12 May 2019 | South China Sea
11 May 2019 | South China Sea
10 May 2019 | South China Sea
09 May 2019 | South China Sea
08 May 2019 | Philippine Sea
07 May 2019 | Philippine Sea
06 May 2019 | Western Pacific
05 May 2019 | Western Pacific
04 May 2019 | Western Pacific
03 May 2019 | Western Pacific
02 May 2019 | Western Pacific
01 May 2019 | Western Pacific
30 April 2019 | Western Pacific
24 April 2019 | Western Pacific
Daily Life in HK
19 May 2019 | Hong Kong
Virginia MacRobert | Cloudy, hot and humid.
We have been in Hong Kong for just over a week now, but for me it feels as if I have always been here. Hong Kong is as busy as ever with constant construction noise in the background. The heat is still affecting us, and we are constantly in 'dripping mode', and could shower and wash clothes ten times a day and still not keep dry. Having become Tasmanians we are quite intolerant of the heat and humidity.
Today, mechanics are hard at work on Shonandra's motor. The injectors are to be cleaned, and the injector pump overhauled. Being an old motor the placement of the parts means removing others before getting to the necessary.......I would not like to be those guys in the engine room, squashed in there in the heat. They brought a fan with them knowing what they were facing. It means we have little power for a couple of days - battery power that is. We wont be able to move the boat around until these parts are refurbished and returned.
We had family over to boat to visit yesterday. Two little boys loved everything, and wanted to try the bunks for size, and were amazed we had beds, a bathroom and kitchen etc just like their apartment. Not quite, but they thought so. Of course they noted that the outside was very different to the inside. We hope to be able to take them for a sail before too long.
We had a couple of nights out on a mooring owing to so many boats around the RHKYC and racing. They have now gone so we have moved back to the pontoon and now again have access to club facilities. Coco is back patrolling for beached fish and Hunter occasionally cantering up and down the dock for exercise. This morning he and I took a long walk past the live-aboard sampans at the other end of the yacht basin. (on land of course) They certainly use all kinds of canvas very creatively. There has always been a live-aboard community in this basin and they are serviced by sampans with different functions, eg supplying water, cleaning, and a floating restaurant in the middle of it all. Don't know if we would be game enough to try it though. See the photo.
Will post from time to time in between visits with family and friends and repairs etc. Until next time. Ginni and John
Hong Kong - at RHKYC service dock
14 May 2019 | Hong Kong
Virginia MacRobert | Overcast
Position 22 17'.09"N, 114 10'.09"E. We are really enjoying being here in HK. It is very noisy and busy but doesn't seem to bother us. The yacht basin we are in is in Causeway Bay right next to huge buildings and non stop traffic. The RHKYC has been renovated so exploring the new reno's has been eyeopening. The club was quite shabby when I left and badly in need of a face-lift. The club building itself began life as a fort on a small island called 'Kellett' . The armory now houses a bistro, and the original granite walls and arches are still visible. The walls have two holes at regular intervals at about chest height where there once would have been wooden beams. Sitting on the two parallel beams would have been cannon balls. The clubs facilities have been also been renewed. The changing rooms are nothing short of luxury, with saunas and steam baths. We are able to take proper showers. Yay! We each take two showers daily.
We have caught up with family and they are all doing well. Watching the three grandsons play together is very amusing. They say the funniest things to one another. My new, adopted grandson now speaks excellent English. He and his cousin Kai Jang love each other dearly and play well together, making car race tracks and building lego cities. My new grandson asked me 'Grandma, why is your hair so fluffy?' He has only seen me previously on FaceTime on our phones. I didn't have an explanation for my fluffy hair, except to say that when it grows a little longer it curls up.
Hunter and Coco are enjoying not being at sea. Last night Coco had an unlimited number of small fish to collect off the dock. A big fish must have chased them and in their panic they flew onto the dock. We left a few for the animals to eat and put the rest back in the water. Hunter took a long walk early this morning with me along the waterfront and came back exhausted. We need to exercise out walking legs now.
It's a social time here. Last night we met friends here at the RHKYC and tonight going to dinner in a beautiful hotel near here. Also tonight, John's daughter Liz and granddaughter, Scout arrive from Australia. We will enjoy showing them around. We will keep in touch from time to time, but we will also be out and about cruising in HK when the few maintenance jobs on the boat are complete. Till then, John and Ginni
Hong Kong! Yay!
