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Archives for March 2008

 

Comont?

Mon Capitan: posilble "Check in"
Gendarme: Non, retornez sept heur a onze heur Lundi (return 7 till 11 monday)
Capitan Alan: Posible "check In "nooky Nooky"
Gendarm: Comont? (What?)
Mon Glorious Leader: Niky Naki?
Gendarme: Comont?
Al: Niky Nooney?
Gendarme: are... (en francais). "Nuka Hiva", oul sai posible. ("Nuka  Hiva" yes, that's possible.)

So off we go to Nuka Hiva. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't been to Nuka Hiva. I've been to Hiva Oa before. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is, It makes the Caribbean like Skem. I hear by nominate the Marqesas as the loveliest place on the planet.

On the subject of Skem, aka Skelmesdale, a new town to house the inner city population of liverpool......

Liverpool FC were doing OK, they had a shot at the premiership. They still sent out scouts, one of them phoned up from Basra.

"Look I've got this kid he's *&%$ hot. I mean he's great." So the manager puts him on the squad.

Final of the FA cup, 10 minutes to play, Liverpool are 2 nil down. manager goes. "We've got noting to loose put the Iraqi kid on".

The lad comes on 3 minutes, he shoots he scores. Crowed goes wild. I mean nuts.

He knocks off 2 more goals. Liverpool wins. As soon as the Iraqi's out the shower, he rings his mum.

"Mum" he says "We've won. I scored 3 goals. Every one loves me, Its Great."

His mum says "What about us".

He says "What happened are you OK?".

Hs mum says "Well your sisters been raped, we've been burgled, and last night we were fire-bombed."

He says " I'm sorry mum, I really am"

She says "you should be, your the one that made us move to Liverpool".

errrm i'd better stop now in case any scousers are reading this.........

Position: 9° 40.4' S, 139° 19' W | Posted: Sun 30th March 2008

 

Bloggin may be curtailed.

broken.jpg
Blogging May be curtailed.

 Some time last night somehow my laptop got broken. Dunno how its usable but the screen is shot. This may curtail my web development.

Damn.

Hiva Oa is gorgeous, the scenery is stunning. The locals are great. Unfortunately the beer in the Bar is £6 a small one. Bottle of spirits is £50. Even supermarket beers are £2. However the price of food, though unpleasant is not too bad.

Leaving Atuona today. This evening probably. Hopping the closed internet with less people on will be quicker.!

Oh and I've fixed that newsletter upload.... nearly (85% completed....)

AtuonaPan.jpg
View from Jackal, eat your heart out boys.

Position: 9° 48.3' S, 139° 19.8' W | Posted: Sun 30th March 2008

 

The allure of a lure, on a tripple word score

The allure of a lure, well I hope that's how you spell it. There are a few minor problems on board, and 2 major ones. The Minor one I’m alluding to is we've run out of fishing lures. The last one went a few days ago and was replaced by Al and My home made contraption. All yachties seem to use the fake plastic squid to catch fish, since we ran out of them we've been making our own out of a weight a hook with a bit of a blue and white striped plastic bag shredded into tentacles all held together with gaffer tape. Given we haven't actually caught a fish in a week on a proper one we weren't entirely hopeful. Al and Christian then modified the mark one lure with some tinfoil.

mk2.jpg
The Mk 2 in action

The mark 2 proved is worth immediately, catching a Dorado within the hour. Fresh fish tastes so good at this point. We wanted more so it went straight back out. Within 5 minutes the line was streaking off the reel again. This time it was big. Seriously big. It jumped out of the water behind us, about 5 or 6 foot long Blue Marlin the kind you see hanging next to photos of Americans by sports fishing boats with moustaches andd cheese grins. Huge fish.

The bird we caught
The Bird we caught

Unfortunately we only have a bit of 50lb line, the rest is 20lb. You've not got a snowballs chance in hell of landing a fish that size on a 20ld line on a boat doing 5 knots + with the sails rigged for downwind. Its very hard to stop with the Genoa Poled out one side and the boom preventered out the other.
It got away, but we built another mark 2 lure and a little later caught a bird. Their bloomin good these plastic bags.
The bird was hauled in (pecking viciously) and left to its own devices on the cabin roof. After a break it flew off apparently none the worse for wear.

