Saturday 5 December 2015

Singapore and beyond

We flew from Kelowna to Singapore leaving Friday at 7:15 AM. This necessitated getting up 4:00 AM to insure we arrived at the airport on time. The Vancouver to Guangzhou leg was 13 hours long in a very cramped seat. We had a short turnaround in Guangzhou and there was some concern as to whether we would catch the flight as we had to change terminals. Fortunately the flight was late departing for Singapore and we had lots of time to catch the flight. Unfortunately our bags didn't make it. We arrived at 11PM Singapore time which was far too late to catch a ferry to the marina where No Regrets is located. We had booked a motel in Singapore and we were told our bags would arrive at 12:30 pm the next day. It was nice to sleep in an air conditioned room. This morning we toured downtown Singapore melting in the heat. We took the transit MRT downtown and then to the airport to collect our bags. We are now waiting at the Tanah Merah ferry terminal waiting for the 4:20 ferry to Nongsa. It is a 35 minute ferry ride. We were tickled to get the seniors rate on the ferry. There is a shuttle from the ferry to the Marina. There was a 10 km race and a marathon going on while we were downtown. The streets were blocked off and there were runners everywhere, some participating and some finished. Also the 8th ASEAN Para Games are on in Singapore at the moment. We saw para athletes around and had two volunteers from the games helped us locate and negotiate the transit system. 
Singapore theatre centre we nicknamed it the porcupine building. 
Marina Sands Hotel with the Science Centre with the neat architecture in front of it
ASEAN Para games mascot. 
Marina Sands hotel close up
Close up of the Science museum 

Friday 23 October 2015

My apologies

I neglected ected to tell you all we arrived safely in MacKay, Australia on August 31. On route from Vanuatu we had some interesting times. One of the boats we were traveling with Bluewind contracted us to ask medical advice as the crew Ruy was very sick with a high fever and unable to swallow. Using our sailmail using the SSB (Single Side Band) radio we were able to contact the crew member not on board but who is a medical doctor. He called Bluewind on their satellite phone from the US and determined that Ruy required stronger medication than Bluewind had on board. We had a stash of medicine on board that had been left by that same Doctor. As we were less than 15 miles from Bluewind we arranged a transfer. Using a washed out peanut butter jar we put a sealed bag inside with the antibiotics. We tied a small string around the lip of the jar and attached that to a throwable rope. We then found a small water bottle and partly filled it with water and tied a small line around the water bottle & attached it to the other end of the throwable rope.
Here we are approaching Bluewind
Zeke throws the water bottle
Direct hit. He hit the sail. James can retrieve the water bottle. 
Zeke ready to send the medicine
James pulls it over. 
Also on this trip No Regrets accomplished something they have tried many times to accomplish. From noon to noon over a 24 hour period we broke the 200 miles per day barrier. We went 225 nautical miles in 24 hours. Our average speed was 9.5 knots. At times we were riding down waves at 12 knots, sometimes 14, occasionally at 16 and twice at 18. 
Upon arrival in Australia we had 5 uniformed officers on board and a sniffer dog that left dog hair all over my bed. The dog got excited so they bring a drug & explosives analyzer device and find traces of pseudo epinephrine on board which we can't explain. We are finally passed but need to wait on board while we wait for the quarantine inspection. The agricultural guy is delayed and when he arrives he apologizes as someone is sick today & he had a freighter to inspect. We were told they could confiscate your meat. Even canned meat and vegetables and fruit. They inspect your boat with an underwater camera and if you have barnacles they haul you out & clean the boat immediately at your expense. Fortunately he only found weevils in a bag of pasta and book lice in a basket Zeke has bought. The book lice and weevils are not a problem as they already have them in Australia. 
I will fill in a few of the gaps over the next few days. 
On September 7 I flew home to Canada. I will return to No Regrets on December 5. More to come

Wednesday 26 August 2015

On Our way to Australia

As the other boats were departing our anchorage at Oyster Bay Resort I was at the top of the mast in the bosun's chair attaching the screecher halyard that Bill had spliced earlier that day. It was my first time ever up a mast in a bosun's chair. You get a great view from up there. We got away around 3 PM and we had to go part way down the island of Santo and then through a channel to get to the west side of the island. By the time we got to open water it was 8:30 PM. We were well behind all the other boats at this point. Chapter 2 had some problems with their depth finder so they had stopped in the channel and we were not far behind them. By the time I woke up at 3 AM, Chapter 2 was behind us. The winds had picked up to 23 to 28 knots and we had a double reef in the main. We were slowly gaining on Tahawus and BlueWind. Sometime around noon the winds died to 18 to 22 knots and we shook out a reef in the main. We slowly crept up on Tahawus and as we got close they seemed to speed up. Around 5:30 PM we finally got by them. We had been averaging 9.2 knots for the day. Sometimes our speed over ground was 6.5 and other times it was 15 knots. I was soon in bed in preparation for my 3 AM shift at the helm. Upon awaking I'm told we are 1 mile behind Bluewind. At 3:35 AM we finally passed Bluewind. At noon today No Regrets had it's first ever over 200 mile day at 225 nautical miles made good. Our average speed for the 24 hours was 9.5 knots or perhaps a bit faster. We have beautiful blue skies at the moment and the winds are starting to decrease to 15 to 20 knots. Spirits are high and we are hoping to arrive in MacKay by Sept. 1. Click on the tracker link to the right and you can check our position. -------------------------------------------------

