Monthly Archives: December 2010

Last Chance at Civilization….

The past days have been very pleasant, indeed. We left Anaho Bay at midnight between the 23rd and 24th, hedging our bets that an early morning arrival at the popular anchorage of Taiohae would give us access to an open market. We wanted to find something a tad special for a Christmas meal – otherwise it would be pasta or rice again. We anchored at about 07.30 and went ashore soon thereafter. There were more than a dozen other boats in the anchorage. Our bets paid off and we found a good market and a very friendly little village in this, Nuku Hiva’s most densely ‘populated’ bay. Danny seemed to enjoy revisiting this, his first landfall in Polynesia after a long passage down from Mexico on “Leeway”, back in May. He even found free unrestricted internet to skype with family and his girlfriend. 🙂

On Christmas day, we pulled up the anchor again and headed west – about five miles down the rocky coast to another Bay, called Tai Oa. More specifically, we wanted to visit the eastern lobe of this double-lobe bay, also called Hakatea. In fact, many cruisers call this place Daniel’s Bay, after a friendly Marquesan who lives there. We never did meet him, but the bay is quite breathtaking – perhaps the loveliest after Virgin’s Bay in Fatu Hiva (that we visited in August after the passage from the Galapagos). The western slopes, quite steep and exquisitely carved by erosion, are quite reminiscent of Kauai, or perhaps some scene from “LOST”.

When we arrived, there were two other boats, catamarans, already anchored nearer to the head of the bay in shallower water. But not long after we arrived, more boats started arriving. I suppose everyone wanted to spend Christmas in this lovely spot! By the end of the day, three more boats arrived – two more cats and a monohull – and on the 26th another boat pulled in too. With 7 boats on their hooks, the little anchorage now felt almost crowded! On a curious note, one of the boats was a very distinct catamaran called “Post Scriptum”. The first thing one notices about this boat is the excellent quality airbrush painting that adorns the topsides of both amas, or hulls of the double-hulled boat. It’s unusual to see a boat painted like that. There are a number of specific scenes, including jumping dolphins, a palm clad beach in paradise and one that even sports a kind of puffin or penguin bird, harking to islands in higher latitudes. The painting appears to be very well done. Anyway, we had already seen this boat, more than a year before – in Tobago! They shared the anchorage with us in Pirate’s Bay, up on the northeast corner of that Caribbean island. When I went over to say hello in Taiohae, they said that they remembered our boat too – even though we don’t have any elaborate painting! – and went one further: they remembered our boat also from Salvador, Brazil, back in August and September of 2009! Small world this cruising world, that’s for sure.

Our Christmas feast consisted of a barbeque! What else, right? Still it’s one of the more special meals we can do on Walk On and so it fit – Christmas Barbeque in a lovely bay that might as well have been named after our crew member, Danny! We had pork ribs from the US and a a nice side of entre-cote from Uruguay. A few cold beers and a bottle of Bordeaux made it all feel that much more like a celebration. Phone calls with family made it all feel that much more special, and also that much more nostalgic! We really miss our families, and look forward anxiously to next year’s holidays – which we hope to spend together.

The day after Christmas was a complete ‘relax’ day for boat and crew. We did very little except read books! I read two in fact and started a third. I can’t remember the last time I read so much in one day. The first book I finished off was “Mr. China”, by Tim Clissold. This book had been lent to me back in Brazil by Michelle and James and for some reason I’d never picked it up. It’s a delightful read, detailing the true story of some entrepreneurs and a great deal Wall Street money invested in China in the 90’s. Their adventures and troubled climb up the steep and erratic learning curve of investing and doing business in China is a fascinating story. I’ll have to take this book back to James and thank him for it! The second was a book we picked up in a laundry room trade in Tahiti: “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” by Moshin Hamid. It’s a gripping fable, a thriller really, told entirely in the first person by a Pakistani – of his experiences as a young man, graduating from Princeton and working in the big apple for a top tier valuation firm. It’s an entertaining view of post-9/11 US attitude and policy and an inside tale of what that all might feel like for a foreigner in America, a foreigner with a beard and a face that place him somewhere in the middle east, but not necessarily with the Taliban… A quick and easy read, I can definitely recommend this one.

Also on the 26th we received a short visit from a French couple that live on their monohull in the Marquesas, full time. They gave us a bunch of information about the bay, including the news that the famous waterfall was dry. This was disappointing, as we’d planed to make the 2 hour hike up into the valley to see it. So it was with a bit less urgency that we went ashore on the 27th to check out the beach in front of Daniel’s house. He didn’t seem to be home, but some other yachties came ashore to wash clothes and burn some trash. There is a fresh water hose under a tree in the middle of a large grassy area where Daniel keeps a number of cows. We decided that we’d rather go back to Anaho Bay to water-up before the passage – the access to fresh water is easier and we really liked that bay anyway.

