Ness's Travels

15 August 2008
07 August 2008 | 27 41'N:114 54'W,
30 July 2008 | 19 20'N:105 14'W,
27 July 2008 | 11 49'N:100 50'W, 490 mi. west of Guatemala City.
24 July 2008 | 04 10'N:094 19'W,
22 July 2008 | Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
15 July 2008 | 3 35'S:88 16'W, SE Pacific...210 NM to go until Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
11 July 2008 | 13 17.0'S:082 26.0'W, The SE Pacific...883 mi SSW from the Galapagos Islands.
09 July 2008 | 19 06'S:079 29'W, Somewhere in the SE Pacific, 1,270 mi from the Galapagos Islands.
05 July 2008 | 28 23'S:073 08'W, Somewhere in the SE Pacific.
03 July 2008 | 30 47'S:71 49'W, Travelling N on the Pacific - S30o47' W71o49'
01 July 2008 | 36 46'S:75 21'W, Travelling NW on the Pacific - S36o46' W75o21'
27 June 2008 | Valdivia, Chile
10 June 2008 | Valdivia and surroundings.
03 June 2008 | 39 51.0'S:73 19.0'W, Valdivia, Chile last...

15 August 2008
How nice it was to be awaken from a sun slumber by the sound of Don's 2 engine Beechcraft buzzing us at arount 300 ft.

It was quite the culture shock having so many people on board - Don (a short visit), Santi, of course and a cloce college friend, Pete.

After an incredible lunch of homemade vegi tacos (thank you Dale), Don left and the 5 of us set sail on our final leg to San Diego.

Santi quickly got busy reading every manual he could find, as well as checking out his new toy.

2 days later it was homecoming for Santi and ES. The slip wasn't ready so we anchored in a nearby was beautiful.

Joanne and I spent the Sunday in our rented car doing th tourist thing, had our final goodby dinner with Dale and were off on a 7:00AM flight to Montreal.

Now...what's next ...... will it be shipping my moto to Columbia in Janruary, and riding down to Patagonia, or will it be some serious trekking in southern China along the Hymalayan border in March ?

Stay tune.......

Arrival at Turtle Bay, Mexico

07 August 2008 | 27 41'N:114 54'W,
We arrived at a perfect time Aug. 7/08 at 0700h in Turtle Bay to a beautiful sunrise. What a nice rest after four days of engine pounding against the wind and currents!

TB is a small tranquil local port around 350 miles south of San Diego. It's sole purpose in life is to provide a first fuel stop, not to mention a source of other equally important staples such as cerveza, rum, tequila. for all the sport fishermen heading down to Cabo San Lucas, a large sport fishing center at the very tip of Baja.

We are here to pick up Santi and his friend who are flying in on a private Beechcraft Baron owned by a friend of Dale's.....they should be here by noon. (We could all use friends like that!) Then it's a 2 day slog aginst the wind and current - as it was since leaving La Cruz - all the way to San Diego.

Joanne, who was a fabulous crew member, (and you can call her "sailor" now), AND established a personal record for the number of consecutive days at sea- 18 !!! and 2,300 miles !!!, will be arriving in Montreal on Monday.....I might hang out another few more days in San Diego.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Banderas Bay, Mexico.

02 August 2008
After arriving at Bahi Navidad to a fabulous hotel resort and marina, (Grand Bay Hotel, Isla Navidad Resort), we quickly realized that the cruising guide books were wrong and there were no services there. So early the next morning we powered our way to La Cruz.

Finally arrived in a spanking new marina, "Marina Riviera Nayarit" (". We arrived here late Thursday nite.

Fortunately Dale had good dear friends John and Robin Bousha, on Avocet who have been at this marina for 2 months now. They were kind enough to arrange for a rigger (Mike Danielson...fantastic guy, who attended to our rigging problems) and a mechanic (John, who "popped" in today, 3 hours late, and seems to be spending more time on his cell than in the engine room....but woe to him because Dale is now on his case). We just hope he's done so we can leave tomorrow, Sunday morning.

So the rigging is now all ship's just the engine....and John...

La Cruz is just starting to be the next big spot on Banderas Bay....Puerto Vallarta, is the only other.....for now.

