Monday, June 27, 2011

This Heading sucks, you should change it - The passage , part 2

HE PASSAGE, PART TWO, THE CROSSING

First things First this is going to be my perspective and I have left quite a lot out as others want to fill you in on those things.

NOTE:  One of the reasons we left from Cabo was the angle and height it gave us.  I had watched a lot of the boats go from Puerto Vallata and Acapulco the months before and noticed most of them headed west for a week before they dropped south west.  This seemed to be because the winds were further out west.  On talking with a few of these boats over the radio while on passage and once we got to the Marquesas it became apparent that the worst sailing was the week near the Mexican coast.  We managed to miss this and hence sailed a way faster trip than if we had left from other parts of Mexico.  So thank you to all the puddle jumpers that provided us with that information. It was a great help.

On May 21st at 2200 UTC(universal time coordinated, Greenwich Mean Time, Zulu time) we left Cabo San Lucas for the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.
The next 5 days were arguably(at the time in my mind there was no arguing, it definitely was) the most miserable 5 days of my life.  I felt like I had the worst hangover ever(for those who don't drink think food poising or a really bad case of the flu) that involved me throwing up for three days and not really eating.  The real beauty of this is you also need to combine it with a fear that I have never experienced before, a sense of feeling trapped because you really can't turn back and the fact you have to work and do your chores or else it puts too much pressure on everyone else an then the whole boat fails.  Hence, MISERY.  And misery certainly does love company and I had plenty of that.  Leslie and Carl both felt similar feelings of sickness only to a lesser degree and after a week of having every meal she made end up either burning her and/or on the floor, Lisa was right down there with me.  The only person who seemed to be enjoying himself was Donald and that only served to sprinkle more hate on the cake full of hate that was baking inside of me.  We did however pull ourselves together after 5 or 6 days and when I look back on it I am really proud of all of us for getting through that.  It also needs to be said that for all his egotistical behavior and moraly superior attitude we would probably not have gotten through that first week without Don.  He was in his element and kept us safe and up beat when all I wanted to do was tell him to FUCK OFF(I am sorry for this language but no other word seems to do it justice).  It also amazes me that neither him nor his sister ever showed any signs of sickness and were quite comfortable chatting and hanging out while I was throwing up over the side.  I am not sure where they got this ability but it sure was handy on this trip.





the second week got a little bit better.  The main reason was because it seemed that we had finally learned how to use our sails and the sail direction to our advantage.  We no longer looked for the safest option(this I learnt can be deceiving and the safe option can very quickly turn into the dangerous option) but for the one that best suited the conditions.  We finally put up our Genniker(this is a big sail that is an in-between of a spinaker(the big colorful one you see in races) and the genoa which is smaller and tighter) which allowed us to sail down wind so much better and with a lot less banging of our boom.  It also righted the boat and kept it relatively level as opposed to the 15 to 20 degrees of heel we had spent most of our time at in the previous week.  The seas mellowed a little  and we got our confidence up to sail at night with the bigger sails.  This all combined to make the second week rather pleasant.  Some of us were sleeping better(Carl probably had the most trouble here and that came into play in week three), Lisa was having a better time in the kitchen and the boat seemed to be settling into life with us as her crew.




At the end of week two we hit the ITCZ(Inter Tropical Convergence Zone -better known as the Doldrums).  What a useless little part of the world this is.  This is the area in the middle of the world where the southern and northern trade winds and currents boarder as they make their turn to circle back into their respective hemispheres.  What then this creates is a bunch of useless space for sailors and boaters alike where there are few currents or winds and what currents there are work against the winds.  the weather patterns also form to create these little systems called squalls which tend to last a very short time(the ones we had never lasted more than a couple of hours and most were about a half hour) but are very very nasty.  These little storms hounded us for 3 days but in talking with others we got off pretty lightly.




This week was also the week we got introduced to the wonder that is weather.  The sunsets were amazing.  The few nights we had that there were no clouds in the sky was ridiculous.  So many stars all over the skyline including to the horizon and so very bright.  Carl had a little program on his phone which allowed him to point his phone at the sky and it would tell him what the stars were.  It was also cool to watch the main northern hemisphere stars fall off for good and the new southern hemisphere stars arrive.  I have also developed a new love for clouds.  It was rad seeing the different formations and figuring out what weather came with what type of clouds.  It is different in the ocean than what happens on land but it is hard for me to describe.  Anywaise I like it.

