Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday 28th July

Papeete,
Tahiti


17 32.422 S
149 34.279 W

Again we were awake fairly early and breakfast was over and done with at break neck speed. There is another half hour time difference here and as we had altered the clocks yesterday Gerry got the time wrong for the radio schedule and missed speaking with the others. We then seemed to take an age to organize ourselves to go out, mostly as we were trying to connect to the internet via the provider we had paid for in Nuku Hiva; our attempts we unsuccessful and frustrating. We have a Swedish boat behind us and as we prepared to go exploring we stopped by their boat to see if they could get the internet. It appears that they have the same problem with the same provider that we were having, not a good thing but at least we are not alone! We chatted with them for a long while, exchanging charts and stories and even getting an invite to drinks and dinner with them that night; we accepted the drinks but as we had to pick Abigail up form the airport we took a rain check on the dinner. Eventually we took off in the hire car and drove around until we found the airport, the marina to the other side of the town and then a huge cash and carry store where we wandered around eyeing up things that we need and filled a trolley with the essentials for the moment (NO there wasn’t a single bit of chocolate in the trolley!) Having done our grocery dash Gerry tried to force Micky D’s on me for lunch, luckily there were no vacant parking spots and the drive through was tailing back out on to the main road almost to a round about; we headed back to the boat and ate lunch there. We spent the afternoon clearing all the stuff off of the V berth bunk, airing it out and making up the bed there for Abigail. At 17.00hrs we joined our Swedish neighbours and their friends for cocktails; we had a great time chatting and establishing a new friendship with them. As we sat there we were suddenly watching a large plane coming in to land, Gerry was a little concerned that we might have the time wrong for Abigail’s flight and we quickly bid our neighbours goodnight and headed out to the airport. Of course it wasn’t her plane at all and we had another 2 hour wait before her flight landed, we filled the time by having a quick bite to eat and then sat people watching until the arrival of the Sydney flight. Gerry bought some Leis which we festooned Abigail with as soon as she cleared the customs hall; it was so good to have her with us again. As we left the arrival hall Abigail pulled our “Bear” and had to have an arrival photo taken with him at the airport.
Bear belongs to a friend of hers and Abigail asked if she could take bear on a holiday with her, the condition being that there had to be a lot of photos. I can see this is going to be a very silly month! We arrived back at the boat, settled in and chatted for a couple of hours until we finally dragged ourselves to bed, there was still so much catching up to do but it would have to wait for the time being.

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Friday 27th July

Papeete,
Tahiti


17 32.422 S
149 34.279 W

Despite not getting to bed until midnight we were both awake and ready to get up at 07.00hrs. Gerry spoke to the Guys on the radio schedule and let them know we had arrived safely. Wandering outside along the dock Gerry discovered that there is a security guard on duty along the quay 24 hrs of the day, he asked a few pertinent questions about where the trash is, where the customs and Immigration offices are and was made to feel quite welcome. We cooked breakfast and planned our day. As soon as possible we walked to the tourist information office which was a short distance away and then on to the customs and immigration office to report our arrival. The form filling was, like everywhere else, time consuming and tedious but we finally got it all sorted out. Next it was a short distance further to a hire car place where we took control of a small car for the next week. Gerry was in his element again – driving around at break neck speed trying to avoid all the cars that seemed to want our bit of the road. We drove around to acclimatize ourselves to the area and made our way around to the haul out yard to arrange our timetable for having the work done to our rudder, the boat will be coming out of the water on Monday morning at 07.15hrs (how disgustingly early is that!) Once we had organized that it was time for lunch and we parked in a multi story and made our way to the café center where we had a typical French style lunch sitting under umbrellas on the pavement listening to 3 guys playing ukuleles and singing – it was all very pleasant. Following lunch we both flagged badly and had to return to the boat to have a sleep – it was catch up time! We revived at around 17.00hrs – time for a pre dinner drink. We set off to find somewhere to eat, settling on a Vietnamese place however it wasn’t open yet so we found a street café where happy hour was in progress and settled in for a couple of drinks whilst watching a huge cruise liner pull into the quay and dock. Once we had finished our 2 for 1 drinks we made our way back to the restaurant; the doors were now open but they didn’t begin dinner until 19.30 hrs, with half an hour still to go we were the first customers of the night but by no means the last. The food was pretty good and we made pigs of ourselves, once we had eaten our fill we returned to the boat for a relatively early night. With the urgent stuff now under control we could spend tomorrow exploring a bit more.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Thursday 26th July

Papeete,
Tahiti


17 32.422 S
149 34.279 W

Many happy returns Matthew Baker, hope you have a great birthday.

Neither of us managed a great deal of sleep, again the boat was heeling over far too much and far too often meaning we were either rolling from side to side or were sliding up and down the bed; we think the only solution is to hook up a hammock somewhere and sleep in that – of course it needs to be someplace where the rain can’t get us either which limits where it could go. By the time the sun was due to rise the skies had clouded over completely and we were doubtful that we would see the sun at all. The sky turned an ominous red behind the clouds – a sign of things to come for the day! Gerry spoke with Y Not and Timella on the radio schedule, telling of our overnight trip and asking if there is any sort of qualification needed to be a weather man, Gerry is sure he could do as well as some of the predictions we have had recently! Anyway we spent the entire day trying to hold ourselves into the boat, the wind speed picked up during the late morning and we had a steady 21 knots of wind which was moving us along at a good 6.5 – 7.5 knots with a full main up and a reefed jib. Once the winds established a constant speed of more than 18 knots we put a reef in the main to try and steady the motion, in retrospect we should have put both reefs in at this point but you know about that hind sight stuff! Mid afternoon Gerry went for his nap and after about 40 minutes reappeared as he was unable to sleep due to being almost on his head with the heeling over. As he reappeared our wind speed hit 23knots and he decided that it was way past time to put the second reef in the main. So as we roared along, heeled over so far that the gunwales were in the water, Gerry donned a harness and went out on deck to put the second reef in, a foolhardy action which luckily had no negative results. As soon as the reef was in we steadied up a little and our speed dropped to 8 knots from the 8.8 that we had been doing. It was still a very uncomfortable ride but fast! The skies remained cloudy all day but at least it didn’t rain on us. Gerry spotted a rainbow some way off from us in the early part of the afternoon which was the excitement for the day until at 16.28hrs the cry went up – Land Ho! There in the distance were the peaks of Tahiti poking up through the clouds, still about 36 miles off but at last we were getting close. As we got closer to land we thought the wind must be due to drop a little but this was not to be, instead it increased even further and reached 32 knots a few times. Gerry even took over from George and hand steered for the last 2 hours before we got into the lee of the island as he didn’t want to wear George out! It was 21.35hrs by the time we reached the lee of the land and at long last the wind dropped, in fact it died away to just 3 knots – a huge difference from 31 and suddenly we were wallowing along with 6 miles left to go before we could turn into the harbour entrance. The good thing was that we were now sitting level in the water and Gerry thought that we would be able to run the engine without sucking air in along with the fuel. We took the chance and furled away the jib and dropped the main then started up the engine, it miss fired a couple of times but then burst into life and we managed to motor into the harbour. We called the port captain (as per instructions) and were surprised to get a reply this late in the day (it was now just after 22.00hrs). We were told to proceed in and tie up or anchor inside the harbour in one of the designated areas. We followed the lights in and found that there is a large new tying up place inside the harbour and we picked a spot alongside and tied up for the night expecting to have to move in the morning. By the time we were in, tied up and shut down it was 23.55hrs – we had just made it before midnight and it was time for a decent night sleep without the boat moving. We were very relieved to have finished this particular part of the trip, it was far worse than the 21 day and 12 hour crossing from the Galapagos to the Marquesas; and we are in good time to meet our daughter when she arrives on the 28th!

