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Calou's Blog
Cruising with the crew of CALOU on the Baja Ha-ha and Pacific Puddle Jump
Crossing the Equator: Pollywogs to Shellbacks
Bruce
04/11/2011

We crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere this afternoon at about 6:15 PM, with great fanfare. This was a very special occasion, for we, the crew of Calou, have graduated from being mere "Pollywogs" (those sailors who have not crossed the Equator) to "Shellbacks". To become shellbacks, one must not merely cross the equator on a boat. One must partake of the traditions of the sea. This includes an offering to Poseidon (we opened a bottle of Mexico's finest champagne and let some of it spray into the ocean), as well as a dunking in the waters (we went for a swim, and the actual equator crossing was by swimming across it for John and Francois).

Following this, we brought out the gifts and favors that we had prepared back in Mexico, all five of us had presents to open.

Antoine dressed himself as Poseidon, reigning majestically over the proceedings.

We Calouligans, shellbacks all!

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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04/12/2011 | Blair Hunt
CHEERS to you all!!! How exciting for you to experience becoming "Shellbacks". Continued safe journey. All the best from the Pacific Northwest. S/V Sabrina Faire
Crossing the Equator: Pollywogs to Shellbacks
Bruce
04/11/2011

We crossed the equator into the Southern Hemisphere this afternoon at about 6:15 PM, with great fanfare. This was a very special occasion, for we, the crew of Calou, have graduated from being mere "Pollywogs" (those sailors who have not crossed the Equator) to "Shellbacks". To become shellbacks, one must not merely cross the equator on a boat. One must partake of the traditions of the sea. This includes an offering to Poseidon (we opened a bottle of Mexico's finest champagne and let some of it spray into the ocean), as well as a dunking in the waters (we went for a swim, and the actual equator crossing was by swimming across it for John and Francois).

Following this, we brought out the gifts and favors that we had prepared back in Mexico, all five of us had presents to open.

Antoine dressed himself as Poseidon, reigning majestically over the proceedings.

We Calouligans, shellbacks all!

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Glossy Seas (Day 17)
John
04/11/2011

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: 0.28333 Longitude: -128.18436

To say the sea at the equator is calm would be a serious understatement. The last two days we have had nothing but seas as glossy as my laptop screen. Despite the lack of wind, the water keeps moving though, gently rolling swells. It is like looking across a desert of low lying blue sand dunes.

The heat, combined with the humidity, is almost unbearable inside the cabin. So now I've taken to writing these updates from my new office location, up in the cockpit. With the breeze generated by the fact of us motoring through the water, conditions are much more tolerable on deck. We also have the sun shade up all day long which helps immensely as well.

Today Pascale did a load of laundry using her blue bucket and plunger. Bruce had hoped to be hoisted up the backstay in order to take a look at our damaged radar unit, but has opted to wait one more day. The radar unit stopped working early on in our passage, and a few days ago, the bracket which attaches it to the backstay seems to have given out and now the whole assembly is just hanging there loosely. Even if we can't fix it out here, it won't matter too much since we are getting close to our destination, and we have ordered a new one which we will pick up when we get there.

We are planning an equator crossing celebration tonight at 6:10pm. Although we are unable to put the Champaign on ice, we will still enjoy a glass or two. Bruce, Francois, and I are planning to swim across the line. We are lucky to be crossing during daylight hours as we hope to see the equatorial line on the water which is created by the unique angle of the sun at this latitude, but which can only be seen right at the equator. If it is not too cloudy, it should be bright enough to be seen in a photograph. Also interesting to note is that the sun is almost directly overhead at noon and that we have almost exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. The sun rises at 7:30 AM and sets at 7:37 PM. Enough for today, tomorrow we will be updating from the Southern Hemisphere.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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04/11/2011 | bob elix
following your blog with interest, as you are going thru the same journey as my family this time last year, their blog www.elixirpacific.com
I envy your journey you have in front of you,safe sailing ! Enjoy
In the Zone, and Eggs Again
Bruce
04/10/2011, Inter Tropical Convergence Zone

We are right smack in the middle of the ITCZ, a.k.a. the Zone, weaving our way between squalls which look like black masses of clouds clinging to the water. There are squalls everywhere, to our left, to our right, and behind us. The trick is to steer the course so there isn't one in front of us. That's easy enough to do in the daytime, but at night we will just have to cross our fingers and keep a double reef in the sails.

Recall, we had to throw out our entire egg supply because the place where they were stored was too hot and humid so they got moldy. I had a dream last night, that I discovered a few dozen eggs in the storage space under our bed. I was thrilled! This is unfortunately impossible since we store tools and materials, not eggs, under our bed, which I realized with deep disappointment as I started to awaken. It was just a dream, alas.

Today we tackled the problem of our forward holding tank which would not empty. This would be the third time I have had to remove that holding tank and clear the blockage. This time we did it a little smarter, by rigging a block suspended over the open sail locker hatch where the tank is located, and using a winch to hoist the (very heavy) half full holding tank onto the deck without spilling its contents on the boat or ourselves. (See the photo that John has posted of this operation)

We managed to get the tank emptied and discovered that the blockage was in the 1-1/2 inch outlet hose. It was blocked with minerals that accumulate due to the chemical interaction of the waste with sea water.

In order to gain access to the holding tank, located in the sail locker at the bow of the boat, it was necessary to completely empty the sail locker of all our other stuff. The sail locker is where we store everything that's bulky. I passed boxes and items aft to John and Pascale who placed the items in our cabin (temporarily). Well guess what I found in one of the boxes I removed from the sail locker....

