Home!! Sorry, we've had a hectic 48 hours doing formalities and covid tests and trying to organise repairs and trying to keep a 6 year old happy who's desperate, like completely desperate to get ashore and run around! We're still quarantined on the Q dock, under the watchful eye of our border patrol staff, while we await for the Covid test results - hopefully this morning!! thought we'd better check in on YIT anyway! Hugs to all and we'll look forward to catching up with you all in person really soon! Yay!
Ah me and my optimism!! I've a strong preference for it over pessimism, but sheesh does it suck when you get it wrong! The expected heading wind arrived about 12 hours earlier than forecast, so since about 7pm last night, we've been running a course that nicely puts us on target for East Cape - not quite the dream run we had hoped! So we are still about 110 miles away from Opua, but almost due east of our destination now, so we're hanging in there on starboard tack waiting for the forecast wind shift to the south, at which point we'll tack and (hopefully?!) run straight for Opua.. We'll see what the wind gods actually deliver! If the shift comes as expected, we should be in to Opua some time tomorrow morning....
Hey to you boats following closely behind - don't forget to pack your woolly socks before you depart French Poly - I know it seems like crazy talk now, but its freaking cold here!! I've been sleeping in merino long johns and a marino jersey, with thick socks on, under a sheet, duvet, and a blanket, and still struggling to stay warm enough, even with an Izzie-sized hot water bottle!! Where's the diesel heater when you need it! Keep Kool til after skool Patea out
As expected, the wind has headed us, but earlier and a little stronger than we had hoped... We're still going!!
Kia ora katou, wonderful people! So, yesterdays plan was to hook into the northern side of the low ripping over the North Island right now,and smoke our wake home in 30 plus knots of beam reaching madness. Sounded like fun. Ok, it sounded like fun, mainly to me. Ok, only to me. So common sense prevailed, after the SW swell which was coming straight at us, built to 3m, and was of sufficient height and period to underline the physics of particle movement within a wave, namely how fast the top part of an unbreaking wave circulates in the direction of movement. Fascinating stuff you say? Yes! We were moving at 6-7 knots, and although we dropped 2 knots through-water velocity whilst climbing each of these monsters, due to the circular, forward motion of the particles within the wave, particularly the crest, our over ground speed would drop to less than 1 knot - so that's about 4-5 knots of horizontal motion at the top of each of these monster waves! Then we would accelerate down the backside of each wave, but due to the wave motion acting against us on the way down, we would barely hit 8-9 knots! Fascinating! But I do digress..
So prudence did prevail last night, and with Kaths stern look (=sensible) we chucked the handbreak on, fully reefed the main and had a hanky out front, then proceeded to play for position, heading West at 3-4 knots to better position ourselves for a run home, with the forecast wind expected to drop to the 20s from the SW, and hopefully allowing a more reachy angle home, in less clench-inducing winds and a hopefully less washing-machine-esque sea state. Consequently, with Patea slowed to a gentle lollop, I think everyone got a reasonable nights sleep for a change - woop woop! Anyhoo, it looks like the low has passed sufficiently now that we can now bear away and run straight for Opua, which is what we are doing! Some stats, for the stats inclined Time: 1200 Tuesday 101120 (NZST) Speed (SOG): 3-8 kts Course (COG) 215T Distance to Opua (great circle): 220NM Average over ground speed this trip: 6.65kts Average VMG this trip: 5.98 kts Wx: Wind: 20-25 kts from 270, waves: 3m from SW, 1m from SE. 1m wind chop from NW. Its like a f@#king washing machine! Water temp has slunk to an all time low of 19.7 last night, and now a (slightly) more respectable 20C. Did someone say brrr???
Hello the world! Thanks all for sending through the news on Biden v the Orangutan - tis great news indeed! And sorry to any orang-utans that took offence to that comment - I'm sure you are much smarter than oranguman! Thanks also for the lime recipes - hopefully we'll get that started today! The wind dropped to less than 5 knots, and came from all over the shop last night, and we've had the motor on and off to get us through the light patches. Were now beating upwind into this low which is about to cross over Northland, which will likely bring with it some strong head winds and uncomfortable conditions aboard Pates. We're battening down, and hoping our genoa repair will withstand the onslaught. We're getting close, but this low is a hurdle which could add a day or more to our transit time - time will tell! Ready to be tucked up in Opua that's for sure! Hope alls well on land! Love and hugs Team Patea
Hello you lovely people! We've been blessed with stellar winds and flat water over the last 18 hours, and have managed to turn 30 degrees to port and aim straight at Opua, which is a good feeling. And the wind is, at least for the moment, holding on the beam at 12-15 knots - perfect! Lets see what that low which is about to roll over the top of NZ does for our breeze over the next couple of days, before we get too excited about arrival times! Funny enough we still seem to have plenty of fruit and veg - who'd a thunk that?! So we're actually needing to start to smash some of that back so we don't have to give any over to MPI later this week for destruction! Either that or we'll leave a stash floating around the Kermadecs and one of the fruitless boats following us can pick it up on the way past! We seem to be flush with pumpelmouse, oranges, apples, carrots and zucchini somehow..
We are now in the eastern hemisphere - its been 14 and a half months since we were here last - on the other side of the world in the Mediterranean - boy have we been to some pretty amazing places since then! We're lucky, blessed even, to have experienced these times and these places in a world that is mostly consumed with working hard for at least 50 years of your life, with 2-4 weeks holidays to enjoy downtime per year. And here we are, cruising around the world for years, avoiding (mostly) the strife of pandemics, under our own steam and at our own pace - a privilege very few get to experience these days. Its good to acknowledge how lucky we are every now and again:) And a little sad, that its all about to come to an end. Its got me thinking, is the 'modern' way of life, our nose to the grind stone approach, really that good for us? Is it really what we want, and what makes us happy? There is, I'm sure, a better way of living, its elusive, but out there I'm sure... Now, what does that look like and how does one make that happen, whilst still contributing to the world in a positive manner......... Anyhoo, ponderings aside, how are you guys doing?? Has anyone heard who won the darned election?!? Be nice to know that the world wont have to keep dealing with a half-drunk goofball riding shotgun with a flagon of whisky in his pink chubby hand! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and letr us know please!! Righto, that's about us. Keep smiling out there! We are!
Kia ora lovely people! The sun is shining, and we've had our first proper blue sky day today since like ages, and with the very, very light wind, its made for quite relaxing sleeping and sailing conditions, albeit very, very slow sailing. Yesterday I noticed the genoa had one of the top panels coming unstitched, so with the flat conditions today we dropped the sail on deck and made the repair. We're now ghosting along in 6-8 knots of breeze at the moment, and its all very nice, apart from our Opua arrival date pushing out a little further. Oh, and the vang which has developed a rather loud squeak. I hope its not a mouse.
In other news, Denis has shaved a moustache in, and I'm thinking about doing the same. Not sure if that will influence our check in procedures in Opua, but surely they don't screen for dodgy facial hair?
The heady days of fast broad reaching and dizzyingly high daily averages that we have enjoyed over the last week appear to be over, as the wind backed further and dropped over night. We had hoped for a heading of west, but ended up running at 290-300 for most of the night, doing about 0 knots VMG (O for Awesome) but with the sunrise came a slow shift in the breeze back to the north east, which is allowing us to now sail WWWSW - which is better than WNW! So we're making some VMG's again, albeit teensy weensy peensy VMGs! Yesterday I pulled all the autohelm electronics to bits, identified the likely problem with Michel Angelo, cleaned him, dried him tenderly, and now have the whole kit'n'kaboodle bundled up in rice whilst sitting in the sun, all cosy like (Denis loves our colloquialisms so I'm trying to rock as many as possible) . Although I'm getting impatient - I wana get this up and running again asap, so may have to try it later this afternoon
Just a quick update as we have had a busy day trying to fix things (thanks for the suggestions Max), and jump over international datelines and bake cakes and design tree houses and stuff. Wind has dropped back to about 15 knots and straight up the bum - not how we like it particularly. We've jibed and currently heading WNW - not towards Opua! We're working on it, all good!
