No news, today.

Sometimes the weather and circumstances dish out a little too much for leaving time for blog-posting. The fact that Jon and Suki haven't sent a post, today, doesn't mean they're in peril; just that they're either too busy or too tired to post. I'll let you know as soon as there's any news... starting when I get up again tomorrow morning.

Toau to Hilo: Day 17

Monsoon Trough? What is that???
It sounds like a place on a board game that you need try to roll doubles and avoid.
According to the gribs, we weren't supposed to be anywhere near the one looming a few degrees away...but there we were, weaving our way through thunderous clouds and shifty, blustering winds and rain, rain, rain. Who knows if this was the edge of the trough or maybe more ITCZ following us along like the pesky, neighborhood troublemaker that just won't get lost.

We have been in twice daily SSB communication with our friends on Nakia, comparing notes on our crossings and giving position reports and daily updates and while we were laughing with Nakia's skipper, John, about the sometimes completely unexpected, weird weather that we get, compared to what was forecast, he told us that one of the weather satellites that's in charge of gathering data for these gribs we all rely on, actually went off line like a year ago! I guess there are supposed to be two Government controlled devices up there, noodling around in the stratosphere, that are designated for CIVILIANS like us, and when one went down, well, Washington needed a place to make some cuts anyway...
Scatterometer-equipped satellite diagram (borrowed from Wikipedia)

So, about once a WEEK the working hunk of junk in the sky scoots past our spot on its orbit around our blue marble and feeds the computer models with accurate, current sat. data and the rest of the just makes stuff up. A "best guess" version of the gribs, based on models deduced from averages about what SHOULD be out here.
This all just goes to prove the long-standing, salty, sailor, saying: "If you want to know the weather-go look out the window".

(We might also want to ask our local congressmen to launch a new scatterometer-equipped satellite!)

We listen on on the HAM radio net and are disturbed to hear concern has been raised for a boat who has missed their daily check in on their Iridium phone. Someone's worried parents have alerted the fleet and we all listen in as their Boat name is called out over the radio waves...
there is no answer.

I think about them often, during the dark night.
Many things can happen out here; thoughts one does not entertain for long, when standing guard over precious, sleeping children, nestled in their berths.

As the hours pass to dawn, I stand on deck and watch the sunrise over a lavender-grey, tumbling sea.

The wind has been hooting along above 20 knots all night, and every eight seconds, massive, dark rollers, the size of semi-trucks, barrelled down on Pura Vida. Their foaming white crests dangle menacingly over her rail for a moment. They seem intent on intimidating, making you feel that any one will surely come crashing aboard and engulf us in its salty maw but our faithful old girl ignores them utterly. With a smart twitch of her white transom, she tucks them under her wide keel and chugs along. She reminds me of a sturdy little white duck. No matter how much crazy wildness is going on around her, this is her element and she rolls on, completely nonplussed.

God breaks open his box of spray paint cans and tags the sky in neon.

I look around with my jaw hanging open, no matter how many of these things I see out here, it just boggles the mind, that every one is original.

The past few days have been pretty sleepless and Jon and I are both beyond exhausted but it is these odd hours, a sky full of cloud formations defying comprehension, this bullying sea and the complete and utter audacity of us actually being out here...that makes your blood rush with your own boldness.

A rainbow arcs out of the black cloud off my leeward rail and looking forward from the transom, my view, is our tightly reefed sails, taut against the fresh wind, the sun-kissed waves flying by and Pura Vida, literally, sailing under a rainbow.

What a crazy way to meet a day, this is.

In our morning check in, we hear the missing boat has reported to the fleet, 
vessel and crew are fine.

All is well.

We are relieved and life goes on, as it has for seventeen days and will do for another four or five more...

There is no moment to let down-not until that anchor drops, somewhere roughly 482 miles ahead of us.

Sailing in the Trades to Hawaii

More entertainment for all of us non-sailing people: video of another boat's trip via Tradewinds to Hawaii:

Toau to Hilo: Day 16

Somewhere midnight last night, we lost our wind. Not only did we lose it, what there was of it decided to come from directly behind us. Holding a line to Hilo was impossible-what we could aim at was San Francisco!

We slopped around in the swell, not going anywhere, listening to our sails slat and bang and after about six, murderous hours of that...we kicked on the engine again. We had humped aboard extra Jerry cans of fuel before we left Tahiti and were able to top them off with 15 gallons in Anse Amyot by trading with Gaston (we paid him in new rubber slings for his spear gun and a set of Bocce balls), so we were cool to give in to our frustrations for a little while. By afternoon, the wind had come back and returned to something resembling the expected trades, so we hauled up the sails and were off again.

I lost a giant fish today. I'm not sure what it was but it was certainly in the marlin family. I saw it jump before it hit our line, yelled "Kai!" as it took the lure and ran all the way out with it, snapping our 250 pound test, before I could even jam our teak plug stopper in the reel. Jon stumbled up on deck from his off watch, to find a stunned Kai and I staring at our empty reel.

I feel bad that somewhere out there is a honker of a fish with our line and a hook in its mouth but whatever it was it was so big that without a gaff (or even with the little one we had) I don't think we could have gotten it aboard. It also spared me spending the next three days in a boiling hot galley, canning fish!

If the gribs are correct (which they seem to be half of the time), we should have very strong winds for our final leg of the trip.
As I write this, I already have a reef in the mainsail and the head sail furled in a bit and we are are heeled hard over and making about 6.2 knots have about 17 knots of wind, with the bigger stuff expected in the next day or so.

If this keeps up, a Sunday morning arrival might just happen after all!

LAT: 13*03.23N

COG: 315

Toau to Hilo: Day 15

Great 24 hours, easy 14 knots of wind, subdued, tranquilo seas...
We caught up on sleep on our off watches, baked bread, enjoyed several more meals of yummy mahi-mahi.

Then the ITCZ played a little hop scotch.
Just when we thought we were free of its fickle tricks, it jumped back on top of us. It snatched our wind and left us becalmed, annoyed the clouds into a fury, which they took out on us, in sullen squalls and burping, thundery, piles of moody convection.

The Moon (Our dilettante Mother) has taken to joining us later and later each evening. She leaves us to face our first two watches in a night dark as pitch, with overcast skies. We roll blindly through shadow, dropping, climbing, pitching, surging on the whispering sea, trying to make order of such discombobulating chaos--is impossible.

Even the GPS wonders where the hell we are, with an occasional squawk of alarm, it lets us know it has temporarily lost contact with any sort of satellite signal;
and we find ourselves in a state of non-existence.


Very little reading gets done when it gets likes this.
It's far too weird...
and strangely impossible, to tear ones eyes away from such a display of Nothingness.

Mostly, you spend those three hour watches, staring into that abyssal confessional box, delving into your deepest, primordial
brain drippings.

Dark matter, punctuated by searing flashes of profound Love and Gratitude.

When the Moon appears, (better late than never) she makes it up to you, asks for a song and all is forgiven.
It's time to make cocoa and play the guitar.

The winds are not as Easterly as we were hoping for, so we pull up the cutter and keep close hauled through the night.
Shaping the course for Hilo, with an eye on the gribs, we keep trying for a little more North, 13* Lat. is our new goal.

We expect the trades to come in full and hearty, and seas to pick up in a day or so. It would be much nicer to sail these conditions, (on our final stretch) while taking them aft of the beam,
rather than hard on the nose.
We had our fill of that, on the earlier leg of this passage.

Jon decides to kick on the motor and power through our last fleck and wheeze of the rheumy Doldrums.
We still have to drain the fuel filter-but at least its every two hours, instead of every forty minutes.

If all goes as planned (which is, of course, me, joking), we should find our wind by eight o'clock tonight, make 13*N in another 100 miles or so, and then bomb on down to Hilo with a smart Easterly, aft of our beam.

In six days, we would arrive (in this fantastic dream), in Radio Bay on Sunday morning.

Customs would be closed, so we wouldn't have to deal with that hassle, until the next morning, leaving us free to inflate our dinghy, put it in the water, head to the nearest store for cold beers and lemonades, come back to the boat,
eat a large and indulgent meal...and sleep for twenty hours straight.


And on that note, I better go check the fuel filter....

Lat: 11*21.94
Long: 146*06.17
COG: 347T
SOG: 4.5K

The Open Ocean - With David Attenborough

From the Living Planet series. 

Toau to Hilo: Day 14 -- By Hunter

Two weeks at sea!

Last night a flying fish fell on Kai's head.

It must have come on deck in the big waves and somehow flipped it way over to our slightly open hatch (there is the dinghy on our deck so we can leave it open without getting to wet) and somehow flipped right inside. Our bed is RIGHT under the hatch, so when the fish came though, it hit Kai right on the forehead, bounced up in the air and then landed on my pillow and started thrashing like mad.

This was at about three oclock in the morning and we had both just fallen back asleep (it was really rough seas yesterday and since Kai and I sleep in the same sea berth on passage, we roll into each other all night), when suddenly I heard Kai go "ARGHHH!" and he leapt out of bed. I remember thinking, "I wonder what he's doing getting up again, maybe he wants to go on dawn watch with mom". Then I head a weird fluttering sound and I thought,"Maybe its those giant moths from Mexico-oh, wait...we're in the middle of the ocean, there are no moths..." and then I felt a slimy, tail skim past my arm!

I jumped out of bed, screaming!
Dad ran down from on deck to see what it was.
I was yelling "FLYING FISH...IN OUR BED".

Dad was laughing so hard but he got a kitchen cloth from the galley, scooped it up and tossed it overboard. Then we had to clean up all the scales and fish slime from our pillows and bedding-YUCK!

I got some Fabreeze but it turned out to be air freshner and didn't really do anything, so we ended up sleeping in fishy smelling covers all night.

