'We who adventure upon the sea, however humbly, cannot but feel that we are more fortunate than ordinary people and that we have something which we could not tell nor they understand.'
Or more simply 'sometimes a man’s got to do what a man's got to do'
Started 5 days before departure with a farewell hug from Pauline Boocock (Don’t they ever expect to see me alive again)?
The day before, a hug from Annette Massey along with 'Godspeed' and an offer of her St Christopher medal - declined because I already have Jesus with me. A hug and 'Godspeed' and 'safe sailing' from Marlene Partridge. Farewell from family including 'Goodbye' from Father-in-law along with a firm handshake. Reciprocal promises of prayer support. Went to Auckland's West harbour marina arriving 4 minutes before ETA despite heavy holiday weekend traffic. Transport courtesy of Linda Inglis. 2 hugs from her.
Geoff Bendall had phoned after the briefing the previous night to say that departure had been postponed 24 hours due to weather. A front with winds to 50 knots expected Saturday morning 0300-0700 over Auckland according to Bob McDavitt (top meteorologist). Visited by John & Lynne off WINDFLOWER, then went to bed. Slept until 0800 hours although did hear high wind during the night. Geoff phoned his brother who urged him to leave on the 1st as originally planned. Asked him if we should leave under bare poles streaming a drogue!!! A yacht carrying a German couple was rescued off North Cape yesterday in Force 9. Apparently they had some firearms amongst their possessions although they had not declared them when they left New Zealand. Fatigue and being rolled twice were the reasons for activating their EPIRB. The first roll had taken him overboard.
Although the front has gone it will be some hours before the sea settles so think we are making the correct decision. Spent the day doing small jobs.
Owners & Skipper: Geoff and Jane Bendall.
Crew: Patrick Peritore, Simon Jantke and me.
The vessel is KARANGI, ZMA 7325 a 38' John Brookes design built 38 years ago by Salthouse and Wild (Col Wild) before the firm became Salthouse Brothers. John Brookes' son, Don, was the inspector of KARANGI for category 1 certificate.
Gratitude to Annette Green, Lee Allsop, Geoffrey Hambling, Ed Pahl and the Inglis family for the loan of equipment. Thanks for their confidence that they expect me to return the equipment personally. Ed also said he may be in touch. John Billinghurst is also going to listen in. Rang Joy and heard that Susannah had won 'player of the day' at netball. Who needs an excuse to phone a nice lady like Joy? Went to bed and slept well.
Departure date: 2nd June.
Had to call at Westhaven to pick up some chain from Geoff's brother Gary. He accompanied us past Rangitoto in his 42' DREAMCHASER. Well named (built by Geoff). Left Westhaven at 1230 hours and passed numerous yachts heading into the harbour. One had a broken mast and another had a flying halyard. We could laugh because it had happened to us all at some stage or other. The wind at Tiri was 32 knots gusting 39 in the early afternoon. Later it was 40 gusting 47 knots. (Tailend) Charlie (the Aries wind vane) has been functioning well with the wind virtually dead astern. We have one reef in the main and although we initially tried the jib it was more trouble than it was worth. We put in a gybe off Rangitoto but apart from that we have not looked like adjusting the sails. G and P put a preventer on the boom. G and I have also just had a discussion about when a chop becomes a swell. Just past the Tiri channel I reckon it became a swell (currently 1.5-2 metres) from astern. P has been feeling seedy. The boat's motion makes writing difficult. We have been averaging just under 6 knots. Bitterly cold on deck. Simon's mother who was staying in Karori said there was snow there last night and the Desert Road is closed by snow for the second weekend in a row. I signed on for a tropical cruise not a frozen jaunt. G just asked P what he thought of the trip so far - 'Pretty cool' was the cryptic reply.
4th June: Yes, that's correct.
Yesterday was a write off day. On the 2nd the sea was green; yesterday the sea turned blue and the crew was green; today the bread is expected to turn green, the sky is blue (although largely covered in clouds) and the sea is grey.
On the first evening I asked G where we were going to anchor for the night because Joy said I had to have a good night's sleep each night. For a moment he didn't realise that I was joking.
