Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Passage summary

0154 UTC 11/1/2007
24°01.8310 S
153°32.3657 E

Overall our ocean passage from Port Vila, Vanuatu to Bundaberg, Australia has been as good as one can expect for those of us who endeavoring to transit wide stretches of open ocean. Delightfully all the considerable precautions, preparations and some small amount of luck endeavored to make for a spectacular, fast and comfortable passage. Passing Nine Hundred and forty six miles of South Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea thus far we have a mere seventy three miles to go. For over forty eight hours we have not the need to touched a sheet (adjust sails). The promise of fair weather beckons our arrival and ahead of schedule!

Big passages are serious business and endeavoring to ensure that they are not only safe, but comfortable and enjoyable is attributed to hard work not luck. In preparation for this passage for many weeks weather patterns, forecasts and actual resulting weather were carefully studied. Severe weather and seas stress body, mind and the boat and are to be avoided with all possible precaution. On no less than three occasions we prepared the boat for passage only to depart then turn back when the weather did not arrive as expected. Pre-departure preparations are considerable with pre-cooking meals, obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables, filling water tanks, stowing dinghy, dinghy engine and ancillary gear. All this to say nothing of the mental preparation and pressures of seeing other sailing friends set out, impending cyclone risk and bureaucratic check out formalities.

Passage statistics:

Distance sailed: 1024nm or 1167 statue miles or 1879 kilometers.
Log book entries: 162 (estimate)
Engine hours: 19 (estimate)
Watches stood: 47 (3hr night and 4hr day)
Weather files downloaded: 51
Blog updates: 9
Showers: 2
Longest period of sleep: 2 hrs (estimate)
Scheduled radio calls: 12
Fish caught: 1 Tuna approx 30lbs and one White tip reef shark approx 3.5' (in four hours of fishing).
Ships sighted: 2 large tankers no closer than 6nm.
Best 24hr run: 175.5nm
Average 24hr run: 151nm
Broken gear: none

810 miles under the keel and only 214 to go

October 31, 2007 0650 UTC
22°36.1306 S
155°27.7227 E

810 miles under the keel and only 214 to go to Bundaberg, Australia.

The log book entries so far today:

0100 D Ship sighted by K has safely passed astern.
0200 D Some clouds.
0300 D Innumerous stars.
0400 K Bright moon
0500 K Sea calming
0600 K Sunrise 0550
0700 D Average speed 6.61 knots
0800 D Sunny Skies!
0900 D Beautiful sailing!
1000 D Perfect Day
1100 K K made big breakfast
1200 K K took shower
1300 K Lovely day
1400 K Average speed 6.94 knots
1500 D D shower and shave.
1600 D Great sailing
1700 D Same sail set for 24 hours
1800 D Curry Fish & rice

For EACH hour are the following entries:

Time (Local in Military format)
Watch person (D or K)
Notes (Comments on voyage)
Latitude (Degrees and minutes)
Longitude (Degrees and minutes)
Wind speed and direction (Knots and direction True)
Wave height and direction (Meters and cardinal directions Magnetic)
Barometric pressure (Millibar)
Course made good (True direction for last hour)
Distance made good (Nautical miles covered in last hour)

A few of the many reasons we keep a detailed hourly log book on La Vie:
In the event of a power failure (i.e. loss of all five GPS units) we have a last know position accurate to within less than one hour. This postions enables effective dead reckoning and celestial navigation.
We monitor our position hourly creating considerable redundancy to catch possible navigation errors.
We closely hourly evaluate changes in wind speed, direction, swell direction and size and barometric pressure all important indicators of impending sever weather and to facilitate ongoing refinement to course and sailing tactics.
We closely monitor engine use, fuel consumption and maintenance schedules.
We enter important radio transmissions or other events as the Ships log book is a legal document.
We keep a iron clad routine regarding log entries and thereby it provides the watch person something to look forward to during watches (i.e. it keeps them alert and attuned).
We establish and ensure consistent watch schedules, radio schedules, etc.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

358 miles to go.