So our plan is now to sail up to Turtle Bay, Baja, Mexico, (approx 3 to 4 days) where we will pick up Santi, the owner, who will sail the rest of the way up to San Diego with us (approx. 2 more days). Santi graciously offered Joanne and I a berth on ES for a few days after we arrive so we can do the tourist thing around SD.

Last night Santi treated us to a fantastic dinner at a fantastic resto in La Cruz, "Frascati's" where we had a great dinner.

The days here are typically hot 35 - 37oC, and very humid, with the nights dropping only to the high 20's to low 30's.

Besides cleaning ES, Joanne and I are in the process of packing up our stuff and relocating to the starboard hull where we will spend the rest of the delivery. This will give Santi his privacy in the port hull.

Hopefully the next 6 days will go smoothly and we will all arrive safely and happy in SD.

More challenges...

30 July 2008 | 19 20'N:105 14'W,
Well, we just lost our wind data for a second solution in sight yet.

While beating to Banderas Bay last night in 25 kt winds - gusts to 30...and under bare poles, we decided to unfurl the staysail when the wind subsided to 20. Half way through the process part of the sail track broke off the self tacking boom. (BAD)

At first light we noticed the horizontal rigging that passes over the yoke and joins each of the 2 bows providing structural stability to the forward part of the 2 hulls, parted due to the "turnbuckle" cotter pin in sight!!! (BAD, BAD). On seeing this we decided it would be prudent to stop our course to Banderas Bay (70 miles) and head downwind (much gentler ride) to Bahia Navidad (40 miles).

Oh, and did I mention yesterday that our starboard engine alarm went off indicating there was no charging from the alternator. Upon inspection, I noticed the alternator ground wire was no longer attached to the engine block because the bolt holding it there CRACKED off....this is one of 3 bolts that holds the alternator bracket to the engine. Upon further inspection, I found a second bolt that broke off, which which is one of 2 that holds a fuel system part to the engine block.

Also our second reefing line somehow lost it's sheath....we will determine the cause of that in B. Navidad.

Oh, well, just another day breaking in a new boat....

So here we are, now sailing down wind through countless squalls to a safe harbour in B. Navidad for some much needed repairs.

Things are "rotten in the State of Denmark"....

27 July 2008 | 11 49'N:100 50'W, 490 mi. west of Guatemala City.
Sunday July 27

The freezer has finally given up the ghost?.HOW DOES ONE HAVE HIS ?JOHNNY WALKER BLACK? ON THE ROCKS ?????

Trip so far 3824 miles. 643 nm to Banderas Bay (Puerta Vallarta) Mexico. 1050 nm to San Diego from there. We are Presently 490 NM off the coast of Guatemala

Everyone asks "what do you do all day out there on the boat?"

There is ?good? work, and ?bad? work when it comes to the mechanical side of our life at sea.

The ?GOOD? stuff consists of regularly scheduled and unscheduled maintenance due to normal wear and tear, such as engine oil and filter changes, watermaker filter changes, swapping out broken parts with new ones, inspecting lines and fittings on a daily basis, etc.

The ?BAD? stuff is the lots of extra work required, generally under poor conditions, because of poorly designed products and/or sloppy installation practices. Having to climb to the top of the 70 foot mast at sea 3 times ?twice to replace our wind instrument that just fell off ?BAD, and BAD?and once to re-route the spinnaker halyard to the exterior of the mast due to some mysterious chaffing inside the mast?BAD!

Replacing the defective ?Maxwell? hatch handles the other day, AFTER Maxwell assured us their handles were first class is an other example of ?BAD? work.

Well Friday, we inspected and adjusted the rigging(this would normally be a 20 min. job, but due to the cotter pins being inserted from the wrong direction as well as not being given the proper replacement pins, turned this into a 2 hour job?BAD), replaced the water pump ?GOOD?(will try to fix the old one tomorrow to have a spare available), daily cleaning inside and out, GOOD, watches, GOOD, and food prep, GOOD, emailing and blogging, GOOD, weather and route planning. GOOD

Dale made fresh banana bread, GOOD, towards the end of her watch so that Joanne and I woke up to the smell of it?.mmmmmmm. (It was make bread or turn the bananas into a science project in this heat). That was also the day we had vegetable and fresh ginger fired rice with toasted almonds and a fresh greens salad with Joanne's fabulous?vinaigrette, GOOD.

