Tuamotu Catchup

Bonjour et la Orana Boatblog® fans,

Welcome to our Catchup from Tuamotu.

Here we are again, reporting back from the very heart of the centre of the middle of nowhere; the Tuamotus a series of coral atolls somewhere deep in the Pacific. They really are the quintessential tropical islands with turquoise waters, coral reefs and palm trees.

Ju  Lyn

Our first stop after Fakarava was one of the smaller, less visited atolls called Kauehi (pronounced Kah-oo-eh-hi – it’s quite tricky, but you say all the vowels in French Polynesia).

There are only about 100 people living on the island, so it feels very deserted. All of the young people get sent to school in Tahiti, or make their way to Papeete for work, so there are only very old people and children left here.

High Street

(Not saying these are very old people. Actually it is Jeremy from Next Step and Andy from Kari of Lymington.)

The only industries here are tourism which has died because of Covid, copra – which is getting oil and other things out of a coconut, and black pearls which they farm. Not a lot of people know this, but a black pearl starts it’s life being seeded on a tree.

Seed Oysters

Who’d have thought this is how a pearl earing begins?

It is sad that when you get to the windward side of the island, the beach is absolutely covered in plastic. This is not from the locals, but has drifted here from civilisation.

IMG 4678

 “Sunview – The Best From The West.”

We did our best with Caroline and Andy from Kari of Lymington to clean it up a bit, but it’s a daunting task.

Picking up plastic

It’s very expensive here. If it’s not a fish or a coconut it has to be imported. For example, a bag of crisps is thirteen dollars. OK, so that was a big bag, but even for a dedicated crisp-oholic such as Ju that’s a bit much, so we had poisson cru instead. Which is raw tuna marinated in coconut milk. Very tasty, and sadly a lot healthier than a bag of salt and vinegar.

Unfortunately, for much of our time in Kauehi it was raining, and we spent a lot of it on the boat sitting out a storm. 

Rainbow 2

And when it rains, it rains.

When it rains it rains

But at least it’s warm rain.

As soon as the weather let up, we set off for Rangiroa, about twenty-four hours’ sail to the north west, where we rejoined a number of other Sailors of the Lost ARC.

Sola in Tiputi

Nick from Maximillian and Alan from Island Wanderer had rigged up their paddle board as a water ski. It was brilliant fun – just like water skiing but slower. 

The next day we went to a place called The Blue Lagoon which is a lagoon within the lagoon, and even by Polynesian standards is stunning.

Blue Lagoon 7

It’s probably not the most original name that they could have come up with, but it seems to sum it pretty well.

Blue Lagoon 8

It really is somewhere that should to be on everyone’s bucket list. (With the possible exception of Alan. The only way here is by boat, then another little boat Al. Not good if you get seasick.)

We went spearfishing for lunch, and caught a parrot fish.

Spearfishing

…or as Monty Python would say, an Ex-parrot fish.

Ex parrot fish 2

You don’t throw your scraps to the dog in French Polynesia. 

Not a good time to go paddling.

While we were waiting for lunch our guide showed us some of the local skills.

Start with a leaf…

Do you know what it is yet 2

Make a few folds…

Do you know what it is yet 3

Do you know what it is yet?

Do you know what it is yet 4 3

Eat your heart out Mr Gucci.

Just time to go to the spa with our friends before we had to go back to the boat.

Blue Lagoon 4 2

The next day we went diving and saw our first manta ray.

Manta 1 2

And then the dolphins came to play.

And like most of us, they love nothing more than a tummy rub, which seems to put them into a sort of daze.

Dolphin 4

Then it was back to the boat with the crew of Volunteer to put the evening’s cabaret together.

The Band 1

…with dancers from Easter Island.

The Cabaret

But now the winds are building…

Windy 1

…and the forecast tells us that a storm is heading our way, so it’s time to move on. Next stop, The Iles de la Societe.

Nana and au revoir for now, as they say over here.

Ju & Lyn

PS – Have we got time for a gratuitous sunset?

(Go on then – Ed)

Gratuitous Rangiroa Sunset

South Pacific

la Orana et bonjour Boatbloggers®,

And welcome back to another action packed edition of The Boatblog®, this time being sent to you direct from Fakarava (be careful how you say that) in The Tuamotus, a series of atolls in the heart of the South Pacific. This is of course where Rogers & Hammerstein’s great musical was set, and as a tribute we will be gratuitously shoehorning in as many song titles from the show in this blog as we dare. Dites moi how many you can find. (See what we did there?) Answers at the end…no cheating!

All in all we spent nearly two months in Tahiti, as travel between the islands was banned because of Covid 19. But on the island itself most restrictions were lifted, so there was plenty to do. We went to an evening of traditional dancing…

Dancing  audience participation 2

Our night at The Belvedere Restaurant up in the hills turned out to be some enchanted evening…

Infinity Pool  Some Enchanted Evening

Even the view from the loo was pretty spectacular.

