12 November, 2014

Malua returns to Batemans Bay

I entred Sydney Harbour on 7 November after a interesting sail south along the NSW coast.  A severe thunderstorm off The Hawksbury reminded me how dangerous it can be close to shore.  The rain came down so hard I could not see the bow and the winds as always in these conditions came from the south then switched to the north.  As the wind and rain started I dropped all sails and started to motor off shore.  Thankfully it only lasted less than an hour but I had run before the wind to enter Pittwater.  I decided not to go in to The Basin but shelter behind the headland in America Bay.  A lovely quite anchorage.

I went round to The Basic to meet Sundancer ii when they arrived after a very wet ride south along the same NSW coast as I.  Good to see them again after last meeting in French Polynesia.
It was now time for me to enter Sydney Harbour; the start of this adventure sailing around (not round) the world. It was a slow sail into the southerly and I entered through the heads on the 7 November 2014 and back to the Fish Market.  I was welcomed by the family and the youngest crew member Theo who enjoyed a short sail on the harbour.
Iain came on board for the cruise south down the coast back to Batemans Bay.  We had to wait for the high tide before we crossed the river bar to enter the Clyde River and the marina.  I have been allocated a place in the rejuvenated marina.  I did not have to bribe anyone nor did I have to approach the Registrar of Cooperatives to investigate the managers.  What a refreshing change in the ten years I have been away.  I do hope the new owners have success and are able to break the strangle hold of the vested interest which have held the marina back for more than 20 years.
The Bay Post came to interview me which was an experience.  All they wanted to know was the dangers faced and the disasters.  Mine was not a great story but got printed anyway.
Malua is now undergoing a major refit and upgrade to all the little things I did not complete when I set off in September 2004 sailing south to Tasmania Hobart then on to New Zealand and the circumference of the Tasman Sea.
This blog will be updated as I achieve some mile stones with Malua.  But keep in touch either through my Facebook or Malua web site or Malua's Facebook.

05 November, 2014

Australian Arrival New Caledonia to Coffs Harbour

Malua's position 30 18.250S 153 08.652E at 17:00 on 2/11/2014 Nil to go

The passage from Noumea New Caledonia to Coffs Harbour Australia was 868 nm and took six day six hours about 150 hours or about 5.8 knots average speed. I motored for 100 hours or 66 % of the time. Not a great passage but I arrived on schedule with slightly less and rather more wind that was forecast.

I was called into the inner harbour at 8:30 and two Customs and Border Protection officers came aboard. One sat at the table and completed all the forms while the other asked the usual question regarding where I had been and what food I had on board. He snooped around the cupboards the opened the fridge with his bright yellow plastic bag at the ready. He took all my cheese three blocks of American vacuum sealed cheese, plus butter, milk and mayonnaise. The he started to look for meat and veg but found nothing. Again looking for honey, and any form of seeds. He had to ask advice from his senior regarding the nuts in my breakfast mix; that was Ok.

Have I any wood product. Nothing of interest except the model outrigger canoe that had been given to me by the school at Malua Bay Vanuatu. I did not give it a thought but he felt that there where some bora beetle holes and I would either have to give it up to be destroyed or have it irradiated. I took some pictures and reluctantly gave it up to be destroyed.

After a quick zap of my credit card for $380 they gave me the completed paperwork and welcomed me home to Australia. Easy, pleasant and as always in Australia expensive. When the Departments moved to a cost recovery model I argued against it as an Australian Tax payer. I said limiting the Department budget via Government allocations in the budget would force them to become more efficient and not have the fall back of just raising their fees for service every year unilaterally with out a debate in the Parliament. For foreigners I don't mind but for taxpayers it is just not on. I am pleased to see that the public servants next pay rise will below the cost of living increases.

All I have to do now is reach Sydney and then on to Batemans Bay and finally Malua Bay Australia.

A Magical Moment on Malua

On Passage to Oz Day 6 And the wind Blew

Malua's position 30 10.401S 154 21.455E at 06:30 on 2/11/2014 62nm to go

And did the wind blow. From three days of no wind the wind increased quickly to 25 knots all from behind then at sunset it was blowing 30 to 40 knots from the NW. The seas came up so I had to run before the wind with two reefs in the main and the small staysail. This course was well off my rhum line but it did take me off the coast and out of the way of any shipping. I was happy to just settle down for the night. Malua was handling the conditions well although we would get a wave or two over the deck or along the side deck. The course would also put be in a good position when the southerly change came through in that I would be able to tack and then either reach in to Coffs Harbour if I was that far south or beat into the harbour.

The wind continued most of the night at about 25 knots then at 3:00 am it dropped. I started the engine and turned Malua's bow towards Coffs Harbour only 75 nm away. I expected the southerly front to arrive within an hour. I was not disappointed. It came upon me with steadily increasing wind from the SW at only 25 knots. I had an apparent wind angle of 120 an easy reach. At first light I had 62 nm to go and racing along on quite a flat sea at about 6 knots. Great I would reach Coffs before sunset.

The trip in was easy with a dropping wind and slight sea. I the went through the freezer. I had to through a lot a frozen meat away plus the onions and the last of the vegetables. I called Marine Rescue. Did a turn of the outer harbour and dropped the anchor just outside the inner harbour entrance. The boat was covered in salt spray but I was able to pack the sails and lines away and wait the night out. I had kept three pieces of beautiful French steak (new Zealand) and a large potato. I made French fries, onions and steak with a wine, mustard and mushroom sauce plus a great bottle of French wine. A great welcoming meal then went to bed in the main cabin to sleep till dawn.

