From Nuku Hiva, and filled with as much locally grown produce as we could buy, we sailed 28nm to anchor at Baie de Vaiehu on the western side of Ua Pou. This anchorage is a little daunting with a swell lifting the boat beneath a cliff while the waves crash on the banks, but the anchor held and we had a comfortable night. There is no access to going ashore at this anchorage, perhaps if it’s very calm.

Baie de Vaiehu, Ua Pou

The following morning, the sky was clear, giving us a great view of the rugged peaks of the small island as we sailed south.

Ua Pou, Marquises

This was Friday 22nd April and the wind was blowing in from ESE. As much as we would’ve liked to visit Hiva Oa, the consistent ESE wind would not allow us to sail in that direction. Our destination was Makemo atoll and we had to reach there before Tuesday 26th when a huge blow was coming in from the south east. The distance is 480nm from Ua Pou so we had to plan our arrival into the atoll, as the passes can be turbulent and possibly dangerous if entered at the wrong time of the tide.

Blue Heeler sailed from Ua Pou at 4pm and in 10-15kn set an easy pace in perfect conditions to make sure we could enter Passe Arikitamiro on the low tide slack on Tuesday morning. A steady sail averaging 5.5kn had us arriving two hours before slack water so we waited outside with three other yachts; all arriving at the same time from different locations.

The tidal race outside the passe was fairly boisterous even in the calm conditions. We sat and watched as the outgoing current clashed with the ocean until conditions settled and the tide reversed. Blue Heeler took the lead and Wayne navigated our entry. We had 1kn against us and it wasn’t long before we had made it through and made our way around to the anchorage outside the small village of Pouheva. The Navionics charts were good and the channel markers were in place.

Makemo is one of the largest atolls in the Tuamotos, and Pouheva has a small population of around 600 people. The anchorage is filled with coral bommies so anchoring in sand is a feat, but we did find a sandy patch for our anchor to hook into.

That same day the wind began to pick up and would increase over the next three days. While there is a small reef and wharf to help temper the fetch of waves coming across the atoll (it is totally exposed to the south and south east), conditions did get a little wild over the next three days. Mostly, the wind was from ESE consistently blowing between 20-30kn, at times hitting 40kn. Our anchor held but there was no way we were going to leave our boat in these conditions on a dodgy coral bottom, particularly on a lee shore. Others did though…

Fishing dock, Pouheva

Once conditions settled, we could relax a little and headed ashore to check out the village of Pouheva. We made sure our anchor was okay and added a couple of floats to keep the chain from snagging the coral in the lighter winds.

Floats to keep the chain above the coral bommies

The village of Pouheva is tidy and the locals smiling and friendly. It is low-key – not ‘in your face’ boat boys or people flogging souvenirs like some islands in the Caribbean. As visitors, we respect their small village and try not to intrude on their daily lives. Walking around we are greeted with ‘la orana’ or ‘bonjour’ by children and adults walking or biking along. A couple of times we stumbled upon a couple of groups playing guitar and singing beautiful harmonies. Perfect.

Tidy streets of Pouheva

The streets are swept clean, and skinny dogs in various states of producing offspring roam for scraps, while a pleasant whiff of burning sandalwood fills the air.

After the recent storm, the swell is pumping so much that it has filled the atoll and the outflow of water from the atoll is running at around 4-5kn on the incoming flood tide. We watched as yachts attempted the rough passage into the atoll motoring at just enough speed to pass through; so much different to our unremarkable entry.

Makemo lighthouse
Peaceful after the blow

If you’re heading down this way, make sure to stock up well with fruit and veggies from Nuku Hiva. While the best supermarket in Pouheva is the Opareke Market, there’s a definite shortage of fresh produce. The market has a good variety of dry and canned goods, and some items are reasonably priced due to subsidies, while others are expensive. Eg: A packet of muesli was around A$15; potatoes around A$9/kg. Whereas a can of coconut milk was around A$2 and a packet of self-raising flour A$2 – coconut milk on pancakes for breakfast seem like the way to go!

