First Mate's Log:
12-4-00 - These last few weeks we have been very busy attending to the "Teak Goddess". She has demanded that her varnish be freshened and that she should be polished and pampered. Hard to argue with her after 8000 miles of fast sailing.
We have somewhat appeased her and are now on our way to Nelson's Bay which is about 150 miles South of Coff's Harbor. Max Crafoord (former sail master for the Sydney to Hobart and the Trans Pac) flew in this morning from Nelson's Bay and we set sail a little after noon with should arrive around 10:00 am.
We had a wonderful stay in Coff's other than the fact that I developed a pretty bad chest cold and cough that I hope to leave in Coff's Harbor. It was a lovely little town with nice people and good food. The only complaint we had is that they had muzzi's (mosquitos) that found me rather tasty. Usually the bugs like Richard better but not in Coff's.
We certainly are/were a celebrity. It seems that everyone knew, sailed on or raced against ASTOR. If this is what it is like in Coff's Harbor we think Sydney will be overwhelming. Not 2 days after our arrival we were mentioned on the Sydney radio during an interview with an former crew member. We have had a very nice newspaper article with picture in the Coff's Harbor Advocate. Also, we were featured in the Tasmanian Newspaper with 2 pictures, one was of ASTOR under her gaff sails in 1948. WOW!!! I hope to get copies of these articles and send them your way for posting on the site.
Best from the entire crew,
11-17-00 - We are here in Coff's Harbor, Australia. We made it. It seems hard to believe our first real leg of cruising is over. We could not have landed at a lovelier spot. Peter Warner drove up to meet us - it was good to see him again. Coff's Harbor reminds us much of the Monterey area. The people are so friendly and ASTOR is quite a celebrity. We have already met a lot of people been treated to drinks each night. That never happened in Newport Beach. I love it.
We plan to stay here about a week. We hope to get some varnishing and polishing done. The slip rates are excellent. The US dollar is at an all time high! Hooooray! It is a great time to come for a visit.
11-15-00 - We are 30 miles out busily preparing for entry into Coff's Harbor and setting foot on the largest landmass since we left California back in June. It has been a while since we have seen land that stretches from horizon to horizon.
30.07 S / 153.41 E - Hdg 278° @ 9.7 Kts - wind from ENE @ 20 Kts
11-14-00 - We are nearing Australia and as I write this it says 183 miles out. We should be in Coff's Harbor tomorrow, Wednesday 11/15 afternoon. We are in touch with Peter Warner and the gang. We have had a wonderful sail on this leg - from New Caledonia. We have (knock on wood and there is plenty of that around) had a great weather window. We filled all tanks as we had planned to have light airs but it has been real nice from the southeast and now from the east.
We logged our fastest day ever on our second day out doing 234 miles in 24 hours.
I heard Todd & Ellen on the morning net the other day. They were checking the weather - perhaps they are ready to go. I heard on Russel Radio that Todd burned (and scared) himself while changing a florescent light bulb. He was asking advice. I don't know when we will hear from them.
It was hard when we left Tonga as most of our group is headed for New Zealand.
28.27 S / 156.42 E - Hdg 213° @ 8.9 Kts - wind from E @ 11 Kts
11-12-00 - A letter to friends:
We are making really good time. Last night we shortened sail and at 2:00 a.m. we were only going 5K. So tonight - based on what the seafarers net reported we decided to leave up the Advance fisherman. We have been going over 10+k my whole watch and believe me she feels much better than last night at 5K.
I am on watch its 6:30 pm we are doing 10.5 on a beam reach. We are 600 miles from Coff's Harbor. We have been doing 9 & 10's since we raised the advance fisherman at 6 am. We have a double reefed main, and the fore staysail. It is blowing 20 apparent. We have been away from New Caledonia for a day and half and life could not be better. Wish you were here!
We really enjoyed New Caledonia. Such a beautiful city. The prettiest one yet. Very European and the French were wonderful. They are much nicer and try to understand and help us. We were even at dock for 3 nights - wow. They had a Polynesia Art Festival which we happenend to arrive in time for. It would have been more enjoyable if we had not been to most of the places represented - but the dancing and singing was, of course, fabulous.
We were in New Caledonia for 2- 1/2 weeks the last few days waiting for a weather window. We moved around abit as we had a strong westerly set in for a few days. We ate out, shopped and Mariah and Daniel were able to get out for the night life. Oh, and of course we got some varnishing done (I even got some sewing done). We want to be looking good for the fellows in Australia. ASTOR has been a perfect delight - however, when checking in with the radio nets et all - they can't believe our speed. But once we meet up with them and they see the ole girl, then they understand.