The next morning (today) the weather got way better and really hot.
I spent the day, reading and playing with dolls while my daddy fixed the fridge and mom was on her off watch sleeping (they have been super tired lately).
When mom woke up, she went outside to see dad and talk about boat stuff and my dad, who was taking a shower on deck, wasn't looking at the water and then suddenly mom yelled,

I ran and looked over the side and there was a HUGE GRANDDADDY-SIZE GREEN SEA TURTLE!

He was right next to the boat and you could see him even in the waves as he was sleeping and was too tired to move out of the way-luckily we just sailed smoothly past him and he didnt even bother to wake up much. We saw him on the sirface for a long time.

This is the first turtle we have seen in ages! My mom was yelling and smiling and so happy-she loves turtles.

Then I saw a plastic Gatorade bottle float by.

This is also the first garbage we have seen out here this whole time-
Now I know we must be getting close to Hawaii.

Turtles and signs of humans!

(but we are still 836 miles away!)

I'm really looking forward to going to Hawaii because we will get to see, lots of whales and turtles and volcanoes and most of all our family can come for a visit!

LAT: 9*39.22N

5.4 knots

course:325 true

Toau to Hilo: Day 13

Fog, rain, squalls, no wind, steep, confused seas, water in the fuel tank, fridge stopped working again, too much wind, four meter seas, breaking seas, thunderheads...
and there we were feeling all lucky yesterday!

Well, it was good and then it got, less good, I guess.

We are all fine and have happy full tummies, thanks to that gorgeous Dorado we caught yesterday and we ARE still sailing to Hawaii after all (even if it feels more like we're heading for Norway right now).

It was a long night made longer by the fact that we had to stop the engine every hour to bleed the fuel filter and reprime the pump. It was a worst case scenario, with the seas kicking us around enough that it kept stirring up whatever water is still trapped in the tank. Jon never got more than 45 minutes of sleep before he had to get up and do it again...he's running on a pretty low tank himself right now, so I hope we catch a break soon.

We are sailing again at the moment, and even though he should be able to sleep since we don't need the engine on we have now sailed into some weird weather and are bounding around like crazy in 27 knot winds and beefy seas, that's not what keeps Jon from sleeping though, its puzzling out how to fix our fridge! We are still not technically out of the ITCZ yet... Maybe by tomorrow night, we will finally be totally clear of it and say good riddance to this thing!

Here's hoping for a better, next, 24 hours...


Catch of the Day -- by Kai

I had a feeling that we might be able to catch a fish when I saw the water temp today.

Dorado -like a lot of other open ocean tropical fish- like the water to be above 82*.

The past few days we have been in fast, but cooler current but today, when I woke up and looked at the instruments, it was back up from the low of 76' to 85*!

When My mom was on her dawn watch, something took our line out, without anyone noticing when it happened (probably it happened at night) but whatever it was must have got eaten by something much bigger. The line was snapped all the way back to the leader.

When I got up, mom asked me to change the lure, so I put on one of our home made ones and set it back about one boat length behind Pura Vida. I set the drag to about 10 pounds and I stepped back and got ready to wait.

A couple of hours later, we were all hanging out on deck when mom said,"look, something is jumping in the water!",

Then we saw them.

Two neon torpedoes, skimming along the surface, directly at our lure.

In about five seconds, the line was already running out...
Everyone jumped up and raced to the reel.

Dad played the fish for awhile by hand, while I reeled in the slack. All of us, were terrified that the leaping Dorado would come loose of the hook, because they flail their heads so much when they are above the water.

Dad and I carefully worked the fish to the transom and got ready to gaff it.
Dad lunged with the hook several times, before he finally hooked it in the side but just before pulling the fish up, the handle broke in dad's hand and our gaff hook floated away into the ocean!

For a minute we were all stunned trying to figure out how we were going to land this big fish with no gaff.
Mom said, "quick, throw a towel over it's head!"

Our friend, Tony from Escondido is a really good fisherman and he told us this is a good trick to use, if you land a big fish that still might have some fight in him.

My other good buddy, Terry, (also from Escondido) would say, " don't drop your gaff overboard, in the first place!"

Anyway, we had lost ours and we didn't want to lose this great fish, so
Dad grabbed the line and hauled the fish onto the deck and mom threw an old rug over its head.

The fish calmed down and stopped thrashing.

DAd quickly put the stringer through its gills and mouth and slit its gills, then he tossed it overboard to let it bleed out.

This is a quick way to kill it and the meat tastes better if you bleed it fast.
As he was doing this, I finally got a chance to inspect our fish closely.
It was a 20 pound female. Unlike the male Dorados, its head was rounded and small, instead of tall and blunt.

Its body was mostly silvery blue, except for the top of its back which was dark blue. She had neon green and yellow spots and its tail and fins were neon yellow also . She had a high, long dorsal fin and big, round green eyes.

Dorado are really one of the most beautiful fish I have ever seen.
They are also one of the most tasty fish I've ever eaten-and seeing as we really needed something fresh to eat out here, we were all excited.

My dad and I fillet it (i had to hold it, while dad made the cuts because it wouldn't all fit on the fish table), and then we put it in bags to go in the freezer for mom to cook for us.

Tonight, my mom will grill it with butter and tomorrow she will make Sashimi and sushi, once its cooled down.

We always take a moment to thank the fish for giving its life up for us.
It took us days and days to catch a fish out here but now we will have fresh food for a few days.

I think its really fun to be able catch and kill what you eat-
its not easy and it takes some practice but it pays off in a tasty meal!

Toau to Hilo: Day 12

Well, Raymond seems to be out of our hair, for the time being-awesome, big relief. I twas soooooo harshing my mellow, to have to read those warnings coming in every few hours!

The predictions have him looping back to land and its not expected to come all the way out here. Good news, for us and the other boats out here who are also heading for Hawaii. I know of at least ten of us, all spread out over hundreds to thousands of miles, coming from various ports of departure in the Southern Hemisphere. As the Northern Pacific hurricane season winds to a close (hopefully Raymond will be one of the last but they can continue through November), the South Pacific cyclone season is just gearing up, so everyone who didn't head for New Zealand, is, like us, looking for safety somewhere above the equator.

We had very calm and slow night watches (so calm, it was hard to stay awake actually!), the wind continued to drop and the cloud cover thickened, so we knew we must be getting close to the doldrums. The band is pretty thin right now, and with luck, we will be through in a few days and finding those North East trade winds. By morning, it was time to furl in the head sail and kick on the engine. Jon rigged up a splint for one of his hoses (to keep it from bending when he dropped it in the tank) and then lowered it into the fuel tank and pumped out as much water as he could from where it had collected on the bottom. It didn't look too bad and we are keeping a close eye on our Rancor filter, checking it every twenty minutes at first and now we are onto every hour--Jon has to shut the engine down and drain the water, until its all gone but that's okay for us... because we have to refill our oil every ten hours anyway! It leaks something fierce--one of the many things on Jon's BIG FIX list when we are in Honolulu.
Ahhh... good Ol' Perkie, bless her heart, is actually purring along and the transmission that Jon rebuilt in the middle of nowhere, also seems to be hanging in there and our bowsprit is still up there on the bow.

Things are looking pretty good, on DAY 12!
Knock. Knock. Knock.

Lat: 05*54.53N
SOG:6.2 knots (motoring)

Looking for Coordinates?

Suki stopped posting the daily coordinates in the blog entries, because they have resumed posting their location to the Yotreps map, which is under the "where are we" tab, above. Things may change, again, of course, but the "Where Are We" tab is a great way to keep track of them.

Toau to Hilo: Day 11

The wind graces us with a steady 12-15 knots, for twenty four hours...
the seas lie down and we relax into a much more comfortable beam reach.
If things go smoothly, today might be our half way mark-but we're gonna need a little dose out of that Bag of Luck we carry, to get through the next part.

One minute, the winds are fine, there's not a cloud in the sky, you're singing along to led Zepplin, rubbing sunscreen on your bellybutton and thinking what a lucky ducky you are... and an hour later you'll be pouring over the gribs trying to figure out if you can beat the tropical cyclone threatening to bear down on your little square of the map.
(if you're Jon) you'll stick your head in the engine room to flip on the water maker (which is working like a charm and replacing the three gallons a day we use), and you'll discover that the fuel filter is half full of water.

Jon's response to these things is always very methodical. He remains totally calm and reassuring and works his way through the information at hand and keeps it all cool as jellybeans...

My internal reaction is more along the lines of that Francis Bacon (or is it Munch) painting "the Scream" without Google really puts that memory to the test). I do my best to ask questions in a non-hysterical voice and seem calm (although my habit of wringing my hands, might give me away a teensy bit). I know we have no option other than to get through whatever comes up out here.

Tropical Storm "Raymond", who is temporarily downgraded from the cat 3 hurricane he was until yesterday--a rather mutable fellow, he just doesn't seem to know what he wants to be when he grows up--has us keeping an eye over our shoulders. The cyclonic low has been hanging around off the coast of Mexico for a few days but due to an unusual sheer, it's decided to spin South West...which is not great news for us, if he keeps coming this way.

Wind charts once again from See that empty white patch of doldrums just to the North of them, and Raymond off to the right.
Because of that weird trough we had coming our way in the ITCZ and now with big Ol' Raymond possibly coming to town, our plan is to move as quickly as possible and try to gun our way through the ITCZ and find our way to those North East trades and boogie for Hawaii before things start to really rumble in the jungle out here.

Right now, we are about 380 miles from that magical turning point where we hope to head West and make the rhumb line for Hilo. Things are great now: The wind, as I said, is being a total champ, and we're making a steady 5 knots. By tomorrow, we expect, this will fall apart on us and we will have to turn on our engine and burn through about 40 hours of diesel, to clear the doldrums and hopefully find those winds on the other side.

