Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Suwarrow Day 2 & 3

We have had a fun couple of days here at Suwarrow. Sunday we had a pretty quiet start, then went for a snorkel on the reef to the northwest of us. It was a short dinghy ride from the anchorage and Doug and Carla came in their dinghy too. We anchored at the edge of the drop off. The water was pretty, not lots of colorful coral, but the formations are nice. Josh and I headed to the north and out of the blue came a good sized manta ray. I about swallowed my snorkel, but gathered my wits and got some good pictures of it and Josh (and part of my finger too - didn't gather all of my wits apparently). Josh also saw a small turtle - a hawksbill we think. So a nice start to our stay. After that we went in and walked around the island, picked up a little bit of trash, including a yellow hard hat. We think we will decorate and sign it to leave for the Suwarrow ranger's collection. When we got back to the ranger's area, Charlie brought out some ice cold coconuts for us to drink and eat. Yum! He also showed us the "apple" of the coconut. It is formed after the coconut sprouts. The center fills with a white spongy, but solid filling. I guess you grate it and add flour for the coconut pancake. Charlie promised to make us some before we leave. I hope he has time. We then made arrangements to meet the next morning for an excursion in the lagoon.
Monday we were up at the butt crack of dawn. As it turns out it was even earlier than we thought, as Suwarrow is an hour behind. Oh well, we finally got everyone gathered on the beach - Charlie, and the crews from Evergreen, Moondance and Lazy Bones. Our first stop after a very wet ride (the tarp was a nice thought, but not very effective) was Gull or Bird Island. According to Harry it is a critical rookery for terns and frigate for all of the pacific. It was pretty amazing. The terns just lay their eggs anywhere - literally. They were all over the ground, in the water, pretty much randomly, everywhere. The frigates mostly had crude nests in the short vegetation. The noise was insane - I took video and it actually captured the sound pretty well too. The terns filled the air all around, the frigates were not as excitable¸ but some still took to the air as we passed. The tern eggs didn't seem to be ready to hatch, but the frigates we in process. We saw one that had to have just hatched, it had no feathers yet - kind of looked like an alien. From there we saw them in all stages of development, from the featherless to the white and black downy ones that were standing on their nests waiting for food. They looked at us as if to say "if you are not bringing food, go away". After a group photo we waded back out to the dinghy for the next leg of our tour.
Our next stop took us to Seven Island - for dolphins at 7 in the morning according to Charlie. Great photo ops again. Then on for Coconut crab viewing. Charlie took us to a small clearing where he did his Coconut Crab whisperer (or caller) thing. He opened a bunch of coconuts and the crabs came crawling out of the surrounding foliage. A little creepy. These guys could audition for the starring role in a horror movie "Crabzilla conquers the atoll". Their shells are beautiful though. They are very colorful ranging from red/orange to blues/purples. And can they climb trees!!!! After the photo shoot there, Dennis, Josh and Mike accompanied Charlie on an excursion to find a couple big enough to eat. Josh said he put his arm into a hole and pulled them out! Brave man. Their front claws can take off a finger no problem. When they returned with our two crabs, we had lunch and then headed out for a snorkel along a coral wall just off the beach. Again nice coral formations, but not a lot of color or fish. We than headed back to the anchorage to rest up for the bbq that night. We felt kind of bad for Charlie, cuz he turned around and headed back out to go fish for something to put on the grill at the bbq. A couple hours later he came by with a big wahoo to show off. YUM!
At 1700 we all gathered back at the beach for our bbq. We had tons of food (as usual when cruisers gather together). Bushetta, coleslaw, chicken curry pasta salad, fried rice, cream cheese/hot jelly with crackers, wahoo and coconut crab. The Wahoo was really good, we marinated it in red wine, oil, lemon and garlic then grilled it. But, the best was the coconut crab. It took a good while to cook after the wahoo came off the grill, definitely worth the wait. By the time we were through I know that at least I was almost in a coconut crab induced gastronomic coma. I am pretty sure that I have consumed more calories since arriving on Suwarrow, than I have since leaving Hawaii. I console myself with the fact that coconut water is supposed to be good for you…… right?
This morning's entertainment was anchoring 101. Thankfully we were not part of the show. One of the boats that came in yesterday anchored a little close to Moondance, so Moondance took in some chain to open the gap some. Generally the last boat in would move, but they were backed right up to a coral head, so had no room to move. Then two more boats came in. The first was a big trawler and then another monohull. Charlie was out in their little boat directing traffic. Then he and Harry spent the rest of the morning checking in the two new boats from yesterday afternoon and the two from this morning.
Today's plan was to take our spinnaker in and rinse out the salt water. Has not happened yet. Has been pretty rainy and squally (convection Brad? Or is that what happens when the wind dies down?), the wind has been almost from the north - which is kinda crazy. So has been a good day to work on the blog, download/catalog pictures from the camera, Josh has done homework and we have looked at the guides for our next destination - Am. Samoa. We hope to get a day of fishing in and then a snorkel at the manta ray spot before we leave. Provisions are running low, and we are anxious to get to Fiji. Suwarrow is definitely the best place we have been so far this time - beautiful water, flat anchorage, great people, and rules notwithstanding, fun stuff to do.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Suwarrow Day 1

Wow - sleeping on a flat bed - a flat motionless bed no less. Heaven!!! The wind has continued to blow, but the anchorage here is pretty smooth. We are thinking that maybe this Island was worth the discomfort of getting here. Certainly is beautiful.
The head Ranger (Harry) and his officer (Charlie) came by the boat this morning to check us in. Think we filled in half a forest's worth of forms, and definitely had the best inspection of our boat yet. Still not good enough to find my wine stash, but was a close call for the contraband plants. Lots of rules here - no spearfishing or diving in the lagoon, no eating the coconut crabs, no fishing in the lagoon...... Primary reason for the fishing is the sharks. They have gotten used to boats being in the anchorage and come after any fish you catch and not even a thank you for the free lunch. Diving is an issue as some divers recently got swept away out the pass, their own dinghy could not find them, so the rangers had to go after them, and the coconut crabs are not edible because somehow or other the island became rat infested (brought by a cruiser?). The have put out poison for the rats, but the coconut crabs eat the rats. The poison doesn't kill the crabs, but remains in their system and it is bad for humans. Just goes to show what can happen in a few short years. We had friends come through here in 2010 and eating the crabs was part of the draw at that time. Lots of other rules as well, just like being in any other national park: pack it in, pack it out, no dogs or cats, no guns, drugs, no taking shells, sand or marine life...... Once the rules were made clear and we pushed a little we found that the head ranger has discretion over many of the don'ts that we want to do, so maybe it won't be so bad after all. Mostly they just want to guide you, but you have to provide the fuel as they have only what they are left here with when they are dropped off for 6-8 months, so pretty understandable. Charlie seems to be the outgoing social one of the pair, and invited us in to tour the island and maybe have drinks in the afternoon.

There are now 4 total boats in the anchorage including Moondance and ourselves. The other two are catamarans. One is from Europe (Charles, Mariett, Bridgite and Michael). At least one of the 2 couples is from Luxemburg (sp?). They are primarily French speakers, but their English as always is better than our French (thank goodness). The other Cat "Lazy Bones M&M" is a young couple (Mike and Megan) on their honeymoon. They are Canadians living in Australia who quit their jobs, got married, spent 4 months in Africa (her dream), then bought the cat in Guadaloupe and have been sailing towards Australia since last November (his dream). All very interesting people and fun to be around - which we found out over coconut juice and rum this afternoon.

After a leisurely morning, we finally headed in around 1500 - sadly we flooded our dinghy engine, but Moondance came to the rescue and gave us a lift in. Good thing it is not far - 5 people in their dinghy is tight and lots of work for their 9.9 hp engine. Charlie met us as we were wandering around, and gave us a tour. Their little area of the island is immaculately maintained, raked with walkways and hammocks hung all about, a cruiser book exchange in the older "Tom Neal" house and a newer house with flags from different cruisers over the years. Very nice. Charlie showed us the cistern we could use for showers and laundry, but no drinking, somebody's grave ( i was at the back of the pack, I think it was Tom Neal's, but that is not what the grave marker said) and then took us out to the beach overlooking the pass. Wow! a beautiful view. Then he came and fed the sharks. He stepped into the water and called them first and sure enough they came before he threw out any food - talk about conditioned responses, but very cool. I took a bunch of pictures, but they probably won't do justice to the actual event. Dennis even tried his hand at it. So we have dubbed Charlie the resident shark whisperer. After that we headed back to the beach area and tried coconut juice with rum. Quite tasty although I think ice would have helped. Turned into quite the party. Harry had gone out with the other half of the forest's paperwork to check in Lazy Bones, so shortly thereafter they came in followed by the folks from the other cat. Finally called it quit at sunset - barely made it home by dark (we would have been trouble, cuz I am pretty sure that if there were streetlights, they would have been on). We cheffed up the last steaks with rice and green beans, then dispersed to our various corners to wind down.

