Monday, August 31, 2009

I spoke too soon !

The ideal weather conditions is far behind us. Since early this morning,
we get heavy swell from the south, rain showers, and very little
apparent wind as it is right in our back at 12 knots. With the rolling,
the sails are flapping furiously, and I decided to hoist the Yanmar sail
rather than risk damaging the sails or the rigging. Hopefully we should
be out of this area by nightfall tonight. We are crossing the
archipelago of the Tuamotou and this might be why we get those rain
showers. This is also a good reason to be attentive as I read in a few
guides that there might be as much as 4 miles difference between the
actual position and the position on the map.
At noon today, we had 272 miles to go and I still expect to get to
Papeete on the 2nd, but possibly in the latter part of the day. In that
case, we will anchor in a spot given to me by a brother of the coast
from Tahiti and wait for day break to go in.

the Marquesas

Why do we want to visit "exotic" places, far away from the mass
migrations of tourists, not yet swallowed up by our civilisation and our
consumerism. Somehow, we come to see people who have not yet received
the full benefit of modern way of life and who are still travelling on
horse back and live in huts made of local material. And we are a little
disappointed because we find four wheel drive pick-ups, prefab houses,
cable TV, internet, ATMs, supermarket, etc.....
My feeling is what matters is to preserve the local culture, music,
arts, artifacts, local food, the language, but not complain if the local
residents want to enjoy same as us some of the benefits of modern life.
Another thing that bothers me a little is the fact that because people
from the outside come and settle here, buying land and building houses,
the cost of living goes up and through the roof and maybe one day local
residents won't be able to afford living in their own place.
Many questions and very few answers, as far as I am concerned. But I
leave the place wishing that those people will keep enjoying a happy
life as they are doing now. I must say that I was impressed to see that
France has built decent infrastructures in all the villages that I
visited, power station, water treatment plant, cell phone towers, few
roads, and administration (post office, police, health care units).

Today we had the good side of the Pacific Ocean. Nice breeze at 10 to 15
knots, very little swell, few clouds. We should still get to Papeete
either on the 2nd afternoon, or on the 3rd morning. I won't go in at
night and wait outside for daylight if we get there too late on the 2nd.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Roll and roll again !

Not much to say about the day. We had a wonderful start with gennaker
and main on a calm sea, but that did not last. We are now back to 3
reefs in the main (not because of the wind but so that the genoa would
get some air since we can't pole it any more) and the genoa, and we are
creeping forward at 4.5 knots with the old familiar rolling enough to
keep our legs in shape.
Yesterday, we caught a bonita that I prepared "a la matelote" which is
in a red wine sauce. My crew liked it.
For today, we covered 121 miles over the ground and closed on Papeete by
119 miles, so that we have 540 miles to go. We might get there either on
the 2nd late in the day or on the 3rd. If need be, I will slow down to
arrive on the 3rd morning. No night manoeuver, please !

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tourism in Hiva Oa

Wednesday was a wonderful day. Thanks to our driver/guide Marie-Jo
(telephone 200732) we had the most exhaustive tour of the island that
you can do by car, mostly on dirt roads.
We (Barbara and Paul on Qweemarla, catamaran, and myself) left at 8:00
first for the village of Puamau, long ways away on the east side of the
island, through a very scenic mountain dirt road. Marie-Jo is a very
careful and prudent driver, which is a good thing as some portions of
that road are very impressive for their steepness of the road, its
narrowness and closeness to vertical cliffs. In Puamau, we visited the
site of the great Tipis, ceremonial sites from a few hundred years ago,
with statues carved in stones. Interesting site, but we would have
needed more explanation or prior knowledge about the history of the
After the visit, we had lunch at the local restaurant with local
delicious food, fish, goat, pork, a dish prepared from pumkins, bread
fruit, and fresh juice.
On the way, we stopped in a farm where we could buy dried bananas and
fresh grapefuits.
Then we returned towards the airport and descended to the village of
Hanaiapa, obviously regularly visited by tourists, with a wharf to off
load people, a nice beach and many many lime trees.
Then, back up to the airport, down to Atuona and on to the west side
which appears to be the residential area for the island.
There we visited another archeological site, without Tipis but much
larger than the one in Puamau.
Then back to the boat for a quiet evening.
On Thursday, Jean-Francois apparently was so eager to leave that at 6:00
a.m. he made it obvious that I had to get up and get on with it. We
prepared the boat, got the anchors up and cleaned then thoroughly from a
very heavy and black mud which guarantees you an excellent holding there.
We had a little more than 5 minutes of sailing, and then it was motoring
until 5:00 p.m. when the wind returned and we could hoist the Gennaker.
Since then, we average a little more than 5 knots with less than 10
knots of wind.
A few technical problems for this first day at sea : the winch for the
mainsail halyard failed and we discover after the sun had disappeared
that the connections to the aft bilge pump were so corroded that they
finally dropped. This will be fixed on Friday.
The pictures from Hiva Oa and Fatu Hiva will be on the blog after we
arrive in Tahiti. The connection in Hiva Oa was good but too slow to
upload pictures.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cruising at last !

