29 August 2014

Video: Cruising Moments of Zen

It’s another VIDEO FRIDAY!

Does anyone remember The Daily Show’s “Moments of Zen”?

This 5 minute film is a little bit of cubicle candy for those dreaming of the tropics, whether fly-in travelers, cruising preppers or armchair sailors. Enjoy!


(If the embedded player doesn’t work, the direct link to the video on youtube is here)

22 August 2014

Video: A Taste of Cruising British Columbia

It’s VIDEO FRIDAY!

This mini film has been a long time in the works. I kept forgetting to work on it, then we lost our main computer, and then when I finally had it  made I had to send the video (by mail from French Polynesia) back to the US of A where the fast internet lives to upload it (thanks Ryan!). 16 minutes worth of clips from our time traveling in British Columbia in 2010-2011. Enjoy!



Or go to the video directly on youtube.

20 August 2014

More Niue Pictures

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18 August 2014

Logbook: The Amazing, The Uncomfortable, Niue

whales in niue


What a dual personality Niue showed us. I’ll start with the negative. After a 10 day passage including passing through a front at the end, we were exhausted. We made landfall at 3am in the open roadstead ocean anchorage that is Niue, took a mooring and sat down with a small taste of cognac preparing for a hot shower and some sleep.

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But no, oh no, that was not to be. The swell was too far South and was wrapping heavily into the harbor. The harbor was well protected from the wind, calm and quiet, and it was protected from the direct swell (so safe) but the wrapping swell had us rolling from toerail to toerail. Carol and I can sleep well in all kinds of conditions in the boat on passage and both of us could not sleep, even exhausted, in these conditions. The second night, the same thing. I told Carol that if the swell wasn’t down on the third night I was sleeping in the rental car because I was desperate, after two weeks, for a night of rest. Thankfully the direction change enough SE for the next week that we were only lightly rolling. Things ranged from comfortable to bearable for the rest of our stay.

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And of course, the discomfort was totally worth it. We had whales in the mooring field for most of the second half of our stay. Swimming between the boats, spraying into the air, tale flukes gracefully curving out of the water, side fins slapping, the sound of their song through our hull.

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Then there were the sea snakes. We did one dive exploring the canyons in the mooring field and staring transfixed at the individual sea snakes as they lazily swam back and forth between the surface and the reef.

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And then there was the trekking, the swimming associated with the trekking, the bouldering, the views.

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And last but not least, we met up with old friends, with new friends and we met new people in Niue. A great small community of 5-6 boats playing in parallel. We left Carol’s moldy hat (a microbrewery in WA State, anyone recognize it?) and picked up a new Niue Yacht Club hat for him.

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A short 10 day stay, but a wonderful set of memories collected.

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14 August 2014

Our Route Thus Far

Shiptrak has been giving me problems so I have changed the link on our blog for “Our Route Thus Far” to this amazingly sophisticated version:

our track so far

13 August 2014

Passage Report: French Polynesia to Niue – The Complicated Middle

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The area between French Polynesia and Tonga has been called “The Dangerous Middle” by one of the freely available online guidebooks (Mr. John's). This is, in large part, because of the unsettled weather in the region. We call it the complicated middle because there are a bunch of different weather phenomena at play in the region, each of which can occur without advance notice: fronts, the official South Pacific Convergence Zone, other convergence zones, etc. 

P1030942If a new system suddenly appears, it changes the forecasted movement and strength of the other systems. It’s a place to keep a weather eye, and to take seriously. A week after we made landfall in Niue, when we wanted to leave, there was 5m swell and 35+ knot winds in the region. We waited. Another boat stuck on passage during that system took damage to sails, solar panels, bimini etc. in squalls and oversized waves. Later that same week a small depression showed up suddenly on the weather charts. Within a few days it was over Suwarrow and they had 40 knot westerly winds in an anchorage exposed to that direction. Sadly, a boat was lost that night when their anchor tackle failed somehow*.

P1030947With this in mind, although we wanted to sail directly from French Polynesia to Niue, we set off from Maupiti with our bow pointed much further north than the direct line, at Suwarrow. Suwarrow was about 5 days sail from Maupiti which is about as long as you can trust a weather window. Further, there was a front passing south of Suwarrow when we left and so sailing north of the rhumb line would both allow us the option of stopping in Suwarrow if the weather went wonky and keep us above the squalls, wind strength and wind directional shifts associated with the front.

As we were closing on Suwarrow, we saw another front passing Niue and knew if we took a direct line we would pass through the front. Having experienced rough weather in an atoll before, we thought we would rather be at sea sailing to Niue than inside an atoll (e.g., Suwarrow) during the front (in hindsight, this particular front missed Suwarrow, staying south and so things were fine there). We sailed directly for Niue, experiencing strong NW winds, a squally night with unsettled wind, 6 hours of being hove to waiting for the front to pass overhead, and then “frisky” SW-then S-then SE winds. All of that was as expected and we flew the last few days into Niue, running fast and wet ahead of a decent swell.

All of this tactical maneuvering took a 1050nm passage**, added a bunch of miles sailed extending the passage to almost 10 days – but we we very happy with our 10 carefully chosen days of within limits sailing,. Another passage with nothing broken on our bodies or our boat – cheers to that!

*So far  this year we know two boats that have lost rudders, one that went aground, one that took shaft damage when a pearl farm line wrapped their prop, and the two boats described above. Oh, and the French Polynesian customs boat which ran aground on an atoll!

**This is our second longest passage sailed with only the Mexico to Marquesas run being longer.