(read from the bottom up if you want to read them in order)
8-3-00 - Yesterday, after much regret, we pulled up anchor and waved fairwell to Rangiroa. The last few days we have been preparing, but not really wanting to go. Richard has not been feeling in top form, and the weather and winds have been questionable, so we chose to take a few more days. The morning tides cycled and that was our cue.
The evening check in with Gordon found us moving along quite well at close to 9 knots and on the run line. The seas were mild @ 3 foot, and we were watching the sun set in its Polynesian splendor. It was a very nice evening, but earlier, we did run through a few squalls, but that just washed everything down. We were overjoyed when we hooked up with a nice Dorado for dinner (breakfeast, lunch and dinner again too!). At 30 pounds we will be working out our loaner barbeque for the next few nights and eating like kings. And that's even with half of it stuffed into out freezer!
15.44 S / 148.26 W - Hdg 195° @ 8.7Kts
We made landfall early the next morning as predicted and must have been in record time. The Astor is sure performing well. Calling around to check in with a few friends found them quite surprised to see us so soon. For the crossing we even picked up one of Mariah's new friends from another boat. It is sure great to have her company on board. (more filled in here later)
Papeete, as it turns out, is one very busy port and we really have to watch what goes on around us. We probably won't spend much time here (maybe a day or two) before moving on. Next stop will probably be Moorea, which we can see from here. It is about 10 miles west from us and from what we can see through the binoculars, looks like a postcard!
7-28-00 - Just a bit of news for our land-based reader friends. I think we found it. Paradise, that is. We have totally fallen head over heels for this place! We have loved every minute of being here. So much, that we have delayed and adjusted our plans just to have extra time right here.
This is not really an island, it's an atoll. An atoll is a reef that totally circles a small cropping of coral based land in the middle. The reef ring is about 18 miles across, and 30 miles long. The island is not more than 1/2 mile wide and the elevation is not much more than 5 feet high!(just guessing- this is not the discovery channel). This circular reef acts as an amazing wave break which protects the coral island a bit and makes it very calm in the middle unless the wind comes up enough to make chop. The coral reef makes it dangerous and rough to cross unless done in the lull of high or low tides. If not planned, you are in for trouble!
There is not much other shelter given from the numerous palm trees that dominate the island and tower over everything else. The hut structures inhabited by the locals are built on stilts because they would otherwise be washed away every time there is a storm. The 20 foot palm trees are very picturesque and litter the ground with many coconuts.
Somehow, this system supports a small village enough to have a few needed items. We managed to find fuel here at about 95 cents per liter. We go in and hand off a few cans to one of the locals who returns later with them filled. Richard is now on deck transferring this to the Astor. Another run to shore should give us enough to make a comfortable crossing to Tahiti without worry if the wind dies.
Today we even went ashore and enjoyed a few burgers that made for a very tasty lunch. We are also enjoying more from our ships' stores by eating more of our canned goods. We hear that Aussie Port Authorities tend to confiscate (for whatever reason) all canned goods they find on new ships that come into their ports.
The biggest attraction here HAS to be the snorkeling! We have been in the water every day and it has been hard to get out every time. We frequently see the nasty sharks rays and eels, but seeing the abundant variety of colorful butterfly, angel, and hundreds of other tropical fish make it worth it. It's basically an aquarium right off our swim step. The first time I jumped off the boat, I was amazed. I was paddling around for hours and the whole gang had to yell at me for a while before I finally and reluctantly came in.
It is going to be very, very difficult to leave this place. Due to the nature of the winds, it makes it extremely difficult to come back once we head out southwest. We probably will not be back.
It looks like we will have to move on soon though.
Otherwise all is very well here.
7-19-00 - Today we managed to find a small internet cafe in town and log a bit of time getting off some email. For the check-in, we motored out a bit before making contact and worked out some details with our friend Shelly Zide. Shelly is hoping to meet up with us later on in the trip. More will be known about it tomorrow.
All of our new friends here have left the harbor for Tahiti. We will wait a few days and catch up with them if the weather holds out. There is also a festival in Tahiti that will end this weekend. After everybody leaves, we should be able to get in without problems. You know how we hate that rush-hour commuter traffic!
