Playing the Cruiser Waiting Game

Wether you spend a month waiting for a weather window in New Zealand, like many of our friends, or a month waiting in Tonga…it always seems like the next cruising season starts with delays. We have been back in the water since May 14th and had plans to spend a week getting the boat back in shape and provisioned, then take off for the southern island group of Hapaai before heading north to the Samoan islands. However, Palarran has had other plans. The first delay was waiting for some winch parts we had ordered over 2 months ago to arrive… apparently there was a mix up? We finally got the parts through customs….another tale all together…and got the winches up and running. Then toward the end of May we were getting ready to head out for a little shake down motor whenI notice water dripping from the raw water pump. CB took a look and realized the lip seal had dried out on us. Great….how were we going to find parts for a 33 year old Yanmar in Tonga!

We called around to the few mechanics and no luck…they advised trying the auto part store….yeah right. But sure as shit…the only automotive store in this part of Tonga had the exact water pump in stock…whaaat? Since a special press was needed to put it all back together, we had the shop fix the pump and were only out 200 TOP…or 100 US dollars…sweet!

The next day we provisioned with the assistance of my friends Tonga ride…thank you Julie Goss…and we were ready to go. The weather was good, the swell was low and the wind would actually allow us to sail south. CB went to shore to check out of the Port and we were all set to leave….NOT! As he was walking away from the dinghy he heard a loud pop followed by a rush of air…the faces of the two guys in front of him told him all was not well. As he turned around he observed a delapidated dinghy with a large hole in its side. Shiiiiit…I was on the boat stowing all our recently purchased food stuffs when I hear a dinghy approach…not my dinghy mind u. I look outside and there is CB in our friends dink…his face said it all.

Luckly one of the guys at The Boatyard, Alan, is a hypalon master and had the very special and expensive glue needed to fix a seam…unluckily, he was off to Hapaai (yep…where we wanted to go) for the next week….shiiiit! So, we borrowed a dinghy from a friend, again thank you Julie Goss, and headed out to the anchorages. We were unsure if our dinghy could actually be fixed and hemmed and hawed over what we would do…swimming to shore just isn’t a viable way to go. After a week we returned…this is now 3 weeks after we wanted to leave. That Monday morning the dude and his magic glue appeared and he WAS able to fix it…for how long…we know not…but it was holding air. Great….now we can go!

NOPE…the same high pressure system that was keeping everyone in New Zealand was creating crap weather here and we were stuck between the high and a low pressure system to the north. The swell was up to 9 feet with little timing inbetween, not to mention 30 knot winds and wind waves. We only had 60 miles to go…but it would have been awful. As we really have no schedule, we waited again.

Cool thing was, some friends of ours were hosting the guys from a Fox Sports fishing show called Stoked on Fishing who were filming for an episode or two on Tonga. We went and hung out in the anchorages with them and watched some very talented dudes fish and spear fish. They caught a ton of fish and we all had a blast partying on the giant catamaran and party platform.

It is now Wednesday and another weather window has appeared and in a few short hours we will leave to head south. All in all, when you are in a tropical paradise…having to stick around for an extra month is really no big deal!

Posted in Adventures, Big trips, Tawn | 2 Comments

Even when it’s shitty, it’s still pretty good.

The first part of July found Me and Tawn in Seattle. I had a job with Danno and so we took the opportunity to visit friends, pick up some boat parts, some new kite boarding gear, and some other bits we needed to bring back to the boat.

Tawn flew back through Hawaii so she could hangout with friends Dave and Jen for a few days and buy a new kite board. I flew back via L.A. and got back a day before Tawn did.

My baggage did not.

Half of all the stuff we bought and stuffed into our luggage was in my checked bag. The one the airline lost! Easily $1000 worth of boat parts and other goodies. Luckily it all showed up on Monday afternoon, but the welcome back to Tahiti was marred just a little.

Since we had a few days to kill waiting for my luggage we spent it putting the boat back together and ready to go cruising again and goofing off around town.

This does not mean the same thing in Tahiti as it does in Seattle. I was a little sad.
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We left Papeete, Tahiti and sailed to the Island of Moorea about 25 miles away. Moorea here we come!
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We were sailing in to Cooks Bay on Moorea island through the pass under headsail alone when the wind completely died. So we rolled up the jib and fired up the engine. That is when shitty reared it’s lumpy brown head.

We’ve had this reoccurring electrical issue that I have been unable to track down. Somewhere in our rat’s nest of an electrical system there is a short. Every now and again, it shows it’s self in the form of a burnt fuse. Which, once blown takes away our ability to charge the batteries with the alternator when the engine is running. Luckily we are in the South Pacific, so we have more than enough sun and wind to keep the batteries charged up.

Historically this issue shows up so infrequently that I sorta don’t give a shit about it. The fix has always been to look at and wiggle some wires, then replace the fuse and it works for another couple months. As a quick aside, if you need an electrician to work on your boat. Hit me up. My rates are reasonable and i’m pretty sure i’d rip you off WAY less than any other “Marine Electrician” you’ll end up hiring.

It is however, officially time to pay the piper. The issue seems to be permanent. As soon as I turn on the ignition, the fuse blows. No matter how vigorously I wiggle wires.

So we spent two days chasing and replacing wires and connections. Good news is I found two corroded wires and replaced them. Bad news is, there is at a minimum one more bad wire somewhere and I have not found it yet.

Honestly though this is not a bad place to work on your boat.
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But the sun was shining and there was miles of coral reef to snorkel. So we said fuck it! Jury rigged it so we can at least start the engine and we’ll fix it properly when we haul the boat in Tonga in a couple months.

Right now the patch is to just start it, let it burn up the fuse and carry on. At this point in the story i’d like to take the time to apologize to the good people of Papeete, Tahiti and a couple small towns on Moorea. I’m pretty sure we bought all the 30 amp fuses on those two islands…..sorry if you needed some.

I bet if you made an offer this beauty it could be yours.
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Anyway, here are some pictures of awesomeness that we are experiencing instead of fixing stupid wiring issues.

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Ali Beth, the shorts you bought me give me awesome balancing powers.
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And of course we can always find the bar for sunset drinks!

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Posted in Big trips, Palarran | 1 Comment

//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.

Posted in Palarran | Leave a comment

//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.

Posted in Palarran | 1 Comment