End of week 1, woop woop! Aaaaand at about 5am this morning, we passed our approximate geographic midpoint, being 1076nm from Maupiti, where we departed, and 1076nm from Opua, where we intend on arriving, woop woop! Of course we've travelled further than that already, with the log reading 1115nm since departure, and in reality, who knows when the hell we are actually going to arrive into Opua with the forecast ahead of us, and the likely circuitous route that we will no doubt have to take! But, more importantly, and always to be celebrated, we moved onto the glorious LINZ chart NZ 605 - which, as always, and very excitedly, is the last chart you need on the way back to NZ - most definitely worth celebrating, woop woop! Ok that's enough celebrating. I'm exhausted. I'll just go have a quick cup-o-tea and a lie down..
Patea stats to the end of day 7: Time: 1300 Wednesday 041120 (NZST) Speed (SOG): 6-10 kts Course (COG) 230T Last 24hr distance: 195NM Last 24hr VMG distance: 192NM Distance to Opua (great circle): 1015NM Average over ground speed this trip: 6.8kts Average VMG this trip: 6.3 kts Wx: Wind: 20-25kts from 130, waves: 1.5m from S, water temp: 22.1, and continuing to drop! Fish to Happy trails, Patea signing out
Kia ora all! Patea is doing well - we collectively decided that hand steering isn't too onerous, and especially Selma has come leaps and bounds, and is now providing a perfectly steady (and not nervous at all) hand on the ship! With good SE breeze over the last 18 hours, and a forecast that suggests any arrival into NZ in 7-10 days will be faced with headwinds no matter which direction you come from, we've put the bow down and are reaching directly for home, cutting the corner considerably over the original, conservative plan. So we'll use the next 4-5 days of good breeze driven by the tropical low-pressure system that is bearing down on Northland currently, and will smash into northern New Zealand in the next couple of days, to make (hopefully) as many miles SW as possible. We've had friends on other boats using routing software and professional weather routing experts, which also suggest cutting the corner as a prudent move, and are now also doing the same. Time will tell if this will be good for us, or an enormous error! We're gambling that Patea can gallop home before the breeze drops and turns, as purportedly in about 7 days, 30-35 knot headwinds are forecast around northern New Zealand, so whe re and when (or if?!) we run into that will be critical! I'm hoping that we can smash out 200 mile days and be passing Cape Brett when it arrives..... Dreams are free and the reality will unfold! Patea stats to the end of day 6: Time: 1300 Tuesday 031120 (NZST) Speed (SOG): 6-10 kts Course (COG) 227T Last 24hr distance: 185NM Last 24hr VMG distance: 182NM Distance to Opua (great circle): 1204NM Average over ground speed this trip: 6.67kts Average VMG this trip: 6.06 kts Wx: Wind: 14-18kts from 150, waves: 1.5m from S, water temp: 23.3, and dropping! Fish to Righto, keep smilin' out there! Patea pushing passionately and pointed to oPua
To our great enjoyment, after two days of intense rain that has soaked every crevice and crack on Patea, the sun finally arose this morning, and the sky has returned to its typical tropical hues, mainly blue with a light scattering of puffy white drifting slowly across the horizon. We have serene winds from the SE sector, which is starting to dry the boat out, so that is a relief! Less exciting, Michel Angelo, our trusty autopilot, who has served us faultlessly over the last 2 years, has clearly been emotionally scarred by the lack of sunshine over the last 3 days. He has started drinking again. And I'm pretty sure he's gone straight to the Chartreuse (he normally drinks Uzzo, being Italian), and now he's completely incoherent and erratic - like a spoiled 2 year old child fighting with a 6 month old chimpanzee, running this way then that, then throwing his toys out of the cot and having a proper-lying-on-ya-back-flailing-legs-in-air tanty. No problem, we'll use our back up autohelm controller, our old chartplotter 'Manuelle', who has always been a little fickle, being partially blind and a raging alcoholic. So not that reliable normally, and it seems that both Michel Angelo and Maneulle have been drinking their way through this recent wet spell, and they are both refusing to report for duty. Sooooo with Michel Angelo back on the sauce, we've been hand steering for the last 24 hours, whilst Kath and I crawl into every nook and cranny on the boat checking wire runs and connectors. The job continues today, but we're thinking that the continual inundation with salt and freshwater onto our 10 year old autohelm controllers has led to water ingress, resulting in Michel Angelos heavy drinking problem, and our current predicament. Say la vie. Wish us luck as we problem solve. We've accepted that we'll be a little more 'hands-on' over the rest of the voyage, and Izzie may get more screen time than is ideal, but all good. Fun and games! And very jealous of you people tucked up, or about to be in Opua! Our friends on Windchase are due to arrive back into Opua today, after completing a 2 year circumnavigation - congratulations guys, an amazing achievement!! Now, whats next??!? Patea stats to the end of day 5: Time: 1200 Monday 021120 (NZST) Speed (SOG): 6-9 kts Course (COG) 250T Last 24hr distance: 175NM Last 24hr VMG distance: 157NM Distance to Opua (great circle): 1394NM Average over ground speed this trip: 6.46kts Average VMG this trip: 5.87 kts Wx: Wind: 12-18kts from 150, waves: 1m from S, water temp: 24.6, and dropping! Fish to date: 1
Well crikey, what an afternoon we had yesterday! You've heard the gist from Asher and Dani, but we had sustained 35-40, with gusts to 48 knots for about 6 hours, and more torrential sustained rain than I've ever thought possible - it was raining sideways and upwards at one point, and the only dry spot one could find on the entire boat was inside my mouth.. As it started to build to 30 knots, my wonderful wife-to-be convinced me it would be a good idea to put the third reef in, and I'm rather glad we did as the wind continued to build. But the rain was so intense that the 3rd reef was acting as a rain catcher and filling up the folded sail and lazybag faster than it could drain out - to the point that the whole thing was bulging with what I suspect was at least 500kg of water, and threatening to break the sail, lazy bag, and boom! So we dropped the rest of the main to reduce the rain collector, massaged the flood water out of the sails (I now know what its like to sta nd under the Hooker Falls), and wrapped the lazy bag up tight to stop water accumulating further. Job done! Kinda? We spent the rest of the day and early evening trying to keep watch in 40 knots with a hanky for a headsail in horizontal rain with vis down to about 50m, whilst dodging lightening bolts and being blown way off track and North towards the Island of Aitutaki about 15 miles away. Fortunately we weren't nearly as close to land as friends of ours 50 miles behind us on Bacchus (check em out on YouTube), who are a few miles behind us, who got uncomfortably close to being blown into the atoll of Manuae at the same time - phew! Anyhoo, we're enjoying a 6 hour respite from the rain and drying everything that we own - 5 people breathing in a locked-up cabin makes a lot of moisture!! Despite the weather, we do like to stick to our routines. And being that its Sunday, banana pancakes were enjoyed by all this morning, and we'll be working on banana bread, banana muffins, and maybe some banana cake later on today, perhaps followed by some sort of banana curry for dinner this evening. You'll never guess whats ripening rapidly on Patea. It could be my adolescence, or my socks. But its actually not either. Unfortunately in yesterdays blow, we lost our best boat rod (boo hoo) to the briny. We got knocked over yesterday by the combined forces of a wave and a bit of extra wind - who'd have thunk that we got so sideways that the siderails that the rod was mounted to must have been completely immersed to pull it out of its holder. Glad I wasn't sitting there at the time. Not that I could have got any wetter..
Our good friends the Spacegrazers arrived into Opua today, and Windchase is only a day away too - congrats to them, and cant wait to join the party when we arrive! Friends on 2 other boats left Bora Bora yesterday too - the race is on! :) Peeling-off, prancing pony Patea parlaying across the (partially) peaceful Pacific.
Well we certainly managed to find the expected hole in the wind. As of last night at 9pm the engine came on and we started slow-motoring, and it has only stopped for a brief 45 minutes since then, when we had a squall come through with 15 knots (in the right direction, for a change). Its been wet, quite wet, as rain cloud after rain cloud has continued to drop their contents on us over night and through today, but we've managed to have faux-showers on the back deck which has been quite refreshing.
I'm hoping we're only 6 hours away from reaching some consistent SE breeze, but time will tell. All is good aboard, sealegs have been found, and plentiful fruit and vege are being consumed! Patea Cultural Club Clear
The first 24 hours complete, and we have calm seas and light winds, perfect for us to slice through as we make progress across the trough of low pressure that stands between us and the SE trade winds. Its not nearly as fast as the perfect conditions we had for the first few hours yesterday, but good speed is being made anyway. The winds should drop shortly, and we'll likely have to turn the motor on this afternoon as we transition through the trough, but in the mean time we're rocking along in perfect conditions. Overnight we had consistent 15-25 knots on the beam, and now we have 10-15 knots on a tight reach.
