WWR- WWW Update #23
26 October 2018 | Ebeye, Kwajalein Atoll, RMI
Karen / WInd- NW 10-12, Sunny, a few clouds
Hello Good People,
FIrst, as a preamble to what might be a rather long and perhaps, chaptered update, I have decided to talk about the sailing from MY point of view. The WWR stands for “ What Went Right” and therefore you can figure out the corollary for the second part of the title. To explain a bit about the sailing culture, radio net talk starts with boat identification, people onboard, position in lat and long on the earth, wind velocity, direction, sea state, compass heading, boat velocity, distance to objective ( anchorage), and/or nautical miles to go. If all that is heard you are lucky, it is then given back to you in “your read back” from the net controller. The usual ending is “ all well onboard”. If nothing else is heard, your identification and the “ all well onboard” take you off their possible concern list until the next day , at the “ same time, same station” when the volunteer net control person incharge on that day,does a repeat of the day before checking in any vessels underway , or wanting to get under way and have the luxury os someone watching them who might be able to give a helping hand should it be needed. These nets are often local as in the one we check into or our little passages between the atolls of the Marshall Islands or vastly organized networks of people around the globe covering huge territories. AN example of this would be the Pacific Seafarers Net which meets daily 365 days a year at 0300 Zulu. We used that net to cross from Mexico to Polynesia. The reassuarance that they are always there, cannot be uderstated. Currently, for example we listen in on an irregular basis to hear where our friend Jeanne Socrates is currently located. Google Jeanne and sv Nereida if you want to read about a female sailor in her mid- seventies circumnavigating, non- stop for the third time. She has a blog as well that may well stimulate some heavy duty night time reading for you.
Well, that being said, getting the “ all is well onboard” out of your mouth on the net does not tell the story of what is going on at any time in terms of life on your boat.The perverbial shit can be hitting the fan but come hell or high water, you check in to let everyone know that really, at the end of it, when the salt water settles, you and your crew are alive and well. Until that is not the case, no one wants to hear your whining and complaining. That’s sailing. Perhaps there is a life comparison here in a broad sense. Perhaps that is why, there is ofen little talk of actual problems that arise and how they are dealt with, both in sailing and in general. Why would we want to (a) open ourselves up to criticism and pehaps feel stupid when we already are self lambasting anyway? Or (b) it worked out fine so I’ll just put that in my own memory bank and pull it out if I ever need it again and it really wasn’t a bg deal”. If you ever get together with sailing folk, the men usually sit in groups and talk boat parts, the women sit and talk whatever, to get their minds off boat parts. Okay, I am generalizing- a lot. Often the boat part converstaions are well worth listening to and after awhile you realize there are many opinions on what the right thing to put on, take off, increase, decrease and what may well be just another person who like to hear themselves talk when they don’t know any more than the next guy. We have all been there at some point in some walk of life. The people lookng for someone stupid enough to listen to their drivel.I know , cuz I have been that person ( talking drivel). This likely fits right in there. I make a joke, no I don’t , now I have you guessing. The psychology of why people act the way they do, what they are looking for in that interaction, from you or from others, well, it makes the world tick. Like a bomb, sometimes it explodes. Sometimes, the pieces can be put back together with a glue but will not likely ever be the same. But then sameness is over rated. Perhaps, when the “bomb” goes off, something better will come of it.
So back to the sailing.WWR: we got underway from Likiep atol about 9:00 am under main sail only. WE followed our track in on, so a reversal, on Open CPN, meaning we did not have to wait for the perfect light to get started. We were expecting ( and received) a North East wind of between 15 and 20 knots right on our tail on our track to Kwajalein Atoll ( RMI). OUr destination was Ebeye, near the US base of Kwajalein. Google that if you want some info on that and its importnace in the strategy of the influence in the Pacific. This atoll is known for its amazing wreck diving in which we plan to partake. Back to the sailing. We figure we would average 4 knots in predicted winds with mainsail only and arrive to go through the pass at a good time the next morning. Our distance was 105 NM. We did not want to go too fast so we decided to continue main alone. All went well. The winds increased and at dusk we put in the first reef on the main to give us more options whould we need them and to slow down a bit as we were averaging 5.6NM/hr.in a 3 hour period. We had few squalls during the night. Oh yeah, about 4:30, I was napping when I heard an unusual sound. Those sounds can wake you out of a dead sleep. A boat is a creaky , groaning almost breathing machine. It has its own noises that you know in the back of your brain. Whn that varies, you wake and are on alert whether you are sleeping or not. I followed the noise aft and I knew it was the auto pilot s soon as I reached the cabin door , which is always open. I went up to give Chuck the news. He was in the back making some adjustments to the dinghy strapping. We always remove the outboard for any passage but on short passages like this one, we super lash the dinghy to the davits instead of putting it on the foredeck. We had changed our lashing lines as we had found a few wearing parts, so Chuck was doing some adjustments. Remember, folks, I am using the “Royal We “here as more often than not, it is hHuck who is doing the innovation, the construction and fabrication of the many, many changes, adjustments etc. Okay, so he is back, there, has heard the noise but then it stops. It stopped because I have turned the auopilot to standby and am hand steering. So, no noise ... He comes back , I tell him, we decde on our watches which will likely be 1 hr.long to begin but