Friday, July 31, 2009

A new episode

Although basically similar, days are beginning to be different. Last
night we ran into a 25 knots wind with 12 feet seas which forced us to
take the 3rd reef to make it possible for the Monitor to keep steering.
We are rolling very heavily now continuously, and cooking, changing
clothes and even sleeping becomes a little more challenging.
The sun is more and more present and the solar panels love it. We will
keep running the genset in the morning so as to use the toaster for
breakfast, but we won't need it for the batteries.
As I was taking the third reef, I noticed that one slider has had its
webbing undone. I don't see myself sewing it back in these conditions,
but on the other hand, as long as it is only one (it is a small
intermediary one), we should be OK.
Also, I was a little bit ambitious and I tried to rig the boom for the
genoa. There was too much compression on it and it almost snapped in two
parts. Fortunately I had time to take it down before anything bad
happened. I will have to figure out another way. Right now, we took the
sheet all the way back to the stern of the boat and we lower the clew
with a block and tackle next to the shrouds. It does a very good job and
we keep our speed between 5.5 and 6.5
We still expect to arrive in Fatu Hiva on August 18th early afternoon.
At noon, almost to the minute, another mahi-mahi struck and
Jean-Francois was able to bring it on board without us slowing down. It
was only around 5 pounds, but it will make a very nice dinner, and then
The sea temperature is beginning to ride, now at 79.3 and we should be
getting away from the influence of the Humbold current. But I still
don't understand where this 25 knots wind comes from. Neither the grib
file on Max Sea nor the Papy Jovial Weather Service had seen that and
were telling us to be ready for a 20 knots wind which is still more
than 400 miles away ahead of us. Don't always believe the weatherman !

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Great Blue

At last, the blue sky is with us. Almost. Still quite a few clouds, but
I have 17 amps on the solar panels, so the must be something right.
Meanwhile the wind has veered SE and with it all the problems related to
sailing with the wind on the quarter aft. For the Monitor to work, the
sails have to be well balanced, which means almost 2 reefs in the main.
This in turns causes us to loose speed and steering becomes more difficult.
Tomorrow morning, if the conditions are the same, we will set up the
Gennaker and see if the boat is better balanced.
Meanwhile, we came 152 miles closer to our destination over the next 24
hours, while covering 156 miles over the ground. That is because a
sailboat rarely goes on a straight line for ever and the zigzaging costs
a few miles. In the last 5 days (and 6 hours) we have consumed 15.5
gallons of water, that is an average of 2.95 per day. And we don't smell
that bad yet !
The sea temperature is still at 75, the air went up to 81 and the wind
is SE at 14 knots. At 6 knots we still expect to arrive on August 18
early afternoon.
Today, the fishing line is out again as we now need to catch a nice tuna.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nothing to report

No real change compared to the previous day. All night, we had to fight
to keep a decent speed as the force of the wind was yoyoing between 5
and 18 knots. It paid off. For the last 24 hours we have covered 155
nautical miles and we are now true South of Isla Santa Maria oof the
Galapagos archipelago, a little more than 100 miles away. I am now
expecting to arrive in Fatu Hiva between August 20 and August 18.
We have suspended fishing as long as we have not eaten yet the 15 pounds
Mahi caught the day before yesterday. And the freezer is still full of
meat and fish bought at Harris Teeter in Norfolk before I left.
Last night there was lamb chops and green beans on the menu, with
chilean Cabernet Concha y Toro which is quite drinkable.
The skies are still overcast, but not as dark as they used to be. Some
of the clouds are actually white. I am hoping that by tomorrow we will
at last see the sun. After all, everybody told me that once you have
passed the Galapagos, you are truly in the South Pacific weather, with
blue sky, blue water and all that . . .
I am now expecting to arrive in Fatu Hiva between August 20 and August 18.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fish for dinner

