The Not So Hot News

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The Bad News  5/12/99

Due to poor propagation and the heavy traffic on Sailmail we are unable to send and receive e-mail on the boat.  This means that we won't be able to update the Hot News section until we get to a phone line.  We believe that we will have periodic access while in Fiji so the delays shouldn't be too long but we will be unable to post an update for the next 3 weeks.

Hellen, Jim and Blurge will be departing Opua, Bay of Islands hopefully Monday beginning the 1200 mile trip to Savu Savu, Fiji.  Think good thoughts for calm seas and following winds.  Thanks...Jim, Hellen and Blurge on "Go West"

It's Finally Here!  5/10/99

The Big New Zealand update has finally arrived.  The only problem is it has no narrative so you have to guess what you are looking at.   That's right, It is only the pictures but the text will follow shortly after we arrive in Fiji which should be by the end of May.  Check out the New Zealand section of Ports of Call and the New Zealand Refit in the Vessel section.

We are out of Whangarei and sitting in Tutkaka harbor.   It is only 30 miles but it was a tough sail in 30 + knots and choppy seas.  We got wet.  It was jolt back to the real world of sailing after 6 months at a dock up a river.  We had 2 failures on the trip, both related to time sitting and not the rough conditions.  Our GPS antenna was filled with water that wicked in from a cut in the wire.  Our Next Step regulator for our charging system got stuck in Gas Lock which is not good as we have gel batteries which shouldn't be gassed.  Fortunately we caught it when the high voltage alarm went off and we were able to cut the power before any damage was done.  We have a spare GPS antenna and Bill on Esprit had a spare Next Step regulator here in Tutkaka so we have both things fixed and we are just waiting for the weather to leave for Fiji.

We Apologize Again  5/4/99

I feel bad that we have neglected the web site for the last 6 weeks.   We have been working hard on the boat and preparing an article which may appear in Latitude 38.  It doesn't look like we will finish our update of New Zealand before we leave so we will probably handle it like Tonga.  We will publish the pictures and then fill in the text when we get to Fiji.  We understand that we will have good internet access in Fiji so we should be able to finish things up there.

We may have a crew member for the trip to Fiji.  We had David Otway for the trip down to NZ and it was great so we have been looking for someone that wanted a ride to Fiji and we ran into Blurge Brown.  Blurge worked with Roger Patey of Tweed in Auckland this summer so Roger sent him our way.  It will be great to have 3 in the watch rotation again.

Watch for the update to Ports of Call in about a week.

Sorry for the Long Delay  5/1/99

We are frantically preparing for our departure from New Zealand.   We depart Whangarei Wednesday and will head for the Bay of Islands.  We then we leave for Fiji on the next break in the weather.  I have been scanning pictures from New Zealand and I am almost done.  I will publish the pictures and add the text later, like with Tonga.  Sorry but we have been really busy.

Still in on the Hard  – New Zealand 4/13/99

Sorry for the long delay but we are working by day on the boat and by night on the web page of others and our own.  We are just finishing the processing of over 400 pictures that will end up as 200 pictures on the web.  We plan to go in back in the water next week and begin a brief cruise of the Bay of Islands before we depart for the tropics.  We will get a big update out before we go.

Thanks for your patience.

Still in Whangarei – New Zealand 3/17/99

We are working away on the boat.  We haul out tomorrow and begin 3 weeks of work below the waterline.  We will complete a number of plumbing projects and we also plan to install a folding or feathering propeller.  We are researching the market but our perspective is effected by our point of reference, New Zealand.   We will report our decision and follow-up with our experience but our decision is going to be made with price as a big factor.  AutoProp is definitely out on price and Max-Prop is teetering on the edge as we research feathering props from Australia and New Zealand.  We are also taking a close look at the Volvo 3 blade folding prop.

We hope to relaunch mid April and depart for the Bay of Islands on the North side of the North Island within a few days.  We will be ready to depart for the Cook Islands by May 1st.  We are going to look for a crew member to join us as far as Rarotonga but we will go without rather than take someone we don't enjoy.

We should be making progress on the web page in the evening.  We will try to complete New Zealand and reports on the  projects completed while the boat has been in port.  We have over 400 pictures from our tour of the country and that is just with the digital camera.  We will wade through all of the material and figure out how we will present the sights and our impressions of this fantastic country.   Stay tuned...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Back in Whangarei – New Zealand 3/6/99

We made it back to Whangarei and our floating home.  It was still afloat.  Quite a bit of work had been performed while we were travelling.  We took a risk and let the work continue in our absence.  We were surprised with the quality of the work that we found.  In particular, the cabinetry came better than we had hoped.  It is amazing how well it matches the existing cabinets.  We will have pictures of all of the work in the vessel section in coming weeks.

We wrapped up our tour of New Zealand on the east coast of the North Island.  This are is known for its wine and we toured quite a few wineries looking for good reds.  Red wines are the only thing that keeps in the bilge in the tropics for more than a few weeks so we focused on reds.  We were disappointed.  We didn't really find anything that excited us and we may end up just getting some Australian wine to get us by until Fiji.  We are trying various wines with the thought that we will get a case duty free when we leave.

Know it is back to work for us with about 7 weeks to get the boat ready for departure.  In this time we need to haul out of some minor work and bottom paint and a survey for insurance purposes.  We have a lot of projects inside to complete as well but we should depart New Zealand with a real cruising boat.

In the evenings I will work on the incomplete pages for Tonga and New Zealand and I will bring the vessel section up to date.  I also have a few ideas for about Lessons Learned.  Stay tuned...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"    

Hastings, North Island – New Zealand 2/23/99

As we moved toward and up the West Coast of the South Island we experienced quite a bit of bad weather.  The drive over the Southern Alps to the West Coast is peppered with waterfalls and they were really flowing because of the intermittent rain.  We got a decent look at the Fox Glacier from below but we didn't take a flight to see it from above because of the low cloud ceiling.  We didn't get to see the Franz Josef Glacier at all. The gray weather put us off the idea of black water rafting which is tubing in a cave wearing a wetsuit.  Sounded too cold. 

We moved on to Nelson and better weather.  We met up with Ruth and Buddy of Annapurna and Don and Sandy of Destiny for dinner at the Walnut Cafe in Richmond.   We had arranged to meet Ruth and Buddy a few days before and they passed the word to Don and Sandy.  The Destiny gang were also in the area so we had Whangarei reunion.  Even more amazing was our chance meeting at a winery in Marlborough with Richard and Martha of Transit.  Transit is tied up next to us in Whangarei.

New Zealand is not as big as we had anticipated and the tourist path is well traveled.  The South Island would be a great 2 to 3 week vacation.  Flying here might be expensive but once you are here you will find that a great time may be had for relatively little money.  A long-term car rental will set you back about $35 a day and a cabin in a holiday park known as a Tourist Flat will cost about $45 to $50 a day and it will include a bathroom, kitchen but no bedding or towels.  Motels have it all and run from $50 to $80 a day.  These prices are in Kiwi dollars which are currently had for $.54 US so you can almost divide these prices in half if you are starting with US dollars.

We now view prices in NZ$ so we sometimes find tourist activities to be a little pricey but most offerings target locals as well and are very reasonable.   Hiking or "tramping" is almost always free and the trails through the forest or "bush" are well maintained and well marked.  An outdoor guidebook will identify trails suitable for all ages and fitness levels. 

Next we will tour the wine region of Hawkes Bay and then swing by the Otway's for a visit.  Stay tuned and don't forget to visit the Message Board to comment on the new website look...Jim and Hellen on the "Go West" land yacht.

Queenstown, South Island – New Zealand 2/15/99

Its raining, but it is the first rain we have had on the South Island.   They are having a severe draught and the hills and mountains in the Southern Alps look like California in the summer, brown.  This rain is pretty light so I don't think they are getting much relief.