A loo with a view

We found time to go surfing. We’ve never done it before, but Lyn is quite a cock eyed optimist…

Surfing  Lyn  Cock Eyed Optimist

so we jumped straight in. It’s harder than it looks.

Surfing  Lyn falling

But lots of fun.

Surfing  Lyn laughing

There is nothing you can name, that is anything like a dame – or better still, four dames surfing.

Surfin Girls  There is nothing like a dame

They look like they’ve been washing men right out of their hair all morning. (OK – stick with it, that was a difficult one.)

Finally the restrictions on travel between the islands were lifted, and most boats left Tahiti straight away to go exploring. It’s amazing to think that French Polynesia actually covers an area bigger than Europe, so there’s quite a lot to explore. Unfortunately we still had some engine trouble, so we had to wait to get that fixed before we could set off.

Engine 2

Quite a big job, but soon it was back in and working, and we were ready to set sail. First stop Moorea.

This is where they filmed South Pacific.

And this is Bali H’ai.

IMG 4569

We climbed up the hill, and we think you’ll agree it’s a fabulous sight.

Moorea  Up The Hill 2

And the scenery’s not bad either (Boom! Tish!)

After only a few days we saw a weather window that could get us east towards the Tuamotus, so we set of for Fakarava – about two days sail away. 

It’s a beautiful atoll, and in normal times can get quite crowded with tourists, but we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Where better to relax with a bloody Mary or two after a hard day eating?

Fakarava  Cocktail hour  Bloody Mary

Or enjoy some happy talk on the beach with our friends from the World ARC. 

 Fakarava   Happy Talk

Or as we now call ourselves since the ARC was cancelled, Sailors of the Lost ARC.

It was a bit disconcerting when we arrived to hear about the storm which hit the atoll a few days before we arrived. Lots of boats were damaged – some more than others. This nearly was mine, but we were lucky. If we’d arrived only two days earlier…

Fakarava  Beached Boats  This Nearly Was Mine

But the main reason to come to Fakarava is the diving, and in particular the “wall of sharks.”

https://youtu.be/SAAnrk1YcBk

We are told that sharks don’t eat divers because they don’t like the taste. Apparently we have too much iron in our blood, so if you ever decide to do this, eat lots of spinach before you go.

The water is gin clear.

Diving  Lyn

And there are more sharks than a lawyers’ convention.

Diving  Sharks

Ju then made tiny error of judgement. He agreed to go on a night dive, while the sharks are out feeding. Quite what made him sign up for this, he is still not sure. It was like being in a shoal of fish except it wasn’t fish – it was sharks. Black tip sharks and white tip sharks.

And they were hunting.

Diving  Night shark

There were sharks in every direction, and the torch just picked out millions of eyes as they went on the prowl. The were at least 300 of them, and Ju was in the middle of the pack. Then just when everything seemed to be slowing down, suddenly they would all go berserk as they saw a fish and went after it. It was fantastically terrifying, or terrifyingly fantastic – one of the two. But either way, it was very exciting. Though Ju is not sure he’s going to do it again. It didn’t help to find out that when they filmed this exact same dive for the Blue Planet, all the divers wore chain mail.

Thanks to Jeremy from Next Step for all the underwater photos.

BTW – do you know what a pack of sharks is called? Answer below…

We had a lot of parties. We have a better social life out here in the middle of nowhere than we do in the middle of London. This is a bootleg recording of one of our boat jams. All the players were very carefully taught by maestro Ju.

https://youtu.be/rzDq-MigLKs

We celebrated Petra’s birthday.

Fakarava  Petra Birthday  Younger Than Springtime 2

I’m sure we all agree that she looks younger than springtime. And that bloke wearing the traditional Fakarava table decoration looks like a wonderful guy.

So – just time for the arty farty competition, both submitted by Lyn. The first is called “I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts,” which wasn’t from South Pacific, but perhaps it should have been.

Fakarava  Arty farty 4

And the second entry is called “Amazing Roots.”

Fakarava  funny tree 2

And the winner is Lyn! Well done Honey Bun!

That’s all for now Boatbloggers®.

A bientôt!

Ju & Lyn

How did you get on with the South Pacific song competition?

Here’s the answers…

Dites Moi, Some Enchanted Evening, A Cock-Eyed Optimist, There Is Nothing Like A Dame, I’m Going To Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, Bali Hai, Bloody Mary, Happy Talk, This Nearly Was Mine, Carefully Taught, Younger Than Springtime, (I’m in love with) A Wonderful Guy, and last but not least Honey Bun.

A pack of sharks is called a shriek – presumably after the noise a diver makes when he sees one.

 

Paradise Prison

la Orana Boatblog® Fans,

That is Tahitian for hi there.

Greetings from Paradise Prison.

We weren’t sure whether or not we should put up a blog under the current circumstances, given that most of our followers haven’t seen daylight for many weeks now and are still in lockdown in places as far afield as London, Madrid  and Kettering. It might just be rubbing it in a bit too much.

But if it’s any consolation, we too were in lockdown for the first month that we were here. Which isn’t so bad when this is the view.

