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We left Gig Harbor, WA in 2009 and 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 are once again enjoying the Sea of Cortez as we plan our next adventure.
The Big Hike
07/23/2012, Moorea, French Polynesia

Yesterday Vicky played tour guide once again and we did the 3 Coconuts hike from the Belevedere Lookout -- it was spectacular!

It took 3 hours round trip and we hiked through ever changing forests -- including a section of giant bamboo. We did switchbacks and crossed streams -- a little bit of everything before emerging to a lookout on the ridge where you could not only see both bays on the north side of the island, but you could see the surfing beaches on the other side.

It was a challenge, simply because we haven't been hiking in so long since we've spent the better part of the last 2 months out at sea. It felt good to put those muscles to work again and we look forward to more walks and hikes before we leave Moorea.

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The unusual forest on the Big Hike

Some parts of the hike took us through forests of trees that we'd never seen the likes of before -- they had sides that wound like ribbons instead of round like a regular tree trunk. Fascinating.

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A little sight seeing

We started the morning tracking down some things for the boats, plus a little shopping for some souvenirs, then we visited the Tropical Gardens -- not too far from the boat.

It is a family farm where they grow a large variety of tropical fruits and plants and it is high in the hills with a gorgeous view. They make fresh fruit drinks and give you samples of the tasty jams they make with interesting combinations of their fruits. They also grow vanilla beans and they showed us how they have to pollinate the flowers by hand to produce the beans.

It was another interesting day and once again I'm exhausted. Need to get my rest because tomorrow is the big hike up the 3 Coconuts from the Belvedere Lookout!

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a few new pics

Now that I have some internet I have added a few pictures to the blog posts I made while underway on the passage from the Gambiers to Moorea. I hope to add some albums to our photo gallery soon, but until I do here are some glimpses into our voyage.

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The Island Tour
The Belvedere Lookout
07/21/2012, Moorea, French Polynesia

We rented a car with Vicky, who has been here since June 22nd and has driven around the island several times, so she was able to show us the sights. And a wonderful first look it was!

We circumnavigated Moorea stopping at the major highlights and ending up at the big Champion store where we did some good provisioning as the cupboards are getting bare after all our remote traveling.

Tomorrow we will do some more exploring and then on Sunday we'll drive back up to the Belvedere Lookout and do the 3 hr round trip hike to an even better lookout!

It's a beautiful island and we're happy to have an experienced tour guide to drive us around and show us the sights! Thanks Vicky!

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07/21/2012 | Gary
I have a photo of me at the Belvidere. I road a bike up to it ( have those photos too.!
This makes the melancholy in my heart go crazy... I miss this place so much.
A good day

We enjoyed a day of boat projects with a little snorkeling thrown in so all is well abroad Cetus.
Tomorrow we've reserved a car with Vicky and will do some provisioning as well as some good sight seeing and hiking too,.

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Settling in on Moorea

Still in the midst of getting Cetus back to normal after the difficult passage but we managed to get in some shore leave and picked up Vicky this morning and she guided us through the pass to the next bay over (Cooks Bay) where we tied the dinghy at the Bali Hai Hotel then walked to the nearby town, visiting some shops, a super marche (small store) and the bank machine.

It was a great adventure and now we have a good lay of the land -- and some cash to spend. Afternoon was spent on boat projects but we have snorkeling plans for tomorrow morning before we tackle some more cleaning/repair projects. It's a good mix of work and play and we're thoroughly enjoying this beautiful anchorage.

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Our new backyard
07/17/2012, Moorea! At last!

We pulled in and anchored in this beautiful spot Monday evening at 5 pm -- putting an end to the 11 day ordeal that the passage from the Gambiers had become.

After a warm welcome from Vicky on Inspiration at Sea we enjoyed a quick swim in the beautiful water surrounding the boat and then Vicky returned with food and drink and we swapped sea stories from all our passages since she left the Galapagos at the end of May. It was a wonderful reunion and she even brought camarones for Rosie!

