13 November 2019 | At sea
It is Nov.13, 2019 and I am one month away from turning 69 and beginning my 70th trip around the sun. I am excited because on the decade, I celebrate for a whole year - so how fitting to begin the next decade having completed one of my life’s dreams - to sail to far away places. Yes, I will be “swallowing the anchor,” as they say after we land in New Zealand, and off to new land based adventures. You are probably wondering, ”well that’s all good, but what is Chuck going to do?” And we have a partial answer because, as usual, Chuck is beginning another learning adventure. Never one to gather any moss, my intrepid husband has decided to get more knowledgeable about the sport he is impassioned by and he begins a Divemaster course in Honduras on March 1st. So, enough of the bit about the next dreams and onto a brief synopsis of the last 6 months (almost). We were over the moon when we got to Fiji on the 2nd of June. Landing in the port of Savusavu was heaven after the time we spent in the RMI, Tuvalu and the Kiribas. Fiji is all one could want in a destination for cruising. Unlimited anchorages abound and the people are forever issuing their “welcome” and “welcome back(s).” After the paucity of food available in many of the destinations we sailed to, Fiji with its overflowing abundance of fresh produce and unparalleled variety of fruits and vegetables at reasonable prices will certainly be remembered as the favourite for me so far in this adventure. Availability of meat is also a welcome treat and they have the best bacon I have ever had. Brings back the memory of what bacon should taste like from my farm girl days. Although we have an amazing selection of food in Canada, I am reminded that homegrown is always better. - Now I must take a wee break to make the 0600 entry in the log book. Every 3 hours when sailing we do an entry. Always good to know where you are if your electronics go down. Of course that should never happen, but it does and we did have a situation where we lost all our electronics. OMG!! That story is for later. Right now, I must go. See you soon. - The diving in Fiji is to die for! The colour, abundance of and variety corals and species of fish are, I think, the best I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I think what makes it so spectacular is the way nature has presented its treasure. Little tunnels, alcoves, plates of cabbage (search Cabbage Patch , Rainbow Reef , Fiji on YouTube). The other must see is the Great White Wall, which is also a dive on the Rainbow Reef. We had the pleasure of diving it three times and each time it was different. It is one of those dives that changes with the current and because of the situation and access, it happens at its peak about 3-4 times a month. Think about diving through a tunnel, to about 90 feet and exiting onto a wall, that begins to turn from black to white as the coral responds to the changing current. As you swim back you see this massive white wall and you start to swim along till you come to the end and then you come into brilliant purple corals. After that there is another swim through and tunnel with an amazing variety of sea life. So very incomparable! I can’t begin to tell you about all the great dives we had. We were so lucky to have experienced the White Wall three times, but it was at the expense of not being able to go to the Lau group of islands. Our window closed on us for that trip because of a misadventure we had in the little port town of Somosomo on Taveuni Island. We had just come from Viani Bay to provision for the Lau trip . We got into the tricky bay (lots of shoals and reefs) on an outgoing tide and dropped the anchor. We dinghied ashore and found a place to safely tie the dinghy beside a local ferry. There were several people around who were friendly and helpful about what a good place would be to be - both out of the way and still be able to access it on our return. We had a great time provisioning, finding all the needed food for our voyage. We got back to pull up the anchor and head off. We realized we would need our sails up , so we put up the main, went to start the engine and it would’t start, and of course, one switches on the electronics first and their were no electronics! WTH! We just had them, the engine was working. What happened? Well, the tide was still outgoing and though we would have retraced our path in, via the chartplotter, now, that was not an option. So, we were sitting in a precarious position. Chuck sat a few moments and said, “well, I will switch off the starting battery and see if there is enough voltage to start the engine on the main bank (our batteries which are lifeline and not a good cruising battery we have found in our experience) and see if the engine will start.” It did by jumping the engine from the main bank.! Yeah, one problem solved, now we had to get the anchor up, and wind our way through the coral heads out to the open water. So , with the engine running, we started to pull up the anchor (main is hoisted and flapping as we try to keep her in the wind to get the anchor up) and in a matter of moments we feel the unfamiliar tug of being caught on a balmie (coral head). So we