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Don & Deb's Big Adventure Continues in Oz
We are now living in Melbourne, Australia after selling our beautiful yacht 'Buena Vista' in New Zealand. Even so...the big adventure will continue one way or another!
Day 24 to the Marquesas
04/13/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 24 = 62 nautical miles. I KNOW! Are we ever gonna get there? It's days like today that me and Don feel like the worst sailors in the world. We just can't seem to find the wind to get the boat moving in the right direction. Where are the southerly trade winds we've heard were down here? We're at 3 degrees south and are still getting light north-easterlies or no wind at all. Our desired landfall is 500 miles away at 220 degrees, which is southwest. All I can seem to sail is 150 or 280. We did fly the spinnaker for 4 hours yesterday, but today, with squalls all around it's just crazy. I've got another squall story but not sure I'm up to telling it. Suffice it to say - no matter how much you want to sail through the night with a full mainsail...Don't! At 5am this morning we were sure happy that we had reefed down the night before. During this morning's squall event there were a few moments of hilarity that I will share. We made it through the first squall, 25 knots of wind, dark, so so wet, boat flying at 8 knots. I looked at the radar and saw a lineup behind us, with squalls the same or bigger than the first. There was a few minutes break (down to 15 knots) between them so we decided to reef down even more. Don put his harness on over his sarong and stepped outside. His sarong immediately blew off leaving him completely naked, except for the harness. No time to waste, he reefed the sail butt naked in the pouring rain. Wish I had my camera handy but it was too wet to contemplate getting it. When we were done we were both drenched. After the squalls were over Don made us both a cup of coffee. We stopped to reflect upon this last drama. I said, "At least it's fresh water, I feel nice and clean" a moment later a wave hit us to port and Don lost his balance and his coffee went flying, mostly over me! Laugh, it's funny! Later I went into the aft cabin and found that the hatch above our bed had been left slightly open. All of our bedsheets, bed, pillows are drenched. Then I went into our reefer looking for something good to eat to make us feel better...I found a half rotten cantaloupe at the bottom of the veggie container. I tell you, the other half was just divine.

04/13/2012 | Anthony Diliberti
Sounds like you just starting to have fun, he we had hail/rain /wind/. Still working on this BFC\( big Fat Cow ).

04/14/2012 | lyn
Been great reading your blog. Brings back so many memories of our crossing. Don't remember having so many squalls but definitely remember water pouring in hatch when wave broke over boat!! You get to see Nuka Hiva - we missed that and heard it was great. Was sitting on the beach the other day thinking of you both. Not long till that good nights sleep!!
04/14/2012 | jeff
donny boy workin on the boat starkers is something that sounds extremely funny to me you go don!!!!!
04/15/2012 | Krausz House
Evan and I are laughing and feeling bad at the same time. I wish I could wiggle my nose and send you a clothes dryer! Also wish you would have had a camera for Don's exhibition as well! We love you and can't wait to hear your voice and see your faces. Be safe. Love, r
04/15/2012 | Nanc
You guys are nuts!!! I am standing my ground on this one. Hope you make it there soon! xoxo
Day 23 to the Marquesas
04/12/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 23 = 110 nautical miles. Less than 600 miles to go. We had two nice sailing days but have only been able to go due south from where we crossed the equator at 131W. We've had northeast wind and we've been hoping it would shift more to the east so we could veer around to the southwest towards Nuka Hiva but no go. Friends of ours, Karen and Jim on 'Sockdolager' are further south of us. They have been reporting for two or three days on the nightly net that they don't have much wind where they are. They are in a 24' Pacific Seacraft (half the size of our boat) and they've been out a week longer that we have. We were hoping to catch up to them but instead we've just jibed away so we don't get stuck in the no wind hole they are in. Sorry, Karen! I've been successful ordering the supplies needed to fix our torn genoa sail. Vicki on 'Southern Cross' who did the crossing last year and didn't want to do it again (now I know why:) she is flying in to Nuka Hiva on Sunday to meet her husband who just arrived at the island today. She helped me make contact with a sailmaker there in California and she's bringing back what we need. Our mates Carla and Doug on 'Moondance' have been following the blog and know what's going on as well. They did the puddle jump last year and had a sail repaired in Nuka Hiva. They told me there's a couple who live on a blue steel boat there and they repair sails in a loft by the wharf. They charge $35 an hour but they don't have any material...but now we have our own supplies. Yippee! It is all coming together. Hopefully we'll get a quick fix and won't miss out on anything. Thanks to all of our 'ground support', we couldn't do it without you...and that includes my close friend Pam and also my parents who handle whatever comes their way. You Guys Rock!

