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Anthem Adrift
08/20/2010, En Route to Beveridge Reef, Day 2

August 19

Hate to wax rhapsodic (pretty sure that means something), but last night was the most beautiful sailing in a year, just enough sea to make the boat rock gently, little heel with double reefed main and drifter off the wind making 5.5 to 6.5 knots in 10 to 13 apparent. Plus the boat was almost going in the right direction.

Alas, that circumstance is, as of mid-afternoon and after actually going in the right direction for most of the day, at an end. Wind backed to the northwest, not a bad thing, then kept going until it was right on the bow. Sea remains at an easy meter. Dreaded sounds of a diesel powered mechanism permeate the universe. Have convinced gullible crew that anti-clockwise movement of strengthening breeze will soon allow peace and tranquility to again reign.

Enervating gentle motion of sailboat through calm sea created a vegetative state today that preempted any thoughts toward writing this mouse doodle. Would have stared at navel, but too debilitated to remove T-shirt. Snarkiness, earnestly promised yesterday, will await another day.


Adrip in Mellow
08/19/2010, En Route to Beveridge Reef, Day 1

Filleting Fish

August 18

Left V-berth hatch open yesterday morning when disembarking to slay fish. It did not rain all day, but (and this is my favorite part) at bedtime, discovered that wet bedding could have been avoided by closing the hole after return to boat for the evening when a shower came through. Usually one can count on crew to catch these little snafus, but mine is typically lazy and inattentive. Slept on settee while fan blew overnight on damp mattress.

Edward came late with chain, rope and floats to reset his mooring, so finally got working around 0930. Wound chain under three big chunks of coral assuring that a fair bit of bottom would lift up this time before a boat could run for freedom. All these things are set within meters of a sharp ledge that drops straight off to forever. Almost spooky, but this depth has allowed humpback whales to come very close. Way cool. Finished checking seven others sucking fumes allowing borrowed tank to go unused. Finally cast off at 1300 after two of the family leaders came by returning borrowed DVDs to say goodbye. Unique and interesting place.

With delay, it will be iffy to arrive Beveridge Reef with sun. Won't try entering in darkness and reluctant to heave to overnight, so may continue on to Niue. Meanwhile sailing is ideal with gentle sea, balmy breeze and good angle on a north wind that is unlikely to last. Hard to complain.


PS If this leaves your, as it does my, snarkiness expectations unmet, will endeavor to atone tomorrow.

Slayer of Ferocious Sea Kittens
08/17/2010, Palmerston Island

Parrot Fish

August 17

Contrary to expectations fishing took all day, two hours to catch and most of the afternoon to filet and wrap, so re-mooring ops will occur bright and early tomorrow before departure, tentatively, toward Beveridge Reef.

Although the behavior has never been observed in deeper water, parrot fish school on the reef flats as tide begins to ebb or flow. After a sighting, net streams from small boat as it is pulled in a semi-circle, then two or three people (Bert and I) run like deer (old, lame deer) and flail about pulverizing the water with sticks to chase quick, but dimwitted fish into it. Hapless captees (incorrect, but more evocative than 'captives') are strung on lines dragged through the water until next roundup. As exsanguination is prominent, aforementioned activity may be referred to as chumming for sharks. This is a useful occupation for children and why so many are necessary. Not for want of trying by amateur participants, there were no bites, broken ankles or infelicitous encounters with jagged coral or spiky sea creatures.

After slow, ham-fisted and wasteful attempts at filleting were cringingly tolerated for a short time, the erstwhile herders of fish were ignominiously relegated to observation. We rinsed our salt drenched exteriors and went walkabout until time for belated lunch.

A supply ship, first in six months, is scheduled (that word is rather nebulously interpreted) for next week, so pursuit is in full swing to top off over 8000 kilos of freezer space. This volume, sold at around $15 NZ per kilo every three months (usually), probably explains all the boats, motors, satellite dishes, DVDs, ATVs, etc. that abound. Plus they live in paradise.


Errata: "Boree" inhabitants are Bert and Ingi. Palmerston population is currently 67 including 27 moppets. As Ingi recently observed, the condition of being male and a fisherman, makes me a cheat and a liar, but as I love each and every one of you like a brother or a sister, you may trust everything here written as gospel.

Sui Generis
08/17/2010, Palmerston Island

Marsters Grave and Host Edward

August 16

After a few check-in formalities were attended on Anthem, Edward took the German couple from Boree, Burt & Ingee, and me to shore at high speed through a channel in the reef not much wider than the lower drive of his outboard. How this is done at night is a wondrous mystery.

