01/24/2013, Majuro, Marshall Islands
Our visit to California is now behind us. We had lots of fun with old and new friends, played some music, hiked, sailed and almost went skiing. We just ran out of time for that. We also bought many items for the boat that are really difficult to find anywhere else. The prize of the list is a new Dinghy. Our old one was developing seam to transom troubles, so we took the opportunity to replace it while we could. We bought an Achilles with inflatable floor this time. We loved the Zodiac, but dinghys live a hard life, and we were told that the hypalon models (like Achilles) are more robust. We shall see. We hear lots of people beating up on Zodiac (they are PVC), but for us, we have only praise.
It was a 20 hour trip back to the island - 6 hour flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, a 7 hour layover where we got to sleep on a nice hard, cold wooden bench just like the homeless. We now both have much more appreciation for the difficulty of such a life! Finally, we arrived in Majuro early in the day.
As always returning to a boat that has been sitting closed up for two months means that there will be work to be done. Our waterline was seriously dirty and took a good two hours of scrubbing to get it pretty again. Inside, we had some mold - not much, but it must be addressed or else it spreads. So, accordingly, Elisabeth removed all cushions and mattresses, cleaned them, cleaned and wiped down the surfaces with water and vinegar, all of the bulkheads (walls) and counter tops. Bugs? Well, yes a few, but not too bad. We found weevils in closed containers of flour. Since they were closed, we expect that the little buggers were in the flour from new. All in all not too bad at all, but it does take a bit of time to address these things.
For the time being, we will continue our work to get Proximity back into working (and living) shape, and then we want to explore that outer Marshall Islands. There are many, and we have heard that they are well worth a visit. We will keep you posted on all of this, but for now, we have yacht work to do!
As always, "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts" send you the best, and we encourage you to click the little "leave a comment button" and tell us a little about you - it makes us feel connected.
'Twas the day before Christmas (Christmas Eve), and I wanted to send a little update and Christmas wish to all of you. Of course, an update should consist of news of some sort, maybe a description of where we are, what we have seen, maybe the weather endured to get here, and possibly a tip of the hat to some wonderful piece of technical gear that helped make it all happen. That is always the challenge of a blog. How should one approach saying what one wants to say?
Then it struck me that what I just listed are perhaps the various ways NOT to say it (at least from my point of view). Maybe that is what I ought to talk about - the traps blogs fall into.
For example, there are blogs that I call "And Then We Went Here, and Then We Went There. An easy trap, and it goes like this: We have left the boat in Majuro for the two months that we will spend at our house in California. During this time, we spent a week house sitting in a friend's lovely house in the Oakland Hills, went sailing on Clear Lake, attended our friend TJ's birthday party, met many nice people at the local café where we can access Wifi, attended Thanksgiving dinner with good friends, Rick and Judy..... The list goes on, but this is not what you want to read about, trust me.
Then we have the trap I call the "Overly Sweet Syrupy Prose" blog. Another easy trap. Often what we see out in our travels is beautiful beyond description, so why not try and describe it? "So there we were...the soft velveteen brush of the satin air of the evening gently caressing the green grass of my mind, softly lifting my spirit into a merangue of heartfelt ecstasy as the myriad colors of the day bid us both hello and goodbye, all in a single delicious instant while we savored and tasted it all with the joy of a new born horse galloping for the first time while our sturdy, strong and ever watchful and caring mother mare of a boat named Proximity coaxed us along........" I'm sorry. I have read these blogs, and while I can understand the desire to convey the moment, this is not the way to do it.
If you have read more than one sailing blog, then I am sure you have come across the "We Barely Escaped With Our Lives" blog. Let's be honest here. To take off in a small sailboat, to head out across thousands of miles of open ocean with no one to call if there is trouble, often with only one's spouse as crew, is huge. The trip from Mexico to the Marquesas in French Polynesia is nearly 3000 miles, and we had never been alone offshore more than 200 miles when we did that. Often the weather is quite nasty and uncomfortable. The trip from Fiji to New Zealand is notorious, and for nine days, we were quite cold, uncomfortable, and learned how to deal with higher winds than we had ever seen. Sometimes it is quite frightening. On the return trip to Fiji from New Zealand, we encountered a lightning storm, the likes of which we had never seen, and we hope we never see again. But the fact remains that the boat always floated, our lives were never in danger, and eventually we reached our destination - a little stronger and wiser. We promise never to exaggerate to you and tell you that it was worse than it was, nor will we tell you what super beings we are and that any lesser mortal might not have made it through. Those too, are boring blogs.
Finally, we are supposing that many of you are not sailors, and if you are sailors, that you don't need us to teach basic refrigeration, electronics, or navigation to you. This only bores the non-sailors and insults the experienced sailors. Holy smokes, there must be legions of technical masters out there telling us that the way they have re-wired the negative field, internally regulated Volvo high power alternator to a Yanmar-like externally regulated, positive field alternator solves the problem of too fast a charge on the high capacity bank of gel cell batteries, while still allowing the Blue Sea Solar Booster to provide an adequate charge in conjunction with the self regulated Super Wind Wind Generator, all the while showing no voltage alarm at the engine panel. For this sort of thing, we'll be happy to share, in serious detail, what we can, and what works well on our boat. Just send us a personal email, we will respond. I promise.
