Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bob taking down the spinnaker, we made quite a team!
We made it, wow, unbelievable! It was a wonderful passage. We left the Galapagos on March 25 at noon approx. and we counted March 26 at noon as Day 1, so we landed on Wed. April 16 at 2000 hours so we think it took us 22 days and 8 hours. I will have to figure who won the lottery. Thank you all very much for guessing. It was fun.
The Motley Crew spent a lot of time guessing, every day we would guess how many miles we had done from noon to noon, then near the end we would guess at what time we would hit a certain mileage mark, example, when would we hit 500 miles to go, etc. Once we had seen the first freighter we bet whether or not we would see another boat before we arrived. We actually saw 2 boats on the passage, on during the day and one at night. It gave us something to do.
We also saw the flare, of course, Bob spotted it and we all went up on deck in the middle of the night and hardened up the sails and turned into the wind and motor sailed for 4 hours towards where we thought the flare was.
Barry with his freshing baked loaf, he really is a multi-talented guy!
We called and called on the VHF and also listened on the ham radio emergency frequency. It was very difficult to know what to do when we didn’t see anything else and no answered our calls. We did report it, we used our sat. phone to call our buddy in Victoria who called the Coast Guard there and they called the Tahitian Coast Guard. When we spoke to the Tahitian Coast Guard (fortunately there was someone who could speak English there) he explained that they had broadcast a call and didn’t hear anything so they figured it was a false alarm. I sure hope so; I hate to think that we left someone that was in distress out there, we were a long way away from anywhere.
Looking back on it the passage was like a capsule of time, we were in our own little world. We didn’t know what was going on in the world, there was just the sun, the stars and the water. The boat moved beautifully in the trade winds, we rigged it up as a cutter and beam reached for 1500 miles. When the wind dropped we threw up the spinnaker and flew through the waves at up to 8 knots, mostly averaging 6.5 knots, WOW! From 1500 to 2500 miles the wind was on our aft quarter and we surfed down the swells on a broad reach. The last 500 miles we were sailing dead downwind, not as much fun, much harder to steer and quite uncomfortable with the rolling action. The main was getting beat up, slamming around, the bracket that holds the boom vang to the mast split so we had to take the rigid vang off and Barry rigged up a soft vang. The other big problem that we had is that our 5th crew member (we had 3 human crew, Otto, our auto pilot, and Wendy our wind vane), that would be Wendy decided that she was working too hard and gave up the ghost. Wendy, what a wench, she only worked for 3 days of the passage and then had a hissy fit and quite working, again it was stress that sheared some stainless steel. Those of you that sail will realize what that meant, we had to hand steer across the Pacific, I will admit that I called Otto into use occasionally, but Otto is a bit of a pig when it comes to power so the Captain did not want to put Otto to use very often and for very long.
We had a great time, my brother, whom I was a bit apprehensive about asking to come with us was a perfect gentleman the whole way. Bob and I have argued from the first days of our lives and both of us love to be right and want to have the last word.
I am getting a shower curtisy of the rain on our main.
Bob said that he made a pact with himself before he left Calgary, I am not sure what he promised himself but he was wonderful to have aboard. We could not have asked for a better crew member, always cheerful, always willing to help and did not mind being a butt for many of our jokes. I had thought I would rely on Barry to help offset the “Bob effect” but it turned out that I used Bob to offset the sometimes dictatorial nature of Captain Greybeard!!! There were thoughts of mutiny on occasion when the Captain would get up in the middle of the night and demand of the crew why the sail was flogging and banging around. When the crew wanted more speed and the Captain was erring on the side of caution, rumblings were heard. As we got closer and closer to where Captain Blythe got his come uppance, the crew understood why those on the Bounty mutinied!!
The island we have landed on Hiva Oa, is a gorgeous introduction to French Polynesia. There are the huge high peaks with clouds obscuring the top, last night it just poured from when we landed until about midnight. Today we walked into town; there are flowering shrubs everywhere, fruit trees with pamplemoose, mangos and papayas, coconut palm trees swaying in the fresh ocean breezes. When we got back to the boat a small German cruise ship was disembarking and there were Polynesians in traditional costumes, playing the drums and the conch. It was a wonderful welcome to the area.
I will write more news of the passage in a day or two. Bob has a ticket to Papeete, Tahiti tomorrow so will be there before Barb arrives. I am sure they will have a wonderful time there.

Hiva Oa, we have arrived.