At the end of my watch yesterday morning a front came through raising a nasty cross chop and a confused sea. I finished my watch but only just before mal de mer took over. I tried drinking salt water but after little improvement over 12 hours I finally used a stemetil suppository with good effect. I came off my afternoon watch 10 minutes early. Slept soundly after that and had 3 mouthfuls of a nice rice dish cooked by J but I thought better than to try the chicken.
By midnight (actually 1/4 past) when I woke I was feeling good. The other guys had decided to stand my watch for me so P was surprised when I showed up. I didn't know of their arrangement. We have been motoring since 1800 hours yesterday and overnight the swell of 1.5 metres had set in from the SE. The confused sea is now more orderly. Due to a misunderstanding (American accent 315 degrees vs. NZ 350 degrees) I initiated a heading more westerly than desired instead of North. This was then transferred through the watches of S and J before the error was discovered by G. at the start of his watch. Probably lost us 35 miles overnight. Over a 2 hour period yesterday the sea changed from a pea-green to a deep blue - quite a remarkable transformation.
The other noteworthy event yesterday morning was as we were shaking the reef out of the main S got clouted by the winch handle down his forehead. Fortunately he was only dazed but there is a lot of force in the machinery.
I had a thorough wash this morning. There is no wind so we have continued to motor. As the sails are furled Charlie has gone on strike so it is tiresome to have to steer all the watch. The position of the wheel means that one is either leaning right forward off the park bench at the stern or twisting around from the cockpit. Both positions are quite awkward. Still I guess the old-timers had to steer by hand too. P just made us some chilli for afternoon tea - not too hot (my request) but still very enjoyable. I think it reminds him of Corinna, his wife - a Mexican. Cooked steak and tomatoes, potatoes and cabbage for tea - delicious, we'll keep him on. Some phosphorescence tonight. At 1/4 to midnight the motor stopped - a fuel blockage of some type. We raised both sails but the best course we could steer was 270-300 M so we lowered them again and resorted to the motor again on a different tank. Somehow the fuel is not balancing between the tanks as it should. It occupied an interesting part of my watch. Visited during my watch by G just after my 2am fix and the boat was 50 degrees off course, and by P who was still too hot after the earlier sail work. Course is still 350 degrees magnetic. We still have too much cloud cover for a sight and little sign of it improving. G has just told us that an old skipper once told him that the sun will shine through for a short time EVERY day. I have figured out that it is easy to find Fiji - exit Auckland harbour and take the first turn left.
Another thorough ablution this morning - it's becoming a habit. Still no sea life that we can see: some bird life. G saw a light a couple of nights ago and I thought I saw one astern just before that. This bit of the ocean looks just like that bit did yesterday or was it the day before. Apart from the radio the rest of the world might not exist. There is a barge floating semi-submerged we passed a couple of nights ago without sighting. It is making one knot NE. It was 60 miles E of us with 10 metres showing above water. We also heard last night that there is a rogue iceberg somewhere (but not near us). There is also a yacht in distress somewhere off the Marquises. All the other boats in the fleet are motoring. EILEAN - a 52 footer is doing 7.9 knots. They had to put in to the Bay of Islands for repairs. WINDEMERE II has been motoring for 2 days. Yesterday the land was 3914 metres away - straight down. This afternoon the breeze came in SW for several hours so we raised the genoa and engaged Charlie. Also the cloud cover broke but when the breeze died and we started motoring again, the sky looked ominous. The ominous sky came to nothing. Apparently we are in the middle of a ginormous high with very widely spaced isobars. It is virtually stationary. The water is a cobalt blue and the swell fluctuates between 0.5 and 3 metres SE. Were visited at dusk by 2 tiny (3 inch) red breasted land birds. They stayed in the rigging long enough for S to get a photo but his flash scared them away. They looked tired, as well they might. They were 120 miles from the nearest land which is the Kermadecs 300 miles from North Cape. Hope they find a ship to rest on before they make landfall. The early part of the night was very dark with heavy cloud cover. Were contacted after the evening sked by Ed Pahl on 'Trident'. That was a relief seeing I had missed my sked with Sueann yesterday. All is well at home and he said he would pass on my love to Joy.
I heard on my return that he had been listening in each night and then passing my co-ordinates to Joy. Noeleen, his wife, said after a few nights that Joy would not know what he was talking about but she was pleasantly surprised when Joy told her that she was plotting our progress on an atlas.