Opareke Market – best in town

Fortunately, the supply ship came in during our stay so I managed to buy 2kg of potatoes, two cucumbers, bok choy, three packets of fresh ham, and a couple of other things for 4000FP, around A$55. Not cheap, but it was nice to have a fresh ham and cucumber sandwich. Unfortunately, it seemed the cucumbers must’ve been frozen or chilled, as they didn’t last long in my fridge and started to dissolve. Making the most of my dwindling stock of veggies, now is the time we start to work our way through the canned stuff I’ve been squirrelling away for the past year.

Supply ship
Supply ship

Across the bridge from the supermarket is an egg farm and I bought two dozen fresh eggs for 1000FP – about A$12.50. There is a boulangerie, but I make my own bread so we didn’t buy any from there. I bought a 2kg box of frozen chicken legs for around A$10 – they came up a treat on the Cobb BBQ. Wayne thought he’d hit the jackpot when he found Twisties – a clue we are getting closer to Australia!

From my reading, I understand the economy is supported by copra and pearl farming. Besides a College, Town Hall, Police Station, there’s a large undercover sports pavilion near the fishing boat dock to keep the kids happy. Many of the locals have reasonably new battery powered bicycles – a great way to get around the small village. Once the weather calmed down, teams of young people in outriggers paddled hard to beat the other teams, laughing and squealing as they sped by. Life seems idyllic here.

Post Office, Pouheva, Makemo Atoll

Pouheva has a small Post Office with an ATM and I bought another Vini SIM card and top up cards. Vini has 4G here so while hunkered down during the storm, we at least had access to internet. The ATM was a problem for me; two attempts at withdrawing money came up with a declined message and no money discharged, but it turns out my bank thought otherwise, deducted the second attempt from my account. The lady at the Post Office was super friendly and tried to help me (she also speaks English), but there’s not much she could do at this point, so I’ve left it with my bank to sort out.

We stayed on a few days more and snorkeled on the nearby reef and enjoyed the peace after the wild conditions; even got the Cobb out and cooked up some chicken pieces to share with the crew of Kismet who we invited over for supper.

Leaving Pouheva, we motor-sailed through the maze of bommies 16nm until we reached the motu of Punaruku. Navionics charts are okay and the Community Edits do identify some bommies, but eyeballing the bommies is the best way to navigate through the maze. I stayed at the bow for four hours as we made our way north, spotting bommies that weren’t marked and noting them on my iPhone Navionics app which I’ve added to the Community Edits. The depth was typically 20m .

Pouheva to Punaruku through the bommies

The next morning after a peaceful night and a tasty pizza cooked on the Cobb, we motor-sailed 9nm to the northern Passe, again keeping watch for bommies, and exited in calm conditions with 3kn of current spitting us out of the atoll. From here we planned an easy 80nm overnight sail to the south pass at Fakarava.

Pizza night at Punaruku
Eyeballing the bommies – you don’t want to run into these!

One of the world’s best diving places.

Until then…

Special thanks to SV Soggy Paws for the useful info on their blog. http://svsoggypaws.com/files/

Posted on by blueheelerhr39 | 4 Comments

It’s funny to think that only a few weeks ago we were making our way through the Panama Canal. Now we are sitting in French Polynesia some 4100nm west. Almost two weeks after our arrival, the 29 days offshore seem like a short and distant memory. That’s a good indicator that we had a successful passage. Along the way we saw whales, dolphins (plenty of), red-footed boobies, and all sorts of birdlife. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to haul a fish on board, but they were happy enough eating our lures!

Whales as we departed Panama

Red footed Boobies on passage

The first ten days were spent slowly sailing or barely motoring through the calms of the ITCZ – the Doldrums. That was fine as we have a small drifter spinnaker to keep us moving in the slightest breeze. As long as we were doing 3kn, we were happy enough to float along the current. Each day I’d update trip notes on our GPS Tracking link (see above right).


Crossing over the Equator (the fourth time for us ol’ shellbacks), we began our southerly pass of the Galapagos archipelago, then headed west before making our way to 4 degrees for a better angle and better current to sail direct to the Marquesas. By this time, we’d settled into our normal offshore routine – eating, sleeping, reading, sailing – and repeat each day until arrival. The days seemed to melt by.

