We love Australia

Posted 23 December 2011

Australia is such a beautiful country and the people so friendly. We sailed from Bundaberg to a small town called Shorncliffe about 5 nm north of Brisbane. We enjoy our time with Morgan although we had some bad weather.

We love it here, but we also had to make some of our hardest decisions here. Since the year 2000 I enjoyed the liveaboard lifestyle and coastal cruising, but blue water sailing is pure and simply not for me, so the options available are: sell the boat in Australia, ship the boat to Vancouver or Dinis sail the boat back to Vancouver. As every body knows Dinis suffers from sea sickness but he is prepare to give it a try and singlehanded back home.

A job opportunity became available for me and Dinis encouraged me to take it. We decided that Dinis will fly home 3 or 4 times and I will meet him where ever he is on my holidays to minimize our time apart.

We wish all our friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Bundaberg, Australia

Posted 18 November 2011

Our arrival in Bundaberg was a very positive experience. The Port2Port Yacht rally co-ordinates with the Australian authorities so that they know exactly when you will arrive in port. This service speeds up the clearing into the country. We had no problems and everything went smoothly. We were also welcomed by a Port2Port Yacht Rally representative with all kinds of literature and goodies. Port2Port Yacht rally done a fantastic job promoting Bundaberg as the port of entry. They published the magazine 'Gateway, Port Bundaberg' that was distributed across the South Pacific. The magazine is great and had confirm our plans for clearing into the country in Bundaberg.

The winds are predominately from the south east, east or north east in October/November which makes Bundaberg a perfect sailing destination from Vanuatu or New Caledonia. A lot of sailors goes to New Zealand and have to deal with stronger winds and a lot of time with winds on the nose. The distance is also greater. We are very glad that we came to Bundaberg.

Bundaberg Port Marina facilities are excellent and the staff doing a fantastic job. We have everything close at hand, from the sail maker, boatyard, electrical service, grocery store fish shop, restaurants, chandelier and much more. The marina also runs a courtesy bus into Bundaberg town.

Dinis's friend Steve that worked with him in Vancouver and his wife Pam visited us as well. It was great catching up again and spend some time together. We visited the Air Museum and had fun trying all the interactive tools. The following day we went for a motor up the river to Bundaberg town.

Bundaberg has been quite exciting for all, this last week. 2 of our fellow Port2Port sailors have been arrested in one of Australia's biggest cocaine busts, 300 kg. It took us all by surprise as the Spanish couple gave no indication of anything out of the ordinary. A few days before we all attended a pirates pot luck dinner organized by Port2Port for us and they were among the prize winners for the best dressed pirates. Quite ironic. They have been to court and if convicted they face life imprisonment.

We are still waiting to hear from Morgan as to when he will arrive in Australia. He is currently in Vietnam and hopefully will let us know soon. We are really looking forward to his visit.

We are in Bundaberg Australia !!

Posted 26 October 2011

We are in Australia !!!

We arrived in Bundaberg this morning after sailing for 4 days from Chesterfield reef. The trip was quite rolly for the first 2 days and then we had light winds.

The boat needs to be lifted out of the water for bottom paint and lots of other little maintenance jobs. We will look into that for next week. For now we will do some exploring and get our bearings.

Stay tuned for news from OZ.

Our passage to Chesterfield reefs

Posted 18 October 2011

We all had a wonderful time at Huon, exploring the island. Huon is just a strip of sand with some grass and reefs, the bird life is great, we saw lots of birds and turtles. Steve, Wayne and Dean from s/v Mamalu had a great time spear fishing and gave us some lovely coral trout fillets. Jeff, Sue and Amanda from s/v Xyra invited us all for supper and we enjoyed the evening together.

Bad weather is predicted for Tuesday 18 October and we all decided that it is best to only stay 1 night in Huon and leave first thing on Saturday morning 15 October. That will give enough time to reach Chesterfield reefs 280 nm to the west.

Around 8:00 am we left Huon. S/v Xyra was the first to catch fish and then the rest of us following behind them caught enough fish to feed an army. We had good winds and a strong current in our favour. We decided to reduce sails as we want to arrive at Chesterfield reefs during daytime Monday morning 17 October. Saturday was a lovely day for sailing, but the wind dropped on Sunday and we motored all the way to Chesterfield. S/v Mamalu arrived first on Monday morning and had gone spear fishing by the time Xyra and us arrived around midday.

Chesterfield reefs are beautiful, a welcome oasis in a watery desert, with small islands and beaches. We are currently 6 boats in this anchorage waiting for the weather to improve. Monday afternoon all the cruisers met on the beach for sun downers. It was great meeting all the people.

During the night the wind picked up, I saw some gusts of 26 knots with intervals of rain. I am glad that we are here, the anchorage is good, we have a some swell, but nothing too uncomfortable. They predict another day of strong winds and then it should start to taper down. If all goes well we are planning to leave on Saturday 22 October for our final leg to reach Bundaberg, Australia.

Dinis volunteer to make a fish stew tonight with all the different types of fish that we caught between the 3 boats. Should be good.

Our passage to Atoll de Huon

Posted 14 October 2011

We left midnight Tuesday 11 October for Atoll de Huon which is 286 nm from Espiritu Santo Island. This is the most northern island of New Caledonia. We figured that is would take us 2 and a half days to arrive Friday morning during day time. We had great sailing conditions the swell was small and the wind range from 12 to 18 knots on the beam and later on a broad run. This was great we did our best ever on a 24 hour run of 165 nm, we average 6.25 knots for the trip.

Unfortunately this great sailing conditions made our arrival time at 9 pm on Thursday night, so we decided to hive-to for the night and enter the anchorage in the morning. The wind conditions changed during the night to stronger winds about 20 to 23 knots, which made it a bit more uncomfortable hive-to. Sailing vessels Mamalu and Xyra only left Wednesday morning as they are faster boats. Both of them had to slow down during Thursday night as well to time their arrival time for Friday morning. We all entered the anchorage around 7:00 am local time.

The Atoll exists of one long island which have lots of different types of birds breeding and also lots of turtles. After we anchored and got the boars settled, we all went for a walk on the island. Very beautiful, we took lots of photos of the birds and some of the turtles. Dinis and myself were a bit tired and opted to catch-up on lost sleep after the initial island exploration, the rest went for spear fishing and snorkeling.

Our trip to Vanuatu

Posted 8 October 2011

We left Fiji with s/v Heat Wave on 21 September, after spending some time together sailing to the Blue Lagoon after we cleared out. Heat Wave was heading towards New Caledonia and ourselves towards Port Vila in Vanuatu. We started with very little wind and motored for about 6 hours before the wind settled in for a very comfortable sailing on beam reach between 10 and 15 knots. We only had one night where the seas were a bit confused and we started the engine for about 4 hours. This was one of our more pleasant trips and we arrived Sunday 25 September midday in Port Vila.

We were very impressed with Vanuatu, although the country is poor there is a good feeling and the people are very friendly. Is is also a more rugged landscape. Dinis said that this reminded him of Mozambique. We only spend a few days in Port Vila, doing some provisioning, visiting the spectacular cascades and waterfalls. The water is absolutely crystal clear. We wanted to make our way north the Espiritu Santo Island, as we were meeting our friends from s/v Mamalu.

We did day sailing and anchored for the night at beautiful anchorages all the way. We dropped anchor in Espiritu Santo on October 5th and met us with our friends the next day.

We are planning to stay here a few more days, getting the boats ready for our trip for Australia. We are 3 boats planning to sail together. We will break our trip into smaller passages and stop at Atoll de Huon (about 290nm), then at Chesterfield Atoll (280nm), s/v Mamalu (Steve and his Canadian friends Wayne from Edmonton and Dean from Vancouver) and us will continue towards Bundaberg, Australia (400nm) from there and Jeff, Sue and their daughter Mandy will continue more north towards Cairns.

Pirates Day - Fiji

Posted 26 September 2011

One of the activities was a race from Musket Cove to the Beachcombers Resort on another island for the pirates day lunch and festivities. Joao, Dinis and myself were invited aboard Seafarer 4 for the race. We were so bad dressing up as pirates, but Diane came to our rescue.

This race has no rules, so a lot of fun stuff is planned for the race. We did not have balloons so Diane got some surgical gloves which we filled with water as our ammunition for other boats. We had fun sailing, dropped anchor and waited for the resort boat to pick us up.

Diane warned me before hand to have the camera ready on video mode as when we arrive at the beach, all the local pirates descend on the boat. This was great and I was ready, it was a riot with all the Beachcomber pirates descending on the boat with knifes, ropes and what not. We were captured and had to go to customs and immigration for our welcome shot of rum.

All fun and games. We got ourselves a big 'cooler' of beer and got ready for the activities. Joao did especially well in the Limbo dance, Dinis got a big applause when the Limbo was way to low and he drop on all fours and crawl underneath.

Lots of dancing, drinking and fun. Lunch was great with lots to eat. As with all good things, it have to come to an end. Back on Seafarer 4 we all went for a swim to cool down and get at least some positive exercise. We arrived back in Musket Cove quite exhausted and went to bed quite early.

Musket Cove - Fiji

Posted 25 September 2011

Fiji was magic, after our clearing in we made our way to Musket Cove Yacht club and Marina. It is on Malolo Island and is the only resort that is geared up for the yachts. This is excellent as all the yachties can enjoy the facilities of the resort and the resort guests love visiting the boats and talk to all the sailors.

Our arrival coincide with the 28 th annual Fiji Regatta week at Musket cove. Steve from s/v Heat Wave welcomed us when we arrived and it was nice to see him again after leaving Tonga. We decided to moored the boat at the marina for a change, as well we had quite a few chores to do and it would be much easier. It took us 2 days to wash the boat, do all the laundry, finally fixed the windvane and clean the bottom of the boat.

We enjoyed the bustle of people around and met lots of nice people. We finally had the pleasure of meeting Steve's partner Nicky who manage a few days off from work to visit. Both Steve and Nicky had to return to Australia, but Steve would return in a few days.

The opening night of the regatta was good, all the different nationalities together was great. Each country's citizens were called up to sing their national anthem. Dinis decided to support his Brazilian friend Joao (the only Brazilian at the regatta) to sing the Brazilian national anthem, but they settle on 'The girl of Ipanema' instead as Dinis being Portuguese do not know the anthem and Joao could not remember it. We met Diane and Doug from s/v Seafarer 4 that night and had a great time.

