SAILING FROM SAN FRANCISCO
June 9 2017
The alarm woke me at five this morning. The brain said get up, the body said just thirty minutes more. The brain won. I put the kettle on for a cuppa and had a look outside, flat calm in Sausalito anchorage and the sky starting to lighten in the east.
By five thirty the anchor was aweigh. A mass of sticky mud came up on the anchor and chain, what a mess. Oh well, the sea will clean it off. We headed out the anchorage and at exactly six o’clock we motored under the Golden Gate bridge in thick fog. Now I have sailed, driven and flown both ways over, on and under it. It’s done.
The San Francisco bar was in boisterous mood. My friend Mark will be pleased to know I got rocked, rolled and thoroughly shaken up. Once outside in deeper water things calmed down and I was able to set all sail and head off in a southerly direction. At ten the cloud cleared, the sun came out, I shed my heavy jacket and sea boots – for the last time this trip?
By noon we had knocked off a few miles and there is now less than two thousand miles to go to Hilo, my first planned stopping point on the way. Of course, that’s in a straight line, we will have to sail more miles no doubt to allow for weather along the way. I have chosen Hilo on the Big Island as the entry into Hawaii. It looks like I need to head south for a couple of days to avoid a high-pressure area of light winds to the east of San Francisco.
By early afternoon we were clear of the shipping lanes and traffic separation zones and into deep water. No more crab pot floats to dodge thank goodness. A bunch of dolphins came to join us, one of them seemed very interested in Truces trim tab on the rudder. Whales seem to be everywhere, one blew close by and startled me. The sun is sparkling on the sea, the wind is free and all is good in my world. Voyage distance to noon 32 miles and all is good in my world.
SOUTHERN ROUTE TO HAWAII
June 10 2017
Last night was an up and down sort of affair. The wind was blowing between fifteen and twenty-five knots. So, one hour we had too much sail and a few minutes later not enough. We were sailing too fast in the stronger winds and eventually ended up with a double reefed main, staysail and the jib being furled in and out as conditions dictated. This worked fine and today the main still has the double reef in as we are getting occasional gusts to twenty-five knots. The sailing is good.
I am still heading in a southerly direction. Looks like it will take another twenty-four hours before we are clear of this North Westerly flow and can start heading more to the west. If we turn west too soon I fear we will hit a big calm patch. So, its circling down to the south, sailing a longer distance and getting there quicker – that’s the plan.
Today’s highlight was finding a bag of dark chocolate raisins – my favourite. I had forgotten I bought them. I will try and ration them out but don’t expect they will last too long, they are like a drug to me. Anyway, they must go before we hit the warm weather otherwise they will melt.
Taking about weather, last night was freezing cold. My thermometer said it was fourteen degrees but it felt like four. I dug my thermals out of the locker where they were stored after being laundered at Brisbane Marina – didn’t think I would need them again this voyage. I was seduced by the warm San Francisco Bay weather, forgetting outside the bridge its back to the real world of the North Pacific. Voyage distance 180 miles.
June 11 2017
Last night I was watching the wind die down over a period of about an hour. I had been running with the main double reefed and the staysail in strong winds. After a while I put out half the jib and everything seemed comfortable. I had a feeling that something was not right but couldn’t see any sign, so after a further half an hour I put the rest of the jib out and went to the galley to make coffee.
Next, I heard the roar and we were laid over by a terrific blast of wind. I jumped outside and got the jib furled as quick as I could. Truce was still overpowered and I reefed the main as far as possible to the third reef. The sea was very confused, spray everywhere and a bit of rain. Between midnight and two in the morning we had three separate squalls. The weather gods were angry about something and I got a work out.
Today the wind has continued from the north west about twenty to twenty-five knots so we’re making good steady progress, 148 miles to noon. I still have three reefs in the main and the ride is bumpy. The seas are short, rough and breaking, occasionally slopping over into the cockpit. I reckon this must be the tail of the north westerly winds and tomorrow they will start to curve to the west around the bottom of the high pressure area. I hope so.
The temperature rose by a couple of degrees today, hitting eighteen on my thermometer. Still got my thermals on though. Its not easy to sleep in this weather, every time I put my head down some motion or noise wakes me up. I can’t be bothered trying to cook. I am very much looking forward to being done with the North Pacific.
I have seen a few ships today. Some are on the great circle route between Panama and China and others between the US and China by the information on their AIS. Its beer o’clock, its still cool. Voyage distance 328 miles.
BEAUTIFUL SAILING TODAY
June 12 2017
Last night the wind held steady and Truce sailed herself beautifully through the night. I didn’t touch a thing and we were bang on course this morning. As often happens the sun came up and the wind died. I gybed to the east for a couple of hours and picked up some wind before heading south again.
The fishing line went over the side today. My favourite lure is on the end of it. The lure has been dragged from Vancouver to China and back and caught zero. I am determined to catch something on it so it’s being dragged down to Hawaii this time.
I saw another ship today, this time a bulk carrier bound for Mexico. Other than that, I am all alone out here. Well there’s some whales and birds as well, plus who knows what sort of monsters swimming around in the deep ocean. There’s a very elegant bird flying around, looks like a Sheerwater but I don’t know what type. I should get a book about seabirds – it would make a good Father’s Day present…
This afternoon I got my Bose mini SoundLink working. What a great little speaker, big enough to fill the boat with sound. The Bose stuff is expensive but the quality is good and I expect it will last a long time if I can keep the salt air from it.
After my evening beer, I reefed the main sail down for the night. Now if the wind gets up its easy to reduce sail with the headsails. We are still doing five knots which will be fine until the morning. Hope the wind holds for another relaxing night. Voyage distance 458 miles.
FRESH TUNA FOR DINNER
June 13 2017
Last night was an easy sail, main and jib reduced and we went easy through the night. From six this morning until midday the wind was boisterous and the seas very confused, made for an uncomfortable ride for a few hours but progress is good.
The morning overcast cleared early afternoon and it became quite warm in the sun, although the cold air persists. My thermometer is climbing steadily and indicated a high of eighteen degrees. The thermals have gone now.
A huge kerfuffle just after lunch. A tuna took my lure. It took me completely by surprise, after dragging it around for thousands of miles I was totally unprepared for a fish to try and eat it.
I tried dragging it in, against six knots of boat speed it was impossible. I dropped the staysail, furled the Jib, then started dragging the fish in again. Bloody hard work and took me thirty minutes before I had it on deck.
I gave it a few taps on the head with a winch handle – that made it go berserk. In the ensuing minute, I lost one of my crocks overboard. I was pretty upset about that and gave the brute a few more taps before it quietened down.
What a mess, blood and scales all over the place. Fishing is not the best pursuit for a single hander, it totally disrupted my day and by the time I had cleaned up and rigged the spinnaker pole for downwind sailing beer o’clock was pushed back to seven.
It’s also a waste of good fish for one person to catch a large tuna. I have no way of preserving the meat and apart from two steaks I cut off the fish had gone back to the sea. I will fish no more unless I can catch small fish for my use.
There were a couple of ships around today. One a Matson container ship ‘Mokihana’ from Hawaii to Long Beach. We had a chat on the radio and I think the watchkeeper was happy to break the boredom. The other vessel was a car carrier bound for Korea.
I am now managing to lay a direct course to Hilo on the Hawaii Big Island. But we are going too fast, I will reduce sail before it gets dark. Voyage distance 597 miles.
ANOTHER SQUALLY NIGHT – BEAUTIFUL DAY
June 14 2017
All hell broke loose at midnight. Huge blasts of air followed by calm. Seas coming from different directions and the night as black as pitch. This went on for 3 hours and I just sailed out of it the best I could, keeping the wind on the port quarter. This is similar to what happened a few evenings ago.
Today we are definitely in a different weather pattern. The air is warmer and feels more stable, although the overcast skies continue. The thermometer hit twenty degrees today so its officially shorts day tomorrow.
Yesterday we only travelled 105 miles noon to noon. Mainly due to the bad weather early this morning but I can blame it on fishing. I am sure I lost a few miles slowed down messing around in that tuna saga. I cut two big steaks from the tuna and cooked both. I filled up on it last night and am now not interested in Tuna for a while. It was very good but so filling.
Truce is now sailing with the jib poled out to port and the mainsail hauled out to starboard. All quiet comfortable and not much to do once everything is set. Downwind is not Mickey’s favourite point of sail as the airflow across the wind vane is reduced, but he is doing well. I will gybe over onto starboard tack after my sundowner before it gets dark – it takes me quite a while to get everything transferred over and set up, not an easy one-man job and easier to do in daylight.
I got the news that Team New Zealand did well in the Americas Cup campaign. This time they have the team to win, very resilient and full of self-belief. If New Zealand do win who will host the next Americas cup – Dubai? Voyage distance 597 miles.
MORE GYBE TRAINING NEEDED
June 15 2017
Only one hundred and twelve miles sailed yesterday. The wind has been quite light from astern and that’s the best we could do. The good news, the distance made good is all in the right direction towards Hilo.
Light winds from astern mean plenty of rolling. Truce and I are now well accomplished in the art and ready to enter the world rolling championships. If someone could figure a way of converting the energy created by rolling into forward propulsion or even electricity they would be onto a winner. It would be nice to get some advantage out of rolling, not just a headache.
I gybed the spinnaker pole over to the starboard side late yesterday afternoon. The whole operation took me eighty minutes from start to finish, with countless trips from the cockpit to the fore deck. Before I do the next gybe, I will sit down and map out how I can do less trips and improve line management.
The weather is much milder now, although there is still a bit of cold in the air. Still not quite warm enough for shorts and T shirt unfortunately. At beer o’clock I sat in the cockpit and listened to OMC on the speaker- nice fun music. Reminds me of summer in NZ, how bizarre.
I haven’t noticed much rubbish in the sea. This is good, places like the Sea of Japan and the South China Sea are so polluted they are unrecognisable from a few years ago. I saw quite a bit of pollution in the Northern Pacific a couple of years ago – must be stuff flowing from Asia.
This afternoon I saw an American fishing boat. He was only small and a long way from anywhere. I didn’t speak to him, just wondered where he was from, where he was going, what he was fishing for. The nearest land in the USA is eight hundred miles away so it must be valuable fish he is catching. He probably wondered where I was sailing to. Voyage distance 814 miles.
June 16 2017
Another one of those funny night day experiences. At eleven in the evening I reduced sail as there was too much wind. At three in the morning there was no wind. Truce just wallowed in very light airs and a confused sea.
At five I heard a creaking sound coming from the mast, right where it passes through the coach roof at the partners. On most wooden boats there are all sorts of groans, creaks and squeaks. But Truce is so well built none of the woodwork makes a sound. So, a creak on Truce is an indication something is not right. I dropped all sail, set the staysail to lie quietly and went to investigate.
I found that the mast wedges on the starboard side had slipped. I fashioned a couple of additional wedges then hammered them home. Voila, no more creaks. It’s not a permanent fix, and looks terrible but will get me Hawaii I expect. There I can take my time and do the job in peace and tranquillity. Thank goodness its nothing more serious, I must admit to being worried for a while.
Apart from the drama this morning the day has been perfect. A light following breeze pushing us along at nearly five knots without any stress. I have been lounging around, cat napping, reading, listening to music and generally enjoying good weather.
Last night I was reading ‘Shackleton’s Boat Journey’ by Frank Worsley. Sir Edmund Hillary wrote the introduction. Worsley was the Captain of Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’. It was his skill as a seaman and navigator that played a major part of the successful rescue of the whole expedition party. Well worth a read, only a small book and probably almost free on Kindle.
Rum and coke on the drinks menu at beer o’clock this afternoon. Must go sparingly on my last lemon. Voyage distance 929 miles.
EIGHT DAYS OUT OF SAN FRANCISCO
June 17 2017
Time flies when you’re having fun. I just realised its eight days since I left san Francisco. Days at sea run into each other, there is no demarcation or need for holidays or weekends. When I look at the daily progress on the chart it seems so small but its steady and relentless, day and night until we arrive.
Two years ago, I was not even considering sailing across an ocean by myself. I didn’t even contemplate going to Alaska on a yacht. Once you open your mind to opportunities it’s amazing what you can achieve. One can always find many reasons not to do something – but the fact is you only need one reason to do something.
Today we had the breeze from astern again. Not much sail trimming to be done, just set it up and sit back for the ride. It’s not the fastest sailing but it is relaxing – apart from the occasional rolling. It will be nice if the wind holds steady through the night and not the up and down winds we have been experiencing for the past three nights.
The sun made an appearance after an overcast morning. I had shorts on for a while until it became too chilly in the wind. Still a wind chill, even at twenty-six degrees north. I have the feeling that I should have sailed south for another day before turning westerly. I think the cold air I am experiencing is the tail of the Northerly flow and that is what is causing the disturbance at night. Hopefully it will tail off soon as we get further West
I ran the engine for fifteen minutes. Just to make sure the batteries are topped off. Normally the solar panels take care of all the boats electrical loads and I don’t need to run the engine for electricity. However, the last days have been mainly overcast so I just wanted to make sure I had plenty of electrical juice in the tank.
I just watched ‘A Fish called Wanda’. An old movie and years since I saw it first. Still quite funny as you would expect from John Cleese. Quite a star-studded cast, even a young Stephen Fry has a part in it.
Beer o’clock will be beer this evening. Last night I had Mount Gay Black Barrel rum. Excellent rum, but pretty strong if you have to be up and down playing with sails all night. Voyage distance 1,047 miles.
A BUSY SUNDAY
June 18 2017
For the fourth night in a row we had the crazy winds and seas as the sun went down. This time I was ready with the triple reefed main and staysail set before it hit. I am unable to explain it, I have never experienced it before. Last night the wind didn’t get above 25 knots, more like a gusty 20 knots. The seas were not big, just steep small waves and breaking tops. The result is a nasty motion. By five in the morning normal service had been resumed. In between lots of deck work to keep us sailing in the right direction, its quite tiresome and hope it stops soon.
The only explanation I can give is that we are sailing along the bottom of a large high-pressure system which is bringing cold air down from the north. As this cold flow of air slows it has nowhere to go – so gets absorbed into the warmer air around it. This results in small local disturbances along the bottom of the low pressure. It maybe it happens at sundown when the suns warmth disappears. As i said yesterday maybe we should be another hundred miles south.
Whatever, by mid-morning we were sailing in good conditions, the cold air has completely disappeared, the wind feels warm and dry. I hope the Alaska air has released us.
My bread ran out a few days ago and I have been craving fresh bread. It’s still a bit too bumpy for me to make normal bread so I tried making some unleavened bread. I think the results could have been better. But in the land of no bread home-made unleavened bread is at a premium. At morning Smoko I had fresh brewed coffee and bread with James Keiller Dundee Orange Marmalade. Wonderful fare and really brightened up the morning.
I received news that Team NZ is doing quite well in the Americas Cup. After the previous defeat and the way it occurred it is so important to put up a good strong show. If the rules are applied fairly I have every confidence this sailing team can win the cup back for New Zealand.
When I wrote up the log at noon I noticed that we have less distance to go than we have sailed to date. We are over the halfway point. This is good as my fresh fruit and veg ran out today. I am now starting to think what I will do in Hawaii – a place I have not visited before. I don’t have much information about Hawaii on board – so when I check in at Hilo I will need to get up to speed on local things to do.
I have just watched an episode of Fawlty towers that I had not seen for years. One where Basil gambles on a horse race, wins and then loses his money through a series of incidents. Classic comedy. Voyage distance 1,162 miles.
THE WIND IS MAKING A FOOL OF ME
June 19 2017
Last night the winds were up down and all about. Whatever I did with the sails the wind then undid. In the end I just set the staysail and let Truce go where she wanted, it was far more comfortable and it wasn’t worth the fight. Around three in the morning the cloud cover cleared to reveal all the heavens above. It was a beautiful sight and I made a cup of tea and relaxed under the stars in the cockpit. A special half hour.
I also saw a ship last night. I don’t know what it was, quite large and fast with an unusual configuration of navigation lights. Also, it was not using AIS, an American warship I suspect.
On deck this morning I found the first flying fish. Just a very small minnow but they are around now, scuttling out of the way as we sail towards them. I have never tried eating one – most seamen don’t eat them. They are certainly never on the ships menu. Maybe on Chinese ships, they seem to find a way of cooking almost anything and make it taste good.
Today I have been frustrated again by the winds, both in strength and direction. I have tried just about every sail combination but each time the wind changes and renders my efforts useless. I haven’t done so much deck work since I was Mate on anchor Handling boats in the North Sea. So, I am getting plenty of exercise and not lounging around drinking rum and coke all day – as I would like.
Late afternoon and we are running off to the west as advised by Predict Wind in two meter seas and 25 knots of wind, not a comfortable ride but fine sailing again. The forecast is for this weather to last for another two days before reducing for the run into Hilo. I had expected this part of the voyage to be more settled into the trade pattern but it is not so.
The weather is thankfully warm now and I can feel the suns heat. Very beautiful outside, sparkling blue waters with the sun shining and reflecting off the waves. I noticed the increase in temperature at beer o’clock yesterday, my beer is getting warm! A bit of a worry how to get cold beer without a fridge. Voyage distance 1,267 miles.
June 20 2017
A beautiful sunrise this morning over a rumbustious Pacific, blowing strong from the north east with large swells running through. The sunrise turned into blue skies, fluffy Simpson clouds, sunshine and sparkling seas. Glorious.
A morning round of the deck revealed no flying fish aboard. One did fly into the cockpit last night and I flipped him back over the side. He wasn’t very big but would have been painful in the face. When I was a cadet, I was on a ship that had a black cat. The cat belonged to the second mate. Both cat and second mate were psychotic. The cat would go down on deck and pick up a flying fish, bring it back to the wheelhouse and eat it. A little later the cat would be sick and regurgitate the hardly digested fish on the wheelhouse deck. Guess whose job it was to clean up the mess. The same routine would happen day after day.
The waves continued to pester us as we ran off downwind to the west. One wave slopped into the cockpit (a rare occurrence) and another hit us bang on the stern like a cannon shot and picked up the wooden boarding ladder secured to the pushpit. Fortunately, I had a lashing on it and I managed to hold on to it.
