Laura's Blog

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17-07-2011

Guppy and I have come through unscathed from the reefs, and around midnight we dropped anchor off the city of Suva, Fiji - then I enjoyed a good night sleep, all in one stretch. As far as I can tell Suva is a big city, cloudy for now, and with lots of large cargo ships traffic … Very soon I'll have to inflate my dinghy and start with the obligatory customs clearance procedures. It would seem that this is not so easily done here in Fiji, so I guess it will keep me busy for quite a few hours ...

Laura

 


16-07-2011

Yesterday Guppy and I sailed between the first islands, atolls and reefs. I was really surprised to see a mountain rising out of the water where I was expecting an atoll in its place... Obviously I had not carefully studied the obstacles on my map... But it really does not matter whether it was a mountain or an atoll ... neither will give way! I still have to go by an island, a reef and several fishing boats before I can head directly to Fiji. We sailed past the 180° longitude line so 'Gup' and I are now in the eastern hemisphere. Unfortunately the wind weakened again and Guppy is only going at 4,5 knots so I will most probably arrive in the dark. But that is not so bad because there will be a full moon shining and according to the map the approach should not be too difficult. So I am going to take a chance…

Laura

 


15-07-2011

After calm winds for the past several hours there is now a good sidewind blowing so 'Gup' and I are heading for the atolls at 6,5 knots... And it looks like it will be another very hot day. But I'm having a wonderful time here opening and eating down my stockpile of coconuts and reading – did I mention the banana regime slimming down too? hihi. Nice to be busy with that, the SSB is not working anymore.. But! Icom America came up with some super good news for me - they are sponsoring me with a brand new SSB radio! I am really super happy about this because it means that for the coming legs of my journey I won't have to try and guess where my fellow sailor friends are.

Laura

 


14-07-2011

Guppy and I are en Route again. At first the wind seemed to cooperate but later in the day it weakened and now it is blowing straight from behind... So Guppy is rolling and swaying quite a bit which doesn't make my life aboard any easier. Yesterday Henk's Midget yacht was out of sight just after a few hours of sailing and he is now out of my VHF-radio range. This means I can't be in contact with other sailors - so all is quiet onboard and I went back to reading my book... There are only 340 nautical miles left to go to the Fiji Islands [630 kilometres or 391 land miles], with many atolls and islands on the way. This means tomorow I have to keep a close watch and have just a little time for sleep …

Laura

 


13-07-2011

 

 Pictures:

http://solozeilster.hyves.nl/fotos/?ga_campaign=photoAlbumEntry_HUBPhotoBox_Header


13-07-2011

Today I am setting sail heading for the Fiji Islands. Yesterday I made all the last preparations. There was a mega-pile of laundry waiting for me... but more importantly I had to fix everything aboard so Guppy would be perfectly seaworthy again. Unfortunately I could not get the port clearing papers from the customs' officer yesterday so I had to go back there this morning. But then yes, it gave me another opportunity for a nice breakfast at the terrace overlooking the bay - and soon after to sail out. The 'Sogno d' Oro' (the Midget 26') will also leave for Fiji today but she will be sailing much slower than Guppy... Since my SSB radio isn't working I won't be staying in touch with Henk or with any other yacht more than 25 nautical miles from me or so [46 kilometres or 29 land miles] because it is about the range of a VHF radio... But this does have advantages: it will make it easier for me to fall back into my sea rhythm and sooner enjoy the quiet peace of the vastness surrounding me…

Laura

 


12-07-2011

There was no wind at all last night and mosquitoes came en masse to visit. So at 3 AM I was awake and I just couldn't fall asleep again... In the morning I could hear a lot of grumbling coming from the other boats nearby, so it seems that I was not the only one who didn't sleep too good. The shops are back to their regular opening hours and so I got down to work early today. I went for a visit at the health office to complete the customs clearance procedure and then I had to send a form to the Fiji Islands. As I stood there waiting, I realized that I had forgotten the ship's papers so I had to go back to Guppy. Back at the health office I learned that I had to pay 100 Tonga-Dollars [ 58 US $ or 39 Euro ] which I did not have with me. Why couldn't they say so before?... So I went to find an automatic teller machine to get the money just so I could get another dull paper slip in return. On my way back to Guppy the bags with all my purchases started to rip apart so, grumbling, I tried to walk a little faster to bring my stuff safely to my dinghy... And so it went on and on with my day's tasks... In the evening aboard Guppy I realized that I had lost the starter key for the dinghy... It really was a day full of pitfalls... hihi. But in the end everything worked out fine and I have done lots.