Hoping to do some snorkeling tomorrow (Sunday), maybe walk around the Island a bit. We calculated that we had not been off the boats for 12 days, so very nice to be on land.

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Suwarrow Day 1

Wow - sleeping on a flat bed - a flat motionless bed no less. Heaven!!! The wind has continued to blow, but the anchorage here is pretty smooth. We are thinking that maybe this Island was worth the discomfort of getting here. Certainly is beautiful.
The head Ranger (Harry) and his officer (Charlie) came by the boat this morning to check us in. Think we filled in half a forest's worth of forms, and definitely had the best inspection of our boat yet. Still not good enough to find my wine stash, but was a close call for the contraband plants. Lots of rules here - no spearfishing or diving in the lagoon, no eating the coconut crabs, no fishing in the lagoon...... Primary reason for the fishing is the sharks. They have gotten used to boats being in the anchorage and come after any fish you catch and not even a thank you for the free lunch. Diving is an issue as some divers recently got swept away out the pass, their own dinghy could not find them, so the rangers had to go after them, and the coconut crabs are not edible because somehow or other the island became rat infested (brought by a cruiser?). The have put out poison for the rats, but the coconut crabs eat the rats. The poison doesn't kill the crabs, but remains in their system and it is bad for humans. Just goes to show what can happen in a few short years. We had friends come through here in 2010 and eating the crabs was part of the draw at that time. Lots of other rules as well, just like being in any other national park: pack it in, pack it out, no dogs or cats, no guns, drugs, no taking shells, sand or marine life...... Once the rules were made clear and we pushed a little we found that the head ranger has discretion over many of the don'ts that we want to do, so maybe it won't be so bad after all. Mostly they just want to guide you, but you have to provide the fuel as they have only what they are left here with when they are dropped off for 6-8 months, so pretty understandable. Charlie seems to be the outgoing social one of the pair, and invited us in to tour the island and maybe have drinks in the afternoon.

There are now 4 total boats in the anchorage including Moondance and ourselves. The other two are catamarans. One is from Europe (Charles, Mariett, Bridgite and Michael). At least one of the 2 couples is from Luxemburg (sp?). They are primarily French speakers, but their English as always is better than our French (thank goodness). The other Cat "Lazy Bones M&M" is a young couple (Mike and Megan) on their honeymoon. They are Canadians living in Australia who quit their jobs, got married, spent 4 months in Africa (her dream), then bought the cat in Guadaloupe and have been sailing towards Australia since last November (his dream). All very interesting people and fun to be around - which we found out over coconut juice and rum this afternoon.

After a leisurely morning, we finally headed in around 1500 - sadly we flooded our dinghy engine, but Moondance came to the rescue and gave us a lift in. Good thing it is not far - 5 people in their dinghy is tight and lots of work for their 9.9 hp engine. Charlie met us as we were wandering around, and gave us a tour. Their little area of the island is immaculately maintained, raked with walkways and hammocks hung all about, a cruiser book exchange in the older "Tom Neal" house and a newer house with flags from different cruisers over the years. Very nice. Charlie showed us the cistern we could use for showers and laundry, but no drinking, somebody's grave ( i was at the back of the pack, I think it was Tom Neal's, but that is not what the grave marker said) and then took us out to the beach overlooking the pass. Wow! a beautiful view. Then he came and fed the sharks. He stepped into the water and called them first and sure enough they came before he threw out any food - talk about conditioned responses, but very cool. I took a bunch of pictures, but they probably won't do justice to the actual event. Dennis even tried his hand at it. So we have dubbed Charlie the resident shark whisperer. After that we headed back to the beach area and tried coconut juice with rum. Quite tasty although I think ice would have helped. Turned into quite the party. Harry had gone out with the other half of the forest's paperwork to check in Lazy Bones, so shortly thereafter they came in followed by the folks from the other cat. Finally called it quit at sunset - barely made it home by dark (we would have been trouble, cuz I am pretty sure that if there were streetlights, they would have been on). We cheffed up the last steaks with rice and green beans, then dispersed to our various corners to wind down.

Hoping to do some snorkeling tomorrow (Sunday), maybe walk around the Island a bit. We calculated that we had not been off the boats for 12 days, so very nice to be on land.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Suwarrow

Well here we are. And what I want I want to know is where is my gold belt buckle? 12 seconds lets try 37 hours. We all rode that bronc and put his ass to bed!!! Yee Haw!
Have to say I am glad it is over. We knew it was going to be fast and bumpy, but at about hour 32, I thought the sea was gonna win and just come on in. I am thinking that it really was that bad, but hard to tell when you haven't slept well.
My watch last night was a very mixed bag of tricks. Came on and we were going kinda slow. We were on a time crunch which of course I hate, but sometimes it is what it is. Dennis said I could put out more jib if I felt like it. Really, what kind of direction is that???? Anyway, almost immediately got hit by a squall, moderate wind no rain. Then as it passed it sucked out all the wind, so I let out more jib - still going less than 2 knots. So, I started the engine. That was good for a while, then came another squall, lots of wind and rain. Picture me sitting on the companion way cover holding on for dear life. Stopped the engine, and it was full tilt boogie from then on. No death rolls till late this afternoon - which of course I reeallly hate. Overcast and cloudy all day, Josh had a pretty dry watch, but Dennis had several squalls with rain. Made Suwarrow by 1530ish. Wow! thank god for the way points. Visibility was totally flat. Josh and I were up front on watch for coral heads and Dennis was driving. He had poor Izzie up to 2200 rpms and we were only making 1 kt of headway!!! Totally crazy. But he did an awesome job and we are safely anchored behind "Anchorage Island" (imagine that?). Moondance called when we were about 10 miles out to give us more info on the entrance (Thank You Moondance!!!).
Well by now we have had an ice cold beer, dinner and wine, so are nice and mellow. Looking forward to a good night's flat sleep in my own bed. Tomorrow has been declared a day of rest. Josh laughs when we say that, cuz our list includes, make water, run the generator, check in, maybe go exploring - restful right?
So far our impression of this stop is favorable, despite the sharks. Dennis and Josh have both been in the water and have had no problems. I just wasn't up to it, so will do a fresh water rinse before bed. Josh is excited to go spear fishing, and at this point it is not really a matter of fun, but a matter of we need food!!! We will check in tomorrow with the ranger and find out what is what. More to come.....

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

manihiki to Suwarrow

lat 11 deg 21 S
long 161 deg 43 W
course 202
speed 6-7 kts
wind SE @20
swell E @ 8-10 ft
cloudy
bar 1010

Well Mr. Baker forecasted fast and bouncy and it is just so. We left Manihiki by 0530 this morning and have been rockin and rollin all day. The day started sunny, but it is cloudy now, kinda nice really, cooler. Little bit of rain, one little bump up in wind with a squall, but otherwise we are just hanging on for the ride. Hope to arrive Suwarrow early afternoon tomorrow. We have waypoints into the lagoon, so that helps. We talked with Moondance this morning. They were well, rockin and rollin too They should get there early tomorrow morning. We will have our nightly contact with them shortly and see how their day has been.

Nothing of note to write about. Did have a thought for all my friends out there doing bikram yoga: How you feel after 90 minutes in the hot room, is how I feel after making dinner on passage - without the endorphin rush. I am praying it uses the same number of calories - yeah right. Dinner making on passage - a new Olympic sport. not for the faint of heart - LOL!!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Manihiki - Man is it rolly hiki

Moondance arrived last night around 0200. They were chased in by squalls and there was lots of lightening around last night. We got them all rafted up and everyone back to their beds just in time for a torrential downpour. At least it cooled things off, and Evergreen certainly needed the fresh water wash down. Had to laugh, this morning Dennis was searching for his computer, couldn't imagine what could have happened to it,as I was sleeping in the salon and noone could have gotten by me right???? Well, with all the lightening around us last night, I had put it in the oven. The oven? Well, they say that that is the safest most shielded place in the boat for it if the boat gets struck by lightning. I don't know if it is true or not, but made me feel better, and I got a laugh out of it.

