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Sunday, October 31, 2010

First days in Hilo

Yes, we got our blizzards while waiting for the return bus back to the boat. And the great news is - they now offer a mini blizzard!!!! Even the small was always too much for me and now, for a dollar less, I can get the perfect size. It's enough to satisfy my craving without feeling stuffed. Yay! I had pecan pie flavor and John had Georgia mud fudge.

But first things first. I think I mentioned that John did a fantastic job of setting a bow anchor and backing straight to the wall behind us, in between Tango (catamaran) and M/V Kiska, the small Coast Guard boat stationed in Hilo. I slowly let out the bow anchor rode until he backed close enough to literally lasso one of the ship sized cleats on the edge of the wall. That was enough to get us set until we could launch the dinghy to properly tie both stern lines.

We started the arduous task of rearranging everything below back to its proper place, though not entirely since we'll be going back out to sea again soon. At 8:00 John picked Gary up from Sea Flyer to go check-in with the Harbor Master and Customs. Unbeknownst to me, John got a call back from our Hilo veterinarian, and made a 9:00 appointment. So in the middle of my cleaning and before John and Gary returned from Customs, I heard a call from Dr. Skip Pease on the dock. Since the dinghy was at the ladder where John left it I couldn't fetch the vet but, good sport that he is, Skip climbed down into the dinghy and did his best to row over to Nakia. He looked over an uncooperative Ziggy and completed the Health Certificate required by Animal Quarantine.

The next visit was from a veterinarian from the Department of Agriculture who asked that we meet her up at the picnic table by the bathrooms because she had her small daughter with her. So we harnessed Ziggy and loaded him in his crate, into the dinghy, and up the ladder. She scanned Ziggy's microchip, checked our ID, filled out the Airport Release Card and other paperwork, and gave an unhappy Ziggy another once over. By this time he was really stressed and by the time we released him back on the boat his nose and paws were very pink and he was breathing quickly, though not actually panting. Last year he'd had a day to get used to his new surroundings before going through all this and it didn't phase him. I'm so glad we didn't have to put him through a long trip to the HNL airport, which you have to do if you check in on Oahu.

We took the first afternoon bus to do some shopping at the mall, and get the aforementioned DQ blizzards, and caught the last bus of the day back to the boat. Picked up some not very good Chinese at the Oceanfront Kitchen and plopped down to see what's new on the TV. To our surprise we found there's an election coming up this Tuesday and the TV is full of negative ad campaigning and ads against negative ad campaigning. Welcome back to the good ol' USA...

Yesterday we made an early morning trip to the local laundromat and managed to get all of that done in one trip. I returned in the afternoon for a visit to the library and more groceries. Since we can only buy what we can carry on the bus, it's nice to pick up a few things each time we go into town.

Today we heard from Alobar, one of the three remaining Equator Hoppers, who reports that Kehaulani discovered broken wires on their rigging. The breaks are at the top of the mast where they can't make repairs in the current conditions. They've called the Coast Guard for help and are hoping to divert another sailboat in the area to get a younger person who would be able to climb the mast for them. Otherwise they would have to motor the rest of the way, and they don't have the fuel capacity to do that.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day - nice for the Holland America ship visiting from SoCal - and last night we got a good rain. This morning I wiped the boat down to get most of the remaining salt off, and just now we had another rain shower to complete the rinse cycle. Next I need to polish and wax the stainless which is looking very rough after more than three weeks of taking a pounding of salt spray. But first we are probably going to Kona on Monday to meet up with good friends, Ralph and Glenda. We're sorry we're going to miss Freedom's arrival in Hilo this week, but we've got to get moving on to Honolulu soon.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hilo Landfall

After 24 days we made our arrival at 6:30 Thursday morning not without the usual last minute excitement. First it rained off and on on us and we had to motor the last six hours. Then I almost ran into the green buoy outside the breakwater when I was paying too much attention to an alarm going off on the auto pilot and John talking on the radio to a large car carrier exiting the bay in front of us. Then we had our usual tiff over the fact that I've never learned how to flake the aft section of the main sail and John has to do it for me. And the confusion over getting lines out and chain lockers cleared in preparation for actually tying up to shore. But John did an amazing job of setting our bow anchor and backing down on the wall close enough so he could lasso one of the big yellow dock cleats with our stern line. No assistance required! Our favorite gate grunt (security guard) was there to welcome us back. We're tied up next to Tango, a catamaran we met briefly in Anse Amyot, and down the way is Verite, the catamaran that (nicely) kicked us off their reserved mooring in Uturoa.

