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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Atuona, Hiva Oa - Day 1 & 2 & 3

Atuona, Hiva Oa
Day 1 & 2 & 3

Beautifully green, humid, lots and lots of fruit trees, lots of hibiscus flowers, salvia, wild basil, and lush grasses, lots of chickens and chicks running wild, lots of friendly smiling helpful Marquesan people... that is a first impression.

Atuona anchorage offers delicious and free potable water, a free outdoor shower and free trash receptacle.
Internet is slow and $20 US per day. Many people choose to purchase a key and pass it along to someone else to split the cost.
We hired the agents (Tahiti Crew) for $290 US to help us check in with French officials and in return we receive duty free fuel. Check in was 15 minutes – very easy and no hassle at all.
Laundry is very, very expensive – we were told by one cruiser that 2 large loads cost him $70 US. With the free water at the anchorage Hotspur will be doing laundry by hand, as do many other cruisers.
Carolyne and I walked into town the first day – 45 minutes or so. Felt so good to stretch our legs. Several grocery stores in town, a bank with ATM and darling local girls who helped me figure out how to open the bank door. (You slide your ATM card through a slot to open the door – never seen that before).
Jim later found New Zealand canned butter, French corned beef and pate. We found the prices not to be too terribly outrageous – about $3.50 US for half a kilo of butter and $3.80 US for the corned beef.
We bought some of the longest green beans I've ever seen (we steamed them that evening and they were divine!!) and a handful of sweet bananas from a local woman selling produce out of her truck for $4.60.
We climbed a steep hill to try and get a good view – a woman in her truck stopped and asked us if we wanted a lift. She took us to the top and let us off – spectacular views!
Very little English is spoken here – Carolyne and I are busy trying to learn French as fast as we can. The Marquesan language is Greek to us altogether.

The 3 of us went to a local store and bought some champagne pate, fresh baguette, Hinano Tahiti beer and a soda and went to the local park for a picnic. We sat on large rocks under fruit trees and devoured our lunch. It was lovely!

Upon returning to the boat, a French official with a megaphone was calling across the bay requesting boats NOT behind the yellow markers to move (a large freighter was coming in that night). A mad rush ensued as captains and crew motored in and re-anchored – including Hotspur. It is very, very cozy in an unpleasant way... but what can you do? Seven boats moved (2 left the bay altogether) and one new one arrived just after the chaos settled. There are 23 boats now nestled tightly together and there are 2 more we know about scheduled to arrive today.

The water is murky green and the locals swim behind the sandbar at low tide in the riverlets – not in the anchorage. We would love to go swimming, but this is not the place to do it. We're not sure why, but when in Rome...

We understand the best archeological site with rock formations and tikis in all of French Polynesia is right here in Atuona and we plan a trip in the near future. Also the grave site of Paul Gauguin... and a museum dedicated to him with some of his works is right smack in the middle of town. Wednesday we receive our certificate for duty-free fuel and there is a very convenient fuel dock here for jerry jugging – we will take advantage of that.

So far, the feedback we're receiving from cruisers who left from La Cruz is that they are very happy to have arrived and they did not enjoy their passage. One woman who has made an Atlantic crossing swears it was so much easier compared to the Pacific. Of course, everyone envies our route and wishes they had done the same.

Day 3 it rained and rained and rained some more. That was laundry day – which is now re-scheduled. Jim and I were also going to try and lower the jib which appears to be stuck in the track – but again, we'll have to wait for another day. Our friends on s/v Round About arrived and we had fun catching up with them for several hours. The rain didn't stop Carolyne – she put her umbrellas in her backpack and complained enough until Jim finally went into town with her. Meanwhile, more boats anchored and we were up to 30 by the end of the day.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 23 & 10 hours – LAND HO!

Day 23 & 10 hours – LAND HO!
(Sunday April 27, 2014)

We slowed the boat down – pulled in the jib, mizzen was already dropped - and kept 2 reefs in the mainsail. We arrived at the island of Hiva Oa in the dark and mosied slowly toward the anchorage in Atuona. By the morning light, we pulled out the sails and reached the mouth of the anchorage. The dark volcanic cliffs resonated green and lush as the sun rose higher and the clouds enveloped the top of the cliffs – it was a beautiful sight to behold! - even Carolyne eagerly got out of bed and joined us on deck to inhale the glorious view.

