Sunday, July 27, 2014


Well, it finally happened, we are back in the real world in Arizona. We decided to take a break from our cruise and return to civilization for a while. Starshine is on the hard in Raiatea in French Polynesia and we are now looking for work (ugh, that 4-letter word). Our French Polynesia visa was up and we couldn't decide whether we should continue on West or head back to the states via Hawaii so we decided to stop and take a break. It was an amazing experience and we hope to continue on someday. In the meantime, if anyone needs a good program manager or contract manager, give us a call!! :)

Here are a few pix from our snorkeling in Bora Bora. The sharks are circling!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bora Bora

Bora Bora - we have arrived. Actually we have been here for over a week now enjoying the beautiful blue green waters of the lagoon. Snorkeling is a must here and Dave is loving the ability to swim with the sharks and sting rays. Gail prefers to watch those from the dinghy! However, yesterday we saw quite a few angel and zebra fish along with a good sized parrot fish and a very large barracuda. The most interesting though was a very large black moray eel. Thank goodness he did not travel too far from his hole!

So for the last week we have been doing the usual exploring, eating, and swimming and really appreciating our last few days here in Paradise. The Heiva festival has been ongoing throughout all the South Pacific islands. We had the chance to view the dancing, singing, and copra contests. I would like to see the rock lifting contest but haven't found it yet. And then there are the javelin, mini marathon, and canoe racing contests.... The locals definitely stay busy around here. As usual, the pictures tell the better story so enjoy!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Moorea - Cooks Bay Part 2

We are still enjoying the beauty here in Cooks Bay at Moorea. The original idea was to spend the first half of the week in Cooks Bay and then move over to the neighboring Opunohu Bay for the second half of the week, but we can't tear ourselves away from this amazing Cooks Bay. We have decided that it is the best anchorage we have ever been in and it is hard to leave. The anchorage itself is far enough inside the bay which is surrounded by the reef so that it is calm and easy to forget we are even on the water! While the depth is a little deeper than what we like at 50 feet, the mud makes for good holding and with the calm water there is no concern about dragging. The bay is large enough that there is plenty of room for the approximately ten boats that seem to remain here (seems cavernous after the hundreds of boats at Tahiti). Add to all this the most spectacular beauty and views of the lush, green mountain sides and we can easily see why Captain Cook and the rest of the world was (is) so captivated by the place!

Yesterday, we rented a scooter and toured the island. First stop was the view from Belvedere where we could see both bays at once with Mount Rotui in between - amazing! We stopped at the Tiki Village where Gail bought yet another pareo (where is she going to wear them in the states?) and the village also had an exhibit of the Paul Ganguin paintings who portrayed Polynesian culture through his artwork. Also had another amazing view towards Tahiti by To'atea Beach. Speaking of the beach, apparently the French enjoy their topless beaches in France and when we stopped by the beach, Dave got an eye full from the very young 10 year olds to the young in spirit 70 year olds. Enough said! We also toured the Mo'orea and Manutea Tahiti Juice factory where we stocked up on such exotic juices as banana vanilla and pineapple coconut and also some of the best vanilla beans. Last Sunday we attended the Protestant church (there is no Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. - just Protestant and Catholic churches) and although we could not understand the sermon, the music was beautiful and inspiring. Many thanks to Matu who came and sat next to us and attempted to interpret for us!

So we are very much enjoying Cooks Bay.... However, the plan is to spend a least a night or two next door at Opunohu Bay before departing Sunday for Raiatea and boat maintenance such as bottom cleaning and head cleaning. But in the meantime, let me enjoy my few remaining days here in the most beautiful island so far in the world.....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Moorea - Cooks Bay

Friday we escaped the clutches of Tahiti and arrived in Moorea which took us about three hours and what a difference! The anchorage in Tahiti had hundreds of boats and the anchorage here in Cooks Bay at Moorea has only about ten boats with gorgeous scenery! Last night we discovered a Happy Hour at a local hotel with Polynesian dancing which was so much fun. After, we had a lovely dinner with friends Jerry and Gail at a fish restaurant. Note the picture where the owner was convincing us on the freshness of the Mahi Mahi. I had the coconut parrot fish entree which I had never heard of before (it is a reef fish) and it was amazingly delicious! We plan on renting a scooter later this week to tour the island so more to come on this delightful place, but I've posted a few pictures of our initial impressions.

Monday, June 9, 2014


We have arrived at Tahiti, island of dreams for many and I can certainly see why as the island is so beautiful. Congratulations Dave - you made it after 40 years in the making! Actually Dave has done an amazing job of getting us here as the Tuamotus atolls with their many narrow passes and pounding reefs were not easy to navigate. Dave was constantly researching and questioning the local tide tables for slack, low, and high tides as well as incoming and outgoing currents to determine the best time to make the pass through the narrow cuts in the reefs. And all that needed to be timed on when we would arrive at the next atoll as we did not want to arrive at night, so Dave had his work cut out for him, but like I said, he did an amazing job and he is actually still sane! So he has thankfully put that task behind him as we have now left the Tuamotus and are now officially in the Society Islands which include Tahiti, Moorea, Raitea, and Bora Bora along with others. Personally, I believe the Society Islands are the best of all as they encompass the dramatic lush mountain tops with sheer cliffs of the Marquesas along with the shallow beautiful blue lagoons of the Tuamotus.