To each his own, and for many the joys of cruising come from discovering new sceneries, exotic beaches, discovering new cultures and ways of life. For me, first and foremost is meeting new people, whether on other boats at the anchorage, or residents of the places that we visit, meeting old friends, making new friends. I don't care all that much about discovering new places. Having travelled extensively throughout my life, maybe it becomes harder to surprise me in this respect.
I had been a little disappointed with Fatu Hiva and the less than warmhearted welcome. On the last day, a bunch of tourists were put ashore by a freighter/tanker/cruiseLiner that visits Fatu Hiva once a month. I saw the same kids which the day before were asking us timidly for paper and pencils, now sitting on the road side and begging and saying "gimme money, we are poor !". This made me a little sick to see what used to be such a nice unspoiled place corrupted by the moderne version of tourism.
Anyway, before leaving, I called on Qeixodic at anchor to apologize for leaving before we had a chance to get together. Ed and Lila responded by coming to Papy Jovial almost immediately, and then in the evening invited us on their boat for supper and wine, being joined by Mathias and Ulla from Chennaker, who were leaving also the same evening for Hiva Oa. I felt that at last, my favourite verson of tourism was finally happening.
The crossing to Hiva Oa, only 48 miles, was uneventful, with maybe a little bit of bad weather just before we arrived while crossing the "canal du Bordelais". We entered Atuona in the midst of a heavy rainfall, but the place is easy, well protected, even if the swell finds its way in, and we were soon anchored and secure.
There were other boats there, the nameless boat of Rex (from Oklahoma) and Ixis (from Panama), Qweemarla with Barbara (from Australia) and Paul (from Germany), Chennaker with Mathias and Ulla, and 2 other sailboats with whom we had no contacts.
Saturday being part of the week-end, we did not expect to be able to clear in, but we were able to visit the village and make an inventory of the resources there, two restaurants, 4 or 5 grocery stores or supermarket, a post office with an ATM, a bank, the city Hall, a pharmacy and several shops. We had lunch in the village before returning to the boat for a nap and a quiet evening . In fact, the evening turned out to be a beer drinking session with Chennaker providing a load of german beer.
Sunday was also quiet, we did not even go ashore, but did a few trips ashore for water. In the evening, we had a spaghetti party on Papy Jovial, with Chennaker providing a chocolate cake and Rex a nice green papaya salad.
This is my kind of cruising. Nice evening with old and new friends.
Monday, after a few water trips, we went to town to clear customs and immigration at the "Gendarmerie". I had been told that as a US citizen, I was going to have to pay a bond of an amount equal to the airfare back to my country of origin. In fact, I put in my passport an old and expired french ID card, and I did not have to pay anything. Then I went to the "Mairie" (city hall) to get a certificate certifying that I was still alive, so that my retirement could continue to be paid, then post office to mail all that stuff. We then went trough the various shops to see what was available, had a beer at the second restaurant (also a hotel), went back down to the first restaurant for lunch, then had a walk to the end of the village, came back to visit the Gauguin museum, did the shopping and took a taxi back to the boat.
In the evening, I went with Mathias and Ulla for dinner to the hotel/restaurant to have goat in coconut milk and a Pinacolada.
Today is supposed to be a quiet day, when I can update my blog, look at the weather for the coming week, take care of reconciling bank accounts and other admin chores, and again fill up with water and maybe fuel.
Tomorrow, I have booked a car with driver for the whole day so that we can visit the island extensively. I will be doing that with Barbara and Paul and hopefully I might have a few interesting photos to post on the blog.
The plan is to leave on Thursday for Papeete which is 800 miles away, probably less than a week away.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mail back to normal

We are now out of Fatu Hiva and the mail sysem seems to be working
normally. You can resume sending messages if you so wished.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Re: Mail failure

You are running a very old version of xgate. You might consider upgrading.

try tools->purge restart files.


Bernard Lefevre wrote:
> For reasons unknown to me, the reception of messages has been blocked
> for "unknown exception". Probably one message sent to me had something
> in it that caused the system to crash. I am still able to send
> messages. Please, until further notice, DO NOT SEND MESSAGES TO ME.
> This would further inflate my incoming mailbox and create more problems.
> I will let you know as soon as the system is back to normal. I should
> be able to work on it whenever I am able to get a regular internet
> connection, either in Atuona in the coming days, or in Papeete early
> september.
> Thanks in advance


Luis Soltero, Ph.D., MCS
Director of Software Development, CTO
Global Marine Networks, LLC
StarPilot, LLC
Tel: 865-379-8723
Fax: 865-681-5017

Mail failure

For reasons unknown to me, the reception of messages has been blocked
for "unknown exception". Probably one message sent to me had something
in it that caused the system to crash. I am still able to send messages.
Please, until further notice, DO NOT SEND MESSAGES TO ME. This would
further inflate my incoming mailbox and create more problems.
I will let you know as soon as the system is back to normal. I should be
able to work on it whenever I am able to get a regular internet
connection, either in Atuona in the coming days, or in Papeete early
Thanks in advance

