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Adventures on Yarramundi
Gin and Tang Ceremony
David
Tue Jun 5 17:26:00 EDT 2012, Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia. The Caroline Islands.

How do you thank 25 thirsty blokes who a week ago went into the forest and chopped down a bunch of their valuable trees for you, then spent 3 days cutting them to size, designing and building a cradle using their own precious rope to support your boat all while following your directions. T hen when complete, carry it out into 6 feet of water and pulling, pushing tightening and tieing ropes to secure the boat into it. There is no off-license, no kakuyasu, no grog shop and no liquor store around here. We did however have a massive bottle of gin and 3 tubes of Tang. That sickly sugary vitamin c thing we have probably all had as kids. We had ordered 3 large cans of orange juice from Yap as that is how it is sold we thought but instead we got 3 cans of Tang - enough to make 60 litres of the stuff. We also had a lot of aussie beef jerky. So a couple of hours after we had be decoupled from the cradle and we had securely anchored we went ashore with our meager gifts.

Nicky and I quarreled over the ratio of gin and the concentration of Tang. Eventually it was Chan who decided. More Gin, less Tang. Everyone was to drink from the same cup. After a small speech I went around the circle of men 3 times pouring into the cup thanking each one before the supply had been depleted. One would have thought that this might have led to more drinking of coconut wine or something. No, we disbanded, Nicky and I returned to the yacht and watched a dvd grateful for what they islanders did for us.

Wed Jun 6 1:30:58 EDT 2012 | Kay Waki
Wow David. What an adventure you're having! What you've been going through is far more adventurous than my adventure racing.
Amazing how much the islanders have done for you, but that's just great and there's much we, who don't have that kind of hospitality in the culture, can learn from them. And how to thank people like you did...!
Thank you for sharing your experiences and I look forward to more of your blog posts.
Sun Nov 25 0:50:29 EST 2012 | pius taiwerpiy
Nice pictures. That's my home island. Left the island back in 1999 when I moved here to Hawaii.
Shakedown cruise a success
David
Tue Jun 5 6:58:00 EDT 2012, Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia. The Caroline Islands.

A mackerel sky at night is a sailors delight

Well I think that is the saying but I could be wrong. We do have a mackerel tonight and things are looking a lot better.

This little girl aged 13 paddled out in her dad's canoe after he had finished fishing for the day. The winds were over 20 knots and it was raining on and off. All she wanted was some chocolate so how could we refuse. She had trouble getting back in so Nicky got in the kayak to tow her. Still holding her kit-kat she refused help. Nicky then advised that it would be better she ate it now before the others saw it. Too late. She only got half and shortly after we had several more youngsters in canoes risking the strong winds for chocolate. Ok - no more sweets for the kids from the boat!

David

Shakedown cruise a success
David
Tue Jun 5 1:43:00 EDT 2012, Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia. The Caroline Islands.

Thomas, Chan and Chan's son Melvin navigated for us yesterday on a nail bitting trip out to sea through the lagoon's middle entrance. It is a dog leg's entrance and we found it both difficult to navigate going out and then returning in to. Think we will use the narrow but straight entrance we used when we first came in when it comes to leaving.

My mouth was dry and I was shaking the entire time. Not only concern over hitting again but concern over the repairs holding up. We motored around a bit and found water in the bilge. Emptied it and found it did not return. I have had this happen before. There are so many places for water to get trapped and once you get out to sea and rocked around it starts appearing in the bilge. We then put up the main sail 3rd reef and ran with the wind toward Yap doing 3.4knots. The wind was between 15 and 20 knots and the waves 3 to 4 feet. We turned around came back through the lagoon entrance, attached back up to our anchor and celebrated with 3 not so very cold but very enjoyable bottles of wine with our new friends.

There has been no leak whatsoever since. I have therefore decided to sail to Yap. The earliest would be tomorrow afternoon but still a few things to get done so more likely Thursday. All weather permitting.

We will lodge our sail plan with Guam Coast Guard and also Australian Maritime and won't go if they say don't. We plan to only use sail to steady the boat to reduce pressure on rudder. Will keep our sea anchor ready to deploy from the bow should we get strong winds or a storm.It is nearly 400 nautical miles so we are bound to hit a couple of squalls.

I am not going to write all details here of our repairs or the how we plan to sail to avoid a barrage of arm chair advice and comments. I have chosen to work with 4 good people on this and they have devoted a lot of their time. We have spent a lot of time discussing and debating every detail and I feel confident we have done the best we can and the boat will withstand the journey.