The posting for yesterday's blog had just gone when I heard again the
fishing line buzzing. Another strike, this time at around 2:00 p.m.,
While Jean-Francois was taking care of the line, I dropped the main,
rolled up the genoa and came to a heave to position. We did not want to
loose it this time.
It took a little bit longer to do it than to write it up, but we finally
got in the boat a mahi-mahi approximatively 15 pounds. This time, it did
not get the shot of rhum that we usually use but a shot of a cherry
liqor that we definitely won't drink. The rest of the afternoon was
spent cutting up the fish and cleaning the boat. Actually, Jean-Francois
was doing it and I was watching.
Other than that, we kept moving, very much in the same conditions, I
mean, no blue sky, but the wind got a little stronger, around 20 to 24
knots apparent, all night. We took 2 reefs and rolled up the genoa just
a little bit, but the speed stayed at around 7 knots.
Today at noon (18:00 Z time), we had covered 454 miles since Manta and
we have 3069 miles left for Fatu Hiva. We are south south west of the
Galapagos, and we will pass south of them at around 85 miles.
Since the start, we have used 10.2 gallons of water, have used the
engine 2.1 hours and the genset 4 hours, thanks to the cloudy skies when
the solar panels go on strike.
At 5.5 knots, we should arrive in Fatu Hiva on August 20st around 6:00
p.m. local time. At 6.0 knots, it would be the 18th at the same time.
But where is the blue sky that you see on all postcards about the
Pacific Ocean ?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blue Sky

One thing since I left Fort Lauderdale is the continuous lack of blue
sky. Whether in the Bahamas, in the Caribbean between Port Antonio and
Panama, through the Panama Canal, to Manta, in Manta and now out of
Manta, it is grey, grey, grey with temperatures in the 70s. This
morning, at last, we had a few minutes of blue sky, but that did not last.
On the other hand, we are very lucky with the wind. We left Manta 54
hours ago and we have already covered 303 miles, and it will likely
improve as we get more favourable wind. It is very possible that we
would arrive in Fatu Hiva on August 18th.
Few numbers : since we left Manta, we have used the engine 2 hours, we
have consumed 6.2 gallons of fresh water, we have caught one fish (a 3
pounds tuna), rejected one because we did not know what it was, and
today shortly before lunch a Mahi Mahi took the lure, but as we got it 6
feet from the boat, the line broke and off went lunch, dinner and sushi.
I have to deal with continuous problems on the boat computer. Today it
froze again and I took the precaution of setting up the back up computer
(Toshiba laptop Satellite), connected it to the Iridium phone and made
sure MaxSea and all the charts are there. Based on the fact that Bob
(the computer manufacturer) has from the start suspected the power
supply, I have repositionned the computer to give more room to the
connection cable and see what happens. But for now on, all Internet
connection via the sat phone will be done through the Toshiba, and the
boat computer will be used only for MaxSea.
I am also worried a little bit about the windvane Monitor. It had been
damaged in Manta when the swell and the tide pushed the boat against the
floating dock, pushed the pendulum forward and bent slightly the plate
on which sits the lower part of the gear. We unbent that plate using
pipe wrenches, but somehow this has resulted into a gap of 1/16th of an
inch between the lower part and the upper part of the gear.
As a result, mister Monitor is rattling its teeth and I hope it will not
get further damaged.
Other than that, Jean-Francois and I are truly enjoying the ride. So
far, the Pacific ocean is proving to be quite friendly and we are moving
along very comfortably. Let's hope it will remain like that.
At noon today, we had 3215 miles left to the anchorage in Fatu Hiva.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Out of Manta

