Sailing from the Caribbean to Australia Part 3

Sailing from Panama to Raiatea via Galapagos, Hiva Oa, and Rangiroa

Sailing from Panama to Galapagos and Galapagos Islands

14/07/07

We left Panama on Tuesday 10 July 2007, at around 0400 hours in the morning it is now Saturday night. We had a good sail from Panama to Las Perlas a little lumpy with a tail swell but allowed Nancy to have a bit of a rest laying on the trampoline.

(Fishing boat we passed as leaving Panama, we have seen a few of these)

As we got to Las Perlas the pomie yacht Creighton’s was just leaving, we could not raise them on the radio they were not monitoring the same frequency or they did not have the radio switched on. As we got closer the weather started to change with a bit of a blow and the swell crept up to three metres. So we decided to go to a bay marked on the chart closer to where we would leave for the Galapagos Islands. Once amongst the islands the wind dropped and we had to go under motor, we arrived at the bay we had selected and it was not looking too good, very rocky. Next thing we know is I get this terrible noise from the starboard engine gearbox. It sounded as though a bearing had collapsed. At the very same moment the radio squawked and it was a German fellow on the island name of Deter, he warned us off anchoring in the area as the bottom does not hold. I thanked him and we moved on.
I said to Nancy we have to make the choice do we sail back to Panama and may be spend another two weeks waiting for parts do the repairs and head back here or do we move on. We still have the port engine and hopefully we will be sailing most of the time. We opted to keep going, we figured that we were better of than any monohull yacht, we had two engines and one good gearbox they only have one of each. The other problem we had at the moment was that it was getting dark which made it too late to find another anchorage, we had both been up since 0330 hours that morning as we thought we would be getting a full night sleep at anchor neither of us had a real rest. Nancy cooked a quick tea and went for a rest to take the shift at midnight.

(Chart showing the planned course)

The seas were rough through the night but the wind was in the right place and we were sailing straight on the rhumb line for the Galapagos if this keeps up we will be there in no time. We continued to do well.
Thursday morning and I notice at first light this storm forming off the port quarter next thing this front forms the lead clouds hanging very low and dark, I called Nancy to close hatches and to help reduce sail, we reduced down to the main at second reef as the first part of the storm hit I turned the boat straight into it, the winds were in excess of 35 to 40 knots and the rain poured down, I got the buckets out quickly to catch some rain water. Nancy stayed in the dry in the saloon giving me moral support and she said she was getting a little frightened, she wasn’t the only one I can assure you, I was there with it. I figured if I kept heading into the storm under motor the sail would help me keep it straight and hopefully it would take me through the other end of the storm and we can get back on course. I did wonder at times whether I should have gone to bare pole and have no sails at all or just a small headsail, but what I did worked.

(This is not pretty, storm front approaches)

(I think Nancy said “Ok Beam me up Scotty”)

When you are in these situations lots of things start going through your mind, the first thing was how will Nancy come out of this, will she say right I’ve had enough I want to go home? Then I thought of the sailor we spoke to in Vanuatu a few years back when he had just come in his dinghy from his yacht when we questioned him about yachting. He said that this sailing is not for everyone it is a different way of life and it is not always fun it can be bloody hard work. So we both knew after eight years of research that it was not going to always be glamorous having cocktails in different ports. We have definitely seen both sides on this trip so far.
Leigh made a statement the night before we left Panama when we told him the costs in clearing out of customs and the port authority after having to pay overtime rates due to when they served us was after normal working hours. He said the problem is that these people think because we own a boat that we are millionaires when the fact is that if we did not own a boat we probably would be. Onya Leigh.
Anyway the storm blew itself out and we started to get back to normal, I asked Nancy how she was she said a little frightened but OK. I said you still OK with this sailing life, she said yes we have to take the bad with the good. I said to her this is a huge thing that we are doing and we are learning along the way. Being frightened is healthy; we must keep the respect for the sea and not get complaisant about it.
The problem we have now is the wind has changed direction it is coming straight from where we want to go, it’s right on our nose, we need the wind at least 45 – 50 degrees off the bow to get some speed out of the sails, to do this we have to head north or south, we chose south which meant that we would be heading in a south easterly direction because of the wind and the added factor of the Peru Current that is also going against us by about 2 knots. Well we have been slogging away beating against wind and current ever since.
Nancy had been a little quiet since the storm and I kept checking that she was OK. She said to me this afternoon, “What would we be doing if we were not doing this, we would probably be wondering around the house being bored and playing with the computer, so it is good that we are doing this”.
We talked about the trip so far and what we have to do before we get back to Oz. She said that the part she does not like is the night shift, she does the 0001 to 0400 hours shift, I do the other two night hour shifts, 2000 to 2359 hours and 0400 to 0800 hours, so unfortunately she has to do one of them and she accepts that, but does not like it, although she prefers the midnight watch because she states that she would have trouble staying awake between 2200 hours and midnight..
The night shifts have been worse lately because of the rough seas and the very dark nights, cloudy all the time so no moonlight, this means you cannot see the sea, you cannot judge when the next big wave is going to hit. You get several waves around the 3 metre mark then you will get two or three that are 4 metre high. You certainly hope that you do not get any other surprises. Night shifts and rough weather days we wear our safety harness and inflatable life jackets whilst on shift or in the cockpit. This is the rules that we made ourselves. You are in the cockpit on shift for four hours, if you slip and go overboard in the first hour you would not know where to look for your mate when the other person woke up. So safety is our high priority.
Sunday morning.I have not long come on shift 0400 to 0800 shifts. The last four hours off shift has been the longest I have slept in my four hours off for the whole trip so far. I was dog tired and I was pleased that Nancy did not have any problems so she did not have to call me early. Nancy has done well for someone who has not been out on the open oceans before this trip she had only done coastal. We have had to chuckle because whilst sailing the Caribbean and Nancy being on midnight watch something always happened during her watch, such as bad storm or a strange action of another ship and it was always 0230 hours when it happened. We always laughed about that.
We are still beating against the 3-4 metre waves on the fifth day/night. Most sailors doing the Pacific crossing usually leave Panama Feb-April, they complain about the Doldrums, no wind at all and flat seas they have to motor all the way. We are now having to motor sail with the Peru Current and the wind we have both sails and one motor and progressing at a rate of 2.5 to 4 knots. Now I understand what Nisa was saying back at the Panama, Nisa is a German lady, solo sailor in a monohull in her late 50’s I would say as a guess. She said she had left for the Galapagos Islands two weeks prior and she said she gave up because all the wind wanted to do was blow her back to the Panama so in the end she let it and she will try again around December. Well we have to keep going.
We have a bird that has been with us through the night hours, he/she has solved one problem for us. We have had the depth gauge playing up during the night, we are in excess of 2000 metre deep water, and the depth gauge starts reading anything from 00:00 to 34 metres continuously in the dark hours. What it is, is a school of small squid about 100 mm long, they are attracted by the starboard (green) light; the squid actually jump out of the water. The bird flies along near the green starboard light and when the squid jumps out of the water it pounces on it. I have to go around the foredeck each morning collecting the squid that jump onto the boat. By that time they are on the nose, talk about stink.
We have already changed course on the other tack heading 275 degrees magnetic, we were starting to head too close to the Colombian Coast and starting to move further away from Galapagos. If the wind does not change we will actually have to go passed Galapagos and then tack back to it. We have contacted our dear friend Rick Moore of Fraser Island Rent-A-Yacht for weather reports, advice and to track down spare parts for the gearbox problem. As we cannot raise any of the other boats on the HF radio, we are going to keep a sched going with Rick each day via Sat/phone. This at least lets someone know that we are alright out here in the blue yonder. Rick informed us that there is a cyclone to the north of us and that is what is influencing the weather that we are experiencing.
The HF radio has been next to useless at this stage, we set up a sched with Leigh but have not been able to contact him since we left. The incredible part is that I can listen to the Aussie weather from the two marine radio stations at Wiluna WA and Charliville QLD and the other night I listened to the Met in Adelaide.
It also appears that most yachts travel these waters between Feb and April so the volunteer networks for weather reports such as Herb in Canada and Russell Radio etc close down during this period of the year as there only a few idiots sailing out here this time of year, Jenks has to be one of those idiots. The only volunteer net I pick up is Chris in the Caribbean; there are still a lot of people travelling around San Blass and Trinidad outside the hurricane belt. None of these forecasts are any good to me in this location.
I had to transfer fuel out of some jerry cans this morning I went and had my birdbath, yes birdbath, we have to save water, full shower day is every three days. We fill the hand basin with water and sponge down with soap and rinse off. This uses a quarter of the water you would when we shower. When we shower you put water in the hand basin, wet yourself down in the shower then soap up using water in the hand basin, and then rinse off in the shower. One tank holds 380 litres and that lasted us 10 days. We have two tanks plus another 180 litres we carry in containers. Our next leg can be up to 28 days. I also had a dad and Dave (shave) this morning, 5 days of old grey beard gone and feeling better.
16/07/07
Another dawning of another day, you may have guessed I jot down these notes whilst on watch under torch light, I use a small torch so it does not affect my night vision, not that I have needed it we are in total open seas and have not seen another ship for days now, but you never know. So I am typing this from those notes exactly how I wrote them but trying to fix up any spelling mistakes or bad language. We have had an intensive 24 hours with wind and seas but we are making some headway. We are totally under sail, the only problem with that is the engine noise used to drown out the noise of the waves hitting hard against the hulls it can be quite loud at times.
We run the engine to charge the batteries at night so that we can each get some sleep with the droning of the engine that lessens the noise of the waves hitting the hulls.
We are getting closer to Galapagos but instead of the 900 Nms straight run we will be in excess of 1,100 Nms.
Nancy and I are well into the sea mode now, we are used to the routines of keeping watch, it takes a few days for the body to get used to sleep patterns which is whenever you get a chance to get the head down you do. Unfortunately we do have other duties besides being on watch that take up some of those sleeping hours. An example of this is transferring fuel; it has been too rough to fuel at the fuel points on the upper deck so I have transferred the fuel direct into the tank through the fuel tank meter float switch which means removing the switch and siphoning the fuel into the tank and then replacing the fuel sensor and make sure it is sealed.
One of the benefits of this sailing you are on the move all the time and I am losing weight
17/07/07
Another rough day, this is our eighth day of battering rough seas, I don’t think we expected this of the Pacific, I know we can always have a rough day period but I don’t think I experienced eight days straight during my naval days, three to four days perhaps. We did expect it in the Caribbean, but I think this has been rougher than what we had there. Nancy does not like it one bit, but she says we had to expect it when we made the decision to do this trip.
All morning we have had rain squalls; this plays havoc with the wind directions. However, we have made some ground cover. We have got 20 plus knot winds on the port bow, we are sailing close to the wind as possible so not to steer too far away from our target, this means we have to run the engine occasionally because with the 4 metre waves hitting us on the side it rocks the boat and knocks the wind out of the sails so the engine keeps moving us forward through these times. We have had a slight wind shift in our favour from the 240 to the 220 degrees; this allows us to steer closer towards the Galapagos Islands. We have had a rough ride all the way through, to give you an idea sitting at the helm is like sitting on the back of a bucking bull at a rodeo.
 I said to Nancy this morning I don’t know what would be worse this or the doldrums, she answered very quickly I would prefer the doldrums. (The doldrums is when the water is dead flat like glass, no wind whatsoever and you have to motor to get anywhere). I think I would agree with her. I think Nancy will always remember the Peru Current.
Plotting the course:With the vast open sea and great depths we only had a small scale chart that covers a very large area from the Panama to the Marquesas this was fine until you needed to plot your hourly readings, on this chart it would show as two pencil dots side by side.
So what we did to check our progress was use the larger scale chart using the Panama Gulf chart that had now become redundant and re-marked the lat/longs to suit the area that we are sailing. This was an idea I got from Leigh who said that he sailed the Great Australian Bite by a road map after viewing a chart that showed as long as he kept away from the coast line there was only deep water. He said you can use any chart to plot your progress. It works well, we plotted each hour this way, and once or twice a day on the smaller scale chart. The chart that we used had to be changed a few times as we kept running off the chart so it now looks like ant tracks all over it. (See photos).

(Above the makeshift chart used a number of times by changing the Lat/Longs)(Below is the Large area chart showing the track we took, not exactly a straight line)

Leigh has full electronic charts but has an interesting collection of photo copied charts, notes and mud maps, as he says when you get close land and shallower waters the eyes and depth gauge are your best source of information. Quite a character our friend Leigh.
I transferred more fuel today we have used 10 of the 14 jerry cans, I still have the starboard tank near full as we cannot use that engine so I can transfer out of that if need be. This was followed by a beautiful shower and shave. But I did have a moment, when I opened the cabinet to get the shaving cream out other items fell out with it, some angry words I said, then when putting them back in the boat jerked with a wave and a container of cotton buds fell out and all buds out of the container, some more angry words said and a voice comes from above (Nancy) are you having fun yet. You got to love her.
She is actually wonderful, she cannot do a lot of the heavy work so she makes sure she does all the light chores so that I do not have to do both. She has been totally scared at times with the weather that has been thrown at us, (she has not been by herself there I can tell you), but she hangs in there, gets over the fright and bounces back and says we have to do this and we will do it.
Today we have achieved some good sailing having travelled over 120 Nms in the day, we have only been able to go 90 to 100 Nms most days which is not a good result, we would like to be covering about 150 Nms per day. We clocked up 800 Nms since Panama at sunrise this morning.
18/07/07
Daily Orders for Alana Rose Dress of the day: Track suit or similar (It’s bloody cold).

Keeping the naval tradition alive the shift times we do not use 2400 hours we use 2359 and 0001. The navy reckons that the two minutes are your free time to do with what you want, so I will keep to that standard.
We are under sail only and we are travelling between 5 and 7 knots, our average for this leg has been 4.1 knots we need to raise that. Occasionally the bows dig in to a large 4 m wave and it slows us down to 5 knots then we speed up to 7 knots until we hit the next one.
As the bows dig in the green water comes flying over the top and you have to duck for cover behind the bimini screen. We have both been caught unawares at times and got wet.
19/07/07
We are on our 10th day, some optimistically minded mongrel reckoned we could do this 900 Nm stretch in 7 – 8 days. Sorry I have always been an optimist.
At 0655 hours this morning we clocked up 1,000 Nms since Panama and we still have a long way to go the Peru Current is keeping us from getting there any faster than what we are doing. If anyone is ever planning to do this leg of the trip do it between February and April during the doldrums, pack plenty of fuel, and go for it.
We are now set up with the wind and the current to on a port tack close reach to get to the area north of Galapagos if the wind stays the same we will pass the Isle De Pelo one of the most northern isles, change to a starboard tack and that should take us straight to San Cristobal.. (WRONG!!!!!). The wind changed from the 220 – 240 to 190 – 195 degrees magnetic we changed the direction to try and favour where we wanted to go not knowing what the force of the current would have. Once near and within the Galapagos Islands there are currents going different ways.
Nancy cooked breakfast and on completion we did a tack change, we are now heading for the Galapagos Islands but not the one we wanted to go to, so once we get closer we will have to change tack once twice who knows to get to San Cristobal. This is making the 120 Nms we thought we had left to go into a 200 Nms trip. That’s sailing. We are doing well speed wise we are around the 7.9 knots. We have the main at second reef and the Genoa at first reef; the winds are in excess of 25 knots with 2-3 metre waves hitting us on the port bow at 45 degrees angle. The wind is howling through the rigging, it would border on being a little dangerous to have any more rags up the mast with short handed sailing. Safety comes first and we are still learning about how this boat handles and how well we can perform.
I had to sneak below whilst Nancy was having a sleep to type and print up a crossing the line certificate for when Nancy crosses over the equator for the first time by sea. I think the dry ship rule will be put aside for the crossing. This will be my sixth or seventh crossing, I can’t remember.
It is 1400 hours and I am wearing a track suit, it is bloody cold, the Peru Current comes all the way from the Antarctica and I think it has brought some ice with it. Nancy is wearing her Musto outfit that I bought for her 50th at the Sydney Boat Show before we flew to Vanuatu. She says it is comfortable; it should be for the price I paid. I just wear my daggy trackies. Actually I do have a Musto jacket that Nancy found in a second hand shop in Dubbo, cost $20, obviously they did not know what they were selling it retails around the $500 for jacket alone.  

Well hopefully tomorrow night we will be at anchor at San Cristobal. I might get to sleep with one of the crew, (Captains privileges). May be the First Mate she’s a bit of alright.
We have spotted land it is the Isle De Pelo, we are directly north of it, and heading towards it, it is 1530 hours. We now have another problem. There are strict Ecuadorian rules about sailing in the Galapagos Islands, you have to have a cruising permit which costs more than an arm and a leg. If you enter the islands and pass through them before clearing in it is considered as cruising without a permit which can result in fines that I could not afford and impounding our boat. So we decide to change tack and sail along the north coast line of the islands heading east, new problem wind shift, so to now go on a starboard tack will take us north-east which will take us in the direction that we have just come from. To drop the sails and motor against the current we would be steaming between 1 to 1.5 knots due to only having the one engine. I said to Nancy this area is controlled by the navy, they should realise if I go through those islands which we can under sail, that we are only doing it because of basic seamanship and not because we are cruising without a permit, it will also be dark so we are not sight seeing. So I made the decision to go ahead, which is also going to be a challenge, we are going to have to regularly plot our course through the islands, it will be dark there are no lights on these two islands that we will be passing between and it is a dark night, no moon, we are not sure what wind or current affects will have on us. (No I did not tell Nancy this in full detail, do you think I am silly? She was going to be passing the second island on her shift, and I just gave her the info to do the job). We calculated that we had to stay between 35 and 40 degrees latitude, if we steered between there we would get through to the other side without any bumps in the night. On my shift we passed the first island, the wind and current was pushing me towards the island and I had to keep correcting through steer. Nancy came on shift at midnight, we were slightly north of the second island, Nancy started having problems late in her shift, the wind had changed and so had the current and it was pushing her closer to the island, the other factor was the wind had dropped and she was not making enough headway to counteract the affects of the current. Then George (auto pilot) started to play up, he went on strike because we were not making enough headway to steer. Nancy was trying to hang in there without calling me but by 0330 hours half hour prior to my shift she got frightened because she could not control the situation also in the running between plotting and steering she had jammed her thumb in the door. She came and got me which is the very first time this leg of the trip, so she has done bloody well on her shifts.

(Chart showing the track we had to take around the Galapagos Islands)

I got up there and took over and got us back on track we had a cuppa together before she went off to bed. I thought to myself after that I could have handled the situation a lot better. I should have not just taken over, I should have just explained to Nancy what to do and let her do it. I did apologise to her the next day, she said she was pleased I just took over she was at her whits end she was tired and had a sore thumb. After passing the islands there was no wind but plenty of current, motoring was down to 1.5 knots, we motor sailed not making much progress. It does not look like I will be sleeping with the first mate tonight, I think we will be doing another shift. After a few hours the wind picked up and we had to carry out a series of tacks to get towards our final destination, we now figured it would be mid afternoon tomorrow before we drop anchor.
We were going to have a high today with crossing the line, the equator, where the water going down the sink changes direction from anti-clockwise to clockwise, and that is a fact.
We crossed the line 1319 hours, we did not go through the full ceremony because we were both stuffed, we did it quietly, we had just finished lunch and Nancy took the helm to steer across the line, once across she took five Aussie dollar coins to pay her way across the line and pay respect to King Neptune, she was no longer a Pollywog. We poured a healthy glass of Pina Colada each and drank to the health of us and King Neptune and I awarded Nancy her certificate of crossing the line. That Pina Colada has some hit in it, Nancy said she was glad that she was off shift and slept very well. It is 14.5% alcohol and we had not had any other drink in ten days so it went straight to the head. We’ll finish the bottle off when we anchor if we ever get there. I said to Rick on one of our scheds I don’t think the Galapagos Islands want us to visit them.

(Nancy steering across the line)

( All the zeros as we cross the Equator)

(Nancy pays King Neptune)

(Nancy with the crossing the line certificate)

Anyway once the crossing was over we got into the sailing mode and we tacked east as the wind picked up we were making about 4.5 knots, not great but better than what we have done earlier. The wind started to change direction so I elected to take a port tack which would send us south-west towards the channel near Santa Cruz, we picked up speed we reached the mouth of the channel within less than three hours and I was able to change tack again before the end of my shift and set it up for Nancy to head towards San Cristobal. I woke Nancy early for her shift, I had earlier passed a cruise boat or ferry and they report any new boats in the area to authorities, I saw a boat shortly after come from the direction of the channel and heading straight for us. We were aware that the naval coast guard patrols and will board your boat to see what we were up to. It was 25 minutes early for Nancy, but I thought we should have our whits about us if we are going to be boarded at midnight. As the boat got closer I shone the torch in the sails as though I was inspecting something, I just wanted to make sure he knew we were a sailing vessel. It appeared to work as he pulled up and just kept station on us, I maintained course in an attempt to show I was unconcerned about him being there, they stood on station until we were a light in the distance. Nancy and I had a cup of Milo before I turned in for a sleep.

(The end of another day)

When I came back on shift at 0400 hours we were doing well, the current was turning us slightly to starboard which was creating a curve in our course to the exact location we wanted to go. Through the morning and until we arrived at Wreck Bay, San Cristobal we had the calmest seas we had experienced the entire trip, to the point of it being like the doldrums, we downed sails and motored. It was a pleasant way to end the leg of this trip. Not sure whether Nancy’s wishes to King Neptune was responsible for this but if it was, thank you Nancy and King Neptune.

(Five Finger Rock)

(Land ahead)

As we got close to the port Nancy called the Port Captain and requested permission to enter his port in which he gave in the affirmative, Creighton’s the Pomie yacht was anchored in the port. The guide book states that before your anchor gets wet the authorities will be alongside to board and inspect your boat. We anchored and waited and no one came so we radioed and  asked the Port Captain about clearing in he said to do it in the morning at 1000 hours at his office and we could go ashore if we wanted to. I went over to Creighton’s to say g’day and find out what they had been up to and what the local routine was with officials etc. Nick, the skipper, said that the authorities had gone right through their boat taken some food items and spices, he said they tried to charge them double the amount in clearing in and they want him to fumigate his boat at his own expense. I thought of what he said and worried what tomorrow would bring.

(Creightons, 60 foot racing yacht)

(Our first visitor)

They had got in three days ago, where we had made the decision to go south not north they had done the reverse. I don’t think it made that much difference, if we had gone the same way they would have still been here three days before us. They have seven crew aboard some experienced some not and it is a Maxi racing yacht, it has a 4 metre keel on it. Armed with all the info I went back to our boat and passed all the info onto Nancy, we had a very nice dinner, finished off the Pina Colada after a couple of beers and had to get up and take some panadol early hours of the morning.