Queenstown is a tourist city filled with hotels, restaurants and tourist agencies.  I have been a little put off by it after so many months in lightly populated places in the South Pacific and New Zealand.  There are numerous activities for the thrill seeker around Queenstown.  We checked out the bungy jumping at Kawarau Bridge.  This is the first place where commercial bungy jumping was offered.  It is a beautiful setting for an adrenaline rush.  I have a fear of heights which makes it difficult to go up a tall ladder so I didn't even consider jumping but I got a rush just watching others do it.  We talked to several jumpers and they described it as being less strenuous and punishing than it appears.

We went on to the Shotover river for a ride on the Shotover Jet jet boat.  The Shotover Jet is the only jet boat ride that takes you through the Shotover River Canyon.  I remember seeing this as a kid on TV and thinking it looked thrilling and a little crazy.  Amazing what a perceptive kid I was.  This was extremely exciting.  I have piloted power and sailboats all of my life and I was in awe with the precision these drivers displayed while threading through the rapids and rocks of the canyon.  This ride is a must for any thrill seeker. 

We stopped in Te Anau for a couple of days and went on 2 tours that were well worth it.  First we visited the Glowworm caves.  This tour provides a lot for the money climaxing in short boat ride through a dark cavern covered with glowworms.   It looks like stars and is so bright at places that it illuminates the boat.

The following day we took our big excursion of our trip to Doubtful Sound.  This adventure takes all day and involves several modes of transportation.   You start at 9:30 in the morning with a 45 minute boat ride on a fast catamaran to the West Arm Hydro Power Station.  From here you board a bus for a ride over the Wilmot Pass on a steep gravel road.  This road only passes from the Lake Manapouri to the Doubtful Sound and may only be reached by boat.  It was constructed to get the equipment for the power station over from ships in the sound.  In the Doubtful Sound you board another fast catamaran for the ride out to the Tasman Sea.  We saw the incredible scenery of the Doubtful sound including a close look at a seal colony and a group of bottle nose dolphins.  On the return trip we went by bus 2 kilometers down a spiral tunnel to the power station. 

In Dunedin we made several interesting stops at the Speight's brewery and the Otago museum.  The Speight's tour was a little boring but the Otago museum was surprisingly good.  The section on people of the Pacific was educational and very interesting after passing through many of these places.  The highlight of the area was our visit to the Yellow Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve. This is a private reserve which is operated strictly with the funds collected on admission.  It is very well organized.  Spotters on the hill above direct the guided groups to a variety of blinds to get a close look at penguins as they walk by.  We got really close, I couldn't focus on one adult with my telephoto because it was too close!  This is the best example of eco-tourism I have experienced.  The yellow eyed penguin is one of the rarest penguin's in the world and also the third largest species so it is a rare and spectacular sight. 

One last thing, we stayed in the Timura Selwyn Holiday Park in Timura.   Gordon Collister, owner of the park, was a great host and the park was amongst the best we have visited.  We make a special point of the because Gordon was very helpful in providing us with information on the sights before us and we learned a lot by talking to him.  We recommend this stop between Christchurch and Dunedin.  

Tamura, South Island – New Zealand 2/6/99

After leaving Lake Taupo we proceeded to Wellington and spent a couple of days checking out the sights and museums of the nation's capital.  Wellington is very modern with an impressive downtown area.  It has achieved a good balance of old and new and is friendly to the pedestrian visitor.  The new national museum, Te Papa, is a good overall perspective on New Zealand from both the Moari and European settler perspective.  Neither of us are museum people so our eyes began to glaze after a couple of hours but it was entertaining and educational.  It is not the Louvre but it is an incredible accomplishment for a country of 3.6 million.

We took the ferry from Wellington to Picton on the South Island.   The ferry lands in Picton after the final 45 minutes of the 3 hour trip gliding through the beautiful Marlborough Sound.  We went to Havelock for our first night.   We rented a 16 ft runabout from Norm (025 227 8266) and spent a couple of hours touring the sound.  This would be a great place for cruising but we are not motivated to sail Go West south currently.

We went on to Christchurch but we were not impressed by the town.   It reminded us of a typical English town which has randomly mixed architecture from last century, the 60's and today.  It doesn't work.  We were obviously not impressed.

Next stop is Dunedin and then on the Queenstown, the adrenaline junkie Mecca.  More soon...Jim and Hellen on Go West.

Lake Taupo – New Zealand 1/31/99

We are several days into our trip to the South Island and we have covered a lot of ground. We left last Tuesday and drove directly to Auckland to interview Bob McDavitt, the Weather Ambassador, for an article we are doing on weather resources in the South Pacific for Lessons. He was very interesting and his book, The Metservice Yacht Pack, is the best source of weather information available for this hemisphere.

We also stopped in on the America True camp in Auckland Harbor and they were training with great enthusiasm for the cup next year. Dawn Riley, the CEO and skipper of the program, is very confident that they are collecting the best crew, boat and sails and she has very high expectations for their success. We were convinced so we bought T-shirts to avoid the rush next March when they claim the cup.

We also checked out Playstation, the new Steve Fossett catamaran designed to rewrite the record books. IT looks like a wild ride.

We are now at Lake Taupo staying with our crewmember from the trip down, David Otway and his parents. Peter Otway, David’s father, is a highly regarded volcanoligist and he took us on a tour of Lake Taupo by boat. Lake Taupo is, in essence, a huge volcanic crater. Peter offers personal tours of the lake and the surrounding volcanic peaks, which are fascinating. You may get more information at Taupo Volcano Tours by e-mail at volcanot@voyager.co.nz or phoning 025 223 3524 within New Zealand or 011 64 25 223 3524 from the US.

We're Still Alive in NZ 01-18-99

We got back on land and forgot about posting updates.  We flew back to San Francisco December 3rd. and spent a nice  Christmas Holiday with the family at Judi's on Stinson Beach.  Since our return to New Zealand on January 2nd. we have been knee deep in boat projects.  I have been taking pictures of the progress on several upgrade and maintenance projects underway and we will write them up for the Vessel section.

We are in a rush because we leave next week on our big adventure to the South Island of New Zealand.  The South Island is, by all accounts, the most beautiful part of New Zealand and one of the most beautiful places in the world.  We will only spend around 3 weeks on the island so we will be rushed.  When we arrived, 5 months in New Zealand seemd like a lot of time but now we don't feel like we will do it justice and we are starting to think of ways of extending our stay.

We believe we will be able to access the Internet while we are touring so we should be able to post some updates.  Our new digital camera should improve our time to web for the sites we see.  We are almost ready to rev up the Go West Land Yacht and take off for a spin around New Zealand.  Stay Tuned...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Thanksgiving in NZ   11-26-98

We organized a Thanksgiving celebration at the Riverside Drive Marina.   Normally an American celebration we found that many foreigners wanted to participate.  Quite a few of the cruising fleet have had a Thanksgiving Dinner while cruising in or near the US.  I guess Turkey and dressing is addictive because we had participants from Europe, Canada, New Zealand and Australia amongst the 40 participants.   Fortunately whole turkeys have recently become available in NZ and we had 4 cans of Libby's Pumpkin onboard. 

The potluck dinner had 6 turkeys, 3 types of dressing including oyster dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce (who had that in the bilge?), several salads, vegetables and pumpkin pies.  It was a feast.  There was plenty for everybody and few leftovers so it worked out perfectly.  The weather also cooperated which was fortunate but only a few days later a killer storm took the life of one of the sailors we had been anchored with in Minerva Reef.  The storms that raged on the ocean north of New Zealand gave all of the cruising fleet a scare.  Sailing across oceans is serious business and every aspect of preparation must be undertaken with the greatest respect.  We will expand on this in Lessons Learned...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Arrived in Whangarei  11-21-98

Friday afternoon we neared the North Island coast and started picking up Maritime Radio weather bulletins.  Unfortunately they were calling for 40 knot winds by evening and we were still looking at a Saturday morning arrival.  After a discussion with Russell Radio we decided to pick up the pace and attempt to arrive at about 1:00 AM.  As we got into evening we were pleased to find that the winds didn't get over 30 knots.  We stopped pushing and arrived off of the entrance to Whangarei at about 3:30 AM.  We entered at slack tide and started working our way 10 miles up river to the customs dock.  The winds were blowing 35 knots from behind.  We ran at 5 knots down the channel under bare poles and arrived at the customs dock at 6:00 AM where we rafted to Aquhabi and Blue Jay. 

