Date: July 5, 2009
Location: Anacortes Marina, Fidalgo Island, Washington
This is very short because we've hit shore (figuratively and not literally) and we've been playing from, oh, even before we tied up at the dock.
Passage to Washington and the West Coast of the USA
Date: July 4, 2009
Location: Anacortes Marina, Fidalgo Island, Washington
Our friends came out on their boat, Ruby Slippers, to meet us in the Rosario Straits. These are really good friends because they came bearing our relatives and ice cream. They passed us soft serve cones packed up in a box from the bow of their boat. The transfer was completed via boat hook. We were ever so grateful. We went into the Anacortes Marina, tied up and popped some champagne, we're back on the Left Coast.
Date: July 3, 2009
Location: 48º 22' N 125º 06' W at 1200 hours
We switched our clocks ahead one more hour this morning, so I think we're caught up with the west coast now. Which is good because we sighted Land Ho! this morning and this afternoon we entered the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The girls have recently read all 4 of the Edward and Bella books that started with Twilight. And they've watched our copy of the movie Twilight often enough to be able to recite dialogue. So now we're interested in passing Port Angeles because it figures in book and film. I was excited to find that La Push is a real place and I found it on our chart. Only 85 miles to go to Anacortes. We're keeping our fingers crossed to make it in for 4th of July festivities.
Date: July 2, 2009
Location: 47º 15' N 127º 53' W at 1200 hours
We're closing in on Cape Flattery. The wind turned to a more favorable direction so we are back on course. I was wondering when we would start seeing ships. The answer is about 120 miles out. We saw maybe one ship in the past two and a half weeks and then within the space of an hour we've seen three already. From here on in we won't be alone. Oh, and you need to know the rest of the kayak story... as we got closer to the Coast Guard radios and received better transmissions, we learned that the kayak rental company wasn't just interested in their kayak, they were also concerned about the people who were out in it. We were in blissful ignorance of the kayak-renter's peril until some other boat reported that they had found them. We're not sure where they were, but all's well that ends well.
Date: July 1, 2009
Location: 46º 21' N 130º 43' W at 1200 hours
We've gotten wind, our idyllic passage is over. We've been close hauled in 20 knots of wind and not exactly aimed at Cape Flattery. I'm having South American flashbacks, not good. The grib files suggest an improvement tomorrow. The VHF has come to life. We're hearing bits and pieces of Coast Guard announcements. Some rental company lost a kayak and if anyone finds it, they'd like it back. We've got out eyes peeled.
Date: June 30, 2009
Location: 45º 56' N 133º 36' W at 1200 hours
For fun we declared ourselves in a new time zone again. Now I think we're only one hour behind the west coast. When we've been projecting arrivals we've always put them in Washington time, although realistically we're probably better off guessing dates for arrival instead of times until we get really really close. Not much else new here. We're sailing again. It's sunny, but still chilly. The dolphins stopped by this morning and brought a few more friends with them. The kids saw an albatross up close. Under 500 miles to go to Anacortes.
Date: June 29, 2009
Location: 45º 08' N 135º 51' W at 1200 hours
The wind is down again, so we're still motor sailing. Last night at twilight the water was fairly calm and Geoff thought it was like sailing on liquid mercury. This afternoon we had the return of the dolphins. Yesterday a couple of black & white speed demon dolphins came by and buzzed the boat. They were more black than white, so they reminded us of the double stuff dolphins from Patagonia, but they weren't exactly alike. Perhaps they are cousins. But these guys are fast. They zipped back and forth from bow to stern and from port to starboard in the blink of an eye. They appeared, played for while, and then were gone in a flash. Today they were back and pretty much did the same thing. I've been feeling a little slow today. I think I should have some of whatever they're having to perk me up.
Date: June 28, 2009
Location: 44º 11' N 138º 20' W at 1200 hours
This morning I saw large dorsal fins not too far from the boat. I woke up the girls for their watch by practically dragging them out of their bunks to come and see the wildlife. Of course by the time they got on the deck the fins were gone. I decided that they might have been orcas. Why? Because. Not just because I really want to see some but because the fins were riding the waves like dolphins and not sharks, and the fins were too large to be dolphins, and the fins were the correct shape to be orcas. So there. Orcas. Watching mysterious wildlife builds up an appetite, so Claire and I entered into negotiations for breakfast with our resident baker, Alex.
K&C: We would like you to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast pretty please.
K&C: Okay, how about cinnamon bread?