For lunch on the 27th, we had the rest of the Uruguay meat, which we did in the Le Creuset enameled pot, together with rosemary and diced potatoes. This is a favorite recipe of ours that reminds us of Brazil – my mother-in-law does it really well. Anyway, just after lunch and we raised anchor again. The beat back against the swell and trades to Taiohae was easy enough and by 15.30 we were anchored again amongst the fleet. Ashore we visited the two markets to do some comparison shopping.
Taiohae will be our last ‘taste’ of civilization for a while. We plan to provision here for the next leg, to Hawaii. Provisioning will take up most of the day with several trips to the market and right now Lara is finalizing the list (as we finish our pancakes :-)). From Taiohae, we plan to head back to the north side of the island tomorrow and return to the lovely Anaho Bay. We’ll spend probably two if not three nights there, including New Year’s Eve. We need to water up and so Danny and I will be ferrying water back and forth in the dinghy – with the bottles we have, I figure somewhere between 8 and 10 trips! Hopefully the Mantas will be back in the bay again, as we’ve vowed to try and snorkel with them. Then…offshore again and… Hawaii!!! From Anaho, it’s about 1900 miles. It may sound far but after our 3100+ mile passage from the Galapagos, somehow it doesn’t sound that bad to us. Typically, this would be around two weeks aboard Walk On. We will start out by sailing almost straight north for 900 to 1100 miles. However, once we cross the equator and head through the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone), the winds can get fluky and so boatspeed suffers. From the ITCZ the plan is to fall off westward and the last 800 miles or so of the passage will be slightly west of north, maybe 345 or 350 degrees. Our planned landfall is Hilo, on the Big Island. Somewhere along the way, SPOT coverage should improve and so hopefully you’ll be able to follow along if that’s your kind of thing. Anyway, time to go shopping, so I’ll wrap this up and try to publish some pictures once ashore. Hope you’re having a good ‘holiday week’ between Christmas and New Years!

Some photos from the passage Moorea>>Rangiroa, from Rangiroa, from teh passage Rangiroa>>>Nuku Hiva, and then some of the anchorages in Nuku Hiva. Enjoy!

the fish we caught somewhere between Moorea and Rangiroa.  We don’t know what it was, but it was yummy!  Anyone know?

Our view at the anchorage in Rangiroa.  Not bad eh?

Bungalow-type hotel going up onshore, just off the anchorage.

Before heading out on passage, Danny checks the weather bible to see what’s what… help interpret the clouds and all that.

Larissa making soup.  🙂  Soup & Bikini picture – unusual to say the least.

Lara and Danny on the little Motu by the anchorage in Rangiroa – we think it’s called Nohi Nohi.

Another view from the Motu, this one looking north and out of the pass towards the open Pacific Ocean.

Yet another view from the Motu.

Doing some mainsail repair… part of a sailor’s life.

Prettiest sailmaker around!

Lara and Danny in the Church courtyard on Rangiroa… sinners with a beer!

Lara has been into sewing lately… .here she sews a pillowcase while on the windward passage to Nuku Hiva.

Danny & Lara during the passage.

The church in the village of Hetiheu, our first anchorage in Nuku Hiva after the long upwind slog.

Panorama from the village road…

Tikis by the beach, and Walk On in the background, resting at anchor…

Another panorama in Hetiheu Bay…

Danny plays taxi man, with enthusiasm!

Hetiheu anchorage.

From the bow, Lara and Danny try for a better look at the Manta Rays visiting in Anaho Bay.

Not satisfied, Lara jumps in Danny’s Kayak and tries to get a closer look at the Mantas….

The camera never did really capture them, but Lara got a close up look at the three graceful Mantas

Moonrise in Anaho Bay.

The anchorage at lovely Anaho Bay, as seen from the trail above.

Quite breathtaking really, and not just because of the steep trail getting up there…

Nice, don’t ya think?  The other boat was owned by a very kind, well-travelled French couple.

This a view inside Daniel’s Bay, the day after Christmas.

🙂

Looking east, up into Daniel’s Bay.

Looking west across the anchorage, from Daniel’s Beach, so to speak.

Danny’s Beach…

Some crabs… that didn’t make it.  Found these dead land crabs near the end of the beach.

I think this must be Daniel’s house… as it’s the only one in the bay.  But he wasn’t home…

Parting shot – this the other lobe of the bay, to the left, or west of Daniel’s Bay.  The ‘scar’ up on the mountain is from the dry waterfall.

That’s it for now.  Next photos from Hawaii….

Ciao

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Merry Christmas!

Just a quickie to wish everyone, friends and family, a very special Christmas Day!

We will be heading over to Daniel’s Bay in a little while, to make a special Christmas meal & enjoy the scenery.

Whereever you are, and whomever you are with, we wish you the best and a big fat MERRY CHRISTMAS from US!

MM, Larissa & Danny

View inside Daniel’s Bay, on the hike to the waterfall.   This is NOT my photo, but we do plan to hike there tomorrow… looking for Christmas trees.  🙂



Bay Jumping

As planned, we raised anchor yesterday just before noon and sailed out of Atiheu Bay, one mile east, and then turned right again, sailing another mile or so back into the lovely Anaho Bay. Quite simply, it’s a feast for the eyes: cliffs, peaks and mountains surround the Bay and a long golden beach lines the south and west corner – with countless palm trees of course. It’s quiet, and very comfortable. The layout of this long, deep bay makes it calm, but a cut in the mountainside to the east allows the trades to blow through, guaranteeing good ventilation on board and lots of spinning and energy-creating by Charley (If I never mentioned it, Charley is the name for our AeroGen wind generator. As long as the wind blows, Charley quietly make free, green, energy, putting it dutifully and constantly into our battery bank. Thanks Charley!). Some of the guides will tell you that this is likely to be the least rolly anchorage in all of the Marquesas, and we are certainly thankful for that. It’s also a place that doesn’t get a lot of yachtie traffic, especially now that it’s off season. There is one other boat anchored here, a French flagged steel sloop, but other than that, we have the place to ourselves.