And that was week two which closed with us being 164 Nauical miles from the equator.

Week three opened up with us passing through the equator.  We did this at 05:41 on June 6 UTC time(this was the middle of the night for us).  We got up for some pictures then continued our regular watches.  The next morning we pulled the boat up(we hove to properly for the first time) had some champagne, cut our hair and jumped in the water.  Everyone went in including the dog, and it was one of those things i will never forget.  As we were still moving a little(when hove too you are still moving a little) we put a line out to hold onto and one of the things Don, carl and I did was to put on a face mask and look at the bottom of the boat.  We did this to see if it needed any attention.  It didn't but then I looked down and let the boat drag me along looking out into the ocean.  I thought this would be scary as I have looked into the blue nothingness before but only when diving or snorkeling.  I think the comparison when doing this near shallower water makes the deep, deep water scary.  Doing it this time it was more beautiful than anything I have ever seen.  The water colour was a blue like nothing I had seen before and you could see forever.  It was just one of those really cool experiences.




Anyway off we went after that and the next 5 and a half days were the fastest we sailed all trip.  Really rolly but fast.  We just put our heads down and charged for the Marquesas.  The picture below is what we found when we got there.  We were very happy.





WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE.

- Leaving Mexico
- the first 5 days. Obviously
- the washing machine effect.  This was the first 5 days, a day or two in the doldrums and the last 5 days where the boat goes up and down and side to side all at once all day.  This was pretty sweet.
- the bird that perched itself on our mast for 2 days and left its body weight in poo on our Genniker.
- The big fish that stole all our hooks and line.
- The ITCZ,  That pace sucks.  I always envisioned the Doldrums to be perfectly flat with no wind when in reality the swell is always there and this is what makes them so crap.  With no wind to push on the sails to stabilize the boat you spend hours or even days in this vicious side to side motion.  we had an engine so we could power out of it in a few days but it must have really sucked back in the day when boats didn't have engines.
- the constant lack of sleep.  You keep surprisingly busy when you are on a passage.  I guess that makes sense when it takes two of you, 2 hours to do the dishes and this happens twice a day.  We also didn't have any automatic way to steer the boat so someone always has to be on the wheel.  The main reason for our lack of time to do anything was sleep, or lack there of.  I calculated that I personally had 11 hours a day of freetime.  Those 11 hours are split up in 4 or 5 patches of which 3 hours is the longest opportunity you get at one time.  For the first week, of those 11 hours I reckon I slept for about 2 hours per day.  The next week  it went up to 3-4 hours per day and the last week I think I peaked at 5 hours per day.  I was so tired after the first few days tat the rest of those 11 hours were spent trying to sleep.  I was to tired to do anything else.  However the ocean conspired against me and provided a number of reason not to sleep, including:  The constant pitching and rolling never let you relax as you are always bracing against it.  A number of times I woke up and my arms and legs we so sore I could barley get up.  The creaking of fiberglass and loud bangs of something falling or a door that was left open smashing against the wall.  The worrying about things that haven't happened yet(I am really good at this),  The waterboarding you get in the middle cabin when rain or a wave hit an open window(close the windows you say, well I say don't jump to conclusions before you know the whole story and read the next reason), the stifling heat and humidity when all the windows are closed(see now what do you do smarty?) And then there was the banging(as explained below)
- the last 5 days sucked.  For two main reasons. 
1)  The course we chose exposed us to the swell a little more than we liked which then created the odd slap of water against the side.  Outside it seemed like nothing, inside those odd slaps seemed like the end of the world.  I think every night in those last 5 Lisa and i wore woken up by a loud bang and in our sleep deprived states tried to figure out where the hole in the hull would be and what we were going to use to fix it.  There never was a hole but that stuff was a little scary.  By that stage though you resign yourself to whatever happens will happen and you will deal with it when it does and you go back to what little amount of sleep you have left. 
2)  The course also created this judder effect.  It is hard to describe.  What happens is a part of a wave hits the bow of the boat and then a second later another part of the same wave hits the stern.  I don't really have a good analogy for this but I am sure there is one.  It creates a motion that I really thought was going to crack open the boat down the middle.  Not a pleasant feeling.


