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S/V Nereida sails around the world

The good news is that I now have propane flowing into my cooker - so coffees, teas and cooking are all possible now that I've replaced the gas regulator - what a lot of time, walking & effort over six days that has involved! Had to ask for help from kind people at the marina twice - once for male muscle-power (!!) to undo a gas-pipe connection and once for a second pair of hands to push two bits close to each other while I screwed them together (I needed four hands for that job - impossible!).
The engine oil-change problem turned into another time-consuming job - removing surplus fresh oil from the engine (as well as cleaning up lots of spilt oil from under the engine)..... It turned out that only some of the oil I'd just put in had spurted out from the loose oil-filter thread, so when I put more oil in (the dipstick had shown the level well below minimum) I actually put in way too much! Two-and-a half litres too much, in fact, as I discovered after finally figuring out pipework/pump connections to remove it... (That great little 12V in-line pump again...!)
I gave up trying to leave on Wednesday, being busy well after noon, with the bonus of finding that I was in a relatively safe marina berth while a nasty frontal weather system passed over, giving heavy rain & strong winds. There was also a big southerly swell & I could see the breakers crashing onto the reef near the pass I had intended leaving by. I also gained the company of two other cruising boats: 'Far Niente' & 'Southern Star' berthed close by & we ended up socializing during the evening - a pleasant change from my jobs!
So I finally left Tahiti for Moorea at noon on Thursday - 3 days later than intended. Straight into 25-30 knot headwinds down the channel leading to Papeete Pass! Only the thought that once outside my course to Moorea would put the wind abaft the beam stopped me from heading back to the marina, as I hurriedly put 3 reefs in the mains'l waiting to be raised...! In the event, the winds reduced somewhat as I got further out & I had a lovely/lively sail over.... very enjoyable.
What dramatic scenery Moorea has - high, steep-sided, jagged mountains - clearly of volcanic origin - covered in greenery. I dropped anchor near the head of Opunohu Bay - & was promptly invited over to the only other boat nearby for a sundowner. The next morning, I moved anchorage to be close to the outer reef, not far from the pass, to be able to enjoy some snorkelling ....and also to be within range of Wi-Fi internet access! Again, I was invited over to a nearby boat for the evening... and people think single-handers are lonely...?!!
Unfortunately, I'm now having a problem with my 12V circuit - it keeps blowing when I connect my laptop to the outlet at the chart table and also when I connected in at the cockpit with a different plug.... more investigation needed.. the 12V circuit wiring has also been suspect since San Diego - may need 'beefing up' to be able to take the load.
Saturday morning, I shall sail to Bora Bora - an overnight passage of about 135 mls - just over a day away.

P.S. I'm now nearer to New Zealand than to Hawaii... & Sydney is closer than San Diego!!

 
'Le Truck' - local bus from Taina to Papeete.  
Originally uploaded by svNereida.

I'm in chaos here - major problems sorting out propane system (no cooking possible still) and changed engine oil, but unfortunately didn't tighten filter enough so most of new oil spewed out on starting engine - had to buy more oil & screw on the filter again, so tomorrow's job list includes cleaning oil from under the engine (yet again!!) & topping up and starting the engine - with fingers crossed I get it right this time...!

I had a 100% motoring passage over two nights from Tiputa, Rangiroa to Tahiti - but just as I entered Passe de Papeete soon after sunrise, having paused for a couple of fast ferries from Moorea to go in ahead of me, the engine stopped (I'd run out of fuel.... didn't keep eye on tank level, thinking I had plenty, so hadn't switched tanks....grrr!!) Had to unfurl the genoa in a hurry (having not long dropped the mains'l), with only 4 knots of wind (almost ahead!), & prepare the anchor.. I just managed to sail out of trouble into the West Basin (a bit too close to breaking surf on reef & breakwater for comfort!) where I dropped the anchor & then had to bleed the engine. (Glad I had a tiny 12V pump I could place in fuel line to help things along - thanks yet again, Alan!)

One & half hrs later I had the motor running & I made my way through the well-marked channel inside the shallow fringing reef around from Papeete to Taina. There's a big supermarket within walking distance, friendly, helpful marina & fuel dock staff & a local bus - 'Le Truck' - into Papeete town (130fr), a good 20 minutes drive away.

I've got to know the industrial area in Papeete (port area) very well, having spent most of Friday and Saturday walking around there, not to speak of today, chasing around unsuccessfully for propane, dinghy & watermaker parts & plumbing connections. I was lucky to discover a good refrigeration guy here in the marina area who has sorted out my fridge problem (insofaras he can - the system is not really suited to the tropics). The French Polynesian Wi-Fi system is run by Mathieu here in the marina - he has been very kind & helpful & I've made good use of my Internet access on board 'Nereida' (such as in posting this with a photo!). I also had to visit Customs & Immigration, who are on the seafront near the Tourist Office where the bus finishes not far from the market - finishing with paperwork took 4 visits (It would have helped if they had posted a notice pointing to the very closed door at the side for entrance & given some idea of their opening hours.)