04/13/2012 | Anthony Mandalay
Hi, good to here things are on the up side mate
Stay safe, enjoy the ride & you Boat.

04/13/2012 | karen scott
Heard your conversation with Carlos on the exciting to hear your progress!
Day 22 to the Marquesas
04/11/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 22 = 89 nautical miles. We've found a nice little rhythm moving due south from where we crossed the equator. We've cruising along doing our 5 knots and trying to enjoy the ride. Can't go much faster due to our reduced sail area. Don's reading a book called 'Blue Latitudes' about a fellow who retraces Captain James Cook's voyages around the Pacific in the ship Endeavor. I'm reading Herman Melville's 'Typee' about an english seaman who jumps ship at Nuka Hiva (where we're going) and is taken hostage by a tribe who is known for their savage acts of cannibalism (so far they are treating him like a king - fattening him up?) Yesterday I made homemade yogart and today we made cookies. One of the boats we're traveling with, 'Southern Cross', Mark's wife Vicki is flying in to Nuka Hiva to meet them on Sunday. I am trying to figure out what materials are needed to fix our torn sail and hopefully Vicki will be able to pick up the supplies and bring them with her. We've heard there is a rigging/sail repair place on the wharf there but it could be completely different than what I would normally think of as a sail shop. We are in the Marquesas remember, not the big city of Tahiti, that's over two months from now. We've been told if you want to do it yourself, to lay the sail out on the beach and use sail tape and various other materials to get it ready for sewing. My mate Marni on Picara has a machine that can do the job unless the Nuka Hiva guy works out. The beaches in the Marquesas are supposedly infested with nono's (no-see-ums), awful biting flies, so this should be interesting. Well, nothing to worry about now, we've still got five or six days before we even get to see land again. Which reminds me...I've been asked if it bothers me being so far away from land. Not that much really. We've been living on Buena Vista for three years now and the boat has become our home. We're just playing house in an unusual place (that rocks back and forth). Whether we're 10 miles off the coast of Mexico or in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I can still go down the companionway to the galley (kitchen) and make a cup of coffee, grab a book and laze out on the settee (couch) and relax. Now sometimes I've been a bit panicked when sea conditions were deteriorating and you know what I do to get a grip on myself...I go downstairs, make a cup of coffee, sit on the settee and relax with a book in my little home on the sea.

04/12/2012 | Anthony Mandalay
Hi, good to here you are safe, the book don is reading I read two times. Once you find a port with an airport I may fly down to see you.
Day 21 to the Marquesas
04/10/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 21 = 61 nautical miles. HEY - WE MADE IT TO THE EQUATOR! Yesterday we figured that we would make it to the equator in the evening sometime. On the way it was beautiful sailing weather (in between squalls that is). The sun went down and the wind died and we were 15 miles away. We had dinner and then kicked back in the cockpit and fell asleep. I woke up at 1:45am and we were within 20 seconds of crossing the equator. Our chartplotter gps said: 00.00.19N, 00.00.18N, 00.00,17N, and so on down to 00.00.00N, then 00.00.01S, 00.00.02S, 00.00.03S, and so on. We had a cocktail and gave Neptune his taste, watched the full moon and the stars and enjoyed the moment. Here's a bit of the ceremony for 'pollywogs' like we were yesterday...becoming 'shellbacks', conducted by the Royal Order of Neptune: "Should she fall overboard, We do command that Sharks, Dolphins, Whales, Mermaids and other dwellers in the Deep are to abstain from maltreating this person. And we further direct all Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and others who have not crossed Our Royal Domain, to treat her with the respect due to One of Us. Given under Our Hand at Our Court on board the sailing vessel Buena Vista on the Equator in Longitude 131.44W on this 10th day of April 2012. Signed, King Neptune. We thought we'd like to go swimming at the equator in the morning so we dropped the little sail that was up and went to bed. When we awoke in the morning we were 6 miles away. We had drifted that far during the night, with the help of the hydrovane who continued steering Buena Vista even though he could have taken the night off also. Our impression of the equator - it's cooler and less humid than I was expected. This morning was 83 in the cabin and 79 in the water. Hurrah! We made it. Regarding the comments below by Jeff who sees himself going a bit insane doing what we're doing and Mike, the one who would love to be here and talks about Jeff...these two happen to be my brothers. We love you guys.