We motored into the anchorage – there were 20 boats bow and stern anchored. We saw shallow depths of 1.5' below our keel and decided to drop anchor closer to the entrance – not exactly behind the yellow markers which indicate space left for the delivery ships that come in to drop off provisions – but we were told another ship wasn't expected for a couple weeks. We have never ever anchored in such a crowded area – so close to other vessels. It is a bit intimidating. Damn scary!

Our Route:
Jim hated the sails slapping in the wind and preferred a beam reach approach (mas o menos) which took us well south of the Socorro Islands. Most boats went more northerly – some passing north of the Soccoros. And it helped that we conferred with our friend, Evan, who said go South West. Our route is snake-like because we went where the wind took us... sometimes not very fast (I think I mentioned previously that we had 10 days with 10 knots of wind or less)... ours was certainly not a direct approach. We saw our fair share of squalls, but no thunder and no lightening. Overall, our passage weather-wise was very good... even though we motored through the ITCZ for 2 days because we saw lots of rain, 2 knots of current against us and no wind at all.

We talked to several friends – they complained of horrible conditions while sailing the Pacific and one even threatened to sell his boat before he arrived. They had hired weather people to direct them – and they were instructed to head due west. The conditions were so uncomfortable they couldn't cook a single meal and sustained on peanut butter sandwiches the entire trip... and it took them over 25 days to arrive even though they motored through the ITCZ. Those of us that headed south and a tad west experienced much better sailing, less wind but enough to push us across and we arrived here faster... Carolyne and I made delicious meals, including homemade bread, hand-made tortillas for breakfast tacos, meat spaghetti ladled over brown rice pasta, pork chili stew with cornbread muffins, fresh peanut butter cookies and fried cherry pies, my grandmother's recipe.

Tooting our own horn: 4-5 boats left 1 to 3 days ahead of us. We were the first one here. Our second night here and most still under-way. Yeah Hotspur!

Internet is $20US a day – very expensive – and rumor is that it doesn't work very well. We'll get some photos posted when we can. But YAY! We're here!!

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day 21 & Day 22

Day 21 & Day 22

Again – nothing broke and we are sailing beautifully along. We have only one more night before we arrive.

We check-in regularly to the Pacific Puddlejump SSB radio net every evening. It is customary to report your position, course, speed and wind speed and direction. The net controllers keep record so that in the event something happens there is some inkling of where you might be. (I am Net Controller on Tuesday nights... I don't do it more often because someone has to steer while the SSB is on – some whacky ferrite problem!) It is also nice to hear other voices and learn the progress (or sometimes not!) of the individual boats as they traverse the longest ocean crossing... together, but so alone and so far apart. We were within VHF radio communications with another sailboat over 2 weeks ago for about 15 hours. Then we passed them until finally we were out of range. Since then, we have seen no other boats at sea and we have heard no other boats on the VHF radio.

Jim and I are reading Herman Melville's TYPEE, a sailor's account of the Marquesas in 1842 and his haphazard escape from a whaling ship's tyrannical captain into the welcoming arms of a lip-smacking cannibalistic tribe, thus 'Typee' or "gourmandizers of human flesh". What thrills me most about Melville's descriptions are the crossing on the Pacific Ocean almost 175 years ago – very similar to our experience.

"The sky presented a clear expanse of the most delicate blue, except along the skirts of the horizon, where you might see a thin drapery of pale clouds which never varied their form or colour. The long, measured, dirge-like well of the Pacific came rolling along, with its surface broken by little tiny waves, sparkling in the sunshine. Every now and then a shoal of flying fish, scared from the water under the bows, would leap into the air, and fall the next moment like a shower of silver into the sea."

Other than the flying fish and the Skipjack Tuna we almost caught a day or so ago, we have seen no other sea life – maybe a small bird, too far away to identify. No whales, no dolphins, no sea turtles – and thankfully, no more boobies.

