ILES DE LA SOCIETE

september 21st, 2012 by Henrick

The society islands is the western part of French polynesia and it includes 14 islands. The bigger ones and most known are Tahiti, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora bora. The volcanic Islands are scenic and lush and surrounded of coral reefs. Coming to Tahiti straight from Tuamotus quickly reminds you that you are back in civilization. Lots of people, supermarkets, cars, motorcycles and traffic jam. Most people are very friendly and after we heard mostly negative opinions about Tahiti before getting there, I must say it gave us a better than expected inpression.

After Tahiti we visit Moorea, Raiatea, Tahaa and now Bora bora. Ginni paddled between Tahiti and Moorea (17 nm) while I was sailing. It started fairly calm but rapidly changed to more than 20 knots and big seas. Even between Tahaa and Bora bora (25 nm) she paddled but in much calmer conditions. Before this trip, Ginni had to talk me into bring this fullsize unfoldable kayaks onboard, but I have appreciate them more and more. I like our rowing dingy but it’s almost useless if it’s windy and bigger swells. It is also heavy to hoist up and down on deck and often a pain to have tied up beside Misty on anchor. More often we leave the dingy on deck and just use the kayaks to get ashore or go exploring. The only problem is when you need to bring big heavy things to and from the mothership Misty, like diesel jugs for example. Of course it would be possible to tow an inflatable little ”barge” after the kayaks. We also have ideas to make a system to easily mount the kayaks together like a ”catamayak” which even could be sail-able.

Coral reefs can be good or bad. They protect the Islands from big swells which also gives better anchorage. Otherhand ending up on a reef with a boat in breaking waves means disaster and big chance of losing the boat. Fortunately we have not experienced that and hope not to. Just a few days ago we grounded on a coral head (again) inside the lagoon of Bora bora. Here you can not trust the channel markers, nor the GPS so it’s mostly navigating by eye. In this case we were on the way to pass a marker which led into a channel, for a moment the wind and the sun made it impossible to see the bottom clear. We passed just a few meters from the only marker and still it led right up on the coral. This was more a trap than aid to navigation. Luckily a powerboat with a some helpful locals came up a few minutes later and pulled us off. We heard we weren’t the first ones who got stuck here and I’m not suprised.

We seem to always stay longer at any place than we planned to and it starting to get late in the season so it’s high time for us to continue further west. Next stop will probably be Tonga. Our plan is to reach New Zealand before the hurricane season starts in November and it’s still another 2500 nautical miles to sail before we get there.

Before leaving French polynesia and heading back out to the primitive life at sea, we sure enjoy our last baguettes with French wine and cheese.

 

TUAMOTUS

augusti 22nd, 2012 by Henrick

I spend a little over a month in Marquesas. Visited 3 Islands (Nuku-Hiva, Ua-Pou and Ua Huka), Ua-pou was my favorite, less cruising boats and spectacular mountain peaks around. My 500 nautical mile sailing to Makemo in Tuamotus took 8 days, much longer than I expected because very little wind. I had 3 days with almost no wind at all. Didn’t want to go by engine either because diesel can be difficult to find before Tahiti. Tho I enjoyed my singelhanded sailing and I was not in a hurry. It was actually a good time to get some more perspective of life.

Tuamotus is an archipelago of many atolls spreaded out on a 1000 miles area in a NW-SE direction. In earlier days before the GPS this was not a well visit area for cruisers because of strong current and very low atolls, which are visible only from a few miles distance. Still to enter an atoll can sometimes be exiting because the current thru the pass, and inside an atoll it’s often coral heads spread out like a mine field. It takes a good lookout from above, higher up in the rigging. Best time to enter and to travel inside a lagoon is in the middle of the day when the sun is highest and the coral heads can easily be seen. The climate is perfect, slightly cooler in the water and air and not as humid as Marquesas.

