Little Green Boat

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

30 August 2021 | Balboa YC - Panama
30 August 2021
30 August 2021
30 August 2021
28 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Arrived!)
27 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
26 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
25 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
24 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
23 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
22 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
21 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
20 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
19 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
18 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
17 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
16 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
15 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
14 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
13 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)

Passage to Panama – Reflections & Looking Ahead

30 August 2021 | Balboa YC - Panama
Sue & Andy Warman
It has been a couple days since we arrived in Balboa. A little time has been given to reflection. However, our minds have been in rather a whirl. Switching from an ocean based passage mindset to a "close to land" and more shore driven set of considerations is quite a contrast. Suddenly other pulls on ones thoughts come into play and in many ways life becomes more complex.
The passage went rather well to plan. Although, it did not always feel like that while under-way. The picture above shows a Blue Route Line which was the original plan tweaked for current: this was based upon our knowledge of the boat characteristics and the weather and current information contained in the Pilot Charts. The series of small black circles are our positions approximately every 12-hours. (Individual Blogs were posted for each day of progress). Initially we made good a little west of the plan (mainly because the wind was more from NE and current was going west). As we approached the latitude where we wanted to travel east the wind came more from the SE, so we could point higher. Most of the east going course was conducted with a neutral or fair current. The dotted lines at the top of the picture (dark Green and Red) are plots of where the Monsoon Trough and the ITCZ were approximately located. North of there lies a zone of cyclone genesis and the North Pacific summer Hurricane Season was going strong.

30 August 2021
Sue & Andy Warman
The immediate considerations upon arrival are: getting cleared in and officially entered into the new country, more complex with Covid restrictions; hooking into a modern communications system by obtaining a local SIM card for a smartphone, or access to reliable wifi (Joshua Slocombe never worried about that one); Banking, do one's plastic cards work in this nation's ATMs (this has become more reliable over the past decade); shopping for fresh produce, typically after a few weeks at sea supplies have been consumed. In our case we also need to arrange a transit of the Panama Canal. First night in we celebrated our arrival with a glass of wine from our last bottle of French Poly Plonk.
Events have left us little time to relax. Due to the unknown factors in the Covid Era, we chose to employ an agent to facilitate the process(es). Upon arrival at 8am we anchored where told by the Marine Traffic Control people. Our agent had requested we go to a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club. At 10am we moved to BYC and at noon our statutory Covid tests were administered. Results came a couple hours later, then the Director of Health needed to approve our entry. That was achieved close to 4pm, a helpful immigration officer worked late to stamp our passports and check us into Panama. Meanwhile, elsewhere the Port Captain was simultaneously completing his part of the process to finish our entry formalities.

30 August 2021
Sue & Andy Warman
Sunday dawned bright, and after undertaking a few jobs aboard: cleaning, the boat had been closed up for 4-weeks and doing oil changes, we headed off to the big supermarket and a nearby shop where we could obtain a local SIM card. Gosh! Don't the taxis drive fast, gulp! So many people out and about, so many cars, so busy. It was all quite mind-warping.
Supermercado. Note that we did not go to Tahiti this time in French Polynesia, our contact with shopping had been only local convenience store sizes since we departed Mexico 18-months ago. Covid measures: of course masks obligatory, also hand gel upon entry, but also a temperature scanner. Presumably too hot and alarms would sound and one might be escorted away. Where we know not? The cool air-conditioning was a relief after the typical Central American humidity outdoors. We thought French Polynesia got warm during the summer months, this has been a shock, something extra.

30 August 2021
Sue & Andy Warman
Sue was rapidly in Tea Heaven. No supplies of leaf tea, still tea-bagged, but what a choice. Similarly with wine. Due to high taxation the wine in French Polynesia was typically very expensive and not the best quality. Here was a wonderful selection at a fraction of the cost. Amazing! A whole trolley of provisions bought for a mere $200. It took resolve to restrain oneself from dipping into those treats not seen for so long.
Monday morning. We slipped our mooring and a short motor back to the La Playita anchorage where a Canal Inspector boarded us from a huge workboat. Our original measurement done in 2012 was still within validity, so we merely underwent some questions and form filling. Within an hour we were approved for our canal transit. Conversations with our agent yesterday, anticipated this to be scheduled for Thursday or Friday: rapid when compared with our December 2012 transit. However, upon arriving back at the mooring we received a phone message from the agent suggesting he provisionally has our transit time starting at 6am on Wednesday. Eek, that is only 2 days away. If that is achieved we will be entering the canal within 4-days of first arriving in Balboa. That probably explains why we are not relaxing and life feels rather rushed at the moment, and we thought it was passage “jet-lag”.
Https:// shows the view at the second lock we will enter. The canal has two locks where we will first enter the canal, then there is one lock at Miraflores, and finally after 28 miles through the infamous Culebra Cutting and across Gatun Lake, we will descend to the Caribbean at Gatun Locks. There are three locks in this final stage. On this Pacific side the tidal range is 5m between low and high water levels, on the Caribbean side the rise and fall is less than a half metre.
We shall next post a blog on Spruce's second Panama Canal Transit, this the originally unplanned one.

Under Way - Day 30

28 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Arrived!)
Sue & Andy
Day 30 �- 28/8/21 at 13:10utc �- Position Anchored at 08 54.197'N:079 31.348'W Distance Logged via GPS Trip: 4,225M Distance Logged via Ship's Log: 4,167M Total Net Benefit from Current58 Miles Distance To Go:000M Av Spd Overall=5.9kn.