The islands that make up the Marquesas archipelago lie in a SE-NW direction, with Nuku Hiva at the top of the chain. Pre-COVID, yachts could clear in at other islands, allowing sailors to sail the trade winds up the islands. Now, the only official place to clear in is at Nuku Hiva. This means that sailing south to the other islands will be a disappointing bash into SE winds, so many yachts are foregoing visiting islands south of Ua-Pou, which lies 26nm directly south of Nuku Hiva.

Arriving in the early morning at Nuku Hiva in the Marquises, the rugged high mountain tops over-looking the bay is a beautiful sight. Gybing in with reduced sails with 15kn on the beam, we furled the sails for the final time in over four weeks. The bay had at least fifty yachts anchored. During the week, this number changed daily as boats arrived and departed regularly. A fleet of Oyster boats kept our agent, Kevin at Nuku Hiva Yacht Services, busy. As their fleet dwindled, new arrivals of Outremer catamarans and the World Odyssey fleet filled up the anchorage, as well as individuals, solo sailors and a surprisingly large amount of family groups with kids. There’s always a rally of some sort passing through. We joined the South Pacific Posse at Panama – about 30 boats all leaving and arriving from different locations – and have since caught up with others on the same route as us. It’s a great way to meet people and even better when we have similar interests, such as hiking and diving.

Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva

Church, Nuku Hiva

We have a 90 day entry to French Polynesia, and anyone with a British passport can no longer stay for six months on European passports, and would need to obtain a long stay visa. BREXIT just keeps on giving…

As far as the boat, we had no dramas on this voyage, although we had an issue with our auto pilot. The Raymarine Type 1 has been unreliable on all our ocean voyages, so we are thankful our WindPilot has steered us over these passages. We carried spare drive gears and rotary ring which Wayne replaced on arrival and the autopilot was back to normal operation in a day. Wayne also spent some time re-programming and wiring to improve our Raymarine tiller pilot setup to work better with the WindPilot and added a remote control. This all seems to be working well too.

Fixing stuff in exotic places! Can you see Wayne?

The next thing to fail is our fridge. Of all the places for our fridge to die, the Pacific isn’t the best place. (Why didn’t it fail in the UK?). We thought it might be low on gas and fortunately Kevin could do a re-gas, although it didn’t really fix the problem. There’s something not right with it and it’s running too warm, but left alone it can keep things cool, but not icy cold. As long as it stays cool and we don’t fill it with meat, we’ll look at sorting this out once we get to a place with more convenient facilities.

Kevin from Nuku Hiva Yacht Services regassing our fridge

While Wayne busied himself with the electrical stuff around the auto-pilot, I busied myself washing the boat of thick salt that had accumulated from the voyage. Water is available from the fish dock, but it’s brackish and only suitable for rinsing the boat, or maybe some hand washing. As luck would have it, a huge downpour came that night and washed the places I couldn’t reach, rinsing the salt away from the teak deck. Once clean, I polished the stainless, removing rust stains where the salt had sat for days. Other typical jobs on arrival include laundry, organising a sim card for internet from Kevin and TopUp cards from the Post Office, then sitting at the local snack shop with free wifi to sift through loads of emails while we supped on a Hinano beer and downed a plate of hot fries.

You’d think that sailing offshore our hull would be nice and clean. For the most part it was, but on the starboard quarter, a thick band of Gooseneck barnacles had gathered, their sticky feet sticking to the gelcoat, but not the newly applied antifoul. These were scraped these off and the waterline tidied up.

Gooseneck barnacles only on the starboard quarter after 4000nm

Reading through our emails on arrival, there was one email from JRCC Tahiti (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre – responsible for coordinating aeronautical and maritime search and rescue operations in an area covering 12.5 million km2). Apparently about 24 hours out from arrival, a yacht was in distress and we were the closest boat. JRCC had only our regular email, not our offshore email or satphone number so couldn’t reach us offshore. Underway, we saw no vessel, and heard nothing on the radio so were unaware of the situation. Turns out, the septuagenarian captain had died from a heart attack, and his wife, in her 70s, in an obvious state of distress, was trying to sail under duress – a terribly sad and stressful situation for anyone. I guess the fact that she was so close to Nuku Hiva certainly helped with the rescue, and I doubt that we could have helped her much, except perhaps reassured her and maybe assisted with navigation – it’s hard to say, as conditions were 25kn with 2.5-3m seas. Very sad. We’ve since given the JRCC our correct offshore contact details.

