2008  Captain's Log


Nov 3, 2008

Captain's Log #12

Short cruise

Well we started late and ended early. Due to “home stuff” have been trying to get home for 3 weeks. Weather has not been our friend.  Martha has said that I have not been easy to live with since the decision was made to head home, and we have been unable to get there. Tomorrow “special blend” is to be put on the “hard”, we drive to the airport and fly out on Thursday Nov. 6th. 24 hours later we land in Orlando on Thursday Nov 6th, somethings will  always be beyond my understanding.
Our plans next year will start out here in Australia, and then we will sail back to Vanuatu. The volcano on Tanna must be seen again, and my “kava brothers” made me promise to return to the village for a  big “coming home” ceremony.
Chief Allen of Pentacost is expecting school supplies, and his wife sets a great table, reminds me Southern cooking with a twist.
Chief Bob of Dixon reef area is having the grand opening of a new “kustom dance” building and wants  Martha and I there for grand opening. We may be asked to join in. There are a few fish on the reef that didn’t  get their picture taken, and Hikip and his wife will need new t’s by then.
Asanvari has Marlin and wahoo that haven’t been caught.
We didn’t get to the Banks group of islands, I’ve heard they are best part on Vanuatu. And they are right next to Solomon Islands where Kennedy and PT109 made history.
So many places and so little time,  Thanks for staying with us during this year of frustrations and discoveries. For us the discoveries were “the best yet”, just too short.
In May of 09 we expect to be back in Australia looking for kangaroos.

Jim


Sept 26, 2008

Captain's Log # 11

Snorkel Queen

Martha grew-up around water in Central Florida, but never was in salt water until early 70’s when I had to lead her by the hand as we snorkeled around Memory Rock in the Bahamas’.  She spiting and sputtering as she sucked in more salt water then air, sure a shark would get her at anytime.

In the early years in the Florida Keys she would spend a few minutes in the water if it was very clear and all the stars were in alignment.

In more recent years she had become quite adventuresome and pushed for her time on the water sled we used for hunting lobster.  She had even got quite good at catching lobster, holding her breath longer and diving deeper.

Then she got the underwater camera.

 At the age that most of her contemporaries are slowing down, Martha has taken on a mission to photograph every fish in the South Pacific. She even had to get a second camera battery so she could reload and keep shooting.  She was storing the pics on “memory sticks” until the shoebox got full, and then she bought a hard drive that would hold the Library of Congress. I have a great tan from sitting in the dink waiting on her to get “one more shot”, friends will not take her out anymore because they can’t get her to get out of the water either.

All the ladies now come to Martha for advice on camera selection, photo technique, and snorkel gear.

Yesterday she complained that her diving gloves were worn out. She uses the gloves to protect her hands while she holds herself down on the rocky reefs while she waits to ambush some unsuspecting clown fish.

Today completed the metamorphosis, I was setting in the dink waiting on Martha to take “just one more picture”, when suddenly she quickly swims to the dink, loads up like a seal hitting the platform at Seaworld, eyes wild, “big shark, white tip” she says, big grin, “got his picture”!!!!!!

Jim


Sept 10, 2008

Captains's Log # 10

Fishermen’ luck

We were in Asanvari, Island of Maewo, Vanuau, we had come for the cold beer at the yacht club and resort.  As an added bonus we could order meals at the yacht club. After 2 weeks of natives in thatch huts and stores that only sold sugar, rice, and canned meats, this really sounded good. Wrong. The chief used the yacht club as his meeting place, he and other tribe members had moved into the resort, not a beer to be had, cold or otherwise. The chief said his son was a chef and could cook dinner for us. That sounded good until we saw the kitchen.

As a group we were also out of fish, no-one had caught anything last 2 or 3 passages. Kip and I decided to go offshore trolling in the dink, Tom said he was going to rest.

About 1 hour later and maybe ½ mile off shore, but still in the protection of the cove, I had a strike, a large marlin cleared the water and started tail walking, jumping, spinning and gray hounding. Best show I have ever seen, and really awesome when he is bigger than the boat. After 15 or 20 minutes he was still on and we began to wonder, what next? Maybe with the flying gaff we would have a chance?? How to get it?? We started leading the fish toward home, after about a ¼ mile we could plainly see boats and could see Tom and Suzie in their dink. Kip took off his shirt and waved it, Tom headed our way. This is looking good, like leading your dog home.
As Tom pulls up the line goes slack, Tom asks what we want, we tell him we had a marlin, he says “right”, we say “really, he just got off”. “Right” says tom, “a Marlin”.  I’m continuing to reel in line as I say “Yes Tom, we had a Marlin on, but the hook pulled as you came up”. At that time I see a flash and some strips at the lure I’m reeling in and I shout “Wahoo” as the line peels from the reel. Tom says “I thought you said Marlin”? This was really getting confusing and moving fast.