Wednesday 12 August 2015


I'm going to do a little bit of a different blog post. I'm going to start with the present and work backward in time. When I get tired I will quit, mail this off and then continue hopefully tomorrow. I was just outside star gazing with Zeke. We saw several meteors (shooting stars). One in particular was very bright and went a long way across the sky. A real treat to see. We were using our Star Guide app to identify different stars in the sky. The southern sky is a lot different than what we are used to in the north. We were both bundled up in our fleece jackets and I had on long pants. As we travel further south into winter it is getting noticeably colder. We had a great meal prepared by Bill tonight and the salad was made by Zeke. We ate like kings, the salad was a real treat. We arrived about 3:30 or 4 o'clock today at Malua Bay. I was once again allowed to bring the boat into the bay and set the anchor. Excellent experience. Shortly after our arrival I donned my snorkelling gear a headed for Drina. I was hoping to get Dan (Doina's 13 year old son) and take him to a neat inlet I spotted on the way in. I was informed that Drina had arrived about noon just as another boat was lifting anchor. Upon their arrival they were met by a dugout canoe. Drina requested the canoe return in an hour as they were not ready to head to shore. It was the chief's son who was welcoming them and took them to shore. After chatting with Michael (captain on Drina) for some time I was going to swim back to No Regrets to inform them I was headed for shore to see if I could catch up with Dan and Doina. Michael said they were headed to the blue pool. I then figured I would just have Michael call No Regrets on the radio and then I could head directly to shore. Michael was able to get them on the radio so off I went. As I approached shore heading for the mouth of the river I could feel the cold fresh water and could see the poor visibility caused by the mixing of the fresh and salt water as I described when we were in Nuie. I climbed up the beach where there were 2 small naked kids about 2 or 3 years old and a lady who may have been digging for crabs. I asked her if she spoke English and she said no and waved her hands. As I walked over the rise in the beach and up to the river I saw the figure of a boy that looked about Dan's size. I called his name several times and I heard a lot of talking and laughing in a different language. They were on the same side of the river as me. They disappeared and soon were on the opposite side of the river from me. I asked if they spoke English and they said YES. I asked if they knew where the people from the boat were and they said at the bool up that way. I figured it couldn't be far so with my goggles snorkel and fins in hand I headed up the beach to see if there was a path I could follow. I found one and was headed inland and looked back to see 4 boys who had crossed the river once again and were headed toward me. Two were chopping open coconuts with machetes. They came up and I asked their names and the oldest one Smitty introduced them all. Following our greeting I asked if the people from the other boat were up that way and they assured me they were. I turned and headed toward a large open area that I determined was a soccer field. They pointed to the building just above the soccer field and told me it was the school. I headed up a path across the field and Smitty turned toward the corner of the field and said this way. We will take you there. We headed a few steps up the road. The road headed across the river a ways up and at the river it was concrete and you just drove through the river. After our few steps we headed up this path that ran parallel to the river. A short way up we crossed the river. There were a few spots I had to watch my step. I had bare feet and did not have my glasses with me having swam to shore. I clamoured up the rocky slope on the other side of the river with only one hand to steady myself as I had my snorkel, goggles and fins in the other hand. I was wishing at this point that I had left them on the beach. I had figured Dan and Doina would only be few 100 feet inland. I was having to pick my way carefully through the rocks and twigs and shrubbery to insure I didn't trip or cut my feet. All the kids but one were wearing flip flops and were ahead on me. The one behind me was barefoot and was up and down the hill beside the trail hacking with his machete and looking for coconuts I think. We came to a place were 3 cows were tied up and I asked how many cows the town had. I had found out earlier there were about 100 people living in the town. l more thing to dodge, cow patties! I was told there were 3 cows. The third one was tied near the path and they warned me to go slow but too late the cow was headed very quickly to the other end of his rope so that he was behind me rather than in front of me. We continued on and had to climb over rocks. At one point one of the young fellows offered me his flip flops. I declined, telling him I was doing fine. I was doing my best to keep up with these 4 kids. We crossed the river 2 more times and they warned me it was slippery. I could see the rocks were all covered with green grass growing on them. They assure me it was not far so on we went. At one point where we had to climb up over a few big boulders one of the young fellows offered to carry my mask snorkel and fins. I gladly let him have them so I could make better time and possibly keep up these guys. We finally arrive at the bool (as they called it ( Michael had called it the blue pool)) and there was no Dan or Doina in sight. Smitty and the other 2 boys had gone on ahead perhaps to more pools up the way or to a spot they thought the chiefs son may have taken Dan and Doina. I asked if they swam there and they told me yes but that it was too cold right now. Smitty said lets head back so we crossed the stream at the lower end of the pool where I splashed water over my face arms and legs to try get some of the salt off from swimming to shore from the boat. At one point I had told the fellow with me that I didn't have my glasses and that I was not wearing shoes so I had to be careful. While we were standing by the pool I'm sure this young fellow told Smitty all this information in their native tong. Smitty was constantly having to interpret to tell me what they said as all of them know how to speak English but spoke to me in their language. Smitty announced we would take a different route back. One that would be easier as I had no shoes. On route I asked how old they were. Smitty was 19. There were 2- 14 year olds and a 15 year old. Smitty announced his mother was 34 and his dad was 37. I said to him. Your mother was 15 when you were born. He was shocked. I said that is the same age as Kevin here. I asked Kevin how he would feel about having a son at his age. We were walking through what looked like banana trees so I asked if that was what they were and I was assured they were bananas. We passed a tree that had fallen over the path. I asked what kind of tree it was and was informed it was the white tree. It was the tree used to make dug out canoes. I told Smitty he needed to come and make his dugout canoe out of this fallen tree. Soon we were at the toilet and then we passed by a few houses and then the school. I saw the sign that said Malua Adventist. I confirmed the school was run by the 7 day adventist. We headed for the beach where there were another 6 guys lying in the sand. I was quickly introduced to them all and found out there ages. They asked where I was from and I told them Canada. One of the younger ones said oh yah. One of the 19 year olds said "Do you know where that is" the younger one answered yes. I asked him to show us all by drawing it. He said he could not. I offered to show them and they all were very interested. I drew a rough North America Central America and South America. I then drew in the approximate position of Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand. I went back to North America and told them there was a line called the 49th parallel and it was the dividing line between Canada and the United States and I drew it in. I circled Canada and said this is Canada where I live. Then I pointed out the United Sates. I drew in the Caribbean and told them that was where I started in January and pointed to all the places we had stopped in the Pacific on our way to Vanuatu. Later some girls showed up and I went and spoke to them. I asked them why they were not with the boys "Were they afraid of the boys" Yes was the answer. There were 3 of them Annie is the only one of those 3 that I recall. Soon 3 more girls arrived and in chatting they wanted to know where I was from. I said. "Let's go down to the map I drew for the boys. Then I caught myself and said "I'll draw another one right here. I went through the whole spiel again and this time I used a small stick I picked up to put in the 49th parallel. The church bell rang for the 2nd time and I asked if they were going to go to church. The answer was No. I then told them I would love to go to church could I go in what I had on and they said yes. I looked out at No Regrets and the sun that was very close to setting and asked. Will it be dark when church is over. The answer was yes so I said I need to go and swim back to the boat. As I walked onto the beach Smitty asked. Are you going to swim out to the boat. I assured him I was. He said something 2 or 3 times that I could not understand. Then he said canoe. We will take you out in the canoe. I said that would be great. As we walked down the beach I said I'll race you all to the canoe. Smitty heard me and said OK. Off I went hoping to get a good head start. Smitty was there stride for stride. As we approached I said look out I'm going to beat you. David, where were you when I needed you with your incredible speed. I picked up my pace but alas Smitty was there beside me the whole way. Playing with the old man I am sure. Rubin came up shortly and lifted the canoe sending one of the younger boys off, I assumed to get a paddle. In lifting the canoe the outrigger came off so he sent another younger one to get a rock. As he pounded the small sticks back into the outrigger it was obvious he knew exactly what he was doing. 2 young boys returned with paddles and Smitty and Rubin got in the dugout canoe. They motioned for me to get in the front and I said I would like to paddle. They told me to sit on the 2 cross pieces that came over from the outrigger that sort of made a seat. As I was about to sit down they all said. Can I shake your hand. I turned and shook the first boys hand then made a fist and lifted it. He made a fist and tapped it. I did this with all 12 or 15 of them standing on the beach. Finally with Smitty and Rubin in the canoe I went to sit in what I felt was the seat of honour in the stern of the canoe. As I sat the canoe almost went under water. Smitty decided he needed to get off so I thanked him for everything and we were off. As we approached No Regrets I hailed them and got them to get a photo of me. Stay tuned and we will get the best one posted on the blog when we have an internet connection again. Once I was safely on No Regrets I walked into the pilot house and asked if I could show Rubin the boat. The answer was "Yes Of Course" I asked Rubin if he wanted to come aboard and I'm sure he was thrilled. I showed him around and pointed out all the sails. Zeke asked me what you called those things. I flunked the test forgetting that they were called dagger boards. I'm excused right Ann, I was brought up on a mono hull without a dagger board... We invited Rubin inside but to his credit he likely did not feel comfortable as he had just met me as we were getting in the canoe and I'm sure he didn't feel comfortable going into an enclosed area with 3 strange men. He asked about the solar panels and how much the produced. I showed him the wind generator and the hydro generator and he was very impressed. I bid Rubin good bye. What a thrilling day meeting all those kids. The school has 55 kids. There are grades 1 to 10. For grades 11 and 12 they need to go to the main island. Smitty and the 4 boys I first met as well as about 30 other children come from south of here by truck. Smitty has been here a year and will remain here for a 2nd year. If I understood correctly a lot of the kids that don't live in the village of 100 people all come from the same place. I actually hope to swim in again in the morning prior to our 8 AM departure and get a few more of my questions answered. Stay tuned.