try the usual finagling around to try to get off, but she is well grabbed. There is no other choice but for Chuck to get all the dive gear out and dive the anchor to free her up. So the current is running strong and he throws a rope around himself and ties onto the Katie G before he goes over as he would not have been able to get back to the boat or swim against the current. He heads to the anchor and it is no time at all till he has us free and comes up. He says, “there was a sizeable shark down there."" We get underway, with me on the bow, directing through the balmies (coral heads) with a few about turns. We make our way safely out and both breathe a huge sigh of relief. However, we still have no instruments and an unreliable engine starting situation. So on a quick pow wow about our boat-issues and with our weather window for departure limited to the Lau, we abort the plan and head back towards Paradise Dive Resort where we get set on a mooring just at dusk. We head in to the bar for happy hour and are chatting about our day with Alan, one of the owners. Chuck was telling him about the shark, the kind you can’t put your arms around and Alan says, "ohh, that’s the resident Tiger that lives in that Bay. It is well- known that you never swim there after 4:00 in the afternoon (lunch time)". Well, luckily all our excitement happened about 2:00 pm! So we had a beautiful evening, a great sleep and the group was diving the White Wall in the morning (0530 departure so we joined in - our NO. 3 on the White Wall. We got back about 11:00 and started looking at the weather as the wind had changed. That Bay is a no go with a North wind so although we did not want to leave, we pretty much had to. We headed back to Savusavu. On the way, we still had no electronics but we had sailed that water twice before, so decided we could go into Jacques Cousteau resort anchorage as we had been there many times and were not worried about where to anchor. Of course, when you get there and some boats do not have anchor lights on, it makes for a bit more excitement but all was well. We had a day or two to regroup, get an alternate starting system figured out, hoping we would be able to buy a starting battery in Savusavu (can you believe there was not one available). Then on the way to Savusavu, the chart plotters started working again. We were baffled. Subsequently, we were informed that because of the International Date Line, the chart plotters get totally mixed up as they try to accommodate for the fact you are going back and forth over the IDL with boat manoeuvring etc. as it tries to go all the way around the world too many times. So, sailboats.anchoring etc. In that tricky area often run into that issue. Had we known, we would never have gone in there to provision. The good news is, that we survived and only a few more grey hairs were earned! When Katie came to visit in late July, we took her to Paradise Dive Resort as that had been our highlight and she wanted to get some diving in. It is a good day sail each way but we made a brief stop in Jacques Cousteau resort as well to break up the trip. The trip was short, but oh so sweet. After Kate’s departure our trip seemed to be somewhat in stall mode, biding time, so to speak, till the next anticipated highlight. We worked on a few boat projects and soon ...... We headed out for Port Denereau to meet Lance who was coming to dive with us. We stopped in a few places to dive along the way, one being Volivoli which is near the famous Bligh Waters. The diving was good but the memorable part was that we were able to get a starting battery from a local mechanic so after we got it charged up, there has been no need to jump the engine anymore. We had a great time with Lance diving out at a Resort called Toko Riki. It seemed that short time flew by as well and then it was off to a few more dive sites in the Mamanucas before starting to prepare for the passage through to NZ. That brings us up to the current time and I sit writing this by the light of the full moon. Two days of 100% full moon in cloudless skies is a blessing we will remember forever. We will have the waning moon to complete this adventure. This passage, looked like it was to be short and The Sweet RIde. We had cancelled our checkout once because the weather window had disappeared, then a week later, we were able to rebook the checkout and we departed with beautiful winds the morning of November 2nd. It was a bit raucous but the weather was showing good sailing and 10-12 days before the next low. The winds built over the few days and though we started with 1 reef, we were soon putting in a 2nd reef and sailing with gusts to 30. We seemed to be right on schedule if not a bit ahead with an arrival date of November 10th. Then I got up for my watch about 9:00 pm on November 5th: Chuck looked at me and said that the forecast had changed dramatically: the low that was expected to hit New Zealand November 11th or 12th was now predicted to be full on by the 9th or 10th. It took us just a few minutes to make the decision to stop the boat and wait for a clearer picture. We both felt that we needed to think about what we needed to do to be safe. We have heard many stories