Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Island to Gambiers Day 9 - Pitcairn it is

1700/0100 GMT
Pitcairn Island
South Pacific Ocean

We made it to Pitcairn around noon local time. By the way, our boat clocks are now set to GMT -8, which is essentially California time. We are now more or less south of San Francisco!. We initially anchored, with the suggestion of local knowledge, on the SW side of the island in a place islanders call Ginger Valley. While it is called Gudgeon Harbor on the charts, it is more or less sheer cliff and steep sloped hillsides. Nary a valley (or a harbor) in sight as far as I am concerned. All harbors here are exposed. This one was fairly rolly and we soon decided to move as it was no picnic, certainly not what we were looking for. Bounty Bay, the "main" anchorage was suggested , but it too had a large 6' swell coming in. We had passed a third alternative, and soon found it to be just right. Tedside is located on the NW face of the island. It was not protected from today's light NE winds, but these are now less than 10 knots and will be consistent and light for several days. There was only a minimal northerly wind chop coming in, and most importantly, the large SE swell curled around the island, diminished, and came at us from the SW - comfortably right on our stern. Relative heaven it is right now.

The island is beautiful from the sea, showing dramatic brown and yellow cliffs surrounded by lush vegetation.The inhabitants are mostly decendants of mutineers of the Bounty, and Tahitians who accompanied them. After a pleasant evening and a good nights sleep, we plan to explore this famous island on the morrow. We will stay here for only one or two nights and weather and winds will decide our departure time for the Gambiers.

Easter Island to Gambiers Day 9

0800 Report/1600 GMT - we have made an on board time change and vessel is now GMT -8
South Pacific Ocean
23 nm ESE Pitcairn Island
25 11.9S/129 41.4W
Winds (finally) 11 - 14 kn backing nearly to the north
Seas 8 ft SE

Winds were still in the 20 kn range overnight, and have eased hourly over the past 4 hours. The ride is smoother as the seas diminish in turn.

As we approach Pitcairn Island one must remember that the anchorages at Pitcairn are all exposed and conditions have to be right for us to stay, but we can hear a boat named Pursuit IV speaking with Islanders about anchoring details, and I have made preliminry radio contact with the island. It does appear that we will be able to spend one or two nights there, although we will not be certain until we see it for ourselves. None the less, we will provisionally begin to plan on a one or two day visit and will start to look at best departure time to complete the leg to the Gambiers.

It will be interesting to trade stories with Pursuit IV. They left two days ahead of us.

We will send a mid day report once we have a final game plan.

almost there

25 22.7 S, 129 55.3 W about 60 miles from Pitcairn Island of Mutiny and the Bounty fame

So today Captain Bill announces that when we get to Tahiti he plans on rewarding us for this journey with a tshirt saying "I survived the Pacific"...I don't think so and am counting on at least 1 or two of the black pearls that come so high regarded from these parts!!! Seriously tho' this has been truly abhorable day after day of constant pitching and rolling and pretty savage seas. Can't figure out why all the reports have the wind dying and yet tonite it continues to blow 20-25 and we just can't move in a nice fashion. I am thankful that we will reach Pitcairn shortly after daybreak and even tho' I didn't really want to go there will be so happy to stop this boat for a day or two . Hoping that the anchorage will be OK and that we can pull this off. Otherwise we will just do the sail repair as best we can and take off by late afternoon for the Gambiers. On a brighter note we received and email from a boat we had befriended in Easter who are loving the Gambiers. They are a lovely French couple so have the added bonus of no language barriers but I am confident we will do OK as Bill can squeak out enough French to get our needs met and Gram and I will get to be the ones playing charades to get our points across. Anyway they are enjoying calm anchorages, very pleasant people and a modicum of civilization. Music to our ears for sure. Having trouble staying in my seat so will sign out for now and say that we will be back in touch with a hopefully new story and attitude in a day or two. Bon Jour.. Jo

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not so Positive Anymore

Pacific Ocean - 90 miles East of Pitcairn Island 25 25.8S 128 30.6W

So in my last post I tried to be very positive even with the uncomfortable seas, but tonight that is proving most dificult. If those seas were uncomfortable, tonights are basically torture. Guantanamo and George's waterboarding have nothing on trying to sail in this sea state. There are 3 or 4 different wave directions all generally behind us at varying angles, making it impossible to align yourself to all of them. The boat is rolling violently 25 degrees or so each way, nothing will stay anywhere, and the bruises from being thrown around the cabin are adding up. I already cut my finger trying to make salad for dinner and kidney punched myself against the interior climbing up into the pilothouse. The only good news is that it doesn't feel dangerous and we should be in at Pitcairn around 9 tomorrow morning. When I was on ship in college we had a week of rolling 35 degrees each way which translates to a lot of motion when your bed sits 103 ft off the water. You couldn't keep anything anywhere other than on the floor and my project was organizing their movie collection so at least once a day I had to put all the videos that spilled out of a 6 foot high by 4 foot wide cabinet back in order. Still, that was a slow roll, probably 30 second period and it had nothing on the uncomfortableness of this motion. I really don't mean to complain, but everything hurts and there isn't much more to write about, but I will try.

A big shout out to Mr. Corey Bruno for finding us info on mechanics in the Gambiers, Scott Stolnitz for being our Mule this weekend bringing our needed bolts, taps, drills, and hopefully an improved gooseneck fitting that Forespar is rushing through production. 3 cheers for Forespar for being proactive and responsive to our problems and getting their team building the part in one day, and a huge thanks to Bill Siefert whose book always comes in handy, but did particularly this morning as he lists phone number for McMaster Carr which had all the hardware we needed to install this thing.

Tomorrow I will try to repair the Reacher temporarily (the sun shade had bit the dust and the underlying cloth has at least one rip in the leech). Hopefully I can do enough with Sticky-back to get us to Tahiti where a sailmaker can fix the leech panels and put a new suncover on. Then hopefully a good night sleep and a bit of time ashore the following day before we continue our trip towards Gambiers most likely the morning of the 2nd.

Counting the hours till this torture ends.

Easter Island to Gambiers Day 8

0730 Report/1430 GMT
South Pacific Ocean
25 36.2S/126 53.6W
Winds 18 - 22 kn 080 mag
COG 262 mag/SOG 6.7 kn

We have been making good time towards Pitcairn sailing with poled out jib alone, and expect to be there by mid morning tomorrow. Local anchorage conditions will dictate whether we can stay and visit the island for 1 or 2 days. Winds have held up through the night around 20 kn, and backed to the NE overnight, and are now more or less easterly again.

Our gooseneck fitting (boom attachment to the mast) has been a casualty of this passage. The lowest set of fastening screws were noted to be loosening during our pre-departure winter inspection in Newport, and gooseneck attachment was beefed up at that time. We recently noted some loosening again and have been babying it carefully, but bottom of the SS plate pulled out while we were trying to shore it up yesterday, and it is now bent. Fortunately, there was no mainsail up when this happened and any additional damage was minimized. While planning our repair, we have noted that a beefier gooseneck with a larger attachment area to the mast would be better. We have also noted that the existing fastening screws do not seem to be long enough to engage the entire thickness of the tapped holes in the aluminum mast. We hope to be able to do the repair it in the Gambiers, and if anyone knows of a mechanic or machinist there with a (hydraulic) metal press, please let us know! It is a small island, but hopefully someone there does this type of work. We will be able to enlarge and replace the fasteners once the gooseneck is straightened, and will contact Forespar today about the gooseneck.

Last nights menu included Jo's meatloaf with baked potatoes and salad, and she made a flan for desert.

We are 175 nm from Pitcairn and 470 nm from Gambiers.

Day 7 and 1 to go (hopefully)

25 38.7S 126 19.0 W on a very rolly ocean

Not much from me lately because if you don't have something good to say you are not supposed to say anything...and it has not been good. We all agree that this has been the passage from hell. Very uncomfortable seas, too much wind, and a few more breakdowns have left us a bit weak. The conditions seem to have stressed the boat enough that we now have 1 sail in need of repair which we hope to do a temporary fix on in Pitcairn. It's our big reacher which will be useful if/when the winds do die out, especially because we can't use the mainsail until we can fix our bigger problem which is the "gooseneck" that holds the boom to the mast . That had a weak spot we had been babying but yesterday morning it gave way and now we need a machine shop and some parts to be able to fix it. Hope we can find the machine shop in the Gambiers and think we can have the screws and stuff needed for the fix flown in from Tahiti. Otherwise we will have to go straight there and miss the Tuomotos as do not feel we can be in the Tuomotos without a mainsail. The Tuomotos are the archipelago of islands with all the lagoons inside so present some navigational expertise.Perhaps we would be able to go back to at least the Northernmost islands after the "fix" but hoping we can take care of this in the Gambiers. We really do not want to miss them as they have some of the best diving and snorkeling and are supposed to be quite remarkable. It never seems to end these repairs but I have learned that it is ALL boats and not just us. There is alot of wear and tear in these difficult conditions and we are putting summers and summers worth of use on the boat when you think of it.

