Sunday, May 26, 2013

Zak and Dan write a Bloooooog poooost (sung to Troy and Abed's theme) OR: you could probably just use Windex

Hello and welcome to our blog post. It is the most fabulous blog post you will ever read. If you are receiving this via email, it's probably fairly average fare.


Be warned: should you desire useful information or a cohesive narrative, you will be sorely disappointed. This is Art.

Let's start at the very beginning. 22 years a handful of months ago, Danielle de Carle was born. A couple of weeks later, the heavens opened and Zak was brought to this earth via a very lucky stork (or possibly a cesarean section. The world will never know). Ever since, the world has been blessed by their presence. Trials and tribulations ensued as the precocious two progressed from infanthood through their ascension from the underworld itself (Montreal, Canada, North America, Earth), but the end justified the means. Unbeknownst to them, their previously meaningless lives culminated in an airplane to New Zealand, a yacht, and a seven day voyage to the fabled lands which are called Fiji. Zak thought this trip was going to be a vacation, but apparently he thought wrong. It was idiotic for him not to remember that any stint on the boat is far more work than an entire semester at McGill.

But I digress. I believe that Dr. William Strassberg has caught you up to our first sevusevu, which was quite an experience. Zak was brought to believe that drugs would be involved (namely kava, a mild stimulant which has the unfortunate side effect of tasting like dirty dish water), but his hopes were dashed when "King George" kept our offering of a kava root all to himself (although this did spare our intrepid travelers a foul-tasting mouth). We are still pondering whether this was selfish or altruistic (the world will never know). We then met the wonderful Amelia, a 27 year old beauty who told Danielle not to get married for at least a score. She is wed to Chris; Amelia and Chris take care of Michaele (I am unsure of how to spell his name, for this I apologize), a young boy (who may or may not be related to Chris and Amelia via ties of blood), on days when he doesn't ferry to school or something like that. We are unclear on the details, or perhaps I did not listen hard enough.

Chris, who was wearing a fantastic Australian flag tank top, took us on a hike to a waterfall. Father and I were not shod, and I feared that I would contract a ringworm in my soft, Western sole. There were also stingrays in the water. Danielle told me to shuffle through the water to avoid dying like Steve Irwin. I have many fears involving injuries to my feet. They are what I walk on every day, after all. But fear not, faithful reader, for I emerged unscathed physically, although psychologically we are still unsure of my fate.

As we approached the waterfall, we spotted fair maidens washing their clothes nestled in the bend of a babbling brook. An aside: nearby were pigs AND piglets. The piglets were practically falling over themselves trying to get to a shell perched in precarious proximity to the pristine pool. Hopefully their porcine droppings don't contaminate the drinking water of the village.

The ascent was treacherous, but worthy of the dangers we encountered upon the way. The path was often fouled with excrement of the wild beasts which roam the land here, like landmines in an action movie: presenting an omnipresent but ultimately surmountable barrier as we moved forward toward the third act. Zak did cry Hark! to Danielle after he spotted a landcrab basking in the sun upon its chariot - a verdant taro leaf. Eventually, with the help of our guide, more valuable than any Sherpa, we found our way to the waterfall. Here William and Zak did swim in the clear, cool water.

Our naturalist (Danielle) studied these waters. Were they the mythical fountain of life we sought? Zak tasted the water in hopes of immortality. Only time will tell if his wish will come true, or if dysentery will be his only reward. The pools also harboured crayfish below the surface and crickets above. Their oblivious meanderings reminded us of the futility of trying to understand this moment. Were we enlightened spirits peering into a more simple world? Or simply fools convinced that the our ways are superior to those of nature?

Refreshed and rejuvenated, our descent was uneventful. But around us the landscape teemed with the fury of the wild. Struggles of life and death went unnoticed by our sun-shaded eyes. If we are unaware of the turbulence around us, does it still have meaning? Back in civilization at the shore below, we partook of the sweet water of the coconut, hacked to pieces by our guide. A metaphor for life, perhaps? The dogs in this country are gaunt. They stared at us with pleading eyes. While our hosts weren't looking, we slipped them some of the meat.

The ride back to the boat was silent. What had really happened to us that day? We were unsure of the details, but certainly something wonderful. Or maybe something devilish, not meant to be Understood. Whatever it was, dinner that night tasted sweeter than ever before. Another day in paradise indeed.

- A mysterious missive masterfully made manifest, mostly mad.


