Sailing Around The World

Archive for August, 2013

I answered your comments below

Thank you all for commenting on my blog post. Love to here your thought and feelings. I cannot answer your comments at sea but I try to catch up on them when I get Internet service, so realize I do read them all.

Jacques


Pictures of Suwarrow Island

As I promised I have taken some of my better photos of the Island Suwarrow in the North Cook Islands. Just a reminder that you can click on the photo for a larger shot.

Suwarrow Island is by far one of the most beautiful and breath taking Islands I have been on to date and is defiantly an all-time best snorkeling reefs in the world. I don’t like to claim a destination to be the best in the world but I have been too close to half of the world and the reefs in Suwarrow Islands are true virgins and have been un touched by man. The main reason is because you can only get there by sailing your own boat and that’s it. I have not edited any of my pictures with software and I do look forward to doing so someday but the following few photos are as real as the day I took them, enjoy.

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Sailing underway between Bora Bora and Suwarrow Island as the sun was setting somewhere 300 nautical miles off shore.
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Some evening I get to enjoy the most elegant offers of the ocean from the front row seat at the helm of Dragonsbane.
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Yup we made it to the Island of Suwarrow I guess we are few miles from home.
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Adam decided to take a break and have a nap under the palm trees.
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I felt like I earned a rum coconut juice cocktail and a nap as I watched the ocean on still land.
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Not a bad view?
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Woke up this morning to find tons of black tipped reef sharks circling the boat.
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Some of them are really big, lol.
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In the evening we had a cruisers pot luck and drank rum and listened to some guitar music, good stuff.
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I would like to introduce you to my good friend Charlie, this is his home and would ask that you be patient, relax. Charlie would say that line 100 times a hour and then tell you one more time. I guess I took his advice and just relaxed.
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Blue footed boobie pooping on my outboard
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Well this is Dans dinghy that he is fixing and the catamaran in the back ground is his ship wrecked boat. He has been on this island for 2 months. He lost his mast once, sank half the boat, out of money, out of fuel, but one of the most happy people I ever met. I definitely took some notes from his life that I shall reflect upon in the future.
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Well It’s a island with thousands of birds.
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A lot were nesting
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Look at these little guys!
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Ok well I guess I will back off little guy!
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Nice, you are looking real good bird!
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A few more shots
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Here are some good examples of the hermit crabs. At night when I was around the camp fire on the beach and the moon was bright the hermit crabs would come out from hiding and march to the water’s edge by the thousands. I would try and walk by without crunching them but I failed a few times.
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Meet the coconut crab, these guys are so odd looking and creped me out. There were like big spiders.

Not only was the ground covered with these crabs that could cut open coconuts with their claws but they claimed up into the trees. I was so worried about losing my heel to one.
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Ok, so Charlie said that we could take only one thing from the Island I wanted a Coconut tree. I could not get the dam thing out of the ground, well I almost did.
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From Seven Island were we looked at the seven kinds of coconut crab we dived into the coral reefs and swam through the coral forest and saw all the hidden things within. Enjoy the them.

Well I hope you enjoyed the pictures. We are now in America Soma which so far has been a good decision. I look forward to our hikes and adventures that we will start on Monday.

Cheers,
Jacques


Day 4 Passage to America Soma

The weather has been great for the last 4 days and the seas are less then 3 feet for a change. We are about 50 nautical miles from Pago Pago which is the city of America Soma Island. I have reduced sail to the size of a postage stamp so I can maintain a speed of 3 knots. That way I will arrive in the morning at the entrance of the harbor and continue onto the anchorage within. After we anchor and I clear customs I will hopefully find a good place to eat and have a beer. That is one of my favorite feelings when you make a passage is to have a beer and eat good food. For now we eat only what we cook and I am ready for someone else to do the cooking. On another note a fish bit my line today and took out most the line, then snapped it off. I guess I will not be eating fish tonight. I also lost my favorite lure and I will have to find a new one if I plan on catching more fish. I was not surprised to see my 80 pound line snap but I was a bit sad. Other then that we are doing well.