We have used our friend and local meteorologist Ken McKinley (some of you may remember him from his forecasting days at WQSS radio) for a weather router and he has helped us immensely witth all the fronts that have been out here. We are not making very good time because of the sea state and having to dodge so many lows and fronts but do hope to get to Pitcairn tomorrow morn. We will hope to stay a night or two...just to take a break and fix the reacher but their anchorage is not always tenable so we will have to see when we get there...may just anchor, spend the two hours to do a quick sail repair and leave for the Gambiers which are another 300 miles I think. We should see dying winds and more hopefully some smaller seas. They have been pretty dreadful and we are all quite tired. It is hard to move about the boat and the constant banging and rattling of everything in the boat is exhausting. I am thinking of asking my tour guide for a refund as the Pacific Ocean has been anything but. On a brighter note, once we get to the Gambiers all our long passages should be over and we will be able to have some time to relax, snorkel and dive these places we have heard so much about...ah Polynesia and the South Seas!!!

For those of you who get our emails and are not reading the blog ( I would suggest that you check out Gram's post from a day ago...he has managed to write a way less techier piece than his usual and I found it quite amusing. We each come at this with such different perspectives and voices that the three posts describing the same day are each indicative of the writer. We've gotten some amusing comments from people we do not even know and I wonder how they even happen upon us...the internet is such an amazing think we did not even know of it a decade or two ago.

I was missing my family especially last night as we all usually have Passover there have only been a handful of years that the Strassbergs have not been together for this eating holiday(.Dawn, did your matzoh ball soup hold a candle to Trudy's?) Sierra's birthday is Thurs and Zak follows on the 7th. Would love to be with them for those days (beam me up Scotty might work)but will hope for belated celebration late May/early June when they come meet up with us. To be continued....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Island to Gambiers Day 7

0800 report/1500 GMT
25 58.8/123 50.5
South Pacific Ocean
Winds 11-13 knots 090 mag
COG 285 mag/SOG 7 kn

A very pretty morning dawns today with broken light clouds above us and what I percieve to be the front line behind us. As predicted and at 26 10S, the wind dropped abruptly (around 3AM/1000 GMT) and we have had a steady 11 - 14 knots from the east since then. Wind waves are dropping slowly, but it will take a while for the southerly seas to follow in kind.

The cockpit is once again inviting this morning in contrast to the past few days when simply being outside in the 25 - 30 kn winds seemed fatiquing, and from the cockpit I count only 4 flying fish on deck, hold the squid, hold the squink. We are sailing with only our code 0/reacher (one of Doyles fantastic sails) out and we will pole it out a bit later as the wind backs to the east. We will possibly fly a dual headsail downwind configuration, if the seas permit. The reacher has been a workhorse for us, and will need some TLC in Papeete.

Jo had saved one pre-cooked meal for nights like last night, and we had lemon chicken, quinoa (sp), and salad, plus some video time which was a nice change. Cooking will be easier over the next several days with diminishing winds, but we need to make good time towards Pitcairn because wind will nearly disappear over the next 24 hours. Stopping at Pitcairn is always a bit iffy, as anchorages there almost make Easter seem like a protected haven. Hence, we will need to decide whether either of the eastern (Bounty Bay) or northern (Ted's Side) anchorages will be tennable in south swells with a light NNW wind.

It feels like we are over the hump. We sailed 169 nm 6A - 6A yesterday, and we are 338nm from Pitcairn, and 630 nm from Mangareva Island, Gambiers. We will leave a hatch open tonight for Elijah.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Nobody likes a Whiner

Easter Island to Pitcairn/Gambiers - Day 6
Pacific Ocean - 26 41.3S 122 08.6W

It is very easy for the blog to become a place for us to complain about the 30 knot winds, or the 10' seas, or the rolling that makes your legs ache after constant bracing for 48 hours, but really who are we kidding. While we are down here, having our grand adventure in the tropics (actually we are not in the tropics right now which is the whole reason we keep going through the fronts and lows, but you get the point), you, our readership are toiling away through the remainder of winter and the beginning of mud season, a time of year our non-new england readers will thank their lucky stars they are not familiar with, going about your business, working all day (well, not all day, as the great Christopher Walken said in my favorite SNL skit...."I work, part of the time. There are whole periods of the day where all I do is sleep. It is quite absurd really") and dreaming of travels to the far off reaches of the south pacific or wherever it is you transport yourself to in your minds eye as a distraction from what we all call "everyday life".

This trip of ours is anything but everyday life. Everyday is different and unique. Today I discovered that if I place 4 pillows around my body in a square, one under my head, one under my rear, and one on each side, real close, I can have quite a nice and relaxing nap without rolling all over my bed. I also had the pleasure of having a perfectly clear blue sky, a blue that when we finally get some Internet you will see in the sky above Easter Island, and a blue sky we only see back home on those cold fall afternoons when there is not a bit of moisture in the air. This amazing blue sky is reflected in the most cobalt blue seas one can imagine. So while we bob around on own little island, trying to pass the slow miles between impossibly distant islands, we at least have one of the most amazing things to just stop and look out upon. Endless blue, both above and below with wisps of white (right now quite a bit more than wisps due to the high winds, but again you get the point) from the waves on the sea and the clouds in the sky, and as uncomfortable as I may be, I can't think of a place I would rather be (OK, maybe an idyllic little anchorage, surrounded by coral reefs teeming with colorful fish and white sandy beaches with hula girls beckoning me to join them, but again, I am trying my best to be positive here).

Easter to Gambiers Day 6

0930 report/1630 GMT
South Pacific Ocean
26 59 0S/121 30.3W
Winds avg 26.1 kn 120 mag
SOG 7.0 kn, COG 280 mag
large wind driven waves from SE
14 second also large southerly swell

Same wind, different patch of ocean today. Winds were steady overnight in the 20 kn range, but increased with sunrise and have been 25-30 kn since. We have tried all kinds of sail plans, trying to head as DDW (dead down wind) as possible as the swells are best handled this way. Right now, we are sailing with jib only, no mainsail.

As we continue to move towards 26N we are rolling some, but not violently - there is a big difference between 20 - 25 and 30+ knots. We can also keep up some reasonable speed at 25 knots, whereas speeds are slowed to 6 kn or less for comfort above 30 kn. Which brings me back to the "you know you have been out there for a while" in when you've learned how and when to slow yourself down.

Wind aside, today is shaping up to be a nice day with a sunny morning. There is a rim of light gray clouds to the west, curling around to the north and fading to the east. I suspect that this is the front producung all our wind, and we look forward to busting through it to the lighter winds on the other side. We are 18 hours away from 26S/123 30W on this course and should see some easing around that time.

We may be rolling, but we are not starving. Jo prepared shrimp enchiladas served with corn and beans last night, with guacamole and chips appetizer (tortilla chips are scarce and worth their weight in gold at this point!), green salad, and warm peach cobbler for desert. Menus like that keep the spirits up.

Oddly enough, only one flying fish in the cockpit last night. We did 156 nm 6A - 6A yesterday, and 134 nm the day before.

765 nm to go, although weather and a few days without wind early next week might make a stop at Pitcairn Island strategically appropriate. Pitcairn is 470 nm away - about 72 hours - but who's counting.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter Island to Gambiers Day 5

0730 report/1430 GMT
South Pacific Ocean
27 53.3S/118 27.7W
Wind 12 kn and backing to the east, swell 6-8 feet south.
COG 264 mag at 6.7 kn

We sailed the zephyrs (really 7-10 knots) all day yesterday, and averaged a not too stellar 4.4 kn until winds dropped at 5 PM and we motor sailed a while with jib, then only centerline main after 10 PM. Light winds and motoring made for a quiet and easy night that was good for sleeping. everyone will be well rested today. It is overcast and drizzling this morning, and winds are supposed to increase as the day goes on - we shoud be able to turn off the engine and do some nice sailing. We could see up to 20 kn wind through the night hours, but nothing more (after the other night I can hear Jo saying "well, if it's only 20 kn, that's ok). We are setting ourselves up with options to have the best angle on wind and seas, and will sail a course of comfort, easy to do when you have 1000 miles of sea room.

