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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Why am I writing about Aboriginal fishing rights and Marine Protected Areas

Reason: This trip is nearly over (day 41), and there's nothing much more for me to say about the trip except for me to talk about the sea we are travelling on!

Why Have MPAs (Marine Protected Areas)?
There are many justifications for having MPAs along the coastline. In canada. we have had a number of them since the 90s. But New Zealand started to set aside MPAs and No-Take Zones back in the 1970s ... and here (even as divers) we noticed a difference between N.Z. and BC/AK, Australia and Chile. Some fish actually swam up to us, much as to say "WHAT are you?"

What are the benefits for MPAs and No-Takes: 1)They are the easiest to police. 2) The fish allowed to grow large in MPAs proliferate and gradually more fish are able to go out and spread in surrounding waters. This has been proven in scientific studies produced since the 70s in New Zealand. 3) A stupidity of our system (which dictates throwing BACK the little fish) - it's the BIG females who spawn hundreds of times more eggs than those little fish. We should leave the big females. Those are just 3 benefits. This applies to shellfish also, of course.

What about Austrlia's zoning of the Great Barrier Reef? Australia tries to enforce a type of 'zoned' fishing ... this has been in place for a lot of years ... but they are really losing the battle fighting fish loss in coastal areas. We think it's because - as in Canada and Chile - there are regulations but no-one much can enforce them. For one thing, under Australia's zoning requirements different areas allow different types and size of 'tackle' and fish caught. It's EASY to tell if someone is fishing - but how can you tell what he's fishing with?

How and why is New Zealand different? In New Zealand in the 70s a marine biologist from England got the public interested in trying to set aside 12% of the coastline as MPAS. Due to a lot of work on his part, and a lot of educating of the public, a well-spring of public opinion surfaced and he was able to start on this dream. I heard him talk in the early 90s at an international conference in Nova Scotia on Marine and Terrestrial Parks where he was the keynote speaker. Extra 'gravitas' was added to his talk because the cod fishery had just collapsed. Canada's government spokesperson hardly mentioned the loss of the cod fishery but went on to talk of the 'record landings of salmon' in BC. The following year, the BC-Alaska salmon industry collapsed with huge altercations between BC and Alaskan fishermen.

Why have No-Take Zones? If you are a scientist, you like to have Baseline Studies which are able to accurately assess what WOULD be there without any human interference. What SHOULD be there.

Aboriginal Rights: In New Zealand when we were there, the Maori actually police the MPAs. I think they may also have BOTH their own protected fishing areas which THEY patrol and their OWN No-Take Zones. I believe this is how the scenario is also playing out in Canada. We were away for nine years and are only now getting on-stream with what's happening there.

Chile: We saw increased fish farming all the way down the coast. Abandoned fish farms where little clean-up seemed to be done. Fishing floats by fishermen which were made of white polystyrene (like that in cheap coolers); actual tiny particles of that plastic washed onto our boat - crab-fishing out of season (of course, there was no-one there, they just left the pots - all crabs in them would die). In Puerto Eden Chile we saw crates and crates of centolla crab being prepared to be sent to Europe. You have to wonder how long the crab will hold out.

What can we do?

Canada: we have the MLSS - Marine Life Sanctuary Society - started in BC by Andy Lamb and sport fisherman and photographer Bernard P Hanby. Of Course: If we can't even protect our own fish in Canada, why should we expect poor Chile with its masses of fishermen who know no other lifestyle to be pro-active about this? Andy reports on the Lincod Egg Mass Count in 'Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest' (Lamb & Hanby) saying:"Overfishing has reduced just about every population of this species which appears tailor-made for a No-Take Marine Protected Area solution."

Canadians: join MLSS - it's a small fee (which we still have to pay once again). If more people from across the country demonstrate their interest, more can be accomplished. In other countries, there are probably equivalent groups which you can join.

in YOUR country: read about MPAs and try to interest people and politicians in your community to implement one.

To help Chile: Sign on to vote for Vreni Haussermann for a special Award on Women's Day (use Google Translate if you need to):

P.S. instead of a RUT, people have been putting in their passport number to vote for Vreni.

