Saturday, August 5, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 18

4th August 2017

Current Position:09 54.4S / 139 06.2W. DTR: Zero. 24/hr run: 191.7nm. Total Passage Time: 18 days, 8 hours and 18 minutes.
Total Passage Distance Sailed: A whopping 3065nm

Just as the dawn started to break the heavens opened. We have not had a decent downpour since leaving the Galapagos and it was a welcome change. The decks and the cockpit got a well needed free washdown.
Sunrise today wasn't all that exciting but it was a special moment in time heralding the final day of our passage across the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Looking for a high perch

At 0830 the mist ahead cleared and there in the distance was the faint outline of the hills of Hiva Oa. The feeling of elation was quite overcoming. Two boobies and a pair of frigate birds soared across the sky at mast height looking magnificent. They were clearly lining up to land on the top of our mast amidst all our wind gear and antennas and we were clearly hoping they wouldn't. After many aborted attempts they gave up and went back to looking for their breakfast.

The sun was shinning and patches of blue were peaking through the clouds. A rainbow shimmered just a few miles off our port side. The shores of Hivo Oa looked steep and craggy with ragged peaks jutting skywards from the lush vegetation clinging to their sides.

Heading through the passage

The wind and sea gets squeezed through the skinny gap between Hiva Oa and Tahuata causing some extremely large waves to mount up. Me thinks that it's much better to keep the eyes focused straight ahead at this point. With the main still hoisted GWTW surfed down the face of the liquid mountains like a real pro.

Having had enough fun we turned the bows into the wind and dropped the mainsail. It was time for the workhorse to have a rest. It was only once the sail had been dropped that we realised the outer sheath on the halyard had let go. It looked just like a fallen down sock on a seven year old's shin and was crumpled on top of the headboard...bugger. We're thanking our lucky stars that that didn't happen a thousand miles ago. We would have been in deep do-do if it had.

Coming through the gap we were escorted by a couple of dolphins. One was extremely talented as he leapt out of the water amidships, did a tail stand and then propelled himself forward at least twenty feet through the air before flopping back down on the water. This wasn't a once off he repeated this trick several times In all our sea miles we have never seen a dolphin do that.

Once clear of the passage we turned south and headed into beautiful Hanamoenoa Bay. Palm trees, white sand and clear water.

At midday Marquesas time the anchor chain rattled to the sea floor and the anchor dug in.
                                        It was  over. We had arrived.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 17

3rd August 2017

Current Position: 09 15.1S / 136 43 .9W at 0200 UTC, 2000hrs Galapagos time, 1800hrs Alaska time. SOG 7.9kts. COG 250T.
Wind E 20-25kts. Sea State: rough with following seas and 10ft swells, breaking white caps. DTR 143nm. 24 hr run 191.7nm

Just after day break we gybed back to the south west. The angle is very good now and we are sailing straight down the rhumbline at last.

Over the past twenty four hours we've been mulling over where to set foot on terra firma and judge's decision is now final.

Instead of making landfall on Fatu Hiva as planned we are now targeting Hanamoenoa Bay on Tahuata, a small island just 10 miles south of Hiva Oa.

Beautiful sunrise

Strong winds are forecast for the next few days so we decided that the Bay of Virgins on Fatu Hiva would not be a wise move. Katabatic winds are known to sweep down into the bay from the high peaks above and the general rule of thumb is that if the trades are up and blowing 20+ kts the bullets off the peaks will be 40+kts. The sea floor in this bay mirrors the steep landscape above and the odd yacht has dragged anchor here. Given our level of tiredness we sure didn't want to have to worry about doing the anchor dance in the middle of the night while getting our heads blown off.

A peaceful nights sleep is what is in order, well a few actually so hence our change of plan. We will still visit Fatu Hiva but in more settled weather.

By three this afternoon the sea was getting extremely boisterous with the aqua blue crests of the braking white water behind us starting to show. It was time to reef down the mainsail. At this stage of the game the last thing we want is a gear failure.

As we gobble up the final lines of longitude it's time to turn back the hands of time once again. The last change of the clocks will put us back another half hour. The Marquesas are 30 mins different to the rest of French Polynesia.

It's also time to pop a bottle of bubbly into the fridge and get my house shipshape for our arrival. Call it nesting but I always dust, vacuum, de-salt the cockpit and do whatever else needs doing before we put the anchor down in a new country. It's just my thing.

And guess what... one more sleep and we're just about there!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 16

2nd August 2017

Current Position:10 11.70S / 134 03.1W at 0200UTC, 2000hrs boat time Galapagos, 1800hrs Alaska time. SOG 7.5kts. COG 246T. Wind: Steady ESE 14kts. Sea State: Another bouncy day with white caps. DTR:294nm. 24hr run 170nm.

After sixteen days at sea with very little sleep we are both showing the signs. We're irritable, irrational at times, not overly hungry and there's not a lot of banter happening.

All those  green fishing boats came from nowhere.

For the first time since day 3 of this passage our AIS alarm went off. The Chinese fishing fleets were at it again. Not one but six trawlers popped up on our screen, the closest being just six miles away but with the big swells we couldn't see it. It just happened to be at the very moment that we gybed the boat to the north so there was no worries about getting too close to them.