Checking in to New Zealand was much easier than we expect with very friendly and helpful Agriculture and Customs inspectors completed the formalities within 90 minutes of our arrival. We told them about everything that they could want and they took almost nothing.  Don't bring bottom paint because they will take it.

We were docked by 10:00 at Riverside Drive Marina and by Noon we had hooked up with David's mom.  We were happy to be on land and happy to have that crossing behind us.  We were lucky and unfortunately many other boats were not as lucky. 

We said farewell to David but we will visit him and his family in the Taupo area..Jim, Hellen and David on "Go West"

At Sea, 200 miles to New Zealand   11-19-98

We are less than 200 miles from the New Zealand Northland. We expect to be just off of Bream's Head at first light Saturday. We should make the Customs dock by 8:00 AM and hopefully we will be tied up snug in our berth at Riverside Marina in the afternoon.

It looks like we shouldn't encounter any weather that is too frightening between now and then so we are beginning to get excited about landfall. David's mother is anxious to collect him from the boat. I guess she took my "slave ship" comments a little too seriously.

We will next write from New Zealand...Jim, Hellen and David on "Go West"

At Sea, 450 miles to New Zealand   11-17-98

We are 450 miles from the New Zealand coast and we expect to land in Whangarei on Saturday. We should make it in the morning and after clearing customs we hope to be in our berth by the afternoon.

This is pretty early for such a precise prediction but it appears that we will have favorable winds for most of the rest of the trip and our fuel supply is good so we will power whenever the wind drops.

The trip has gone well so far and we should have favorable weather until Friday but we may get roughed up a little on our last day and night.

We shall see...Jim, Hellen and David on "Go West"

At Sea, 800 miles to New Zealand  11-15-98

We departed Minerva Reef today and we are now making all possible speed for New Zealand. If we keep our present speed we will make Whangarei Friday afternoon. It is likely we will not continue at our present speed which will have us in on Saturday.

We have heard that the weather may turn ugly on Friday so we are going to do our best to make it Friday.

We will keep you posted...Jim, Hellen and David on "Go West"

Minerva Reef 11-13-98

We arrived at Minerva Reef Tuesday after a 2 day sail in light winds. We motored for over half of the trip. The seas were gentle and it was pleasant except for the engine noise. Having a third crew member made the watch schedule pretty easy with everyone getting a six hour break at night.Minerva reef is a submerged reef 200 miles from any land and it is only visited by maybe 100 yachties passing by each year. We have had some nice dives and almost everyone scored a few lobsters. We only got one for the boat and a picture of another on a photo dive. We are waiting for some weather to clear south of us and it looks like we will be leaving tomorrow. Should take 7 days to Whangarei if the wind cooperates. We will keep you informed...Jim, Hellen and David on "Go West".

Atata 11-07-98

We are sitting at anchor off of the island of Atata just North of Tongatapu. We are getting 35 knots of wind and rain but we re hopeful that it will blow through tonight and we can get going tomorrow. We plan to stop at Minerva reef which is about 250 miles along the way toward New Zealand. From there we will assess the weather again to make the jump for the last 800 miles to NZ. We hope to land in Whangarei harbor by the last week of November so we can make our flight home for Christmas on Dec. 3rd. Tongatapu was better than we expected. It was clean, modern and inexpensive. The people were well educated and friendly. We toured the island by van with a guide and saw several interesting sites but the most impressive was the blowholes on the southern shore. There are blowholes along several miles of shore and as the swells break along the island the holes spout in succession which is a spectacular site.  We are nervous and excited about this trip. With David, our crew for this crossing, we are looking forward to a good sail with better weather than we have right now.  Wish us luck...Jim, Hellen and David on "Go West"

Tongatapu 10-29-98

We have arrived in Tanga Tapu and we are now preparing to leave for New Zealand. The big news is that we got the computer fixed and knocked out a big update. Over 100 pictures and all of the ports covered up to Tonga. We added new Lessons Learned and made minor changes to the Vessel section. Check out Hellen's tatoo in the Papeete Ports of Call. This was put together pretty quick so I will probably come back and build on some of the descriptions. Niue was too brief and Palmerston needs work but it will have to wait until we are sitting in a dock in New Zealand.  We hope you enjoy the trip...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Nukalofa 10-26-98

We arrived in Nukalofa on Tongatapu yesterday after 10 great days cruising through the middle islands of Tonga. We spent 2 days on the island of Ha'afevu in the Lulunga group. We started anchored on the east side because of an unusual westerly wind. This was great because the reef was really beautiful and a small pass allowed us to take the dinghy outside the reef and anchor for some diving. Buddy from Annapurna and Bruce from Ahquabi joined me for some spear fishing and we got four decent parrot fish. Hellen fried them up in her famous beer batter and we got a meal out of them. From Ha'afevu we sailed to Nomuka Iki in the Nomuka group. We spent only one day there and didn't land on the island but the snorkeling on the reef was good. Our travelling companions on Annapurna and Ahquabi stopped next at Kelefesia Island but we decided to go straight to
Tongatapu and the big city of Nukalofa to get some business taken care of before our trip to New Zealand. Here we will take on our crew member for the journey. David Otway from New Zealand has signed on for the trip to his home. We wanted to have a third crew member for this trip to make sure we all got more sleep and we were prepared for rough weather. David has been sailing on another boat from Mexico, Knot Yet. Knot Yet will be hauled in Fiji for the hurricane season so David freed up and wanted a ride home which we were happy to provide. We also got the video card for our computer so tomorrow I will begin feverishly knocking out a big web page update. I will e-mail it to our webmaster extraodinaire and we should finally have pictures from all of these exotic locations by early November. Stay tuned...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Ha'apai 10-19-98

We are anchored off the island of Uiha in the Ha'apai group of Tonga. We departed Vavau last week with friends Mike and Sandy from California and had a memorable sail to Ha'apai. The wind was 25 to 30 knots with lumpy seas and we had to sail hard to weather to make landfall at Ha'ano Island. It was an overnight sail of about 75 miles and with the rough conditions we provided our guests with a real feel for cruising. As we arrived in Ha'apai the weather improved and we had a beautiful week of beach combing, scuba diving and snorkeling. The water is still about 74 degrees but the daytime air temperature is rising noticeably. A small island just north of Foa island has the best shelling we have seen so far in the South Pacific. From Foa we headed south to Lifuka and visited Pangai, the main city in Ha'apai. Pangai is small with few services for tourists or yachties but
the Coop market is good and we had a reasonable meal at a local guest house. From Pangai we headed south to Uoleva to see what many people have said is the finest beach in Tonga. It was a very nice beach. Better shelling at the island mentioned above.  From here we crossed the pass between Uoleva and Uiha. A 3 knot current made the trip across the pass and through the small channel an exciting journey. I guess we should have checked the tides. We anchored off the southern village of Felemea on the island of Uiha.  Ashore we met Hese of the Esi 'O Ma'afu resort. This is the first traditional Tongan resort we have found. This is simple living but the food is good and the Fale's(grass huts) are clean and it is only 9 pa'angas a night per person. We had a lobster dinner and though we had to share 3 modest lobsters between 6 people we had many other fish dishes that were delicious and more food than we could eat. The meal was just 15 pa'angas a person. This is a great place for the traveller on a budget. His number is 60 605 and the Ha'apai Visitors Bureau is  60 733. Next we go Ha'afeva or Tungua depending on the weather. We will decide tomorrow when we pull up the hook. we are currently travelling with Annapurna and Ahquabi. More soon...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Vavau 10-4-98