Although I still believe that this was a necessary stop, let alone the
fact that we had to stop somewhere in Ecuador to allow David to go home,
we are quite pleased to be out of that place. The two things that were
most unpleasant, were the constant swell which, combined with the tide,
made the boat move around a lot and actually almost destroyed the
windvane, and the black dust which would cover the boat in less than
half a day after we had washed it thoroughly.
The time it took and the cost of the entry formalities are not uncommon
or unexpected in this kind of country. The total cost for the clearance
in and out was 280 dollars, but the cost of the marina, including the
use of their facilities and the dockage was only 100 dollars. So all in
all, not bad from that view point.
Anyway, we left Saturday morning at 6:30 after a night of loud music at
the Yacht Club, with a party going on all night. The weather was in a
somber mood, overcast, cold (70 degrees), but little wind to work with.
It only took us 2 hours of motoring to turn the corner and since then,
we are sailing with conditions that are constantly improving.
Today, Sunday noon, we have the wind on the beam, we are doing 7 knots
over the ground and we were able shortly to see a little piece of blue
sky. Not bad.
Yesterday late in the afternoon we caught a small fish, probably not
more than a pound, but since we did not know what it was, we threw it
back in the ocean.
At noon today, we had 3358 nautical miles to go to get to Fatu Hiva, our
first destination in the Marquesas. If the conditions remain the same,
as in all probabilities it will, we might get there in a little over 23
days, therefore around August 18.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Manta

Having spent up to Tuesday waiting for custons and immigration clearance, we did not have a chance to see much of Ecuador. We took care of the few problems on the boat (fixing the Windvane, clearing the shaft that was wrapped in a fishing net, trying to fix the steaming light that I dropped on deck and broke) and walked around a little in Manta.
Wednesday morning, free at last, we rented a car and went to Bahia Caraquez where we were told that most sailboats would be. Ge got lost a few times on the way but finally made it and stopped at a marina called "Puerto Amistad Yacht Club".
If ever you go by boat to Ecuador, this is the place where you want to make your entry. Do not, repeat do not go to Esmeralda, where crime is high and where entry formalities might cost you as much as a thousand dollars.
In Puerto Amistad, you will not be alongside, you will have to take a mooring, but you will get much better facilities, and much better suited to sailboats than in Manta. You will also save a bundle of money on entry formalities and on fuel. The web site for this marina is ""
The owner is american and speaks fluent spanish as well of course as english. Might help those like me whose fluent spanish is still a dream to come true.
Other than that, the drive to Bahia reminded me of driving in some other countries like Uganda or Haiti, where you keep looking for the one stretch of road, right or left, that has some tarmac on it. Also, there are a great number of steep speed bumps, unmarked, and it is easy to see them too late and have to step on the brakes real hard.
We rode through a variety of sceneries, either dirty and dusty desert, or plains in the valley with various kinds of crops being cultivated.
Back in Manta, we did part of the final provisionning (veggies and fruits will be done last). I still have to recover my mail and the hard drive that were shipped to me from the US, and also try and get the "Zarpe" (outgoing clearance), promised to me for two hours ago.
I had time to upload some of the photos taken so far, but I won't have time to place them on the blog. You will have to go and look at the photo album.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fish world

Manta claims to be the world capital of the red Tuna, and I would not
dispute it. The harbour is overcrowded with fishing vessels of all kinds
and all sizes, all intended to fish Tuna. It is incredibly busy, with
small boats on outboard criss-crossing the harbour day and night.
We had crossed the equator at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday without much
fanfare. We just offered a shot of rhum to Neptune before having
cocktails ourselves.
We arrived in Manta on Friday at 10:00 in the morning after a little
scare caused by the stuffing box heating up and causing noise and
vibration in the shaft. I slowed down and loosened up the stuffing box
until it leaked generously and allowed us to resume normal speed, but I
still remain a little nervous. Hopefully we won't need the engine that
much on the next leg and I will be able to have a better look at it once
in Papeete.
Also, the mooring at the Yacht Club is not very comfortable due to the
fact that the windvane is dangerously close to the floating dock. We are
tied up with a mooring ahead and lines to the floating dock aft.
However, the tide and the pacific swell caused us to be too close to the
floating dock. During the night, we put fenders to protect the windvane
and finally decided to move the boat away from the dock, and use the
dinghy to go ashore, but that might be too late as I noticed that the
top of the vane does not move as freely as it used to. I hope it won't
prevent it to work properly as so far it has been flawless and we did
not have to put any burden on the electric pilot.
Also, it turned out that the electronicians in Portsmouth connected the
transponder to the "Instruments" sub-circuit. We had shut that circuit
down and as a result Papy Jovial disappeared from the charts, which
caused some justified concern with some of those following us. Being
alerted by them, I found the problem and then tried and found a hot spot
in town to go on the web and make sure that the transponder was working
Internet connection is a problem here. There is a weak signal coming
from the Yacht Club, but they only keep it on from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m. and it will be closed on Monday.
We are also still waiting for the immigration and customs clearance. The
latest news is that we will get it on Monday afternoon. Inc'h Allah !
Other than that, we find Manta a busy place, mostly clean, with lots of
car traffic on cars that are for the most part in excellent conditions.
Not many shops or restaurant, but obviously this town is dedicated to
fishing Tuna.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

