Thursday, April 29, 2010

North is South

09* 54.4' South
139* 06.2' West
April 29, 2010
Tahuata, Marquesas, French Polynesia

I have been known to lose my bearings when waterways do not run north and south (I have lived most of life between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, near the coast of the Pacific Ocean), or rivers that are supposed to run east and west suddenly take a jog to the north (I still don't get the quadrants of Portland). It seems funny to me watching the sunrise out of the ocean from the dock in Annapolis (the sun is supposed to SET in the ocean). Imagine how disoriented I felt when I first visited the east coast of Australia - the sun was coming up out of the ocean and going around the opposite part of the sky.
Well, I am here to say that it has happened again! The other day, here in Tahuata, I did a couple of loads of laundry and baked some potatoes in my solar oven. We are anchored in a bay along the west coast of an island that runs roughly north and south - so far so good, this orientation is working for me. So, being the domestic engineer that I am with an area of expertise in laundry drying, I hung out all my clean laundry along the south side of the boat for maximum sun exposure. I pointed my solar oven in a roughly southerly direction on the bow so that I would not have to keep moving it all day. Luckily, I did go and check on things mid-morning and I noticed that my shadow (which I also use to help position the oven) was falling in the exact opposite direction relative to how I had set up the oven. Then, it hit me! I am in the Southern Hemisphere and the sun moves across the NORTH part of sky. Yikes! By that time, it was almost noon and the laundry was almost dry even on the shadier side of the boat, but I have made the shift in thinking.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

On to Tahuata

09* 48.1' South
139* 09.1' West

Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia
April 26, 2010

I have fallen into bed the last couple of nights because our days have been so jam-packed. Yesterday, Tim, Behan and I rode into town early in order to catch the farm truck. We were rewarded with fresh lettuce, melons and passion fruit! Being Saturday, the baguettes were a little later than usual, but when Behan picked them up, they were still warm. I would call that a good thing. Brad had wanted to check out the Gaugin Museum and so, upon finding out that it was only open in the morning, he and Jamie, hoofed it into town with the boys. We only managed about a half hour, but it was worth it. What a collection of Gaugin's art - very impressive. A local young man, about the boys' age, took great pleasure in sharing a book full of traditional Marquesan designs. After a quick snack of soft ice cream (buy it when you can-it might be gone if you come back later), we headed to the local snack shack, Snack Make Make (pronounced: snack-makki-makki), for hamburgers. We ate with some other folks from the anchorage. One of the families had three young kids and we heading back to Sydney, Australia from buying their boat in Croatia! They had crossed from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. The boys pushed the bikes up to the top of the hill while I made a quick detour to the local carver's house - his wife had targeted me in the post office parking lot while I was trying to send the last blog post. They were a great couple with beautiful carvings for sale. Cruisers must provide one of the better opportunities for selling their wares - yes, we now have a small tiki protecting CAPAZ. Upon our return to the boat, we quickly grabbed water bottles and jumped back in the dinghy to meet most of the crews of Totem and Mulan for a hike up the valley above the anchorage to see some petroglyphs and a swimming hole. The rock art was impressive and the swimming hole was cool. The took great pleasure in holding very still so that the fresh water shrimp would come and give them an exfoliation treatment.
Today, we woke up and Brad decided we should rent a car and see the rest of the island. This activity came highly recommended by both Oso Blanco and Mulan. I rode to the car rental place here by the anchorage which was locked up tight. I then, continued on to the one in town. David, the owner and his wife, were more than happy to rent me their truck (the kind with a full back seat). Unfortunately, it required about a 45 minute tune-up before I got headed back to the anchorage. Brad and Tim made sure our anchor was secure and pulled together a picnic lunch and we were off. For the most part the roads here are great, but along the coast, going to the Tiki site on the other side of the island, Andrew best describes them as "good old country roads like back home" (he's from New Zealand). Did I mention the goats crossing the roads on some of the hairpin switchbacks? We are talking narrow and clinging to cliffs. All in all, it was worth it. The Tiki site at the end of the road was well worth it. The other place that we checked out was an idyllic community down a beautiful, lush valley that opens into a small bay. The whole mouth of the narrow valley is a community park with a soccer field, outrigger club, and swimming hole (the river is dammed up before it runs into the sea). There were locals picnicking and playing bocci ball. Even though it was a steep, rocky beach, I still managed to find a few good shells. The only gas station on the island was not open today, so we were sweating our fuel situation and coasted most of the from the 2700' ridge down into the anchorage.
We plan to get ourselves packed up in morning and return the car before we headed to Tahuata for a couple of days. Then, we will be heading northeast to Nuku Hiva for a rendez-vous with Tim's wife and my college roommate, Kelly!