When I arrived to Makemo the ebb current in the pass was like a wild rapid. I had to wait outside for a couple of hours and wait for the tide to change and then I could enter with no problem. Inside the atoll I anchored beside the little village Pouheva which has a small airport close by. Ginni arrived by plane a few days later as planned and it was great to see her again. Stayed at same spot for a few days and then continued to the west side of the lagoon, where we took shelter from the strong wind for more than a week. A good time for some boat maintenance. During the months of July and August the wind can often be strong from SE and even inside a lagoon it can get pretty choppy. It’s important to be on a protected side during the windy days.

We left Makemo thru the west pass and headed for Fakarava 90 miles west. Entered successful the atoll thru the southpass and found a nice anchoring SW of the pass. Fakarava is the second biggest atoll in Tuamotus (after Rangoria) and it’s famous for great diving in the southpass because of many sharks and other fishes. Most of the sharks are reefsharks (white or black tipped) which is in general not dangerous for humans, especially daytime. First we went out to the pass with our kayaks and did some ”kayak snorkeling” (turn the kayak upside down with mask and snorkel) and drifted with the current back into the lagoon. Amazing to see all the colourful fishes, sharks and corals. A few days later we joined Tetemanu diving and did some scuba diving thru the pass as well. After a week we left Fakarava and sailed another 50 miles to Tahanea.

Tahanea is an uninhabited atoll and it is our favorite place so far. We went down to the SW corner and anchored behind a well protected motu (the land around an atoll, made of coral and sand, often with palm trees on it). The water was cristal clear and perfect for snorkeling. From our first experience of coconut hunting we learned that it’s harder to climb a coconut tree than you think. There’s also other methods to get the coconuts down, with long sticks etc. Lots of different crabs live on the atoll and the biggest one, the coconut crab (or Kaveu), can be over a foot wide. Their big claws have capacity to crush a rock. They are meaty and good to eat. We also catch some fish with lure, spear, and scoop-net. We heard about ”lobster walking” along the reef at night with flashlight, though never saw any. Later we realize it might just mean to walk as a lobster instead of actually look for them…

We have heard some stories about the hazards in Tuamotus, where cruisers ending up in big tidal rapids when they enter an atoll or get their anchor chain snapped off after it got snagged under a coral head. For us it seemed to be only successful, until our last night in Tahanea. We were on the way to leave the atoll next morning so we went further NW, closer to the pass and anchored beside a motu on the north side. The wind was light and from the north   so the sea was calm. We knew the wind was on the way to turn but should still be very light. A couple of hours later the wind had turned 180 degrees to the SE and increased to 15-20 knots and the swell was getting bigger. We were surrounded of coral heads but I knew we had some room to swing. Just a little bit later – BANG! the anchor had dragged and the stern hit hard on a coral head. Within seconds the engine was running and the anchor on the way up (in situations like this you don’t want to find your anchor stuck under a coral…). Luckely we manage to navigate out in the darkness, thru the worst part of corals  into deeper water without hitting anything more. Because there are even coral heads spread out in the whole lagoon, which is not marked on the chart, we turned off the engine and drifted with the wind at 2 knots towards the pass. No sleep that night… At dawn we where close to the pass but had to drift around for another couple hours to let the tide turn. We left Tahanea and the Tuamotus and sailed during 3 days to Tahiti. Later after inspection I found a few dents on the rudder and the hull but luckely without any damage on the steering or propeller. Sometimes you are glad for your choice of a metal boat.

 

 

 

 

BIRDS

augusti 10th, 2012 by Henrick

Text and photo by Ginni Callahan

 

When I was a kid, I broke my foot just before an elementary school class field trip. Instead of participating in the weekend’s activities, I was perched inside a window opposite a bird feeder, where a staff member occasionally came by to offer some informative morsel about the feathered activity I was seeing. I got to drive with the staff member on errands and watch a sparrow hawk hover over a meadow and dive for a mouse.

I was enthralled. However, being an active, busy person, I seldom slow down enough to enjoy birds like that.   On our crossing from Mexico to the South Pacific I had time. I took a great interest in birds again because looking for them gave me an excuse to stand in the cockpit and stare at the horizon for hours, which was a good antidote to seasickness. Then I realized that photos were great aids for identification. One could zoom in closer with the camera than with the eye. The photo would hold still long enough to study markings against the Seabirds book. The challenges of taking clear photos of a flying bird from a moving boat, with the dynamic background of the sea, kept me trying.

