Losing Your Cruising


Whenever Carol or I get stressed out about something silly, we jokingly ask each other “Are you losing your cruising?” – as in, are all of the hours of relaxation gone in an instant because of some very silly thing like (literally) spilt milk?

IMAG0024 We also apply the phrase “losing your cruising” to the more unfortunate phenomena of cruisers who get pissy about locals while running boat errands.

How is it that a group of people (cruisers) who have made the conscious choice to prioritize their lifestyle over the endless pursuit of material goods, when in “boat errand mode” suddenly are unable to respect someone else (a South Pacific Islander for example) prioritizing their own lifestyle over the endless pursuit of material goods?

((if your brain hurts right now, I empathize, so does mine))

It is as if the relaxed, laid back cruisers flip a switch in their behavior when they go to do errands that puts them in “business mode”.

While in business mode, they expect that people will hold to a fixed schedule, will proactively force things to happen instead of reacting to events outside of their control and will value money over a balanced life.

IMAG0003_20130809083155278Once business and boat errands are finished, the cruisers go about enjoying their completely unfixed schedule, reacting to the weather and opportunities that come up, and continue valuing their lifestyle over the endless rat race.

Let’s all try this: When doing boat errands, refuse to lose your cruising.

Livia’s Kite Spot


P1010498You might remember me whining about my struggle to learn to ride a kiteboard. After finally getting out of the water, on top of the board, and to the point where I could ride and (usually) stay upwind, we promptly took a 6 month break from kiteboarding.

When we returned to the Tuamotus, I struggled to retain my gains in the face of gusty wind, sharp coral rubble beaches, coral heads and currents ripping through false passes. I had fun but in order to have fun I had to pick and choose my conditions carefully to match my skill level and I didn’t get a lot of time on the kiteboard. When I picked poorly I reached that special level of frustration people get to when they know they could do something if the conditions would just freaking cooperate. That is…until we reached Rangiroa.


P1010348SE Rangiroa is a kiteboarding dream. Miles of knee deep water, over true sand (not coral bits), with no obstructions and a clear unobstructed path for the wind. You ride with the sun reflecting off the white sand, warm clear water, occasional strips of brilliant blue when the water rises above knee deep. The area appears to be a nursery for various aquatic life and we kited with absolutely adorable 1’ long wee black tip sharks and meandering sting rays (both easy enough to see and not numerous enough to worry too much about).

After a brief reconnaissance visit, we loaded up at the village and headed back to weather one of the longest mara’amu blows we’ve seen while anchored in the SE corner of Rangiroa at the base of the kiting spot. We kited 9 out of 11 days and the 2 break days were because the winds were too strong for our smallest kite. We were grateful for the break days because we were bleary eyed from exhaustion, sun and salt and wobbly from extra long kiting sessions.

livia screenshotI spent the time with a grin permanently etched on my face. The sound of the wind, the hiss of the board over the water, the amazing beauty of my surroundings, the more-than-mile long tacks before turning was necessary, moved me into this dreamy state of moving meditation that I haven’t felt since rock climbing. Not only did I get hours of silky smooth riding under my belt, I worked on my carving turns and tried (and landed) my first jumps.

If you are a cruiser kiter and bring your boat to the S Pacific, get yourself here for a set of good windy days. Even in very strong wind the sand banks keep the water flat and so the anchorage, while somewhat exposed to the wind (depending on how far S the angle), is flat water.


Does. Not. Suck. Definitely a new favorite place (nfp).

Liquid Motivation: Lunch and Tahitian Wine


Yep, wine made in French Polynesia (see below).

We don’t eat out very often in French Polynesia because of the expense. We have found some cheap eats (e.g., the casse croute) but otherwise we save our going out budget for ice cold beers (also expensive) somewhere where we can enjoy a different view than from our cockpit. Funny enough, one of our favorite things is to have the beers at a bar that overlooks the anchorage. Something about seeing your home floating in paradise makes the beer tastier.

