Friday, August 25, 2017

Chill ’n in the Marquesas. Hanamoenoa Bay,Tahuata

4th – 8th August 2017

I totally omitted to mention in the last post that as we approached the Marquesas after 18 days at sea the sight of lush green hillsides and the smell in the air was nothing short of sensory overload. The beautiful aroma of jasmine and frangipani was so heady that it just took our breath away.

P8071254No sooner than we’d dug the anchor in and downed a glass or two of bubbly we had a visit from one of the other boats anchored in the bay. Including us there were now four boats two of which were the Norwegians Sansipapp and Kairos both of which have kids on board.  We’d been in contact with them all the way across from the Galapagos  and at last we’d got to do a face to face.

They had kindly rocked on over to invite us to a “movie night by dinghy” on the beach. As dog tired as we were we accepted the invite gladly. It would be nice to have some company other than ourselves for a change.


In our experience kid boats are always very well organised and these guys were no different. They’d printed out colour flyers to hand out to each boat with the movie title, start time and what to bring, meaning bug spray, a snack to share and whatever you heart desired to drink. It all sounded good and after a few hours siesta we hopped into the dinghy and headed ashore.

By the time we arrived the big movie screen was already set up. Twinkling candles led the way up the sand  to the “dress circle” seating area which of course was the designated area that the dinghies had to be dragged to. We opted for more comfortable  and stable seats rather than the tubes of our trusty stead and brought in our deck chairs to sit on. Hanging between a couple of palm trees, the movie screen was anchored down with ropes. Below it sat a  mall projector connected to a hard drive with a UE boom speaker  blue-toothed to it providing the sound.

The chosen movie was Ice Age 5 which of course is child and adult friendly and it was one from the series that we hadn’t seen. before.  It was  a fun night in a family environment watching the movie and catching up with  the other cruisers and their kids, to share the  highs and lows of our collective passage experiences .

Hanging out on such a perfect beach under the stars with the gentle sounds of waves lapping at the sands, we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our first night  at anchor in the South Pacific.


DSCN1193Over the next four days we spent more hours asleep than awake. We felt like we’d been hit by a truck and jet lagged to the max at the same time. Waking up at all hours of the day and night our internal clocks were totally screwed.

We also had the sad task of burying our dear little gecko Gaz, who passed away two days before we arrived. Eighteen days without an ample supply of bugs was just too much for the little guy.

  P8071261 P8071259 

We found a suitable plot under a shady palm tree and laid him to rest, his small grave marked with a toothpick cross and a coconut.  He’ll  forever more enjoy endless sunsets and a beautiful outlook over the bay. Not a bad spot for a seafaring gecko to end up.

The following Tuesday we decided it was time to mooch 10 miles north to the island of Hiva Oa and complete our check-in formalities with the local Gendarmerie. We also needed to visit the doctor as Liam’s eye, which took a hit from a rope on day six during our passage, was not improving at all.

Hiva Oa: Atuona, Tahauku Bay

The reports we’d read and heard from other cruisers re the harbour and it’s prevailing swell were not overly complimentary. The harbor is small and shallow at it’s head so most of the monohulls deploy stern anchors to keep their bow aligned into the swell which makes for a more comfortable life. But for the rest of us who are not set up with a stern anchor configuration the down side is that there’s not much swing room available behind the protective breakwall until someone vacates their spot.

P8081264So after anchoring just outside the harbour we contacted our arrival agent Sandra from Hiva Oa Yacht services. She told us that the lunch break on the island was from 1130am to 1430pm so we would not be able to check-in until after that time. Having explained about Liam’s eye she  then said that we should go directly to the doctor and, in true french form, worry about the formalities tomorrow. So that’s exactly what we did.

