Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Makemo, Tuamotus

Makemo, Tuamotus
May 31 - June 4

On the advice of our buddy boat, Makemo was a must see although they had warned us that the anchorage in front of the village was awful. They were correct. We came through the pass of Makemo with no issues and two buddy boats following closely behind. It seems as though any time we get to a pass, it's "Hey Terrapin, why don't you go first?" We've started to refer to ourselves as the 'Sacrificial Lamb' when attempting to enter or exit a pass with a line of boats behind us. People usually have two things to say about the Tuamotus; it's absolutely stunning and getting through the passes requires perfect timing and can be tricky.

We've yet to "time" a pass perfectly and thus far haven't had any issues. Honestly, the whole idea of sailing through a pass at slack tide is starting to sounds like a myth. We have tide tables, none of them seem to be pinpoint accurate and so far we've just made our best guess as to when a pass is navigable. So far, so good.

We dropped anchor in front of the Makemo village next to the only other boat there, a French boat with a couple staring at us with the worlds largest set of binoculars. Not sure if she was trying to see up my nose or what, but at only 70 feet away the binoculars seemed a bit overkill. Excited to see a village bustling with almost 1000 people, we hopped in the dinghy and went to shore. We pulled up to the quay to see a few villagers plucking items off the supply ship that had just docked. To our surprise men were walking back into town with weed whackers? Where were the baguettes and beer? Weed whackers?

Most of French Polynesia closes from around noon till 2:00pm in the afternoon, their "siesta" break, yet there's always people mingling about. Today the village seemed vacant, not a soul around, we began to wonder if we had come on a holiday. A quick walk through town revealed large concrete paved roads, large enough for all 4 automobiles on the atoll. Almost everyone living on Makemo rides a bicycle - the beach cruisers type reminicent of those I rode up and down the boardwalk in San Diego. Local bikes have 3 wheels with large wire baskets mounted over the back two tires. Their baskets carry everything from barrels of gasoline, groceries, supplies, children to their beloved boom boxes blasting out tunes. Walking towards the lighthouse we unanimously stopped and took a huge whiff. "I smell fresh cut grass!" Within seconds we spotted the huge John Deer riding mower cutting along a field. Across the street from us, on the curb, was evidence that they indeed utilize weed whackers. Ever blade of grass trimmed to perfection. The entire island was pristine and every homeowner had a manicured front yard displaying pride of ownership. Just about every front yard had a small orange-yellowish flag blowing in the breeze. The flags had a sort of Polynesian design on them and appeared to resemble people sitting in an outrigger. We thought maybe there was an outrigger festival about to take place and that's where everyone had run off to. Later in the day we came across a long rectangular billboard with about four movie sized posters on it. Each poster had the faces of those who were running for some sort of official office. On the poster of what appeared to be the worlds happiest Polynesian couple was the emblem from the flags seen all over town. Dressed in colorful traditional clothing, the couple's bright smiling faces stared right back. The poster next to theirs was of a challenger, two French men. The one French man looked as though he had a flashlight shinning in his eyes, squinting, showing his teeth through a possible growl. The man behind him looked like he was desperately trying not to flatulate. Based on looks alone, the Frenchmen didn't​ have a snow ball's chance in Tonga at winning the election.

Back at the boat, it was time for a cold beer while watching new boats attempt to anchor in 25 knots of steady wind in what is quite possibly the worst anchorage spot in all of the Tuamotus. We had our first experience of a boat attempting to anchor on us. Not near us, not close to us, ON us. The entire time the catamaran was backing up on us, we sat in the cockpit both shaking our heads NO. The woman driving the boat ignored us, dropped anchor and then disappeared into the boat with her husband. We quickly exchanged a few words on the VHF, never changing from channel 16, expressing our concerns. The man acknowledged our concerns without ever committing to moving. Ten minutes later and we were hanging off the side of their catamaran in our dinghy, nicely asking that they move. I don't get people like this. I don't expect anyone to give a rats rip about my boat, but shouldn't people care about their own?

Paddling home after hanging out in their own lagoon 

Back in the cockpit, resuming our cold beer enjoyment, we sat back and watched the shit show. The man of the catamaran was not a happy camper, especially when he couldn't get his anchor up as it had gotten fouled on corral (he had never attached floats to his rode, hell, he never backed down to set his anchor). As he was stomping around, getting his scuba gear on, their boat was wildly sloshing around between us, another boat and the quay. As dickish as it sounds, it was nice to finally not be the boat on center stage for the shit show. Looking through the anchorage just about everyone was on deck as more boats attempted anchor. People yelling, boats dropping anchor and not catching, boats drifting all about. One of our friends was on the bow of his boat looking like a scene out of Titanic as another boat was drifting towards him ready to Tbone him. What a mess.