Tomorrow I will enter the harbour and clear customs.

A Magical Moment on Malua

01 November, 2014

On Passage to Oz Day 5 The wind came

Malua's position 28 31.965S 156 43.785E at 08:00 on 1/11/2014 220nm to go

The wind finally came at midnight Friday. A bit after the forecast but I must be off their forecast area. I soon had the main up with one reef and the staysail flying. With glee I turned the key on the engine and the noise stopped. It was an strange feeling to glide through the water with only the sound of Malua and the waves outside. The sea was not the best as it was from the north on Malua's beam so we bounced around quite a lot. No waves over the side but I had to move far down into the trotter locker of my quarter berth to find a snug position that I was not rolling from side to side but that was why I made the berth almost 8 feet long. I was soon relaxed and watching the miles fade away.

I have a decision to make: follow the direct line to Coffs Harbour or go for a position 20 nm off the coast so when the southerly comes through I can tack towards the land and make the harbour entrance. At the moment (Saturday morning) I am heading for the waypoint off the coast but I will listen to the NSW weather forecast at 10:30 am today from BOM to establish their forecast for the Southerly change, its wind strength and direction. The next decision will be if I can make it into the harbour before dark. The quarter moon is up until almost 2:00 am so I will have the light of the moon and I do know that the loom from the town lights will help me see the breakwater and Mutton Bird Island. I wonder if Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue actually listen to the HF radio. If they are anything like the crew at Batemans Bay that technology is well beyond their competence so you have to use the VHF.

Not much happened yesterday on Malua. Almost finished the biography of Moitessier. I had forgotten that he sailed a number of times to Suvorov from Papeete to spend time with John Neal (an Island to Oneself) and that he tried to start a garden on the Tuamotu atoll of Ate. He left Polynesia disillusioned by the lack of drive of the locals to improve their conditions.

I can almost smell the land.

A Magical Moment on Malua
At 10/30/2014 10:03 PM (utc) our position was 28°43.45'S 156°25.87'E

31 October, 2014

On Passage to Oz Day 4

Malua's position 27 25.517S 158 25.624E at 08:00 on 31/10/2014 326nm to go

The AIS alarm went off as I was reading my book at about noon yesterday. I looked up and saw a type B vessel, ie a small craft at about 4.8nm off my starboard beam. I looked from the cockpit and just saw a vessel as it rose and fell in the slight sea. I called it by position because the AIS did not give its name. No response. I returned to my book. After about half an hour I got a call on the VHF 16 from a fishing vessel which was just a mile off my port bow. He had heard my call to the other and informed me that they were long line fishing boats working together out of Northern NSW laying their lines. He did not have AIS while his mate did but his mate only listened to channel 10 their fishing frequency. He had just arrived after travelling 450nm and was laying his line in a parallel line to my course and if I continued I would be OK.

I asked if he would swap a bottle of whiskey for a good size fish? He laughed and then said they as fishermen and where a zero alcohol vessel so no booze on board. Pity I said I had last swapped rum with the Cuban fishermen for 12 very large lobsters. "sorry mate non of those on these long lines" "hows the weather?" I asked.
"No wind for tomorrow Friday but will come up from the north for two days then turn south and settle down" "Not good for you but the calm sea is just great for me I hope to get a great Christmas bonus from this trip" "Have a good one but listen out on channel 10 and keep a look out for our line buoys"

I continued on trying to go north of the Gilford Tablemount because the bottom comes up to 350 m and the sea is always confused but if you get to the west I expected the current to flow south and take we to Coffs. I was cruising along in the very flat sea and I saw one of their line markers floating in the sea. I immediately disconnected the autopilot and turned hard to port to cross their line at right angles hoping that the line was more than two meters below the surface. I went over it with no problems and continued for about a mile or so before I resumed my course. I then started to pick up the up-welling current and I was off at about 7 knots but not for long. Back to the slow five knots that the Yanmar is pushing me along at.

I looked at my fuel situation. I left New Caledonia with 425 l in the fuel tanks and a further 100 l in reserve jerry cans. At 2.1 l/h (well over my normal usage of 1.8l/h) that would give me 250 hours of motoring or a range of 1250 nm. OK sufficient fuel for the trip of 850 nm. As at noon today I have motored since filling the tanks 58 hours all from the front tank so I transferred the 60 l from the three jugs on the deck to the front tank. Now I am back to almost full tank and a range of almost 500 nm from the front tank alone - I only have 400 to go so that looks good. The aft tank is still full at 242 l.

I wont talk about fish but I did have a salmon paster last night for dinner, a change from the meat I have been trying to eat my way through in anticipation of arriving in Oz with an empty fridge and freezer.

Further than that I have stopped reading the improbable thrillers and am re-reading Jean-Michel Barrault's biography of Bernard Moitessier - my sailing hero. I think one of the greatest sailor of the early years. He had such a feel for the ocean and changed our approach to sailing downwind in a storm. His strategy I adopted when I was in the storm in the Mid Pacific on my way to Tonga.

