The quest for spares continues….

Saturday morning we sat on Morphie watching the mud getting deeper and deeper around the boatyard.   Usually it comes to a halt over Le Weekend but Vincent and the guys were around as they had to haul another boat so the captain could get home to New Zealand for a family emergency.   As a result we had to be moved off the trailer and onto chocks which meant leaving the concrete hard behind…..sigh.    

Anyway we got off the boat and they manoeuvred the tractor.    We watched it slipping and sliding away and heaved a great sigh of relief when Morphie was finally in position and secured in place along with a new view from the cockpit.

As the trailer pulled away, though, we noticed that there was a chunk of gel coat missing from Morphie’s leading edge – all the way through to the fibreglass – but, thankfully, the fibreglass itself was undamaged.  This had obviously happened when we had been hauled.   Great….can anything else go wrong this season?

We told Vincent about the damage and, of course, he agreed to repair it free of charge.  At least we spotted it – had we splashed direct from the cradle on Friday as originally planned – then we could have had a problem with water being able to get in between the gelcoat and the fibreglass.  So staying put had actually done us a favour in a weird kind of way.

By now our water was running low with no immediate solution.   On the passage to Hiva Oa we had not made water for the last 10 days because we were otherwise occupied – and because of the harbour water being muddy from the continuous run-off we hadn’t made any since we had arrived.  So our supplies continued to dwindle.  The water here in the boatyard is also muddy and cloudy – and not potable – so we do not want to put that in the tank.   We have a five gallon jug of drinking water we are trying to conserve so have been using the shack to shower in local cloudy water.   Absolutely horrible and I’m pretty fed up getting dirty to try and get clean!

Saturday evening we had a nice evening in the cockpit and were joined by a British lad called Jack who is on a mission to get to Australia without flying…. he seems to be doing quite well so far.   We had a laugh and drank too much rum – cold beers are at a premium on a boat without refrigeration – and put the world to rights.  Was quite a late night but I think we needed it.

Sunday morning and, yes, it was raining again.   The boatyard was deathly quiet and we were struggling with wifi access.  It comes and goes but not for any length of time to do anything useful with – and there are some things we need to do particularly for FedEx in Tahiti.   We ended up having a lazy day as we had finished most of our boat jobs.   Important things like cleaning the topsides, doing the laundry and cleaning down below will just have to wait until we get out of this muddy humid bug-infested environment.   

Monday morning and the boatyard came alive again as they hauled another boat out of the water.    One guy also patched the front of Morphie’s bow so things are at least moving on that front.  

We also had two guys fitting the new windlass motor to solve the intermittent problem as we were not happy to continue our journey with an unreliable anchor.  When they took the windlass apart they couldn’t get it back together again and spotted some erosion so they took it to the workshop to clean up and check it out.  Well, Vincent has just confirmed that it is dead.   Three parts have completely corroded through and are not fixable – so we need to buy some spares.    And, of course, we had a new motor in our spares cupboard but not the actual unit itself.   So frustrating….

We’ll probably just buy a whole new unit and take the old one apart for spares.   But that means no anchoring until we get a new one – and, of course, this type of windlass is not currently available in Tahiti so will need to be ordered from either the USA or, probably, New Zealand as that is closer now.    Anchoring without a windlass in the depths of the atolls – often up to 50 feet – is not an option.   This season is turning into a living nightmare!

We debated what to do.   The next islands are called the Tuamotus and are often referred to as the dangerous archipelago or the dangerous middle – separating the Marquesas from the Society Islands (which is where Tahiti is located).    We obviously can’t go to this remote area without a windlass as there are no facilities.   To wait for a replacement to reach Tahiti and then ship it here to Hiva Oa – especially as it means living on the hard in the mud – could take weeks / months.   So we have decided to do a straight shot for Tahiti.   This will take us about seven days at sea if we go the safer, longer route round.

In Tahiti we will have access to marinas;  shops;  restaurants;  chandleries;  fresh water and a laundry.   So we can be tied up safely and do a bit of exploring whilst waiting on parts.  It certainly seems a much better option than staying here in the mud.  We were hoping to visit a couple of other Marquesan Islands but that is sadly no longer than option.   It seems a shame to have to miss things out but we couldn’t see everything anyway and this is the first season we have ever had so many difficulties to overcome.   We are disappointed and frustrated trying to cope with the latest setback and are both feeling quite low right now.    

We went back to the restaurant last night to get some internet items sorted.   I have made a tentative reservation at a marina, although they have so far failed to respond, and we are still trying to source a new GPS antenna – as the failed one has been discontinued.  Thanks again Garmin!   The pizza was recommended and it was not very good…really helped our mood….although they did take us back to the port.   We just had to navigate the mud to get back to Morphie.  

This morning, Tuesday, and we stored the failed windless and new motor down below.   Then we found some caps we could use to block the holes on the bow and siliconed those in place.  We’ll add some plastic covering later and tape it up too.   The anchor was taken off and that is now also stored down below and the chain and wiring has been secured in the locker.  Hopefully that will be enough to stop water ingress into the bilges through the locker. 

The bow repair has dried and been sanded…not a great job but it will do…and we are just waiting on some antifoul on the patch now.    We have come into town to pick up some more tinned and dried food provisions for our passage and are now in Make Make having lunch and trying to finish internet jobs. 

We hope to splash on Thursday morning and will take off straight from there.   I’ll continue to blog whilst at sea and you can obviously watch us move on the tracker.  We are hoping for a straightforward enjoyable passage – on a reach if the wind forecast is to be believed.  We definitely need a confidence boost right now….

Bye for now.


Essential boat repairs in Hiva Oa

Sunday we stayed on board in the sporadic rain bursts feeling quite low after the latest setback with the stainless steel.   

We had suffered another restless night’s sleep on Saturday with more rolling…. sigh…. and more worrying.   We were just hoping that on Monday we would be able to get things moving in the right direction.   We watched the anchorage turn brown with run-off rain water mixing with the sea water as little waterfalls appeared along the shore.   We had another early night still trying to catch up.

Early Monday morning we went ashore:  to pick up our laundry;  dump the rubbish;   buy some petrol;   and pick up the electrician at 10 am.   I was also going to try to get some internet from the building at the top of the hill which we’d just found out about.  So laundry was collected – at a huge £25 for two small shopping bags worth! – and we had disposed of our rubbish along with everybody else’s which then gets picked over by wild chickens and their chicks.   

The quay was incredibly busy because the supply ship had arrived overnight and it was fun to see everyone getting excited about picking up their new stuff.   We were hoping that it had a huge consignment of flour for the baker so that finally we could get some fresh bread LOL.   

