Fafner Log

Indian Ocean (Thailand to Yemen)

Date: April 4, 2008

Location: 14º 31.480' N 49º 07.961' E old anchorage, Al Mukalla, Yemen

We're here!! We arrived at 1500 local time. We're impressed with the desert landscape and white buildings. We can see a line of old forts dotting the ridge above the town. Claire wants to go and climb the hills, of course, she's an Arnold and those are the tallest things around. And she's been stuck in a small space for two weeks.

We went into town for dinner. The agent who came out to process our paperwork said that the girls and I didn't need to wear head scarves. Walking around town, I think maybe we do. Men were everywhere. The men were sitting in outdoor cafes, playing games at tables outdoors, walking around and driving. We saw families out walking this evening too. And there were women out and about, but none of the adult women were dressed in anything other than black burquas. Needless to say, we stood out. The girls and I were the only women in the restaurant. On the other hand, the people we've met so far have been very friendly and don't seem to care that we stand out.

Tomorrow we'll look for new food, laundry, fuel, our friends on the French boat and a welder.

Date: April 3, 2008

Location: 14º 12' N 51º 37' E at 1200

We are only about 100 miles out and we hope to make it in tomorrow. Today has been another on-again-off-again wind kind of day. We were purists and sailed until the chart plotter started tempting us with its siren song of "if you went this many knots you could be at your waypoint in 20 hours..." We turned on the motor and have been motor-sailing ever since.

Date: April 2, 2008

Location: 13º 58' N 53º 30' E at 1200

We're still plugging away out here. Last night the wind died again. More motoring today. We're seeing more shipping traffic as we get closer to the Red Sea. Now I'm starting to like them, I figure they can sweep away any fishing nets that might be in the way. We haven't seen any fishermen or their nets, but I'm sure they're out there. Waiting. For me.

Date: April 1, 2008

Location: 13º 39' N 55º 33' E at 1200

Today was a very interesting day. It all started when I saw a ship in front of us. I showed it to dad. It was directly in front of us, so we changed our course a bit. Then we realized that it wasn't moving. I looked at it through binoculars, and it looked kinda funny. Dad looked at it and said that it wasn't a ship at all it was an oil platform. We changed our course a little more. As we got closer we noticed that it had something strange on it. Dad got out the binoculars again. He said, " It's a... it's a...". Then he started laughing. He handed me the binoculars. I asked him what was so funny and he said "look". I looked. On top of the oil platform there was a building, and on the building there was a sign, and the sign said "Fosters Freeze". We couldn't believe it. Alex and Mom came up wondering why we were laughing so hard. " So," Dad said, " who wants some ice cream?" We pulled up to the oil platform and had lunch. Mom and Alex had cheese burgers, Dad and I had two hot dogs each, and we all had onion rings and milk shakes. These were not flavored milk, milk shakes, these were thick American milk shakes. After, we had the famous half and half dip cones! For those of you not familiar with Fosters Freeze, we had soft serve ice cream, half chocolate half vanilla, dipped in chocolate. We were all sad when we had to leave but we have to keep moving. In case you were wondering they did take American dollars, and I think they will take Euros if you are really desperate.

Happy April 1!

Date: March 31, 2008

Location: 13º 00' N 57º 32' E at 1200

It's a red letter day for us here on Fafner. Today at 1232 we crossed our Halfway Around the World line. We've been chilling a bottle of champagne for the last couple of days in preparation. We popped the cork and had our cups ready to toast as we crossed the line. Geoff thinks it's appropriate that we were flying our spinnaker and doing 6 knots at the time. Immediately before and after we crossed the line we were doing in the neighborhood of 4 knots. But the fun started last night. So we've had a pretty eventful, relatively speaking for a passage, day.

Last night the water was especially phosphorescent. Geoff was watching dolphins playing around the bow in the dark. He called the girls to come on deck and watch with him. I was asleep. They said that the luminescence surrounding the dolphins made them look like something from a storybook. The dolphins glowed blue. The kids liked watching the flying fish trails. As one would expect, they don't track in straight lines. As the boat got close to the flying fish, the fish would take off in several directions, each trail then zig-zagging here and there until the fish launched itself out of the water.

