Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 12: Getting Close Now

16* 22.2' North
153* 02.5' West
July 31, 2010

Sunset behind a squall

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We say goodbye to July and our eleventh month of this adventure today. Even though we are technically out of the ITCZ and into the trades, we are still experiencing some unsettled weather and squalls. I spent most of yesterday trying to recover and catch up on sleep lost two nights ago as we sailed through a patch of 30 - 40 knot winds for several hours. The last 24 hours have been more consistent with winds hovering around 20 knots, only occasionally gusting to 30. The seas have remained pretty rolly, but again our bodies seem to be getting used to it. Brad really hasn't had anything to fix or MacGyver recently until last the I-Pod charger broke. I guess that is how he amused himself on his watch, because when he got me up, it charged and ready for me!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 10: Big Left Turn

12* 46.2' North
148* 44.5' West
July 29, 2010

After trying to motor due north through the doldrums, we have picked up the wind and made a nice big left turn towards Hawaii. Not only are we again moving faster through the water with the wind, but the miles are clicking off more quickly because we are taking a more direct route. For the time being, the winds gods have smiled on us with an almost southerly wind direction which we expect to change to the east as we enter the trades. We will certainly take this gift for as long as it presents itself.
Last night was a rough night that made sleeping difficult. We were starting to see the swell waves coming from the north, but we did not have the stabilizing effect of our sails since there was no wind yet. The result was a very rolly night.
I am just glad that we are no longer pointed at the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and instead, we are now aiming for the leeward side of the Big Island of Hawaii!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 9: ITCZ

09* 50.2' North
148* 31.0' West
July 28, 2010

Well, here we are again . . . . . traversing the ITCZ (or ITCZed, as our friend Andrew likes to refer to it) . . . . . The Inter Tropical Convergence Zone or in the olden days . . . . . the Doldrums. Today, weather forecasting computer models can pretty accurately predict the movement of this unstable band that circles the earth expanding and contracting between about 10* North and 10* South. Weather conditions inside the band can consist of squalls and/or no wind at all. The models are showing it to be just finishing an expansion phase with the expectation of contraction to happen over the next 24 hours, meaning that the northern edge of the zone should be moving towards us as we continue north. On our previous trip through the ITCZ, we did see a few squalls and light winds with all but the fewest of sprinkles missing us. Not so this time. Yesterday after hoisting the chute for a couple of hours and watching a few squalls pass in front of us, a large one set itself directly in our path. We did not pass in front of the leading edge where there can be a period of increased wind, but rather after dousing the spinnaker, we entered from the side just behind the leading where the heaviest rain activity can be seen. Suffice to say that the boat is now cleaned of salt and so are Brad and I. The air temperature is still quite pleasant, so we took advantage of the heavy rain and showered! The ocean swell has remained very gentle and we were able to have tacos (think: lots of ingredients awaiting assembly on a not so stationary counter, hence the infamous "one dish meals" that we have been consuming of late) last night without incident. It was a treat. Since we have been able to open hatches without so much fear of rogue waves pouring in through them, Bryce took the opportunity to bake us a batch of cookies. As much as our sailor ancestors dreaded the doldrums, we are very contently motoring our way through them, enjoying the break from the pitching, heaving and heel of life while sailing fast!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 8: Triple Digits

07* 10.7' North
148* 52.0' West
July 27, 2010

As of my watch this morning, our distance to Hawaii has dropped below 1,000 miles. The dolphins that greeted me as I came on watch seemed excited for us!
After seven solid days of winds hovering around 20 knots and the boat traveling through big swell at 7 to 9 knots, I awoke from a good night's sleep to lighter winds, calmer seas and the boat's much gentler motion. It is a welcome respite. I can now take two or three steps without the boat lurching. We were expecting this change as we are approaching the ITCZ. Beyond it, we should hope for the consistency of the Trade Winds. But for today, we will enjoy the little bit of variety in our lives at sea. We may even get the opportunity to do laundry or have a little more complex dinner! Who knows - we may even have to turn on the engine for the first time since leaving Rangiroa!