Our visit to the only doctor on the island,was surprisingly quick given we had no appointment ,and very affordable at just 3,600 CPF or $36 USD. He prescribed different antibiotic drops from what we’d been using as well as some cream and explained that if things did not improve within 5 days to come back as there may be the possibility of having to see a specialist in Tahiti. So off we trotted, drugs in hand hoping that this would put an end to the woes of Liam’s accident. Time will tell.

So for now we’ll hang here in Hiva Oa for a bit and catch up on reconnecting to the outside world.

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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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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 11

28th July 2017

Current position: 07 07.3S / 121 35.9W at 0200 UTC,2000 hrs boat time. SOG 8.4kts. COG 261T. Wind SE 13kts. Sea State: Flat. DTR 1039nm. 24 hr run 180nm.

What a fabulous day it has been out here today.

Since the early hours the wind has been steadily dropping off. There have been no squalls and only a light drizzle of rain for about 20 mins, just not quite enough to wash the salt of the decks.

By mid morning the conditions had really settled into a nice pattern. The wind was a steady 12 kts from the SE and the seas quite flat with no rogue waves or white water. The clouds had parted giving way to sunny blue skies and a temperature of 29C. We rolled in the jib and out came our beam reaching sail, the screecher.

With these conditions life on board is about as normal as it can get on a passage. No thumping, bumping, bashing or crashing. It's almost too benign.

So what you do on days like this? You enjoy the great outdoors. Yes I know that sounds a bit of a silly thing to say when you live on a boat and are on passage across the Pacific but hey,let's be realistic here. When the weather is rough and the cockpit has taken the odd wave with salt coating everywhere you want to put your butt, call us soft but we're not that inclined to spend a lot of time outside lounging around just for the heck of it.

Today was different kettle of fish, a rare treat you could say. The salt encrusted cockpit got another wash down and we made hay while the sun shone soaking up all the vitamin D we could get. Life is good. Now if only it can day like this till we make landfall.

Animal count today: No fish, No dolphins, No whales, two birds and no dead bodies on the decks.

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 10

27th July 2017

Current Position: 06 03.7S / 118 59.5W at 0200UTC, 2000hrs boat time. SOG 8.2kts . COG 245 T. Wind SSE 11 kts. Sea State Lumpy and rolly. Sea temp, It's warming up, 20.1C. DTR 1205nm. 24hr run 180 nm.

Beautiful sunrise
Just after 0630 a mini squall gave us a monster wind shift sending us due south. Defiantly not where we wanted to go.
One minute we were heading west and the next 25kts hit us and off we went. Theses squalls, sometimes with rain and sometimes without, seem to materialize from nowhere. A few puffy clouds get your attention and by the time you think about it wham it has you by the short and curlies. Ten minutes later it's just a memory.

Breakfast this morning was banana pancakes with maple syrup, followed closely by lattes and a mid morning snack of..,you guessed it bananas. There will be bananas served with everything come tomorrow as the hand that I picked up the day before leaving the Galapagos are all ripening at once. We'll have gone totally bananas by the time we've munched through them all.

Something  big took a bite out of this lure

The captain was a happy chappy today having caught another nice size Mahi. Rather than pull it in first go as he usually does he decided he'd let it run for a bit to tire it out. Then he figured he could drag it up onto the transom and do the deed without the all the struggling and flapping about. These fish fight to the end and then some.

However his line of thinking changed rather rapidly when he spotted a big fin not far from his prize Mahi. Mr nice guy wasn't about to share this fish with anyone. The shark made a swim by to line up for the big bite but his nibs was too fast out of the blocks and in one swift pull of the line landed said fish up on the second step well out of the reach of Jaws. Liam 1 shark 0.
And that was the end of the fishing for today, no point tempting fate.

Our day ended with yet another "green flash" sunset. We're starting to think they are a dime a dozen out here.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 9

26th July 2017

Current Position 05 32.7S /115 59.2W at 0200 UTC, 200hrs boat time. Speed over ground (SOG):8.5. Course over ground (COG):293. Wind: SSE 10 kts. Sea State: Rolly but settling down slowly.
Distance to Run (DTR) :1388nm. 24 hr daily run :189nm.