Amazing Clouds

We were only allowed to go 1km away from the boat, and had to carry a document saying where we were going and why. Alcohol was banned, but shopping was allowed, and so was exercising. So that’s one for Lyn and one for Ju. We’ll let you work out who did what. You couldn’t even go swimming unless it was for essential boat maintenance. Ju found that a daily check of the anodes was essential and is pleased to be able to tell you that they are fine.

Normally a marina is a hive of activity, people coming and going and doing boat jobs. We’ve never known one to be so quiet and deserted.

Marina deserted

It was all a bit spooky.

But it didn’t last long. There have been remarkably few cases of the big C here, and no deaths we’re pleased to say. So it wasn’t long before the authorities were able to go from “Restez a la maison” (Stay at Home) to “Reste attentif,” (Stay Alert) status. They didn’t actually put it like that, but that was the gist. No one knew what it meant here either. But it seemed that things were pretty much back to normal. We still couldn’t go sailing, but at least we could go and visit the island.

And very nice it is too. The capital is Papeete, which among other things is famous for it’s graffiti.

1 Street Art 1

Though calling it graffiti seems to be underselling it a bit. Perhaps “Building Art,” or “Big Banksy?” Suggestions on a ten pound note to the usual address please.

2 Street Art 2

We went on an island tour with Cheryll and Martin from Zan.

3 A good looking group

The scenery is spectacular. 

6 Bay 2

It’s all really lush, with strange looking tropical flowers everywhere.

9 Nice flower

These are a beautiful couple

8 Double waterfall

…of waterfalls.

And there is an amazing feature called “The Blowhole.” You stand next to a bit of rock by the cliff, and all of a sudden…

4 Blowhole 2

…a blast of air shoots up through a hidden hole. We’re not quite sure why it happens, but it’s something to do with a big wave coming in from somewhere underneath the cliff.

Not only could we go exploring, but we could go SCUBA diving too.

1 Scuba 1

There’s a plane wreck which was quite fun to climb in and swim round.

2 Scuba plane 1

And we saw a stonefish.

4 Stonefish 2

Now the thing about a stonefish is that it looks exactly like a stone. Except it is one of the most poisonous fishes in the sea. You’re probably looking at this picture and thinking, “They’re having a laugh. There’s no fish there. That’s just a stone.” I would point out the stonefish to you with a little arrow, except I’ve forgotten which bit was the stone and which bit is the stonefish. But trust me, one of those bits of rock is actually a deadly fish. It’s got a row of hypodermic needles in its back which inject you with poison if you tread on it.

I remember an Australian divemaster telling me that if I ever trod on a stonefish, “…you have to get back to the boat as fast as you can. Go directly to the fridge and get yourself a can of Fosters. You might as well enjoy your last five minutes.”

Treading on a stonefish really spoils your day.

With so much time on our hands, Ju has taken the next level of SCUBA diving training, which is “Rescue Diver.” He’s half way through the course, so if you’re half drowning he can save you, but if you want to drown completely you’d better wait till next week.

One of the best days out we had was our trip to the lava tunnels with our friends from Next Step and Cloud Shadow. 

We thought it was just going to be a little stroll in the hills. It started off a bit bouncy, going up in a 4X4…

1 4X4 to the mountains

And all seemed pleasant enough.

2 The river

Then they said put on your helmets and wetsuits, and follow our Tahitian guide Herve, into the cave.

5 Into the cave 1

Hmmmm.

Still not too bad…

6 Into the cave 2

Then it got steeper…

7 Potholing 3

And wetter.

Wetter

And darker.

8 In the cave

But eventually we could see light at the end of the tunnel…

9 Potholing 1

And fairly soon were back in the sun.

11 Into the light

Only three more to go, says our guide. Which would have been ok, except to get the next one we had to inch along a cliff face, with a pretty vertical drop below.

12 Cliff face 2

Those of you who know how much Lyn hates heights will appreciate what an incredible act of bravery this is.

13 Cliff face 4

Woo woo! Go girl!

Ju’s not too keen on heights himself.

15 Cliff face 3

And if that wasn’t enough, next we had to go upwards….

18 Roping 3

Nearly there.

19 Roping 5

Well done Lyn. No excuses for not going up the mast now.

Ju’s turn next. Quietly confident.

22 Roping 4

Only two more left!

3 Waterfall 1

But soon we were at the top and all that was left to do was to trek right the way back down through the jungle.

23 Jungle trek

It was the most fantastic day out.

This is a video that Jeremy on Next Step made.

So that is our lockdown story. Just time for a gratuitous sunset

Sunset 3

And moonrise. 

Sunset 2

Or is that the sun? Graham – please let us know.

I think it is fair to say that of all the places in the world to be locked down, this is probably the best.

Not counting Kettering.

Hope lockdown isn’t too bad wherever you are.

Nana (That’s Tahiti for “bye”) for now.

Ju & Lyn

 

Domini’s Top Tips for Crossing the Pacific

Bonjour autre fois BatteauBlog® Fans,

We have just crossed The Pacific Ocean.