We will get back into town and Richard will see if he can rustle up some needed diesel fuel. The wind has not been very cooperative around these parts.
7-15-00 - We made landfall this morning, and the island looks GORGEOUS! Inside the reef it is almost spooky. We know we are still on the ocean, but the water is very flat and calm like a lake.
We plan to stay here for about a week and then move on to Tahiti.
7-14-00 - Conditions for sailing are not good at all. The seas are calm, but so too is the wind. We are still under power, and moving along at just over 6 kts. With the constant drone of the motor, this makes for a not-so peaceful trip. Current speed puts us into Rangiroa about 8:30am.
This evening, Byron called us from the radio station set up on exibit at the Orange County Fair. The signal was excellent, but he said it was a little hard to hear on his end due to the noise level in the building.
Nothing much else to report other than we are still all doing fine.
13.51 S / 146.09 W - Hdg 230° @ 6.1Kts wind @ 0 Kts
7-13-00 - When we started out we were making good with our excellent pace. Then suddenly the wind died. We are now moving very slow on the motor. This puts us into the Tuamotos sometime Saturday unless the wind picks up again.
Reports from the Mandolin gives us the reef crossing info we needed. Thanks Ellen! They have made it to their destination on Ahe Atoll without problems and supposedly have the whole place to themselves! No sign of their missing duck companion Freda tho. We would join them but this little outcropping on the map is a bit too shallow for Astor, and does not offer the protetion of a sheltered harbor that we need.
12.34 S / 144.04 W - Hdg 230° @ Kts ESE wind @ 0 Kts
7-11-00 - The last week has just been so packed and full of chores. We managed to get a loan of a BBQ, and have made good all repairs. We have stocked more food and have done some shopping in town. We found that a head of lettuce down here is only one dollar, which was a real pleasant surprise!
After spending some time in the port of Taiohae on Nuku Hiva, we rounded the little island to Anaho bay. There seems to be nice people everywhere we drop anchor. We have made so many friends here, and have bumped into some old ones. Several nights we have had gatherings onboard Astor that numbered up to 20!!!
Weather is very pleasant and warm, which sure beats that "June Gloom" I'm sure you are having back home.
We are now back in open waters and it is nice to get back out. We are all trying to get back into a routine. It is slightly different now that we are short a few hands, but we should be able to handle the next leg just fine. This should take 3-4 days.
Ellen and Todd on the Mandolin left here a few days ago and we are heading the same direction. Our path should take us first to the Ragiroa Atoll, but we are not sure it has the shelter for us to stop, so we might just head off to Papeete, Tahiti without a lengthly stop.
6-26-00 - Lani reported by landline from Nuku Hiva Monday nite:
This island is Heaven!!! Soft breezes, perfect temperature, good shopping and no bugs! Also says Darrel (one of the crew on the crossing from San Diego) will be leaving the Astor at this port. Thanks for all his help getting here! We will try the radio contact again later and possibly the conditions will be better.
6-21-00 [Wed] (am) - It was very difficult to get up for this morning's radio cantact. In order to report back to the guys back home we had to make this contact earlier that normal. We wanted to make sure we were still in international waters so we were still legal. Right now it is just barely starting to get light towards the East. The waters are a little choppy and 5ft, which pounds the boat a bit and it made it hard to get sleep last night. We are all looking forward to a sheltered harbor for a change. That won't be long from now, as the GPS reports that we are only 16 miles out. It is still dark, so when the sun comes up we should be able to see land for the first time in 21 days! Landfall should be in about four hours.
8.42 S / 139.47 W - Hdg 209° @ 5.2 Kts ESE wind @ 15Kts (3245 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
(pm) - (meanwhile- back in CA) A familiar bubbly voice crackles over the noise and skip that normally hisses from HF radio, comes 2 words...
"Copy that... At anchor. Good job! We're Clear"
6/20/00 [Tue] (am) - Excitement can be felt by the entire crew as we all know we are getting close. The wind has been treating us well, but too well. Our good speed would have put us into harbor in darkness, so we have now dropped our asymmetrical spinnaker and are only running on one main. This adjustment should put us in sometime tomorrow morning. It will be nice to wake up to a new view.