then lengthen to 1.5 hours so two of us can be up when it is time to do the 3 hour recording of position ( everything that we say on the radio - so we know where we are if all hell breaks loose and we lose- EVERYTHING). That was a dramatic sentence but that is the purpose and after you have done that for close to 11,000 nm since Sept. 2016, you start to realize it is important if not mundane at times. So, changing on the 1.5 hr.s . I pull the mattress off its platform, and get out the tools Chuck requests and go back to the steering position, he goes back, takes the chain off the autopilot which is hot hot hot. Bolts the autopliot back into its place as that is the safest place for it. He takes over the steering, I get the supper ready ( the frozen spaghetti and meat sauce has almost thawed and it is ready in 5 min. We eat one at a time and then sit around telling ourselves its no big deal, we have done this before ( many times) and cogratulate ourselves that we have the reef in, the autoppilot defined, the supper cooked and eaten, dishes done and it is still 6:30 and therefore not dark. YEAH! We start our hourly shifts which will go to 1.5 at 9:00. We sail along in 17-20 knts. The night passes uneventully, at 4:00 I wake to hear the sail changing and realize we have gybed. At 4:45, it happens again and we are comfortably hove too in rolly seas, the slick that is created by this boat position makes your time one of relative calm. I go back to sleep. I get up and we start looking at weather, the winds have increased and the squalls are happening often. We sit, watch, eat, do the Local Yokwe net at 7:45 , button down the bimini, button up between squalls and decide to put a 2nd reef in the mainsail in case its gets dirty going through the pass. We have decided we will attempt the pass ( motor through but always have the main up in case something happens to your engine). The pass is supposed to be an easy one. WE have our Chart plotter ( it cut out once but came back on and has been behaving), we also have Open CPN on CHuck’s computer. Open CPN is Google Earth with satellite pictures of the atolls. SO cool.
So, we have decided that if we get to the pass and we do not like the look of it, we can abort , go back and hove too again but we will have to sail out a long way as we are on a lee shore ( that means the wind can blow you towards/onto the atoll which is not a position of choice-ever. We get to the pass, commit and the squall which I have estimated to be 1/2 an hour away comes up and hits over 25 knots. We get through following the waypoints, I come back from bow watch into the cockpit. CHuck tells me to take his computer below that has the Open CPN as it is getting wet. He is of course hand steering and can’t leave the cockpit. I do that, dry off the computer , say a silent prayer ( always go to god when feeling vulnerable-this is habit and I don’t know what to call it but that is another topic). Then it is back to the wheel, Chuck goes forward and starts looking for the markers that he has put in on the chart plotter that someone who has been here before us was kind enough to share. In that time, the boat has turned 180 degrees so I have no idea there are actually weigh points on the chart plotter too. Thank goodness for forsight- extra care by Captain CHuck. I have no idea where I am. It gets righted. I steer, Chuck stays forward in the driving rain and I head up towards the first waypoint. We get there and there is a balmie beside it. I am thankful for time of day as it is so overcasat, it would be hard to pick out if the sun was not overhead. Time for travel in atolls is between 10 and 2:00. We try to stick to this safety first precaution , especially in atolls where we have no track that either we or someone else has made. So we are following waypoints, no pre-track BUT sun obverhead in low skies. Then the 30 knots driving squall begins and Chuck comes back to the cockpit momentarily to turn on the Fog Horn- one long blast every 30 seconds ( I believe) to alert anyone else who has to be out in this torrent that we are there. Running and steaming lights are on, reefed 2nd main is centred. We continue, we follow the waypoints and identify each one. This atoll has few balmies because the US navy has swept most of them away- I think by dragging big chains between two boats, but I could be wrong ). We get to the last one, turn in towards the Ebeye town site and look for the recommended anchorage. There is apparently one sailboat that is always on a mooring. There are several empty moorings but, you can’t just take one as they usually belong to someone. We then try seeking a spot. The recommended spot seems too close for the depth of chain we would need for our boat. There is a huge freighter at the dock that we do not want to interfere with- always come out in a loss situation if you tangle with those big boys. We look for a spot in the inclement rainy weather. It is grey, we are having trouble seeing the bottom and defining what is there. We come up to what we think might be a good spot, dropping the anchor and laying out the appropriate chain- RATS- too close to the other boat- up comes the chain and anchor, move on. The windlass gets worked more than we want it to in this situation. It is just not holding. Finally, after twiddling around several more times, it comes to rest, we are happy with the back- up revs to set it and we shut it down- us and the boat. Put the main away (which we dropped on the way in as we turned into the wind on the last leg to Ebeye). Leave most everything the way it was as it is still raining but all is secure. We sit, check one last time on the anchor, put on the snubbing line ( takes the pressure off the windlass when the boat is dragging on the anchor and chain). I heat up the remnants of the spaghetti, we draw a beer and eat the last cookie that the kind acting Mayor’s wife gave us in Likiep ( our last atoll we visited). Chuck lays down and is instantly asleep, I send our GPS position to Gregory and Larissa along with a short email, play Lumosity and then my Ukulele and when I have got myself into my happy place, my lights go out. This little story is not about anything but what we would consider a relatively normal day of sailing so, the term adrenalin junky does not really apply, especially if you are born on the water. But , being a farm girl, it can still make me want to wind down a wee bit before I hit the hay.
