Little Green Boat

Spruce circled the Pacific between 2013-2019: South Pacific Islands, NZ, Australia, Asia, Japan, Alaska , Canada, USA, Mexico then back to French Polynesia in 2020. The plan is to go on to the Indian Ocean in 2021.

21 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-10)
20 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-9)
19 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-8)
18 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-7)
17 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-6)
15 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-5)
15 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-4)
14 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-3)
13 March 2020 | On Passage - Mexico to French Polynesia (Day-2)
12 March 2020 | Manzanillo - Colima - Mexico
03 March 2020 | Bahia Chamela - Mexico
03 March 2020
03 March 2020
03 March 2020
28 February 2020 | Yelapa - Banderas Bay - Mexico
28 February 2020
28 February 2020
28 February 2020
28 February 2020
28 February 2020

Return to the Ocean so Blue

19 September 2020 | Fatu Hiva - Marquises - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Spruce set off from Amanu on 14th September. A whoosh of a 5-knot current and swirling eddies swept us through the reef passage and out of the beautiful lagoon we had enjoyed for 4-weeks. North lies the Marquises Archipelago and her most south-eastern island, Fatu Hiva.
The Marquises are situated some 3000-miles from the continent of the Americas. They are at the north-eastern (upwind) limit of French Polynesia. We last stopped there in 2013 after a long passage from the Galapagos Islands in April.
Faintly ahead in the photo can be seen our destination. The stunning cliffs of Fatu Hiva climb slowly above the horizon as we briskly sail on a close reach towards the conclusion of a 460-mile boisterous passage from the Dangerous Archipelago, The Tuamotus.
Winds had occasionally been in the high twenties knots but more usually around 19-24knots. We had bashed into trade wind heaped seas close hauled for some of the time. Fortunately, that had eased to close reaching for the remainder. An average foul current of 0.3 knots had plagued our progress for most of the journey, sometimes at as much as a knot, infrequently a slight fair current, less than significant but an extra 3 or 4-hours sailing to compensate over the whole 78-hour journey.

Return to the Ocean so Blue (cont)

16 September 2020 | Fatu Hiva - Marquises - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Spruce approached the southern coast of the island rapidly. The trade winds, squeezed by the cliffs, became stronger for the last few miles, blowing at up to 28-knots. The breeze followed the curve of the southern coast, thus the wind direction helpfully came around more onto the beam, it made for a lively sail into an altogether different landscape, when compared with the low level atolls of the Tuamotus.
Once behind the island, in the lee of high land, we lost the wind. The engine was started and left ticking over to warm up while we messed about stowing sails and preparing to motor the last couple of miles to our anchorage. As we engaged gear, the raucous screech of an engine alarm sounded. A quick check revealed an overheated motor. Mainsail hoisted again. Trim the sail, and slowly we began beating into the beautiful Baie Vierges. Naturally, it was directly into the wind. A fickle gusty wind that howled off the cliffs in sudden blasts, then instantly dropped to naught. Each blast from a different direction as the gusts ricocheted off the steep walled cove. Several tacks were made, moving at 2-3 knots boat speed. Gradually, we crept into the bay. Heading close to the cliffs each side before tacking. Finally, just a short distance from our previous visit, we lowered the anchor with a rattle of chain.

Return to the Ocean so Blue (cont)

