Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sailing from Galapagos to Hiva Oa, Marquesas 2007

Monday 30/07/07 1300 hours. - Leaving Galapagos

We got up reasonably early had breakfast and caught the water taxi ashore, had a talk with Leigh and Jenny, Joe left at 0545 hours on the fast boat to Santa Cruz to catch his plane heading home to Ireland. What a nice bloke he is, he said he did two very good things in his life one was taking up the practice of a doctor and the other was giving it away.

We updated our blog on the net then went back on board scrubbed the decks getting rid of all the dirt from our boarders the sea lions. The locals put barbed wire around their boats to stop them getting on board. I didn’t happen to have any.
We then prepared to weigh anchor. Once ready we motored out of the port, notified the port Captain of our departure on the radio and made for clear water to get the sails up, there was a good breeze blowing and in the right direction for us.

We received a call from Creighton’s on the radio they were preparing to leave and they wished us well as we did them. They were motoring out as we were hoisting the mainsail. Once the mainsail was up we set a course for 255 degrees magnetic, we then unfurled the Genoa and shut down the engine. We were sailing around 7.5 knots in the cover of the island once clear we were going over 9 knots. As we headed away Creightons was setting their sails about 2 Nms behind us, once they had the sails set they followed our course, I thought it would not be long before they passed us, them being a Maxi racing yacht but we appeared to be leaving them behind.

There were a few storms developing off the port bow and coming our way, as the squall arrived we picked up a bit more speed, once the squall had passed there was no wind. We started the engine and motor sailed for a short time this also charged the batteries up for the night time. We went through three squalls and after each one passed the wind dropped. We maintained a speed of 8.5 knots.

After lunch Nancy went for a rest, the long journey had started; we have 3,025 Nms to go 4 hours on 4 hours off watch for the next 3 to 4 weeks. Good way to test a marriage? It will take 3 or 4 days to get into a routine after the ten day break.

We passed Santa Fe and Santa Cruz on our starboard side and are approaching Isla Santa Maria on our port side it will take a few hours before we get passed. It would have been nice to see some more of these islands, Santa Maria has a yachties post box on the beach, yachties put the mail in, and other yachties will pick them up and send them off at the next available port along the way. The problem is that the islands are declared National Parks and to visit cost $100 per day per person. Too rich for me I am afraid. The authorities prefer the organised tours of larger passenger boats and that’s what they cater for.

We are going along quite well, we have a 1 to 1.5 metre swell off our port bow, but it is not uncomfortable. We appear to be leaving Creighton’s well behind us just before dark I could only see a small section of their sails, they may be changing course for a more southerly run as Nick was thinking about doing that or they could have got caught in the lull after the storm and have no wind at all.

31/07/07  - 1300 hours

We are doing well although the forenoon had its moments; I had just gone off morning shift when Nancy asked if I could check to see if it was another boat ahead she thought she could see. I confirmed it was and I would stay with her to see what it is. As we got closer you could see it was fishermen and could also see the usual floating black flags of their fishing gear that they drop off. I said to Nancy we want to stay well clear of those flags and we altered course to the windward side by 10 degrees. As we were nearing the flag I said to Nancy I would like to know what gear they have on those flags. What do they say be careful what you wish for?  Nancy said look someone has thrown plastic bottle rubbish overboard. I said Oh I hope it doesn’t start following us, and watched as we passed and sure enough the plastic bottle started to follow us. I dropped the sails immediately but it was too late we had their fishing gear around the port propeller. It took us 2 hours to get free; the fishermen came within a half mile of us and retrieved their equipment minus the small part that is around our prop, they did not want to communicate with us they were probably illegally fishing. I found out that they are long lines, I got in the water to try and get to the prop but the boat was jumping up and down with the swell and it made it too dangerous plus I did not want to get one or more of those hooks in me. The water was bloody cold. I am not sure whether we still have any gear on the prop but it is not causing any concern at this stage.

After my cold sea bath in my jocks I was freezing, I dried off and went to bed to have a short sleep before coming back on watch. I came up for lunch and the afternoon shift, as Nancy was going into the saloon from the cockpit I said a cuppa would be nice, with that she turned to switch the gas solenoid on at the switchboard and I closed the door, unfortunately on her finger. At the time I did not realise what was wrong because she was jumping and shaking her left hand, I was trying to see what she had done to it but it was her fingers on the right hand that I was still closing the door on. That’s the problem with these animated people, they talk with their hands, and I was looking at the hand that was shaking when it was the other one in trouble. After she settled down some time after I said well that evens things up, you did the same to me a couple of weeks back. We both laughed.

Had a successful radio sched this morning I first spoke with Panama Net then with Leigh. Leigh left Galapagos at 1800 hours last night and had just gone passed Santa Maria at 0800 hours this morning. He is making excellent time.

We are also doing well we sailed 170 Nms in 23 hours at a rate of between 6 and 11 knots, it would be good if this continued all the way but you can bet it will not. We did a short motor sail after a storm passed as it left us in the calm.

