s/v Barefoot
Lavranos 43
 
Watching Wicked Weather
David
03/31/2013, Breaksea Sound, Fiordland, NZ

Sailing in Fiordland is mostly motoring, not sailing, through narrow, deep (500 to 1000 ft.) glacially cut, water filled valleys. Shifting from one fiord to the next, e.g., Milford to Doubtless or Doubtless to Dusky, requires a relatively short (20 to 25 mile) passage in the open ocean. It is good to wait, watch, and select a weather window for the those passages because nasty fronts come up from the Southern Ocean every few days. We just made the 22 mile passage from Doubtless Sound to Breaksea Sound in a barely acceptable window. The wind was northerly which is good because it was behind us as we headed south. A small front the prior day left a 3 to 4 meter swell from the north so it was lumpy. The wind forecast was for 20 knots but the actual wind was 30 to 40 knots. We carried only a double reefed mainsail and sailed at 10.5 knots (over the ground) for the short 22 miles. The shallow areas at the entrance to the sounds are rough as the sea builds a bit. Now we're in Breaksea Sound. We catch dinner each day and tonight is delicious blue cod.

Dropping the Bar
David
03/29/2013, Georges Sound, NZ

We are tied to a large orange fishermen's mooring buoy (in Blanket Bay, Doubtful Sound, Fiordland, NZ) using its 6" hawser. Fortunately Barefoot has 12" aluminum cleats welded to her decks; the fit is perfect. As the boat spins in the windy vortex of this tiny bay we sequentially experience a charming sun-break, a view of the 200 foot water fall 50 meters from us, a calm wind, a gust registering 40 knots., a brief torrential downpour of rain, and an enveloping cloud bank, then back to the sun-break. Listening from the cockpit hatch it is difficult to distinguish the sound of the waterfall from the sound of the torrential downpour. A "weather window" occurs tomorrow--20 to 25 knots of NE wind to shove us south to Dusky Sound. Today is a gale so we are on the mooring buoy. A record was set today on Barefoot-the electronic barometer (a nifty device that always shows a different reading from the analog one) does a "three beep" when the baro drops 3 or more millibars in a 3 hour period. The "three beep" signals a gale is imminent. Since early this morning the gale signal has sounded 4 times and the barometer has taken a Kiwi bungee jump. So, does that mean it has become windy here? You bet; but, tomorrow will be OK. Does any of this explain why Barefoot is the only sailboat in Fiordland?

The Pulse Finders
David
03/25/2013, Georges Sound, NZ

Today we're anchored and tied with shore lines, bow and stern, in a notch known as the Alice Falls Anchorage. Lake Alice above drains into this notch in Georges Sound, about 40 miles south of Milford Sound. Torrential rain for 36 hours has changed Alice Falls from a bubbling stream to a roaring torrent and created multiple new water falls in our notch. We are not alone here. Zillions of sand flies inhabit our notch. It is good that they are slow and easy to kill, but bad that they are unceasingly present; in fact, present in such numbers that we use a vacuum cleaner to remove the corpses from the companionway steps. Sand flies suck blood like an old Chevy sucks gas. Unprotected skin--often wrist, ankle, and neck-is the target of the pulse finder sand fly We never step outside the black tutu-material screen barrier enclosing the cockpit without first donning a costume that would have old ladies slamming and locking their doors and children screaming for Mom. We wear a screen mesh over the hat and head and long sleeve shirts and gloves and long pants tied at the cuff. Nevertheless they seem to find the pulse and we nourish them. The aftermath of the bite--about 24 hours after--is a red, extremely itchy welt. My wrists and ankles are textbook photos proving the voracious appetite of the pulse finders. Now for today's tech tip-actually more a matter of common sense which I clearly lacked on this occasion. When wearing a mesh screen covering your hat and head, don't spit.