Around dawn we turned off the engine. Geoff and the girls repaired the spinnaker on their morning watch. I was asleep again. Claire went up the mast and wire-tied then taped hose over the ends of the spreaders. All they could find to use were two rolls of electrical tape, red and green. You can guess what they did with it. This morning while Claire was up the mast there was little wind, but the wind has filled in as the day has progressed.

We've been listening to the tunes in our MP3 player in alphabetical order according to album. Right now we are listening to albums in the 'o's and 'p's. This list includes the "Pure Disco" album. We have the assortment on shuffle play. I mention this because we had the music on during our cockpit party. We were eating the chocolate cake Alex made. I lost on the carrot cake. The rest of the crew seemed to think that any cake with vegetables in it was not party food. So we had chocolate cake. We had champagne. We had company. A booby flew over. Claire had put out our fishing line and the silly booby was checking out the red & black plastic squid with interest. I didn't like the gleam in his eye, so Claire took in the line. The party was in full swing when, I swear this is true, Geoff's "favorite" song cued up. We got to eat cake, drink champagne, watch the booby fly around and listen to The Village People sing, "YMCA." Ah Dale, you should have been here.

Geoff has been compiling data for us to share with you.

Time to halfway 554 days, 1.52 years

Miles to halfway 17,582.5 nm

Days sailing (part or all) 228

Percent Sailing 41.0%

Longest Day's run 168 nm Phuket to Maldives

Shortest Day's run 36 nm Mexico to Galapagos

Farthest North 37º 40' N - Leaving SF Bay

Farthest South 21º 12' S - Rarotonga

Farthest East 89º 36' W - Wreck Bay Galapagos

Farthest West 57º 30' E - halfway point

Date: March 30, 2008

Location: 12º 39' N 59º 24' E at 1200

Another day, another hundred or so miles. We're still motor sailing, although I think it's really more motoring than sailing. I can see some clouds, so maybe, just maybe, we'll get the wind the grib files keep teasing us with. We're gearing up for our Half-way Around the World achievement. You can celebrate with us. We expect to cross our "line" sometime tomorrow afternoon. All of you can lay in a supply of an appropriate beverage and toast with us. I'm negotiating with Alex for a carrot cake. We need to do something with our remaining two carrots. They aren't crisp enough to be appealing any more but I'm too stubborn to just chuck them overboard.

Date: March 29, 2008

Location: 12º 14' N 61º 21' E at 1200

I think we're in the middle of the high. There isn't a cloud in the sky, not even a wisp. While it means we have no wind, I can enjoy my unhindered view of the stars at night. We've made SSB contact with the group of boats we met in Male'. There are four of them between 60 to 150 miles behind us. They left the day after we did and they are going to Al Mukallah also. We also contact a couple more boats via email that we didn't meet face-to-face but are getting to know through writing. They left Uligamu, Maldives and are aiming for Oman. And there is the French boat out there too. They are planning on stopping on the island of Suqutra. We've sent e-mails. So, all in all, there are 8 of us heading to Oman and Yemen at the present time. We have a code for sharing our position on the radio in the morning, but if I told you, then I'd have to kill you. Who's paranoid?

Date: March 28, 2008

Location: 11º 48' N 63º 19' E at 1200

Yesterday I left you with a sort of cliff-hanger. Would the Fafners start their engine? What would happen if they did? And did they enjoy their dinner? Dinner was lovely. Alex made tortillas and rice for a meal of soft tacos designed to feature the refried beans we found in Male'. Geoff and Claire were feeling carnivor-ish, so they hunted in our stores for an appropriate can of meat. They settled on lemon-flavored tuna. I tried some. It worked. After dinner we did fire up the engine and it worked. We ran it for a while and then gave it a rest. Today we sailed a bunch until we lost our gentle winds and couldn't stand speeds below 2 knots. Then we turned it on again. In the South Pacific we sailed. Except for mostly motoring around to anchorages in Tonga, but that doesn't count, only the charter people sailed there. In Indonesia the wind and currents made for prime motoring territory. I'm afraid we're having to retrain ourselves as sailors. But oh, it's hard to creep along barely faster than the waterbottles and trash bags.