21°08.9607 S
157°33.5159 E

The sun has just set on a glorious day of sailing. We've been rocketing along in excess of seven knots most of the day and with 18 knots of wind just abaft of the beam it's the perfect sailing angle for speed and comfort. We have 358 miles to go to Bundeburg, Australia where we plan to rendezvous with many many cruising friends before we again go our separate ways.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fish story

20°14.8267 S
159°01.8467 E
Uncharted 36 meter shoal

I was just off my three AM to six AM watch trying to get some sleep when the adrenaline inducing scream of the big offshore Penn reel jolted me out of bed. At first we had no idea what was on the line other than a big fish and line was literally screaming off the big reel. Kathy grabbed the rod and said I think we have a shark! I said no way then we had to wait for the fish to finish it's first big run which lasted several minutes. Good thing we have over a half mile of line on the reel as this fish was really taking the line. Since the wind was blowing pretty good I had to drop all sails to slow the boat down as we were moving at six plus knots and at that speed you'd never drag even a modestly sized fish aboard. With the sails now down we were still going about one knot and the boat was really rocking and rolling in the six to nine foot seas making keeping ones balance a chore. Kathy began to get some line back on the reel and then the fish made another desperate attempt at escape stripping line of the reel at an amazing pace. Kathy fought back inch by inch then foot by foot in a give and take battle and at spells I'd have to reel while she relived her fatigued arm. Once the fish was near the boat and we were feeling pretty victorious it took off again diving deeply below the boat. At this point I took my position on the side deck with the big gaff in hand ready to get the gaff hooked into the fish when the time came. Kathy catching her first under water glimpse cried out "it's not a Tuna or Mahi Mahi or Wahoo and I think its a SHARK!" Indeed it was a three foot plus white tip shark. Looking at my $10 fishing lure stuck between it's razor sharp teeth I decided it would be best to just cut the line in lieu of risking injury to ourselves and the shark. First, I hastened to grab the camera and get a few pictures to back up the story then we cut the line.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Staying connected at sea.

To stay connected to the civilized world via basic text only emails we use a Laptop computer connected to a special modem connected to a Ham type radio.

The details:
Radio: Icom-M802 Single Side Band (SSB) High Frequency Radio. Range >8000nm
Modem: PTC-II pro Pactor 3
Laptop: Averatec 10" super small laptop to save on power.
Upload/Download speeds: Best 0.08kb/sec and on the worst 0.003kb/sec compare that to your band connection!

Other uses:
Receive weather faxes.
Voice communications with other boaters and shore stations reliably out to 2000nm via prearranged schedules and frequencies.
GRIB weather files

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fish log

Kathy here.

Well here we are somewhere in the South Pacific on passage. It officially been 2 full days with about 5 more to go. We work the shifts such that during daylight from 6 am to 6 pm we each do a 4 hour watch and then at night we change that to 3 hour watches. It seems to work well and every other day we get the opposite watch so it evens everything out.

Now is the time when full boredom kicks in. During this boredom I think of extremely intellectual challenging things to do, such as, see how slowly I can eat a grapefruit. Another task I decided to tackle is a fish log. Dave and I talked about keeping a fish log so we can brag about it later, but keep forgetting. So we did some brainstorming and came up with what we think a pretty accurate list of what we've caught this past season. I hope the formatting transmits ok.

Country Location Fish size outcome
New Zealand
Bay of Islands King Fish 2.5ft ate
Bay of Islands Kahawai (5) 2ft ate only 1

Kandavu Wahoo 5ft too big, let it go
Taveuni Mahi 4ft ate
Savusavu Marlin 6ft lost at boat
Yandua Mackerel (6) 2-4ft gave to cruisers
Trevaly (2) 2-3ft ate 1 gave 1 away
Yandua to Veti Levu Mackerel 3ft ate
Yellow fin 3ft ate
Dorado 3ft ate
Channel to Lautoka thin silver fish 3ft let it go
Malolo Trevaly 2ft ate

Fiji to Tanna Skipjack 2ft ate
Tanna to Erromongo Mahi 5ft gave 1/2 to village
Cook Reef Wahoo 6ft gave 1/2 away. We ate the rest for a while
Malakula Barracuda 3ft let it go
Luganville Yellow fin 2ft ate
Skipjack 2ft ate
Gaua Barracuda 2.5ft let it go
Waterfall to Ureparapara Rainbow runner 2ft ate
Dogfish tuna 15kg gave away
Reef Islands Dogfish tuna 15kg ate
Vanua Lava to Malakula Mahi 2.5ft ate
Malakula Rainbow runner (2) 2ft Let it go
Malakula to Efate Rainbow runner 2ft ate

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Friday, October 26, 2007

Underway to Australia

Position as of 1700UTC October 26, 2007
18°19.797 S
166°16.178 E

Underway to Australia.