Well, that’s not quite true. We have crossed about half the Pacific Ocean, which is still a bloody long way. Further than The Atlantic in fact. We have just got in to Tahiti and all in all it was nearly 4,000 miles from The Galapagos. And quite an adventure it was. So without more ado, here are…

DOMINI’S TOP TIPS FOR CROSSING THE PACIFIC

If you’re crossing the Pacific, or anywhere else for that matter, Domini’s FIRST Top Tip is to book our friend Chris Tibbs to do your weather routing.

Chris

He is brilliant. For those landlubbers out there, a weather router not only does the weather forecast for where you are, but also tells you the best route to go to avoid all the storms and calms. Chris is famous in the yachting world, and has written all the top sailing weather books, worked for the Met Office, and as a sailor has gone round the world more times than the moon. So he’s coming along. As well as the routing for Domini, which he is particularly proud of, Chris does the routing for the Swiss Olympic Sailing Team. A role that we suspect he got because of a recommendation made here on the Boatblog®.

Don’t go to sea without him!

And Domini’s SECOND Top Tip for crossing the Pacific is Do It With the World ARC.

Oooh – controversial stuff!!! Lots of our sailor friends will disagree with this – you know who you are!

But let me tell you a story.

We almost didn’t get started on this, the longest leg of the World ARC. We were about to weigh the anchor and get ready to cross the start line, when we decided to do one last check of our emails. There was one from Catana, the people that made our boat. Apparently there was a recall on our escape hatches. Those are the little windows on the bottom of the boat that are there in case we should ever capsize and need to escape. Apparently the glass on some of these particular hatches has been falling out and we should definitely not put to sea until we had installed the modification kit – we could sink! Catana would send out the modification kit straight away, but it would take at least 10 days for it to arrive from France to The Galapagos. 

In the mean time they sent me a technical drawing of what I needed to do, in case I could make my own modification kit.

 

Screen Shot 2020 04 05 at 10 48 06

Ha ha ha ha ha!

What an earth is that?

Those of you that know Ju’s metalworking skills will realise that this is a completely meaningless piece of paper. All he could tell was that even if he could get the parts, he would still have to drill through the hatch glass, which filled everyone with horror. Bear in mind, Ju is the man who once plumbed the washing machine into the gas main.

So we were going to miss the start.

By at least ten days.

I called up WARC Rally Control on the VHF to tell them the bad news. And fortunately, some of the WARC fleet listened in to the conversation, in particular, Alan on Island Wanderer. Now Alan, in his previous life, had been an industrial engineer and owned a factory that made things out of metal, and he was able to look at the technical drawing as though it was a musical score and knew what it all meant. He explained it all Ju who nodded and tried not to look bewildered. If only we had the aluminium, Alan could knock it up in a couple of hours.

But where to get the aluminium!

Once again the fleet came up trumps. Karl on Remedy had been listening in to the VHF conversation too, and as it happened he had some spare aluminium on board. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, about half an hour later, Alan and Colin from Island Wanderer had set up a metal workshop in the children’s playground in Santa Cruz.

Playground Workshop

Once they’d made the parts that were needed, all Ju had to do was drill through the hatches and attach them.

Alan saw the fear in Ju’s eyes. 

What to do…?

Hatch mending

They came back to Domini and fitted them for us. Even though it meant delaying their own start.

Great Job

Great work Alan & Colin. Thank you very much. And thanks to Karl for the aluminium.

And it was a good job we fitted the modification. As it turned out, a few days into the crossing the glass from the hatch started to come away, and without these bits of aluminium, it would have fallen out.

For you landlubbers let me explain the enormity of what happened. We are on a tiny island, known more for it’s blue footed boobies than its metal work shops, and within five hours of receiving the email from Catana we had our hatches modified so we could put to sea. We couldn’t have done that if we had been in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, let alone in the middle of nowhere.

So off we went.

On first inspection, The Pacific is very similar to The Atlantic.

Sea View 3

Though to start off with there seemed to be more wildlife. We saw manta rays jumping, a couple of whales and loads of dolphins. As well as the usual flocks of flying fish. I’m afraid we didn’t get any pictures of them, as they are a bit fast, but we have lots of photos like this.

Sea View 2

And this.

IMG 4283

In fact four week’s worth of photos like this. But don’t worry Boatblog® fans – we won’t post them all.

Well – maybe some of the sunsets.

Sunset 1

We have to keep a twenty four hour watch, so we take it in turns through the night. Four hours on, four hours off.

Night falls

It was all going very nicely, when after a couple of weeks at sea and as we were nearing The Marquesas, a little island group in French Polynesia, we started getting emails from Rally Control. 

Unbeknown to us, the world had apparently caught the Corona Virus and had changed in ways we couldn’t begin to imagine. We could no longer stop in Hiva Oa, our intended landfall, as it was in lockdown and not accepting foreign boats. Which is fair enough. French Polynesia has quite a history of Europeans turning up with infectious diseases that wipe out the local populations. 