We really loved Tonga. It was not that warm weather wise but everything else was. The people and the land were beautiful. Unfortunely, most of our cruising buddies have gone on to New Zealand. Only a few are off to Australia and they are spread out as some went to Fiji. We skipped it and after talking to the few that went there it was odd - with the political climate and no tourists.
11-11-00 - Excellent conditions are moving us right along! All are in fine spirits as we had another great day mostly at 10 Kts. Astor is performing very well, as is the crew. All guests have left, so that leaves us slightly short handed, compared to the last couple of crossings, but the four of us are all getting along so well that we should not have any problems. It just gives a little extra elbow room.
Radio conditions are not all that great tonight. Solar activity is high, and that makes it tough for a couple of days. We will do our best though.
24.15 S / 163.00 E - Hdg 234° @ 10 Kts - wind from ESE @ 20 Kts
11-10-00 - You probably got our position from PSF but just in case here is a 12:30 AM update (its my watch time). We finally left New Caledonia this morning at 9:30 AM - first good weather in a while. Our current position is lat. 23*09 S lon. 164*36 E at 13:40 Zulu.
Hope the radio is better tomorrow, almost could hear Ken today.
Best regards, Richard
11-8-00 - We have tried for days to reach you and the gang via radio, but have not been successful. We talked to the other hams and the consensus is that Port Moselle in New Caledonia is a radio hole. In here we can barely hear the Pacific Seafarers net on a good day and not at all some days. We are told that once we get away from the island reception should be good, so we hope that on our trip to Australia we will be able to talk.
We hope to leave here on Thursday or Friday for Coffs Harbor, Australia,weather permitting. The transit should take us 5 or 6 days as it is about 860 kt. miles long as the crow flies. Coffs is an easy land fall about 230 miles north of Sydney. We plan to spend about 2 weeks here getting ASTOR polished up for her trip into Sydney, wouldn't due to have her show up tatty from all her travels.
Best regards, Richard & the gang
10-31-00 - WebJanitor writes: Although we have not heard directly from the crew since they have landed, we have heard via relay that they were anchor down in Noomea. A few days ago we heard another boat chatting with them, but could not hear them direct. We suspect the harbor is affecting radio, or possibly they are having trouble getting proper permission from the logal government to transmit from their waters. The last plan heard was that they were going to stay in N.C. about 10 days then move on. We expect them to pop up on the air any day now. We are listening.
10-22-00 - By the time you read this, we will be at anchor. As we speak, we are rounding the bottom of New Caledonia and are about 20 miles out from the entrance to Noumea, New Caledonia.. We should make anchor right before nightfall, which is as planned. This last crossing has just been a textbook crossing. We have had a great trip surfing at 15 knots - 10-11 steady. Everybody is in excellent spirits.
22.46 S / 166.38 E - Hdg 320° @ 7.8 Kts - wind from E @ 20 Kts
10-21-00 - These excellent conditions and having the added help of Bill on board have brought us within a day of our next stop. If the winds remain, we should be at anchor and sipping cocktails this time tomorrow. The seas have come up to about 4 ft swells, but are not slowing us very much.
22.42 S / 169.47 E - Hdg 261° @ 9.2 Kts - wind from SE @ 15 Kts
10-19-00 - We have the fortune to have had the greatest sailing weather this leg. Most of the time we are managing 8 to 9 knots with a 1 to 2 ft rolling swell. During the day we ran the Asymetrical Spinnaker, but take it down at night. The wind even settles down at night. We have been making great time on this leg.
Our guest Bill Cole is having a wonderful time on board, but can't help going over to the helm and giving the autopilot a break by guiding the boat like he used to do it back in 1963. He did not have the luxury of a self guided boat, refridgeration, or even a shower back then. He claims the boat handles 'As well as it did before', while sporting a crooked smile. He has been at the helm for 3 and a half hours today!
21.41 S / 172.40 E - Hdg 253° @ 8.2 Kts - wind from ESE @ 15 Kts
10-17-00 - Yesterday we crossed the 180 degree line. We are physically on the backside of the world! Even though down here the official international date line was crossed before we reached Tonga. I guess the King of Tonga decided he wanted to be the first to experience the new day, so he had it moved. Now it takes a dogleg towards the east so he is on the same time zone and day as Fiji.
20.38 S / 179.55 E - Hdg 228° @ 8.0 Kts - wind from ENE @ 13 Kts
10-16-00 - Back out in open water. Full sails and moving along great in small seas. All is well and it feels good to get out again. Tonga will be missed though.