Laura

 


11-07-2011

Thank you very much for all the e-mails and advices about my SSB radio. I was given a small handheld transmitter by another sailor, so if the other ships are not too far away I can listen in to the radio traffic. I had planned to scrape off the growth from the underwater hull of my boat but it is too rainy and dark over here, and so I better wait until the sun shines again... I am now so used to the warm weather that I much prefer to swim on sunny days only – at 28°C [82,4 °F] the water temperature seems pretty chilly to me... hihi. Instead I 'dived' down to the engine room to check...the engines again. I refilled the Yanmar with oil  because it uses so much oil, unlike the Volvo engine that doesn't. I found another dead cockroach in the bilge and I immediately sent it to a watery grave. I think that all the cockroaches must be dead by now - I haven't seen a single live one for the last few months. Because it was raining all day, I decided to make a real rain catcher from an old piece of sail that I found during my clean up. Of course, when I had finished working on it, the heavy rain had stopped so I could only catch five litres of rainwater [1,3 US Gallons]. Well, it is better than nothing. Tomorrow everything will be back to the usual opening hours here, and then I will see if I can find some diesel fuel and where to go for groceries.

Laura

 


10-07-2011

With Henk we tried to reanimate my ICOM 700 Pro SSB radio. He has exactly the same, and as a test we installed it in place of mine - and it worked just fine! So what is not working is not my antenna tuner or anything with my installation... But with my radio installed it still kept blowing its internal fuse, so there really is something wrong with it. So I had to give up my repair attempt and I will have to wait until I am in Darwin to get a new one... Still I enjoyed my Sunday tthat happens to be Saturday for most of the world. I went all around the bay in my dinghy, which brought me to a beautiful reef where I hurt my foot again... Taking shoes with me obviously seems to be the only thing I will never learn. But I am getting used to it by now, haha. Then later in the day it rained and I tried to catch some water. Tomorrow is a holiday here in Vava'u and probably that all the shops will be closed. This means that I will have to wait until Tuesday to make my purchases and food provisions for my next leg.

Laura

 


09-07-2011

I kept busy all day mostly doing small things aboard, like cleaning the boat again, inflating the dinghy and with one mega-task...Lately my SSB radio was doing weird things and today it fell completely silent. I checked around on everything so Guppy became a huge mess from bow to stern and I still have not solved the problem. In the end I figured that there must be a failure somewhere inside the SSB radio electronics that I most probably cannot repair. The fuse inside the radio had blown, and the same happened with the replacement one right away... And so I spent all day finding things I was not searching for. But in turning everything upside down in the boat I found many other things that had gone missing for some time - and I learned everything there is to know about my SSB-radio. Well, it might come to be useful!.. After all that I decided not to cook dinner for myself, so with Henk from the Midget sailboat, I went to eat a big Burrito at a small restaurant overlooking the whole anchorage in Vava'u. I still have the radio problem but I try not to think too much about it for now - however, I am very sad that my black talking box that has come to mean so much to me has died. It was a sad day in the life of a young solo sailor.

Laura

      


08-07-2011


08-07-2011

I am moored in Tonga. Last night I tried to sail very slowly, but I still was too fast even after replacing the Genoa by the storm-jib, Guppy was still doing 3 knots! At dawn, the very much slower Midget 26' sailboat had catched up with me and we sailed in together behind a large cruise ship, following in its wake – going in between all the rocks and small islands towards the anchorage. This really was the best approach I ever did. The islands and the rocks looked so magical and beautiful in the morning light, with the palm trees standing out of all the greenery, and the whole scene shrouded in a soft light mist. Tonga is very beautiful. I spent most of the day clearing customs, which is not that easy to do over here, even though everybody is very kind about it all. I had to do a bunch of paperwork for the immigration office, the customs, the quarantine office and much more until everyone was happy.. Oh well, I have plenty of time. Then I enjoyed an ice-cold Cola on a terrace, satisfied to see Guppy lying at anchor between many other yachts - this was an exhausting trip and I should have been taking a rest instead. But oddly enough, I was not really tired even though I had not slept at all the night before. I wanted to enjoy my very first day in Tonga, and that went well. I guess tonight I'll sleep pretty good... As for tomorrow, we'll see…

Laura

 


07-07-2011

There is a pretty wind blowing again, but at this time I don't really want it. Guppy is now going too fast! I have 35 nautical miles left to go but because of all the reefs around Tonga, I just don't want to get there by night... So for now 'Gup' is sailing under Genoa alone at 3,5 knots. I hope that I won't have to sail along the reefs for too many hours before sunrise... I keep busy watching for the International Date Line because I believe I am sailing right over it right now or so I think... hihi. As for the announced Tsunami I din't expect that it would become a problem -Tsunamis only occur in shallow water near coastlines and it is 3,5 kilometres deep under my current position [11500 feet]! I hope to I catch up on some sleep tonight, and then early tomorrow morning I will move in my new destination.