So when we chat the passage over, we think we had a good outcome, we did a lot right, dealt with the things that could have been more of an issue quite well and came up with some plans to do some things better. There is ALWAYS room for improvement. We hate doing stupid mistakes more than once. Once a mistake, twice - an idiot. Three times- there’s a pattern emerging. HAHAHA- been there too many times. I guess that may be why I pray when the do-do hits the fan. Forgiveness and moving forward begins by owning up to being an idiot.
For those wondering, we do have a 2nd autopilot that CHuck will install. It is the original on the boat, and it gave up when we were on passage from Mexico. It was used in that situation ( maybe you read that update as well), also broke down but has been reparied. Now we get to try it out. WE will use it with discretion- no big seas or heavy winds where it has to work too hard. We will try it out in the Lagoon of course before we use it on passage.
Ebeye promises to be different than the other atolls( they are all different in their way). We will look for proprane ( we are now on the BBQ tank propane. We have heard there is none here save for the tiny bottles so we may be boat camping), reprovision, try to get access to regular internet and vist the acting mayor, clean up the jib lines , jack lines, this line and that line, drop the dinghy, put on the outboard. Etc etc. Life on the Katie G- NEVER A DULL MOMENT.
Peace - OUT
Sv Katie G
Update #22 - back on the Katie G and the voyage to Aur
14 August 2018
It has been a while since the last update from the Katie G. This will likely come in segments, as the email program is still, as far as I know, unreliable. I could lose my whole letter, as saving seems marginal, at best. Just when you think it is all going to go as planned, something eats your words - now there is something I have done before.
Well, now, where to start?
I guess I will go back to the 24th of February when I hopped on to the plane in Majuro and headed to Calgary via Honolulu, LA and then direct to Calgary. How long? 13+ hours of airtime and a few more hanging around at weird hours first in Honolulu in the wee hours of the morning and then in LA in one of the airport lounges (thank you M/C).
Hawaii was where I left my friend Sarah , also a cruiser, who was heading home to N.Z. We managed to almost miss our plane out of Majuro, as we had gone into the restaurant ordered a beer and food, paid and then sat back to wait for the flight. I slipped out to see what the status of the flight was, and they were announcing last call. I ran back to get Sarah (the food had not yet arrived, but the beer had) - one quick sip and away we went. Apparently, they were ready, everyone and everything checked in and accounted for, so they just decided to leave early.
I was glad I did not have to take the shuttle back, call Chuck and explain we had missed our flight - we had arrived well ahead of the 3 hour window needed. In Majuro, even though there is only one flight, you still have to get there super early, as the check-out crew is the same as the baggage handler crew and the check-in crew. So if you are late, one of the standby passengers gets your seat and you wait another week (and in my case, pay another $1700 US, as I never buy insurance).
So once in Hawaii, I was just coming out of the ladies room when I saw a familiar face walk by.
"Hey! I know you..." (it was so unexpected) - those were the words that came out, as Lance, Chuck's friend who was going to Majuro to visit/dive with Chuck, was walking by. Lance and I sat over a coffee at Starbucks and caught up, while waiting for our flights.
The early morning flight got me to LA on time and I arrived in Calgary and laid down in a real bed, in a 3-star hotel close to the airport. Then it was a shuttle back to the airport to catch the first airporter out to Banff.
The joy of returning home is an experience that took me back to my childhood when your stomach is all weird and your eyes are on overload. I can honestly say that the high continued the 4.5 months I was home. I don't think I could possibly write all the details of all the fun I had when home, but I may give that a try later. At the moment, I am going to swing back into the present.
Arriving back on the Katie G on July 12th after YYC- YVR- Honolulu (overnight in a hostel- 4 hours of layover) $45 cab ride back to the airport (more than the room) laden with 50 lbs. of boat parts in one suitcase and about 20 lbs. in the other, I checked in for the final leg. Then it was a shuttle back to the Tide Table were I was to meet Chuck. The rain stopped , if I remember right , for the dinghy ride out to the Katie G.
The last three and a half weeks have been mostly readying ourselves for our current adventure.
We filled out our applications to go to each of eight outer islands and took them in the next day. It took 16 days for the eight permits to come back approved.
Chuck met with a few of the outer island mayors (they all live in Majuro). I went along and met with one as well. They want to educate you and in some cases ask you to take things with you to their people. In some cases, flour, rice, cooking oil etc. Some of these islands only get two supply ships a year.
While waiting for the permits, I did the provisioning, leaving all the frozen food and fresh food until two days before. I tried to provision for about four months. However, in saying that, the amount of room you have for food storage is not huge. So every space is looked at we decided what will best keep there. Access for things you use often, temperature, what can't be stored next to each other ( potatoes and onions for example) and what kind of meals can you prepare. I have never bought as much flour and grains for bread making as this.