The radio contacts are a real source of comfort whilst at sea. Land dwellers cannot know the incredible conflict of emotions which occur with contact with land. The 2 main emotions are joy that someone 'out there' knows where I am and cares, coupled with a feeling of tremendous loneliness that one is so far from loved ones. After many months away from New Zealand I can still sense very deeply the intense loneliness when the SSB is turned off for the night. A very special tribute is paid to John Goater (Auckland Cruising Radio) who night after night is faithfully there to pass on messages and plot courses. Without people like him, cruising would be greatly impoverished. Later when we went cruising he became a real friend. Whenever we are cruising the family really enjoy listening to the evening sked. When it is over, the day ends. I think the radio builds a real sense of camaraderie amongst the cruising fraternity. Another enjoyable aspect is hearing people on the air over a period of time before meeting them. The mental picture one builds is almost always entirely different. One is able to share the highs and lows, the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and embarrassments of a friendly generous group. The idiosyncrasies of different people are also imitated by the children as well.
Good sunrise. I didn't see it because I was asleep. I really enjoyed my night watch, singing right through it. P had found that the boat wandered all over the ocean on his watch but when I took over I adjusted the steering for 1/4 hour then didn't touch it for 1/2 hour (echoes of Slocum).
We had a choice for breakfast this morning - take it or leave it - I cooked. We had fried eggs and tomatoes on toast. They were amused by the way I cooked the toast - on the element rather than under the grill. There were fried onions for the later ones. Everyone was complimentary including S although he insisted in cooking his own (to get out of doing the dishes I suspect).
Ablutions are less onerous as the days go by. I am not saying the sea water is hot yet but it certainly doesn't make me shiver anymore. I am wearing shorts today for the first time although when the breeze came in at lunchtime I put on a jersey.
Shot my first sun sight today - pretty good - only 57 miles out. At least I'm in the right ocean. This afternoon on my watch we put up the genoa and poled it out. Some of the swells appear to be about 5 metres high but because they are not steep it is very hard to assess. When everyone was below I tried to engage Charlie (they call him Dr Floppy now) but the wind was so light that I almost back winded the genoa (65 degrees off course). Put it down to experience. Took a photo this morning trying to show how big the swell was but I think the rolling of the boat will be more spectacular. Later S took a photo of me under the poled out genoa just to prove that we did sail some of the way. We also saw an albatross this afternoon (could have been a petrel) but it distanced itself from us before I had time for a photo. What do you photograph out here? Auckland over the horizon? Palm trees yet to come into view? A picture of a whale down deep?
Doused the genoa just after dark. Very starry night. Everyone remarked how many stars there were. I thought it was like a good clear night in Tauranga but was assured that it was clearer than in Auckland. Heard from PACIFIC PROPHECY who left West Harbour 1/2 hour before us bound for New Caledonia. They had motored for 4 days and had called at Norfolk Island today to buy some more fuel. They had no wind, no swell, no clouds, glassy evening sea. P bumped the throttle TWICE on his watch causing the motor to almost stall both times. He had been writing over the top of it and leaned/fell against it. G both times bounded out of bed to see what the problem was. Very rolly overnight. It had been fun cooking eggs until they solidified a little. It would pay to either use glue instead of cooking oil or to use a stick fry pan (different from a non-stick variety).
Annoyed during my night watch because I could not remember the Morse letter for 'Do you require assistance?' This is just in case a super tanker or a Royal Naval destroyer or US aircraft carrier should come over the horizon.
Saw two jet trails this morning so they are on the right course. I wish we could tell them because it would be of tremendous comfort to them I'm sure. J actually saw the planes. If we run out of fuel we can sail but if they run out of fuel they will require our assistance. Yesterday S ate the last banana and now he's worried about scurvy. I told him to eat the mould off the bread. Our first piece of mould appeared today - not bad for 5 days out. Had the genoa up until the wind died at lunchtime. Put both sails up at 1500 hours. They are both slatting a bit in the chop but we are persevering. No we are not. We are motor sailing with the genoa. We had a preventer on the main but it still slatted. As soon as we doused the main the whitecaps returned and we are making good speed. Should reach the tropics tomorrow. S gave me his copy of Ebbco sextant use and adjustment booklet tonight.