It's been another slow day out here with not much happening and that seems to becoming a pattern. Mind you when I think about that logically, really what do we expect to happen? No one is going to drop in for tea and scones and no one can give us a call as Optus has no coverage out here. The daily paper doesn't get thrown onto the front porch, there's no surfing the internet and no listening to the top 40 hits on the radio. In a nutshell life is pretty dull out here. It's an eat, sleep, wakeup, eat sleep wakeup way of life with no walkies around the block to see what's going on in the neighborhood.

The exciting news today is that we have made it to the halfway mark. When crossing this mighty ocean this spot on the map is the furthest you can be from land in any direction on the surface of the earth. It's the ideal place for those wanting to "get away from it all" but not good for those who don't like being out of sight of land. We are well and truly smack bang in the middle of nowhere.

The other good news is that El Capitano is feeling better today. The patch came off his eye this morning and the nursing staff report that the swelling has started to go down and overall the eye looks a teensy bit better. And the patient's demeanour has also dramatically improved, halleluiah. He is still struggling with bright light and is wearing his sunnies from dawn to dusk, not that he ever sees the dawn as he's usually tucked up in bed at the time of day. He's not out of the woods yet but at least he's turned the corner.

On the fishing front a dolphin swam past today, first one we've seen on this crossing. Bad news is he took Liam's favourite squid lure. Yep it was the pretty blue one which is, or rather was, a hit with the Mahi's. I was off watch at the time but I'm pretty sure there were a few not so friendly words shouted at Flipper as he went on his merry way. The captain does have more lures but on the sinker and tackle front the inventory is dwindling.

Our Tailender's fleet here is getting really stretched out now. Weather conditions have been vastly different for each boat. Sannsipapp, the Norwegian flagged Bruce Farr 55 is 700 miles ahead of us having departed the galapagos 4 days before us. She expects to make landfall in Hiva Oa tomorrow,Friday. Luarta the 56 ft NZ mono is 60 miles behind us, she left the day after us and OFF 2 C the NZ cat who left 2 days behind us is now 650 miles behind. Bindacier the 12m French boat heading south to the Gambier Islands still have a whopping 1800 miles until they make landfall. Restless the Norwegian boat that was taking on water are making slow progress but have stemmed the water leak by placing a ratchet strap with a gasket hand sewn on to it from toe rail to toe rail. As they say necessity is the mother of invention and kudos goes out to Jorgan on that front.

And that folks wraps up day 9 on the good ship GWTW.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 8

25th July 2017

Current position : 05 22.48S 112 51.8W. SOG 6.7 KTS. COG 261. Wind SSE 12kts. Sea State slight chop 2m swell. 24 hr run 189nm

Very non descript day today. Overcast to start, then clearing with a little blue sky, a smidge of rain then back to cloudy at sunset. Sounds like an average day in Melbourne really. It's still quite chilly at night so the wardrobe of choice is track pants, fleecy tops and socks.

On the health front, Liam's eye is not showing signs of improving just yet. He's struggling to focus using only his right eye and is having trouble with depth perception. Sometimes he reminds me of someone watching a 3D movie as he tries to grasp things that are just out of reach. The chlorsig drops are still being administered regularly and he's taking Ibuprofen to reduce the swelling as it's starting to look like someone punched him.

Being the fashion hound that we all know Liam is he's smartened up to today's attire by accessorizing his look with a white eye patch and matching guard. One could say he has a look for every occasion. But seriously the guard will stop wandering fingers poking around in there and keep the bright light, salt air and wind away and stop the tracks of his tears staining his precious little cheeks. If things don't start to improve soon I may have to break out Polly, our inflatable parrot and sit her on his shoulder. Hopefully tomorrow will be the turning point.

