Friday, June 30, 2006

On the Move Again

We left Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas on Wednesday June 28th and are headed for Ahe in the Tuamotu Archipelago. Its a trip of 500 miles and hope to arrive on Monday. We need to time things right as the islands are all coral atolls and can only be entered in the perfect conditions of sunlight and tide. Since we left we've had a pretty rough trip with a lots of squally weather and big seas. We finished off the Mahi Mahi tonight that we caught a couple of weeks back so guess we'll be fishing again tomorrow. At 0430 UT on Friday 30th June ReVision II is at 11 Deg 02 Min South and 142 Deg 28 min West with 306 miles to go to Ahe.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Marquesas Landfall

As promised, here is an update on our landfall. The last part of our passage was completely devoid of wind so unfortunately we had to motor, this was pretty slow progress as the propeller had been fouled with so much weed and barnacles on the way we could only make about 5 knots. On the last day the engine had been revving a little every so often, at three am on the night before we were due to arrive we discovered why this was when the engine just stopped on my watch. We had about 5 knots of wind at the time but luckily a calm sea. I managed to get the boat moving very slowly in vaguely the right direction - this involved poling out the jib on my own - no easy task! Andrew meanwhile, just woken up was working on a boiling hot engine, trying to figure out what was wrong. He eventually discovered the fuel filter was blocked, so he replaced it and then had to bleed the engine, but about an hour and a half later we were on our way again. Andrew went back to sleep and I took the final hours of my watch as we approached Fatu Hiva. As the sun came out I decided to put the fishing rod out - I thought I might catch a fish for Andrew when he woke. A short while later and the reel went, I have only brought the line in when there's nothing on it before but this was a huge huge fish. I tried really hard and with all my strength got it to within 10 feet of the boat, by now Andrew was up and I got him to take over as I physically couldn't hold it any more - it kept pulling the line out, going deep, under the boat, in circles who knows. Andrew then struggled with it for another 20 mins, then it went under the boat and got away. Luckily it left our top lure. I think we were secretly pleased it got away as it was so big we would have had difficulty getting it into the boat. Next time I'm going to try a smaller one.

We choose Fatu Hiva as our landfall destination in the Marquesas as we had read that it was the most beautiful and unspoiled of the ten islands, the anchorage features on the front cover of our pilot guide for Polynesia so we just had to go. The rumour has it that the bay was originally called Bay des Verges by early explorers because of the shape of the rocky pillars (a little French test for you). Supposedly the missionaries disapproved and inserted an i making it Bay des Vierges - Bay of the Virgins. We could see the island from about 25 miles out, which is alot further than we would usually be able to make out because the mountains are so high. As we got closer we could back out the jagged cliffs and deep green ravines running towards the sea. The lush foliage covering the peaks was incredible, even the sea took on a green tinge. We spotted the bay and the towering pillars with a few yachts anchored beneath, as we approached a squall came over which cast a perfect rainbow neatly across the opening - we had a cheesy moment and then got ready to anchor. As we came into the bay Zefrin blew a conch horn and all the other boats cheered us in. The anchorage was incredible, the cliffs rising straight up either side covered with trees and palms of all different greens - a testimony to the high rainfall in these islands. Tucked in the corner we could make out the landing for the hamlet but all we could see of it was a little white church and a football goal!! We got ourselves settled and then went to Zefrin for dinner with Kika too. Warwick cooked this fantastic spicy fish in batter. Ragtime arrived at about 10.30 to the same welcome as us, Will and Alyssa were then whizzed over for fish too. It was a bit of a boozy night which hit us all hard after 21 days with no alcohol.

In the morning we ventured ashore and found the neatest little hamlet tucked in the valley. A typical Marquesian statue adorned the harbour wall, outrigger canoes were lined up on the shore and the place just smelt fantastic. We went to find the policeman to check in and were directed to his house, he was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt with a police logo but just pottering at home with his pig tied up out front. He just took a note of our names in a book and said we could stay for a couple of days - Fatu Hiva is not a port of entry so really we should have gone to one of the big islands first but we had been told he was pretty relaxed and he was. The village has one shop and a church, no bakery and the shop doesn't even sell beer - luckily we had enough provisions on board. The trees and flowers in the village were beautiful, huge pamplemouse (like grapefruit but much bigger and so sweet) hung on some trees, limes on others. The people were all so friendly, most of the women just wearing printed sarong or lava lavas, we felt instantly at home. We went for a hike through the valley, were we found many streams, banana trees, mango trees, limes that had fallen so fell into our bag, it really was breath taking we felt like we had come somewhere really exotic. In the afternoon we went snorkeling just outside the bay, we saw lots of different fish and an octopus luckily we didn't see any sharks as there are plenty around these parts.

