Friday, 21 July 2017

Leaving French Polynesia

We are anchored in shallow turquoise water in Maupiti, which is about 30NM
to the west of Bora Bora. It is delightful. An atoll with a big lagoon and
with a 350m mountain in the middle. Yesterday we cycled round the island and
today we have been snorkelling with manta rays in the lagoon. Not the best
view so we shall try again tomorrow morning. They go out to the pass to sea
to clean themselves in the morning with the aid of fish who eat barnacles
etc off them, and then they disperse through the lagoon during the day.

This afternoon we are conducting an eye clinic on land. We have 500 pairs
of long-distance and 40 pairs of clever adjustable short-sighted glasses
with us and various eye charts, supplied by Oregon-based Sea Mercy and we
will see who needs them; the mayor, whom we met this morning, has invited
people to attend. Maupiti has about 1000 inhabitants and nowhere near the
amount of tourism of the other islands. Bora Bora is overbuilt and
overpriced, so don't go there for your honeymoon; we can suggest many better
locations! Maupiti is not poor but it is less affluent than the other
Society islands. Each island has a different feel, even Raiatea and Taha'a,
which share a lagoon. On Raiatea, while Sue was completing her PADI
certification, we hiked with Tiggy and James from Miss Tiggy, from sea level
to the high plateau at 720 metres, saw a Tiare Apetahi flower up close -
it's the national, very endangered flower - and back down again, a tiring 7
hour walk. We've loved drifting with the current through coral gardens,
sometimes having to suck in the tummy so as not to graze the coral,
surrounded by multi-coloured fish. Not so keen on sea slugs, though, which
look like turds... We've visited pearl farms and seen the extraordinarily
fiddly process of implanting a piece of shell and a small centre into
pearls, and the glorious range of colours the resulting pearls display. And
on Taha'a, we loved being shown round a distillery and vanilla plantation,
and continue to enjoy the passionfruit rum. Thanks to Lenny and Sharon on
Shalen for pointing us in that direction! Renting a car on some islands,
such as Huahine, has allowed us to explore the interior and parts of the
coast we couldn't otherwise get to. A friendly Ia Orana (hello) and Nana
(bye) is as far as our Polynesian has progressed, but it's been fun being
able to communicate in French, which we couldn't do in Spanish in Colombia,
Panama and Galapagos.

We will probably leave Maupiti tomorrow for Maupihaa. It is an island with
18 inhabitants and we will be taking 3 of them with us! The supply ship
only calls twice a year, when there is enough copra harvested and ready to
export. The islanders take the supply ship or manage sometimes to get a
lift back 100NM upwind to Maupiti, but then they need to hitch a ride back
home. The pilot book has all kinds of ferocious warnings about the pass
being among the most difficult in French Polynesia; it is only 25m across
but there is plenty of depth and the weather forecast looks good, and we
will have 3 locals on board! The pass into Maupiti was exciting and in
different winds from the south could be truly awful, but it was well marked,
plenty of agitated waves but nothing too bad - power on and we made it
through. The current was against us: there's always a current running OUT
of the atoll, which seems strange until you think that there are always
waves breaking against the reef and flooding in.

So we have now been in French Polynesia since the beginning of May:
Marquesas, then Tuamotus, then Tahiti and the Society islands. The last
month has been in the more populated parts, but we needed 10 days in Tahiti
to change the gearbox (which meant flying 130kg of gearbox and drive
mechanics from the UK, and the engineer from New Zealand), to finalise
fixing the gooseneck, and to reprovision the freezer and other supplies.
All done at 3x the price of Panama.

We had a lovely two weeks with Michael and his friends George and Tom who
will post their own blog. Now we are with Peter and Sue who will accompany
us across the deserted Southern Pacific to Tonga via Maupihaa, Aitutaki,
Palmerston and Niue. The latter three do not have a lagoon, so we will have
to anchor on the lee side and hope the weather is good or leave and move on.
We will be in Tonga (360 islands) mid August, Fiji (333 island) early
September and leave Fiji for New Zealand mid-October.