Thursday 6 August 2015

The Fun Continues

Since my last post we have been traveling toward Vanuatu. We had the winds from behind as I described in my last blog and it was quite comfortable. We did 191 nautical miles in the 24 hours after we turned Southwest at 4 PM. As the wind started to come more from behind we put up the small spinnaker which is able to handle winds up to 25 knots. The next day the winds decreased and we put up the big spinnaker (the para sail) and we were getting good speed. Bill noticed that one of our shrouds (a metal wire that holds up the mast) was starting to unravel meaning some of the strands were no longer holding. After closer inspection and thought we decided we needed to put a line around the spreader behind the mast and down to where the shroud attached to the deck in case the shroud decided to give way. Down came the para sail for a smoother ride and up the mast went Zeke to attach the line around the mast 23 feet up. Once we got the line in place and attached up went the para sail again. Soon after the wind died and Zeke decided we should motor, charge the batteries and see if we could still make a hope for arrival time before customs closed on Friday. The wind al=most completely died so down came the para sail. I think we were in the eye of the storm at this point because it was clear skies and very little or no wind. Following a great dinner(according to the crew) which I prepared it was off to bed with the engine still chugging along. We had received an email indicating if we did not arrive by customs closing time we could still come ashore for the weekend and deal with customs on Monday. There was a great sigh of relief on board. Off to bed for the 2 of us not on shift. I awoke to the boat violently bouncing up and down in my berth at the front of one of the hulls in the catamaran. After attempting to sleep for about an hour I decided to move to the pilot house to see if I could get any sleep. Both Bill and Zeke were in there. I asked Zeke "How come you are not in bed?" His reply was "I was too worried about the shroud we just broke." Good thing we put the line up just in case it broke!! The wind was 25 to 30 knots and we were banging into them. At 3 AM I started my shift after a little bit more sleep. Part way through Zeke came up. Guess he wasn't getting much sleep and I think he was looking for something to eat. I went out for my regular check to insure there were no boats close by and got a shock. The wind generator was tilted back at a 45 degree angle rather the straight up and down. I told Zeke. We got on our bathing suits because there was a fair amount of spray flying and grabbed a line to try to bring the wind generator back to vertical. After several attempts and a second line and a half hour or more of work we finally got the wind generator more or less secured and close to vertical. As we entered the pilot house I turned to Zeke and said "Are we having fun yet". We are now about 75 miles from our destination and 18 miles from Lolvavavana Passage. Winds are 18 to 23 knots and we are headed into the waves.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Does it get any better than this?

