Monday, October 31, 2011

Always be prepared...

Must be Halloween... It's snowing!

My co-worker just informed me it *isn't* snowing... So pardon the water that has achieved solid state after being cooled below freezing that is accelerating towards us at terminal velocity... but last I checked that was snow.

I think this is a good time to point out why we put our Christmas decorations up so early. I know you thought it was just because we were so excited to get into the spirit... but it's so much easier doing it *before* everything gets covered in a layer of ice, when the temperature is hovering at less than frictionless, besides you know we're all about safety first!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Dust off that imagination that's been suppressed... Now squint a little, it's a baby dragon emerging from it's egg!

With flashbacks to "Discount Al's vaseline emporium, final exam strength now in stock" I used more Vaseline than is right for any one person to have in their possession, and dutifully greased my pumpkin... my right hand is now soft and supple all the way up to the elbow. It's all rather disgusting actually *grimace* I don't mind being dirty but there's just something wrong with using *that* much petroleum product...

This picture brought to you courtesy of iPhones. Yes 's (two to be precise), one inside the pumpkin on "flashlight" mode... and the other taking the picture!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From the Commador

Dad is safely berthed in Opua New Zealand and Skyped me this evening.

All is well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Could'a been the whiskey, might'a been the gin...

Could've been the three or four jello-shots, but look at the mess I'm in...

As the birthday girl, I was definitely surprised and thoroughly thrilled that you had a Halloween themed birthday party for moi, you don't have to say anything, I know it's just a coincidence that your son has a hockey tournament  next weekend ;) Nonetheless, it made me feel warm and fuzzy all night... and even thinking about it again now makes me grin.

I also have to say, it was such an honor to finally meet the besty friend of a friend who started reading this crazy story that is my life... and somehow found herself caught up in it all. I don't understand how it happens, but a word to the wise... you might want to keep it on the down low, I'm pretty sure people have been committed for less. In any case I considered it a birthday present, and it was great that she didn't even seem to mind that I'm really not that funny in real life... hmmm come to think of it, maybe that's why she went "pee" early...

Signs a good night is in progress, is when you find a few doozies to add to the "You haven't hosted a good party, until..." list, like these ones:
Someone's boobs catch on fire, without causing bodily harm to *anyone*... even if it did singe a few feathers ;)
You've had a full-contact hands-free smartie catching contest, without breaking the smarty dispenser... and in which nobody required first aid.
Somebody has been blamed for accidentally feeding the dog meatballs, on purpose. You know who you are. *ahem*

At two am when you're dancing barefoot in the kitchen, everyone having stripped off their pretty shoes... and things begrudgingly start to wind down... you head for bed, with the promise of leftover apple crisp for breakfast, you know it's been a good party.


Novelty beer... does not live up to expectations.

Signs of winter

I'm not sure why this made me laugh so hard, but I just saw an old guy on a tractor with like half a roll of toilet paper stuffed up his nose... do you think his wife let him out of the house like that?

From the Captain...

I'd hoped to be in NZ and able to call you and sing the b day song but 'fraid not.

This is the most challenging passage yet - and I just got bitten by the mechanical system again - two or three times at once.  First I screwed up when I left Tonga - should have paid the extra immigration cost and killed another two weeks, or gone to Fiji - but I didn't want to do that passage given I was sick and tired of passages and there are a lot of uncharted hazards along that route.  You "should be" OK if you stay north of such and such....  

Anyway, I'm here.

Next error, called the weather wrong and when I hit a change where the wind was all over the place for an hour, I chose simply to heave to and sleep - and a while later realized things had settled.  Should have gone up and set sail to west, didn't.  Drifted north 20 m while I slept.  Had I sailed, I probaly wouldn't have nothred 20 miles and would have gained westing that I needed.

Then 3 fronts  came through, a couple of days with the worst squalls ever - 40 to 50 k winds.  And with things settled out, I was beating due south.  Second error - kept going south in the nice sailing conditons figuring the wind would shift and I'd get west.  NOT.  Things calmed down, so decided to motor into the wind.

