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Friday, April 30, 2010

Post cards to Tonga

Here's something we received from our friends on Carina which I thought I'd post to our blog for those of you who would like to participate:

Dear John & Linda with Ziggy aboard Nakia;

We quote from a poster we have seen around Neiafu, the principal town of the Vava'u group of islands in Tonga, where we have been for almost six months. The village of Matamaka is about 12 miles south of Neiafu on a small island. In the village of approximately 200 people is a small primary school with two teachers. Please consider sending a (snail mail) postcard to the address below...Many thanks and much love,


Malo e lelei! My name is Farfum (Feleti) Ladroma. I am an outer-island Peace Corps volunteers at Matamaka, Vava'u. My students and I are pursuing a "POSTCARD PROJECT" and we need your help! We are asking for anyone outside of Tonga to PLEASE SEND US A POSTCARD from YOUR HOMETOWN OR CITY. We are trying to collect as many postcards as we can from around the world.

This project will help to enhance the students's understanding of other places and cultures around the world. I will keep a running list of all the postcards received with their origin at my blog - http://farfumandtonga.blogspot.com/ - so you can check if your postcard has successfully made it to Matamaka's children. This will be a great cultural exchange for everyone involved. Please help us if you can and tell your friends! Thank you very much - malo 'aupito!

Please send postcards to: Matamaka GPS, c/o Peace Corps, PO Box 136, Neiafu, Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific"

Your friends of the yacht Carina,
Philip, Leslie and fat cat, Jake
website: www.sv-carina.org

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daniel's Bay (Anse Hakatea)

As usual we've been working and playing hard now that our passage is over, so I'll just try to hit some of the highlights.

It was most exciting to see Eiau Island come into view Friday afternoon since we knew Nuku Hiva was just one more night away. We got into Daniel's Bay early Saturday morning and immediately went to work putting the boat back to rights. Since the entire exterior (and even underneath the dodger) was encrusted with salt the first thing we did was wash the cockpit with fresh water. Then we reversed the contents of the Pullman and quarter berths to make the former back into our bed and the latter into our storage area. After lunch and a nap for John we put the outboard on the new dinghy for the first time and went around the anchorage introducing ourselves to the other boats, most of which had come from Mexico. Of course Ziggy was ecstatic to have the boat stop moving, and ran around the decks well into his usual nap time.

That night we were incredibly lucky to have a hard rain which washed the rest of the boat for us! I wiped down the boat, John took a look at the Cape Horn to see how he might fix it, and then we joined three other boats for a hike to the waterfall. Wow! That was probably the most beautiful place we've seen in all the Marquesas and I can't believe we skipped it last year. We were so paranoid about the notorious no-nos, but we only got a few bites apiece. The hike was long (about 14 kilometers round trip) but not particularly strenuous, and it starts out through the lovely little village at the river mouth in the bay next door to where we actually anchored. There were plenty of ripe mangoes on the ground along the way so we picked up a few that weren't split or terribly bruised from their fall.

When we returned from the hike we moved the anchor chain from an unused mid-ships tank back up into the bow chain locker, and John replaced a corroded electrical terminal block in our hanging locker. We definitely have a leak somewhere. Salt water is coming into the boat from the side decks and traveling through the overheads and down every wiring location including our beautiful Alpenglow lights. I opened one locker to find a manual only to see evidence of salt water along the bottom of the locker. So everything had to come out and get wiped down. Fortunately the locker next door hadn't been affected. But I'll have to go through every single one to see what's gotten wet.

On Monday John did some more work on the Cape Horn, and tightened the Spectra steering cable (supposedly the Spectra doesn't "stretch" it "creeps" - but I'm not sure what the difference is!). Then we took the dinghy over the river bar and up on shore where John installed the old dinghy wheels on the new dinghy. We made a trade for fruit with Mai, the young man in the green house who is of great service to cruisers. He asked us for a souvenir flag from us with our names on it for his collection so we gave him a Farallon Patrol flag which should be pretty unique among the others. Besides installing the wheels we were checking on the potable water status. A pipe had broken somewhere and water had not been available over the weekend. But the pressure was back so we returned to the boat for our jugs. First John installed a new holding tank vent thru hull, and then we made three trips into the river to take on a total of 108 gallons of water.