We took part in a few of the activities over the next few days. Diane and Doug's daughter arrived visiting them and they invited us for a trip to one of the motus where Doug and Joao will try to do some surfing and the rest of us some snorkeling. It was a very nice day and we met some more friends of Diane and Doug on m/v Catatac.

Our passage to Fiji

Posted 3 September 2011

We were watching the weather closely for a opening to go to Fiji. We had rather strong SE winds blowing for about 8 days. We did not have much time to see all the lovely islands in Tonga, but spend some time with our friends Chantal and Fredy (s/v Micromegas) and Jean-Marc and Odile (s/v Lifou) in Hunga Island.

Our weather opening came and we left for Fiji on Monday afternoon 29 August. The first night and the next day we still had some stronger winds up to 23 knots and the sea swell was big at times. We were expecting this so was prepared for it, although it is uncomfortable. The next 2 days we had lighter winds and calm seas which was great and we actually spend Dinis birthday motoring. Our last day was the best sailing, the wind was blowing between 12 and 15 knots and the seas were calm. We did good time this last day.

We were not going to make it in time for a Friday during the day arrival, so we though to seek anchorage and then make our way toward Lautoka during the weekend. Fiji has big islands and the distance between them is quite long. As we were approaching an anchorage on Friday mid morning both Dinis and myself had a bad feeling as this anchorage lay in a cove that have reefs on both sides of the land, with a less than 0.200 nm width. It was also overcast which make the visibility seeing the reef difficult. We decided that we will just continue...what is an extra night at sea...

To get inside the reefs on our way to Lautoka we have to sail through a pass, the Navula Pass. This pass is about 1 nm in width and on the chart it shows a white flashing white light indicating the northern reef and then flashing leading lights. If you follow the leading lights there is a great anchorage about 3 nm after passing through the pass. We decided that this was a far better anchorage and much safer as you have the navigation lights to help you.

Around 9 pm on Friday night 2 September Dinis confirmed that the navigation lights were working when we saw a cruise ship close to the Navula Pass's longitude and latitude. We saw the cruise ship details on the AIS and Dinis gave the captain a call on the VHF. This confirmation finalized our decision to enter the pass and anchor instead of having to wait at sea for day light.

Well my nerves was just shot when we arrived around 11:45 pm at the pass and we could not see the flashing white light at the northern reef only a red flashing light. The leading lights were quite weak, but Dinis was confident. I could not make out the leading lights and this red flashing light really bugged me as on the chart it showed a red flashing light but much further north than the pass. I was extremely nervous and was giving way to my fear of running into the reefs. By this time Dinis told me to stop my $%#@ and go inside and give him directions from the chart and also from the radar.

As we came closer to the reefs the leading lights became clearer although I still could not confirm this. We were watching the depth very carefully as we will have time to react as the depth drops in increments. I spend the longest 20 minutes of my life inside holding my breath while Dinis followed the leading lights with me checking the electronic charts and the radar. We pass through the pass like professional skippers and we drop anchor in Momi Bay. Afterwards we confirmed that the northern reef's light is indeed red and not white as the chart indicated. I was very happy and thankful to Dinis that he followed his instinct and not allowing me to put my fear onto him. All ended in good spirits.

We will stay here until Sunday and then make the 20 nm to Lautoka for check-in on Monday morning.

Tonga feast

Posted 2 September 2011

On Sunday morning 21 August Larry and Kim (s/v Magenta), Steve (s/v Heat Wave) and ourselves were picked up by our host. When we arrived at his residence we were just in time to see the opening of the underground oven. The oven is about 2x2x2 meters and at the bottom is a layer of hot stones. Breadfruit, yams, sweet potato and green papaya were packed in two layers above the stones. The chicken and beef taro dishes were covered in foil and put on a separate layer on top of the vegetables. The last layer was the fish. The oven was closed with corrugated tin to act as the oven door. Lots of banana and coconut leaves and sand were placed on top of the oven door to insolate the oven. It remained covered for about 3 to 4 hours for the food to be cooked. They had a pig roasted on its own spit. Sometimes the pig would be cooked in the oven as well. The food was delicious and we enjoyed the company of our friends at lunch. We had too much to eat and decided to take a walk back to the anchorage instead of been driven.

On route back we met up with some local children eating mandarins. They took us to this big tree and 2 boys climb literally like monkeys getting us some mandarins. They had fun and I was holding my breath hoping that the boys would not fall out of the tree. We said our good byes and continue our walking back.

We came across a group of men sitting around a table with some guitars and singing at the local fire hall station. They were drinking kava and having a grand old time. They invited us to join them and serving us some kava. The kava is served by a women traditionally. By this time the kava had taken effect on everyone there and everything was in a kind of slow motion pace. I did not like the look or taste of the kava. Looks like watered down brownish milk. Dinis and Larry had a great time joining the drinking and before long they were starting to feel the numbness. Anyway all good things have to come to an end.

We had to get going as we were invited to listen to the choir contest Sunday evening in the local Catholic Church. We got home with just enough time to have a shower and a quick bite before we were meeting other cruisers for the choir contest.

We were all seated in the back of the church as the whole church was filled with the choir contestants. They had 10 groups and the singing was just great. The Tongan people have great voices and it was a pleasure listening to the singing. Everyone was wearing their tradition dress.

What a great day.

Arrived in Tonga

Posted 20 August 2011

The weather between Bora-Bora and Tonga seems to be quite unpredictable, with frequent squalls and rain. We had a pleasant passage until a big squall hit us. We furled the genoa and had 3 reefs in the main sail and this was done very fast. We were lucky as the amount of rain that was dumped on us was the most I have seen up to now. The winds was blowing 35 knots for about 3 to 5 minutes and then all was calm. It left the sea with confused swells and us having to start the engine to actually move again. This was the only big squall for this passage.

We were heading towards the north of the Vavau group of islands, but the wind changed to a more westerly direction which forced us to sail towards the south of the islands. This delayed our arrival time from during the day to night time. We were very happy with the electronic charts, in some places it is slightly off, but in combination with the radar we had no problems getting into port at night. We took a mooring buoy at 12:15 am on Friday morning 19 August and slept solidly until the morning.

We took our time having breakfast, tiding-up the boat a bit and then headed towards customs and immigration for clearing into the Kingdom of Tonga. No problems with clearing in and we manage to get the banking and some provisioning done.

On Sunday we are going for a traditional Tonga feast, but that will be another posting on the blog.

Niue Island

Posted 15 August 2011

Our passage to Niue was uneventful except for 1 night where the wind picked up to about 28 knots. Not to put too much pressure on the wind vane we reduced the genoa to quite small. We arrived in Niue at 03:00 am on Monday morning 8 th August. The bay was totally calm and with the light from the moon we had no problem seeing the mooring buoys. Our friends from Cool Cat and Micromegas arrived the previous Friday.

At 09:00 am Monday morning we all went ashore for customs and immigration clear in. It was great seeing our friends again. We were all greeted by Keith the commodore of Niue Yacht Club at the wharf. He took our laundry to be washed and dried, this was great as we got quite wet on the passage. We went for fish and chips after all the paper work was done to catch up on each other's news.

We were invited to have supper onboard Micromegas as Cool Cat was leaving Tuesday morning for Tonga. We had a lovely time. Tuesday morning Dinis pumped the dinghy so that he can fix the wind vane permanently. It was quite a bit of work, but he did managed to fix the problem.

We rented a car together with Chantal and Fredy for our day tour around the island. We picked the car up at the wharf and started our trip. We had enough food and was looking out for papayas as this fruit grows abundantly on the island. A person is allowed to pick papayas as long as it is not on private property. We manage to get quite a few papayas, some still green, which should be ready for eating in a couple of days. We also got some coconut and cut a palm tree to make our own millionaire salad (heart of palm). We had a very good picnic lunch and supper. We visited several sightseeing locations and snorkel in beautiful caves.

Niue is very beautiful, reminded me of Galapagos as far as the wildlife is concern. The bay where the mooring buoys are, are also the bay where the humpback whales come to breed and have their calves. They swam meters away from the boats, very spectacular.

We were 4 boats in the bay. Another Canadian boat came into the bay on Sunday 14 August, what a surprise to meet our friends Larry and Kim from sv Magenta again. The last time we saw each other was about 4 years ago in Vancouver. We all went for a snorkel to see if we can see the water snakes. We did see the snakes, apparently they are poisonous but there are no incident on record where anyone was bitten.

Unfortunately the wind was changing and the anchorage was becoming uncomfortable. We all are preparing to leave on Monday morning after we clear out. Unfortunately for Magenta the weather forecast is not in their favour and they will not be able to go ashore Niue unless they want to wait for better weather and be uncomfortable.

Palmerston Atoll - South Cook Islands

Posted 8 August 2011

We were 3 boats that arrived on Sunday 31 July at Palmerston Atoll, Chantal and Fredy from Micromegas and Hanuku and Darrel from Cool Cat. Our hosts Edward and Simon brought the officials aboard on Monday morning. No problems clearing into the South Cook Islands, although quite expensive, cost us $105.00 NZD. After clearing in, we all went ashore where the hosts organized a lunch at their home for us all. We met the family and had a very lovely and interesting time.

Palmerston Atoll's population is 64, where more than half are children. We went for a stroll through the village and met the school principle. She took us for a tour showing us the school. We were very impress with the amount of organization and work that goes into the school. There are currently 3 teachers at the school.

The anchorage is good as long as the wind is blowing from the S, SW or SE. As soon as it changes the anchorage becomes a lee shore, uncomfortable and not safe. We did not manage to fix the wind vane in time before the wind shifted towards the NE on Tuesday 2 August, as Dinis helped Edward to do a service on his quad's engine and also another quad that had some problems. They use quads and motorcycles as transportation on the island. Micromegas and Cool Cat decided that it were time to leave. We tied ourselves to another buoy, so that we were now tied up to 2 buoys just for incase.

On Wednesday the water tanks were full and Dinis had managed to temporary fix the wind vane, as by now the swell in the anchorage was quite bad. We decided that we will sleep the night and then leave on Thursday morning first thing. During the night we were woken by noise and Dinis went outside to investigate. It looked like one of buoys that we were tied to was not holding us anymore. The reef also looked to close for comfort to us, maybe 2 boat lengths. We decided that we have to leave, so at 4 am Dinis started the engine. After bit of a struggle for me to pull the lines to release the boat from the buoys we were released and began our trip to Niue.