Engine fine, belts slipping badly.  Tightened.  Another nasty noise developed.

Decided to sail, granted north west so I'd actually be sailing away from port, but getting the west I had to have.  No options.  Got sailing and turned motor off - except it wouldn't.  OK, shut off the fuel supply.  Shut EVERY valve off and the sucker kept going.

Getting desperate.

Got to the point of cracking the lines to the injectors to introduce air, but just before that recalled the discussion with Peter at Eureka and recalled that an alternative to the solenoid (which is probably frozen in the run positition) there's a mechanical lever at the end of the rack.

Found it - it worked. 

Anyway, I was looking at 120 nm of motoring, now I'm looking at 160 mi of sailing.  Let's hope the wind holds without getting nasty high - there's another system coming through and I hope to be in somewhere calm by then.  We'll see, it'll be close.

Have a great day.  BTW - I'm on the other side of the date line - it's your bday here now.

Love Dad
At 21/10/2011 4:59 AM (utc) our position was 32°25.14'S 176°46.76'E


In soviet Russia you don't eat cake... Cake eats you!


Not bad, not bad at all... but not my favouritest ever, just a nice light salad :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

If this doesn't getcha going like a good poke in the eye

I'm not even sure how to say this... so I'll just start. Whoever put the elastic in sweatpants legs was a genius.

Situational context: I was helping my friend Aaren and his buddy Dave, mount the front fenders on his Unimog which could totally be in preparation for all kinds of zombie apocalypse awesomeness...

Anyways I had just returned from another quick run to the hardware store for 8 more nuts and bolts... and while I stood there watching Dave tighten the remaining screws and finish a smoke I felt a prick on my knee.  I rubbed it, it felt a little like a thistle pokey which kind of made sense... I mean I had been kneeling a lot while trying to convince that first fender it would be much happier hooked up than single. 

But something wasn't quite right *frowns*.  I knelt down and stuck my hand up my pant leg as unobtrusively as far as possible to see if I could grab the pokey thing from the inside... like when you get something stuck on the inside of your sock, and nothin'.  Just then my two cups of coffee finished percolating, so I headed in for a pee.

So there I am, sitting there... peeing... and I take a look at my knee (I can multitask like that), and just as I decide that without a doubt it's a bite mark a fricken WASP crawls UP OVER MY UNDERWEAR ONTO MY SWEATPANTS and bbzzzzZZZTTttzzZZZ's at me!!!!!!

If I hadn't already been sitting on the toilet peeing... I would have peed my pants. As it was I just about had a little cardiac and passed out. You know that wash of cold dread that comes from somewhere older than the sum of your experiences... and you literally have the span of time between thoughts to *not* panic?

That happened.

I didn't pass out. I didn't scream like a girl... and I didn't panic... much. I brushed (albeit hurriedly) the wasp off the edge of my pants, and decided that sitting on the john was definitely a tactical disadvantage as I just barely refrained from the urge to grab the it with some toilet paper and flush it... Visions of all the potential points of things that *could* go wrong with this deceiving simple scenario streamed through my head, including what would happen if I got stung, jumped up, and tried to run out of the washroom while tripping over my pants screaming like a little girl.

Yeah, that would be great for my tough girl reputation... This is the stuff tabloids are made of, so why am I telling all of you? *rolls eyes* because I still can't believe it happened, and its too damn funny not to share ;)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good morning :)

I think everyone should have started their day with chocolate kisses in the morning, I know it's done wonders for an already fantastic Friday!

Yes, I can be bribed... Thanks Fay ;)

Monday, October 17, 2011

From the Captain

Got away from Tonga - the passage out was an act of faith in the GPS.  The channel shows on the chart but you can't see the reefs that the chart shows - they're underwater about 1 m and extensive.  Islands you can see aren't shown - they're part of the reef, and what nav markers are shown on the shart may - or may not exist.  The route out is twisty but works.  Once more or less clear was motoring along and saw a whale do the full breach thing.  Something I've missed to date.  Impressive.  And to top off the day, I finally saw the green flash.