Just after sunrise today we motored the short trip to Taiohae. We went to shore where I walked to the store for baguettes while John rinsed salt covered gear and lines and filled a few jugs with water for washing (the water from the faucets here is not potable). Back on the boat we emptied the chain locker and John washed it out with fresh water. Then we did the same thing to the lazarette. Meanwhile I defrosted the freezer and wiped down some of the things that came out of the salty lockers. We made another trip to shore for more wash water, and called it a good day's work at 3 PM. John is on standby waiting for a call from a friend who is rounding up strong bodies for help getting a new engine into his boat. Supposedly he is going to go alongside the Aranui where a crane will lower the engine straight into the sailboat. Hopefully everyone will return with all their fingers and toes.

There were 3-11 boats in Daniel's Bay (coming and going every day) and maybe 40 boats here in Taiohae. The Puddle Jumpers from Mexico are keeping very much in their own groups, but that won't stop us from crashing their party!


Saturday, April 24, 2010

ARR Nuku Hiva

After our first passage to the Marquesas, from the Galapagos, I remember thinking to myself; 'That really wasn't that hard'. Well now I know what a hard passage is like. Everyday tight reaching or hard on the wind, and when we finally got south of the equator when we were supposed to have lighter winds more on the beam we had heavy winds even further forward then when we were in the northern hemisphere. We actually had to tack several times just to keep some of our Easting.

So here are the stats:
2104 miles made good
21 days, 1 hour
4.16 kts average speed

Broken gear:
Cape Horn Wind vane
Main Steering Cable
Automatic Bilge Pump
Staysail Halyard Chafed almost thru
Staysail Outhaul Parted
2 cabin lights damaged due to leaks
Holding Tank Vent Thru Hull

We're at anchor now, and are cleaning up and preparing for our next 'little hop', 550 miles, to the Tuamotus.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Two Bad Days ...

.. in a row.

It all started off yesterday morning. We'd been in the doldrums for three days and things were starting to look up a little. Friday night we had a wonderful breeze from the South. Not the greatest direction for us, but it worked well as it allowed us to sail just a little South of East, in order to keep that all important Easting.

Saturday morning dawned with a new wind from the South East, Ahh the trades at last! But what's this? First the wind is from the South South East (too far South for us to actually sail directly South) and it was building (too strong for the light weight jib we put up for the doldrums). I decided to wait a while and see what would happen, and what happened was that by noon it was way too windy for that big sail. We had to change.

Now, taking down a sail and putting up a new one is a lot of work to begin with. But couple it with a 20 knot winds and it gets pretty hard. It took both Linda and I to lower the big jib, fold it and get it into its bag. Then it was time to raise the working jib. I carried it out on deck, got it all ready to hoist and asked Linda to pull the halyard a little (the rope that raises the sail). I guess I didn't have the snap shackle on securely because the next thing I knew the halyard was blowing around in the wind half way up the mast! My first thought was that I was going to have to climb the mast to retrieve the halyard, but then I remembered a trick we'd used while at the dock to retrieve a halyard. I had Linda get out my fishing tackle box and give me a large treble hook. I attached this onto a small line, and then tied the small line onto one of our spinnaker halyards. Linda pulled the spinnaker halyard up while I held the small line tight and when it got close to the wayward jib halyard I pulled it back down. Fish On! The hook grabbed the jib halyard and I pulled it back down to the deck.

That little interlude over we put our minds back to hoisting the working jib which we did without further incident. The only thing was, we were both just about exhausted. We got the boat sailing and tried to relax. However, there were a couple other minor activities throughout the afternoon that kept us from recovering completely; tacking onto starboard tack for a few hours only to determine that being on port tack is better so we tacked back. That may not sound like a lot but when you're already exhausted it's a whole lot of work.