We will have to slow the boat down later this evening, as we plan to anchor down in the morning light of the 23rd day in Hiva Oa. We have a bottle of champagne chilled in the ice box and prime rib thawing so we can plop it on the grill for our celebration dinner. Some mashed potatoes and the last of the refrigerated carrots along with a handful of dried cranberries will make nice accompaniments. Carolyne has dibs on the remaining lemons; she wants to make a fruity "Land Ho!" dessert. We are so excited!!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 20

Day 20

Knock-knock on my little wooden head...
nothing broke!
And we almost sort of caught a fish.
We definitely HOOKED it – we just managed to lose it getting it up to the boat.
Tim and Jim had fishing down pat – like pros. Now that Tim is no longer a crew member, the three of us are lost. Jim, Carolyne and I raced around trying to figure out what exactly it was we were each supposed to do when the fishing line took off running. It was just like the Three Stooges. I was shouting "Fish On!! Fish On!!" Jim mumbled something about stopping the spooling line as he ran off to reduce the sails. I grabbed the pole and realized I couldn't lift it out of the holder. Carolyne was last to come up on deck and Jim put her at the helm – which she lost control of immediately. Jim grabbed the pole and I went for the gaff. Jim grabbed the gaff and told me to bring the pole on the other side of the shrouds – I couldn't because his head was in the way. Carolyne came to help and I grabbed the helm. Carolyne held onto the pole while Jim tried to gaff the fish... but the boat was rocking, the line was too short and the fish kept coming out of the water. I left the helm and grabbed onto Carolyne, as it was fairly obvious to me she might pitch overboard. Jim was shouting at us to keep the fish in the water - and then it was gone. And then Jim hit Carolyne in the head with the gaff as he stood up. There was lots of shouting and arm flailing and pointing and shrieking and then all was quiet.
The only consolation is that it was a Skipjack Tuna – not sure they are very good to eat. And if they are, please don't tell us otherwise.

The last 3 days or so have been magic. The trade winds have carried us long and far – Jim and I have done little to nothing with the sails. This is just the way we imagined the Pacific crossing. We made 164 miles yesterday – total bliss! We had a conversation about how we thought most of the days would be like the ones we've experienced lately. Not so – we figure we have had at least 10 days of 10 knots or less. But the last few have been marvelous – we really like to sail fast!

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 18 & 19

Day 18 & 19

Strong winds – boat speed 6 - 7+ knots. Yesterday we did 160 miles!

So what broke? I'll tell you... the Ram for the auto pilot broke at 3am. I hand steered for 6 hours while Jim replaced it – hydraulic fluid on the head liner, all over the soles, the cushions and Jim was slip-sliding all over the place as the boat raced onward. Jim nearly lost his arm a couple times as he tried to work inside the auto pilot components with the boat heeling over while strong waves jarred Hotspur upwind and I tried to correct her steerage – Jim moving his arm arm around to keep it from being crushed. What is particularly frustrating about this boat failure is that we paid someone in La Paz over $100 to service the unit and replace all the seals.

So what did we do? We installed a brand new in the box never been used Ram that we had hoped to re-sell and recoup a little money. Never mind – we are thrilled we had it on board and that the auto pilot is back in working order. Yay! In case you're wondering, Carolyne slept through the whole ordeal. We did, however, wake her up at 2pm and send her on watch while Jim and I took a nap.

Fewer squalls the last couple days – beautiful blue water – overall comfortable conditions – heeling, but either it's not too severe or else we're just used to it. Sailing performance is very nice – especially for this older model sailboat. Hotspur is really something!

Our estimation is that we will arrive in the Marquesas either late Saturday or early Sunday morning. Just 4 more nights at the most if we keep this up!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 17

Day 17

We found ourselves a little over 2* south of the Equator and in a torrent of sequential squalls – all day long. I don't think we have seen this much rain in 6 years - combined. The auto pilot doesn't like the force of the squally waves and chose a particularly gnarly squall in which to crap out. Carolyne and I took turns hand steering while Jim went to inspect things. The pump apparently blew itself apart. Hydraulic fluid was everywhere. It took an hour or so, but Jim fished out all the little pieces and rebuilt the unit – no specs and since he didn't take the unit apart he was just guessing how to re-build it – but she is back in working order... thankfully! We do carry spare auto pilot parts, by the way, including a spare pump – should Jim's re-build fail down the road.

