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Around the world with S/V Zephyr
The adventures of Bill & Tracy as they fulfill their lifes dream of sailing the world. We've dreamed of this for years and now is the time while the health is still good and there is money in the kitty to make it come true.
Some Sun and some rain. A normal day.
Bill Hudson
08/16/2011, Suwarrow Atoll

It's another day here at anchor. The only difference is that we are staying aboard for a few days to make sure Tracy gets over her cold. We don't want to infect other cruisers with it. They, in turn, are staying away from our boat. Last night was a party night with many people visiting other boats around the anchorage. We stayed in and I cooked dinner while Tracy rested.

I dove on the anchor again to make sure it was still alright and it was. I added a "trip line" to it to make it easier to pull up when we are ready to leave. I snorkeled down to the anchor and ran a nice bid heavy line through a hole near the back of the anchor and then back up to the water surface where I attached it to a buoy. When we are ready to go, all we have to do(if the anchor refuses to come up) is to pull up on the "trip line" and that will pull up the anchor from the back instead of from the front. We should have no problems getting out of here. Strangely, we are the only people that have done the anchors that way in this anchorage. Not sure why but will ask around when we finally make face to face contact when Tracy is well. I called the ranger station in the late morning to introduce myself to them and advise them of the reason why we had not come ashore to check in. There was no problem as the ranger I was speaking to is also the Chief Quarantine officer for the island. Now since there are only two rangers on the island, I figure the man that has been here the longest gets to be the Quarantine Officer. He understood and said we could check in when ever we wanted to. He appreciated the fact that we were keeping Tracy aboard. No reason to spread the bug around if we can avoid it. I figure to go in myself this afternoon and do the necessary paperwork. Tracy is having another day of rest. One of the draw backs of the cruising life style is that unless you are in a port, you are never exposed to any of the local bugs that are going around. Most times, when ever we arrive in a port, one of us comes down with some sort of bug. It happened to me last year when I went back to Colorado.

We have the generator running on the stern as our voltage had dropped over the last two days where we needed to recharge our electrical storage system(batteries). While it is running, I'm making water, charging the computer as well as both our IPods and the batteries for our VHF radios. While we filled our water tanks when we were in Bora Bora, we hadn't made water since and our machine requires that it be run every 5 to 7 days or it might stop making water. They recommend that it be run regularly to keep it in good shape. We'd used a bit of water on the trip over to Suwarrow (yes, we even took showers during the calm days) and that all needs to be replaced. Since the machine uses 8 to 10 amps while running, there is no better time to run it than when the generator is in use. At about 8 gallons per hour, we should come away with about another 20 gallons.

Yesterday, 6 boats left the anchorage headed for Nuie or Tonga or American Samoa(two more left today). Most go to American Samoa to get restocked as it is part of the US and having parts sent in from the US is much easier. We've heard that there is a Costco there yet Costco denies it. I'll be emailing one of our friends that just left there to see if it is or isn't there. The biggest problem with American Samoa is anchoring in the bay as it got fouled a few years ago when a hurricane came through and lots of thing from shore were blown or flooded into the harbor. We've heard of tires and a small kids swimming pool being pulled up on other cruisers anchors. Rutea(one of our friends) took five tries to get their anchor to set properly.

I misspelled the name of the boat yesterday that sank at Palmerston. The correct spelling is RiRi. As the story goes(so far) they were attached to a mooring ball in the anchorage and the winds blew them onto a reef near shore. The buoys have been put there by the residents of the island for cruisers to use($10US per night) instead of anchoring though anchoring is allowed. As the story goes at this time, they were pushed onto the reef but got pulled off later. Unfortunately, they continued to sink and it is now a total loss. Many items were recovered and the crew are safe but they have lost the boat. It will be interesting to see what comes of the liability for the mooring buoy that they were using. Being part of New Zealand, I guess it will be discussed in the courts there. Time will tell. It really shakes you to the core when you hear of one of your fellow cruisers boats being lost like that. Every years, several sink our here. Many hit reefs and some have equipment malfunctions that cause it. One boat was almost lost when water flooded into the boat from around their propeller shaft. The owner had just had work done at one of the local boat yards and the workers had failed to put back on all the hose clamps around the seal on the shaft. Luckily, he got the leak stopped and saved his boat. Many cruisers do all their own work not trusting anyone else on their boats. I can understand why.

