//WL2K Fakarava Atoll

Not so long ago, most boats/cruisers avoided the Tuamotu’s. They were called the dangerous islands (or something like that). All reefs, not very well charted and most of them you cannot see until you are just few miles away in the daylight, at night you would not see them at all. The charts of the area nowadays are a lot better and GPS makes it that much more easier. The passes into the atolls are not so easy. The majority of these passes are only safely traversed at or near slack water (that short period of time between low and high tide). Unfortunately there is not a good source (that we have found) for when slack water actually is in these passes, and even if there was, there are so many different variables for each atoll and the weather at the time that those would be inaccurate anyway. We have developed a technique however. And should you find yourself in the Tuamotu’s feel free to use it. The technique. We find the closest island on our charts with a tide table and use that time as a very rough guess. We then send an email to our land based shore operation headquarters/weather router (L.B.S.O.HQ/WR for short). He internets for us and replies to us with the times for slack water, which are just as inaccurate as what we come up with(Seriously though, thank you Eric). We take both of these times, average them and subtract a half hour. At the appointed time, we then wait another 20-25 minutes then slowly approach the atoll and watch the current in the pass. If it looks relatively safe we proceed. Otherwise we wait. Yep….it’s just that scientific. The first atoll we stopped at after leaving the Marquesas was Makemo. We arrived there late in the afternoon, about an hour after slack water, which meant we could not get in that night. We hove-to about 5 miles off the reef/atoll until sun up and for the next tide change. Heaving to in the open ocean is very mellow. Once the boat is setup and the sails are set correctly. Everything flattens out (relatively). We made dinner, watched a couple movies and chilled. All went well in the pass and once inside the atoll the water changes from open ocean conditions to almost flat calm, lake like conditions. We are currently at our second atoll, Fakarava. To use the term “Island paradise” would be a substantial understatement. I cannot really begin to describe it, and since I am posting this via Ham radio I cannot upload any pictures. So hit CTRL, T and google for a bit. That will have to tide you over till we get to Tahiti and get some solid internet. We have been anchored here in the south end of Fakarava for a little over a week now. We don’t really wanna leave but there are other places to see. We’ve spent most of our time snorkling, diving, kite boarding (trying) and exploring the motos. A few nights ago me and 3 other guys from a couple other boats decided to go lobstering. We waited till after sunset and dinghied out to the reef to catch some lobster. It’s not too hard once you spot one, which is hard. Once spotted, you blind him with your flashlight and grab him with your other hand from behind. You gotta be fast and they are crazy strong for their size. If you still happen to have that other tab open take a look at a picture of the southern tip of the atoll. Or better yet, go to Google Maps and drop these coordinates in there; Dinghy anchor spot 16 32’08.4 S 145 28’18.9 W Turn around 16 32’57.2 S 145 29’54.2 W Not that far apart. Straight line about 2 miles. Keep that in mind and let me paint you a picture. It’s 8pm. The Sun has been down for 2+ hours and the moon is about to set. It is dark. We anchor the dinghies and tie a small flash light to a palm tree so we can find our spot on the return. With headlamps and hand held flashlights we walked out to the edge of the reef in water that ranged from ankle to thigh deep. The terrain, a murderous combination of lava rock and coral reef. At the reef’s edge the swell and waves from the ocean are slamming into the reef about 20 feet away. It was low tide, so most of the waves would slam into the reef and die away after crashing into the reef. Every few minutes or so a big set of waves would roll through which would break over the reef and sweep toward us. Falling down is NOT an option. Remember that murderous terrain we are walking on? Falling down turns that into a human cheese grater. That two miles we walked took us 3.5 hours but we managed to catch 25 or so lobsters. We now had to get back, but the tide was rising so we could not safely………(excuse me, bahahahhahhaha…)..ahem…walk the outer reef so we went into slightly shallower water for the return. As an added bonus I was carrying a mesh bag with most of the lobsters in it. That basically made me a walking chum bucket. I had to turn around every so often and kick at the reef sharks that were following right behind me to keep them from going after the lobsters we had caught. I kept telling myself they were going after the lobsters…… “Self”, I would say. “They are only going after the lobsters.” The walk back only took 2 hours and at 2am I was safely tucked into my bunk, swearing to never do that shit again. The next day we had a beach bonfire and grilled up the catch making all the trouble of the night before worth it and of course talking about the next time we should go.

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//WL2K Hey Atoll……yeah. I’m talking to you.

It is Tuesday, June 16th. We are anchored in an atoll in the Toumotus called Makemo. We ended up spending more time here than we planned due to weather. Not particularly bad weather, but it was enough to make the passes in and out of the atolls a little gnarlier than we like so we just stayed put here. And as luck would have it, Here, is absolutly a south pacific island paradise. We are tucked in behind a reef. So even though the wind has been blowing 25 knots for a few days, the waves never build up to more than a foot of wind chop. The reef we are anchored behind is huge and we have been snorkling all over it. And have become accustomed to swimming with sharks. Granted they are reef sharks, but i’d like you to pay particular attention to the word that appears after that word “reef”….Yeah, it is still a shark! We are sorta channeling some Steve Irwin. We spent a little over a month in the Marquesas, which were freaking awesome! Loved every minute of it. The scenery, and the islands were incredible. INCREDIBLE. The Marquesaian people, unbeliveably friendly and welcoming. That last sentence was very hard to write. I actually wrote, deleted and rewrote it about 10 times. Most of the stuff I deleted was multiple paragraphs long. But I just could not get it right. There is just no way I could write out just how mellow, friendly, and welcoming almost every one of the people we met in the Marquesas were. I say almost, cause there was one lady in particular that was grumpy as shit. Maybe she was just having a bad day. So I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt………she was still a bitch though. Our last stop in the Marquesas was the island of Oa Pou. We spent almost a week there. From there we sailed four days to the next island group. The Toumotus, which is a group of Atolls. I seriously suggest you get your Google on and check out some pictures. These atolls are a trip. I’m posting this via Ham Radio, so I cannot upload any photos. A few minutes of Googling and you will not be disappointed. However, if your sitting in your cube at work, you might feel a slight suicidal twinge, but that will pass when the jealous rage takes over. As I mentioned, the atoll we are at in called Makemo. We have been snorkling, kiteboarding…..ish…and just chilling here for a week. Our plan is to take off tomorrow and head for another atoll called Fakarava. We have decided to skip Tahanea (sorry Aaron), but we only have a limited amount of time on our visa and have had to make some tough decisions. Sorry no pics, but word is there is internet available on Fakarava, so we might get some pictures uploaded next week.

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//WL2K Deep thoughts (sorta)

Turns out that sailing a slow boat across a large ocean affords you alot of time to sit and think about stupid shit. I’ll spare you the truely stupid shit I think about most the time. The other day I was sitting in the cockpit watching the waves and swell passing under the boat and thinking that over the last two years of sailing/traveling from Seattle, Canada, The Pacific coast of the U.S., Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatamala, Belize, Nicaruagua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Galapagos, Ecuador….for some reason it occured to me that other than a very small handful of items, Me and Tawn have no souveniers of our trip. Pictures and memories by the pant load, but no stupid little knick knacks. I shifted my focus from the waves to our shitty old outboard engine hanging off the stern of the boat and I notice the steel cable I made to lock it and our dinghy to trees when we go to shore. Then it hit me….we actually do have a crapload of souviners. In no particular order starting with that rusty old cable. We got that in Chinendega, Nicaruagua at a hardware store. It took me 20 minutes to explain I wanted stainless steel cable. After much hand waving and 3 guys nodding and me speaking louder and louder in shitty spanish I finally got my stainless steel cable…..that is decidedly NOT stainless steel. There are the two new Solar Panels that we bought from an old British dude that runs a solar store in Antiqua, Guatamala, which is just outside Guat. City. He fudged the invoice (thinking it would help us out), it did not and got us thrown off the bus at the El Salvador/Guatamala border. Only with the help of an english speaking business man did we make it across the border and back to the boat. Picked up the perfect oil funnel in a 99 cent store in Port Hardy, Canada while we waited for the liqour store to open up next door. Two surfboards, mine we picked up in Pismo Beach, California and the metro bus driver would not let us on the bus with it, so the stoney surf bum that sold it to us agreed to bring it to us after he got off work. Tawns board we picked up in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We played the two shop workers there against each other and got it for $50 dollars less than they wanted to sell it for. Which reminds me of the surfboard rack that holds them to the side of the boat. Half of it is a couple lengths of stainless steel (for real) tubing we got in San Salvador, the other half is tubing we got from our friend Josh on Gitana. Which we walked around Hualtuco, Mexicoj with in the blazing sun looking for a machine shop that would bend it for us. Two little porcelin bowls we found in a wierd little store in Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos. We needed something to mix wasabi and soy sauce togather for sushi nights when we catch fresh tuna. There is the ugly ass metal dryer vent hose that we use to vent out the engine compartment. Picked that up at a Home Depot in La Paz, Mexico. Tawn’s new Android tablet that we got in Panama City in a shop in “Chinatown”. NOOOO WAY that thing was not stolen. My two Machetes, one I got in Mexico and the other in Zacatecluca, El Salvador along with a casting net for fishing. The list goes on and on…. The travel and visiting the tourist sites and seeing the sights your supposed to see are all very cool, but honestly, for me the best part is the adventure of doing the random crap that I like the most. Finding parts for the boat, stumbling into the wrong part of town or getting abit lost and getting help from random people along the way.

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//WL2K Crossing the Pacific: Week 1 update

We’ve been underway for a a little over a week now. The time has actually flown by. We are doing 4 hour shifts, but really that does not mean alot of work. We have lots of wind and for the most part it stays out of the same direction (ESE) all the time. The wind speed changes a little and the sea state does to, so from time to time we have to do a sail change or adjust the course to make it a little more comfortable ride. The windvave is doing all the steering, so all the person on watch has to do is hangout and read, listen to music or watch a movie and adjust what ever needs adjusting from time to time. The last couple days have been a little squally so it’s been a little more work on adjusting sail trim or dodging most of the storms. But over all been a good trip. We are making way more miles a day than I thought we would. As of day 8 we are averaging 132 miles a day, which is awesome for us. I would have been crazy happy (and amazed) to average 120 day!

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