Who is Vreni Hausserman?
To me, Dr Vreni Haussermann is an amazing, accomplished young woman. Through her consistent, disciplined, challenging work she succeeded in setting up the very first Marine Protected Area for Patagonia (and I believe in all of Chile). She is a scholar, an organizer, and an amazingly accomplished researcher. She's a scuba diver - her specialty is that amazingly beautiful little species that we all love - the Sea Anemone. She has identified some new species in Chile. However, there is a mass of work to be done - just in Patagonia. The area is probably as large as the Great Barrier Reef yet it still has not been fully explored.

I also know about her from her book: "Marine Benthic Fauna of Chilean Patagonia" (editors: Vreni Haussermann & Gunter Forsterra).

***By the Way - thanks to all our friends/family who have already voted.***

At 2018-03-15 18:26 (utc) our position was 18°27.23'N 147°48.40'W

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Books, books, and friends!

How to pass the time? We both read, read, read. How to get enough reading material? Again - the answer is FRIENDS! Our friends have been ever so helpful in giving us books, or answering urgent pleas for readable book titles.

How could anyone with a sense of adventure resist a free book entitled "In Xanadu …"? It was just the first in a whole series of books given to me by Sarah B in Noosa Australia from her trade/discard pile. The author brought a scholar's insightful knowledge to his travel books of the Middle East. Of course, the books were somewhat dated - but still fascinating. Both the books themselves (just a memory now) and the author's name (regrettably forgotten) have been left behind in our wake.

Jane W and Ed K of Sechelt BC started giving me books saved in their trade/discard pile when we first started cruising offshore in 2004. Once we've read them, they're passed on. Cruising sailors rarely throw out a book - even if it's really, really BAD. Books you have loved (or have only picked up to pass the time) get left in Marina laundry rooms and Yacht Club libraries along the way. One of your first actions on meeting up with another boat is to ask what books they have on their 'discard' list.

It's an absolute necessity for those of us who are reading obsessives to let a few hundred words pass by our dimming eyes during any 4-hr watch. Otherwise we feel print-deprived and print-hungry. This is true unless you actually have life-endangering weather or a man-overboard (and then only if YOU are the one in the threatened situation).

Other wonderful 'reads'- years ago, Linda B of Simcoe Ontario recommended 'House of the Spirits' by Chilean author Isabel Allende. Since then, we've read many of Allende's books - Larry has been reading them in Spanish -some given by ship-mates Kath snd Franco of S/V Caramor. Winnie P of Ottawa gave me both Bruce Chatwin books: 'Songlines' about Australia, and 'In Patagonia'. Josephine H had me proofread her wonderful book detailing experiences as a log-recoverer in Gibsons BC. I was 'gifted' with a fascinating biography of the rabidly randy Tasmanian Errol Flynn whose father was a famous marine biologist. Also a book about the Thames barges by Patricia H in London. All along, I've been getting real books from friend Barb de F in Ferndale Washington who seemingly belongs to one WONDERFUL book club down there. A debate about some of the political books on my list would be fascinating.

My brother John (an English prof) recommended books from the time I was a teenager starting with the Russians: 'Crime and Punishment 'and 'Brothers Karazamov'. It is only now that I really appreciate the shorter works … like Tolstoy's 'Kreuzer Sonata' or the stories of Gogol. John also relished the wonderful short stories by Irish writers, like 'The Dead' (James Joyce) or 'Guests of the Nation'(Frank O'Connor) and 'A Rhinoceros, Some Ladies and a Horse'(James Stephens). He also encouraged me to read Canadian writers like Miriam Toews and Alister Macloud (sp???)

Recently, after a shared dinner in Puerto Natales I gathered book titles from S/Vs Otra Vida and Merkava and they reminded me about 'Shantaram' by Vikram Seth's 'A Suitable Boy' 'Glass Bead Game' and about the fascinating book 'Born to Run'. Shantaram is a great and satisfyingly long book, I now find Hesse's writing very male-oriented (I must have thought myself more at home in the male-dominated clime of my early 20s) and alas - I can't get V S book on my Kindle.