12 May 2019 | South China Sea
Position. Near Repulse bay, South side of HK Island. We did it! First major leg done and dusted. What a challenge it was! No wind, heat and humidity, then too much wind and rain and lightning and rough seas etc. The last 100 nm were so busy. We skirted the oil and gas fields by going quite far north around it all, but we ran into fishing boats everywhere. They dont always carry regulation lights so sometimes it is difficult to know what direction they are headed. Like fishing boats everywhere they are also unpredictable. The last 40 nm entrance to HK was sheer madness. At any one time we often had about 15 targets on our AIS. We were able to tell when a target 20nm away where they were going to cross our bow or stern and how far from us and when. Only occasionally did we have to change our course to dodge danger. Most of the ships respect every vessel and will change course anyway. The container carriers are the fastest and largest of them all. We saw some huge ships out there today and we had to give up our 2-3 nm range rule. Some of those ships were only 0.5nm away and you could here the rhythmic thump of there engines as they passed. The largest ship was 1209 feet or 369 metres.
We arrived at our intended anchorage at 1400 hrs today only to find that today was Tin Hau Festival. Boats were out everywhere decked out in coloured flags. It's a sight worth seeing. They turn circles in front of Tin Hau Temples and receive a blessing from the priest. Look it up. It's a big deal here. There was no room in our anchorage so we took about an hour to find another. We are presently near Repulse Bay on the Sth side of HK island. This evening a small pod of dolphons graced our boat at anchor. I was in our room at the stern and I could hear their squeaks as they 'talked' to one another. Hunter went nuts again, barking and running up and down the deck. He loves to see dolphins. It was the last thing you expect to see in the big city of HK. Tomorrow we will go around to the RHKYC. There was no room there for us today because they have their annual Spring Regatta on and their yacht basin is full.
We will sleep like logs tonight. John has been up since 0230 a.m and me about the same. We both fell asleep as soon as we dropped anchor.
We are relieved to be here in HK! - John and Ginni
Oil and Gas Fields.
11 May 2019 | South China Sea
Pos 11/5/19, 1710hrs. 21 39'N, 116 23'E. Last night was a tough one, again. The wind was up but the sea, being the South China Sea and in this part, shallow, produced very sharp, short waves, many breaking and with no particular pattern. It wasn't pleasant and moving around the boat required playing monkey bars, that is almost swinging from place to place on whatever would support your weight. That kind of sailing we can do without. The upside was good progress, as there was no dodging the wind as it drove us along towards Hong Kong with great impatience. The result is that if the night is ok tonight we will arrive in Hong Kong tomorrow instead of Monday.The RHKYC cannot accommodate us until Monday so we will anchor off a nice little beach in Stanley Bay for the night and potter around to the RHKYC on Monday morning and then go and check-in at Immigration and Customs from there.
We have seen quite a lot of sea life on this part of the leg. We had Hunter's Dolphiin pack the other day, and today a large, leaping dolphin beside the boat, AND I have caught two Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) I threw the second one back, as I have already go some nice fillets ii the fridge for tomorrow's arrival celebration. Coco has had success as well. He has had another small flying fish and a bird. We had two small birds landing on boat yesterday and they would not listen to my warnings re the pussy cat. Now, one of them is widowed.
The air temperature has cooled considerably and John was wondering where he had put his sweater. It's a long time since we have had to think about that. After the heat this is a relief. Hunter for once isn't panting. He will be happy in HK where there are lots of walks. We should keep fir there.
Time to make something to eat and to chill champagne in the fridge for tomorrow Supper will be very simple tonight. No more rolly polly cooking for a while. John and Ginni
A Visit from Friends
10 May 2019 | South China Sea
Pos 10/5/19, 1645 local time, 20 31'N, 119 12'E. At dusk yesterday we found ourselve in a very busy place. It is the 'Squid-ing' season and squid boats of all kinds, listed as dive boats, a dredger and fishing boats, were out en masse. At the same time through the fleet at one stage were five ships passing north and south. We had at the height of this craziness 17 vessels around us, and this is in the sea miles from land. Many of the boats seemed to have Thai and Viet names, as well as a few with Chinese names. It took some time, about 5 hours to get past the fleet. when night fell it was easy to see them as to attract the squid they use such bright lights that you cannot look at them. Looking at a squid boat in the daylight you see a giant, floating porcupine, bristling with bamboo quills. They are an unusual sight. The madness occurs because squid is an Asian delicacy, and great as dried snacks. Once a year around this time the squid rise from the depths at night to breed. This is when they are jagged by the bouncing bamboo supported lines and hooks. It seems like a laborious business. I have no statistics on how many thousands of tons of squid are caught each year but it seems a miracle that there are any left in the sea. International pilots report that off Japan in the squid season there are so many boats out that the ocean below them looks like a huge city.