Current Position: 14deg 22.8min South, 169deg 56.3min West, COG 246deg, SOG 3 kts

Cheers,

Jacques


Day 3 From Surarrow to America Soma

I am not sure why or how but my chart plotter is working today, but I am not going to hold my breath. Based on our slow start with little wind we will have to slow down now in order to make landfall on Saturday morning. Right now if I could sail at 6 knots I would make America Soma at 6pm Friday evening which is no good. I cannot bring myself to navigate into a large harbor and anchor in America Soma because the anchorage is complicated. I have been told by other sailors that 2 years ago a tsunami had flooded the low lands of Pango Pango America Soma then receded back into the ocean. When the tsunami waters receded back into the harbor and ocean it dropped off cars, stoves, swing set, and all kinds of trash that now litters the anchorage bottom. To make it more complicated the anchorage bottom has a 2 foot layer of silt that covers a mud bottom that is laying on an old lava flow that is smooth like glass. So I have to locate a shelf on the north anchorage area that is about 40 feet deep and drop my anchor. But also keep an eye on the north reef that is only 2 feet deep and is all rock. I have been told to not power set the anchor with my engine but to just scope out a lot of anchor chain and let the anchor settle in the muck and mud. Then in the following morning back down on the anchor slowly to set it deeper into the mud bottom. The good news is that there is supposed to be little wind and swell over the weekend in America Soma Pango Pango so I should sleep well at night and not on anchor watch. This sure is a lot of work to get cheap beer and provisions; I hope that this passage is worth it, lol.

Current Position: 14deg 14.6min South, 168deg 14.4min West, COG 252deg, SOG 4.6 kts

I dream now of just beer and burger’s!

Thanks,

Jacques


One of Those Days

The weather out here is great, I have good wind and making 6kts. I guess the day was going to good for me and the chart plotter that I thought I had fixed is now broken again. Lets just say if I could punch Garmin I would. It seems now that both my chart plotter will only stay on for 10 to 20 seconds and then shut down. I checked voltage and it 12.7volts on my meter. I checked the breaker and that has good power. I powered one chart plotter up and watch ed voltage and it stayed steady and the plotter shut down. Accroding to my error list I have what’s called a “abnormal shut down error 7.50” well no shit! I am in the middle of the ocean with a abnormal shut down error and all I want to do is throw my less then 1 year old GARMIN P.O.S into the ocean. Knowing my luck it will floating and not sink, so I would have to go get it. Well anyway its not the end of the world because I have other back ups and a paper chart that I can navigate off of but its disappointing when shit breaks! Guess that is my rant for today! Busy out here in the ocean today!

Current Position 3:55utc; 13deg 45.6min South, 165deg 52.2min West, COG 247deg, SOG 6.5

Thanks and Good Luck,

Jacques


On The Ocean Again

Last night we joined in a pot luck and Charlie caught a Wahoo Tuna so we ate grill tune with all the fixings. We also enjoyed some coconut beer and told stories of our travels and listen to the adventures of others around the camp fire as we watched the sharks swim along the beach. We got early this morning and stow all our gar for this next 430 nautical mile passage to America Soma. We then spent another hour pulling our anchor chain out from coral heads and then we were off. I was hoping for 10 to 14 knot winds but we have 6 to 7 knot winds. I started out with running two head sails a drifter and a 150 jib on twin spinnaker poles and made good speed at 5.5 knots with 6 knots of wind. But like the old line goes “were ever you wont to go the wind doesn’t want you to” so I dropped my two poles, head sails, and put up the spinnaker and I am running with that right now making 4.5 knots. I sure hope the wind picks up a bit. Hope all is well back home.

current position: 04:00UTC, 13deg 17.7min south, 163deg 38.3min west, COG 247, SOG 4.5kts

Cheers,

Jacques


Getting Ready To Sail

Well another wonderful adventure under our belt and now where to go? I am kicking around the idea of sailing 540 nautical miles west to America Soma or south west to Niue Island. I have been told that America Soma Island is a good place to get provisions and they have lots of products made in America. The only draw back is that America Soma is not a very exciting place and should only be treated as a provisioning stop. So with that in mind I think I will sail 540 nautical miles to America Soma and then after a day or three in Soma I will sail 330 nautical miles to Niue Island. In Niue my plan is to spend time with the whales and explore the shoreline limestone caves. I am also hoping to run into some of our cruising friends and have a few beers with them. Then off to South Tonga were I will pick up Ben our new crew member and sail north into the heart of Tonga. I have been told that many cruisers spend lots of time getting lost in the beautiful Islands of Tonga. But to begin I will leave Surarrow Island On Tuesday after I bottle my coconut beer, you know you have to take care of the important things first. The weather looks good, wind is reported to between 10 to 15 knots and then by Friday the east trade winds will fill back in and blow 15 to 25 knots. It should be good fun.