While Richard went off to get petrol I headed up the hill with the computer to get online.   Mission accomplished I slithered down the muddy hill just in time to see Richard heading back in dink to Morphie.   Hmmmm…wonder who he has been chatting to…..he needs to turn around pretty quickly to get back for the electrician at 10.   I sat on a rock and waited.   And it became abundantly clear that he wasn’t returning – so the guy must have been ready early and they had left me stranded!    I was happy to catch up with my emails when I realised that the internet access code only worked up the hill – they must have had a restricted zone on it.   So I trudged back up in the mud….and sat overlooking the harbour.   I did eventually manage to catch up so thanks to everyone for their patience in awaiting my tardy responses.

Of course, there was no power up there so when the computer’s battery died I headed back down the hill – around lunchtime.   And there was Richard in the boat yard chatting to Vincent, the owner.   The amazing thing was that Fred, the electrician, had fixed our autopilot.   Woo hoo!!!!    Apparently he thought the control head was dead too as there was power and data running through the cable from the control unit up to the binnacle.  Scratching his head he cut off the SeaTalk connecter and directly connected the cable to the base unit – and it worked!   So the unit wasn’t dead but still wouldn’t work in the nav pod.  So he took the pod apart and found – on the hidden four inches of cable – a chafe through the cable insulation which had finally parted in the difficult conditions whilst underway.   What a genius!!!   Soooo happy……   

We were even happier when Vincent confirmed that they could haul us on Wednesday and do the stainless steel welding.   Luckily we had an old flag pole – marine-grade stainless steel – which had become redundant when the arch had been installed.    They were going to use that to make the new connecting posts so no problems over lack of materials.    Amazing.    Feeling much happier Richard and I decided to go back.    The little dock, by now, was struggling underwater with a big high tide and there were chunks of wood everywhere… we navigated our way through that and got back to Morphie eventually, albeit a bit soggy.   We took our lives into our own hands trying to get back on board as there was a huge swell running and the movement meant we had to time our leaps onto the transom accordingly.     What a day!

Later that evening we had just had dinner and a celebratory few beers and the sun had gone down.  And a big skiff thing pulled up behind us and told us to move to let the ship leave.  Damn…..why now?   We had been on board most of the afternoon and had had a few beers and in the dark we had to pick up two anchors.   Stern first….success….then I was on the bow trying to pick up the main anchor.  And, of course, the windlass failed…. just clicking away.    The ship hadn’t waited for us to get out of the way and was coming towards us….. luckily, at that point, the problem resolved itself and we did manage to get out of the way just in time.    We weren’t amused.   Finally we had both anchors reset and had an early night but although irritated by the ship we were pretty happy that things had taken a turn for the better.

Tuesday morning we returned to town to get some cash out.   And, of course, the cards didn’t work again.  So we went to Make Make snack bar and had some lunch whilst getting access to the internet for a skype call to the bank – £3.50 an hour this time.   The bank confirmed that everything was OK and they had not blocked the cards for any reason…. so it must be the ATM.  We had tried three at two different places so not sure about that!   Anyway, not wanting to find ourselves sort of readies, we decided to use our credit card to get some money out instead.   And, of course, the most expensive method worked beautifully.   Typical.

Now with cash in hand and after the mandatory lunchtime closures of all stores we went shopping – and found loads of fresh baguettes in every store.   Yay!!!    We also visited the hardware store where Richard managed to spend a huge £10 on 20 screws….. seriously….. this place is not cheap.  Oh yes and the Post Office has stopped selling SIM cards so no internet for us on the boat.   More sighing.   A few more stores followed and then we headed back to the port with a free lift from the guy who runs Make Make.  

Back on Morphie and we got the outboard off of dink onto the rail and hauled dink onto the bow.   Boy dink is heavy and we struggled until we managed to get another cruiser to help us.    So if we are not going to use the arch for dink when doing a long passage in future we need to seriously consider swapping him out for a lighter version that we can both handle easier.     Eventually he was on the bow and tied down in preparation for being hauled.   We collapsed into the cockpit for dinner and an early night.   Oh yes and it was raining again… we collected rain water to top up the tank with.  

Wednesday morning we went ashore and couldn’t believe it….the docks were maybe three feet above our heads and the swell meant catching hold of them and staying upright without getting your head knocked off – it was downright dangerous.   We tried three docks before we finally managed to get close enough for me to jump off onto the rocks and take the rope with me.    What a palaver!!!   We dropped all our frozen food off at the petrol station minimarket – as the lady had kindly agreed to store our food in their large walk-in freezer – got some fresh bread and headed back to Morphie.  And that is where we stayed until we got the radio call from Vincent that they were ready for us.

We picked up the anchor….very slowly as the problem persisted with the windlass being non-operational lots of time during the process….and drove Morphie towards the ramp where the tractor was waiting. 

Richard couldn’t see the bow because of dink so I directed him in – with assistance from the land – and threw a couple of ropes to the boatyard guys to pull us forward the last few feet.  Finally we were in the cradle – so the engine was killed and the fridge / freezer turned off (they are water cooled so don’t work on land) – and we were off being pulled up the ramp and into the mud.  Richard’s job was done…..

We swayed….we slipped…and finally we arrived at the entrance to the boat yard.  A six-point turn continued to get us in through the entrance…..

Until we were finally installed – having been jet washed – on the only piece of concrete in this muddy quagmire which is Hiva Oa boatyard.   Phew…we were safe. 

We got shore power installed and (patchy) internet access sorted and it was time for the yard to close.    We bagged up some more rubbish and Richard braved the mud to walk to the gate only to find we were locked in – they had forgotten to give us the code LOL.  Who cares anyway???  We had no plans on going anywhere.  So we enjoyed a nice evening in the steady as a rock cockpit and so to bed.  It was lovely to sleep on a bed that didn’t roll around.   It was just a shame about the 10 foot ladder and the muddy walk to go to the loo though LOL.

Thursday morning and work started in earnest at 7am.   Christophe realised that he couldn’t work on the stern arch without assistance from the tractor and its moveable platform.   And, of course, Morphie was still attached to the tractor.  So they chocked Morphie up the front and removed the tractor so Christophe was happy and could start his preparations.    

