Tue Apr 10 5:29:00 EDT 2012
Just a quick note to say we have safely anchored in a nice little cove off Pagan Island. The boat is hardly moving so we should get a good sleep tonight - first in 4 or is it 5 nights. We will push off tomorrow evening after doing some exploring and expect to arrive in Saipan around sunrise on Friday.
Thought the island was unihabitated on account of the active volanco but there is a light about 1km down the beach.
Andrew has recovered from his seasickness now and is cooking - first time for everything. Did not know he is a bigger 80's fan than I am. With Pat Benetar playing I am signing off.
Mon Apr 9 10:56:00 EDT 2012, Waypoint No. 165
Hooked on Maug and Andrew's slippery surprise
The wind did not let up all day and we think it was plus 30 knots. There were some big waves which came with it but we are really getting used to them. The boat is doing really well and Andrew has become a genius at setting the sails. Whilst the boat is old and little things keep breaking ? like one of the burners on the stove today ? she is much heavier and more solidly built than newer boats. He heavy keel keeps her as steady as we can expect and the strong build is peace of mind when we get slammed by a big thumping wave. Considering the 600 litres of water and fuel we are carrying plus all our other supplies I canft believe how we are just flying along for a little boat. Itfs great.
After passing Farallon de Pajaros we headed for Maug and on the way discovered that passionfruit go well on cookies. Think we are now going to be fighting over them now.
Maug is the caldera of an extinct volcano popping up out of the North Pacific and is comprised of 3 islands. (You can find it on google). It is simply huge! Steve ? the solo circumnavigator we met in Chichijima - spent 2 nights anchored there and spoke of how great the wildlife was. We had intended to take a quick look but on his advice decided to enter the caldera and anchor on East Maug.
After dropping the anchor we realized we were a bit exposed so went to retrieve it to find a more suitable location to spend the evening. The windlass (electric winch which pulls up the anchor) would not budge. We moved the boat a bit to try and break it free and it did. But the windlass still would not pick up the anchor. We were drifting, albeit in a controlled manner with the anchor with what seemed to be something very heavy attached to it. Not wanting to break the windlass we tried pulling it with our hands but no way was that possible. I have picked up the anchor and all its chain off the beaches in Shimoda and whilst it required some strength it was possible. It just confirmed we had picked up something. But out here what? Someone else's anchor and chain, a bomb from WW2? We tried to winch it in with the hand winches taking turns. After about 45 mins we had pulled in about 15 metres and still had another 60 to go. It was now dark and while one of us winched the other k ept the boat as much to the centre of the caldera as possible keeping away from the 3 islands. Concerned that things would simply go from bad to worse with something really big and heavy hanging off our bow and being in the middle of absolutely nowhere to get any help the skipper decided to unceremoniously cut the line. It was gone in a flash. I felt bad and donft know if it is a feeling of stupidity for trying to anchor in the caldera of an extinct volcano, guilt over the cost and also time it will take to get a new anchor in Saipan, or if I had some strange attachment to the old anchor which was used to hold us safe so many times while we slept. Actually the anchor is the cheap part at around a $250. The 30 metres of chain was worth more. There was something not right though and it could have cost a lot more if we had broken the windlass, winch or something else.
We have the original anchor that came with the boat as well as chain and rope so we are still okay if we need to stop and anchor somewhere before Saipan.
I tidied up deck while Andrew motored around in circles and kept us away from the 3 islands. I then went below to prepare a meal before setting off and got Andrew a can of drink in the process. As I was about to hand it to him in the dark he yelled out eyou did not have to throw it so hardf and with that he reached down and screamed like a woman. A flying fish had leapt on deck hitting him in the leg and before he could realize he had picked it up in his hand only to throw it away. It skimmed across the surface as fast as it could. It also stunk. But it was a nice comical break from the tension of trying to resolve the anchor problem.
I cooked spaghetti bolognaise, this time from a can and also made a soya latte to put in the thermos for my watch.
We flew out of the caldera with the wind behind us and have been doing about 6.5 knots SOG (speed over ground) since. Wefre well past the halfway point from Chichijima to Saipan and are now headed for Pagan Island ? ironic the day after Easter. The navigation computer has us arriving there at 5:30pm if we can maintain this speed.
Andrew is sleeping as he is exhausted from doing most of the winching. He wanted to stay in the caldera as the sea was flat there and it would mean we could get a proper sleep. I appreciated his concern and effort in trying to retrieve the anchor. He has been seasick for 3 days and only feels good when he is on deck helming. An electric device I purchased some years ago seems to be working for him now though. It is strapped to the wrist seems and emits an electric pulse every so often. Well if it works it works. The seas are also down to 1 to 2 metres (from 3 ? 4 yesterday) so hopefully that will give him some reprieve.
David PS: No apologies for typos. I am typing on a small laptop in the dark on a very rocky boat. If I type during the day for some reason I start to feel seasick ? think it is the heat and being able to see outside through the port holes that does it. In the dark I canft see through the port holes but can also only barely see the keyboard. And rocking around hanging on at the same time is not at all like being in the office where I am pretty good at typos too
Sun Apr 8 21:04:00 EDT 2012, Farallon de Pajaros
We finally arrived in the eTradesf. The trade winds here blow consistently from east to west. Initially we had a 15knot wind abeam and it built up to around 20knots and stayed consistent for about 12 hours. We then got a current behind us and our speed start to really build. We had been sitting on 6 to 7 knots (SOG) but we started to get 7.5, 7.8 then hitting 8. We then started sitting on 8, then 8.5 ? a new record under sail for Yarramundi - and then a couple of times hit 9. We thought it prudent to reef (reduce the sail size) and reefed to our second reef. The wind picked up shortly afterwards and we started getting the same speeds and one time hit 9.5 knots as we surfed down a wave. I kept checking the tension on the sheets (ropes) and they were fine as I could pull on them easily even with my gammy hand. I did not believe we were putting too much pressure on the rigging or the boat. It was simply the strong current that was helping us achieve those speeds.