Yesterday was therefore pretty eventful, additionally there was a bad smell in my cabin. I thought the cans of food on the boat had all been reorganised a week ago. I didn’t realise there were any left under my floor. The joy of finding food we didn’t know we had was seriously tempered by the rotting maggot infested remains of a tin of Vienna chicken sausages that had burst. The smell was dreadful and the clear up operation seriously unpleasant. So much so we had to wash the experience down with a bottle of wine and some olives. The olives we’re an unexpected bonus. We thought we didn’t have any, they had to be de-maggoted. Don’t think they’ll let me have that in scrabble. Yes I’ve been forced to play scrabble this crossing is that dull. I’ve even one twice now. I’ve never won a game of scrabble before. Even with the maggots it was a good day, we made good progress and ate better than we expected (chicken noodle soup and my home made bread for lunch, fresh breaded dorado with garlic mayo and lime juice for a snack, followed by fried spam, mash potatoes and gravy for dinner. With tinned fruit (de-magotted) to finish off.

The last bottle
The last bottle is drunk

The bottle of wine and to a lesser extent scrabble are synonymous with the two major problems we have that I mentioned before. It was the last bottle of wine.

Problem 1: We’ve no more booze on board.
Problem 2: We’ve no more booze on board.

I know technically these are the same thing, but its so important I thought I’d mention it twice.
Stone cold sober, after three weeks at sea, even I will play scrabble. On that bombshell its time to end.

Position: 7° 47.5' S, 129° 55' W | Posted: Mon 24th March 2008

 

Captian Haddock

Billions of blue blistering barnacles.

Literally. Cheap year old Greek anti fouling paint. We were going a bit slow, I wanted to stop for a swim. So over the side I go, equipped with a mask snorkel and scrubbing brush. I was viciously attacked by a fish. It was only a tiddler, maybe 6 inches long, but the f***er bit me. I was driven from the water by a six inch fish.

Goosenck Barnacles
Here's the paddle wheel of the Speedo (log)
No Wonder it wasn't working.
The whole hull looks like this

There are 2 sorts of anti fouling paint, hard and soft (or ablative). The soft stuff wears down, exposing more toxic paint to the nasty sea critters. The hard stuff doesn't. Most people opt for the soft, racers the hard. Ours is clearly not working. The pacific has a repo for barnacles anyway, last time I avoided it by sailing on a boat with copper nailed all over the boat.

We've managed to coax about half a knot back out of the boat. Since its hard anti fouling me and Christian got a large rope. Passed it under the bow and while the boat was moving dragged it back and forth across the hull. We've defiantly got a lot of the buggers.

These are goose neck barnacles, not the little volcano shaped things you see on rocks. They're tubular and about an inch long. Completely cover the hull and they're slowing us down a great deal.

Position: 7° 10' S, 116° 35' W | Posted: Fri 21st March 2008

 

All russinas are billy no mates

I've now read so many cold war thrillers I can finally draw a conclusion as to why the USSR lost. Its entirety due to social pressure. You see (according to my reading) the Russians defected all over the place, by car, plane, walking over the Bulgarian border, shooting their way across the Finnish one etc etc etc. Quite frequently with out telling their wives in advance. But this is all right cos all of them (and their wives) have no friends or relatives to miss (or be hauled off to the gulag).

"vake up honey, Suprise, look, vee have defected",
"This is America?",
"no dear this is Finland, but if I tell all secrets of glorious motherland to nice CIA man with detachable moustache he give us house in place called 'Wisconsin'".

This would never happen to us Brits....

"We must defect darling or dragged of to Gulag, Chop, Chop",
"Defect?",
"Yes Come quickly",
"Don't be silly our Daryls comming around Tuesday, can't defect till then, and then there's Becky, you know the cousin of Shona at the greengrocers' wedding next month, I know were not invited but Shona may need help and there's Mavis",
"But honey you hate Mavis?",
"If you think I'm gonna give that Mavis the satisfaction of watching me defect you've another think coming, I'd never hear the end of it. And then me Christmas card list? How can I get cards through the iron curtain...."

