05/22/2012, Kokonut Beach Cafe, Honiara, SI
Today we moved off the mooring ball in front of the YC and anchored instead. We weren't sure it was feasible to anchor in the little harbor, but we managed to anchor on the side of the channel and the direction we are hanging now has us over 14 feet of water above the reef and after so much deep sea and 90' deep in Majuro it's kinda freaky! It's a little nerve wracking too with the way the local boats drive, they are exactly like the pangueros in Mexico, high speed but these guys stop short of the beach where the Mexicans would drive right up onto it! The wind is switched to the NE and apparently the fetch built up with it and we are now rolling from side to side much like the anchorage in La Cruz de Huantacaxtle, so hope it becomes offshore or we'll all be seasick...
After anchoring we were able to complete the customs and immigration check in and payments, and Noortje, the boys and I went to the giant fruits/vegetable market where we had anchored the first night, and it was awesome. I felt right at home and the people may have been gawking at us as we really stood out, but we just smiled like it was Fiji again and had a very good selection of lettuce, mini capsicum (bell pepper), cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, many other kinds of greens, banana, cocos, papaya, tangerines, green oranges, green lemons, pineapple, watermelon, and potatoes. We feasted tonight on lots of it already! YUM. After the market we unloaded at the boat and went along the shoreline to the Kokonut Beach Cafe where we had lunch yesterday and the boys came prepared to swim there along with hundred of other kids who come to swim after school on the pier, and they were immediately befriended. They swam with some other kids to the dolphin pen and were quite thrilled with the dolphin that floated in front of them (they were separated by a double fence) and whistled and chattered at them. The boys clapped their hands and all the local kids clapped, and we suggested they swim like dolphins and they all started dolphin kicking, and we thought the dolphins might feel frisky if the kids splashed around a bit so a big water fight ensued...looked like fun for both sides. We thought the dolphins must be bored but there are so many kids swimming out there that they must notice all the noise and action!
We heard there is supposed to be a beauty contest at the YC tomorrow night, so that ought to be an interesting night out for the girls' last night with us. They fly to Fiji at 0615 Thursday morning and we will definitely miss their smiling faces and their helping hands, but it will be good to get back to a little bit of a school routine with the boys, although we were able to do some school on the smooth passage for once! They have been willing to try any task put to them, and came up with some personal touches for Love Song that will remind us of them long after they are gone.
We will set up some field trips to the war memorials for the weekend, and had some good advice from some Aussies that lived here for several years and are back visiting. They had lots of insider info. we can't wait to check out.
05/20/2012, 28 hours from landfall
WE'RE HERE! We actually arrived Saturday morning into the large bay on the NE side, Indispensible Strait, and when everyone was up and had breakfasted, we dropped the sails (which were flogging anyways) and we all jumped overboard! We swam and swam until we were tired, then motored off to explore the shoreline of the Florida Islands. We didn't plan on going that way, but didn't want to arrive at Guadalcanal in the dark, so we chose to amble along and try going through a couple of passes like a shortcut through the small Florida Is. group. A local man came out to greet us in his dugout canoe, very friendly and invited us to his village where there is a mooring ball, however it didn't work out to go through the pass there because there was a giant current ripping and we didn't want to loose steerage. Through the turbulent water where we wanted to go was a giant ship lying on its side along shore...so we moved on. We said goodbye to the friendly man and motored into another cove, with an entire dozen elevated grass huts and several people that lined the beach to watch us. Another local in a dugout (there were several fishing from the dugouts along the shorelines)came to tell us that this place was not for safety. He mentioned this several times so this time we abandoned anchoring and decided to drift for the night. We motored out to the middle of the bay and drifted south 10 miles between the Florida Is. and Malaita Is. and each of us stood our watch.
