Sunday, May 30, 2010

Captain Greybeard (as Trish calls him) at the helm near the beginning of the trip.

A flying fish that ended up on the deck, just to give you an idea of the size of them, aren't the wings huge??

This is all that is left of the Mexican dolls, that smashed Barry in the face during a particularly trying time.

This is our first sunrise over Fiji, it was wonderful to see it as we got closer to the pass that would allow us to enter the reef into protected Fijian water.

If you look closely you can see the frayed lower. Any more stress and it was likely to give out, good thing we noticed it, YIKES!!

Here is our tiny storm staysail. I am not sure this conveys how small the sail is but it is really tiny, this is all we had up to keep up from rolling while we motored and with it and the triple reefed main we made it throw the stormy weather, yeah storm staysail.

The boat looks like a Chinese Junk as we have strung everything up to dry out. Rather than clothes pins and risk losing stuff we string the line through the clothes.

This is the boat we saw at anchorage in Laukota, I thought the name was significant.

Barry took this picture at the Sunset Bar, the geckos are inside a light.

Sorry these aren't in the right order but this connection is weird so be happy there are pictures.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

We are really enjoying ourselves here. We are working hard on the boat, fixing all the stuff that broke on the way over. I have made mosquito nets for both the hatches and traded another cruiser a flag of country we are not going to for some more netting so will make a big cover for the companionway at the back. Barry is busy working on some electrical issues we have. When we went to drop the anchor our brand new windlass would not work, you would not believe how frustrating that was. When we found out it was just an electrical problem I was quite relieved, there is nothing wrong with the new winch, just electrical connections, whew!!
We have been hanging out with an interesting couple from Seattle, he is a retired cardiac surgeon and listening to his take on what is wrong with the US Health Care system last night was a real eye opener. His brother who also made the crossing with them, has his doctorate in Oceanography, so had very interesting stories about studying the ocean floor in nuclear submarines. They enjoyed our stories of sailing North of 60 and I think if we are ever in Yellowknife over the summer again we could convince them to visit.
Late in the afternoon, we call a halt to work and head over the resort that is about 400M away and take a dip in the pool. There was a wedding there yesterday and we peered out of the foliage and watched the bride cross the bridge to get married on an island. She was beautiful, Marg you would have enjoyed conducting this wedding, such an exotic setting, the bride was from the Cook Islands.
The rigger is coming on Monday to replace all 4 lowers, so technically we can leave after that. I am anxious to head out, so we can swim off the boat and find a spot with a bit more wind so that the boat might stay a bit cooler. Hopefully we can head off on Tues. I will try and load some pics later but our internet connection is not the greatest.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Well we got here. We put the anchor down in Lautoka, Fiji at 1345 or 1:45 PM on Wednesday, May 26,2010. It is really hot here, I have my swim suit on and I am sweating to beat the band, the water temperature is 24 degrees. Barry is at customs clearing in and I am impatiently wondering what is going on, only Captain's go ashore, I should have put on my Admiral's Hat and gone in. We spoke to friends on the VHF on the way in and another boat that left NZ at the same time of us invited us for beers at sunset, so our social life looks good.
After we clear in we hope to get to a marina tonight and then take it easy for the rest of the day. Tomorrow we need to find that rigger. I am glad this passage ended safely, that is the main thing. The boat sure showed what she could do in the weather and it was great that the wind vane did the majority of the steering, YEAH BOB!
Barry and I did pretty well on this passage, only a couple of yelling matches and they were really short! One night we were sailing along, the moonlight was shimmering off the water and I said to Barry that not many people get a chance to experience this, just the two of us out in the middle of the ocean, relaxing and enjoying each other's company while the boat glides silently along on the wind. It was a pretty fantastic moment.