The predict Wind weather routing advises turning to the south in the evening for a relatively clear run down to Hilo. I am looking forward to that. I have been consciously keeping the speed down and reducing stress on the mast partners where I have improvised wedges and a wet towel wrapped around the base of the mast. My theory is that the boat has been in the Pacific Northwest for a long time and the wooden wedges and mash have taken up a lot of moisture. This moisture has reduced in the warmer and dryer climate to the south and the wood has shrunk, allowing a small amount of play leading to a couple of wedges coming lose. The wet towel is my solution to introduce some dampness and keep everything tight. I dont know for sure if its working but the creaking has stopped.
At beer o’clock this evening I sat in the cockpit, waves sparkling all around and listened to Jon Bonamassa ‘an acoustic evening at the Vienna opera house’ album. I had it loud – there is a big ocean to share it with. I tried wrapping the beer cans in a wet cloth and leaving them in the sun as suggested by my friend Paddy. The beer may have been slightly cooler – maybe I need to leave it out for a few hours, I will try again tomorrow. Its all in a good cause. Voyage distance 1,366 miles.
June 21 2017
Last night around nine I turned toward more to the south on run down to Hawaii. We should have big swells for a couple of days and then it gradually subsides the further south we go, according to Predict Wind.
Today has been perfect weather (apart from mountains of swells rolling us around), sunshine, clear skies, sparkling seas – just like the brochure. For a few days, I have been hearing small voices, very faint. On one occasion, I actually went outside and had a look around the sea. I have been at a loss to explain it – I am certainly hearing things but I don’t think I am going crazy. I am not answering to the voices or holding a conversation with them which could be a sign. The only person I speak to on board is Micky, the wind vane self steering.
Today, to my great relief, I discovered where they were coming from. It’s the cockpit drains. There are two drains at the forward end of the cockpit. They drain directly down through a pipe and valve to the sea beneath the cockpit. As the boat moves up and down the water in the pipes makes small voice like sounds and murmurings. That’s it case closed, I am still sane. I now call them my ‘merdrains’
I have had a can of beer wrapped in wet cloth sitting in the sun since midday. I am off to drink it now and see if the evaporation thing works. I will let you know tomorrow. Voyage distance 1,473 miles.
RUNNING DOWN TO HILO
June 22 2017
This morning after breakfast I rigged up the spinnaker pole and flew the jib out to the port side. We are now sailing on a course of 240 degrees direct for Hilo. If the wind holds good we will be there in just a few more days.
Sailing downwind with the jib poled out is very relaxing. Once set up there is little to do apart from checking for wear and chafe. Mickey, the wind vane, takes care of the steering and as long as the swells are not too big it’s a comfortable ride without too much rolling.
Once we were settled on course I got into the galley and turned out some flat bread. Much better than the last effort but still room for improvement. Morning smoko was good with fresh coffee and bread and jam taken al fresco in the cockpit. Happy days.
Beer o’clock yesterday turned into an anti-climax as Paddy’s tip for cooling beer didn’t work for me. I am obviously doing it wrong and don’t have a muslin bag. I will wait until we are in port and have Wi-Fi for the next stage instructions. In the meantime, warm beer is better than no beer. Voyage distance 1,587 miles.
RESORT TO MECHANAL POWER
June 23 2017
All through the night and up to one this afternoon we had a beautiful sail. Steady wind, estimated at twelve to sixteen knots and running very comfortably towards Hilo at between five and six knots. Then suddenly the wind stopped blowing. We went around in circles a few times and then nix, nada, nothing.
By four in the afternoon I gave in trying to sail. On came the Yanmar engine and we resumed a noisy voyage to the south.
I am disappointed as the wind was forecast to be steady and at this time of year should be blowing trade wind style day in day out. Oh well, no use complaining, can’t beat nature. One thing you learn quickly when sailing is patience. The wind will return in its own time.
In the meantime, life on board goes on. The usual daily routines and checks. The usual long debates about what I will eat. I have no fresh fruit or veg on board now, it’s finished. My thoughts are turning towards Hawaii, what to do, where to go and fresh food. Anyway, mustn’t get ahead of myself, need to get there first.
In view of health and safety and the increasingly warm temperatures experienced, beer o’clock has been moved up to midday. The need to keep hydrated has necessitated this move. Five o’clock will now be called sundowners or cocktail hour as appropriate. Voyage distance 1,707 miles.
SAILING INTO THE TROPIC OF CANCER
June 24 2017
Looking at the log book for last night I see I was having a hard time. Sails up and down, in and out, tacking, gybing and engine on. Sometimes reducing sail as going too fast and others just no wind. I was surprised to find we had covered 109 miles noon to noon, a commendable effort in such trying conditions. This life must be good for you, exercise in the fresh air.
Since midday it has been easy street again. Sailing with just the jib poled out to port, making a steady five plus knots in sparkling weather directly towards our destination. Also, an opportunity to catch up on some sleep from the night before.
Today we crossed the imaginary line into the Tropic of Cancer. This line marks the furthest point north the sun will get before heading back to the south again. If you stood on the line at midday of the summer solstice the sun would be directly overhead at noon. The word tropic is derived from a Greek word meaning to turn (that’s what we learned in navigation).
The Greeks were quite good at maths and figuring out what the planets were doing. The ancient Brits were also up to speed on all that stuff – just that being illiterate they couldn’t write it down – they had to explain it in big stone circles
This time last year Truce and I were in Sitka Alaska. Sitka was a really nice place, one of the best towns in Alaska. What a contrast to sailing into Hawaii. I am getting quite excited by it all now and really looking forward to getting ashore in Hilo, only three more days to go.
A small rum and coke will be appropriate for sundowners today, we are in the tropics after all.
Voyage distance 1,816 miles.
STILL ON EASY STREET TO HILO
June 26 2017
I don’t want to jinx my good fortune but we are still running with Jib poled out to port directly down the track to Hilo. If the wind holds true we will be arriving early on Tuesday morning.
This morning I turned again to bread making. I used a new method I thought up that’s easier when we are rocking and rolling at sea. Turned out wonderful, nice fluffy bread with a crisp crust. The galley gets pretty hot with the oven on, not a place to hang around in. The smell of fresh bread is wonderful, one of life’s delights.
I had the first sign of outside human life for over week this morning. On the VHF radio channel 16 part of a broadcast from US Coastguard in Honolulu came in. Must be a rebroadcast from Hawaii I guess. There are a few more seabirds around today but still no other ships to be seen, either visually or on AIS.
I checked out the local VHF radio and AM radio but stations are not coming in yet. Maybe later I will pick up something after sunset. Everybody on board Truce is willing Team NZ on in the Americas Cup, I would love to wake up and hear the news we had won on the radio from Hawaii.
When searching around for food at lunchtime I came across a tin of spam. It looked alluringly at me from the corner of the cupboard – it was saying ‘go on you know you want me’. Yes! I want you and am going to have you I thought. As soon as I stripped off the top of the tin I knew I had fallen into the spam trap again. The sickening pale pink colour and the slight whiff of Pedigree Chum dog food reaffirmed my mistake. I will split it 50:50 with the fishes. Voyage distance 1,929 miles.
CONGRATULATIONS TEAM NEW ZEALAND
June 26 2017
Well I did jinx my good fortune. At daybreak this morning the wind went AWOL. We have been left floundering around, sails slating, constantly trimming trying to get some motion in the right direction. I should know better – when things are going well – keep quiet about it!
The Meteorologist in Hawaii said this unusual weather event will be finished tomorrow and the normal trade winds will set in again. So, nothing for me to do. Just sit tight and wait for wind, only sixty miles offshore Hawaii. It doesn’t really matter when we arrive but I have an itch to get ashore and explore, rolling around out here is not good for crew morale.
I gave Hilo Port a call and let them know I was coming in. They were friendly and said either anchor in the port or find a berth, then check with security what to do. All very casual, sounds good. They just want me to keep clear of a Holland America cruise ship they have arriving at seven thirty.
This morning I received the news that Team New Zealand had won the Americas Cup in Bermuda. This news has made my day. What a fantastic achievement. All the other Oracle tag along contenders didn’t stand a chance, it was always NZ, the black boat, that was the boat to beat. There is a lot of high tech, money, egos and prestige associated with the Americas Cup and for New Zealand to win is spectacular. As for the Aussie Skipper, little Jimmy – make him eat Marmite! I look forward to catching up the action replays later. I suppose NZ will be in party mood today. Voyage distance 2,036 miles.
ARRIVED IN HILO
June 27 2017
Since yesterday we have had very little wind. At noon yesterday we had 77 miles to go and at midnight thirty three remained. By five thirty in the morning in had managed to reduce that to seventeen miles. The small breeze we did get was from the passing rain clouds. So, an executive decision was made to call on Mr. Yanmar to get us into port.
I was hoping to see the Big Island appear on the horizon at daybreak, much as Captain Cook must have seen it. It was no to be, the rain showers and low cloud meant that we didn’t see the land until a couple of miles distant. At nine in the morning we rounded Hilo Breakwater. By ten thirty Truce was Mediterranean Moored in Radio Bay and all secure.
The couple from the boat next door helped me tie up and then brought over a beautiful Papaya. Very welcome and disappeared down the hatch in no time. I then checked in with Boarder protection, an easy process here and it was time to relax.
In the afternoon I went for a walk. The road into town is busy with trucks, noisy, hot and dusty. It’s also a long way into town and I didn’t make it. I got distracted by an area just past Reeds Bay, Liliuokalani Gardens, and the walk along Banyan Drive. Nicely laid out parks and people making good use of them in a relaxed manner. It’s hard to believe this is America.
All the walking in the hot weather was taking its toll, but fortunately I found some place where I could refresh myself. What I have seen so far of Hilo is good, the people are very friendly and relaxed, reminds me a bit of NZ.
The plan tonight is to have a couple of sundowners on the boat, go ashore for an open-air shower and then have a good sleep without interruptions. Tomorrow I want to get the rig tensioned up evenly and fix the mast wedges. Once that is done I will feel happy to put on a bit more sail. Then I want to have a tourist experience of Hilo and maybe visit a Volcano, as recommended by a local. Voyage distance 2,114 miles.
WANDERING IN HILO
June 28 2017
Last night I had a beautiful sleep. The sleep you get when you are tired and the job has been done. No interruptions, no wind shifts and secure in the knowledge that Truce was securely moored fore and aft.
I got off to a late start this morning, my internal clock must have switched to Island time during the night. Anyway, I got the rig tensioned up properly as far as I can tell. The mast wedges are also looking good but I want to put a bit more pressure on the starboard side. As it was lunchtime I decided to go ashore and finish the mast off tomorrow. Besides a job like this always benefits from some more thinking time over a cold beer.
I caught the local bus, that rattled and shook its way into town. One of the things I had to do was get a money order to pay for mooring. The port does not accept cash or credit card, they only accept cheque or bank draft / money order thing. I finally got what I needed from Pay Day Loans for a cost of eighty-eight cents. With money order in hand in made it back to the port before they closed and handed my paper over to the clerk. What a performance and waste of precious time to explore Hilo.
Hilo town is an interesting place and there is a great open-air market that I will explore further tomorrow and stock up on fresh fruit and veg. The variety of colourful shirts on offer is almost too much to take in. Real loud Hawaiian shirts in the worst possible taste – I want to buy them all. Spoilt for choice, I ended up buying nothing. Tomorrow is another day.
Just outside the port gate I found a bar having the essential combination of cold beer and free Wi-Fi. The local brew, Castaway IPA, is to be recommended. So, after a day doing a lot but not seeming to achieve much I returned to Truce for sundowners and a chat with my French neighbours. Early in the evening we had a rain shower, cooled things down nicely. I am listening to Norah Jones greatest hits on the Bose, nice mood music that fits the night well. Now I am looking forward to another peaceful night’s sleep.
MORE WANDERING IN HILO
June 29 2017
My wish for an uninterrupted sleep didn’t materialise. In the early hours of the morning the wind woke me and I found the yacht alongside was coming a bit close. I put a couple of fenders over the side in case we came closer, checked the moorings and all was OK, an hour later the wind had subsided.
Later in the morning I finished the mast work, all is now wedged up tightly and the mast boot securely in place and sealed all around with 3m 4000 sealant. The mast complete I headed ashore in the Rubber Duck and caught the local bus into town for a good scout around. The market had shrunk in size from yesterday – they have big market days and small market days, today was a small market day. I bought some nice Papaya and some veggies.
The town is quite run down. A few tourist shops along the front street and then a lot of vacant buildings in the streets behind. A couple of miles up the road is a big shopping centre with Sears, Macey’s, Walmart, Safeway, Target – all the big brand stores. The shops in the town obviously can’t compete and are closing. Sad because the old town has a nice quirky feel to it.
I didn’t get my Hawaiian shirt today – just didn’t see the killer design I am after. No hurry. Lunch of spicy fish curry was taken at Pineapple restaurant. Nice fresh food washed down with draft Castaway IPA. I am enjoying life.
This evening the American couple Nick and Taylor came over for sundowners. Then a British guy, Ben, turned up from nowhere on a paddle board. He has a boat anchored out in the bay. All up I had a nice relaxing day and entertaining night.
Thoughts are turning to moving on towards Honolulu. The winds around Hawaii are notoriously strong. Particularly in the channels between the islands so good planning is needed for an easy passage. Saturday seems like a good time to head off towards Maui according to the local forecast. I must leave Radio Bay tomorrow as my mooring runs out. I will probably anchor around the corner in Reeds Bay which is closer to town – and free.
NO MORE BACK TO WALL
June 30 2017
Strong winds and rain in the early hours is becoming a tiresome habit. This morning at one the rain squalls came through the harbour and the anchor must have dragged through the soft mud, leaving Truce far too close for comfort off the harbour wall. I was thinking of letting the stern rope go and anchoring out in the bay. Fortunately, the wind decreased and everything remained safe until daylight. Now I know how it feels to have your back to the wall.
After suffering interrupted sleep two nights in a row I decided that I had enough of Radio Bay and Hilo. In the early morning I made preparations to leave. The forecast is for strong North Westerly winds, twenty-five to thirty knots. They will be aft of the beam so nothing too strenuous.
I have decided to make the jump across from the Big Island to Maui. It’s one hundred miles to Maui and entails crossing the Alinuihaha Channel, a notoriously windy place where the trade wins are funnelled between ten thousand foot mountains on one side and five thousand foot mountains on the other.
By eight I was clear of Hilo harbour and motoring up the north coast of the Big Island, no wind but a lumpy sea and big swell. By eleven the wind had set in and we were sailing in beautiful conditions along the coast. What a lovely coastline, the vegetation is vivid green, houses dotted on the hillsides, some large houses with well-manicured gardens and lawns. As the land rises back from the coast it is covered by clouds, nothing can be seen of the mountains beyond. Further up the coast we passed the Waipio Valley, a spectacular stretch of high rugged coastline.
We are aiming for La Perouse Bay on the south side of Maui. This is the first sheltered anchorage after crossing the Alinuihaha Channel from the Big Island. All being well we should be there in the early hours of Saturday morning, safely anchored. I am looking forward to Maui, everyone says it’s a beautiful place.
SAILING FROM BIG ISLAND
July 1 2017
Alinuihaha Channel, you lived up to your reputation and I shall never forget you. The crossing of the Channel was boisterous with tremendous winds and waves experienced just before arriving at the southern tip of Maui. The trip is not to be taken lightly, the first part up to the tip of the big island is along a lee shore with no possible shelter available. Then, when committed to crossing the channel there is little room for bailing out other than running south to the west coast of the Big Island.
We made the one-hundred-mile trip from Hilo to La Perouse Bay in seventeen hours. It could have been much faster but I was trying to keep the speed down to reasonable levels, at one stage I had nine point five showing on the GPS, which is too much.
By one in the morning Truce was anchored in La Perouse Bay, gently pitching and rolling to the low southerly swell entering the bay. When we arrived at La Perouse Bay it was pitch dark and the shore line couldn’t be seen. I could hear the breakers crashing on the rocks but couldn’t tell how far off they were. It was a relief at daylight to see that we had found the right anchor spot.
La Perouse Bay is quite scenic but not much happening there, unless you are into snorkelling. The water is crystal clear, I could easily see the anchor on the bottom in ten meters. The Bay is surrounded with volcanic basalt type rock, a bit like Rangitoto in New Zealand but on a bigger scale. After breakfast, I decided to move to the Sugar Beach in Maalaea Bay. I had good reports about the place, cafes, restaurants, farmers market, bus into town, nice beach etc.
Upon arrival at Sugar Beach, at two in the afternoon, the wind was howling, about twenty-five knots from onshore. I anchored, the anchor held. Now I am sitting on board listening to the wind howling in the rigging as Truce bobs around the anchor. I can’t go ashore, it’s too windy to leave the boat and I am sure the rubber duck would be blown over the horizon in no time. So, frustration has set in, I can see the shore, I can hear the shore, I can smell the shore but can’t get there at the moment.
The wind is expected to reduce as the sun goes down and the land cools. By ten in the evening we can expect calm conditions and the cycle repeats itself the next day with wind building from ten in the morning. The local radio here calls them strong trade winds.
During my time here I have only encountered two other cruising boats. The lack of sheltered anchorages and ports means that cruisers mainly avoid the place. Hawaii is a major crossroads on the cruising circuit but it seems most go the established marinas in Honolulu where there are full facilities and services before sailing onwards.
July 2 2017
By the time the wind had died down last night it was too late to go ashore, never mind, I had a couple of glasses of Mount Gay and settled in to watch a movie. I watched an Australian film ‘Wolf Creek’ quite nasty and blood thirsty and based upon a true story. It didn’t give me any bad dreams and I slept like a baby.
This morning I put the kayak in the water and headed off to shore. On approaching the beach, I was met by a bunch of people hurling some serious abuse at me in a vociferous manner. They were making it clear that I was not wanted and that I should take my boat and head out. Well, the natives were certainly restless, there was no point in going ashore if that was the reception, no way I could leave the inflatable kayak on the beach unattended. Instead I went for a kayak along the shore and used some muscles I had forgotten existed.
Later in the day I spoke to an American couple on a boat about this unusual incident and they said they had heard there was a group of people at that place that were hostile to anyone using the beach from boats. What a shame, they live in near paradise and still have anger management problems. Oh well, another stitch in the rich tapestry of life.