(pm) Outgoing message from Joe to Lea passed. We just have a short time to report position right now as a very large squall is about 2 minutes from hitting us. We are preparing to get a bit wet, but there is not much concern. The boys are up on deck with the bottle of shampoo and soap!
7.29 S / 138.09 W - Hdg 202° @ 6.3 Kts ESE wind @ 14Kts (3126 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
6/19/00 [Mon] - We can tell we are getting closer to civilization, as we are now passing various other boats and heavy ships. Due to this traffic, we decided not to try and rendevous with the Mandolin. We will definately make an effort to side tie with them later on one of the remote islands in the trip. It was fun traveling with them the last part of our journey and really enjoyed their company.
Depending on our speed tonight and tomorrow, we are projecting to make landfall some time late tomorrow(Wed) night. Since we do not want to navigate a new and strange harbor in darkness, we might be slowing down a bit so we will arrive at sunrise on Wednesday. The Mandolin, even though they are going to a different island, should be making landfall sometime Thursday.
There has been no further fish on the lines, but we probably have been traveling too fast again. The clouds have been looking a bit menacing in the distance, but they should not be a problem. Seas are rolling at 3 Ft with about 20% cloud cover.
Thanks again to all of you sending the E-mail. We have really enjoyed all of this unexpected attention. We are looking into ways to keeping in touch with all of you. It will be dependent on the services we find on the various islands when we get there.
5.30 S / 137.40 W - Hdg 205° @ 7.9 Kts E wind @ 15 Kts (2988 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
6/18/00 [Sun] - As of 1:20am PDT - Yes, there are officially five more "shellbacks" on board! We crossed the equator last night in the light of the moon and popped open the champagne and snapped a few pictures to celebrate. We were all a pretty tired crew having not quite caught up on our sleep from the past couple of days rough water, so it was a quick hoot and back to bed for most of us.
We may catch up with the Mandolin some time today, so we are trying the VHF radio to see if we can make a course correction. It would be fun.
6/17/00 [Sat] - We had a very fine day today. We made some excellent time and put some good miles in. The winds are finally coming at us from a direction more desirable, while the seas are still a bit large. We are preparing for the big crossing tonite as we are nearing the 0.00 line. We are taking bets as to who will be the one on watch at that time. I have a feeling everybody will be up anyway. Predicted time will be around midnight or 1 am. I think it will also be close to a full moon too!
Talking with Ellen finds them already past the zero line at some time around noon today and also making good speed towards the islands.
We were escorted by a large pod of black nosed dolphin today, and I can't honestly think of a better way for ol' King Neptune to throw a more beautiful send-off party for us.
The water has cooled down to 78° and I think it was one of the cooler days of the trip. We probably should enjoy this while we can.
Hi Daisy, We're doing well and wish you could be here to enjoy this with us. All our love.
0.38 N / 135.37 W - Hdg 183° @ 8.2 Kts E wind @ 15 Kts (2546 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
6/16/00 [Fri] - The water today is treating us much better. We are still fighting a 12 Knot headwind though. Still looking for the tradewinds that will take us straight into the islands. The steady sails are still up, but thinking of going to the mains here in a bit.
Managed to talk to Ellen on the Mandolin via 20 mtrs. Signal was great. She does not need the extra fuel at this time, and we are not sure we will meet up until we hit the islands. We will keep in touch.
The 20 Meter band was so good today we chatted with all sorts of people this afternoon. Tolman- aboard the vessel Sunset who was about 50 miles from Turtle bay, W6TAX - Bill in Sacramento, N3JF- Julian who was mobile in Irvine, but the highlight was speaking to about 70 kids currently attending a Ham class in Fountain Valley. It was great hearing from you all and answering your questions. Does this mean I have to send you all QSL cards? That's alot of stamp licking!