Made OK time the first day, winds were light.  Picked up the second day and made 105 nm which is about right.  Then this morning early the wind began to build.  Something woke me with the thought - 'don't like the sound of that, winds not high but should reef" - did, glad. Within a couple of hours the wind was hitting 40 and I was down to storm sails.  No big deal, boat handled it all like a lady and the only casualty was my hand of bananas.  They blew away.  They had just ripened, hanging from the radar arch.  Had in interesting peppery flavor.

Most of the day was spent blasting along, and late this afternoon things have settled some.  At least the rain stopped.  Forgot to mention the lightning.  Picture if you will, I'm putting in the second reef in the main and one of the reef point lines is tangled in a shroud about 12' above deck.  I had to use some webbing to complete the reef 200 mm short, tape the kitchen knife onto the book hook, cut the tankled line (piece of small stuff) which I managed without damage to sails, ropes, myself etc. despite the tossing about.  Completed the reef.  While I'm clinging to the aluminum mast semit standing on the winch, there is a huge flash of lightning in the sky - I'm thinking - this is probably not healthy but what can I do?  Finished the job.

So, just now, the wind is down some, doing 5+ k rolling away.  about 200 or so nm out, 900 to go.

Take care
At 11/10/2011 7:28 PM (utc) our position was 22°26.10'S 176°00.45'W

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Go team :)

It's a beautiful day to be watching footy-footy-football!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Phase one

I think we have enough dragon to feed an army... of spiders!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Welcome to Burlesque

Last night we were in an ordinary bar, in an ordinary place... not too far from here.  Nonetheless I felt a tingle of rebellion... it was a work night, and I wasn't tucked safely at home in bed like I was supposed to be.  In fact I was surrounded by the people your mother warned you about, who were anything but ordinary.

In a world where the industrial revolution continued solely down the path of steam power.  Victorian style pin stripes and top hats met ruffles, feathers, corsettes and leathers. All of it, accessorized with copper and gears crafted with a gadgeteer's flourish, obvious even to the unobservant.

The evening's entertainment consisted of a bizarre mixture ranging from carney acts to salacious skits, songs, and choreographed dance routines in all of their live, unpolished glory. The imperfections holding you captive in a moment, each story directing your attention as easily as the one you've heard Granny tell a hundred times. Not even realizing you're watching slack jawed, holding your breath... until it's released, erupting out of you like a sprinter off the start line to running in circles around the room playing tag with the rest of the cheers and applause.

What once was old is new again. Watching the power of women who were so comfortable in their own skin, was incredibly liberating. Real women, women with voices as big as their hips, and a confidence that made their bodies fit them... not you, or me or anyone else.

These weren't the perfectly fake airbrushed glossy magazine Hollywood girls... lacking the inny-outty bits that allow you tell them apart from the twelve year old boys. This was the real thing, served up like a good cold beer with a full body of attitude and a healthy dose of take it or leave it... because I don't give a damn. It was awesome and humbling at the same time, this was a rare glimpse of the raw strength few women tap into lying seductively, hibernating just below the deceivingly soft surface.

The realness of it lent to the saloon atmosphere and grounded everything, while the steampunk transported the evening from the old, half remembered whispers of a dream that you've been here before to the realm of the fictional and imaginary, the likes of which you've never seen.

I witnessed things that hereto I had only every heard spoken in hushed tones and incredulous whispers. Things I would not have believed, or would have thought to be exaggerations had I not seen them with my own eyes.

The daring, the wonder, the magic of burlesque.

It was totally worth the 5am wake up sleep walk and subsequent hour and half drive spooning with the passenger door nap back to work this morning.  Even as I sit here at 10pm, eyes burning and blinking wading through my muddled thoughts... wanting needing to go to bed I can't because I have to get them all out and down on paper now.


It's official

We have frost... as if getting up when it's still dark out isn't bad enough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

After a long day at work...

A good friend is someone who breaks into your house and washes your dishes.