Creighton’s appeared to be gaining on us at one stage then they dropped back again. We have not seen them since just before dark last night. They did not come on to our radio sched this morning as they said they would and I could not raise them on the VHF radio. They were talking of taking a more southern route to try and get the wind on the beam; they may have done just that. Although they have a track record of saying they will do something and they don’t do it. As reliable as a good day in Melbourne, (Sorry to those in VIC).

Had a few storm cells last night and a pod of whales at the same time near Isla Isabella, I could see a major storm ahead and in the grey of the sky on the horizon I could see what I thought to be waves breaking. I said to Nancy if the waves are breaking like that in the approaching storm we might reduce sail. We reefed right down to find out that it was the whales jumping out of the water and also spraying water when venting. The rest of the night went well and we started to get into the routine of the watch keeping and sleeping on demand.

01/08/07 – 2205 hours

It’s late at night I have just finished the 2200 hour log entry, it has been an interesting day, and we have had some blue skies with sun shining but the wind chill factor kept me in my trackies. We have passed through four storm squalls, the first three were not too bad a little light rain, but the last one I had a feeling about and put a reef in the main sail and after a short while I had the Genoa reefed to two thirds furled. The seas got a little nasty with 4 metre waves and 28 knot winds; we were sailing between 7.5 and 10 knots with everything reefed down. As I write this we are going through our fifth squall, we will stay reefed till morning I think.

Nancy had the three day blues today; she phrased it a little differently. She said I am sick of being cold and wet. She laughed and said not to worry I was like this on the third day of the last leg, I will be OK tomorrow.

I understand what she means it always seems to take the three days to adjust, I was the same when I was in the Navy, I was pleased to go to sea, but it took three days to settle in to the mode of things. You have to adjust to the watch keeping and the new sleep patterns and on top of that the movement of the boat.

Nancy cooked a great dinner tonight roast chicken, baked veggies, seasoning and gravy. She does a bloody good job when the boat is bouncing around all over the place.

At the moment I am heading for a light patch in the sky on the horizon, I am hoping it’s the hole out of this squall we are in; it is hard to write whilst bouncing around the cockpit. I only hope I can read what I have put down when I go to type it up. I just thought what Clare would say, (Clare was my secretary), she would probably say it would be an improvement on what I handed to her. All my past secretaries would probably say the same thing. Thinking back I was blessed with good staff and especially with the secretaries, Jodie, Joanne, Cath, Carolyn, and Clare, all very nice people and good friends.

We have come through to a clear sky, the good old Southern Cross is just about to disappear, have not seen that for quite a few nights due to cloud cover. We are presently in an area of two sea currents and the one we are in at the moment is going our way and giving us an extra knot in speed, I don’t want to enter the one next as flows against us and will slow us down. We have to enter the counter current area to get to Marquesas, indications show that it is inactive this time of year, I hope they are right.

Well Nancy is about to take over the shift after I wake her so I will sign off from my ramblings and thoughts.


After Nancy took over the shift at midnight we entered the calm after the storm and we dropped speed and it stayed that way right through until lunch time. The breeze has picked up and the sun is shining so Nancy has taken advantage got the gear off and is sun-baking for her off shift rest. We will not do as good as yesterday with distance travelled, those storms do help you move along, we sailed 180 Nms yesterday we hope to do 150 Nms today. That is the target we aim for every day anything over that is a bonus anything below is not good.

It is good sailing weather at the moment sun shining, I am keeping watch and we are listening to CD’s as we go along, we only have a short supply of CD’s, we could only pack one lot that holds around fifty CD’s, we have another six packs like that in Brisbane. We will probably wear these ones out by the time we get back.

Had our radio sched with Leigh at 0800 hours this morning he is having the same problems and had to do some motor sailing. He is on the same course as us but is on a line further north and keeping a much straighter line this is due to the fact that one he has more experience and two he has various sails in his wardrobe one being a spinnaker for these low behind winds. Could not raise him on the radio last night I thought it was through the storm, but Leigh informed me he was off shift and fell asleep and missed the sched.

We purchased a long stalk of green bananas that we hung in the cockpit; they are ripening fast so Nancy has cooked a banana cake. She has also cooked a large pot of pumpkin soup that will last a few days. We also have fruit and veg strung up in netting bags in the cockpit. The other trick is that we wrap the tomatoes, apples, and mandarins in alfoil this makes them last quite a long time.

I think we have got back into the cruising mode now, I had a very good sleep whilst Nancy did the midnight shift, she had to wake me to do the morning shift usually I am awake and ready well before time. After finishing the morning shift I had breakfast, did the radio sched and went to bed and had another good hour and half sleep. After the afternoon shift I will try and get another hour and a half, this way I get six hours sleep per day. Nancy has the better shifts as she can go to bed at 2000 hours till midnight shift then she can go back to bed at 0400 hours so she is sleeping in or around the normal sleeping times.