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Friday, April 23, 2010

You Make the Choice

April 23, 2010
3:00 am
Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia

So, I need to take a poll of my blog readers, so please respond (via the comments section-you should be able to sign in as "anonymous" and then you can sign your comment . . . . . . or not) sincerely to how you would approach my situation:
We have just arrived in a new port, new country, with new money (which we had none of), new food, new customs, new time zone and a new language (that I haven't spoken in twenty years). The boat has to be converted from passage making form to more of a live aboard form (one thing is we like to have a table in our main salon for typing blog entries).
I have been diligent about making sure that family and friends know about your progress (position) and welfare (we are all still fine) for three weeks fairly consistently. It was very hard for me to write most days as typing would often bring on the queasiness that I battled most of the passage, due to the inconsistency of the wave direction (give me the roll of an anchorage and others turn green - I am just fine).
This is what the last two days have looked like for us:
We arrived Tuesday in the outer harbor around noon and decided to try to find a spot in the inner harbor. There were about 20 already in the inner harbor and we are very used to the big open space of the ocean, but still we tried to fit into a tight spot for about an 90 minutes. To no avail, it was just too tight, so we pulled up the anchors and headed to the outer harbor. We tried to tuck in beneath the point as close to the bulkhead outside the breakwater as possible where we would spend a rolley night out there, but as I said consistent motion is better for me than what we had on the ocean. We were so hungry, that at about 2:00 we had a big chiliquilles "breakfast". It was too late in the day to check into the country with the local gendarme, but we did go back to the inner harbor and visit our friend, Eric on Secret Agent Man who we had not seen since November. He gave us the lay of the land a little and loaned us a few francs to go and buy some baguettes at the gas station (yep, the mini mart has fresh baguettes daily, tomatoes, huge cucumbers and onions besides the regular mini mart faire). Then, it was back out to the boat to get some dinner going - we had frozen some left over bbq pork and enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches on those fresh baguette. Brian and Erin and Brian's brother, Brady on Delos pulled into the outer harbor and we welcomed them with extra baguette that we had bought. Finally, we went onto local time which is 3 1/2 hours off of boat time. We had been trying to eat with the sun as we crossed, but Brad insisted on keeping the actual boat on PV (which I believe is either Mountain or Central time). The kids did the best job of making the switch as the adults on the boats were all in their bunks by 8:00 local time. The shell shock of $50 for a few hours of internet service kept us from even trying to sign on (let me tell you, you prioritize your internet tasks at that price - no typing or reading online.) I slept well and so there was no blog post to help deal with bad night's sleep. So, maybe it will be some consolation that the absence of blog posts means that I am sleeping well!
Technically, we were under quarantine flying our yellow flag that means we have not yet checked into the country. We found out that everyone is not required to be present at check in, so Tim, Austin and I made two trips ashore with the bikes and rode into town which is about an hour walk or 20 minute bike ride UP and around the point and into the next bay over. The gendarme was very nice and I have didn't even have to attempt to speak French as he wanted to speak English. Next, was money. Went to the bank and tried to figure out how many French Polynesian francs to pull out of the cash machine. Turns out that 30,000($255 USD or so) will buy you a few things, but not that many (I am a very numbers oriented person. It hard for me to make purchases without at least roughly converting to American dollars. I got pretty good at this in Mexico with the peso, but we are talking a whole other decimal place here!!!!!) Next, we needed to check out the food stores and mail our paperwork at the post office. We went to all the little "magasins", no more tiendas, but right along the same lines. I will truly miss all the cheap fresh produce to which we had access in Mexico. We found the stores with fresh baguettes donuts (we had Austin with us) and pain au chocolat and everyone has spring rolls which make for an excellent breakfast, I must say! By the way, while we were adventuring in town, taking care of business, Brad was back on the boat fixing the genset which had decided not to come on for our morning charge. No genset, no fridge/freezer. Turned out to be a loose connection. Also, with all our anchoring shenanigans of the previous day, the windlass (anchor pulling up and down helper) was not working in the down direction. That is not nearly as bad as not working in the up direction, but Brad still wanted to see what it's major mal-adjustment was. Back in town, when we arrived at the post office, we were able to get started taking care of our business with the help of another cruiser on how the internet works, and a wonderful Marquesan woman who made sure that I knew when it was my turn to go sit with the postmaster to buy my stamps and internet card. Didn't realize it then, but the post office is only open three per week - no wonder people were so patient. Tim and Austin decided to head back to the anchorage and so without the nine year old asking every two minutes if we were done yet (hey, he had gotten his donuts!), I figured I could take some time (a little over an hour - ahhhhh!) to download email to read and answer back on the boat and check our bank website to make sure that bills were being paid. The connection was so slow that my bank session kept timing out. It took a little over an hour to download about 100 emails - yikes! The other downside is that I have to at the post office to use the connection - but it is supposed to work at any post office in the islands. I needed to get back to the boat to make everyone lunch. We decided to lock the bikes up near the dinghy dock for ease of use. The Delosians came over to visit and we had some lunch during which time the VHF squawked that our good friends on Mulan (family from Canada) were getting very close to arrival. With the departure of a couple boats from the inner harbor, we decided to try our luck again and got a nice little spot (though it was still very tricky anchoring conditions) next to a boat that would be leaving in the morning. That was after we had to leave and bouy our stern anchor because it was holding fabulously - I guess my good night's sleep was warranted. Stern anchor retrieved and a call came over the radio with Eric organizing a pick up soccer about which all the boys got excited. I was more excited about taking out my braids and getting a good shower. We had already decided to eat in town and so we figured we would walk in after the soccer game broke up. I am not even going to write about that here because it was an adventure all unto its own worthy of a separate blog post. Suffice to say that we hit the hay upon arriving back at the boat with the exception of our hail to Totem being answered by them from the outer harbor.
Bright and early our neighbors left and Totem scooted in and is anchored right next to us. We were not as sure about the holding of anchor as we liked to be, so we stuck close to the boat. There is an outdoor sink next to shower that is great for doing laundry, so I spent the morning getting close to caught up on washing. I think Tim now believes that my self-imposed title of domestic engineer is deserved as he managed the drying end of the laundry. We also worked on getting the boat squared away live aboard style. Brad and I were all set for a bike ride into town to pick up a few more food stuffs before we headed south to Fatu Hiva and the famous Bay of Virgins in the morning. We have since decided to skip it as the weather has been less than conducive to getting there and we would been very rushed in our exploring. Anyway, we were just about ready to go and our anchor started to drag (it was not set well the night before), so we spent 45 minutes re-anchoring and then headed off on the bikes while the boys from Totem, Mulan and Capaz went with Andrew to explore the beach here in the anchorage. When we returned from our more of the same errands, the boys had cooked up a sleep-over and we needed to finish the laundry, put away groceries and get dinner out of the way. After dinner, I finally had a chance to sit down and read the emails that I had downloaded yesterday and the new ones Brad picked up today sitting on the curb outside the closed post office. Have I mentioned that the anchorage is in a bay surrounded by fairly tall mountains and so our radio doesn't work well enough to send emails??
The sun is coming up now, so I am going to head back to bed.

