Archive for November, 2007

Entry for November 30, 2007

November 30, 2007

Good morning everyone!!  I’ve arrived in Lexington KY and have been having a great time visiting with my sister and her husband. The weather has gotten veryyy cool here.. it must be prepping me for the northeast, as I’ve heard they are expecting snow by the time I get there next week.. brrrrr..  hey Dad, could you stoke up that fire for me?? hehe..

Bill’s blog!  they’re almost to Christmas Island .. yeah!!!

It’s late morning on Thursday and we’re sailing along on a pretty calm ocean toward Christmas Island. All day yeaterday the winds were decreasing and by the end of my 9-12  watch last night they were down in the single digits. Running close-hauled there wasn’t enough wind to keep the boat on course and the sails started banging. I started the engine, rolled in the jib and tightened in the main and mizzen sheets to motorsail until the winds picked up. We motored all night until I got up around 8 am and talked to Todd(it was his watch) about sailing again. The winds were up into the low teens so we rolled out the jib, trimmed the sails and started saling along at 4 knots. Within an hour, the winds were high enough that we were up to 5 knots . Because there were no winds all night, the ocean was an eerie calm, I love sailing under these conditions – after a calm – when the boat seems to glide along the swells. It’s my favorite time at sea.

Our ETA for Christmas is early tomorrow morning. The lagoon is not deep enought for sailboats so we’ll anchor just outside on the leeward side of the island. Hopefully, the winds will stay low and the swells wont rock us too hard while we are anchored.

We’ve been eating pretty good the past few days with the calmer winds keeping the boat from rocking and rolling too much. Aaron made Mexican omelets for everyone yesterday morning and I put together a tuna-egg-mac salad for lunch/dinner. Jack made his famous pancakes this morning(krusteaz- just add water) adn I’m starting to think they are as good as Aunt Jemimas.. The previous night Jack made a penne pasta with chicken and mushroom saute that was awesome.He put in garlic, olive oil and a little white wine for a wonderful sauce. It’s been a little too rough to BBQ so we still have quite a bit of (semi) frozen meat in the freezer. We’ll be cooking up some of that at Christmas if the waves aren’t too bad in the anchorage. We are doing pretty well provision-wise with what we had bought in New Zealand and Pang Pago. I think the only item we are out of is milk. Not too bad considering all the provioning we did in NZ was for three of us since we didn’t know Aaron was going to join us later. We still have almost 2 weeks before we arrive in Hawaii but it looks like most of the other things will last that long – even the booze if we don’t have too many wild parties like the equator crossing yesterday ( two margaritas each was a wild party for us.. Ha)

We have been heading around 030 degrees on our compasss while making good arund 350. This tells us there is one heck of a current from the east pushing us west. As the winds died this afternoon, we decided to try tacking back to the southeast and work our way toward Christmas. None of us really thought this would work because the winds were too low, but we gave it a try. As we tacked to 150 degrees, the GPS told us we were actually going 200. Holy Cow!.. This is one big current. We decided to motor toward Christmas so we set our throttle for, what in the past had been, about 6.5 knots. We were only doing 3.5. Result- there is a 3 knot current from the east around here that is trying to keep us from reaching our destination. At this speed we’ll be there around noon tomorrow but we’ll be using some of our precious fuel to make it.

Aaron is making spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner as I’m finidhing up this blog. It smells great with the garlic and onions simmering. As I was writing this, we pulled in a 10 pound tuna on our fishing line. Go figure – we had the lines out earlier trying to catch dinner. Now that we had dinner on the stove, we catch a fish. We decided to give him a reprieve and let him go. We’ll probablybe trying to find a restaurant tomorrow and fish hasn’t been keeping well in the freezer lately. We’ll put the lines back out when we leave Christmas Island. Dinner was great and we opened a bottle of red wine, we wanted to celebrate Aarons last night at sea with us. We’re still motoring along at 4 knots on a pretty calm ocean .. we also splurged and each had a small glass of port and some chocolates for dessert.. mmmm



Entry for November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007

Another updated blog from Bill…

Monday morning the winds started to increase into the mid-20’s. We were still running close-hauled about  30 degrees west of our course to Christmas Island and hoping the winds would change to the east shortly. In the afternoon, the winds increased to near 30 knots and we rolled in about 1/3 of the jib and put the first reef in the mainsail. That slowed the boat down a little and we weren’t slamming into the waves too  much.

By Tuesday morning the winds had shifted to the east about 15 degrees which wasn’t enough to put us on course for Christmas but it was better. We started talking about all the optioins open to us and the latest weather information Todd had downloaded on the SSB. We decided if the winds didn’t clock by 4pm we should tack to the east which would be a little AWAY from Christmas but put us on a better course the next day when we tacked back. As luck would have it, the winds clocked another 15 degrees around 3pm and we were able to get within 10 degrees of our desired course.  The waves continued to build with the high winds and by Tuesday night I’d estimate them at 8 foot swells with a couple feet of wind-chop on top of that. The swells were pretty close together which made for a little bit of a wild ride.We had to give back a few degrees of heading on Tuesday night, but by the morning we were only about 15 degrees off our desired course. We figured this would put us 40-60 miles west of Christmas Island and we would either tack back overnight on Thursday or motor into the waves for 12 hours or so if the winds were not hght enough to sail close-hauled. As I write this around 2 pm on Wednesday, the seas have calmed to  6 foot swells and the winds are 15-20 knots. They still have not gone fully east as predicted so we are going to tack back at some point of this trip. Our current ETA for Christmas Island is early morning on Friday

Christmas Island was “discovered” by Captain Cook during his voyage around the pacific in the 1770’s. It is currently under Australian jurisdiction and uses the Ausi dollar. I think because of their close ties with Australia, they have “bent” the International date line so all of the Line Islands (of which Christmas is part) are on the same day as Australia. What this means to us is when we arrive on Friday, it will actually be Saturday in Christmas Island. When we leave there, we’ll gain the day back so we’ll be back on the same day as the US. and Hawaiil We’re going to keep ships-time on US days so we don’t get too confused.