In Sydney Australia, Leah L introduced me to rancher Sarah Henderson's books like 'Some of My Friends Have Tails' … all of these stories evoking a special relationship with the land and with the ranch (and family) animals. Of course, Leah (a fabulous flutist now turning her mind to becoming a veterinarian) has lived with partner Debbie and a menagerie including dogs, fostered kittens, chickens on a property also containing an echidna and a fairly harmless python (we never saw him!) In New Zealand, Wai and a Chinese boat-owner lent me some vivid and sad books about the regime there. Jen U introduced us to Bryce Courtenay … formerly a S African (and with a writing style much like Wilbur Smith) but now writing very engaging books about Australia. My favourite was called 'Four Fires' … and if you have a rage to read, it will take you many weeks to read through his output. For equally engaging but a less politically charged genre, do read writing about time-travelling - fascinating - by Jodi Taylor (friend Shelagh A lead me to these).

My relationship with books has changed a lot since my aforementioned friend Shelagh (S/V Time-Out) inducted me into the Kindle Family in 2012. Now, I can not only remember books and authors but I can also search for old Classics, for companion books and get advertising (usually unwanted) about books which I might buy. Not only have I bought and read over 300 internet books in the last 22 months of this trip, but look up books/authors I've read even if I've had to cycle them out of my device because of overburdening Kindle with new book purchases. I'm not only able to act on book advice from others, I'm also able to give it.

I've read a great deal about politics - especially lately. I try to read in a bi-partisan way, so I've not only read a lot about earlier politicians (like Lincoln - a Republican) or 'No Ordinary Time: Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt' by Doris Kearns Goodwin - about these very progressive Democrats. I stopped reading Jane Mayer's anti-Trump expose entitled "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires" after I thought I thought I detected an error in Chapter 1 ... more to Google once I have internet. "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics" by David Axelrod who helped elect Obama. I also need to finish reading "The Best and the Brightest" by David Halberstam (seems to be a Democratic 'take' on the Viet Nam war but so far it is quite neutral to me!)

The fact that most of the books I read are probably written either by confirmed Democrats like Jane Mayer or confirmed Republicans mean they probably lose some objectivity. However, it's hard to read Barack Obama's pre-presidential writing without feeling that FINALLY someone who truly cared for 'doing the right thing' would be in power. I've been reading a lot of books recommended by a Canadian friend, but which portray the race situation in the U.S. Many of the writers are black themselves, and depending on where they're from, this is conveyed in their writing. For instance, wonderful writer Chimananda Ngazi Adichie says that before she came to the U.S. she never noticed that she was 'black' p. 216 of 'Americanah'). Living in Nigeria, she was among the privileged elite.

Pulitzer Winner VietThanh Nguyen was addresses his gratitude for escaping Viet Nam in the 70s, but also feels discrination in his biographical work "The Sympathizer: A Novel". A University lecturer, he doesn't attribute his feeling of alienation in the U.S. as a class issue, but as an issue of race.

"We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy" by Ta-Nehisi Coates (a writer for ) writes about his discouragement over the momentum which was gradually lost for Black Rights over the 8 years of Obama's presidency in a series of articles published by The Atlantic Magazine. He admits to being a middle-class person whose mother went to college (he himself is the only one of his siblings who didn't). This really needs to be debated, especially his contentions that black reparation rights would supersede aboriginal rights and that black rights are more credible than the rights of Jewish survivors of WWII. Many of the black people we know in Canada did not seem to be that aware of discrimination in Canada and have only become more voluble recently. Perhaps my comment is in itself a white and racist comment. Most recently, Canadians are aware of the rights of aboriginal peoples - and this is becoming more prominent everywhere - including in Chile.


A wonderful book to read in its wide-ranging scope of detail, character development and unveiling of layers of emotion are James Baldwin's novels (which I hadn't read for 30 years). Of course they deal a lot with the racism his characters experienced but his writing is so superb that one is more aware of his great craftsmanship and sensitivity to character and plot than to the unalienable fact that - for instance - in 'Another Country' he's talking about the tragedy of race.

