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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.
And the most valuable crew member award goes to.......
07/13/2012, out in the Pacific

Rick*, our Monitor windvane.

I honestly don't know how anyone can cross oceans without one. We've had the luxury of having an extra crew member (in the form of a windvane) since our first ocean passages aboard Cassiopeia. They are actually better than an extra crew member because they can stay at the job 24 hours a day and require no food or sleep, yet they perform the most arduous duties on board -- steering the boat in the right direction. And they seem to do a better job than the human crew.

His cousin Otto (the autopilot) is a great help to, but he requires power so to utilize his services we need to run the engine or he'll drain the batteries in a hurry. But in times of no wind, when Rick can't do his job, Otto is the man of the hour.

With a windvane at work steering the boat it allows all the other crew to take care of other tasks and to eat and sleep without someone always having to be behind the wheel. And steering a boat on the ocean in the winds and seas we're having is difficult at best and very wearing, so with Rick at the helm doing the toughest job on the boat, we are able to take care of everything else much easier. Thank you Rick!

* It seems all cruisers are want to give a name to their windvanes to recognize them as the crew member that they truly are. Monty is a common one for Monitor windvanes and others have named them after family members that they wish were sailing with them. Our windvane on Cassiopeia was a Navic windvane (designed for smaller boats) and when the salesman sold it to us the said it was like a Ford compared to a Monitor which is the Cadalac. So, since it was a Ford we called it Gerald. We've chosen to call Cetus's windvane Rick, after the fictional character in Terry's books.

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07/13/2012 | Kay
We called our Monitor steering Mad Max. Boy oh boy did we appreciate Max.
07/14/2012 | Becky Flannigan
we call our Hydrovane "Bo" as its a perfect 10 in our book.
07/17/2012 | Dianne
We call ours Kevin as it was designed by Kevin fleming. We also gave ours the "Most Valuable Crew Member" award on every passage. See we read your blog.
07/20/2012 | Mike
Our Monitor is Murray. Murray the Monitor. Best crew we've ever had aboard. See our blogs on the subject, sailblogs sv Gypsy Wind 41
Ride Ride Ride the Wild Surf
07/12/2012, out in the Pacific

The winds have picked up to the predicted 20+ knots from the ESE so its making for a great ride aboard Cetus. Since it is downwind sailing we do have to deal with a little side to side rocking, but having the seas coming from behind us giving us that extra little push as we surf down the waves is a nice feeling after those three days of bashing into the same type of seas.

We've got sun and blue sky with lots of white puffy clouds now instead of the ugly grey squally weather that came with those NW winds. Nothing quite as nice as trade wind sailing. And we're finally making some mileage good to our destination of Moorea and put 109 miles under our keel yesterday. Right now we have 341 miles to go -- yipeeee!

So all's well aboard Cetus and we're enjoying the ride.

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Fasten your seatbelts
07/11/2012, out in the Pacific

and make sure your tray tables are in the up and locked position.

That's what's going on aboard Cetus today. Our weather forecasts have been right on the money in predicting the end of the NW onslaught and we've watched the winds clock around from the NW to W to SW then South (last night) and shifting SSE so far today. It will continue moving around until we have the typical SE to ESE trade winds -- just what we've been hoping for. Today has been a very pleasant sail with the winds and seas behind us now and we've been moving along at about 5 knots.

We've been busy though, because the forecast is saying the wind speeds will increase through Saturday so we want to be prepared. Since it will be behind us its nothing like what we had to deal with when it was right on our nose. But with bigger winds come bigger seas, so I wanted to get as many meals prepared ahead of time as possible, so if it gets a bit rocky and rolly all I'll have to do is throw a pre made foil wrapped meal in the oven and voila -- a nice warm meal without a lot of mess. I also baked up the last of the cookie dough so we should be able to have our night watch cookie for the rest of the trip.

We also changed out our main sail for our storm tri sail, so we won't have to worry about any accidental jibes when the wind comes from our stern. It also works better downwind than the regular main because it is smaller and doesn't block the wind to the front sails.

So we're all set and ready to go and ready to makes some miles on the last leg of this slow trip.

Today was our Half Way Day! We have 450 miles left of the 900 miles between the Gambiers and Moorea. We hope the second half doesn't take as many days.

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Thank the Lord for the nightime...
07/10/2012, out in the Pacific

Forget the day.. Neil Diamond summed up this passage pretty well with that line. After our great sail on the first day, we've had terrible daytime weather forcing us to go off course when we couldn't beat into it any longer. But, every evening about sunset, the winds would die and the seas settle down enabling us to finally proceed in the right direction. The winds have been very light the past 3 nights, so we've run the engine at a very low speed to help us make a little progress in the light winds before morning would bring the big winds and seas back. And it allowed us to get some rest. So we've been very thankful every evening to get a reprieve from the onslaught of the NW winds.