George (our auto pilot) has just told me the batteries are low so I have started the starboard engine, the one with the crook gearbox, running this at 1800 rpm out of gear will charge the batteries and save some hours on the port engine. I cannot use the portable generator at the moment with the big waves over the back of the boat I don’t want to play Russian roulette with electricity. We would not gain any significant speed if we used the port engine in gear as we are doing around the 7.5 to 9 knots.

I asked Nancy how she was going with it all today; she said she was a little nervous being so far from land and what Mother Nature will throw at us during this leg of the trip when we have so far to go. She did add that she has no regrets in doing this it is a great adventure. She also reckons that when we get back to Oz she will have no concerns in doing a circumnavigation of Oz itself, may be a little concern of the Great Aussie Bight. I said that wouldn’t be a worry I will borrow Leigh’s road map. (I mentioned this in earlier notes). Leigh used a road map after seeing a chart and there were no shallows in crossing the bight so rather than buy the chart he used a road map with Lat/Long on it.

03/08/07 2100 hours.

We have had a good day today a bit of roll with the swell off the port aft quarter and tail wind, we have sailed 153 Nms and still have 3 hours left in the day. We have had two really good days one in the 180’s and one in the 190’s. It would be good if this keeps up. I have read that other people that have done this leg have been down to 2 knots per hour and because of distance and fuel conservation they have had to put up with that, so we are doing well. We could not carry the amount of fuel required to motor all the way, we would have jerry cans everywhere. At present I have 14 jerry cans plus the 2 normal tanks that hold 180 litres each. One engine uses around 4 litres per hour.

I logged a question in the ships log today. Nancy’s birthday is 4 August. Question, is it Nancy’s birthday today as it is the 4 August in Oz, or is it tomorrow when it is the 4 August here?

I asked Leigh that question on the radio sched; his answer was that I should bake her cake and give her a present on both days. Thanks Leigh, she heard you say that. That’s twice I have been caught out today with Nancy. Leigh did say that he was going to make her a cake when we get to Marquesas.

When I was doing the sat/phone sched with Rick Nancy was out in the sun, I mentioned to Rick about Nancy’s birthday and told him that whilst Nancy was asleep I had gone to the starboard after cabin where I have my computer and made up a birthday card and put some money in it for her to spend when we get to Marquesas. I did not realise that Nancy had quietly come into the saloon and was standing behind me. So much for the surprise.

Getting back to the problem of what day is the birthday, I solved it by giving her the card at midnight on the 3 August here that made it 4 pm on the 4 August in Oz.

Writing just came to an abrupt end. We just passed through a squall then after the wind died. I started to make some sail adjustments as the boat had just about come to a standstill. I released the preventer on the boom that stops it going into an uncontrolled jibe when a large wave rolled in that made the boat lurch and the boom did exactly what the preventer would have stopped. The lazy jacks (ropes) came tumbling down on top of me and the main sail tore along the seam midway between the two reefing points. The sail can still be used in the second reefing position fortunately. It is also a good job that I have a new sail on board that I purchased when I bought the boat.

There is hardly any wind so we are motor sailing, I will deal with the lazy jacks and sail in the morning when it is daylight, I have just tied the lazy jacks up so they do not go over the side and get tangled and have reefed the main to the second reefing point.

04/08/07 1400 hours

Nancy’s extra boobie for her birthday.

When I came on shift this morning at 0400 hours Nancy had a hitch hiker, a bird, a Boobie. It crash landed in the cockpit just after she took the midnight shift. She was not sure whether it was hurt but it had made itself quite comfortable. As soon as daylight arrived the boobie waddled to the back of the boat and flew off, it flew around the boat for a while and another boobie joined it, I think it was a very young bird that was just tired. It did leave Nancy a present in the cockpit that she cleaned up.

There will be no records set today with the wind low and main sail in second reef now permanently until we get to Marquesas. As soon as daylight hit I started repairs, the starboard lazy jack halyard broke off inside the mast so I have used the auxiliary halyard to hoist them back into position which has stopped the bottom half of the main sail from dropping out of the boom bag. It had also damaged some of the lazy jack lines on the port side so I replaced those.

Light winds and heavy swell continues to shake the wind out of the sails this means that at one stage you pick up speed then you drop back knocking your average speed down considerably. It could be worse we could have no wind or major storms so I won’t complain.

As soon as I got things together and could see what the waves were doing in daylight I started to play with the sails to try and get the best out of what we have and shut the engine down to conserve fuel. We are near a third of the way to Marquesas, 2,121 Nms to go.

Did the radio sched with Leigh at 0800 hours, he offered to detour and bring his sewing machine to repair the sail or assist me in putting up the new main sail. His position is 60 Nms north and 10 Nms behind our lead. I thanked him for his offer and said we can put up with it until Marquesas. With the swells that we are experiencing it would be difficult enough to board another boat let alone try and carry out main sail repairs.

Birthday girl is having a well earned sleep, I think it knocked her a little the main sail damage, she is still very nervous about being so far from anywhere and these seas and winds that we are experiencing, there is no place to run to and there is no turning back against these seas. It is daunting for both of us sailing across these open seas.