The next morning after not much sleep, we upped anchor and motored into a steady 27 knots to get to a more protected anchorage spot and away from any other boats. Within two hours we were tucked behind our private motu and back to a lake like setting. We spent the next few days enjoying being the only boat around and exploring our own fingerlets. The girls loved being able to take their kayak and hang out all day exploring their own private lagoons, finding their own oysters complete with pearls inside, combing through coral and snorkeling. Phil enjoyed spearfishing after confirming with locals that he didn't have to worry about ciguetera. He was only able to spear one fish that made for a decent sized taco, an extremely enjoyable taco.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rarioa, Tuamotus (Eye Candy inside)

Rarioa, Tuamtous
May 23-30

After three weeks in the Marquesas we were more than eager to get going. For us, Marquesas didn't quite make the cut. Fellow cruisers who had sailed the Sea of Cortez, understood our perspective. Cruisers who had never sailed the Sea of Cortez thought we were insane. How could you possibly cross an ocean only to be disappointed? It was best explained by, "It's like breaking up with someone after two years. There was no reason to split up, other than wanting to see what else is out there. The Sea of Cortez is a remarkable place, almost perfect in every way."

Given all the wonderful things we had heard and read describing the Tuamotus we were ready to set out on the 500 mile passage. The passage from Marquesas to Tuamotus was our best passage ever. With jib and jigger out and a steady 15 knots off the beam, we sailed our quickest 24 hour passage yet, sailing 160 miles in 24 hours.

Unlike sailing upon the Marquesas, there were no standing mountains rising out of the ocean, visable from 30 miles away. Rather, we took turns squinting through a pair of binoculars, "I think I see land. Maybe a palm tree or two." Sailing up to our first pass entrance was a bit confusing. There's nothing terribly obvious when looking through a pass and we relied heavily on our charts. Using our chart plotter and way points provided by the Soggy Paws Compendium, we sailed our way, zig zag, to the eastern side of the atoll and dropped anchor behind our very own motu. Paradise as we had imagined it!

Anchored directly behind our own palm tree covered island created a lake like sea state while still being able to enjoy the 15 knots of wind blowing over the boat. The girls would take turns asking us to "Turn on the AC", which meant opening the large hatch in the middle of the boat to allow the gusting wind to funnel through the entire boat. They got a kick out of standing in the middle of the boat with their hair wildly whipping around.

We spent the next few days kayaking over to our private island and exploring our newly found paradise for hours on end. On one side of the small motu was the inside of the atoll, a lagoon, the other side of the atoll (sometimes only a few hundred feet of separation) was open to the ocean outside, completely different sea states. The worlds largest hermit crabs live on this atoll.

After a few days of relishing in cool, gusting air, a lake like anchorage and watching hermit crab battles, we moved a few miles east and anchored near the pearl farm. The pearl farm is a Mon. through Fri. operation with about one dozen people (who all live on premise) working 7 hours a day. The pearl farm was well worth the visit and taught us exactly what the process is to create a cultured pearl. Using what appears to be dental tools, Chinese grafters carefully insert a marble of varrying size into an oyster. Yup...a marble. Once the marble is carefully placed, the oyster is then attached along with a dozen others to plastic mesh and later attached to a bouy that dangles in the open ocean. After about one year, once the oyster has had a chance to cover the marble with pearl, the grafter will extract the cultured pearl and place another marble into the oyster, and the process starts all over. The entire process requires more than just the grafters, other people pick up the oyster bouys at sea, some men crack open fresh oysters that hadn't already been used in the process, etc.

During the tour we attempted to buy some of the real (yet very small) pearls that the grafters had pulled out of the oysters while extracting the cultured pearls. The owner, Gigi wasn't willing to sell or trade with us. Everything, real and cultured pearls, were all to be sold in Tahiti. Period. While the entire process was intriguing to watch, we walked away in agreeance that we wouldn't be willing to spend more than $10USD for a cultured pearl or as we call them, "fancy marbles".

We were intrigued by who lives on an atoll in the middle of the Pacifc ocean, so we motored across Rarioa to its village. The small village had everything one could need; school, air strip, 2 grocery (this term is used lightly, very lightly) stores, church, cemetery, soccer field, post office, and cute houses scattered about, all for 250 inhabitants. Walking through town we met several extremely nice villagers, many whom spoke English. One lady whistled us over to her house and asked if we would be interested in buying pearls. She laid out on a towel covered table about two dozen cultured pearls. After a quick look, Jessica said she was interested but wasn't sure if she wanted to buy them there or in Tahiti. Once the children came out and grabbed hold of their mothers leg who was selling the pearls, it became clear to Jess. She bought a $10 cultured pearl and was happy to support a local villager rather than a shop owner in Tahiti. Emma was holding out for the real pearls. We stayed in the village to provision, hang out with the villagers and watched the local children play their daily soccer game at 4pm.

After a week visiting our first atoll, it was time to move on...the French have only given us 90 days to enjoy all of French Polynesia. Just before getting ready to set sail, Emma asked is she could go back to the village in search of real pearls. Phil and Emma went back into the village, negotiated a fair price and came home with huge smiles. Emma was happy with her purchase of 4 real pearls for $20. While making her purchase in the village, a man with about 2 dozen real pearls asked to trade his pearls for a headlamp. Not needing any more pearls and not sure if we had anything to trade, Phil said he'd check on the boat for a headlamp.

As we were getting the boat ready to set sail, the man from the village appeared next to the boat having swam out to us, all but begging for a headlamp with the promise of real pearls. Regardless of not wanting more pearls, we were making a trade! We gave him a headlamp that hadn't been used since we first sailed off and the girls received a handful of new pearls. With new pearls in hand and our anchor up, we were off to the next atoll, Makemo.