Sailing experience - that is of the reasons I am on this trip. We started the passage from Tuvalu to Santo, Vanuatu in bright sunshine with great winds. In looking at some of the forecasts there appeared to be a small rotation that would start just about the time we figured we would get to Santo. The rotation was to be to the southwest of Santo so it appeared it would not affect us at all. The first day we had a bit of rain but we had been having rain every day in Tuvalu so it was no big deal. As the sail progressed the wind picked up and on the GRIB files we were receiving, the forecast was for big wind and big seas and the rotation centre had moved to a spot not too far from where we were. We decided to hove to for 12 hours overnight to give us a break from the constant pounding and to check out a new set of GRIB files in the morning to determine if we could proceed. At this point Zeke wanted to head south, Bill wanted to stay put as he had a rough passage and did not want to get feeling any worse. I was asked "If this was your boat what would you do" My response was "Head back to where we came from" But it not being my boat I was willing to do whatever the guys decided. The next morning it was decided to head north to get away from the big winds and to possibly head west and go up and around the storm centre and then come south where the winds were predicted to be much lighter. Off we went north and the wind forced us west. Finally we tacked and headed north east. It was then decided after much debate to hove to for 18 hours and see if we could slip south and then west and miss the big seas that had Bill concerned. We had a glorious sunny afternoon and a nice peaceful night and everyone got a good sleep when they weren't on watch. The next morning well rested and in light wind we decided to head south after reviewing the latest GRIB files we got on Sailmail. The seas began to get bigger as expected. The wind picked up as expected. Heading south we were banging into the waves a bit. At 4 PM we decided to head strait for Santo which was south west and very close to downwind. This made our boat much more comfortable going with the waves rather than banging into them. Soon after we turned SW it started to rain as predicted. Zeke had been out trimming the sails and I said. "You didn't go out for a fresh water shower?" His response "I thought about it for just about a minute, and then decided against it" 20 minutes later I decided I couldn't pass up an opportunity like this. (I fondly remember after arriving in Hiva Hoa in the Marqueses in 2008 with my sister and brother in law. Shortly after we anchored we had a torrential downpour. We had been watching our water for the whole 22 day trip from the Galapagos and here was more fresh water that we had seen for the whole trip. On went the bathing suits out came the shampoo and soap. The water was pouring off the tarp that was used for a sun shade over the cockpit. We were like kids soaking up the fresh water. After traveling around the world 7 years later I'm sure my sister can remember that glorious time. So I got on my suit, got the shampoo, soap and a towel. It took a while to get wet and to rinse my hair a few times in the water dripping off the triple reefed main sail. But it sure feels good to be clean. Then it started to pour. The wind picked up. I'm told we were going 18 knots over the ground as we surfed down one of the big wave. I just stood and marvelled at the waves, how No Regrets was handling them, at the pouring rain, and at the super clean feeling you can only get when the rain is pouring off you after a good soaping down. As the rain continued I got out a bucket and collected rain water pouring off the main. Got out a few dirty clothes and the laundry soap and began to wash. To rinse I just needed to put the clothes on the edge of the cockpit or over a winch. By the time I got around to wringing all the clothes the first one was ready for its next wringing. It doesn't get any better than this. Zipping along downwind on a sailboat, Squeaking clean, with clean clothes. I'm sure my sister would agree.... -------------------------------------------------

Saturday 1 August 2015

Decision Made

We have decided to head north to miss the storm.  There is a definite rotation and I am pleased to say that we chose the safest solution.  We will travel north until we are out of the storm's way and then turn west and eventually south or south-west to our destination Santo, Vanuatu.
Click on the link to the right and follow our progress.

What's Up!

Some  of you may have been following us on the position reporter.  You can find it as a link to the right.  We left Funafuti, Tuvalu headed for Santo, Vanuatu on Thursday at 11:23 AM.  We have had all different kinds of weather from no wind to 28 knots of wind and everything in between.  We have had beautiful sunshine for part of the trip and torrential downpours as well.  So what's up?  We decided to heave to at 7 PM last night to determine what is happening with a low that is developing to the west of us.  To be safe we are staying in a position that will allow us to easily retreat to the north-east should the need arise.  Our original plan was to head directly south and then west to Santo but Bill who has been struggling with sea sickness did not want to enter the 4 or 4.5 metre seas predicted to the south of us.  We currently have 1 to 2 metre seas with 18 to 21 knots of wind.  We will review the GRIB files in a few minutes when all are awake and determine our next step.  Drina the other Blue Planet Odyssey boat that left at the same time as us decided to heave to about 50 miles north-east of us and are now slowly motoring north until the potential low has moved off or has dissipated.  Stay tuned an updated GRIB file will come soon and we will decide our next course of action.

Friday 24 July 2015

Poem from the Philippian Sea

We recently enter the Philippian sea. My email regarding my heave to experience was added as a post. Here is a poem about it as well.

We are hove to and now it is time to wait
We don't want to be early and we don't want to be late 
At just the right moment we will decide to depart 
You need to know the end time to pick the start

We will sit and wait until the time is right
It is the big waves we don't want to fight 
The wind it blows at an incredible rate
With it blowing this hard we won't be late 

We need the sunlight to go through the pass
It's got to be done right or then alas
We will hit the reef or just maybe a rock
Then we won't make it safely to the dock

The dock or the harbour where it is safe and sound 
With your anchor planted firmly in the ground 
To hold you tight to the bottom until
Your ready to go on another sailing thrill

Sailing is not for all that is to be sure
But my love of sailing is very pure
The wind, the waves and a boat built to survive 
What the ocean throws at you and keep you alive 