A Magical Moment on Malua
At 10/29/2014 8:30 AM (utc) our position was 26°35.07'S 159°26.14'E

29 October, 2014

(no subject)

Malua's position 26 00.370S 160 41.145E at 06:00 on 30/10/2014 474nm togo

Same old, same old thing. Nothing has changed in the last 24 hours. The wind has still not come up from the north but I expect that tonight but the sea has become less smooth. This is caused by the storm south of Tasmania and currently hitting North Island New Zealand. Gulf Harbour Radio was hit with 40 knots of wind last night after the previous day being inundated with rain, thunder and lightening. Not the place to be in a sailing vessel.

The boats that left Minerva Reef yesterday are all trying to get in before the next weather front hits the Opua area. It looks as if I will encounter a southerly front moving north up the NSW coast on Sunday. I expect to reach Coffs Harbour about that time so I have turned up the revs on the engine and am now doing almost six knots. When the northerly winds arrive I will increase the sail area and see if I can reach the NSW coast by noon Sunday. If however the wind arrives before I make it to the safe harbour I may stay out that night and enter the following day. No point on rushing in just to have to confront the harbour entrance and find a place to dock. The last time I arrived at Coffs Harbour it was the start of a storm and I surfed through the breakwater entrance hoping I would loose the wave before I had to turn to starboard into the real harbour. Fortunately the swell died and I entered with easy. I did have to stay almost a week, along with a number of other boats waiting for the storm to pass and letting us sail south again. I don't want to repeat that.

No fish on the line for the past day so I might change the lure this afternoon to a more red colour. It is unfortunate that my source of material is getting low so the selection is not as wide as I would have hoped. But as my good friend Richard always said.. You only catch a fish if your hook is in the water.

Back to reading these improbable American thriller.

A Magical Moment on Malua.
At 10/28/2014 6:38 PM (utc) our position was 25°58.80'S 160°42.50'E

28 October, 2014

Tasman Crossing On way to Oz day 2

Malua's position 24 47.900S 162 37.962S at 06:00 on 29/10/2014 600nm togo

As predicted the wind did drop off and I have had the motor on for what seems like three days but in fact not quite that long. It may however continue for the next two days as the centre of the high passes over me. The 1.4 knot current that was helping me along has now disappeared so my speed over the ground is the boat speed which is just about five knots. At these engine revs I only use about 1.7 l of diesel an hour so that is not so bad.

The severe low/depression which passed over southern Tasmania yesterday has reached North Island of New Zealand. Gulf Harbour Radio who I listen too each morning at six am where having difficulty hearing people checkin over the thunder and lightening. The vessels on passage to Opua NZ where either holding back to let that clear or positioning themselves to make landfall before Sunday because there is going to be another storm hitting north island. There are a number of yachts in Minerva reef waiting for the right conditions to leave. During the net you could hear the anchor chains being pulled up as they all left on mass to reach land before the bad weather.

I checked in on Tony's Marine Maritime net on 14315 at 8:00 am EST. There where not very many boats but it is fun to be involved in a professional net with the correct procedures. Patricia from Gulf Harbour ZL2RK came up looking for a vessel that had not checked in to their net. They provide a great service.

On Malua things just plod along. With no wind and no sea the vessel is quite steady. The sun is out and it is a beautiful day. I have finished reading my first book and am on to the second. They are American thrillers. I find the plots OK but the events and situations quite unbelievable. They are so far from reality I just shake my head. That is the reason I don't read science fiction. I should loose myself in the book. I prefer real life survival stories. Those I can believe but I have read all the Outside books and accounts so I am now down to fiction.

I will have to get out the fishing gear and make myself another lure after the last one was taken by some large sea monster. If I get a fish I wont know what to do with it as I have a full menu in the freezer. I am sure I can make room for some freshly caught Mai Mai.

Back to sitting in the sun on my granny chair on the stern.

A Magical Moment on Malua
At 10/26/2014 9:08 PM (utc) our position was 23°28.00'S 164°34.00'E

27 October, 2014

Malua on Passage to Oz Day 1

Malua's position 23 24S 164 39E at 08:00 am on 28/10/2014

Malua left Noumea along with a number of other vessels all bound south either for New Zealand or Australia. It was a parade of Masters as we moved from Immigration, to Customs and then to the Harbour Masters office to get the required stamp or form. We all had the same objective clear our, fill up with duty free fuel and get going on our respective journeys.
I filled Malua's tanks with diesel which will give me a range of about 1,000 nm because the weather forecast indicates that I may have three or four days of light wind then go into some fairly strong wind along the Australian coast. I cant go too fast or else I will arrive during the weekend and have to fork out large sums of money for the authorities to clear me in on a Sunday.
The trip to the outer reef of New Caledonia was across the wind with just a sea chop to contend with but like all these short initial journeys a large P&O cruise liner appeared such that we could meet at the critical turning point in the channel. I had to stay way on the right to give him room to take the the corner and head for the port.
Once I had cleared the reef I set Malua's bow for Coffs Harbour and settled down for a six day passage. I had prepared a number of stews and curries with the Fiji meat I had in the freezer. This is to be supplemented with French bread and duck pate I had purchased at the local market. If nothing I am going to eat well.
The sun set on a relatively smooth quarter sea. I had a single reef in the main and the full genoa flying with and apparent wind angle of 120 a great sailing situation and Malua was going along at just over 7 knots. I had dinner of a Curry and boiled potatoes and settled down for the night with my new LED flood light illuminating the main sail. At about ten of clock the wind had increased to 18 so I furled the genoa a few turns and returned to my quarter berth. An hour later the AIS alarm went off with a vessel - Gas Shuriken on the screen at 10 miles only doing a speed of 1 knots and showing Not Under Command. A different situation: It may be broken down. I called them on the radio and indicated I would pass astern of them having just altered course 20 degrees to starboard. The Master told me they were awaiting instructions as to which port they should head to and would I please stand off 2 miles. An inconvenience but under the current sea and wind an easy task. I then sat and watched both on radar and AIS as I passed round the stern of the vessel and along their starboard side as they sat in the water going nowhere. It was well after 1:00 before I felt it was safe to return to my bunk. Another experience and interesting situation.
The morning found the wind had dropped off and I started the engine for what I think will be a long days slog over gentle seas. I am not alone, all the yachts on passage south where motor sailing, some slower than other. There appears to be a major weather event passing over Tasmania and hitting North Island on Thursday so people are hoping that that passes before they arrive. The weather report I heard for the west coat of Tasmania forecast 5 to 7 meter high seas. Not the place to be in a sailing vessel.
A Magical moment on Malua
At 10/26/2014 9:08 PM (utc) our position was 23°28.00'S 164°34.00'E