I found a platform with wheels and started to clean the stainless and the hull – the ocean grime didn’t even come off with the jet wash – so this was going to need a lot of elbow grease.   Richard took himself into the starboard lazarette to reinforce the autopilot shelf;    he helped Christophe pull two cables through the arch so that they wouldn’t get fried while the welding was going on;   he topped up the oil and tightened the fan belt;  checked the rudder / cutlass bearing / bow thruster;  cleaned keel coolers and the ground plate;   and I moved on from cleaning to waxing and polishing.   Finally, around 4.30 pm we were done – we still need to clean the last bits of the hull at the stern plus the sugarscoop once the welding is finished.   The topsides are also covered in mud from everyone coming up and down the ladder. 

At 6pm Christophe gave up for the day as the light faded….

We finally had power restored to Morphie – so we had a lovely lamb dinner and a few beers in the cockpit before turning in for the night.   Then we found another problem – the gas solenoid is running way too hot – so that’s on the list to be swapped out now too.  Luckily we have spares for this.   Living on the boat on the hard is not my favourite pastime….but I’m managing so far!

Friday morning one of the boat guys came by and gave us two pamplemousse – a cross between a grapefruit and an orange.  

Before they had turned up at 7 am we had already finished the hull cleaning at the stern so just the sugarscoop to do.    It is lovely to see Morphie without that ocean grime all over her again….    

We ate the fruit for breakfast – was lovely and sweet – and Christophe turned up so we lost our power again when he started welding.    Fred, the electrician turned up, and obviously wasn’t able to troubleshoot the anchor windlass without power.  He is such a genius we are going to get him to look at our defunct GPS too just in case….

So Fred has gone off to do another job elsewhere on the island and, it looks probable, that we might need to chock and stay in the boatyard over the weekend too as we may miss the high tide this afternoon to splash.  Oh well, never mind…..   Thought a Friday splash was a tad optimistic!   Oh yes and Fred also gave us some pamplemousse and some fresh limes so we are quite well taken care of.   They are such lovely kind people.

In case you are wondering about the water beneath the ladder….well it has been raining on and off again….and there are waterfalls behind the boat and we are living in a sea of mud…..

Christophe has just finished….not a great job but definitely a get out of jail one….and Fred has returned.   He has confirmed that the GPS antennae is kaput so something else to buy.   The windlass motor is running OK but it still cuts out – so Vincent and Fred have decided that this is probably a thermal issue – in that the old motor is drawing too much power and the internal systems cut out as a result.  That would explain why it goes and then comes back.  So Vincent (as Fred is too big to get into the anchor locker) is going to swap the old motor out for our spare.  

Too make our day, the shore power has just failed on us – reverse polarity – so they are looking into that too.    Christophe apparently got an electric shock from the ladder this morning before it tripped.   Thankfully now that the welding is finished the solar panels are operational again and we are drawing very little power so we should be OK in the meantime.  

This certainly wasn’t what we were expecting to get up to in French Polynesia but needs must – so far the timelines haven’t slipped so far that the rest of the season is still doable – fingers crossed that remains the same.   And I want to see the sun!!!!  

Bye for now



Galapagos to Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia

Saturday 22 April at 9am we left Santa Cruz in the Galapagos bound for Hiva Oa, Marquesas, French Polynesia a mere 3,000 miles away.   It was going to be our longest ever passage at sea EVER let alone just the two of us alone.  So we were excited and nervous all at the same time.

We bid farewell to Santa Cruz and a tall ship that had come into the harbour overnight and sailed off towards Isabella.   We had a lovely farewell visit by a pod of dolphins to put smiles on our faces. 

The passage itself was challenging in places and a joy in others.    Beautiful sunny days with blue skies and blue seas were just gorgeous and we enjoyed that a lot – we even tried goose winging for the first time on Morphie in the early stages.    

And you can’t fail to love the beautiful sunsets, the sunrises and the moonlit nights…..

And of course more smiles at the pilot whales when they come to visit.

We had suicide fish and squid constantly landing on our decks which had to be cleaned off every morning….and Richard tried fishing but gave up in the constant motion deciding that landing a fish and cleaning / gutting it when the boat is going rail-to-rail side-to-side was just a step too far. 

Oh yes of course and then there was the Japanese whaler(?) who we had to change course for….and a few other fishing boats.   There were also two tankers out there according to the AIS but we never physically saw them.     

Low wind days were frustrating as we were moving so slowly but couldn’t afford to risk using too much diesel.   Funnily enough we were so frugal – even though we ran the engine to charge the batteries and to make hot water for showers – we ended up using only 45 gallons out of our total supply of 125 gallons diesel.   So perhaps we didn’t need to endure those 2 knot speeds after all LOL.

But then there was squall alley…..with grey skies and seas….and we kept getting hit from behind with driving horizontal rain.   The motion was particularly horrible as we got picked up and thrown down by the waves surfing underneath us – pitching us wildly from side to side.   We changed course to avoid squalls….found no wind…..changed course again and eventually the squall line was so wide we couldn’t avoid it but just had to plough through and put up with the poor conditions.    

One particular bad squall – about 1,000 miles still to go to our destination Hiva Oa – and the auto pilot failed.   The auto pilot often dropped out if it couldn’t hold the course so we weren’t unduly worried.   However, this time, when we went to re-adjust it the control head was blank.   We checked fuses, cables, even drying the unit out with a heat gun just in case of water ingress, all to no avail.  The system was dead!   And, of course, this was the one item that was not in our spares inventory.

This had a devastating impact on us as we realised that we were going to have to hand steer for over a 1,000 miles.   With no point of reference out in the ocean that means steering by compass alone night and day.   We both found that this was tiring, particularly with weather helm from the large swelly seas, so we fixed our schedule at two hours on and two hours off.   This meant that we were ships that passed in the night and in those two hours ‘off’ you had to eat, sleep, clean up etc etc.   Sometimes Richard managed a three hour shift in the day which allowed me to cook up huge pots of food that we could just dip into as and when we were hungry.

Apart from the obvious emotional impact this schedule was punishing physically.   Both of us struggled at different times but we managed to keep each other going and were relieved that each day we were that bit closer to our destination.    But we still had to cope with the horrible noises down below and sleep deprivation became a real issue.

As a result we eventually changed course to accommodate the weather and sea conditions and to minimise the noise down below to facilitate better sleeping conditions – the downside was that it added miles to our journey but there really wasn’t any other option open to us.  In total we were hand steering for the last 10 days of the trip.

Finally, and not a moment too soon, we were closing fast on Hiva Oa.    The island rises majestically from the sea to great heights but all we saw were dark and menacing rain clouds which made the approach even more intimidating.  

Of course, we were going too fast so we had to slow down considerably to ensure that we would make landfall in daylight which was a frustrating decision.    Sod’s law but that was the moment that the gas decided to run out so no celebratory cup of hot chocolate for us.