Pictures later. We went shopping and are now cleaning up the boat. The marina is great, there is a pool in a resort next door so I am going to take a dip later. The rigger came by and it looks like we may be able to get the work done by Monday, today is Thursday, so we are really pleased by that. Ran into Dave on Toketie this afternoon, he is at the same spot so we are having him for dinner so must run.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ann sent this 2 hours ago.
We are inside the reef in Fiji, that sounds so exotic doesn't it? Fiji, anyway we are safe and sound heading towards customs. We hope to get in touch with the rigger ASAP and then get on with cruising. We are looking forward to a nice shower, doing some laundry and replenishing our supplies. We might even try out a Fijian beer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ann sen this 2 hours ago.....Well one of those storm cells that were battering us a couple of days ago put an end to our sailing. One of the wires that holds up the mast started to fray. Rather than try any number of fixes I suggested Barry wisely said that we would take down all sails and motor. This stops any stress on the mast and will prevent the mast from falling over all together. I prevailed upon him to leave up the little storm staysail for stability and we are motoring. It was about 200 miles to go when we started the motor.
The storm cells would hit the boat and we would go from 3.5 knots to 7 in a minute and we would be off to the races. At one point we were down to under 2 knots and the boat was wallowing around. I convinced Barry to roll out about 1/3 of the genoa and we picked up a bit of speed. When the wind came up again we were struggling to roll the genoa in. The sheets (the lines from the sail to the back of the boat) were flailing about, whipping the outside edge of the dodger, the sail was flogging itself to death. I had two 10 centimeter dolls from Mexico hanging very close together from the dodger at the door way, one male, one female. They were supposedly good luck charms, I was quite attached to them enjoying watching them dance together as the boat rolled and swayed. The dolls were flopping around smacking Barry in the face as he desperately tried to roll the sail in. He got really mad at them and ripped them off the dodger and threw them overboard. When I noticed it today I asked why he couldn't have just thrown them below. He said he figured they deserved a burial at sea, better them than me !!!
We are currently motoring in calm seas under sunny skies, temperature about 28. Life if good once again. I wish we could have sailed all the way it would have been nice to say that we used the motor only for a couple of hours for this trip as opposed to our 80 hours we used it on the way from Tonga to Fiji. Oh well as long as we get there safely and in one piece all will be well.
Here are the predictions on the arrival.
Person date time
Lois Grabke 5/27/2010 14:58:00
Bob Shanks 5/26/2010 16:54:00
Doreen Shanks 5/27/2010 11:49:00
Ann 5/28/2010 9:30:00
Barry 5/27/2010 9:00:00
Aaron Cameron 5/27/2010 14:15

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Ann phoned
They have decided to head for Lautoka and not Savusavu. It is 100 miles closer. They are under motor as one of the inner stays on the Port side - the forward one is fraying and the decision has been made to motor to Lautoka where it can be repaired.

