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s/v Sand Dollar
Sunday, July 29, 2007 - Day 4 of Passage: Smooth Sailing
07/29/2007, en route from Bora Bora to Penrhyn Island

The foul weather of the last couple of days is now just a memory. Today, Sand Dollar is enjoying typical trade wind cruising. Life is good after all! The waves are still high and the boat rolls with the swell but the motion is more predictable now and steady progress is being made toward Penrhyn Island. On top of that, there is nothing quite like sailing under the light of a full moon. Anything that is white including sails, deck, cresting waves, birds and clouds seem to glow. There is no need for a flashlight on deck or in the cockpit. It is a pity we don' have more full moons.

Today's noon-to-noon distance was 114 miles for an average speed of 4.8 knots. I am right on schedule to make landfall sometime Monday afternoon with only 80 miles to go. The full moon means there will be a greater than normal tide change and perhaps a strong current flowing out of the atoll entrance. I will try to negotiate the pass at high slack water to minimize this effect. Fortunately, this occurs at mid- morning.

All else is well onboard. Frequent rain squalls keep the deck clean and free of salt buildup. Also, the captain gets to bathe! Who knows who he will run into on Penrhyn.

Thursday, July 26, 2007 - Day 1: Plenty of Wind
07/26/2007, en route from Bora Bora to Penrhyn Island

The noon-to-noon distance for this, the first day of the passage, was 132 miles for an average speed of 5.5 knots. I am sailing with reduced canvas to slow the boat so that the trip takes five days. If I had known there would be this much wind I would have shot for a four-day passage and have left a day earlier or later so as not to arrive on Sunday. As it is, I will have to further slow the boat or "heave to" in order avoid arriving in the middle of the night.

Normally the southeast trade winds blow at 10 - 15 knots at this time of year and at this location but I am seeing 20 - 24 knots and the forecast is for this to continue for the next two or three days before tapering off to 15 knots. These conditions make for fast passages but rough seas. Fortunately, I found my sea legs after the first day of this passage so I am moving about the boat anticipating the roll which is fairly constant in its timing but not entirely predictable in its degree. The old saying "one hand for you and the other for the ship" certainly holds true.

All else is well onboard.

Sunday, July 22, 2007 - Yacht Club Barbecue
07/22/2007, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Don sent me a DVD of pictures and a couple videos which I'll be adding the next few days - a slow process. I've added a video of his Pacific Crossing in the Photo Gallery. Go to "Pacific Crossing" and download the movie - be prepared to get sea sick!


The congenial proprietor of the yacht club, Rapa, put on a very nice barbecue for the 15 sailboats anchored in the bay nearby. This was my first opportunity to eat breadfruit which I found to be much like potato and quite agreeable, especially when accompanied by a savory sauce or even catsup. The breadfruit, about the size of a coconut, is cooked whole over hot coals and and then broken in two so that the pulp can be removed and eaten. We also dined on grilled beef, sausage, chicken and one of my favorites, poisson cru which is fresh raw fish marinated in lime juice and coconut milk.

After dinner a former Japanese fighter pilot named Aki from the boat "Liberty" grabbed a guitar and began singing old country and western songs in his broken English. It was hilarious and we could not stop laughing. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Friday, July 20, 2007 - Bora Bora Yacht Club
07/20/2007, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

It is not really a yacht club, but a restaurant with about a dozen mooring buoys out front in the anchorage. They go for $25 per day with unlimited trips to the water hose to fill up jerry cans. Not exactly a bargain. After dropping off my laundry and having a very nice lunch at the restaurant I was told to help myself to the water which seems to be in short supply on Bora Bora. I am quite happy and secure at my present anchoring site for which there is no charge and I am receiving a good wifi signal for the first time in French Polynesia. I have even had a chance to look at this blog to see that it really works. Maybe I will have time to respond to some of the comments generated over the past several months.

Thursday, July 19, 2007 - Beach Barbecue in Bora Bora
07/19/2007, Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is truly as spectacular as any island I have yet seen anywhere. Sand Dollar is anchored within view of the picturesque and famous Mt. Otemanu which adorns the covers of many tourist brochures distributed by luxury hotels where guests pay $750 per night for an over-the-water bungalow with no better view than mine. The island is decidedly touristy with the usual t-shirt shops, cruise ships, and sightseeing buses, but there are no high rise hotels and it is not crowded and noisy like Papeete. This place is worth a stay for at least a few days and maybe longer.

Members of the Ocean Cruising Club, a mostly European group, held a beach barbecue tonight to which I was invited and was most grateful for. Boats representing England, Norway, Holland, Canada, Australia, and Japan were in attendance and there was one other American boat along with mine. It was a potluck affair with a million dollar view. Some of the cruisers I had already known while most were new acquaintances. All were very friendly with a wealth of information gathered from many years of sailing around the globe.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - Electrical Problems
07/10/2007, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

The battery charging system on Sand Dollar is malfunctioning and the cause is elusive. I have spent several days troubleshooting to no avail. The problem is intermittent, the worst kind. On top of that, the primary laptop computer is acting up making communication difficult. I will spend two more days working on these issues and then will leave for Bora Bora. There are no spare parts available here so there is no reason to hang out. Ordering parts from home would take too long as my visa expires August 2.

All else is well onboard and the weather is perfect.

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Sand Dollar
Who: Don Pratten
Port: Beaux Arts, WA
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