I cooked dinner while Andrew was on watch. We still had some fresh Danish ham so I combined it with some onions, garlic, tomatoes and olives for a nice pasta sauce. Due to the conditions I wore my waterproof clothing in case the boiling water went flying. It was really getting rough and I could start to see blue out of the port hole in the galley.
It got dark and as the wind continued to build so did the seas. I decided to change our course a bit more down wind to make for a softer ride. The current had also shifted so that it was coming from the east. As we were planning to pass close to an active volcano island called Farallon de Pajaros the change in course would mean we will pass on itfs lee, the safer side so I think it has been a good choice. Especially given that the wind speed and wave size continued to build. (By the time I got up to posting this blog we had arrived at the volcano).
We are actually guessing on the wind speed. Our electronic wind gauge is out. Tried to fix it for a week and have given up. We were using the windex at the top of the mast to judge direction but as it got hot yesterday we put up the bimney (sun shade) and can no longer see it from the cockpit. Steve ? a solo circumnavigator we met in Chichijima said it would make us better sailors learning to feel the wind. I canft help but just look at which direction our Aussie flag is flying in and listen to the sound of the wind generator to judge the wind speed. I know it cuts out at 40knots and last night it kept cutting out!
At one point in the evening I noticed a large white breaking wave to our starboard side. For some reason it made me look over to the depth gauge and it read 75 metres. Our depth gauge only reads down to 180 and after that it just flashes with some random number on it. So if it is flashing it mean the water depth is over 180 metres. It was not flashing. It then read 68, 55, I looked at the plotter (boat navi) chart and it said we were in water around 1900 metres deep, 52, 48, and jumped out of the cockpit ripped off my beany and listened for the sound of breaking waves on a rock but could not hear any, 43, 38, I point the spot light but nothing, 35, 30, I prepared to turn the boat around, undid the gibe preventer, went to bring in the jib, 27, 24, eto heck with the jib, Ifll punch through with the motorf, I reached down to turn the motor on, 22, 18, 15, still no flashing, why is it getting shallower? There is nothing on the chart, there is supposed to be nothing here, I s tarted the motor to force us around 11, 8, 6.5, 3.2, flashing......false alarm..... bloody hell! Meanwhile, Andrew was down below asleep dreaming of what to do with the 12 passion fruit we were were given by Hirose San.
So what to do with Passion Fruit other than put them on a pavlova? No use writing it on the blog as we wonft be able to read it till we reach Saipan. We were given a box and canft think of what to do except make up a juice or eat them raw.
The sunrise this morning was truly magnificent. It reminded me of watching sunrises on the beaches of east coast of Australia when there is a big swell. The tops of the waves and their white crests were catching the warm orange light. I sat on the side of the boat mesmerized by the scene for over an hour.
The inside of the boat is a mess. We are healed over on our starboard side. For the first 10 days we were on our port side so we got used to living that way. When we entered the eTradesf yesterday everything go flipped around. I canft even work out how to cook as I keep falling into the stove. When the weather settles a little Ifll mount a clean-up campaign. Or maybe I should just leave it looking like the living quarters of a couple of blokes for 2 weeks.
Back up on deck - I love it out here.
Sun Apr 8 16:06:00 EDT 2012, Northern Marianas
A juvenile flying fish made an unsuccessful attempt to hitch a ride and escape Japan yesterday afternoon as we crossed into the territory of the Northern Marianas. It has been a rough night and a most magnificent orange sunrise revealed the 4 metre rolling waves which made it so. I sat watching them for an hour appreciating how lucky I am to be here to witness the scene.....and also thinking of the thousand things I need to do today to keep things shipshape. The conditions have Andrew a bit pale.
Will write again after some sleep and breakfast.
Forever the walking to-do list.
Sat Apr 7 5:37:00 EDT 2012
We motored from Hahajima for about 20 hrs through Lake Pacific. No wind and no swell at all. No ships, nothing on the radar or AIS. We stopped the boat to move some fuel from the jerry cans to the fuel tank and were very happy to find that at 2200 RPM we only used 0.95 litres an hour. Under the conditions we were getting about 5.8 knots. When we were punching through the waves out of Hachijojima we used 3 times that to get 3.8 knots so I am glad to find out it was the conditions and not something wrong with the engine. 0.95 l/hr gives us a tremendous range for when we reach the doldrums near the equator.
I took advantage of the stop to go for a swim. We are near the Ogasawara Trench which I believe links up with the Marianas Trench. That meant there water depth was probably around 3kms. It was incredibly blue as the photo shows against Yarramundifs heavy thick keel. There was nothing else to take a photo of. I did not hang around as I have to admit a feeling that something hungry could be lurking.
After refuelling spent a couple of hours on repairs. Andrew noticed the traveller was coming loose on the starboard side so we got to work and replaced a couple of screws and washers and it is now firm.
There is now a very consistent 15 knots of wind from the East and this should last us all the way to Saipan. We are doing about 5 knots against a slight current without the engine. Good sailing.
Just about to click send and we have hit some debris in the water. It sounded like wood. Checked the steering and it seems all fine. If it was a container or a whale we would know about it. We will check it out in the morning with the underwater camera. Problem with sailing at night.
Fri Apr 6 18:26:00 EDT 2012, East of Iwo Jima
We have slowed down as the current is now against us and there is no wind at all.