K&C: Regular bread?
K&C: Bisquick coffee cake?
K&C: Bisquick base with cherry pie filling on top?
A: Cherry pie?
She drives a hard bargain. To save face Claire and I are pretending that we wanted cherry pie all along. Maybe tomorrow we'll try for cinnamon rolls again.
Date: June 27, 2009
Location: 43º 19' N 140º 24' W at 1200 hours
It's been an interesting day, in a good way. This morning the sun broke through the clouds. That was a meteorological morale booster right there. Later we had a brief game of nautical bowling for birds. It was brief because there was only one bird on the water. We got pretty close before it decided to fly away. I declare us the winners because the bird looked mighty put out. I asked the kids if they had anything to say. Alex said to let you know we're wearing long johns. Ah yes, we are pathetic, tropically-acclimated people who will show up in Anacortes wearing polar survival gear to be met by smiling people on the dock wearing shorts and t-shirts. Promise not to laugh in our faces.
Date: June 26, 2009
Location: 42º 13' N 142º 50' W at 1200 hours
We are less than 1000 miles from Anacortes!!! Time for an arrival update. From our current position, here are projected arrival dates based on different boat speeds: if we travel at 4.5 kts ETA 0600 July 5, at 5.0 kts ETA 0930 July 4 and at 5.5 kts ETA 1700 July 3.
Last night we heard voices on the VHF. The voices were conversing in what sounded like Japanese. They were laughing and joking. Are crew allowed to have fun on night watch? We increased our diligence on watch, but we didn't see anything. Tonight, a container ship appeared out of the mist. We are not alone.
Date: June 25, 2009
Location: 40º 57' N 145º 25' W at 1200 hours
We're existing in our own grey little world today. Our particular patch of the ocean was foggy this morning. As the day wore on the fog retreated somewhat, but never lifted completely. We could tell the sun was up because the grey got lighter and the solar panels were doing their thing. Right now it appears that the sun is valiantly trying to burn a connection to us. Go Sun! For fun we decided to declare ourselves in a new time zone. We set our clocks ahead one hour. Now sunrise should come later than 0400.
Date: June 24, 2009
Location: 39º 38' N 147º 53' W at 1200 hours
We've run into grey skies again and I'm sorry to say that my mood has "greyed" as well. I guess I've always enjoyed sunshine. Heck, even in Minnesota it would be so cold that you could freeze a scarf to your lips just by breathing moist air through it, BUT it would be sunny. California's rainy season used to test my endurance for days spent under grey clouds. It once went over two weeks of solid overcast and rain. I was pressing my nose against the glass and watching the low spots in our back yard fill up with water and dreaming of sunnier pastures. Or maybe that round of shacky-wacky was due to the fact that I was trapped indoors with toddlers. Claire and Alex are now content to read books to themselves, but I'm still looking for the sun.
Temp. and clothing update - we've broken out some jackets.
Date: June 23, 2009
Location: 38º 39' N 149º 51' W at 1200 hours
We're still sailing, although we took the spinnaker down in favor of our jib and put the main back up. The wind has changed. In fact, this morning we decided to call it chilly and we all put on pants. I had to patch my jeans before I could put them on though. Most people would have gotten rid of these pants, but the pants and I have been through a lot together, so I patch them and we keep going. At this point they may be more patch than original material. The girls think I should be extra warm because the jeans are double ply. I'm sure you'll get a chance to see them because I'm not throwing them away. They're classics.
Date: June 22, 2009
Location: 37º 35' N 151º 38' W at 1200 hours
I got out the bird book this afternoon and Claire and I looked up our feathered friends. The booby was a Red-Footed Booby and the fat brown guy was a Black-Footed Albatross. The sea bird book says that gannetts and boobies can sometimes be visually mistaken for each other , but that gannetts usually avoid boats and boobies love them. Oh yes, we were feeling the love. We were even left some tokens of our booby's esteem, right there on the foredeck.
Today we were able to turn off our engine and go back to pure sailpower. We are running the spinnaker and the mizzen. Our speed is down, but it is so much more peaceful this way. The girls can watch a movie and they don't need to turn on the subtitles. While we were in Hilo we invested in some new DVDs. We're having a good time watching Mama Mia and singing along. Pierce Brosnan is easy on the eyes, but oh dear, the man cannot sing. We give him points for trying though, and looking like he was having a good time doing it.