Today was a major chore day - Dennis got the generator up and running, changed filters in the watermaker, fixed the drawer that kept falling out during the "death rolls", got another 12volt adaptor working so we can listen to different music, plotted our course to Suwarrow and who knows what else. I did dishes, breakfast, laundry, laundry, laundry, fold, fold, fold, lunch, dishes, looked things up in the cruising guides, put things away that Dennis took out to work on the generator (yep those same four compartments - think I have it down now), dinner and now blog. Josh aired out his bed, changed his linen (he says he could weaponize the smell in his room), helped us with our various projects, did homework and is now waiting for his turn on the computer.

The wind came up today, and the swell really increased, making the raft up with Moondance more and more iffy. Finally right at dinner time, Moondance had to untie. The swells would lift them up and push them towards us, and then as we were coming up with the swell, they would be coming down. We were all out on deck trying to figure out if we could adjust the way we were tied up when a few good swells came through and it looked like we were going to hit masts and/ or spreaders/shrouds. We quickly set about untying and untangling ourselves and it was pretty hairy for a few minutes. But they got safely away and finally after trying to heave to and getting blown down wind at a couple of knots, they decided to head on out for Suwarrow. That's exactly what we would have done. Suwarrow is about 210 miles away, so they should be able to make it by Friday morning no problem. We were all going to leave tomorrow anyway. Evergreen will leave at 0500 in the morning and with the sailing forecast being fast and bumpy, figure we will arrive Suwarrow noonish on Friday.

So, we have water, charts, power, full bellies and are looking forward to a good night's sleep. Send positive thoughts for fast - not bouncy.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Manihiki

Well, here we are. Made it by 1700, and guess who was in the teeny tiny anchorage? Kwai. Just leaving as it turned out.

So, had a pretty good night, got bumpy again and I saw winds to almost 20kts. But, by 0500 they had died down again, so when I got Josh up for his watch we put out more sail, and kept putting out sail all morning until we had the full jib, stay sail and triple reefed main. We were still making pretty good time even with only 8-12 kts of wind.

We were able to start the water maker as soon as we got behind the island, and will continue making water all night, and all day tomorrow. Plan on giving the batteries a good charge as well.

So yeah, we pulled up to the anchorage about 1630. Kwai was here, and we spent some time trying to figure out where in the heck we were going to put our anchor down. It is a very narrow shelf, that drops off dramatically. Add to that the sea floor is coral and rock and we were not sure what we were going to do. By the time the depth got in the right range, we felt like we were practically on shore. We finally decided to just go for it when a dinghy came from the Kwai. It was Captain Evi. He said we should take the mooring ball they had just vacated and helped us pick up the line. We hummed and hawed a bit, then decided it was the best choice. So by 1700 we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying beers. The Kwai took on its passengers which in and of itself was probably worth all the hassle just being able to watch. A big dinghy came from shore filled with people, pulled up next to Kwai, and people started scrambling off it and onto the Kwai. I have pictures, but the best by far was the hand off of a small child from the dinghy to the Kwai - would be priceless if I had caught it on film. Dennis said it would be called "here catch little joey". The kid was literally tossed from the dinghy up onto the Kwai. Funny unless it was your kid. They are on their way to Raraotonga (Cook Islands) - a 650 mile trip, so we won't see them again. Sure will miss them for their entertainment value.

After all the people off loaded to the Kwai, the big dinghy came by our boat and we were boarded by the health inspector. Josh barely had time to hide his contraband plant. We had hoped to be able to anchor here without dealing with C&I as we really have no desire to go ashore. As it turns out the rat inspection that we paid for in Christmas came in handy. The very nice gentleman (white guy with British and Cooks citizenship) took a copy of the rat inspection, checked our passports and gave us a paper that said we were set to go. Would have taken $30 NZ dollars if we had them, but we didn't, so will have to pay $50 (whatever currency you have) at Suwarrow. Fine with us, just don't send out C&I and make us pay the $55 per person departure tax.

So now we are bathed (the water is so warm) and fed (ham, mashed potatoes and green beans) and quaffing rum drinks (sorry no umbrellas, but hey they had ice!). Smells like popcorn for dessert - YUM!

Moondance should be here in the wee hours of the morning, we will leave the radio and the lights on for them (better than Motel 6). Not sure if they will anchor or tie up to us or what.

Regarding the anchorage. our charts were relatively accurate. The waypoint from Charlie's charts given to us by Moondance, not so much. As I said, there is one mooring ball. Captain Evi also recommended anchoring off the south point. He says there is a spit of sand that goes out about 1/4 of a mile, but would be a rolly anchorage. We are happy here for the time being. Looking forward to a good night's sleep.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

sweltering on the way to Manihiki

0300 Zulu
lat 8 deg 03 S
long 160 deg 26 W miles to Manihiki 144
course 187 M
Wind SE @ 12 kts
swell E at 6 ft - give or take 3 feet - mostly give. where in the world is that coming from Mr. Baker????
mostly sunny and stinking hot
bar 1008 down 3 over the last 4 hours - looks like it has been all over the place today

Pretty much an uneventful day to day - Thank you goddess of the sea! Stinking hot and humid though. Since we can't run the generator, we had to run the engine for a couple hours this morning - that heats it up too. Moondance is about 30 miles behind us and they had squalls (lots of rain, moderate wind and no wind) all day. They are going slower to time their arrival for first thing Wednesday morning.

Tried to make water this morning when it was still relatively flat, but no go there. I will have to start making it first thing after dropping the anchor and finishing my beer :). Lots of laundry to be done.

Last night was nice and smooth and fast - that continued until this afternoon. Still fast, but not so smooth again. We are hoping to make Manihiki tomorrow afternoon, so we will put up with one last uncomfortable night, although not as bad as the first two days. I feel for the C&I people if they actually come out to the boat. It is pretty funky in here right now. (Paul a case of febreeze may be on my wishlist).

Should be a full moon tonight. It is so pretty - this morning it went down all orange - was way cool as it backlit the clouds.

Hope to post from anchor tomorrow

Hey Behan, if you are reading this, would you (or anyone that knows how to find it) tell me where on facebook to find the email address to email in a post? Josh would like to be able to use that app.
thanks

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Umbrella drinks anyone?

0300 zulu
lat 05 deg 32S
long 159 deg 40W
course 185 Mag (ish)
speed 7kt
wind E @ 11kts
Swell E @ 5ft
sunny and hot - no convection today
bar 1008

So, what do you do in the middle of the ocean on a beautiful hot day with decent boat motion? Well some sailors might break out the umbrella drinks, but not Evergreen......
We try to be frugal with power on crossings, and given our luck with our generator, Dennis has not been in a big hurry to fire it up. But, today he decided the conditions were good enough, and the batteries were hungry so it was time to give it a whirl. The generator started right up, but when I looked off the stern to make sure there was water flow - no go. So, 4 hours, 4 storage compartments and 2 pumps later, we came to the conclusion that even the little bit of heel we are having is too much for the pump to get enough water. The up side is that nothing is broken and the problem can be fixed - just not today. The down side - we emptied out four storage compartments, Dennis replaced a perfectly fine pump, with another perfectly fine pump, we took apart the intake hose to the pump all the way to the through hull, and then put everything back together. A busy watch for me, no nap for Dennis and Josh had to get up and drive the boat. But, I had lots of leftovers to heat up for dinner, and although it is not an efficient way to feed the batteries, at least we are able to run the main engine to juice them up.
We have been able to have some hatches open too, which helps with the comfort inside the boat. So yeah, no lounging around with umbrella drinks today - maybe tomorrow. We are thinking that we may make Manihiki on Tuesday. Probably just in time to anchor in the dark again. But hey we are good at that.
The moon will be big and bright again tonight. Look up and think of us.