We have loved the people of French Polynesia, which seems remarkably
prosperous, friendly, with a high sense of community and also selectively
understanding that too much tourism is not a good thing; eg Huahine voted
against any large hotels. How the economy works I really don't know.
Breadfruit, grapefruit and many other fruits grow easily in your back
garden, fish is still in the lagoon or the sea. Life is simple,
egalitarian, and with many community activities. It has been the season of
Heiva or festivals, and we will post a video of the fabulous dancing and
singing from Huahine. All the island was there and the cast was over a
hundred of all ages, and all massively enthusiastic. Quite how all this
enables the books to balance I don't know, but it is very happy. I suspect
voting for independence would be a mistake, though we have seen a fair
number of blue and white flags showing support for that idea.

We are now out of 3G coverage, so please.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Dangerous Islands - Tuamotus and reaching Tahiti

When Charles and I first looked at the long string of atolls which make up the Tuamotus, part of French Polynesia, we had grand plans: we'd go to the smallest, least accessible, most remote ones -- lots of them.  When it came to the reality, we changed tactic and divided the time we had available between fewer atolls, trying to get to know them better.  This is definitely a cruising area to come back to and explore further.  Some of our Oyster World Rally friends are talking of basing themselves in Tahiti and sailing these waters for years.

So what makes them so special?  First of all, they are hardly there.  Each atoll is like a skinny doughnut, with far more water inside its "hole" than land around it. There's a hyped-up, mostly straightforward but potentially dangerous 'pass' (the entrance/exit), best negotiated at slack water, meaning high or low tide.  The scary bit is that on either side of the pass, the waves break dramatically on the reef, so as you approach, there are huge plumes of spray and crashing breakers.  Once you're in, the water is flat -- but deceptive.  It's a beautiful deep cobalt colour when deep enough, and even more beautiful vibrant turquoise where "boomies", columns of lava, rise from the bottom to catch yachts unawares.  In years of sailing, I'd never been up the mast in the bosun's chair (a fabric seat hauled up by ropes), but I thought I should face my fears - that's partly what this year is about, proving that even in one's 60th year, one can take on new challenges - so with scarcely a tremble, I allowed myself to be hoisted to the first spreaders on the mast... and guess what? I loved it up there.  From a height, it's easier to spot changes in water colour.  I think the charts alerted Charles to dangers anyway, but my excitable squeaks just may have contributed to our safe transit of the atolls.

Tuamotu people are special, too.  Marquesans were tough and friendly.  These atoll dwellers were softer: they grew flowers and painted their garden walls lilac and fuchsia.  There is no soil on the atolls, so growing anything is hard.  Vegetables and fruit are all imported, as is all food except fish and coconuts, so I'm in awe of the cooks in the restaurants we went to, making the most of tinned ingredients and deliveries which arrive every week or fortnight.

Our outboard engine, which has been giving us trouble for a while (Galapagos fuel? maybe), decided to play up badly while we were in Fakarava.  Roger and Dinah ended up staying an extra night as we couldn't deliver them to their "Crusoe chic", electricity-free resort.  That was fine - we found another frozen meal in the depths of the seriously depleted freezer.  At the 'resort', which was just a few huts and a restaurant on stilts, two men laboured over the outboard for a good hour, standing in knee-deep water with baby sharks swimming around their legs.  They even took parts out of their own engines to test ours.  They didn't want payment, but they were happy to accept our offer of three enormous Marquesan pamplemousses.
In the end, we only visited three Tuamotu atolls: Makemo, Fakarava and Apataki.  In Makemo, we were miles from anywhere.  We kayaked (thank you, Dave, for the red kayak, which is reassuringly solid), swam around reefs swarming with fish - it really was like being in a giant aquarium- and walked along a beach teeming with hermit crabs.  They're oddly endearing, adopting a shell which suits their size at any given time, but also voracious: other yachties had clearly enjoyed a barbecue ashore and the remains were being devoured by weirdly delicate crab claws.  Charles and I battled through mangroves and vines (they grow so fast you can practically see them move), to get to the outside of the reef, which was sadly covered in plastic debris - less bad than San Blas.