WHAT I DID LIKE

-  The Tuna Carl caught(he will tell you more)
- The cloud formations. I really like clouds now.
- The sunrises(as seen below)



- the sunsets(as seen below)



- The Dolphins,  This needs more explaining as we had lots of dolphins during the day but we have had that the whole trip.  Its the ones at night combined with the phospheresents that were truly amazing.  I am pretty sure someone else willat this one.
- The sleepy whales of which we sore three and the last one was about 50 feet away.  Whales are cool.
- The satisfaction of the second week and how good sailing it was.  The sail(GENNIKER) and the scene below were typical



- Seeing things break or go wrong and just dealing with them.
- The Equator was really cool.  I think this meant more to me than making landfall.  I remember it a lot better
- swimming at the equator
- Learning as much as we did about sailing and starting to really be comfortable in what we are doing.
- The pacific seafarers net.  Big thank you to all involved in that.
- The satisfaction of completing a trip like that. Puts things into perspective and really made me see just how possible things are if you only try.
- Having my dad and mum to talk to on the radio and provide us with useful information and basketball scores(it was the NBA finals)
- landfall
-Seeing all of us bicker and fight and suffer but still come through and do what needed to be done.  I think we all still like each other.  At least I know I do.

Andy

Sunday, June 26, 2011

provisioning

so following andy's lead i will also expound on the topic of getting the boat ready to go. how about the shopping list? as you may or may not know, we were anticipating about 24 days of sailing, then you have to add 50% for unforseen delays and another 20% for an "oh shit" scenario. as i hate math, i provisioned for 60 days. that's a lot of food for 5 people (3 meals a day x 60 days=  a lot of food). "how does one even go about making a list? where to start?", you may ask. well, i started with breakfast. so our breakfast options were cereal with dried fruit, oats with honey nuts and dried fruit, or eggs (with pancakes and french toast thrown in from time to time- weather depending). so i needed enough cereal, eggs and oats to make each one 20 times. and i pretty much did the same thing for lunches- tuna salad wraps/sammy, salmon salad wraps/sammy, pb and j, and pasta salad. for dinners i came up with about 13 different options and went from there. i also needed to figure out things like tp, paper towel, flour and other bread making ingredients plus i've kind of become the water person as well. so when i started all my lists we had 2 tanks totaling 200 gallons. based on my math that was enough for about 30 days. that wasn't enough. we needed for 41 days (that's 24 days plus 50% padding, and 20% "oh shit"). as andy told you, we ended up fixing our 3rd tank (75 gallons) so we left cabo with 275gallons in the tanks, 20 gallons in store bought jugs and another 20 gallons in jerry cans. so as far as food and water were concerned, i felt ok. oh, and since we only took a little over 21 days, we've still plenty of food and water!
so back to food shopping. thankfully we still had the rental car from our road trip to see josh and christine or i would have been doing hundreds of trips on the bus! this list was spread across a few markets: ley, walmart, soriano's, sam's club, city club and chedruai. lelsie and i had done a bunch of price comparisons and then i organized my list by location- bargain hunters! we then spent 2 days running around all the shops, schlepping things back to the dock, removing cardboard & labels and last of all, finding a place to put it all. so here it is, in no particular order:

