Sailing Tranquility

Idle Queen. Sailing on the Neuse River near Oriental.
Sailing on the Neuse River near Oriental.

Everything that was changed during the refit seems to be working as it should. There hasn’t been much wind to get out for a spirited sail yet, but I also enjoy floating peacefully on calm waters and working Idle Queen into places under sail. It’s like a meditation for me. I have time to watch the jellyfish, the birds, and the reflections in the water. Dolphins surfacing or pelicans diving are loud enough to be startling. Such quiet moments are precious. There will be plenty of wind on other days.

Dreadnought 32 Idle Queen. Calm sailing
Not much wind, but moving faster than the jellyfish.
Dreadnought 32 Idle Queen New Town dock, Oriental, NC
New town dock, Oriental, NC
Dreadnought 32 Idle Queen Town dock Oriental, NC
At town dock in Oriental
Dreadnought 32 Idle Queen Whittaker Creek
Sailing in Whittaker Creek
Dreadnought 32 Idle Queen ICW day marker
ICW day marker
Idle Queen sailing
First sail after the refit. Not much wind…

New Zealand Arrival

Beneteau 445 sailing to Bay of Islands
Our first view of the Bay of Islands

It is 0740 shipboard time. The sun is already quite high over the eastern horizon, bathing the Bay of Islands in yellow light. The wind is still from dead ahead, but only at about 5 knots. We are about 1.5 miles north of Whale Rock at the entrance to Bay of Islands, so we have a good view now of one of New Zealand’s most famous cruising grounds.

We spent the last day with the diesel engine noisily but steadily grinding us to windward, as this was the fastest way to make the final miles. The family was too anxious to arrive for us to have spent another day tacking in to arrive under sail. The only downside of arriving today is that it is Sunday, but maybe that won’t matter here. We will soon see.

We still have about 10 miles to go upriver to reach our port of entry, Opua. If we have a good internet connection at the dock I will soon post some better quality pictures. In any case I will at least send another quick update once we have checked in.

Scenes From Around Rarotonga

Rarotonga Palms
Beachside palms are a common sight here
Rarotonga Beach
A little slice of paradise
Rarotonga Beach, Fossilized coral
Fossilized coral on Black Rock Beach
Beachside schack, Rarotonga
Beachside shack, Nikao, on the west side of Rarotonga
Sculpture outside the National Auditorium. Avarua, Rarotonga
Sculpture outside the National Auditorium. Avarua, Rarotonga
Rarotonga Fern
Unfurling Fern
Mountain Path, Rarotonga
A scene from the Cross Island Trail
Rarotonga Mountain view
The view from the base of “The Needle”
Rarotonga Mountain view
Another view from “The Needle”
Rarotonga goats
Goats on the Cross Island trail
Whale Art, Rarotonga
Artwork on the wall of the Whale Center
Rooster Portrait, Whale Center, Rarotonga
Rooster Portrait, Whale Center, Rarotonga
Church light, Rarotonga
Sunlight on the wall inside a church in Avarua
Rarotonga Church
Thick limestone walls have kept this church standing through numerous hurricanes
Muri Lagoon
Muri Lagoon, looking out towards the reef
Catamaran, Muri Lagoon, Rarotonga
Hokulea catamaran on Muri Lagoon
Muri Lagoon, Rarotonga
Traditional style catamaran, Hokulea on Muri Lagoon
Muri Lagoon
Another scene from Muri Lagoon
Rarotonga Sunset
Sunset over Black Rock Beach