Date: June 21, 2009
Location: 36º 18' N 153º 39' W at 1200 hours
After much mature consideration of the grib files, barometer, clouds, swirling trash eddies, tea leaves and cast dragon knuckle-bones, we decided to make our turn towards the west coast. As of 1815 yesterday we are on a course of approx. 051 deg. True, heading for Cape Flattery. While it is mostly sunny, I noticed that the air felt cooler today. And there was a serious fog bank surrounding the boat this morning at sunrise. I don't feel like we're in the tropics any more. It's starting to feel a little bit more like home. Speaking of home, here are some possible ETAs for Anacortes based on some different speeds: at 4.5 kt ETA 2100 on 7/5/09; at 5.0 kt ETA 1700 on 7/4/09; at 5.5 kt ETA 1300 on 7/3/09. Would anyone care to join us in a "Guess the Arrival Time" game?
And on a completely different note, today is the Summer Solstice. Geoff and I are considering dancing nude on the foredeck under the almost new moon. The girls are planning on staying below with their eyes tightly closed. To each his own.
Happy Father's Day!
Date: June 20, 2009
Location: 34º 56' N 155º 01' W at 1200 hours
Today it's all about the High. I look at the barometer and I try to visualize where we are in it. I'm watching the clouds and the wind ripples on the water and I'm trying to figure out where it is coming from and where it is going. I am trying to think like the High. No, scratch that, I am trying to BE the High. If only I could use the Force. In the meantime, Alex made chocolate and butterscotch chip cookies and we still have a couple left for tonight. Food is good for the contemplative soul.
Date: June 19, 2009
Location: 32º 55' N 155º 01' W at 1200 hours
We're still following our trash trail. The refuse highlight of the day was the 4 ft. sq. piece of bright orange fishing net that floated past us. I'll say this for Hansel & Gretel, they are determined not to lose us. We're motor-sailing today. We've been watching the barometer climb to a reading that almost matches what the grib files suggest the H is at, and our wind has been dropping correspondingly. So now we're trying to figure out when we'll be able to begin our turn toward Cape Flattery. We're hoping sooner than later.
And today we had some wildlife. Not one but two mystery birds spent some time with us today. The bird book is back where Geoff sleeps, so we'll figure out what they were later. At first it was one bird, but later in the afternoon the first bird returned with another. I'm feeling romantic. Maybe Mr. Bird wanted to make sure we were okay for Mrs. Bird to be around before he brought her over to fish in our wake. And we saw two jellyfish with the big sails. At first we thought that plastic bags were inflated and floating past in the rubbish stream, but with the binocs we could see that the bubbles were organic and attached to jellyfish. Do Portuguese Men-of-War populate the Northern Pacific?
Tonight promises to be clear. I think we'll add star-gazing to our nature activities for the day. You can go outside and look for the Big Dipper and know that we are seeing it too.
Date: June 18, 2009
Location: 30º 50' N 155º 01' W at 1200 hours
Today we've seen signs of civilization. Early this morning a big, black, round, boat fender floated by. About an hour later we saw a piece of line. Then a red & yellow piece of flat paper or plastic went by. Next was another length of line. But wait, there's more. After another hour or so a short block of who-knows-what floated past. And the kids informed me that a shampoo bottle just went by on the port side. Perhaps we're following a nautical Hansel & Gretel. If that's true, will we cross the high and end up at a West Marine with the Wicked Witch lurking inside? I wonder how we get rid of her, I'm not sure West Marine is big on large ovens. Maybe we tell her that we want a Raymarine radar cable (which she won't stock) and when she goes to look for it in the back room we lock her in and then rescue Hansel & Gretel and load up a cart with goodies and all of us sail off to Anacortes. It could happen.
Date: June 17, 2009
Location: 28º 40' N 155º 02' W at 1200 hours
Before we left Hilo, Geoff downloaded a new viewer for the Grib files. It's pretty cool. Now we get to see color-coded wind strength. The mellow, milder winds are blue and green while the stronger winds are orange and red. The new view also shows a big H for high and L for low. We were pretty good at figuring out what was where with the old system, but this instant identification is fun. Oh, and the best thing is the little boat that shows up at your given position on each day if you submit a starting place and estimated speed. Claire will run the week for me and I can watch the little Fafner move into and out of different winds. So far the suggested locations of the highs and lows have changed every day as we receive new information. Our game plan is to go north until about 40 degrees and then turn for Cape Flattery. We're secretly hoping to be able to turn early and cut that corner a little bit, but it all depends on the weather. We shall see what the gribs have in store for us tonight.