IMG 4316

So we couldn’t stop there, but apparently we could go to the island of Nuku Hiva instead. 

Off we went…

Pacific View 1

But then another message – the authorities had changed the rules again. French Polynesia were now shut to all inter-island traffic, planes, ferries and of course yachts. If we landed at Nuku Hiva, that is where we would have to stay. Rally Control advised going on to Papeete in Tahiti.

So we sent course for Tahiti, which was an extra 1,000 miles further on. The only problem now was that the wind was dropping, and even the mighty Chris Tibbs couldn’t do anything about that. Also, even with our reserve jerry cans, we were running low on fuel so we couldn’t just motor.

IMG 8019~photo

…and for a couple of days we had to bob about like the sailors of old caught in the Doldrums.

But the sunsets were still glorious.

Sunset at sea

And we met up again with Island Wanderer.

IMG 4328

You can just see them on the horizon.

It wasn’t long before we were going through The Tuamotus.

Tuamotus 2

These looked like the prettiest atolls ever, and it was terrible to have to just sail through them and not be allowed to land. 

We’ll be back.

Land Ahoy! Eventually, after 26 days at sea we saw Tahiti in the distance.

Land Ahoy

A welcome sight indeed.

Selfie

Not Ju, Tahiti.

Tahiti

Even the birds came to say, “Bonjour.”

Bird Welcome

When we arrived, we knew we were in France. Ju called up the marina to get our berth. It was five to twelve.

“I am sorry, you will ‘ave to anchor for a few hours.”

“Why?”

“It eez lunchtime.”

“We’ve been at sea for four weeks.”

“But it eez lunchtime.”

So we anchored and waited for the end of lunch. Bon appetit.

Arriving 

Domini’s THIRD Top Tip for crossing the Pacific is Don’t Run Out of Tea. Just as we were preparing to leave The Galapagos, we realised that our supply of PG Tips was running low. It was looking like we would have to ration our cups of tea on the way across!  Andrew & SWade from Rally Control to the rescue. They were heading back to the UK, and said we could have the last of their teabags.

Now THAT is life saving stuff.

IMG 8046

Cheers!

So here we are, on lockdown in Papeete. There’s definitely worse places to be locked down – Brentford for example. And relatively speaking we are pretty safe from Corona Virus. So far there have only been 40 confirmed cases on the island – let’s hope it stays that way. The problem is that if you do actually get it, there’s not much in the way of medical facilities. The ventilator is a bicycle pump and a large balloon, so the key thing is taking note of all the quarantine measures, which the people here are taking pretty seriously. Let me explain just how seriously.

They have banned the sale of alcohol.

IMG 4426

Pas du vin. Pas du biere. Pas du anything.

For a French country, it doesn’t get much more serious than that.

Unfortunately we are not allowed off the boat apart from to go to the supermarche. It’s quite frustrating to able to see paradise but not to be able to visit it.

But still, it’s a nice view as the sun goes down.

View from the marina

Au revoir for now, nos amis.

Ju & Lyn

PS This Post is dedicated to Danny, our little cat.

We had the sad news from Dave and Ali during the crossing that Danny had died.

Danny

Night night Danny. 

The Galapagos…again!

Yes Boatbloggers®

We know The Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime place to go, but we here on the good ship Domini have done it twice. This time with a difference. This time the whole gang came out.

Everyone really

So we won’t bore you with all the usual photos of the Galapagan wildlife – you can see all that in our previous blog – but we’ll try to show you some of the things we got up to.

Of course it wouldn’t be a holiday in Los Galapagos if you didn’t do some diving. Here’s Joe, Ju & Rory about to jump…

3 Divers

Joe completed his PADI training course while he was here, so he’s now a qualified diver. Well done Joe!

Ben and Joe on boat

There is an enormous amount of fish. We even swam inside a baitball which is literally millions of fish all swimming around in a huge ball to protect themselves from the sharks and other things that want to eat them.

Baitball

We just hope that this isn’t the time the shark decides to raid the baitball.

Ok – so I said no pictures of wildlife, but this one of the rays is pretty good.

Rays 1

Here’s Rory…

Rory Diver 2

But it wasn’t all under the water. We sailed (well…motored if we’re honest) from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz, and stopped for a bit of deep water swimming off the back of the boat on the way.

Deep sea swimming

You can’t do a blog about the Galapagos without mentioning the Giant Tortoises.

Tortoise 2

And they are pretty massive.

Tortoise 1

Here’s one for the caption competition.

Tortoise fighting

Answers on a ten pound note to the usual address, and the winner gets to take the crew of Domini out for a slap up meal.

And now the Boatblog® quiz.

Q: How do Giant Tortoises make love?

Tortoise humping

A: Slowly.

It’s only when you try on the shells that you realise what an achievement it is.

Press ups

We also went down the nearby lava tunnels. It was a bit wet, so they made us all wear wellies.

Boots 2

Which you did need.

Cave

Because it was quite deep.

Sink hole

We went surfing…

Surfing

Hiked up to the top of the volcanos.