I'm hoping to sort out the propane regulator tomorrow (the present one leaks badly). The only possible replacement one on offer is twice the size of the present one so may not fit into the space, but I did find the brass connections needed to adapt it to use in my system. Tahiti Gaz also said they couldn't fill one of my 3 gas bottles - a valve was faulty & they can't replace it - Cairns, perhaps??

With any luck, I'll be able to leave for Moorea on Wednesday... In the meantime, the view I have from the boat is of Moorea & its jagged mountaintops across the reef from here & each day I have a dip in crystal clear water.... I'm constantly reminded of the definition of cruising as "dealing with boat problems in exotic places"...!!

What wonderful snorkelling here! Nereida anchored in turquoise blue water (over white sand) with her own pair of fish that stick to sharks etc (have sucker pad on top of head) that took up residence - to clean 'Nereida' or were they just hoping for scraps?? The reef nearby inside Timatu Pass, called 'The Aquarium' for obvious reasons, is full of beautifully coloured coral. The locals take people there and then feed the fish with bread and large fishheads - attracting hundreds of fish of all shapes and sizes in so doing - also black-tipped reef sharks! I counted four really big ones and a tiny baby one on Tuesday - they stayed near the sea bottom but I kept a wary eye on them to make sure they didn't get too close to me!!! A bit later I saw a big leopard moray (had leopard-like markings all over large grey/brown body), having already spotted an enormous plain grey one on Monday - it was very aggressive and definitely followed me for a bit! And always there is such a variety of fish of all kinds, often in shoals, many I've not seen before. Snorkelling has become a 'must' every afternoon, in company, usually, with 'Can Kata' and 'Dreamweaver'.

One day, I dinghied over to the resort hotel dock nearby & had a very nice seafood salad in company with a French couple. Another day, I visited Avarotu, the other 'town' 5mls WNW of this anchorage. It didn't take long to wander around everywhere, watch some volleyball, get a few tomatoes (& some Polynesian francs at 80 to the US dollar) & have lunch (chicken&chips for me, providing a drumstick for the next day's lunch on passage!). Had to avoid lots of hazardous connected lines of pots on the way (black pearls are a major 'industry' here).

One job I got done was to give the cockpit sole a thorough cleaning - it needed attention badly since the cockpit drains were thoroughly blocked. I also found a ballpoint pen, plenty of fluff etc and lots of almonds my guests had obviously dropped the other night when they came for sundowners!!

One of the screws on my starboard genoa car seems to be coming loose, yet I can't tighten it.. Another outstanding job (for the calm water of Tahiti) is to go up the mast for tricolour bulb replacement. That's in addition to propane bits & pieces - & refilling propane gas cylinders, hopefully.

On Wednesday evening I left as planned and safely took the close-to-shore short-cut to Tiputa Pass (min depth 6m for a very short time!). My main slight worry after leaving and coming around on the outside of the atoll was seeing an enormous dark grey cloud well ahead in the fading light - clearly a big, rainsquall.. but it stayed out of my way!

I'm glad to say that both Nobeltec on my laptop and the Navionics chips used in the Raymarine chartplotter are using very up-to-date French charts - they both seem spot on in GPS positioning -quite a relief on an overnight passage skirting this big atoll in pitch darkness. (The Nobeltec software is so much easier to use for routeing than the chart-plotter). I have radar on also, of course, and there's actually a small lighthouse flashing clearly on the NW corner that I have to round. I'm motoring & expect very light winds for most of this passage, according to my weather info.

I expect to reach Papeete, on Tahiti Nui, early morning on Friday 11th May... at present, I'm motoring in a glassy calm sea!

I'm now on a 4-5 day passage from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus (Rangiroa atoll), having had an absolutely brilliant sail so far, since leaving Nuku Hiva yesterday. Perfect trade-wind weather, although with accompanying swell!! I'm also slowly recovering from the bad cold I picked up after landfall, so today has been very enjoyable.

I enjoyed my quick tour of the Marquesas - scenery was frequently spectacular and always superb! It was nice to relax & meet with people, although it was lengthy, hard work re-fuelling via jerry cans, with a trip to fill them up at a high concrete fuel dock in big swell. Fortunately, I had help with that - I could never have managed to get two, full, 20l jerry cans down into the dinghy otherwise..