Yesterday I mentioned to Jack that I had read in books about the flying fish landing on boats while they were cruising the oceans. About 2 hours later we discovered a tiny, 2 inch, flying fish all dried up on the back deck. This morning there was a big fat one on the leeward walkway flopping around on the splashes. He eventually made his way back into the ocean and we waved good-bye.

We are 15 miles from the equator and are planning on just a little party when we cross- maybe a round of margaritas with a toast to King Neptune as we watch the GPS change from south latitude to north. Our weather the past few days has been very surprising. The days have been pretty clear, puffy clouds, and temps in the md-70’s. The night have been cool and last night I was lying in my bunk thnking I was uncomfortable but couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized my feet were cold.  I was almost temped to put on socks, Geez. I hadn’t even worn a shirt since Tonga, except when going ashore. I eventually warmed up and played it tough by not even grabbing the sheet over me. How can it be this cool around the equator?? If anybody figures it out, let me know.

A little while ago we started planning our coming landfalls and the timetable for arriving in Hawaii. We are pretty much on schedule for arrival around December 11th in Honolulu if the winds to Hawaii are cooperative. We have two options depending on the wind predictions. First, we can stay in Christmas Island until December 3rd and plan a 8-day passage to Honolulu. Or, we can leave Christmas on the 2nd and sail overnight to Fanning Atoll, then stay one day in Fanning before leaving on the 4th for a 7-day passage to Honolulu. Either of these will put us at the dock on the 11th with 140-150 mile sailing days- no problem for Capaz if the winds ar cooperationg. Since Fanning is northwest of Christmas, We’d have to give up some of our easting to go there so the predicted winds must be from the east to make it up on the way to Hawaii. So far it looks good but we’ll have more up-to-date forecasts when we get to Christmas. We’ll also ask around to see if there are some good sights in Fanning. Weve already heard cruise ships go there so it may be a little too commercial for our tastes. I’ll finish up this blog after we cross the equator in a couple hours– Ta-ta.

HEY!! At 5:20 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2007 we crossed the equator at 159 degrees 06 minutes west longitude. We toasted King Neptune with Margaritas and offered him Tequila while Todd made a very nice speech bringing Aaron and I from the realm of Pollywogs to Shellbacks (shellbacks have been across the equator). Jack has been across the equator under water (subs in the Navy) so we made him an honorary Pollywog before the crossing since he hadn’t been across on a surface ship. I took many pictures and I hope they come out decent. We had a grand time and the weather couldn’t have been better – 75 degrees, 15 knot winds and low swells but we are still close-hauled. It was great!  Aaron pushed for a second margarita and we made a little party out of it. We don’t usually drink while underway so this was a real treat for all of us. We’re still looking at Friday morning landfall in Christmas Island as we will probably miss it by 40 miles and need to tack back. Oh well, That’s sailing!!

Entry for November 27, 2007

November 27, 2007

I’m posting Bill’s blog for today, but be sure to read the previous post, as Bill sent me a few to post…

We have just started our third day of sailing north from Penrhyn and they seem to be all merging together. Our first day was very squally but we were able to run a course very close to the correct bearing for Christmas Island. Yesterday(Sunday) was clearer skies but the winds went closer to the north(the direction we need to head) and we had to fall off to the west a little. Today we are closer to our desired heading but are still running close-hauled about 25 degrees west of our course. The weather forecasts show the winds clocking to the east over the next 100 miles or so and we hope we are able to make up for the winds of the past few days.

We’ve just passed 4 degrees south latitude so are within 240 miles of the equator. I can’t wait to see that line running aroung the world like it shows on all the gloves (Ha Ha) We should be crossing the equator around noonitme on Wednesday and haven’t yet started planning our King Neptune party. It will probably be as low keyed as a toast with a glass of wine, None of us have been very adventurous since being close-hauled in 20 knot winds, the boat is moving around pretty good and we spend most of our time sitting or laying down. I haven’t had to take any seasick pills in several days and even typing on the computer seems to be ok with my head. I guess my body is somewhat getting used to sailing and this boat after almost 3000 miles since New Zealand. I was thinking about that today. 3000 miles since New Zealand and only 5 stops. Sailing Second Wind from Virginia to Trinidad was almost 3000 miles and we made probably a couple hundred stops. I think I like that better…   I was also thinking that my life with Laura, sailing the Carribean, seems like a very long time ago. I’ve been living on Capaz for weeks now and it feels a little like forever. In case you can’t tell, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Laura again , spending Christmas with our families and getting back to the shorter sails in the Carib. I’m afraid that long haul sailing,  crossing oceans, is not in my future. It seems like a lot of dull time spent at sea for the reward of a few days of neat anchorages and meeting new people. Oh well. I’ve committed to doing this delivery with Jack and Todd and I’ll see it through. There are only about 1500 miles to cover in the next 2 weeks before our Dec 11th ETA in Hawaii.

We are hoping that the winsds will be predicted to stay east between Christmas Island and Hawaii. If they do, we will visit at least one more island in the Line Islands(of which Christmas Island is a part) before setting sail to Honolulu. The only problem with doing this is the closest one, Fanning Atoll, is northwest of Christmas Island which will give us a harder tack if the winds to Hawaii blow from the normal northeast. That is still probably 5-6 days away so we’ll just have t wait and see.