Alice knackered

Till the mist rolled in.

Mist

But sadly it wasn’t all just fun and games. Ben, who is a professional coder (for those of you over fifty, that’s something to do with computers) unfortunately had to do some work while he was over here.

Ben working 2

And we found time to enjoy a drink or two. This one was particularly popular,

Clitoris cocktail

because it is made out of this flower, which has a rather surprising name.

Clitoris flower

I’m afraid you’ll have to figure it out for yourselves, but here’s a clue. It is called what it is called, because that is what it resembles. Though only if you are ill.

We took lots of photos. 

Rory

Especially of people taking photos.

Oh – I can’t resist any longer. Here’s some photos of the wildlife. First up, a marine iguana…

Iguana

A sleeping sea lion. Or as they call them over here, a sea wolf.

Sealion 1

Despite our best efforts with the fenders, this cheeky one got onto the boat.

Sealion 2

Here’s one of Darwin’s finches.

Finch

At least we think it is. They all look a bit the same to us. Which I guess is why we didn’t come up with a theory about evolution.

Talking of which, you have to hand it to the Seventh Day Adventists. They’ve just built a church right in the middle of town.

Creationists

Given that they’re all Creationists, they’re trying hard taking the message right to the heathen heartland.

Here’s a heron. 

Heron

Not the most unique of birds, but it’s still a nice picture. And here’s a dancing booby.

Booby

And now, can you guess what Lyn & Alice have just seen?

Wow

Answer below.

In the mean time, here is this edition’s gratuitous sunset, submitted by Rory.

Sunset

And a turtle especially for James.

Turtle 2

But our favourite photo is of Ju & Joe by Troels on SV Atreju. Thanks Troels

Image1

And now here’s the answer to the “What Did Lyn & Alice Just See?” quiz.

R040221

Hasta luego Boatblog® fans. And let’s face it, you must be fans if you’ve got this far.

Next stop, The Marquesas. We leave on Wednesday (4th March) and it’s quite a big crossing. Actually longer than the Atlantic so don’t forget to track us on…

https://www.worldcruising.com/world_arc/eventfleetviewer.aspx

Ju & Lyn

Pacific Overtures

Hello Again Boatbloggers®

This is us going into The Pacific, as filmed by Jeremy on Next Step.

Thanks Jeremy.

The Pacific isn’t sooooo different from The Atlantic, though if anything the sea is more…well, pacific.  There also seems to a lot more wildlife. We saw two whales, loads of summersaulting Manta rays, and of course the usual dolphins and flying fish. I would love to show you photos of the summersaulting rays or the whales, but alas dear reader they were too quick for me and my iPhone. So I’m afraid you will just have to believe us.

We did however manage to shoot lots of Boobies, and you will be pleased to know that we are not going to resort to the obvious jokes. Sometimes there were seven or eight of them on board. It was like a scene from a Hitchcock movie. At first we thought they were really cute, but then we noticed how much poop they produced. Goodness knows what they eat.

Boobies

The Pelicans were even worse.

Pelican 1

But it was all very nice. This was taken by Andrew on Accomplice.

Domini by Sun  By moon

Domini by Sun & by Moon. That straightaway wins the arty farty prize. Thanks Andrew. The winner gets to take the crew of Domini out for a slap up meal.

We went past Malpelo – a little island that not many people have seen because it really is in the middle of nowhere.

IMG 4160

Of course we had to celebrate when we crossed the Equator.

Equator

It’s traditional to dunk the crew in water.

Equator 2

So now we are Shellbacks – which is the traditional name for sailors who have crossed the Equator.

Lyn tried to win the arty farty prize with her composition called “Hats,”

Hats

…but I’m afraid Andrew still wins.

And now we have just arrived in The Galapagos.

Woo woo woo.

 

Ju & Lyn

 

Panama City

Hello again Boatblog® Fans,

And here we are in Panama City – Crossroads to the world.

Ju  Lyn 2

Not only did our American friends build a canal through the jungle, but they built another Miami here as well.

City In A Jungle

Complete with fabulous restaurants…

Dinner in the Old Town

Here we are with the crews of Cuvee & Kari.

And cool graffiti.

Graffiti 1

We trekked deep into the jungle to meet the Embera Indians, using nothing other than dug out canoes.

Chagress River Selfie

The Embera live about an hour’s canoe ride up the Chagres River in virgin jungle.

Chagress River 1

It was completely unspoilt. There was nothing to hear except the chatter of the tropical birds, the howling of the howler monkeys, and the gentle swish of the traditional Suzuki 4 stroke.

Traditional Outboard 2

When we arrived at the village we were greeted by the band.

The band

Served lunch in banana leaves,

 

Lunch in banana Leaves

and had the opportunity to buy traditional artefacts.

Monkey Masks

Ju was very pleased with his tattoo.

Ju tattoo 2

The Embera build their house on stilts to cope with the flooding that happens on a pretty regular basis.

Stairs

Perhaps they should try that in Tewkesbury.