We had actually sailed 1,237 Nms between here and the Panama. We have now sailed over 2.600 Nms since we picked up this boat.
We will spend the next 7 to 10 days here before the next big leg of 3,000 Nms.

22/07/07

We met Fernando last night on Creighton’s, he is the fix it get it man. He will deliver food, fuel, water, organise tours, you name it he will fix at a reasonable price. His family has been doing this since 1987. He has numerous books with photos of yachts they have served. He is quite the character, but you still have to have your whits about you to make sure he is not taking too much advantage of you.

(Good man Fernando)

His mother used to run a top restaurant until the rent got too expensive, she still cooks for the people that go on tours that Fernando organises. They have land which is about the standard urban house block. The difference is they have two buildings one divided in three, two downstairs apartments and one upstairs, the second building is divided into two apartments and that are where the families live, mother, sisters and brothers families. It is the way they survive and appear to be very happy. Their homes are very modest with simple furniture. They are working towards building their own restaurant basically in the driveway of their house, they own the land and they are allowed to do that. Anyway we have contracted him to get all our provisions and he is organising a tour for us.
This morning we went to the Port Captain to clear in, when we arrived at the office the Port Captain asked if he could help us, I told him we were here to clear in that we are from the catamaran that came in yesterday and I apologised as I could not speak Spanish only English he was rather pleasant, he called a young naval person Quinton spoke English which made life very easy he allowed us 10 day stay after a little persuading from Nancy, it was only going to be 7 days so we got the extra days if we need them. The Port Captain himself came in the office whilst we were there and listened to what was being said, he then bent down opened a draw in his desk pulled out a cap and put it on my head and saluted, I saluted him back which I think surprised him, I said I was Navy to he smiled and left, Quinton then told me the cap would cost $20 it was one of his official caps gold braid the works, but he wanted me to have it. I thought at first this is how he may make a little on the side but the other Captains of the other yachts did not get offered the same. So now I am trying to figure out if he thought I was special or I was the only one that looked a sucker to buy the cap. I prefer not to think the latter one is correct. It is a very nice cap; the real thing not an imitation it has the real gold braid.
It was a little expensive clearing in as they have two charges, one for you and the boat size and another for the weight of the boat. A total cost $185.00 US. Quinton also told us because we had not pre-organised a visa, (which takes months) prior to arriving we cannot sail to other islands, if we wish to visit we have to use the water taxi. If you do organise a visa prior to arrival, which took friends of ours three months to finalise, to travel the islands you have to pay for a guide the whole time.
I am starting to believe though it is your attitude when dealing with these officials, we have had a run around at times but when we have actually dealt face to face with the officials we really have not had anything to complain about.
Creighton’s skipper had arguments with them about the charges, he said to me watch them they will try and over charge you. This has not happened to us. Nick is a little arrogant and he comes across that way, in this port they have water taxis that cost $1 US one way per boat crew, the authorities wish for us to use that service for two reasons, one it creates some wealth to locals and two they only have a small dock that is busy with boats coming to and from the other islands and they don’t want dinghies in the way. You give a call on Ch 16 VHF radio and the taxi comes straight away.
After the Port Captain went to the Policia for immigration, that was also painless, by the time we did this and had a walk around the town it was time for lunch so we went to a cafe and through the language barrier and the help of a young girl that assisted in translation we ordered two healthy orange juices and a burger, which I might say was rather nice good solid meat and a hunk of cheese that was as thick as the meat.
We then came back on board, we were pretty tired, Nancy went for a sunbathe and I started to type up my notes from the bits of paper.

The town here is unique, there are buildings that are partially finished but are lived in. It appears to me that they build as they get the money to do it. They may start with a modest two or three room ground floor, paint it inside and out then later they start building the second floor. There are quite a number in this condition.

(This building people are living in the lower floor)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(Streets of Wreck Bay)

(It seems the norm for three floors)

Wreck Bay or San Cristobal has a population of 5,000, there does not appear to be much traffic but there are two sets of traffic lights, A lot of the locals use motor scooters or motor bikes as transport, that is not seen as a problem with a family of four, one child in front Dad or Mum next driving, another child behind then the Mum or Dad behind at the back. Occupation Health and Safety has not hit here as one can see with the way buildings are constructed.

(Four on each, can you imagine doing this in Sydney)

The people here appear to have an uncomplicated life, they are quite friendly, although one does get the impression that some officials prefer we were not here and that is some of the naval personnel that patrol the waterfront.
We had dinner on board, had a couple of Pina calada’s, I quite like that stuff and we were off to bed TOGETHER, I woke up at 0200 hours we were rocking a bit I thought I might just put a little more cable down just in case. I did have the alarm on the GPS set for anchor drag.
Monday 23/07/07
We went on a tour around the island that we organised through Fernando, our guide for the day was Carlos, spoke very little English but got his message through as we travelled the country side. We went to the national park where the large tortoises were. The Galapagos Islands have different breeds of the tortoise in different islands they are not the same in any one place. This island does not have the giants; we have bigger at the Dubbo Zoo. However it is a great place to visit and see, we went to the communities that farm, they grow anything from tomatoes to oranges, oranges and mandarins just about grow wild alongside the roads. Our guide stopped and picked mandarins, oranges and avocados for us to take back on board.

(Small farming village)

He told us that he had been in the navy, Ecuador Navy, he spent six years on the Bolero, and this is the Ecuadorian Tall Ship. This ship was one of the tall ships that visited Sydney in 1970 for the re-enactment of Cook’s landing.
We also went and saw some iguanas near the waterfront and rock beach. This was followed by Fernando’s mother cooking us a very nice lunch at their home. The best part of these tours is the meeting of the local people and seeing the way they live and survive. It is nice to see the tortoises and iguanas, but I find the people more interesting, probably because we have visited many zoos in our time have seen most types of animals and mammals, not saying it isn’t special it is. The day was a good one the weather could have been a little better but that’s life.

(Mocking birds)

 (San Christabol Tortoise)

(We visited a teenage boys tree house, he charges 50 cents a visit it has a swing bridge up to it or a staircase)

(Tourist class)

(The fenders stopped them getting on board for a while but they worked it out)

Leigh invited us over to Mi Querida for sundowners and dinner if the chook thawed out in time, we grabbed a few tinnies and went over, and he said the chook has not thawed so we are making a pasta dish. Leigh had his newest crew member aboard, Joe he is Irish, a retired doctor and a character. Leigh had met him in England when he was sailing there and they struck up a friendship. Joe wanted to come to Galapagos so he flew into Panama and sailed with Leigh and Jenny, first night out he had a small fall and cracked a rib. He is only doing this leg and flies back to Ireland on Monday. Joe reckons that if you want to get on with Australians you have to be able to insult them as well as they can you. We had a very nice night and quite a few laughs. He has quite a crew, Jenny from South Africa, Joe from Ireland and Leigh the Aussie. We left about 2100 hours everyone was getting a little tired.

(Leigh at the BBQ on Mi Querida)

(Nancy, Joe and Leigh aboard Mi Querida)

(Jenny being the galley slave)

24/07/07
Tuesday we worked on the boat cleaning, bringing on fuel and drinking water, so it was all work and no play, our friendly sea lions that keep jumping aboard to lie in the sun make a lot of mess to clean. I have tried putting fenders up as barricades but they seem to get around that.

(Alana Rose at anchor in Wreck Bay)

(One of the small island ferries)

(Fisherman with lots of friends)

(Gannets in flight)


We had a quiet dinner and early to bed for a good sleep. We have to get up early in the morning to catch a boat to Santa Cruz, we are going to visit the Darwin Centre.
25/07/07
We got a water taxi into the jetty to catch the boat across to Santa Cruz 0630 hours, the boat had about 15 people and 3 crew and that was all the boat could seat, so its not very big, it is powered by three 100 hp Yamaha Outboards, the swell out there was between 2 and 3 metres, talk about a rough wet ride, the trip takes just over 2 hours. There were locals aboard next to me was a lady with three children, one in her arms and two trying to hang on so they did not go over the side, I indicated to the mother that I could steady the two children she nodded ok, so I put my arm behind them so they were secure, Nancy was doing the same to a very old lady. We were sitting right at the back of the boat as it is more comfortable, Joe with his cracked rib was further in so I indicated to him to get down the back, after a while he said this is why you picked this seat, it is more comfortable.We arrive and soon find out where the Darwin Centre is, a short taxi ride and we are all there. There was the five of us, Leigh, Jenny, Joe, Nancy and myself. We get to the Darwin Centre gate and the guard asks where our guide is, that’s what we worked out he was asking, after a few shrugs of the shoulders and dumb looks say no understand Spanish he let us in without a guide.
We headed for the visitors centre that had a display of all the Galapagos Islands and the information all about them. A young man introduced himself as one of the volunteer staff and then showed us a video. He spoke very good English and was helpful in directing us to the different areas to see.

(The Darwin Centre)

(Jenny among the tortoise)

( Me by Lonesome George, he got his name because the officials thought that a female that had been killed on a north western island was the last tortoise on the island, three years later they found Lonesome George and bought him here and put him with two females hoping he will breed with them. I can now say two years after this photo George fathered some offspring’s, some years later George died)

(Plaque outside the Darwin Centre)


It was very interesting what they are doing there by breeding the tortoises and letting them grow to a good size before releasing them in their natural habitat. We walked around for about two hours looking at the different types of tortoise and iguanas. There are different breeds of tortoise from the different islands in the Galapagos.

(Having a feed)

(The different breeds of tortoise on the different islands)

(Joe next to a giant cactus)

(Land Iguana)

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(Sea Iguanas having siesta time)

Once we were done there we started to walk back to Santa Cruz Township about a 25 minute walk, it was taking its toll on poor Joe, he is not a young man, and he has been retired for 16 years so he would have to be in his 70’s. We found a cafe and stopped for lunch had a good lunch with quite a few stories and lots of laughs. Then off we went again to get the boat back to San Cristobal. This was a different boat, smaller, powered by two 200 HP outboards, it did not make for a comfortable ride, we were slamming into the swell at 27 knots. As soon as we got back on board our boat we had to get ready for the Mi Querida crew to come over for dinner.

(Iguana board)

(The streets of Santa Cruz)

(Unique shop front)

(Shopping Centre)

 (Santa Cruz harbour is shallow and not well protected regard weather)

(Large ships have to stay out and small boats and barges unload the goods and bring them in to port)

 (Stores arrive)

We had a nice dinner a few laughs we were all bushed from the day and turned in at 2130 hours. All in all it was a good day, but none of us would do that boat ride again.

26/07/07

This morning was spent checking the HF Radio, it appears that I am receiving but not transmitting to well. I started by checking all the connections between the tuner and the radio with the multi-meter, they were good. Then I checked the antenna cable between the radio and tuner and found it not to be that crash hot. I re-soldered the joints and tested the radio and it still did not give any indication of transmitting. I then pulled out all the 15 metres of 75 mm copper strip that I had installed for the ground plain and relocated it across the back inside the transom, two layers side by side. It still did not give me the results people were telling me I should on the transmitting indicator. Leigh looked at it last night when he was over and said that I should get four bars or better.

(This became our watering hole and a place where you get good meals)

(This fellow was showing us how to drink the bottles of beer, I think he was showing off in front of the young ladies below that were chatting to us)

(These young ladies were interested in our travels, everybody knows who we are with only three yachts in the harbour)

So I gave up for a while, went ashore had some lunch, updated the blog on the net, did a little shopping and came back on board to check the manual out and see if I had missed anything. It did not appear that I had. I turned the radio on and I appeared to be getting better reception from the weather reports, (not for this area, north in the hurricane belt), so I changed to frequency 8107, known as the Panama to Galapagos Net, in the February to April season I think it has been dead quiet because not many sailing. I did a test transmission and the signal strength out was showing very strong. Leigh was just going on board his boat so I yelled out for him to call me on VHF71 a frequency we call each other on if one of us has any info or require assistance. When he called I got him to give me a call on 8107 HF and it came out clear I transmitted back and he got the same result. After testing a few more frequencies in the higher and lower ranges we were both quite readable although we both only had one bar flickering when transmitting. So hopefully we will be able to keep in touch when we head off on Monday. So it is possible that I had been transmitting alright all the time, but I think I did improve it by fixing the solder joint.

Whilst ashore we saw the young couple that went with Creighton’s back at Panama they asked us if our offer to have them still stands as it is costing $500 a month to be on board Creighton’s, we were offering free passage for work. They still have to think about it because of the fact that they have signed up in good faith with the other boat and they feel a certain responsibility. I think the main problem is the crew is not getting along to well on that boat.
We are not too concerned although it would be nice to have more sleep at night. We will leave on Monday whichever the outcome.
The Navy has a big celebration today with the 75 anniversary of the Armada here in San Cristobal. They will be having a large function at the Naval Base so we hear. We are supposed to be going to Fernando’s tonight for his mother to cook us a lobster dinner. He was going to confirm it was on today but we may have missed him when we went ashore. We will go into the jetty if he is not there we will go elsewhere and have a bite. It is cheap to eat here, we had a meal of chicken, chips etc and for that, and drinks came to $9 for the both of us.
The shopping today I bought three Stanley sockets, 24, 15, 13 mm, 24mm open end/ring spanner, 3 metres of 8mm chain and a few fittings and plumbers tape. Total cost $29. A bottle of beer at the bar cost $2; the size of it is in between a stubby and a long neck. There are two brands here Brahma and Pilsener, both are a good drop. In fact the different brands that we have tried in the entire trip I have not found a bad one. We have had Piton, Heineken, Polar, Panama, Balboa, plus the two I just mentioned.
Sitting here typing this on board in a word document to take into the internet shop tomorrow, I looked up just as two sets of big brown eyes were just coming over into the cockpit. Two young sea lions looking for a place to sleep. When we got back from Santa Cruz yesterday we had four on board, did they make a mess, there was s—t all over the transom. They work their way around the barriers I put to stop them coming on board. Anyway I chased these youngsters off quickly. Local boats have barbed wire or planks of wood with nails sticking up to stop them going on their boats that are moored.
It is amazing the amount of smaller type tourist passenger ships visit these islands, each day there appears to be at least two new ones coming and going, they stay for a day or two and move on to the next island. There is no jetty for boats our size or larger to go alongside, all boats have to anchor, and everything has to be taken in and out by dinghy or taxi. Some of the larger boats will have 20 man rubber dinghies (2-6) and they ferry the passengers in and out. The small dock is very busy most of the time. They usually leave and sometimes arrive at night; they sail between the islands during sleep hours arriving ready for the tours each day.
These are the types of tourists the authorities prefer, they come in large numbers they are only here a very short time but the do spend money. They have tours organised with guides looking and watching over them. Where us grotty yachties spend money on necessities and stay for longer times and do not use guides the whole time we are here and we take up space at the jetty when using the dinghy.
Well that’s about it for another day, see what tomorrow brings.

 27/07/07

Friday today, Fernando is bringing me 180 gallons (681 litres) of water for the main tanks, unfortunately this is not good quality water and will only be used to wash in. We have 50 gallons (189 litres) of drinking bottled water on board. I have added a couple of cups of bleach to the water in the tanks that will be used for washing water to kill any bugs that may be in it. This water has come from the lake in the dormant volcano. This water is piped to the town for use of washing but is not treated and can carry parasites that can be dangerous to health.
We have not trusted any of the water that we have brought on board for drinking, with the only exception being Bonaire. Bonaire has the purest water because it is processed through the salt industry. They desalinise the sea water to make the salt and because it is such a large industry supplying the world with salt they have plenty of good quality water.
We are now on water rations until we get to Marquesas, more bird baths less showers and use sea water where we can, there is plenty of that between here and Marquesas.
Other than that we had a lazy day, had a look around town, updated the blog, and pulled the Genoa sail down when it was calm last night to check out some threads that looked as though they were coming adrift. It was the edge of the sail material itself that was frayed but not the stitching itself. We cleaned the edges up and hoisted the sail and furled it back up.
Whilst in the internet shop I checked the weather patterns, seas are a little rough below 10 degrees south so we will stay north of that to go to Marquesas. I have plotted the course today and naturally this is a guide only it will depend on wind and weather allowing us to follow it as plotted. I used the weather information plus a computer program I have titled Visual Passage. This program identifies the percentages of wind and current direction per each month. Once we are at Marquesas we will have to study the weather patterns a little more and decide where we go from there. If the harsh weather continues we may have to stay on a northerly route which means we will not get to Tahiti or the Cook Islands.

(Wave chart)

The above shows the wave height and wave direction the green yellow is 6-7 metres the dark blue is around one metre, naturally we would like to stay in the dark to light blue range giving a height of 1 – 4 metres and to keep the waves flowing from behind helping push us along.
Nancy and I were both saying today that we will be pleased to get underway again even though we are both feeling a little nervous of the distance and what Mother Nature is going to throw at us whilst we are out there. The ideal is SE winds around 15 knots abaft the port beam with the current from behind. Of course that’s in the perfect world, if we had this we would be in Marquesas within 22 days, if we get what we have had so far it may be 30 days. With a span of days like this we are bound to get some nasty weather along the way and it is that thought that makes us a little nervous. As you can see by the chart photo attached, the distance from here to Marquesas compared to the distance that we did between Panama and here. This next leg is the longest for the whole journey. We still only have one engine to use, one engine in good conditions we get 5 to 5.5 knots, if we had both engines we would be able to go 7.5 to 8.1 knots, it makes a big difference when you have a head wind or current.
We would also like to get some better weather, most the time we have been here it has been grey skies, drizzle rain now and again and it is cool. I have to wear long pants if we venture out in the evening. I know some of you are saying poor bugger you, when it is freezing back at Dubbo. But we are near the equator and you expect better weather. But this is what makes the Galapagos Islands unique, they have areas of cold waters and tropical waters and that is why they have the variety of animals. The Peru Current brings the cold water up from the Antarctic.
Well that’s it for another day.

29/07/07 Sunday

This morning we went in to clear out, we had to do this 24 hours before leaving. It was quite painless, went to the Port Captains Office he signed and stamped our papers and wished us well. Then to immigration at the Police Station (Policia), it was the same person we cleared in with, he was good no problems. So we are right to leave tomorrow morning.
Before leaving we shall pop ashore and place this blog, then back on board weigh anchor and off. Leigh will be following but he wants to go and swim with the hammer head sharks first. We declined the offer.
Joe leaves early hours of the morning on one of those fast boats like we took to Santa Cruz, he is not looking forward to it. Who could blame him? It is a shame to see the trio break up on Leigh’s boat. Joe is such a nice fellow, he is 76 years young.
We did a little more shopping today and then we had lunch on Leigh’s yacht, we both supplied a chook each which Leigh cooked on his BBQ with his self built rotisserie. Nancy made the potato salad and I grabbed a bottle of wine and away we went. Spent the whole afternoon with them and came back on board about 1630 hours.
We will be away from civilisation for at least three weeks and could stretch to more than four depending on what mother nature throws at us. We will keep a sched with Rick as he is a great help to us and I am sure he will keep you all informed of our progress. Thanks Rick and Lu.
We have set up a radio sched with Leigh for twice a day 0800 and 2000 hours on HF 8107, 6243 or 12353.
Creighton’s is also leaving tomorrow but we do not get much communication with them and when we do they usually change their minds and it does not eventuate. Leigh was supposed to go diving with them this morning, he waited and waited and they did not show, it was the same for going out for dinner last night, they appear to change their mind at the last minute.
We will be sailing by ourselves still no crew, the young couple had a talk with us, we told them that the boat will not be in Oz this year due to the duty that has to be paid, we will have to wait until January when I will have the money. Creighton will be going through to Oz and holding up there for the cyclone season and that is where Daniel and Veronique want to be.
We are fine with that and we quite expected to be going it alone. We can keep our dress standards if the weather gets warmer.
So tomorrow is it. Thanks to those that have emailed or made comments on this blog we really appreciate it, also thanks for your good wishes on our next leg. We think once we get south of these islands we will have seas and wind on our port abaft the beam which should push us along nicely. Let us hope that this is the case.
Well people all the best, will be back on the key board in a few weeks, will probably do more skippers ramblings along the way.

Sailing from Galapagos to Hiva Oa, Marquesas

Monday 30/07/07 1300 hours. – Leaving Galapagos

We got up reasonably early had breakfast and caught the water taxi ashore, had a talk with Leigh and Jenny, Joe left at 0545 hours on the fast boat to Santa Cruz to catch his plane heading home to Ireland. What a nice bloke he is, he said he did two very good things in his life one was taking up the practice of a doctor and the other was giving it away, Irish humour, but I think what he meant was that he gave it away before he became outdated.
We updated our blog on the net then went back on board scrubbed the decks getting rid of all the dirt from our boarders the sea lions. The locals put barbed wire around their boats to stop them getting on board. I didn’t happen to have any.We then prepared to weigh anchor. Once ready we motored out of the port, notified the port Captain of our departure on the radio and made for clear water to get the sails up, there was a good breeze blowing and in the right direction for us.
We received a call from Creighton’s on the radio they were preparing to leave and they wished us well as we did them. They were motoring out as we were hoisting the mainsail. Once the mainsail was up we set a course for 255 degrees magnetic, we then unfurled the Genoa and shut down the engine. We were sailing around 7.5 knots in the cover of the island once clear we were going over 9 knots. As we headed away Creightons was setting their sails about 2 Nms behind us, once they had the sails set they followed our course, I thought it would not be long before they passed us, them being a Maxi racing yacht but we appeared to be leaving them behind.
There were a few storms developing off the port bow and coming our way, as the squall arrived we picked up a bit more speed, once the squall had passed there was no wind. We started the engine and motor sailed for a short time this also charged the batteries up for the night time. We went through three squalls and after each one passed the wind dropped. We maintained a speed of 8.5 knots.
After lunch Nancy went for a rest, the long journey had started, we have 3,025 Nms to go 4 hours on 4 hours off watch for the next 3 to 4 weeks. Good way to test a marriage. It will take 3 or 4 days to get into a routine after the ten day break.
We passed Santa Fe and Santa Cruz on our starboard side and approaching Isla Santa Maria on our port side it will take a few hours before we get passed. It would have been nice to see some more of these islands, Santa Maria has a yachties post box on the beach, yachties put the mail in, and other yachties will pick them up and send them off at the next available port along the way. The problem is that the islands are declared National Parks and to visit cost $100 per day per person. Too rich for me I am afraid. The authorities prefer the organised tours of larger passenger boats and that’s what they cater for.
We are going along quite well, we have a 1 to 1.5 metre swell off our port bow, but it is not uncomfortable. We appear to be leaving Creighton’s well behind us just before dark I could only see a small section of their sails, they may be changing course for a more southerly run as Nick was thinking about doing that or they could have got caught in the lull after the storm and have no wind at all.