Ziggy doesn't know what to do with himself, and is following us around looking quite perplexed. I don't think he'll be going to sleep anytime soon this morning!

We're happy to have the boat still even if it means we now go into high gear fixing things and cleaning up the mess created by such a long, rough time at sea. The blog will be quiet for awhile until we're either settled in or moving again.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday, 10/27

Yesterday we had two signs of approaching land - I saw a frigate bird, which we haven't seen since leaving Raiatea, and we overheard Coast Guard Honolulu talking on the VHF radio! Yesterday was another wet and wooly day with one period of calmer wind and waves in the afternoon as big rain clouds passed all around us. The wind and waves have come back up since then; not as bad as before though there's still a good chance of taking spray any time you enter the cockpit.

Sea Flyer should be the third boat making landfall later today, and Nakia will be right behind them in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. There will be a lot of cleaning up to do to put this sailboat back to our cozy home, but we're looking forward to a date with blizzards at DQ.

One more day and night at sea!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday, 10/26 (dawn)

We're getting reports that our latest position(s) haven't appeared on Pangolin or ShipTracker so here they are:

Sunday, 10/24
14 degrees 54 minutes North
148 degrees 24 minutes West

Monday, 10/25
16 degrees 19 minutes North
150 degrees 16 minutes West

Although yesterday was another windy (25 knots), rough (up to 12 foot seas) day, there was more sunshine making it not so ominous. What a funny trick of the mind that when the sun is shining it's all very beautiful, but when clouds color everything grey and dull it looks a bit more threatening. Last night was much calmer and we were able to let out a bit more jib to keep our speed up. John says the forecast is for plenty of wind all the way to Hilo until Thursday. It looks like we may arrive before sunrise Thursday, but we've been in and out of Hilo a couple of times and it's very straightforward and doable in the dark. Now I'm hoping for some nice rain to wash the boat with after we get tied up to the dock.

Ziggy's dinner slide across the table doesn't seem to have affected him and he's been a bit nicer lately. He knows our watch routine, or rather that one of us gets up while the other one goes to bed, and he always jumps out of his bed for a walk around the cabin or a scritchy-scratch on his cardboard "post" before settling back in bed to wait for his next meal. He's been playing with toys a bit, but is dying to get out of the cockpit for a bigger leg stretch. It's been too rough this passage to take him for walks around the decks. Yesterday morning he was out the door after daylight and sniffed out the two flying fish that were still on board - one just in front of the dodger (he was still underneath the dodger and didn't figure out to go around), and one little one in the cockpit well under the dinghy gas can. I was able to toss both stiff bodies overboard before he could eat them. He is truly one of our main sources of entertainment on a long passage like this as you can tell!

I didn't sleep very well last night and am looking forward to getting a solid three hours on my long off watch later this morning. You'd think we'd fall asleep at the drop of a hat when given the opportunity, but sometimes I have trouble shutting down my brain. We are trying to time our book reading to finish before we arrive since there won't be a spare minute with all the work and play to do. But I finished one last night and will see if I can get one last trashy book read in the next two days, before returning to more leisurely literary works. Can't wait to hit the library for some DVD rentals too.

Many thanks to all the encouraging emails from friends and family who are as anxious as we are to make landfall!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, 10/25

No long blog for today. Still very windy and rough and we are taking periodic waves breaking in the cockpit. Have the bottom hatch board in and now the companionway hatch roof closed. Before we closed the roof we took a little splash all the way into the galley and on top of my head since I happened to be standing at the foot of the steps at the time. I stopped hand feeding Ziggy some time ago and got him to eat standing on some carpet non-skid on our salon table. Last night the entire contents of the table - books, glasses, head lamps, kleenex, cat bowl, and cat - went sliding off on to the port settee cushion. Poor Ziggy. Now he gets to eat on the starboard settee cushion where he can at least dig in some claw.