We will ask that you make a new guess as to the arrival time.
Please get your new guesses in quickly to
3 hours ago
We are still surrounded by a cold front. Winds are high as are the waves, it rains off and on, we are wet as soon as we step into the cockpit, either with rain pelting down or doused by seawater as a wave breaks over the boat. We are running under our storm staysail and a triple reefed main, the least amount of sail we can have up without taking one of the sails down, we are currently making 5.5 knots but we are 100 degrees off course, time to tack. I will wait until Barry wakes up, no rush. It is warm though, I am pretty sure at 21 degrees 55 minutes south we have once again crossed the Tropic of Capricorn (I know I looked it up last year but I can't remember it's latitude). I just downloaded some grib files which give projected wind strength and direction. It looks like within 24 hours it should calm down and we should be able to make our course. With 209 nm to go to our first waypoint we should see land on Wed morning, our time. It will be nice to not be on our side, we should be able to cook something decent for a change.
It has been great having e-mail access on the boat via our ham radio. Being able to get weather information as well as report our position every day gives me a sense of security and of not quite being all alone.
The other night it was calm the boat was ghosting along under a half moon. The moonlight was bouncing off the waves and I went forward and sat on the deck and contemplated life. I wondered what I would do if Barry passed away, and what he would do if I wasn't around. Later on that morning I asked him. Just to show how we are on completely different frequencies, I was looking for a answer that would indicate what direction he would take with his life if I wasn't around. He looked at me and said, "I would cremate you." When I said, "No, I mean what would you do with the boat?" he replied well I wouldn't light it afire and set you adrift in it, when further pushed for a straight answer he replied, "Well I certainly would reef a lot sooner!!!!" Enough said.
Sent by Ann May 21 at 5:21 PM
Well, I think we have hit the SE trade winds, YIPPEE! The wind is at our back, finally, and we are flying the spinnaker, moseying along at about 5 knots. We have shorts and t-shirts on in the cockpit and life is good. Hopefully we will have a least a couple of days of this.
Just to clarify, time of arrival will be when we either tie up at a dock, a mooring ball or drop the anchor. We are headed for Savusavu which is about a days sail after we actually see land. The other choice was Suva and apparently it is not a great spot, quite dirty and a little rough so we opted to head for Savusavu. In order to generate some guesses out there I am going to throw in a t-shirt from Fiji for the winner. You can send me the size you want and the address you would like me to send it to and when I find an appropriate one I will put it in the mail. The winner will be the person that is closest to the time, it doesn't matter if you are over or under, an other hint is that we do not enter strange ports after dark. Okay I am going to send my guess into my brother today and the contest should close within 24 hours.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The last couple of days have been rather rough. The wind is on our nose, 2 nights ago we had thunder showers with lightening in the area. Barry's fancy new wind instruments measured 38 knots in a gust and then gave up the ghost so once again we are not sure exactly how bad it is out there. At the moment 0225 local time we have up a triple reefed main and the staysail and we are making 7 1/2 knots, just screaming along. Every once in awhile we hit a wave wrong and wham the boat slams down. This afternoon the slams jumped the anchor out of it's slot and Barry went up front to lash it down. What a treat that he feels he is able to get around when the boat is unstable. As I was watching him a huge wall of water reared it's head, it was at least 3 meters high, I yelled at him to hang on, the boat just plunged up and over the wave, he didn't even get wet. I wish I had a video camera handy, it was pretty impressive.
I report in every afternoon on a ham radio net, they record our position, course and speed as well as the weather. I told him that the barometer dropped 6 points in the last 3 hours. The front just went tearing through giving us these huge waves and wind, then the wind drops and you are left with the huge seas and the boat wallows and slams around. The seas did drop and the wind picked up again, thus the steady 7 1/2 knots.
We are managing to eat pretty well, although it is a challenge to cook at times. Today I made scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, lunch was non existent because that front was coming through, we had some orange juice, nuts and raisins. For supper I made chicken and garlic in a white pasta sauce over spaghetti. It was pretty good but I forgot the rule about what to put it on and as I was putting some Parmesan cheese on Barry's plate, the spaghetti sauce and all slid off the plate onto the counter. @#$@#$@!! Gotta use big bowls, no matter what you eat.
Hopefully the wind will move around tomorrow and we will find those nice SE trade winds. Not likely yet though, we are into the 20's now so the sea has warmed up a few degrees as have the air temp. We are close to the halfway point. Have you made your guess as to our arrival, all you sailors out there who say you read the blog are you guessing???

To see their position:

Send your guesses to Ann has requested we close the contest about 3 days before their projected arrival. That will be May 23 in North America May 24 in Fiji. Get your guesses in....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cat's-Paw IV left New Zealand for Fiji
The weather gave the crew the Heebi-Jeebi
The crew, though no rookies
Soon lost their cookies

They cleaned it all up with a squeegi

Well there is a wee bit of trouble on board. Bob is not happy, he has not been fed or had a rest since leaving New Zealand. He wasn't even offered the smallest bowl of Raison Bran and he has been steering 24/7 for over 72 hours. The Captain and the First Mate have been loafing, reading, getting weather faxes, preparing meals when they should have been hanging on to the wheel steering. They even left poor Bob out all alone in the pouring rain when the lightning was all around. What is with that?? Bob continues to soldier on, quietly, steadily steering north heading for the tropics. How long will he hang in there? What is your guess, when will Bob and the rest of the crew will make landfall. Fiji is +12 hours from Zulu, or UTC or Greenwhich Mean Time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 19 at 0149 Zulu or 1349 Local time. We are doing great, did 120 NM yesterday. It was a yukky night with rain squalls and wind shifts. We motored for about 3 hours because the wind dropped to nothing after we were under triple reef and staysail making 6.5 knots. Sunny and steady light winds today, making 4 knots still dead on the wind.
We are both feeling a lot better today. The wind is still on our nose. We went through a big squall about 4 hours ago in the middle of the night. We have a double reef in the main and we are making about 5 knots. Bob is doing a terrific job of steering. We are deliberately heading a bit east of the rhumb line, but also that is what the wind is allowing us to make. If you get your easting in them once you get closer you pick up the SE trade winds and it will push you towards Fiji and you will have a down wind run, rather than trying to go against the wind once you get close.