whole tomatoes, canned (30oz)- 15
corn, canned (14.5 oz)- 10
crabmeat, canned- 10
steel wool- 2
dish soap- 2
baby wipes (4 pk of 100)- 1
multigrain cheerios (1# bag)-6
jam- 3 (strawberry, fig, blueberry)
toilet paper- 40 rolls
ramen- 30 pks
tomatoes, roma (varying ripeness)- 30
nopales- 1kg
garlic- 6
limes- 12
lemon- 12
ginger- 1/4#
banana- 10
avocados (varying ripeness)- 25
peppers, bell- 4
peppers, poblano- 4
peppers, serrano- 4
beans, white (dry)- 500g
peas, can- 15
olives, can- 10
pineapple in juice (like the holy grail in sugar obsessed mexico)- 4 (i bought all they had)
tropical fruit in juice- 4 (same story)
vegetable boullion- 2 box (10 pc each)
soyaki- 2 (this little gem was my "go to" when we were taking big swells on the beam. just toss it in with the ramen, add an egg, top w peanuts- yum!)
thai peanut marinade- 1
onion, white- 15
onion, red- 4
onion, green- 5 bunch
shallots, large- 5
carrot- 2kg
potatoes- 25
cabbage- 2 head
apple- 10
pineapple- 2
cilantro- 1 bunch
caulliflour- 1head
broccoli- 1 head
beans, fava (dry)- 500g
split pea, yellow - 500g
split pea, green- 500kg
spinach, frozen- 2 bag
string beans, frozen- 1 bag
peanut butter- 10 jars (i bought ALL the skippy natural i could find in la paz)
beans, black (dry)- 1kg
beans, flor de mayo (dry)- 500g
tuna, tin- 45
salmon, tin- 34
spicy tuna, tin- 11
bran flakes (1 kg box)- 4 ( i cleaned out sam's club)
prunes- 1kg
raisins- 3 (1kg bag)
honey- 2 (2kg ea)
salditas (saltines)- 150-200 packets (i forget how many were in each box)
granola bars, nature valley fruit & nut- 3 (28 pc/box)
tostadas- 2 (3pk)
rice- 15#
oats- 1.5 kg
paper towel- 16
juice, jumex individual juice box, multipack- 1 (40 pc)
shammies- 1 pk (15pc)- they suck btw
lentils, green- 5kg
wine, white (for cooking) - 2 (we made a "no drinking on passage" pact)
peanut candy- 1 box (delicious peanut butter "marzipan style" little treats)
chupa chup mini lollipops- 1 bag (150 pc)
tootsie rolls- 1 bag (60 pc)
lunettas (mexican m & m's- vegan)- 2 box (40 pc/box)
almonds- 1 kg
lettuce, romaine- 1 head
cracketts (mexican ritz)- 2 box (8 rolls/box)
gatorade powder- 1 can (2.4 kg)
garbage bags- 1 (210 pc/box)
bread, multi grain and whole wheat- 10 loaves
soymilk- 36 (1L ea)
eggs- 22 doz
coconut milk- 12
tortillas, corn- 3 bag
tortillas, flour- 3 bag
chocolate chips- 1 canister ( i found choc chips in exactly 1 place- sam's club in a plastic canister)
coconut, shredded- 1 canister (it was next to the choc chips, so i figured "why not?"- everyone loves when i put it in pancakes)
water, 5 gallon jug- 3
water, 10 L jug- 2
butter- 2#
flour, white ap- 4 (1kg)
flour, ww ap - 1 (1kg)- i would have loved to do more whole wheat, but everything i read said i would def get weevils if i did.
oil, vegetable- 2L
oil, olive- 1 gal
nutella- 1 small jar
beans, garbonzo (dry)- 500g
yeast- 1#
mayo- 1 (BIG jar)
ketchup-1 (standard size- we're more of a hot sauce group)
mustard, spicy - 1 (standard)
evaporated milk- 8 cans
potatoes, sweet- 5
chopped clams, can- 2
mushrooms- 1 kg
potato chips- 4 bags
champagne- 3 bottles (1 for leaving, 1 for the equator, and 1 for when we finished the crossing)
beer, tecate- 24 cans (for any time AFTER we dropped anchor)

ok, well that's it. if you found it long list to read, imagine writing it, going to 4or 5 different supermarkets & pricing all this out, then buying it, re-working it when they don't have what they had a few days ago, unloading it from the car, re-packing it for the boat, stowing it and making a map of it all. it was hard work but we got it all done, with a  little wine to help us along at times! thanks for reading!
lisa

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Getting Ready

THE PASSAGE, PART 1, PREPARATION

I know this is late and it has taken us a long time to get any information out after our passage but we were tired after the passage and hence laziness ruled over productivity.  Now you may get bombarded with blogs(I doubt it but that is our intention as of right now) with the creative and original thought that you would expect of people who have spent three weeks in the most uncomfortable surroundings your little city dweller minds could think of(have you figured out this trip has given me a bit of a superiority complex, some people my say 'enhanced' my superiority complex but I would say listen to me not them as I am obviously better).