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fati Hiva

In the end we arrived either too late or too early, at around midnight
and we chose to drift off the famous bay of Hanavave (bay of the
virgins) and make our entry in daylight for two reasons, first for
safety as the bay is only a tenth of a mile wide, and second so that
Jean-Francois could film our arrival in this world renowned anchorage.
The bay is named not after any kind of virgin, but because of huge
pillars at the entrance which look what the french call "verges", same
word used for penis. It is said that the catholic missionaries did not
like the use of that word and changed it in "vierges", i.e. virgins.
The first thing that comes to mind when approaching the bay is that
those "verges" must have been those of men with a very bad case of VD.
They are crumbling and no longer presenting straight lines. The sides of
the island are almost vertical yet they are green and the bottom lush
with many coconut trees at sea level.
There were three other boats at anchor when we arrived, but everybody
was still fast asleep.
We saw one of the skippers, Rex, from the US, rowing back to his boat
with 5 gallons pails full of water in his dinghy. We had a little chat
and learned that the local time was TU - 9:30, 1 and a half hour
difference with us.
We went through the routine of preparing the boat for time at anchor,
had a good shower, changed into the last set of fresh clothes, and rowed
ashore with our vacuum packed garbage bag, our documents (passports,
ships registration, etc...) and an empty jerryjug of water, although we
still have 130 gallons of water in the tanks.
First thing we did after pulling the dinghy on the jetty and dumping the
garbage, was to start looking for the one policeman in the village. We
found it easily, and he gave us a speech to explain that by law, we
could not stay nor go ashore, that we should be leaving at once, to make
clearance in Hiva Oa and come back, that he could not do anything about
it, before asking us to enter ourselves the name of the boat and our
names and passport numbers into his own register. Then he told us that,
due to his great understanding of the suffering sailors, he would allow
us to stay for three days, that is Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
and that we should leave on Sunday night to be in Hiva Oa by Monday
morning. And please, don't tell anybody up there that you spent anytime
at all in Fatu Hiva.
After that, we strolled through the village to try and assess what was
available. The village looks like a million other villages in tropical
third world, except that here they are financially supported by France
and can afford to do very little work, if any, and enjoy life in this
beautiful and almost desert island. We found bread, sold out of a truck
in front of the local post office, we found a small grocery store with
only canned supplies, we found a house where we got local grapefruits,
huge, sweet and delicious. We visited the house of a wood carver where I
bought a small wooden turtle, which in my world is closely associated
with the crab (the chesapeake Bay crab and the turtle island of the
brothers of the coast of the 17th century.
Then we filled up our water jerrycan and went back to the boat for lunch
and nap.
My first impression of the place is that it is hugely overstated as the
most beautiful anchorages in the world. I have seen many, all over the
world, who deserve same or better reputation. And for the village, yes
people are very friendly and relaxed, but the village is certainly not
in terms of visual aspect, on a par with the beauty of the bay.
Tomorrow, we are going to walk up the road to see the waterfall. I don't
think we will walk to the "capital" Omoa 3 miles further south on a
staight line, as it is a four hour walk to and four hours back probably
for the same scenery than here. In all likelyhood, we will then sail to
Hiva Oa on Friday night, hoping to find few things still open on
Saturday. Then on Monday we will make our official entry into french

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Last few miles

At noon, we were 60 miles from Fatu Hiva. Not much to say about that
last day. This morning, the wind veered SE as expected and I was able to
set the Genoa back to its normal way with the sheet directly to the
railing and to the winch.
Although it was a 25 hours day, we covered 153 miles over the ground and
closed on Fatu Hiva by 147 miles. Unfortunately, it means that no matter
our speed, we will arrive after dark and before midnight.
There is a rock only 12 feet high as we approach the island and this
will allow me to make a first check on the accuracy of the map in terms
of GPS coordinates. If everything is OK, we might be able to poke our
nose in slowly and if everything looks right drop the hook.
We are tired and a little excited at the prospect of arriving tonight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The mailman

Every day, there are moments more important than other. Of course, the
three meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, that we take sitting down in
the main cabin, after having dressed the table properly. Also, drinks
before dinner at 6:00 p.m., although it takes more and more creativity
to manufacture some munchies for the occasion.
But there are two very important times in the day, and that is when the
mailman delivers the mail.
The first time is at noon, after the noon fix, when I send the request
for a grib file. In that same session, we send the mail that was written
after the last session of the day before, and we receive the mail send
also after that last session. Everyday, we know that we will have at
least one message, that from Annie, Jean-Fracois's wife, with numbered
messages so that J.F. can make sure that he did not miss any. But we may
have up to 8 messages. Brothers of the coast, family, friends,
suppliers, our weather service and so on. We then have lunch and then
read the messages, sometimes print them and prepare to answer them.
After lunch, it is usually my watch, and I take the time to answer my
messages. J.F. does it when he comes up for watch at 2:00 p.m.
Then when I take my watch at 4, I do a second session to receive the
grib file. We also send the replies written since lunch. Very often, at
that time, we receive more messages which will be replied to at the noon
session the next day.
Here in the Pacific, I have noticed quite a number of holes in the
satellite coverage. I even saw on one occasion the GPS lose its
satellites. Every time this happens, I kind of worry that it might be
caused by a technical failure on the boat. But so far, the connection
comes back and all is well.
For the last 24 hours, we have been running with the same set-up,
although we started the day with 6 hours on starboard tack steering on
320, then port tack directly to Fatu Hiva on 248. That set up, with the
main at 2 then 3 reefs and the genoa with its sheet going through the
end of the boom proves to be quite effective. In 24 hours, we have
covered 150 miles, i.e. 6.25 knots average. We have closed on Fatu Hiva
by 131 miles and we only have 207 miles to go. At that speed, we will
probably be too late to get in before dark tomorrow, but too early for
daybreak on the 20th. We will probably have to drift for a while waiting
for day break.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Running with it