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Wednesday 25th July

At Sea

15 46.440 S
147 38.534 W (at Midnight)

As the night continued and turned into a new day we were dodging bullets, or should I say rain. Huge rain clouds came at us continuously all night, we missed quite a few but managed to get wet a couple of times. This is the down side of having too much wind! We were now getting wind just forward of the beam at 21 knots! At 03.00hrs we were both up (neither of us could sleep almost standing on our heads) so we reefed the jib and then the main, hurtling along at 8 knots is fine but it was almost out of control. Gerry wanted to run the engine to top up the batteries at 03.30hrs and within half an hour of starting the engine up it cut out of it’s own accord – oh no, been there once before – don’t need that again. Gerry went to change the filters whilst I kept watch over George. Once the filters were changed we tried to start the engine up again, it just wasn’t playing the game though. It would turn over but stop almost immediately, it sounded like it was lacking fuel. More investigation eventually showed that as we were heeled so far over the ¼ tank of fuel we had was all to one side of the tank and the engine was sucking in air along with the fuel. After much deliberation Gerry decided that our best plan would be to reassemble the generator (replace the bits he had taken off) and run that instead of the engine to charge the batteries etc. as it uses less fuel and the chance of getting air in the mix was less. Even if we completely muck up the generator at least we have a spare alternator coming to Tahiti where we can fix it. Of course if there is anyone close by with any spare fuel so we can add a bit to our tank that would be good too! The increased winds and the engine problem occurred just as we were dodging between the Tuamotus Atolls, when we needed to have all the resources available incase of any problems. Still we got through OK and even dodged the only fishing boat that we have seen in days at the same time. By sun rise we were under relative control and racing along at 7 – 8 knots, it was an exhilarating day of sailing that followed which turned into a personal challenge if you needed to go to the toilet, get something to eat or drink or try to sleep, still after the lack of wind for the past few days we were going to make the most of it and roared along for the entire day and well into the night. There was no time to do anything but hold on and watch the ocean rush past. I’m glad to report that we ran the generator twice in the 24 hour period and nothing untoward happened, it ran like a dream (if a somewhat noisy one). Gerry went for a snooze at around 16.00hrs and I just had to call him at 16.50hrs to come and have a look at the sight of the day. On the water and hovering just above it a short distance ahead of us was the most enormous flock of sea birds I have ever seen. It was like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” They were having a feeding frenzy, swooping and plucking fish out of the water, they looked like a huge black cloud with a few white specks thrown in for good measure. If we hadn’t been moving along so fast it would have been a good spot to throw the fishing line in the water as there were obviously plenty of fish around that area but unfortunately we would never have been able to pull the line in without changing course and there was no way that Gerry would ever countenance that !

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Tuesday 24th July

At Sea

14 02.799 S
145 42.939 W (at Midnight)

This had to be the most tedious day of this part of the trip, during the early hours of the morning there began to be small storm cells coming over us. As the rain hit us the wind died away to almost nothing and at one point our speed dropped to .8 knots – I know I could have swum faster than that! The good news was that I was feeling much better today – that was the only good news for the day! At dawn we faced the possibility that it was going to be another day of the boom banging and the sails flapping aimlessly, back winding each other. We took the drastic measure of furling away the jib and just running with the main to see if we could keep it full – huh, not a chance, so we put up with the clattering and banging for most of the day. Gerry did the radio schedule and let the others know that the weather was extremely unpredictable for this leg and that we were experiencing the worst weather since we left Panama. The entire day was another of those “nothing” days. We saw no ships, no whales, no dolphins (not that we’ve seen any this leg so far!), No turtles, no flying fish – that’s pretty unusual and definitely no wind to speak of. We contemplated if there is such a game as ‘I don’t spy” – we would be on a winner with that one today! So what did we do all day? Read in the cockpit, catch up with sleep and stare endlessly at the blue water and paler blue sky. By the time it came to sun set we were ready for one decent thing to happen and we thought that tonight might be the green flash night as there wasn’t any cloud in the sky around the setting sun. Did it flash? Not a chance! But it was a pretty orange ball vanishing into the sea. The night watches began with us wishing for wind and you know what they say about being careful what you wish for! It wasn’t too long before the clouds gathered in the sky in horrid looking black patches, the wind began to creep up and it wasn’t too long before we had 15 knots of wind on the beam – beauty! We roared along and began to take our sleep when we could get it.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monday 23rd July

At Sea

12 50.118 S
144 23.834 W (at Midnight)

I’d like to say I felt better by morning but that isn’t the case, I felt like I’d been hit with a sledge hammer, I ached all over as if I had flu. I dosed myself up as best I could and tried to do as much as I could - that’s one of the problems of there only being 2 of us, we can’t afford for either one of us to not function to some degree. By sun rise the wind dropped off again, down to 6 knots which left us doing 4.5 knots in a good moment, it was painful as the sails just flap and bang around with the swell. We tried to goose wing the sails but they just back winded each other and in the end we got sick of the constant banging and furled the jib away, trying to maintain some movement with just the main. At one point Gerry thought the main track was lifting as the main slapped and he went to have a closer look – inviting disaster. Lying on the deck was the steel roller from the top of the main sheet block, broken in two. It didn’t have a direct impact on the working of the block but it is something else that we are going to have to fix when we get to Tahiti – the list is growing to gigantic proportions! For the rest of the day we continued to ghost along, doing 4 knots if we were lucky and praying for wind to arrive soon whilst cursing at the weather forecasters who seem to get it wrong every day. Again we ate dinner at sunset and then the wind appeared – it’s becoming the regular pattern. We spent most of the night with the wind at 14 knots and we made a respectable 6-7 knots for most of the night, which is just as well otherwise we would take forever to get to Tahiti. By the time we began night watches I was beginning to feel a little better and managed to do my fair share of the night without incident.

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Sunday 22nd July

At Sea

11 17.681 S
142 40.028 W (at Midnight)

A very happy birthday Mark, hope you manage to have a decent glass of wine or two.

The rest of our night was uneventful and we continued to move along albeit slowly through out the entire night. As soon as the sun rose though the little wind we had died and we were wallowing around for most of the day, lucky to be reaching 4 knots at times, at least the swell was small too. Gerry did the radio schedule at 07.30hrs and chatted to Timella and Y Not. Timella have decided to call into the Marquesas after all as they are running low on butter and flour, I think we were all relieved to hear that they were going to stop as we couldn’t imagine them doing the straight shot Fiji at 2 knots it would take them forever. Mid morning Gerry turned the engine on to top up the batteries and fridge, then disaster struck - the chart plotter turned itself off and we couldn’t get it to start up again. We thought it might be too great a drain on the power with the fridge going so we turned that off – still no chart plotter,out came one of the tool bags and the process of diagnosis began. First we took apart the housing for the chart plotter and tested the power input,(there was none)so then we chased the wiring back to the lazarette and found that the power supply to there was fine – somewhere between the two there was something amiss,Gerry had a thought that it might be the fuse blown, unfortunately the fuse is housed beneath the cockpit floor and to get to it we had to rip up the floor whilst moving along. It took some gymnastics to do it but we succeeded and Gerry got to the fuse – it wasn’t blown but as he replaced it the chart plotter burst back into life, we concluded that the fuse must have worked loose in the plastic housing. In some ways it was a good thing that there was no wind and we were just drifting along when all this was going on. We reassembled everything and got back to the business of willing the wind to come up and blow us along. The sun was hot and without a breeze it was quite torturous in the cockpit. Our only other bit of excitement for the day was seeing a ship at 15.30hrs, it passed behind us at about 9 miles. We watched the sun set as we ate dinner and shortly after that the wind finally put it an appearance and blew up to 15 knots on the beam – perfect, just what we had wanted all day. We began the night watches moving along at a reasonable pace. I woke from the first sleep period with the most violent stomach pains, feeling nauseous and very unwell, Gerry was fine so it had to have been something that I’d eaten and he hadn’t, I finally put it down to a couple of sticks of salami that I’d had mid afternoon,(not that it helped knowing the cause). I did a minimum amount of watch that night, Gerry took pity on me and let me sleep as much as possible. The good thing was that we moved along most of the night at about 5.5 – 6 knots. At least this speed gets us there by the time Abigail arrives.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Saturday 21st July

At Sea

9 41.575 S
140 56.908 W (at Midnight)

We slept well, there was hardly any swell in the bay to keep us awake and when we awoke the sun was shining, it was a shame that we didn’t find this bay a few days ago and spend more time here. Poor Gerry suffered badly today from the sand fly bites he received last night; he always reacts badly to them and is covered in huge red lumps today despite having drowned himself in spray last night; they itch like crazy and he is applying local anaesthetic like it’s going out of fashion. Today we definitely were leaving for Papeete. Our first task for the day was to secure the dink on the foredeck. Once that was done we went to start the engine; Gerry turned on the chart plotter and it was very slow to start up but eventually came to life, we thought nothing of it. We hauled the anchor up and began to motor slowly out of the bay; Gerry hoisted the main sail as I drove us out until we had cleared the entrance. It was a bit lumpy around the entrance and we were glad to be clear of it before unfurling the jib. The wind was very light, only 6 knots so we motor sailed to begin with until we were clear of the effects of the island then we turned off the motor to see what we could achieve with just the sails. As it turned out it was abysmal, the wind stayed below 10 knots for the next 18 hours and we slid through the water at speeds varying from 1.5 knots to 4.9 knots – at this rate we were going to arrive in Tahiti on 3rd August! We didn’t motor sail as we only have about 45 gallons of fuel on board – we didn’t fill up in the Marquesas as the fuel was $6 a gallon and we didn’t think we would need more than what we had left to get us to Tahiti (hind sight is a wonderful thing!). Anyway we played all day and half of the night with furling and unfurling the jib, putting out the pole and retrieving it when it broke off, letting out the reef in the main and generally trying to get as much mileage as possible out of the pathetic wind. The sea was flat calm and there was nothing in sight for several hours then just before sunset Gerry noticed that there was a sail boat in the distance behind us, it had to be motoring to have come within our vision. We ate dinner as the sun went down and then the night watches began. We debated whether to put on our running lights or not – they draw quite a lot of power and we are without the generator so power is a very precious commodity; in the end we did put them on and left them on until about 01.30hrs when we finally decided that there was nothing within striking range and the moon was bright enough to see anything on the horizon anyway.