We are still broad reaching under double-reefed main, no staysail, and a scrap of jib, making around six knots. Less than 400 miles to go, so at this rate we may be in Hilo very early Thursday morning. Three more nights!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday, 10/24

Saturday was probably the windiest we've seen it so far, but mostly a nice sunny day, so beautiful in a wild sort of way. Even though they don't really seem that big, I'm sure these are the seas that I've looked down upon from an airplane flying to/from Hawaii, thinking to myself how happy I wasn't out there in a small boat! But they're not really as bad as they look from above. I give the autopilot a break twice a day while John does the radio nets and email (our autopilot freaks out when we transmit on the radio so someone has to hand steer). I was nervous about standing out there for up to half an hour at a time but I think I gained more confidence as I got used to the conditions.

We had a new nature experience yesterday. I went out on deck before 8 AM for a horizon check and noticed a dark grey shape surfing in the waves off our aft starboard quarter. I figured it was a lone small dolphin and that I had missed the main pod (sometimes a few strays will hang around after the big group has left). But when I went back out at 8:15 to steer for John's radio net it was still there. I soon realized that it never surfaced to breathe and was more fish than dolphin or shark shaped. John joined me after the net and confirmed that it must be a dorado (mahi mahi). The amazing thing is that it followed us for the entire day! Every time I went out to check for ships I got so focused on finding the fish in the waves that I had to force my eyes back up to the horizon to scan for ships. It's been too rough to even think about fishing, besides which we still have a freezer full of dorado and I'm not a big fan of anything but salmon to begin with. Besides, it was kind of fun to have a fish mascot for a day!

We are still plowing through the collected works of "New York Times Bestselling" authors - Dan Brown, Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, Carl Hiaasen, David Baldacci, James Patterson, and Elmore Leonard. I managed to read the latter's "Out of Sight" without remembering the Clooney/JLo movie of the same name until John started reading it and pointed that out to me. Reading one book right after another is making them all a big blur, but it sure does pass the time. I manage to do a crossword puzzle now and then and John listens to pre-loaded podcasts of NPR shows like Car Talk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me which keep him chuckling.

The second Equator Hopper boat to arrive in Hawaii is Dazzler. They checked into the Pacific Seafarer's Net off the coast of Molokai last night and expected to reach the Ala Wai Marina (their home port) around midnight. The rest of us are making slow but steady progress towards our various island destinations. The sailboat Entelecheia is checking into the PacSeaNet at night. They are sailing from the northern Cook Islands to Hawaii where they will store the boat until Spring and then make the final leg homeward to San Francisco. Now that's a long passage to Hawaii!


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday, 10/23 (dawn)

We've had a couple of easy nights in light of the fact that we remember nights being much windier than days in our Pacific crossings. But once we got into the NE trades the days have been windy (18 or more knots) with rougher seas (nine or more feet) and the nights have given us some relief with calmer seas. Today has already started off with a bang. At 4 AM John completely furled the jib and at 6 AM he put the second reef in the main sail which, on our sail, is down to almost nothing. The staysail is still out which means we have nowhere else to go with regard to any more reefing. If he gets a calm period, John may drop the staysail and put out a little jib since that can be reefed and unreefed more easily.

Of course by now everything is covered in salt. The throw rugs are still from all the salt we track below on our shoes, the beach towels covering the settee cushions are damp with salt from John's shorts (he has to sit on salty surfaces to do any sailorizing), and our clothes are salty because we sweat day and night in the hot and humid cabin. We'll be doing a lot of washing and cleaning when we get to Hawaii!

Ziggy is bored out of his mind and has become almost untouchable. All he wants to do (except at meal time when he knows better) is take big bites out of us. His eyes are almost constantly in dilated (attack) mode when he's awake. I'm not sure how we're going to make it through five more nights without more bloodshed (ours not his).

But we are counting down the days and nights and are looking forward to a full night's sleep in our own bed on a quiet, motionless boat again!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday, 10/22 (dawn)

Though there may be more motoring ahead if the wind dies we managed to squeak through the ITCZ with only about 12 hours worth. After one (hopefully) last big black cloud covering the sky and raining on us, we've picked up the NE tradewinds. We're broad reaching now (the wind coming more from our side) and taking spray over the bow and into the cockpit again. It's a sharp jerky motion in the bigger seas, but we're moving along fast. We've set a waypoint for the Big Island and, if we can keep up this pace, we could be there by next Thursday or Friday, just in time for Halloween weekend in Hilo. Less than 900 miles to go!