Fakarava is a more popular destination for yachts, and we caught up (literally) with several other Oysters there. The South pass is rightly famous for world-class diving, as Pippa and William have described.  As a humble snorkeller, I still came face to face with several sharks - an experience I'm glad to have had but still can't really feel relaxed about - and loved "riding" the current flooding in through the pass, over fabulous coral and thousands of fish, being carried along at about 3 knots.
North Fakarava is more developed.  We decided we didn't need to visit the shops there, so we entrusted Pippa and William to an airport-bound taxi and took on Matthew from El Mundo, who needed a lift to Tahiti.  He was a mine of information, very good company and instructed Charles in winch maintenance, which has become a bit of an obsession (sorry: a very necessary and valuable bit of boat skill).
Our third atoll was Apataki.  We wondered about going to Rangiroa, which is much more developed, and we've since heard very good stories from those who did go there.  But I'm so glad we chose Apataki.  We had to sail around the outside of the atoll for a long way before we got to the pass, which only became visible at the last minute.  It was a bit tricky - we had less than a metre of water under the keel at one point - and the light was fading as we came in, so we dropped anchor just inside.  In the southern hemisphere's winter, where we are now, night falls abruptly at just after 6pm and it doesn't get light till almost 6am; our response to this is to go to bed soon after 8pm and rise early - that just feels right.  Anyway, Apataki pass was delightful: faded blue-painted fishermen's huts on stilts, a church spire or two and a Brighton Pavilion-like pearl farm.  The following morning we motored cautiously through myriad buoys (almost like negotiating lobster pots in Maine!) to a motu or island near the reef on the south side.  From the boat, entirely alone, we swam ashore past the most colourful coral ever.  When we got to the reef, we waded, knee-deep, for at least another kilometre to the ocean's edge, collecting shells and marvelling at the fish and occasionally sharks who could swim in the shallows.  One nurse shark seemed to be asleep on the bottom until it woke up as we approached and lazily swam away.  We brought our haul of driftwood and shells back to Calliope.  Hours later, one of the shells got up and set off purposefully across the table!  Matthew very sweetly swam back to the reef to return it to its habitat.  He confessed later that he'd had a niggling worry that he was swimming after dark, which is sharks' feeding time.

And so on to Tahiti, with frustratingly little wind.  Charles and Matthew tried every conceivable sail combination before admitting that the "iron sail" (engine) was needed.
What a contrast Tahiti has been!  While parts of the island are quite poor and there's some homelessness and begging in the back streets of Papeete, this is a cosmopolitan, first-world town.  Marina Taina, where we've been for a week, is a superbly-run place, with helpful and efficient staff.  You can buy anything and everything in the Carrefour which is ten minutes' walk away; Ace hardware and other useful parts suppliers are nearby and today Charles and I bought two beautiful pieces of Polynesian art in a gallery which wouldn't be out of place in London.  Prices are high and seem higher because French Polynesia still has the multiple zeros of the ancient franc which I remember from childhood France.  Yesterday we drove around the island, which has helpful kilometre markers so you know how far you are from Papeete, and went out to watch surfers on the huge ("most dangerous in the world") wave off Teahupoo (some the names here, ending in poopoo,  make me giggle in a very juvenile manner).  We had lunch in a restaurant which commemorates the visit - inside the reef - of the SS France, a ship aboard which I crossed the Atlantic as a toddler and which I saw, beached in northern France and being cut up with acetylene torches, when I was being driven to Oxford in 1976.  We've also eaten out twice from "roulottes", food trucks like the ones in Portland, Oregon.  The market is full of produce and on Sunday a whole side of it was occupied by women weaving "couronnes", crowns of flowers of many colours, but always containing the "tiare" flower, a fragrant gardenia.