David

Tue Jun 5 4:12:47 EDT 2012 | David Heil
It sounds like it will be a nice sail with the wind from the aft and small swells. Enjoy!
Sun Nov 25 0:54:59 EST 2012 | pius taiwerpiy
My two drinking buddies.
Another anchor story
David
Sun Jun 3 5:06:00 EDT 2012, Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia. The Caroline Islands.

We are so glad we moved out the cradle when we did. Our last night was rather windy. Nothing like what we have seen these last couple of nights which is why we moved. Anyway in the middle of the night it really picked up and the noise work both Nicky and I. I got into the cockpit to see that the the angle of the ropes that were tying us down had changed which meant we have moved. Looking around we could see the bow line was loose. I donged on my bathers and snorkeling gear and found that the coral boulder it has been around had come completely out. There was not much else to tie on so I used our danforth anchor and piled coral boulders over it and then got on the boat and pulled us back into place. It got a lot of coral cuts and bruises and a big swollen elbow out of it. The next morning this is what our anchor looked like. You can see the top of the anchor poking out the left and the chain coming out on the right. Glad to say it did not budge.

Going back to our current anchor situation and relatively short rhodes. For those inclined I forgot to mention I have installed a kellet on the rhode with the shortest length off chain and have a sentinel to retrieve it.

David

The rain and the Shimoda Connection
David
Sun Jun 3 2:09:00 EDT 2012, Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia. The Caroline Islands.

We have had 3 days of bad weather now. I readjusted 2 of our anchors this morning so they spread the load around a bit better. The wind is from a constant direction so we are not in trouble of turning around and getting tangled. If we get a decent break I'll pull up our main anchor and move it further out to the middle of lagoon and put a longer rope on it. The problem is I was not expecting to be anchoring in 20 metres (66 feet) of water. To safely anchor you need to have 8 times your depth in rope, or 3 times your depth in chain to ensure the anchor pulls against the sand at a low angle and is not pulled upwards and out. We have combination chain and rope but don't match those multiples at all. I was expecting these lagoons to be no more than 10 metres. We do however have a huge anchor and two other anchors also a little oversized for this boat so I am hoping that makes up for it. So far they have not budged and Friday night we had constant 30knot winds gusting sometimes to 25knots. I know some would say we would be better off taking the chain and rope from one or both of the other anchors and making a really long rhode (the rope and chain combination from boat to anchor). But I somehow feel uneasy sitting all night in this wind on just one anchor and one anchor line. We only need one link to break and....! I am probably too fixated on these anchors and perhaps writing up too much about them. But they are our lifeline so it is a healthy fixation for now. There has been damage on the island with this wind and rain. Enough to knock down some big trees and a lot of breadfruit from them.

Breadfruit is to these islanders what rice is to Asians and the spud is to the Irish. Whilst it is a fruit and grows up on a tree it is remarkably like a potato. Full of complex carbohydrates they can be be eaten boiled, mashed or even fried as we pleasantly discovered. Breadfruit chips are nice. They are a little sweet too. I've been noticing that there are different varieties too. The fruit is about the size of a small water melon and green and a bit spikey. Accordingly the trees grow to a massive size. Not that tall but huge with big black trunks. The older leaves are like large somewhat spikey elephant ears (the plant not the animal) whereas the younger leaves at the top are rounded. As one walks around them in the forest at the back of the village lots of noises can be heard as lizards and large crabs clamber over the burtress roots and into their safe homes. On this mornings walk after Saint Joesph's I came across a young coconut crab doing just that. He could not be bi g enough to crack a coconut so must feed on something else till his claws are bigger. He was not docile either clambering away at quite a rate unlike the older ones which move at a snails pace.

On this island they have decided not to hunt coconut crab except at Christmas time when they share a couple around or when someone is sick and requests one. When the people on Woleai visited and saw the crab population returning and heard about the policy they adopted it too. The use of spear-guns is also banned in the lagoon. Another local policy. They noticed soon after they started using them that the fish become spooked (perhaps a Pavlovian reaction to the sound of spear head hitting coral or rock) and started to even fear the canoes thus were getting harder to catch even with a line.

Jeremiah photographed above visited the other day. He showed me a spear head they use to catch turtles. It was still in it's packet which had Japanese writing on it and a price tag. He asked if I could somehow send some back to them when I returned to Japan. When I looked closer I could not believe to see that the package was from Shimoda my Japanese home town!! What a remarkable coincidence. I retrieved my own fishing tackle which I had bought in Shimoda and sure enough it was from the same shop. Shimoda Gyo-Gu just 150 metres from where I kept Yarramundi. How the hell did something from a Shimoda fishing tackle shop end up here?