Today was an incredible day in the bay, with whales spouting off our port side after breakfast, a giant bull dorado striking fish off our starboard side shortly after and unfortunately turning his nose up at our lures! He was so close to the surface we could see his marvelous purple fins, yellow tail, and rainbow body as he repeatedly passed around the boat. Spectacular! After that we started motoring to our destination and encountered several pods of lounging around dolphins, who turned to swim in our bow and one show off blasted THREE times into the air higher than the bow and boggled our minds! It was AWESOME!
Now we are anchored in front of two churches on the other side of the pier, next to a giant fuel tanker. There was singing wafting down to us from the Sunday night services, and we've got the dogs tied up on the cabin tops to keep watch tonight. We are counting on them to do their guard dog duties! Tomorrow we will check in and do a little exploring. Looks like a slice of paradise...and lots of WWII leftovers to check out as well.
Thanks for your prayers and support! Kathy, Allen, Morgan, Wyatt, Sylvia and Noortje, D&D
05/17/2012, 28 hours from landfall
By now we have nearly motored more than sailed on this trip, rather unusual...but a bonus on the slow side of things is that Noortje and Sylvia wanted to go swimming behind the boat! That meant that they double clipped their tethers the boat and jumped in. One to two knots is almost a standstill when you're onboard, but when you're dragging behind it's surprising, enough to rip your bikini off! So we took lots of pictures of them and then everyone else had a turn and they took pictures of us, and it was quite refreshing. Unfortunately now we all have goofy sunburns outlining where our harnesses fit! FUNNY.
Yesterday there was a bonus of a wahoo that we caught on the meat hook out back. It made for a delicious dinner last night and scraps for the dogs lunch today. YUMMY! And every day here the sunrises and sunsets are so remarkable, we sit around after dinner and ooh and ahh and look for recognizable shapes in the clouds. The only bummer is that we are burning up a lot of fuel motoring, and it ain't cheap anywhere anymore.
You wouldn't believe the handiwork that's been going on around here, with Noortje and Sylvia actually hand stitching the new porthole screens and then embroidering them with the boys' names and little rainbows and coconut trees, and Love Song's name on the others. I'm sure we could enter the state fair competition and win a blue ribbon or two! I have been helping Morgan, who is also "embroidering" on a large linen print of various types of ships (schooner, sloop, Indies Trader etc...) and he's really into it. Wyatt has been hole punching paper plates that he paints on and weaving ribbon through the holes. Hey, anything goes out here when you're listening to the boom slap back and forth clankety clank and we're just trying to maintain our sanity!
So, it appears that we will arrive on a Friday after dark, so we may have to slow down anyways or tuck into someplace remote in order to avoid overtime fees for weekend, as the one hour time change that we'll lose won't matter much in the big picture. Don't know what ISP will be like on Guadalcanal, but guess we'll find out pretty quick! It's still hard to believe we're going someplace new again, FINALLY! Kind of exciting, really.
Stay tuned for more to come...from Love Song crew
Looks like my lucky mother's day at sea won't include the equator crossing after all, since we've not had much wind today and all bets are off. We estimated 4pm, 5pm, 7pm and will actually cross around 1am or 2am. Oh well. It's the first time Noortje's ever crossed, so she wants to celebrate regardless.
We had a great breakfast this morning, cinnamon raisin french toast with real maple syrup and boy was it good! As soon as we finished we all heard a noise and turned to see what it was and it was a helicopter! The purse seiners use helicopters as their spotters, flying over the water looking for birds which indicate fish below. So they came straight at us and it was very strange, so we all got outside with our tethers and they circled us several times and hovered just aft of us and we kept waving and shrieking and clapping...very exciting! They motioned talking on a phone so I signaled back 1 finger and 6 fingers for channel 16. Allen talked to them and the pilot was an American, on the ocean for the last 6 months and heading home to Utah soon. Noortje took a video and some awesome pix.
The boys and Noortje worked on a secret Mother's Day gift, a picture frame that they colored and wrote on, with a picture that she took last week sailing to Eneko, of the whole family on deck - dogs included, with all the sails up. She also printed up a pack of other pictures as a gift. Very nice!