Mind you I can't Imagine our gulags would be quite as bad either, they'd probably inflict unspeakable horrors like putting the milk in after the tea.

 

Position: 6° 33.5' S, 118° 59' W | Posted: Tue 18th March 2008

 

Nobody came to our party :-(

Party
Party

Well we got the nicknacks out and I put on my least scummy T-Shirt. Had a shower (aka a bucket), but nobody came. Its really hard to meet girls in this ocean.

 We had a ball anyway, when I said nobody came. We did have a Dolphin and a Dorado. The Dolphin had one plastic squid and left. With some of our fishing line. The noise from the fishing reel was awesome. Imagine fishing at the Top Gear test track and catching The Stig on his way past. That kind of speed.

We fried the Dorado with batter peas and chips. Dunno if anyone's battered a Dorado before. Twas good. We also drank lots. Have hangover now :-(

Position: 6° 38' S, 115° 30' W | Posted: Mon 17th March 2008

 

Party Invite

Mid Way
Mid Way

The party is on Jackal Position, 6°56'N 113°56'W. Car parking can be found at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos Ecuador, 1500Nm West North West of the Party or at Atuona, Hiva Oh, Marqusas, Polynesia Francais 1500Nm West South West of the Party. There are no public transport links, but at a pinch you could land the Space Shuttle at Easter Island a mear 1200Nm South of the Party. Bring a bottle cos we're running out. Party starts at the 1500Nm to go mark.

Food will be monkey nuts, marine pizza (tortillas for a base), fresh bread and whatever tins we have. We've no eggs left for making a cake, sorry.

Position: 6° 56' S, 113° 56' W | Posted: Sun 16th March 2008

 

The turning of the melon.

melon
Melon

13 day's into the passage and we're defiantly in the trades. Jackie our weather girl says we've got steady wind for the next seven days. There's fresh bread in the oven we've 48 beers left. Half a bottle of rum. That's the good news.

We're nearly out of the first gas bottle (there are only 2) and we've another day till we reach nominal half way (1500Nm to go). The onions are almost gone. So's most of the fresh veg. The bacon and eggs won't last much longer either. I think maybe we should have brought more food. We're not going to starve, we're just running out of things before they go off. Which is frustrating. What we do have left is a melon. A large one. wanna see my melon? Visit the non RSS version. Yes is a a melon-drama. Sorry i'll stop being so melon-dramatic.

I'm really starting to get bored, you can tell by the melon gags. I've been quite good so far this trip but 13 days and no excitement. The last 2 nights we've caught a glimpse of light on the horizon. The first signs of humanities existence in over a week. Whoopy doo. The fish seem to have dried up. So when food was all fresh we caught loads. Now we'd really like some there's none. Typical.

This trip is going to be long. The sweep stake is me 13 days left, Alan 14 left, Chris 12 left. Which is bad for me cos I have to be spot on or one of them wins by default.

 

Position: 7° 17.5' S, 111° 20' W | Posted: Sat 15th March 2008

 

Definatly in the Trades

Precilla, QOD
Precilla, Queen of the Desert
(toy Camel)

We've been barrelling along with good wind for 2 days now. Its wavered a little, we're making a mere 5.7Kn at present. Yesterday we were running for hours at an average of over 7. Definite improvement over the 2s and 3's of the first 9 days. Its now 1998Nm to Atuona, by my reckoning. At 5.7 knots that's another 14 days. Which would, unfortunately, be a record for me. My previous best on this passage is a mere 24 days 9 hours, also my longest ever time at sea. Not a record I'm terribly keen on breaking.

Food is declining, oh god not fish again. We've done 2 dorados and a bonito so far. The other 2 want as much fish as they can get. We're short of onions, which is worrying since an awful lot of recipes involve onions. Nothing we can do about it. Al had me going saying we'd run out of rum. It turned out we haven't he was winding me up. With luck the beer may hold up, or at least close.