Ok, not entirely to ourselves… In the afternoon, we were taking in a movie and enjoying the calm conditions, still eager to relax and shake off the adrenaline and discomfort of the long-ish windward passage we made from the Tuamotus. The movie choice was “The Perfect Storm”, as Lara had just finished reading Sebastain Junger’s excellent book. Somewhere in the middle, I got up and went to the bow, just to check the anchor situation, and see that the snubber line was ok. It’s a habit you get into after arriving in a new anchorage. Anyway, after I realized the anchor was fine, I almost turned to back to the film when I saw something in the water…. There were three large somethings swimming near the surface, breaking the surface occasionally with black tipped pointy appendages. Sharks? Nope. Manta Rays! Three of them. They were swimming off the bow of the boat, not 20 yards away, taking their time roving back and forth to my left and my right. I couldn’t believe it. I’d never seen Mantas like that, swimming at the top of the water, mouths open, apparently having a feast of krill or some other tiny waterborne creature that is their diet. And they are HUGE. I would have to guess that they were about 10 feet across. I called to Lara and Danny and we spent the better part of an hour huddled up at the bow – just watching them swim back and forth, eating (or sunbathing?), in no big hurry and certainly not shy about our ‘oohs, ahhs, and Man, look how big they are!’. Lara had to have more and so we put Danny’s Kayak in the water, she grabbed her mask and snorkel, and paddled over to where the Mantas were. Danny and I grabbed our cameras. But my Baby Cakes apparently got too close her own comfort – when se saw just how large they were, she decided she wouldn’t swim with them after all. If we see them again today, I’m definitely getting out the snorkel gear and diving with them. Such size and grace. Wow.

Topping off the end of this luxurious day was a spectacular moon-rise over the jagged ridges to the east. The moon is full now, or seems to be, and the bay bathed in Marquesan moonlight was too much, too relaxing… I went to bed early. 🙂

Today we’ll likely go ashore for some exploring and we’ll also get started on our small list of to-do’s, including some more mainsail repair on the batten pockets… More news when we’ve got it. Oh, and there is no internet here either, so the pics will have to wait. Sorry gang.

MM


Landfall!!! Windward passage? Done. Check it off the list, thank you very much.

101220 – From Hatiheu Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

The last 48 hours have been a bit of blur. Saturday morning found us on the same starboard tack – the one we’d been on since Wednesday morning – with a handful of miles to go. The proverbial ‘handful’ can mean many things it’s true, but what I mean to say is that we didn’t have all that far to go in relative terms. Still, it wasn’t clear whether we’d make it to Ua Po (one island) or Nuku Hiva (another island, further north, but also closer to our current heading) before sunset. The trade winds increased throughout the day and we continued on with the mainsail twice reefed, the staysail sheeted home tightly, and about a quarter of the genoa unfurled. Walk On sailed only quite well in the breezy and bumpy conditions, and she seemed balanced as she surged along at 5 knots. Balancing the sailplan to the conditions is important, one the one hand for comfort, and on the other for the overall performance of the boat – when she’s well balanced, the autopilot, Alfred, has to work less. That’s a good thing. Get off balance (too much sail, or the sails sheeted home too tightly) and Alfred has to work a lot, eating up lots of energy.

Anyway, by about noon we were 35 miles or so east of the two islands, in the slot to speak, the stretch of E-W waterway that separates them. And we were just east, by 12 miles or so, of a large bank (a ‘shallow’ relative to the rest of the area) whose depth came up to about 50 meters. That’s very shallow compared to the 3 and 4 thousand meter depth in the rest of the region. It’s not an underwater topographical lesson I’m getting at – what I mean to illustrate is simply that a shallow, in an area that already has a strong current running through it and reinforced trade winds blowing over the top of it, becomes extra lumpy – bigger seas and less regular wave patterns. But we plunged forward to the NE, Alfred doing a fine job of keeping us on course, even when waves larger than 3 meters tried to shove us off to the NW. Occasionally we’d take a splash or two in the cockpit, or the remnants of a wave would actually make it up over the deck saloon (the roof!) and spill into the cockpit aft.

It was just about this time, off the bank (Marchand Bank, I think it’s called), that a juicy squall came through, bringing 39 and 40 knots of wind with it. Danny loosed the sheets and I hand steered a course north and a tad west to ‘run’ with the squall. We were running along at 8 and 9 knots boatspeed. Exhilirating to be sure, but it didn’t last. Say 20 minutes? The strong winds quickly blew themselves out and soon the rain faded away to nothing. But the squall brought about a welcome change, a surprise really.
A wind shift! We’d been hoping for this for days and now that we were close to our destination, it finally started to happen. The trades continued at 22 to 25 knots, but the direction clocked further south – now we had SE trades rather than full E trades. This meant we could sail almost directly east, making our final stretch a bit shorter than it might have been. It was a good thing too – as we sighted land at about 15.00. It was Nuku Hiva and we were happy to see her rise up on the horizon.