Taiohae Bay can fit a hundred yachts, but unfortunately the fish dock can’t fit many dinghies. With a slight swell and a tide of around one metre, the concrete dock struggles to accommodate the many dinghies and yachties all vying for their chance to get ashore. One ladder is available so the best time is to arrive at high water, or early morning, making it easier to get on and off. Nuku Hiva Yacht Services, run by Kevin and his wife Annabella, is found under the yellow awning. He is run off his feet managing all the paperwork for arriving boats – his time is spread thin around the visiting yachts so patience is required. On VHF68 at 7.30am, there may be willing yachtie to run through some announcements.

With so many boats and so much rubbish, the local Municipal office requests that each boat pay a fee for access to water and garbage – FP1500 (around US$15) for one month. There are large rubbish bins a little way up from the dock, and turning left onto the road, and across into a carpark, there are large bins for plastics, cans and bottles (no paper). I think this fee is fair, after seeing so many garbage bags of rubbish being brought ashore by visiting yachts. It’s annoying to see boats arriving with plastic drink bottles in the garbage bags – you’d think that cruisers would be more considerate with keeping pollution down.

Near the fish dock is a Tourist Information office with a friendly lady; a hut presenting works and jewellery from local artists; and a fruit and veggie market. By mid morning most of the produce is limes, coconuts and bananas, but if you get there early you can pick up tomatoes, eggplant, bok choy, lettuce, cabbage, mangos, sweet potato. The supermarket up the road just beyond the bank also has regular supplies of freshly laid eggs and you can buy fresh baguettes. The supermarkets are well stocked with a good variety of products, and those marked with a red price label are subsidised so may be a little cheaper. The items are expensive, but considering where we are, that’s to be expected. The bank has an ATM so it’s easy to get some local Polynesian Francs.

As we motored conservatively since leaving Panama, we decided we had enough diesel to continue on to Tahiti but we did fill our unleaded jerries (sans plomb), as we need to run the Honda generator, our dive compressor and the outboard over the next couple of months. The cost was 134 Polynesian Francs per litre for unleaded.

Visitors can go on 4WD tours of the island, and the local guys were kept busy shuttling people around the island each day. Once we’d done our chores and had a look around, we decided to leave the bay and head west 5nm to Taioa Bay, known as Daniel’s Bay. This turned out to be a lovely spot, anchored in 9m with good holding on a mud bottom. Two other yachts were there, making it a peaceful change from the busy Taiohae Bay. The next morning we sailed to the small island of Ua Pou, 28nm directly south of Nuku Hiva. I think this is the first ‘day sail’ we’ve done in the last six months!

Taioa Bay aka Daniel’s Bay

From Ua Pou we are planning a 480nm sail to the atoll of Makemo.

Until then…

Drop us an email at BlueHeelerHR39(at)myiridium.net
Follow our progress here – https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV_BlueHeeler

Posted on by blueheelerhr39 | Leave a comment

We arrived one week ago, and I’ve been a little tardy in updating my blog (been busy doing the usual ‘new country arrival’ stuff). The last couple of days of sailing were bouncy and windy, but we had an early arrival at Taiohae Bay at the impressively rugged French Polynesian island of Nuku Hiva. Below are our trip stats; I’ll post more about the trip soon. Thanks for following our voyage!