Ann has updated their location on:

We have one entry in our contest..... get yours in before the time you want is gone....

Monday, May 17, 2010

At Ann's request we will have a poll.
Guess the Date hour and minute Ann and Barry make landfall on Fiji.
The winner of course will get the same prize as with all Lange contests "Bragging Rights"
Send your entries to
You can also let me know if you want all the guesses posted or just the winner and time guessed. It will be local time in Fiji that you are guessing.
Sent by Ann 18 minutes ago. Editors comment here "Ann is back in true form"
Today is Monday the 17, we have been at sea for over 24 hours now. The first 24 were a bit rough. The seas were lumpy and both Barry and I got really seasick for the first time on Cat's-Paw IV. We both lost our cookies overboard, me first and then about 3 hours later Barry did it as well. I went to sleep afterwards and then felt a lot better once I got up. We did not eat much and had to remind ourselves to keep hydrated. After I was feeling better I asked Barry if he would like some eggs to eat and he practically gagged at the suggestion.
Today was a much different day. It was sunny and bright with light winds all day. We did put the spinnaker up in the morning, at Barry's suggestion I might add, but took it down a couple of hours later as there was not enough wind to keep it inflated. At the moment I am in the cockpit surrounded by darkness. There are millions of stars twinkling everywhere but then I look closer, in one section of the sky I can not see any stars, and a dark menacing presence is brooding. Then a brilliant flash of lightning rips across the sky, my night vision destroyed for a few seconds. The lightning is off in the distance so I am not too worried about it yet. I hear the gentle lapping of the ocean swell on our hull and feel the breeze on my cheeks. I am dressed in longjohns, sweats, merino wool socks,Crocks, my Icebreaker merino shirt I got for a really good deal in Yellowknife at the sports store and my floater jacket. It is still cool on watch at night.
About a half and hour ago a light appeared on the horizon. As it got closer I could distinguish that there were 2 white lights and one green one. Having read "How to avoid large ships" given to us by a pair of Yellowknife sailors before we left, I immediately turned on the radar and then woke Barry up to keep an eye on the radar down below as I kept my eyes pealed above decks. The large ship passed within 2 miles of us, going across our bow, we called on the VHF, but there was no reply. It makes you wonder if there is anyone on watch?????
I have decided to test out Icebreaker's claim that their gear does not smell even after you wear it for days on end. I am going to wear this shirt day and night until it gets too hot for it and see how it smells at the end of the trip!!!
Ahhh, the sweet sound of our new wind generator. What a good purchase, it goes all day and all night when there is wind. Do you know that yesterday it actually stopped a few times because the batteries were all topped off and we did not need anymore power, how sweet it that, WOW. BOB our new wind vane is steering away allowing me to do this while I am at the helm. Hang on a second while I scan a 360 to make sure there are now other large ships lurking out there waiting to make my heart go pitter patter. No freighters but those big ugly clouds aren't going away any time soon. All the other gear we have put on seems to be working just fine, the new wireless wind instruments are talking to each other faithfully putting out a picture of where the wind is coming from and the strength. I still stare up at the wind vane at the top of the mast to determine how to set the sails. The only other thing to report is, do you remember be going on about the straps that I sewed on the sail at the reefing points, that weren't ever going to come off. Well they are still on there but you will never believe it, I put one of the straps in the wrong spot, @#$!@ I will have to undo it and sew it up again as I do not have enough strapping to make another. ARRRGGH! I will sign off now, anyone interested in guessing when we will make landfall in Fiji, that sound so exotic doesn't it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If you go to this website you will find their current location.
Ann sent this 23 hours ago.
At sea, good winds, 20 knots just in the wrong direction, on the nose. Well I guess you can't have everything. We are both feeling at little nauseous. I have the next three hours off so will try and get some rest.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood, so we are going leave today. No use waiting another day, it is gorgeous and sunny and the weather looks decent for the next week so we are out of here. We have cleared NZ customs and are on our way. Check back for updates.