Here is a quickie take at home quiz for cruisers from the "you've been out there for a while department".

You've been out there for a while when:
(A) you are savoring that last head of iceberg lettuce
(B) you measure diesel consumption by the jerry jug
(C) you find yourself trading for 2 year old magazines
(D) all of the above

You are on the honor system and may take the quiz at home or aboard.

The easy evening last night allowed for dining al fresco in the cockpit, with a menu of mussel pesto pasta and (iceberg of course) green salad with home made vinagrette. It was quiet enough to watch a video with chocolate squares for desert. It's too wet for a flying fish report right now. All is well. 942 miles to go.

a whole lot better

27 59.5 S 117 43.4 W midnight watch

Things calmed down here and to be honest probably got too calm as we are now motoring with the wind at 4-5 knots which means sails get you nowhere and bobbing around in the middle of the ocean is not really a viable option. Yesterday we clocked a new low for miles made of 128 miles. When we went from Galapagos to Easter we were averaging more like 200 mi/day so at this rate this shorter leg will likely take longer. Plus because of wind and waves and trying to stay out of some dicey weather we have added quite a few miles to the 1400 rhumbline mileage from Easter to Gambiers(rhumbline being most direct route from point A to point B but rarely how a sailboat travels). Weather forecasts that the winds will pick up to a sailable speed by daybreak. Hope so as we will sure have to pay a high price for fuel replacement if/when we can get some. We are likely to see some big seas later in the weekend or early next week as there is a new low south of here but I think we have set ourselves up far enough north to not repeat conditions like what we saw at the beginning of this trip. One neat thing we have going this trip is that we are doing this in tandem with two other boats and so have radio (single side band) contact with them twice a day to compare conditions and weather forecasts. Definitely makes us not feel so alone out here and of course it will be great to rendevous once we all arrive in the Gambiers.

It is quite a beautiful night out here tonight. The moon is quite bright and finally the stars are out. It is amazing how light it is in the middle of the night when such is the case and for me alot nicer watch as I don't feel so freaked by the black of night. Not that there is anything to see. We have seen nothing nothing and more nothing for 4 days now and will most likely see nothing until we reach land still 1000+ miles off. We have not yet decided whether we will stop at Pitcairn or pass it by and head straight for the Gambiers. It is not high on my list and my interest in it as a stop was squashed when I heard about the recent discoveries of incest and sexual exploitation of the young women there that has gone on for eons with eyes averted from the community itself. There was an expose and trials finally so at least one can hope that things may change there.

We have heard snipets of news from friends' emails that both the senate and the house have passed some sort of health care reform(one friend more aptly called it health insurance reform). Would love to hear more if anyone has the time to enlighten us. We have mostly been OK with not having a clue what is going on in the world but this is one headline we would love to know more about as it may have a pretty direct impact on Bill and his medical future. Hoping that the politics and craziness like death threats over abortion concerns don't unravel what should be a healthy plan to provide better access for more people in this great country of ours. I wonder what the rest of the world thinks about us and it when you get right down to it.

So, I think both Easter and Passover are next week. Needless to say we will not be able to have a Passover Seder. I have no matzohs or any hope of getting them out here (tho Bill did try to bake bread awhile back and it was close to unleavened). We will miss the family gathering and most definitely Trudy's(Bill's mom) to die for matzo ball soup. Wishing all of you a happy whichever and more importantly the beginnings of spring that each of those holidays heralds in. For us in the southern hemisphere we are just beginning fall but that is in a climate that seems to have eternal summer. That is a wonderful thing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

0900 Report/1600 GMT
South Pacific Ocean
28 41.1S/116 26.2W
Sailing main and jib COG 245 mag/SOG 5.5 kn - just jibed to COG 300/Sog 4.7 kn - slow going in light winds

Winds were light overnight, and engine was even turned on for a few hours 1100 GMT. We are now sailing in light and diminishing easterly winds 8 - 14 knots. Route planning is bringing us north towards 26S/125W, north of a front that will develop over the weekend, as we wish to avoid a repeat of Wednesday nights antics. Unfortunately (now isn't that ironic), winds are quite light and we will need to consider motoring today. Diesel will not be easy to replace over the next 6 -8 weeks, but we have enough.

We had roast turkey breast with carrots and a large green salad (Jo), topped off by home made (Gram) focaccia for dinner last night, a feast that was emjoyed by all. Meals take on much significance at this point and Jo always has something up her sleeve, such as warm poppy seed muffins with cream cheese for breakfast today.

Not too many fish flying last night...not enough wind. We'll see what the day brings.

164 nm 7A - 7A yesterday. 1058 nm to go.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let me out of here

29 31.1 S 114 44.4 W somewhere between Easter Island and the Gambiers in the not Pacific Ocean...

So, the guys have written about how horrid the conditions were yesterday so I will not redo the nightmare...just to say I have been basically terrified and wishing I could call for a pick up at 29th and 114th(that is our lat/long position). Today is a bit better but we are all physically exhausted from the energy it takes to hold oneself upright. And you all thought we were having fun!!!The pot of gold on the other side had better be pretty good is all I can say. The sun just came out which at least for me helps because I can get some fresh air and pretend it is a beautiful day out and we are just out for a relaxing sail...The boat is a bit of a wreck. The papayas in the fruit hammock got totally smushed and things have rolled all over the place in the cupboards so when you open them it's food ,food everywhere. I am definitely feeling challenged by this particular passage and am very glad it will be our last long one as once we are in the Gambiers things start being alot closer together. Definitely looking forward to the lagoons and beaches that await us as well as a whole new language to feel inept at. We were just getting our act together in Spanish conversation after 5 months of trying to learn it and now we will be at square 0 with French. Emma needs to learn to count to 10 in French now that I just heard she can do the same in Spanish...pretty good for a 2 1/2 year old says the proud grammy. They are planning to visit us in Tahiti(actually we will go to Moorea) in late May/early June and of course none of us can wait. Hoping Zak will join them as well for a real family vacation!!! The author of the Frommer's South Pacific guide calls it the most beautiful island in the world so I do believe we will have reason to celebrate...Hope my next update will be a bit more upbeat. Pray for easing conditions for us and know that you don't wish you were here..

Easter Island to Gambiers day 3

0700 Report (0000 GMT)
South Pacific Ocean
29 16.2S/113 45.2W

NW winds peristed yesterday through the noon hour. At noon we sailed between 2 small squalls 25 miles apart connected by a line of clouds between them. Just like the looking glass, when we came out the other side, we found the SE winds we were looking for on the other side of the front.. Well, here is where it got interesting because just like wonderland the SE wind grew, and Grew, and GREW!...until we were sailing with winds steady at 30 knots plus (averaging over 30 kn individual hour after hour) with gusts noted as high as 40 knots. This is what we sailors call too much of a good thing. Jo, who remains a seer, suggested we shorten sail even before our staedy 30's, and we found ourselves sailing with a triple reefed mainsail (about the size of a handkerchief), and staysail (about the size of a postage stamp). We also ran off downwind to lessen our apparent wind and this sail combo did pretty well in terms of balancing wind speed as we slowed to a reasnably comfortable 7 knots ...but then there were the swells. I still long for the tall but gently sloped long period swells this ocean is known for, but I seem to drag atlantic condiitons any where I go. There was a large southerly primary swell 10 - 12 feet, but quite square with steep sides, and these were joined by a wind driven SE swell and let's just say that things have been rather kinetic, although I think that Jo might have a more colorfull description for these conditions. These devilish swells actually seem to work in pairs as one biggie will slide us quickly down his backside causing our bow to slide faster, thus spinning us just enough to be walloped abeam to by his successor. Quite nasty, really.

Well dear reader, I think you can tell we are having fun yet!