Date: March 27, 2008

Location: 11º 19' N 65º 02' E at 1200

Last night was eventful.

We had been motoring along when the wind came up. The wind was up enough, and from aft enough, for us to set our spinnaker. It was quite exciting, we made speed. We kept it up all night long. I felt oh so clever and sailor-ly. We had conquered the light wind and bent it to our will. It is never a good idea to harbor such thoughts. The Greeks could have told me all about hubris. Bah. We were cooking, 5 and 6 knots! I could almost stick my face out around the dodger and let my ears flap in the breeze. This afternoon an anti-squall came through and sucked all the wind away. The poor spinnaker was confused. It flopped this way and that way. I tried changing course in order to fill it, to no avail. In frustration I woke up Geoff for a consultation. He came up and noticed a rip in the spinnaker. I felt as deflated as the sail. The entire crew came up on deck to take the spinnaker down. The sock slid smoothly until it got to the spreader on the main. An edge of the spinnaker was caught in the bull clip. Claire ended up donning her climbing harness and going up the mast. Once up, she swung out to the end of the spreader and freed the caught edge. I'm so glad she likes this kind of stuff. We got the spinnaker down and put away. Tomorrow we'll haul it out and repair it and try again.

For now we're just bobbing along psyching ourselves up to crank up the engine. We're not ready to turn on the engine because of last night's other event. Geoff casually asked, does it smell like exhaust in here to you? We opened up the floor to look at the engine. The exhaust mixing elbow/can had rusted through and exhaust and water were going into the bilge. We turned off the engine and put up the spinnaker and that's where the first part of this story fit in. This morning during the kid's watch, Geoff and the girls took the main salon floor apart and wrestled the thing out. Geoff sanded it and epoxied a piece of fiberglass over the hole. It spent the day drying in the cockpit. After we got the spinnaker down this afternoon, Geoff and Claire opened up the floor and wrestled the thing back into place. We think we'll eat dinner and then give the engine a shot. We could just sail the entire rest of the way, at our current speed it should only take us 12 more days to get to Al Mukallah. And I was feeling so sailor-ly.

Date: March 26, 2008

Location: 10º 51' N 66º 58' E at 1200

This morning we passed through a fish boil. Visions of sushi danced in Claire's head. She put out the fish line and we've been towing it all day. Perhaps the local fish don't know that red plastic squids are exceptionally tasty. No nibbles so far. Our fishing skills seem to be as good as ever. Last night I rescued a flying fish from the starboard side-deck. He was flopping around juuuuust outside the open galley window. A few more vigorous flops and he could have fallen onto or behind our stove. Neither option would have been ideal. For any of us. We may like sushi, especially for dinner, but we're not partial to dried fish for breakfast.

Date: March 25, 2008

Location: 10º 03' N 69º 00' E at 1200

We are in 15,000 feet of water, we are 300 miles from even the tiniest island. Last night on his watch Dad found AND ran over a fishing net complete with flashies. We were sailing so we didn't catch anything. This morning we found a floating water bottle and a piece of pipe. There was also a flock of birds. It has been nice and sunny despite all the math I've done. Perhaps I will find more to write about tomorrow.

Date: March 24, 2008

Location: 08º 41' N 70º 16' E at 1200

We are having a great time here in the Lakshadweep Sea. We have seen four fishing boats and four ships since dawn this morning. It looks like we are going to have to pay attention. One fishing boat asked if we wanted fish. They wanted to trade for wine and cigarettes. We said that we didn't want any fish and that we did not have any cigarettes. A bird landed on the solar panels last night. It was just after dark and the moon was almost over the horizon. A dark shape loomed up behind us. I watched it come closer and closer. The black shape suddenly had wings. I told every one to be quiet, so the bird would not get startled. He tried to land. He didn't make it so he squawked. He finally laded on the fifth or sixth try and stayed until four in the morning. We are sailing again.

