Conditions were calm in the morning and I left early to go surfing at Haapiti. Conditions were a little large and messy, and at first I tried surfing at the inside spot I’ve used but was having trouble with the waves and my booties so eventually tried moving out to the main part of the wave I normally surf. I got a few rides here but was having trouble with my popup (not sure if it was me or the conditions, probably some of both). I got tumbled by a couple large waves and then talked with the one other guy out there, who was going in, and I decided to head back as well. Back at Magic we went out diving to get some macro video of the anemonefish and eggs, spending a while with them (even fewer eggs than yesterday) and spotting a few other sights like a very busy rockmover wrasse pulling around pieces of coral rubble larger than it, and a titan triggerfish with a big cone shell in its mouth swimming away from us.
During the night the wind came in strong pretty quickly and then stayed that way all day, 20+ knots gusting into the 30s. We were in a comfortable spot but elected to stay on the boat all day, relax and work.
It was calmer than yesterday and in the morning we went out to dive the same spot as a couple days ago. On the way out there were a lot of dolphins transiting the area, and after we tied up to the mooring ball I hopped in the water and saw a couple groups of 8-12 dolphins pass by in the middle distance, very cool to watch them. We started our dive and right near the start two lemon sharks passed by, one closely following the other, and then Lisa spotted an octopus. It went into a crevice and I forced it out, it inked and swam off and I wasn’t able to get to it. I felt kind of bad about harrassing it but they are such cool animals and we haven’t been seeing them very often lately. After this great start the rest of the dive was nice but fairly mellow. After a few hours on Magic we went to feed the stingrays. Few other boats were there and the rays were very interested in us, swimming up as we approached and following the dinghy around as we tied to another mooring ball. Several cans of sardines later they seemed pretty satisfied.
In the morning we went diving again, having a nice and mellow time with the best sight a moray that kept swimming out in the open from crevice to crevice, with a couple peacock groupers following it around and waiting around at the exits of whichever crevice the moray was currently in, waiting for panicked fish to swim out. In the afternoon I went surfing at Haapiti; there was a fair amount of wind on the way down but not as much as when I turned around a few days ago, and I debated whether it was a good idea to proceed. When I arrived at the wave the wind was in the mid teens or higher, but was blowing across the break and an area near where I normally surf wasn’t too wind affected. The swell was the smallest I’ve seen it here, but still producing some nice waves, and I surfed for an hour and a half or so, getting 15 rides. While I was out two very skilled kiters arrived to surf the wave as well, and while it was a little annoying at first to have to share the wave, it was also very instructive to watch them. I’m interested in wave kiting but haven’t watched it up close before, and seeing that they were getting pretty good rides on twin tips was nice. I’d thought that I’d need a directional board to ride a wave well (and probably do, really) but the twin tip offers its own advantages, especially being able to easily pop off the water to get over a breaking wave.
In the morning we went diving, finding great visibility and some nice sights including a lemon shark and turtle. In the afternoon I went surfing at Haapiti. There was a similar amount of wind to yesterday and the surf was a good deal larger, near the upper limit of what I’d consider surfable at this spot. I surfed for 1:45 or so and got 20 rides, some of them really good. It felt great to feel in control and able to manage the wave, to not have to rely on other people being around, and to see how much progress I’ve made over just the past couple of weeks. I was alone the entire time, except for a few minutes when one of the kiters from yesterday came by to play in the waves a bit.
In the morning we took the dinghy to the back of Opunohu bay to go hiking. After walking a short bit we were able to hitchhike up to the Belvedere, and from there did the trail to the pass of the 3 coconuts, probably the most popular hike on the island. We had a nice time, with the trail in good shape, a nice forest and some bamboo though a lot of invasive miconia. Good views of Opunohu and Cook’s bays, and at the pass we could see out to the ocean to the west. We hiked back to Opunohu along another nice trail winding through the forest, eventually joining up with a grassy jeep road that went through a few pineapple plantations.
We were planning on leaving for Tahiti in the morning but winds from the east were stronger than expected in the anchorage (15 knots or so) and it looked a little rough outside the lagoon as well. Rather than doing an unpleasant passage we stayed put and relaxed on the boat all day.
The wind calmed around sunset the previous night and we left early in the morning to motor to Tahiti. Eventually a little north wind came up and we motor sailed a bit, but it was a mellow crossing despite some equipment annoyances (I was pickling the watermaker and it was misbehaving; eventually I figured out the problem was the prestrainer was clogged with a bunch of vegetation). We went to Marina Taina and were guided to a side tie by one of their boats, with several people on the dock to help with lines, another good experience. After a nice lunch we relaxed and made some preparations for leaving the boat.
Did some final tasks around the boat to get it ready to go and prepare for our trip, then flew out late in the evening.
Flew to SLC, via LAX, arriving in the evening.
Did a few errands in SLC and then drove to Boise.
Drove to Portland, picked up some packages I’d shipped there 1.5 months earlier in anticipation of a trip that didn’t happen, then drove back to Boise. Long day of sitting and driving.
