Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

A quiet couple of days. I didn't make it to Sydney as planned. Ended up celebrating on the Brisbane River. Since it was a weekend I expected to see a lot of boats but it was surprisingly quiet. That is good because every boat that goes past wakes Reboot. An uncomfortable PITA.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, December 26, 2016

The ultimate golden shellback



The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the Master, Captain John Phillips, the result.

The ships position was LAT 0 S 31' N and LON 179 S 30' W. The date was 31 December 1899

 “Know what this means?” First Mate Payton broke in, “We are only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line.”

Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. 

He called his navigators to the bridge to check and double check the ships position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. 

Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather and clear night worked in his favor.


At midnight the Master ensured that the Warrimoo lay still on the equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line!

The consequences of this bizarre position were many. The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere at the middle of summer. The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899. Forward it was 1 January 1900.

This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, and two different seasons, but in two different centuries, all at the same time!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New solar controller install. Old one bit the dust yesterday. Fair winds and following seas :)

Edson Steering Base Plate

I was surprised when the Edson tech told me that they never had problems with the base plate since mine had failed twice. He must be a noob.

I did get help and got the plate swapped out today. The rudder is attached to the wheel again. Yea!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Help wanted

I am currently anchored in the Brisbane River near Mowbray Park Citi-Cat station. I need to repair the steering. This requires someone to hold bolts in the cockpit while I work in the engine room. I do not need, nor do I want to pay for a marine mechanic. The only requirement is to be able to hold a wrench. I am looking for a way to get in touch with someone who can help me out.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Unleash the Kraken

One of my only disappointments with my Amazon Fire is that one can not purchase apps from the Google Store. Of course someone (actually many someones) has a hack. The one I used was:

I was then able to install Uber and took my first Uber ride to the boat store. All good.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cruising Budget - How Much Does it Cost?

(In all the years I have been posting this series has been the most popular. In case you missed it...)

There has always been a great interest in knowing how much to budget for the cruising life. The answer is always "it depends." I too was frustrated by the "it depends." In an effort to shed some light on the subject here is my take on the parameters of "it depends." I own a 42' sailboat and have done some cruising in North and Central American, Portugal, Spain and the Canaries, and in the Caribbean. My personal take is that one can cruise and tour comfortably in a 40 to 45 foot boat for about $2,500 to $3,000 per month. One can "live aboard" for much less. I am assuming that you are on a sailboat to see the world, not stay in a relatively small area.

The Big Issues

There are four factors that have an overall influence on both initial and operating costs. They are:

What risks you are willing to take,
How much comfort you desire,
What you consider to be a prudent insurance profile,

Where you cruise


There are various pieces of equipment that reduce the risk of sailing: life raft, GPS/Chart Plotter, radar, marine/ham radio, and AIS. In general these are expensive one time costs with the exception of a life raft (5 year expensive service cycle) and Chart Plotters (electronic charts are expensive, so are paper charts, but it is easier to get used paper charts.)


Perhaps the largest cost associated with comfort is the size and type of boat. The larger the boat the more everything will cost. If you choose a catamaran expect dockage to be 1 1/2 to 2 times the cost of a monohull. Most marinas charge by the length of the boat with a surcharge for catamarans since they are much wider. Do you want heat? Air conditioning? Do they need to work while underway and at anchor (rather than just in a marina?) The ability to make water rather than filling up (for a fee in most places) at the dock? Do you want to plug in your 110V (or 220V) appliances while away from a dock? Do you want to motor from place to place to stay on schedule? Fuel is quite expensive. Are you willing to row your dingy to shore or do you need an outboard motor?

Prudent Insurance Profile

In general there are three options for the boat: no insurance, liability only, and full coverage for loss. For those who choose it full coverage insurance is a significant part of the overall annual cost. That said can you recover financially from a total loss of your boat and possessions? Boats do sink on a regular basis. Most marinas will not let you in without liability insurance. Or you can go without and hope for the best.

Medical insurance is another issue. If you are from the US like me you will discover that most insurance policies do not cover you if you are out of the US. This is also true for Medicare. Some countries with "universal government coverage" will treat you for free. Some will require you to pay. Costs can be a lot lower then in the US or quite similiar. The only guidance I can give is that you need to research coverage country by country.

Where you cruise

Where you cruise will have a great impact on your overall costs. I stopped at about 12 islands in the Caribbean over the course of four months. (Why is a story for another day, see my blog.) Prices in Guadeloupe rivaled those in Paris. $50 per day for groceries. $12 per pack smokes. Prices in Sint Maarten were so low that Wal-Mart would go out of business. European and American prices are high the minute you hit shore.

Times have changed - particularly with Schengen in Europe. The need for many cruisers to get out of Europe for an extended period has made the marina costs in typical wintering over places like Turkey much more expensive. (an aside - if you are planning to cruise to Europe and don't know what Schengen is make sure you find out before you leave the United States.)

Budget Considerations

Initial Capital Costs

I own my boat. It went through three phases: family cruiser, racer, and finally full time cruising. Each transition resulted in a major capital outlay. My racing outlay was almost completely for safety equipment: life raft, jacklines, harnesses, excellent life jackets, throwing lines, etc. Moving to cruising I had a new set of expenditures: dinghy, outboard motor, solar panels, water maker, SSB radio, email modem, satphone, mast steps, tricolor, AIS and so forth. Not to mention little things that cropped up: boom preventers, dingy hoist, etc. I strongly suggest that you make these expenditures before you retire and are living on a fixed income.

Ongoing Maintenance

Hard to quantify as it is very dependent on your cruising style. I have traveled about 4 to 5 thousand nautical miles per year since I was cruising. I have had to replace sails, paint the bottom regularly, and do a lot of small things that add up to a lot of money - I dragged in a fierce thunderstorm and had to replace the rudder, sails wear out or at least need to be restitched, shackles break, blocks pop, the wear and tear of salt water on little things like cotter pins creates a constant stream of maintenance expenses. I now set aside 20% of my annual budget for ongoing maintenance. This takes into account that I do almost all of my own work.

Cyclical Maintenance

Again this depends on your cruising style but I think is often overlooked when planning a budget. These are the things that wear out and you need to replace that are "big ticket" items." This are also things that if you are planning to head out into the world typically are much easier to source and much cheaper before you go if you live in the U.S,, Europe, Oz, etc. Examples and costs for Rebootover the past few years:

New (heavy duty cruising) jib: 5 years - $ 3,500New (heavy duty cruising) main: 5 years - $ 4,500House batteries (3 - 4D AGM): 3 years - $1,200Standing rigging (with some assistance from a rigger for the caps and forestay:) 7 years - $ 5,000Life raft overhaul: 5 years max - $ 2,000Running rigging: 3 years $ 2,500Bottom Paint: annual - $ 1,500Dinghy: 3 years - $ 2,000
Clearance Costs

Where you cruise can have a major impact on your budget. I went from Key West to Guatemala. Checking into Mexico was about $400, Belize about $350, Guatemala another $350. After Guatemala I chose to return to the United States. I sailed past Belize and Mexico as just stopping in either for one night would have cost me the $350 to $400 clearance fees again. The Belize authorities came and looked for me (they apparently were tracking me on AIS) until they determined that I was just going to sail past them. Some islands in the Caribbean cost me $10 and some cost $400.