When we bought Hotspur she came with numerous canvas and Strattaglass panels for an enclosed cockpit – none of which we have ever used with the exception of 2 small side panels we sometimes put up to reduce chill at night. With pouring rain, we dug out the panels and installed them – wishing now that we had replaced every zipper... no telling how old they are, but they are certainly shot. What luxury, though, to have a practically dry cockpit while being pelted by stinging angry gusty rain!

Our bimini was leaking a bit we noticed a few days ago during a drizzle so Jim filled a spray bottle with Thompson's and during a dry spell went to town on the Sunbrella. Thompson's is a fabulous water repellent (we got ours at Home Depot in Mexico) and now there are no raindrops that keep falling on our heads.

Chafe has been our biggest nemesis of late. It's shocking how the same line in the same place is totally fine for 2 weeks and then it moves an inch or two and in 3 hours time it is nearly chafed through. That is what happened with our jib sheet today – brand new! The two braid Class I nylon – chafed completely through the cover and partially through the core. We now check for chafe every few hours during daylight. Any chafe zones on the rigging that we can reach while underway we can wrap with firehose. Anything we can't reach will have to wait until we are at anchor and can hoist Jim up in the bosun's chair.

All the sails I went over with a fine tooth comb before I left Snug Harbor Sails. They are faring well overall. The jib needs some handwork at the leech near the clew and I need to adjust the puckerstring again at the head. The mainsail appears to be in good overall condition. We lost another slide at the batten end. And the lowest full batten has a tendency at times to twist inside the batten pocket. That's not good. The mizzen sail is brand new – I made it myself. It's beautiful – if I do say so!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Day 16 - Equatorial Easter

Day 16 - Equatorial Easter

To celebrate Easter, Carolyne and I made homemade English muffins the day before in preparation for an Eggs Benedict brunch. The canned ham we were saving was a perfect substitute for Canadian bacon and the homemade hollandaise sauce turned out thick and creamy-yellow and scrumptious! We topped our creations with paprika and black olives and placed sliced grapefruit and avocado to the side. Carolyne and I were pretty dang impressed with ourselves. The only disappointment... the eggs (even though we refrigerated these particular ones so they would be gelatinous and therefore easier to flip over-easy) broke after cracking... every single one. So we had no choice but to scramble them.

(NOTE: I forgot to list lemons a few days ago... we stored them in the veggie trays but just 10 days later 2 or 3 turned nasty green with mold. I bathed them in soapy bleach water and moved them to the refrigerator. The juice from 1 made a sinfully good hollandaise sauce. And I think lemon bars might be in the near future.)

In the afternoon, we laid the spinnaker on deck to dry. Turns out that the halyard had chafed completely through... right below the shackle after just 4 hours of being hoisted. Once at anchorage in Hiva Oa we'll have to run a messenger line to retrieve the halyard – which is now somewhere inside the mast – then check to see what the heck is chafing it through so we can keep that from happening again. Unfortunately, we won't be able to use the spinnaker until we arrive in the Marquesas and resolve this issue. And we only have that one chute.

Crossing the Equator and graduating from "polliwog" to "shellback" was a stellar event. We all dressed up and Carolyne played the part of King Neptune. Even Jim let Carolyne paint his face and he video taped the festivities. We celebrated with crackers and brie, chocolates, ice cream and champagne. Conditions were way to windy and choppy to swim across -but that was only a wee bit disappointing as we happily accept any and all wind at this point in time. With less than 1/3 of the way to go, we are very eager to get a move on!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 14 & 15

Day 14: Position 02*57N 124*54W
Day 15: 01*23N 125*58W

Exiting the ITCZ and nearing the Equator... few to no squalls now. Wind on the nose and 2 knots of current against us. Shameless as we are we turned the key and started the engine. And the next day there was absolutely NO WIND – none. Zilch. Zero. Nada, Nothing. Occasionally a burst of 2 knots coming from somewhere sent us running to the bow to raise the spinnaker... only to watch it flop and flail and snap... and so we lowered her – again. As we have been keeping track of all the boat in our small flotilla to French Polynesia, I recorded that many boats above the Equator were motor sailing – anywhere between 05.00N and below 02.00N to 123.00W and 129.00W.