15 September 2020 | Fatu Hiva - Marquises - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
The afternoon sun lit the spectacular cliff-scape optimally. Deep shadows accentuated the contours and relief. Time for a cup of tea. Time to let the engine cool down and then to work. Find the fault, fix and recover mechanical propulsion.
Last time here there were a dozen craft scattered around the steeply shelving bay. This time we were the only boat here. The strange pillars of volcanic conglomerate and lava, weathered to their unusual shape, seem far more eerie when anchored here alone.
Investigation found a blade missing from the pump impeller. A most frustrating incident as we replaced that impeller only 130 engine hours ago. The internal surfaces of the pump are fairly worn by 3,500 hours of usage, perhaps the pump is less efficient; we dug into our extensive spares locker, retracted a brand new shiny pump and installed. We also checked through the rest of the system: exhaust elbow,clear; salt water feed from sea-cock,clear; heat-exchanger, clear. A quick start while measuring the flow: 5-seconds to fill a bucket. All A-OK. Refit the hose. Start and test. The problem has been resolved. The need for a rebuild kit for the old pump has been added to the shopping list.
It has been an exhilarating passage and has moved us into a region where we can spend a few months safely during the impending cyclone season. Our application to enter New Zealand to undergo refit work, submitted 47-days ago still has received no answer. The clock has just about run out of time to entertain that passage now. If we do receive a last moment approval from NZ and then need to have a face-to-face outbound-clearance visit with officials in French Polynesia, prior to departure, we would immediately want to anchor for a 2 week isolation period before leaving: to be sure we would not be taken ill with Covid-19 during the passage...then it will take perhaps another 4-weeks getting to NZ. That timeline would most likely take us beyond the commencement of the cyclone season which starts in only 42-days. Then there is also the consideration that should we suffer an equipment failure en-route we would have no time-contingency remaining to avoid being waylaid in the zone most prone to cyclones. We are erring towards new thinking... even if NZ does say OK at this late stage, we may take the prudent option and remain in French Polynesia.

Allurng Amanu

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Amanu is another atoll in the Tuamotus Archipelago of French Polynesia. This loose chain of atolls sprawl in a NW to SE direction, scattered across a broad band of the South Pacific Ocean: measuring some 750-miles long by 250-miles wide. The distances within Oceania are truly vast compared with a normal European scale; this is but one of five archipelagos that comprise French Polynesia. Many atolls boast a small village. Some have no human habitation at all. Very few have a larger village such as Hao with around 1,600 people. At the southern end of the Tuamotus is Mururoa Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing until fairly recently. There remains a large zone of exclusion where landing upon atolls is forbidden. Although few would volunteer to visit such places.
Hao and Amanu are classed as central Tuamotus, farther north lies Rangiroa and other atolls closer to Tahiti, they show more development and have more visitors. Yachting folks have the advantage of their own transport and accommodation, thus enabling them to visit more remote and less well served locations.
The formation of an atoll is a prolonged process. First a volcanic mountain has been lifted out of the ocean, rather like in the Marquises to the north. Over many millennia a coral reef forms around the edge of the mountainous isle. That peak slowly sinks as the earth's tectonic plate moves away from the site of creation. In this case the Pacific Plate moved south-east. While sinking, the coral reef continues to build upwards, and the rate of sinking is slow enough, the coral remains close to the surface of the ocean as it grows. Eventually, a band of coral encircles the descending peak, leaving a ring of lagoon enclosed within. Exactly as found in the Society Islands, like Tahiti, today. Over many more millennia, the peak sinks below the surface, the coral continues to grow. Sediment from coral and eroding rock maintains the lagoon's depth at a few tens of metres, Finally, the mountain peak is gone. All that remains is a ring of coral reef surrounding a shallow lagoon. Hence resulting in the Tuamotu atolls and a few other similar archipelagos in the major oceans of the world.
During the entire process a protected haven exists in the middle of an otherwise hostile ocean for varied life to form, arrive and evolve. The huge timescales involved are virtually impossible for we short lived humans to comprehend.
The photo above shows the relentless ocean swell crashing onto the outer reef of Amanu on a relatively calm day at close to low tide.

Allurng Amanu (cont)

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
A wide flattish expanse lies between the jagged outer reef, where the underwater precipice falls away into the oceanic abyss, and the motus (small islets atop the reef) are situated closer to the inner littoral edge where the lagoon is found. This outer reef plateau is constantly replenished with a layer of aerated bubbly sea water. Each larger train of thundering waves brings new water foaming across the undulating coral shelf. At high tide all is covered, with only a metre of tidal range. At low tide small black tip sharks skulk through the shallows, bellies against the limestone, dorsal fins ominously projected above surface. They snake their way across the semi-submerged plateau preying upon Parrot-fish and other denizens limited in their options for escape at low tide. Other predators include the serpentine Moray Eels, small specimens but still up to a metre in length. They sinuously move into hollows, under rocks and across wet zones out of water as they search for unwary morsels. Our approach elicits a fast retreat, but if backed against an obstruction they rapidly become aggressive, needle like teeth bared with mouth open wide.