The last two days have been spent sightseeing. Friday we spent the day touring the town of Papeete which included the municipal market and a pearl (not pearl farm) museum. This is a long weekend for the locals since tomorrow is a holiday (Pentecostal Monday) and Friday afternoon traffic was unbelievable - rivals LA traffic as we crawled along the one main road back to the marina! Yesterday, we toured the entire island by car (10 hours!) courtesy of a local guide. Corrine was wonderful as she grew up on this island and her ancestors go back many generations. She was so informative and provided so much local knowledge and legends. Thank you Corrine for your many stories and the view from your home! We now feel as though we have explored Tahiti and have a better idea and feel for this beautiful island. Of course, Dave and I think the best part of all is to watch the sunset every evening over the island of Moorea from the cockpit of our boat. With all that being said (and since I have internet), I will go ahead and let the pictures tell the story....

Saturday, May 31, 2014


We are currently visiting and exploring the delightful atoll of Rangiroa - the largest one of the Tuamotus and our last one before heading on to Tahiti in a few days. Although it has been rainy and gusty here, we were able to dodge squalls yesterday and do some sightseeing. We rented bicycles and rode along the main road of about 10 miles round trip. We stopped and had lunch at a pizza restaurant and had first rate view of the water. Seems like in forever that I have had a pizza, and considering where we are and that is was made by a French man that did not speak English, it was quite good. We also visited another pearl farm, Gauguin's Pearl Farm, which was very informative. After visiting several farms in the Tuamotus, I recommend this one for the best value, friendliness, and large selection to choose from. Sadly, we did not get to visit the world's most exotic winery, Tahiti Wines, since the owner was in Tahiti and apparently it is quite a boat expedition to visit that must be prearranged. The reason that it is the most exotic winery is because the grapes are grown in the coral here. We were able to pick up a couple of bottles though in the local "magazins" (grocery stores). One bottle is said to provide the hint of "coral" or "rocks" along with the aromas of honey and papayas. We have not tasted it yet, so will have to weigh in on those claims later.

The prior day, we were finally able to do the drift "dive" or snorkel through the Tiputa pass here at Rangiroa. Dave and I took the dinghy to the pass, jumped in while holding the line and the strong current brought us in through the pass while we viewed the varied sea life below - amazing! The water is so crystal clear, we were able to see to the bottom and along with the coral saw quite a variety of fish. Dave even saw a black tip shark! Thank goodness Gail did not see it or she probably would not have gone again and again and again... And did I mention that the water here is 84 degrees - perfect for Gail! It was quite an amazing experience. Just make sure you go during the incoming current or you would very quickly get washed out to sea!

We are taking lots of pictures, but still searching for internet. We thought yesterday that we finally found some restaurants with WiFi, but then was told internet is down for all of French Polynesia for the next three days. Apparently, the internet cable from Hawaii is being repaired this weekend. Oh well, maybe in Tahiti. The things we take for granted in the US! Who needs internet anyway when one is in paradise?

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Taking Life One Pass at a Time

It is amazing how different the Tuomotus are from the Marquesas. All of these islands are atolls with a large lagoon surrounded by a coral reef. The lagoons are fairly large and free of any swell as this is dissipated by the fringing coral reef. There can be some wind waves and even some moderate chop, however, as the fetch inside the lagoon can be up to 30 miles. Most of these atolls have one or two passes from the ocean into the lagoon and it's all about timing the entrance or exit with the tidal current. Even though the tide is pretty small, less than a foot typically, there is a large volume of water passing through a small cut which can produce a significant current, up to 6 or 8 knots. If this current is then opposing the 20 knot trades then some boisterous conditions can result. We saw some fairly large standing waves in one of the passes as we were entering on a rising tide and it was quite a ride. Add to that some of these passes are fairly narrow and it makes for some exciting times!

We spent several days relaxing in Fakarava (transiting the Garue Pass) after our crossing from the Marquesas, including an expensive visit to a black pearl farm which was well worth it! We then went to the atoll of Toau and spent one night inside the lagoon (Otugi Pass) at a gorgeous, picture post card South Pacific anchorage and two nights on a mooring in Anse Amyot, actually outside the lagoon in a "false pass". The next day we came to Apataki and the Pakaka Pass with it's amazing turquoise water and crossed the lagoon to Motu Rua Vahine. We have been here two nights and are now planning to head up the inside of the lagoon to the North Pass and then on to Rangiroa. After Rangiroa it's on to Tahiti and the Society Islands (Moorea, Raiatea, Bora Bora) ...

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Sunday, May 18, 2014


After 500+ miles and a little over a 4 day passage, we made it to Fakarava - our first coral atoll in the Tuamotus. The landscape is dramatically different than it was in the Marquesas. We left lush, green mountainous islands to arrive at very flat coral atolls with shallow, wide lagoons. Entrance into the passes can be very stressful, as the tide currents can be 6 to 9 knots and the trade winds seem to consistently blow at 15 to 20 knots. This can make for some very choppy seas around the passes. All of this with some dangerous reefs lying around as well would make anyone a little hesitant and nervous! But since we had done similar passages in Caicos, I figured Dave could handle this one as well and for our first atoll we chose Fakarava mainly because it has the largest pass in this archipelago. We came in a little after slack tide riding the incoming current and even though it was choppy at the pass, we made it in fine. The pass itself was over a mile wide which we were not expecting. Our anchorage itself is over 70 feet, which is deeper than our comfort zone, especially with blustery winds at night, but all in all has been very nice.