To hand steer for that length of time in those difficult conditions was a daunting task – to say the least – but we knew we had to get ourselves to safety so we just got on with it and did it.   Not sure how but we did!   We obviously didn’t mention this in our regular blogs whilst at sea as we didn’t want family and friends to worry about us whilst we were still out there.   

Eventually we had anchor down in Hiva Oa, Marquesas, on Thursday 18 May at 8.40 am having spent 25 days at sea and travelled 3,082 miles which despite:   low wind;  too much wind;  bad conditions;  and hand steering, we still managed to average just over 5 knots so actually pretty pleased overall with our performance.   In fact woo hoo – we did it!!!    We felt quite proud of ourselves and not a little bit relieved. The positive aspect of the whole experience was that we both lost a bit of weight LOL.

The anchorage is mountain-backed with lush greenery all around – or that is what it would look like had it not been peeing down with rain.   Having got ourselves cleaned up and presentable we dinked ashore – clambered up the broken down wooden jetty which is about four foot too high – and met some cruisers who told us about Sandra the agent who would help facilitate the check-in process and that they were pretty laid back about it all here.    

We had the paperwork with us anyway so decided to walk into town to see what was what.  

And it rained…and it poured….and the road whilst beautiful just went on and on….  At the point of giving up we were given a lift by a muscular shirtless tattooed young man – think Samoan rugby team – who spoke English and was a delight to meet.    Well I enjoyed it anyway LOL.    Very glad we didn’t walk, it was bloody miles away!!!!   The town is a sleepy little place with a few shops, a tourist information centre, a bank, a post office, a hardware store and a general store plus a few snack vans and cafes totally surrounded by the most spectacular mountain scenery.  We got some cash out the ATM – taking a stab at guessing the exchange rate as we hadn’t been on line for almost a month – and got 15,000 French Polynesian Francs.   It turns out 1,000 is about £7.   We would have got more but Richard’s card was refused.  Really?!?   Well that can wait for another day as I definitely wasn’t in the mood to deal with the bank right then.   

We popped into the tourist office and got a few pamphlets and met an English couple who were trying to check in on their own and were struggling – so decision made we’ll try Sandra in the morning.   Anyway….the whole town was shut for a couple of hours for lunch…..including the Gendarmerie!

We found out a local restaurant had internet so got a taxi there…and asked her to return to pick us up at 3.30 pm.   We walked in to be told they were closing – this was 2pm – as they don’t open in the afternoon.   The distress must have shown on our tired little faces as she took pity on us and let us stay to drink beer – but no food.   OK, that’ll do, and we enjoyed our first cold one or two for 25 days admiring the spectacular view of the beach below.   We also downloaded thousands of emails….but didn’t get a chance to look at them.       The taxi lady returned and we went back to the harbour and dinked to Morphie.   We had another couple of cold ones in the cockpit before turning in for an early night.   Sadly the anchorage was really rolly and we didn’t sleep well at all despite our exhausted state.  Oh yes and it rained all night.

Friday morning – still very jaded – we went ashore (in the rain) and met Sandra.  She took us in her 4×4 to town to the gendarmerie and also took delivery of our horrible wet smelly laundry from the passage – I was almost embarrassed to hand it over – but not that embarrassed LOL.   The customs / immigration form (in triplicate) was in French so the odd bit of translation/explanation was required and she double-checked it when it was completed before handing it over.   The guy then took our paperwork away and returned it to us with our official documentation which Sandra is going to send to Papeete, Tahiti, for us.   Sandra also supplied us with an e-mail address for an agent in Tahiti so we can order spares to be there waiting for us on our arrival.    

We obviously need to buy a replacement autopilot head but we are also considering buying a complete new autopilot system anyway – compatible with the older one we currently have – so we never have to face this situation again.   We also need to get a replacement GPS antennae as one failed on the passage which wasn’t a problem as we had two wired in anyway.  We also noticed that the plotter in the binnacle has a nice looking coral garden starting to appear on the screen.  Looks like our electronics are going to need to be stripped out and replaced in New Zealand – we did debate it whilst in the US but decided against, largely on cost.  But we think the time has probably now come.  Oh yes and of course another ensign bit the dust in the conditions.

Back to the bank again….and Richard’s card got refused again grrrr…..    And then we went supermarket shopping.   No bread anywhere – hang on, this is a French island – we’ve been salivating over bread for weeks.   Apparently the baker has run out of flour so is having to wait on the ship coming in on Monday to resupply him – so looks like we’re going to have to wait a while for that pleasure.  Damn!   We found eggs, tinned goods and more chocolate and biscuits to replace our supplies.  I was excited to see New Zealand lamb in the freezer too…   We’ll need to revisit to purchase frozen meat in a future quick visit to town in future before we leave here.  Oh yes, and we did also manage to get some cheese and tinned Anchor butter so we did quite well.

We walked, in the rain again, towards the restaurant and, just as we were almost there, we were offered a lift so took it.   Had a nice lunch – admiring the spectacular beach views in the rain – and caught up a bit more on the internet including some e-mails but a long way from getting through them.   Then we got a lift back from the lady owner of the restaurant to the port.   We had another early night after a couple of beers in the cockpit but, to be honest, we remain exhausted.

Saturday morning, after another restless and rocking night we were delighted to see that the sun had come out.  We dinked ashore and admired the view of the anchorage whilst we waited for our taxi lady to turn up – at 8 am – but she was clearly on island time. 

We had decided to do a private island tour rather than hiring a car ourselves.   Well…she turned up at 8.30….and in tears as something had happened at home and she couldn’t find anyone else to drive us.   She was genuinely upset so we just said fine.    Shame but, actually, we have lots to do so never mind.  

On the way back to dink we were surprised by the number of gendarmes that had just arrived in three vehicles – and we were stopped by one of them asking us about a particular boat Goldenage.   Well – we confirmed that we had seen the boat in the Galapagos (because he had anchored on top of us in Santa Cruz) and he was in the harbour yesterday morning but, by the time we had returned in the afternoon, they had left.   They knew exactly who was on board and who they were looking for.   Very intriguing!   Wonder what they were supposed to have done?!?

Back on board we picked up anchor and took the opportunity to move inside the interior harbour behind the breakwater as a few boats had left – so we are now in a more protected spot with a stern anchor deployed too – and there was definitely less rolling thankfully.  

Richard did an engine oil change while I started blogging.   There is a wifi hotspot in the harbour but at £10 an hour I don’t think we’ll be taking that one up.   Will have to wait for Monday when the Post Office opens as they sell SIM cards etc.     It certainly feels strange to be this long off-line.