Our passage started in La Paz around the 9th of May.  Between the 9th and 18th of May we busied ourselves in La Paz getting the boat ready for passage.  We did take 2 days off and go and visit josh and Christine in Pescadero.

Christene and Josh's little abode




 but I still count that as working for the passage.  We managed to finally come to a suitable arrangement for doing work.  We had quite a big list of chores to do and decided to divide these up from the start and let everyone do their share when the wanted.  This seemed to work very nicely and everything was done by the time we were ready to leave(the list of chores will be posted in  separate blog under the name 'LIST OF CHORES').

Now a little about La Paz.  Ever since we had bought the boat we have heard about La Paz.  It is revered in the sailing community the way the the Emerald city is reviled by the inhabitants of Oz.  It is the Promised Land.  We met so many people on our travels that only wanted to get to La Paz and then all would be well.  It ended up being pretty funny as we just kept running into people with this mentality.  So naturally being the cynical group that we are we spent a good 2 months just ripping on La Paz.  Small knowing smiles would appear whenever we met someone else who 'just wanted to get to La Paz' and inevitably that conversation would provide a good days worth of humor for the boat.  It got so bad that I developed this uncontrollable need to go to la Paz and see what this place really is about(when I started this trip I had no desire to go to La Paz and when we passed it with out going there on our way through Mexico I never once thought it was a shame we didn't go).  And so after much thought and deliberation we changed our plans due to refrigeration issues and forsake our chance at Guatemala, El salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, The Galapagos and Easter Island  and instead ended up in La Paz(yes refrigeration was that big a deal to us and it was probably the best decision of the trip so far).  and this is what we found




Wouldn't you know it La Paz is the Promise Land.  This was by far my favorite city in Mexico.  It is super safe and very friendly. It has everything you need,  a downtown with a good dose of charm and a Mexican downtown that provided just the right amount of intimidation and discomfort that a non spanish speaking white person would want.  And then there is the sailing community which is naturally huge and obviously brings in large amounts of money to the town.  It covers every form of boater in every financial bracket.  This makes for endless interesting meetings and conversations as well as a certain recklessness in the boating attitude culminating in the numerous boats that manage to become 'involved' in accidents and are in need of repair. I always thought we were in the 'very good chance of damaging the boat' bracket, but after La Paz I wouldn't even put us in the 'average chance of damaging the boat bracket'.  Then you have the sunsets which are like the picture below every night we were there.  There are numerous places you can sit and have a drink or something to eat to watch these and they are fantastic.



So that is La Paz.  And we were lucky to be able to provision here and get the boat ready.  It made our lives easy and a lot more enjoyable than what it could have been at a lot of the other places.  After a fun filled month hanging around La Paz and the bottom of the Sea of Cortez we had our refrigeration fixed(and it is great)  the boat chores done and the boat stocked with food and parts and we were ready to go.  Our original plan had been to leave La Paz on the 14th, stop in Cabo on the 16th and be on our way to the Marquesas.  The reality was a little different.

A lot of what I am about to talk of next was censored when it first happened.  The reason for this was that we didn't really want anyone to worry and we have a few members of our family's that are following us quite closely that would worry.  Its funny when the roles are reversed and you started sheltering your parents from things you don't think they can handle.  Maybe it is just preparing us for when we have our own kids.   Now that it is all said and done I can give you a few more details.  We left La Paz on the 18th of May(4 days late because we couldn't get our shit sorted)) about half way through our trip to Cabo, Don informed me that he had noticed the starboard water tank was leaking.  He had known about it for a while and chose to censor it from the rest of the crew to see how it would play out.  I only found out because I was in the habit of checking it too.  When I probed some more it became apparent we were going to lose half our water supply about 3 hours after leaving Cabo.  This was a concern.  So we stopped at a the closest marina which ended up being 14 miles short of Cabo.  Here we set about dealing to the minor problem which had presented itself on our trip from La Paz to Cabo(which takes about a day and a half).  We commenced these positions for the next 2 days.