Recovered from the drive yesterday, then helped Lisa’s parents with their move for several hours.
After breakfast with Lisa’s parents, we all worked for a while on helping them move.
Worked all day I think.
We spent some more time helping Lisa’s parents move, then got our bikes from the shop (they both needed work) and biked the Kestrel / Red Cliffs / Chickadee loop.
In the afternoon I biked the Corrals trail and Hull’s Gulch. I fell on my phone and destroyed in on Hulls Gulch, my rear tire is (and has been for a while) nearly bald.
In the morning and early afternoon we helped Lisa’s parents move, then had a party at the house with several friends coming over to watch Lisa’s shark documentary.
In the afternoon we biked a loop including Shane’s trail, very nice conditions.
Working and shopping.
In the afternoon we biked the Kestrel / Red Cliffs / Chickadee loop.
Did some errands and shopping, including a 1.5 hour trip to 4 plumbing stores to look for what I felt were a few not very unusual fittings. I’m tired of going to physical stores.
In the morning we drove to Salt Lake, got our things together for our flight, and spent a little time at the aviary. In the evening we flew to LAX and then on to Papeete.
We arrived in Papeete in the morning and spent most of the rest of the day unpacking, organizing, and relaxing.
Errands in Papeete.
We left the marina mid morning and headed towards Maupiti, sailing most of the day with headsail/main and spinnaker, with several hours of motoring at night. Very pleasant conditions.
We had nice wind through the morning but in the early afternoon it died and we motored the rest of the day and through the night. Somewhat squally conditions through the day.
We arrived at Maupiti mid morning, conditions around the pass were nice and mellow and we got in easily. As we entered there was a whale hanging around near the mouth of the pass, and after anchoring near some other boats to the west of the channel entrance we headed back out the pass to look for the whale. After a couple minute we spotted a cow and calf, probably different from the whale we saw earlier and swimming along near the edge of the reef. We watched them surface several times and were hoping they would stay put so we could snorkel with them, but they kept moving (at one point we did try getting in the water off to the side of their apparent path, but never saw them). The calf did several half breaches, very exuberant. On the way back we saw a manta ray from the dinghy, and afterwards snorkeled the channel and nearby areas from the anchorage most of the way out to the pass. Three manta rays passed underneath us, very relaxed, not much else of note. In the afternoon I went boogie boarding on the right at the pass. The wave looked pretty nice and I got a dozen or so rides, though a lot of them closed out and I wiped out right after getting on the wave. A couple times I rode waves in to shallow water over the reef, glad I had a wetsuit on. It felt great to be out at a remote and beautiful island again.
In the morning we went out the pass to go diving on the protruding reef area just to the east of the pass. This was a nice area, the coral was in pretty good shape and lots of varied fish life but few large predators and no schooling fish. It seems like this spot gets a lot of fishing pressure. Back at Magic Lisa went snorkeling and I did some work, then I went boogie boarding again at the right in the late afternoon. After scouting things out yesterday I found a good spot to launch from — next to a channel which let the waves peel more reliably and offered a route back to deeper water after getting a ride — and got 10 nice rides in an hour or so, managing the wave well without much tumbling or ending up in shallow water.
After breakfast we went out with dive gear to look for manta rays. We’d heard there was a cleaning station here and the previous day saw a few boats in one area, so went and checked that out. After some searching we found a rock with several manta rays swimming around lazily, tied the boat to a nearby channel marker (don’t want to anchor near these guys, been there done that) and went diving with them. This was a pretty amazing experience, the rays would come and go and we saw up to five of them at once all circling the rock. I stayed on the bottom and out of their way and they kept coming up closely to me to take a look. They would get cleaned at the rock as well, stopping, unrolling their cephalic fins and opening their gills, so a bunch of small wrasses could swim in their mouths and gills to clean them. In the afternoon we went to shore (saw an eagle ray jumping out of the water I think, a first for me) and walked through the town spread along the east side of the island, everyone extremely friendly and saying hello to us as we walked by. At the north end of the town we found steps leading to the trail heading to the top of the island, followed the trail up part of the ways before Lisa turned around, not wanting to risk being out after dark. I continued along the pretty good trail with a couple sections of ropes to the top of the island, finding some really nice views from the first summit reached and some interesting but rougher hiking to a couple of additional summits at a similar elevation. After returning to the base I met up with Lisa and we picked some fruit as we headed back to the dinghy and Magic.
We went diving in the morning with the mantas again, visibility was worse than yesterday and there were a couple mantas around but a quieter scene than yesterday. A boat started hanging out above the dive site and I got spooked so we weren’t down very long but everything was fine when we surfaced (I don’t like it when boats are around while I’m diving, some bad experiences at Cabo Pulmo and other places). In the afternoon I went out to check out the wave but it was big and sloppy so I didn’t try riding it. Instead, I went paddleboarding with Lisa (she was in the kayak, we still need to replace her paddleboard) along the inside of the lagoon to the pass and back, nice time. Lots of rays in the water, with two stingrays and half a dozen eagle ray sightings.