We used this time to tighten the puckerstring on the headsail's leech – close to the head there was flutter we didn't like. We also checked all lines for chafe – found some bad areas. We cut chafed line off and used some sail tape for chafe guard... worse area on the sheet where we have been poling out the jib. And my new dinghy chaps have been rubbed clear through in one spot where we have her secured on the davits. We re-adjusted the dinghy and I will repair the chaps once we are at anchor.

In the evening Day 15 we got a beautiful SE breeze that filled the spinny full and sent us racing ahead quietly at 5 knots. It was so nice that we dared to spinny through the night... a choice we regretted 4 hours later. I was woken from my sleep by Carolyne who alerted me the captain needed help. I quickly donned my harness and ran on deck. Except for the tack and the clew, the spinnaker and douser were completely in the water and being dragged behind us. Jim and I heaved and hoed until it was back on board – no halyard was found. The only explanation is that the shackle broke, the halyard chafed through or that the shackle pin loosed. Getting that halyard back down is going to be a nightmare – as we are no longer flat calm.

Luckily we have the genoa – so furled her out and kept on going.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 12 & 13

Day 12 & 13

Our fresh provisions are coming to an end. I attended a seminar in La Cruz on how to prepare fruit and veggies for sailing voyages – what to do to them to make them last longer unrefrigerated. In the end, this is what we brought with us, this is what we did to them, and this is the result:
1. TOMATOES: I bought a flat of green tomatoes, did NOT wash them, wrapped each individually in paper towels and stored them in a plastic vegetable crate stacked neatly in the shower (the best dark and cool spot Jim and I could think of). Had I not been an eager beaver and bought them a full week before we actually left they would still be in excellent condition. But wonderful weather windows do not show themselves weeks ahead, so I took my chances. Now they are on their last leg. We've sliced and dried them, we've made fresh sauces and salsas – and lots of summer salads.
2. CABBAGES: We kept all the outer leaves on the cabbages and stored them in a green, plastic mesh bag forward. We didn't wash them. They lasted 2 weeks before getting smelly and contracting mold. I think we should have removed the ugly outer leaves as we went along.
3. POTATOES: We preferred to purchase unwashed potatoes, but couldn't find any. We stored these separately in a plastic veggie crate and in the shower. They are still nice and firm and no eyes.
4. GRAPEFRUIT: We only bought a few, did nothing to them and ate them within 2 weeks time.
5. LIMES: We did nothing to them, stored them in a plastic crate in the shower with cucumbers, bell peppers, grapefruit, avocados and pears. They are turning yellow, but are fine. If they begin to get hard I was told to drop them in some boiling water for a few minutes and they will be plump enough to squeeze.
6. BELL PEPPERS: Have lasted 2 weeks in the plastic veg container, although they have turned red and are very wrinkly.
7. PEARS: Bought very hard and threw the last 2 away 3 days ago.
8. CUCUMBERS: Washed, dried well and wrapped individually in paper towels – put in veg trays in shower. Have turned a bit yellow, but have remained crisp and flavorful.
9. ONIONS: I removed the ugly outer skins on the red and yellow onions , stuck them in a white muslin bag and stored in the bottom of the locker where we throw our dirty laundry. I check every so often and if there is a moldy patch or bruised area, I remove that layer.
10. GALA APPLES: We removed the stickers, washed well and rinsed and dried, and stored in hanging hammocks with other dry goods – no other fruits or veggies. They are still juicy and crunchy 2 weeks later.
11. ZUCCHINI: Didn't last a week. Wrapped in paper towels and stored in stackable veg trays. They got ugly spots on the outside and turned orange on the inside. Will refrigerate next time.