It's nice to be falling in love again with a spectacular area that offers endless beauty, crystal clear water, amazing sea life, an best of all, smiling faces of friendly locals.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

When the novelty of paradise begins to tarnish. Nuku Hiva

May 4th -12, Anaho Bay, Nuku Hiva

Two and a half weeks ago, after 24 days at sea we could have anchored on an overgrown anthill and been happy. After a week in Taiohae we opted to seek refuge from the relentless rain and dirty bay by sailing to the northern side of the island and dropping anchor in Anaho Bay. 

Anaho Bay was the ideal place to drop the hook for a week with buddy boats and begin to relish in the motivation behind crossing an ocean. In the Marquesas however, paradise has a price. Am I about to complain? Maybe. After 24 days at sea, sailing 2800 I feel I deserve to gripe. Or as I see it, tell the truth.

Upon arriving in Anaho we met a man from the "village", Leopauld. We asked him if we could use the newly built community shelter on the beach to grill SV Beach Flea's tuna and have a bonfire. He was more than happy to host our party, enjoy a plate full of fresh fish and tell us about the area. Like most locals who have mastered speaking English, he had worked at a relative's Inn in Tahiti. One perk to Anaho Bay is the fresh spring water that pours out of spickets available to use. With a small break from the constant downpours, we still had fresh showers, water for dishes and laundry available. 

Gorgeous? Yes! Infested with biting insects? Double yes! Within 24 hours most of us were covered in bites and welts. You would have thought an outbreak of measles had hit our group. Conversations began to revolve around who had the biggest welt or who had scratched themselves to the point of a blood draw.  Deet is almost no match for these soul sucking parasites. 

The water in the bay was murky most days making snorkeling a worthless activity. Most of us snorkeled as a way to avoid the blood sucking bugs not caring that we weren't going to see much underwater. The day after the full moon, the bay was littered with whatever giant manta rays like to eat. Spotting a school in excess of 30 rays, the entire fleet was swimming amung them. Some rays had wingspans of well over 8 feet, all basking as the glided past us. 

If you find yourself in Anaho Bay do the hike that leads to what appears to be a cell phone tower (it's not). The views from the saddle will almost make you forget of the bug infested, mud up to your ankles, sweat out of every pore producing hike. 

Anaho Bay

Our banana score during the hike 

From Anaho Bay you can continue the same mud/bug hike that takes you to the saddle and continue down the hill to the other side taking you into Hatiheu Bay, which hosts a sizeable village and more importantly, an archological site. While the entire fleet made the hike up and over the saddle, Phil, Emma and I sailed Terrapin over to the next Bay, a quick 45 minute "sail". There was positively, absolutely, no fricking way I was going to give anymore blood to insects while sloshing through mud. I pulled the princess card, and although a few other cruisers throught I was silly, they were also quick to get a ride back aboard Terrapin rather than hiking back! 

SV Terrapin with a turtle tiki
Something I applaud Phil and myself for, is the ability to convince people they need to dress up for a redneck, white trash, hillbilly party. Our first "almost annual white trash" party began back in 2000. One of our many beach parties in Anaho Bay was "Hillbilly Happy Hour". Being totally honest, Phil and I were really just looking for a platform for Daryl off SV Cape D to display his oversized elk belt buckle and oilskin hat. I mean, who the hell sails sporting a giant elk belt buckle? That dude! The picture doesn't properly display everyone's attire, but everyone wore something fun. That night was about when I began to wonder if Leopauld was regretting letting us borrow his property for our parties.

Despite murky, muddy water, an insane amount of bugs, welts the size of golf balls, we had a great time. Sometimes paradise isn't defined by nature's beauty but by the memories you're creating with other cruisers. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Daniels Bay, Nuku Hiva. aka Paradise

The word on the street is that one has to visit Daniels Bay a short hour away from Taihae. Sailing into the bay it was as if we were entering a movie scene. Our eyes met  emerald green cliffs with waterfalls spilling off all sides. Stunning beauty. 

While my pictures are pretty, they don't do ant justice. It's been raining since we got here and without proper daylight, my pictures aren't up to my liking.  Yes, I'm aware we're in the tropics and it's supposed to rain. Even the locals are over the rain. And to be fair it isn't just rain,  life has been beginning​ to feel as if we're trying to live at the bottom of a waterfall. Sheets of rain. Mud and rock slides.  There's been so much rain the locals are having a hard time growing produce, the veggie market is sparse and if you want anything you better get there by 3:45am. Yes, 3:45 am. 

Seems like every country has their own "time". Mexico has "manana," which doesn't really mean tomorrow. Here exists "island time" and as expected not everyone returns on time after their afternoon​ break. Not exactly sure how island time translates into veggie market starting at 3:30am, but whatever.  So, no, we don't have a  plethora of fresh veggies as we showed up at 5:30 to the veggie market and could only score a couple bananas.  

Speaking of island time, we're adjusting to 12 hours of daylight 5:30am - 5:30pm. Attempting to schedule school has been tough. We now start school at 7:30am instead of 9:00am so that we have enough daylight to enjoy. 

We had heard there were crabs on the beach, lots and lots of crabs. After about an hour we had ourselves 44 claws. Beyond delicious. 


Daniel's Bay is famous by the spectacular valley that leads up to a waterfall, that's one of the reasons why we went. Just last month the owner of the land started to charge $10 USD per person to walk through the valley. Deal killer! We opted to not pay $40 for the family to hike to a waterfall. Being surrounded by endless islands all covered in waterfalls offering free hikes we plan to use our saved money on a nice dinner for Emma's birthday.  