04/11/2012 | Carla and Doug
Congratulations - hope that means you lose the squalls and start getting some sunshine and good sailing winds. It is definitely your turn! Rest when you can!
04/11/2012 | john Owens
Congratulations to Deb and Don and the good ship BuenaVista. Can you see Australia from there? 8 )
04/11/2012 | Bill Hudson/Zephyr
Congrats to you both. It took us 19 days last year so 21 is a good crossing considering what you have been going through.
Keep going. You'll get there!
04/11/2012 | Ellen & Ian sv Kasasa
Congratulations you guys on crossing the equator. You're almost there now. Hope you get away from the ITCZ soon sounds nasty - but you're coping well.
04/11/2012 | Al & Esther Roth
You crossed the equator! Go Deb & Don, you guys are our heroes!
04/11/2012 | Ib & Yadranka
Congratulation and well done. Our thoughts are with you. See you soon!
04/11/2012 | Polly Kuntz
Way To Go Guys!" Congrats," we are SOOOOO proud of you both. Here's to smooth sailing from now on. Lots of love to you both. Polly & Walt oxox
04/11/2012 | Anthony Mandalay
Congrs You did it, I remember when I first meet Don In ventura, (LOCKER). You have come a long way since then.
Miss ya, Anthony
04/11/2012 | keith robbo
o.k , half time buzzer has gone . take a seat , have a smoke , a piece of orange and listen up . It's been a tough game so far but your coming through very , very well. This pussy pacific has thrown eveything at you trying to turn you back . Let's get out there and come home with the wind , backs , stay tight as a drum , forwards , keep it loose , eyes open and you'll be sailing through the two big sticks in no time . unreal Tom Hafey
04/11/2012 | jeff
and you have to rememeber i get sea sick just by looking at the ocean and i have to take a freakin boat to work wtf lol? ( sorry mom ) catalina is ok, i like walking around the town every night. im off today though i am so happy that you guys are doing what you love and i wish i could follow you there but again i get seasick reading a book about the ocean hehe., i dont think its in the cards for me. i remember when we were kids, debbie was always getting carsick and stuff now its backwards .
04/12/2012 | Jo and Rob Woollacott
Welcome to our side of the planet!
04/14/2012 | Linz and Cath
I know Im late but as you know shit happens at sea and my boat has just come in. Contrats you two welcome to this side of the plant, thinking of you both every day. Linz and Cath
Day 20 to the Marquesas
04/09/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 20 = 72 nautical miles. The ITCZ loves Buena Vista and is following us. We've got to get the heck out of this area. When it's nice it's just beautiful here with light winds, nice and warm, and fluffy white clouds passing all around. But when it turns nasty the skies become completely overcast and the water changes to a dark and stormy grey. The ITCZ snakes around from place to place. When we were at 6 N it rolled out the welcome mat for us and slammed us good (our first big squall) and then as we moved south, so did it. As a matter of fact, we've been in this unsettled area for four days now. As we near the equator, at 1-2 degrees north the ITCZ actually jumped past us and we had to cross it's axis again...that's when we tore our good sail. A few days ago we started motoring all night, just to get through more quickly. When we motor we can't use the hydrovane so we used our electric autopilot. Unfortunately, after the first night the autopilot stopped cooperating (he's flaky - that's why we bought the vane) so we're essentially hand steering through the night. So, at 10pm Don goes below to have a sleep. I'm at the helm, it's pitch black outside. There is a full moon somewhere but there's so much cloud cover you can't see it. I have the steering wheel locked but the boat roams from side to side and you have to keep adjusting it. The compass is in front of me, lit at night with a glowing red light. The compass dial moves slowly from right to left, from left to right. The wind meter is up on the bulkhead about four feet away. The dial on the wind meter moves slowly from right to left to right to left. As we motor on, the boat rocks from right to left to right to left. I am now hypnotized and am must put my head down for just a moment. Next thing I know Don wakes me up and says that the seas have become alot calmer. I wake with a lurch and look at the's no wonder, we're going in the wrong direction...north! We turn the boat back to south and try it again. An hour later, radar shows a massive green blob about 4 miles away and moving in fast. We get ready for the next big hit. This squall hits us with wind at 20-25 knots and god knows how much rain, alot. I'm inside watching the radar screen and Don's at the wheel. We continuing motoring, hoping to pull away from the storm, no joy. We put the motor into neutral for awhile, hoping the storm will pass over us and continue on, no joy. It's all around us and doesn't move on for several hours. When it's over, the clouds start to break up and a few stars start appearing. It's over for now. Keep motoring...we've got to get to the equator and beyond. Just a note: one year ago today we left Puerto Vallarta to do the puddle jump with our friends Cath and Linz, didn't make it. A boat we left with last year, Blue Moon, did their passage in 18 days...we're on Day 20 and still have 750 miles to go.