The sunsets have been beautiful and the last few days have seen the passing of a full moon which lights up the sea around us at night. I’m not seeing the sunrises anymore as I’ve switched watches with Aaron so he can enjoy a few before he leaves us in Christmas Island. My watch is now 9-12 and it’s taken me a few days to get used to staying up later. I was going to bed right after dinner to prepare for the 3am watch, the good thing is I can sleep all night after waking Jack up at midnight. Yea!!

We haven’t been eating much because of the rocking boat. Today was fairly typical, Todd was aventurous so he made pancakes for everyone’s breakfast. Around 3pm Jack felt like making sandwiches so we had tuna-fish sandwiches for supper using the homemade bread we had bought. At 8 pm I’m still not humgry and will probably wait until tomorrow’s breakfast before eating again. Long sailing passages are a good way to lose weight.  


Entry for November 27, 2007

November 27, 2007

I’ve arrived in Las Vegas a few days ago and am enjoying a visit with Ben and Melinda, and checking out the sights. It’s my first time to Vegas and it is quite a sight. I’ll be leaving tomorrow for Lexington KY to visit with my sister for a few days.

I’ve heard from Bill a few times, via sailmail. He’s gleaning all he can from this experience but seems to be ready to be off the high seas for awhile. It’s been a long trip for him, considering that for us in the Carribean, most of our sails were day by day..  His blog is below, enjoy!

For Saturday 11/23/07

We were up early this morning(Friday with a call on the marine radio from the customs official. We were all still in bed as it was only 7am ships time which turned out to be 8am local time. Todd got dressed and took the dinghy into the little dock and picked up the Customs guy, He came aboard and we chatted for about an hour as Todd filled out the paperwork. Ru (his name sounds something like that) told us about the atoll and small village. They live a pretty Spartan life but there is a school and a small hospital for the 250-300 people that live here. Ru talked alot about fishing and Aaron set a date with him for 5pm today to fish the reef on the ocean side for smapper. aaron has to supply the gasoline since there is none available on the island because the supply ship hasn’t come in 6 weeks. No problem since we have at least 5 extra gallons for our dinghy. Ru asked for a few things like fish hooks (which we gave him) and some other things that we told him we were short of like DVD’s. Aaron gave him some home-made lures that he seemed pleased with. He also gave us each an island-made necklace that looks like 1/2 of a pearl attached to a piece of oyster. It is very polished and nice which makes for a good trade. Ru offered to give us a ride around the motu(only about 7 miles long) when we were ready. We had a few important projects to work on first. I transferred fuel from the tank with the water in it while Aaron repaired the terminals on our starting battery. We worked on these while Todd made French toast for breakfast with the fresh bakery bread. Mmmmmm.

The weather today is windy with squalls. We’ve already been able to fill up one 2 1/2 gallon water jug for drinking from boat runoff and hope to fill up a couple more if the squalls keep coming. We’re not to comfortable with this anchorage as we are on the leeward side of the Atoll with the wind trying to blow us into the shore. We’re also anchored on coral which isn’t the best holding.

After we finished our critical projects, we took the dinghy into town and Ru picked us up in his tiny truck. Jack vlunteered to saty on board for anchor watch since the wind was still blowing pretty hard. Aaron and I rode around the small island to the Airport(very loosely speaking) where we might find some diesel fuel. The fellow at he airport told us he couldn’t sell us any diesel because they didn’t know when the boat fro Raratonga would get here. It was already  6 weeks late and he had to save his fuel for generators. It wasn’t a big proglem for us as we still have about 180 gallons on board and should be able to sail most of the remainder of our trip. Todd asked him about changing US$ for NZ$, which he agreed to do for us. There is a bank on the island but they don’t change money (pretty funny, huh?). He changed $200 US for Todd and gave him $240 NZ. Our captain needed the money to pay our departure fees of $30 per person which we all thought was pretty expensive.

We rode around the island in the drizzle with Aaron and I standing up in the back of the little truck. I commented how it seemed like I didn’t even need to hold on sinc the truck was moving around much less than our boat at sea. My balance is pretty good now after 5 weeks crossing the Pacific in a sailboat.

The Island seems pretty poor with little rundown houses but the people seem very happy. Everyone we talked to smile at us and the guy who opened his littl egrocery store for us was laughing all the time. This grocery store was just a small counter about 10 ft wide with 5 shelves on the wall behind it. You just pointed to what you wanted ad he grabbed it for you. Todd bought a small package of crackers, a can of tomato sauce, one can of crushed pineapple and a can of peanuts for the equialent of about $14 US. Pretty expensive stuff and we really didnt need this stuff but I guess Todd wanted to support the local economy. After about an hour tour, we ended up back at the dinghy where I offererd to relieve Jackd from the anchor watchon the boat so he could see some of the island too. Jack was allexcited when I told him why I was back on the  boat and it only took him about 20 secons to get dressed and hop in the dinghy back to shore. I had forgotten my camera anyway and I hope to go back later to take some pictures. A short time later Todd came back to the boat and I joined Aaron and Jack on shore. We walked around the little village and several people talked to us. We were waved over to a house where William sat us down on plastic chairs and offered us coffee. We declined the coffee but he asked us if we had anything to trade. We asked what he was looking for and he replied, “fish hooks and masks”. He also said he had pearls to trade. I  had heard about some of these islands that had pearls but also heard they were not very valuable. We told him we’d try to stop by later with some fish hooks. As we ere walking by one of the nices places in town near the water, we were called by a bery large man putting on a t-shirt. His name was Polo and he was the pastor of the local remimal church (“not the Catholics” he said). His house was the mission and the church was at the other end of town in a straight line down the road. They were both the best looking buildings around. Polo also asked us if we had items to trade and he was looking for masks (snorkel) and maybe English books. We told him we didn’t really have extas on-board and we talked with him for a little while longer. It’s too bad we didn’t know ahead of time what things we could bring for th eCook Island peole and trade. They live a pretty isolated life here and I imagine some things are pretty hard to obtain. We eventually walked back to the dinghy and rode back to the boat. Todd andasron went fishing with Ru around 5pm while Jack and I worked on a few boat projects including replacing the main halyard which had become worn in a few places.