3.55 N / 134.22 W - Hdg 209° @ 7 Kts SW wind @ 12 Kts (2305 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
6/15/00 [Thu] - AM entry: We had a disturbed night. Not much sleep here. Still in the bad waters and making slow progress. It looks like we will not be able to repair the topping lift until we put in, but it's not a real problem. We are putting up the sails this morning and shut off the motor, but since we have the wind off the bow, this means we are going to have alot of tacking today! Slow going! Although we have 100% cloud cover, we can still see clear skies on the horizon. Spirits are still good.
AM Pos: 5.36 N / 131.50 W - Hdg 260° @ 4.3 Kts Wind is from 180° Seas are confused. (2128 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
PM Entry: We are slowly making progress but we are still battling 5 foot seas and a 20 knot headwind. Skies are still 60% covered but it is looking better in the distance. The rain has pretty much let up.The weatherfax shows it should not be much longer before we clear this bit of a system. I hope the water figures itself out too.
Thanks to all that are sending messages. We all enjoy hearing from you. Things are a little miserable and tense right now and it really does help. We will reply when things settle down and get back to comfortable levels.
Pos: 5.21 N / 132.34 W - Hdg 236° @ 7.7 Kts Headwind @ 20 Kts (2164 gull miles from Newport Beach, CA)
6/14/00 [Wed] - AM entry: Totally caught off guard, it appears we have entered the CZ (Convergence Zone) ahead of predictions. This is the area where several currents and winds come together and tend to form strange and unpredictable conditions for us mariners. For the first time this trip, we are confronted with miserable conditions, scattered showers, and rough, choppy waters. We are running two stay-sails to balance the Astor and currently running under power. It's going to be a rough one.
Sometime during the night we lost our topping lift, but we have a spare. Also, our BBQ appears to have been donated to the Northern Water Gods.
Pos: 6.00 N / 130.30 W - Hdg 192° @ 4.5 Kts Wind is chaotic and gusty but light, Seas are confused.
PM Entry: Today we have really discovered the zone of convergence.... the seas are from every direction, it's raining but we're getting through it all on the motor at the moment. Doing ok, we're in our bathing suits so we've all had a nice tropical shower! Using our stay sails only right now and Richard just remarked that the sky looks much lighter just ahead. Very soon we'll start getting ready for the crossing ceremony, hopefully in calmer seas so the champagne will stay with us!
Thanks to all who have sent email ....RB, Heather, Lea and Brian. We loved hearing from you.
6/13/00 [Tue] - Today we caught all sorts of fish including a small Mako shark that we returned to the water just to scare anyone foolish enough to jump in. Also caught a 10 pound tuna. Should be good munching tonite!!! Tans are getting pretty authentic looking! As of yesterday, we figure we are officially in the tropics....
We spotted a coconut floating by!!!!
Position this morning: 9 degrees 01 mins North, 130 degrees 00 West, doing 7.1 Knots.
6/12/00 [Mon] - Everyone is still having a great time. No fish to eat yet, but a few little ones that were tossed back in. Lani says they have been going so fast if the fish take the hook, they risk losing their little jaws!!! The booby birds are still along for the company. We left the spinnaker up all night to catch ALL of the breeze.
Question of the day: How did the Marquesas Is. get their name? or What does the name mean? Research will be done and the answer provided later.
Mariah is getting alot of reading done, Lani too. Had a small plumbing challenge but that was soon repaired. Thank goodness Richard can fix anything!!!
If all goes well, we could be at our destination by Sunday[maybe], which is Father's day.
Pos: 9.16 N / 128.26W - @ 8.2 Kts 25% cloudy.
6/11/00 [Sun] - Talked with Ellen again via Ham Radio. We discussed plans to possibly rendevous with them and share some fuel as Ellen may be needing some. She will let us know when we get within range. Had dolphin company again and have identified our bird companions as "masked boobie birds". I have no idea why they are so named.
Pos: 210.55 N / 123.35W - Hdg 245° @ 7.7 Kts Wind is light from NNE
6/10/00 [Sat] - Today we were joined by a flock of birds, but still no fish on the lines. Same lack of fish reported by another boat and new friend Ellen on the Mandolin who we met on the radio. The Mandolin is about 300 miles ahead, also moving towards the same group of islands, but a bit slower, so we will be catching them.