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pacific Crossing Pictures.

So long as I've got somewhat reliable WiFi I'll keep posting pictures. I'm slowly working on a video of our crossing.

Funny​...Never saw this outfit in Vineyard Vines. 

Jessica plotted our progress on our chart everyday 

We had two visits from helicopters

Our one and only catch

King Neptune and his daughters

Crossing the equator

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nuku Hiva happenings.

The people of Marquesas are as beautiful as the setting. Everyone has been so friendly especially when we've been trying to speak Spanish to them. This whole French thing is tough! There's not much here in our village (Taiohae) yet just enough for what we need. Our first meal was cheeseburgers, fries, Coke, ice cream and beer. Totally expensive and totally worth it. We'll be here for a few days till we venture sail around the island.

You didn't think he'd come to where tattoos started and not get one?

French baguettes are cheap and plentiful

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 24: Landfall in Nuka Hiva

After 24 days and 2866 we made landfall just after sunrise in Nuka Hiva. Everyone and everything made it in perfect condition inlcuding our 2 twelve foot kayaks strapped to each side of the bow.

24 days;
-Not wearing shoes
-Staring at nothing but water
-Enduring a sense of anxiety and/or stress knowing my little family and just about everything I own under the sun was at stake.
-Having wild food fantasies. Burgers from In n Out. Pizza from Track Town in Eugene. Anything from Souplantation. The list went on for days.
-Of being hungry but not able to eat much at all
-Being thankful for another day
-And not ONE bird landed on our boat. I credit Phil's work shirt that hung off the back of the boat which smells like a dead body.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 22: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

We are in the home stretch. Less than 48 hours to go! Which is great since both our girls have hit rock bottom. They're miserable. Over it. Ready to see land and stop sailing.

We originally set out to make landfall in Hiva Oa and have changed our minds and course to make landfall in Nuka Hiva. A few boats have reported that Hiva Oa has nothing to offer and that Nuka Hiva has more "amenities". By amenities we're referencing the 2 restaurants, a few "grocery" stores, and snack shack that awaits our arrival. We get a giggle out of the people who are asking us if we're ready for a marina and hot shower. Marina? No for a few more months. Thankfully we have hot showers on the boat.

Because we did not secure a long term stay visa, we have only 90 days to get through Marquesas Islands, Tuamotus Islands, and Society Islands. We're thinking at the end of our 90 days our last stop will be Bora Bora where we will check out, that's a lot of sea to cover in only 90 days. After checking out, it's off to Cook Islands, Niue, maybe Samoa, Tonga and Fiji. We really don't know where we're going....just head West.

The grocery stores in the Marquesas and Tuamotus are equipped with food that's been delivered by the supply ships consisting of mostly canned food and frozen meat. At the snack shack you can purchase a $2 can of coke, $7 drumstick ice cream and spend $5.50 for a can of beer (all costs in US $). Our first day on land we plan to live like kings. Regardless of cost we're going to be gluttonous having a coke AND ice cream. Heck we may even wash it all down with a beer. It's going to be amazing. There is a laundry facility. Our friends aboard Beach Flea took in 3 large contractor bags of bedding and clothes to be washed, and for $100 USD it came back clean!

Compared to Mexico things are going to cost a bit more which means we'll need to stick to our budget. Best way to stick to the budget is to write down every cent we spend, so I'll be back to posting my "Cost to Cruise" blog posts once a month. You all will get to witness first hand the depletion of our cruising kitty. Expecting that provisioning was going to be slim pickings and cost quite a bit for the next few months we packed the boat with about 3-4 months worth of food.

Off the boats that left La Cruz, all but Coastal Drifter, Tiger Beetle, Spill the Wine, Monark, Finally Finished, Danika, Mystic Ceti and Shakedown have made landfall (I'm sure there's more boats, but I'm referencing the ones who check in on the net). We should be next!

Next post should be from land!

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/25/2017 2:17 AM (utc) our position was 06°05.32'S 135°25.34'W

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pacific Crossing: Day 20

It's day 20 and we are about 4 days out from land. Most of the crew is getting anxious and dreaming about pizza, beer, ice cream and the feeling of solid land under our feet. The past few days have been fairly uneventful. We burned a lot of diesel, but also have been making great time. The seas have been mellow and we are now finally getting into some decent wind. A couple of days ago, we had our second visit from a helicopter. It was the same type of chopper as before, but different pilots. They swooped in to check on us and flew away after we gave them a thumbs up. They had a Mexican flag emblem on the tail, so we assume they are spotters for Mexican tuna boats. That same day it was calm enough for us to all stop the boat and jump in the big blue to cool off.
The next couple of days we spent playing "dodge-squall" as they were popping up all around us. We saw a few today, but nothing came in close.
We did see every sailor's worst nightmare: a partially submerged shipping container. Aimee spotted it about 50 yards away off to port. These things are really scary because they sit about 3 inches below the surface and there is no way you would see one until after you hit it. If you saw that god-awful movie with Robert Redford, you know what I'm talking about. After Aimee saw the shipping container, she also noticed that it was surrounded by a pod of sperm whales! Not kidding. Later in the day, we saw a second pod and several of them were breaching clear out of the water. I didn't know sperm whales did that. It was very cool the see them up close.
In other news, two of our boat-friends made landfall at Hiva Oa today: s/v Slow Flight, and s/v All Day. S/v Wiz is also expecting to be coming into Nuka Hiva tomorrow morning.