Sadly, Saturday was clean out the freezer and jettison approx. 15 kilo?s of beautiful Albacore and yellow fin tuna, as it is not operating at this time?..and the fridge is barely hanging in too. We figured that was a job done sooner rather than later as fish was definitely not a food that would improve with age.

Some lucky birds got lucky on that one!

Then there was the job of finding the problem with the fuel filler lines as the kitchen cabinets through which they ran were smelling suspiciously like a fuel dock. Turns out that I discovered that the overflow connection from the hose to the outside valve was not secure. Anyone who has ever owned a boat knows how hard it is to get THAT (diesel fuel) smell out. Most likely, the 4-5 scrubbings that have already been done will be succeeded by a few more. We will purchase some baking soda in Mexico which will help to complete that portion of the show. BAD, BAD, BAD !

Oh, and by the way, we had Ness's banana bread french toast with premium grade Canadian maple syrup(Extra Clair - the best!) for breakfast. (Joanne brought some goodies from home). Dinner was breaded eggplant with garlic pepper topped with fresh tomato and parsley sauce and grated reggiano?parmesana?(another addition to the provisioning courtesy of Joanne) accompanied by a repeat salad from yesterday-no complaints there.

As you can see from the menus, we are appreciating the remaining fresh ingredients that are surviving since Galapagos. The end of each leg of the trip presents its own challenges to remain creative and work with what you have. Fortunately Dale is an expert at this. During the 18 days from Valdivia to Galapagos, Alan came up with many fabulous crudites when the fresh greens were gone.?

Reading interspersed with quick rinses with the outside shower has topped the midday exercise routine as the temperature and humidity levels have reached an all-time high. .....low to mid 30's. Yesterday, Joanne's words of wisdom said it all " I am glad this is not someone else's book" as the sweat was running off her face while sitting and reading. It is a far cry from the winter weather in Valdivia and we are certainly not complaining. Poor time not to have ice, though.?Good time to make sun tea...another part of the daily routine. We have a spot on the deck between the pilot house and the secondary winches just inside of the spinlocks on deck that the container seems to ride nicely while brewing.?

Since leaving Galapagos, the wind gods have smiled upon us. We had favorable winds of sufficient velocity that we only ran the engines sporadically to charge the batteries. Friday and Saturday we headed more westerly than NNW to avoid some major thunderstorms that were lurking about. Commanders Weather service and Alex's daily buoy weather updates have kept us well informed and safe. Yesterday, we were back on the rhumbline and sailing we are motoring in what looks like "Lake Pacific."

Here is another example of a recent Commander?s Weather advisory;

?Dale and Ness, Thanks for your update. Was going to email to see how you were doing today.

Satellite shows strong thunderstorms in your region and wanted to give you a heads up.? Intense thunderstorms across the region bounded by 3-7N/87-96W with some smaller cells between 7-11N/96-100W.? All of these cells are generally sliding/expanding?to the SW.? Could see some sustained winds to 30kts and gusts to 40kts in some of these cells.

N of 10N and W of 100W there are no thunderstorms, currently.

Might be able to get away from most of the convection right now if you wanted to head W until about 98W then back on rhumbline.

These thunderstorms change constantly, however, and I can send you another short email like this in the afternoon with the latest positions and movements, if you can send me an updated position and conditions. ? Best regards Commander?s Weather?

No problem, plenty of fuel and good Volvo Penta 55 hp engines. We run one at a time and at cruising rpm we are able to maintain 8-9 knots with a gentle push from the sea.

It was a good time to shut off the engines and have a quick swim while checking the props and rudders. It was so hot, even I went in (but not before looking all around for the dreaded shark fins - did I mention that only my fear of sharks out ranks my fear of heights?). It was a very quick swim but one that felt good nonetheless. We drag a line behind the boat to hold on to when swimming as it there is always a deceivingly strong current even when the ocean looks so calm....good to stay attached to the boat at all times.