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Squalls

0300 zulu
lat 03 deg 05S
long 159 deg 01 W
course 180 mag (ish)
speed 8 kts (main, staysail and partial jib)
wind E @ 17kts
swell NE @ 8ft
partly cloudy and hot
bar 1007 (kinda looks like it was all over today, but hard to read our barometer)

So today was somewhat better. Probably my attitude more than anything. Wind came around, so we are going a little more downwind. If the swell would lessen life would be practically perfect in every way. It would be just like you all think it is. Sunny, flat, fast and umbrella drinks - I wish. Had several squalls today, nothing real major, but did give us practice bringing the jib in and out. Did I mention that yesterday we put the third reef in the main? That helped with the weather helm some. It is a fine line with the windvane steering. Trying to stay on a course (sort of). In these seas, we get hammered if we turn up into the wind too much, so the third reef helps the windvane stay in control more. (gibberish right?) Have done some pretty amazing burying of the starboard rail today. Finally gave up on the bottom drawer by the nav station - we are just leaving it out. fifty million pick up is only fun once.
Looks like the squalls are taking a break at the moment. Will have a big bright moon for our watches tonight. I am always sad when it goes down on my watch. I guess at some point we are going to have to change to local time. It is actually Zulu -11 in the Cooks. I can tell, cuz the sun is just coming up at 0600 now - was up at 0500 on the way to Fanning.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 2

0300 zulu
lat 00 deg 56 S
long 158 deg 25W
course 180 Mag
speed 7.0 kts
wind 17 kts SE
swell E at 8ft
sunny and warm
bar 1008 steady

Ok Ryan - where are you? I am ready to get off. We have commenced with death rolls - I really hate those. (heeling side to side gunwale to gunwale) The waves are hitting the cockpit and no position is comfortable, yes I am totally whining. Even going somewhat downwind I manage to have a crappy sail. Oh well, guess I will have to spend my off watch time building a bridge to get over it.
We are now back in the southern hemisphere, actually making pretty good time 580 miles to our waypoint at Manihiki. Otherwise aside from my crappy attitude all is well. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better motion or a better attitude about the crappy motion.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

2nd time is the charm

0300 zulu
lat 01 deg 25 N
long 157 deg 48 W
course 179 M
speed 7.5 kts
wind 15 kts SE
swell SE 5-6 feet
sunny and warm
bar 1007.9 (that seems low, what do you think Brad?)

Well, we made it out of Christmas, and are heading back into normal time. Meaning that Thursday is Thursday, not Thursday/Friday. Has been very confusing keeping track of it.
Had a lovely sail down the length of the atoll - just the way sailing should be: wind behind the beam, fast and flat. That was nice while it lasted. The wind came around to our nose and the seas got confused about 2 seconds before we left the atoll behind. So yeah, normal sailing for us. I believe somebody promised me down wind sailing..... Haven't seen that since the crossing to the Marquessas. Yes I am whining. Mostly cuz I don't learn. Took two (yes two) waves into our bed. The salon hatch was wide open and got not a drop. Oh well, we are on such a heel that we can't use our bed anyway, so except for having nowhere to put all the soggy linen, no real problem. And to prove that the sea god does have a slight sense of justice, both waves got Dennis side of the bed and his clothes - ha!
so yeah, pretty much status quo here. We will cross the equator tomorrow. It will be our third time. Wow! So far chart plotter is working and the batteries seem to be holding their charge normally. We can see Moondance's mast light, and will have a waxing moon. The current is still against us, but at least we are not motoring.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

On the road again?

Well hopefully.
We ran the generator for 6 hours today. The voltage on the batteries seems to be holding and acting more normally. So, we have decided to try again and will head out for Manihiki in the morning. Please keep your fingers crossed for us. The chart plotter is back to normal, so that is good.
It is possible that this turn around was a blessing in disguise. I had meant to lubricate the gooseneck (where the boom attaches to the mast) before we left, but forgot. It had been making a really annoying noise during the crossing from Fanning. So today with nothing to do but listen to the generator run I decided to put some dry lubricant on it. Well, do you remember when Josh went up the mast at Fanning, one of the reasons was to look and see if a bolt was missing from anywhere? Turns out it was from the gooseneck. The other half of the bolt was still there, but how much longer it would have held????? There is a nice new bolt there now. So maybe the gods were watching out for us after all.
Otherwise a pretty quiet day. Seemed hotter than it has been, but that was probably due to 6 hours of generator heat. Definitely have lots of hot water though! Too bad hot showers are the last thing any of us are interested in.
Will post tomorrow night

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Just kidding

Well, we are back at Christmas. We did leave yesterday, but had trouble with the chart plotter, compounded by low voltage in the house battery banks. So, after three hours of sailing, we turned around and came back to the anchorage here at Christmas. In a very appreciated show of support, Moondance came back with us.
We still have some internet time left (thanks again Hoo Roo) so Dennis was able to look up how to do a hard reset on the chart plotter (this was after checking for loose connections and voltage etc). Yay it reset, and appears to be back working normally.
The low battery voltage is another thing entirely. We are hoping that the method we have been using to determine the charge on the battery is inaccurate, resulting in chronically low charging. We are trying something different today. Keep your fingers crossed for us, as the other causes would be lots harder to find and costly to fix.
In the meantime, Josh gets another day to work on his biology course (quizzes are onlne) and we get another day in London anchorage. Waffles for breakfast.
More later

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Party's over

The party's over

After a week of celebrations, Christmas Island has gone back to work. After a week of watching and waiting we are leaving today.

Monday (Sunday our time) was a hard day for many people here on Christmas, probably through out the Islands of Kiribati. Imagine a week - a whole week of celebrations. Too much of a good thing if you ask me, but the lady at immigration said their next holiday is Christmas in December. So maybe they cram it all in when they can.

The end of the holiday meant it was time for us to get back to work as well. Sunday (Monday here) we spent the day (yes, the whole day) with the process of acquiring fuel. We had already found someone to deliver it - Tobako, so we presented ourselves at his place at 0930. At that point we learned we had to go to KOIL (Kiribatis Oil) and pay first. Off we went. $266 US later we had purchased 200 liters or one 55 gallon drum of diesel. Back to Tobako's, yes he would deliver this morning. In fact Dennis and Doug helped push a truck through the sand on the way to get unleaded gas for the dinghy's (none until the afternoon) and Dennis and I pushed the same truck through more sand on our way back to the dinghy. When we arrived at the boat HooRoo our new friends from Australia were just pulling up anchor to head to the wharf for fuel (they needed 1000 liters). We had told them we would help them, but thought we were imminently going to receive our own fuel, so we sent Josh with them. Four hours later, no fuel for any of us. HooRoo was hanging out at the wharf waiting for the KOIL truck and Moondance and Evergreen were hanging out waiting for our fuel delivery by panga. So, Dennis and Doug went in to check out the problem. Well there were several, starting with KOIL not being willing to fill the Jerry cans at KOIL, only 200l drums, so the truck had to go to Tobako's place. Then just as Dennis and Doug arrived, the KOIL truck was filling the cans with UNLEADED! That would have been catastrophic if they hadn't caught it. Sure enough his paper said "unleaded". Doug was able to show his receipt for diesel, and eventually they got all the jerry cans filled and the panga loaded. In the meantime Carla let HooRoo know to check before they filled, and that the truck was on the way to them. So, at 1600 we received 10 cans of fuel which required funneling into our tanks. Thankfully we used a filter, the fuel itself seemed okay, but the cans were pretty dirty. At 1800 we were finished, the decks washed, Josh returned from HooRoo, cans lined up to be returned. That kind of a day called for a good comforting dinner. Thank goodness my experiment with doing tritip in the pressure cooker tasted good (and oh so tender). Then a move, then heavenly bed!

Yesterday was all about checking out of the country, final provisions (read beer run) , boat prep and stowing. Once again 0900 found us in our dinghies heading to town. I honestly won't miss that dinghy ride. We were loaded with 12 of the 20 jerry jugs from Moondance and Evergreen - not a comfortable ride. We off loaded those at Tobako's place, left some more used oil and trash and set off for C & I (customs and immigration - C & I from now on). Got to customs - you have to pay for the rat inspection - $50. Go to the accounting office (thankfully right next door). With that done and paper in hand we went to Immigration, then back to customs. Just FYI for cruisers behind us, it is a 4 crew list process to check in and out. Or should I say it could be. I don't think anything much is set in stone. After promising to go to KPA (the port authority) to pay our mooring fees, we were done. Rat inspection? what rat inspection? Noone came, we never even saw the quarantine lady, but hey we have a paper that says we don't have rats.

KPA requires a dinghy ride, so we picked up final provisions on our way back to the dinghies - bread, papaya (free - fresh off the tree), butter, evaporated milk for coffee and finally eggs. Yep I sprang for 90 cent each eggs. Hey I have room in the fridge, and we may not see any until Samoa. The gas station had unleaded so the dinghy got a fill up too. Next destination: the boats, then KPA.

