cockpit cushion tucked up far under the dodger atop the companionway hatch, propped up my pillows and laid down and stretched out athwart-ship.   I had just the perfect amount of room and I was cozy and dry and didn’t have to go below.  I turned my thoughts to happier things like the pattering rhythm of the rain on the dodger and to Angelina.  I was glad she wasn’t here for all this.  She wouldn’t handle being locked on deck at night well.

So I stayed dry and warm there under the dodger and awoke to sunny skies.  It was the last bombing as we were leaving for Moorea Saturday morning and it was now Friday morning.  I went to the agriculture store to get more bombs before my departure.  They told me earlier that they would be restocked on Friday.  Tahiti is a city but it’s still an island and they’re still on island time.  I was informed that it would be next week before they get any new bombs.

Instead I’ve bought more spray and have been using the powder which I’m running low on too.  With no bombs left, I can only hope that my assault has worked.  Fast forwarding now.

Tuesday July 5th, 2011 - 19:03 Tahiti Local Time

When you sail into Papeete harbor there are coconuts and flowers in the water.  Some are scattered about having been having been blown from nearby trees, some flowers have been weaved into leis and were tossed from a cruise ship or perhaps during a wedding or funeral.  Regardless of how they got there, they are reminders that you are entering a place that is different than other harbors.

We arrived last Sunday, early afternoon.  It’s been several days since I’ve been able to update anything as there has been so much to do and it’s been grand being back in a city. 

Papeete (pronounced Pop-Pee-Yet-Tay - A lot of sailors out here don’t have a clue- it’s annoying) is a far cry from a city as cities go.  It’s really a big town.   In fact, I’d venture to say that Redondo Beach is bigger
than Papeete.  If not, the Southbay combination of Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo surely are.  The biggest immediate thing for me upon arrival was the access to fresh water on the dock.

When we arrived I was exhausted.  It was a long 31 hour sail.  With a sail like that when you’re solo you really don’t sleep much.  I was able to catch 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there and if I was lucky a 30-minute nap but that was pretty rare.  Mostly I would lie down only to pop back up with wide eyes every 20 minutes to check on things and make sure the Disney cruise ship wasn’t bearing down on me.  By the time I got here I could think about only one thing… sleep.  We pulled up to the quai (pronounced Quay – see how good I am at learning French) near downtown and tied up Tahitian style.  In Tahiti docks and marinas are not like back home.  There are no fingers to define a slip.  Only the dock where you walk exists.  You pull either your bow or stern perpendicular to the dock.  I pulled in bow first.  Cruisers are always there to lend a hand and they came forth were to help me.  There were a few guys on the dock along with Jake eager to help a weary single hander land his vessel.  I pulled up very slowly, tossed my bowlines to them on the dock and they lashed them off.  They handed me a hand line (one for each side of the boat) that you walk down the side of the boat as you pull it up.  Similar to pulling a mooring in Catalina.  I pulled the line and walked aft along the side of the boat.  The lines connected to a larger dock line that you cleat off on your stern cleats.  Once secured, I went forward to thank the guys for their help.  Then I saw it.  Right there on the dock in front of Solstice.  A SPIGOT!  YAAAHHOOOO!!! I have not had access to fresh water since leaving La Paz.

Sleep was no longer a priority.  Instead, I pulled out the hose, which was buried deep in the bowels of the forward wet locker and spent the next three hours giving Solstice a long overdue bath.  It was so nice to wash away the encrusted salt that had been growing on her the last two months.  It was one of those good washes too where it was hot outside and you wearing nothing but shorts and you get covered with suds and water and it feels great.  I like washing the boat in those conditions.  For some reason when I start (always at the bow and work aft) I recite in my best piratical voice:  “SWAB THE DECK MATEY!”  I guess it makes me feel like I’m telling somebody to wash the boat and I’m not really doing it.  It’s the pirate in me.