Papaya for breakfast. What a great breakfast fruit with some fresh lemon squeezed on. The papaya here is the best I have tasted since Nigeria. After breakfast, I picked up the anchor and sailed across to Maalaea Harbour to see if they had a transient berth available. I didn’t like the look of the place so headed back out and down the coast towards Mc Gregor Point past some lovely secluded sandy beaches. At Mc Gregor point the wind switched from fifteen knots to zero, you could clearly see the wind line on the water.
My next stop was Lahaina Harbour. I poked my nose in, its quite tight inside, not much room to turn around. I tried call in the harbourmaster but the office is shut until Monday. I will call again, I hope they have a berth available for a couple of nights. The town from the sea looks great and I would like to spend some time there.
This evening I anchored at Mala, just along the coast from Lahaina. As soon as I had anchored an American couple arrived, Hayden and Marina, in an inflatable, asking if I needed anything and offered to run me ashore to the shops. They had watched me sail into the anchorage and seen the New Zealand flag. I happily accepted their offer for a run ashore and now have fresh milk, cheese, eggs, fruit and veg on board. The fruit and veg here is awesome, looks like it’s just been collected from the garden and tastes wonderful.
I will cook something delicious and fresh tonight and then plan to watch the movie Salmon fishing in Yemen. Sounds bizarre.
JUMP FROM MAUI TO MOLOKAI
July 3 2017
This morning I picked up the hook and headed over to Lahaina Harbour to enquire about a berth. Unfortunately, the harbour master informed me she had no berths available. I was disappointed, I really wanted to go ashore in Lahaina and just as importantly I wanted to tie up alongside a berth and to walk ashore. There are some mooring buoys outside the marine but I didn’t fancy using the dinghy to get ashore and coming back in the dark.
I decided to move on. Soon I was headed across the Pailolo Channel towards Molokai. The trade wind between the islands picked up strongly, with a handkerchief sized jib and triple reefed main we blasted across at eight plus knots, spray and seawater everywhere. Around two in the afternoon we reached the south coast of Molokai and ran west along the coast with the wind astern. I took all sail down and we ran bare poles, in comfort, with the wind vane steering down towards Kaunakakai Harbour.
By three thirty we were anchored in Kaunakakai Harbour. The guide says the wind howls through the harbour – its correct, its been howling all afternoon. The Coastguard are warning of these strong winds continuing until Thursday. Oh, how I long for the snug anchorages of Alaska, BC and New Zealand.
Kaunakakai is a commercial harbour and there is a tug and barge alongside the wharf. One other yacht came into the harbour and anchored in the afternoon. I watched him motor in from the west, it took him some time, motoring into the wind, must have been a rough ride. We haven’t talked yet as we are separated by wind and waves.
Last night I watched ‘Salmon Fishing in Yemen’. An unusual movie and I enjoyed it. Better than cutting up bodies in the outback from the night before. Don’t have anything on my watchlist tonight.
I cracked a couple of beers for sundowners. Heineken is about the only beer I have that can be drunk warm and I found that dinking from a pot mug makes it better. The Captain then issued an extra tot of rum for a good hard sail today. That made me happy. Sundowners was accompanied by Pavarotti tonight. I have no idea what he is singing about really, but the sound he makes is incredible. I was fortunate enough to see him live in Auckland, what a presence and voice.
Early in the morning when all is quiet, before the wind picks up, I will go ashore and have an explore. I don’t know how long I will stay here, I will see what I can find. There are not many places to go between here and Honolulu and I haven’t managed to get a berth in Honolulu yet, the marinas all seem to be booked up..
A WINDY DAY IN KAUNAKAKAI
July 4 2017
This morning I launched the Kayak and paddled ashore for a look around the town. I was in town by eight so it was a little early and today is the 4th July, Independence Day. America has not done bad since independence – but think how much more they could have achieved if still governed by the UK. They would even have a Queen – which they sadly miss.
Anyway, the town is small but has everything a cruising sailor could wish for. A library for free Wi-Fi, grocery store, hardware store, Berger bar, ATM’s, café and assorted small stores. I didn’t have much time to play with as I knew the wind would kick in at ten and I needed to be back on the boat by then.
As predicted the wind kicked in at ten and it blew even harder than yesterday. I moved anchorage to a spot further into the harbour and a bit further from the reef, which is still only 45 meters away. As Truce was sailing around the anchor in the strong gusts I dropped the 35 lbs Bruce over the bow on a short line, this helped reduce the swing.
Well, the wind blew all day until six in the evening. The boat next to me broke its mooring and drifted past me. Nothing I could do to stop it and less than a minute later it was crunching and grinding on the reef just astern. A total loss I would expect. So sad. I had the engine ready to go in case we dragged but thankfully the anchor held. There were a number of big turtles in the anchorage, so unusual to see them swimming around.
At six, after the wind had died down I paddled ashore in the kayak and went for a walk. Then had a freshening cold-water shower on the jetty. I love cold water showers in the tropics – you come out feeling so fresh and alive.
This evening is calm, the stars are out and the locals are treating me to a firework display on the jetty. The jetty seems to be the place to go in town, here is a constant stream of cars up and down all day and night.
Tomorrow I will take it easy, wait for the easterly trade wind to set in and then get blown further down the coast of Molokai. I am still trying to get a berth in Honolulu, didn’t have much luck today as it’s a public holiday.
A VISIT TO LONO HARBOUR
July 5 2017
The fireworks display last night was quite monotonous, all the fireworks seemed the same roman candle type things. No whiz bangs or bombs. Maybe they are not allowed here.
I awoke this morning early, someone was launching a boat from the jetty and making a big noise about it. Oh well, it was a nice cool morning and after a cup of tea and fresh Papaya taken in the cockpit I was ready to go. My plan was to wait for the easterly trades to set in around ten. But I was impatient this morning, the anchor was up just after eight and we motored out of Kaunakakai Harbour. The wind outside was light from the west so we sailed back the way we had come for an hour. Then the east wind kicked in and we were pushed down the coast towards Lono harbour.
Today was only a short hop, I only had the staysail up and we ran downwind at between three and four knots close along the coastline, just outside the reef line. The land here is dry and brown coloured, no roads, houses or signs of habitation.
By one in the afternoon we were anchored in Lono Harbour along with one other boat. Lono is a small sheltered harbour, not used by any commercial traffic any more. There is nothing ashore here, just a dusty dry track to somewhere.
Shortly after anchoring the boat was visited by numerous honey bees. They were looking for water. I put a bowl of water on the foredeck and put out some wet cloths. Word got around quick and within an hour there were hundreds of bees at the water bowl, which I kept topped up. The bees ere obviously very thirsty but I also understand they can take water to the hive and somehow use it to cool the hive through evaporation using their wings. As the sun went down the bees disappeared ashore.
The wind blew quite hard in the afternoon then started to die off at six, when I launched the Kayak and went ashore for a walk. I walked to the top of the hill overlooking the harbour. A long dusty hot walk but the views from the top are worth it. My major discomfort were prickly thorns that penetrated through the soles of my flip flops.
I have managed to secure a berth at the Waikiki yacht club for tomorrow night. Berths in Honolulu are as rare as hen’s teeth now as the Trans Pac yacht race is headed this way. I think there are fifty plus boats that potentially need to be berthed this year. Anyway, once in Honolulu I hope to be able to secure a berth somewhere / somehow so I can receive my visitors arriving next week.
The last time I had an alongside berth was over a month ago now. I have a heap of laundry and things to get sorted and the boat to get cleaned up. The sort of things you need to be alongside to do properly.
In the morning I will say goodbye to Molokai and set out across the Kaiwi Channel to Honolulu. It should be a good sail, the forecast is for fifteen to twenty-five knots easterly wind.
SAILING MOLOKAI TO OAHU
July 6 2017
Last night was a restless, the wind was blustery and fretful. Nothing severe, but every so often a gust of wind to bring Truce hard up on the anchor chain and make the snubber complain.
At six the sun was starting to pop up and the anchor was up as well, we headed out of Lono Harbour. Once outside we motored for thirty minutes and then picked up the breeze at Laau Point, at the west end of Molokai. Once we picked up the wind it was a beautiful sail all the way across to Oahu, a broad reach in fifteen to twenty knots of wind and sparkling seas.
All too soon, by midday we were off Diamond Head (where the Transpac race finishes) with only had a couple of miles to run into the entrance channel to the marina. At one in the afternoon we were all secure alongside the Waikiki Yacht Club marina in Honolulu. The people at the Yacht Club were all very welcoming and friendly. I have been enjoying the facilities, showers, cold beer, fresh salads and human company. This is the first time we have been alongside a berth since San Francisco, its nice to be able to walk ashore.
Truce is moored along side a gleaming Swan yacht and looks a little worn and faded in such company. Sun and saltwater have contributed to the weather beaten look and a few rust stains. I will get to work getting her cleaned up and looking her best during the coming week. I am working on the marina staff to get the mooring extended for a few days more if possible.
Everyone here is getting geared up for the arrival of the Transpac race which is held every two years. The first big boats are on the way from Los Angeles and expected to arrive in the next few days. They will cover the two thousand plus miles much faster than I did.
July 7 2017
I had a nice relaxing evening in the Waikiki Yacht Club bar last night. Just gossiping and catching up with some other people’s perspective on the world. Then I retired to Truce and had a good night’s rest.
This morning I was up early out of habit and did a few small jobs around the boat. Then I did the laundry run. I have a few more days booked in the marina so can relax a bit. In the afternoon, I trekked up to West Marine for a couple of bits I need to do some maintenance. It was a long hot walk, I came back via the beach and had a little paddle to cool the feet off. The water is quite warm, almost warm enough for swimming I think.
The hustle and bustle of Honolulu is in contract to the other parts of Hawaii I have visited. The cars here are shiny, they have stretch limo’s and four lane highways. Then there are the police and ambulance sirens, all very noisy. I didn’t see this level of wealth and affluence on the other islands.
This evening there was a great firework display. Proper fireworks, big starbursts and loud bangs. Tomorrow I will check out the tourist information place and see what activities are on offer. I will wait for my daughter Jessica and my friend Richard to arrive next week before doing the tourist stuff.
In the meantime, I will chill out and write a log when anything interesting happens. The next big event could be on Sunday when the first of the Transpac boats could arrive. I think it will be a big trimaran it was doing thirty knots earlier today – insane speed, can’t be very comfortable.
MAINTENANCE DAYS IN HONOLULU
July 10 2017
This stop in Honolulu is providing an excellent opportunity to catch up with some maintenance that I have been unable to attend to whilst moving around at sea. In fact, it’s the only period of downtime alongside I have had since departing from Canoe Cove in BC. In Canoe Cove my focus was on getting everything working after winter lay-up. Now my focus is on maintaining all the working equipment and systems needing some care after sailing to Hawaii.
Today was winch servicing day. A full day working on the boats winches. By the end of the day I had services all six cockpit winches and the Maxwell anchor windlass. The Lewmar winches are a delight to service, so simple to strip down, just a Philips screwdriver needed. It seems that the secret of good design is always simplicity. The winches on the mast are next in line when I get the time.
Today saw the first two boats of the Transpac arrive in the Ala Wai boat Harbour. Both are trimarans of the foiling type. The speeds these boats get up to is fantastic, both came from Los Angeles in four days something.
The pace of sailing development is incredible. We see monohulls averaging twenty knot runs over twenty-four hours. Americas Cup boats that seem to defy the laws of physics. Single handed round the world sailors achieving speeds that were unthinkable just a few years ago. I wonder how long it will be before one of the big production boatbuilders, French probably, launches a foiling cruising boat operated by computers.
This afternoon I rigged the canvas awning over the boat. I should have done it earlier! The cabin is now shaded and much cooler. The aft end of the shade I pull forward otherwise it covers the solar panels that I rely on for electrical power. Only three more days before the first of my guests arrives. It will be good to have company again.
MORE MAINTENANCE IN HONOLULU
July 11 2017
Today I really got into the cleaning and maintenance spirit. One thing led to another and before I knew it lunchtime had arrived. Today it was bilge cleaning, inside deck scrubbing, carpet washing and overhauling the Whale Gusher 25 bilge pump. Doesn’t sound too much but it kept me occupied most of the day.
I didn’t get out and about today, all day confined in Waikiki Yacht Club marina. Tomorrow I need to explore a bit more. I also need to get some fresh fruit and veg – fresh papaya for breakfast is essential. My hunt for Nido milk powder continues – all I can find is fat free milk powder and it tastes like cardboard. What is it with the USA – everything seems to be fat free. I have also come to the conclusion that fat free and low sugar stuff makes you fat. Everyone I see drinking Diet Coke or buying low fat produce is overweight, that cant be coincidence.
The three leading Transpac trimarans have now all arrived in Ala Wai. The first boat was Mighty Merloe with a time of 4 days 6 hours and 33 minutes. They broke the 20-year-old Transpac trimaran record that was held by a French boat. Maserati (the favourite) came in third after hitting something at sea and damaging one of her rudders.
The second boat, Phfedo is moored on the same dock as Truce and I watched their arrival last night. They have actually done the route in 3 days 16 hours but not in the Transpac race. What strikes me about these boats is how light they are and how simple the rig seems to be. Phfedo has a six-man crew, I don’t expect they get much luxury or relaxation in the tight confines of a slender centre hull.
GREAT COMPANY IN HONOLULU
July 17 2017
On Thursday, my daughter Jessica arrived in Honolulu. On Friday, my friend Richard arrived. So good to have company after being solo since San Francisco. I haven’t seen Jessica since last December and Richard for a few years so we all have a lot of catching up to do.
On Sunday we did some boat maintenance in the morning and then set off to Hanauma Bay for some snorkelling. What a beautiful bay and the water over the shallow reef is teaming with tropical fish. The water was nice and warm – even I was happy to go in. Of course, the sun was hot and after a while we had to depart for some refreshments. We plan to do a trip to Pearl Harbour and hope to get out of town to see come of the north coast before Richard departs on Friday.
Yesterday we did a mixture of shopping, eating, drinking and just hanging around. We managed to find an acoustic guitar for Jessica to take on the trip. I am expecting to be entertained with some music and singing along the way now.
I have been getting a small amount of water in the bilge recently and was at a loss to where it was coming from. Finally, I found a pin prick hole in the bilge hose in the engine room. The hole was probably started when the dripless seal was being installed in Canoe Cove. Anyway, it was a relief to find the source of the water. With Richards help we have run a new hose from the pump to the over-side discharge and the bilge in dry again. So easy to do this kind of job with an extra pair of hands around.
Jessica and I plan to sail on Friday to Kiritimati, some twelve hundred miles south of Honolulu. The boat is ready, we just need to do some final provisioning and top up water, fuel and cooking gas before we set off. I am looking forward to the next leg south as Jessica will be on board to share the experience.
DAY OUT ON OAHU
July 18 2017
We all had a wonderful day out on Ohau today. A very kind gentleman we met at the yacht club, Don, offered to take us the North Shore.
Don picked us up shortly after nine and we headed out of town. Very nice to get out of the city and see some of the countryside and beautiful beaches.
Don stopped of at a shrimp truck along the way and we ate beautiful fresh garlic and lemon shrimp with rice. Simple fresh food is always the best. Then we headed on and found the best Mai Tai on the Island.
On the way back to Honolulu we stopped to fill up our cooking gas cylinder, buy a jerry can of diesel and some dry provisions for the upcoming voyage. We are now topped up with Gas, Diesel, water and just need a few more provisions and fresh food before heading out on Friday.
Both Jessica and I are ready to depart now, we have had our fill of Honolulu and want to get to sea. Kiritimati and the adventure ahead is calling.
PREPARING TO DEPART HONOLULU
July 20 2017
Last night we attended a great party at the Honolulu Yacht Club. All the Transpac race boats have now finished so there was a great celebration and lots of sailor stories. The food, wine and music were excellent with good company.
This morning was a little subdued. We spent the day doing odd jobs and getting the boat ready for the voyage ahead. Not much to do really, Truce is ready to go, she is almost straining at her moorings to get out of here. Jessica and I feel the same way and are looking forward to leaving tomorrow.
A trip to Walmart allowed us to top up with dry provisions and to load additional fresh water bottles. It’s going to be a hot trip and we will need plenty of drinking water. We don’t have a fridge or freezer on board so the selection of dry goods and canned provisions is important to maintain a healthy diet.
Richard will be departing early tomorrow morning and we had a final lunch together at a Vietnamese restaurant, the Pho Saigon. The food was excellent and fresh – pity we didn’t find it earlier.
This evening we have another party at the Waikiki Yacht club. I am sure by tomorrow morning the call of the sea, open ocean, solitude and Kiritimati will be stronger than ever.
DEPARTING HAWAII NEXT STOP KIRITIMATI
July 21 2017
Last night was the Waikiki Yacht Club party. Another great party and I am partied out and ready for sea. I need to dry out.
Richard departed early this morning, back to the mainland USA. Now its just Jessica and myself to undertake the final preparations for the voyage. First was the US Immigration and Boarder Protection at Pier 1. The clearing out formalities were straight forward and the cost reasonable at nineteen dollars. We then bought the fresh provisions, fruit and vegetables.
Once back at the marina I topped off the fresh water tanks for the final time before we let go around one in the afternoon. As we exited the entrance channel to Ala Wai marina the gentle lift of the swell under the keel felt good. A stiff breeze was blowing and soon we had staysail and reefed jib up doing six plus knots in the right direction, south. Sailing away from land towards a clear horizon is always special, especially on a small boat. I am looking forward to the days ahead.
I expect the first couple of days out will be a bit frustrating until we clear the wind shadow of the big island. Then we should have clear wind until we reach the doldrums before Kiritimati. Only another eleven hundred miles to go.
CURSE OF THE CAMEMBERT
July 22 2017
Last night Jessica and I dined on salad, crackers and camembert cheese in the cockpit under the stars. An hour later I had stomach cramps, then Jessica got it. We were both violently sick. The Camembert was the culprit. It left us both feeling a bit under the weather for a while. No more camembert on board fortunately, or the fish would be suffering.
As expected, the escape from Hawaii is proving to be frustrating and tiring. After a good start we ran into areas of calm and light airs interspaced with rain squalls. All day we have been searching out wind, tacking, gybing, drifting becalmed, and motoring. The torrential rain from the squalls has cleaned the Honolulu dust and grime off the boat nicely but the sailing is a bit exasperating at the moment.