Now that we don't have to worry about what set up we are going to use,
it's been a quiet day. We are running with the main sail at 2 reefs and
the genoa fully deployed and the sheet running through a block at the
end of the boom. In addition, a block and tackle from the clew to the
railing to lower the clew a little bit so that the top of the sail can
fill up with wind.
Actually the main worry is whether we have enough red wine to go all the
way, and the answer is "yes we have", and how much do we have for drinks
at 6:00 p.m. abd there the choice becomes a little more limited, but we
have enough. We also have plenty of beer and enough potatoes to go all
the way. So, life is good. I don't even mention rhum, as it never
crossed my mind to allow us to run out of it.
For the day, we covered 135 nm over the ground, closed on Fatu Hiva by
123 (we are zigzaging since we can't sail with the wind right behind),
and we have 338 nm to go. We may have to slow down at the end to avoir
going in at night and time ourserves to arrive on the 20th in the morning.
Still doing good with water, the average consumption running at 3.62 per
day. As of today, we still have 132 gallons left.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A day of breakdowns

Yesterday and all night we were having great difficulties to control the
boat under gennaker, with many squalls full of wind and rain. In fact,
the bag says gennaker, but to me, it looks exactly like a spinnaker with
narrow shoulders. In the morning, I find out that the plastic
contraption that keep the tack close to the forestay by gliding up and
down the rolled up genoa has two big craks up and down below the strap
and an horizontal crack just beneath the strap. Not a major problem in
the short term, but I will have to replace that part. At 10:00, we get
the biggest rain squall of the trip so far. Lots of rain and lots of
wind. I go forward and take the spinnaker down and we stay under the
main only, still doing 5 knots. Then it kind of dies down but it is
11:30. I hoist the Yanmar sail so that we can have a quiet lunch
(grilled wild alaska salmon, spaghettis with mushroom sauce, dutch
cheese, chilean cabernet). We'll see after lunch what to do.
After lunch, we decide to go for what is a big mistake (we should know
better), which was, since the wind was very light at that point, to set
up the spinnaler the traditional way on the whisker pole. The problem is
that a whisker pole is not a spinnaker pole. It is longer and much
lighter. After no more than 10 minutes, it snapped in two parts.
So, we take everything down, secure the two half length of the pole, and
go with what we have left, which is unroll the genoa. But we would have
to go to far away from our course. So, I set up a block at the end of
the main sail boom, ran the genoa sheet through it, let the boom go as
far as the shrouds, and sail like that. No bad. Not perfect, but not
bad. We do almost 6 knots with less than 20 knots of actual wind. That
will do for the time being.
For the day, we have covered 133 nm and closed on the destination by
123. We are now 461 nm from the finish. The forecast is not terrific,
but not bad and we should still make it by August 19, 20 at the latest.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Light winds

Since last night 10:00 p.m., we are in an area of very light wind from
the stern. In fact, at 10:00, we hoisted the iron sail and kept it until
8:00 a.m. this morning when we set up the gennaker, for the first time
since I left Portsmouth.
Even that early in the day, this was a good sweat and Jean-Francois and
I, in turns, took our monthly shower (I am joking, we don't take showers
that often). Still, with 2 showers in it, we only used 5.9 gallons for
the day.
Now with the gennaker on and no change in the weather (light wind, blue
sky, long swell from the SE), it's routine.
We did cover 112 nm for the day, closed on Fatu Hiva by 104 and have 584
nm to go. But this won't be a direct route if if stays like that. With a
wind that light, we can only do 140 degrees from the wind, i.e. 40
degrees from being wind astern. Since Fatu Hiva is almost right down
wind, we will have to zigzag. For those interested, we loose at that
angle 26.6 % in speed towards the target.
Tomorrow's numbers will be interesting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mc Guyver