The passage itself was very good as we did 543 miles with a daily average of 130 miles at 5.4 knots (thank you Dave for the numbers)! Trade winds were consistent at 15 to 20 knots from east to southeast right on the beam. Really a great sail, similar to the ones we saw in the windward passage in the Caribbean!

Yesterday for the first time in awhile, Dave and I went snorkeling on the reefs with our neighbors from Moshulu, Jerry and Gail. Along with the colorful reef fish, we spotted a big, black, moray eel poking out of his hole and Dave saw a leopard ray and barracuda. The highlight though were the black lipped oysters that were embedded into the coral itself! Speaking of which, now off to find our own black pearls!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


The definition of Cruising is being able to make boat repairs in exotic ports around the world. I would add that sometimes repairs are made on the high seas. This morning the SSB would not turn on. After multiple tries I removed the fuse (which was OK) and screwed it back in and then everything worked. It is frustrating when things don't work and even more so when you fix them but are not sure how....

The InReach also stopped sending position updates but that was apparently because we let the battery run down and the transmission stopped. When we recharged, we needed to restart the transmission.

We spent two wonderful days in Fatu Hiva hiking and visiting the waterfall. On the way back North we stopped in a nice anchorage on the west side of Tahuata for a few days and worked on the alternator (one of two alternators still not working properly) and fixed the head. We had a nice overnight passage up to Nuku Hiva and spent two nights in Taiohae Bay where we caught up on provisioning (tres expensive), laundry, filled propane tanks and, surprise, did more boat repairs. We hopped west from Taiohae just a few miles to Daniel's Bay, a very beautiful spot with the third highest waterfall in the world but the water was barely a trickle. On the hike back from the waterfall we stopped and had lunch at the house of a very friendly local couple where I practised mon Francais (tres mal). They served us poisson cru (raw fish in coconut milk - awesome), pamplemousse (grapefruit) and fried bananas, along with some other local dishes.

Yesterday (Monday) we raised anchor to head for the Tuomotus. We are currently about 1/3 of the way to Fakarava, our first likely stop among these many atolls.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fatu Hiva

We are actually living the dream and sailing the French Polynesia! Anchored at Fatu Hiva yesterday and it was amazingly beautiful. We felt as though we were hiking in a postcard and then went swimming in a pool under the waterfall with a couple of new friends, Jerry and Gail. It was so much fun! The guys though beat us to the pool and neglected to tell us gals that there was a huge eel swimming around when they first got in. I probably would have had second thoughts before jumping in if I had known. The water though was so refreshing after the hike as it is very hot and HUMID here.

Currently writing this from Tahuata with plans for tomorrow to move on to Nuku Hiva where we will be able to take on more fuel and provisions before making the really big jump to the Tuamotus which should have coral heads and crystal blue shallow waters. Since internet is almost nonexistent here, I cannot post pictures at this point, but hopefully will be able to do so in a few days in Nuku Hiva. So for the moment you will have to just believe that the landscape is amazingly beautiful and the people very friendly. Dave and I are having a great time!

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Friday, May 2, 2014


After a long flight, I am now truly back in Paradise; aka Hiva Oa in the Marquesas! It is nice to see some of the cruisers that we last saw in Puerto Vallarta. Not so much as hot here, but very humid! Today we checked out the town and provisioned as Dave was able to eat all the frozen meat while underway. Dave is a little thinner than when I last left him, but I will get him fattened up in no time.

Tomorrow after updating the crew list to add me at customs and taking on some more fuel, we will depart Hiva Oa to go next door to the island Tahuata which is only a few miles away. It's all good...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Last Day in Sunny California!

Thought I would give Dave a break and also make a post while I have easy internet. Today is my last day here in the states for awhile and I am currently in sunny southern CA. Santa Ana winds came through last night and while the yards are a mess, today is going to be a gorgeous one here in the 90s. I am flying out of LAX tonight to meet Dave in Hiva Oa tomorrow at noon. From one paradise to another - life is tough!

Thanks to my amazing husband who got the boat there safely after I chickened out. It is so wonderful to see him realize his 40 year old dream and to arrive safely without mishap. He has done the hard part and now we get to explore these islands over the next 90 days (why can't the French give us at least 120 days?). Also many thanks to the Borer family as they have been so gracious for opening their home to me. Love you guys!! So now I am off to do laundry while I have my final opportunity and next time I will be posting from the French Polynesia! Aloha!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Anchored in Hiva Oa

We made it! A beautiful anchorage here in Baie Tahauku near the town of Atuona. It is a bit small but pretty well protected. Currently, there are 15 boats here with room for a few more. I got lucky as several boats had just left before I arrived and I have a nice anchoring spot in about 15 feet of water. Trevor from Nakiska came over and helped me set my stern anchor as the boats are anchored close together.