19.22 S / 177.10 W - Hdg 262° @ 9.2 Kts - wind from E @ 20 Kts
10-13-00 - Yes! it has been a while, but we finally have a chance to chat. The surrounding islands and kingdom of Tonga are truly the highlight of the trip. We have been spending the days exploring the surrounding little islands that have names that are very hard to pronounce, so instead, all of the cruisers out here refer to anchorages and their numbers. We spent today exploring little No 8 and 15 yesterday, but usually find our way back to one of the bigger and more protected anchorages in the Vavau group for the evening. Everything is so green here, with the occasional palm tree towering above the rest. Every day we have had fabulous snorkeling. We saw some lobster.
The Mandolin has caught up with us and we had them over for dinner the other night. Todd and Ellen are doing great. No sign of Freida the duck tho. Regretably, Rhys has left our voyages about a week ago, but now we are joined by Bill Cole, who sailed this very same vessel back in 1968. This is a bit of a walking history lesson, and through his eyes, I'm sure he is reliving those wonderful times. He will stay with us through our next passage.
Daniel and Mariah have been getting along just great. They have been busy updating and pulling various charts for the next crossing to New Caledonia. Richard has been getting the latest weatherfaxes and studying them for any hints of upcoming bad weather. We are all busily putting the ship back into 'sail mode'. We plan on picking up from here possibly Tuesday.
It's been great hearing from all of you as we get your messages, sorry we haven't been able to respond personally to all of them. The internet connection here is truly expensive and amazingly very busy. We will see if we can get some messages out at the next stop. Thanks for keeping in touch!
10-6-00 - (webjanitor writes) I heard Lani last night, just enough to get an "all OK" above the static band. Also heard was "Guests coming over for dinner shortly, got to go". I don't know if that means she is off preparing dinner or "white gloving" their majestic floating home. You decide...
Since radio comms have been a bit spotty from Tonga, I found a site that shows all about what the gang is in for as they explore the island group.
<< Click here to find out more about Tonga >> - Yes, Tonga has an official web page that sports all sorts of information including history, island facts, fun things to do, and even travel information should you want to go chasing after the Astor!
10-3-00 - Adventure Update. Outside contact has been a bit difficult. Radio conditions have not been good these last couple of days. Also, here in the wonderful world of Tonga, there is just so much to see and explore we find it difficult to get back to the radio in time for the daily check-in. Everybody is doing fine.
The Mandolin reports they are still on Niue. Bad weather sort of has them locked in. They are making the best of things tho they wish they were here.
Local news: It seems there was a gathering of fellow cruisers that got together and formed a radio upgrade testing session the other day. There are now 17 new General Class radio operators on the air from out here in Tonga. Listen for us all on the radio here in the next couple of days. One of the Beek boys (Balboa Island Ferry fame) turned up down here on his vessel "Condesa"(sp?). He is one of the upgraded Hams that will be using the radio more.
9-28-00 - This place has totally caught us off guard. Instead of being the dusty dirt-road, dried up sort of island, it is actually a tropical paridise. Tonga is gorgeous! The island is SOooo green and alive! Many of the trees are growing all the way to the waterline. We found and are sharing a fantastic anchorage with a couple of other really nice boats. We will probably find ourselves mixing later.
The boys are also having a great time. Last night they were out partying till 4:25am! I'm fairly sure we still haven't been told the whole story to the entire evening. Rhys and Daniel have been getting along truly great. Internet connection from here is going to be really tough. There is usually a very long wait, and very high rates. I am working on the paperwork for a Tonga Radio operator's ticket, but in the mean time I can freely operate till I get it. Even though we are in sort of a bad radio area, we managed to contact the 'California Gang' without much problem. We were also surprised when a small band opening came in and were able to say hi to N0KLQ in Minneapolis, MN!
Plans right now say that we will explore Tonga for about two weeks, then move on. A quick look out from here, out over the deck, tells me that we could do alot worse than this place. Excuse me... I have to go. A small island is on the other line waiting for me ...
9-26-00 - Now we are hook down in the VaVaU Group in Tonga. We have yet to get out and explore because it is currently cloudy and rainy.
We are in a great anchorage with another big Fife Sailboat named Kentra - lots of fun!!!
More later as we settle in.
9-24-00 - Our stay here on Niue has turned out a bit longer than planned. We have been waiting for a bit of wind to turn up and have been eyeing a weather system that may work for us. We are currently stowing, lashing, and making ready for sail for this evening. We estimate Tonga is about 30 hours away.
The last couple of days have been different. We have moved around to a better anchorage, and it has provided much better protection. We have had variable days of rain and sun while here, and the water is very clear. Almost every day, we have spotted a local(?) sea turtle swimming around the moorings in the 100 foot visability. The boys went ashore and rented a car and drove all over the island, exploring the caves and everything Niue has to offer. The markets are quite well stocked. I managed to pick up some lettuce for a much appreciated salad!