26 October, 2014

The last leg home to Australia

I am sitting in Noumea New Caledonia waiting for a good weather window to leave on the last leg of the cruise from the Mediterranean. It seems a long time ago, in fact ten years since I sailed the Pacific and decided to sail to the Med.  As most of you know I did not actually meet the time constraints and took the easy way round but now I am on the last leg towards Australia.
It will be a six to seven day passage with the worst weather along the coast of Australia.  The seven day forecast gives me strong winds from the north on the last two day as I get close to Coffs harbour.  If it get too uncomfortable I may just divert to Sydney but that will be a last resort.
I will try to keep the blog up to-date as I sail westwards but the propagation is not good at this time so dont be worried but do look at http://www.yit.co.nz/yacht/malua to get an update.
Again we have a magical moment on Malua

28 September, 2014

Pacific Crossing to Tonga

Malua left French Polynesia after some difficulty with my crew member who did not want to leave Bora Bora.  I left her in the hands of the local Gendarme and set sail out into a very unsettled weather system.  I had no option but leave so off I went.  After two day the main engine started to give problems.  It was either water in the fuel or the fuel was contaminated.  The end result was I could run the engine to charge the batteries but not move the boat forward.  Not a big deal in a sailing boat however there was no wind so I just sat and waited.
Be careful for what you wish for.
On the third day out, at dusk, the wind started to rise.  By midnight I watched as the wind rose from right astern, first 20, OK put in one reef, then 25, OK put in the second reef and furl the genoa, then 35, well it cant go much higher.  The boat is no doing 8 to 10 knots down wind.  This is where singlehander lethargy sets in. You do nothing either because you are tired or you think it will get better.  When the wind was at 40 I decided to take the third reef in but did not move from my captains chair.  It was then the wind rose to 45 and then 47 and BANG the sail tore between the second and third reef points.
Now it was a question of taking the sail down.  I stepped up into the cockpit and started to move forward when a large wave washed all over the port side of the boat.  Time to clip onto the life lines, turn all the outside lights on and secure the sail.  Not a difficult job because Malua was still running before the wind and waves.  The autopilot handling the situation well.
When the sail was secure I only had a small furled staysail out and Malua was still doing 5 to 6 knots along the rhumb line to Tonga - 6 days away.
I slept well the rest of the night but by morning the seas from east of New Zealand had built to a massive 5 to 6 meters.  Thankfully quite ordered and pushing me in the right direction.
That afternoon while I was in the captains chair at the nav station the boat was slam
med over to the starboard side by a huge wave.  The doraid vent over the stove started to flood water and I found myself on my side underneath a waterfall of seawater coming through the closed companionway hatch. Before I realized what had happened Malua had righted herself and I was drenched through.
I set about getting rid of the water by sweeping it into the bilge.  Days later I was to find the batteries swimming in a sea of water in their purpose built battery compartment. There was water everywhere in the aft section of Malua. My quarterback was wet so was things and bed sheets. The final water damage would be revealed days later.
I then realized that there was something flapping in the cockpit.  I opened the companion way and looked out to find all the canvas from the bimini and weather cloths ripped to pieces.  The two fenders secured at the stern had gone.  The stern anchor tied to the lifeline was over the side attached to the boat at the end of the anchor chain.  The life recovery ring was trailing astern on its line.  All the sheets and lines kept in the cockpit and under the hard dodger we somewhere else.  It was a mess.
Luckily it was light so I set about retrieving the things trailing overboard and securing the other lines in their correct place.
I was to find out later that the engine fan vent located in the cockpit had been flooded along with the large cockpit locker containing the one outboard engine.  The other on the rail had had a good sea water submersion.
What could I do. Just run before the wind with only the small furled staysail to give me direction and drive. Five day later I was off the northern tip of Tonga hoping for a tow into the harbour by one of my friends.  You soon find out who your friends are.  I had to take a commercial tow and a mooring buoy in Niefu harbour.  Relieved that I had made it to a place where I could get the engine fixed and repair the sail. That is a story in itself.