I'm also feeling really good just now because I'm hoping I may have sorted out my ongoing radio problem. I found a loose/very slightly corroded ground connection - so I'm finally making radio connections for emails & weather- & being heard far better over the radio.

If this arrives OK, you'll know that my radio is definitely better!

"I'm certainly not having a solitary life... quite the opposite! While anchored Thursday 26th in Hakahetau Bay, Ua Pou, I was invited over to "Magnum" for a drink & meal by Uwe (who rowed over to collect me!) and Anne (& little daughter Kara) with crew Maxim (who rowed me back!) and Nicky - a very pleasant evening..! Then on arrival in Nuku Hiva on Friday, Norwegian Trond and wife Leslie on "Coconuts" came by with children Camilla and Colin. Saturday morning, Steve & Susan from "Surprise" came by
to invite me for a meal on Sunday evening... and later that day, Greg ("Seven Thunders") invited me out with "Magnum" for a meal on the terrace at the local 'posh' resort hotel high up overlooking the bay that evening. My social diary gets very full!!

Today (Sunday) was spent onboard using the Wi-Fi Internet access here, catching up with emails and updates to my website - time-consuming... I did also find time to look at the back connections to my SSB radio - found a rather loose connection and cleaned up the very slightly corroded metal parts... hoping it might help resolve my problem. I still need to take some woodwork to bits to access more connections from my radio to the ATU (tomorrow first thing!) to see if they are good or need attention
also. Perhaps then I'll try to connect in to Sailmail/Winlink to see if I can connect any better than before. If there's no improvement, that means it's almost certainly an internal radio problem - and Papeete in Tahiti may possibly have someone familiar with dealing with Icom radio problems. If radio transmission doesn't improve, I'll have to wait until Cairns, Australia, in July to (hopefully) get it dealt with ...& suffer communication problems in the meantime. Fortunately, having InmarsatC
(reliable satellite system) and Iridium, means I'm not totally out of touch despite radio problems. And even my English cellphone works here close to the islands!

I still have several other jobs outstanding, but having a bad sore throat and cold (which explains my feeling so very tired on Friday when I got here) have made me disinclined to over-exert myself this weekend. Manana!!"

Arrived Hakahetau Bay, Ua Pou island, at 9 am this morning after a good overnight sail from Hiva Oa where I  had checked in with the local 'gendarme' with little fuss, since I'm an EC citizen.  Unlike Canadian/US friends who had to pay a large amount for a 'bond' and spend two days using an agent before they had finished clearing in to French Polynesia - big hassle for them!

I'm anchored in a wide open bay, looking at green mountainsides, rather rolly due to swell with surf breaking on black rocks nearby & a steep black beach behind which is a tiny village with a red-roofed church spire peeking through the trees lining the beach.

High volcanic 'spires' and mountain tops tower over all - reaching up into perpetual dark grey clouds, although it's sunny out here in the bay!! 

A beautiful place. But very difficult to land a dinghy safely, so it's on early to Nuku Hiva tomorrow, just 24mls away - fuel, shops & maybe Internet!!  And a place to do some more boat jobs.... look at that SSB radio again, hopefully...

It's always nice to have friends helping in difficult situations - & few cruisers enjoy anchoring bow & stern - especially true of me as a singlehander in a crowded anchorage - so it was great to have help both after entering (from 'Jade') & on leaving (from 'Wyntersea').
Atuona, the nearby village where I checked in was accessed by dinghying in to the nearby dock and then hitching a 10 minute lift, both there and back, from one of the passing locals who invariably were happy to give a lift (no buses around here!) & chat on the way (good French practice).
It's fame lies with Paul Gauguin, who lived the last few years of his life here, and Jacques Brel, a well-known Belgian singer, who similarly settled here & died early, after illness. Both of their remains lie in the cemetery high above the village, with great views over to seaward.
There is a museum dedicated to Gauguin in a beautiful building constructed in local fashion of wood, plaited palm leaves & thatching - very cool and full of copies of his paintings, giving a good overview of his life and artistic development. Nearby is a replica of the house he had built in the village and where he ended his days.
Espace Jaques Brel houses the small aeroplane he introduced to bring medical/dental and other help to Hiva Oa from Tahiti (in the 1950's) in the days when all French aid seem to go solely to that island, and the other islands were largely ignored. It also gives an overview of the songwriter's life, with his songs played in the background - an excellent test of my very rusty French since nothing was in English! His was the era of Gilbert Becaud, etc.
The whole area is green and full of flowering trees & bushes, with high peaks as a backdrop. The President of French Polynesia was visiting the Cultural Centre the day I was there - lots of food was being prepared & 3 piglets were about to be spit-roasted in his honour... I was interested to see the men's tattoos - commonly as decoration around their neck & shoulders (just as women might wear a broad, intricate, bead necklace), as well as on their faces, arms and torso. Most of the women daily
wear a fresh flower on their ear & I've also seen many wearing a headband of woven flowers, again as an everyday adornment.
I enjoyed my first fresh French baguette, straight out of the village baker's oven, and wandered around the local store - everything is ridiculously expensive, so I was pleased not to need much, mainly looking for fresh tomatoes etc.
In the anchorage, as elsewhere since arriving in the Marquesas, I was struck by the large number of European boats (many from the Panama Canal via the Galapagos Islands) and the small number of the U.S. boats I'd become used to seeing.
I dinghied to shore with some empty jerry cans to get a little diesel from the nearby fuel station, ready for leaving for Ua Pou, making good use of my fold-up 'cart' on the return journey to the dock... the first of many such refuellings in the Pacific, I'm thinking!