It was interesting coming in as you can't see the anchorage until you're almost here and it is in a side bay off the large Baie Taaoa, or Traiter's Bay. There are lots of mountains around and thick forests of all kinds of green trees. One jagged peak is constantly covered in clouds. It is quite a change after being in Mexico for 6 months. There is a small store and fuel station here but the town is a good 45 minute walk away. When I went ashore I could barely walk as I was so used to the boat motion and the not used to terra firma!

OK, let's do the numbers:

28 days, 8 hours - total passage time.

2773 miles - distance sailed (straight line is 2700 miles).

4 knots - average speed, 98 miles/day

55 hours - total engine hours on passage (mostly in ITCZ).

40 gallons - diesel fuel used (less than half carried).

0 - major breakdowns, unless you count the water heater leak and blown water pressure hose (repaired underway).

Being in the South Pacific - Priceless!

OK, now it's on to my new list of boat chores and repairs!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Moon & Stars - Night 28

The last sliver of the moon has just risen, about 3 hours before sunrise. The sky is clear and the stars of the southern hemisphere are out in all their glory. The only constellation I know down here is the Southern Cross but I did see the Big Dipper for a while near the Northern horizon last night. This voyage has covered one complete cycle of the moon and is now coming to a close.

When the sun comes up I will begin my 29th and final day at sea! I am about 25 miles out from Hiva Oa and should see land at first light. Today I will drop my anchor in the South Pacific for the first time, the culmination of a dream I've had for 40 years. I guess I'll need to come up with a new dream for the next 40 years - how about going to the moon? Or to the stars? First, I look forward to exploring the many different islands of the South Pacific starting with the Marquesas. We may visit Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva in addition to Hiva Oa before then setting of again on the 450 mile passage to the Tuomotus. Some of these coral atolls that we may visit include Manihi, Ahe and Rangiroa. After that, it's off to the Society Islands - Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora ... We will have a 90 day visa for French Polynesia which includes all of the above island groups. But first I need to finish this passage ...

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Company - Day 26

As I was listening in on the Puddle Jump Net last night on the SSB radio I heard some traffic on the VHF radio. I called back and it turned out to be another sailboat heading for Hiva Oa. It was a 57 foot catamaran and they went flying past me even though I was doing about 5 knots. They were an Australian couple and daughter passaging from the Galapagos and heading home to Oz. They came right up next to me and it was so strange to see another boat and other human beings after not seeing anything but water for over 2 weeks! We took pictures of each other in the sunset and I look forward to meeting them in HO.

We are still making good time, about 5 knots, and have been averaging about 120 miles a day for the last 3 days. We are about 320 miles out of Hiva Oa and may need to slow down a bit to time arrival for daylight on Friday. Of course, the weather gods may have different plans for us ... I am looking forward to the boat sitting still and being able to move about and function without constantly hanging on. Nakiska, the other singlehander that left about the same time I did is ahead of me and should be getting into Hiva Oa today. He promised to save me a spot in the anchorage! I have only run the motor for a total of about 40 hours so far and 30 of that was to get through the ITCZ.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

SE Trades - Day 22

Can't believe it's been 3 weeks, time just flies by out here (not really). Finally have gotten into the SE trades this morning, 15 knots of wind and we're finally moving better than 3 knots! Actually doing 4.5 knots on a direct course to Hiva Oa (225 degrees), at this rate I might make it in before next weekend, 785 miles to go. Reminds me of a song: "On this wind on this heading lie the Marquesas. Got 30 feet of waterline, nicely making way ...". Ok, I modified the lyrics slightly ...

That's it for today, need to shoot this off before the sun comes up and ruins the SSB radio transmission.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Equator - Day 20

Starshine is in the Southern Hemisphere and I am a shellback! We crossed over at 14:15 Zulu (8:15 AM local?). King Neptune and I shared a toast with some good 18-year old scotch! Man, that will really open your eyes early in the morning.

I finally had to turn on the motor this morning as the wind has been very light and I needed to run the watermaker (it needs to run every 4 or 5 days to keep the membrane clear). My last four 24 hour runs were only: 76, 86, 85 and 75 miles. Before that we were averaging a little over 100 miles per day. Ever since I got through the ITCZ (about 3 days ago) the wind has been light from the East. Hopefully it will pick up in the Southern trades here shortly.

I am about 950 miles from Hiva Oa. Hopefully, we can get there in 8 to 10 days but if the wind stays light it will be a little longer. At least I should get there before Gail on the 30th.


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Sunday, April 13, 2014

ITCZ - Day 17

Have been motoring now for the past 30 hours, no wind to speak of - this is definitely the ITCZ! The ITCZ is actually north of the equator this time of year and marks the boundary between the NE trades in the northern Pacific and the SE trades in the southern hemisphere. The ITCZ is characterized by light winds (the doldrums) and lots of squalls. I spent several hours last evening dodging some very impressive squall lines. They looked like black walls of cloud on the horizon. They move generally East to West and show up very clearly on the radar so it's fairly easy to avoid them (if you don't mind going out of your way a little). I saw some lightning in the distance and had some rain but I think I missed the worst of them (so far).