Richard went ashore to get rid of his old oil and to talk to the guys in the very small boatyard.   We would like to get an expert to look at the auto pilot just to make sure we haven’t missed a trick when trouble shooting.   Even if he only just confirms what we already know.   What they did confirm though is that we can’t get our gas bottle filled until we reach Tahiti.   Oh well….should be OK.  While he was gone I enjoyed watching the junior outrigger racing boats practising for their up-coming regatta.     

When Richard came back – with good news that a marine electrician was coming to us on Monday morning – we then transferred diesel from the jugs on the rail to fill up the tank to avoid any condensation issues in this humid environment.   We were going ashore but decided against and started to hoist the dinghy for the night.  

As we did so I looked up and spotted a crack in the stainless arch.   WTF?!?!    So we dropped dink back in the water and investigated.  OMG the arch is failing – there are three connecting posts between the two rails that have come away – and a crack all the way around one of the 2 inch stainless rails.   Clearly the arch has been flexing whilst underway in the turbulent conditions and maybe the rolly anchorage was the straw that broke the camel’s back.    We were shocked that these failures had occurred because these arches are specifically built to hold the dinghy whilst underway.   And we had taken the outboard off to reduce the weight as recommended.   So now we have to speak to the boatyard again and see if they can do stainless steel welding here. 

If they can’t the nearest place may well be Tahiti as the islands between here and there are really just isolated pearl-farming atolls in the ocean.  Tahiti is 700 miles away but at least we can stop and break our journey to recover at 400 miles with short hops all the way after that.  If that happens then we’ll put dink on the bow throughout and leave the arch clear of any weight.    Fingers crossed it can be sorted out here and we can continue on our journey as planned.  

So no chance of having fun in the South Pacific any time soon!   Dealing with Morphie post-passage is far more time consuming than we anticipated with even basic maintenance let alone anything as major as the arch.   Maintenance is the key to keeping Morphie in good order and we are very diligent over it – I actually cleaned all the stainless including the arch before we left the Galapagos so you can see what a few days at sea will do to a fractured joint in terms of rust.   

Her hull right now is also filthy from the ocean – we again cleaned her hull before we left – and all this crap came from the passage.  We also have a nice culture of mussel-like creatures living along the stern line which need removing.   

The psychological impact of the latest issue – in our exhausted state – has hit us quite hard but once we have a plan to get it fixed we’ll be fine.   Fingers crossed for some good news tomorrow.   In the meantime we’re back in the restaurant to get online.

Bye for now


Passage to the Marquesas: Days 22-25

Sunday afternoon (Day 22) and we were going well. We got rid of the pole and moved to 120 degrees off the wind to ease the comfort stakes down below. Exciting and exhilarating as it is to surf and run downwind in big breaking seas we need to be able to sleep without the constant bashing and banging….which gets old pretty quickly. In fact I think it would be a very successful torture methodology LOL.
The seas were blue again and so was the sky…lovely day. The wind continued in the 10-15 knot range as forecast and we were going well. This continued throughout the evening and night….our first moonlit night with stars in a long time. The best bit was that we didn’t get wet! Oh yes and we put our boat clocks back again another hour so we think we are now on local time when we arrive.
Monday morning (Day 23) and we had crossed our rhumb line and were now about five miles adrift so we gybed and started the run back. We are averaging about 5 knots now and the end is in sight with about 300 miles to go. Interestingly all four weather models finally agree and have indicated that the best weather routing is the one we are on with constant 10-15+ knots of breeze. So that’s good news. The not so good news is that there is more rain forecast later in the week but at least this time we know about it in advance!
Monday afternoon and evening continued with no change although I did notice any rain showers only happened on my watch. Literally the minute I went up into the cockpit….all a bit weird! Another nice night and we both slept really well in the more comfortable conditions.
Tuesday morning (Day 24) and nothing changed other than making a couple of gybes to return to the rhumb line and try and run parallel. The wind has dropped a bit along with our boat speed but that’s fine. The last 24 hour mileage total was 117 which was a vast improvement on previous days. Another lovely day with the occasional rain squall (yes all on my watch again!) and we’re happy. So happy we broke out the chocolate biscuits and mocha for elevenses this morning – we are getting low on chocolate supplies so eking them out until we can visit the Carrefour in Hiva Oa LOL.
It looks like we’ll make landfall on Thursday morning. If we sustained 5+ knots we would arrive Wednesday night….and do not want to enter an unfamiliar anchorage at night. Especially as it might be crowded because the Oyster Rally are still around. So 4 knots average all the way would be good.
Tuesday evening we reefed down to a hankerchief-sized scrap of genoa only to reduce our speed. The seas were big and following us so made for some interesting surfing action. Later on the winds built to 30+ knots and came with torrential rain. But we were expecting it this time. During the evening a large catamaran passed us and it turns out they had left Panama 25 days ago – made us feel quite inadequate as they pressed on just skimming across the waves while we were pitching wildly from side to side. We had a little chat with them on the radio as they came close – a South African couple which sounded familiar. I think we may have met them in Cuba. Anyway as they left us Richard said ‘we should have bought a bloody catamaran’ LOL. Of course it was only tongue in cheek.
Overnight conditions remained feisty and we were pleased to be averaging 4 knots as planned. This morning Wednesday (Day 25) and nothing has changed we still have 20 knots behind us. A lovely day with strong winds and big seas – such a shame we are having to pass up on the opportunity to go fast!
ETA is Thursday morning – tomorrow – so this is the last blog from the ocean. Will share a wrap-up passage blog soon with some photos of our trip. Then normal service will be resumed from French Polynesia. I can’t believe it, we are almost there.
Bye for now Jan