It has been a while since the last update. It took me some time to recover from my 40th birthday beach party. We had 15 boats anchored in 5 and over 30 people at the afternoon potluck on the beach. I was drinking something called "Painkillers" from Don on Destiny and I can say that it only killed the pain until the next day. My advanced years didn't get much sympathy from this crowd because we are amongst the youngest cruisers. We have managed to move around Vavau and we have now seen most of the anchorages. Instead of names the anchorages are identified by number in the Moorings cruising guide and even the locals go by the numbers. We just returned from anchorage 30 on the eastern side of Vavau. It is a shallow anchorage behind an island that faces fury of the sea. A hike over the island rewards you with a view of a rugged coast battered by the tradewind swept seas. We hiked all the way around the island and enjoyed vistas to the north and south. We also hit another good restaurant. The Ocean Breeze restaurant faces the old harbor (25) and features seafood with an Indian flair. It is the most expensive restaurant we have experienced in Vavau but it also had the best food. Bad news on the promised upcoming big update. My computer video card failed and I can't get a replacement in Vavau. This means that the update is postponed until probably New Zealand unless I can get a cheap replacement in Tongatapu later this month. Sorry about that. I will keep the Hot News updates coming more frequently now that we are getting ready to get on the move again. I had already completed a lot of the work and there will be additions to the Lessons Learned section as well as a big spread on Palmerston. Keep an eye out in December. You may also notice an updated look to the site. We have a new webmaster, Matthew Wheeler, and he is a computer whiz. He will be slowly renovating the place so send him compliments and comments. We haven't seen it yet but we are looking forward to it...Jim and Hellen on "Go West"

Vavau 9-16-98

We are still in scenic Vavau in the Kingdom of Tonga. We have spent a lot of our time here just relaxing in the calm anchorages and taking care of little projects on the boat. We have ventured out to several of the hot spots of Vavau and we have also frequented several of the night spots of the main city of Neiafu. Much like Niue, Vavau is formed from coral reefs which have risen hundreds of feet above sea level. There are many caves and there are 2 that have fascinated visitors for many years. Swallows Cave is unusual because you enter by boat. The cruisers and charterers take their dinghies right into the cave. Inside you find stalactites but with a water floor there are no stalagmites. Bats line the ceiling during the day and it is supposed to be a special experience to watch them fly out in the afternoon but we decided to pass on that for now. Mariner's Cave is entered via an underwater passage that is 14 feet long and anywhere from 2 feet to 8 feet underwater depending on the tide. We went at low tide and it was pretty easy to get in. Once inside, you find a large cave lit only by the light coming through the underwater passage. It is beautiful and eerie at the same time. The cave mouth is exposed to the ocean so low swells approach the outer rock face creating pressure on the inside. As the water recedes a fog appears and as it rises the fog quickly vanishes. It is spectacular but it does become hard on the ears. We took our boat into the lagoon of Hunga Island. The entrance is only 150 feet wide with steep rock cliffs on each side. It is intimidating but really no problem. Inside it is like a lake with several good anchorages. At the north end is Club Hunga which has food and drink every night but bigger festivities Friday through Sunday. We arrived Monday and left Tuesday so we will go back on a weekend. In Neiafu we have eaten at the Mermaid restaurant 3 times. It is owned by a chef from Canada that moved home with his Tongan wife. The food is excellent and inexpensive. They have traditional Tongan dancing on Wednesday and Friday nights. We have also eaten at the Bounty Bar which serves great hamburgers and Anna's Cafe which is at the dinghy dock and is the cruiser's hangout. Moorings in Vavau needs to be mentioned for the great services they provide visiting cruisers. Moorings built the dinghy dock at Anna's and they provide trash collection and disposal all without charge. They accept faxes and phone messages and coordinate contact with visiting boats. They do these things out of the kindness in their hearts and it creates the the most cordial atmosphere between cruisers and charterers I have seen. I can't imagine a better place than Vavau to charter a boat and I can strongly endorse Moorings in Vavau as you charter provider. September 23rd is my (Jim's) 40th birthday so drink a cold one for me. That's all for now, should send a big update back with our friends visiting in October so watch for it about mid month. Jim and Hellen on Go West

Tonga 8-27-98

We crossed the International Date Line when we arrived in Tonga last week but more on that in a minute. We spent 9 great days in Niue.  Niue is a republic of 2700 people situated on one small island between the Cook Islands and Tonga.  They have put out 17 mooring buoys for visiting yachts and it is definitely a stop that shouldn't be missed. Niue is also known on the charts as the Savage Island because the repelled the first visitors and missionaries.  This was because they had learned that visitors brought disease and they had a tradition of not letting passing canoes from Tonga and the Cooks stop.  It was a small island with a small population and they couldn't afford disease so it was a pretty smart policy in its time. Today they hate the connotation of the name and it couldn't be farther from the truth.  The people of Niue are friendly, intelligent, proud and very hospitable.  They welcome outsiders both as visitors and residents and have even elected a transplanted New Zealander to their parliament. Niue is clean, safe and well organized for tourists but there is one problem, air service is terrible.  Tonga Royal Airlines serves Niue on their route from New Zealand twice a week but they have a bad habit of bumping passengers for Niue for passengers heading on to Tonga.  This makes it very difficult for tourists to rely on their transport and for this reason only New Zealanders will risk booking their way over. Niue could handle about 100 visitors at a time but they usually only have about 20. This problem for the local economy is a boon for visiting yachts. Everything from dining to diving is very cheap and very good.  Gabes restaurant has an all you can eat buffet for $15 NZ or about $8 US that is remarkable, with seafood and roast pork and about 30 other dishes. It include live music and local dancing and beers are only $2 NZ. The diving is fantastic.  Water clarity is the best I have ever seen, better than the Red Sea.  200 foot visibility is routine.  The island is actually a coral reef that has raised 200 feet out of the water so the coast is a wall of porous limestone with caves and crevices throughout. They have many whales and dolphins and a huge population of sea snakes. The coral and fish rival any tropical dive sight. On land there are numerous caves and canyons that lead down to pools for snorkeling or underwater cave exploration.  It is really a wonderful place to visit and it is a shame that it is so hard to get to by air. Now we are in Vavau in the Kingdom of Tonga.  We have only been here a couple of days and the weather is bad (what's new) but it seems nice. We crossed the Date Line but we didn't change time zones.  This is because the dateline actually wraps around Tonga even though we are only at 174 west longitude.  The time zone is plus 13 hours rather than minus 11 hours.  Rumor has it that this is because the King of Tonga wants to be first at everything and in fact Tonga will ring in the new century first.  There is no film developing here but I sent my film back to the states with some nice people and the developed film will return with our mail in 2 to 3 weeks so Ports of Call won't see an update for another month or so.  Sorry about that but keep watching for Not News Updates...Jim and Hellen

Palmerston Island 8-09-98

It was with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Palmerston Island and all of the wonderful people of the Marsters families. We are currently half way to Niue and should arrive Tuesday. We left off in Aitutaki with high hopes of island exploring but just after our last update we were caught in a storm in the Aitutaki anchorage and had a pretty scary experience. Aitutaki has a pass with 5 ft. of depth at high water so boats like us must anchor outside. It gets deep fast so you end up anchoring so close to the reef that you don't really have room to swing if the wind changes. A weak looking trough became a strong cold front overnight and hit us in the afternoon. We had put out a stern anchor to keep us from swinging toward the reef and in a matter of minutes we were hanging on the stern anchor as the wind clocked around 180 degrees and picked up to over 40 knots. We scrambled to get the dinghy under control (we didn't want to flip it again ) and get the boat ready to sail. Once we were ready we looked at the stern anchor tied to a cleat and wondered how to get it up. We decided to tie a float to it and let it go. We tied the float and then debated how to get the tension off when it decided for us. The rope rode chafed through on coral and we lost our 33 lb. Bruce anchor with 30 ft of chain. We swung onto our bow anchor and we were still a safe distance from the reef so we decided to wait and see if we could ride out the night. The wind subsided and slowly clocked back to the Southeast so we were safe but we didn't feel good about that anchorage and left the next day for Palmerston. Palmerston Island is the South Pacific we dreamed about. I won't do it justice here but the Ports of Call for this special place will hopefully be equally special. As you arrive you are met by a boat (or in our case 2 boats) and these people become your host family. Your host family takes you in like family and they coordinate everything for you including island excursions and visits with other families. We ate every meal on the island mostly of local dishes and it was delicious. It was magical and marvelous and we will try to return when we come back from New Zealand next season. We have heard good things about Niue and from there we only have a 2 day sail to Tonga. Stay tuned...Jim and Hellen on Go West.