I am currently at: 03 d 41' N, 124 d 48' W, about 220 miles from the equator. (But you knew that because 1 minute of arc is 1 nautical mile at the equator). I may have passed through the worst of the ITCZ as it was predicted to be around 4 degrees North Latitude. Soon the SE trades should begin to fill in, in fact, I now have a very light wind from the SE. The seas are still pretty lumpy even though there is no wind; there are leftover swells from the NE trades and now some swells coming in from the SE trades; this is truly an eerie "No Man's Land" here in the ITCZ. I have used maybe 1/3 of my fuel reserves to get through the doldrums but hopefully will be able to sail again in the next few days.

If all holds, I should become a shellback on Tuesday and I have a party with Neptune planned for the big equator crossing! Still about 1200 miles to Hiva Oa. All is well!

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Starshine - Day 14

I got up early this morning after a good night's rest. My body has gotten in the habit of waking up every one and a half hours or so during the night. I get up, check our course, check the sails and scan the horizon (though I haven't seen any boats for days now). I arose for good this morning at 5:30; at least that's what my clock said. I haven't changed the clock since I left and with Mexican Daylight Savings time and probably passing through multiple time zones since I left, I'm not sure what the actual "local" time is. I do know it was 11:30 AM UTC and the beautiful waxing gibbous moon from last night had set and there were stars in the sky.

I haven't seen many stars lately as it's been pretty overcast. Yesterday there was lots of rain, some squalls and some calms. I motored for a couple of hours through one of the calms and then got a nice easterly breeze just before sunset. I decided to turn South and take advantage of the wind on the beam and have been making good progress towards the equator since.

As I drank my early morning coffee, I sat in the companionway for a while enjoying the phosphorescence in the water. The boat wake produces myriad points of light that look like stars in the water due to the disturbance of the phosphorescent algae. It is mesmerizing to watch. The other night I was watching this luminous trail when several dolphins swam up along the boat. The phosphorescent trails of the dolphins looked like illuminated torpedoes tracing through the water and was an amazing sight I'll never forget.

A planet rose in the East this morning; I'm not sure which one but it was very bright. The light from the planet reflected off the water in a shimmering trail much like you see when the sun is low in the sky. I guess this is Starshine! I started singing the "Hair" song Good Morning Starshine, it just seemed appropriate... (luckily, there was no one within earshot!)

The latest check of my position shows me roughly 1350 miles out from PV and about 1450 miles from Hiva Oa. By sunset tonight I should be about at the half way point. My current position is: 08 deg N, 123 deg W and I'm traveling on a course of about 200 degrees True with a speed of 5 knots on a beam reach. Wind is from the East at 18 knots and I have a double-reefed main (one of which I will likely shake out this morning) and a partially reefed genoa. All is well aboard Starshine.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

1000 miles - Day 11

Today we passed the 1000 mile mark. Still doing better than 100 miles per day and now only about 450 miles from our intermediate waypoint of 5N 125W. Current position is 10 deg 40' N, 119 deg 36' W (smack dab in the middle of nowhere). This ocean just goes on and on forever and ever and I'm not even half way to the Marquesas! The total distance to Marquesas from PV is 2800 miles, then there is another 4000 miles or so still to go to Australia.

All is well on board. Cooked a nice meal of carne asada fajitas today. Cooking is quite the challenge, this morning I spilled ground coffee all over the galley and it took me hours to get it all cleaned up (but I did finally get my two cups of Joe!) The boat is still rolling through +/- 25 degrees or more with a period of about 5 seconds. The wind is still in the 18 - 20 knot range so I haven't taken the second reef out of the main yet. We are still wing and wing and I have not adjusted HAL or the sails in two days! It's getting harder and harder to make good connections with SailMail; it seems to work best early morning or late at night.

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rockin' and Rollin' - Day 9

We are definitely in the NE trades now. The wind is consistently over 20 knots and up to 25. I have taken down the mizzen and am sailing wing and wing with a single reef in the main and the genoa partly furled. Boat speed is over 5.5 knots and sometimes up to almost 7 surfing down the huge rollers. The boat rocks gunwale to gunwale with the passing swell with occasional water over the rail. It is a wild ride! Not doing much cooking now, in fact, just moving about takes two hands and lots of balance.

HAL is holding the course amazingly well and has only lost control a couple of times due to some large waves. In both cases, the boat rounded up a bit and backwinded the poled out jib but did not jibe the main. This was in the middle of the night and I noticed it because the boat stopped rolling as much and heeled over more on the starboard side. The boat forward motion slowed way down, the rolling was decreased significantly and was almost like heaving to. I may take a second reef in the main tonight to try to reduce the weather helm and the chance of rounding up.

I ran the engine for an hour and a half to top off the batteries and fill up the water so I should be good for several days of pure sailing excitement! This really is what it is all about! Reminds me of a song - "I was making for the trades on the outside. On a downhill run to Papaeete." (but I don't have 80 feet of waterline and Mike, it's "Starshine", not "Music", get it right!).

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Art of Sailing Downwind - Day 7

Well, I must be nearing the trade winds as the wind has clocked around to the NNE and gotten a bit steadier. I was having trouble keeping the sails full and maintaining a course of 240 degrees so I decided to try sailing dead down wind, DDW, at a course of about 210 degrees. This will put me just about on my intermediate waypoint of 05 N, 125 W (about 900 miles away). This is the point often recommended for crossing the ITCZ and the equator. Once I get to the ITCZ, wherever it is, I will head due south and try to get through it as fast as possible.

