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CETUS TALES
After leaving Gig Harbor, WA in 2009, we spent 3 winters in the Sea of Cortez then sailed to the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia up to Hawaii, then to San Francisco Bay. We're now heading down the coast on our way to La Paz.
The tear I had to repair
06/29/2012

I was lucky the fabric was still intact

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A little sail repair
Another in the the list of "things that work"
06/29/2012

On the long passage from the Galapagos to the Gambiers we saw the outer edge of the protective material on our roller furled Genoa was frayed and had come unstitched. Luckily the sail wasn't torn and the Sunbrella fabric was still intact so it was just a mater of re stitching where the thread had come out.

So yesterday when the weather cleared and the winds died down we lowered the Genoa and I got out one of my favorite little tools in my sewing kit: the Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl. It's a handy and simple device that allows me to make machine type locked stitches without dragging out the big sewing machine. It's perfect for sewing through the heavy Sunbrella material and I've used it to repair the dodger and now it worked perfectly for this job as well.

I had about 6 feet I had to re stitch and it took me a couple hours, but it was pleasant sitting outside in the sun for the first time since our arrival and finally getting it taken care of.

I would highly recommend that any boat keep one of these Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awls on board for easy repairs -- especially in the hot tropics since the threads on sail covers, dodgers and even sails deteriorate much quicker than the material and a quick repair can prevent a complete loss.

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what's that? the sun?
06/28/2012

When the sun finally burned through the grey clouds this morning -- after nearly a week of hiding -- we were treated to this beautiful rainbow arching across the anchorage.

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06/28/2012 | Gary Seiler
I was there one time and it rained for three straight weeks without stopping. Hope you missed that season. So good to hear from you and to see the photos. Nice to know someone is enjoying this life so splendidly.
When it's raining down in paradise..... there ain't nothing you can do
06/26/2012, Rikitea, Mangarava, Iles Gambiers

That's from a song by one of our favorite musicians, Gary Seiler, and we've been listening to it today as we're pretty boat bound due to incredibly nasty weather.

The system that was forecast that we raced to outrun on our way here hit Saturday afternoon and we've had 20 - 30 knot winds since then and today the rains came and added to the mix. Luckily, we had sunny skies when we came in Friday so we had a great first impression of Rikitea and had a nice stroll through town on Saturday before the winds got too bad. And we're glad to be here in this nice protected anchorage and not battling the elements out on the open sea.

We did go back in for a short visit yesterday and got some more baguettes and some fresh veggies and took our garbage in. But, today with the pounding rain we're enjoying a "boat day" and getting little projects done and saving the exploring for a nicer day.

We do have some internet access here, but it's a bit slow and its not free, so I've been able to post a few pics on the blog but haven't done too much and will still post my blogs remotely through the radio, then add pics online later on.

It may be raining now, but this too shall pass and then we'll get out and explore this beautiful island.

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and they have baguettes!
06/23/2012, Rikitea, Mangarava, Iles Gambiers

One of our favorite things about French Polynesia are the 3 foot long crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, inexpensive French baguettes -- they've been the staple of our diet every time we've been here. We weren't sure if they'd have them on this remote island, but when we made our first walk through town this morning we found them in a freezer in one of the little stores we peeked into. Hurray!

This is a lovely anchorage -- scenic and calm with beautiful blue water. And the village is very nice so it looks like we'll enjoy our stay here. The weather is a bit cool -- but it is winter, so I guess that should be expected.. I miss my penguins, but at least they have baguettes.

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06/24/2012 | jack
Glad you are anchor down..and enjoying the french bread.....enjoy your stay..we depart this morning..it is cool but expected to warm up this week..
Looks like a bash to the end
06/21/2012, out on the deep blue sea

We covered a lot of ocean last night when the winds turned NE and we were able to move along at 5.5 knots on our course line with no more jibing back and forth and we were thrilled at our daily 24 hour report to have only 99 miles to go! That would get us in at a good time on Friday maneuver in through the pass and up to the anchorage at Rikitea.

But shortly after that .squally grey skies moved in and the winds got fluky then changed to the SW, along with the seas, so we've been bashing to weather the rest of the day. So far the winds aren't strong or the seas big so we are still moving at an OK rate. If it doesn't get worse than this we should still make it in on Friday .... but that's a big IF.

Our forecast last night gives us hope this is it and any bigger wind and seas won't be in the area until Sunday, but weather forecasts aren't exact by any means -- you pretty much get what you get no matter what they say. So we'll plug along hoping for the best, but it's going to be a long night ahead always waiting to see what will happen.