This is where that water in the fuel filter issue, is causing heart palpitations. Jon thinks the culprit was a grogged up o-ring in the deck intake where we load fuel into the boat. He said the cap, which is normally screwed down tightly, was a little loose when he checked it and looking at the O ring,  he saw it had gotten mucked up with sand and dirt--creating a compromised seal.

As I mentioned, we had a really bad bout of wave action and were taking heaps of water over the deck, so the seal leaked and got salt water into our fuel tank--that's what we're thinking anyway.

We've only had the engine on for an hour since we left Amyot (to chase after some sea birds in the hope we might catch a damn fish) and this most likely was when the fuel pump sucked up the seawater that had settled at the bottom of the tank ('cause gas and water don't mix).

There is no way for Jon to know how much water is in the tank, so we will have to check the filter every fifteen minutes when we do run the engine and if it gets half full, we will have to turn it off, drain it, and bleed the system and start the whole thing all over again and keep doing this until we get all the water out.

Fingers crossed its not too much!

I'm not sure if it translates how monumental a pain in the keister it is going to be to turn the engine off every fifteen minutes for a fuel filter change, while we are simultaneously trying to out run a cyclone.

(I would like to apologize, right now, to our family, for the high blood pressure this is causing them.)
The good news, is Jon is super-smart and he will figure it out--he always does.

Note for worried parents and friends: This is NOAA's map... Raymond's projected path does not bring them as far out as Jon and Suki, Kai and Hunter are. Unless something terribly unexpected happens, they are still safe! (Well... as safe as ever, out there on the open ocean, I guess...)

Its also totally beautiful out right now, the kids are great, we just made a yummy Indian lentil curry and garlic naan for dinner... and we're half way there!

Mom: Hey, kids, how do you keep from getting bored on a crossing?

How do you keep from getting bored out here?
Kai: I get bored sometimes but I try not to think of it like that because if I thought about being bored, it would be unbearable! I like it though, really because it gives you time to think your own thoughts and you can sail the boat, fish or read or watch a movie once in awhile. I also like it out here because its slow, everything is quiet and peaceful and I like that kind of a feeling (apparently my little sister doesn't though!). Its also really beautiful out here. Especially at sunset and when the moon is out.
All this makes it less dull to be on crossing but it's still better not to focus too much on counting the days.

How about you, Hunter, what do you do?
I Read, play with my dolls; play dress up. Sometimes we watch documentaries. My favorite thing though is going on night watch because we read, drink tea or cocoa, and look at the stars.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Song & Video - "Doldrums"

Toau to Hilo: Day 10 -- Why Not?

What a BEAUTIFUL crossing, we're so glad you came with us!

The seas were gentle and kind for the first time in weeks; the winds were perfect. The moon was in a glorious and festive mood, and she stayed up late for our little party; the sky was clear...

Orion was there, he's been chillin' off our Starboard quarter these days. The familiar constellation lies low in the sky and perfectly horizontal around here, so we like to think of him, like a giant teenager, stretched out on his side, propped up on his elbow, just hangin' out with us all night.

We have a bet going about who will spot our familiar old friend, Polaris, first, as we say a fond farewell to that Southern Cross, we were so lucky to get to know on our small journey, here below the fabled line.
It's been a rockin', mind-blowing, few months and much has changed in the hearts and minds of this crew of four since we first became Shellbacks six months ago. Hard to believe really, everything we saw and experienced, in such a short period of time. With full hearts, we had much to be grateful for last night as we banged our pots and sang to the sea and set adrift a rainbow of names and prayers.

Hunter and I baked a chocolate, "volcano cake" in honor of our Pacific Rim experience and our upcoming adventure to the big island of Hawaii where we will get to visit Volcano national park!
The kids opened their long-coveted bottle of Orangina, (reserved for just this occasion) and Jon and I poured a grog (on hand for many occasions) and we toasted our hail and hearty crew and honored great King Neptune with a splash and a dash and a serving of cake.

He must have liked the offerings because today was the fairest of all, so far. The current set in our favor and the winds were perfect and clocked around to put us on a beam reach--Pura Vida's favorite and fastest point of sail and we hauled along, doing 7 knots in 15 knots of wind.

We took the opportunity to rest and relax and lay in the sun, dawdling and day dreaming as the boat did all the work. Cooing thanks and praise to our trusty vessel, we patted her blistered and peeling brightwork (hard to believe, once I was so varnish-proud, actually named my blog, THE WET EDGE...TWELVE PEELING COATS is more like it these days). We promised to spoil her with long-needed attentions when we are laid up in Honolulu in a few months.

Our languid day wasn't entirely without purpose, though...
We were taking this day of intentional rest, due to the chance of more unsettled weather in our near future.

The ITCZ, which has been virtually non-existent for the past week has uncoiled its serpentine line over our upcoming Longitude. Not only that, but the weather fax shows a trough moving West, converging over our position, while the wind gribs show things becoming very squirrelly and backwards due to this low pressure system.

Screen capture of wind patterns from I've put their icon here to represent their approximate current position, but don't forget you can also see their current position under the "Where Are We?" tab, above. At Passage Weather, though, you can view wind, current, and other predictions, as well as current conditions.

Jon spends hours, everyday, pouring over our weather info and studying our course.

Any low pressure event, like a trough, will suck all the nice, steady winds, that we sailors look for, towards it. It creates a lot of confused, useless stuff, for hundreds of miles around it and generates moderate to severely yucky thunderstorms and squally conditions... and who needs that out here in the middle of nowhere, with 1500 miles still to go?

One thought was to move behind the bugger and miss out on all the chaos it would cause.

The problem with this is, looking at the gribs (and these can always be wrong, its weather after all and it often just does what it damn well pleases; not what some computer generated model says it should), we would have to backtrack like 500 miles to get behind it and once we do, it could hang around for ten days or so--by which time, we would not have very much food or propane left to make it the rest of the way to Hawaii...

Next idea?

Try to out run the sucker.

Well, we aren't exactly fast, so this would be bad idea if it was a storm but at the moment it doesn't look like that and if we adjust our course slightly to the North West, we might just beat it to our mark (the one where we want to turn West and head for Hilo) and get out ahead of it, where it won't affect those Northeast trades we're looking for.

Given our current wind and direction, this looks like the best option, so we shook out our reefs and picked up the pace. (Being a cruising boat, we like to keep it easy on our rig, so we take things nice and gentle, under shortened sail most of the time.)

If we can't outrun it, we might get popped and have to slog it out through whatever comes but at this point, we kind of have no choice.

The other thing that could happen (oh please, oh please. let this be what happens), is it could beat us there by a lot and have actually passed and dragged all its yucky business with it.

All the models we look at have this entire business a few days North of us, so this whole conundrum, involves much math and plotting, with wind and boat speeds and predicted and non predicted drift and the possibility that the gribs will be totally wrong and we will get something all together different than we expect.

Welcome to the carnival, fun-house ride of visiting the infamous, ITCZ!

For now, though, all is wonderful and glorious and as idyllic a day sailing in the South Pacific as one could dream up.

One thing we have certainly learned since setting out on this journey in the first place...
Is not to stress about it too much.

Sure, we keep an eye on the weather but at a certain point, if you're going to sail an ocean...
you're going to just have to deal with whatever comes up and worrying about something you can't control isn't going to change it.

Do your diligence, be prepared, and then... enjoy the day you have in front of you.

One of my favorite things about Valentine was that, even though her English is pretty great, somewhere along the line, she adopted this "Italian mama" thing... where she says things like "Mama Mia!" but when Gaston was heading out to do something that was crazy difficult or someone made a suggestion to her that might not be her ideal of what she wanted to do, she would just shrug her big, beautiful, chubby, shoulders and say in the most relaxed way possible,
"Why not?"
Like this released her from having any anxiety about the future, whatsoever.

I loved that.

So, when Jon says, 'OK, baby, lets shake out those reefs and we'll head this sucker off at the pass..."
I just take a breath, let it go, and say, C
"Why not?".

Toau to Hilo: Day 9 -- Our Watch

Hey there!

To all our venerable and wise, Honorary Shellbacks, our valued Virtual Crew and precious little Pollywog newbies out there...

Tomorrow morning, at roughly 7 AM-WCT, Pura Vida should be nosing her way across that infamous and imaginary line (there sure isn't any sign of it out here other than the numbers on our GPS!).

We have new names on cloth, beads on our necks, songs in our hearts and prayers on our lips to offer to our great ocean.

So set your watch and join us, with your morning cup of coffee, or as you walk the dog or ride the bus to school... and spend a few moments, to send some positive thoughts and vibrations to our planet.


Peace, love and using less plastic,

The Pura Vida tribe

DAY 9 POST: Our Watch
Last night, on my first watch, I finally had a chance to read the story Emily posted on the blog.

The past few days, we have been having better luck with wind but its been rather challenging in the seas department. Still desperately trying to make incremental Easting whenever possible, we have kept Pura Vida as close-hauled to the wind as we can. Our boat is not a race boat, so holding her 45* to the wind, takes some effort on all of our parts. Its not a comfortable way to sail for days and days on end--especially with three-meter, confused seas, three seconds apart, smacking us on the beam the whole time.

Jon finished up his watch at 9pm, traded off the harness we wear at night, gave me a kiss and headed below to grab his three hours of sleep before the next changing of the guard. There's little room for more than this brief exchange. We take turns, tumbling exhausted into our rolling, tilted bunk, and willing ourselves to ignore the chaotic creaking and smashing of waves and joinery (we actually wear ear plugs when trying to sleep), while the other shakes of the bone-ache and weariness to stand alone against the night and the spooky, capricious marauding of the dark sea.

Each of us knows what's to be done, to hold the course true, to set the sails for whatever comes, we sleep, knowing in absolute certainty that the Other will not fail the Watch of the long night.

