Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hiva Oa and beyond

Was a looonnngg day to FatuHiva. 35 miles, 10.5 hours. motorsailed the whole way, into the wind. Yuk! But it was well worth it. The scenery here is beyond description - lush, verdant, majestic, oh and did I mention wet? Beaucoup de plui!
Fatu Hiva Ho!

We pulled into the anchorage about 1700, got the anchor set and Josh was gone. Yep, we caught up with Calou and Phambili first kids in 28 days. I think he might have been just a teensy bit tired of adults. Sounds like we lucked out though, it is a small anchorage and we were told 8 boats had left that morning. Would have been very crowded. As it was there were only 5 including us.
Wednesday we got up early for a hike to the next village over (Omoa). Don't really know what we were thinking - a 10 mile hike after a month of zero exercise, and a steep hike at that. It was a beautiful hike, but very hard. It rained lightly on the up portion, which was a blessing, because I am pretty sure if the sun would have been out it would have been miserably hot. We stopped at a nice little covered picnic bench for lunch and a rest and then started the downhill portion into Omoa.
Lunch at the top
At that point we were treated to a full tropical downpour. Did I mention it is a warm rain? The dirt road turned into a muddy river and going was treacherous at times.
Mud, Mud Glorious Mud
We gave up on keeping our shoes dry and clean. What a sight we must have looked as we trudged into the village 5 hours after we started. The village of Omoa is very pretty and again the scenery... There was a cruise ship in the harbor (the Paul Gaugain) and a few tourists braved the rain to come in. They had a display of cultural arts - tapa, wood carvings, pareos, jewelry. Was very cool to look at. We also were able to pick up baguettes (read Josh in hog heaven). The tiny village by our anchorage has a store, but no beer or bread there. The rain had stopped be the time we got to the village, and except for our shoes we dried out pretty quickly. John from Calou had towed over our dinghy, so thankfully we didn't have to do a return hike or pay for a paroque ride home. It is only 3.5 miles by sea. We made it back to the boat in time for a little more rain, but as Josh says after 5 days in the Marquessas he is used to being wet.
Thursday we had a pretty lazy day recovering from the hike. Got a few projects done around the boat, and Dennis spent the best part of the day helping Calou with their refrigeration. They had been without refrigeration since the second week out. At this writing it is not cooling past 30 degrees, so Dennis may go again to see if there is anything else to be done. That night we had a great get together on Phambili. Pot luck and music. Bruce plays the accordion, John plays the violin, and Pascale (Bruce's wife) has an awesome voice (Calou). We had quite the concert.
Dennis resting - Omoa
Sadly as we got up to leave we discovered our dinghy was AWOL. It had been very windy and the painter came undone and the dinghy drifted off. Fiona and Tom from Phambili took their dinghy all around the anchorage, but no luck. So we gathered everyone back on board Evergreen, pulled anchor and went searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. By that time it was about 0100. We spent the rest of the night following a path we thought the dinghy might have drifted. We had to take into account wind direction and current. It was a pretty rough night. By daylight we had seen nothing, were tired and discouraged, about 0630 we turned to head back to the anchorage. About 0830 I woke Josh to come and keep watch as I was beginning to hallucinate. Not 20 minutes later he yells "there it is", and sure enough 5.5 miles from the anchorage there was our dinghy bobbing around in the waves.
dinghy Ho!
We came about, lowered the main, and were able to retrieve the painter on the second try. That dinghy has a charmed life. It is really unbelievable that we found it. Also weird is that it was upwind of the anchorage. The winds over night had maxed at about 20, and we saw up to 30 on the way back in. Totally crazy that the current had more of an affect than the wind. But, we are not complaining. We brought our tired and grateful selves back into the anchorage, set anchor and fell into bed (about 1130). That afternoon we took the wayward little dinghy into the village in search of pamplamousse (grapefruit). We were able to buy some - 4 large pamplamousse and a coconut for 600 francs (roughly 7USD). They are good though.
Saturday we set off for Tahoata. Had a good downwind sail and made good time. Arrived around 1530. Now this is what I imagined when I dreamed of French Polynesia. Clear tourqouise blue water and sandy beaches. The kid boats are anchored close by - life is practically perfect. Had a good swim - the first real one since we have been here. Were supposed to have a bonfire on the beach, but the rain decided otherwise. Josh spent the night on Calou, and here we are.
Sunday - Happy Easter. Hard to believe it is Easter. I did not plan for it in my provisioning either, so no easter baskets this morning. Phambili is heading out today, they have family coming and have to get to Rairitoa (sp) to meet them. We will be here a few days, then head back to Hiva Oa - I'll keep you posted.
The whole wet, tired crew (L-R Francois, Anina, Naomi, Fioan, Cam, Josh, Tommy, Carol,Dennis and Vickie not shown Bruce,Mark and Antoine)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 24 & 25 - Land fall