To stick to our original plan – the island of Ua Po – we’d have to continue right up the lee shore of Nuku Hiva, then tack south/southeast and beat away through the night the final 25 miles or so down to Ua Po. We decided that we’d been beating to windward long enough and so we started to study anchorages on the island of Nuku Hiva. Why prolong the discomfort?

By sunset, we were still about 15 miles west of the island and so had no chance of making a daylight arrival in a new and unknown anchorage. The temptation of course, and sometimes a very strong one, is to say ‘the hell with it’ and make land when and where you can. This is typical, when you’re tired and looking forward to getting the hook down. But this is also a nearsighted mistake and a no-no on our boat. Too many are the tales I’ve read about tired sailors pulling in at night to an unfamiliar anchorage and running aground, damaging their boat severely or even sinking. Sailing is about patience if nothing else, and so we opted to ‘stand off’ for the night, slowing the boat down and biding our time until first light the next day.

By dawn on Sunday we were off the north coast of Nuku Hiva, near our chosen anchorage in a large open bay called Hatiheu. There is a small village there on the shore and we could see some lights in an otherwise dark morning horizon – the island isn’t densely populated and so mostly it’s a giant volcanic island, quiet, dark and foreboding when seen from sea, with many peaks and rugged terrain slightly reminiscent of the Hawaiian island, though perhaps not as green.

We wouldn’t be alone in the bay. The M/V Aranuii 3 had pulled in and anchored about an hour before we did. The Aranuii is a large supply/cruise ship hybrid that is the main connection between the Marquesas and the Society islands. She looks like a cargo ship, and is about 325 feet long, if memory serves (AIS tells us exactly how big ships are). I believe it used to be that the Aranuii (including predecessors one and two) were the ships that picked up the copra crop (made from coconuts) and took them to market in Tahiti. Apparently, copra is no longer a viable source of income for the Marquesas and so now the Aranuii is largely a supply ship to islanders, bringing all sorts of essentials to the remote bays and villages. It also functions as a bit of a cruise ship. Perhaps not as luxurious as the Princess cruise ships that ply the waters of Tahit, Moorea and Bora Bora, but still a way for tourists to visit the Marquesas without actually sailing here (the best option!) or flying in from Tahiti. I think it’s the only cruise ship option in fact.

At about 06.00, we anchored in the gusty, rocky bay at 08.49.54S and 140.05.07W. With the hook down in 12 meters of water, we took in the welcome sights of a pacific island at dawn, and started to clean up the boat just a bit. Fatigue and lack of adrenaline kicked in pretty fast so crashed for a power nap before 07.00! Ahh, the relief of arrival.
From hook up in Rangiroa to hook down in Nuku Hiva, the windward passage had taken just under a week (we left Rangiroa last Sunday, just before noon). In a straight line, the journey was something like 570 nautical miles. In fact, we probably sailed something like 750 miles. I didn’t measure our track exactly on the plotter, but our daily runs were something like 100 to 110 miles, which is an average of about 4.5 knots. Not too shabby for a steel cruising boat, deck saloon and all, going to windward against reinforced trade winds and with a very conservative sailplan. Thanks David, your design served us well again. I’m so very glad that we decided to go with a cutter rig (same as common sloop, more or less, but with the second headsail, or staysail, between the genoa and the mast). The degree of flexibility and sail options for more or less sail area are really something special. If you’re going to go offshore in a monohull sailboat, my suggestion would be ‘get a cutter’, right after ‘get a steel boat!’.

We went ashore later in the morning, taking turns. There’s no place to actually land and tie up the dinghy so we alternated getting and giving rides over to the concrete quay with the dinghy. The taxi person would then wait back on Walk On with the VHF radio on. When the shore visitor wanted off the rock and back on the boat, they just called up on the portable VHF. I always get a kick out of Larissa saying “Walk On, Walk On, this is Walk On Mobile, over” on the radio.

The village is fairly simple, but with an attractive church, some very nice people, a slow relaxed vibe to it all, and everything under the watchful eye of a surprising number of carved tikis. I got a few photos but won’t be able to post them yet (no internet access here). Anyway, we got a few essentials (beer, chocolate!) and settled in for an afternoon of relax, huge plates of steaming pasta, a bit of movie-watching on the laptops, and then a very welcome, very deep sleep.

Now it’s Monday morning and I’m up to my usual. Having coffee and writing a bit of blog post. But what I’m thinking at the moment is ‘we need to get the hell outta here!’. The bay is pretty enough, don’t get me wrong, and I do want to just sit quietly at anchor for a while longer – but the bay is rolly – too rolly. With the boat rocking back and forth, constantly, you never really feel totally relaxed. So when the crew get up, we’ll pick up the anchor and head over to the next bay – more on that after we get over there.

Hard to believe it’s Christmas week. I can only imagine the scenes Christmas trees and lights and crowded shopping malls and wrapping paper and traffic and Burl Ives tunes and Frosty on the tele (do they still show those classic Christmas movies? I miss them!) and lots and lots of food. What I imagine most however is family, and how nice it would be for us to have Christmas together. I know Larissa misses her family and I’m sure Danny does too. But this year it will just be the three of us. It will be special exactly because of that! Next year? Phoenix, Simi Valley, Rio, who knows….

More to come
MM


101218 – ‘It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled….’