We are planning on leaving around noon today(saturday) for Christmas Island. We need to checkout with Customs and Immigration(Ru) then pick up a couple loaves of bread we ordered from teh bakery, the winds look pretty good for sailing north if we leave today. Our trip to Christmas Island is 660 miles as the seagull flies (no crows out here) and should take us a minimum of 4 1/2 days. More likely it will be 5 or 6 days as we will want to sail as much as possible to conserve our fuel and make it last for hte anticipated light winds in a band called the Intertripical Convergence Zone (ITCZ or Dull-drums) just north of Christmas Island.

Todd called Ru on the radio and picked him up around 11am for checking out. Earlier this morning I had made breadfast for everyone-home fried potatoes, sausage, cooked in with the home fries, eggs the -way-you-want ’em and toast. It was a big hit. I had been thinking about home fries for awhile and they tasted great. After breakfast, Jack and I worked on the starting battery and drained 5 gallons of water from our big fuel tank that had been causing us problems on the way here.  We can probably use that tank now if we need to but can’t drain any more water until we are in smooth water anchored again. Ru asked for an d was served a couple of cold beers while Todd filled out the numerous papers AGAIN. He then brought out his peoarl oyster necklaces for sale and othe items he had in his bag. What a perfect job, a customs official who automatically gets to visit all the boats, huh? He gave us a few “gifts” and we purchased a few items from him. Then he wanted to trade me for sandals or shorts which he said would fit his son. I really didn’t have any extra clothes with me that weren’t already beat up from the last year of cruising. I also didn’t want the other things he was selling. About 2 hours later, Ru left with Todd and Aaron to pick up the bread we ordered, and visit another boat that had shown up this morning. Jack and I were left on the boat to prepare her for getting underway(hopefully some time today). The other boat is here from Bora  Bora, near Tahiti. They are also traveling north but not for at least a couple days. Too bad I don’t have anyway to warn them about Ru….

Entry for November 23, 2007

November 23, 2007

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. After an awesome dinner and special times with family, my night was topped off with a call from Bill, seeming tired and happy to be anchored again, his blog is below. 

 Spending time with my girls, Mark  and the grandchildren has been wonderful!! But the time has come that my trip goes forward. I will be leaving this afternoon to head to Las Vegas to visit Ben and Melinda.  I’ll be seeing the grandbabies again in late December when they head back east to spend Christmas with Marks Mom in North Carolina, and then head north to NY to visit with Jen’s dad and grandparents right after Christmas. Paula will be missed the most as she will be staying in Washington on her own for the holidays.

Bill’s blog.. I got a little confused on his time line, but then they may have crossed over the dateline again… If you check the international dateline on the internet, you’ll see it’s not a straight line, but way crooked! Enjoy

On Wednesday afternoon, Aaron said, “Anyone interested in Tuna steaks for dinner?” We agreed and he threw his fishing line out behind the boat. I thought he was being a bit optimistic until an hour later when he pulled in a 10 pound blufin tuna. We had grilled tuna fillets for dinner which I skipped because my stomach hadn’t been feeling too well for a couple days. I think I had a little stomach flu which is feeling ok now (Friday-night).

I did make Tuna-noodle-casserole for everyone for dinner on Thursday with the leftover tuna and it was a big hit. I even received an ovation from the crew. Here’s the recipe for Tuna-noodle-casserole:

One package egg noodle (or available pasta) ; One can tuna (or leftover fresh bluefin!); One can cream of mushroom soup; A little milk and butter.

Cook the noodles until firm. Put them aside in a strainer. Heat the soup in the empty pan and add the tuna and a couple of tablespoons of butter. And 1/4 cup of milk until silky. When the mixture is almost boiling, stir in the noodles from the strainer and keep stirring on the heat until everything is hot. Add milk if it looks to think and doesn’t easily spread over all the noodles.  Serves 4 hungry guys.

The past few days have been running together with only a few things that stick out. We’ve been motoring for almost all the time since we left Suwarrow except for about a 1/2 day when we tacked around and tried to stay as close as possible to our course. While motoring on Wednesday, our engine quit in the evening and Todd changed the fuel filters. I showed him how to bleed the fuel lines on the injectors and the engine started up fine. It ran until Thursday night at 1 AM when it died again. It turned out we now had water in the fuel filters. Todd and I drained all the fuel filters and again bled the fuel lines on the engine. We switched to another fuel tank and by 3 AM we had it running again when it was time for my watch.

Around 4:30 PM on Friday, we motored into the lagood at Penrhyn and anchored in front of the tiny town. As we were anchoring, one of the locals called on the marine radio to sell us some bread – quite the business man. We anchored in front of this tiny town with the boat barely moving after 3 1/2 days at sea. It was a fine passage except we motored almost the whole way. We’ve now used 1/2 of our fuel to go less than 1/3 of the way to Hawaii from Samoa. But, that should be fine since we have now completed all of our “easting” and will be heading north from here to Christmas Island (course 005) and north from there to Honolulu (course 355). Hopefully, the last 1,700 miles will be more sailing with the tradwinds on our beam and just running the generator for our refrigeration.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! We don’t have any turkey on the boat and have just taken out some chicken to thaw from the freezer. We’ll probably have BBQ chicken or chicken stir-fry for dinner. I am thinking about my sister, Denise, and her family that I love and miss dearly. It’s too late to call them and I hope they had a great Thanksgiving day.

