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Anthem Adrift
A Tall and Frosty One
08/14/2010, En Route to Palmerston, Day 1

August 13

Despite this being the tropical South Pacific, it is, after all, the austral dead of winter and Avarua is deepest penetration south until departing Tonga for New Zealand. Cold showers that were so delightfully refreshing when temperatures were... well, tropical have, during this cold snap, substantially lost their charm. With no hot water for the jacuzzi, may again resort to two gallon bug sprayer and kettle heated water.

First day out of Rarotonga en route to Palmerston, with predicted easing wind, has provided 20 to 25 knots and highest seas yet at four meters plus with barely enough frequency to avoid ugly. It's not really, really uncomfortable (a condition that may be corrected for awhile as stabilizing force 6 decreases ahead of destabilizing waves), but with double reefed main and staysail placing center of effort relatively low, a difference in wind force can be detected between troughs and peaks.

Sorry about not keeping up with photos. Primary causes can be distilled down to: cheap and lazy. (Being cuddly and lovable, while undoubtedly positive attributes, have not proven to be of significant help) First, free wifi has been non-existent and paid service is dear. The second reason, of course, requires no elucidation.

Jack

Chillin' Yer Bones
08/13/2010, Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga

Rarotonga Surf

August 12

Prep for departure and slammed social calendar (not even mentioning the ever- present indolence) has played havoc with sluicing out this tripe, so expect a prosaic version today.

Ran around doing stuff, important stuff, like locating a cone of hand-dipped ice cream, buying a bottle of dark Jamaican rum and schmoozing with friends and Cook Islands Coast Guard. There were also a few items that may have had something to do with not starving or bobbing around mid-ocean for extended periods or getting arrested by one or another country. Prefer not to be bothered and have forgotten tedious details.

Sky has cleared and wind eased on backside of passing weather system, but temperature is still nearly arctic, having gone well below the tropical acclimation freezing point of 75f (24c). Expect to swaddle delicate, pinkish-tan epidermis in wool blankee following usual evening hygienics.

Departure tomorrow, to be delayed by promised report to Polynesian Breakfast SSB Net at 0730 - or was it the Penguin Net at 0900? - on conditions in Rarotonga will leave little leeway with light winds for arriving Palmerston on Sunday, but sailing superstition double whammy of beginning a voyage on Friday the thirteenth is way too cool to resist.

Jack

Break Out the Mukluks
08/12/2010, Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga

Waterfall

August 11

The more fastidious of you will be pleased to know that a laundry picks up at the dock every morning, so skivvies, sheets and a significant amount of salt soaked apparel will be sparkly by tomorrow morning. No help, regrettably, for cockpit cushions or quarter berth until, possibly, New Zealand.

After taking bus a quarter way around the island which is 32 klicks in toto, five of us discovered that a few stops, at four dollars a pop each (no transfers), made renting a van more fiscally responsible and proceeded to do so. Resultant flexibility allowed finding a waterfall, winery (no grapes, so they make banana soursop... uh huh) and another (yes, there are two) brewery with free samples. Dinner at unwalkable BYOB restaurant tonight brought it all together serendipitously.

Backing wind has again given harbor more motion than some passages, so, despite forecast minimal breeze from astern, want to depart Friday for Palmerston. May fill propane, spring for NZ $2.45/liter diesel to top off and just go. Early departure may also save the inevitable untoward incident while scaling truck tire fenders to the quai from a surging dinghy.

- Later

Wind at 20 gusting 30 backed 180 degrees to the south during dinner. Climb down seawall to dinghy in rain with temps in 60s was a joy and felt more like Chicago than South Pacific. This is just wrong.

Jack

Rewarding Respite
08/11/2010, Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga

Matutu Brewery

August 10

This for Cal, who gets anxious unless things here are going wrong and broken stuff needs fixing (we're very good, longtime friends?), managed to get the Honda running again after threats, entreaties and pitiful whining initially proved inefficacious following salt water deluge on passage. Economy setting, slowing engine when load decreases, has yet to sign on, but at least batteries can be kept happy.