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of what looked like maybe pilot whales. There were puffy spouts and they were much larger than dolphins. They surfed the waves aft of us before disappearing. We're also seeing the very sturdy and graceful shear waters, the little white-rumped petrels, and what I think are tropic birds without their long breeding tail plumes.

Before we left Nila asked me if I do my exercises while on passage. I had to laugh and told her that on a monohull (her boat, Quixotic, is a catamaran) just "being" is plenty of exercise. In addition to constantly bracing for the motion (okay, so maybe it's only isometric exercise), consider that we also climb up and down five steps every 15 minutes over 12 hours in every 24 hour period to scan the horizon outside for ships and weather. That sounds like exercise to me!

In anticipation of our arrival we're planning how to finish up our cabbage, carrots, and onions so that we don't have to waste any by handing them over to Customs. Last year they let us keep our last couple of onions, but other boats we know had theirs taken. So for now it's an onion a day until we can get back to an apple a day!



Thursday, October 21, 2010

Motoring in the ITCZ

Thursday morning

We slowed down a bit yesterday and finally had to turn the engine on at 10:00 last night. We're still motoring at almost 9 and a half degrees North, trying to reach 10 North where we hope to pick up some wind again. We're much farther east than the boats ahead of us. Maybe that will make our ITCZ experience different (i.e., shorter!). Motoring is the worst for Ziggy because the noise and vibration are terrible. It's bad enough for us but must be torture for his sensitive ears. We put his crate on the pullman berth where it's quieter and he has escaped there even though the motion is probably a bit rollier up there.

Chris and Louise of S/V Quest arrived in Kona yesterday. They left Bora Bora on 10/3 and are a fast looking, custom aluminum boat. They are the first of our batch of Equator Hoppers to arrive in Hawaii.

After crossing the equator on 10/15 our sea surface temperature gradually started rising to 79 degrees by the night of 10/16. It stayed there until the night of 10/18 (at about 3 degrees, 42 minutes North and 141 degrees, 45 minutes West) when it went up to 80 degrees and gradually climbed to a high of 82.9 degrees yesterday at 7 degrees, 57 minutes North, 141 degrees, 59 minutes West. It looks like it may have started to drop last night, but we'll see. This may all be related to the influence of the east bound current which has been affecting us a little.

With the warm waters the air temps have also been warm and humid. Our skies are mostly cloudy with some fat clouds dumping rain around us. We've had a few clouds catch up to us with light rain, but no downpours so far. We've seen some very pretty sunsets and sunrises with all the clouds in the sky. Yesterday afternoon we had a dolphin visit (our second of the trip) and there are always the occasional birds to see. We're heading mostly NNE to try to get to 10 North as quickly as possible where we hope to pick up some wind by this afternoon!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, 10/19

It's a grey, sometimes rainy day. We're sailing downwind, wing and wing, which means we have to close the companionway doors when the rain starts. This makes for a humid cave below with the sea surface temperature now at 82.4 degrees! The good news is that we're averaging over six knots each hour instead of the dismal four or less we were making going upwind.

Nothing else to report. Just wanted to let everyone know all is well aboard Nakia, and we're making tracks for Hawaii.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Hawaii bound

It's a bit of a blue day on Nakia as we have decided to postpone our dream to return to Mexico yet again. John crunched the weather faxes and grib files for the upcoming weeks and couldn't come up with enough days of southerly winds to justify the attempt from where we are now. Beating into more of the NE and E winds just didn't sound appealing especially now that those winds and seas have increased, making for a rougher ride. Turning off the wind to sail due North at Noon today was a relief to both our bodies and the boat.

The other factor is that the Cape Horn broke early Sunday morning. John knew before we left FP that the metal rod that failed was already cracked, but he just couldn't see paying hundreds of dollars in shipping and customs duty for a free replacement part. This actually wouldn't have been so bad for sailing to MX since our wheel lock does very well steering the boat upwind. But if we needed to use the auto pilot much we would have been draining our batteries and our fuel supply of gasoline and diesel would have been stretched beyond the limit to keep them charged for another month or more of sailing.