Approaching the ITCZ has us on our toes. A warning notice, received over the SSB confirms the nearby position of a trough (nasty weather system) in our expected Longitude, and promises to keep us focused on getting well behind it, rather than if front of it.

Days run into nights and on it goes, in the cosmic cycle of our 24 hour life at sea. Removing oneself from the normal world of routines, all trivial pursuits, every ounce of concentration wrung into the undiluted intention of the vigilant guard we keep, over the safety of our boat and her precious cargo. The rest becomes lost, your sense of self, your prior existence, your relationship to anything other than the next wave, sheer of wind and shudder of sail. Memories float up and swirl past, released from subconscious dormancy, ghostly, nebulous jellyfish, they cling to one another in symbiotic colonies that defy understanding. Daydreams, strung together like loose gems on the feeble thread of desire; momentary distractions as you are slowly, slowly swallowed whole by the infinite blue, the horizontal line, the swirling stars, wandering moon and the fathomless wonder beneath you.

It was icky out, and having a good excuse to spend some time inside, I read that story Emily posted, and it made me sad...
because it is true.

Despite all my gooey, shamanic, transcendence, there had been, in the past 9 days at sea, very little to actually see or hear over the waves (besides the occasional, whimpering, squeak of my vanishing Ego).

Other than the King of the Mahi-Mahi, who regaled Hunter and I with his golden-green splendor, we had seen NO dolphin, whales, very few sea birds, no sharks, or other predators, nothing except two, giant (but deeply inedible) Black Skip Jack had even come to bite on our tasty looking lure...
even the flying fish (which, when I was a child and sailed the tropics were abundant) were few and far between. Not so far and long ago, a sailor on this passage, would literally have to scrape them off the deck every morning before the sun came up to keep the boat from stinking of fish.

The only thing not quiet about this place is the weather, which, with a sneaking guilt, I suspect is also likely due to the stained human hand, messing with our planet's thermostat. Our friends on Nakia (who are now 150 miles South-East of us, and also heading for Hilo) have done this crossing three times. They have also toured French Polynesia three times before, in years of more "normal" weather patterns. The other night over the radio, as we were swapping stories of woe and discomfort due to the large and irregular seas, they told us that this was by far the worst beginning to a Pacific crossing they had ever had... and this whole cruising season, had been one of unusual and wonky weather!

We had thought it seemed a little odd that people often refer to this as the "coconut run", what with all sorts of boats around us hunkering down, being hit by lightening or thrown onto reefs and us experiencing some of the trials we went through. We had nothing to compare it to and as such, made the most of the good days-of which there were way, way more than enough, to make it all worth it!

But the story made me sad.

To think that we were so grossly affecting our planet in such a way, that we may never be able to reset it, made me feel futile and small and the ocean around me seemed as empty as a blue Mars.

I went to bed depressed.

Three hours later, I staggered out of my my bunk and ran the usual gauntlet of reaching the deck in a dark and jerking boat; slammed into a bulkhead, head first, careened down the companionway, smashing my shins and then my elbows, found my foulies on the floor in the main salon where I had dropped them in an exhausted stupor...

I climbed up the ladder, took the harness from Jon, gave him a kiss and sat down to stare out at the shadowed grey of a cloud-covered pre-dawn.

The wind was fair but we were making excellent speed, so we had found some favorable current. The weak Front that we had passed under during the night was showing signs of lifting as the first rays of morning snuck over the horizon.

I set out the fish lures, and sat on the empty cooler that we have strapped to our aft deck (where once upon a time, we carried rare luxuries, like beer and lemonade). This is the best seat in the house, as from here, I can see the length of the boat right to our bowsprit and the set of the sails was perfect and even though the seas were still big and lumpy Pura Vida was nosing over them, with grace and determination.

Something caught my eye off the beam.

I couldn't believe the size of it, when first I saw it.
I had to shake the sleep off, before I knew what I was looking at.

This was a really, really, big shark.

Photo by Robin Baird, borrowed from Cascadia Research.

Not fifteen yards from the boat, (he must have been at least fourteen feet long) a massive, Oceanic White Tip Shark glided slowly towards our hull, checking us out.

His curved dorsal fin was longer than my outstretched arms and as he was just cruising casually on the surface, I could see him perfectly: The wide body, graceful pectoral fins, stretched out wide, his impossibly long, thick tail, swishing slowly back and forth setting whirlpools spinning in his wake.

As he surfed the crest of a small wave, I saw that great, black eye...
take me in.

That moment, for me, shattered into a thousand pieces of Time.

It took about five seconds and with a stunning thrash of his massive tail, he disappeared beneath the waves.

I felt as humbled as if I had knelt before the temple at Delphi and was given an audience with the Goddess herself.

Sharks are, of all the sea's creatures, one of the oldest.

They have struggled and flourished, in our planet's oceans for millions of years...
and they know a thing or two about survival.

I was incredibly blessed to glimpse this rarely seen animal, in this way, especially on this morning.

It felt like the Universe had sent an emissary from the Deep,
with a message from the Planet;
that it is not too late.

Whether we like it or no, we have been given the helm.

It is up to each of us, to take responsibility for the safety, well being, freedom and happiness of all Earth's beings (including our own, marvellous, fumbling species).

To guide our beautiful, planet-ship and protect it, with all the skills that we have, from whatever harm it faces,
to do everything possible, to fix what we might have broken,
for the sake of our fellow creatures and our children.

It is their future...
and this is OUR watch.

Toau to Hilo: Day 8

Be sure to check out the "Where Are We" tab ... we couldn't post to it for a while, but it's now showing our progress again!

If you're interested in how the equator and ITCZ work, here's our post from last time we crossed it, to help explain: April 12, 2013

Lat: 02*21.01 S
Long:144* 56.70 W
COG:25 true
24 HOUR RUN:117

Atoll People -- By Kai

Life on an Atoll and life in a city are very different.

There is a lot more effort put into getting the everyday basics that we take for granted,
like food, shelter, fuel, water.

Gaston and Valentine get most of these things by using the natural resources available to them or trading for the things they do not have.

When Gaston wanted to rebuild his dock, he didn't go to Home Depot. He and my dad and two other men, went to go to another Atoll to cut down trees that would make long enough planks to support his dock--there were no trees on his motu that were the right type for building. This meant, he had to take his boat to the other atoll, get someone to drive the boat and hold it outside the reef, while HE jumped out of the boat (he had to jump four feet from the boat to the edge of the reef and the drop off from the edge of the reef here is 900 feet!), while holding his CHAIN SAW ABOVE HIS HEAD, and then wade to shore (past all the sharks), run a mile through the forest and cut down thirteen trees and carry them on his shoulder BACK to the beach, swim them out to the boat (through the break), haul them into the boat, take them back to his motu, leave them on the beach to dry for a day and then beat them with sticks to get the bark off.. finally, at the end of the day, he had his thirteen poles.

This is just one example of how hard they have to work to do each little thing, where they live.

The thing about the way they do things, that is unique, is how connected they are to their environment.
They feel like everything they need--they already have.

Things that they cannot get from the natural resources around them, like gasoline for their engines or flour for baking or stuff that we take for granted, like light bulbs and batteries..they trade for.

They trade fish that they catch, copra from coconut husks, Valentine also runs a small cafe and gets paid by visiting cruisers for her lobster dinners in either cash or trade items (like, dish soap, clothing, and chocolate).

Living the way that these people do, as opposed to my culture, where we go to the store for everything we need, makes them more conscious of what is happening to the natural world around them and because of this, they never take it for granted.

They are very careful about how they treat the motu and the reef because their lives depend on it, completely.

They only fish for what they need or take what they need.

One sad thing we learned when we were there, is that they never tell cruisers their secret spot for lobsters because they are afraid they will go and take them all--like the one time they told someone where to hunt for coconut crabs, that person went and took 15 crabs! A full grown coconut crab is 10-15 years old... by taking so many, this person wiped out the entire population of crabs on that motu. When we asked them how they felt about cruisers after this, they said, that they understand that many people form the city do not understand how the "natural things work".

Life on an Atoll: Catching fish in nets -- By Hunter

When I was in Anse Amyot, I did many things that were different than the way we do things at home. For one thing, almost nothing is bought from a store. Gaston and Valentine trade for most of the things that they need but first they have to get things to trade, like fish that they catch. This is a story  I wrote about one of the ways that Gaston catches fish.

I'm not exaggerating,these details actually happened--all of them!
My mom is typing it for me because today is too rough for me to type very well.
(I wrote this one a while ago.)

Yesterday, Kai, Gaston, John (not my dad, another cruiser with the same name, spelled JOHN) and my dad and I, went to go fishing with nets. We wanted fish for a party Valentine was making for other cruisers. This is one of the ways they earn money for buying the few things that they need to buy. She also trades with cruisers, like, if they bring her flour or butter, she will make them a special dinner or make them a necklace made of black pearls that they farm.

We all set out with hats and good shoes because we would be on coral (razor sharp coral) with the HUGE net we also brought. Everyone got into Gaston's boat and he sped off, as we started to go, I asked;
"am i going on the reef with you guys?"

"No" said my dad "You stay in the boat with John, so you can pull up the net and get the fish out of it."

A little while later we were dodging coral heads in about two to three INCHES of water (this almost gave me a heart attack as the boat could have sunk if it hit one and we would be stuck on the reef). At last, after some breath taking moments, we stopped.

Gaston suddenly said, "Kai! You go near da shore, you see tha poisson, you say, "AHHHHHHH!" and make them run! Then I go with your Pappa and we come with the net and then we catch them!".
So everyone went to their stations and we began the hunt.

I was far away so I only saw splashing and fish jumping everywhere and I even saw a Black Tip Reef shark in all the commotion. Twenty minutes later (it seemed like three because I was having fun, even in the boat), we were taking the net from the boys.

