2011 Southbound from BC/WA Cohort…2 years later

GOPR3661 (Updated Aug 6, 2013)

In 2011, the year that we sailed from Tofino to San Francisco, I gathered a list of boats that were heading South from BC or WA and who were blogging about their passages. I published that list with a direct link to the departure posts from each of their blogs here.

A reader recently asked if I had a list of 2013 Southbound boats which I do not – does anyone here? That request plus seeing our departure anniversary on our calendar made me wonder what other boats were doing 2 years after leaving BC/WA.

2 years seems like a reasonable first follow-up because after 2 years one could imagine that a fair number of people would have finished their cruise. In some cases people stopped blogging so I’ve listed the last available public info. You may know private info about the boat but if so, please email me privately. I prefer not to list anything non-blogged about here. Here is what I could find publicly online:
  • Adesso - In Mexico?
  • Artemis - unknown.
  • Bella Star - cruising through the South Pacific (jumped 2013).
  • Deep Playa – finished cruise, sold boat, living in Hawaii.
  • Eagle - cruising in Mexico.
  • Estrellita - cruising in French Polynesia (jumped 2012).
  • Iridium - cruising in Mexico.
  • Last Mango – finished cruise, sold boat.
  • Luckness - returned to Pacific Northwest.
  • Madrone - returned to Pacific Northwest.
  • Miramar  - cruising in Mexico.
  • Nautimoments - returned to Pacific Northwest.
  • Navigo - returned to Pacific Northwest. 
  • Nyon - cruising through the South Pacific (jumped 2013).
  • Pearl - returned to Pacific Northwest?
  • Shannon – sold boat, planning to upsize and return to Mexico 2013/14.
  • Silhouette - on passage from NZ back to the South Pacific.
  • Sockdolager - sailed to NZ 2012 and shipped boat back to N America.
  • Wondertime - living in New Zealand.

Logbook: Passages to and from Tahiti


 Estrellita on Passage from Tahiti to Tikehau

It was exciting to go on passage again when we left the Tuamotus for Tahiti. With our flight back to N America and time on the hard we hadn’t been to sea for 8 months. Technically that is a lie because any transit between atolls in the Tuamotus is open ocean sailing, but leaving the Tuamotus for the Societies felt like a “real” passage. It was a fast, wet, fun ride with 20-25 knots of SE wind increasing to 30 and seas rising to the 3m range. Estrellita flew under reefed down sails and our windvane took over the steering while we held on for the ride.

Our passage from Tahiti to Tikehau was another wild ride with light winds to start and then steadily increasing wind and seas to the same conditions as our passage to Tahiti. There have been a series of fronts coming through (it is mara’amu season) and after waiting until we were no longer patient, we squeaked in a passage between fronts.

GOPR3374Passages are like good drama. In our drama, Estrellita is the heroine. The wind and waves are sometimes the supporting cast and sometimes the villians-to-be-cursed. Carol and I are usually the comic sidekicks. Like a drama, on our passages there will be a point when we want to laugh, and a point where we want to cry. There will be a moment when everything seems to go wrong and the successful resolution of the problem binds our main characters together further.

On our passage to Tikehau we tried out the new-to-us used tow generator that we had purchased at a swap meet. It was amazing. In the ballpark of 5 amps at 12V incoming day and night. Then, one hour before we made landfall we noticed no amps and…our prop had broken off. Apparently someone brilliant decided to make part of the connection out of plastic. The good news is we can make another. The bad news is we just left the neck of the woods where we could have bought parts. It’s a good thing we have friends in Tahiti kind enough to ship things to us in the Tuamotus.

Point Venus, Tahiti



We were trying to figure out why we like Point Venus so much on Tahiti. It isn’t convenient to anything except the prime kiting spot. The grocery is a fair walk. We like being a bit out of the hustle and bustle of Papeete while still having the option to go back “into town” as needed. We rarely share this anchorage with more than a boat or two. The Point is a park and is full of people enjoying their weekend, swimming, paddling and surfing and the sound of kids screaming in the waves is just far enough away to add to the ambiance rather than detract from it. We are able to use our inflatable paddle board to get to the beach and the water is clear although with the black sand you can only tell how clear when the water is flat.

The black sand beach is alternately mesmerizingly beautiful and muddy looking depending on which section and which tide you see.


The views of the island of Tahiti are great and while the view of Moorea isn’t as good here as it was in Marina Taina, we get to watch the sunsets without jet skis. Although we had spent two weeks in Marina Taina, enjoying the bars, the land access, the showers, doing errands and buying things, and were really itching to get back to the Tuamotus, we passed over a decent (but not fantastic) weather window to sail back in order to spend a week kiting at Point Venus.