Passage to the Marquesas: Days 21-23

Friday afternoon and evening we continued motoring at 4 knots and had done our sums in relation to actual fuel consumption and mileage. During the night there were squalls running down both our starboard and port sides but we were OK. Seems like this bowling alley is infinitely wide! And only drizzly rain – nothing too serious thankfully.
At 1am on Saturday (Day 22) the wind started to fill in on our starboard quarter. We had previously reefed the headsail with the pole out as we anticipated more easterly winds to come. Of course, the forecast was wrong, and the angle of the wind meant that we would need to drop the pole. I was reluctant to send Richard forward to do that in a pitch black night until the wind had stabilised for a while. So I continued motoring and left him sleeping….
By 3am it was clear the wind was here to stay from the north east so on shift change we put all our foredeck lights on and Richard got the pole stowed. I pulled out the genoa and shut off the engine. The wind remained unsure of its direction – constantly shifting through 40 degrees as the strength fluctuated – so we decided not to deploy the main at this stage.
At 8am we were still sailing along nicely – reacting to the constant wind shifts by tweaking the course to keep the wind abaft the beam – and averaged four knots. So still slow but tons better than the frustrations of previous days. The forecast predicts an increase in wind strength come Sunday and for it to continue throughout the week ahead. We can only hope that is the case. But the good news is that we have enough fuel to slowly motor all the way to Hiva Oa if we need to. That news, alone, gave us a boost.
Saturday continued unchanged but the wind eased for a while so we deployed the pole for the night to ensure we could run dead down wind. Oh yes and some excitement because we saw a tanker on our AIS although we didn’t actually physically spot him. So there is life out there!
Anyway pole out, shifts underway and the clouds built, and built, and built until I was surrounded by black menacing clouds and I was the only thing sitting under a circle of grey sky…..then the circle closed like something out of a horror film….the wind howled up to 35 knots and the heavens opened. It rained continuously and we had to shorten sail to a handkerchief size as the huge following seas, which often broke on our stern quarter, had us surfing manically up to 9 knots and swerving all over the place until we settled and started the whole process again.
These horrible conditions continued throughout the night and the movement made sleeping very difficult. Again our track looks like a drunk staggering around as we are constantly tweaking our course to ensure we don’t take these breaking waves side on…. Despite the strong winds and the surfing activity we still only averaged 4.5 knots over the hours of darkness – very disappointing – but we had no choice in the conditions to ensure we stayed safe.
Sunday morning (Day 23) and we were relieved that the rain started to move away around 7 am. The seas remain heavy and are breaking on us but the reduced wind – true wind speed 15 knots – has enabled us to get more sail out and increase our average speed to 6 knots. The latest forecast is for these wind conditions to remain constant – unfortunately with some more rain – for the rest of the week so fingers crossed! We have done 2,639 miles now and have around 420 to go if we can continue to go in a straight line. And that’s a big ‘IF’ LOL.
Bye for now Jan

Passage to the Marquesas: Days 19-21

Wednesday (Day 19) continued along the same lines… squalls just pretty blue all around. Was a lovely day despite the slow boat speeds. During the afternoon we experienced a wind shift which meant that we were now running south away from our rhumb line rather than parallel. We decided to slog on rather than gybe back and tried to correct as wind shifts again. With hindsight this proved to be the wrong decision as we got pulled back into the squalls area. By the evening we were about a degree above our final destination so we felt like we were not losing too much ground.
During the night it all went pear shaped again. The squalls came through thick and fast with 35 knot winds and torrential rain. The squalls were huge and there was no dodging them. The winds shifted constantly – up to 50 degrees at a time – and all we could do was keep correcting our course to continue running downwind very slowly so we didn’t feel the full force of the weather systems. Our track looked like a drunk headed home in a straight line from the pub and we had added miles to our journey…. Sigh….. Oh yes and, of course, with the weather came huge seas and that damn rolling motion again. We both found it difficult to sleep in these conditions so were increasingly sleep-deprived.
Thursday (Day 20) morning and the wind swung further north. This gave us a chance to beat back up towards our rhumb line to get away from the deadly swells bowling alley. So we put away the pole and pulled out the main and genoa. We took off rapidly and it felt great to be moving properly through the water again. Sadly not all of the miles were making way but hey at least we got rid of that rocking and rolling and Morphie had stopped creaking down below. So we were able, at last, to get some sleep. Sadly our 24 hour total was a dismal 106 miles…but considering what we had been doing running before the storms we can’t grumble too much.
Thursday afternoon we crossed our rhumb line and started running parallel again. Sadly the wind died…….and the going was painfully slow……at 2-3 knots only. But, again, still too far from our destination to motor yet so we just put up with it. Beautiful day though with a huge pod of dolphins running towards us like eager puppies showing off their jumping skills as they raced towards us to play in our wake.
Overnight we ended up wearing our foul weather gear because of the constant rain showers. Was a pretty miserable and wet night with a few course adjustments to cater for the wind shifts and holes left behind as they go through. Still little wind and very slow….
This morning, Friday (Day 21) and we remain running downwind towards our destination. Our 24 hour total was less than a hundred miles and there is no change in the wind strength forecast until Sunday night. So we will just have to continue going slowly until we can pick up speed again when / if the wind fills in. Very tedious and frustrating and not the beautiful blue skies fast downwind passage that we had hoped for. Never mind – we are well and Morpheus is keeping us safe. Morale goes up and down and has a link to the strength of the wind. Never thought I would get excited when I saw 3+ knots SOG!
We have just had another massive squall come through – which gave us a lift for about half an hour – but sucked all the air away. We can’t sit around bobbing in no wind so have reverted to motor sailing. We are conscious of fuel conservation so the minute we get enough wind to push us slowly forward we’ll turn it off. Fingers crossed that it is not too long away.
We really don’t have a clue when we will arrive now – we still have 615 miles to go – but will keep you posted.
Bye for now Jan