Date: March 23, 2008

Location: 06º 48' N 71º 19' E at 1200

Happy Easter! Yes,the Easter bunny came all the way out here. Or should I say Easter bear. Adventure bear looks adorable in the ears and nose-whiskers Claire made for him yesterday. He claims lavender and pink aren't manly colors. We don't know what he's talking about. I made bread today and managed not to burn the yeast. I also made a yellow cake. I cheated and used a cake mix. Or as Claire and I like to say I "used my resources wisely". We ate cake and had Coke. Also since Easter is about renewal and stuff we figured we should take showers. Claire and I have been eating candy all afternoon. We stoped because Mom and Dad said they wanted dinner and didn't think candy was enough. Adults are funny that way. Oh, there are three dolphins around. I should go because dinner is almost done. But I will leave you with some Easter haiku I wrote.

Easter Bunny came, Good Easter to you,

There are treats he left for us, We wear the somber colors,

Says breakfast to me. Of Lent no longer.

Date: March 22, 2008

Location: 05º 41' N 72º 12' E at 1200

You know Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds? Well today we had Fafner's The Dolphins. There were swarms of dolphins surrounding us. There must have been at least a hundred. The best part is that they would jump out of the water. They stayed for maybe half an hour before leaving. Claire and I watched from the bow. It was nice to sail. Just us, the ocean and a bird. We've been motoring since 1630 today. The batteries needed charging. And the wind decided to lighten. But we'll sail as much as possible. Last night our boat speed got down to three quarters of a knot. Not for very long though. Claire is crocheting bunny ears and a nose with whiskers for Adventure Bear. It was Mom's idea. We are vaguely reminded of A Christmas Story. Except these ears are mostly lavender not all pink. I'll let you know how the festivities go tomorrow.

Date: March 21, 2008

Location: 04º 10' N 73º 30' E at 1200

Last night the wind changed direction and this morning around 1100 we left. The weather looks like it should be improving from a helpful wind direction perspective, so we took off. Now I hope the squalls dissipate as well. I'm such a fair weather person. Only 1700 or so miles to go to Yemen. We're aiming for Al-Mukallah which is 260 miles east of Aden.

Date: March 20, 2008

Location: 04º 13' N 73º 32' E, anchored in lagoon off airport (Hulhule Island)

Last night we went over to the French boat that rescued our dinghy, Fio-Oko. Geoff and Armande had a grand time swapping weather information and discussing the multitude of fees assessed here in Male'. Fio-Oko is Armande's boat. He has been living and working in New Caledonia for the past 8 years. His family doesn't enjoy long passages, so they join him in ports. The rest of the crew aboard Fio-Oko consists of Isobelle and her son Ludivic. Ludivic is 11, another kid! They have their own boat and a similar family situation. So Armande and Isobelle find crew and buddy-boat their long passages. However, Male' is not the place to casually find crew. I cannot even image where a young sailing bum would hang out here, much less thrive during their period between boats. So, Isobelle left her boat on a mooring in front of a resort where they befriended the staff and first they will sail Armande's boat to Yemen. Armande will get his 18 year old son to mind Fio-Oko in Yemen and Isobelle and Armande will fly back to Male' and then sail Isobelle's boat to Yemen. They want to get both boats into the Med this season. They are even more anxious than we are to leave Male'. Last night while the weather did its thing we were happy talking and sharing grappa. Armande's father has a company (distillery?) that makes grappa. I tried a sip. Wow, it was potent. Ludivic does not know much English and is therefore a trifle shy. The girls are not exactly what I'd call overtly gregarious on first meetings either. The kids found common ground in a computer game, however, and were happily killing off Ivan the Terrible and invading countries. I think they were playing Age of Empires. The girls were invited over today to practice French. I'm going to shove them out the door and over to Fio Oko as soon as is polite.

Wish us luck on leaving.