Everyone got a bit of sleep last night, but the first night is always tough, so the coffee was definitely appreciated this morning. Tuna for lunch, and probably dinner too, num num! It looks like we had about a 20 mile head start on friends of ours on the boat 'Bacchus', who left from Bora Bora yesterday, so it'll be awesome knowing there's friends of ours just over the horizon, transiting this piece of the Pacific as well. We'll try tag them on the VHF if we can, and maybe share some crossing-the-international-date-line scones and tea with them! Alls going well on Patea, and everyone is happy, and mostly sleeping! Team Patea signing off
After a quick swim, were heading off! We'll have fresh conditions and fast sailing to start with, which may be a challenge for finding our sea legs, but after 36 hours blasting WSW we'll hit the SE trades, and they should stay til we're almost home, fingers crossed! Again we'll endeavor to up date YIT daily with our progress, but due to the vagaries of electronics at sea, don't be concerned if you don't hear from us. See ya'll in NZ real soon!!
Hugs from Kath, Izzie, Selma, Denis and Tim
Ah ha, finally the day has come! After several glorious weeks of magnificent holiday weather, mirror like seas and light winds, the breeze certainly has arrived over the last 24 hours! Originally due to depart yesterday with 10-20 knots forecast it was looking good, then the trough to the west of us deepened, and with the wind forecast up to 40, we decided to wait another day. So we had our second, last day in French Poly, which this time was spent doing a last fuel top up, swimming with mantas, and eating bagets and sweet treats from the patisserie. Yum! Patea is loaded with fruit and veg, and we're ready to go! So at 1030 local this morning, we pulled anchor, hoisted sails, said goodbye to the biggest mantas we have ever swum with, and headed out the narrow pass that dissuades many cruisers from visiting this beautiful, precipitously cliffed atoll. Thanks for having us French Poly - we'll be back again soon!! Friends of ours on Bacchus are also heading off today - hopefully we'll see them out here somewhere, as we head SW to the trades, which hopefully we will all be within tomorrow evening.
8 hours in and boat life resumes - Izzie is combating 'seasickness' (with emphasis on the inverted comas!) by watching dinosaur movies and hiding from the sun down below, Kath is dodging spray at the helm, Denis is on the downwind hull focusing on feeling good, and Selma seems much perkier now we have sails up and are on our way. I'm stoked cos we've got 18-20 knots of N allowing us to beam reach west at great speeds, even with 3 reefs in the main (we've been seeing squalls on anchor of up to 30 knots, so I'm expecting the same out here). And....
WE'RE GOING TO NEW ZEALAND!!!!!! Its particularly exciting, and (mostly) not too bitter sweet, being that this passage ahead of us heralds the end of 2 years of amazing, privileged and wonderful travelling and sailing for the RidingMores. We've visited some beautiful places, had many fantastic experiences, and have made some wonderful friends. I wish we could keep doing this in New Zealand!! Oh, just caught our first perfect sized tuna, which is providing sashimi this evening and tomorrow, plus dinner:) Hope everyones happy and well, hugs from the Patea's.
Maupiti! And we're here for another 18 hours, as we wait for the low pressure system to pass and the weather to settle, an, hopefully, heading of in 18 hours - fingers crossed! Oh, and did I mention that we all swum with a couple of the biggest manta rays I've ever seen this morning? Very cool way to spend our last day of cruising!
After a last quick provisioning trip through Raiatea, we're good to go! Going through check out formalities, and eyeing up a window to slip around a low coming our way, and slingshot west with good breeze and make some good time towards home! Or, maybe we stop past Maupiti on the way, wait a day for the low to pass, and then dawdle our way west - decisions decisions! We'll decide over a beer and a last dinner out in Bora Bora tonight, and then head somewhere tomorrow! We'll endeavor to keep YIT up to date as we progress, whatever the direction we end up going!
I trust it's warming up nicely in NZ, and we'll look forward to catching up with you all, really soon!
Big hugs from Kath, Izzie, Selma, Denis and myself, until we can give you all one in person!
It was with great surprise today that we received an email from Immigration NZ, clearing our wonderful crew, Selma and Denis, to sail with us to NZ! Everyone is stoked (especially Izzie who has become particularly fond of these guys over the last 5 months!), as that will make our passage back far more relaxed, and much safer should we have an issue - big thumbs up to the awesome NZ Immigration officials!
So we turned around and sailed back to Huahine where we.left them, and will pick them.up, get some more provisions, and then start our journey west ward! Giddyup!
We have just popped down to Taha'a to pick up some new batteries, and for a spot of snorkelling! We are likely into our last week in French Polynesia now, and are heading to Raiatea tomorrow for diesel and water to get us home. Interestingly, we have heard back from Immigration NZ, and they have approved our crew to apply for visas - so we are 2/3 of the way through the process... I don't want to jinx it, but you just never know......
We've had very little internet over the last month, so have actually been back to Fakarava, then on to Toau, Apataki, Rangiroa and Tikehau in the last month! Now we're in Huahine, where we are enjoying some surfing, snorkelling, and beach time with some other cruising families. And unfortunately preparing for our next long leg, which will be home! Still trying to get our Dutch crew visas to allow them to help us sail to NZ, but that's looking less and less likely - we'll see! Big hugs from all of us on Patea, hope everyone's smiley:)
After a quick night at the eastern pass of Toau, we headed a little further west to catch up with SV Windchase, before they depart for the Society Islands. Also found some surf to enjoy, some beaches to run around on, and some nice snorkelling! Hugs from Team Patea!
After a couple of days on the other side of the fakarava pass diving and snorkelling with a huge myriad of fish and sharks, we moved to the other side of the pass, dodging coral heads to sneak into the shallows for some kiteboarding in the turquoise waters of the lagoon. Izzie flew her kite and chased hermit crabs around the atols, and Kath, Selma and Denis kiteboarded:)
After a quick passage from Tahanea, we stopped outside Faaite to check the surf, caught a dog-tooth tuna (and released him back - too big!), and watched a pod of humpbacks broaching and playing with a small calf, and they came really close to us - about 50m away - very cool!!
We are currently in Tahanea enjoying some perfect snorkelling in 30m visibility turquoise water - it's first class! We are anchored in what is essentially an aquarium, and even though we are in 10m of water, the corals on the sandy bottom below us are crystal clear, as are the myriad of parrot fish, wrasse, juvenile bill fish, lump-head wrasse, pelagics and sharks that are constantly swimming around us on the transom of the boat. Its beautiful! We also had a humpback broaching inside the lagoon behind us this morning - a rare treasure to see! It's surprisingly busy here, with another 5 yachts on anchor stretching up the atoll, but other than the tiny light emitted by their anchor light at night, you wouldn't know they were here. We'll probably head to the atoll west of here, Faaite, and/or Fakarava in the next few days, where a potential surf may eventuate in the next few days - we'll see!. Thus far we have been bereft of swell :( First world problems and all that.. From Fakarava, depending on swell, we'll head to Aratika, Toua or my personal favourite - Apataki.
Hope everyones smiley! Team Patea
After an awesome month of touring around Nuku Hiva, we slipped off to Ua Pou for a few days (where we found the best handmade, local chocolate EVER!), and then headed off on the 500 mile passage to the Tuamotos. We made really good time, in fast reaching conditions, so ended up passing by our first destination, the atol of Raroia, in the early hours of day three. So we continued on to the Taenga for first light, but the pass was tight, boiling and the surf even dodgier at low tide, breaking onto vertical reef, so we did the prudent thing and carried on to Makemo. We arrived later that morning, and sailed straight through the pass during full ingoing tide (11 knots over ground!), and on up to the east end of the atoll, which was shallow, and spectacular in its colour and idyllic palm covered atoll surrounds. There were plenty of fish and sharks to be snorkelled with, and given the oceanic heatwaves that have been present over the last few decades, the coral was in sli ghtly better shape than expected. We had a couple of days hanging out here, with Selma and Denis dusting off the kite board and enjoying the turquise waters and spectacular visibility this location offers - this is what we are here for! We are waiting outa forecast 30 knot blow tomorrow, and will then head to the East end of Makemo for a couple of days surfing (if the swell lasts), then likely on to Tahanea for a couple of days snorkelling, then either Faaite or the south pass of Fakarava for some more water adventures! All are well on the good ship Patea, and we trust the rest of the world is doing ok amidst the covid challenges - best wishes all
Happily and safely tucked up in Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia, having had a wee nana nap after arrival, we are now cooking up one of the three Mahi mahi that we hooked up with just as we were entering the harbour! Having a couple of cocktails, and sayinghello to all the other sailors on anchor around us, as we start our quarantine period - hopefully be all done in a couple of days and free to roam! Bring it on!!!!
