Sunday, April 28, 2013

Anchored at Kauehi, Tuamotos

We just arrived at the atoll of Kauehi.
We made 570 miles from the Marquesas in 3 days 22 hours. It was a real nice "wind"ow to take.
The town is small and looks cute. Maybe 30 houses total.
The water is turquoise, the sand is white white, and the sky bright blue. Lots of coral. A nice snorkel reef is 50 yards from our stern.
We arrived at the pass when the NOAA chart showed low slack tide. Instead, we had 4 kts of current against us. We were doing 1kt at one point. Need to figure out the tides. We could have anchored up close to the beach with 1 ft below the keel but then the tide may still be going out and we would be aground, so we are in 20ft and I still have to dive and check the anchor while Booker looks for sharks.

The little church really has personality.  Everything up in the ceiling made of shells.

We'll stay here for a few days and then it's 30 miles over to Fatuhiva which should be a perfect distance to allow for slack tide at both inlet. If we can ever figure out the tide.

Note: Found it:  The only correct source for tides is

This is Jimmy.
 We were walking down the street and this guy driving down the street in a beatup pickup truck loaded with bags of something stops and says, "Welcome to my island".  He must be the only guy that speaks English which was nice.  As he was driving away he says "That is my house up there, do you want to come see it?"  So, we walk 50 yards and he has already sent his cousin out to pull down 2 coconuts for us to drink while we sat at the table and talked.

 This is Jimmy's Boathouse.

This is Jimmy's Mom, Josephine.  She is stringing little shells together to make a necklace.

TIME: 2013/04/28 20:45
LATITUDE: 15-49.00S
LONGITUDE: 145-07.00W
COMMENT: - Arrived Kauehi - 570nm in 3 days 22 hrs

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas

We motor sailed overnight to Nuku Hiva from Tahuata in very light wind. 85 miles and made water the whole time. We arrived at noon and started to explore but it was Sunday and election day so everything was closed.

The dinghy dock is located at a kind of public pier with open air restaurants, vendors, and fruit and vegetable vendors.

 This is the crepe girl.  She has a little truck parked by the dinghy dock and makes a killer crepe

 The anchorage in Taiohae Bay with mountains that meet the clouds.  (actually hilltop rain)
 This is a model of the double hull sailboat that the Polynesians used to explore the Pacific.  According to Linguistic researchers, the Polynesian exploration originated in China and worked it's way east out to the Marquesas and finally Hawaii from 5000 BC until 1500AD when European explorers discovered these islands.
 This is a map of the Polynesian exploration route.

They must have been amazing seamen to have done this with no modern technology.

We hit the ATM hard here because we will end up soon in places without a bank.
The US dollar doesn't buy much here though. 2 bags of laundry - $70. Pizza dinner - $60. Diesel - $6./gal
We topped off all hydrocarbons. Diesel, gas for the dinghy and generator, and filled the propane tank by making a transfer hose and gravity feeding the liquid butane from the French "GAZ" tank into our US propane bottle.

MUKTUK arrived after we were there 2 days. It was nice to see them again, even after such a short time.  Here is a picture of Karl, Jan, Ali, Noah, and Booker aboard MUKTUK.

The best thing was that we got wifi and were able to order parts and do some skypeing.

I thought the winds around here were pretty much tradewinds and wouldn't change much. Wrong! I pulled up the weather and the winds are forecast to be good 15-20kt for 4 days and then die down with no real improvement until after Lewis comes to Fakarava. So, even though we had planned to go anchor at Daniels Bay, the site of the 2002 Survivor Marquesas TV show, and hike up to the waterfall, we said our so-longs and took off for the Tuamotos at 11AM.

