"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
May 30, 2008
Position: S23 07.22 W134 57.98 Rikitea Village, Mangareva Island, Gambier Island Group, French Polynesia (rick e tay uh) (Mangareva means Floating Mountain in Polynesian)
Well, mis amigos, we left you last in nail biting suspense about an announced dinghy trip to a nearby island. We didn't go. With Ken the Singlehander weather front announcement MS wasn't comfortable crossing 4-5nm of open water in the dink if weather moved in. So we quit procrastinating and decided to adjust the generator valves, something I am embarrassed to say we had never done. Adjusting the valves became its own nail biting adventure. It started innocently enough digging in the bottom of tool box number three for a 36mm (1 7/16") socket to turn the crank and lugging tool box number 1 to the salon to eliminate the half dozen trips for thisa's and that's. Next, off came the overflow hose, the breather hose and the valve cover. Whoops!!! There was a tinkling sound. Nightmare of nightmares. An unnoticed flat washer on top of the valve cover disappeared INSIDE the head (engine). Not good. Looking quite a while with small flashlights I eventually found it standing on end on top of exhaust valve #3's lifter leaning against the push rod (deep inside!). I magnetized two screw drivers trying to lift it out. No good. Next was a dental pick with a 90 degree bend on one end. No good. To cut the drama and to much relief the %#&%*)@$& flat washer came out with a simple tool made from a length of safety wire and a small hook bent on one end.
The valve adjustment itself was different than any other valves I had ever adjusted (not that many to be truthful). Without boring you with details we followed directions in the Northern Lights Operator's Manual, triple checked everything (nearly every valve was quite loose meaning more fuel burn and smoking) and buttoned it back up. Mary started the gen in the pilothouse with my hand on the gen shut off lever in case there were ISSUES. There were none. It purrs like the day we got her and much better than before. A one hour job turned in a tense few hours...typical. So life is good again...typical.
Its not just Egret with boat issues. Prior to the valve adjustment we went over to help a French boat who spotted Egret's Dickinson Antarctic diesel heater during our hooch, wine and cinnamon bun get together and said they had the same heater but had never started it. The previous owner had used it in Alaska. Having run ours every day for nearly a year we had some experience. Once aboard he opened the valve from the day tank to the heater and asked if the overflow hose that emptied into the shallow pan below the heater was sufficient. No sooner that he had spoken those words the carburetor overflowed diesel into the pan. We told him how to clean the carburetor and left. He was also going to make a catch tank for the overflow. To continue, we went back the next day and found the combustion chamber full of scale so cleaned that for him and showed him the tricks of lighting, plus other do's and dont's. Being a long term cruiser used to problem solving he caught on right away. Later on the third trip back he had the boat heated like an oven with all the hatches open (his wife bailed to shore) to show me how the flame was burning. Perfecto. A few minutes of my time made his day and put another problem behind. Other cruisers have done the same for us. Information sharing is common and priceless. It is how we all learn.
Wed AM. Yup, island exploring by dink day. The closest island is private so we headed for the next closest island (Frank stayed behind to read and smoke a cigar in peace). It was about a 40 minute run on slow plane. Three other cruisers were anchored in the small sandy area between the reefs along with a homemade aluminum pontooned catamaran deal with a house on top of the hulls and a centerline outboard. They must be locals because the cat isn't seaworthy for long distance. The entrance to the anchorage is shallow so only catamarans or sailboats with swing/lifting keels can enter. We zipped by the anchorage and the small island where they were anchored and ran to a 100' white sand beach at the far (eastern) end of the main island. Paradise...again...still. We had our own private beach for exploring. MS took off wading and looking at tings underwater using her look bucket while YT scampered (or rather slowly climbed) up the hill behind the beach. In time we came to the ridge at the top overlooking both sides of the island. From up high the reefs were so pronounced and easy to read but under way in the overcast low light it wasn't quite the same. Again, the view was spectacular. Tropic birds were soaring below the ridge in pairs. They are beautiful with their long tail feathers floating behind looking like a child's kite. Unfortunately with the overcast sky I couldn't get the camera shutter speed high enough to take pictures of their wing markings from above.
Speaking of cameras, I have been experimenting using a polarized filter to deepen the blues in general picture taking when the sky is in the background and cutting thru the glare when shooting water scenes. The polarization is adjustable by turning the filter from straight up, full polarization, to 90 degrees, little or no polarization. The only downside is we can't use the sun shade without a lot of trouble, however on the shots where we need a sun shade we have full polarization so it doesn't matter. Today's pictures show the results of polarization.
So a few hours were spent putzin and exploring. While having a trail mix snack sitting out of the sun near the beach we played throwing raisins to beach crabs and watching their antics racing back to their hole with the booty, trying to steal a raisin from their buddies and so on. Beats watching soaps. We left and ran along the beach stopping at the tiny village dock. There are about 7-8 inhabited homes on the island. From the dock there was a raised grass causeway lined with flowers and trees that was stunning. Everything was freshly trimmed and raked. A few folks stopped their work and waved. At the end of the causeway there was a church that would hold 100 people. More picture taking then walking down another raised causeway, again lined with flowers and tropical trees that disappeared into the jungle. Inside the jungle we came upon a group of abandoned stone homes slowly being reclaimed by the jungle. Roofs are the first to go. Next, trees grow inside the house and near the walls. The tree roots eventually find their way into cracks in the rock walls and ever so slowly grow and split the walls apart reclaiming the jungle. What happened to the people is a mystery. Perhaps when nuclear testing was going on the people abandoned their homes for a safer location. Its a mystery. The island has no vehicles of any type unless you include wheelbarrows. All the villagers did have nice outboard boats for running to the 'big' island. The trip back was a bit dicey with heavy overcast and not being able to read the water looking for coral. We took the safe way back and ran thru the markers back to the boat. Yes, a bit of rain as well. Another great day.
Our favorite wild and crazy Frenchman, Antoine just returned from Pitcairn Island 3 minutes ago and idled by Egret. He was able to anchor off Pitcairn and go ashore for a couple hours. Antoine is a true sailor and adventurer. He just completed a 600nm singlehanded round trip on the slight chance of being able to go ashore for a few hours. He is off to anchor now. I'm sure during the next days we'll see more of him. (You Antoine fans remember, wild and crazy is the hair, not the person).
After Antoine left YT was chumming the dozen or so remoras or pilot fish living under the boat with left over noodles (fish that attach themselves to a host fish using a sucker on top of their head; sharks, manta rays, whale sharks , etc) to be able to take a picture with the sun overhead. The remoras' excitement feeding brought a giant trevally swimming by to check out the action. Sooooo, YT ran below, grabbed the first bait casting rod in the rack, tied on a leader and large swimming plug and raced back to the cockpit. Yup, still there. Seconds later the GT (as locals call them) snapped and we were off to the races. The first problem was the rod I grabbed was a light 12lb test rod and a small Shimano Calcutta 250 bait casting reel with about 100 yards of line. Not enough line or rod to stop this monster. So with a small gaff I got into the dink to let the GT pull us away from Egret and the danger of getting cut off on the bottom or anchor chain. It is a long story but some time later I was able to slip the gaff thru the GT's thin membrane behind it's jaw and pull it in. We raced back to Egret, took a couple quick pictures, then Mary and I jumped back in the dink. She held the fish upright using the gaff and I idled the fish along until it was trying hard to swim off the gaff. We released it and off it went. A GT is much like the jack crevalles we used to catch in South Florida. Pound per pound they fight as hard as anything in the ocean. This one weighed in the 30lb category. (Picture on the next VofE)
Later Antoine returned with his Pitcairn pictures on a memory stick. We all looked at them and were happy he was able to land, even if it was just for 2 hours. We copied the pictures and will send them back with Frank in two weeks (along with Egret's pictures) to forward to the high school classes in Calif who researched the Pitcairners. We gave Antoine some silicone seal to repair his leaking windlass before he heads out to one of his favorite anchorages inside the atoll. Yup, we ALL work on our boats in exotic places. There are NO exceptions.
So now we have to think about leaving this beautiful place in the world. Frank has a June 15th plane flight and it is a 900nm hop up to Papeete, Tahiti. Any spare time before Frank's flight we'll spend cruising around the island of Tahiti and nearby Moorea. Fortunately we have weather coming so we can drag out feet until Monday or so. OMNI Bob's latest observation is below.
What will the weekend bring? Don't have a clue. Ciao.