As John started to take the Parrot fish out of the net (by the way, these were the only fish that we wanted because;
1) No ciguatara -something that gets in fish, usually reef fish and it makes you very sick and you could die if you get it.
2)Its Valentine and Gaston and everyone else's favorite tasting fish!

He said, "hey, you are supposed to help me!"
"Wha..."I said, looking at the slimy, poopy fish flopping all over the place (Parrot fish poop everywhere when they are scared). Then I just started to grab them and take them out of the net.

"be careful of the beaks', John said, showing me a cut he had just gotten that minute from the sharp mouth of the fish (we call it a beak).

I looked at all the fish snapping at us...
"Wow. Okay, lets do this thing" I said.
There were about fifty fish in the net that we had to get out!
Finally, dirtily, we finished.

Everyone got into the boat and we started to go home.
My dad looked at me and said, "Kind of a blue job, huh?"
(my mom uses this saying, all the time, Blue jobs are usually gross and Pink jobs are nice)
But I thought it was fun!

Toau to Hilo: Day 7

Kai and Hunter performing the first Shellback ceremony, last year.
At noon we marked the end of our first week of this crossing!

The first week out is usually the hardest, mostly because it takes that long to get everything settled and sorted and properly stowed. No more objects (or unsealed bags of flour) suddenly flying at you if the cupboard pops open on a bad wave.

Everyone has their sea-legs; the rough days are annoying but not quite the same endurance test of the first few days.

We celebrated with a fancy "Dunch"-this is our dinner/lunch combo and the main meal of every day. We ate up the last of the delicious lobsters from Taou in a ginger and sesame noodle stir-fry, and had a little toast, thanking the winds for their blessings (we are heading on a much better course today) and wishing for safe passage on the rest of the trip. We counted our blessings as we looked around at our wide blue "living room" and felt humbled yet again by the wild magnitude of it all.

Now, for the really big news...

We are on course to cross the equator in the next 48 hours!

Once again, we would love to invite everyone to join us in our PROJECT SHELLBACK campaign and help us raise awareness for our Oceans and what we can all do to protect them. If you are new to our little mission, simply click under the PROJECT SHELLBACK tab and it will explain all about it.

For you Old Salts that came with us on our last trip and are already "Honorary Shellbacks" then great, this time you get to play the part of King Neptune for the uninitiated Pollywogs!

(Lets see how many new Pollywogs you can get to sign on and become part of our community!)

As we approach the equator, Kai and Hunter will be adding updates to the blog, giving facts about our oceans (and coral reefs) and what we can all do in our daily lives to help protect them.

The names of new initiates will be written on tiny, biodegradable pieces of fabric and tossed into the sea in a symbolic gesture of our collective commitment to help protect and care for our planet.

We hope you'll join us on this amazing adventure...


The Pura Vida tribe.


COG:005 True
SOG;4.6 knots

Article: The Ocean is Broken

Hello! This is Emily, the blog-maintainer while Jon and Suki are away from Internet. I do post the blogs (as you read them, here) which they send over SSB as text files, but, since they can't access the internet for photos, links, news, etc. they have asked me also to post any interesting ocean- and conservation-related links, videos, and articles I find...

This caught my eye, today:

The Ocean is Broken -- an article by Greg Ray

"What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
"The birds were missing because the fish were missing."

Toau to Hilo: Day 6

This one is for those of you who are, maybe, more "virtual sailors" than our other followers who happen to know way, way, more than we (probably ever will), about all this navigating across oceans business.

If you are an armchair adventurer, who is interested in seeing what we look at to figure out how to get a sailboat across an Ocean and from point A to Point B (unfortunately, sometimes this can only be done by going from point D to W first), then here are some ways you can join in on our experience from the comfort of your cozy, fridge-filled, water-abundant, non-moving, homes :)....

You can check out the weather and wind forecasting thing that we sailors do by looking at Predict Wind or Passage Weather. If you are super-keen you can even order "grib files" and use our positions-which is how we do it out here at sea, over the SSB radio, when there is no internet or VHF or marine broadcast to let us know what's brewing in this neck of the woods.

The Grib files are sent to us twice a day.
We also get weather forecasts from NOAA in Hawaii, alerting us to all the warnings and watches pertaining to the North Pacific. You will need to get your atlas out to read these ones because everything is given in Lat/Long and it takes some getting used to!

If the gribs look like gobbly-gook to you and seem confusing....welcome to the club.

It does help to know a few basics in order for it to make sense, though:

If you are looking at wind "grib" files, there are lots of confusing straight lines with little feathery bits on that kind of look like "arrows"...
These are a "quick look" for wind speeds.
For example, 1 feather=light winds
Lots of feathers-heavy winds.
Same goes for the color-scheme thing...
Pale colors= light air.
Hot pinks or worse, purples=Yikes!
When you read the grib you look at the direction the arrow is coming from and that is how you name your wind direction;
a light green line with one feathery bit that starts closest to North and the straight end of the line slants TOWARDS the West...would be called a "light, North West wind". You name the wind form the direction it originates in-not where its headed. Make sense?

Weather sure is tricky to read and navigating without using your engine and only sails to push you along on it-and factoring in all the currents, cross-currents, lows and squalls that push things every-which-way makes it even harder! When you sail on the wind, you can only hold your boat at a certain angle to the wind-this means constantly changing your course- it is Kind of like a really hard chess game, where there are rules but they can change or just simply not apply sometimes!

As far as weather and crew morale go, today was a WAY better day out here in wonderland.

I started dawn watch under a clear night sky, with a good wind (though still an annoyingly Northerly wind) and relatively calm seas. I spent the sunrise on the aft deck, tying a new lure to our fishing rod and watching the sun come up on one side of us while the full moon set on the other.
If that sun had only been coming up in front of us, instead of to our starboard, aft, quarter, everything would have been perfect!

(Hey, home-school kids at home... can you figure out where I want to be heading from that last riddle?)

The wind IS cooperating bit by bit and by this afternoon it began to work its way ever-so-slightly more North/East and we could hold a better course. At this point, we are happy to hold our line towards Hilo, Hawaii-instead of Christmas island, where we have been pointed for the past few days!

(added the little boat icon to show current location)

If you take our position and look at a map, you will see the "Line islands" of Kiribati just below Hawaii.
"Why don't you sail over there and then straight up to Hawaii?", the sensible, arm chair adventurer might ask...

Good question.

Kiribati sounds fascinating and I would really love to see Fanning Island and the protected atoll famous for the world's largest population of coconut crabs...but there are two reasons that while this is not impossible to do, it is not the choice for most sailors returning from French Polynesia;

1)They don't have Dairy Queen anywhere in the island nation of Kiribati.

2) The winds are not favorable for sailing to Hawaii from there.
We sailors use those North East trade winds to make Hilo comfortably from 140 degrees or so Longitude but Fanning is slightly east of Hawaii, making it virtually impossible for a boat like ours, and besides, ending up anywhere near the Southern tip of the big island has an added issue, created by the stunning, 13,000 foot mountains of the Kona coast that create massive Katabatic winds and the effects of these babies can extend 100 miles out to sea!

On a map (or the NAV X, program that we use on the ipad for our navigation) draw a line from Hilo to our current position and you will see why this is a better way to go.

You will also see why we had hoped to make more Easting than where we are currently headed (it would have given us a better cushion in case we got pushed off course again), but we are hoping we can make this up before we make that turn to Hawaii.

The squalls of the past few days have (thankfully) left us for the moment, and we find ourselves in a sublime patch of ocean with moderate/light seas (which for us, is like 8-10 foot waves) and 15-17 knot winds and perfect, warm, clear skies.

Hunter spent the day making paper bats to decorate the boat for Halloween. Kai kept his nose firmly pressed in a book other than when he helped me furl the jib or put a reef in the mainsail (having a big kid is a total joy for poor old mom because he takes over all my winching jobs when he's awake!) and Jon puzzled over our routing and re-stitched our canvas sea-bucket for the millionth time (this is how we bring sea water aboard for wash-up jobs) and I happily traded the foulies for my bikini and put on some of Grandma Sara's awesome mixes of music that she gave us before we left and we all danced and fully enjoyed the incredible fantasy that sailing the Southern Pacific can become some days.

Ahhh...if only it could stay like this for 1600 more miles !

Lat: 05*49.77S
Long: 145*19.16W
(shown above on the map)
Course: 355T
Speed: 15 knots

Toau to Hilo: Day 5

First of all, let me just say that if you notice a distinct lack of poetry, style, wisdom, etc. in this post it is because Suki is stone cold asleep and you are stuck with a Captains Blog.

Day 5 was a doozy. More specifically, night 5 was a doozy. We were swallowed up by a giant inky cloud monster that didn't spit us out again until well after daybreak.

Crazy seas, sideways rain and howling winds would hammer us for chunks of time and then vanish, leaving us stumbling around in the dark, trying to pick up the pieces and get ready for the next round.

It wasn't that the conditions were so strong as to be unmanageable but they were so inconsistent that it didn't allow you to let your guard down. Hitting these little calm pockets in the middle of the night leaves you with no steerage, jerking around in the still angry swell, crashing and banging and beating the shit out of the rig and the crew's nerves. If you roll out the jib again you inevitably get smacked with another squall line, putting you on your side and scrambling to shorten sail.

Needless to say this is not conducive to getting any sleep. The kids stay down below and huddle in a pile of sweaty limbs and underpants on the makeshift sea-berth in the main salon that we have dubbed the "nest". Mommy and I take turns trying to outguess Mother Nature's next move while coaxing Pura Vida in something like the right direction.

