Memories from the Pacific Crossing
I was asked today what strange and memorable things standout from our Pacific Crossing...
So here is my response:
Watching the big dipper rotate from one horizon to the other while on watch during a new moon was pretty awesome.
Knowing that there is 36,000 feet of water under you is a strange sensation.
Freakiest thing was at 4 am off Tanna, Vanuatu before the big storm and the seas were dead calm. I started seeing bright lights under water near the boat slightly in front and sometimes off to the side. The light appeared as flashes lasting only a second or two. I was getting pretty freaked by it till I realized that it must be huge schools of fish changing direction as a swarm in the bio-luminescent water. The schools of fish were enormous and the sudden flash of bright light looked as though there was a massive submarine coming up from the deep or bolts of lightning underwater.
The funniest thing we saw was an enormous school of dolphin that decided to follow us near Fatu Hiva Marquesas. There were easily 500 to 1000 dolphin shadowing our speed and direction. We suddenly turn 180 degrees to drop the sail, and all the dolphin started ran into each other trying to change direction to keep with us...it was quite funny to see. It was like a big train wreck of dolphins bumping into each other.
A strange reoccurring delusion was the mental sensation that we were only a few miles from home and that we were sailing down a street...I can't explain it better than that. For some reason my mind kept associating the sensation of the lack of visibility beyond what I could see from the deck of the boat with driving a car in a suburban cul de sac. I felt like we were always driving down a street.
The 22 day crossing in terms of my memory seems like it was only 5 days and there were some 5 day crossings that seemed like they were 22 days.
Many times the ocean around us was extremely ugly and rough, but because we were sailing down wind, we were very comfortable. So the mind shuts off the surroundings and you find that you very rarely look out at the horizon because the natural response to the situation would be terror.
Our absolute worst crossing was from Fiji to Vanuatu...4 days. We got the shit kicked out of us at the start for a day and the middle was quite smooth sailing in slightly overcast conditions and ended with a convection storm that lasted the last 8 hours of the crossing. Those last 8 hours felt like a life time and I had surrendered myself to the idea that my primary objective was to get the boat as close to land as possible so we would have a fighting chance of swimming to shore. What made things worse, is that the electronic charts of Tanna, Vanuatu are not very accurate and the primary anchorage, Port Resolution, near the Mt. Yasur volcano wasn't even on the chart. So, we were sailing directly towards a shore that according to the charts, provided no safe anchorage to get out of the storm and big seas. For the last 2 hours of our approach to Tanna, all we could see were large volcanic cliffs. There was no indication of a safe harbor.
Lucky for us, the charts were wrong, and we found a small inlet at the base of the Yasur volcano were we dropped the anchor. That experience was as surreal as they get because we found ourselves glad to be alive, anchored just feet from waves breaking on the shore with warm rain and volcanic ash pouring down on us while the Earth rumbled and shook the boat every 15 minutes as the volcano belched black plumes of smoke all night long. There were no signs of life or other boats in any direction. We were seriously expecting a visit from the Waponis is search of a volunteer to jump into the volcano.
The odd pictures explained
12/31/2012, Coober Pedy
I post a couple strange pictures in my gallery the other day and have received a few inquiries as to WTF?
So, to answer the question, take a look at IMDB
The photos are of movie props left behind in Coober Pedy after the filming of Pitch Black back in 1999...one of my all time favorite Sci-Fi flicks.
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
12/28/2012, Uluru, NT, Australia
What most people do not know is that there is another massive rock formation just 40 km from Uluru and visible from Uluru. It is the poor stepchild of Uluru known as Kata Tjuta or Las Olgas. It's name is probably why no one knows about it.
The formation looks a lot like Camel Back Peak in Scotsdale, Arizona. You be the judge.
Las Olgas up close. (named after the Queen of Spain in 1872)
View from Las Olgas.
When I was but a wee child living in Black Forest, Colorado, I spent much of my time digging tunnels. I had enormous complex underground forts that troubled my parents and those of my friends. One day I recall watching a TV show about a place in Australia where people lived underground in their opal mines. These opal mines were undergound mansions with massive rooms, spas, garages and even swimming pools. The place was Coober Pedy.
Ever since seeing that show on TV way back when, I wanted to visit Coober Pedy and see this underround living for myself. Well, I finally did. In fact, we rented an entire underground house to stay in with 4 bedrooms, spa, a kitchen and a living room. So while it was 115 degrees outside, we were nice and comfy 40 feet below the scorching hot desert floor.
Opal was found in Coober Pedy on 1 February 1915; since then the town has been supplying most of the world's gem-quality opal. Coober Pedy today relies as much on tourism as the opal mining industry to provide the community with employment and sustainability. Coober Pedy has over 70 opal fields and is the largest opal mining area in the world.
Miners first moved in around about 1916. By 1999, there were more than 250,000 mine shaft entrances in the area and a law discouraged large-scale mining by allowing each prospector a 165-square-foot (15.3 m2) claim. The harsh summer desert temperatures mean that many residents prefer to live in caves bored into the hillsides ("dugouts").
A standard three-bedroom cave home with lounge, kitchen, and bathroom can be excavated out of the rock in the hillside for a similar price to building a house on the surface. However, dugouts remain at a constant temperature, while surface buildings need air-conditioning, especially during the summer months, when temperatures often exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). The relative humidity rarely gets over 20% on these hot days, and the skies are usually cloud-free. The average maximum temperature is 30-32 degrees Celsius, but it can get quite cool in the winter.
We visited Lightening Ridge about 8 months ago and found that the mines in Coober Pedy are considerably different. In lightening Ridge, the Opals are found below the sandstone at the interface with a clay below. In Coober Pedy, the oplas are found inside fault lines in the sand stone. As such, the mines and tunnels in Coober Pedy are far cleaner than the muddy clay walls in Lightening Ridge. However, Lightening Ridge is the only place where Black Opals are found. Coober Pedy produces crystal and white opals. The Black Opal from Lightening Ridge are considerably more valuable and infinitely more rare.
And yes, Lori got her Opals for Christmas. I will post photos later.