Captain, thanks for the update. If you needed an excuse to stay longer, I may have one for you. We are watching a area of low pressure to the west and will move east/south if you during the next 2-3 days. As it approaches, increasing W-NW winds at least 20-30kt (gusty 35-40kt very possible) with building NW-W 3-5mtr sea/swells will develop from Pitcairn islands NW-WNW toward Tahiti during Fri/30th and continue through Sat/31st.
As of now, leaving Sun/01st or later should give these conditions time to subside and allow high pressure to develop and take control allowing for easier wind/seas to develop to Tahiti.
May 27, 2008
Position: S23 07.22 W134 57.98 Rikitea Village, Mangareva Island, Gambier Island Group, French Polynesia (rick e tay uh) (Mangareva means Floating Mountain in Polynesian)
Well, mis amigos, grande hike today (Sat) to the top of the western mountain on the southern end of Mangareva. The eastern mountain is a more difficult hike in steepness but easier in undergrowth. Both MS and I lost our sunglasses in the undergrowth but we did manage to find hers on the return trip. The 48 day at sea Alaska couple were with us. His wife peeled off early because of 48 days using the patch and was still a bit wobbly. The %#*&(^@ trail was completely overgrown. The savior was occasionally we ran across a tree with a red spray paint trail marker. When in doubt we just headed up. We slipped a bit, got stuck by bushes with spikes on the branches, bled a bit, tromped thru yesterdays mud but put in the kilometers and in the end came to the clearing leading to the top. FINALLY reaching the ridge leading to the top we could see the entire island with the surrounding atoll and inshore reefs. Needless to say the vista was spectacular. Somehow we'll work the pictures in. MS was the first to reach the top. The last bit was a bit touchy with steep drop offs on both sides. The ocean side was sheer. Geesh. Once at the top we sat in the cool breeze and tried to never forget what we were seeing. Never in our travels have we seen anything slightly resembling the atoll, the particular type of reef systems or the surrounding smaller islands. Years ago when MS and I took our first trip out of Fla (1969-70 or so) we crossed the Fla/Ga border I told her "stick with mee, babee, and I'll show you the world". I have repeated those words a number of times thru the years and more often in recent years. This was one of those times...special. You get the picture. The return was a bit easier, about one fourth the time.
Poor Frank made the top of the ridge but not the summit. His starboard Teva sandal had a blow out a couple days ago and he repaired it using a rigging needle and sail twine but on today's hike his port Teva blew out big time ripping out two straps. So he limped down the mountain with a cute black plastic bag from 48 Days tied around the Teva and his foot. Yup, got a great picture of bag foot with its stylish plastic bow.
48 Days have friends in a smaller sailboat who left the Galapagos the same day and are STILL 800nm away from Mangareva. He said they are getting a bit discouraged. I imagine so. We heard thru Ken the Singlehander oil hit $135 (USP) a barrel the other day. Perhaps after years of decline sail will make a resurgence. Certainly little white fiberglass ships like Egret make even more sense now. Even if you simply follow the sun north and south along the U.S. east coast, the Pacific NW, UK/Mediterranean or wherever this is REAL economy if you want to travel by boat on reasonable amounts of fuel.
Sun morning. The three of us killed two pots of coffee sitting in the flybridge listening to church music floating over the water. Beautiful and even better without competition from Sat night partygoers singing on the government dock like last Sunday. As we mentioned before, nothing happens in Rikitea on Sunday. For us it will be a boat day changing the generator oil, watermaker filter, adjusting the generator valves after it cools and general putzing. Perhaps we'll even give jewelry making a go with mother of pearl shells. We picked up a big batch from Fritz, our shoreside German buddy. Later this morning we'll invite the other boats in the anchorage for an late afternoon get together aboard Egret. We'll prepare the flybridge and boat deck with inflatable fenders for places where everyone can sit. MS is going to make a double batch of cinnamon rolls and I'm sure others will bring tings as well. Not a bad way to enjoy Memorial Day weekend. Yes, we have our American flag proudly flying below the French courtesy flag. YT is a veteran and appreciate other's efforts and sacrifices they made in the past and are making today.
So boat chores we did. Frank repaired his blown out Teva with sail twine...again. Frank the Butcher later tried his hand at grinding the backside of a oyster shell for making jewelry. He is still working on it. The day ended with 10 other yachties aboard Egret for Mary's rolls and other tings. One French boat brought two jugs of local squeeze and a recipe we'll pass along. Simple hooch the locals make. Take the juice from one large pappmouse (giant grapefruit - use two local), add 800 grams of sugar (I would add less) and 4 liters of water. In two days you'll have a slightly alcoholic drink that isn't bad cold. They said you can use any fruit for fermentation; bananas, papaya, mangos, etc. So we had hooch, wine and cinnamon rolls. Quite a combination. YT stuck with tea. Easier. It was a great multi cultural evening as most yachtie get togethers are. German, Scottish, French (4), US - Alaska - Arkansas - North Carolina, Florida and Ken the Singlehander (don't know what state). We traded tales and learned about local fishing. One of the French boats, Eliot, has been here two months and has befriended a local fisherman. They fish together quite a lot, above and below water. The local fisherman furnishes the single high end resort in Rikitea with fish and knows EXACTLY what fish taken where are ciguatera free. The Eliot crew are intrepid explorers spending a lot of time in out of the way places including traveling over 600nm up a river to Paraguay taking a year. (The river starts between Argentina and Uruguay) He is a big fly fisherman so I enjoyed hearing those stories as well. After, they spent 5 years in Patagonia including a trip to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. South Georgia Island is the place I would rather go than any place in the world but its not to be. Lots of issues. So the evening went. It was a great/late night with everyone enjoying themselves.
And now its Monday morning. Memorial Day. The morning sun has the village and boats in the anchorage lit up, Mary is making breakfast, a Righteous Brothers CD is playing in the background, the clothes are finished in the dryer, the second pot of coffee is almost ready, Frank is in the flybridge pinching himself to see if this is real or a dream. He would give anything to have his sweetie here to share this. She NEEDS to be here. His tears are rotting my shoes. Not bad mis amigos. What will today bring? Don't have a clue.
Much later. Grande hike today. Dogs are barking. The three of us crossed the spine of the island on the next crossover north of the one we took the other day. Great...again. On the west side Frank went back to buy eggs from the chicken farm and MS and I walked the entire length of the west side of the island then over the top at the north end and back along the east side coastal road. We have said it a number of times before BUT this place is really special. One interesting sight was a palm tree growing 15' off the ground in the fork of a huge canopy tree (what we call the tree). Growing next to the tree is a 75' high coconut tree that curves over the big tree exactly above the fork. It doesn't take Sherlock to figure that one out. Cool. Along one west side sandy beach I had stopped to look at the shallow water. It looked exactly like a bonefish flat in the Florida Keys. I swear I saw a bonefish in the distance feeding. Same shape, same movements. I climbed a high rock to see better but lost the fish in the glare. At the same time a small stingray swam by, again just like in the Keys. Nostalgia beach. After returning to the boat and lunch we all had to work on nap chores. We stopped by Ken the Singlehander's boat inviting him to join us tomorrow (Tue) on a trip across the lagoon by dinghy to another island for a bit of exploring. He said there is a front moving thru so we'll see. We are so protected here in the lagoon we don't bother checking on weather but it could be an issue crossing the 4-5 miles in a dink during a puff.
Tuesday morning early. Weather looks great so we'll leave shortly on our grand dinghy exploring adventure. Ciao.
May 23, 2008
Position: S23 07.22 W134 57.98 Rikitea Village, Mangareva Island, Gambier Island Group, French Polynesia (rick e tay uh) (Mangareva means Floating Mountain in Polynesian)
Well, mis amigos, the black pearl odyssey is over after some dead end leads, unacceptable pearls, overpriced pearls and finally today (Thursday 5-22) we connected. Here is the black pearl business as we see it. First, the pearls aren't black but mostly dark to medium gray. They are named black pearls from the black lipped oyster where they are made artificially by seeding. The oysters are seeded with two different irritants, then the oyster forms a protective coating to protect itself making the pearl as a result. It is an 18 month process to seed and grow a mature pearl. The harvested pearls are rated in an A,B,C and so on rating. AB are the acceptable pearls for resale, or I should say high end resale. Pearls are rated by size, color, lack of flaws, how round (round is the preferred shape) and very important is the luster. The most desirable are the pearls with the bright green luster when viewed in the sun. The best way to describe the luster is we all know what a drop of diesel fuel looks like in still water with multi hues of colors radiating outward. Diesely is how some locals describe the look. Light and colors radiate out of the pearl in different lights.