Happily and safely tucked up in Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia, having had a wee nana nap after arrival, we are now cooking up one of the three Mahi mahi that we hooked up with just as we were entering the harbour! Having a couple of cocktails, and sayinghello to all the other sailors on anchor around us, as we start our quarantine period - hopefully be all done in a couple of days and free to roam! Bring it on!!!!
Hey all, we've been here for 24 hours thus far, and enjoyed fresh Mahi Mahi for dinner (did I mentioned that we hooked up with 3 Maha Mahi simultaneously on all 3 hooks on the way in the harbour entrance yesterday morning?!), followed by a wonderful nights sleep! We're in quarantine for at least the next few days, as we are unable to get our paperwork sorted yet, which means no going ashore or getting a regular sim card. So you wont be hearing from us via the usual WhatsApp/Messenger/email comms until we get that sorted. Be assured that we are all good though, and have had some friendly neighbouring boats drop some bananas, bagettes and a mango off to us - yum!!!
Not wanting to arrive too early this morning, we reefed down last night and slowed the boat down, which fortuitously also allowed a better sleep for us all. At 2am this morning - Laaaaaaannnd Hooooo!! Denis on watch had the pleasure of being the first of us to sight French Polynesia!! We rounded the North side of the precipitous Ua Huka at 4am local this morning, looking dark and ominous under a crown of cloud. Even three miles off the island, the smells of tropical flowers and lush forest, intermingled with the faint smell of coconut-infused woodsmoke was surprisingly delicious, after a olfactoraly depauperate 3 and a half weeks at sea! We tightened up and reached down to Cape Tikapo on the SE corner of Nuku Hiva in light winds. On cue, the sun began to rise as we approached this mountainous island, casting a lovely orange glow across the vertical cliffs on the sou-eastern corner of the island. Ahhhh, land again!! very cool! Righto, going to drop the pole, set the a nchor up, and go say hello to the Taiohae locals! Our stats for the trip! *6 tuna caught, 2 released (too big!) *1 Mahi Mahi *1 Wahoo *2 lures and a chopping board lost (wtf?!) *4171nm travelled in 599.75 hours (24 days, 23.75 hours) *Average speed 6.95Knots *Median speed 7.46knots *best 24 hour run 249 nm *31 tacks performed *0 gybes required! *sailed 98.4% of total distance *67nm motoring or motor sailing (1.6% of total distance travelled), adding 17 engine hours, using 22 l of diesel, and 10ml of gearbox oil (phew!).
*82 additional engine hours for charging batteries using 87 l of diesel (total engine hours 99 and fuel consumed 109 l). This stat reminds me of how shagged our batteries are, and how small our alternator is! *1 vang block exploded *1 preventer shackle annihilated *280l of water consumed, or 2.25l used per person per day (boat record!) *satellite data - 120 minutes used *blocked toilets, 0 *2 exploded fizzy cans in the bilges (why, oh why?!) *times rained - 1 *rainfall collected - 0 *max windspeed - 24knots *happy campers = 5!
Somehow the wind has mostly hung in there, only backing 15 deg to the E over night, so we've managed to keep (mostly) going in the right direction, doing great time towards Nuku Hiva over the last 3 days. We've just ticked off 4000nm on this journey, and with less than 120 miles to go the excitement is palpable! (or is that nutritional neglect and social isolation combined with extreme over-tiredness artificially stimulated with too much caffeine? Who would know!).
The last few days of breeze has also come with several different swell patterns, which has added some challenges to getting sleep, and we're all feeling it now. With an early prediction of a dawn arrival tomorrow (I know I know, churlish, fraught with danger and likely to be regretted!), we may hove to tonight for 3-4 hours and get some kip, which would push our arrival time back to a far more gentlemanly time of late morning tomorrow. Buuuut we will see what the weather gods deal us over the next 18 hours or so.
Right now we're still broad reaching in 16-22 knots, as we have been for the last few days. The miles have been really good, but the rollyness of the last few days not so! We've been sailing pretty much on port tack for the last three weeks, so for the first time In forever we are contemplating our first gybe for the trip, probably later on tonight! Or maybe we'll avoid that 'extreme' hardcore manoeuver and just bare away on the other jybe after hoving too! Oh, tis so nice to have choices! I'm amazed how little water the five of us have used, less than 250l thus far (mind you, we've only been showering weekly, and only using fresh to wash the salt off!). We're fortunate enough that we haven't had any major breakages yet (I'm really asking for trouble saying that out loud!), but have a long list of small repairs to do when we arrive.
There has been a small fleet of boats that have left up to a week before us, and the first of them made it in yesterday, with another arriving today, and us third in the pack arriving tomorrow, with several more due over the next week or so.
Another friend has not been so lucky, Paul from Ohana stopped at the Columbian island of Malpelo to repair his halyard and headsails, but over night the mooring he was on broke, and Ohana hit the island, damaging his bow, destroying his pulpit and breaking his forestay chain plate, but amazingly he's still afloat with a standing rig. He managed to motor off avoiding rocks and a catastrophe, and has motored to the Columbian mainland and is hoping to undertake repairs in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed for him that can happen, and he can get back out here and get across the Pacific..
Anyhoo, on that cheery note, we're looking forward to a beer, some fresh fruit, and a bit-of-a-lie-down! Patea Cryogenically Deprived Club signing off for the 2nd to last time:)
Just 350nm to go! All aboard are very excited (ok, so in truth everyone apart from Izzie is asleep right now!), but with the current speeds we are achieving (195nm in the last 24 hours, averaging >8knots), we should be arriving into Nuku Hiva early on the 16th of July, local tim (which equates to early on the 17th NZ time, or late on the 16th, Europe time). I'm salivating already thinking about the fresh bagettes and croissants, fruit and vege, and maybe a big ass steak frittes at a local restaurant! Hugs to all, speak soon, Patea Cultural Club, Eastern Polynesia Dvn
We have some wind and current back, so are smoking down the line straight towards Nuku Hiva, which is now only a little more than 500 miles away, or about 3 days! Its a good time to repeat some prose from our on-board poets, who put a few pieces together for our equator crossing, including this little gem :) Selma and Denis were dressed as gods of the North and the South? Denis in full winter cloths and Selma like a tropical cocktail.
Nort I am the God of the North and prefer the weather to be cold and severe.
Being so close to the zero is what I fear! But for such an occasion I have overcome my fears, all the colleague Gods were in tears.
I changed my busy agendah and flew straight to the ?Equatah?, To bless this beautiful vessel and her crew for a safe middle-Earth crossing and to make sure you avoid all the nightmares Poseidon could through at you, among which the kraken, giant squids and 20bft squalls, just to name a few.
I have been told about the great adventures of Tim, Kath and Izzie Who started in Europe and hoped to get home in one year if it would be breezy.
But after two weeks on board of gracious Patea the plan was extended and one year added.
This is the North! Nobody escapes soon, as for each sailor a full adventurous program is carefully tailored.
I wanted you to be mine! I even once dug your anchor loose near Mediterranean coast to keep you and your yacht to myself without any competition.
Even if this would mean Patea?s demolition.
You almost escaped but I couldn?t let you go so soon, so the North brought Covid to keep you longer with me under Shelter Bay?s moon.
With dozens of other stranded souls, I kept you in this safe yet vibrant balloon.
Who would have ever known that this spiteful delay would bring you together with two world explorers who exchanged four wheels for a sail.
Denis and Selma joined you and contributed a 100 wild mango?s ?trophey?.
It may not be what you planned for in the waters of the Pacific, but I see that they can learn from you, spare you some sleepless hours and make this trip quite terrific! My plan failed again and here you are safe and well rested halfway to the lands of French Polynesia.