Thursday 23 July 2015

Meeting the Prime Minister of Tuvalu

Doina, Zeke & I arrived at the dock at 8:30 AM. We were met by a fellow asking if we were Micheal on Drina. We told him were not but that Doina was from Drina. We were informed that the Prime Minister would like us to attend a workshop in the building beside the airport terminal at 9 AM. We were to meet with another gentleman Flyodd so off I went to find Flyodd to let him know we had been summoned by the prime minister and ask him if we could meet with him in the afternoon. I located Flyodd and made arrangements to meet him in the afternoon. Upon arriving at the workshop we were informed that the Prime Minister would be signing the UN Coalition Against Corruption. At 9:00 the Prime Minister arrived. Then the Minister of Finance arrived. The attorney general arrived.  A few other dignitaries arrived a few minutes later and the MC started. Unfortunately the majority of the workshop was in Tuvalian. After the MC's opening comments & welcome to everyone a religious leader spoke and I think he ended in a prayer. Next the Prime Minister addressed the audience and told us Do the right thing & do things in the right way.  Other countries should commit to the agreement in their own country. There is lots of corruption in these other countries In many cases National & commercial interests take precedence. He ended with a plea to Save our homes.  The Prime Minister then signed coalition 
A lady from the Attorney Generals office explained the agreement. Then it was time for tea. The person Doina knew in the finance department came and spoke to us and indicated he would introduce us to the Honorable prime minister Enele S Sopoaga. Once the prime minister got his food we were introduced. He encouraged us to get something to eat and he would meet with us later. What a spread. There was crispy chicken, Tuvalu's version of donuts. All sorts of fruits and vegetables. Pancakes and sandwiches and grilled sandwiches. A type of lasagna made with corn beef I think. Several desserts including lemon cake, chocolate cake, bunt cake. They also had crepes rolled up and hot chocolate to drink. Once we finished eating the Prime Minister came and chatted with us. He was very interested to hear Doina had been here for the independent in 1979 and the prime minister told us his brother had been involved in the acquisition of independence as had one of the other dignitaries. He was very disappointed that Jimmy Cornell was not with us. He told us he would have loved to meet him. He told us his big focus was Save Tuvalu Save the world from climate change. Zeke piped up to say we should all get T-shirts made and he loved that idea. He felt in his position that maybe he couldn't wear one in Parliament or when he was meeting dignitaries. He was tickled that Jimmy had made the focus of the BPO climate change and that we were visiting Tuvalu to bring attention to climate change. He encouraged us to raise awareness of Tuvalu's dilemma in any way we could and to spread the word
Here we are sitting with the Prime Minister . I have decided that I will write a personal letter to the Right Honourable Prime Minister Steven Harper informing him of my meeting with Prime Minister
Enele S Sopoaga, the need for the Canadian Government to take climate change seriously and the seriousness of the issue particularly for this nation who are about to loose their homes due to the rise in sea level. 

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Thar she blows

We spent a day getting the hydraulic pump on our auto pilot replaced by Trouble in Paradise. Great name for a mechanic wouldn't you say. I may have told you about Ian in an earlier blog. He is from Britain and lived in Canada for a good part of his life. Most recently in Vancouver fixing boats. He never complains and nothing seems to phase him. The next day we were off to Kentunu Island on the east side of Vava'u. On route what to our glorious eyes do appear but a Humpback whale. Zeke's keen eye sight picked out the whales right away and he got some great photos. 
Here you can see the whale glistening in the sun. I've just learned that these are humpback whales not Beluga whales as I previously thought. I stand corrected. After seeing the whales we proceeded through the pass where we saw the Manta Rays but didn't see anymore Manta Rays. We proceeded through a 2nd set of passes that led us to Kenutu Island. Upon arrival we could hear the surf crashing on the other side of the island. 
While there we walked the beach and took a walk to the far side of the island. Upon arrival we discovered a tree house which we of course had to explore. 

We watched the crashing surf from the top of the cliffs.  We walked as far as we could and then headed back to the beach.  When we got there we could hear the waves exploding out of blow holes. We looked for another path to the blow holes but were unable to find one. The tide was out so we walked to the north end of the island and watched the surf crashing there. 

On route we saw some great sea creatures. 

Zeke headed offshore and got some great pictures of fish and saw an eel. 

The next morning I was rewarded with a spectacular sight

With the rainbow is a promise of a great day ahead.  We had a great sail back to Neiafu. Sailing in Vava'u is tremendous as we had great winds and flat seas because it is surrounded by protective reefs.  We tested our new auto pilot hydraulic pump to insure it was working properly. The next few days we spent provisioning for the next 2 months of sailing. 

Helping the locals

We spent part of 2 days and a night back at my favourite anchorage in Vava'u at Vaka'eitu Island. While there I finally got to use my training in testing children's eyes as we tested 7 kids eyes and one 25 year old. All but one where children of one family that lived in what appeared to be a one room house. I was in charge of testing the near vision of the kids. We had 6 stations set up. 2 to test near vision. 2 to test distance vision,  one for a machine that tests for anisometropia and one data entry station. Janet from Chapter 2 set everything up and once we got underway we had all 8 tested in less than an hour I think. Following the eye testing we were invited to a feast with roast pig, fish, salad, breadfruit and some deserts. The next day the guys on No Regrets helped the same fellow with repairs to his boat. He explained the problem and we went back to No Regrets to determine if we had what he needed to make his repairs. We came up with a solution and took it to him explaining the steps he needed to follow for a successful patch to the hole in his boat. Apparently a previous patch he had put on his boat had given way. 

Quite a night

At a little before 9 PM I was woken up by Bill shouting my name. Those that know me know I don't wake up easily. I answered and was told that I was needed on deck. I arrived in the pilot house to find Zeke struggling with the wheel. I'm informed that it is blowing 30 knots and we need to take down the para sail( a spinnaker). I'm asked if I'm awake enough to proceed and answer yes so my next question is do we need our life jackets. The answer is yes bring them all. I grab all 3 put mine on and head for the trampoline at the front of the boat.   Bill gets the lines used to pull the fibreglass sock down over the para sail untangled. Once we are ready we check with Zeke at the helm to make sure he is ready. He is so he releases the sheet and down haul on one side & Bill starts to pull the sock down dousing the para sail. I notice he is being pulled forward so I grabbed the down haul above where Bill is holding and using all my body weight pull down. The sock continues to come down over the chute at the front of the para sail. As we got the sock to the bottom I tried to gather in the rest of the sail and the sheets and down hauls. I'm unable to hold them as they are flapping too much. Bill hollers. "We need to drop the halyard ". Zeke says he's got it & Bill and I gather in the para sail in its sock as it comes down the best we can. We then put out a small part of the jibe. Bill and I gather up the para sail and tie it to the trampoline after coiling up the sock down haul lines. Bill announces that we will leave the down haul line and sheets attached as he hopes we will put the para sail up again in the morning. He then thanks me for coming to his rescue when he was being pulled forward. We tied the para sail to the trampoline.  I asked if we are done and if I can head back to bed. 
At 2:45 I'm awake and get ready for my shift. On deck I notice there is lightning in front of us and to the starboard side. After checking the radar I determine there is no rain in a 48 mile radius around us so we shouldn't be in for any squalls for a while. The stars are brilliant with no moon. In the distance I notice a flashing light. I determine as it goes behind clouds and then appears that it's an airplane. Then I notice a 2nd one just in front of it. A half hour later I notice a 3rd plane on the same flight path. Through the night I observed 5 shooting stars. Someone will have to check to determine if the South Pacific has meteor showers or had a meteor shower in the early morning on July 21. All in all a very exciting night. Didn't spot any boats though

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Incredibly Cool!