31/07/07  – 1300 hours

We are doing well although the forenoon had its moments, I had just gone off morning shift when Nancy asked if I could check to see if it was another boat ahead she thought she could see. I confirmed it was and I would stay with her to see what it is. As we got closer you could see it was fishermen and could also see the usual floating black flags of their fishing gear that they drop off. I said to Nancy we want to stay well clear of those flags and we altered course to the windward side by 10 degrees. As we were nearing the flag I said to Nancy I would like to know what gear they have on those flags. What do they say be careful what you wish for?  Nancy said look someone has thrown plastic bottle rubbish overboard. I said Oh I hope it doesn’t start following us, and watched as we passed and sure enough the plastic bottle started to follow us. I dropped the sails immediately but it was too late we had their fishing gear around the port propeller. It took us 2 hours to get free. The fishermen came within a half mile of us and retrieved their equipment minus the small part that is around our prop, they did not want to communicate with us they were probably illegally fishing. I found out that they are long lines, I got in the water to try and get to the prop but the boat was jumping up and down with the swell and it made it too dangerous plus I did not want to get one or more of those hooks in me. The water was bloody cold. I am not sure whether we still have any gear on the prop but it is not causing any concern at this stage.
After my cold sea bath in my jocks I was freezing, I dried off and went to bed to have a short sleep before coming back on watch. I came up for lunch and the afternoon shift, as Nancy was going into the saloon from the cockpit I said a cuppa would be nice, with that she turned to switch the gas solenoid on at the switchboard and I closed the door, unfortunately on her finger. At the time I did not realise what was wrong because she was jumping and shaking her left hand, I was trying to see what she had done to it but it was her fingers on the right hand that I was still closing the door on. That’s the problem with these animated people, they talk with their hands, and I was looking at the hand that was shaking when it was the other one in trouble. After she settled down some time after I said well that evens things up, you did the same to me a couple of weeks back. We both laughed.
Had a successful radio sched this morning I first spoke with Panama Net then with Leigh. Leigh left Galapagos at 1800 hours last night and had just gone passed Santa Maria at 0800 hours this morning. He is making excellent time.
We are also doing well we sailed 170 Nms in 23 hours at a rate of between 6 and 11 knots, it would be good if this continued all the way but you can bet it will not. We did a short motor sail after a storm passed as it left us in the calm.
Creighton’s appeared to be gaining on us at one stage then they dropped back again. We have not seen them since just before dark last night. They did not come on to our radio sched this morning as they said they would and I could not raise them on the VHF radio. They were talking of taking a more southern route to try and get the wind on the beam, they may have done just that. Although they have a track record of saying they will do something and they don’t do it. As reliable as a good day in Melbourne, (Sorry to those in VIC).
Had a few storm cells last night and a pod of whales at the same time near Isla Isabella, I could see a major storm ahead and in the grey of the sky on the horizon I could see what I thought to be waves breaking. I said to Nancy if the waves are breaking like that in the approaching storm we might reduce sail. We reefed right down to find out that it was the whales jumping out of the water and also spraying water when venting. The rest of the night went well and we started to get into the routine of the watch keeping and sleeping on demand.

01/08/07 – 2205 hours

It’s late at night I have just finished the 2200 hour log entry, it has been an interesting day, and we have had some blue skies with sun shining but the wind chill factor kept me in my trackies. We have passed through four storm squalls, the first three were not too bad a little light rain, but the last one I had a feeling about and put a reef in the main sail and after a short while I had the Genoa reefed to two thirds furled. The seas got a little nasty with 4 metre waves and 28 knot winds; we were sailing between 7.5 and 10 knots with everything reefed down. As I write this we are going through our fifth squall, we will stay reefed till morning I think.
Nancy had the three day blues today, she phrased it a little differently. She said I am sick of being cold and wet. She laughed and said not to worry I was like this on the third day of the last leg, I will be OK tomorrow.
I understand what she means it always seems to take the three days to adjust, I was the same when I was in the Navy, I was pleased to go to sea, but it took three days to settle in to the mode of things. You have to adjust to the watch keeping and the new sleep patterns and on top of that the movement of the boat.
Nancy cooked a great dinner tonight roast chicken, baked veggies, seasoning and gravy. She does a bloody good job when the boat is bouncing around all over the place.
At the moment I am heading for a light patch in the sky on the horizon, I am hoping it’s the hole out of this squall we are in, it is hard to write whilst bouncing around the cockpit. I only hope I can read what I have put down when I go to type it up. I just thought what Clare would say, (Clare was my secretary), she would probably say it would be an improvement on what I handed to her. All my past secretaries would probably say the same thing. Thinking back I was blessed with good staff and especially with the secretaries, Jodie, Joanne, Cath, Carolyn, and Clare, all very nice people and good friends.
We have come through to a clear sky, the good old Southern Cross is just about to disappear, have not seen that for quite a few nights due to cloud cover. We are presently in an area of two sea currents and the one we are in at the moment is going our way and giving us an extra knot in speed, I don’t want to enter the one next as flows against us and will slow us down. We have to enter the counter current area to get to Marquesas, indications show that it is inactive this time of year, I hope they are right.
Well Nancy is about to take over the shift after I wake her so I will sign off from my ramblings and thoughts.

02/08/07

After Nancy took over the shift at midnight we entered the calm after the storm and we dropped speed and it stayed that way right through until lunch time. The breeze has picked up and the sun is shining so Nancy has taken advantage got the gear off and is sun-baking for her off shift rest. We will not do as good as yesterday with distance travelled, those storms do help you move along, we sailed 180 Nms yesterday we hope to do 150 Nms today. That is the target we aim for every day anything over that is a bonus anything below is not good.
It is good sailing weather at the moment sun shining, I am keeping watch and we are listening to CD’s as we go along, we only have a short supply of CD’s, we could only pack one lot that holds around fifty CD’s, we have another six packs like that in Brisbane. We will probably wear these ones out by the time we get back.
Had our radio sched with Leigh at 0800 hours this morning he is having the same problems and had to do some motor sailing. He is on the same course as us but is on a line further north and keeping a much straighter line this is due to the fact that one he has more experience and two he has various sails in his wardrobe one being a spinnaker for these low behind winds. Could not raise him on the radio last night I thought it was through the storm, but Leigh informed me he was off shift and fell asleep and missed the sched.
We purchased a long stalk of green bananas that we hung in the cockpit, they are ripening fast so Nancy has cooked a banana cake. She has also cooked a large pot of pumpkin soup that will last a few days. We also have fruit and veg strung up in netting bags in the cockpit. The other trick is that we wrap the tomatoes, apples, and mandarins in alfoil this ensures they last quite a long time.
I think we have got back into the cruising mode now, I had a very good sleep whilst Nancy did the midnight shift, she had to wake me to do the morning shift usually I am awake and ready well before time. After finishing the morning shift I had breakfast, did the radio sched and went to bed and had another good hour and half sleep. After the afternoon shift I will try and get another hour and a half, this way I get six hours sleep per day. Nancy has the better shifts as she can go to bed at 2000 hours till midnight shift then she can go back to bed at 0400 hours so she is sleeping in or around the normal sleeping times.
George (our auto pilot) has just told me the batteries are low so I have started the starboard engine, the one with the crook gearbox, running this at 1800 rpm out of gear will charge the batteries and save some hours on the port engine. I cannot use the portable generator at the moment with the big waves over the back of the boat I don’t want to play Russian roulette with electricity. We would not gain any significant speed if we used the port engine in gear as we are doing around the 7.5 to 9 knots.
I asked Nancy how she was going with it all today, she said she was a little nervous being so far from land and what Mother Nature will throw at us during this leg of the trip when we have so far to go. She did add that she has no regrets in doing this it is a great adventure. She also reckons that when we get back to Oz she will have no concerns in doing a circumnavigation of Oz itself, may be a little concern of the Great Aussie Bight. I said that wouldn’t be a worry I will borrow Leigh’s road map. (I mentioned this in earlier notes). Leigh used a road map after seeing a chart and there were no shallows in crossing the bight so rather than buy the chart he used a road map with Lat/Long on it.

03/08/07 2100 hours.

We have had a good day today a bit of roll with the swell off the port aft quarter and tail wind, we have sailed 153 Nms and still have 3 hours left in the day. We have had two really good days one in the 180’s and one in the 190’s. It would be good if this keeps up. I have read that other people that have done this leg have been down to 2 knots and because of distance and fuel conservation they have had to put up with that, so we are doing well. We could not carry the amount of fuel required to motor all the way, we would have jerry cans everywhere. At present I have 14 jerry cans plus the 2 normal tanks that hold 180 litres each. One engine uses around 2.5 litres per hour.
I logged a question in the ships log today. Nancy’s birthday is 4 August. Question, is it Nancy’s birthday today as it is the 4 August in Oz, or is it tomorrow when it is the 4 August here?
I asked Leigh that question on the radio sched, his answer was that I should bake her cake and give her a present on both days. Thanks Leigh, she heard you say that. That’s twice I have been caught out today with Nancy. Leigh did say that he was going to make her a cake when we get to Marquesas.
When I was doing the sat/phone sched with Rick Nancy was out in the sun, I mentioned to Rick about Nancy’s birthday and told him that whilst Nancy was asleep I had gone to the starboard after cabin where I have my computer and made up a birthday card and put some money in it for her to spend when we get to Marquesas. I did not realise that Nancy had quietly come into the saloon and was standing behind me. So much for the surprise.
Getting back to the problem of what day is the birthday, I solved it by giving her the card at midnight on the 3 August here that made it 4 pm on the 4 August in Oz.
Writing just came to an abrupt end. We just passed through a squall then after the wind died. I started to make some sail adjustments as the boat had just about come to a standstill. I released the preventer on the boom that stops it going into an uncontrolled jibe when a large wave rolled in that made the boat lurch and the boom did exactly what the preventer would have stopped. The lazy jacks (ropes) came tumbling down on top of me and the main sail tore along the seam midway between the two reefing points. The sail can still be used in the second reefing position fortunately. It is also a good job that I have a new sail on board that I purchased when I bought the boat.
There is hardly any wind so we are motor sailing, I will deal with the lazy jacks and sail in the morning when it is daylight, I have just tied the lazy jacks up so they do not go over the side and get tangled and have reefed the main to the second reefing point.

04/08/07 1400 hours

Nancy’s extra boobie for her birthday.
When I came on shift this morning at 0400 hours Nancy had a hitch hiker, a bird, a Boobie. It crash landed in the cockpit just after she took the midnight shift. She was not sure whether it was hurt but it had made itself quite comfortable. As soon as daylight arrived the boobie waddled to the back of the boat and flew off, it flew around the boat for a while and another boobie joined it, I think it was a very young bird that was just tired. It did leave Nancy a present in the cockpit that she cleaned up.
There will be no records set today with the wind low and main sail in second reef now permanently until we get to Marquesas. As soon as daylight hit I started repairs, the starboard lazy jack halyard broke off inside the mast so I have used the auxiliary halyard to hoist them back into position which has stopped the bottom half of the main sail from dropping out of the boom bag. It had also damaged some of the lazy jack lines on the port side so I replaced those.
Light winds and heavy swell continues to shake the wind out of the sails this means that at one stage you pick up speed then you drop back knocking your average speed down considerably. It could be worse we could have no wind or major storms so I won’t complain.
As soon as I got things together and could see what the waves were doing in daylight I started to play with the sails to try and get the best out of what we have and shut the engine down to conserve fuel. We are near a third of the way to Marquesas, 2,121 Nms to go.
Did the radio sched with Leigh at 0800 hours, he offered to detour and bring his sewing machine to repair the sail or assist me in putting up the new main sail. His position is 60 Nms north and 10 Nms behind our lead. I thanked him for his offer and said we can put up with it until Marquesas. With the swells that we are experiencing it would be difficult enough to board another boat let alone try and carry out main sail repairs.
Birthday girl is having a well earned sleep, I think it knocked her a little the main sail damage, she is still very nervous about being so far from anywhere and these seas and winds that we are experiencing, there is no place to run to and there is no turning back against these seas. It is daunting for both of us sailing across these open seas.
When Nancy woke she had a nice surprise when checking the satellite phone there were birthday messages from Angela, Amanda, Kai and Bridie, plus others that Rick had received by email. I did leave the Sat/Phone switched on all night but you cannot always hear it ring with the noise of the sea.
It is quite funny that after I left the Navy I had no desire to travel anywhere overseas, I was just happy to travel around Oz. I always feel that we have everything in Oz and it is a lot better than most places I had seen in my previous travels. When Nancy and I got together she expressed that she would love to go overseas, she had never had the opportunity or funds bringing up four daughters by herself. So I took her to Vanuatu for her 50th, I enjoyed it as much as she did, we both enjoy meeting the people more than the sightseeing. We had our plans made then about buying a catamaran and travelling the coast of Australia. It was at Port Villa talking to yachties that had sailed there that Nancy said, may be when we get some experience on the Oz coast we could venture to close by islands even Vanuatu. So when we were joking and laughing about our mishaps today, I said well you wanted to travel overseas, you can’t get more overseas than this. She laughed and said that she would never have thought she would be doing this.
It was also shower day today, yeah I shower every Saturday whether I need it or not. (Old pomie joke). So before I had my shower Nancy got out her new clippers and cut my hair, number two back and sides and number four over the top. She did this in a rolling sea whilst I sat on an upside down bucket in the middle of the cockpit, me trying to balance on the bucket and Nancy trying to balance to cut the hair. She did an excellent job. It is the first time she has done it. Note how trusting I was, it’s two weeks before we get to Marquesas, you know what they say, the difference between a good and bad haircut is about two weeks. However, she did an excellent job and I would be quite proud to go ashore with this haircut now.

05/08/07 – 1230 Hours

The seas and the swell have been much the same, the swell around 3 metres, waves and wind from the southeast and wind strength 15-20 knots. We are averaging 6 to 7 knots with the main sail permanently in 2nd reef position and the Genoa furled just a little.
During my morning watch this morning in the dark I was standing on the port side of the cockpit looking ahead when POW I got hit by a flying fish, they have a very strong fish smell and so does my fowl weather jacket now. They call them flying fish but they do not exactly fly, they glide, their fins are almost as long as their bodies and they use these as wings to glide. The sea is full of them, but I have found a way to stop them jumping out of the water and flying, you get the camera out to take a photo and they stay in the water. Really, I have tried for days, during the mid and late afternoon they jump out of the water as the boat nears them, you grab the camera and they stop put the camera away and they start again. I have a few photos but not what I wanted.
Also this morning at 0745 hours the GPS indicated that we have 2,000 Nms to go, a third of the way, two thirds to go. That’s not bad a third the way in six days; I don’t think we will do as well now that we have damaged the main sail.
Had the radio sched with Leigh this morning, overnight they took the lead from us, they are slightly ahead. I would say they will go well ahead of us over the next few days when you consider he left Galapagos nine hours after us. He is a very experienced sailor and he knows how far he can push his boat we are still learning. He said he may get in a day before us but that will give him time to cook a chocolate cake for Nancy’s birthday. It is good to have the radio scheds it makes you feel that you have company out here.

07/08/07

Did not put pen to paper yesterday, I was too stuffed and it was rough, we had waves up to 4 metres coming in on the port aft quarter as normal but to make things interesting smaller waves are hitting us broad on the beam so you get this rocking from side to side. Most uncomfortable. We have had that now for 48 hours, but it is getting a little better now.
When I did the radio sched with Leigh yesterday he informed me that Creighton’s had contacted him, they had come up behind Leigh during the night and they were about to pass him this morning. I mentioned earlier that Creighton’s left Galapagos just after us and they appeared to drop behind which surprised me. Apparently I caught the wind in the squalls when we left and we were doing well and left them in the calm after the storm. They being such a large boat bobbed around like a cork getting a maximum speed of 4 knots for days. Once the wind picked up they got up and boogied.  Their yacht weighs 65 tonnes.
The incredible part about this is Leigh and Nick are on the same line 60 Nms north of us and getting good winds, we had to motor sail through the night and still have little wind today but we need to get under sail mode only to conserve fuel, we will just have to put up with the slow speed.
Leigh had trouble with his Genoa last night it gained some tears, Leigh said it has been repaired a few times before. He is not doing too badly though he clocked up another 200 Nms yesterday, we did 177 Nms I am pleased with that, we do not have the array of sails that Leigh has or his experience.
Creighton’s did not join the radio sched this morning but Leigh said that he could see them on the horizon ahead of him.
The good wind has disappeared and we started to rock and roll, I tried all sorts of things with the sails to get more speed, got the good books out to see if I could do more. I noticed that the main kept losing wind when we rocked and it was blocking the wind from the Genoa. I dropped the main sail got out a spare rope a fed it through the middle cleat on the starboard side and connected it to the Genoa. I tightened it up with the winch and it pulled the Genoa out further for the tail wind to fill the sail better than it was and we picked up a little more speed than before with both sails up. I got all this finished and it was time to go back on shift, no sleep in that break.
It is shower and washing day today, the showers have small sumps that gets pumped out when you finished your shower. What we do is lift the lid off the sump before you have a shower and put some clothes in to be washed, usually small items like underwear, light tops, and shorts. Whilst you have your shower the sump fills up the movement of the boat helps wash the cloths and when you are finished showering you lift the lid give the cloths a hand wash then rinse them with clean water. That’s how we conserve water.
I have my shower before going on the night shift (2000-midnight); it gives me a new lease in life to get through the shift.

08/08/07

Just started the afternoon shift (1200-1600), the seas continue to test us we have 20 knots wind and a 3-4 metre swell coming from the SSE every 8 seconds, this swell has been constant since the second day out of Galapagos. This type of sea is better handled in monohull rather than catamarans us cats rock a lot. It is even difficult sitting here writing these notes on the pad.
We reached the half way point to Marquesas, there was not any fanfare Nancy was asleep. She can get a full 4 hours if she tries as we put the clocks back an hour at lunch time so she has an extra 30 mins on her break and so do I. We changed the clocks in daylight as it is not as hard to do an extra half hour shift during the day it would be a drag at night. The night shifts are getting tougher at the moment and that is probably that we find it hard to sleep in the day time when off shift and we are very tired during the night hours. This is our tenth day out, we have done well to get half way in this time, we would have to meet the same distance each day to get there in the next ten days, and there is no sure way of doing this. Most do this crossing in around 21 days or longer so we are not expecting to beat these times we don’t know what weather or conditions are going to face us in the next 1520 Nms.
The other added pressure we have is that we are still learning what this boat is capable of and how to get the best performance from her. We have not been disappointed so far, the bouncing around we have been doing is common to catamarans in these type of seas, it is just unfortunate that we picked this time period to cross this stretch of water. The seas we have been sailing in I have seen around the Whitsunday’s and when it was like this there all except two of the tourist day tour boats were cancelled due to the sea height, the only two that were running was “On The Edge” a 65ft Catamaran and “Ragamuffin” a monohull that you have probably heard of before when racing in the Sydney to Hobart.

09/08/07 2030 hours

(Sunrise and unsettled seas)

We have had a very good day after a bad night last night. We had squall after squall, the start of it was just before midnight when a wave broke over the back of the boat, and it must have been quite high because it put water on top of the bimini above me. This was immediately followed by the boat surfing down that wave. I changed course to run with it and reduced sail. Nancy was to come on shift at midnight I checked on her and she was still asleep so I left her there knowing she would not be comfortable dealing with what was out there. She woke about half hour later and came up, things had calmed down a little, but it was still quite wild. She said she would be alright to take the shift and so she did. She gets frightened but she does her share, she said to me, you know I am not as brave as people think I am, I get really scared out here being so far from anywhere.
We were not the only ones to have a bad night Leigh mentioned on the radio sched that he stows his dinghy upside down amidships over a hatch and he always leaves that hatch open for air flow. Last night a wave broke over the boat and found its way through the hatch into the cabin.
But as I said today has been good clear skies and sun shining it makes up for the bad night. Could not raise Leigh on the radio for the sched tonight, not sure whether the skip is running the right way for us or Leigh has slept through it. I did hear a couple of yachties talking and they were way back in the Caribbean.
Tonight we reach a milestone, 3,000 Nms since Panama, we have 1,282 Nms to get to Hiva Oa(in a straight line), and we have completed 4,430 Nms since picking up the boat.

11/08/07 2030 hours

Came on shift half hour ago after the radio sched with Leigh, he could hear us clearly but we could barely hear him. He is nearly two days in front of us now. His array of sails and eleven years experience has really put him ahead. The Maxi Creighton’s is still in front of him but Leigh said they have some problem with the boom vang, that’s the equipment that stops the boom from kicking upwards.
You may have noticed no pen to paper yesterday, I was having a flat day, I was tired and had trouble sleeping. It was not because of high rough seas this time the seas were quite flat but not smooth, we had the usual swell coming from the 120 degrees and in addition we had small waves coming straight onto the beam that just rocked the boat constantly. This has continued all day today and is still with us tonight.
We now have less than 1,000 Nms to go, we are over 2/3rds the way on our 13th day. It has been a big task doing the 4 hours on 4 hours off for 13 days and we have at least another 7 or 8 to go. I was thinking earlier I have not done 4 hours on 4 hours off since unloading the Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) in Vietnam when we unloaded the Army personnel, plant and equipment. That was back in 1966 and I was a lot bloody younger then.
I mentioned to Rick on our phone sched that we had done 3,242 Nms since Panama and 4,683 Nms since the start; he said that we could be near the halfway point of being home in Oz. We will have to work that one out.
Rick does a great job for us getting the info out to family and friends each day through the email system. Thanks mate. Rick is also our mentor; if I have problems I sound him out for ideas. We are still learning, I don’t think you ever stop.
Nancy Jean was having a bit of a flat day today, we missed a call on the sat/phone from Colleen so I suggested she ring her back and have a chat, that would lift her spirits a bit. Nancy rang but no answer. She then rang Amanda and got the real lift she wanted when granddaughter Bridie yelled down the phone, “my Nana Jenks, I love you”. It was good medicine for her.
This trip is a great experience and we are enjoying it but it is hard work at times and it is fun at other times, but this leg is a long one and 21 days takes its toll. We knew this was going to be the hardest part and we were not wrong. Trips of 6 to 8 days is fine, but these big ones I do not know how lone sailors cope. They must like their own company. The hardest part really has been that the seas have been heavy 99% of the time and this restricts what you are able to do around the boat. We have been confined to inside the boat or in the cockpit, going out on the upper deck or to the tramps up front you have to wear the harness for safety and you stand a good chance of getting rather wet. We have a rule that rough weather and night times the person on watch wears the harness and clips on and also wears an inflatable life jacket. The reason for this is that you are up on watch alone whilst the other sleeps. If one should slip and they are not hooked on it could be up to four hours before the other person would know you have gone. When we are both about in the day time it is not so critical unless it is really rough then we both wear the gear if you go out to the cockpit. It is the same as we keep tabs on each other, if we move to a part of the boat where we cannot be seen we let the other know where we are going. I scared Nancy one day, I went out to the mast and did not tell her, she looked around in the cockpit and I had gone. Do you think I copped it in the neck?
It is a good job that we get on so well a trip like this could test a marriage, I have heard other couples that have done trips where the wife is not that fond of the idea, and they have ended up in disaster. I really think this trip has brought us closer together if that was possible. We have to depend on each other here and we need each other to get through the tough times and flat days. Poor Nancy has been terrified at times but she puts on that brave face and says we got to do this. I am proud of her.
I told her I nearly woke her up last night, during my shift we passed a ship going the opposite way, the first ship we have seen at sea since leaving Panama Gulf other than the fishing boat where we got tangled in the line.