Friday, May 14, 2010

We are down at Marsden Cove, about 3 hours down the river from Whangarei, almost at the mouth of the river. This is where we have to sign out from. We put the sails up on the way down and the furler seems to be working fine and the main went up and down although we did not put in any reefs. The motor purred away, we had some work done on it and the mechanic diagnosed some electrical and lift pump problems so hopefully we will not experience any more heart stopping moments because the fantastic red machine decides not to work at a critical moment.
Well you can tell we are a little rusty. We had a SNAFU leaving the dock in Whangarei with Barry at the helm, it is hard to leave the dock when you still have one line tied up to it!!!!!!(that was my fault) Then when I was at the helm on arrival in Marsden Cove I hit a post and had to back out of a slipway that was too narrow for us, then when I finally made a decent landing on a dock Barry threw the bow line to a lady and she immediately fastened us hard to the dock and the bow plowed into the dock, man you would think we had never docked before. We should have thrown her the midship line and we would have been fine. After we hit the dock Barry threw her the line and she couldn't get it so the boat blew a 180, tied on at the bow, good thing there was enough room. Man, I hope we can remember how to anchor.
The weather looks like it should be good to leave on Monday, we have a few more boat projects to complete before then. I would upload a picture of Barry at the helm but the connection is really slow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We are planning on leaving the dock tomorrow, hurray!!!!! and heading up the river to where you can sign out of the country. We will sail around tomorrow and hopefully do a shakedown sail to make sure everything works. Then we hope to leave Monday morning. It should take us 10 to 11 days enroute, so that would mean we would not get to Fiji until about May 27, where has the month gone??
We had the new furler put on yesterday and we ran the sail up today. It fits just fine. I was a bit worried when we were hauling it up as it looked as if the sail was too long but it is fine, whew!!!
When we were putting it on Barry switched sides for the furler line. In order to do that he had to take the lifelines off in order to get the furler blocks over the stantions. Well he was going to move some stuff so he wouldn't trip and fall in and he went to lean on the lifeline and opps. He was in the drink. I was at the mast and heard a big splash and thought we had lost some hardware to do with the lifelines and then I said "Barry" and up he came and he was fine. He had a hard time hauling himself up on the dock, I went and got the ladder but he could not make it up, but with a hand from me he pulled himself out. He was very wet, but his hat stayed on, good old Tilley hats. I had 2 minds when he asked me to get the ladder, I was tempted to get the camera but took pity on him. He is fine!! It actually was quite funny.
I went grocery shopping, put the laundry on and now I am uptown running some last minute errands. We both are really excited to get out on the water again.

