Spares…

July 8th, 2019

We carry a lot of spares. I had once teased a co -cruiser that they needed a sailboat trailer to carry their spares; but I think we are at the same place now.

Yesterday one of the lenses fell out of my good new glasses. I tried that magic stuff: JBWeld to fix them and that lasted one day.  Thus, I began to search through our spare glasses.

I found some new spares. Wow. I also found a new spare pair of Sunglasses that are prescription.  How lucky that was?

As I’ve now had glasses for a few years on the boat there is one critical observation I’ve made.  Do NOT get any of the additional coatings the shops want to sell you. Polarized, no, glare, no, anti red eye, no. The reason is that over time; it has been about a year for me, the coatings begin to wear off or the glue degrades making the glasses unusable. For a cruiser out and away from the big city where one can easily spend  few hundred and get some new ones, this can be a dangerous issue. Ok, so you can’t see into the water as well, get some big polarized glasses to fit over your prescription ones.  Be more cautious in shallower water. Yet the worse case is that reading charts could well cause one to make a bad decision. Do yourself a favor, get several good pair of prescription glasses, some tinted, some clear and avoid any of the coatings they want to sell you. In the end you’ll be able to safely cruise where ever you wish to go. And…

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Aneityum, Vanuatu

June 29th, 2019

This is a facinating place but a little to slow and laid back for me. We like to have a bit more going on. If one likes to be disconnected from the world this is one place to hang out. The internet is on about 1/2 the time. There are no restaurants. Monique on Aloha did purchase some fried seafood at a community gathering. However, that is not quite my style.

For the most part the anchorage is fine. For 5 days it was perfect, then the seas started building up and now we have some wrap around swell into the harbor. That swell causes the boat to roll from side to side. We’ve put out one flopper stopper to change the rhythm of the roll and slow it down making it more comfortable. Flopper Stoppers have made life aboard Elysium tolerable more than once.

And finally the frosting on the cake is Mother Nature. For the last 4-5 days a stationary front has been hanging over us. Winds 20-30 knots for 3 days, no Sun for 4 out of 5 days and rain for the last 24 hours.

An ugly day for a Cruise ship adventure.

I feel for the people on the cruise ship that visited Mystery Island. Rain puts me off but there were plenty of Aussies (the ship berths in Sydney this time of year) that braved the weather. As the most interesting thing we could hope for here was the cruise ship, we’re looking to head north. When the wx clears a bit we will motor or sail N to Tana where we can get up close to a volcano.

Oh, and lest I forget… it is cold here. I’ve been in the tropics so long that winter on the border is blanket time.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

An Ugly Day…or Two

June 24th, 2019

We are under the U of Vanuatu to the left of the Thunderstorm.

An ugly couple of days. A stationary front sits right on top of us. In he image we are just to the W of that thunderstorm symbol. We’ve not had any T-Storms actually but the wind has been constant 20-30 kts in the anchorage, the rigging has been singing like a ghost during Holloween, and intermittently the rains have been off and on.

To top it off, by most appearances here the cell tower runs by solar. For over 24 hours we had no internet. Weather info is more difficult to get and communicating with family and friends difficult. Finally; I think those in the community were effected and the cell tower is functioning again. I’m not sure what they did, maybe just turned a generator on to run it. It doesn’t matter; we’re back in the world of electrons.

We could always communicate some. We have a ham radio / SSB setup. And we purchased an Iridium Go from Predict Wind. We have data capabilities with either setup. Thus emergency emails as well as most weather info we can still acquire.

Anyway; we wait for the officials. I think it’s only two days away now.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Vanuatu: First Impressions

June 20th, 2019

Aneityum Rainbows, Vanuatu

First; another beautiful place. The anchorage here is very serene and large enough for quite a few boats. The village is remote and the people more reserved than in Fiji. Partly this may be due to the size of their country and partly because they are remote.

When we say “hi” or wave as they pass they respond in kind. The comment one elderly women I met  years ago speaks volumes here: “You get more than you give, if you give bad you get more bad back, if you give good you get more good back”.

There is one store here that is stocked better than most remote villages. The owner (a Western Samoan married to a Vanuatuan) has SIM cards for Digicel and Top Up codes. The internet is 3g during the day and nothing at night. Just guessing it is powered by solar and the batteries are going bad. About 9 am it comes to life and works to about an hour after sundown. (In the last 24 hours it appears to have been fixed).

As this is not a normal clearance port- we wait for the Customs and Immigration officers to come when a cruise ship checks in. We emailed the authorities earlier and received permission to arrive here and completed the paper. Other wise we would need to sail a daysail N to Port Resolution and pay to have the officials come across the island for clearance. Other cruiser didn’t even get cleared there; visited the volcano and then had to clear in at Port Villa due to weather and the officials deciding they  couldn’t make it. The Capitol of Vanuatu; a 150 nm North of where we are.

The bay at Aneityum Vanuatu.

We will head N once we have all the paperwork in hand and again the weather hopefully smiles on us.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Passage from Fiji….