When we crossed to French Polynesia, we were at sea 22 days. If we stay out as long as we plan, this will be more like 60 - 100 days. Very different.
So, at the moment, we are eating all the things that don't last as long. It will be very interesting to see what takes us back to Majuro - food, fuel, death of important systems that cant be repaired out here. We are full with regards to diesel, gas for the dive compressor and dinghy. The water maker was working well till this morning. That is next on the list.
We decided we would use the inflatable kayaks to get to shore rather than use the dinghy and conserve our fuel. We got to Aur on Tuesday about noon. We left one of the anchorages close to the ass about 4:30 in the afternoon with a hope of the wind filling into around 10 knots for the passage to Aur. We had a most glorious sail with, up to 14 knots of wind on the aft of the beam and we made great time. There were only two little squalls which showed up on radar, but nothing hit us. All in all, it was a beautiful starlight sail with the Milky Way and the redness of Mars to provide the show for the night.
Aur is our first stop. It is about 60 nautical miles from Majuro. We got the anchor down, had to reset as felt we were in too much coral, even though we had our fishing balls attached to the chain to lift it at various depths. We had to power off one of the balmies that had caught our chain. We tried another spot and felt we were more successful. Chuck did the snorkel dive and pronounced it okay this time. After installing the sunshade, we languished in the heat and celebrated our first successful voyage in eight months!
Yes, it has been 8 months since we arrived in Majuro. Rather unbelievable how the time flies.
Next morning, I pumped up the kayaks, while Chuck was getting the weather, and we took our permit and the $25 to search for the acting mayor. We found the pastor, the acting mayor and several other people I will tell you about in the next episode. Now, I am going to try to send this out.
As always, we love to hear any and all news. It is the high point of our day. It doesn't have to be lengthy like this. I understand all of you are way busier than we are. Although there is always much to do, we do it according to time of day.
It is so friggin hot here, my kayak just lost its air - the glue came undone on one of the seams. Luckily I was back on the boat and it was in the water. Chuck looked down and said "you have a leak." In another few minutes all the air was out of the rear of the kayak. It has two segments. I had not inflated them to the level of green on the pressure gauge as I knew they would expand but, this was a surprise. My leaky kayak is the current project Chuck is working on before he tackles the water maker.
Once again, I digress. Just hard to shut it off, once I get going.
All right folks, BIG HUGS to all of you; be safe, be happy, keep your stick on the ice,
Best Mate Karen and Captain Chuck, SV Katie G
18 February 2018 | Majuro, Marshall Islands
Hello and Happy New Year! I believe I have not written since 2018 began and now we are nearly 2 months into it! Time , that most precious commodity next to health, is flying by at a rate that I would not have thought possible. As Chuck and I muse on life, our views on the importance of happiness, its recognition and fulfillment are subjects that we agree on. We are thankful for our many blessings and the choices we are able to make and proceed with.
We had the most wonderful and memorable Christmas with Kate joining us on the 20th of Dec. and she was able to stay until Jan.8th! We enjoyed Majuro atoll and went out to a couple of islands within the atoll. Kate and Chuck did some diving. We thought the 3 of us were going to be able to dive together but the gear we rented for Kate was faulty. Quick thinking on Kate's part made it a happy ending. The shut off valve on the BCD was stuck open and though it had been replaced by the shop earlier, and tested good when we did the checks, soon after her descent it stuck open. She was being squeezed and could not dump her air quickly enough. She surfaced while continuously dumping air. It would just free flow. All turned out well as luckily it happened very soon after descent so there was no nitrogen build-up. Kate continued with my gear for the rest of the time out and I got to relax and do my favorite things on the boat. The beauty of the time was that it was so relaxed that conversations had time to be resumed and finished. We got to hear details of life according to Kate and enjoy the many many blessings of family all in 46 x13.6 ft! The weather was mostly rainy but warm with periods and days of sun. All in all, it was the best weather we had since we have been here in the Marshall Islands.
Our mainsail arrived 2 days ago ( not sure if I said it shredded in a gale about 2 days out of Majuro). We are waiting for the wind and rain to settle down so we can put it up. So, with our "main engine" back in service, the adventure to other atolls can happen. There is no way, we would consider leaving the atoll without a Main. In the mean time, since Kate left, Chuck has been able to repair the watermaker which is beyond wonderful. Now we are able to use tank water for everything including showering and cleaning. That is such a huge addition to ease of life. There was a bit of panic as after he took it out of its wee hole, took it completely apart and cleaned every connection and piece resealed and put it together and back into its place, IT LEAKED. So, out it came again, took it all apart to access the two leaks and back together and in- successfully. 5 days of work and chaos as everything is apart and on the table and settee. In any case, all is well that ends well. I can not tell you the admiration I have for Chuck and his ability to never give up with these repairs that happen. As he says, "there is no choice". Self sufficiency is the name of the game. There are no repair people for this type of thing and the people that do not do it themselves, do without. First getting the parts, then the installation/ repair- it all takes so much time!