cros 057  Complex Cooking

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 7: Halfway Day

04* 15.2' North
149* 05.5' West
July 26, 2010

Early this morning, we reached our halfway point of this leg. The second half of the trip should go a little faster because thus far we have been pointing a little to the east of Hawaii to compensate for an east to west current and possible wind shifts that could make our sailing angle to Hawaii very tight and uncomfortable. The closer we get the less these two factors will matter and the more we will be able to point the boat directly at Hawaii.
We are close enough to our friends on Mulan that we were able to talk to them on the VHF radio this morning and share the sunrise with them.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 6: New Shellback on Board

01* 14.0' NORTH
149* 22.2' West
July 25, 2010

As you can see from our position, we have crossed back into our home hemisphere! Upon crossing the equator after dinner last night, we were again visited by King Neptune. He checked and verified the status of those aboard alleging to be Shellbacks and found one pollywog. After Lydia, the pollywog in question, met Neptune's requirements she was also granted the status and joined the ranks of the Shellbacks. Among other things: hair was cut, grog sacrificed and drunk, and sea creatures (or their sweet tart semblances) were consumed! We then celebrated Lydia's accomplishment and new privileges and protections with champagne and thin mint cookies!

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As we have instantly changed from Winter to Summer as we crossed the equator, we have noticed that our days are lengthening a little as each passes. For the last year, the course of our adventure has kept us pretty much in places at the times of the year that we visited them where the days have been about 12 hours long give or take. There is a joke among cruisers that when the clock strikes 9:00 pm it means cruiser midnight. I think those of us who reside (when living on land) in the higher latitudes feel this phenomenon more acutely. Seattle is, after all, a little more than halfway to the Arctic circle from the equator! For us, when the weather is warm in summer, the days are long and when the sun sets it is pretty much the end of the day. We associate sunset during warm weather with bedtime, so for a year now, we have been having sunset around dinner time when it is downright hot out and then often being awake for 3 or 4 more hours afterward. It might be interesting to see if we feel any after effects once we are back to our "normal" rhythms.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 5: Last Day in the South Pacific

01* 44.3' South
149* 14.1' West
July 24,2010

There is not much news to report from CAPAZ (which is good news because this status quo is quite a good thing!) except that Lydia finished yet another book!  Right now, we just keep making miles. In the next couple of days there will be some definite milestones: crossing the equator and a brand new shellback will join our ranks, halfway between Tahiti and Hawaii, less than 1,000 miles to go, etc.
As we spend our last day in the South Pacific Ocean and prepare to enter our home hemisphere, I look back on the last just over three months. They have been incredible, truly the experience of a lifetime. We have had great times with old friends and made some fabulous new friends. The places and people who we have met along the way have been as diverse as the many rainbows we have also encountered. My French deinfitely improved and I even learned a few phrases in Marquesan and Tahitian. So to the South Pacific, from the crew of CAPAZ, I say,
Naa naa and Maru uru,
Au revoir and Merci beaucoup,
Good-bye and Thank you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 4: Pizza Boats!

04* 27.1' South
148* 57.3' West
July 23, 2010

Yep, dinner was the most exciting thing for Day 4. Brad made us pepperoni pizza boats (what we have always called French bread pizzas) which we enjoyed in the cokpit at sunset.
We have started burning through the reading material. Lydia says she has read through two and a half books and I am about the same. Bryce has completed two books that Brad read aloud to both he and his brother before we left Seattle. Brad would be farther along if he had a "book spot" - he keeps misplacing his book, but I think he is close to completing it.

 cros 044 cros 012 cros 015 cros 018  
Yesterday, was magazine day. Lydia was kind enough to gather a bunch of magazines and bring them with her. We got through the older People magazines and passed them on before we left Rangiroa. They are like gold in the cruiser community. We have quite the spectrum on board from the aforementioned People to the New Yorker to 48* North and Lats and Ats (Thanks Margaret!). I even caught Brad with his nose in the newest issue of People.
We find it funny that our little cruising clique seems to permeate the magazines of the sailing category this month. Brad got to tell our friend, Andrew, on Mulan over the SSB this morning that he made back page of July's Lats and Ats (he was interviewed at the La Cruz Boat Show back in March!). We plan to try to get a picture of Brad reading our beloved copy of 48* North as we cross the equator tomorrow morning and then we will send it off to the magazine!