Thinking of all that we planned to do yesterday, tipped me over a bit, so we decided (or Dennis humored me more like it) to divide and conquer. Dennis and Josh stayed and cleaned the bottom of the boat and I went with Moondance to KPA and Punja's. After how difficult everything had been, the last two items on our todo list went smooth as silk. KPA took our money fast and efficiently, the walk to Punja's was hot, so we stopped at the rainbow store for water, and scored 6 papayas (free, fresh off the tree). Were not able to finish our beers at Punjas (nice and cold), before they had the beer we had bought loaded in a truck waiting to give us a ride back to the wharf. I was back to the boat in record time I think. Dennis and Josh were still working on the bottom of the boat, so I started the cleaning and stowing process inside. The boys had lunch and took a long rest after the bottom was finished, then decided that the dinghy could stay on the davits for the next leg. The original thought was to deflate it and put it back on the deck. I hope we haven't jinxed ourselves into a rough ride. The decision to leave it on the davits was based on the thought that the next leg is going to be mellower than the last two. Lord knows we deserve a mellow leg, but we will see.

Yesterday was my day to be oriented on Isuzu engine care and feeding.
Here is my checklist:
Water emptied from bottom of engine compartment - check (I already knew how to do that)
Check the coolant level - low needs more, make 50/50, come back -oops is overflowing into the engine compartment. Put on the cap, empty the coolant from the bottom of the engine compartment, fill the reservoir which had filled the radiator and overflowed.
Check the oil - quart low. Fill - done
Check the transmission fluid - full - done
Check the alternator belt - ???? might be okay, but needed recheck by Dennis, and did need to be tightened. Oh the mysteries of alternator belts. Think we got a bad one as it keeps getting loose. Hopefully can replace in American Samoa.

HooRoo (Jim and Jill) left yesterday for Hawaii - fair winds and following seas to them. Loved meeting them. Nice people. They gave Josh a HooRoo Crew t shirt for helping them on Monday. One of the reasons we love this life - the people you meet are consistently interesting, nice and fun. We saw them in town Tuesday morning on our way to C&I, said our goodbyes and they were out of sight by the time we returned to the boats.

So, we will leave here today - this morning sometime, headed for Manihki in the Cook Islands. It is approximately 700 miles, we are thinking 6 days. We will stay there briefly, to rest up and get ready for the next leg to Suwarrow. We will probably stay in Suwarrow for a little bit. Supposedly beautiful with great fishing and wildlife.
Got to get this posted and start my day. No more pictures til Samoa :(.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pictures - Fanning Island II

 View of the pass to the north east ish.  taken by Josh when he was up the mast rehanging the radar reflector and checking sails and rigging.
 Hey Rose - how is this for a pizza oven?  I am sure Craig is drooling.......
 More customs and immigration - Dennis and Josh in the background, the police chief in the foreground.
 The rescue of Jean Michael in his wayward dinghy.  What you can't see is the Kwai in the channel behind them.
 The school bus - pretty scary
 The village from the top of the mast
 Tabita and Ti arr a moa (or something close to that) prepaing dinner.  2 kinds of fish - red snapper, bread fruit french fries, rice, poisson cru etc....
 Tabita, Carla and Paul.  Tabita using a tahitian style coconut grater to generated coconut and then coconut milk to use in dinner.  Lots of work...
Check out those teeth!!!  sure tasted good though!

Pictures - Fanning I

 Sorry, not in any particular order - just happy to be able to post.

Evergreen and the KWAI - Fanning Island













 Bruno's place with clockwise from top:  Carol, Josh, Dennis, Mike and Fred
 Bruno with Agnes - Great bike seat huh?
 Gotta love this - solar on thatch
 Doug, Bruno, Agnes and Paul

 Bruno, Tabita, Paul, JoJo and Margery
 Customs, Immigration and quarantine
 seems it is a tradition to have a picture of us all on a road on whatever Island we happen to be on
Evergreen coming through the pass into Fanning Lagoon
 Working on the dinghy engine - Josh really was helping
 Kwai coming in the lagoon.  gives some perspective of how big they are compared to us, but still only 120 ft.  Moondance was in their spot, Carla had the engine fired up to move, but they anchored by us instead.
Fred and Mike on Fred's boat. Hard to see, but there is alot of fish there.  We got two travalle out of it, but there was also wahoo and something else

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Big Island sunset

As promised here is a picture of the awesome sunset on our 2nd or 3rd night out of Oahu.  Most likely caused by the VOG from the big Island.

sorry missed a day, here's the catch up

Independence day-
More culturally interesting experiences yesterday.
Kiritimati - kir is i mas. Ti = s
We had a pretty rough start on the boat - I guess the culmination of Josh's bad mood. Tipped me over - I had to tell him to get over it. Probably surprised him as I don't generally give him too much of a hard time. I guess I was tired of all the whining. "its hard, its hard", yeah well, welcome to cruising - shouldn't be a news flash. Finally Dennis and I went to KPA (kiritimati port authority) internet café to buy some internet time. It is located at the end of the wharf. We dinghied over as there is a very nice dinghy dock on the wharf. We decided to get the KPA because when we put up our wifi antenna, it boosted the signal well enough for us to get it on the boat. It makes homework for Josh easier. Still a pain in the ass according to him, but at least he will be able to make progress in his biology course. Took us a while to get it set up and going and figure out how to turn it on and off. Then Dennis and I went in to check out the festivities. I don't think that Josh didn't want to come as much as he really wanted time away from us. Plus he had homework. We missed the marching - something that actually started on time- it was probably the highlight of the day according to Carla. We heard them beginning around 730 am, but that was way too early. Josh thinks his homework affects only him……
First on our agenda was to find some bread. I am doing my best to put off having to bake my own for as long as possible. We were able to buy some (even on the holiday). $4 for two loaves - Orowheat eat your heart out!! I think they must use a little whole wheat flour, cuz it is not really all that white of bread. Actually we scored ice cream cones first. Nice to have something cold. Amazing how hot is on shore. Felt cool on the boat with the breeze, but shore was hot and muggy.
Independence Day celebrations here are very much a community event. Seemed to us like a big community bbq while watching soccer or whatever other sport was going on. We decided to walk to the water side of the field, hoping it would be a bit cooler. It wasn't really. The field was surrounded by their version of "pop ups" over cement picnic tables. Basically open buildings with corrugated roofs. Some have wood floors, some not. It looked like the family all came for the day, with their sleeping mats, kids, toys etc and bought food from the different vendors. We were standing there watching the game - looking like out of place white people - when a man started talking to us - where you from etc… Turns out Meka (his short name) is the mayor. Wow talk about hospitality! He bought us lunch and beer (even a bud will taste good when it is cold and free). Meka explained about the schools - each village has a primary, the government has one secondary to I think 8th grade and there are two private, church based, senior high schools. He also explained about the soccer teams, talked about his family, and how unused to seeing white people here they are. Tourists come here, but generally to fish and they never leave the hotel they stay at. Meka is a very nice man - he would not let us pay - we laughingly said we would vote for him and tell people to vote for him. Turns out we were eating from Bob's (driver from yesterday afternoon) family's food stand - hence the budweiser beer.
Meka's 14 yr old son was playing in the final we were watching - don't think his team won. When the game ended, Meka left to go rest up for the evening's festivities - a big bbq sponsored by the minister. We have not been going to any of the night activities as coming back to the boats in the dark with the dinghies just seems a bit iffy. By then, we figured we had seen and done all that was to be done and it was time to head back. We brought our food with us - so technically we had carry out for dinner last night! I had hoped to get some of the sweet and sour pork (no breading), but they ran out. I was able to taste it from the pot - man yummy!
Kind of a lazy boat day today. I have done dishes and tidied up, drilled holes in one of our deck boxes - I love power tools! Dennis put in a switch to turn the subwoofer on and off - uses too much power for full time use. We may go in later. The internet we bought yesterday is turned off - can't see it today. So goes the cruising life. Finally get Josh motivated to do his work and the internet craps out. REALLY!!! Is pretty windy again today - supposed to be through the weekend. Hope to be out of here Tuesday (US time). I think we have decided to go to Manihiki. It is only 600 miles and will break up the trip to Suwarrow. I am already thinking of what food to prepare ahead of time for that crossing. May buy a couple cans of corned beef and some potatoes for a stew - that always goes over well. Surprisingly I found no canned beef in HI before we left, or at least none I was willing to buy.