Fairly sedentary tasks were performed today. We shook out one reef from our mainsail and a few hours later put it back in again. One load of laundry was washed, dried, folded and put away and a well needed wash down of the cockpit completed. It always astounds me the amount of dust, hair and fluff that accumulates in the corners out there. Not to mention the odd flying fish scales that appear from nowhere.

We saw two birds, cleaned up 8 dead and drying squid from the decks, ate lamb burger's for lunch, watched some more of The Kennedys series, had a sundowner at sunset sans sun and called it a day.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas Day 7

24th July 2017

Current Position 04 31.7S / 109 0200UTC, 2000hr boat time. SOG 10-14kts. COG 264T. Wind SSE 12-16kts. Sea State, choppy 2m swells. DTR 1782nm. 24hr run 208nm

Overnight the cloud cover increased and the stars all disappeared. With no moon, not that you could have seen it anyway, it was a dark, dark night. One could say it was as black as the inside of a cow.

The seas were up again just for a change and white water constantly sloshed past the hulls. The crests of the bigger breaking waves threatening to jump onboard just before GWTW rose up and the wall of water slid away beneath her hulls. Now when this sort of thing happens in daylight it's no big deal 'cause you can see your surroundings and the brain can deal with it. But as soon as the lights go out it's a whole different ball game. Evil and scary. Strange how the mind works

Around 3am a decent sized flying fish trying to elude it's captor took a blind leap of faith. Heading onward and upward towards what it must have thought would be a soft landing in the white water of another wave it had a rude awakening, slamming into a solid white wall instead. Bouncing off the cockpit roof with a thud he fell straight down through the open hatch above the port helm. He was in such distress I thought he was going to knock himself out. Mind you he probably already had concussion after hitting the roof at such speed. With winds extended trying hopelessly to get airborne, fish scales flew everywhere as he flapped around next to my feet. In a heart beat I grabbed the poor creature and disembarked over the back beam to the deep blue sea where he belonged. Hopefully he went on his way thinking the whole thing was just a bad dream.

Daylight is coming later as we move further west, the sun now rising around 07.45, a big change from when dawn started at 04.30 not so long ago. This is great for the offwatch who gets an extra hour of darkness to roll over and snuggle down. Not so great for the onwatch who waits all night for the sun's dazzling rays to peep over the horizon. Well this morning the sun didn't peep and as the light came my world was engulfed in a grey dome as far as the eye could see. Not at all what I was hoping for as I sipped my morning cuppa.

Next came the march of the ominous looking clouds bringing with them fast moving squalls and rain. What a great start to the day!.
On a regular basis the wind and rain blew in, changed our course to somewhere we didn't want to go, hung around while it tossed up the seas and then it was gone taking what little breeze was left behind, leaving us clanging and banging around until the next round came through. And so continued the pattern throughout the day.

In the light of what has been happening with the Norwegian boat Restless of the past few days, when our high water bilge alarm sounded just after 8pm this evening, well you've never seen two people move so fast. Liam was asleep and I was at the nav station at the time. We both nearly collided at the bottom of the stairs as I flew down into the port hull and Liam leapt out of bed.

We have three bilge alarms in that hull and it was the forward one that was making all the racket. With the cover of the bilge off we could see the water. Now just where was it coming from? In that bilge there are four thru hull fittings. After investigation the culprit was determined to be the shower sump float switch. It had come loose from its fastening and was floating around inside the sump instead of doing it's job of pumping water overboard. Liam had just had a shower before he'd gone to bed and the switch must have only just come loose then. He spent the next hour sponging out the water that had spilled over from the sump into the bilge and reattaching the float switch to the sump floor. Crisis averted.

The lesson learned was the alarm works as it should and nothing bad happened.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas, Day 6

23rd July 2017

Current position: 04 03.5S / 106 18.7W at 0200UTC, 2000hrs boat time. SOG 7.5kts. COG 264T. Wind SSE 12-15kts. Sea state moderate 2m. 24hr run 203nm

Well first up I must apologize for the spelling mistakes in the previous posting. Neither spell check and nor my proof reader picked up the errors. So sorry about that.