Entry for November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

The following is Bill’s trip from Samoa to Suwarrow. They left Wednesday, Nov 14th and arrived at Suwarrow on Saturday, Nov 17th.  They are currently “on the road again”… enjoy

Yesterday we sailed/motored into Suwarrow Atoll after a nice 24+ hours of actually sailing after more than 2 days of motoring. The windshad picked up as we went through a weather front and were blowing 30+ knots for about an hour before calming down a little. Todd was thinking about putting a reef in the mainsail and I said that would be a great idea because the winds would die down as soon as he was done, Well, of course that is exactly what happenend and by the time he had the reef all set up the winds were down to about 20 knots.

I wasn’t too comfortable in my bunk as this was the first port tack (wind over the port side of the boat) on our trip. My bunk is on the port side of the boat was trying to roll me onto the floor all night. We do have lee-cloths installed on all the bunks which are canvas pieces that are tied to the entry side of the bunk that keep you from falling out.  They are pretty uncomforatble to lean against but they do hold you in. I’m hoping the winds will be as predicted and stay on the starboard side from now on. Jack is on that side of the cabin but he copes with it better because he can crawl up into the end of the bunk that has a dresser next to it. I don’t fit there.

Suwarrow Atoll is one of the most beautiful places I’ve sailed to yet. We are the only boat here and are anchored right in fromt of a gorgeous, palm covered beach. I have many pictures and will post themas soon as I get internet access again. The water is very clear and we can easily see the fishes and corals on the bottom 30 feet below us. We had a welcoming party just as we anchored- 8 “Black Tip” reef sharks came up and started swimming around the back of the boat just as we were ready to jump in. Everyone said “don’t worry. they will leave you alone” but it took awhile (and a couple of drinks) before Todd really checked it out by jumping in the water. They did scatter and we finally had a warm, refreshing swim after 3 1/2 days of sailing here from Samoa. Aaron said, “These sharks are probably only here because of the jerks feeding them from their boats” as he started throwing in scraps from our dinner. HA!  I had made grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, whole kernel corn and, of course, macaroni salad for dinner. These guys take care of me while we are at sea, and I make up for it after we anchor(I also made breadkfast for everyone the next morning). We had a few cocktails before dinner and a nice bottle of red wine with the port, after dinner I dug out the port and chocolates for dessert. Mmmmmm.

We’ve had cloudy skies, squalls and storms for the past few days. Yesterday, we just barely got the anchor down before  we had a large squall come through the anchorage which dumped about 2 inches of rain on us. BOAT WASH!! This morning (Sunday) I woke up (after sleeping about 9 straith hours) to a beautiful, sunny day. There is a gentle breeze coming through the boat and it is an excellent “drying” day for all our stuff after 2+ days of rain. Aaron is in “vacation mode” as he is always on the go, wanting to dinghy to shore, snorkel the reef, fish or just do anything. Jack, Todd and I are more in the cruising mode and just look at him, shake our heads and go back to reading our books. Aaron threw in a lure aroung the sharks yesterday and , jast as he was saying sharks never hit the lures, one of them ate it and tried to swim away. It was a good fight for about 15 minutes,(he was using a light rod and reel) before he got the shark up on the back deck and finally pried the lure out of all those sharp teeth. The shark wasn’t too happy and as Aaron was holding it up by the tail, it kept trying to turn to the side and bite him.

I did get a swim in this morning but the reef sharks make me nervous. They seem to stay around the boat even wehn you swim away. Even then, at one point, I had two little (3 foot?) sharks swimming 25 feet under me, anther two off my right and a lot of bait fish swimming near the surface off to my left. I thought to myself, “This probably isn’t the best place to be right now” so I swam back to the boat and made breakfast for everyone- streaky bacon (they call it that in New Zealand because their normal “bacon” is thick like ham), toasted bagel and eggs as you want ’em, It was yummy.

We’re planning on staying here today and relaxing before heading out to Penrhyn tomorrow. That will be a 2 1/2 day sail northeast, about 380 miles. Once we reach Penrhyn, we’ll have completed almost all of our “easting” against the trades and the rest of the trip will be mostly north to Christmas Island and Hawaii. Theoretically, we will be on a beam or broad reach the rest of the way after Penrhyn (HA!) We are now almost 50% of the way through our cruise. We’ve logged 2,015 miles out of 4200. We are also halfway through our allotted time so that works out good too, It’s interesting that this morning, when I brought up the subject of when everyone wants to leave this anchorage, it was pretty unanimous on leaving tomorrow, I guess that’s because there are no bars or restaurants here for Jack to visit.

Atolls in the Pacific are volcanic islands that were formed millions of years ago. The valcano would rise in the ocean and when it reached  the surface, corals would start to grow in the shallow waters. Eventually (millions of years), the volcano would collapse and fall back down below the surface. As it fell, the corals would continue to grow and form a large ring around the old volcano. The Atolls are the leftover rings of corals and reefs anywhere from 4-15 miles in diameter. Suwarrow Atoll only has one entrance for boats in the whole 18 miles around it. But once you are inside, you are very protected from thewaves and the waters are usually shallow enough for good anchoring. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these beautiful Pacific Atolls.

On Monday, we were up early, about 6 am. Aaron fixed us a fine Spanish omelet for breakfast then Todd and I went snorkeling for awhile. The corals were very colorful and I saw some of the largest brain coral I’ve ever seen. After about an hour, we took the dinghy back to the boat and picked up Jack and Aaron.  We explored the southern end of the motu(small island) and eventually went snorkeling around the entrance to the atoll. After I got in the water, I saw three black-tip sharks about 3 feet long swimming around us. Not too far behind them I saw a larger, maybe 6 foot, shark that didn’t have the black-tip markings. I wasn’t sure what it was but it seemed to be heading in our direction. The dinghy wasn’t toofar away so I swam over there and hopped up. Only then did I notice I was the last one in the dinghy, the other three guys had seen the bigger shark and made it into the dinghy before me. I noticed that Todd had a cut on one of his hands that was bleeding a little. No wonder the sharks were bolder. We motored back into the lagoon then went snorkeling again near a nice reef. Todd stayed in the dinghy. After about 15 minutes, I noticed on of the larger sharks swimming near me but it seemed to run away once it saw what a big mouthful I would be. I decided not to chance it and got back in the dinghy anyway. I saw Jack about 20 feet away waving for us to come over. He quickly climbed into the dinghy and said one of the larger sharks was directly below him and seemd to be following him as he swam around the reef. About this time, someone reminded us that we were 450 miles -3 sailing days- from Samoa, which was the nearest doctor and medical center. That was the end of our snorkeling for the day.