28 June, 2014

More Atolls and More Danger

The rule on entering a pass into an atoll is to do so at one of the high or low water slack tides and to do so in calm weather and the sun high in the sky. An easy ask if one has a direct line to the weather gods but if you are cruising and in company with other yachts you do the best you can, prepare your boat for all eventualities and eyeball with good prudent judgement the best strategy.
Malua left our first atoll entrance which had a lot of hype about how difficult it was with ease. It was no more difficult than a ocean river bar in Australia. My confidence was up and the guide book stated that the northern entrance to Fakarava is "wide and straightforward.... the flow normally peaks at 3 knots" What is did not say was don't enter when there is a 22knot wind on the nose and against the incoming tide with heavy rain squalls. And that is exactly what I found including a short wave chop which stopped Malua normal 5 knot forward progress right in her tracks. We took a line on the centre of the pass let out the stay sail for stability and some extra help and entered the maelstrom of the pass. Malua rose to the waves but came crashing down to stop dead in the water, the inflowing current would take her a few feet forward and then Malua would gather herself and lurch forward to again be stopped in her track by another set of waves. I turned the bows a few degrees off the wind and our speed increased. We where making progress but bang, bang the swim ladder had come loose and was swinging in the stern water. Grab the boat hook and secure that and when I turned again to look where we where, we are in relatively calm water making 5 knots. Through our second pass.
Now to do the pass on the falling tide. I calculated that the tide would turn at about 8 am in the morning. Just enough time to go ashore to get a few hot bagettes and to still make it at the slack water.
Great plan and I did find the slack water, almost no wind and definitely no rain and standing waves. What a dream to pass out the entrance and into the open sea. I had planned a 60 nm passage to Apitake which would be spread ove a full day and night so I could arrive at it's entrance at the low slack. I pulled up the main and set the genoa and soon I was cruising along at more than 7 knots. The plan was not working for I would have to lay ahull all night and behind me in the near distance the storm and rain clouds where gathering. OK what is plan B. I was to pass Toau atoll which has a false pass in its north. The pass at Amyoto states " the pass can be entered and left at any stage of the tide" I also knew that there are secure mooring buoys which one can pick up. It didn't take me long to calculate that I could make the anchorage well before dark so I turned Malua's bow to the entrance and started the engine, for the wind had dropped off prior to the storm hitting.
I entered the pass with just one knot of current helping me in towards the two leads and between the port and starboard marks. I was in and had the mooring line secured well before the sun set creating a wonderful rainbow ad the rain approached. I had finished my precooked meal and had a opened a can of apricots before the first splatter of rain forced me to close the hatches and retire to a warm bunk.
I was up before it got light and planned my move the 25 nm to the Apitaki entrance. As the dawn broke in the east I could just make out the leads I let go the mooring line and turned for the entrance to be assisted by a one knot outgoing current. A great stop, I was refreshed and looking forward to what lay ahead.
I timed my entrance to the Niutahi entrance in the SW corner of Apataki just right. The water was almost slack, no wind and what sun there was was high in the sky. Just follow the leads, turn to starboard when the marks indicated and follow the deep blue water through the last part of the entrance and I was through and heading for the other cruising yachts. On all occasions no mater how deep the water you have to keep a look out for the coral reef which appear from nowhere. They are easily spotted on a sunny day either by the light blue water or the waves breaking in the shallow water. The pearl form buoys are not that easy especially if the wind is causing a chop and you are motoring into the chop. I took the remote autohelm and sat on the top of the hard dogger to be more than 4 meter above the waterline. From here I could see the dangers and steer the boat through the field of buoys. Dropping the anchor amongst the coral heads was a challenge but I did that trusting the wind would not turn to the north.
I was soon in the kayak with a crew fro Cygnus and paddling through the false pass to the end of the earth where the lagoon meets the open sea. Great experience, then back to a deserted pearl farm where I collected a set of empty pearl shells. Back to the boat for a quiet dinner and a good sleep. Two hour before dawn the wind rose and I felt Malua start to rise in the short chop and I found myself on a lee shore and a large coral bommie off the port stern. The anchor watch indicated that I was slowly dragging down wind in the soft coral shale of the atoll. Time to move again but not in the 25 knots of wind I found as the sun came up. I'll have to wait for the sun to get high in the sky before I chance a crossing of the atoll to quieter water. I made it to the NE corner and dropped anchor along side Little Explorers kids boat I had not seen in more than a month. The cruise was back on track and I was having fun again.
At 6/26/2014 3:13 PM (utc) our position was 15°48.42'N 146°09.16'W