03/31/2013 | Kirsten
Bow and stern lines...sounds like good practice for Chile! Oh, no-no! Sand flies!
Will it Float?
David
03/21/2013, George Sound, NZ

Years ago a late night talk show periodically aired a segment-"Will it Float?"--testing the audiences' judgment by tossing items into an on- stage inflatable pool. Usually it sank. On the boat there are moments that require similar judgment. When at anchor it is not uncommon to be fiddling with something that suddenly drops overboard. Will it float? If yes, one grabs the boat pole to hook the dropped thingy before it drifts away. If it doesn't float, one either dives overboard immediately and swims for it or uses a convenient nautical term to mourn its loss. Now, a boat pole is simply a long stick with a hook. A modern boat pole is a thin, hollow aluminum tube 6 feet long with 2 telescoping extensions to reach 15 feet. There is a plastic hook on one end and a rubber handle grip slipped over other end. I'm an experienced sailor so I don't drop things over board. Well, that's not quite true. I've recently dropped the boat pole-twice. Yes, it floats, but no longer having a boat pole I had no way to retrieve it. On the first occasion, from the bow of the boat I hooked a mooring buoy just as a gust of wind hit. The bow blew away from the buoy, the pole began telescoping outward, I leaned over as far as possible, the pole zipped out to full extension, the boat continued its journey away from the buoy, and the rubber handle grip began to slide off the end of the aluminum tube. All I could think of was it will never float if the rubber grip comes off the end; so I let go of the pole. This, of course, occurred in full view of the 20 other boats already on mooring buoys in front of the Bora Bora Yacht Club. Fortunately several jumped into dinghies and rescued us and the still floating boat pole. The second occasion involved a recalcitrant mooring line in Doubtful Sound, NZ. While there were no rescuers around, I was now confident the pole would float until I arrived in the dinghy to retrieve it. Here is my tech tip for the week: either be more careful than I am or carry a spare boat pole. (Later a more experienced sailor suggested I could grab the fish gaff; it has a hook. I wonder if it floats?)

04/24/2013 | Mario Juarez
As long as you two are still floating, I reckon everything is bearable! We love reading your updates and traveling across the Pacific vicariously with you. Stay safe!
Sailing to Milford Sound
David
03/18/2013, Milford Sound, NZ

Barefoot blogs again!? Well, periodically anyway. Barefoot is now in Milford Sound, NZ. In February David and Roslyn sailed north from Whangarei, through the Bay of Islands, around North Cape and Cape Reinga (the northern tip of the North Island), down the west coast of NZ's north island, through Tasman Bay and into Nelson.

Although planning to sail around Nelson's adjacent Marlborough Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound after 10 days in Nelson we instead sailed south down the west coast of the South Island to Fiordland; Milford Sound is the first stop.

Mid March in Milford Sound is busy with 40 trampers a day completing the 4 day Milford Track (ending at appropriately named �"Sandfly Point�"), arriving camper vanners, young trampers jumping off the bus from Te Anau, and the glass covered tour boats--Milford Haven, Milford Mariner, and Milford Wanderer--cruising up and down the 11 mile Sound discussing glaciers, waterfalls, seals, penguins, and the blue duck.

Barefoot is the only sailboat in Milford Sound. Today we are tied to a 6 foot diameter steel mooring ball anchored in 150 foot depth, 100 meters from shore. The buoy is in isolated Deepwater Basin at the tip of the Sound; tourist boats and activity are at the separate commercial basin together with the Blue Duck Café and several large parking lots. The weather yesterday was low clouds and pounding rain filling our water tanks and washing off salt; the bar was 998hp. Today brings blue sky, stunning views of glaciers and water falls and 35 knots of SW wind. Cabin temperature overnight is 13C (55F).

Tech stuff and Sand Flys
David
03/18/2013, Milford Sound, NZ

Milford Sound is paradise; geological eye candy of towering rock walls, glaciers, and snow. The visual effects as the sun moves across the Sound each day are surprising. That is great, but there are sand flies that bite. Lesson one for us was about revenge. Do not smash the sand fly on anything you value because in its demise it squirts blood on your shirt, pant leg, keyboard, i-pad, or logbook. Moreover, it is your blood that it has just ingested and that bite is why you discovered its presence. We are told that now is an exceptionally dry period in Fiordland and there are fewer sand flies than in wetter periods. We are grateful. Repellent is effective. However, because we are on a sailboat, we try to establish screen boundaries for the little buggers. Here is the Barefoot tip--when making hatch, companionway and cockpit screens to help the sand flies learn boundaries, use black colored mesh screen, not white. It is significantly easier to see out through black mesh. We use fishermen's net lead line to weight down the edges of the mesh around the hatches and companionway. Tubular webbing filled with sand also works.

