Thu Apr 5 5:16 2018 NZST
Speed: 3.7knts
Run: 1510.2nm (2733.5km)
Weather: SE 7kts, scattered tropical showers mostly at night,

There's much to report today, not the least of which is that Mersoleil is on passage and has been for nearly two weeks. The most unusual passage we've ever experienced, this one, with virtually no wind for days on end.

We're sailing from India, having reluctantly departed when our visas expired at midnight on 24 March, to the Seychelles, a distance we would normally cover in ten easy days. This season, characterized, Bruce Buckley tells us, by worldwide weather anomalies that have left the central Indian Ocean bereft of breezes, making the run from Kochi to Victoria is going to take about twice as long! Early on we resorted to running the engine when winds dipped below 7-8kts, our usual procedure. But realizing we'd covered a mere third of the distance and expended more than half our fuel, a come-to-Jesus meeting held in the cockpit resulted in the determination that rigorous fuel conservation tactics were required to avoid the two most dreaded outcomes of running out of fuel on this particular passage in low winds: drifting helplessly ashore in Somalia, volunteer participants in the local sailor for ransom program; and running aground on the reefy outer banks of the Seychelles.

It's been an incredible experience to learn what Mersoleil can do with 2-4 measely knots of wind and we've had ample opportunity to test the spinnaker and all combinations of main, genoa and whisker pole. Amazingly enough, this wonderful yacht rewards us with 4kts over the ground in only 5 of breeze when given a chance! Since the winds haven't often given us even 4kts to work with, our progress is slow, but leisurely and comfortable. We haven't even closed the windows yet!

India is now in the rearview mirror with its astounding palaces, temples and havelis, delicious cuisines, bustling bazaars, beautiful ladies in colorful sarees, and its warm, kind, charming people. Alas. When I wrote recently that my favourite country is the next one I intend to visit, I had not yet been to India. I promise to back date and post a smattering of photos and descriptions from our three week tour of Rajasthan, but both Robbie and I have come away totally gob-smacked in his words. Countless times I heard uttered from my own lips, "I have never seen ANYthing like this before," "I am aMAZed!" and the overused all-purpose, "Wow." I've always thought Europe held the architectural gems of the world, save for the pyramids and the Taj Mahal, but I was completely mistaken. India has artistic, architectural and sculptural masterpieces at every turn and each time I thought, 'another fort, gee, maybe I'll skip this one,' then climbed out of the car to tour it anyway, I was humbled again for my condescension and thrilled to yet another magical display of artstry and craftsmanship unlike anything else in the world. Visiting India was the most brilliant travel decision we have ever made. (I understand people take decisions these days. Being an old-fashioned grammarian, I still make them.) I will tell you more about India in future postings, after we reach the Seychelles, assuming we do, when I can post images for you.

Onward to the Seychelles, gently, slowly. Send beer and soft drinks. It's very hot and we're a little bit weary of water. Is it true they're decided to rename the Indian Ocean Lake Placid?

Glad to read up on you guys and your continuing voyage... India sounds great! After spending last season back in Tonga, spending this season based between California and Budapest. Heading back to NZ at the end of the year for more South Pacific sailing. Good luck out there and I hope you don't run out of your favorite things! Dean
Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
Run: 1.3nm (2.4km)

Kochi International Marina, Bolgatty Island, Kerala, India

Our charming and competent driver, Jeni, is now a treasured friend. He dropped us back at Kochi Marina at four this afternoon after a delightful week of fun, exploration and laughter. Thank you, Jeni. And thank you to Mr. Bhagwan Das Soni of India World Wide Travel who conceived and organized our wonderful week in Kerala.

