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Anthem Adrift
07/05/2015, Ile Grimault

[s] [c1]p:21 21.05'S:164 59.34'E [c2]pd:000|0.0 [d]2015-07-05 04:35Z [t]Restless [l]Ile Grimault [a] [b] Sunday 5 July 2015

Departed early after an uncomfortable night. Baie Borail is deep, but not so much as to completely dampen 3 meter swell pounding outside the reef. Rigged a bridle between chain and winch that worked well to hold bow into waves until wind died around midnight at which point flopping about from side to side made sleeping considerably trickier. Some of crew can sleep on her back, spread-eagled which helps, but not much. A bowline on a bight utilized to lengthen snubber achieved Gordian aspect from strain and would have required 3 strong men and a backhoe to undo, but we were short a backhoe. Finally got it free after an hour using large screwdriver and suitably intimidating expletives. Alexander the Great cut the original, but he died young and who knows if that wasn't the reason.

Sea today was even higher, but more regular allowing a reasonably tolerable motion. This opinion leaves much of crew unpersuaded. Anchorage, however, has entire complement laughing as winding passage to behind Ile Grimault makes it as calm as a pothead on Valium. Tomorrow's foray into the great ocean will be the last for a few as henceforth we remain inside North Lagoon to Koumac. Sanguineness abounds in contemplation of a smooth and pleasant Monday. This opinion leaves much of crew unpersuaded.


07/04/2015, Baie de Borail

Saturday 4 July 2015

After potluck dinner and goodbyes with friends, they made for Noumea this morning and we sailed toward Koumac in the north. Most of New Caledonia can be circumnavigated inside a protecting lagoon. This isn't that part. Nasty weather in the Solomons and Tasman Sea have made a bit of a lumpy mess along the west coast, so rather than sail overnight in our delicate conditions (don't know why Moctezuma should want revenge way out here) we made a day of it, pulled into Baie de Borail to likely continue tomorrow. The main island is around 220 NM long so you can't go from one end to the other over lunch break.

This week marks the 239th birthday of the United States and about 33 for Canada. They didn't start counting until a constitution was signed, but we got about a decade and a half jump on that by measuring from sending a nasty note to King George telling him where he could stick his empire. We tried to get Canada involved in the subsequent dust-up, but they weren't nearly as miffed with the British as we were. That 15 years of meandering along without a formal organization didn't seem to bother anyone too much and after all, the U.K. still doesn't have a constitution and they seem to get on OK. Happy birthday guys.


Of Mice and Men
07/02/2015, Baie des Moustiques

Thursday 2 July 2015

After weeks of winds 15 to 25 knots we had zip, zero, nada today. Motored entire distance to Mosquito Bay by 1400 at which point the breeze kicked up for a short time to taunt us then again died. Not complaining too much as after 2 days of overcast now have sun and tonight, if conditions hold, a nearly full moon.

Alas however, all news is not good. Low pressure over Solomons has developed into an unseasonal tropical cyclone which is forecast, possibly, to meander into the Coral Sea directly into our projected path. Even more unfortunately, it may just hang up north for several days prior to making a decision. Let this be a lesson. TCs are notoriously unreliable and should never be lent any money.

Meantime will chill here with Kiwis on S/V Loafer (a misnomer ref. speed) until Saturday morning when they make for Noumea and we either commence to cross the big sea or head for Koumac, up-island, to refresh provisions and hide like mice during a cat convention.


Vive la Difference
07/01/2015, Baie Maa

Wednesday 1 July 2015

As is usual in French islands, negotiating departure clearance was quite painless (except for the 2 kilometer walk) and was completed by 0830 with no charge. Why do the French, noted sometimes for intransigence, make this so easy while others (could he be referring to the US?) are such a pain in the keister? Breakfast, retrieval of propane tanks, check out from marina and top up with diesel and gas were all accomplished in time to anchor beside Aussie buddies who brought pastry for a coffee klatch before heading up to Baie Maa for the afternoon and evening. Tomorrow, Baie des Moustiques, an additional 30 NM, to visit a day or so with Kiwi mates before the 1500 and a bit NM passage to Thursday Island with possible intermediate stop at Chesterfield Reef.