2989 miles

Hiva Oa at Dawn
Land at last
Anchorage at Atuona
Made it to Hiva Oa Yeah!!!!!! Didn't kiss the ground, but the thought crossed my mind. The island came into view on my watch - around 0030 - was very weird after 2900 miles of nothing but ocean. Of course, the last 25 miles were hard. Dennis' watch started at 0100, but I got him up early (it really was a little freaky - hard to explain). Actually everyone got up to see "land ho". The moon was almost full, so it was bright even with the clouds. The wind never died down like it had the 2 previous nights, so we made better time than anticipated. Dennis woke me to do a downwind turn at about 0430, Mark was up, so I went back to bed. It was rocking and rolling - guess we had winds up to 30 knots. We held off the Island till just after the sun came up (0530ish ship's time). It was pretty surreal coming in - Josh says it is like Jurassic Park, and I have to agree. It is a volcanic island, so no sandy beaches, just jumps straight out of the water. The contrast of the greenery on the steep hills with the dark rock is amazing, then you have the island peaks shrouded in clouds - and lots of waterfalls. We could smell the island as we approached as well - florally with an underlying humid smell. We had the anchors down by 0630 - fore and aft as this is a very small anchorage. The guides say how rolly it is, and it is, but after the last week we have had sailing, it is positively flat. I made a big breakfast, then we all had a rest. (Note - eggs have done very well on this trip. Lost 5 the last night with all the rolling we did, and the yolks break easily so no sunny side up eggs, but really I have been happy with how it has worked out.)
Since it was Sunday we could not check in, but our agent told us it was okay to go ashore. So, we got the dinghy all set up and paddled in and walked around the dock area. Up the road a little way was a house with a goat pen. I guess we have been away from civilization too long, cuz we spent about 30 minutes watching those darn goats. Picked up some avocados that had fallen off a tree - should be yummy in a couple more days when the ripen. Not really much to see in the dock area, and Atuona the village is a 1.5 mile walk - up hill. I was ready to call it quits before we even got to the hill. Oh, and by the way Brad - if this is the best shower in the Marquessas, I will stick with the one on the boat!!! The "shower" is a concrete building - probably 6 feet tall, no roof, with a pipe that turns on. Private sort of, but cold only. A reminder to me of how good we have it on the boat.
Waiting in line for the Best Shower in the Marquessa's

Monday -
Lots of rain over night. Filled the buckets on deck and probably 8 inches in the dinghy. So, I did laundry. Too bad it has rained off and on all day - Marquessan rinse cycle - at least it is free.
The agent here on Hiva Oa - Sandra, answered our hail on channel 11 around 0800. We arranged to have her pick us up at the dock at 0900, so was a mad rush to get us all ready. Checking in was pretty easy - she came with us and helped with the paperwork. It was pretty straightforward. After that was all squared away, we decided that even though it was raining, we would stay in town. Went to the ATM for money, then stood in line inside the bank to get smaller bills. The money here is very pretty, and BIG. Also in large numbers. 30000 FP francs is about 340 dollars. Things are crazy expensive here. We were prepared, but still. 2 cheeseburgers, 2 beers and a soda cost 44 dollars - whew!!! You don't even want to know what I spent at the grocery store. Oh well, hopefully we will start catching some fish. Yes, we were totally skunked on the way here. Hard to believe not on Tuna or Mahi Mahi wanted to be our dinner in 3000 miles!!!
The Rain continues - it has been raining, not just raining, but torrential downpours - all day. We are leaving for Fatu Hiva tomorrow morning - about 35 miles. It is supposed to be a must see in the Marquesas, and Josh hopes to catch up with some kids. We will return to Hiva Oa in a week or so.
They do have internet here, so we will probably buy some time when we come back.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 15, Days 22 &23

Day 22 - The intrepid crew continues their search for the elusive southern trades. But alas, they only find SSE winds and have to turn up into the wind in order to make their intended destination of Hiva Oa. It is the 4th day of mixed seas, overcast skies and frequent squalls. The ride has been uncomfortable and hot. The crew is wearing down even though their final destination is within 300 miles. So the cook breaks out the easy comfort food - spaghetti!!! hoping that full bellies will help them to sleep. The crew reminds themselves that the passage is nearly over so it is possible to bear a few more hours of discomfort with the hope that tomorrow will bring sunny skies and calmer seas.
2762 miles