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Friday 20th July

Anse Hakatea (Daniels Bay)
Marquesas


8 56.753 S
140 09.937 W (at Midnight)

A very happy 9th birthday to Max, we are thinking about you today.

Our day started with Gerry doing the bakery run, picking up bread for ourselves, Y Not and JJ Moon who were due to arrive here mid morning. The morning began with rain but it soon cleared up and the sky began to look like it might give us a nice day. We were going to take off today but decided to wait until JJ Moon arrived so that we could at least say hello to them. It was about 10.00hrs when we spotted JJ Moon making their way into the anchorage. Gerry jumped into the dinghy and motored out to greet them. Meanwhile Mags was on the radio asking where we were anchored. They were soon dropping their anchor between Y Not and us; Gerry and Ross helped them to secure a stern anchor. They gave them the fresh bread, had a few words of wisdom and then it was time for Gerry to haul up our Stern anchor whilst I gathered in the extra line. We stowed the stern anchor plus about a ton of mud in the bracket then we took the outboard off the dink and put it away on its bracket and secured the dinghy to the davits. Finally at 100.00hrs we began to motor out of the harbour; we were going to stop first at Daniels Bay which was just a few miles away as that was the place to get fresh water and we needed to fill our tanks before setting off. As the bay was so close we motored all the way, it took jus an hour and we found ourselves entering a completely protected bay which was peaceful, calm and picturesque. Once we had anchored we put the dink back in the water and Gerry went over to one of the other boats at anchor there to ask where the water tap was located. The guy off of the boat, Howard, went with Gerry and the water containers to the place where you can fill up, it was a short distance away up a river which we couldn’t see from the anchorage. After 2 trips we had enough water to last until we reach Tahiti (as long as it isn’t more than a week at sea!) On the first trip Howard introduced Gerry to the locals who live in the house where the water tap is and they invited us all to dinner at their house that night, which was gratefully accepted. It meant of course that we wouldn’t be leaving the bay until the next day but who cares. We weren’t expected to take anything along but I made chocolate brownies as a gesture. Around 17.00hrs we set off in the dink, up the river to the house, Howard and his wife Shira were just a bit ahead of us and we all tied up at the same place and made our way to the house where we were greeted by Maurice and Charlotte – the owners and our hosts. Our hosts pointed out the waterfall at the back of their property which is the 3rd largest in the world; it can be hiked up to but we weren’t going to be doing anything that energetic, and contented ourselves with the distant view we had of it. We chatted and had a couple of drinks and as we waited for dinner more people arrived from the anchorage; soon the whole place was alive with yachties passing the night at Daniels Bay, in total there were 7 boats there for the night and I think the owners of 4 of them plus us had been invited for dinner – it was an epic multi cultural gathering. Everyone had brought something along to share and Charlotte and Maurice had cooked up a feast of Polynesian foods for us to sample. We tried everything and had a wonderful meal of beef in coconut milk, rice, bread fruit, pasta, pawpaw sauce, Polynesian bread, a black bean dish which was fabulous and some mixed vegetables and exchanged stories with the others at the table. Our closest neighbours were an older French couple who spoke about as much English as we did French; between us we managed to carry on a good conversation all evening despite our miss pronunciations. Finally it was time to say good bye, Charlotte invited us again the next day to help ourselves to the fruits on the heavily laden trees in their garden and again for dinner the next night but I had to tell her regretfully that we were going to be leaving in the morning for Papeete as our daughter was flying in there to join us. It was a good job we had taken a torch with us as it was pitch black finding our way back to our dinghy and then back to our boat. This bay was one of the nicest surprises that we have found so far in our travels, the bay it self was lovely and to top it off the people who live there were so generous and friendly to all of us who were total strangers to them – it kind of restores faith in the human race. Once back on the boat we ran the engine to top up the batteries and then turned in for the night.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Thursday 19th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

So much for a good night’s sleep! The rain and wind continued all night, at about 01.30hrs we seemed to be rolling a great deal more than previously so I made the huge mistake of getting up and peering out of the hatch to make sure we hadn’t
drifted off. Well we hadn’t drifted off but we were not pointing in the same direction that we had been when we went to bed – we should have been as we had both the forward and a stern anchor out. I called out to Gerry to come and have a look and to try and work out what was happening, we concluded that our stern anchor had given way in one of the gusts and was no longer effective, we were swinging around our forward anchor and were now side on to the swell hence the rolling. We decided to try and drop the stern anchor again, Gerry got in the dink and I hauled the excess line in on the stern anchor. With the wind gusting quite badly Gerry motored out in the dink to reposition the anchor, unfortunately the dink couldn’t compete with the wind and drag the stern of the boat back around enough to drop the anchor. We tried 2 or 3 times without success, I even had the motor running to try and keep us facing the right way whilst Gerry dropped the anchor – that didn’t work either. We then had to make the horrid decision to move completely as when we swung on our forward anchor we were getting far to close to Y Not who had a stern anchor out behind us and we didn’t want to bump into them in the middle of the night. Gerry tied the dink onto the boat and climbed back onboard; we donned the headsets and then proceeded to hoist the forward anchor. It was pitch black and we knew that there were a couple of other boats nearby so we had the radar going as we picked our way through the anchored boats and over to a spot where there was nothing anchored for a good distance around us, unfortunately it was opposite the harbour entrance directly in line with the incoming swell but at least we weren’t going to hit anyone when we turned. We dropped the anchor and sat watching the boat swing around it, doing figure of eights but at least not drifting off. We didn’t bother trying the stern anchor, knowing that trying to get it to set in the gusts was not going to be a happening thing at 02.00hrs! I went back to bed and Gerry watched for a while then joined me, the rest of the night was rolly and we managed to get the minimum of sleep. By 06.30hrs we were back up and preparing to move the boat back to a better anchoring spot. We went further in towards the dock and took the space left vacant by a boat that departed yesterday. Gerry got in the dink and took the stern anchor out and this morning had more success in dropping it and getting it to set – the wind had dropped and he was able to tug the boat around into the swell. Once we were set I cooked us breakfast before we ran the engine to top up the batteries and cool the fridge down. Once we had finished with the engine running Gerry went into dock to collect our laundry, it was just beginning to spit with rain again so I stayed on the boat. When he got back the rain had let up and we both jumped in the dink to go ashore to do the last minute stocking up of food. We took the boat documents with us as we had to check out with the Gendarmerie – we were going to be leaving in the morning. At the supermarket we found most of the things that we needed but had to limit ourselves to what we could carry in the back pack and bags. As the back pack was very heavy Gerry decided that he would come back in the afternoon to check out. We stopped at the craft building on the return journey and I bought a piece of tapa cloth and a carving, this was just about the last things that we could manage so we got in the dink and returned to the boat where we stowed everything away, ate lunch and then had a brief afternoon nap. Mid afternoon Gerry returned to town and checked out at the Gendarmerie and picked up our last bag of laundry whilst I cleaned out the fridge. On his return we took a couple of beers and our slab of bacon over to Y Not – they have a slicing machine and were kindly going to slice up our bacon for us. We spent an hour or two on their boat and then it was time to go ashore for dinner. We met up at the only restaurant we have found and had a pleasant evening meal together, this time the restaurant had vegetables! Following dinner we headed back to the boat for the night, it was a much better night as we stayed firmly in place for the night. Tomorrow we are off; first we are stopping at Daniel’s bay which is just 4 miles away as we can get filled up with fresh water there and then we are taking off straight away heading to Tahiti where we are picking up Abigail who is joining us for a month. There won’t be any photos for a while but hopefully my sister will be kind enough to load the blog for me for the next week or so.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wednesday 18th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

Well Ross must have been knocking on the door of the store this morning as he was back at our boat yelling at us to come and get the bread at 07.30hrs. Gerry got out of bed and I followed about 15minutes later (when the tea was made). We ran the engine to top up the batteries and cool the fridge down then it began to rain. I raced about closing up the hatches and putting out the buckets to catch the rain water and then it stopped – of course, why wouldn’t it? We played the open and close game for a while until we finally got sick of it and left the hatches closed – that way we knew the rain would stay away. Gerry fiddled around on the computer for most of the morning trying to sort out stuff with the generator. It got to 11.00hrs before we finally took the dink into the dock to collect our laundry and when we arrived the girl asked us to come back at 13.30 hrs as it wasn’t finished yet. I could almost explode, they have had it for 5 days now and it was meant to be ready 2 days ago! Oh well, I guess it’s the island time thing in action again. We went from there to the store intending to buy the few provisions that we were lacking but just as we got there they were closing up and turning the lights out – apparently they close at 11.30hrs and not midday as we had thought! To add insult to injury it began to rain during our walk to the store and we got a little wet.
We did buy the vegetables from the lady out side the store though and then made our way back to the dinghy dock where we risked life and limb to get into the dink which was now 10feet below the level of the dock, the tide having gone out in our absence. We made it back to the boat before the next rain burst and sat eating lunch in the steamy interior of the boat, I do hope the rain hurries up and passes by it’s getting to be uncomfortable cooped up inside. Unfortunately it would appear that the rain gods have decided to stay and keep us company, it rained for the entire afternoon on and off which meant that we did nothing except read our books. Ross and Sue had asked us to join them for a roast lamb dinner on their boat and as we hadn’t heard from Tom Cruise (it’s an Aussie in joke) we accepted and made our way across to their boat around 18.00hrs. We spent a very pleasant evening drinking wine and enjoying a fabulous roast dinner and exchanging tales and tall stories about our sailing adventures. When it came time to go back to our boat it was of course raining again so we got wet – again still we are now use to it and soon had ourselves tucked away inside the boat for the night.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday 17th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W