Normally, I would not write about every little thing that we do, but I guess it was appropriate since there were more than a few comments about us not making an entry for a couple of days and I hope that you can understand why. Would you have tried to squeeze a blog post into the last 60 hours?

It's great to have fans, but boy can they be demanding!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 18: Landfalll

09* 48.4' South
139* 01.9' West
Baie Tahauku
Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

18 days and 19 hours after departing from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico, we began our anchoring process on the other end of our voyage. The inner bay her is very small and there were already about 20 boats anhored. So after trying one spot that was just too tight AND in the path of the supply ship turn around space, we decided that the outer harbor wouldn't be so bad after all.
I was on watch as the sun came up and so the duty of calling, "Land Ho!" fell to me. I thought it might be kinda fun for one of the kids to do it, so as the sun came up, I woke Austin (Bryce had stood watch til late with his dad) and asked him if he wanted the honor. To which he replied sleepily, "Maybe another time!" However, about 5 minutes later he appeared in the companionway and we spent the next hour watching the sun rise and trying to discern the outline of the island (we could see it on radar, so we knew right where to look).
Once our anchor was down, we splashed the dinghy (after a frustrating, but ultimately sucessful search for our mosquito screen) and headed to the inner anchorage to see our friend Eric on SECRET AGENT MAN so that he could tell us the lay of the land. We talked to OSO BLANCO as we entered the harbor and will meet up with them next week.
The anchorage is a little ways from town and so we just went ashore right here for now. We will check in with the gendarme first thing in the morning and do some exploring in Atuona. Ashore at the anchorage, there is a gas station, that sells baguettes for about 50 cents a loaf, showers and fresh water, an outrigger canoe club and very small boat basin with room for about 10 fishing boats tucked behind the breakwater.
It is much more developed here than expected. The road is paved in cement and there are streetlights. The homes that we can see from the anchorage look nice, more like wooden framed contstuction than the cement boxes we have grown so used to seeing in Mexico.
So begins the next chapter of our adventure . . . . . . .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 18: Land Hoooooooooopefully!