Like every morning, today starts quite normally at 8 o'clock with
breakfast. Jean-Claude and I look like people who are short of sleep,
but what ! this is to be expected.
After breakfast, Jean-Francois goes for his nap and I turn on the
freezer that I had stopped yesterday morning to defreeze valves and
temperature sensor. Nothing happen !
I swich everything off, restart in the proper sequence, nothing. I
fiddle with the thermostat. Nothing. Shoooot ! Looks like another
disaster looming.
I sit down and try to think of the best course of action. Move all the
frozen food to the freezer of the regrigerator. What does not fit but
would keep for a while, put it in the fridge. The rest, cook it and eat
it as soon as possible.
10:00 = Jean-Francois comes on deck. Action. We move the food and start
thinking of how to tackle the problem. Obviously, first possibility
would be a failed electric connection. To expose the freezer unit, we
have to remove all eight drawers in the galley, remove the kind of boxes
in which those drawers fit and expose the unit.
Electric meter. Check the main switch. There is electricity. Check the
connection leading to the unit. It's OK. Check the unit itself. OK. So,
it is not the power supply. My eyes wander around and I spot an orange
double cable, with a bad looking splice 2 inches away from the
domino.Why would you splice that cable so close to the domino ! and not
with a proper fitting but with electric tapes ! Anyway, this is our
luck. All we have to do is cut the both cables, clean the end, put then
in the domino, et voila ! This cable is the one going to the thermostat
which acts as a switch.
Put back the boxes, put back the drawers, move the food back in the
freezer, and we are back in business. Now, it's lunch time (pork chops
with baked beans).
As we finish lunch, the wind drops to less than 10 knots and the sails
keep flapping noisily, the rigging is shaking and we are crawling at
less than 3 knots. From 1 p.m. to 5 p,m,, we keep trying everything,
roll up the genoa, remove the third and second reef. Jibe. Jibe back.
Roll out the genoa. Roll it back. Jibe once more. Never mind, start the
engine and keep only the main.
What ! Do you think you can motor for 700 miles. No way. Stop the
engine. Now we are doing 7 knots with a squall passing by helping us.
Then he goes away and the wind drops again. Prepare the gennaker. Three
squalls are coming. Put the gennaker back in the bag. Roll out the
genny. Does not work. Pole it. Does not work. Wing to Wing. Does not
work. We end up at 6:00 p.m. going WNW with 6 knots of wind, less than
3 knots of speed, but we are moving westward. Patience.

Today, despite all that, we closed on the finish by 129 miles, we
covered 133 over the ground and we have 688 miles to go.
And tonight, I have a major celebration, which will require a few shots
of Barbancourt. As of noon today, I have sailed Papy Jovial for 10,071.8
See you tomorrow . . . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wear and tear

Another beautiful day in the sun. This time, we have definitely moved
into a new weather zone and we have blue sky, sunshine, blue water but
with a 12 foot powerful swell and a wind which has become constant at
more than 20 knots from the ESE.
As a result, we have had a good day in terms of numbers. We have covered
155 nm for the day and closed on the finish line by 148. We only have
now 817 nm to go and we stand a good chance of arriving on the 19th.
There is a price to pay. After 20 days of constant rolling and winds
regularly above 20 knots, crew and equipment are beginning to show signs
of wear and tear.
The night before last, I found on deck what was looking like the
remnants of a block, and it turned out to be the block used by the
topping lift for the whisker pole. Fortunately, the axis, 10 mm
diameter, is still there and it will probably hold until we get to
Papeete. The sheet had been mashed quite badly by the head of the pole
and I decided to switch sheets and install a "shock absorber" between
the pole and the clew, using a short piece of an old sheet.
In the chapter of minor breakdowns, the valve of one of the heads broke,
but we were able to make temporary repairs which should hold until
Papeete. The electromagnetic valve which allowed us to shut down the LPG
bottle from the galley stopped working (probably electric connection
failure) and we removed it. This implies to make a trip to the back
before and after each meal to open and then close the valve on the bottle.
The major breakdown was that of the main computer. Apprently it is a
powersupply failure, something that I cannot repair here. The
manufacturer is sending me a new computer to Papeete. Meanwhile, since I
had configured my laptop Toshiba so that it could do everything that the
main computer does, we are working with it, but this is our last round.
And I almost forgot, one of the fishing rods came loose and we only have
one available. It means that everytime that we need to change side for
the fishing rod, we have first to move the rod holder. Fortunately, we
don't fish everyday.
As for the crew, we're just plain tired of the rolling. But we are doing
just fine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The ocean

I continue to be amazed by this Pacific Ocean that does not resemble to
anything I could imagine. We were told not only of the clear sky and the
blue water, but also of the long swell with 16 seconds period, and the
leisurely ride down the trade winds.
In fact, apart from the cloud cover that I won't curse any more since I
learned from our private Weather Service that it is it that brings us
much needed wind, there are many more things that surprise me.
Sometimes, we are in an area with no more than 4 feet seas and a nice
ESE 18 knots wind. Withing minutes, it becomes choppy with 2 or 3
different systems of swell and 12 foot waves. And then again, after a
short period of time, all that disappears and we find ourselves in an
almost calm sea.
Sometimes, the sea is covered with white horses but we don't feel much
wind, and then next, the sea appears calm and we have 25 knots of wind.
There are times of course, where it is quite normal, with the sea, the
waves and the wind in sync.

Today was a good day. We covered 148 nm over the ground in spite of a
lousy start yesterday afternoon. We have closed on Fatu hiva by 145 nm
and it is now only 965 nm away. We could get there on the 19th, but the
grib files near the Marquesas don't show all that much wind, and from
behind to make matters worse. and we could very well be crawling to the
The sea temperature is now up to 82.4 and the air at 83. We are
definitely in the tropics.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Late night show

Last night, during my 8 to 10 watch, the moon had not yet risen and all
the stars were shining in their Sunday's best. Some were from the North,
some from the South, all beautiful in a clear sky for once with not one
single cloud in it. In the north, Vega, the third brilliant star in the
sky behind Sirius and Canopus, and which will be the north polar star in
about 25000 yeasrs. Vega is blue and pure. Then also, Altair from the
constallation of the Eagle, Deneb, both forming a know triangle with
Vega. Arcturus was there too.
On the south, the Scorpion occupied most of the space, leaving a little
bit to the Southern Cross. Venus, which is not a star but a planet, was
in that part of the sky, separated from the northern part by the milky way.
Unfortunately, Canopus, the most beautiful star of all because it shines
all the colours of the spectrum, can only be seen in the morning for the
time being.