Now a Marlin in a dink is waaaaaay out, but a 50# Wahoo in a blow up boat ain’t no picnic. Kip gaffed the fish, then put a rope on his tail so we could hold him on the outside of the dink until we felt he was really really dead. Then we put him in the dink, still being careful of toes and other appendages.

Kip and I took the Wahoo to Special Blend to filet, Tom ran off to get his rod. Before we finished with our Wahoo, Tom came racing in grinning. He had what looked the twin of ours. He got it in by himself with no gaff. Somehow Tom and blow up boat survived.

Upon careful examination, the Captain of the boat we were on determined that my Wahoo was ever so slightly larger than Toms’.

The really lucky part was that the 300#+ Marlin got off before we got the flying gaff.
Jim










Sept 1, 2008

Captain's Log # 9

Guess who’s coming to dinner

We had grown quite fond of Patrick and his family in just a few short days. I think we were like part of the Brotherhood of Kava, bonded forever in village folk lure. We were leaving in a day or two and so Patrick had selected a young pig and wanted to cook it for us as a sendoff. Quite frankly the roasted pig served with various root crops that have been boiled, baked, chopped, grated, and mashed and then mixed with coconut milk, was getting a little old. The flies, dirt floor, setting on mats, eating with hands, and drinking water out of a bucket are way overrated also. So as not to create a social blunder and an International incident, I thought best to invite the whole family along with Tom and Suzie to lunch on Special Blend.

I thought it was going quite well, Tom, Patrick, and I spent most of the time having kava bonded man-talk in the pilot house.  Martha and Susie entertained Nellie and the three kids in the salon. Then suddenly fleet movement in the salon, door opening and slamming, and familiar sounds from the stern. The lunch date was over.

Here is the way it sorted out;
Nellie, who had never been on a boat before, ate a lot, and all of it and breakfast came up quickly. Martha anticipated most of the event and sprinted her out the door so that a considerable portion went overboard.

3 kids who maybe have never seen a fork before, had spread rice over a whole boat in a New York second.

A three year old with a runny nose and a pork chop can cover a salon, couches, chairs, pillows and carpets with copious amounts of green snot and grease in very short period of time.

Needless to say the Admiral has revoked my authority to invite friends into my home, I think I will wait a while before I challenge the decision. 
 
Jim


Aug 29, 2008

Captain's Log #8

Imagine!!

Martha has gone to Auckland to have a eye problem checked out, so I am batchin. Another cruiser was talking about how his wife was back in the States so he was going to check on crew to help him get to Australia. Got me thinking that if Martha’s eye problem kept her away I would need a crew and I might as well start checking out what was available. There is a bulletin board at Yacht World (Yes Central  Florida there is a World in Vanuatu) so I eased over a jot down a few prospects and get a head start the interview process.

  • Need crew position to anywhere outside of Vanuatu. Over 30,000 miles logged in all types of boats. Pleasant personality, can cook, no serious diseases, can leave anytime. Canadian passport. Female age 27, call cindy 34 56 4456.
  • Female 23 non smoker, Swedish passport, can sail, stand watch, cook and hard worker.  need to be in Australia by November. Check for Dora at Harrys Bar and Bait.
  • Aussie needs crew position back home, Female 38, Very experienced with lots of Miles. Can handle most sailing rigs, good in kitchen and on deck. Hard worker with no bad habits.  Check with “Sun Chaser” Mooring 34 for Sara.

Well, Harrys place was next door so why not start there. Eased up to the bar and this long haired blond with a knock out figure and very low cut top immediately comes over to take my order, I ask if she is Dora and she said yes in a Swedish accent.  I told her I had seen her notice for crew position and that I quite possibly might be looking for crew and did she have time to talk a few minutes. She said she had plenty of time, but English not so good. I explained that my wife might not be able to make the trip and that I was just trying to get a heads up on crew. Dora explained that she had sailed here with her boyfriend from Sweden, they had a fight so she left the boat, had only the clothes that she was wearing and a two bikinis in her hand bag. She had friends in Brisbane but had to find a way there. Of course she wanted to know what kind of sailboat, I told her it was a motor boat, I’m not sure she understood it didn’t have sails, because she kept saying that all the sails and things made it hard to get a good tan on her boyfriend’s boat. She did ask if I minded topless sunbathing and I of course said no problem. Her other hobby is cooking and she was very excited when I described the kitchen and stove. Dora wanted to come out and see the boat, but told her that it was premature.  I said I would drop back by in a couple of days if I was going to be forced into getting a crew.