Two days later we had managed to fix our tank and in the process fix the third water tank we had originally left as we didn't need it.  So we went from having half our water supply in a tank we knew would be good to having all our supply plus half as much again in 1 tank we new would be good, one tank we were pretty positive would be good and one tank we had no idea about.  So for a few days it was a little sketchy as to what would be reliable and what wouldn't(you can never really trust a fix on the boat till about a month later, from what we have found and then it is just as likely to fail as anything else on a boat which is pretty much everything on our boat). 

We got to Cabo the afternoon of the 21st and pulled into the fuel dock to fill up on fuel and water(we didn't do this at the marina we stayed in because we found out the fuel was unreliable and the water undrinkable).  Upon completing this process we found our water line from our tanks to the sinks were leaking rather bad and our main water filter had finally clogged up enough that it would no longer let any water through.  So now we have lots of water(supposedly) but no way of getting it to the taps.  The next two hours saw Carl running back and forth between the boat and marine stores trying to find a filter and fittings to fix our leak.  Don losing any kind of hand to eye coordination he might have possessed in the past and cutting his hands three times in the space of three minutes(one was a real bleeder too) which then relegated him to expressing his opinion about what to do while I did it.  While this is going on the girls are dealing with the guy on the fuel dock is getting more and more pissed because we have been sitting at his dock for 3 hours not really doing anything(if only he knew, we tried to tell him but it was Cabo so he didn't care , he just wanted us to leave so his fuel dock could look a little more attractive to people with some real money,  can't really blame him there).  We eventually eliminated the filter as we could find no replacement, plugged the leak and put everything back together.

 So off we went with 275 gallons(yes we know this is a lot) of crapy tasting water spread across one good water tank and  two suspect water tanks.  A suspect water line. Two lame looking tiny water filters and a ridiculous amount of plumbing parts that we are not even sure will fix a problem if we have one. 

And so starts part 2.  The crossing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Slanted Enchanted

So we would like to extend a huge thanks to Anette and Graham (andy's parents) for taking our rambling radio communiqu├ęs and turning them into intelligible blog posts.
There is a lot to talk about and I'm sure well over 200 photos worth posting but for the moment we will simply post our overnight shift schedule and a conversation we had regarding eachother's ridiculous habits. "Helm" is when you are actually steering (we have no autopilot) and "watch" is...well....pretty much the subject of the audio.

Click here for the audio

          Helm     Watch
6:00   Don    
7:00   Leslie     Don
8:00   Carl        Les
9:00   Andy      Carl
10:00 Lisa        Andy
11:00 Don        Lisa
12:00 Les         Don
1:00   Carl        Les
2:00   Andy      Carl
3:00   Don        Andy
4:00   Les         Don
5:00   Carl        Les
6:00   Andy      Carl

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A yacht in port is safe, but that's not what yachts are built for

Finally at the Marquesas Islands after 3½ weeks at sea and here’s a catch-up to let you know what we have been up to. We are anchored behind the breakwater at Atuona on the south side of Hiva Oa Island. When we arrived we signed up for wireless internet that is available in the port, but only got access for a few hours and it hasn’t worked since, which will explain our silence on email. So we’ve gone back to daily radio contacts.  Andrew also had a long chat yesterday on the radio with an old friend of his dad, Jack ZL1UA in Tauranga, New Zealand.

We were interested of course in the NBA outcome, which has pleased Andrew but didn’t please Lisa. This island is quite mountainous and very beautiful but it has rained quite a lot since arriving and there are not a lot of facilities. There are a couple of supermarkets and a couple of hardware stores but no-one takes credit cards. There is lots of bread available and we get a daily French baguette for about US70c. The croissants are good too. There is good fresh meat, mainly goat, and good local sausages as well, all the rest of the meat is imported from Australia and New Zealand and is much more expensive than what we could get in Mexico, but not unreasonable. Alcohol is really expensive but that’s not an issue as we did stock up on cheap Mexican beer before the trip. There is very little available in the way of vegetables and fruit. Fruit appears quite abundant on trees on private property but no-one seems to sell it.