So these are the things I thought I would talk about in this posting, but you know, all that I really want to say is that "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts" just want to thank you for spending the past year with us, we have enjoyed having you along, and that we wish you all the very best for the Holidays, and a prosperous and Happy New Year.
Be Excellent to One Another!
Rod and Elisabeth
"Your Rock and Roll Argonauts"
10/30/2012, Majuro, Marshall Islands
Yes, it's true. We are coming to California on November 19. We will stay until January 20 or so, so get ready. We hope to see as many of our friends as we can. We are thinking that we will plan a party at our house. Yes, I'm afraid that you might have to drive a bit, but remember. We have no Bay Area residence. So, drive! Hey, we do it for amazing distances and still like each other, and suffer no lasting traumatic effects! See you soon!
10/29/2012, Cozy in Majuro
Houston, the eagle has landed. We're home. Tied to a mooring at 1400 local. Checked in with Customs and Immigration. Done. Complete. Yippie!
The cab ride was $0.75 USD. The Marshalls use American money, so it is easy. Immigration said: "Visa?" "You are American citizens, so you can stay as long as you want." This is really nice after having to do the 20 page form route so many times just to get an additional 30 days.
Our position is: 07 06.468N, 171 22.083E. Now, I think I will go help Philip tie to his mooring. He is just arriving. It is dark and squalling, but he needs help, we are here, and this what yachties do for each other. Then it will be Victoria Bitter time.
As Always, Be Excellent to Each Other, and help 'em tie up when it's dark and stormy. Ok? Rod and Elisabeth "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts"
10/28/2012, Closing on Majuro
It's squall time again. All day today, and through last night too. We should arrive Majuro tomorrow, so we are ready. I suspect it's that pesky South Pacific Convergence Zone being active. At any rate they have had us jumping, reefing, unreefing, reefing, and repeating as necessary. And here you thought the sailor's only care was the bathroom!
I will make this short as I must pay attention to my squalls. Hopefully, our next communique will be from a cozy mooring in Majuro.
Be Excellent to Each Other, Ok? Rod and Elisabeth "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts"
10/27/2012, Way Out There
In all societies, throughout the world and throughout the ages, humans have had to deal with the unsavory subject of poop and what to do with it. In the modern western world, we simply find a nice clean toilet, do our thing, and with an effortless flick of a hand, we are done with it. This is a convenience well worth appreciating, for it is pretty rare.
When we were in Mexico, the modern western convenience was pretty much the same as we have in the US, with one common exception. The paper. In many places in Mexico, one is asked not to flush the paper down the toilet. This is due to the plumbing and treatment facilities not being able to handle it. So, the stalls are provided with an "icky container". Usually, this is a small trashcan with a plastic liner and a lid. First thought is that this will be pretty gross, but with frequent dumping attention, it was fine.
In Vanuatu, in the villages, the people are poor. They live in grass houses and paddle hand made dug out canoes. But, they have a high standard for their environment. Their village paths are raked and landscaped very nicely. The Vanuatu village often resembles a park. They deal with the poop issue by building little outhouses, yes, out of grass. These outhouses are placed not too near the houses, but still at a convenient distance.
On Tarawa, we saw a method we had not seen before, but we had read about it. We had hoped what we had read was wrong. Tarawa is the business center of Kirabati, and as such, it attracts many people from the outer islands hoping to find work, excitement, etc. The small island city of Betio is the concentration center, and really is a big slum. On our WWII tour, we were afforded the opportunity to see neighborhoods and areas we would not have found on our own. Unlike Vanuatu, the poor I-Kiribati, have electricity, as well as some kind of running water. They have solid construction houses. And, they poop on the beach.
Not all do this, but the evidence we saw was that many practice this. Our opportunity to witness this firsthand was when we went to the cannons located on the west side of the island at what was called "Green Beach" during the battle. It is just their old custom, and now that so many people are there, it's pretty gross. A pity. It would be really easy to dig outhouses like the Ni-Vanuatu.
But my point is not to make judgments. It is only to illustrate that there are many different ways of dealing with the ancient problem of poop. On the boat, we have a holding tank that is used while in port. It is pumped out at a pump out facility in first world marinas and ports. In the third world, you are on you own, so the tank is set up to pump overboard into the deep sea. (Don't worry, whales poop too, much more than humans do.) There is also the question of paper. Have you ever heard of a yachtie having to rebuild his head (toilet) due to land based guests flushing too much paper? It happens very often, so the previous owners of Proximity had installed a little sign readable from the throne. It reads: "Please do not flush anything down this toilet unless you have eaten it first." Remember Mexico. They have a brilliant idea. Enter the "Icky Bag". On Proximity, we keep a sealable plastic bag for just this occasion, and it is dumped daily. We have never had a clogged toilet. It does not smell bad, and although it is by nature, the "Icky Bag", it is not gross. It is just a good way to deal with the ancient human problem. And now you know much more about this lovely subject than you ever wanted!
Be Excellent to Each Other, Ok? Rod and Elisabeth "Your Rock and Roll Argonauts"