Hopefull my next post will be from the lovely anchorage off Rikatea, Mangarava, in the Gambiers and not out on the deep blue sea.

Happy first day of summer to all our friends north of the equator!

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Stratagizing
06/20/2012, out on the deep blue sea

So we have a little over 200 miles to go so we could easily be there by Friday, but we have to be there early enough in the day on Friday so that the sun is high in the sky for negotiating the coral pass in to the island group and then up to the anchorage off the village of Rikatea. So it's a tight one, because if we don't get there with enough light we just have to hang out off the islands for another night -- and believe me that makes for a very long night at the end of a long passage. We had to do that 20 some years ago when we sailed to Bora Bora and that was only 18 days from Fanning Island.

Since the wind is still on our tail so we have to jibe back and forth we've only been making a little over 100 miles per day for the last few days and we're trying to improve that number to ensure getting in on Friday so in addition to paying close attention to timing the jibes we've turned on the engine to augment our speed. Just a half a knot difference in our moving average will make or brake us on this one.

Up until last night we weren't too concerned if we got in on Friday or Saturday, but we heard there is a weather system moving into the area with strong south winds and seas. Our forecasts show it hitting that area on Sunday, so we'd really like to be tucked in to a nice anchorage for that, since the south winds would be pretty much right on our nose. So the race is on! Who will reach the Gambiers first, Cetus or the weather system?

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06/20/2012 | Carey
Cetus wins no problem, GO CETUS!
299 miles to go
06/19/2012, out on the deep blue sea

We always mark with excitement when the GPS clicks down breaking into a new hundreds bracket -- we look at 299 as if its only 200 which would be only 2 days to go! Anything is cause for celebration at this point in the passage and we have our bets made as to time and date we make landfall -- guesses we made on the day we set sail from the Galapagos.

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Slowly but surely
06/18/2012, out on the deep blue sea

With our change in wind direction we are sailing but not making as much progress as we'd like. The winds are now from the ENE and we are traveling WSW which puts it right on our stern -- not Cetus's best point of sail. So we need to jibe back and forth across our course line to keep the wind on our stern quarter, so we are sailing more miles than we are making in forward progress.

But at least we have wind and are still moving, And we did make our 100 miles yesterday so we are still on track to get in on Friday or Saturday. The seas are bigger than they have been, but they are on our stern too so not uncomfortable -- and the sun is out so all is well on Cetus.

We've always said the worst days of a long passage are the first 3 (when you're adjusting) and then the last 3 -- when you're so close but it seems like its taking forever to get there -- it's like being a kid and trying to live through Christmas eve with the excitement of Christmas day filling your head.

399 miles to go.

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rain, rain go away....
06/17/2012, out on the deep blue sea

Since our encounter with the big squall Friday night we have had little to no wind, grey skies and lots and lots of rain. Yesterday morning I thought we were in the Pacific Northwest!

Our forecast still promises some good winds from the NE are coming and we've had a few false starts only to have the wind die away once we had the sails and the windvane all set. We ran the engine for the longest stretch yet and finally turned it off after 24 hours of motor sailing As I type this. the sun is just starting to peek out from behind the grey clouds and the wind is slowly building. Luckily we had great sailing for the first two weeks, so we have enough fuel that we could motor the rest of the way there if need be. But we certainly hope that's not the case.

Despite the yucky weather we celebrated Father's Day with a nice pancake breakfast and will end the day with some pepperoni pizza.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads.

499 miles to go!

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06/18/2012 | gloria spoon
What a wonderful trip we are all having...I just feel like I am aboard the cetus
Squalls are like a box of chocolates....
06/15/2012, out on the deep blue sea

you never know what you're going to get. You can see them approaching whether on the horizon or on the radar -- a big dark blob that can bring with it wind or rain or both or nothing at all... you just have to wait and see when it envelopes you.

Until last night the squalls we encountered were very mild -- a few sprinkles was all they seemed to produce. But last night we ran into one that was the whole package wind and rain and lots of both. Luckily we changed down to our storm trisail before dark because we could see some dark clouds on the far horizon, so when the big cloud snuck up on us there was no problem, we just got a little wet.

It was a dark night, the moon is just a sliver and doesn't even rise until 4 in the morning now, so I didn't see the form in the blackness, so when the wind suddenly started picking up from a new direction it took me by surprise. But, as I said we'd luckily taken down the main sail and had the storm trisail in its place so the boom was secured and didn't go crashing around with the new wind direction. It dumped some rain on us, but we stayed dry under the dodger and Cetus got a well deserved rinse down.