Departed Port Vila, Vanuatu bound for Bundeberg, Australia. Eighteen hours into the one hundred and eighty hour passage we are experiencing perfect weather and mild seas making for a fast and pleasant passage. I have slept well during my off-watch and Kathy has a as well which is unusual this early in a passage. Usually, sleep is hard to find the first day or so with the excitement of substantial ocean passage.

Here is our basic route from Vila to Bundeberg:
WP # COG T Lattitude Longitude Dist T Dist

W 001 183 ° 17°44.7986 S 168°18.7549 E 0.0 Nm 0.0 Nm
W 002 147 ° 17°44.4733 S 168°18.7754 E 0.3 Nm 0.3 Nm
W 003 81 ° 17°44.3310 S 168°18.6778 E 0.2 Nm 0.5 Nm
W 004 71 ° 17°44.5730 S 168°17.1345 E 1.5 Nm 2.0 Nm
W 005 74 ° 17°55.7506 S 167°42.2686 E 34.1 Nm 36.0 Nm
W 006 71 ° 18°05.1536 S 167°08.7607 E 34.3 Nm 70.4 Nm
W 007 79 ° 18°16.2183 S 166°34.7021 E 34.9 Nm 105.2 Nm
W 008 250 ° 18°25.4991 S 165°59.3264 E 34.4 Nm 139.6 Nm
W 009 256 ° 18°33.5218 S 165°24.3900 E 34.2 Nm 173.8 Nm
W 010 258 ° 18°40.8095 S 164°48.5749 E 34.2 Nm 208.0 Nm
W 011 266 ° 18°43.0987 S 164°12.9787 E 33.7 Nm 241.7 Nm
W 012 272 ° 18°41.6419 S 163°36.6145 E 34.1 Nm 275.8 Nm
W 013 261 ° 18°46.9479 S 163°00.7987 E 34.4 Nm 310.2 Nm
W 014 254 ° 18°56.7893 S 162°23.9951 E 34.2 Nm 344.4 Nm
W 015 250 ° 19°08.8359 S 161°48.1793 E 33.9 Nm 378.2 Nm
W 016 252 ° 19°19.5198 S 161°13.4617 E 34.1 Nm 412.3 Nm
W 017 251 ° 19°30.2956 S 160°39.7350 E 34.0 Nm 446.3 Nm
W 018 253 ° 19°39.9226 S 160°07.1042 E 34.0 Nm 480.3 Nm
W 019 241 ° 19°57.1834 S 159°33.9267 E 34.0 Nm 514.3 Nm
W 020 241 ° 20°12.9705 S 159°03.1646 E 34.1 Nm 548.4 Nm
W 021 250 ° 20°24.4584 S 158°28.8872 E 34.1 Nm 582.5 Nm
W 022 230 ° 20°46.3901 S 158°00.7618 E 34.3 Nm 616.8 Nm
W 023 232 ° 21°07.5259 S 157°32.1972 E 34.0 Nm 650.8 Nm
W 024 232 ° 21°28.6115 S 157°02.9735 E 34.4 Nm 685.3 Nm
W 025 231 ° 21°50.0544 S 156°34.6293 E 34.0 Nm 719.2 Nm
W 026 232 ° 22°11.2404 S 156°05.8450 E 34.1 Nm 753.3 Nm
W 027 232 ° 22°32.1702 S 155°36.8410 E 34.0 Nm 787.3 Nm
W 028 233 ° 22°52.4401 S 155°07.6174 E 33.7 Nm 821.1 Nm
W 029 231 ° 23°13.8712 S 154°38.8330 E 34.1 Nm 855.1 Nm
W 030 233 ° 23°34.4395 S 154°09.1701 E 34.1 Nm 889.3 Nm
W 031 234 ° 23°54.5526 S 153°39.0678 E 34.1 Nm 923.4 Nm
W 032 231 ° 24°16.0160 S 153°09.8441 E 34.2 Nm 957.6 Nm
W 033 233 ° 24°36.2705 S 152°39.9066 E 34.0 Nm 991.6 Nm
W 034 230 ° 24°45.2893 S 152°28.0688 E 14.0 Nm 1005.6 Nm
W 035 270 ° 24°45.2612 S 152°24.0723 E 3.6 Nm 1009.2 Nm