One of the shackles on the main sheet came free today and so I scrambled to get the pin back in and get the sheet back in place. Apparently the wire holding the shackle had broken and the pin backed out. Luckily, I didn't lose the pin - I found it on the deck. After getting it all back together I used a new piece of wire to mouse it.

I decided to try going wing and wing DDW and the motion of the boat is much better as the swell is more on the stern quarter. Actually, I am now running wing and wing and wing. The mizzen is out to port, the main out to starboard (both with preventers) and the genoa is poled out to port. HAL seems to be holding the course pretty well but I worry about an accidental jibe in the middle of the night. The other issue I have been dealing with is chafe. The lazy jib sheet was rubbing against the staysail stay and was nearly worn through. Luckily, I have many spare sheets and I put another one on and made sure it wasn't chafing.

I also serviced one of the winches today as it got dirty from all our recent teak sanding and wasn't grinding well. After taking it apart and cleaning it with diesel fuel it now works great again.

Made 110 miles yesterday and on about the same pace today so progress has improved somewhat. This should continue to improve as the trades fill in. I've gone over 600 miles and counting! This makes this officially my longest passage, the previous longest was from the Bahamas to North Carolina with Chris on Faro almost exactly one year ago.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Time - Day 6

Einstein once said every young man should spend some time as a lighthouse keeper in order to have lots of solitary opportunity to think and ponder the universe. Clearly, he spent a lot of time thinking, including postulating "Gedanken" - thought experiments. That's probably how he figured out most of his great theories by thinking about "what if ...". I've had lots of time to think too but I guess I'm no Einstein, I haven't discovered the Unified Field Theory yet - but I am thinking about time.

Out here, man-made concepts of time don't mean much; seconds, minutes and hours are meaningless. Time is measured in the progression of the sun through the heavens, the phases of the moon and the endless movement of the boat, the wind and the water. Time seems to just stop and short periods of time are indeterminate. Einstein proposed time is relative and he was right about that too (even if I am traveling a lot less than the speed of light!).

I apologize if I'm getting too philosophical but I once went to a presentation by Harrison Schmidt, the only geologist to walk on the moon. He talked for an hour about the potential to mine Helium 3 on the moon and make a profitable business. I don't remember any of the detailed technical aspects of his talk but I do remember at the end he asked for questions and one guy stood up (after lots of facts and figures) and asked a question from left field: "So what was it like to actually be on the moon?" Schmidt became much more philosophical and told how the thing that impressed him the most was how every time he climbed out of the LEM and every time he looked up in the black sky the Earth was just sitting there in exactly the same spot, never moving. That's what most of us came to the presentation to hear about and probably the only thing any of us remember (although his proposal was interesting).

Ok, now for the boring facts and figures:

I have traveled 490 miles in 125 hours for an average speed of 3.9 knots.

At this rate I will arrive in Hiva Oa on day 30 (but I really hope to pick up the pace once I get into the trade winds).

Sorry, I couldn't resist. After all I am passing over Mathematicians Sea Mount (really, look it up on the internet if you don't believe me).

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Solitude - Day 5

Up until a day or two ago, there was lots of chatter on the VHF. I keep the VHF on channel 16 with the AIS alarm set to 5 miles. Even 200 miles out you could hear nearly constant communication between ships (especially the Mexican fishing boats who sometimes even play music over the radio - mucho obnoxious). I was surprised as I always thought VHF was line of sight - but one night I tried called Trevor on Nakiska and he answered; we compared positions and he was 60 miles away. The horizon is only about 15 miles so apparently the VHF signal can transmit much farther than line of sight, especially under the right conditions. I had to check today to make sure the radio was still on since I haven't heard any chatter for quite a while. The AIS alarm has not gone off for days. I must be really getting out there, it is very quiet.

Last night I saw the New Hegri Moon right after sunset. This is the first sliver of a new moon and marks the beginning of a new month to the Muslims. I once worked a proposal for the Saudis to build a satellite to take pictures of the New Hegri Moon but it never got off the ground. I'm not sure what it signifies but it is apparently very important to see this in the Muslim faith. (Wish I had internet to learn more).

There is still some wildlife out here, even if there are no people. A pod (or family) of 3 dolphins stopped by this morning and rode in the bow wake for almost an hour. I even layed down on the bowsprit and felt like I was swimming with them as they glided just a foot or two below me. We looked at each other wondering what the other was doing way out here!

Many sea birds still fly around as well. I'm not sure what they are, they are smaller than Frigate birds but bigger than seagulls (where's that internet?.) They are various shades of white, gray and brown and they often just circle the boat many times. One finally took a break and landed on top of the mizzen mast for a while but at least did not leave me any guano in the cockpit this time!

Had no wind for a while around 4 this morning so ran the engine for about an hour to top off the water and batteries and make a few miles (and stop the sails from slatting). Have a nice 10 knot breeze now. Passing well south of Socorro island and over 350 miles out. Another 3 weeks (?) or so to go. Looking forward to the trade winds in a few days.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Routines - Day 4

I have now settled in to a routine after 3 days at sea.