Although overcome with remorse for thinking of shirking our altruistic duty to prevent Australia from going the way of Greece, we may nevertheless avoid paying the clearance cost of $474 for the pleasure of going ashore for a day or two to additionally support the economy by spending money. Replete with propane (don't know how it got into the tanks), a good outboard and plenty of fuel & food, anticipated necessity is no longer. Will ask permission to anchor over without going ashore and if not may keep on keeping on to Indonesia. Will offer, in that case, a one finger salute as we go by to show we think they're number 1.


06/30/2015, Noumea

Thursday 25 June 2015

As seems always the case in the course of what should be a leisurely sail around the globe we're behind. No chance to visit Louisiades or Darwin. Will be happy just to arrive in Thursday Island for departure festivities or may go direct Debut. Delay here is caused by awaiting warranteed wind generator controller and search for backup outboard motor. She still runs, but confidence is meager as lower end is leaking water and gets way hot. See, this is what happens when one makes plans. It's just not worth the effort.


Anticipated controller from Pennsylvania to be delivered by FedEx today wasn't. Tracking website indicates it took 3 days to get through Memphis, Honolulu and Mascot to Alexandria, Australia, by last Sunday. It absolutely, positively won't be here now until at least Monday as no one works until then. Preparing for a relaxing 2 days with the occasional minor, although still baffling, attack of energy.


Amazement has engulfed entire crew as numerous projects were completed this weekend. Adding additionally to this journal won't be one of them.


Rented an automobile to facilitate the following: breakfast, discovering that Yamaha outboard dealer closes from 1100 to 1330 each day, discovering that FedEx parcel is in country and may get delivered tomorrow, finding a restaurant an extended distance from marina to be patronized using previously mentioned conveyance, purchasing a shiny, new, Yamaha, 2-cycle, short shaft, 15 HP, outboard engine which cost, after removing duty and tax, less than a similarly sized used one, circa 2008, in America.


New bit arrived, dead one sent off. FedEx managed to extract an additional $25 for indeterminate reasons (apparently not easily translatable into English), but would absolutely positively not deliver without said extortion.. errr fee. Last full flow, hot shower tonight for some considerable time.

Just prior to departure expect to retrieve gas bottles that were unequivocally not refilled with propane because it's not allowed and thus cost an arm and a leg (where did that expression come from?), but worth it as we were nearly out.. although, of course, it was not done. Boat sorted for 30 NM passage to Moustique Bay to meet mates for a day or so after clearing out early manana (this is not a Spanish speaking country so think tot demain).

With the exception of an odd instance or two of wonderfully and typically French rudeness we really enjoyed this country. On next go around wouldn't mind spending more time. This would have nothing to do with the patisseries.. at all.


Wave So Long
06/21/2015, Baie Maa

Saturday 20 June 2015

After breakfast entire crew went over to S/V Loafer for coffee and cookies, staying until well after noon. Tough life. Exchanged books & DVDs and discussed every author, TV show, movie and play since Shakespeare. We may have missed a few and of course gave poetry and opera a complete miss. This afternoon included laundry and burning rubbish on the beach except we never made it to the beach or burned any rubbish. Weather has been beautiful as wind moderated, days are warm and nights are wonderfully cool for sleeping.


Inertia is running amok, if indeed inertia can do that, so we remain planted even though wind has again backed to south putting Noumea upwind. Mornings are usually calm so expect move earlyish tomorrow. Starting to get DTs after absence from grid for 3 days. Who said cruising was getting away? Preparations for potentially lengthy passage have been held in abeyance as well. It's over 1500 NM to Thursday Island, another 700+ to Darwin and 400 from there to Debut or alternatively 500 to Chesterfield, 600 to Louisiades, 600 to Thursday island then 600 into Indonesia, over 2 weeks of travel in next 5.