Our reference is Seabirds: an Identification Guide by Peter Harrison.

On anchor in the Marquesas I fell in love with the flocks of little white terns and their aerial maneuvers. Sun caught them dancing against a dark background of verdant hillside or grey full-bellied cloud. But I couldn’t get a satisfactory photo.

With the mission of capturing their carefree spirit in pixels, I went ashore with the camera on the atoll of Makemo. That started a tradition of wandering about on scraps of land in the South Pacific and photographing birds, and other things that caught my eye.

Below are some photos.  For stories about the experience, please visit my blog

http://kayaktravel.blogspot.com/

List of seabirds seen:

At sea:

White-tailed tropic bird Phaethon lepturus

Red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda

Masked booby Sula dactylatra

Wedge-tailed shearwater Puffinus pacificus

Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii

Madeiran storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea

Sooty tern Sterna fuscata

 

Tuamotu atolls:

White tern (Fairy tern) Gygis alba

Crested tern Sterna bergii

Grey-backed tern Sterna lunata

Great frigate Fregata minorj

Lesser frigate Fregata ariel

Red-footed booby Sula sula

Brown booby Sula leucogaster

Brown noddy Anous stolidus

Black noddy Anous t. minutus

 

 

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

juni 11th, 2012 by Henrick

We left La paz at the end of April. It was on a sunday and the customs were closed but we had to go because we had reached our deadline. Unfortnatly we had to stop in Cabo san lucas as well (the very southern end of  Baja California) to deal with the customs there before leaving Mexico. Cabo san lucas is a crazy tourist party town as I want to avoid if I can. Cruise ships, charterboats, pangas, jetskiis crowded all over in the bay which makes the anchorage terrible. We filled up diesel, bought the last food and supplies we needed and decleared out from Mexico. We left Cabo the same day as we arrived and headed out at sea. Finally were on the way for real.

First night was a little rough, struggeling on foredeck to tie things up for the long passage while the waves was growing steeper and bigger. Already tired before we left didn’t make it better and at this point we were both dealing with seasickness. The wind was almost on the nose and our beam reach took us more away from our course than we wanted. To tired to start tacking up against hard wind and breaking waves so we decided to ”hove to” (when you bottom reef the sails and put the fore sail across so the boat can not sail but still keep it up to the wind and make a calmer movement), a good decision as gave us some sleep. Next morning we could still see Cabo san lucas in a distance, we hoist the sails and continued sailing south west. The wind was good, around 15 knots from the north.

After a few days of sailing I heard the wiskerpole (the boom that keep the foresail out during downwind) was banging up on deck, it was broken in half. Because of Misty’s sometimes heavy rolling side to side when running downwind it makes it hard on the rig and sails. The boom might even have hit the water. After some searching of spare material I was lucky to find the dingy mast to fit perfect inside the broken wiskerpole and after some more work they were joined together and the rest of the hardware was mounted on to the dingy mast. As an extra back up I lashed a 1” steelpipe on to the wiskerpole to avoid the same thing to happend again. It seemed to work, but the pole was now a little more heavy.

The days at sea goes on without too much different. Suddently after so long time of work and preparing we got lots of sparetime left over. Daily rutines like checking the sails, windsteering, navigation, weather fax, cooking food and watching out for other ships makes the days goes fast. Of course lots of time for reading books as well so it’s never boring. The worst is definately when it’s no wind at all, especially with swell at the same time. Getting nowhere and with the sails flopping hard in the rig can drive you nuts.