We are currently hove to.  That means we are sitting in one spot in the ocean and not moving. The sail is back winded(means it is such a manner that it gives no forward motion to the boat) the rudder is full the opposite direction so the boat just sits in the water.  We do have a bit of a course over ground of about 1 knot due to the wind pushing us along.
This configuration allows you to sit and wait. (maybe wait out a storm) or in our case we would arrive at our destination at midnight so we will sit here and leave when we figure we will arrive in the daylight tomorrow.
This is apparently the first time the guys have tried it on this boat.
We plan to arrive in Funafuti, Tuvalu tomorrow where we will join another BPO boat Drina which has Doina (Jimmy Cornell's daughter (Jimmy is the planner of the Blue Planet Odyssey BPO))and Doina's son Dan on board.

Tap Tap Tap go the sticks on the stone floor

Sunday morning I awoke early as normal 5:30 AM and decided to get ready for church (which on Sunday is at 7 AM, every other day it is at 5 AM).  I quickly had some granola and shaved.  I got Bill to drop me off at the boat ramp and was on my way to town at 6 AM.  I walked up over the hill and down to the main road (about a quarter or half mile).  I likely walked another quarter mile or longer before hitching a ride into town.  The couple had 7 children, a young girl and baby in the front seat with the parents, an older girl in the back seat with me and 2 boys in the box of the truck. 2 children were not in the vehicle.  I got to the main church in town at 6:28. At 6:30 the bells began to peel. There were already a few people inside so in I went.  at 6:40 a fellow arrived and sat 1 row up from me and across the aisle.  He had a 12 string guitar which he proceeded to tune.  He then started to play (practising his songs for he morning) and singing along with the most melodious voice. A real treat to listen to him quietly singing.  In Jimmy Cornell's guide it tells that the people of Wallis are some of the best singers around.  I knew I was in for a treat once I heard this fellow warming up.  At 6:45 the bells rang again.  The seats around this fellow were starting to fill up and he was busy passing sheets of words out to the choir. The seats of the church were starting to fill as were the ones around and next to me. A middle aged lady arrived and sat 1 row in front of the fellow with the guitar and also started to warm up her voice.  What an incredible sound.  The church is made of bricks cut out of lava and there are some bricks cut out of coral as well.  Stayed tuned and I will post a picture of the church and the bricks in a later blog when I have an internet connection. The floor under the pews is concrete but the hall ways and the area around raised area at the front (perhaps it is called the dais.  The alter boys and men of clergy all came out - 15 perhaps more of them -dressed in white robes.  6 or 8 fellows came in carrying long staffs with a carved cross on top and carving the first foot or 2 from the top.  The staffs were 7 or 8 feet long with a spiral groove carved into the rest of the staff. They surrounded the raised area at the front and 2 were in the corners of the church at the front.  Suddenly the fellow at the front of the church banged his staff on the stone floor 3 or 4 times.  The bells started to ring and the priest entered.  There was a short prayer or welcome in Wallisian and the choir began to sing. The most glorious sound burst forth from the mainly female choir with 3 men.  A real treat to the ears.  As the service progressed I would watch the lips of the fellow with the guitar and was able to add a bit of bass to the most melodious sound as the choir and a few of the congregation sang.  At some point the priest would sing a phrase and the congregation would repeat it.  During the 14 minute sermon or address from the priest I was able to understand 3 words that he repeated several times Papua New Guinea...  Once the offering was taken once again TAP TAP TAP goes the staff on the stone floor.  Several of the others with staffs had obviously moved to the back of the church (which had 250 to 300 people in it) and suddenly they all started tapping their staffs on the stone floor.  The fellow in front of me had tapped the floor several times during the service.  Following the offering communion was served.  At the end of the 1 hour 20 minute service I went and went over to the fellow with the guitar and said "Excuse-Moi". I then asked if he understood English.  He replied no so I told him the music was very nice and thanked him very much in French.  I turned to go and he extended his hand and I shook it.
I quickly walked the quarter mile to the highway where I would need to try catch a ride so as to arrive before all the church goers had left.  I was picked up by 3 ladies and one had lived in Australia for 6 months and could speak pretty decent English.  I asked her why they tapped the sticks on the floor and after asking and going saying tap tap tap she finally got what I was asking and said "It's to let people know to stand up".

Monday 13 July 2015

Goodbye Vava'u,Farewell Tonga- I'll Be Baaack!

It is with mixed feelings that I leave Tonga and Vava'u Islands.  We left our anchorage about 1 PM on July 12 and had incredible sights to see on our way out.  First we observed Late which is a volcanic island in the distance.  Then I spotted whales dead ahead. These whales seemed to be just on the surface enjoying life.  At one point they were likely 100 metres(maybe more) away and they seemed to be just floating there.  I watched as they slowly disappeared behind us with several whales blowing at the same time.  We then saw some more whales ahead. What an incredible sight.
As I watched Vava'u disappear in the distance I could only think (in the words of Arnold Schwartzeneger) "I'll be baaack"  I need to share this incredible spot with my family.
I will fill in the missing parts of the trip in Vava'u in future blogs so please come back to read and see the pictures of this glorious spot.
We have been underway for over 2 days now. Shortly after leaving we realized that No Regrets as usual was going too fast and we would get there before we wanted to.  We immediately put a reef in the main(reduced the amount of main sail we had up) to slow down. By supper time we put a 2nd reef in the main and reduced the size of the jibe.
We have now decided to change our destination to the Wallis Island group and not go to Tokelau as originally planned.  We have taken down the main sail completely and the jib is partly furled up.  At this moment the wind is 26 to 28 knots and we are going 9 knots.  The waves are getting big and the boat for the most part is level.  I just hopped up and we reduced the jibe a bit more. Now we are going 7 to 8 knots.
Many of you can stop reading now as I think that I am about to start to philosophy.  As I said in my first sentence it is with mixed feelings that I leave Tonga.  Do we know what we want out of life?  Are there dreams - deep down dreams- that you still have unfulfilled?  We need to all ask ourselves these questions and be truly honest with ourselves. As I travel across this vast Pacific ocean one has to wonder about many things, about many places, and about many thoughts.  With all this in mind I will let you get lost in your thoughts, your dreams and your life.