On Passage to the Marquesas, Day 5

On passage to the Marquesas
Blue sea and sky, day after day…

Sea, sky, and another 130 miles under the keel. There is not much new to report each day, so I have not been sending daily updates. This passage so far has lived up to the reputation that the “milk run” Pacific passages are famous for–warm weather, gentle breezes, and consistent daily runs over a deep blue sea. The first almost 700 miles since leaving Galapagos have slipped into the wake in a wonderfully relaxed fashion. Of course, I am not going to use those first days to confidently extrapolate that the rest of the trip will be the same, and indeed Simba just now informed me that he suspects that there may be a problem with the engine mounts because the engine was “jumping around” more than usual when he started it to charge the batteries last night. Hopefully that is not the problem, since we don’t carry spare engine mounts nor any way to repair the ones on which the engine is currently sitting. Checking the engine just moved to the top of my list of things to do this morning. We haven’t had a bite on our fishing lines yet on this passage, but at least there are signs that we are surrounded by life even if it is not interested in he lures we are dragging behind us. We have seen one large pod of dolphins, have had a shark trailing us, have scattered great schools of flying fish, and have enjoyed the constant company of petrels tip-toeing on the waves around us. I am sure it is just a matter of time before some fish gets curious enough to take a bite at our spoon or pink squid. There is a little more space in the food lockers with each passing day, but we are keeping up with most of our water usage by running the small watermaker for a couple of hours every day when the sun is high. We catch the drips and eventually fill our drinking water containers. We can make water at the rate of about a gallon and a half per hour for the modest cost of 6 amp-hours of electrical power and the small mental drain of having to listen to the machine churn way beneath the settee. So, so far we are in good shape in that department. Time to go take a look at the engine…

Getting Underway Again

A sunset over Puerto Ayora as seen from the masthead of Starlight.
A sunset over Puerto Ayora as seen from the masthead of Starlight.

The engine is running and we are just pulling and stowing the anchors for sea. This is to be the longest leg of our voyage, at somewhat over 3,000 miles, but the winds are forecast to be fair and we should have a favorable current for most of the way as well. Our next planned stop is Nuku Hiva, and it should take us about 3 weeks to get there, more or less. When we reach our next port, it will be well into September!

Leaving here took longer than expected, as we had to wait several days for our new clearance paper. All is sorted out now, we have our new clearance paper in hand, and we are headed to sea.

Getting Underway for French Polynesia

Almost everything is in place for our departure from the Galapagos. We need to hoist the anchor and finish stowing the stern anchor, but all else is ready. It took a few days to receive our new clearance paper, but that has all been worked out now and we are free to go. This will be the longest passage of the voyage, at somewhat over 3,000 miles. I expect that we will be at sea for two to three weeks, but it could take a little longer. in any case, it will be well into September before we reach our next port.

Arrival in Galapagos Archipelago

After nine days at sea we are now less than fifty miles from Puerto Ayuda on the island of Santa Cruz. The sea is calm, and we are making good just under five knots, though much of that speed is coming from the current. Yesterday we had an unceremonious equator crossing at about 1130. The past few days have been good sailing on the SE trades, and with the fair current we enjoyed good day’s runs. As we approached these islands, we have seen increasing numbers of birds and signs of marine life. Two days ago we sailed through a large area where hundreds of dolphins were feeding, driving fish to the surface, where they also attracted clouds of birds. I am sure that we would have had good luck as well if we had put a line in the water, but nobody was in the mood for fishing and instead just enjoyed watching the spectacle and taking pictures. Despite our fumigation certificate from Panama, we have spent much time in the past couple of days getting rid of bug-infested food. Things seem better now, but there will be problems again unless everyone is more willing to get rid of things that have gone bad and be more fastidious in good food storage practices. Not all the important lessons on this trip are directly related to strictly sailing the boat as the family adjusts to the reality of life aboard.

En Route to Galapagos, Day 5

Nothing much new to report here after Monday’s excitement. We saw a pod of about six pilot whales yesterday. They followed us for about twenty minutes, breaching and slapping their tails on the water. One spent a couple of minutes right under the transom, where we could get a very close look at the true size of him. After their visit, they continued on their way, visible in the distance for quite some time. The passage so far has been grey, squally, and lately marked by headwinds. We have just under 500 miles to go. We are hoping to get farther south to pick up a favorable current, as right now we are definitely fighting a foul one.

Day 2 Enroute to Galapagos

0615 Local time- Sailing SSW at about 3.5 knots on a fickle breeze. Last night brought plenty of windless squalls. At least we had very good sailing the entire first day out. We are now about 200 miles from Panama City. The passage from Panama to the Galapagos is normally a light and variable one at any time of year. We are hoping for the return of a good sailing breeze, but at least we are moving.

Approaching Miraflores

1805 (6:05 PM)- We are only a short distance from the Miraflores locks. If you check the Miraflores webcam in the next hour or so you might get a glimpse of two sailboats in the lock. We are ahead of a tanker with a red hull and will probably be tied alongside a tug. Starlight is the sailboat with dark blue canvas.