Date: June 16, 2009
Location: 26º 20' N 155º 02' W at 1200 hours
Another pleasant day. We're using our time to catch up on some aspects of contemporary culture. It started in Hawaii. Did I tell you that we hit the teen-ager jackpot? We arrived with our two on board. Then a week later our friends on Imani arrived with their 15 year old son. The three kids were enjoying swapping movies and books and ventured out into town to find the bowling alley and the cineplex. Then, drumroll please, last Tuesday was a big day. Two Canadian boats, Orca III and Malachi, arrived and brought with them five kids, one was a 9 year old but the others were all teens. And then our friends on Liberty arrived with their two teenaged boys. It took a little while for the kids to actually speak to each other, but after they did we lost all of them to each other. The kids were swapping music and talking about movies and books and all kinds of things. I think they played poker. One afternoon they were even seen playing with a hula hoop. We were the first to break up the teen-fest and move on. But now we've got the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and the Twilight books and we've got a copy of the Twilight movie and the new Hellboy flick. We've also decided that if Beyonce' were a boy her world, and ours, would definitely be different. Do you have any other important cultural updates for us? I only got to see a couple weeks of tabloids while waiting in line at the grocery store. It seems that Brad and Angelina are up to tricks. Oh the things we've missed.
Date: June 15, 2009
Location: 24º 11' N 155º 02' W at 1200 hours
We're enjoying the wind we have while we can, it is not too strong, from a good direction and accompanied by white clouds and sunshine. We're heading for the high though... Some time last night Geoff picked up a hitch hiker. He noticed a dark blob riding on the bow pulpit and when it got light enough to see things he realized it was a bird. When I got up we thought it was a gull because it was white. When the sun broke the horizon and I could see even more detail I realized that our avian rider was not a gull but a booby! He was white with black on his wings and had red feet but a blue bill. I'm going to have to dig out the bird book to see if we had a cross between a red-footed and blue-footed booby. I watched him preen every feather he owned at least twice. Another bird flew by and our friend squawked at him. I'm not sure if the booby was asking how the early morning fish were biting or if he was warning the other bird that this was HIS fishing hole. By about 0630 however, the booby decided that it was time to go. After he took off he circled the boat a few times, he was a bobby after all, and then flew off toward the horizon. I've heard that Polynesians believe that when a booby lands on the water they calm the seas. I'm happy the booby rode on our bow last night and kept our ride easy. Now what do we do about the rest of the days?
Date: June 14, 2009
Location: 21º 51' N 155º 03' W at 1200 hours
Late this morning a series of grey clouds passed by and asked us for directions to Hawaii. The clouds said they were out gathering up moisture and they were interested in finding some land to go share their water with. We sent them toward Honolulu instead of Hilo. We'll have to ask our friends if our ploy to help them enjoy some dry time worked. We got drizzled on while at the King Kamehameha Day festivities. The MC explained that drizzle was actually Hilo air-conditioning. We've had a little air-conditioning on this passage already. I am so looking forward to extended sunshine.
Date: June 13, 2009
A very quick note to let you know we left Hilo this afternoon and are heading for Anacortes, WA. The sturgeron is kicking in, so,zzzzzzzzzzzz
Hilo, Hawaii, USA
Date: June 11, 2009
Location: tied up to the wall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii
We're still in Hilo. We're really really really leaving on Saturday. Our friends on Liberty arrived on Tuesday night and we've been having too much fun seeing them again. Geoff originally wanted to leave today, but Claire, Alex, Yvette and I all gave him the big puppy-dog eyes and we're staying until Saturday. We're not leaving on a Friday. We ignored the whole not starting a passage on a Friday thing twice and we had less than stellar passages, so, no more. And today is King Kamehameha's birthday. We have to go and partake of the hula demonstrations, chant exhibitions and food booths. And if we're really lucky, we can see a genuine Polynesian sailing canoe. We think the ones that are moored in Radio Bay next to us are going to go over to the city front. We'll wave at our neighbors.
Date: June 6, 2009
Location: tied up to the wall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii
Yesterday Geoff and Claire drove over to the Kona side and picked up our transmission. Today the four of us, with the help of an ingenious pulley system comprised of our preventers and other assorted blocks and lines, got the 160 lb. transmission from the trunk of the rental car, to the cockpit, down into the engine hole, and reattached to the engine. I think it was an excellent practical physics lab for the girls. Geoff and Claire did the bulk of the hanging upside down replacing of bolts. They mumbled something about dealing with the propeller tomorrow.