Water temp is currently 81°F but still no plans to jump in. Not even in the boatswain chair!
AM Pos: 12 .44 N / 121.01W - Hdg 157° @ 8.5 Kts Wind is ok, but the direction is a little less than ok.
As of 1600 Hrs [4:00 pm CDT] we put up the assymetrical spinnaker and we're moving right along. All is well. No fish yet(to our great disappointment). Getting quite warm, about 85 degrees! I guess we left the cool breezes of Newport way behind! Spoke with friend Barbara this afternon. She was on her boat in Avalon, Catalina Island. That was a delightful surprise.
PM Pos: 10.43 N / 124.39 W - Hdg 240° @ 9.5 Kts
6/9/00 [Fri] - Here is our revised daily distance made good 1000 hrs - 1000 Hrs:
Date N Miles
Sat 6/4 203.71
Sun 6/5 214.37
Mon 6/6 199.48
Tue 6/7 176.78
Wed 6/8 176.80
Looks like we are more than 1/3 of the way!!!
Had another bird for company most of the day. We don't know what it is, but it is definately not an albatross. Joe and Mariah were doing taped exercises on deck. The tans are doing very well. Lani is into her second book.
Pos: 14 deg 49 min N / 121.36W - Hdg 145° @ 7.2 Kts
6/8/00 [Thu] - We are all doing well and loving every minute. For some reason there was a slight hiccup with the generator which tripped a breaker and reset the bread maker. Looks like we will have bread bowls for clam chowder tonight. We managed to find the source of a really perculiar smell. It source was a rotting head of lettuce that went bad (under a crewmans bunk). The remainder of the food stores are holding up well.
Big treat today was sighting birds. Skimmers?? We were amazed that they would be this far out. Strange how we take the little things for granted.
We will try to make contact tonight, but with the upcoming solar flare, it may be tough getting through. Perhaps the solar activity will give us a bit of a show tonight given that it is very dark at night with only a quarter moon. Will report tomorrow. Wish you all could enjoy this with us.
Pos: 17 deg 58 min N / 122.09W - Hdg 152° @ 7.3 Kts Weather is fair, maybe a little cooler than yesterday but still gorgeous!!
6/7/00 [Wed] - Traveling along at mostly 9 knots, moving along nicely. Weather is great so far. Spectacular sunrise this morning. Having a ball!!! Switched our main contact frequency to 20 meters Ham band.
Pos: 21 deg 49 min N / 122.57W - Hdg xxx° @ 9 Kts Wind is ~14 Kts from NW
6/6/00 [Tue] - Today we passed a HUGE freighter carrying cars. As we got closer, the cargo ship hailed us on the VHF marine radio as "American Sailor". The captain claimed he saw us on radar as a little speck on the horizon and actually altered course (which cannot be an easy thing to do) so we would pass closer to each other and get a visual. The captain was very personable and entertaining as we chatted while we passed. He claimed he hasn't seen another boat in 18 days! Our Astor now feels a little smaller.
6/5/00 [Mon] - 21:00 hrs PDT Had some excitement yesterday. We hit a rogue wave, which shook us up a bit. We also managed to locate and hit a WHALE! This surprised both of us! With no apparent damage to either parties [and no lawyers present] we each continued on our ways. Later on in the day we were escorted by a very huge pod of excited dolphins. Having a great time, and feeling adventurous, I baked bread, which turned out fabulous and made the boat smell like a bakery. Everybody seems to be falling into a routine.
Pos: 25 deg 22 min N / 121.58W - Hdg 230° @ 9+ Kts Wind is 14 Kts from 350 - 100% cloud cover
6/4/00 [Sun] - 8:30 Hrs Feels good to be out. Seas are calm and wind is with us. If conditions hold steady, we expect a 200 mile day!!
Pos: 29 deg 43 min N, 118.23 W - Hdg 185 @ 8.5 Kts Wind is 14Kts from 295 - airtemp 65° F
6/3/00 [Sat] - We decided to set sail early this morning. Since we are a bit off schedule, we decided not to stop off in Catalina, but instead head off into open seas. We will report the position later once we get some water filled in behind us. We have all been looking forward to this trip.