Next, all pearls are supposed to be sold ONLY to the pearl coop in Papeete, Tahiti so everyone gets the same price for their pearls that are graded and valued by the values we mentioned above. Some pearls are stolen by the pearl farm workers who try and sell a few themselves to unsuspecting souls. Because the Gambiers have almost non-existent visitors except for yachties, most of which are on tight budgets, farm labor theft is minimal. We had no one approach us nor did we hear of anyone being approached. The Gambiers, according to two locals with the same story, have the most exceptional black pearls in the industry. The far majority of black pearls come from the Tuamotu archipelago of islands east of and north of the Gambiers. Tonito said you could throw 5 Gambier pearls in a batch of 1000 pearls taken to Papeete and would be picked out instantly by the graders. Now the problem is to get a pearl farm owner to sell us a few. This takes referrals, that in turn take someone who is 'in'. Its a long story but our German, German connection to another German and finally to two pearl farm owners. We were given a name to ask for in one and were hand delivered to the second where we eventually settled on our pearls.
So, we got sucked into the pearl deal and being the greedy opportunist YT is we over spent buying high quality small pearls and two unique pearls. One will be the anchor pearl for MS's whatever she decides to have made. It is oblong but highly diesely. Beautiful. The second is oblong as well, a rare light color and has what appears as rings around a satellite. Cool as well. We paid about 1/3 of Papeete price. The other issue is fake pearls. With the high value of these somewhat rare pearls devious minds are already producing plastic pearls that are beautiful with the same brilliance. AND some have made their way to Papeete. So, when the owner of a pearl farm has a bag of pearls he, or she in the first case, dumps a plastic bag of graded pearls on a white towel on a table outside their home... we get a warm and fuzzy feeling these guys are the Real Deal.
Along with the pearls we were given a batch of oyster shells. They are beautiful in their own right. After seeing some jewelry made from mother of pearl shells YT got inspired and will make some jewelry myself using the pearls. First will be a simple setting mostly completed already. The second is a bit more complicated. Having watched the Southern Cross outside the pilothouse window for the past weeks on watch, AND being from a part of the world where you can't see the Southern Cross YT is going to fabricate a mother of pearl background with 4 pearls representing the 4 stars we can see. Two stars are brighter than the other two. The brighter stars will be represented by larger pearls than the second two. Last night I drew the pattern looking at the SC and marked the brighter stars. The SC isn't a perfect cross. The jewelry will duplicate the stars so will not be a perfect cross as well. So, we'll start by using a 4" grinder with a flap disc (2 different grits) to smooth the backside of the shell, then we'll use a cut off wheel to cut the rough shape and finish up with a plethora of dremel tool accessories. We'll see if we survive with all fingers in tact.
Todays hike after the pearl business was up and up, then down, north, up and down then back to Rikitea. The first hike with Frank and MS was high up to a saddle over looking both sides of the island. The coral reefs on the way to the anchorage seem so simple from up high. Not quite the same at sea level. To the west was a white sand beach, a shallow area and pearl farms in the deeper holes. Taking the coastal road north was like walking in a nature preserve, not really - just how it is naturally. Flowers, trees with flowers, clear water with colorful reefs, paradise. Frank headed back to the dock and MS and I kept walking north expecting to soon hit a dead end and turn around. No dead end. Eventually we came to a marked trail that crossed the high ridge dividing the east and west coasts. Off we went thru the jungle. Soon we came to an Indiana Jones setting with an abandoned stone house with trees growing thru where the roof used to be. Makes you wonder who lived there and what happened. It was humid but not uncomfortable in the cool air/shade. In due time we topped the ridge where someone years ago built an arched tunnel and short wall. Photo opportunity then off downhill to a ridge overlooking the anchorage and surrounding reefs. Twenty minutes later we were heading back to the boat and stopped by Ken the Singlehander who arrived this morning taking a week longer than Egret from Easter Island to Mangareva. Not much wind. In lotsa wind Ken is faster than Egret while we are stretching fuel.
Along those lines Adiamo (Scottish/German) arrived after forty eight days (48 days) from Juan de Fernandez. Andiamo left days before us. No wind.....drifted for days.....tried to head north for the Marquesas, no wind....turned SW to Mangareva. They were VERY tired on arrival and VERY happy to be here. We saw no sign of life from their boat until late this afternoon when he launched the dink. The day before Americans on a sloop arrived after forty six (46) days from the Galapagos. VERY, VERY, etc. No wind. No wind is wonderful for our little white fiberglass ship. We can power thru highs, no problema. So the anchorage is filling up. We have met three friendly French couples on boats in the anchorage. One couple traveling on a catamaran has their three home schooled kids along. What an opportunity for those children. Another spent 4 years in the Deep South doing a bit of chartering and another year in the Chilean Channels. The third couple have been professional sailors/crew for their career and now are cruising in their own aluminum sloop. Our German friends on Kira (Halburg Rassy ketch) are leaving today for Hao in the Tuamotus then will be in Papeete the same time our friends arrive early July. One grande mobile family slowly moving north and west.
Gotta go play. Ciao.
May 22, 2008
Position: S23 07.22 W134 57.98 Rikitea Village, Mangareva Island, Gambier Island Group, French Polynesia (rick e tay uh) (Mangareva means Floating Mountain in Polynesian)
Well, mis amigos, the stupido mouse quit working so here we are with a touch pad trying to pound out this drivel. Grrrrrrr. On a more positive note we took two hikes today, the first up high to the French meteo station (weather station) on the south end of the island and met the young meteorologist who gave us the latest two days forecast. Our German friend hiking with us is trying to get out of Dodge but we still have NW winds for a bit with two lows passing just south of Mangareva. So he'll sit or try to sail to weather, something he really doesn't want to do jogging between the 'Dangerous Isles', the Tuamotu Islands on his way to his next stop in Hao (middle of the Tuamotu's). After the meteo station we trekked further on along the south end of the island and came to a Chinese farmers farm. We bought 4 heads of cabbage and a handful of onions, cut and pulled from the field while we were waiting. On the way back we looked out to sea and saw Tonikos island in the distance. Cool. Yes, we got some more great pics.
We are slowly coming to grips with the new camera and are really enjoying trying to learn more about photography. Most of we cruisers have retired from a somewhat busy life. That former energy and exertion needs to be channeled into other diversions. So, we enjoy our cameras among other tings. Mary has recently taken up her video camera again and is taking a bit of film. Someday when we have no hair/blue hair we'll have some young 60ish whipper snapper transpose these tapes on some yet to be invented video media so we can sit on our bed pans holding hands and drool together watching our childish antics.
The second hike was just MS and I trekking north along the coastal road. Ya know, this island is really beautiful. Everything is so green and Polynesian. The water is clean. The people are so nice. There is fruit growing wild everywhere. Every cruising guide says not to take anything because everything is owned by someone. So we won't. We got back at dark and found the catamaran dink against the seawall. The stern anchor line either got cut by an outboard or the knot came undone. Tomorrow early I will go check it out and hopefully will be able to retrieve our anchor and chain. We used to have 3 dinghy anchor/chain/rode set ups. One got stolen in Syracuse, Sicily, we lost one with the Zodiac in Easter Island and now this one. The one lost with the Zodiac was particularly painful. We had a tiny bruth anchor, 4' of 10mm (heavy) stainless steel chain and 100' of 3/8 black braided line. All tucked into a la di da nylon mesh bag. A real yuppy set up. We may have one more small anchor if I didn't get rid of it in a clean up detail. With a hard dink at times we use two small anchors; one stern anchor and one for the beach. With an inflatable we generally use just one. Geesh. Back to rocks for an anchor. So that was Monday.
So today is Tue early. Grande heavy rain. Sweet boat washing rain. Actually we now have such an abundance of RO water (reverse osmosis) from the watermaker so we have washed the boat from solar panels to the rails. We use the 25 GPH watermaker to load the generator while charging the batteries so need to GET RID of water. Two showers a day, etc. Amazing, feast or famine. If the rain lets up we have a black pearl, German-German-French connection. A bit complicated, the German boat anchored next to us has a German buddy on shore who has a truck AND a French jeweler friend living on the far end of the island. Occasionally the jeweler gets paid for his work in pearls. So, with our German sailboat friend as a translator we'll take his German friend and his truck to the French jeweler. The truck only fits three (in Rikitea no one may ride in the back of a truck. Now, the local German REALLY likes his sauce so we have to catch him early in the morning while he is capable of driving. The local German (retired French Foreign Legion) likes music, booze and good or bad women but doesn't have either (good or bad). So he's down to music and booze. Frank copied a few of our CDs to give soggy music man. So we'll see if MS ends up with a black pearl. Got all this?? Later.....got rained out although we did recover the anchor and chain....a good ting.