Sent... While in transit ;)


I can once again lock my car with the confidence that I will not have to climb in the trunk to get it unlocked.  Sometimes it's the little things, that even when you pay a lot for them make all the difference in the world.

The trouble I was having, is that the drivers side lock hasn't worked since the July long ball tournament in Enderby...  You see, the thing is... well I've been busy, and it's taken me well practically forever to get this fixed... alright I'll be honest, the only reason I finally did it is because I panicked when the passenger door lock started to stick too. Mostly because if that stopped working the only other way in is the trunk, which would just look ridiculous in pretty shoes!

So for anyone who is wondering, a 2008 Honda Fit "sidewinder-style" key will last approximately three and half years of constant use (~3-4 times daily).  Apparently this is quite a common problem, because the end of the key gets worn out and rounded. The warning sign is a wear line on the key, caused by the tumbler dragging its ass rather than hauling it up and over like its supposed to, mashing together and getting more and more bujubbled until it seizes like a bad leg cramp.

Now you know.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


No caption necessary... but if you've made this far...

There are boobs EVERYWHERE!

How cool is that?

Hate to break it to you little buddy, but your camo doesn't work on concrete

It's a beautiful day

Sunshine and rain, purely scientific... knowing it, just makes it that much more amazing ;)

No, *you're* awesome Google!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From the Captain

Thanks for the note.  Underway and the boat is going like it's on rails.  Doing a steady 5k in about 8 k wind on the beam with a low 1 m sea.  I've got all three sails set, with a single reef in the main.

Saw a whale do the full breech thing not far away - neat.

Take care
At 11/10/2011 8:02 AM (utc) our position was 21°46.97'S 175°24.79'W

From the Captain

The engine and transmission are OK now.  The mechanic came and took things apart and we found the prop shaft dragging.  I dove to check again, but this time with scuba so I could take my time.  Found a piece of small rope wrapped tight and drawn into the cutlass bearing, the water lubricated bearing just before the prop. I managed to pull that out and that was the binding. It also turned out that the alignment was off and one of the engine mounts had worked loose, so, altogether it was, perhaps a fortunate event since that could have led to another bearing failure.

So, no damage to anything, learned something - besides the fact that I was wrong with where I thought the problem was, and once more have come to appreciate mechanics.  I motored across the harbor and I'm now anchored off a small island, ready to head out in the morning.  The boat is full of mosquitos - wish I knew why / how they came in.  Didn't seem to be any around at the dock.  Anyway, I spent a bunch of time cleaning the bottom of the boat so hopefully NZ quarantine people will be appeased enough not to be really difficult.

Not much else to add, leaving tomorrow in company with a couple of other boats but they are bigger than I, with crew, so they'll leave me behind quickly.  Other boats leaving tomorrow - there's a stream of boats now heading to NZ.  Hopefully the weather will hold.

All in all, I'm not looking forward to this passage, and I'll be really glad when it's done.

Take care
Love  Dad
At 09/10/2011 4:26 AM (utc) our position was 21°08.34'S 175°11.06'W

From the Captain

It started late Friday I suppose...  I was visiting another yacht and left my plastic sandals on the step of the boat.  One got kicked overboard I guess with the coming and going of people.  Saturday morning I was getting ready to pull out to head for NZ.  Tarp down, stuff away, engine running fine etc.  released the two stern ties and hauled up the anchor.  Motoring towards the fuel dock a few hundred meters away and there is a screech and the engine quit.  I managed to drift down onto a moored yacht (dead calm conditions, no one about) tie on and dove on the prop.  A line had wrapped around.  One of the stern lines had fallen back in the water, I'd left it attached to use as a spring at the fuel dock.  Engine started, transmission went into gear and off I went - for about 60 seconds.  Nasty noises, quick shut down and drifted to the fuel dock.  Transmission is damaged, I'm pretty sure.