Very tiring passage - Palmerston Atoll

Posted 31 July 2011

On our second day out we discovered the watermaker electric motor is not working. We suspect the brushes as with a previous inspection of the motor we noted that the brushes were nearly gone. Lesson to ourselves 'make sure the tanks are full before leaving'. We had enough water for this trip and we will be able to get water in Palmerston, but we will not do that again.

We had great sailing for the first three days when the winds picked up, it was blowing between 26 to 32 knots. Our second misfortune for the trip, the wind vane gears disconnected, I guess the winds were too strong for the wind vane. We had trouble before with the gears, but a person from Monitor in San Francisco had a look at it when we where there last year. With the winds so strong and both of us not too energetic, we decided to lay a haul for the rest of that day and the night. In hindsight not sure if this was the correct thing to do, as it was a very rolly night, but we did get some rest.

The rest of the trip (48 hours) was hand steering, not fun after getting used to the wind vane, at least the rest of the trip the winds was great and we had great sailing. We were hoping to reached Palmerston before sunset on Saturday, but we were not that lucky. On Sunday morning we managed to speak to the local people from Palmerston Atoll and they came out to assist us with tying the boat to the buoy.

Tomorrow morning customs and immigration will come aboard for clearing us into South Cooks Islands. First thing after that is to get the water tanks filled up. Dinis said he will be able to fix the wind vane and we already ordered a new motor for the water maker. This spare parts will be send to Fiji, where we should arrive towards end of August. Unfortunately this will cut our time from here to Fiji a bit shorter than we planned, but then we can take our time getting this 2 major issues sorted out.

Meeting great people

Posted 26 July 2011

We had the great fortune in meeting a Canadian family from Toronto area in Bora-Bora. Cornelia and Michael with their three children Zoe (13), Maia (11) and Liam (9) on s/v Gromit. Both Dinis and myself love children and had a great time interacting with the children and their parents. I think it is a great experience for these children learning and experiencing different cultures and languages.

With children, life is never boring and we played card games, snorkeled, watched the kids sailing on a hobby cat, ate great food that they prepared. On our last night before leaving Bora-Bora, Michael caught a big fish, all exited they dinghied over, for us to help identify the fish. It was a big eye jack fish. Dinis and Michael went back to s/v Gromit to clean and fillet the fish. Cornelia and the kids stayed with me and we watched one of the Hornblower movies. We are missing the Gromiteers, but our paths will cross again.

Both sailing vessels left Sunday 24 July from Bora-Bora, although to different destinations. s/v Gromit heading to Suwarrow Atoll and us to Palmerston Atoll. Both Atolls are around 680 nm from Bora-Bora, but Suwarrow in a north-west direction and Palmerston in a south-west direction.

Swimming with sting rays - Bora-Bora

Posted 15 July 2011

Early Friday morning we went to the outside reef to snorkel and we were lucky to see some lemon sharks although they were deeper. Afterwards we went with our dinghy to swim with the sting rays and the experience was just great. I was a bit scared as these sting rays are quite big about 3 to 4 feet in width. A tourist boat was already there and they came prepared with food to feed the sting rays. I was not brave enough, but Dinis had a great time feeding the sting rays. The rays came up towards your face and took the food from your fingers with their mouth which is on the bottom. I did touch the rays and they felt soft somewhat like leather. There were about 12 sting rays swimming around us. Took lots of photos.

Bora-Bora Island

Posted 14 July 2011

We made our way from Tahiti to Bora-Bora by stopping at Moorea, Raiatea and Tahaa Islands. It is really beautiful and much easier to navigate. The coral reefs are very well marked and it is a pleasure to sail around the islands where possible as the reefs around the islands sufficiently stop the sea swells.

There are much more fresh produce around and we did a big shopping in Tahiti. We arrived in Bora-Bora on Monday 11 July and intend to stay here until my visa expires on 28 July. We will sail around the island and just enjoy the clear blue water and the lovely people. We have found the Polynesian people so friendly and polite, helped where ever they could. We are indeed privileged to have been here and experience this lovely paradise on earth.

We are not sure exactly where our next stop will be in South Cook's Islands, but there is enough time to make that decision later.

Arrived in Papeete - Tahiti

Posted 2 July 2011

We had an uneventful trip to Papeete. The first day we had light winds and the following day we had no wind at all. Dinis was very sad for leaving the Tuamotu archipelago, but I was ready for a big city. We arrived Thursday 30 June in a beautiful but very busy harbour. We are med moored at Quai Bir-Hakeim downtown Papeete. Was quite a process to get ourselves settle at the quay as you do not use your own anchor, but instead have to get the line from the quay and then pull the line which is attached to an anchor, you then tie the anchor to the boat and then reverse back to tie the back of the boat to the quay. We were lucky that some of our friends were at the same quay and there was not much of a current which helped us. Needless to say we went for supper with our friends, after such a long time we really enjoyed not having to cook.

For the next two weeks it is festival time, we planned our trip so that we can be here for the famous festivals. Friday morning we watched some canoe races. Quite exiting, young and old taking part in their national sport. In the evening we bought tickets to see the opening show to the start of the festival. There is no way I can try to describe the show, it was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately taking any photos and videos were prohibited. The show started with the fire dances and what is so amazing is that the participants range from about 4 years to about 70 years. The highlight was the dancing, just spectacular, the women so elegant and graceful and the men so strong. The costumes were so colourful and were decorated with seashells, leaves and pearls. So beautiful.

We did manage to get all out propane bottles filled, got most of our groceries. Now the only tasks left are to fill the diesel tanks, do the laundry and find an internet cafe. We will stay downtown until Monday morning and then go to an anchorage about 10 nm south from here.

Fakarava Atoll - Tuamotu

Posted 27 June 2010

We spend 4 days getting all the little boat chores done and then made our way to the south of the Atoll. We were quite a few boats at anchor and met a lovely South African family traveling on a catamaran called Malakite. We spend some time having a proper 'braai' on the beach and catching up on news from home.

Fakarava so far was the best place for snorkeling, we saw hundreds of sharks which included black tip, white tip and grey sharks. My highlight was these huge Napoleon fish, gracious swimmers and just absolutely beautiful. We spend lots of time in the water swimming between all these beautiful fishes. We took lots of photos and videos and I will post it as soon as we are back in internet land.

We are running low on everything from propane, petrol for the dinghy, provisioning and fresh produce, so we have to leave this beautiful archipelago tomorrow morning Tuesday 28 June for Tahiti. It is 250 nm from here, so should take us 2 days to arrive.

Arrived in Fakarava Atoll - Tuamotu

Posted 18 June 2011

It is always difficult to say good bye when you are having fun in a fantastic place surrounded by fantastic people. We left early Tuesday morning 14 June from the north pass in Apataki Atoll for an overnight sail to Fakarava Atoll. The winds were light between 7 and 12 knots which was great as we were sailing close haul. Later during the night the wind direction changed and we had to motor the rest of the way as now the wind was on the nose.

We entered the northern pass of Fakarava early Wednesday morning 15 June with about 2 to 2.5 knots of current against us. Luckily the pass is wide and easy to navigate and it took us about 30 minutes to get through. We anchor in another beautiful anchorage. This Atoll is the second biggest Atoll and the village is much bigger than the other 2 Atolls we visited so far.

We were in luck as the supply ship arrived the next day, we had nothing left as far as fresh fruit and vegetables. It is very difficult to get fresh produce in the Tuamotu Atolls. We stock up on what fresh produce we could find that will last us for another 2 weeks until we get to Tahiti where
we should have no problem finding fresh produce.

We are also still out of 'internet land' and hopefully will be much more in luck when we reach Tahiti. We made our way towards the south eastern corner of the Atoll, about halfway and dropped anchor in a beautiful little sandy shore. We will stay a few more days here doing some small boat projects and then move to the southern anchorage which are great for snorkeling.

Apataki Atoll - Tuamotu

Posted 17 June 2011

Tamaro is a motu in Apataki Atoll, it is also the name of a pet nurse shark from Mr. Assan who is the patriarch of the Lau family. They own a pearl farm business and a boat dry storage up to 20 tonne and any width run by his son Alfred and his wife Pauline, with the help of Alfred's son Tony and his fiance Caroline.

The amazing thing about the shark is that at 2 to 3 o'clock in the afternoon he comes into the beach with half his body out of the water while Assam cuts fish on a board on top of his head and feeds him while he stays motionless, then he pats him as if he was a cat or dog.

We had a very short stay week in Apataki and enjoyed very much the hospitality of the Lau family. We also met several cruisers at anchor there and had lots of fun visiting, socializing and snorkeling. There are so many beautiful corals along the shore and close to the anchorage, it was appropriately named 'Coral-City' by our friends Eeva and Tapio (s/v Irene)'s grandchildren that visited them the previous year.

We also had our genoa fixed by Claude which is a sailmaker by trade and I feel a little better now, it was not a huge problem but could have cause problems especially in stronger winds.

Dinis helped another sailor Francois painting the bottom of his catamaran while in the boatyard and afterwards we had a sail with the company of other sailors and friends on his catamaran. The motion is so much different than a mono haul, but much more comfortable. Now Dinis is dreaming with doing another trip but in a catamaran...oh boy...

We had stronger winds for about 3 days, afterwards we made our way to the north eastern corner of the Atoll sailing along with s/v Irene. We met another sailboat in the northern anchorage and had a beautiful beach bbq the next day. We left the following morning early for our overnight sail to Fakarava Atoll.

Arrived in Apataki Atoll - Tuamotu

Posted 2 June 2011

We just drop anchor in an absolutely beautiful bay in Apataki Atoll. We left Manihi Atoll yesterday around 4:45 pm local time for our overnight trip to Apataki Atoll. We had a fantastic sail all the way with calm seas and 10 to 13 knots of wind on the beam. We did well, made the 78 nm within 12 hours. A strong current was against us as we entered the pass to the Atoll, so we moored the boat at the wharf next to the village around 8:00 am this morning. We did some exploring and a small provisioning, not much here as far as groceries. We waited until 1:00 pm for the current to turn and be more in our favour. We motored for another 10 nm in the Atoll to the south eastern corner of the Atoll where they have a small boat yard. The water is so clear, looks like a swimming pool, a person just wants to jump in. Tomorrow we will get the dinghy in the water and do some exploring.