Day 23 - Well, happy tax day. Woke up after a calm night to sunny skies. Yeah!!! Mark deployed the genoa around 0615, so we were back up to speed early. Cruised along most of the day at 6+ knots, still heading up wind, but not too bad of a ride. Around 1530, we were joined by a large pod of dolphin that hung around about 40 minutes. It was cool to watch them play around the boat. They look so joyful, chasing each other, jumping out of the water in graceful pairs, or singly to do big belly flops or twists. The whole crew gathered on deck to watch. Made water last night, so even though the watermaker is not as efficient on this tack, we still made almost 60 gallons. Hope to make a little more before we make Hiva Oa, so we arrive with both tanks full. Everyone was practicing their French today. I am finally going to put those 3 years of high school french to use. Is hard to believe we are almost there.....By the time this gets posted we will probably be in sight of land. YEE HAW! Sure hope I am not too land sick. After 24 days at sea and never being seasick, it is pretty ironic that I will be the miserable one when we get to land!! Oh well, I may have to premedicate myself with a nice cold beer!!!
2872 miles

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 19 April 11, 2011

Day 19
2378 miles. Variety of weather conditions today. Lots of rain overnight and off and on thru out the day. Brad our weather guru says we are in an area of convection, which in english means: Spinnaker up, Spinnaker down, genoa in, genoa out, engine on, engine off, hatches and ports open, hatches and ports closed, dry clothes, wet clothes, 7 knots, 3 knots. The only real down part is that when we close up the boat it gets stinking hot inside - muggy too. So, we race around opening and closing, because the airflow is critical. Hopefully we will leave this convection behind sometime tomorrow. We have been lucky with the wind though more than we expected, but not too much either. Josh is the resident expert on spinnaker deployment and dousing, can and does do it in his sleep - i wake him in the early mornings to help me put it up. His new nickname is Dr. Spinn.
We are actually thinking about landfall and being at anchor. Maybe Saturday. Josh is dreaming of real internet, I am dreaming of fresh veggies and fruit. Think I might chill a diet coke for the occasion.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 18 04/10/11


1745 2241 miles, heading 224T

Crossed the Equator this morning at 0515. Everyone including Josh got up for this once in a lifetime event (you only sail across it the first time once). I managed to get a blurry picture of the GPS at 00.00.000 - pretty cool. It was Mark's watch, so the rest of us went back to bed for awhile after that. More festivities were planned for later in the day.

On Day 17, we ended up turning on the motor. The first time in 2 weeks I think. Made water all day. Had some rain, basically a nice routine kind of day. Watches are easy with the motor on, no sail adjustments to worry about just hanging out with "baby Jesus" (the autopilot).

The wind had come back up when I got to my watch this morning, so off went the motor and up went the spinnaker. We are making 4-5 knots with 5-10 knots of wind from the ESE, big long period swells - pretty cool. After breakfast of Waffles (Josh's request) we ended up taking down the spinnaker and heading on more of a reach with the genoa and staysail out. I got the dough ready for lunch - PIZZA!! During this, Josh was making his crown and Trident for our Equator celebration. I cannot wait to post the pictures - very cool and funny. We drank mimosas and opened the gift from Doug and Carla (s/v Moondance). YUMMIES inside - chocolates and Tequila!!Thanks a million guys. We all dressed up in hats or flowers and pareos. Josh was King Neptune with long hair and white beard (shaving cream)and Trident. So we are now all officially "Shell Backs", having crossed the equator physically (I guess flying doesn't count). After our little celebration Vickie made personal pizzas for lunch. Thanks to Patrick and Laura on s/v Just a Minute for the dough recipe, it was awesome. Tonight we will have chicken enchiladas. I am doing them on the stove top, and so far I am under impressed with how they are turning out - too wet. Will be more like enchilada soup, but oh well it is still slightly cooler for the main salon than using the oven. We will toast with Agavero and call it a good Equator Day. The only thing to mar the day thus far was that the raw water pump on the engine crapped out when we turned on the engine around 1530 (wind was dying). So Dennis spent an hour or so fixing that. In the meantime the wind came back up, so we are still sailing and the pump is fixed.
Only 750 miles or so to go, less than a week!!! I can hardly believe it, but seriously can't wait to walk on land!!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