About non-race American politics in the earlier 1900s: "I Have Seen the Future … A Life of Lincoln Steffens" by Peter Hartshorn. Steffens was a well-connected American who lived through and participated in many of the foremost political intrigues and upsets of American politics from about 1905 until his death in 1936. Between his birth and death in privilege, he lived a free-wheeling life as a journalist, travelled extensively (and often to Russia) and was enormously influential. He started out his journalistic career as one of the 'muckrakers' - journalists in the 1900s who helped oust the Tammany boys and other crooked politicians from various cities in the U.S. and brought Theodore Roosevelt to power. He ended his life back where he started out, in beautiful Carmel with a wife 30 years younger than himself - a friend of the poet Robertson Jeffers of Tor House fame. Even after being in Russia for the aftermath of the October Revolution and for many bloodthirsty purges which followed, he maintained a sanguine attitude about his views maintaining that it was an inevitable result of the need to purge the country of the excesses of monarchy. Near the end. he ranged over to espousing Christianity and published a book near the end of his life which combined his two enthusiasms entitled: "Jesus in Red".

Books that inspire: "Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku" by David Davis - about the great Hawaiian Olympic swimmer who started surfing as an international sport.; "The Three Year Swim Club" by Julie Chekaway - an inspiring story about a great 1930s Hawaiian (Japanese) swim club who got many of his members to the Olympics. "The Great Bridge" by D McCullough - a fabulous account of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.** "Spymistress: The True Story of the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II" by William Stevenson**. You need to read this -m based on true events covered up by the British government for 50 years because it exposes their anti-semitism. It IS inspiring! "Sipping from the Nile: My Exodus from Egypt" by Jean Naggar - about a woman who had to leave her family's home of many years during the rise of anti-semitism there, and how she re-established herself.

"A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler" by Jason Roberts, using the diaries of James Holman, who was born in 1786, became blind, and learned to train his senses so he didn't need to use a cane.
"A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel" by Amor Towles.
"Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story - How one Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War" by Nigel Cliff

Travel: "Journey Without Maps" by the truly wonderful writer Graham Greene about travel in Africa;
"The Log of Bob Bartlett: The True Story of Forty Years of Seafaring and Exploration" Captain Robert A Bartlett - written in true Newfie style and first published in 1926
"Farthest North: Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship"Fram" 1893-96 and of Fifteen Months' Sleigh Journey by Dr. Nansen" by Dr. Fridjof Nansen (1861-1930)
"Travels: Collected Writings, 1950-1993" by Paul Bowles - fabulous & very topical - about his journeys writing for American publications mostly about Africa - he was an American ex-patriot, gay, a kif-smoker and a fabulous composer and ethnologist who went about recording (now-lost) African tribal music and little-known African instruments. He was anti-French (in Algeria and N Africa) and anti-British (in their Kenyan holdings)
"Shadow of the Silk Road" by Colin Thubron

"Victoria: A Life" (about the Queen) and "The Victorians" by British historian A.N.Wilson whose books are always reliable; and who does not 'pull any punches'.
"Churchill: A Life" BY Martin Gilbert
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard - fabulous

"A Greater Journey … Americans in Paris" by David McCullough

What really happened in China "Mao's Last Dancer"
"Do Not Say we Have Nothing" about musicians in China by Canadian writer Madeleine Thien (thanks to Nancy S)

Canadian History:anything by Pierre Berton including "The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush"
Canadian/U.S. History: Pierre Berton's 2 books about the War of 1812 (between Canada and the U.S.)

"The Ministry of Utmost Happiness" by Arundhati Roy

Specifically about Women and their plight:
"Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
"Housekeeping: A Novel" by Marilynne Robinson; also "Gilead" same author

When I'm just desperate for something to read and am out of books out here I can always turn to either:
"The Diary of Samuel Pepys" (on Kindle) ... he was the gentleman with plebian tastes (especially in 'loose' women) who turned the British Navy into such a great powerhouse! OR
H.W. Tilman: The Seven Mountain-Travel Books. His writing is always a joy to read and we have the book aboard.

Easier but beautiful reads for women:
The Little Paris Bookshop" by Nina George and "The Little French Bisto" … charming books for us women … thanks to Frida A.
Donna Leon Mysteries about Venice are the greatest! Thanks Nancy S in Ottawa
"Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson and also "The Summer Before the War" … she relies heavily on the work and style of British author Barbara Pym - so anyone who reads these should also read the style she's copying - "No Fond Return of Love", "Some Tame Gazelle", Excellent Women", "Quartet in Autumn" and many others by BARBARA PYM
"The Vacillations of Poppy Carew" and "Jumping the Queue" by Mary Wesley are great books by a woman who only started publishing at the age of seventy … hopes for all of us yet!