Faithful Readers,

After a final morning of adventure (for Bill), puppy-snuggling (for myself and Zak), conversation with the locals (for Johanna), and relaxation (for Jules) in Dukanubi, Visions and her crew set off for Viani Bay. While we did encounter a spot of trouble when it came time to drop anchor, we have so far found Viani Bay to be very agreeable, if slightly rainy.

Upon arrival yesterday, Bill went to introduce himself to the local residents: two families who have built their houses on a small island in the bay. Zak apparently finished two books. After dinner, there was a rain storm of biblical proportions. This meant that we could refill our water tanks. It also meant that we couldn't have any of the hatches open. Most of that evening was therefore spent on the verge of melting.

For now, however, the rain seems to have stopped. We have a dive planned for tomorrow morning, so we spent a bit of the morning going over SCUBA equipment and procedure. Jules, Bill, Jo, and I also swam over to visit the residents of the small island. (On the way there, I totally saw a puffer fish, which was excellent, but also slightly scary.) They were extremely hospitable, and invited us to have grog (kava) and curried land crabs (caught during the rain storm) with them tomorrow afternoon. They also let us poke around the island some. At first I was slightly unnerved because all the shells kept rearranging themselves of their own accord, but then I realised they were all full of hermit crabs. Jules and I spent some time trying to see faces in the coconut shells littering the beach: one was particularly morose looking, so we named it Zak. Bill also found a discarded pig pelvis, which prompted us – well, mostly just me – to scour the beach looking for other pig bits. There was a particularly interesting lower jaw which had teeth in it that hadn't erupted yet, so they looked all gnarly.

After we returned to the boat, we played Settlers of Catan*. I won. This was extremely gratifying because up until this point, I've pretty squarely lost every game we've played. Catan has a tendency to drag on, though, and because of this, dinner always ends up being later than planned. We will have to find a way to rectify this, because it displeases Captain Bill, and it seems to have put a damper on our after-dinner television-watching.

At any rate, that pretty much brings us up to the present. Everyone but Zak and I has gone to bed, and here we are filling you in on our adventurings. (I will take this opportunity to distance myself from anything unflattering or nonsensical that Zak may have said in his update.)


- Danielle

*Note to my parents: Remember that game that we were meant to play at Auntie Cindy's cottage, but she was too drunk to explain it, so she just yelled about it for two hours and then we all went to bed? It's that game.

**Note to Yaffa: It's Muggle Time!

This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using GMN's XGate software.
Please be kind and keep your replies short.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Safely arrived and back underway

We are sorry about the lapse and lack of recent posts...I have asked crew to write and help send news, but that has not happened, at least not yet, After our 2:30 P.M. arrival in Savusavu, clearance was lengthy but relatively painless. The marinas charge a small fee to facilitate, and after multiple official visitations aboard, one walks about to pay fees at various offices.

We spent (only) 2 days doing necessary clean-up and provisioning (with requisite shopping for trinkets and Sulu's - tradtional Fijian/South PAcific dress), and we managed to leave Savusavu quickly, 3 days after arrival. While another day or more would have been nice to meet other yachties and exchange info and itineraries, leaving seemed smart as we have a short time span to cruise, and more importantly, there were light SE winds to sail and motor sail east, not the typical brisk easterlies.

So, now we are at Dukanubi Bay. Passage in through the fringing reef was straight forward, and we have good local info about the bay and anchorage - thank you Soggy Paws compendium! In Fiji, when you enter a bay, you are within the waters and "territorial environs" of a village. It is sort of like driving along and stopping for the night to pitch your tent in some one's back yard - it is appropriate to knock on their door and ask permission, and even bring a little thank you gift. Here, we dinghy in to the village and ask permission of the village chief to visit the village and to be in their waters. We bring a gift of Kava root, and the ceremony is called Sevu Sevu. We did our first yesterday.

More on the Sevu Sevu and our visit to Dukanubi to follow!

Best wishes from the crew of Visions of Johanna.

This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using GMN's XGate software.
Please be kind and keep your replies short.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Zealand to Fiji - Day 8

Day Eight: Passage Opua to Savusavu
0730 Sunday 20 May 2013 NZST/1930 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 17 43.2 S/ 179 06.4 E
WInd ESE 12 knots/SOG 8 kn/COG 032 mag/Sea state choppy
187 nm motor and sailed 6 AM to 6 AM.  59 nm to go.