Conditions this morning have improved somewhat, as we are seeing winds of only 20 - 25 knots, a comparitive zephyr. Swells remain however. The confounding thing is that the GRIB weather files we download called for less than 10 knots through the night, and 15 knots max yesterday, seemingly on a different ocean in a different planet. GRIBs contain incredible amounts of weather data and are so popular now that many people rely on them as the end all source and the only thing you need for weather, but in the end they are just computer models forecasting conditions in your neighborhood. They lack the interpretation of human intelligence and obviously can be very wrong. At times like these, one wants a meteorolgist and weather guru to opine. Ken, I know you are out there. Are you listening? Locus Weather will give us a sense of what to expect over the next 24 hrs and a why the GRIBS might be so wrong. Ken's routing advice will also take into account the seas and will try to avoid having them on our beam. Finally, we need to set ourselves up to head NW from 29 -30S in a few days, near 118W.

We did manage a memorable dinner last night as Gram offered to rub and roast a filet of beef, served with baked potatoes and salad. It was wonderfully tasty, even though presentation was impeded by the bowls it was served in. Flying fish report can be "one in the cabin". That's right, in the cabin. We had a hatch open yesterday (before noon, of course) and a fish flew in right onto the galley counter whilst Jo was fixing lunch. I must say that at first I did not believe her, but I think that we got it back in the water quickly enough to survive the visit.

Winds continue to ease, and I am seeing numbers in the teens still from the east, 104 deg. mag. Time soon to shake out a reef. We made162 nm 6AM - 6AM. 1208 nm to go.

Litterally hanging on by my toes

Pacific Ocean - Easter to Gambiers, day 3
29 12.9S 113 27.8W

Around noon yesterday we passed by two small squalls and suddenly the wind was coming from the SouthEast. It was quite pleasant at 12-15 kts on the aft quarter, but it quickly built to 25-30 with gusts as high as 40kts, and the seas became very steep and quite confused. Since then we have been rocking and rolling with the occasional wave breaking across the deck, and you literally have to use every part of your body to brace yourself in the bigger legs are killing me from bracing all afternoon, and evening watch.

The wind has come down slightly to 22-25 with gusts to maybe 32kts, but the seas are still quite confused and in some ways it is even worse as we are rolling more without as much power in the little handkerchiefs we have up for sails....just a tripple reefed main and staysail. Still, we are making decent time, averaging about 7 kts in the right direction. Hopefully these conditions will subside and we can finally get some of that Peaceful Pacific sailing we heard so much about.

This of course didn't keep me from cooking a wonderful dinner of roast beef tenderloin, with a garlic-rosemary rub and baked potatoes as well as making bread dough to make fococia tomorrow. Dinner was super tasty (easy with a nice piece of meat) and for desert we had moms chocholate chip, mm, good! Too rolly to write much more for now.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Easter Island to gambiers Day 2

South Pacific Ocean 0900 report
29 04.2S, 111 02.4W
148 nm SW of Easter Island
Wind 4 - 8 knots South
Seas 6 ft from WSW

Last night encompassed several little rain squalls, but became reasonably comfortable as winds eased towards morning light. This was expected, but now we must motor south where we (hope) expect to find a SE breeze near 30S as a front pases over us. There is a 50% overcast this AM, but no rain.

The flying fish count was 5 on deck this morning, without squid or sqink. Jo prepared a wonderful roast chicken dinner last night, with mashed potatoes and a huge green salad, and home made chocolate chip cookies for desert. It takes a few days to get into the offshore routine, so no movie last night.

Everything out here is great, except that we are suffering from lack-a -wind. Hopefully this will resolve itsel by late afternoon.

Only 1335 nm to go.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On the Seas Again

Day 1 Easter Island to Mangareva, Gambiers
South Pacific Ocean
27 40,4S, 109 56.9W
Wind 15-20 kn WNW
Seas 6 foot primary Westerly swell
COG 200 mag, SOG 7.9 Kn

...and headed to Mangareve Island in the Gambiers. It was sad to leave Easter Island, but it was also time to go. We had already delayed our planned weekend departure due to adverse winds along the route, and were anticipating an enforced 6-8 day delay until conditions improved. Fortunately, we found a good departure window for today and we were ready to go when the Chilean Armada (Navy) closed all harbors on Easter as Easter Island was facing strong northerly winds of 20 to 25 knots and anticipating a large SW swell. This combo would make any harbor on the island untennable and all boats were asked to leave.

We had left the main harbor of Hanga Roa 2 days ago as a large (6 foot) NE swell made that harbor uncomfortable/untennable and wenrt around to the east side of the island to a beautiful harbor named Hanga Hotuiti. This is the home of the Ahu Tongariki with 15 restored Moai on the shore. We had visited by land, and now by sea, and both visits will be unforgattable. Our 2 nights there were rolly as the protection it provides does not equal it's exquisite scenery...but, that is the nature of Easter Island - you have to work to get to enjoy it.

We are working with meteorologist Ken Mckinley ( who is assisting us with weather routing, and our sail plan is to head SW through a frontal passage towards 30S 113W. As we approach 30S tomorrow afternoon, our NW to W winds should ease and go to the SE and at that point we shall turn west towards the Gambiers. We have met wonderful people along the way, and we have friends waiting for us at Rikitea, Mangareva Island, and friends immediately behind us who also left today.

54 miles under our belt, and about 1450 to go.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Easter Island, part 2

Easter Island , Pacific Ocean

After running around like chickens with our heads cut off yesterday reprovisioning, getting the last diesel,and checking out a to try for a late afternoon departure rather than leaving on Sat (today) because of some weather routing we had received we decided to bail anyway and weather(no pun intended) this passing front here. They say that the most dangerous thing one can have on a boat is a schedule and tho' this would not have been a dangerous time to leave it would have likely been very uncomfortable for 36-48 hrs. and then we would have had to motorsail for the next 3-4 days. At this point fuel will be very hard to replace so 5-6 days of engine time seemed very silly when we could just honker down here and wait it out. Hopefully it will not get too nasty here tho' we are likely to be stuck on the boat as the dinghy ride in can be ridiculously hairy when it is windy and the waves are crashing. We have had a few wet and wild trips in and I am beholden to being driven in by one of the guys as I would never try it on my own. Two of the ladies on neighboring boats went in yesterday and got flipped over on their way back out...they do not drive like Gram so were not quite aggressive enough to get over the big swells with enough speed. They are fine but I think it was pretty scary. The Chilean Armada came right out and helped them and took the engine to be flushed out and retuned so at least they did not lose their engine...just a bunch of the food they had bought and sunglassses... The Armada here is quite impressive... they are very protective, friendly and definitely on top of their game. We have been quite impressed.

We may have to move to another harbor tomorrow morning if the winds get as strong as predicted but at this point we are comfortable so will see what the morning brings. There is a low south of us causing these winds and waves but it will likely pass on or by Mon. Hope once it does we will be able to go back to town and send out the pics that we never had the chance to download on Fri. There are some great ones that will really show everyone why we have been so entranced by this place. It is indeed very beautiful and so unpolluted and untouched by the human forces of industry, etc. We most likely will leave middle to end of next week once we get more favorable winds and from there our most likely next stop will be the beginning of French Polynesia. Time to start those French lessons and prepare to pay exhorbitant prices for everything...reason for being so stocked up now. We are like our own private bomb shelter of the 60's with food to last 5 months. It's stored everywhere in this boat and only with a detailed list can we find what we are looking for. Imagine at home your food stores in every room, in most every c loset, and even under your floor boards...that's us!!!

Well, time to make dinner...we want to eat early so we can watch a couple of episodes of "24"... to which we are totally addicted. Action packed, at times too violent but a real cliff hanger evey episode as we watch Jack Bauer, secret agent for terrorist control do his thing. Hard to imagine that I have gotten so into this...guess Bill and Gram's testasterone must be wearing off on me. For all those in Maine, enjoy these beautiful days ...hope that winter is over for real. We seem to have missed a kind of easy one...oh well. More to follow...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ready, Set, STOP!

Hanga Roa, Easter Island, Chile

We are using Ken McKinley (Locus Weather) for weather routing for our next leg to the Gambiers as we are far enouth south that the weather gets a little tricky. We asked for a departure for Saturday +/- a day and he came back with a possible window Friday afternoon. This meant we had a lot to do...install new bilge pump in Engine Room, get fuel, lots of food, put away awnings, dingy engine, and dingy in one day. We got started quite early this morning, and at 4 when we got his final forecast we would have been ready at 7 as planned, but the forecast wasn´t all that good and we decided to hang here till mid to end of next week. In the mean time, it is going to get quite windy and the swells are already quite strong, causing our friends to flip their dingy getting out of the harbor this morning. They were all ok, but we were picking onions and other things out of the bay all day, and Sheri lost her wallet.