Well, I suppose I ought to say that it’s been a long time since I rocked and rolled and bucked and bashed to windward like this. We’ve simply gotten out of practice of going to weather – we’re cushy cruising sailors, right? However, if you took those opening stanzas of music from the classic Zeppelin tune, cranked it up plenty loud, and synched it in a certain way with video of Walk On bashing east in these waves towards the Marquesas, and I bet you could make some pretty cool music video out of it all. Other songs come to mind, all in similar veins: “Thunderstruck” and “For those about to Rock”, both by AC/DC, “Crash” by DMB, “Jungleland” by Bruce, “Wild Night” by Van Morrison, “Fisherman’s Blues” by The Waterboys, and so many others – some for the music, some for the lyrics, some for simply the title. I’m just trying to put a creative spin on the situation – hell, it’s one a.m., the boat is heeled and bucking, I’m sitting on the floor in the dark, Danny’s snoozin’ on the saloon sofa/bed, Lara’s snoozin’ in the aft cabin, and I can’t hang out in the cockpit because it’s blowing 25 knots on the nose, and the 2.5 meters seas we’re plunging through and crashing up against are leaving a good amount of spray and flying saltwater to soak anyone or anything foolish enough to be hanging around in the cockpit. And I’ve got three more hours on watch. Might as well write for the blog, right?

The reality of it all is that we’re something like 75 miles away from Ua Po – from a waypoint off Ua Po that we’ve got on the plotter. But we need to be making progress towards that waypoint at something like 65 degrees from where we are at the moment (west and a tad south of the goal). Pity that even close-hauled, the best progress we can make is something like 20 degrees – the trades are pumping (blowing hard) and the current across the bow at a perpendicular angle is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 knots. Talk about having it stacked up against you! This means that while we need mostly to go east, we’re mostly going north, actually. Eventually, like sometime tomorrow late morning, we’ll have to tack and head back SSE… Inching our way east if you will. And so it goes.

And to think, we’ve been lucky! After that cat snuck away from Rangiroa last week and had us looking closely at the weather, we knew we were being given a chance, a fortunate if short break in the weather. I don’t even remember now, as the days have smudged a bit together on this bumpy passage, but for something like 36 to 48 hours, we were able to really make serious easting when the weather disrupted the usual flow of the trades and resulting west-setting current. Had we not been so lucky with a weather window, we might not have 75 miles to go, but more like 250 or 300 to go. I’m not surprised now about the accounts I’ve read of boats leaving the Tuamotus for the Marquesas on this very same stretch, only to turn back after making scant progress in 5 days of beating to weather.

‘Nuff complaining. What you really should see are the waves. Wow. Big rollers some more than 3 meters easy, maybe 4. Most of the time our blue lady lifts up and over with little effort, her sails helping not only to make way but also to balance her and give us a decent ride. But there are other moments, when time, place and direction all seem to be out of whack just enough in that split second that we really crash into one. A tremendous ‘boom’ shakes the whole boat, and we take some heavy duty splash action head on, as well as many many gallons of seawater on deck. I can tell you where all the leaks are now… Especially the ones that don’t show up with rain. Funny though how waves look somehow better by moonlight, and there is a nice moon going on tonight, wouldn’t you say?

And the fishing, you ask? Hmmmm, a mixed bag. This morning we pulled in a fish on the handline. It was a tuna – good size, probably 25 pounds, maybe 35. Not sure weather it was a yellowfin or a bigeye. I wanted it to be a yellowfin as I’ve never caught one and I know they are super yummy. However, the little ID Chart that we have and flashes of the fish in my mind’s eye tell me it was likely a bigeye. We’ll never really know, as he spit the hook right in our faces, exactly at the moment we were pulling him up, by the leader wire, into the scoop of the aft ‘swim platform’. It’s an awkward maneuver at best, with the dinghy there and all, but in rolling seas and with a flopping fish it can be downright difficult. This time, he won and we got our lure back. I know, I know, they make things like gaff hooks and even nets for these kinds of situations… Later in the day, another fish… This time a beauty, though I don’t know whether it was from the marlin family or the sailfish family. It was long and thin, probably between 4 and 5 feet, and it was very pretty indeed. I dare say it even looked elegant. Wish my Uncle Paul was here to see these things – he would certainly know what it was we had on the line. It was similar to the one we caught the other day, just longer and heftier. Not sure if it was good eating or not, but as I was in doubt, I preferred to catch & release. We are into keeping what we can definitely eat, especially if we know it’s yummy – and I’m not into keeping something just for a picture or a personal size record, especially if I don’t know whether we’ll eat him afterwards or not. Oh well, that’s the way it went today. Perhaps tomorrow, closer to the islands, we’ll have some good luck and pick up a mahi mahi or wahoo.

– – – – –
Thanks to family and friends for the email. We look forward to the correspondence and are having a good time with it – whether it’s anchorage suggestions in Fatu Hiva, or descriptions of present-wrapping and travel plans for the Holiday season – we love hearing from you. (That goes for Danny too!). – – – – –

“Some easting, some easting, my kingdom from some (70 nautical miles of) easting!”