Two dozen eggs (and not moldy, either)!!!

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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04/11/2011 | Dave Benjamin
I'm enjoying following your blog. Jean and I are glad the spinnaker is serving you well and that we got it down there in time so we didn't hold up your departure. Fair winds!
Rock and Roll Time
Bruce
04/10/2011, in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone

We are in the Zone, a.k.a. the Doldrums. As darkness fell so did the winds, to less than 6 knots, so we were obliged to motorsail from about 9 PM until Midnight during Francois' watch. There was a light rain. At midnight Francois handed the helm over to me for my Midnight to 3 a.m. watch, saying, "I don't think you'll be needing the foulies, the rain is petering out".

No sooner than Francois had gone down to his cabin than I noticed that the wind was picking up, since I could hear, for the first time this evening, the wind generator running. We had about 12 knots of wind and the rain was starting again. I shut down the engine since it was no longer needed.

By the time I got my foul weather gear on the wind had increased to 20 knots. I watched the knot meter as it rose steadily in just a few minutes, to 25, 30, 35 knots. The boat was screaming along at 8 knots with a double reefed mainsail and jib, making great time. The seas were relatively flat. I steered a southwesterly course that kept the boat on a downwind run with the wind 120 degrees off the bow for the most comfortable ride possible.

Meanwhile visibility was reduced to zero as a huge cloud passed overhead blocking out the starlight and moonlight. I could see nothing but our own bow wave and its phosphorescent trail. We were in one of the ITCZ's famous squalls, known for going from a flat calm to 40 knots in a few minutes. This is exactly what happened.

The squall lasted about an hour. Finally around 1:20 a.m., the winds calmed down to about 16 knots. I could see a patch of stars ahead. As we entered the clear sky area, I looked back, and all you could see was a huge blackness which was the squall we had just been through.

Fortunately, as the sun set earlier in the evening and we doused the spinnaker, we could see some weather systems on the horizon, so we set a double reef in both the mainsail and the jib. If we had not done so I might have had difficulty dealing with those winds and would have needed help to get the sails reefed.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Storm (Day 16)
John
04/10/2011

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: 2.3941 Longitude: -128.15114

Last night we experienced our first real storm at sea. We could see the clouds building in front of us all afternoon, and by sunset we were just entering into the thick of it. The clouds were dark, and spread for miles on either side of us. Just as we started eating dinner the rain began falling. The boat was drenched by about 10:00pm and the rain stopped. We thought that was all the rain, but things really started picking up when Bruce started his watch at midnight. Within about 10 minutes we went from motoring in calm seas to over 30 knots of wind with pounding rain. The strong wind lasted for about an hour, and slowly settled back down over the following six hours.

Now that we are in latitude two degrees north, the only wind we see is when we are near or in a squall, most of which are quite small. Since there is no wind we have started burning our diesel supply to get us through the equatorial zone. We will probably need to motor for about three days which will take us far enough south so that we pick up the southern Pacific trade winds. Those should start kicking in around two or three degrees south. Here, there is so little wind that the water becomes shiny and oily looking.

Our project for today was clearing a clogged line in the forward head's holding tank. This meant mostly a repeat of what we did a few weeks ago. The tank was about half full this time, so slightly less heavy, but still too heavy for one person to lift. Bruce rigged a lifting line so that Francois and I were able to raise the tank out of the sail locker, onto the deck. Then came the messy job of emptying the tank overboard. This turned out to be less messy than expected since we hose clamped a plastic Zip-Loc back over the outlet, and when the tank was on its side, we just punctured the bag with a screwdriver. The bag was ripped off by the pressure and everything drained pretty quickly. It turns out there were hard deposits built up in the drain hose, and after removing those, everything flowed smoothly. Bruce has now reworked the drain system so that the holding tank is now bypassed. He can pretty easily re-connect to the tank when needed. He also has ordered spare parts so that he can rebuild the hose configurations to make things easier to clean out in the future. These are just some of a bunch of parts which will hopefully be waiting for us when we arrive in Hiva Oa.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Day 15
Bruce
04/09/2011

Today marks the second week since we left Mexico. We are doing fine, sailing under clear skies with the spinnaker at 4 deg 12 min N, 127 deg 05 min W. We have not hit the doldrums yet, though we had a brief period of rain last night.

We are getting used to not having refrigeration, in fact it has some merits. We have a surplus of electric power in the afternoons now thanks to the solar panels, so we run the watermaker and the inverter all day. Afternoons are now "movie time".

I have ordered a new refrigeration evaporator to be delivered by US Mail to Hiva Oa. Working on the same for the radar.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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Two Weeks At Sea (Day 15)
John
04/09/2011

John's Blog Updated. Original post with photos: http://travel.reservationkey.com Latitude: 4.08345 Longitude: -127.34277

We ended up spotting the Japanese fishing vessel just at sunset last night. We tried talking to them on the radio, but no response unfortunately. It would have been nice to talk with them and learn more about their activities. Still, it was nice seeing them, knowing we are not completely alone out here.

We just finished a delicious coleslaw salad lunch. The cabbage has held up very nicely. Our apple supply is also doing well. We moved almost all the apples into our outdoor nets which should help prolong their freshness even more. And we still have a nice supply of fresh tomatoes. Buying them completely green was a smart move as now they are just about ripe.

Today marks our two week anniversary of being at sea. It seems the second week went by faster than the first. Hopefully the third week will also go by fast enough. We are definitely looking forward to making landfall. Our friends on another boat who arrived about a month ago are waiting for us and keep emailing with tantalizing information about the islands.

Pacific Puddle Jump 2011
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