Manihi Atoll - Tuamotu

Posted 29 May 2011

This week that we spend in Manihi Atoll flew by so fast. It is so beautiful here. We spend the week exploring the Atoll, snorkeling to look at the coral and fishes with our friends Ib and Yadranka from s/v Aeolus. We were invited for a Tuamotuan picnic on the beach at the blue lagoon by Fernando and his friends. The blue lagoon is on the eastern side of the Atoll about 15 nm from the entrance. The water is so clear, is looks like a swimming pool. We had great fun learning the local way of doing things, from making salad from the palm tree and greens for a green salad, making bread from the old coconuts, grating coconuts and making a fire using the coral stones as charcoals. We had a feast and was lucky for a visit by the black tip reef sharks that swam close by eating the fish bones we threw for them.

We have a small problem with the outboard, looks like the impeller, lucky we have spares. We will look at this tomorrow morning and then heading for Apataki Atoll on Tuesday morning 31 May. Apataki Atoll is about 50 nm from here.

On route to Manihi Altoll - Tuamotu

Posted 23 May 2011

We left early Wednesday morning 18 May for the 480 nm to Manihi Atoll. It just happened that six of the boats that left that morning formed a little net between each other, checking in once per day on the SSB radio. We had perfect sailing conditions all the way, the wind was blowing between 10 and 15 knots with calm seas. It took us 4 days to reached the Atoll, but we had to slow the boat down to arrive in the morning instead of night time. This was the only time that we were uncomfortable, as the reduced sail cause the boat to roll more.

The Tuamotu Archipelago are low lying islands with reefs and strong currents, so a person has to be careful navigating in these waters. We were 3 boats that entered the pass in Manihi Atoll on Sunday morning 22 May. S/V Tiger, then s/v Aeolus and then us. The pass was quite easy and we could clearly see the coral. Beginners luck we got our anchor stuck on a coral head. Will have to dive to loosen it if we can not manage to get it loose by engine and patience alone. We have been told that 80% of boats in this anchorage have the same problem, so we do not feel too bad.

Ua-Pou Island - Marquises

Posted 22 May 2011

As we approached Ua-Pou Island we noticed several pinnacles on the mountains and also a more dry vegetation. A beautiful island. We were later told that this island is one of the driest islands in Marquises and that the water supply is shutdown 3 times during the day at times.

We found the people the most friendly here, for example, Dinis asked a lady where we can find a restaurant as he would like to get a beer and some food. She told us that the restaurant is closed as it is Sunday, but it would be open later in the evening. She then offered us some grapefruit, oranges and lemons and drove us to her house to pick the fruit up and then took us for a drive through the village.

The next morning we left this anchorage for another anchorage on the same island. We were 9 boats anchored in this bay, most waiting for the wind to pick up for the Tuamotus. We were invited for a traditional meal at a local resident and his family. This was great, all together we were 8 sailboats that joined in the festivities. That night we ate until we could no more, the food was lovely and everyone had a great time. The host and his family did some traditional dancing. Later when everyone had eaten the fun started, all the men had to learn the 'Pig Dance'. We were in hysterics and I took several photos and videos (which I can only post when in Tahiti), then it was the ladies time. We had to do some traditional dancing mimicking our host's daughter, looked easier than actually doing it. Then is were the children's time.

We were glad that the next morning the wind still did not pick up as most of us needed some more sleep and preparing the boats. We got the dinghy all washed and stowed.

The next morning Wednesday 18 May, 7 boats left for the Tuamotus from this anchorage.

Nuku-Hiva Island - Marquises

Posted 19 May 2011

Baie de Taiohae is a big bay and we had no problems finding a spot to anchor. We were glad to see our friends Ib and Yadranka from s/v Aeolus at anchor in the bay. We last saw them in Hiva-Oa. We spend a few days exploring the beautiful village, done some provisioning and trying to sort out the internet and our gmail account problems. Unfortunately singing on to our gmail in Hiva-Oa caused us having to verify our account by cell phone (which we do not have) as gmail security detected that we signed in from an 'Unusual Location'. Only in Tahiti will we be able to resolve our email problem, and will then be able to read and send emails.

On Thursday May 12, we motored to Baie Hakaui (Daniels Bay), which is just 5 nm east on the same island. The bay is hidden and just as a person think there is no bay, this magnificent bay opens up. Very protected and beautiful. Our friends from s/v Aeolus and Kittywake were also anchored in the bay.

The Marquisan people are very proud people and in this specific village we were told by Augustine (local resident) that the people still prefer no electricity. Augustine is a very interesting person, he is a hunter (hunting wild goat and pig) and also do wood, bone and stone carvings in his spare time. We had the pleasure in meeting him.

That evening all the boats at anchor and Augustine went for a beach party. Everyone brought something to eat and drink. It was a lovely evening. Most cruisers done the walk to the waterfall, only Kittywake and us did not yet, so we decided to do it the next day. The following morning we had a great walk, but only made it halfway to the waterfall. We were eaten alive by the mosquitos. On our way back we picked up our fruit that Augustine prepared for us.

We stayed another day watching the weather for our crossing to the Tuamotus. There was not much wind so we decided to sail 25 nm south to Au Pou Island.

Fatu-Hiva Island - Marquises

Posted 15 May 2011

We had a boisterous sail from Tahuata Island to Fatu-Hiva Island with head winds 15 to 22 knots, which caused us to sail slightly south east of the island, took us 11 hours to finally reached the island. This was well worth it, as the anchorage was the most spectacular and beautiful.

The following day we met up with Mary and John from s/v Kittywake and Gary and Sue from s/v Yaringa to explore the village and also make the 1 and 1/2 hours walk to the beautiful waterfall and natural pool. Dinis negotiated with Christian (local resident) for fruit for us and we also bought a small tapa drawing from Christian for the boat.

Our trek up to the waterfall were fun with lots of laughter and jokes, so it took no time to get there. When we reached the waterfall and pool, we were surprise how cold the water was. Needless to say took us awhile before we were all in the water. It was refreshing and we were enjoying the swimming and just relaxing in the water. We saw fresh water shrimp and a eel. The eel was quite tame and not scared of people.

Our trek back was much easier and back in the village we got our fruit from Christian. We said our good buys to John and Mary as they were leaving the next day. We spend another day at anchor preparing for our overnight trip to Nuku-Hiva which is 128 nm north east of the island.

S/V Yaringa and ourselves left on Sunday 8 May. S/V Yaringa headed towards Tahuata Island which is on-route to Nuku-Hiva. We tried to make a phone patch via the ham radio to South Africa to wish my mom a happy Mothersday, but unfortunately my mom could not hear us, although her voice came load and clear over the radio. "Ma, hoop ma het 'n lekker Moedersdag gehad". We are struggling with internet services here in French Polynesia.

We arrived Monday 9 May midday in Baie Taiohae (capital of Marquises) Nuku-Hiva Island.

Hiva-Oa, Marquises

Posted 3 May 2011

We arrived on a overcast and rainy day at the beautiful Hiva-Oa island. The bay was packed with 19 sailing boats all anchored with bow and stern anchors. We were lucky that one boat left just before we arrived and had a spot to drop the anchor.

We pumped the dinghy the next day and headed into town to check-in. Dinis used his Portuguese passport and required no bond, so off to the bank we went to pay the bond for me. I had some trouble with my ATM card and could not withdraw the money for the bond. We decided to try again the following day and went for lunch and then back to the boat.

The following day we had more success with the money and paid the bond. All non-European union people have to pay a bond which is equivalent to a air ticket price back to your home city, which will be refunded when you check-out of French Polynesia. We went back to the 'Gendarme' to complete our check-in. This was the easiest and cheapest check-in, all we had to do was paying the bond, filling out a form and paying 70 cents for a stamp at the post office to send the paperwork to Tahiti.

We were very impressed with the town and the people, again very clean and very friendly. It helps that Dinis speaks French, although most people understand English. The only shock for us was the prices, everything on the islands are expensive, about double the price compared to the Canadian dollar. For example I bought 2 lettuce, 6 cucumbers, 5 grapefruit and 1 cabbage for about $20. We needed fresh vegetables and were lucky that a supply ship came in the previous day, so we managed to stock-up again. We also found some very nice New Zealand cheese that needs no refrigeration.

On Sunday 1 May we did a tour of the island with Jo and Rob from S/V Blue Moon. We visited 3 archeological sites, went for a traditional lunch and enjoyed the rugged driving conditions around the island.

We left this morning, Tuesday 3 May for Baie Hanatefau on Tahuata Island, about 14 nm from Hiva_Oa.

We arrived in Hiva-Oa, Marquises

Posted 26 April 2011

We finally arrived after 23 days. The passage was fast with the help of the current that pushed us along. We dropped anchor at 14:00 hours local time. The weather was overcast and rainy, so we decided to take the afternoon and just relax watching a movie and then going to bed to catch up all the lost sleep. We will pump up the dinghy and check in tomorrow morning. More on our trip with the next posting.

On route to Marquises - 3 to 4 Days to go

Posted 22 April 2011

We are still doing fine, just a very long passage. Dinis enjoys the solitude and the tranquility of the passage much more than me. I much prefer coastal cruising and shorter passages. This is our longest passage in our planned circumnavigation. We saw dolphins twice, saw lots of flying fish, some birds and 1 fishing vessel, other than that a pretty quite and uneventful trip.

The weather is good with light winds (8 to 15 knots) most of the time. We had a few more squalls, but all in all great weather. The days are mostly overcast with the temperature from 27 to 31 degrees Celsius. This is much cooler than we had in Galapagos and Central America.

The south sub-tropical current is in our favour with 1 to 2 knots per hour. This adds 20 to 40 nm per day to our distance traveled. Our best 24 hr run is 160 nm.

We are still sailing with our twin head sail configuration. We have our staysail poled out to the windward with the spinnaker pole and the genoa to leeward with the sheet supported by the end of the boom. This works great as we only have to furl the genoa when the winds increase.

The Marquises Islands are French Territory and consist of 12 volcanic islands. 3 of the Islands have facilities for checking in and out. We are heading for Hiva-Oa island. This island is on the southern part of the group of islands. The city name is Atuona.

All the 'Rock and Roll' motion of the boat had a positive impact on our waistlines. Both Dinis and myself are a little bit more toned since we left the Galapagos.