With patience it is ok, and our big engine helps, though we may not be able to come ashore for a few days, so I came in today for my last internet fix for a while. We will try to post some pics when we get back ashore in a few days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Anakena Anchorage, Easter Island, Chile..."middle of nowhere"

On the 31st anniversary of what will surely be recognized in the future as the "Greatest Day in the History of the World" we find ourselves alone in what has to be one of the most beautiful anchorages in the world. There is an idyllic little beach on our stbd side with a dramatic backdrop of Moai (generally pronounced Mo-Ah, but probably most correctly Mo-Ah-ee) that tends to get reasonably busy from 2-5 in the afternoon. On our stern is a mottled hill of green and straw covered land with wild horses roaming free. On our bow to the north is a point of land, with bluff cliffs, around which I found an amazing little dive spot.

Situated just to the west of Ovahu beach and just around the corner from Anakena is a small cove in the center of which is a small rocky island. The cove offered protection and a nice 10' spot to anchor the dingy and don our gear. It was then just a 100'-150' swim (through decent surge, but nothing heroic) to about 40' of water that immediately became calm and welcoming. With its cobalt blue color and 100+ foot visibility the slope drops down to about 80' before turning to sand and in that distance from 40' depths down to 80' stand the most amazing coral structures we have ever seen. Looking like Dr. Seuss drip castles, the coral has formed into 10 to 15 foot pinnacles of every color through which swim a decent number (for Easter Island anyway) of mostly colorful fish, some of which we had never seen before. We finished our dive by circumnavigating the little rock island, which turned out to be a waste as the south side was fairly boring so our suggestion to friends would be for just a simple out and back through the main channel, heading due north down to 70ish feet, roaming around a bit and then returning south through the same channel.

In the afternoon mom and I went to the beach to enjoy a bit of sun and relaxation. Tonight we have lasagna and then peach cobbler for desert while we continue to watch season 2 of "24" which we have all become a bit engrossed with. A wonder ful birthday overall though I do miss my family and friends back home.

Anakena anchorage, Easter Island

Hello all...Hard to believe that we have been on Easter Island for 10 days and have not found the time to send along some impressions and details. It is a very unprotected thus rolly anchorage so we have had a hard time doing things on the boat down below besides eating and sleeping(and the sleeping has for me been very poor for the above reason). I do not get seasick but all the noises from the movement keep me awake! Monday we came over to one of the other anchorages that is OK in certain conditions and wind (the current wind direction making it OK) It is an absolutely gorgeous beach and with two anchors keeping us headed into the swell we are actually pretty comfortable. Yesterday was the day I had thought we would have many more of on this trip..sitting under palm trees on a beautiful beach, reading and cavorting in the waves. The reality is that days like that are few and far between so far as there seem to be endless maintenance and things to do that preclude having a whole day to just hang.

We have had some other great days here tho' so don't get me wrong. We did a tour with a group that was just so so but also rented a car with another couple and toured the entire island on our own. Went to the big crater which was gorgeous. Saw all the moai sites and were awed to consider how they were made and transported to the places they now are. There are all these theories about their significance and history but not alot of written data...alot of conjecture on cults and different parts of the culture and where the the original peoples of this island came from . Pretty fascinating and great to feel that at this point in time the Rapa Nui (original heritage) is held all important . The current population seems to be a mix of Rapa Nui, Chilean, Polynesian, and French. They speak Spanish here but much English too. 95% of the economy is based on tourism so it is clean and inviting and people have been really friendly. It does not feel third world (very clean bathrooms, food and water perfectly OK). I even got to have the experience of going to a dentist and it was not scary...had a broken tooth that he did a temporary restoration of to get me by till Tahiti or home.

One thing we have noted is just how different and beautiful the light is here.Have not figured out if it is the lack of humidity or angle of the sun or the fact that there is zero polution in the air way out here.( I think we are over 2000 miles from any mainland) It truly is a photographer's dreamland. We have taken tons of pics and hope to be able to post some later this week when we head back over to Hanga Roa(the main anchorage/town on the other side of the island) where we can get to an internet cafe. Yesterday Bill and I went for a run and on our trail came across wild horses and cattle and it all just seemed so surreal on these grassy hills with an azul blue sky and turquoise ocean over the cliffs. We went on a dive and had the best visibility by far that we have ever experienced. It was at least 100 ft of clarity and tho' the fish life was not superb the coral and overall dive itself was phenomenal. The dive shop is run by a couple of French guys, the father apparently used to dive with Cousteau.

We think we will be here till the weekend and then plan on departing for the Gambiers with a possible stop on Pitcairn. That will be either about 1100 miles or if all the way to the Gambiers more like 1400 so a bit shorter than the 2000+ to get here but still a long passage. So, expect lots more emails and posts as we tend to be much better offshore at that than on. Send us some news as we think of all of you often and wonder what is going on in the real world. No idea about politics or economic forecasts or realities is what we have out here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tsunami Warning

6 miles West of Easter Island

At about 11:00 this morning the Armada informed us of a second quake in Chile and a tsunami warning for approximately 15:00 (3:00 pm) for Easter Island, so at about 1:00 we pulled anchor and headed west to make sure we were in deep water in case there was in fact a significant wave. 3:00 has come and gone with no word yet, but we have tacked over and are headed back to shore. We excpect to get the all clear within the hour, and don't expect much as there is nothing on the chilean news about the quake or any tsunami's (just big coverage of their congress which must be being seated today or something). The one other boat left in the harbour with us (Plan B, a 160' Navy Grey expedition yacht) is 6 miles behind us, on their way in as well. Probably all an unnecessary precaution, but better to be out in 1000' than in 50' only 300 yards from shore where we were anchored so just in case anyone had heard about the tsunami warning and were worried, we are safe and sound and won't
head back into the harbor till we get the all clear from the Navy.

Easter Island - first report

Described as one of the most (often the most) remote inhabited island in the world, Easter Island does not have a natural, well protected harbor. It tends to be a destination of those who like to go a bit off the beaten path, and until recently, boats were requested to always have a person on board at all times - clearly difficult with small crews. Most recently and likely with the advent of better weather forecasting, all ashore is allowed unless conditions are worrisome.

There are 3 main anchorages around the island, east, north, and west and boats often have to move between them depending upon conditions. The southern summer is the best time to be here (it is essentially early September here, perhaps similar to mid atlantic USA) and weather is delightful with moderate humidity, temp in the mid 70's, and breezy. Very comfortable. None the less, the wind has been from the NE and even though moderate, none of the harbors are sheltered from this direction. It gets quite rolly here when the swells are on the beamyou don't like it, but I guess you look at it as part of the price of admission. Today, with 2 days of lighter winds and winds beginning to shift back to the east, seas may be down. We hope the wind will soon swing to the SE, as we can then move to Anekena, a picturesque northerly anchorage.

The island itself is beautiful with several 1500 foot volcanic hills, green lowlands, and a mix of tropical palms, deciduous and eucalyptus trees, and many flowereing Idontknowa shrubs and plants. We are anchored off the main town of Hanga Roa and people and officials have been friendly and helpful, except one occasion when we felt taken advantage of needing to hire a truck/taxi to bring jerry jugs to the gas station. The busiest part of the tourist season (I think tourism is a major portion of the economy) has just ended but the island is still bustling. Even so, we understand that rooming houses/hotels remain unusually empty as the airline has yet to regroup and get its reservation system reorganized post earthquake shutdown.

The island does not appear to be poor. It does not seem to be quite as well off as the Galapagos where dollars seemed to flow endlessly out of a tourists pocket, but streets are nicely paved, town is well kept, clean, and it seems far better off than areas we have visited in mainland Central/South America (although we have not been to mainland Chile). Hanga Roa is very cute - sort of Cutty Hunk meets Vineyard Haven. Filled with small tiendas and hotels, restaurants, artisan shops, auto rental and many surf shops, the populace seems slightly offbeat and there is a bit of a funky air around town. There is also noticeable French speaking population and an interesting mixture of Spanish Chile meets French Polynesia, (Easter island aka Rapa Nui is the SE corner of Polynesia) but the "Rapa Nui" culture must remain paramount.