Then, just when I thought we were safe, Linda woke me up at 0430 this morning (I had just gone to bed at 0400) to tell me that nothing was happening when she turned the wheel. When I tried turning it myself the sound of the drive chain dropping into the lazarette confirmed that the steering cable had broken. 'No problem', I said. We are prepared for this failure. I got out the 50 ft piece of 1/4" high tech rope (low stretch and stronger then stainless steel) that I got just in case this happened. We took out the old broken cable, measured it, made a replacement using the high tech rope and installed it. We now have wheel steering again (the boat sailed the entire time on the autopilot which attaches directly to the rudder). But, it took almost five hours after a day/night in which I only got about an hour's sleep.

On the bright side, the wind is lighter today and we're making good speed if not good progress (we're 30 degrees below our destination in the Marquesas, so it looks like there's more upwind sailing in our future).

If anyone has a spare wish, you could send us an East wind. It would be much appreciated.

John and Linda

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Drifting in the doldrums

Friday afternoon

We managed to make forward progress until this morning when the wind died again. It's a beautiful landscape with huge rain clouds all around us, the air itself is crystal clear, and the ocean is a glassy deep blue. But it's frustrating to have to waste time waiting for the wind to come up. It's truly a catch-22 because we don't want to run the motor and make the cabin even hotter than it already is, nor do we want to pay the exorbitant price for fuel in Nuku Hiva. So we wait.

And to top things off we are having to brush our teeth the old-fashioned way. Our plug in electric tooth brush just suddenly quit working. We think it may not have liked being charged on our little inverter because its blue charging light blinked rather hysterically over the past months. We looked at new ones in Hawaii but hoped to get one more year out of this one. I dug out our old portables and stuck new batteries in them, but wouldn't you know it they were both DOA as well! Fortunately we happened to have one manual tooth brush still in the bathroom cupboard which we'll share until I can get into a locker for another one that I know is stowed away.

Totally off the subject, but something I keep meaning to mention, is the fact that we found coffee beans and rum to be so much more expensive in Hawaii than we had been used to paying in Mexico and Latin America that those are two important items we decided not to re-stock on Nakia. It was a tough choice but we'll be a dry boat when our cheap Panamanian rum finally runs out! We'll hope to find coffee at a more reasonable price somewhere else along the way and in the meantime we're going to try a can of Kirkland French roast.

While John and I can't seem to drink enough cold water, Ziggy is the best hydrated member of the crew. His meals may look more like soup than cat food but at least he's still peeing like a champ!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A lot of reading in the ITCZ

Well, we are good and stuck in the ITCZ now and are taking any course but due north or due west just to keep sailing. At sunrise today we could see a big black cloud to our left (north) and when I came on watch at Noon the BBC was behind us and we were still motoring. Since it wasn't raining and the decks were clean from all the rain yesterday we took the opportunity to change jibs. Other than squalls the winds are anticipated to be lighter from here on out so we dropped the small jib, folded it on deck, and put up the big jib. Finally, after 24 hours of hot, noisy motoring, the BBC caught up to us and morphed into a big gray overcast with some breeze and we shut down the engine to sail. Ah, peace and quiet at last.

John is now reading the B. Kingsolver book of short stories and I have finished both The Reader by Bernhard Schlink and Alibi by Joseph Kanon. The former, of course, is the source for the Kate Winslet movie by the same name and I thought both were very moving. It surprised me when the Kona librarian who checked out the DVD to me said she hadn't liked either the book or the movie. The Reader is definitely not "feel good" material but it's thought provoking and well done. I don't usually pick up mystery/thriller novels but Alibi is set in Venice so I couldn't resist. And it turned out to be an engaging read with almost non-stop dialogue and an interesting view of post-war Venice and it's ex-pat inhabitants. Now I've started to re-read A Fish Flew Through the Porthole by Gerri Miller which is an account of their passage from San Francisco to the Marquesas in a small sailboat similar to ours. I had forgotten what a great sense of humor she has and I was already laughing just reading the prologue. This is a self-published memoir so you're not likely to find it on amazon.com but it's a hilarious tale of a passage fraught with more than any sailor's share of mishaps.