Marina prices are all over the map. The winner, the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island at $6.50 per foot per night - use of the resort was extra. Prices of $1.50 per foot were common. Mooring balls ranged from free to $20 per night. In most places it was possible to hang on the hook for free. Fuel and Water prices were pretty consistent wherever I went.


I am almost always cruising solo. The only person I need to please is myself. I know many cruising couples where the need to agree results in higher costs. Not infrequently the rub is anchoring out vs going into a marina. Not to mention the need to return home to visit family. When I am out of the United States I don't fly home to visit my children. From most places outside the US that is a $1500 or more per person expenditure. It is just not in my budget. I know a not insignificant number of couples where one spouse needs to "visit family" while the other spouse sails the boat to the new destination.

The home fires

What will you leave behind? Many cruisers maintain a residence in the US. Many more have storage lockers full of stuff that doesn't fit on the boat. I have shed it all - no home, no car, no storage locker (OK my son does have a couple of boxes of memorabilia.)


Paying someone else to repair your boat is very expensive. What is worse is that a large number of the people are totally unqualified or take the easy fix. For example I was having trouble with my refrigerator. I was told I need to spend $2000 on a new unit. A friend who knew what he was doing purchased a $150 part. That solved the problem.

Boat Parts

As bad as West Marine's reputation for high prices they are bargain basement compared to the cost of parts outside the United States. Budget Marine in the Caribbean had prices that were 135% to 150% of West Marine prices. Some countries charge import duties that can be very high (e.g. $ 300 per shipment in French Polynesia.) A very typical strategy is to invite friends to come visit and have them bring the parts with them to a duty free port such as Sint Maarten. Unfortunately now that the airlines are charging for extra baggage this is not the bargain it once was. Costs to ship packages outside the United States are extraordinary high by US standards. A couple of hundred dollars and a couple of weeks to get a package is not unusual.

Budget Breakers

By far for me the biggest budget breaker is meals ashore. You meet some fellow cruisers. You agree to go ashore for a couple of drinks and a meal. Goodbye budget if you do this very often


I am the proud staff to "XO the Wonder Cat." Please see his Facebook page or watch him on Cats 101 on Animal Planet. (Note that dogs have owners and cats have "staff.") He has kept me sane more than once on long trips offshore. But having an animal on board raises another set of issues, some financial. It cost me more to clear XO into English Harbor ($50) then it did Reboot and crew ($22.) It is difficult to find someone to watch your companion for free if you want to take a multi-day shore excursion. I have not investigated putting him into paid care but rather have altered my own travel plans on his behalf.

Part 2
Part 2 is here:

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Wall Street Journal - Asia

When I first worked on Wall Street in the early 70's the Wall Street Journal was the financial newspaper and little else. The New York Times was actually a respected source of information. Their motto was "All the news that's fit to print." I spent many a Sunday reading the Times.

Over the years the Times has become a joke. Their new motto seems to be "All the news that fits our point of view." I find it painful to read. On the other hand the Wall Street Journal has become a true international newspaper.

This (finally) brings me to my point. Since I read the Journal online and since it is published in several editions I find myself reading papers with different emphasis as I travel around the world. Since I am in Brisbane my web browser opens the Asia edition but gives me access to all the editions. It has an interesting shift of focus compared to the U.S. edition. You might enjoy an afternoon browsing the different editions.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Customs, again

I got a call from Fedex. It seems that since my repair parts from Edson exceed $1,000 they need to go through a customs broker. Just another expense.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Aussie Hospitality (2)

I forgot to mention - when Ryan and I were trying to pick up a mooring buoy in the strong current we lost our boat hook overboard. It apparently drifted to shore and was found by a local gentleman. He found Reboot's web site, sent me an email, and this morning brought it down to the shore next to Reboot. What a nice guy.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Aussie Hospitality

It has been a trying week. First, my radar breaking loose from the mast on the way into Scarborough. Then getting hammered in Morton Bay by the thunderstorm. Discovering that almost all my dinghy fuel had sloshed out during the storm. Getting some dinghy fuel and a crew member from the VMR in Scarborough. Heading down to Brisbane only to have the steering fail. Going all the way up the Brisbane River to the Botanical Gardens and finding no place to anchor. Heading back down the river until we found an anchorage about 1 1/2 miles from the dinghy dock. Ryan getting sick and having to drop him off so back to solo sailing. Then finding out that the nearest place to purchase fuel on the water was 3 1/2 miles away. And realizing that I might not have enough fuel in the dinghy to make it.

Enter the Aussies. First, the nearby marina agreed to receive my repair parts. (Remember that with XO on board I can't go into a marina.) No worries!

As I was standing on deck this morning I noticed a beautiful boathouse across the way - the Graham Fowles. It belongs to the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie.) I dropped them a note explaining my problem and asking if I could land on their dock. Within 1/2 hour I got a call from their rowing director. He waved to me (it is really that close) and asked if it was a good time for me to come over. I said yes and by the time I had crossed the river, dodging two catamaran ferries in the process, he had fuel waiting for me on the dock. He asked if I needed further assistance with the steering etc. And we agreed to meet tomorrow.

I returned to Reboot much heartened. Of course I had to dodge two catamaran ferries on the way back. They are very strange. Several of the boats will go whipping by me while their helmsman avoids eye contact. A couple of them slow down, wave, and try to make it easy.

Nice to know that the boating community looks out for its own.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Steering Woes

When crossing the Atlantic we lost our wheel steering. Investigation showed that the poorly engineered turning blocks had given way. After tightening the cables once again this morning and disassembling the steering pedestal we discovered that the turning block unit had failed again. We need to further disassemble the system to get to the broken part. Edison has apparently reengineered the part (at a cost of $400 US) so hopefully once we get the part and reassemble it it will last more than a couple of years. It is a shame that we did not see this in Vuda Point when we had it all apart. I think it is additional damage from the beating Reboot took in the thunderstorm. Oh well. At least we can steer with the autopilot.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wild night, pretty day.

Went down and anchored of Scarborough to help Steve Johnson. Little did I know that it is a terrible anchorage when the wind is from the North. Lots of rocking and rolling. Last night we had thunderstorms. Wind to 40 knots. Waves to 6 feet. I was on Reboot. In the middle of it all the anchor tensioner let loose. All the chain and rode ran out. Fortunately I had re-tied the bitter end last week so I didn't drag. Not fun.

