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S/V Bluebottle
Day 19 - FULL GALLOP!
Joe
05/05/2010, Underway from Mexico to Marquesas

Day 19 Wed 5 May

Wow!! What a change! An hour ago we were wallowing and struggling to grind out a measly two and a half miles per hour, bumping our way into head wind, seas and current. And with the prospect of a day or two more of the same. Then the wind backed 30 degrees, into the South. Here was a chance to sail! Haul the mainsail up, flapping eagerly, now bend the course to the Southwest, putting the wind 50 - 60 degrees on the port bow, roll out the genoa (our big jib), tweak the Monitor, and watch the speed climb! 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 knots. Then 8.5, and 8.8 - 9.0 knots!! Boat heeled over, sluicing along, determined, heading for the Marquesas. Dropped back a little now, 8.5, and heading a little too much West, but velocity made good (VMG) to the waypoint at Hiva Oa is over 7 knots. This is what I had hoped for on the dark night watches, labouring bravely against the steep weather. May it last! The conditions found by boats ahead of us indicate winds strengthening and backing (tending anticlockwise, e.g. SW > S > SE) support the hope that they WILL last. Much relief! 8 knots VMG means 192 miles in 24 hours toward the island of Hiva Oa! That's what we're doing now. Rejoice with us, we are on our way. 900 miles to go, only 4 ½ days at this rate. More likely 6 days. It feels like riding a horse at full gallop!! YEA!! Praise God and pass the winch handle!!

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05/06/2010 | Quent and Kez
stoked you have the wind again and made contact with the Frogs. Enjoying your voyage and looking forward to your landfall. Sail safely
JOE ASKS SILLY QUESTION OF FRENCH NAVY SHIP
Joe
05/05/2010, Underway from Mexico to Marquesas

We have just this minute been contacted by a naval vessel, wearing the symbol F731 on the bow, running beside us, a half mile off. The first we knew was the loud sound of their horn blown four or five times. Adrienne scrambled up the companionway, yelling: it's a ship! It's a ship!!

Excited, climbing up as fast as I could, I saw a white Navy ship, small one, and didn't notice which flag she was flying. I thought Mexican navy, forgetting we were probably 2,00 miles from Mexico. Adrienne waves, typical feminine reaction; I dived for the flare gun - the only weapon we carry, potent at close range. No, of course I didn't, I turned on the radio, checked it was on channel 16, and called them up. They wanted to know the name of our vessel, and where we were bound. I was happy to say the Marquises.

Then, excited by the strangeness of the event, asked them a silly question: Are You A French Military Vessel? The answer was suave and dismissive in the best Peter sellers' Inspector Clousseau voice: Of course we are a French military vessel! Courteous to the end, they wished us good navigation, fair winds and following seas, turned left, and left. Meantime at Adrienne's urging I hoisted the French Tricolor to the starboard crosstree. Pity they couldn't see it, they had turned away, and in any case, it was hidden by the mainsail. I photographed it just to prove this all happened.

Allons enfants de la patrieeah!!

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05/06/2010 | Phil Lowe
ne tanquez pas,nous ill allon.Vraimont!!
Day 18 - Edging South. Engine, Engine, Engine. . .
Joe
05/05/2010, Underway from Mexico to Marquesas