Here's a list of some of the things we'll miss after living in the States again:

Driving a car
Free Wi-Fi
Good multi-grain wheat bread (though I just realized I never got a sourdough bread fix!)
Having a library card for renting DVDs and doing internet
Shopping and pizza lunches at Costco with Ralph and Glenda
Brian Williams (NBC news; sorry Diane and Katie but after hearing Brian's guest spot on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me we love his sense of humor - which he occasionally lets creep into his newscast!)
Noah's bagels from Costco
The resident turtles (Stumpy, Barnacle Bill, Old Blue, and the rest of the gang) in Honokohau Marina
DQ Blizzards at the mall
New episodes of The Office, Lost, and The Amazing Race (even though the digital signal w/o cable was often weak)
Fresh fish from our charter fishing neighbors in Honokohau
Lava Man Red Ale from the Kona Brewing Co. (that's John's entry)
Did I already mention shopping at Costco?!

So we continue to read, sleep, eat, and (hopefully) sail our way across the Pacific. Oh yes, and we crossed the half way mark on Monday night!


Rainy day

We noticed a change in the weather day before yesterday (I'm writing this on my Tuesday night watch) when the clouds really rolled in by late afternoon and the air became even more humid than usual. Monday it was cloudy all day and when I woke up this morning for my 0400 watch it was raining. John said that at one point the rain was coming down so hard that the drops pelting the ocean excited the bioluminescence in the water and created a glow over the entire surface. It rained practically non-stop the whole day and didn't let up until a few hours ago.

Rain like this usually means no wind so we've been motoring since after noon. The flatter seas and slower speed (plus rain washed decks!) gave John a chance to really walk around the boat checking on things. His inspection turned up two broken sail slides at the top of the main and a missing bolt in the dodger frame. Fortunately he had saved the slides from the old sail and was able to replace the failed plastic ones with our old stainless steel ones. He remembered seeing those top two slides when we got the new sail and thinking they really needed to be SS or bronze and not plastic, and unfortunately he was proved right. He found a temporary bolt to fit the dodger frame and we were back in business. In the meantime he had also gotten a good soaking from the rain which gave me the idea to get out there with a bar of soap for a rain bath of my own. Too bad we didn't get the new rain catcher sewn before we left because we'd also have full water tanks again by now.

Ziggy doesn't like the noise of the engine (who does?) so he's retreated to a spot on top of all our junk stowed in the Pullman berth. He doesn't look very comfortable and I think he's also a little mad because there are no flying fish on a calm night like tonight. Last night he flew out to the cockpit in time to get a small one in his mouth before I could get to it. But I got him on his leash tethered to the binnacle and wouldn't let him below. So it was just a matter of waiting him out before he finally dropped it and I snatched it away with the metal salad tongs and threw it overboard. John thought that was pretty mean, but at least he got the thrill of the catch if not the actual meal.

This rain means we're probably in the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) now, even though it wasn't forecast to reach higher than 5 degrees North at the moment. But it's a slippery thing and moves with a will of it's own so you're never quite sure where you're going to actually run into it (or how long it's going to last...). Because of the upcoming equatorial counter current we're waiting until we get to 3 degrees North and 140 West before we make our turn to the south. That's one of those sailing strategies/decisions that John's been agonizing over, and we'll just have to hope that all the book references about it and prognostications are in our favor.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Shower day!

It finally calmed down enough for us to take salt water showers out on the side deck today! This has been the longest I've ever gone without taking any kind of full body bath, and it felt great. One of the things I forgot to add to my shopping list for Hawaii was baby wipes (who thinks of those again once you're done with a passage?), and I'm afraid the ones we bought in the Galapagos won't last this trip. But we should be running into lighter winds like the ones we're having today when we get south of the equator.

Forgot to mention that we've seen two ships so far. Well, the first one, on Sunday night, was only visible on the AIS since it was very far away. John saw the second one on Wednesday when the winds were so wild. The AIS has been great, and saves us having to run the radar for the very big ships (which are probably the only vessels we'd run across out here).

Last night was crazy with flying fish and Ziggy was on a tear trying to get one. We've resorted to closing up the companionway when they are coming on board at a fast pace so that he can't get on deck to try catching one. I don't fully understand why cats with UTDs can't eat fish since cats and fish seem to be made for each other, but we're not letting him have any. Since magnesium is the thing we have to avoid in his food, I'll have to assume that fish are high in that.

