Sailing the Pacific

09 November 2010
07 November 2010
05 November 2010
26 October 2010
19 October 2010 | Somewhere between Fiji and Vanuatu
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
14 October 2010
03 October 2010
15 September 2010 | Vava'u, Tonga
02 September 2010 | Vava'u, Tonga
08 August 2010
29 July 2010
25 July 2010 | Bora Bora
20 July 2010
16 July 2010 | Moorea
16 July 2010 | Moorea, Society Islands

Engine-less Sailing

14 October 2010
Neiafu Harbour, Vava'u, Tonga,waiting for customs clearance.

While in Tonga, the starter motor for our engine finally gave up the ghost. It had been getting harder and harder to turn the engine over and eventually the starter would not crank at all. When i took it apart it was obvious what the problem was: it was burnt out and breaking up inside. It was soon clear that it would take several weeks to get a replacement of one sort or another, so it was pure sailing for us from then on.

It was actually much more fun, peaceful and a good learning experience. For instance, I was never exactly sure just how you were meant to sail up on the anchor in order to retrieve it. After experimenting with mainsail only, headsail only, combinations of the two, steering or not steering, we became quite adept at the procedure. Turns out you can use any combination of sails but usually some headsail helps. We let the boat sail out to one side as far as the anchor chain would allow; tack the boat, or let it tack itself; then pull in as much chain as we could while the boat was heading off to the extent of the chain on the other tack, and so on until we sailed past the anchor and pulled it out of the seabed. The trick is in not sailing too slowly or not letting the boat get up enough momentum ( if the chain is getting too short) and also in not sailing too fast and past the anchor. Moderation in everything!

Similarily, we learnt to drop anchor and dig it in under sail. Again, getting just the right speed was important. Too much sail and too fast meant a runaway chain. Scary. Too little speed and the anchor wouldn't be sure to dig in. Usually, we would sail through the anchorage and pick our spot, approach from upwind, drop the mainsail and turn to run downwind over the spot where we wanted to place our anchor, have just enough headsail out to give us the right momentum, lower the anchor and feed out the chain as Isabelle rolled up the headsail, I'd then snub off the chain at the scope we wanted and as the anchor bit Isabelle would swing the bow to the side the anchor chain was coming off. By the time the boat was around head to wind we would have the anchor nicely dug in.
It was also very satisfying to be able to do all this under sail and we regarded with a little pity, the other boats that always resorted to their engines for the same operations, feeling that they were missing out on something.

We resolved to sail on to Fiji and finally sort our starter motor problems there, where there are more services. We had to wait several days for the weather to settle a bit but then we had a rather pleasant sail, especially the last two days of the three day passage, in conditions that reminded me of the way the first days of spring feel when at home.
Vessel Name: Dagmar
Vessel Make/Model: CAL 39
Hailing Port: Melbourne, Australia
Crew: James Thomson and Isabelle Chigros-Fraser
Hello and welcome to our new sailing blog! Our dream is to sail across the Pacific Ocean this year starting in Costa Rica and finishing in Australia. [...]
As we have been told by fellow sailors, when you live at the mercy of the elements plans are like "Jello and Sand"- wobbly and unsteady like Jello (jelly for us aussies) and when you write something in the sand often it will be washed away with the tide. It is for this reason that we didn't finish [...]
'Twenty years from now you will be more dissapointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' -Mark Twain
' I felt my pulse beating with suppressed excitement as I threw the mooring bouy overboard. It seemed as if that simple action had severed my connection with the life on the shore; that I had thereby cut adrift the ties of convention. The unrealities and illusions of cities and crowds, that I was free now, free to go where I chose, to do and to live and to conquer as I liked, to play the game wherin a man's qualities count for more than his appearance. 'Maurice Griffiths, The Magic of the Swatchways.