Ice Dancer
April 2005
March 2005
November 2004

June 16, 2005

Palmyra lived up to its reputation as a wilderness jewel. Nesting terns of several varieties numbered in the thousands. Boobies and frigates abounded. What a cacophony. All Palmyra resources of the sea and land are protected under joint management of The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. It is occupied by a small staff from TNC and visited regularly by scientists from agencies and universities. The inference that less contact with humans has benefited these species is hard to miss.

Only 12 or 13 yachts each year visit Palmyra. The reason seems to be that most cruising yachts are sailboats and Palmyra is quite west. Sailboats wanting to return to Hawaii or make French Polynesia are faced with unfavorable winds. This is not an issue for Nordhavns, of course. We returned to Hawaii in six days, averaging better than seven knots, very close to the wind. As we left Palmyra, we brought aboard an 80-pound ahi or yellowfin tuna. The sashimi was heavenly.

While at Palmyra, our Iridium satellite telephone and therefore e-mail access failed. We continued to communicate with ham radio, so family and friends were able to follow our progress toward Hawaii on the Pacific Seafarers Net web site. Other than a few electronic failures or lapses, we had no mechanical failures after 6,200 nautical miles on this trip, in three months. It is a credit to the design and execution of the Nordhavn and the suppliers and installers of the fine equipment that we enjoy, on board.

We returned to our slip at Ko Olina Marina, near Honolulu on June 13. We plan a week-long trip to Hanalei Bay on Kauai. When we return to Oahu, we will prepare Ice Dancer and leave her in her slip while we fly our home in Anchorage, Alaska for the summer.

Dick and Gail Barnes
Aboard Ice Dancer
Nordhavn 50 #22

June 2, 2005

We are bound for Palmyra Atoll from Christmas Island, midday on Thursday. We expect to arrive at Palmyra at about the same time on Saturday.

Our run from Raiatea to Christmas was uneventful. Fishing was fruitful once the seas calmed. It was a mixed bag with wahoo (ono), yellowtail, dorado (mahi) and yellowfin tuna (ahi) for dinner fish, and marlin, sailfish and skipjack tuna just for exercise and release.

We arrived at 2 a.m. in very heavy rain. The rain obscured radar images. Our electronic charting of this area was poor. The worst was the non-detailed, world vector chart by Nobeltec. It had Christmas Island misplaced by 25 miles. We note that Fanning and Washington Islands, which are on our current route, are similarly mis-charted on the vector charts by about 15 miles. Our older, raster electronic charts of this area are imperfect, but at least within one-quarter mile of actual position. Our new paper chart of the island was drawn in the 1950's, with unknown horizontal datum, meaning that you cannot rely on your GPS for precise navigation. Our strategy is to find and confirm all islands and reefs near our course by radar. On Wednesday morning, we motored offshore waiting for daybreak before finding an anchorage.

Our stop at Christmas Island was for fuel and rest. The local Port of London saw it as an economic development opportunity. We were boarded by nine officials in three waves, and one came twice. We ferried them back and forth in our Zodiac from a wharf ladder with rather large surge. These islanders, men and women, were fully filled out. None were under 250 pounds. It was a chore to get them on and off the dinghy without a misadventure. Their due diligence was to drink Coke on ice at our saloon table and give us forms to fill out.

We took on 1,500 liters (396 gal) of fuel from a tanker truck parked high above on the wharf. We med-moored the boat, meaning we anchored off and tied stern lines to the dock structure. Meanwhile we were exposed to swells, current and wind. But, it all worked out.

Fuel charges equated to about $3.00 per gallon, which was the same as French Polynesia before tax exemption or $2.00. Unexpected was the bill from the Port Captain. We were charged for pilot fees (in and out), agency fees, the officials that came out for colas, moorage fee for one day and a fee applied to the size of boat. Altogether, the cost was $595 Australian or $458 US. Well, if that is what it takes to use their dock and get fuel, maybe that is OK.

With extra fuel on board, we can pick up the pace for the remainder of our journey. Not knowing the situation at Christmas, we slowed to maximize fuel economy, in case we needed to make Hawaii without refueling.

This morning, we removed a battery-bank disconnect switch that failed at some point. Fuel filter contamination problems seem to be over. We continue to move all new fuel through a transfer pump filter before use in the engine and generator.

Seas and weather are fair.

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