This is part of our problem at the moment. In order to have a decent run to Hawaii from the ITCZ just north of the equator we HAVE to make a certain amount of easting. This weather system which appears to want to hang around for a few more days is heading us just perfectly so that we are forced off to the northwest, losing our hard-earned easting faster than we made it. If we switch to port tack, the closest we can hold to the wind, current and swell has us on a heading of 120*... Essentially opposite the direction of Hawaii.

Our friends on Nakia who are about 12 hours behind us at this point and on a boat that won't sail quite as close to the wind have opted to try port tack. We have decided to hold to starboard tack with the hope that as we get farther north the wind angle will become less steep and we will be able to make up the lost easting, or some of it, between the equator and the ITCZ (somewhere around 8* north). So.... there's that.

On a brighter side, let me take this moment to talk about the God's gift to the Galley that we have aboard this vessel. One of the things that always comes up on our evening chat over the SSB with the Nakia folks is what was on the menu for the day. A couple of days of this and we (the kids and I) realize that we have been taking for granted the gourmet wizardry and heroic effort required to keep coming up with amazing meal after amazing meal when you haven't seen a fresh vegetable or a store of any kind in seven weeks. Nakia would be like "We just ate sea-biscuits and a can of Veg-all" and we'd say "Oh?!... Well, we're having black bean and chicken chili (with home-canned chicken) and Tamales (made from scratch) with a salsa and some (again, home-canned) roasted peppers canned in a sherry vinaigrette... Oh yeah and some fresh fish battered and fried on the side. The next day Nakia has re-fried beans and rice on the menu. We have pasta with four of those lobster tails I had grabbed with Gaston during the all-nighter on the reef... in a shallot and white wine sauce AND an ice cold bottle of white wine carefully and lovingly saved for just such an occasion. At this point we decided we were definitely on the right boat.

It's not just that you have to be a great cook to come up with this stuff. You have to be so full of love and determination to even bother TRYING to come up with this stuff on passage. As previously described, this is not an environment that inspires your average chef to want to spend a couple of hours getting flung around a tiny, boiling hot galley, surrounded by things breaking and spilling and trying to dodge boiling oil. Most passage-makers end up losing weight not because they have no food but because after a few days they become so exhausted that they can't be bothered to make food... Not so with our Suki. No sleep, half frozen, par-boiled, half asleep, beat up, sleep deprived, upside-down, did I mention tired... Somehow she manages to do the impossible and keep all of our spirits bolstered with her culinary delights...and she sails the boat...and home-schools the kids... and she writes these blogs (which I find nearly impossible to do)... and she's cute as shit in her foulies (another near-impossibility).
Let's hear it... on three.... three cheers for Suki... Hip Hip Hooray!!!!!!!!!

Wind chart. Jon and Suki are currently just west of the Marquesas Islands. The lines indicate wind direction, with their tails, behind, indicating speed (more tail; more speed).

LONG:144*27.38W (crap!)
COG:310 TRUE (double yeesh)
WIND: 14 knots
SOG: 3.5 knots (double-reefed, trying not to go too fast in the wrong direction)

24 hour run: 84 miles

Toau to Hilo: Day 4

Things settled down into downright tranquilo last night. We sure weren't setting any 24 hour distance records moving along at 4 knots but the calm sea was a welcome change to the thrashing stampede of the past few days.

The only issue is the wind had been coming around more and more and pushing us West, so we have lost much of the East we were gaining for the first few days. This is a huge annoyance and entirely unavoidable, so for now, we ignore our GPS, which is not showing us making the track we want, and try and just go North, hoping we make up our lost Easting when the winds return to their normal pattern. There is plenty of room out here in the big sea, so we feel its better to relax and see what comes than get too anxious about a few variations this early on.
Of course, we have no idea what we're doing--so hopefully, this will work out for us!

Jon fixed the fridge, with some mechanical wizardry that involved banging various things with a hammer. The last time they went awry, he dutifully took the motors and pumps apart and cleaned everything and put it together with painstaking care and it worked fine for a week but I think this display of restrained violence helped both the water intake pump and the fridge motor to remember who was actually boss around here and they grudgingly complied.

First on our wish list (someday) is a nice air cooled fridge with something SLIGHTLY less than the forty amp drawing beast that we currently operate--but hey, the thing is thirty years old and it still runs most of the time, so there ya go. This is the trick about cruising on a limited budget: you just do what you CAN. Sure, we are envious of people who don't have to worry about water or power while they are out in the middle of the nowhere--or their transmissions, or heat exchangers or any other thing relating to a thirty year old engine and boat--but its not impossible to do with a lesser, or not-so-efficient or slightly crumbly version of the same shiny new thing. In fact, it makes me sort of sad that so many people these days won't go cruising because they think they have to have EVERYTHING just perfect. A sound hull, good rigging and sails and a willingness to keep on top of everything and not expect it to go smoothly has gotten plenty of sailors around the world before--and hey, new stuff breaks too, right?

A beautiful night sail, we fall into watches, laugh with the kids, stare at the sea, read, read, read and spend HOURS talking about what we each want to eat when we make landfall again: Ice cream, hamburgers, spinach, club sandwiches, berries, REAL milk, yogurt... Never, ever, take these things for granted. They are small miracles and the fact that they are readily available is a thing we will never let slip our gratitude, again. The closest fresh produce, available to us at this moment and for the next 20 days or so, is slowly passing us to Starboard, 208 miles, East, in the Marquesas. A two day sail is a long way to go for a mango, so I think we'll just tough it out with canned peaches until Hilo.

I was taking advantage of the relative calm and having a luxurious sponge bath (with a whole HALF a kettle of hot water) on deck this morning and watching the sun come up, when I noticed a few birds ahead. 'I should put a line in", I thought, but O was covered in soap, so... Not moment later, a flock of flying fish burst out of the waves alongside the boat, followed by a HUGE, Mahi-Mahi, leaping and jumping, clear out of the water, hunting them in a spectacular, flourish of air-borne predation. The golden sunrise, glinted off his green and turquoise body, the huge yellow head and sharp, peaked tail flashed and glinted as he leapt out of each wave and soared after his quarry. It was like watching some sort of aquatic dragon. Hunter came on deck just then, and sat with me in stunned awe, as we observed the glorious fish in action... with us in the best seats in the house.

This photo photo of a Mahi-Mahi ---> Flying Fish chase is borrowed with gratitude from Katie at the Toodles cruising blog.

As much as we LOVE fresh, Mahi-Mahi sashimi, I was happy we had not gotten our line in that time, so we could just be witness to this incredible natural display... Besides, with our recently cooled fridge, I have six huge lobster tails that need to be put on the grill tonight, so why be greedy?

Kai's Mahi Mahi facts:
Habitat: Swim rapidly in open water, generally in small aggregations of one or two bulls and several females (mom and Hunter saw a Bull).
More abundant in warmer years, they are circumtropical and subtropical.
Brilliant silver and display bright yellow and yellow-green and blue irridescent spots and washes.
The females display brilliant iridescence and washes with blue markings on head.

COG:329 TRUE ( yeesh)
WIND: 8 knots
SOG: 2.8 knots

24 hour run: 96 miles :-(

Toau to Hilo: Day 3

One thing that's hugely different about this crossing than our last, is we spent no time at all, sailing willy-nilly, hoping for decent enough wind to get us to the trades. As soon as we "jumped out the door" at Taou and put up our sails, we were off to the races.

The Tuamotos lies directly in the trade wind belt, and from moment one of this trip, we've been hauling along in 15-25 knots. Unfortunately, the winds are at an unusually North/East angle ( not what the gribs said when we left) so our hopes of making as much Easting as we originally wanted to, are diminishing by the day. Last night, at the end of Jon's 12-3am watch, the series of squalls he had been subjected to organized into more of a front and the rest of the night (my watch) was a whole lot of heavy wind and building waves. I ended up slowing us to a crawl hoping that most of it would pass without hammering us too much. Hunter came on deck at dawn, took one look at the sunrise trying to squeeze some of its splendor under the low-lying, leaden clouds and declared, "Yucky".

As the skies popped open with a fresh downpour and a cold gust of 30 knot wind hit us, she clipped into her little harness, gamely grabbed the furling line and tailed for me, as I cranked in the headsail for the fifth time in three hours, once again waking poor ol' Jon who was trying to sleep off an inner ear infection during his off watch.

The good news is, nothing lasts forever, especially at sea, and six hours later, all had settled down and the Mexican antibiotics which I had luckily scrawled "Ear Infection" on the outside of the box (the paper from the doctor describing what they were all for has somehow become waterlogged and unreadable and Lord knows I would never in million years know what they were for now), had taken affect and Jon no longer looked like someone had hit him in the jaw with a sledgehammer.

We met for morning coffee as I came off watch and Jon went on (you really do miss your "other half" on two-hander, long passages and shared times, like meals or a half a glass of sloshing wine at sunset become like mini-dates) and began our new ritual of morning check-in with our friends on SV Nakia. Neither Jon nor I have our Ham radio tickets--the test was not offered before we left on our trip or any time we could have taken it in La Paz--so we aren't able to check in on any of the other radio nets like Pacific Seafarers. Twice a day, at 7am and at 5pm we check in with John and Linda and trade position reports and updates, talk about what we ate for dinner,  say hi to their cat and our kids and generally enjoy the moral support of knowing that somewhere out there, other people as crazy as you, are doing this same, crazy and wonderful thing. They are smaller than us and have a different sail configuration, so even though they left three hours ahead of Pura Vida, we are about 46 miles apart now. Last night, they went through the same nasty weather as we did and lost the screws holding their staysail in place (not a good thing on a windward leg) and this morning, our fridge pump broke again (Jon had already fixed it once before we left Taou), so it was nice to commiserate with friends about what a joy ocean crossings can be sometimes.