Yesterday we spent the day dismembering the Generator. wonder whether there's a shop round here selling 25watt 10Ω Wire Wound resisters with heat sinks? Probably not. "Round here" there is nothing. Its been 7 days since we last saw any man made object bar what we brought with us. No ships, no planes, not even any rubbish. Clouds, sea, fish, acouple of birds, the sun and stars, the moon and planets and the odd shooting star.

Position: 6° 43.6' S, 105° 31' W | Posted: Wed 12th March 2008

 

Fastnet, Force 10

The 1979 Fastnet race was carnage. The biggest ever disaster in yacht racing I've just been reading the book, written by one off the competitors. Some of it hit home.

Dragonfly, Duncan's race boat I served my yacht racing apprenticeship on was 32 foot long, built to the IOR rules that the race boats of the 79 fastnet were using. Dragonfly was built in 1978 as Gaffer, the boats in the horrendous pictures in the book look remarkably like her. The boats that come in for criticism (abeight veiled) are the late 70's lightweight boats, particularly the smaller ones. Exactly like Dragonfly.

The Fastnet was truly horrendous that year. 5 yachts sank, 15 people were killed. Hundreds were rescued by helicopter. It is an excellent book, a sailing book most of interest to those who can follow it. Its a harrowing read, and technical but a real page turner for someone like me. Even 9 days into the Pacific ocean I've only been through 3 books. That one took me less than a day. It has made me wonder greatly what would happen if a similar disaster happened today.

The sheer number of people rescued by chopper is astronomical. I'm pretty certain that the coastguard choppers have been cut many times since 1979. The lifeboats are larger and more modern, but getting from a raft or yacht to a ship of any sort in the conditions described in the Fastnet race are life threatening in its self. One thing that might help is the communications changes. The 79 Fastnet rescues were often hampered by inaccurate position reports and clogged radio frequencies. Modern navigation aids should eliminate that. One would hope. However few (if any) even modern boats would maintain electrical power in the capsizes and knockdowns experienced by the Fastnet fleet. Would the modern rescue services be able to pull that many out? Are modern sailors less hardy? I feel that I'm not as tough as a late 70's offshore sailor. Modern life and modern technology has made us softer I am sure. I'm no longer a racing yacht sailor. In fact just the Genoa drop on Island Kea was hard enough, a job I once did routinely. I've been spoilt by roller furling engines that actually work when you turn the key (unlike Dragonfly's). Modern clothing means that bar the winter series at Chichester YC (where I routinely wear a 3mm wetsuit) I no longer experience the cold as I did in my early sailing days.

Puts the Atlantic force 9 into perspective, it was mild and not really dangerous for a boat like Island Kea. One thing that came out of the book is the successful strategy for dealing with serious storms varies from boat to boat, being able to carry on sailing and to helm well were serious contenders for the most successful boats dealing with the storm. I don't helm much these days, that's what autopilots are for. I do know that I can helm, well, which gives me great confidence.

Position: 6° 14' S, 102° 39' W | Posted: Tue 11th March 2008

 

Is this the South East Trades?

Many of you may have heard the term "Trade Winds", other words like "Azores High" sometimes appear. I'm hoping we've found the south east trades that will drive to the Marquesas.

High Pressure = Good weather so open a bottle of Wine!
Low Pressure = Bad weather open a bottle of scotch
You need a corkscrew  (screws in clockwise) for wine,
you unscrew a bottle counter clockwise.
Helps you remember that in the Northern
Hemisphere
wind Spirals clockwise out of a high
and counter clockwise into an low.

I'll try and explain, I'll start with the Atlantic, because I know it best. Around the Equator (in all oceans) lies the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone aka the doldrums, abbreviated to I.T.C on the diagram. This is as mentioned an area of hot fickle weather, with thundery showers and erratic winds. Above and bellow it should be the trade winds. North east trades blow in the Northern Hemisphere north of the doldrums. Over simplifying they're driven by the Azores High, an area of high pressure that usually sits over the Azores, of the coast of Portugal. Wind spirals out of a high pressure in the Northern hemisphere in a clockwise direction due to the Coriolis effect The southern hemisphere it spirals out anti clockwise. Its this high that generates a steady flow of wind from the north east at the Canaries that Yachts use to cross to the Caribbean. This is the North East Trades. The Northern Atlantic North Easters are some of best examples of trade winds in the world.