The rain finally stopped and the sun showed its face this morning. We opened up the boat to let some fresh air and sunlight in and to help dry the interior out again; it’s amazing how just a couple of wet days leaves the whole place damp and musty. Of course all the cushions etc outside also needed to be dried out along with the spinnaker – that’s becoming a bit of a joke; I don’t think it will ever get dried out between the rain and the huge wind gusts that necessitate it being taken down lest it blows away! Still we are trying; it was hoisted again first thing this morning. Gerry did his morning dash to the store to get some croissants and was a little more successful today, arriving back with 4 croissants and 4 sweet rolls. We enjoyed them along with paint stripper strength coffee for breakfast. We carefully poured the last buckets of rain water that we had gathered into the water tanks and packed the buckets away. Then it was time for us to go on a long walk. We took down the spinnaker (still not dry) to prevent it blowing away in our absence, closed up the hatches and bailed the last of the water out of the dink which we then took into the dock. The tide was low and still going out so we made sure to tie up near the steps, having had the problem of trying to get back in the dink at low tide once we have learnt our lesson very quickly. We went first to the post office as we needed to mail in our customs forms, I tried my ATM card in the machine there and low and behold it worked! Next we set off towards the bank and the supermarket; on the way we met up with Sue and Ross who were just completing their checking in. Ross headed off to the Gendarmerie whilst Sue accompanied us to the bank and the store. At the bank I again tried my ATM card – same result – it gave me money! Poor Gerry he tried his to make sure and yes it rejected his card, thank goodness mine works. Continuing on to the store I saw that there were lots of bushes of jasmine along the shore line – I had been right about the scent we could smell on the evening breeze, the flowers on the bushes were huge – about the size of the top of a coffee mug round. The supermarket was a pleasant surprise, it had a good variety of canned and packet foods alone with all the things that we have to have (chocolate and Pringles!) It lacks fresh fruit and vegetables, though outside there was a trestle table set up and a woman there was selling tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, string beans and zucchini. Now we just have to find fruit. Across the road from this store is the second store which had a good variety of frozen meat and vegetables plus a few things that the first store lacked – between them we should be able to get most of what we need for the forward passage. By the time we got through the second store Ross had joined us and he and Sue decided to head back to their boat whilst Gerry and I continued on our walk around the bay. It was a very pleasant walk along the shore; we found the church that we would have gone to had the service been at a reasonable hour! The church was very picturesque, and I felt typically French with Polynesian touches.
The carvings around it were fantastic and there was a beautiful shine to one side of the church which had the backdrop of the mountains – quite spectacular.
Continuing along the coast road we found the 3rd store, a little set back from the road but what a discovery – they sold TIMTAMS! We left there and continued on our way past what seemed to be a? sacred spot where there were several stone carvings of Tiki / totem likeness and an open stage sort of building which seemed out of commission, I took pictures of all of this on our return. The cemetery was just a bit further along the road and had several frangipani trees in flower amongst the graves. We continued on until we reached the end of the road, just next to Rose’s Museum and bar (happy hour there Tuesday and Friday at 16.30 hrs – guess where we will be tonight) We turned around at this point and walked on the black sand beach until it ran out and then returned to the road for the rest of the walk back. By the time we reached the first of the stores it was gone midday and as everything closes down from 12.00 until 14.00hrs we decided to head straight back to our boat. We made one more stop on the way – just outside the dock there is a building which we suspect is purpose built and houses the artisan’s work, there are carvings, beadwork (made from seeds), tapa cloth and some local preserves for sale. I was entranced by the carvings and will be going back with money in my pocket and Gerry no where close by! Back on the boat we had lunch and hoisted the damn Spinnaker up again. After a very short while there was a “SNAP” and the bottom end of the spinnaker took off at right angles out to our starboard side (it had been tied down to the port side). The gust of wind had broken the leash holding it to the deck, thank goodness the halyard held. Once again we were out on deck hauling the thing in – at least it wasn’t in the water this time! I’m beginning to think that it might be better to leave it wet until we try flying it again. I spent the early afternoon hours typing up blog notes and adding some photos for the last 3 weeks – not many but have a look at the spectacular sun and sky pictures going back to June 22nd to make it worth my time. At 14.00hrs Gerry took off in the dink to go and reclaim our laundry which should have been ready yesterday. He arrived back far too quickly, obviously something was wrong – the laundry wasn’t open that afternoon! We spent the next couple of hours reading our books and then at around 16.00hrs we dinked across to Rose’s with Sue and Ross for happy hour. We tied our dinks up to a tree on the beach and walked across the road to Rose’s, we were a bit surprised as Roses place is just her house which has a long table set up outside for happy hour. There were just 2 other men there for the time we were there. Rose asked if we were going to eat there, offering us Mexican chicken and salad for dinner, we already had other plans so politely declined – in retrospect it was a mistake! We had 2 drinks and then made our way back to the dinks, disaster had struck - the tide had turned and was coming in, washing over the back of the dinks and filling them with black sand and sea water. We bailed out quickly, jumped in the dink and motored off to the dock where we tied up before heading along the road to the restaurant that Gerry and I had eaten at a couple of times. Although it was open they didn’t seem to be expecting to have to serve dinner – the beer was waiting to go in the fridge and wasn’t cold and the worse news was that there were no vegetables that night and no salad either – we should have eaten at Rose’s! We made the best of it having curry and rice and ragout and rice but it would have been better to have had some vegetable with it. After eating we took a slow wander back to the dock and dinked back out to the boat for the night. Ross volunteered to do the bakery run in the morning so we didn’t have to get up early. We said good night and settled in for the night.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monday 16th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

Torrential rain continued all night and we woke to a very wet boat deck and unfortunately a couple of leaks – in the usual places so it was no great surprise. We were kicking ourselves for not having put out collection buckets to catch the water as there is nowhere to get drinking water here and we are down to our last few gallons. We aren’t even sure how much is in the tank as there are no gauges on it so we could run out at any moment. Gerry was determined to get to the shop and buy croissants for breakfast today so at 07.30hrs he set off in the dink, the rain having let up for the moment. At the same time I got out the buckets and positioned them to catch rain water when it came again. Suddenly a few huge gusts of wind came up and the spinnaker sock was straining to break free from the halyard and the cleat which it was anchored to. I braved the elements and eventually managed to drop the spinnaker on to the deck, without it falling into the water. I then went to put some coffee on to perk as I thought Gerry would be returning shortly. It was 08.30 hrs before he got back, having been to the bank (without success as his card wasn’t accepted at the only bank in town) and the shop – arriving late and only managing to purchase the last croissant, 3 sweet rolls and a loaf of bread for both Y Not and us. Of course it had begun to pour with rain again before he got back to the boat so he was soaked through. We enjoyed the fresh bakery foods and hot coffee and then settled in to read for most of the day, there being little else we could do in the torrential rain. Oh we did empty the buckets into the water tank as they filled up – every little helps! We had thought we would go ashore in the afternoon but the rain continued well into the evening so we hunkered down and read for the entire day. Gerry had his usual afternoon nap and got up in time for sundowners (had there been any sun to go down!) in the wet cockpit. As we sat out there with the rain coming down around us we noticed that there was a fabulous floral fragrance wafting across the harbour, I think it is jasmine but will have to check it out when we go ashore next. Once cocktail hour was over I couldn’t be bothered to cook as I wasn’t hungry and Gerry settled for a can of ravioli. Both of went to bed very early, we are slowly catching up with our lost sleep, and if we aren’t careful we will be in
debit mode to the sleep gods!

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Sunday 15th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

Happy Birthday Alice, will be thinking of you, travel safely today.

Rob Dehann – can’t locate your email address on this enormous floating luxury yacht, please let us know what it is at : - svorpailleur@hotmail.com, Gerry wants to email you.