Passage to the Marquesas: Days 15-19

Saturday afternoon (Day 15) the wind remained constant and although we weren’t speeding along we enjoyed the smoother ride and took the chance to catch up on some sleep.
Saturday night started well…..then the wind died….then the squalls came…..and the wind swung north…..and the squalls continued. Richard had to run and get wet weather gear out as we have little protection in the cockpit when the rain comes at us horizontally from behind.
When I started my shift at 6 am it was still very dark and the squalls were playing havoc with the wind direction and making it difficult to hold a course or even sail. I motor sailed for a while until the wind switched back to the south / south east and set the sails again. The seas were huge – the gusts were 23 knots – and we were being thrown around like a cork.
Finally it got lightish (Sunday Day 16) and all around were rain squalls. Richard came up to relieve me and thought the conditions reminded him of being in a bowling alley with the squalls queuing up behind us: some go down the right-hand gutter; some go down the left-hand gutter; and then they get a strike! The wind picks up and shifts making our sails flog….so we quickly adapt our course…..then the sea picks us up and throws us down. Great stuff – not!
I went down for a sleep but was called up by Richard half an hour later as he had spotted another large tuna fishing boat. It was moving so slow it wasn’t apparent which way he was going but eventually we sussed it and changed our course accordingly. I went back down again but gave up after an hour of being thrown around – imagine sleeping on a whirlitzer!
We had breakfast of freshly-baked blueberry muffins – and Richard thought I was nuts to attempt that in these conditions – and despite their strange shapes they were pretty good and I didn’t spill anything or burn myself, which is always a bonus. Sunday dinner will definitely be a one-pot pressure cooker meal….had enough excitement in the galley for one day.
The last 24 hours were our slowest ever…we only made 111 miles….but at least it’s in the right direction. But the latest weather forecast is for very strong weather to our south so we decided to get back up to our rhumb line – we were 10 miles south of it – and try to stay close all the way. So we gybed to put that plan into practice and were relieved that the rolling motion was also lessened on that tack.
Again, to align our clocks with the setting and rising of the sun we put our boat clocks back another hour…. We’ll probably need to do this one more time as we get closer to our destination.
We crossed our rhumb line just before 3pm and come 6pm the wind swung north! The trades here are easterly / south easterly so not expected at all. So we took the opportunity to run parallel with our rhumb line on a reach…. Then it got squally again, oh well, never mind. By 9pm the wind had clocked to the north west so we were now running slowly – in ever decreasing winds – but couldn’t hold the parallel course any more so were running away from our destination again.
It was really slow going…the wind was totally flaky but we continued to sail until 3 am (Monday Day 17) ….when we had to admit defeat, put away the gib and motor sail. We downloaded the updated weather and the pattern had changed yet again. This is so frustrating. So we headed back south to find some wind. All this backwards and forwards means, of course, that we are adding miles to our passage. Sigh…..
Funnily enough Richard and I were both playing the same game independently watching the miles tick over…….I had the 1960s – shooting of President Kennedy, the Beatles, Congratulations by Cliff Richard, Puppet on a String by Sandie Shaw and of course England winning The World Cup in 1966. Then Richard had the 1970s – our first female Prime Minister, Maggie Thatcher, the three day week, the coal miners strike and the very hot summer of 1976. Then it was our wedding in 1996 and the millennium in 2000… Finally it was 2012 the year when we both retired and went cruising…. Was fun for a little while and kept crew spirits up although very soon we were in the future LOL.
At 6am we were running back towards the rhumb line and crossed over heading south. We found the squall bowling alley again and some wind….so we were running downwind on a poled-out genoa hoping to pick up speed and make up for the time we lost over the last couple of days. The wind reverted to east / south east and long may it continue.
By noon we were heading towards our destination again and then the squalls intensified and there were more strikes than not. And of course with the strong winds comes this damn awful rolling movement. The interesting thing is that, between squalls, there is very little wind at all… you tear along at 8-9 knots temporarily then drop back to 2-3 knots until the next time. And Morphie doesn’t really settle down from the pitching and the rolling. A bit like a roller coaster ride.
Feeling frustrated by the conditions we decided to get out of this area and head back closer to our rhumb line. The wind here is lighter at about 12 knots but enough to sail with a poled out genoa. And at least we have better conditions on board…..
By 4 am on Tuesday (Day 18) the wind was light and variable but we enjoyed am almost full moon to show us the way. Was a lovely night.
And then the sun came up, the seas were blue, the sky was blue and we had puffy white clouds and, the best bit, is that the swell had reduced to 1m and was largely spaced so we were sailing along much flatter. Bliss! The wind remained light but still enough to sail by, although comes with the price of a reduced boat speed.
We have decided to continue on this course and will take whatever the wind throws at us. The weather routing package is encouraging us to head further south for strong winds (ie a faster passage) but we would rather add a few days and enjoy more comfortable conditions than beat ourselves or Morphie up any more.
We had an uneventful night apart from two visits by a school of pilot whales. In the calmness of the night you could hear them puffing and surfing alongside us. Oh yes and we had almost a full moon all night to show us the way.
It is now 7am on Wednesday (Day 19) and Happy 60th Birthday to my big brother Dave! Nothing much has changed and the crew are feeling more relaxed with the better living conditions on board – although, saying that, we did just get tumbled around by a growler LOL.
Bye for now Jan

Passage to the Marquesas: Days 12-15

Wednesday afternoon and the winds remained constant about 15 knots with some 20 knot gusts. The seas picked up and there were growlers about with the occasional wave breaking on our port quarter sending us hurtling down the waves and rolling side to side. But thankfully Richard’s temporary fix of the autopilot shelf appears to have worked as the grinding noise has diminished significantly. Fingers crossed…..
These speedy sailing conditions continued all night although the wind backed easterly giving us more of a downwind run. At midnight there was a storm raging – with lightning – to starboard but thankfully was a long way away. The moon did come up for about 5 hours which was the longest we’d seen so far and it made a nice change to see some reflection on the water rather than just being enclosed by an all-encompassing black curtain!
Thursday (Day 13) and there was only a faint glow behind us so wasn’t expecting a sunrise – then suddenly the sun popped up out of the gloom and gave the most gorgeous display. And the grey skies cleared to another blue sky, blue sea with wispy cloud kind of day. The storm to the side of us carried on until later in the morning – glad it was a decent distance from us!
We made good progress and passed our half way mark with our latest 24 hour tally being 141, our highest to date. The wind remains steady at 12-16 knots with the occasional gust to 20 and we enjoyed a broad reach running parallel with our rhumb love.
Richard has just filled the cockpit with sawdust as he is cutting wood to use to reinforce the autopilot shelf more permanently. He is also running the generator to make life easier so he can run power tools. But a way into the project he got thwarted by the drill – whose battery decided it would not take another charge, ever! So he had to abandon the project for now – I feel a few more hardware store visits coming on when we reach land LOL.
Interestingly since we changed our sailing angle the autopilot is under less pressure and has stopped groaning and grinding – so we do believe it is an alignment issue when the shelf flexes as we heel over. We’ll see…. But if the worst happens we do actually have a spare autopilot on board that we could swap out if necessary. Just prefer not to have to do that at sea in a 3m swell! So all is good.
At 6pm the sun was a long way from going down so it looks like we’ll have to change our time zone again at some point. The wind remained steady at around 12 knots until about midnight when it started to ease dramatically which of course slowed us down again. By 3am on Friday (Day 14) our speed had fallen to 4 knots or less. Not too happy about that but what can we do? We are too far away from our destination to just motor sail to keep the average speed up because we may still have no wind days ahead that we need to conserve fuel for.
At 6.30 am the sun tried to break through the cloud cover to wish us a good morning. The clouds were building….and the wind picked up. By 8.30 we had 12-15 knots and were moving through the water nicely at 5-6+ knots again. And, wonders will never cease, we have just seen a tuna fishing boat. The first sign of life in a fortnight!
Lunchtime and we continued going along steadily – not excitingly fast – but in the right direction at least. Come 6pm and the wind started to ease so we deployed the pole for the night.
It was quite a nice moonlit evening and I was sitting minding my own business when thump, something hit me hard on the thigh. I screamed and grabbed the head torch to find a decent-sized flying fish gasping for air on the cockpit cushion. So I grabbed him – he wriggled and slimed – and I dropped him. He was still alive though and finally I managed to throw back into the sea, hoping he survived our encounter.
Then about 2 am (Saturday Day 15) there were suddenly very bright lights over to my starboard side. A boat! I got Richard to turn on the VHF / AIS receiver – we’ve been running with minimum equipment overnight to conserve energy – and we picked up his signal. Likewise we also shone a powerful torch on our sails so he could see us, if he wasn’t paying attention to his AIS receiver. He was a huge fishing boat (39m) called Katoshiromaru No.58. His signal said he was engaged in fishing activity and was moving at only 1 knot. Not knowing what type of deep sea fishing he was doing – dragging nets or long lines behind his stern – we decided to put the engine on, speed up, and cross his bow. All the time trying to make radio contact to inform him of our plans. When he was 3 miles away the f@#%@r decided to power up and was now on a collision course with us.
We both tried to make contact on the radio but to no avail. So we had no choice but to drop off to cross his stern at the farthest distance we could possibly be away from him in the time available. Eventually he crossed our bow and we passed behind him anxious about propping his gear. Of course we were fine. Thinking about it logically later – when the drama was over – what fishing boat would cross our bow if they had lines / nets deployed? So we did wonder whether it might be a Japanese whaler? Perhaps that’s why whales in this area are known to attack boats?!? Just a thought…..
Anyway, excitement over, and we continued our shifts but sleeping was impossible with the pounding Morphie was taking from the big waves….it is horrendously loud crashing and banging and the movement was horrible running dead down wind rolling side to side. So, at sunrise, we took down the pole and cracked off our course to have a smoother, albeit slower, ride.
It is now 9 am on Saturday (Day 15) and we are 1797 miles into our passage with just over 1200 to go. We are finding the going a bit tedious because of the Pacific swell. When we are going along at speed we ride the waves and both us and Morphie have fun. When our speed drops off the waves knock us off our feet, the sails flog, and it takes a while to recover. After the incident with the Japanese fishing boat and the bad conditions we are both sleep deprived so will probably sleep a lot during the day today to catch up. Tomorrow is another day….
Bye for now Jan