This morning jumped into the dinghy to pick up Ryan, my new crew member. No fuel. It had apparently sloshed out of the air vent during the violent wave action. Next came the rudder. The cables had come off the quadrant. I put them back together. I called Steve and Ryan and explained the situation. The Volunteer Coast Guard came out with dinghy fuel and Ryan. We were off to Brisbane where.

A beautiful sail down to the entrance channel and a long motor up to the Botanical Garden. There was no room at the inn. After several unsuccessful attempts to pick up a mooring buoy we finally found a place to anchor. There are no great spots but we are ok. Tomorrow we will head back up to the garden in hopes someone has left.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, December 3, 2016


I had a very unpleasant evening coping with thunderstorms. I came down to Morton Bay near Brisbane with Chandara. Steve of course went into the marina. I anchored out. It is a terrible anchorage in north trendline winds which are common this time of year. To make matters worse last night we had two thunderstorms pass through with winds to 40 knots. Having made sure Steve is settled and having made truant the store it is time to move on.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Bundaberg to Scarborough

This was a very weird passage. After crossing Wide Bay Bar I started to head South. I was becalmed for about 3 hours and the wind picked up and Reboot was sailing nicely. At about 10 pm local I hit the anchorage near the NW Channel Buoy into Brisbane. This required a lot of course changes. I tried to fire up the radar but it chose not to work. At that point the wind died again and I was making about 1 1/2 knots. A fishing boat came up from my stern and almost hit me. He started blowing his horn and cursing. I of course was going nowhere. As he passed me I tried to tack away..I heard a crash and the radar and it's mounting bracket hit the deck. Fortunately it did not go overboard. Then I realized there was a second fishing trawler also very near. So I am not sure if the two fishing boats were getting in each other's way and the one cursing was being pushed into me. I will never know. After trying to avoid them for another 15 minutes without much success I started the engine and bear feet in retreat. By the time I had motored to the top of the entrance channel I was pretty wiped so I found see shallow water and anchored until dawn. With a pretty morning and light winds I motored down to Scarborough in the am.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The ponytail is gone

After three years of not bothering to get a haircut Steve and I were walking through a mall in Scarborough and I decided it was time. My hair is now 1/2 inch long on top.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NW approach buoy, Brisbane

After leaving Wide Bay Bar Reboot proceeded down the coast. Basically becalmed for 3 hours, good wind, and then on approach to the Brisbane channel becalmed again. As I am doing about 0.6 knots a fishing boat almost hits me and then starts cursing at me. Since he came up on my stern it was his problem, not mine. I decided that with all the work lights and Reboot running with a tricolor he never saw me until almost too late

I threaded my way through about 20 anchored boats, dealt with the crazy fisherman, and then was picked up by Brisbane VTS (vessel traffic services.) They worked me around a number of arriving and departing ships. It was nice that they also told the ships where I was.

Anchored for the night. Reboot is rolling like mad but that beats threading the needle in the dark.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Wide Bay Bar

This morning Reboot joined the parade to cross Wide Bay Bar. I took advantage of local knowledge and followed Chandara out. It was quite an experience. First, we (about 6 boats) had to fight the current from the incoming tide to get out to the bar. I wondered why we did not wait. As I turned onto the charted course for the bar Reboot started experiencing 8 foot rollers. Wind against tide would have been devastating. The reason for leaving just before high tide also became clear. The depth was oscillating with the waves. At the bottom I was seeing 8 feet, well below the charted depth. But wait, there's more. In addition to the knives.... About half way out I looked to starboard and noticed 12 to 16 foot breaking waves. Wow. My surfing friends need to see this place. I have the sails up in very light air and am ghosting along. If the wind does not pick up as forecast I will have to shake out the reefs in the main.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mini Transit

At S 25 48.85 E 153 02.17 Wind ENE 15 Wave N 1 ft. Sky 60% Bar 1019 - 1. At anchor north end of Tin Can Inlet in preparation for early departure tomorrow to cross the bar and head south.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Tin Can Bay Yacht Club.

Steve, Shawn and I are having lunch at the Tin Can Bay Yacht Club. This is just off the public dock where Chandara was tied while Steve got his hand fixed. Nice place, reasonable prices.

We took the dinghies up to the Tin Can Bay Marina. A nice facility but not very welcoming to transients. I will go back up to buy fuel but that is it.

Stevie has gone back to the dirt world for a while.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Re: Happy thanksgiving

We're in New York.  By now it's tomorrow for you, so Happy Day After Thanksgiving.

When we get to California at the end of next week, the time zone switches so that you're five hours behind us - the same difference as New York-London.  Except for that date line, of course.  So our three in the afternoon will be ten in the morning for you, all right - tomorrow morning.

On Thu, Nov 24, 2016 at 2:46 AM, Roger John Jones <> wrote:
Since I think we are all in the right time zone for this to be the day, unless Ace and Sally are in California, Happy Thanksgiving from Tin Can Inlet, Queensland, Australia.

Fair winds and following seas:)

Re: Happy thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Mate!  Put some shrimp on the barbi.

On Nov 24, 2016 2:46 AM, "Roger John Jones" <> wrote:
Since I think we are all in the right time zone for this to be the day, unless Ace and Sally are in California, Happy Thanksgiving from Tin Can Inlet, Queensland, Australia.

Fair winds and following seas:)

Happy thanksgiving

Since I think we are all in the right time zone for this to be the day, unless Ace and Sally are in California, Happy Thanksgiving from Tin Can Inlet, Queensland, Australia.

Fair winds and following seas:)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Good Samaritan

I walked into downtown Tin Can Bay this morning to go to the store. It is about a 20 minute walk. On the way back I stopped in the local marina restaurant for breakfast. When there I had a conversation with three guys at the next table. They were in the area 4 wheeling and having a good time. Since I was carrying groceries I asked if they minded driving me back to the dinghy. Their answer was "no worries." We chat, we get back to Steve Johnson's boat and my dinghy and after a brief tour they had back up the dock. I drop my stuff on the boat and head back myself. What do a find but they are helping a guy load a full size refrigerator into his truck. What great guys.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Helping Chandara

I looked out and Chandera was gone. What? Got a message from Stevie Jane that Steve Johnson had been cut badly and was at the hospital. The Coast Guard moved the boat. I missed it all. At the moment the wind is still strong. I will take Reboot down to support them when It dies down.

Moved to the south end of Tin Can Inlet (Tin Can Bay is the town, the Inlet is the water) to provide any possible support for Steve. Came down in slack tide in the dark. Freaked myself out a bit. I don't like narrow places especially in the dark. Fortunately the marks and ranges were good. Dropped the anchor. As i started to identify objects around me in the dark I realized I was closer than I liked to another boat. And yes, the radar decided not to work when I really needed it. That is the way with boats. Hoisted the anchor and moved. Don't particularly like this spot either but it will work for 12 hours. The strong winds that have been plaguing me are gone as this area is much more sheltered. In the morning i will check in with Stevie Jane, move the boat to a better spot, and drop the dinghy in the water. Two beers and rest.