So, time for bed, and I still have to dig out the party wigs for the crossing party...
Love Song is departing the RMI, headed West bound with a crew of 8!!!
Allen has installed a cutter rig so we have a new sail in addition to crew...the staysail will give us the opportunity to increase our speed and if weather's foul to use it as a storm sail to better balance out the boat. This was after a new deck paint job, bright yellow again to keep us alert! The new wind generator we brought back at Christmas has helped charge batteries for us nicely, we've just had to keep a "head's up" awareness in order to keep from decapitating anyone. We did have a scare with my SUPB (stand up paddle board) a month or two back, when it was tied to the rail to drain and a gust of wind blew it up, and luckily it missed the new wind generator but beat the heck out of a solar panel and ended up punctured with about 20 holes and gashes of various sizes! The guys on Windward/Indies' Trader vessels that Allen worked with were able to patch it up and paint it a new and better blue instead of that Pepto Bismol Pink.
Kathy thinks this trip to the Solomons will be the best ever with the help of the 2 new crew girls... Provisioning has never been so productive and efficient, it's so nice to have teammates that pick up where you didn't mean to leave off and finish it without being asked! Homeschooling has taken a back seat, although the boys have been able to help label cans with permanent markers and do small tasks like good delivery boys with tools for their dad. They do best if a pile of work is set before them and they don't feel left out when they're in the midst of all the hustle and bustle but busy in their own right. It was really special to have long emails from Morgan when I was in Hawaii for ten days. I am indebted to the friends who take me in and haul me around day and night, take me sight seeing, and spend hours visiting.
Morgan turned 8 in April, which seemed like a zoo with the birthday party aboard at Eneko with 9 kids from Coop School and the neighborhood. He was really happy, and we're glad the countdown is over for the next 11 months I hope! Easter was the next day and the crew girls were there along with other friends to help dye, decorate and hide eggs. It was all downhill after that with the super flu that knocked their heads for a loop with days of fever and headache, and a cough that lingered on and on. I resisted but finally lost the battle but was well in time for my trip to Honolulu and Kauai for my neice's wedding.
Wyatt is the gung ho motivater around here, always wanting to go to shore to ride his bike or go "pulling" on the surfboards behind the dinghy. He is standing up on the board and when they go doubles, side by side, it's really impressive! He also throws out random names for the yoga poses they learned from a kids' yoga program and says he must do his brain gym before he begins his schoolwork. We take turns twirling a jumprope on the foredeck and chanting rhymes, which is a real blast to the past but in an unusual setting! They're even good enough to run in, jump and sing, and run out without missing a beat.
The boys and Allen managed to survive my absence with a little help from Noortje, who is from the Netherlands and just happens to be a PE teacher in Aruba! She is 28 years old and a lot of fun! She moved into Wyatt's room a couple of weeks ago and helped with schooling and some cooking until I returned. She is a kite surfer and is planning on flying to Fiji with Sylvia, the other crew, to find some nice kite surfing before returning to her job in Aruba after a 3 month leave.
Sylvia is from Belgium where she was in the Army, and she is 38 years old and has crewed on several boats. She just came from French Polynesia and has been my right hand woman with grocery shopping! With their help the watch system will be made much easier, with everyone standing 3 hours but allowing a longer stint of sleep except for the 2-5am watch in which sleep is split. Sylvia has my kudos for doing the dishes, and Noortje has made some traditional Dutch dishes to freeze and eat underway!
So, the route in a nutshell is a month in the Solomon's, a month in PNG, a couple of months in Indonesia, and then we'll make our way to Thailand with stops in Malaysia at Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in the Malacca Straits. Even we need maps for these places! We will have to tie Dulce up at night to keep her from going ashore, as there will be crocodiles in some places, and she has been jumping overboard and swimming to the beach at Eneko when we're there on the weekends! We don't know what she does, but she made friends with some pigs there and maybe she snuggles up with them?! One night she swam back but only climbed into the dinghy to have to spend the night there on the hard bench! FUNNY little dog.