Cook Islands 7-28-98

GoWest is now a certified speed demon.  We just sailed from Bora Bora to Aitutaki in the Cook Islands in 3 days and change.  That is 470 miles in 76 hours.  It blew 30 to 35 knots the whole way and it was rough but we had the boat set up really well and nothing broke. We are know anchored outside the reef at Aitutaki which is a little rolly but it is much better than a few hours ago at sea in 12 foot chop. Along the way we caught a 62 inch Dorado (Mahi Mahi).  This thing was so huge I couldn't lift it over the lifelines so Hellen had to grab it and help me throw it in the cockpit. We decided to bypass Aitutaki and sail straight to Palmerston Island but the winds shifted and we were pretty tired from the rough weather so we came in.  We will probably stay a couple of days and check out the island. We are still looking for the 15 to 20 knot trade winds we have heard so much about but 30 knots is better than 10 knots and banging sails. Next stop is Palmerston Island which is inhabited by 52 people and they really roll out the red carpet for visiting sailboats.  We will pick some stuff up for them while we are here and bring it as they only get a supply ship 4 times a year.  More soon...Jim and Hellen

Morea 7-24-98

We are leaving Bora Bora tomorrow for the Cook Islands and we are sad to say farewell to French Polynesia. The weather hasn't been great but the people have been so nice. It is very expensive compared to Mexico but it is also more developed and modern without excess. We are looking forward to returning to islands where English is the official second language. We have been able to get by in French and Spanish but we can only express complex ideas in English so we haven't been able to speak to many of the locals about their view of the world. For those that knew me in Europe, my French improved but it is still pretty bad. Since our last update we were visited by our friends, Marta and Dave. We were apprehensive about having guests on board for a week and taking them on a long overnight sail. It really worked out great and it was kind of fun to move at the pace of professionals on a week's vacation. We pretty much kept up but we were exhausted at the end of the week. We had sat in Papeete for 5 weeks and Moorea for 3 weeks and then did Moorea, Tahaa and Bora Bora in 6 days. We skipped Raiatea and Huahine but we stayed another week in Bora Bora to really check it out. I don't think we missed much and we had two real highlights. The first was a jeep tour of the Tahaa led by Alain Plantier. The tour, known as the Vanilla Tour, takes 4 to 5 hours and covers most of the island including some high scenic lookouts. Alian stops frequently to explain the plants of the island and how they were used by the natives and how they are used today. Many pictures from this tour will grace the Tahaa Ports of Call. The second high point was our dive with the stingrays in Bora Bora Lagoon. We actually did this twice because I didn't bring my camera the first time. Both times we followed a guided tour boat and anchored with them in 4 ft. of water. In both cases they were very kind about our joining their group. They feed the stingrays calamary to get a group of 15 to 20 rays ranging from 3 to 4 feet across. The rays are very friendly and swim right up to you and let you touch them. The boat guide actually picks up a ray and it seems to enjoy it because it swims into his hands and doesn't try to get away. Again, we will have pictures in the Bora Bora ports of call. Speaking of pictures, I have been bad and I haven't had my last 2 rolls of film developed and I haven't made significant update since Tahiti. We are know leaving Bora Bora so it will have to wait until Tonga in about 3 weeks. Now that our e-mail is working we will keep the Hot News updated and we will be able to respond to some e-mail. Keep them short. No attachments. Hopefully we will get to an internet cafe somewhere down the road and we will be able to really catch up on e-mail soon. I think it is about to get really interesting. Keep checking in on us...Jim and Hellen

Morea 6-26-98

We made it out of Papeete.  Papeete was a very nice city and it was great to be in civilization but after almost 5 weeks we were ready to go.  We were waiting for the return of our radar and SSB radio which had been sent out on warranty repair.  They arrived last week but unfortunately the radar didn't work.  We actually had a very bad experience with Furuno and after they had 2 shots at fixing our radar and failed both times we decided to buy a new Raytheon radar which will be delivered by friends coming to visit us in the Leeward Islands.  We will detail the problems we had with Furuno in the Vessel section later in the July update. This update is being sent by our new onboard e-mail system.  This system is provided by sailmail and info can be found at www.sailmail.com.  It is inexpensive and works great so we should be in better touch with the outside world now. For those few that had our Pinoak address you can send mail directly by replacing Pinoak with Sailmail in the address.  We don't give out our email adddress on Sailmail on this page because we get quite a bit of spam (no offense Hormel because we eat a lot of Spam onboard) in our Yahoo and MSN accounts. Because of the cost and time to get these e-mails, they are checked out by our Webmaster before there are forwarded on to us on the boat. Morea is beautiful, but the weather so far hasn't been. Therefore we haven't explored much of the Island yet. We had our first trade wind sailing since leaving Mexico in the short crossing from Tahiti.  The winds blew 15 to 20 knots from the East and South East and we averaged 6.5 knots while getting here in 3 hours.  We can only pray that we experience this many more times in the future.

Radio problem 6-05-98

The Furuno radar service center was unable to fix our radar and we are mailing it back to the US.  Furuno USA has been very accommodating and they are picking up return freight and the labor we paid in Tahiti even though our radar is only under parts warranty.  They also promise to turn it quickly. SGC was very easy to deal with on our radio.  They quickly agreed that there was a problem with our reception.  They gave me a simple test to determine if it was something that I could replace and I screwed it up.  I essentially plugged the transmitter into the receiver and transmitted doing some real damage.  When I called them back they said send it up and they would fix it all under warranty. We are going to be here until at least the 20th of June but we will hop across to Morea and get that in so when our stuff arrives we will be ready to leave for Raiatea. Our furler is a week late but we are enjoying Tahiti so we are not bothered.  We rented a car and drove around the island with Dick and Katie of Mermaid.  Took a lot of pictures and we will post them in the big update in 2 to 3 weeks.

Tahitian Islands 6-01-98

We arrived in Tahiti last week.  The city and harbor of Papeete are much nicer than we had heard.  Tahiti is expensive for imported items but it is not as bad as we had thought.  It is fairly easy to buy duty free gear for the boat but it must be ordered and air freighted in which can offset the savings.  We have purchased a new staysail furler and it is a French Profurl system so it is being air freighted from France and has a delivered cost equal to the West Marine price.   We are very pleased.  We found a Furuno service center here and they are fixing our radar with parts supplied for free from Furuno USA.  Again, we are very pleased.  We are working on getting a new system for e-mail on the boat.  We are working with HF Radio in Alameda and we will report progress when we have some.  Our radio just doesn't have the reception of other boats even with our exact model radio and we have tried replacing the antenna, hanging copper in the water and replacing all of the connections but nothing has improved our situation.  We will begin work with the radio company but I don't think they will help because it is not that it isn't working, it just doesn't work very well. When we arrived we went to the store to buy fresh produce.  We had not had a real salad since Mexico.  At the store it lettuce was marked as 1600 PFr (100PFr to the $1 US).  We weren't sure if that was a head or a Kilo but thankfully it was a kilo and a head only cost 270.  If you buy local items the prices aren't too bad but imported items are expensive.  The people here have been really nice.  They are reserved and you need to make some kind of gesture to begin a conversation but they will often then become quite friendly and helpful.  Crime is not a big problem though there have been thefts from the boats so you need to lock up when you are not aboard.  Internet access is controlled by the government post office and they charge a $1 per minute for access so we are not going to respond to many of the e-mails we have received.  I am not sure when we will be able to correct this, hopefully in Tonga. There is a lot of great cruising ahead of us in French Polynesia so we don't expect to get to Tonga until late July and then we will stay there until October.  We are saving Fiji for the following year.  It has been tough getting here but we are now beginning to feel we have arrived and we are getting optimistic about our destinations over the next several months. We will remain in Tahiti for 2 more weeks and we will send out a full update before we go.  These Hot News updates will be spaced out a little more until we work out our e-mail issues on board.  We hope you don't get bored and forget about us!