We have plenty of fuel to keep us charged up for the next 10-12 days of sailing to Hawaii. Now the issue is not being able to transmit on the HF radio when the auto pilot is steering. So we're back to the old days of Linda hand steering while John checks-in to the radio nets and sends/receives email. Since I don't particularly like standing out in the wind/spray/rain for this duty, I may not be generating as much email as I have been!

Now our only decision is where to make landfall, Hilo or Honolulu. We'll see what the weather looks like when we get closer before deciding whether or not to bypass Hilo and continue on to Oahu. Our next major hurdle will be crossing the ITCZ. The two boats ahead of us spent 36-72 hours motoring through it, and we really hope we don't have to do the same.

The good news about making Hawaii our near term destination is getting to see the birthday girl and all our cruising friends again!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday, 10/16

Since crossing the equator (our sixth, by the way!) we've continued to see some interesting temperature trends. We reached a new low of 74.7 before dawn today and it's been climbing steadily ever since. This afternoon the latest reading is up to 78.6 degrees. We're also noticing that even though we have a good wind (enough to heel us over), we're only making 4 kts or less. The combination of these things tells us that we must have reached the Equatorial Current which is west bound and is slowing us down as we sail mostly N or NE. We hope to have broken free of this obstacle by the time we reach 5 degrees north in a few more days.

Ziggy is on a strict "catch and release" program with regard to flying fish landing on the side decks at night. It's been calm enough that we're letting him get the fish himself. Although "letting" isn't really accurate since he's usually out the door and gone before we even realize there's a fish on deck. We grab a paper towel and wait for him to return to the cockpit where we wrap one end of the fish (which he conveniently holds by the middle) with the paper towel and yank it out of his mouth, throwing the whole mess overboard. What a stinky mess. I find fish scales in the oddest places because they blow or get tracked down below. Last night he caught a record six fish and we managed to keep him from eating any of them.

We on the other hand have been enjoying fish meals almost every day. Yesterday John made two nice loaves of bread, our first since leaving Tahaa. The morning of our departure we were on a mooring buoy at the Taravana Yacht Club. At dinner the night before I had thought to ask about the hours of the nearby bakery. So at 6:00 that Monday morning I took the dinghy in to the club dock and walked a couple of blocks for a last supply of fresh baguettes. Today we had mahi mahi sandwiches with John's fresh bread.

Today we also came within about 15 miles of one of the other boats headed for Hawaii. Sea Flyer departed on 10/7 from Tikihau in the Tuamotus, and we've been in touch with them daily on the morning radio net. It would have been a great photo op, but alas, even with GPS it's like looking for a needle in a hay stack and we never got a visual on them.

Soggy Paws emailed us that in addition to the Yotreps position reports on Pangolin, we are also being tracked at this site:


Since we haven't seen it ourselves we don't know how it differs from Yotreps, but maybe it will give you a different view of things.

It's another clear blue day and we're sailing well on the wind vane, enjoying the ride and sleeping well.


Chillin' at the Equator

We have a Furuno fish finder which we use as our depth sounder. One of the features of the display is the sea surface temperature. We record this along with the rest of our position data each hour 24/7 of any passage. It's been particularly interesting to watch this trip.

10/4 Day One out of Raiatea: 81 degrees.

10/5 Day Two: 81.7 is our high temperature so far.

The temperature was then consistently 80-81 for the next few days.

10/9 Day Six: dropped from 80.2 to 79.5 in one hour and remained constant around 79.

10/13 Day Ten: started dropping at 03 degrees 30 minutes South, 146 degrees 06 minutes West when it went from 78.6 to 77.7 in one hour, and gradually continued to drop.

10/15 Day Twelve: reached a low temp of 74.8 at 01 degrees 7 minutes South, 144 degrees 45 minutes West. Later this day, at 9:15 PM, we crossed the equator.

The cold water temps make for chilly, damp nights but the refrigerator/freezer, full of fish, doesn't have to work so hard to stay cool.

John gave Neptune an extra ration of rum at the equator in thanks for the smooth sailing so far, and made a teeny request for some south winds!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good Thursday Morning

Each morning the dawn breaks and I'm faced with a band of puffy clouds under which rain falls at various intervals. I worry and fret, but by the time we reach the clouds they've lifted a bit, the sun is warmer, and I've won my game of chicken once again. Although I don't like the thought of getting rained on (mostly because it sometimes means increased wind) Nakia would welcome a good bath. She's encrusted in salt - you can't touch a surface forward of the cockpit without coming up with a handful of salt crystals. But I'm in no hurry since I know our turn for a downpour will come soon enough.