Ah, just remembered that you are on yit. Loved reading your comments and pictures!
Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
Run: 36.6nm (66.2km)

Lakes and Lagoons, Allepey, Keral, India

See all those long rectangular shapes stacked along the edge of the canals? Each one is a traditional Kerala houseboat converted for use as a luxury touring boat with one or two or more bedrooms, and it plys the miles of Allepey backwaters at a leisurely pace while the lucky occupants sip tea and watch and listen to the village life of southern India, the slap slap slap of laundry on a stone, the laughter of kids on bicycles, the casual conversation of two fisherment on a long canoe or four guys standing on the bridge. We were ferried to our private one-bedroom houseboat at noon by water taxi, introduced to the crew of three: Arun, the helmsman; Sattish, the chef; and Manu, helper and asistant helmsman, then served a wonderful luncheon of local river fish, Kerala rice, curry, sambal and hot salty lime pickles. I ate with my right hand as I have done at each meal since we arrived in India. I'm getting pretty good at transporting food to my mouth without mishap. It takes practice, especially for a lefty like me.

Robbie spent the afternoon alternating between his current read, War and Peace, and exploring the passing world with his camera while I napped again in hopes of conquering a cold which has been plaguing me all week. When I appeared for a glass of wine before dinner he announced that this is definitely the life for him! Peaceful, leisurely to the point of decadence, and completely captivating. We never left the boat, stopping only to tie up for lunch and again at dusk for the night. Our houseboat was truly luxurious and we felt pampered and fortunate, watching the sunrise from bed as the world slipped slowly past our leaded glass windows.

Alas, this was only a one night tour. They seem to offer only half-day and full-day tours. We could have stayed a week! I think when it comes to relaxing we may have achieved a higher level of performance than most of the tourist population.

Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
Run: 3.2nm (5.8km)

Pamba Hertigae Villa, Nedumudy, Kerala, India

It was entirely my fault that we were four hours late for the home cooked lunch Rajeev Thomas' mother had lovingly prepared for us at Pamba Heritage Villa. After waiting for my 4 new cholis, we didn't even hit the road till lunchtime in Thekkady and it was a long, but scenic, drive back down to sea level. The Allepey area, south of Kochi, is the rice growing center of southern India and is riddled with backwaters, lakes and man-made canals as you can see on this GE image. We had only one night in Rajeev's gorgeous guest room with cozy balcony overlooking the canal, and we gazed eagerly from the balcony at each traditional houseboat passing by.

Tomorrow night we'll be on one of those! Rajeev conveyed our deepest apologies to his mom, he and Robbie solved all the political problems of the world while I took a nap, and we were sorry to depart after such a short stay. I'm just not one of those "if-it's-Tuesday-this-must-be-Belgium" travelers. Give me several nights in a row at my lodgings, please.

Wow guys you’re really getting about! Great pieces Bev, we’re loving them. Enjoy. Love Peter & Helen
Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
Run: 52.9nm (95.7km)

Kumily, Thekkady, Keraly, India

Three days seemed too short for our visit to Ferndale Home Stay where hostess, Debby Fernandez, introduced us to the all conveniences of local life. Finally, my questions were answered about the proper use of all the faucets and the ubiquitous plastic bucket and pitcher in the typical India bathroom! The showerheads installed on the walls in tourist accommodations do not exist in a real Indian bathroom. There's just a tub spout a few feet above the floor - not associated with any bathtub - a drain in the corner and the plastic bucket/pitcher combination. One mixes hot and cold water in the large bucket, scoops it up in the plastic pitcher and pours it over the soapy parts to wet the skin or get a good rinse. Perfectly effective, conserves water, why doesn't everyone do it this way? There's also the hand shower near the toilet, a fixture to which we neither of us has warmed, that everyone seems to use to drench the entire room, but most especially the toilet seat, before leaving.

I've written about toilet tissue before. In India, if you're partial to the use of TP, bring your own.

One night while in Thekkady we attended a double-feature cultural show, first an hour of martial arts demonstrations, then an hour of ancient Kerala Kathakali Traditional Dance. And followed it with another delicious dinner at a local hotel where we continued to plead for "spicy spicy spicy, INdian spicy" curries and were served moderately spicy, but wonderful food. They simply can't believe that we know what we're talking about.