I must say, it is spiteful to let you go, the North will miss you, one thing you could thank me with is a bit of rum for some anaesthesia?? The North wishes you fair winds and following seas, Sincerely yours, God of the North, Peace! Sout The North is history, but what lies ahead of you is a mystery! Will, the southern gods that pulled the islands from the sea, be just as gentle to you? Let?s see? Will the Southern hemisphere bring as much cruising joy, or will you be swept around by the ocean like a toy? Will you find the promised lands and more full of mountains with lush forests and all the fruits you can wish for? Will you catch the Mahi-Mahi that captain Tim promised? So you can tick that of the list? Will you get bugger-all wind or will Poseidon show his real face, so you can finally catch up with Moira and Windchase? All that lies ahead of you, beautiful swells on fringing reefs You might find it all still hard to believe? Well, the future is a mystery, let?s make new history! As demi-gods we declare this boat worthy of Equator crossing, we send a message to Poseidon to inform him of our blessing.
But we will need to take a sacrifice, for this we will not ask you twice.
Everyone on this crew, will be marked with a sailor?s tattoo!
All Gee on the PaTea
The wind has continued super light over the last 24, with the biggest gusts we've seen coming from the E@10knots - mostly its been 6-8 knots from the E or ESE, so we've had to sail deep, at 200 deg T for most of the night - far from ideal. I got bored of the 4 knot speeds and slapping sails at 1 am this morning and motor sailed for 4 hours, the first time we've had to motor sail since day 2. The wind started to oblige again at 5am (a lofty 7-9 knots T of SE) so back to sailing at 100 deg AWA at 240T. Yay. I hate using the engine, all that unnecessary noise, maintenance and expense! Update - now we have 10-11 knots of SE so we are practically rocketing along on a reach! Were excited for friends on boats who left in the days before we did from Panama, and are now getting close, days away, from French Polynesia! They have judiciously used the currents and winds (and their engines!) to sneak ahead of us, and are just 3 days away from fresh bagettes, croissants, fruit and vegetables - ahh, so jealous!! These boats have all had resident boobies roosting on deck over night, and leaving considerable 'deposits' on deck! We have (somehow) managed to avoid them roosting for the whole trip, although our beautiful white sails are covered in their 'deposits', as they seem to like hunting the flying fish that run from under our bow, gliding just in front of the headsail, and diving straight for unlucky flying fish that take flight to evade Patea, returning after each successful foray to crap all over our white genoa! Not sure how I'm going to get that out! First world problems!
We've had a day of equatorial celebrations, sacrifices, poetry, prose and giggles! Everyone has had a hair cut, some more extreme than others, and both Izzie and Kath were subjected to 1 minute haircuts handed out by the captain, significantly reducing the length of hair to above the shoulder! I reckon I did great;) Although I'm not considering a vocational change! My heads been shaved, and just quietly I'm working on doing Denis' too! Equatorial pancakes were prepared, and an appropriate, love-heart-shaped pancake (as devised by Izzie) was offered to Neptune, slathered in some of the last of our fresh fruit, honey and cinnamon, and washed down with some Panamanian rum, which we are hoping were to King Neptunes liking, and will appease him enough to continue to provide us fair winds and calm seas, of which we have all been very appreciative to date! Our local tattoo artists Selma and Denis have inked us all with appropriately nautically themed symbols, and we're just whipping up some cocktails for an afternoon of celebrations - equatorial, and distance - we're coming up on 3/4 of the distance done (ok, so maybe we're about 100nm short but, close enough!).
Happy trails everyone!
At 109 local time, 909am UTC on the 9/7 we crossed the equator! Being the middle of the night most everyone was of course asleep, but Denis and myself celebrated as we changed night watches with a small fist pump and a bro-five, and the sacrifices to Neptune will begin in the morning!
That current was certainly nice while it lasted, but the dream run is over for now and we now seem to be struggling to make hull speed, despite good wind, so likely dealing with a little adverse current. We also are starting to drag our own little reef system on the starboard topsides of the boat, which has now been semi-permanently immersed for several weeks of running in the same direction! Kath and I have been removing goose barnacles from our transom (Lepas spp., ubiquitous throughout the worlds oceans, easily identified by the 2 grey/white plates (shells, like a small flat grey-white mussel) delineated by dark edges, and the whole lot supported by a soft rubbery neck (tooks like a teensie weensie pecker!) which is a similar length to the shell, or slightly longer, and attaches to sections of your hull without antifoulling. And there is definitely green filamentous algae starting to grow on our starboard topsides too. The goose barnacles will be easy to remove whilst they are young, but they are hard to reach while we are sailing! As long as we do this in the first few days of our arrival in FP they shouldn't leave any trace behind. The algae is more problematic...
We'll be ticking off 2/3 of the way through this passage this afternoon, and have started our dive south and will be crossing the equator tomorrow, so lots of reasons to celebrate! And sacrifices to be made me maties, har har!! There's talk of shaving some heads, so we'll see how that progresses!!
We've had quite a kick from the current over the last 36 hours, from about 109W to 114W which has been awesome, and as of 1am local this morning Patea set new 24 hour records of 249nm OG and 227NM VMG. In the last hour we've run out of current, but the excellent sailing conditions (14-16 knots at 70deg apparent) continue to allow us to tight reach at 8-9 knots OG with two reefs in the main and the genoa, and flat seas making it very comfortable.
Izzie's two favourite educational apps have stopped working, so that has slightly reduced the happiness factor aboard, and upped the 'adults-playing-kids-imagination-games-all-day' ante, which is freakin exhausting!!!! We're heading to the equator at about 120W, and will continue our curve southward at that point. Patea is also into her longest passage ever, and likely to more than double the previous longest (Cape Verdes to Martinique 12.5 days). The boats doing great, and us crew are holding together too thus far!
We're back into the breeze, and with a little helpful current we are smoking along, sustaining over ten knots average all night long! Beeeeaauutiful! And one happy skipper! And no need to put the big gennaker up, although that hasn't improved the last 2 days fishing stats at all - zip! Expecting to arrive in French Poly in about 11-12 days at this stage:) Patea just ticked over 14 days at sea, with pretty good figures since we left Panama: 2238nm sailed over 337 hours, average speed 6.65knots, avg 24 hour run of 159.5nm and 137VMG, and bests of 227nm and 213VMG - pretty happy! Although we are essentially no further ahead time or distance wise than the last trip on our 36' Oceanus (but I blame that on staying north of the equator and missing out on the bigger breeze in the southern hemi). However its been a much more comfortable lolip on this route with flat seas and sublime winds. And its been much cooler this route too - our SSTs have stayed in the low 20s up until today, when they have started to rise noticeably - we have jumped from 23 to 24 yesterday, and 24 to 26 deg C this morning already. I expect we will all be sweating from today onwards! All happy and healthy, although we only have 2 mangos left!!
New 24 hour speed record for Patea! 237nm, and 214VMG miles -happy campers!!
HALF WAY!!!! Geographically speaking, that is! We should be over half way time wise, having been at sea now for almost 14 days, and with an estimated 13 days still to run! Saw our first fishing boat last night, which was like a glowing beacon of a million lights - likely squid fishing - and other yachts in the surrounding 600 mile area are seeing lots of other industrial fishing activity out here on the high seas. Hopefully we'll catch a fish today too - its been 2 days since we've had fish and Denis and I are definitely ready for more!
All G yo
I spoke too soon! After our best ever 24 hour run of 227nm @ 1900 local last night (and 213 VMG), the wind and current have dropped! We are now 'drifting' along at a steady 6-8 knots SOG, with the wind about as far aft as we can manage without using a gennaker. Comfortable enough anyway, despite the disappointing loss of speed. The crew have rebelled against my desire to drop the lines back over (ok, so the ladies were the actual rebels!), as apparently we've eaten too much tuna in the last couple of weeks! I'm still hoping for some mahi mahi, but apparently the risk of tuna bycatch is considered too high by some! First world problems! Ah, the little things - I've been revelling in my spreadsheet, and giving the (delighted) crew blow-by-blow updates on our status (like we're now 2/5ths, 4/9ths, 8/23rds of the way there, etc etc), and it may not give them joy but it does me! We've had surprisingly cool sea surface temperates along this equatorial route - I recall it being much warmer (like SST of 29 deg) a few degrees south of here - another reason to stay where we are right now - its a very comfortable, mid 20's temp! Happy trails, the Patea crew
Still rolling, doing 220nm days and 210 VMG days - awesome! May it last for the next few weeks!