Woke up to find that I was close to shore. Actually an OK spot for most people but I have dragged enough times that I don't like being that close. Moved Reboot again. Dinghy in the water, went in and coordinated with VMR Tin Can Bay. Heard from Steve. We will move the boat at noon.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Tin Can Bay

Chandara at Tin Can Bay. We left Bundaberg and sailed the Great Sandy Straights. The entrance to this anchorage has shoaled in so we remain in the outer section with 20+ knot winds. Unlike last night Reboot is not current locked so at least we are swing bow to wind.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Great Sandy Straight, Tin Can Bay

From Bundaberg their are two routes south: outside Fraiser Island; and through the Great Sandy Straight. Chandra and Reboot decided to go the Great Sandy Straight route. Most of the route is straightforward. There is only one section that is tricky. Passing through requires timing the tide. We set off from Bundaberg. From the onset I should have realized we were in trouble. Exiting the river was a nightmare. At one point the adverse wind and current had me averaging 1.5 knots. But heck, once out I would be able to head south under sail. Nope. The wind shifted, died, shifted again so I was motoring most of the way. Into the wind. Into the current. Finally made it to Fraiser Island Resort after a miserable passage.

The next day we timed our departure to pass through the shallows. All good except for the 25 knot winds gusting to 30. We made it through the shallows and breathed a sigh of relief. The tide turned so we would get a push all the way to Tin Can Bay. Enter the southeast 20 to 25 knot winds. When we were about 5 miles from our destination the wind opposing current had us fighting 1.5 meter swells and going nowhere. We anchored for the night.

This morning at dawn I raised the anchor at slack tide and 10 knot winds for the final leg. Within 30 minutes the wind was again at 20+ but the waves had not yet had a chance to build. I made it to Tin Can Bay and am now waiting for a calm to transit the bar and continue south.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Landing Craft

Although most of us relate this ship design to amphibious landings in WW II movies they are in fact a vital part of the infrastructure in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Tilt (2)

Note the direction of the anchor chain.

The Tilt

Reboot is experiencing the "tilt." I am anchored in a river. Reboot is under three influences: tide; wind; and current. The multifunction display chart has been keeping track of my position since my arrival. The right circle is prior to my biosecurity inspection, the left after I returned.

You can see that we swing around a lot. In absence of other impacts Reboot aligns with bow to the wind. She does have a tendency to sail around her anchor but in general stays in a single direction.

What makes life interesting here is when the current and or tide effect is strong and different than the wind. Since the hull is in the water which is much more dense than air Reboot tends to align with the current. This can, as it is right now, put the wind on the beam. Since Reboot is locked in direction by the current the only thing she can do is heel. With the current winds at 20 -25 knots the heel is quite apparent. As the tide changes we will spin around to a new alignment hence the circles on the chart.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Biosecurity Inspection

Yesterday I had my first post arrival biosecurity inspection. Under the current rules I had to weight anchor and take Reboot to the quarantine dock here in Bundaberg. There Aimee Hall, the local biosecurity officer, met me for the check. She made sure that XO was still on board and took off my garbage. She was very professional and friendly. Unfortunately biosecurity charges for these visits at $200 per hour. Since they charge in 15 minute increments it only cost me $50. In the old days apparently the biosecurity officer could dinghy out to the boat but that practice has changed. At least the holding here in Bundaberg is good so I did not have problems when I returned to anchor. I am not sure how often these checks will happen but they are not a big deal as long as the weather is benign. I have, in the past had to deal with government officials that don't understand sailboats. The requirement that I immediately proceed to the customs dock in 35 knot winds in Bermuda comes to mind.

Their country, their rules.

Fair winds and following seas :)

New Jib Sheets

About 50 nm from Bundaberg my starboard jib sheet decided it was tired and split in half. I was able to tie the ends together and make it into port. Of course, it is possible to sail with one jib sheet. You just furl, put the sheet on the appropriate side and unfurl. Not necessary in this case. Swapping sheets is also a good way to move the sheet blocks from the inside to the outside of the rail for going downwind.

I replaced the sheets. Unfortunately the previous sheets were "yacht braid." It has a very soft "hand" so it is easy to trim without gloves. Not so the new sheets.

In the year (I left Norfolk, VA on 11 November 2015) that I have been sailing to and in the Pacific I have been on port tack about 90% of the time due to the easterly trades. In retrospect it was not a surprise that it was the starboard sheet that failed. Prudence required replacing both.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, November 14, 2016


Port Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia.

Mon Repos

Visited the famous sea turtles nesting site yesterday. High tide and daylight so we didn't see any turnstiles except the one on the very nice interpretation center. I could not figure out why they needed an emergency assembly point. For visitors? The turtles?

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

After the wind

I pointed out yesterday the the weather forecast greatly underestimated the wind speed. It peaked at about 35 knots. The big concern is of course that the anchor will drag. To a lessor extent there is always the possibility that the ground tackle (anchor, etc.) will break. We dragged a couple of times in Pago Pago with 200 feet of chain and 150 feet of rode. Here I only have about 100 feet of chain out. But the water is only 10 - 20 feet deep depending on the tide. Well, we didn't drag.

Since we are in a river we are subject to the flow of the river in addition to the impact of the wind and tide. The current is from the west. The wind varies between the NE, E, and SE. This creates a constant wind against current impact of the waves in the river. They are, in a few words, short, steep, choppy, and ugly. When the wind is light the trip to the marina is unpleasant, When the wind is up the trip is very wet. Since there is no fetch the waves don't get high, maybe a foot and one half at the peak. But the dinghy just bounces all the way into shore. Not fun.

Last night as predicted the wind dropped to almost nothing. Not good. I had forgotten to close the boat up. At 2 AM I awoke covered in mosquito bites. I did not fall back asleep for several hours.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The advantage of solo sailing

With all my crew gone I able once again to spread out!

Weather Forecast

Winds 15 to 20. Actual: Winds 25 to 35. Quality.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bundaberg Port Marina

After a quiet night and some Civ 5 in the A.M. I fired up the dinghy and headed into the marina. I immediately had massive sticker shock. Use of the dinghy dock and marina facilities is $20 per day. I expected a developed area but the marina is reminiscent of Shelter Bay in Panama. With the exception of a small chandelier and a number of marine businesses there is nothing here and "there" is a minimum 1/2 hour walk. The prices in the one restaurant make Bora Bora look cheap. The Internet, although free, is limited in daily use. It may be solid on the docks (I don't know) but the public areas on land are limited to two tables with barely adequate connectivity. There is a nice area set aside as a "cruisers home port." It consists of a covered area, a tented area, and a barbie. Whatever party is happening is the party you bring with you. Surprisingly there is no pub. Laundry is $4 per machine. On the up side the staff is very nice.