12/08/07 2230 hours

I am midway through the night shift. It has been a good day weather wise, could have been a little better for the sailing, we had a tail wind of around 10 knots so that slowed us down a bit. We do not perform that well on a tail wind.
Not good news on the radio sched tonight, Leigh told us that Creighton’s had hit a squall this morning and had ripped their main sail quite badly, they are able to use it at the third reef position only. They had taken the fast run south to 10 degrees longitude and were hoping that they could then tack and head straight for Marquesas, they are not able to and have to tack back and come north before they can head to Marquesas.
The seas are not that big here tonight but they are still uncomfortable, we are doing the rock and rolling trick again. We are getting a few black clouds building up that I am keeping a good eye on, after Creighton’s experience the storm may come through here. I will shorten the sail before Nancy takes the shift, it saves her trying to do it, and it saves me so she does not have to wake me to help her.
Sailing during the night you get to see the stars a lot clearer than you do on land, there is no lights out here to interfere. The thing that has amazed me is the amount of shooting/falling stars, I see up to five per shift. There was one classic one tonight, it was rather a bright star as I looked up you could see it explode on the right hand side the star went flying to the left, and you could see the fragments go to the right. It was quite spectacular. But it is incredible the amount that you can see out here. They say you make a wish when you see them, I haven’t heard from the lottery department as yet, do you think it would help if I bought a ticket?

(The sunrises seas still lumpy)

14/08/07 – 0530 hrs

Did not put pen to paper again yesterday, I did type up a lot of the notes that I had made ready to update the blog when we arrive in Marquesas. Yesterday afternoon close to sunset I was off watch having a sleep when Nancy yelled out “John, John there’s a boat”, I got out and sure enough there was a Japanese fishing boat about a mile off our starboard bow, Nancy had not seen it straight away because it was directly in the glare of the sun. I don’t think they had seen us either as we were on a collision course. I said to Nancy turn to starboard and give them plenty of clearance, they did not see us as we were actually passing them port to port about 100 metres away. There was a bloke on the bow looking over the side and I waved and he did not see me, I called up on the radio and bid them good day and he ran to the wheelhouse to answer me and that is when he noticed us, he thanked me for my good wishes and wished us good luck. This seems to worry me a bit that is the second ship I have made contact with that has wished us good luck. Do they really think we need it, if yes why? Just joking. We watched it pounding into the waves going on the direct opposing course to ours and I should have taken a photo to show you the size of these waves because it would have shown up that way. Taking a photo of the sea itself does not show the true picture. The fishing boats hull at the forward end was a third of the hull out of the water as they went over the waves that may give you some idea. The benefit we have is that we are going with the waves not into them.
We also had a visit from a Noah’s ark (shark) yesterday, he came to investigate what we were I suppose out in his territory, he swam round for a while and then left, and he was about 2 metres in length.
Managed to have a sched with Leigh, very faint signal, he has only 450 Nms to go we have 735 Nms. Creighton’s is still battling with their damaged main sail. I found out they went with the wind south to below longitude 10 degrees when they ran into the squall. They said that the swell is that big they have to stay on a course of 135 degrees which is taking them in the wrong direction, when things settle they will tack back northwards.
We are in our 16th day and although we have got our sleeping patterns in order we are starting to get a bit fatigued, we will be pleased to have this leg behind us. I think what is making things worse is that the winds are not favourable, we are suffering with a near tail wind and that is keeping us at low speeds. We probably would not rock and roll as much if we could get more speed. But that’s the joys of it all.
We have just reached another milestone early this morning; we have passed the half way mark to the Land of Oz we are halfway home. Our journey is estimated as 10,065 Nms give or take for wind direction etc. we have reached the 5,043Nms since we started out.
The day has been quite good in comparison to last night and early hours of the morning. I was supposed to be off watch and resting between 1600 and 2000 hours last night but the seas were so rough I stayed with Nancy and ended up taking over the shift early and letting her rest. She came back on at midnight and I went for a sleep but did not sleep that well. So I am as they say a little stuffed.

15/08/07 – 2300 hours

Nearly the end of my watch and I am ready for a sleep and I am looking forward to it. Early hours of this morning around 0230 hours I awoke and sensed something wasn’t quite right, I went up to the cockpit and poor Nancy had an eventful watch, she had had rain storms and strong winds and now there was no wind at all and we were just about stationary. I said to her to start the port engine and motor, I helped furl the Genoa and went back to bed. Just as I was leaving the cockpit Nancy said, “It’s that magic 0230 hours in the morning again”. Every midnight shift where something has happened where I have had to get out of bed on Nancy’s watch has been 0230 hours in the morning.
I went back on watch a 0400 hours and nothing had changed weather and sea was still performing the same I continued to motor until daylight when I could see what the sea was doing. It is very hard to judge in the black of night when there is no moon or stars out. When daylight came I could see a confused sea, swell from one direction wind and waves from other directions. There was wind so I let more Genoa out and continued to motor sail and we continued to do this through the morning. By lunch time when I came back on watch we were able to shut the engine down and go under sail only.
Had the radio sched with Leigh at 2000 hours he has 120 Nms to go, he should be in Hiva Oaaround lunch time tomorrow. Creighton’s has 200 Nms to go and they should arrive in Hiva Oa on Friday, the tail enders us, will arrive Sunday.
We are very much looking forward to the break; although Creighton’s have had some tough luck like us they do have a crew of seven to share the load. Although we missed out on having extra crew Nancy and I are quite pleased to be by ourselves as we can go about doing things without worrying about someone else.
One good thing about arriving Sunday is that it is the 21st day since leaving the guide book states that if you arrive from a South American country prior to 21 days your boat has to be fumigated at your own cost. Something to do with the Rhino Beetle. I am not sure whether they will enforce this with the other boats. Although talking to Leigh he has not cleared in yet and said that he won’t be until Monday the same time as us. Cunning little bugger.

16/08/07 – 2300 hours

Last hour of the shift. Have you noticed a pattern developing here? I have been writing my notes in the last hour of the shift for a few days now. The reason is it is the longest hour so I can write more. Not really, it is the hardest part of the watch to keep me awake and it makes the hour go faster by doing something.
I have been sitting here listening to Andrea Bocelli, you didn’t know this boy had culture did you? We like all types of music, I am not that big on opera but Andrea has a special voice and he has good music, it suits the night to, we are becalmed after the storms, the seas now have small waves and the night is rather pleasant.
We were only able to fit in one case of about 50 CD’s out of our 6 cases, so we are playing them over and over, we will know all the words by the time we get back to Oz. We have a range of music from the 60’s, 70’s to later type music and more modern music so we have the variety to suit the mood at the time.
Had the radio sched this morning Leigh had 30 Nms to go he could see land that is going to be a good feeling when we get to that position. There is always something special about seeing land when you have been at sea for a while. I know when I was in the Navy it was the same. But the special feeling those days was seeing Sydney Heads, probably because it meant home after months at sea for some of us, but also Sydney Heads is special and the harbour the best I have seen in the world.
This evenings radio sched Leigh said that he arrived around lunch time, the place is very nice the anchorage is good, although will have to use a stern anchor to keep the boat facing the swell. He said there are another six yachts in one of them being another Aussie. Another Aussie in a catamaran had left that morning. He said things are expensive a bottle of beer is about $4 US, I see he has his priorities right, checking the beer prices first. He said one of the yachties had purchase $500 worth of cigarettes in the Panama and sold them in Marquesas for $2,000 and the locals paid a cheap price compared to what they pay locally.
We had read about the prices around the pacific islands that is why we stocked up in the Panama, we will only have to buy fresh goods, and I believe you can buy that from locals out of their gardens and markets.
I was also able to speak with Nick on Creighton’s tonight, he said he is close to the island and will be doing the sunrise tour before entering Hiva Oa. Nick could not speak direct with Leigh so I relayed information from Leigh to Nick regarding anchoring of Creightons. As I have mentioned before Creightons is a Maxi Yacht and it has a 4 metre keel, so they need a drop of water underneath to anchor and deep enough water to get to the anchorage.
All is well with everyone so far, I am sure we will all get together for ale or two when we get into Hiva Oa.

17/08/07 – 2210 hours

Today was a perfect day for sailing for somewhere along the Queensland coast with family and friends aboard with a few bottles of the good stuff, cheese, and seafood platter. We had easterly winds of 9-10 knots blue skies blue seas and they were calm. The problem was that we are not there we are here and trying to get some ground covered. Under these conditions we were making good about 3 knots, makes for a very slow day when you are trying to get to some place. So we had to motor sail all day until 2130 hours the wind picked up and I shut the engine down. We are making good 6-8 knots. We need to average 6 knots to get to Hiva Oa by Sunday lunch time, we cannot expect much else with the direct tail winds we are getting and I am only using the Genoa, if I use the mainsail as well it takes the wind from the Genoa and also puts more weight up top and when the waves hit from the side it causes the boat to rock more and shake the wind out of the sails resulting in less speed. So sometimes less sail can make you go faster.
Although we had the calm conditions today it was good in the sense that we could move around and do things which we were unable to do in the rough conditions. We did a fair bit of maintenance work, tightening screws here and there especially where the boom is anchored to the mast. The boat has taken a good pounding over the last few weeks. Did some repairs and maintenance on the engines, repaired some damaged ropes and Nancy had the opportunity to shed the gear and sunbake on the tramps up front which she has not been able to sun bake on the trampolines since first day out of Panama because of the rough seas and weather.
Doing all the work was well timed because it was also shower and washing day. I checked the water levels beforehand and we had about a third of the second tank left, we still have four jerry cans of general water spare and we have nearly 50 US Gallons (180 litres approx), of drinking water.
Leigh is still running the radio sched morning and night to make sure that we are OK. He said on tonight’s sched that Creighton’s anchored around lunchtime today. He said they are having trouble getting money out of the ATM’s with Visa cards. I had read about that before leaving Oz and applied for a MasterCard just in case. However, we have drawn cash out at Galapagos that should see us through. It is handy not getting in first as everyone finds out all the info for you.
Although we are looking forward to a break when we get in we have quite a lot of work to do. First we have to replace the mainsail with the new one and repair the old one just in case. Service the engines, check the propellers out for any remaining fishermen lines, and replace the Genoa furling line that has frayed. The boat is filthy and crusted with salt so that has to be scrubbed inside and out including giving the hull a scrub, then replenish with fuel and water which has to be achieved by jerry cans in the dinghy nearly 1,000 litres of water, 280 litres of fuel and then the fresh provisions.
Now I can see why I have lost a bit of weight, manual labour done daily instead of sitting behind a desk or as a retired person sitting in front of a TV. That is one of the reasons I did this boating thing besides the adventure, stimulation and outright enjoyment. Well talking about weight I might go and make a cup of Milo and grab some biscuits Nancy baked today for the last hour of my watch.

(The sunsets)

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19/08/07 – 0530 hours

At the first glimpse of daylight there is a ghostly grey landfall, we are 28 Nms from the port at Hiva Oa. It is very cloudy and rain is approaching. Nancy had rain storms through her watch. At the moment there is hardly any wind now that we are so close I have started the engine and we will motor in. Now that it is daylight I can start preparing for anchoring and get the boat tidied up a little. I furled the Genoa and started to put the sheet and halyards in their securing areas. Checked out the spare anchor because we need to put a stern anchor out when we get in to face the boat into the swell so we will be more comfortable.

(Early morning view of our destination, Hiva Oa)

(A rainbow welcomes us, pointing to the place where we are going)

(Incredible steep Island)

 (A bird checks us out)

(Heading towards the port)


Nancy has just got up and looking at the land it is rugged volcanic land and has a certain beauty about it, may be because we haven’t seen land for a while. There is a massive storm behind us and approaching. As we approach the first waypoint between a small island and the entrance into the bay it pours rain and we have white out. You cannot see land, visibility is about 100 metres. I turned the boat around and went back out to sea, it is impossible to enter port under these conditions when you don’t know the area. As soon as a break comes in the weather I start another approach, there is more rain coming up behind us, so I hoped that we could beat it in to port and we did but we still got drenched whilst anchoring.

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(The white plastic bottle is the location of our stern anchor and the beach behind us)

(Safely anchored Mi Querida over to the right.)

Just after we anchored Leigh and Jenny came alongside in their dinghy, they had been ashore and were going back on board and detoured our way, they had seen us coming in and had bought some flowers for Nancy and said this is for the birthday girl. They invited us over for dinner in the evening, they said they know that it would save us and we could have an early night and get some rest.
We went over for dinner and we had some laughs talked about the different experiences we had and the things that went wrong during the journey. We got back on board and we crashed. We are going into town in the morning to clear in and have a look around.

(Chart showing our and Leigh’s track and where our sail got damaged and Creightons sail damaged)


I believe that there is one internet cafe with one computer and it is slow so we can only hope we can get this through and update the blog.

Marquesas, Hiva Oa, French Polynesia

20/08/07 Monday Hiva Oa

(Atuona the village is about 4 kilometres from the harbour)


We went into town with Leigh and Jenny to clear in. The people are very friendly here and to get to town is a 25 minute walk but most of the time you do not have to walk, put your thumb out and a local will give you a lift. When we got to the Gendarmes Office Leigh said you go in first and when they ask us when we got in we can say just before you and we won’t be telling lies. We went in and fortunately a young lady could speak English as the young male gendarme could not. She told us that we had to go to the bank and pay our bond of US$1,200 per person unless we had an airline ticket. We produced our return tickets that we had to have to travel to St Lucia and we did not have to pay the bond and clearing in was quite painless, we filled out a form they signed that and our passports and we were on our way, the only other thing we had to do was post a copy of the form to Tahiti at the Post Office. Leigh was not so lucky, he had to pay the bond, plus the other problem was that Jenny is South African and she has to have a Visa. They treat South Africans as aliens and this is the case for most places. She applied for the Visa for here in Panama but it was going to take months to come through. Leigh cannot clear in until Jenny is cleared because she is his crew.
After Leigh and Jenny did all they could to start the process of clearing in which is far from finished, Leigh took us on a guided tour of the town, we bumped into the crew off Creightons and also met another Aussie yachty, Cameron he hasn’t been back to Oz for eight years, he spent a lot of time in England and has a Scottish girlfriend with him along with her son. He is quite a character, he has not cleared in yet, and he has been here two weeks. He has to bludge a lift ashore from one of us because someone stole his dinghy in a previous port and he cannot buy one here.

(Creightons crew, Nick the skipper orange cap and on his right the skipper of Timella)

The township is not very big the population is around 1,500. Everything is expensive here and other than the shop owners and dockside workers I am not sure how people here earn a living. However, they all appear to have money they drive around in good vehicles and live in nice homes. There does appear to be quite a few flights in and out of here, two, or three per day, not large planes about the same size that go to Dubbo about 40 seats.
The internet is in the post office and as I mentioned prior that it is very slow, that  slow it is almost going backwards. We could not get it to work for us and we could not seem to get any assistance to make it any better. It is not that they do not want to help but I think this technology is a little beyond the lady that runs the post office. The other problem is that the internet there is a keyboard and screen; there is no way to connect the message stick or a disc to copy your info to or from. The lady at the post office told Leigh that the resort up the hill has Wifi. So we decided to go back on board have lunch then I could grab my laptop and we go up to the resort and see if we can use their Wifi. It was a long steep walk up to the top of the hill, more like a mountain and unfortunately all the vehicles that passed us were going the wrong way so we did not get a lift.
We got on to their Wifi, 500 francs per 15 mins which is about $8, it is slow in operation, but it works. We had a quick check of our emails and handed the computer over to Leigh and Jenny for them to sort out their problems so that they can clear in. We relaxed and had a few beers, you don’t have too many beers either at the price you pay, about $22 for four cans of beer.

(The resort ‘Hanakee Pearl Lodge)

(This shows how high it is, the hill is a killer to walk)

We asked if we could come back tomorrow to use the Wifi and they said no worries, their meals are quite reasonably priced there so we may go and have lunch. So hopefully we will get our blogs up and running tomorrow.
The place is very beautiful, the backdrop being a mountain that is usually covered in cloud looks like it was a main volcano in the past, and when it erupted has blown out at one side. Our anchorage is also very nice, it has the swell coming in from the sea but with the stern anchor holding us bows in to the swell it is comfortable 99% of the time.

(The mountain from the harbour)

We may travel down to the next island for a day and clean the bottom of the boat, they are dredging here, and that is stirring a bit of mud around and makes it hard to check the boats bottom. We will also have to start our chores the day after tomorrow Leigh is going to help me with the changing of the mainsail and repair to the old one, I will help him on his boat in return. There is a water tap shower and toilet ashore on the waterfront so each time we go ashore I take the four jerry cans and fill them with water and commenced filling our tanks.
We will also call in at a few of the islands between here and Tahiti, we are led to believe that some are more beautiful than here. I think we have also now come to the realization that we are not going to get the boat back to Oz before the end of the cyclone season. If we left here and went flat out we would make it prior to the season but by doing that we would not see some of these beautiful places. Leigh said to us tonight, it would be a shame to miss these places, you will never come back this way again because it is too difficult to sail against the trade winds. He said fly back to Oz to go to the wedding and christening and come back hold up in a cyclone sheltered area and finish the trip after cyclone season.
We will now have to research some of the places to find a safe cyclone shelter where we can hold up for the cyclone season and then plan our trip from that. This will also be the place that I do the major repairs to the starboard gearbox and any other items that need repair.
As I said to Nancy we don’t have to be anywhere other than those mentioned engagements so there is no rush to get the boat to Oz other than we want to sail around the Aussie coastline. So we will see what we come up with.

21/08/07 – Tuesday night

We were that beat last night Nancy was in bed by 2000 hours and I was not long after, I stayed up a little longer to charge the batteries and get the photos downsized for the blog. Trouble was by going to bed early I was awake ready to go on watch at the magical hour of 0130. Fortunately as I got up it poured down rain and I was able to rush round and close hatches, Nancy also woke up mainly because she had the large hatch open above our bed and the rain drops hit her. I was making a Milo so she thought she would have one too. She got on the computer and started updating the info for her blog. By 0330 hours I said we had better go back to bed.
We got out of bed around 0700 hours had breakfast then a shower and got ready to go shopping at 0830 hours. We hitched a ride into town, I say hitched we were walking and the person stopped to give us a lift, they know we are yachties. We went to see the lady in the ute that sells veggies, we bought a bit of gear and loaded up my bag, Leigh was still doing battle with the bank trying to access his money for his bond without a great deal of success, he now has to get his bank to wire the money across, I think the problem is that his card is only a credit card and not tied to a savings account even though he has $5,000. of his money on the card.

The lady that pulled up to give us a lift could not take all four so I said I would continue walking and let the others get the ride, well the lady was co-owner of the resort. I managed to get a lift by the next car, anyway the next time we went to the lodge she saw us and bought me a beer on the house and she said I hope that makes up for not being able to give you a lift.
We went back on board with our groceries and another load of water. Every time we go ashore I take the four jerry cans to fill with water, we have nearly filled the starboard tank. I am also collecting the rain water and putting that into the tank.
We had early lunch then hiked up to the resort to use their internet Wifi to update our blogs. Nancy had trouble downloading hers and there are no pictures on hers as a result. The problem was that it was raining heavily and that cuts down the radio signal. She being the story teller has only completed half the text so there is more to come from her for the journey we have completed. The girls at the resort are very friendly and don’t mind these non resident yachties dropping in and using the facilities. We did buy drinks and a sandwich, plus pay the high price of the internet Wifi use.

(The views from the resort)

(Nancy and I with a friend that wood knot talk)

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(Inside the resort, reception and bar)

(Leigh trying to sort out his and Jenny’s problems on my laptop)

(The sign for the toilets, female, disabled and male)

(This little gecko came from the roof and splat on the floor, stayed there getting it’s breath for a while before moving on) 

Computer and internet technology is not big here, shops do not have computers, and I have not seen anywhere that has computers for sale. The only place I have seen a computer is the bank the internet unit at the post office and the one at the Pearl Resort. The unit at the post office is out of order; the only option open is the resort.
We have received messages on the sat phone, thanks to those that have called, we are having a problem there, with the cloud cover the sat phone cuts out. I was going to try Skype today, we got all the way up the mountain to the resort, and yes DH John had forgotten the headset.
We will have better facilities when we get to Tahiti, I hope.
Well it was not an exciting day to tell you much, but we did enjoy the walk up the mountain we went a short cut that took us through areas of local residents, small one track roads. One thing that is amazing is the chooks, there are chickens running wild here, and they are everywhere, hens with chicks, and the cocks prancing around

22/08/07 – Hiva Oa

Today was work day, first went ashore to get the laundry picked up, get another four jerry cans of water and threw my back out a little so that gave me curry all day. Nancy started cleaning inside the boat and I started to do some repairs. I replaced the Genoa furling line, unfortunately the spare rope I had was too short so I had to join another ten metres to it. Then I removed the broken lazy jack line from inside the mast that had jammed when I tried to remove it earlier, it had been trapped with one of the halyards. Then the big job, Leigh came over with sewing machine and we removed the mainsail and commenced restitching the torn seams. Leigh said to me when we were pulling the mainsail down, “I can understand why you didn’t want to do this at sea”. It is not as easy as his monohull, this sail is huge. The repair to the sail was a three person job, rolling the sail as tight as possible to feed it through the sewing machine. We knocked off at 1730 hours and had a beer. We then moved anchorage, not sure if we were moving slightly on the anchor or not but we appeared to be getting closer to our stern anchor. Could have been imagination but it is best to be safe. Hate to wake up in the morning on the beach.

(Leigh and I repairing our mainsail on the foredeck)

Tonight we are going over to Creightons they have invited us over for dinner, we will pick Leigh and Jenny up on the way, save Leigh rowing. He rows everywhere, he does not own an outboard motor. He reckons the oars start first pull every time.

(Creightons anchored outside the protection of the harbour  because of the depth and the size of their keel)

Leigh is coming back in the morning he reckons that we may as well put some stitches in the other seams in case the problem was caused through UV weakening the stitching. He said to leave the new sail where it was, the mainsail might get a bit of flogging going downwind we might as well flog the old sail rather than the new one.
Well that’s it for today, we are off to dinner in our shorts and shirt and bare feet, that’s the yachties dress of the night and most other times. I’ll just grab a bottle of red and a couple of beers and we’ll be off.

23/08/07 – Hiva Oa – Working day.

Last night we had dinner on Creightons they had invited the other yachties over as well as ourselves, it was quite a good night, Nick cooked dinner with some assistance from Sam, and she served us Champagne on arriving. We left just after eleven o’clock I believe it kicked on to 0130 hours this morning. Needless to say Creightons did not sail today as planned.
The other Aussie here Cameron and Scottish partner Sharon and her son Lewis are leaving tomorrow, Sharon is quite nice she made donuts this afternoon and sent them around to all the yachts, she’s not bad on the optic nerve either, takes a bit of understanding when she gets excited with the Scottish accent. Cameron has been here for two weeks and has not cleared in I think it is because they have not got the funds to pay the bond. They could get into serious trouble if they got caught. It is totally surprising that the authorities have not said something to him, this place is not very big and he would be the biggest bloke on the island, he’s well over six foot tall.

(Leigh loaned Timella his dinghy so Lewis here is taking Jenny back to Mi Querida)


Most times when you clear in the authorities want to know where you have come from, when you left, and how long it has taken to get there. If you have extended time you have to explain why and they may check your log book. Cameron does have a slow boat so he may get away with it. It took them fifty three days to get here from Galapagos, under sail he travels around 2.5 knots, I was complaining when we were not getting 5 knots. No doubt at his speed we will see him again along the way.
Well today was another working day, Leigh came over and finished stitching our mainsail, gave all the seams that we could get to on his machine a re-stitch. We then put the sail back up. After lunch we went ashore and walked up the mountain again to use the Wifi at the resort. The internet at the post office has not worked since we have been here. We updated the blog and Leigh and Jenny had to use my laptop to chase their official stuff because they cannot clear in until Jenny has her paperwork in order. She has difficulty everywhere because being South African.
We had Leigh and Jenny over for dinner tonight which was most enjoyable, I think we were all tired, they left early and the light on their boat did not stay on for long, Nancy went to bed straight away, I have to stay up for a while to run the engine to top up the batteries so the fridge and freezer keeps going through the night.
All in all we had a big day and I think I may now shut down the diesel and turn in myself.

24/08/07 – Hiva Oa – Another work day

Leigh came over first thing this morning he had to do a sail repair for Cameron before they left so he picked up his sewing machine and gear that was still on our boat. He said he would come over and help me with replacing the lazy jack line that broke off inside the mast when the sail ripped open.
I transferred some water into our tanks then some fuel by the time I had finished that Leigh had come over for a coffee before we got into replacing the lazy jack. We got the fishing line with a small sinker, the bosun’s chair and replacement rope for the lazy jack, untied the main topping line attached the bosun’s chair and Leigh hoisted me to the top of the mast. It was a rough ride in places as the boat started rocking from side to side with the swell and with the addition of my weight up there increased the distance of rocking at one stage I was shaken loose from the mast and was swinging free bouncing into the shrouds. Finally I got in position and fed the fishing line in, we had sewn the fishing line to the replacement rope so as soon as Leigh was able to pull out the fishing line from the foot of the mast I fed the rope in, and all went quite well and easy to my surprise. So my new bosun’s chair and I got christened going up the mast for the first time.

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(Me going up the mast to replace the lazy jacks,
I hate going up here but it has to be done now and again. French courtesy flag flying)

After lunch young Dave from Creighton’s came over and loaded the copy of electronic charts on my laptop computer, so I have charts for most of the world. After this we went into town to do a bit of sightseeing, we went to the cemetery to see the graves of Paul Gauguin the painter and Jacques Brel the composer. We were going to the Gauguin Museum but we were too late as it closed early on Fridays. We did a little shopping then headed back on board for beer o’clock.
When we got back ‘Timella’ Cameron and Sharon’s boat was still there so we called by in our dinghy on the way to our boat and invited them over for a beer. They decided to stay as the weather was a little rough out at sea and they will get another report tomorrow to see if things are better. Their yacht is a tri-bilge-keel, ferro-cement hull and their speed through the water is about 2.5 knots, this is very slow. It took them fifty three days to get from Galapagos to here, we took twenty one days we were expecting anything up to twenty eight days, and fifty three days is a long time.
After beer o’clock Leigh and Jenny invited us over ‘Mi Querida’ for BBQ chicken dinner so we went over to there and got home quite tired at 2130 hours.
Tomorrow we are going on a hike to see some waterfall and pick some fresh fruit that grow wild in the bush.

25/08/07 – Hiva Oa – Social day

This morning I cut a CD for Sharon on ‘Timella’, Robin Williams doing the Scottish act of inventing golf, I had shown it to her last night, and she asked if I could get her a copy. After I did that I gave them our boats card and Sharon asked if we could email photos of Lewis (her son) that Nancy had taken. Cameron asked if I could send any photos of Hiva Oa as their camera had broken, so I went back and cut another disc for them. They are running to a tight budget at the moment, Cameron is going to return to Oz to get work, as he says to pay for his life style. That what I have mentioned before the yachties that are out cruising many have no permanent income they get work when and where they can to pay for the repairs, maintenance or the next leg of the trip. Anyway I took that over to them and they were very grateful. They did sail today and I was able to get some more photos of them that I will email to them. After that I returned some ropes to Leigh and had a coffee with him and we then all got ready for our hike.

(Timella crew, Sharon, Cameron and Lewis)

We packed our lunch and drinks (water and fruit juice), and set off. The track was muddy most of the way and slippery but we first reached the creek and then up to some rock carvings. We then doubled back to another turn off for the waterfall and came to a dam where it looks like they draw town water, not a very large one I might add. We went back to the creek crossing and after that took another track walk for a couple of kilometres and found another dead end. So we decided that we could not find the waterfall we would go back to the creek crossing and have a swim there and have lunch. After lunch and a relax we set off to come back on the way we picked giant grapefruit, one very large stalk of bananas that Leigh and I had to carry, lemons and guavas which is like a soft pomegranate. When we got back we were rather bushed, I jumped in the sea to refresh myself followed by a shower and a cup of tea. I was just about flaked on the lounge when the radio sounded, it was Leigh wanting to know if tomorrow was good for the tour and would I organise it, so we got him to take me ashore and phoned up to arrange it. Whilst we were discussing it on the radio another boat an American couple asked if they could do the tour with us, we agreed as this will cut the cost down for us all.
Tonight we are having a quiet night and I would say an early night.

26/08/07 – Hiva Oa – Tiki Tour

Last night was a bit of a shocker weather wise around 2300 hours we had a rain storm hit all the boats in the bay were doing a dance, close to the full moon we had spring tides and a large swell. I got up a number of times to check both anchors and at one time I noticed the whip aerial for the HF radio appeared to be loose where the two sections joined so around midnight I am pulling down the aerial so that I do not lose it over the side. It appears that during the rough seas we experienced the section worked lose and has flogged out the brass thread. So I repaired that this morning and put it back up.
I had time to have my shower and shave and it was time to go ashore for our tour across the other side of the island to see the Tiki, we left just before 1000 hours and we arrived at the village at 1215 hours, the trip was over the mountains through winding roads and dirt track. We did stop along the way to pick and eat fruit, take pictures and look at the scenery. We packed a lunch and had that before going to see the Tiki’s. Many tribes had their Tiki’s in the gone by days but most were destroyed by the missionaries. The main Tiki needed human sacrifice to give him mana, (power). The tribesmen would go hunting for someone from a neighbouring tribe for that sacrifice. The sacrifice was not pleasant, the victim had a large hook through under the jaw and was hung this way still alive then his stomach was cut open and the insides removed. These were the days of cannibalism.
The stone platforms in the photos had bamboo and palm leaf structures over them in their day. The one place was the Tattoo room, there is a dish like stone bowl left front of the picture that with water in it was the mirror, the stone bowl to the right had the ink for the tattoo.

(Inside the Tiki village)

(This is the only Tiki village remaining, the christian s destroyed all the others) 

(This is where the remains of tribes were buried in the caves in the hill)

Then their is the meeting place where the tribe would discuss whether they go hunting for one of the other tribe or go fishing. If it was decided that they would go and do one or the other, the men would go to the men’s hut, and the women would go to the women’s hut for seven days, then they would go off and do that selected task and on their return they would go back to their women.
There is the funeral place where they lie the body of a dead tribes person, they are left there and they would be rubbed in coconut oil until the skin and the flesh was removed from the bones, they would then place the bones in the banyan tree on the hill or inside a cave for the final resting place.

(This is the bay where the Tiki village is located)

(Many of the islands we have been to have chooks roaming the streets)

Joe our guide then picked a heap of fruit from the trees there for us to bring back, we got back a little bushed and came back on board had a coldie and sat here to type the notes for the blog. I don’t think we will be doing much more tonight.

27/08/07 – Hiva Oa

Another day that was spent doing a few jobs here and there. Leigh had given me some tips on rigging a preventer that would be kinder on ropes, the ones that I had used previous was total makeshift using the centre cleat as a block that was hard on the ropes. Leigh was able to give me a snatch block and two large single blocks and one small single block. I set up the snatch block on the foot of the mast to be used for the outhaul and both reefing lines. This snatch block can be easily and quickly removed for any other application. I used shock cord (bungee cord), to support the snatch block off the deck so it does not bang on the surface. I then installed a new preventer for the boom, run it to the mast for easy access, I then used a short piece of nylon rope sliced a large eye in one end to secure to the centre cleat and a small eye in the other to attach a single block installed onto the cleat and used shock cord to hang it on the guard rail. In future when I need to use the preventer on the boom I can grab the line from the mast run it through this single block at the centre cleat and back to the cockpit and operate it from one of the winches. This will make life a little easier.
I will be using the other single block in a similar way for the Genoa, this will hold the Genoa out further during tail winds as I did getting here but again will not fray the ropes as it did.
We then started the carting of fresh water which will have to continue tomorrow, the tanks are nearly full just a little way to go. We had to quit and have a bite to eat before climbing the mountain road to the resort to update our blog and Leigh and Jenny needed to check where their paperwork was up to through their emails. They have to use my laptop as Leigh has a desk top on his boat.
We had to be back before 1730 hours as we had been invited to sundowners on an American yacht belonging to Jerry and Sherry. We had an enjoyable time over there, Jerry is a retired doctor, an Urologist and became a Professor and was a lecturer in a university. They are heading to New Zealand for the cyclone season before going to Australia. We may have to do the same. We have studied a few books and there aren’t any real cyclone holes between here and New Zealand. The only hope was to haul out and tie down but Leigh informs us that the only places that does that he has been trying to book since March and he received an email yesterday stating that he was put on a waiting list, however, they make sure that their regular clients have preference. So we may have to fly back to Oz from wherever we get to near the end of October attend the wedding and christening that we are going to and then fly back and do a dash to NZ. Then after cyclone season head north to see some of the places we missed and bring the boat to Oz. Not all confirmed yet but it is one option we are looking at.

28/08/07 Moving from Hiva Oa to Tahuata Island

First thing this morning we started getting ready to move, we started by filling the water tanks from the three buckets of rain water that we collected, and then I went ashore and did the run back and forth filling jerry cans to fill the tanks. Once this was complete we got ready to go into town to do some shopping. We had rather a large shop and the shop owner asked if we had a car, I told him I was going to get a taxi, he then offered to run us back to the dock in his truck. Once back on board we stowed the groceries away had a bite of lunch then we walked up the mountain to the resort to check our emails. Went back on board lifted both anchors and sailed for Baie Hanamoenoa which is a bay on the lee side of Tahuata. It took just over an hour to get there. Once we had anchored a second time, the first we had difficulties, we went over to Leigh’s yacht for dinner, Cameron, Sharon and Lewis on Timella were anchored in the bay and they also came to dinner. Cameron’s yacht has got flat batteries and there has not been any sun to charge them with the solar panels.
It is a bit calmer in this bay but there are very strong winds so I did get up a few times through the night to check the anchor was holding. The main reason for coming here is to give the boats bottom a bit of a clean before heading south to Tahiti, we will go back to Hiva Oa for one night, check emails update blog, final shop buy some fuel, top up again with water.
The sailing out of Hiva Oa to Tahuata was somewhat rough, we had to sail against the swell that we had experienced on the way in, and then when going between the two islands it was like being in a washing machine; it will be fun sailing back through it when we go back.

29/08/07 – Baie Hanamoenoa, Tahuata Island 

This bay is more comfortable than Hiva Oa although the winds are very strong and test the security of your anchoring, it is a very pretty place nice beach and has some coral for snorkeling and catching fish if you have a spear gun. I have not had the time to investigate these as yet I hope to get there after I have finished the chores.

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(Alana Rose, Mi Querida and Timella)


The first thing on the agenda was to clean the cockpit area and the back of the boat and then the boats bottom, the tide was going out and the wind was very strong so I rigged a line from fore to aft and then attached another line with a bowline that I could hang onto in the water and stop myself from being dragged by the wind and tide, this was not so easy on the inside of the hulls but I started at the front and had to work very fast as the tide was carry me from fore to aft. The bottom was not as bad as I thought it would be, it was only around the tops of the rudders that had the barnacles. Once that was cleaned off I did some rope work I made up a couple of spare slings for the snatch block and preventer in case we should need them in a hurry, this involved back splicing two eyes in each length of rope. We had lunch and then Nancy went to the beach with Jenny and Sharon, after dropping Nancy at the beach in the dinghy I went over to see how Cameron was going pulling his batteries. He said before he pulled the batteries out is there anyway of testing the starter as he feels there is enough life in the batteries to kick the engine over. I went back to get my multi meter tested the starter and found that the batteries were OK the starter was not. So I helped pull the starter motor out, we left Cameron with one bolt to come out and when he got that out he found that the earth strap on the motor was broken through so it is not as bad as it could have been.

(The beautiful beach)

We had invited everyone over for dinner and Nancy had been working most the afternoon in preparing a nice dinner and desert. I picked Cameron, Sharon and Lewis up from their boat as they do not have a dinghy as it was stolen and Leigh and Jenny rowed their dinghy over and we had a very nice dinner a few drinks and a few good laughs. I took them back to their boat and we turned in for a good night sleep.

30/08/07 – Baie Hanamoenoa, Tahuata Island

Today was more of a relax day, checked on “Timella” the starter motor has been repaired and all is well after a couple of other little problems, so Cameron, Sharon and Lewis will be sailing tomorrow for the Cook Islands. I went for a swim and checked and cleaned some of the under water fittings, they had barnacles growing inside of them. We had smoko and Sharon and Jenny came for coffee. When Sharon was going back she stepped in the dinghy and slipped and may have broken her toe, she was in much pain and out of action for the rest of the day.

(Paradise)

In the afternoon we went into the beach for a swim came back on board and just relaxed, we took some food over to Leigh’s and had dinner on his yacht. Came home about 2130 hours and went straight to bed. Tomorrow we head back to Hiva Oa, top up with water again do the last of the shopping, check the emails and then decide when and where we go to next. Leigh wants to go to Futa Hiva which would mean beating against the wind and waves, we are not that keen to do that, but will see. We have sent some emails to a couple of places to keep the boat whilst we fly to Oz in October so everything will depend on their answers if we have them tomorrow.

01/09/07 – Back at Hiva Oa

We had an interesting day today with a morning of stuff-ups. With this anchorage I often wake up a number of times during the night and check that stern and main anchor are holding and through the night all appeared well. When I woke up around 0530 hours I looked out the port hole in our cabin and I was looking at the wrong side of the harbour. I shot up on deck to find the neighbouring yacht and ourselves had turned around. I went to the stern anchor rope, I could see the float was still in the same position so I started to pull the anchor rope in and found that the shackle had let go. So in a mad rush to get the stern anchor secure again and still being half asleep I lowered the dinghy into the water got in to unhook  it from the davit and as I unhooked the second fastening a wave rolled in sending the dinghy away from the stern of the boat and with me sitting on the boat side of the davit slammed me into the davit tossing me overboard. Unfortunately as I went backwards into the water my glasses came off I tried to grab them but missed and they went to the bottom. When I got back on board I grabbed the dinghy anchor attached a plastic bottle to the line and  dropped it over the side where I thought the glasses would be. Fortunately I had brought my old pair of glasses as I always do when I travel anywhere just in case something did happen to the main pair.
Leigh rowed over to see why the boat was facing the other way and I told him about my mishap, he said he would bring his dive gear over after breakfast and see if he could retrieve my glasses. I said I thought there would be little hope with the surge of the water and the tide flow. But he said we will give it a try.
I then went a retrieved the stern anchor by lifting it by the float line, I was pleased I had put that float on otherwise I would have to dive for it. I connected the rope and reset the stern anchor, I was hoping that when my stern anchor let go that I had not taken the other yachts stern anchor out when we swung around. After checking I could see his stern anchor float right along side the opposite side of his boat so I knew then that I hadn’t. Talking to the owner later he said that he had a sleepless night worried about his stern anchor because it is very small and he was a little shocked when he got up to see that he had dragged his stern anchor.
Leigh came over with his compressor and diving gear a systematically swept the bottom in search of my glasses but after 3 hours we said it was not going to happen. He said that he was disappointed because he hates to fail. I offered him payment for his time he looked at me and said no I am doing this for a mate. He said that I had helped him with the use of the laptop climbing the hill with him and helping with the internet. I told him that I thought with all that he has done for me I think I am well in front. As he would not take payment I invited them to have dinner with us at the resort, it would be a nice way to finish the day. We could give them a ring and ask for them to send the courtesy car and pick us up at 1700 hours, go and have pre-dinner drinks check emails then have dinner. We did this and it was a very enjoyable evening. Leigh kept saying I am sorry I did not get your glasses mate. He said he may try again, I told him not to bother they are long gone. I can survive with the spare pair. I may add I got into trouble from Nancy for not having my glasses secured on my head with the straps that she bought. The bloody things are annoying, but I had better get used to them I think.
We spent the afternoon carting water for Leigh and myself and topped the water tanks up on each yacht, we will top them up again before we leave on Monday or Tuesday. Leigh is going to head for Fatu Hiva an island that is south-east of here, we will head for Tahiti via Tuamotu atolls. We would like to go to Fatu Hiva but neither of us are that keen to beat against the south-east swell and wind to get there. We will meet up with Leigh in Tahiti again hopefully, if not there Raiatea. Leigh is hauling out and flying back to Oz for the cyclone season at Raiatea, We will carry on to Bora Bora and then make up our minds where we will put the boat before we fly home for the wedding. The choice may be a dash to NZ, fly home from there, have a month in Oz and fly back and sail around NZ for the hurricane/cyclone season and head back to the islands of Tonga or Fiji after that season and complete the journey seeing more places on the way. Decisions, decisions. The beauty of it all is that we do not have a time limit other than get out the hurricane/cyclone areas before they become active. I think I like retirement.

03/09/07 – Last night in Hiva Oa

We spent the final day doing last minute shopping for supplies, carting more water, getting the boat ready for another leg of the trip and as you know going up the mountain to the resort to update the blog and to say farewell to the staff who have been very good to us. One of the staff that has been very friendly, Nuccia gave Nancy and Jenny a necklace a couple of days earlier and Nancy reciprocated by giving her a necklace from San Blass, Nuccia had a large box of fruit from her garden for us to take with us. We said our goodbyes and went back on board. Leigh asked us over again for dinner for our last night.  We had a fare few laughs and said our goodbyes as Leigh and Jenny was heading to Fatu Hiva and then some of the atolls on the eastern side of Tuamotus, we were heading straight for Rangiroa the western side of the Tuamotus. I said I was sure he would catch us up on the way to Tahiti or Bora Bora. We have become good friends and long term friends I am sure. Leigh is a very nice bloke he is very helpful to anyone that needs a hand. He said he likes helping us because we return the favours where we can but mostly because we are doing what we are doing. We have jumped in feet first and learning on the way and that was the way he started and he had to ask for help then and learn from more experienced sailors so he feels that he is returning the favours that he had received from others at that time.

(Two of the staff with Jenny and Nancy, the young lady on the right is the one that gave Nancy the necklace and the box of fruit from her garden)

Leigh is a big practical joker and gives Jenny his crew member a hard time. Jenny early one morning at Tahuata went for a skinny dip, she placed a towel and her cloths by the ladder on the side of the yacht, when she finished her swim the cloths, and the ladder had gone. He takes every opportunity to stir her and Jenny just laughs after going crook at him. Jenny has to find another yacht after Raiatea as Leigh will be hauling his boat out on the hard for the cyclone season and flying back to South Oz. She has told Leigh that she will be available if he wants crew when he returns next year. They are both good people.
Whilst we were having dinner another catamaran arrived and anchored behind us, they were also Aussies, to blokes, had bought the cat in the States, and were taking her home, one being the crew member had to return to Oz next weekend so the skipper/owner was looking for crew. The cat was an Admiral 38, “Blue Nowhere” another South African built boat with the same designers as our “Alana Rose”. We did not get chance to catch up with them before we left because they had headed into town early.

Hiva Oa to Archipel Des Tuamotu and Rangiroa 2007

04/09/07 – Underway again.

Got up and did the final checks, we were not in a great hurry to leave so we had a leisurely breakfast and did a final water run making sure that we had plenty of water. We retrieved the stern anchor and then hauled up the dinghy and at 0945 hours we weighed anchor, Leigh had done the same and he led the way out of Hiva Oa. Once in open water we both set the sails, there was a good breeze and we were off, Leigh headed south-east and we headed south-west as we started to lose sight of each other Leigh called up on the radio and wished us well as we did him. We headed between Hiva Oa and Tahuata islands it was not as rough as it was when we went to the bay to clean the bottom at Tahuata the week before, it was good sailing and we were going about 7 to 8 knots. Going passed Tahuata the wind dropped in places due to the wind being shielded by the mountains, we just enjoyed the view as we slowly sailed past. Once away from the island we picked up to 8-9 knots but as the day drew on the wind died and we were down to 6 knots.

(Leigh in the distance as we leave Hiva Oa)

(Through the passage between the two islands)


At 1745 hours we had the radio sched, Leigh was just arriving at Fatu Hiva, he was a mile out of the bay, and had to go and get ready to anchor, he said the bay looked beautiful. We talked to Cameron on Timella, he said they had made good time with the winds that he was having, he was going around 6-7 knots which is really good for his yacht. We will be having the radio scheds daily at 0830 and 1745 hours Hiva Oa local time. This ensures that contact is made and we each know that everyone is safe.

05/09/07 – Second day out, good winds gone

During the early hours the wind changed from 120 to 90 degrees, this gives us the tail wind we don’t want. We are now down to 3.5 to 5 knots as the day went on the wind become variable causing the main to jibe, fortunately I have a preventer on so that I can ease the boom across without it slamming across.
Back into the 4 hours on 4 hours of will take a couple of days to get used to it again but we do not have the long treks like we had previous, we are looking at around six days for this leg. We will have to change our clocks again soon to minus 10 hours UTC or GMT time. This makes it Oz Eastern Time 0700 hours, 1200 hours our time, this makes us 20 hours earlier than your time.
Had the radio sched with the other yachts, Leigh said that Fatu Hiva has the best bay he has ever anchored in, he said it was stunning; the only problem is that it is a rocky bottom and he would be setting a second anchor before going ashore. Cameron on Timella is also having to motor sail has no wind at all. Sharon’s broken toe is a lot better the swelling has gone down. However, like all injuries it is the first place that you bump or someone else does and that is easy to do on a yacht that rocks. Another Oz yacht on the net was “Why Knot” Ross, he is a long time friend of Leigh’s and is heading towards Bora Bora.


06/09/07 – You cannot please a sailor
It’s either too rough or too calm, you cannot please us. The weather is actually beautiful sun is shining the sea is calm and rich blue in colour. Yesterday was slow but we did cover 126.9 Nms for the day. It has given me a bit of a chance to experiment with the sails using the rope blocks that I got off Leigh. I tried to wing on wing with the main out one side and the Genoa out the other, this was good for a short while, but I need a whisker pole to make it work. The Genoa kept collapsing under low wind speed.
We decided to change tack and push further west to get more out of the light breeze, changing tack a few times may benefit in the long term, and this was going well until just before midnight. As I was writing up the 2300 hour log readings I heard the boom go against the preventer, the wind had changed suddenly. The wind was changing from side to side, this was too much for George (auto pilot), and he threw in the towel again. I grabbed the helm and changed course to a deeper port tack to stabilise the sail then get George back on the job. The wind continued to shift and shortly after Nancy came on watch at midnight the wind disappeared completely and we had to motor sail.
The last few nights we have seen these jelly fish around the boat, they glow a green colour, it is quite eerie seeing these glowing green lights floating passed the boat in the dark of the night, they come in very large groups and they probably show up more because there is no moon and it is pitch black dark. (No I have not been on the grog; it’s a dry ship at sea. Maybe that’s the problem). No they are for real.
The radio sched Leigh informed us that he had left Fatu Hiva, the Gendarmes had stopped him and asked for his passport, and Leigh had said it was on board. The problem is that Leigh has not been able to clear in as yet because he has not been able to get his money from the bank. This is a common problem in Hiva Oa. The Gendarmes in Hiva Oa were not really concerned, they just say clear in when you have paid your bond. Leigh said the money should be sent to the bank by the time he gets to Rangiroa and he will clear in there. Leigh was going to some of the eastern atolls but he said that he could come up with the same problem so he will head straight for Rangiroa and clear in. He was getting good winds and had covered quite a bit of ground. We will probably see him at Rangiroa as we will get there on Sunday morning, (Monday in Oz), and Leigh will get there on the day after.

07/09/07 –  2240 hours

Back into the sea routine again, sleeping better when off watch, that is the best gauge. It is a quiet night still motor sailing unfortunately, each time the wind picks up I stop the engine then start it again when the wind drops away.
The radio sched tonight was a bit scratchy with interference, but that’s the way it goes. We cannot complain really as Leigh is 180 Nms away, Cameron is 230 Nms, and Ross is 320 Nms to the south west. All was well with everyone, Leigh was still getting wind, Cameron, and we were not.
We did have a little wind in the afternoon where I was able to shutdown the engine, I took the opportunity to check the engine oil and water levels and actually found that a water hose had worn through and was leaking water so I repaired that. Also had one of the shower water sump pumps fail, I will look at that one when we anchor.

(Another sun sets)

I once read when researching whether we wanted to do this boating thing that the definition of cruising is repairing your boat in exotic locations. I believe this. We do put all these working parts under the worst conditions, salt air, salt water, and throwing them around like inside a washing machine. One bloke said to me in Grenada, “You need three of everything, one working, one spare, and one in the repair shop”.
At least we knew what we were going into, we had nearly eight years of research, talking to yachties when we had the chance, the Cruising Helmsman magazine is another good research asset as there are stories of others experiences. Ange is getting those for me at the moment, hope she is having a good read, I will have a bit of reading when I get back.

08/09/07 – Archipel Des Tuamotu

As dawn approached we approached the first of the Tuamotu’s, these are atolls north of Tahiti.  We were passing Manihi atoll about two miles off the coast, the wind picked up slightly so I shut the engine down, it took all morning to get passed this atoll then the next was in view Ahe atoll, we went in a little closer to this atoll and scanned the coastline. There is not much land height above water level, the highest land would be no higher than a young adult palm tree that we can see from where we are. As we near the end of the atoll we change course slightly for Rangiroa, we should arrive there in the morning, we figure we sail under reefed Genoa will get us there under this light wind just before low tide which is at 0800 hours in the morning.

(As the sun goes down we prepare for another night)

As night falls upon us the wind picks up to 13 knots, we are going along at 6 to 8 knots under this reefed Genoa. It is wonderful when we do not really need the wind it turns up, but wont complain we get there early we will just have to sail around until we can enter. Rangiroa  is the largest atoll and has two passages  that are not very wide. When the tide changes it rips in and out at a rate of 8 knots causing turbulence in the water to as far out as a mile out to sea. Inside the atoll is another sea basically and can be quite rough in strong winds giving wave heights up to 2 metres. We will see what the night brings.

09/09/07 – Rangiroa

(Rangiroa on the horizon))

I came on watch at 0400 hours Nancy points out two glows in the sky ahead, the two villages of Rangiroa, we are 9 miles off the coast, we are still under the reefed Genoa going along at 7 knots, I reefed in more sail to slow us down some and changed course slightly to take some wind out of the sail. We were outside the pass at 0700 hours, we had a close look at the pass a the waves were turbulent and the rip was heading out to sea for around half a mile. I furled the Genoa and we turned into the wind and travelled along the coastline, had breakfast and then returned at 0800 hours, the turbulence appeared to be worse. I had hoped I had calculated the tide time correctly, I was aware that we may have to wait and extra hour or more for the outflow to catch up. I said to Nancy to give a call on the radio to see if there are other yachts inside that can give us some info. She did and a yachty answered, he was waiting to leave and the dive shop had told him it will be calm around 1100 hours. We thanked him and sailed back along the coast line to use up time. The next thing we were called up on the radio, it was Jerry and Cherry from Simatra, we had met in Hiva Oa, they were also waiting for the tide to leave, they said it was a shame that they were not staying to catch up with us again but would see us in Tahiti. Jerry also told us about the best place to go and there were moorings that we could use for free. We wished them well and thanked them, saying that we would see them in Tahiti.

(You can see how narrow the passage is, there is another passage like this and that is all there is for this atoll where it’s waters are 35 Nms across one side to the other)

(Entering the passage and it is tame)

(This is when Nancy asked me to look at her and smile, I don’t think so)

(Looking back)

(The dive boat came out to make sure we are alright)

(A sandy island that we have to go around to where the mooring is)

We motored against the wind again up the coast and gauged the time, turned around put just a little sail out shut down the engine and slowly sailed back to the pass, when we got there it looked good and we headed in, as we entered and I was concentrating on the narrow waterway Nancy was taking photo’s, she says to me, “look this way and smile”, yeah right, “not just now darling” I said, or some words to that affect. Nancy said “sorry I was just having a blonde moment”.
As we entered the other two yachts were leaving we waved to the first and spoke to Simatra who was leaving second, we picked up a mooring, secured the boat, lowered the dinghy had a shower and went ashore to the resort that has the moorings to see if we were alright to stay. We had lunch there and a couple of coldies then went over to the village of Tiputa in the dinghy the other side of the pass. Being Sunday everything was closed. The people appear to be friendly, they do not appear to be well off like Hiva Oa, the dwellings are poorer looking, by the boat landing the local men were playing boules , similar to bowls only they use steel balls and they throw them in the air to land near the jack (if that’s what it is called).

(Tiputa small boat harbour)

(The men playing boule’s)

(I like his style)

We watched for a while then headed back to the boat,  it was an interesting time getting passed the passage in the dinghy as the tide was starting to come in and the turbulence was a little nerving to get through. We were both a little tired, I had been going since 0400 hours, and as we had turned the clocks back 30 mins then really started at 0330 hours. We had dinner and listened to music with a couple of beers and went off to bed just after 2000 hours.
We had the radio sched, Leigh was just leaving the north of Ahe, and he had been in close fishing and said that he had some fish for us. That’s good my skills in fishing are not that good, we have put lines out with different lures and have not caught a bloody thing. Ross on Why Knot has arrived at Bora Bora, Cameron has had some wind getting along at 6 knots and should arrive at Bora Bora around 0800 hours in the morning.

10/09/07 – Rangiroa

We had a late start this morning as we sat at our laptops updating the notes for this blog and reducing photos after selecting which ones we would post. Leigh called up on the radio sched and said to call on Ch69 VHF as he was only outside the atoll waiting for the tide to enter the pass. He said one of the dive boats waved him in at 1030 hours. I got in the dinghy and helped him with the mooring ropes. These moorings we found out belong to the large tourist boats and you can use them when not in use but have to move if they arrive. Unfortunately last night about 1830 hours one turned up and Leigh had to move. He just anchored off our port beam.
We had a four mile dingy trip to Avatoru Village, which is the location of the other access, we went to have a look around, and Leigh needed to go to the bank to check if his money had come through. After waiting an hour in the que, that consisted of about seven people he was told he had to come back in the morning because the person in the main bank that deals with that is on a day off.

(This is the resort where we are moored)

(We have sucker fish that like to swim in the shade of our boat)

(Old and new structures)

(Island time)

(Roads on the atoll)

We have found in these islands that the bank, and the post office, have one staff member each, when a customer comes in they do not only conduct their business but they have a good chat and they do not do things very fast. At least the bank teller told Leigh to get there at 0800 hours before the women come in. Not that I am saying that women chat more, would I dare say that.
Anyway we had lunch at a little restaurant had a walk around and then hoped in the dinghy to go back, everyone got wet, the wind had picked up and the sea was choppy, we also run out of fuel as I brought the dinghy alongside the boat, well planned? No. Lucky? Yes.We put some fuel in the tank and headed over to the resort for a coldie and to find out where we can get onto the internet. The resort has internet but only for their guests, there are two other places near the airport and we will visit in the morning. We all decided that we will take the dinghy to the resort and catch a cab we will stay drier.
Leigh gave us some of the fish he had caught so we invited them for dinner last night, we had a couple of coldies, dinner, and coffee and all turned in by 2130 hours.

 12/09/07 – Rangiroa

(Waterside Cafe)

(Gannets with a fish)

(Bringing down the coconuts so they don’t hit tourists)

(The view from my bed in the cabin)

(Map of Rangiroa)

(The other passage water is running and people fish)

(This is the second passage by Avaturo)

(Powerful tourist boat going through the passage)

(Tourist ship the Paul Gauguin)

(Little and large, Paul Gauguin and Alana Rose)

(Three pretty ladies)

(Barge that goes between towns and other areas of the atoll)

This morning after doing a few chores we went on to Leigh’s yacht “Mi Querida”, (which is Spanish for my mistress). Leigh wanted to show me the benefits of getting a spinnaker or whisker pole to pole out the foresail, so we sailed around the lagoon within the atoll of Rangiroa. When we got back we anchored and had lunch. After lunch we hired a couple of bikes from the resort and cycled into the village stopping on the way at an internet place to check on emails and I updated the blog with some photos. The village is four miles away so it was a decent ride there and back.
One of the amazing things at Rangiroa is the amount of vehicles, some being large 4×4’s one being a Hummer. The most distance they can travel is the four miles along a single road with a few short streets in the village of Avatoru itself. This is the same for the other side of the pass in the village of Tiputa. The vehicles have no way to travel between the two villages because of the pass. There are water taxis for travelling between the Tiputa and Avatoru. The small airport is busy two or three times a day with aircraft bringing in tourists or locals from Tahiti. The attraction to these atolls is the diving and the black pearls; they have a black pearl farm in Avatoru. There are plenty of places for tourist to stay, the two top of the range places is Kia Ora where we are anchored off or the Novetel resort. The resort staff tolerate us yachties, one of the staff said that all the facilities are for the guests not outsiders, but I guess our money is as good as anyone else’s.
The local people are very friendly, when you pass someone they always say with a big smile “bonjour”, and it is the same when you walk into a shop. The cost of living is very high and it makes you wonder how some of the people survive. Some catch fish and hang the fish on a timber rack on there front yard by the road to sell to people passing by. Some of the houses are in great need of repair; being so close to the salt water on both sides rusts out the colour bonded roofs. A lot of the older vehicles are suffering the same from the salt air.

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(Check the rust in this 4×4)


Rangiroa is a beautiful place as you can see from the photos. One could spend quite a lot of time here sailing from location to location within the lagoon which is more like another ocean. There are eleven anchorages listed in the pilot guides that we have, the one we are at is the most sheltered, and it can be very uncomfortable at times. They say if you get winds from the south or west the waves can get as high as two metres. I don’t think I would like to be here for that. Once you are in here you cannot leave until the tide is right, so you could be trapped in when conditions are bad.
We are leaving tomorrow around lunch time on low tide and commence the trip to Tahiti which is about 200 Nms, so we should be there in two days. This will be the crunch time when we will have to decide what we are going to do in regard to where to leave the boat whilst we return to Oz for the wedding. Cyclone season is coming around and we do not want to be caught up in that. We may leave the boat for a month somewhere between here and Tonga, then return and make a run for it to New Zealand away from the cyclones. We may then either travel back to some of the islands that we have missed or return to Oz. We have the major repairs to the starboard gearbox and I think now that it would be better to replace the gearbox itself as I think it has got worse with the propeller turning as we sail along because we cannot lock it off by putting it in gear. The boat will also need a few other things to be done. I would like to replace many of the hoses on the boats systems such as the heads and sea water systems. So as you can see there are some decisions to be made.

(Jenny and Leigh getting the drinks)

(The resort dinning and bar room)

(The usual sundowners)

(A very nice beer and they come in 500ml bottles)

(Unsettled weather coming time to move out, they say it is not a good place to be in strong winds)

(Another part of the resort)

Leigh and Jenny are staying here for around ten days, Leigh has a confirmed booking now for being hauled out in Raiatea he has until the 1 November to get there. We may catch up with him there if not I am sure we will catch up somewhere next year. When Leigh finally gets his yacht back to Oz, which may be next year, he said that he would like to go to some of the places that we would be at and catch up again if we do not bump into each other in the next month or so.
This is a great life although sometimes it has it’s moments with the rough seas and things that go wrong, but we have met some great people along the way and I suppose it relates to the sign I saw in a bar at Bonaire, “Vows made in storms are all forgotten in calm waters”. Isn’t that the truth?

Rangiroa to Raiatea, French Polynesia

13/09/07 to 15/09/07 –

We were going to Tahiti but the weather changed our minds.

(The passage before it settled)

Today we are going to sail for Tahiti, however, it will not be an early start as we have to wait for the tide so that we can get through the pass. My calculation after what occurred the day we came in is that low tide is at 1000 hours therefore the pass will be ready three hours later at 1300 hours.
We went around the yacht and got most things ready for sailing and then went ashore, check my calculations with the dive shop, the locals know when is safe to go in or out. Then we will go for a walk to the pass as we have not seen this end of the island as yet.
We checked with the dive shop we both have the same time so we will plan to break the mooring around 1230 hours and that will get us to the pass on the hour. We went for our walk and it was interesting to see the water turmoil as it escapes the atoll, dolphins were playing in the current. We walked to the end of the road and found an area where people can bring their boats alongside. There was a small barge coming in, it looks as though it may be used for moving vehicles from one part of the atoll to the other. I am not sure whether it would get much use, unless the ramps are just for loading goods that need to be transported.

We walked back along the water front, it took us through some private properties, but the locals indicated that that was alright. It was very pretty looking across the water with the different shades of blue. We got back on board and started to get organised, close all hatches, lift the dingy, and get the Genoa and main sheets ready, although with the wind direction I think we will only be using the Genoa for a while. Just as we about have everything done at noon Leigh and Jenny returned from town and came over to say farewells again. Not sure when we will catch up again it may well be next year before we see Leigh and I am not sure if we will ever see Jenny as when she has finished crewing for Leigh in November she may fly home to South Africa for a while or crew on another yacht. She would like to crew again for Leigh next year. They are both great people and have been wonderful company. I know it will not be the last we see of Leigh.

(Walk along the waterfront)

Well it was 1230 hours and we moved off, just as we did the wind came up to around 18 knots and storms came over, good start. We motored through the pass, the wind was right on the nose so no use for sails, we went out to sea a couple of miles before turning west, as we did we let out the Genoa and cut the engine the wind was still around 18 knots and we are doing around 7.5 knots. We have about 15 Nms to go before we turn south between the two atolls. The next minute the clouds passed over and the sun was shining and there was no bloody wind. I started the engine and we motor sailed about 3 Nms then we got some wind so I cut the engine again, we were only going around 5 knots but we were not in any hurry, in fact we had decided to take the two days to get there about 185 Nms so we needed to kill some time so we arrived in daylight.

(sailing by the second passage)

(Sailing away from the passage)

As we came to the end of Rangiroa atoll there was a current flowing in between this atoll and the other,  although we could not yet see the next atoll. This caused turmoil of waves, I entered them very gingerly looking at the depth sounder as we went, it was a bit of a ride through but we got through OK. I had noticed another yacht that had come out of Rangiroa about an hour behind us. He set his sail wing to wing so I thought he would catch up before long. Now sailing south still with only the Genoa we were doing around 6 – 7 knots, I was going to set the mainsail but thought I would wait until we got from between the atolls and see what seas and wind we would get. We were getting anything from 15 to 22 knots where we were. It was getting dark and I took a look to see where the other yacht was, it was still about the same distance behind but had moved slightly over to our starboard side probably in preparation to pass us later. I checked back a few times and lost sight of it in the dark and could not see its navigation lights probably too low for the distance between us.
Had the radio sched with Leigh at 1715 hours told him how we had been going, at that stage we were between the atolls and had not hit the real bad stuff. He said he and Jenny were fine and had a good day. We were not able to raise Timella or Why Knot.
As we approached the end of the atolls the wind and the waves picked up heavily and the waves started to hit us on the port beam, waves commenced to break over the side so we changed course heading a little more south-west, this put the wind and most of the waves near the port aft quarter, the other pattern of the waves was still hitting us on the port beam. It was rather a mixed sea, wind was anywhere between 22 and 30 knots, I decided to take three turns in on the Genoa to reef it slightly. The boat was very uncomfortable, we both had very little sleep through the off watch times. I rechecked the engines oil levels etc. before Nancy went to bed, in doing so I tripped over and banged my ankle of the engine surround, then I hit my head on the other engine cover on the screw for the latch letting some claret loose  from the head. Later during my watch I was sitting at the helm and as a wave hit I grabbed the bimini support that also had our safety lifeline attached, sitting on the lifeline was a hornet wasp, and he did not like me grabbing him so he stung me. I thought thank god that’s the third thing that has happened I should be right now. Of course that was just after a few other words not fit to print when I got stung. I stuck my finger in the freezer for a short time that took the pain away. Oh the wasp, he committed suicide. Come morning we had moved away from our planned course by 30 Nms to the west, this was adding distance to our trip. I said to Nancy that to go to Tahiti we need to beat into the wind, something a catamaran does not do well and we don’t like doing. We continued on the same course to see if the weather would change.
Had the morning radio sched, could only raise Leigh, I told him if things do not get better we will change course for Raiatea. He agreed. I asked him how he and Jenny were, he said they were fine but missed a couple of mates at sundowners last night.
After as short while and the sun was up for a while there was no change in the weather, I gave George a break and took the auto pilot off and turned the helm to port, as soon as I got her on course for Tahiti the bows were digging into the waves and green water came over the top, which is to be expected, but when it started to come over the top of the bimini I said to Nancy bugger Tahiti I think we will go straight to Raiatea she agreed. We turned back on the original course, checked the chart for a course to Raiatea which added another 30 degrees to starboard putting wind and waves at 120 degrees (port aft). We were still getting tossed around but not as bad, the winds stayed in the same range between 22 and 30 knots. We both grabbed sleep when we could, meals were simple, and something out of a can, however, Nancy always adds something to make it taste not like canned food. We made good miles through the day so much so that during the evening watch I reefed the Genoa right down to a third the way out and that’s all the sail we had working. The only difference it made was when we were on the back of the wave going up it slowed us down to 4 knots but on the level or going down the wave was the same speed as before between 7 and 11 knots. It did have the desired affect of slowing us so we arrived outside of Raiatea before first light this morning. It is incredible seeing landfall at first light. This land is quite spectacular, there are two islands Raiatea and Tahaa that are encircled by coral reefs, the reefs have a number of passes in them where boats and ships can access. The access is not tide dependent boats can enter at any time this is due to the water flowing over the reefs although the reefs buffer the rough seas. It is very beautiful place.