We have met up with a couple who flew here from Tahiti where they wintered on their boat, and our other friends who are sailing should arrive in less than a week. We are working on a few major items and managed - after 2 full days of searching - to find a replacement hydraulic hose for the autopilot system - via the island LAN Airline mechanic who fabricated one for us!. We have bunkered (fueled up) and are learning about provisioning possibilities We have not yet gone off exploring but went diving yesterday in some of the clearest water anywhere. Visibility was 100 feet! A few more chores today and we are touring (with our friends from s/v Beach House in Tahiti) tomorrow and Saturday we rent a car. More soon as the fun starts.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Photos 3

Here (and below) are some photos from our passage. Click on the image to see a bigger version if you want.Surf curls from our anchorage
Western coast of Easter Island
Land Ho!!!!1

Galapagos to Easter Photos 2

Another Flying Fish Meets His Demise

Scattered squalls kept us on our toes

Sunset on the Pacific

Sunrise against the sails

Galapagos to Easter Photos 1

Gram the Turtle at the Isabella Galapagaria

Dolly & Grammy J Enjoying the Sun

Dolly in Harness (Safety First) Hanging Out In The Breeze

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Safe and Sound at Easter Island

Easter Island - Chile - 27 08.8S 109 26.2W

I am sure we will write lots more and hopefully be able to upload some photos as well, but just a quick heads up to say that we arrived today at 1:00 pm local time (also US Eastern time), safe and sound and were ashore, streaching our legs on this beautiful island by 4:00. The island is beautiful, with very friendly people though the harbor is a bit rolly right now and the ride in and out on the dingy is a bit exciting through the surf zone, but we have finally reached Polynesia and are very excited to be here! More soon!

Galapagos to Easter Island day 12

Pacific Ocean
26 42.3S, 109 11.5W
0700 report

Sky is completely overcast this morning. We motorsailed all night, essentially with wind on bow, and made 129 nm 6A - 6A. Also I did not note our exceedingly light air sailing total of 137 nm yesterday, on day 11.

We are 29 miles from Easter and Jo literally just cried "land Ho"!

We should be at the anchorage noon, or so, and look forward to exploring terra firma.
Jo has a big grin on her face. So do I. 1900 miles is a long way.

Galapagos to Easter Island - Day 12 - Almost There

60 miles north of Easter Island - 26 13.3S 109 02.4W

"Luke, you switched off your targeting computer."

You can almost sense the nearness of land. After 11 days at sea and exactly 2000 miles as of 3:00 this morning we are all quite ready to arrive, and we are a fast boat. Soggy Paws was still around 8 north as of last night, only making 140 miles a day or something as they go through the same washing machine we dealt with at the beginning of our trip. When we designed Visions speed was one of our primary goals, and she has done that, averaging about 185 miles per day or about 7.7 kts. This includes quite a bit of time drifting in 5 to 8 knots of breeze and a very light hand on the throttle when motoring to minimize fuel consumption.

I went as far as recomputing what we call our "MotorSail - Fuel Priority" polars. These are the performance estimates that we feed into expedition when we intend to motor sail, but want to burn as little fuel as is practical. Previously we assumed we would just make sure we were going 7 knots or so, but this time I tried to hold the power usage to just 1200 rpm where we burn about 1.8 gal/hr. This means as the wind picks up, when motoring upwind, we don't go that fast, but it is quite miserly with fuel. At that sort of power rating, in moderate 6-8 knots of wind, we could motor due upwind at 6+ knots for over 1500 miles, quite impressive for a sailboat. Now if we knock that down to just 1000 rpm we would slow to around 5 knots, but would extend our range to about 1700nm. Much slower than that and the engine is a bit rough.

I have the radar going tonight to look out for the scattered small squalls that tend to bring wind, and keep going out to 48 mile range to try to get the first peak at a radar return from shore. Nothing yet, but in another hour or so it should come into view....very exciting.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 11

Pacific Ocean
24 36.6S, 108 42.9W
very far SW of the Galapagos
0700 report

Stars put on a show last night. The big players were there, but one really notices the bits and parts out here - the stars that are not named in a popular constellation. They take over in a way, nearly overwhelming just by their by their numbers, especialy before moonrise. I had a double orb watch, the moon last night and sunrise this AM.

We were faced with a classic tactical cruising decision yesterday as we began calculating pros and cons of pushing a bit and arriving Easter Island late Friday afternoon, or whether to motor easily and arrive daybreak Saturday. Because of the lesser engine time, the push penalty was not as not as great as we imagined it would be, but we were still burning our precious diesel, to be refilled only by dinghy and jerry jug. The best decision came clear by mid afternoon as some wind piped up, albeit directed like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. After completing the chores of anchor retreival and chafe patching, we elected to sail in the wind avaialble and minimize engine time as much as posible. The fact that the crew was content to spend another night and days out here is indicative of developing a voyaging mindset - you are out here so long, it's not so bad, and another day and night doesn't matter. It's a psychological graduation from the concept of delivering the boat from place to place, to cruising.

We carried a light 10 knot SE wind all night, moving a whopping 4 - 5 knots close reaching mostly in the direction of Easter Island. As I write, the wind is definitely easing with the sun's incipient appearance , and we shall see what transpires through the day. Swells have slowly increased through the night, and will increase more over the next 24 hours. They are spaced with a 7 second period, and are not uncomfortable, but do challenge the sails ability to hold the wind.

Jo prepared a home made baked mac and cheese for dinner last night. She had been thinking of a good friend of ours, a mac and cheese aficionado, who would order it over any dish at Miranda. It was fantastic and he is clearly here in sprit. Aloha! After the season 1 finale of 24, we all slept pretty well (in turns) through the gentle conditions.

Wind is now down to 5 -6 knots and we are moving 2.6 - 3.0 knots. 157 nm miles to go. I don't want to do the math!

Galapagos to Easter Day 11

24 21.8S 108-32.3W - 175 miles North of Easter Island

Today was a very productive day. Around 4:00 yesterday morning the wind had died down to just 3-4 knots and I couldn't take the slatting of the sails any longer, so I started up the iron genny and made hay towards Easter. The wind remained light through the day, so we motored, first at about 6.5 kts burning just 1.5 gal/hr. Around 11:00 Bill wanted to see what it would take to get in by Friday evening. We would need to average 8.67 kts which with just 3 kts of wind on the beam meant 1600 RPM and 3.0 gal/hr. We did this for a while, but when the wind increased to 6kts on the bow we had to up the rpm and were burning 3.5 gal/hr and still not quite making our speed. Still, we were doing pretty well, the seas were calm, and we took the oportunity to get some chores done. The biggest one was getting an anchor out of the focs'l and onto the bow so we could anchor when we got there. This entailed taking the following out from on top of the anchor: two awnings, one outboard propeller, one fortress anchor, five 1" docklines, one electrical reel, one garden hose, one scuba tank, two bikes, one set foreguy/afterguy, and then we had to lift the outboard 2" to clear the anchor. Then we could lift the anchor on a halyard and put it on the bow. When we had done this in the Bahamas on our way to Cartagena we were in some serious seas and I severely strained my back. Luckily this time it was much calmer and all went well. We then had top put all that stuff back in the focs'l. Next we decided to put the chafe patches on the main where it hits our SatCom domes when sailing downwind. This has been on our lists for months, but isn't that easy to do on anchor as you have to hoist the mainsail. We did a very neat job with 7 rows of 3" sail repair tape on each side. The tape needs a few weeks to get dirty so it doesn't stand out quite so much (kind of like new sneakers). While doing that we refined our reef location marking system using blue draft-stripe tape (narrow sticky back sailcloth) so Bill can see it better from the halyard winch. Out "system" entails a stripe on the back of the mast that aligns with short stripes at the luff of the main set to the right height so the batten sits right at 6:00 on the boom mandrel. If you aren't familiar with boom furling this probably makes zero sense, but the idea is that the sail rolls around a mandrel and you can reef at any batten by placing he batten at the bottom of the roll. Our markers allow us to set this at the right point without having to go forward to look. It came out very neat.

Around 4:00 the wind was blowing 12 kts from the west and we decided to shut off the motor and just get in mid afternoon on Saturday instead of pushing really hard and just barely making it in before it got too dark on Friday. The wind then got really squirly, and our track on the computer looks like that of a Newport Salve (local college) girl on a Friday night around 2am. Eventually we settled down with the Jib and Main going 4 to 6 kts close hauled in anywhere from 10 to 14 kts of wind from the southeast. We aren't quite making our mark off easter (pointed further west), but are still making 3-4 kts VMC (Velocity Made on Course) so it is worthwhile and we excpect the wind direction to change a few more times before we get in.