I discovered that the local IGY market had a free shuttle bus. They picked me up and took me to "there."  The market was small but adequate to my immediate needs. Two big surprises: they don't sell liquor in the grocery stores and cigarettes are $30 per pack! My guess is that a lot of poor kids are going hungry so their parents can buy smokes. When will these governments figure out it is an addiction?

With nothing else to do but sit on a bench by myself I headed back to Reboot after an expensive and mostly unsatisfying lunch. It was a serendipitous choice as the wind picked up to 20+ knots and the chop in the river made the 3/4 mile dinghy ride uncomfortable. Fortunately Reboot is riding pretty well so I am not that uncomfortable. If it dies down I may go back this evening but I expect most people spend the evening on their boats.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Arrived Bundeburg

Arrived in the middle of the night (as usual.) Anchored out from the entrance channel. In the morning I contacted the volunteer rescue shore radio station. They act as a welcoming gateway and put me in touch with the necessary government officials. I was instructed to bring Reboot to the quarantine dock. It is pretty cute. The one dock in this big marina has an extra fence, gate and warning signs.

Biosecurity was waiting for me. They boarded and we started the long process of dealing with XO. Lots of paperwork, lots of rules, I have to purchase a t-shirt that says "unclean." Actually they were very nice. The net is that I must not make landfall with Reboot, there is a notice on the boat about a quarantined animal, all his waste must be disposed of by biosecurity, I need to notify them when I change ports, and of course pay fees. Not so bad. I am so far in the financial hole after all the unanticipated repair costs that not being able to use a marina is a blessing in disguise. The agent even brought treats for XO. Very sweet. Customs came and was a non-event.

I headed further into the river and anchored in about 10 feet of water. The tide here is about 9 feet so one must be careful where one drops. I took the dinghy into the marina. I had taken a nap after getting everything sorted so I missed the office deadline. It is a big place so tomorrow I will go in early and explore. I was able to get a burger and chips. Now if I get ice cream I will be all good.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Underway 3 November 0438 utc

Just to the south of Bundeburg, Australia there is a peninsula that encloses a large bay. I have crossed over from the ocean into shallow (80 - 150 ft) depths. I am still 38 nm from Bundeburg and can not yet see land. I should arrive at the harbor entrance tonight. I will anchor nearby. It is rarely a good idea to enter a new harbor at night.

Yesterday was a bear of a day. A front passed over Reboot. The wind clocked 270 degrees from north east to south east over an 18 hour period. We also had 30 knot winds, rain, and 8 foot seas. Far from a fun day. Frequent trimming and reefing was the agenda. The wind would pick up and then die and then pick up again. Reef down in high wind, reef up to keep underway in the calms. For about 12 hours there was no good route to my destination so I just tacked back and forth and lost 17 nm of progress. Eventually it passed through and I was underway again. So far the only really trying day of the trip.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Underway 1 November 0755 utc

Reboot is about 175 nm from Bundeburg. Yesterday the winds got light and we slowed down for about 12 hours. After sunset (of course) the wind freshened and shifted to the north. For a while we we going up wind. This was actually nice as the apparent wind shift gave us some more speed until the wind filled in.

In the middle of the night XO retrieved a 12" fish that had landed on the deck and brought it to me as a prize. It was still alive and filled the salon area with scales as it flopped around. One retrieved he lost interest so, still flopping, I consigned it overboard.

Radio communications have been very poor. Apparently there is a magnetic storm. This has made getting weather charts and forecasts impossible. Fortunately I also have a satellite telephone. I keep my shore staff apprised of my position. They can notify me if I am heading into bad weather. The down side is it is very expensive.

Only a couple of more days.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sea Mounts 30 Oct 1927 UTC

The South Pacific is littered with islands. I mentioned Fiji as the "land of 1,000 hazards". But in the middle of the ocean? About half way between New Caledonia and Australia there is a sea mount that actually sticks above the surface. By definition a guess it is an island but it is so small its more like a rock. It is cleverly positioned on the direct route between New Caledonia and Bundeburg, Australia. Figures.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Underway, October 28th, 519 utc

It rained all night with accompanying wind shifts so that was no fun.  It did really bring to mind how much the weather has changed. I already mentioned that island weather and ocean weather are different. I am only 360 nautical miles south of Fiji and the change has been quite dramatic. In Fiji it would get to 95 degrees inside Reboot. By 10 AM I was sweating profusely and done for the day. I was constantly battling with mosquitos and flies. The only redeeming grace was sitting in the bar in the breeze as the sun went down, lathered up of course with bug spray. I would wake up each morning wringing wet. Now it is in the low 70's in the day and high 60's at night. Working in the cockpit at night requires warm clothing to combat the wind chill. It is a sailboat and it is usually blowing 15 to 20 knots in the cockpit.

The skies cleared by midday and the dampness started to disappear. The nicer weather got me in task mode. I cleaned the toilets this morning. It is only XO and me but I had high hopes. He looked at me with a "really? and meowed.  No help from that quarter. Then he looked at his box. Yes, I did that too. I do it every day.

The rest of the day was electronic central. I did some work on iTunes. There must be a manifest file because it is showing a lot of songs that are not on the computer. Then I did some more rtfm on my keyboard (a Yamaha PSR-S970) and practiced a bit. I am in high frustration mode. Years ago I was quite ok. Now I struggle every day.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Off New Caledonia 26 Oct 1900 utc

I decided in the middle of the night to skip New Caledonia. These decisions always seem to happen at night. In the rain. With strong winds. And big seas. This time was no exception. Making landfall, or in this case getting close, always changes the weather. The land disrupts the wind and waves. The visual sight range from Reboot is 3 nm. The clouds over New Caledonia could be seen from 50 miles away. That is how the "iron men in wooden ships" found the islands in the past. I am still close enough to be affected but I can see blue skies ahead.

I have about 800 nm to go to Bundeburg, Australia. Depending on the wind this is 7 to 10 days. I do have charts but no cruising guides. I will deal with that when I arrive. The good news is that I will miss 1 1/2 weeks of election coverage.
It turns out that one of the most difficult products to find in the South Pacific is kitty litter. The vet in Fiji suggested I use chicken feed. That is what they use. It works well with one exception. It is so light that XO tracks it all over the boat. I am constantly cleaning up. So far it has all been  pretty clean litter particles.

I have been taking advantage of the nice ride (up until last night) to get more familiar with my Yamaha PSR S970 keyboard. It is a very complex instrument. I did discover how to preview instrument sounds. This was a big breakthrough as it really is the only way to translate names into sounds. I still don't have a clue how to decode the drum kit / harmony settings. I am finally past my "type A" personality and have started to rtfm. I play music for a while, get frustrated, play with the instrument, get frustrated, go back to playing music. The truth about transits is there is lots of spare time.