So all is well aboard s/v Terrapin, just some salty, sore sailors ready for some solid ground!

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/24/2017 2:10 AM (utc) our position was 04°42.39'S 133°26.24'W

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 17: Crossing the equator

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

Yesterday's exciting news was washing underwear in a 5 gallon bucket using a plunger. Nothing but glamorous out here on the high seas.

We had originally been sailing to cross the equator at about 4am this morning and thought it would be better to head west just a bit so that we would cross the equator in some day light. At 8:37am (according to the ships clock) and just as the sun was coming up we crossed the equator and became shellbacks! We each made an offering to King Neptune. Jessica threw over an infinity charm that she attached a small fishing weight to so that it would sink. Lora threw over some spare change she had with her, less than 50 cents US. Phil threw over 22 pesos. Emma and I being the cheapskates we are each only threw over 1 "lucky" peso.

Next we popped a bottle of champagne, poured two cups worth for each of the girls to sip out of and then passed the bottle between Phil, Lora and myself. It actually tasted really good! Next came the party streamers and bubbles provided by our friends of SV Scuba Ninja and SV Stray Catz. Both Jessica and Emma threw over a message in a bottle. Wonder where they'll end up?

After Emma, the scribe, was done filing out our certificates, Phil "disappeared" into the boat to see if he could summons King Neptune. Sure enough within a minute King Neptune himself appeared up the gangway and into the cockpit. He greeted us with his long white beard, crown and sturdy triton. King Neptune greeted us and told us he had certificates to commemorate our crossing of the equator. As King Neptune began to read the certificates for each of us he also began choking on the cotton balls his beard had been made out of. Apparently a cotton ball or two got loose and went straight for the wind pipe. Resembling a cat coughing up a hair ball, he managed to read the certificates and hand them out. I meanwhile was attempting to film while laughing so hard I was crying! As each of us was presented with our certificates Jessica placed our necklaces she had made us around our necks.

The girls had decided for the ceremony that they had wanted to wear Mardi Gras masks just for fun. King Neptune was nice enough to stick around so that the girls could get their picture with him. Super cute.

We have about 832 more miles to go and would appreciate everyone sending WIND. We're flying the spinnaker during the day and motoring at night when there is zero wind.

Spirits are high, but I got to say, this crew is so ready to get there!

SV Beach Flea and Me Too both dropped anchor today in Nuka Huva. Can't wait to join them.

THANK YOU so much for all the amazing messages people are sending us. You can't imagine how awesome it is to ready something nice from someone across the country just wanting to wish us well. Again, thank you!

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/20/2017 2:27 AM (utc) our position was 00°26.99'N 127°25.85'W

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 15: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

My, my the doldrums are a welcomed treat. The first full day we actually had enough wind to throw up all of our canvas and sail. The seas were so smooth and with all the sails up it was like gliding over a melting pad of butter. With the boat smooth we all took good naps, I was able to cook a meal and the girls hung out all day in the cockpit.

The girls are getting us ready for the equator crossing. Yesterday Jessica made the cutest crown for King Neptune. Emma made King Neptune's beard out of construction paper and cotton cute. Jess create beaded necklaces for each of us to commemorate our crossing. Emma got out a calligraphy book that Journey from SV Namaste gave her, studied it, then made each of us beautiful certificates that the Captain will be presenting us at the time of crossing. Today the girls will be creating King Neptune's triton.

We're not entirely sure when we'll be crossing the equator as we've started a rhumb line for Nuka Hiva..last we heard shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Originally we said we would cross around 125 degree longitude.

We had begged Jessica to cut her hair before we left and having just dyed the ends of her hair pink she didn't want to. Fast forward two weeks on a sailboat with hair blowing everywhere and she was all but begging her father to cut it off. Using our sharpest scissors, Phil cut off about 4 inches. It doesn't even look bad.

We haven't caught anymore fish, just the one.

We did however have a helicopter come visit about an hour ago. We could hear the helicopter well before we could see it. It flew close to us, circled us and then started to make a water landing. Paranoid that someone had accidentally hit a SOS button we all waved and gave the thumbs up. The pilot returned our thumbs up, waved good bye and started to ascend before taking off. We got it all on video too.

How's this for awesome? My high school friend Dina McClellan who's a 4th grade teacher in OK has her students watching our progress on the blog. Dina sent us a message last week with some of her student's questions. They wanted to know if we had swam in the open ocean, what type of animal sightings and what's our favorite part of the adventure. I responded to let her know we have swam in the open ocean so far on this passage and that we've seen blue, brown, yellow and red footed boobies. She took back the information and her class is now studying the different colored boobies. Her students have also learned what and where the doldrums are. We think it's so awesome that kids are using our blog to study from ! With regards to her students wanting to know our favorite part...I said it will be when we see land.