Next day (Wed). I wasn't happy with the black pearls for MS, however we have two more leads. More to follow along these lines.
We have solved the Antoine mystery thanks to VofE follower Normand Beaupre from Quebec writing on the VofE Forum. Antoine did say he had circumnavigated twice when he visited Egret. "Wild and crazy" came from his wild hair going in every direction, round glasses and a never ceasing smile. Picture 2 is Antoine's Banana Split leaving Mangareva.
Subject: Antoine Questions: I've been reading your story since the beginning. I foud that very interesting. I use to have sail boats, and now i'm dreaming of my next boat: Nordhavn. I read today that you met a wild and crazy frenchman whose name is Antoine. This man use to be one of the most popular singer in France in the 70s. He was not satisfied with is life, he bought a sail boat, left everything and sailed alone aroud the world. Since that time, he sailed around the world a second time, wrote many books and made very interesting DVD. You can go on his web site to learn more about him: www.antoine.tv.
Wed PM. We are closing in on the black pearl deal. Tomorrow should be the day. Ya know, its time for a cruising commercial. Before dark Franko and I were in the flybridge working on our glass of beer and noodling over what we were both were seeing at the time. Sepcaular sunset, smoke rising slowly over the village as they burned their afternnoon lawn sweepings and the out islands lit by the setting sun. Mary was below listening to music and looking out as well. It is a comfortable temperature, there is no wind and it is quiet. I was ragging on Frank about selling his N40 Darlin (he has Darlin listed for sale) and told him he should ship Darlin to Papeete, Tahiti, move it here to Rikitea and put in a mooring. How can it get any better than this? An island that is beautiful beyond belief, no touristas, yachties moving thru, nice local people, an airport nearby and a whole archipelago of islands between here and Tahiti AND a bombproof anchorage. He and his sweetie could spend years here as a part time member of the community then ship or run the boat to another not to miss spot. Simple, no wave bashing and again, as good as it gets. Just now the local outrigger canoe's raced by practicing for the July festivities in Papeete. Ho hum, yes we'll be there. Ball's in your court mis amigos.
Thur AM. Another day in paradise. We'll fire this VofE into space before it becomes a novel. Pearl day today. Ciao.
May 19, 2008
Position: S23 07.22 W134 57.98 Rikieta Village, Mangareva Island, Gambier Island Group, French Polynesia (Mangareva means Floating Mountain in Polynesian)
Well, mis amigos, Egret's anchor TK dropped into 62' of opaque water at 2:25 PM local, 2225Z, Friday, 5-16-08, off Rikitea, the Gambier's only inhabited village. We set 290' of chain and gave it a BIG pull in the thick gray mud then let the Lugger run in reverse for a while longer at 1200 RPM to completely bury TK. The anemometer was reading 2.1 knots. There were NO swells, no movement for the first time since leaving mainland Chile. Everything was quiet. Different. Armchair sailoring/Monday morning quarterbacking, the trip thru the reefs was not an issue. At the time it WAS an issue. We had two laptops running with three different screens, radar and depth sounder working overtime. Frank was in the flybridge with Mary on the bow watching ahead. The C-Map charting was spot on. We rode the line, exaggerated the turns, quickly figured out the missing marker around a shallow reef and followed the markers in. Close to the village the C-Map charts were confusing so we dead reckoned our way in following the markers , no problema (by now I was in the flybridge running the boat). The South Pacific uses buoyage system A, green right returning (US, Canada and South America uses system B).
After arrival and enjoying not being a dry boat any longer we were visited by a wild and crazy Frenchman, Antoine from a yellow catamaran, Banana Split. We have read about Antoine in the past but can't remember what it is he does (singer?) but is a French personality of some sorts. He left this morning for Pitcairn, will return to Hao in the Tuamotu Islands then back to Tahiti to pick up his girlfriend. Perhaps we'll meet again. We gave him our anchorage information for Pitcairn received from a German boat, who in a long line of passing alongs came from a professional British charter sailboat who visits Pitcairn once a year with intrepid guests. Another example how we all take care of each other.
So, what's it like?? The anchorage is facing a slightly curving shoreline with scattered small neat modern homes along the waterfront. There are a few 500 meter (1500+) peaks rising behind with various trees including some umbrella canopy trees we haven't seen before. And yes, clusters of tall coconut trees. Very green except for some vertical rock faces. Also, we don't see any evidence of the red volcanic rock like in Pitcairn or the Juan de Fernandez Islands. There is a paved road behind the waterfront leading from one end of the island to the other along with a few connecting roads between the coastal road and the peaks starting just behind the waterfront. There has to be more USP (US Pesos) per kilometer in automobiles than anywhere in the world. We haven't walked the entire road system yet (yuk) but it isn't much more than 4-5 kilometers (2 1/2-3 miles) at best. We have seen Lexus SUVs, big Toyota trucks, 2 Land Rovers and so on. Yup, black pearl farming here is profitable and what else do the locals have to spend their money on? The German sailor we met in Puerto Montt spends several months a year here fixing tings and making grande buckos. It costs $1200 each way to send their precious steel stallions to Papeete, Tahiti for repair and back much less the repair costs. The German said the biggest problem is local contaminated gas so its usually just a filter change/cleaning. At times it brings him $500 for an hour's work and the locals are so happy to not ship their car away for a month they pay him readily. We have learned a little about black pearls already and will explain the industry and pearls in detail when we gather the facts.
We were concerned about going ashore without checking in with the gendarme (police) which are closed on Sat & Sun. (There are no custom/immigration officers here). A German boat anchored in front of Egret told us we could check in on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...doesn't matter. The German boat was over last night for C&C (cocktails and conversation). They have already checked out for Hao in the Tuamotus. Because of a stiff NW wind predicted thru Wed (direction of travel) they won't leave until Thurs. No problema. Usually a boat only gets 24 hours after check out to get under way. Our kind of bureaucracy.
Once ashore for our hike we ran into Tonito (Tow nee tow) (John in Polynesian) an ex-American (Tonito let his US citizenship lapse after exasperation in dealing with bureaucracy over his Polynesian wife's citizenship) who has lived in Rikieta the past 28 years. Tonito's two children live here as well, one is a schoolteacher and the other has a pizza shop open on the weekends and like most islanders does 'whatever' during the week to make up the balance. Tonito has laid back island mentality and helped us with local information. Tomorrow we'll try and see if the post office will change USP for francs. Frank tried the local-Chinese run store who USED to change dollars but no more. So, if the post office won't change money we won't be able to buy anything here. Tonito said "if the girl is there you have a chance. If the guy is there he MAY change money IF its a good day. If not, NO". I'm sure we'll see more of Tonito. He is interested in visiting the Deep South. We invited him aboard to look at the atlas and show him where we think he needs to go. This will probably happen in time. Island time...today (Sun), tomorrow...Thurs, Fri...
Ashore, we walked around a bit bonjouring everyone checking tings out. (If the average working vocabulary is 500-750 words we're about 499-749 words short in French) Our new camera is still smoking from all the flower pictures, landscape pictures and so on. Flowers everywhere. Some of the local women driving by have a frangepangi flower stuck behind one ear. The exploring and hiking are going to be great.
Sun AM. In Rikieta everything stops on Sunday. A few hardy Saturday night party goers lying on the government dock trying to sing are disrupting the church music floating across the anchorage from an early morning service. The church music is beautiful. There must be 25 cars parked outside the church. Today will be a boat day. Oil changes and a small list of minor tings.
Later... Oil change for the main, yup, the oil change pump impeller shed a blade so had to fix that, masthead light bulb as well as the anchor light bulb, cleaned the corrosion from the steering gear after cockpit flooding overpowered the hatch gutters and so on. Nothing difficult, just putzin. Tonito came by for a visit so we learned lots more about the island along with HIS island willed to him and has been in the family since the 1800s. His great-great grandfather ran a trading schooner in Polynesia. He traded house building materials and delivery to Rikitea for a family who owned the island as a swap. So Tonito spends most of his time on the island fooling around with his John Deere tractor building this and that. He is the sole inhabitant. His son owns Atomic Pizza, across from the fallout shelter the French built for the residents (how very kind of them) to take cover when French above ground atomic testing fallout covered the island. Forty-one above ground tests. The story goes the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French commandos in 1985 when the ship was on its way to Mangareva to study birth defects, cancer and other health issues. Not to be prejudicial, according to the guide the U.S. did the same (atomic testing) in the Marshall islands. There are real people here, nice people and not expendable. Sad.