Marquises 5-15-98

We sailed from the Marquises to the Tuamotus in 5 days.  We had light winds but consistently from the East.  Boats arriving a few days after us had 15 to 20 knots from the South East and made it in 3 to 4 days. The trip is 500 miles so they were smoking.  The atolls are interesting.  We are in the atoll of Ahe.  It is considered an easy entrance and there is a marked channel inside the atoll to the anchorage.  We still had Hellen up the ratlines conning for an hour while we made our way past the coral heads.  It is amazing the way coral rises up out of nowhere.  At the entrance our depth sounder, which reads to 600 feet, got its first reading at 45 feet.  The coral heads inside the atoll rise from a depth of 150 feet to the surface vertically.  The trick is judging when a coral head is far enough below the surface to be considered safe.  In the anchorage the coral is everywhere so you need to pick a place where you will swing over coral deeper than you draft.  When you anchor your chain ends up weaving through coral.  A chain rode is a must!  The good news is that you don't swing in a very large circle.  The bad news is that it can be difficult to get the anchor back up.  The coral around the anchorage is mostly dead from the damage it receives but there are few sandy bottoms so you have little choice. The coral outside the atoll is very alive and provides the best habitat for sea life.  It is not easy to get out there and dive.  You need to got to the leeward side of the atoll which puts you on a lee shore inside the atoll making a rough dinghy landing.  We are still trying to figure this one out.  There is some stuff to see inside the atoll and we are planning to do a night dive tonight or tomorrow. Next we will go either to Rangiroa or on to Tahiti.  In Tahiti we will catch up on e-mail and get our radar fixed.  We will also look into better communications gear.

Marquises 5-07-98

Yes ..... here it is one month to the day (plus a day ) that weYou probably already know we arrived safely in the Marquises with only a few problems to address.  We are now on our way to the Tuamotus.  We were having radio problems from early in the trip and we eventually couldn't even hear a boat 100 miles away when we should have been able to communicate thousands of miles.  Our e-mail is sent via this radio to New Jersey so needless to say we couldn't send or receive e-mail. We also lost our inverter so we couldn't generate AC power and couldn't use the computer.  We ripped our mainsail when I tied a reefline too tight.  We ripped our Genoa on a screw sticking out of the rat lines I added for coral spotting.  Our staysail furler started sticking when the top bearing got sticky and caused the halyard block to hang on furler extrusion.  Our topping lift failed at the masthead so we had to use our spare halyard as a topping lift.  The radar failed somewhere on the trip.  It just stopped picking up targets but seemed to function normally so we didn't know until we arrived in the Marquises and it didn't pick up the islands.  The drum on the wheel for the lined from the windvane broke but it was held on with hose clamps and was easily repaired.  The head hose on the back head plugged but we should have replaced the hose as it was the only original head hose left and we had the replacement on board. All of these problems are now repaired in some fashion except the radar and the boat is ready to go for the next leg.  It sounds bad but we actually had fewer problems than most boats.  One of the first boats in our fleet from Mexico ended up on a reef in the Tuamotus with a hole and was loaded on a barge to Tahiti.  Another lost its mast with all sails and furlers over the side sailing between islands in the Marquises.  They are putting a temporary mast made of 2 X 8's to get them to Tahiti. The boat I mentioned previously that had rig and engine trouble in the crossing is sitting in Nuku Hiva waiting for an engine and they will be here for 2 more months. It has been a tough year.  It is still a tough year.  The weather sucks!  It has been raining every day several times a day since we arrived in Nuku Hiva.   There have been Cyclones swirling around south of us. The trade winds have started to blow so we are about to take off for the next stop. The islands have good provisions and fuel is readily available at about $3.30 a gallon which is much cheaper than we had heard it would cost. We took an island tour by Land Rover and visited several villages on the island.  Our driver was a local from one of the villages and he gave the trip a lot of local color.  He took us to his family garden and loaded us up on local grapefruit (Pamplemousse) and gave us a rare ripe Papaya.  It has been raining since January so there is little in the way of ripe vegetables and fruit.  We visited Bai de Tai Pi.  We landed our dinghies on the left side of the beach in front of the village and walked up the road about a quarter mile to a large white house on stilts.  This is where Daniel lives.  Daniel is the local gardener and herbalist for the village. He is from Martinique and came to the Marquises while he was a French Gendarme.  Daniel likes visitors and speaks good English.  He has a good vegetable selection when the weather is good. The local cruiser hangout in Nuku Hiva is the Keikahanui Inn run by Rose Corser.  She is currently rebuilding and the plans indicate that it will be an impressive little resort.  The bar has log books going back a dozen years with all of the cruisers that have passed through. It would be a great place for a vacation in the Marquises.  Her number is (689) 92 03 82 and Fax (689) 92 00 74.  We are no longer able to send e-mail from the boat until we get some new communication gear so these won't get through as often but I will still try to write on a schedule and send them when I can.

Marquises 5-05-98

Yes ..... here it is one month to the day (plus a day ) that we arrives in the Marsuises Islands. We are having big problems with our radar radio signals, therefore e-mail capability has been out of our hands. Other than the immediate problem communicating with the rest of the world, we are otherwise feeling good about reaching our immediate goal. A little tired, but satisfied. We don't know when our next attempt to email back to the general populous will be successful, but we look forward to when that will happen. We will be here for a couple of days (well maybe a week) before attempting the crossing to Tahiti. Hopefully, the problem with our radio communication will be figured out soon and we can renew our e-mail capability with the rest of the human race. Until then... we wish everyone the best of times and hope all of you continue to try and communicate with us. Jim and Helen

Equator 4-13-98

Happy Easter.  We almost forgot.  It is hard to know what day it is.  About every 3 days I think to tear the pages off of our Farside calendar.  You know the date because of log entries but the day of the week becomes irrelevant out here.  We just crossed the Equator 4/13/98 at Longitude 128 degrees 36.05 minutes west at 21:52 45 Z or GMT which is 1:52:45 PM PST.  We are 800 miles from the Marquises.   The winds are light from the north but the easterly trades should fill by tomorrow.  We anticipate arriving on 4/20 or 4/21.  We have had some big days recently as we skirted the equator a few degrees north.  We heard that boats ahead of us were becalmed just south so we decided to head west and we were doing 140 to 160 miles a day.  Now we are heading south because the weather predictions from Hawaii say the trades will move north.  We have been pulling the weatherfax from Hawaii at 1412Z and 1428Z which give the 24 hr and 48 hr wind predictions. It has been very accurate.  Lets hope it holds because we are making a bold move based on their prediction. We have learned a couple of things out here.  The first is that this is a long trip and you need to take it easy and go easy on the hardware.  We have been lucky so far in that the equipment failures we have suffered have all been repairable. Others have had a rougher time.  One boat is currently sitting 300 miles from the Marquises with rigging damage and a blown engine.  They are hoping to get a tow.  For a long journey like this you need to take it real easy and make your equipment last.  As Jimmy Wheeler told us "Reef early and often".  You need to carry a lot of spares to fix the inevitable failures.   Go through every system and consider how you would repair a failure at sea or could you get by without. You need to have your Karma account in balance.  Luck is either good or bad out here and it is a lot better if it is good.  Bad luck can be magnified when you are 1000 miles from anything.  If you have traditionally bad luck with your boat you should take a step back and examine why.   If the answers aren't obvious then maybe you or your boat is not cut out for long ocean passages. You need to be in reasonably good shape.   I am not sure we qualify under this but we have been tired out by only modestly rough weather that persisted for several days Our lesson here is that we need to be in better shape.  The boat constantly moves and when the waves are built by 25 knot winds the boat swings through an arc of 40 to 50 degrees constantly and sometimes violently.  It is tiring just to sit up and there are no breaks. Now that you have been bombarded by gloom and doom, lets lighten things up a little.  You could get the impression that we are having a miserable time.  That is not true.  We are not having a blast but we are doing fine and we are getting excited about the So. Pacific.  We have been studying French and it is coming back to both of us.  Hellen has prepared a good meal each day since we left Clarion.  We had Wahoo 5 days in a row because we don't have a freezer.  Wahoo sushi and Wahoo fish sticks were my favorites.  We are now fishing for a tuna. Next message should come from the Marquises in a week or so.  Keep thinking of us... Jim and Hellen