An old sailing friend from Yellowknife showed up at the boat yesterday. Kevin Quinn's parents live here so he visits regularly. We just missed him the last time he was here, it was nice to show off Cat's-Paw IV to a Yellowknife sailor and we had a wonderful visit and a buddy that was with him treated us to a great sushi lunch. Make sure you say thank you to Allan from us, Kevin, I think I forgot yesterday. We also used Kevin's car to fill up our diesel cans so all is good.
I hope to get my brother to post some blogs from the boat so you can follow our journey. Fiji sounds so exotic, I can't wait.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Here is our latest upgrade. It is our new wind generator. We had the pole made and Barry installed the generator on the pole and strung the wires. The wires had to go down the inside of the pole, through the hull and then through the dungeon, which involved me rolling around in the dirty space at the bottom of the back of the boat to string the wires forward. Then we got an electrician to wire it to our system. It is quite crappy out today so there is no sun so our solar panels are not putting out any power but now our new wind generator is humming away and the power is flowing. It is not very noisy and there is no vibration through the boat so I think we did a good job of installing it.
Yesterday we finished the installation of "Bob" our new wind vane, which will steer the boat without using any power. We had to fix the lines, which one again involved drilling holes in the hull to put a block on, so the lines could be lead to the steering wheel. I also sewed another line on so it is ready to go.
We have got the boom back on, the reefing system has been simplified and seems to work quite well. I had to sew some straps on at the mast so we can hook the reef cringles at the mast into the hook on the gooseneck. That is getting technical, but I had to put two stainless steel doughnuts, one on each side of the sail and sew strapping together so the doughnuts hang on either side of the sail, ready to be hooked on when we want to. Believe me I really sewed those suckers. There is no way they are ever coming undone. First I did a back stitch across the ends, then I did an x stitch in the same direction. Then I sewed a back stitch down each side and down the middle, so if that sewing ever comes undone I will be amazed. The new reefing system can not all be done from the cockpit as before, it requires someone to go to the mast and hook on a doughnut once the sail has been lowered. Hopefully it will not be me all the time, but possibly!!
We are hunkered down inside, reading, embroidering, doing computer stuff, playing games online, and resting. It is pouring outside, so hopefully the water use ban will be lifted and I can give the boat a good scrub one of these days.
Last night we were invited to an acquaintance house and attended a lovely dinner party. Another cruiser gave us a ride and it was nice to see a Kiwi home and have pleasant conversation.
The other thing is that I found out that the ham radio is transmitting. I called someone the other day and they could actually here me so I was really pleased. That will be fantastic when we are on passage to be able to communicate with people.
I wish all of the Mother's out there a happy day. May your children be in touch with you today and may you share some special time together.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Things are moving along, not as quickly as I would like but moving none the less. We have a new windlass, or should I say A NEW WINDLASS. This particular piece of equipment sits at the front of you boat and hauls up the anchor. Our old one still worked but it was getting warn and Barry would have to slave away resetting the chain in the windlass about every 5 meters. It was a real pain. The new one has an up and a down function on it so when we are setting anchor we can wheel out the anchor instead of just letting it go and then taking your life in your hands as we slowed the chain down. This should add immeasurably to our comfort when at anchor.

If you examine the above photo most of you should be able to spot something that is not quite right. There is no boom on the boat. The rigger showed up last week and said yes we needed to change the forestay because it has a kink and the problems we were having with our reefing system could only be solved if we removed the boom and he took it to the shop. So off it came. Poor old Cat's-Paw IV looks pretty sad without her boom. Barry has been madly trying to get the furler apart so the rigger can tell what forestay connection is like. I winced every time he hammered at the thing to try and get it off, he came in the boat declaring that it was fused and he couldn't get it off. GOOD THING, the rigger showed up this morning and said that it was welded and it wasn't meant to be taken apart, whew, another disaster avoided. The boss rigger showed up today and heavens to betsy he knew our good friends the Cloughleys and one of their friends that I had met in Nova Scotia when I was there many years ago. Anyway he took a look at our forestay and said the thought it was undersized for the size of our boat. Well no big deal you think, just buy bigger wire. Well, you're wrong, it is a b o a t (bring on another thousand), if we get bigger wire (which we should) we have to get a bigger furler because the one we have won't fit bigger wire. Sometimes I think we are just hemorrhaging money, but the positive way to look at it is that the boat will be in better shape than when we left Canada and should be in good shape for awhile.
On the positive side, as well, we have our fancy new wireless wind instruments, installed and working. The ham radio seems to be receiving very well, I had some good luck and managed to install all the software to run it and the radio e-mail on the computer and it seems to work. We haven't actually talked to anyone yet so I am not convinced it is working 100% but we can hear, so we must have done something right. Barry is working on the wind generator and the boom came back today and we managed to put it back on with only slight detours. The reefing system has been simplified and should work very well. We should be able to leave some time next week. It is getting cooler, we turned on the furnace yesterday and most of the other boats have departed. It is very hard to see your chums leave when you know that the weather is good and it is time to go. Oh well, our turn will come pretty soon.