The produce we decided to refrigerate were lettuce, carrots, celery, avocados and cilantro. A day or so before we want to eat the avocados I remove one or two from the fridge and stick in the veg trays in the shower to ripen.

The kimchi we made several weeks ago is FABULOUS! The taste is pretty strong now – the garlic, radishes and the few Serrano peppers have infused and give it a hot-ish flavor without being too spicy. It is absolutely delicious. It is still in its 5 gallon air tight container in the shower – no refrigeration. Of course, if you hate sauerkraut you will likely not have love for kimchi. But it is such a great source of nutrition for cruisers. Don't forget that you can make fermented veg in much smaller batches.

And as of Day 13, we are motor sailing for the first time in almost 2 weeks - through the ITCZ. Wind is now on the nose from the south and we have a current against us. After conferring with our weather guru, we have decided to make a B-line to 2*N latitude and try to shake the moving target. We've altered course slightly west to gain some speed. Very squally conditions – thankfully no thunder or lightening.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 10 & 11

Day 10 & 11

My husband is a super stud! He ran a 10 gauge wire to juice up the autopilot. It had actually begun shutting itself off several times during the night even after the batteries were fully charged – and I will tell you that it is a horrific feeling. Jim did a lot of reading, some tweaking with the settings and tinkering with the Ram. I can't tell you how relieved we all are that his methods made all the difference in the world! The unit is actually running beautifully now. None of us would ever consider doing this passage without an autopilot on purpose – never.

I, on the other hand, had one of those days. The eggs wriggled free of their bonds and a dozen or so of them plunged over the lee cloth to their deaths from the top bunk, smashing themselves and ruining our lovely cabbages. That was a very icky mess. The back of Nav Station swivel chair broke so I glued and hammered it back together fearing that if I didn't do so right away that one of us might become impaled on the sharp pieces of wood spindles sticking out. As I was working away on the chair, the seat of my pants became wet... a BIG wave had hit the side of the boat and water saturated our bed, linens, pillows and settee cushions... because an itty bitty port hole was open to let in some fresh breeze. After that I took a fresh water shower so that the rest of me didn't stink like my day. I went to my drawer to get some fresh, clean clothes – and everything in it was wet. Yet another leak.

I have asked Carolyne to write a little something to share – from a teenager's perspective. She sleeps a lot these days. (If nothing follows this sentence in this paragraph it is because I haven't received anything – probably because she is still in bed!)

We are half way there!! We should be crossing the equator in a couple days. We are thrilled with the Tartan – she sails fabulously despite our attempts to make her do things that defy physics. We are continually learning how to sail her better and under what conditions. Jim and I are actually sailing her 'together' – and I am anticipating what he wants me to do without him having to ask. That is like... well, HUGE for us. In addition, I no longer am the cockpit sailor. On my night watches, if a squall is coming and I have to furl in the jib – then I do so. We have actually caught up with and passed several boats that left La Cruz a couple of days before we did. Not that this is a race... but... ;)

And I am now going to go enjoy a little fresh breeze – in the cockpit. Because all the port holes are closed... and will remain closed.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 8-9

Day 8-9

This is our progress the last few days:
Wed 4/9... 14* 01N 112* 05W
Th 4/10... 13* 24N 113* 29W
Fr 4/11... 11* 57N 114* 50W
Sa 4/12... 11* 11N 116* 58W
Su 4/13... 10* 48N 119* 23W

Fortunately, the trades are now with us. 18-22 knots from the NE. We have gone 1070 miles.

Are we having fun? Not exactly. This is not my idea of fun. But most pilgrimages aren't. Most rites of passage require some discomfort. This is simply a means to an end. Going through "it" to get to the other side - it is all part of the process. Last night was rough. The main had 2 reefs in her and Jim partially furled the jib. We were still raging on (or so it felt) at 6.5 knots. It reminded me of sledding as a kid... lying on my belly and holding on for dear life as the vehicle beneath me surged and lunged and skidded off the sides – flying faster as she rounded corners and maneuvered over lumps... but the snow doesn't race behind you. It stays sedentary. The frothy rush of flexing waves, on the other hand, makes it feel like a giant roller coaster – inside a washing machine. Luckily, everyone has their sea legs and no one else has gotten sick since Day 1 & 2.