I heard the Mandolin on the radio. Ellen reports they have finally left Palmerston and are headed this way. They should not have a problem as there is now plenty of room in the harbor as most of the boats have now left. Curently, there are only about five other boats here.
Reports say that the next stop, Tonga, is sort of in a radio "black hole". There is probably so much local city interference that it makes it hard to hear. We will make the attempt at regular check-ins, but do not be surprised if we disappear off the air for a while. We will make contact via e-mail through a cafe when we find one.
Thanks for reading!
9-20-00 - Niue is a strange little island, with (just our opinion) not much for appealing attractions. Right now, the weather is gray, and the surrounding seas are rough. There is not much of a reef or cove protection, so it makes for a real rough and miserable anchorage. There are however, many caves here, which we are exploring on our visits to shore.
Rhys, who is quite the experienced seaman with hundreds of hours logged in races, is enjoying his first bluewater cruise. Along with the skills brought on with Daniel, it has been a pleasure under way knowing that not only things will be done, but many times they will be done automatically. These guys are like cruise-control. It makes for almost stress-free passage.
We will not stay here long. Just a quick stop for a look around and we will be off again to Tonga. If the right wind calls, it should be only a quick day sail away.
9-19-00 - Confirmed Anchor down on Niue. We circled around for a bit while we figured out this little island. We finally dropped and settled in around 0900 local time.
9-18-00 - 0330z [2030HrsPDT] (evening check in) Right now we are about 20 miles out. Timing is not all that great for now we have the wind to make it in a couple of hours, but that would put us in without light- which is not good. We have reduced sails and are targeting a landing in the next early morning. It will be a long night and the watch must remain alert. The traffic of the local boats could get busier as we get closer.
19.24 S / 169.20 W - Hdg 292° @ 6.5 Kts - wind @ 20 Kts
9-17-00 - Conditions are still a little poor for us cruisers today.Winds picked up a bit and has allowed us to run with the stay sails up, pushing us along at 5.3 knots.
Nothing all that exciting to report to our followers today. We have been doing alot of sleeping, cooking and reading. New passenger Rhys has been all over the boat about 1000 times! We are thinking of tying him up just so he will stay in one place for more than two minutes. He looks like he is enjoying himself alot.
If conditions are consistent, it looks like we should make destination in another 48 Hrs.
19.17 S / 166.52 W - Hdg 268° @ 5.3 Kts - wind @ 11 Kts
9-15-00 - We are now back out to sea again after spending a few days at Aitutaki. It was great seeing our friends Todd and Ellen on the Mandolin again. Both of our boats are now headed off to different islands. The Mandolin is going to visit Palmerston Atoll, while we are destined for Niue, bypassing Palmerston and making the estimated 4 day crossing in one jump.
Right now it is slow going. We are under power and making about 5kts against a 4kt headwind. Things are hopefully going to pick up here soon.
19.18 S / 162.04 W - Hdg 265° @ 4.8 Kts - wind @ 4 Kts
9-12-00 - Ellen surprised us all by secretly baking a birthday cake for Mariah and sneaking it over for her. It was a late party, but appreciated just the same.
9-11-00 - Finally, we are approaching Aitutaki Atoll. We are expecting to find a few of our fellow mariner friends here. We will stop for a bit, rest up for a day or two, watch the weather reports, and move on.
9-10-00 - Still out in rough seas ranging from 6 to 8 feet and cloudy skies, we could not quite manage to get together a cake for Mariah without making a total disaster out of the kitchen. Today is her 19th birthday, and it is a very different one indeed. We put a candle on top of a cracker and had a round of happy birthday just the same. We even had an encore via HF from Gordo just wording birthday wishes from California.
Mariah must return to school soon. She will surely have some stories and be the envy of all her classmates!
9-8-00 - The last few days have been spent working on various projects like inspecting and stitching up sails, varnishing wood, cleaning topside while we are getting the spotty little rain showers brought in by the strange weather system we are currently in. We are intensely studying the weather and getting reports from others in the area. It looks like we will be getting a good hit of wind for Saturday, so that's when we will most likely pick up and move on.
Our next real stop will be Tonga, which is a good 9 days of sail away. We will be going through the Cook island group, where we may or may not stop for a quick look around, but also be stopping in Niue, which is about 5 days out, along the way. We will be checking in with the Pacific Seaferers for nightly roll-call.