Date: March 18, 2008

Location: 04º 13' N 73º 32' E, anchored in lagoon off airport (Hulhule Island)

We're still here. The weather for leaving wasn't goo today. Frankly, it doesn't look good for tomorrow either. Yesterday Geoff and Claire and I went ashore to check out etc. A healthy squall kicked in and we got soaked walking around town, and the wind kicked up. The waves in the anchorage were like That Night again. Bleah. When we got back to shore, our dinghy was missing. Aaaiiieee! I was afraid it had come untied and floated away. Geoff and Claire went hunting down the wall for it. The Dudes were around and they said someone had taken it out into the anchorage. It turned out that good Samaritans on the new French boat (they arrived yesterday) saw our dinghy trying to sneak under the dock and they rescued it. Bruce & Kelly (from the surfing contingent) came ashore to get us. We all got completely soaked. Then it poured again, so we sort of rinsed off. Today I need to make cookies to say thanks.

Date: March 17, 2008

Location: 04º 13' N 73º 32' E, anchored in lagoon off airport (Hulhule Island)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Bad weather has delayed us a little bit. A storm system decided to drop by and we spent a day on the boat. Geoff and the kids did schoolwork and boat chores and watched Numbers. I either watched the picture of our boat on the chartplotter to make sure it stayed put, or I watched the neighboring boats to make sure they stayed put. I've been told I'm taking anchor worry to new heights. But the winds were quite healthy, I believe fresh is the term, and they moved around from different directions. We had quite a chop even behind our reef. It felt like being underway. Today the sky seems clearer and the wind is definitely down. We won't get soaked taking the dinghy to shore. We'll get fuel and finish checking out and hopefully leave tomorrow. Kosmos left yesterday afternoon for Oman.

Geoff and Claire braved the choppy, wet, dinghy trip to the ferry dock on Saturday. Unfortunately, our agent was out of his office on Saturday. We couldn't start checking out, but they did load the new pictures and updates on the website and they bought a copy of the movie Golden Compass. Yesterday we all went ashore and did a grocery run and went to the internet cafe. I'm typing this in hopes we go again today. I was looking everywhere for jelly beans and finding none. I did find good chocolate, although not in the shape of a bunny.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. There was not a Christian anything anywhere in sight. At Christmas-time we went to Flores which is the predominantly Christian island in predominantly Muslin Indonesia. Alex and I found a Catholic church there. Here everyone is Muslim and there are mosques and that's it. Everything is closed on Fridays and the weekend is Friday and Saturday. So we went to our agent's office on Palm Sunday and it was business as usual. It felt a little odd. Although, to be fair, I go to the grocery store and OSH on Sundays in San Jose. For Easter we can read The Passion and the rest to ourselves. And I have the complete Messiah, we can play the Easter part of it. Funny, there's tons of popular Christmas music, but aside from Easter bonnets and Little Peter Cottontail, you don't get much Easter music outside of church. I'll have to sing to fill the void.

Date: March 13, 2008

Location: 04º 13' N 73º 32' E, anchored in lagoon off airport (Hulhule Island)

We're back. We had a blast at our Himmafushi anchorage. One particular day we went snorkeling and hit the wildlife jackpot. We scared a large manta ray into moving, we saw more blue tangs and other colorful fish, we watched crabs jump from rock to rock and we saw eels. We saw an eel chasing the crabs. We're sure the eels were after the crabs because we saw one eel with a little crab leg hanging out of its mouth. Perhaps that's why the crabs jump. The water was even a toasty 96 degrees F. Geoff eventually had to get out of the water because he got too hot. Me, I was loving it.

Date: March 11, 2008

Location: 04º 18' N 73º 33' E, (04 deg 18.405 min N, 073 deg 33.766 min E for Ed and Google Earth-ing), anchored in Himmafushi lagoon

We moved to a new anchorage today. We found three boats with kids! They are at this anchorage too. Hhmmm, sense a connection? We're looking for snorkeling here. This afternoon we went out and saw a lot of dead coral. Dead coral is sad. But there were fish too. We went over the edge of the reef and found live coral and more fish, but it was deep. The kids called it the mini-drop-off. We snorkeled over the part that was over the inside of the atoll, only 140 feet deep as opposed to going off the ocean side which quickly drops to thousands of feet. We saw parrot fish and blue tangs, starfish and sea cucumbers and lots of others I don't know the names of. Claire saw a sea turtle. We plan to stay here for a couple of days and then go back to the airport lagoon and start to get ready to leave for Yemen.