Two nights ago on my 2-6am shift, I came out to the cockpit where water was like glass the stars and moon were out and we were motoring as the phosphorescence were drifting by. I couldn't help but get nostalgic reminiscing about motoring in the Sea of Cortez. Made me a little sad. I told everyone the next morning about how it felt like we were in the Sea of Cortez and everyone got a little teary eyed. We hate to think about how we're not sailing the Sea of Cortez again. rule on the boat. No one is allowed to get sad about missing Mexico or the Sea of Cortez till we're sitting among tropical islands in the middle of the Pacific. Here's to hoping lush tropical South Pacific islands will make us feel better for missing one of our all time favorite places. To all our friends in the Sea...enjoy for us too.

Time to chill some champagne for our equator crossing.

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/18/2017 2:36 PM (utc) our position was 02°16.00'N 125°26.63'W

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Day 13: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

Seas have finally mellowed out some as we make our way to the doldrums. We are beyond excited to hit the doldrums! Can't wait to stand up without being thrown down, maybe cook some food, take a dip in the ocean, start to feel human again and then fire up the engine with the 175 gallons of diesel we saved and motor this bitch to land.

We haven't been able to get a good copy of the Pacific Puddle Jump net so I don't have boats to report.

SV Monarch has left La Cruz for a second time and is headed across the Pacific

SV Me Too, Beach Flea, WIZ and All Day all crossed the equator in the last 2 days.

People have been asking what the girls have been to..not much.

Emma has been trying to read (she gets motion sick) and has been watching movies as well as the TV show I Dream Of Genie on her Kindle.

Jess has been reading a book or two and has been watching TV shows like Modern Family on her Kindle.

Each day we have the girls come out to the cockpit for what's turning out to be a daily event of food fantasies. We dream about our favorite restaurants and try not to drool on each other. Funny we can fantasize about food but we sure aren't eating much. I've thrown over rotten produce we didn't get to eat. I also threw over 60 eggs..there were 2 packages of 30 eggs. Each package had a cracked egg one package had larva in it. Holy Shit. The Smell. I can't even go there.

Not sure which daughter I'm more proud of. Emma who LOVES her bunk has given it to me so that I can sleep. It's the only place I won't get thrown out of bed. I've put her on the settee and she hasn't complained once! Jessica is helping where she can with meals and cleaning dishes taking special care of her little sister. Between myself, Jessica and Phil we're attempting to feed everyone onboard. For the first few days it was just me attempting to feed 5 people.

Second hand news from SV Coastal Drifter: SV Shakedown has lost a kayak and chain plate. They're also out a water pump (not sure if that's for drinking or engine).

We're doing better and hope to be doing great as soon as we hit the doldrums. We're hoping for landfall in Nuka Hiva (not Hiva Oa as previously thought) either 4/25 or 4/26

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/15/2017 3:06 PM (utc) our position was 06°38.50'N 122°15.16'W

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Day 10: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

Our crew member Lora told us that around days 7 and 8 we'll hit a low (mentally) and need to hit a reset button. For she was right. We knew that the hardest part of this passage was going to be mental. Boats (most anyway) are made to withstand worse conditions than they're put through, it's the human part that can take a beating. Lora, Phil and I are doing well but we had a 48 hour period where we experienced small bouts of dehydration and fatigue. We're doing well holding each other accountable for drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep.

Winds have been plentiful and we've been sailing a broad reach this entire time. The sea state sucks and is responsible for 5 days of feeling like someone's trying to through you across the boat at every moment.

Tuesday night at midnight we passed another sailboat. No idea who they were as they didn't respond on the VHF.

SV Beach Flea is still having visits from helicopters. At this point they think it's fun even if the helicopter comes to visit during deck showers and people are waving from the helicopter! Beach Flea could turn off their AIS sender and the helicopters would go away but then they'd lose their entertainment.

SV CAPE D has made landfall. After 4440 miles and 32 days they made it from Panama to Hiva Oa. We can't wait to meet up with them for drinks and burgers.

Vessels that checked in on last nights Puddle Jump net are as follows:

SV Coastal Drifter
SV Danika
SV Slow Flight
SV Me Too
SV Ashika
SV Mayaluga
SV Music
SV Spill the Wine
SV Sky Blue Eyes
SV Fandango
SV Shakedown
SV Abthea
SV Finally Finished

THANK YOU to everyone who's sent us a message. We've responded to each of you...if you didn't get our response look in your Junk/Spam folder.

Tomorrow should mark half way there...we're looking at 120* to cross the equator, maybe in the next 4-5 days. We're getting there, slowly but surely.

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/13/2017 2:50 PM (utc) our position was 09°38.18'N 119°19.14'W

Monday, April 10, 2017

Day 7: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

A HUGE thank you to those who have sent us messages. It's awesome to read words of encouragement, well wishes and jokes from people whom we've never met before. It makes our whole day to read what you're writing, again, thank you!

We have finally found some wind that has kept us steadily sailing for the past 48 hours. It's about time we make up speed from the 2 days of bobbing around. We're not quite into the trade winds but have a steady 10+ knots of wind. We've been mainly on a broad reach with a jib and jigger configuration.

The following vessels checked in on the Pacific Puddle Jump Net either 4/8, 4/9 or both nights:

Sv My Dream
SV Coastal Drifter
SV Danika
SV Slow Flight
SV Sky Blue Eyes
SV Spill the Wine
SV Music
SV Fandango
SV Shindig
SV Mayaluga
SV Finally Finished
SV Me Too
SV Cynthia (sp?)
SV Pangea
SV All Day
SV Beach Flea
SV Southern Cross
SV Blessing
SV Nomad
SV Mystic Ceti
SV Ashika

It's great to hear what the other vessels in front of us are experiencing. Biggest gripe by the majority of boats is sloppy seas and cloud cover. In years past the biggest gripe has been no wind.