So there you have it. Our first impressions with more to come. Big day today...gendarme and checking in, changing USP, exploring, bonjouring and checking tings out. Yup, gonna be a tough day in paradise. Ciao.
May 16, 2008
Position: S23 20.70 W134 53.40
11.1nm from the reef entrance of the atoll. Exciting!!
Well, mis amigos, we left you on Thursday early morning (local) with "what will the day bring?" Soon after firing that VofE into space our speed started nudging the 6.0 knots range. Soooo, we calculated our miles to the anchorage throwing in a couple extra miles for whatever. 195nm. At the time it was 8:00AM local. 195nm divided by 6.2 knots gave us a travel time of 32.5 hours or an arrival time of 4:30PM, about the last acceptable time for navigating in coral heads with the sun somewhat low in the west. Bottom line: we are running 1500RPM averaging over 6.8 knots. What the weather brings today we'll see but every hour we can bank the time savings makes a Friday arrival more doable. The increased RPM fuel burn vs jogging offshore all night makes sense. So we'll see. Its a beautiful day at sea with comfortable seas, blue skies with a few white puffy clouds. Scattered flying fish from time to time, a new sea bird looking like a tropic bird on steroids (yes, the camera is set for a bird shot) but no fish as yet. Life is good for the Egret crew.
Fri AM early (the first hint of daybreak). A wonderful night at sea with gentle swells, little wind, a 3/4 moon and lotsa stars. This said we had to pass between two reefs, one exposed and the other with sort of enough charted depth to pass (but who knows?). Charting is notoriously off in the South Pacific, particularly in the southern areas with no commercial traffic or reason for anyone to be here but a few locals. I have read previous stories of charting being off as much as five miles. Not good. Frank made the jog aligning between the two reefs during his watch. I heard the GPS changes (beeps) and was wide awake. Had to come look. The exposed reef was twelve miles away according to the chart plotter (running two charting programs on a split screen that agreed) but we couldn't raise it on radar. Geesh!! FINALLY at eight miles the reef exposed itself on 12 mile radar perfectly clear and shaped exactly as charted. I don't get it. It's a Mystery. Just this second the reef is appearing on six mile radar about 75 degrees off the stbd side. YES!!
The seas have now reduced themselves to gentle glassy swells and the Naiads have been turned down to a lower setting. The speed dropped somewhat during the middle of the night but now we're rockin' along at 6.5 knots. Knock on teak but I believe we will have good light for arriving at the anchorage later this afternoon with the sun high enough to read the water.
Friday 10:00 am local. We have closed within about 35nm of the anchorage. Interesting, our two chart programs are WAY different as where we will be rounding the southern point before the turn north into the entrance. On this particular entrance our Swedish friends said C-Map was spot on so we'll go with that but will also monitor the depth carefully as well.
We received a welcome e-mail from a relative of Frank's living and teaching school in California. You will see how she has chosen to let her students follow a REAL LIVE story about a real live couple and friends enjoying their personal voyage of discovery. VofE is not a video game, or a reality show made for TV. Wouldn't it be great if other classrooms could follow as well? Thinking large, perhaps there is a national association of teachers VofE could be presented to and accepted by those who choose. Wouldn't THAT be great? Hopefully some reader will take up the torch. Becase of her classes following VofE we'll include more local history in the places we visit.
"I checked out the new update from your Skipper and I suffered the bad news of no landing to be had. bummer... I was so looking forward to hearing about the island first hand from you, especially after I looked it up and presented a project to my students. They had to check out the history of the island and adopt a family and try to find out the generational history going back to the mutiny. We watched the film as well. Awesome to bring it on down home!! Thanks so much!! We (my classes and I) learned together about googling the latitude and longitude".
No doubt we'll have a fresh Gambier update on Monday. Can't wait. Ciao.
May 15, 2008
Position: S24 25.44 W131 54.84 (185nm from the entrance to the Gambier atoll)
Well, mis amigos, Pitcairn Island is unfortunately in our wake but first tings first. Pitcairn first appeared in the early morning gloom at 26.2nm as a small rounded hump in the distance. We were still making good time so in due course tings became more clear as the sun rose and we got closer. Pitcairn is much the same high, rugged topography as Robinson Crusoe Island but with native trees, some quite tall, coconut trees and mostly green. Apparently Pitcairn is so remote with such difficult landing the Europeans and South Americans didn't strip the island of trees, land sheep, take the locals as slaves, the tings Robinson Crusoe Island and Easter Island suffered over the years. There are NO beaches. The surf is continuous all around the island whether wind driven or residual. Mary contacted Pitcairn Radio (ch16) two and a half hours out. The nice lady that answered in a Kiwi accent thanked us for the call and would have the mayor call back. The mayor called as we closed with Bounty Bay, the open roadstead anchorage off Adamstown, the only village. The mayor's name is Jay Warren, one of the original mutineers kin. Half of the islanders' surnames are Christian, the remaining are Warrens, Browns and Youngs. Of the 65 permanent residents of Pitcairn, 52 are the direct descendents of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives.
As predicted by OMNI Bob the waves were rolling full force into the anchorage after the wind swung. The mayor and entourage riding Honda 3 and 4 wheeler ATV's rode down to the dock and decided it was too rough to launch their steel lifeboat. We asked if there was anything we could give them from our ship's stores but he said no. We desperately wanted to have some mail sent from Pitcairn to collect the extremely rare stamps for Jenny Stern in Rhode Island (of PAE and who makes VofE possible) as well as for Frank's sweetie in NC. In the end we took a 2 1/2 gallon water jug, triple zip locked our goodies inside including USP (US Pesos) for postage, some boat cards and a picture of Egret. The whole package was duct taped to the jug. The mayor (called JJ by his daughter on the VHF) guided us near some near shore low rocks with surf pounding over the top to get the wave direction right, Frank was on the bow, MS wuz freekin, and at the last minute Frank threw the jug as far as he could in front of the boat and we turned and beat feet back offshore. Geesh. Ten minutes later JJ called and said they recovered the jug and goodies and the postmaster was standing beside him. The stamps will be hand canceled. Cool. He said they think a boat will be by next month for mail, but weren't sure. Doesn't matter. The Easter Island picture CD we sent Jenny in the package will be delivered much sooner by Frank when he returns to the States from Tahiti.
Sadly not much more to tell, however we do have pictures we'll show as we can. The complete set, Easter and Pitcairn, will arrive Stateside mid June with Frank. We would love to have gone ashore, particularly after seeing the island, but as JJ said "it is rare boaters land". A week would be about right, a couple hours would have been great.
So we're rockin along with the waves aft of the stbd beam in 20 knots of wind heading for Mangareva, the largest island in the Gambier Island group and our first French Polynesian (Society Islands) stop. About 285nm. The Naiads are doing their deal, baits are out and all is well. We'll see what tonight brings.
Thur AM after daylight. It was a bumpy early evening with winds to 30 knots from the NW. During the night the wind clocked to the SW and diminished to 15 knots or so. We are riding in confused swells but without any chop and is comfortable. Last night the CCOM (coffeecarryometer) was bouncing around the 6-6.5 range. With 185nm to go there is no way we will be able to make landfall before dark, much less navigate thru the coral reefs to the anchorage off Mangareva, Gambier Island Group. Mangareva is the only village in the atoll. So, we will keep up our 1350RPM and present course. There are two banks, one with a dangerous reef, before the atoll entrance so we'll kill some late afternoon time trolling around the banks then will stand off perhaps 15-20 miles during the night for an entrance well after daybreak on Friday to be able to read the coral heads inside the atoll on the way to the anchorage. This is our first true South Pacific atoll with a surrounding coral reef, shallow water inside with numerous coral heads to navigate thru. There are markers (with one missing) reported to us by our Swedish friends on a 37' sloop, Lindisfarne.
It is a beautiful day at sea. What will today bring? Ciao.