from friends about how treacherous the seas can be during a low and that one just does not want to be arriving in a low. Unfortunately this season, a weather event such as this, combined with boat failure, resulted in loss of life and injury only 20 NM out of New Zealand. So, that night, we got the boat settled in the Hove To position, continued our watches and got the updated forecast in the morning. The seas were 3 metres at that time but nothing scary. The Katie G rides well and we needed the “one hand for the boat” during the three and a half days. We were glad we made the choice we did. We would not have made it in time and would have been dealing with ugly conditions. Had we not, we would have had to hove to later anyway and likely deploy the drogue. All in all, with the weather deteriorating - and on the advice of Bob McDavit - we actually headed back North from 28 S Lat to 27 North to avoid the aftermath of the low and the big swells. Bob is a professional weather router and has guided hundreds of boats in the area over the years and has put much of his knowledge into print. We ended up being hove to five and a half days! We were communicating with Gulf Harbour Radio (Patricia and David) by email re our position daily as well as sending Larissa and Gregory (our Emergency contacts) our GPS positions twice daily. We usually do this any time we are sailing. Thanks for all your help these last years, guys! My brother Gregory also sends out these epistles for which I a grateful. So after many hours of weather collecting, musing, reading, podcasts and card games, watches and eating, we were able to get underway yesterday about 0430 as I said before. We are now closing in on Opua with 271 NM to go so we will be having to slow down to make the daylight arrival the morning of November 16th. As with most sailors, we do not enter an unknown port at night. Having checked the weather this evening again, it looks like we are in for some squalls/rain as we pass through the northern portion of a trough that is dissipating. And so this wraps these wee journal moments. We would love to hear from you and will have our usual land based email when we get to New Zealand. We will have the following satellite email address for a bit: email@example.com So send a brand new email (simply hitting 'reply' will never make it through the satellite system) to firstname.lastname@example.org There is nothing like mail to make a beautiful day at sea perfect! Hopefully we will catch many of you at the golf course this summer, or on a visit from you or by one or both of us to you. Let’s keep in touch. Life is always too short, so let’s celebrate our relationships while we can! Sending all of you hugs and love. It’s been a SLICE! Karen and Chu
01 June 2019
A Strange Opportunity:
So here we are, on our way to Fiji. We left Funfuti, Tuvalu Wednesday, May29, 2019 at the crack of noon.
There was no rush as check-out with Customs and Immigration gave us 24 hours to leave and the wind was only expected later in the day. You see, it is all about finding the maximum number of days of wind in this sketchy period/area to motor as little as possible. The drone of the engine is not our favourite thing and of course one can only carry so much fuel on a sailboat. One is supposed to sail! That IS the objective. We had put the dinghy on the deck and took up the outboard the evening before, so there was little to do besides, tie things down, run the lines, and hoist the main. The jack lines are easily secured (what we attach to when we go outside the cockpit). We did some last minute interneting after a hearty breakfast. Well, a normal breakfast because its my favourite meal and it involves eggs 95% of the time. BTW, if you ever need powdered eggs, the EASY Eggs they sell on Amazon are fabulous for omelettes , scrambling and baking.
Well, to get to Fiji from Tuvalu we needed to head south and east. The wind varies of course, so we are always trying to keep our easting when sailing so that we don't have to motor east should the wind drop. Well, today about 3:00 the wind went light and started swirling. So, we hoisted the Japanese Jib (our Yanmar engine). We found ourselves exactly on the International Date Line - affectionately known as the IDL.
Those of you who are on FB and got BDAY greetings from the "other side of the IDL" know it is a favourite place of mine as when on this side, you celebrate twice - once for your " real birthday and once for being on the other side of the world, a day ahead. What JOY! That is, if you like birthdays. I do. Sometimes I celebrate for a whole year, like when I turned 60. I am planning another year long celebration for when I turn 70. Thankfully that is not too far away. I hope I make it. I'm quite sure I will, but, as we all know, it is somewhat unpredictable. So back to a more acceptable and fun topic. So, this afternoon, I was in yesterday and Chuck was in today. We divided the boat in half. I was in the galley (port side). We ran the boat right down the IDL. So I got to cook the meal I was planning to have yesterday and didn't but really got to make it on the same day. The best line came from Chuck, as usual when he said "and I get left-overs".