We woke just a little too late to make it to the church service which began at 08.00hrs; we had talked of going but it would have taken us a good half hour to get there and we aren’t the best at getting up early in the morning, I’m sure God will forgive us! The day was another pretty looking day and as we emerged from the depths of the boat I noticed a sail boat making its way into the harbour. I yelled out to Gerry that it was possibly Y Not and he immediately jumped in the dink and roared out to welcome them in. Their story was that the wind had died on them completely and they had been motor sailing for the last 24hrs; obviously they were tired and glad to be here and they soon had their anchor down – just in front of us. Gerry took off into shore to go to the supermarket to buy some bread and croissants, he was gone for ever and when he finally reappeared he was empty handed; he had arrived there after the shop had closed for the day (it apparently opens at 07.00hrs until 10.00 hrs on Sundays for future reference). We ended up having to toast the last of a loaf I had baked a couple of days back. Once breakfast was out of the way we went out to try and sort out the mess that was the spinnaker. When it broke the halyard we had just dragged it back on board and stuffed it into the bag in any way we could – the day of reckoning was here, we attached it to the spare jib halyard and slowly raised it whilst straightening and tugging the sock into place. The weather was kind to us, there was no wind so we quickly managed to get it untangled and back in the sock properly; then we decided to leave it hanging as it was still soaked from the dive it took into the water. It hung all day and was still not dried out by the end of the day so we left it there thinking it would dry out over night – more on that later! Having finished with the spinnaker for the time being Gerry climbed back in the dink and continued to clean the sides of the boat off, the vegetable patch is now gone but the dirty marks needed to be scrubbed away with a mild bleach product. I retreated to the safety of the interior and began trying to organize the photos we had taken over the last 4 weeks into some sort of order and then tried to load the blog along with some pictures; I was successful to a point. I had to shut the computer down as the power was getting low and the batteries had to be recharged. Honestly it’s a real pain not having a working generator, I just hop ewe can get it fixed quickly in Tahiti. By lunchtime Gerry had finished with the scrubbing for the moment and we ate lunch in the cockpit. The afternoon was devoted to doing nothing except reading our books and in Gerry’s case having an afternoon nap. I woke him in plenty of time for a sundowner and some nibblies before dinner. We ate on board as our meat is beginning to defrost and we need to use it up. A reasonably early night followed but we were woken during the night by torrential rain; remember I said that we left the spinnaker up to dry out? – it was now soaked again but at least it was now soaked with fresh water. I got up and shut all the open hatches whilst Gerry snored on then went back to bed listening to the rain pelting down around us, I think that Y Not must have brought it here with them as it’s the first rain we have had since arriving!.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday 14th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

We woke quite late, still not quite caught up with sleep but getting there. Today was going to be the day to start looking at some of our problems and sort them out as best we can. It became immediately apparent yesterday that we weren’t going to get repairs or replacements here for anything – it is a very small place! Gerry procrastinated for a couple of hours, chatting on skype to friends and emailing the world; we love you all but he was procrastinating! I began the hated job of cleaning the oven; it took a good couple of hours and emptied the last of the water out of the port water tank so we are now down to whatever is in the starboard tank. Just a short while before I finished with the oven Gerry began stripping the generator apart, the bad news followed; the base had cracked again and would need to be welded – can’t be done until we reach Tahiti, 2 weeks away. Until then we have to watch our power consumption, reduce water usage and run the engine to top up battery power and run the fridge. Add to this that we are unlikely to be able to purchase fuel here we also have to be mindful that we only have about 50 gallons of diesel left to last until we get to Tahiti. By now I had finished with cleaning the oven and moved on to the next task that I could complete – replacing the joker valve was next on the list and much as I didn’t want to be the one doing it I was the one who was next up for a job. I found the replacement valve and set to undoing the screws holding the faceplate in place; Gerry then realized what I was doing and switched the overboard off for me – I hadn’t forgotten but I hadn’t got that far yet! I proceeded to take the pipe work apart and ever helpful Gerry handed me a replacement valve. He was stunned when I said I already had one and asked where I had got it from – the same place you got that on from was the reply; I think that he thought I didn’t know where we keep things on here. In no time I had the new valve installed and the toilet back in working order and I didn’t sink the boat! It was now lunch time and we took some time out to decide what to tackle next; it was going to be the spinnaker and then on to some gardening. We were quite shocked by the state of the waterline of the boat, when we had left the Galapagos it was clean and free of growth; on arriving here we have our own private colony of muscles and seaweed growing happily along the waterline above the antifouling.
It was worse on the starboard side than on the port side – due to the almost constant port tack we took to get here and was particularly dense around the exhaust outlets on that side. Gerry couldn’t wait to get on with the gardening so we delayed the dealing with the spinnaker and whilst he scrapped the growth off I maneuvered the dinghy so he had access to the garden. It took the scrapper, a stiff brush, the bar keeper’s friend and the scrubby bubbles with bleach to get rid of the majority of the mess but the job still isn’t finished as it needs another scrub to make it look like its self again. By late afternoon we stooped and helped ourselves to a well deserved sundowner in the cockpit before cleaning up and going ashore for dinner again. We ate at the same place as last night but tried the Chinese menu tonight instead of the regular menu; again it was good but pricey. By the time we had finished eating the dancing was due to begin again in the local hall; I was tired and could hardly keep my eyes open and Gerry was looking very red eyed – definitely a sign of being tired so we agreed to forgo the entertainment and headed back to the boat for the night where we were soon fast asleep. There was still no sign of Y Not as we went to bed but hopefully they will be here when we wake up.

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Friday 13th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

What a blessing to wake up and not be moving anywhere! 3 weeks and 12hrs at sea was quite long enough, in fact it was 12 hrs more than I agreed to but there was nowhere to get off and fly home so I had to stay on the boat until we arrived here anyway! Our first glimpse at Nuku Hiva in day light revealed a very picturesque island; apart from the entrance into the harbour we were totally surrounded by mountains – it’s like being in a high sided bowl. The mountains are very green – not sure that it’s a good sign, there is obviously a lot of rain here to make it so green. The township is small with houses set into the hills at well spaced intervals; it appears very clean and quiet. In the harbour there are about 20 other boats anchored, the majority have Australian or French flags flying. We tried to listen in to the radio schedule but the mountains occlude the broadcasting so we heard nothing. Our first task for the day was to be moving to a more considered spot in the anchorage; where we had anchored for the night was directly in the fetch of the swell coming into the harbour and we rolled a bit all night, not that it really mattered as we were so tired and would have slept through Armageddon. So once we had eaten breakfast we dropped the dinghy into the water then hauled up the anchor and motored to a spot a bit closer to the dock and further away from the entrance, we dropped the anchor and then Gerry took the stern anchor out in the dinghy and dropped it behind us to keep the boat pointed into the swell and stop us from rolling around. Most of the boats seem to have a stern anchor out so we have assumed that the swell must be fairly constant even though the guide doesn’t mention it. Gerry then tided away the main sail which we had left last night whilst I cleaned up the mess in the cockpit and gathered together our laundry. By the time I had finished Gerry had dinked over to our neighbour and found out some of the important must know things about the place. We decided to go ashore before doing anything else and check in however it was now just gone midday and we had learnt that everything is closed between midday and 14.00hrs so we had to cool our heels for a while Gerry spent the time hooking us up to the internet which is mega expensive but the alternative is doing without it – not a happening thing! He emailed JJ Moon to find out where they were and we got a reply saying they were going to Hiva Oa before coming here and that they hadn’t realized that Y Not and us were coming straight here, likewise neither Y Not nor ourselves realized that JJ Moon was going somewhere different, hopefully we will catch up again along the way. As soon as it got near to 14.00hrs we gathered together our documentation, the laundry bags and our trash, put it all into the dink and took of for the dock. Once tied up we quickly found the yacht services store where we dropped off the laundry – it wouldn’t be back until Monday as tomorrow is Bastille day, a public holiday and of course nothing is open on Sunday. We enquired about the festivities and learnt that a dance festival was occurring that evening and the following evening but little else seemed to be planned for holiday. We found the place to deposit our trash and then began to walk towards the Gendarmerie to check in. We got half way there when we met some other yachties walking back down the hill; they told us that we would have to get our “bond” sorted out at the bank before seeing the Gendarmes and pointed us in the direction of the bank where we could get the bond sorted out. The bond issue is a little ridiculous – anyone with an EC passport doesn’t have to pay the bond, which meant that I didn’t have to but Gerry had to post bond equivalent to the airfare back to the country of his passport, it turned out to be AU$1286, around US $800! Thank goodness we only had to post bond for one of us; this bond is refundable when we leave the French Polynesian Islands, which will be from Bora Bora we think. To add insult to injury there is a bank fee of AU$38 for depositing this bond which is not refundable! Once we had gotten the bits of paper for the bond deposit we trudged back up the hill to the Gendarmerie to check in. The officer there was young, pleasant and very patient with our broken French and we soon had all the formalities completed. Back down the hill to the dock we went and we were dismayed to find that our dinghy had been raided whilst we were gone and our box of chain for the little dinghy stern anchor had been stolen. There was a piece of fishing line tied to the ring where we were tied up and I hauled this in, at the end of it was our chain container but no chain, Gerry was more than cross and threw the container onto the dock and then took off back out to the boat, by now it was 15.30hrs and we were tired again, the sleep pattern needs adjusting! We had been told that there was a happy hour at 16.30hs at Roses – where ever that was and everyone would see us there; it wasn’t a happening thing, we couldn’t be bothered to make the trek and just relaxed on the boat until dinner time. We went back ashore for dinner and as we tied up at the dock I noticed a chain under the water tap near to the dock – it was our chain complete with the shackle attached! Needless to say it was relocated to our dinghy, but the container had vanished, still it was better to have the chain than the container. We ate at the closest restaurant to the dock which was still a fair distance away; the food was good if a little expensive. Our waitress told us that the dancing began at 19.00hrs in the hall just along the road and as soon as we had finished eating we walked the short distance to the hall where the locals were gathering. A small fee applied to enter the hall and we bought a drink and sat waiting for the dancing to begin. True to Island culture it didn’t start on time, it was about ¾ hr late but we were thoroughly entertained by the dancers and their musical accompaniment. In all we probably had 2 hours worth of tradition
al dance and song and although we were tired and flagging badly we enjoyed it no end. We took several photos and video clips which really don’t do justice to the event but it was as good as we could manage in the hall. Once the dancing had finished we made our way back to the dock to find that the tide had gone out and it was now a 10 foot drop to the dinghy. There were several other people there trying to get into their dinghies too and in the end Gerry had to step through about 10 dinghies to get to ours and then he drove it around to the end of the trailer slip for me to get into it. We made it back to our boat in record time and were soon in bed catching up with the lost sleep.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday 12th July