News alert

At 3:30 p.m. we caught a 10 lbs king mackerel that managed to get
himself hooked by the belly !
We have fresh fish for dinner tonight.
In the North Pacific, 15 miles north of the Equator on Thursday July 16.

Finish line in view

We are now less than a 100 miles from Manta. We got to the coast this
morning at 8:00 not far on the west side of Esmeralda, and since then we
are motoring, and we will be until we arrive. We are all hoping for the
WNW which was supposed to show up today, but we are still expriencing
the same kind of weather that we have had since Isla del Malpelo, that
is lots of clouds, a few rain showers and a persistent SSW wind, 10 to 15.
Yesterday, a small boat with outboard engine and three fishermen on it
showed up alongside at more then 90 miles from shore, the fishermen
making frantic gestures. We understood what they were trying to tell us
unfortunately too late once we got our fishing line caught in one of
their own lines. Fortunately, we were able to get free after coming to a
heave to, and we were soon on our way.
We have had a few pulls on the fishing line, but everytime, either it
was a small fish that got eaten by a bigger one, or the fish managed to
free itself, but we came up empty handed everytime. We still stand at
3-1 in favour of the fish.
Although the sea is still a little rough and we are motoring against the
seas and the wind, we should be able to make Manta around 8 to 9
tomorrow morning.
The next entry into the blog will be made from a more stable platform.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nothing to report