Date: March 3, 2008

Location: 04º 13' N 73º 32' E, anchored in lagoon off airport (Hulhule Island)

Assalaam Alaikum. We're here on Male! We arrived this morning and had the big fun checking in. Male was not the easiest check in we've had. It wasn't really bad though. I guess I'm still suffering from sticker shock. We did not procure the services of an agent before we arrived. Apparently this is unheard of, or at least discouraged. When I finally got a port official to talk to me on the VHF, he asked for the name of my agent. When I told him that we did not have one, he had to ask me to stand by in order to find out what to do with us. Eventually a pilot boat bearing three officials came out to us while we were motoring around in the waiting anchorage. We were motoring because the area was 150 feet deep. Anchor, schmanchor. However, we were motoring around in the waiting anchorage for shipping, not for yachts. After filling out some paperwork they showed us a shallower spot where we could anchor while Geoff went ashore to show someone our passports. They were good guys. They did all the paperwork on our hot boat and then they found us a 40 foot patch to anchor in that was surrounded by 70 to 90 feet of water. We did get an agent because without one we could only stay for 72 hours. And without one we could not get permission to go anywhere other than the 40 foot patch of water we were anchored in. And without one they could not assess us fee after fee after fee. Because we didn't use the agent for check, in we saved ourselves 150 EURO in check in fees. I don't know about the check in procedures in the northern and southern ends of the Maldives, but it is expensive to come here to Male.

That said, it looks gorgeous. We are now anchored in a lagoon just off the airport. There are a few other yachts here and some local tour boats. One of the yachties told us that it fills up on weekends. I'm glad we've staked out a claim early. When it's a little cooler and I've rested sufficiently, I will go and dinghy over to meet the neighbors. I want to find out about all the good places to see and cool things to do. We've already learned that even the non-spicy food is, um, spicy. Our new agent suggested a place for Geoff to get lunch. The agent said that it was not spicy, not like Indian food. Ha. That taught us to steer clear of Indian food.

Date: March 2, 2008

Location: 04º 31' N 75º 11' E at 1200

Yesterday I told Claire she should climb the mast today just so we'd have something to put in the e-mail. I was kidding. Claire climbed the mast today. She wanted to get good pictures of the glass calm water. It was calm ,but occasionally we'd roll slightly. Claire almost tangled herself around the flag halyard as she was coming down the upper on such a roll. She says " Tom Cruise ain't got nothing on me". The Mission Impossible stunt she's referring to is a close second. Claire and Dad saw a 4ft fish try to be a flying fish today. It jumped once behind us, once next to us and once in front. I'm not sure how I missed it even though I was down below making breakfast. Claire says she thinks an oceanic shark scared it. Remarkably we're sailing right now. We think we'll be in tomorrow.

Date: March 1, 2008

Location: 04º 55' N 77º 05' E at 1200

Not a whole lot happened today. We took showers. We are still motoring as the wind is still light. The only good thing about the light wind is that there isn't much rolling. We saw a fishing boat today,but it didn't come close. Mom found a blue flashie last night along with some fishing boats. Claire saw six shooting stars a couple nights ago. They favored Orion. Unless you want details of my chapter review in math that's all I've got for today.

Date: February 29, 2008

Location: 05º 21' N 79º 11' E at 1200

Oh boy, a bonus day! This morning while I was asleep, I've been informed that Geoff and the girls saw an unopened bag of chips float by. They were sure it was unopened because it was puffed up and, well, still floating. And they let it go by!! Chips! Who has a sad need for grease and preservatives... They tried to point out that we still have one bag of Doritoes on board, but hunting down free-range chips might have made them taste even better. We've already eaten one bag of Thai Doritoes and found them acceptable. We've found that the same brand names from home taste different elsewhere. SE Asia seems to like sweet. The sodas for instance, even the diet sodas, are sweeter. In fact, most foods are sweeter. Except for those foods that are so spicy your lips fall off after eating them. Maybe the sweet stuff is in reaction to the spicy foods. We like sweet things in general, but we still draw the line at sweet tomato sauce for pizza.

