The Sound of Effervescence

Can you recall the exact sound of champagne bubbles as they hit the surface of the glass? Soda makes the same sound as does some beer.

That is my favorite sound.

Not because of champagne, soda or beer - although I would love to have a cold one delivered to me here on passage (ice cream and a cheeseburger please too). But because that sound is one of the ones our boat makes when it is happy.

When we are sailing smartly, as our boat is slicing through the water, the hull on the downwind side (non-boating friends -- this would be the side that is tilting downwards) pushes down into each wave. As the boat slides down into the wave, it introduces a small amount of air into the ocean. By the time the wave has traveled further down the hull next to the cockpit, these thousands of tiny bubbles resurface making a mesmerizing, gentle, hissing, sizzling, bubbling sound.

I could listen to that hiss for hours, and because I have plenty of opportunity to do so on my midnight to 5am watch...I do.

170nm left to the Gambier Islands.

Day 5: Landfall

There wasn't much of a day 5 because two hours after the end of the fourth day we were transiting the South pass into Fakarava Atoll, in glorious sunshine, with the lagoon waters glowing various colors of blue and the coral visible from the deck at 50 feet.

We dropped anchor West of the pass, just in time for the first of a series of squalls that have lasted several days now. Hoping for the forecast clear weather to arrive before Christmas and we are looking for the next weather window to head further East. This isn't the time of year (for us) to stick around in the Tuamotus for long.

Day 4: Squalls and squalls

- Boiled eggs
- Tortilla rolled with pate

- Noodle soup from a package

- Cassoulet (fancy beans and wieners) from a can

Pinball is less fun when you are the ball.

Squalls have been batting us back and forth between them all day. The good news is that because the winds are up and the direction is changeable we've actually made a lot more Easting than we did tacking about in light fluky winds. The bad news is that as the squalls went away around nightfall so did the wind. Motoring...

We're getting to that point where we are starting to make covert expectations about landfall timing. We're still far enough away that all estimations of landfall start with "if the wind stays the same" or "if the wind is as forecast".

Carol and I aren't the kind of people who start estimating landfall timing from the first day. In part, this is because for us, setting goals like that can cause us to become overly frustrated with the wind, the seas, or sailing when they don't happen. The other reason is that if we are sailing nicely but slowly and we aren't going to make landfall during daylight we are loathe to start the iron jenny. So occasionally we have changed destinations, skipped the intended landfall and gone on to the next.

Hopeful for landfall in Fakarava tomorrow.

Day 3: All kinds of sailing

- Scrambled eggs with smoked turkey and chopped tomatoes

- Tortillas rolled with rillete de canard

- Smoked turkey curry on rice

- Trail mix
- Pear and orange
- Cucumber slices

We've had all different kinds of sailing today. Light flukey winds, 3 knots of wind (and a few hours of motoring), lovely 8-11 knot winds, and squalls.

The third day of a shorter-than-a-week passage is often my favorite. We're both in the groove by then. We've settled into whatever routines are needed for that passage. Radio check in schedules* and weather download best times have been sorted out. Usually the third day is when I start sleeping soundly on every off watch although that started on the first day this time.

By the third day we've also set up the boat fully for passage. On the first day we are often still running preventers or other lines we might need. In the first two days we are hunting down things inside the boat that are knocking or banging and need cushioning or restraining. Although the boat is "safe" on the first day, the third day is usually when it starts feeling fully set up for sea.

*We often check in on the Pacific Seafarers' Net at 0330Z on 14,300USB and we're on the roll call right now.

Day Two: Mehetia and Upwind Cruising

Carol Pre-breakfast
- Last of the baguette
- Rillette de canard

- Scrambled eggs with smoked turkey

- Sliced mild chorizo on baguette with cucumber slices
- Handfull of spicy tortilla chips

- Smoked turkey, carots and peas in white sauce

- Remainder spicy tortilla chips
- Pear and orange

We tacked near Mehetia which is a small pyramid shaped island SE of Tahiti (17 52.6S, 148 07W). The island seemed to have an Estrellita magnet installed as we were fighting light flukey winds and our tacks always seemed to have us pointing at Mehetia.

Today was one of those "why are we doing this days" where the lightness of the wind, combined with its sudden shifts in angle make tacking into challenging. The actual sailing has been beautiful -- great weather, flat seas -- but when you know that you are hardly making any way toward your intended goal it takes some of the pleasure out of it.

Thankfully the winds filled in by early evening and we sailed nicely throughout the night. It's always easier to fight for miles during daylight.

We've been sleeping like champions. I don't know if it is the flat seas or the aftermath of a stressful few months but we are both sacking out hard and feeling rested because of it. Carol takes the watch at 5am and feeds himself something until I get up around 9am and cook breakfast.

Wait, what? Rewind. Livia does all of the cooking?! Yes, at least on passages I do. Carol get nauseated just slicing a carrot down below. He can eat, navigate, whatever he wants downstairs, but the second he starts food prep he gets green. It works out well because I'm quite happy to never do dishes underway.

