Saturday, December 31, 2011

Laysan Delivery - Day 2

Happy New Year!!

Since we're on the west side of the dateline, we get to be among the first to ring in the new year. But, we're at sea, so there hasn't been any celebrating. We'll wait until our arrival in Honolulu to bring in 2012. We certainly hope you and yours enjoy a happy and healthy 2012!

All is well aboard Laysan. We continue to be blessed with moderate winds, although the swell still makes for a lumpy ride. And it has been raining constantly. We're chugging along at a slow pace, rationing our fuel, making around 4.5 knots average. We're also grateful to be in this wonderful pilot house - dry and cozy! We'd be soaking wet if we were in Renova's open cockpit.

I've broken my hard earned record of not feeding the fish. Sadly, I was sick yesterday afternoon. Not sure if it was the increase in swell, the time on the computer, or the potato salad that had just been served up. Whatever it was, it sent me outside to hang over the rails. John was ever supportive by sticking his head out the pilot house window..."Don't fall over"! Oh well, now we've each been sick once since leaving BC two and a half years ago. Not too shabby, I'd say.

Laysan has a SSB radio aboard, so we're checking into the daily Pacific Seafarer's Net. It really is comforting to know that these guys are tracking our position each day, in addition to our friends and family back home.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Laysan Underway - Day 1

We're ready. We've loaded the boat with fuel, baked banana bread, and made
arrangements for Renova to be loved while we're away. So we've dropped the
mooring lines from MY Laysan, and have headed out the pass.

Conditions are as expected. Big swell, 2-3 meters. Wind is only 15-20 knots,
which is good, but not sure we can hope for that to continue.

All is well with us - we're working to get our sea legs under us.

Our position at 1700 dec 31 (ship's time) is 7-22N, 171-44E.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to You and Yours

Since we are one of the first time zones to bring in Christmas day, we are
sending out a BIG holiday greeting to all of you!

We hope your Christmas is happy, healthy, and shared with loved ones!

Our Christmas in the Marshall Islands has been fabulous so far. We woke
early to fresh scones (thanks, Brandy)! We took our time opening our
stockings and a couple of presents (aka boat parts) that we'd bought for
each other. We were spoiled with treats that Ron had brought from home
(thanks to our family)!! John had bought a new camera to replace the one I
dropped in Kanton, and so did my brother! We're finally once again a two
camera family! Hurray!!

It's been a great morning. We're rolling sushi in preparation for a
Christmas potluck ashore with the other yachties here.

Enjoy your Christmas, wherever you might be!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cockroaches, Car Rentals and Late Cargo - by Ron

Dec 19

We had great intentions for our trip to the town of Laura at the north end
of the atoll. We had a nice breakfast and although the skies looked rather
grey, we had a rental car waiting and cargo/luggage to pick up from the

I got a first hand experience with island time twice today. First was our
experience at the rental place. It took us well over an hour to get the
rental car, only to find it had a nice little colony of cockroaches and
ants. John had a small freak out, which led to us getting another rental
car. It too was full of cockroaches. John sucked it up though, but he sat in
the front seat.

It reminded me of a time when John, Mom and I had gone to the local fair
that came to town every year in Campbell River. John was about 8 and I was
6. It was on this day that I realized my brother was afraid of things. He
freaked out at the top of the Ferris wheel, and the attendant had to bring
us down.

Regardless of the cockroaches, we decided to carry on. We had planned lunch
and an afternoon at the beach. Unfortunately, a lot of rain got in the way!
We had fun driving around checking the north end of the island. We stopped
for boiled eggs, cupcakes, fanta and ice cream for lunch at a side road

The main reason we had rented the car was to retrieve the cargo/luggage that
was coming in from Guam. This was my second experience with "island time".
We were told to come back at 8pm by the cargo guy. Nothing arrived and we
were told to come back at 11:15pm.we got back to the boat at 1:30am (the
airport is only 25 minutes from the boats). It was a very long evening
getting the cargo. Needless to say it was enjoyable hanging out just John
and me and talking about our thoughts and plans for the future. We went
through the bags when we got back to the boat and headed off to bed. I went
to sleep knowing I would have clean underwear in the morning. Yahoo!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Snorkelling, Sailing and Supper - by Ron

Dec 18

I woke up early and read, made coffee and waited for John and Naomi to wake.
I was up at 4am (7am Vancouver time). I am staying in the master suite; very

I arrived yesterday from Honolulu, Hawaii to an airport that consisted of
one air strip on about 1 km wide piece of land. The arrival/departure
building was from circa 1960, but worked just fine. The luggage was brought
to the luggage drop off by a forklift. Unfortunately, my bags did not arrive
(they say it will be here Monday night). I am now wearing my brother's
shorts, and not much else as it is too warm for jeans. All is good.

I have easily switched into relax mode. I am so enjoying being on a boat for
an extended length of time. As well, it is so nice to be around Naomi and
John and share in part of their adventure. The Laysan is truly an amazing
vessel; 1st class!