Laura

 


06-07-2011

After many hours on a close course that felt like being on a rocking horse the winds slowly faded. Guppy made good progress and from going too far South she is gradually heading back to West. We sailed all night before the wind started teasing us again .. Guppy was smoothly moving so I had a good sleep and I cooked something tasty for dinner. I now feel reborn .. From my daily SSB radio chats, I learned that Guppy and I were getting very close to another yacht we had already made contact with a few days ago. We kept in touch via VHF radio and in the afternoon it appeared on the horizon. It is Dutch! A solo sailor on a small Midget 26 sailboat. We got closer and the middle aged man played some songs on his accordion as we quietly bobbed alongside for a while. I tried to throw a chocolate bar over to him but after landing on his yacht it bounced into Neptune's kingdom .. He too is on his way to Tonga so we will see each other there again .. Still 140 nautical miles to go [259 kilometres or 161 land miles], and I think I will arrive within two days.

Laura

 


05-07-2011

The wind keeps merrilly fooling around... Last night it shifted to the North, which was great. So this meant that I just had to unrig the Genoa from the spinnaker pole. Normally this is no problem at all, but the pole was completely stuck to the sheet rope from all the tape I had wrapped around it - which was to prevent it from fraying through. With a knife I tried to cut off the tape while I was tossed all over the deck like a bouncing ball... In the end I managed to loosen the pole by using the winch. Then the wind turned to the West until I had to come about close which brought me on a course too far South! Back on course, Guppy is still sailing close to the wind at 6,5 knots [12 kilometres or 7,5 land miles an hour], and is now pretty much like a submarine... She just keeps shaking off the overflowing water and sailing forward... Also, I have found a leak right at the top of my wardrobe..! There are still 260 nautical miles to go to Tonga [482 kilometres or 299 land miles].

Laura

 


04-07-2011

Gup and I have decided not to stop in Niue but to go directly to Tonga. Via SSB radio all the sailors who have been to Niue say that the anchorage there is very rough and uncomfortable. But in Tonga it is in a beautiful bay with calm waters and not on the open sea. It sounds really beautiful.. also I am eager to see the [International] Date Line .. hihi. So once again I am going to an island where my parents have been! I too can say that I have been in Tonga before .. But I can't say that I remember for it was a very long time ago! Guppy is not as fast as usual – we could be100 nautical miles further along if I had scraped the growth from her underwater hull back in Bora Bora .. And then from Tonga I would really love to go on to New Zealand, the country where I was born which is so close and yet so far. If I had been at liberty to start my journey when I was thirteen, I could have stopped for a while but sadly now I have to pass by for lack of time…

Laura

 


03-07-2011

I had planned my route to sail close to Palmerston Atoll [Southern Cook Islands], so that maybe I could see it … But sadly it was dark when I went by and all I could see was a small light in the distance .. Then I had to shake myself up to stay alert, being so close to land I could not sleep of course .. But today I could catch up on some of it. There is now a 20 knots easterly wind that is pulling Guppy at about 7 knots [13 kilometres or 8 land miles an hour]. I didn't get much further with my book today - it would seem I am a little reading weary … hihi! Instead I had my daily chats on the shortwave radio and I kept adjusting the sails and correcting my course. The sea breeze has made me hungry – I'll cook something up for myself shortly but I am not yet sure what it will be …

Laura

 


02-07-2011

Yeah - wind blowing since yesterday. But it kept playing games on Guppy so I was busy all day adjusting the sails and correcting course. At times the wind almost died completely and the sails flapped as Gup rolled in the ever-present swell...This rolling can wear out everything fast, so I regularly wrapped tape around the sheet rope that guides the spinnaker pole, to prevent it from fraying through and the sails from coming in contact with the rigging. And when I was about ready to give up a good breeze came back again! This crossing will not end up as one of the fastest on my list... and I haven't seen another boat and not even a single flying fish! All said, it was just another day and I started on Book Three of the 'Millennium' series. I am not the only yacht in the doldrums so I have to be happy that I am still going under sails! On the SSB radio I lhear many comments from other sailors such as: 'I think I will lie here forever and slowly roast! Sigh..' And so we talk to each other to keep our spirits up while we still are rolling. The closest yacht is 140 nautical miles ahead of me [259 kilometres or 161 land miles] and it ran out of diesel fuel. But according to the weather forecasts strong winds will be blowing tomorrow... Well, I hope it will… 

Laura


01-07-2011

Finally some winds... And they are here for awhile. Early this morning there was some light wind but by the time I had all the sails up it died down. Once more I had not much hope that it would be back soon. Then during the day several squalls came over me. A very heavy one, with winds up to 45 knots, I spotted a little late and I had to fight to bring in the halfwinder. It was not so easy to do with Guppy leaning on her side - her gunwales in the water with the sail flapping violently - begging me to take this thing down! Well...I won that battle. Guppy is sailing upright again and the undamaged halfwinder is stowed in its place in the fore-section. Now a steady and constant 15 knots wind is blowing and our speed is a little more than 6,5 knots [12 kilometres or 7,5 land miles an hour ] !... I won the 'Battle of the Flu" and I feel much better today - I just started reading a thick book, "The Girl Who Played with Fire" of the 'Millennium' series... So for now, I am in another world …