Well as always on a passage the dominant factor is the weather. Yes I agree it does get a bit repetitive to read about it but when you are out here it is THE ruling factor our lives. Mother nature dictates how well you sleep, if at all sometimes, how well you eat, your moods, which are directly related to the sleep factor and how many bruises you end up with at the end of the day as you bump around falling this way and that into everything and anything solid.

Well today the bruise factor has been down but Liam copped a wack to his left eye from the tail end of the preventer line. This line restrains our mainsail from taking a flying hike from one side of the boat to the other when we are hit by a big wave or have a massive wind shift which makes the boat gybe onto the other tack. An uncontrolled gybe is not good thing to have happen. His injury happened when I was off watch and by the time he told me about it his eye was looking red and nasty. I suspect it is a corneal scratch which can be very uncomfortable (I've had a few over the years) but should heal itself in a few days. We have chlorsig eye drops on board which liam is having a dose of every four hours just to be sure.

This guy ended up on our cockpit table

With no fishing today as it was too rough we decided to watch a tv series called The Kennedys. As you can guess by the title its about JFK, his family life and the journey to becoming the youngest president in US history. So far we've watched three episodes and it's excellent. The cast of actors is top notch and the likeness to the characters they portray is quite amazing.
Grab it off Netflex or wherever for a good watch.

Over the last couple of days we have been monitoring the progress of a Norwegian flagged yacht named Restless. As we are loosely traveling with two other Norwegian boats we received an email that S/V Restless was in trouble and taking on water and could we standby to render help if need be. We were told that their bilge pumps were coping with the situation but who knows for how long. The cause of the egress of water was not immediately known and there are two persons on board, as is the case with the majority of cruising boats. Their boat speed was 4.5 knots and they had turned onto a course of 300 degrees back up towards our rhumbline and an interception point.

At that time Restless was located 750 nm SW of our position. Given the prevailing winds that made us the obvious choice for assistance. The two other boats were over 5 days ahead of us meaning they would have to battle the elements up wind to reach them, and with the conditions at present that's the way too hard basket, but if it came down to the wire it would happen.

SAR,(Search and Rescue) in Norway had been contacted and a Wilhelmsen Car Carrier has been diverted en route to Restless's position to standby and assist. It was expected to arrive in 22 hours.

Many emails have been flying through cyberspace during since we first learnt of the of the Restless's predicament and this afternoon we received another email saying that the situation was now under control. Motor vessel Oberon had arrived on scene, they must have been closer than the Wilhelmsen ship and off loaded repair materials and extra provisions.

We can only imagine the utter relief that engulfed Jorgen and Anna when they saw M/V Oberon come over the horizon. They are hoping to dive on their hull in the coming days if the seas lay down to assess the damage and effect a repair. We should meet up with them a little further down the track.

This is a prime example of the inherent dangers in this life we lead as cruisers. But rest assured there are no better immediate resources for help than those of the family of cruising boats around you when it hits the fan.

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas, Day 5

22nd July 2017

Current position: 03 28S / 103 09W at 0200UTC, 2000hr boat time. SOG 10.5kts. COG 257. Wind SSE12-15kts. Sea state rough and confused short steep waves 2-3m. DTR 2174nm. 24hr run 187 nm

With the wind steady increasing GWTW's speed has also been climbing. During the early hours before the sun came up 9 kts was what we were seeing as the speed over ground. By 6am it had increased to a steady 11 knots and by 8am the magic number was 14kts. We were starting to chew up the miles at this pace.

This guy had all the moves
As much as we love going fast, the speed combined with the sea state doesn't make for ideal living conditions particularly when it comes to getting a few decent hours of precious sleep. The boat creaks and groans and is a real carcoughpany of sounds. As the waves crash into the hulls we get the bonus 3D experience of noise and bone jarring shuddering. So next time you crawl into your ever so comfy bed be thankful it doesn't move like a bucking bronco.