Let the cruise of Polynesia begin

The temporary crew Lizzie flew out of Fakarava yesterday and I breathed a huge sigh of relief not that she did not contribute to the sailing or the provisioning of the boat. She was more than generous in the latter area (Thanks Lizzie) but she just did not fit into the cruising community and like it or not I got tired of making excuses to my friends as to why she did not join us on a bike ride, beach BBQ or just a walk on the beach and I was sick of being reminded of the meals we had with others by the wine she gave not the food we enjoyed. I dropped her at Annabell's resort and dive centre where she enjoyed herself diving and being the centre of attention.
Well I am alone again on my boat; yes it is clean to my standard and my chart table has my things on it in the places they have been for the years. I can also sit in the captain's chair when I like not when it is free. Those that have been on Malua will understand these comments.
I left S Fakarava after four days of fantastic fun with all the friends on the other cruising boats. We dived with the sharks, snorkelled the pass both in and out, took photos, kyaked to the kite surfers and had some of the best days of the season. Thanks everyone for a great time. Now let the cruise of Polynesia begin.
Prior to today I have had a few great days with the kids boats on land expeditions, on the beach, snorkelling with the manta rays or just hanging around together but these will be a topic of a further post.
Having decided to leave S Fakarava and go to the northern part of the Atoll I first had to extricate my anchor from the coral heads and rocks that I had laid the anchor chain across. The wind had swung over the past few days and from the surface one could see the anchor chain snake lying between the coral heads in 10 m of water. I dived down to check which way the chain had rapped itself around the first coral head. It was clockwise so back on Malua I steered a course to undo the chain but as I moved forward the chain would not come off the head. Stop. Over the side again and dive down in the crystal clear water to see again. Not clockwise but the other way. So back on the boat and start again but this time the other way round. Success at the second attempt. Only 30 more meters of chain to go.
Slowly I pulled the chain in. Bang the nose of Malua dipped into the sea as the chain snagged another coral head. Over the side with the snorkelling mask. OK, this time it is definitely clockwise but wait there is more … after the first snag ahead 20 m the anchor is wedged between two coral heads with the chain through the valley. Plan, take a bearing ahead and behind and go for it and the weight of the boat will pull the anchor free.
Back on Malua I twist and turn and gain more chain until I only have 17 meters left and the stuck anchor. Return to the wheel put the engine ahead and wait to find out what happens. Malua moves forward, I take in chain, the nose dips but then rises again and we are free. The chain came in as fast as the windlass would wind and I was off to the northern part of the atoll but I had wasted more than a hour so my arrival would be in the dark!
I had a easy time following the channel with no reefs or pearl farm marker buoys to worry about however I still had to take a path past the pearl farms in the north area before I could follow my past route to the anchorage. The sunset was glorious but with the dark came the danger both from the hard bits of the uncharted coral reefs and the large plastic buoys of the pearl farms.
Don't fear the night, switch on the light. has been a mantra I have been quoting all through this cruise. On went the steaming light plus my very powerful hand held search light. I was doing fine spotting the buoys off the bow so I would steer to port and they would pass astern. As my confidence grew and the miles to the destination dropped to less than three I thought I had it made. Out of the darkness just in front of Malua appeared a set of buoys. I could not turn right or left. The only thing I was able to do was slam the engine in to neutral and coast over the line between the buoys. Malua lurched, came to a stop and I could see in the clear water abeam of the rudder the strong rope and the bags of pearl shells. I was caught in a web of ropes. Just then a wave came from behind and Malua's stern rose and we were off again towards the safe anchorage. I was doing great at about 3 knots weaving my way either to port or starboard but I must have entered the middle of the field because I found myself in a maze of multi coloured buoys. I did not know which way to turn. Beam me up Scotty I want to get out of here.
Make a plan and follow it, is the rule. I did and before I knew it I was in the fairway again and steaming towards the place I had anchored before. What a relief to be in clear water again. Is there a lesson to learn from this …. Yes, always have a crew on the bow to guide you through the uncharted waters of the Tuamotu atolls. Will I learn that? Well, that is the story for another post.
At 6/26/2014 3:13 PM (utc) our position was 15°48.42'N 146°09.16'W

18 April, 2014

Pacific Crossing First Night at Sea

I do not sleep well the night before a start of a passage. I toss and
turn trying to sleep but the to-do list is forefront in my mind. I go
over all that has been done, that which should have been completed but
not essential and finally what I would have liked to do but did not get
round to doing. On this occasion I did not have to think about crew so I
knew I could undertake any task ant any time of day or night just when
it had to be done. On the three previous passages the crew stood the
8:00 pm to 2:00 am watch so they slept in at the end of my watch –
invariably right through the whole morning and mostly until I had made
lunch and miraculously they woke to hear the lunch being served. Then
again they took a nap before their watch and again woke just as I had
finished preparing the evening meal. Well all that has changed. I
prepare meals when I want and stand watch when I want plus do odd jobs
in the middle of the night.
After leaving Sab Christobal at noon I was well under way through the
island chain when the sun set and the moon soon appeared over the stern.
On this evening it was full andd lit the surrounding sea almost like
daylight then as it reached its zenith a shadow fell over it and the
world went dark again. I was experiencing an full eclipse of the moon. I
have never seen one of these before but it must have scared the people
of an earlier era when the moon went out during it path on a cloudless
night. I lay in the cockpit and watched the moon move across the sky
then the shadow slowly moved away and we where back in the bright moon
The moon was near the horizon when the east started to glow red as the
sun came up on my second day at sea. I will be watching the sun rise for
the next 20 to 26 days as I make my way across the 3000 nm to the Marqueses.
A magical moment on Malua

