Note to Self on Passage MattersDavid
05/13/2013, East Cape, NZ
We sailors have notably short memories of unpleasant events at sea. That explains why when queried about a passage several days after completion the usual answer is "uneventful". It also explains why we go out to sea again. Whether the "short memory" condition is a result of the amount of alcohol consumed by a dry sailor promptly after dropping anchor (attempting to erase portions of the passage, no doubt) is a subject for another time. Having not yet dropped anchor on this passage, I'm still lucid and think it prudent to make notes to myself concerning a decision that in retrospect could have been better. As I write, we are northwest of East Cape, NZ and the seas have settled down to 3 meters and the wind down to 30 to 35 knots-both from the port quarter (150 to 160 degrees); life is better. The main is triple reefed (unfortunately the bunt is not tied). We're making 7 or so knots; the boat is pitching, rolling and occasionally slammed hard by an overtaking wave. Earlier, of necessity because of the larger seas and much higher winds, we were sailing dead downwind and square to the seas, but now we tolerate the roll and slam in order to lay our course. Writing this, the computer feet grip the nav desk well, but the mouse and cursor are on the loose and my butt rocks back and forth in the nav seat.
Indian Ocean Pirate RallyDavid
05/10/2013, East Cape, NZ
Joining in a rally format to sail with a hundred to as many as five hundred other sailboats to safely cross the Atlantic Ocean and other tempestuous bodies of water is now popular. The rally concept appeals to ocean sailing novices as well sailors wishing to have customs and immigration formalities and departure and welcome ceremonies (including a courtesy bottle of champagne) arranged by others. Many sailors simply enjoy the social milieu of several hundred boats nearby with whom to exchange daily (or more if you like) chit-chat on the VHF radio and SSB radio. Not to be overlooked is the opportunity to have a washed-overboard dinghy or a fallen crew member plucked from the water by a following boat or to obtain a transfer of fuel, water, or beer when needed; possibly even a tow to the finish line. Rally organizers sort all the details, deftly smooth bureaucratic ripples, offer assurances of safety and security (complete briefings and checklists provided), and deliver rally flags and banners to all captains. Games and contests to win tee-shirts and bling include daily speed records, biggest fish caught and guess the date and time of arrival. Rally fees have climbed to four-figures and participation continues to increase each year. We on Barefoot do not feel drawn to the amenities of the rally format and until now have not seriously considered joining a rally. However, in light of the following we are reconsidering. The world-wide popularity of the rally format has not escaped the notice of those piratical Somalians in the northwest Indian Ocean who have completely interrupted the cruising sailors' traditional route from Thailand across the Indian Ocean through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. A few cruising sailboats were plucked off by the pirates and cruising sailors turned their sterns to the route. While many cruising boats now avoid the dangerous Red Sea route by ducking below Africa, others load their boats on yacht transport ships for passage through to the Med from Singapore. Recently, in a dramatic change of tactics, the pirate group led by the infamous "johniebe good" has announced the first annual 2014 "Indian Ocean Pirate Rally". Rally participants will congregate in their boats at a to- be-designated "lat/lon" off the coast of India. From that point across the Indian Ocean, past Somalia to the Red Sea, each boat on the passage will enjoy the comfort and security offered by six large, heavily armed steel fishing trawlers, each supporting fifteen cleverly decorated small wooden motorized dories with canvas tarps concealing the small arms cache in the bow. The trawlers and dories will surround the rally fleet to protect it from pirates as it moves westward. "For security and safe passage guaranteed, nothing is better than being surrounded by pirates" says johniebe. Although the boats will handle their own formalities and ceremonies will be minimal, all participants (each boat must fly a pirate flag) will have the unique opportunity to meet the dory pirates and share food and beverages with them as well as transfer some to the trawlers. Participants will improvise contests and games such as the popular "talk-like-a-pirate-day" (bring your own eye patch), a saber sharpening contest, and (for the pirates only) shiniest AK-47 contest. Pirate Rally fees are expected to be in low five figures for each boat--perhaps not unreasonable compared to the cost of the yacht transport ship or the long sail around South Africa. Johniebe says this rally is absolutely the "must-do" event for all cruising sailboats crossing the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea.
47degN to 47deg SRos
05/05/2013, Stewart Island
From Seattle to SW Cape, Stewart Is, New Zealand and from Puffins to Penguins in 19 months and over 14,000 Nm. Had we planned this when we set sail from Seattle - no!
