Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Weather-bound and The Heaviest Tandem in the World

Normally when we're anchored, riding out bad weather, it's a pretty uncomfortable affair. Not here in Cook's Bay, though; the water has been mirror calm for most of the time so that it's been very hard to believe that out at sea things are anything but calm. 

Looking out to the reef, though, we can see the surf crashing and we've been hearing from other boats on the radio net who are not having such a relaxing time of things. A few are still out in the Tuamotus atolls and are pinned into relatively uncomfortable anchorages with reef passes too rough to allow them to leave (one, Voyager, has even been unable to leave the boat for several days as the waves are too bad to make a safe trip ashore in the dinghy) so are just acheing for a change in the conditions. Another boat, Mahili, got fed up with waiting in Bora Bora to the north west of us and set off for Suwarrow, a small atoll about 3 days' sail away; they reported waves of 4.5m and winds of 30-35 knots yesterday morning. Not nice.  

So, all in all, we're very happy to be here and we've been enjoying the chance to explore the island some more. We visited a fruit juice factory which takes pineapples and grapefruit from about 60 farmers on the island (plus mangoes, passion fruit and papaya from surrounding islands); it processes about 45,000 litres per day and lays on good tours for the visiting tourists. It reminded us of Yeo Valley's Cannington dairy in its earlier days; there are just two tetrapak filling lines and the place employs 47 people. During our visit they weren't processing fruit but the filling line was running.

Actually as we walked in to the plant to look down from an overhead walkway the First Law of Sod came into play as the entire filling line was stopped due to a problem with the automatic box-filler;  a hapless engineer was trying to fix it under the gaze of 30 visitors whilst the tour guide padded and filled like a royal correspondent standing outside a maternity wing.Eventually it all restarted and we had a good tasting session at the end of their alcoholic fruit punches.

Yesterday we decided that we were ready to face some more cycling and hired a tandem to cycle the coast road all the way around the island. The bike was, officially, The Heaviest Tandem in the World (we're sure that its steel frame was inspired by the Forth Railway Bridge and it probably had extra lead ballast in it for additional stability); it also had wide mountain bike tyres which gave it the rolling resistance of a lorry. 

Anyway we set off clockwise around the island, stopped for an excellent shared pizza on the east coast and continued to complete the circumnavigation. Luckily there were no big hills on the 70km cycle (which included a detour to drop off and collect laundry at the beginning and end) but the bike took about three times the effort of our own Dawes tandem at home so we were pretty exhausted at the end. It was great to do the trip, though, as the southern end of the island is particularly pretty and relatively deserted. As ever, the churches we saw were all incredibly well kept.

 Looking towards Tahiti

Today is a bit of a recovery day, with a few trips ashore to collect water in jerry cans and some boat maintenance jobs plus some swimming. The wind is forecast to reduce tomorrow but we'll watch the swell carefully as it'll take a day or two to calm down after the wind has reduced. All being well we'll be away on Saturday or Sunday.

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