Despite that day of rest thing, installed shiny new dinghy chaps on the beach (actually installed them on the dinghy as the beach was much too large) while the girls hiked to the crest of steep nearby hill. A sore hoof provided handy excuse to keep me at sea level to be inundated by a rogue 8 inch wave while tying cover bungees at stern. Dink is now protected and need no longer be mortified by running around starkers.


Retaining Parts
06/19/2015, Baie Maa

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Strange as this may seem, all operations today proceeded smoothishly. Into the water before 0900 with all bills paid - about 1.2 boat units. Engine ran fine with no leaks and rudder steadfastly refused to fall off. Even harbor gendarme who chased us off original anchoring position were quite polite en Anglais. Remounted Racors sporting new fittings (they may even work, although not without replumbing hoses to them) and repaired surrounding engine room insulation with metal tape. Flushed cooling system, temporarily topped up after manifold removal dumped most coolant, and refilled with sparkling new ethylene glycol (did you know it's hygroscopic? Tell your friends).

Received email yesterday that Indonesian visa decals were ready, but that Jan had no room in her passport. They take an entire page for a 2 month visit and another must be emplaced halfway through 4 month peregrination. Canada issues passports with 4 pages (give or take a dozen) that cannot be increased and we've been to 347 countries (give or take a few hundred) so Jan desperately needs another. This time she overlay Panama stamp. Next time could obliterate Costa Rica. That's OK. We weren't so keen on either. Anticipate renewal at Canadian Embassy in Singapore.


Enjoyed lovely sail yesterday into Baie Maa, about 10 NM northwest of Noumea, to meet Kiwi buds, Hillary & Glynnis, from Western Pacific Rally of 3 years ago. A grand time was had by all until well past cruiser midnight.

This morning, declaiming a bad hoof, but leaving undivulged a severe case of lackawanna, remained on boat as other 3 trekked up local hill to exercise and view environs. This resulted in opportunity, eschewing any guilt attendant to being lazy, for factory reset of Link 2000 battery/charging/controller/monitor allowing proper history recording and monitoring of new AGMs preceding generator top up. Stretched ambition to limit by concurrently filling tank using watermaker. This was widely regarded by everyone remaining aboard as sufficient gymnastics. Sloth was additionally vindicated when distaff complement returned hot and sweaty, then jumped into bay for cooling and hair wash, nearly freezing off several important and appreciated body parts.

Sojourn in New Caledonia now proceeds toward conclusion as we await shipment of new wind generator diversion controller from America (under warranty, but must ship shorted unit back on own dime). Due Thursday. Expect to have little need henceforth to speak French or either Spanish for some considerable time. Given deficiency in any Asian language, hope English, accompanied no doubt by comical hand gestures, is widely understood.


Feet in the Yard
06/15/2015, Nouville Plaisance, Noumea

Sunday 14 June 2015

All problems have been solved. Well, except for rudder, filters and a few other things hardly worth mentioning. Applied Friday for Indonesian visas and replaced water in outboard lower unit with the more appropriate 80W90 gear oil (that was a nasty little surprise). Ran by market for a eggs and limes, just the necessities due fridge and freezer keel coolers unusable out of water and we'll haul Monday morning for an indefinite period to check and possibly mend rudder. Dinghy chaps are scheduled for delivery to Port Moselle tomorrow, where we may not be if boat remains in yard.

Today is Change-Oil-in-Auxiliary-and-Generator Day which this year coincides with Finally-Mount-Wheels-on-Dinghy Day, the first being a regular observance like Independence Day, but with fewer fireworks. Turns out there were no 8mm nuts to attach wheels, so final bit of that project will await another day.