Date: February 28, 2008

Location: 05º 45' N 81º 21' E at 1200

I'll tell you what, going to Singapore has worked wonders on our perspective regarding tanker proximity. We're close to the southern end of Sri Lanka and we've found a preferred shipping path. I won't go so far as to call it a shipping lane, even though the charts would. We've had a steady stream of container ships going past the boat since last night, and since they've limited themselves to coming one at a time, we're not getting so worked up about them. Ho hum, another ship, shall we alter course? Nah, why move before we see if we're going to get close enough to scrape paint off either hull. However, I do admit to a moment of tension this afternoon as I watched a tanker approach and get larger and more distinct without changing direction. I almost had to do something. In our little game of chicken he cracked first. He altered course. Secretly I was pleased. We avoided a collision and I got bragging rights. He tooted his horn once as he passed us. I'm sure it was in greeting.

Fishing boats still make my palms sweat though. I saw one sitting squarely in our path this afternoon. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore and I altered course. So much for my moral superiority and bragging rights. Soon after, he altered course to come over to us. Aaaiiiee! I invited Geoff to come and lend his manly, captainly presence to the cockpit. The four young guys in the fishing boat came alongside and asked if we had any cigarettes. We said no, I took their picture, they waved and took off. More friendly encounters like that one and I may be able to smile benignly at trawlers.

Claire has been working on soft sculpture this passage. She's crocheting more sea creatures. Today she made a box fish like the one we saw at the Bang Mud restaurant on Phuket. Alex named the one at the Bang Mud. She called it Chad. Chad was large, so you pronounce his name, CHAD. Claire did not have that much marled brown yarn, so she made a little box fish. Alex named the new one chad.

We found some good wind today so we went crazy and put up the mizzen in addition to the main and the jib. Woo hoo!

Date: February 27, 2008

Location: 06º 10' N 83º 41' E at 1200

The wind continues to tease us. It's here, but in no great quantity. The clasp knife in the mast for wind just doesn't work with metal masts. We put out the fish line today with no luck. However a 6 in. long fish jumped on deck. I threw him back and now there's fish blood on the transom. We saw three crabbies float by on a log. We've seen a few ships, but little else unless squalls are included. That's all for now.

Date: February 26, 2008

Location: 06º 25' N 85º 22' E at 1200

This morning we saw two whales, a big one and a little one. They didn't stay for long. We're back to motoring. The wind gods must be laughing at their handiwork. Earlier on Dad's watch about 50 passed us by. Last night we crossed our half-way point to the Maldives. In honor of that I baked a cake today. It was a nice treat. Claire crocheted a flying fish for sculpture class. I wanted to name him Crispy, but was out voted. He's been named Fishstick. Well that's all for today, we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Date: February 25, 2008

Location: 06º 42' N 87º 11' E at 1200

Well it was clear this morning and it's clear now, but on Mom's watch it rained. I don't know what is about her, but she must have offended someone high-up. We had lost the wind around 2000 yesterday. Now at 1800 we are sailing again. It's nice to be able to hear the person next to you without straining your ears. We saw a whale today. At least Claire and Mom did. We were 440nm from Sri Lanka last night and Mom found a fishing boat. It had to change course to miss us. Now we've got the whole ocean to ourselves again.

Date: February 24, 2008

Location: 07º 02' N 89º 30' E at 1200

I thought yesterday was dreary, I was wrong. But every grey cloud has its silver lining. We saw dolphins this morning. These guys are small, only about as big as me. There were two babies that must have been 2ft. long. They stayed right next to their mothers. The dolphins played around the bow for awhile. I was wondering if it was only fair to wake up Mom, but I decided against it. Claire and I are technically on watch but Claire is representing the both of us as it is raining. I hope tomorrow brings clear skies.