No change since yesterday, except that the wind veered 15 degrees south
to become SSW and we are no longer on a direct course for Manta but for
Esmeralda. With the wind blowing at 10 knots and the swell being still
significant, I am wondering how we would be doing motoring. I will try
this afternoon and see what the numbers are. So far, we have only used
the engine for 38 hours and we still have probably 58 gallons of diesel.
The solar panels are doing a very good job and we don't have to use the
genset or the engine to recharge the batteries. With the windvane, we
are not burning a lot of electricity although we keep the freezer on all
the time.
This morning, one fish nibbled on the lure but did not get hooked. So we
are still 3 to 1 against the fish.
Yesterday, we celebrated Bastille Day by opening a bottle of Bordeaux
wine. On the menu, unfortunately no fresh fish, but pork chops and rice
We still have potatoes, one green pepper, a couple of tomatoes and
enough onions and garlic. But it is time to reach our destination to
replenish with fresh veggies.
The days are now well set. At 8 in the morning, breakfast prepared by
Jean-Francois. Then lunch at noon prepared by David who stays on duty to
prepare the cocktails at 6 p.m. Then, I cook dinner which we have in the
cockpit at around 8 p.m.
We keep 2 hours watches, which allows us to sleep in intervals of 4
hours, which is almost a luxury.
As for water, our daily consumption runs at 6.3 gallons per day. with a
spike of 3 gallons for any shower being had entirely with fresh water.
We still have some 180 gallons aboard, so we can afford that. However,
we have set a sea water shower at the back of the boat using the wash
down pump, the hose and a sprinkler head. After taking the shower, we
can rinse using the camp shower that Stew at put on board. It works
absolutely perfect and use less than 1/2 gallon of fresh water per shower.
All in all a perfectly uneventful life at the office.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Among those who follow us on this blog, there may be some who are not
completely familiar with the specifities of sailing (as opposed to
A sailboat using the wind for its propulsion cannot, by definition, sail
directly into the wind. It has to offer alternatively one side and then
the other side to the wind to progress in a kind of zigzag..
Top notch racing boats can sail as close as 45 degrees to the actual
wind. That would be the equivalent of sailing the 2 sides of a square
rather than taking the diagonal. That means that the distance covered
by the boat would be 30 % greater than the direct course. A boat
sailing at 5 knots, i.e. doing 120 miles per day, would close on its
destination by only 85 nautical miles. And these are high performance
racing boats.
A cruising boat is designed more with comfort and safety in mind and
they generally don't do that well agains the wind. They have less keel
anchoring them in the water, they are heavier and they have normally
less power available through their sails.
In the case of Papy Jovial, if we were in calm water and with a nice 10
to 15 knots breeze, we would sail approximately 65 degrees to the wind
and we would have to increase our distance by 45 %. Instead of the 120
nautical miles through the water, we would close in on our destination
by only 66 nautical miles.
But with rough seas and stronger winds, it is likely that the angle
woud become 70 or even 75 degrees. Then the 120 miles become 45 miles or
In that situation, the name of the game is patience and good rum on board.
And we will be tacking probably for the rest of the week.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Finally the easterlies gave up and in the transition we had again to use
the Yanmar sail. Then around 4 this morning, the wind came in from the
SSW, as expected, and we are in now for a few days of tacking. Right
now, we are doing 150 on one tack and 275 on the other, which is a lot
better than I expected, with a long swell from the South.
At this rate, I expect to get to Manta on Friday, July 17th early in the
day. Long way away still, things can change. However, since the present
situation is the worse that we can get, dead into the wind with current
against us, we can only look forward to any change.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Did you say sailing as in sailboat

Yesterday at noon, we were motoring in a sea as flat as a billiard table
with absolutely no wind. Then at 6:00 p.m. a few wrinkles began to
appear on the surface, and a few minutes later we were sailing, slow at
first, then at about 4 knots the whole night. Today at noon, we have
396 miles to go and still approximately 68 gallons of fuel in the tank
(plus 6 in a jerrycan). So I think that we are now very likely to make
Manta, even if we had to go motoring all the way.
The funny part is that the wind is east, sometimes north-east, when
every possible weather source sees a W or SW wind. Anyway, we will take
it. Does us good.
So far we have covered 231 miles and used the engine a total of 26 hours.
There are lots of thunderstorms and rain showers coming from the east,
but although they certainly have an influence on the strength of the
wind, they do not affect its direction. Maybe the SW will come later
after all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In the doldrums

Yesterday morning, we had a good start. We left the Flamenco marina at
8:00 a.m. and almost immediately were able to hoist the sails with a NNW
wind of 5 to 10 and current pushing us. I could almost see us in Manta
in 4 days.
Well, not so fast said Neptune. Since then, we have been shown what the
Pacific could be with no wind. We also had a display of thunderstorm
with a nice wind in them and 2 hours of heavy showers. If no water tanks
had not been full, we would have collected quite a lot.
Also, we finally scored in our competition with the fishes. We now stand
at 3-1, they took 3 lures, we caught one fish. It happened at 2:00 p.m.
and David brought in the boat a 3 lbs Mahi Mahi. Nice dinner !
Other than that, the main topic of discussion and thoughts and stress is
the range of the boat on the engine only.
I worked out that at noon today, we had been using the engine 18.2 hours
and burned 11 gallons of fuel, or 0.6 gallons per hour at 1500 rpm and 4
knots through the water. We had 74 gallons left at noon, so we should
be able to make it (we have 487 miles left to go) since we can't imagine
not having any wind at all. However, if the wind decides never to show
up again, we have a plan B which is called Esmeralda, more than 100
miles less than Manta.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flamenco marina