We are all fit and well. We had no problem walking on land when we arrived as our last 5 days at sea were quite rough, but our leg muscles do hurt somewhat when walking. We have all lost some weight on the trip but with Lisa’s good cooking are putting some back on again, we hope (as there is nothing to weigh ourselves on). We have been pretty lazy for the past 3 days, recuperating and catching up on sleep. The Police checks this morning were quite minimal, we just had to turn up, and there was no inspection of the yacht. We have paid someone to arrange all this for us as it only costs about $300 to do so, whereas if we had arrived unannounced it would cost over US$1200 each in a bond (this is returned when you leave, but you do have to front up with the cash initially). We are not very sure what the situation is with Raleigh at this point, though.

We do have some maintenance to do on the yacht, not a lot but we do have some leaks into the cabin in heavy rain. Some of it is coming down the mast, and we think we’ve solved that one, but the 2 port lights (windows) leak and we need to work out how to seal them somehow. There is also a good crop of mussels on the hull too which we need to clear sometime but probably not in the current harbour as the water is not very clean here.

Our current plan is to probably leave on Friday and go down to the island south of here (Fatu Hiva) for a couple of days and then spend a couple of weeks island hopping north to the largest island, Nuka Hiva. We do have to move the yacht this Thursday though as the large weekly freighter comes in and it needs a lot of room. There are about 11 to 14 yachts currently in harbour all trying to shelter behind the breakwater.

Till next time

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

There we waited broken-hearted, prayed for wind but only far...d!

We had a few bad days where we waited for wind as we entered the doldrums. We used the motor on a number of times to keep up some progress but had to keep our wits about us even when there was no wind, as little local squalls would come through with 30 knot winds, just to make life interesting. As we had not seen any significant rain for the first 2 weeks of the voyage, we also prayed for rain, but we won’t try that again. A few days ago It rained steadily all day and with the temperature in the 90s and the windows closed for the rain, those inside the yacht were in a sauna while those outside were wet and cold. When we did get some wind, it and the seas were coming from all directions and hence can only be described as confused – in fact in those conditions the crew could also be described as confused!

Then we got some wind again so up went the sails and off went the motor. The rain stopped too and we headed due south when the wind allowed to get to the equator and below the doldrums as fast as possible. The past couple of days have been pleasant and fine, although hot and humid, with consistent SE wind and swell, both advantageous for where we are going. We have achieved a good consistent 6 to 7 knots speed, with the odd 8 knots – things get a little interesting at that speed! We are typically doing about 140+ miles (230+ km) daily now which is better than we have achieved for a while.

Yesterday we crossed the equator and as none of the crew had crossed the equator by sea before, King Neptune converted us all from “pollywogs” into “shellbacks”. We actually crossed the equator about 0600hrs UTC at night so we got up and took a few photos and then all went back to bed as everyone was tired. We got up in the morning, slowed the yacht right down and all jumped into the water, including Raleigh. The yacht was still moving slowly at about 1 knot so we were trailing a long rope behind the yacht in case someone didn’t make it back on board. There were no problems. We put goggles on and did a bit of an inspection of the underside of the yacht. There are a few parts that could do with a clean sometime but in general it is in good condition. Lying in the water with goggles on and looking straight down is spectacular as the water is so clean you feel that you can see forever, the green colour and the light go a long way down. It didn’t feel scary just spectacular. Unfortunately we couldn’t take a photo of the ‘Equator’ sign as we passed as we couldn’t find it. We can only assume that the yacht in front of us must have stolen it!!! The crew members then lost various parts of their hair and the beards came off. We opened the champagne we had carried for the occasion and enjoyed a glass of that to finish the celebrations.

We have been asked what we do in our spare time. We are actually quite busy steering, planning, working the sails etc, but do have time for other things. Lisa, Leslie, and Carl read a lot and Lisa is on her 15th book so far. Don and Andy have a number of other daily tasks and Don gave the engine an oil change yesterday. Andrew has difficulty sleeping with all the movement and noise so he takes opportunities to sleep when he can. He recons he has the chance of about 11 hours of sleep a day but only actually sleeps for a small portion of that.