07* 50.0' South
136* 52.0' West

Sometime in the next 24 hours we should not only see land, but actually make landfall at Hiva Oa. It's all very exciting. Brad had predicted that we would take 20 days for this passage and it look like we will come in just under that.
All in all, we have had pretty good trip with fair winds most of the way and only about 80 hours of motor sailing. The ITCZ was a relatively narrow band for us to cross and the sea swell has been of mild height though it has been fairly confused for most of the trip. Going to Hawaii on the Voodoo Child, one of the most remarkable parts of the trip was that the swell was so consistant once we hit the trade winds. Hopefully we will get the chance to see that again on our next passage!
On another note, we reported that we were having some radio problems, but we have thus far been able to maintain checking in with our Puddle Jump radio group at least once per day. However, our friends on Totem seem to be having worse problems than we are having. After two days of not hearing them check in, Brad put out a "health and welfare call" on the net. Another party had been monitoring the Pacific Seafarer's Net which has a land-based antenna somewhere that can pick up VERY weak signals and relayed that Totem is indeed having radio issues, cannot transmit strongly enough to check in with our group, but they are fine otherwise. We look forward to seeing them in a few days in Hiv Oa.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 17: 300miles To Go

06* 08.9' South
135* 12.5' West

We have been cruising along in the Southern Hemisphere trade winds. We may actually have to slow ourselves down to make sure that we make landfall during daylight hours. After more than two without touchng land, we are all wondering how our bodies will react to walking on a ground that is not constantly pitching.
We are aiming for Taahuku Bay where our papers should be waitingfor us to check into the country.
Besides, solid ground we are looking forward to a nice cold beverage. While we can hav ethem here on the boat, no one really feels like drinking. we are looking forward to beaches. The boys are looking forward to seeing the kids from Mulan, Totem and Oso Blanco. Austin is ready for this rocking motion to stop.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 16 One of those nights

Lattitude 03 degrees 41.9 minutes South
Longitude 132 degrees 49.5 minutes West
April 17, 2010
20:00 Zulu (That's around noon back home)

Last night was one of those nights. One of those nights where the boat feels like it's on rails and knows it's way. We were harging forward on an ink black ocean punctuated by the white froth cast off from the boat and the Bioluminecent stars bursting into life in the water and just a quickly snuffing out. The wake glows. There were no clouds last night. Which is rare. The Southern Cross constellation was just where it should be in the south, not visitble to those back home, but visible to us on this our current home. The milky way spread from one horizon to the next. The moon had set so it did not hinder the viewing. Yes, it was one of those night. Surreal is a good way to describe it. Not many get to experience it, but it's well worth the price of admission. At least it is in my book. To cap it off as I watched the night sky a shooting star streaked across from horizon to horizon, leaving a glowing trail in it's wake. A trail much like the one our own craft is leaving in the ocean, quickly fading.

We have been making good time. Our 24 hour mileage wa 185 miles. All straight at where we want to go. The wind has been blowing on average around 13 knots. We are on a close jib reach and just trucing along. We have beneficial current which also helps. Todays mileage should be in the same ballpark as yesterday.

It's warm on board. Quality of life is much nicer because we each have fans over our bed. I can't imagine what it would be like if we didn't have those, but they make it very nice come nap time. As I sit here I look over at PJ who is having a nap on the our bunk in the salon being cooled by the fan.

Th end of this leg of our adventure is drawing near. We have 506 miles to go. At the current pace we should be able to arrive in daylight sometime on the 20th, but the wind can be fickle so we'll see how it goes.

All is well on Capaz. Thanks for reading the blog!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 15: Shellbacks

00* 51.2' South
129* 54.9' West

The crew of CAPAZ: Brad, PJ, Bryce, Austin and Tim have all become shellbacks. At 0300 Zulu, the boat passed over the Equator (0* Latitude) and was visited by King Neptune. Everyone is short some hair and has been fortified with bilge water, worms off the keel and a shot of grog shared with Neptune.
Besides this exciting news, we are in good wind that looks as if it may hold us to our destination. For, as the song says, " . . . . on this heading lie the Marquesas."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 14 Busted Through!