When Nancy woke she had a nice surprise when checking the satellite phone there were birthday messages from Angela, Amanda, Kai and Bridie, plus others that Rick had received by email. I did leave the Sat/Phone switched on all night but you cannot always hear it ring with the noise of the sea.

It is quite funny that after I left the Navy I had no desire to travel anywhere overseas, I was just happy to travel around Oz. I always feel that we have everything in Oz and it is a lot better than most places I had seen in my previous travels. When Nancy and I got together she expressed that she would love to go overseas, she had never had the opportunity or funds bringing up four daughters by herself. So I took her to Vanuatu for her 50th, I enjoyed it as much as she did; we both enjoy meeting the people more than the sightseeing. We had our plans made then about buying a catamaran and travelling the coast of Australia. It was at Port Villa talking to yachties that had sailed there that Nancy said, may be when we get some experience on the Oz coast we could venture to close by islands even Vanuatu. So when we were joking and laughing about our mishaps today, I said well you wanted to travel overseas, you can’t get more overseas than this. She laughed and said that she would never have thought she would be doing this.

It was also shower day today, yeah I shower every Saturday whether I need it or not. (Old pomie joke). So before I had my shower Nancy got out her new clippers and cut my hair, number two back and sides and number four over the top. She did this in a rolling sea whilst I sat on an upside down bucket in the middle of the cockpit, me trying to balance on the bucket and Nancy trying to balance to cut the hair. She did an excellent job. It is the first time she has done it. Note how trusting I was, it’s two weeks before we get to Marquesas, you know what they say, the difference between a good and bad haircut is about two weeks. However, she did an excellent job and I would be quite proud to go ashore with this haircut now.

05/08/07 - 1230 Hours

The seas and the swell have been much the same, the swell around 3 metres, waves and wind from the southeast and wind strength 15-20 knots. We are averaging 6 to 7 knots with the main sail permanently in 2nd reef position and the Genoa furled just a little.

During my morning watch this morning in the dark I was standing on the port side of the cockpit looking ahead when POW I got hit by a flying fish, they have a very strong fish smell and so does my fowl weather jacket now. They call them flying fish but they do not exactly fly, they glide, their fins are almost as long as their bodies and they use these as wings to glide. The sea is full of them, but I have found a way to stop them jumping out of the water and flying, you get the camera out to take a photo and they stay in the water. Really, I have tried for days, during the mid and late afternoon they jump out of the water as the boat nears them, you grab the camera and they stop put the camera away and they start again. I have a few photos but not what I wanted.

Also this morning at 0745 hours the GPS indicated that we have 2,000 Nms to go, a third of the way, two thirds to go. That’s not bad a third the way in six days; I don’t think we will do as well now that we have damaged the main sail.

Had the radio sched with Leigh this morning, overnight they took the lead from us, they are slightly ahead. I would say they will go well ahead of us over the next few days when you consider he left Galapagos nine hours after us. He is a very experienced sailor and he knows how far he can push his boat we are still learning. He said he may get in a day before us but that will give him time to cook a chocolate cake for Nancy’s birthday. It is good to have the radio scheds it makes you feel that you have company out here.


Did not put pen to paper yesterday, I was too stuffed and it was rough, we had waves up to 4 metres coming in on the port aft quarter as normal but to make things interesting smaller waves are hitting us broad on the beam so you get this rocking from side to side. Most uncomfortable. We have had that now for 48 hours, but it is getting a little better now.

When I did the radio sched with Leigh yesterday he informed me that Creighton’s had contacted him, they had come up behind Leigh during the night and they were about to pass him this morning. I mentioned earlier that Creighton’s left Galapagos just after us and they appeared to drop behind which surprised me. Apparently I caught the wind in the squalls when we left and we were doing well and left them in the calm after the storm. They being such a large boat bobbed around like a cork getting a maximum speed of 4 knots for days. Once the wind picked up they got up and boogied.  Their yacht weighs 65 tonnes.

The incredible part about this is Leigh and Nick are on the same line 60 Nms north of us and getting good winds, we had to motor sail through the night and still have little wind today but we need to get under sail mode only to conserve fuel, we will just have to put up with the slow speed.

Leigh had trouble with his Genoa last night it gained some tears, Leigh said it has been repaired a few times before. He is not doing too badly though he clocked up another 200 Nms yesterday, we did 177 Nms I am pleased with that, we do not have the array of sails that Leigh has or his experience.

Creighton’s did not join the radio sched this morning but Leigh said that he could see them on the horizon ahead of him.

The good wind has disappeared and we started to rock and roll, I tried all sorts of things with the sails to get more speed, got the good books out to see if I could do more. I noticed that the main kept losing wind when we rocked and it was blocking the wind from the Genoa. I dropped the main sail got out a spare rope a fed it through the middle cleat on the starboard side and connected it to the Genoa. I tightened it up with the winch and it pulled the Genoa out further for the tail wind to fill the sail better than it was and we picked up a little more speed than before with both sails up. I got all this finished and it was time to go back on shift, no sleep in that break.