About the most difficult book I have ever read … horrifying all the way through is "Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat's Memoir" by Nicholas Coghlan… it shows the exemplary courage of the author who travelled to war-torn South Sudan with his wife Jenny as our Canadian Ambassador. His life was imperilled at various times, and his descriptions of how this unfolded is detailed and unstinting in laying blame. The preface by General Romeo Dallaire (a Canadian General who wrote about the Rwanda miseries in a book of great sadness entitled "Shake Hands with the Devil") tells all Canadians to read Nick's book. We owe a lot to people like Nick and Jenny who sacrifice their comfortable lives to serve in places like the Sudan and Rwanda. This book also places the many books I have read (and detailed in a much longer book report) about race relations in our continent in a new light. I wish everyone would read this. Diplomacy and sending aid and money are not working in South Sudan.

Questions to debate: should Britain, the U.S. and France be forced to stop selling arms to Africa?
Should all African countries be banned from selling arms to each other (shortly after he took power, Nelson Mandela staged a huge arms sale; selling to neighbouring countries).
Should the 'big' oil investors (in S Sudan they are Norway, the U.S. and Britain) be forced to back off and stop mixing politics with their business?
Instead of 'blanket' aid should we spend more money on: Planned Parenthood; War Child Canada; the UN initiative on AIDS reduction
Should medical personnel be held back? Clan dictators pay no heed to attempts at intervention by foreign personnel and many aid workers have been killed.

And BIGGER questions to debate:
Nuclear power is now emerging (after all) as the best, cleanest and most efficient power. Get rid of the oil consortiums ASAP.
GM foods have also been shown in significant studies to be healthy and would help stop starvation. We all need to educate ourselves more about this.
Could we and if so should we arrange to murder dictators? THEIR wars take the biggest toll on women and children.

To end on a more friendly footing, I have left a few really optimistic books for the end:
"Dancing with Elephants" by Jason Sawatsky … it shouldn't be so lovely … it's about an intellectual who is literally losing everything because of inherited Huntington's Disease (which is in his Mennonite family genes). He writes in a slightly crazy way (a sign of the illness?) but I think he can teach us all a lot!

Possibly our BEST book gifts from young friends Joc S and Matt H of S/V Nancy Blackett of Victoria … these are 1) a large volume entitled 'The Funniest Thing You Never Said' and 2) an inconsequential LOOKING book which has the insides cut away to reveal a tiny metal 'mickie' of Scotch - they've both proved to be of inestimable value during Captain-1st Mate arguments at sea!

At 2018-03-11 17:53 (utc) our position was 13°54.65'N 138°11.89'W

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Far from Anywhere

As I write this, we are eight hours short of the furthest point from land we will reach on this passage. At midnight leading into March 10, Mexican Isla Clarion will be 1230 miles to our northeast; Cape Kumukahi, the furthest point east in Hawaii will be the same distance ahead of us and tiny Eiao Island, an outlier of French Polynesia's Marquesas Islands will be just a hair further away to the south.

From midnight onward, our closest land will be Hawaii!

We were as far from land on our New Zealand to Chile sail a year ago but this seems infinitely less remote. The seas are gentler, the temperatures warmer and now, every few days, we sight the lights of a ship in the distance - we saw no one in the Southern Ocean.

Because of the length of the trip, things are starting to wear out (not least, us!). A few days ago we replaced the water-pump drive belt in our generator. Some things, like a failed courtesy light that keeps us from tripping over a step in the dark or some worn areas of the mainsail, are simply added to a list to be dealt with in Honolulu.

We are slowly getting into "arrival mode". We contacted US Customs today to discuss their requirements for our clearance into the US and we communicated with the marina near Waikiki where Traversay will be staying to arrange a berth.