It was a sunny day, but the wind has been rather intense. We decide to take
the Laysan out for a test run. It was nice to go to a protected island for
the afternoon. We tried out the sails and cruised around the lagoon. Naomi
and I snorkelled on a coral reef around a sunken helicopter and airplane. It
was one of the highlights of the trip so far. The fish were amazing to swim
near and came in many beautiful colours, shapes and sizes. We saw one huge
puffer fish (as big as a nice sized tyee). We explored the coral and the

We had yummy left over spaghetti for lunch and an afternoon cocktail. It was
a lazy and enjoyable day. I seem to have designated myself "preparer of
food". I made sweet chili pork and rice for supper. We ended the day with a
movie on the flat screen t.v., which magically ascends from the living room
cabinet. Life is not too bad at all. I crashed by 11pm.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First Day in Majuro - by Ron

Dec 17

Ron is keeping a journal of his experiences in Majuro, and has agreed to
share his thoughts on the blog. Good thing...since I've been downright
negligent of late. Introducing Renova's newest crew and blogger -- brother

I arrived to smiling faces and hugs from John and Naomi. Naomi laid me with
a Maumau. I was a bit battered from 20 hours travel. I got settled, had a
nap and we headed into town. We did a big grocery shop and went for lunch at
a local restaurant called Dar. So yummy! We had two couples over for a
sunset cocktail. It was nice to visit with the neighbourhood sailboats. At
night I made a great spaghetti dinner and caught up with John and Naomi some
more. I crashed by 8pm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ron's Here

Ron has arrived!!! We've been looking forward to the arrival of John's
brother for months. It is great that he's now here, and we are looking
forward to 10 days of touring Majuro, sailing, and celebrating the holiday

Unfortunately, his bags did not arrive with him. We'll go back to the
airport today, in hopes that they've now arrived.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Going to Hawaii...

We're going to Hawaii. We've agreed to deliver MY Laysan, a 50'
motor-sailor, to Hawaii next month. You can find out about the boat here:

So, last week we met the owners, John and Kathleen, and had a busy couple of
days getting to know the boat and her systems. Since then, we've been
spending some time every day getting her ready. Getting to know the boat and
her systems, keeping the batteries charged, and making water in preparation
for the trip. She's a great boat, and we're looking forward to the passage.

Labels: Majuro, Marshall Islands, Laysan

Nothing Going On

Dec 5

I tried to tell you that there wasn't much interesting going on here.
Interesting is the key word. We've been busy enough with various boat
projects. But not so interesting. For example, last week I spent 3 days
polishing 2 lamps. Yep. Good times.

Labels: Majuro, Marshall Islands, maintenance, projects

Medical Services in Majuro

We've been testing the medical systems all around the pacific.
  • stitches and attempted blood donation in Mexico
  • tetanus shot in Samoa
And we've been thrilled to find great services everywhere we have been. Why not check out the system here? John's had a sore throat for a couple months. It hasn't responded to home care - salt water gargles, throat lozenges, antihistamines, or a course of antibiotics.

He decided it was probably cancer. So yesterday, he trekked to the local hospital. He met a
wonderful surgeon from Chicago, who immediately scheduled him for a something-scope for this morning. Dr. Kwan led John to the various hospital departments, and then set about sticking a long scope down his throat and into his stomach. Thankfully, he gave John the all clear. John reports that the hospital was in good condition, for the most part. Nevermind that he changed into his surgical gown in a linen closet, or that he noticed the roof had a few holes in the prenatal unit. The operating room was spotless and well equipped. Both visits were $17.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Let there be Light!!

Nov 29

We are slaves to our battery bank. When it is sunny, and the solar panels
are putting in lots of amps, we are happy campers. But (and there is always
a BUT), Majuro isn't an especially sunny spot. I know...we're in the
tropics. Crazy. But still - not sunny. Hot? Yes. Muggy? Yes. But sunny?
Well, sometimes. Good for our water tanks. Bad for our batteries. So, John
happily gets to put our new generator and battery charger to good use.

As a result of the lack of sun, we are miserly with our power usage. We have
solar lights that we use inside the cabin to read at night. And we have a
solar garden light that we use as an anchor light. Both are not so bright.

But, we've found a solution. A local yachtie sold us two strips of LED
lighting. John attached one to a long cable and velcroed (is that a verb?)
it around the mast. The second strip he fitted into our existing anchor
light fixture at the top of the mast. Now, we have SUPER bright lights, and
we can be seen at night. Which is a good thing. Especially on Sundays. When
the locals might be just a bit tipsy. And might rage through the mooring
fields. Mighty Fast. Mighty Close. Sheesh.

Here's a pic of our new light wrapped around the mast, and a pic of the boat
John took while installing the anchor light on the top of the mast.