But it's not all work and no play. We did manage to get out to see the lava flowing at dusk last week. Marc and Tristan from Imani came with us. We drove to the end of the road and parked with all the other tourists. We had to hike maybe a half-mile to the designated viewing area. We passed a guy selling flashlights, a woman selling hand-made jewelry, another guy selling water and walking sticks and a guy selling special lava photographs taken TODAY. We were wearing shorts and carrying a backpack full of our water bottles, flashlights and sweatshirts so we didn't need any of their wares. I do admit to stealing surreptitious glances at the photos though. The park service does an excellent job of warning tourists. We chose to disregard the suggestion of leather gloves and long pants but not everyone did. We passed a family group all wearing gardening gloves and day-glo vests. I'm afraid we look the low road and laughed. We did have the decency to wait until they were far enough away not to hear us.
The path was easy, well-marked and worn down from several years of tourist feet. Yellow and white paint rectangles marked the ground and were easy to spot in the dark on the way back to the car. We joined the group of about 50-60 people sitting in a roped-off lava patch. From there we could see where the lava was flowing into the ocean. Note to selves, bring binoculars next time. We complained about forgetting them loudly enough that a good Samaritan let us use his. The view got better as darkness fell because the red from the lava was reflecting off the steam from the ocean. We enjoyed watching the flow until we realized that lava is not particularly soft and that we had lost all feeling in our rear ends. We dug out our flashlights and made our way along the trail following the "yellow brick road markers" back to the car. We passed the still hopeful photo and jewelry entrepreneurs. The flashlight and the walking stick guys had gone home. And soon, so were we.
Date: May 29, 2009
Location: tied up to the wall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii
It pays to read the newspaper. Tucked between articles about Swine Flu and the American Idol finale I found an article discussing the 40 year anniversary of the Moana Ulu eruption. Volcano National Park was sponsoring some guided hikes out to the crater. Yee ha! Our guide was a retired geologist who now volunteers in the park. In fact, he co-wrote the new guidebook to the trail we hiked on. I, of course, bought one and got him to autograph it. It was not as good as hiking out to the active lava flow, but it was cool because our guide took us to a part of the park that they normally don't allow self-directed tourists into. I guess there were patches where we could have gotten ourselves into trouble by walking on thin lava crust and fallen into a hole up to our knees or thighs. I didn't have the impression that we were going to melt ourselves although we did get bathed by steam vents and felt very danger loving. Speaking of danger, - no no, not us, OTHER people - we met another geologist who was leading another hike who had indeed fallen into hot lava. Back when Moana Ulu was erupting, he went out to take surveys and samples with a couple of other scientists. He stepped onto what looked like solid ground that wasn't and fell in lava up to his knee. Luckily he was able to pull his leg out quickly and only one leg went in. The other scientists thought he was joking at first. Ha, ha, ha, yeah, right, you've just plunged your leg into molten, streaming lava, ha, ha, oh, wait, your pants and boot have melted off. He still had to hike out and then they got him to a hospital. He had 3rd degree burns and required a lengthy hospital stay but today he only has a small scar on the leg that doesn't have as much hair on it. Claire wants to go hike out to see the lava flowing now, but the rest of us may be content with driving out to a designated viewing area at dusk to see the red lava moving.
Now I'm agitating to find a beach. After all, this is a tropical island even if we're finding it cooler than the ones we've gotten used to. The temperature of the water is in the 70's, bbbrrrrr.