As amazing as Fatu Hiva was the anchorage was very swirly and huge gusts came down from the mountains making it pretty uncomfortable and it was time to move on so next morning we left and sailed all day to Tahuata. On the way we caught two yellow fin tuna and a wahoo - all about 2 hours - I spent most of the passage gutting and filleting fish! The anchorage we picked is reportedly one of the top spots in the whole of Polynesia - we were not disappointed. It was just like you imagine the South Pacific, a perfect white sandy bay backed by coconut palms and green mountains behind. This spot was not swirly just a gentle swell and breeze - perfect. In the morning we swam ashore. The area was deserted, just a covered area that looked like it was maybe used for meetings or celebrations. The ground beyond the powder white beach was littered with coconuts and limes so obviously a few of each made their way back to ReVision II. We snorkeled and found beautiful coral around the edges of the bay and I picked up some really cool shells (Carolyn later lost the shells in 25 foot of water which Andrew then had to free dive in to rescue them). We had such a lovely day of relaxing which was just what we needed. We did do a few boat jobs too obviously - the genoa had been damaged on the crossing so I had some repairs to do while Andrew did engine jobs. But again it was time to press on so we can see as much as possible. So we are now sailing overnight to Ua Pou. We should arrive first thing Friday, here we will formally clear in and hope to experience a bit more of life in the Marquesas, there is also a museum and craft centre together with a restaurant which I think we will be visiting. We're hoping to find a phone too so we can call home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Safe Arrival in Fatu Hiva

On Monday afternoon ReVision II arrived safely in Fatu Hiva after a 20 day passage covering some 2900 miles. Today Tuesday we spent the day ashore stretching our legs. We are happy to be here safe and sound.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Normal Service Resumed

At 23:22 GMT on Friday June 16th ReVision II is at 8 deg 39 min South and 132 deg 23 mins West. We have 388 miles to go to Fatu Hiva. We are glad to report that normal service has been resumed. For the last few days we have had steady winds, blue skies and rolling seas. It really is wonderful out here - knowing we only have a few more days makes it even better. Our days are lazy again, reading, cooking and doing the occasional tweak to the sails or steering. Yesterday was overtaken by the catching of a fabulous dorada, it was absolutely beautiful, bright blue and yellow and weighed about 15lbs so plenty of fish for the next few days - Andrew seems to have the magic touch when it comes to fishing in the Pacific as many of the other boats we are with have tried for days with nothing. Although 3 boats all caught a fish yesterday. I have taken over net control for the formal radio net in the afternoon, something I never thought I could do but so far so good, I just have to be careful I don't talk to each boat too long as it uses alot of power, it is quite fun and we feel like we are doing our bit.

As promised Andrew's Birthday poems:

From Nick & Ellen on Kika:

On the good ship Revision II
Carolyn was most excellent crew
Andrew was the Captain strict
Any problems, had 'em licked
Bust their backstay, no problemo
Not to worry, when Scooby was 'let go'!

R2 had fun on their way
To the Marquesas, left in May
Hoping to arrive in June
By the light of the next full moon

Shared their journey with their friends
Speedy Zeferin, Roomy Helene,
Racy Raggers, Ripple 2
and Kika (the ex Boat Show sloop)

Birthday wishes they all sent
To Andrew, that fine sailing gent
'Bonne Anniversaire' and all that jazz
In Fatu Hiva, we'll have a razz

From Will & Alyssa on Ragtime:

Andrew and Carolyn went to sea
in the beautiful R2 boat,
they took some spares
and plenty of flares,
all wrapped up in a foul weather coat!

They sailed night and day
to a land far away
to a place where Scooby broke free,
they drank beer and wine
which made everything fine
when Scooby returned from the sea!

Andrew and Carolyn went to sea
in the beautiful R2 boat,
with cockroach drills
and backstay ills
all aboard their Galapagos float!

Life at sea
seemed ever so glee
on the BIRTHDAY R2 boat,
there's been fish and cake
that Carolyn baked,
And there'll be plenty of time for wine,
when we all get to the Marquesas on time!

Obviously this lot have been at sea too long!! But it did really make Andrew's day - thanks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