Labels: Majuro, Marshall Islands, weather, maintenance, gear, projects

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Parking Lot

After the war, the US Military lined up all the vehicles and drove them off
the pier. Or maybe a barge. We don't really know. But that's what we've
heard. So, over the past couple of days Andy, John and I went to explore
this underwater parking lot.

We found a turtle, a big sting ray, lots of fish, and many vehicles. Fuel
trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, jeeps, bomb-loading trucks and many that
were unrecognizable.

Stay tuned, we'll try to get a pic or two from the video footage that Andy

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Engine Success!

It's no secret that we've had transmission troubles. We're still running, but it's making an odd sound, and there is movement where there shouldn't be. We had ordered a new damper plate and adapter flange from the US, and they arrived this week, on (US) Thanksgiving...and thankful we were!!7

We weren't sure exactly what was wrong, but we (ie John) had a few suspicions, so we ordered both the damper plate and the adapter flange just in case. Good thing. We spent Black Friday pulling forward the engine, in order to remove the transmission. We discovered the damper plate had a big crack in the plate, and the adapter flange has severely ovalized bolt holes. No wonder there was so much movement (and a big clunking sound)!!
Yep. That's a pretty significant crack.

Those two holes look perfectly oblong. But they should be round.
On Saturday, we managed to get the transmission put back together, painted, and back in place. By the evening, we had returned the engine to it's bed, and were able to do a test run. SUCCESS.

Once again, John has hero status. There is a tiny, uncomfortable access hatch to the back of the engine, and no room for helpers. I did what I could, but he has managed another triumph in Renova's saga.
John squeezed into the back of the engine compartment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

John's kryptonite

We've heard from a few of you regarding our lack of blog posts. Actually,
this time, we're not out and about having too much fun to blog. In fact,
there just isn't much to blog about. Really. As evidenced by the blog


I think I've finally discovered John's kryptonite. The one thing that
weakens him. Renders him quite useless. I'd say it turns him into a little
girl, but I find that a bit insulting. Here it is. A secret weapon.




If you've been following the blog for a while, you may remember that a
cockroach sighting on our boat in Mexico prompted the Captain to raise all
crew (me) from their bunks, and do a complete swath of the boat. In the
middle of the night. Empty all lockers and cupboards. Fun.

That experience caused us to stock up on a variety of cockroach potions.
We've been lucky so far (Knock on wood). Apart from a mammoth cockroach that
flew into the porthole while I was in the head (I not-so-calmly emptied half
a can of roach spray on, we've not had any infestations.

And we're careful to keep it that way.

Lately we've relaxed our "no cardboard onboard" rule. It's a bit cumbersome.
Lots of good things come in cardboard. Eggs. Mac and cheese. Cereal. Boat
parts. Etc. We've gotten lazy.

So I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised when a two inch cockroach
greeted John from the garlic container tonight. He let out a (girly) shriek
and took a step backwards. I'm sure he would have moved further away had our
boat been bigger, but we live in a one-step galley.

I ran for the roach spray. After a couple more shrieks from both of us, we
emerged victorious. I know, a bit unfair. 2 against 1. No sympathy here. I
believe that these guys will be here long after we humans are extinct. In
retrospect, we think it hitchhiked in the egg carton.

So...should you ever find yourself in a battle with John (and are not
concerned about maintaining a friendship), you might consider deploying a
huge, flying roach. Just don't tell him you got the idea from me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Some diving in Majuro

We've been doing a bit of underwater exploring here in Majuro by teaming up
with SV Savannah. Within the lagoon there are several sunken wrecks, and
amazing coral. So far, we've mostly been looking at small fish - which are
plentiful. We have seen one spotted eagle ray, and a small shark, but
everything else is pretty small. Visibility is great. Andy's taking some
pics, so we hope to share an image or two sometime soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Two Years Aboard SV Renova

Well, I wrote this blog post a few months ago - early august in fact - but
didn't post it, while I sorted out the numbers. Well, I've finally done the

Hard to believe that it was just two years ago, that I threw the last boxes
into our storage locker, tried to sneak an extra box or two aboard Renova,
passed my car keys to Brandy Lee, and boarded Renova for a short sleep at
the marina before we headed South on this epic adventure. What a chaotic
time that was!

Throughout these two years, we've endured crazy weather, crazy people, and
crazy places. But we've also been blessed by amazing sunsets, fascinating
wildlife, pristine anchorages, stunning landscapes and phenomenal culinary

But most of all, we've enjoyed the wonderful people that we've met along the
way. Both the other cruisers that we've met, as well as the local people in
the many various places have been an absolute joy. We continually met new
people on every part of this journey, who offered help and expertise when
needed, shared cultural experiences and anchorages, and generally were great
company. We look forward to keeping in touch with many of them in the

We have so many memories from this journey, that it has been difficult to
capture it all in the small, readable tid-bits that we post here. For those
long-winded blog posts, I apologize. And then there are the times that we're
so busy experiencing...that we tend to fall behind on blogging. Oops.