Afterwards, I relaxed, watched a sunset with a cold Hinano.  It was nice to be in a harbor, by a city.  With the exception of the occasional ship sending a pretty good wake rolling through the harbor it’s relatively flat.
The next day Jake, Jackie and I hit a grocery store that was like a store we’d find back home.  You realize quickly when you travel the abundance we have in the good ole’ USA.  It’s not like that worldwide.  Honestly, to run into a store here in Papeete that reminded me so much of home was surprising.  I bought myself some fresh squeezed orange juice, a peach and a bottle of water to rinse the peach off with as soon as I got out of the store.  I ate the peach right away.  It was ripe and juicy.  I savored every bite as I ate it in the parking lot.  I haven’t had fresh fruit like that in a long time.  The juice was so sweet and tickled my throat as I swallowed.  I was in heaven.  That will go down as one of the best peaches I’ve ever had in my life.

My days since arriving have been spent finding my bearings in a French speaking town and learning the lay of the city and doing boat projects.  I’ve spent the week varnishing.  I put on three fresh coats, Solstice loves it when she’s varnished.

Since I’ve been here the hard part has been trying to keep my new “Pace of Life” philosophy while being in the hustle and bustle of a big city.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the hurry, hurry way that we live our lives.  I’ve had a long list of projects to take care of while here.  Varnish, change the oil and oil filters, change the fuel filters, fill propane, provision, clean the boat thoroughly inside and out etc. etc.  The list goes on.  But I’ve chosen to look at every day as things I have to get done but to just go about doing them.  One at a time.  No pressure.  I know I want to get all these things done and I will.  One way or another.  Or maybe I won’t.  I’m doing my best and working at a steady pace.  One that follows the rhythm of the earth.  I can only do so much in a day.  So I’m doing that and letting the stress of “hurrying up and get it all done” go.  I’ve chosen to go about things at a much more relaxed pace while being productive if that makes sense.  In the end I am relaxed and not overstressed.  That’s part of the reason I haven’t been able to do an update in so long.  I just haven’t had time.

It’s funny though, working on the boat here.  Folks back home are thinking about me out here in some tropical paradise sipping on mai-tais watching beautiful sunsets and swimming in pristine waters.  I’M JUST WORKING ON THE FREAKING BOAT!!!!

Well it hasn’t all been working on the boat.  There is something completely alluring about Polynesia to me that I can’t explain.  The best thing about being back in Tahiti and in French Polynesia is the islanders.  The indigenous people of Polynesian descent are different here than Native Americans or even Hawaiians.  There’s a pride here amongst them that is very strong.  They are very connected to their history and the brotherhood of being from a tribal aboriginal society.

The second night here we had a wonderful dinner aboard Hokule’a with fresh vegetables, grilled tuna, Jake seared them perfectly, and good French wine.  While sitting in the cockpit after dinner and well after the sun had set the pounding of Polynesian drums started and flowed across the harbor.  When I hear them they have a powerful effect on me.  I’m sort of like Frankenstein when he hears the violin.  I must follow the music.  Follow the music.  Must follow. Must follow NOW!

“Common, let’s go check it out,” I said to Jake and Jackie.

Jackie was content to have some alone time and catch up on some reading while Jake and I went off in search of where the drums were coming from.

Right now there is the Heiva celebration in French Polynesia.   It’s a month long celebration of their culture that happens every year about this time.  There is music, outrigger (Va’a) canoe races, dances, woodcarving, stone throwing, fruit bearer running contest, etc. etc.  It’s a huge celebration of their people, their culture, their history and their ways.

Jake and I followed the music and came upon a stadium where there was a huge full dress rehearsal going on in a stadium.  We just walked in and took a seat.  Hundreds of girls were dancing to the rhythmic pounding of the drums.  The sway of their hips while their shoulders stay still is completely mesmerizing.  The dance is very sexual, in fact, when the missionaries arrived here they forbade this style of dance.  Stupid missionaries.  It’s my understanding too that these original Tahitian-style dances were lost forever when the dance was banned.  Sort of like an older version of Footloose happened here back in the day.  When Tahitians wanted to bring the dance back nobody in French Polynesia knew how the dances went so they went to the Cook Islands where the Cook Islanders still danced the old style and had past their dances down from generation to generation.  So the Tahitian style of dance today is really a version of the Cook Islanders style of dance.  It is still absolutely amazing.  While watching the dance and music it’s so easy to see how sailors from back in the day were mesmerized by the whole Polynesian culture.