It is shower and washing day today, the showers have small sumps that gets pumped out when you finished your shower. What we do is lift the lid off the sump before you have a shower and put some cloths in to be washed, usually small items like underwear, light tops, and shorts. Whilst you have your shower the sump fills up the movement of the boat helps wash the cloths and when you are finished showering you lift the lid give the cloths a hand wash then rinse them with clean water. That’s how we conserve water.

I have my shower before going on the night shift (2000-midnight); it gives me a new lease in life to get through the shift.


Just started the afternoon shift (1200-1600), the seas continue to test us we have 20 knots wind and a 3-4 metre swell coming from the SSE every 8 seconds, this swell has been constant since the second day out of Galapagos. This type of sea is better handled in monohull rather than catamarans us cats rock a lot. It is even difficult sitting here writing these notes on the pad.

We reached the half way point to Marquesas, there was not any fanfare Nancy was asleep. She can get a full 4 hours if she tries as we put the clocks back an hour at lunch time so she has an extra 30 mins on her break and so do I. We changed the clocks in daylight as it is not as hard to do an extra half hour shift during the day it would be a drag at night. The night shifts are getting tougher at the moment and that is probably that we find it hard to sleep in the day time when off shift and we are very tired during the night hours. This is our tenth day out, we have done well to get half way in this time, we would have to meet the same distance each day to get there in the next ten days, and there is no sure way of doing this. Most do this crossing in around 21 days or longer so we are not expecting to beat these times we don’t know what weather or conditions are going to face us in the next 1520 Nms.

The other added pressure we have is that we are still learning what this boat is capable of and how to get the best performance from her. We have not been disappointed so far, the bouncing around we have been doing is common to catamarans in these type of seas, it is just unfortunate that we picked this time period to cross this stretch of water. The seas we have been sailing in I have seen around the Whitsunday’s and when it was like this there all except two of the tourist day tour boats were cancelled due to the sea height, the only two that were running was “On The Edge” a 65ft Catamaran and “Ragamuffin” a monohull that you have probably heard of before when racing in the Sydney to Hobart.

09/08/07 2030 hours

(Sunrise and unsettled seas)

We have had a very good day after a bad night last night. We had squall after squall, the start of it was just before midnight when a wave broke over the back of the boat, and it must have been quite high because it put water on top of the bimini above me. This was immediately followed by the boat surfing down that wave. I changed course to run with it and reduced sail. Nancy was to come on shift at midnight I checked on her and she was still asleep so I left her there knowing she would not be comfortable dealing with what was out there. She woke about half hour later and came up, things had calmed down a little, but it was still quite wild. She said she would be alright to take the shift and so she did. She gets frightened but she does her share, she said to me, you know I am not as brave as people think I am, I get really scared out here being so far from anywhere.

We were not the only ones to have a bad night Leigh mentioned on the radio sched that he stows his dinghy upside down amidships over a hatch and he always leaves that hatch open for air flow. Last night a wave broke over the boat and found its way through the hatch into the cabin.

But as I said today has been good clear skies and sun shining it makes up for the bad night. Could not raise Leigh on the radio for the sched tonight, not sure whether the skip is running the right way for us or Leigh has slept through it. I did hear a couple of yachties talking and they were way back in the Caribbean.

Tonight we reach a milestone, 3,000 Nms since Panama, we have 1,282 Nms to get to Hiva Oa (in a straight line), and we have completed 4,430 Nms since picking up the boat.

11/08/07 2030 hours

Came on shift half hour ago after the radio sched with Leigh, he could hear us clearly but we could barely hear him. He is nearly two days in front of us now. His array of sails and eleven years experience has really put him ahead. The Maxi Creighton’s is still in front of him but Leigh said they have some problem with the boom vang, that’s the equipment that stops the boom from kicking upwards.

You may have noticed no pen to paper yesterday, I was having a flat day, I was tired and had trouble sleeping. It was not because of high rough seas this time the seas were quite flat but not smooth, we had the usual swell coming from the 120 degrees and in addition we had small waves coming straight onto the beam that just rocked the boat constantly. This has continued all day today and is still with us tonight.

We now have less than 1,000 Nms to go, we are over 2/3rds the way on our 13th day. It has been a big task doing the 4 hours on 4 hours off for 13 days and we have at least another 7 or 8 to go. I was thinking earlier I have not done 4 hours on 4 hours off since unloading the Vung Tau Ferry (HMAS Sydney) in Vietnam when we unloaded the Army personnel, plant and equipment. That was back in 1966 and I was a lot bloody younger then.

I mentioned to Rick on our phone sched that we had done 3,242 Nms since Panama and 4,683 Nms since the start; he said that we could be near the halfway point of being home in Oz. We will have to work that one out.

Rick does a great job for us getting the info out to family and friends each day through the email system. Thanks mate. Rick is also our mentor; if I have problems I sound him out for ideas. We are still learning, I don’t think you ever stop.