Huge difference between Shelter Bay and Flamenco. Here we are in a marina used mostly by super sport fishing yachts, and the prices go along. The marina is under the influence of the Pacific swell, is still under construction, and we are on a dock very far from the office, with no electricity and a water tap quite far from the boat. But no discount. And the Wi-Fi is $18 per day !
However, much nicer area, with even a Bennigans on the dock and a clean and nice surrounding.
I had a mini disaster when the hard drive on the computer crashed and this time refused to resurrect. Fortunately, I had a "clone" which was only a week old, and I was able, under the watchful eyes of David and Jean-Francois, to take out the bad one and replace it with the clone. Everything is now working fine, but I need to order a new hard drive a.s.a.p. so that I can make clones on a regular basis in case I have another problem. The temperature is probably a factor, but I suspect that the old hard drive was a defective one from the start and things only got worse as time went on.
The day today was devoted to minor jobs on the boat, completing formalities and reload with beer and other necessities.
Tonight will be our last meal ashore for a while before we head tomorrow morning for Manta.

Through to the Pacific

This last two days have been among the most exciting days for me. On Tuesday, Dracula and Rudi showed up at the last minutes with themselves and their luggage as it turned out that they were the line handlers. We left the dock at 13:40, hardly in time to meet our "advisor" who was supposed to board us at the "Flats" at 2:00. Fortunately, he was late and we got him aboard on time.
We rushed to the Gatun locks, but the tanker that was supposed to be ahead of us in the locks ran into some problem and we had to wait for a replacement freighter which arrived at 4:00 p.m.
We then started the process of going through the three locks and rising by a total of 87 feet . I had read all kinds of horror stories about going thru those locks together with big freighters, and the damage on the yachts, and the monkey's fists damaging hatches and solar panels, and so on and so forth that I was a little nervous. In fact, everything went super smoothly, with everybody on the side of the canal doing a very professional job, and all we had to do was to enjoy the ride and marvel at this huge organisation. It took about one hour to go through those three locks after what we went to a mooring buoy in the Gatun lakes for the night.
Wednesday morning, another "advisor" showed up and we were off at around 7:00 a.m. At first, under a very heavy and continuous rain we sailed again at full speed toward the Pedro Miguel lock, going through the lakes and then through the Gaillard cut that had cost so many lives to open. On each side, we saw people at work maintaining and improving the canal.
We got to the Pedro Miguel too early and again had to play the waiting game until the freighter that was going to be with us in the locks showed up. This time, since we were going down, instead of being placed behing the freighter, we were ahead of it, and it was impressive to be there, tied up in the locks and watch that big boat creep forward on us. However, as had been the case in the Gatun locks, everything went without a hitch and we were soon out of Pedro Miguel and into the Miraflores ones. This time, two locks for Miraflores and one for Pedro Miguel. In each lock, we would go down by about 30 feet.
At 2:00 in the afternoon, we were out of the locks, sailing towards Balboa where the "advisor" went off and then onto Flamenco marina where we planned to spend 2 nights to rest, digest this wonderful experience and prepare for the trip to Ecuador.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ready to transit