I really didn’t see any reason for further interviews. Maybe she could help Martha with the cooking?

Jim




Aug 17, 2008

Captain's Log #7

Scared

Yasur is the world’s most active volcano. There are few places that would allow visitors to stand on the top edge of the cone and look into such a cauldron of fire and molten rock. I guess Vanuatu just doesn’t have any lawyers yet. If it was in New Zealand you would be able to bungy jump into it, they have some kind of limiting liability law. The United States Park Service would not allow anyone within 10 miles of the place.

Night viewing is the most dramatic. Visitors are actually forced to climb the last couple hundred yards up the steep incline, our “taxi”, a Nissan 4x4 with no springs had already negotiated slopes worse than the climb. I think it had to do with the value of the truck. The climb was rather humiliating. I have had an ongoing problem with the hip on my right hind leg, so I was taking it easy on the climb. As I was standing beside the path gasping, a guide helped an 80 year old woman past me. I did beat her to the rim, barely.

The guides told us to stand facing the eruptions and watch for glowing boulders and rocks. He warned us not to run, but to stand so as to dodge left or right as needed. I wondered if this was “theory” or if had been “field tested”??? A lot of big rocks and boulders littered the rim and they didn’t roll up there.

The roar is like Jurassic Park, the movie, X100. It starts with a trembling of the ground and moves into your body and becomes sound with-in as well as out, similar to setting next to a low rider at a traffic light with Hip Hop blaring. Then the visual takes over. Red rocks, lava, sparks, and fire spew with increasing sound and fury hundreds of feet in the air. This takes place as visitors are standing about 6 feet from the edge, close enough to see the floor with all the bubbling stuff; all the time, staying on the balls of their feet so as to dodge the big stuff, if it should come their way.  In Florida we have observed the forces of nature up close and personal, but this display of sound and visual stimulation blew away anything I have ever witnessed.

There were probably 25 or 30 people on the rim watching, everyone a little jumpy. I decided to move over near where Tom and Susie were. As I approached from the rear, with the right leg dragging, I didn’t see the small boulder. My right leg/foot hit the rock; I pitched forward into the guy on Tom’s right. I grabbed him on both shoulders to steady myself and to keep from knocking him forward. That man knows scared. It was dark; I hope they don’t ever find this blog.

jim




Aug 11, 2008

Captain's Log #6

Toms Kava Ceremony

Normally I wouldn’t write a captains log on the day of arrival into a new island group, especially one with such a unique heritage as Vanuatu. One part of a day and I’m in love with the country and people, the volcano that is spewing black smoke and ash over the harbor is real and makes rumbles during the day. Anyway getting way ahead of myself.

This true story happened today between anchoring and pig roast tonight, and I’m afraid if I don’t tell it now I may not feel up to it anytime in the near future.
Tom of Tom and Susie of sailing vessel “Priscilla” fame announced soon after out arrival that we were invited to a kava ceremony. Now kava drinking is big thing throughout the South Pacific. All the guide books tell everyone to buy this powered formulation to present to the chiefs of villages, then he invites you in for the ceremony and everyone bonds and you are made welcome. I had  not experienced the kava ceremony and was looking forward to my first. Tom said he had purchased some kava and had given it to the host. I’m all in.

The village was truly a village, foot paths, pigs, chickens, and kids everywhere.  The houses are thatched roof shanties. I’m thinking should’a worn shoes, looks like a hookworm factory. We exchanged gifts and things, then Tom and myself accompany the chief and his two sons along a footpath to the mens “custom” area. The chief brings some water in a 3 gallon paint bucket, a couple coconut drinking cups, some leaves, woven mats, coconut leaf, sticks and some other things.

We set around on some logs and they pull out some root things and start cleaning and peeling them, I’m looking at the water bucket wondering if we are going to drink water out of that? Will the Malarial medicine kill hookworms? Where is Tom’s instant Kava powder?

I awaken to the fact that the root things are what Tom bought. How then are they going to grate them into small pieces? No fire, so how are they to cook the small pieces?