Before we left I asked John to use some of our remaining Hotspot internet minutes in Raiatea to download some of our favorite cruiser blogs and web pages. So he pulled up an Explorer window and opened tab after tab of our friend's adventures. Now we're reading about Masquerade in Kwajalein, Nine of Cups and Sarana's summer in the States, Mist in Hawaii, and even Yohelah's 2005 Pacific NW entries. Great fun to have the company of friends during a long passage!

Ziggy got a flying fish on the side deck last night but I grabbed some paper towels and relieved him of his catch as soon as he returned with it to the companionway. They are stinky, slippery things. Freedom reported "catching" one that was a foot long! We've never seen one that big.

It was another nice, quiet night, and we'll hope for another sunny day moving along. Oh, and yes, we have plenty of food on board to get us where we want to go! Just not as many fresh veggies/fruits as we normally would because variety of the former is limited, quality of imported produce is poor, and all are expensive in French Polynesia.


Wednesday night, 10/13 (midnight watch)

Nothing new to report, but I thought I'd check in just to let everyone know all is still very well aboard Nakia. We are having a good upwind sail with fine weather. This morning the wind was a bit more out of the north than usual so John tried putting us on port tack. That had us going too far south and we went back on starboard tack after a few hours. Boy, once you're used to being on a certain tack, it's hard to make the transition to the opposite one.

Yesterday John caught a skipjack type of tuna (not the bad kind like in Mexico) just as our morning oatmeal was ready to eat. Later in the afternoon he hooked a bull dorado. So I cleared the freezer of all our baked goods and it looks like we'll be eating our fill of fish. Ziggy can't get enough but we're limiting him to what we hope are small enough quantities to keep him both happy and healthy. (I still don't understand what it is about fish that cats with UTIs are not supposed to eat it.) He gets pretty frisky after meals these days and is really tearing into his cardboard scratching "post."


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday, 10/12

If we have to sail upwind, we couldn't have asked for a more perfect first week. We've had a reefed main out, the staysail, and the jib on port tack, and the only trimming has been to the jib. Granted we've been sailing slow - anything over 5 kts feels fast - and are envious of the boats reporting 5.5 - 6.5 average speeds. But we've been much more comfortable this time and I think a lot of it has to do with slowing down. Last night was the first slightly uncomfortable night with the boat crashing off more waves and generally bouncier conditions, even though it didn't seem any windier than usual.

Even though we've seen lots of them the entire way, we had our first boarding of suicidal flying fish last night. Ziggy was coming down the companionway with the first one before John caught him. So now he's in his harness waiting for a dawn release. It will be better once the moon is more full. My theory is if there's enough light to see by, the fish are able to avoid us more easily.

I forgot to mention my latest "home improvements." As nice and clear as the days are we still have to have every hatch and port hole closed up against the ocean spray making it very hot and stuffy below. We take a lot of sun through the hatches above the salon. One day I got the bright idea to open the screens (which hinge down), lay paper towels on top of them, and latch them back in place. Now we still get lots of diffused light without taking the direct sun. I think it also cuts down on the amount of heat entering the cabin. With that in mind I also taped a bandana over the quarter berth port hole where the morning sun was bothering me on my first off watch of the day. That too has helped keep the berth cooler. Can't believe it's taken us going on six equator crossings to think of simple things like that.

You may have noticed that we're sailing quite far east of Hawaii. This is in anticipation of crossing the ITCZ and getting into the northern hemisphere winds where we'll be able to crack off the wind and have a nicer sail to Hawaii. Or it's because we're heading to Mexico. That decision is still out, but we should be making it soon.

Sailing slow, but very comfortable and happy campers!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Books on Nakia

Before we left Hawaii, after Ziggy's emergency visit to the vet, I decided we needed some cat health books on board. The vets I asked for recommendations looked at me with blank stares so I started looking for myself. I ended up buying the following three books. It seemed silly at the time to order multiple references, but I'm happy I ended up buying all three of the cat books because they're from different points of view and I can pick and choose what works best for us. I hope all our cat owning friends will pass on their favorites to us as well!