So as our 3 month window to be in the MArshall Islands was drawing to a close ( we arrived Dec.4), we decided to do some serious thinking about our plans and priorities. The very shortened version is that we applied for and received, much to the amazement of some cruisers a C-1 visa for a year that will take us to March 2019! This allows me to spend the extended period of time at home in Canada that I have been wanting since I left. As they say, the grass is always greener and I miss home and family and friends a lot out here. So I am heading home Friday the 23rd of Feb. for an undetermined amount of time but likely 3-4 months. I have it in my mind that Canada Day will be in Banff! Yeah and YAHOO! Chuck is relishing the thought of being on his own, to move at the pace of life he has been wishing was ours since we left and he retired. He has many projects that will now get a chance to get to the top of the list and that are not critical but will mean peace in many ways. He is also planning to spend some time with friends if they are able to join him out here for some R and R. We are both super excited about this next gift of life that we have chosen and with which we have been allowed to proceed. (Just redid that sentence to avoid the hanging participle- haha. So formal but looks so much nicer in print- would not even notice it in the spoken word. Well I would notice it but not feel I had to correct it). Rambling here but some things never change.
I am hoping to visit so many of you, surf your couches, drink your beer, wine and spirits, eat your food and hahaha, I am kidding. Well, not really. I am planning the visit and the rest will be up to you. I will bring food and water and a sleeping bag as we did when we were young. I can't wait and am so excited to tell my sea stories and hear all of yours, your adventures, your family stories, your hopes and dreams but most of all just to be, minute by minute, day by day living life and loving the many many gifts of life I am so blessed to receive.
Sending all of you big huge hugs and wishing you all the very best of whatever direction your dreams are heading in,
10 December 2017 | Majuro , MArshall Islands
Hi Friends and Family,
This 10th of December finds us in Majuro, Marshall Islands at Latitude 7 *06.175'N and 171*22.385 E - a long way from home. Yes indeed, we crossed the International Date Line and so for once in my life I am ahead of myself in position as I am physically here but chasing myself as I remain solidly, as usual a day late in most everything I try to accomplish. Thank God I am retired and have no one to report to- except my Captain. Okay, humor aside, let's see ....
"Foist" of all, I want to wish each and everyone of you the very Merriest Christmas this Holiday Season. That extends to everyone who is also non-Christian but celebrate at this time, or close to it, their particular spiritual belief.
I always wonder just why some think what they believe to be the original and only path, when really the books written, are written by various people with points of view, scarred and influenced by their surroundings. Whether or not they were visited by the Higher Power when they wrote it, the books are a historical review with guidance written by people with biases and trying to be " influencers". So, in this month especially, all religions aside, please know that I wish each and everyone of you Peace and happiness within yourselves, good health and sufficient to meet your needs. Whatever your sufficient is, that individual concrete that we base our day to day existence on can only be decided by you and ultimately arrived at by you. Ahhh, stop. This is where one can start to sound like a podium is needed and that is not what I am trying to go for here. I think we are all the same, truly wishing our fellows the many blessings of a wonderful and fulfilling life. Service above Self. I am so sadly lacking in this department at the moment. This adventure, voyage of a lifetime, has been all about self fulfillment and gratification. My thoughts are so often drawn back to my family who have been so supportive , each in their own way and to my community in the Bow Valley ( Banff and Canmore). I think of all the special people who lead by example and I am looking forward to going home and to follow the lead and be involved.
The chronology of the last update escapes me. It is now Dec.16th, six days since I last wrote. As many of you know from Facebook , we had an eventful passage from American Samoa to the Tuvalu Islands and then from Funafuti, the capital, of Tuvalu we had an adventure that will last in the memory bank. At this point, it is a bit of a blur as time dims the details. This time, I will be able to add some pictures which many of you will already have seen on FB - so much quicker and easier!
I guess the reality of our sailing continues to open my eyes. Glass half empty or half full? I know my personal paradise is at home and my glass brimming. My heart goes out to the majority of the people living in these paradises we are so fortunate to visit. They live simple lives, many working very hard to eek out a living for their families. The ravages of inadequate nutrition or poor nutrition and poor education are evident. In certain cultures like American Samoa, the average person is overweight by the time they hit puberty. Out in the remote islands, dental hygiene is non existent in certain places and the evidence of that, toothless grins or mouths of brown and yellow teeth are prevalent. As we are told, the health of the mouth reflects the health of the body. The children naturally crave the sugar and are often seen with treats in hand. Fruit and vegetables are the most expensive items in the grocery stores. No, the fruit does not grow in abundance. In most of the islands there is very little arable soil and water is caught in the rainy season to last all year. Many in all the islands are not attending school. The education systems we take for granted are so superior to what these children have. I know I have a very quick impression of what goes on but I have seen so many children who seem to be "out" of school. When we "vacation" we are not in the paradise that so many think we are visiting on this trip.On a sailboat, it is different. In a limited fashion, one sees what the normal people live like and, what they eat each and every day. It has not a thing to do with what one sees on a 2-3 week vacation in the X Star resort.
