12/29/2012, on the water again
We're now heading fr Pohnpei in FSM to get our engine fixed. Much larger place than Kosrae and they even have a small marina. We've made several radio connections with other cruisers and have joined a radio net with the people in Pohnpei. They have taken us under their wing and are making arrangements for us to have a slip and a boat come out and tow us in if necessary. They are also contacting Immigrations, etc, to see if they can check us in at the marina instead of us having to make a stop at the commercial dock as is the custom. We have another couple of boat that are giving me information on what I can do while still at sea(drain the oil and water, etc)to lessen the damage that the seawater is doing inside he engine(rust). I've pumped out another 20 liters of water and oil out of the pan and will try again later this afternoon to see if there is any more oil and water in the engine. I've closed the through hull that normally supplies water to the engine so if there is more, it's coming from some where else. Winds died off yesterday and I would be surprised if we made 80 miles. We did 144 the day before. There is a front coming through about the time we are set to arrive with winds forecasted to be in the 20-30 knot range and 3-4 meter seas so it will be less than pleasant. Weather changes out here quickly so we will see what we face when we get closer to Pohnpei(about 850 miles to go. Stay tuned.
12/27/2012, on the water again
All is well on board though the engine has now failed again and there is no hope of getting it fixed while at sea. Lots more water in the diesel oil so sailing is our only choice and luckily the wind have been great. We're averaging over 130 miles a day. Kids are alright but not happy. Partly cloudy with lots of wind changes in speed so we're out on deck changing the sail configuration often to get the best speed with the least amount of heel.
12/25/2012, on the water again
We left Funafuti just about 1330 hours and headed out into decent seas. 2-3 meter swells and anywhere from 10 to gusts of 25 knot winds from the northeast. Covered 147 miles the first 2 hours so we are moving along fast. Total distance estimated to Kosrae is 1288 miles and our weather man says we should be in there by Thursday of next week. It was so rolly in Fuafuti that the kids never lost their sea legs and there was no drooling this time when we set out. All is well on board as we settle in for the hard first two to three days. Cloudy and overcast today with some showers from time to time. More tomorrow as it's very uncomfortable below decks.
12/23/2012, Futafuni, Tuvalu
We're finally getting out of here after almost three weeks instead of the three days we had planned for. We'll be heading out the north pass in a couple of hours.
We need to check out at Immigration as well as Customs(opposites sides of town).
With luck we will be gone by 1100. We'll post along the way with all the exciting things that will probably happen.
12/18/2012, In Tuvalu
We started up the generator for a couple of hours this morning till we were ready to pull up the anchor and take off for the small island of Tepuka, about 7 miles northwest of Funafuni. We wanted to check to make sure we had really found the problem with the water getting into the engine and that requires running it for more than a couple of minutes in the anchorage. We also wanted to make sure we hadn't hurt the prop when the bolts broke loose on the rudder allowing it to swing back and forth slamming into it. Also, the windlass was put under a bunch of strain when the chain snubber broke during the storm. I'm happy to say that after our trip across the lagoon, there appears to be no water in the oil(nice and clear), the rudder and prop works fine and the windlass got the anchor up with only a minimal amount of "I hate your guts for making me work so hard"attitude. We'd found some coral on the bottom and it didn't want to let the anchor go. It took some work and tying off the chain to a snubber and motoring around to loosen it, but it finally came up nice and clean. We slowly motored across the lagoon watching out for the occasional coral bommie(tall head of coral normally out in the middle of no where). Well, we missed looking out for one and the depth gauge suddenly went from 60 to 40 to 20 to 10 to 5 to 0 in a matter of seconds. Tracy slammed the transmission into reverse and brought us to a quick stop right on top of a BIG bommie. I could look right over the side and see all the pretty coral right below us. It was all stag horn coral, not huge blocks of hull destroying coral. We slowly glided right over the top only scraping the keel on few bits of the coral. We entered the location on our chart plotter so we won't hit it again. Since we had to cancel last weekends trip with Tev and his family, we rescheduled it for Friday and expect to bring them out to the island to swim and play. So far, we figure at least 6 people are coming. It's going to be a full boat.