Your Cat by Elizabeth M. Hodgkins - This is the first one I read cover to cover. She's a former Hill's Science Diet exec and an adamant opponent of feeding dry food. Has some good data on cases where merely changing the diet improved health issues. Using her food analysis I now know that the Rx Hill's diet (canned and dry) that we stocked up on for Ziggy is poorer quality than the few Friskies cans we still have on board. I kept looking for the flaws in her logic because I'm sure vets won't agree with her, but she makes a compelling argument.

The Natural Cat by Anitra Frazier - Raw meat diet and homeopathic care proponent. Okay, this one is on the extreme end of things, but she has some good recipes for making your own food, and lots of tips. Who knew roasted chicken neck vertebrae make a good teeth cleaning treat. It's a "feel good" read in that she makes it sound possible to get your cat to do anything, when I know for a fact I couldn't do 3/4 of what she suggests with Ziggy!

Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Eldredge, et al - haven't dipped into this one much yet, but looks like a nice middle of the road reference from mainstream vets.

In the reading for pleasure department I have two big recommendations:

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver - Inspiring read about her family's goal to eat locally for a year, including growing as much of their own food as possible. Makes me want to make my own mozzarella cheese, which is saying a lot! Can't do anything about the gardening at the moment, but lots of good food for thought (pun intended).

The Pickup, a novel by Nadine Gordimer - Although the inevitable ending was no surprise this is a beautifully written story that stayed with me for days afterwards.

Now we're reading mass market "beach books" which for me are simply time passers. I don't normally read many of these and reading them back to back has been kind of interesting. The first one, a David Baldacci, was a fast paced page turner in which every possible suspect, motive and plot twist was thrown out to get the reader off the track. But the author lost me when the killer turned out to be one of the "normal" characters who conveniently became a psycho. Now I'm onto a Clifford Irving in which the real suspects are evident in under 100 pages, but which is much more character and issues driven making it a more thoughtful read.

The reason we're reading these small paperbacks is because they have been stuffed behind our shelf of reference books and literary fiction behind which we again have a small salt water deck leak. I've stuffed towels behind all of them, but we decided we'd better read them before they got water logged.

It's Sunday and we're having another beautiful clear sunny day, although the sailing is slower than we'd like. John estimates that Robert and Kelita on Freedom are about 75 miles behind us, with the rest of the boats up ahead of us, and all are doing well. Freedom happened to pass Caroline Atoll in the daytime and decided to sail NW to get in the lee of it for what they reported as being the best six hours of sailing they've ever had. Said the atoll was beautiful and appeared completely uninhabited, but too deep to anchor for a visit. We passed at night so had to give it a miss.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Saturday, October 9

We continue to truck along towards the equator and the ITCZ (Intercontinental Tropical Convergence Zone) which is the hurdle we must cross to get into the northern hemisphere weather patterns. We've had a pretty slow start but that made for a very comfortable adjustment period which was actually almost enjoyable. Spray seldom flew over the dodger making it possible for us to stand outside to look out over the sparkling blue ocean. We were sailing close to the wind (close reaching) using our trusty wheel lock to let Nakia steer herself once the sails were balanced just right. Last night the seas became a bit rougher and this morning John fell off the wind a bit (more of a beam reach) and switched over to our Cape Horn wind vane self steering.

Although I was aware of the jerkier, more side to side motion of the boat I neglected to think about how it might affect Ziggy. He was his usual self, pestering me for breakfast at dawn, and I encouraged him to eat a full breakfast of canned food (which, with additional water added to it, is the only water he's "drinking"). Big mistake. How is it that the volume of what goes in appears to triple when it comes back out? All over one of the carpets, which I wiped and then stuffed in the anchor chain locker to grow god knows what. Poor guy has been sleeping it off ever since.

So far this week's mishaps have been a bit costly but minor. During the worst night with lots of adjustments being made to the jib (in and out) a locking Lewmar winch handle managed to go over the side when it wasn't properly locked in the winch. One day John decided to let the fishing lines stay out well into sunset. When he pulled them in he had lost his big purple and pink fishing lure. It hadn't caught anything yet, but it was one of John's favorites. He was using a 400 lb test leader on it so whatever took it must have had something sharp to cut through the metal.

