Pounding means progress

4 days into our 1st offshore passage on Tonga Moon, and we’re making good progress towards Vanuatu. Thanks for the great send-off, guys, you provided us from Pine Harbour Marina and Westhaven the following day. Much appreciated the turnout.

We’re starting to get into routine onboard. As we’re sailing round the clock, of course we’re keeping a watch system round the clock also. With 3 adults on board, we’ve adopted the 3 hours on, 6 hours off routine, starting at 9pm. Some poor bugger has to do the midnight to 3am shift always a popular choice! – but the other two should be able to get 6 hours straight. It doesn’t work out this way invariably, so we catch up with naps during the day.
The kids wake up anytime from 6am onwards, and expect the usual high-demand service they’re used to at home. Even they’re starting to get the hint, that routine on passage is abit slower.

Found a flying fish on the foredeck this morning, which surprised us a we haven’t seen any yet, and we’re still abit far South for them. Beautiful creatures if you haven’t seen one, they have overlarge pectoral fins that fan out like wings, enabling them to fly from wavetop to wavetop akin to a skimming stone. Some can stay airborne for 10-20 metres. Sometimes the boat will disturb a shoal and the air in front of the boat will suddenly shimmer with hundreds of these flying fish taking off in front of you. Not uncommon to have flying fish land on your deck when sailing in the trade winds, altho’ from their perspective you’d have to say damned unlucky: I mean, how unlucky would you have to be to land on what appears to be only one of a handful of boats in the whole of the SW Pacific? Very lucky, that’s how! (Bummer of a birthmark, Hal – type of unlucky, as Gary Larson fans will know).

No sign of any other boats since leaving sight of NZ. In fact, the ocean here feels deserted, no fish leaping onto our lines, and very few birds save for the occasional petrel or albatross. Albatross: now that’s a magnificent creature, huge wingspan and statesman-like command of wavetop thermals barely having to flap their wings for minutes at a time. I read once that they sleep on the wing and can stay airborne for up to 12 years. I made the mistake of mentioning this to our good friend and crewmate Jason, regrettably just minutes before he spotted one landing on the water, thereby arming him with a range of witty quips. The one he chose was phew…I bet he’s pleased to have a break!. I think I got off lightly.
It may have been the same article that informed me that albatross mate for life, like swans a charming and strangely heart-warming fact, when you consider the shocking promiscuity of many other bird species (one of the few facts about birds of any real interest to young ornithologists). Nevertheless, it gives pause for reflection when I consider how often I’ve seen albatross flying on their own. What’s going on here? These birds are strongly monogomous, but either very unlucky to be widowed early, or just plain crap at holding down relationships? …and so you may be starting to get a glimpse into the rich and fertile fields of self-reflection that offshore sailing offers the thinking man!

And so onto the title of this post. We’re discovering that this boat pounds a lot in a big sea. Waves run between the hulls, and slam up onto the bridgedeck (the bit of structure joining the two hulls) with huge force, sometime powerful enough to lift objects off the floor inside (objects such as food, books, sleeping people etc). We’ve had two nights of significant pounding, sounding like someone is underneath the boat trying to beat holes into the hull with a large hammer, making sleep difficult to achieve until you’re absolutely knackered..which invariably we are after a couple of nights of rough seas. Some of the pounding can be quite alarming, it being one of the few drawbacks offsetting all the other positive aspects of catamarans. So, as we lie in bed listening to the hammer on the hull, we can only reassure ourselves that we wouldn’t be pounding if we weren’t moving, thus the title: pounding can only mean progress!

.and how do I follow that? Gosh my Fred is getting very thoughtful out at sea..

BEATING BEATING BEATING and that’s not just the children.. The wind over the last couple of days was not the best. Beating into the wind is my least favourite position at sea, so I am not complaining at the change today, even when it involved a few hours of motoring. The kids have been remarkably good at adapting to the new lifestyle still the usual disciplining required. Clearly, sitting on a boat with no land in sight, and our threats to put them in time out strapped to the mast, haven’t radically changed their behaviour, but I’m sure a couple of stints up there will settle them all down.

The latest complaint is how the sleeping bags are getting way too hot at night WOOHOO! Lovely hot endless summer, here we come!

Test post from boat

This is a test to see if we can update the blog site from the boat via HF radio.

May fair winds blow up your backside

Yes, the time has finally come.

After 10 years of boring the pants of everyone about our sailing plans, several false starts and delays (one for over 3 years – our youngest child has alot to answer for), and a barely concealed but growing suspicion amongst many friends that we were “all talk and no trousers”….. we are finally off.