Stop reading. Place marker, a loose page of the novel I'm reading, page 13 of Tom Wolfe's A Man In Full. Forehead always wet. Time for another radar and visual check. Can't sit here at the chart table ALL the time with the boat chugging through the night through the bumpy seas. Radar is on standby. Press Power to transmit. Nothing. Nothing last time. Go on deck. Up on deck, up-on-deck-to- me, appendectomy, little joke. Check engine temp, oil pressure on the way up the ladder. Hang on, always keep your balance, out into the cockpit now, cool wind, nice on bare torso, only wearing undershorts. Naked most of the day, or undershorts. Zipped up the clear plastic windscreen last time on deck, spitting rain, threw all the cushions below. Look around, nothing. Nothing last night, night before. Before that. ALWAYS NO SHIPS. Makes you careless, mustn't get careless. Don't assume there's no ship close by. Happens*. Come back down, one more look at the radar, nothing. Not always so, careful long look, like a doctor looks. Turn off transmitter, back to standby. That's me too, standby. This the 2:15 am - 4:45 am watch, California time, even though we have moved too far west to be in that time zone. Familiarity. Soft unchanging hum of the engine, low speed diesel engine, 800 rpm. Go forever, the men exclaim, lovingly. Never had a spot of bother with it, neither had Dave, previous long-term owner, if he's to be believed, and I do believe him. Good, solid 80 HP diesel. I've just done the oil change, back in Mexico, and new oil filter, fuel filters and oil change for the gearbox and V-drive and injector pump. All written up in the log. Methodical, not like me, perhaps, but comforting, to have a record, well that's done, at least. Two failures so far on this long passage: autopilot, which still is not solved, and alternator regulator, which after disconnection and reconnection works fine as it always has done. Dunno. Grateful the problem has gone away, an easy fix. Always look for the easy fix, because you yourself are the problem if you complexify the issue. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance. The engine you are working on is you. I believe it. Happened too often for me not to believe it. Making as little as 2 knots (48 miles/day) or up to 4 knots (96 miles/day) bobbing and plunging into head-on wave chop, climbing up and over the 8 foot swells, which are coming from where we are going, inserting ourselves into the headwind. Got to do it for yesterday, tonight, maybe today, maybe next night. Current latitude 02 deg 07' N - expect trade winds, SSE, at the equator, so that's 2 degrees further or 120 miles, at 3 knots. We sang in the cockpit late afternoon as we looked out on grey seas, grey sky, silver light, a tiny patch of blue far ahead. Silly songs, fun. Sometimes you imagine you see land, but it's not really. YOU are my land, my people reading this, and if I could not imagine SOMEONE reading this I would wonder if time had stopped, and we were simply walking up the down escalator.

* A ship did appear, Adrienne woke me, crying out "A SHIP! A SHIP!!" and it changed course to pass behind us, at dawn.

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Adrienne's view on Day 18
Adrienne
05/04/2010, Underway from Mexico to Marquesas

Hi again from me, guess I am getting used to talking to the ether. Got an email from Phil Lowe, he's almost like a trusty mascot, cheering us on and commenting from his comfortable lounge room in Hobart, most every day, we get a missive, mostly they make us laugh and we feel so loved, (thank you Phil) He told us that there were comments on the blog since I wrote in. It went straight to my head! Oh the fame! I'm kind of glad I can't see them 'till we get to the Marquises, cause I might get all shy and bashful again. Mind you like everything else in French Polynesia internet is very expensive and difficult to find, so I may not know what you have said until we are closer to a major continent!

Our boat email doesn't work for you dear friends unless we know you are writing us and then we can put your email address into the system. A classic catch 22.

Must check the water maker's progress the tank may be full. . . .

Nope, still going. It took us a year to get this wonderful device to work!! Replacement parts, agonizing struggles with repair, finally, finally it is working. It only makes 3 and ½ gallons an hour and really you need to be running the engine, so we make water when we need to run the engine for others things such as, propelling us (gentlemen don't sail to windward - they motor -) charging the batteries (our solar panels can not keep up when we are running our navigation lights and radar, chart plotter, all night long.)

So anyway now we keep the tanks topped up and gradually I trust it enough, so as to not fill every recycled drink, vinegar, bleach bottle I can get my hands on . . Not to mention the 25 gallons on deck in jerry jugs!

What clinched it, a few days ago, was a bottle of water that spilled when we were in rough seas and soaked our charming carpet After a few days I realized what the new and familiar smell was. . . You will never guess . . . Ancient kitty wee wee. Yup! Dave and Sandra had a trusted pussy cat on board and now I know that she didn't always make it to the litter box.

So I am grateful to the kitty for giving me a final shove in the direction of de- cluttering the cabin.

Today after sailing all night westward we are motoring southwest to get past the unfavorable current and southerly wind. We should pick up the trade winds in another 50 to 100 miles. Less than a 1000 to go now to land fall.

We had several breakdowns as we were leaving the Doldrums, they just had to have their way with us didn't they. It had been so easy up till then. I think Joe has told you about all of this . . . Broken regulator for battery charging with the alternator and broken auto pilot. My job, , , helpful suggestions, finding AND READING all the technical info stuff we have about each bit, and keeping Joe's spirits up. He on the other hand has to do the dirty work which often involves schematic drawings to try and figure out what the heck those who came before have done, testing, jury rigging if necessary and ultimately fixing nearly everything that breaks. It is a part of him that most of you don't know intimately, Joe the fixer upper.