Our new passenger and guest, Rhys, has settled in and has been great with helping around the boat. The energy level is increasing a bit around here. We all seem to be getting anxious for the next hop. Bora Bora has been great, but it will be great to get out under sail again.
9-2-00 - We have been searching for the perfect spot to drop anchor here around Bora Bora. One night in front of the Bora Bora Hotel, another night in front of the Yacht Club.
We are getting several projects done while waiting for our next guest, to show up. We are installing a depth sounder on our dingy. We are expecting it to be shallow in Tonga. That way we can send someone in to scout the depth before going in to anchor. We will be using it later today as we expect to move from the Bora Bora Yacht Club to a quieter lagoon.
Oh - by the way, we no longer have Felix on board. It just did not work out. However, we have Rhys coming and Peter Warner after that. It will be a full boat once again. Besides Daniel is a "10". He is a hard act to follow as it seems that he has been sailing with us for years. He is happy (likes my cooking) and is a great sailor. Richard is enjoying having another guy on board to talk about "guy" things.
We have been getting alot of your mail, thank you very much everybody! Here, the connection is VERY expensive, so we may not be sending much out from here. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts.
8-29-00 - Time and a schedule has forced us to move on once again. Early this morning we picked up and made for Bora Bora. Good wind, clear weather and fair seas made for yet another great crossing. Daniel is working the boat just great, doing well and having a great time. New crewman Felix is fitting himself right in to the routines.
We arrived just at sunset and are now anchor down in a temporary space right in front of the Hotel Bora Bora. While exploring here, we will pick up a few supplies, and await the arrival of our new crewman, guest and good friend from NZ, Rhys Cole. He is scheduled to arrive Sept 6th.
We just missed our friends on the Mandolin. It appears Todd and Ellen left this morning for Aitutaki. Perhaps we will have a chance to catch up with them later.
8-26-00 - Still enjoying Huahini, but it has been a bit damp. Downright soaking wet actually, if you get caught in one of the many downpours that have been happening lately. This is the second day in a row we have had rain. Though we enjoy the freshness that the rain brings, and the shiny clean decks of the Astor after a quick rinsing, it has happened enough to be a bit of inconvenience. The kids were stuck on the island but just managed to find a quick roof to dodge under for a while until the squall let up enough to get back to the boat. The advantage of all this rain is that this is one of the most greenest of the islands that we have been to so far.
Our guests Shelly, Amy and Jason left yesterday. They seemed to have a great time. We also have a second crewman added to our tour. Felix says he will be with us till we make Australia. A bio and a story on how he came aboard will be forwarded shortly.
If conditions improve, we should be heading for Bora Bora on Monday. We will see on what the satellite shows us. We will be catching up with our next guests from there.
8-21-00 - Today we are on Huahini, which is a little island about 40 miles East of Bora Bora. It is another quiet little island that is mostly unspoiled and beautiful, but has just the right mix of civilization. The little jump from Moorea was made in beautiful weather and is what the whole cruizing experience is about!
We will probably anchor here for a day or two, then move on to Bora Bora, but the cruiser schedule is only written in the sand ya know! We found a real nice internet cafe here that is much easier to get to than the one on Tahiti, so some of you may be getting EMail.
Our new crewmember Daniel is such a great addition to the group as well as an excellent sailor. Shelly, Amy, and Jason are having the time of their lives just trying to get in as much as they can in the next few days as they are expected to leave soon. There has been non-stop snorkel activity everywhere we drop anchor, as well as exploring the islands for what they have to offer. Pictures will be posted soon. That's it for now, we have yet another appointment on the demanding schedule with the sunset!
8-15-00 - We finally managed to get away from Tahiti. It was a bit too much of a bustling port/city for us, although Mariah seemed to like it. She met alot of nice friends and liked to go out clubbing quite often. There was quite a bit of shopping that just had to be done, as well as the usual variety of tourist attractions and activities. I am getting to be quite the black pearl shopper.
Not only did we pick up some supplies and provisions in Papeete, but picked up a few more heads also. Joining Astor as additional crew is Daniel Geissmann. We sort of grabbed him off of one of the other boats that we ran into a while back in Rangiroa. We made plans to catch up with him once he was done with current duties and commitments and took him aboard as much appreciated help for a while.
Also now aboard are some guests that come to us all the way from the US. Our friend from back home, Shelly Zide, along with his daughter Amy and son Jason will be our
The crossing from Papeete to Moorea was a good one. We managed to fly the spinnaker which is a truly a grand sight. It was a quick trip given that we only had a 10 mile hop today. Moorea is definately a quieter island, although there are quite a few boats here. We will probably stay here for about four days before heading on to our next stop Huahine. We expect to be getting in some good snorkeling.