All change

At 00:20 GMT on Tuesday June 13th ReVision II is at 7 deg 06 min South and 124 deg 55 mins West. We have 841 miles to go to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas - breaking the 1000 mile to go marker was a really big deal for us, we are now on the count down. The weather has taken a bit of a turn for the worse as we hit a convergence zone - this brought high winds and big seas. We were getting a bit frustrated as the wind was really not strong enough to keep us moving through the fairly big sea and we were 'slopping' around with sails and rigging banging for two days. We did take the opportunity of going slow to do a spot of fishing and it only took ten minutes before we had a fantastic little wahoo just enough for a meal for two - and very tasty it was. Then out of know where the wind picked up, the sky was full of clouds. We knew to expect this as the others ahead of us had had a couple of really miserable days. We had near gale force winds and the seas just got bigger and bigger, breaking and slamming into the side of the boat. Seas got up to about 18 feet - ahhhh. People told us to expect calm seas on this crossing and possibly periods of no wind - we have learned one thing about all oceans - they are all big and when the wind gets up the sea does too. Andrew did a top job of getting the sails balanced and we took turns doing short watches to make sure the boat didn't round up into the full strength of the wind - it happened a couple of times and would take all my strength to turn the wheel to get her back on course. The other problem is some of the really big waves seem to lift ReVision II up spin her around and then put her back right in the force of the wind. She has been amazing though taking the sea and together with Malcolm, the windvane steering, they have been partners at keeping us on track. But the rain is relentless you can hardly see the sails at times! We have both gained a few bruises from being thrown around. Tell us why we do this again.... oh yeh it's not cold. Anyway we got in a routine and once you get used to it it's not nearly as scary, just tiring. The next day was Andrew's birthday. When we called in on the radio first thing Nick played happy birthday on his trumpet, he also got a poem from Ellen (which she's promised to email so we can add to blog), singing and harmonica playing from Matt & Togs plus kind wishes from everyone else. Andrew was surprised I had managed to get the message out. The day was dampened a little by the weather but I still managed to cook a special birthday tea of Parmo (a Middlesborough delight) and treacle sponge pudding with custard. The weather continued into the night and we sat watches all night. Andrew had two visits from the sea - first a huge squid flew out of the sea and hit him on the side of the head (not sure who was more shocked) then when he was sleeping a wave broke into the cockpit and managed to get through the gap in the washboards and land on him in bed - the storm board is now in place! Today things have eased a little and the sun has come out so it feels much better. The good news is that we've been speeding along nicely in all this wind.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Past Halfway

At 16:16 GMT on Sunday June 11th ReVision II is at 6 deg 33 min South and 119 deg 19 mins West. We have 1174 miles to go to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas and are now well past the halfway point. The weather continues to be fair although the frequency of squalls has increased. These squalls are torrential downpours with Gale Force winds. Fortunately they only last a few minutes but they do lead to a lot of activity on board as we try to reduce the amount of sail we have. It seems that they come mostly at night when they are difficult to spot. Sleep is at a premium at the moment but otherwise all is well on board. Quite excited about a frozen chicken that we have defrosted for dinner tonight.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Krazee Kiwi's

At 0049 GMT on Friday June 9th ReVision II is at position 05 Degrees 50 Minutes South and 112 Degrees 46 Minutes West. 1565 miles to go. We have spent the last 2 days playing cat and mouse with our good Kiwi friends Sandy, Joan and Warwick aboard Zeferin. We first met Sandy and Joan in the Canaries and have been in close contact with them ever since speaking regularly by radio and meeting up in Bonaire, Curacao, Panama and the Galapagos. Warwick (our human gearbox in the Panama Canal) joined them for this leg of their trip in Panama. Sandy and Joan really are the most remarkable couple. This is their second time across the Pacific having previously made the trip in 1973 with their children and another family- 4 adults, 5 kids, one backpacker and a guinea pig on one boat by all accounts. I don't think they will mind me saying that they are both in their seventies and act as though they are in their twenties. Joanie is totally glamorous, climes the mast and is just the warmest person. Sandy has a big bushy beard and is always jolly - a bit like Father Christmas. They have been hot on our heels for two days and trailed us by 1 mile overnight last night hanging back before making a dawn flypass. Sandy decked out in his Hawaiian shirt and Warwick at the helm. Lots of photos from both sides for exchange later. Quite a special moment meeting up with friends mid ocean some 1400 miles from the nearest land. What a revelation GPS has been for the ocean navigator!

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Moving along

At 0120 GMT on Monday June 5th ReVision II is at position 04 Degrees 11 Minutes South and 102 Degrees 45 Minutes West. The weather is beautiful and we are making steady progress west. All is well on board. Only 2172 miles to go !

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Perfect Sailing

At 0120 GMT on Saturday June 3rd ReVision II is at position 03 Degrees 11 Minutes South and 97 Degrees 55 Minutes West. We have had perfect conditions for sailing during the last couple of days and are now moving along very comfortably after a slow start. The weather is calm and sunny with blue skies. We are keeping in close contact with friends who are crossing at the same time. Nick and Ellen on Kika are 100 miles or so in front of us and we have been talking to them twice a day- They had a pod of pilot whales with them today. Meanwhile we are still working our way through the Tuna we caught. All the fresh tuna has now been eaten -2 meals a day for 3 days and all that is left is frozen ie the other half of the fish. I'm secretly hoping for a menu change tomorrow. We also have a whole stalk of bananas on board which is hanging outside and ripening rapidly. Tonight Carolyn is preparing a delicious banana crumble for supper. If anyone has any recipes for tuna with bananas let us know. Best get back to the sailing as Sandy,Joan and Warwick are hot on our tail on Zefferin with Will and Alyssa on Ragtime not far behind either. Matt and Togs on Helene are planning to leave Isabella on Saturday and we should all be arriving in the Marquesas about three weeks from now.