To those of you who saw the photograph Pippa posted on Instagram of Charles with a cut to his eyebrow, I can reassure you that it's fully healed now. He had fallen against a doorframe as the boat rolled.

Michael and two friends, George and Tom, join us in a few days.  Meanwhile we have had a couple of nights in a hotel with infinity pool, enjoying air conditioning, a big bedroom and a bath.  Dylan, an engineer from New Zealand, has done marvels with our gearbox and has quietly serviced and replaced bits of the boat I pretend to understand but don't really.  I've done some cooking and provisioning but there are a lot more spaces under the floorboards to fill before we set out for the next three months without access to supermarkets.  I'm loving this life and finding it hard to see the appeal of London, with attacks in Finsbury Park and tower block fires, despite the heatwave there.  I do miss friends and family and wish my mother a swift recovery from her hip operation - it would be lovely to be there to help - but increasingly, life on board feels "normal" as well as exciting.

PS photos have now been added to previous posts!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Marquesas to the Tuamotos - Guest Blog by Pippa and William

Following three flights from the UK and a hairy moment of driving our hire
car into a storm drain in Tahiti, we arrived on Nuku Hiva on 26th May where
Nicky, Carlos, Roger and Dinah had been waiting for us for over a week,
making Calliope the tail-end Charlie of the Rally. Of our 50kg of luggage
over half was spares and repairs for the boat along with gruyere, gin,
Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and a precious bottle of Chablis.

Ua Pou
The Marquesas Islands are volcanoes and, as the first chance that the
easterly wind has a chance to rise means they are very wet and very verdant. Straight off the plane and we were ushered on to four "small, fast ponies". Pippa's pony didn't like yellow. Not ideal when you are all wearing yellow rain ponchos. We had a great trek around the crater of the volcano which gave us some good, damp views. The next day was the first day of the Mothering Festival. It's not so much a Clintons Card and box of Ferrero Rocher here: more a buffet of plantain cooked nine ways accompanied by a Mother's Day Beauty Parade. We felt rather awkward as we were required to
rank the competitors in each age category as they danced and catwalked for us. For the sake of Operation Yewtree, we should also note that there were
lots of younger dancers too and they were all very good and everyone took
pictures of them and it was all innocent (except maybe the bearded guy in
the corner with the long-lensed camera who appeared to be on his own).

On the morning we left Nuku Hiva we had the alarming sight of 50 or so giant manta rays (up to 3 metre diameter wingspan) swimming round the murky waters of the bay putting everyone off taking a dip. We then sailed down to Ua Poa where we had a nice dinner and a refreshing plunge in a waterfall after a hike blighted by mud and lots of biting midges. We left Ua Poa on Monday 29th a couple of hours before sunset with a 450NM sail to the Tuamotos islands ahead of us. Raroia was the target, but very good wind (and an uncomfortable night's sleep) had made progress too good to arrive at Raroia
in the hours of light so the bearing was re-adjusted to Makemo, another atoll slightly further west. What can we say about the passage? Both of us were glad we had opted in for "passage-lite" - three nights and two days is
quite enough!

Known as the dangerous isles for their uncharted shallow bottoms, lots of
boomies (columns of coral), and strong currents at the passes into the
atolls, we all had our work cut our as spotters once inside Makemo's
enormous lagoon (40km by 10km). Upon arriving at our anchorage of this
postcard-perfect palm-fringed atoll we could hardly believe the intensity
and the variety of shades of blue water. We spent three wonderfully calm
nights in the lagoon, the first of which we were completely alone without
Drone testing on Makemo
any other life form for ten miles. On the beach were lots of hermit crabs gorging themselves on fallen coconuts and the odd wild chicken strangely enough. During our stay on Makemo we kayaked, played beach tennis, played with the drone and (always letting Dinah jump in first to take the edge off their hunger) went snorkelling with lots of marine life, including various reef sharks.