We have the links for tracking our position on Yotreps and will try to post to the sailblogs.
http://www.sailblogs.com search for Love Song
Yotreps is Yacht postition reporting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/yotreps/reporter_list.php?pd=52 scroll down list for past two weeks for WDA4372 and select it (it's in alphabetical order) and then select track (for tracking our vessel).
Hello again from the Marshall Islands.
We celebrated our first Thanksgiving ever aboard Love Song this year, giving special thanks for our health (and hip hip hurrah to our nutritionist sister in law for her expertise in optimizing health), the luxury of this lifestyle to blow with the wind one way or another, for keeping the big girl intact and afloat, and for being able to SKYPE with our families back home. We can't imagine sailing around like this without the link of the internet to reunite us ocassionally. We have been back here for nearly a month after a late start from Fiji to rebuild the transmission, and as you'll read further down, we are so thankful to be here in one piece, boat included! We also had a great Veteran's Day weekend, celebrating with some US Army personnel as well as a very interesting young man from the CDC, all here to combat the dengue outbreak. We invited them out to Eneko for the day onboard Love Song, and despite a steady drizzle, they snorkeled and made a great day out of it. Such a pleasure hosting them!
Majuro has welcomed us back to the daily grind, which is getting to be a real shocker the more time off is taken in between! We're fortunate to find work abroad when we know thre are so many people without jobs. We had thought this would be the year to go west from Fiji, but we had reached a cut off point on the bank account that declared go back to work. We realized it's prudent to have an emergency reserve since God is our only insurance and reassurance, although we were tempted to throw even more caution to the wind and take it down to the last penny just to see what would happen! So, working we are! If we start feeling sorry for ourselves, which seems like every other day, we know we are once again testing life's continuous lesson to love one another and to learn to be content wherever we are!
It's really strange that the work that has landed in my lap happens to be PE related, the subject I majored in another lifetime ago! I was invited to help in the professional development of the PE teacher at Majuro Cooperative School and create a PE curriculum. Work for me presents the problem of what to do with the boys though, but the principal and second grade teacher graciously allowed Morgan into class, and Wyatt enrolled with our favorite Fijian, Ms. Mere, in Kindergarten. This is supposed to be a three week contract, with the bonus being their participation in the Holiday Show. They're singing these cute little jingles, and the bummer for me is that I can't get the jingles out of my head! I have also applied for a job as the Coordinator of PE, Recreation, and Sports at College of the Marshall Islands, so if that job becomes a reality then I supposed home schooling will be shelved for the time being and the boys would continue at Coop. Time will tell! The thought of full time in a world of academia is rather intimidating, and makes me yearn for a marina, a car, and a mall without students to distract myself...
Morgan is thrilled to be back with his classmates, although he has trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Riding to school is old hat to him by now, and it's an entire family caravan, like keeping our little ducks in a row, for Allen to bring up the rear while I weave our family around traffic, puddles, dogs, and pedestrians. He's paired up to sing and dance with Iris for the Holiday Show, the same tall, skinny girl who he had to dance with in Kindergarten and whom he thinks despises him. He's informed us that he no longer has a yearning for his horse tail braided former flame, Hindi Indian Bharati, but adores little Taiwanese Catherine "with her perfect little face and haircut". One new friend in the fleet, an American boy age 6 from a catamaran, picked them up 5 minutes after we sailed in on Halloween and they trick or treated around the anchorages. They've made friends with three amazing girls who are here with their parents adopting a Marshallese baby brother, who will soon return home to Missouri for Christmas. Morgan also fell off the stern rail recently and cracked his forehead on the fiberglass, not literally but it was quite a whack, although his embarrassment was bigger than his bruise. We were grateful it didn't require anything more than ice, TLC, and arnica. He and Wyatt play well together, so full of laughter and silly business, and we are so thankful that they have each other.