Coffee and sunrise start the day. At first light, I check my position, check the sails and then call in to the "Picante" net on SSB. I shake out the reefs put in the night before and do a quick "once around" on deck to check all lines, fittings and sails. (I also throw overboard any dead squid or flying fish that have landed on deck during the night - I didn't realize squid could fly!) As I shake out the reefs, adjustments are made to all sheets and halyards to prevent chafe. Then it's on to breakfast. Since the seas have been fairly calm, I have taken the opportunity to do a lot of cooking. I have way too much food and hope I can eat all the fresh stuff before it starts rotting. Made a great Shepard's Pie yesterday and now have leftovers for another meal.

During the day, it is all about relaxing, reading, playing the guitar and repositioning the solar panels. Every half hour or so, I check our progress and adjust course and the sails, as necessary. It's not usually necessary as the wind has been light but consistent from the NW between 6 and 12 knots. I am averaging a little less than 4 knots and have been becalmed at times. I ran the engine for an hour yesterday to top off the water tanks and the batteries and all worked well. HAL is keeping us on a course of about 240 degrees and while I'm not breaking any speed records I am moving comfortably in the right direction. We're about 260 miles out and will be passing south of the Socorro islands sometime today or tonight.

In the evening, I call into the Pacific Puddle Jump Net and put a reef in each of the sails for the night. I have been sleeping up to an hour or more at a time as it seems I am pretty much out of the shipping lanes and am seeing fewer and fewer boats. The farther out I get, the longer I will sleep at a stretch. Saw one fishing boat heading in to port last night around 2 AM but he passed several miles to the South of me (no AIS). I have the AIS alarm set to alert me whenever there is a ship within 5 miles (all large ships are required to transmit AIS) but nothing heard for over a day now.

Hoping to get some more wind soon (careful what you ask for!). Can't wait to get into the NE trades in a few days and start making some real progress.

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Deep B lue - Day 2

Starshine has reached the deep azure blue waters only found many miles offshore. Staring into the depths is like gazing into eternity. On the last voyage I sank an aluminum can into the calmest blue waters I have ever seen. The sunlight glinted off the shiny metal for what seemed like an eternity as it slowly descended into the abyss.

The last crescent of moon rose this morning just before the beautiful sunrise. Tonight will be a new moon and the stars should once again be awesome. The windvane "HAL" kept us on course all night long. I'm not sure why long distance sailors seem to name their windvanes but I chose to name our hydrovane HAL after the computer in 2001, A Space Odyssey. He works tirelessly and I have never heard him once say "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that".

Made about 100 miles in first 24 hours. The winds died down this morning for a while but have picked back up this afternoon. At least we're moving in the right direction and the motion is pretty comfortable.

Wasn't Deep Blue the computer program that played chess with Bobby Fisher? I wish I had a chess app on my iPad so I could spend some of my copious free time improving my game. Well, I've got lots of books, puzzles. pod casts, a guitar and three seasons of the Sopranos to keep me busy.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Take 2, Day 1

Starshine is off towards the South Pacific again, this time I'm going solo, apparently Gail has much more sense than I do.

Got the engine fixed, checked out of Mexico (got my Zarpe) and was preparing to leave the marina when I noticed that the chart plotter screen was blank. Hey, it's a boat, stuff breaks! I anchored in La Cruz and took the offending unit in to see Pieter the electronics guru. He took the unit apart, put it back together and tested it. It worked fine. So I took it back to the boat and viola, it worked! Apparently, there was a bad connection internal to the unit (maybe between the two boards) and taking it apart and reconnecting it solved the problem. We'll see for how long. Actually, I don't use the chart plotter much in the open ocean (there's not much to see). I also downloaded the iNavx app for my iPad and that is awesome - I have all the charts for the South Pacific and the iPad GPS tracks my position. So now I think I have 5 separate GPS rececivers! Technology is amazing!

I am currently leaving Bandaras Bay (20 deg 35' N, 106 deg 43' W). There is an awesome 10 - 15 knot breeze from the NW and we are doing about 5 knots heading 240 T. At least 3 other boats also left today, including Trevor on Nakiska, another singlehander. He is on his way back to Australia where he started many years ago (16, I think). He has done all his ocean passages by himself. His next crew is flying out to Hiva Oa to sail French Polynesia with him for a few months and I am hoping Gail does the same.

If I had a dollar for everyone who said they were going to live vicariously through me ... So, I don't know who is out there listening but I will try to keep a regular blog - I don't want to disappoint any followers (if anyone's actually out there in the matrix). Unfortunately, I can't see any comments until I get to my next internet hot spot but I will read them all then! For those that have my sailmail address, please write me.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014


We were finally on our long anticipated journey to the South Pacific that began last Saturday at 10:15 AM when we raised anchor. Winds and sailing were perfect and we made almost 300 miles in two days! On Monday morning, we decided we should run the water maker and we started the engine. The engine ran for about five minutes and then... failed! Somehow air had gotten into the fuel lines so Dave tried to bleed the engine and as he was bleeding the engine, the screw broke off with no way on board to fix it without a proper tool for the flare fitting. As disappointing as it was, we decided we had to turn back. Of course it took only two days to go those 300 miles and it is now a slow slog back. We are on our fourth day of the return and still have over a hundred miles to go as the winds are much calmer. In fact the night before last, we were totally becalmed and making 0 progress. This happened at dusk so we decided to completely take down the sails and bare pole it and pretend we were at anchor. The ocean was so calm and flat and beautiful and we both were able to get a good night's sleep as we used the V-Berth for the first time this week. As I told Dave, he did not need to worry about dragging anchor and hitting land! And as far as hitting ships, the AIS technology is a god send. We set the alarm for three miles so that if a ship came within three miles of us, the alarm would wake us and it did not go off at all which was not a surprise. After getting about 100 miles away from land, the boats have been nonexistent. Anyway, it was surreal to have this huge, beautiful "anchorage" to ourselves.