Over a third of the way there, as of last nightust with a mere 2589 miles left to go! The Mangos are still keeping us vitamin infused, and we have a few apples and oranges left, before the dried fruit take over the nutritional requirements! Kath has been doing an amazing job of preparing most dinners, with Selma filling in and providing other cooked goodies for lunches - I stick to what I know - Sunday morning pancakes! We picked up another good sized tuna yesterday, so we are once again gorging ourselves on fresh fish, which Denis and I are particularly enjoying (Irina, we're looking after your boy with meat!). Other than that, just another day on the ocean! Although last evenings star and moon-filled skies, flat seas and perfect beam reaching conditions were pretty stellar - bring on many more champagne sailing nights like that!
Well hellooooo freight train! We're finally moving, and really well, on the South Equatorial Current, which is adding about 2-2.5knots to our boat speed. Which constantly reads >10 knots for the last 12 hours, and hasn't dropped below 9, now that we are west of the Galapagos, awesome! We spent the whole of yesterday weaving past a handful of the Galapagos Islands, including getting pretty close to the top of the largest, Isla Isabella, just as the sun was setting last night - very photogenic, with the drone doing overtime running loops around the boat! The 10-12 knot S breeze is now abaft the beam @110deg, and our rolling motion is slow and manageable, and everyone slept well last night. These are the conditions that we are expecting until we arrive in the Marquesas:) We are now well outside of the Galapagos Marine Park, so the lures have just gone back in the water, as the last of our tuna was consumed last night for dinner. After our slight diversion to take in some of the Galapagos, we are now heading slightly N of W, to give us better sailing angles as we approach the Marquesas in a few weeks time. We'll head west at about 1 deg N, just above the equator for as long as we can, before the trade winds evolve into ESE and E, and we start our descent towards French Polynesia. Lets hope we can maintain these speeds as we will be there in less than 2 weeks at this rate! With the lovely afternoon sailing past Isabela yesterday it was very hard to not have a cold beer - very much looking forward to that in FP! Patea signing out.
We have cleared the adverse current and are now transiting through the middle of the Galapagos Islands - we passed Isla Genovesa 3 hours ago, and are just passing within a half mile of Isla Marchena currently. There's been heaps of birds around (2 species of gannet/booby, and 2 species of small godwit-type fellas. We've seen the pre-requisite sea lions basking at the seas surface, and the boat is covered in sufficient guano to demonstrate our time here! We're heading to the Northern end of the largest island now, Isla Isabela, where we will duck into the lee of the island and heave-to for a few hours, so that we can fine-tune a couple of things before heading across the Pacific proper.
Hope everyones doing great, we're all loving the wind on the beam and the ease in the motion, a big improvement in the relatively uncomfortable upwind sailing conditions of the last week! Team Patea signing off for now!
And the wind continues to go around, and we are now close reaching in flatish conditions, out of the adverse current, and starting to pick the average speeds up over 6knots, hitting 9's on occasion. Cant wait til we have the current helping us too, and then we'll really start to fly!We're about 200 nm away from the Galapagos ISlands, which we will pass to our south, hopefully with some moonlight if no sunshine to enjoy them from afar - we will see! All is well on the good ship Patea, especially after Sunday morning pancakes!!
We're all still smiling, and now we're over half way to the Galapagos (390nm away so will hopefully pass through before sunset Monday night and get a glimpse), we feel like we are making progress! Izzie is doing great - enjoying the daily movies, and has had her sea legs for pretty much the last 12 months now, which is great! Arnold, the avacado seed is however, a bit of water hog - he keeps falling over and dropping his water, and is proving to be a less-than-ideal pet on board, however the crew are attached to our little monochot so we'll keep him alive for crew morale! We've heard from friends on another boat who just arrived into FP yesterday, and everything went well for Clio re arrival, which bodes well for us! We feel like we're finally shaking the counter current, as our average speeds startr to creep back over 6 knots, and we are hitting 7's and 8's when the waves settle down. The wind is consistently from the SSW now, about 50 degrees aparent, no less than 10 knots and no more than 18, so its almost perfect sailing conditions (although still a little rolly!). After our last 'issue' with mildly parasitic fish, we only ventured our lures out again yesterday, but promptly landed 2 very large tuna (ok, so it wasn't prompt at all - each fish took about 20 minutes to haul in), but way too large for the five of us to eat and our fridge to store, so they got released to swim again. The third was still huge, but slightly less so, and after Denis' massive disappointment at having had to release the first fish (under extreme duress - 'I've never released a fish, ever, ever!!' *sob*), we kept the third, and will be gorging ourselves on tuna for the next few days. Gota love the productive Pa cific! And fortunately no parasites in this one, and it was delicious lightly seared last night. We'll be having sashimi shortly:)
We are still fighting several knots of current and we celebrate whenever we (occasionally!) touch on 6 knots over ground - cant wait til the equatorial current were we should add 3-4 knots boat speed!! But, we had our first night without tacking, having consistent SSW breeze at 16-18knots, so maintained the same 255deg course for the whole night - very nice for a change! The wind went back to SW and WSW on occasion this morning (just long enough to warrant tacking, then it goes straight back to SW...), so we've already executed 8 tacks this morning - the crew are getting sharp at tacking!! And still dealing with the counter current, although it has reduced from about 2-3knots down to 1.5-2knots. Ate our last pineapple this morning, definitely missing bananas that ran out last week, but still got plenty of mangos! Tradesies anyone?!? Team Patea, doing well, over and out for another day
Our planned plunge south has been thwarted by SSW wind of 16-20kn for the last 12 hours, so last night we tacked (for the 75 billionth time) and have been pounding our way into the steep chop heading slightly S of W, making between 3-5kn into the current. I really wanted to be south of 2N when we turned, but the prospect of sailing away from FP and going backwards at 2-3nm/hour just wasn't palatable! Our performance stats I can't bear to report - both distance covered (between 124nm - 90nm/day) and VMG (between 101nm - 29nm/day!) stats for the trip so far I feel I could out-do on an old Lazer! Such is the challenge of sailing against 2-3 knots of counter current! If we can get south a further hundred miles then we should be clear of the current and then we'll be in more favourable winds - everyones looking forward to that, as the motion on the boat is preeeety uncomfortable right now! Patea sending hugs and cuddles to everyone xox
Although we have consistent breeze now, mostly between 8-15knots from the SW, its changing regularly, and occasionally wildly through S to W. So we are sucking it up and tacking with the wind changes, which with a couple of knots of WSW counter current makes for some pretty horrible COG tacking angles - about 150- 160 degrees, ouch! But with limited fuel, that's just what we have to do! The positives - we are back heading straight at Malpelo, so that may still be a brief swimming option..
However, our mango situation is getting dire, we have about 70 left, all of them are ripening too fast to eat, so we're starting to toss the occasional one - what a waste! If anyone has ideas on what to make out of over ripe mangos then free text it to us at the iridium website (https://messaging.iridium.com/, and enter our sat phone no - 8816 315 91645)! Best suggestion wins adoration and appreciation from all of us here! Hope you're all doing good out there, take care, from the Patea crew
After the last couple of days of very light and fickle winds, the sou'westers kicked in last night, leaving us sailing tight to the wind and sailing south towards the equator. We'll try to get to 2 degrees south before we run out of ocean at the Colombian coast, and then we'll tack west and all going well the SW will gradually turn south and we'll be into the trade winds. Unfortunately this angle won't allow us to get to do a quick stop and a swim in the Colombian island of Malpelo, which is a renowned marine reserve with amazing diving - we'llpass to the east of it by about 80 nm. Everyone is happy and healthy, and slowly adapting to the new-norm: sleeping whenever they can (apart from Izzie, who is happy with 11 hours every night!), and taking it easy. Books are being read, and mangos are being consumed! The trevali is finished, but apparently we've got a vegan dish lined up for tonight, so the fishing lines will go back out in earnest tomorrow!