14 April, 2014

Malua has left Galapagos

Malua has now left the Galapagos for the Marqueses

Malua in Galapagos

Malua passed through the Panama canal in two days and anchored in the roadstead just out of Panama City to provision before leaving for a three day cruise in the Las Perlas islands.  This was a time to slow down and enjoy the environment with the new crew Toby.  Christine had reluctantly left Malua wanting to stay free before she got a new berth but non were  available to she stay free with people for a few days.  I was pleased to see her go.  Toby on the other had was a great asset on the boat and soon learnt how to stand watch and do the things on a complex boat.
Our passage to the Galapagos was a dream run.  We had three days of wind aft of the beam with the reacher up for two days and the big spinnaker for a whole day.  Malua loved the conditions.  On Toby's watch the wind dropped and went forward and we had to set different sails and a new course.  Luckily it was a close reach in 10 to 115 knots of wind so we settled down for an easy ride into the Galapagos.  We arrived just after sunset on the fifth day almost 12 hour ahead of Jack Tar.
The agent came aboard and took all the papers and $700 for a 21 day stay.  The most expensive checkin we have experienced.  It included an underwater inspection of the hull to see we where not carrying any foreign creatures.
After a days rest I booked on to a five day tour of three other islands.  It was the best way to see the islands and the animals and birds.  The group was good, the food great and the guide - the most important part very knowledgeable.
I am back on Malua ready for the next leg towards the Marqueses.  I do this alone, happy to have the boat back to myself.  It will be a 21 to 26 day passage.
A magical moment on Malua.

27 March, 2014

Short Update Malua in Pacific

We left Santiago de Cuba on the way south.  Had to call into Jamaica to fix the freezer for a few days and did some land travel then on south to the San Blas to purchase a few Molas.  We arrived in Shelter Bay Panama and had to wait for five days to get the paperwork organised before traversing the Canal.
We arrived in the Pacific and called into the anchorage to get the last of the fresh food before heading off to the Galapagos.
The Vietnamese crew left by mutual agreement - she would not have lasted past Panama.  I now have a new crew who is more than willing to learn and help around the boat.  Not interested in parting with any fellow in the vicinity.  Welcome on board.
We have met up with Jack Tar and will sail in convey with them to the Galapagos.  Great to be with sailing friends again.
A magical moment on Malua

08 March, 2014

Santiago de Cuba

We finally arrived after 12 days of sailing in the port of Santiago de Cuba.  Having left the cold and snow of Norfolk Virginia on the Chesapeake out sail south was relatively easy although the wind was on the nose.  We left the relatively sheltered waters of the Chesapeake and hit the Gulf stream east of Hatteras and the water temperature rose from 2 deg C to 26 deg C and the mist on the surface of the water reflected the temperature change.
The next day with some help from Mark on Balvenie who brought the good news that we would have a storm during the next day we prepared for the worst.  When it came it was on the nose but Malua likes those conditions. We had three reef in the main and only the staysail out.  I had got George the Fleming windvane working so I just sat back and we sailed in a southerly direction unfortunately away from the Bahamas.  When the wind died we stayed on the same tack but it was very light.  This continued for three more days.  At night the wind dropped off completely so I had to motor.
The decision came when plan A was to go to Georgetown at 260nm or Plan B to go to Turks and Cacios at about the same distance or plan C to sail past all of them and on to Cuba at about 500 nm.
We chose Plan C because we has settled into a routine and the boat was going well so we continued.
After almost 1500 nm and 12 days we arrived at the entrance of the bay of Santiago de Cuba.  The diesel was getting low but the wind rose on the last few hours so we romped home and motored into the bay to drop anchor only two hour after dark.  Our checkin and drug search is a story in itself but that will have to wait.
A magical moment on Malua

25 February, 2014

Approaching Bahamas

2014-02-24 15:27Z

After six days of beating into the wind and weathering the ice cold of the Chesapeake plus a bad storm while in the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras we are are now almost in the Tropical weather systems. The wind is steady and in the range of 10 to 15 knots. The only unfortunate side is that it is still on the nose so we are still beating - making a good south direction but not towards our destination. We are running parallel to the Bahama coast. We will soon tack and head direct for Georgetown but that is half a day away.
This has been a long strip south but we are now warm and out of the American mainland clutches.
A magical moment on Malua

17 February, 2014

Waiting for the Weather

Malua is shipshape and like Bristol. All things are in their place and
all lines and halyards are now ready to use but as always the weather
decided we had to wait.
There was a very deep depression off the coast of Virginia which moved
eastwards towards New York and then on to New England. It dumped a lot
of snow on that part of the world. While this storm was forming it must
have caused the sea to build and upset the Gulf stream flowing north so
I thought it was prudent to wait 24 hours for the sea state to calm
before we set off south on the first cruise of the season.
We are off on Monday south to Georgetown Bahamas.
A magical moment on Malua

16 February, 2014

Provisioning and storage

Eating well on passage and while cruising is always one of the highest priorities on Malua. When I built Malua I constructed an extra large freezer and fridge so we could freeze meat and keep the beers and white wine cold. It worked well in the Pacific but started to require more time when I left the Med. I suspected it had leaked some gas so in Gibraltar I called the local refrigeration “expert” who vacuumed the system then tried to fill it with the correct gas. He did not have the correct gauges and had to guess the quantity of gas to add. Well crossing the Atlantic it started to go down hill and in the latter part of last years cruise the compressor was working but working hard.
It was time to replace the unit.

As with most technical things purchased in Australia the unit I had selected was no longer made so I called the Isotherm parts people to ask for a replacement. What followed was a third degree about the specifications of the holding plate, box size, insulation thickness and connectors. In the end I just stated “Will you sell me Unit xxyy for $Z – you have no liability about the functionality. I know what I am doing?” Yes But. Well it arrived. I installed it, connected up the tubes and then connected the refill can of 142A refrigerant gas with my gauges and started the process. It worked perfectly. The next day the freezer was at minus 8. Now to put some goods in it.
Estimating what we needed for the four month cruise is always a tricky job especially with a new crew member whose likes and dislikes I did not know. I had the Atlantic crossing as a guide but we were not able to get the fruit selection of the Canaries. As stated in the previous blog we were taken to Wolmart by Bob and spent three hour filling two trolleys.
The challenge facing us once we unpacked and listed everything was where to pack it. The large store space under the main cabin berth was empty after I installed the windvane so all the food not required for the first few months easily went into that space while the balance went into the plastic boxes designed to go into the space under the sink and workspace.
Christine listed stores and catalogued where they could be found while I packed the freezer. We are almost ready to go – just a few more items and a few more things to put in their right place.