Since the night of five boobies(shitting all over our decks), we have been sailing with the only the tricolor navigation light way up at the top of the mast instead of the navigation lights that are mounted on either side of the pilot house. We suspected that it was these pilot house lights that were attracting the birds to our decks, and once extinguished, the bird visitor numbers have dropped off dramatically. Dale?s friend, Captain Michael DeLong confirmed this theory with an email:

The Red-footed Boobie, not to be confused with Booty, is of the?Gannet family and appears to suffer from the same 'moth/candle syndrome' as many birds do at night.? During heavy migrating periods in N.Y.C, many skyscrapers are?struck?by flocks of birds making their way along the Eastern Flyway of America after dark.?I believe it is the same concept?at work?there with?your boat.?

He also made references to me being a typical man who needs to grow female anatomical features and get a sense of nurturing (the Boobies(rather than tossing them into the sea)......just before he told Dale that he suggested that her sister grill the baby rabbits she is bottle feeding....oh well?.

The emails and humor are greatly appreciated. We can relate to the stories of people in the army who wait everyday for mail call.

We should be in Banderas Bay, Mexico Wednesday morning, where hopefully we can get our freezer and fridge (in that order) repaired for the last leg of our trip to San Diego.

OH, Happy Birthday to our good friend Hrair....61 years??, or is it 42?? , or perhaps 54 ??....oh, who cares...we love him just the same!

Love to all, Ness and Joanne

2 days out from the Galapagos

24 July 2008 | 04 10'N:094 19'W,
Leaving Galapagos was almost as spectacular as arriving there. We sailed around the southern tip of Santa Cruz Island, up the eastern shore past Isla Seymour (where we had gone to see the wildlife) and on up through the chain. We were treated to a pod of dolphins escorting us around the tip of the island.

Our first night was a starry one and lying on the trampoline looking at the show of shows was breathtaking. Waiting to cross the equator could not have been in a better place. Most of the day and night we had winds of 10 knots and were sailing 9-10 knots with lots of sun.

Well, Joanne has been sailing with us for 2 full days now (since we left the Galapagos), and has quickly settled into the routine on ES.

Last night was quite strange in that we had 5 red footed Boobies either crash into or land on ES over the night. The first time it was sort of cute and Dale quickly became the "mother Boobie", but after seeing the mess these guys left on ES, we quickly ejected the rest of the freeloaders.

As I see it, based on our average speed of 9 kts, and 1,181 miles left to go to Banderas Bay (a few miles north of Puerto Vallarta), we should be there in slightly over 5 days.

Today is overcast, humid, and's really shaping up to be a lazy day....the only chores are to tighten up the standing rigging(the wires that hold up the mast), and change the secondary water filter for the water maker (an amazing machine that pumps the sea water at very high pressure through an extremely fine filter that removes all the salt and leaves behind only fresh water for our water tanks.

This is a lot more pleasureable than yesterdays crises when the rolling seas forced open the hatch under the companion way on the starboard side. This hatch is only foot or two above the water, and measures 2' by 2'. It's primary use is to provide an exit should ES flip over. This required the delicate task of removing the defective "Maxwell" hatch handles, all the while having gallons sea water from each passing wave being forced up my nose, and at the same time trying not to let go of any of the small pieces until the new spare handle was securely in place....a task that was repeated twice - once for each of the 2 handles - a total of almost 2 hours!

Anyways, as the old cliche goes, ..."a bad day at sea sure beats a great day at the office".

I miss you all.

( )

Great news...bad news...

22 July 2008 | Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
July 22, 2008

S 00o 44.8
W 090o 18.5

Hello everyone

Sorry for being so slack...

We actually arrived in the Galapagos on the 17th.

Well the Great news...bad news....

Alan had some urgent family matters to attend to and had to leave us here, but the GREAT news was that Joanne agreed to put her hectic schedule aside and fly out to Quito, Ecuador, and then on to the Galapagos to join us as the 3rd crew to San Diego, California.....about 15 days.

Many thanks to Santi for approving this change!

Today we are preparing to leave about 1200. The refrigeration repair tech is returning this morning and then we have the paperwork cha cha after that. Galapagos paperwork is a walk in the park compared to Coquimbo. The missing wind indicator has been installed on the top of the mast by yours truly, the electronics are back online and functioning properly, fuel is filled and the food will stay cold.

Our next planned port of call is Banderas Bay, Mexico. This has been a busy storm season so far and we have a decent weather window to "hop across" to the mainland just north of Puerta Vallarta. Banderas Bay is known for being a safe harbor against major storms and it is a good place to refuel and check for the next opportunity to press north to San Diego. Hurricaine Fausto is located near 20.4 N/116.8 W but will certainly have moved out of the way before we reach Puerta Vallarta area. Tropical Storm Genevieve is currently at 14.9 N/102.6 W and is moving west. This also is no threat to us. We will be heading on a rhumb line (direct route) to the harbor there unless the weather picture changes dramatically.

We have Alwoplast who are monitoring the buoy weather along our whole trip. Who said it is lonely out here? We feel so very supported and have up to date reliable weather information every day.

Galapagos has been a good place to regroup and prepare. Our agent here has helped us with all of our projects. There was some chafing on the anchor rode from the inside of the windlass so this morning he is delivering some more rode for us. We can splice it on as we get on our way. Alan is on his way home and Joanne has settled in as Swabby Junior. We had an official ceremony as Alan passed along his sailing gloves to her. A viewing of Capatin Ron is imminent to assure her understanding of how things work aboard ES.

The Darwin Center whose main function is research and breeding of endangered indigenous animals is just a 15-minute walk up the main street of town. (appropriately named Charles Darwin Ave) It is truly amazing to be able to be so close to these wonderful creatures.

The fish market in town is a small lagoon where the pangas come in with their fresh catch. The fisherman clean and sort their fish under a roof on tables with running water. The fish is amazing and their audience, pelicans, herons, and sea lions are most entertaining. We bought a yellow fin tuna that weighed 16 lbs without the head and tail for 26 dollars. Not too shabby for beautiful toro and maguro. They had wahoo, grouper and snapper as well.

On Sunday, not much gets done around here so Alan, Dale, and I took a tour to Isla Seymour just to the north of Santa Cruz Island. (This was the same tour that Joanne took while she was waiting for us to arrive here in the Galapagos.) It was a 45 minute bus ride and then 1 hour on a motor boat to the island. It is a national park that is very well protected. We hiked with our guide and a group of 15 people and enjoyed seeing nesting Blue Footed Boobies, several species of Frigates and their offspring of varying ages, land iguanas, Galapagos sharks, and many other types of birds. They are so protected that they are not afraid of humans and have no reaction to us coming by busily snapping pictures. Upon returning to the boat after several hours we were treated to a wonderful lunch of fresh fish and vegetables with rice as we motored our way across the channel to a pristine beach where we snorkeled and beach comber for 1 1/2 hours. After that, we returned to land and tried to stay awake on the bus ride back. It was a most amazing day and quite a treat from the work schedule.

So, friends we head off today for our next adventure on our way to San Diego. Santi and Carolina are very excited to have us closer and closer to their home. I am more excited about getting closer and closer to being home!

Love, Ness

Galloping to the Galapagos

15 July 2008 | 3 35'S:88 16'W, SE Pacific...210 NM to go until Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
Well we are happily sailing with the spinnaker on our downwind trek to Santa Cruz. Over the last five days, the wind has finally cooperated, come from SSE and is pushing us gently towards our stop over in Galapagos. On this entire trip, we have only used the main sail 4 times, only for brief periods. I expect that things will be quite different north of the equator on our way up to San Diego where historically the winds and the currents will conspire against us.

We finally decided to fish and not 10 minutes after putting out our hand line with a green squiggly lure on it, we had a smallish dorado (mahi-mahi) on the hook. They are such incredibly beautiful fish?an incredible bluish yellow iridescent green. His youth was apparent and we felt a sense of relief when he was off the hook. I have always had trouble wanting to kill such a beautiful creature despite the delicious taste they provide. Now, a tuna, well, I think I can get over it in my quest for some fresh toro. Dale had brought several cans of wasabi powder from home in anticipation of some fresh sushi along the way. It would be a shame not to use it.

We have been exchanging many emails with our friends at Alwoplast, the builders of ES, who have been our supporters, our tech support and our companions on this trip. One of their recent communications was to tell us that they are having a plate of Monica's sushi in our name. The things friends do for friends!

The cooking continues to be in the forefront of our afternoon conversation as a result of Dale?s legendary cooking. We?ve had homemade french bread and vegetable-lentil soup, pasta with tomato sauce, fresh cornbread, pan-grilled fish tacos in a quesadilla style, home made pizza, various risottos, and so on and so forth. As we get further from our last stop, the fresh salads have morphed into crudite as the harder veggies keep longer. Alan and I continue to be very nice to Dale as she?s the only one who knows how to make fresh bread.

We are all looking forward to our arrival in Galapagos. The new wind indicator is now in the hands of our agent, Johnny Romero who will help us arrange for any other parts or repairs we need.?There is an anchorage there with water taxis available to take us to shore for $.50 a ride. Customs and immigration is close to the harbor and should be a simple task there. Certain ports are well known for a relaxed governmental attitude making the paperwork cha-cha slow down to a waltz tempo.

Typically the talk has begun as to what everyone wants to have on the first trip ashore-cappucino, ice cream, fresh salad, rib steak, etc.?It seems that we will arrive either very late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, depending on the wind gods. But at least we know that no mater what happens with the wind, according to our latest calculations, we have enough fuel to motor all the way there.

Early this morning, just after sunrise, Dale who was on watch, saw an open motor boat about 18-20 ft bobbing just off our port bow with the outboard engine lifted up out of the water. The three men in it began waving their arms when we approached. They were a long way from anywhere - at least 300 nm from any land. Dale called me to get up in case we needed to help them. Of course, when flying the spinnaker, it would have to be doused to turn in their direction. While I looked through the binoculars to check them out, I noticed a black flag off the starboard bow. It occurred to us that they could be waving us AWAY from them. We maneuvered to the right of the flag instead of between the vessel and the flag. Well, they stopped waving, put their engine down and motored off like it was a normal thing to be way out here in that itty bitty boat. They were clearly out there fishing by stringing a line between thier boat band the black flag. We checked the radar thinking that perhaps they belonged to a larger vessel, sort of a "mother ship" in the area. No boat showed up on the radar within 36 nm of us and neither did their little boat. Glad Dale spotted them.

Next edition from the Galapagos, 60 miles south of the equator.

Crew of Espiritu Santi?. Ness, Dale, and Alan

While we aqppreciate your emails, please do not send photos or attachments.

"Mister Toad's Wild Ride"

11 July 2008 | 13 17.0'S:082 26.0'W, The SE Pacific...883 mi SSW from the Galapagos Islands.
Hi, Here is Dale's "newsletter" (with a few small edits)!

Please feel free to write to us at this email address. It is better if you start a new message rather than hit "reply" , and thanks for all of your communications......but please - no attachments or pics!

While a smooth, glassy surface over the ocean is beautiful to see, it is not a sailor's delight. The last two days have been almost void of wind and we are motoring at a lower RPM to conserve fuel. The Commanders Weather forecast is for fair SSE winds starting tonight. These are supposed to last through Monday. We will be delighted by that as it will be a great spinnaker sail because the winds will be behind us. Hopefully, it will happen soon.

The smooth seas do, however, have their up side. Yesterday we were treated to the incredible sight of a pod of 6 pilot whales. They followed us for about 20 minutes diving down and surfacing, blowing water out of their blow holes. I took some great pictures of them that I will send from Santa Cruz, Galapagos. ?Marine mammals bring with them a sense of awe that is not diminished by the number of times a sailor is fortunate enough to see them. This was Alan's first time seeing whales, but their effect was equally wonderous for us all.

The autopilot is working well now ? at least keeping ES on a compass direction rather than sailing towards a waypoint - and we are getting much reading done as sail changes are not relevant at this time. We have had some squid commit suicide on the decks, a few birds resting at night and many different types of birds swirling around behind the boat. There is always something to fix on a delivery like this, and this time, it was the spinnaker halyard.?

The first day we flew it, after three hours, there was visible chafing on the halyard (the line that hauls the sail up the mast for those of you wondering what a halyard is). My guesstimate is that the mast is around 70 ft high. ?When flying a sail that has such force behind it, we check often with the binoculars to see how things are looking at the top of the mast. We put a piece of fuel line around the part that was chafing, but it was too fat to fit through the shiv(pully). After closer inspection, it was definitely coming from inside the mast, not outside. The only solution to that is to rig another halyard outside the mast. This is a simple task, one that requires someone going up the mast in a bosun's chair (a small canvas seat that is pulled up to the top of the mast by an unused halyard), and one that is much easier accomplished in port. I offered to go up ?and got half way there when I had to admit that my legs were not strong enough to wrap my self around the mast. Soooo...once again, rather than swim with the sharks, Ness conquered his fear of heights and went up. Of course the boat was moving with the swells and the higher he got the more the mast swayed side to side. It was quite a ride- "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride?! This, for our Chilean friends is a hectic amusement ride at Disneyland that shakes you all around. Not a fun thing in the middle of the ocean while clinging to a mast and carrying tools.

All's well that ends well, and the mission was accomplished. We got to fly the spinnaker for the rest of the day and are waiting patiently for the opportunity to do it again.

Alan has perfected his tortilla making skills and is the exclusive creator of those on an almost daily basis to accommodate our fish stash. Now that we are addicted, they are excellent vehicles for butter, cinnamon and sugar, peanut butter, cream cheese and just about anything else you can think of. Tonight they will most likely be Italian style with grated parmesan and olive oil to accompany our pasta dinner. ?We have been enjoying some amazing different soups and hope that soon it will be too warm to want them. The fresh veggies are nearing the end but don't worry, we will survive.

Making sun tea has been entertaining and Alan has taken over most cleaning chores until it gets warm out and then he and Ness can fight over who gets to swab the decks. Ness loves that job when it is sunny. When the weather and winds are like this, the meals are fabulous and the boat sparkles---we are looking forward to multiple sail changes, the mainsail raising and lowering resemble a Chinese fire drill. (for our Chilean friends, that is a ridiculous teenage pastime that consists of a bunch of kids driving in a car and when they stop at a traffic light everyone gets out, runs around the car and gets back in before the light turns green) Sounds like fun, but it does resemble putting up and taking down the main sail.

We were noticing that the sunrise was getting ridiculously late, so we changed our clocks one hour back?. Which will be Galapagos time. What a power trip to be able to control time for our own benefit !

We are currently off the coast of Peru and glad not to be stopping for fuel. Who knows what that would be like!

That's about all for now...hope you are enjoying the ride along with us.

"Too many collisions on the bus"

09 July 2008 | 19 06'S:079 29'W, Somewhere in the SE Pacific, 1,270 mi from the Galapagos Islands.
July 9/08

First of all, thanks so much for all of your emails. Always nice when ?it? says ?you have mail?.

Now, about the title- "too many collisions on the bus??"

We still are not sure what it means but it is a BAD message to see on your ?NKE? autopilot display. The next message, just as ominous was, "EPROMM corrupted"....and these were followed by a few others equally as confusing.

The ?auto pilot? is an electronic device in which you input either a compass direction or a waypoint(destination) consisting of a latitude and longitude, push the ?auto? button, and presto, ES sails (steers) all by itself. Hand steering is fun too, but only for the first 30 seconds.

We were sailing along in light winds, doing just fine, when the auto pilot alarm went off and I began our intimate relationship with the underneath of the helm station where all the electronics are. This happened July 6 around 1600-just when we were discussing our dinner menu - how rude. We spent quite a bit of time with the NKE manual and inspecting wiring by crawling in the compartment under the helm. We remembered the days on end seeing only the legs and feet of the electrician, Hector, at Alwoplast, thinking that it looked very uncomfortable. So, add 35 years (older) and the movement of a boat being hand steered to the mix??.not that much fun.Of course, it was Sunday so no technical support was available other than a few calls to Chris (the designer, and user of NKE instruments), who had several suggestions, but, alas, no cigar. We wrote a detailed email documenting all the error messages, everything we had tried and what had happened. This was sent to Santi, (o wner), Chris (designer), and Roni(engineer) at Alwoplast. The next morning, we received an email from Roni with his suggestion - essentially re-booting the on board computer system. We tried it and it successfully brought back most of our auto pilot systems. Dale remembered once in the weeks of struggling with the NKE at Alwoplast that he had held down two buttons and restarted it, but none of my combinations of buttons had worked on Sunday. It is working now! We also received emails from Chris and tech support at NKE - much thanks to everyone who was very responsive to our plight.

We were a grateful crew to not be hand steering 24 hours a day - it was cutting into our reading time on watch and made group dining virtually impossible.

Anyway, winds are still light but have moved aft of the boat. So, spinnaker sailing it is! The wind/weather predictions from our friends at Commanders Weather have been very accurate. We are expecting SE winds (behind us) through the day today (Tuesday) changing tonight or tomorrow to E which will mean a beam reach with main and genoa. Despite the light winds, we are making avg 8 -9 knots with either spinnaker in the day or Genoa at night. On a beam reach, it will be great sailing too.

Talking about the spinnaker, there were issues here too. You see, sailing a new catamaran ?straight out of the box? like ES is great, but like any new, extremely complex ?device? there are many bugs to be worked out. For example, when we first tried to set the spin(spinnaker) a huge (approx. 1,000 sq.feet) complex, light weight, and colorful colorful sail that is used when the wind is coming from the stern(back of the boat), we discovered that none of it?s bits and pieces were assembled. Since in all our years at sea neither Dale or I ever assembled one, we put our collective heads together and after a couple of hours we got it right the first time, and 30 min. later it was flying as gracefully as any spin can. But as the winds often do, they slowly backed easterly and they were soon on the beam (side of the vessel) which required the dousing of the spin. It was then that we noticed that it?s halyard (the rope that pulls it up to the top of the mast) became badly frayed/chaf fed from rubbing against something at the top and INSIDE the mast. This required another excursion to the top of the 70?mast in order to install an external block (pulley ? I?ll make a sailor out of you(s) yet!).

To be pulled up to the top of a mast is scary at any time, especially for someone like me who?s only 2 fears are sharks and heights?.YIKES ! And add to this, doing it on moderate seas with fairly large swells, which tremendously exaggerates any motion 70? up. Just imagine trying to work 70? high, sitting in a little canvas chair at the end of a 15mm line while being thrown around like a fly at the end of a fly fishing line. It took every bit of strength just to hang on to the mast, notwithstanding the job of attaching a new block and threading the old halyard through it.This whole procedure lasted 1.5 hours and then I finally reached terra firma (ES), I was beaten up, and exhausted.The spin now flies freely!

Another problem occurred 4 days ago when we lost our wind sensor. It literally fell to the deck from the top of the mast and is now unrepairable?.probably not screwed down properly. While not a matter of life and death, this instrument is a huge time saver in that it tells us the wind speed, calculates the true and apparent wind direction, graphically displays the angle and where where the wind is coming from. This helps us immensely in the choosing of our sail plan.

We have a new-found appreciation of the small Chilean flag on the flag halyard. It is working very well as a directional indicator.

It has been some great fish eating onboard since leaving Valdivia with Monica's provisions and also with the lucky "catch" from Coquimbo. Tonight we will try some Robalo chilean style from Monica (our sushi lady from Valdivia). Alan made some homemade tortillas the other night and the fish tacos were been great. Last night we had our first homemade pizza onboard. As the days go by at sea, talk of menus and cooking become more and more prevalent.?

To Dale?s amazement, neither Alan or I had ever seen "Captain Ron", a classic movie and a viewing requirement on most boat trips. Dale brought the DVD. After seeing what a "swabbie's" duties are, Alan swabbed the decks this morning while Ness opened the window and said "get me another brewskie, swabbie," in classic Captain Ron mode. I think I may have created a monster...male bonding???

Today, we have cloudy skies but yesterday and today were in the mid 70s temp. We have graduated to a full time uniform of shorts and t-shirts! ?The graceful spinnaker is pulling us along at 7-8 knts in very light winds. All is well with the world. Dale calculated the fuel reserves and we have enough for 72 hours at 2200 rpm one engine at a time, which yields about 8 kts. We are sailing as much as possible to save those reserves for when they might be truly needed. During the last 3 days we have been averaging 180 miles a day. We have 1270 NM to get to Santa Cruz island in the Galapgos, Equador??.. Did I just see 9 kts, 9.6, 10???? All right!!

PS?once again, thanks to Dale for her help, and input, in crafting my blogs.
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Captain Norm Ness