On route to Marquises - Halfway

Posted 16 April 2010

Our position is 08 degrees 20 minutes south and 113 degrees 57 minutes west, we are halfway !! Took us 12 and a half days to reached the halfway point, 1500 nm to go. For a couple of days after we left Galapagos on Sunday April 3, we had to motor to get through the doldrums. There was no wind, the seas calm with the daily squall or sometimes a series of squalls. We did not mind the squalls as with it came rain that washed all the salt off the boat. Only 3 times, and always on my watch in the early morning hours, had the squalls cause us to reduce sails. Monitoring the squalls on the radar you had a pretty good idea if it is going to be a big one or not, the thing that surprised me most was that the squalls hit within seconds and did not give you much time for reducing sails. By the third morning still getting drenched we had the sails reduced in no time. The squalls are more active close to the equator and since we passed latitude 06 degrees south we had no more squalls.

We are sailing on a twin head sail configuration, and this will most probably be for the rest of the way unless the wind changes direction. This sail configuration is great as it is self correcting, not much pressure on the wind wane and not much for us to do. It can be rolly, especially when the sea swell gets a bit bigger.

We have settled into a routine of sleep, eat, read, radio talk, check the weather and the boat etc. We had 3 sightings of commercial ships since we left, not much traffic, although we are 1 of 6 sailboats within 400 nm miles of each other on route to the Marquesas from Galapagos. We have a radio schedule twice daily with the group of boats. This is also reassuring for me to know that we are not entirely alone.

We consumed all the fresh vegetables and fruit except for some potatoes, onions and a watermelon. We still have lots of frozen vegetables and fruit, so we should be OK until close to the end of our passage. Then the tin vegetables and fruit will have to do.

One of Dinis ham radio friends arranged for us to get a phone patch via the ham radio and we spoke to Morgan. This was our highlight of the trip so far. Both Dinis and myself were quite overwhelmed when we first heard Morgan's voice booming loud and clear over the radio. It was so nice to speak to him. We will do this again before he leaves on his next assignment.

Farewell Galapagos

Posted 14 April 2010

We were very sad when we raised anchor on Sunday 3 April for our long passage to the Marquesas. Galapagos was the one place that we both loved. Wildlife, nature and its people live in harmony and this piecefullness engulfs a person. We say farewell with the fondest memories.

We would like to say thank you to our agent Bolivar Pesantes Palma and his family. Bolivar did not only do all our paperwork clearing us into and out of San Cristobal, but also introduce us to his family and friends, organized an island tour, gave us advice on good restaurants and steer us in the correct direction for sightseeing. For anyone interested in contacting Bolivar or his wife Grace, the agency name is Naugala Galapagos Marine Company. Bolivar cell number is 593-094-205-158 and Grace cell number is 593-091-479-295. They can also be reached by email

Another person we would like to thanks is Martin Delgado (Dive Master). We did our snorkeling tour with his company and what a great experience is was. His website is and he can be reached via email

We will surely miss this unique place on earth and its people.

Galapagos Radio Station - HC8GR

Posted 13 April 2010

In the Galapagos we met Don Guido Rossio and I believe the only Ham (HC8GR) in the archipelago at the moment. Four American aficionados supplied the materials and the towers were build in Finca Chelito II, El Junco, Don Guido's farm.

The antenna farm consists of four towers of 50 meters high each, installed in a square of 60 meters by 60 meters, orientated in a north east direction.

The radio shack is behind and in the middle of towers #1 and #4.

Tower #1 is a 20 meters band with 4 yagis, which are pointed in different directions. Tower #2 is a 10 meters band with 5 yagis, which are pointed in different directions. Tower #3 is a 15 meters band with 5 yagis, which are pointed in different directions. Tower #4 is a 40,12 and 17 meters bands with 2 yagis, which are pointed in different directions.

At 50 meters height, between towers #4 and #1 and towers #1 and #2 are 2 dipoles for 80 meters bands. Also between towers #2 and #3 and towers #3 and #4 are 2 dipoles for 40 meters bands. From tower #2 to the ground there is a dipole for 160 meters band and one as well from tower #3. There are also 2 listening antennas at 3 meters height from the ground of 250 meters each.

Tower #5 is Don Guido's personal antenna and at 18 meters height he has 1 tribander for 20, 15,and 10 meters bands and 1 VHF Marine.

The building at ground level has an open plan kitchen, eating area, a small office and private accommodation. Next floor up are the sleeping rooms. Each room has its own shower/toilet. On the last floor is the radio room, with an outside patio. This is an all business room with lots of equipment, cables, computer keyboards, 7 Ameritrom Al-1200 amplifiers, workshop with all sorts of tools and 7 radios inside their own private storage containers. On the walls all around have awards plates with the majority of them world records.

Don Guido was very active with sailors crossing from Panama to Galapagos and to the Marquesas. After we met, he invited us to spend some time at his farm and for me to play radio. My working conditions at the farm was a Kenwood TS-930S with 100 watts. To move around the different bands, one simply turned a switch. I called CQ, my call sign in the Galapagos was VA7DIN/HC8. The pile up was almost instantaneous and nothing prepared me for the amount and intensity of the calls that came into the air. I worked all over Europe, USA, Canada, South America and even a Romania Maritime Mobil going around Cape Horn. After 2 hours I threw my towel into the ring defeated. I made 134 contacts, a good ham operator will do that in a half hour, but I pure and simply did not have the experience to control a pile up of that magnitude.

For anyone that wishes to see the station you can contact Guido Rossio on 593-5-2520414 or email him at

"Thank you very much Don Guido for your invitation and allowing me to work from your station, your hospitality and to your wife for the lovely supper she had prepared for us"

Visiting aboard Isla Puna

Posted 31 March 2011, written by Dinis

'Isla Puna', I believe is a medium size tanker, 1,000,000 gallons of fuel, captained by Alejandro Soto, that services the fuel needs of Galapagos Islands. We had the opportunity to meet him and enjoy his company for half a day. Captain Alejandro is one of those people that one likes at first glance, warm, polite, well receiving and a proud Ecuadorian. Before joining the Merchant Navy, he was Capitan De Mar e Guerra in the Ecuadorian Navy.

He came aboard 'Vida Nova' and showed genuine interest how the boat was equipped and laid out. Afterwards he invited us to tour Motor tanker 'Isla Puna'. He was a great host, showing us the whole ship, from bow to stern, the deployment of the abandon ship, the machine room, the galley, the mess, Captain's quarters and the command bridge.

The first impression was light and cleanness. As a matter of fact the whole ship was very clean and tidy. As one came into the command bridge the feeling was of light, space and organization. The working stations were spacious and very well laid out. In the center of the bridge was the wheel station and to port side were two individual radar stations, that the Captain monitored, and the Captain's chair. From the wheel to starboard were the engine controls, the AIS etc. On the port side aft was a full size chart table with 4 chart drawers underneath. The ship's course was plotted on the charts every time it changes course, time, and speed. Above the chart table was the depth sounder, GPS and various instruments related to navigation. On the starboard aft side was the radio station, with VHF, HF and emergency frequencies monitored.

Captain Alejandro invited us to watch the ship being moved from one crowed side of the bay to a more clear side as the departure was set for 02:00 hours local time. The whole affair was so calm, orders being given and acknowledgements from the two bridge officers, one at the wheel station and the other at the engine controls. At the right time the port anchor was weight, the stern lines released and finally the main anchor came up. We left at 3.5 knots of speed (we hardly felt it) with the Captain constantly monitoring the radar, bearings and depth. After anchoring we were led to the starboard pilot ladder, said our good byes and best wishes and boarded the ships huge inflatable service dinghy.

It was a pity that we could not accept the invitation to sail overnight to Isla Isabella with 'Isla Puna', but time is running out and we must make headway. When we returned to our boat one day later, I was surprised by a very well tied plastic bag with two ship's golf shirts and a personalized, stamped and signed note by Captain Alejandro Soto.

"Thank you Captain Alejandro for your warm welcome, as well your crew. I would like to use the opportunity to apologize to the two bridge officers for not remembering their names. Please forgive an old man's memory. Capitan Alejandro, los desejanos buenna suerto para usted su tripulation numa mission importante e peligroza servindo Galapagos. Sinceramente Dinis e Veronica S/V Vida Nova"

Playa Loberia, Leon Dormido, Islas Lobos, Galapagos

Posted 30 March 2011

Friday morning 25 March we took a taxi to Playa Loberia to do some snorkeling with turtles and sea lions and also to see the marine iguanas. This is a beautiful beach with great surf. We arrived early in the morning at high tide and many surfers were already surfing.

The water was quite refreshing, colder than in Central America, but still nice to snorkel. We saw our first turtles and I was very happy. The water was so clear you could see for quite far. Took lots of pictures and a beautiful video of swimming with the turtle. By the size of this turtle he must be older than the rest we saw. The sea lions was not that active so we did not get any underwater photos of them there.

What a great morning we had, met some young men from Brazil traveling. They were surfing and Dinis had a great time speaking Portuguese again. They invited us to join them snorkeling on Saturday at Leon Dormido and Islas Lobos. So Saturday morning we left for our snorkeling and what a blast we had. We did see Galapagos sharks, not big sharks about 1 to 1.5 meters, lots of turtles and fish.

On Sunday 27 March, we went for a tour of the island. Our first stop was at El Junco Lake. We walked around the lake and had a great view of the island. We then stoped at Cerro Colorado Galapagos Breeding Station to see the Giant tortoises. This is very interesting and these tortoises are really big. Their size completely surprised me. We did some more sightseeing before we left for lunch.

Monday 28 March, we took our Brazilian friends for a sail on our boat. There was not much wind, but still we had a wonderful time with Gabriel, Fabio and Thobias. It was nice to have the young men onboard and I missed Morgan even more. As all young guys, they were full of energy so Dinis suggested that they go up the mast while we were motoring. What a thrill for them, on goes the safety harness and up they go. Tobias went first with his camera and took some lovely photos from the top, next was Fabio and then Gabriel. Dinis cooked a special Bacalhau dish for us all. All the sailing photos are curtesy of Thobias.

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Galapagos

Posted 25 March 2011

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is the capital of the province of Galapagos, it is characterized by its devoted people and it is mainly fishing and tourism activities that have come to develop, in a sustainable way, the environment. The highlands of San Cristobal have many farms and cattle ranches.

On this island there was a fishing company called 'The Land' which had its flowering for the years 1952 - 1960. In addition a large successful sugar mill was installed and led by Manuel J. Cobos.

Since a hundred years ago San Cristobal island has always been inhabited, it is mainly because of its many sources of fresh water, located in the mountains inside the island. At an altitude of 650 meters a freshwater lake in the crater of El Junco can be found. This lake is filled during the rainy season and the crater walls do not leak. Many frigate birds use this water to clean their feathers of the salt.