Nice sailing overnight for Visions of Johanna. We are currently making passage into the Koro Sea between Batiki and Wayaka Islands. Charts are not  typically spot on here, and Fiji is infamous for a myriad of small (but very hard) off island reefs. For those who might be interested, in order to feel confident about my route, I did the following:

Using google earth geo-referenced charts, I reconciled reef borders on my C-Map Expedition charts with the satellite views. Using Fiji gov't Light House waypoints sent to me by my shore support (aka Gram) team, I reconciled positions of navigation lights on Expedition and Captain programs. I measured and cross checked distances between hazards and my route on Expedition and satellite pictures.

I drew my course on Expedition and Captain, and reconciled my "runway and avoidance zones" on Captain with my Expedition route. I then ran a course using google earth views with a third program, openCPN, on my laptop, and cross-checked waypoints with EXP and Captain.

I ran Captain and Expedition side by side on the pilot house video display while also viewing satellite charting on my laptop. Radar targets and first light of morning confirmed positions real time.

The wonders of technology! It was time consuming but somewhat easier to do than to explain.

As for other news: we caught a small yellow fin tuna yesterday. Lines are out as we speak.

For our al fresco dining in the cockpit at sundown last night, we enjoyed chicken curry with dahl and rice and green beans, and boysenberry ice crean for desert. We continued our ritual and watched an episode of House of Cards in the pilot house together before turning in.

I anticipate arrival in Savusavu at about 1400 hours - early afternoon today, and  look forward once again to the reunion of my two precious Johannas.

Crew and vessel continuing to do well.

Shoreside Update

Just got a quick note from Bill, Monday morning, that he is just outside the pass between Wakaya and Batiki so they will arrive Savusavu today.  Imagine the update will be a bit delayed as they will be a bit bussier than normal this morning naviagating between the various islands on the way up to Savusavu.


New Zealand to Fiji - Day 7 Update

Day Seven: Passage Opua to Savusavu
0700 Sunday 19 May 2013 NZST/1900 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 20 32.3 S/ 178 56.2 E
WIind NE 7 knots/SOG 6.8 kn/COG 359 mag/Sea state less than 3' swells primary from SE/Bar 1017.5
154 nm motor sailed 6 AM to 6 AM.  229 nm to go.

Light conditions and motor sailing continue for Visions of Johanna. Wind has been light, but on the bow. Yesterday was a second day with hammocks and chairs hanging on the mid deck, replete with boom box and dueling kindles. I effected repairs of port and stern nav lights, and vang stop preventer. Meanwhile, we continue to fish for the elusive and most desirable yellow fin tuna.

And yes...another great dinner al fresco in the cockpit at sundown last night - Brunswick stew with Brussels Sprouts and herbed potatoes. We continued our ritual and watched an episode of House of Cards in the pilot house together before turning in.
I anticipate arrival in Savusavu in about 30 hours - early afternoon tomorrow, Monday. A bit longer than ideal, but we have either had too much wind, or light wind on the bow. In the end, we accept what we are given and deal.

Crew and vessel continuing to do well.


Friday, May 17, 2013

New Zealand to Fiji - Day 6

Day Six: Passage Opua to Savusavu
0700 Saturday 18 May 2013 NZST/1900 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 22 58.4 S/ 177 53.1 E
WInd NW 9 knots/SOG 7 kn/COG 014 mag/Sea state lessthan 3' swells primary from SE/Bar 1017
172nm motor sailed 6 AM to 6 AM.  397 nm to go.

Smooth motor sailing for Visions of Johanna. We caught 2 mahi-mahi yesterday morning - great teamwork bringing them in. Fish tacos with refried beans,  rice and corn, for lunch were fantastic. Now we continue to fish for the elusive and most desriable yellow fin tuna.

It is with great respect that we appreciate the  bounty provided to us by the sea.

Another nice gentle day yesterday. Zak took his mid day watch from a hammock on the foredeck - with my iPad to check data while facing aft to keep an eye on fishing lines. The rest of us did our watches in a more traditional manner! Another great dinner al fresco in the cockpit at sundown last night - quiche with a cole slaw salad. We continued our ritual and watched an episode of House of Cards in the pilot house together before turning in. I think crew is beginning to enjoy this passage. Good thing they have short memories!!

A few chores for me today. I have to check the port bow light which does not appear to be functioning, and I need to re-tension the vang preventer line - nothing major. The mainsail still needs a batten replaced, as well replacing reefing markers along the luff, but these can wait.