Date: May 25, 2009
Location: tied up to the wall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii
We are now tied up to the wall in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii. First we anchored out in Reed's Bay because the Coast Guard said we needed clearance to be in Radio Bay and the Hilo Harbor Master had gone home by the time we arrived. Hilo doesn't have Coast Guard that answer the radio, I was talking to Honolulu. The nice young Coastie I was talking to on the VHF offered to give me the after-hours phone number to call the Harbor Master. He sounded non-plussed when I told him we didn't have a phone. He thought for a moment and then called for us on his phone. No one answered. He told us to wait on board until Monday (this was Saturday)and then we could check in. I'm afraid we were not very understanding. In fact, we were a trifle pushy. We explained that we had recently completed a two-year circumnavigation and a 16 day passage and that we WANTED to go ashore and that we WEREN'T inclined to wait for two days for the Customs Officer to find us and clear us in. My new friend told me to stand by and went to go talk to someone. When he came back he explained that we had special permission to go ashore to find a phone to call the Customs Officer on Hawaii to set up an appointment for checking in. We took that to mean we could go ashore. Geoff and Claire went into Radio Bay in the dinghy to find a phone while Alex and I stayed on board. We were anchored in a spot with not very good holding, so we were keeping an eye on things. Geoff and Claire met the crews on two other boats in Radio Bay who explained that most boats just came in and then they met the harbor security guards who told us to come on in. We moved the boat and anchored out in Radio Bay. On our way into Hilo the transmission was making some horrible noises, so we were happy to make it into the more sheltered harbor with better holding. As it turned out, the next morning, Sunday, while we were talking to our neighbors, a hail came from shore. It was the Customs Officer. Honolulu told him we were here and he drove over from Kona (the other side of the island) on his day off to check us in so we could leave the boat. He was a really good guy. We went to his office, filled out forms, he asked us questions and then we were done. He said he remembered both Nomad (Geoff's parents)and Sea Breeze (Geoff's brother, Chris). We got our neighbors to help us and we got Fafner tied up to shore.
And here we are. We are happy to be here because we can gratify all kinds of culinary whims and we can repair boat stuff. We're starting the projects and the chores and then we'll do some sight-seeing. So mostly what we've seen of Hawaii so far have been the insides of - a laundromat, a grocery store, a chandlery, a couple of repair shops, and a diner. We'll find the bowling alley soon.
Date: May 16, 2009
Location: 19º 43.950' N 155º 03.172' W anchored in Radio Bay, Hilo, Hawaii
We arrived in Hilo!!! We dropped anchor at 1840 and now we are here. This is short because we are pressed for time of all the weird things to say. We are checking weather for Liberty underway and we need to talk to them soon. So, more later.
Date: May 15, 2009
Location: 18º 34' N 152º 34' W at 1200 hours
Last night the wind died. And then the current which had been helping us go westward decided that it would be more fun to flow eastward. We're only a couple hundred miles from Hilo. We decided to charge our batteries in gear. Our batteries are now fully charged and the chart plotter says that if we can maintain a speed of at least 5.2 kts we can be in Hilo tomorrow before dark. The wind hasn't come back yet, so we think we'll give the batteries a thrill by letting them get really really really full of charge and keep motorsailing. The call of the A&W is proving to be too strong to resist.
We know there are others out here. Last night Geoff saw a ship. It had all of the proper regulation lights and behaved in a consistent manner. I like polite ships. This afternoon the VHF crackled into life too. The Honolulu Coast Guard came on to suggest to someone that channel 16 was not a channel to hold conversations on. We can only hear the Coast Guard side of this, so we enjoyed speculating on the content of the other conversation. Maybe we'll hear Hilo soon too. I wonder if A&W has a hailing channel.
Date: May 14, 2009
Location: 17º 29' N 150º 42' W at 1200 hours
This morning I found a suspiciously fish-shaped slime outline on the window of our dodger. It looked like one of those crime-scene chalk outlines of dead bodies, except my outline was filled in and had a couple of scales stuck on for good measure. As I looked at the scales I was thinking about a children's book I used to read the girls when they were little. The book was called Rainbow Fish and the hero fish finally makes friends by sharing his lovely rainbow scales with the other fish. Our fish shared his scales all right, but it was the last thing he did. I thought about keeping the scales as a sort of Rainbow Fish Memorial, but then I decided that the little flying fish would much prefer me to wash the scales back into the boundless ocean from whence he came. My decision had nothing to do with thinking a slimy, scaly dodger was unattractive. In other news, we realized that we still had a bag of Doritos, Nacho Cheese I might add, purchased in Nuku Hiva for tres French Polynesian Francs. We thought it would be criminal to arrive in Hawaii with the Doritos still intact, so we ate them. The list of foods we're looking for in Hilo now includes Butterfinger candy bars, thick milk shakes made with ice cream, juicy steaks and "real" burritos. Only about two more days before we can gratify our whims.
Date: May 13, 2009
Location: 16º 20' N 148º 37' W at 1200 hours
We've been watching the schools of flying fish whiz away from the boat in groups of 30 or more. The school size is what seems to be the difference we've noticed between the flying fish south of the equator and north of it. South of the equator the fish were loners, or if they were social they only had a few close friends. Up here the fish are more gregarious and cavort in larger groups. Of course that also means that they appear on the deck in the morning in greater numbers too. We hit the jackpot yesterday with 6 stiff corpses dispersed on the deck. Claire found one behind the driver's seat. I found one by the port winch, one cleverly covering a deck drain and two wedged alongside the jib track. The best one, however, was the fish we found on the ledge created by the galley window. I went to make tea in the morning and I looked out the window to survey the horizon. One cold, black eye looked back at me. Poor fish. Claire flipped him overboard and we saluted as he sank.