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The race is over--we made it!!
Bill Hudson
08/16/2011, Into Suwarrow

The race is over and we made it in!!! We gybed our sails about 0700 and headed almost straight west for Suwarrow Atoll. The winds had shifted a bit and were now coming out of the southeast so we could make some good time. I tried to start the engine to give us a bit of an extra boost and the electrical system to start it had failed again. You could hear the selenoid spinning in the starter with the power turned on but that was all. There was smoke coming out of the "on-off"switch under the nav station. I quickly turned off the power and went in search of the problem. After working on the wires that go to the starter, when I turned on the power at the switch again, the smoke no longer appeared. Apparently there was a short between two posts on the starter and it had drained off some of the power from the batteries. The batteries were to low to properly crank the engine to get her started. Up on deck I went and hauled the Honda generator out and tied it down a midships and cranked her up. She doesn't like to run if we are rolling and that was just what we were doing. She started anyway and I rushed below to get the circuits on and power flowing as quickly as possible. After a short time, the generator quit(as expected)but had put in enough power to allow us to get the engine started. We ran it the entire rest of the way to the atoll. The winds had risen to the mid 20 knot range and swells were growing toward 10 feet or taller. They loomed over Zephyr as we moved along quickly passing under our hull. Up and down we went with speeds varying from 5 knots at the bottom of the swells to 12 knots as we raced down the opposite side. It's a bit strange to be on top of a swell one minute and the next being in a valley with water looming over your heads and the waves breaking all around you. Up and down all day long. We were constantly at the wheel making corrections when necessary. Amazingly, "James", our Hydrovane steering system that hangs off the stern steered Zephyr just about perfectly for us. We only had to make minor corrections along the way. We were 63 miles from Suwarrow and needed to make good time to get in by 1700 hours while the Sun was still up. Our speed just kept on going up and down but we were making some of the fastest speeds we've ever made on Zephyr and that was with just the main sail up and it had two reefs in it. At 1600, we entered the rim of the atoll and slowly made our way past two or three reefs that lie within the lagoon of the atoll. Luckily, our charts were spot on again. As we entered the anchorage(just off Anchorage Island) we found 23 other boats at anchor!! It's a busy spot. We were directed to a spot by one of the other boats and dropped our anchor amidst a bunch of coral heads. We were told that the bottom was hard but that we would stop when the anchor hit one of the rocks along the bottom and that was just what happened. The bad thing is that as we were dropping back(at an angle to the chain) Zephyr snapped to a stop and swung the bow around cracking one of the teak pieces that make up the cap rail on deck. Chain has no give to it and when the anchor hit the rock, we stopped with a sudden jerk. Now I get to epoxy the cap rail back together. So far today, four boats have left and more are scheduled to go as the weather is shifting again and people want to get out between fronts while the winds are good and the seas a bit calmer. We know of only one boat that is headed toward Suwarrow and they won't be here for a few days. We heard on the net this morning of a sailboat called "ReRe"being lost on the reef at Palmerston Atoll yesterday. We have no particulars to the sinking but as we get more info we'll pass it along. We do know that most boats that go there are required to use one of the buoys in the anchorage west of the atoll. We do know that the crew are all safe and sound on shore. For the full story on Palmerston Island (and it's interesting) Google Palmerston Atoll. Tracy is under the weather with a nasty cold or flu or something so she will be resting for a few days taking lots of different medications to try and fight this thing. It'd been coming along for the last few days but she is now officially under the weather. Suwarrow is one of the National Parks for New Zealand so we will be checking in with the park rangers sometime today and paying our $50.00 fee for the park. It allows us to anchor here for up to two weeks. The Park Rangers(James and John) take visitors around the atoll and on excursions to snorkel sights. They also have pot lucks twice a week on the beach as well as having "Happy Hour" on the beach regularly with other cruisers bringing snacks and drinks to the shore to share. We look forward to participating in a few days once Tracy is all well. The "kids", Snowshoe and Blue are doing well. They get a bit seasick during the first few hours when we leave an anchorage but once that phase passes, they do just fine. Blue spend the evenings(they both sleep all day) up on deck when we are underway touring the decks as we move along(unless it is too rollie for safety). She just sits on the back deck staring out over the water. Snowshoe, on the other hand, never comes out on deck. He prefers to sleep in the stern bunk but gets banned from it for the first few days out as he has left us some "presents"some times when he gets to stressed to try and make it to the cat pan. After a few days out, we let him in and he is much happier. The hairy slug just sleeps around the clock --unless he gets hungry and then he jumps down, noshes a bit and returns to the bunk for more sleep. It is a rarity that he ever comes up on deck as we sail or motor. Sleep is his priority. So now that we are here, we will probably spend a week or so enjoying the atoll and attending the parties(once Tracy is well) and meeting up with friends we have made along the passage. We're currently at 13 14.925S 163 06.559W having traveled 738 miles from Bora Bora.

