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The Adventures of SV Mulan
Land Ho!
Andrew
22/04/2010, Atuona, Hiva Oa

We are now securely anchored in the "outer" anchorage at Atuona, a bit rolly, but at least we don't have to stand watch through the night. Realizing we couldn't make Atuona in daylight hours, we headed for the north side of the island, and anchored (in the dark) in Baie Puamau, and awoke Wednesday morning to spectacular towering rock pinnacles and sheer volcanic cliffs. As we hadn't officially arrived we couldn't go ashore, but instead headed out of the bay and around the end of the island. After having not seen any other sailboats all passage, we headed into Atuona with two others in sight. We anchored in Atuona at 1500 hrs local time. The bay is busy with about 30 cruising boats here - mainly as it is one of the two ports of entry into the Marquesas. Several 'buddy' boats arrived just ahead of us, so we have advance info on where to find everything in town, and the boys were off playing a game of soccer within two hours of arrival. The adults preferred the luxury of a freshwater shower at the dingy dock - a deluge of water from a hose pipe within a shoulder-high concrete breeze block cube. Rustic maybe, but possibly the best shower ever. It's good to have arrived. We averaged 5.4 knots for the passage, taking 22 days. If we hadn't been so becalmed immediately upon leaving Mexico, we would probably done it at least a day quicker, but on the other hand, having Morgan's sailing expertise definitely improved our boat speed! Hopefully today we'll scope out some land based internet. Cheers, Team Mulan PS. Having all sorts of trouble getting propagation, so has taken several days to get this posted.

rock'n'roll
Andrew
19/04/2010, getting closer

About an hour after the last posting, we caught the SE trades, and it has been rock'n'roll ever since. Not at all what we expected open ocean trade wind sailing to be like. The swells are short period with confused wind waves, making for an exhausting ride as we reach across to Hiva Oa. Speed is not an issue - in the 24 hours up to midnight April 18 the GPS logged 184 miles, which at an average of 7.67, is actually the theoretical hull speed of Mulan. Eye balling the distance on Maxsea chart software, and it looks like 172 miles - still a huge single day for a reef in the main and 2 in the genoa. Winds have at times been 25 plus, so our overall average is starting to look respectable again, at 5.4 knots since leaving Nuevo Vallarta. We are doing so well, that at 200 miles from Atuona on Hiva Oa, we are already planning to sand-bag a bit in order to avoid a night-time arrival. Cheers, Team Mulan

Bobbing along
Andrew
16/04/2010, just across the line

So much for the trades. Instead of the NE trade winds, we got NW, and now we are desperately seeking the SE trades, but have only light South winds. Our favourite points of sail are close hauled, close reach, and close to no wind at all. After bobbing along for days, we got caught in a series of squalls last night, which propelled us across "the line" at 0332 UTC so fast that Neptune couldn't get a look in to initiate the polywogs we have aboard. It was a breezy night, and being close hauled in 35 knots made for a rocky night. Needless to say tody we are all feeling rather jaded from fitful sleep. Once we find the SE trades (a buddy boat about 25 miles from us has 17 knots of SE) we should be on a roll for Hiva Oa. Cheers, Team Mulan

news from the amp impaired
Andrew
12/04/2010, Still North of the Equator

No news, as we are amp impaired. We unearthed a recharging problem on the primary alternator, the little Honda generator decided not to pretend to do its normal shore power impersonation, and the spare alternator may have a future as a spare anchor. Anyways, as we ran out of wind at about 7d north, use of the engine was required, and some (well lots, actually) sleuthing came up with a jury rigged solution to get amps into the battery. Hopefully we can keep them there, allowing us to use the radio etc. The past couple of days we have been dodging squalls, but not intentionally, as they usually provide a great wind boost (25kts or so) that helps propel one southwards. Unfortunately we don't have enough diesel to motor the remaining miles to the equator and beyond to where the reliable winds are, so we are for ever watching the skies for the new eco-propulsion opportunity. If you do the math from the lat position, you will realize we are 244 miles from the equator, which may or may not take us 2 more days. The GPS tells us we are 1100 miles from Hiva Oa. Find it on Google Earth! Cheers, Team Mulan

rollin' rollin' rollin'
Andrew
08/04/2010, North of the Equator

Keep them beasties moving.... Finally we have caught up to the fabled NE trades and are making good progress. Despite the dismal first 2 days, our overall average has clawed its way to 5 knots. The swells are beginning to normalize after constant confused seas, which are not that pleasant to roll around in (hence the title). The winds have enabled us to keep an efficient course - we are almost on the lay line to Hiva Oa, but we will have to make a dog-leg through the doldrums, more than likely. Cheers, Team Mulan

Morgan's boobies
Andrew
04/04/2010

For whatever reason, Boobie birds like to roost on passing sailboats. It's slightly unusual, as they are web-footed birds, so perching on a spreader of a boat under way is potentially challenging. Last night's efforts were somewhat alarming - one Boobie misjudged the landing and got his wing caught in the shrouds, and fell slithering to the deck. After barfing up his dinner of flying fish, he vanished into the distance. The second coming was in the dawn, when a Boobie made an attempt to land on the wind generator - think perpendicular helicopter - and wisely aborted the landing at the last minute. Next attempt was the feather on the wind vane, which flaps around considerably. Last, and briefly successful attempt was the radar dome. However said Boobie didn't count on our intrepid helmsman, Morgan, who reached up and grabbed his legs. The Boobie let out a blood curdling squawk, and headed off into the sunrise. Today we have made moderate progress in light winds - heading in the right direction at about 5 knots in wind of close to the same, and happy to out here in the vastness of the ocean.

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