So, as usual, my best time is when we are sailing, away from the realities of the paradises of landfall. The sport of sailing, riding the wave in big swells. The last passage was a particularly trying one with the mainsail giving up under the load of a gale. The genoa in the water in a moment when the halyard shackle broke (!). Each of these events led to more sailing experience than I wanted to have. However, we fared well enough and always took the time to be safe first and foremost.
Now the aftermath of losing the main is ordering a new one. This is itself a huge job. One removes the sail, loads it, takes it ashore with the help of a local cruiser who found us the place we could lay it out and measure. Our main had been altered as it was always catching in the topping lift. So, classic KP design would not work. Then Chuck has been drafting all the measurements into a scaled drawing with many notes and it is being sent out to a few suppliers for quotes. We can only pray that they can read and listen - a rarity we find in the world. Too often, with emails regarding very important issues, people do not really read and understand what you are asking. The result is another email re-asking the same question. Often more than one email is needed. Wasted time and in a situation where internet is often so very poor, this is more than frustrating. In any case, I have my fingers crossed and am hoping that when the sail arrives, it fits. There are no sail makers here in Majuro. They are a rare breed and most often, the huge sail lofts are the benefactors of most sailors needs. Fact - Lee Sails buys half the Dacron used in the world!
Well, people, I know this email is not my usual. I guess the end of the year always brings a reflection of what has happened over that year and this epistle is typical of that. I end it by wishing each of you the blessing of hope with possibility of fruition and good health in the coming year, 2018. Until then, stay happy and be safe.
Love to all,
12 October 2017
Sent October 12th
Greetings from 14 degrees, 01' S and 167 degrees 37 W - well that is where we are at this moment in time - now it is gone, changed forever more.
We are about 22 hours (give or take a few, depending on the wind) out of Pago Pago, American Samoa. This will be a utility stop, pick up parts and necessities shipped in from the USA for the boat, re-provision our very depleted stores (food etc) and do the repairs we can, before making a bee line to get out of the hurricane zone by Nov.15, the cut off date for insurance purposes.
We listen to the nets, and cruisers are all busy making their changes for the upcoming season. Some wrap up their boats on the hard, in a place designated as a hurricane hole, head somewhere else and then come back. Others find an "in the water" hurricane hole to start from, and then spend the season dodging the weather.
In our world, this little speck at approximately the above point, we are reevaluating our options. So, to make a long story short, we are not exactly sure what lies ahead for various and sundry reasons. More on that at a later date once, we have analyzed options when we get to Pago Pago.
Since Raiatea, we hit Bora Bora, spent a lot of time getting various things sorted on the boat, finding and ordering parts for delivery into American Samoa. Bora was just as beautiful as all the other Pacific Islands. They are all different and to say which one I like most so far would be impossible. I must say that after months of mediocre restaurant food, Bloody Mary's in Bora Bora was a highlight, right up there in quality with my favourites I have had the pleasure of experiencing.
Oh, by the way, Amelie Patterson did win Alternative Album of the Year at the Calgary Music Awards. Remember how I was saying go buy her album? Well, this proves I am not totally biased. ROLL HONEY ROLL will soon be followed by another, apparently. YEAH!
The sun is coming up and the blast into my half open eyes is now a bit of a shock. I am counting the minutes until I can cook some breakfast, eggs, sausage, cheese, onion omelet is the plan. What a difference a day makes, or two days. Maybe I will pull out the frozen pancakes I made for this passage. Break, while I go do that! A real breakfast is on my horizon and some of you know how much I love my breakfasts.
The last 2 days did not qualify. Mother Nature put us on a diet of snacks. Did mange last night to heat up lazy cabbage rolls so that was yummy.
Have you heard of Suwarrow? It is a tiny Atoll in the northern Cook Islands. The Cooks have a relationship with New Zealand. Suwarrow is a protected park. No one lives there except for two rangers that manage the park and protect it from June to November 1st. The main island in the atoll is Anchorage Island. It is thick mahogany trees, and lush palm trees inhabited with an abundance of hermit crabs that at times are so thick you have to pick your way through them. These little pink creatures wear shells on their backs and are wonderfully athletic. They walk in all directions, climb rocks and even climb into the huge mahogany trees. I am not sure why they do that, they would not say. They have duels with each other with their antennae and claws. It is quite amusing to watch them. The loser then often goes to pick a fight with a much smaller, less protected individual.
Sound familiar? There are also HUGE coconut crabs. Some of their claws were bigger than my forearm. I have to admit that I really wish I could have seen one in a pot of boiling water with a large dish of melted butter waiting on the side. The colours of these crab were amazing. I saw everything from vibrant yellow, to purple, red, blues and greens and mostly a combination of the above with a pair of beady eyes. The highlight of this time was playing with two young boys on the beach! Fantasy island could be another name for my experience . We tromped through the jungle, had a beach bbq, played soccer and "shark in the water". I learned my running speed is pretty much down to that of a 7-year-old and the 3-year-old's change of direction kept me on my toes.! Missing those two little cruisers and their parents.