Laura

 


30-06-2011

I feel much better today, so things are going in the right direction. But I can't say it is the same with the wind although I did 4,5 knots [8,3 kilometres or 5,2 land miles an hour] under sails for a while, it died down again, so mister Yanmar [the engine] had to be called on duty. An hour later the engine room water alarm went off - a leakage!? There was nothing wrong with the propeller shaft, the valves or the cooling hoses... I kept inspecting for another hour before I found that the engine’s exhaust made from stainless steel was rusted through! I always thought that stainless steel could not rust...? I wrapped several layers of Rescue Tape [silicone tape] tightly around the whole thing, and now it all works again. I also took apart the bilge automatic water pump and found that it was blocked with a cockroach that was stuck inside! But then every evening I am delighted by the beautiful sunsets when the sky turns to orange and purple colours and a few scattered clouds complete the whole scenery. My wish for a crossing with no swell did not entirely come true for there is an increasingly long swell rolling under Guppy. But it does not annoy me yet…

Laura

 


29-06-2011

My sore throat feels better, but I can't remember ever suffering from such a strong cold! Also I did not know that it was possible to catch one in the tropics. I think it was in Bora-Bora that I was infected with the flu... Well, this will come to pass, for sure... Now there is almost no wind and the sea has changed into an endless blue hilly landscape far to the horizon... Like almost every day I talked with other sailors via SSB [ short-wave radio ], and I concluded that I am not the only one who is in the doldrums right now. Oh well, I already accept that this will be a longer trip... as long that there is no high swell in combination with no wind I think it's just fine, really. Nature teaches you to have patience…

Laura

 


28-06-2011

The wind is still weak and blowing straight from behind but all in all, I am on the right course and the sails are not flapping too much.. This will happen when Guppy rocks back and forth faster than the sails can follow, then they briefly shift sides and swing back hard when filled again with wind. Since yesterday I have a sore throat and I also feel pretty tired because I didn't have much sleep last night. I was catching on the other yacht and it was sailing exactly in my radar-alarm range. Early this morning the yacht disappeared behind me over the eastern horizon without having replied to any of my calls.. I have now passed the remaining atolls without running aground...Also I have called my sister Kim to congratulate her on her 13th birthday. Now 'Gup' and I are alone again and I can catch up on some sleep. I just hope the wind won't slowly fade some more so that the sails won't flap even harder from the lack of wind..

Laura

    


27-06-2011

I am on my way to Niue Island. The wind and waves looked pretty inviting at the start but as it usually is, I was kind of irritated with it after a few hours on... The short and steep waves were annoying at first but a little later this feeling faded, so maybe I just got used to it ? Sailing is like somekind of love-hate relationship. It is unpleasant 90 % of the time but the remaining 10 % is worth double and triple in rewards, and that is when you know for sure why you put in all the effort. The wind is blowing from behind at a speed of 10 knots [18,5 kilometres or 11,5 land miles an hour], which is not the best direction for a ketch. Guppy is running at a speed of 4,5 knots [8,3 kilometres or 5,2 land miles an hour], and that is not the speed I am used to from 'Gup' – well, I'll just have to accept it.There were three islands on my route and I have already passed the first one, Maupiti. In my opinion, the other two islands are just two too many since what they really are in fact, is super-shallow atolls which you do not see before you are right on top of them! There is another yacht sailing the same course as me far ahead in the distance... so if it did not sink then that route must be a good one for me too, hihi! I am trying to catch up with her, without too much gain yet, but now it is within my radar-alarm range all the time. Funny thing, I am now heading to an island my parents have never been to with their boat . This means I won't have to answer any of the many questions my father asks me otherwise... questions like '"Is this still there?" " Are Mr./Ms. Y still around?" " How does it look like there now?" Sometimes this can become really funny…

Laura

 


26-06-2011


26-06-2011

Everything is back in its place, the MiniCat, the dinghy, my bike is onboard and I cleared things inside Guppy's cabin so that not everything will fly around once I am sailing on the open sea again! At the yachtclub I met someone who also owns a catamaran but a bigger one, a Hobiecat made from polyester. In the afternoon we rigged it up together and then we sailed around the whole island on it. That was really cool! We almost capsized once but most of the time we sailed mega-fast. In the end when we returned, I was so exhausted that I decided not to go to the dance festival again since I already had seen it once. Instead I enjoyed some quite time aboard Guppy playing guitar and reading. Today I sail out towards Niue, which is a 1050 nautical miles journey or so [1945 kilometres or 1209 land miles]. But before I go I have to be wide awake and I also have to meet for a last breakfast with all the friends that I have made here. Then I will let go of the mooring rope and hoist the sails.