May 14, 2008
Position: S25 09.36 W129 33.80 29.32nm from Pitcairn Island
Well, mis amigos, rock and roll it is. Geesh. Monday thru Tuesday early morning we had largish swells from the SE that kept the cockpit awash in sea water. Not good. Plus we had water jetting in thru the hawse holes on the cockpit sides. So, no fishing and not much sleep. But in spite of everything, MS put out three great meals. We even broke our dry ship under way tradition last night and had a glass of beer. The water is warm, something we haven't seen since Brazil, with flying fish and more birds working. I can smell fish out there but its not to be for a while looking at OMNI Bob's report. OMNI Bob's report gives average wave heights. Anyone who has been to sea knows there are RBG (really big guys) that roll thru from time to time, usually in sets of three. Yesterday afternoon looking back at these RBG's was impressive.
Because of heavier seas we raised the RPMs from 1350 to 1450 and saw an increase in speed without a drop in fuel mileage. The past five hours we are averaging around 6.4 knots putting miles in the bank we will spend when the anticipated head seas kick in later today. We are trying very hard to make a comfortable daylight arrival at Pitcairn Island so we can at least make contact with the locals. The weather doesn't look like we will be able to anchor for the night so a Wed afternoon contact is important. If not we will have to jog around the island all night in building seas to be able to meet the Pitcairn folks, all 60 of them. Unfortunately Pitcairn is a tiny rock in the middle of the ocean with no good anchorages. A small percentage of the very small number of boats that stop by each year get to anchor. In previous years there was but 1 or 2 boats a year making the trek. With more Chile boats now there are perhaps 8 to 10 boats that stop by on their way west to the Gambier's or Australs, then on to Tuamotus, Tahiti and so on. If you have any interest in making this trip yourselves someday it would pay to look up the locations on a world map or atlas to see just where in the world we are talking about. You will also be able to see the more traditional route from the US west coast or Mexico west to the Marquesas, Tuamotu Islands and on to Tahiti.
Tue afternoon. Winds have died a little and the seas have moved nearly directly behind the transom. They continue to be fairly large but not an issue. We now have two worms working and driving the birds crazy. The birds are swooping, diving and walking on water trying to figure these terminator baits out. PLUS our speed has moved into the 6.4-6.6 knot range consistently until the predicted wind shift comes this evening.
Tue evening. The good fortune has kept up so far. Our speed is still up and the ride is comfortable. Wind is in the 12-15 knot range. AND Frank caught a fish, a nice 10lb Tunny we released. The meat is a bit strong for our taste but in looking at the different cruising guides this is the same fish they sell in Papeete, Tahiti. If we catch any tomorrow before Pitcairn we'll save them for the Pitcairners. They are surrounded by water but have but a single steel lifeboat/launch for the whole island. There are no local fishing boats.
Wed AM before daybreak. The following seas continue as well as our speed but the wind is slowly swinging to the N as predicted by OMNI Bob. Frank has just about worn out our hand held calculator (good ting its partially solar powered) figuring our ETA at Bounty Bay along with wild and crazy anchoring schemes. Our son in his last e-mail said "let me know when you dock". So, let's put tings in perspective. We are in 2.5 meter seas along with RBG's every bit (8-12+'). Pitcairn Island is a rock in the middle of all this. There are no white sand beaches with palm trees to absorb the waves. Instead there are refractive cliffs that return a confused chop. The anchorage in Bounty Bay is 1/2-mile offshore and open to any quadrant of north PLUS wave wrap with any appreciable wind from protected directions along with residual wave wrap from previous winds. The bottom is sand mixed with coral. It is what it is and we will do our best...safely, and the reason Pitcairners insist on a person aboard at all times that is capable of running the boat and getting under way themselves.
So there you have it. You know what we know. Pitcairn VofE is next. We can't wait. Ciao. (There is one more Easter Island interest we will touch on before Tahiti, the Bird Men cult.)
OMNI Bob has been remarkably accurate in his forecasting. We wish this time he was a bit off but probably isn't. This is a perfect example of the extra margin of safety in professional weather forecasting. Let's say we are anchored comfy whumfy off Bounty Bay and the wind swings to the north with a 30 knot front puttng us on a lee shore. (It always happens at night when it is important) So now we are on a lee shore in rapidly building seas, the anchor-anchor chain has a distinct possibility of being fueled by coral, seas are really big now, up and down on the anchor, no give way, major cluster, dump the chain and anchor, get under way. Weather forecasting help us make intelligent decisions vs going for it and taking a chance. Something we don't do. You get the picture.
To: Captain Scott - M/Y EGRET Fm: O.M.N.I./USA 1015Z 14 MAY 2008
As high pressure exits the area today into Thur, two cold front will approach from the west. The first front will produce an increasing NNE-NW wind gradient during the day with this trough/front expected to cross the Pitcairn area later this afternoon-evening. Once it passes, winds will tend to ease from the NW-WNW, but won't really shift until the second cold front approaches and moves through during Thur/15th.
Be watchful for gusty winds with the passage of the first front/trough. Wind gusts of 30-35kts are possible ahead of this trough/front (squall line). Wind the winds ease from the NW-WNW, seas/swells will tend to remain confused until the second front moves through. As it does NW to SW winds will tend to freshen with a more definative WSW-SW swell pattern developing.
Along the direct rhumbline to Pitcairn Island adjusting your course/speed as necessary for the best ride, expect: Wed/14: Winds tending to shift NE-NW 20-27kts, gusty 30-33kt as the front nears. Winds shifting/ranging NW-WNW to WSW 20-25kt, gusty 30kts during Wed/pm (may not shift until late Wed/night). waves 2.0-3.0mtrs with SE swells easing to 2.0-2.5mtrs, then 1.5-2.0mtrs through Wed/pm. A more mixed swell 1.5-2.0mtrs should be expected during Wed/pm.
Thur/15-Pitcairn area: Range WNW-SW 15-25kt, gusty 30kts with waves 2.0-2.5mtrs as the second front/trough passes. Swells SW 1.5-2.5mtrs. SW'ly winds freshening WSW-SW 20-30kt, gusty with waves 2.5-3.0mtrs with WSW-SW swells 2.5-3.0mtrs in/around Pitcairn from late Thur/aftn onward to Thur/night.
Watching/updating. Please continue with your daily position reports through arrival.
May 12, 2008
While on Easter Island, a few reports ago we had pictures of a white, diving sea bird. We later found out it is a Tropic Bird. The abstract bird inscriptions on the back of some moai are tropic birds. The same tropic birds we saw circling over the stone quarry where the moais are carved. Pretty cool.
Well, mis amigos, Thursday and Friday can be easily summed up in a few words. Beautiful weather, slightly rolling seas with little wind, clear skies, stars, a sliver of moon and no fish. We are running at 1350 RPM at 6-6.1 knots, better than 4MPG. Not bad. If every day at sea could be like the past few it would be great but in this watery game of give and take, it is not to be. OMNI Bob is predicting a bit of a puff on Monday so we'll wait and see. In the meantime Frank has fishing chores to address. This tough, off watch duty consists of muti tasking just like the old work days, but with a twist. With an open salon door and an ear turned toward the rods listening for the reel drags to start their music, Frank is also attacking nap chores. Yup, multi tasking, Egret style. Later comes dinner for the hard workers.
Today we did some manual labor taking most of the busy morning. We transferred the last of the deck fuel into the port tank giving us a comfortable 940 gallons total. First we emptied the fuel bladder behind the Portuguese bridge (that had been there since Ushuaia), then 56 gallons of jerry jug fuel. All thru the baja filter, a very handy and necessary item. Finally, we are a proper passagemaker again. We hope never again to use the bladders or jerry jugs for carring extra fuel.
Speaking of fuel, we have been circulating fuel continuously since leaving mainland Chile. Even though we cleaned our tanks in Ushuaia, Arg before leaving and have filtered all fuel from the fuel bladders and jerry jugs along the way we were still using more 2 micron Racor elements than usual. Argentine fuel simply clogs filters for some reason. We have been using 30 micron filter elements in the circulation filter just to use up a supply we had on hand (long story but not important). They weren't doing the job. We switched to 10 micron and the primary filter usage dropped dramatically. Normally we would use 2 micron elements in both the primary filters, and still are, and the circ filter. We are down somewhat (26) and with a limited supply coming with friends to Tahiti we'll stick to the 10 micron in the circ filter. One trick we learned thru a N47 who was having fuel issues in the Cape Verde Islands is a recommendation from a German marina owner who told them to wrap their filter elements in paper towels. We carry blue heavy duty paper towels lugged from the States for engine room duty. I took two sheets, folded them in half and wrapped the circ element then slid it back in the filter housing and gave it a 2 day test. After two days the towels were still in tact and had discolored slightly showing trapped contaminates. The filter element itself was spotless.