We’ve finished our preparations, the SW Pacific weather forecast looks mild, and we plan to depart NZ from Westhaven Marina, Auckland around midday Friday.

“May fair winds blow up your backside” isn’t the frivolous title you may have thought: we’re hoping for clear skies and a fresh 15-20 knot southerly wind (i.e. from behind) to push us all the way up to Vanuatu. Sadly the forecast is looking like north-easterlies for several days, so it may be a slow passage.

Thanks heaps to everyone who’s helped us get to the start line – it wouldn’t have been possible without you.  OK, it would have been possible, it just would have taken us several more weeks and we’d have run out of money.  You clearly wanted to get rid of us pretty bad.  So, thanks again.

See you at the other end!

Less than one week to go…

I’m sure I’ll regret this post title.  How many times can we delay our departure and maintain credibility?  I can faintly hear one or two friends shouting “go now for God’s sake, put us all out of our misery!”

Still, here it is: we reckon we’re close to finishing our preparations, and with weather permitting aim to depart NZ around Fri 26th Aug. OK, I’ve said it, so it must be true!

Rebecca has bought approx 50 years’ supply of tea bags, loo roll, marmite, weetbix etc, and is now searching for suitable places to put it all!  (There have been moments of tension between storing gear and fixing boat problems when we could have suggested where she could put them!).  She’s assembled a medical kit that should cure most of the South Pacific of all known illnesses, and might just be sufficient for us.  And she’s built impressive mosquito nets for all the hatches, with fantastic help from several friends (thanks Cathy, Trish and Andrea) who were forced into a day-long sewing sweatshop on the boat.   Very productive and cheap labour (free, actually) – I think we have a viable business to build here.

I’ve spent the last 3 days replumbing our fresh water and replacing toilet outflow pipes.  As with most jobs on the boat, it’s two steps forward and one step back; backward steps created by unearthing further problems or my own DIY ineptitude.  Fortunately my DIY abilities have been supplemented by friends who do know what they’re doing with a screwdriver – Jason, Conrad, Dave etc thanks heaps!

Tonga Moon spent most of her life in charter, and while she has been sailed between Tonga and NZ several times she’s not set up for long-term offshore cruising; so we’ve had to revamp the battery supply, fit solar panels and a wind generator, install long distance high frequency radio, figure out how to get clean water out of the taps, add a liferaft and lifelines, set up a storm jib, splice 100 metres of rope to hold a parachute anchor, and so the list goes on.  I think we’re finally getting near the end of our list, which is a great relief to us and no doubt some disappointment to our local chandlery.

Those who know us well, will know that we’re not naturally the tidiest people.  But even by our standards, the boat is a complete tip and on the face of it would appear to be several months away from being ready.  Never fear brave reader, those looks can be deceiving:  if you subtract our usual quota of Nolan messiness, this should bring it back to only a few simple steps of putting all my tools away, and figuring out where we store the mountain of other “stuff”.

Happily we have now assembled our full list of toys, which includes a windsurfer (plus rig for teaching the kids), 2 inflatable kayaks, a doughnut, an Optimist dinghy, lots of fishing gear plus snorkelling and spearfishing equipment.  So we shouldn’t go hungry or bored!

That’s about all for now.  Back to work on the boat, and here’s hoping for fair weather later next week.

The boat – our building site!


Preparations continue, including a blitz to stop the boat leaking (above the waterline, that is).  We inherited a very leaky boat, and have unearthed a number of leaks and sources.  We’ve reseated all windows, rebedded much of the deck hardware (thanks for the help, Jason), and have ordered new portlights for the saloon.  The boat is finally starting to dry out – halleluia! (is that how you spell it?).

In the meantime, the boat is a complete tip with stuff everywhere.  No surprise, I guess, when we proudly show off our new home to friends and get a somewhat muted response, ranging from the  “yes, ummmm, very nice, you’re seriously going to LIVE on this for over a year?!”, to the more direct “God, what a mess”.  Our most recent visitor took one look at my tools and commented “Abit worrying to see you using a circular saw on the boat….things must be worse than we thought” (thanks Conrad!).

The preparations continue (with circular saw – it’s amazing how quickly you can cut things with it)…!

Capturing water

This category is dedicated to cool or weird stuff we have seen.  If you like stuff that is weird, freaky, or just a little bit “cor, I never….!”, then this is the page for you.   Sadly, we haven’t started our cruise yet, so you’ll have to wait abit longer for our first Weird Stuff entries.  Knowing our family, you shouldn’t have to wait too long…..

But while you wait, we can update you on our plan on water provisioning.  We took one quick look at the prices of watermakers (yikes!) and decided a simpler approach to capturing water would be needed.  Let’s just hope it rains alot….