Around midday (local time) on Thursday 19th April, "Nereida" finally came to rest in spectacular Hanavave Bay on the island of Fatu Hiva, in the Marquesas - the scenery was truly awesome with enormously high sharp mountain peaks (edges of 3 craters) very close and the land dropping almost vertically down to the small village at the head of the bay. The hillside close by has many coconut palms and is very green. Occasionally, I hear goats calling and beautiful birdsong, in between the sound of the surf breaking onto the rocks edging the bay. The rocks are volcanic black and there is a perpetual dark grey cloud sweeping towards the bay from the mountains - with frequent heavy showers as a result!

I had a really good sleep for a few hours and then found a local outrigger canoe nearby with a woman who was offering a local meal that evening to the boats in the bay (there were about 8, mainly European arrived from Panama/Galapagos).  I thought that sounded like an excellent way to celebrate my landfall so accepted - but none of the others were interested so, in the event, it didn't happen, but  it enabled me to be taken ashore without inflating my dinghy!! She (Andrea) then proceeded to take me on a tour of the village, very green & full of  fruit trees with just one shop where I was able to change US dollars into French Polynesian francs - BIG coins and paper money just like the old French before Euros.  80francs to 1 US dollar and everything very expensive as well means that whatever you buy, the amount is very large!

Friday 20th:  Decided to stay and relax in these dramatic surroundings.  But I also had to fix the windlass - it would not drop ground tackle when free-running under gravity due to salt crystals and corrosion.  Making use of water, and the  judicious use of a hammer, I gave it a good clean & service - it's running freely now.

Saturday 21st: Problem with gas solenoid cut-off switch for propane from gas tanks - could not cook!  I went to make a mug of tea to reward myself after cleaning and tidying up after the passage - no gas.  I had to remove the solenoid completely - there was a lot of water inside it so it's hardly surprising it gave up! I've no spare but at least I can cook now.

Did a few other minor jobs - a workday in (very rainy) Paradise!

That evening, a fisherman came by the boat .  I exchanged tuna (I made ceviche) + four enormous grapefruit for a small bottle of whisky!

Sunday 22nd: Had a lovely 45 NM beam reach to Atuona on Hiva Oa (Paul Gaugin's village). Celebratory evening with 'Jade' & 'Wyntersea' - first time we'd met up since Manzanillo in Mexico!

Please bear with me, updates may be sporadic until communication issues resolved!

Despite many attempts to connect & send or receive emails by radio - no joy...  Very occasionally, I'd get Sailmail (not Winlink) 'connection' - painfully slow due to poor signal strength. If connected, downloads are impressively fast! Only one station I find I can connect with - at San Luis Obispo.

Came up with 'ploy' to get Winlink position report uploaded via friendly PMBO (Winlink Station) - I'm hoping that's working OK. Uses satellite email (Inmarsat-C) which costs, so messages kept short & abbreviated!

Both days have been very pleasant, with Nereida sailing at quite good speed (5 - 6 knots) under blue skies with little clouds, mainly on beam reach in E winds, occasionally close-hauled when wind veered ESE.  Grey clouds disappeared, although I saw some lightning in clouds on the far W horizon on Tuesday evening around sunset - luckily, they kept well away!

The Equatorial current has kept up: 0.3-1.0 kn. Lovely to have such a consistent 'push' for such a long time!

Still have fresh fruit & vegetables - & a grapefruit I'm keeping for celebrating when I make landfall in Hanavave Bay on Fatu Hiva - Thursday a.m. in daylight, if I keep up my present speed.

Tues 1800GMT: 06 36'S, 136 11'W. 108mls by log (133ml actual). Distance to go to Fatu Hiva: 268ml.

Wed 1800GMT: 08 32'S, 137 26'W. 116mls run by log (138ml actual). Dist to go to Fatu Hiva:130ml.