Sat PM, Sun AM. The weather has swung into the westerly quadrants. Of course the direction we are going. Rats!! Not a lot of wind except during squalls.
Sun PM. The wind was clocking all day from the NW thru to the SW with rain and intermittent wind. Fortunately the waves or swells haven't been an issue except to slow us down and make our planned arrival in Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Island, Wed mid day doubtful. Currently it is after dark and the wind has swung to the SE giving us a much needed boost. We're bouncing between 6.1 and 6.2 knots.
Mon AM before daybreak. The SE winds picked up to the 20 knot range giving us swells from the SE and a corkscrew motion most of the night. The rudder was cavitating a bit trying to keep on course. We'll pass along a little lesson we experienced the other day. While stowing the empty fuel bladder in the lazarette I routinely checked the rudder arm bolts. Yup, loose. This isn't the first time and is a matter of routine maintenance. I'll explain in lay terms what happens as I see it. Egret is running west, the swells are from the SE putting them on the port stern quarter. The swells try to lift the stern and set it to stbd. The autopilot compass senses the change and sends a signal to the autopilot brain who in turn sends a signal to Egret's commercial size autopilot pump who in turn pumps lotsa fluid to the heavy duty steering ram that in turn quickly moves the rudder where it needs to go to counteract the swell. (Yup, run on sentence but you get the picture) When the rudder moves quickly it cavitates causing a slight shuttering. These vibrations in time loosen the steering arm nuts even though they are 1/2" bolts with heavy standard nuts and a lock nut backing up the first nut as a jam nut. In tightening the nuts we got to the last one and found the bolt head sheared off. We don't carry 1/2" bolts in inventory but did happen to have a spare 1/2" custom machined bolt left over from our paravane installation. Using a bronze pipe coupling as a spacer, a couple washers and locknut we are back in the 4 bolt rudder arm business. When our friends meet us in Tahiti they will have a supply of 1/2" bolts, nuts, etc for spares. These nuts were tight in Ushuaia, Arg, 4734 nm ago, the last time I checked. Obviously I should have checked since. Probably more than you wanted to know about steering but a routine necessary check for yourselves.
The miles to Pitcairn are winding down. We want to get one more VofE in to show the last of the Easter Island pictures before we start with Pitcairn so that will be forthcoming. We heard from our son there are new pictures posted on the nordhavn.com, VofE, Pictures. They must be the Juan de Fernandez, Robinson Crusoe Island pictures. We don't know what pictures were picked but hopefully some of the pictures taken from the lookout where Big Al, (Alexander Selkirk - real life Robinson Crusoe) checked every day for passing ships back in the 1700's. We stood EXACTLY where he did ( obvious once there). Cool. Another of our favorites was a picture taken in the small museum of their collection of Defoe's, Robinson Crusoe in different languages (only one book is in English).
So there you have it, a couple more days in The Life at sea and a couple techo goodies. 325.1nm to Bounty Bay. Ciao.
OMNI Bob's forecast is remarkably accurate. How he can predict EXACTLY what we are experiencing from back in the States is a mystery. Great job.
To: Captain Scott - M/Y EGRET Fm: O.M.N.I./USA 1100Z 12 MAY 2008
Captain, thanks for the note yesterday. Glad to hear the conditions are as predicted.
A deepening area of low pressure along the cold front that passed you yesterday is expected to remain well to your east/south as it moves slowly E-ESE today. West of the low a weak ridge of north/south oriented high pressure is expected to move eastward thru today and Tue. A moderate pressure wind gradient between these systems should give way to gradually shifting winds through Tue-Wed as another cold front approaches from the west.
There will still be the chance of wind gusts to 30-35kts, but these conditions will become less likely toward Mon/night-overnight and into Tue/am as the ridge becomes more in control. These easier conditions will be short lived as the new cold front approaches from the west. As it does, a new/tighter pressure wind gradient should develop during Tue/pm-Wed from the NNE-NW. Here, wind gusts could again, reach 30-35kt as rain squalls may preceed the front.
Shifting NW-SW winds are expected nearing/at your arrival at Pitcairn island during Wed/pm or even Thur/am. Some SW swells may also encroach across the Pitcairn island area during Wed as the front gets closer, but the highest swells should hold off until after the frontal passage.
Along the direct rhumbline to Pitcairn Island adjusting your course/speed as necessary for the best ride, expect: Mon/12: Shift ESE-NE 17-25kts, upto 30kts and gusty at times. Waves range 1.5-2.5mtrs. Swells: SE 2.0-3.0mtrs. Tue/13: Ranging NE-N 17-25kt, gusty at times. Winds may tend more NNW-NW 20-25kt, gusty/30kts toward Tue/eve-night at times. Waves 2.0-2.5mtrs. Swells SE 2.0-3.0mtrs. During periods of higher winds, waves could build to 3.0mtrs. There is also the increasing chance of showers/thunderstorms, which could produce wind gusts of 30kt+ in some of the heaviest squalls Tue/night-overnight.
Wed/14: Winds tending to become NNE-NW 20-27kts, gusty 30-33kt as the front nears, then shifting NW-SW 20-27kt, gusty 30kts during Wed/pm (may not shift until late Wed/night). waves 2.0-3.0mtrs with SE swells ease 2.0-2.5mtrs to 1.5-2.0mtrs. A more mixed NW-SW swell is possible during Wed/pm.
Thur/15-Pitcairn area: SW'ly 15-25kt, gusty 30kts with waves 2.0-2.5mtrs as the front passes. Swells SW 1.5-2.5mtrs, upto 3.0mtrs possible Thur/pm.
Watching/updating. Please continue with your daily position reports. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI
May 9, 2008
Position: S26 52.96 W113 49.42 885.8nm east of Pitcairn Island
Well, mis amigos, Egret is under way again. Yup, we had weather coming that would have had us moving around the island in an anchorage of the night cha cha, something we didn't want to do after seeing the other anchorages from shore. There is a second anchorage we would like to visit, other than the one off the main town, that is really good but not worth 5 days of jogging. When you drag in the 'good' anchorage and the others are worse why take the chance? Such a shame. We could have easily spent another week exploring. After frantic last minute shopping for perishables we left Easter at 5:45 pm local or 2345Z with a SE wind at 20 knots or so and gentle swells on the port quarter. We checked out first with the Chilean Armada on shore then the customs/immigration/health guys came to visit Egret by panga to complete the rest of checking out of Chile formalities. What a super bunch of professionals. We plan to send an e-mail to the main Chilean Armada office, where we normally send our daily position report while under way in Chilean waters, thanking them for watching out for us and the courteous, professional service.
To bring you up to date on raising the catamaran dink using fiddle blocks we described in the last VofE, it went well. We used just one steadying block assembly on the inboard side attached to the stantion base and the hook attached to the towing eye on the transom, the control line led back to YT along with the boom control lines. Not perfect, but acceptable and not dangerous considering the swell. I'm sure in time we'll get better so perhaps the catamaran will stay with us.
So Chile is behind us. Sad. Pitcairn Island is 1170nm ahead, about 9 days. Also, we have been in Spanish speaking countries, except for a few weeks in Brazil (Portuguese), since our arrival back in Barcelona, Spain, August, 06. We have no idea when we'll be speaking Spanish again (as if we were proficient to begin with). One door closes and another opens, the next being French. Hmmmmm, lets see.....oui, bonjour, noparlyvoufrances, Citron, Peugeot, Eiffel tower, Le Mans, Charles DuGal...that's about it. This ought to be interesting.
Mary and Frank are down below sleeping before their watches. (Mary 10:00-2:00, Frank 2:00-6:00, YT 6:00-) Ken the Singlehander (US) is 5 miles behind slowly dropping back. Airel II (German/Canadian sloop) will leave in the morning and Tri Guy (US) will leave in a couple days for the Pitcairn/Gambier route as well. Cool. Easter Island's record of 7 boats in the harbor ( plus1 in the 'marina' making 8) will soon be down to two British boats traveling together. We'll probably arrive 2-3 days ahead of the rest of the fleet if the predicted light and variable winds arrive for the next few days. Their sails are their Naiads. When the wind gives up and the waves don't it's REAL bad for those guys. When the wind is ripping and they are under reefed sails speeding along its bad for us. Sooo, in a perfect world should we have sails, Naiads and paravanes????