The past 3 days have been the worst we've ever had to deal with on a passage and yesterday was the worst of all when the winds built to 30 knots and the seas became too difficult to bash into and we had to turn south (we're trying to head NW the direction of the wind). Rather than go too far off our course we decided to hove to, which is a way to back your sails and kind of park the boat in one spot. You do drift back slowly, but pretty much you hold your position until conditions turn to your favor and you move on. That worked out well and once the nighttime calm settled in about 6:00 pm we put her in gear and got going again.

These NW winds have been predicted -- but not on the forecasts we received before we left the Gambiers, and in later forecasts not in the strengths that we've seen. Even my nice Little House on the Prairie day turned into a miserable bash by afternoon. But even those little breaks help a lot.

Trying to deal with keeping close to our course while encountering weather on our nose is one thing, but it has been further complicated by the atolls we have to pass along the way. When we need to alter course to head a little off the wind, we often have to go a lot farther than we would so we'll pass an atoll to its south instead of to its north like our original route would take us. Luckily there are only about 4 atolls that we have to deal with and they are about 100 miles apart -- it would be much worse if we were up in the middle of the Tuamotus where there are many more and they are much closer together.

Our forecast for today called for an end to the NW winds and so far so good. We have some West winds, as predicted, that will be with us for a while until the wind backs down to the south and eventually to the ESE -- the long awaited trade winds that should push us the rest of the way.

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Back to the bash
07/09/2012, out in the Pacific

My Little House on the Prairie day didn't last long enough -- but I'm glad we at least had that reprieve. We had another good calm night (so far the nights have all been good) and we're able to sail along our planned course line -- until just after sunrise when the NW winds kicked back up. By this afternoon they we're back up to 20 -30 knots with sloppy seas so once again we had to change course so we wouldn't keep beating into the ugly stuff. Now we're just hoping to get one more good night because the forecast shows that the normal SE tradewinds should fill back in by Wednesday morning (we hope sooner) then we will finally be on our way.

But we're all doing fine -- Rosie has her sea legs back and is back to her usual self after the first few days of mostly sleeping. She is very disappointed though that there aren't any flying fish on the decks here -- in fact, we haven't seen flying fish since about 1.2 way to the Gambiers. Up until that we saw schools flying above the waves constantly and always had two or three on the deck each morning.

So on we go..... barely. 595 miles to go.

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07/11/2012 | Kokomo Denny
I just spent my morning catching up on your trip. Its funny how you can be enveuos of someone elses trip while enjoying your own. great stuff on the Galapagos and Gambler. look forward to the next time we cross paths S/V kokomo
What a difference a day makes!
07/08/2012, out in the Pacific

Well we still aren't breaking any speed records -- in fact today will probably be our worst day ever -- but the seas are smooth with sunny skies and light winds, so even though we aren't getting a lot closer to our goal, we are slowly and comfortably moving along and enjoying what I call a "Little House on the Prairie day".

With the easy conditions I can finally get to some of the chores on board and this morning I washed some laundry (they're out drying on the line right now), got caught up on my dishes (I let a few things pile up when the seas were sloppy) and even baked some cookies. The cookies were an easy deal as I made up a batch of dough and put it in the freezer so we could always have some fresh cookies for our night watches.

I first noticed the similarity between our life on the ocean and that of Laura Ingalls Wilder when we were first crossing the ocean with a six year old Carly. One of our pastimes when traveling was to read aloud during the day and the books we'd chosen were the Little House series. It was so interesting to read about Laura sitting in the wagon crossing the prairie looking out at the never ending fields of grass under a big blue sky -- we were doing the same thing only we had water as far as the eye could see. That, and the more labor intensive "chores" that you have out on a boat made us feel akin with the pioneers.

We made 80 miles good yesterday, though we traveled farther than that with going around atolls and altering course to avoid bashing into weather. The nasty weather of the day faded with the sun and we enjoyed a peaceful night and ran the engine at a low speed to help our progress, charge batteries and make water. Today we are very slowly sailing, but since the light winds are out of the NW -- the way we need to go -- we aren't cutting off a lot of miles. But it's pleasant and we hope to make up for the slow day when the typical SE trade winds finally return in a day or so.

644 miles to go! S 21 46 W 139 25

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YUCK
07/07/2012, out in the Pacific

We've had a less than perfect day today -- the winds seem to change to the direction we try to head -- throw in a couple big squalls that disrupt whatever you get going and it makes for a lot of work with changing course and changing sails and still not making much progress. We started out expecting light winds and smooth seas and we've gotten the light winds intermixed with 20 to 30 knot winds and sloppy, washing machine seas.

As I've said, the first 3 days of a passage are hard no matter how good the wind and seas, so throw in some yucky weather and it's really a challenge. But, we're safe -- there's no dangers, just not the nice comfortable downwind cruise one hopes for crossing the Pacific.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day......

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Ya get what ya get
07/06/2012, out in the Pacific

When we set out from the Gambiers yesterday morning armed with the latest Grib files and Bouy Weather reports we were prepared for a passage of light winds and some from contrary directions -- we don't know what's happened to the typical E or SE trade winds.