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 3: Smooth Sailing

07* 08.4' South
148* 44.5' West
July 22, 2010

If you were aboard CAPAZ right now, you might not agree with my title of "Smooth Sailing" as we are rocking and rolling constantly with the current side swell. But really, at the close of our third day at sea, things are going our direction. We have had constant wind right around 20 knots. It has shifted to just south of east in direction which allows us to point comfortably almost due north. This will help us compensate for some westward current and any future wind shifts in the other direction. If those future wind shifts do not materialize, then we will be rewarded with our last couple of days into Hawaii being a downwind sleigh ride. Commanders Weather has our daily position and will alert us if there is any weather that will affect us and our route to Hawaii.
There were no more culinary mishaps to report and Brad has McGuyver'd the old sat phone booster antenna so that it is much more reliable. We will keep posting blog entries over the satellite phone unless Brad is able to get the sailmail working again.
Ahead, we have the equator crossing and the ITCZ!

Day 2: Challenges on the High Seas

10* 12.7' South
148* 25.7' West
July 21, 2010

Luckily our challenges on the high seas are self-inflicted. The boat is going along fine with only a jib sheet breaking thus far. Brad has even devised a "fix" so that it can't chafe through again.
We are currently experiencing a technological challenge in that the modem doesn't seem to be working with the SSB radio. That means we are not able to send or receive sailmail. How can I post this blog entry? Well, luckily we have redundancy in the form of a satellite phone!

cros 007 One of the “Dishes Fairies” caught in the act

But not the one who left the hatches open!

I had a seriously challenging evening in the galley. I was feeling sorry for myself because the floor below me was moving and my work area also happens to be the door to my refrigerator. When just as I was about to serve up our dinner, a wave came over the bow and through the hatch and port light above my head that I didn't realize the dishes fairy had left open (yes, there is a "dishes fairy" aboard CAPAZ - I make a bunch of dirty dishes and somehow they end up clean and put away!) pouring gallons of salt water on my head, into the mashed potatoes and dousing the stove. You could say that I lost it a little bit, but despite Neptune's efforts, dinner was not a loss.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 1: Hawaii, Here We Come!

12* 57.4' South
148* 05.9' West
July 20, 2010

We had an uneventful (and that's how you want it) trip out the Tiputa Passe at Rangiroa around 11:00 am. We had a dolphin swimming with us out the Passe and he stayed with us for about 15 minutes. The winds have not calmed as the forecast predicted, but instead have stayed right where CAPAZ likes them between 18 and 25 knots. We are cruising along trying to point just east of Hawaii and achieving that goal pretty easily with the wind either right at the beam or just a little ahead of it.
Everyone seemed to spend most of today letting their bodies get acclimated to the movement of the boat. Really not much to report except that we are all glad to be underway. The boys are excited to be on to Hawaii and somewhat familiar territory. They have big plans for our time back in Seattle while Brad and CAPAZ make their way toward the mainland. We have also started talking about where we want to go in British Columbia before we bring the boat back to Seattle around the first of November.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Honolulu Bound

July 19, 2010

Rangiroa, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

14* 58.1’ South and 147* 38.2’ West

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We arrived in Rangiroa Atoll in the morning and had no trouble with the smaller passe.   Brad fixed the anchor windlass and the rest of us got in a snorkel at the “Auquarium” about midday.  We were excited to have burgers at the Snack on shore but when we got there, there were only two burgers left, no beer or coke.  The boys got the burgers and the rest of us all had some form of fish and fries.   We walked around town a bit and Lydia, Lon and I decided to  check out the feasibility of dropping Lon off at the airport with the dinghy.  If the wind calmed down, it would be an option.  Unfortunately, the landing was far from perfect and Lon ended up slipping on a very slimey boat ramp and required some stitches above his eye.  Needless to say that when he went to the airport yesterday, it was via taxi.  We had a quiet evening watching a movie and everyone tried to get a good night’s sleep.