Any way, we got here just after noon and dropped the anchor in 42 feet of water and I could watch it set from the deck. How cool is that? We haven't seen that in quite a long time. A quick lunch and into the water for a swim to the island for some shell gathering. Being seldom visited by anyone we figured it to be good pickings. Wrong! Lots of broken coral shattered into what looked to be almost like rice all along the beach. A couple of shells here and there but hardly worth bringing back any for our collections. We spent a couple of hours on shore walking around the perfect deserted island with nice sand and coral beach all along it's surf line. It was picture perfect right down to the palm trees overhanging the water along the shore. The coral we swam over on the way in was all primarily stag horn coral with much of it dead. No clue why as Tuvalu if well off the beaten path of cruisers, visitors, and cruiselines. We rarely saw another "white" person any where we went. Small kids just stared at us as we walked along the road.
During our walk yesterday, we did find the equivalent of what Tuvalu has for a Cinema. It's 10 by 10 foot room upstairs in one of the buildings in town. It runs two movies a night(even the new James Bond film is being shown). One thing we have found it that most bakeries sell out early so we were lucky to find a bakery that actually still had some bread at noon when we found the place. Of course, the reason they still had bread was that the owner/salesperson had closed the store and gone back to her other job in the complex. We got some help from a local and found her and had her open the store for us. We go a great loaf for just $3.00 Australian. After lunch, we returned to the internet cafes and got on slow internet.
So here we sit till tomorrow afternoon when we will head back to the main anchorage to await Tev and his family and our outing on Friday.
Stay tuned. Mores coming.
12/17/2012, In Tuvalu
Well, Cyclone Evan passed south of us a day or so ago and has now slammed into Fiji. From what the weather maps showed, right on top of Vuda Point Marina where we were last season and had had reservations for this season. Glad we had moved on. The winds in the forecast were for 100 knot winds and gusts to 135!!! Having been in the marina when a simple 35 knot blow knocked 5 boats loose when the chain under the water that everyone is attached to broke(lack of maintenance) I can't imagine what winds like this might do to all the boats that will be in there. Even the ones buried in the pits should shift in winds like that. I sent an email to Paul and Star on Starstruck that have been in the marina for a couple of years to see how they are and what happened. I'll let you know when I hear back.
We emailed our weather router(Bob McDavitt) letting him know that we have fixed all our problems and that we are ready to go when Mother Nature says we can. His response--It's going to take a while for the winds to return to normal and it could be easily the end of the week before there is even a chance of moving on. At least that is the gist of what he said. So this morning, we finally got off Zephyr after a couple of days stuck aboard due to the high winds and the possibility of the anchor coming loose or the snubbers on our chain breaking or coming loose. None of which did we want to happen when we were off the boat. As it was, we had swells of 4-5 feet coming through the anchorage and that made it dangerous to even launch Puff and try to get ashore. Plus, the small dock they have here has no cleats no protection from the winds so that an anchor has to be dropped off the stern just to make sure you don't end up with a dinghy on dry land with a damaged motor(almost happened the first day we were here and didn't know better). Strangely, I didn't feel the effects of having water legs when I went ashore. Normally after a day or so, when I get to shore, it's like everywhere I go, the land or building is on springs and keeps moving under my feet. Not today.
We checked with Immigration when we went on shore just to make sure they will be open on Monday(December 24th) so we can get clearance if the weather is right. They will be open regular hours(0800 to 1600) but closed on the 25th and 26th(Boxing Day). So as of now, we hope to be out of here on Monday. It will be our first Christmas and New Years at sea instead of partying with friends in a nice anchorage. Last year was in Vuda Point and the year before that was in La Paz, Mexico.
Tuvalu has a total of two places that offer internet service. One supposedly wireless(really slow) and one that used ethernet cables(not much faster). That's it for the island. The ethernet place(has no sign out front even saying it has internet or even a name) has been off line since we got here two weeks ago(hadn't paid their bill) but were finally up today. We even used our own computer on line(had to pay a bill). It was so slow on some sites that we gave up after a while and hiked down to the Coconut Cafe that has the wireless network. In 30 minutes, I actually accessed one, yes that's right---one website! Wow, the power of the internet hasn't really gotten a hold here though the girl next to me was logged into her Facebook account.
So here we sit, expecting to take off to one of the other atolls tomorrow if we can get the anchor up. After the blows we have had, we figure it to be well stuck to a big chunk of coral on the bottom and may take some effort to get loose. Right now, we want to just get away from here and sit off a deserted atoll all by our selves. Of course, for the last three days, we've been the only boat here, but other small dinghies pass by from time to time. It will be nice to have a place to ourselves. Sure hope the wind cooperates.
Stay tuned, more to come.