So we got extra fuel and planned on a slow cruise to Moorea (900 miles away as the crow flies) but we're delighted when the light NE winds yesterday were a little stronger than forecast and we had a nice sail under blue skies all afternoon and into the evening.

Then in the early morning hours the winds began changing more northerly and increasing to 20 to 30 knots, so we had to adjust our course so we would be passing south of the atolls that sit between us and our goal instead of north of them as we'd planned. Not only would it be hard beating into the increasing wind and seas, but we didn't want to be in the position of being blown off course into a low lying coral atoll. So now the wind and seas are following once again and we don't have to worry about trying to cut through an island on our way.

Years ago a fellow cruiser made the statement that "weather is a crap shoot" and it certainly is, for no matter how many sources you check and what they have to say, it doesn't really matter what you think will happen, cuz in the end you just get what you get and there's nothing you can do about it except adjust your sails and your course.

We are happy to have good wind and not have to rely on the engine and we're also happy with the 109 miles we made good yesterday. When life gives you lemons, just make lemonade.

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Westward Ho! On to Moorea!
07/05/2012, out in the Pacific

We left the Gambiers this morning for the 900 or so mile voyage to Moorea where we will meet back up with Vicky on Inspiration at Sea. Moorea is a mere 20 miles away from Tahiti and ithey are both part of the Society Islands of French Polynesia.

Forecasts are for light winds so we expect the trip to take 9 or 10 days. We've gotten off to a comfortable start and are moving along about 4 -5 knots under sail over smooth seas. It's a beautiful day out here as we watch the Gambiers fade into the horizon.

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Happy 4th of July!
it's Leave Eve!
07/04/2012, the Nukuhao comes to the Gambiers

We stepped outside to enjoy the beautiful sunrise this morning and we're delighted to see the supply ship winding its way through the well marked pass to the village.

Despite mixed messages about whether we would be able to purchase the fuel we wanted (some said you could only buy it in the 55 gallon drums) we, along with a few of the other cruising boats were able to get our jerry jugs filled at the dock. There was a flurry of activity at the pier as the stores and villages all came to the ship to pick up and buy supplies.

After successfully obtaining our diesel, we went to the Gendarme and checked out of Rikitea anticipating an early morning departure from this lovely little spot. Time to move on to the big city! We actually plan to go to Moorea to meet back up with Vicky on Inspiration at Sea before we hit the city lights of Papeete (on Tahiti), but the two islands are very close. We're really looking forward to seeing Moorea -- we never made it there in all the time we were in Tahiti 12 years ago and have heard from everyone that its a wonderful stop.

The Cetus Crew is going to Moorea!

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Terry in the convent
07/03/2012

exploring the ruins of an old convent -- one of the many coral stone buildings that the natives were forced to build under the tyranny of a Jesuit priest, Honore Laval, who came to the islands in 1834.

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07/04/2012 | Christine Watson
Any new tattoos yet?:)
A view from the hill
07/03/2012

A few days ago we enjoyed a walk along the road up a hill near town and visited the meteorlogique center and looked at the ruins of an old convent with some spectacular views along the way.

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Picture of the day
07/02/2012, a pearl farm floating on the crystal clear water

I haven't been able to upload pics into our photo gallery with this internet connection, so I'm just going to post a few of my favorites over the next few days while we busy preparing and provisioning for our next passage.

Right now the plan is to leave Thursday, July 5th and sail the 900 or so miles to Moorea/Tahiti.

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07/03/2012 | Kathleen Jones
Wow, that IS a gorgeous picture, Heidi. I love being a vicarious sailor, cruising along with you and Terry and Rosie! Have a happy 4th!
The Gambiers
07/01/2012, here's where we are.....

The Gambiers are a small group of islands surrounded by an outer protective barrier reef located at the southeastern end of the Tuamotu archipelago and the town of Rikitea on the island of Mangarava is a port of entry for French Polynesia. We are about 900 miles from Tahiti.

It is a bit off the beaten track and just a handful of cruising boats pass through here each year, most favoring the more traditional route of entering French Polynesia through the Marquesas to the north.

The land is lush, the village is nice, the lagoon is crystal clear and the anchorage protected and secure -- it's a lovely stop and we're enjoying our stay.

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Exploring the lagoon
07/01/2012, Mangarava, Gambiers

We had a beautiful, calm, sunny day yesterday so we got in the dinghy to check out our new back yard. We drove by the pearl farms with their buoys stung across the water and we were amazed at how crystal clear the water was as we'd pass over coral reefs.

We'd hoped to get all the way to the outer protective reef, but only made it as far as the end of this island, Mangarava before we decided we had to get in the water for a little snorkeling. It was a wonderland of so many kinds of coral and fish -- I think it was the clearest water we've ever snorkeled in.


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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..

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The Cetus Crew
Who: Terry & Heidi Kotas and Street Cat Rosie
Port: Gig Harbor, WA
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