Went over to Hoo Roo this afternoon so Josh could use their internet connection (they have the govt internet). He was able to connect and take some quizzes for biology. I checked my gmail and banking. The Hoo Roo internet cafe is very upscale - served us rice and fish balls - yum. We provided california wine, beer (moondance) and snacks. Hoo Roo is such a nice boat - a catamaran, so lots of space. Thanks very much to them for keeping our student happy. No big plans for tomorrow - is Sunday here, so quiet day in town. If the winds calms down maybe some water time - we will see.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

All the things your Mother told you not to do

Remember all those things your mother told you not to do and we told/tell our kids what to do??? Well they sure are fun.

We started our day with boat chores and school. I have finally finished washing the linen - YAY! and mother nature even provided a second rinse. For breakfast I used up the last of the local bread and donuts (really just sweeter bread) for French toast. Pretty good. Josh really likes his psychology book - thank god the author has a sense of humor. Dennis assigned some geometry - not so much of a sense of humor there. And Dennis and I ran the newly repaired sound cable for the TV.

On to the fun stuff. We met Moondance in town for our trip to the big box store. We had been told we could just flag down one of the green "buses". We waited a good long time and then decided to hitchhike - sorry Mom, but very safe here. We didn't get far walking before it poured down rain - was cool and refreshing. Caught a ride as soon as the rain stopped with Tom (talking to strangers and hitch hiking) - in the back of his pickup. Much better than any old enclosed bus!!! And he would take us all the way there. We had one stop at a store called "Punjas". Got snacks and a cold beer. It appears Tom (who works at the airport) has opened his own little store in Banana (yes, really the name of a town. I told you those Brits were not a very imaginative lot). The big box store "JML" was closed when we got there at 1400. Seems they are open 08--12 and 16-19. Tom offered to take us into Banana, to his home. When we got to his place, his father in law was preparing a pig for the big celebration tomorrow. Was a little gruesome, but they had killed it and were just finishing up burning off the hair. The hole to cook it was dug up, and by the time we went for a walk and came back it was buried in the cook pit. Tom then took us back to the Captain Cook Hotel (that guy sure got around) where we were hoping to get something cold to drink while we waited for 1600. Sadly that was not to be. The bar - in fact the whole place seemed to be closed today. Reopening tomorrow. The security guy let us hang out in the atrium, so we read our books until 1600, then walked over to the JML store. Well, that was pretty anticlimactic as well. Lots of stuff from costco, but nothing earth shattering and the only beer they carry is Budweiser. Seems the Punja store has the Heineken distributorship, so that would be the place for that. But, at 67 AUS per case - I think we will tough it out. We still have plenty of beer, and lots of crossings to do, so I think we will be okay.

Next up - find a ride back to London. So, we asked the government van - no luck (and not overly nice about it either). The Italian couple came by, but the did not have enough room in their rental car. We asked a man with a pickup at the gas pump, and he said he had about 30 min of work to do, but would pick us up if we still needed a ride. Well, sure enough 30 min later we still needed a ride. So he brought us all the way back to London. This time I rode up front with him and his little girl. His name was Robert - call me Bob. The little girl was Kayla. He is from Christmas, went to school in Scotland (6yrs - lived with his uncles), worked for Norwegian cruise lines for 8 years out of Fanning, and has been back on Christmas for the last 3 years, works for his Dad who owns JML. Kind of incongruous listening to a local person speak english with a scottish accent. The little girl (3 yrs old) was very cute and babbled the whole time. Did I say no car seat??

So, we survived our day of living dangerously. We are very tired, but have spaghetti in our bellies and are getting ready to watch a movie. Life is good. Going to go in tomorrow and watch some of the Independence day festivities. Also need more bread, and may try to get internet from a place that we can pick up from the boat. We'll see. Movie time now.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Boat day

Well, changed our minds and had a boat day today. Josh did school, Dennis worked on route planning and weather and wiring the TV sound, and I did laundry, changed sheets, did dishes, sewed Josh's backpack and finished my book. Oh yeah, had a nap too. Hope I sleep tonight!

We are trying to decide where to go next. Penrhyn (Cook Islands) is close, but expensive to check in and out. Manihiki is on the way to Suwarrow, but we are unsure if you can check in there or not - conflicting information. Suwarrow is 960 miles, and sets us up for due west run to Samoa. So, we are pretty sure we are going there, just haven't decided if we will make a stop along the way. I am leaning towards going straight to Suwarrow. Lots of reasons, laziness and the unwillingness to deal with all the check in hassles of the Cook Islands are two big ones, but am anxious to get to Fiji. So far, although everything is pretty, it hasn't been good for being in the water, or hanging out on the beach, or snorkeling etc. Suwarrow is a preserve - no customs/immigration per se - $50 fee to anchor. There are 2 caretakers that live there 6 months out of the year. The reef is healthy (read - there are sharks), so spear fishing, beach combing and snorkeling are reportedly beautiful. Ah decisions, decisions.

So yeah laundry - linen more precisely and towels - YUCK! I sure hate doing that stuff by hand. Do you know that an old fashioned wringer is about $120? After today, that doesn't sound so expensive. Has to be done, but uses up a lot of water, don't know why I get so freaked out about that - we will make more. Just feels wrong sort of. At least things dry fast - the breeze was very nice today - kept it relatively cool too.

Found out why the sound wasn't working on the TV system - cable was cut in half. That would do it. Found that out as we were pulling it. Made problem solving easy - nothing subtle about it. Dennis soldered it back together - it was a hard fought battle, but Dennis won. Stupid thing is back in one piece again. Sure hope we don't have to re run it the way it was - must have cut about a million cable ties (ok, so maybe only 15 but it felt like a million).

Pretty moon tonight - orange sliver with a big bright star by it. Seemed weird that it was setting at 730p - don't know why - just did. The stars out here are amazing - even with the brightly lit fishing/cargo vessels all around (They remind me of car dealerships all lit up - all the time). You can see the milky way, sometimes seems so close you could touch it. And of course the southern cross. Guess we are not in Kansas anymore huh? (do you wonder what my first clue was???? LOL)

So scheduled for our bus ride adventure tomorrow. Wish us luck!

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Monday, July 8, 2013

7/8/13 Happy Birthday on Christmas

Well, Happy Birthday to Dennis today (Monday US time).

Had a pretty busy day today. Started off by sleeping in a little. We had adventures in movie watching last night. Our poor old home made computer has finally called it. As Josh said, it is the oldest computer on the boat and has been subjected to some pretty harsh conditions. It has served us well, just wish it would have held on another 5 months. Dennis and Josh finally rigged a system so we could attach the laptop to the TV, strung the sound wire across the salon - and voila - movie. By then it was close to 2130, but hey who would want to miss Expendables 2 with Russian subtitles? Love the humor, not a whole lot of plot, but lots of blowing things up too - what is not to love? That made bedtime pretty late - I was looking a little pumpkinish - and didn't wake up until 0800. We needed to be out the door (so to speak) by 0900. Our appointment with customs was at 1000.

Yesterday I made a big breakfast, did some laundry, did dishes, made water and generally putzed around in the morning. Josh did school and Dennis worked on the dinghy fuel pump. Although it is still on probation, the dinghy engine appears to off the injured reserve list. No promises, but so far so good. In the afternoon we went in and used internet. It is painfully slow, but the company was good and the beer ice cold - so no complaints.

Today we actually were able to check in with customs - no charge today - We will see what happens when we check out. Doug and I tackled that chore while Carla and Josh did internet. Dennis came back to the boat for awhile. After customs Doug and I were pretty productive. Found .80 cent eggs and evaporated milk -only took 5 stores. We also talked to Tobako (sounds like tobacco but the k is hard) about fuel. He will be able to get us some (200 liters each) and ferry it out to the boats in his panga in 30 liter jerry jugs - but not until Monday (7/15). Oh well, can't check out til then anyway, so we are just going to relax and go with the flow. After that we went back to the Ikari. It is the hotel with the "beach bar" and internet. I got what I absolutely had to get done - but was not able to upload pictures. Took Carla 30 minutes to download skype - and then when they finally placed their call - got the machine. It is possible to buy a sim card - next Monday when the govt offices reopen....... Good thing no one is desperate to phone home. Dennis had come back by then, gotten bored and gone for a walk. We were all done, and were just debating about a beer when he got back. So - we had a beer. Took the usual 30 minutes to find someone to pay, and then we were on our way back to the boat.