The worst part of the squall was that after it passed it had stolen all our nice wind and we had to motor sail to keep on moving. Then this morning brought gray skies and flat windless seas, so we are continuing to motor, but it looks like the winds should fill in by night fall.

What will tonight bring? 599 miles to go!

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The other side of the story...
06/15/2012, out on the deep blue sea

For the 1st 18 days of this passage the winds have come primarily from the SE with little bits from the ESE and occasionally E, and since we are sailing SW we have gone along on the same heel (or slant) for the entire trip simply adjusting sails for the varying strength of wind with no tacking or jibbing involved. It's pretty nice to stay that way because you get used to what cupboards you can open or where you can leave something setting without it falling off the counter or where you can sit comfortably. Well, that all changed today.

We knew it was coming because our Buoy Weather Passage Forecast that we get every day through our Winlink email showed the winds switching to NE -- and after our lull in the wind yesterday they started picking up in the night -- just as predicted from the NE. It was a gentle transition as the winds slowly built in strength and we are now moving along at a decent pace and on a good course, just having to adjust to the new angle of our little world.

Some things are more comfortable on this heel, just as some things are more awkward so neither one is necessarily better than the other, just different. Now I have to be careful when I open the fridge because the contents want to come out the door if we're heeled over very far and it's a bit harder to brace myself in the chart table seat to type on the computer. Rosie is going to have to find a whole new set of favorite places to curl up so she doesn't go sliding across the floor with a wave. But after a day of this it will seem normal, too.

699 miles to go!

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As Time Zones Go By
06/14/2012, out on the deep blue sea

It's a funny thing about time out here on the ocean, it's much different than on land. On land when you travel you are always aware of changing time zones -- there are clocks everywhere. Or when you fly you are also very aware of the change in zones because you have to have your watch right so you can get where you're going on time.

But when you set off on an ocean passage your clocks are set for whatever time zone you're in when you leave and sometimes stay that way the whole time -- we call it ship's time. Then when you get where you're going you just adjust accordingly. The time on the clock is pretty meaningless on a passage other than to mark changing of night watches or to record and plot your position at given intervals The one exception to this is for radio schedules, but they are always set using UTC (aka Greenwich Mean Time) because that's the only way to coordinate times with people spread across several time zones. So we always have one clock set to UTC.

We've been happily going along using our ship's time from the Galapagos but the farther we go west the later the sun is setting and the later it is rising -- today it didn't come up until 8 o'clock so we decided to make a two hour time change to our ship's time so that our night watches will better coordinate with the actual night.

800 miles to go!

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The ever changing sea
06/13/2012, out on the deep blue sea

After nearly 2 weeks of really consistent weather we've hit a patch for the last two days that is keeping us on our toes. The winds have lightened up, so we have to actually do a little work and make some sail changes now and then instead of just going along for the ride like we did for so long -- we were getting spoiled.

We've done some motor sailing when the winds dropped real low and it would be easy to lapse into that to keep it simple, but we still have a ways to go and a limited amount of fuel (plus the engine noise can drive you crazy) so we're putting up more sail and then taking it down when the winds come back up or we see an approaching squall.

The seas vary from fairly smooth to moderately lumpy and if we can get the boat moving through the water at a decent speed it cuts down on the rocking and rolling. So we watch the horizon and study the forecasts and keep ourselves busy trying to anticipate the wind and seas to keep things as comfortable as possible on the good ship Cetus.

900 miles to go.

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999 miles to go!
06/12/2012, out on the deep blue sea

It's a huge boost to morale when the miles to go finally drops into 3 digits, so we're celebrating tonight when the GPS clicks down from the 1000 mile mark.

We are currently motor sailing, as the winds are light and the seas smooth and since we've had such great wind to this point we have plenty of fuel. The winds are forecast to pick up a little tomorrow, but will still be less than the 15 - 20 knot trade winds we were enjoying for so long. We're hoping they'll return by the end of the week to give us that final big push to the Gambiers.

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Valley of the Squalls
06/11/2012, out on the deep blue sea

As we slowly cross the ocean we always feel as you do when you travel cross country, like you pass through different areas -- mountains or hills when the swell is big or valleys and prairies when they are flat. Today we hit a flat area that was dominated by squalls and our whole world took a different look than its had for the past 14 days.