Hopefully tomorrow we can break free from the island effect and head south with the easterly trades. Voyage distance 106 miles.
BREAKING FREE FROM HAWAII
July 23 2017
Wind holes, rain clouds and general difficulty in breaking free from the Hawaiian Island chain. This afternoon we are 145 miles east of the Big Island and still in its wind shadow. Frustration gave way to action at three this afternoon, I started the engine and motored to the south. After two hours we had not found any wind – I gave it an extra hour and at six in the evening we found the edge of the wind, shut down the engine and started sailing again.
The wind is coming from the South South East and not the East as expected and forecast. This means we are sailing on a close reach but still can’t lay our course south. We are crashing over the waves at an angle, a bit uncomfortable. We Have been dodging to the south through a minefield of large rain clouds interspaced with calm patches and squalls.
I expect the wind will go around to the East in a couple of days and we can make our easting before the doldrums and crossing to Kiritimati. Our days run the last 24 hours was a disappointing one hundred miles. But considering how long we spent becalmed it’s not too bad. Three of those hours were on the engine – I will take it.
Jessica and I are still slightly affected by the dodgy camembert we consumed a couple of days ago. We decided to have some good food, lunch today was pasta with pesto, fresh tomatoes, basil and dried salami. It turned out pretty good. I then had a go at making cornbread. Its edible and the next batch will be way better.
This morning we had a dolphin fish on the line, unfortunately he managed to escape before we landed him in the boat. A nice small size – perfect eating. Not that we are disappointed, now we know the lure is OK and there are fish in the sea waiting to be caught. Voyage distance 206 miles.
MAKING GOOD TIME SOUTH
July 24 2017
We have found some clear wind and are now making good time to the south. The wind prediction and forecast is for easterly wind, we have been experiencing winds between south east and east south east. This has meant that we continue to sail on a close reach as we try and make some easting. Over the last 24 hours we have been running almost due south and only achieved a gain of three miles to the east.
Although its not the most comfortable point of sailing we have become accustomed to dropping into and crashing off waves. But, it would be nice for the wind to move around to the east and let us have some freedom to bear off onto a reach. The pilot chart shows a ninety percent chance of winds from the east or north east for this time of year so I am banking on the law of averages to deliver some easterly wind in the next couple of days.
No fish have taken our lure since the near miss yesterday. In fact, we haven’t seen much aquatic activity, no flying fish have landed on deck since sailing from Honolulu.
Jessica and I are doing six-hour watches, with me doing the midnight to six in the morning watch. Very nice to have company and share the sailing load. I am really enjoying having nice long sleep periods and more relaxed knowing someone is on watch. Spare time is taken up with books and movies. Unfortunately, it’s too bouncy on board for the guitar just yet.
The weather is getting hot now. We rigged an additional shade over the cockpit yesterday which helps as the sun is always from astern on the trip south. Everybody is now healthy on board after the camembert episode. Of course, there is considerable discussion about the menu and what concoction we are going to serve up next, food always becomes a priority when at sea, no matter what size of vessel.
One luxury we still have on board is cold beer. I topped up the ice chest before leaving the Waikiki Yacht Club. We also have a couple of bottles of cold New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on board courtesy of Richard. I reckon another two or three days maximum before the ice is gone. Voyage distance 343 miles.
A NIGHT OF SQUALLS
July 25 2017
It started last night around seven. First an unsettling motion and confused sea and then a night of squalls. I was up all night trying to get through without losing to much of the precious ground we had made to the east. We succeeded getting twenty-three miles to the east and also came out with a reasonable days run.
We are still heading into the wind on the port tack and shipping heavy spray. We have all the deck hatches shut and its hot inside the boat now. It was even hotter than normal this morning when I produced some blueberry muffins. Much to the delight of Jessica.
The latest forecast is for twenty knot winds for the next two days. At the moment, I am hove to, jogging into a twenty-five knot wind and big sea for some rest and recuperation. We may stay like this for a few hours before heading on. No point in hurrying to get beaten up. Also disappointing is the latest Predict Wind forecast for the doldrums. They are now showing them expanding could take days to cross.
So, a big change in the forecast and I am not a happy camper. A simple trade wind run is turning into a long haul. We will just take it easy and assess the situation later. Voyage distance 465 miles.
FRESH FISH TODAY
July 26 2017
We Jogged slowly to windward all afternoon yesterday until eight thirty in the evening. This allowed the worst of the weather to pass south of us and gave us a break to catch up on some sleep and have a decent dinner. Truce pinches to windward under triple reefed main and staysail at between two and four knots with the wind vane handling steering duties, its quite comfortable (relatively).
Jogging today reminded me of what we called ‘dodging’ in the North Sea. When the weather was too bad to work the rigs or installations we used to run the supply boat up to windward for a few miles before turning and running downwind. A process repeated until the weather improved. The strategy was to steam up wind as slow as possible to give an easy motion. As running back downwind was always much more comfortable the trick was to time your coming off watch with getting close to the end of the upwind line – you then had time to get to your cabin and tucked up in bed for the restful downwind leg.
The whole day today was overcast with some incredibly heavy rain showers. We used the rain run off to top up the fresh water tanks. Due to missing sun, we had to resort to running the engine for battery charging, the solar panels being ineffective. On board, we have two fifty-watt solar panels, this is sufficient to run the always on loads of GPS and VHF radio. Other on-board equipment such as phones, laptops, cameras etc are charged daily through a USB charging station directly from the house battery. The only item on board requiring the AC power inverter is the Bose Mini Soundlink.
Our fishing lure was not producing much action so we changed it for a squid looking thing. Almost immediately Jessica caught a dorado – seems they like squid. A nice size fish, we will have Thai fish curry this evening. Of course, catching a fish from a sailing boat is not ideal, the boat must be slowed down to drag the fish in. I dropped the staysail, furled the jib and headed into the wind – Jessica was on line hauling duties and had a workout at the same time. The fish was landed quickly and we got back up to speed quite quickly.
The latest weather download shows the doldrums getting more extensive by the day. I hope in this case the weather prediction is wrong again. Voyage distance 560 miles.
FIVE HUNDRED MILES FROM KIRITIMATI
July 27 2017
We are now five hundred miles from Kiritimati. A large area of calms is showing up in front of us and appears to be growing by the day. This is the ITCZ, an area of calms, thunderstorms and variable winds we need to cross before Christmas Island. The current weather is overcast with rain, the winds are getting lighter as each hour passes.
The wind is still on the port bow, as it has been since the first day out of Honolulu. Truce is still moving along nicely as we continue to work our way to the south with an allowance to the east. I think that by late this evening the wind will be very light and the fun starts.
Once again the solar panels are not putting out enough charge to keep us topped up. I have switched off some non-essential items to conserve power until we can get a nice sunny day. The combination of short tropical days and continuous overcast skies is something I hadn’t counted on.
Last night’s fresh Dolphinfish Thai fish curry was excellent. Jessica did a fantastic job of cooking in a galley that was jumping around – not chef friendly. We decided not to have rice with the curry and cooked pasta instead. Neither Jessica or I like cooking rice without a rice cooker (one of mans great inventions) – it always sticks to the pan and needs cleaning off. I am sure the Thai’s and Italians wouldn’t approve the mix, but there are not here. It was good, we are both well fed. Voyage distance 695 miles.
INTO THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)
July 28 2017
No sooner had I written the words ‘ I think the fun will start this evening’ in my log yesterday afternoon than the wind suddenly died. We had entered the ITCZ, the doldrums of old. I had to drop all sail as we were sitting stationary and rolling around with sails slapping back and forth
An hour later a southerly breeze set in and we sailed slowly through the night in beautiful calm conditions under a canopy of stars. In the early hours of the morning it became quite cold and I had to reach for a long-sleeved shirt to keep warm.
The day has been spent trying to keep the boat moving and heading in the right direction and avoid getting to the west of the track. Everything we try always sends us back to the west, making it more difficult to reach our destination. But, we are not getting too stressed about it, the right wind will come when its ready. Its an enjoyment to have calm weather and some nice flat sailing in sunshine after being on the wind under a cloud for so long.
Our mileage today noon to noon was not that flash, only seventy one miles, I expect tomorrows will be even shorter if the weather forecast is correct. Our track on the chart is starting to look like hieroglyphics. Jessica and I discussed trying to write our names on the plotter with the ships track. But concluded we would actually need to have some wind to achieve that feat. Voyage distance 766 miles.
DALLYING IN THE DOLDRUMS
July 29 2017
So far, the light and variable airs of the doldrums is suiting us fine. Jessica remarked how nice it was to have some flat sailing and not be constantly banging and crashing to windward. I can’t argue with that sentiment. The temperature here is almost perfect, the daytime temperature in the shade is not excessive and the breeze is cooling. In the evening the temperature is perfect for lounging around in T shirt and shorts.
The seas are now finally calm enough for the guitar to come out. I was fortunate to have Jessica singing and playing guitar on her watch while I cat napped in the cabin below.
A minor tragedy is the end of cold beer, the ice in our icebox finally disappearing overnight. The reamaing cans in the icebox were still cool, with moisture beads on them. For a moment, I had the urge to drink them all before they turned warm – then realised how irrational that would be.
Last night we had sundowners followed by diner in the cockpit. The sunset was spectacular with the sun backlighting some grand cloud formations. We then settled back to watch a movie, tonight’s showing was ‘Turks and Caicos’. An unusual British movie with a host of familiar stars. I have seen it before but it was a new movie for Jessica – well worth a look.
All evening Truce had been sailing South on a light easterly breeze, doing about four knots. This is fantastic sailing, the sea is calm and the sky full of stars. This is a beautiful quiet magic carpet ride. Voyage distance 811 miles.
INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ) TRANSIT
July 30 2017
Another day of slow but steady progress. yesterday we only managed forty five to noon. Today we made a more respectable one hundred and three noon to noon. So far, we have been fortunate with the weather in the ITCZ and have even managed to make ground to the east. We are now positioned to the east and upwind of Christmas Island. Hopefully, that will put us in a good safe upwind position for the final run in. Sailing in this place is a challenge. Constantly shifting and variable winds mean that each mile gained is earned.
A couple of dolphins came to visit today, they stayed about thirty minutes. I am not sure what type they were, both were quite small and seemed to stay under water for longer than normal before coming up for air. They obviously enjoyed our company as we did theirs.
This evening I took a rum and coke for sundowners. Then realised we hadn’t bought any limes or lemons before departing Honolulu. I think that after we had our clearance out of Honolulu Jessica and I were so ready to depart that we didn’t pay much attention to the last-minute vegetable or fresh fruit shopping. But never mind, Rum can be drink without fruit perfectly well.
The movie this evening was ‘Whiplash’. Once again viewed in the cockpit under starlight. Another beautiful sunset and night. Voyage distance 914 miles.
STILL IN THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)
July 31 2017
Today turned out to be a bit of a non-event. The intent was to sail south, pick up the easterly traded and then carry on to Christmas Island. But, events last night and this morning have postponed our breakout from the ITCZ for another day. Last night I had convinced myself that we were getting out of the ITCZ, I was wrong.
Firstly, late last night turned into an epic of calms, blows and torrential rain. We appeared to be in a giant rain cloud arena. Every time we got into the vicinity of a rain cloud the wind picked up and we ended up a couple of miles further west than when we started. Then the wind died completely and I had to take all sail off the boat as we were rolling in a choppy sea, the sails were on a mission to self-destruct.
The second saga started this morning with torrential rain, no wind just buckets of rain from eight to mid-day. Now we have plenty of fresh water on board, have taken showers, washed hair and are smelling civilised again.
All this palaver meant we didn’t sail out of where we were parked up. I have tried to lay a course south but the wind is coming from that direction and we just keep getting pushed west again. Predict Wind is advising I go south west and then south. This seems a risky proposition so I have decided to head east for a few hours (if the wind holds). When the wind comes around I will see it and can then head southwards towards Christmas Island. There is also a current that is pushing us west a few miles each day. Christmas Island is only a couple of hundred miles away but proving difficult to get to today.
We haven’t seen the sun for twenty four hours and the batteries missed their their solar fix. So, we had to run the engine again.
Yesterday I made a couple of small loaves of bread. By breakfast this morning it had all gone. I will need to make bigger loaves next time. Making bread on a moving boat must be great exercise, sure to strengthen the core body muscles.
The Truce film club watched ‘Groundhog Day’ last night. I have seen it a couple of times but it was a premier for Jessica. It was good fun.
Our noon to noon dropped to fifty three miles, slow going but we are still happy to be making ground towards our destination. Voyage distance 967 miles.
FREE OF THE INTER TROPICAL CONVERGENCE ZONE (ITCZ)
August 1 2017
Yesterday afternoon I tacked east and after a few hours the wind started to back around and I could head south again. We are close hauled on the port tack again with the wind from south of east. The motion became quite violent on board as Truce was jumping off waves and crashing into the following one. I have reduced sail to double reefed main, staysail and small yankee to preserve body and boat. We should still make Christmas Island in two days if the wind does not go any more south.
The sunrise this morning was magnificent. Blue skies and high cloud. No more ITCZ. We spent four days in there and had two wonderful nights slow sailing, dining and watching movies in the cockpit. We also had two not so good nights.
This morning I did my bread making workout. Quite an effort when going to windward. Hopefully this batch will last a couple of days. The smell of freshly baked bread makes everyone hungry.
The Truce movie appreciation society watched the first ‘Men in Black’ movie last night. Jessica’s choice. I have seen it a couple of times previously, it was a family favourite with the children – but still entertaining to watch again.
Talk is now turning to Christmas Island and what we will do when we get there. Important items include go for a long walk (Jessica), fresh fruit, laundry and cold beer (me), snorkelling, fresh fish, fresh vegetables, sleep and hang out with the locals. Christmas Island is on GMT plus fourteen hours, we will need to adjust a day before we get there as we are currently on GMT minus ten. Slow progress again today. Voyage distance 1,026 miles.
ARRIVED CHRISTMAS ISLAND
August 4 2017
This morning I saw the loom of Christmas Island lights in the distance, off the port bow before sunrise. I was a bit surprised, I didn’t think the place was big enough to light up the horizon. It always feels good to make landfall as expected – even in the GPS age when the average muppet can navigate like a pro. I think this is a symptom of my earlier life before GPS when making landfall was satisfying and sometimes a relief.
It took a few more hours for us to work our way into Cook Passage against a stiff head on trade wind. I aborted our first attempt to get into the Cook Passage and past the first set of reefs – we headed out on the track we had come in on to revaluate. Something was not right – the breaking water on the reefs did not seem to correspond with the charted reefs. I have a BA paper chart and two electronic charts – a comparison between the three gave a bit more confidence, the reef is not marked on any charts but the paper chart shows thirty decimetres water depth, hence the breaking water. Once that was sorted out and the situation reassessed I made another go and found my way into a position just off London town in shallow water.
The radio operator on Christmas Island radio advised me to anchor anywhere I felt comfortable. Basically, that was nowhere. There is a beautiful protected deep lagoon just off the town which I wanted to enter. Unfortunately, the lagoon entrance is shallow and only available to shallow draft vessels, larger boats must anchor outside. The anchorage area is exposed to the trade winds and on a lee shore – we won’t be venturing too far from the boat on our trips ashore.
The immigration, customs, police and associated people wanted to come out to Truce to clear us in. When they saw the small size of our dinghy and the choppy sea they asked me to bring the ships papers ashore. A much better arrangement. Clearing in was done on a bench in a boatyard and was a happy affair. I must go to their office on Tuesday to clear out – when no doubt they will hit me with a fee.
I discovered that Monday is a public holiday here – national youth day I think. Saturday most things are shut, but cold beer and a store or two should be available. Sunday everything is shut, apart from Church. Looks like a quiet time will be had here – but you never know.
By the time we had cleared in both Jessica and I were not inclined to go ashore. It had been a long day. The plan is to relax on board tonight, have sundowners, a good meal and maybe watch a movie before a good night’s sleep. Total voyage distance 1,198 miles.
A DAY OUT ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND
August 5 2017
This morning we had a run ashore, in fact by the time we had ourselves ready it was almost lunchtime. Looks like we have quickly adapted to ‘Island Time’. The wind and waves at the anchorage are too much for the small rubber duck so we had to launch the pig which has been languishing on the foredeck for months undisturbed.
This is Jessica’s first experience with the pig and she seemed to take my warnings to be careful a bit too lightly. Together, we could just manage to lift the pig and sling it over the side. The best way to launch even if it does mean there will be a bit of water to bail out.
The trip ashore was wet, the twenty knot trade winds coming uninterrupted across the lagoon whips up a small sea. Luckily the water is warm, we dry quickly and its no hardship.
When we arrived at the dock a surprising event occurred. I asked Jessica to hop onto the dock first. As she proceeded to alight she performed an uncoordinated pirouette followed by a squeal, some small boat gymnastics (that I have only seen surpassed by her mother) and then a large splash. I found myself sitting in a boat full of water and quickly rescued the valuables and myself to the safety of the wharf. From the wharf, I looked down at a waterlogged boat and Jessica clinging to the side. Quite how this happened I am a loss to explain. Anyway, based on the you caused it – you fix it philosophy, Jessica started bailing.
Just then a guy called Rab, wearing a NZ Rugby Sevens shirt turns up and we get chatting. He tells me a few interesting things about the Island, where to get cold beer and offers to find us some fresh local fruit on Sunday. He also gives us a large papaya that he happens to have in his truck. Then he offers to fill our diesel jerry can and bring it back for us. Wonderful.
By this time Jessica has clambered out of the water and is now complaining about jelly fish stings. We set off into town – as Rab says you can’t get lost. The main street has tarmac between the pot holes, soft tarmac that squashes as you walk on it. We visited most of the shops in town and bought a little something at each one. Finally, I found full crème powdered milk – no non-fat rubbish for these people, they understand the value of full fat.
After the shopping, we headed towards some loud music and found the Lady Wheel Bar. I drank an almost cold Heineken and Jess had a warm coke. I wondered why they needed chicken wire over the bar – reminded me of the scene in the Blues Brothers film, Bobs Country Bunker stage.
When leaving Truce at an exposed anchorage I can never really relax ashore so we headed back out for another soaking in the pig in the late afternoon. Boarding Truce in the seas was a bruising affair – I now have bruises on bruises. Jessica has had her first experience with the pig – now she understands its malevolent attitude if not treated with the utmost respect.