More soon. Time to make some more joe & check out the stars. M


Noon-sight (Thursday) & Dawn News (Friday)… so close, yet still so far

Our noon sight on Thursday, 16 December:
22.00 UTC (Zulu), Noon by Tahiti Time
Position / Posicao: 11.45.22 S (sul), 142.37.55 W (oeste)
Course / Rumo (COG): 35 degrees magnetic (35 graus magneticos) Speed / Velocidade (SOG, GPS): averaging 4.0 to 4.5 knots (nos)
Wind: Light trades continued on through Thursday, slowly gathering strength (expect to have them back on Friday, full pumping force)
Swell: We still have some large underlying swell, but with the wind-chop on top. Current still set against us at 1 to 1.5 knots.
Temp: Temperature is good – in the mid to high 80’s mostly, though the weather continues unsettled. Water temp: 31 C
Barometric Pressure (BP): 1011 mb

– – – – – – –

Short & sweet for the moment gang:
Thursday and Friday have been continuations of Wednesday, just less comfortable, especially now on Friday… we continue on the same starboard tack, same progress of 20 to 30 degrees magnetic (NNE). We’ve got 129 NM to go to Ua Po (Marquesas), but the trades have really filled in overnight and so we’re back at battle: 22-25 knots breeze on the nose, plus 1.5 knots current across and against the nose, if you know what I mean. Slow going.

We’d love to make the anchorage tomorrow – but I can’t place my bets yet. We’ll need either a wind shift a bit south of east, in which case our current heading will improve and we might make it the rest of the way without tacking…. or, if the wind would be so kind as to shift north of east, we could tack and make progress that way too. We’re flexible. Unfortunately, the forecast is for simple EASTERLY trades – so we’ll be fighting it all the way there. I have to keep telling myself that all of this is to make the passage to Hawaii easier (less beating once we cross the equator). It had better be!

We’re all fine gang, if not exactly super-comfortable. But we’re fine. Looking forward to the next landfall, Ua Po (or Nuku Hiva, if it turns out to be easier). Ciao for now – more later today.

MM


Noonsite – Wednesday 15 December – somewhere in the middle….

22.00 UTC (Zulu), Noon by Tahiti Time
Position / Posicao: 13.01.80 S (sul), 143.37.20 W (oeste)
Course / Rumo (COG): 35 degrees magnetic (35 graus magneticos) Speed / Velocidade (SOG, GPS): averaging 5.0 to 5.5 knots (nos)
Wind: overnight a bit of a light trade wind filled in, mostly E and at about 12-15kts. Perfect. We turned off the iron genny (Yanmar) and have been sailing since, this time with reefed main and fully genoa.
Swell: We still have some large underlying swell, but with the wind-chop on top. Current still set against us at 1 to 1.5 knots.
Temp: Temperature is good – in the mid to high 80’s mostly, though the weather continues unsettled. Water temp: 31 C
Barometric Pressure (BP): 1011 mb

– – – – – – –

Today has been a good sailing day. Not a great fishing day, but a great sailing day. 🙂 We were on the port tack, making more east than south, when the wind started to shift a bit further to the east – thus forcing us further south. 😦 So we tacked and have been the the starboard tack for about as long as I can remember. 🙂 We made 5 to 5.5 knots all day long (course over ground) and have been pleased with the progress. We could put up more sail and search for an extra half knot to a knot of speed – but then the ‘comfort’ level takes a nose dive and the admiral is not all that happy. So, as Danny and I have been saying: Just immediately after SAFETY, the COMFORT and WELL BEING of the Admiral is absolutely the number one priority. We’ll take a tad slower if she’s happier. 🙂

The lines have been in the water since before dawn. Now that it’s sunset (I’m posting several hours after noon – sorry!), I’m wondering what’s what. Not even a HINT of action on the ol lines today.

That’s about it. That and guessing when we’ll make the Marquesas…

More soon, or tomorrow at least.
MM, Lara & Danny


Noonsite – “and on the midnight watch I realized….”

.. that I hadn’t posted the 14 December noonsite. So, here after midnight on the 15th, is a bit of recap from the 14th, including our noon position yesterday etc. There’s not a whole lot going on really. Overnight the moon was absent, but the skies clear enough for me to enjoy at least a dozen shooting stars. The wind continued light so we continued to motor sail, our focus and intent on getting east east east while mother nature gives us a break. At around noon a breeze of about 10 knots filled in and so we gave the Yanmar (still nameless!) a break, sailing quite well under reefed main, full genoa and full staysail – bouncing along to windward at 5 to 6 knots. This went on until after sunset, when things started to get light again. We furled the jib, turned the Yanmar back on and headed close to the wind – intent once again on east east east (ok, with a tad of north for good measure).

I gotta say though, more than anything else, more important than this post, our position or whatever the heck the squalls may or may not be doing tonight, my mind and thoughts for the last 24 hours have been focused on a true friend, a one and only, a guy who should have been celebrating his birthday yesterday, the 14th. Miss you CMJ, like you can’t believe. Happy BDay brother.
– – – —