Splashing tomorrow morning. After a bit of fiberglass and some anti-fouling, rudder is again in Bristol order. Spewing cylinder head cap plug is replaced (was that mentioned?.. sometimes it's difficult to remember all the cool stuff one has the pleasure of fixing). Hoofed over to DHL for chaps when difficulties arose concerning delivery, but now enjoy physical possession. Installation will be consummated (no Cal, it's not naughty) shortly along with dinghy wheels. Due necessity to remove outboard to recheck lower unit for possible replacement of seals, will wait for that - maybe Thursday.

Delighted to see French speakers are just as subject to oxymora (real word) as those of us who prattle in English. Near new favorite breakfast restaurant in all the world in a park by a duck pond who fry eggs perfectly and have internet, pain au chocolat and a really good cafe au lait is the "Compact Megastore". In fairness, it was written just so in English.


06/10/2015, En Route Noumea

Thursday 11 June 2015

Explored remnants of a penal (no Cal, that's a different spelling) colony up a creek in North Bay (within the encompassing Baie de Prony) after a lovely sail from Ile des Pins among and past reefs strewn along the route, all of which we did not hit. Having recently become gun-shy of going up certain creeks, even though we had a paddle, decided to walk in from the beach. As always, enjoyed the forest-reclaimed ruins, but after about 50, one has pretty much seen the lot.

Returned to boat with encouragement from a rain cloud and, at the insistence of crew, eschewed the wagon and broke out gin half an hour early. Hid my disappointment stolidly with characteristic grace - I'm a saint. Pizza and a movie followed shortly as rain discouraged forcing ourselves upon nearby yachts to say hi.

Now en route to Port Moselle for rest & relaxation as well as hustling to get boat fixed and to begin working through getting an Indonesian visa.. isn't that oxymoronic? No sweat, we have a woman onboard ergo multitasking. Rainy morning, continuing as a miserable day so far, precluded recently referred to crew from deck exercises, so brekkie was performed (if, in fact, one may discharge a meal thusly) and off we sailed, hard on a 20 knot breeze down the Baie, then far off it through Canal Woodin. Hard to believe we've been gone from Noumea for 2 weeks, every moment fun-filled except for the rudder thing, the fuel filter thing, the engine leak thing, the poor diving visibility thing, the high wind thing and a few other things hardly worth mentioning.


Undesirable Consequences
06/09/2015, En Route Baie de Prony

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Spent yesterday replacing secondary, engine mounted fuel filter, cleaning the 2 Racors (primary fuel filters and water separators) and disassembling valve used to switch between them to see why it doesn't. Nylon barrel inside the thing is totally and irrevocably buggered. Percentage likelihood of replacement in New Caledonia is expressed by zeros for 13 places after the decimal which is still slightly better than winning the lottery. Possibility of finding elbow fittings to run hoses directly to Racors, making 2nd one potentially useable, a tad higher.

To add some interest to an otherwise boring few days (oh, except for that reef thing) discovered a leak into engine catch pan: oily water. Can't be oil because it's not black. Can't be diesel because it doesn't stink. Can't be raw water because it's not salty - sputter, spit, spit, rinse (ingesting antifreeze, by the way, will kill you). Tracing drip once engine was brought to speed revealed a pinhole leak on engine block in a plug. One more thing to help avoid ennui once back in Noumea. Replacing that should again make all right with the world - well, except for the rudder and fuel filter things.

Wind moderated nicely today, giving us 15 to 20 from behind. Avoiding reefs allows jibing back and forth to pull apparent either side of the transom, but at the moment isn't doing much for roll caused by swell coming in from a deep low in the Tasman Sea. Not to worry as we're making good time and should be serenely anchored by mid-afternoon. May or may not get happy as have decided to join Jan on the wagon 2 or 3 days a week, commiserating with her reference a new health diet. Not sure I want to be all that healthy, however, as too much sympathy, not to mention buzz-free evenings, could have deleterious effects as well.


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S/V Anthem
Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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