There are no other cruising boats here. Not many boats come here, the customs man reckons there have been ten in total for 2017. I suppose the lack of a protected anchorage is a big drawback, although catamarans could easily assess the protected lagoon by the town which would be perfectly protected. There is a weekly flight here now from Fiji and Honolulu, tourism is being developed – I would say they have a long way to go but the potential is there.
I was thinking about all the remote places I have been and think Christmas Island must be the remotest I have been to in terms of distance from major cities. The people we have met here are all very genuinely friendly and helpful.
BOAT BOUND AT CHRISTMAS ISLAND
August 6 2017
Any hopes of going ashore this morning were foiled by the wind. A solid trade wind made conditions at the anchorage unsuitable for using the dinghy to get ashore. I have plenty of little jobs to attend to – the time will not be wasted.
At lunchtime, we experienced wind against tide conditions that put Truces stern into the wind and everything out of kilter. The pig was acting erratically and charging into the hull in a vicious manner. At about this time we started dragging anchor. I was also making bread at the time. Jessica and I hoisted the pig onboard, which is quite easy with two people.
Resetting the anchor turned into a chore, on the fourth attempt we finally found a good hold. The tides and currents are flowing strongly into and out of the lagoon now. Crystal clear water on the flood and milky waters on the ebb. Its full moon tomorrow, we can expect another ripping tide day.
We ended up spending the day just doing stuff in our own time. We did laundry, made lunch, baked bread, serviced the self-steering gear, tightened up the starboard cap shroud, Jessica sang and played guitar, I cleaned toilets and bilges. Time flew by, everybody happy doing their own thing.
I did a download from Predict Wind and the prediction is for the wind to decrease tomorrow and Tuesday. We hope they are correct as the shore and exploration is calling.
PUBLIC HOLIDAY ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND
August 7 2017
Last night I slept in the cockpit under the stars. I started off in the forward cabin but the noise of the waves against the bow and the anchor chain drove me out. It’s quite cool here at night and a long sleeved shirt, sarong and socks was the comfortable attire for sleeping outside.
Fortunately, the wind subsided this morning to around fifteen knots and we were able to head ashore in the pig. It was a wet ride into the dock. Jessica took most of the spray as she was sitting at the bow and I arrived quite dry.
Today was a public holiday on Christmas Island, but I didn’t notice any difference. I was told that everything would be shut, but all the little stores were open as usual. There is an ANZ bank here and we walked up to get some cash from the ATM. Cash is needed to buy anything here.
We topped up a jerry can of diesel and bought some eggs. The eggs come in from Hawaii, apparently there are no hens on Christmas Island. I find this hard to believe – all remote communities visited previously have hens running about. The eggs came in a flat tray which proved a challenge to get back to Truce without breakage – but surprisingly we did it.
The weather is still not settled enough for me to be comfortable away from Truce. The dragged anchor of yesterday still on my mind – we headed back out to the anchorage. The trip back was even wetter as the wind had picked up again. I was steering the outboard with one hand and bailing with the other, Jessica was holding onto the tray of eggs with grim determination. Fortunately, the bailing rate exceeded the water inflow and we arrived alongside Truce with buoyancy intact. The first item discharged to the deck of Truce was a tray of intact eggs. We decided that was cause for celebration.
Tomorrow we will be going ashore to clear out of Christmas Island before heading south possibly to Penrhyn. I would’ve liked to explore Christmas Island further. The locals have told us of many interesting spots. Unfortunately, the open anchorage, poor holding for the anchor and strong trade winds and seas coming across the lagoon have prevented us from venturing far from Truce. Next week may be perfect weather but we don’t have time to linger.
CHRISTMAS ISLAND / KIRITIMATI TOWARDS PENRHYN
August 8 2017
I awoke early this morning, it was too quiet. On deck all was peaceful, the anchor cable was lying soundlessly in the water. After days of wind this was a pleasant surprise. I was now too awake to go back to sleep and it was too early to wake Jessica. For the next hour I pottered about, putting in some waypoints to the GPS, reading some old news clippings and getting the ships papers’ ready for clearing out from Kiritimati. Then I made toast and marmalade for breakfast and woke Jessica – who couldn’t complain too much about the time as she was presented with breakfast.
After breakfast we launched the pig and headed into London to clear out with customs and immigration. This was an easy and pleasant affair and cost us AU$20. With clearance in hand we set off to do some final provisioning. We discovered poor quality oranges cost $3.5 each and water was $3 a bottle. Other items were similarly expensive and we ended up getting not much at all. I will need to start fishing again.
I found that there are chickens on Christmas Island, I saw a whole bunch running around a yard. No doubt some enterprising local doesn’t like paying $1.50 for each egg.
When we returned to Truce the wind and sea had picked up again and we had a wet ride. Once back on board we made ready for sea, lashing and stowing everything in its place. At eleven o’clock I started the engine and began hauling up the anchor. By midday we had cleared Cooks Passage and started our voyage south towards Penrhyn.
The first hour we sped south on a beam reach at over seven knots. However, as soon as we cleared the Island the wind went around to the south east and we are back with the wind on the port bow. Beating into the wind, crashing and banging, salt spray everywhere (thank goodness for the hard dodger) and a strong feeling of Déjà vu. At the moment we can’t lay the course south and are getting pushed to the west, there is a good current assisting our westerly movement also.
Predict Wind weather routing has the wind coming from the east and further down the track from north of east. That will be perfect. I hope the wind comes around in the next few hours because I don’t fancy five more days going to windward. Jessica and I have both had enough of that coming from Honolulu to Kiritimati. Sailing should be fun, a little bit of going to windward occasionally is OK, but not for days on end. In the back of my mind I have the option of missing Penrhyn and going direct to Suwarrow if the wind stays south of east.
Apart from my moaning about the wind everything is fine, seafarers are not happy iunless they can moan about something. There are clear skies with fluffy clouds, fifteen knots of wind and we are making reasonable speed in the general direction of south. The biggest problems we have now is deciding what to eat for dinner.
EQUATOR CROSSING AND CHANGE OF PLAN
August 9 2017
We had a wonderful night last night, clear skies, big moon and just the right amount of wind to keep us moving along nicely with a low swell. The nights are cool and an extra layer of clothes is required for the early morning watches. I watched Venus rise just after the Southern Cross in the east. Around one in the morning the wind went light and a couple of hours later filled in from the east. We are finally able to lay our course to Penrhyn and make some ground to the east. We still have the wind on our port bow and going to weather. However, I have eased off the angle and we are now sailing about 60 degrees off the wind, more comfortable and a bit more progress through the water.
Just after nine this morning we crossed the equator back into the Southern hemisphere. This is the first time crossing the equator for Jessica on a boat. She has now progressed from a pollywog to a shellback. I had previously made out and printed a crossing the line certificate, complete with Mermaids, sea serpents and Neptune. Jessica was surprised to receive her certificate, I left out the other crossing the line circus elements, it didn’t seem appropriate with just the two of us on board.
After passing the equator we had a pod of dolphins come to join us, around ten large bottlenose type dolphins. Pure coincidence I am sure but a nice welcome to the Southern Hemisphere.
At three this afternoon we took an executive decision – miss out Penrhyn. We made this decision for numerous reasons including, fed up going to weather, time is running out for Jessica and me, stores and beer stocks will be getting critical before Tonga. We think it will be far better to spend some quality time in Suwarrow rather than rushing both Penrhyn and Suwarrow. I am disappointed to miss out on Penrhyn as everything I have read about the place seems excellent. But, we can’t beat time. I have put the wind just aft of the beam and are heading 203 degrees to Suwarrow, some eight hundred and twenty miles distant and making excellent speed.
It feels so good not to be going to weather, the boat movement has relaxed to a gentle roll. No more moving around like a spastic monkey, staggering from one handhold to the next. Now, if only the wind will stay exactly the same for the next week……. Total voyage distance 134 miles.
HEADING TO SUWARROW
August 10 2017
Another wonderful sailing day and night. We have the wind on our beam and are being pushed along nicely at six knots towards Suwarrow. Its almost too good to be true, this is the first constant weather we have experienced since departing from Honolulu. The wind went light for a couple of hours in the early morning but we managed to keep sailing until it picked up again.
Last night we caught a couple of fish. I don’t know what type of fish they were. They didn’t look appetising, long slender things with very large eyes. I suspect because of the big eyes they are night time feeders – anyway, they went back over the side. We are looking for dolphin fish, we know they taste good.
Yesterday evening meal was a new take on Thai Chick Pea Curry – concocted by Jessica. A slightly unconventional dish that tasted excellent. Despite our pledging not to – we made rice. Cleaning up was easy really and I suppose we can’t live without rice.
I got a bit bored this afternoon and started rooting around the lockers under the salon settee. Happily, I came up with six tins of fruit salad that I had completely forgotten about. Now I know how exactly how the squirrel feels when he finds a new stash of nuts.
We have spent the day just relaxing and enjoying the perfect sailing conditions. Snacking, playing guitar, playing cards, watching movies, reading books. Nice to catch up on simple activities. I have not heard any news since leaving Hawaii, I don’t even know who won the Tour de France. It doesn’t matter at the moment.
As we have missed out our stop at Penrhyn we don’t have clearance into Suwarrow. I have asked Ngozi to ask the Cook Customs to grant us a clearance on arrival. Hopefully that will come through before we arrive.
The advance weather forecast for our arrival at Suwarrow does not look too flash. There is a bit of difference between forecasts, one has twenty knot winds the other 35 knot winds. We will monitor it daily as we get closer and hope it dissipates before we arrive. Total voyage distance 270 miles.
SUNSET – GREEN FLASH
August 11 2017
The days and nights continue to be pleasant with good sailing conditions. So far the South Pacific has provided the conditions we wanted and could not find in the North Pacific.
Last night we had sundowners in the cockpit as the sun set. Both Jessica and I watched for the green flash as the sun dips down below the horizon. It happened. I saw the green flash – it was more like a green bloom. Somehow Jessica managed to miss it completely. Its quite unusual for the green flash conditions to be just right – I am happy to have seen another one.
Ngozi has completed our application for clearance into Suwarrow. Hopefully we will have it early next week. Our ETA is on the 15th August and the weather is still looking a bit dodgy for arrival with strong easterly winds. However, the forecast today is a little bit better than yesterday, maybe the declining wind trend will continue.
Otherwise its all routine on board, reading, relaxing, fishing (without success today), baking and odd jobs. The sun I hot now and finding shade in the cockpit is a priority on watch during the day. A rain shower would be welcome to wash the salt off the boat. After that a bit more rain is needed to fill up our water tanks that are running down rapidly in this hot weather. Both Jessica and I could also do with a shower when we get some rain. A good easy run of one hundred and fifty two miles today. Total voyage distance 422 miles.
ADOPTING PLAN ‘C’ – HEADING TO TONGA
August 12 2017
Another lovely night. This time though the wind deserted us in the early hours and has been missing since. For the last twelve hours we have rolled around the ocean and just managed to keep moving at between two and three knots. Such a contrast to the previous days when we have been striding along effortlessly at between six and seven knots.
The wind is expected to fill in again this evening and we will welcome some breeze through the boat – its very hot today. I poled out the jib this morning to reduce the sail flogging, we are moving slowly south east, downwind. We keep scanning astern looking and hoping for signs of a breeze. Its been a slow day today, only one hundred and eighteen miles noon to noon.
Last night we downloaded another weather file and found the winds forecast for Suwarrow had not diminished – in fact they had become slightly stronger, thirty knots. There is no point in us arriving in such weather, the anchorage will be neither relaxing or conducive to exploring ashore or by Kayak. We will just be stuck onboard, much like during our call at Christmas Island. If we had a couple of weeks to spare then it would be perfectly OK, but we don’t.
We have reluctantly made the decision to skip Suwarrow and head direct for Tonga. If we had been on an easier schedule we could have easily held back arriving in Suwarrow for a couple of days and then enjoyed some calm condition inside the lagoon. We don’t have that luxury so will head direct to Neiafu in the Vava’u group to check in with customs and immigration. It will probably take us another ten days to get to Neiafu, arriving around Monday 21st August.
The time that we have missed at Penrhyn and Suwarrow we will spend sailing down the Tonga chain of islands. We have been reading some good stuff about Humpback whales breeding at this time of year – hopefully we will catch up with some. Total voyage distance 540 miles.
SLOW ROAD TO TONGA
August 13 2017
Apart from the light breeze the weather is perfect. Last night Jessica cooked a great pasta dish for dinner after which we watched Dumb and Dumber under the stars in the cockpit. Good to have some banal humour after frustrations of light wind sailing.
The fishing is not going too well. I am using smaller lures hoping we will catch smaller fish. So far, we haven’t caught anything but have two lures smashed to pieces and the triple hooks straightened out. So, I presume big fish still take small lures – they just don’t get caught by them. I will persevere in the hope of landing a small succulent dolphin fish.
Next weeks weather is looking a harsh, we have three days of twenty to twenty-five knot winds and four-meter seas. There is no way around it. If the wind and seas come from the right angle we can make good time but it will be a bit uncomfortable for a while. Then, as we approach Tonga the forecast is for very light winds – maybe we will use the engine rather than hang around if it happens.
This morning, during my pre-noon siesta, I was half asleep dreaming of being in a hotel room with a king size bed, clean crisp sheets and bathroom with unlimited shower water. Then I realised I haven’t slept in a bed on shore since April. Jessica says we should treat ourselves to a night in a hotel room in Tonga, but will she pay? Total voyage distance 646 miles.
LIGHT WINDS AND CHANGE OF WEATHER
August 14 2017
The light easterly winds continue to help us slowly towards Tonga. At midnight I furled the jib, it would no longer hold the wind. The wind is very light, sails are slapping around as Truce moves to the waves. We crept along at about three knots with the main and staysail set overnight.
As daylight broke this morning it was clear we were into another weather system. The fluffy Cumulus clouds of yesterday have given way to cumulonimbus and dark brooding stratocumulus clouds. The sun rose but we didn’t see it, everything happening behind a curtain of grey.
Two large rain clouds caught us, first at six in the morning and later at ten. Both had strong winds, the second was the strongest. We received a thorough wash down from the lashing rain – very welcome as the boat was encrusted with salt. I tried to harvest some water but gave up – there was too much salt spray coming over the deck to provide clean rain water for the tanks.
The weather forecast still has high winds for us during the next three days. Easterly winds should help us catch up on our average speed and bring back the ETA to the 21st August. I just hope the expected seas stay below the three-meter mark otherwise it will be uncomfortable.
Conversation on board is increasingly turning to Tonga and often centres around fresh food. The latest item on the wish list is a massage for Jessica. I don’t know anything about Neiafu, it wasn’t on our original plan to visit so no information was sourced. We have some information from the pilot book and cruising guide but its basic entry procedure stuff. The guys that clear us in will be bombarded with questions from us.
Last nights movie was a cartoon – Tin Tin. Pretty average really. I used to read Tin Tin cartoons when I was a kid, must say I never really took to him. I liked his dog, seemed to have the brains. Total Voyage distance 775 miles.
NIGHT OF FLYING SQUID
August 15 2017
An action filled night on board Truce. We are into an area of unsettled weather and rain squalls. Two hit us between nine and midnight. The midnight squall was so strong and persistent that we stowed the mainsail and sailed on staysail only.
During the second squall I noticed an extremely strong fishy smell. Jessica had the flashlight and identified the culprit – a smashed up squid in the cockpit. I also found squid on the side decks. What was causing the squid to fly I wondered. The rain at the time was torrential and the wind going crazy. Did the squid jump out of the water on board or were they caught up in the rain? I have heard of it raining cats and dogs but don’t really believe it. But I have read that frogs sometime get into rain clouds before dropping back to earth.
When stowing the main I noticed a fishy smell around the deck and sail – but could not find any squid lying around. I was also puzzled why the squid had a fishy smell when it was fresh out the ocean.
Daylight revealed the reason for the fishy smell around the main sail and an explanation for the squid in the cockpit. Some airborne creature had shit all over the mainsail. What a mess, we tried cleaning it off but had no luck. The bird must have been eating squid as the excrement is ink black. I suspect the same bird regurgitated the squid into the cockpit on his way past – hence the fishy smell.
This morning we had three hours of good sailing before the squalls stared again. They really are tiresome. A very strong one hit us at three in the afternoon and laid on our beam ends. I simultaneously let go the main sheet, disengaged the wind vane, let go the jib halyard and started furling the jib. This was a particularly violent squall, I had been watching it approach, nothing indicated it would be nasty or different to the previous squalls, but it was a monster.
This evening we had no movie showing, its too windy and wet in the cockpit. Total Voyage distance 899 miles.
C’MON, ENOUGH SQUALLS
August 16 2017
What a day and night. Completely unsettled weather. I have just counted from the log book, we had eight squalls during the last 24 hours. Sails have been up, down, in and out. At one stage, we were hove to under triple reefed main for twenty minutes. I feel pretty knackered from the effort of trying to keep momentum towards Tonga. The boat is wet through. A few times during the past day we have been headed in completely the wrong direction.
Another first this morning, we were hit by a severe squall, stronger than the one that knocked us over. Fortunately, we were ready for it and the main down and yankee furled. The outboard motor is stowed on the stern rail and I noticed that the propeller was spinning fast in the wind. I have never seen that before. Fascinating.
But, its all good since lunch time, we seem to have entered a clear area with consistent easterly winds around twenty knots. The sky is clearer, the sun is coming through and a few Simpson clouds are starting to appear. We are making good time towards Neiafu and have less than six hundred miles to go.
Last night we passed south of Tema Reef with Pukapuka island to the north and Nassau island to the south. The chart says these islands belong to New Zealand. I wonder if any ministers visit them to check they are still there.
Still no luck fishing – changed the lure today – just pot luck dragging a lure behind the boat. Can’t be any skill involved. Total Voyage distance 1,021 miles.
A DAY OF TWO HALVES
August 17 2017
As they say in football – today has been a day of two halves. From midday to midnight we romped along, reefed down, in twenty knot winds doing a comfortable six knots. At midnight, we had clocked seventy plus miles and all was good. After midnight we ran into a rain squall (probably a front) and after a brief flurry the wind disappeared.