On Saturday, the day was mostly dedicated to have the agent do most of the formalities. Sunday was supposed to be shopping day. But "Dracula" (our taxi driver/guide) had to go to Balboa to take there mooring lines for a cat about to transit from the Pacific side. So we decided to go along with him and do a little tourism. In the same time, this would allow us to have a look at the Flamenco marina, our destination on the Pacific side.
One thing that strikes me is that here, like in most hispanic countries, people don't seem to mind ugliness and dirty stuff. Buildings are not painted, or the paint is peeling away, and junk is allowed to pile up almost anywhere.
Also, the surprise comes fr
om the huge difference in standards between the Colon area and the Balboa/Panama area. Over there, it looks like a lot of other tourist resorts in many other places in the world
. The Flamenco marina has a number of nice restaurants and well supplied shops, and everything looks, at first sight anyway, 
nicely maintained and freshly painted.
On the way back, as we were crossing the rain forest, we got caught in heavy and long lasting rain, to the point where we could hardly see the road.
On Monday, Dracula was back in the morning to take us shopping to the nearest supermarket which is well supplied and where we coul
d find almost everything that we would need. Later in the evening, Dracula came back to provide us with the 125 feet mooring lines and the tires (fenders) to protect us against 
the aggressive walls of th
e locks.
This morning, all we can do is wait for the final instructions to go to the flats and wait for the "advisor" (panama canal pilot) and the line handlers. We have prot
ected with cushions and comforter all the sensitive parts of Papy Jovial (solar panels, hatches) against a misguided monkey fist.
We are all very excited abou
t this transit.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Shelter Bay

I believed that I was almost on time to meet my forecast of 4 days and 4 hours to get to Shelter Bay. But the wind abandoned us at about 3:30 on Friday morning, and we had to resort to the iron sail after messing around at 3 and 4 knots for some time. However, we tied up at Shelter Bay marina at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and I think we can be quite happy with the time.
Shelter Bay has wonderful facilities, especially the bathrooms, with shower heads as big as our own head. The people are extremely friendly and I think we are going to enjoy our four days here.
As we came in, our help came in the form of a taxi driver/guide sent by the agent Tina McBride, nicknamed Dracula. He is taking care of everything, and all we have to do is supply the proper documents, and everything happens. On Saturday morning we had the measurements made and in the afternoon Dracula came back with visas, cruising permit, etc. . . .
Tomorrow we will do the shopping, Monday we will just get ready to transit and on Tuesday we will go to the flats and wait for the "advisor" and begin the transit.
Here in the marina, I met a skipper from South Africa who does Yacht deliveries worldwide and gave me a lot of excellent informations which will help me fine tune my program.
First, I don't think I will sail to New Zealand. From New Caledonia, New Zealand is straight upwind. It makes a lot more sense to go to Australia and from then, fly to New Zealand to be with all the other brothers of the Coast for the mini Zaf before the Sydney meeting.
Then, after Reunion, I will go north of Madagascar, then on to Mayotte, then Maputo and Richards Bay. He tells me that he goes around South Africa all year round and that you can do it if you play the weather right.
So, already, being still in the Atlantic side, I feel a lot better.
On top of all those good news, it looks like we will get better weather forecast assistance than a US aircraft carrier. Tom and Sarah, the previous owners of Papy Jovial, who themselves have earned in their own right an excellent reputation for providing weather information, have enrolled their son who used to do it for the US aircraft carriers in the Pacific.
I feel very good about the rest of the trip.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

to Panama

While the East Coast is waiting for their HST (high speed train), we are
busy running the HSB to Panama.
Since we left Port Antonio, we have covered 343 nm in 60 hours, with 157
of them in the last 24 hours. We continue to enjoy (?) an Easterly wind
blowing at 20 to 25 knots, and it comes with a 12 feet swell. The swell
being on the beam, we sometimes roll heavily, showing us precisely what
needs to be secured better.
With all that shaking, the water in the tanks comes out with small white
particles in suspension, which clog the Brita filters too quickly. Since
we have only a short run left and more than 180 gallons of water in the
tanks, we have decided to use water as profusely as we can to drain the
tanks and refill in Panama.
On the fishing front, we stand at 3-0. The fish got 2 ends of line with
hook, leader and all and one leader with hook. but David is not giving
up and is now making stronger leaders with steel wire.
No pressure however on the fishing guys (I mean David and Jean-Francois,
I am out of it) we have plenty of food left in the freezer.