Question: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"

Answer: "Practice man, practice."

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Underway to New Caledonia (Oct 25 2000 utc)

It is early morning. I am in utc + 12. In other words it is 12 hours earlier in London. Half of my day is spent in tomorrow (take that, Anne) until midnight catches up. For my friends and family 3/4 of my day is their yesterday (and my troubles seem so far away.) An overcast morning. I just put up the full main. I always reef down at night in case I get a storm or the wind picks up. Trying to reef in the dark while half asleep is no fun as I learned on my maiden solo voyage to Newfoundland. The wind is still very light and I am being set by the waves. My heading is 220 T and my track is 250 T. The good news is the waves have moderated to about 1 foot. It is a very smooth ride. If the clouds burned off it would be a perfect day to take friends sailing. Sit around the cockpit, have a beer or two, and shoot the breeze while Reboot takes care of herself.

I am still fence sitting about New Caledonia vs direct Australia. I still have a day to make the decision. The issue is food. I don't need fuel. I make water and electricity. The only thing I can run out of is food. I have enough for the trip even if I am becalmed for a couple of days. I am not sure after that. I will have to take an inventory today and make sure I really have a decision to make.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Underway to New Caledonia (Oct 25 6:00 UTC)

A frustrating day. After making good progress the wind died today. Reboot has had winds of less than 6 knots for the last 8 hours. Fortunately she is light enough that we have still been making way. There was only one short period when I had to hand steer as the autopilot could not hold course. I had to alter course a bit to stay close hauled to build apparent wind. We are still heading (slowly) in the right general direction.

I am about 100 nm from a decision point. I can turn north and head for port in New Caledonia. Or I can just continue on to Bundeburg, Australia. I don't have a strong need to make port. Hurricane season is fast approaching so I could only stay a couple of days. I might have mail (and possibly Matt) waiting but I would have to pay clearance fees. After my recent repairs my pockets are pretty empty. If the weather forecast continues for light air I will stop. If it fills back in I will continue to Australia directly.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Underway to New Caledonia (Oct 23)

Course 240. Speed 5.2 knots Wind SE 20, Waves SE 5 to 7 feet (on beam, we be rolling.)

Position S 18 degrees 42 minutes E 174 degrees 11 minutes

The first day is usually trying and this was no exception. Left Vuda Point Marina with a forecast of 10 to 15 knots of wind from the southeast. Got 25 knots from the southwest - on the bow. Add a knot or so of adverse current and 3 foot swells and Reboot slogged the 17 nautical miles to the pass in the reef at 2.5 knots. Thanks to mother Yanmar and the repairs in Vuda Point everything went well with no vibration. When surrounded by reefs and other boats one is always on edge. I sighed in relief when I cleared the channel.

Reboot turned a little more west and the wind moved a little south so I was able to set sail. The wind and waves were on the beam and unfortunately the waves were running 6 to 7 feet. We have been rolling ever since.

Settling in for the transit. First project was to find all the things that were making noise. That took the rest of the first day. Now the monotony sets in. Set the alarm. Try to rest. Wake, check the boat and sky, set the alarm. Nothing to see but the sea.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Passage Weather says light air. Fiji Weather says 25 to 30 knots. Who to believe?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Sea trial

Sea trial successful. No vibration. Plan to depart for New Caledonia on Friday.


Reboot is back in the water. She was towed to a slip so that we can start the engine and align everything. Since the fuel system was taken apart to get access to the intercoolers it is a bit more, but no a lot, than turn the key.

Fair winds and following seas ;)

Friday, October 7, 2016

A good day

The engine is in. The shaft is aligned. The prop is back on and the rudder is hanging. Tomorrow morning when it is cool I will put the steering quadrants back on. Then we will be ready to splash and sea trial. Since Monday is a holiday we will do it on Tuesday.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Cruisers' Midnight

A standing joke among cruisers, "Cruisers' Midnight" refers to the propensity of cruisers to retire when the sun goes down. Since I am an early riser in have noticed that dawn here in Fiji is also early. The sun starts to light the sky at 5 AM.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016

Elevator, elevator, but no shaft

It's Tuesday here in Fiji and still no shaft. It seems that the shaft for the other boat was not machined properly so it went back to be fixed. This moved Reboot's shaft back another day. So XO and I wait and bake.

With respect to the elevator, elevator comment. Back in the dark ages when I was in high school we got a very creative group of cheerleaders. Tired of the old cheers they created a number of new ones of which I remember two: "elevator, elevator we got the shaft" and "repel them, repel them, make them relinquish the ball." There were others I am sure but memory fades. This was in the early 60's and the elevator cheer lasted one game before being banned by the administration.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

When the easy is hard

It was time to download new maps for my Garmin chart plotter. I learned early in my offshore cruising to postpone buying maps until I needed them. I found that there would be a new version by the time I got into the coverage area.

This should not have been a problem. And in a more connected location it would not have been. First, I had to find someone with a USB to SD card reader. One of my former crew had taken mine with him when he left. "Not a problem", he said. "Buy a new one and send me the bill." After an $80 cab ride I discovered that there were none to be found. Next step, find a cruiser to borrow one. Mission accomplished. Now do the download - 2.5 gb. Use the marina WiFi. No dice. It kept dropping. Unfortunately Garmin (who otherwise I think highly of) does not packetize their downloads. You need to get it all in one shot. Next step. Pay $33 to the alternate provider for 3 gb of downloads. After 3 or 4 tries and about 5 hours I finally got the maps. Then it blew up one more time downloading software updates for my gear. Since I had about 3 copies of the updates I was not concerned that I did not get them. But would the charts work? Did I need to start another 2 hour download? Fortunately no, the charts had downloaded intact. One more item off the checklist.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Dinghy Project

Starting in Pago Pago we noticed that the PVC part of the dinghy was coming loose from the fiberglass. We had a small tube of PVC glue and tried for a patch. It didn't work. When we got to Vuda Point we put the dinghy on the ground. Almost the entire seal between the PVC and the fiberglass was gone. Fortunately the local chandeliers had PVC glue, something we had been unable to find in American Samoa, Tonga and Savusavu. After many hours - most by Matt - of cleaning and scraping the old glue and dirt off today we reglued the entire dinghy. Thanks to Matt it is looking 100% better.

Fair winds and following seas :)


Those who follow know that most of the time we were in Tonga and American Samoa we were plagued with rain. We even frequently had morning showers in Savusavu. Since we arrived in Vuda point it has been very hot and sunny. What goes around comes around. Tonight we can hear thunder.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, September 26, 2016


Since Reboot is on the hard and we have expert mechanical help I decided to have the cooling system cleaned. It was a little more involved than I expected. Here are the intercoolers back from being cleaned and ready for installation. The engine is buttoned back up. We are still waiting for the new shaft.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, September 23, 2016


Watching the sunset at Vuda Point

Fair winds and following seas :)


Some days you can't get close enough...