We run the generator everyday – very cloudy in the mornings and late afternoons. Otherwise, solar panels are keeping up in the afternoon. A few squalls – no lightening or thunder – just rain and lots of wind. We are trolling a fishing line when the seas subside, but so far have caught nothing.

I discovered how much I enjoy listening to audiobooks on my night watches. Jim has for years, but I never had the desire. This trip I collected as many audiobooks as I could and kick myself now for not doing it sooner. I just finished INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (my dear friend Jennifer recommended it). What an inspiration! What an incredible story! Jim also listened to it (narrated by the author) and we both felt that Carolyne should add it to her homeschool program so we can have a family discussion about it.

Jim and I both feel tired – not exhausted – just tired. With this wind, though, we'll arrive in Hiva Oa sooner than later. And that's okay by me!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day 8

Day 8

We area about 1/3 of the way there. Pretty good news considering the trade winds have forsaken us. Last few days have been 8-10 knots. Finally today - we are headed downwind with some good wind on our tail. It's nice for a change.

Some things that we have discovered that we wish we could change that we want to share:
1. We put new non-skid on the decks last year and thought we were so smart using sand. We regret that choice. It is too abrasive. Jim's and my soles are raw, it hurts to crawl or crab walk when conditions are a little gnarly – and we don't care for the look of it even after we painted over it. Only upside is that you could dump a load of motor oil on deck and it is guaranteed that you won't slip.
2. Reefing system for the main was just not to our liking. Jim re-rigged it underway and now we are much happier. Before, we would just lower the main altogether. Now we can put 2 reefs in the main easily and without turning upwind. This is great prep for when the squalls sneak up on you! We had very little experience with that... until now.
3. If your mainsail has slides that run inside a track, I recommend seizing a stainless or brass slide on the luff of the main on the first slide at the headboard where the halyard raises the sail. In just 5 days, my brand new Delrin (sp?) plastic slide broke. There is so much torque there. Since the webbing is still in excellent condition, I located the ONLY stainless slide we have on board. They are pricey, but the upside is that I don't have to re-seize it to the sail... I can slide the pin through the webbing that is already there and slip the metal ringlet through the hole to hold it. Easy peasy! I wish I had several more of those.
4. Auto pilot controller – we really wish we had a new controller because ours reacts too slowly and doesn't seem to be efficient. But the cost was a huge deterrent. Still – now we wish we had spent the money as our auto pilot is giving us a hard time. She's working, but she yaws too much. And she is a tremendous power pig... guzzling our charged batteries as quick as she can.
5. If we decide to get a new mainsail, we will buy (or make) one with 2 full battens at the top and 2 partial battens below. A full battened main is a booger to work with... even with Tony Morrelli's lazy bag system.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 6 and 7

Day 6 (Jim says Day 5)

Another cloudy day with winds all over the board as light and as variable as bunny farts. (Thank you Garth <sv Irish Diplomacy>, for the furry simile!) After battling the fickle flows all morning and afternoon, we opted to change course and head south where at least we won't be tacking and jibing all through the night every 15 minutes while the wind decides whether it wants to burp left, right or center. We decided not to fly the spinnaker at night and instead wing-and-wing it down on a S-SW course. Generator cranked right up today so we could flush the watermaker and charge our Androids and Kindles where we have oodles of reading material stored. I did manage to toss out a fishing line, but didn't catch even the dumbest one due to our speed being way too slow.

Day 7 (Jim says Day 6)

Spinnaker is up and the sun is shining!
Our night watches are in synch now. Carolyne takes the 8pm – 12:30pm, Jim does 12:30 – 3am (but he lays in the cockpit while Carolyne is doing her watch) and I take 3am until whenever Jim gets up... usually around 8 or 8:30am.