Out of curiosity, I calculated how much time we spent at sea vs time in an
anchorage. To my surprise, we spent a lot of time in marinas! But thinking
back, it makes sense - San Francisco, when John was commuting to work at
home; La Paz, when John returned home to deal with our flooded house; La
Cruz, to do boat repairs after playing bumper boats in the anchorage; and
Samoa, where staying in the marina is mandatory. And of course, our trip
home to work during cyclone season had an impact on the overall numbers.

Nights at sea: 86 (12%)
Nights at anchor: 249 (34%)
Nights in marina: 177 (24%)
Nights at home in own bed: 219 (30%)
Total nights: 731

Here are a few other numbers:
Nautical Miles travelled: 11,672 nm
Countries visited: 8
Books read: 62 (just me - John's not included)
Flights: 10 (I guess this life-style isn't so carbon-friendly, after all)
Photos taken: 6000+
Guests: 10
Blog visitors: 4639
Blog visits: 19,937

We're now well into our third year. And the final year of this trip. By
spring, we expect to be crossing the North Pacific on our way home. By the
end of summer, we'll be looking for new jobs to recover from this trip, and
start saving for the next one!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Majuro Atoll

We finally managed to get a coat of Cetol (varnish) on all the bare wood
that John has been sanding, so we followed Brickhouse and Savannah out of
the mooring field to explore the lagoon. We managed the 6 miles very
quickly, and after a nice downwind sail we were tied up to a mooring ball at
Eneko (Enigu) islet. Savannah watched our entertaining performance as we
picked up the ball under sail, which we managed without a hitch (ha - on our
second attempt)!

Following the show, they invited us over for dinner, and we enjoyed
hamburgers while we planned our adventures for the next few days.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Everyone!! Our friend Jake the Hammerhead come trick or
treating by dinghy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sliding Rocks in Samoa - A Video

Well, here is my first attempt at putting together a video of our adventures. Here's a trip we took to the Papaseea Sliding Rocks while in Samoa. Enjoy.

We also tried to make a video of our time in Samoa. I'd love to hear what you think of these videos, and if you have any suggestions!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Arrived in Majuro, Marshall Islands

After a three day passage, we've settled into Majuro, the capital of the
Republic of Marshall Islands. Our 9th country on this voyage.

Our first day here was a bit hectic. Yesterday morning, John spent a few
hours at the dock awaiting the officials to clear us into the country. When
they didn't show up, he finally went to their offices - first customs, then
immigration. By the time he returned to the boat, it was mid-afternoon, and
I was a sopping wet after collecting water for the past couple
hours...filling buckets, transferring into jerry jugs, then siphoning into
our boat's tanks. We're full again. Whew. And laundry is done. And we're
clean. YAY!!

We spent today wandering around and scoping the lay of the land. We checked
out a few of the glorious grocery stores. It is amazing what a basic grocery
store can do to lift the spirits after spending three months without!! We
happily wandered the aisles of several stores, amazed at all the familiar
brands and products. We just picked up a couple necessities (eggs, bread,
veggies), and can't wait for a bigger shop.

We also checked out internet options. You must pay by the minute. I was also
considering a cell phone, with internet capabilities. Hmmm. Can't seem to
get away from that magnetic force that draws us to new gadgets! But, we
decided to wait and see how we manage for now.

There is quite a cruising community here. At least a dozen boats. There is a
morning [radio] net - complete with weather info, social events, news, etc.
Tonight is cruisers night out, where many eat together at one of the local
restaurants. We're looking forward to getting to know a few people, and
hearing some local beta.

We're here because we have lots of boat work to do. But for now, we'll rest,
shop, eat.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Passage to Marshall Islands - Day 3

The sky is no longer clear, beautiful and blue,
The clouds have arrived, a grey and black stew.

We see the squalls and anticipate,
The accelerating winds, the sudden wall of hate.

All hands scramble top side and quickly lower sail,
We wrestle with the sheets, steady her dive to the rail.

Ahhh, we missed you - our beloved ITCZ*
How quickly we recall how fickle your weather can be.

As quickly as she rose, the squall is soon long gone.
We are left without wind in a slow and tedious calm.
* Remember, I'm that should be ITCZ: AYE.TEA.SEA.ZEE.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Passage to Marshalls - Day 1

A perfect day of sailing. The light breeze pushes us along beautifully. The
drifter is flying, showing her dazzling blue and gold hues. Dolphins visit,
play in the bow and give us a show by spinning loops and twists as they
launch into the air. And the past week of calms has left a residual sea that
is flat and easy. This is a sailor's dream.