Since midnight we have been ghosting along and now have the jib poled out to port and doing three to four knots in glorious weather but not much breeze. The forecasters wanted to give us twenty knots again today – oh how wrong they got it.
It looks like this light weather has blown our planned ETA for the 21st in Neiafu, we could still do it but will most likely arrive on Tuesday now. Just another day to wait for a cold beer – maybe I should drink an extra one to compensate.
Last night we watched ‘Men in Black 3’ in the cockpit. Great movie – they don’t need to make any more MIB’s. The weather is still hot but absolutely no complaints. Two fishing boats turned up last night, the first vessels we have seen since leaving Christmas Island.
At lunch time today we used the last of our eggs. One was a floater so went over the side to Davie Jones. Fresh food is almost finished now, all that is remaining is a large onion from Honolulu. It still looks in perfect condition so suspect it has a similar upbringing to the atomic (never go ripe) tomatoes I experienced in Alaska. Total Voyage distance 1,130 miles.
LIGHT WINDS CONTINUE TO TAUNT US
August 18 2017
Another day of light winds. Nothing we can do about that – just sail as best we can and enjoy the trip. I had hoped to arrive in Neiafu early afternoon Monday and clear customs. Now it looks like we will arrive late evening. If that is the case I will hang back so we arrive in daylight on the 22nd.
Most of the last twenty-four hours has been spent with the jib poled out to port and the mainsail boomed out to starboard. A very comfortable way of sailing, we managed to make some progress this way overnight. This morning we sailed west to find some more wind as promised by the weather prediction. So far, we have found a couple of small squalls, a refreshing shower, but no wind yet, just slating sails in the sunshine.
At lunch time we passed over an area indicated in the chart as having volcanic activity. We were hoping to see some bubbles, pumice, volcanic stuff, smell rotten eggs – but nothing, no excitement, just sea like the surrounding area.
Now that Tonga is just a weekend away we really want to get into port. This has been a long trip from Honolulu, made longer I think because we couldn’t get a real break in Christmas Island. We both wanted to get off the boat there and explore ashore, the strong trade winds and exposed anchorage prevented us from getting that break. So, it almost feels like we have been sailing nonstop since Honolulu.
Last nights movie was ‘Once were Warriors’. An iconic New Zealand movie. I only saw it myself last year and it was Jessica’s first time. Well worth watching once – even if its to see what the Auckland southern motorway looks like with light traffic. Total Voyage distance 1,241 miles.
TRUCE CREW GETS THE CHANNELS
August 19 2017
Jessica has the channels, that strange malaise seafarers get after being at sea for some time and approaching port. She is restless and constantly talking about what food she is going to eat. Of course, the condition is highly contagious, I am now is a similar state.
We still have plenty of food on board – but nothing we want to eat. Tinned food and dried stuff is OK for a week or so but gets boring after a time. The knowledge that we will have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, meats after the weekend makes it even harder to eat pasta again.
A mixed bag of a sailing day some good winds and then going light and rain showers. We are not going to make arrival on Monday so just taking it easy to arrive on Tuesday morning.
After lunch the wind allowed us to go back to poled out jib and mainsail. We are now comfortably running down the track to Neiafu with little fuss and an easy motion. That has led to a flurry of baking, muffins first and now the bread is in the oven. We love the smell of fresh bread, although the oven makes the cabin too hot for comfort in this climate. No doubt we will have something out of a tin on toast for dinner this evening.
The movie showing in the cockpit last night had to be moved indoors due to rain. We watched ‘Be Cool’ with John Travolta. A good movie but it went on a bit too long, I only had a short sleep before my watch at midnight. I managed a cat nap in the cockpit later but was woken up when heavy rain arrived in a small squall. Total voyage distance 1,353 miles.
THE PENULTIMATE NIGHT AT SEA
August 20 2017
We have both got the channels – even worse than yesterday. Last night the discussion turned to food again and the dishes we were going to eat in Tonga. Then Jessica started showing me photos of the food she had been eating in Vietnam. We both seem to be slightly obsessed with the food thing now.
Well, the sailing has been good if not spectacular. We have been sailing in beautiful weather, (Inc. occasional rain shower), with the jib poled out for the last twenty-four hours. The winds have been light overnight and filling in this morning to around twelve knots, a slow night but perfect sailing weather now. I have not touched the self-steering or sails, we just keep heading down the track. Almost as though Truce knows the way, like a horse sniffing the stables.
Our arrival time at Neiafu is still Monday evening. I will slow down as we reach the coast and enter at daylight, hopefully going direct alongside the dock for our clearance into Tonga.
Last night I did have something on toast as predicted. At the back of the cupboard I have two tins of kippered herring skulking about – they went to Alaska with me last year. I thought it was time to try one. It was dreadful and ruined perfectly good toast. I will try and barter the other tin with some gullible person for something edible.
Fishing is slow. The smaller lures I have been using are not catching anything. Another lure has lost its hooks to something. The small lure strategy is a failure. I have concluded we have the wrong line and the wrong lures. I will replace both in Tonga and then start catching fish like a pro.
The wind was light and the sky clear for last nights screening in the cockpit. We watched ‘Snatch’, a UK film. Very humorous if not a bit violent. Not suitable for everyone, having a British sense of humour is helpful. Total voyage distance 1,470 miles.
TONGA IN SIGHT
August 21 2017
For the past forty-eight hours we have been sailing with the jib poled out to port and the main to starboard. I haven’t touched anything, neither sails or self-steering – we have headed relentlessly down the track to Tonga. It’s almost as if Truce is saying she has had enough of me messing around – just leave me to get on with it. I am happy with that arrangement – an easy way to chew up the miles.
At two this afternoon we saw Tonga in the distance off the port bow. Just a few more hours sailing and we will be in the lee of the island, where we can loiter around until tomorrow morning to enter and clear inwards. I expect we will pick up some radio soon (I guess they have a FM station) and then the smells of the land.
This morning I ran the engine for thirty minutes, partly to give the batteries a top up but also to check everything is ok for entering port tomorrow. Don’t want any surprises. Later this afternoon I will complete and print out the paperwork required for clearing into Tonga, as soon as we near land the bureaucracy starts again.
Another great night for watching movies in the cockpit. Tonight’s choice was ‘Blood Diamond’. It’s quite a long movie and the computer battery ran out of juice half way through. We will watch the second half this evening. Total voyage distance 1,606 miles.
August 22 2017
This morning we headed into Neiafu to clear into Tonga, arriving at the main wharf at eight. Customs opened thirty minutes later and we started the clearing in process. This consists of completing around ten forms, answering the same questions multiple times. The whole process took a while, there was a flight arriving and available immigration manpower had been diverted to the airport. Finally, at one in the afternoon the last check, Sanitation, was complete and we headed off to find an anchorage.
The anchorage turned out to be a mooring buoy just off the dinghy dock at the moorings, a convenient spot. Without delay we were moored and the pig in the water. By two in the afternoon we were sitting on the Mango Café deck snacking and drinking cold beer. A fitting end to a long voyage from Christmas Island of 1,648 miles over 13 days.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around town and soaking up the Island pace of life. In the morning, when getting cash for the clearance, I left my credit card in the ATM. In the afternoon I went back to the bank and retrieved the card which had been handed in. Honest people here.
WiFi access was on our shore list as we haven’t had any connection since leaving Honolulu a month ago. We found WiFi at a price but it was so slow we couldn’t download the information we wanted. Priority tomorrow will be to find decent WiFi and book Jessica’s flight back to Melbourne.
In the evening we came across a good café overlooking the harbour. The fresh fish looked good so we went that way. Jessica tried the Ota Ika (raw fish in coconut with veggies), it was superb. I had pan seared tuna, also excellent but too much to finish in one go. We both felt very relaxed as the sun went down over the harbour. I am sure we will sleep well tonight, securely tied up to a mooring. Total voyage distance from Kiritimati to Neiafu 1,648 miles.
WANDERING IN NEIAFU
August 23 2017
What a great night’s sleep. The weather was calm and Truce lie quietly to the mooring without a sound. It was a cockerel crowing on the shore that work me early morning. It took a few seconds for the unfamiliar sound to register before I realised where I was.
Breakfast was fresh Papaya with lime. Then it was a brief tidy up of the boat and getting some urgent laundry out of the way before going ashore to explore.
Once ashore we were surprised by how many people were walking about – then we saw that a cruise ship was close by ferrying passengers ashore by tender. Most of the passengers we came across seemed to be Australian. One of the main tasks for us was to get internet access and get a flight out of Nuku’alofa booked for Jessica. I also wanted to download and send emails that have been backing up for weeks. We found good internet at the Tropicana Cafe and after a couple of hours had exhausted our passion for being online and communicated with everyone and everything urgent. we also got a flight booked for Jessica.
We spent the rest of the day wandering around (its not a big place), looking in stores, buying some food items (Anchor long life milk, yay!) and chatting with strangers. In between we managed to find the Bella Vista Café for excellent BLT’s and the Aquarium café for dinner overlooking the harbour. Fish again for dinner – it’s so good. We finally ended up in the Mango Café where the Pig was parked for a final cocktail and nightcap before heading back to Truce.
The rain had set in, as it did yesterday, in the late afternoon. We had to bail some water out of the pig before setting off and were both quite damp by the time we got back on board. Fortunately, its quite warm and being damp is no hardship for a short while.
Jessica is departing from Nuku’alofa on the twenty ninth of August so we must start heading south without delay, less than a week to go. Tomorrow morning we will buy some fresh provisions before checking out with the authorities and turning the bow towards the south. I am not sure what our next destination will be – we will go with the weather and plan our route to suit.
DRINKING RUM WITH OLD FRIENDS
August 24 2017
The rain from yesterday evening continued overnight, finally giving way to some sunshine mid-morning. I spent a few minutes bailing out the pig before we could go ashore – amazing how much water collected overnight. By ten I had visited the customs and port office to clear out from the Vava’u group. The tonnage dues came to less than ten dollars, all up the clearance into and out of Neiafu cost one hundred and thirty-one dollars. Gets more expensive as we head south it seems.
Next on the ‘to do’ list was getting some fresh fruit and veg Fresh veg, eggs and topping up on a few dry goods. The market down by the wharf has an excellent selection of fresh produce where we also got fresh eggs.
On the way back to Truce we decided to have an early lunch at Indigo café. Our favourite café as they also seem to have decent WiFi. Eggs and bacon for me and BLT for Jessica. The bacon here is so good – unfortunately we forgot to buy some in the store.
Just after one in the afternoon we dropped the mooring and headed out of Neiafu harbour with a stiff breeze behind us. We headed to Tapana Lagoon where a friend, Steve, was moored. I met Steve last year at Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island in Alaska. Steve is also headed back to New Zealand but at a far more leisurely pace than mine.
At three in the afternoon we entered Tapana Lagoon and saw Steve’s lovely yacht ‘Rhapsody’ tucked up in the corner, nicely sheltered. We were fortunate to find a vacant mooring close alongside and before long we were securely moored in a beautiful peaceful little bay, completely sheltered from the easterly trades.
The evening was spent on Rhapsody, chatting, eating and drinking Rum. We were joined by Linda, a charming Australian lady who is sailing her yacht single handed. Steve produced a surprisingly good Spaghetti Bolognaise – a great night was had by all.
Tomorrow morning we will rise early to head south towards Pangai in the Ha’apai Group. We need to keep heading in the direction of Nuku’alofa to make the connection with Jessica’s flight back to Melbourne on the 29th.
RUNNING SOUTH TO HA’APAI GROUP
August 25 2017
I awoke this morning to find a stiff north-east breeze blowing into Tapana Lagoon. Perfect for our trip south to the Ha’apai Group, some sixty-five miles distant. We dropped our mooring at seven, said our farewells to Steve and Linda then scuttled out of Tapana under half a jib at six knots.
As we progressed south the wind came around to the east and blew 25 plus knots for the first couple of hours before settling down to a steady twenty to twenty-five knots, only easing off when we were a couple of hours from our destination. We had a good fast boisterous sail.
We are headed to Pangai to clear into the Ha’apai Group. However, I didn’t expect to reach Pangai before sunset and planned to stop off at Haano Island for the night. We can then move on and clear into Pangai on Saturday morning.
In Neiafu I took the opportunity to buy a new fishing lure and some one hundred-pound strength fishing line. This afternoon I slung the lure over the side and an hour later had a fish on. As we were sailing at seven knots at the time the load on the line was tremendous. I got the boat headed to wind and slowed down and tried to haul in the line. Whatever was on the end was large – it felt like the deadweight of a large tuna. After ten minutes hauling I was getting nowhere, I gained a bit of line and then it was taken away again. Then as I was giving a good heave the line parted – the fish was gone.
The fish was too large to get on board and too large for eating – it would be too wasteful. So, I was not concerned about the fish getting away. The loss of my new fishing lure is bugging me. I will have to get inventive and try and make something up from bits and pieces I have onboard.
HAPPY IN HA’APAI
August 26 2017
Last night we anchored at Haano Island in the late afternoon. I was thankful for a fast sail that enabled us to anchor before the sun went down. Haano is a sheltered anchorage, we went quite close in to the reef to find ten meters of water to anchor in. Not a place to anchor in the dark for the first time.
This morning we had planned to go ashore early for a swim and snorkel. But the wind and weather were against us. The wind had sprung up at four in the morning followed by rain. The thought of launching the pig in the wind made us decide to high tail it down to Pangai and check in with customs.
The short sail down to Pangai was done in quick time with a strong easterly trade wind blowing. We entered the harbour at Pangai and anchored inside, there was not much room. We then launched the pig and rowed ashore to find the customs post. We found the police station and asked there for the customs, only to be informed that customs didn’t work on a Saturday. Well we had to clear in and clear out as waiting for Monday was not an option. The policeman offered to go and collect the customs – so we waited. Eventually the customs lady arrived but she didn’t have the key to the office. Another wait and after an hour we had our inward and outward clearance complete and $120 lighter. Its a strange clearance system here, each group seems to clip the ticket, every little bit helps the local economy I suppose.
We then headed to the Mariner café for lunch and refreshment. I wasn’t too relaxed as Truce was anchored in the confines of the harbour on a short anchor scope and the wind was picking up again. Sure enough, when we got back to Truce she had moved and was too close to the harbour wall for comfort. Quickly we made preparations to get underway. On lifting the anchor, I found it was fouled by some heavy plastic sacks, no wonder the anchor was dragging.
Our next destination was Uoleva Island – we had heard many good reports about the place. We sailed with just the Jib at six knots and at three in the afternoon had anchored off the Seachange Eco Resort, in six meters of water with a sandy bottom. We were soon ashore to check it out and walk on the beautiful beach. Dinner at the resort was Curry Chicken but we had missed the two o’clock deadline for ordering dinner – no the cook would not accommodate us.
A short walk up the beach brought us to another resort – very laid back, local backpackers type. There the lady said she would cook dinner for us – fish was on the menu. The dinner turned out to be very good, the fish being top drawer. All for a reasonable price.
Its been an action-packed day. Jessica and I are both tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep before heading further south tomorrow.
HEADING SOUTH TO NUKU’ALOFA
August 27 2017
After an excellent super last night, we retired early to catch up on some sleep. During the night, the wind got up and we were swinging and rattling about the anchorage. Fortunately the holding at Uoleva Island is good in sand, so no worries about dragging and the water is quite calm in the lee of the island. Just a bit uncomfortable and noisy with the wind howling in the rigging and the rain beating on the deck.
The morning was a dark brooding affair with black rain clouds all around. The forecast was for strong winds but an update later in the morning had the winds decreasing. We decided to run south, so with a triple reef in the main and a tiny jib we headed south at a fast pace. In the end, we had thirty knots of wind, plenty of rain and the wild ride continues.
I was reluctant to leave Uoleva Island. It’s a truly beautiful spot, I would have liked to explore further and visit the reefs and lagoon pools on the east side. But – Jessica has a plane to catch so Uoleva will have to wait for another time.
We saw whales again. The water was too rough to get a good look at them and we were moving fast. At the rate we are moving we should be in Nuku’alofa by nine in the morning – in time for customs to open so we can check in.
CHECKED INTO NUKU’ALOFA
August 28 2017
What a night – the weather and sea turned it on. We had the choice of going fast with thirty knot winds or sailing conservative and reducing stress on both man and boat. We went the less stress way – it was still a wild ride and a very wet affair, both from the rain and seawater coming onboard. After four in the morning the wind started to decrease and by six was blowing a good trade wind twenty knots.
After a long night, I didn’t get much sleep, we arrived in Nuku’alofa at eight in the morning. The pilot book advises to call the port and customs when one hour out. I did call but knew it was a waste of time, no one is listening. We entered the small boat harbour and spent some time trying to find a place to get alongside. Eventually we tied up alongside a fishing boat so we could jump ashore and clear in.
By midday we had completed the customs entrance, paid our harbour dues and found a place to tie up alongside ‘Ikale’, an old converted Gulf of Mexico crew boat. With the inward formalities over we headed into town to clear Jessica with immigration, ready for her flight tomorrow.
On the way into town we stopped for some fish and chips on the harbour side. Cheap and cheerful and great fresh fish. At the immigration office the clearance for Jessica was quickly done and fee paid. Now with all the clearances complete, fees paid and papers stamped we could finally relax.
We had a roam around town, found a café to have coffee and cake, the vegetable market, the general market and a few stores along the way. Then we had a long walk back to Truce for an afternoon siesta – we were both quite tired after the overnight trip and shore side bureaucracy.
In the evening, we went to a local restaurant on the waterfront and ate fish again – then back to Truce for more sleep. So ended our first day in Nuku’alofa.
SINGLE HANDLING TRUCE AGAIN
August 29 2017
Last night I was eaten alive by a mosquito before I woke up and dealt with the problem. This is the first time we have encountered mosquitoes this trip. I now have the mosquito screens in the hatches and repellent on hand. Early in the morning I awoke to the unmistakable smell of fish. A quick scan around the wharf confirmed that we are berthed next to the local fish market. I am not complaining, where we are moored is really handy to get ashore.
Today I lost my crew and will be back to single handed sailing again for the last leg of the voyage back to New Zealand. As it was Jessica’s last day in Nuku’alofa we decided to take it easy and just stay local.