Many thanks to our friends and family that have been following us, thinking of us, and praying for us. Currently we are safe and secure and keep reminding ourselves that people have sailed without engines for centuries! We are getting low on water (about 20 gallons), but with our strict conservation efforts (no showers for a week!) we will be fine. And not to mention the other liquid refreshments we have on board. As I write this, we are traveling about 4 knts and with any luck hope to make it back to Paradise Village by tomorrow, but more likely will arrive on Saturday. Then we will get to check in with the Mexican officials all over again (oh, joy) and get to pay them overtime fees if we do this on Saturday. We will then restock, regroup, and rethink our next plan of attack.

As a side note, a very Happy Birthday to my husband and best friend! He knew he would be spending this day on the open seas, but I am sure he thought that he would be closer to the equator than Puerto Vallarta at this point. Remember honey, that it is all about the journey... But may all your wishes and dreams on this day finally come true!

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Almost There...

I'm writing this from Phoenix as I flew back last week to finish up taxes and car maintenance/insurance/registration (ugh!).  It was quite a culture shock and I almost cried tears of joy in Trader Joes as I stared mesmerized at the rows of cheese (cheese in Mexico has a lot to be desired).  And driving my car with air conditioning after all the hot and sticky and crowded bus rides makes me fully appreciate my car.


Tomorrow I am back in Mexico and we plan on leaving for the really big sail later this week after checking out of Mexico.  Puddle Jumpers are now leaving daily.  It is hard to believe that Dave and I have now been in Mexico over four months as the time has flown! We are both though ready to move on and discover the South Pacific and all the new adventures and experiences awaiting us.  Stay tuned…

Monday, February 24, 2014

Almost Ready?

Well, Dave and I have been working like crazy to get our final preparations completed before the big jump to the South Pacific. Barring any more boat breakdowns, we feel as though we are almost ready as our short list is getting very short at this point. Gail will be going to Arizona next week to visit the kids and finish last minute things like taxes (ugh!) and car maintenance (double ugh!). Upon her return to Puerto Vallarta, final things will be last minute provisioning and last chance laundry before we check out of the country. We are hoping for a departure date of March 15th, give or take a few days and weather considerations. We are then hoping for a three week passage, although closer to four weeks may be more realistic. And then our next stage of this journey begins in French Polynesia - first stop Marquesas!

Even though we have been very busy with the boat, we have found time to visit the Bay area. We stopped at several local places on the way down including Chacala and Matanchen. We have spent most of our time in La Cruz, which seems to be the local cruiser hang out in a small town with local restaurants, farmers markets, etc. For the first time in six months, Gail was more than forty feet from Dave when she and a friend, Sue, escaped to, or rather enjoyed the nearby town of Bucerias for a ladies event of local shopping and dining. Very fun!

We are currently in Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta, which does not really seem like Mexico, but American tourism at its best. They really know how to entertain us "gringos" here with lots and lots of food and drink, water activities, and entertainment such as dancing. But probably the best thing of all has been the whales. We are still astounded by the number of humpback whales that exist in this bay and in such relatively shallow water. It is commonplace to see them mating, breaching, and best of all listening to their songs through the water in the late evening!

Check out the other pictures on this site for our Banderas Bay experiences...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

We Have Arrived - Banderas Bay

We have arrived! Banderas Bay which includes the towns of Punta De Mita, La Cruz, Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta is our final resting place for the next five weeks until the really big 3,000 mile crossing to the South Pacific in March. Next stop Marquesas Islands!

See below picture for Dave's latest fish story for the day on our way here. Looked like it was going to be a big one.... So glad it wasn't a Mahi Mahi but one of the local prevalent "Bonito" fish or Skipjack with the red flesh. Apparently the larger local fish like this Bonito. As we were trying to deal with the fish, slow the boat down by sail in 20 knot winds as we were rounding the point to come in to Punta De Mita, almost hit another whale which again dived at the last minute! Never a dull moment...

Banderas Bay is teeming with sea life and the whales are all around. Yesterday, we were out in the bay doing some whale watching with other boats and even one person was in a dinghy. We saw quite a few whales and then finally saw a breaching whale! Last night, we kept hearing a sound under the boat and then discovered it was the whales again - way cool!

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. I won't discuss who we are rooting for, but we will be at the Marina Clubhouse along with some of our new friends for the all you can eat wings and ribs (along with all you can drink) for 200 pesos. What a deal! Wishing all our family and friends a happy and safe Super Bowl from here in La Cruz, Mexico.