June 26, 2006

Magic Post from the Ocean

Cam and RichardTHE OCEAN - I got an e-mail from the boat. It's not Ryan, its his skipper Neville. It seems that they've got a little more technology than on the previous boat. Sounds like things are going well. I actually spoke with Ryan the other day before he left and he wanted to thank all of you who have sent in donations and purchased shirts. -jon

From the boat:

To those with us in mind,

Blithe Spirit and its crew of Richard, Ryan, Cameron and Neville departed Bora Bora (16 deg. 29 min. South by 151 deg. 45 min. West) on the afternoon of Wednesday 21st of June. On the Tuesday we redeemed the "Bonds" for Cameron and Ryan to sever our ties with French Polynesia. On the Wednesday morning the crew hired bicycles and cycled around Bora Bora whilst the skipper stayed on board completing navigation chores (finding new rocks to hit). Our journey began with perfect sailing conditions with a close reach giving Blithe Spirit an on-course speed of between ten and twelve knots with just the mainsail and jib. This was replaced by a calm and then a strong wind from the West (on the nose). There were violent squalls and zero visibility so we deployed the sea anchor for the night and experienced a disturbing sleep to the noisy crashing of waves into the boat. The sea anchor worked extremely well and the crew were quite expert in both their deployment and recovery of the sea anchor. As ever, nothing is perfect and a "washing bucket" rope (beautifully crafted by a proud Bruce) managed to catch the port propeller and we will have a little swimming to do when the seas are calm. After a very disappointing day's run of 95 miles, we had to motor sail slowly all day through a mixture of calms and turbulent squalls. This evening the squalls have disappeared to the south and tonight we can see stars. Blithe Spirit is sailing leisurely at seven knots with a full main and jib on a calm sea and light winds (5/10 knots). Our communications through Sailmail have been intermittent; our two nearest stations are both very far away (Honolulu and Australia). Our ability to get good weather reports are largely dependent upon Sailmail. Today was a good communication day and we can expect light but favourable winds for the next four days. Our target destination for this trip is Suva in Fiji; however we may stop at one of the intermediate islands enroute. All is well on-board and the total strangers who joined Blithe Spirit at Papeete are now solid friends and a good crew. Best regards to everyone with us in mind and spirit, Richard, Ryan, Cameron, Neville

June 18, 2006

So Long Brian, Hello Bora Bora

Blithe Spirit Moored in TahaaTAHAA, FRENCH POLYNESIA - Things have changed dramatically since finding our luggage. Brian has decided to fly back to Canada in order to pursue some potentially lucrative money-making options for the summer. He's promised to rejoin the trip as soon as possible, I on the other hand am determined to soldier onward despite the costs involved. I'm drooling over the prospect of finding work in Australia or New Zealand in the next few months.

Two days ago, opportunity knocked for me. I may have found my magic ticket the rest of the way across the Pacific aboard a very fast and very interesting ocean racing catamaran (pictured above).

In fact I've already left Tahiti and am anchored in a sheltered bay on a picture perfect island called Tahaa near Bora Bora after sailing overnight from Tahiti. The rumor is that some weather may be hitting on Tuesday and my new skipper thought it best to get out of Tahiti and into a more sheltered anchorage. Once the weather clears we'll probably sail on to Bora Bora then out of French Polynesia and onward toward Tonga or Fiji.

The new boat, Blithe Spirit, is returning to Australia to complete a circumnavigation after performing very well (4th) in a trans-Atlantic race from South Africa to Brazil and successfully warding off pirates in Venezuela. The skipper seems to be a wealth of knowledge and experience. We are 4 people including the Captain, myself and two other Australians; Cam is my age and Richard is 17 but has more sailing experience than you'd expect from someone so young.

*Internet is rumored to cost more than $24 USD in Bora Bora. I'll try to get something up when we arrive though; however brief.

June 15, 2006

Paradise Found (and luggage too)

MOOREA, FRENCH POLYNESIA - Today it seems that our luggage finding efforts have finally paid off. On a couple tips from people in the know we we're relieved to find the yacht "Takin' Off" moored in Cook's Bay on the island of Moorea. Eight days without a change of clothes was starting to wear on us. It turns out that I'd been within 400 metres of the boat on two previous occassions, for I'd independently travelled out here by ferry while Brian continued to scour the island of Tahiti. The boat lost it's wind generator, boom tent and had a blue tarp covering the bimini due to a pretty big storm the other night... which also explains why it didn't return to Tahiti with our luggage; it is effectively stranded in Cook's Bay until it's engine is back in order.

A special thanks is due to everybody who's donated money in the last several days and to Tommy Toman, our good friend and long time travelling companion, who set us up with some of his very own travelling wardrobe before flying out to the USA.

Our next major obstacle will be getting ourselves back to Tahiti and all of her yachts looking for crew. Rumor has that some disgruntled fishermen have blockaded the reef pass used by the inter-island Ferries. The only way off this island now is by private yacht or helicopter; at least for the time being.

Don't feel sorry for us, it's an absolute paradise out here. Now that I have my camera, there may be some pictures, in the near future, to prove it.

June 10, 2006

Missing Luggage and Mega Yachts

PAPEETE, TAHITI - Thanks to everybody who's donated money in the last couple days. I've just re-read my last post; I didn't realize how much I was whinning about our little situation with money.

What we need more than money at the momoment though is to find our luggage. It seems to have sailed away without it. The boat we were on has left it's parking spot with all our worldly possessions. After one full day of looking we've come up empty handed. Not to worry, the Captain couldn't have gone too far and he know's that he's got our bags. It's a pity though as I was really hoping to change my underwear and get out of the jeans I've been wearing for 3 days now. Who wears jeans in Tahiti?

We've been passing time hanging out at the local Marina, drooling at some very large yachts; We're confident an opportunity will surface sooner rather than later. And we've also found our friend Tom, who's in a similar situation after leaving his boat in the Marquesas. We've been following him off and on since Northern Mexico.

June 08, 2006

Tahiti - Paradise Turned Prison

IMG_1029[1]PAPEETE, TAHITI - It's been more than 6 weeks since I've accessed the internet. A lot has happended since, including another 41 days at sea and a solid week in the remote, but profoundly beautiful Marquesan Island of Hiva Oa.

As of yesterday, our situation has changed dramatically with the discovery that our Captain and his boat will be stopping here, at least for the forseeable future due to personal reasons of his own.

This of course means that both Brian and I are now officialy stranded smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With air transport not an option this may prove to be our biggest obstacle yet. Top priority now is to find a new boat to get ourselves off this pardise turned prision ASAP as our bank accounts and credit cards have already started melting from too much use. Tahiti it not a cheap place to be. (ie. this internet connection is costing more than $13 USD per hour, back in the glory days of Central America I could sometimes get by on $13 USD per day.)

* I'll read email and upload photos at a later date, for now the clock is ticking... tick, $, tock, $.

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.