Right, moving on to today's major activity...the fishing report.

On GWTW we don't fish with rods as many boats do. The fish master prefers hand lines, big kick ass ones with heavy duty nylon lines. He has the lines attached to the boat by bungy cords fitted around our rear winches to allow for stretch once a fish latches on.

We troll 3 lines off the back of the boat all set at different lengths with different types of lures. We like to offer a choice of lures to suit any fish preferences and believe me they can be fussy buggers at times. We also use a high tec alarm to alert us when there is a potential dinner on the hook. From the aforementioned bungy cord a piece of string with a clothes peg is attached to our life lines. Once a fish takes the bait the peg "snaps" off the line indicating we have a strike. It's amazing how in tune the human ears on board are to the sound of that "snap".

What a beauty

Well late this morning the "alarm" was going off like rapid fire. But alas whoever was out there didn't like our lure menu and they backed away after the first bite. But minutes later another snap and this one was a keeper. After an exhibition of fish Olympics the captain pulled in a nice size Mahi Mahi. The chap who came for dinner was subdued with a tottie of high end Egyptian gin to the gills and he went into a very deep sleep from that moment on.

The line was returned to the water to straighten out with the intention of pulling it in and calling it quits for the day. But as misfortune would have it another bigger Mahi came looking for his kin folk. El Capitano got that look in his eye and strated relling in the next caditate. However after a few short words from the food and beverage manager on the merits of tag and release, sustainable fishing, availability of freezer space AND the unnecessary killing of one of God's creatures the second fish was released back to the wild. And so ends today's fish report.

Oh and what did we have for dinner? Pan seared Mahi with herb butter and a fresh garden salad of course.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas, Day 4

21st July 2017

Current position : 02 53.91S /099 30.1W at 0200 UTC, 2000hr boat time. SOG 8.4. COG 252T. Wind SSE15 kts. Sea state, Choppy.
24 hr run : 135nm.

Today was just another day at the office. The early hours saw light winds, flattish seas and not even the distant lights of trawlers. It was just us out here with a million stars above. The sun came up as a big ball of fire, just the same way it went down last evening. Spectacular to say the least.

Light winds continued all day so for a change of scenery we rolled out the spinnaker for a cameo appearance. It looked ever so pretty floating gracefully off the starboard side but sadly did nothing for our boat speed. Can't have it all.

The fish tally today...nada. Most mundane the brown slime that is rearing it's ugly head on our transoms. If we don't keep on top of it by the time we make landfall we'll look like a bit part from the movie "The Blob".

Then as evening approached the breeze started to increase and not wanting to get caught with our pants down, we pulled down the giant sock and snuffed the spinnaker. Into it's bag and into the locker it went. That was more than likely the last time it will see that daylight on this passage.

The clock has struck eight and we are starting to pick up speed. The fresh breeze is kicking up GWTW's ever so clean transoms and girl is stretching her legs. I reckon we could be in for a fast but bumpy night.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas : Day 3

20th July 2017

Current position: 02 26.1S 097 5.6W at 0300UTC, 2100hrs boat time. SOG 6.5kts, COG 245. Wind SSE 8-10 kts. Seas state :long gentle swells. 24hr run 135nm. DTR: 2488nm

One of many dead flying fish on the deck

It has been a quite day on GWTW today with the wind up and down like a yo-yo.

Many more Chinese trawlers have past us today heading east towards Galapagos. They are big and cumbersome looking and their paint work leaves a lot to be desired. The outside of these boats is appalling and covered in huge streak marks down the sides of the hulls where they haul in their catch. W e can only imagine what the inside must look and smell like.