Back at the boat we started cleaning everything up and preparing for getting underway. By 12:30 pm we were motoring out of the atoll and back into the open ocean. I’m writing this about 4 hours later and we’ve yet to have enough wind to sail. We are motoring along at 6 knots with the main and mizzen up to cut down the roll. The swells are low and long which makes for a pretty comfortable ride. So far, what wind we’ve had has been right on the nose bit itis supposed to clock to the east and we’re hoping to sail in a couple hours. We’re planning a 3 day passage to Penrhyn then spending 2 days there visiting the small village of approximately 200 people. That shoud be very interesting.


Entry for November 17, 2007

November 17, 2007

We left our anchorage in Pago Pago around 7:30am on Wednesday morning and motored about a mile to the huge fuel dock.  I drove the boat and we tied up at the dock without incident (another notch in my helmsman’s belt). The fuel lines were about 6 inches in diameter and we wondered how we were going to fit them in our tank fittings. But, the technician had an adapter which brought the 6″ diameter lines down to a normal gas station nozzle.  Cool!

We topped off our tanks with 85 gallons (not bad for 1,500 miles) and were motoring out of Pago Pago harbor by 9:30am into a calm but cloudy sea. We continued motoring through squalls and fairly calm seas for that day and all the next. On Friday morning, the winds finally picked up a little from the northeast and we were able to shutdown the engine after 50 hours of continuous running.

My body doesn’t take well to motoring in even small swells as the boat moves in all 3 degrees of motion including rolling. We had the main and mizzen sails up and sheeted in tight and I’m sure that cut down the roll.  I spent most of my off-watch time for the first 2 days in my bunk reading or napping.

We had two fishing lines out behind the boat since leaving Samoa. In the early afternoon of the second day we finally landed our first fish since leaving New Zealand (we didn’t fish during that initial 5-day storm). Aaron and Jack pullind in a nice 4 foot+ Wahoo (Yahoo!). Aaron spent a while cutting off filets and we had a grilled Wahoo, rice and steamed broccoli for dinner. Fresh caught fish always seems to tast better.

The seas have been very calm, almost no wind-blown chop and long gentle swells just off the starboard bow. Winds have been 10 – 12 knots apparent from dead ahead and we’ve been motoring around 6.5 knots which makes the true wind only 4 – 5 knots – very low. Just this morning (Friday), the winds finally picked up to about 15 knots and fell off to about 50 degrees off our port bow. If they keep up, it should make for a confused sea condition in a couple of hours. Sometimes during the squalls, we all put on our bathing suits and take a shower on the deck. The first day out of Samoa, we even were about to fill up three 2 1/2 gallon water jugs with excellent rainwater coming off the sails.  It was raining pretty hard then but the temps were still in the 80s and not too much wind even in the squalls.

We are now only about 24 hours from Suwarrow Atoll – a small island that is part of the Cook Island Group. Suwarrow is like a national park that is manned by a ranger except for during the tropical cyclone season which started a couple of weeks ago. We passed a sailboat yesterday going the other direction and they told us it seemed the ranger had been gone for several weeks as the place was pretty rundown. That’s fine with us as we plan on anchoring inside the atoll and enjoying the snorkeling and fishing for a couple days before heading on to Penrhyn about 370 miles to the north. There is a village at Penrhyn so we’ll finally get to see and talk to some of the Cook Island people.

Entry for November 16, 2007

November 16, 2007

Good Morning!! from the west coast…

I just got a “sail-mail” from Bill that says they are doing just fine. It’s the second day of their trip to Suwarrow, (cook islands). The winds have been very light and they have been motoring this whole time, which was expected as they are heading almost due east, into the east trade winds. They should be arriving in Suwarrow on Saturday afternoon and plan to do some touring and exploring. I’m not sure of the time line as to when they plan on leaving from there, but will keep you posted as I hear from him. I’m sure he’ll be writing a blog that I’ll post when I receive it.

I spent a few days with my daughter Paula in Lacey Washington and the two of us will be heading back this evening to Bremerton, back to the wild world of kids. It’s nice to have a day just to hang, but I sure do miss those little ones.. especially that baby!! My stay is flying by, and with only one week left here, I want to take in all the “lovins” I can!!

Have a great weekend!!


Entry for November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007

Yesterday afternoon we went to the far end of the island to a Cost-You-Less (a combination grocery / department store) to obtain a few items from our list.  We ended up buying a whole cart full of food as I think we (Jack, Todd and I) were a little worried about how much Aaron can eat and the size of our stores.  The owner of the Internet café offered to give us a ride to the market and he told us many interesting things about the island and the people.  He just opened the café after spending the past 13 years in Seattle going to college and working.  We took a taxi back from the grocery store and it was only $15 for the four of us and a trunk full of groceries.  I was in a little bit of a daze as we were walking through the store.  After the last 9 months in the Caribbean, I was a little overwhelmed with the huge selection on the shelves.

Last night I made seafood stir-fry for dinner and it was a big hit.  We split a couple bottles of white wine and talked for quite a while in the cockpit.  There was a nice gentle breeze coming through and a small sliver of a moon just rising over the mountains.  The new moon was 2 days ago so the moon will be getting bigger over the next 2 weeks and keep us company for the next 2,000 mile journey to Christmas Island.