We had a late breakfast at a café just beside the boat. Eggs and bacon in Tonga must be the best in the world – never disappointed. Then it was back to the boat for Jessica to pack her bag and me to fuss around doing cleaning and small chores before we headed into town for the final time.
Lunch was taken at the Friends café, where they have Wi-Fi. The coffee and food was excellent. The Wi-Fi so slow it was almost useless. However, I managed to send out some emails that have been sitting in my outbox since we arrived in Tonga.
Next to friend’s café is a local craft shop, nice stuff, not the usual tourist junk. We browsed around and Jessica finally found some unusual local jewellery as presents for her friends. Then onto the ice crème parlour for a mix of coffee and coconut ice crème in a waffle cone – more indulgence.
Finally, we hit the supermarket for some groceries to take me down to New Zealand. Even in the big supermarket the choice and range of products is very limited – and costly compared with New Zealand. A lot of the products on the shelves are well known supermarket or store brands from New Zealand.
At six thirty in the evening Jessica got a taxi to the airport. I went back to the boat and suddenly felt very alone. I will spend tonight on board and prepare to depart tomorrow. I have some odd jobs to complete on the boat and some equipment checks to carry out – otherwise Truce is ready to go. I will get some fresh vegetables and fruit on board plus another case of beer as the stocks seem to be running low.
Not sure when I will be sailing from here, the crossing to New Zealand is very weather dependent. I will start paying close attention to the weather reports and forecasts. Hopefully I will find a good weather window to get me across the final eleven hundred or so miles without too much drama.
WAITING FOR A WEATHER WINDOW IN NUKU’ALOFA
August 30 2017
Today has been a flat day. I have not done anything meaningful. I am feeling a bit down now that Jessica has gone and I am alone again. I have really enjoyed her company and am sorry we didnt have more time together in Tonga. However, I understand that after a couple of months alone with Dad she was eager to move on. I stayed on board most of the day reading a book and doing small odd jobs, just pottering about really.
I want to get going to New Zealand but the weather is not right yet. It looks like next Monday will be the earliest opportunity to depart. Very frustrating as I want to be on my way, but you can’t hurry the weather. So, I will be waiting on weather and going slightly crazy if I can’t find some distraction.
This morning I was reflecting on our trip from Honolulu to Tonga. The route planned was Honolulu, Christmas Island, Penrhyn, Suwarrow, Niue and Tonga. In the end, we went direct from Honolulu to Tonga with only a stop at Christmas Island. The weather on route and at the destinations of Both Penrhyn and Suwarrow being nasty. The weather generally has been a mixed bag, very few periods of settled weather or expected trade winds, either direction or strength.
In the Vava’u group we met up with a lady who had planned the identical trip, leaving Honolulu a month before us. She made Christmas Island, after having similar weather on the bow as we did. She then could not make Penrhyn or Suwarrow and missed them, she left out Niue as we did and headed direct to Tonga, all due to the weather. What a coincidence that we both had identical itineraries and both made the same route decisions – and then both met up in the same small bay.
Tonight, I will stay on board again and cook some supper. I have plantain and some fresh veg – it will be a healthy meal. Then maybe watch a movie. After a good rest tonight I will be ready for some exploration tomorrow.
August 31 2017
I was a bit flat yesterday. Maybe being secure alongside is also affecting me as there is nothing needed or attention required for the boat. The weather here is still unsettled, last night we had some wind and rain but today has been sunny with a cool breeze. There is a trough forecast for Sunday with clearing weather following behind. Weather Guru Bob from New Zealand says there may be an opportunity to sail after the weekend, maybe Tuesday.
Today I went exploring around Nufu’alofa. I reckon I have now seen as much of the town as I want to. It’s a spread-out place but not that big. One good thing here is the food, everything I have eaten has been well cooked and fresh. A real delight after the heavily processed foods of North America and Hawaii. My next venture will be to look around the island outside Nuku’alofa. I will see if I can hire a bike for the day.
Since being here I have tried to get decent wifi. It just seems impossible. The cafes have wifi, all of them charge, its not free. However, even after buying a few Mb its so slow that it’s an effort even to send out a few emails. Don’t even think of downloading files. This is the main island and I expected wifi here would be better than the other islands. This is not the case, wifi in Neiafu and Pangai was faster.
So, a quiet day, just killing time, waiting to sail. I notice Truce is getting a bit of green stuff on her bottom, she needs to sail south as well.
RAIN STOPPED PLAY
September 1 2017
I was awoken this morning by the patter of rain on the coach roof and the creaking of the mooring lines. Fortunately, it was time to get up and no precious sleep was lost. I am getting plenty of sleep at the moment anyway.
The northerly wind was causing little waves to enter the harbour and set Truce jiggling alongside and gently rolling. There was a danger that the cap shrouds would touch the adjacent boat when both boats rolled towards each other. I shifted Truce a bit further inshore to reduce the risk, a bit of a palaver as I have five mooring lines out.
Once the boat was settled I headed ashore. Any thoughts of exploring the island had disappeared as the weather was threatening rain again and still windy. On my way into town I was given a lift by Dave, my new best mate in Nuku’alofa. Dave is a bone carver and part time tour guide, in fact he is very enthusiastic to do anything for money it seems. Dave dropped me at an internet café where the school kids go – fastest internet so far and only cost a dollar, unfortunately there is no Wi-Fi but old fashioned plug in works fine. Trust the school kids to know where the cheap internet is.
When I returned to Truce the waves were making her surge alongside – I put out another stern line, now we have six lines out. There is a trough approaching and I expect the winds will come around to the east as it passes through.
If the weather is good tomorrow I will take a trip and visit Cooks landing place. I am really not too interested in seeing the rest of the island – my mind is on departure and not sightseeing.
VISIT TO CAPTAIN COOKS LANDING PLACE
September 2 2017
Today started out wet with the northerly wind dying down. By nine the rain had stopped and the outlook seemed fine for a few hours. I decided it was time to get out and about the island of Tongapapu.
First, I set off to Captain Cooks landing place where he set foot on Tongapapu in 1777. It’s quite an unimpressive site, run down with a closed-up café and non-functioning toilets. The water side is dirty with old junk lying around. The Queen and Prince Phillip visited the site in 1970 – I bet they spruced it up a bit before she turned up.
Then it was off to look at some old royal terraced tombs. After the tombs I headed out to see Ha’amonga ‘a Maui. This is a stone monument, much like a mini Stonehenge. I am not sure the history of the thing as there was no information available. It appears that the cut vegetation lines mark out the summer and winter solstices, although the monument does not seem to line up with anything.
This part of island where Ha’amonga ‘a Maui is situated is to the far east. There is a nice fresh atmosphere about the place with clean fresh air coming off the ocean. There’s Mango, Cassava, Plantain, and Banana everywhere. The land here looks very fertile and reminded me of Nigeria just stick anything in the ground and it will grow.
Alongside the roads there are stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables. Not the bland, perfectly formed, irradiated supermarket type, but real out of the soil and off the trees produce. I bought some, it tastes good.
Around midday the heavens opened again, heavy tropical rain, I headed back to Nuku’alofa for a decent coffee and light lunch at Friends Cafe. After lunch I visited the internet café to check the weather – still not looking very flash for sailing to New Zealand. The weather up north is light and down south very windy. I will be waiting a few days more.
Sunday tomorrow – everything shut apart from the churches.
RAIN ON SUNDAY, SUN ON MONDAY
September 4 2017
Yesterday was a damp squid. Rain all Saturday night and Sunday morning. Sunday was overcast, wet and showery, cool all day. Onshore it was very quiet, hardly anyone about, shops all shut. I suppose everyone has gone to church and retreated home, the sort of day you want to have a nice fire and stay put.
Today is sunny with a nice cool breeze. I walked over to the customs office and enquired about clearing out – particularly if I could clear out and anchor out for a day or two. The first customs guy said no problem, I could have 24 hours after clearing out. Then his boss with four stripes came and said no. I would only have an hour to leave after clearing out and I could not go to anchor or stop anywhere in Tonga. He said he had problems with other yachts clearing out and then anchoring for days and it must stop.
I would like to go out and anchor for a couple of days. But if I need to come back into port for clearance its not worth the trouble. I will hang around in Nuku’alofa until it’s time to depart.
The passing of the rain has unleashed a plague of Mosquitoes. These are serious insects, cunning and tenacious. I have the mosquito screens in place buy still they find a way in. On board I have some mosquito and fly spray from Alaska, it worked fine in Alaska – stopping deer fly without any problems. But – it doesn’t seem to worry the Tongan Mosquitos, they just keep coming. One of the disadvantages of being tied up in port.
Later I wandered into town. Everybody is very friendly and after being here for a few days people are recognising me (and me them) and the greetings are turning into conversations. So many of the people I speak with have been to, lived in or have relatives in New Zealand. It seems the remittances from family members in New Zealand plays a big part bin the economy here.
Previously I have extolled the qualities of Tonga bacon. When walking about outside the main town you can see pigs and piglets running around, foraging all over the place. They look happy, contented and plump. Good tasty bacon must be the result of such a life.
A DAY OUT ON PANGAIMOTU
September 7 2017
This morning I took my constitutional walk into town. Found the internet was not working, bought a fresh loaf of bread and returned to Truce in time for smoko.
At eleven I caught the boat out to Pangaimotu Island. This is a small island with a resort, Big Mamas Yacht Club, that is a popular stop for visiting yachtsmen, having a sheltered anchorage from the prevailing winds. Once on the island I walked all the way around – it only takes forty minutes if you walk slowly. Then I ventured into the water for a snorkel around the ship wreck close offshore. A mass of tropical fish down below, very pretty.
After all the excursion, it was time for lunch – fish with chips and salad. Beautiful fresh fish, simple yummy food washed down with a couple of cold Heineken’s. So nice to be sitting on a peaceful island, a contrast to Nuku’alofa which is only ten minutes away.
After lunch I walked around the island again before finding a spot to have an afternoon siesta. After an hours peaceful sleep I awoke in time to take the boat back to Nuku’alofa and Truce.
So, an enjoyable day out. The weather was overcast all day with a cool breeze so it didn’t get too hot. I am still waiting on a weather window to sail to New Zealand. It still looks mixed up with another low charging across the Tasman, a couple more days to wait yet.
READY TO GO
September 9 2017
I am ready to depart Tonga and head down to New Zealand. The charms of Nuku’alofa are wearing thin and I have a strong desire to get moving again. The only thing delaying me is the weather at the New Zealand end of the route. There has been a constant stream of lows charging across the Tasman bringing poor sailing weather.
My plan is to clear out on Monday and start making my way slowly to the south west awaiting a time when the weather improves and I can head down towards New Zealand. If not favourable I may stop at North Minerva Reef on the way to wait for an improvement. I just want to get moving again.
This morning there was a Tsunami warning following an earth quake in Mexico. Thankfully, nothing happened but I was ready to put to sea – just in case.
After the Tsunami all clear I had a stroll around the Saturday market. What a great market, you can buy just about anything cars, clothes, tools, lawnmowers, shoes, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, electronics and of course food. I was impressed by the chicken rotisserie mounted on a trailer, very ingenious.
After the market I headed into town and checked the weather and emails at the internet café. I also bought a new small bucket to replace my previous favourite one that got washed overboard in one of the squalls on the way to Christmas Island.
Tonight, I will head up to the Billfish Bar to watch the All black’s vs Argentina.
NUKU’ALOFA TO NEW ZEALAND
September 11 2017
This morning it rained cats and dogs. My walk to the internet café to check the weather was a soggy affair. Good news, the weather seems to be easing off on the route to New Zealand.
I went shopping for fresh fruit and veg and topped up on additional beer, the stocks were running low after such a long time in port. I stopped for lunch and had fish and chips – a final Tonga treat. After lunch I visited the Customs to get the boats clearance outward. More repetitive form filling then I finally had the required piece of paper and a stamp in my passport. All ready to go.
Just after three in the afternoon I let go the lines and we were on the way home.
We are now clear of the island of Tongatapu and sailing in a westerly direction – hoping the wind will back around and we can sail more to the south in the morning. I am heading in the general direction of Minerva Reef. A stop at the reef may be necessary if the weather blows as forecast on the eighteenth at the top of New Zealand. At the moment its a constant stream of low pressure systems charging across the Tasman, looks like we will have to try and squeeze through between them. We shall see in the next few days.
Its good to be back at sea again after waiting for so long in port. Beautiful fresh air and a clear horizon, plus no mosquitos. At the moment the wind is a perfect ten to fifteen knots. I have reduced the main sail for the night and we are doing a comfortable five and a half knots. I hope it holds until morning.
SOME BEAUTIFUL SAILING TODAY
September 12 2017
Last night and this morning it rained continuously, the soaking type of rain that turns everything into a sodden mass. But the wind held and we had a great sail through the night, unfortunately the south-east wind that was forecast didn’t arrive and the south westerly breeze pushed us too far to the west.
All day today we have sailed on the port tack, wind on the bow as usual, waiting for the wind to back to the south east. It hasn’t. Truce has ben continuously on the port tack since leaving Hawaii, sailing on starboard tack will be a novelty. We are now about sixty miles west of our track for Minerva Reef. Looks like we will not be stopping there unless the wind backs overnight or I put in a long tack to get back East. Let’s see what happens overnight, there is no hurry as I don’t want to arrive at New Zealand before the next big low has passed by.
The sun came out for a couple of hours this afternoon, the boat dried out quickly and hopefully the sun has put back enough charge into the batteries to see us through the night.
Today has been an eating and snacking day. I topped up on fresh food before sailing and as I don’t have a fridge on board the food only has a few days life. I must scoff all the good stuff before it goes off. We now have less than one thousand miles to go. I am really looking forward to getting home, not least for the luxuries of a hot shower, a big stable bed and laundry.
On the subject of beds – when I am sailing I sleep on one of the settee berths in the main cabin, depending on which tack I am on. As we always seem to be port tack I sleep on the port side. I have a lee cloth rigged up to keep me in place if the boat rolls and tries to dislodge me. It’s not the most comfortable of places but I don’t spend too long there in one go. There is also a snug quarter berth that is ideal for sleeping at sea. However, as its close to the cockpit I use it as a handy store for all the stuff I need when sailing.
MORE MAGIC SAILING
September 13 2017
Last night was a magical sailing night – one to remember. The wind was only slight but a constant six or seven knots. The sea was calm with bio luminescence shimmering in our wake. The only noise was the sea as we passed through at three or four knots. So comfortable and I slept well.
This morning at ten the wind backed to the south east as hoped for, we can now lay a course towards North Minerva Reef without having to tack if the wind holds true. This afternoon the wind picked up and I reduced sail to lessen the pounding and spray. We are now ninety miles away from North Minerva and should arrive around breakfast time. A good time to arrive, I need daylight to see what I am doing entering the lagoon inside the reef.
The sun has been out all day and the batteries are now fully charged again including the other electronic gadgets such as torch, speaker, phone, iridium, computer, iPad, hand held vhf radio etc. It’s marvellous that just a couple of solar panels can keep everything working without having to use a generator or engine for power.
Not sure what the weather will be doing next week in New Zealand. I expect to get an update from the weather Guru Bob McDavitt tomorrow. I hope there is an early window of opportunity as I am ready to get home.
ANCHORED AT NORTH MINERVA REEF -WITH GREEN FLASH
September 14 2017
If the previous night was a magical sailing night – one to remember, last evenings fare was from the other end of the spectrum and easily forgettable. From six in the evening to nine I struggled to get Truce to hold a course, the wind and sea were all over the place. In the dark I just couldn’t figure out what was going on. We were moving about so much the heading reading from the GPS was going wild and I had to use the magnetic compass as reference. Eventually everything sorted itself out, settled down and we continued slowly towards North Minerva Reef – to arrive in the morning.
I didn’t cover much distance overnight, I chose the slow sailing comfort setting to have a good rest – we were in no hurry. In the morning the weather was sparkling and an easy sail down to Minerva reef, to be anchored for lunch time. Minerva Reef is a strange place, a circular reef in the middle of nowhere with a large lagoon in its centre. The surrounding reef protects the lagoon from the ocean swells bringing comparative calm inside the lagoon.
It’s quite surreal to be anchored in what appears to be the middle of the Ocean. Truce is the only boat in the lagoon and it feels very lonely and desolate. For some reason I don’t feel very comfortable here and will be happy to move on.
The reason I am at Minerva is of course the poor weather conditions further south, preventing me from sailing to New Zealand direct. I decided to stop at Minerva and assess the conditions as it’s on the way from Tonga. Unfortunately, there is a big low on its way to the top of New Zealand on the eighteenth / nineteenth bringing strong southerly winds and large swells on my route – that will persist for some days.
Bob McDavitt has suggested an alternative route to the west, almost as far as Norfolk Island. This route adds considerable distance to my voyage but has the advantage of being something I can start on tomorrow if the forecast is good overnight. Apparently, another yacht departed Minerva reef earlier today to sail the westerly route to NZ. Anyway, as suggested, I will sleep on it and decide tomorrow.
This evening I took a rum and coke for sundowners in the cockpit. I watched the sun go down and thought the conditions were ideal for a green flash event. I picked up my phone to be ready to take a shot. Bingo, there was a green flash and I took a burst of photos at the same time. But the green flash can’t be seen on the photos – I wonder why. That’s the second green flash I have seen since leaving Honolulu – very lucky.
THE LONG ROAD BACK TO NEW ZEALAND
September 15 2017
The anchorage at Minerva Reef turned out to be very peaceful, despite my initial misgivings. I had a great rest and felt very refreshed this morning. And what a morning, a glorious sunrise, warm sunshine and crystal-clear waters. No sound except the distant thunder of surf on the reef. I breakfasted in the cockpit on my last Tongan Papaya, such a pity that papaya doesn’t keep for more than a few days.
Later in the morning another yacht sailed into the lagoon and came over to say hello. On board was Lance, also solo sailing from Tonga, heading to New Zealand. He had also been waiting up in Tonga for a couple of weeks and also decided to stop in Minerva and wait. It felt very good to have company in such a remote place.
I slept on the idea of sailing to the west before heading down to New Zealand. Yes, I have decided to give it a go. At least I will be moving and doing something – not just sitting waiting. The plan is to sail to the south west before heading west, hopefully to sail above the strong southerly winds heading up from the south. If that manoeuvre goes to plan I should then be able to turn and zig zag my way to New Zealand. It going to take 12 to 13 days possibly – there are some light and variable patches along the way as well.