Got tied in, engine runs fine in neutral and reverse.  Forward and there are nasty noises.  I think I know what the problem is but not what to do about it.  Called the mechanic, doesn't work Saturday but will come on Monday.  I'm checked out of the country and my visa is dead by Tuesday at best. Filled up with fuel anyway.  I'd ordered 220 l of duty free figuring I'd take 170, but somehow put 250 aboard.  I can see maybe the 220 at a stretch but I think their meter is tweaked.  Can't argue, but out of Tongan cash.  So, now I sit.  It's Sunday and it's DEAD.  Quiet as a tomb and HOT.  Woke up with a headache, and the Inet I had is not available.  I think the cafe changed the password, which makes sense.  So, I'm internet deprived as well, and even if I had some cash, the place is closed.

Just to add insult to injury, my glasses broke.  The bolt in the hinge has corroded through and it didn't just fall out.  It left a cylinder of metal in the hole in the arm, and another in the lower hole of the hinge on the frame.  Lovely, can't get the metal out without a jeweler's drill and vice.  So, it's the toothpick, nylon thread seizing and epoxy repair.  Works.

So, hopefully the mechanic will show in the morning and we can Mickey mouse a fix that will give me about 10 or more hours of run time - enough to get me out of the harbor and clear of the island, and enough to dock at NZ.  I don't think there's a hope of parts here and I really don't want to sit around for a couple of weeks waiting for parts, which is the experience.

Hope you're having a good time, smile.  It's not so bad - I'm comfortable etc., just I don't like sitting and waiting especially since I was "on my way".  Shades of Eureka.

Take care
At 08/10/2011 8:15 PM (utc) our position was 21°08.33'S 175°11.06'W

Sealed for your freshness?!?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

*kisses fingertips*

Circumventional navigation

defn: The art of getting things done despite office politics, all the while convincing key players that it was their brilliant idea in the first place.

Some days

This dreary weather that makes everyone else apathetic and suicidal, folds itself around me. Bringing back memories of being warm and dry, albeit in fully decked out in raingear... standing and eating piping hot oatmeal with a stellers jay sitting on my arm stealing raisins from my bowl pot.

It was magical

Monday, October 03, 2011

Little bit of awesome

The coolest thing ever happened, the lady in front of me in the drive through at Timmy's just paid for my coffee and breakfast sandwich.

It made my day. In fact I'm still smiling.

So I gave the girl at the window $4 for the guy behind me *grins*

Sunday, October 02, 2011

From the Captain...

I've got to eat the home canned food before NZ or else they trash it, so tonight it was a jar of beef.

BTW - I've been cracking an egg over rice for breakfast, along with some raisins - not bad in lieu of oatmeal.  Egg in or over oatmeal works to, and you get some protein for breakfast without any additional time or pots!  Cook on top or stir in usually for the last 3 or 4 minutes of cook time - depends how I'm feeling.  You might try it. Add raisins, fruit etc. + herbs and spice for variety.

Meals have been a bit rugged of late.  I'm really not interested in cooking.

Made the passage from the Vava'ul Group where the cruising grounds are down to Nuka'alofa at the south end.  Tactical error.  First, the earliest I can probably leave is in two weeks - and second, there's not much scope here for things interesting.  In fact, there's very little and the place has a slow dying feel about it.  It was a bit tough getting here.  I misinterpreted the forecast and ended up with light winds.  Plan A was to stop in the Hapai group which is supposed to be nice but a bit tricky with reefs etc.  A smell of diesel exhaust around the nav station suggests a leak so rather than mess around, I decided to stay outside and sail as much as possible.  As it was I ended up going slow, then to add insult to it all got becalmed. Sat out in the middle of the ocean in dead calm, sails furled and slept for 8 hours.