Concerning the Friends who came to visit. Around dusk we spied fins. Dolphins! Lots of them and they raced to our boat to play. We called Hunter up to the deck and he was very excited to see them. He last saw dolphins near Sydney and the last sighting was off three or four of them was in Qld, Australia. Our visitors were Spinner Dolphins with their pale, elegant racing stripe along the side. They are small, agile and playful, leaping and twisting and showing off like puppies playing. At any one time at least a dozen were taking a free ride on the bow while others circled and jumped and tail slapped just because they can. Hunter barked and barked his greetings and put his head through the railing on the bow to watch them under the water, and coming up for air. They stayed for about a half hour then one by one swam off to join the squid boats in squidding. I believe squid are a favorite food of dolphins. This morning at first light, Hunter came up the steps to go out to his 'dog park'. The first thing he did was trot quickly down the deck and put his head through the railing on the bow, looking down into the water. Alas his friends had gone, so he stood there barking as if to call them to come back. Naturallu not only Hunter wants them to return. Perhaps this evening at dusk......
The early hours of this morning a small low and Shonandra passed each other by, the low headed east and us headed west. It was very wet for a few hours with wind in all directions and a lumpy sea, which wasn't large like the Philippine Sea experience. It has gone now but the sea is left a bit lumpy without much discernible pattern. One interesting phenomena is the presence of dragon flies. There are many orange ones flitting around the boat. I don't like to see them as they usually come out before a typhoon, so we will get to HK as fast as possible.
Here's hoping more friends come to visit. John and Ginni
Turning the Corner
09 May 2019 | South China Sea
Pos 1700, 09/05/19. This morning about 0930 we finally turned the corner at WP Balintang (Balintan). The Island close by called Babuyan Island was indeed impressive from the Pacific side. Well, it is impressive from the South China Sea side as well. It is a faint smudge on the horizon right now as we steam away from the pass. The island is a high island surrounded by coral on her shores. The large part of the island is high, with a permanent cloud resting on the top. On the western side is a small volcano, with the classic story book volcano shape, and it has its own cloud sitting on top too. The big island is covered in dense green, vegetation and the sides are steep to, dropping dramatically to the sea having been eroded for eons by the Pacific Ocean. I can imagine in heavy, prolonged rain many waterfalls pouring water down to the sea off the steep cliffs. That would be a wonderful sight. The pass itself was no challenge. There was a strong current of two knots pushing us through. Now, more than 40nm out into the sea that current remains but is now pushing us toward the north, a direction we don't wish to go. Our rhumb line from Balintang takes us WNW to Hong Kong.
I expected to meet fishing vessels, tankers and gas cargo vessels in the South China Sea but it is already crazy. Ahead and passing at about four nm are 3-4 fishing vessels, or so it appears. The first one seen was the Phuc Tai, then appeared Tien Vinh, and then Hai Sam, and now Phu Dong. I suspect tho' that there is only one fishing boat and that the rest are named buoys which have AIS transmitters attached. We discovered this when we passed invisible fishing boats in the Philippine Sea. In any case, our AIS transmitter/receiver picks up their signal and it is relayed to our machine. If any AIS transmitter appears within a 10 nm circle of Shonandra the alarm on our AIS gets our attention. It doesn't stop until we acknowledge the alarm by touching the screen. In front of us about 19 nm away is another ship headed for Newcastle, Australia. Behind us is a cargo vessel headed for somewhere in China. The only one we have to worry about is the one in front of us which is headed toward us right along our rhumb line, possibly his rhumb line too. As I write the AIS alarm went off again and yes, there are three more fishing vessels up ahead of us. It's going to be a busy night. By the way AIS stands for Automated Identification System and all ships beyond a certain size worldwide are required to carry one of these transmitters. For smaller boats this is an option, but it is certainly worth having this gadget aboard. Information provided by the user gives the name, destination (if entered by user) Course over ground, Speed over ground, and the CPA or closest point of approach, and the time that will occur. It is very handy since you have the name of all vessels and if you are in doubt as to whether or not they may collide with you, you can call them up on the VHF radio on channel 16. John thinks I call ships for fun. It is that I wont allow any of them to come within two nautical miles of us, so I call them up and politely ask if they could change course to make that happen. So far I have always had very polite watch officers who are only to willing to break the boredom and change course a little to make that happen. This makes one feel incredibly important, knowing that you in your little boat have just made a huge ship change course for you. Heh, heh!! I know they have the same kind of auto pilots so it only involves pressing a little button a couple of times to achieve that.
That's today's news. Reporting from the South China Sea . John and Ginni