22.00 UTC (Zulu), Noon by Tahiti Time
Position / Posicao: 13.03.80 S (sul), 145.05.56 W (oeste)
Course / Rumo (COG): 65 degrees magnetic (65 graus magneticos) Speed / Velocidade (SOG, GPS): averaging 4.0 to 4.5 knots (nos)
Wind: continued light, if varied, E and then NNE, @ about 8 kts. Squalls less frequent and now a bit less violent, but much larger, slower, and wetter. Good for free showers. 🙂
Swell: with decreased wind, decreased swell and waves. 🙂 the current is still there, but weaker (apparently).
Temp: Temperature is good – in the mid to high 80’s mostly, though the weather continues unsettled. This is fine, it’s just taking a break for a day or two until the trades start pumping from the East again, in about another 36 to 48 hours (hope we’ve got enough easting by then to make the trip north to Ua Po a reach!) Water temp: 31 C
Barometric Pressure (BP): 1011 mb


Noonsite – Monday 13 December – motor sailing at midnight

22.00 UTC (Zulu), Noon by Tahiti Time
Position / Posicao: 13.32.79 S (sul), 146.39.53 W (oeste)
Course / Rumo (COG): 85 degrees magnetic (85 graus magneticos) Speed / Velocidade (SOG, GPS): averaging 4.0 to 4.5 knots (nos)
Wind: E, backing slowly to NNE, @ about 8 kts. very light. squalls almost down to zero.
Swell: with decreased wind, decreased swell and waves. 🙂 the current is still there, but weaker (apparently).
Temp: Today the changing weather has been pretty obvious – trades dying out, disrupted by other forces, Highs and Lows, in the greater area – all sorts of cloud patterns not normally seen with trade wind conditions – a nice change! Water temp: 31.2 C
Barometric Pressure (BP): 1009 mb (slight drop today)

– – – —
So, here’s the ol noonsite post, posted after midnight! Sorry about that. We were busy today, doing a great deal of not too much. Overnight the weather started to change and by mid-morning the trades had started to die out. We turned the Yanmar back on and started to make more easting in earnest. We’ve been motorsailing all day long, with the main in the second reef and with the staysail open. No use in opening the genoa, as we’re quite close to the wind, closer than that sail like to set when going to weather. It’s not super fast progress, as you might see if SPOT is actually working (is it?), but we’re comfortable and we’re in economical mode on the diesel – so we’re just happy to be headed EAST. I guess we’ve got about 400+ miles to Ua Po, our planned landfall.

The highlights today have been: fresh homemade bread, and I have to say that Lara has outdone herself this time! The best loaves to come from our oven yet! It was so yummy, and the anticipation so great that the three of us devoured the first loaf, with butter of course, in a matter of mintues – faster than you could reef your mainsail with a squall coming on! Oh, and we took advantage of the engine being on (charging power) to actually drop the TV down and watch a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Danny had never seen Ridley Scott’s ‘Thelma & Louise’, which I believe is brilliant, and so we enjoyed that. The only other event of the day really was seeing two ships, one large fishing vessel, apparently Chinese, and one smaller, trawler-like boat that crossed our bow not two miles off after converging on our course for hours. It was a coincidence. Oh, and I fixed the loose wire conduit inside the mast – again. The prior temporary fix, done together with Tim (Friendship) in Fatu Hiva – back in August – had broken overnight and so we’d suffered quite a number of hours with that damn alu pipe banging around inside the mast. Certainly one of the boat noises I least enjoy. Anyway, it reminded me of Tim and the goodship Friendship, and I wished I could find the coat hanger he gave me on that occasion – it would have made the task at the mast easier today! Can you believe we don’t have a single wire coat hanger????? Oh well – the permanent fix job on that can only be done when we eventually take the mast out of the boat for this or that reason. That might not happen for a very long while yet.

I promised some fishing news. We’ll, here’s a summary. On the day we sailed out of Moorea – last Monday I do believe – I made up a new homemade lure. Nothing ‘new’ in terms of colors or style or whatever, just a fresh lure, similar to the ones we’ve been making these last months… copies of the lures that Niklas makes on Espumeru. I use a treble hook, fairly large, and then decorate it with colorful plastic wrappers, usually from things like Oreo cookies and such. I prefer the blues, silvers and pinks, as the fish seem to as well. Anyway, you do your best to tie a mop of this stuff on near the eye of the hook, arrange your streamers of Oreo and other wrapper like a Tahitian grass skirt around the treble, and then tie the whole thing up with a heavy duty stainless steel wire leader – right now I’ve been using some strong stuff, like 275 pound test. Tie all that off to a swivel on a heavy-test handline and trail it from the boat… here’s what you get:

– Monday afternoon, when pulling the line in, we found there was a rather large gill plate/jaw attached to the hook, and the heavy leader wire was bent through a curving arc of about 90 degrees. This gill plate was more than 8 inches long, and so we guessed it had been ripped from the mouth of a pretty good size mahi mahi (judging from the shape). Essentially, the guy sacrificied part of his jaw/gills to get loose, and in the quick sail upwind, beating, we never even noticed the action in the water. Lara and I had already had this experience before. Oh well, first lost fish.

– Tuesday, late morning. Fish On! This time something long and skinny. When we finally got it to the boat, it appeared to be a juvenile sailfish or some other billed gamefish. It was difficult to say, as we don’t see many of those anyway. One reference we have, with drawings, suggests that perhaps it was a longbill spearfish, or a white marlin. And it was pretty, very shiny and brilliant. But it was unmistakably a young one, even it if was about 4 feet long, and so I decided we should release it and let him go to grow and fight another day. I think Danny was disappointed about that, or even miffed, but he hid his disapproval pretty well.