Cheers,

Jacques


Surarrow, Coconut beer, Manta Rays, Crab, and Hammocks

We have been anchored here in Surarrow for the last five days and each day has been a new adventure. To begin the anchorage is perfect with no swells or waves rocking us. The weather has been very sunny and the breeze has been cool. Our first day on anchor here we just slept and read books because it was raining off and on so a nice day off was nice to have. Tuesday I dragged Adam out of bed at 7am to go snorkel with the Manta Rays. It was amazing, we took our dinghy to a small reef just off our anchorage and jumped in. I was surprised to see six Manta Rays swimming circles around the coral reef. Each one of the rays was between six or eight feet wide and swam with us. I would dive down and rub there bellies which caused them to want to be near me more. Then the next day we hiked around Anchorage Island and discovered big pools off the beach on the back side of the island that contained dozens of Black Tipped Sharks. It was interesting because when Charlie the Park Ranger would yell to the sharks and they would swim up like dogs and he would freed them a few chunks of fish. I enjoyed the hike around the island and saw some very cool things.

On Wednesday Adam and I spent the day cleaning Dragonsbane and worked on a few project. I repaired our broken mainsheet traveler with a spare part from our friends John and Sue on Wizard. Looks like I am back in business as far as using the mainsail again. We then enjoyed a pot luck dinner with all the other cruisers and listened to Harry play some live music as the sun went down drinking Rum and coconut juice out of the coconut. It was wonderful chatting with all the other cruisers that have crossed the Pacific. Folks from all over the world were at the party and it was a great time.

Thursday we went for a tour with Charlie and had to give him 2 liters of gas form Adam and I plus 20 bucks. We went to Bird Island and saw thousands of birds. The birds were hatching eggs and there were little baby birds all over too. They looked so fun and I guess you could say cute. Then we went over to Seven Island were I found out that the Island is named Seven Island because there are seven types of coconut crab that live there. The Coconut Crabs were as big as basketballs. They were many different colors that ranged from black, red, purple, yellow and so on. They looked like something out of a alien movie. They were crawling everywhere and would climb up the trees and eat the coconuts. I was very worried about losing a toe to one of these things as I walked around. We then ventured out and went snorkeling in a forest of coral heads that created a amazing forest of coral pinnacles that I swam through and saw sharks, turtles, sting rays, and the most healthy coral I have ever seen in my life. I would put this coral reef on the top of list of best snorkeling I have ever done and is 10 time better then the BVI or Virgin Islands.

Friday I spent the day laying in a hammock as i read my book and napped with the ocean breeze keeping me cool. Then I got up and had dinner with everybody and ate coconut crab. The crab was sweet and had big chunks of crab meat that I smothered in butter. We also had some local coconut beer that Charlie the Ranger made from the coconuts on the Island. After everybody ate we enjoyed Harry and Dan playing music and sang songs. Charlie came out with a pitched of Rum mixed with coconut juice that was chilled. We all circled around the rum and Charlie would fill one glass and we would each get a big shot of rum and juice. This was called a sharing circle and this is how Charlie drinks. So you guessed it, I got smashed.

Today I woke up with a bad hangover, so I went back to bed after I held the SSB Radio Net. I woke up later in the morning and went to shore to collect 26 coconuts so I could make myself a batch of coconut beer. I learned from Charlie that you need 26 coconuts worth of juice, one cup sugar, and one teaspoon of yeast to make a batch. So Adam and I climbed up coconut trees and made coconut beer. I then talked to some nice folks Goran and Anniaree from New Zealand, they gave me a recipe for bread. So I made bread this evening and it turned out great. I also helped a nice America single hander named Jerry find his anchor cap that he dropped in 60 feet of water. Adam scuba dived it and I stayed on the surface to give him reference for were to look. Adam found the part and so we were rewards with a 5th of vodka for our trouble and the guy was one happy sailor.