They look to be either squid catchers or long line fishing boats and seem to come in packs usually with the same name followed by a different set of numbers for each vessel. Kind of like calling your kids Ming 823, Ming 824, Ming 825 etc, not very inventive really. Anyway their attack plan is to have two or three boats in the front row with the others in the group bringing up the rear. Their noisy engines thump away as they go by. In fact it is the only mechanical sound out here. There are no other ships or yachts nearby and no planes overhead.

What a shocker of a look
The mother ship stays about 20 miles or more behind the group while the refueling tanker, yes they bring their own, ambles along some 50 miles in the distance. You gotta give it to them, China certainly is organized when it comes to the assault on the world's marine life.

On another subject the weather today is the best since leaving the Galapagos. Not a cloud in the sky and the long slow swells make it a very pleasant motion on board. One would almost think we were on a cruise ship. It's starting to warm up too. The temp today hit the 30's and the sea temp is now 18c.. nearly time for that swim.

Liam has been playing guitar and I have been engrossed in a book. Lunch today was a tasty lobster salad with sundried tomatoes, avocado, basil and fresh romaine lettuce. A nice glass of chilled NZ Sav Blanc would have gone very nicely with it, but soda water had to suffice instead.

Tonight the sunset was a cracker. Without a trace of cloud on the horizon the fabled "Green Flash" lived up to it's name. One of the best we've seen and a first on this crossing.

So that's the GWTW crew report for today. More exciting news tomorrow.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas: Day 2

19th July 2017

Current position: 01 54.17S / 094 52.58W at 0200UTC, 2000hr boat time. SOG 7kts, COG 283. 24hr run 160nm

Conditions are pleasant out here albeit we are traveling a bit slow. In the wee small hours of the morning and we were dodging many very large Chinese flagged fishing vessels. We counted six not including the mother ship which because of it's size of 900ft in length had to be a fish processing vessel. We assume that their home waters have been fished out and they have no choice but had to venture further afield to the rich grounds of the South Pacific.

This afternoon while under sail we dropped our reaching sail to the deck to do a few minor repairs. The old girl has seen better days and is starting to show her age with some de-lamination happening here and there. So a stitch in time was the thing to do.

Things got a little boisterous as we wrestled it to the foredeck. Still under sail but with the aid of our engines we ran downwind and brought the boat up to wind speed. We needed to do this in order to drop the sail safely onto the deck while it was blanketed by the mainsail to prevent it from resetting like a billowing spinnaker as the halyard was released. The repairs took the best part of an hour and then up it went again with the reverse manoeuvre of dropping it and we got back to the business of sailing.

A few of the Stormy Petrels are still hanging around. They are such tiny little birds with so much energy and a joy to watch as they dip and dive for their dinners. On the fishing front the count is still zero.

It's now O-dark-hundred and as all sailors have come to accept this is when the shit hits the fan.

The wind and swell have increased and we are galloping along with the screecher and a full main. Not a good scenario given the conditions. Great minds think alike as we give each other that look, time to pull in the reigns and put the brakes on.

Gingerly Liam slinks up to the foredeck to furl in the screecher while I handle the lines at the back. It's then that a problem rears it's ugly head. While the sail was down earlier this arvo for repairs Liam had loosened the line that slides the sail forward and back on the track on our prodder pole. That line had now somehow wrapped it's tail around our anchor and it was jamming the movement of the furler. The halyard, with the sail now only partly furled needed to be partially dropped.

One thing you have to understand is that we were still blasting along through the water at speed and the wave and wind noise makes it extremely had to hear each other even though I was now on the foredeck and only inches away from Liam. Lucky their were no neighbours about 'cause they would have thought we were having a doozy of a tiff.

With me sitting down on the deck and hanging on to the furling lines like there is no tomorrow so the sail wouldn't unfurl anymore, Liam eased the halyard and then slowly pulled the sail back up the track on the pole. It may all sound simple but believe me it wasn't. Eventually the screecher was put to bed and while we were still hyped up on adrenaline we put a reef in the main then rolled out 3/4 of the jib. Aahhh peace at last.