04/10/2012 | jeff
if i was there in the pitch black in the middle of the night at the wheel with nothing in site i would go just a little crazy and probably start laughing or screaming something like WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING HERE? ( sorry mom ) but thats just me and you guys are way more basd ass than me :) happy sailing.
04/10/2012 | Mike Anderson
Don't listen to Jeffro. He is ready to hang himself because he is forced to work on Catalina Island- the only populated of your beloved Channel Islands. He hates it because there is nothing to do out there. You guys loved the Channel Islands because you have to find your own entertainment. Well, I for one would rather be with you in the middle of the ocean than with Jeffro on Catalina complaining about lack of available women and how expensive a cheeseburger is. If it were easy, it wouldn't be an extreme adventure!
Day 19 to the Marquesas
04/08/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 19 = 91 nautical miles. Tough day for Buena Vista. ITCZ takes a bite. Keeping to our idea of motoring when no wind and sailing when there is, we were sailing along minding our own business and a cute little rain cloud came up behind us. Looked like all the other rain clouds but he walloped us something good. We couldn't roll up the genoa fast enough and then RRRRIIIPPPPPP. A big rip in our beautiful roller furling genoa. WAAAHH, Looks like we're headed for Nuka Hiva, the decision being made that we need the closest place to lick our wounds and try to have the sail repaired. My friend Marni on 'Picara' can do the job easily - it's just that she and Mike are only now taking off from Puerto Vallarta. The bigger issue is that the Marquesas are still over 800 miles away and now we're using the main and the much smaller inner forestay sail and expect lighter winds in our near future. We don't have unlimited fuel either so now (once we get past the equator) we'll have to sail slow when there's no wind and just let the days tick by as they will. Too much drama for me. My friend Arlene would say, "It's just part of the plot." Hey - we should make the equator tomorrow. Yeah.