All is well on board and I'm looking forward to getting back to my Barbara Kingsolver book (Homeland) and maybe a crossword puzzle while John tweaks the sails and then tries to get some sleep. Oh, and it's gotten much warmer in the cabin since we hit 80 degree water temperature a couple of days ago.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cooking on Nakia

Tuesday 4/6 [I composed this on paper and didn't put it in the computer before it got rough again.]

What are we eating under such rough conditions you may ask? Well, we're not as ambitious about cooking as some of our friends so we don't prepare meals ahead of departure, seal them in vacuum bags, freeze them (no room in the freezer), and then pop them in boiling water when the seas are rough. Personally my appetite goes way down and it's all I can do to force myself to drink enough water and eat much of anything.

So far we've finished one out of two "hands" of apple bananas, John's eaten one of his five rapidly ripening papayas, and I'm working my way through the Fuji apples. For protein and carbs we're eating peanut butter sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, and cheese and crackers. The Safeway muffins showed signs of mold yesterday morning but there aren't many left and we just peel off the outer muffin top with a knife. When those are gone we'll switch to granola bars for breakfast. Last night John whipped up a packet of curry flavored ramen noodles to which he added some peanut butter. He thought it was quite a taste treat, but my stomach rebels at the thought of it.

Ziggy continues to turn up his nose at his wet (canned) food, but gets happy at the sound of the kibble bag. Since he still won't drink water voluntarily I add a little to the kibble and mix it in with the wet, but I basically have to hand feed him to get him to eat it. John caught a tuna today and Z was right there begging for some. The books all say NO FISH for cats with tendencies toward urinary tract disease, but we gave him a little anyway to entice him to eat his other food.

Thursday 4/8

Today we had the "Cooking with Captain John" show. John made our old standby - a cabbage, onion, carrot, rice bowl - and narrated it along the way. I guess I should have gotten the camera out to video it because it was pretty funny. Maybe he'll write some of the dialogue in his blog. Move over Chef Ramsey and Jamie Oliver!

Yesterday was pretty windy, but today is much better. We've gone back to our old friend, the wheel lock, to help steer the boat when the auto pilot can't handle things. This is especially important for doing any radio work (sending emails and checking into the net) which we can't do with the auto pilot. So now I don't always have to stand outside and hand steer while John takes care of those chores. John is in touch with Yves (the manufacturer) about ideas to get the Cape Horn wind vane to work again. We are keeping water (mostly) out of the boat, and have started reading books again.


Better today

That was quite a day yesterday. In the afternoon the wind was up to 30 kts with gusts probably in the 35 kt range. I was off watch and we had the boat steering itself (just using the sails and rudder to keep us sailing reletive to the wind). We were making good progress but by about 1400 we were crashing off of some of the waves very hard and I begged Linda to let me make a change to the sails (she would rather put up with the pounding if the boat is not having problems sailing itself). I rolled up the jib, eased the main and staysail and set the autopilot to put us on a close reach. What a difference! We stopped crashing down off the waves immediately. Luckily the wind was more to the north so we were still making desired course at a good speed.

After sunset the wind and waves subsided and we were able to set more sail only to be headed (the wind shifted more onto our bow) at about 2200 when Linda had quite a bit of work to get the autopilot to steer us again.

This morning we're back to sailing with just the sails and rudder steering (no autopilot) and are just barely making our course. The good thing is the wind is down to about 18 kts and we're not pounding. Hopefully once we get South of 10 North the wind will shift into the North more and we can get a little more Easting before the equator.

As of 0800 4/8/2010 we've made good 520 nm with 1490 left to go.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

rough day

very windy/rough today. All's well, if not dry.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Better night

Last night (the night of the 5th) was much better. The wind backed off enough for us to set a little more sail and not feel like we were jumping off a cliff every third wave.