Interpretation Center, Galapagos National Park

Posted 23 March 2011

We visited the Interpretation Center of Galapagos National Park yesterday. It is located at the northern edge of town. It is composed of three independent buildings connected by walk ways. Presents exhibition halls and conference rooms, natural history that explains the origin of the islands, human history that describes the presence of man since the discovery of the Galapagos Conservation and lounge showing interest in protecting and conserving the environment. It also has some trails that can be traversed without a guide, an outdoor auditorium available, some scale models of boats and a map in high relief of the islands.

We loved this place, very clean and friendly. On the trails we saw lots of geckos, small birds, sea lions, firgard birds, pelicans, an iguana, insects and spiders. The spiders make their webbing between trees, and some over the walkway. We walked into a few spider webs and then kept our hats on.

On the malecon we saw lots of sea lions, a children's play park full of sea lions, they come as close as about 1 meter of the roads as well. There is a tidal sea pool that the local kids enjoy swimming, as do the baby sea lions. Quite interesting that human and animal shares the same pool without incident. Adult sea lions kept to one side of the pool while the baby sea lions swam.

We arrived in Galapagos

Posted 21 March 2011

We arrived !! We made it in 5 and half days. We had a great day sailing and also had a small celebration crossing the equator. I had the camera ready to capture the changing from North to South, but was too slow and only manage to capture 00 degrees 00.0018 minutes South. So we are officially in the southern hemisphere. Dinis was on the ham radio talking to our friend Stephen in Gautemala. Afterwards Dinis gave a toast and a healthy shot of rum to King Neptune.

We drop anchor at 19:00 local time in the dark in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Isla San Cristobal, Galapagos. Not too difficult bay at night, but we kept to the entrance of the bay for the night. We might re-anchor tomorrow during daylight.

On route to Galapagos - Day 5

Posted 21 March 2011

Sunday 20 March was a continuation from the previous day, the same weather conditions. At least yesterday both Dinis and myself were feeling more energetic. Beating into the weather, although the seas are not big (about 3 feet swell) is very tiring. The wind changed during the night to a SE direction. This was exactly what we were waiting for, as we were about 10 degrees off course and can now sail more directly. We have done 138 nm in the last 24 hours and have another 82 nm left. At times we had 2 knots of current with us.
Please join us for a mid-morning toast today, we will pass the equator. We we should reach Isla San Cristobal later today. We are hoping for a day time arrival, but that might not be possible. That will make the trip 5 and half days.

On route to Galapagos - Day 4

Posted 20 March 2011

Today, Saturday 19 March was one of the best sailing days so far. The wind changed blowing from the South 10 to 14 knots. This is great and we also have at least 1 knot of current with us. We did a 115 nm in the last 24 hours, still 220 nm left to Isla San Cristobal. We saw no traffic all day and night, making for a long and boring 24 hours. We did pass the halfway point around lunch time, I tried to make a cheese pan bread for celebration, but it was not my best. Both Dinis and myself were feeling lethargic and Dinis was suffering from a headache as well, I assume it is from the heat. In the late afternoon we got another 2 booby bird hitch hikers. They stayed the night on the pulpit. Now we can really call it the poop deck.

On route to Galapagos - Day 3

Posted 19 March 2011

The third day was full of surprises. Our stowaway juvenile booby bird left early this morning, I assume that Isla Del Coco was close enough to fly to. At that time we were about 130 nm south east of the island. We are still steaming along under engine, but had at least a few hours of sailing. We saw lots of dolphins today, they swam around us for at least an hour. I took lots of little video clips. In the afternoon our fun started, we had lots of squalls, not much wind, the max we saw was 16 knots, but the rain was very heavy. It came down in buckets. Both Dinis and myself got drenched, was quite refreshing after all the heat. The wind was all over the place during the squalls, so after trying to keep the boat sailing during the squalls we gave up and furled the genoa and drop the main, as we had to constantly jibe. The squalls left us with confused seas and very light winds. We have about 1 knot current with us which is great. It was a rolly night.

On route to Galapagos - Day 2

Posted 18 March 2011

The second day was uneventful except that we still have our hitch hiker on board. It is amazing that the bird sits on the pulpit all this time, without moving.
During the day it is very hot inside, maximum temperature reached was 35 degrees Celsius. Luckily we run the water maker at least every other day, as nothing cools you down like a cold, or rather warmish shower. The temperature of the ocean water is 27 degrees Celsius and the colour is a beautiful turquoise.

Finally last night we started the engine and motor sail. The wind dropped below 5 knots and at times we were not moving at all. We had a very clear evening and the nearly full moon lights the ocean so that everything is quite visible. We saw no traffic.

Good news for all the people that send a QSL card to our address in Canada. We have received an email from our son Morgan with all the call signs and names, so Dinis will send his QSL card to all after we cleared into Galapagos. Please also note that we gave up on forwarding our mail, as the process took too long and was too complicated. Since we started our trip in July 2010, we did not manage to get our mail forwarded.

On route to Galapagos - Day 1

Posted 17 March 2011

At 07:30 am this morning were our first 24 hours. We did 116 nm on a very pleasant trip. The wind is from SW between 7 to 10 with the occasional 12 knots. Although we are on the beat the sailing is great, not much heel. We are able to sail a straight course to Galapagos 215 degrees true with our speed over ground 4 to 5 knots. We have another 570 nm to go and if the wind continue like this we should arrive in 6 days time. We saw quite a bit of commercial traffic during the night.

I managed to bake bread and roast a whole bunch of garlic at the same time. This morning on Dinis watch he saw that we have a juvenile booby bird catching a ride with us. Not sure how long the bird will stay. We put some water, but the bird did not respond to the water as yet. We caught 3 fishes, but no keepers. The first fish managed to get away, the second was a skipjack, which we released back and the last fish was eaten and we only pull out the head.

We are quite tired as is normal for the first couple of days.

Clearing out in Golfito, Costa Rica

Posted 16 March 2011

We had an absolute fantastic time at Fishhook Marina. Management at the marina is doing a great job, friendly staff are always willing to lent a hand. The food are very good, every meal on the menu tasted great. We worked very hard getting the boat ready for our trip to Galapagos. All the standing rig was washed and inspected, the bilges washed and tested, Dinis fixed the little problem we had with the wind vane, the boat, the sails and all the canvas were washed. Dinis dived again to clean the bottom of the boat and also the propeller. We spend a little more time than what we anticipated, but with the heat there was no other way. We had little time to explore Golfito, but the town was clean and we had a warm feeling from the people.

Yesterday, Tuesday 15 March we took the bus to Paso Canoas to do our big provisioning. It was a very interesting trip and very busy. The shops are on the border between Costa Rica and Panama. Entering a shop from the front you are in Costa Rica, exiting at the back door you are in Panama. We ended up buying all our provisioning from City Mall in Panama. What a beautiful shop and it has air conditioning. We especially stock up on tin green vegetables as our trip from Galapagos to the Marquesas will be about 25 to 32 days.

While we were shopping the marina took care of our International Zarpe, getting our passports stamped and paying the exit duties. This was a great service they did, as we heard other cruisers doing the clearing out by themselves having quite a hard time. We were extremely happy for this service, as this was the easiest checking out by far and coming in second was clearing out in El Salvador at Barrillas Marina. We were very impressed with the professionalism of Lidia Galimany, the General Manager, and her staff. Anybody that want to get information can visit the marina web page at or email

We also met great fellow cruisers and fishermen at the marina. We also met up with our friends Janet and John from s/v Wanderlust. They arrived a few days after we did in Golfito. We were very fortunate to meet Rosemary and her son David, unfortunately her husband was away for work during our stay at the marina. They are the proud owners of the world famous 1928 Staysail Schooner NINA since 1988. NINA became famous in the 1928 race from New York to Santander, Spain, for which she was expressly built. She won the 3900 mile race in 24 days and was greeted by King Alfonso from his launch.

We left the marina yesterday to fuel up and drop anchor for the night. This morning we left Golfito at 07:30 am local time. We have 707 nm mile to go and there are not much wind forecast for today. We will continue motoring at a low rpm and I will do another weather report to see if the wind will improve. For now we will do a straight course towards Isla San Cristobal, in Galapagos. We have a small current in our favour.

I will do a position report every morning so you can follow our progress across the ocean.

Not impacted by Tsunami

Posted 11 March 2011

Just to let everyone know that Golfito was not impacted by the Tsunami at all. Everyone at the marina were monitoring the situation very closely, but we did not have any swell or sign of any abnormal tides.

Golfito, Costa Rica

Posted 10 March 2011

We left Isla Del Cano at 02:45 am and had no wind, so motoring it was. We had the current against us for about 3 hours and then it improved. We got wind when we were turning into Dulce Golf and were sailing nicely downwind. We arrived just after 4 pm in the afternoon in a beautiful Golfito.  We had our first rain since we left Vancouver just after we anchored. This was great cooled the boat down a bit. It is extremely hot and even with the fans going full speed the average temperature during the day is between 32 and 35 degrees Celsius inside the boat.

We are currently at Fish Hook marina doing some work on the boat. Today was the big washing the boat day. Dinis washed all the standing rig. Took all morning and in the afternoon we vinegar washed the boat and soap washed all the canvas.

Tomorrow we have to wash all the sails and the rest of the boat. We decided that we will get somebody at the marina to do the polishing, just not enough energy left. Where is 'Morgie' now ? Dinis will do another bottom cleaning just before we go.

We decided that we will do all our major provisioning from here. The Panama border is just 35 miles and they have nice shops at the border. This will save us at least 2 days going there by boat and do the shopping. The prices of grocceries are just much cheaper in Panama. We will check out the next weather window to make our way to Galapagos. Will take us between 7 to 12 days to get there. We hope to leave here around 15 March, depending on weather.

Isla Del Cano, Costa Rica

Posted 7 March 2011

Costa Rica has a much more beautiful coastline so far. It is more rugged and lots of reefs. More of a lush vegetation. We stayed an extra day in Bahia Tamarindo. Our friends from s/v Wanderlust arrived on Thursday and drop anchor close by. We were both heading out the next day, Wanderlust to Bahia Samara and us to Bahia Carrillo, which is the next bay.

We left Friday morning 4 March under light winds, but soon it was gusting 25 to 28 knots. We had the staysail up and 2 reefs in the main, doing good speed. By midday the offshore wind changed to onshore and we had a beautiful beam reach sail for most of the way in moderate winds.