This morning, we are getting the boat ready for passage and we hope to leave around 10:30.  There are a few things to do, so I am going to post this and get back to it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rough Ride to Rangiroa

15* 02.1' South
147* 57.6' West
Hove to off of Rangiroa Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia
July 16, 2010 (late)

We left the protection of the reef on the lee side of Tahiti about 5:00 on Thursday evening. We had dinner in the channel between Moorea and Tahiti and then it got rough. Some of us held on to dinner, some of did not. All in all, we were able to keep a semblance of watch schedule. During the night, the wind hovered around 30 knots with big seas. By mid-morning it had only come down to about 25 knots. The seas really aren't predicted to started abating until tomorrow morning. By then, we will be safely inside the atoll. We are currently hove to in the lee of Rangiroa. The passe that we will use to enter the atoll is around the corner to the east about 10 miles away. It is important to try to enter the atolls on the slack tide in daylight which will be around 8:00am, so we will get moving again from our holding position at about 5:00am.
Lydia and Lon are unsure if they are going to do any diving, but the Bakers are looking forward returning to snorkel on the reef that is just inside the Tiputu Passe. Lon will catch a flight back to Tahiti and then return to Seattle. Lydia will continue on with us on to Hawaii. We are hoping that the first part of this leg is NOT an indication of things to come.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Crew Arrival and Capaz Departure

Marina Taina, Punaauia, Tahiti, French Polynesia

July 15, 2010

Waves hitting the reef outside the Marina Taina anchorage!


Tuesday night, our crew, Lydia, and her husband, Lon arrived at about 10:00pm.  As usual, there were glitches, but it was nothing these two veteran travelers couldn’t overcome.  Lon will be sailing with us to Rangiroa in the Tuamotus and then returning to Papeete and the states.  Lydia will be going all the way to Hawaii.

DSCF6479 DSCF6488 DSCF6495

Yesterday, we celebrated Bastille Day trying to find the big pirogue races.  We were in the dinghies and not all that interested in going all the way to Papeete proper, so we gave up and went snorkeling instead.  We saw a wrecked WWII airplane and an old shipwreck as well as our first anemones with tiny little clown fish.  Lon and Lydia treated us to a great pizza dinner at the Dinghy Bar at the marina.  The kids ended the day with a movie night inviting their buddies from Silver Lining and Victoria. 

Today has been spent doing final provisioning,stowing, checking out of French Polynesia and preparing to leave for Rangiroa this evening.  There was a discussion at lunch about maybe delaying a day for weather, but we have decided that it probably won’t make that much difference.


The next few (or more) posts may not have pictures, because we are leaving reliable internet land and they will be sent over our SSB radio.  When we were in Rangiroa last month, there was internet, but there are no guarantees , so you will just have to stayed tuned.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bryce’s 12th Birthday

July 12, 2010

Marina Taina, Punaauia, Tahiti, French Polynesia

17* 34.8’ South and 149* 37.1’ West

Bryce had been concerned about being underway on his birthday on Friday, July 16th.  He was really OK with celebrating it a couple of days early especially if we could round up a few kids.

As we arrived back at Tahiti and got ourselves situated at Marina Taina, we realized that we might able to get a birthday party together for Monday night with TWO kid boats.  After checking Monday morning with both of the other boats and meeting with our agent, we got cake baked and ended up having a boat full of boys all day long.  We broke up the day by venturing ashore to the beachfront McDonald’s.  The after effects of our fast food feast meant that it was a fairly quiet afternoon aboard CAPAZ. 

