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May 28, 2006

No Bagpipes

This afternoon I got a call from Ryan telling me that he has reached the island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands. Rumor has it that the post office has internet, but it has been closed for the last three days. The island is extremely isolated. They haven't cleared customs yet because they can't find the one customs officer. Once some minor engine repairs are completed, they'll be back on the open water. The next stop is Taumotu Islands and then onto Tahiti. Ryan figures he'll have internet access by then and will post for real.


May 23, 2006

On Sailing Day to Day

*This post was written by Brian before leaving the Galapagos. It's been set up to publish automatically. We are, presumably, still at sea, slowly making our way to French Polynesia (Marquesas).

BrianSOMEWHERE IN INTERNATIONAL WATERS - Because the little dramatic moments of mechanical failure make for more exciting posts and emails, we tend to focus more on them than the actual day to day ins and outs of this whole sailing venture. We most commonly fail to highlight the fact that the boat, in essence, steers herself. With a steady wind and the autopilot engaged, course adjustments generally happen once every few hours. We occasionally have the pleasure of easing or tightening a few sheets, or even tacking the boat - but again rarely.

At first cleaning and ordering things made occupying ourselves no problem at all. Now, with everything sorted and in place, we more or less view our watches as spare time that needs to be spent on deck. Thinking ahead, the boat is provisioned with an arsenal of novels (all classics) that we intend to get through before the voyage ends. Additionally, we've taken to playing chess (with the pieces and board taped down; current score R 3 - B 2), writing in our journals, and sleeping whenever possible.

The real trouble lies with the night watches. Once or twice a night you find yourself torn tired out of your dreams to a rocking boat whose instruments need some staring at. With little actual sailing to think of, the first ten minutes is usually occupied by a familiar face-slapping, jumping up and down, wake-yourself-the-hell-up routine. Failing that, chocolate, cold salt water, coffee grinds; anything to get up. I usually have lofty reading and writing ambitions which are unfailingly crumbled in less than a half an hour. After watching the sea light up with phosphorescent algae striking the boat, and staring at the stars wondering how people could possibly pretend to navigate by them for a while, the wake up routine tends to follow once more.

A bonus of it all is that we really have time and reason to learn the boat inside out. Ryan uses the GPS charts as a video game console, and each morning the route ahead of us becomes more colourful and complex. I'm systematically scanning all known SSB (really long range radio) frequencies for the odd gem of a station and even (hopefully by now) the BBC. We certainly will be very competent sailing, navigating, and fixing things by the end of all this, but perhaps more significantly - we will never again be bored.


May 04, 2006

T-Shirts For Sale... Finally.

*If you´re reading this it means that I set this post up correctly to appear automatically. We're still sailing and hopefully by now, clear of the Galapagos Island and well on our way to the Marquesas. The Internet is a wonderful thing.

Shirt - Close UpINTERNATIONAL WATERS - Since the inception of this site, there have been requests for me to make T-Shirts available for sale. I'd considered it before but realized quickly that I wouldn´t be able to manage selling t-shirts from dingy little 3rd world Internet cafes along the way. Postcards are difficult enough. Still, I kept the idea stored in the recesses of my mind as something I'd do one day; I'd even gone as far as putting up a dead link on the horizontal navigation bar called 'shop' with the idea that I´d get around to it sooner or later. Of course, anybody who's ever clicked that link would have found nothing on the other end... until now.

With the help of my old roommate, Jon we can now sell T-Shirts. He´s done the leg work along the way and will take care of anybody wanting a t-shirt.

We've decided to go for quality over quantity. At the price of $30 CDN per shirt, I can't even afford one. The reason for the price is simply a function of the cost to us. We've committed to using only the highest quality shirts along with tough, well done custom-cut fuzzy iron-on lettering. The logo won't wash off and the actual shirt should be good for at least a couple trips around the world. All our shirts are made by American Apparel, a clothing manufacturer notable for it's insistence on being sweatshop free.

If you´d like more detail or to actually buy a Shirt for yourself click the 'Shop' button on the menu.

May 02, 2006

Galapagos - French Polynesia (Marquesas)

Takin' Off (From The Stern)GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR - We've been here now for 6 days; long enough to see some sights, make necessary repairs and re provision the boat. Today we sail for the Marquesas Archipelago, a remote part of French Polynesia famous, in recent history, as being the site for the 4th series of Survivor on CBS (you know, the one with 'Boston Rob'). At 3000 nm (5600 km), this will be the biggest stretch of Ocean we´ll encounter on our trip around the world.

The Pilot Charts suggest that we´ll have fair winds and following seas the entire way. These are the Pacific Trade Winds, said to blow consistently all year round. The latest Weatherfax is supporting what the Pilot Charts are saying. For the foreseeable future, wind from the Southeast at 20 knots; Perfect.

At approximately 100 nautical miles per day, it´ll take us 30-days to reach the Islands. This of course is only a guess as I have yet to see the boat sail downwind and there is a chance of being slowed by doldrums which sometimes appear near the equator. We could be faster and we could be slower. Expect us to arrive anywhere from 25-35 days from now (My guess - June 2nd)

Our length of time of course means that there will be a large time between posts on this site. To help maintain continuity, Brian and I have composed a few articles that should appear here automatically while we sail.

For now though, it´s so long once again for we sail today, shortly after lunch. While it doesn´t seem as significant as the leg from Panama to here, it's a big step, geographically speaking, on our trip around the world.

The road is life can no longer be taken literally, for the next 30-days el mar es nuestra vida.

May 01, 2006

Diving The Galapagos

North Seymour (SCUBA Diving)GALAPAGOS, ECUADOR - While Brians attempts at 'dancing' underwater with a pair of sea lions were made less than graceful due to a thick wetsuit and cumbersome SCUBA gear, I kept cranking neck to keep an eye on the small cave, less than three metres away, that housed no less than four white tip sharks. They say they´re harmless but, I´m not exactly sure who 'they' is and in my eye these sharks looked menacing enough to warrant at least some of my attention..

Lacking the colourful coral of Honduras and Panama, the diving we´ve done here in the Galapagos isn´t without it´s excitement. It seems that everything here is big; freakishly so. The wildlife here is in your face and unafraid. At times it seems as though the various species compete for attention. While sharks swim lazily by, a couple sea turtles will barge in front of your line of sight only to be obscured by a giant school of small, dark fish moving like a cloud and reducing visibility to a couple inches. Not to worry though, the sea lions won't leave you out of sight for long, you can expect them to chase everything away in order to hog your attention with elaborate circles and playful dances.

It's another world; it´s one that I can´t show you. Most other divers carry waterproof housing units for their cameras. I don´t. Partly because I lack the means to buy one and partly because I lack the space in my backpack to carry one around. Sure, It'd be nice to photograph some of the spectacular things I´ve seen at 60ft under the sea, I´m sure I´d appreciate it years down the road. For now this newly discovered world will have to exist solely in my memory.