We drop anchor around 5 pm in a very beautiful bay. It was rolly during the night, but not enough to cause sleeplessness. We got up early Saturday morning 5 March for our overnight sail to Isla Del Cano, 110 nm south east. We had little wind but towards Cabo Blanco the wind picked up and we had good sailing for 3 hours although it was on the nose and we had to tack back and forth just to make headway. After we pass Cabo Blanco the wind direction changed in our favour and we were on a close haul all the way. The wind drop towards evening and we motorsail.

Isla Del Cano is a small Biological Reserve. It used to be an ancient cemetery. Archeologists have uncovered pottery, carved stone artifacts and highly precise stone spheres typical of the Diquis. These artifacts date back to 200 to 800 BC. Most of the archeology artifacts were destroy by an American businessman that wanted to make the island a casino. The Costa Rican government interfered in time and stopped the project and declare the island a biological reserve.

This island is famous for divers. It has clear water, tropical fish and non-aggressive reef sharks. The visibility can range from 50' to 100' or more. This island has Costa Rica's largest coral building organisms in the Pacific.

This morning we went for a hike on the island sightseeing and also to see the small archeological site. The forest is just beautiful, the trees must be thousand of years old. Very tropical with lots of ferns and plants. The leaves from the trees and plants are very thick under foot and the trees roots are all over, making walking quite difficult. We heard lots of birds, but did not see any.

After our hike we went back to the boat, got something to eat and got our snorkel gear. We were hoping to see some sharks or manta rays but no luck. We did see lots of fish and it was great snorkeling between the reefs.

We would like to stay some more time here, but unfortunately we have to get to Golfito. We are leaving around 3 am tomorrow morning, Tuesday 8 March, as it would take us about 14 hours. We need to get ready for our trip to the north of Panama for a major provisioning, before we leave for Galapagos and Marqueses, hopefully by mid-March.

We will upload our photos of Costa Rica when we have internet again.

Playa Del Coco, Costa Rica

Posted 2 March 2011

We left San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, early Friday morning 25 February. This was the first break in the Papagayo winds and we wanted to make the 60 nm miles to Costa Rica as soon as possible. We motored all the way with 4 to 6 knots of wind from the back. We dropped anchor around 4:30 pm on Friday afternoon. We tried to contact the Port Captain to check into the country, but there was no reply, most probably they have closed for the weekend.

Playa Del Coco is a beautiful bay with a long sandy beach and not much swell. There was quite a few sailboats and local fishing boats anchored in the bay. We went to bed rather early.

The next morning Dinis and myself got the hooka system ready so that we can clean the bottom of the boat and also changing the zincs. One zinc was totally gone, two was nearly gone and the 4th zinc OK. The last time we changed the zincs we were in Ensenada, Mexico. So it lasted about 4 months. Dinis changed the 3 zincs and then spend about 2 hours underwater cleaning the bottom of the boat on the port side. I was cleaning the bootstrap. The water was very clear and warm, very enjoyable. Dinis developed a blister on his second last toe on each foot from the fins.

Later during the day our friends Janet and John from S/V Wanderlust arrived. They also left San Juan Del Sur on Friday morning, but spend Friday night at Bahia Santa Elena.

On Sunday we continued cleaning the starboard side. It seems to be going much faster this time around. After lunch we put the dinghy in the water, put the engine on and went for a little ride in the bay.

We arranged with Janet and John that we will pick them up on Monday morning, so that we all can go to the Port Captain for check-in. We arrived just after 8 am at the Port Captain's office and the Port Captain gave us all the info what to do and where to go. So it seemed easy enough, so off we went to make some photocopies of our documents and then off the bank to withdraw money. The first bank we were not successful, so off to the next bank where we were successful getting money. The next stop was immigration. The lady immigration officer gave us forms to fill out. She then informed us to return after 11 am as the electricity is down and nothing can be done until then.

It is hot, no breeze, so we decided to get something cold and something to eat while we wait. We arrived at around 11:30 back at immigration and got all the papers signed and our passports stamped. Now we went to go to the bank to deposit the money for check-in before we are to return to the Port Captain with the receipts and be in time for the Inspection officer at 1 pm. This is were the whole check-in fell apart. We were all lucky that Dinis could speak Spanish (or as he likes to call it 'Portanol', as Portuguese is very similar to Spanish). At the bank after we stood in line for some time, Dinis asked one of the bank personnel if we are standing in the correct line for depositing the money. He told us no, we should speak to one of the staff members in a different area, so we went and stood in another line. At least this line was not too long so we were happy. The lady told Dinis that she have never seen this and that the Port Captain must be mistaken. We have to go back and speak to him again. Dinis got her name and phone number and so we went back to the Port Captain, just to be told that the lady at the bank is wrong and we need to go back. At least the Port Captain phoned her and confirmed that we should go back and do the deposit. Back at the bank we got back into the original line, which was now twice as long, will be more than 1 hours wait. We will miss the Inspection officer, so we decided that Dinis will go to another bank and try to deposit the money there, John will go back to the Port Captain's office to wait for the Inspection officer and Janice and myself will stay in line, incase Dinis was not successful.

After 1 pm Janet and myself were getting worried as we did not hear from Dinis as yet, so we decided that I will go to the other bank to check on Dinis. When I arrive there he was second in line, in the mean time John had trouble as the Inspection officer had a schedule and wanted to go. He asked the officer if by all possible for them to go and check on Dinis and the rest of us, which he graciously agreed to do. By the time John and the Inspection officer arrived at the bank Dinis was successful with the deposit for both boats. Our luck was turning as when the Inspection officer saw the receipts the bank lady gave for the deposit, he mentioned that these were the wrong receipts. So the bank lady redid the receipts. Whow.. that saved us another trip to the bank.

Finally all done and Janet and myself stayed behind at the Port Captain's office while Dinis, John and the Inspection officer went with the dinghy to the boats for his inspection. It was quite a while before they came back, but at least the inspections went well for both boats. We waited a little longer for the paperwork and finally after about 3 pm. this part of the check-in was done. There was not enough time left to take the bus to Liberia (about 35 minutes by bus) for the customs, as they close by 4 pm. We all decided that it can wait until the next day and we went to the boat and had a drink.

On Tuesday morning Janet and myself decided that the men can go to Liberia and that we will do the groceries and some internet. Janice and myself did the groceries and we manage to launch the dinghy by ourselves without any incident and went to drop the groceries at the boats. We also manage a successful beach landing. Our average just went up, but I must admit that there was not much of any wave action. We went to a local hotel/restaurant for the internet. Dinis and John had a very successful customs experience, which was great. They went back to the Port Captain afterwards for the final paperwork and also to get our National Zarpe. So we ended the check-in at around 1 pm. Nearly 2 days...this was by far the worst and time consuming check-in.

We had lunch and then went for a walk in town sightseeing. Very friendly and warm people. We went back to the boat to prepare everything as we are leaving the next morning. John and Janice came over for a potluck supper. We had a great time.

We left this morning Wednesday 2 March for Bahia Tamarindo, which is 27 nm south of Playa Del Coco. We had a great sail, the winds was gusty at times and we had 2 reefs in the main and the genoa was furled to about 100%. Our wind vane was not keeping the boat on course, but we could not find anything wrong with it. It was most probably too much sail and not nicely trimmed. We will try it again tomorrow as we planned to go another 48 nm to Bahia Carrillo.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Posted 23 February 2011

This time of year the papagayos blow constantly. Very seldom we see winds less than 20 knots. We wanted to get going so we decided that we will leave as soon as the winds drop in a 20 to 25 knot range. This will still be a fast and into the wind sail, but much better than dealing with a 30 knot wind range.

On Saturday morning 19 February the winds were more favourable and we left El Astillero for San Juan Del Sur. We kept close to shore to sail in calmer seas. Dinis had a blast, he enjoys more heavy weather sailing than I do. I went inside and left him to do the sailing. We had 2 reefs in the main sail and the staysail up. At one stage the wind dropped a little and Dinis unfurled the genoa to about 3 reefs and then he dropped and tied the staysail down. We were doing a fast passage, doing about 5 to 6 knots over ground. At least the heeling was not as bad this time around.

We could have done a faster passage if the bottom of the boat was clean. It is amazing how fast marine life accumulates. As soon as we get into calmer waters we have to do a cleanup and also change the zincs. The last time we cleaned the bottom was in Hualtulco, Mexico. We found that it needs cleaning about every 10 days. We use an ablative bottom paint and it works basically as the boat moves through the water it removes the paint slowing, thus preventing marine growth.

We drop anchor in San Juan Del Sur around 6 pm local time. San Juan Del Sur is a bigger town that caters more for the tourist. There is a surfing feeling to the town. We went ashore using the water taxi, much easier than doing a dinghy landing in the surf. We explore the town and find out where there is a laundry as I had some laundry to do.

We went to the market the next day after we dropped the laundry off. Very little at the market as far as fresh provisioning. We bought some tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges and a huge papaya. We were told there is a little grocery store about 2 miles up the road. We will visit the grocery store the next day. We had fun getting a bit of fresh produce and getting the laundry done.

On our way back to the boat we stopped at the Port Captain's office for our check-in. Everything went well, except that we were missing our port-to-port Zarpe that the officials in Corinto were suppose to give us. In Nicaragua things are slightly different as far as these Zarpes are concern. Usually when you leave one country for the next, the officials will give you a international Zarpe when you check-out of the country. This international Zarpe is needed at check-in in the next country. Then you can sail within that country and just check-in via VHF from port to port. At the last port before the next country you will be issued with an international Zarpe for the next country. In Nicaragua they suppose to issue you a port-to-port zarpe, which cost $10 each time. So what can we do, we were missing this piece of paper. The Port Captain tried to contact Corinto but was unsuccessful. In the end he let it go, so we will go to the Port Captain's office again this coming Friday to check-out. Hopefully it will be smoother and less stressful this time around. We are planning to set sail on Saturday morning 26 February for Costa Rica.

Corinto, El Astillero - Nicaragua

Posted 20 February 2011

We left Barillas Marina on Wednesday morning 9 February with S/V Maja following the pilot boat. We had one of our best sailing days when we left. Our initial plan was to anchor off the bay in Golf of Fonseca, but with the good winds we decided to continue on towards Corinto in Nicaragua. We arrived at 4 am the next morning and drop anchor in the bay next to the harbour waiting for daylight.