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The race is on!
Bill Hudson
08/14/2011, West of Bora Bora

The race is on. Will we make it to Suwarrow Atoll by sundown tomorrow. As I said in the last post, arrival is key in any voyage. You always want to arrive while the Sun is up. Our location this morning at 0800 was 14 13.210S 159 58.739W heading 277 straight to Suwarrow. We were almost 200 miles away. If we make 6 knots all day long, we just might make it. Yesterday was a perfect day of sailing. The winds were off the starboard stern so we were heading off the wind and doing fine. Today was the big call. Can we get there while the Sun is up? We unrolled the entire Genoa sail at the bow and took off just after sunup. With it out, our speed increased to over 6 knots. With Tracy at the helm, we were zipping right along many times hitting between 7 and 8 knots. We ticked off the miles hour by hour. It's now 1500 and we have just about 150 miles to go(13 53.60S 160 37.041W). At a constant speed of 6 knots, that would put us at the atoll about 1600 tomorrow, well before the 1830 sunset time. Still a safe time to enter the harbor and get the anchor down. The true test that will decide the outcome is what we get for winds over night. If they continue as we have them right now, we just might make it. At the worst, we will have to sit off shore and wait through the night till the Sun comes up on Tuesday morning. I'll let you know how the night goes in the morning. My bet is that the wind will die off after sunset but you never know what Mother Nature will give you out here.

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08/14/2011 | Brenda
So glad you are finally under sail for long periods of time. Wold love to see pictures of your boat with the different sails up so I understand what you are talking about, it all sounds like such fun! I will find a sailing site that shows the different sails up if I can. Miss you both so much.
A better day for sailing.
Bill Hudson
08/13/2011, West of Bora Bora

It's been a much better day for sailing starting early this morning. At 1800 yesterday, we hauled down the spinnaker and put back up the main and the genoa and headed into the night with a beautiful full moon overhead. The winds were light but we sailed along at about 3 knots, sometimes dipping to 1.8 knots. By the 2300 watch change, the winds had come up a bit so we continued on. When I came on watch at 0300, it was time to change our course as the wind had shifted a bit and while we were moving, we were making little progress toward our destination of Suwarrow Atoll. I went out on deck(life jacket on) and disengaged our preventer. This is a line that attaches to the back end of the boom that gets lead to a cleat on the deck so the boom can't swing across if the wind shifts. I'd installed one on each side of the boom while we were still in Puerto Vallarta back in January. We use them every time we sail downwind. With it disengaged, we cranked in the boom and then moved Zephyr's stern through the eye of the wind till the wind moved the boom out the opposite side of the deck. That's called "gybing". I put on the preventer for the opposite side and then shifted the genoa sail to the opposite side and off we went. Much closer to the course we needed. Tracy headed below for a well deserved sleep. With our watch schedules in 4 hour sections, you get some sleep but no real "night" sleep. That's one reason that when you arrive at your destination, the first thing you do is hit the sack to get caught up on what you have lost. We sailed on through the night hitting into the 5 knot range and doing quite well even though the winds were still quite light--about 8 knots. When Tracy came back to relieve me at 0600 we were doing just fine as I hit the bed. We tuned into the 0800 SSB net to listen in as well as report our position and many of the boats were still becalmed either at anchor or while underway. We were fortunate to actually have some wind. It's now 1500 hours on Saturday the 13th and we are still sailing along having mad e good progress through the day. I just started the engine to charge up the batteries so with the prop turning, it will give a a slight boost in our speed. We only have 281 miles till we reach Suwarrow so we will be calculating our needed speed to arrive in early morning daylight when the coral under the water can be better seen. One of the boats out here spent the entire night going back and forth along the north shore of the atoll after they arrived after dark. Planning your arrival time is key to a successful voyage. We don't want to duplicate what they did. Meanwhile, the Sun is shinning and the winds continue at about 11 knots out of the northeast so we just keep moving along.