Laura

  


25-06-2011

Last night after storing some fruits I went to the dance festival with the yacht club owner. It was pretty cold and still pretty windy- for Bora Bora! - but this did not hurt the dance performance! It was very different from all that I have seen so far. There were about 55 dancers who made the whole happening really spectacular. This was intensified by the deafening sounds of the drums and of all those other instruments that I had never seen before. Tonight there will be another performance and I definitely want to go and watch it again. Earlier this morning, I went to the traditional canoe race competition. It was very spectacular as they went super fast across the bay in their canoes. Canoe racing is the most important sport here in French-Polynesia, so the people here take it seriously and really have a go at it. But tomorrow I will set sail again - otherwise I would surely stay here forever. This means that I have to make my final preparations today: stowing my bicycle and the MiniCat back inside Guppy, clearing the mess inside the cabin and putting things back into the cabinets and of course refilling the watertank. And then it is on to where the wind takes me... I am thinking Niue.

Laura

 


24-06-2011

This morning I refilled the diesel tank that of course was almost empty from running the engine during my last windless crossing. Since I had to carry all the fuel in jerrycans to Guppy, I was kept busy for quite some time. But in the afternoon I did some great sailing with my MiniCat. There were pretty strong winds blowing but a capsized only one time! I am getting better and better at sailing all the time on just one of the two inflatable hulls! Actually this is not what the MiniCat was designed for! And without knowing it, with my sailing stunts I entertained for two hours all the people at anchorage and on the terrace next to the yacht club. Back on shore near the yachtclub, while I was washing my boat, I listened to the many comments from the people there. For example,I was asked if I did not find the winds to be too strong for a light-weight like me... and an inflatable catamaran... Still, they had to admit that it looked like I was having lots of fun. Pretty exhausted from my energetic sailing, as soon as I was back I hung up my hammock, and then I read a book until it became too dark to keep reading.

Laura

 


23-06-2011

Actually I had planned to set sail again when I was told by the people here that there will be a big traditional dancing festival on Friday and Saturday that I should absolutely not miss! So now I will stay here until Sunday since I would really like to see the festival. The yacht club owner with whom I am good friends now says that it is really beautiful to watch. He also told me that last year the club had been completely destroyed by a heavy hurricane, and now they are very busy rebuilding it. The people here are very kind and they are helping each other. This afternoon I went snorkelling. Here too the rays and blacktip sharks are quite tame and they happily swim around you. Later, when I was back on Guppy, my laptop slipped from my hands and, of course, it fell on my already aching toe, now my toe is all black and blue! Lucky laptop - unlucky me…

Laura

 


22-06-2011

photo's ( look at the dutch site)

www.lauradekker.nl

 


22-06-2011

This morning I felt much better after a good long sleep, but not yet in top shape. Still with some nice wind up I could not resist assembling my MiniCat and go sailing. There were pretty good winds blowing with some strong downwinds coming from the mountains and I was throwned overboard several times as the MiniCat capsized. Now my jaw and my toes are hurting pretty much. My toes again... Aahh , can't I stop banging my toes everywhere? But the sailing was great and I went for it, going very fast! A little bit too fast... after several rides my body reminded me that I had better slow down a little! So I did...Even though I don't usually follow orders easily – not even mine - I can learn from my mistakes, which is something good I think…

Laura


21-06-2011

As often happens my plans for the day ended up to nothing. I posponed my second bicycle tour around the island because early this morning American sailors from another yacht asked me if I would like to go mountain hike. And so cycling became hiking and we did a long walk in the mountains. It is really striking that most houses have a tomb in their gardens where family members are buried – there is no common cemetery here. Back from hiking, I employed my time smartly, I think. Since Guppy is moored very close to a pier, I tied together several garden hoses so I could reach all the way to Guppy with them and I easily refilled the watertank, the Jerrycans [holding 20 litres or 5 gallons US] and the bottles, and this way I can even do my laundry and clean the boat. In the afternoon I did not feel too well, so I spent the rest of the day sitting in the cockpit, but this did not really help. Well, I am sure that things will be better tomorrow. As for today I will go to bed early again.