Spent the rest of the afternoon baking a German chocolate cake for Dennis - from scratch. Hence the need for eggs and evaporated milk. Dennis grated fresh coconut for the frosting - major yum. Then I made dough for pizza crust. Pretty sure that was more baking than I have done in the last 18 months. Whew!! I am tired. Moondance and HooRoo came over at 1630 for snacks, cake and drinks to help celebrate Dennis birthday. Was a very nice get together. Boy I do love cruisers. My pizza was okay - I am definitely out of practice - but I am the only game in town so nobody complained.

The wind has shifted again today, so the anchorage is kind of rolly. Not any worse than La Cruz in Mexico, but more motion than there has been. We are hoping it will shift back. The Kwai came in yesterday too. Our new friends Fred and Mike will be flying out tomorrow. Not sure how long the Kwai will be here.

We are thinking about taking the bus (i use that term loosely) to the "big box store" tomorrow. It is by the airport in the town of Banana. Did I mention we are anchored at London? The British were not too imaginative in naming places while they were here. We figured that since we are here, we should see what sites there are to see. Another reason we hope the sea settles - we would like to explore the lagoon in the dinghies.

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Christmas in July

Well, we are going to have a lot of Christmas celebrations in July. Dennis will have his birthday on Christmas - Tuesday US time. They will spend the whole week celebrating their independence here. The park is all set up with food stands etc. Supposedly gospel karaoke competition tonight. Can't hear it out here - bummer. (or not).

Spent several hours this morning trying to finish our check in. The customs lady never showed for our 1000 appt. Went by the police station and policeman Sam drove us around looking for her, but no luck. Maybe tomorrow. Sam is very nice and friendly - had the neighbor kids climb a coconut tree, kick us down 3 coconuts, husk them and bring them to us at the police station. A couple of bags of beef jerky (small) was a pretty good trade. Carla made cookies to bring to Sam tomorrow. He invited us to his house - if we can find it - Past the coil (fencing we think), left, past the primary school, second house. Sounds straightforward - I will let you know. Believe it or not - we saw men working on the telecommunications wiring - ON A SUNDAY! Phones are down as well as the internet, so I guess it is a big deal. we are hoping they got it all situated today so we can use the internet tomorrow. Cross your fingers for us. We were also surprised to see some of the stores open. Guess it is more like the real world than we expected. The dinghy ride to and from time was much drier than yesterday. Still not too fond of walking through the seaweed to get on and off the beach, but at least today I didn't squeal like a girl. Nasty though.

Had a couple of highs and lows on the boat front today. A high and low is that the dinghy engine is running. The low is that it only runs if you pump the bulb on the fuel line. Final diagnosis seems to be bad fuel pump. Dennis had a wishful thinking moment that it fixed itself and tried to go without pumping. We ended up flooding the engine - in the pass in an outgoing tide. Out came the oar - I paddled while Dennis cursed the engine. We did not float out to sea, and the engine eventually started. Lesson learned - carry the VHF. Not exactly sure what we are going to do about a fuel pump. Paul may be carrying boat parts to Fiji (be prepared buddy). The next high was a successful run of the generator - yay! hot water and power. So, remember the hot water heater pressure valve that broke and we capped off - well, the water pressure pump kept going off, so I went looking for where we could have a leak. Sure enough hot water flowing out of that connection. So, turned off the water pressure and waited for Dennis to get back from his excursion with Jim (from the catamaran HOOROO anchored next to us). He was able to fix it pretty easily, but gave me heartburn and used up a tank of water in the process. Boats - low maintenance, except when they are not.

Had happy hour on Hoo Roo this afternoon. Very Nice catamaran out of Australia. They are on their way to Vancouver. Tracy & Steve Dolling if you are reading this, would you email me (WDD7203@sailmail.com) the contact information for your marina? Their kids are in Alberta, so sounds like they will winter there (Brrrrrrr) and do the inside passage in the summer. Nice people. We shared books and software and they had lots of info about the cruising areas we are headed to. Now that is why we cruise - always nice interesting people to meet and share good times with.

Josh is back doing school- not too excited about that. He is reading sociology and psychology, has a biology course to do, does assigned writing and reading for me and geometry with Dennis. Is kind of tough getting into a pattern. He did learn though that he won't be doing schoolwork on the short passages - takes at least 3 days to get to the point where he is able to read without wanting to barf. Lots of different lessons to be learned in the cruising world.

So far, we are happy with our anchorage here south of the wharf (1 deg 59.468 N 157 deg 28.981 W), closer to the pass into the lagoon and subsequently town. We are able to dinghy into the lagoon, around the first red mark and then head into the beach to tie up. Puts you pretty much in the middle of town. Tomorrow when we go in we will (hopefully) finish our check in and then see about obtaining some fuel. We figure we need about 50 gal. (200l). So hopefully the government provider will be willing to sell to us during the holiday week. It is worth the 30 cent per liter difference to wait to get it from the main supplier. 1.30 per liter as opposed to 1.60 per liter. Pricey stuff. Not that we could leave here until we get out exit papers from immigration/customs. So I guess we will just have to be patient.

So ends another exciting day in the life of cruising.

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Christmas Island

Well, it is Christmas. Arrived last night in the dark - about 2200. Thanks to Doug and Carla for leaving the lights on for us. Not even a motel 6 would have looked so good! Managed to miss all the obstacles and set the anchor on the first try. Yay! was good to sleep in a still bed.

So, we slept in today. Got some intel from another cruising boat in the anchorage, so we moved closer to the pass. Little less swell and a shorter dinghy ride in to town. We made the ride in to town this afternoon. Seems we had a 1730 appt with customs that we didn't know about, but thanks to Doug and Carla, the immigration lady met us and got that piece of the check in over with. Overtime was pricey- luckily we got to share the bill between the two boats. So did I mention their Independence day is next Friday? Well, they get the whole bloody week off. So, getting checked in will continue to be an interesting process. The immigration lady is setting up our customs appt for tomorrow morning at 1000. Wonder how much that overtime is going to cost us??? Getting fuel may be an issue too. I keep you updated on that. There are 3 cruising boats that need fuel, so it may be worth their while to sell to us this week - definitely Island time.

We did a good bit of walking around this afternoon. Doug and Carla were our scouts, so they had found the beach bar. Pretty cool. Help yourself to beer from the fridge (cozy provided), write your name on the white board and keep track of how much you drink, pay at the end. Finding someone to pay was not straightforward, but we managed. Then we checked out all the little stores. Pretty much the same one to the next, but hey at least they a) had stores and b) the stores had things on their shelves. Vast improvement over Fanning. Oh and hey they have cars!! Driving on the wrong side of the road, but all the same- cars. In my ongoing saga re: eggs - they have them here, refrigerated, $1 dollar each, yep that is $12 per dozen. Ouch! Did find a tin of butter - $8.50. Found it a little cheaper down the street, but the damage was already done. The boys got ice cream, and Doug and Carla braved the roadside food stand for pork stew. I tried it, tasted good and lots of it for $3.

Did find several internet places, no place to buy wifi, will probably have to wait until Monday. In the meantime, we will get to see how the people of Christmas celebrate their Independence day. Beauty pageant on Wednesday, volley ball, soccer, music. People here are more open and actually speak more English than in Fanning. I think it is because it is a busy port. There are two container ships, three fishing boats and an oil tanker in the anchorage as well as the 4 cruising boats. Busy by Island standards. We saw some of the fishing boat crew in town, they were from Peru and El Salvador. Hey a foreign language I could understand!! Don't think Gilbertese is going to be an addition to my language repertoire. So,more to see and do here - sort of.

On a side note, I hope Heart Strings and Delphinia are doing well.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

still enroute to Christmas

Yeah, you gotta love sailing. I mean really, or otherwise it will make you nuts. So, note to self and any other cruisers behind us. Christmas is SE of Fanning and the current is strong and the gribs lie. When you combine those three things, the 32 estimated hours for travel turn more into 40 which means an in dark arrival to the anchorage. The easterly winds forecast never showed, in fact we had 10-15 on the nose all night and all day today, so all motoring with no help (in fact only really hindrance) from the wind. Pretty much an uncomfortable bash. Our poor engine is going to need a vacation, and maybe some sort of engine peace offering - old Izzy is working hard.