We will be hopefully off to Niue Island on Monday but who knows I may sail somewhere else or leave leter in the week, who knows.

Take it easy,

Jacques


Made IT! Suwarrow Island Day 5

After five days of rolling from rail to rail we have made landfall. We sailed right up to the main passage way into the lagoon, through the coral reefs, around the shoals, and dropped anchor 200 feet off shore in the most beautiful ocean green water that I have seen to date. The lagoon water is so green that the bellies of the white swallows reflect the green water which makes there bodies glow neon green as they fly around us. When you look into the water it is littered with 100’s of black tipped sharks and small coral heads. The first thing I did after stowing all of our passage sails and gear was dive into the crystal clear water and swim with the beautiful sharks. I don’t fear them anymore and love to watch them swim around me. It is even more amazing to see them here because the water is so clear it is like looking through air and I feel like I am flying through the air with all these sharks and you can see for 100’s of feet underwater. I think it was worth the sail here so far. I wish you all a good night and I will be watching the meteor shower tonight with a rum in hand. I think it will be a good show way out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Good Bless,

Jacques


Day 4 to Suwarrow Island

The weather out here in the ocean is very nice today. The wind is blowing 15 to 20 knots and swells are lessoning to 1 to 2 meters. We are about 120 nautical miles from Suwarrow Island Northern Cooks Territory and should make landfall at 11:00am tomorrow. I only hope that the passage through the coral reef is not to difficult as we will have to navigate through a strong out going current and multiple coral reefs that block the final passage into the Suwarrow Lagoon. I also hope that the small anchorage in the lagoon has good bottom holding for our anchor, but based on SSB radio reports and my guide books the bottom is littered with coral heads. Bottom line, is that I will be glad to get off the ocean for a few days.

Current Position 2:08utc 13deg 40.6min South, 161deg 29.5min West, COG 285, SOG 5.0 knots

Thanks,

Jacques


Day 3 to Surarrow Island

Last evening was a fun and exciting trouble shouting experience. The wind last evening and leading up to the last few hours has been blowing from 20 to 30 knots and the swells are from 6 to 12 feet high that are very lumpy and tall. That said last evening at the begging of my watch I was picked up by a very big wave that was shaped like a wedge. As Dragonsbane climbed up the wave she spun 90 degrees that cause her to take the hit on the beam and white cap of the wave hit the boom and mainsail. As this happened the mainsail was back winded by a 30 knot gust and my boom preventer that keeps the mainsail on one side boat snapped sending pieces of snatch block into the air. The main came crashing to the other side of the boat and I was drenched by the white cap wave in the cockpit. Adam was sleeping, I got him up and on deck to helm as I reviewed the damage. Because the preventer failed the mainsheet traveler now has a crack in the connection point of the traveler car and the mainsheet pulley blocks. So I lashed a new pulley to the mainsheet traveler rail and connected it to the mainsheet block and tackle. To be safe I took down the main and put up my storm trysail and pulled out my head sail. I am still making 6-7 knots and 220 nautical miles to Surarrow Island. Everybody onboard is doing well!

Current Postion: 02:15utc 14deg 12.7min south, 159deg 29.5min West, COG 264deg, SOG 6.5

Thanks,

Jacques


Day 2 to Surarrow Islandbout 4

Everything is going well and the wind is steady out of the east. We are making 7 knots of speed and have about 420 nautical miles to go.

current position 15dseg 17.97min south, 156deg 01.94min west, cog 272deg, sog 7.3

Thanks,

Jacques


Day 1 to Suwarrow Island

We left Bora Bora at 12:30 in the afternoon and have been sailing about knots. The sea s very lumpy and making us sway back and forth but Adam and I are doing well with the conditions. Wind speed is fifteen to twenty knots.