But the day didn't start out that way. From Tarawa, our check of the morning
weather showed that winds were going to ease sooner than expected. The wind
would stop before our anticipated arrival day in the Marshalls. We decided
to leave Kiribati today, instead of tomorrow as planned. So, I gather our
papers and make my way to shore (where I fall into the water while getting
out of the dinghy) to clear out of the country. Customs takes FOREVER, but
goes smoothly (well, except for that huge sandy puddle I've left in the
middle of their lobby floor). Then onto the bus (where I leave another wet
spot) and to immigration. It's 11:30 by now, and the young staff are more
keen on their lunch orders than my exit permits, but no worries. They are
kind and friendly, and I'm in a schedules, right?! I'm on my
way after only an hour (only half of which was spent searching for the stamp
needed for my passport - found next door). By the time I return to the boat,
John has everything secured ship shape and ready to go. We raise sail, heave
the anchor, and wave goodbye to our newest friends as we make our way out of
the lagoon.

But...that was this morning. Now, we're living the dream. Bring it on.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

News...or Gossip???

For the last couple of days, an interesting news story has been circulating among cruisers... rumours perhaps? I'm not sure. But for your information and/or is the story of a young cruiser who was eaten  by cannibals on Nuku Hiva in the of the island we visited last year.

By the way, CELSIUS returned to the anchorage today. And THREE more sailboats showed up. All of a sudden we're not alone anymore! 

Birthday Celebrations

Oct 17th

John's birthday was yesterday. I've already blogged about the great Tour we
took. And the robbery was a bit of a birthday downer. But...I found ground
beef at the grocery store! This was a major highlight for Renova's crew. We
hadn't seen ground beef in many months. So I decided to turn this delicacy
into a birthday feast. We'd been talking about hamburgers and fries for
months...this was a perfect opportunity.

The hamburgers turned out great. The buns...well...they were perhaps a bit
denser than the rolls I usually buy. Maybe I didn't knead the dough enough.
Or too much. The french fries refused to crisp up, and were a touch on the
soggy side. The corn on the cob was mushy, which was disappointing, given
that I paid $10 for it. But knowing that it had likely been frozen and
thawed several times on it's journey from Australia, quite understandable.
Thankfully, the chocolate cake was (and still is) fabulous. Thank you Betty

Despite all was still a fan-super-tastic birthday dinner!! And,
I'm (almost) certain John would agree.

Robbed in Tarawa

It's true. We've been robbed.

After spending most of the day ashore on the Battle of Tarawa Tour, we
returned to the boat to find we'd been robbed.

We'd heard that there have been thefts here. ICE lost their dinghy oars and
a fuel can. CELSIUS had been boarded, broken into, and a few items were
taken from their boat - hair clippers, palm pilot, etc.

Knowing this, we'd been careful. We always lock the boat when we leave,
including the cockpit lockers. On shore, we lock up the outboard and spare
oars to the dinghy. But, these guys were clever. They just broke the locks
on our cockpit lockers and got access to these big storage lockers.
Surprisingly, they didn't take much. They looked through John's tackle box,
but didn't see anything they liked. They didn't take any of the zillions of
coils of rope we have, nor the dinghy fuel, the tools, or speargun. Odd.
Instead, they took some snorkelling gear. They left behind the broken mask
and the old black snorkel, and took our two remaining masks and snorkels.
But left our fins. They also took a dive knife, and a pair of neoprene

It's all a terrible shame. A bad memory in a country that has become our
favourite destination of our past two years of cruising. And...the worst
part is that the cockpit locks are now broken, and will be expensive to
replace - more so than the lost gear. Not to mention that we have to always
have one person on the boat.

So, it's with a bitter taste in our mouth that we prepare to leave Tarawa.
Earlier than planned. But, if we can't both leave the boat, we may as well
move on.

Now we'll get busy with a few remaining internet jobs, and wait for a
weather window to take us to Majuro in the Marshall Islands - our home for
the next several months. According to the weather forecasts, I don't think
we'll be waiting long. It looks like the wind will pick up by the end of the

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Battle of Tarawa Tour

Those of you who know John are already aware that he's a history buff. Especially war history. He loves the stuff.

So, for his birthday treat, I booked us on the WWII Betio Battlefield Tour by Molly's Tours.

Molly has a few odds and ends in her front yard!

Molly picked us up at the wharf in the bus, and took us back to her house to watch a dvd on the Battle. The Battle of Tarawa was one of the bloodiest battles in US Marine Corps history. After the video, we jumped on the bus and walked to the various war remains that lay scattered across the islet. Although we'd seen many of the sites on our own previous explorations, Molly's descriptions and additional information added to our knowledge and made the tour interesting!

Remains of an American Tank

An unexpected surprise was walking through various villages on our way to the beach relics and buried bunkers. We was how the locals are living in very cramped quarters. We talked to a couple of men who were digging a new well, and had come across machine gun parts, and ammunitions. In some cases, we saw bunkers, gun mounts, and search light bases in yards and between homes.
Tank track buried in the sand

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Around Abaiang

Oct 5

Our friend, Ngaluenga, offered to tour us around the island for an afternoon - we jumped at the chance. A few of the sights we saw.