South of the Equator (and the I.T.C) the rules are reversed, Coriolis spins the wind the other way generating South East Trades.

Trade Winds
Simplified Diagram of the Trade Winds We're trying to use.

This occurs in the pacific too. Where mountain ranges and Land impose they get overridden by local effects, but out in the open ocean you should get them. We've been in the Doldrums since Panama City, the Pacific Doldrums are slightly north of the Atlantic ones. We've been sailing south west out of the Galapagos in the hope of getting out of the light, hot sticky and variable weather and into the Trades. Wind is light, but steady from the South East. Woot!. I'm (and I suspect I'm not the only one) praying that this is the trades and we'll get some steady wind.

This phenomenon also explains why England is so wet, and cape horn in so miserable. The UK is north of the Azores high. So its tending to get warm Caribbean air that's come North of the Azores High, generating the Warm Wet weather we all know and love. The weather at cape horn is worse, the UK weather is generated by the Atlantic, cape horn has the same ocean on both sides, so the lows roll around the bottom of the world.

EDIT: God this was badly spelt, and when I was trying to sound intelligent too.

Position: 5° 44' S, 100° 58' W | Posted: Mon 10th March 2008

 

Steath

We found a movie on board. Called "Stealth". Now I've seen some complete tosh in my time, and, when your being rained on "like Manchester" to quote Al, have been at sea for a week and have 2 more at least, probably three to go anything that will pass the time is good.

This movie was still appalling. How this even went straight to video I cannot imagine. Imagine star wars, only worse, where Mark Hammil's acting might actually have improved it. Though having ones feet burnt off by the Spanish Inquisition while watching it might actually improve it.

There are three pilots, and Eddie the UAV. Rather like Eddie the shipboard computer from the HHG2G. Only worse. The computer is however the best actor in it. One of the pilots is a girl one white male and one black male. Guess which one gets killed.

To quote South Park "we need one Black person to come along in case someone has to sacrifice them selves to save the mission"

Do not on any account watch this movie. Unless you are:

  • Attempting to provide grounds for Divorce.
  • The Spanish Inquisition, inflicting torture.
  • Compiling a list of the Greatest Turkeys of all time.

Err and we're still going nowhere fast. Though to be fair we've been clipping along most of the last few days. I've now put my old "Hiva Oa Wallpaper" on my desktop, just to remind me of the nice weather I should be having and nice destination I may eventually reach.

God I'm gonna enjoy the next epesode of Buffy, comapred to Stealth its that good....

Position: 4° 52' S, 99° 42' W | Posted: Sun 9th March 2008

 

Disk 4 of 37

Life is slow, very slow we've been going since about noon on the 1st. Looks like I'm missing March this year. Not much loss. Its the month before the sailing season, before the weather improves enough to be bearable, but after the fun of winter and possibility of snow. I it is snowing in the UK please ignore.....

Remember I said the boat came with the entire Buffy the vampire slayer? Well there are 37 DVD's And I've only got to disk 4. Shudders. Well since our progress has been slow, I've been watching some of them because We've got the power. Too much motoring. We've taken to just bimbling along on idle revs. Not fast but burning minimum fuel. Keeps the boat more stable than just stopping but don't burn too much fuel.

We've only managed 500 odd miles in nearly 6 days. Anyway, Al's finished "the Talented Mr Rippley" on DVD so I'm gonna watch Buffy.

Position: 3° 19' S, 97° 11.5' W | Posted: Fri 7th March 2008

 

A good nights Sleep

Not as think as you drink I am
Not as think as you drink I am

Now there are 3 of us every three nights one of us get to sleep properly from 10:00pm till 6:00am. Last night was my turn

The wind on the other hand had other ideas. As soon as my head touched the pillow, the wind shifted around leaving Christian learning about hove to. I got us back on course went to bed and it happened again. After 2 more head to wind auto pilots and light wind I gave up. Stuck the motor on and went to bed. Christian waited ages till he was sure the wind had settled down. Then tried to sail again. 5 minutes later (1:40am). We're hove too again in another shift.