Then it was back down the river…

Chagress River 4

…in time to get the boat prepared for our trip to the Las Perlas islands where we are writing this now.

IMG 4130

Though of course you can’t visit Panama and not buy a Panama Hat!

Panama Hat

Just time for some arty farty photos…

Drum

DRUM

Coconuts

& COCONUTS

and then it’s off to The Galapagos.

To The Pacific & Beyond!

Ju & Lyn

 

The Panama Canal

…or the “Canal de Panama” as they call it over here.

Panama Canal 1

Hello again Boatblog® Fans,

We knew we met be getting close to the Panama Canal when we looked at our plotter.Panama Ships 2

Aaaaaah. All those big green things are ships. And that’s a lot of ships. But even seeing it on the plotter doesn’t quite prepare you for when you arrive.

Panama Shipping 6

There’s hundreds of them. It’s like Cowes Week but with giant container vessels instead of yachts. We managed to dodge them all, even though we had a stowaway on board.

Panama Seabird

Soon we were safely moored up in Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side of the canal. Shelter Bay claims to be the safest marina in the Caribbean, but these things are all relative. They don’t allow you to swim in the marina because of the crocodiles. Crocodiles! I kid you not. We didn’t actually see any, but they look just like logs, which is worrying because you often see logs floating in marinas.

So now it was just a question of waiting for our turn to go through the canal itself. We kept on getting delayed because there has been a lack of rainfall in Panama and the locks are low on water. This means that they don’t want to waste a ‘lockage,’ with all the water that uses up, on a few tiny yachts. So instead of going through together as a fleet which is what normally happens, we would have to go through in a ‘nest’ of three boats tied together, and one very big ship.

The Canal Authorities also insist that you have at least five people on board to transition the canal, so we were very lucky that the crew of Cavatina agreed to join us.

Crew

Thank you Cavatina.

At last we got the go-ahead. We would enter the first lock at 2045 (quarter to nine in the evening for you landlubbers). Which was great, except that it meant that we would be going through in the dark.

You and Island

And because we were a catamaran, we would be the middle boat of the nest of three. This was bad in that it meant we were responsible for all the manoeuvring, and good because it meant if we did crash at least it wasn’t our boat that would get all mangled.

Going into lock

It’s like having a giant fender on either side of us, though I’m not sure that’s how the other boats saw it. You don’t want to be tied up  next to a boat full of angry sailors because you’ve just smashed their boat into the wall, so you do have to concentrate.

Cookies

Sorry – wrong photo. That was Ju eating cookies. This is Ju concentrating.

Helm

Then they close the doors,

Doors closing

…let the water in, and before you know it you are up at the top.

Top of the lock

And ready to drive into the next lock.

View from the helm

Eventually we got through the first of the three locks which take you up to the Gatun Lake where we moored up for the night onto one of the giant mooring balls. They were really hard to tie up to as they are really made for much bigger boats so Lyn had to jump over the side to attach all the ropes.

Lyn on Mooring Ball 2

Which is quite scary when it is rolling about and one false step and you are in the crocodile infested lake. (Ju forgot to mention the crocodiles until Lyn got back.)

We got up early next morning to cross the lake.

Gatun Lake Sunrise

It’s a big lake so it took about five hours to get to the next set of locks which take you back down to sea level. For some reason, this time they decided that we should go into the lock before the ship. At first this didn’t seem so bad…

Big Boat 4

But then it got closer…

Big Boat 3

And closer…

Big Boat 2

And closer…

Big Boat 1

It was quite a relief when it actually stopped.

At last we arrived at Miraflores, which are the last two locks.

IMG 3917

You go down…

Line Handling 2

And down…

LH Going Down

Then they start to open the doors…

Door opens Pacific

And you get your first view of The Pacific!

Door opens pacific 2

First you see the Bridge of the Americas in the distance…

Bridge of US

which you go under…

LH Bridge of the Americas 2

And then you see the skyline of Panama City.

Panama City

Woo woo woo!

Just time for a couple of Arty Farty photos, the first is called “Crane.”

LH Sunset Crane

And the second is called “Train.”

Sunset Gatun Lake

To The Pacific and Beyond!

Ju & Lyn

Santa Marta to The San Blas…

Hola otra vez Boatbloggers®.

Columbia was fantastic. There were rivers to swim in…

River Swim 1 

Coffee to drink,

Coffee bags

Fresh pineapple,

Pineapple

and some pretty serious spiders.

Spider 2

But it’s not all fun and games. We had a few repairs to sort out from our crossing from Grenada which was pretty rough.

Chafe

Unfortunately, on our last day we were a bit ill, and couldn’t leave the heads*, let alone the marina. So we were a day late starting the next leg.

*that’s toilets for you landlubbers.

And while we were sorry to be leaving Columbia…

Santa Marta  bye bye

we were excited about our next stop – The San Blas Islands.

These are a group of nearly 400 islands, just off the Panama coast. If you imagine a typical tropical island, with turquoise waters and silver sands and palm trees, that is the San Blas.