First we had to fill up with gas. Here, the two guys are measuring our gas into 2L plastic bottles. 
Measuring the fuel

Full service

Boat repairs - notice they are stitching the boat together!

The tower of the catholic church - built in 1907

View of the village's large canoe shed from the tower

Cutting toddy - collecting the sap from the tree, to be fermented into a local brew

Our host, Ngaluenga, and his granddaughter, Merri

The best singer on the island...performing in a private concert just for us!

Kids of Abaiang

Oct 5

The kids at Abaiang LOVED to have their photo taken. They love to look at the camera's screen and see the pics of themselves. Here's a few:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Terio Islet - Abaiang

After saying goodbye to our friend on Abaiang, we set off the following day to the other side of the lagoon. We planned to stop for the night at Terio, where an Englishman has a small rest house on this beautiful islet. We went ashore and met Derrik, who seemed happy for the opportunity to speak english, and we were happy to hear about his 30 years of experience in the South Pacific.

When he heard we were on our way to Tarawa, he asked if we would take an eskie (cooler in Aussie-speak) of clams with us. Of course!! Early the next morning, Derrik paddled the heavy cooler of clams to the boat. We were able to easily meet his daughter in Tarawa, and pass on the clams to be sold while still fresh.

Derrik and the boys paddle the clams to Renova. Notice their typical Kiribati paddles - chunks of wood.

We're now back in Tarawa, to resupply, and organize a few odds and ends. But Abaiang was so beautiful, that I suspect we'll be back there soon.

Leaving Abaiang...for now

Abaiang has been fun. Although the tide has limited our time on the shore, we've been able to walk on most days. Our friend, Ngaluenga, arranged for a motorbike for us to see some of the island. So he and his daughter took us to see the large Catholic Church in a village called Koinawa. We walked up the tower, had a look around and took a few pictures.
En route, some of the locals offered to seek out the island's best singers to perform for us, if we would provide some funds for kava. We were initially skeptical, but our host was encouraging so we decided to go for it. When we returned from the village, first the local policeman and the bar owner performed for us. Soon after, the husband and wife singer team joined us in the kava bar, and sang local songs for us. Our host translated the songs for us, most of which were love songs. Unfortunately, one of the mics was giving
them problems, and constantly buzzed and offered screeching feedback. They didn't seem to mind, this must have been normal for them! And, there wasn't any Kava to be found on all the island!

Finally, we took Ngaluenga to the boat for a quick tour.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Navigating by the Sun

I have never found our boat's position using our sextant - the odd device
used by navigators for centuries to measure the position of the sun, thus
allowing them to plot their position. Sort of.

We know of a few cruisers who carry a sextant. We know of even fewer
cruisers who know how to use it. After all, it is complicated. We've heard
that some cruisers use it as a hobby - we haven't met them yet. Most carry
it in case of catastrophic failure - the boat is hit by lightning and all
electronic devices are destroyed or multiple GPS failures (because everyone
carries a spare or two...don't they). Same for us. Should some calamity
befall us and our three GPS units are not working, we can get home using the
sextant to navigate. Well. That's the idea, anyway.

I've taken a couple of informal tutorials on how to do this. The first was
from Bob in Mag Bay on the west coast of Baja, Mexico. He showed us how to
use the sextant, and take a noon sight. The second was with Steve in Puerto
Vallarta. He showed me a fabulous way to do all the myriad of calculation on
a calculator, thus eliminating the need for the three volume sight reduction
tables. And, I've read Blewitt's book several times, so I felt I had a clue.
But I'd never tried to put all the pieces together to actually take a sun
sight, do the calculations, and plot my position.

So while we sit here with time on our hands, I've spent the last week
re-reading Blewitt's "Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen". Then finally, I
took a sun sight. Well, actually I took 5 in a row, and averaged the result.
So far, so good.

Then, I sat down with the Nautical Almanac, my sight reduction tables, and
my trusty Blewitt, and tried to calculate my position. Well. The
frustration!! Most of my problems stemmed from the fact that I was using a
2010 Nautical Almanac. And...with a few alterations, it can be used for
2011. But I goofed it up, didn't add the necessary 87 degrees, and found my
calculated position was an ocean away from my assumed position. Not OK.

I worked at this for a few hours each day for FOUR days. Finally, yesterday,
I figured out my mistake. And it worked!! I found my line of position. But
just one line of position. Which means my boat could be anywhere along that
line. A line of infinite distance, by the way. In theory, you should take
several sun sights throughout the day, and then you'll be able to use the
different lines of position that you generate for each sight to pinpoint
your location. So now, I just need to start all over, take a few more sun
sights, and do a few more calculations...

I'm feeling pretty good about this new found knowledge. By sometime next
month, I might be able to tell you where we are. But of course, by that
time, we'll have moved on.

Labels: Navigation, books

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Am I Doing Here?

This is what was going through my mind, as I was rowing my heart out, naked,
against the wind, in pouring rain, at 1 am last night.


Here's the back story.