SV Slow Flight has reported that their spare alternator works like a charm and they're doing great, minus the boobie who crapped all over Kimi's Kindle....can't win them all.

SV Beach Flea is doing better. They were able to "trick" their autopilot into working in sloppy seas and haven't been hand steering as much. They are still without an alternator but report that they have enough gas for their generator that they're really not worried about it. They are thinking that the helicopter which hovered over them a few days ago was associated with a mass tuna fishing fleet. The same day there was a helicopter hovering over their boat they had to navigate safe passage around a parked tuna trawler.

Speaking of navigating safe passage around other boats, Terrapin must be a magnet for ginormous boats in the shipping lane. Just about every day we've spotted huge vessels that we have to change our course for.

To keep the girls sane, I've started an arts and crafts club from 2-6pm during one of my shifts. Two days ago we created paper airplanes and flew them off the boat followed by paper orgami. Yesterday I hauled out a stack of magazines and they each created collages from cut up pictures they liked. Boat school out on the open sloppy seas is a bust, however we were able to squeak in a day of Algebra.

We've been a full week at sea and I'm happy to report that for most of us it went by fast. Only a few more weeks to go ??

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/10/2017 2:53 PM (utc) our position was 14°25.44'N 115°25.95'W

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Day Cinco: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

All day Thursday was a slow ride..real slow. After watching the spinnaker flop around while bobbing aimlessly we decided for the engine. After working up a lather putting the spinnaker to bed, the water was looking too tempting not to jump in. Phil, Jessica and myself jumped in. Not sure why I was so surprised to see absolutely clear water and could see all the way under boat. Feeling refreshed we got back on the boat, started the engine and ran her till about 2:45am.

We now are on a beam reach in about 12 knots keeping Ole Terrapin cruising along at about 6.

We got a text from another boat who pulled a boobie through one of their hatches after it landed on their boat, wrote their boat name on the chest of the bird and then set the boobie free. Not to fear animal lovers, the boobie retaliated by puking all over the inside of their boat before being set free. So ya, there's a boobie flying around the Pacific wearing the name of a boat.

Last night's Pacific Puddle Jump net was really hard to hear therefore I'm not going to relay names that may or may not have been on the net, we can report that Black Watch made landfall in Fatu Hiva.

We can also report that the alternator and spare alternator have quit working on SV Beach Flea. They're checking wires and voltage regulator and had to resort to hand steering for the past 4 days. They also reported that a helicopter circled them at 20 feet..they're not sure who or why. SV Beach Flea is trying to get in touch with Steve off Landfall for anyone in La Cruz that can relay the message.

SV Slow Flight has also had their alternator crap out on them in addition to their hydrogenerator.

That's all for now...cruising along waiting to hop into the trade winds.

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/8/2017 4:07 PM (utc) our position was 15°44.04'N 112°04.81'W

Friday, April 7, 2017

Day 4: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All onboard are doing well.

We had a slow day (Thursday) with winds hovering around 5 knots. We had the spinnaker flying which gave us a little speed and we were comfortably sailing at half the speed of smell. No complaints though, with smooth sailing we were able to take deck showers, cook and the girls enjoyed playing in the cockpit. This morning (Friday) the winds seem to return a bit and with the spinnaker still up, we're making better time.

At 4am Thursday a flying fish found it's way through Lora's hatch and started dancing on her face. A few screams and most of us were in her cabin trying to figure what had happened. It's amazing how wretched one small little fish can smell.

At about midnight last night during Lora's watch she enjoyed a 45 minute dolphin show complete with dolphins flipping and spinning out of the water. She said she felt like she was up front and center at Sea World...only better, these animals are wild and free.

The following boats checked in on the Pacific Puddle Jump Net Thursday 4/6/17;

SV Danika
SV Music
SV Coastal Drifter
SV Shakedown
SV Slow Flight
SV Me Tao
SV Wiz
SV Beach Flea
SV All Day
SV Shindig
SV Mayaluga
SV Blessing
SV Spill The Wine
SV Fandano
SV Pangea
SV My Dream
SV Ashita
SV Finally Finished
SV Mystic Ceti (sp?)
SV Nomad

SV Monark has safely returned to La Cruz to figure out their SSB.

We left Monday and it's Friday and for those of us with rotating shifts the time seems to keep clipping by....for the girls, not so much. They're a little bored and we're doing the best we can to help them spend their time.

THANK YOU SV Scuba Ninja and Stray Catz for the equator crossing gift, we can't wait to use it.

Fun Terrapin Fact: All 180 eggs onboard are still doing great.

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/7/2017 4:08 PM (utc) our position was 16°25.88'N 110°35.35'W

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

First 48 Hours: Pacific Ocean Crossing

All is well aboard SV Terrapin

We motored for the first 2 hours in an effort to get out of Banderas Bay. Since then we've enjoyed a steady beam reach with winds between 8-17 knots and we've kept a steady 5-6 knot pace.