Last night we had a terrible moment. Our little seafaring Gecko Gaz who has been on board since Panama was not looking well. Every night he'd be out and about running around the galley in search of bugs attracted by the lights. Galapagos was just heaven for him but since we've left there the pickings have been mighty slim.

We've tried to coax him to eat with a little banana and whatever dead bugs we could find for him. We've even left droplets of water splashed along his usual route in the hope that it would boost his tiny metabolism. But we feared the worst. And then last night after finding him turned turtle and as motionless as a rock near the plant on the bench he did a mini Lazarus and was back on his feet again. Tonight he is curled up on my tea bag holder behind a photo of our long lost pooch. With only two days to go till we make landfall we are hoping that he makes it. The mood will be pretty dull around here if he doesn't.

Today's sailing has been another blur of sail changes, but it doesn't matter what we did the wind direction is the direction and you have to go with the flow even if that means you are going in the wrong way. We have now gybed north and once we get back up to the rhumbline will probably have to do a couple more. We really don't want to have to put the engine on if we can avoid it. No one gets a fanfare welcome if you cross the finish line under motor.

We must say a big thank you to everyone who have written emails and sent SMS's over the past weeks. It's been great to hear from you and always brightens up our day. And an extra special thanks to Mark and Amanda from Balvenie who have been our global reporters for daily updates on world events, sport and most importantly the weather. You have both been here so you know just how much getting the news from outside our little traveling bubble means to us. Thanks again.

So the big question ..Are we there yet? Nearly, just two more sleeps!

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 15

Ist August 2017

Current Position: 09 34.7S / 131 35.7W at 0200UTC, 2000hrs Galapogos time, 1800 boat time, Alaska. SOG 7.8kts. COG 255. Wind ESE 12kts. Sea State: rough, rolly, rough & rolly!. DTR 423 nm. 24hr run 176nm .

Words can't describe what an absolutely boring watching grass grow type of day it's been today. We are still running dead downwind. For a while we had the main and jib out but now it is just the mainsail as the wind angle is too far behind us to even fill the little handkerchief size jib that was out.

Eventually the cards fall and today was the day. Our mechanical clocks have been wound back two hours to Alaska time. So now when our bodies say it's bed time, we have an extra two hours of brilliant sunshine to cope with. It seems very odd to go to this time zone but if you look at an atlas the relative position of where we are compared to Sitka in Alaska makes it perfectly clear. Not quite sure that our internal clocks would agree though. Once we arrive in the Marquesas there will be another half hour time change as well. By then we should be really screwed up.

The revolting brown slimy gunk and the bright green carpet of grass that has been steadily building up on the hulls and transoms and basically anything that is in the water that covers and uncovers since we left the Galapagos has pretty much reached its peak. You'd really think that a boat in constant motion couldn't accumulate all that slime but it does. All types of little critters hitch a ride as you come across the pacific and every boat that travels this route has the exact same complaint. It will take us a few days of hard yakka to clean it all off.

Looking at GWTW right now we look like a derelict boat that has been left on a mooring ball for years with no sign of a haulout yard or a lick of antifoul paint with in cooee. If we were in Sydney Harbour and our hulls look the way they do we'd most certainly be issued a fine by the waterways officials for not maintaining our vessel according to clause such and such of some bureaucratic code. Just the thought of all the rules and regulations when we eventually get back to Australia makes me cringe and just want to keep on cruising until we can do it no more.

We now only have three more sleeps 'till we make landfall, well unless something goes very pear shaped in the meantime.

Are we there yet? Almost.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 14

31st July 2017

Current Position: 08 46.4S / 128 49.0W at 0200 UTC, 2000hrs boat time. SOG 8.7kts. COG 251T. Wind E12kts. Sea State White caps and lumpy. DTR 595nm. 24 hr run 176nm.

Sailing dead downwind is not our best point of sail. Unlike a monohull we don't have the luxury of being able to set our sails wing on wing. Due to the position of our shrouds or backstays as they are called on a Cat we can't let our mainsail out very far before it bumps into these. So for us it is a matter of keeping the main and a tiny bit of jib out on the same side. alternatively we have the option to run with either only the main or the jib up alone. Neither of these combinations make for optimum speed by a long run. So here we are just plodding along. Can't do much about it just have to be patient.

Today's big news, well the only news really, is that we caught two decent sized Mahi Mahi at the same time. After the filleting process was complete we now have six meals bagged up. The captain is ecstatic. He loves eating fish and just can't get enough of it.

The sunrise, 0815am and sunset, after 9pm are getting later and later and are playing havoc with our watch keeping. I think that tomorrow we will have to change our time zone to Sitka Alaska time. That's if we don't want to be seeing the midnight sun pretty soon!

All is good onboard and we are nearly there.

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Monday, July 31, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 13

30th July 2017

Current Position: 08 03.1S / 126 06.3W at 0230 UTC, 2030 boat time Galapagos. SOG 7.4kts. COG 269T. Wind E 12kts. Sea State: slight swell. DTR 762nm. 24 hr run 164nm.