Total distance: 4103nm
Nights offshore: 29
Fastest daily distance: 171nm (day 16)
Slowest daily distance: 91nm (day 7)
Average speed: 6kn
Engine hours propulsion: 48 (only in first nine days crossing doldrums) Engine hours energy/water making: 45
Fuel used: guessing between 130-160 litres
Highest wind speed: 26kn
Lowest wind speed: 0kn
Lures lost: One
Fish caught: Nil
Books read: Five
Mugs broken: One

If you want to contact is while offshore, you can email to blueheelerhr39(at)myiridium.net.
Follow our progress here – https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV_BlueHeeler

Posted on by blueheelerhr39 | Leave a comment

If you’ve been following our GPS tracking and reading our daily updates, you’ll know that we’ve sailed over 3000nm since leaving Panama. As we sail along the final 1000nm to reach French Polynesia, here are some more of my random thoughts from life offshore.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Progress
The last 1000nm took only six days to sail; unlike the first thousand which took around nine days due to its calmness as we crossed the ITCZ. Sailing in the low latitudes (between 3-5 south) allowed us to stay in the equatorial current and avoid a counter current south of us. Once we reached 117W, we altered course to head directly to our destination, again with favourable current and wind angles. We’ve managed to sail on a port tack for the last 2000nm at P100 to P120 – a more favourable angle than sailing winged out with easterly winds, which we may have encountered at latitude 9S. For the most part, seas have been less than 2m, although the last couple of days seas were up to 3m. The days were generally blue sky and fine, with no rain. Our ETA is either late on the 10th or the 11th of April.

This Weather4D screenshot from 31st March shows favourable currents at 4degSouth, while below us are light counter-currents. The extra boost helps the overall voyage.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Is there anybody out there?
Three weeks in and we’ve visually seen one yacht, and no other vessel. We haven’t seen anything on AIS for over a week. But I’m sure they are out there.
The day we clocked up 3000nm we were 1100nm from the Marquesas, and 2000nm from Galapagos – a long way from anywhere. Before sunrise, I saw a light on the horizon to the west. It was man made light, white and glowing, like that of a fishing vessel. No chance it was a dipping star as it stayed there until the sunlight washed it away. Anyway, I’ve got a pretty good idea how to identify stars, and fishing vessels, nowadays! Later that day, we heard unintelligible banter on the VHF, so somebody somewhere is out there.
We did pass a huge whale. He was heading east about 100m south of us. The only thing visible, the shape of his hulk under the water, and the spurting out of his blowhole. The only other life we see are flying fish and playful dolphins. The occasional squid lands on deck, but there’s not much life in those by the time we find them.

GPS Tracking allows us to see other boats; this one 350nm south of us took a different track to reach Marquesas.
He likely had wind directly from behind.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Sleep
My dictionary explains sleep as “A condition of body and mind that typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended”.
Out here, I can’t say our muscles are fully relaxed when we sleep, and our consciousness isn’t quite suspended. The opportunity for anything close to a luxurious deep sleep state will have to wait until we are at anchor.
When the sailing is rough and the boat rocks back and forth, the best way to sleep is to bury yourself in pillows, the body wedged close to the hull. I wear earplugs to block out annoying creaks and squeaks, and an eye mask to block out any light. More than once I’ve been laser-beamed awake by moonlight, or sunlight, penetrating through the hatch. Our ‘hot-bed’ is set up on the starboard side of the saloon, which works fine on this voyage as we’ve been on the one tack for twenty-something days.
Over that time, we’ve settled into a daily routine that goes something like this: I go down to read and sleep around 5pm, back up at 8.30pm; make hot chocolate, then Wayne goes down at 9pm, returns at 1am; then I go back down for a sleep, then I’m back up at 5am and Wayne goes down for a sleep until he wakes by 8am. Once he’s up we have a coffee and breakfast, then I go back down for a couple of hours. He might go down for a break, before I prepare the afternoon meal. That’s a loose schedule, but you get the idea. This is repeated day after day, after day.
With that routine, we can generally get eight hours sleep over 24 hours, although not all at once, and we spend the majority of the time on our own. A few hours during the middle of the day we chat about all sorts of things, including what our future plans are once we get to Australia.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Ship shape
Unless we are resting below, our time is spent in the cockpit. The boat down below stays tidy and we’ve had no dangerous missiles flying across the saloon as we stowed well before departure (except for the mugs, see Tracking update day 23).
Our head (bathroom) isn’t used much and has remained clean, as we are bathing each day on deck with cool seawater washes and freshwater rinses. The head can become quite dank when it’s always wet as we can’t open hatches to let the breeze in, so it’s good to have it remain dry for a month. Now and then I flush clean water through the shower pump and add disinfectant to freshen it up. Not much to say about the loo; we add cooking oil to the pump weekly to keep it operating smoothly. Other than that, it’s just a loo.
Outside, stainless steel has spots of rust where salt has built up and the deck has splotches of fish scales left behind by flying fish. Everything feels greasy due to the salty air and high humidity. Ropes are becoming stiff, and we’ve not had enough rain to wash the salt away.
Corners of cabins are in darkness, probably growing mildew. The remedy; the boat needs to be opened up and filled with sunlight and fresh air. Plenty to do once we arrive.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Provisions
There is a problem with our fridge. It’s not reaching a low temperature, and it’s running all the time and icing up very quickly. It’s been eleven years since we had it re-gassed and we can only assume it needs re-gassing. At present the contents are remaining cold, but it’s a problem that we hope to sort out in French Polynesia.
Otherwise our fresh food supply is doing very well. Into our third and final cabbage, carrot supply is good, still have six green apples, two green capsicum, and plenty of ripe Roma tomatoes. The eggs are on the edge, but I give them the sniff test before using them. So far so good. Still some chicken breasts in the small freezer, and other salamis, hams, and cheeses, including that tasteless Soylent Orange cheese. (I have a tasty quarter of Danish blue tucked away that I intend us to share with a glass of red upon arrival).
On this trip, for the first time on any voyage, I’ve not baked bread, nor have we eaten much rice, and no pasta. Sitting for hours each day isn’t helped by having to much starchy food, so we’ve had smaller meals of veggies with some meat, and the odd treat such as small chocolates, bickies, and corn chips when I make nachos. I have cooked pizza, so it’s not like we’ve gone full vegans – we’re only human!