Nuku Hiva
Marquesas


8 54.888 S
140 06.115 W

The day dawned to brilliant sun shine, we were now so close that we could almost smell the land, with luck we would arrive at the Marquesas either very late tonight or in the early hours of the 13th either way we would be arriving in the pitch black as the moon is in its first faze and doesn’t grace the sky until around 04.00hrs. By the time 10.00hrs came around, and the 3 week at sea mark was up, we had just 75 miles left to go, the excitement was building and we couldn’t wait to hit dry land. We ran the engine for an hour to keep the fridge cold, not that it did as good a job as the generator. As the day wore on there was a subtle shift in the wind direction, it was finally coming from the east and we had high hopes that it would shift even further and come around to the south east. With the change we were now running at 6.5 – 8 knots, roaring along in fact. Eventually the wind came around to east south east and the swell followed. We threw the jib across to the same side as the main and pole it out; now on a port tack we roared along reaching the nose bleed (and record) speed of 10.9 knots at one point. At 10.30 hrs we even had to put a reef in the main as the wind reached 19 knots and we didn’t want to damage anything before we got there. At 12.35hrs I was down below when the cry went out – LAND HO!
Sure enough in the distance we could just make out the outline of the first of the Marquesas Islands, Ua Huka; it was still 24 miles away but we were now so close! The wind and swell stayed with us and we were soon passing the island, around the same time that the radio schedule was due. We tried not to rub it in that we could see land but we had to let everyone know. The passage from Ua Huka to Nuku Hiva is about 30 miles – it was probably the longest 30 miles of the entire 3 weeks. We furled away the jib and dropped the main just outside the harbour entrance and motored in to the anchorage in the pitch black. There were lights everywhere to confuse us but we picked our way into a spot where we could see no other boats anchored and at 22.00hrs we dropped our anchor. We had arrived safely and were ready for a decent night sleep before checking in and dealing with the problems that we had to sort out.

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Wednesday 11th July

At Sea

8 22.044 S
137 36.684 W (at Midnight)

The first watch of the day, just after midnight brought with it some very black clouds and a sudden short down pour. The winds were confused by it and came from every direction except south east and we rolled and banged around for a while. The grib chart for today showed definite wind change to the south east – we can’t wait to see that! The radio schedule showed that everyone, with the exception of Timella who is 1500 miles behind the rest of us, had a similar sort of night and made very similar progress. If we continue to progress as we are doing we should arrive in the Marquesas in the early hours of Friday 13th, I hope we do as the biggest festival that the Islands holds is for Bastille Day which is on the 14th and we would like to be there for that. Y Not and JJ Moon will arrive probably a day after us unless they get some exceptional weather that we don’t get. Timella isn’t planning on stopping at the Marquesas, they intend to head straight for Fiji and plan on being at sea for 3 months – yes they are nuts! We discussed our course for the next 24hrs if the weather didn’t change – we would have to put in another tack to keep us heading in the right direction, we had our fingers crossed for the change to come through. We think we’ve finally got it worked out as to why there has been no south east wind; our explanation is as follows: - the grib info is produced in France in the Northern hemisphere where the south east wind obviously comes from the south east but we are currently in the Southern hemisphere where, as we all know, the water goes down the sink anti clockwise; it therefore follows that the south east wind must come out of the north – how’s that for fuzzy logic?! I know I’ve obviously been affected by the sun and too many days at sea! The good news was that as the morning wore on the wind did shift to just south of east, and we were able to head on our direct line to the Marquesas. It wasn’t as much of a shift as we would have liked but we gratefully took it anyway. As it was so close to not being south east we banged and flapped about when the swell rocked the boat too far to one way or the other but at least we were on the right track. The sun shone and the sea was fairly calm, we couldn’t have asked for more (except a bit more south to the wind!). We saw no dolphins, no whales and no ships despite having a clear uninterrupted 360 degree view of the horizon – where have they all hidden themselves? When it came time to run the generator Gerry started it up and seconds later it began to make a terrible noise, as if something was vibrating badly. A quick inspection with it running provided no clue as to the cause so we shut the thing down – it’s something else that we will have to look at when we arrive, in the meantime we are going to have to run the engine to keep the fridge cold and be even more careful than usual about how much power we are using – oh the joys of being reliant on a generator! We managed to have a meal that didn’t need the use of the microwave (uses too much power!) and then it was time to begin the night watches. We decided that as we had seen so few ships at night we would risk running without the navigation lights to save power and just used our garden stern light. Gerry saw one ship during one of his watches but it was 8 miles away from us and happily it was the only one all night.

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Tuesday 10th July

At Sea

7 43.325 S
135 29.117 W (at Midnight)

The early hours of the morning were quite painful, we rolled around making it difficult to sleep and to be honest we were both quite glad to see the sun rise. The radio schedule told a similar tale for the 2 boats that are closest to us, only Timella now 1400 miles away were having any better weather. Whilst Gerry was on the radio and I was hand steering the boat I saw a couple of small dolphins playing in our bow wake, they are the first ones that we have seen for days. We decided to bite the bullet this morning and change tack again, this would take us back on a southward course but would end up dropping us below our desired track meaning that we were going to have to tack a couple more times at least before we get to the Marquesas unless there is a massive wind direction change. With the wind coming from astern we goose winged the sails and proceeded to run in almost the right direction. Unfortunately the swell was coming from a totally different direction and we spent the day rolling from side to side and each sail in turn flapped and collapsed under the back pressure from the other sail during the roll – are we having fun yet?!!!! By mid afternoon Gerry had played with the sails until he was sick of it, the last resort was shaking out the reef in the main. Apart from watching the sails flap, reading our books and trying to catch a few zzzzz’s we did nothing all day. We are gradually compiling a list of things that we need to attend to when we get to the Marquesas and the latest thing to be added to the list is changing the joker valve in the forward head as the toilet keeps filling up with sea water that is leaking back through the valve. Having nearly sunk the boat when I changed it last I think it is definitely a job for Gerry, besides which it’s a toilet job – not a girl’s job! When it was time for dinner I used up the last pre cooked meal that I had prepared before leaving the Galapagos, it sure tasted good. We are just about at the end of most of our fresh provisions; there will be just enough to see us into the Marquesas where we will need to restock again. I guess I could get into using the canned stuff up and then we wouldn’t have to restock until we reach Australia! The only other thing of note for the day was that we passed into the next time zone but as yet haven’t turned our clocks back as none of the other boats have crossed the line yet. Our night watches followed the same pattern as the day – it was trying sailing, we were getting alone slowly and in not quite the right direction, we are just waiting for the weather forecast to be right and for the south easterly wind that they keep promising to eventuate.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Monday 9th July

At Sea
6 46.709 S
133 33.885 W (at Midnight)