The sea (and thus air) temperature, having been pegged at 28C (83F) for several days have finally started to drop as we leave the equator further behind. That 28C sounds more pleasant than it is. It is fine outside in the breeze but inside, with limited ventilation to keep the spray out and various machinery adding heat, it reached 34C (93F) in the cabin!

There are 35 days of sailing behind us. We are guessing 10 more days will see us tied to the dock.

At 2018-03-10 00:23 (utc) our position was 11°53.79'N 133°52.34'W

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

For offshore sailors - Why friends ashore are Critical !

Who would have known that a baby's head circumference is 36 cm at birth? And why would I need to know it?
Over the last few months, the thrust of this 2-yr trip changed dramatically when my daughter Hope asked me to hurry back to help look after her three children and a small squad of pets (including chickens) as she and her husband Darin will need to be in Ottawa (2 hours from their home) for the delivery of a 4th (and seemingly unexpected) grandchild.
Since then, the 'little one' keeps adding stress to our lives by warning that it might arrive early! Luckily, we are now experiencing the very best of tradewinds and are probably going to arrive earlier than we had predicted. Larry will park the boat in Honolulu and toil endlessly fixing, buying parts and possibly even varnishing while I enjoy family time in Ontario.
So now Granny is on the way, and knitting up a storm over the Pacific. The little lacy cap that I made is only 34 cm. BUT wait - a baby girl's head circumference is just 35 cm - so perhaps the girl's cap will be just fine. My daughter prefers that this baby (like the 3 earlier editions) arrives as a surprise, so Granny is making a unisex layette - I'm using the appearance of one of my favourite Patagonian creatures - the Darwin Nudibranch as inspiration.
It's a perfect creature to model a unisex outfit. Here's a little doggerel I wrote about him/her:

We went down to the depths to visit a friend
… of singular appearance
He sends back to us a message of clearance…
For his name, which he accepts with good grace
Given by his 'discoverer' within the human race.

We've been asked to report back from Darwin the Dorid
That other presumptions we've got are really quite horrid
Despite his waistcoat of white and the odd ill-spaced dot.
The yellow frills and bow-tie appearance are a defense, don't you see?
"Eat me, and you'll get dire results gastrically!
Altho I'm told you might find me quite bent
I'm not HE or SHE but "IT"
All parts self-contained, a happy hermaphrodit!"

A lacy cap will not do for a boy baby so now I need a pattern to knit a toque of the right size. Well - if you don't know what a toque is - you'd better GOOGLE it - it is an essential part of one's wardrobe in the Canadian winter.
How do I find a pattern for knitting a masculine-looking white and blue toque? Without Google?
Answer: FRIENDS. My friend Kathleen H in Sechelt British Columbia received three urgent letters in the middle of the night. By googling the internet she supplied me with the answers within a day.
Sometimes answers to far more pressing questions have been supplied by appealing to friends ashore. David L in Edmonton kept us safe during the NW Passage by accessing weather and ice information on a daily (and sometimes almost hourly) basis.
How do we spend all this time aboard? Well … just staying upright in the conditions we're in now takes a lot of effort. It's so hot that I cooked on my night watch (12pm to 4am). The motion can lead to a few disasters. I rarely cook without getting a minor burn somewhere. Weird things happen when you have a great deal of motion. I recently found a vinegar bottle with no cap; a metal part for my pressure cooker went missing yesterday; last night I placed the kettle on the big towel we're keeping over the freezer because the condensation is so extreme and in a sudden lurch, the kettle flipped over and spilled a lot of hot water. Luckily the towel was there.
Reading recipe books is always a welcome way to spend time! I've started trying to get all cooking accomplished just after I get up on my cooking day. So four days ago I made Chicken and Asparagus Stir-fry (p.280 Great Pressure Cooker cookbook). It was fabulous, even though I had to use tinned asparagus. Somehow the vegetables tinned in Chile seem fresher and retain more crispness than those from N America or the other Austral lands. Two days ago, on Monday morning by 9:30 I had made both the Barley Salad with Parsley, Almonds and Lemon (p. 442) and the Chicken and Cashew "Stir-Fry" (p. 281). The only green herb I had left was mint, so I made the salad with mint and had to use bottled lemon juice. I also left out the almonds as we'll get all those cashews in the main course. I used the ersatz hoisin sauce the chefs mentioned - luckily I have some 5-Spice powder. Both dishes were ensconced in the 'fridge and served cold at both lunch and dinner. Our meals for today were cooked on my 12-4a.m. watch and are now cooling in the 'fridge. I made the 'Spicy Pork Shoulder and Peanut Stew (p. 192) and this will last for 2 dinners. There'll be shrimp wraps for our lunch today.
There are several pieces of print that are NEVER welcome on a small boat far offshore. Opening up your computer and reading "Updates are ready for your computer" or Norton's "Security check recommended" are persistent nuisances. You'd think the fact you haven't GOT internet and CAN'T GET IT as it doesn't exist 1,000 miles from civilization would have ascended up the ranks to Bill and the other supposedly brilliant nerds!