Aaron is fitting in great and we’re all enjoying the addition to our crew.  He is planning to sail with us to Christmas Island then fly back to Idaho and his family / job.  He’s an interesting addition because he is the only one of the 4 of us that is working a full-time job.  Jack and I have been cruising for the past year (Jack a little longer) and Todd has been getting ready for this trip.  It seems that Aaron is always in a hurry to get things done and see everything.  I think I was like that a year ago but the Caribbean has definitely slowed my lifestyle and I think Jack’s too.  I wonder if my friends and family will notice a difference in me over Christmas in Upstate New York.

Today it rained almost all morning and afternoon while we were working on boat projects.  I installed a sta-lock fitting on one of the main lower stays that had 5 broken wires.  I had helped the riggers when we replaced all the wires on Second Wind last January so I was the only one with a little experience.  It went ok but I was very careful and took my time since it was a pretty important installation – we wouldn’t want to loose a lower stay on the mainmast while in a storm or something.  Jack worked on the anchor windlass deck switches.  They were corroded to the point that he was the only one with the “touch” that could raise or lower the anchor.  He cleaned all the contacts and they work great now.

Aaron worked on installed a new compass on the lower helm (remember we couldn’t use the compass there during the storm from New Zealand?) and I helped him install a new clew pin on the mainsail.  We then fixed the light on the cockpit compass so we can use that at night now.  Jack installed the lifesling that had blown off the stern rails during the New Zealand trek and also fixed the aft running light. 

As we were taking the dinghy into town today Jack started laughing.  I asked him what was so funny and he said, “Remember when you wrote your last email before leaving Trinidad and you told me to make sure I left a few boat projects for you?  Did I leave you enough projects?”  HA!

While we were doing this Todd was walking between customs, immigration, port captain, harbor control, etc., etc. getting us checked in to Samoa then getting us checked back out.  I think it took him about 3 hours to get all the paperwork done but we are now all set for leaving tomorrow morning after our appointment for fueling at the main fuel dock at 8am.  We only need about 60-70 gallons (out of the 350 we can carry) but there will probably not be another chance for fuel until we reach Christmas Island 2,000 miles down the road.  Also, the next 500 miles are all to windward (course 080) so we may be motoring for 3-4 days against light winds. 

I’m writing this at the Laundromat where Jack and I are doing a couple loads of laundry.  Todd and Aaron decided to take the bus to a state park nearby and check out that place.  When the laundry is done, we’ll head over to the Internet café for posting the blog and catching up on a few emails.  Then we’ll retire to the boat and get everything ready for an early morning start to Suwarrow in the Cook Islands, about 500 miles to the east.  It should be about 3 ½ days of motorsailing as the winds are predicted to be light and from the northeast.  Then, we turn north to Penrhyn, Christmas and Hawaii.  YEA!

The picture is an older one from New Zealand.  It is Capaz fueling up in Opua just before we headed out to sea.



Entry for November 12, 2007

November 12, 2007

Friday morning saw us getting the boat ready for a passage again. Todd headed off to Customs at 9am – he had checked out of Immigration and Port Captain the afternoon before. Jack and I worked on cleaning up the boat and packing everything away.

When Todd returned, we removed the dinghy motor and tied it to the deck, lifted the dinghy up on the back deck and tied it up. Then, we cast off the mooring and sailed out of the harbor and, a few miles later, out onto the open ocean. The seas were quite nice with 12-14 knot winds on the beam for most of the day. We sailed away from Vava’U and finally lost sight of the island just before sunset.

We fished with two hand-lines all day and lost a small fish (maybe a 2 foot tuna) in the afternoon. After sunset, Todd started pulling in the lines. He pulled in the starboard line and wound it on the reel. Then, while he was pulling in the port line he said, “Is this a bigger lure or something?” 2 seconds later he was pulled to the rail by a 4 foot mahi-mahi that started jumping immediately about 30 feet off the back of the boat. We were all yelling while thinking about the mouth-watering mahi steaks on the grill. I let out the jib and main sheets to slow the boat down a little. It only lasted about 20 seconds as the big mahi broke the leader and we never saw him again. Bummer.

Jack made spaghetti and sausage for dinner and it was excellent. We ate in the cockpit under the setting sun.

Friday night was fairly uneventful with a nice close-reach sail until my shift at 4am. Jack woke me up for my watch and said he had been tracking some rain on the radar. I watched for the next hour as we were rained on several times – a good boat-wash is always appreciated. Sunrise was through the heavy clouds and I never saw the sun come up. Instead, the clouds just started getting brighter. Around 6:30am, we were going through a bigger rainstorm when the wind suddenly clocked around to the west, backwinding the jib. I jumped down the stairs, started the engine and disengaged the autopilot. I steered the boat back onto a close reach and saw we were heading south-west – almost directly away from our target of Pago Pago. Todd woke up and started watching the radar while I tacked the boat to a port tack and closer to our desired course. Over the next 30 minutes, the wind did all kinds of weird stuff and I eventually pulled in the jib and fully tightened the main and mizzen sheets. We were motoring into small swells and using our sails to control the roll – no wind to speak of. This was the way we ran all day on Saturday – motoring with the main and mizzen – because there was no wind. The seas kept getting smaller and smaller until by dinnertime they were no bigger than 3-4 foot, very long period, swells.