Mid-morning we made our way into Corinto harbour and anchor off the Diesel Gas Power Plant. After Dinis contacted the Port Captain for us to clear into the country, he put the dinghy into the water so that he could go ashore with all the paper work. Dinis was ashore for about 3 hours running over town getting everything sorted out. Corinto town is very small and very poor, but the people is very friendly and helpful, except for one official that wanted a bribe from Dinis. Fortunately he did not give in as this will not help.

We spend a few days anchored up the estuary between mangroves. We were the only boat in the anchorage. We did some exploring, had a drink at one of the local restaurants. We were looking into leaving the boat and made an inland trip to Managua, but did not feel comfortable leaving the boat there.

We checked the weather to make our way to San Juan Del Sur, which will be a overnight trip. On Monday mid-morning 14 February we left Corinto for San Juan Del Sur. We had great winds, but it was on the nose. We decided to head into the sea going in a south western direction for about 2 hours and then tack back so that we can go in a more eastern direction. We were doing well for the rest of the day and night, was about 8 nm offshore the coastline. On Tuesday morning Dinis had his QSO's with the net and with Steve from Guatemala. He was feeling a bit queasy from talking on the radio and laid down for a rest.

It is Murphy's law, as soon as he laid down, the wind started to pipe up. We put 3 reefs in the main and furled the genoa to just a small sail. The seas had build as well and pushed us more offshore. The sea swells were close together and steep. We were on a close hull beating into weather with a 30 degree angle, at times 35 degrees. This was very uncomfortable. The winds was blowing about 27 knots gusting 30 to 32 knots. Although it was uncomfortable and were we tired, the boat was balance and we continued, hoping that the wind will slow down a bit closer to San Juan Del Sur. Our hopes were crushed as the winds did not calm down and we had to make a decision as to tack so that we can get closer to land and head for El Astillero (25 nm north of San Juan Del Sur) or continue on and arrive in the dark under strong wind conditions in San Juan Del Sur. We decided that under these conditions it is better to arrive during day time, so we tack and head backwards 12 nm towards El Astillero.

We drop anchor at 16:30 local time on Tuesday 15 February. Both of us very tired. We did not eat much during the day and made some food and jump in bed. This was our worst sailing conditions since our trip started. We got the front end of the famous Papagayo winds. We were anchored until Saturday February 19 waiting for the winds to calm down a bit. We did see 36 knots at anchor. With the winds blowing in a NE direction at least it keeps the boat into the swell and we were quite comfortable at anchor.

On Thursday 17 February Dinis spoke to one of the fishing pangas and they took us to shore. With the big surf we did not want to attempt the ride with the dinghy. We had a pleasant day at the fishing village exploring. Dinis bought some fish from the local fishermen as well. Later in the afternoon the fishing panga took us back. This was a good outing breaking the waiting spell.

Every single evening we had red skies, the saying 'Red sky at night is a sailor's delight' came to mind but we only had near gale conditions during the days.

Papagayo Winds

Posted 20 February 2011

Apologies to all our friends and family as the blog is not up to date as yet, I do keep 'Our Current Position' up to date by doing a position report as soon as we drop the anchor or every 24 hours if on a longer sail. We are currently in San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua, arrived yesterday afternoon 19 February. That trip will be another posting.

I would just like to explain the terminology 'Papagayo' Winds. The Spanish word papagayo means parrot. Sailors adopted this term from the strong winds that blow in the Gulf of Papagayo in Costa Rica, but since these gap winds are not limited to the Gulf itself, papagayos have come to represent the gap winds in southern Nicaragua and northern Costa Rica. The driving force for these winds is the Caribbean Trade Wind pouring over the narrow and low land and into the Pacific. The Papagayo winds can be felt as far north as Guatemala and as far south as Panama.

Antigua, Guatemala

Posted 17 February 2010

We arrived late in the evening in Antigua and the first 2 hotels that we wanted to check in, were fully booked. We did find a spot at Hotel Casa Rustica. This Hotel turned out to be pretty good for a very reasonable price. It is 1 block from the centre of town and have great facilities. It caters more for the budget conscience traveler which were great with us. The hotel also have kitchen facilities where you can prepare your own meals if so prefer.

Antigua is a beautiful city, very clean and the volcanic mountains very closed by. The architecture is Spanish colonial and the roads are pebbled. The roads are sloping down towards the middle of the road, which was constructed that way to help the flow of water when it rain.

The first day we spend at the coffee plantation. This was very interesting as both Dinis and myself love coffee. Genuine Antigua, Cafe Azotea, are planted at an altitude of 5000 feet, under a canopy of shade tees. The coffee are Arabica coffee beans that are ripen slowly to bring out their rich and complex flavor. Also the coffee is roasted on the plantation and sealed, still hot, in bags with a one way valve to preserve the freshness. The tour included coffee tasting and we ended up buying 2 bags of coffee.

At the coffee plantation they also had a museum of Mayan culture involving music, music instruments, religion, clothing and gastronomy. This was very informative and the Mayan lady that gave the tour did a fantastic job. It is amazing that the Mayan people still speak the language of their ancestors on a daily basis.

The next day we went exploring the city, ruins and parks. Just a feeling of peace about the city. We took lots of pictures. In the afternoons they have some events in the centre of town. We listen to a local orchestra which kept their audience attention. What lovely music, a person just got rooted to a spot until they finished. After all the walking we spend the evening in the hotel after a lovely dinner at a restaurant.

The next day we were on our way to see another historic building when Dinis was bitten by a 'Rattlesnake'. Now, no need for alarm it was the very talented music group 'Sol Latino' and the famous song 'Cascavel', which translate to rattlesnake. Again a person just could not help but be riveted to a spot and listen. We enjoyed it so much that we followed the group for their live music at 'La Pena de Sol Latino Restaurant'. We had a fabulous night of dining and listening to the Andean music.

We bought a CD and asked the leader of the group 'Paco' if we are allowed to post the videos we took of them performing at the park during the day on our blog. With his consent we posted the famous 'Cascavel' video and also another video that unfortunately I do not know the song's title. Anybody interested in 'Sol Latino' music can contact Paco at

The next morning is was time for us to head back to Guatemala City for our bus ride back to El Salvador. We had an uneventful trip back and again was lucky enough to occupy the front seats of the double deck bus. We were picked up in the evening in San Salvador by a taxi that was arranged by the Hotel Myers House B & B. Again we were spoiled at the B & B with a great supper and lovely company of Donna Patricia.

The next morning we said our good byes and did a big shopping in San Salvador and took a taxi back to Barillas Marina. We were the only boat in Barillas Marina when we left, but on our arrival back there were 4 more boats. Most of us were checking the weather for the next leg of our travels and it was decided to have a cruisers farewell at the restaurant that evening. We had a great time and the next morning (9 February 2011) S/V Maja and ourselves left following the pilot boat out to the ocean.

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Posted 15 February 2011

We took a double deck bus to Guatemala city and it proved to be a good choice of transport, as it was very comfortable and because we occupied the front seats on top, it was very scenic as well. As we traveled, it was shocking to see the amount of garbage disposed on both sides of the road on both sides of the border.

Arriving in Guatemala City from the mountains, the view convey an impression of a large, cosmopolitan and rich capital. On arrival at the Holiday Inn we were greeted by Steve Wheelock, TG9AWS, a ham radio that I was introduced on the air by Phil, HK3SA, from Bogota, Columbia, the Net Controller for the Spider Web Net, that runs every morning on the frequency 14347 Mhz between 12:30 and 13:30 UTC. This is a fun net to participate and I will try to be regular as possible. The other important radio schedule that I have is on the same frequency at 00:30 UTC with Peter W6DEI from San Francisco, which follow boats from Canada all the way to South Pacific.

After picking up our baggage, Steve took us to his house, where we met his family, Rosanna his wife and Stephnie his daughter. Also precent was Stephnie's friend and Juan Munoz, TG9AJR, that came to meet us. After having a glass of wine, lunch was announced to our surprise and delight. Steve and Rosanna really made us welcome into their beautiful home. Class and good taste were words that came into my mind. Steve and Rosanna, Thank You very much for being such gracious hosts. After lunch we drove around the city and visited downtown which was very neat.

The next morning we took a mini van to Chichicastenango to see the market, the biggest open market in the world, so it is claimed. The mountain driving was fast albeit safe. It was a interesting experience, but a bit tiring, as stall after stall sell basically the same products and everyone press selling. We only bought a small mask as a souvenir. On a interesting note, we learned that the Catholic Church allowed up to this day that services and worships to be conducted in both European and Mayan languages.

We left the market around 1 pm for Panajachel. It was a beautiful drive to the lake. When we arrived at Panajachel we went to explore the town, but again the main street was stall after stall with the same products as in the market. We had a great lunch at a local restaurant. Unfortunately Veronica forgot to plug in the camera battery the previous night and we could not take more pictures, although we did get some nice pictures of the lake. We were debating to overnight in Panajachel, or just continue on with the rest of the group going back to Guatemala City and then Antigua. So Antigua won the battle and we left around 5:30 pm.

We know that we missed the best part Panajachel, which was visiting the small villages around the lake, maybe next time.

San Salvador, El Salvador

Posted 7 February 2011

We decided against renting a car. It was recommended by ham friends from the Spider Web Net that we take public transport. There are some pretty good luxury bus services from San Salvador to Guatemala and in Guatemala there are lots of mini vans transporting people between cities at very good prices. We also discovered that a rental car needs a permit outside the country.

Mr. Heriberto Pineda from the marina recommended that we stay at Hotel Myers' House B&B in San Salvador. It is not recommended to stay in San Salvador downtown area, especially during night time. Our bus to Guatemala was only leaving the following morning, so we decided this a good idea. The B&B arranged for us to be picked at the bus depot, where we were warmly greeted by Nelson Lucero the Assistant Manager of Hotel Myers' House.

We really enjoyed our stay, met Donna Patricia, the owner of the hotel. The B&B is on the west side of San Salvador with the Presidential Residence 1 block away. The B&B has beautiful furniture, comfortable rooms, lounge areas and a lovely back garden.

We enjoyed a lovely meal after we arrived for a very good price. We went for a walk in the neighbor hood and it reminded us very much of South Africa, most houses are fenced with barbwire, electric gate and armed guards.

Our bus left at 7 am the next morning, but we had to be there at 6 am. We were woken up 5 am so that we can get packed and had a lovely breakfast. We said our good byes to Donna Patricia and her lovely staff and Nelson took us to the Sheraton Hotel where the bus departs from.