PhotoGrid_1378355446879A very VERY big thank you to Ronald C. who sent us a Paypal donation and funded not only a much needed and appreciated feast onshore at a great “snack” (small outdoor cafe in French Polynesia) called Chez Lili but also enabled us to sample some locally wine which had been previously out of the range of our cruising budget. We were so excited to be eating out at Chez Lili that we split in half and inhaled the curried mahi mahi burger and ate half of the tuna carpacccio before I remembered to snap a picture! If you visit Rangiroa, Chez Lili is delicious, the fish perfectly prepared and the owner Lili is a riot and worth the visit herself.

IMAG0021After the snack we picked up a bottle of Vin de Tahiti, Blanc Sec (2008) made right here in Rangiroa, the Tuamotus, French Polynesia. Even though we were slightly afraid (I mean come on, atoll wine??) we very much wanted to taste and to support the local vintage. With the last of Ronald C’s donation supplemented with one from my Mom (Love you Mom!) we bought and chilled a bottle, broke out the fancy glasses and the contraption we’ve been calling a cockpit table and watched the sunset.

We were extremely surprised to love the wine. The tasting notes talk about the influence of the minerals from the coral rubble on the terroir. I tasted flowers and honey (without the corresponding sweetness). An unexpected find, unfortunately a little out of our normal price range. Of course, when we were still DINKs (dual income, no kids) we had been known to sleep in our car on a road trip to save money but buy a case of expensive-for-us wine on the same trip. Priorities!

Tortoises, Hares and Ostriches

This post was inspired by reader follow-up questions from our most recent "snapshot" post (Snapshot: 3 years of cruising).


Was the primary motivation of your cruising boat purchase one of fear or love? Were you choosing a boat that would make you safe from all of the dangers present on the open sea (the Tortoise boat)? Or were you choosing a boat that would increase your already high fun factor under sail (the Hare boat)?

In our limited experience, the fear emphasis is a gross (and probably unfair) generalization of N American cruising culture and the love emphasis is a gross (and probably unfair) generalization about French cruising culture. Of course it is true that many N American's love sailing, many buy Hare boats, and Tortoise boat owners are not necessarily fearful people. It is also true that the French are safety conscious and can be sometimes found in stout boats (although sleek aluminum vessels are more likely than traditional cruisers). However, the emphasis on one versus another I think is, on average, fair.

We were listening to a French single sideband net and one boat talked about having entered one of the Tuamotus (atolls with passes) at night. He was a single hander and he said that he could see the hole in the atoll with his binoculars so he went for it. My reason for telling this anecdote is not because we think that this is a good idea but because on the French net his statement didn't cause a single reaction. Not that the French listeners thought it was a better idea than I did, but it didn't evoke an emotional reaction. Carol and I had a lively discussion imagining if this same person had made this statement on a mainly N American net. Mon dieu!

The personal emphasis on fear vs. love interacts with a whole host of cruising boat and cruising plan decisions: What level of risk can you accept, do you want to accept? Will you accept a certain level of risk if it increases your level of fun? How much? Do you believe in preparing your boat for all possible ocean conditions (e.g., pitch poling, perfect storms, etc)? Or do you believe in choosing to sail within the limits of the imperfect vessel that you have (e.g., sailing in season, avoiding certain passages or certain oceans)?

I recently read this post from one of my favorite bloggers which was also printed in 48 North.

I was fascinated by Totem's description of someone getting judgmental about the choice of an open transom for a cruising vessel (i.e., dangerous for their children). Although Totem didn't comment on whether the person was being mild or intense, I've seen the same judgments or criticisms passed and often with a lot of emotion attached. The Hare decides that even if they assume that their keel will get ripped off if they hit a submerged container at full speed they are OK with that because their 9 foot bulb keel adds to their fun factor. The Tortoise disagrees. No problem, people have different levels of risk assessment. What is impressive is sometimes the Tortoise disagrees in an emotional and verbally aggressive way. Why do some Tortoises freak out about the Hare's acceptance of risk?

I believe that some people who make fear based cruising decisions find love based cruising decisions very threatening. It is as if the lack of fear of the Hare rips the lid off these particular scared-y Tortoises' barely contained fears about the ocean. Further, one person's choice not to buy into a certain design feature or piece of safety gear calls into question the other person's choice to include it. If I choose not to buy a parachute anchor, the person who bought a parachute anchor feels as if I am questioning their choice. If they can convince me somehow that I am wrong, they rationalize their own expenditure and decision.