It is now 0211 on Oct.12,2017. We have less than 50 miles to go to Pago Pago and the last day has been a dream sailing day. Wind on the stern quarter, heading about 150 degrees off the wind with the wind vane steering and barely a readjustment needed. The swells were up to 3 metres and what a ride the Katie G is giving us. As the wave comes up from the rear it lifts her 20 tons, carries her forward, she dances a bit as the next swell comes through before dropping her bow down for the ride and the next one comes again to lift her back up. She loves it. She is a Cadillac, a sailor's boat. No being tossed around, she rides the waves like she was born into them. This is the best part of sailing. She does this effortlessly it seems, proudly, heading towards her chosen destination. She is like us, a bit worn on the outside, the cosmetics have altered with the sun and wind. She could use a month or two in the spa to freshen up.
The moon has risen, and has an orangey glow. She lights the wispy clouds around her and sends a shimmering path of silver down onto the water. Around us, the water appears like an undulating cauldron, black as oil. The 42% of exposure to the sun gives enough light that the dreaded blackness of night is lifted. She shares the heavens with the blanket of stars, no longer overpowering them. I sit in the cockpit, a rectangle of blue cushions gives me four vantage points. The seat of preference for most nights is beside the chart plotter and radar. Every 15 minutes, I lift the covers from their faces, looking for the information that will confirm our safety, direction and distance to go.
No AIS targets in sight, PHEW! It seems the big ships usually need a wake-up call. Once hailed, they check and confirm the speck they see on their radar matches our Lat and Long.
The fishing boats most often respond but if they are fishing illegally, they do not call back. I hate that! Then, it is turn on your spreader lights, put on the anchor light with the tri-light - it strobes (apparently illegal but who cares at this point). Keep calling and watch them change course. Splendid! You have the desired effect.
One thing you may be wondering is whether or not we are the only boat plagued with issues. Cruising brings new meaning to the old saying that " misery often has company". Our problems seem minor compared with the few that were shared this past week. One boat outside Tahiti harbour was lost to fire. We helped a boat that had lost steering bleed their system (hydraulic) and when that did not work, sought help with various sources through email contact to find the problem (THANKS Deny!). The same boat broke their furling line and had to jury rig a system to get the jib back in. Another boat also broke a furling line. We also had furling issues on our Tahiti and Bora passages. Different issues but we installed a new furling line that we had onboard when in port. It makes for intense and physically demanding work when these issues happen. Another boat had a fire, this one was a solar controller that caused the ignition(electrical). This morning, a single-hander was on the net; his furling line had broken and he could not get the jib in. His engine had also been giving him issues and he was not sure it would start. He was turning around and heading beck to Papeete. He also had vertigo. Can't imagine dealing with all that and being on your own out here! He called back on the evening net and had gotten everything under control. One of the cruisers in Tahiti was going to meet him in their Dinghy and help him into the anchorage.
For the most part, people do not talk about all the things that break while underway. Make no mistake. You can be as prepared as you can be and something will break. It is always a surprise, well, usually a surprise. For us, when we get to Pago Pago, we have a list of things to fix and a list of things to change that we are preventative. "Boat maintenance in exotic places" is a phrase that is shared, laughed about and known as fact. I am looking forward to handling the new jib lines we have been carrying for the past two years. It is time to change them. We have logged 7878 (just looked) nautical miles since Oct 1st of 2016. Time to change them. We had to chop about a foot off the spare jib halyard as it was almost chafed through (new splice and she is good as new). As our friend Pam said, you will get chafe where you never thought possible.
A daily inspection of the boat usually adds a point or two to the Wunderlist (Chuck's friend and my curse). He is trying to train me to make lists and I have finally succumbed. List making is a skill. Like anything, to be useful there's are tricks. First off, you have to make them. Second, you have to use them. Those are fundamental. The rest is , as they say, "beyond the scope of this paper". Love that line!
Those who always ask about Katie can celebrate with her ( and us) on her successful application of a 3 year performance artist visa for the USA. She is over the moon happy and excited. She is going to be very busy fulfilling commitments to those who supported her in her application for this work visa. In the time waiting she applied and was accepted to the advanced study of UCB ( stand-up comedy). She also is enrolled in a course at Stella Adler and started another at UCB. That's our girl!
Well, it is now very close to my turn to head off watch for the welcome two-hour rest. It is different steering with the vane in changeable winds, more intense. With the autopilot, we usually go 3-5 hours but with the wind vane, 2 hours is a max. It feels like heaven compared to the 1 hour watches of hand steering! We did that the first night out, maybe I am repeating myself.
Well, time to shut this down and wish you all a most pleasant day and life. As always, you are in our thoughts. I have had some very cheery moments remembering some of the times I have spent with each of you on this email list. Of course we each have a few friends the other has not met but most of our paths have crossed.
Once again, many thanks to my brother Gregory, a Saint, as Riyad called him, for sending this out to all of you. You know we love the replies and you can email us directly. You all have the address but I am no longer putting it in the update as these all will eventually go on our blog and that is too public to put the cherished advert-free email onto that site. So till the next time, "keep your stick on the ice."