We are down to our last few nights at sea. The stars have been amazing as we have had pretty clear nights lately. Usually some squalls around dinner time that make things intersting, but then the clouds clear out and you are left with a million stars before the moon rises a few hours later. My favorite is the Southern Cross as it is new and fresh (being from the northern hemisphere and all). Plus it is easy to find and quite bright. It starts the evening sideways, but by early morning is in its proper cross type orientation. Well, we are slowed down a bit, so I need to go check on sails. As Herb Hilgenburg (East Coast weather forecaster) used to say..."Have a Good Watch."

The wind is a puzzlement

24 20S 108 30W Day 11

The wind is such a puzzlement to me...I am alone on watch and trying to figure out how the boat can be going 7 k when my wind meter is reading 1.6 or less( and that is apparent...true wind is even lighter!). Don't really want to wake one of the boys but this is too weird. OK...figured that one out...somehow in the dark I had pushed the wrong button and was reading vmg(velocity made good) So actually the wind was 10 K which is more like it for how we were sailing, Silly me!! Today was beautiful again...very calm like almost lake like seas and nary a cloud in the sky...needless to say I am in sun heaven and reading up a storm. The days actually go by surprisingly quickly and now that we are not so uncomfortable I really don't even mind being out here just kind of slatting along. In 24 hrs we have gone from too much wind to not enough ( and from over 200 miles/day to 150)but until we just can't make the boat move have decided to try to keep sailing and just get to Easter
on Sat instead of Fri but not burn all that extra fuel which we started to do for a few hours this afternoon. It's not so much about the cost but the logistics of having to jerry jug whatever fuel we will need to replace and that is a painstaking process! Besides there will be so many other things to do on Easter that who wants to be lugging fuel when you can be looking at those crazy statues called moais and ancient crater lakes. We are getting excited to be able to say LAND HO and put our feets on terra firma and explore this far far off island. It truly is in the middle of nowhere!!! I do believe that once there we are officially in the South Pacific as well...can't believe how far we have come. Well time for more star is a spectacularly clear night out there and a special time to just sit and contemplate. Please all of you who have been writing us know how thrilling it is to open up the cue and see those emails and for those of you who have not yet...plea
se do. We love it. Only 180 miles to go...about the distance of our summer fave of Northport to Nantucket. Funny how that used to seem so so far and now I say only! Amazing what a different perspective will do to ones frame of reference.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 10

Pacific Ocean
22 34.2S, 107 34.7W
1615 nm SW of Galapagos
0700 report

It is a quiet morning here. Winds eased overnight and engine went on at 0245. Wind, now blowing only 3 - 5 knots just south of SE, is supposed to lessen as the day evolves. The seas are quite pacific at this moment, which is nice, but this means we need decide whether to burn more fuel and make landfall by late Friday, or take it easy and arrive Easter Island first thing Saturday. Right now we are motoring with mainsail up, but wind is too little to make a difference. We are burning about 1.5 GPH at 1100 RPM moving around 7 knots, and will hold this for a while until we have to slow down in order to arrive Saturday morn with some light - just about 48 hours from now.

Sky this morning is similar to yesterday. A beautiful sunrise lights a distant and encircling ring of high clouds ahead of us, with segments of rain fall at various points around the horizon. Yesterday we sailed through this by late morning and I hope we will do so today. Dinner last night of course, was wahoo, with baked "french fried" potatoes and cucmber-tomato salad. Dried fruit medley and nuts were our (just) desert.

I have the camera out and went out on deck, but it was a calm night and there are no subjects for my photo study. That's all right as I suspect I will have plenty more shots at it between here and NZ. We are getting fairly far south. It's cool enough this morning to find me in a "T" shirt - I put one on for the first time in 10 days or so. Not quite a New England winter, but I am sure some one out there can feel my pain!

We are getting oh so close. 293 nm to go.

Yahoo we caught a wahoo!!

22.00.16 S 107.16.25W It's a big ocean out here

Great day today..the winds and the seas have calmed right down and it was downright enjoyable all day today..nice change and a taste of what Pacific sailing should be. Long waves and clear skies...not the chop and confusion that we saw for our first 8 days. I can actually say I even had fun today! And an added bonus was that it was calm enough that I was even able to do my situps and pushups which have not been at all possible in the last bunch of days. Big excitement was we caught a very nice fish.. a wahoo which is quite yummy. Not sure why they are not available for sale but I have never seen it in any fish market. It's white and flakey but kind of meaty ...cooks up wonderfully just simply grilled. Nice nice change for us as we have been eating so much chicken, If the Ecuadorian chickens were raised like the US ones(full of growth hormones and such) we would be worried that the boys might start to grow breasts. The sky tonight is oh so clear with a glassy like sea
ahead. We can see a million stars including the southern cross which is pretty cool. We are definitely in the home stretch. Can't wait to be able to screech LAND HO. Looks like the eased up winds will probably delay our arrival till Sat. We have not wanted to put on the engine...not cuz the fuel costs so much but because it will have to be jerry jugged to the boat and could be a whole day process if we run the engine for the next day and a half. Looking forward to the intrigues of Easter will certainly be one of the most remote places any of us have ever been. It definitely sits out here in the big blue all by itself with nothing for miles and miles ...and miles to go before we rest! Fact is we have 330 left. it seems so bizarre that now that seems like such a short way.'s all a matter of perspective. More to follow so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Day 9 - This is More Like It!

Pacific Ocean - 390 miles north of Easter Island - 20 54.5S 106 54.4W

Today the Pacific has finally lived up to its name. We have had beautiful clear skies which just a few clouds here and there and the nice long period seas we had always heard about instead of those decidedly atlantic like seas we experienced the first 8 days. We still have a bit of current against us, but the wind has been blowing 6 to 10 knots for most of the day and we have been sailing along either under Code 0 or Jib doing anywhere from 6 to 9 knots, sometimes exceeding the true wind speed. The wind is a bit shifty, with 30 to 40 degree shifts every few hours, so it is keeping us on our toes, but it is exceedingly comfortable today.

We also caught a fish...this time a wahoo. We actually had two strike at the same time, but one bit through the leader and was gone in a matter of seconds. It means we get a break from all the chicken dishes without having to go into our shrimp stash which we are not sure will be particularly replenishable anytime soon.

Mom is of course reading out in the sun, I am trying to get a break in the shade of the pilothouse which works great as long as you can open the hatches and there is a bit of breeze, and Bill is catching some winks forward. The forecast is for our winds to die off sometime this evening at which time we have to decide if we want to burn 1.5 gallons an hour ($3/gal in Easter) of diesel and make sure we get in tomorrow, or keep sailing for a while longer and see what happens. The good news is we know fuel is available, so it is at least an option, but we will have to fill using jerry cans, so the less we have to buy, the less we spend and the less time it takes.

Anyway, it has been good to get e-mails from our friends and family. As my friend Corey remembered from his time on ship in his recent e-mail, what we wouldn't give for a newspaper, so please send along any news you feel is worthy or interesting. We don't have a whole lot else to do out here.

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 9

Pacifc Ocean
20 19.0S, 106 36.8W at 0850
1463 nm SW of Galapagos
(tardy) 0700 report

Dawn on the Pacific Ocean brings a shifting and easing wind, as windspeed began to drop almost hourly after midnight. The waning moon is just past full and illuminated the sky with a 50% cloudcover last night. There were tall banks of clouds with white puffy tops, but many had a more ominous slate gray bottom which often brought a localized area of higher winds, sometimes accompanied by rain. I found myself dodging those as able on my watch that ended at midnight.

This morning, the wind is not quite stable, and varies from 8 to 16 knots, swinging through NE to east. This is diffficult sailing, particularly in the dark. It requires much attention, and it seems that every time you finally set the sails just right, the wind changes. How ironic is it that now, with flukey and lighter winds, I am steering towards those same dark clouds, as they carry more wind!