Sunday 5 July 2015

The Humpback whales beckon

We awoke this morning to the sound of whales. The sun was not up yet but there was enough light to see. The whales were about 1/3 of a mile away and were obviously talking to each other. I saw them blow twice and surface 3 times. On one occasion I saw the fluke of a whales tail. It was an incredible sight. Even more exciting  was the fact we were seeing them in the wild without a tour guide taking us to see them. It certainly made my week. It was very tempting to hop in the dingy and follow them as they disappeared behind the island but you are not supposed to approach them.  You are also not to get too close to them.  The humpback whales come here every year to the warmer waters from the polar waters to have their young and because there are lots of krill for them to eat here. As I waited for the whales to appear I watched the rays (about 1 foot across)swim over our anchor and anchor chain. 
As there was very little wind we decided to take the old screecher down and put the new one up. Once we were done we had to try the new sail out. It worked wonderfully. We moved to a new anchorage on Nuku Island that has a great sand beach and the snorkelling was great along the reef. We later went and visited a deep cave
that we could dingy right into. It had a hole in the top.
On our way back to No Regrets we stopped & visited with Chapter 2 and Tahawus and we were invited for happy hour.  We spent a few hours on the beach. I learned a new technique in the art of building sand castles. It is called drizzling the sand
Here with 2 different colours of sand the effect is quite dramatic. 
 Zeke made brownies and we motored over to Port Maurelle for Happy hour. We caught up on all of their adventures since we last saw them and when we were done we moved to Neiafu and took our favourite mooring ball near Kjell's place. 
If you go to
And go to the bottom of the post you will see the faint picture of the whale. 

Tapana and Fetoko Islands

Our next stop Tapana Island. We took a mooring ball the belonged to the Ark Gallery
which is a floating art gallery run by an artist from Oregon who has spent 35 years here. The next day I walked into Neiafu for supplies. On my return I trucked up a steep bank where the cliff has abated a bit and across a large tall grass (grass as tall as I was) field to join Zeke and Bill at an archeological site
where the Tongans had cut coral slabs from the beach. The next day we took the dingy into town and brought back this huge box
with our screecher and the box with the hydraulic pump for our auto pilot.  That afternoon we headed off for Fetoko Island. I was at the helm negotiating a tricky pass between the coral and Zeke announced there were
Manta Rays to starboard side. These Rays were about 8 feet across. I was asked to circle back 4 times for great pictures and videos. When we got to Fetoko Island and attempted to anchor we did fine. I got the snorkel and fins out to insure that the anchor was well set & it was sitting on top of the rock. I tried to move it over onto a sandy spot but unfortunately it was 2 inches of sand on top of the rock. We finally got the anchor set & went to shore to visit Ben who told us to check out the tree house and his 9 sided buildings that were just being constructed. The view from the tree house
was spectacular and the balconies on the 9 sided houses
were over the water. The restaurant and kitchen area was built into the side of a hill. 

Thursday 2 July 2015

Visiting the many Islands of the Vava'u group

Our first stop was Hunga Island. We were actually on a mooring ball near Fofoa Island. While stopped here we did a hike up a very steep bank and followed a trail to a better traveled trail that took us to a beach. The next day I met a fellow Canadian who had been born in Winnipeg and spend considerable time in British Columbia prior to going to Belize and then moving to Tonga. 
From here we went to Vaka'eitu island where there is a very protected anchorage. When we landed we discovered a banyan tree that a local had made a place out of 
Can you believe the size of the tree 
From here we visited a very secluded beach by hiking over to it.
While there I found a very interesting discovery. Pumice on the beach. 
It actually floats 
That means that there has to be a volcano spewing pumice and ash at this moment or in the not to distant past. 

Our first few days in Neiafu

Upon arrival we had to go through customs, then immigration, next health and quarantine. We were then given a tour of the town by Kjell our BPO contact who is from Norway and sailed across in a 28 foot boat as far as Indonesia and then came back to Tonga where he now owns a resort called Mystic Sands. He is married and has an almost 2 year old son. We did the shopping we needed to do and had a great tour of town and the market. 
The next day we went into town for that shower with an unlimited amount of water. Unfortunately the water was cold so we have not been back since. We invited Kjell on board for coffee as he wanted to see No Regrets. He brought his son on board and I spent the entire time chasing him around the boat making sure he did not end up in the water. Those who know me know I love kids and had a great time.
He would stick his head into the pilot house window and make some noise then climb on top of the pilot house and stick his head in the hatch & get the attention of the people inside then he climbed over the boom and stuck his head in the other hatch. Then he wanted to slide down the windows into the cockpit which I wouldn't let him do  so we would climb down off the pilot house climb into the cockpit onto the floor and then up the other side ready for the next adventure or to do the same thing all over again. His parents told me the next day that he was exhausted when he got home. I was glad to hear that because I was exhausted chasing him around. A few days later we found a bakery in town. Once we made arrangements to have the screecher and a hydraulic pump for the auto pilot delivered we were ready to leave until they arrived. 

Trip from Niue to Vava'u, Tonga

We checked the weather and also had other boats let us know that the wind was about to change direction and start to blow strong so that the anchorage at Niue would become a rolly one. The decision was made that we would head to our next destination. We left around noon with the hope to arrive in daylight the following day. The first 24 hours was a great sail. It became apparent that we would be spending a 2nd night on the water. The wind began to build and by night fall we were having a pretty bouncy ride. We had slowed down so as not to arrive in the dark and because it made it a lot smoother ride at a slower speed. We came around Vava'u north end at 5 in the morning in the dark. It was blowing 23 to 28 knots and the rough seas continued almost until we were in the channel on the way to Neiafu which is the port of entry for Vava'u. We pulled up to the dock as advised and the officials arrived and suggested we move off the dock and take a mooring ball for our safety due to the high winds and waves. Kjell, our BPO contract was there to meet us & suggested we take a mooring ball at the lee end of the bay up near his house which we did. We were all glad to be out of the wind and were even more tickled to find out we were able to connect to Kjell's internet. 