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
The final thousand
Breaking through the thousand nautical mile mark does wonders for morale. The last thousand was sailed in six days, and at our current pace and forecast conditions, we hope to arrive by the 11th of April. At the time of posting this we have 940nm to go.
There are still plenty of things that could go wrong out here, so we continue to sail conservatively, not stressing the boat, or breaking anything through inattention or carelessness. It’s not over until it’s over…

Weather routing from 2nd April – go direct to Nuku Hiva

If you want to contact is while offshore, you can email to blueheelerhr39(at)myiridium.net.
Follow our progress here – https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV_BlueHeeler [end]

Posted on by blueheelerhr39 | Leave a comment

If you’ve been following our GPS tracking and reading our daily updates, you’ll know that we’ve sailed halfway, over 2000nm, since leaving Panama towards French Polynesia. Life on board is a little different to life on land. Here’s some more of my meandering thoughts as we sail across the Pacific…

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Progress
For the last 1000nm, we’ve had a 1kn+ current with us, giving us at least an extra 20nm a day boost. Over 30 days, that’s a good percentage of our trip.
We’ve passed the halfway point, and have less than 1900nm to our destination, Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas. The weather forecast for the next week looks good, with wind in the teens, and gusting into the twenties now and then.
Maintaining our speed and staying with the current should have us arriving close to 11th April.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
News and Current Affairs
We don’t have access to the plethora of news sites and social media apps out here that drown our modern world. But we can read the main stories and stay in touch with what’s going on.
Using the XWeb app and IridiumGo, we can access news headlines from the major news outlets – Reuters, BBC, CNN, ABC, etc – or any website we choose, in plain text format. It’s slow, but it works and a quick read of the headlines is good enough for an overview, or a click on the link will bring up the article.