As I write this, the seas have settled for the time being. Jon is on deck thinking out how he will repair our pump (yes we have three spares but they are all old or broken now as well) and I am considering my meal plans if I have to cook four huge lobster tails and three weeks worth of preciously stowed salami and cheeses that we had been saving for this crossing. The good news is, that since we haven't been to a store in six weeks-there wasn't much fresh stuff anyway!

So it goes.
Now, for that sloshy sunset (warm) wine date...


Heading 13*True at 4 knots

24 HOUR RUN: 110 miles

Toau to Hilo: Day 2 -- Soulship

I'm pretty sure it's sailing upwind that classifies this odd obsession as a sport. When one is heading downwind, there is much rolling and lolling and things are certainly unstable but it is when you are rushing along as close hauled to the wind as the boat can handle, that it really puts both ship and crew to the test-physically, anyway. I feel like I've done 5000 sit-ups in the past 48 hours.

It's excellent fun though, especially when the days are warm and sunny and the ocean is 86 degrees, so when it comes surging over the rails and whapping you in the face, it makes you laugh --most of the time.
Jon has been driving us as hard East as we can make, so it feels a little like being on a race boat (with a large handicap) and so far, both boat and crew have been handling it pretty smartly. Jon is consumed with our navigation, plotting and re-plotting our heading, depending on what we get of trade winds balanced by the inconsistent squalls and small fronts that pass by and toss everything into a jumble. His hope is that by putting up with a bit of a hard-to-wind beating now, we can make enough Easting to give us plenty of wiggle room when we turn for Hawaii-and perhaps we can make the last leg on a beam reach and things aboard might settle into something less...athletic.

Long gone are my fears of handling the boat myself in anything more than 25 knots. I know her (and how she sails in different conditions) well enough to avoid the worst of the flapping and smashing of sail and ropes that used to intimidate me and at last, I have a keener eye when it comes to squalls and the unpleasant little surprises that lay inside them. The kids are a couple of sea hardened whelps, poking rumpled heads through the hatch and declaring, "what a day!" and stripping naked to stand in the gusty, roaring, downpour of a passing squall before disappearing into whatever corner of deck or cabin they have deemed their "spot for the day".

These past night watches are the first I can remember, where we had the moon in full view at the beginning of a journey. In the past, it seems we've always managed to head off shore at moon dark--which makes the first, freaky, night watches even freakier... but these past two have been lovely. The moon hangs directly above us, bright as a polished egg, edging the clouds with silver and turning the great ocean swell rolling under us into a vast and liquid, black pearl.

I haven't read a single word of anything so far this trip. I have stacks of stuff that I'm dying to get to but just being out here this second time around, has put a real ponder on me.  I can stare and stare (with slightly less trepidation than the last time out) and the wonder of it all is even more enormous. Its not like I'm coming up with any profound thoughts or anything, simply sitting and looking seems to scrape the soul completely clean and even though this poor, tired, body is slightly ravaged by the careening of my soulship, inside all is completely chill and serene.

Looking up at the epic, horizon-less night sky is like having a tiny peephole into the mystery of our little corner of the universe, and from 12*04.28S X 144*04.01W... its all good, baby.

24 hour run- 122 miles.

HUNTER and KAI's tips:

Hi everybody!
We just spent six weeks learning about and exploring a coral reef and living with people who's survival also depends on this resource. The main thing you notice, when you spend any time on a reef is how incredibly beautiful they are but they are fragile too. COral reefs are being threatened around the globe by human activities such as boat groundings, overfishing, and pollution. Just like protecting endangered species and natural habitats like, rain forests, glaciers, deserts and wetlands... it will be up to us, humans, to stop the damage being done to them and learn how to protect our planet for future generations.

Here's some things you can do to KEEP OUR WONDERFUL, AMAZING, PLANET, HAPPY...

Adopt a Wild Animal
A symbolic adoption helps save real animals in the wild.

Take Action
Send a message to government leaders about the issues that concern you.

Speak Up for Wildlife
Learn how you can be a powerful advocate for wildlife.

Stay Informed
Sign up to receive instant alerts and updates about important issues affecting wildlife.

Become a Defender of Wildlife

of your 'ADOPTED" animal or habitat on you iphone or computer so you can inspire other people to do the same thing.

Here are some resources to help you do these things:
Marine Conservation Organizations
Organizations to Follow on Twitter
Top 100 Environmental Organizations

Toau to Hilo: DAY 1

After one last free dive under the boat and a final farewell to the incredible under water world of Anse Amyot, we dropped our lines and headed out the pass. Gaston and Valentine blew their Conch and we blew our ship's whistles and honked our air horn and headed out to sea.

The first day out, especially on a long, windward passage, is a bit of a butt-kicker. We have to sail Pura Vida as hard on this fresh ESE wind as we can to claw our way as far E as possible, before turning NW for Hawaii. Our goal is 140W by 002N-about 1000 miles from here-before we can head for Hilo. That tricky ICTZ is also waiting for us up there above the equator, and its sure to throw some navigational curve balls at us as well, but we will deal with that gremlin when we get up there. Its a rocking, thrashing, heeled at 30*, way to live for the next ten days or so...but there you go.

All things considered, our progress so far has been good. We're under a double-reefed main, with our Cutter sail and Yankee jib out and we're making 6 knots, on a lively, 2 meter sea.

The kids are snoozing off the woozies, Jon and I are finding our way into to our groove out here again and once we all get our appetites back and our tired, aching muscles get used to all the balancing and the bouncing, it'll be almost time to hang that left!

24 Hour Run: 138 miles
Lat. 13*54.00 South
Lon. 145*01.96 West
SOG:6.1 knots
COG:25 true

Outbound Taou...Inbound Hilo!

A pile of projects, as we readied ourselves and our boat for another adventure...

Hunter and Valentine baked baguettes on shore ( cooked over a wood-fire, in an old, steel diesel drum), while
Jon and Kai stowed all our dive gear-which for the four of us is a pretty considerable pile of stuff. Pura Vida is usually the boat in the anchorage with "Sanford and Sons" look, cluttered with wet suits, tanks, paddle boards, surfboards and wet towels and laundry, hanging from her safety lines.
We all dove the boat and scraped her clean of barnacles and I said my final farewell to "Oliver" the giant bumphead wrasse, who lives under us.
Jon disassembled our compressor to stow it away in our shower while I worked in the galley prepping meals in anticipation of the first rough week of offshore weather. This time around, we have our passage-making routine down to a science. I know how many pre-prepared meals will get me through the first week of settling back into our sea-routine and keep tired bellys full without demanding too much from me in the galley. Over the past few days, I dug into our stores and cooked up comfort foods; chicken pot pies and tuna casseroles, chicken chili, beef stews and lots of  muffins, cakes and cookies. Looking at our stores I cant believe how light we are to make such a long voyage. NO fresh food, almost no dairy, practically no simple snacks like potato chips. We are doing it the way it has been done for centuries before...make it from scratch or catch it from the sea. I'm sure we have enough for the three week crossing, plus two more weeks ( in case of emergency) but it will be tight. Jon got our meager water maker running again, so we can once more crank out a gallon and hour if we have to. The thing is thirty years old and we have repaired it five times already-so this is really an emergency only, kind of thing and we will rely on good old fashioned conservation to get us through the next three weeks.
John (our skipper friend from SV Nakia) and our Jon put their Captain heads together about weather and routing, swapping notes and ideas on the passage to Hilo. Nakia will also be sailing for Hilo and even though we will almost certainly, never see each other ( our boat is quite a lot longer than theirs is), its nice to know that we will have friends somewhere out there in all that wide expanse of Blue.
The kids got their sea-berth ready, relinquishing the forward V-berth to make room for easy access to stowed sails.
Jon and I worked like mad getting everything else we could think of ready for this next challenging leg of our adventure.

Last night , we said goodbye to our hosts and it was an emotional farewell for everybody.

Gaston and Valentine were so kind to us and we all became like family.
They made a lovely goodbye dinner for us and Nakia-who they are also very close to as Nakia as been here twice before.
We ate roasted pig and lobster calzones, they gave Jon a sea-urchin spine necklace-which now hangs next to the boar tusk one he was given in the Marquesas.
They  also gave me tons of smoked  parrot fish and Teno and Maiete gave us six lobsters, as well...
so we will continue to eat like kings, in our weeks at sea!

There is so much to say about what we learned and experienced here.

The storm and the boat repair, working for Gaston and Valentine, living off the land and actually living WITH these people for the past month, and of course, diving and snorkeling the amazing coral reef  here, everyday.

It was just an incredible journey for all of us.

As we make the final preparations this morning to head to sea for the next month, I hear Gaston blowing his massive Conch shell from the end of his dock, bidding farewell to Nakia as they drop their mooring lines and head out the pass.

We all run on deck to wave and they shout..."See you at Dairy Queen!" to us as we smile and say silent prayers for their safe passage.

As I write this, Jon is doing his final engine check and we are moments away from heading out to sea.

Once again, we will be on our own out there, for weeks and weeks, on our great mother ocean.

This journey will test our seamanship and navigation even more than the last, because we will be sailing upwind... but its not our first time anymore, and we've now added a little bit of experience to that "Big Bag of Luck" we've been dipping into!

Here's hoping our next post is in fresh winds and fair seas and we are, as Hunter said this morning when she woke up...
"Finally! Heading towards my grandmas, again!".

The Lobster and the Dairy Queen

A couple of weeks of perfect weather and plenty of action for the crew of Pura Vida.

Thanks to me and my big mouth, we had our hands full working for Gaston and Valentine.
If you ever offer your services to a Tuamotan, bear in mind that these people work harder than anyone you have ever met. Hunter and I helped around the compound, we swept and raked and baked and cleaned, we did laundry, fed the pigs and chickens, while Jon and Kai helped build fish traps and hunted and painted and sanded and built stuff with Gaston.