I've heard that the cuisine of Kerala is perhaps not as highly spiced as that up in Rajasthan. We shall see.

Debby and her sister, Cheryl, were so complimentary of my Indian clothes, that I asked them to take me shopping for sarees. We three girls piled into Jeni's car and instructed him to deposit us at Debby's favourite saree shop, Mickey, as in the mouse, Tex. Shopping for sarees is not like buying a dress in size 10. One simply eyes a bolt of fabric on the shelves piled high with bright colors, the shop keeper pulls out the one he thinks you're pointing at from six feet away in front of the counter - or the one he wants you to buy - and it is unfurled luxuriously on the counter for inspection. Each saree is several meters long with the last meter or so being the portion intended to be cut off and sewn into a choli, the short sleeved short waisted blouse always worn with a saree. There is no fitting room required. You either like the fabric, the pattern, the price, or you don't. I selected four sarees and we rushed off to Debby and Cheryl's tailor to beg for overnight service.
I love my sarees, indeed all my Indian clothing, but it's going to take some doing to make me comfortable hanging my flabby white midriff out there for the world to appreciate. Nonethesless, when in Rome... so here are some pictures. My sarees are totally authentic, the real deal, donned in the traditional way with an underskirt and, thank God, two safety pins for security. Any time you see a woman wearing a saree who is NOT constantly fiddling with the pallu to keep it up on her shoulder, she is grateful for her safety pin. Those who fiddle are the rigid purists. Maybe I'll get there someday but not yet.

Typical India Bathroom... Finally My Questions Are Answered
It's Simple and It Makes Sense
Brownie, One of Cheryl's Nubian Goats
Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
No position sent.

Munnar, Kerala, India

Tata Beverage Corporation operates tea plantations in India in addition to its other business enterprises around the world. They make a dandy tuk tuk, too, and I might like riding in a tuk tuk better if I could ever get a lift in a Tata vehicle! The company provides a complete village to accommodate the tea workers and subsudizes rents, provisions, education and other necessities. In addition, Tata has implemented programs to educate and rehabilitate the differently-abled resident of the village, those whose bodies and minds reflect the results of a narrowly restricted gene pool.
Robbie and I toured the factory where they produce stunning handmade paper products (no trees sacrificed, all from recycled materials), vibrant natural dyes and sumptuous fabrics and garments. We bought a few items in the shop to support the efforts of the good people who labour there. No photos are permitted inside the factory, out of respect for the workers, but their website and these pictures tell the wonderful story.

The Tea Mfg Process Explained
Tea Seeds and Flowers
Plant it Just Like This
Starbucks Supports Athulya. Good for Starbucks!
Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
Run: 33.6nm (60.8km)

Tea Plantations, Munnar, Kerala, India

It takes an entire day to enjoy the tea plantations perched along the slopes of the Munnar Mountains and visit the Kanan Devan Hills Tea Museum.

Tea grows best on steep slopes of 35 to 70 degrees, allowing winter's occasional frosty air to move along down into the valleys at a good pace in early morning, sparing the tender plants damage that might result from a freeze. Of course, those slopes make hand picking a challenge for the ladies from the tea plantation village who walk amoung the bushes every ten days pinching or shearing off the top two leaf sets. Actually, the tea pickers walk amoung the bushes every day, returning to pick again when the new growth is ten days old. After visitng a tea factory and learning the entire arduous and heretofore unknown tea making process, Jeni drove us for hours through the beautiful hillside where we demanded photo stops by the dozen. Watching people picking tea is as addictive as watching Cleveland Demolition tear down a fifteen storey building. You just stand and stare, listening to the hypnotic music of the shears as they clip clip clip clip clip the young stems. Now I see why all those gaps exist amoung the bushes wherever tea is grown. They are pathways for tea workers, and for the odd passing elephant.