Wyatt has always had to keep up with the big boys, and now he really is a big boy. He's reading, counting money, and needs a bigger bicycle! He makes up all kinds of songs, games like"Poisoner" (whatever that is?!), and declares he would rather be homeschooling. He falls instantly and deeply asleep every night, but for the first time in his life since they watched a rediculous "scary" movie called SHARKTOPUS with some little Fijian friends (they had permission to watch Free Willy), sometimes if he awakens during the night he crawls into bed with us. It was a long haul over the last 3 months trying to get them both over the fear of the dark and the water itself from that one lousy Japanese horror film!!! My darling boy also occasionally becomes what Morgan calls "a pimple station" with heat rashes, swim rashes, or reactions to sunscreen, so we try to scrub well and keep our hands off our faces as well as out of our mouths and noses! They were given a two season set of Gilligan's Island CD's last summer, and they LOVE it sooo much. It's pretty weird to have it on the TV knowing Allen and I watched it when we were kids. Unfortunately that song gets stuck in our heads too and the boys seem to sing it endlessly.
Allen has been back at work for Martin Daly, the Australian surf charter businessman, in between making repairs on Love Song from the passage and some heavy preventative maintenance! He's considereing going back to the skies in order to really put some dough away, but the immediate goal is to get us a little farther west next spring. So far he has refurbished the twin outboard motors on Martin's 24' power cat which is tied along side us. That's made it convenient for him to cross over the lifelines back and forth to get tools and water, or holler for any of his many assistants to get it for him! He will be fixing the power box to the wind turbine he installed last season, as the overzealous backhoe crew mangled the wiring and box in their attempts to resurface the flooded parking lot/driveway along the shoreline. OOPS! We were offered to Med moor (stern tie) to the shoreline and use the power of the wind turbine while the big boats are out on charter, but we are afraid to risk rats onboard (we've had them before) and would lose the cool breeze which is definitely necessary in 87 degrees and 100 percent humidity!
Sometimes it seems wetter than ever but we appreciate the full tanks of rainwater for plenty of baths for the boys, showers, laundry, or even bathing the dogs. Dallas must be part pig, because every time she swims ashore she rolls in the mud and gravel, much to our chagrin. For a labrador she still acts like she's dying if she's in the rain, but the little desert pixie, Dulce, prances through it happily. They've been pretty footsore on beach days!
As far as the trip north from Fiji back to the RMI went, it was really the very best so far in terms of weather actually. We didn't have a drop of rain in almost 1,800 miles until we got just outside of Majuro atoll! Entering Calalin pass at Majuro was such a deluge it was obviously the sky weeping with joy over our return!! One major detail during the passage that was rather interesing though is included here from the sailmail during passage.
"I had just mentioned yesterday in a moment of boredom that if we ever get back to Mexico someday (as in we'd like to get there sooner than later) that we really ought to take the entire rig down (as in the mast) and clean her up inside and out, as Love Song is 30 years old now. So what happens this morning on the last 5 minutes of my 1230-0530 watch? I had just written in the log book and done a regular visual sweep of the horizon in the faint hint of dawn, sat back down and started to read to finish a chapter in my book. TWANG, THUMP, I jumped up and standing on my tippy toes looked out the cockpit roof over the cabin top and noticed the inner shrouds on the starboard side with the ancient BOSE speaker and the ratlines was hanging all cockeyed. WHAT? I had no idea the implications...but figured it couldn't be good. I whipped around and yelled down the aft stateroom companionway to Allen, "GET UP! Allen! ALLEN, (Whistled)" no response. I grabbed the beach towel covering the hatch and balled it up and threw it down on him. That woke him up! Wyatt kept sleeping (he was on the berth across the cabin). "The shrouds have failed! GET OUT HERE!" and he was up.