33% done 4-08-98

We have been under sail for a week and the scale of this crossing is sinking in.  We are only a little over 1/3 of the way from Mazatlan to the Marquises after traveling a little over 2 weeks.  We stopped in Clarion Island for 4 days but we are still averaging just under 100 miles a day. This works out to a passage that will take about 26 days at sea.  We had planned on a trip of this length, but now that we are out here, it seems like a long time. Two milestones are approaching that will lift our spirits and they are not far off.  The half way point is just a couple of days away and we should reach the Equator in a week or less. We have done well fishing.  We heard that you don't catch much in the middle of the ocean.  You need to be near an island or seamount.  We have caught 2 Mahi Mahi and we caught a 40 inch Wahoo.  The Wahoo was a toothy critter so we poured Mescal on his gills and waited for him to die.  Kind of cruel but it isn't easy to get medical attention out here. Our Dutchman Flaking System on out Main has lost all of its lines from chafe under way.  Starting from the back they went about one every 3 days.  I guess this system is not cut out for ocean crossings. It is a grind but we are making progress.  This was written over several days and we are now at Latitude 5 degrees North and Longitude 122 degrees West.  It is Wednesday night 4/8 and we are 1300 miles from the Marquises.  Wish us continued luck and keep watching.

journey begins 4-04-98

We reluctantly pulled out of Clarion Island on April Fool's Day and began our 2200 mile journey to the Marquises Islands. Before departing we had the good fortune to snorkel with whales nearby and we could hear their calls in the water. We had 2 adults and a juvenile swim between our anchored boats and we saw many breeches a mile or so off shore. When we departed the crew of Maranatha decided to fly their spinnaker which we felt was being a little arrogant so we decided that an April Fool's joke would be just the thing to put them in their place. After they had doused the chute and settled into a comfortable tack with Tweed and us we put out a call on the radio. We announced that a periscope had shot passed our stern at about 25 knots and had almost taken our fishing gear. We informed Maranatha and Tweed that it was headed their way and they would only be able to see it about 100 yards before it arrived. Both boats flew into action, pulling in their fishing gear and posting a deck watch on the starboard side. We waited about 10 minutes and then informed them that they were victims of an April Fool's Day joke. They vowed revenge but we have not suffered to date. We are now 3 days out of Clarion doing about 120 miles a day in good conditions. We are at Latitude 15 degrees North and Longitude 117 degrees West. If all goes well we should arrive around 4/20.

Three days out 3-25-98

Ahoy from the high seas! It is day three and we are 180 miles out of Mazatlan and about 100 miles south of Cabo San Lucas. The first day out we had 25 knot winds and lumpy seas and Hellen suffered a little Mal de Mer but she was feeling better yesterday and today she whipped up a big breakfast. We lost the wind yesterday and powered for about 24 hours but we are now getting a 12 knot southerly breeze and making about 5 knots. We are kind of a slug with all of the food, fuel and water we are carrying. We are traveling with the vessels Maranantha and Tweed. We took a more northerly course to our intermediate destination of Clarion Island. They both took a direct course and naturally the wind shifted to the south and now we are beating while they are on a close reach. We check in each night on a Marine SSB net that tracks Marquises bound boats and relays weather and conditions. The net is operated on 4.060Mhz at 0130 UCT. That is 5:30 PM PST. I don't now what it is Marquises time but we plan to change when we reach Clarion Is. We adjusted to life on the sea faster than expected. I have had trouble sleeping at sea but I took a nap the first day and I have slept well both nights. Hellen didn't feel well the first day but she still took her watches and she has slept well also. We are really beginning to enjoy the sailing and now we are getting serious about catching some fish! That is all for now but we will write again from Clarion Island. It is now day four. We couldn't send our e-mail yesterday so we are trying again today. Pinoak is very frustrating! We had to dodge a couple of ships last night and we are still floundering in light southerly winds. The forecasts look like we will get normal Northwest winds within 24 hours. We are looking forward to it. We will write from Clarion Island and hopefully we will be able to e-mail it! We are at Clarion Island and we are having a great time. We were the last of 4 boats to arrive within 6 hours of each other. We are here with Maranatha, Mermaid and Tweed. The precise coordinates of the anchorage are L 180 20.60' N, Lo 1140 43.67' W. The anchorage is fairly large, comfortable for 6 boats. You need to anchor within the 2 points or you get the refracted waves from the east and west sides of the island and it is very rolly. It is a difficult night approach but if you must then you may want to anchor in 60 feet so you are outside of the unlit point on starboard as you approach. There is a light on the port side of the anchorage. There is a Navy base up the hill fromthe anchorage and you should announce your arrival and intended stay.They will probably come and inspect your paperwork. They are very friendly and this shouldn't be a concern. The seafood is excellent and a few lobsters somehow climbed into our dinghy but we are not saying where we were because we want them to having a fighting chance.Our sail so far has gone very smoothly and we really feel like we are getting good at handling the boat. We had winds from light to 35knots and from the nose to broad reach and we handled all of it well.We used the windvane to steer when there was wind and we had it dialed in very well. We are ready for the next leg. Hopefully we will be able to send an e-mail from sea but the way Pinoak is performing I wouldn't count on it.

Rays Fish Tale 3-18-98

Ready to set sail 3-18-98

We are working feverishly to get ready for our departure from Mazatlan to the Marquises 3/21. We are finishing Rat Lines up our lower stays so we can climb up to look down on approaching coral. We need to fill 3 bladder tanks with diesel from 6 gal. cans and change the oil and filters. We must check out of Mexico and say goodbye to the friends we leave behind. Lastly, we need to celebrate our 10th anniversary on 3/19.

We will try to update Hot News once a week but don&146;t count on it. Wish us luck and stay tuned.

Update from the Sea 01-07-97

Since leaving La Paz on 12/21, we have been exploring the several islands and anchorages. We have been making our own water and generating our power so we are truly self sufficient if you ignore the fuel we are using. We have ridden out several storms at anchorage and we got caught in one day before yesterday while underway. We left San Evaristo for Aqua Verde which is a 50 mile sail north. The wind was from the north but light. In the afternoon the wind began to build and the forecast called for strong north winds the following day so they were early.

We got to the anchorage at Aqua Verde around 4:00 in the afternoon and found a Mexican fishing boat and a 50 ft sailboat both anchored with rope instead of chain rodes. This means they swing in a wide arch and it didn't leave sufficient room for us to anchor. we quickly looked at our charts and guides and determined that we couldn't get to another anchorage with protection from north wind before dark so we decided to sail back to San Evaristo.

The winds continued to build and the seas were getting to 6 feet in short steep waves. We double reefed the main and powered at low speed. We got the boat moving at about 5 to 6 knots with a pretty comfortable motion and settled in for the long sail back. The waves got bigger and the wind got to about 30 knots but the waves also spread out so it actually became pretty easy. We didn't realize how rough it was until we turned around to lower the main before entering the anchorage. When we turned around the wind was blowing 35 knots and we were sticking the bowsprit into the waves as Hellen was up lashing down the main. We then drove sideways through this rolling 30 degrees in each direction for a 1/4 mile. We knew this anchorage but it is still difficult to enter at night. We couldn't see any anchor lights but that doesn't mean there are no boats because some inconsiderate sailors don't operate an anchor light at night to save power. In this case we were lucky and we entered the empty anchorage.We have a 1 million candle power spotlight and we used it to orient ourselves in the rock walled anchorage and dropped the hook in 24 ft of water. It didn't hold the first time but the second try got it. We were joined by 5 boats yesterday because this is a good place to ride out this ugly weather.