Much love, Karen
PS: We arrived safely in Pago Pago, hook down and so happy to be here. Exhausted and ready for the next episode.
19 September 2017
Hello dear and old friends,
It seems that if you are putting up with these "escapades on paper" that I send out, you have to be in the category of dear; and "old" always pertains to quality in people as far as I am concerned so if you are kind enough to read them and then to even respond, well you are both old and dear to me.
Of course, these updates are me so Chuck may not feel the same way. How do I know? I have not asked him.
That is one thing we are finally learning; that we are not responsible for the other person's behaviour and so shouldn't take it personally, although the flip side is,
"well, that embarrasses me so yeah - I'm pissed."
How is it, we can still be working on basic stuff like that? Shouldn't it all be easy as pie by now. We are both wondering if we are slow learners. You have to give us a thumbs up for the effort. I mean 30 years married and 37 living together - well, seriously though, it was likely more like 10 years out of the 30 that we were actually under a roof together. Funny life but many do it - not that unusual these days. So maybe that is why we are still learning so much about the other person. Acceptance of someone who has changed, grown, morphed into a better version than what you thought you had. As the song says, "he drives me crazy but I love him anyway". Don't know it? Maybe it is a new song in the making. Life is a wonderful educator. Just when you thought that perhaps you had it nailed, it jumped up and bit you in the ass.
So, what has been going on? Well, let's see. I had to erase all my history so I sort of don't remember exactly where I left off but as it is impossible to tell everything, I will try to think of something you might be interested in.
For the sailors.... the watermaker works, has great pressure, good flow, making what it is supposed to, clear and does not taste like salt. (However, the TDS is still high sometimes over a 1000 but comes down to 890 ish- latest). Never mind, we can use it for everything except drinking so that is working well. Furler - working. Autopilot - working. Mainsail repaired beautifully, stack pack repaired by us, as well as all the worn-out stitching on the sun cover redone.
Now we are on a batten search - human error. BOOM!! Done that report! For the travellers, likely the most historical in terms of Fr. Poly would be the visit yesterday to the Marae of Taputapuatea. Large religious area made by the islanders by making fires below the coral at low tide and as the coral broke into pieces they would haul it up to land. This place is right beside the ocean. There are some big pieces standing up and a large field of big rocks flat enough to walk on. There are several of these in a large grassy flat area . Raiatea is quite mountainous so flat land is not abundant. Ceremonies included human sacrifice and immolation of children (no dictionary or internet so all I can say is - does not sound good to me). There were several wars and then the Europeans arrived. I enjoyed the place, interesting and a cool vibe. Alright, enough said.
Day to day life: So, day to day life is not a whole lot different except you are on a boat and floating. The place you float changes. That is one of the benefits - scene changes - water, foliage, sand, colour, amount. Raiatea has no beaches. We saw one that was obviously man made. They do beautiful stone work on this island and the breakwater is a work of art. It is so different than any other island we have been to. Not that we have been to that many. Enough to get a sampling of how very different each island and its culture is from the next. Just like at home where sections of the country have different habits, ways of talking, community happenings.
Raiatea is also one of the cleaner islands. the marinas are crystal clear and you can see to the bottom of these marinas. At least the one that our sailmaker worked in fit that description. I was over at the carenage ( the boat yard and dry storage) on my batten search and that was a bit of a different story. Could have been the grey day and rain but the water was definitely more the Mexican quality of marina water.
Listening to lots of music but all old stuff that we have had for years. We were serenaded till 3:00 am on Friday night by some techno stuff, French and English, loud beat, loved it. Not exactly like the staying power of the Mexican nationals who go till 6:00 am without fail. and for those of you non Canadians try Tragically Hip. Long live Gord Downie- hope he is still with us - what an icon!
The newest album we have which we love is Amelie Patterson's Roll Honey Roll and if you have not heard it, I highly recommend it: great lyrics, sultry, folksy westerns/ bluesy. Yes, her own style. Just a little plug for Amelie as she is a young and budding talent and good work deserves a helpin hand. Advert over - hahaha. Tricked ya, now you will all want to go out and buy her album on iTunes or Amazon. She is also Banff's first official poet laureate!
The quiet that I thought would be abundant is not. The water is always making sound, as is the air. So tuning into the sound gives a lot of information about the weather. Weather becomes focal in one's life at sea. I think I said that previously though. But you see how very important it is to us when it comes up again. It looks like the next weather window to American Samoa may be next Sat. In the meantime, we head (hope hope) to Bora Bora after our batten search tomorrow. Wish us luck on the batten which jumped out of its pocket yesterday.
It is lightly raining or raining lightly and after an almost entire day off, being Sunday. And nothing happens on Sunday - I have made another one-pot wonder- don't under-estimate the magic of one pot - first, boil the cabbage, second, add the onion, third add the already cooked potatoes and then add the chicken franks, diced, cayenne pepper (my go to - as you know Julie and Tim) and garlic. And it's all ready to consume. I need to bake a chocolate cake or Margaret's Disappearing Oatmeal Cookies (yeah Cahoots) or perhaps both - or none if I run out of energy.
Hugs to all,
The ever hopeful, Karen