We quickly furled the jib, then I started the engine and he went to drop the main. I could not believe my eyes, that with each wave, and there was a lot of them, as in never ending, that the base of the mast was lifting up off the deck and just as quick setting back down again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. HOLY COW. My adrenalin was really flowing now. Once we got the main down and we were going directly into the wind and waves, bashing almost Southeast, Allen figured that he was going to have to climb up to the first spreaders and loop some line around it to jury rig it some halyards through it and hopefully keep it from going over. I insisted on getting Morgan out of his cabin and putting him in the aft cabin with Wyatt, thinking that if the mast went over I didn't want it affecting my ability to get to the forward cabin. I got him dumped into my bed and now Allen was ready to go out.
He wasn't clipped in and when I asked him to he said he really didn't want to be clipped in up there where 1. he needed to be able to get out of the way if the mast crashed onto the deck and 2. that he didn't want to be clipped to the rig if it went overboard and sank! OK! So, there he went, up onto the brand new piled up mainsail (Dear Lord, we plead your mercy and ask that you keep that stick upright and give my husband sticky gecko toes) to loop a rope around the mast below the spreaders and contain the spinnaker halyard and a spare through it. He climbed back down as I stood by the man overboard button. (Thank you Lord for watching over us and keeping us safe, and while you're at it could you please lend us a few extra angels to hold that thing up while my husband has to climb around securing it?). I am thinking, what is it about being offshore from Tarawa that people suffer mast failures? Our friends on Brickhouse had been dismasted several months ago in this vicinity. I remember hearing stories of the dismasting of another pilot friend and didn't really want to join that club.
So, jury rig one was complete and Allen went to work with blocks and the preventers, deciding that more obviously was needed. That meant he'd have to go up again. This time he tells me that I can come out on deck and help him. GREAT. Now two of us are on deck, but I clipped in. He told me that in an emergency you didn't have to be clipped in. Well I didn't want to become one more part of the emergency, so I stayed clipped on. Up he went again and I realized that my prayers were filled with old hymns and songs, and wanted to yell at the sea, "PEACE, BE STILL!" while my hubby's up there! I'm also thinking who needs this?!
Down he comes again, and we manage to eliminate 80 percent of the wobble. One last attempt he says, with these spare lines to pull it forward using the downed shrouds themselves. (OK Lord, this is it, he needs your super strength, This is the Day, this is the day that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made, I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it. WHAT?!) and he drops back to the deck a few seconds later, totally spent, dripping sweat, and shaking. DONE! That's as good as it's gonna get we think, so now to decide on our course..."
We ended up motoring about 200 more miles and stopping in Tarawa, where we had stopped 2 years ago en route to the RMI and toured the WWII bunkers and Vickers' gun sites around the atoll. It was actually nice to revisit the place, which we decided is neat as a pin in most places (compared to Majuro, which with the election and dengue has had a clean up campaign), and the people are so friendly and smile so brightly. It made finding out about 3 yachts that had just departed from Tarawa after being ripped off a serious bummer. At check out there they also decided to implement a dusty rule that nobody knew anything about, which was to charge us $25.00 a night for anchoring (which adds up to more in a month than a luxury slip w/ self pumping station and glorious bathrooms in San Diego's green Sun Harbor Marina!!!). Luckily we were only paying 3 nights...
So, one more adventure under our belts, and certainly many more to come. It's almost like coming home being back here for our third tour, seeing old friends and making new ones. We hope you weren't waiting on pins and needles waiting to hear from us. We wish you all the best as you head into deep winter in your neck of the woods and we would love to hear from you and see your pictures! As always, thank you for your thoughts and prayers!
For any one who may be interested in writing, we are back in the USPS system:
The Simis's S/V Love Song, Yacht in Transit General delivery Majuro, MH 96960
With love from Kathy, Allen, Morgan, Wyatt, Dallas and Dulce