A magical moment on Malua

15 February, 2014

Norfolk Portsmouth Provisioning

I made it to Portsmouth free dock at the end of High Street, tied up and settled down for the night. The next day I took the folding bike and set off to find the super big Walmart at the end of the street. Once inside it was hard not to shop however not having prepared I did not have anything to carry the goods in. I did purchase a sleeping bag and a new blanket for the crew. As I exited the store it started to snow – not small flaked but a white out. I tied the two parcels on the bike and set off, head down into the wind and snow. At some point I realized that I only had one parcel on the back of the bike. Turn round and retrace my path. Nothing to be found. This is a very poor area and I am sure the first local that saw a Wolmart parcel would have picked it up. My contribution to the poor cold underclass of downtown Portsmouth.
I was cycling along the footpath when a small truck (ute) stopped and the fellow got out. “Hi you must be a yottie with the boat in the dock?” “Yes that is me.” “Put your bike in the back and I will give you a lift.” “Thanks man that is just great” “Ok, I have sailed up and down the coast and I know what it is like.” What a great relief to be taken the few miles back to the boat.
That evening the snow came down and the new crew, Christine was flying in from the west coast, arriving after dark. She called – the taxi could not see the yacht in the dock and she was just down the road in a coffee shop.. I put on warm cloths and set out to find her. Not difficult. We then both trudged back through the snow to Malua. If that was a test of commitment she showed it. We retired below where the heater was going full blast. She soon found her cabin and was settling in.
Next day we did an inventory of stores. A knock on the hull after lunch and Bob was standing there to take us to Walmarts. Bless his heart he found the money owing and handed it to me. I hope it all goes well for him during his difficult time.
Off to Walmart with two lists and two cart. After three hour and almost $1,000 we where ready to return to Malua. Bob came to pick us up and take us to the liquor store to purchase some goods for trading. - Black pearls.
We now have the challenge to store four months of food on board. 

A magical moment on Malua.

14 February, 2014

Season Starts Feb 2014 Snow in Deltaville

I flew out of Sydney after leaving Canberra sweltering in 29C heat. The garden is scorched but the tomatoes have yet to ripen. The flight on Qantas was just terrible with the worst food I have ever eaten – in fact it made me sick but the flight was less than half full so I was able to stretch out and sleep. The only advantage of a failing airline.
I arrived in Norfolk to find the whole airport snow bound, flights cancelled and most people gone home for the night. A hours wait for the bags and then taxis ripping people off to take them any where. I found a New Yorker who was great and took me to the prebooked hotel. Air-conditioning on full.
Next morning I collected the rental car and drove through white landscape and roads to Portsmouth to collect my Yanmar parts from Bob. There is a back story to this but now is not the time. He had not got most of the parts although I had paid in January, however he promised to deliver the engine mounts to Deltaville in a few days – the other parts are still missing plus my money.
The drive to Chesapeake Boat Works was slow because of all the snow and when I turned into the yard it was just white. Malua was under more than six inches of snow. Luckily the cockpit cover was still intact so I was able to go below with out much difficulty. I was straight off to the hardware store to get a heater and a long extension lead. No 220 volts available. The first night was a challenge – completely disorganised no heating – lead too short and minus 5 outside. You know it is cold when in the morning the water beside your bed has ice on the surface. First priority was power and heat. I soon rigged up a 220 supply and the heater which was left on 24/7

This years to-do list seemed daunting but as always start with the most critical and work your way down. It included:
  • Replace engine mounts
  • Replace shaft cutlass bearing
  • Replace freezer compressor
  • Two coats dark blue anti-fouling
  • Regaz freezer/Fridge
  • Replace 6 x 6 volt Sonnenshein batteries
  • reinstall chartplotter and autopilot at wheel
  • Reinstall windvane on stern
  • Rerun lines and halyards

Well after ten days Malua was ready to go in the water. No sails but ready. Launch day dawned cold but clear and at the appointed time I removed the forestay and the travel lift arrived. A short ride to the water then splash. No broken through hulls or pipes due to the cold so I was ready.
That afternoon I received some help from Chuck and his son to bend on the sails and Malua was again a proper yacht.
That night the temperature dropped to minus 6 and the sea in the marina had a film of ice on it. I said my goodbyes and set off out to sea to sail south, with the wind down the Chesapeake to Norfolk/Portsmouth.
With the new smooth bottom, the lanolin on the prop and the bearings and new engine mounts Malua sped down at almost max hull speed but was it cold. The waves over the bow soon froze on the life lines. The water temp was almost 0 degrees. Fall in and you would not be able to count to ten.
I arrived at dusk at the free dock at the end of High Street Portsmouth to find it empty.
I soon tied up and ran a electrical cable to a power point and I was again able to run the heater 24/7.
I cant wait to sail south to the sun.

A magical moment on Malua.