If anyone ever told me I'd be sailing hard on the wind into the trades I'd have laughed. Truth be told, we're not sailing as close to the wind as we could, if we were we'd be going even slower and have more problems keeping the boat sailing (both the autopilot and the windvane dislike having to sail close to the 'edge'). Be that as it may, we're still sailing upwind into the trades which is something I'd never have given us credit for.

We did a few things before this passage to help with windward performance which I'd like to mention to all the sailors reading our blog. First, we moved the anchor chain from it's normal position in the bow to the keel (NAKIA has a 15 gallon tank in the front of the keel that's never been used and holds our 250 ft of chain perfectly). Moving 450 lbs 12 ft aft changed the pitch of the boat quite a bit, the bow came up about 2 inches and I can tell as we go over the waves that the bow is staying up instead of slamming down into the water. Second, we 'stacked' the boat for port tack. All the canned goods, kitty litter and heavy spare gear are stowed on the port side as far outboard as possible. We also tried to keep it close, fore and aft, to the mast. Before we left Hilo NAKIA was heeling a good 5 degrees to port just sitting still. This helps lessen the amount of heel caused by the sails so we have a more comfortable ride.

Today we are at 15o 43'N, 151o 23'W and have made about 320 miles, giving us about 1700 miles to go.

Look for our position on the web at:


Monday, April 05, 2010

still making progress

It's pretty rough, so this is short.

The good:
We're making progress along our intended route, about 100 miles a day.
Z doing better, though we're forcing about 10 ml of water into him per day.

The bad:
Broke the windvane (not sure what happened, but it doesn't work anymore) and are having to use the Autopilot. Lots more power down the tube.
Broke the staysail outhaul, staysail now lashed to the staysail boom.
Broke the thru-hull fitting for the holding tank vent. Lots of water into the boat even though this fitting is 3 feet above the water line. Put a plug in it. The vent now vents into the chain locker.
Broke the automatic part of the bildge pump, manual still works.

It's supposed to slack of in the next couple days, that will be fine with all on board.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

On our way!

As expected it's been a rough start to our passage from Hawaii to the Marquesas. The NE tradewinds are blowing as high as 25 kts at times and it's a bumpy ride trying to keep as much easting as possible in our course. We don't want to bear off to the south too early or we might overshoot and end up in Tahiti!

We both took Stugeron (an anti-seasickness medication) before leaving Hilo and haven't actually been sick, although I've felt borderline queasy. I swore ahead of time not to feed Ziggy a full breakfast but when we woke up at 5 AM Saturday I figured that two hours would be enough for him to digest it all before we were at sea. Of course it all came back up sometime later that morning. When he perked up at the sound of a flying fish hitting the deck this morning I figured he might take some watered down canned food but, 1/2 tsp later, everything left in his stomach came up. We're mostly concerned about keeping him hydrated so I've resorted to force feeding him 1 ml of water at a time via a medicine dropper. We'll see if he can keep that down.

While Ziggy stays put in bed, that's where we wish we could be 24/7. We're rediscovering all those muscles that we use just to hold on, stay on our feet, and keep ourselves from being hurtled into hard objects. I've already taken knocks to an elbow, a knee, and my head, and I'm not even doing a tenth of the work John does. So he's wiped. Laying flat out in the sea berth on our off watches is a welcome relief from trying to sit, stand, or walk. But sleep is difficult when the boat periodically gets launched off an ill-timed wave, goes airborne, and lands in the water with a heavy crash. Or when a different kind of wave hits just right and sends a wall of water cascading into the cockpit. I think that's the worst part for me because I'd like to spend more time out in the fresh air. Except for our quarter-hour horizon checks and occasional sail adjustments we mostly stay below to keep dry.

We had rain to start out with but the skies cleared to mostly sunny once we left the influence of the Big Island behind. By 3 PM yesterday we'd lost sight of land as Hawaii was hidden in the clouds. If the local extended forecast holds true we should have slightly lighter winds this week which would be a nice break. But personally I'm happy to be getting the rougher stuff while we're fresh, knowing that we should be sailing into better weather farther south.


Saturday, April 03, 2010


We're off.

As of 0700 local this morning. Started sailing at about 1030 and now have NE winds at 15-18. All's well on board.

John and Linda