Since noon yesterday, we have had quite a nice wind and the numbers
today are good. We covered 152 nm (nautical miles) over the ground,
closed on Fatu Hiva by 147 and only have 1110 remaining on a direct
line. We now have been sailing for 17 days and our water consumption
remains at around 3.5 gallons per day. We have covered altogether 2512
nm over the ground, but in terms of getting closer, we left with 3518 nm
on a direct line and have reduced that number by 2408.

This morning, our faithful cloud cover was back. I though it had gotten
lost, but not. It found us and gratified us with a 35 knots dry squall.
We registered the fastest top speed for Papy Jovial so far at 10.7
knots. This was almost immediately followed by a period of no wind or
hardly any wind (still going on as I write) and we are moving at 3.5
knots max. It's a game of patience.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The trade winds

This time, that's it. We are in the South Pacific Ocean. The sea is all
blue, the sky is almost free of clouds at times, and the wind is pushing
us at around 25 knots from the East, with a little bit of South in it.
Our faithfull clouds cover is still there, but there are more and more
holes in it, and even though it sends us from time to time a small rain
squall, we can feel that its days are numbered. We are steaming along at
6 to 6.5 knots and the Monitor is kind of rejuvenated and works happily
to keep us on course.
Yet, with all the hickups of yesterday afternoon, the day is not all
that good. We closed on the Marquesas by 128 nautical miles, we covered
137 over the ground and there are 1257 of them left to Fatu Hiva on a
direct line.
Realistically, we should be able to anchor there in the morning of
August 20. If we can keep the pedal to the metal, we might get there
during the day on the 19th.
We are really beginning to feel that the finish line is not that far away.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Great Blue

Just when I was telling Jean-Francois how much I was unimpressed by
this pacific ocean, at last, we have had a day where at times we could
not see one cloud in the sky.
Other than that, we have spent the last day battling with an
inconsistent wind to gain some north in our course so that we can sail
with both sails on the same side, It has been tough as the wind at times
was almost dying. And the result is not a very good day. We covered 129
nautrical miles over the ground but we only closed on Fatu Hiva by 119.
We now think that we might not get there before August 20. No change in
the ETA in Papeete. If need be, we will shorten our stay in the Marquesas.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Breakfast time drama !

The day begins, it is 8:00 a.m. and I am hardly awake. I get up on deck
to start the main engine which has been idle since July 25 while
Jean-Francois starts preparing breakfast. And then I hear "Gaz is
finished !". I am surprised since the last time we changed the gaz
bottle was July 20, but if there is no gaz there is no gaz, and I start
going through the routine procedure to change the gaz bottle. Removing
the supposedly empty one, I found it heavy for an empty, but if there is
no gaz, there is no gaz. So I switch to a new bottle, put everything
back together and tell Jean-Francois "OK, go ahead". Reply "No gaz !"
Then we start fiddling with everything trying to understand why this
damn gaz would not go through. We have all kinds of theory on this O
ring looking bad to this fitting not going all the way, so on . .
.Finally, light comes (late because it's early morning) and I start
suspecting the electromagnetic valve. I check the electric wires and I
don't see anything wrong. Anyway, it's breakfast time and I am not going
to play mechanic all day. I remove the electromagnetic valve, put the
hose back on the bottle, and it works. FINE ... Let's have coffee. But,
wait a minute. If that bottle did not last more than 19 days, we better
start saving as much as we can to last until Hiva Oa. So, we decide to
heat up the water with the microwave, which is not gimballed. So we use
a large container with hardly anything in it, hoping that it is not
going to run around the oven with the roll. It works, but the water is
luke warm, the coffee does not brew properly and it is a lousy coffee at
But somehow, it helped my brains to kind of wake up just a little and I
realised that if it was the electromagnetic valve that failed, it
probably means that the bottle that we replaced was not empty. So, I
switched again and it worked. So, tomorrow morning, we will be able to
enjoy the regular breakfast with a properly brewed coffee.
But that was a good hour of stress to start the day.

Other item, as planned Jean-Francois will be leaving me in Noumea. The
person with whom I was discussing the possibility that she would join me
in Papeete for an open ended duration finally decided to call it off. I
am now again looking for a crew to join me ideally in Papeete, but
certainly in Noumea.
The planned itinerary of Papy Jovial stands now like that : Papeete from
September 5 to 25. Sailing to Noumea from Sep 25 to October 25 via
Rarotonga and Tonga.
Sailing 8 to 12 days from Noumea to Whangarei on November 15. Stay in
New Zealand until Feb 1st. Sail to Sydney and stay in Sydney until March 15.
Then, it becomes less predictable as far as dates are concerned, but
sail around North Australia to Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Dampier.
Then jump across the Indian Ocean to Coco Islands, Reunion and Capetown.
Sail to Saldanha Bay then island of St Helen, Cabedelo in Brazil and
sail to France as soon as the hurricane season of summer 2010 permits.
If you read this blog and know someone who might be interested, email me
to my email address at sea if you have it. Otherwise, email
"" and the message will be forwarded to me.