After a slow start, dragged bedraggled carcass on walkabout to find breakfast and a wifi card. Discovered that Cookers, Cookees, Cookanese, Cookeranians, Cook Islanders.. ah.. have their own excellent coffee, love brekkie (country has a close relationship with New Zealand) and charge for internet by the gigabyte. Also found a map, bus schedule, crunchy peanut butter, non-French dark rum and the Matutu brewery which gives free samples (their blond is fab) and sells it from a tap in two liter plastic bottles, cheap. Have not perceived urgent need for imminent departure.

"I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." - Mae West

Jack

Bonding With Bedding
08/10/2010, Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga

Arrival Rarotonga

August 9

Wind backed me about 16 NM to the east of Avatiu Harbor, Rarotonga, so jibed onto starboard tack for last three and a half hours. Entered harbor just behind Inspiration Lady who thusly buys the ice cream. Waited 45 minutes for them to get secure and here's why. Trick is to drop anchor with just the right amount of scope, then back between boats into six foot south wall with 18 knot east wind and worse surge than San Salvador. After delay, came in to last available slot in Ohmygodyoudidntgothere corner surprisingly well with help from on shore line grabber, but then discovered why it was free. Inobvious level of water movement ricocheted around making boat motion look like hurricane Jacuzzi. After four hours of doubled dock line abuse a cat left and, with minimum sturm und drang, moved over. Motion is now generally violent in only one plane instead of all three. Access to land is an adventure in dinking.

Today's events emphasized two things: 1) it's too strenuous and expense (don't recall mentioning this point) to stay for only two days and 2) heightened need and short supply of rum has created excessive levels of angst. Near panic held in check by reported existence of tolerably affordable restockage from local purveyors.

Computer screen has unaccountably become rather fuzzy, so should let it recover and finish last of elusive number of rum drinks that were poured atop an indeterminate amount of local and Panamanian beer consumed during cruiser get- together at picnic tables on quai. Planned dinner ashore was unanimously scrubbed for lack of interest and, at least in this case, an earlier inception of extended and uninterrupted unconsciousness on an apparatus specifically designed (and lain fallow, lo these several days) for that very purpose.

G'night all.

Jack

Queer Query
08/08/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 4

???

August 8

Rarotonga officials reportedly confiscate fresh produce so tossed everything that could be identified as such and appeared remotely edible into a pot with a little coconut milk and green Thai curry, cooked two cups of rice and made a humongous salad for dinner. Hope they don't question a frig full of leftovers.

Last 40 hours has been a romp. Hope to arrive tomorrow just as harbormaster and customs wake up if wind holds, but it's tended lower and backed to a broader reach, so may be a touch later. Hard to believe this is the longest passage until departing Minerva Reef for New Zealand early November. With a stop at Beverage Reef en route to Niue, max nights out will be two. It will be like sailing from St. Pete to Key West, but without the really strange people.

Speaking of which, show of hands one more time, who thinks I'm hiding out in the Florida Keys, making all this crap up facilitated by substantial infusions of rum, weed, but only an occasional hit of acid? Uh huh. Uh huh. OK, put'em down. Who thinks I'm actually sailing around on my own boat in the South Pacific? Uh huhhhh. Wow!

In tonight's philosophy segment, a question that has stumped great thinkers since Aristotle. Take a minute. "What if this weren't a hypothetical question?" - Unknown

Jack

Dancing on the Wagon
08/08/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 3

Maupiti

August 7

Weather guesser seems to have been a day late and a Beaufort short on forecast as wind began filling in at O dark hundred and just kept building early morning along with sea. Previous zephyr became 20 to 25 gusting over 30 all day in 3 meter sea with prospect of continuing until arrival. Boat, reaching at hull speed with double reefed main and staysail, isn't exactly dancing like a meth- doped Lippizaner, but big rollers periodically submerge lee deck.

"Weebuls wobble but we don't fall down."

Ride has been relatively dry except for that one pesky wave right at the beginning that filled the cockpit and poured Pacific Ocean onto me, quarter berth, cruising guides and computer. Immediately undertaken preventative and remedial measures have, so far, yielded acceptable results.