Young Lovers
Cutting Tea
Sun Feb 18 23:03 2018 NZDT
Run: 6.9nm (12.5km)
Weather: cooler at 980m above sea level, sunny days, a shower at night

Munnar, Kerala, India

Mersoleil securely tied to a dock in Kochi, we've decided to tour Kerala State for a few days. First stop, a three-day visit to Munnar, 125km from Kochi, with its mountainous tea plantations, lush forest and cooler temperatures. Warm and gracious hosts of Flower Valley Home Stay, Ancy and Joy, made us feel like long lost family amid their peaceful countryside gardens, bird song and home-cooked meals. Stunning scenery, a luxurious room with our own private veranda, flowers, birds, morning mists and Ancy's home cooking. Can it possibly get any better than this?

R n B Ready to Head Off for Kerala Adventure
Ancy and Bev
Ancy and Joy
Flower Valley Home Stay - Paradise
Flower Valley Home Stay
Mon Jan 29 22:40 2018 NZDT
No position sent.

Julian has just asked an excellent question.

Boat stamp, what is a boat stamp?

We found it hard to believe such a silly thing could be useful, but long before we left America I worked up this rubber stamp with a local stationer. Being able to smack a faint impression of this thing on clearance documents has established our incontrovertible legitimacy with the officials of many countries. They love rubber stamps, carbon paper and duplicates duplicates duplicates. If your ink pad is drying up, like ours is, and the impressions created by the stamp are very faint, so much the better! No one ever reads them anyway.

Ahhhh, bureaucracy.

Gotta have an official stamp, else the officials ... won't believe you have a boat.

Well we had a boat stamp for our first boat Runaway but no one seemed to want it and so we did not bother with Chameleon! Still got the pad though and it has been useful for other things! Good to read your reports. We are having a wonderful summer at long last but due to various health problems (David) our poor Chameleon is still at the dock. Have fun for us. Patricia

Ben and Robbie, Great to hear of your travels, you two are a beacon of civility in the untamed world! Love the stamp idea, plan to get one on my next trip home. Just finished my International Thespian debut in the annual "Hell hole of the Pacific!" I played the Constable, and made seveveral arrests for debauchery, Oh the sweet irony! Love, Michael
Mon Jan 29 20:46 2018 NZDT
Run: 1220.7nm (2209.5km)
Avg: 3.7knts
24hr: 88.1nm
Weather: hot with tropical haze every day

Mersoleil has arrived at Cochin, India
Spirit of Africa arriving in Cochin about ten days ahead of us, Miki Stanton had thoughtfully emailed general info on checking in to India, including ?call Port Authority on VHF when approaching the channel.? While Mersoleil was still 10nm away Port Authority called us, offered permission to anchor at Malabar Hotel and said they would send someone to us for temporary clearance. Should we call them upon arrival, I asked. Oh, no, we?ll be watching you. They will come. And indeed, five or six guys on a little flat boat that looked like a floating refrigerator with a big black fender (see photo) pulled up before we had even finished anchoring. Two of the men stepped aboard. After brief, pleasant formalities, they invited us to come to their offices by dinghy, tie up at their jetty ?around the corner,? which proved nearly impossible to find, and go to Immigration then Customs, all easy to find, big signs, to complete the clearance procedures.

Not easy to find at all, but everyone was kind and helpful, offering loads of erroneous information as we wandered about. Finally we found Immigration, completed our business with them including the aborted use of yet another new clever computer system that would not work (this one for taking biometrics), ?all it does is take much more time,? they said. It took an hour to locate the correct Customs office among the many choices in a single building, nobody knew where we were to go, someone finally walked us through a long rabbit warren of hallways, courtyards, even through a construction site, to the department of Import and Bond.