Today was very much like yesterday. By the way I made a mistake
yesterday, we actually did 20 more miles than I stated.
Today we are 1504 miles from Fatu Hiva on a direct line. We covered 151
miles over the ground and closed on the destination by 133 miles.
We are still rolling heavily at times, but the weather is continuously
improving in terms of temperature and cloud cover.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Trade Winds

Still very much of the same, except that the weather has a different
feel. Our faithful cloud cover is still with us, but there are many more
holes in it. We still have squalls and rain showers, with winds up to 30
knots in it, but they are fewer. And the temperatures are definitely
rising. Today the sea is at 81 and the air at 83.
This morning we changed sails settings and course. We now have the sails
wing to wing, with 3 reefs in the main and we are running with the wind
right at the back as I want to try and approach the Marquesas from the
north. The grib files show that the wind there is quite weak for the
time being, and if that were the case when we get there, we would not be
moving very fast running.
Today was the worse day since we left Manta. We have covered 145
nautical miles over the ground, which is acceptable, but with all the
zigzags, we have closed on the Marquesas only by 118.
Fatu Hiva is now 1657 nautical miles away and we could get there on the
18 evening or the 19 morning, depending on how far north we will have to go.
The wind is steady behind us at 20 knots and we are still rolling
heavily constantly. This, however, does not disturb too much our routine
and having cooked and sit down meals twice a day.
We caught another mahi mahi yesterday, so we have fresh fish for another
three days.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Speedy Gonzalez !

During the night, a squall passed by and the wind picked up and went all
the way up to 30 knots. Papy Jovial was surfing on the swell and in one
of those surfs, reached 9.28 knots. The fastest I have reached so far
with her.
Otherwise, a day like many before. The cloud cover continues to travel
with us. The good news is that it is never hot inside the boat or in the
cockpit. The bad news is that the solar panels don't get their daily
quota. On the other hand, since we run the genset every morning for
breakfast so that we can use the toaster without taxing the batteries,
we recharge them in the meantime.

A regular day at the office goes like that:
8:00 a.m. - I get up to take my watch. Jean-Francois steps down and
starts preparing breakfast (coffee, milk butter, preserves and toasts)
after I have started the genset.
9:00 - Jean-Francois goes take a nap, or read, or just relaxes until his
watch is up at 10:00
10:00 - I step down and take a nap until about 11:00 when I start
preparation for lunch and also prepares the mail that will go out in the
first session of the day.
12:00 - I write down all the data for the noon fix, write it down on a
booklet and also records it in the electronic logbook on the computer.
Then, we have the first Iridium session of the day where I sent the mail
prepared in the morning and send a request for a grib file for the next
96 hours. In the same session, we receive emails.
12:30 - Lunch. I try to vary, but today we went through our last
tomatoes and starting tomorrow, I will have to use the can opener a lot
13:00 - Lunch is over. Jean Francois takes a nap. or else. . . . .
14:00 - I step down. Jean-Francois comes up. Time for the afternoon nap.
After that, time to prepare replies to the email received in the first
session of the day.
16:00 - After Jean-Francois and I have done the replies to emails
received, I start the second session of the day to receive the Grib
file, send the mail we have prepared and very often receive additional
18:00 - Drinks. Every day we have something to celebrate. Today, we
passed the midway point between Manta and Fatu Hiva.
19:30 - I prepare dinner. Everyday, we have two cooked and sit down
meals. We often also sit down for breakfast. Since I do all the cooking,
Jean-Francois does all the wahing the dishes, which I think is a little
unfair, as I have the best part. But I don't complain.
20:00 - We start the night watches. I do 20 to 22, JF does 22 to
midnight, then I do midnight to 2, JF 2 to 4, I 4 to 6 and then JF 6 to
8 and we start again.

Today at noon, we had covered 140 miles over the ground but 148 through
the water, which means that there is some current against us. We closed
on Fatu Hiva by 133 miles. Our ETA has fallen back a few hours now and
we expect to arrive still on the 18 but late afternoon.
At 4:00 this afternoon, we had another strike on the line and caught a
Mahi Mahi, again around 5 pounds. Perfect for a couple of meals.

We are now some 12 days from the finish line.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

R oll and roll

Stuck again ! The rolling for the last 24 hours has been the worse we
have seen so far. Since yesterday, we have made many changes to the sail
settings with not much success. This morning, the wind veered to ENE and
we had to go running with the sails wing to wing and 2 reefs. This did
not held more than an hour after which the wind backed again to its old
ESE. So we put the sails back to same side on the port tack, but then
the wind increased and the Monitor complained. So, we took a third reef
again and then the wind dropped almost completely and we had to steer
for a few hours to creep forward at less than 3 knots. Then, around 4
p.m., it came back to its usual 15 to 18 knots and we are back to normal.
But the results for the day are not very good. We progressed 137 miles
over the ground but closed in by only 129, which puts us at 1908 miles
to go for Fatu Hiva.
We are back to normal, but for how long . . . .
The temperature continues to rise. The air is at 83 and the sea at 79.3
and the cloud cover is still with us. Actually, I think that it is a
plot and that someone has arranged for us to keep our own private cloud
cover that travels with us.
Maybe tomorrow. . . .