Tired and cranky we welcomed the sunrise and hopefully a better wind direction for the day. The grib looked promising for later in the day as the wind was meant to move around and come at us from east south east. Yet again Y Not encountered fishing boats – they seem to like him! As the day broke the swell began to drop and by mid morning it was down to just a ripple on the water – perfect for catching up with some sleep. It was also very good for making water so we ran the water maker to top up and make up for the last couple of days when it has been almost impossible to put any water in the tank. I even had the patience to cook sausage and biscuits for breakfast. Whilst Gerry babysat George for the morning I cleaned the floors down below decks – I can’t imagine where all the dirt comes from, we are in the middle of nowhere but there was plenty of sand and dust to sweep up. Part of the clean up included consigning our toaster to the deep, it stopped working about 3 days ago and we gave it fair chance to rethink but it was adamant that it had done enough work so we are now without a toaster; good job I can use the oven to toast! I also did something rather stupid – I know it’s not like me! I thought I’d shake the mat over the side of the boat to get rid of the crumbs and dirt that had made a home there; you’ve guessed – it now resides in Neptune’s house. I was a little upset to say the least but figure the up side to it is that I’ll have to return to Jacksonville to replace it as I’m sure that I won’t be able to get a mat anywhere else in the world. After tidying up the interior I had a short sleep before preparing lunch which we enjoyed in the sun in the cockpit. The weather was being a bit kinder and we were heading in the right general direction at about 5.5 knots. The swell remained slight and we could see for miles – not that there was anything to see today, no whales, no dolphins and no other boats. Following lunch we ran the water maker again and then Gerry went for an afternoon sleep whilst I did the baby sitting, of course the wind began to veer whilst I watched and soon we were heading north of track again, (you may have noticed that our “S” heading at the top of the page goes up and down a bit) oh well we at least have some maneuverability in our track! The wind stayed in the same direction for the remaineder of the day, we were still heading west but now we were going North West instead of South West. When we spoke to the other guys on the radio schedule we were relieved to hear that they were faring no better. Dinner preparation had a small hiccough – the propane ran out and we had to change the bottles over, this meant Gerry had to climb over the back end on to the transom and swap them out, luckily we weren’t rolling around too much at the time and I soon had dinner cooking. We ate as the sun set, not that we could see it as it was again shrouded by clouds and then we began the night watches. At the first change of watch Gerry went below and I took over, shortly after I saw a very bright white light appear in the sky and then drop dead ahead of us, it was like a torch being shone straight at us from close range; I checked the radar – nothing came up, then Gerry reappeared – the banging was keeping him awake and I told him about the light, we wondered if it was a flare and kept a really close look out for the next couple of hours but nothing else was seen (or heard on the radio which we switched on especially). About 30 minutes later a huge black cloud came towards us; I began to close the curtains up and as I was doing so Gerry reappeared again, this time the increased speed had woken him! The decision to reef the main was made and we had it all nicely tucked away before the clouds got within 3 miles of us. As it happened all of the clouds (and there were more following the first one) passed us about 2 miles away, we didn’t even get a drop of water.

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Sunday 8th July

At Sea

6 55.814 S
131 25.771 W (at Midnight)

We glided along through the water with no problems except the occasional flapping and banging of the boom until 06.15hrs. I was on watch and we were suddenly hit by and enormous storm cell, the sky had turned black in every direction and it began to spit rain. I dropped the curtains and began to prepare for the down pour, as the first winds accompanying the storm hit us we were immediately being blown of course, I grabbed the wheel to hand steer and yelled for Gerry to come out on deck to help. As we had the sails goose winged and the jib out on the pole I could only turn the boat in a direction to keep the wind directly behind us which meant we were now going off at an angle of almost 180 degrees to where we wanted to go. Gerry arrived and quickly took control of the wheel whilst I furled the jib in, complete with pole. Once the jib was away we were able to turn back onto course though it meant we were headed directly into the storm. For the first time on this leg of the trip we encountered rain, it was fairly light but it continued for about an hour, pity we didn’t have a rain catcher! As soon as we were under control we checked the whisker pole out – it looked to have a bend in it but we wouldn’t be able to tell how badly it was bent until we could get out on deck and release it from the jib and the mast. The storm was quite a large one and stayed around us for a couple of hours, we eventually decided to change tack and follow the storm as the direction the wind was blowing it was better than the way we were going so after 2400 miles on a single port tack we made the change to a starboard tack. Eventually the storm went away from us and we were left following in its wake with fairly good winds but also quite turbulent water where the storm had whipped the sea up. Of course smack bang in the middle of the storm we had the radio schedule, Gerry couldn’t miss that as he has become the “weather man”, he gets the grib every day and reads the weather for the boats in each area. Y Not told us that they had experienced a close encounter with a fishing boat overnight – it came to within 500 meters of them – you would think with this entire ocean that they could stay well clear but obviously not! With the radio schedule over, breakfast eaten and storm dealt with we continued to move along under somewhat lumpy conditions, making reasonable speed but heading slightly north of our planned course. Our next “happening thing” was the sighting of a fishing boat; we suspected that Y Not had sent them on to give us some aggravation. The boat we saw was 2 miles away from us but we picked up a second one at the same time about 8 miles away. They must both have been going away from us as we didn’t see them for very long. Gerry suddenly said he thought he saw something bobbing in the water, I laughed at him as he is always “seeing” things but we both looked out and sure enough he had seen a float in the water because I almost immediately saw it off to our port side. Panic ensued, with the fishing boats nearby it could only mean one thing – nets in the water; we carefully avoided it, made sure it wasn’t tagging along with us and kept a look out for more floats – we saw none so assumed that it was one that had gotten away. The wind came at us for the rest of the day from the north east; we want to know where in the south east trade winds does NORTH come into it? By mid afternoon the sea had dropped down but the swell was coming from 2 directions; gradient swell from one way and wind driven swell from 90 degrees off making it quite rolly and uncomfortable. We unfurled the jib again to see if it would steady us up a bit; Gerry had to try and do a bit of straightening of the telescoping pole to achieve this – it was a partial success. We aren’t sure how much pressure the pole will withstand now but for the time being it was doing a good job of holding the jib out and we continued to move along for the rest of the day and into the night with the sails goose winged out, flapping and banging the boom whenever the wind dropped below 10 knots, which was about every 10 minutes – it was very frustrating and made it difficult to sleep when the time came. Our final bit of “spotting” for the day was the tell tale water spout of whales off of our starboard beam just as we were eating dinner at dusk, they were a way off and didn’t come our way but we could see them blowing very clearly against the pale blue / pink skyline. The night shifts were horrid, the flapping, banging and rolling prevented both of us from sleeping for more than an hour at a time. It just goes to show that you must take sleep whenever you can get it – who knows when you’ll get the next chance.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Saturday 7th July

At Sea

6 38.542 S
129 16.565 W (at Midnight)

It wasn’t until the very last watch that Gerry was finally able to identify the glow, which had turned into a light and then several lights; it was a tuna fishing boat, all the way out here! It came within 3 miles of us and then turned away again. At 05.30hrs the wind began to die on us and was now down to 5 knots, we were wallowing about and even unfurling the jib and taking the reef out of the main didn’t help much – it just meant that we flapped a great expanse of sail around. Sun rise, which is getting later due to the fact that we haven’t altered our clocks yet, was very similar to yesterday – a blood red sky to the East. I’m not particularly superstitious but I wondered if the wind was going to be our “problem of the day” or if I would be hauled out of bed again at night for a minor problem. The 07.00hrs radio schedule showed that all of us had experienced a similar night and we were all now in very light winds even though we are over 200 miles away from the nearest boat, Y Not. Our day was quite mundane, we made water (the water maker was no problem as we were just ghosting along in flat calm water), read our books and played “guess that tune”, at one point I jokingly suggested that it was time to play “I spy”, Gerry retorted with the fact that we have already “I spied” just about everything that there is around us – the boredom is definitely setting in! Just as I was preparing lunch Gerry yelled that there was a stationary boat on the horizon; it took us a while but eventually we got to within 3 miles of it – yet another fishing boat – 2 in one day must mean we are getting close to civilization. The day had progressed slowly and around 14.00hrs Gerry decided to try the spinnaker to see if that would move us along any faster. It went up after a bit of a struggle and a few bad words, but failed to improve our overall speed. We played with it for a while and finally got fed up with it collapsing and we had just decided to put it away and go back to the flapping main and jib when the red sky warning thing eventuated. To cut a long story short the spinnaker halyard broke and instantly the spinnaker was in the water. We had no other sails up so we were floundering around going nowhere. We rapidly hauled the wet sail on board accompanied by much cursing and swearing, started the motor, turned into wind and hoisted the main sail. Back on course we then tried to stuff the wet spinnaker into its bag – not so easy but we made it. Once it was packed away we returned to the cockpit to recover, have a drink and think ourselves lucky – we were safe; no injuries, the sail didn’t get wrapped around the rudder or prop and it happened in daylight with both of us on deck. Dale and Lorie we know you will appreciate the tale having been there yourselves. Hopefully this was to be our last misfortune for the day. We had dinner and began our night watches with the jib poled out to one side and the main out the other, goose winging it, this way we were moving through the water at about 5.5 knots which at least is forward progress.