Date: May 12, 2009
Location: 14º 42' N 146º 45' W at 1200 hours
Is there such a thing as passage fatigue? I think I have it. Today was a lovely clear day with blue sky and a few white clouds and reduced winds and I couldn't find the energy to be excited by any of it. Perhaps I just need more caffeine. We're enjoying talking to both Liberty and Imani on the SSB. Imani seems to know about Hilo, so Marc is sharing crucial info with us, like the presence in Hilo of an A&W root beer AND a bowling alley. The girls and Marc's son, Tristan, are aquiver with excitement over the possibilities. Making social plans should fight malaise.
Date: May 11, 2009
Location: 12º 52' N 145º 08' W at 1200 hours
We have been hot and tired and a little out of sorts lately. For example, I came across Claire in the galley staring at our teapot. It doesn't whistle any more because we sort of melted the cap on the spout clean off. Apparently the designers of the teapot didn't consider the possibility that their teapot would have butane flames licking up its sides. The cap was plastic. So even though we've learned to recognize the sound of boiling water swishing around in the teapot, sometimes we wait until steam comes out the spout. Claire was watching for steam. For quite a while. Eventually she came to life again and made her tea. All the grey days in a row are/were hard. However, today the sun came back and our collective mood lifted a little. Alex has been in the galley too. She made us cookies today just because. I think the sunshine and the cookies are doing the trick. We were able to laugh at the school of flying fish trying to escape our boat. 29 of the 30 fish all took off in a direction away from the boat. One lone fish decided to take us on and headed toward us. I think I admire that fish's initiative even if I question its judgment. Tomorrow maybe I will be more ready to meet things head-on. After all, I've got cookies.
Date: May 10, 2009
Location: 10º 56' N 143º 43' W at 1200 hours
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!
Well, the wind did not come down much, but today is a little better than yesterday, in terms of weather a least. The boom vang on the main broke last night. We have put it back as best as we can, and we will work on it some more when we get to Hilo. We are now sailing with only the mizzen and the jib, because we noticed that the pad-eye for the main sheet was loose. We are getting very tired of this weather, please send some good wind thoughts our way. Claire
Date: May 9, 2009
Location: 08º 55' N 142º 17' W at 1200 hours
Well, we are finally out of the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone), but the weather is not much better. We don't have lines of squalls anymore, so no more rain, but the wind is still here. The wind was worse this morning than this afternoon, and it should be coming down tonight so tomorrow should be better. Claire
Date: May 8, 2009
Location: 06º 50' N 141º 04' W at 1200 hours
We're hoping that we are close to getting out of the ITCZ. We can't really say that we've enjoyed our stay, although instead of finding ourselves becalmed we've found wind in the squalls and have done some zippy sailing even with rolled up jib and main only. A dorado jumped completely out of the water behind the boat today. He waved his fins at Claire in a taunting way and splashed back down. Looks like Hamachi has been talking.
Date: May 7, 2009
Location: 04º 22' N 140º 34' W at 1200 hours
Mom and Dad saw a boat this morning. They thought they lost him when he turned off his lights. They found him again, but just before a squall hit it disappeared. Since it was acting funny we've decided that it was a fishing boat. It's been squally all day so maybe we've found the ITCZ. Alex
Date: May 6, 2009
Location: 02º 03' N 140º 19' W at 1200 hours
Not much to report other than here we are, going there, not so swiftly. The wind has turned a little more to the north so we have turned a little more to the west. We are finally able to talk to our friends on Liberty via the SSB. They are in Pago Pago, American Samoa waiting for favorable weather to begin their passage to Hawaii. They are planning to stop at Christmas Island on the way. It's killing me not to start singing one of my favorite holidays songs every time I hear Christmas Island. Okay, since you asked... Leon Redbone sings it, "Would you like to spend Christmas, on Christmas Island, would you like to hang your stocking on a great big coconut tree..." You all must now look this song up and listen to it.