Sunday
A day of no wind, or too much wind, rain, big grey clouds, squalls, blue skies ... a real mix! Kept me busy! And often wet! Wind was all over the place - but always in the 'East quadrant' I even poled out the genoa in light winds this morning, only to find we were, by the time I'd finished, on a beam reach... grrr!!!
After sunset, we finally escaped from the belt of bad weather & have been sailing closehauled, beautifully fast, ever since.

Been busy finalizing my passage plan to & beyond Australia in detail - weather permitting!

1800GMT position: 02deg 50'S, 133deg 32'W Just 88mls run by log (actually 113ml over the ground) - too little wind! Distance to go to Fatu Hiva: 544ml.

Monday
More grey clouds, rain & strong winds. Had a fast, close-hauled ride overnight, with reefed main, putting in a 2nd reef during this morning when winds went up to around 25kn & gusting - we've been making excellent speed! And that lovely Equatorial current is still doing its bit, helping us along often by over 1.5 kn!
Now (3.35pm PDT), the wind has backed to the NE & we're running goose-winged under white clouds. So much for the 'SE Trades'!!
And now (6.20pm PDT) - pole has had to be taken down - wind veered to E and we're on a beam reach.... it's all go!!

1800GMT position: 04deg 47'S, 135deg 08'W Just 114mls run by log (actually 143ml over the ground). Distance to go to Fatu Hiva: 400ml. (ETA Thursday?)

I thought wind was becoming more consistent, it being very light this morning when we started sailing again, an hour after sunrise, then gradually filling in so that by mid-afternoon we were beam-reaching at around 4-4.5 knots, with the current helping again, ending up doing ~5.5kn over the ground. But later on it went E-ENE (abaft the beam) 8-10 knots - so this evening we've been struggling to make 3kn boatspeed, ~4knots SOG. The SE swell is not too bad so life on board is generally very pleasant, except when we've little boatspeed and then we get knocked about by the swell which is on the beam (our course is 215T) and the sails flap like mad.

Sailing along at these slow speeds is certainly conducive to a relaxed mental attitude: nothing you can do about it - shrug your shoulders and just wait for the wind to increase - if it will! "We're going in the right direction - we'll get there when we get there," is the kind of comment heard on the radio from one boat to another!!

Beautifully clear, starry night sky - Milky Way so very clear and the occasional shooting star.

I'm spending way too much time, morning & afternoon, trying to connect to Winlink/Sailmail - think I'll have to cut down on my efforts and make a big connection effort every two days instead! I've had no proper connection to Winlink since 6th April - I presume my radio transmit problem is at least partly to blame.

1800 GMT position: 01deg 18'S, 132deg 25'W . 24hr distance run by log: 96 n.ml.!! (110 ml over the ground) Distance to Fatu Hiva anchorage: 667 n.ml.

"Nereida" crossed into the S hemisphere today - HOT sun, calm sea, clear sky... & hardly a breath of wind - the Doldrums! So motor plus sails most of the day... couldn't even drift over the equator around 1.30pm PST - too light a wind from 'abaft the beam'.
A lovely, relaxing day to remember - I had a refreshing, long shower on deck & we had a little 'party' lunch/tea - and, yes, even Neptune/Poseidon had his share of 'champers' - as a true nereid, we could not but take care of him...!
Eventually turned off the motor as 11kn of NE wind came up after midnight - but have now (Sat 0530 PST) had to turn it on again .... boat doing well under 2kn!.. Oh well, back to sleep for an hour or so... At least current is fair again just now!

Friday 1800 GMT position: 00deg 15'N; 131deg 27'W . 24hr distance run by log: 92 n.ml.!! (Actually only 83 ml over ground - unhelpful Equatorial current at times.)

Wednesday
Excellent sailing overnight - sometimes we go so smoothly through the water, there's almost no noise to be heard down below & it feels as though we've stopped moving - but in fact we're moving fast - 'creaming' through the water, beautifully balanced. "Nereida" had 'found her groove', as they say....! Increasingly less wind as the day wore on - the good side to that was the lessening seas.
Great excitement at noon when I heard blowing noises from astern - a WHALE!! I managed to get a couple of photos but at that time we were moving so slowly (about 3.5 kn) that it cruised by us & on in a short time, coming up just occasionally to breathe.
More passage planning over the calm afternoon, continually sidetracked with looking at the wind direction - firmly staying NE... but getting lighter & lighter. With a good current helping our speed over the ground, I was trying hard not to start the motor, but by the time the boatspeed was consistently down around 1-2 knots, I reckoned it was either time to 'kill the horses' ... or to start the 'iron horse'.....
Unfortunately, the iron horse didn't want to know, initially - not a peep... so it was down to the engine compartment, long screwdriver in hand yet again (doesn't this all sound so very familiar...???). It took a bit of effort to get the starter motor to turn the engine, but finally it came to life, just as I was beginning to think I'd have to find my spare starter motor to replace it.
Arrival at the Equator is difficult to judge - sometime Friday, hopefully! We're moving gently through the calm sea, still with the fair Equatorial current helping us along - so nice not to have a foul current for once!!