June 18th, 2019

The passage to Vanuatu is documented in our Predict Wind blog. I will add a couple of things. The sea state was … bad. I was hoping for a similar to our trade winds crossing from the Galapagos. We are in the trades. What I never looked close enough at was that there are most always three wave trains in this area. Those that the trades have blown up, those from the South Pacific joining them and last the Seas from the Tasman. Friends on the catamaran Aloha left a day behind us and they had the same observations. The sea state was bad. They had waited a day longer for the seas to settle then we did.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Tad Boring

June 11th, 2019

We hope to clear out of Fiji tomorrow. We’re ready, but Mother Nature has not been. Oh, the winds are ok but the seas! We expect them to be calmed down enough to leave tomorrow. And Fiji, while being cruiser friendly in many ways is not for boaters leaving the country.  They want a 24 hour notice. The following day they will check you out, on their schedule and then you have one hour to get underway. Obviously they only understand travel by planes and not boats. Thus we must pick wisely and have a little luck.

That window appears in the next two days. David at Gulf Harbor Radio provides a meteorologist perspective on this area of the S Pacific and he’s a sailor. 6 days a week 7 months a year.  He and his wife Patricia provide a wx / sea report on the ham radio and streams it on Youtube.

While we’ve waited in the marina here there has not been much excitement. That itself is a good thing. We walk the dock and the Port meeting new people. One cruising couple are vblogers ( Aquarius )  who are having the time of their life (my words – not theirs) videoing their way around the world and sharing it. We met Ken and Isabel in Savusavu briefly and then they pulled up next to us in the marina. For the armchair sailors and the wannabe’s their videos are quite accurate of what the cruising life is like. Videoing seems to be the next wave of cruisers sharing this lifestyle; but, it is not for us. It takes a way to much time for me. So…. until we cast off…..

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Mother Nature is a PITA

June 7th, 2019

We’re ready. We’ve been watching the weather and the sea conditions.  Why is it that 5 days out everything looks good. As we close in on our departure time things start turning to crap. There is a (L) that has popped up just N or us and reforms S. But (L)’s can be problamatic. They spin off weird crappy microsystems.  Then there is the sea state. In the Tasman there is a huge (H). That is churning up some rather large seas. In general large seas are not an issue except when they are on the beam.  Then they can mess up a boat pretty bad.  A cruising aquaintence rolled his boat on this trip. Not fun, not in our plans.  Right now the swell is predicted to be 3-4 m and on top of that we would have  any wind blown seas.  Not our cup ‘o tea. So like any good sailor; we wait. And I can’t say we patiently wait. W/ is ready, I’m ready!  Come on Mother Nature; give us a break!

Red is Bad!

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Packin N’ Moving

June 6th, 2019

The headstay repair is completed. We loaded the dinghy on this am. It is all tucked in on the aft deck. W/ for the most part has been moving things around in the boat preparing for offshore. I’ve been checking the wx. It looks like Monday or Tuesday we will exit Fiji. We love this country and the people. The life here is not for us. Tennis is minimal and supplies are often hard to come by and expensive to import. The food is great and the anchorages quite excellent. The water gorgeous with an abundance of tropicals. But; there is more world to see, more people to met.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

The Cruisers Bane

June 4th, 2019

As long distance cruisers one thing is patently obvious. The worlds division in fastners is a real PITA!

We’ve replaced our headstay. They don’t have imperial wire here so we opted for metric. Ok, no big deal. Then we needed a metric fitting on the top and either a metric fitting to imperial screw for the turnbuckle or a new turnbuckle. We choose all new.

Next to  replace the headstay we pulled down the furler. While I really like our furler it is no longer made anymore. Parts are unavailable. I have a bunch of spares and a spare short Famet Furler for the staysail we’ve never put up; but that’s it.

I dropped one part overboard (into water I don’t wish to submerse myself).  To the machine shop I go. One out of four lost.  I have 4 new machined up. Two out of the four actually look like they will work. One definitely does and I secure the drum to the foil. Now on to the foil and the rest of the drum.

When we pulled off the foil I twisted off some screw heads. The studs were still in place. One I was able to remove with heat (the riggers had a torch) and the others I left in place.  Some of the screws I stripped the Phillips so I used a dremel to cut a slot. The blade on the impact driver removed them the rest of the way. That worked for the bulk of the screw removal. However, those screws were toast.

While I have a large inventory of fastners it is not infinite. When in a port with hardware or yachting stores I usually pick up what I need from them.  Store one; we don’t carry imperial anymore. Damn! Store 2; we don’t carry imperial anymore. Double DAMN!  Luckily I found some longer bolts that I could cut and use. Somewhere along the way I also lost my tap for the screw used. I was using it to clean out any corrosion in any of the fittings. Again, no one carried them here. And again; luckily, I had a second tap.

Cruise and carry or not,  supplies at your own risk.  Imperial vs Metric. It is pathetic that the US didn’t have the humility and courage to adopt all metric decades ago. As cruisers; when traveling to exotic lands we pay for that spinless choice.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Unexpected

June 2nd, 2019

The head sail foil for the roller furling is up. And because the new fittings set the bottom higher the top  block (I refer to them as Elephant ears) is closer to the halyards. This caused a serious problem when we made the passage from the US to the Virgin Islands.  At that time the Elephant ears caught and jammed  one of the other halyards keeping us from furling the sail. Thus, tomorrow I expect to pull one section and shorten it three inches. That would be about the height it has been for the last 8 years. Then I need to shorten the internal halyard that the Famet Reefurl uses. After that we hope a brief sea trial and then watch for another weather window heading West.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long