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rudder day

Today was rudder day. In order to insert the new shaft we have to drop the rudder. Matt and I spent a couple of hours disconnecting everything.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The cane train

Running past Vuda Point Marina is a narrow gauge railroad. I thought it was abandoned but it is very much in use. It is the (sugar) cane trait.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rope Yarn

In the days of sail there was a time set aside for the sailors to mend their clothing, relax and chat. Sailors also made their own clothing. This was a opportunity to deal with their personal needs. On Reboot it is also a time to go over all the sheets and halyards to check for chafe. Today was a rope yarn day.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The afternoon siesta

After what seems to be a month of overcast weather we are now blessed with sunshine. The downside is that it is so hot at midday that it is difficult to get work done (as in we don't feel like working in the hot sun.) Since it is almost spring the days are getting longer so we concentrate our work in early morning and late afternoon.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016


The water is not supposed to be this low. Low tide and wind sucking the water out of the marina

Vuda Point Marina, Lautoka, Fiji

An update from Reboot.....

Reboot, Capt Roger, XO (the wonder cat) and crew are currently in Vuda Point. Once again we made an entrance - towed in due to bad engine vibration, Capt Roger once again forgot to put on his shorts so arrived in his boxers. But he digresses...

Vuda Point is the first comprehensive marine repair facility when traveling west from Tahiti. entrance channel is well marked with white poles. At night they are illuminated by flashing red and green lights. Night entry is still not recommended. The marina facility is "med morning." A chase boat is required to help you into your slip. Be prepared to wait outside for your turn. As of this writing the marina monitors channel 11.

Approaching the entrance channel is straightforward the second time. The first time not such. The marina is not shown on the (Garmin) charts.

Position 17º41'04"S, 177º23'02"E (Vuda Marina entrance channel.)

The area around the entrance is littered with buoys (most not on the charts) and an offshore pipeline for tankers. As you get closer the picture becomes clearer as you sort out the channel, pipeline, quarantine, anchorage, etc. buoys. The quarantine buoy is large, yellow and round. Do not confuse it with the yellow "can" buoys. It has "marina" painted on it. It is to one's left as you approach the channel.

The marina megayacht facility is still an artist's conception although some work has been done on the breakwall.

The interior basis (at the moment the only one until the megayacht facility is complete) suffers from poor water flow so the water is quite dirty. Don't expect to dive to check the bottom of your boat.

The staff is very helpful and efficient. There is a list of contractors and the availability of casual labor to help with washing, etc. The restaurant is nice but more pricey then in savusavu.

More to follow after I have had some experience with the repair facility and chandeliers

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

What a change

We spent the day sailing inside the reef. We still had very variable winds but the reef kept the waves down to a maximum of 4 feet. Most of the time they were 2 feet or less.

We are sitting at anchor for the night. There is a gentle breeze and the waves are gently lapping against Reboot. Wow.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In Al's Arms

Of course yesterday XO was vocally complaining all day as we rocked and rolled. But today - paradise.

A quiet day

After several days of high winds and high seas we are sailing downwind in sunny weather and moderate winds we are finally having a nice sail.

The long way

After several days of hiding from the wind and waves yesterday we decided that the wing had moderated enough to transit to Nanu inlet. We left in winds in the low 20's and worked our way around the island. Waves were in the 4 foot range. We had set the third reef in the main and put out about 50% jib. This gave us the ability to point about 15 degrees higher. That would become important later as we had to tack our way around several reefs.

Once we cleared the immediate reefs we aimed at Nanu. It was only about 23 nm and we were making 5.5 to 6.5 knots. Although uncomfortable from the 28 to 30 knot winds in the cockpit (since we were heading upwind the apparent wind was the true wind speed plus 80% of the boat speed) and the frequent boarding waves making us all wet the miles went quickly.

From our sheeting angle it looked like we could sail direct. Except for the set from the waves. By the time we reached Nanu we were 4 nm off course. We had to tack to get back east. This put us back into the heavy wind, waves, and set. By the time we got into the inlet several more hours had passed. In the end we sailed 54 nm at an average speed of 5.2 knots to make 29 miles good. We made it into the inlet during sunset.

The next few days we will be sailing down wind to Lautoka. Al will be leaving us. We may pick up an additional crew.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

12 Sept - Monday- 5 pm (local - UTC + 12)

We are still hiding out behind Yavua, Fiji waiting for the weather to clear. This morning we got rain. This is usually the sign that the weather will change. Fat chance. Apparently we have another night and then we might get a window to depart.

Today the weather has been even weirder. The wind started to drop into the low teens. It has not been below 20 knots for three days. Then bam- a 33 knot gust followed by stained winds in the mid 20's. The seas are also strange. We are behind the island so we get some protection. They still vary from periods of 2 foot waves to periods of 4 to 5. Sometimes on the nose (aligned with the wind, we are at anchor.) Sometimes on the beam.

We had another rule 6 incident today. The marine mf/hf (ssb) radio stopped working a couple of days ago. Today it started working again for no apparent reason. We checked into the Pacific Seafarers Net so they know we are out here.

Settling in for another night of gusts and rocking. Fair winds and following sea :)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

10 Sept Sunset

We have been sitting at anchor waiting for the wind to die down. We are somewhat sheltered from the waves. This is a good thing as the wind has been peaking over 30 knots. That type of wind normally generates 10 ft or higher waves. Behind the island they are peaking at 4 feet. Not super uncomfortable but not great either. Since our next destination is upwind it would be a very ugly sail should we have set out this morning.

Matt and I are sitting in the cockpit watching the sunset. We are in the middle of a frontal passage so it is quite pretty. The wind keeps tricking us. Just as we think it is going to moderate we get blasted with a strong set of gusts.

We have had four visits from local Fijian fishermen today checking to make sure we are ok. It is a very nice feeling. The anchor has been holding and there really isn't anyplace to go. If we go into their small harbor we will be stuck and need to get towed back out. So this is not great but we are doing ok. Nice to know they are watching out for us.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fiji - Land of 1,000 hazards

9 Sept:

We left Savusavu yesterday morning on the way to Taveuni. That is, until we snagged a semi-submerged bottle and rope. This gave us great pause. We dropped the anchor (in the middle of the mooring field.) The next step was to avoid hitting any of the moored boats. At least not hard! We ended up next to Doug on Mango. A few lines and a few fenders and we were safe. Of course our anchor chain was wrapped around Mango's mooring line. Using the stern steps on Mango Al dove down and cleared the line. We motored out of the harbor only to pick up a lot of engine vibration. Since there are no repair facilitates in Savusavu we decided to skip Taveuni and head for Nadi where there are travel lifts etc.