Laura

 


20-06-2011

For morning exercise I cycled all around the island very early this morning. This went a lot easier than I expected because the main road that circles the island is almost all at sea level. There are only a few hills on the way so it took me about three hours to go around the whole island. And since I had left very early I also was back early. At the yacht club I met the family who runs the club, and even though they speak only a little English and I only a little French, we had very good time anyway. Later they offered to show me some places on the island that are too tough to reach with my folding-bike. From the top of the mountain I have had a great view of Guppy. You can see all of Bora-Bora from up there, all the way to the surrounding islands. I have since tied Guppy to two of the club's mooring buoys so everything feels perfectly safe again.I will bike around the island somemore tomorrow, a little strengthening of the muscles should't hurt. Let's see if I can manage to do it in two and a half hours…

Laura

 


19-06-2011

photo's ( look at the dutch site)

www.lauradekker.nl 


19-06-2011

After a calm night at the mooring-buoy, today I went exploring the island. I cycled to several bays on my bike and I did some shopping on the way too. After my reconnaissance tour I decided that the mooring-buoys, which are also used by several other yachts, are most likely the best places to moor. There is really no better anchorage and to try again to reach the place where the big yacht is anchored is too risky - I definitely won't try it again! Once back on Guppy and still worried about yesterday's incident, I took a dive to check her underwater hull. Everything is fine, Guppy is really strong. Also I have already met some people from another yacht nearby. They had a problem with their computer which I solved, and in return I could use their internet access. Unfortunately Guppy's mooring-buoy is not free, but it is regularly maintained, so tonight Gup and I can enjoy a good sleep without worry.

Laura

 


18-06-2011

After a windless crossing of 30 hours I arrived in Bora Bora. As it often is with atoll islands, I first had to sail around the whole island to find the small passage in the reef to enter into the lagoon. Still at sea I had spotted a nice place to anchor, and since a big yacht was already anchored there, I believed it was deep enough, but not so! I made it halfway towards the anchorage through the reefs when it became evident I was too optimistic. I suddenly bumped into a large brain coral. Although it was a very soft collision, Guppy was not too grateful to me for that. The same with the second attempt, and after the third one I gave up because it was getting dark. Bye-bye nice anchorage. So then I had to choose between a too deep or a too shallow anchorage. The sea bottom is all the same here,  its going strait down to more than 50 meters [164 feet] deep in a few meters from the island or the coral reefs! Since it was fast getting dark, I went to dock to the first mooring-buoy I could reach. I don't find this an ideal spot to dock because I don't trust those buoys. You never know how long they have been there, and they might have rottened over time. Well then, Guppy is now safe and tomorrow will be another day to look for another place, ideally one 'Gup' can go to without bouncing over corals..

Laura

 


17-06-2011

Although there was not much wind, I had the travel-jitters again so I decided to head for the Leeward Islands. Too bad this means I have to run the engine. 'Gup' and I would rather be going under sails because that is when you can hear the water gently trickling along the hull, and we would be going much faster. But hey!... having it slow at a speed of 4 knots [7,4 kilometres or 4,6 land miles an hour] is nice too, so is watching the mirror flat sea - this is just something else! Because it is so quiet I would normally be able to sleep very well but unfortunately it is not possible for now. The radar system alarm goes off continuously because there are so many ships nearby, and so I have to stay outside in the cockpit. Already we came by the first islands on the route so 'Gup' and I decided to sail directly to Bora-Bora.

Laura

 


16-06-2011

I was actually planning to sail to the Huahine atoll but the ocean is just flat as a mirror! And the weather forecast for the coming days is not much better.. The internet access is really super slow here so no new photos on the website for now. Early in the morning I was getting ready to take my bike ashore to finally make a tour of the island, when a dinghy from the mega-yacht came by. Would I like to come over and meet with them all? So now I know everyone on board, I made conversation and I have helped with some chores and other tidbits onboard – they are really a nice crew. They have been halfway around the world, and they even get paid doing it, and most of the time they have the mega yacht all to themselves since the owner rarely spends time on board. In the evening, I went to lie alongside two other yachts and we had a BBQ which really was mega fun. Someone became totally drunk in a very merry and funny way and so we spent the night limp with laughter. Fortunately, myself I never drink much so this morning I am probably the only one not suffering from a headache…

Laura

 



15-06-2011

I was up late this morning because last night I tried to upload pictures to the website for several hours, unfortunately without any success! I was half awake when a sailor I know from Tahiti suddenly came fulspeed around the corner in his dinghy. He said that he was anchored further in another bay, and he asked me whether I would like to go along with a few other people to a spot where rays and blacktip reef sharks eat out of your hand. Yes, of course I would! So then, as I was in the water over there, they all swam around and sometimes bumped into us, even if you did not have anything to eat with you. And they were certainly not small, that's for sure! At first, I did not feel very safe, but it really was a great experience! Back on Guppy, I take the mainsail of to get it looked over. Someone who works aboard a mega-yacht anchored here in the bay made the offer to me, and since it is not a bad thing to check, I gratefully accepted. You might think that Guppy's sails would be damaged by strong winds, but it's quite the contrary.The sails mostly wear out from too less or even no winds. Of course, I was given a guided tour of the yacht. Wow, it is so mega-big and extremely luxurious! Guppy's main mast (17 meters or 55,7 feet) can only reach to the lowest of five spreaders of the mega-yacht's mast…

Laura

 