Raleigh is doing fine and has settled down to a routine. He needs company so is generally with Carl or Lisa. He has little booties on his feet which he doesn’t really like but they give him much more grip when he is walking around the deck. He also has dark glasses to shield his eyes from the very strong sun, but he absolutely hates those.

Apart from Andy’s daily radio contacts with his dad we have been successful with other crew members talking to family. Carl has had a good chat twice with Ann and Kyle, and other friends and family in the past few days, and Leslie has also had a long talk with her dad. We have also talked with other yachts ahead of us to check out what their conditions are and with one that has just departed the Marquesas Islands, and got some comments on what to see etc.

Some more Words of Wisdom from the crew:
Lisa - When did my hair get curly? I look like Shirley Bloody Temple!
Leslie – My hair is finally clean
Don - Andy has put his foot down and decided that this will be the last week of the passage
Carl - Lamp restoring is going better than expected
Andy – I will not ask for rain again
Raleigh – You people suck! Get me off this damn boat

To clarify Carl’s comment. There are a lot of old brass lamps on board and many of them quite rusty. Carl has decided that he will restore them all. If he succeeds by the time we reach NZ then he can punch Andy in the stomach, if not he receives the punch!

We are all feeling a bit tired and worn out and looking forward to a good rest in the Marquesas. We expect to get there this coming weekend.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Higher and higher every day, till over the mast at noon….

We are getting very close to the equator and are over halfway to the Marquesas. We expect to get there about 11 or 12 June. The wind is from the NE at 8 Knots and the sea from the NE at 3’, so it is pleasant sailing at the moment. The wind has been reasonably consistent today but it died last night from midnight till about 6am this morning. We still managed to travel 219km (136 miles) in the past 24 hours. The weather has been very hot and relatively calm for the past few days. Lisa woke up this morning all hot and uncomfortable so she immediately put her bathing suit on and got a bucket and sat in the cockpit pouring seawater over herself much to everyone’s amusement. She said it solved the problem.

There is a bird that sits on top of the mast day after day and makes a bit of a mess on the deck below, so Carl had a number of attempts to chase it off today but hasn’t succeeded. We made humus today and Andrew says he really enjoyed his sandwich of fresh bread with humus, tomato and salami. We used olive oil in the oat bread today and feel that it tastes better than the vegetable oil we have been using to date.

Another day:

All the above was yesterday. We’ve had another good day sailing with a NE wind of about 12 knots. We are heading almost due south now to get through the doldrums and over the equator, so are quite happy still having good wind. Our current position is 06 55N, 127 32W and we are managing to travel around 220 km (~140m miles) every day. We are currently travelling at 6 knots with a northerly sea of 4 feet and a 30% cloud cover so sunny again today. We expect to reach and cross the equator in the next two or three days and will probably be at about 128 to 129 Deg latitude when we do.

Our radio is working very well, and we are told we have about the strongest signal here of any of the boats in the seafarers net. Daily contacts with Andy’s dad (and his mum as well sometimes) are very reliable, and we have the opportunity to talk with Ann (Carl’s sister) and parents and his friend Dan, this coming Friday, if conditions are suitable

The refrigerator is working very well and we are really glad we stayed to solve that problem as cold water out of the frig is great in the current heat. All our food has kept really well except the avocados which have all perished. And Carl caught another tuna today, a much bigger one, about 25 lbs, so we filleted it and had seared tuna for dinner on rice cooked with pineapple juice, coconut milk, onions, peppers, and a little wasabe powder. We are eating really well and enjoying our food!. We have enough tuna for tomorrow night as well.

Words of Wisdom from the crew today:

Leslie – I made my second loaf of bread today
Lisa – Too hot for touching
Carl – Why can’t we stop to swim
Don – We are at 100 hours on the engine, time for an oil change in the Doldrums
Andy – We need to get that bloody bird off the top of the mast
Raleigh – I’ve been working on my suntan and its going quite well.

That’s about all our news, not a lot changes out here at the moment.