s/v La Vie

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ureparapara Island

Dives Bay, Ureparapara Island, Vanuatu
13°32.4589 S 167°20.4535 E ( Anchorage)

Ureparapara is in the far north of Vanuatu and a spectacular anchorage inside an extinct volcanic crater two miles long by half a mile wide. At the head of the bay lies a village of about two hundred people, a primary school and church are the main features aside from the thatch and bamboo homes. The locals are enthusiastic traders and a steady stream of canoes mostly manned by young children offer the standard fruits, veggies, eggs and occasional wood carving for trade. I suppose over a longer period of time the canoes would become a bit of a nuisance, but for now it's good fun to see the smiling shy faces. The canoes are particularly handsome and in this bay they are specialist in making dug out kayaks (i.e. no out rigger). The craftsmanship is spectacular to so precisely carve a kayak out of a solid log with rudimentary tools. I'm considering having one custom built that I could store on deck and use for recreation. The cost is minimal by our standards with a nice canoe costing around fifty USD. The labor involved is monumental as a large tree needs to be located, cut, transported and then carved. By reasonable estimation these activities consuming ten of man hours each makes for quite a value.

Today we did some trading for carvings and ordered some fresh pineapples, green beans, tomatoes, onions and limes.

A few days ago we climbed about one hour up through the steaming jungle to the edge of the ancient crater rim. Quite a view, but a rough steep and slippery trail. The locals all go barefoot and I've tried the same and there is no substitute to the traction, grip and confidence gained by the bare foot on a steep slippery trail. We are waiting for some calm weather to make a short sail and stop over to the Reef Islands, an uninhabited reef with a few small islands. The reefs and fishing are purported to be spectacular so we look forward to some calmer weather to make the trip.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trading with the locals

Trading with the locals

Speaking of canoes, they are of the dugout rigger variety and are a common site in the bay. Young children, teenagers, chiefs, mothers and babies paddle around and visit the yachts many times a day hoping to make some trades. They proffer fruits, vegetables and local handi-crafts such as baskets, carvings and shells. They paddle up and hover around the boat patiently waiting for your attention. Sometimes they will softly sing songs or quietly whistle a tune to let you know they are there. These are modest and shy people hoping to make a deal. We are good trading partners having brought lots of trade goods so all of our transactions are trade and never cash as it has so little value in their "Kustom"ary economy. We carry for trade, rice, sugar, oil, fish hooks, fishing line, flash light batteries, clothes of all descriptions, hats, and bed sheets to name a few. We also have a big pile of gift items such as pencils and pens for the school age kids, toy cars, balloons, dolls, cards, dominos, etc to give away as gifts. The smiles we get in return for a good trade or small gift are truly priceless!

Our best trade so far was with Gordon who proposed a trade for freshly caught live spiny pacific lobster. I proffered four "D" batteries, a knife and elastic tubing (for a spear gun) in exchange for eight fresh lobster to be deliver that evening. We each thought it a great deal!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

The many Chiefs of Waterfall Bay

The many Chiefs of Waterfall Bay

The Greater Waterfall Bay area houses perhaps twenty families and is being a three hour walk from the nearest "big village" of three hundred it is quite rural. However, there is no absence of Chiefs in the Waterfall bay area with no less than three claiming supreme power.

Chief Kurley claims to be "hereditary" Chief. The serious Chief Kurley far and away controls the best bit of real estate including the only all weather canoe landing point for many miles in either direction, he also runs the well organized Waterfall Bay Yacht Club. In local terms he is quite wealthy and it shows in the many buildings of his compound and newly built yacht club on the north side of the falls.