Wednesday 1800 GMT position: 02deg 55'N; 129deg 28'W . 24hr distance run by log: 105 n.ml. (Actually 126 ml over ground - that lovely Equatorial current...)

Thursday
Sailing slower & slower. Got into SE trades, finally, just before sunrise... but they're very light: ~10-12kn. I turned off the motor, pulled in the sails & set the Windpilot - the wind is almost 'dead on the nose' & we're not quite making our preferred course.
1600 PDT Well, it's always nice to lose the engine noise, but I may soon have to start it up again - we're presently only making ~2 knots through the water and the same over the ground (no more 'push' from the current).... getting a bit too slow - wind is down to 7knots (SE3). I'll have a mug of tea in peace & quiet & consider my options...!

Thursday 1800 GMT position: 01deg 23'N; 130deg 37'W . 24hr distance run by log: 95 n.ml.!! (Actually 115 ml over ground - helpful Equatorial current still...)

PS No Winlink connection since 6th April - lots of position reports now waiting to be uploaded...

Monday

Very disturbed night Sunday night - worrying about possible squalls coming our way, so constantly up on deck in the rain to check sails & wind direction. Way under-powered and going slowly as a result but I wasn't inclined to let reefs out overnight - in pitch blackness with overcast skies and no moon in sight...
However, come morning, it was a different story. I'd been considering when I should change direction to head south through the ITCZ to cross it as fast as possible but trying to balance that against keeping the best possible wind for as long as would be of benefit. The grib files (showing weather) downloaded via Sailmail seemed to indicate now might be a good time, so when I heard a nearby boat 'Lorna' report in to the morning radio net that they had just crossed over in only 60mls & were now under blue skies in SE winds - that decided me! Out came all reefs & we changed course to head almost due south most of the day - occasionally altering slightly to try to avoid heavy rain dead ahead. Wind was excellent at around NE 15-20knots so we made good speed under full sail with the wind reducing over the afternoon. Unfortunately, heading south meant losing the advantageous current - we lost easily a knot at one point.
Swell has continued to be pretty bad - big, & rather confused because of a weather system off to the SW. Only one small squall in the early afternoon - wind backed into the NW suddenly and then slowly veered into the NNE, staying there for quite some time.
Although I saw patches of blue sky ahead at times this afternoon, by night time, there was total overcast. All the nicer a surprise when I came up on deck later, after checking in to the Pacific Seafarers Net at 7.35pm PST (local time), to find STARS visible overhead - maybe we're through...?? It certainly feels a lot calmer but wind is still very definitely in the NE.
One amusing incident - went to open main hatch in the rainy darkness last night - it just wouldn't budge more than a centimetre, however much I tried- I was trapped down below...! Was just about to remove screws holding washboard lock when it suddenly dawned on me that there was nothing to stop me from climbing out of the aft cabin hatch!! Turned out to be some rope jammed in the way of the main hatch moving - an easy fix... - I had to laugh...

Monday 1800 GMT position: 06deg 19'N; 127deg 23'W . 24hr distance run by log: 114 n.ml. (actually 108 ml over ground - some opposing current part of the time) Good speed during morning made up for very slow night.

Tuesday

Couldn't make Sailmail connection last night or this morning (nor Winlink, for several days again, so no Position Reports posted...) so a combined 2-day log...

As indicated by clear skies last night - we're out of the ITCZ. Had a beautiful morning of tradewind sailing - admittedly in NE still (in fact, several times went NNE!) - so went to the effort of poling out the genoa yet again, to port this time, and we were sailing along nicely for all of 5hrs until wind veered sufficiently for me to have to take pole down again and take the genoa over to starboard - no longer able to be goosewinged. Reason was probably the rainclouds around - we somehow managed to avoid getting wet. I'm still waiting for the wind to shift gradually into the east - the direction of the SE trades at this moment in time. Light winds are predicted for several days (around only 10knots) so we shan't be moving very fast - but at least we're on our rhumbline course now... ETA next Thursday morning possibly.

Spent more time reading up on destinations and looking at possible courses - there are several long passages between island groups to be taken into consideration for passage planning to Australia by mid-July.