14-06-2011

Actually today I wanted to explore the island but early this morning it was already sweltering hot that I did not feel like going. From Guppy I have a beautiful view around me and so I decided to spend my time on the water. It is so invitingly blue and it is so very clear that I almost get the vertigo while swimming. I can see the bottom 30 meters [98 feet] below me! At first, it troubled me that I could clearly see the bottom while sailing with Guppy since it made it very difficult to estimate how deep it was. So it is better to turn on the depth gauge around here because even though you can see the bottom you can't be sure that it is deep enough. I spent the time between swimming dips in the sea and reading, and an attempt at baking some cookies which, of course...you shouldn't forget to go check! And now they are rock-hard, all black and uneatable. Well...the fishes enjoyed them, so my work was not all for nothing! As for fitness training, I paddled around the bay over the reef just half a meter [1,6 feet ] below me, with all that beautiful colored corals…

Laura

 


13-06-2011

Anchors up and heading for Moorea. First, I had to sail through a narrow passage between reefs and breaking waves very close on both sides.. Then after three hours of great sailing, I again guided Guppy through another passage in the reefs. 'Gup' doesn't like sailing between all those breakers but once she is quietly anchored across she feels quite happy again. Moorea is very beautiful too, and I will definitely go exploring tomorrow. I have just met a family that has been traveling around the world by plane for more than one year now. And that includes four children aged between 11 and 15 years old. When I told them about my trip the kids felt like sailing around the world too. But the idea quickly faded when their parents explained that they would have to stay on the boat all the time, with no chance of escape from their brothers and sisters. We met aboard a boat whose owner is a French sailor who has participated in many races before, and who has crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a Hobie Cat (an open catamaran 5 meters/16 feet in length)!! This does not sound like music to my ear, especially after he showed us the movie that was made then. But he really loved it..  

Laura

 

L


12-06-2011

Even though Guppy is very satisfied with her anchorage in the crystal clear and calm waters of Tahiti, I am planning to sail the 20 nautical miles [37 kilometres or 23 land miles] to the island of Moorea tomorrow. Yes indeed this island is almost just around the corner. But French Polynesia is so beautiful that I would like to see even more of its islands. Everything is ready to go - this is the last big city where I can buy all I need for the time being. Today I stocked up on fresh water and refilled the diesel fuel, I checked on the engines and I put in order the entire boat again...unfortunately, there is no one else but me to do this... I also did my laundry here at the marina because I do not have this opportunity all too often. Usually I put all my laundry into a bucked and wash it by hand, always taking care not to use too much of my fresh water. And so I have been busy all day so that now I am back on a wonderfully fresh smelling 'Gup'. And after finishing work, I treated myself to some homebaked pancakes.

Laura

 


11-06-2011

After two days spent running around I moved to a slower pace, and now I have to do all of the everyday things that need to be done... After first refilling the wreck-car with cooling water, I went shopping in Papeete city and then over to the immigration office to clear customs. That is always a mission in and by itself. Mainly because they want you to answer the most mind boggling questions all the time... They ask you for example about the exact date and time of your departure, about where you will go to and when you will leave again, and where exactly you are planning to go to next! If I only knew for sure... Guppy goes where the wind blows, and I go along when I feel like going and not because it is decided on a piece of paper... Anyway, my papers are now full of big-fat rubber stamps...and so I will probably be leaving sometime between Sunday and Tuesday, heading for Moorea island. So after my time in the buzzing city, where they have the same parking problems as in the Netherlands, I was happy to be back on Guppy and a refreshing dive in the water. I think I will have a quiet evening with Guppy and enjoy one of the many movies we are sharing between sailors.

Laura

 


10-06-2011


10-06-2011

We've had an awesome day!! Because the stranded sailor we went to the waterfall with yesterday is away for two weeks, we could borrow his car. But not before he had taken a photo of me with the car. Yes, indeed with his "wreck of a car", wha-ha!! With a girlfriend from another yacht we drove all over the island and we almost reached the eastern point of the smaller island. It was so beautiful, just awesome. However, when we drove up one hill the engine's cooling water overheated and suddenly started boiling, but we managed to go downhill to a gas station just in time. We had to keep on refilling cooling water every 20 km [12,5 land miles] for the rest of the day. It is very expensive over here, everything costs twice or three times as much than in the Netherlands. This is not too surprising if you keep in mind that everything has to be delivered by airplane or boat. When we came back walking, I was so lost in conversation that I did not pay attention and... splash! Of course everyone in the harbour started laughing, and so we went swimming right there. Actually, it was just great to wash off the heat of the day after this long tour by car. Tonight I have an invitation, and this time to a mega sailing yacht of 40 meters [131 feet] lengths! I met its crew yesterday at the barbecue, and so they invited me today.