A nice long comfortable sleep -- no more rocking and rolling! And we awoke to a beautiful morning and are now getting things back in order aboard Cetus.

Looking forward to enjoying this lovely spot on Moorea -- and I'll write more about the passage in the next blog.

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07/18/2012 | Sue & Larry
Congrats on making it to Moorea!!!
Moorea here we come!
land ho! Spotted Tahiti at dawn
07/15/2012, out in the Pacific

We're sailing again!

Terry was able to retrieve the sea anchor without any problems (though it was a difficult task) and we are under way with near perfect conditions at the moment comfortable following winds and seas moving along at 5 knots =just what we'd hoped for all along.

We waited till 3 this afternoon to pull in the anchor, because the seas and winds were lessening all day and that was the first that it looked doable. Now we're going into what looks to be a very comfortable night and only 120 miles to go.

It will be nip and tuck to see if we can make landfall tomorrow before dark, so we're expecting that we'll finally get our anchor down on Tuesday morning.

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Red sky at morning, sailor's take warning....
07/14/2012, out in the Pacific

and we did.

After 24 hours of running with our long awaited following wind and seas, that were growing to uncomfortable strengths and size, we took the advice of Lin and Larry Pardey from their book Storm Tactics and took a break by putting out our sea anchor to wait until conditions improve to continue on.

The sea anchor is an 18 foot parachute made specifically for this purpose by Para-Tech. We've actually used it twice before, but this was the first time we had to deploy it with just the two of us on board. It was a difficult decision to make as we were making good progress and only had 137 miles to go to our destination. But conditions were worsening and we felt that it was dangerous to continue on as waves were beginning to crash into us and our trusty copilot Rick was having a hard time maintaining the tight course needed to not get sideways to the seas. We planned it out during the night and just waited for daylight to perform the task, and the bright red sky of the sunrise told us we had made the right decision.

Terry carefully inspected and prepared all the gear and then threw the sea anchor with two buoys attached over the side and put out 350 feet of 1" nylon line followed by 100 feet of chain with our sentinal attached (a heavy weight we use with our anchor) to hold the line down in the sea. We then drifted back on it and voila, we are anchored at sea.

Due to the nature of the seas and swell, it is not as comfortable a ride as we had experience before with it, but we are happy to be out of any danger and able to rest and clean up the mess that Cetus has become in the last 48 hours. The forecast is for the wind and seas to gradually diminish over the next 2 days, so we'll have to wait and see what the conditions are like before we tackle the task of retrieving the parachute and getting under way again. The past two days our forecast has called for 18-25 knot winds, when in fact they were 25 to 35 with gusts as high as 47. We are still having winds in the 30's. And just as in the Sea of Cortez, it's not the wind speed that is the problem, it's what the seas become after a sustained period of high winds.

So that's our story for today. This short little passage from the Gambiers to Moorea has turned out to be the most difficult passage we've ever had.

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07/15/2012 | Jeanne Walker
hey you two...Just got into Santa Rosalia where we have wifi and can get caught up on your travels! Amazing, and the photos are awesome. Some day we might get up the stuff to leave Mexico and follow in your wake
Passage update
07/13/2012, out in the Pacific

Well, we're hanging in there being pushed along by 25 to 35 knot winds and surfing down 10 to 12 foot seas. These conditions are predicted to last thru tomorrow then start calming down. We have the storm trisail and stailsail up and Rick, our trusty windvane, is doing a fantastic job of steering the boat along. We have to jibe a bit because the wind is directly behind us on our intended course, so we're traveling farther than our miles made good. If we could steer a straight course we'd be there Sunday without a doubt.

Things did calm down a bit last night, and we're hoping for the same tonight. At least when it gets dark you can't see how big the seas are. We're very glad Cetus is such a sturdy little boat.

We made 110 miles good yesterday so now have only 204 miles to go! We really hope the timing works out that we can get in Sunday before dark, but we may not make it till Monday morning.

We must be almost there because we're almost out of cookies :)

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