Someone must keep going South over the last couple of nights because the morning wash, with a bucket of seawater is cool. It's Saturday today so that means having to do the chores such as the washing. It's in the bucket of seawater at present. I'll rinse it after the agitator has done a thorough job. EILEAN passed us during the night. They are 4 miles ahead and 5 miles E. Last night they were 5 miles directly behind us. We didn't see them. TE ANAU (from Blenheim) is 100 miles E sailing in 20 knots. They should get to Fiji early Monday.
Sailing should be a freedom experience but we still put on safety harnesses every time we go outside unless it is very calm and we are in the cockpit with somebody else. (Is my Mum reading this?). It's not calm at present with small 0.5 - 1 metre swell but choppy. P is still having difficulty keeping his feet. He just came lurching across the cabin towards me with his arms out. I don’t think it was with amorous intent. Sometimes he reminds me of my friend Glenn Cue with his American ways. He is an undergraduate lecturer at Auckland University. His speciality is genetics. We had an interesting discussion about genetics. I felt it was very fatalistic as, according to him, every decision we make has been genetically determined.
We're sailing - at last - 2 sail reaching with no motor. The sound of no motor is deafening after the past few days and nights. 10 knots from the E. Just after raising the sail I looked out for whales but instead saw my first flying fish of the trip - only about 5 inches long. Then I spotted an orange buoy (pronounced booee by P) 100 metres off the starboard beam. The place now looks like a boat belonging to people of Vietnamese parentage with my washing drying on the lee lines.
Clothes dry now. We have been averaging 6 knots under sail for the last 8 hours. We are in the SE trades at last. G has said we'll shorten the foresail overnight. If this breeze keeps up we may be at the Navula Passage by late Monday. Took some photos of the boat sailing well in 18 knots. When I was up at the bow I was almost lifted off my feet. Glad I was holding on firmly. G lost a bucket overboard. We put a big furl in the jib overnight but are still doing 4.9 -5.7 knots. Just before the reef went in we took several big waves over the coaming. It's more manageable now. The masthead light hasn't been working for several nights so if a ship comes over the horizon we will turn on the anchor light. Still with the port/starboard lights on the bow it makes a spectacular sight with the spray coming on deck. Entered the tropics at 2020 hours.
Came on deck at midnight for my midnight/0230 watch to find a ship's light 2 points off the starboard bow. Probably EILEAN. She had been visible since 2100 hours but disappeared about 0200 hours. About 1/4 past midnight I was looking out over the port beam at the small amount of phosphorescence in the bow wave, then when I looked over the starboard beam several minutes later there was what appeared to be a cruise ship dead abeam, all lit up. It gave me a big fright until I realised that it was the moon rising - the upper limb was entirely flat and the lower limb was still below the horizon.
Made some breakfast and took some porridge to the cabin boy, S who was sleeping again. He didn't know that I had cooked it so he later complimented J on her cooking. He did make disparaging remarks about sticky spoons until I pointed out that he had done last night's tea dishes. P had assisted with very helpful? hints on cooking porridge. I'm worried about him. He spends a lot of time in the saloon. Is he an alcoholic? He even sleeps there. Mind you, so do I. This morning it looks as though rats have been into the chilli-bin (actually I think P put a hole in it last night with his foot on one of his out-of-control forays across the saloon). Last night being Saturday night we had a concert. There was only one item. After I had sung the second verse I had the audience screaming - for me to stop.
This afternoon we all had a very enjoyable chat in the cockpit for several hours. There are a few more flying fish around but I still want to see a whale. I was hit by a flying fish this afternoon during my watch - it was dead - S threw it at me. Now I know what it's like to be slapped in the face by a wet fish. Had to rush the radio sked tonight as we had too much sail on. We reefed the main. It went well with S calling the shots. The spreader lights greatly assist. I must get some candles for my trailer-sailer, they'll be cheaper. Then we rolled the jib almost right away. It certainly made the motion much easier. When I went out to do the sail change I went flying across the cockpit before I was hooked on. Fortunately I landed on top of portly P - he does have his uses. G cautioned us sternly to be safe. It wasn't until after completing the sail change that he confessed that although he was on the helm, he had not been harnessed on throughout. P cooked tea and I cleaned up afterwards - spaghetti and sauce everywhere - he's certainly messy. He's been talking to himself more over the last few days. At least he's found someone of equal intellect - still he is only a junior professor. I'm not convinced that he is really enjoying this trip.