Passage to the Marquesas: Days 9-12

Sunday afternoon it became clear that I had moved the clocks the wrong way – much to Richard’s delight – so we had to adjust them again. The new boat time is now an hour back from the Galápagos time zone so is -7 UTC / -8 UK. I’m not sure I’m going to live this down for a long time. You can imagine the insults ringing in my ears! ‘Call yourself a navigator….’ Anyway…it worked….and our overnight shifts now coincide with the sun going down and rising again. Looking at the world clock the Marquesas have a few time zones from 3 to 4 hours behind the Galápagos – so it makes sense (now) that the clocks move back as we get closer. Doh!!! Sunday (Day 9) was probably our best sailing of this passage so far. The wind was perfect at 15 knots and we were on a broad reach – so we were able to power across the swell – and clocked 7-8 knots for much of the afternoon. And it was lovely and sunny too! By the evening the wind died back to around 6-8 knots and there really wasn’t enough breeze to hold the main – and we hate the noise of it constantly collapsing – so we ended up running downwind on genoa alone overnight. It appears to be a diurnal pattern now that we have escaped from the ‘dodgy weather’ area unscathed so will be interesting if this trend continues going forward. Monday morning (Day 10) and the wind was still lightish but Richard pulled out the main anyway just before he went off shift and then left me to make it work. Not impressed! Oh yes and more barbs about the time zone. This is going to get old pretty quickly. You would have thought a grovelling apology and a really lovely steak dinner Sunday night would have got me off the hook eh?!? Anyway…I set the sails…changed our course to a broad reach – away from our rhumb line out of necessity – and our speed improved. Richard seemed pleased when he woke up and I must have been forgiven as he actually cooked breakfast! The wind filled in mid morning and we were sailing well again on a beam reach running parallel with our rhumb line. We had covered 135 miles over the previous 24 hours so we were pretty pleased with our progress. But there is a long way to go yet….. Oh yes – when we went to the Southampton boat show last September to consider satellite systems we were advised not to buy the Iridium Go! unit as it was too slow to be useful. We were told that a satellite phone was a much better / reliable option particularly if we wanted to make any voice calls. This was from the salesman on the stand. We were unsure so came away empty handed to do more research. Eventually we purchased the Iridium Go! anyway as it appeared to offer the most value (particularly with its unlimited data package) and on Monday would you believe it, over 1k miles from the Galápagos and 2k miles from Panama I managed to have a chat with my mum on the iPhone. Absolutely amazing! We had a lovely afternoon on Monday, followed by dinner and sunset, and we reefed down for the night. The wind was light and variable in both speed and direction so it was a frustrating night of sail changes and patterns to even manage 3-4 knots boat speed! With hindsight we should have deployed the pole overnight but at 6pm we still had 12 knots of breeze so didn’t seem like we needed it. Tuesday (Day 11) and the wind picked up again… we pulled all the sails out as the sun rose behind us. It was a lovely day with bright blue skies, dark blue seas and wispy white clouds rolling through – plus 12 knots and reasonably flat seas – just perfect! And that’s how it stayed all day although the wind was a bit fickle seeming to come through in waves so, one minute, we are hurtling along at 7+ knots and the next at 4 knots. But we are doing better than our target of 5 knots average so who cares!?! We are aware of a weather front south of us coming through with strong winds so we are trying to remain as close to our rhumb line as possible. During the night the wind continued to come through in waves with the range 8-16 knots and the direction South-South East so lots of course corrections were made to keep us moving. This morning, Wednesday (Day 12) and there wasn’t a sunrise (again) as it was cloudy and grey all around. There are some pretty menacing clouds south of us so it appears the forecast was right. We are running downwind under a reefed main and full genoa and have winds up to 20 knots. And we’re flying…. Long may it continue. The autopilot has developed a grinding sound from the direct drive unit so we have concerns over that – to put it under less pressure we have changed the response rate so it ‘hunts’ less frequently. Richard has just been in the lazarette and noticed that the glassed-in shelf is flexing whilst we are underway so it is possible that the autopilot ends up slightly out of alignment as a result. He has put some screws in to hold it steady and the noise has reduced – so fingers crossed this temporary fix will hold until we reach landfall. We are 1425 miles into this passage now…..only another 1575 to go! Bye for now Jan