– Wednesday afternoon: Fish on again. This time, a keeper! To be perfectly honest, we don’t know what it was. It looked to be a cross between a barracuda, a king mackerel and a wahoo. There will be a photo posted when we have the chance to do that. I wondered if it might have been a ‘dogtooth tuna’ that I’d heard the Polynesians talking about. Anwyway, Danny cleaned him and we stored the fillets in the fridge until Thursday. Lara fried them up with a simple recipe we had from the Galapagos and they were a yummy welcome to the anchorage in Rangiroa.

– Saturday afernoon: Sailing just north of and after leaving Rangiroa, we happened across a large group of birds, quite obviously feeding on baitfish in the water. This usually happens when someone else, like a predator fish, is feeding from below. The ball of baitfish is forced near the surface and most of them are eventually breakfast for someone, bird or fish. Anyway, we hooked one of these fish – I believe it was a tuna of modest but respectable size. But he got off the hook as I was winding in the line on the handline. 😦

– Sunday, late morning: Something absolutely monstrous hits the line. Marlin? Shark? 1500 pound yellowfin? Who knows. But it was far too much fish for our gear. The line slammed taught as if it’d been attached to a boat going the opposite direction at twice the speed. But we didn’t managed to get the line off the cleat, much less begin any kind of a fight when the mystery monster had escaped. When we did get the line in, we saw that he’d pretty much put an end to my lure… the plastic head had been pushed and squeezed down on the shank of the hook (in a way that I wouldn’t be able to do even if I wanted to, with pliers), and all three barbed hooks had been bent outward past 90 degrees. Amazing. Somebody got away, but with a very sore mouth. At least I know my knots are still good (Yes Bay style) and the SS leader strong enough. But now it’s time to make a new lure!

That’s about it gang. Lara has just gone off watch, from 8PM to midnight. I’m on from midnight to 0400, what JP called the ‘dogwatch’ I believe, and then Dan the man is on from 0400 to 0800, or the sunrise watch. All’s calm and well aboard, and we’re steaming east while the trades are weak. Hope you guys are having a good one. ciao.


Noonsite – 12 December – Sunday – Back at Sea….

22.00 UTC (Zulu), Noon by Tahiti Time
Position / Posicao: 14.50.75 S (sul), 147.35.99 W (oeste)
Course / Rumo (COG): 15 degrees magnetic (15 graus magneticos) Speed / Velocidade (SOG, GPS): averaging 5.5 to 6.5 knots (nos) Wind: Mostly hovering at 18-20 knots, with squalls every 90 minutes or so
Swell: it’s a lumpy beat to windward, but in terms of waves we’re between 2 and 2.5 meters most of the time. There’s a nagging current setting to the west, impeding our progress east (naturally) of about 1.5 knots (we knew there would be).
Temp: Mostly sunny, with typical tropical puffy white clouds (cumulus?), dotted with squall lines and occasional squall rainshowers Water temp: 32 C
Barometric Pressure (BP): 1011 mb (slight drop today)

– – – —
Back at sea today – we had the anchor up at about 09.45 (after FAB strawberry pancakes, or DANCAKES as we now call them in the chef’s honor), and headed for the pass again, leaving amongst currents and dolphins at just after 10.30 (slack water). A cruise ship pulled into the anchorage this morning so the area was buzzing with boats and all sorts of tourist activities, from diving to souvenir buying from the small vending stands. To think that yesterday it seemed like a ghost town…

We left today not because the trades have shifted direction (yet) nor that we expect an easy passage to the Marquesas – we don’t. We left today because of a forecasted break in the weather over the next few days. Our biggest challenge is to make the easting necessary to call in at the Marquesas. Typically, with the current against you, as well as reinforced trade winds (La Nina year, if you follow that sort of thing), this can be a wholly unpleasant 600+ mile beat to windward. That means the boat is heeled to one side or the other, and you’re literally clawing and beating your way to your destination. But there is a bit of altered (slightly unstable, light) weather expected on the 13th – 15th, during which time we ought to be able to make a good chunk of easting – even if we have to motor sail a bit in light conditions. We’ll take it! Then, when the trades fill back in, it’s and easier sail the rest of the way. That’s the plan any way.

So far so good. The beat is fine, and Walk On marches to windward like a lady with a vengeance! Really proud of our girl. We’re with a double reef in the main and full jib (genoa) and making mostly over 6 knots – by the GPS – and upwards of 7 with speed log (current has a role in that). In other words, not too shabby at all for a cruising boat and a crew of 3 sailing pretty conservatively.

The SPOT is on, and it looks like it’s trying to send our position every once in a while, but as we’ve said before, this is a weak to zero coverage zone for SPOT, so don’t be dismayed if you can’t find us on the link. With these daily reports, you should be able to find our position easily enough.

Thanks to JP and Bruno for the text messages! Sorry Bruno, the Blue Lagoon will have to wait for the next cruise… JP, ainda bem que nao foram pra Hawaii, nao e? Pelo visto, vamos quase que passar Natal nas Marquesas…. viu que o destino tem como ajustar o tudo?

Anyway, that’s it for now. We might be on SSB soon with Espumeru, as they are nearing Australia now and Niklas sent us an email. We’ll pass on news when there is more.

Cheers from us
MM, Lara & Danny-boy-the-pancake-master!

P.S. Fishing stories forthcoming!