Date: May 5, 2009
Location: 00º 08' N 140º 06' W at 1200 hours
It's a red-letter day here on Fafner, we crossed the equator AND it's Cinco de Mayo. Two excuses to whoop it up in one day. We're beside ourselves with routine breaking excitement. I woke the kids up for their watch at 0800 and Alex immediately set to work baking Equator cookies. I tried to get her to lay sprinkles along the cookie's diameters but she thought that was a lot of work to put into cookies that weren't going to make it until noon. We crossed the equator at 0910 hours and downed an entire bottle of Captain Jack Morgan's Spiced Rum to celebrate. Then we ate cookies.
Americans have latched onto Cinco de Mayo as a day to drink cervesas and eat Mexican food. From living in San Jose I know that the Independence Day in September is more important from a historical perspective, but who am I to pass up an opportunity to enjoy Mexican Food? On St. Patrick's Day we enjoyed tostadas with corn tortillas and refried beans. For this Cinco de Mayo we had corned beef and cabbage. Okay, that's not entirely true. The girls made their corn tortillas and rice and we dug out one of our remaining cans of refried beans - but- we had a can of corned beef the girls mixed with taco seasonings and I still have a portion of a cabbage I got them to chop up too. So we had corned beef and cabbage tostadas with refried beans.
And before you all start worrying about our judgment and sobriety, our bottle of rum was a 50 ml airplane bottle and the 4 of us shared it.
Date: May 4, 2009
Location: 01º 32' S 139º 59' W at 1200 hours
The sky is hazy, and although I can see to the horizon, I'm not sure just how far away that horizon goes. This morning I was surprised to see what I thought was a tiny mast coming toward me out of the haze. It wasn't a boat mast, it was a buoy. My initial thought was that even out in the middle of the ocean I had managed to find some fishing accoutrement. Ack! I grabbed the binocs and started looking for floaties or flags on sticks or a trawler or something. After I calmed down and thought about it I decided it couldn't possibly a fishing buoy and that maybe it was a weather buoy. Or it just escaped its regular position to go on a Polynesian holiday. Now I know what's really happened when guide books say that channel markers or buoys are missing. They pick up and go out adventuring.
Date: May 3, 2009
Location: 03º 52' S 139º 59' W at 1200 hours
The kids spotted a container ship this afternoon. It's our first in a long long time, so long in fact that we can't remember when we saw the last one. We're not alone. Oh, and we had some big fun this afternoon. The welds on the bars of our solar panel frame/monstrosity decided that they'd had enough and so they came apart. We took the thing down in pieces and now have solar panels in the dinghy, metal bars in the lazarette, and the top frame piece tied on the stern acting as an additional back gate. Our transom looks airier now and we sort of like it. We're going to be busy in Hilo.
Date: May 2, 2009
Location: 06º 18' S 139º 59' W at 1200 hours
I thought we might be getting a little jaded where aquatic wildlife is concerned, but I'm happy to report that I was wrong and we're not jaded at all. Yesterday we routed ourselves past the bay right before Anaho Bay on the north-ish end of Nuku Hiva so we could sail with the pygmy orcas. We were joined by a whole fleet of them. What is the proper name for a group of orcas, a pod? Our group included mothers with babies. The mothers with young that were about half their size kept their babies right next to them, but they allowed the youngsters to swim on the mom-side facing the boat. The mothers with smaller young kept themselves between us and their baby. Do we look that scary? All the other orcas came up and played around the bow. Then today Alex and I saw a whale sound about three boat lengths from Fafner. First our whale shot spray from his blow-hole, then he arched his back and then we saw his tail -flukes and all- and he disappeared beneath the waves. We were excited about both encounters and are looking for more. Where are the flying fish? Heck, where's Hamachi?
Nuku Hiva, Marquesas
Date: May 1, 2009
Location: 08º 43' S 139º 59' W at 1200 hours
We left Nuku Hiva today and are on our way to Hilo, Hawaii. We almost left yesterday, but with one thing or another it got late enough in the afternoon for us to decide that one more night in Taiohae would be just right. And as it turns out there was another teen lurking in the anchorage. I was ashore with the girls and we ran into his Dad at the dinghy dock. Dad noticed the girls and mentioned that his 15 year old son was on board their catamaran but that son was shy. The girls and I brought some of our books over to their boat to trade and the kids met. We had a nice visit and the kids made plans to go wake boarding behind our dinghy and that was that, a new friend. It was fun to hear the three of them laughing and being silly. So once we decided to stay for one more night the kids took good advantage of the time. Imani is also heading to Hilo in a few days on their way home - they're from Sausalito - so we hope to see them again.