Crew and vessel continuing to do well.


Update from NZ Maritime

I quiried NZ Maritme about the vessel VofJ was asked to go look for (mentioned in Bill's last entry) and figured the readers would be curious to hear the answer:

At present we have no new information. We believe the yacht SAINT ARMOUR has
effected repairs and is continuing on passage to Fiji. We have requested
that the Fijian authorities contact us when the yacht arrives. Two other
yachts went to her aid. The SHARD we have not been able to contact but think
it may have helped effect repairs, and KILICO IV when reaching the area
later could not locate the SAINT ARMOUR.

Please pass our gratitude to the skipper and crew of VISIONS OF JOHANNA for
their assistance.

Kind regards

John Ashby | Senior Search and Rescue Officer Maritime New Zealand | Rescue
Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) Nō te rere moana Aotearoa

+64 4 5778030 | F +64 4 5778038 | E W

I or Bill will post an update if we hear more or Bill can find out more in Fiji.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Zealand to Fiji - Day 5 -- What a difference a day makes!

Day Five: Passage Opua to Savusavu
0700 Friday 17 May 2013 NZST/1900 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 25 15.8 S/ 176 43.5 E
WInd South 5 knots/SOG 6.4 - 7 kn/COG 016 mag/Sea state 2-4' swells primary from SE/Bar 1018
160nm motor sailed 6am to 6am. 540 nm to go.

There was little wind overnight and seas are benign. The sky was full of sun by yesterday afternoon, and we all enjoyed some time in the cockpit. Fishing lines were out and we caught what looks like a small mackerel type of fish. Zak thought we had another hit, but line was not taught. In the end, we brought back the rod and it had lure without hooks. Something big!

We did divert course yesterday for nearly 2 hours, heading west toward the position of a reported vessel in distress. We were in contact with New Zealand Maritime radio and after steaming about 12 nm, we were able to call a boat that had headed to the area prior to us. We reported their findings (nil) and our own negative radar scans, and we were released from assistance at that point. Vessel in distress was a single-hander on SY St. Amour. I have no knowledge as to outcome.

Great dinner al fresco in the cockpit at sundown last night - Pasta Bolognese with courgettes. Then we watched an episode of House of Cards in the pilot house before turning in. We look forward to another sunny day today.
Crew and vessel doing well.

--Editors Note:  I have checked NZ Maritime website and there have been no press releases regarding SY St. Amour nor any similar vessel in the area.  Google search didn't find anything either.  Will update if I find anything.

NZ to Fiji -- Shoreside Update

Got a question from Bill asking for help with NMEA over Ethernet networking gremlins (good sign he is dealing with this as it means it is calm enough for him to start playing with toys and gadgets) which included some news I thought others might be interested in:

"...all is fine and conditions are easy right now. I think that those 24 hours on Monday night through Tuesday night were some of the roughest conditions I have sailed through. I remember 8 hours or so across the Gulf Stream in our first double handed race, but this had higher winds and seas. Our stbd beam and quarter was pooped and we had green water coming down the galley dorades and pilot house vents as water washed over the pilot house, and cockpit flooded 2/3 up the bridge deck with the back half of the swell when it reached the quarter. I guess that's what they mean by a squash zone., I queried Ken and I will forward his reply to you."

From Ken Mckinley:

"As to your questions, first, the low that generated the strong winds was very difficult to predict, and in the lower latitudes, because the Coriolis effect is less, small changes in the pressure gradient will lead to more significant changes in wind speeds compared to higher latitudes. Depending on which model run of GRIB data you looked at, subtle changes in pressure could lead to not so subtle differences in wind speeds. I find that GRIB data often underestimates winds in situations like this. One of the reasons I waved you off on the earlier departure was uncertainties in the pattern and the potential for difficult conditions, not necessarily picked up ahead of time by the models, both in terms of winds and seas a bit higher than you actually saw this time, and in terms of a significantly longer duration of those conditions. This time, even though there was the potential for tough conditions, it appeared unlikely that they would last for a very long time."

Long story is hard, but our intrepid sailors should have a fairly easy time to Fiji after a tough start.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Zealand to Fiji - Thursday Morning Report (Day 4)

Day Four: Passage Opua to Savusavu
0630 Thursday 16 May 2013 NZST/1830 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 27 40.8 S/ 175 46.1 E
WInd SSW 8-12 knots/SOG 6.3kn/COG 003 mag/Sea state 4-8' swells primary from SE/Bar 1012
194 nm sailed 6 AM to 6 AM

Wind has slowly clocked and dropped around our stern, now motor sailing with main for stability. Seas have eased as well, now just a bit lumpy in 7 second period swells. We should get back to routine today, fishing lines out, and regular sit together meals, I hope.