Nancy Jean was having a bit of a flat day today, we missed a call on the sat/phone from Colleen so I suggested she ring her back and have a chat, that would lift her spirits a bit. Nancy rang but no answer. She then rang Amanda and got the real lift she wanted when granddaughter Bridie yelled down the phone, “my Nana Jenks, I love you”. It was good medicine for her.

This trip is a great experience and we are enjoying it but it is hard work at times and it is fun at other times, but this leg is a long one and 21 days takes its toll. We knew this was going to be the hardest part and we were not wrong. Trips of 6 to 8 days is fine, but these big ones I do not know how lone sailors cope. They must like their own company. The hardest part really has been that the seas have been heavy 99% of the time and this restricts what you are able to do around the boat. We have been confined to inside the boat or in the cockpit, going out on the upper deck or to the tramps up front you have to wear the harness for safety and you stand a good chance of getting rather wet. We have a rule that rough weather and night times the person on watch wears the harness and clips on and also wears an inflatable life jacket. The reason for this is that you are up on watch alone whilst the other sleeps. If one should slip and they are not hooked on it could be up to four hours before the other person would know you have gone. When we are both about in the day time it is not so critical unless it is really rough then we both wear the gear if you go out to the cockpit. It is the same as we keep tabs on each other, if we move to a part of the boat where we cannot be seen we let the other know where we are going. I scared Nancy one day, I went out to the mast and did not tell her, she looked around in the cockpit and I had gone. Do you think I copped it in the neck?

It is a good job that we get on so well a trip like this could test a marriage, I have heard other couples that have done trips where the wife is not that fond of the idea, and they have ended up in disaster. I really think this trip has brought us closer together if that was possible. We have to depend on each other here and we need each other to get through the tough times and flat days. Poor Nancy has been terrified at times but she puts on that brave face and says we got to do this. I am proud of her.

I told her I nearly woke her up last night, during my shift we passed a ship going the opposite way, the first ship we have seen at sea since leaving Panama Gulf other than the fishing boat where we got tangled in the line.

12/08/07 2230 hours

Midway through the night shift. It has been a good day weather wise, could have been a little better for the sailing, we had a tail wind of around 10 knots so that slowed us down a bit. We do not perform that well on a tail wind.

Not good news on the radio sched tonight, Leigh told us that Creighton’s had hit a squall this morning and had ripped their main sail quite badly, they are able to use it at the third reef position only. They had taken the fast run south to 10 degrees longitude and were hoping that they could then tack and head straight for Marquesas, they are not able to and have to tack back and come north before they can head to Marquesas.

The seas are not that big here tonight but they are still uncomfortable, we are doing the rock and rolling trick again. We are getting a few black clouds building up that I am keeping a good eye on, after Creighton’s experience the storm may come through here. I will shorten the sail before Nancy takes the shift, it saves her trying to do it, and it saves me so she does not have to wake me to help her.

Sailing during the night you get to see the stars a lot clearer than you do on land, there is no lights out here to interfere. The thing that has amazed me is the amount of shooting/falling stars, I see up to five per shift. There was one classic one tonight, it was rather a bright star as I looked up you could see it explode on the right hand side the star went flying to the left, and you could see the fragments go to the right. It was quite spectacular. But it is incredible the amount that you can see out here. They say you make a wish when you see them, I haven’t heard from the lottery department as yet, do you think it would help if I bought a ticket?
(The sunrises seas still lumpy)

14/08/07 - 0530 hrs

Did not put pen to paper again yesterday, I did type up a lot of the notes that I had made ready to update the blog when we arrive in Marquesas.
Yesterday afternoon close to sunset I was off watch having a sleep when Nancy yelled out “John, John there’s a boat”, I got out and sure enough there was a Japanese fishing boat about a mile off our starboard bow, Nancy had not seen it straight away because it was directly in the glare of the sun. I don’t think they had seen us either as we were on a collision course. I said to Nancy turn to starboard and give them plenty of clearance, they did not see us as we were actually passing them port to port about 100 metres away. There was a bloke on the bow looking over the side and I waved and he did not see me, I called up on the radio and bid them good day and he ran to the wheelhouse to answer me and that is when he noticed us, he thanked me for my good wishes and wished us good luck. This seems to worry me a bit that is the second ship I have made contact with that has wished us good luck. Do they really think we need it, if yes why? Just joking. We watched it pounding into the waves going on the direct opposing course to ours and I should have taken a photo to show you the size of these waves because it would have shown up that way. Taking a photo of the sea itself does not show the true picture. The fishing boats hull at the forward end was a third of the hull out of the water as they went over the waves that may give you some idea. The benefit we have is that we are going with them not into them.

We also had a visit from a Noah’s ark (shark) yesterday, he came to investigate what we were I suppose out in his territory, he swam round for a while and then left, and he was about 2 metres in length.

Managed to have a sched with Leigh, very faint signal, he has only 450 Nms to go we have 735 Nms. Creighton’s is still battling with their damaged main sail. I found out they went with the wind south to below longitude 10 degrees when they ran into the squall. They said that the swell is that big they have to stay on a course of 135 degrees which is taking them in the wrong direction, when things settle they will tack back northwards.