 

Happy New Year 1998 - 01/01/98

Right after I sent the last message the north winds, or Northers as they are known locally, really built in. We had maximum sustained winds of 48 knots the 28th and 45 knots the 29th. Our ground tackle got a workout but we survived. It let up yesterday and we moved north a few miles to Ensanada Grande on Isla Partida. We are going to hang here for a day or two and then move north 28 miles to San Evaristo on the peninsula across from Isla San Jose. Everything is working well except the watermaker. I have been struggling with an air leak in the pre-filter but I think I got it fixed this time with a liberal application of sealant. It takes a couple of days to cure so we won't know until I can reinstall it next year. If I can't get it working we will certainly be in Mazatlan by the 15th because we will be out of water!

Have a Happy New Year and good fortune in 1998

New Year on the Way (12-27-97)

We left La Paz 12/21 and headed for Caleta Partida on the north side of Isla Espiritu Santo just 20 miles from La Paz. The bay faces west and the first 2 day we had strong west winds so it was rough in the bay. We had a 175 foot mega-yacht, the Royal Pacific, anchored several hundred feet in front of us which broke some of the wind and waves but if they dragged their anchor we were history. A local fishing boat dragged with the crew onboard asleep so I got the courage to get in the dinghy and go wake them up before they went ashore. I figured that the boat supported the whole fishing village here and losing it would have been a real hardship so I needed to brave the rough conditions. We were joined by Our Pleasure and they invited us for Christmas dinner. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day enjoyed good weather though we had wind at night. Dinner was incredible, it amazed us all that we could put on such a good meal anchored in the middle of nowhere. Pat cooked a really large turkey to perfection in a boat oven which is an accomplishment. Hellen made a great peach and cherry cobbler though we didn't have ice cream, it is tough out here! The North winds started early on the 26th and we have been bobbing on our anchor ever since. This bay is well protected from the waves with this wind direction so we are hanging out until they die down and we can move further north on Isla Partida to Ensenada Grande.

Merry Christmas (12-20-97)

We are departing La Paz tomorrow and though we are sad to leave this great town but we are excited to finally begin our cruising. To this point we have been rushing from marina to marina and we have not spent much at the beautiful anchorages we anticipated. We departed with many a number of projects incomplete and we uncovered some new problems which needed attention but we were able to get everything handled in La Paz and we are ready to get out here. We plan to spend 3 to 4 weeks in the islands and coves between La Paz and Aqua Verde and then cross to Mazatlan. We should be able to update Hot News and the log with our progress and post a complete update a couple of weeks after we arrive in Mazatlan. The crew of Go West wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

Happy Thanksgiving/Merry Christmas (12-08-97)

We have been in La Paz for 3 weeks and we plan to be here another 10 days or so. It is a very nice town, it is clean and crime free. There are several large hotels that are not open. I think the locals don't want to promote tourism because they fear it will become another Cabo San Lucas.

We are having a lot of things taken care of on the boat. These were all things that we wanted to do in SF but we didn't get around to it. It turns out is was worth the wait because the boat people here are good and it is much cheaper. We are paying $20 / hr. for a rigger and a carpenter and they are both from the US and trained in the US. We are having our anchor roller modified for our Max anchor and all stainless work is done at the Pepsi plant. They do beautiful work and the charge 100 pesos an hour which is about $13.

Next we leave for the islands north of La Paz and we will try to work our way to Loreto if the weather cooperates. Late in January we will come back down to cross to Mazatlan and begin working toward Puerto Vallarta. If the El Nino doesn't kill the trade winds we will depart in April for the Society Islands. We are thinking of renting a car and driving to San Carlos on the Pacific side of Baja to see Magdalena Bay which we skipped on the way down. It will be the first time we rented a car since leaving SF. We are looking forward to getting underway again just before Christmas. Have a great Christmas and New Year..

Hot News (11-13-97)

This is finally a report from the boat. We have had difficulty with our e-mail connectivity from Pinoak but as long as we are away from radio interference and not surrounded by masts we can connect at the most favorable times of day. Pinoak oversells their service so beware! We will put more on this in the Vessel section in a month or so. During this time our Webmaster Extrodinaire, Mike, has been filling in based on brief phone conversations and his recent trip with us down the Pacific coast of Baja.

We just completed the Baja Haha IV race from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. We tied for third (no one places lower than third). We finished the race with only minor damage, a destroyed boom vang and near loss of the boom. From the chatter on the radio we considered ourselves fortunate. There were 2 powerboats in the fleet which seemed odd at first but given the lack of wind in legs 2 and 3 the whole fleet became powerboats and the 2 designed for that mode of propulsion were kicking our butts. One of the powerboats, "Song of San Francisco", lost a crew member to a heart at tack in Bahia Santa Maria despite truly heroic efforts on the part of several doctors and EMT trained members of the fleet. The victim's name was Jane Kelly and though we had not met her she was remembered fondly by those who new her.

Cabo San Lucas is like Monaco, at least in the harbor. M Dock is filled with huge powerboats. We were sandwiched in on this dock and we felt a little out of place. The Cabo San Lucas Marina went to great lengths to accommodate boats arriving on the race and they managed to get over half of the fleet into some kind of dock. The office staff was totally overloaded but they managed to keep a smile and made the stay enjoyable. We dealt with Sylvia and she was really great. Our hats our off to the great crew at the marina.

We are now working our way up the Baja coast to La Paz. We are currently at anchor at Bahia de Los Muertos, the bay of the dead! We spent 2 days at Las Frailes at a very uncomfortably rolly anchorage. We barely slept for 2 days. Things are much calmer here and we are getting ready to do some snorkeling. We had pizza last night made by Ragged Edge on shore. He took over the "franchise" from Sourdough. Apparently this is a well known stop for cruisers. I will get my pictures developed in La Paz and will update the Ports of Call in a month or so. We should begin to update with text about once a week. Stayed tuned!

 

We Are Back (10-14-97)

Yes we are back here at the web site.....Right after we left we experienced problems with the cable that hooked our computer up to the wireless communication system. As a result we have been without computer communication and haven't been able to link up with our web page. We have slightly changed our format here on the Hot News page to show the most current news first. We thought it would be a more popular format to give you the most recent news first. Hope you all like this format.... if not write to us to complain and at least I will email you back to tell you why we won't change back..... I will be catching up with all of the e-mail we have received over the next couple of days.. so stay tuned and don't be upset. We both look forward to hearing from everyone interested in our trip and it's corresponding adventures. Thanks ..... Captain Jim. To check out other things that have happened to us refer to the log pages for our story till now.

 

Moving Out (09-14-97)

The second week of September has begun the final process of moving out of the house. Most of our possessions have been put away in storage. All of our most valued possessions have been distributed out to various relatives and close friends. Hopefully these will be easy to retrieve upon our return home (FAT CHANCE). Most of the final gear has been moved to the boat and now resides on the galley floor beneath the deck. It makes for a real interesting adventure to get from one end of the galley to the other. The next several days will be spent labeling where everything is and stowing it away in the hold. The intent here is that we will be able to find things when we need them. (Honey .... where did we hide the extra toilet paper!!!)

Wet Again (09-07-97)

Yes, here it is the first week of September and the boat has been dumped back into the place where she rightfully belongs. Her bottom side is now all wet and the gal couldn't be happier. At least not until we pick up anchor and proceed through the Golden Gate Bridge. All kinds of last minute task remain that seem to fill up every waking moment of every day. New electronic instrumentation is still being installed and all of the old wiring being replaced. Another day was spent replacing the wind meter on top of the mast. Actually it was two days, as the first day was spent with us figuring out that the afternoon wind in San Francisco Bay is not the place to learn to hang from a mast trying to use both hands to work on something. After all this town is know for its windy conditions on the water. The second day started at 7:30 AM enabling the crew to finish up before she started to blow in the true San Francisco tradition.

 

Boat Work (08-14-97)

The boat is currently "On The Hard" at KKMI in Richmond, CA. We discovered some blisters in the bottom and we are having to do some more extensive work than originally planned so we are not going back in the water until the beginning of September. Most of the work is now being performed by the yard so we are working on the house and getting packed. We also have had time to get the web page ready for turnover to Mike Broneau.