Fakarava was always an intended destination for its diving, known to be one of the best spots in the world. William was thus told to get his PADI qualification in a fairly short time frame (it is no mean feat), and after a weekend at Wraysbury dive centre just below runway 2 at Heathrow he was all set to join Pippa and Charles for the first south pass dive on the 6/6/17. Our ex-heroin addict dive instructor was long in confidence for women, but short in communication skills and it all started rather a bit too quickly.
Fakarava South Pass
Towards the end of spending 40 minutes in the film set of Finding Nemo where
we saw 100's and 100's of sharks, groupers, rays, tropical fish and felt like we were falling through space as the currents tumbled us over huge gardens of coral......our instructor Eric remembered that air tanks run out.
In a bit of a panic he tried to round us up for the 3 minute stop at 5m, but no one really knew what was going on. Charles was some 10m away and deeper busy taking pictures and not particularly bothered by Eric's commands. Eventually he decided simply to inflate his BCD and charge to the surface with no regard for the decompression stop or decapitation by propeller.
Fortunately he survived though Eric was left banging his forehead in frustration. In the end we completed three dives at Fakarava South.

This has definitely been the highlight of the trip. The snorkelling here is nearly (but not quite) as good so Nicky was not left out. For William (as ever) a golf analogy was required - his diving experience is the equivalent of going to the driving range a few times and then booking a round at Augusta. Will he be content to dive less rarefied corals in the future?

We have had a fantastic time in this exceptionally remote part of the world - 8 days without phone signal or internet, 6 days without seeing another soul and no shopping at all! We wish them well in the rest of their trip and we wish Roger and Dinah a relaxing shore-based recovery time. Now for
the 34 hour journey home...

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Trade Wind Sailing

Well, we are under way again from the Marquesas to the Tuamotus and we are
sailing full speed - 9 knots in 16-18 knots of breeze on a beam reach.
Pippa arrived on Friday with many spare parts and we have fixed lots of
problems - most important a gooseneck pin so we have full use of the
mainsail, but also a new control box for the mainsheet winch, a key terminal
for the domestic alternator which we had friend, a lock mechanism for the
forward heads, a new joystick for the bowthruster! So some important and
others nice to have. So our remaining problem is the gearbox which at lows
revs judders horribly and makes you think you might shake the engine off its
mounts. So we have on delivery to Tahiti from the UK a new gearbox, new
drive plates, and a new engine-to-propshaft-coupling which we almost
certainly don't need! Oh yes, and an engineer from NZ to do the work as
Tahiti doesn't seem confident to do it!

Pippa and William arrived Friday and were put straight onto Marquesan horses
and went for a ride in the Alpine pastures of Nuku Hiva. Then on Saturday
it was Fetes des Meres and we went to the party - 70% local - to judge the
most beautiful mothers in three ages categories, eat poisson cru and goat,
Ua Pou church
and then watch Marquesan dancing again. Great fun. Dinner aboard with more sashimi. The exchange rate is 2 coca colas equals 1kg of freshly caught yellowfin tuna equals 4 carrots. So the freezer has 3kg of yellowfin tuna in JUST IN CASE we don't catch any. Buying tuna this way is cheaper than buying the lures to catch it. Sunday morning was Fetes des Meres service where we listened to the beautiful singing without hymn books outside the packed church.