At 11pm, we awoke to a all-hands-on-deck fire drill. This is a regular
event. All Renova's crew are mustered, and work quickly to close every hatch
and port hole. It's raining. And, it's coming down hard enough to justify
the buckets, so we venture outside and hang our big laundry tubs from each
side of the boat where they will catch the water draining from the decks. We
quickly dash back inside, soaked. After a half hour or so, the rain stops,
we collect the buckets, and return to bed.

No problem. This is typical. It happens a few times a week. Sometimes we
deploy the buckets. Sometimes it's just a sprinkle. Rain water tastes better
than anything we collect from shore, so we try to take advantage of it when
it comes. And, it's free.

Anyway. Back to my story.

At about 1:30 am...another rain storm. This time, the boat is already closed
up, so the captain sleeps on. I go onto deck to deploy the buckets. It is
pouring. And I'm drenched within seconds. No biggie. I can use the shower.
But it's irritating to go back to bed with wet hair, so when it is time to
collect the buckets about 30 minutes later, I put on our rain hat. It's red.
Scotty gave it to us a few years ago, and it is our go-to-hat. Nice wide
brim. Super waterproof. Doesn't get as much use now that we're in the
tropics, but it is handy and will be in regular use again on our trip home.

So, out I go to collect the buckets. Wearing my wide-brimmed rain hat. As I
step into the cockpit, the wind grabs the hat and throws it into the water.
Poop. I look at it floating. It's moving fast. I need to jump in, but I'm
worried I will lose sight of it, once I'm in the water. So, I yell for John
- "John, I need you. Bring the spotlight"! This is not a typical fire drill.
He's on the deck in seconds. As he finds the hat in the beam of the light,
I'm looking at the dark, frothy, white-capped water. I have visions of
sharks (even though we haven't seen a single shark in this lagoon yet). I
decide not to swim. I go for the dinghy. But we have two lines holding the
dinghy to the boat. It takes me a few seconds to get it untangled and free,
then I'm rowing desperately towards John's light. But the light is moving,
he's searching for the hat. Oh no. I row around in the dark, searching and
realize I'm fighting a losing battle. I turn the dinghy around, and row
towards the boat, which has gotten really far away. The wind is howling (or
it feels that way), the waves are growing, and the rain is back in full
force. I can hardly see the boat, as I scramble to dig in and pull towards
the light. I feel like it takes forever. But, soon enough, I'm back on
board, bringing in the buckets, and drying off.

Just another day on Renova.

As I doze off to sleep, I realize that I will be happy to pay our water
taxes when we are back on terra firma, and I look forward to having water
appear magically from the faucet.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kiribati Rat Tails...

Ok...stretch your mind way back.... Think of the 80's. Think about neon head
bands. And parachute pants. Remember the fad for guys to wear their hair
short, but with a lovely long piece of hair that extended from the nape of
their neck. We called them "rat tails".

Well...I'm seeing it again. Everywhere. In the Kiribati, we see rat tails on
young men, old men, boys, EVERYWHERE!! Sometimes hanging loose. Sometimes
braided. Always long. Very common.

And reminiscent of my junior high school buddies, Ty and Toomer - they would
be proud.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inventory of Broken Stuff

It's been another busy month aboard Renova, in terms of stuff that has
broken. Here's a quick list:

- whisker pole broken in two
- spinnaker sail ripped
- alternator quit (spare installed)
- transmission troubles (repair in progress)
- GPS behaving oddly
- stove drip plate screws (not affecting use)
- outboard engine impeller (replaced)
- Lifeline broken (replaced)
- Traveller block broken (repaired)
- speedometer broken
- My sunglasses broken
- John's sunglasses overboard

Ahhh....this isn't uncommon. Everyone we talk to has a constant stream of
broken bits. But this many things in one month is unusual. Even for us.
We're grateful we have so many spares, and John's expertise to keep us
floating!! After all isn't the definition of cruising: boat repairs in
foreign ports??

Labels: maintenance, Renova, gear

Leisure time in Abaiang

Life in Abaiang is pretty laid back.

Once again, our beach access is limited by the tides, but we're less
frustrated here. We're happy to be hanging on the boat. Most days we do some
boat chores in the morning, have a mid-day siesta, then head to shore at
high tide in the afternoon. Most evenings, we watch a movie after dinner.

A family in the village has adopted us. They are two teachers, their son,
and their grand-daughter. Lovely. They invited us into their home for a
rest, and we chatted, drank coconut, and shared stories. We returned the
following evening and shared dinner with them - salted fish and rice. We're
hoping to have them to the boat for a meal - perhaps tomorrow.

The village is picturesque, the children love to see us and practice their
English, and yesterday they were chasing us down the road, asking us to take
photos of them!

The anchorage is absolutely blissful. While there is a steady and often
strong wind, we are well protected and the boat hardly moves. Finally, we
are able to sleep peacefully.