Perusing the other cruisers, honestly, they are mostly nerds with tans. Don't believe all those glossy pictures in the magazines, and yacht brokers ads, what you need is electrical, mechanical skills, brute force, common sense, and a love of the unexpected. Also, we have our experts, and the radio to ask other cruisers, our fellow tanned nerds.

We are not yet weaned from our dear friend in Panama. Rick -o - pedia we call him. When ever Joe was stumped we called fellow sailor Rick off of the vessel Inshallah. He would come, I would keep him fed and well watered with forty- nine cent Panamanian beers and he would go to town solving our problems. Not always the cheapest solutions to our problems because he always went for quality parts but by and large the best. Probably the greatest thing he gave us was a crash hot installation of our long range radio so everyone can hear us.

So now when Joe goes kind of white with tension as another apparently insoluble problem arises, I say ask Rick. Joe fires off an email and by the time he has explained the problem to Rick he's ½ way to fixing it. Most often we don't hear from Rick until the mini crisis is all over but he has helped as always. So thank you Rick again!

I've noticed that most everyone's psychological and physical problems get projected onto their boats. So there is very little call for Adrienne "the counselor". Once in a while I find someone who is curious about the Ancient I Ching or I am able to bring out Kate's wonderful 1000 images for a playful reading, but mostly as I say everything gets projected onto boats, and government bureaucracies - - the same the world over, irrational logic and desperate to appear brilliant in their management of all things under their jurisdiction. Mind you, occasionally we find a real human being beaming from behind his or her desk and then the process is just refreshingly simple. And you get lots of beautiful documents with gorgeous colorful seals or stamps on them!

Enough for today, bless you all dear ones. From A

PS a wonderful birthday to you Kate.

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05/06/2010 | barbara adkins
good to "hear " your voice. exciting adventures. love you barb
05/07/2010 | Edith
Hi there Adrienne! I have finally got a bit of time to check out your blog. Wow, what a saga! Now I have to go check a map and find out where you are (approximately) in all that water... much love, e.
Adrienne's view on Day 18
Adrienne
05/04/2010, Underway from Mexico to Marquesas

Hi again from me, guess I am getting used to talking to the ether. Got an email from Phil Lowe, he's almost like a trusty mascot, cheering us on and commenting from his comfortable lounge room in Hobart, most every day, we get a missive, mostly they make us laugh and we feel so loved, (thank you Phil) He told us that there were comments on the blog since I wrote in. It went straight to my head! Oh the fame! I'm kind of glad I can't see them 'till we get to the Marquises, cause I might get all shy and bashful again. Mind you like everything else in French Polynesia internet is very expensive and difficult to find, so I may not know what you have said until we are closer to a major continent!

Our boat email doesn't work for you dear friends unless we know you are writing us and then we can put your email address into the system. A classic catch 22.

Must check the water maker's progress the tank may be full. . . .

Nope, still going. It took us a year to get this wonderful device to work!! Replacement parts, agonizing struggles with repair, finally, finally it is working. It only makes 3 and ½ gallons an hour and really you need to be running the engine, so we make water when we need to run the engine for others things such as, propelling us (gentlemen don't sail to windward - they motor -) charging the batteries (our solar panels can not keep up when we are running our navigation lights and radar, chart plotter, all night long.)

So anyway now we keep the tanks topped up and gradually I trust it enough, so as to not fill every recycled drink, vinegar, bleach bottle I can get my hands on . . Not to mention the 25 gallons on deck in jerry jugs!

What clinched it, a few days ago, was a bottle of water that spilled when we were in rough seas and soaked our charming carpet After a few days I realized what the new and familiar smell was. . . You will never guess . . . Ancient kitty wee wee. Yup! Dave and Sandra had a trusted pussy cat on board and now I know that she didn't always make it to the litter box.

So I am grateful to the kitty for giving me a final shove in the direction of de- cluttering the cabin.

Today after sailing all night westward we are motoring southwest to get past the unfavorable current and southerly wind. We should pick up the trade winds in another 50 to 100 miles. Less than a 1000 to go now to land fall.