So how in the world, this wonderful but crazy world, are each and everyone of you? I do get the odd note from people which I so appreciate. Sometimes I wonder if I will still be sending these updates once we are onto the next segment. I guess we will see.
For the moment, I can tell you, the water is the most amazing deep blue, not quite the purple I wrote about when we were crossing to the Marquesas but absolutely stunning. The contrast with the turquoises one sees in the lagoons within the atolls is stark. So night has fallen. We are now familiar with the Southern Cross. The sky last night was black as Hades. Tonight the planets are visible and the moon is waxing. Off in the distance it seems a light is showing itself on the horizon and I am checking to see if it is a ship. No, it is a star appearing.
So what else can I share with you? Perhaps the biggest change we anticipate on our arrival in Fiji is the strict policy on food and alcohol. Usually, to this point at least, there has been little "to do" about ships stores- what you have on board to eat and drink. As long as you aren't transporting large quantities to sell, they pretty much leave you alone as it is one's home. However, we have heard they charge duty on all alcohol except for 2.5 litres per person of anything you choose. And we have heard they confiscate a lot of food.
Hmm. We will see how it rolls out. We have minimized purchasing but it is always good to have a lot of food onboard as when at sea there are no stores.......
I will close for now and wish you all a god night. Most of you will be soundly asleep at present. Sweet dreams to all.
31 March 2019
Hello All of You,
It has been a long time since I have done a Katie G update. So much and so little has happened. One of life’s many mysteries.
It is similar to how the years go by, so quickly. One blinks and all of a sudden you are in the final year of an adventure that has consumed your time and energy for more than 15 years. Dreams were cultivated, brought to fruition and celebrated. The work was more than I could ever have imagined. Being the lazy person I am, I know for a fact, that if I had bought into this dream with the knowledge I now possess, I never would have signed on.
It seems so obvious now, that most achievements in life are quite similar. As the difficulties arise, the challenges are coped with. I can say, that sailing as a cruising lifestyle has brought the concept of team work to a level unmatched in anything except parenting ( the ultimate challenge- to find common ground that supports a being for whom you have created and/or accepted the responsibility). The joys of parenting are unmatched.
The trials of sailing and the rewards we have reaped are many. I have been at times a reluctant participator.
My out has always been secured, supported and understood by my amazing partner, Chuck Gauthier. His acceptance of me and my rights to my individuality have been a challenge for him at times and vice versa. What can one say, except that love is so complicated. His common sense, logic, ability to learn and I mean really learn has taken us safely through so much. His ability to devise workable solutions in the face of what seem insurmountable circumstances, guide me to be able to help him (not always with the calm I would prefer, but hey, when the shit hits the fan, you communicate the way you know the job will get done).
He is the Captain of this boat, without a doubt. I may give input but we both know his knowledge is much greater. I trust him, not to be infallible but to make the best decision given the knowledge and circumstances. I have learned to save interjections if they are not based on fact and sound reasoning. Hard for me at times!
As we head off next week on the next leg of this continuing adventure, we will go slowly into the southern hemisphere, guided by insurance requirements and thoughtful exploration and analysis of weather patterns, ongoing communication with various weather sources and anticipation of another safe and fun passage.
The Katie G has been in the RMI for close to 16 months. Being a Canadian is not an advantage when cruising. People like you as a Canadian, but we are restricted in the amount of time we are allowed to stay in many places.
We bought visas to stay here an extended time. It has enabled us to explore a part of the world few have had the opportunity to visit. The history, the culture, the current problems and challenges of this tiny nation will stay in our minds and hearts long after we leave. The cruising community and the Yacht Club have been an integral part of our lives while here. We have made friends that will last the test of time. So many different ambitions - from solo non- stop circumnavigation to those who are out indefinitely, sailing on their “mobile homes” from one stop to another, governed by which countries do not have mandatory quarantines for their pets and many other diverse goals. It is a different mindset.
