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 showers...it 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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