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
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.