Latitude: 00 Degrees, 19.3 minutes N
Longitude: 128 Degrees 41.6 Minutes W

We have busted through the ITCZ. We are currently sailing in about 17 knots of breeze, with a boat speed from 7 to 8 knots. Our compass hading is 200 degrees but there is a strong current setting us to the East so our actual Course Over Ground is 215 degrees magnetic.

Sailing, or I should really say motoring, through the ITCZ was interesting. Seldom did we not have wind. There were a couple of few hour stretches where the water got completely glassy because of no wind. Even more interesting is we really didn't get much rain. We actually sailed in blue sunny skies most of the time. Our friends on Totem described it as being in a bubble. All around the Horizon are large ominous squall clouds, but where we were was Blue sky and Hot! So we motored for 1.5 days and yesterday, turned off the motor and started sailing in winds of about 7 knots. The wind has steadily built and Ironically we have seen more squalls today then we did in the ITCZ.

Last night we had torpedoes following the boat. Well actually it was Dolphins. But they looked like torpedoes. I'm sure many of our readers have experienced bioluminescence which is small critters in the water giving off sparkles of light when they are disturbed. As the dolphins swam along side the boat they gave off and erie sparkling glow leaving a trail of glowing water. Tim and I spent some time on the bow watching this mezmerizing sight. I tried to wake PJ to see, but she was out for the count.

My Father in law asked that I say something on why we are taking the route we we have. You can basically break this trip into three parts. The first leg is from PV to where you target as your crossing spot for the ITCZ. Second is crossing the ITCZ itself. Third is the final leg to the finish. When we left the forecast was for decent sailing breeze for the first two days. Then it was supposed to die for a day and start to fill in. The wind was going to be stronger the further west you went so we struck out on a course to go west. Wind direction paid a part as we could not sail directly west initially because of the wind direction. As it happened our course took us by two Islands, Socorro and Clarion. Once we were in the wind we were able to sail a more SW course and head for the ITCZ.

You don't want to cross the ITCZ to early as the width tends to be larger and in general the winds light. So we struck out to cross somewhere near 127 degrees west latitude. Without getting too technical, we also sailed a course that would allow us to take advantage of a wind shift more to the East. The wind shift did occur and we jibed the sails and headed S. We ended up crossing the ITCZ at about 126 degrees latitude. It worked great! So far that is. Now we are heading to the Marquesas. Initially we kept a more Southerly course because more wind is forecast that direction. well, we have plenty of wind so we've turned the boat on a course that makes hay to the islands.

On the docket for dinner tonight is white chicken chili. This recipe is from our good friend Amy Martin. PJ pre-cooked while on land. Yum!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 13: Ski and Sea

02* 30.2' North
126* 23.9' West

We tried really hard to stay out of the sun, finding any shade possible. The cloud over that protected us until two days ago is now gone and has been replaced by fluffy white clouds (that sometimes harbor refreshng squalls) with lots of clear blue sky in between. Anther boat that is fairly close to us (within 60 miles or so) spent most of yesterday in the rain.
Tim has been a great help with school. He started out helping Bryce with his article for the Chronicle last week - this one is going to be the best ever. This week as we have added math and spelling back into the regime, Tim has taken over teaching, first with Bryce and today he helped Austin through his lesson, too!
Last night we had tacos in the cockpit. Brad grilled up an arachara and we put some of our last lettuce on the tacos. We started growing sprouts today for another veggie alternative. After dinner, the kids and I watched an old ski movie. How funny is that: to be out in the middle of the great blue ocean still in bathing suits at 10:00pm watching a ski movie!
Getting close to the Equator!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 12: Southern Cross

05* 15.3' North
125* 63.8' West

"When you see the Southern Cross for the first time . . . . . " is how the song goes. Well, it wasn't really the first time (I have seen it from Australian soil) and not even the first on this trip (it was there last fall from Mexico's Baja just like John Steinbeck said it would be). Last night was the first time that the skies have really cleared up enough to truly see "the stars". On my watches, I have certainly had some good windows where I could see some stars, but not like I got just before dawn this morning. Just like the full moon rising over a hill, there is a kind of perspective that happens when you get a panorama of stars. The Southern Cross looked so tall and since we have started motoring (due to light and very flukey wind), we are southing right at it. I can definitely see why the ancient Polynesian explorers used it and other constellations for their navigation.
Just before sunset, we passed through the back edge of a squall line and we were treated to a rainbow show. First, as we approached, there was a vibrant piece of rainbow. Then, we noticed a very light second piece. These faded in and out as we sailed into some warm light rain. Finally, the middle of the squall, with the sun heading toward its set in the west, we got a FULL rainbow. This is a new one on me, as it not only made the typical full arch, but we could also see in continue below the horizon into the watery field that stretched out to our port side. Amazing!