Import and Bond sent us back out to Mersoleil with tall skinny uniformed Mr. Kumar where he had Robbie complete many pages of forms with carbon papers, stamp all over them with the boat stamp, stuck the Iridium Go! in the liquor cabinet then sealed it shut with a signed and rubber stamped paper to be removed when we exit the country. He accompanied us back to the Import and Bond Dept. (I left crumbs this time so we could find it again) and defended us against three men on the street who disapproved of our parking Doggie1 at their jetty, ?where is your permission.? They were from the Marine Department (Port Authority) and delayed us another half hour while they made many phone calls and insisted that we had to put Doggie somewhere else. Where??? Do you have a registration for this speedboat? That generated a burst of indignation from me and I informed them this was NOT a SPEEDboat, it was a BABYboat! Finally, we wandered away and they found something else to do. Back at Import and Bond, the manager was not satisfied with the way Robbie had completed the forms and he made him sign a new set all over again. Where is your stamp? I didn?t bring it. It?s on the boat. We can?t finish this. Bring it tomorrow.

The next morning we departed Mersoleil in time for RC to present himself at the Marine Department at 10AM. I dropped him off at the prohibited jetty and returned to Mersoleil and busied myself until time to go pick him up at 12:30 as agreed (for the lunch we missed yesterday). I left Doggie at the hotel in an effort to avoid another confrontation with the port police, walked at 12:15 to the prohibited pilot boat jetty and waited there until well past 4:00. No Robbie.

The curious details of this day would fill a small book. Suffice it to say that I think we are now officially admitted to India, we?ll plan plenty of time for the checking out procedure, Robbie will probably never go anywhere again without the boat stamp, and I received a gift from one of the Mooring Crew guys, a monkeys fist used on his heaving line. I?d explained to Francis that I used an American baseball to weight my heaving line, upon which disclosure he jabbed me with an elbow and told me, ?I make mine with a cricket ball.? (see photos)

I started writing this with the intent to record my first impressions of India. They are these?.

Ferries run all directions in the harbor, old long flat, slightly decrepit boats that look exactly like the ones in movies about India?.
No one hurries, it?s hot here, taking things easy is the norm. Not to imply that people are lazy, they just move at a languid pace out of practical necessity?.
Offices in the old public buildings have high ceilings furnished abundantly with long-bladed ceiling fans. Every so often a paper is lifted from some surface, wafts gently through the air and settles at some other location, transferred there by the whim of the fan and there it remains.
The filing system in one department where we spent quite a long while was a classic example of colonial bureaucracy. They don?t use letter size paper here, nor A4, but something I?ve never seen before and it must measure something more like 10? x 18?. Piles of these large sheets are tucked into loose folios and stacked in lopsided heaps all about the room, some three or four feet high, on chairs, tables, desk and the floor, one side higher than the other and looking as if they could slide down at any moment like a deck of fanned playing cards on the casino table?.
Everywhere are the marks of British imperialism. Gracious colonial architecture is prominent in all directions. High tea is served at the hotel every afternoon. Elderly couples who have never missed a meal in their lives stroll into the lobby bar, select their favoured nest from the many cozy seating arrangements for two or four or six placed about the space, then the matrons order gin and tonics and the men beers. The interiors of the hotel are clubby and elegant, very British, with warm deep wood finishes, pillows on every chair and sofa, arrangements of fresh flowers on all the tables?. (photos)
Government officials delight in completing their tasks as slowly as humanly possible while making the work appear arduous and far more important that it could possibly be. They actually discussed Robbie?s carbon papered documents for fifteen minutes, three Customs officials in a huddle speaking their local tongue, before asking him to complete a new set and then took additional time concluding that they?d better give him pages without carbon paper and make three copies of the finished documents with a copying machine presumably located somewhere in the building?.
Things move slowly here, decidedly so, and one cannot but enjoy the contrast between the life we came from and what we observed yesterday and today. The difference is so outrageously dramatic it?s quaint, charming, amusing. Woeful disappointment is bound to accrue to the northern European or the American who expects or demands the bustling efficiency he remembers from home?.
Charter tour boats and ferries ply the habour area all day long, many of them filled with exuberant young people shouting, squealing, cheering together in some unknown-to-us group activity and singing along to the same kind of music one hears from the boom boxes on sidewalks outside the shops of Little India. But, I remembered with delight, this is not Little India. This is BIG India!