Nuku Hiva was a nice anchorage. The town was easily accessible unlike Hiva Oa. There are 2 relatively decent food stores and a nice hardware store. The island is very lush, green, and mountainous. Fruit trees of all kinds growing everywhere. The sweet smell of gardenias and other tropical flowers filled the air. Very Polynesian in culture. We could have stayed much longer.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hiva Oa & Tahuata

We spent 3 days in Fatu Hiva and had a nice 40 mile sail to Hiva Oa. We had good timing and arrived to a crowded anchorage (12 boats) but not as crowded as it was about to become. We cleared in with the Gendarme the next morning and left the day after that when there were 22 boats in this tiny anchorage.
We headed to the north shore of Hiva Oa to the bay of Hanamenu where there is a fresh water pool that sounded inviting.
The MUKTUKers watching their friends on Whooshie leave

When we arrived, I checked email and we had received a message from our Austrian friends from the Guaymas boatyard on MUKTUK. They were anchored in a nice bay on Tahuata that we passed 2 hours prior. So we headed back to see them and had a wonderful 4 days in the best anchorage so far.
We could see the sand and coral 15 feet below the boat, there were Manta Rays swimming, coral reefs, and a white sand beach where we had a beach fire one night.

 Karl, Ali, Jan, and Noah from MUKTUK came over for my birthday party. Booker made a rum cake. We also hooked up with Dave and Kathy on the catamaran LIGHTSPEED. We met them 4 years ago in Belize and again in La Cruz, Mexico last year. They have been in the South Pacific since last year.

The prior owners of Tortuguita's sister ship, AMARYLLIS, had been doing charters on her in the BVI's for 5 years. We met them in Grenada when we were in the Spice Island Boatyard. They sold her and bought a monohull, PACIFIC HWY. They sailed down from Mexico when we did. We had nice sundowners one afternoon with them and exchanged boat stories. Small world.

MUKTUK left for Hanamenu during the day and we left at sunset for the 80 mile sail to Nuka Hiva where we hope to get laundry done and provision for the Tuamotos.  On the way there, we were greeted by the usual suspects except all of them had white noses. (play video)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 25 - Arrived - Fatu Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia

In order to avoid a night time arrival, we hove to about 20 miles out and slept 3 hours. When we awoke we saw the island. Smaller than I thought it would be. We had a 3rd reef main up from the heaving to so we left that, rolled out the jib and were rounding the corner in 2 hours. I should have tried to fix the engine more but wanted an excuse to come here for repairs. So, when we motored in, big gusts coming over the hills would push us to starboard (the port engine was the one running so that didn't help us much) When we got in close, the same thing was happening and I was feeling uncomfortable and was about to bail and come up with Plan B. There were 3 boats anchored and a spot that looked good without having to risk hitting one of the other boats so we headed in, had a lull in the gusts just long enough for us to get the anchor down in 94 feet of water. That is a record for us and I thought impossible. Remember, we learned to sail in the Caribbean where 6 feet in nice sand was common.

The gusts set the anchor and I went to work right away to fix the engine in case things went to hell, we wouldn't be crippled.
Once over the stress of anchoring and the nasty gusty (30+) winds coming over the hill, the beauty of this place was starting to be realized. High rock cliffs, huge crevasses, palm trees, green lush vegetation, and super clear water. Then again, after 25 days at sea, the sewage filled bay of Acapulco would have looked inviting. This place really is beautiful though.

We are still waiting for the dugout canoes to come greet us but somehow, I think those days are gone.

In a few days we will go to Hiva Oa, clear in 'legally', gas, water, and go explore the Marquesas. Just planning, but will probably leave for the Tuamotos in 2 weeks.

Cheers, Dave and Booker

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Day 24 - Planning the Arrival

We are getting close and making great time since the winds have picked up to 18kts.
We are doing 8kts and if we keep up this pace, we will arrive Thursday in the late afternoon.
The problem is that if anything slows us, we will have a night arrival.

Our sailing roots are in the Bahamas and Caribbean and there, you never ever arrive at night into and unfamiliar place, period. Too many unseen dangers and things to hit.
In our whole time cruising, we made one night arrival into well lighted commercial harbor of Puerto Madera, Mexico, and that was even dicey since Mexican charts are 'always' wrong.

So, even though keeping this fast pace could be possible, it would also take a toll on the crew. We would be much more tired and likely to make mistakes having a noisy night sleep. Let alone the stress of clock watching for a day and a half worrying about every .1 knot of speed we lost for one reason or another.

So, discretion being the better part of valor, and since this is not a race but more of an endurance, we decided to slow it down to 5 kts and arrive Friday morning, rested, and in good light.