The day before that was slow sailing with a lightning light show all around.  Spooky.  I put the engine on and motored the last 8 hours.  The approach to the port is long - nealry 30 nm through shallows with almost no nav markers - follow the GPS route and thank goodnes for the chart plotter - paid for itself today.  The fog and poor visibility didn't help.  Did see a couple of whales and the most beautiful neon blue fish swam by the boat for a bit.  About a meter long, brilliant blue irridesent color and bright orange tail - the water is fairly clear and he swam about 3 m away and about 1 m deep.  Saw another similar fish leaping a ways off which was neat.  Wide variety of birds including an albatross I think.  Anyway, felt my way into the harbour and across to where a couple of yachts were anchored so I got the hook down and managed to get on the air and talk to Mom.  Just made the sched.  She could hear me fine, her signal was a bit light.  Talked to Gerry after and then did a quick dive on the anchor - OK.  Finally checked into the Pacific Sea Farer's Net to confirm I was fine.

That net is a good one.  They are well organized and with their shore relay system there is almost always a good contact for everyone involved.  If you get the chance, listen in on 14300 at 3:00Z for the warm up and 3:25 for the actual net / roll call.  They also have a web site where they post contacts, so Mom can check there to see if I've checked in even if she can't make contact.  Good people too, several of the operators are ex-cruisers with help, advice and cheerful insightful comment. I called in at 3:00 when they just started asking to give my report then instead of at roll call because I was shutting down because of lightning.  Done, no hassle and a word of companionship about being spooky with lightning about and you're the biggest thing in sight with a big aluminum stick pointing at the sky. Tonight, different net controller when I checked in but a comment about things to do here 'though not much to say for the anchorage".  Sums it up - I was assured I'd have a good time.  So, see what happens.

That's about it.  I hang in here until the weather opens up for the dash to NZ.  I've got some clean up to do before I move and I've got to review the weather contacts.  Winlink is being difficult as well - hope I can get something happening there.

At 01/10/2011 6:13 AM (utc) our position was 21°07.50'S 175°09.69'W

From the Captain...

I checked out of Neiafu today and I'm now at anchor in a cove just south.  The anchor chain talks.  When the boat drifts about, occasinally the chain drags over coral and the rumble is transmitted up the chain right to the boat.  It's weird because I always thought that the grumble / rumble was associated only with dragging but with solid chain rode, it's every time the boat swings you hear this noise.

It's calm.  Some tuna were sort of jumping near the boat in the dark.  There are no mammals like seals and otters.  I suppose there might have been a thousand years ago or so, but with people moving in they got hunted out pretty quick.  I never realized just how many people these islands supported pre-Europeans.  The populations were 100 or more times what they are today.  That's a lot of people on small land base, being fed and supported by the local resources.  Not only just surviving, but living well with time and energy and resources for comfort, art and war.  The implications are really somewhat staggering when you think about it.

Such is life.  I broke the oar I made - the local hardwood turned out to be trash.  Waste of money and a day.  So, I am oar challenged.  I hesitate cutting down my long good oar to match the short oar I bought but it may come to that.  In the meantime, I have got the electric outboard to behave reliably.  I modified it a bit.  I cut off the battery connectors, automotive post style of lead that in the salt water formed a non-conductive oxide quickly, and installed some ring connectors  - the deep cycle batteries have studs as well as lead posts.  These are easy to clean, and being tinned copper aren't affected by the salt water as much.  Also they are easier and faster to put on and take off.  So, all round, works better.

I just need to add a fuse to the circuit - the one was incorporated into the battery post and that's gone now.  The fuse supplied was a bad choice anyway because it's fusible link is corroding fast because it's exposed.  I'll get a blade type in a water proof holder.  Irony is that I had one in the spares box but I used it already.  The other thing is the use of lots of silicone non-conductive anti-corrision grease on all the connectors, espcially the control / instrument sockets.  This has helped a lot and something to file away in your head.  You can use it in all kinds of places where an eletrical connection is made in a wet environemnt.  Works great on your car battery terminals, use it for bulbs on trailers (eg boat trailer tail lights that get wet, ham radio equipment etc. etc.  Most things don't really need it but if you have an electrical contact in a challenging environment, it helps.

I think I mentioned I had a great couple of scuba dives here.  I'm told the diving is good in Fiji too, so that might be inducement to go that way next year if I sail again. 

Take care - love you.
At 25/09/2011 7:23 AM (utc) our position was 18°39.83'S 173°58.88'W