We are traveling "in company" with a few other boats and John is running a radio sked in the mornings for everyone to call in with their position, weather, and any general comments. The boats are all very different models and traveling at varying speeds so we're pretty well spread out, but it's nice to keep track of each other and hear the various wind/wave conditions. About half are headed straight to Honolulu and the others are going to Hilo. We'd like to go to Hilo first where it's easier to clear in with Customs but we'll see what kind of progress we make. We also wouldn't want to arrive there on a weekend and have to wait around to clear in, so it's possible we'd go straight to Oahu.

The weather has been mostly clear and sunny with a few puffy clouds. We see birds daily and one of the first days out I came out on deck to look around and just happened to be looking in the right spot when a whale with a very white belly breached the water and went over on its back off in the distance. I couldn't see the fins but it was pretty amazing especially when that wasn't even my "scheduled" 15 minute interval to be up on deck. What are the odds of that?!


Friday, October 08, 2010

Hawaii or Mexico?

Well, it appears that someone who is celebrating a very special birthday in Hawaii has guessed that may be where we're going! And it certainly is the most likely possibility although you do have to go north to turn east for our other favorite place. However we'll probably wimp out on that one (again) especially since the ship's quarter master (me) didn't do a very good job of provisioning for an extra long passage (really miss all those free pamplemousse, limes, bananas, and mangos in the Marquesas).

So unless something happens to make us change our minds we are Hawaii bound for the time being!

Continuing to have a particularly pleasant passage (there, now I jinxed it), and looking forward to either destination.

Linda (and John and Ziggy too)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

(no subject)

I'm going to leave the position reports to John and keep mine short since time is limited. I know that sounds weird but there is either lots to do or we're trying to get some rest. We're using our time tested watch schedule in which I am up at 0400 to see the dawn begin at 0500. Ziggy lets me know he sees it getting light as well which means it's time for his breakfast. I basically have to hold or prop the food bowl for him while he's hunkered down or curled up in his bed. I think he feels more secure there and is less likely to get thrown about with the motion of the boat. (I already have calluses starting on my hands just from holding on.) After he's done then it's my turn to bolt a hard-boiled egg and a granola bar or one of various baked goods from the freezer. Of course every 15 minutes the watch alarm is going off telling me to go outside and have a look around for ships. And then on the hour we record our GPS position in the log book. More about all this later. My 15 minutes are up!

We are well and happy and enjoying a very slow sail to somewhere or other.

We are posting our positions to the following web site instead of here on the blog, so you can track us by clicking here:



Friday, October 01, 2010

Where's Nakia?

We finally broke free of Bora Bora but not French Polynesia. After some more kite boarding, baking, sewing projects, swimming, snorkeling, another lunch at Bloody Mary's, and some laundry we returned to Raiatea and anchored near the boat yard. We spent so much time in Bora Bora with no weather window for visiting Maupiti in sight that we decided to stay here a couple of more weeks before making our next big push.

Ed is making a hard bimini for his catamaran, Quixotic, and Robert (on Freedom) and John volunteered to assist him with this big project. So Nila, Kelita and I have been playing haus fraus on the boats until recently when the other women decided to pitch in with the fiberglassing and help move things along. I've been doing much more cooking than usual, and a lot of cleaning and small boat projects to get ready for our departure.

Speaking of which, we've decided to play a little game with the friends and family reading our blog. We were pretty certain of our "off" season destination until just recently. Since now even WE are not sure where we'll end up, we thought it would be fun to let you figure it out as we go. We'll post position reports during our passage as usual and you can follow along on your mapping reference of choice. No prizes will be awarded, but we'll look forward to reading your guesses!

The September weather here was nuts. Even the locals were saying it's not usually so windy and rainy. It's been some of the most changeable conditions I've ever experienced, taking only a few minutes to turn from warm and sunny to a (usually brief) torrential downpour or just a light sprinkle. We've been having half a dozen showers a day and often one or two at night, accompanied by gusty winds. This makes going anywhere in the dinghy, hanging laundry out to dry, and keeping the boat hatches open, all dicey endeavors. But with a view of beautiful Bora Bora in our backyard, we're not complaining!