Research shows that one or two adult beverages a day is good for you. Well then, since previous four days were dry, celebration on night of arrival Rarotonga should accommodate five to ten so health on passage will have been retroactively maintained. Hmmmm, wonder if I can pick up that day last week and, maybe, when sick in Daniel's Bay and wasn't there a day a couple months ago....

Jack

Fare Thee Well, but Fair... Well?
08/07/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 2

Biking Maupiti

August 6

Snuffed the drifter at 0400 as breeze began to freshen under overcast with distant flashes of lightning. When wind died at 0530 in torrential rain and engine did too right after starting and didn't immediately restart, boat was actually going backward in half knot eastward current. After checking various potential culprits and noise of rain decreased, restarted initially stumbling Westerbeke which then ran OK. Suspect coking from running too lightly. This was sum of excitement for a day which was primarily spent reading back issues of Latitudes and Attitudes magazine and napping with periods of sailing at from .5 to 2.5 knots without disagreeable clatter. Torpid brain has congealed into Crisco.

Due departing French Polynesia, will soon haul down $3 blue, white and red courtesy flag-on-a-stick and begin flying equally chintzy one for Cook Islands. Having lasted through St. Martin, Guadaloupe, Martinique and FP, it should be forgiven for having tattered away all red. It now represents either a backward "H" or international distress signal, "I've fallen and can't get up".

Polynesia was such a delight, fear that future stops will be disappointing, but am told it gets even better. Like many Kiwis, Aussies, Brits and some Canadians, who are often intelligible, with effort, to people in the U.S., islanders now will be using, as their second rather than third language, English. By the way, it seems wrong that England should name a lingo that they can't even speak without an accent. Of course, I don't suppose many Americans are embarrassed about having hogged the word that describes an entire hemisphere. Life just isn't fair.

Jack

All Kinds of Fun
08/06/2010, En Route to Rarotonga - Day 1

Calm at Maupiti Pass

August 5

Couldn't ask for a more perfect day of sailing... well, except that the wind was too light and too far aft and seas weren't as smooth as they could have been and... but all things considered it was wonderful. Although based on predictions from weather weasels, anticipate veering and freshening breeze by tomorrow which will, as hope runs amok, allow landfall in Rarotonga on or about (meaning sometime later) Monday morning.

No matter how recent a last overnight, at sunset after the first day of a passage, there is a feeling of anticipation. Many dislike sailing in the dark, but there's something really magical that just isn't present in daylight. Whether the moon gives your seascape a silvery glow or visible stars create what appear to be millions of pin pricks in the heavens and an iridescent milky way stretches from horizon to horizon or, on a cloudy night, the world is completely impenetrable blackness, restricted vision pulls the universe into a small space and paradoxically accentuates its vastness. It could make a person philosophical. I normally just get sleepy, but it takes all kinds.

"When I works, I works hard; when I plays, I plays rough; and when I thinks, I falls asleep." - Anonymous

Jack

Where? When?
08/05/2010, Maupiti, Leeward Society Islands

Turtle Lookin' Thing

August 4

Bike tour of island did nothing to dispel favorable first impression. Passed another marae without stopping (seen one...) and peddled/walked up a small valley searching for petroglyphs. After wandering up and down for awhile, finally discovered what fellow bikers had begun referring to (because of sign art back at the road) as 'turtle lookin' things'. This was slightly unfair as there was also a crab lookin' thing.

A moment of epiphany and subsequent cipherin' (required ability to count four) revealed reality that, belying yesterday's comment, there was only one more day here, today, which is, as this is being written, rapidly expiring. Oopsie. Complete blame for snafu should fall upon chart table calendar picked up in Panama as Spanish is not best language (still looking for that). Now in contemplative process for departure in AM. As accompanying boat, Inspiration Lady, is not keen on Maupihaa layover and my own enthusiasm has trickled away, will probably press on to Rarotonga to arrive Monday (he said confidently despite preceding boats going over plan in light winds).

At least, after whirlwind of activity (following music and program swap with Bill & Kathy from Jarana ('H' sound)), boat is more or less, maybe, probably, ready and important projects, whatever they were, planned for this stop have most likely been completed. As can be seen from previous sentence, napping in the afternoon leaves me groggy and befuddled as opposed to normal state of alert befuddlement (not an oxymoron for some).

Jack

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