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Monday, February 29, 2016

The Ghost Ship and the Lucky Dutch

This post is for a couple cruising friends that asked to see photos of their boat.

The first boat is sv Heritage. We call her the ghost ship. When winds kicked up last New Year's Eve, she dragged her mooring through a crowded anchorage. She ended up at the other end of the creek nestled nicely in a new location.
Sv Heritage parked perfectly in the mangroves

When Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Savusavu a little over a week ago, Heritage found a nice cushy spot in the mangroves. It's like her ghost captain purposely drove it to safety and parked it in the mangroves.

For our friend Humberto... nothing big to report on your boat during the New Year's Eve unexpected blow, and minimal findings after Winston tore up the anchorage. The fire hose chafe gear rubbed through... definitely a wonderful use for used fire hose! And on your port side, we detected some chafe on your mooring lines.

Either way you look at it, The Ghost Ship and the Lucky Dutch both came out alright. 
Doing a happy dance for them... doing a happy dance for them...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hotspur, Fiji and a Cat 5 Tropical Cyclone

We've been super lucky over the years dodging hurricanes and cyclones. We missed Jimena in Mexico in 2009 when we ran north in our sailboat, Windfall. After destroying parts of the southern Baja, Jimena pin-balled just south of us and ran east to Guaymas and San Carlos. We never even saw a drop of rain. And we'd left La Paz just 6 months before Hurricane Odile hit in 2014, a Category 3. Other hurricanes and cyclones over the years struck well away from us, too.

When the maps tracked Tropical Cyclone Winston zooming over Savusavu we thought maybe we'd be lucky again. But it soon became clear that we needed to take Winston seriously. For the first time in almost 8 years of cruising, we took down our sails to prepare for a tropical storm.

The boating community was struck hard in Savusavu. Many of our friends ended up on the rocks. Some of the vessels can be refloated. It's a slow process, but one-by-one boats are getting pulled off.

Hotspur stayed on her mooring and lost a solar panel and a few other minor things. Otherwise, she's fine. Many moorings dragged. A few boats broke free when chafe gear failed.

Tropical Cyclone Winston was scheduled to hit on the evening of Saturday, 2/20. It made its debut before noon. Around 10:00a.m., the Westerlund (a large ferry) tried to squeeze into the anchorage. It hit two boats before reversing back out of the entrance. The crew actually went to several boats on moorings and asked them to move! The added chaos didn't go over well in the cruising fleet.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wyndcutter's Harrowing Passage

Craig and Carol Fleetwood made a decision that changed their lives. When they sailed past us in the Savusavu, Fiji anchorage in October 2015, we were waving our hands and blowing kisses. "We'll see you down the road!" one of us said. "We'll probably turn around and see you tomorrow," Carol said in a stage whisper.

But the Fleetwoods kept going and made remarkable time to the Marquesas from Savusavu. We smiled when we found out they were sharing Thanksgiving dinner with mutual friends in Nuku Hiva. "Maybe that's what we should have done," either Jim or I said. The Fleetwoods made it look easy.
Carol and Craig at my BIG 50 birthday dinner (Sept. 2015)

Making decisions... it's one of the hardest things cruisers face when cruising.
What is the weather pattern?
Where do we want to end up and when?
How long do we have left on our Visa?
How much longer can the boat stay in the country?
Have we finished our priority repairs?

And once a decision has been made, you prepare:
Is there enough food for X days?
We carry X amount of fuel - we can use it here, here and here.
Here are our back-up supplies... just in case.
Back up charts?
If this happens, we have this...
If that happens, we have that...

But, in real life you can't plan for everything. When Craig and Carol decided to throw the dice and route their 48' Island Packet to Mexico from the Marquesas, they had no idea what they were gambling. When I read Carol's account on her blog, the hair on my neck stood on end.