P had winds of 25-0-25 knots. I had 5-20 knots. In the first 1/2 hour of my watch I raised 2 lights - one 2 points off the starboard bow and the other 4 points off the starboard bow. Methinks I saw one off the port bow and one off the starboard beam too but not entirely convinced. THIS OCEAN IS GETTING CROWDED. Yesterday we heard a conversation on the VHF as CHANTICLEER came up behind EILEAN. She was complaining that CHANTICLEER (Big wave) was going to steal her wind so CHANTICLEER went right around EILEAN. We suggested that EILEAN should lee bow her. In all the miles of ocean, it comes down to this.
When S took over from me a heavy rain squall came through with wind up to 35 knots so S and G took off all sail and we have been motoring since.
RORY MOHR (Big red - her original owner had been a big red headed man) raced past us over the Western horizon during the night doing 9 knots. On this morning's sked they had slowed to 7.5 knots. At 0830 hours we had 110 miles to go to Navula Passage so should make it at about daybreak tomorrow. It looks as though there should be 4 other boats there about the same time. TE ANAU is through Navula Passage now.
During my early watch I reminisced on my purposes, aims and aspirations for the voyage including the scripture I had been given by God (Psalm 107:23-30 ). Only the last line to be fulfilled now. God is faithful.
I've just calculated that over the 9 day voyage with one wave every 5 seconds on average, we have encountered approximately 155,520 waves, give or take a few.
SALUSA and WINDEMERE II are behind us. WINDEMERE II only just now entering the trades. They tried sailing when the rest of us motored.
The morning wash was delightful with 2 nozzles on the shower (2 buckets) - warm but still no steam coming off the water yet.
We're motor sailing with 1/2 the jib out at present. The name KARANGI means 'Far Horizon' or 'Food God' depending on which tribe one asks. There was a Karangi, a boom tender, which was one of the vessels to go to the assistance of the SS 'Runic' when she ran up on Middleton Reef in the 1950's. I have just come off watch. The island of Kandavu lies off the starboard beam 55 miles away so we cannot see it. Another flying fish came aboard earlier. This one was about a foot long. The water is getting pretty shallow now - it's only 1280 metres deep. I think the deepest water we crossed was 4900 metres. I've been emotionally fragile today. Probably looking towards the end of the voyage and leaving friends. Also eager to get home to Joy. She's wonderful, never stopping me from having dreams and she allows me (nay encourages me) to fulfil the important ones. I do really appreciate her love, wisdom and counsel. And the sacrifices she makes to enable the fulfilment of my dreams. Thanks also to the girls for putting lollipops all through my luggage. I enjoyed one every night-watch. When S took over the watch he brought me a mini moro bar every night so on the last night I gave him a lollipop for which he may be forever grateful. (He had eaten my oddfellows earlier).
Late in the evening on P's watch the wind had increased, swung 100 degrees, and stopped completely, all in 10 minutes. At the time manoeuvring with CHANTICLEER was underway. G dropped all sail and we have been motoring since then. CHANTICLEER had a red stern light (just like a car, I suppose). As well they were zigzagging all over the ocean - as a result of excessive brown liquid intake they said over the VHF. Anyway by the time I came on watch they were off the starboard quarter and there they stayed.
My watch was relatively quiet with hand steering on a compass heading of 340 degrees. After my watch I was awoken at my request as we entered the Navula Passage. We passed Navula light at 0705 hours. Officially this is the end of the voyage. Our ETA had been 1000 hours on 11/6 when we left New Zealand. Still when we anchored just off the leading lights of Navula Passage we were .01 mile out on our waypoint. This is 17.6 yards so I told G that the reading was from the wheelhouse and the anchor was on the other side of the waypoint. G took one look at the saloon this morning (where P and I slept) and said that it looked like the inside of a cheap Greek brothel. I said I couldn't comment!!
Well, here we are tied up at Lautoka wharf after a 3 hour motor of only moderate interest. Beautiful islands to the W and interesting boats heading out to them. When we arrived off the wharf we were told to anchor 1/2 mile off the wharf by a harbour board official. The other boats; RORY MOHR, CHANTICLEER and EILEAN all complied. We were circling preparing to comply when we were instructed to pull alongside the wharf, so we did.
