Bommie dodging in the Tuamotos

Indian Summer in Raroia

We arrived at the pass of Raroia around 11 and Ian jumped in the dinghy to check out the current which had to be slack and preferably inflowing. As I watched, I realised I was more worried than I had ever been since living on board. The last time we had entered a pass we lost an engine and we had been warned about the dangers of getting through passes so I was really nervous. Ian came back all smiles and shouted ‘piece of cake’. We then proceeded to sail through without any problems at all. We were inside this beautiful lagoon and all we needed to do was find an anchorage. We were the only boat so had lots of choices and dropped anchor just off the village. There are bommies everywhere in the Tuamotos islands – and it’s highly recommended you float your chain. This means you need to add a heavy duty float every 5 or so meters to lift the chain from the bottom to prevent getting it entangled in the coral. Problem was we had no floats but we’re told that they often wash up on the shore and we may be in luck finding one, so we set off to walk the shore hunting for a float. The shore line is all coral so we needed sturdy shoes and within about 20 minutes we had found about 20 – we chose the five best ones and took them back and floated the chain. Now we were all set to go and explore.

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The Magic of the Marquesas

Hiva Oa – another beautiful anchorage

We were quite pleased to eventually arrive somewhere where they had a boatyard so that we could get our engine fixed, our rigging report and be on our way. We only had a three month visa and many islands and atolls yet to explore so we thought we would be here for just 3 or 4 days….. How wrong were we!

The day after we arrived the boatyard sent out a couple of guys to check our rig and engine. The first bad news was that they couldn’t determine exactly what was wrong but the second bad news completely shocked us. They found a couple of broken strands in the starboard shroud – the stainless steel wire that hold a the mast up. Shrouds are made up of about 20 strands but when one breaks it weakens the others and has to be replaced. Ian had checked them before we left for the Galapagos so it must have broken since then. He then went up the mast and saw that the other parts of the rigging were starting to look worn. This meant we couldn’t sail any further as the risk of being dismasted was too great. We also couldn’t motor with one engine – it’s fine when you are going fast but slowly you just go round and round! No good for anchoring and getting into a marina. Both huge money of course…

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The longest sail…

Our first landfall – The Gambier islands

Sailing from The Galapagos or Panama to French Polynesia is the longest stretch any curcumnavigator will do without landfall. It is one of the rites of passage and can take anywhere between 20 – 40 days depending on the winds. Halfway across we would be as far you are can be from humans as possible on the planet – not a place to have anything go wrong with your boat so we had checked and re-checked everything and felt confident we would be ok. One last check of the weather and with a beautiful sunny day, excellent winds and a fully stocked boat we were off…. this would be our longest sail of over 3,000nms to the stunning islands of French Polynesia. We had planned on going to Nuku Hiva but opted instead to go to Gambier – a group of islands further south as we knew we would not have backtracked to see them if we had gone straight to Nuku Hiva.

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First port of call in the Pacific- The Galapagos islands…

The first island we arrived at – San Cristobal

We had a good sail from the Las Perlas islands and had a few visitors en route. We were joined by lots of red footed boobies who would not leave – even when we put the hose on them… initially they were lovely to watch but as our boat got more and more covered in their crap – we decided they had to leave and that’s when the battle of wills began. Eventually we won and they did leave, but they hung around for ages!

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A Step Back in Time..

The famous old cars in Havana

We set off in tandem with Medea for Cuba. The first 24 hours were awful, with short waves, big swell and really uncomfortable – the dreaded mal de mer hit me and for the first time ever I was actually seasick. It’s a horrible feeling but after the first 24 hours I was much better thank goodness. I can’t imagine what it would be like to suffer for days on end. The last 24 hours was brilliant though, we had a wonderful beam reach and had the Code 0 out so we were flying along at between 8-10knots. We were hoping to crack the illusive 200nm in 24 hours but for the third time only did 196nm! One day we will do it….

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The islands of Belize and Isla Mujeres

Punta Gorda – baskets for sale

The journey from Guatemala to Belize was one of the shortest new country sails we had ever done. We left at about 8am and were anchored in Punta Gorda in Belize by midday! Wonderful – now for check in…. should be easy because they speak English but Belize time moves very slow and it took most of the day even though all the offices, harbour master, immigration, customs and quarantine are all in the same building. They did allow us to go into the town to get a sim card and some internet and we took the opportunity to grab some lunch. Punta Gorda is a very sleepy little town, with dusty streets and run down buildings but we liked it… it felt very safe.

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Guatemala – so much to see…

2 brothers and the visiting backpackers inside – 2 worlds living side by side.

We rose early the next day and got the public boat across the lake to visit the small village of San Pedro. There are about 10 villages on the shores of Lake Atitilan and each seems to have a theme. San Pedro tends to be where the backpackers hang out, there’s one that make textiles, one that is an alternative village offering meditation, yoga and retreats, a religious one, and some that are just typical Guatemalan villages that don’t cater at all for tourists. We were time poor so we could only visit a couple and chose two of the most popular.

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Marina life again… on the Rio Dulce Guatemala

The Guatemalan ladies still wear traditional costume

We arrived at the mouth of the mighty Rio Dulce at the port of Livingstone. This was where we had to check in and organise our internet. We were using an agent who sent out one of his guys within about 20 minutes of us dropping anchor. As we had prepared everything and sent through all the paperwork beforehand, all we had to do was sign a few things, give him our passports and wait for an hour or so. We walked around Livingstone for a while, bought some of their local bread and got some internet and then headed back to pick up our passports. Not only was it one of the easiest check-ins we have ever had but we were given a cap and a mug as a welcome gift. Think we are going to like this place!

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