Tuesday, August 07, 2007

August 4, 2007 - Rangiroa

We spent our first few days in Rangiroa anchored in front of the Kia Ora Resort. 3 years ago, this felt like the end of the world. Since then we've been places that make Rangi (with an airport, two villages, two nice hotels, several pensions, three restaurants, and half a dozen shops) feel like a big city.

On our first day here, we took care of our top priorities - getting a cheese burger, fries and a giant salad at the restaurant at the quay. The restaurant is on a terrace that overlooks a coral garden, where we saw the biggest moray eel yet. After lunch we traded some books at the Kia Ora, snorkeled the pass, and went back to Kia Ora for $15 cocktails.

The next day began with some fishing excitement. Sten had noticed that there were lots of fish feeding around our boat, so he set about trying to catch some lunch. After losing an old Gibb's striper fly to a garr fish and catching a remora with a small minnow fly (and releasing it) he got the fish he was after. After breakfast, we went to a magasin and spent $20 on 2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, a small head of lettuce and 2 baguettes. Seriously.

We had noticed one other American boat in the anchorage, Storm Along out of Chicago, so I dinked over to ask them if they wanted to join us for dinner at the local pizza joint. I assured them that I wanted nothing more than to spend an evening speaking English, with someone other than Sten. They completely understood. We had a great time with Brian and Nell, and hardly noticed that the service hadn't gotten any better than the last time we were here. One of our pizzas came with a mostly raw egg cracked on top of it. It looked revolting, but the egg was slowly cooked by the heat of the pie under it and the pizza turned out to be really good.

The following day was a work day. Over pizza Sten and Brian had been troubleshooting our SSB riddle. So Sten uninstalled, opened up, inspected and reinstalled the antenna tuner. Nothing obvious seems to be wrong with it. Sten also cleaned the goop out of the bilge pump intake strainer - a very messy job. In the afternoon, he pitched in on my project of polishing the stainless on deck - our windlass has never been so shiny.

The next day was overcast with periodic heavy rain showers. We spent some time visiting with Storm Along. Brian and Nell have been living aboard for decades. We were blown away by the level of organization on their boat. Thrilled to find some other folks who love Mexican food and margaritas, we invited them over for steak tacos - one of our favorite meals. I was able to score a bag of ice from the bar at the Kia Ora for the 'ritas.

Our Top of the Line Margarita Recipe

1 part - Fresh squeezed lime juice
1 part - Top Shelf Blanco Tequila - preferably Chinaco or Porfidio
1 part - Orange liqueur - preferably Patron Citronage or Cointreau

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake very vigorously and pour into salt rimmed glasses. Enjoy! Credit to Frontera Grill in Chicago for this easy to remember arrangement.

Sten tried his hand at making tortillas with the press that Jay and John gave us before we left last fall. Nell provided a dessert of rum soaked bananas. The food was awesome. We were all having a great time, or so I thought until Nell noticed the time, not so discretely kicked Brian under the table, and within minutes it was just Sten, me and the dishes.

Today the wind shifted, providing us with a good opportunity to head to the far end of the atoll. We started the 25 mile trip by commissioning our new autopilot - 9 months after leaving Newport. The water was pretty flat and the wind light. I spent part of the trip making banana nut bread out of some of the bananas that Nell and Brian gave us. Sten started compiling the New Zealand boat work list. As we approached the south east tip of the lagoon, the water became much shallower and filled with coral heads and a few small white motus.

As we approached each coral bed, the water would slowly change from blue to aqua, then lime green just over the coral heads. I spent the last hour of the trip standing on the pulpit, one arm wrapped around the forestay, calling directions to Sten as he steered us around the coral. It is a beautiful anchorage. We're looking forward to spending the next few days here.

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