Luxury at the Bar, Malabar Hotel
Ferries Busy Busy Busy in Cochin Hbr
Blaring Music, Exuberant Kids
Malabar Hotel Lobby Bar
Francis' Mooring Crew Delivers My Monkeys Fist!
No tethers, no PFDs... hard to believe they go out to open sea like this.
Note to self... try this
Francis' Heaving Line, the Real Thing
My monkeys fist... looks like it was made by a girl.

Another successful crossing. Bravo! Your arrival in India reminds me of my experiences of being there off a plane as a backpack traveler! It is a fascinating place, if as you said, you can suspend judgement about how things work. But, of course, that is true about all of one's world travels! As usual your observations are keen and delightfully reported. I have forwarded your update to friends who did a short Pacific sailboat cruise a few years ago and who happen to be in India for their first time--at this moment. I knew they would much enjoy what you have shared. They also went up to Buhtan and found it fascinating. And shared it also with a friend currently visiting us who cruised 3 years in the S Pacific, has been to India in earlier years still, and lived at Shilshole for several years on L dock.

So delighted to know you've arrived safely. Your blogs are always so entertaining. Got the all clear on The Captain's scans. South Africa here we come ⛵️
Tue Jan 16 0:12 2018 NZDT
Speed: 4.2knts
Run: 296.8nm (537.2km)
Weather: 7kts N, seas less than a meter, tropical haze

Mersoleil is leaving Southeast Asia behind and is headed for India! On passages I have time to think, too much time to think, perhaps, and I've been thinking about all the remarkable places Robbie and I have been. What is the most wonderful place in the world, I asked myself, and I was surprised by the answer. The most wonderful place is the place we are about to visit!!! A place we haven't been to yet. Not everyone will agree, I suppose. But for me, the unknown is so full of possibilities, so very exciting, that nothing I've ever seen or done before can quite compare to an opportunity that is still completely hidden from me. Today, in my book, India is the most wonderful place in the world. The possibilities are endless. And I simply cannot wait to discover what is real, so I can add India to my colorful mental collection of experiences that I know, and remember, and love. Robbie and I were talking recently about what an amazing life we have. This experience of living in one unfamiliar culture after another for years on end never ceases to amaze and humble us. We cannot imagine living in any other way and, if our dotage were not catching up with us, we'd continue this vagabond life indefinitely as indeed some people have. We are truly having the time of our lives and are continuously amazed at how fortunate we are. Now, I must take a moment to boast about my brilliant husband, another subject to which I have recently given thorough consideration.
You know, Robbie and I have very different personalities. We probably see one another more objectivbely than either of us is able to see ourselves and, spending all day together every day, we have ample opportunity to observe the other's personality. Among his many admirable qualities, I marvel at Robbie's tenacity. His ability to stick to a task until he conquers it, or understands it, or repairs it, or completes it, far exceeds mine. Thank heaven somebody on this boat doesn't give up on frustrating puzzles! Here's an example.
Last month we replaced Mersoleil's battery banks with lithium batteries. Most sailors are reluctant to substitute their lead acid or absorbed gel mat batteries with lithium, still of the opinion that it's bleeding edge technology or simply too expensive. Lithium batteries are more expensive than AGMs, but the price is coming down and it seemed like the right choice for us when our eleven month old AGMs died in November (so carefully installed by Robbie, Kevin Butcher and Brian Butcher on Christmas Eve 2016), we decided it was time to switch. Lithium batteries are supposed to have a long life span and are quite happy to be deeply cycled hundreds of times (listen to me!), so in the long run their slightly higher cost generates substantial savings. They weigh a great deal less than conventional batteries. They offer more useable amps per cell than conventional batteries, they occupy much less space than a comparable set of conventional batteries. They are much less inclined to start fires than they were a few years ago. The day of the lithium battery has probably arrived. Well, it has on sailing yacht Mersoleil, anyway.
Alas, there are so many ways in which a new lithium battery installation can go south that it's frightening to ponder! This, I think, is probably the reason so many of our cruising colleagues continue to resist them. The charging regimen is completely different for lithium batteries than for the older types, and the shunts and monitors that are needed to gauge and report their performance, their condition, their state of charge are generally different from anything already familiar. Making the leap to lithium is a daunting prospect. But not for His Robbiness.
He must have developed his excellent research practices in his legal career. Robbie doesn't read the'junk' on new techology, the forum article, for instance, in which one guy asks, "I just bought a new 4JH4TE and its doohicky leaks. Does anybody have experience with leaking doohickies?" And three or four other guys respond, "I don't have a 4JH4TE. I have a 772MRRP. And mine doesn't have any dookickies, but here's what I would do...." Nope. Robbie doesn't read those articles.
He finds the most authoritative technical research on the subject and reads it over and over and over. Eventually what was gibberish on readings one thruogh five begins to make sense to him and eventually he actually understands it. I know this because he uses me as his straight man. He explains it to me until we both understand. (If you really want to learn something, teach it.) Then he finally runs across an expert he knows of and respects, Stan Honey, for example, and he reads everything Stan Hoeny has written about lithium battery systems. "You know," he said to me last week, "Stan Honey refers constantly to two other resources, a guy named Rod Collins and a company called Nordkyne Design, (Go to Sea, Stay at Sea, Live at Sea.) I've already read both of those sources and I thought they were really good. It's reassuring that Stan Honey (who invented the on-field video graphics we see on televised football games, the video lay lines on America's Cup Races and other sporting events) uses them as his gurus." Robbie reads and he studies, I hesitate to use the word obsessively, but... well, enough to eventually gather a glimmering comprehension of yet another thing they did not teach him in law school. By the time he's managed to teach a rudimentary version of this to me, he's really got it mastered.
For three weeksd after our new batteries were installed, he obsessed. He read constantly. He asked me to consider impossible questions to which I said, "Let's call the installer" and to which he replied in the resounding negative. No! He has to figure all this out for himself! (I, on the other hand, think that's what experts are FOR, and I am happy to call for consultation at the drop of a hat.) Robbie must have memorized the entire Balmar 614 auxiliary alternator manual by now. I've seen it next to his coffee cup in the morning, at his desk when he's sitting there, next to his pillow at night, even in the smallest room on the boat! Know what? He's actually got it now! He feels confident that he understands our complicated expensive new battery system, and he has drawn a schematic of a number of small changes he wants to make so the State of Charge will read the same on all three monitors and the amps consumerd since last full charge will all jive, and so a number of other picayune details will meet with his rigorous standards. And it's not just a superficial understanding. I can tell the difference. Robbie really understands this amazing new technology, can tell from a moment's conversation with another litium owner whether the other person uderstand his system or just owns one, and has begun again to sleep soundly at night. Even I, having been only the sounding board, have a fairly comprehensive understanding of our lithum batteries, how they're connected, and their basic care and feeding. And I sleep better, too, knowing that we're not in jeopardy of killing the whole costly system with a single ignorant mistake.
Robbie's tanacity is absolutely amazing to me. It's a quality I completely lack, I can barely fathom it, and I don't even aspire to develop it in myself. But it's indispensible on this boat. And here's another reason I think he's brilliant. He fixed the depth sounder last week after three days of anchoring in waters of unknown depth, a very unnerving experience. We have a tendancy to name things that we consider irreplaceable, things for which we are so deeply appreciative that they're like members of the family. We had never named our depth sounder, though, and after approaching land a few times without one, we understood that not to have named the depth sounder was a matter of grevous oversight. He needed a month or more to master litium battery technology, but Robbie solved this one in a matter of seconds. Meet Johnny Deppth.
We're only 2 days out of Phuket, Thailand, about to sail through the Nicobar Islands. The winds are light, we're not in a hurry, the batteries are happy and we're beside ourselves with excitement about going to India! Life is good.