Certainly, there is the opposite problem of people who have set off cruising in lightly built boats, with little safety gear, not because they've consciously chosen the trade-offs and compromises but because they are actively ignoring and minimizing any possible dangers. We'll call these people the Ostriches. The Ostriches can get very angry and defensive when the Tortoises (and the Hares) point out the failings of their vessels. The Ostriches also, by failing to acknowledge the weaknesses of their vessels, fail to sail within the limits of their vessels and are the bane of emergency rescue services worldwide.

Like most people, we think we're in the middle. We wish we were even sleeker and sexier when we are playing but are very happy that we're stout when we're afraid. Well done, Wauquiez, well done.

Apataki Haul Out and MV Cobia 3

VIDEO FRIDAY During our haul out in the Tuamotus at Apataki Carenage we took some video of the facility and put together as short video. We also put together a short video of return trip from Tahiti to Apataki on the interisland freighter, the MV Cobia 3. Both videos are embedded below.

Rangiroa: Decorating churches with local materials


Because of my love affair with the water in Rangiroa, I feel compelled to include a water shot in every post. This is the water in front of the abandoned church we visited.


P1010316We visited first an old church that is being cared for but not regularly used. We anchored at S15°18'16.27" W147°26'33.02" with the church at S15°18'40.67" W147°28'00.27".

Beautiful shell necklaces and palm frond weavings adorned the statues inside. And a religious text in Tahitian.

 P1010317 P1010319P1010321 P1010323P1010325 

Next we walked by the church in the main village of Avatoru which was decorated loud and proud with black pearl shells. Love it.


Video: At anchor in the Tuamotus


VIDEO FRIDAY and also, your moment of zen. A *big* thank you to SV Namaste for taking several of our videos back to the US of A and uploading them with fast internet.

This video is aerial footage, taken with a GoPro on our Blade Trigger kiteboarding kite, of one of our anchorages in the Tuamotus. If you put the video on the highest quality play you can see the coral under the water, the sand banks, and Estrellita floating in the middle of the beauty. Enjoy – we did!

Logbook: Tikehau



After a night of sailing and then heaving to outside the pass at Tikehau, we made our entry in the morning choosing slack but erring on the side of the outgoing current to avoid wind-over-tide. P1010176We were surprised by how much outgoing current we found and over the next week we realized how full the lagoon must have been on our entry as we watched the lagoon empty. Often after entering a pass, you turn directly into wind toward the sheltered part of the lagoon and so after a nice sail between atolls we often find ourselves motoring straight into the wind and swell toward the protected anchorage. It is always a bit of a bummer way to end a nice sail. After 6 miles of this, we anchored just East of the main village, near Pension Hotu and the airport. This anchorage quickly became uncomfortable and so we moved even further east toward the Pearl Beach Resort to avoid the building fetch. This anchorage was better, but still lumpy.

P1010135 We didn’t find the kiting paradise that we were expecting in Tikehau. Even though the kiting was good, it was not better than where we have been before in the Tuamotus.

As mentioned previously, the search for a better anchorage took us to every side of the atoll. Overall, the anchorages were beautiful above water, especially on the NW side of the lagoon where the reef side of the motus was alive with coral and fish, but the underwater, except for the pass, although was hard to difficult to appreciate because of the P1010143murkiness of the water.

Tip: If you stop by Tikehau, have lunch at Pension Hotu. We had enormous meals of fresh tuna (poisson cru and carpaccio) and the staff of both Pension Hotu and Tikehau Plongee were extremely boater friendly – helping us with a number of cruiser chores and helping us locate various supplies.

Lumpy-hau, we will remember you for your mantas and for the amazing village, walking and biking on the reef side of the village motu was the highlight of our trip. The village was extremely friendly, spotlessly clean, and well gardened. We spent quite a few days walking to get ice cream and enjoying the village.

P1010201The beauty and wow factor of the reef side of the village motu made exploring by bike a delight. We did it twice, packing a picnic, swimming in mini-pools of the beautiful clear ocean water.

We also enjoyed hunting in an atoll (reportedly) without ciguatera, getting to enjoy a bunch of new fish we had never eaten before.


((Carol is starting to write blog posts – watch out world!))


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner