The Adventure Continues

20 October 2013 | Fulanga, Southern Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Village of Maunaithaki, Fulanga, Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Village of Maunaithaki, Fulanga, Lau Group, Fiji
20 October 2013 | Southern Lau Group, Fiji
29 September 2013
10 August 2013 | Savusavu, Vanua Levu
06 July 2013
02 July 2013
01 July 2013
13 November 2012 | Vava'u, Tonga
04 September 2012 | Bora Bora, French Polynesia
31 July 2012 | Uturoa, Raiatea
14 June 2012 | Tiputa, Rangiroa, Tuamotus

The Motion of the Ocean

06 July 2013
(Note from Bob: With the completion of one of our toughest ocean passages, NZ to Fiji, I thought it would be interesting to reprise an insightful letter Linda wrote about our longest ocean passage - Mexico to the Marquesas. What she says here is applicable to every passage we have undertaken.)

The Pacific Ocean is by far the largest ocean on the planet. It is more than twice the size of the Atlantic and covers almost one third of the earth's surface. At 64 million square miles, its area is greater than that of all the earth's land masses combined. There are approximately 20,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean.

It's never still, it never rests, it's never predictable and has many moods. When I pondered the reality of spending 23+ days crossing the largest ocean on the planet I knew of the possibility of days with mild to no winds where we might just float around and get nowhere fast or just the opposite, days of "sit down, hold on" heavy winds and rough seas. I knew the Pacific would try our patience, challenge our sailing skills, and test the seaworthiness of our boat. I did not think much about the never-ending motion of the ocean because one of the things I love so about sailing is the changing state of the water. I love the mesmerizing movement of waves and swells, the ever changing patterns and colors of the water and the many ways wind affects them. I didn't give much thought to NEVER having ONE still moment for the duration of the twenty eight hundred mile trip! You sleep in motion, you make meals in motion, you eat in motion, and you do all those private things in motion. Quite frankly sometimes you just shout out loud.....PALEEEZE S T O P!

Sometimes the motion is subtle and consistent and you get into a rhythm of subconsciously moving with it. Other times it sneaks up and knocks you sideways. I have a few large Technicolor bruises from being caught off guard by that motion and being thrown across the cabin!

You manage to sleep while being tossed from side to side because you've figured out which limb to "T" out from your body to brace yourself. You cannot eat more than you can grasp so unless you devise a system of using underarms and thighs you pretty much never have more than a one plate meal. One hand for the plate the other for the silverware, a pocket for the napkin. No, your lap is not a stable platform. We do have cup holders in the cockpit so eating there allows you a beverage with your meal; or, as I mentioned, thighs are good substitutes for cup holders.

Fixing meals on the ocean could qualify as an Olympic sport. A must is your ability to hold the crouching Sumo wrestler pose for lengths of time so you aren't thrown off balance by the boat suddenly healing thirty degrees or by the gimbaled stove swinging the same arc. I have a rubber colander with extension handles that bridge the sink. This is one of my most coveted kitchen utensils. I put all my ingredients for a meal in there and I don't have to chase them back and forth on the counter. If we're having sandwiches or hamburgers all the condiments are gathered in the colander. I also have skid proof (ha ha!) dishes that sometimes work to stop the sliding, but if the boat heals too far they just tip over and dump their contents. I trusted a can of peaches (in heavy syrup) to stay put but just as I filled my hands with other stuff it took a slider. It's bad enough the can leaves a dent in the teak floors but the mess is compounded by juice dripping through the cracks in the floorboards . . . there's an engine under there (and a place Bob keeps pristinely clean!). A friend skid proofed her countertops by lining them with cut up yoga mats; wish I had done that.

I use sponges, plastic bags, paper cups, etc., to quiet all the things in the cupboards. You would be surprised at how irritatingly noisy even cardboard boxes can be when they are constantly bumping into each other. The smallest sound is the one that will keep you awake while you try to sleep, even with earplugs - which are an essential part of sleeping gear on a passage. I do try to buy as many items in non-glass containers as possible, but sometimes that works against me. I was happy to find soy sauce in a plastic bottle. Once when I opened the cupboard the soy sauce jumped out and during that nano- second of time I was thinking "thankfully it won't dent the floor or break when it hits." No . . . it hit the floor, bounced, dislodging the lid, spewing "beetle juice" on the ceiling and floors, bouncing once more to include the nav station and salon (basically our office and living room) in its line of fire, and then down the floorboards into Bob's pristine engine compartment. Not good! I was discovering soy sauce spots for weeks thereafter.

At day twenty two it already seemed like a very l o n g time since we left Mexico. Twenty two days on the ocean is nothing like twenty two days on land. There is only one kind of scenery, miles and miles of water, endless sky and amazing cloud formations. I have never seen such enormous clouds! I saw every size, shape and color of cloud imaginable, and some you just couldn't dream up in your mind. If you like to play the game "what does that cloud look like" the ocean is the place to be! As far as ocean wildlife goes we saw no whales, no Manta Rays, no turtles, only a few dolphins and birds. We had about nine Boobies ride with us for a day but we were glad when they left because they do not clean up after themselves. Yuk! I poked them with a boat hook a few times and they just teetered a bit and squawked at me. I finally walked right up to them and swatted them on their backsides and they still would not fly away. And then there are the flying fish and squid that litter the deck during the night in rough seas. We have a friend who has a Pug onboard their boat and he walks the deck in the morning during passages and eats all the squid and fish. I bet he has really bad breath!

We had calm winds and rolling seas; we had squalls with winds over 32kts; we had big swells with blinding rain. One wave washed over the top of the lifelines and filled the cockpit up to my ankles. That was a bit of a surprise. We got caught in numerous squalls as we got closer to the equator. They showed up on the radar as big yellow blobs spanning miles. We would be soaked to the bone, change into dry clothes and a few hours later get drenched again. We finally just resigned ourselves to shorts, T-shirts and bare feet. We spent many hours hand steering the boat in wild waves, high winds and lightening . . . Yikes! It was a little unnerving but exciting. The sky was black, the ocean was black, the wind was howling, and the raindrops were so big and falling so hard they eventually flattened the waves. Fortunately, the boat handles beautifully in rough weather. And during all this time the wind was coming from an unfavorable direction so for all that effort we did not make much progress that day.

We did have one day we motored all day because there was no wind and a countercurrent was taking us east - the wrong direction - at two knots. Great if we were heading for Panama! It was really nice to have some calmer time. Our auto pilot did the steering in exactly the direction we wanted to go at exactly the speed we wanted to go. What a concept! I did laundry, cleaned the boat and just enjoyed the day. Bob and I both needed the break. There was just simply no such thing as "down time" during this passage.

We crossed the equator on May 1, so we now have the distinction among mariners of being "shellbacks." Not sure what it truly means, but I think it is just a title of accomplishment. The sun is hotter at the equator and the moon is brighter. I have always loved night watches during a full moon but at the equator it was extra bright and seemed so much larger. It was amazing! Sunrises and sunsets are beyond beautiful at the equator - a magnificence we could not capture with our cameras.

I thought a lot about explorers of past centuries who sailed these waters with big heavy boats, no charts, no electronics , no refrigeration, no contact with the rest of the world. If there was no wind they simply stayed in one place unless moved by currents. And yes, the world does look flat when there is nothing but water below and sky above.

We were asked during the crossing if we were "having fun." I truly never expected this to be "fun" and my expectation was met. I thought it would be challenging, life changing, thrilling and difficult (especially at 65); and, most of all, an adventure. I was right on all accounts. I compare it with climbing a world class mountain or doing an Ironman Race. You plan and prepare (mentally & physically) to meet all the situations you will be faced with and hope you focused on all the right things. You accept the risk of being far from any kind of help in an emergency. I've never heard anyone say that climbing Mt. Everest or competing in an Ironman was "fun" but I have heard all the above mentioned adjectives used. In conversations with other cruisers who crossed the Pacific with our group no one described it as "fun." However, we are all glad we did it and would not give back the experience. Spending twenty eight days on the biggest ocean in the world, constantly in motion day and night, in less than 300 square feet of living space, floating on a forty four foot platform, navigating from Mexico to French Polynesia, crossing the equator, and making landfall on a tiny Marquesan Island with the boat and Bob and me in good shape was definitely the pinnacle of our sailing life.