Allurng Amanu (cont)

05 September 2020 | Amanu - Tuamotus - French Polynesia
Sue & Andy
Creatures defending themselves against predators include a variety of crabs. Some, like the Hermit Crabs, rely on a discarded shell for a protected home. This strange beast has its own strong carapace and a single large pincer. Each species specialises to occupy its own niche in this vibrant ecology. This fellow merely waved his vivid red claw in a threatening manner when accosted by a camera lens, maybe it deters most predators.
The patterns of light reflected from the water's surface interfere with brightly illuminated pale coral beneath. Focusing on objects submerged is difficult, but the colours and shimmering sparkling sunlight is an unquestioning pleasure to appreciate. The sensory assault is completed by a cacophony of sound from waves crashing ashore, seabirds floating aloft, Terns squeaking, Boobies cawing and croaking. Terns soar above the shallow edges of an intensely bright turquoise lagoon, their white under-feathers glow with reflected aquamarine. Ones eyes take a second look, a disbelieving stare to take in the eerie luminosity of the uncanny image presented by a blue-green bird.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges. Both aare working hard, harder than last time, at learning French while in French Polynesia again.
During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-18 brought us from Asia to Washington State via the North pacific Rim. In 2019 we aim to cruised BC and then south to Mexico. In 2020 we headed back out into the Pacific with a 3,200M passage to Les Gambiers [...]
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Spruce's Photos - Back to the Caribbean
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Sue doing fin pivots part of the skills tests
Swapping regulators to share air
Drills for Sharing air.
Large (massive)shoal of "Grunts"
Bobbing on the surface - ready to descend
Its like flying!
Just the sounds of bubbles, and more bubbles, and yest more bubbles
A prickly customer!
Sue doing the book work.
Cheesey grin.
Look no hands!
Sue makes a big splash.
Beach frolicks on Christmas Day - Left to right: Laura, Stuart, Sam, Alice & Ed
Beach frolicks on Christmas Day - Adrian, Andy and Steve in foreground
Beach frolicks on Christmas Day - Frisbee water-polo. The first frisbee sunk and was not found in stirred up and myurky waters
Dinghy Park on the beach
Left to Right -Goi, KP, Kourtney, Pete, Gavin, Mandy
Stuart - "It was this big" - from Ocean Lady
Andy flanked by Mandy (Secret Smile to his right) and Laura (Ocean Lady to his left)
Sunrise on Christmas day at Prickly Bay
Sue shouting at the laptop with slow performing Skype
Christmas stockings
Christmas Regalia
Cooking aboard
Our home - now we need a good recipe for green bananas.
Opening the present carried from La Gomera by Pete and Kourtney (Aboard Norna) and sent by friends Andy & Lesley Scott (aboard Kodiak still in the Canaries)
De Big Fish - Christmas meal on Christmas Eve
Laura (Ocean Lady)
Gavin & Mandy (Secret Smile)
Kourtney (Norna) and Sue (Spruce)
Sue ... but you could tell that anyway
Scorpion Fish
Moray Eel hiding amongst shells
Andy and Sue on dive boat heading fro Shark Reef
Sue very happy to have successfully done her first scuba-dive in the sea.
Andy, content that Sue is happy.
Rain while we hide beneath our deck awning
Sue says "OK"!
Drills and skills on scuba course
Drills and skills on scuba course
Dive boats are driven hard... it seems the plan is to get divers off the boat and into the water before they become seasick...we thought ourselves unlikely to succumb
Norna arrived in Grenada - Pete stowing the jib
What a big Avacado
Susie (True Blue), Andy (Spruce), Robin (Flapjack) - arrival celebrations aboard True Blue on the day Flapjack dropped anchor in Prickly Bay
Caribbean Cookery master-class
Produced at Sue
Norna arrives in Grenada
Norna arrives in Grenada - Kourtney on the helm
The entrance to Prickly Bay Grenada.
Getting closer to Grenada.
Hog Island very crowded this year.
Prickly Point. Prickly Bay just around the corner
Prickly Bay
Local fisherman. Our first local since arriving in the Caribbean
Dinner aboard Ocean Lady. Left to Right: Alan, Stuart, Laura, Andy and Sue behind the camera