So, with my night vision destroyed on this moonless night sitting here typing this drivel we'll sign off for a bit. The worms will go out in the morning and we'll see if any snappers are around. Hope so. We ate the last of the dolphin last night.
Wed AM before daybreak. Perhaps we should explain the fishing Egretisims we use, worms - snap - snappers. When you are 5-6-7 years old and are lucky enough for your father to buy you a carton of worms to use for bait instead of dough balls you are thrilled. Worms are most kids starting out bait. Worms are now trolling lures a bit later in life. When a fish bites/strikes the trolling lure we have morphed bites into snaps. Fish that bite are snappers. Catch it?
Yesterday during reanchoring Frank made a VERY interesting discovery simply by chance. He was opening the large Freeman cast aluminum hatch over the anchor locker when the entire hatch assembly including the mounting flange pulled free. Over the past 7 years sea water had gotten under the hatch flange and corroded between the flange and the adhesive holding it to the deck. I know from past experience it is nearly impossible for a compound to stick LONG term to raw aluminum. Because we were leaving Easter Island within a couple hours we took a 4" grinder with a flap wheel and abraded the existing compound along with cleaning the corrosion from the hatch flange. We reapplied adhesive that will last to New Zealand. In New Zealand we will remove the existing compounds with a product called Anti Bond that will turn it loose from the fiberglass, re-clean the flange and re-bed the assembly with 3M 5200. If you have one of these hatches on your boat it may pay to put a screwdriver under the flange and see if it is secure.
Wed evening. Beautiful day with sun, a little wind and following seas. The weather is still a bit coolish in the shade underway. This will change soon. No fish today. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
Thurs AM before daybreak. Our most 'pacifico' Pacific night yet. The sliver of a moon set early and the stars are out. The Southern Cross is low outside the port pilothouse window. Frank saw four shooting stars on his watch. It's hard to describe nights like this at sea. There is such a calm we never experienced in our previous life of work and play distractions. We owe no one our time, there is nothing we have to do, we can do anything we wish, there are no distractions. Magic hours. Unfortunately not every night at sea is like this. At times we are wave bashing and uncomfortable, however for every night of wave bashing there is the reward of independence and total freedom we enjoy. We aren't wiling to give up independence and total freedom for a few nights or days of being uncomfortable. Mary's 90+ year old godmother once asked her "Mary, when are you coming home?" as if we were on a long vacation. Raised during the depression she could not grasp not being 'home'. Well Lois, we are home and we're not leaving. What could possibly be better?
Thurs morning. Its a beautiful day. Baits are out. MS will be up soon for her first cuppa. Life is good for the Egret crew. Ciao.
Here is OMNI Bob's latest weather forecast. You can see we have a few more days of great weather before a front passes thru.
To: Captain Scott - M/Y EGRET Fm: O.M.N.I./USA 1340Z 08 MAY 2008
High pressure well to your east/south will weaken and move eastward through Fri-Sat, while a weak surface trough to your east tends to remain stationary through Fri/09th. The trough will tend to merge with the approaching cold front that is still expected to move north/east across 30S 110W through Sat/10-Sun/11. The front should continue to push NE across 25S 125W through Sun/late while a broad area of high near 45S 115W on Mon/12th tends to move eastward across 110W through late Tue/night.
We note a new frontal system west of the new high ridge is expected to move across 130W through late Mon/12th, then develop a slowly deepening area of low pressure along it near 33S through Tue/13th. The low should move slowly eastward with the front crossing 41S 120W through Wed/night. However the broad circulation around this low will tend to extend northward across 25S-20S. Chances are the low and passing cold front will bring a new round of SW-SSW wind/sea and swell conditions during May 12-14. As the low/front continue to push eastward, the easiest conditions will tend to develop during May 14-15 in/around Pitcairn island as high pressure ridging moves in across the area.
Along the direct rhumbline to Pitcairn island adjusting your course/speed as necessary for the best ride, expect:
Thur/08: Tending to shift E-NE to even NNW through the day. A variable wind at times is also possible near the high ridge; 10-17kts. Waves 1.0mtrs. Swells become mixed ESE & SW 1.0-1.5mtrs.
Fri/09: Continuing to range variable to NNE-NW; 10-15kts, waves 0.5-1.0mtrs. Swells mixed E-ENE & SSW-SSE; 1.0-2.0mtrs.
Sat/10: Winds tending to become NW-SW through the day; 10-17kts. Waves gradually build 1.0-1.5mtrs. Winds may become more Var-SE-ESE 10-20kts late. Swells SSE-SE 1.5-2.5mtrs.
Sun/11: Range SE-ESE to Var-N-NW 10-18kts, waves 1.0-1.5mtrs Swells SSE-SE 1.5-2.5mtrs.
Mon/12: Freshen NE-N to NNW 17-25kts, waves 1.5-2.5mtrs with ESE-ENE, mixing with WSW-SW 1.5-2.5mtrs through Mon/eve-night. Wind/waves could shift NNW-NW to SW 20-27kt, gusyt 30kts toward Mon/eve-night with the developing low to the south and passing cold front.
Watching/updating. Please continue with your daily position reports. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI
May 5, 2008
Position: S27 08.69 W109 26.13 Hanga Roa Bay, Easter Island, Chile
Well, mis amigos, did we roll or what?? Yup, buried the master head portlight from time to time. Aquarium glass. Glass sided boat. So Friday afternoon and night we were boat bound in a rocking machine. Sat am was beautiful with a relatively slight swell. Fuel day. The catamaran is working hard to keep her place on the boat deck instead of being discarded after nearly sweeping us off the boat deck in rolly conditions while we were trying to launch her. We made five (5) rental car trips to and from the gas station with eight (8) jerry jugs, 56 gallons-over 400lbs of fuel per load, that took from 11:00 AM until nearly dark with a quick stop for a sandwich our only break. Geesh, felt like a sailboater. We had our fastest turn around time on the second load when Frank and I got the pumping routine down to production levels but gray hair kicked in on the third load and we slowed down a bit each time. So that was Saturday.
Sunday was different. With Advil working its magic off we went in the rental car to explore the island. We took a clockwise route trying to catch the sun at its best angles for picture taking at the various places of interest. Easter Island is the REAL DEAL, Egret's highest compliment. Everything you have read about since childhood and later is here and accessible. Moai's are everywhere (Easter Island head carvings). There are over 650 of these stone guys around the island taken from a single quarry. How they transported them is still a mystery. One of the most impressive sites was the quarry where there are still figures lying unfinished cut into the hillside as if it were a weekend break. No one knows for sure the early history of the island but it is thought Polynesians arrived in two waves. The moai have two distinct different type of configurations. The earliest were the 'short ears' with a more rounded head and the later group are the 'long ears' and long faces. The latter group are by far the most prolific. On some of the figures there are similar designs on the back. Starting from the waist there are three horizontal curving lines representing a rainbow, a circle above - the sun, two large abstract birds facing each other - man and woman, a smaller bird above the birds - child, and two different images on either side of the child again representing male and female. We'll include the best of the pictures in the coming VofE's.
Returning from the days outing the catamaran dink made a grande bid to stay aboard. There were four of us, Ken the Singlehander was with us for the day, and a full fuel tank in the little fat dink. There was a HUGE surf running into the harbor breaking ALL the way across instead of leaving us the 75' 'hole' we normally scoot thru. Grande surf. Mucho scary surf. You get the picture. We waited until it went calm then made our way out. After the point of no return the first wave popped up. Flying catamaran. Ken taking his own ride. There were four more. The last was breaking (not good) and we blasted thru in a ball of spray. Wild!! Scary. An inflatable would never have made it thru. Perhaps a largish, 12+' with just two people and certainly not a heavy rib with seating. So perhaps we should rethink the main dink scenario. I have possibly come up with a way to steady the dink using fiddle blocks with cam cleats snapped to stanchion bases and clipped to the two transom eyes in the cat. Just a theory so we'll see.
The touristas are here but not swarming. We didn't see a single two story hotel/pension in our travels. Most are small, 2-6 units. November thru April are the best months (spring - fall) May has the most rain. Easter is off the beaten path but certainly worth a week. There are flights from Santiago, Chile, and Papeete, Tahiti.
So there you have it. A couple more days in The Life, a little excitment and a bit of history. Ciao.