Date: February 23, 2008

Location: 07º 27' N 92º 18' E at 1200

There's not a lot to report today. Unless blackish-blue seas and cloudy skies are incredibly interesting,of course. We did see some dolphins. They were scaring lots flying fish. There were some birds around too so it must have been good fishing. I'm writing the e-mail today because it's raining outside and Mom and Dad didn't think we needed to get wet. Claire and I did math in math and chemistry hence the rain. Maybe we'll have more to write tomorrow

Date: February 22, 2008

Location: 07º 38' N 94º 28' E at 1200

Our wind remains light, but pleasant. We've poled out the jib again because the wind is mostly from behind. And that would be about it for today. The kids saw a piece of styrofoam float past the boat. That by itself is a non-event. But this piece of styrofoam had a crab for a passenger. Alex has a thing for crabs. She and Claire watched the crab go past and were speculating on its eventual destination. I was voting for Sri Lanka but the current is probably going to take him to the Nicobar Islands. I asked about his general chances for survival and I was informed that the styrofoam had already collected plenty of scum for crabbie to eat and would only grow more.

Date: February 21, 2008

Location: 07º 40' N 96º 24' E at 1200

This morning when I woke up I found that it was strangely quiet and that Geoff had unrolled these big white things that came with the boat. The boat was being propelled just by the wind caught in the cloth. How unusual. What else has me really pleased is the absence of fishermen. We're a day and a half offshore in water beyond the scope of our depth sounder and we haven't seen hide nor hair of a trawler, float, fish stake, flag on a stick or flashie. Geoff saw a ship in the distance. Last night we had an almost full moon and a calm sea. At 0200 I noticed that a pod of dolphins was playing around the bow. I went forward to watch them. I don't know why I was surprised to see them playing at night, they don't need to keep human hours. It was cool to watch them in the moonlight diving and jumping and swimming with the boat. Finally I couldn't stand being alone with my wonder and I tried to get the kids to come and watch too. Both girls informed me that it was the middle of the night and that I was a lunatic and asked that I leave them to sleep. So much for enjoying the glories of nature in company. I went back to the bow and gloried by myself.

Date: February 20, 2008

Location: 07º 53' N 98º 28' E at 1200

I think we're getting better at this shallow water stuff. Geoff and the kids can discuss water less than 10 feet deep calmly while traversing it. I seem to have developed a couple of nervous tics, but overall, we're good. Today we left the marina on a 2.7 m high tide. We were going to leave yesterday, but Geoff was delayed by checkout officialdom, and we missed the tide. Today was our day. Hanging around the marina was good for picking up local gossip. The channel in from the bay is used by two marinas, Royal Phuket and Boat Lagoon. The channel is not natural and needs to be dredged. Boat Lagoon offered to split the cost of dredging with Royal Phuket, but Royal Phuket declined. Now each seems to be waiting for the other one to do something. Meanwhile, even in the short time we were there, I've noticed that yachts arrive and depart only on certain tides, which means you are stuck in or out for days at a time. People's schedules are one thing, but the tides also help explain why 5 boats came in the day we did on a 3 m tide and then no one until two days ago. We asked for a pilot to help us navigate the channel.

I thought we were low water experienced after getting down to 15 feet outside Sekupang on Batam. Ha. Today Alex and Geoff and Claire were watching depths in the channel as we left the marina, hovering at 5 feet. Our depth sounder is not at boat bottom, so we still have about 3 more feet of water under us. I'll remind you that we draw 7 feet. They hit a patch that suddenly read 12 feet and that was what disturbed them. As soon as the depth started dropping again they felt they were back to "normal." Where was I during all this fun? I was up on the bow, far far way from places where I could see the depth or hear them discuss it. I told them I was up there to watch the pilot and that I was performing a valuable service. My eyes didn't twitch once. At the moment, after traveling since 1100 we're only in 250 feet of water. I can see on the chart that we should find depths in the thousands again. It's funny what you get used to and what you miss. Starting out in the South Pacific and getting excited about finding good anchoring in 60 - 90 feet is not the way to prepare for traveling in water that's 40 feet deep and anchoring in much less. The Maldives are atolls again. I wonder what we'll find there. We're looking forward to clear water and good snorkeling.