Day 11: Still Sailing

07* 05.4' North
125* 45.3 West

Here we are still sailing. The winds have not shut off for us yet, so we keep making southing towards the Marquesas under sail (that's less diesel that we have have to buy in French Polynesia at their astronomical prices). We just need to be able to get to Tahiti where we have a fuel purchasing waiver waiting for us. Anyway, that's a whole other blog post. The wind stayed so constant last night that Brad and Tim made the call to keep the spinnaker (yes, like a race boat) all night. We only hit one squall and it wasn't too bad. There was a pretty good one bearing down on us this morning, but we held our course and it sort of petered out and passed behind us while Brad was on the SSB running the daily net.
That brings me to our newest news. During the net, the SSB started acting funny and basically wasn't working. Brad has looked at it and is hoping that with all the transmitting that he was doing as net controller, that something overheated and caused the problem. He was able to send and receive email after letting the contraption sit for awhile. So......if blog posts and email from us stop, you know that it could just be our radio acting up again.
Along the same vein, our shore side support crew has let us know that the SPOTs are no longer coming through. We will keep sending in hopes that the device can pick up a satellite as we get closer to the islands. Again, if you have strong feelings about the hole out here, let them know at .
Otherwise, we are all well and excited about becoming shellbacks!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 10: Doldrums

09* 40.3' North
125* 19.4 West

Between Latitudes 10 North and 10 South is what old fashioned sailors used to call the doldrums because there was often little or no wind in this band all the way around the
Earth. However, leave it to modern sailors to come with a much more technical, if not accurate name: Inter Tropical Convergence Zone or ITCZ*. Whatever you what to call it, traditional or modern, we are there.
Yesterday, we caught a shift that Brad has been predicting almost since we left Mexico and jibed making south on nice breeze. Said breeze has continued past the 10* North line as the actual ITCZ changes its size and shape daily, if not hourly. Those of our readers who live in Seattle have intimate experience with convergence zones and how difficult it is to accurately predict weather in them. So, we just keep sailing til the wind finally shuts off which Weather Boy, aka Brad, says is eminent. At which point, we turn on our motor and head south toward the closest patch of wind on the other side. One of the boats ahead of us, actually had to motor a little to the east for their wind. We will see what the weather Gods have in store for us.
We had fresh mahi-mahi last night for dinner and also boatmade sourdough bread. The night sailing actually took us through a few squalls, but towards morning as the little slice of moon rose, the skies cleared and showed us a plethora of stars followed by a beautiful sunrise and our first sunny day since leaving Mexico. With regards to where we are, we have the boat all opened up trying to keep as much air moving through it as possible, so that if any of the fluffy white clouds that are all around us decide to go over the top of us and precipitate, we will be able to frantically close it all up.

*We are pretty sure that the "T" stands for "tropical", but please accept our apologies if we are misquoting here. We do not have Google for fact checking.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 8: Not Connected

13* 01.3' North
123* 26.7' West

Though it may seem like it, we are not connected to the web. I know it's hard to believe that in this day and age there is actually a spot on Earth where you can actually not be connected to the internet, but I am here to tell you we are there. There is no magical wi-fi tower sticking up out of the ocean, there is no high speed internet coming over a cable that we are towing behind the boat. So maybe the following explanations will help all of our connected friends and family out there reading this blog post.
We are able to connect for short periods of time through our single side band radio and its modem to an internet interface that allows us to send and receive email. The single side band uses alot of power and so it only gets turned on when we are talking to other boats or sending email (only a couple of times per day). That's how you are able to read this blog post. I have my blog set up to receive entries through a special email address that automatically formats and posts my entries for me. You have probably noticed a lack of pictures lately. The reason for that is we need to use our satellite phone to send pictures to my brother in Seattle so that he can manually post them for me. We just haven't gotten to it yet, but stay tuned.
If you are lucky enough to be on our SPOT list, that is a whole other piece of technology. SPOT is a product that is essentially a transceiver that when we turn it on and push a button, it connects with a satellite that takes our GPS position and transmits it to server somewhere that sends out an automatic message to our pre-determined list of emails. We have been able to enlarge the limited with the help of a few connected who forward our position on to more friends and family. The company that provides this service does not guarantee that it will work in parts of the Pacific. Feel free to contact them through their website to let them know that it would really be cool to has this area improved.
Anyone can track us on our YOTREPS link on the left hand side of the blog. YOTREPS is part of a project out of New Zealand that is compiling weather information. In exchange for data that we send them, they put us in the tracking program. Pretty cool and it's FREEEE!
For those of you used to having your computer running 24/7 and having instant fast access to the internet, this may all seem pretty complicated. The bottom line is: it is. The whole point of cruising is to slow down and live simply, so if we miss a blog entry or don't get right back to you on email, please don't worry. And rest assured, we will really appreciate our connectivity when we return!