Laura

 


09-06-2011

Up to now I have met many new people again, and one of them is a stranded sailor who has to work to earn some money before he can continue on his voyage. He has been here for seven months and he knew about a waterfall that is off the beaten track and is in fact only knowned to the locals. Along with a couple of sailors we went over there in his car. It was a huge waterfall that was surrounded by a vast and very green valley, and there was no one else except for us. It was soooooooo beautiful, just awesome, so we went swimming in the waterfall and ate some coconuts. The car was really funny... it almost fell to pieces, and its very old but still working, and the engine had to be started by joining wires. Tonight there will be a barbecue at the marina, so I will go over to meet more people. Being in a place where you can find a McDonald, highways, shops, traffic jams and even more of the same really takes getting used to again. But the island itself is really beautiful, and the water is so clear that I can see my anchor 10 meters [33 feet] below the water' surface just as if it was lying on deck.

Laura

 



08-06-2011

After an exciting passage between two reefs with many lights and buoys I was neatly moored, exactly at midnight. When I woke up in the morning, and I could clearly see what I had been sailing through by night, I had to swallow... At this very moment I was really taken in by everything I saw around me. On the horizon I could see the island of Moorea, and Tahiti is very beautiful, high, green, and the people are really very kind. There sure is a bit more hustle and bustle in such a big city! After I cleared customs this morning, I met with acquaintances who then told me about the other yachts lying at anchor. Then with a peer from another yacht, we sailed towards the anchorage where we enjoyed a little swimming around the boat. It is so nice and quiet here behind the high mountains where the winds are calm! There are many yachts anchored here but I only know some of them, so I shall be very busy meeting tomorrow. And today I will go early to bed once more.

Laura

 


 


07-06-2011

Going outside without getting wet has become really impossible now! Obviously, Guppy enjoys practicing to be a submarine once more… but not for long since Tahiti is in sight! Right now a cargo ship that does not reply to my calls is heading on a collision course with us. That is always annoying because you never know if they have spotted you! But now Guppy is running fast in the night and the only thing I can really do is to keep watch and wipe the water from my eyes... There are still 35 nautical miles to go [65 kilometres or 40 land miles], so 'Gup' and I have decided to go through the reef-passage near Papeete by night anyway. I hope to have sailed through at about midnight and then I will enjoy a good night sleep. Tomorrow I will sail towards my anchorage which is about five nautical miles further away [9 kilometres or 6 land miles] and surrounded by many reefs which going by in the dark, 'Gup' and I don't find a very good idea…

Laura

 



06-06-2011

While I was running along by the remaining atolls, the wind slowly began to pick up to a speed of about 30 knots [55 kilometres or 53 land miles an hour, force 7 on the Beaufort-scale]. The waves got higher and higher, and even before I was passed the very last atoll, I had to put two reefs in the main and hoisted the storm-jib. Everything that is still loose aboard is now lying on the boat's low side… It is dark - the sky is deeply clouded while the water is heavily pouring over Guppy and me. I hope Mother Nature enjoyed that! Up to now, it looked like I would be arriving by day. But now that I am going much faster, it could be that I will already be there tomorrow evening! So, Guppy and I are now discussing about whether we should sail through the reef passage near Papeete by night… But right now I just feel like catching up on some sleep - if only that big ship hadn't now appeared inside the radar's detection range…

Laura

 


05-06-2011

Another hot and windless day, and I kept looking to the point on the horizon where land should be … my first atoll. And I still could not see any, even though an island usually becomes visible from a distance of 30 nautical miles [55 kilometres or 35 land miles]. But an atoll is so low that you won't see it earlier than in a few miles range, the highest point usually is a palm tree! On my chart there is a wreck to the north marked, with an additional note that reads: "If you gonna run aground, there are worse places than this". Well of course, you also can see it that way too, I said to Guppy, when something finally rose above the horizon. At top speed I climbed up the mast and indeed, I could see a low ring-shaped atoll on the horizon to starboard [right side of the boat]. For a short moment I was very happy, but at the same time I felt trapped between all those reefs… Well aware that dozens of yachts sink here every year, I will keep very good watch! After a big squall hit, which allowed me to catch some water again, I could not see the small island any longer. 

Laura

 


04-06-2011

This morning I first tried to make something with my stock of now rock-hard baguettes. Unfortunately I did not succeed, so right now I turned to eat some muesli..! As soon as I just get to bed, I have to get up again. Flap, flap, flap... winds coming from astern, winds from ahead, and then coming from the side again - all night..! By constantly adjusting the sails with the light and shifting winds, all in all we averaged a speed of about five knots most of the time [9 kilometres or 6 land miles an hour]. But the wind has now completely vanished, and so I had to honestly ask in Guppy's small engine for help. We are not going too fast, but on this way I will save some fuel. I expect to reach the edge of the Tuamotus archipelago tomorrow in the evening. It is both nice and exciting, and probably I will only get very little sleep then.

Laura

 


 


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