Josh took his first wave into his room last night, good thing I was able to use our bed, or there might have been serious trouble around sleeping arrangements! It is all dried out now, but the boy cave needs a serious airing out.

Has been sunny though, a couple of short rain showers and actually a break from the sun is okay. Both Dennis and Josh have been feeling a little under the weather. Josh says the first two days of a crossing are a complete write off for him. I guess I will have to remember to feed them their meclizine the night before we leave so they are not playing catch up. I am doing okay, but the motion is not my favorite either.

Oh yeah, and we forgot about the whole day ahead thing (or at least I did), so it is Friday for them today, and next week is a holiday (independence week - I guess although the day is July 12). That leaves us wondering whether or not we will be able to clear into this Island or not. That would surely suck if no officials will clear us in. There is an airport, so you would think someone in customs/immigration is working, but it is not a given. Josh may mutiny if he doesn't get access to the internet pretty soon. He is looking forward to it - I am too for that matter. I have my pictures all ready to upload and everything.

One more thing today. Remember that if you are commenting on the blog or facebook, I don't see those. Remember no internet. So if you want you can reply to WDD7203@sailmail.com. Text only. I am feeling lonely as my child is getting more mail than I am :( (poor me..) Glad he is getting mail though - gives him something to look forward to every day.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fanning to Christmas

We are on route to Christmas Island. It has been an ITCZ kind of day. I set my alarm for 0530 this morning. Crap! it was still dark. Finally started getting light around 0600 and we were on our way out the pass by 0630 ish. Had lines out, but no fish wanted to join us on our trip to Christmas. As we made our turn to the south, we noticed a ginormous dark cloud in front of us. The wind was pretty good though, so no problems. About 0715 though I started battening down the hatches, cuz sure enough that big old cloud had our name all over it. The wind came around to our nose and the seas got bouncy. Josh and I hunkered down below (fancy name for going back to sleep). Dennis stayed pretty dry, and there was some scattered talk with Moondance about whether or not this weather was here for the duration. But finally, the sun came back out, we opened back up and have had a pretty nice day since. Josh and I did some house keeping after lunch and then settled in for the duration. The wind finally came back around a little east, so I put the staysail out around 1630. Helps a little bit - the current is not helping, so it is slow going - even with the engine chugging along.

Tried to make water this morning, but had to give up, the water maker was not interested in making water in rough seas. I restarted it at lunch time so it is doing its 6 gal an hour thing. lunch was fried rice, and then Dennis and Josh headed down for naps. Pretty quiet afternoon. Saw one fishing boat headed for Pusan wherever that is. But that was it. Moondance is about 5 miles ahead of us. Their engine is new, so they go faster. We have talked a little on the VHF, and will talk again in the morning for sure. Now its time for me to make dinner - spaghetti. Pretty much a crossing staple - comfort food for this crew. I am going to have to break down and bake bread soon. Not one of my stronger suits, but I guess practice makes perfect. Wouldn't mind ordering out a pizza about now. So, maybe to celebrate the 4th I will make pizza. We will see how I feel tomorrow and what the sea conditions are.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rest Day?

YAY!!! We all got to sleep in. Even Dennis slept until 0900. Granted we had a just before dawn mosquito feeding frenzy that required coil lighting, bug spray application and benedryl spray, but after that was settled, it was time to get on with sleeping in. Josh couldn't believe we let him sleep until 1045.

So yeah, couldn't leave the boat since we are checked out of Fanning, but did finish up prepping the boat. Josh did a miniscule amount of math with Dennis, but that was it for him. I made the barracuda with rice for lunch - turned out really good. I think we were all pleasantly surprised. Dennis (as usual) was pretty productive in the afternoon - worked on the dinghy motor some more. Still not working properly, may be a fuel pump after all. It is very quiet on shore now that the Kwai is gone - nothing to watch with my coffee this morning.

The boat is ready to go now though. The dinghy and motor are up, the sail cover is off and all the loose things are tied down. Plan to depart tomorrow at the butt crack of 0600 at slack tide. It is about 32 hours to Christmas Island, so we will leave early enough to get there by early to mid afternoon.

We will celebrate July 4th on Christmas - LOL. Literally Christmas in July. I crack my own self up. See that is what happens when you let me rest. I spent an hour or so in Josh's hammock this afternoon - very nice. Good boy for sharing with his mother.

Am making fish and chips for dinner. Another PITA in my life. A first for me making french fries the old fashioned way. I hope noone is in a hurry to eat. All for now.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Work, work , work

Ai, yai , yai. You all just think you are jealous. Jeez Louise I am tired. So, yeah, this morning we thought we would be leaving tomorrow.. So lots to get done. Had major rain overnight, so my bucket for laundry had lots of water. My catchment system is a joyous feat of engineering thought up by Josh. Yeah an umbrella on its side facing the wind concave side draining into the bucket. I will have to take a picture cuz hey it works. And since Dennis had done a thorough cleaning of the dinghy, the water in it was fair game for laundry as well. I did linen in the dinghy, then 2 loads of clothes from the big bucket and it was so hot it was a warm water wash and rinse. Everything dried pretty well, even with the small second rinse from the rain this afternoon.

In between all that, Dennis changed the oil in the generator, and did routine maintenance on the main engine (gotta take care of her, she has been taking good care of us - she deserves some tlc). Josh filled the steering fluid, moved the dive tanks to a better position, helped me tie down the hard dinghy and retie the diesel jerry jugs up front. Oh yeah and he rigged a clothes line for me. Lots of little things to be done - stowing the snorkel masks securely in the deck box, putting away the folding chairs, re tying the weather cloth/pocket for stowage on the port aft deck rails, putting away the oil/antifreeze (twice), dishes, lunch, dishes.... folding laundry. Did I mention all that laundry is done by hand in buckets (or the dinghy)? Wringing that is a PITA and my hands and arms. Better watch out for my right hook.

We also had to go to shore to check out of the Island. First to immigration - hand fill out the form twice , one for them one for us. Who needs a copier? Interesting to note that immigration shares an office with the chief of police and the jail. The jail had two customers - locked in and handcuffed to the bars, on pallets on the floor. I am not sure what would have been a better picture - the face of the woman who I asked "Were you a bad girl?'' or Dennis' face when I asked her. He had been pointedly ignoring the two people in the cells, so I am pretty sure he was mortified when I not only spoke to them, but teased them as well. "Time out?" Hey the woman laughed. The skinny guy in the other cell, just kinda looked at me and the police chief laughed as well. During his conversation with the police chief, Dennis found out that there was someone who did hand crafted "knives" out of shark's teeth and fish bones. So, after customs the police chief went off on his motor bike to get the goods. They were pretty cool, so we bought one for Josh. Will be a good souvenir of Fanning. After all that we walked around a little bit - saw where the grow/harvest seaweed (something they export) and the ponds where the mosquitos propagate. Needs a good dose of DDT! No wonder they can find their way out to the boats.

After the check out run, it was back to the boat for lunch and more chores. The Kwai left today around 1800. But, they still put in a full day. One of the last things they off loaded was a huge generator - the kind that looks like a trailer. Good thing the barge is like a shore landing craft - the nose end fold down, so they just pulled it off. Was also interesting to watch the Kwai put itself back together. Definitely an order to things. We hadn't realized, but the aluminum fishing boat was/is theirs. They hoisted it on deck motor and all and covered it with a tarp. The very last thing was to bring on board their passengers and hoist up the inflatable dinghy. They are off to Washington Island about 90 miles NW of here, pretty sure they will come back here, pick up some passengers then head back to Christmas Island.

At the end of the day we decided to go with Doug and Carla to say good bye to Bruno and Tabita and the fishermen (Fred and Mike). It was threatening rain, so we had to close up - the boat is hot now. We were there longer than I expected, but they are all nice people and made the visit here enjoyable. On the way we decided to spend one more day here. We can't go ashore after 1130 as that is when we theoretically have to be gone by, but will be nice to have a rest day. Josh has started back with school, so we need to get that more situated as well. He is reading a WWII book about the war in the Pacific, and read some sociology. Dennis will work with him on geometry tomorrow and he will write for me. Hopefully I will have something of his to post to the blog.

So, another day in the glamorous life of cruising ends. Trying to dredge up enough energy to hose myself down - the humidity here is pretty over the top, and dang the water is still salty........

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