A Little About Nelson
David
03/18/2013, Milford Sound, NZ

We liked Nelson; my favorite city in NZ so far. The Nelson marina and the adjacent Tasman Bay Cruising Club welcomed us. Kiwi cruising boats populate the docks and many Kiwi sailors dropped by the boat to chat. Town and supermarkets are accessible via a scenic foot path and foot bridges along the river. No wonder Captain Cook returned to this area several times.

We spotted the sailboat "Wanderer IV" (one of Hiscock's later boats) at the Nelson Marina and met Patrick and Marie Taberly on their sailboat "Eclipse". Patrick is the younger brother of the well-known French sailor Eric Taberly who was lost overboard in 1998.

We intend to return to Nelson and sail Marlborough and Queen Charlotte Sounds but not extensively enough to become "Cook Strait Gunk-holers".

Land Ho! New Zealand
Ros
11/21/2012, Marsden Cove

Old Kiwi friends to greet us with New Zealand champagne in hand - what more could we ask as Barefoot glided into Marsden Cove - 14 months and approx 12,000 Nm after departing Seattle. Needless to say we were very excited at the culmination of Barefoot's first voyage, and so proud of her performance.

Our 11 day crossing from Tonga was mainly calm, sometimes 'becalmed', in an ocean strewn with pumice from undersea volcanoes - very different to the wild passage the fleet the week prior experienced.

Although excited to be approaching our destination, our last SSB radio sched' on the Pacific Drifters Net felt sad; what a great group of cruisers we have met, both on and off the airwaves; a real bonus to the cruising life.

Where to from here? A quick trip (flight) to Darwin for a family Christmas, then back to sail through Cook Strait and cruise the Marlborough Sounds, down to Nelson on the South Island. At the end of summer, we toss a coin again - East, West or North??

Kingdom of Tonga
Ros
10/31/2012, Vava'u

Barefoot is departing Neiafu in the beautiful Vava'u island group; working our way south, ready to set sail for NZ with the right weather window. We expect to reach Marsden Cove, Whangerei, NZ around mid November, or a little later and might even manage a break at Minerva Reef (weather dependent).

We've had a wonderful month in Tonga, starting in the north at Niuatoputapu in the Niau group. The extensive damage done to Niuatoputapu by the tsunami 3 years ago is still very evident, particularly in the village near the anchorage. Huge concrete bollards were washed off the wharf and the coastal homes were largely destroyed. The people saw the first wave coming over the reef and fled up the nearby hills to safety. When they returned, their village and homes were largely destroyed. The World Bank is constructing new villages up the hills, a point of contention with many of the seafaring villagers. The island has 3 villages and a population of around 800. They generally live off the land with little opportunity for earning income. We got the feeling that this rather sad and isolated island had been 'left behind' (especially when someone forgot to send them the national school exam papers! A call went out for any yacht heading that direction to take them!). The people were very friendly and children delightful; hopefully conditions will improve for them.

An overnight sail south took us to the Vava'u Group. This was very different, with a bustling town, bursting with yachties and tourists. The highlight of our visit to the Vava'u group has been swimming with a Humpback whale and her 2 month old calf - amazing experience! Thank you Phil Smith and the 'Whales in the Wild' team.

We enjoyed several beautiful anchorages in the Vava'u Group, but have left many unexplored 'for next time'. And we still have the Haapai Group and Tongatapu to explore too. You could spend a whole season just in the Kingdom of Tonga.


Robert Louis Stevenson
Ros
09/27/2012, Apia, Samoa

The highlight of our brief visit to (Western) Samoa was a visit to Robert Louis Stevenson's (author of Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde) beautiful old house, Villa Vailima, which is now a museum and an excellent record of the last years of his life, which he spent there. He was apparently writing a book every 3 months until his death in 1894. He was only 44. We climbed the hill behind his home, to his grave. A steep 45 minute climb through really nice rainforest; to the summit with the wide view 'under the starry sky' that he wanted. It was very moving to read the famous epitaph he wrote before he died, inscribed in bronze on his tomb.

We got drenched in a tropical downpour on the top, and again near the bottom, but it cooled us down (the weather was like Darwin in the build-up). We returned on a longer, easier path; the one they made to carry his coffin up - an effort that required many big Samoans!

"Home is the sailor home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill"

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