We really expected to get more squalls than we've had -- it's the nature of the South Pacific and friends that went before us seemed to have a lot more, so we feel very lucky. And even the squalls we've had beginning last night have been very mild. So far no heavy downpours or crazy winds, these have just been sprinklers that seem to steal the wind and make things very calm. It's been a lot of motor sailing today, but since the winds have been so good up to this point we have plenty of fuel so we can use the engine to keep us moving till the winds fill back in.

And we're anxious to keep a good pace because we're very close to getting under the 1000 miles to go mark and that will be a big boost when we see the mileage to go on the chart plotter as 999. Already the skies are clearing and the wind is beginning to return -- should be another good night at sea.

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It's bread day!
06/09/2012, out on the deep blue sea

We left the Galapagso 12 days ago and just this morning we used the last of the bread that we bought there at the little bakery, so it was time to dig out the flour and the bread pans and make some bread.

Luckily I learned a pretty simple recipe from another cruiser 12 years ago . You just put all the dry ingredients in a big bowl (flour, salt, sugar, yeast) and mix them all together then add your hot water and mix. That eliminates having to get the perfect temperature water to start the yeast -- less work and less bowls.

If you use a large enough bowl (I have a big Tupperware bowl) you can then just use some flour and kneed it right in the bowl -- again less mess than the traditional method. I then turn it into a different greased bowl to let it rise, but you could just leave it in your big mixing bowl to cut down on clean up, too.

After it rises,punch it down put it in the loaf pans or make rolls or buns, let them rise and then bake. For pizza crust just spread it in the pan after you punch it down -- no need to let it rise -- and bake it for about 10 minutes before putting on the toppings.

Here's the basic recipe: 3 cups flour 1 T sugar 1 tsp salt 1 pkg. yeast (rapid rise if you have it) 1 1/2 cups water (or other liquid) 1 T oil

Baking time depends on what you're making, but my loaves usually are good after 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

This makes i loaf or 2 pizza crusts. I double the recipe when doing loaves so I can make 2. You can use any type of flour and you can substitute other dry ingredients (oats, bran, etc) for some of the flour and you can use milk or other liquids in place of some or all of the water) and honey can replace the sugar

Nothing quite as nice as fresh bread cooking -- a real treat in the middle of a long passage.

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Congratulations Inspiration at Sea!
06/08/2012, Fakarava Atoll, Tuamotus, French Polynesia

Today Vicky along with crew Jeremy on board Inspiration at Sea completed their 30 day passage from the Galapagos to one of our favorite atolls in the Tuamotu Archipelago, Fakarava.

They did a fine a job in a wide variety of wind, sea and weather conditions. They successfully took care of all the minor problems that always crop up on a cruising boat on a passage of that magnitude. We were able to talk to them daily on the SSB radio and felt like we were riding through the highs and lows of the passage roller coaster with them. We're happy they had such a successful passage and wish them a relaxing time in Fakarava where they were met by Vicky's daughter (Jeremy's girlfriend) Melanie.

We look forward to meeting back up with Inspiration at Sea in Tahiti after our visit to the Gambiers as we continue our cruise through French Polynesia and then up to Hawaii.

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Hurray Hurray We are Halfway!
06/08/2012, Out on the open ocean

1444 miles down, 1444 miles to go! Still great wind and seas -- all's well on Cetus.

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Ocean crossings, marathons and birthing babies
06/06/2012, Out on the open ocean

When asked what an ocean crossing is like I've often replied that I think it's a lot like running a marathon or giving birth -- they are all things that people purposefully set out to do and even dream, plan, prepare for and look forward to. And they all can be at times the hardest and the scariest thing you've ever done in your life too. Actually with giving birth the hardest, scariest times come about 13 to 20 years later.... just kidding Carly :)

As I said before, ocean passages are a real roller coaster of highs when the wind and seas are right and you've got dolphin playing off the bow or you catch a good fish, enjoy the beautiful nights and sunrises and sunsets or lows when the wind dies, comes from a bad direction or the seas get sloppy or uncomfortable making it hard to do normal tasks. And so the runner might "hit the wall" during their long awaited race, or the mother suddenly feels in the middle of labor that she just wants to quit and go home and the sailor will ask themselves "what the heck am I doing out here?" longing for a calm anchorage to retreat to even though there isn't one for hundreds or thousands of miles.

But once the big event is over, the race run, the baby born or the anchor down the feeling of accomplishment is so good and overwhelming that any negative feelings are soon forgotten and you think, "Wow! That was so cool, I want to do it again!"

And like all good sailors Terry and I seem to have short memories, so here we are out here again!

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The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
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