Al's watch started at midnight, he precedented to weave all over the ocean too, at least without my assistance. Engine starts maniacal changes of direction etc are not what I call fun, or conducive to a good nights rest.

So here I am at 7:00am having had little sleep and I'm back on the graveyards shift of 2:00am till 6:00 tonight. great.

Position: 2° 59.8' S, 93° 11.2' W | Posted: Tue 4th March 2008

 

Plodding along (the race is on)

Well we're at sea on the big one. So far so good. We've not had much wind yet. But that's not as bad as it was the other side of the Galapagos. We can bimble along on minimum revs and the current helps a bit. Our speeds therefore not been great.

Foods good. By accident we left at lunch time on Saturday not early morning. The result was a trip to the Market. Wish we'd go all our stuff there. Hindsight's a wonderful thing. Been eating like kings. Roast Chicken, Fried breakfast, tonight the rest of he chickens in a curry, and boy does it smell good. Last night I made bolognaise. Which I might add I'm pretty good at. It was a late meal due to an aperitif of fried Dorado (straight out of the ocean). The rest of the bolgnaise got padded and spiced and we had it with cheese and sour cream in wraps for lunch. Unfortunately we only have a fridge and that means we run out fresh meat tomorrow. :-(

We're sort of in a race. Well with think we are. As we were coming back from the market "tiger" was hauling up her hook (anchor). We're a great South African couple with 2 cute kids, one of them has an exosketch. When he can get it back of Alan. The third boat leaving Saturday was "WMD". Its very, very suspicious saying "WMD, WMD this is Jackal" into a VHF radio. Wonder what GCHQ made of that bit of radio traffic. Worse they're probably reading this website now. Hello GCHQ! Hope the weather's ok in England! Its lovely here.

one of the Guy's on WMD's got a flight booked for the 24th of March from Hiva Oh. His brothers wedding. With the speed we're making I imaging his fingernails are getting a bit short right now. There's a whole 3 bucks riding on who gets there first.

Christian is great. He doesn't get sea sick, he's never been sailing before so he didn't really know. I left the poor bugger on watch last night at 2 am, it was blacker than the inside of a coal man's sock. Raining. I built him up to it by having 2 minor squalls on my watch and going off close hauled (as near the wind as possible) on different tacks. Then explained that Tiger might still be near by, and possibly on a different tack. Should have kept that to my self. Poor bugger has spent the afternoon reading up on the col regs (rule of the road).

Position: 3° 0' S, 92° 45' W | Posted: Tue 4th March 2008

 

and then there were three

Moon River
Moooooon Riiiiiivvvver, wider than a mile....

Leaving Galapagos tomorrow. 3000Nm miles to the Marquesas, French Polynesia. Owch. Remind me again why I want to sail the Pacific again. For most people its the dream of a lifetime. I've already done it. Now I'm doing it again. You'd think the 30 days at sea last time would have put me off. They probably should have put me off.

If you don't hear from me in a month get worried.

What is it with lost Aussies trying to go home? Last time I sailed across the Pacific we took Ros and non sailor. Now we've acquired Christian another one. He and I were shopping for supplies (easier said than done in Santa Cruz). "Shall we take 4 crates of beer or three"? "Four". He'll fit right in. Some things haven't changed here. Butchers don't exist. Meat is hard to come by. We've done ok on veg. We'll make it.

We simply can't carry enough booze. We've 30 odd tins and 48 pint bottles of "Ceveza Pilsna", 5 dollar deposit on each crate. Yeah like we're sailing 3000Nm miles up wind and up current to return the empties. I'm as eco friendly as the next man but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Haven't managed to see giant tortoises this time, shame. But had a cool mountain bike trip yesterday.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, sun, Iguanas, Lava Tubes, seals, beer, haven't managed to post any cards.... will post 'em from somewhere.

Position: 0° 44.9' S, 90° 18.6' W | Posted: Sat 1st March 2008

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