Day One: Sailing with Tahiti

- On our own

- Sliced mild chorizo on baguette
- Handfull of spicy tortilla chips

- Smoked turkey drumsticks
- Sliced tomato

- Cashews
- Pear
- Tahitian avocado

Carol woke up at dawn, slipped the line from our mooring at Marina Taina and motored around the corner to the North side of Tahiti, winding his way through the channel at the airport after contacting "vigi" (harbor control). I stumbled out of bed and joined him as we exited the main pass of Papeete and unfurled our sails.

Not long afterwards we hit a good squall. Our friends aboard SV Cariba had set off recently on a "belle fenetre" (good window) for the Marquesas from the Tuamotus and had a convergence zone form on their heads. During the squall, we sat there hoping that the same wasn't about to happen to us. Not the case, as we have had nothing but beautiful blue skies since.

We're going upwind again - another leg of upwind sailing against the tradewinds. This is the story of most of the boats we know of that are moving around on passage in this section of the ocean at this time of year. Boats beating their way to Hawaii, or to the Marquesas. This tack fest led us to sail all of the way down the east coast of Tahiti which was a visual treat and amusing because at sunset, after a full day of sailing, we could still see the island that we had departed. Tahiti is oriented NW-SE and so our SE tack took us to the tip of Tahiti.

The stores in Tahiti are stocked with special Christmas foods which in France apparently means a lot of unusual types and preparations of meat. We scored by finding an entire smoked (pre-cooked) turkey just before leaving on passage and it is delicious.

The wind angle is a bit changeable, forcing us to tack more often than we would prefer but with mild but steady winds, mellow seas, and blue skies, we aren't complaining. With the mellow seas keeping the boat moving gently, the day was a mellow mix of keeping watch in the shade of the bimini and napping down below. The night brought a full moon, rising right at sunset, and staying with us all night.

(If you haven't read it already, the format of this passage diary is an homage to "The Care and Feeding of the Sailing Crew by Lin Pardey.)

When life gives you lemons, grope stingrays



P1010886Forced back to Tahiti* for storm repairs, we’ve been working on trying to not lose our cruising while dealing with repairs and claims.

P1010895We actually love Tahiti and nearby Moorea and we had a chance to hang out a lot with our Tahiti friends, make some new Tahiti friends and also hung out a bunch with Gab and Isa on Cariba on their way back from the Cook Islands.

We’ve been making time for some fun, enjoying old favorites on these islands (how long have we BEEN here exactly??!) and taking the time to see and do some things we had missed – like rent scooters on Moorea. Super fun!

We also revisited the stingray feeding and groping site in Moorea. It was fun to go with some people who had never been. We went twice ourselves. We’ve been doing some kiting and catching a lot of sunsets.

We are scheduled to go back in the water this Monday. Let the adventures begin again! Oh, and be prepared for a crapload of boatwork posts as I sort through the haul out chores.

*I know, I know, cry me a river.

What’s inside your binnacle?


P1020032Because the idea of losing steering in a pass in a remote atoll gives me the heebie jeebies, we like to give our steering mechanisms regular love.

We have a steering quadrant and it is relatively easy to keep an eye on those cables. P1020031It is a little more difficult, but not too painful, to give the chain from the quadrant to the wheel a visual check and some grease.

First we took off the compass, then a cover plate, and voila this is what our massive chain looks like – like a big bike chain. You can also see the levers for our gear shifter and our throttle.


We cleaned things up and regreased and put things back together – peace of mind (for a while) again. Another tick on the ever present to do list.

Rope Wheel Cover


Our leather wheel cover had slowly evolved from “weathered” to “salty” to “embarrassing”. P1020061Yet, we didn’t replace it until it busted open – good cruisers that we are. I had been keeping my eyes peeled for leather wheel covers in the automotive section of various hardware stores until I saw a simple rope wheel cover on a forum. There are quite elaborate rope work options for covering your wheel but I wasn’t really willing to put more than a day of my life into the project and so simple it was.

I bought 60 meters of 4mm nylon line and ended up with some leftover.

P1020065First we stripped off the old leather cover which left bits of itself stuck to the stainless wheel and had to be scrubbed off.

Then I tied the nylon line to one of the spokes and began wrapping. When I reached the next spoke I tucked the line down, half way around the spoke, and then back up onto the wheel, and started wrapping in the opposite direction. Each time I finished a pie wedge, I milked the line tight before transiting the spoke.

Two things I wish I had done at this point were: 1) put the line on a hand spool of some sort, such as you use for handline fishing to make the wrapping easier and 2) not bothered to wet the line when I started and rather just wet it later in the process.

P1020066Hours later when I had finished the wheel I tied the two ends together with a square knot and wet the entire wheel. Then I started half way around the wheel from the knot and milked the line toward the knot and retied the line taking up the slack. Then I went back to the half way point and milked the line the other way.

I’m leaving the square knot for now until I milk the line another time or two and then will probably whip the two bitter ends together and then put something decorative over the whipping.

P1020067Tip: I set things up so that the knot is at the wheel’s top when the rudder is centered. When I put the decorative bit this will help us find that center by feel.

New Money in French Polynesia


P1020016On January 20, 2014 French Polynesia will be getting brand spanking new money.

I’m a big fan of the new 1000 (~10USD) which has a manta ray and a turtle on it.

Old bills will be accepted through Sept 30, 2014 so this won’t affect most people transiting through the country in next year’s puddle jump but don’t save your old bills for next year in New Caledonia or Wallis & Futunu.


Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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