The next night the drums started again.  Only, this time they were much closer.  I went down to the park where a big drum circle had formed.  It was dark and about 50 drummers were pounding and singing out traditional island songs.  The sound of the drums carries for great distances.  When you are up close the vibration and power of the drums penetrates deep into your body.  Deep into your soul.  My whole being resonated.  It is powerful.  There is also something incredible watching the men and women perform.  They glow.  They are so alive and connected to their history, culture and way.  They are almost aflame with the light of their ancestors.  It’s part of this “pride” that I mentioned earlier.  I don’t know why it’s lacking with Native Americans and even Hawaiians.  Some Hawaiians have it but it’s nothing like it is here in the South Pacific.  I can only guess that the overall oppression suffered by the Native Americans and even the Hawaiians as their land and ways of life were completely taken away from them that they lost that fire.  Even John Wayne said of the Native Americans that they had their dignity taken away, and when you lose your dignity you lose everything.  The people here never lost their dignity.  In fact they’ve embraced it.  It empowers them.  They radiate pride and self-respect, and self worth.  It’s fantastic.  And it’s not just as Polynesians but for their specific islands.  Marquesians, are proud to be from the Marquesas, Tahitians from Tahiti, Mooreans from Moorea and so on. 

As Heiva is celebrated here on Tahiti similar celebrations and competitions are held on the surrounding islands.  And each thinks theirs is the best as the best people come from their home islands.  I asked a Marquesian guy in Tahiti about the Heiva celebration.

“Heiva is BOOSHIT!  BOOSHIT! Marquesas Heiva.  That is the one!” he pounded his fist on his chest, “Marquesas is best.  Not Tahiti.”  I laughed.

As I stood there in the dark along the harbor waterside, soaking in the power of the drums I noticed a stone memorial with marble plaques written in three different languages.  Tahitian, French and English.  Here is what it said:

Memorial Site For Nuclear Testings

Between 1966 and 1996, France detonated 193 atomic bombs on Moruroa and Fangataufa Atolls.  The land and people of French Polynesia’s six archipelagos – symbolised (They spelled “symbolized” wrong – isn’t that GREAT?) by these six stones placed on a traditional paepae – faced significant upheaval, as the nuclear tests were imposed on them.  Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini, Enewetak, Montebello, Emu Field, Maralinga, Malden, Kiritimati, Johnston, Moruroa, Fangataufa – the many locations around the Pacific chosen as nuclear test sites by the United States, the United Kingdom and France.  The thousands of former test-site workers and the peoples of the Pacific live with the memory of these weapons, which today still continue to affect their health and environment.  This Memorial Site was inaugurated during the Presidential term of Mr. Oscar Manutahi Temaru, on the 2nd of July 2006, the fortieth anniversary of the first nuclear test on Moruroa Atoll.

The drummers pounded with strength, precision pride, and I noticed fury.  There is an anger here amongst some islanders towards the French.  There is a movement here to become an independent nation. 

I first saw this animosity towards the French when I was here 13 years ago.  I was in a small sidewalk bar having a beer with a guy named Roger I had met from England.  At the end of the bar was a Tahitian completely smashed.  A scooter with two French guys on it pulled up and parked in the empty spot right in front of the bar.  The French guys were sharply dressed in collared shirts and pressed slacks.  They were all smiles as they entered the bar laughing with each other.  The Tahitian eyed them with a scowl of disdain.  The French guys went to the opposite side of the bar and sat with their backs to the sidewalk and ordered a bottle of wine.