From a safety/local perspective, this is a much nicer place than Marina Taina to tuck into if the forecast calls for any of the strong SW’erly swells that can come through Tahiti at this time of year.

Feeding the Dream (2013)

For those of you dreaming of the tropics, either as a future plan or just as something fun to read about from your cubicle/office, here is a list of boats currently heading West in the South Pacific, each of whom we met (or re-met) while they were in traveling through French Polynesia. Check them out, follow them as they head west and drop them a comment if you enjoy the read!
For an older list, check this post

The Banana Downhaul


P1000831Is this a downhaul or a foreguy or some other sailing term I don’t know?

It doesn’t take you long after you arrive in the S Pacific to figure out that your stalks of bananas need to be well strapped down. It only takes one rolly anchorage or sail to realize that your bananas will bash themselves to pulp on your lifelines without a banana downhaul.

Depending on your point of sail and sea state you may also have to adjust your downhaul to prevent accidental cockpit smoothies.

These are the kind of high class problems we have to deal with while cruising.

Estrellita Gets a New Car


We recently made a financial investment in our fun factor.


After 6 years with our beloved Achilles, Momentum (All Thrust, No Vector), and our 3.5 HP 4-stroke engine, we decided that Estrellita 5.10b was getting a new car. In fact, we were so keen on getting a new car and new-to-us used dive gear (more on that later) that we reserved the dinghy in Tahiti and sailed from the Tuamotus to pick up the gear, stow/install/test it, buy provisions and then return to the Tuamotus.

Of course, like all boat projects, it wasn’t that simple. The reserved 8’ dinghy was sold to someone else on accident, a new larger dinghy was offered to us at the same cost, the first dinghy was damaged on arrival and immediately replaced, the new larger dinghy needed a larger motor than we intended and ultimately we ended up with a 9 foot dinghy and a 15 HP 2-stroke Mercury. In short, it was a total gong show.

Yeegads, switching from 8 feet with P1000948an inflatable floor and 3.5 raging horses to a 9 foot with a fiberglass floor and 15 horses…we have seriously upgraded. I think that driving the new dinghy is going to be more dangerous for me than crossing oceans. It is FAST.

Strangely enough, between various discounts, the dinghy and engine were approximately the same cost as we would have paid in North America.

Why did we want a new dinghy and outboard? We have been quite happy with our little putt-putt dinghy/engine, particularly in BC, CA and Mexico. However, over the years we came to find that (*for us*):

  • Our wee engine was not as reliable which meant we were more nervous about long dinghy rides to snorkel reefs in the middle of the lagoon or to snorkel passes in atolls.
  • Our wee engine and inflatable floor did not plane and so long dinghy rides to snorkel reefs were more painful.
  • Being close to the water in a shallow dinghy meant consistently wet dinghy rides…almost always, no matter the conditions. We joked about the soaking and dealt with splashing then but now that we are mostly dry on arrival we are really, really happy we made the change and wish we had made it sooner.
  • We put holes in the inflatable floor. Over, and over, and over. We just aren’t very careful people really. The patches became so numerous that the inflatable floor stopped holding air for long periods of time. We had to pump the floor every day. If we hadn’t replaced the dinghy we would have needed to replace the floor.

With the new dinghy and outboard the two of us can plane with our new-to-us dive gear, get our kiting gear to the kiting spot, move large loads of water or groceries or diesel and we can zip over to happy hour quickly and stay dry. Importantly for me, we can also more safely enjoy passes and reefs in the lagoon.

Gear review: In general we are extremely impressed with the durability our old fairly basic Achilles. The pontoons were still like new after 6 years, the last several in the tropics. The webbing rotted off the pontoons but the hypalon was an excellent investment. We definitely went hypalon again. Although we had eventual problems with the inflatable floor they were expected problems with choosing that material. We can store our current fiberglass floor/inflatable pontoon dinghy behind the mast and ahead of the dodger on passage which means we keep a clean foredeck in the ocean. Our 3.5 Nissan outboard was about as reliable as you expect a small outboard to be – meaning it was a constant source of minor pains in the arse. We have been told (and hope) that the larger engines are more reliable and are thus only an occasional source of pains in the arse. We’ll see…

Our old dinghy Momentum on the front of her new home, a sistership, Nauticam – a Wauquiez Gladiateur 33.


Stormy Tahiti



It isn’t uncommon for storms to whip through the islands of French Polynesia and when they do so in crowded mooring fields and anchorages, things get a bit intense. Marina Taina in Papeete is one such place – protected in most conditions…except when it is not.