Next, is Chief Jimmy claiming to be the popularly elected Chief. It seems you couldn't pack a more jovial man into the small package Chief Jimmy occupies in just over five feet. Chief Jimmy has a large fun loving musically inclined family and when everyone is around they man a full blown string band. Chief Jimmy loves to "tok-tok" (talk) trash about Chief Kurly. Chief Kurly doesn't tok-tok trash, but likes to assert he has supreme power of the area and suggests new arrivals ignore Jimmy. Friendship comes quickly in the presence of the witty and tok-tokative Chief Jimmy and one easily understands his rise to power as the locally elected popular chief of the people. Jimmy holds on to the second best piece of real estate that adjoins the south side of the spectacular waterfall.

Chief Nikson claims Chiefly title as well, but location being the name of the game is out of the scene as he is quite a distance from the tourist attracting falls. Nikson primarily commerce is the sale of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and lobster. However, he has much competition from the other families and his only advantage is a close proximity to the yacht anchorage.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

A brief history of Waterfall Bay

A brief (unofficial) history of Waterfall Bay

About ten years ago the area was resettled after a lengthy period of no permanent inhabitation. Previously, the vestiges of religion and attrition of introduced disease caused abandonment of the historical villages and consolidation closer to the missionary church in a nearby village about three hours walk to the south.

Many yachts call on Waterfall bay to enjoy the scenic seaside waterfall, towering cliffs laden with a thick carpet of impenetrable green, snorkel the pristine warm and clear waters filled colorful reef corals and fish. There is also a lovely fresh water spring in between some rocks at the edge of the beach. This is a wonderful place to end the day with a nice shower. A few shred ni-vans seized on the idea to resettle the Waterfall bay area in the pursuit of tourism dollars supplied by the yachts. The long vacant land and forgotten historical boundaries made ripe the opportunity for land and power grabs and thus the bay has three chiefs.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see:

A day with Chief Jimmy and family.

Waterfall Bay, Vanua Lava Island, Vanuatu.
13°49.6381 S 167°22.9558 E (Anchorage)

A day with Chief Jimmy and family.

Recently, we spent a day hanging out with Chief Jimmy and family. The day included a bush walk to the top of the waterfall to swim in the river and the chance to spear freshwater prawns. Swimming in a river directly above a waterfall seemed a little risky, but I was certainly up for the adventure. Once we'd made our way to the top of the fall I walked out on some rocks in the river to lean over the falls and get some interesting pictures. Chief Jimmy went a little ballistic and was screaming over the din of the falls that the area was "taboo", "taboo come here". I backed away from the edge of the fall obeying the Chief and forgoing my unique photography opportunity. Once close to Jimmy he grasped my wrist holding tightly and said that bad spirits like to push "new" visitors over the falls and that what I was doing was very dangerous. He said I'd have to visit the falls a few more times and let the spirits get used to me before I could get so close to the edge again. "Ok I'm very sorry Jimmy" I said. Next we donned masks and swam in the swift current just feet from the perilous edge of the falls looking for fresh water prawns. I guess the bad spirits don't like to get wet as they had a great opportunity to push me over the falls while I was in the water!

Slipping and sliding down the very steep trail back to Jimmy's we were covered in mud, bitten by mosquitoes and very painful black ants and sweating profusely in the tropical heat. We headed for the base of the falls to clean off the newly acquired mud and sweat. Jimmy's many daughters now joined us at the pool to teach us some water music. Punching and slapping the water to create these wonderful "booms" and thumps was not so easy and after half an hour without producing one desired sound I was satisfied to swim and enjoy the cool water and incredible scenery. The many children led us swimming across the pool to the base of the falls where you could climb out and then carefully make your way behind the falls or sit strategically to get a pounding massage from the cascading waters. Later we photographed the family around the waterfall.

Jimmy invited Kathy and I back as well as our friends David and Thimai from s/v Jipcho for some Kava later that evening. We obliged our guest and enjoyed a few cups to finish off the day.

The next day we again were invited to Jimmy's for Kava and took along the laptop computer for a digital slide show of the previous days pictures. The slide show was quite a hit especially the videos we'd taken from the Gaua Arts Festival in the previous weeks.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: