Monday, July 15, 2019

Our last weeks

This years's adventure for the Bliss crew is reaching it's final stage. Thinking about the whole trip, we can divide it up in 4 parts: 2 months of prep for the ocean crossing in Mexico; almost one month underway to reach French Polynesia; 3 months of living, boat schooling and maintaining/fixing the boat in these amazing islands; and finally prepping the boat again for long term storage. Bliss will go out of the water in less than two weeks in Raiatea, and will be stored on land. After all these years, Tod has become an expert in putting Bliss to bed. The female crew will stay in a house close by until we all fly to Tahiti at the end of the month, and catch two flights back home the next day. Amazing to think that it will "only" take 18 hours of travel time to get back versus the 24 days it took us to get to the Marquesas!

No doubt Tod will be happy to end the "cruising is working on your boat in exotic locations" part of this adventure, and go back to the ease of land/home living. But I'm sure we will also miss the beauty of these islands, the friendly people, and the joy that jumping off our floating home brings to see amazing sea life. As I'm writing this, we are anchored all by ourselves in just a spat of shallow water in the midst of deeper water, with spectacular views of the volcano mountains of Raiatea on one side, and an enormous infiniti pool on the other side. We are in kayak distance of the largest marae, ancient Polynesian temples.

We got to this anchor spot by eyeball navigation, searching this part of the lagoon for patches of lighter blue, but not too light of a blue, indicating too shallow water. You need clear overhead sun to do that, and fortunately we had that today. We had been holed up for a week with a bad weather storm, the only bonus was that Tod discovered some sources of our leaks, and fixed them. With the winter in full swing here, we have noticed the cooler temperature at night, no more just a sheet for sleeping, and the water temp has dropped a few degrees from 85 to 81.

Most of the boats we have met this season are leaving French Polynesia now and heading west to sail another 4000 miles to spend cyclone season, starting in November, in New Zealand or Australia. It will be fun to follow along our cruising friends, and getting some ideas of what we plan to do during the summer months of 2020, when we plan to make more westing as well.
At 2019-July-15 06:40 UTC the position of Bliss was 16°38.27'S 151°25.78'W, on the east side of the island Tahaa, in the Society island group of French Polynesia

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Stingrays, Heiva and seeing red

Orange/ red is the color we are seeing on the weather charts for the next few days, meaning we can expect sustained winds of 30 knots, and waves of 5 meters (15 ft) in 9 seconds interval on the ocean. For sailors that means time to find a good anchorage, stay put and don't go out on the ocean if you don't have to! Winter started here on June 21st, and these are months for the Maraamu, strong local winds. We are happy to have our wind generator putting back a good amount of amps back in our battery bank, as our solar panels are less effective with the heavy clouds.

We arrived on the laid back island of Huahine a week ago, and are at an anchorage we like. It's of the town of Fare, and we can see the islands of Bora Bora and Raiatea 20 miles away. These islands are part of the Leeward islands of the Societies. All islands of the Societies have a big reef around their land mass, and you have to go through passes to enter the blue lagoons. Google earth has some amazing pictures of them from above to really get a feel for these surroundings. Once you are inside the reef, like here in Huahine, you see the crashing waves of the Pacific from your anchorage. We are anchored in 12 ft of water, on a sandy bottom, a first shallow anchorage for us, and quite unique in the Societies, as most anchorages are deep, 60 ft or more is not uncommon.

Tahiti was our first stop in the Societies on June 10th, and we stayed in a marina for the first time after months. Right in the midst of Papeete, its capital. Although it was quite nice to step off your boat and not have to jump in our dinghy to go to shore, we called it quits after 3 days. Papeete is busy, touristy, and feels a bit grim and even grimy. We indulged in ice creams, visited the food trucks one night, and loaded up on fresh groceries. We hadn't seen a big grocery store in a while, so we felt like kids in a candy store. It was only a 15 minutes walk to the store, and we came well prepared with our little foldable trolley. Of course we bought more than we planned, so I asked for a taxi. When they asked $90 for this very short drive back to the marina, we politely declined and slugged our stuff back.

The island of Moorea is just 7 miles off Tahiti, and feels a world apart. You can take a short ferry ride there, and it has become a destination for vacationers who want to experience a lagoon-like setting. We anchored close to a beach/park in Opunohu Bay, next to Cook's Bay. Both bays are jaw dropping beautiful, with high volcanic mountains. We liked the bay of Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas better, but only because it's smaller, and we had fewer boats there. In Opunohu Bay there were at least 30 boats anchored, a fair amount of French boats, and Tessa got to play "sign language style" with French boat kids on the beach.

One highlight in Moorea was swimming with sting rays and black tip reef sharks at the same time. There is an area called Sting Ray City, and tour operators go there with a bunch of boats. The operators feed fish to the sting rays, and the rays come up to you very close. Pictures and videos just have to wait with the almost non existent internet here, but it for sure was memorable. We saw several sting rays crawling up the back of the local tour operators, they just must recognize them. Another highlight was the hike up to Belvedere, where you have a beautiful view point of both bays. We partly hitch hiked to the top, then wandered for a couple of hours through dense rain forest back to the valley.

Orange/red, green and many other colors are the ones we saw during the start of Heiva yesterday. Heiva is a month-long, local, and non-commercial celebration of Polynesian culture, including dance, drumming, singing, and traditional sports (outrigger canoe races, coconut tree climbing among others). It was a joy to see the flower parade, with many different groups dancing and drumming. There is something on the calendar every day, so in between schooling, boat projects and rain showers, we jump in the dinghy to be part of this celebration.

At 2019-July-01 01:14 UTC the position of Bliss was 16°43.25'S 151°02.39'W, at the village Fare on the island Huahine, in the Society island group of French Polynesia

Saturday, June 1, 2019

loving the Tuamotus

Rain showers and wind, love them both at anchor! We are visiting our last atoll in the Tuamotus, Toau, and we have chosen the North part of the atoll, which has a fake pass, Anse Amyot. It's a slot in the reef what appears to be a reef, but it's really like a cul de sac blocked by coral. It's a small, lovely anchorage, and within less than a 0.5 mile you go from the 3000 ft depth of the Pacific to the mooring ball of 25 ft. It's also the place where we found the trimaran of a fellow cruiser family we met in Mexico in 2018. We don't know all the specific details, but last year they had to abandon ship when they hit coral heads in Fakarava, and the boat was no longer operable. It's sitting here,floating again on a buoy, apparently in exchange for the help they received from the locals.

Today both Tod and I had an amazing snorkeling experience. We each were surrounded by thousands of white 8 inch fish, huge schools. Which ever way you looked you were in the midst of it if you stayed still. Once you started to move, the cloud of fish would open up, separate, and you could swim through. Memorable, we try to do it again tomorrow and see if we can get it on camera. Beautiful colorful fish here too, live aquarium before your eyes. Just one hour later, Tessa and I had an unforgettable experience: petting a male frigid bird. We have seen these majestic birds with wing spans of 1.6 m on a remote island in Mexico, and did not expect to see one here. The couple Valentine and Gaston, who make this atoll their home, have been nurturing it from a young age. It's free to fly anywhere, but apparently it appears to prefer to stay close to their place, and will fly on Valentine's arm when she calls his name. It sings, and loves to be kissed and touched by Valentine. An interesting pet to have.

By the time we leave for Tahiti next week, we have spent almost a month in 3 of these low laying atolls. We spent most of our time in Fakarava, a world heritage site. It's been relaxing, swimming and snorkeling in azure blue lagoons surrounded by evergreens (!) and palm trees, taking beach walks, and meeting new cruiser families. It's been a joy to see Tessa so comfortable swimming and diving down in waters up to 60' deep, she is a natural. I see scuba diving with me in her future.

So far we have noticed how clean and quiet the Marquesas and the Tuamotus are, in comparison with the Pacific Mexico cruising grounds (the quiet Sea of Cortez in Mexico being a whole different, awesome world in itself). Not much grows in the unfertile, shallow, sandy soil of the Tuamotus, so people rely on the supply ships coming in weekly or biweekly, or even less frequent for the more remote islands of French Polynesia. It seems like the whole town comes out when the supply ships arrives. We cruisers know of it too, so it was a hoarding frenzy last Wednesday at the Magazine near the non working gas station. And mind you, nothing is cheap here. I was a bit late, and saw that many bell peppers were still there, well at $20/kilo even cruisers are holding back. Not me though, as we are really needed some fresh stuff. I paid $10 for a cabbage, Tod has been making great cole salads. I don't have to feel bad that we cruisers take all the fresh food away, as I noticed that several bags of fresh produce was not available for the cruisers,and I assume it's reserved for the local families.

In Rotoava, the main little town in Fakarava, locals are using beach bikes to ride the single paved road, no need for traffic lights here. There is a school as well, but like other places in FP, for higher grades kids would need to go to Tahiti to finish school. We didn't go to church, but on Sunday saw the local nicely dressed up for the service. Our French is not very good, so we do not get to interact as much as we would like, but a friendly ia orana is always appreciated. Most bigger atolls have tiny airports, and are not as remote as they used to be. A fellow cruiser bought several cases of wine in Tahiti when he arrived there by plane, then had the cases fly out to Fakarava for just an extra $1.50 per bottle. No need for us, we are still working on our bildge liquor supply from Mexico. Very small cruise ships visit larger atolls as well. They are welcomed ashore with music and locals offer their crafts and jewelry (pearls are big here), than leave a few hours later.

Finishing school soon for the day, then back to hopping in 85 degrees water. Someone has to do it! But believe us, paradise has it's limits and tropical island living isn't for everyone. We know we couldn't do it full time, and are looking forward to the change in weather and environment in a couple of months, and off course seeing our family and friends again!

At 2019-Jun-01 21:56 UTC the position of Bliss was 15°48.22'S 146°09.09'W, at Anse Amyot on the atoll of Toau, Tuamotus group of French Polynesia

Monday, May 20, 2019

I like my fish shy please

My heart beat is high up, I'm swimming for life, kicking with my fins like crazy. I'm calling for Tod, who's inside the boat to come out. He thinks I'm being attacked by a shark. So what's all the commotion about? A 6 inch remora, also known as pilot fish, or love bugs by other sailors here, has decided he/she likes me, and has almost attached herself to me, and I don't like it a bit. No matter how hard I swim, it seems stationary between my legs. I really like my fish companions to be shy, not like puppy dogs.

All three of us did this amazing snorkel drift dive on the South pass of Fakarava atoll. You bring the dinghy as close to the ocean entrance pass as possible, tie it to yourself, jump in, and you just slowly drift with incoming current past colorful schools of fish, large and small. Reef sharks are common there too, and they are really shy. At one point Tessa and I had about 10 of them swimming closeby, and it was really an amazing experience. The incoming current started to pick up, and then we all floated fast inside the lagoon, just like the lazy river experience at the pool in Shaker Heights. Great fun! We had such a great time, that we repeated the whole thing the next day. This time I jumped off in the deeper part of the entrance pass, about 60 ft, and saw a school of reef sharks below me, my guess between 40 and 50. A little much for my comfort level, even though they are shy, so I snorkeled quickly to shallow waters.

The next day our anchor decided to give us a hard time. It got stuck, wedged, near a rock, and didn't want to come up. This anchorage was 55 ft deep, too deep to do some free diving and get a good look. We were about to call our back up option, divers on a neighboring boat, but after 30 minutes of trying several ways to get it up, we were finally free. Glad it worked out, as we got to see our friends aboard Big Finn one more time, and the girls got to do their highly anticipated sleep over on their boat. Tod had a blast that day taking a kite surfing lesson, and will do another one this week.

So are all our days just like one big party? Oh no, the saying "cruising is fixing boats in exotic locations" is still true. Right now, Tod is doing a boat project, trying to see if he can fix our flaky radar connections. Tessa did school (it's sunday!), and then got picked up by her new 8 year old friend from Norway (he drives the dinghy himself), to go play in the water with our paddle board. We will go back to the South pass to do the snorkel drift again when the wind dies down mid week, after that it's time to find a store again to get some fresh stuff to eat. For that, we need to sail north for 5 hrs, and this is fun sailing inside the huge lagoon without any ocean chop!
At 2019-May-20 06:08 UTC the position of Bliss was 16°27.108'S 145°22.196'W, at the Harifa anchorage in southeast corner of Fakarava atoll.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

we are in the fun zone

As we hoped, we are now in the best part of this adventure. With almost all the passage making behind us for this season, we just get to enjoy all different shades of blue of the lagoons in the atolls of the Tuamotus. The pictures have to wait as we have no internet, but think about the screen saver you might have seen on your computer....that's it, azure blue, palm tress waving close by, and your happy boat in the midst of it. Even better, you now share an idyllic, calm anchorage with 3 kids boats that also made the passage from Mexico. It's school in the morning, than play time in the afternoon on the sandy coral beaches of the atoll. We have seen reef sharks black and white tip, swimming close by, and today Tod and I got to see the best colorful coral we have seen on our trip (sadly, coral is bleaching everywhere in the world, and even these remote atolls are affected). All our "water toys" are out: besides our hard bottom dinghy, we have our double kayak inflated, as as well as the stand up paddle board. The latter isn't quite easy to use here, as we are now near the south pass of Fakarava, and kite surfing is hot here which requires wind and consequently some waves. Tod is planning to give kite surfing a try.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we are getting up early to anchor 7 miles away, then take our dinghy to the atoll entrance and drift dive with the current along tons of sharks and fish. No worries, we have been told that the sharks are shy and don't pay attention. I'm excited to spend my birthday doing something I haven't done before. We plan to take tons of photo's with our underwater camera, and will upload them when we have internet again in June. Attached here are just two low-res photos that we can squeeze through our low bandwidth radio connection.

At 2019-May-16 06:46 UTC the position of Bliss was 16°27.033'S 145°22.083'W, with course of 000T (*T) and speed 0.0 knots. Wind speed 14.7 knots from 076T (*T)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Passage Notes

This is the first blog post by Tod since we left this year, I think. I have been holding back, since we sort of have a policy of "if you can't say something nice, better to say nothing at all". But I wanted to reflect on some of our feelings about our long passage from Mexico to Marquesas. One of my big motivations for writing this is for *us*, to help remember how we felt. I imagine that over time our memory of the feelings might fade, and we might even be tempted to do a passage like this again ... until we re-read this posting! Sorry for the length! I don't mind if you don't read it all ;-)

I should emphasize that my complaints here are just for me, although I think Jolanda feels pretty similarly. The one crew member who never complained about feeling miserable was Tessa! Several times during the passage she declared it to be "the best day ever!". She spent most of her days listening to audio books, watching DVD for a couple hours, and playing in her room. She really never complained about not feeling well, nor about being bored, and in fact hardly ever asked when we were going to be there. The closest thing we heard was during our recent 4-day passage between island groups: she told me that she wished we had stayed in the previous anchorage, the place we had been "before we started this dreadful journey"! (We think she is picking up some new expressions from her audio books!) I think she liked it better in the previous place just because we had been having ice cream almost every day!

Last year we were at an amusement park, and Tessa wanted to go on a spinny-round ride. Generally I avoid those kinds of rides, but she really wanted to go and I decided I could probably manage that one. Did you ever get on a ride thinking you would be OK with it, and then realize that it was *not* ok!? All you can really do is hold on, maybe shut your eyes, and try not to get sick while waiting for the ride to end. It might have been three minutes. Now, imagine that feeling, but the ride goes on for more than three weeks!

To be honest, we were not feeling nauseous for all 25 days of the passage. For the first few days, Jolanda and I both were taking a drug to combat motion sickness. And anyway, coming out of Puerto Vallarta the seas were pretty mild for the first couple days. And after the first few days, my feeling of nausea was limited to when I was below deck working for an extended period... for example, trying for 20 minutes to use the radio to send emails! Instead of nausea, the more common feeling is just a dull uneasiness in the head. We also both felt quite lethargic, and any little exertion seemed so big and demanded a recovery period afterwards!

In a previous blog post Jolanda wrote that sailing has extreme highs and lows. Well, regarding this passage, I would say the spectrum of feelings was a bit different. On the positive end, I would say there was one four-hour period which I would describe as "not unpleasant" -- this was when we were flying our spinnaker, zooming along on pretty calm seas with a nice breeze. But that was really an "outlier" data point... four hours out of 25 days! The rest of the spectrum would include words like: fatigue, exhaustion, hot, humid, wet, annoying, sadness, despair, misery, tortuous. At one point, I mused that they could sentence convicted criminals to a sea passage, but for sure it would be considered cruel and unusual punishment!

The rolling caused by the swells and waves can be really horrible. The worst rolling seemed to be in the beginning, about from day 3 to day 10, if I remember correctly. There were two swell directions, one from the north and one from the north-east, as we were traveling west. That might not sound like a big deal, but the result of this is that the boat would be rolled side-to-side by one wave, and then we would yaw (sort of rolling with a twist) by the other wave. The side-to-side rolling is tough, because the boat can rock like 60 degrees within a few seconds (leaning 30 degrees on one side to 30 degrees on the other side). It makes it incredibly difficult to even move around down below. And doing something like cooking becomes a serious endeavor, even becoming dangerous. Our stove is gimbaled, so it stays relatively level while the boat rolls -- it is really quite amazing. But even that mechanism has its limits: occasionally the boat would roll so hard that the stove would hit the limit of its travel, and then shit could really fly! Think about having a pot of boiling pasta when that happens... not good!

But the side-to-side rolling was not as bad as the other kind. When the swell direction is directly from the side, that is the simple rolling. But when the swell direction is from behind it is quite a bit more unpleasant. In general, we never went directly downwind, with a relative wind angle of 180 degrees -- that kind of dead-downwind sailing is difficult to do for multiple reasons that I don't need to explain now. Instead, on this passage, most of our sailing was with a wind angle of about 150 degrees -- so, from the back corner of the boat. The feeling of the rolling from this direction is worse: as the swell comes under the boat, it is lifting the back corner which causes the boat to turn significantly down into the valley of the swell; then it passes under the boat and turns it back in the other direction. So you end up with a twisting plus a rolling -- just like some of those horrible amusement parks rides that I hate!

It is hard to describe how the constant rolling of the boat affects on one's psyche and spirit and body. For example, even sleeping is so difficult. In general, it seems easier to sleep when your body is in line with the rolling -- so, with your body in line with the boat. Also, it is probably best closer to the middle of the boat. In our main saloon our settees are oriented in the correct direction and are long enough to lie on; and we have equipped these with lee cloths, which is a piece of fabric that we rig up with lines to prevent one from being rolled out of the bed! But even with this, there were many nights when we could barely get any sleep due to the extreme motion, along with the constant noise of sails flopping and blocks clicking and lines snapping and cabinetry creaking! About 7 or 10 days into our trip we were both exhausted from lack of sleep.

The rolling also makes it difficult to move, or even to stand. You almost always need to have one hand for the boat. Did you ever try putting on your pants with one hand?? It's not easy, so you end up trying to time the swells so you can pull up your pants without falling over.

I also came to have negative feelings about the different parts of the day! In the morning, seeing the dawn coming, I felt like "crap, the sun is coming up soon and I have barely slept." And when the sun was rising, I felt like "crap, it is gonna be getting hot soon", which happened by mid-morning -- hot and quite humid. Also, all morning the sun would be at an uncomfortable angle where it was difficult to find shade under the bimini. By mid-day I would be thinking "when will this day ever end?!". By late afternoon, the sun would again make it difficult to find a comfortable shaded place. Around sunset was often not unpleasant, while we were having dinner. But then I would already be dreading the coming of the night. On most nights, the wind would reliably increase, sometimes quite dramatically. (I have yet to read about why this happens... usually I am accustomed to wind dying down at night). In the beginning we were sometimes caught off guard when this happened -- we were maybe going comfortably along with 15 knots of wind before sunset, but then by 8pm the wind would rapidly pick up to 20-25 knots. That kind of increase can cause some problems when we have full sails up. Eventually we came to realize that we needed to shorten our sails before the evening, especially the main sail which is difficult to reduce after the wind starts howling. Also I didn't like nights because you can't see the waves .. you can just hear them, and sometimes they sound quite frightening! Occasionally I swear the waves would sound like a wild animal roaring!

[Speaking of sounds, both Jolanda and I noticed weird auditory hallucinations... well, maybe not exactly hallucinations, but just faint sense of someone talking, or singing. I guess it's the result of so many sounds from the wind and waves and whistling of the wind on the various boat parts, and maybe the lack of sleep, and hours of not talking to anyone. Sometimes I even enjoyed listening to the faint "singing" for quite a while -- one time it was like monks chanting, another time like some celtic music!]

The other bad part about the nights was the possibility of squalls. In the tropics, rain squalls can come at any time, and in the day they are already annoying. In a typical squall the wind will start to kick up, and soon after the rain starts -- sometimes light, sometimes a downpour. At the peak of the squall the wind might be 25 knots, occasionally gusting to 30 -- in the big picture of weather this is not too bad, and our boat can handle that without much problem (as long as we don't have too much sail up). But it can feel a little frightening for a while. The squall can pass in as little as 10 minutes, more typically a bit longer; for one day we had solid rain for hours, and on and off for the whole day. But at least during the day you can see the squall coming -- you can see the dark clouds and often even the rain falling; sometimes we were even able to change direction a bit to avoid the squall. However, at night this is all different -- you might see clouds, bur generally cannot see which clouds are going to produce a squall. And in the dark, the wind and rain seems a bit more intense and frightening. I must say we were fortunate to never have any significant lightening close to us during our trip (so far!).

During some heavy squalls early in the trip, we discovered a bunch of leaks that we never knew we had. One was around an overhead hatch that is just above our bed, and that leak saturated a cushion and got our mattress quite wet.

Well, it seems that I have complained about the passage making enough! So, let me complain about one more thing ;-). I am sick and tired of salt water!! When it gets on your clothes, they never really dry properly -- they are always a bit damp due to the humidity and the hydroscopic (i.e. attracting water) nature of the salt. After swimming we feel like we need a shower to get it off. But the worst is the feeling on all the surfaces of the boat after several days of salt spray -- everything is coated with a layer of moist salt. It has an almost oily quality. One nice thing about rain squalls is that it can make the boat feel clean again for a while.

To end on a positive note, we recently did our last substantial passage for this season: a 520-mile, four-day passage from Nuku Hiva (in the Marquesas island group) to Kauehi atoll (in the Tuamotu island group). For this season we have one more two-day passage to look forward to (to get over to Tahiti), and then mostly just short hops. That passage started with a surprise: the wind compresses around the big mountain of Nuku Hiva, such that just outside the headland of the bay the seas were quite large, and Bliss got rolled more than I have ever felt in 10 years, probably about 50 degrees I am guessing. It was no problem for Bliss, but it sure surprised us! The rest of passage was uneventful but generally unpleasant, and the four days felt like it stretched on into a week! At one point I remarked that I didn't know how we had managed for 25 days on the big passage. Sitting here now though, in a very flat and calm anchorage inside an atoll, it is hard to remember the feelings.

A friend remarked in their blog that only by doing a long sea passage will you find out if you are a passage-maker or not. I think Jolanda and I can both conclude that we are in the "not" group!

At 2019-May-14 06:46 UTC the position of Bliss was 16°27.033'S 145°22.083'W, with course of 000T (*T) and speed 0.0 knots. Wind speed 14.7 knots from 076T (*T)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

turning 7 in Nuku Hiva

Please welcome Edmund Edward to our family! Tessa is so excited to have our new family addition, even if it's just for a few days. We are talking about the hermit crab we are hosting aboard. Honestly, she totally forgot about presents until we brought some up to the cockpit this morning. We are celebrating her 7th birthday at remote Daniel's bay, the place where one of the first Survivor series was filmed apparently. It makes me wonder, did the participants do the endurance Pacific crossing as well, or did they fly in?

My amazing husband managed to bake a frosted covered brownie cake in an non functional oven. It involved stopping the oven, taking the thermo coupler out, start again and repeat 4 times. He has many skills, and patience is one of them.

We have been hanging out in the largest town in the Marquesas, Taiohae on the island of Nuku Hiva for a few days. Yes, there is a road and we have seen cars, but it is still tiny. The petit quai where you dare to land your dinghy has one snack (small restaurant), and close by is another snack, where we had lunch and picked up wifi to post our pictures on FB. We did buy a simcard for our phone, but the signal in the Marquesas is dismal, equal to dial up modem of our SSB.

We have indulged ourselves in ice cream here, all imported, nothing local, and baguettes. The latter is the only food item that is cheap, $0.7 per baguette. Everything else is USD or much more (the pharmacy wanted $6 for 10 pills of 400 mg generic Ibuprofen!). Most people grow their own food, have their own chickens for eggs, and a fair amount gets subsidized by France. We have been able to pick up some fresh produce, and some mediocre French cheese.

Last Friday we splurged on a car rental for 24 hrs to go inland. It's dense, lush, very clean, saw wild pigs, and visited an ancient site. Polynesian tribes once numbered approximately 100,000 people when Captain Cook visited the islands in the 18th century. Sadly, after this time the indigenous population was decimated by western contact and diseases brought from Great Britain and Europe. The current population is about 6000.

Tod and I indulged in the A/C of the car, couldn't get enough of it, and I don't even like A/C in the US most of the time! We took a late afternoon nap back aboard, then headed out for happy hour at the fancy Pearl lodge. The setting was beautiful, gorgeous view of the bay, and made up for the lack in quality cocktails and food. We have now explored all 4 eating places in this town. The night before we wanted to check out the recommended pizza place,and took a 30 min walk in town, across the bay. On the way there, I asked several people for directions, as it seems further than I had imagined. When we arrived, no signs of Belle Pizza, just another place, and a very friendly woman explained the owners had left for Tahiti... apparently, stores/shops close without much notice, and nobody could tell us when we asked for directions.

A few more days on Nuku Hiva, waiting for a boat part (thanks Jak!) to arrive, then onto the Tuamotus later this week. This archipelago of 78 coral atolls will be another 500 miles away (5 sailing days), and are described as the dangerous archipelago, due to their low lying character which makes them visible only when a boat is within 8 miles. Most boat wrecks in the south Pacific have happened there (think Thor Heyerdahl's Kon Tiki). We plan to visit just a few, well-marked atolls, but still, need to be very careful in entering and leaving the lagoons due to extreme currents, and we can only enter the lagoons during daylight with the sun directly overhead for visibility.

Funny postscript related to a parental error on my part: Tessa loves the " I survived" audio books, a mixture of non-fiction and fiction. She listened to "I survived the Titanic" back at home, and never during our trip did she mention it or got scared that Bliss might sink. So I downloaded another title in the series " I survived a grizzly attack", and boy did that haunt her last night. My fearless girl woke us up in the middle of the night, worried that there might be a grizzly bear coming aboard! This morning she made the smart choice to delete the book from the tablet, but one hour later regretted it..good we have no more internet for weeks again.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Fatu Hiva

Tessa and I stepped on land, well prepared with a note for the local police agent to explain that we had a starter/solenoid problem, and would like to request a few days for repair before going to Hiva Oa, an official port. Fatu Hiva, Hanavave Bay is not an official port of entry, and you are not supposed to go there first. But it is considered the most scenic of all, upwind of all other islands in the Marquesas, and Tod felt comfortable he could make it work without any resources or help available.

To my surprise, my legs did not wobble at all! I asked some local people where i could find Poa, but he was gone to Papeete in Tahiti, so no need for any awkward explanation what was going on with Bliss. Tessa and I walked up the road, passed a few houses and a tiny store. The surroundings are stunning, so lush, and pinnacle rocks 125 meters high, It's quite spectacular seeing all this green, in particular when you only have seen blue for 25 days. A very friendly local saw us walking by, and gave us 8 large pompelmouse fruits. We never had one before, and we now consider it one of our most favorite fruit. It's a sweeter, very juicy version of a grapefruit, and as big as Tessa's head!

With the solenoid/starter motor fixed, we all went ashore for a highly recommended hike to the waterfalls the next day. Tod did need a few moments to get his footing back. No signs whatsoever for the hike, we just kept walking along the road, taking in the awesome scenery. I had read that the hike would be relatively flat, but we just kept climbing up....mhm something is not right here. Then I spotted the waterfalls from our higher view. So back down the road we went,and we found the dirt road leading us to the falls. Tessa is in her element climbing up and down on rocks, and reached the falls first. How refreshing it was to take a dip under the tall, weeping rocks. Once we spotted a large black eel, our excitement to be in the water diminished, but the outing was well worth it. We all slept well that night, and woke up after sunrise for a change.

Friday we all dressed up to go ashore for a lunch, cooked by a local family. A French couple had invited us to join them, and I had clarified with the local family we could pay with Euros, as we still have no local currency. It was a feast of raw barracuda marinated with fruits, marinated pig, pork, rice, bread fruit, papaya,and pompelmouse juice. Delicious, and we were happy to support the family. When our friends aboard s/v Big Finn arrived in the anchorage at sunset, we got all excited. We had been emailing about our crossings, but it's much more satisfying to commiserate in person. We delayed our plan to leave on Saturday, and stayed another day to let our kids play, and catch up.

I'm writing this from another island Tahuata, an island and anchorage recommended by our friends, where we arrived yesterday afternoon. It's hot and very humid in the Marquesas, something that is hard to stomach at times (we are talking about how we can fit in a skiing trip in New Zealand...). So when there is a nice anchorage where you can just jump off your boat, and snorkel around looking for manta rays, we go for it. We will be doing this a lot in the Tuamotus, the next island group we will visit after the Marquesas. We will be leaving this afternoon to make an overnight passage to Nuku Hiva, where we will do our official check in, and get some fresh food again. Ice cream is on the list of desires, as well as dropping off our garbage and our laundry, even if the latter will likely cost $60 or more for 2 loads ..we are not in Mexico anymore, amigos!
At 2019-Apr-22 23:00 UTC the position of Bliss was 09°54.41'S 139°06.29'W, with course of 000T (*T) and speed 0.8 knots. Wind speed 4.6 knots from 089T (*T)

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 25

Oh so close, and ....the decisions we have to make. On Monday morning I came up to the cockpit, and Tod said "you will be happy to see our progress". Yes, I was, it looked like we could make landfall in 30 hours, somewhere on Tuesday afternoon. At that point, our boat speed was over 6 knots, and the estimated arrival time was based on that high speed. Fast forward 10 hours later, the wind had died down, our boat speed was reduced to half, and an afternoon or early evening landfall was no longer in the cards, unless we would start motoring for the rest of the trip.
Our motor is loud down below, none of us like it, and it makes the inside of our boat even more hot. So the decision has been made to not motor, go at a slow speed, and shoot for an arrival at sunrise (545 AM local time) on Wednesday morning. We actually might need to slow down, maybe heave to, to not make landfall during the night. But the end of this endurance marathon is in sight, and we hope to be rewarded to make landfall in, what our guide books describe, as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Fatu Hiva. There will be no resources or stores whatsoever, that ice cream or baguette has to wait, but it will provide us with an unrolling anchorage to fix our starter motor issue, a sticky solenoid.

Thanks everyone for following along, and for all the messages you sent to us!

Post script: we just spotted land,what an exciting feeling! Still 30 miles away, another 6 hrs, and I had to double check that it wasn't just clouds. "Land at last", Tessa screams when I get the whole family to come up. If we feel comfortable and we have enough moon light, we might anchor tonight. Next post will be from land!

Jolanda signing off for the Bliss crew

At 2019-Apr-16 18:00 UTC the position of Bliss was 09°36.34'S 137°50.92'W, with course of 229T (*T) and speed 3.9 knots. Wind speed 11.6 knots from 081T (*T)

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 21

Bliss has turned into a moving sauna, as we had rain for 24 hrs the last day, and all hatches were closed. Today, no rain, all ports are open again, but we are motoring as we are in the doldrums of the South Pacific, and no wind to speak off. So glad to have a water maker that gives us the opportunity to take frequent gives you 5 minutes of feeling refreshed before you start sweating again.

We have discussions of buying land in an alpine setting, cool, green and refreshing. Where your mind takes you when you are on a journey like this....Where did captain Cook's mind go when he sailed these waters, I wonder?

Three weeks underway, and into our final week, we hope (fingers crossed this is our last Friday on this journey). Both Tod and I feel that we sort of lost our taste buds, we are just not craving anything. No doubt this will return once we step on land. Cruising friends of ours have arrived, and mentioned the amazing smell of flowers everywhere. Very much looking forward to that! I can't also wait to finally swim in the Big Blue. We plan to make land fall in Atuona, Hiva Oa, and I will have to curb that desire there, as it's known to have a large shark population. Hopefully the fresh baguettes will make up for that.

That's it for now, a bien tot, better start sprucing up my French in the coming days.

Jolanda, signing off for the Bliss crew

At 2019-Apr-13 04:50 UTC the position of Bliss was 05°35.26'S 131°40.67'W, with course of 215T (*T) and speed 6.4 knots. Wind speed 7.3 knots from 103T (*T)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 19 photos

King Neptune, and happy girls

Pacific Crossing Day 19

Good morning, although it will be likely evening by the time you get this update, as our SSB doesn't work well during day time hours.

After a treat of nutella pancakes for dinner, we had a a special visitor Tuesday evening. King Neptune, with a glued-on cotton ball beard, appeared, and we all became Shell Backs at longitude 129 degrees West. Kids champagne was popped, a message in the bottle was written and thrown overboard, the ocean got a liquid present too (no, not my wedding ring), and we all visit the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in our life.

About 750 nautical miles to go as of Wednesday morning, that's the distance how to crow flies. We are hoping to step on land in about a week. By that time we are ready to get rid of our plastic garbage as well. Per a friend's suggestion, we cut up all the plastic we have, put it in a large plastic water bottle, and keep it stored away in our small garbage bin. Well, yoghurts containers are a bit of a pain to cut, so we just leave these out and fill them with other plastics. We all saw the documentary Plastic Ocean in La Cruz, highly recommended, and it makes us even more aware of the plastic pollution we have created. On this trip we can report that we have seen only a few pieces of floating plastic, and we do our bit to keep it that way.

Onwards we go!
Jolanda signing off for the Bliss crew

At 2019-Apr-10 16:41 UTC the position of Bliss was 01°16.43'S 129°14.17'W, with course of 191T (*T) and speed 6.3 knots. Wind speed 12.8 knots from 078T (*T)

Monday, April 8, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 17

Oh what a difference 24 hrs can make. This is what we would like to do, every day. Independently, we both said, we could just sail around the world. Our feelings ride the ocean waves, when it's good, it's great. When not....

What's different? The seas are mellow, coming from just one direction. We are still heeling, of course as we are a sailing boat, but no rodeo ride, and the wind is just enough for us to sail with both sails up. And it was calm during the night, so we all slept pretty well!

My day started well with breakfast served in bed by my own chef, Tessa. She is learning to make pancakes, put her apron on, and took the whole thing quite seriously. My other chef aboard is now prepping to make bread. He also just put the kids champagne in the fridge, as, fingers crossed, it looks like we are crossing the equator tomorrow!

1000 miles to go, we are 2/3 down the road. Eight miles east of us is the first boat we have seen in a long time (well, we haven't yet actually seen the boat, but we know it's there!). We tried to hail them on the radio, but no luck so far. Funny, the excitement you feel for talking to people you have never met or even know. It's the shared journey that creates a bond.

Post script: apparently we both bought the wrong flour, corn flour instead of wheat! so no bread making until we get to the Marquesas. Tod is experimenting with making a chicken pot pie with a corn flour crust instead.

Jolanda, signing off for the Bliss crew
At 2019-Apr-09 1:04 AM UTC the position of Bliss was 02°04.08'N 128°33.71'W, with course of 201T (*T) and speed 4.7 knots. Wind speed 7.8 knots from 102T (*T)

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Pacific crossing Day 16

I have lost track of time and days, our phones will tell us the date, the sun the time.

The sun did came out again, and she was very welcome aboard. We are in the rolly, unpredicatable ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone) now, 4 degrees North of the equator at this time, and as was expected, the big blue puddle did not give us an easy time the last 20 hours. During our evening/night routine in the cockpit, Tessa was looking for the North Star, as she wanted to do a wish. Not much luck for her, as it was all overcast, dark clouds. We told her that in a few days the North Star would no longer be visible to us, after we cross the equator into the Southern Hemisphere. This is where the world schooling comes in, and it's fun to give her an experience that's beyond paper. She will be looking for new stars, the ones we can't see in the Northern Hemisphere.

So was not fun about the last 20 hrs? Rain, thunder, really confused seas, and discovering leaks that we didn't know of since owning Bliss for 12 years. And one of them, above my bunk, like not a little drip but more like a faucet...ah well, the sun did came out again, it's not cold and things are starting to dry.

I never imagined I would say this, but I'm starting to like ramen noodles. Tod introduces me to these high-end foods. He wanted to take me to Taco Bell on one of our first dates as I had never been to one. Well ramen noodles are now a family favorite, Tessa loves it and says it's better than ice cream! It's a to-go meal, and we dress it up a bit, when real cooking is just not an option.

Good news: Tod rigged up the tiller pilot to our Monitor Windvane, and we are now motoring hands free, in slightly less confused seas. We did hand steer just for a little while, each of us getting soaking wet, coming down below as wet puppies to dry and warm up a bit.

I'm hoping that in a couple more days we will cross the equator. A party is in the planning. Do I need to give the ocean my wedding ring to ensure our last leg will be more comfortable? I'm not sure that just some champagne will do the trick. Suggestions?

Jolanda signing off for the Bliss crew

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 15

Strawberry is doing all the hard work, she and Blueberry are doing all the steering on Bliss, and are our extra pair of crew hands on deck. Tessa came up with these names referring to the color of the blades of the Monitor Windvane. Blue is for higher winds, red is taller and is for lighter winds. We for sure our glad to have a mechanical hand steering device, mounted on our stern. The Monitor, once set up with balanced sails, does not require electricity, just wind to work. We haven't seen many boats with them anymore, just like we haven' seen many boats with SSB radio, most modern cruising boats have electrical autopilots. They are mounted down below, required battery power, and work well, until...they don't. The number one failure on large crossings like these, are auto pilots. Many cruisers carry an extra set, or replacement parts. We do have an auto pilot, but it's mounted above decks, not as strong, and not up to the strong and high waves we have gotten so far. We thought we had the spare parts for it ,so we can use it when motoring in flat seas (will this really happen???), but we don't, so we will have to wait until we in Tahiti to see if we can make it work again. So, what do we do when those flat seas at some point show up in the doldrums? Well, Tod, I admit...when you ordered a part back in Shaker, and I questioned why we need to spend that money, I was wrong, and we will be happy to have the tiller pilot hooked up to the Monitor.

For the sailors among you, we have been flying a reduced main sail and poled out jib at a broad reach for days now. Happy we added the whisker/spinnaker pole at the last moment.

When I spend time in nature, far away from anything, my mind starts to drift, and I get inspired to keep our family on an adventurous track. Right now, I'm very much looking forward to visit French Polynesia, and visit places you can almost only visit by boat. Sure, it's quite the track to get there, and as you get from reading our blog, far from an easy one, but I hope to say in a few months, this crossing has been all worthwhile. Sailing friends of ours have already arrived, and are super excited to be there.

A shout out to my physician sister: thanks Boer for your guidance with the respiratory infection I developed more than a week ago. She has a list of all our rx onboard, and with the ease of the garmin inreach satellite device, we can communicate almost instantly via text. We do carry an actual satellite phone as well, but have that for real emergencies.

Lunch time here. Tod isn't quite up to start making bread (thanks Nicole for the sourdough starter!), but we bought about 100 tortillas, so that with cheese, salami, carrots will do the trick for now.

Jolanda, signing off for the Bliss crew

At 2019-Apr-05 9:58 PM UTC the position of Bliss was 07°08.41'N 125°39.95'W, with course of 225T (*T) and speed 5.3 knots. Wind speed 11.4 knots from 056T (*T)

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 14

Half way there, no April fool's day joke today, it's true. Is the glass half empty or half full?
If you ask Tessa, she would say half full, as she is really having a good time by herself in the v berth, making rainbow weaves bracelets, drawing while listening to audio books for hours at the time during the day, then catches up with us later in the day. If someone is willing to write the authors of the Flashback Four series and/or The Doldrums series, and tell them we need them to write more of these, I will be forever in your debt. And how about the adults? Likely half empty, as we are thinking "are we there yet"?

Last night we had our first major squall, intense rain for 45 minutes, lighting in the distance. All electronics ended up in the oven for protection. We are trying to avoid these,but there is just so much you can do. For weather prediction, we use Predict Wind, from which we get weather reports through our SSB. A major help though in passage making has been Jamie, from s/v Totem. His family of 5 completed a circumnavigation last year, and we got to meet them in La Cruz. They have a wonderful blog if you are interested to read, just search s/v Totem. Each afternoon Jamie send us long/lat coordinates to shoot for, and even gave us a nice pep talk email when I needed one.

We have run out of fresh greens, sad to say. I had bought 5 pounds of broccoli,5 pounds of spinach and 5 pounds of beans. Not all of that got eaten, as we didn't have the appetite so we had to toss some out. Last containers of yoghurt too. But, no worries, we still have plenty of dried staples, 8 pounds of carrots, cheese, smoked marlin, apples, dried fruits, milk, all sorts of can varieties, nuts etc. We will not starve on this trip!

That's it for now. Another post I would like someone to please explain to me the xth law of Newton?! It must have something to do with higher level of center of gravity, and the amount of bruises you get over your body while ocean sailing...tessa has none, i have too many to count.

Jolanda, signing off for the Bliss crew

At 2019-Apr-04 8:24 PM UTC the position of Bliss was 08°58.66'N 124°25.36'W, with course of 273T (*T) and speed 4.6 knots. Wind speed 14.4 knots from 046T (*T)

Monday, April 1, 2019

Pacific Crossing Day 10

It's a glorious day in the neighborhood, and yes, we made the first 1000 miles mark. It's the slower part of our journey, the next 1000 miles should take less time. It's not hot and humid in and outside, it feels like a pleasant spring break. We are all well rested, and in the mood of cooking great meals. As it seems brought an apple tree with me, I figured I made as well make a Dutch apple pie with Tessa. We laid down the flour on the flat table, there was no rocking at all, and I did what i love to do, cooking. And then, just to top if off, Tod yelled from above decks, " come above, let me show you what I caught". A beautiful yellow blue tuna, and no, we did not wrap the fishing line around the prop. Sushi and apple pie, what could be better?

Wait, what's the date today again? :-)

All is well aboard

Stats Day 10: 1105 miles in last 10 days, 1800 to go to Nuku Hiva
Jolanda for Bliss crew signing off for now, at 10 degrees 23' N, 118 degrees 05' W

Blog posts at sea are sent through our SSB radio. We love hearing from you and can read your comments, just know we have no ability to reply back on our blog's website. If you leave your name, we can reply to you directly by email.
At 2019-Apr-01 5:28 PM UTC the position of Bliss was 10°22.85'N 118°04.52'W, with course of 211T (*T) and speed 4.3 knots. Wind speed 10.8 knots from 053T (*T)

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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Pacific crossing Day 5, flying high

I have always said this sailing life comes with higher highs and lower lows than land life. Today, it's a high. The spinnaker is up, we are making good progress while not even in the trade winds. It's a joy to sit in the shaded cockpit, we are even having fun doing school. I know, sounds crazy! Today school part will include marking our position on a paper chart, learning about long/latitude, and throwing in some math as well. Tessa has been collecting the dead flying squid we have on deck every morning, and is also enjoying taking pictures with her new camera (thank you, oma and opa!). I got some laundry done, and I'm looking forward to the fritata Tod will be making tonight( we left with 190 eggs, I overdid it, so we will be creative with some eggs dishes). This life teaches me to take it one day at the time, and when it's a great day at sea, it's a glorious one. On a different note, things felt a bit spooky last night during my night watch. An alarm went off on our chart plotter, red sign flashing "vessel dangerously close". I had been looking at traffic for a while, and I didn't see anything other than bright stars. We don't see other boats out here, the exception was last evening when another Pacific Puddle Jumper sailed closeby, the fist sailboat in 5 days. We chatted on the VHF radio for a bit, and then off we went, each a slightly different direction. Back to the flashing red light.. ..I just kept looking around, 360 degrees, but just couldn't see any other boats. After 10 minutes the red sign went away, and during our night switch at 2AM, we figured out that *our* AIS (which shows our vessel's position on other boats' charts, but had been not functioning the day before) was temporarily active again, and it was own own boat that was dangerously close! It's on our never ending "to fix" list, to get our AIS responder working properly again. Manana, manana!

Post script on Thursday:
Question for the day: which part was fiction in the above part? No, you guessed it wrong; school was really fun yesterday. What was fiction was that Tod didn't get to make the fritata, because...the sheet hit the fan so to speak. The fan was that propeller again. Seriously, you would think we are newbies to sailing, and have not sailed for decades and many sea miles. In short, when it was time to get the spinnaker down (too big of sail, so we put it away for the evening), we again managed to get the way tooooo long lazy sheet in the water around the propeller. We hove too, got to boat speed down, and Tod reluctantly jumped in again. Waves were quite high this time, 6 ft is my best guess.
Short story, he untangled it again, but we were just too tired to deal with dinner for ourselves any more. The waves kept strong all night, rocking us like crazy, not much sleep for the adults (it doesn't affect Tessa), and the high day ended up like a real low.....

Stats Day 5: 550 in last 5 days, 2300 to go to Nuku Hiva
Jolanda for Bliss crew signing off for now, at 16 degrees 07' N, 112 degrees 50' W

Blogpost at sea are sent through our SSB radio. We can read your comments, and love them, just know we have no ability to reply back on the website.

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Monday, March 25, 2019

Pacific crossing day 3

It seems ages ago that we left Puerta Vallarta on Friday March 22, but it has only been 3 days.

I'm rocking and rolling in my berth right now, horizontal seems to be the best position if you don't want to be trashed around. We have had an adventurous day: tod really wanted to fly our spinnaker, he got it all nicely set up, we enjoyed a nice ride for a while, until it went downhill. Short version, the lazy sheet got wrapped around the other way around than jumping in the deep blue while being tied to the boat. Not something you want to do unless you have no other choice, as we are in larger predators territory here. off course, Tod fixed our problem and we are now flying our jib with our new pole.

Tessa seems to take the rolling motion the best of the crew, and is the most happy of us 3. She is devouring audiobooks, plays and eats well. "The boat rocks, mama, its just something you have to get used too", she told me yesterday, while i cursed like a sailor. The adults aboard need just a couple more days to get in the swing of things. Ending on a positive note, we had a glorious day of sailing yesterday, almost what i imagined trades sailing will be. Something to look forward too! The night skies have been amazing, and soon Tessa will know more about galaxies than I do. And our sailboat Bliss is in her happy state, this is what she was mend to do.

Blogpost at sea are send through our SSB radio. We can read your comments, and love them, just know we have no ability to reply back.

stats; 350 miles in last 3 days.

Jolanda for Bliss crew signing off for now, at 17 degrees 52' north, 110 degrees 14' west

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

When you are ready but the wind is not

Waiting is part of the game, if we like it or not. After months of continuous work, we looked at what could possibly be a short weather window to get off the coast of Mexico here. Bliss carries only so much fuel, and a good portion will be used for crossing the ITCZ, the zone near the equator with fluky to zero winds (also know as the doldrums).  So, we are in a waiting pattern, fridge is fully stocked again, but we will have to stock up again next week right before departure. Knowing Tod, he will try to finish up some more less urgent projects. Stay tuned, we are hoping for late next week. Happy Spring!

another one plus full cart, dry and not so dry provisioning

Another birthday for Tod aboard

we carry paper charts too, up to New Zealand

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Getting into the final stretch

This afternoon we will be part of the farewell party of the Pacific Puddle Jumpers here in Banderas Bay. Al tough there are hundreds of boats in this area, only about 14 will be sailing the 2900 NM from here to the Marquesas, French Polynesia. The far majority of these 14 boats will be leaving on Monday, the first good weather window to catch good wind to go West. Almost all boats leaving from here are boats with US crew only, and they can only stay in French Polynesia for 90 days (unless they applied in advance for a special permit).  These boats plan to sail another 5000 to 6000 NM to either Australia or New Zealand to be there for cyclone season, starting end of November.

Bliss on the other hand, is in a slightly different boat. As Europeans, Tessa and I can stay in French Polynesia for an unlimited time, and Tod gets another benefit for being married to me:-). We do have to submit paperwork once we arrive in the Marquesas, but if all goes well, Tod will get his annual Carte de Sejour, and we can bob around without going all the way down South. We plan to leave Bliss in French Polynesia during cyclone season, but as all boat plans, they are written in sand.

We plan to leave in the 3rd of 4th week of March, waiting for another good weather window. In the meantime, still boat projects, home schooling, and provisioning to do. Tod's birthday coming up next week, and we will have the chance to get one more "fancy" meal in. We hope that Tessa's birthday is no longer at sea, but celebrated in "Moana Land" (she is very excited!).

I will send out one more blog post before we leave, that will include a tracker for our Pacific Ocean crossing. Hasta luego, and thanks for following along! We love to hear from you!

Crocodiles in marina Puerta Vallarta, yikes
Catching up and having fun with our friends aboard Let it Be

Looking up from our bedroom 

Fascinated by the lobster at the fish market

This is another project added to the list, and counts as birthday gifts for both of us for the next years.
we decided to add a spinnaker pole for our downwind sailing

cruise ships in Puerta Vallarta make you feel so tiny

We can not wait to do more sailing/playing, here back to
our home base in la Cruz. Whales and dolphins on our sail home

Dona Mari, the 99 years old Mexican woman, walking every day several km,
collecting cans for money. She makes you smile.

hanging out in the cruisers lounge in La Cruz, with AC!

So much fun with La Cruz Kids Club, and Cat (on the right) makes it all happen!

I'm gonna miss dropping off our laundry for $6, getting back same day,
nicely folded. Hand washing from here on after we leave....

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

From de-icing to please send us some ice!

Radio silence from the Bliss Crew since Tessa and I reunited with Tod almost 3.5 weeks ago. We left the frigid cold of Shaker Heights and had to watch our plane being de-iced before takeoff,  to the tropics of La Cruz in Banderas Bay where we could really use some our fridge! Yes, friends, our trusted DC fridge decided to call it quits, and ever since we arrived, we have lived in the tropics without any fridge. Let me tell you, it gets a bit old and moldy. So every day we walk to town to get non perishable food, and explore dining options, and lucky for us, there are quite a few in town and they start to know us by name/face.

In a few weeks from now, the first sailors will leave to set sail to the Marquesas, French Polynesia. We hope to be among them. The word is hope, as we have still many projects to tackle, and yes, having a working fridge is one of them! We meet weekly with this small group of "Puddle Jumpers" (referring to the Pacific Ocean here) and you can sort of tell who is doing this "ocean jump" among the many other sailors here. We jumpers look a bit more tired and stressed. As always, the Bliss crew is doing things a bit differently. We are the only ones who launched our boat back in the water just 6 weeks ago. Tod has been working non stop to get us where we are right now. All other jumpers have sailed since last Fall, and have had more time to enjoy sailing and take a break from the non stop preparation.  Our time will come, I know, but in case you wondered what we have been up to, wonder no more! Back to work, uh sleep for now, I will add some pics of the our time here. Oh, one final thought: I already had huge admiration for teachers, but that has increased a notch since I started boat schooling. Apparently I'm in good company here with other cruising parents, we can count the "no complaints from our kids- days" on one hand. Let's file this under the categories "room for inner zen growth" (parents) and room for improvements (kids). Hasta luego!

our boat in progress while Tod worked on the engine

Tod picked a nice bright color for our engine repaint

iguanas everywhere

getting ready for overnight beach camp out without us,
with la Cruz Kids club. She had a blast! There are many
kids in the marina now, so making new friends is easy.

and while she was gone for the night, we indulged in a more fancy dinner than usual
beet salad anyone?