Bev! Robbie! Steve here, ex S/V Desolina. So great to reconnect with your journey. On my computer desktop I have a wonderful photo of S/V Mersoliel, taken from the deck of S/V Desolina, at anchor at Kalefesia Tonga. One of the hi lights of my Pacific crossing. I fondly recall a dinner of Mahi-mahi and wild rice pilaf. Robbie - I cannot look at a bottle of Bombay Sapphire without thinking of the many, very happy hours aboard! I have subscribed here for updates of your trip! Bon Voyage! Go! Go! Go! Mersoliel!!

Love your posts! Pleased to hear you are both keeping on keeping on. India has always seemed a step to far for me. Just the thought of the shear weight of humanity I guess. Maybe when I am (a bit more) mature. FYI our lithiums are going still going strong after 7 years hard work. And we don't even have full discharge protection. Anyway enjoy the next part of the adventure. Bruce & Dinah, Margarita.

Oh my gosh...this last article made me LOL! Johnny Deppth; way too funny, so apropro! Kudos to Sir Robbie for his deligence and 'tenacity' for being a pioneer with the lithium batts; be sure to write a follow-up to the company about their wear (perhaps even get a promotion fee!). A genius vagabond and un mais elevado tecnico! India! Am with you virtually! Enjoy!

Sail on....sail on. What port are you sailing to?
Mon Jan 8 17:42 2018 NZDT
Run: 16.5nm (29.9km)
Weather: Hot and sunny

Where is Mersoleil?

We're in Thailand, about to depart for a ten-day passage to India. Very excited about India! And, yes, we'll tell you all about it here. (I've been on strike since June, when we were dumped off the ferry on the banks of the Mekong River, waiting to hear from you. Please write!)

2017 was a wonderful year for Robbie and me, and for Mersoleil, too! Highlights, large and small, include:
Picking fresh green peppercorns right off the vines in Cambodia
Spending time in beautiful Funchal with my sister, Gretchen, and her friend, Charley
Selecting gorgeous silk scarves in the shops of Hanoi
Robbies brilliant step-down transformer -- air conditioning on 230A shore power!...
Exploring Chiang Mai with our son, Chris Collins
Late night Farkle with Charley and rolling six sixes
Making water kefir and pampering my little colonies
Converting Mersoleil to lithium batteries
Living in bustling, colorful Penang for nearly a year and surviving the heat of SE Asia
Getting over the flu, two or three times apiece
Time with Jody Streepy, who came to Mersoleil from Japan while we were in Europe
Homemade garlic salt, the search is over forever
Finally learning to bloom our coffee... it's all about the bloom
Land travels with friends, Rowland and Miki
Angor Wat, wow

New Years Eve is a fantastic holiday everywhere we go. Last week we bobbed at anchor in Patong Bay with Kevin and Mimi, watching the fireworks on shore and the sky lanterns rising and drifting overhead carrying away everyone's troubles . Next New Years Eve? Cape Town.

And you? (Please excuse the funky punctuation. I don't have a text editor dumb enough to insert an apostrophe. Alas.)

Dear Bev and Rob Thank you for your email and the list of activities that you both were involved for the last several months after I received your email. It seems like you were not on the boat sailing the oceans! It feels like you are on the beautiful counties visiting all kinds of sights and sounds! What a "Wonderful Life"! Spending time with your son, sister and friends is awesome! Only a few people on this earth like you can live such an adventurous life! I guess it is your dream. When I went through your list of activities, I see you are having a ball, Bev? Am I right in saying it? I do not know. I guess you have your own challenges going through some dangerous areas of the world. This world is full of joys and full of challenges. I tell you that you are both are gifted in dealing with these challenges with courage and tenacity. I wish I were traveling with you to India! I can be your cook and a cleaning boy so you can take a rest that you desperately need. I will look forward to hearing from you when you reach India (Kerala). Fondly, Raj

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