The slowing down part worked well but with 20 miles to go at 3AM with unknown charting accuracy, we parked (heaved to) the boat and slept for 3 hours. We awoke before sunrise and saw Fatu Hiva in the distance.

Almost there.

Cheers, Dave and Booker

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 23 - 7S 135W - Done Raining - South of the SPCZ - 350 miles to go

After 4 days of rain in many forms, we were ready for today. The rain finally stopped. It actually should have happened 2 days ago but weather is weather, especially here and you just have to deal with it.

So what do you do on a rainy day when you are stuck in your 45X25' house? We watched movies, listened to music, and tried to stay dry. We have 32 days of music on the ipod and have been through most of it.
In years past, we had hatches that leaked. In Bonaire, the boat was a moisture filled and wet after 4 days of continuous rain. Condensation was everywhere.

Different situation here. As long as we didn't bring too much water in, the cabin was fairly dry. So we left the jackets and wet clothes outside. There was alot of naked toweling off going on when we came inside, but it worked well. The autopilot worked well and handled the wind gusts that came with the showers.

So, today the skies were blue and the wind has returned. The seas are still lumpy so the boat is rocking and lurching around alot. We had full sail up for awhile but the main was flogging so we had to give up the speed for comfort and less chance of damage.

The most important rule when you are out here is: Be careful and don't break the boat. There are no facilities nor parts until Tahiti. We are only half way to New Zealand, so it is better to arrive later than sooner with a ripped sail.

Cheers, Dave & Booker

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 21 - Where did this other ITCZ come from?

Where do I start?

After the equator, we had 2 days of light winds and confused seas. The sails were slapping and would have ended up ripped sooner or later. At 1000AM we picked up a smudged, garbled, satellite photo by weatherfax and not really being able to locate our position on it, we made some assumptions that the weather that we could see to the south of us was the white smudge on the photo and we had to go through it to get to winds and our destination, so we started up the engines and headed directly south.
This weather is the Southern Pacific Convergence Zone or SPCZ. It's location comes and goes. More irregular than the Northern ITCZ. Well, it came.

That afternoon we dodged showers. There were anvil head thunderstorms around but we could see them. It became another avoid the storm day, like we just did 5 days ago in the ITCZ. When night came, there was no moon but there were times when it wasn't overcast that we could pick out the storms by where the stars weren't but mostly we used the radar for avoidance.

At 330AM, I came in for a break but was soon back at the helm. I got 35 minutes sleep at 6AM. We were at 4S and the sky was blue. We're out of it. NOT. By 10AM huge cells were dumping tremendous amounts of water, we were under an overhang, powered up trying to outrun the gust front. By late afternoon, the storms seemed different. There was not the wind force in them that we had earlier. It was becoming just rain, like spring showers, not summer thunderstorms. I knew we just couldn't keep motoring to the south and expect things to change. It really wasn't that bad at this point. So we put up the sails and let the showers overrun us. By now, I think we almost have all the Mexico dirt washed off the boat. The seas got too confused and the wind too light to sail so we have been motoring once again.

It is 9AM, we have been motoring for 15 hours, the seas are becoming more organized. I am hoping the heat breaks up the showers like yesterday and we can dry out.

Cheers, Dave & Booker

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 17 - 126-35'W Crossed the Equator

We crossed the Equator at 7:35AM local time and had our Shellback Ceremony.
We gave gifts and praise to King Neptune so he would leave us alone.
Booker took the whole 'shellback' word literally and actually gave him a shell back. She dropped a nice conch shell that we have been carrying since the Bahamas to the depths of the ocean. I toasted Neptune and gave him some wine. As certified below, we are now officially Shellbacks.

Know ye, that DAVID & BOOKER DEAKYNE on the 3rd day of April, 2013 at 1430Z aboard the Sailing Vessel TORTUGUITA appeared at the equator at Latitude 0° , Longitude 126°35'W entering into Our Royal Domain, and having been inspected and found worthy by My Royal Staff and was initiated into the Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep. I command my subjects to Honor and Respect him as one of our Trusty Shellbacks.
Davey Jones - His Royal Scribe
Neptunus Rex - Ruler of the Raging Main

Shortly after our ceremony, the wind started to pick up, we put up the spinnaker and shut down the engine. We are under sail once again heading directly for the Marquesas.