When we had been anchored inside the Navula Passage we had been visited by a courtesy boat from Vuda Point Marina. They gave us all the documentation to fill in as we motored to the wharf. They also gave us a big chilli bin filled with sponsor’s products including fruit and drinks.
Anyway here we are still at the wharf. We have been through agriculture with my camel-hide hat. Then G went to customs. He had been only about 5 minutes from finishing the documentation when the official told him it was lunchtime so come back in an hour or so. That has been done and we are waiting for them to come to inspect the boat. Then it's off to immigration. Just for the record, I think it was June when we arrived.
WE WUZ ROBBED. The customs official didn't even come on board. He stood on the wharf for several minutes not saying anything as we all stood on deck and glared back at him. Then he told us we were cleared. We hopped on foreign soil (actually a concrete wharf) while G finished clearing with immigration to sign us, the crew, off the ship. Then we motored to Vuda Point Marina. What a fiasco docking was. We initially had a bow line to a buoy lying off but as I paid out the bow line P tried throwing a stern line ashore - 4 times!!! Then in exasperation from everybody watching including the dozen or so Fijian workmen (a contradiction in terms). J picked up the line and easily lobbed it the 20 feet to the jetty. Then as I continued paying out the bow line I ran out of scope but that was after we ran backwards into the only culvert in the marina so we still couldn't reach the shore. Finally we turned the boat around and went bow to shore on the next berth. G got heaps from the crew because he was fending off EILEAN assisted by the well endowed bikini clad American lady from that vessel as she fended us off too. Finally we tied up. 4 hours for clearance preceded by a 3 hour motor from Momi Bay and a 1 hour motor to Vuda Point made for a full day. We dined until late at the adjacent ‘First Landing’ restaurant. Along with the marina, the restaurant had only been open 3 months. Nevertheless the building looked old with holes in the walls of the toilet block etc. However the cuisine was lovely. I had a Walo steak which I couldn't finish. It cost $14-95.
So why did we do the trip?
G made no bones about the fact that it was a means to an end. His holiday starts now.
J enjoyed it in a quiet way, although her maternal instincts longed to see her 12 year old daughter, Kimberley, again. She's flying up on the 15th. She was the quiet one of the trip. J probably did about 1/2 of the cooking - always pleasant and unassuming.
S injected youthful enthusiasm into the whole situation. He also had a great attitude when the pressure was on. He is now experienced enough to qualify for Yachtmaster Ocean. He, along with girlfriend, Stacey, is off in 2 weeks time for 2 years OE in Europe - hopefully getting involved in boating management for rich guys in the Mediterranean. P didn't really enjoy the trip. He wanted to do the ultimate trip and now he has done it he can cross it off his list. His history is sailing his 15 footer on lakes in Missouri. I suspect his CV said that his experience was in sailing boats overseas as opposed to sailing over seas. He was the odd man out on the trip, often being nauseated and nauseous. In fact it happened so often I accused him of being pregnant with his morning sickness. His description of all people, including Americans (of which he's one) was 'jerks' - I rest my case. He was largely incompetent and this showed increasingly throughout, culminating in his throwing the line short 4 times. I guess it takes skill to do that.
Me-I always did it to gain experience for 2 years time. There were times that I hated it especially seasickness and motoring with the noise and the fumes but there were times when it compared favourably with almost any other physical endeavour including work. The one regret I have is that I didn't get to see any whales. In fact there was a lot less sea life than I had expected. S said he saw a dolphin one day but nobody else did. The overriding sentiment is one of intense satisfaction with a big smile on my face.
Woke early and caught windowless bus to Lautoka (65 cents) and after several hours’ taxi back ($9). Then to airport and home. Arrived at airport in shorts, jandals and hat. Every hour of the flight I put on one more article of clothing to find that when I arrived in Auckland that it had been snowing during the day on the Kaimais.
Some quotes used during the trip.
Me to S. 'Stick by me kid and you won't go wrong' and 'I'm tough - very tough' (just in case he wasn't sure)..
'There is a very large possibility of something going wrong on the voyage but there is a very small possibility of anything serious going wrong.'--Geoff. (Our sumlog stopped working as did our masthead light and we lost one bucket overboard - nothing serious).
'There are no experts on ocean voyaging in small vessels; just wise survivors'- Tim Findley.
'He brought them to their desired haven' Psalm 107:30.