Makemo atoll land ahoy
Then to the island of Ua Pou and dinner ashore chez Jerome. A walk round town and a visit to the beautiful cathedral with a wonderful carved pew. A sail round the corner and then a walk up towards the amazing basalt volcanic plug spires and a swim in a gorgeous waterfall. Only downside is that you
2 different charts and a forward looking sonar to avoid boomies!
had to keep your shoulders underwater to avoid the mossies. We left at 5pm and now at 8am the following morning we are 130NM on out of the 485NM to Makemo where we will visit our first atoll. It has been windy so the atolls are full of water that has been blown into the middle and we are approaching springs, so it will be interesting navigating to find slack water. We are going too fast and will arrive in the dark on Thursday morning but it is such fun to have proper wind, good sails, Calliope in her element.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Catching up - Cruising the Marquesas

Baie des Vierges Fatu Hiva
Fatu Hiva
You'd think we have lots of time to write and let you, our faithful readers, know what we've been up to. And yet... I think it's partly that we just don't spend time at the computer, or even on our 'devices' - except when we go ashore and join the saddos at the nearest wifi spot, where it's a delight to hear from y'all. It's only this address, mailasail, where you need to keep it without pictures or links - feel free to write at length (though preferably without big attachments) to our usual .me and .icloud addresses.  I liked hearing from Susan about Islington's history exhibition, which she's helping to curate, for instance. I enjoy still being on the mailing list

Tiki Hiva Oa
for Book Club - and I read and loved the set book, Days without End, by Sebastian Barry. It's good to hear that traditions are being maintained in our absence and that the Skerritts popped into the O'Briens for a drink (or was it the other way round?) And it's sad to hear that Robin Mabey died - and that Kasper the dog is no longer with us. Life and its opposite go on,
even when we are far away.

And we really ARE far away! The Marquesas Islands are just dots in the Pacific on any normal map, and not much bigger on navigational charts. They

Calliope in Ahona Bay Nuku Hiva
lie three and a half hours flight northeast of Tahiti, which is the only way to get here by air. Very few travellers make it here, apart from yachts, and it's the very definition of unspoiled. We arrived at the easternmost island, Fatu Hiva, on 5 May, two days after my birthday, which was celebrated in style with candles on a birthday brownie-cake. Cards and presents from home and Switzerland had been smuggled aboard, which was lovely. We (that's Charles and I, Alex and Roger and Dinah Graffy) had taken almost exactly 19 days to cross from the Galapagos. It's hard to summarise a long passage like that: there were eventful moments, some more pleasurable than others (catching fish and eating it as sashimi minutes later was wonderful, briefly losing Alex overboard - though he was always attached - much less so) There were long periods of not much happening, which is not a bad thing in itself and was particularly calming on night watches. Gazing at the Milky Way and shooting stars, the hours passed quite
Local Boats Hiva Oa

Life on Fatu Hiva is quite simple and we found that with no local currency (the French Polynesian franc), everything we needed had to be bartered for. A lipstick (I'd equipped myself with 15 from the pound shop) bought two breadfruits, a large bunch of bananas and several pamplemousses (less bitter
than the grapefruit we're used to). When we wanted to buy a wooden bowl from an artisan carver, we gave him some sheets of sandpaper and a pair each of reading glasses for him and his wife. Alex and I went to church on Sunday and were thrilled by the singing and sung responses - not a hymn book
in sight. We went on an epic hike involving several wrong turns to a beautiful waterfall and swam in the pool below it. Alex joined in the locals' football practice and even played in their match, though he had to retire due to injured (and muddy) bare feet.

Manta Rays Hiva Oa
On to the next island, Hiva Oa we checked into French Polynesia officially at the gendarmerie and hired a car; this involved taking the keys out of the ashtray and driving it away, not so much as a 'may I see your driving licence?', let alone paperwork, even of the 'name and address' variety. We went on a fairly hair-raising drive, much of it on dirt tracks, finding sandy coves, dramatic cliffs and hillsides with a mind-blowing variety of trees - coconuts, palms, ferns, conifers and what we think were a kind of mimosa, with wide, feathery flat tops towering above all the others. Just a short dinghy ride from our anchorage, we snorkelled with manta rays a couple of metres across, very eerie in the opaque water (the Marquesas have lots of suspended nutrients in their waters - not so good for diving, but great for whales and dolphins). I spent a lively morning in the local primary school, fielding their questions (in French) about England and teaching them some basic phrases, then being shown their vegetable garden.