Before sailing out of Minerva Reef I went across and had a chat to Lance. Like me he is frustrated and said he planned to stay at Minerva until the next low has passed New Zealand. We wished each other well and said we would communicate vis sat email. Bidding farewell I motored out of the lagoon.
When I was clear of the Minerva lagoon Lance called me on the radio, asking how far west I planned to go. He said he may follow me to the west tomorrow. I suspect he also felt the loneliness and isolation of Minerva when I had departed.
So, we are on the way again. Sailing to the south west with light following winds. Not going very fast, the following sea is rolling us around and spilling wind from the sails. It feels good to be on the last leg of the voyage.
A NIP IN THE AIR
September 16 2017
Last night was cool, for the first time since Hawaii I had track pants on with a long-sleeved fleece shirt. We are certainly out of the tropics now and I can expect more cold weather when we hit the south westerly winds later this evening. I will dig out my thermals – just in case.
Its only seven hundred miles to Opua in New Zealand but I can’t sail there direct due to weather. So, we continue our foray to the west. The sailing weather had been light but pleasant after a bit of rolling last night and we have kept moving nicely but slowly in the light airs.
For the past couple of days I have been cutting bits off my stock of carrots. There is some rot that is turning them black and wet. Unfortunately, the carrots are now so far gone as to be unusable. I ate what I could (should be seeing well in the dark tonight) and disposed of the remainder. The bread I bought in Tonga has also gone mouldy. In fact, all the fresh food I purchased in Tonga is deteriorating very quickly. I suppose that’s the price you pay for nice fresh food without preservatives or radiation sickness. No doubt if I had bought the food from an American supermarket it would still be looking fresh a month from now.
This evening I am expecting to pass through a front and the current northerly wind will swing to the south and increase. Already I can feel a difference in the sea so I suppose the action is only a few hours away.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Septembe 17 2017
Last night at midnight we passed through a weather front. As we approached the front we were becalmed and motored in windless conditions for an hour before picking up the wind from the south east. When the wind filled in it had some force, we had a boisterous sail to mid-day with more benign conditions since. There was some heavy spray over the boat which has helped wash the dust and grime from Nuku’alofa away. The topsides are sparkling now.
The weather forecast is firming up, looks like we continue heading west for three more days until making the turn for the south. I can see light at the end of the tunnel now and can start thinking of an ETA into Opua.
After lunch, I had an afternoon siesta. It was so good I went back and had another one. Well it is Sunday, the day of rest. Sunday is also the designated day for personal grooming, shower, shave, haircut and scrub down. I have not had a hot shower since leaving Honolulu – I am looking forward to that luxury.
For sundowners this afternoon I changed back into long sleeved shirt and track pants. It’s cool in the cockpit when the sun goes down. It feels like the south-east breeze is bringing cold air up from the Antarctic. For the cool weather I have switched to whisky and water. Very nice, I could have taken another one but resisted as I need to stay alert.
ENOUGH WEST – TURNING SOUTH TO NEW ZEALAND
September 20 2017
I haven’t posted a log for a couple of days. I didn’t have much to say, Truce and I have been beating to the west to get around a nasty patch of weather above New Zealand. Same slog day after day. After three days, we have gained enough distance to start turning to the south and hopefully benefiting from favourable winds on the last part of the voyage.
Of course, now that we have gained our westing the wind has disappeared completely and we are in an area of high pressure. It looks like we will be motoring for twenty-four hours until we are clear and into a breeze. I have my fingers crossed that the autopilot, engine and everything holds together until we reach the wind.
The yachts that I met along the way at Tonga and Minerva Reef are still waiting for a weather window to depart to NZ. That is a good safe tactic if you have the time and provides an enjoyable quick trip in good weather.
I intend to clear through customs in Opua, Bay of Islands. It’s the closest customs port if arriving from the north and once cleared in I can take a sail down the coast to Auckland. It will be so good to be back on the spectacular NZ coats again with its snug safe anchorages.
At late afternoon we were six hundred miles from Opua. If the last part of the voyage goes to plan we will be arriving there on the 26th September.
It seems I budgeted my beer stock just right. I have sufficient to last until Auckland and an emergency reserve in case of delays or bad weather on the way. One advantage of the cooler weather is also cooler sea water, beer laid in the bilge is nice and cool to drink now.
The last of my fresh Tonga vegetables has been consumed – only some onions and limes remain. These will also be gone before we land in Opua, not allowed to bring such stuff into New Zealand. They are strict on that law, don’t want to introduce pests that could decimate the agriculture sector.
WORKING TO GET SOUTH
September 21 2017
It’s a good job I made muffins yesterday – it would never have happened today, conditions are far too boisterous. The day started out with a rain squall and front just after midnight. Then a strong south west wind and swell set in and we have been using it all day make our way south the best we can. Our starboard bow is in the weather for a change, pushing aside the SW swells and sending a deluge of spray all over the boat. One consolation, the engine is off.
We are still looking at an ETA into Opua on Tuesday. Hopefully just ahead of the thirty-nine knot winds that are forecast.
I was thinking about the motion on board Truce today and realise she is very light compared to when we started the voyage up in Canoe Cove. Then we had on board provisions for six months and the weight of cases of soft drinks, beer, drinking water bottles, tinned and bottles provisions – a great weight. The fuel levels are now quite low and water is about half full – no wonder the movement feels more lively.
10,000 MILES WITH TRUCE
September 23 2017
Banging to windward all last night and today on starboard tack. Getting to New Zealand is a battle, every mile must be won. I am not complaining – some are still in the north waiting for a break in the weather and one yachtsman is sheltering at Raoul Island.
The daybreak this morning was beautiful and the day is sparkling but the wind is cool from the south west. I am seeing more birdlife today, this morning we were visited by an albatross. The bird circled a couple of times before flying alongside, looking us over with the beady eye of the ancient mariner. I hope he found everything in order. What majestic animals.
This morning I was completing our voyage records and discovered that today Truce and I have just completed 10,000 miles together today. We did 2,700 plus miles last year between Canoe Cove and Glacier Bay in Alaska. This year we have done over 7,200 miles across the Pacific, from Canada to New Zealand. I would say we know each other quite well although I still have much to learn.
Now less than 300 miles to Opua. Just a couple of days normally. But we still have a calm patch and a gale to get through. The maximum forecast winds for Tuesday have just increased from thirty-nine to forty-two knots. Oh boy – I don’t fancy that. I will hank on the storm staysail tomorrow and have it ready just in case.
DAY 13 ONWARD FROM TONGA
September 24 2017
This morning the wind finally died at ten, just ripples on the water. We now have a huge spreading calm patch to get through before picking up the strong north westerly winds that will take us the final step to Opua.
The Yanmar engine has been running since the wind left us. Maybe it will be running for the next day as well – if the diesel lasts out. So, we are making slow progress and now expect to arrive on wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night.
I haven’t seen much bird life today. I think the birds like some wind to play with, just like us sailors. In the distance I saw another boat this morning, don’t know what it was, not a big ship or yacht so maybe a fishing boat. The first boat I have seen since departing Minerva Reef on the 15th.
When making pasta last night one of my gas bottle ran out. One that I had refilled in San Francisco back in June. Amazing how long these gas bottles last, must be the best value fuel out there.
My food stock is getting low now, at least the stuff I want to eat. My diet for the next days until port will be boring pasta, noodles, cereal and the occasional tin of something.
Last night we changed clocks to Summer time in New Zealand. To celebrate this occasion, I am having an extra tot of Mount Gay Rum for sundowners this evening – I still have two fresh limes from Nuku’alofa.
ENGINE OFF AND SAILING AGAIN
September 25 2017
No wind this last twenty-four hours and the engine has been running constantly. The diesel bunker is getting low now so I was grateful when the wind finally showed up just after noon. Since then we have been sailing nicely straight down the track to Opua in beautiful freash weather.
In anticipation of the big blow this evening and tomorrow morning I have hanked on the storm staysail. A no nonsense robust little thing, built like a brick outhouse. I hope it’s not needed but better to rig it now than be fighting with it in the dark on a pitching deck and a howling wind.
This morning I saw another yacht ahead and to Starboard. They are now astern, I can just see the tip of their mast showing above the horizon. They may catch up later as I usually ease off at dusk so I can rest easy during the night. They are on the same course as me to Opua so we may meet up at the customs dock.
During my morning walk around the boat I noticed a few small squid that had come on board during the night. This seems to validate my theory about flying squid. They were perfect eating size, I wish I had got to them when they were still fresh. The bird life is back again this afternoon, they came back with the wind. Good to have company but the albatross has not been back.
ARRIVED NEW ZEALAND
September 26 2017
The wind overnight was not as strong as forecast so we were a little slower than anticipated, I really wanted to make some miles and reduce the time in the strong winds closer to the Bay of Islands. It turned out fine the wind picked up in the morning and I had a good thirty knots from the north west to blow us down from North Cape to the Bay of Islands. I sailed with the storm staysail and a small jib at an easy six knots with Micky the wind-vane in charge as usual. What a marvellous friend Mickey has been, keeping us on course in even the lightest winds and never complaining.
We rounded Cape Wiwiki and the outlaying Tikitiki Rock at four in the afternoon in gusty rain squalls. A harsh welcome but one that I relished. It seemed fitting end to the voyage. Soon we were motoring up the veronica passage to Opua where the Customs berth is situated, arriving after sunset. I had some difficulty getting alongside, the howling wind and driving rain, pushing us off the berth. On the third attempt I steamed Truce at slow speed bow to the dock and once we were balanced in the pusher position I jumped ashore with a line. Truce faithfully kept her bow on the dock and I was able to jump back on board, steam alongside the dock and secure the other mooring lines. An energetic arrival and no one around to witness my gymnastics.
A couple of boats came in after me later at night, both New Zealand boats coming back from Fiji. We all sat at the customs wharf overnight waiting for customs and biosecurity clearance in the morning. It’s not possible to go ashore until customs clearance has been obtained but I was happy to stay on board and relax. Now that truce was safely tied up and the voyage finished I had an extra tot of rum, reflected on the voyage and had a good chat to Ngozi now we are in phone range again. I will sleep in the forward cabin this evening and luxuriate in the extra bed space.
BAY OF ISLANDS
September 27 2017
What a beautiful sleep, I set my alarm for six but the phone battery expired overnight, the alarm didn’t alarm and I awoke at seven. Outside the sun was just coming up and it was a beautiful calm morning, such a contrast to the wet windy evening before. Shortly after my first fresh cup of coffee the Customs man arrived and handed me a bunch of paperwork to complete – said he would return.
The customs formalities were very straightforward – followed shortly after by the bio security inspection. As I don’t have a fridge on board it was simple as there are no meats or vegetables on board. After an inspection of the boat and stores the biosecurity man handed me my clearance and the inward formalities were complete.
Next, I motored into the Bay of Island marina and was allocated a guest berth. Once we were tied up I went to check into the marina where the friendly staff gave me a welcome bag with goodies, a small bottle of rum and useful information.
Today I just chilled out and didn’t do much. I went for a decent coffee, visited the local grocery store and got fresh provisions, caught up on my emails, had a wonderful ten-minute shower, did some laundry and the day just flew by. In the evening, I went to the Opua Cruising Club for a couple of beers to wash down the excellent fish and chips.
I am sure I will sleep well again tonight, the cooler weather helps.
REST, RECUPERATION AND TIDY UP IN OPUA
September 28 2017
Today was dedicated to clean up and chores on board Truce and taking it easy. In beautiful calm sunny weather, I set about tidying the boat. Stowing all the bits and bobs that I had been using on passage and stashed in the quarter berth for convenience and ease of access from the cockpit.
On the passage from Tonga we used the engine far more than usual to get through the extensive calm patches. All the running meant that the scheduled one-hundred-and-fifty-hour oil change became due sooner than expected. Changing the oil isn’t a job I like, it’s always messy sucking the old oil out of the dipstick hole. With a bag full of rags, the job was accomplished and Mr Yanmar now has clean oil and a new oil filter to keep him happy for a while.
Another session at the laundry means that we have fresh bed linen and towels on board. The last laundry session was in Honolulu and the supply of clean sheets and towels had been exhausted – laundry was definitely due.
I don’t know where the day went, time flies when your having fun, but soon it was happy hour and time for some refreshment. I got myself cleaned up and headed down to the Opua Yacht Club – just a short walk away. Nice to sit out on the deck overlooking the harbour as the sun goes down. The sand-flies also enjoyed dining out on my body.
I was back on-board Truce in the early evening as I plan to sail south tomorrow. I checked the weather, tides and put a course on the chart, with a list of available stops and shelters on the way. Not sure yet where I will go tomorrow. I am heading south down the coast towards Auckland, first I need to get around Cape Brett and then have an idea I may stop in Whangarei. We shall see tomorrow how it plays out.
HEADING SOUTH TOWARDS AUCKLAND
September 29 2017
I awoke early this morning – because I was cold – must find out where I stowed the blankets many months ago. It’s surprising that things can be hard to find on such a small boat.
As today is a moving day an early start was not a bad thing. After a life restoring cup of tea I walked to the local store and bought some fresh bread and milk. Then to the marina office to check out. The Bay of Islands Marina is a top-quality establishment and one of the best marinas I have stopped at – anywhere. They have good, clean, modern, facilities and a very helpful staff – thanks for making my stay enjoyable.
Shortly after checking out I let go from the berth and headed around to the fuel dock to bunker some diesel. After bunkering I caught the last of the ebb tide out into the bay.
The weather forecast was for Northerly winds but they didn’t arrive until late afternoon and then not strong enough to sail. So, it was motoring all day. At first we had overcast skies and intermittent rain and drizzle. Then after lunch the sky brightened and we had a glorious afternoon.
After rolling around Cape Brett I could see the coast laid out to the horizon – excellent visibility. The sea was alive with bird life, dolphins, sea lions and I assume plenty of fish. We continued motoring and just after six in the evening entered Tutakaka Harbour to anchor for the night.
Tomorrow I will continue heading south and call into Whangarei on the way. Ngozi is driving up from Auckland and we will meet up on Sunday at the town dock. I am looking forward to that.
STOP OFF AT WHANGAREI
September 30 2017
I had a nice peaceful night at Tutakaka anchorage. Truce rolled gently to the low swell coming over the reef at the harbour entrance. I had an early start, departing before sunrise, relying on the leading lights to guide me out of the harbour entrance, which always seems narrower than it is, past the outlaying reef. My early start was driven by the forecast of south westerly winds later in the morning that would be on the nose as we headed down the coast. I try to avoid any winds from ahead.
Once clear of Tutakaka we motored down the coast in rain and poor visibility until around nine when the cloud broke and the sun made an appearance. The sea and air around us was teaming with bird life – a sea lion surfaced alongside and startled me, in fact I think it startled both of us.
By ten we were past Bream head and heading up the channel into Whangarei Harbour. The south west wind started blowing hard but by this time we were around the corner and into the shelter of the harbour, we had just made it. Once we had motored past the refinery and commercial wharfs I anchored just past the Marsden Point Marina for lunch and to await the last three hours of flood tide to take us up into Whangarei town basin.
After lunch, I picked up the anchor and motored the remaining twelve miles up to Whangarei. One obstacle on the way is a bridge which must be lifted to allow passage. A call to bridge control on VHF channel 18 produced a positive response and as we motored towards the bridge it stated to open, we passed through without missing a beat.
Once past the bridge it’s a short distance to the town basin, a great mooring spot that’s sheltered and right in the centre of town. Just after three in the afternoon Truce was secure alongside, the sun was shining and all was well. I am looking forward to meeting up with Ngozi again tomorrow.
WHANGAEI TOWN BASIN
October 1 2017
Truce is tucked up in the Town Basin at Whangarei. A secure spot right in the centre of town close to all facilities, bars, restaurants, cafes and shops. This must be one of the best temporary stops in New Zealand. The weather forecast is for high winds – I have put out a couple of extra mooring lines.
Ngozi arrived just after nine and it was great to meet up again. The last time we were together was early June in San Francisco. We went up into town, had a nice brunch, watched a bit of the predictable match between the All Blacks and Argentinian Pumas, filled up my empty gas bottle and generally caught up on what’s been happening since I been away.
Later in the day the previous owners, of Truce came by and stopped for a drink and a chat. So, a nice social day in Whangarei.
In the evening, I was opening a glass jar and the whole thing shattered in my hand, cutting the top of my right index finger quire badly. I used some steri-strips to close the wound, wrapped plaster around it to hold it all together with a finger stall on top. Cutting that finger is particularly annoying – it’s the finger that does everything.
The weather forecast is quite horrendous. Very strong south westerly winds with speeds up to fifty knots. I will hunker down in Whangarei until conditions outside are more favourable to continue down to Auckland.
ANCHORED AT MANSION HOUSE BAY
October 4 2017
After spending a couple of peaceful days in Whangarei whilst the wind blew outside I finally sailed this morning, passing under the lifting bridge at eight forty-five – the first opening after the rush hour. I rode the ebb tide down the river, past Marsden Point and out the shipping channel, passing the fairway buoy three hours after departing the town basin.
The south westerly wind was still blowing but had reduced to fifteen to twenty knots, we could sail close hauled on starboard tack at between six and seven knots. The sun came out around mid-day and we had a great sail down the coast past Cape Rodney to the north channel by Kawau Island.
Just after six this evening we anchored in Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island – good sheltered anchorage from the south westerly wind. There are six other yachts sheltering here – there is plenty of room for everyone.
Tomorrow I expect to make the final hop down to Auckland, now less than thirty miles away. As I write this I realise this is my last night anchored out and solo. Tomorrow I should be sleeping ashore in a static bed.
October 15 2017
My arrival back in Auckland was a quiet affair, as we approached the wind disappeared and Mr Yanmar too us the final couple of miles into the harbour in sunny calm conditions. Truce is now berthed in Bayswater Marina where she will spend a couple of months until I find a more permanent berth in the New Year.
It was good to settle back into New Zealand life, especially as the summer weather is on the way and days are long and warm. As usual there are a heap of odd jobs to do around the house and garden, but no hurry, I am just taking it easy after my Pacific crossing.
However, it wasn’t too long before I was packing my bag for another trip overseas. This time for a ship delivery from the Netherlands to India. But that is the subject of another adventure.