At 2018-03-07 19:45 (utc) our position was 09°45.40'N 127°53.10'W

Monday, 5 March 2018

Into the Northeast Trade Winds

The Inter Tropical Convergence (ITCZ or doldrums) was a big surprise this equator crossing. Five other equator crossings resulted in hours to days of motoring across a mirror-like swell with ABSOLUTELY no wind at all - save during the brief torrential downpours. This time, by contrast, the wind remained such that our boat speed never dropped below 4 knots - and that leisurely pace only lasted a short time before regular progress resumed. Our motor had hardly been used this voyage so we ran it for an hour - more to circulate its oil than to move Traversay along.

There was a big downpour though, perhaps just to keep things consistent with our other crossings. In that, the wind reached 25 to 30 knots but soon settled down to a perfect 20 knots.

We have now reached the north east trade winds that blow in the tropics north of the Convergence. These winds are of just the strength and direction to propel us towards Honolulu at our best speeds.

I'll wander briefly to a subject I've addressed in earlier postings ...

For the uninitiated, nautical miles (or sea miles) are not just ordinary miles measured across the sea and the word knots, expressing speed, is not just used to sound sailorly. A nautical mile measures about 1.15 statute miles or approximately 1.85 kilometers and knots - not "nauts" and NEVER "knots per hour" are a measure of speed expressed in nautical miles per hour.

Wikipedia is a much better source of the details than I am but basically the nautical mile results from the application of a branch of mathematics called "spherical trigonometry" to navigational problems. This was done consistently by mariners from the 1700s until present times. Though this form of navigation (astro navigation) has been largely replaced by satellite and inertial based methods, professional mariners are expected to be competent in its use. Airplanes also measure distances in nautical miles as they were navigated on long flights using the same techniques from the 1920s until the early 1970s when inertial navigation came into common use.

The use of "Knot" for "one nautical mile per hour" resulted from the use of a knotted rope unreeling in the wake of a sailing vessel to measure speed. The number of knots that unreeled during a sand-glass interval gave the speed. Amusingly, an informal survey I conducted revealed that few modern airline pilots have any idea why they describe their speeds in "knots" rather than, say, "nauts", "nauts per hour" or some other alternative.

All mention of "miles" in this blog thus refers to the nautical kind. That said, we have just over 2200 miles to run to Honolulu which, with luck, we should sail in about two weeks (of days and nights for anyone who thinks we ever stop). At this point, 31 days out of Valdivia Chile, the nearest points of land are the French Island of Clipperton, 830 miles to the east and the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia 1400 miles to our southwest. The nearest point in the Hawaiian Islands is Cape Kumukahi on the Big Island, 2000 miles distant.

At 2018-03-05 19:29 (utc) our position was 06°47.92'N 122°42.58'W

Friday, 2 March 2018

Crossing the Line

It is usual for only one or the other of us to see the sunrise each day, our watch change being slightly later at 8am, but today we were both up bright and early. The morning dawned cool with the sea temperature having dropped inexplicably, and probably temporarily, from 26C to 24C during the night. There was even dew on the deck. And then the special event ...

At 7:30 we crossed from the southern hemisphere to the northern at 119 degrees 20 minutes west longitude! A small ceremony marked the moment as we toasted King Neptune, tossed a jigger of rum into the sea so he could share our moment, and asked that his tolerance, blessing and good weather would continue to grace our journey north.