100 miles down, 3700 to go! Apart from the light wind, we've had an awesome first day, with breaching whales, a large school of dolphins hanging out beside the boat doing acrobatics and surfing the bow for an hour, and a good sized trevali landed that will provide the protein for the next few days - and that was only in the first two hours! The wind has been light, between 4 and 7 knots but from useful angles, allowing us to get west as much as possible, which will give us a better sailing angle for the predominant sou-westers that we are expecting to arrive over the next day or so.
Last night with the sunset, the wind dropped to zero, so we slow-motored through the mirror-like waters of the Panamanian Basin, with the vibrant glow of phosphorescence lighting the way. The breeze came back up to 4-7 knots this morning, so we are back to sailing at 4-7 knots, with some helpful current. Off on the horizon to starboard is the headland of Punto Mala, which we will likely lose sight of before the end of the day - our last views of Panama, and likely land of any form for the next month.
The hundred remaining mangos are ripening fast, so the standing orders are to consume at least 10 per person per day - not too much of a hardship at the moment but after a few days the novelty may wear thin! Happy trails everyone!
Our last few days in Panama have been spent at this glorious little spot in the southern Las Perlas, gorging ourselves on the mangos that grow all over the place, and amassing mangos and coconuts for our impending departure across the Pacific. Everyone's happy and healthy, and we are due to depart first thing in the morning, for what will be our longest passage - some 4000 nautical miles through to French Polynesia. Our route will likely take us south towards Equador, before we head west, likely passing close to the Galapagos, and then on to either the Marquesas or Gambier Islands in French Poly. We'll be in good company, as several other boats heading home have departed over the last couple of days, so we'll do our best to catch them up.
As per usual, we'll do our try to update YIT every couple of days with progress, but if we have technical issues with our sat phone or internet connection, don't be too surprised if you don't hear much from us until we arrive in French Polynesia some time around the 20th of July.
Happy plastic-free July everyone, and we'll be in touch soon!
We stayed on several occasions around the lovely islands of Mogo Mogo (where Survivor was filmed) and Chapera, and with plenty of healthy coral we dined most nights on fresh snapper, supplemented by emperor and spanish mackerel on occasion - not too shabby. We also popped over to the neighbours for a barby and some beers on occasion, whilst the kidlywinks ran amok and swam, tree swung, built sand sculptures and roasted marshmallows over the fire - an awesome little spot!
We welcomed back our good friends on Spacgrazer today, who just got through the canal, and have 3 kids between 7 and 9 on board. These three have been Izzies besties whilst we were stuck in Shelter Bay, so Izzie is stoked and spent the day in the water with them, before we had to tow them back to their boat, on the way to a cheeky little surf on the southern reef of Contadora - good fun!
We also welcomed new crew to the boat today - Selma and Denis, who were our neighbours in Shelter Bay, and who fortunately were keen on joining us on the next legs of our trip, through to French Polynesia and maybe beyond! Izzie too is excited - she's getting sick of just mum and dads company on the boat! Welcome guys!
After a couple of nights sitting on a mooring ball outside the Balboa Yacht Club, watching the constant stream to enormous shipping steaming by 100m away, we hoisted our sails for the first time in almost 3 months and south, to the normally bustling resort island of Toboga, with the Aussies on Clio. The island had a beautiful beach, but was currently desolated with the COVID restrictions in place. Izzie and I swam ashore and built sandcastles and chased crabs on the beach for a few hours, whilst admiring the myriad of birds that seemed to have taken back the now human-free beaches. It seemed that we were lucky though, as our friends on SV Clio tried to do the same the next day and got escorted to the Police station by the military, given a warning and told to get back to their boat asap! Apparently swimming, and going to the beach are off limits in Panama at the moment. Oops. We’ll head to somewhere a lot more remote before we try that again!
After a surprisingly exhausting 10 hour transit, we are through the Mira Flores locks, and into the Pacific! Finally we can run for NZ if we need or want to – very exciting! We did spring a very small leak in the gearbox during the transit, so we will need to get some parts ordered and wait for them to arrive before we head across the Pacific, however that will give us time to enjoy and explore some of the glorious west coast of Panama, including the Las Perlas Islands, where we will head to shortly. Cruising life – lets get back to it!!!
Once out of the locks, our raft of three boats dropped our lines and proceeded on in single file, overtaking the ship that was in front of us. 4 hours should have us through to the next lock system, Pedro Miguel, where we will transit into the Miraflores lake, a small lake between the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, which then releases you to the Pacific!
Gatun lake just so happens to be a highly diverse ecosystem. The flooding of the lake some 110 years ago led to many islands being created, separated from the mainland by the newly formed lake. Each of these islands is covered in lush tropical forest. Bird and insect life is wonderful, and there are a myriad of reptiles (including crocs) and lots of mammals, from monkeys to Kinkajou and Jaguars. Unfortunately the ‘short cut’ had been closed to boats for 4 years, and this used to be where you could get close enough to see much of this wildlife, so restricted to the main channel we didn’t get to experience first hand many of the animals around.
An early start, with our Canal Advisor Carolina joining us at 430am. With Covid in force, all the usual yacht advisors have no work, instead pilots-in-training are being used. Carolina is one of two women training to pilot the big ships through the canal – the NeoPanamax ships, that are 160’ wide and 1200 long – massive things! And we passed several of them whilst we crossed the canal today!
At 530 am, we rafted up with the two Australian boats that would be our companions for the crossing, Clio and Magic Bullet. The catamaran goes in the middle, whilst the two monos were positioned on the outside of the raft. We entered the first of the Gatun locks at 6am, with the sun just starting to rise, following a large container ship in to the locks. Four messenger lines were thrown down from the top of the locks, which our big mooring lines were attached to, then we slowly motored into position, before our lines were pulled up the walls of the lock, and secured to enormous bollards. The gates closed behind us, the line handlers took up the slack, and the water started rising! With the water levels in the Gatun lake at an all-time low, they now recycle the water back up a lock, so the level changes quite slowly. This was quite relaxing, compared to our crossing on Oceanus in 2016, where the water flowed in and out of the locks very rapidly, creating massive turbulence, like riding a bucking bronco.. once we were raised about 10 meters in the lock, the next lock was opened, messenger lines were returned to us, and wharfies walked the lines forward whilst our raft slowly motored into the next lock. When in position in the next lock, lines were run back up to the ships bollards, and the process was repeated. Three locks later and we were in Gatun lake!
10 weeks after arriving into Shelter Bay with a plan to spend 3 weeks doing work on the boat before transiting the canal, and oh how things have changed! COVID brought a new perspective to our travels, and with a huge amount of good fortune, left us ‘stranded’ in Shelter Bay Marina. Unlike most other cruisers, we weren’t stuck on anchor, unable to go ashore, unable to provision properly, unable to check out, or even check in to a country. Some boats were stuck in limbo, having checked out of one country pre-COVID, and stuck in limbo as international borders closed with no-where to go and no-one accepting them.
Instead, Patea had the good fortune to be amongst a small group of other cruisers and families, isolated from the outside world on a peninsula surrounded by native bush, monkeys, agoti, coati, all manner of reptiles, beautiful tropical birds and butterflies, majestic falcons, eagles and vultures. It is 20 Km to the nearest city, but there was just no need to go and potentially expose ourselves to COVID, as we had an on-site shop which provided a steady stream of mangos, pineapples, pawpaw, melons, plus all the usual stuff. We also had an on-site restaurant, which skirted the regulations and continued to operate as a ‘delivery only’ service, providing lunch and dinner delights, delivered to your boat, 6 days a week.
The Panamanian military, the Aeronaval patrolled the entrance to the marina, and the road entrance on the land, so there was never a significant risk of COVID arriving in our community by sea or land. Juanjo, the marina manager went above and beyond, moving his family onto a boat just before Panama was shut down, and then did everything in his power to ensure those in the marina were looked after, safe, fed and watered. New arriving boats had to adhere to a 2 week quarantine period outside the marina, before passing a health check and being allowed in. During this time the usual 40-50 marina staff were also shut out, with only 5 staff ‘locked in’ for the duration. All the cruisers lent a hand to keep the marina running, doing many of the mundane tasks that were necessary to keep the marina facilities operating - cleaning, boat handling, hauling and splashing boats, maintenance, running the shop, laundry and chandlery, etc.