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A better day for sailing.
Bill Hudson
08/13/2011, West of Bora Bora

It's been a much better day for sailing starting early this morning. At 1800 yesterday, we hauled down the spinnaker and put back up the main and the genoa and headed into the night with a beautiful full moon overhead. The winds were light but we sailed along at about 3 knots, sometimes dipping to 1.8 knots. By the 2300 watch change, the winds had come up a bit so we continued on. When I came on watch at 0300, it was time to change our course as the wind had shifted a bit and while we were moving, we were making little progress toward our destination of Suwarrow Atoll. I went out on deck(life jacket on) and disengaged our preventer. This is a line that attaches to the back end of the boom that gets lead to a cleat on the deck so the boom can't swing across if the wind shifts. I'd installed one on each side of the boom while we were still in Puerto Vallarta back in January. We use them every time we sail downwind. With it disengaged, we cranked in the boom and then moved Zephyr's stern through the eye of the wind till the wind moved the boom out the opposite side of the deck. That's called "gybing". I put on the preventer for the opposite side and then shifted the genoa sail to the opposite side and off we went. Much closer to the course we needed. Tracy headed below for a well deserved sleep. With our watch schedules in 4 hour sections, you get some sleep but no real "night" sleep. That's one reason that when you arrive at your destination, the first thing you do is hit the sack to get caught up on what you have lost. We sailed on through the night hitting into the 5 knot range and doing quite well even though the winds were still quite light--about 8 knots. When Tracy came back to relieve me at 0600 we were doing just fine as I hit the bed. We tuned into the 0800 SSB net to listen in as well as report our position and many of the boats were still becalmed either at anchor or while underway. We were fortunate to actually have some wind. It's now 1500 hours on Saturday the 13th and we are still sailing along having mad e good progress through the day. I just started the engine to charge up the batteries so with the prop turning, it will give a a slight boost in our speed. We only have 281 miles till we reach Suwarrow so we will be calculating our needed speed to arrive in early morning daylight when the coral under the water can be better seen. One of the boats out here spent the entire night going back and forth along the north shore of the atoll after they arrived after dark. Planning your arrival time is key to a successful voyage. We don't want to duplicate what they did. Meanwhile, the Sun is shinning and the winds continue at about 11 knots out of the northeast so we just keep moving along.

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And so the winds died.
Bill Hudson
08/12/2011, West of Bora Bora

It's now Friday the 12th and the journey continues toward Suwarrow Atoll. It's been slow going for the last two days as the winds slow down. While we left Bora Bora in 15-18 knot winds, they have dropped to maybe 7 knots all out of th east. We've had the genoa and main up since we left and today switched over to the spinnaker as our only sail. We rolled in the genoa and then hoisted the spinnaker still in it's sock and then took down the main. It was so calm that we did it with Zephyr going down wind. That's not the norm by far. The usual is to head into the wind before you drop your main. With both the main and genoa down, I pulled on the line that raises the sock that encases the spinnaker and out she flew. The winds are still light so it doesn't stay flying all the time but she will at least keep us going in the 3 to 5 knot range. There are two SSB nets out here(8131 at 0800 Tahiti time and 6224 at 1630 Tahiti time) that most cruisers check into letting others that are out here know where they are at any given time. A safety thing. On any given net, a good 20 boat sign in--us included. At least someone out there knows where we are(or close enough) that should we suddenly disappear, someone has a reference point of where to start looking for us. During this mornings net, many of the boats that are enroute have started their engines to make better time. With the cost of diesel fuel approaching $8.00 per gallon out here, we have opted to sail as much as we can on this voyage. We do run the engine for about an hour each day to charge up our batteries. Since it is running anyway, we do engage the propeller so we do get something out of the diesel other than volts. Once we had checked into French Polynesia in the Marquesas, we only had so many days that we could stay(90) so we were forced to motor if our speed got to slow. Now being out on the ocean again with no restrictions on us, we can take our time. We had originally figured on a passage of 6 days since we normally do a good 130 miles each day. Not so now. It could take us an easy 8 or more to get there at the speed we are going. We're not even half way there yet. It's not like we will run out of food or water and we have plenty of books to read and movies to watch and music to play so we won't go bonkers. The forecast is for better winds in a few days, I guess we will see where we are at that time and make plans accordingly. As of this afternoon, we're at 15 03.078S 156 53.512W and slowly moving west northwest on our course.

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