This new guy walks up and reaches into the pile of cleaned roots, grabs one and takes a big bite. I almost said something to him, I mean he didn’t even ask, and these guys working hard to clean these things up. Then other people start taking big bites and we are encouraged to do same. I guess that since Tom didn’t bring the instant stuff we were going to treat it like chewing tobacco. Anything to keep from drinking that water. Everyone talking and asking if lips tingling or tongue numb?? Everyone trying to see how much they can put in their mouths, not pretty sight, I’m being conservative because it’s a long way back down that mountain path. Not much to this, just got to wear shoes next time.

Then someone brings some special leaves, hands one to each, and then everyone regurgitates all their stuff onto these leaves and I get a real bad feeling.
Cat puke is the only way to describe this mess, It was mixed on some porous bark, water poured through it into the two cups. Tom and I got the two cups and were told to drink it all up, one time. We did.

I think we are tribe members now, and the threat of hookworms does not seem so ominous.

Jim




Captian's Log #5

Aug 5, 2008

YEP

Me- Good morning, can I get a cup plain ol’ coffee, with cream and sugar.
Waitress- yep, yep,-----------yep.
15 minutes later
Me- Miss, I didn’t order this cup of froth stuff with the chocolate on top, I wanted a cup of plain coffee.
Waitress- yep.
Me-Do you have plain filter coffee?
Waitress-Yep.
Me- Thank you.
Waitress- Yep.
15 minutes later
Me- Miss, In the USofA we call that little ol’ cup dark, brown, thick stuff “Cuban Coffee”. I would have to run around the building a few times if I drank that.
Waitress-Yep?
Me- Can I have some filter coffee that is not so concentrated?
Waitress- Yep.
Me-Thank you.
Waitress- yep.
5 minutes later
Me- I guess I take the little cup of bitter stuff and pore it into this cup of hot water?
Waitress-Yep.
Me-What about cream? There is none on the table to put in this vile stuff. Could you try again to get me a cup of filter coffee with cream and sugar.
Waitress- Yep!
Me- Thank you.
Waitress- Yep.
20 minutes later.
Me- thank you Miss.
Waitress- Yep, yep.
Me- This soup bowl of frothy, creamy, stuff with sprinkles forming a fern leaf is exactly what I had in mind.
Waitress- yep, Yep, (big smile) Yep.

As you see from this “true life” ordinary daily communication excerpt, New Zealanders are fond of the word “yep”. We were watching a movie that was filmed in the USofA the other night and the writers had probably not gotten past the 6th grade, the only adjective they knew was the “F” bomb. It got me thinking that a New Zealand movie could be written with a hand full of nouns, a few adjectives, two pronouns, and 22,543 yeps.

Jim




Captain's Log #4

July 9,2008

Run Out of Town

I think Special Blend and crew have worn out their welcome in New Zealand.

The last log had us at wet slip at River Side Marina with a port side leaky stabilizer, kinda like when we got here last year. Charlie at Dockland 5 (dry dock) cheerfully agreed come in and pull us out on Saturday.

Tony our stabilizer man agreed to drive over on Saturday and pull stabilizer fin, great plan, but I could sense every one getting tired. We were going to do this on the lift, quick.  Saturday morning we get a call from Tony, he has hit hail on the road, lost control, truck is upside down, totaled, and Tony thinks he’s OK. Says he’ll be here Sunday, but we know when he tries to get out of bed on Sunday his body won’t let him.

Charlie now has to come down on Sunday and put us in a cradle.

We have to move back to home at Channel Vista. Owners Paul and Braia  just got the place cleaned up for new renters.

Brad and I pulled out leaking stabilizer and the Company in Auckland that had rebuilt fin had screwed up. Lucky us had a backup new fin from Wesmar. Brad and I reinstalled.

Tony was able to come on Wednesday, certified Brad's and my work, Charlie agreed to launch us again, but he suggested I contact Carl at Riverside and see if we could go there, he had heard we had sunk their floating docks when we left.

Carl was not a happy camper, was talking about having a crew work two days in this cold water. Something about rope and 10 ft tide, I really never understood. They allowed us to come back under strict supervision, and an understanding that they would supervise our leaving. They were pretty nice under the circumstances, but I sensed they were a little edgy.