day 16

1982 miles, will pass the 2000 mile mark today yeah!!!!! Calmer seas today, which of course means dying down winds and hot hot hot, and humid, humid, humid! We have turned as south as possible for our run to the equator - chasing any possible winds there might be. We should be at the equator Sunday morning ish. It is funny you wish for calmer seas, but then you wish for more wind - oh well, no free lunch. Speaking of which, we are eating cabbage in salad in every way imaginable. I am hoping that there will be some other green leafy that we can afford in the Marquessa's. We listen to Jimmy sing about Cheeseburgers in Paradise, and we begin longing for them, then we calculate what the probable cost in US dollars (rumors are $45 US dollars) will be and start wishing for a fish on the line! So far no fish. Had two hits today, no fish and down one lure - bugger! Capaz used say if you rant about something, you had to rave about something else. So, here are mine for the day. Rant - I AM SO TIRED OF ROCKING & ROLLING. Rave - the sea is such a beautiful blue, and the R$R means good boat speed. Okay it is out of my system. I expect that when we finally get to landfall that I will have a major case of land sickness. You know why sailors had such a bad rap as drunks, you have to drink to make the land hold still...... or at least sway in synch with you. Any ideas for dinner? I am thinking maybe lasagne.... We'll see.

Friday, April 8, 2011

day 14

hot and humid today. passed 1750 miles. Lots of wind today, made a consistent 7 knts. Replaced the errant water pump on the generator and successfully ran the generator and charged the batteries. I have to say, Dennis made it look easy.
Saw turtles the last couple of days, seems weird to see them out here in the middle of nowhere. We see more birds than I expected to as well. And inquiring minds want to know what you call a group of flying fish while they are flying, a flock or a school???
Is hard to believe it has been 2 weeks. Josh and I commented to each other that we have sailed more on this passage than we have in the whole rest of our lives. Certainly things that used to seem intimidating - the spinnaker for example- are now pretty much no big deal. I guess practice does make perfect. We are using the Hydrovane for steering instead of the autopilot which is pretty cool, and uses no power. The rocking and rolling is still a pain for cooking and sleeping, but otherwise is just another part of the day.
No rain for a couple of days which is nice because it gets pretty stuffy in the cabin when we have to close everything up.
Otherwise, pretty quiet here....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

day 13

1560 miles - passed the halfway point. We spent yesterday putting up and taking down the spinnaker, and babying the generator. Got a decent charge, and some good spinnaker time in. Certainly feel like we are in the tropics. A body acclimates to humidity right?
Today we have been flying the spinnaker again. Big rain cell missed us this morning, and we were able to hum along at 8 knots on its outer edges - cool! Josh has been getting some school done and has finished a couple of novels. Otherwise we are ready for landfall, but can't think about it too much cuz we have at least 10 more days to go.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 11 Boobies 2, Evergreen 0

Well, Day 11 is coming to a close. The last 2 days have been very different. Day 10 dawned sunny, hot and calm. It felt very tropical. I spent the morning after my watch putting grommets in the mesh panels I made to attach to the bimini to provide shade. The wind picked up in the afternoon, and we flew the spinnaker. Got good speed and a comfortable ride. Late in the afternoon we were joined by a Boobie (with green feet not blue). He hung out on our lifelines until he decided to poop inboard instead of outboard - straight into the cockpit. At that point he received a blast from the hose and flew off - straight to the radar dome. Well boys being boys, out came the pellet gun, then the sling shot and finally a knot in the end of the spinnaker halyard. All that was achieved was peanuts on the deck and a hung up halyard. Boobie 1, Evergreen O. That night at dinner time we actually got 3 fish on our lines. All Bonito, all small. We did offer one to the stupid Boobie, but the fish was too big.
I had a moment and agreed to leaving the spinnaker up at least through my watch. Well, it seemed to be going okay, but the winds were building. After reading email from Brad (s/v Capaz Seattle Wa) who is helping us with weather routing. Dennis decided to bring down the spinnaker and reef the main. Thanks Brad and good call Dennis. Started raining on Vickies watch and Mark got us up for a possible squall at 0430ish. We pulled in the genoa, put out the staysail - winds picked up pretty good, but otherwise no problems, other than trying to sleep in a boat that is rocking and rolling.
This morning I spent my watch in the rain. Winds maxed out around 25 knots. Thankfully it was not cold, so I was wet but comfortable. Dennis turned the generator on around 0930, and thus began our day long project of trying to make the generator behave. My understanding of it is that the raw water cooling pump gets vapor locked/doesn't have a good antisyphon valve or something. So Dennis installed a secondary line that we could pump to draw in the water to prime the pump. Worked fine motoring, at anchor and even sailing 2 days ago. However today we discovered that it definitely does not like bouncy seas. After much angst and pumping and turning off and on of the generator, Dennis installed an electric pump to his secondary line and it worked quite well - when we were on a starboard tack. As soon as we changed to a port tack - it quit drawing water, which leads to the generator overheating. We did get some battery charging in, but think the generator won that skirmish. Keep in mind that we had lots of wind, off and on rain and big bouncy seas all day, so maybe it was really mother nature that won, cause we were pretty wiped out by the time we called it quits.
During dinner (no fish on the lines today - didn't put any out) a Boobie tried to land on our Mast head. Unfortunately the windvane up there is not meant to support Boobies. The Bird got his foot tangled in the fins of the vane and after much sqwuaking got loose, but bent up the vane pretty bad. Boobies 2, Evergreen 0.
It is bedtime now, we are mostly dried out, the stars are out, the radar is clear and we are hoping for an easier day tomorrow. I'll let you know.........