In what was our third visit to Tahiti we went to Marina Taina for the first time and took a mooring while we sorted out our new dinghy, new-to-us dive gear and refilling the boat with food after we purposefully ate it ‘dry’ before hauling out last year.

P1000958 The storm was forecast to pass South of Tahiti and while the crew from three boats were in downtown by car we started receiving stressed out text messages and phone calls. We hurried back, jumped in our dinghies and tried not to get rolled by the waves as we ran downwind from the dock to our pitching boats. All of our boats were fine and after we added an extra line to our mooring and secured our own vessel, we engaged what always becomes a community effort in a storm: saving each others asses (and stuff). Our friends rescued a dinghy. Carol and another guy wrestled down a sail on an unattended boat that was half unfurled, shredded, and trying to take down the boats rig. We answered phone calls from friends at jobs who couldn’t come back to their boats and kept an eye on their homes for them.

At the peak the winds were in the 45-50 knot range. Boats at sea experienced gusts to 60 knots. The peak of the storm was only a few hours and mostly we saw 30-35 knots on our mooring. Other than the hairy dinghy ride we were mostly watching in case other boats broke lines and came at us.

Estrellita is just fine of course as are her crew.

Motor Sailing: A Proposed Lexicon


Cruising Dear Fellow Cruisers,

The term “motor sailing” is used in the cruising community for a variety of different activities. The term is confusing because the root word is sailing which implies that sailing is the primary activity and motoring is the secondary activity.

I propose (only partly tongue in cheek) the following new terminology:

Motor sailing: The primary propulsion of the boat comes from the sails. The motor adds either speed or a better angle to destination. If the motor were turned off the boat would still be sailing.

Sail motoring: The primary propulsion of the boat comes from the motor. The sails add speed. If the sails were dropped the boat would slow down.

Sail stabilized motoring: The primary propulsion of the boat comes from the motor. The sails stabilize the roll of the boat. If the sails were dropped the boat would not slow down substantially.

Motoring: If you are motoring with your main up in no wind and flat water…you are just motoring. You are not motor sailing or sail motoring or sail stabilized motoring. It’s OK. We all do it ;)

Sincerely, People Who Do All of the Above

No Rest for the Wicked



P1000893 Tis the season in which the hundreds of vessels who are transiting from Mexico and Panama to New Zealand and Australia are currently in French Polynesia en masse.

We are taking full advantage of our time with old friends and new friends and our social calendar is at an all time high. I keep thinking we’ll get a chance to rest “when boat X leaves” but then we happily get a chance to see them again, or meet up with someone new, and away we go, back into full calendar mode. I love it and I will thoroughly miss speaking English when everyone leaves and it is just us and the Frenchies again.

P1000890It has been interesting to see the Pacific Puddle Jump from two perspectives. Last year we were part of the crowd and were struggling with where to end up for hurricane season, how to deal with so little time in new places and still keep our boat together. This year we are more settled and relaxed because we have so much time to see what we want to see. We see our friends dealing with the same struggles and we see them heading off to exciting places that we haven’t been to, and which we will set sail for next year.

Estrellita Does Circus Tricks


Perhaps I should say “Estrellita attempts circus tricks”. We have been having a lot of fun with our aerial silk set up. We have hoisted it 3 times and have practiced some basic climbing techniques, basic descending, some rest positions and some foot locks. Caveat: We are learning from sketchy instructions found online and relying on our own knowledge of climbing and sailing rigging to keep our set up safe enough for our personal comfort level.

We know very few moves, perform them poorly, and are enjoying the hell out of ourselves. It is an intense workout and it doesn’t take long before we are shaking with exhaustion. It is a great feeling and one we don’t get often enough in cruising. The only bummer is that you really need less than 7 knots of wind and so we can’t do it as often as we would like. I wonder if we should have purchased a corde lisse (the rope they climb in the circus). Maybe someday…

We had friends and fellow climbers from SV Cariba come over for some play time and Gabriel showed us what prior gymnastic training can add to our repertoire.
We rig by putting our boom out to starboard, setting the silks up on the main halyard behind the mast, and rigging a second line to a winch and cleat in the cockpit to pull the rig aft of the mast so we aren’t banging into it. In this picture the green line is our main halyard and the white and blue line is the one going back to the winch.

The top piece of hardware is an appropriately rated climbing swivel, connected to a figure 8 with tails by a locking carabiner.

The wrapping of the silks on the figure 8 can be found online in a few places.


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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