For some beautiful pictures of Tavunei see Elizabeth's blog at We will miss standing on the 180th meridian.

Watching the boats heading east as they rammed into the 5 foot waves, motors churning maybe we didn't miss so much.

But you ask: "Why the land of 1,000 hazards?" The answer. You can not go from here to there. There are always islands, shallows, and reefs in the way. One has to thread their way through them following the approved path because the other routes end in dead ends. So we did until sunset. At which point we noticed some sailboats and a harbor to our right. We turned but could not point high enough to make it to shelter behind the point. We spent a very uncomfortable night at anchor in 23 knot winds and 4 foot waves. Getting back out in the morning (no, the winds and waves did not drop) was a story of its own.

I did dive on Reboot but did not see any obvious problem. There is a lot of marine growth on the shaft but nothing wrapped around it. Since Reboot was bouncing around in the waves I did not investigate further (rule 1). We are now threading our way along the route to Nadi.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The physicality of cruising

My previous poet got me thinking about the great secret of the cruising life - it is hard work. Yes, staying up all night standing watch, cranking on winches to adjust the sails, grabbing handfuls of sail cloth to coax the main down in a strong wind, these all take physical strength. Add manhanding the ground tackle (anchor and rode) and dealing with dock lines. But they don't tell the real story.

Consider the three modes of being in port: marina, mooring buoy, or at anchor. For two of the three everything - and I mean everything - has to be brought out to the boat by dinghy. And how did the food, water, clean laundry, propane, repair parts, repaired sails, etc. get to the dinghy? Why one lugs them across town to the dinghy dock. Usually for quite a distance. Sure, for a big provisioning run you might hire a cab to take your stuff back. In some ports the grocery store might even deliver. But most days we all (cruisers) buy a couple of shopping bags of "stuff" and lug it back. Even in a marina you still need to get stuff from the marina parking lot to the boat. Assuming you have not already lugged it back from the store. Now most marinas have carts but then you have to load the cart, drag the stuff out to the boat, and then return the cart.

Perhaps all the physical work keeps us young. Touring and swimming are of course also work (as is scraping the bottom.)

I should also mention that like camping rain, bugs, and so forth are a pain in the neck. Oh well.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Marking time

We intended to leave Savusavu this morning and head out to explore more of Fiji. The rain quelled our ardour. So I came into shore to pay the marina for one more night on the mooring ball. I also figured I could get a hot shower.

That got me thinking. If you had every told me during my executive days that in my retirement I would be sharing the "mens' locker room" to take a shower or use the bathroom I would have laughed. But the thing is, I do. Sure I use the head when on Reboot. But marine heads are notorious for clogs. So the less use the better. (We have a rule on Reboot: any woman who flushes a "feminine napkin" down the toilet pays a $200 fine for a new pump and gets to unclog the system! They are brutal on the waste system no matter what the package says.) Showers are another thing. It takes the water maker 4 hours to make five gallons of water. Then you have to run the engine to heat the water up. It is a great disincentive.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, September 3, 2016


Ok. Could have taken a picture of the sunset. I preferred the pretty girl taking a picture of the sunset over Savusavu Harbor.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Overcast in Savusavu

Each day we get some morning sun followed by overcast and rain. This is better than Vava'a where we got rain all the time. At least the forecast is for this stationary mess to finally break up over the next couple of days.

Auto Row

The new and used car dealership(s) in Savusavu, Fiji

Waitu Marina

Savusavu, Fiji

Copra Shed Marina

Amazon FAIL the saga continues

You are now connected to Shubhankar from
Me:Do you have access to my previous chat history?
Shubhankar:Hello, my name is Shubhankar. I'm here to help you today.
Could you please tell me your issue.
I will be happy to help you.
Me:Downloading an email attachment
Shubhankar:Could you please provide me the link?
Me:I am not sure what you mean
I am sure you are a nice person but you can not help me. What I need from you is for you to contact someone who can help me. If yo give me 3 minutes to type I qill explain.
Shubhankar:Roger, I have read your previous chat conversation and as I understand that you received an attachment and you want to open on your kindle device but you are getting an error.
Me:Btw I have been an IT professional for 50+ years and write programs including for the Fire. This is a programming issue, not a customer service issue
Let me walk you through it. If you don't understand stop me.
Waiting for an OK from you. I am in Fiji so the Internet is slow.
Shubhankar:As I have checked that you are taliking about a file that is in GPX format.
Kindle device does not support GPX file. You can open this link in your PC.
Pdf, Pdoc files is supported on kindle device.
Me:Why? I don't ask you to support it. I ask to let me download it. Which you apparently choose not to let me do. This is not world class customer service.
I can use the file on other devices after I download it. Why do you care what I do with it?
Shubhankar:A member of our Kindle Specialist will need to help you with this. One moment for a transfer.
A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You are now connected to Amazon from
Amazon:Hello, my name is Gowtham. I'll be happy to help you today.
Me:Hi Amazon from Does this mean you are a beautiful female warrior?
Hi Gowthan
Do you want to take a minute and review the chat history?
Amazon:Yes, please give me a minute, so that I can check with your previous conversation.
Amazon:Thank you for waiting.
You are referring to access the gpx file using your Kindle device, right?
Me:While you are doing that what you need to do is ask the Programming staff a simple yes no question. Do they block downloads based on file extention. If the answer is yes only a programming change can fix this for me. If no, there might be something else to do. I have already spent several hours trying to get the answer to that one simple question. I am not inclined to waste any more time until I get the answer.
Yes, the gpx file extension is apparently blocked for no apparent reason.
Amazon:You will be able to download all the attachments to your device.
However your Kindle device support any of the file formats which have apps in default to access the docs of AZW, AZW3, TXT, PDF, MOBI, PRC, DOC, DOCX, HTML5 and CSS3.
In this case an appstore Specialist is the best person to help you with this regarding the suitable app. Please wait while I transfer this chat.
A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You are now connected to SHAN HARRISON from
Me:I wish that were true but it is not my experience. I can download all the "supported" file extensions but none of the "unsupported" ones.
SHAN HARRISON:Welcome to Amazon .
I'm Shan Harrison, and I'll be glad to help you today.
Me:Hi Shan
Me:I am using the Fire email app and it is blocking downloads of "unsupported" file types. Why do I need to get another app? It is a problem with the programming of you email client.
You are now reconnected with SHAN HARRISON.
SHAN HARRISON:Hello, my name is Shan Harrison. I'm sorry your previous chat disconnected. I will try and pick up where you left off.
Ran out of internet time
SHAN HARRISON:I would have to transfer your chat to the appropriate department that can resolve your issue. It'll just take a minute. Please stay connected.
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You are now connected to Chinmay from
Chinmay:Hello, my name is Chinmay. I'll certainly try to help regarding your concern.
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