Passage Log- Kavieng, Papua New Guinea to Koro, Palau

December, 2016

NOTES: The GPS on our plotter failed several months ago and we are navigating with a handheld GPS. Our running lights failed shortly before we departed and we have no replacements.

Most of the entries were written on my 2200-0200 watch.

Dec.8, Day 1: We woke to a glassy morning and made final preparations to depart on the tide. Both of us sweat through a shirt before we even hauled up anchor at 1000. We motored out of the pass under sunny skies and made water on the way, topping up the tanks. The Island kids were out enjoying the surf as we pulled out of the pass and into the waiting long, ocean swell. I was busy with the plotter/handheld GPS/SPOT/phone and quickly felt poorly. We found enough wind to raise the sails and get going, although just barely. Our course was N & E as we found westerly winds. All forecasts predicted east winds, WTF. Squalls and good winds during the afternoon and we happily made our way north towards the equator. At dusk we decided to tuck a reef in the main “just in case”, squalls marching across the horizon looked rather dark. We had chicken stir fry and rice for dinner and I was happy to hit the bunk, feeling better. Although we had a bright, clear sky at sunset it clouded over by 1900. Boat speed between 4-6 kts. Midnight watch was uneventful.

Read more HERE.

Neiafu, Tonga to Vuda Point, Fiji October 2013

Day 1: Dropped the mooring in Neiafu harbour at 0900 after listening to the last morning VHF net and saying goodbye to almost everyone in town.  We had planned to clear out Monday and stop at Lape Island for the evening but by the time official business was done, provisions bought, made the last stops at our favourite places to spend the last of our Tongan Pa’anga it was almost 1400 and we still hadn’t cleaned the dinghy. It was 1800 before everything was stowed, the last meal cooked and the dinghy was on deck to dry out. We were exhausted and so stayed on the mooring for one last quiet night.  We stuck our bow out of the monolithic gates that guard the Vava’U island group and found less wind than predicted but lots of left over swell from the last two weeks of +20kt trade winds. We steered 310* with the head sail poled out and slightly furled. It was rolly but without the pole the head sail popped and pulled too much. We decided to keep that course for the night, putting a little distance between us and the more southern islands of Tonga. I managed to keep down the chicken stew we had for dinner but don’t think I was of much help to Steve. At 1900 I woke up suddenly and heard a strange “Boing” noise from the mast/head. Nothing was amiss with the rigging but as I was about to settle back down into my bunk of the floor I noticed the mirror just above my head was moving slightly, it came totally free of the wall in my hands. Scary to think what would have happened if it fell onto me while I slept. The day was grey and overcast but cleared a little for the 2200 change of watch and the moon rise.

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May13-18th, 2013

Day 1: 

After a delayed departure due to weather we check out this morning.  The FRCA (Fiji Revenue and Customs Agency) officer was able to process both our vessel clearance and our personal immigration clearance so no need to go hopping around offices just to get permission to leave the country. And not a day too soon as our VISA’s are up tomorrow.  We picked up a few last veggies, eggs and a loaves of bread then back to the Royal Suva Yacht Club to collect the laundry and top the water and gasoline tanks. I secured the cabin for sailing while Steve cleaned and packed up the dinghy.  We raised the anchor around 1300 and to my surprise there was a lot less garbage and slick primordial muck that is the hallmark dirty Suva Harbour.  Since it was fairly calm we motored out of the long harbour channel and once clear of the point found a some good wind and were able to steer 130*T, a perfect heading but directly to windward, and the choppy swell left over from the high swell advisory of a few days ago had me feeling pretty ill.  I tried to lay down for a few hours to acclimatize but by dusk I was still feeling sick and unable to stand below to cook dinner.  Steve fought with the pressure cooker (something he has yet to make friends with) and finally had dinner ready around 1800.  We hadn’t noticed the days getting so short but it was dark by the time we sat in the cockpit to eat. I managed a half a dozen spoons of rice before I retreated to the stern to vomit it all back up again over the rail. Poor Steve trying to eat while I retched a few meters away.  I quickly ate some more rice before immediately retreating to my bunk in hopes I can keep it down by falling asleep. Thankfully we are on port tack so I don’t have to camp out on the floor.  We are following the low pressure system that kept us in Suva so the hope is that the winds will stay from the north for a while, then back through the west and south before returning to the seasonal easterlies. If we can make good speed going south east for a few days we will be in a good position when the winds swing around and start pushing us north.  The heading to Vava’U is 084*T to Tongatapu it is 116*T, either are towns that we can check into.

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Huahine to Niue- Passage into the “Dangerous Middle”

Between Polynesia and Tonga is often referred to as the "Dangerous Middle"  because of the unsettled weather that plagues this part of the world. There are lots of low lying islands and reefs and not a whole of accurate charts. Even the electronic charts can be off as much as half a mile in some places.  Niue is an island, and a country unto itself, 400NM east of Tonga. It appears out of 5000 meters ocean as a steep rock formation. It is wild and beautiful and only measures about 20km by 12km.

Day 1, May 24th:

Finally left Huahine. At 1000 we crawled through the reef break at Fare under sail and found light winds and a confused sea waiting for us outside.  Steve took the first watch and I went below to rest, only to smell diesel.  Perhaps the main tank fitting is leaking again. I pumped the bilge and sprayed some degreaser around to sop up any diesel that may be left down there.  

We have been unable to steer our course all day as it is directly down wind and winds are rather light at the moment. So, we are tacking to keep close to the rhumb line.  It was a little rolly until we cleared Raiatea and got into the open water. We ran the engine this afternoon to make power but also ended up turning the fridges off half way through the night. I hope this is not a trend.

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21 Days at Sea- Galapagos to the Marquesas

Day 1, June 6th: 

We departed Isla Isobella, Galapagos at 1000 under grey skies, threatening rain and a big swell building outside the calm of the lagoon. We motored out and clear of the head land before setting sail, as we would have spent a lot of time tacking to get clear of the lava reef that fringes the island if we hadn’t.  Sally and Gordo, a young Aussie couple on a catamaran “Morning of the Earth”, came over last night for sundowners and snacks. We’ve spent a fair bit of time with them since seeing them in Isla del Coco so it was a nice fair well. We hope to catch up with them in the Marquesas.  Sal brought us some lovely Banana Date muffins for breakfast, a nice treat since I did not get a chance to bake.  With a favorable current we were making 8kts, the wind held through the night and we made over 150nm, a great way to start the trip.

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© Copyright by Heather Francis