Text only news accessible through our IridiumGo and XWeb app

I have dozens of podcasts to listen to (thanks to unlimited Tigo internet in Panama) from light hearted banter, to political and financial news, or a series of tales or interviews. One such podcast we enjoy is Wondery’s ‘British Scandals’. The witty hosts tell tales of scandalous events in British history – quite entertaining and amusing. Other podcasts from Wondery are just as interesting, though not as humorous, such as ‘American Scandals’ and ‘Against the Odds’. And then there’s the old favourites; ABC’s ‘Nightlife’, ‘Late Night Live’, and ‘Life Matters’, the BBC’s ‘History Hour’ and The Guardian’s ‘Long Read’. Just a few that we’ve been listening to for over ten years, and there so many more podcasts around nowadays to add to our listening collection.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Keeping busy
There is always something to do on a boat, but heeling over at 15 or 20 degrees doesn’t always make it ideal. Recently I had to defrost the fridge, which isn’t so easy head first into a top loading fridge while sailing along.
Skipper is always checking the boat’s performance – energy charging, water supply, sailing direction, navigation and so on. Between us we read a lot, tweak the sails, throw out a fishing lure, maybe some housework, maybe some clothes washing, prepare food, check the weather twice daily, attempt to reach any SSB a station (no luck yet), or just sit back and enjoy the ride. Between 5pm to 5am are the hours we generally do our watches. The rest of the day we stay awake, napping if we need to top up sleep.

Off-watch reading and napping

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Keeping fit
While I’ve always loved a good yoga session, when the boat is hurtling down waves, it’s not so easy holding a Warrior pose without falling over! On these extra long passages, daily stretching is a good idea, particularly the hips as you’ll be sitting down for at least 18 hours a day (laying down the other six hours). And when you are sitting, you’re probably sitting awkwardly (on a monohull at least). There’s no floor area to lay down on that isn’t at an angle, so to avoid sliding off into the ocean in the Downward Dog pose, any exercise that can be done standing up can probably be done fairly successfully. On a moving boat though, it’s not always easy to hold a pose for any length of time. Even when resting, your body is constantly moving, muscles tensing and releasing while you sleep as the boat rocks back and forth. At times you’ll be expected to have bursts of energy, usually when the proverbial hits the fan and you are called to action. Eating well helps too. Small meals, less processed food and loads of water. At least that’s my experience.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Speaking of food…
Halfway into our voyage and our fresh food is keeping up appearances. I’ve only opened one can, a small can of corn, and the rest has been veggies or meat from the fridge, plus some dried staples. Some of the produce I bought in Panama came in sachets (olives, mayonnaise, jam, spag sauce, etc) so we aren’t buried in empty tins and jars for recycling.

Spending a month offshore is a good opportunity to eat well. We don’t drink any alcohol while offshore (maybe a beer once and awhile), and don’t eat much, probably as we don’t expend energy, so not very hungry. We avoid processed foods, sugary snacks and too much caffeine, preferring to eat light, drink lots of water, and eat wholesome foods, which also keeps the hunger away.

But I do love cheese. Back in Panama, I couldn’t find any decent hard cheese, such as mature cheddar. Much of the cheese was the soft varieties; mozzarella, and so on. So I bought a block of labelled ‘American cheese’. I have no idea what it is made from. It has no taste, the texture is weird, it doesn’t melt, and it’s an unnatural shade of orange. I’ve dubbed it Soylent Orange. Fortunately I also bought some blocks of Edam…

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
Fishing
Only when the contents of our fridge is reduced do we attempt to fish. So, with our daily consumption slowly emptying the fridge, we’ve been trolling a line and lure hoping to catch something tasty to fill it up.
In Colon at the Abernathy fishing store, we bought a few Rapala lures, some trace and 175lb fishing line to compliment our pathetic tackle box. Maybe on this trip we can catch a fish or two, although neither of us are particularly adept at fishing so we’re not holding our breath.

___/)___/)___/)___/)___
The next two thousand…
With 2000nm ahead of us, we can’t be complacent. We are still a bloody long way from land, from other vessels, and safety. Anything can go wrong out here, and we do our best to keep the boat from breaking, keep ourselves healthy, give each other space, and try and anticipate problems before they occur. Since the COVID lockdowns, maybe now some of you might appreciate what it’s like to be cooped up with your partner for weeks on end. Nuff said!

Weather routing suggests to go up to 4 degrees South

If you want to contact is while offshore, you can email to blueheelerhr39(at)myiridium.net.
Follow our progress here – https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/SV_BlueHeeler [end]

Posted on by blueheelerhr39 | Leave a comment