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Fools

We've turned back!!!! Just kidding, actually jibed to the SSW during the night. The wind that pushed us along so well for the last 8 days finally petered out last night. We had two awesome spinnaker days though and have passed 1070 miles. So we are currently limping along at 3-4 kts wing and wind heading about 190 degrees T. At least it is a comfortable ride.
Yesterday was a very good day for all the crew. Seemed like everyone was well rested and needed to get energy out. So we cleaned the cockpit, shook rugs, swept the main salon and kitchen, did laundry and had showers. We looked like a real cruisers boat with all our skivvies hanging on the lifelines! Had 2 fish on the lines - Bonito. The first came during breakfast. It was very small so we threw him back. The second fish hit as I was making dinner and we were preparing to take down the spinnaker. Would have made a pretty cool YouTube video. Turn off the burner, Dennis goes to the line, Mark to the helm, Vickie to the cockpit, Josh and I to the foredeck to take down the spinnaker. Mark turns up, Vickie runs the sheets as I drop the spinnaker onto Josh who gathers it all up so it doesn't go into the water. With the Spinnaker under control, Josh goes back to help Dennis with the fish. Another Bonito (not our favorite fish) bigger this time, but not enough for 5. So we let him go too. We have decided to keep the next one as long as it is not way small. Almost anything tastes good in fish tacos. Today is quieter, my 2 goals - make water and write the blog post. Check off both.
We listen to Ham radio nets daily. Mark has 2 he likes in the morning (Amigo and Sonrisa) and one in the evening (southbound) and then we all listen to the Pacific Puddle Jump net that comes on at 0200 zulu (GMT). Dennis was the PPJ net controller last night. There are 16 boats now that check in with their position, weather and sea state every night. Is kind of like the old days when everyone gathered around the radio to listen to news. It is our daily contact with other people. We hear where they are in relation to us, and what the weather and sea are doing at those positions. Is also good to hear voices of people we know. The earlier nets also have weather on them which is useful as well.
Now that we are finally somewhat rested and into the groove we would like to put on paper (so to speak) some very heartfelt thanks to some folks who made this cruise possible and leaving La Cruz less painful.
To Nancy Gray - Thanks for teaching me that cooking outside of the home kitchen is not only possible, but can have variety and be interesting as well.
To Bob Gray - thanks for being so patient with our mail, and to both of you for teaching me how to enjoy the great outdoors. You are the big brother and sister I never had.
To Bill and Tracie on Zephyr - thanks for the sewing machine needles that made the front awning possible and for loaning us the water filters to fill our tanks.
To John and Gail on Music - thanks for GNTs, dinner, US cash, flags and help.
To Lisa Foley - thanks for the walks, cold water and diet cokes - you always seemed to show up when I needed you most. We are also so appreciative of the Mega and Costco runs!
To our favorite "mule" Uncle Henry - thanks for bringing down all the things we forgot!
To Doug and Carla - too many things to list, but hurry and catch up hey? We hear yucca on the beach calling!
To Steve and Ana - quietly there in the background all these years with sage advice, or cutting humor or a cold beer.
To Sue, Ken and Anna - for making room in your home and lives for us. No small deal and no amount of Thanks will ever be enough.
To all the rest of you who put up with our crazy life, we love you and thank you for your support and understanding of our crazy dream!!!

Only 1700 miles to go and once again we will prove that the world is round, we'll get there!