On the food side, I still have plenty of fresh apples/oranges/tomatoes/cucumbers/cabbage etc, although had to throw a lot of cabbage overboard - storing in plastic is definitely NOT to be recommended!! The one left out in the open is fine. Had my last quesadillas today for lunch - no more tortillas,...pity!! But lots of cheese left. I must try to find a recipe for tortillas - they look as though they should be really simple to make. I may make some bread in a day or so - it rises so easily in 30C ambient temp.

6pm PDT: Will try to connect in to see if I can send this, before eating. Lovely blue sky ahead, dark grey rainclouds off to starboard...!

Tuesday 1800 GMT position: 04deg 35'N; 128deg 11'W . 24hr distance run by log: 121 n.ml. (actually 114 ml over ground - current partly with & partly against. Presently fair.)

Earlier today, I was ambling along nicely in the sun, hoping my planning of ITCZ avoidance/minimizing would continue to work out as it has for the last two days... I even thought of putting up the 'chute.
My radio problems are still there, unfortunately - other boats have problems hearing me. I'm only managing a Sailmail connection with San Luis Obispo (N. of Pt. Conception) - occasionally with Panama. The only Winlink station I can ever connect in with is near Austin, Texas - but from the map, that's not so far as the 'crow flies'...! And that only happens around sunrise/sunset times.... Oh, well...!

Well, I'm now well & truly into the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone: where the Northern hemisphere NE Trades meet the Southern hemisphere SE Trades, often forming the Doldrums - NO wind) .... Light grey overcast started at 2pm PDT, by 4pm it was really humid, with dark grey clouds in sight to S and by 5pm we'd been hit by a sudden SE squall. I had to reef hurriedly and gybe the main (which had backed & was being held by the preventer ...) It's still raining but not so hard & the wind is ESE - E - ENE (varying somewhat but definitely not NE) -so I've changed course slightly to stay on port tack - if we get another squall, at least that will be OK!
In true British tradition, I'm having a mug of tea while I consider whether to let out a reef or not!
Of course, for the second time this passage, I got my shower with all that rain but not in the way I'd intended..!! And a full mug of coffee came shooting across towards the chart table where I was sitting later when we got bashed by a bit of swell - that took some time to clear up.....

Hope you all have a good Easter holiday!

1800 GMT position: 07deg 14' N; 125deg 10' W . 24hr distance run by log: 121 n.ml. (actually 130 ml over ground - still some useful current effect)

The good news is that I'm definitely over halfway - ETA in the Marquesas is 11 days' time, hopefully! Cause for celebration....

Each night, Venus is really bright in the west after sun sets - close to the Pleiades and not far from Taurus. Southern Cross is quite high above horizon now. Milky Way was very clear before moon rose later - moon is waning now, so rising later each night. Gets VERY dark before moonrise, especially if any cloud around..!

Laundry day today - doesn't take any time at all in 30C for things to dry on lifelines! Mainly needed to wash salt out of towels I'm sitting on - easy to get 'salt sores' otherwise.

Quite a lot of cloud today and swell has built up also (with constant wind direction).

Still getting a welcome 'push' from the Equatorial current, although not as strong as it was: boatspeed ~5-5.5 knots, SOG ~5.5-6kn, windspeed ~14kn (NE4). (Thought we were losing good current at one point earlier this afternoon - but still doing well.)

The morning radio 'Net' that 'Jade' organized is increasing in boat numbers as time goes on - 2 more boats joined in this morning, making a total of eight regulars ('Jade'(Dutch), 'Wyntersea'(UK/USA), 'Croq de Pomme'(French), 'Nereida'(UK!), 'Seascape'(Canada), 'Lorna'(Canada), and now 'Adio' (German), 'Sand Dollar' (USA?), with 'Splinters Apprentice' and 'Reflections', both friends of mine from UK, now in the Galapagos before crossing to the Marquesas, joining in very occasionally). 'Seascape' is headed to Guatemala & crossing the Tihuantepec today, 'Croq' is about to leave the Sea of Cortez for the Marquesas, and the rest of us are all on passage to the Marquesas now.

Another pleasant, relaxed afternoon of reading & sleeping (catching up on disturbed night's sleep, as usual!), with the occasional adjustment of 'Hermann', the Windpilot.

1800 GMT position: 07deg 56' N; 123deg 48' W . 24hr distance run by log: 127 n.ml. (actually 148 ml over ground - current effect good still!)

Lovely day today - perfect Trade winds sailing...!! Having to keep out of the sun - very hot (32C)! Just 3 baby flying fish to clear from decks this morning.
Read a lot - VERY relaxed, just sitting in companionway, keeping out of sun, in a nice breeze, mug of tea at tea-time....
Wind has dropped just a little over afternoon - now down to ~13kn, boatspeed ~5.4kn, SOG 6.7kn - can't complain at that!