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After dinner, we were rejoined by the crews of Victoria and Silver Lining along with a couple of the latter’s Tahitian relatives who jumped right in to play video games with the rest of the kids.  We sang Happy Birthday and Bryce opened a couple of presents. All in all, Bryce was glad he was able to get his birthday celebrated before we left for Hawaii. DSCF6448 DSCF6450

Monday, July 12, 2010


At 18* 17.6’ South and 149* 29.9’ West

July 12, 2010


 Best Image from my camera (note: shadow image to right of sun)

Pap 079

Just a minute or two before totality

Pap 093

Were the 53 miles, about 9 hours to get “there”, 6 hours of heaving to, and fantastic sail back all worth it????  In a word, YES!!!  We all agreed that making the effort to get “there” which was to  put ourselves into the path of totality was worth it.  The eclipse was incredible to witness.

We left from the eastern side of Papeete on Saturday evening just before 5:30 pm.  We had a nice sail around the top of the island of Tahiti and part way down the channel between it and Moorea.   Once in the lee of Tahiti, the wind shut off and we motored for a couple of hours until the wind filled again.  We reached our destination that we figured south of Tahiti by using the Google map tool on Xavier Jubier’s website at about 2:00.  (You can go to the website, select the July 11, 2010 Eclipse and then move the cursor to the lat/long listed above into the path of totality to find from where we watched the eclipse).  Brad set up the boat for heaving to which is a tactic usually used during stormy weather, but thankfully we have only used it thus far to wait when we reach a destination ahead of schedule and there we drifted for about 6 hours.   Brad did his usual radio check in at 7:15 am and boats to the west of our position, said that the eclipse was already starting.  We donned our special glasses, waited for the sun to come out from behind a cloud and began to see the moon take a small nibble out of the sun.   This continued for about 50 minutes until there was just a thin slice of sun remaining. It was amazing how little of the sun needs to be showing for it to remain daylight.  Once the sun went into total eclipse, it got dark and the birds got confused.  I stopped taking pictures and actually got a pretty d video of the “diamond ring” that we were told to look for and saw.  I also happened to catch the sun coming out of totality in my video clip.  After hearing reports back in Papeete and from other boats in the Western Societies of the eclipse being just “sort of cool”, we were additionally glad that we had made the effort to get ourselves within the path of totality.  Everyone that we have talked to who also made the effort has agreed with our assessment of it being a very worthwhile experience.

Brad and I were both taken away from Seattle by our parents in February of 1979 to see the total eclipse that roughly followed the path of the Columbia River.  Brad’s dad took him to a hill above Ellensburg in Eastern Washington where they sat on the tailgate of their old pick-up truck to watch the eclipse.  In my family, we were down at Long Beach, Washington and went to the mouth of the Columbia River and stood just in front of the lighthouse at Cape Disappointment.  I remember all the city lights coming on in Astoria, Oregon which is the city across the river as the eclipse reach totality.  These memories that our parents gave us were sparked when we first heard about the possibility of seeing the eclipse in Tahiti from a cruiser email group when we were back in Mexico.  We decided that if it was possible, we would really like to pass the opportunity for this experience on to Bryce and Austin.   We are so thankful to Frank Taylor, the astronomer Tahina  who encouraged us to “chase” the total eclipse as it would be really close to Tahiti.  As a side note, he, as an Arizona University astronomy student, had also viewed the same eclipse that Brad and I watched in Washington back in 1979.  We met him in Moorea where he gave a quick overview of the eclipse at Brad’s birthday party.

 The French Government would be so proud of the Capaz Crew all wearing their safety glasses to view the Eclipse

  Pap 087  Pap 102   Pap 103

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Reality Sets In

July 9, 2010

Arue, Tahiti, French Polynesia


A Little Poker Instruciton

It hit me yesterday, after I had cooked up some dishes for our upcoming crossing voyage, that we are leaving in a week!  I must be getting better at this whole thing. 