San Blas 2 2

They are mostly uninhabited, but a few are home to the Kuna Indians,

Lionel 2

who live pretty much as they have done for centuries, fishing and harvesting coconuts which they sell on the mainland.

It really is a little bit of paradise.

Lagoon Ju Swim

Porvenir is the capital, where you check in at immigration.

Porvenir Immigration

and if you fancy a night off the boat you can always check in to the hotel.

Porvenir 2

go to the museum,

Porvenir Museum 2

buy some molas,

Molas

or just enjoy the view.

San Blas3

It’s really very nice.

Lagoon 1

And I think we can all agree that Ju is looking pretty ripped.

Lagoon  Ju ripped

Though he can’t hold that pose for long.

Just time for this week’s arty farty competition.

Lyn’s entry is Santa Marta Flowers

Flowers 1

and Columbian Coffee Corrugations

Corrugations 1

And the winer is “Corrugations.” Well done Lyn.

Just time for a gratuitous picture of a squall.

Squall 3

and a paradise island.

San Blas 5

Next stop – The Panama Canal.

Hasta luego Boatbloggers®

 

Ju & Lyn

Here we Columbia…

Ahoy Boatbloggers® ,

We finally made it to South America. Santa Marta in Columbia to be precise. And it is well worth the trip – even though it was quite a tricky passage.

We managed to get our MDI unit fixed, but it was a bit touch and go. Nico came along to install it… 

Nico

All was going well, until we tried to start the engine. A new fault had developed. The temperature alarm was beeping and the engine still wouldn’t start – but for a different reason this time. So either the new MDI box was duff as well, OR the temperature sensor was faulty, OR…..it was something else.

Grrrr…

Nico eventually decided it was the temperature sensor, so the best thing was to put in a new one and see if that worked.

They didn’t have one in stock.

It would take a week to get it delivered.

There was one in St Lucia.

AaaaaaaaH!

I don’t think he could bear to see a grown man cry any longer, so he thought he had better swap the sensors over from one engine to the other to make sure that was definitely the problem before sending off for the new part.

Which he did..and lo and behold the engines started! Just like that. There is no explanation for it. The identical sensors worked one way round and not the other.

This is not mechanics. This is witchcraft.

No matter. the engines were working so thank you Nico, thank you Grenada Marine, and thank you Island Dreams who sorted it all out for us.

So by three in the afternoon we were off. Two days behind the rest of the fleet, but there was still a chance we might get to Santa Marta before the cut off time on Saturday.

There were high winds, and plenty of squalls.

Line of line squalls

This one was almost as big as the radar screen.

Big Squall

and when a squall hits, you get drenched.

You get drenched

Though luckily on a catamaran you can come inside for the worst of it.

When it rains

One night we seemed to have squall after squall with lulls in between, so we were doing the sailor’s Hokey Cokey all through the night.

NewImage

and so on till you either run out of sails or you’re seasick.

Pulling the sails in quickly when a squall is approaching needs both of us, so when it’s like that you don’t get much of a night’s sleep. But on the plus side, having high winds does mean you go fast.

Windy

That big 46 is the wind speed. It actually got to over 48kn at one point which according to Ju’s Beaufort Scale Mug is officially a storm.

We managed our first 200+ mile day (212 miles to be exact) and once saw 18 knots on the log (speedometer for the landlubbers). OK, so that was surfing down a wave and it lasted about 3 seconds, but still – pretty impressive stuff.

We were romping along, and just as everything was going right – a very unusual state of affairs for a sailor – Lyn noticed something trailing behind us. Perhaps we’d caught a tuna? It seemed unlikely as we haven’t got a fishing rod, but we needed to take a closer look.

We quickly stopped the boat, which is not that quick when you’re barrelling along at nine knots with a screecher out one side and a genoa the other. Ju then climbed down to the transom and at last we could see the problem. There was a whole bundle of fishing ropes and netting and buoys tangled around the rudder. What a mess.  

He managed to cut the worst of it away, but some of it was still tangled out of reach under the boat. Even though we were stopped the boat was still bobbing up and down, so the normal thing of going over the side and cutting it all free wasn’t an option. The transom can easily come down and whack you on the head, which would definitely spoil your day. Besides, even if he could clear the ropes, it didn’t seem like it would be that easy to get back on the boat afterwards.

So what next?

It’s amazing what you can do with a boathook and a knife. It took a bit of doing, but eventually he managed to cut some more away, grab one of the buoys and pull the rest on board.

Prop

What a hero!

But after four days, Columbia came into view.

Captain Hunchback

Is Ju getting a bit of a hunchback?

Columbia 3

Nearly there.

Lyn  Columbia

The final stretch was really rough, 

Final stretch

…but we managed to get in just as the sun set.

Sunset

…and before the steakhouses closed.

Steakhouse

First impressions are that Santa Marta is fantastic. This is a city that never sleeps – there is an amazing buzz here.

Santa marta 1

And it’s very pretty.

Santa Marta Finish Line

We shall be sorry to leave.

Next stop, The San Blas Islands.

Ju & Lyn