Voyager is in the Philippines. It's really different than the Pacific Islands. Pacific culture is gone & has been replaced by the pandamonium on the streets of an over-populated S.E. Asian culture.
We're curently located in Puerto Galera on Mindoro Island. See the webcam at http://www.pgyc.org/qbewebcam.html Voyager is the 2nd or 3rd yacht from the left with the shade tree awnings. we'll be here for another week or so then we'll slowly head south down Palawan Island.
Well, Galatea is still in her winter outfit. The engine is in pieces scatterd all over the cabin and I'm in the middle looking like a grease-monkey. No sailing yet. It's always thay little hard-to-get-to part that breaks down.
I also decided to do a scuba diving course just in case something breaks down under water. And now I'm hooked. I go diving whenever I can. I hope everone is well and congratulate Wanderlust with it's new owners (should I say 'staff'?)
this is my first official post as the new owner of Wanderlust V - we took possession of her last week and registered her with the Canadian Ship's Registry on June 30, 2009.
Anyway, I digress....we are presently at our permanent slip right downtown in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We are right across False Creek from Granville Island if any of you are familiar with the area. We just watched another gorgeous sunset from the cockpit tonight....wow, you just have to love this lifestyle!
Although the boat is in good sailing condition, there is the ever-present hit list of stuff to do and refit so we will be busy over the next little while trying to squeeze as many of those items as possible into our budget. We'll keep you posted with the work as we complete it. Have a great summer (in the northern hemisphere anyway) everyone.
We just got back in after more than a week out aboard Wanderlust V. What a great boat! I am so pleased that she' finally ours. Sails great and all systems seem to work fine. Have to update all the blocks and some of the electronics, but at least she can be used as is.
Voyager has essentially departed the Pacific Ocean (depending on your geographic definition) bound for points west. After 9 years in the Pacific, we thought we should take some time to reflect on this significant milestone in our circumnavigation. This is one of those long cruiser logs we promised we’d never do, but this is a big milestone & we’ll try to keep it interesting. Those on our distribution list who have actually made the trip may find it doesn’t contain any info you didn’t already know, so we won’t feel slighted if you don’t take the time to read what is really just another cruising log.
First and foremost, the Pacific is big! I mean really, really big. Douglass Adams fans will know where this is going… The average crossing from island to island in the Pacific was around 600 nmi. That’s usually about 5 days not to mention 5 interminable nights of non-stop sailing or constant engine noise. These crossings are difficult for a sailing yacht with only 2 people aboard because somebody has to be awake & on-deck sailing the boat 24/7. Even then, the person off-watch gets little to no sleep due to the constant motion of the boat. It’s difficult to sleep & hang-on at the same time. Imagine living on a roller coaster for 5 days & nights. Sleeping, eating & even going to the bathroom are all challenging while at sea. On the other hand, the shear distances in the Pacific are what makes the islands & surrounding waters so isolated & untouched, so uniquely cultured & so beautiful. All said it was worth the trip.
As for sailing, open ocean crossings are special beasts. Starting with boat set-up to navigation to provisioning to the actual handling of the boat, this stuff is not for beginners (as we quickly discovered when we were beginners). I can’t begin to estimate the number of times I’ve had to go up on deck in the middle of the night & tie-in or shake-out a reef – often naked in a raging squall & totally exhausted. It wasn’t all bad though. Open-ocean in the mid-Pacific is a uniquely beautiful place (if you can call 50% of the planet’s surface unique). We’ve seen whales and the green flash and it just doesn’t get any better than eating sashimi that is still twitching. Then there are the land falls. Nothing on earth is more welcome than a safe anchorage after several days (and don’t forget those damned nights!) at sea. Getting the hook down in the lee of anything is finally a chance to rest & explore. And wow, is it ever worth exploring!
But before exploring – There is the small issue of the Customs & Immigration PUKES. No matter how many days you’ve been at sea & no matter how exhausted you are & no matter what storm is raging in the harbor, the Customs & Immigration pukes want to see you immediately upon arrival. No amount of logic applies here & I’m sure that all these pukes are hand-picked for their stupidity & tenacity & then all shipped-off to the same secret school to teach them how to be petty bureaucrats. Although I bitch a lot I always try to say at least something nice in each paragraph to balance-out the bitching. Not this time. Jerks, one-and-all! We quickly learned what facts & information to keep from them and how to answer their questions. Long story short, always tell them what they want to hear & don’t confuse them with facts.
So now that we have the generalities out of the way, let’s take a little tour of the Pacific. We left the Panama Canal in the spring of 2001 in the company of about 200 other boats (not all at once) including many good friends from the Caribbean and headed to the Galapagos Islands. At 800 nmi it was our first open-ocean multi-day crossing with just the 2 of us on-board. It went well with light winds & we motored a lot of it. The anchorages were all wide-open & rolly, but the landscapes were worth it. If you’ve never been to the Galapagos, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime requirement. Consider it Mecca for environmentalists. The highlight was riding horse back into a still mildly active volcano. For all we knew we could have been on the surface of Mars – it was wildly different than anything you can imagine.
Next came the big one – 2900 nmi from the Galapagos to the Marquises. It took us 23 days (and have I mentioned the nights?) and I believe we were actually getting used to the routine by the time we arrived. Along this crossing we met-up (radio wise) with another 100 yachts coming down from California & Mexico making the total crossing that year somewhere around 300 yachts. It was so crowded we had to coordinate the radio nets into waves depending on our position in the fleet.