We are in our 16th day and although we have got our sleeping patterns in order we are starting to get a bit fatigued, we will be pleased to have this leg behind us. I think what is making things worse is that the winds are not favourable, we are suffering with a near tail wind and that is keeping us at low speeds. We probably would not rock and roll as much if we could get more speed. But that’s the joys of it all.

We have just reached another milestone early this morning; we have passed the half way mark to the Land of Oz we are halfway home. Our journey is estimated as 10,065 Nms give or take for wind direction etc. we have reached the 5,043Nms since we started out.

The day has been quite good in comparison to last night and early hours of the morning. I was supposed to be off watch and resting between 1600 and 2000 hours last night but the seas were so rough I stayed with Nancy and ended up taking over the shift early and letting her rest. She came back on at midnight and I went for a sleep but did not sleep that well. So I am as they say a little stuffed.

15/08/07 - 2300 hours

Nearly the end of my watch and I am ready for a sleep and I am looking forward to it. Early hours of this morning around 0230 hours I awoke and sensed something wasn’t quite right, I went up to the cockpit and poor Nancy had an eventful watch, she had had rain storms and strong winds and now there was no wind at all and we were just about stationary. I said to her to start the port engine and motor, I helped furl the Genoa and went back to bed. Just as I was leaving the cockpit Nancy said, “It’s that magic 0230 hours in the morning again”. Every midnight shift where something has happened where I have had to get out of bed on Nancy’s watch has been 0230 hours in the morning.

I went back on watch a 0400 hours and nothing had changed weather and sea was still performing the same I continued to motor until daylight when I could see what the sea was doing. It is very hard to judge in the black of night when there is no moon or stars out. When daylight came I could see a confused sea, swell from one direction wind and waves from other directions. There was wind so I let more Genoa out and continued to motor sail and we continued to do this through the morning. By lunch time when I came back on watch we were able to shut the engine down and go under sail only.

Had the radio sched with Leigh at 2000 hours he has 120 Nms to go, he should be in Hiva Oa around lunch time tomorrow. Creighton’s has 200 Nms to go and they should arrive in Hiva Oa on Friday, the tail enders us, will arrive Sunday.

We are very much looking forward to the break; although Creighton’s have had some tough luck like us they do have a crew of seven to share the load. Although we missed out on having extra crew Nancy and I are quite pleased to be by ourselves as we can go about doing things without worrying about someone else.

One good thing about arriving Sunday is that it is the 21st day since leaving the guide book states that if you arrive from a South American country prior to 21 days your boat has to be fumigated at your own cost. Something to do with the Rhino Beetle. I am not sure whether they will enforce this with the other boats. Although talking to Leigh he has not cleared in yet and said that he won’t be until Monday the same time as us. Cunning little bugger.

16/08/07 – 2300 hours

Last hour of the shift. Have you noticed a pattern developing here? I have been writing my notes in the last hour of the shift for a few days now. The reason is it is the longest hour so I can write more. Not really, it is the hardest part of the watch to keep me awake and it makes the hour go faster by doing something.

I have been sitting here listening to Andrea Bocelli; you didn’t know this boy had culture did you? We like all types of music, I am not that big on opera but Andrea has a special voice and he has good music, it suits the night to, we are becalmed after the storms, the seas now have small waves and the night is rather pleasant.

We were only able to fit in one case of about 50 CD’s out of our 6 cases, so we are playing them over and over, we will know all the words by the time we get back to Oz. We have a range of music from the 60’s, 70’s to later type music and more modern music so we have the variety to suit the mood at the time.

Had the radio sched this morning Leigh had 30 Nms to go he could see land that is going to be a good feeling when we get to that position. There is always something special about seeing land when you have been at sea for a while. I know when I was in the Navy it was the same. But the special feeling those days was seeing Sydney Heads, probably because it meant home after months at sea for some of us, but also Sydney Heads is special and the harbour the best I have seen in the world.

This evenings radio sched Leigh said that he arrived around lunch time, the place is very nice the anchorage is good, although will have to use a stern anchor to keep the boat facing the swell. He said there are another six yachts in one of them being another Aussie. Another Aussie in a catamaran had left that morning. He said things are expensive a bottle of beer is about $4 US; I see he has his priorities right, checking the beer prices first. He said one of the yachties had purchase $500 worth of cigarettes in the Panama and sold them in Marquesas for $2,000 and the locals paid a cheap price compared to what they pay locally.

We had read about the prices around the pacific islands that is why we stocked up in the Panama, we will only have to buy fresh goods, and I believe you can buy that from locals out of their gardens and markets.

I was also able to speak with Nick on Creighton’s tonight, he said he is close to the island and will be doing the sunrise tour before entering Hiva Oa. Nick could not speak direct with Leigh so I relayed information from Leigh to Nick regarding anchoring of Creightons. As I have mentioned before Creightons is a Maxi Yacht and it has a 4 metre keel, so they need a drop of water underneath to anchor and deep enough water to get to the anchorage.