And so, as we prepare in the last few days of this pre-departure week, I will tell you our next stop will be Betio in Tarawa (the Kiribas for those not familiar with the new name).
Once checked in we hope to spend the rest of the allowed month in Abiang. After that, it all depends on how the weather (cyclone season) is settling.
We may have to prolong our trip by going to Tuvalu (Funafuti) before heading south to Fiji. In any case, I will, be sending another update before too long. More islands, more warm weather, more beautiful waters and more welcoming people await I am sure.
In these times of global unrest, this lifestyle is a world apart.
Sending all of you warm thoughts and big hugs,
Sv Katie G
31 March 2019 | Annemonet Island, Majuro Atoll, RMI
Karen Thomas | Humid, somewhat overcast, breaking lue in the afternoon. 10-15 knots NE water 83degrees.
Hello All of You,
It has been a long time since I have done a Katie G update. So much and so little has happened. One of life’s many mysteries. It is similar to how the years go by, so quickly. One blinks and all of a sudden you are in the final year of an adventure that has consumed your time and energy for more than 15 years. Dreams were cultivated, brought to fruition and celebrated. The work was more than I could ever have imagined. Being the lazy person I am, I know for a fact, that if I had bought into this dream with the knowledge I now possess, I never would have signed on. It seems so obvious now, that most achievements in life are quite similar. As the difficulties arise, the challenges are coped with. I can say, that sailing as a cruising lifestyle has brought the concept of team work to a level unmatched in anything except parenting ( the ultimate challenge- to find common ground that supports a being for whom you have created and/or accepted the responsibility). The joys of parenting are unmatched. The trials of sailing and the rewards we have reaped are many. I have been at times a reluctant participator. My out has always been secured, supported and understood by my amazing partner,Chuck Gauthier. His acceptance of me and my rights to my individuality have been a challenge for him at times and vice versa. What can one say, except that love is so complicated. His common sense, logic, ability to learn and I mean really learn has taken us safely through so much. His ability to devise workable solutions in the face of what seem insurmountable circumstances, guide me to be able to help him ( not always with the calm I would prefer, but hey, when the shit hits the fan, you communicate the way you know the job will get done). He is the Captain of this boat, without a doubt. I may give input but we both know his knowledge is much greater. I trust him, not to be infallible but to make the best decision given the knowledge and circumstances. I have learned to save interjections if they are not based on fact and sound reasoning. Hard for me at times!
As we head off next week on the next leg of this continuing adventure, we will go slowly into the southern hemisphere, guided by insurance requirements and thoughtful exploration and analysis of weather patterns, ongoing communication with various weather sources and anticipation of another safe and fun passage.
The Katie G has ben in the RMI for close to 16 months. Being a Canadian is not an advantage when cruising. People like you as a Canadian, but we are restricted in the amount of time we are allowed to stay in many places. We bought visas to stay here an extended time. It has enabled us to explore a part of the world few have had the opportunity to visit. The history, the culture, the current problems and challenges of this tiny nation will stay in our minds and hearts long after we leave. The cruising community and the Yacht Club have been an integral part of our lives while here. We have made friends that will last the test of time. So many different ambitions from solo non- stop circumnavigation to those who are out indefinitely, sailing on their “mobile homes” from one stop to another governed by which countries do not have mandatory quarantines for their pets and many other diverse goals. It is a different mindset.
And so, as we prepare in the last few days of this pre-departure week, I will tell you our next stop will be Betio inTarawa ( the Kiribas for those not familiar with the new name). Once checked in we hope to spend the rest of the allowed month in Abiang. After that, it all depends on how the weather ( cyclone season) is settling. We may have to prolong our trip by going to Tuvalu ( Funafuti) before heading south to Fiji. In any case, I will, be sending another update before too long. More islands, more warm weather, more beautiful waters and more welcoming people await I am sure. In these times of global unrest, this lifestyle is a world apart.
Sending all of you warm thoughts and big hugs,
Sv Katie G
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