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Day 7: Teeny Tiny Tuna

14* 33.2' North
121* 06.8' West

Bryce caught a teeny tiny tuna today. We are still working on the big one from the other day. I think we will bbq again and keep working on the teryaki jerkey.
We will have a little celebration with Oreo pudding for dessert tonight as we have gone over 900 miles which is about a third of the way to the Marquesas. We still have nice breeze today, but Brad is worried that we may lose the wind here soon for another little bit. Eric Rone (from Seattle, sailed with Brad and PJ on the 2006 Hawaii Race) singlehanding on his Cal 33 Secret Agent Man became a shellback in the early hours this morning as he crossed the equator. Eric left from La Paz about a week before us and we are catching him.
As we are sailing more, there are power restrictions and less video available to the boys. Thankfully, all those non-computer, video things that we brought with us are being re-discovered. Bryce was the Upwords champion yesterday, kicking both Tim's and my butts. Tim, however, just became the reigning Uno king. We will see how long that lasts. The Hubble Space Telescope was assembled this morning. Austin pulled out his oragami supplies and made a cow and a little something for Kelly when she arrives.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 5: Laundry Day

17* 09.6' North
116* 51.9' West

It has been overcast since we left Banderas Bay, but that is keeping us relatively cool. It didn't, however, help the laundry dry fast. I did a couple of small loads (well they are all small at this point) and hung the clothes along the life lines to dry. I haven't done our quick dry stuff in a while and when I got out the bag today, I found our missing heavy duty laundry bag (yeah!). Since there weren't but a few short sun breaks scattered throughout the day, it was like drying laundry in the fall back in Seattle: it takes all day. When the sun is out, even the moist ocean air can't keep things from drying really fast.
We had some more of our fresh tuna in tuna tacos for lunch. For a change of pace, Brad made us personal pizzas (weird Mexican product that we discovered) for dinner.
We have gotten back into the wind and we are sailing along nicely. Last night, the wind started to fill in, but it was only a teaser and the engine came back on for a few hours. By the time I came on watch before dawn, things had settled down and we were able to turn the engine off and have been sailing along since. Tim and Brad had the spinnaker up earlier and now we are poled out going wing and wing. The sun is close to setting and we have been talking about resetting our watches so that we stay in line with the sunrise/sunset times as we move west.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Perparing, Sailing, Motoring and Boobies! now I have your attention

Day 4 18:00 Zulu (that would be 1pm Pacific Daylight time)

I thought I'd add some thoughts of my own to this blog. I actually haven't read what PJ wrote thus far in the trip, so apologies if I repeat anything.

We spent the month of March in the Marina in La Cruz making final preparations for the trip. In hindsight this was a very good choice. It cost some extra $ from the cruising kitty, but it gave us a chance to be at the dock, not worry about rolling all night in the anchorage and get things done. I had a list of several items, some big and some small to get done on the boat. We were fortunate to have visitors and crew coming down from the states who brought items with them. Thanks Amy, Lynn, Tim and Ty! who all brought something that we needed down. The big items on the to do list were: re-build the water maker high pressure pump and crank case, have the autopilot motor rebuilt and get the high output alternator repaired. There were many more small items and just normal tasks that needed doing like getting propane etc. Having that month to do all this was great and the stress level was relatively low, which is a good thing.

So here is the what has broken so far report: The Prop shaft seal developed this little drip problem. Since it's what is called a drip less seal this is a problem. I had been monitoring the drip and it had gotten worse and was dripping even without the motor running. It turns out I had caused the problem. While at the dock I had decided to replace the rusting hose clamps that were holding a hose that attached to the seal and the shaft log. Evidently when I did this the whole hose had shifted on the shaft log. The shaft log has a slight taper so the hose was now to big of a circumference for the what it was clamped to and it started to leak. Also the seal itself was on riding on a not so smooth part of the shaft and had developed a leak. In the end it was really no big deal, once I figured out what the problem was. I loosened the hose clamps and slid the whole affair back into place. Nary a drip now. The other item that needed attention was a batten receptacle slide had come detached on the mainsail. This required the main be dropped for a repair. Aside from that everything is operating well. I do need to do another batten slide receptacle repair. Turns out when we re-hoisted the main, I put the bottom batten slide upside down and now it has the same problem. Oh well.