Thanks Neptune.

Cheers, Dave and Booker

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 16 - 1 30N 126 30W - The Doldrums

Yes, they are really a place.

After the best sailing day so far, it all came to a stop.
We hit the Doldrums. The water is like glass. There is no wind. The sun is directly overhead and it is hot hot hot. You sweat just sitting in the shade. It is just like in the old-time sailing ship movies where they becalmed for weeks.

This is why we saved our diesel. We knew this was coming so after the sails became useless, we started the engines and headed directly south. We were going 5kts but the current was against us at 1-1.5kts so we just crawled along all day and night into the current, knowing that the shortest path to better wind was not in the direction we really wanted to go.

Running the engines allowed us to charge the batteries and make water. I also tested out and preserved the membrane in the emergency watermaker.

This has really been the land of extremes.

Cheers, Dave & Booker

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Day 15 - 3N to 1.5N - The best sailing yet

Once we got south of the ITCZ, the skies were blue with scattered clouds. There was almost no humidity. The wind was steady between 10 and 12 knots, the seas were flat except from a very long swell, and we were moving along at 5-6 under full sail.

Could not ask for a better day. Incredibly peaceful especially considering what we had just been through. The perfect day.

Cheers, Dave and Booker

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Days 12-14 - Lost some battles but won the war

We haven't posted for the past few days because we have been totally exhausted and sleep deprived from fighting the weather.

There is an area just described by NOAA as "SCATTERED MODERATE ISOLATED STRONG". What they are talking about is storms.
There is a region called the ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) close to the equator where warm moist air from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres meet and gets lifted into the air and forms clouds. Here is how the forecasters described what we just went through:

FROM 105W TO 120W.

Sometimes during the day, downpours occur but mostly at night, when the air cools, the air can't support the weight of this moisture and squalls form. A squall is a rain shower with a serious amount of rain and wind coming out the bottom.

Our first afternoon had some squalls which we turned to avoid. Then in the black night at 8PM, another came. We turned to let it pass but we were like a trailer park to a tornado, it just kept following us and getting bigger. The winds picked up and so did the rain. Another one formed behind it. We were staying to it's right but the wind was so strong and we were going so fast it looked like we might even pass it. But we weren't diverging from it very fast. It kept pushing us forward and we kept trying to go as far right as possible but the winds were close to 50kts and the waves were 15 ft. All you can do is keep heading with the wind. Then on the radar we see a squall line to our right and these two on our left are pushing us in to it.

They would soon come together into a 'V' with us in the middle and squeeze us into the middle of this huge storm. The only way out was back so I started the engines, turned the boat, but the wind was so strong, even at full power, the boat would not stay pointed into the wind.

One last tactic was to trail warps to slow us down. Warps are long lengths of rope in a loop trailed behind the boat. They create drag and keep the boat from accelerating down the waves. In the stinging sideways wind driven rain, we got the warps deployed, the boat speed slowed as expected and the 'V' continued off to the west. It was now midnight. 4 hours of fighting this beast and we were exhausted.

We headed back on our original course and set the radar to watch for more squalls. Yes more came, and kept coming. For the next 48 hours we battled these things almost continuously. We had our tactics down and Booker was getting good at tracking them on the radar. One would show up 20 miles out as a little speck and by the time it got near us, there were 3 full blown squalls. We had the drill down by now: Bathing suit, Jacket, Life Vest, and Tether. Reduce sail and start an engine. Booker stands watch at the radar and I am at the helm. We turn, replot the storm's new course, over and over, until it has passed.

Sunday afternoon there was another line toward the south but there was a gap in it. We plotted the course for the gap and got south of that line with 10 gallons of fresh rainwater collected from our roof.

We made it through one more line that evening and we saw the stars for the first time in days. Then the moon came up and we could see all the storms to the north in the distance.

What a great feeling. We are below the ITCZ, finally. We won.

Cheers, Dave and Booker

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