Since the boat wasn’t moving around too much, I decided to be courageous and try making a pizza for dinner. It was going pretty well until I asked Todd to light the oven. Go figure – it didn’t work. We decided to try cooking the nice-looking pizza on the BBQ grill. The pizza pan was about ¼ inch too big but we closed up the sides with some towels and it seemed to be working. When I finally pulled it off, it looked pretty good. My first hint of a problem came when I tried to cut it with the pizza cutter – it wouldn’t go through the crust. I figured the pizza cutter was just dull so I tried a knife. That didn’t work either. I finally used both of them to cut some pieces off the pie and fed the troops. You couldn’t cut the crust with a fork or knife so we just picked it up and ate. The crust was like hard cardboard but the pizza didn’t taste too bad. I think the grill cooked the bottom a lot more than the oven would have. Next time we’ll get the pan to fit in the grill and we can turn down the gas so it doesn’t cook as much.

Jack and Todd didn’t complain and even finished off the extra pieces. I guess there is something to be said for the salt air building large appetites. Sorry Laura. I’m sure it wasn’t the recipe.

This voyage has been much calmer than our past two and we should be in Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango), American Samoa tomorrow. We crossed the dateline a few hours ago so it’s now Friday again. We’re not only 1 timezone away from Hawaii and we’re back on the same day as the rest of the U.S. That will make calling home a lot simpler.

We’ll be in Pago Pago until Monday or Tuesday as our 4th crew member, Erin, flies in on Sunday night. It will be interesting to have a new person on-board even though we are barely 1/3 of the way to Hawaii.

We arrived in Pago Pago, Samoa around 4:30pm on Saturday. We lost a day crossing the International Date Line yesterday so we had two Fridays. The 325 mile crossing took us 54 hours but we motorsailed the last 30 hours or so because the winds were so light. With the light winds, the seas kept getting smoother and smoother until, by this morning, we were on an almost flat ocean. It seemed weird to be just bobbing around with the boat going slowly up and down with the long swells.

Our generator quit just as we were approaching Samoa and we found there was no cooling water coming out of the exhaust. We assumed it was the raw water impeller and left it for when we were anchored. The 12v charging system on this boat is in a little trouble. The alternator doesn’t work all the time and neither does the Xantrex inverter / charger. The most likely cause is a poor battery connection somewhere which may be common to both problems. Todd has been cleaning battery terminals and connections throughout the boat but has yet to find a smoking gun.

Being a weekend (Saturday here) there were no staff at Customs or Immigration. Wee talked to a few local cruisers on the radio who recommended anchoring in the harbor and checking in on Tuesday since Monday is a holiday. We had planned on leaving Tuesday so we’ll probably check in and out at the same time.

After anchoring in Pago Pago harbor, we made our “landfall” cocktails and Todd went to work on the generator impellor. About 2 hour later he was pulling his hair out because the new impellor wasn’t working. I helped out and found that the new impellor he was using didn’t fit right. He had another spare which I installed and a few minutes later the generator was humming along.

We had cheese and salami with our cocktails but I wasn’t too hungry for dinner and went to bed early. I’ve been sleeping pretty good the past few days since the seas have been pretty calm but I still slept 8 hour straight.

Today we need to put together a list of parts we may try to have shipped from Hawaii before we leave here. On the top of that list are a couple more spare impellors for our generator and a new sea-strainer which looks like the root cause of the impellor problem. We are going to try and find the Internet café we’ve heard about and I’ll update the blog. It will be nice to go ashore since we’ve been on the boat for over 3 days now.

The harbor here is quite nicely protected and is listed as the best hurricane hole in the South Pacific. There are very steep hills all around us which remind me of Scotland Bay in Trinidad except you can see some of the ground through the trees here. In Scotland Bay, the jungle is so thick all you can see is the tops of the trees.

It’s Sunday afternoon and we haven’t made it ashore yet. When we came into the harbor, the boat needed quite a bit of work. The generator wasn’t working, when it was working it wasn’t charging the batteries fully, the inverter wasn’t working well, the main engine wouldn’t start with the key – we had to jump the starter solenoid, the alternator on the main engine wasn’t charging the batteries correctly and, when we fixed the generator impellor, we found bit and pieces of stones in the lines so the main engine impellor was suspect.

This morning, Jack worked on the starter circuit then we tackled the main engine impellor while Todd continued to troubleshoot a bad connection from the inverter to the batteries. My (semi-) expert task for him was to find a high-resistance connection in the battery cables somewhere. He worked all day on that and finally, around 3:30pm found a bad connection on the main inverter fuse that was all burned out. He bypassed the fuse (there were 2 of them for some reason) and the inverter / charger started working correctly for the first time on this trip.

Jack and I had problems of our own. Taking out the old impellor was a challenge since it was almost under then engine. When we finally got it out, it was in pretty bad shape – not a big problem since we had 3 spare impellors. It took us over an hour to put the new impellor in the pump and it seemed like Jack and I had to change places every 15 minutes because the person working on the pump would get all cramped up. When we tried the new impellor, it didn’t work. No water was coming out of the exhaust. So, we took everything apart again and found a plate in the back of the pump had become cocked which kept the impellor from seating correctly. It also ruined the new impellor we installed. We then installed a second spare (took about another hour) and tried it again – still no water coming out. Now we were pretty confident on our installation so we tried taking off the intake hose and pouring in water to prime the pump (I’ve never had to do that before). We put everything back together and IT WORKED!

Now the generator runs fine and charges the batteries great, the main engine starts and stays nice and cool, it looks like the alternator is charging the batteries (I still need to see this work awhile for confidence) and the inverter works nicely too.

We’ve just finished up showers on the back deck and opened a nice bottle of red wine to celebrate our new boat (where everything, except the oven, works). We’re planning on going out to dinner and Todd said he would buy since we worked all day on his boat. Nice!

Dinner last night was awesome. Right after dinner, Todd left to pick up Aaron at the airport and a little while later there were four of us on the boat. It seemed weird having a 4th person but the new stories will make life a little more interesting.

We found a nice Internet café where I can finally update the blog. Enjoy!