We have become better sailors, we have a new appreciation for the life we have lived, and we have a different perspective on the life we have left to live. This is not an easy lifestyle we have chosen. It is way beyond what we thought would be demanded of us both physically and mentally. However, the jaw dropping, breathtaking, mind blowing, beyond amazing sights we have seen and experiences we have had make it undeniably worth the effort. And, we are just at the beginning of this South Pacific chapter of our grand adventure. Life is Good!
Vessel Name: Bright Angel
Vessel Make/Model: 1990 Mason 44 Hull # 141
Hailing Port: Olympia, WA
Crew: Linda & Bob Hargreaves
Linda and Bob are long-time residents of Washington State - Linda was born and raised in Aberdeen and has lived in Washington all her life; Bob was born in San Diego, and moved to Washington when he was five years old. [...]
After leaving Olympia in August 2010 and sailing down the West Coast to San Diego, Bob & Linda joined the 2010 Baja Ha-Ha fleet and sailed to Mexico, where they spent a year and a half sailing in the Sea of Cortez and along Pacific Mexico. In April 2012 they joined the Pacific Puddle Jump and [...]
Bright Angel's Photos - Main
Every once in a while something will catch my eye that also tickles my funny bone. It could be a twisted sense of humor that makes me laugh, or maybe some cultural rift - who knows!? With apologies to any whom these might offend (and certainly no offense is intended) let me share a few of my chuckles (or in some cases sheer amazement) with you. LOL!
16 Photos
Created 21 October 2013
The remote island of Fulanga (also spelled Vulaga) in the southern Lau Group of Fiji is truly "Paradise Found!" We stayed in Fulanga for 35 wonderful, awe inspiring and relaxing days - and even then, we were reluctant to leave! Fulanga was resplendent with beautiful beaches, magical islands and the friendliest and most outgoing people you can imagine! With no apologies for the bulk of this album and its sub-albums, suffice to say that these are only a fraction of our digital memories of this magical place, and even less of the mental images that we will long cherish! Enjoy!
9 Photos | 14 Sub-Albums
Created 18 October 2013
One Saturday while we were in Savusavu, we took a bus trip with several of our cruising friends to Labasa (pronounced "Lambasa") for the day. Saturday is a big market day in any Fijian town or village, and Labasa is no exception - so there was plenty of hubbub and lots to see at the market. There was also a parade down mainstreet, and plenty of other unusual sights and sounds to stimulate our senses. Here are some of the highlights of that fun day!
52 Photos
Created 29 September 2013
14 Photos
Created 7 July 2013
We visited Auckland several times, and took some interesting side trips on the way back to Whangarei. Here, and in the sub-albums below, are some the highlights.
12 Photos | 8 Sub-Albums
Created 4 July 2013
We were not able to be home for Christmas in 2012, but we did get to have Christmas dinner with cruising friends Bev and Robbie (SV Mersoleil, from Seattle) and other boaters at the Riverside Drive Marina. Even though we were at Whangarei Marina in Town Basin, we got an invite to attend from Bev & Robbie, and were made to feel very welcome. It wasn't "Home for the Holidays" but it was a very nice time, nonetheless!
5 Photos
Created 3 July 2013
Going on walks or day hikes was a favorite pastime of ours in Whangarei, and there were always interesting places to go - around the Town Basin, in the hills and forests behind the town, and to the ocean beaches past Whangarei Heads. Please come along and join us on some of our favorite walks.
7 Photos | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 2 July 2013
We are not prone to visiting tourist attractions (or "tourist traps" as we sometimes call them), but we succumbed to a few "temptations" while in New Zealand - notably Sheep World (just north of Auckland), going up the Sky Tower in Auckland, and riding the Wynyard Loop trolley, also in Auckland. We hope you enjoy these photos of our visits to these "attractions;" for more information, see our blog post on "Tourist Attractions."
43 Photos
Created 1 July 2013
Linda wrote an "illustrated" Christmas Letter that she sent to family and friends from New Zealand in Dec 2012. That letter is now posted as a blog entry, and these photos are the accompanying "illustrations."
17 Photos
Created 30 June 2013
On December 8, 2012, we departed Opua and headed south to Whangarei. We planned to "park" the boat in Whangarei throughout the New Zealand summer while we focused on "land cruising" (sight seeing), a trip back to the States (in Jan & Feb), and boat projects (including a haulout in April for bottom paint and other jobs). The trip to Whangarei included two overnight stops - the first in Whangamumu Bay, and the second in Urquharts Bay, just inside Bream Head and at the start of the up river trip to the Town Basin in Whangarei. We tied to the dock at Whangarei Marina at 1630 hrs on December 10 - Linda's Birthday, with some help from our friends Bev & Robbie (SV Mersoleil), who then also helped us celebrate the day at Reva's Restaurant, just across the river from our slip. With the dock lines secured in Whangarei, our 2012 odyssey across the Pacific from Banderas Bay, Mexico - nearly 7000 nm all total - had finally come to a successful end, and we we ready to rest!
21 Photos
Created 29 June 2013
Our first stop, where we cleared into New Zealand, was Opua. Before moving south to Whangarei we visited some of the local sights.
17 Photos
Created 25 June 2013
Some things in New Zealand take some getting used to - like the lingo, the accent, the place names (at least those in Maori), and some of the unusual things in the grocery stores, about town, and out in the country. Here's a sampling.
21 Photos
Created 24 June 2013
Daniel's Bay (Hakatea Bay) - site of the TV series "Survivor Marquesas" - was our first stop on Nuku Hiva, an overnight passage from Hiva Oa. A higtlight of our stay in Daniel's Bay was the hike up to see Vaipo Falls, with a 2,000 foot drop supposedly the third highest waterfall in the world.
42 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
After leaving Hiva Oa, Hanamoenoa Bay on the neighboring island of Tahuata was the next anchorage we visited. It was a beautiful bay full of surprises - some good, some not so good!
9 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
Hiva Oa was our first "Landfall in Paradise" after leaving Mexico, and our introduction to life in the islands of French Polynesia.
14 Photos
Created 6 August 2012
Our 28 day crossing from Banderas Bay, Mexico, to Hiva Oa, Marquesas, was the culmination of many months (if not years) of planning and preparation. Shown here are some of final projects in Mexico, as well as some highlights from the crossing itself.
39 Photos
Created 5 August 2012
Just about everywhere you walk in French Polynesia is like being in a botanical garden - the flowers, trees, fruit - it's one of the special treats of being here!
43 Photos
Created 4 August 2012