See, it's not all fun and gin and tonics out here all the time.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Galapagos to Marquesas : Day 1

18th July 2017

Current position: 01 27S 92 23W @0200 UTC, 2000hr boat time, SOG 5.4, COG 253, DTR 2830NM

So far so good. Isabela is gradually disappearing behind us and after many miles we have finally emerged from the cloud and drizzle that has been a constant since arriving in the Galapagos. The sky is blue and the sun is shinning and we're wearing sunglasses. The sea water temps are still rocketing south and the gauge reads a very chilly 14c, best not fall overboard just yet!

Last look at land for a while

The fishing lines have been deployed but as this stage there have been no takers. The captain lives in hope of a strike. Most of the day the Boobies and the Petrels have been giving us a royal escort out of the Galapagos, maybe some might hitch a ride tonight. And as a last hooray we've seen a couple of huge Manta Rays as well.

The winds are steady on the beam coming in from the SSE at 8-10 kts and our boat speeds have been in the 9,10 & 11 knot range for most of the day but are lightening off now.. Pushing us in the right direction is the mainsail with one reef and our screecher, our big reaching sail. GWTW is purring along on the straight and level. Life onboard is good at this point in time, here's hoping it stays that way.

Taking down the Galapagos flag

We heard from another boat today, S/V OFF 2 C (catamaran) they have arrived in Santa Cruz from mainland Ecuador. We meet the OFF 2 C crew Vaughn and Leslie in Guatemala years ago and again in Panama a few months back. While anchored in Santa Cruz Leslie had a bad fall and now has two broken ribs. This injury was caused by the atrocios conditions in Santa Cruz harbour. The same sea state that drove us out of there.

In keeping with all our previous ocean passage traditions we have started up the "Tailenders Magellan Net" on our high frequency SSB radio with the three other boats that we know of out here. We pick up the microphones twice daily for a chat and even through we can't see each other it's nice to have some neighbours just across the fence so to speak.

S/V Lurata a NZ flagged Northwind 56ft monohull which left Santa Cruz this morning is 55 miles astern. The race is on.

The red dot is us heading out 

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Galapagos Islands: Santa Cruz

14th-16th July 2017

P7150916To be quite honest we didn’t like Santa Cruz at all, well the anchorage that is. The town was nice and we did walk out to the Darwin Research Centre and around town a little bit. But with the anchorage so untenable we cut our time there very short and left with 3 days.



We are now about to depart for the Marquesas, a 3,000 mile passage which will take anything up to 20 days at sea.

I will post each day but there will be no photos until we next have internet.

So off we go to the South Pacific.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

The Galapagos Islands : Isabela

Our Last days.

11th – 13th July 2017


Our final trip was by foot. We followed the coastal trail  8 klms out to  a place in the hot arid scrub known as the Wall of Tears. During the late 40’s early 50’s a penal colony was set up here to deal with political prisoners and delinquents from mainland Ecuador. The conditions and treatment of those incarcerated were extremely hash. The guards worked the prisoners hard and for no particular reason made them construct a rock wall from the surrounding volcanic stone. It was a fruitless project resulting in the  loss of many lives. The wall still stands today as a memorial to those whose fate was sealed by being sent here.



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Our time in Isabella was quickly coming to and end and a final day was spent buying fresh veggies, having a haircut and checking out the only church in town that had a distinctive Galapagos flavor to it. The windows were beautiful and under the alter was a huge wooden carved tortoise. The mural behind the alter depicted Christ  ascending surrounded by frigate birds while iguanas watched from the shore.

We really enjoyed our time here and definitely recommend  to anyone following us to spend as long as possible  here on this special island.

So where to now ?? We’re off to  our third island, Santa Cruz.


Above are some of the stained glass windows in the church but God always has a soft spot for the Galapagos it seems. Check out where the ray of light is going in the photo below on the left.

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