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Friday 6th July

At Sea

6 16.642 S
127 04.889 W (at Midnight)

At sun rise the sky turned blood red in colour to the East; it was spectacular but as the saying goes “sailor’s warning”. We wondered what the warning would be for, hopefully nothing too untoward. Fish patrol around the boat netted us 2 flying fish. The radio schedule at 07.00hrs showed that we had experienced a better night sailing than Y Not and JJ Moon and we had extended our lead over them. Timella had finally got some wind and had also had a decent night, though they are now more than 1000 miles behind us. Our day was very ordinary, we did the usual things like make water, cook, take turns in watching over George and read in the cockpit when we weren’t actively doing “chores”. For the better part of the day we had constant wind and made 6.5 knots speed all day. Sun set, much like the sun rise was spectacular; the sky to the West turned crimson around the cloud line – “sailors delight” – we could only hope so! We began the night watches with me going to bed first as usual, only to be woken up by Gerry yelling to get on deck at 21.30hrs. I scrambled into my track suit and rushed up on deck to find out what the problem was. Gerry had been trying to furl the jib in as the wind had began to get a bit too much and had found it wouldn’t furl away – oh no, not the same problem again! The first thing Gerry did was go below to dig out the 1000 candle torch, within seconds of him going down below there was a torrent of foul language, it turned out that the torch wasn’t charged after the last time he used it (way back when!) so back out to the cockpit he came with 2 smaller torches and he attached himself to the harness and the jack line and went out forward to see if he could identify the problem. Once up in the bow he yelled a me to let the rest of the jib out and then moments later to try and furl it away, it went away with no problem thank goodness. When he returned to the cockpit he said that the spinnaker halyard which is attached to the bow just in front of the jib was a bit loose and had somehow managed to wrap itself around the jib preventing the jib from furling away; once the halyard was free of the jib and tightened up furling the jib away was easy. I was very glad it was something that simple, we’ve had enough problems with the forestay already for this trip. I was about to return to bed when we noticed a glow on the horizon, we speculated as to whether it was another vessel or possibly one of the Atlas weather buoys that are at various intervals along the route; either way we were going to be watching the glow and avoiding hitting whatever it was. I returned to bed and the night watches continued.

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Thursday 5th July

At Sea
6 00.427 S
124 37.361 W (at Midnight)

Yet again after a roaring night the wind died at sun rise and we began wallowing and rolling. The reef came out of the main in an attempt to up the speed, all it really achieved was greater flapping and banging when the pressure came off the sail. Y Not told us that they had had a couple of hours of light wind during the night – I guess their light wind found us this morning. We took turns in going to sleep and watching over George; during my turn to watch I played with the jib, furling it in and out, winching it on then cracking the sheets in an effort to get the thing to fly – what a waste of time! It took until 15.00hrs for the wind to finally come around enough to fill the sails and even then they would flap when the gusts dropped. No doubt you will be thinking how nice to have all that time to do whatever you want, it’s not quite that way as there are things that have to be done like running the water maker and generator to top up the batteries, preparing and cooking meals and trying to sleep whenever you can to make up for all that you have lost. I have found that there is never enough time to do anything other than read a couple of chapters of a book in the day time hours – so much for the idea of watching movies and doing some sewing! I mentioned a couple of days ago about the creaks and groans that the boat has developed on this trip, I failed to mention that both Gerry and I have developed some serious aches and pains, nothing that a nice Jacuzzi, massage and a stiff rummy thing won’t fix! We have put the aches and pains down to the constant bracing that we have to do to move around the boat, we even have to wedge ourselves into the bed and brace against the movement at night so there really is no letting up on the old muscles and joints. I have found the worse times are always when I’m in the galley cooking, the boat will lurch and I, along with the knives, pots, food and anything I haven’t tied down tend to go flying across the salon. I have some spectacular bruises to show for it! I am very careful about things like hot water, fat and the chopping knives – they are all potentially lethal when the boat is lurching but heck you should see the damage a flying potato can cause. Anyway we reached the 2 week mark at 10.00hrs this morning and I am glad to say that our trip meter shows we now have less than 1000 miles to go, hopefully just one more week at sea. Yet again we saw nothing today – all the dolphins have disappeared and the whales are conspicuous by their absence, talking to the other boats we have found that Timella and us are the only ones to have seen another boat since the 23rd June – that is just so incredible and just goes to show how immense the ocean is. Our day ended the same way as all the others for the last 2 weeks – dinner at sunset followed by night watches. The first watch is always Gerry’s and when I came out on deck after trying to sleep the wind was gusting up to 20 knots – pretty similar to the previous night. We put the reef in the main and furled away most of the jib and ran at 7+ knots all through the night without any problems.

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Wednesday 4th July

At Sea

5 43.030 S
121 59.568 W (at Midnight)

Happy Independence Day to all our American friends, enjoy the fireworks – we will be missing them!

After spending the night roaring along with wind gusts up to 22 knots it came as a bit of a shock at 05.30hrs when the wind died away to nothing and we were gently moving along at much slower speeds. Gerry shook the reef out of the main by 06.00hrs and we picked up a little speed. I haven’t mentioned fish patrol for a couple of days as we hadn’t found any on deck but today we found 2 flying fish, it would appear that we have gone away from the area where all the squid were as we haven’t had any of them land on the boat for days now. Whilst Gerry was out on deck shaking the reef out of the main a flying fish went hurtling past his chest, some of them really get quite high when they hit the right wave. The radio schedule at 07.00hrs told a similar story for 3 of us, only Timella had spent the night wallowing around doing 2 knots, they are now something like 800 miles behind us – theirs is going to be a very long, slow trip. Once the radio schedule was done Gerry took over babysitting George and I went back to bed to try and catch up on the night’s lost sleep. I had been in bed for less than 10 minutes when I heard Gerry yell in an excited voice, "Nick, Nick, there’s a ship out here".
It goes to say something of our frame of mind that we got excited about another ship; I got up to check he wasn’t hallucinating (after all we are talking about the man who tells me he sees lights on the horizon, the fishing line in the water trailing behind us and pigs flying overhead – none of which are possible but we do check carefully for the pig droppings on the boat in the morning – wouldn’t want to step in that!) Sure enough there was a container ship off our starboard bow 3 miles away heading north. Gerry was so excited he took a photo to prove he wasn’t going insane; he also thought that he should let Cameron on Timella know as the ship was heading his way but that could wait until the evening radio schedule as it was unlikely that the ship would get to where Timella is before then. I went back to bed and slept for an hour then it was time for breakfast and the routine stuff. We made water under sufferance, it really is a pain but what other option is there? Following lunch Gerry went to bed for the afternoon leaving me to watch over George, the wind for the day stayed consistently high and we raced along doing between 6.5 and 8 knots all day, it wasn’t the most comfortable ride but at least we were moving along! The other thing of note for the day was that we had passed into the next time zone though we haven’t put our clocks back yet as not all the boats are in the new time zone as yet. I decided to celebrate Independence Day with a good old fashioned meat loaf followed by apple pie, cooking it was an effort and a half as we were rolling around all over the place but cook it I did and we had a very enjoyable dinner watching the sun go down. I still haven’t managed to see the green flash, almost every night the sun goes down behind a wall of cloud, it doesn’t seem to make any difference that the sky has been cloudless and blue all day, as soon as it’s time for the sun to set the clouds appear on the horizon and stay with us until sun rise the next day. We did contemplate letting off a flare in lieu of fireworks but having seen the ship this morning we re thought the idea, the last thing we need is a search and rescue party coming out for us. Once dinner was over and done with it was time to try and sleep not that it was going to be easy, it was hard enough hanging on never mind sleeping. Just before Gerry went down for his first attempt to sleep we put the reef in the main as the wind speed was increasing and we were racing through the water at nose bleed speeds again for the second night in a row. I think that between us we probably managed a total of 4 hours sleep for the entire night, the plus side to that was that we had another good day as far as miles goes – we did 159 mile up until midnight which is pretty good going. Who needs sleep anyway?!

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tuesday 3rd July

At Sea
5 32.840 S
119 28.078 W (at Midnight)

Whilst the night continued to roar and we made good speed for most of the night, by the time dawn arrived the wind had dropped to 9 knots and the swell was hitting us almost side on – not very comfortable and we weren’t moving along very well. The radio schedule showed that we weren’t alone; no one seemed to be doing any better than us. We had breakfast and then decided to try poling the jib out on the opposite side to the main sail – effectively goose winging it. This worked for about 2 hours; Gerry had gone back to bed for a while and I was on watch when suddenly the pole jerked free of the sheet and that end clattered to the deck. I yelled for Gerry to come up on deck as we don’t go out on deck without the other person being in the cockpit for safety reasons. He decided to take the pole off all together and return to the tried and tested stay sail solution that I had suggested a couple of days ago. Once we were back in order we managed to move along at a steady 6.5 knots all day but we did roll around a bit. We managed to run the water maker twice though we probably only managed to put half the usual amount of water into the tank as the pressure dropped every time we rolled or the speed got up too high causing the sea water intake to fill with air rather than water, still every little bit counts! We saw nothing of note all day – 10 days now without signs of human life apart from us – it hardly seems possible. The sun at least came out today although it was still quite chilly unless you were directly in the sunlight. We have noticed that the boat is making a lot more groans and creaks since we left Panama, some of them we can’t even work out where they come from. Our steering has begun to make a thumping noise when the auto pilot stops and changes direction – something to be looked at when we get to the Marquesas I think. The hydraulic cylinder that we had resealed in Panama still has a leak, it’s no where near as bad as before but we have to top up the fluid in it periodically during the day, I guess the new one that we bought is going to have to be fitted after all. Once we began the night watches the weather picked up (for some unknown reason it always seems even worse than it really is at night – something to do with light perception), anyway we had roaring winds of 18 knots gusting up to 22 knots. The boat felt like it was on a collision course all the time even though we turned so that the wind was dead astern to try and keep us balanced and steady – it really didn’t work and it was similar to being on a roller coaster all night. We did of course manage to pack some serious miles away because of it, though it didn’t do much for our sleep deprivation.

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