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.