Forgot to put yesterday's distance etc:
Thursday: 1800 GMT position: 09deg 19' N; 119deg 05' W . 24hr distance run by log: 117 n.ml. (actually 125 ml over ground)

Today's (Friday) 1800 GMT position: 08deg 42' N; 121deg 25' W . 24hr distance run by log: 124 n.ml. (actually 144 ml over ground)

Can see effect of current on distance made over ground on both days! Excellent!

Soon after sunset yesterday (Wed), dolphins came by just before it got really dark - they played around & jumped over the waves for a bit.

Only putting fridge on 2-3 (short) times daily - has helped enormously with far less need for charging with generator - just keeping things cool inside. Had curry again tonight. Might get 3rd portion tomorrow - heated it up really well in hope it might last another day...

Still no joy at all with Winlink- my signal must be too weak for good connection. (Wow! - actually managed to send last 4 days' Posn. Reports just now...!) Think the only reason I'm getting into Sailmail is their set-up must be stronger - takes no time at all to download from them, but an age to upload my emails... I often spend ages with an incompleted 'terminated' connection ... very frustrating & time-consuming.

Sat in cockpit later last night - beautiful moon - path of silver across sea to 'Nereida'.

Thursday

Quite a few showers overnight and during morning, but no squalls!

Still no Winlink connection.....

Changed course just after noon, trying to keep better wind while making more westing & (hopefully) get less ITCZ problems by crossing further W. According to grib files, lighter winds will be to S of this course over next few days. Had to change pole & genoa over (all took an age, as usual!),

Slept, read, had coffee/tea/water/juice (not mixed!), now about to try Winlink again (1750 PDT) - if no joy, will try Sailmail.... Sky clear again, sailing nicely with well over a knot of Equatorial Current helping us along - excellent!

1915UTC (1215 PDT)
With a following wind of ENE 10kn - and a course of about 245T (almost WSW), boatspeed is only around 4knots. We're not exactly going to break any speed records on this passage!! The first boats to leave early for the Marquesas from Puerta Vallarta (Mexico) have had good winds (around 20kn) and have just arrived.

Spent ages this morning finally switching the pole from starboard to port side - so now we're goosewinged again (as we should have been yesterday... Inner forestay has added another little step to the process!) Makes the boat far more stable laterally, so windsteering should cope better - it has been sending us off course regularly for the last day & overnight so we're slightly south of our intended course. On a long passage like this, that really doesn't matter a great deal.

I now have 3 days of Position Reports (including today's) waiting for a connection to Winlink. Unless some kind person can send me an email address for sending reports direct to Shiptrak or to the Winlink website page via my Sailmail address - which has been working occasionally - they'll have to wait for whenever I get through to Winlink finally.... My last few daily logs have been kindly posted for me by Bryan & Mike of 'Nightwinds' who have now enabled me to post direct via Sailmail, assuming that connection can continue to be made every so often.... The further from land I sail, the more difficult the connections are - until I get closer to stations in N.Z. &/or Australia, or solve my transmission problem (unlikely at sea!).

Having a 'fruit' day today, with lovely papaya (paw-paw) and orange - need to keep a constant eye on my fresh fruit and veg now they are all getting very ripe, to use them rather than lose them!!

Interesting - I looked in my logbook for Nereida's furthest west position to date. On the way up to Alaska from Kauai last year, I was almost at 163W, skirting around the N. Pacific High. My landfall in the Marquesas will only be at about 139W. Not until I get to Suvarov, between Bora-Bora and Samoa, will I have sailed further west.

1800 GMT position: 10deg 29' N; 117deg 19' W . 24hr distance run by log: 100 n.ml.

Wind light most of the day - very pleasant & relaxed.  Sunny with some cloud but not a lot. No rainsqualls! Just mainsail & genoa.
Another day of ambling along - mostly at a mere 3-4 knots.

Saw a white-tailed tropic bird several times today & yesterday - I wonder if it nests in Kauai/Hawaii...?

Been looking over Pacific charts in more detail & checking over possible route from Marquesas to Australia -lots of possibilities
but will stay very flexible!

Also gradually getting around to having a look at radio connections, especially ground leads - means a lot of 'digging' for access
- so taking my time.  Am being heard, but not as well as I should be.  And Winlink connections have been impossible yesterday and
up to this evening - will see what happens when I try to send this...  

Finished last of fresh meat for dinner tonight - made a curry with last aubergine & courgette.

Lovely moonrise over fairly calm sea....

1800 GMT position: 11deg 18' N; 115deg 57' W .  24hr distance run by log: 126 n.ml.  (due to good wind yesterday afternoon & evening!)




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