The sailing report: We had good sailing weather the first two days. Not all that windy, but good jib reaching conditions. The wind now is pretty darn light. We have mostly been motoring for the last 36 hours. That will change. The weather models show more wind to the west (which is where we are heading) plus the wind is supposed to build. As I type I see the wind has started to build hopefully that will continue. We should have the engine off today for good or at least until we reach the dreaded ITCZ near the equator (for those who don't know what that is, do a google search). We plan to motor through that.

Booby report: Ok guys it's not what you think. We had some excitement yesterday afternoon and evening. A brown footed booby (A type of seabird) landed on the stern pulpit. For those of you who have been following the blog, this is not the first time we have had boobies (I love saying that) on the boat. When we crossed the Sea of Cortez we had a rather unfortunate booby on the masthead incident that ended in bird crap all over the boat. So when a booby landed on the stern we decided chase it off. These birds aren't all that bright, or at least they don't have the instinct that many animals have to be afraid of people. There are stories where cruisers let the boobies stay on the boat and that they pick them up and turn them around so they will crap over the side. Tim had to give a not so gentle nudge to dislodge the booby of the stern. Later at sunset another (or perhaps the same) bird landed at the mast head. Using the slingshot with garbanzo beans for ammo did not work, so Bryce volunteered to go up the rig and persuade the booby to leave. Later that night while I was on the radio net I could hear the crew shouting and using the loud hailer to encourage boobies to roost in places other than the boat. We may very well have to do similar activities again tonight, as we will be passing near Isla Clarion, which likely has a booby population. I wonder how many times I've typed the word booby. Booby, booby booby!

Cheers from SV Capaz!


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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 3: Land Ho!

18* 35' N
111* 24' W

We are not THERE yet, but we did sight land today. We passed within a few miles of Isla Socorro. Delos has been there for about 5 days diving and swimming with the manta rays. The latter is legendary. The mantas are pretty big and very social. It has been confirmed by an email from Brian that the mantas actually come up to visiting boats and take swimmers for a ride bringing them right back to their boat. I can hardly wait to see the pictures and videos that Delos got on their visit. They also said on the radio last night that they will be rejoining the westward migration today.
When Tim went to pull in the hand lines yesterday, he was startled by a yellow fin tuna who had taken one of the lures. Unfortunately, since he didn't realize there was actually a fish on, at about 6 feet from the boat the fish managed to free himself from our hook. Hopefully, today we will have better luck in the fishing department.
Otherwise, we motored most of the night because the wind died just like the weather models predicted. Brad is hoping for the wind to start building again before its predicted return tomorrow. In the meantime, we have a few "hard boiled" eggs that Tim is determined to decorate (he mentioned something about deviled eggs - I hope he wasn't teasing). We hope that everyone is enjoying their Easter celebrations.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 2: Settling in

18* 52' N09* 35 W

After leaving Banderas Bay on Thursday evening, we have had an uneventful sail. Most of it being under sail power with just a couple of hours here and there of motoring when the wind decreased to where the sail slapping drove Brad to turn on the engine. We are all settling into routines on the boat. Tim is busy fishing and we are all getting significant amounts of reading in. Yesterday, was mostly overcast which kept us all cool. Today the clouds are much more broken and we have been able to make our "hard boiled" eggs in the solar oven. Tim and the boys may do some decorating later today. This won't be the first time that Easter Bunny has had to find us on a boat somewhere (there were several Southern Straits Race deliveries when the boys were little).
We haven't seen our buddy boat, Totem since last night. They may have more tolerance for flopping sails or less fuel to burn than CAPAZ. Yesterday, we both passed within visual distance of a boat that left about 11 hours ahead of us called "Escapade". Totem was within a mile when they caught a huge tuna and shared some of the fish with the Totem crew as they altered course to come alongside for the meat! We did talk to them on the SSB this morning and all was well.
Happy Easter to everyone!

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Here . . . . We . . . . . . GO!!!!!!

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico
April, 1, 2010
Capaz Crew: Ready to eat, sleep and sail
Crew (Tim Larson): Here and Settled
Boat: Packed away and washed
Mexico: Checked out
Weather: Looking good for an afternoon or early evening departure
No Foolin': Looks like we are ready for the next leg
FAQ: Will we be blogging on the crossing? Yes, we will be sending entries to this site over our SSB radio modem. There may even be a few pictures!