Hurrah, we have completed our passage from The Marquises to Balboa. Our anchorage at the moment is at Flamenco Island as instructed by the Signal Station. Our agent has arranged for covid tests tomorrow morning aat Balboa YC... we await communication from our agent on this discrepancy. Time for a well earned "Passage Completed" cup of tea in large pottery mugs. The stats are above. Additionally we used the engine for a total of 61 hours: that was mainly during the last two days but did include a few hours on the first day of departure and a couple of short spells on passage when winds did a light weight twirl.

That is our longest passage ever both in distance and duration. The nearest lesser distances were Galapagos to Marquises in 2013 at 3000M and 21 days; Mexico to Gambiers in 2020 at 3,200M and 25 days. This one at 4,225M and an hour under 30-days will certainly be memorable.

Wildlife: Yesterday and this morning leaping Blue Marlins, approx 3m length and a beautiful colour.

Photo shows a relieved skipper ready for a rest.

Under Way - Day 29

27 August 2021 | Hiva Oa to Panama (Passage)
Sue & Andy
Day 29 �- 27/8/21 at 11:21utc �- Position 06 52.5'N:079 57.3'W Distance Logged: 4,086M �- To Go:150M Av Spd Overall=5.9kn. latest course of 066T...but we shall be turning north in 43 miles.

Yesterday was very wet with some strange winds. Almost every direction of the compass was a source of wind (not as forecast, possibly due to rain and thunder clouds. After a few attempts as messing about with poles and preventers in breezes of between 6-12 knots strength, we gave up sailing and pressed our "Iron Topsail" into service. Perhaps, in total, we lost 4-5 hours of fitful sailing, but also avoided tiring ourselves out with sail setting changes galore in the pouring rain.

We carried a slightly fair current until 4am at 0.2-0.5kn That has reveersed to 0.4kn adverse. We have our fingers crossed we are far enough off Punta Mala to avoid strong currents. Our wide curve into the gulf will hopefully minimise the effect, although iit has added 20 miles to the route.

Unless we suffer negative current effects or serious convection squalls we are thinking a Saturday afternoon arrival at Balboa looks promising. After 30-days on passage we will be ready for a break.

Wildlife: Yesterday two whales cruised alongside for a short period. Possibly a Minke and a calf. Sue's exclamation " I can see right into its blowhole" brought Andy onto deck rapidly. These beasties look rather large from a 5-metre range.
Vessel Name: Spruce
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg Rassy 42 - Enderlein Design
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, UK
Crew: Sue & Andy
About: Sue is an artist, plays the flute and guitar. Andy enjoys technical challenges. Both are working hard, harder than last time, at learning French while in French Polynesia again.
During 2013 and 2014 we sailed across the Pacific to New Zealand and then Australia. 2015-18 brought us from Asia to Washington State via the North Pacific Rim. In 2019 we cruised BC and then south to Mexico. In 2020 we headed back out into the Pacific with a 3,200M passage to Les Gambiers in [...]
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Spruce's Photos - Bermuda - The Passage
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St Georges Town - Bermuda from Spruce at anchor
Andy catches a line floated astern from Rapau to supply some extra diesel in containers across the watery chasm.
Bermuda from 7-miles to seaward
Sunset backdrop to Rapau under sail.
Another great sunset - you get thjose  with lots of weather and clouds in the air:-)
Andy reefing as a squall approaches us on the frontal boundary
Andy reefing as a squall hits us on the frontal boundary
Looking aft with lotsa wind and rain
The afternoon following a night hove-to. Making fast progress towards Bermuda in big seas.
The Hydrovane self-steering wind vane broke off and was lost overboard. Here is a photo of the adapted wind-generator directional vane pressed into service to take over. Amazing what a hack-saw, drill and patience can achieve when we don
Sue desperate not to retire her sarong, but notice she is staying below in the warm with the stove running:-)
Portuiguese Man-Of-War jellyfish blowing past.
Rapau sailing close by
Downloading a weather-fax showing the synoptic forecast for our troublesome low pressure come Tropical Depression forming
Island Drifter comes sailing by. Heading away from the strong winds northwards
Sue found ways to ward off the still tropical sun south of the Tropic of Cancer.
Sue preparing a meal on the high seas
One of those amazing sunsets found out at sea when weather systems collide.
Spruce sporting an asymmetric cruising chute. Also known as "The Pretty Sail"
A weather fax odf the synoptic chart showing the intense winds on the Northp-East side of the depression forming. It deepened after this. We stayed down in the more widely spaced isobars for 2-days while waiting to see how intense it would grow and which direction it would track.
A waterspout near afternoon convection activity building over warm seas.
A swallow that visited. After an aborrtive attempt to depart it spent the night roosting in the forecabin (hatch open) and left at dawn.
Sue reefing the mainsail
Another terrific sunset.
A merchant ship early in the passage. After calling him on the radio he altered course to pass astern of Spruce.
The hydrovane ("Wallace") before the red covered vande became broken and detacted in a gale. To the left the water-towed generator providing  a few amps of current.
Spruce sailing well on a reach.
Looking forward at sea. Anchor lashed on, roller fureling drum for the foresail visible. That piece of equipment is under a lot of stress in a gale and needs to be heavily built to withstand the forces.
Keith and Welly aboard Rapau celebrating crossing the Tropic of Cancer for the first time.
One of the large patches of Sargasso weed floating around in the seas near Bermuda.