And then there was the company! We were amazingly fortunate being completely separated to the outside world, and allowed freedoms that few in the world still got to enjoy. We could roam the marina, dinner and drinks with other friends and families, explore the National Park that surrounded us, climb the multitude of old ruins scattered throughout the jungle, go to the beach and swim, and most importantly for Izzie, roam far and wide with her new found besties, Luna, Bella, Zoe, Boe, Kai, M.J., Anika, Jonathon, Kai(#2), Olivia, Kiai, Theodore, Evie, Matai and Matilda. Sooooo much fun was had, and mum and dad were stoked too as the kids would disappear for hours on end, leaving parents to focus on boat chores, applying for work, and all that other stuff that parents never seem to get to do normally!
We all made lots of new friends, shared many good times, and some hardships (prohibition was brought in early on, and many of us depleted our Pacific booze stocks and some even ran out – it was quite the crisis!). But with the canal opening to small craft again, we had to say goodbye, for the moment, and on a sad Friday afternoon, we hugged all our new friends, dropped our lines, and said goodbye to the marina and its wonderful people, a place that had been so much more than just a marina for 10 weeks. There was tears (from all of us!), and poor Izzie was beside herself, as her friends chased us down the marina fingers, calling out and waving good bye as we exited the marina. a few minutes later and we put an anchor down outside, in preparation for a 430am departure the next day. Through the Panama Canal, and into the Pacific... finally!!!!!
Hello Panama! Feels like quite the milestone to get here, we are now very very close to the Pacific :) Patea is getting a birthday and there are lots of kids here so the next two weeks will be busy, hard work but should be fun at the same time. We have a great posse for the boat to be out of the water - 30m from a pool, restaurant and bar and Izzies own private soccer/picnic area right beside the boat - we'll manage!
After a very brief 2 night stop in Curacao we are off again, Panama bound! Will let you know when we arrive in 5-6 days xx
We stuck around Los Roques, Venezuela, little longer than planned, a bit of boat fixing, a bit more sightseeing and ticked off the long awaited Frozen II movie! We are now on the road westward, and after a super calm and glorious passage from Grenada, with a couple of extra weeks in Los Roques, just the 3 of us, we are currently in Kralendijk, Bonaire. This small island is a crazy blend of Caribbean and Dutch, it's a marine park so more great snorkelling, and a great place to experience our first Carnival events :)
A day hop across to Aves de Sotovento to make our jump to Bonaire tomorrow a little shorter. Mainly a stop for a sleep only but the local coastguard and other officials still wanted to see us. After an hour 'chatting' and providing the chief a litre of olive oil (??!) and a bottle of coke they were happy enough and let us to our evening. Thanks offshore Venezuelan islands, you were certainly worth it and are near the top (if not at the top) of our list of favourite spots so far on this trip :)
After a fun morning exploring the mangroves by dinghy and spotting hundreds of booby chicks hanging out peacefully in the trees, we up anchored and tucked in between two small reef islands for a spectacular snorkel, then off to meet friends on Calicoba for a catchup over dinner.
Fun day fishing whilst transiting between Cayo de Aqua and Aves de Barlovento today – a billfish came and smashed one of the closer lures and immediately spat the lure, then spent the next 5 minutes chasing all the individual lures as we frantically tried to pull the lures in before he hit one again! Very cool to see the 5-6’ fish tear around at the surface with an iridescent blue/green dorsal fin, bent on nailing the lures! Fortuitously the three of us managed to retrieve all the lines continually snatching them out of his reach before he hooked up again! And then, after we were sure he’d left us, 2 hours later after re-deploying the lures we hooked up again – this time a 5’ sailfish which after stopping the boat and 15 minutes of forearm breaking effort, we managed to get it to the boat to release it – again, waaaaay too big for us! We’d be happy with a 7 or 8 kilo mahi mahi?!?! Please?!
Gannet breeding colonies galore at Elbert Key!! Izzie was mesmerised by the various stages of white fluffy cute birds, from newly hatched to fledging, and all were chill enough to allow us to carefully move amongst them – very cool!
A quick stop in Dos Mosquises for a quick visit to a turtle rescue and ongrowing facility – particuarly for Izzie who got to hold a baby turtle – the smile was enormous!! As those of you who have joined us know, we try to clean up the underwater environment as best we can in each anchorage as best we can, and here was no exception. In the shallows we found a large plastic reticulation pipe that was clearly from the turtle facility, and given we couldn’t take it away (it was about 5m long) we left it on the beach in from t of the facility. The next morning we saw one of the workers spy the pipe, and promptly throw it back into the sea. It was most disheatening – gutting to see the lack of regard to the marine environment, especially given the nature of the facility. Venezuela obviously has its issues at the moment, but in a place reliant on tourism and the marine environment you’d expect better, eh!
A lazy day (for Kath, at least!) celebrating her birthday – scrambled fresh Gran Roque eggs with a dash of cheese, on lightly toasted slices of fresh-baked bread, followed by coffee and a snorkel :) Open sandwhich for lunch followed by a fresh baked carrot cake with cream cheese icing, closely followed by a second snorkel, cold beers, and baked fresh snapper and roast veg with a rice, carrot and raisin salad, washed down with a bottle of french bubbly – happy birthday my beautiful 40 year old wife-to-be!!!
With the weather (temporarily) abated, we headed west again, to the island of Noronqui, in the northern part of the Los Roques archipelago. We enjoyed some lovely snorkelling, and for the first time in the Carribean we were allowed to use the spear gun to facilitate dinner – beginning a successful week of not having to procure protein from elsewhere! Fresh baked fish, alongside fresh baked bread has become our staple again – yum! And fortuitous too, as its Kaths 40th in 2 days and we need to secure some quality food for the occasion!! We also have strong wind forecast, so will go hide in a bomb-proof little anchorage in the eastern end of the Island of Carenero, before continuing our journey West.
A beautiful anchorage surrounded by golden sand beaches and lovely coral pools with plenty of fish. We stayed here for a couple of days while some strong wind passed through, snorkelling, swimming and relaxing, when not fixing our broken outhaul
Our last stop in Grenada, and sadly saying goodbye to Nanny Pam and Karen, who have been awesome to have on the boat over the last month - lots of fun had, places visited, sailing done, diving enjoyed, and good times - especially for Iz who will miss nan heaps!! Come back soon!!
Molinere Point, and the underwater sculpture park - pretty cool concept, but a little eerie with the cloudy water from the swell, and the recent storm damage which meant life-sized human beings were strewn all over the sea floor! Made for some interesting diving and creepy photo ops tho!
Chatham Bay on Union Island, and a few fun days hanging out with our boat buddies on SV Danu - Izzie especially has loved hanging out with Ruairi and Lillian, with lots of beach time and beers n bbqs (actually, that was mainly the adults!). Izzie has since started asking us about when you are allowed to get married. I said that mum and I are probably not the best examples in that regard! (I also had an urge to unholster my shotgun - Sorry Ruairi, I know you mean no harm!)
Baradal, Tobago Cays - and its raining turtles! You cant get in the water without seeing at least one, and sometime 3 or 4, chowing down in the marine reserve on the (not actually that) abundant seagrass - Izzie was stoked, as was Nannp Pam and Karen! A couple of days spent here swimming and relaxing.
A quick trip down to Tobago Cays, and a bit of a rolly night in Worlds End Reef - a stunning offshore reef surrounded by ocean. Some beautiful snorkelling was had, lots of rays and skates (spotted our first spotted eagle ray for the trip!), and some lovely clear water, golden sand and iridescent blue waters = happy skipper!
A glorious little anchorage in the northern tip of Charlestown Bay on the Island of Canouan, where we spent the night in blissful silence with only a couple of boats around us. The next day we explored the reefs by snorkel, which proved to be mums fave spot of the trip, and we were fortunate enough to snorkel with a juvenile sunfish (almost a metre long/wide/tall!), and lots of good sized fish:)
After a lovely couple of days exploring Bequia's forests, turtle-infested beaches and hatcheries, we headed south for a night at Petit Nevis - an uninhabited island with some WW2(?) relics of civilisation, and some lovely snorkelling. The seagrass that surrounded the reef was littered with Queen Conch, and the white beach on closer inspection was made entirely of the sun-bleached shells of tens of thousands of these threatened species - cast up in a near vertical wall created by the forces of wind, waves, and man. Although it looks like the result of the impacts of a powerful storm surge, the small holes drilled through the same place on each shell disclosed the real cause of the piles - middens from fishing. It was a site to see, and Iz was as fascinated as the rest of us!
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