Jim tossed the fishing line in while I took a cool shower – with the light breezes and southwest route it is getting invariably warmer and sweatier. Just as I was drying off I heard Jim jump on the deck and head aft – which means he caught a fish! Except there was no fish – there was a darn Boobie bird's feathered fanny caught in the line. Carolyne reeled the fouled fowl in while Jim grabbed leather gloves and pliers. I held the bird's body and Jim held the beak while Carolyne cut the line which had wrapped around one wing tip, then around the body and under and over the opposite wing – and became caught up in little feather tufts here and there in between. The little devil did manage to bite my wrist before Jim could get a hold of his sharp beak – there was a hole in the edge of my glove and he found it. I poured rubbing alcohol over my cut (despite that rubbing alcohol burns!) because I don't want to have some disgusting infection in the middle of nowhere.

Note about emails:
We cannot check our regular email accounts because we have no internet aboard. I am able to blog post using our Sailmail or Winlink accounts through our Pactor Modem – but I am unable to read any comments if they have been posted. We also received weather grib files via the Pactor in addition our friend Evan in Australia sending us daily updates on weather routing. (Thank you, Evan!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day 4 & 5

Our passage has become much more enjoyable weather-wise. It is still a little rolly, but totally manageable. I was able to cook Sunday- finally. Homemade tomato basil soup for lunch and for supper we had curry pork and cabbage... pressure cooker, of course. Everyone appreciated a nice, hot meal.

Our binoculars decided to bite the dust – as if this is a good time. We absolutely could not see the halyard that was jammed at the top of the mast on Saturday– why and how and what was going on with it – and that happens to be the only halyard that runs to the top of the mast. With our binoculars not focusing, we decided to put the 250mm zoom lens on Jim's Cannon 70D - and take photos – and blow them up on the computer. Bingo! Saw the problem, fixed the problem – halyard is free now.

Monday mellowed out more as the rollers became less "knock you down hard every 3 seconds" and more "Nudge every 10 seconds or so". We needed to free the roller furling jib that freed itself in 20+ knot winds on Friday when we neglected to furl it tightly enough. Carolyne and I hoisted Jim up the forestay and we all three worked together – took several hours and we lost precious passage time while solving our problem. Once we freed her I had to cut off one complete panel of torn Sunbrella UV and sew sail tape up the leech to protect the leechtape and puckerstring that separated. The sail itself had no other damage – Hallelujah! We flew her the rest of the day and picked up another knot or two. Carolyne made us some fantastic homemade chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.

It has been overcast and cloudy for days. Our 1000 watts of solar needed back-up. Jim went to start the generator and it coughed and sputtered... and died. And repeat. He took it apart and cleaned the carburetor (it's one of those California carbs that has a small piece that always gets clogged no matter how hard you try to maintain the unit... my skinniest needle won't penetrate the tiny tube.) Again Jim tried to start it and as if we needed this to happen - the pulley yanker broke! The cord had chafed inside. I laughed. Jim yelled up to the cloudy sky. We rummaged around and found a like-size cord and replaced it – still no luck. Again, Jim took the unit apart – replaced the fuel, cleaned the carburetor once more. I ran around and got tools and rags and cans and whatever else he needed. Finally - it roared to life, but he had to rig the choke open with string to keep it running. By 5pm we were both beat. Had we not been messing around with the generator we would have flown the spinnaker – light 4-5 knot winds most of the day. We would have fished, too. But why tempt fate with yet another problem when it took us all day to solve just two?

On a sad note, we learned through friends and family that our friends on Rebel Heart have had enough and may have had to abandon their boat. We hope that our friends are okay, especially Baby Lyra who we understand became very ill during the passage. Rebel Heart was their home and I am eager to learn if everyone is okay and what has become of their boat. Carolyne is very worried for them – she babysat for Cora numerous times in La Paz and for both girls right before the Kaufmans left La Cruz so that Eric and Charlotte could have an adult night out on the town. We have them in our thoughts and hope all is well.

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

this is a test

Testing out our remote email... seems to work! Leaving Mexico  in a few hours!! We will keep you posted!!

Bon Voyage!!

This is a quickie without pics... and there will be no more photos until we reach Hiva Oa in approximately 23 days. That right - we are off as of today, April 3rd. We have what appears to be a nice weather window and so we're going for it! We will miss Mexico, but we are off to new adventures! We will be posting (if we can get it to work!) as we go along.