A middle batten began to slide out of it's pocket yesterday afternoon and we lowered the main to replace it. I was awakened this morning with a loud clatter mid deck, and, after checking rigging, saw that the #2 battten (*from boom) was on the deck. No big lies happily on the side deck right now and I am glad the noise was not anything more serious. We needed an "all hands on deck " drill, anyway. We also now need to check all the other battens!

That brings me to Rule #46 - Neptune will expose any and all of your boats weak points and shortcomings, so simply be thankful that you arrived safely after an ocean passage. You were just a player.

I see cockpit showers in our future. Captain might make them mandatory!
All is well and looking better every day.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New Zealand to Fiji - Wednesday Morning Report (Day 3)

0630 Wedneday 15 May 2013 NZST/1830 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 30 09.7 S/ 174.34 E
WInd ESE 15-18 knots/SOG 8.6 kn/COG 006mag/Sea state not observed/Bar 1012
174 nm sailed 6 AM to 6 AM

We spent most of yesterday with a third reef in the mainsail coupled with a 50% furled staysail - as winds averaged 30 knots. Last night we fully opened the staysail and this morning added partially furled jib, functioning as high clewed yankee. I can't believe we covered 174 nm as I was trying hard to slow us down! Winds are continuing to ease and I will unfurl the main later today when there is light.

Conditions have improved overnight and seas will continue to diminish over the next 12-24 hours.  Sky appears to be 50% overcast and I think we will have sun today, too. We have not seen another boat since leaving Bay of Islands although I spoke with a SAR aircraft overnight. As seas calm down, we will put out some fishing lines. All is well and looking better every day.


Monday, May 13, 2013

New Zealand to Fiji - Tuesday Morning Report

0630 Tuesday, 14 May 2013 NZST/1830 UTC
South Pacific Ocean 32 52 S/ 174.21 E
WInd E-ESE 23 knots/SOG 7.5 kn/COG 347 mag/Sea state not observed
Distance sailed = 114 nm over past 14 hours/174 nm to 30 S waypoint

We continue with double reef mainsail and staysail anticipating that wind and seas should ease within 12 and 24 hours respectively. Great dinner of chicken parmesean and green salad last night. Crew is taking all in stride and everyone is standing their watch. Dani is still finding sea legs but refuses to complain.  At this hour it remains dark with the earliest rays of dawn. I cannot yet view the seas nor can I give my morning flying fish report. We are fine and I am looking forward to some tropical warmth.


New Zealand to Fiji - Monday Night Update

2220 NZST
1020 GMT
33 53.7 S  174 18,4E
SOG 7,5 kn
COG 347
South Pacific Ocean

We are making good time. Wind has slowly inreased through the afternoon and night, currently 24 kn from 095 mag. We are headed for a WP 60 nm west of rhumbline at 30S. Seas somewhat short and we are sailing double reefed main and 50% furled jib to be more comfortable through the night.

All is well. I will send my regular check at first light.


On Their Way

I am sure Bill will write a post tomorrow morning during his normal morning watch, but thought I would give a quick update.  Weather forecast was good, so they left this morning.  I think they managed to get out of Opua about 10am and I last spoke to them at about 3pm before they exited cell range.  All was well and they were having a nice day with moderate seas.  Also, just posted the pic Zak sent me onto the last post.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Prepared for Departure

May 12, 2013
1130 Hrs NZ time
Position: Opua Marina, Northland, NZ

First: Happy Mothers day to all, from crew of SY Visions of Johanna

We have been watching weather patterns closely and at the advice of our weather router Ken McKinley (Locus Weather), we elected to delay our departure and avoid potentially uncomfortable conditions. It is likely that a nice window will open up tomorrow morning and we hope to leave then - 1000 hrs Monday, May 13 NZ time, or around 2 AM east coast time in USA (on Monday morning). Possibility of an additional 24 hr wait remains, but is unlikely. We shall see.

All is well otherwise. Nights are chilly and everyone is looking forward to tropical warmth.


This e-mail was delivered via satellite phone using GMN's XGate software.
Please be kind and keep your replies short.