The "iron sail" came into play in the early hours of today just as we thought it would. The wind slowly got softer and softer. The sails jitterbugging all over the place from one side to the other while the wind gods tossed a coin as to where the breeze would eventually come from. Then it settled coming in from the northeast. This was not good, effectively pushing us further and further south away from our destination. There was nothing left to do but burn some diesel and turn back towards the rhumbline.

Midnight to dawn watches are my favourite. The night air is cool and crisp and it gives you time to clear your mind letting it wander into the corners of your memory. Shooting stars streak across the indigo sky leaving a trail of white wash and sometimes effervescent green behind them as the fall towards earth. I often wonder if it is space junk, meteors or a distant star disintegrating from another galaxy that I am seeing. Nocturnal sea birds occasionally glide by looking for a quick bite to eat from the bounty of the sea. Their white underbellies illuminated by our masthead tricolour light and a wake of twinkling phosphorescence dances across the rushing waters behind us we move forward across this endless expanse of blue. Night watches are truly magical.

It is quite a humbling experience out here in the vastness of this ocean. Before the modern era of sailing with its bells and whistles of electronic charts, GPS and autopilots our true forefathers of navigation looked up at the same night sky and the same stars and found their way around this planet with just a sextant and star to guide them. To say that they were amazing is an understatement.

The broken outhaul flapping in the breeze
So onto things that go bump in the night, or rather bang in the night. I must have jinxed us yesterday saying that a day without breakages is a good day. Because in the wee small hours the "bang " thing happened. It wasn't 'till the light of day that the bang revealed itself. Our outhaul, the rope that pulls the foot of our mainsail along the boom and keeps it taught, decided it was time to have a break, and I mean that literally. With no tension on the foot anymore it was ballooning out like Marilyn Monroe's dress in that iconic photo as she stood over the subway grate. A good look for her but can't say the same for our sail.

So Mr fix-it got to work assuming the pose of downward dog-upward dog while balancing at the wobbly end of our 25ft boom. He did a sterling job and an hour and a half later it was all finished and we were onto our morning lattes. It's a temporary fix, but it will get us to our next anchorage without a problem.

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Galapagos to the Marqusas Day 12

29th July 2017

Current Position 08 10.45S / 124 01.6W at 0200UTC, 2000hrs Galapagos boat time. SOG 5.2kts. COG 284T. Wind ESE 10kts. Sea State Flat. DTR 833nm. 24 hour run: 140nm

Our transoms are looking a bit shabby

It's been another cracker of a day out here. The seas are flat and getting flatter if that's at all possible, the breeze is warm and the boat is toddling along like it is on rails. We've raised the mainsail to full height and with the aid of the jib we are being pushed along quite nicely.

The forecast for the next couple of days is for the wind to do an about face turn to the north east which is just about unheard of at this time of year for where we are. When this happens we will be fighting the urge to turn on the engines but we know the inevitable will happen and the ignition keys will have to be turned, unless someone tows Fatu Hiva a couple of hundred miles south for us.

The hulls look bad too!

The good news is that in the early hours of this morning our distance to run went from the four figure category to the three's. Cue the applause and break out the party hats! We've finally broken the mileage camel's back and at last we have less than 1,000 miles to go to landfall. You know you're a seasoned cruiser when you get really excited about stuff like that!

With the great weather and calm conditions we both took advantage of the warmth and sunshine. A couple of loads of washing hit the clothes line and Liam cleaned and reorganized one of the cockpit lockers. He also had a brain snap and put together a portable bilge pump. We already have an Attwood submersible battery run model which works a treat and pumps water like a demon but the hose on that one isn't particularly long and the pump itself can't fit into tiny spaces.
However the pump-a-la-liam, which will soon be on every boaters Christmas list, it's conveniently powered by 12 volts and can easily squeeze into a space as big as your hand. We all know there are plenty of nooks and crannies like that on every boat so get your orders in soon before stocks run out.

Any day out here when there's nothing bad to report, like gear failures is a good day. So far,touch wood, all our systems on board are working like a charm. Liam's eye is gradually improving, with sunglasses being his standard attire from dawn to dusk. Bright light and glare are a killer to his vision. Maybe he was a bat in his former life.

Being Saturday night we all know what that's date night!

Yes even out here in the Pacific you can go on a date. But what do you do if you can't exactly go out for a bite to eat and a movie cause you're in the middle of an ocean? You get home delivery of course.
So Liam put in an order for Thai food and before we knew it a yummy chicken and veg stir fry was delivered to the table. And what about the movie I hear you ask. Well tonight we did better than just a movie we had Rod Stewart perform live, beamed straight in to our lounge room from the Albert Hall London. Well kind of ..we watched the DVD. We cranked up the Bose speakers, you can do that sort of thing when you don't have neighbours, and sang along to his oldies but goodies. We tapped our toes, indulged in a glass of wine and Liam even got me up for a whirl around the dance floor. It was a real hoot of a night and something a bit special to do out here in the middle of the wild blue yonder.

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