Our planned route was pretty much just a straight line between Cabo san lucas and Nuku hiva in Marquesas Islands, though after 14 days when we reached the UTC zone (Doldrums) we started heading straight south to cross it as fast as possible. UTCZ is a long lowpressure belt along the equator, it’s often flat calm or very little wind from various directions. Off and on heavy squalls (rain) as use to bring some strong winds for a short time.We motored thru the most calm areas and after two and a half days we thankfully starting get some south easterly tradewinds. The next day we passed the equator. First week on the southern hemispere the sailing was superb, just like this typical ”tradewind sailing” as many cruisers dream about. Steady wind around 12-15 knots on a broadreach and long big waves as made the sailing smooth. I was starting wonder if this ever will come, after years of sailing my experience is that perfect wind and sea conditions do not last very long. This was almost to good to be true, we hardly touched the sails or the windsteering for days. The last days down to Marquesas the wind and sea was changin, first calm then strong wind as turned south so we had to go up windward. It took in total 25 days to reach Marquesas Islands.

The climate here is hot and sticky, common with short heavy showers which explain the green tropical enviroment. It’s a bit of a culture chock to come from the desert in Mexico to this djungle climate. We came in to Taiohae on Nuku Hiva which is the capital of Marquesas and the official port of entry to French polynesia. Here cruisers gather from all over the world after a long pacific crossing. Fun to see some boats as we know since before in Mexico.

Ginni flew out just a few days after we arrived, she was going for some kayak event up in the states. From here I will continue on my own to the Tuamotus, which is a group of 78 islands, mostly atolls. Ginni and I will meet up there in a few weeks.

PREPARING FOR THE SOUTH PACIFIC

april 22nd, 2012 by Henrick

 

Guaymas is behind us. Misty was launched in early March after another several months in Marina Guaymas. The major projects for this season were to rebuild the engine bed so that the propeller shaft could be lined up properly. Also some interior work such as new chart table and galley sofa/table to get more storage onboard. It was a big relief to set sail again and to see that the things on the boat seems to work fine.

We crossed the Sea of Cortez down to Puerto Escondido in Baja California, where we stayed for a while to continue with all the smaller projects and provisioning. It is a project just to find space and storage for 6 months of food onboard when the boat is already full of other stuff. As well have a system and be able to find it. Things can easy disappear on a boat.

At the moment we are in La Paz, the southern end of Baja California and working on the last things before the long sailing to French Polynesia. SSB radio, Pactor modem, AIS, VHF, GPS, EPIRB, Watermaker etc. All this tecnical things  have to work properly for better navigation, communication, weather information and safety. Rigging, hull and engine has been overhauled as well. The raw waterpump and the transmission had some issue and had to be taken apart.

By now we are almost out of money but ready to go cruising. The next stop from here will hopefully be Marquesas Islands, close to a 3000 nauticalmile crossing that approximately will take around 3-4 weeks if everything goes well.

Hasta luego Mexico!

END OF THE YEAR

december 31st, 2011 by Henrick

This year is coming to it’s end.

A big part of the summer and fall was spent in Washington/ Oregon. For a couple of weeks I went up to Brittish Columbia, Canada to visit some friends. With Godfrey Stephens and his boat ”Chief Mungo” we sailed from Victoria to Port Townsend and joined the woodenboat festival.

In early October Ginni and I closed up the farm for the winter, loaded the pickup truck to the brim and started driving south. Down in San Diego we spent a few days getting some last parts before crossing the boarder over to Mexico. A few days later we arrived in Loreto, Baja California, Mexico. This is Ginni’s 2nd homebase. I continued by flight to my boat in Guaymas.

The first two weeks in Mexico was unbearably hot, some days up to +45 degrees Celsius. I had very difficult to sleep during the nights, but in the beginning of November it started to cool off rapidly. Now at the end of the year it can be pretty chilly, espacially at night. Traditionally Christmas Eve was spent in Marina Guaymas together with all the other boatbums.

Happy new year everyone!

Slow Boat Farm

augusti 31st, 2011 by Henrick

 

The last two months I’ve spent up at Ginni’s farm in Washington State. The farm has 21 acre and it’s located on Puget Island in the Columbia River, just at the border to Oregon. Cathlamet is the nearest town and Astoria is a half hour drive away. The location is good, not too far from the Pacific coast in the west or to the mountains in the east. Though a big tsunami or earthquake could probably wash the whole Island away, which would be a bummer…

At the moment Ginni is leasing out 15 acres and a house to a family who have lots of animals, cows, horses, sheeps, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, you name it. It’s great to see all the animals around.