(Raiatea ahead, you can see by the amount of turns on the furler that we had a very small sail out)

(On both these pictures we are sailing outside the reef)

(Heading towards the passage through the reef)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

(The reef is all around these two islands with just a few places that you can access)

(We are now through the passage in calm waters there are a number of these small islands along the reef)

One problem we have is that the anchorages are very deep in places they are deeper than the length of our anchor chain, another thing that I have to fix when I can buy more chain. It is listed that there are some moorings for visitors so we went searching, we found a place with moorings, picked up the first, and I told Nancy to let it go it had a sign attached “Privie” French for private. After going in and out of all the moored boats we found one, when picking it up Nancy dropped the boat hook over the side, so she went swimming to get it back. Just about to say well that’s it and a dingy is approaching us, first thought no we cannot stay here. It was a Frenchman from a catamaran just behind us, he said he was talking to his friend in the boatyard and he said that this mooring is old and not secure, he said there is another behind his cat, and the friend in the boatyard said we could use it. The Frenchman, Joule helped us secure to the mooring. He Also told us where some things were but added everything is closed Saturday and Sunday. Being Saturday today for us, we have to wait a couple of days. We did not really care, once we were secure I went to the fridge and grabbed a coldie, Nancy had a whiskey, we then had some lunch followed by a short sleep.

(Alana Rose on a mooring with the wonderful backdrop of Bora Bora)

We also sat down and looked at the passage planner, we are seriously thinking of spending what time we need to here, I want to see if we can get the gearbox fixed, if we cannot we will leave in a few days for Bora Bora which you can actually see from here, a couple of days there then off to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, then Nuku’alofa Tonga then if there is enough time left go to Opua in NZ where we will leave the boat and fly to Oz for the wedding, if we do not have enough time to get to NZ we will fly from Tonga and return in November to make the dash to NZ. Naturally this is all dependant on wind and weather, but it will have to be one of these places that we leave the boat to come back to Oz. We need to get to NZ for the cyclone season. The question that remains unanswered is what do we do after NZ? Do we wait until April and head back to some more islands before coming back to Oz, or do we head back to Oz earlier? That will be answered after we get to NZ. My lady will have the biggest say in that one, the reason being is that she has done more than most that could be asked of anyone, sailing is great and we both love it, visiting beautiful places is wonderful. But there is a lot of hard work in between, four hours on fours off for days is OK but it is hard work, battling some of the seas is also hard and frightening at times. Nancy has done wonders and I am very proud of her. I am very conscious of the fact that at times she gets quite frightened and on those rough sea nights she hates the midnight shift when you cannot see the sea to see what it is doing. It can’t be too bad though I still get a kiss and a cuddle at the change of watch.

16/09/07 – Raiatea

This morning we had a sleep in we got up at 0600 hours, it is usually at dawn around 0500 hours. But we were in bed very early last night and slept like a log. We did not rush about though, we had a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs on toast, did a little computer work, then had showers before going ashore. We went over to the dingy dock in CNI Carenage then went for a walk along the road towards where the supermarket is to have a look, half way there in the middle of the day we decided that we will dinghy over there tomorrow and walked back to the dinghy. We then went down to the marina in the next bay and had lunch at the bar and restaurant. After this we went for a trip in the dinghy towards town, a few miles away, however we turned back after the winds picked up and we realised that we will be drenched by the time we got there. We came back on board and relaxed.

When we were at the marina a lady from America came and spoke to us, she was on a Moorings charter boat with another four lady friends. The youngest would have to be in her mid sixties and the one who spoke to us, she would have to be in her seventies and had a walking stick. They must have been sailing most of their lives, they took the yacht out whilst we were there heading for the top island and then out to Bora Bora. Just goes to show you’re never too old.

(Inside the marina cafe is this huge fishing canoe)

(Nancy enjoys her meal and drink)

We had the radio sched at 1715 hours, could not raise Leigh, we spoke with Timella and Why Knot, they were able to talk with Leigh and relayed for me. We are tucked away behind the island on the west side and Leigh is way over in the north east. Timella had left Bora Bora at 0600 hours this morning and under 15 to 18 knot winds was sailing at 4 to 6 knots, that’s good for his yacht. Why Knot left about four hours after and had already passed Timella. Timella is not what you would call a fast yacht. Ross on Why Knot said that he had some friends arriving here today, yacht named ‘Fantasy I’ and if we see it to say g’day. I started getting weather information for Timella and Why Knot, on the evening sched I would get the position (Lat/Long) speed and course, with this I would calculate where they should be at 0800 hours the following morning when we do the radio sched. I would then by using four to five weather websites get the weather in their location what they were heading into. I was up at 0500 hours each morning and that is when I would get all the info in time for the radio sched.

17/09/2007

When we went on deck ‘Fantasy I’ was moored in front of us so we went over to say hello. Karl and Sandy, what a couple, lovely people. Karl is retired scientist and Sandy was a school teacher from South Australia. They were trying to get a few things fixed as they wanted to get going straight to Vanuatu to join the Port to Port Rally, Port Villa to Bundaberg, they want to get home before the cyclone season started.

We went ashore to clear in with the gendarmes. We did not arrive at the gendarme’s office until just after midday, a youngish gendarme walked up to us and asked what we want in a French arrogant manner, we said we were there to clear in. He basically yelled we are closed from midday to 2pm, so we apologised and said we would return. The reason we were late is that it is 6 kms from the boat to the office which we did not realise. We went away and ended up purchasing a couple of bicycles because if we are staying here and we now can for the cyclone season we will need them to come and go.
On returning to the gendarme’s office we went to the desk and there was an office between the room we are in and the room the officers are in, they looked at us and basically ignored us then after a while the office that dressed us down earlier came to us.  “What do you want?” he asked. I told him that we had arrived on a catamaran and was here to clear in. He asked, do you speak French, I apologised and said we did not. He then said I do not speak English where does that leave us? In my head I thought, well you are doing fine so far. I held the papers in front of me with that paper on top that I made up with all the information on it and he sat down and started entering the details on the computer. Then he asked, how long are you staying? I said that we want to stay to the 21 October leave the boat here and come back after three months away and stay until the cyclone season is finished. With this he spoke to his boss in French, his boss came out grabbing a book off a shelf and asked you Australian? I said yes, he then said you have to leave before the 17 October or you will be in trouble with the local police. I said fine we will book our flights for the 16 October. I wasn’t going into any other details re our return the mood was not right for that, they signed our documents and we left.

(We have transport, Amandine advised us to lock them up, she said people won’t steal them but they will borrow them)

A little different to the gendarmes at Hiva Oa. Nancy asked what do we do about our return I said we will sort it out when we get to Australia with their embassy . What a day, when we got back to the boat Karl and Sandy invited us over for sundowners and we had a nice night.

19/09/07 –  Wednesday Morning

(Uturoa is the main shopping area and township of Raiatea)

(Uturoa waterfront)

Well we have had an interesting couple of days. The night before last a Mayday message was broadcast from Marine Radio, this unfortunately was in French and we could not fully understand what was being said. The only thing that concerned me was the name of the boat. It sounded like Timella, Cameron’s boat. We were aware that Cameron had had some trouble, he had blown out his mainsail and on the same night had been swamped by the sea causing his HF radio to fail in volume so he could not hear anyone but he could transmit. He at radio sched time gave his Lat/Long and stated that all on board was safe.
We stayed up late hoping for more information, but everything was in French, we did get the message that it was a ketch, same as Cameron’s however they said the hull was black, Cameron’s is dark blue. We turned in around midnight, I was up very early the next morning, and the mayday message continued through the night and day. We did the 0800 hour sched and we were pleased to hear Cameron on the radio, he had been swamped a few times in the rough weather but he said everyone was safe, he still had no volume control on the radio so he could only transmit and not hear us. The mayday kept on going each hour, two aircraft, and two merchant ships continued search the area at the Lat/Long the mayday was reported.
Last night as we were about to go out for dinner the mayday message was transmitted by the authorities first in French and then in English. The yacht they were looking for was Timella Cameron’s yacht. As soon as the transmission was complete I called Marine Radio (The authority), and confirmed that it was Timella that they were looking for. They confirmed this, and then I gave them the last position that I had on Timella and told them that they are safe and well. Marine Radio asked it I would talk with the National Rescue Centre, I said that I would, due to communication difficulties I rang them on the sat phone. I confirmed that Timella was safe and well although they had suffered heavy seas that had lost them their mainsail and full communications on HF radio. I also informed them that we would be on the radio sched at 0800 hours in the morning and they could join in and hear for themselves that Timella was safe. They told me that the Mayday was raised by a ham radio operator in Hawaii. This would have been the radio operator that has provided Cameron with weather reports. The only thing that I can imagine that on the radio sched he had heard that Cameron had been swamped with water and did not hear that they were safe and well. However, he should not have raised a Mayday unless the vessel had initiated it in the first place. He could have registered a concern for safety without raising a Mayday. The National Rescue Centre was relieved to hear that the yacht and crew were safe and also very appreciative that I had contacted them. The boss of the coordination centre came of the phone to thank me they had ships and aircraft looking in the area that the incident was reported and they were about to send more aircraft out tomorrow, Timella was 200 Nms further than the search site.
Probably the ironic side of this is that due to Cameron not being able to hear us on the radio and can only transmit, he is oblivious to the fact that there was a Mayday raised, and that he had two planes and two freight vessels looking for him. We were all relieved that everything was fine and we then went to dinner with new Aussie friends Karl and Sandy on “Fantasy 1”  that originate in Adelaide. They sailed out of Oz 9 years ago and have been around the world. They are now heading back to Oz. I have been helping them set up their computer after the one that they were using got swamped with sea water through a hatch that had been left open. I have loaned them my GPS antenna as the computer will not recognise theirs. They will mail it to Angela’s when they get back to Oz in around six weeks. As we are now staying here we will not need it until January.
This morning I finally got the gearbox out after having to bike it into town to buy another tool. I stripped it down and it looks like the only problem is the cone, a new cone and seals should fix the problem. Amandine in the CNI office is organising the parts for me. She is also organising a mechanic to reassemble the box for me as I do not have the tools or workshop to do it myself. Need gear pulleys and a press etc.
She also organised a fuel run for us today, sent one of the yard boys into town to pick up fuel for ‘Fantasy 1’ and ourselves.
Then I went for a swim and run a brush over the waterline and removed a little growth from the hull, then went to the supermarket that has a dinghy dock did a little shopping then went over to ‘Fantasy 1’ to set up the GPS on their computer and assist Sandy with CMap navigation and of course have a beer and a chat. We got back on board close to 2000 hours. It’s a rough life this boating.

 20/09/07 – Raiatea

(Bora Bora)

(The island of Tahaa in the background)

(Calm at dusk)

(Boats full)

Not much news today. Yesterday afternoon after shopping at the waterside supermarket and obtaining important items like beer, whiskey, red and white wine and food. I think I have them in the correct order regarding priorities. We went over to Fantasy 1 to help Sandy understand CMap, which is incredible as I am only learning myself as I have only had it just before leaving Hiva Oa. Blind leading the blind so to speak. I set it up with my GPS receiver that I am loaning them to get back to Oz.

I have to go over and set up their Wifi and Skype today, they want to take us out to dinner for the help we have provided. They are coming over here for sundowners tonight, Sandy likes a Gin and Tonic, and Nancy doesn’t mind it either, so back to the supermarket today.
Radio sched this morning Timella is still safe and moving slowly, their radio was receiving this morning, but I could not hear or talk to them. Why Knot (Ross), spoke to them and informed them about the search that was being conducted, he said Cameron was shocked to hear about it he never at any stage gave any indication that he needed assistance. Why Knot and JJ Moon are close together and will be entering Rarotonga around midday today. Timella ETA is Sunday afternoon.
Later..
Karl came over this morning and said he was ready to be hoisted up the mast to install the spare halyard if I could haul him up. So I went over to Fantasy 1 to help. When I got there Sandy was in this bright orange bathing suit and she grabbed a short ladder and was about to climb on the boom, Karl looked at her and asked what she was doing, she said getting ready to grab the fishing line, Karl said that he hadn’t got the halyard ready yet, so she said well what do I do and Karl said “if you stop f__king about”. I burst out laughing, Sandy appears to be a prim and proper lady in her manners and Karl talks like that all the time. When all was ready I hauled Karl up the mast and lowered him when he was finished Sandy climbed a ladder to fish the mouse out (fishing line with sinker weight) of the mast, then attached the new halyard to it and fed it through. After having coffee and bickies I went back to our boat and said to Nancy do you want to take the laundry in now, she said yes but it is lunch time and everything will be closed. This is a thing we are getting used to this that all the shops closed from midday through to 1400 or 1500 hours the same as Bonaire. This has been right through since the Caribbean. Restaurants and bars are open but they close at 1400 or 1500 hours through to 1800 hours.

Saturday 22/09/07 – Raiatea

The last couple of days have gone rather quickly and we have not really done much. Yesterday Nancy went into town with Sandy off Fantasy 1, I planned to do a few water runs, however young Amandine in the office called me on the radio to go over and see her about the parts for the gearbox. Apparently they cannot supply two ‘o’ rings, would probably be able to use the old ones. The parts will arrive on the next plane in and she has organised someone to complete the job for me as I do not have bearing and gear pulleys, that will be done Monday. She asked if we would still be hauling out as the gearbox will be fixed, I told her yes we had already made up our minds and booked our flights.
It will be great to return to Oz and see family and friends but it is going to be hard not sailing, with all the ups and downs we both love the adventure of the sea time. We will fly back here in January and do some work on the boat whilst she is out of the water, give her another coat of anti-foul. We will not be able to sail until April May when the cyclone season is over.

(Fire in the sky)

(Going home)

Back to what else happened yesterday, Karl came over he was trying to tighten the gland seal on the propeller shaft and needed a third hand, he asked me if I could spare 20 minutes, I told him I could but I have a dilemma at the moment I cannot find one of my VISA debit cards, I said give me a minute to check. After just about phoning to say it was lost I thought about the last time I used it at the waterfront supermarket, I shot across there in the dinghy and as I was approaching the shop the young lady at the checkout gave big smiles waving my VISA card. I thanked her very much and went back and helped Karl. Karl had to lay in an awkward position holding the spanner with a bar and my job was to hit it with the hammer. Karl asked, “you know what to do”? I said, “yes, when you nod your head I hit it”, he gave me that funny look and smiled.
That job was done then I started the water run filling up four 20 litre containers bringing them back on board and fill the tanks, I did one tank and it was getting too bloody hot to do anymore, the water flows slowly through the hose and sitting in the dinghy in the sun filling the containers gets rather warm. We went in the dinghy to pick up the laundry, they did a fantastic job. By mid afternoon it became very hot and I went for a swim off the back of the boat and had half hour snooze.

(Sandy doing her final shopping before leaving)


Last night we went out for dinner with Karl and Sandy, they shouted for the help I had given them, I told them its part of the deal, I have had help from others that did not need help from me so by helping someone else is a pay back for the help I have received. Cruising is one area in the world that still has that care for strangers doing the same thing, everyone helps each other when there is a need. We had a good night with a couple of bottles of red and a good feed.
This morning I was up early as usual, Karl was getting ready to sail doing a last minute water run to top up his tanks, they are going straight through to Vanuatu. They came over and said their goodbyes, I purchased their Polynesian Francs off them for US$ so they would not be stuck with them. They went back to their yacht and hauled the dinghy aboard. We were waiting to wave them goodbye, then a radio call from them, they had the ropes tangled on the mooring. I went over in the dinghy, what had happened was that we have had total calm weather and the yachts have been turning from one way to another and the ropes had bound themselves tight around the mooring. I gradually untangled them and got them free. Karl said thanks and said that I would probably be glad to see them leave. That is not true. I thoroughly enjoyed Karl and Sandy’s company, they are genuine good people.

(Assisting Karl with the mooring)

(Just about done)

(Fantasy 1 heads out to the passage and off to Vanuatu)

The rest of the day I have been rather lazy, I did one more water run, had a haircut from the on board hairdresser, had a swim to get rid of the loose hair and then had a coldie or two.
Still had radio scheds and everyone is fine, Timella is still 100 Nms from port and the water is like glass and no wind so they are motoring at the moment. Leigh is anchored off Blue Lagoon at Rangiroa, yes it is the place they made the movie of the same name with Brooke Shields.

 26/09/07 – Raiatea

We run out of gas last night just as I was about to make a coffee for us both, so no coffee and no cup of tea this morning. So first job was to get the three gas bottles out of the gas locker dinghy in and get them filled, the next job was to see the lovely Amandine and find out what happened to the mechanic that was supposed to meet me yesterday afternoon.
I dropped the gas bottles in and they said they would be ready this afternoon and as I was walking to the CNI office Amandine was on the road talking to two gents, when I approached she introduced me to Joseph the mechanic, he asked if I had the gearbox out, I said yes, I can get it for you now. Which I did and he has promised it will be back by next Wednesday. Amandine is a dynamo, she organises everything for CNI and its customers, nothing is too much trouble and any request is dealt with immediately.
The big problem is there is only one mechanic on the island and that is Joseph, Amandine said to me that I should come and work I would make lots of money there is too much work for one mechanic. This is true for most of the islands. I think the only reason Joseph is looking after me is that one Amandine is on his back and two she told him that I could do the job myself if he let me use his workshop. Anyway at least it is getting fixed. The only rush to fix it now is so that I will have two engines to manoeuvre when I have to go into the marina area to get hauled out. But again Amandine says that if it is not fixed by that time she will organise the boys in the yard to move me in place using dinghies. After the gas and the gearbox was organised I went back on board and we got ready to go into town on our pushbikes. We organised our flights from here to Papeete (Tahiti), on the 15 October, we have to stay overnight there as our flight to Oz via NZ leaves at 0700 on the 16 October 07.
That being organised we carried on into town to the fuel station to fill up two small containers of petrol for the generator and then cycled back towards the boat but detoured into Apooiti Marina for lunch. Then we cycled back unloaded the fuel. It was hot no wind and we decided to do what they do in these islands have siesta time. I flaked under a fan in the saloon.
At 1500 hours I went in to get the gas bottles and bought them back on board then I took the dinghy over to the waterfront supermarket to buy some more coldies (Beers), some bugger had drank the ones I had, making up for those dry nights at sea no doubt.

(How small boats are garaged)

(These huts are like holiday huts for locals they spend Sundays out there relaxing and fishing)

When I came back I spent quite a bit of time trying to find out weather information for Fantasy 1 and Why Knot. Fantasy 1 said they had very little wind and were motor sailing on the sched this morning and asked if I could get them a full weather report. Whilst doing that I heard Why Knot on the sched this evening and I gave them an update. Why Knot left Rarotonga this morning for Tonga, they are heading to NZ for the hurricane season. Timella was organizing the haul out today and are probably out on the hard by now.
Our dear friend Eileen in Dubbo paid my HF radio license for me so hopefully now I am operating legally, thanks a bunch Eileen. It is not easy trying to transfer money from here or the places we have been of visa versa as Leigh will tell you. He has been waiting for money to arrive since the day we got into Hiva Oa.

27/09/07 – Raiatea 

Today I spent the time tracing some shore power wiring for 220v that the previous owner had installed, (Alana Rose is basically 12 volt or 110 volts). My plan was to use the wiring he had installed for shore power for the battery charger and in addition to plug my 110v generator into without running temporary cables that we have over the last few months. It worked like a charm, I found the cable that he had run to the hot water service in the port engine bay that had been disconnected. I pulled that through to where the normal shore power leads were and fitted the French Polynesian type three point plug, using the colour codes I used in Grenada that I found on the net. I then disconnected a disused power board that was installed by the owner and installed the power point in its place and connected the other end of the cable. Tested it all with the trusty multi-tester and everything looked fine. Put the power on nothing went bang and it is all working fine and looks rather tidy. The crazy part about it is that the only part of the boat that needs 110v is the air-conditioning units that we can only use if we are in a marina, everything else works on 12 volts. Now that I have replaced the battery charger that will run on any voltage from 110 to 250 volts and any cycle from 4 to 400 there is no problem. Most of the gear that we have laptops, cameras, telephones will charge up on 110 – 240 volts, most electrical items such as these are made for international conditions.
Next thing I did was to make up a lead that attaches the generator to the system and also made up a 50m extension cord for when we go on the hard to keep the batteries charged whilst we are away in Oz.
This is going to be the daunting part, we are both looking forward to travelling home and seeing family and friends, but we are not sure what we will do with ourselves for three months living on land. Nancy has even said that all the scary times at sea she is going to miss not being out there. Back to the sign in Bonaire, “vows made in storms are soon forgotten in calm waters”. It is very true. We both cannot wait to do the next leg of the trip and basically we are going to have to wait six months before we start that next leg.
I am so very pleased that Nancy feels that way, as you know I said if we had done the runner for NZ before the cyclone season it would mainly depend on her whether we went and did more of the islands or return to Oz for the quieter coastal cruising. Well she is very keen to do the rest of the voyage and see the islands as we go. I think she has the cruising bug even though at times she says she does not like the heavy seas.
The next thing we did was to cycle into town to the bank to get some money to pay the mechanic in case he brings the gearbox back tomorrow pick up some more petrol for the generator. By the time we got back our cloths were drenched in sweat so stripped down and dived into the sea off the back of the boat, rinsed off with fresh water on the transom shower, then we declared it as beer o’clock, well it was 5 o’clock some where. We were only 30 minutes early.