04/09/2012 | Carla and Doug
I agree, WAAHH! But, I know that you and Don will power through it. Plus - you are getting closer - promise. Hope you are getting some rest along the way. No more WAAAHH's thought!
04/10/2012 | Bruce
We had lots of wind as soon as we were south of the equator. You never know.
Keep on keeping on!!
04/10/2012 | Anthony
I have been tracking, stay safe and get rest.
04/10/2012 | John & Tarcha
Atta Boy Don & Deb Sounds like Mr Toads Wild Ride Great job on the blog The excitement is deafening xoxox J&T
04/10/2012 | Pam
Sorry to hear about the tear. Looked up this for you -Nuku Hiva : Repair Facilities. Rigs & Sails. Nuku Hiva Yacht Services BP 45, 98742 TaiohaƩ, Nuku Hiva Tel:689 91 01 50, VHF Channel 67
Day 18 to the Marquesas
04/07/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 18 = 108 nautical miles. Less than 200 to the equator! No big squalls today thank goodness but it rained like crazy all darn day long. Nice winds pushed us along but boy was it wet. Less than a mile visibility so we used the radar occasionally to check for traffic. It is so amazing to me the different weather conditions you get out here and how quickly they change. We've got a single reefed mainsail up today and full genoa flying but we have to keep our eyes open for any sneaky squalls. Our mates on 'Southern Cross' made it to the equator today so congrats to them. Hopefully we'll get their during daylight hours, we think Monday morning.

04/09/2012 | Lisa frost
Glad you are safe and dryer! Love to you both and I hope you make it there by Monday!! do everything here is good. Had a nice Easter with the hubby. Long drive. Great weather!
Day 17 to the Marquesas
04/06/2012, Outbound Cabo, Inbound Marquesas, French Polynesia

Day 17 = 121 nautical miles. About 1,000 miles left to go. Yesterday I mentioned rain. Today we found out what a real ITCZ squall is. Luckily the sun was out and we saw IT coming, like a freight train straight at us. We had a single reefed main and our big genoa out, we quickly rolled it in to triple reefed. This thing coming is like a big dark blob with a curtain of darkness connecting it to the water off in the distance. As it approached, very quickly, I got this feeling that this might be a memorable experience. I got my camera ready (which is what I do when I get that feeling). The sun disappeared and the water color turned from blue to gray. The surface of the water became rippled at first and then stirred up and angry looking and waves developed in all directions. Don puts the side panels up on the cockpit enclosure to keep the rain out as much as possible. He disengaged the hydrovane steering unit and moved behind the wheel to take control of the ship. I'm throwing pillows, books, hats, etc. to the front of the cockpit, clearing the decks so to speak. The first thing that happened as the squall approached is the sails start to flutter and the wind dies off a bit and then bang, the wind meter shows 4 knots to 20 knots to 25 knots in about 5 seconds. At the peak of the event we saw 30 knots. I went downstairs and turned on the radar and I can't believe what I'm looking at. We've been completely devoured by this thing, this squall is five miles wide and all around us. I took a picture of the radar screen and I'll try to post it later. Impressive. Don's behind the wheel as Buena Vista's speed through the water increases from 4 knots to 8 to 9 knots in no time at all and holds at that speed. Water is everywhere, calling it rain is an understatement for sure. There's so much wind and water coming down you can't see anything but gray streaks. It's leaking into the cockpit here there and everywhere but there's not much we can do except hold on for the ride. The ride continued for about an hour, the squall finally passing over us and continuing on it's way. We were both happy it was over but when I looked at the radar screen I had to gasp. There were four or five more blobs lined up behind the first big one waiting their turn to take a whack at us. Yesterday when I mentioned the clouds looked like armies marching to war, it was like that. It's called a squall line. Well - we weren't going to just sit there and take it. We started the motor and got the hell out of there. The sun went down and we dropped the main and motored the rest of the night keeping an eye on the radar and enduring passing rain showers from time to time. No more squalls like that since then. When the sun came up it was another gorgeous day. There are more armies all around us off in the distance setting up for the next attack. What a place this is! It occurs to me that if someone could throw a few mooring balls out here they could rent sailboats to those adventurous souls who love to do wild and daring things..."Go Sail the ITCZ...You'll love the feeling". The ITCX is also called the doldrums. Crazy squalls mixed with light winds and large areas of no wind. Our new plan of attack is sail when there's wind, take cover when it's squally, and motor when there's no wind. Next 'stop' - the equator, in a few days.

04/07/2012 | Linz and Cath
Say hi to Bob when you see him again Donny
04/07/2012 | jeff
keep going guys i miss you i love reading your stories. that squall sounded scarey wow

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Buena Vista's Crew
Who: Don and Debbie Robertson
Port: Ventura, California
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