We have some fresh foods provisioning to do which you can’t do until right before you leave anyway.  We are gassed up and Brad has taken care of some minor repairs and checked almost everything off the maintenance list.  He went up the mast and performed a rig check. 

Views from the top of CAPAZ’s rig

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We are sorting out the details of our crew getting in and out of French Polynesia.  I would highly recommend the services of Tahiti Yacht Agents as they have been nothing but helpful and though we probably could have done all our own check in and check out procedures, it was great to have them done correctly the first time.  Also, it is nice to know if problems arise, there someone who can get you pointed in the right direction at the very least and probably help solve the problem.

There is still adventure left in our adventure.  We are watching the weather and if it looks like it will be clear enough, we will sail south of Tahiti about 30 miles to intersect with the path of the 100% track of Sunday’s total eclipse.  After that, we are moving to a Marina that is much closer to the airport where our crew will be arriving.  After Wednesday’s Bastille Day celebration, we will point CAPAZ toward Rangiroa.  Once there, one of our crew will leave us and return to the States.  The remaining five of us will continue on to Hawaii.  Brad and his new crew will have a few days to prep and set sail for Victoria, BC.  The boys and I will fly to Seattle and then rejoin Brad and CAPAZ upon their arrival in Victoria.  From there, we will head north for a couple more months of cruiser, before returning to our home dock at Shilshole. 

As we have learned through our cruising adventure: it is best to have a loose plan and make adjustments to it as necessary.  It might prove to be a good philosophy for life in general. 


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rainy Fourth of July


July 4, 2010

Papeete, Tahiti,  French Polynesia

We are feeling right at home with the squally and drizzly weather that has greeted us here in Papeete for the Fourth of July.  There are a bunch of Americans downtown at the main quay who will no doubt take this opportunity to celebrate.  We are staying in a suburb called Arue which is to the east of Papeete.  We are going to try navigating the bus to check out downtown and connect with our American cruising friends.

The motorsail back from Moorea yesterday was short but a little bouncy.  We got into Tahiti Yacht Club and tied up to a mooring ball just before the first of several squalls hit us.  We got ashore to restock on fresh fruits and vegetables and then we were going to return with Jarana and search out a Chinese “restaurant” that has been recommended to us, but the rain kept us on the boat.  Jarana ended up coming over for Brad’s most excellent baguette pizzas while we watched to the lightening off in the distance.

PS More pictures have been uploaded!!!!  


Early morning paddler (outrigger canoe) – Point Venus in background

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Brad

July 2, 2010

Uponohu Bay, Moorea, French Polynesia


This turned out to be a great place to celebrate.  We found another birthday boy, Pierre who is captain, dad, etc. on Victoria, and many other reasons besides the usual Canada to have a big beach celebration.  So, we organized a potluck and bonfire on the beach. 


It was still very windy (yet balmy as our friends visiting from Seattle pointed out) which is why we are in Moorea instead of Papeete, but that didn’t stop a good portion of the anchorage from coming ashore to help us celebrate!  There were outstanding dishes contributed as well as the standard birthday cakes.  We had to convince some of our drunk French friends that the American tradition is that you cannot have cake until you have sung “Happy Birthday” to the birthday folk.


We were lucky to have among those attending an astronomer who took some time and gave us the low down on the upcoming total eclipse on July 11th.  We will be in Papeete and if we choose to go 40 miles to the south we will be in the path of the total eclipse.  We will watch the weather and decide if we make the voyage.  Brad and I both remember the total eclipse that we observed in 1979 and would love to give the boys the same opportunity.

Brad also received some birthday greetings over the SSB radio and email.  All in all, I think it was a successful birthday celebration as evidenced by our slow movements this morning.  After checking weather, we will decide if we will head back to Tahiti today or tomorrow morning.