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rock and roll

We are moving again, as I expected to. In the last 24 hours we have
covered 149 miles over the ground and closed on our destination by 147
miles. But we have to pay that by a continuous and heavy rolling that
does not facilitate the work of the cook and of the crew when it is time
to reset the sails.
At noon (TU-7), we have 2037 miles to go to Fatu Hiva. This makes
cocktails time the right occasion to celebrate 2000 miles to go.
So far we have consumed a total of 33.6 gallons of water.
Fresh supplies have dwindled down to four tomatoes. On the non green
stuff but not canned. we still have potatoes, onions and carrots. Won't
last for ever though . . . .
Our ETA remains the same as mid day on August 18 in Fatu Hiva.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back on track !

We probably lost a couple of hours during those last 24 hours as the
weather conditions are really difficult to cope with. We are almost
running, and the windvane does not like particularly that. But after
some adjustments, we finally got it right and it is working well now.
With the help of higher authorities, we also managed to make use of the
whisker pole for the genoa. Not ideal, as this genoa requires the clew
to be pushed down otherwise it spills all the air upward, but it is
better than nothing. We are again going at an average of 6 knots, and in
the right direction.
Our ETA has not changed. For those who have not managed to follow us on
the Purple finder map, at noon we were by 6 degrees 12 minutes South and
102 degrees 17 minutes West. We had 2181 miles to go to Fatu Hiva.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bad neighborhood

Last night shortly before midnight, we entered an area which feels like
a bad neighborhood. Bunch of rain showers roam around us, sometimes to
hit us with strong gusts of wind, sometimes over the 25 knots, so much
that I had to drop the main sail, to reduce the stress on the boat and
keep the Monitor happy. Sometimes, especially since this morning, they
pass us at great speed and rob us of whatever wind we had but leaving us
with the swell and the flapping sails. We keep fighting to maintain a
reasonable speed, adjusting the sails and the course, but I don't think
that comes noon tomorrow we will clock a record distance.
Today at noon, we have covered 158 miles over the ground (but it was a
25 hours day as we set the local time at TU-7) and we have closed on our
destination by 155. We have 2313 miles left for Fatu Hiva where we still
expect to arrive on August 18 around noon and to arrive in Papeete on
September 5.
So far, our total water consumption stands at 26.2 gallons, i.e. 3.2
gallons per day.
There are two things that surprise me in this Pacific ocean. The first
one is that we have not seen any sea life except for scores of flying
fishes (some land on deck) and a few sea birds. We saw three whales on
the morning of our departure, at some distance from us, but since then,
The second is that I have not seen any piece of trash at all. On the
Atlantic, I used to see at least one piece of trash per watch, that is
almost every three hours. Here, nothing at all, the ocean is clean. I
know about the huge island of trash in the north Pacific, but here, so
far, it's very clean.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The shaker

We had been told that the best run that Papy Jovial born Precept had
done was 165 miles. So, we felt challenged and this morning, I tried
again to set up the spinnaker boom in a different way. All I achieved
was waste time. The genoa is definitely too small for that boom, or the
boom is definitely too long for that genoa, but whatever, it creates too
much compression on the boom and I am afraid that in a big roll it would
snap. So we went back to the genoa having the sheet all the way back, to
try and open it as much as possible, and a block and tackle near the
shrouds, to pull the clew down. With these weather conditons, it appears
to be the best we can do. We also have the main down to 3 reefs, but if
we were to go up to 2 then the monitor finds it too difficult to hold
the course.
At noon, we had covered 161 miles over the ground and had closed on the
destination by 155.
All night and morning, we had over 20 knots of wind with a long and big
swell from the SE, which causes us to roll heavily continuously.This is
life in the shaker. Another 17 days and we will be rolling gently at anchor.
At noon, rainshowers began to appear all around us and whenever one gets
too close, it takes the wind away and we slow down to 4 knots with still
heavy rolling.
No more fishing for the time being. We still have to eat what we caught.

The shaker

We had been told that the best run that Papy Jovial born Precept had
done was 165 miles. So, we felt challenged and this morning, I tried
again to set up the spinnaker boom in a different way. All I achieved
was waste time. The genoa is definitely too small for that boom, or the
boom is definitely too long for that genoa, but whatever, it creates too
much compression on the boom and I am afraid that in a big roll it would
snap. So we went back to the genoa having the sheet all the way back, to
try and open it as much as possible, and a block and tackle near the
shrouds, to pull the clew down. With these weather conditons, it appears
to be the best we can do. We also have the main down to 3 reefs, but if
we were to go up to 2 then the monitor finds it too difficult to hold
the course.
At noon, we had covered 161 miles over the ground and had closed on the
destination by 155.
All night and morning, we had over 20 knots of wind with a long and big
swell from the SE, which causes us to roll heavily continuously.This is
life in the shaker. Another 17 days and we will be rolling gently at anchor.
At noon, rainshowers began to appear all around us and whenever one gets
too close, it takes the wind away and we slow down to 4 knots with still
heavy rolling.
No more fishing for the time being. We still have to eat what we caught.