We had an autopilot problem yesterday. Our name for the 4th crew member is "Otto" and typically Otto might lose steering function several times a day, particularly when driven hard. We just hand steer for a few minutes, and Otto takes over again. Well, yesterday afternoon it did not work that way, and further inspection noted hydraulic fluid in the lazerette - we lost fluid from some type of leak. Hopefully it is a loose fitting but perhaps it may be a hose failure, or a broken part. We shall see when it calms for a while. Fortunately, Visions of Johanna was designed with 2 independent autopilot systems, and there was a seamless change over as we swapped drive connections. Sweet! If we have problems with this unit, there is one more backup steering unit available, and that unit goes by the name "Gram".

Excellent dinner last night included a chicken-lentil bean stew (from South Beach Diet cookbook) and warm cornbread with fresh pineapple for desert. That Jack Bauer guy was in trouble again, too.

Only one tiny flying fish was obv ious on deck today. As I picked it up, I realized that it made quite an image lying there. Maybe I will do a photographic study of these stranded winged creatures.

Saw my first bird this morning - a very good sign! At 8:45 AM there is only 440 nm to go, and crew eagerly awaits landfall. Sorry for the delayed report but sails required all my attention this AM.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Galapagos to Easter Island Day 8 - a squirrely night

Pacific Ocean
17 29.8S, 105 00.7W
1290 nm SW of Galapagos
0700 report

We saw rain on and off through the night, with squirrely winds that changed direction through 35 degrees, and ranged from 13 to 25 knots. This meant - how much sail do you want up - too much or too little? A racing crew would have a 24 hour 4 person deck watch and sail changes evey 20 minutes with the winds, but we just set them at a happy medium, and sailed through it all. The wind does seem to be stabilizing this morning with this very picturesque sunrise I see off our port quarter.

With the light of day and from the cockpit I can only count a few small flying fish on decks; the large overnight deposits have lessened with the lessening seas. I also note that the rain has returned some of the salt from our decks and fittings to the ocean, but we are stil heavily laden. At the equator, sun rose and set very close to 630 AM and PM, but out here it is light later, with an 7:30 sunset and 8:00 twilighrt. Oddly enough, Easter Island sets it's clock on mainland Chile time, so we will move our clocks back (the wrong way) when we get is light there quite late in the evening.

I have to chuckle when I note that more people comment or reply about our menu than just about anything else nautical! So, for those so very interested...Jo cooked a great chicken curry last night prepared with rice, salad, and a fantastic homemade papaya chutney (thank you Soggy Paws for the chutney recipe!). Midway through our episode of "24", she served a desert of freshly baked peach cobbler - which I had been waiting for all day - as the cabin smelled deliciously good when she baked it yesterday morning. Jo has already received one job offer as a sea-going chef, but I do nt think she will take it.

After 7 nights we are beginning to get a bit thin on greens. The lettuce last night was our last one, but we still have 2 1/2 cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, a cabbage, and carrots. These should last us to Easter Island, but I hope that the airport is open and/or one of the reqular supply ships come in as we would like to replenish.

We made 208 nm yesterday 6AM -6AM. 624 nm to go

Monday, March 1, 2010

15.41.3S, 104.08.7W between Galapagos and Easter Island
Finally a break in the wind and I can catch my breath and do something besides ricocheting off every hard surface in the boat. It has been a fairly raucous sail from Galapagos to here...not your typical 10 knots downwind as I was promised but 22-25 knots and hard on our sails. Too much heeling and way too many stiff waves to thump down is a struggle just to remain upright!!! But today has been delightful as we move along comfortably with a double rrefed main and our big reacher sail...doing between 9 and 9 1/2 knots and even remaining fairly (remember this is a sailboat so that's relative) straight up. It's been 7 days since we left and we've clocked 1270 mi.( my longest sail by quite a bit...and I think even Bill and Gram's longest without stopping) We have seen absolutely nothing but blue water, blue skies and grey skies and each other...oh yeah a few birds and some flying fish but no other signs of life on this planet. It is definitely out there this Easter Island to where we are headed!!

So, our days consist of reading, eating, watching a little prerecorded TV, and for the two guys napping. I still have not gotten the hang of that but feel like I'm sleeping as much as I don't regularly anyway so it's all OK. We have been able to shower outside but you should have seen me trying to wash my hair 2 days ago. We were heeled so far over that I was afraid to close my eyes which one needs to do when trying to get the soap out of the hair(especially someone with as much hair as me) so I had to scrunch all up in the corner of the cockpit on the floor and go for it...just couldn't wait any longer. Definitely feel my hippie days in Thorndike with the once/week baths have done me a good ways to this roughing it...lucky it is much much warmer than that drafty old farmhouse was!!!

We were touched on Sat morning as we got so many emails from friends worried that we had been swallowed up by the Tsunami. We pretty much slept thru it but that would be because we were out here in 13,000 ft of water(very safe) . Bill was on watch and did note that the boat kind of shuddered at about the time it would have gone by but did not think of it being anything other than wind change until later. So, now added to all the other things I can worry and obsess about I have to add Tsunamis. Who would have thunk??? We did hear from boats still in our anchorage in the Galapagos that 10 ft of water rushed in and out quite quickly and that later they realized the town had been evacuated to the hills. The port captain did not feel it his duty to evacuate the boats which was done on two other islands as well as on Easter from what we have heard. He was a bit flakey we thought and this certainly proves it.

Looks as if we will get to Easter Fri or Sat if the winds stay similar to what they are currently. Can't wait to touch land again and to be able to explore this fasc inating island. More to follow.. J

Galapagos to Easter Day 7

Pacific Ocean - 15 26.4S 104 02.6W

Today the weather finally broke a bit. This morning we had very pleasant 14kt winds from the east which has built to about 19kts this sunny and crisp afternoon. Sailing under double reefed main and Code 0 Reacher is quite pleasant at 10kts boatspeed, but we seem to have a bit of counter current which is slowing us down slightly.

The air is just different here, almost feeling like a Maine August day. Last night was almost chilly with a low around 72 and only 60% humidity, the lowest humidity we have seen since Quito up in the mountains. Right now it is a warm 76 degrees outside and 63% humidity. Still quite hot in the sun, but quite pleasant really. Seas are still a bit more than we would prefer at about 6' and relatively short period, much more like the chop you see in Penobscot Bay than what you would expect in the Pacific Ocean. We will go back to the jib once dinner prep starts to make things more comfortable for the night, but for now we are screaming along and having a good time.

Speaking of time, it was finally calm enough this morning to take apart my watch and happily removing and reinstalling the battery seems to have fixed it (for now). I need to figure out how to make sure I tighten the back up enough before I go swimming, but at least I can tell what time it is fact it is time for a nap.

SatCom Testing

Pacific Ocean - 14 48.6S 103 46.9W - Middle of Nowhere

I will try to post more later in the day, but got word this morning my latest update on the Satelite Phone Tests has been posted at

Go have a read at if you are interested. I believe there is a cool image at the beginning showing the progress of our trip.

Now this is more like it...Galapagos to Easter Island Day 7

Pacific Ocean
14 41.5S, 103 42.2W
1120 nm SW of Galapagos
0700 report

Overnight the winds have both eased a bit, and have even come a bit north of east. The sailing is smoother with the winds abaft (more behind us) and the seas are beginning to lie down as well. Finally, these are more the sailing conditions I expected. Everyone appreciates this...Jo had her first good nights sleep since we left...she was so soundly asleep last night that I did not have the heart to awaken her for her watch. I took her watch and then she and Gram made sure that I got enough rest too. Everyone is taking care of everyone else as we get into this routine.

True wind angle is now 115 degrees, and although it is still averaging 16 knots, it feels less as it is well enough behind the beam. We are still doing 7 - 8 knots over the ground, but most of the time our apparent wind is below 15 knots and as soon as everyone is awake this morning, we can try a sail change to get a bit more dacron up.

We had some sense of this easing yesterday evening as we were not moving as quickly or hard as before, and had a great meal with a double feature of "24". During our 97/98 Caribbean cruise we discovered Shepards Pie on the British island of Nevis, and adopted it as a favotite passage meal. Jo chose that dish last night as it is wonderful comfort food...but she also notes that she was running out of meals that can be served in a bowl! and that she could not have served it if Sierra was on board (really no chance of that) because all the food was touching. The Shepards Pie was accompanied by a cucumber and tomato vinagrette, with chocolate pudding and tasty Galapagos banana slices for desert. Yum.

We did 223 nm past 24 hours (0500 - 0500) without really trying. Sun is out and I suspect we will go fishing today. 806 nm to go.