From Hiva Oa we went to neighbouring Tahuata island and had a great evening sharing sundowner drinks and snacks ashore with lots of other Oyster rally
Nuku Hiva dancers
crews -- the first time we'd seen many of them since the big crossing. Then on to Nuku Hiva, the capital of the Marquesas, where a fantastic party was laid on by Oyster including unbelievable warrior dancing - similar to New
Zealand Haka, very ferocious particularly as the men are tattooed all over and wore only grass skirts. We've been here for a week and will stay one more, awaiting Pippa and William's arrival. It was very hard to say goodbye to Alex after almost six weeks together, a really precious time, and to send him on his marathon journey to Buenos Aires (via Auckland!) to see whether he can find the kind of work he's looking for there. We've been for a drive round this island too, which yielded the anticipated banana and palm fringed
beaches, with a grilled lobster lunch stop, and the utterly unexpected northern end of the island, which is alpine and reaches 1200m above sea level: cows, conifers, hairpin bends and air so cool I had (for the first time since January) goosebumps. Yesterday we walked up a valley through
fertile gardens and agriculture to a waterfall - apparently the third highest in the world - but we couldn't get close enough and the river went
into the tightest of gorges, and then came back to a lunch of grilled goat,
Waterfall Valley Nuku Hiva
raw fish, papaya and other salad, and mango sorbet, all grown and prepared by a couple living the Marquesan self-sufficient life. $10 each including a  mass of pamplemousse, mangos, ginger, breadfruit and limes in return This evening we are anchored in TaiPaiVai bay, made famous by Herman Melville's Typee. No, there are no cannibals in sight. In fact, there is not a single sign of human habitation, only a few goats making their way along the cliffs. It's beautiful, remote and the only downside is that there are lots of little mosquitoes, called nono. We are a very long way from home and that's fine, but please do keep in touch. We will sail to Tahiti next, via the Tuamotus (otherwise known as the Dangerous Archipelago). As you know, I'm not the techie person on board but I hope that Charles will be able to post some photos soon. Love from Paradise!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

We have reached the Marquesas

It took 19 days from the Galapagos. We broke the gooseneck pin so had no mainsail for 15 days. However we only lost 1/2 days vs those who didn't have this problem. Winds were light, we only caught one amberjack and one lovely skipjack
tuna. Spirits remained high, food was delicious. Many books read. More to follow and other posts which failed to upload due to internet problems with the evil Inmarsat!
Land Ahoy

On passage again

I am sorry about lack of correspondence, but we has problems with the
Satphone logging on and downloading stuff we didn't ask for when we wanted
to send and receive emails, and then running up $70 of charges each time.
Now fixed and I hope you get this on mailasail or blogspot.

If you have been watching Yellowbrick you will see we have been going quite
slowly and losing ground to the fleet. Problem is no mainsail, which means we have the genoa and the staysail, and now we have the asymmetric ready to go when we get the right wind. Wind has been light for the last two days so there has been quite a lot of motoring and we are only doing 6 knots under
engine to conserve fuel. When the wind blows we have two efficient sail plans - either poled out genoa to one side and the staysail to the other which enables us to go 8-10 knots with good wind, or both foresails to one
side which works well with the wind on the beam and we can make 9 knots in 15 knots. We had that for about two hours this afternoon, after which the wind has dropped to about 10 knots and we make 6 knots. So only 150NM days.
We are now 850NM to go so next Friday seems like a likely arrival date in Fatu Hiva.

Roger and I did a lot of stainless cleaning today. Nicky has been embroidering, and Alex and Dinah have done a lot of reading. Fishing has been poor returns. We have had 4 fish hooked, landed one and lost 3 lures so far.

Nicky's birthday will be at sea. Happy May Bank Holiday weekend to you all!