Current Position 15deg 55.3 min south 153deg 45.7min west

Take It Easy,

Jacques


Last Minute Change Of Plans

Well the great thing about being a cruiser is that you can change your mind fast. I am now going to Suwarrow Cook Island now. The weather is better in north Cook Islands. So we will be leaving from Bora Bora in about 3 hours and it should be a good sail knock on wood.

Take it easy,

Jacques


Off To New Islands

Well I am sad and happy to say that I will be leaving the French Polynesian Islands tomorrow Wednesday 8/7/13 for the cook Islands. I will now be venturing into the New Zealand territory were after 3 months of French I will get to speak English with the locals. My port of call will be Rarotonga which is a 4 day sail from Bora Bora. I have a good weather window; Adam and I are ready to sail with our provisions. So look out for our daily reports from the sea via SSB radio emails.

Thanks,

Jacques


High In The Sky With Smoke On The Water!

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After being in Bora Bora we had tried to climb to the top of the mountains on the island but we struggled to find the trial head. Our guide books discussed the idea that one could hike to the top peeks of Bora Bora. We stopped by the information desk at the ferry dock to be told that you need to hire a guide to hike the trail. I guess the reason behind the guide is because last year 3 hikers fell to their death on the mountain climb, and they don’t want that to happen again. So doing what I do best, I went to happy hour and talked with others that had been up the trail and got the location of the trail head. The plan was then made to hike to the top of the mountain starting at 10am and anybody that wanted to come could. We would hike to pt 1 and if possible pt2 as shown in above photo.
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At 10am everybody was at the dock and a few more people than I thought but I was stoked to see so many crazy people like me to climb a mountain with no guides and no idea what was up there! I should have known because they are all cruisers that came across the Pacific Ocean. Yup, we are all nuttier then squirrel turds, speaking of squirrels that’s what you needed to be to climb this mountain.
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Part of our problem finding the trail head was that you had to walk through a nice and cozy back street off the main street of Bora Bora. Most of the houses were made up of tin and palm leaves with lots of broken down cars but very happy, and wonderful locals waved to us and said hi.
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Even the dogs were happy to see us and like this one didn’t even care that we were walking through there neighborhood. Take it easy big guy, what a dogs life!
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O yeah remember all that crap about needing a guide well as you can see the sign says that it is strongly “recommended”, not that you need a guide.
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Ok so this trial is straight up a mountain and with steep areas that had rope already tied up for your to climb. I won’t lie I did not trust the ropes because I had no idea what they were tied to, I just put that thought out of my mind and went for it.
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I was about half way up the mountain when Brain from Osprey snapped this picture. But we still had a long way to go.
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Almost to the top of pt1 and you can see my friend Ben up at the top of the picture right at the summit.
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Finally made it to the top of pt 1 and what a view.
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Looking out you can see the city of Bora Bora and the passage to the right were we sailed into. On the left you can see pt 2 were we climbed next.
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This is a 360 degree shot of Bora Bora Island taken by Brain and Richard from Osprey. We were all sitting on pt1 discussing if we should try to climb to pt 2. I was not very excited about the idea but after Ben, Sarah, Adam, and Mark went for it I followed. I always hate missing out.
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Well no one fell off the cliff and you are looking back at pt1 from the summit of pt 2. It was a very small area to stand but a amazing view.

I took this video of us standing on pt 2 and held my camera out over the edge and you can see the thousand plus drop off. It was a little intense and made me feel amazing inside to be up there.
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Dan from “Red Sun Rising” took a this group photo of us up on pt 2. Just don’t take a step backward because it will be air guys! From Right to left you have Adam, Mark, Ben, Jacques, Sarah.

What goes up must go down so Mark from “Compase Rose” took a video of me climbing down from pt 2 and you can see from the shot that we are on the peak between pts 1 and 2. There is nothing on either side and it was a really cool place to be, loved it.
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As we hiked down the mountain we started to hear explosions and then balls of flames. We looked out at the city in a clearing of trees and saw a huge fire on the water front. The smoke was flowing out over the water and Ben saw tanks shooting up into the air exploding. We found out later that its was a tent that had food venders that cough the place on fire. We all made it safely off the mountain and went to happy hour and rested our feet with a beer in hand by 5pm. Not a bad day!

Thanks,

Jacques