Labels: Abaiang, Kiribati, Gilbert islands, food.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Arrived at Abaiang, Kiribati

We made the day trip from Tarawa to Abaiang in less than 7 hours. It was a
lovely sail with winds from 15-20 knots - slightly forward of the beam. The
pass was easy to find with the waypoints we had on hand, yet was directly up
wind. We tried to tack back and forth, but with the current pushing against
us, we made no headway, and so the engine was turned on to help push us into
the lagoon. The waves through the pass were high, and I was continually
soaked as I stood on the bow looking for coral heads. It was a wonderful and
refreshing spray, and I was so pleased to be in a place where the water was
once again clear and clean! We anchored on the eastern side of the lagoon,
and I immediately took a swim. Tomorrow we'll head ashore to explore. David
and Pauline on SV Wasatch (US sailboat that we met in Tarawa) are also here.

Labels: Kiribati, Gilbert Islands, Abaiang, passage.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Off to Explore

After hanging in Tarawa for a while, we're now motivated to see a nearby island. Tomorrow (Sunday), we'll move on to Abaiang - a small atoll a short day sail north of Tarawa. We'll leave in the morning, and expect we'll have our anchor set by mid-afternoon. We're looking forward to returning to pristine waters and the traditional Kiribati lifestyle.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hanging in Tarawa

We're hanging in Tarawa. John has fabricated a brace that will hold our
transmission in place. So, that hurdle is overcome. For now.

We've done a bit of exploring here. We jumped on a bus, and travelled to
some of the other islets surrounding the lagoon. We checked out some of the
WWII relics that have been left behind here - Japanese guns and bunkers
mostly, and an American tank rusting on the beach. We also had yet another
fabulous lunch of Chinese food, and wandered through a few villages.

This place isn't ideal for shopping. We're having trouble finding fresh
produce. You have to know when a shipment is coming in, and be prepared to
pay for it. We paid $1.25 each for two tomatoes yesterday. And we though we
were getting the tourist price when we reluctantly paid $0.60 per egg the
other day. Only to find out later, that other stores were more expensive!!
YIKES. But, we're slowly getting re-stocked. We'll likely spend at least
another month here in Kiribati, before we move on to the Marshalls.

I've been feeling a bit under the weather the last couple of days.
Really...who gets the sniffles in the tropics??? Ridiculous.

Labels: Kiribati, Tarawa, engine, sightseeing, food, provisioning

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Few Images of Kanton

The Moray Eel are their favorite fish

Eric sews up a Kiribati courtesy flag

Hermit crabs feast on shark

Rooting around amongst the junk

A fire extinguisher from the 50s (?)

A tribute to the Samoan Clipper

Katua and Davis show off their afternoon catch

Tires are a common toy around here

Cutting up the cake tabacco

The daily slaughter - tonight we're eating Trevaly

Eric at the tiller of the USS President Taylor

A few of the bullet tips we collected on the beach

Fish drying in the sun
I've also added a few pictures to the blog posts from Kanton - look back in the blog to check them out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Arrived in Tarawa, Kiribati

We made the move. We decided to head to Tarawa, the main island in Kiribati,
to work on the engine. I was disappointed that we didn't stay for Saturday's
mass and feast, but the weather forecast showed us that after Friday, the
winds were going to drop dramatically. So, on Friday morning, we went ashore
to say our good-byes. Masa and Bwebweniman, who have been so friendly, and
have hosted us for tea, were sad to see us go. We left them a small gift of
canned pears and some tea. After we left, they called us back to give us
their pandanas mat. This was a big deal. After all...they were just visiting
this village for the church celebrations, and this would be their sleeping
mat. I tried to refuse. But she wouldn't hear of it. So, we now have a
beautiful, hand woven pandanas leaf mat. Gorgeous.

Our overnight passage was uneventful. We made good time. Too good. We
arrived in the dark. So, I just tacked away from the island, and sailed for
an hour, before returning to the island in the daylight. The pass is HUGE,
and there are many tankers here, so it was a fairly easy entrance, and we
quickly found a nice spot to anchor, fairly close to the big city of Betio
(pronounced Besio...remember Kiribati language pronounces 'TI' as 'SI' or

Although we had placed bets on how many sailboats would be here - we were
both right. John guessed there would be none. I guessed one. Turns out there
is one motor sailor here - from Australia. They dinghied over after wee
anchored and gave us some local info on hardware stores, the best spot for
chinese food, and groceries. After a quick nap, we went ashore. The town is
pretty dirty and crowded, as we'd heard. But we did find a great Chinese
restaurant, and a store selling eggs and sausages! MMMmmm

Today has been raining on and off all day. Very unusual for us. We've had no
sun. But, we've been collecting rain water, and our water tanks are full!!
We're now running the generator to charge our batteries, so we can watch a
movie later. ICE (the motor sailor) has invited us over for dinner, so we
look forward to chatting and hearing more about the island. They've been
here for quite some time as they wait for engine parts, so they'll be a
great source of local info.