Rain has abated a little so time to do some deck work.

David

Sun Jun 3 20:16:07 EDT 2012 | Ollie
OH MY GOD!!! Just got your email. Had not looked at blog for some time, assumed it was all plain sailing!! Can't believe that. Best of luck and much love from all the Clissolds to you guys. Knowing you, I am quite confident to be welcoming you in the Brisbane river some time soon!! What an adventure! Ollie
Lunch with the Chief
David
Sat Jun 2 8:19:00 EDT 2012, Faraulep, State of Yap - Federated States of Micronesia. The Caroline Islands.

I don't know where today went. Got only a couple of chores done such as repairing my thongs - that is flip flops for North Americans. But the chief visited requesting I visit him and try and fix his VHF radio. As we have had bad weather on and off we moved the boat so we are now in the middle of the lagoon. That means getting to shore now takes about 20mins. To make matters worse in last nights wind we lost our good paddle. So going to visit someone and having to make small talk along the way (at sea and on land) means a round trip of at least 2 hours. My visit with the chief coincided with lunch. As Nicky earlier wrote he had tasty mackerel when he visited. I got stewed turtle and boiled breadfruit while showing the chief how to use the Kanazawa chopsticks I had bought with my sister Maria a year or so ago. As we shared the chopsticks and he practiced using them there was no escaping those big oily morsels of turtle. Fortunately he had sparred me the tripe and although I did not know it at the time it had been caught in the morning and not the day before so my stomach should be ok. The thought that the meat had been sitting for a hot day in a fly covered pot was more powerful than my ability to discern it's flavor but I now recall it tasted pretty good.

We have had almost no contact with any of the women here.(And one of the reasons there are no photos on the blog is that they are nearly always topless so I don't feel comfortable taking their photo)! It was therefore pleasant to watch at lunch when the chief translated everything I said for his wife. He genuinely wanted her to know what I was saying. In fact many times I felt I was being explained to her rather than being part of any conversation.But it was the first time here where I saw a woman being included in something. She was drinking Japanese tea so when I returned a couple of hours later with a VHF radio still no not working I brought along several bags of English and ginger tea to make up for it. I also brought some fish hooks from Shimoda....more on the Shimoda fish hook connection tomorrow. And yes I have not forgotten I still have not written about the Gin and Tang ceremony but for now back to today's lunch..

Thinking that was the end of the turtle I walked back to where I had tied up the kayak and Thomas saw me and said, I am cooking your share from this morning's catch. "When we catch a turtle all families must share it so I have your share with me". Very nice to be considered one of the local families I must admit. While I looked on at the stew being prepared he lent me his machete so I cut open a coconut and we drank together while he explained how they brand their chickens.

Chickens run all over the island. They are not penned in. How does one family know theirs from anothers? Well a chicken has five toes, or is that claws or toes on a claw - I had not noticed this. Check next time you are at dim sim. Each family has their own five claw code and the chickens claws are cut accordingly. Thomas' family claw code is 2, 4. That is digits 2 and 4 are severed. For his neighbor it is 2, 3. What a convenient way to avoid a squabble with one's neighbor. I am no mathematician but I am guessing providing you don't mind chopping off up to 4 of your chicken's digits that there are enough combinations for a couple of islands before you have to start creating codes for left and right feet.

I made it back to the boat with a parcel of food and Nicky picked at it. We then got around to rethinking our anchors as there is a typhoon forming east of the Philippines and a tropical depression also south of Yap. This would be explaining the bad weather we have been having. I decided to reset our 16 kg danforth anchor so it could share the load a bit more with our big 22 kg plough anchor against winds from the east. We pulled it up, lengthened the rhode a little and I rowed out with it and let it go. We are in 20 metres (66 feet) of water and I am pleased that finally today after a couple of weeks of diving below the boat I was able get down on a breath and not only touch the bottom but do some work like move the anchor around so it sets properly. We also put out the dinghy anchor so with 4, I mean 3 and a half anchors all really well set and sharing the load I am sure Nicky will get a good nights sleep. And we are still getting no more than a cup a day leaking from the crack.

We are now just standing by for some good weather to do a test sail with the repairs and watch what happens.

David Photo is of Chief's hut. On left is Saipan Rotary donated salt maker. Plant in foreground is local tobacco.

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