02/10/07 Raiatea

It is a very quiet time at the moment, we are just waiting for the time for haul-out onto the hard and then stripping the boat down of its sails and bimini and anything else strong winds may cause problems. Then we will give the boat a good clean, remove any water within the bilges and dry every compartment to reduce the risk of mould build up whilst the boat is locked up. So we will have a few very busy days ahead of us.
Today we are waiting for the mechanic to come back for the gearbox and see what he has to say. Yesterday he was on Tahaa Island where he actually lives. Tahaa is the island closest to Raiatea only a couple of miles north.
It is hard when he is the only mechanic for both islands. I want him to fix it before we go on the hard because I want to run it to make sure it is alright so if it is not I can bring the gearbox back to Oz for repair.
The problem we have found in our travels is everything is island time, which is good in one way as long as you do not have a deadline to meet. It has taken me a while to realise that I do not have to rush anymore, I don’t have to be back somewhere to start work. The only pressure we have at the moment is getting the gearbox fixed properly before we fly out.
As much as we are looking forward to come back to Oz and see the family and friends it is hard leaving our yacht, it has become our home, and it is like anyone else leaving their home for three months. The other thing is that we are both enjoying the lifestyle. It is true what they say that within the boating family that it is one of the few places left where everyone helps each other, they look out for each other and  majority are very friendly, some of the French are not so friendly it is more of a minority are friendly in their case. Don’t get me wrong the ones that are friendly are very friendly and nice people, but you tend to get probably the local French that are not so friendly. The exception would have been Hiva Oa, I think that would be one of the friendliest places we have been. Most of the indigenous people here are friendly although some of the middle aged to older men are not. I think this would relate to early times when the French fought the locals and killed many. This island is where the NZ Maori originated from. They fled here and went to NZ. So they do have a reason to dislike Europeans.
We will have quite a lot of time here before we sail again, we will not be able to head off until mid April when the cyclone season starts to end and the trade winds come back to carry us in the right direction. We will get back here in January and hopefully with some gear I bring back from Oz I will be able to set up preventers and sheets the way we want them. There will also be a bit of maintenance to do or should I say a fair bit.
Leigh on Mi Querida should be here in a few days, we have not been able to talk to him on the radio since he arrived in Tahiti, we sent him and email and got one in return. Jenny had struck another problem regarding her visa, because of being a South African she applied in Panama for the visa for French Polynesia because it takes so long to come through. When she got to Hiva Oashe still did not have it, it finally came through just before they left Hiva Oa. Now they are clearing in at Tahiti the officials have stated that Jenny is running out of time (three months), because they have taken the date from her original application in Panama. So now Jenny has decided to fly home to South Africa. It is not easy being a South African when travelling around the world.
Had the radio sched with Fantasy 1, Karl and Sandi this morning and gave them their weather report, they are doing quite well with the winds they are getting. Then had the sched with Why Knot, Ross is also doing quite well and should be in Tonga in the morning. Ross will be heading to NZ for the cyclone season and returning north to Vanuatu next year, we hope to catch up with them then. I have told Ross about the weather that is surrounding NZ at the moment that is not pleasant. I will email the websites that I have to him as I will not be giving weather reports after the 8 October when we have been hauled out. It would be nice to catch up with Ross after talking to him on the radio for sometime and we have never met.
It is now mid morning and no sign of the mechanic as yet, the problem is we cannot go anywhere nor do anything until he shows up. Island time, great.
Well it is now evening; I spoke with the mechanic this morning he was supposed to meet me at 1600 hours but got called away. I should be seeing him in the morning. Again the main problem is that we were stuck waiting for him and could not do anything else.
We went out to Snack Mimosa for dinner tonight, good home style cooking plenty on the plate and would be the cheapest in town. They are only a minute walk from the boatyard is about 6 kms out of town. Nancy had prawns Chinese style with rice I had a large steak veggies and chips, two glasses of red for Nancy and I had two Hinano beers (500ml stubbies), total cost $45 AUS, we had hamburger and fries with same amount of drinks at the restaurant near the marina $70 AUS. It is a very expensive place here in French Polynesia, apparently the French own a lot of the companies here, but they do not exactly own the land. So they pay high wages and that naturally because most things have to be imported puts the cost of living up.
Amandine is building a house with her fiance, it will cost them 18,000,000 francs, this in AUS is $240,500, but this is a kit home that they are building. A kit home put on your land in Australia would be somewhat less I would imagine. It gives you an idea of prices here. A standard can or stubby in a hotel costs about $7 Aus a glass of beer that is the same size, (local beer), is around $5:50 Aus. You don’t see many drunks here.
Well we will have to see what tomorrow brings, hopefully the mechanic.  

 04/10/07 More gearbox fun.

After finally catching up with Joseph the mechanic yesterday afternoon, he said that I was using the wrong oil and that is the problem. It is very hard discussing things with the language barrier but Amandine has helped greatly. He wanted to see the gearbox operational so I put the thing back in for him to come this morning.
In the meantime I rang dear friend Rick to get info regarding oils to be used in these gearboxes. I had previously search the next and that had said use whatever you use in the engine. Rick rang back and said that the Mobil hotline said that I could use straight 30 or 40 SAE. I was using 40 SAE. Then Rick rang back to tell me he had been in touch with his gearbox mechanic and he said he uses transmission fluid or straight 30 oil. Joseph here said that 30 oil should be the highest you should use.
So this morning I had the gearbox all back in and the 40 SAE oil drained out, Joseph came with some oil 10 W, prior to putting that in he adjusted the cable carrier as it was coming into contact with the gear lever. I don’t think it was interfering with the operation of the lever it had been there all the time. He filled the gearbox up with the oil he had bought and then we started the engine put it in gear the shaft turned but slower than it should, hold the shaft and it would stop. So much for the oil being wrong, it was still behaving the same.
Joseph was a little surprised, I was just hoping he was right and we would have everything back to normal. He removed the control section of the gearbox and I noticed that the lever was in different to the parts picture, not saying the parts picture is correct all it is doing is showing the parts. Anyway Joseph put it in the way the drawing had it tried it again still the same. After a couple of hours we still could not find what the problem was. The control section came out again and Joseph had his fingers inside on the gear assembly and turned the propeller shaft and nothing in the gearbox moved. It was the clutch coupling that joins the gearbox output shaft to the propeller shaft where the fault appeared to be. We stripped it down to find that the teeth on the clutch pads were no longer there. These clutch coupling are designed to protect the gearbox if the propeller strikes something. We don’t really know if we have hit anything in the water with the prop, we don’t think we have as one would think it would be rather noisy  when doing so. But being a charter boat previously it could have been done then and only partly damaged the coupling, then with us trailing that shaft for the last 5000 plus miles because we could not lock the shaft due to the gearbox failure could have done the rest of the damage. I had notice as the trip went on that we were getting increased vibration from that shaft and that’s why I thought I would have to replace the whole gearbox. When the problem first happened I had contacted Rick in Australia and he spoke with the engineers at Yanmar and they actually diagnosed that it was this part that we had changed, when I contacted them about these clutch plates in the coupling they had never heard of them.
So the situation is now that I have asked dear Amandine to order me some new parts, there goes the other arm and leg, its already cost me the others. But we are close to fixing now. As I said before the definition of cruising is fixing your yacht in exotic locations.
Other happenings is the radio sched with Why Knot, which now I believe is “Y Not” by the email I received from Ross this afternoon, sorry about that Ross. Anyway the radio sched this morning with Ross was unreadable, he arrived in Tonga yesterday afternoon and that was a last radio sched for this event as Ross will stay in Tonga until the day we fly out. I emailed all the websites I was gathering the weather from for him to study before his run to NZ. The isobars have been getting a little close together down that way with gale warnings being given. Ross was very appreciative for the weather reports that I provided during the trip. It is good to give that help I know if I get the weather reports from any source whilst at sea it helps an awful lot. Plus it takes me about 20 minutes to research the different sites, I will put them on the bottom of this section in case anyone is interested.
Did have the radio sched with Fantasy 1, gave Sandi and Karl the weather update, they should continue to get wind to scoot them along if they stay between 15s and 20s anything outside of that and they will be in calm waters. The signal was rather scratchy so I have given them the 72 hour outlook in case I cannot speak to them tomorrow.
http://buoyweather.com/index.jsp
Select custom location, then put cursor over map and left click, you can zoom in for closer accuracy.
http://invited.to/weather/
Select pacific marine for text report
http://www.metvuw.com/forecast/forecast3day.php?type=rain&region=spacific
click on chart to increase size.
http://weather.noaa.gov/pub/data/raw/fz/fzps40.phfo.hsf.sp.txt
text report
http://www.oceanweather.com/data/
Current info, click on map area for your area.
http://www.wunderground.com/MAR/sepacm.html
Sea temp chart click on chart for desired area for text report. (Good for around NZ)

06/10/07 Still in Raiatea

Yesterday we went into town on our bikes had to do a little shopping, get some fuel for the generator and generally have a walk around. We parked our bikes, there are strict rules about bikes on walk areas and had a walk around the shops. Nancy ended up in a dress shop, well the shop sold anything from washing machines to dresses but we never got passed the dresses. She was looking for something to wear to Lindy and Steve’s wedding and the other events that we are going to. Anyway she found three dresses and fortunately they were on special.
The town was rather busy being Friday, people from the other island Tahaa come over on the ferry to shop.
When we left town we picked up the fuel on the way out (2×8 litre containers), my basket on the bike was loaded, I had the fuel, bag of bananas, other vegetables and a bag of spuds. When we got back I checked on the parts that I ordered and they will be here on Monday. When we got back on board the fridge/freezer had tripped off on the main switchboard. I checked everything and made the switch again and the compressor was working, but it looks like the unit needs re-gassing. Terrific, Friday afternoon, no one works on Saturday or Sunday here so it will be Monday before I can get it done. I am going into town to see if I can raise someone this morning. I suppose with all the bashing we had during the journey so far could have had an affect on the lines and connections. At least it did not happen at sea on a long haul.  Bit later….. Well we went into town on our bikes got rained on a couple of times found someone to recharge the fridge/freezer with gas and check for leaks but that will not be until Monday or Tuesday. Fortunately we have been using all the gear in the freezer so that we can have it empty when we leave. We had a walk around in town and then headed back having lunch at the marina before we returned to the boat.The weather is still quite hot here but the wind has been very strong the last couple of days, gives you a good work out cycling against it going to town and you get the occasional downpour of rain.

08/10/2007 Two engines but warm beer.

Well it was a lazy day waiting for the parts to arrive, could not go anywhere as I wanted to get the parts in as soon as they arrived. Another reason is that the wind was blowing that hard and rain was coming in regularly I wasn’t going to push that bloody bike anywhere.
We had a visit from Customs this morning, I was having a shower and Nancy yelled out there are some officials looking for something just gone into the yard on a dinghy, they look like Gendarmes. After I had finished the shower they were visiting a yacht a couple of moorings from us. After that they came to see us, I invited them aboard and they asked to see our papers and passports. We sat down in the saloon and went through all the details, they were very nice, and they were quite surprised that customs had not approached us in Hiva Oa. We had nothing to declare which makes life easy. We told them that we were being hauled out and they informed us that the yacht is allowed to stay in French Polynesia for twelve months if we wish and the time we are on the hard is not counted so the time on the hard can be added to the twelve months. Not that we will be staying that long. They left and went visiting other yachts close by.
The parts arrived at 1430 hours so I went to get them from Amandine who organised her boss to pick them up from the airport for me. Whilst I went to pick them up I dropped Nancy in to go to the supermarket on her bike. Now I know what you’re thinking, but the supermarket is protected from the wind so it was an easy ride Nancy may say different. I went back on board and started fitting the coupling clutch assembly, no sooner I got started Nancy called up on the VHF handheld, see I told you it was an easy ride. I climbed back out of the engine bay and went and picked her up, came back again completed the fitting of the parts. Started the engine put her in gear and we had movement, tried it in the astern position and we had movement. I cleaned everything up put everything away reassemble the engine covers with a few little repairs added then jumped in the sea to cool off and clean up.
In celebration went to the fridge which I have turned off until it is re-gassed pulled out a Kimberley cool beer and downed it, it wasn’t the best temperature but I had another and I might even have another after I finish this. I said to Nancy we might have a red wine with dinner tonight. Bugger the warm beer.
We were originally supposed to be hauled out today (Monday 8 Oct), however, the yard is getting a new tractor and it arrives in the morning, there are two catamarans to go back in the water and ours to come out so Amandine said she would prefer to do them all in one day, so they will put the other two in the water and then haul us out. This way the gear is set up once for cats rather than chopping and changing rigs. We are not that concerned as long as we are out by next Monday when we fly out of Raiatea.
Well that was our day and with two engines working again I didn’t mind the Kimberley cool beer.

 09/10/2007 Mi Querida arrives at Raiatea

This morning just before we were having breakfast there was a radio call on VHF 16. “Mi Querida to Airport Control”, requesting passage in front of the airstrip. Airport control did not answer, we have noticed they very rarely do. Leigh had arrived at Raiatea. I called him up after his third call and told him that they may not answer his call and that there is a mooring spare on our port side when he gets here.

(We did not see this sign when we arrived)

Nancy and I had breakfast as we new it would take him a little time to get here. As soon as he was near I hopped in the dinghy to assist him at the mooring. It was the one that Fantasy 1 got tangled in, it does not have a good length of rope that reaches out of the water, and the loop is below the surface. It has been a mongrel of a night and morning weather wise. The wind is up to 25 knots and it is raining on and off. I knew I was going to get wet one way or another and it was going to be difficult for me in the dinghy and Leigh’s yacht to hold near the mooring buoy in these conditions. I hauled the buoy into the dinghy on the starboard side so I could face the yacht as it approached me as I knew Leigh operates the lines over his starboard side and therefore my dinghy would not be in his way. The problem was that the wind and waves was trying to push me in front of the yacht so I had to keep kicking the gear to the astern position to stay in position. As the stern of the dinghy was facing the oncoming wind and waves water was continually spilling into the back of the boat and giving me a wet backside. Doing this and holding on to the mooring buoy in the boat and at the same time trying to catch the mooring line from Jenny and feeding it through the eye was fun. The first attempt failed as I did get the mooring line threaded but the wind blew Mi Querida back and I could not feed the line back to them quick enough. We succeeded on the second attempt.
Leigh and Jenny had had a rough night with the weather and sea conditions. Leigh said that at one stage a wave hit so hard it broke the boom preventer (rope that stops the boom from gybing), he harnessed up and went to recover it, he said as the boat rocked the broken preventer swung towards him and he grabbed it as he did another wave came and he was still holding tight the preventer when the boom swung and took him over the side, he went into the sea up to his waist when the harness held him so he was able to grab the rails and pull himself back on board. This gave him two burn type bruises where the harness had grabbed him. Later he said it was that rough that they decided to have some soup for tea. He perched himself snug near the chart table and put his soup on the table when another wave hit spilling the soup over his right thigh. This morning he is wearing a few very nasty burn blisters. He said the first thing he thought of was to get it cool so he grabbed the container that had the rest of the soup ditched that in the sink turned the tap on filled the container and poured it over the burn area. Unfortunately just before this Jenny had used the tap in the hot water position so Leigh got the remnants of hot water in the container instead of cold. After that he grabbed cold cans of beer and rolled the cold cans over the burn area and continued to do that through the night.
He said they were both a little sea sick out there last night, it was pretty rough. They came over for coffee after they had tided up the boat after spilled soup and noodles going everywhere.
A New Zealand yacht also arrived with Leigh, he had met them in Tahiti, and it is quite some yacht 65 ft aluminium probably worth quite a tidy sum.
We are still waiting for the fridge man to turn up, to be honest I don’t blame him for not coming in this weather, he has to have a dinghy ride out to our cat and part of the work is through an open hatch at the stern. I have just found out he will be here this afternoon, probably on his way home as he lives out this way.
Also we probably will not be hauled out until Friday now it is cutting it fine we fly out on Monday morning.

 10/10/2007 – Met some Kiwi’s

Yesterday did not start out well still no refrigeration man so again I went in to see Amandine and asked if she could contact the company again, she did and this time got on to Chris himself, he said he would be here by 1100 hours. I went in to pick him up in the dinghy he apologised for being late he had been very busy and the weather also held jobs up.
He checked the system out and gave me the news that I didn’t want to hear but had suspected the compressor had packed it in. I said I will not do anything until we get back from Oz. He said buy it in Oz as it will be cheaper. Another item to add to the shopping list.
In the mean time we have purchased some ice and using the fridge/freeze as an esky, got to keep the beer cold.
We had a good break in the weather so I started stripping the boat of it sails, removed the Genoa first and rolled it up and stored it the starboard aft cabin, then did the mainsail then the sail bag. The poor boat looks rather bare. Before we leave on Monday morning I will remove the bimini and store that below also. We are removing everything we can that cause problems during strong winds.
Then we had an invite for dinner on board “Evolution” owned by two kiwis, it is aluminium 65’ monohull. I would say it is worth over $1m bracket. It is well finished and as Doug the owner said that he feels the original chap that had it built had owned previous boats and had this perfect boat in mind and got a very good architect to put it on paper and had it built. All lines/sheets can be handled from the cockpit and there are no visible lines on the upper deck they are beneath the upper deck and there are plates that can be moved to access the lines at critical points. They had to go to Alaska to pick the boat up. They have a couple of Americans as crew, Cooper and Harold, two very nice blokes. Cooper is a young 26 year old that absolutely loves sailing, he also cooks a mean pizza. He served up five pizzas last night with intervals that was complimented with a number of bottles of red wine. We were all chatting away when I looked at my watch it was midnight, I said if you guys want to set sail tomorrow we best leave and let you get to bed. We dropped Leigh and Jenny at their boat and went back on ours and crashed till the usual time of 0500 hours.
 This morning Cooper and Harold came over to get some weather reports from me and check some of the sites I use for weather information. I told them that the weather between here and NZ is not good but they still sailed.
After this we cycled into town and showed Leigh and Jenny where everything was did a little shopping then head back and had a good swim to cool off. We have Leigh and Jenny coming over for dinner tonight so we will probably have a few good laughs.
The hauling out yard is very busy getting everything put on the new tractor so we hope to be hauling out tomorrow, if it does not happen tomorrow we are going have to get Leigh to do the haul out for us as we fly out first thing Monday morning and the yard does not work weekends. There are two catamarans waiting to go in the water, they are doing a runner for NZ. So the plan is to put them in then haul us out tomorrow.

13/10/2007 

Back to the Land of Oz

The last four days in Raiatea was rain and strong winds which did not make it easy for packing up the boat. It was fortunate that we picked the window of opportunity when there was a break in the weather to get the sails and sail bag down and put away because when the rain returned it did not stop. Leigh being Leigh invited us for dinner our last two nights so that we could concentrate on getting things put away and not having to worry about cooking on board.
Saturday (13 Oct), we cleaned the boat; I made sure that all bilges were dry to prevent any condensation which would reduce the risk of mould whilst the boat was locked up for three months. I filled the water tanks to increase the weight of the boat. Nancy commented about making the boat lighter. I said that I want it as heavy as we can for any strong winds that may occur whilst on the hard.
Saturday night we went over to Leigh’s boat and he and Jenny had cooked us a very nice dinner, we were fortunate there was a short break in the heavy rain whilst we went out in the dinghy, we weren’t so lucky when we came back to the boat. We went to bed pretty well straight away and we just dropped off to sleep when the VHF radio came to life, a person was calling to see if someone could assist him, a person with a French accent answered the call. The boat in trouble had run aground in the bad weather not far from where we were and was asking for someone to contact SunSail Charter to inform them that they need assistance. The person that answered went quiet and the Sunsail boat continued to call for assistance. I got out of bed and answered the call. The caller explained his situation and location and asked if I could contact Sunsail. I left Nancy by the radio and I went out in the mongrel weather to see if I could find someone that could make a phone call to Sunsail. The house above the chandlers had lights on so I went up and knocked on the front door. Jacque one of the owners happened to be there and he phoned the manager of Sunsail and got me to explain to her what the problem was. They said they will get in contact with “Amistique” the boat that was in trouble . I returned to our boat and called “Amistique” and said that Sunsail will be in contact with them and I would stand by the radio until they did.
It was sometime later that Sunsail came on the radio calling Amistique, and Amistique answered but Sunsail could not hear them, so I then became the relay for the transfer of information between the two parties. I had a feeling that the bloke on Amistique was an Aussie because after I saw a boat heading his way to rescue them I gave him a call to tell him that the boat is underway and he should be seeing it very soon as I knew that when help is needed you can relax a little when you know that assistance is close by. He replied thanks very much mate. It was that mate word that made the Aussie connection.
Sunday I pulled the motor off the dinghy and locked that away and then lifted the dinghy out of the water and lashed it down on the trampolines. I did not want to put it on the davits because it would cause problems in windy conditions. We continued packing things away and cleaning. I had to cycle up to the airport and just confirm our flights for Monday on the way back it poured rain just as I was passing Apooiti Marina, I knew there was a dry place there, the bar, but unfortunately they close between 1430 and 1800 hours. So I just sheltered there until the rain dropped off, I called around to the Catamaran that had been in trouble Amistique to see if they were alright, their gear was there but there was no one on board so I went back to the boat. Sunday night Leigh rowed in to pick us up for dinner, when we got on board his yacht the rain poured down and did not stop all through the night, so when we had finished dinner Leigh took us back to our boat we were all like drowned rats.
Monday morning we got up and the rain was tapering off a little, I looked over at the dinghy dock and the dinghies there were full of water, one dinghy was below the waterline and the outboard motor was drowned. I was very pleased that I had pulled my dinghy out the day before.
 We had to do the final stuff, I pulled the bimini cover down and packed that away, gave the push bikes a clean ready to lock those in the saloon before we left and then went and packed my bag ready to leave. Once done it was shower and dress time, I put on a pair of long pants a shirt and shoes. The shoes were killing me, it is the first time I have had shoes on in more than five months.
Once dressed I went to see the lovely Amandine to give her a set of keys for the boat and ask if I could bring the bags to the office until the taxi came. She was again apologising for not being able to haul the boat before we left and she promised to send photos and make sure I was happy with what they have done.
After getting the bags to the office it was time to leave, Amandine gave us both a hug before leaving and she said she had a special thing that would wish us luck and we basically hooked our little fingers on our right hands similar to a hand shake. Amandine said this is her special way of wishing us luck with our journey and being with our families when we get home.
As we were about to leave it poured of rain although the taxi driver tried to cover us with an umbrella it did not save us much we were soaked to the skin. We got to the airport and it still rained. Planes were late due to the weather so we were a little late in leaving.
We arrived at Papeete, Tahiti, it was still pouring of rain there so I said to Nancy we may as well go straight to the resort, it will not be any fun going into town in this, Nancy agreed. We got to the resort and it was very nice, we were on the sixth floor overlooking the pool and the bay although it was raining it was still a good view. Once settled in the room we went to the restaurant for lunch, had a nice lunch and a couple of red wines then returned to the room for a relax. Nice big king size bed and we turned a TV on for the first time in nearly six months and watched a movie.
Later we had a shower and changed for dinner, we went down to the bar for a few drinks first before sitting for dinner, the meals were very nice and the prices were the same as what one would pay at any restaurant within the French Polynesian Islands. Had a nice bottle of red with the dinner and just relaxed. Once back in the room we had a coffee and got everything ready for morning and had an early night.
At 0400 hours the alarm went off and we got up had some fruit and fruit juice that they had brought up for us the night before, had a shower, dressed and made our way to reception and got our taxi to the airport, it was a long day, we left at 0710 hours Tuesday 16 October, Tahiti time (-10 hours from GMT/UTC), then landed in NZ at 1210 hours Wednesday 17 October, NZ time (+7 hours from GMT/UTC), this being around a 6 hour flight. We then left NZ around 1400 hours NZ time and landed in Brisbane at 1600 hours (+10 hours from GMT/UTC) being another 6 hour flight. Melinda and grandson Samuel was at the airport to meet us and to take us home to their place. After Steve got home from work we had a nice dinner a couple of drinks and we crashed in bed. I awoke this morning at 0400 hours to the calls of kookaburras, I laid there listening for awhile when nature called and I had to get up.
 Now in Australia for three months before returning to Raiatea on 13 January 2008.