Another special event today was equally abstract. Every day, we plot our position on a large scale nautical chart thus feeling a measure of joy in watching the little "X"s marching across the map. This passage, though, doesn't fit on a single chart. Today (this is the special part) we reached the edge of the chart on which we see ourselves as further and further away from Valdivia. On the new chart, we can see where-we-are and Hawaii in a single glance and thus watch the paper distance left to sail diminish daily. An added bonus is that the new chart is at such a scale that we have the happy illusion of traveling further each day. In this world of sea and sky small things give great pleasure.

Our right turn of a few days ago is having its desired effect, making the most of the light breeze to move us towards the better winds a few hundred miles to the north. The trade winds are blowing just over 9 knots but that is enough to move us along over 6 knots, our heading having placed the wind at the Traversay's optimum angle. For the non-sailors, that's 11 km/h in a 16 km/h wind or 7 mph in an 11 mph wind.

In the short term, little changes. The real boundary between the different weathers of the two hemispheres is not at the equator but somewhat north of it, varying with the time of year. We expect our rather gentle southeast trades to continue unchanged for another two days until we reach 4 degrees north latitude. At that point we reach the standoff between those winds and the more boisterous northeast trades. As the converging trade winds collide, neither is willing to give way to the other so they simply go up. This results in two hundred miles of mostly calms interspersed, if the air is unstable, with violent squalls and torrential downpours. This region, the ITCZ, inter-tropical convergence or "doldrums", provokes almost every non-racing sailor, including us, to start their motor in exasperation and simply power through to the useful winds on the other side.

2600 nautical miles remain for us to sail (out of 6000 in total). Our nearest land today is the small French possession of Clipperton Island 870 miles to our northeast.

At 2018-03-02 15:29 (utc) our position was 00°04.62'N 119°25.43'W

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The moon is waxing

When I came out for my watch at 2000 last night, the moon was nearly full .. it will remain that way for a few glorious nights. Turning further north, we're travelling faster now. I reached up to grasp the steel of an overhead cross-bar in the surreal brightness. Every feature of the boat was sharply-etched. The white sails - straining under the heavy load of wind, the brightness of the metal holding me inside the cockpit and the gleaming wavecrests pounding past in an endless array ... I hung on and leaned back - looking up at the sails and feeling as if I were a racing horse. Wind coursed through my mane and erased the sweat on my unharnessed body ... I was ecstatic with the joy of speed! A few brave stars continued to twinkle from their distant posts - caught in the net spread over the sky. The sharp limits of color and outline made it feel like Trav and I were part of a fabulous art-deco poster.

After my off-watch sleep, I came out four hours later to find a greatly magnified moon. It was now a bright harvest orange and was resting on the horizon.

It's 0600 now and I'll go out with my coffee to watch the sun come out.

We've passed the halfway point in our trip to Honolulu ... Larry's route predictions are turning out to have been well-founded. We're currently experiencing good winds and these will carry us up to the desired optimal point for crossing the equator.

I made special meals to celebrate reaching the halfway point yesterday during my turn to cook. The advantages of using the pressure cooker to cook are beginning to be outweighed by the disadvantages of having blasts of steam during the hottest parts of the day. There's not a lot of air circulation - with our quick speed and the possibility of waves crashing over the deck - we're keeping most of our hatches closed. On the menu for lunch yesterday was 'Split Pea Soup with Cranberries and Apple Cider' (had to use white wine - see p.94 of my Great Pressure Cooker Cookbook) and 'Chicken Breasts with Peach Jam and Bourbon' (page 278). For this, not having peach jam I used some of Em Bergen's special jam and Scotch (OOPS - I can hear you screaming out there - what a WASTE of Glenlivet). But it had to be done - only partly because of a complete lack of bourbon on the boat ... but mostly for safety reasons. The cookbook chefs warned: "There's little chance the bourbon will ignite ... if it does, set the lid onto the cooker and take it off the heat ... " The leftover soup is frozen and will be disinterred sometime during the trip north to Canada (in a few months).

Meanwhile, I'll probably cook my share of meals at night after this ... cold pasta salads seem like a great idea.

At 2018-02-28 13:10 (utc) our position was 04°00.91'S 117°16.72'W