No matter how hard we worked, our hosts did double time.

Gaston and Valentine as photographed by crew of SV Malachi (2008)
In return, they fed us amazing meals of fish cooked every possible way and endless arrays of incredible cakes and breads that Valentine concocts in her tiny kitchen, and we learned tons of things about surviving off the land here.

They also showered us with love and treated us like family.

We hosted Valentine and Gaston on our boat, a few times and introduced them to "Thai" cooking and my general love of all things spicy. We also invited two of the young people who live and work for them here, Teno and Maiti who speak no English at all but with food and music and lots of laughs at our baby French, we had a great time.

I also celebrated my birthday in the most epic way I could possibly dream up.

A stunning atoll, perfect weather, a scuba dive with grey sharks and white tips, and afterwards a well kept secret bottle of champagne and smoked salmon and crackers that Jon had stashed away...
and then, that night, an incredible party, put on for me by our hosts.

They decorated me with flowered leis and head wreaths, Gaston caught a huge Wahoo and I made some of it into sushi and Valentine and Hunter made FOUR cakes! Our friends Linda and Jon from Nakia gave me a bottle of good rum from Mexico which they had doctored for a few weeks with vanilla beans, Valentine and Hunter and Maiti made me a necklace and earrings from large black pearls gathered from Valentine's farm.

It was all so incredible, I had to pinch myself over and over to see if I'd wake up--I'm still dreaming, I guess.

One night, Jon was invited to go out on a Lobster hunt with Gaston and Teno,
Kai was desperate to go along but Gaston was adamant;
it was far, far, too dangerous.
Jon was actually the first cruiser invited to go to their secret spot and hunt lobster, in 22 years!
It is done in their traditional way and it was no small thing to undertake.

The men leave at dusk and travel by speed boat
(a home made, plywood,  flat-bottom affair with no seats, cushions, electronics, safety gear, only a giant outboard strapped to the back)
They zoom at breakneck speed over choppy, spine-crushing waves, to the other side of the atoll where the reef is submerged.
There is NO land anywhere in sight.
Then, they wait for dark.
The men sit in silence, sleep on the floor of the boat, listen to Gaston's small, portable radio; Tahitian music or news, broadcast from Papeete.

Under an impossible sky of stars (the hunt is best on a night with no moon) Gaston will stare into the black night and determine by listening to the sound of the waves crashing somewhere in that dark void that the tide is at last beginning to go out and the waves are not too big, in case they will sweep them off of that perilously narrow reef and into the dark sea around them.

Then, they pray...for a REALLY long time. Jon told me later, it was this moment, it dawned on him, he was in for more than he imagined when the subject of LOBSTER HUNT came up and there was a distinct possibility that a person could DIE out here--or get badly injured.

Meanwhile, back on the boat, through some trick of marital ESP, it was simultaneously dawning on ME that this was a ridiculous thing to have let my husband go do. As I stared out into that inky night, with the sounds of waves crashing on the razor-sharp reef, I thought... "what the hell am I gonna do if anything happens to him out there?" If he gets hurt, there aren't medical facilities, except for the tiny emergency kit I keep on the boat, there's no Coast Guard or help available if their boat breaks down ..and I'm still out here in the middle of nowhere here,  with two little kids, our bowsprit lying in pieces on the beach, and a 2600 mile sail to Hawaii...

Suddenly, paying 15 bucks a Kilo for lobster doesn't seem like such a big deal!

Back to the boys, praying with Gaston out there on the reef...

Gaston (a seriously bad-ass Ironman) looks at Teno (muscle-bound, twenty-year old, Tuamotan, who's spent his whole life on the reefs of these atolls) and Jon (out of work actor), with tear-shining eyes and says in the most sincere, intense voice ever...

"Bon courage..."

Then he jumps out of the boat--and disappears into the swirling night.

All Jon could think was "Oh, my god, I'm gonna die."

Now, you have to remember, Jon speaks hardly any French and Gaston and Teno have even less English--so there wasn't a whole lot of explicit instruction going on before this adventure.

While they were waiting for the tide, so they could jump out of the boat and walk the reef in the pitch black, and search for the lobsters that they will grab with their bare hands and throw into large plastic buckets they have strapped on their backs, Jon casually asked Gaston;
"Moray? C'est dangereux?"

(There are Morays EVERYWHERE you look on these reefs.)

" OUI!" shouts Gaston, in his super-animated voice.

He says everything like its the most urgent thing in the whole world and he can't believe you did not already know whatever it is you are asking about.

"Moray, he SWIM?...NO PROBLEM! STEP, him? RAH! HE BITE YOU!"

Gaston nods like mad and points to Teno's foot, where a nasty red scar crisscrosses his Achilles tendon.

(Turns out, Teno got this brutal little injury three weeks ago, on the previous lobster hunt.)

"Okkie-Dokkie, NO stepping on the eels..." says Jon, thankful he is wearing socks and running shoes and not the clear plastic jelly shoes the other men are rocking.

The lobsters have come in with the high tide to feed on the reefs and are momentarily trapped while waiting for the waves to carry them back out to the safety of the deep ocean.

The object of the hunt my good captain Jon is on, is to try not to get lost out there in the dark reef (the men all split up and hunt on their own) cover as much ground as possible (many kilometers), spot a lobster (not at all easy as it turns out), grab it with your bare hands, toss in your bucket-backpack, while avoiding sharks and eels and being swept off the reef by breaking waves or slicing yourself to ribbons on the spiky coral and attracting even more sharks and then after about 2 or three hours of this, find your way back in the pitch dark, to the tiny boat anchored on the reef (which can only be found by the solar light they have stuck to the bow) and then grab a few hours of sleep (in the bottom of the boat, with two other dudes and all the spiny, squeaking lobsters you have just abducted) and then, after a two hour nap, do the whole thing again--for another three hours.

The next day, Jon told me that if the Navy Seals ever want to up the stakes on night four of "Hell week", where they try and "break" the last of their recruits... they should send them lobster hunting with Gaston.

He said it was as ass-kicking as a marathon and as disorienting and terrifying as anything you can imagine.

To spot the lobsters and light their way along the reef, the men carry huge Coleman lanterns (weighing about 35 pounds each) so that they can find the impossible to see, camoflauged lobsters in the darkness. The lamps are also kerosene so--yes--they will go out if you slip in the water or are knocked over by a wave (the waves are crashing around you the whole time) and if this happens you are essentially doomed.

The reef is, of course, also teeming with feeding sharks and at night, the same, placid, reef sharks we swim with all day, become entirely different creatures. Their eyes turn white, covered by a thin protective skin and their pectoral fins drop from their lateral position and their backs arch and they swim in this crazy, jerking motion and are hell bent on attacking absolutely anything that sounds like a stranded lobster.

Which is interesting when you have a bucket of them on your back and you are in hip-deep water.

Jon said the dawn-round was actually the wildest. After the dark version of the hunt, the sunrise brought full reckoning of the crazy thing they had been doing all night. Our raised-in-Brooklyn Jon found himself standing in thigh-high water, in the middle of an ocean, with no land anywhere in sight, and frenzied sharks, on the tail end of the long night's feeding-bender, charging at his calves and buttocks,  while his back was bent under the weight of a dozen, clacking, furious lobsters...

And Jon, having no clue what one does to dissuade a charging shark, resorted to stomping and shouting threats and every four letter word in the book.

He said it was surreal and a huge rush and that he loved every minute-well, not EVERY minute, maybe but overall, it was a once in a lifetime (for him, anyway) experience.

I was watching though the binoculars at first light and when the little yellow boat finally appeared on the horizon just before 8 am, I took the kids to shore, where Valentine and Maiti (Teno's girl) had laid out a huge breakfast for everyone. We all hugged and kissed (neither of the other ladies had slept that night either) and marveled at the three huge wire baskets of 150 huge, feisty lobsters that the guys had brought home.

We got four to take back to the boat (they were delicious!) and the rest they will sell to the visiting cruisers.

Everyone ate fried fish and leftover coconut cake and drank strong coffee and then, after breakfast, Gaston, without a moments pause, took another group of cruisers to a nearby atoll to hunt for Varo (a weird squid thing that lives here).

Gaston with Parrotfish. Photo from SV Malachi (2008)

These people never stop. Its incredible.

Jon had a short nap and then spent the afternoon finishing up our bowsprit repair and the next day, with Gaston and another friends' help, we put Pura Vida back together.

Considering where we are, he did an amazing job with our repair and at the moment things look solid enough that we shouldn't have to do a darn thing (at least to the bowpulpit) when we get to Hawaii.

Having our old girl back in one piece was a huge relief to all aboard and as much as we have come to love this place and its people, it is time to move on again.

Hurricane season in the North Pacific is finally winding down and the weather gribs show a slight break in the trend of the prevailing trades, so it looks like a good a time to make our Easting before we head for Hawaii.

So, its back to work: many preparations to boat and crew to ready for our NEXT big crossing but
it looks like this Sunday will be the day we set off.

Jon and I figure it will be about 2500 miles, give or take...
some of this route is "uphill" (into the wind and waves and current) and there's that tricky ICTZ bit as well, so its hard to say, but we think it should take us between 22-25 days or so.

Unlike the last time, we are starting  without having been to a store in four weeks.

We have gathered coconuts and hunted and fished and worked for wages in bread and other goodies.

The bilges are certainly not as stocked as they were once but I feel certain we have enough for the journey and for the first time in two years... we will be arriving in a home country and speaking our own language again.

Also, for the first time in a long, long, time... we have an agenda.

A certain, small crew member aboard our fair ship, has her 9th birthday coming up on November 14th,
and she has decided what she wants for her big day...

Dairy Queen.

(I hear they just happen to have one in Hilo:))