The look on the Tahitian’s face was palpable.  He shifted his gaze from the French guys to their scooter.  He stood up and stumbled out to the sidewalk and stood in front the scooter.  He stood their swaying back and forth in his drunkenness staring at the scooter.  The French guys were oblivious as they chatted and sipped their wine.  The Tahitian then unzipped his pants and pissed all over the scooter.

“Roger check it out,” I said to my new friend.  We couldn’t believe it.  We watched as he peed all over it the seat and was in no hurry to finish.  It was almost as if he wanted to be caught.  But nobody said anything and French guys didn’t see it.  When he was done, he zipped up his pants and walked off.

It’s one of the most incredulous things I’ve ever seen.

A couple of nights ago I was out to dinner and met a couple of guys that have lived here for the past six years.  One was from a small African country near Somalia.  The thickness of his accent kept me from comprehending the name.  The other guy was from Paris.  Both were really nice and we enjoyed each other’s company for a good hour and a half.

“Stephan, is their animosity here between the French and the Islanders?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” 

“Well from all the nuclear testing.  Do the French and islanders like each other?”

“Of course.  We give them money.”

Stephan went on to explain how the French government has paid money to families for the testing.  That there are some islanders who want independence but that the money should make them happy and that everything is okay.  I realized that my question to them was like asking a white guy in America if there is racism in the United States.  Of course there’s no racism in America.  Not that white guys see.

At sunset the next evening the drummers were back at the memorial dressed in full island attire.  Others were there too.  Something was going on.  I grabbed my video camera because I wanted to record the power of the drums and the singing.   Amongst the young men and women in the drum circle were older men and women.  All had nice island shirts on and were donned with leis and flowers.   Some young and old were in wheel chairs.  I realized that a dedication was going on and a tall wood carving draped under a cloth to be unveiled had been set at the memorial.  And that it was July 2nd, the 45th anniversary of the first nuclear test by the French.

The older men took their turns addressing the crowd.  I couldn’t understand what was being said but it was spoken with passion, compassion, joy, seriousness and sincerity.  That’s the only time in my life where I’ve stayed and listened to somebody talk where I couldn’t understand a word being said.  But I was struck by the energy swirling around the group and the music.  Some of the men were funny as laughter often punctuated what was being said.  Also, when the drummers approved of what was being said the drums would erupt together in a short burst of pounding.  The drummers’ version of applause.  It was awesome.   Somebody would say something that would rouse the crowd and

The drums would pound in unison.  It was very tribal.  And it showed how connected their instruments are with communicating.  The young men listened to the older men with great interest and joy.  Nobody was disinterested and all were engaged.

I recorded the sound of the drums the best I could with the mic on my camera.  After an hour or so the carving was unveiled to cheers, applause and of course pounding drums.  The drum circle then broke into the last song of the evening.  They played and sang with much passion in their hearts.  And as the sun set across the harbor and tiki torches surrounding the memorial cast dancing shadows across the wood sculpture the music pounded to a crescendo.  I thought about everything they were playing for.  And how is it that a country can go to some other nation, or island home, and drop atomic bombs almost unconsciously upon their homes.  For 30 years the French exploded nuclear bombs in this part of the world.  As did the U.S. and Great Britain.  Why?  My guess is that they figured it is a remote part of the world and the rest of the planet won’t really pay attention if it’s way over here.  In the U.S. states freak out when there’s talk of disposing nuclear waste from power plants in their state.  All these thoughts and feelings were running through my brain as the music built.  Then along the water a party barge filled with drunken tourists floated past and the tourists reacted to the sounds of the drums with their own version of chants and jeers.






It was surreal.  A bunch of drunken tourists acting like college kids on spring break against the seriousness of a meaningful dedication finale.

The drummers and all the people at the ceremony ignored the tourists as if they didn’t exist.  They kept playing, focused on the music and the power of the moment.  They ignored them in the same way the world has ignored the Polynesians and their pleas for help as bigger nations dropped atom bombs on their homes.  Next time I’m going to ask a Polynesian what they think about the French being here.  I’ll be sure to include that answer when I get it.  I’m sure it will be different than what the French guy told me.

Much Aloha,






Solstice Log