Sunday 21 June 2015

Being a tourist in Niue

It is amazing how each place we visit is so different. We rented bikes & cycled up the island. Zeke had the Limu pools in mind for our first stop as it was recommended we visit the pools at low tide when we got our information from the very friendly lady at the information centre. We arrived to find there were people already in the pools. We donned our snorkelling masks and we were off. We immediately discovered that there were cool spots where the fresh water was coming in. Interestingly enough the mixing of the fresh water with the salt water made for poor visibility with the turbulence and the 2 different types of water trying to form one. The fish were spectacular as was the erosion of the limestone that makes up the island. 
Here I am in the Limu pools under an arch. 
We then had a short ride to the start of the walk into both the

Matapa Chasm which was a 7 minute walk in. Apparently you can jump in from one of the sides. We could here the surf crashing at the other end of the Chasm. We returned to the starting point and then took the 30 minutes trail to the 
Talava Arches. You can see arch taken through an arch in this photo. At low tide you are able to walk to the arch. While there we explored some caves in behind. 
There were stalagmites and stalactites that had met to form a column. This was pretty cool and great to explore. Just before arriving at the arches we had to go through a cave 
Here I have my hand on a stalagmite that is very smooth and I'm leaning against a column. On our bike ride home we stopped at Sails Bar. It has a gorgeous view out onto the ocean and it's claim to fame is 

The World's toughest golf course Par 1, 96.5 metres

Here is the tee box and you can see the pin

Here is a better view of what you are really facing to get there. While we were in Nuie we had to hoist our dingy out of the water when we got to shore
They had a fishing competition while we were in Niue

Here was the larges fish caught the day we were there to see the weighing. 76 kilograms. It is a bluefin tuna. Another use for the hoist that we used to lift our dingy out of the water. 

Check out the captain of No Regrets blog

I know I've been delinquent in posting blogs as of late. I will try to catch up. In the meantime please visit our boat No Regrets captain's blog and check out all the photos. Some with me in them. My goodness indeed. Go to the right. Click on Zeke's blog. To see where we are click on the 2nd link.

Friday 12 June 2015


Our passage from Maupiti to Niue took 7 days. The first few days we had light winds and No Regrets traveled along at 6 to 7 knots. When the wind was blowing from behind we put up the spinnaker which is a parasail. 
The last two days the wind picked up and the last night we took down the main sail and had only part of the jib up to slow down so we would not arrive in the dark. We were still traveling 6 to 7 knots in 22 to 25 knots of wind. 
Niue is a raised atoll made of limestone and is 10 miles (16 km) long. Upon arrival we checked in with customs. We then went to the tourists information and got great information on what to visit and where to get what we needed. We then toured the town visiting the Niue Yacht  Club (the biggest little yacht club with 1700 members) and there are only about 1000 residents on the island. 
Yesterday we walked to several sea tracks and saw some spectacular caves. 

We got a flavour for the island and the town of Alofi. The people are extremely friendly with many stopping to ask if we wanted a ride and offering good information on what to see. 


No Regrets with cliffs of Maupiti in the background. Note the moon beside the cliff jut below the first notch from the bottom. 
The fish I caught that we enjoyed 
View from the top of the mountain on Maupiti. No Regrets is the boat on the left and the pass is between the two islands above the three peaks. 
I'm about to head up the mountain at 6:45 AM. 
I climbed to the peak which is the left one of the two tiny bumps at end. 

Thursday 4 June 2015

It doesn't get any better than this!

Just finished filleting a 8 to 10 pound tuna which we caught at about 3:30PM.  Perfect time to allow time to fillet it and have it fresh for supper.
This morning I was up before dawn and at 6:45 was on my way to climb the mountain at Mauipiti.  A 15 minute walk along the road and then it took me 1 hour to reach the top.  The views on route were spectacular and once on top they were breath taking.  You will have to wait until I am off the boat and have internet to see the pictures. I had a 360 degree view.  I was back at the dock an hour after reaching the top after getting off the path by mistake on the way down and having to bushwack for a while to find the path.  I chose to do that rather than climb back up to where I knew I was last on the path.  I had company on the trip.  A dog came up the mountain with me and kept me company. I met a couple coming up about 10 minutes from the bottom.  The lady was giving the dog lots of scratches and I never saw the dog again so I'm sure he went up for a second time with them.
Zeke and Bill were just about to leave the dock when I arrived at the dock at 9:05.  We got the dingy lifted, took the motor off and were ready to leave by 10.
The winds were light but have picked up to 12 to 13 knots and we are sailing along at 7 knots.

The skies are blue with a few billowy clouds. The boat is not rocking too much and we are all looking forward to a tasty fresh tuna dinner.

Sunday 31 May 2015

On my way back to the boat

A lot has happened since my last post. We arrived in Tahiti (Papaetee to be exact).  I had been asked to leave Maggie so in checking my options I discovered it was cheaper to purchase a return ticket than a one way ticket. I spoke to all the boats who were continuing with the BPO to determine if any of them might need crew in the future. No one saw such a requirement. I was asked to sail one of the boats back to Seattle area via Hawaii. As I don't have captain's papers I asked them to insure the insurance on the boat would be valid if I was to deliver it back to Seattle. I was told by one of the boats that they were aware of someone who may be looking for crew & they would introduce me in the morning. We had an early BPO meeting to finalize the route the BPO was to take. Following that meeting it was determined that one of the owners of No Regrets would not be returning in Bora Bora as expected. I was asked to join No Regrets in Bora Bora. 
I'm on my way to Bora Bora now. 
In the meantime I flew back to Calgary where I met Barb and visited with my kids & grandkids. After a few days in Calgary we travelled through the mountains on a beautiful clear day with these beautiful sites 
Castle Mountain with some snow on it 

Mount Temple on the right over 11000 feet. 

Lake Loiuse in all it's glory 

Going over kicking Horse Pass
Rogers Pass 

I had lots of work to do while at home & then we were headed back to Calgary for more visiting with kids and grandkids. My mother arrived in Calgary on Tuesday and we had a wonderful visit.