They Never SmileDavid
04/12/2013, Stewart Island, NZ
Sailors call them Mollymawks. Most people say "Albatross". Around Stewart Island there are many "white-capped" albatrosses. These are serious sea birds. They follow us when we're fishing. Often four or five are a couple of feet from the stern while we drift fish. They are smart birds and recognize fishing rods and the associated activity. Ros caught a 15" fish that she decided was a bit small. She released it over the stern and "Albi" dove in, picked it up, and swallowed the entire fish whole-sideways. In an attempt to outsmart them Ros now releases undersize fish from the bow while I dance a jig at the stern to distract the birds. The water here is clear. The birds see the fish being reeled in and dive for them. It is a race to see who has the fish for dinner. Up close, one has a sense of the bulk of these birds. Each wing is a meter long. After landing the double hinged wing appears to activate and folds aft, forward and aft in three sections-it is not an instant process. Their foot paddles are each 8" wide. When landing both are lowered and angled slightly aft apparently to produce drag to slow down. The paddles then shift forward and become skis for landing. Take off requires developing flight speed by running on the paddles. If the sea is calm, there is no wind to assist with take off and quite a bit of paddling is needed. Paddling is also used to rapidly travel short distances on the water without flight. In flight, the birds circle the boat and easily speed along at 10 or 12 knots, commonly flying a few inches above the ocean surface using the air pressure between the wings and the sea surface to generate lift. Occasionally they flap their wings; more frequently when the breeze is light. They fly solitary and in squads of three or four swooping and banking through the wave troughs in unison. Their long, yellow beaks-curved downward at the tip-together with deep black eyes and a grey-white face under a brilliant white cap give an them an elegant, but arrogant and remote expression. They never smile.
Yesterday Pasted; Today LuckyDavid
04/06/2013, Solander Is., NZ
Tonight Barefoot is underway motoring by Solander Island, bound for Port Pegasus, Stewart Is., NZ. The passage between the south end of NZ and Stewart Island is notoriously difficult. Rarely is the wind calm, the sea flat, the sun shinning, and a fresh big-eye tuna on the trolling line - today we have it all; we are lucky. Yesterday, underway from Dusky Sound to Chalky Sound, was different - 25 knots of wind on the nose (from the south-Antarctic cold), a 3 meter SW swell combined with a 1 meter NW swell and wind waves on top, and a 1.5 to 2 knot adverse current. This piece of ocean is a nasty bit. It is further south than Tasmania. Deep low pressure systems mean wind, huge swells, and strong currents that are pinched and accelerate at the south tip of NZ because of the mountain range and the surprisingly shallow water between NZ and Stewart Is. Note that Stewart Is. is at 47 degrees south; winter and short days are near so we'll keep moving right along.
Captain Cook Slept HereDavid
04/02/2013, Dusky Sound, Fiordland, NZ
Today we motored 20 miles westward from Shark Cove. Tonight Barefoot is anchored (with shore lines) at Pickersgill anchorage in Dusky Sound. Cook anchored the Resolution here during his 2nd voyage to NZ in 1773. It is so remote that it probably doesn't look a scrap different now than in 1773. The weather is NW 30 and rain; it is probably the same as well.
Why sail to Stewart Island?David
04/01/2013, Dusky Sound, Fiordland, NZ
Tonight Barefoot is anchored in Shark Cove. SC is at the tip of Dusky Sound. The hook is down in 109 feet and our 300 foot shore line is tied to a fallen tree next to a gushing stream. From the cabin of the boat we can hear the stream flowing and smell the mosquito coils burning in the cockpit to deter the sand flies. As senses go, I should add that I see Ros sitting by the warm Dickinson heater sipping rum (her favorite position). Rain falls sporadically so we normally wear sea boots, water proof pants, and jackets with hoods. I may have mentioned there are no stores or provisions of any kind in Fiordland. Of course, no internet connection so no photos on the blog. Although numerous sites remain to be seen in Dusky Sound , we will begin a weather window watch for an opportunity to sail to Stewart Island. Why face the challenging weather to sail to Stewart Island is the question many might ask. I was unsure myself until this morning when Ros announced that we're out of beer. We know there is a store in Half Moon Bay, Stewart Island.
Watching Wicked WeatherDavid
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 BarDavid
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 FindersDavid
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.