The landfall into Fatu Hiva was very welcome after 23 days at sea. We entered after dark with the help of some of the fleet that was already there and woke-up the next morning in the most beautiful anchorage in the world. The bay is known as Penis Bay owing to the unbelievable volcanic spires sticking up out of the water. We tootled around the Marqueasis a bit more & then headed to the atolls of the Tuamoto Islands. The Tuamotos were our introduction to atoll sailing (with much more to follow later). Long story short, they were beautiful & the pearls were cheap.
We met-up with most of the fleet in Papeete, Tahiti. I’d guess there were 200 yachts there at the same time & it was great to see old friends & meet new ones. We followed a cruise ship into the harbor at Papeete because we arrived at dark:30. We anchored right next to what looked like a big rock concert about to start and lamented on the sleepless night we were going to get, but it turns-out it wasn’t a rock concert, it was the Miss Tahiti beauty pageant. Can’t beat that!! Papeete was basically just an average city of 200,000 but the surrounding areas, including the anchorage, were spectacular. The other Islands of the French Societies were also beautiful, especially Bora Bora.
From Bora Bora we island-hopped westward. Suvorav Island, 600 nmi west of Bora Bora & 600 nmi east of American Samoa deserves special mention. This medium-sized atoll in the middle of nowhere is a national park in the Cook Islands. The only occupants are the 2 park rangers & it was really beautiful. On 9/11/2001, we were 300 nmi east of American Samoa & first heard the news when one of the yachts on the radio net read a text version to the fleet. We could hardly believe it & it was 3 days later when we finally arrived in American Samoa that we saw our first images of the events. After this area, 299 yachts of the fleet went west toward Australia or New Zealand while only Voyager turned north and headed up the Gilbert chain thru Tuvalu & Kiribati on our way to the Marshall Islands. The Gilberts also deserve special mention as the atolls were beautiful and the WW II history was literally lying on the beaches to be discovered.
The Gilbert, Marshall & Caroline Island chains which constitute Micronesia are our favorite places so far. People always ask us this question & we’ve decided the best all-around answer is “Micronesia”. The atolls are idyllic, beautiful, calm, easy & richly cultured & each one seems better than the last. This is where we stopped in Kwajalein atoll & took jobs for a total of 5 years during 2 different tours. We stayed for 2 years (on the 1st tour), while we hauled Voyager & made several big mods (hard top, enlarged prop aperture, all new paint) plus a zillion smaller mods & fixes. The Kwaj community was super-special & I can absolutely guarantee that if we ever have to take jobs again, Kwaj will be the 1st place we look. It was beautiful, interesting, had a great community, provided for a good place to work on Voyager & it paid well. But after a couple of years we felt the need to move-on so we left, never intending to return.
We headed south with the intent of going to Fiji which we missed the 1st time we were in the South Pacific. Fiji’s longitude is slightly east of Kwajalein’s and we found it very difficult to claw our way to windward and by the time we got to Tarawa, Kiribati we changed our minds & turned-off a bit further off the wind & went to Vanuatu. In hind-sight, by the time we were in Tarawa we had it whipped & could have easily made Fiji, but we don’t regret going to Vanuatu at all. It is one of our favorite places complete with stone-age land-tower diving & active volcanoes. It’s not every day you can hang 10 over the rim of an active volcano & watch the lava spew high overhead. Loved it!
Our secondary targets (beyond Fiji) were New Zealand and Australia and then we planned on passing into the Indian Ocean south of Papua New Guinea. However, it quickly became obvious that N.Z & Oz quarantine restrictions on our 2 cats were going to be logistically restrictive & prohibitively expensive, not to mention traumatic on the cats, so we decided to change course & pass north of PNG. So, from Vanuatu we sailed up the entire length of the Solomon Islands (more WW II history) and the off-shore Islands of PNG. We left PNG with the intent of sailing to Palau (yes, the same Palau where we were just 6 months ago) but the unheard of west winds set-in complete with 50 kt squalls, one of which broke our steering system. Once we figured out how to steer the boat with no steering system we re-set our eyes on a target a bit further down wind (considering to the heretofore unheard of west winds) and sailed into Chuuk in the Caroline islands. That’s when Kwaj called & dangled some good Project Management jobs in front of us so we decided to return for our 2nd tour. By then, of course, the winds had returned to their normal trade wind conditions so we motor sailed 1500 nmi into 20 -25 kt headwinds & white caps. This was further exasperated by the fact that we were in the equatorial counter current so the waves were even bigger than normal. It was miserable, but it was miserable at 6 kts so we made good headway.
Back at Kwaj for a 2nd tour, another long haul-out period & good times were had by all. Then in March 2008, we headed west out the Caroline Islands. The Islands west of Chuuk & east of Yap are the highlight of the entire cruise. These far-flung atolls are spectacular, but it was the near stone-age culture that really made them stand-out. The girls all go topless & the men spend their days making canoes & drinking their rock-gut fermented coconut liquor called tuba. If you are ever offered tuba, do yourself a favor and suddenly give-up drinking. We were invited to watch the high school girls practice their stick dancing in preparation for the local high school graduation. Watching 30 high school girls dancing topless is something I (Rick) will never forget. “Do you know how much I’d have to pay for that back in the States”?
After Yap, we sailed to Palau – yes, the same Palau we set-out for 4 years earlier. Palau is another one of those extra beautiful must-see spots. It’s also relatively safe from typhoons so we backed-into the most beautiful little anchorage you ever saw & didn’t move for 9 months. You probably remember the pictures.
Well, that pretty much sums-up the Pacific. The next leg of our journey has taken us into the Philippine & South China seas & it is completely different than the Pacific. We already miss those idyllic atolls, turquoise waters, & the laid-back lifestyle of the Pacific Islanders. It couldn’t last forever though & who knows, maybe we’ll find someplace we like even more out west.