All is well with everyone so far, I am sure we will all get together for ale or two when we get into Hiva Oa.

17/08/07 – 2210 hours

Today was a perfect day for sailing for somewhere along the Queensland coast with family and friends aboard with a few bottles of the good stuff, cheese, and seafood platter. We had easterly winds of 9-10 knots blue skies blue seas and they were calm. The problem was that we are not there we are here and trying to get some ground covered. Under these conditions we were making good about 3 knots, makes for a very slow day when you are trying to get to some place. So we had to motor sail all day until 2130 hours the wind picked up and I shut the engine down. We are making good 6-8 knots. We need to average 6 knots to get to Hiva Oa by Sunday lunch time, we cannot expect much else with the direct tail winds we are getting and I am only using the Genoa, if I use the mainsail as well it takes the wind from the Genoa and also puts more weight up top and when the waves hit from the side it causes the boat to rock more and shake the wind out of the sails resulting in less speed. So sometimes less sail can make you go faster.

Although we had the calm conditions today it was good in the sense that we could move around and do things which we were unable to do in the rough conditions. We did a fair bit of maintenance work, tightening screws here and there especially where the boom is anchored to the mast. The boat has taken a good pounding over the last few weeks. Did some repairs and maintenance on the engines, repaired some damaged ropes and Nancy had the opportunity to shed the gear and sunbake on the tramps up front which she has not been able to sun bake on the trampolines since first day out of Panama because of the rough seas and weather.

Doing all the work was well timed because it was also shower and washing day. I checked the water levels beforehand and we had about a third of the second tank left, we still have four jerry cans of general water spare and we have nearly 50 US Gallons (180 litres approx), of drinking water.

Leigh is still running the radio sched morning and night to make sure that we are OK. He said on tonight’s sched that Creighton’s anchored around lunchtime today. He said they are having trouble getting money out of the ATM’s with Visa cards. I had read about that before leaving Oz and applied for a MasterCard just in case. However, we have drawn cash out at Galapagos that should see us through. It is handy not getting in first as everyone finds out all the info for you.

Although we are looking forward to a break when we get in we have quite a lot of work to do. First we have to replace the mainsail with the new one and repair the old one just in case. Service the engines, check the propellers out for any remaining fishermen lines, and replace the Genoa furling line that has frayed. The boat is filthy and crusted with salt so that has to be scrubbed inside and out including giving the hull a scrub, then replenish with fuel and water which has to be achieved by jerry cans in the dinghy nearly 1,000 litres of water, 280 litres of fuel and then the fresh provisions.

Now I can see why I have lost a bit of weight, manual labour done daily instead of sitting behind a desk or as a retired person sitting in front of a TV. That is one of the reasons I did this boating thing besides the adventure, stimulation and outright enjoyment. Well talking about weight I might go and make a cup of Milo and grab some biscuits Nancy baked today for the last hour of my watch.
 (The sunsets)

19/08/07 – 0530 hours

At the first glimpse of daylight there is a ghostly grey landfall, we are 28 Nms from the port at Hiva Oa. It is very cloudy and rain is approaching. Nancy had rain storms through her watch. At the moment there is hardly any wind now that we are so close I have started the engine and we will motor in. Now that it is daylight I can start preparing for anchoring and get the boat tidied up a little. I furled the Genoa and started to put the sheet and halyards in their securing areas. Checked out the spare anchor because we need to put a stern anchor out when we get in to face the boat into the swell so we will be more comfortable.
(Early morning view of our destination, Hiva Oa)
 (A rainbow welcomes us, pointing to the place where we are going)
 (Incredible steep Island)
 (A bird checks us out)

(Heading towards the port)

Nancy has just got up and looking at the land it is rugged volcanic land and has a certain beauty about it, may be because we haven’t seen land for a while. There is a massive storm behind us and approaching. As we approach the first waypoint between a small island and the entrance into the bay it pours rain and we have white out. You cannot see land, visibility is about 100 metres. I turned the boat around and went back out to sea, it is impossible to enter port under these conditions when you don’t know the area. As soon as a break comes in the weather I start another approach, there is more rain coming up behind us, so I hoped that we could beat it in to port and we did but we still got drenched whilst anchoring.
 (The white plastic bottle is the location of our stern anchor and the beach behind us)
(Safely anchored Mi Querida over to the right.)

Just after we anchored Leigh and Jenny came alongside in their dinghy, they had been ashore and were going back on board and detoured our way, they had seen us coming in and had bought some flowers for Nancy and said this is for the birthday girl. They invited us over for dinner in the evening, they said they know that it would save us and we could have an early night and get some rest.

We went over for dinner and we had some laughs talked about the different experiences we had and the things that went wrong during the journey. We got back on board and we crashed. We are going into town in the morning to clear in and have a look around.
(Chart showing our and Leigh's track and where our sail got damaged and Creightons sail damaged)

I believe that there is one internet cafe with one computer and it is slow so we can only hope we can get this through and update the blog.

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