At Riverside Tony did the calibration and stuff for stabilizer system, was in the process of tweaking starboard fin when we saw that it was leaking, this is true, I would not make this up. I had to leave while Tony talked to repair Company in Auckland, hurt my ears. The Company agreed to do repair next morning (today). And Tony will drive over today or in the morning. We will ask Charlie to pull Special Blend. Tony, Brad, and I will install repaired again fin in an hour or so and relaunch. We haven’t told Charlie or Carl this plan yet.

Meanwhile weather window now looking iffy.

Bright side is we have finally moved in, heater works great. First time we have been warm in 2.5 months, and everyone seems eager to do whatever to either help us leave or make us leave. 

We think New Zealand has had enough.

Jim




Captains Log #3

July 8, 2008

Launch Day

Good things happened yesterday; the fins got installed and time confirmed for last minute launch. Just goes to show that good things happen to those that are uncomplaining and patient as I always try to be.

This morning, the fact that the truckers of New Zealand picked our launch time to demonstrate their displeasure with current laws and taxes by tying up traffic over the whole country did little to dampen our eagerness.  We came sliding in just in time to jump on as Special Blend hit the water.

Friends came to watch launch, dockland 5 manager showed us the way up the river, and at new wet marina more friends showed up, grand time by all. The fuel dock manager kept giggling as the fuel pump reached its max and had to be reset. 6 times it had to be reset, 4000 liters is a lot of fuel. We get a 12.5% discount of the GST tax, whatever that is; plus we get about 25% saving because we are Americans and our dollar is worth more. Still works out to highest price I have heard of, approximately half as much as we spent on the entire trip last year. But so what, we’re headed to Fiji.

With many helpful hands we were secured in our dock space. We immediately set to work on the many chores to be completed for the Monday high tide departure. At one point I dropped a screw and it rolled into the bilge, lifted a hatch to recover the screw and found water, yep stabilizer fin leaking.

I think I saw this movie 9 months ago.

Jim




Captains Log #2

July 1, 2008

Plucked ?

Now I know what a Christmas Turkey feels like, 4, 5, 6, 7, now 8 weeks and seem to be no closer to getting stabilizers than when we got here. Meanwhile car rental co, hotel, restaurant, grocery stores, marine supply, welders, painters, and fuel suppliers in town seem to be smiling.  This week we reached the maximum time allowance by customs inspectors for a New Zealand boat import. No problem, all of our suppliers (who know customs lady personally) all got together and talked her into giving us a extension. I guess when checks start bouncing they’ll let us go.
Some things we have accomplished while waiting;
Bottom painted
Prop Speed applied to Prop (don’t know if works, but good salesman
Hull waxed
New Stidd helm chair
New  Carpet and rugs through out
Lugger valves adjusted and new injectors
Generator, new SS exhaust elbow
All filters changed
All oil and filters changed, all belts replaced
Autopilot finished install
Day fuel tank removed and repaired
Boat repaired from tank removal
Lines on boom davit replaced
Toilets (hopefully) repaired
Outboard new waterpump impeller
New starter battery for lugger
Exhaust hangers on mast replaced
New dock lnes
New handrails at stern
Bimini top replaced zippers
New personal epirb for Martha
0ne year of provisions for 4 months cruise
New Penn reels, seriously outgunned last year

I think when we get stabilizers in stalled next week (????) we will be ready to fuel and leave.

 Really, New Zealanders have been great, they must have a good sense of humor that allows them to live with this crummy winter weather. When we leave (????) we will miss them, but not the weather.

Did I mention how hard it is to get a regular cup of coffee here?
Jim




Captains Log #1 2008

Reported from the dry land of New Zealand. I use the term dry land rather freely because at least 75% of the time we have been here it has been raining. 40 days and 40 nights is nothing to a new Zealander.

We have resolved out differences with Wesmar over the stabilizers.

Mr. Cary D Jones,
President Wesmar

I appreciate your follow up call concerning the Wesmar stabilizers. We had a feeling of abandonment in the middle of the pacific, I became concerned about the long range usefulness of Wesmar stabilizers and was seriously considering sending boat back to US. The stabilizer problems not only have given us many anxious moments, but also many costly and frustrating delays. All we could get out of Wesmar was denial of responsibility, what we needed was help. Thank you for the parts, but more importantly please work with Sopac so the repairs will be done in a manner that meets wesmar's standards. When in the middle of a ocean it's most important to have properly installed and maintained equipment.
 
I have passed your e-mail on to Pete Eunson at Nordhavn, and removing condemnation of Wesmar from our website.
 
Respectfully,
Jim Lyle,
Special Blend