Must say that yesterday's drivel was a tad harsh and I apologize. We met many of the inhabitants from all three families and they are warm, charming people. All the cruisers (six boats) had lunch with their respective host (and nibbles from the others), toured the well-maintained island including a school that operates for the 29 children (about half the population) on a home schooling model, and visited until after 1700. Very enjoyable day in a unique place.

Also, the moorings are set and maintained by cruisers as no one on the island dives. Speaking of which, in the morning after helping Simon, Edward's brother, fish (the primary source of income here), will attempt to reset one. All resultant lawsuit plaintiffs may contact my attorney, Hughie Louie Dewey, at Dewey, Cheetham and Howe. (stolen from Garrison Keelor)

One may have noticed reference to seas of four meters (that's 13 feet for the metricly challenged). In the shallow waters of Florida Bay this would allow the incautious sailor to see the face of God, but in the deeper Pacific, it brings forth the visage of, at best, a Clarence level pre-angel. The fun really commences with swells from one direction and 25 to 30 knot wind driven waves from another allowing one to glimpse cherubim and the odd seraphim in what appears, in the sleep deprived state that inevitably occurs after a few days, to be Cheops sized pyramids of water. All great fun and easily avoided by sitting under a tree.


Living on the Edge
08/16/2010, Palmerston Island

Anthem at Palmerston

August 15

With wind straying 30 degrees either side of stern, track to Palmerston was somewhat serpentine. Last 25 NM, however, was direct, wing and wing, with double reefed main and drifter, loose sheeted after breaking whisker pole mast-end fitting. It is now ballast and a hazard to navigation on side deck until at least Niue.

This island, a motu on the west side of an atoll, was settled by Englishman William Marsters and his three Maori wives, a freelance arrangement unrelated to the LDS. They had 17 little Marsters who subsequently had 54 more. Guessing they didn't have much else to do. It's a small bit of land, but fortunately most relatives live elsewhere. Everyone on the island, currently totalling 64, is a direct descendent named... right, divided into three family groups. Willy apparently instituted a rigorous intermarrying protocol to reduce the prospect of any pesky extra heads or undue drooling, what have you. They are reportedly very friendly. Will find out tomorrow, Monday, as Sunday is strictly a day off.

There are nine moorings just off the reef here. Well, OK, only seven now because two recently broke. Seems they are anchored by chain wrapped around coral and the Marsters don't maintain them. Uh huh. As there is reef just ahead and to starboard not to mention a very large expanse of water behind and to port (as long as the wind blows that way) Edward, my host along with his family while on the island who neglects to maintain the one Anthem is on and two others, suggested that I drop an anchor before going ashore tomorrow just in case. Depth is 20 just ahead of the bow, sounder reads 200 feet and measurement is in miles just behind the transom. Apparently he will carry it out to drop amongst the shallow coral. Yeh, OK.


Worse Than Poi
08/15/2010, En Route to Palmerston, Day 2

August 14

Palmerston is generally downwind from Rarotonga creating a problem. Wind is too strong to use drifter, not strong enough for any speed with yankee and it's too rough to fly wing and wing (any other configuration causes aft sails to shadow ones forward and anyway, most boats don't go dead downwind very efficiently), which means tacking. A set heading or course will cause sails to luff or stall as wind direction varies. However, autopilot has a cool feature that allows tracking the wind, so sails can be set for best angle on favored tack (the one that points closest to destination) to maximize velocity made good. Works for beating upwind, too. However (you knew there would be one, right?), Raymarine in its unbounded wisdom created a shifting wind alert that, under most circumstances, causes said warning to sound every several minutes, often for no apparent reason (perhaps because as mast rocks back and forth, wind vane does too). Shutting it off requires mashing (Southern for 'pressing') buttons on opposite sides of the instrument at precisely the same time or George (all autopilots were once referred to thusly) goes to standby and boat meanders off unsupervised creating all sorts of mayhem. There is no way to adjust parameters, mute the sound or just shut the alarm off entirely. Responsible party should be flogged, forced to eat lutefisk or locked in a room with this noise for a month. There. I feel better, do you?

If wind shows some inclination to be helpful, should arrive Palmerston tomorrow afternoon otherwise may try arrival after dark or heave to (not related to hurling) until Monday.


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