We had several breakdowns as we were leaving the Doldrums, they just had to have their way with us didn't they. It had been so easy up till then. I think Joe has told you about all of this . . . Broken regulator for battery charging with the alternator and broken auto pilot. My job, , , helpful suggestions, finding AND READING all the technical info stuff we have about each bit, and keeping Joe's spirits up. He on the other hand has to do the dirty work which often involves schematic drawings to try and figure out what the heck those who came before have done, testing, jury rigging if necessary and ultimately fixing nearly everything that breaks. It is a part of him that most of you don't know intimately, Joe the fixer upper.

Perusing the other cruisers, honestly, they are mostly nerds with tans. Don't believe all those glossy pictures in the magazines, and yacht brokers ads, what you need is electrical, mechanical skills, brute force, common sense, and a love of the unexpected. Also, we have our experts, and the radio to ask other cruisers, our fellow tanned nerds.

We are not yet weaned from our dear friend in Panama. Rick -o - pedia we call him. When ever Joe was stumped we called fellow sailor Rick off of the vessel Inshallah. He would come, I would keep him fed and well watered with forty- nine cent Panamanian beers and he would go to town solving our problems. Not always the cheapest solutions to our problems because he always went for quality parts but by and large the best. Probably the greatest thing he gave us was a crash hot installation of our long range radio so everyone can hear us.

So now when Joe goes kind of white with tension as another apparently insoluble problem arises, I say ask Rick. Joe fires off an email and by the time he has explained the problem to Rick he's ½ way to fixing it. Most often we don't hear from Rick until the mini crisis is all over but he has helped as always. So thank you Rick again!

I've noticed that most everyone's psychological and physical problems get projected onto their boats. So there is very little call for Adrienne "the counselor". Once in a while I find someone who is curious about the Ancient I Ching or I am able to bring out Kate's wonderful 1000 images for a playful reading, but mostly as I say everything gets projected onto boats, and government bureaucracies - - the same the world over, irrational logic and desperate to appear brilliant in their management of all things under their jurisdiction. Mind you, occasionally we find a real human being beaming from behind his or her desk and then the process is just refreshingly simple. And you get lots of beautiful documents with gorgeous colorful seals or stamps on them!

Enough for today, bless you all dear ones. From A

PS a wonderful birthday to you Kate.

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Day 17 - Things Start to Break
Joe
05/04/2010, Underway from Mexico to Marquesas

Day 17 Mon May 3

The autopilot seemed to get very sick and die today. It gave off some pitiful little squeals and kept saying its name, like a neurotic to his psychiatrist.

It had ingested considerable amounts of rainwater, so it was quite understandable. Attempts were made to dry it out, but so far no cure has been found, and we fear the worst.

In the meantime the wind has come to draw us out of the doldrums, where the Bluebottle wallowed ungracefully while I tried to fix the alternator regulator. This device had apparently malfunctioned, so we were faced with overcharging the batteries or not running the engine at all, and if no engine then how to get out of these windless doldrums? Rain drizzled down and we rolled heavily in the beam on swells.

Disconnecting the alternator was the eventual solution, after hours of chasing the fascinating alternative of an INTERNAL regulator, a built-in one, that could come up for the job if only we could solve the wiring puzzle. Adrienne pored over the manuals awhile I did schematic drawings, naming the colour of each wire, and losing tiny screws into the bilge.

I make fun of it all, as a means to put it in perspective and stay hopeful. After all to have two major pieces of equipment quit on one day, 1,000 miles from landfall can seem daunting. Later on, in order to charge the batteries, I reconnected the alternator and the regulator, and it seems to work okay. Either it fixed itself or it was a false alarm.

With no wind and engine running we hand steered for a some time in rolly confused swells, just to feel we were getting out of the cloudy rainy old doldrums and stretch out towards the Southeast trades. Then a light breeze sprang up from the South, which is where we wanted to go. Re-configuring the Monitor self-steering vane we started to sail, sometimes at 5 knots. But mostly West. Not the best, but it was night and at least the vessel was steering herself. The stars were out and the sound of the bow wave was comforting. Such it is now.

----------------------

PS To my daughter Kate - Happy Birthday, darling.

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05/06/2010 | Sam Blake
Love you guys, your amazing!!!!!! Thinking of you, i'm so proud of you!

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BLUEBOTTLE (ex-Aura)
Who: Adrienne Godsmark and Joe Blake
Port: Hobart
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