We were a little surprised at the amount of traffic coming and going from Mexico. We knew we were going to be crossing the Manzanillo shipping lanes, just didn't expect to feel like we were playing Frogger with fuel tankers, auto transporters, cargo container vessels among others. We haven't seen another vessel since 10pm last night.

So far it's been chilly and we've been sailing in warm fleece.

Vessels we have heard calling in on the nightly Pacific Puddle Jump net and reported as making progress and doing well are as follows:

SV Wiz
SV Coastal Drifter
SV Music
SV Fandango
SV Myaluga
SV Te Poe Rava
SV Slow Flight
SV All Day
SV Black Watch

SV Monarch had to turn around and head back to La Cruz due to a broken SSB radio.

Our favorite item on board thus far is the Delorme Inreach. With our unlimited texting we've been able to stay in constant contact with our weather router, read that North Carolina won the NCAA Basketball tournament by only 1 point and the girls can communicate with Julian off SV Cape D who left 3/11 from Panama and is within 700 miles of Hiva Oa. Our only issue has been making contact with those who have the Iridium. Although we have their email address we've yet to be able to make contact with Coastal Drifter, Wiz, Monarch and Slow Flight. Not sure if there's something we're missing, or what.

The girls are doing well. Emma's seasickness hasn't been much of a problem. Jessica is still her anxious self and pops her head into the cockpit throughout my shift to ensure I'm clipped in and safe.

Having a 3rd adult as crew has been like night and day. Having 8 hours off in between shifts versus 4 makes all the difference in the world.

We still have about 2500 nautical miles to Hiva Oa.

-- Sent via SSB Radio

At 4/5/2017 4:23 PM (utc) our position was 18°01.36'N 108°09.07'W

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pacific Ocean Crossing Preparation

The Terrapin crew is less than `10 days away from setting sail across the Pacific towards French Polynesia. For the past two years we've extended our arms to give hugs to friends who've left us dockside as they've sailed west.  Finally, it's our turn. Just as important as it is to have your boat in what one conceives as "ready" condition for such as a passage, it is important that all crew is mentally ready.

For us getting ready meant spending more money on the boat in the past two months than the past two years; 500 watts of new solar, new  stainless steel davits and solar array, new handheld satellite tracking device, back up auto pilot, MPPT charge controller, back up chart plotters, international health insurance, bottom paint,  etc. etc. etc. 

We brought with us from the States most of what we needed in order to get Terrapin ocean ready. The tricky part was tracking down a welder who could actually deliver on what was being promised. After 4 weeks, several threats, demanding our money back and a different welder, we were able to get all of our welding accomplished. 

If you are considering crossing the Pacific Ocean towards French Polynesia here are some of our suggestions.

Join the Pacific Puddle Jump (a phrase coined by the editors of Latitude 38 magazine editors) sponsored by Latitude 38 magazine. Due to the presence of this magazine primarily on the west coast of the US, roughly only 30% of all boats making the passage are signed up to do the "Pacific Puddle Jump". Each year approximately 300+ boats leave from the west coast of the States, Mexico, Central America and Galapagos.  Signing up for this free event will provide a tremendous amount of information, support, resources and the ability to join others in receiving a bond exemption upon entering French Polynesia. 

Find a "Puddle Jump" friendly area to prepare. We chose Banderas Bay, Mexico as our stagging area to get ready and will have spent 7 weeks in La Cruz preparing. Other "Puddle Jump" friendly areas include the Panama City on the Pacific side of Panama as well as Shelter Bay Marina located at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama  Canal. 

Many of the boat anchored in La Cruz will be crossing the Pacific 

Banderas Bay offers a variety of ongoing seminars all designed for those who are planning to sail across the Pacific. We had started attending the seminars a year before our planned departure as a way to better prepare our boat and our minds. Some of the seminar topics (mostly held in La Cruz) include:
Weather and Navigation
Fiberglass Repair Workshop
When big things break
Losing a rudder

Fiberglass repair workshop

In addition to stocking up on food needed for the 3 week passage, load up on food you care not to spend an arm and a leg for once you've made landfall. Food in French Polynesia is expensive....especially after living in Mexico! Our loot includes 70+ cans of chicken, 50+ can of chili, 10+ pounds of masa to make tortillas,  more than 3000 liquid ounces of beer, 100+ packets of oatmeal and enough granola bars to orbit the Earth. $900 USD food + adult libations.

In La Cruz, charts are provided by Cruiser's Comfort (near the marina) to be borrowed and copied at Office Depot in Puerto Vallarta. $18 USD to make copies.

Solar panels in Bucerias were a score! Less than a $1 USD a watt. 
Pondering how to get the new solar on the new davits.

The most exciting part of preparing to cross and ocean besides watching your money evaporate is playing Tetris with all the food purchased. Thankfully the family before us complete refit the settee area to store enough food for approximately 4/5 months. When exactly is a good time to stop purchasing food? We figured when the girls started complaining they could no longer find their clothes through the bags of beans and canned food stored in their closets maybe we should pump the breaks. 

And the most important piece of preparation for us.....finding crew! Adding another adult into the mix was essential for our family. Allowing each adult a full 8 hours off in between manageable 4 hour shifts and an extra adult in the event something were to happen to either myself or the Captain was a non-negotiable.  The Terrapin tribe is looking at a April 1st or thereabouts as a set sail date.