Ginni and I live in the ”milkroom”, a small house which is the perfect size for us. Beside the Milkroom, there is old barn which unfortunately is slowly fallen apart. In addition to that we have a big outdoor kitchen.

Here you are never unoccupied. Just to keep the grass down is lots of work. Ginni grows some vegetables and herbs, like garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, beets, broccoli, cilantro, beans, peas, onions, carrots  etc. Lots of weeds as well. At farmers market every Friday you can also buy all kinds of local grown food.

Ginni has owned this farm for 6 years, but has only been here during summertime. The property has water access, so she also operates a kayak symphosium on the farm during a couple of weeks every year (Loco roundup) and kayak nurds gather from all over the world.

The country life fits me good, I like open space and distance between people. I don’t mind working hard as long as I have the opportunity to leave once in a while. Travel and exploring is still the most important thing.

Change of scenery

juli 15th, 2011 by Henrick

In Port Canaveral, Florida I board ”Freedom of the seas”, one of the world largest cruiseship. This ship has a capacity for almost 6000 people and is like a floating city. It’s on the way to Caribbean. My visit was supposed to be a few weeks but turned out to be 2 month.

First week we visit Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Martin. Next week it is Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman and Cozumel. That how it goes week after week with always a final stop in Port Canaveral, Orlando. Though I didn’t came here to play tourist. Me and my partners are here to repair some leaking pipes.

In Caribbean the climate is hot and humid. Hilly and lush islands surrounded of turquoise colored water. Around the ports everything is built up for the tourists. Souvenier shops, restaurants, arranged diving trips, charter trips and jetskis. This might be paradise for some people but it don’t take long to see how artificial the whole thing around the tourism industry is.

After 2 month my mission is over. I’m glad to walk off the ship and head for other locations.

Back to Baja

juni 1st, 2011 by Henrick

After returning to Loreto and wiping the dust off Ginni’s pickup truck we camp at Rattlesnake beach. The truck is our mobile home for now. Most of the RV’s and campers are gone for the season, only a few mexican fishermen are staying at the beach. It’s peaceful and quiet. Though the sheltered lagoon in Puerto Escondido is crowded with boats, the Loreto fest for cruisers is going on.

Spending the days with random activities, kayaking, hiking and also some work on Ginni’s kayakfleet. Ivette from Mexico and Ginni running their kayak company in Loreto. They have an office there and 17 kayaks which occasionally need some maintenance.

Just a week later an opportunity came up for me to join a cruiseship in Caribbean. I decide to go and Ginni offered to drive me down to La Paz to catch the flight onward. On the way down and despite a broken muffler we took some smaller desert roads  for the reason to go for a swim in the Pacific ocean.

We reach La paz just after dark and the next morning I take the flight to Florida.

 

Springtime in the boatyard

maj 5th, 2011 by Henrick

All to the end of April I spend the time in the boatyard. Ginni also come over from Baja California to enjoy the boatwork.This year it was not so much major projects but lots of smaller things that take long time as well. Lots of time was also spend on grinding, sanding and painting.

At the end of the month we were finished with most of the things we wanted to get done with Misty before launch. Though I needed to adjust the engine so it accurately lines up with the propeller shaft. That’s very important to avoid damage to bearings and transmission.

After a proper check I realized that the engine is extremely out of position. So much that it must be lift out and the engine bed has to be changed. No wonder why the two last cutless bearings wore out in so short time…

I start to lift the engine with a come-along and I cut the aluminium oil pan under it in pieces just to get it out so I can reach the engine bed. I temporarily adjust the engine in right position with help of shim plates so I can figure a way to rebuild the engine bed. It will work but it will be another ”two weeks” project.

At this point we are tired of boatwork. We’ve been here longtime, the days are hot and in the night time the mosquitos are a pain. Ginni also only got a couple of weeks left of her vacation and we rather spend them doing something more fun than boatwork.

It’s time for a change and we decide to leave Misty and the boatyard for the summer and go back to Baja California.