Saturday, April 30, 2011

Relaxing in paradise!

The island of Nuku Hivia is a beautiful place with steep mountains covered in lush vegetation. We get a couple of rain showers every day that keep Moondance clean and waters all those flowers and trees.

We are anchored in Taiohae Bay, which has population of approximately 1800 people. The bay lies in the remains of a volcanic crater with the caldera walls surrounding us. Can't wait to show you the pictures! There is about 20 boats anchored around us - most of them recently crossed the Pacific too. It has been fun catching up with everyone and telling are stories. The locals have been very nice to all of us cruisers and helping us find our way around, plus very forgiving of our terrible French! And fresh baquettes everywhere!

As mentioned, we have some projects to work on, so we think we will be here approximately 2 weeks. Plus, we are still catching up on our rest! Our main project, taking our jib down and over to the sail loft for some stitching. Doug's also been working on the generator, plus our dinghy sprang a leak (again) so more patches. Hope our dinghy makes it all the way to Hawaii. We are definitely going have to re-think having an inflatable dinghy - we have had lots of issues with it!

My big project - 3 weeks of laundry. Apparently, there isn't a laundrymat in town. There is a laundry service, but very expensive. So, I am going to be washing lots of clothes with my plunger!

We are still don't have access to the internet, but as soon as I do, I promise to upload some pictures!

Summary of our crossing: The Good, the Bad, and a little bit of the Ugly...

Overall, our crossing was just a longer version of our other sailing adventures - a lot longer. There is definitely a rhythm to living on a boat that is constantly moving and the days go very quickly. Because you are leaning and bouncing around, everything just takes longer - plus you get some pretty good bruises! On our best day, we sailed 168 miles; our worst day 96 miles. Having Brian aboard was a real asset - glad he is going to be with us for awhile.

We were all happy about completing our crossing in 22 days. The breakdown:

Good: We had some wonderful sailing days, beautiful sun and moon rises and sets, and caught some very tasty tuna, plus a great weight loss program.

Bad: Uncomfortable sailing conditions - mostly caused by waves crashing into us and lots of rockin' and rollin'. Makes it very difficult to sleep.

Ugly: Two bad weather nights where we converged in the cockpit trying to outrun or hide from big storms. We were fortunate there were only two of these.

We had a few things we could have done better and will improve on before our next crossing, but overall we did okay. Lots to celebrate for sure!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 22 - Made it!

We dropped anchored in Nuku Hiva at 1:30 pm local time and what a beautiful bay it is! I will give the details tomorrow and maybe even post some pictures this week. Today, we are relaxing and enjoying the wonderful view, plus visiting with our boat neighbors. We are pooped!

Happy 30th Birthday, Jenn - couldn't be more proud of you! Love Dad and Fern (and the crew of Moondance)

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 21 - Bring on da' funk!

Moondance stats:

LATITUDE: 07-23.92S; LONGITUDE: 138-02.19W
24 HOUR RUN: 151m

We are all good - dodging rain storms this afternoon - but all good.

Moondance is a different story though. It has been over 3 weeks since we left La Cruz, and Moondance is funky inside and out. Dead fish on the deck, a squid inked us, serious goobers in the cockpit, and everything is covered in salt (greasy) - and that is just the top sides. Plus, we have tons of stinky laundry building up - yuck! Not much we can do about it at sea though, but she needs a good cleaning and a visit to the laundry!

We still plan to be anchored in Taiohae Bay on Nuku Hiva tomorrow afternoon - about 24 hours from now. Even if the wind doesn't cooperate, we've all ready decided to turn the engine on - at least Brian and I have. Captain Doug might have a mutiny afoot if he doesn't go along with it! It is hard to believe we are almost there. After dropping our anchor, we plan to throw a party and do some serious R&R'ing for a couple of days, and then we will start on our projects. We definitely deserve a break!

Looks like we are having fresh Dorado for dinner tonight. We almost had two, but one didn't take the hook. May we have one more, please? Can't have too much fresh fish!

Biggest Loser - have you seen that show? Well, we haven't, but have heard about it. We think they should do a Pacific crossing. What a great way to lose weight and tone up. You should see how good Doug and Brian are looking. Hubba Hubba!

Next post - picture me anchored in a beautiful bay sipping a cocktail. Ahhhh....

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 20 - Zoom Zoom

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 05-33.44S; LONGITUDE: 136-22.53W
DISTANCE TO NUKU HIVA, MARQUESAS: 301m (whoops - bad data reported yesterday)
24 HOUR RUN: 168m

We are doing much better today, thank you! We all slept well and have been covering some ground - our best 24 hour run so far - 168 miles. Yahoo! Even Moondance wants to see land and take a much deserved break. If all goes well, we should be in Nuku Hiva by Thursday afternoon. Starting to get excited!

The wind has been on our beam 15 - 20 knots and we have been on the same course for 3 days. Only minor tweaks needed to the rigging to keep us on course and no squalls to report - that's a good thing. We should be able to coast right into the harbor. It sure is a lot easier on the crew - everyone looks very relaxed and it is Shower Day - double bonus!

Finally, we are going to enjoy our Easter dinner tonight. A little late, but I am sure we are going to love it. Blueberry pancakes for breakfast and pork tenderloin for dinner - things are looking up for sure on Moondance.

We have been thumbing through all of our South Pacific cruising books thinking about all of the wonderful things we are going to see and do now that the passage is almost over. Also, thinking about where we want to go next. My vote, the Australs. There is an island there, Raivavae, that is supposed to be the most beautiful island in the South Pacific, but not many see it because it is off the beaten path. Now, that's quite a claim. We will let you know if it is true!

Still zooming along...

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 19 - Dodging storms

Moondance stats:

LATITUDE: 03-43.33S; LONGITUDE: 134-17.84W
24 HOUR RUN: 113m

All's well aboard Moondance! We are little tired and cranky, but doing okay. We spent the last 24 hours dodging storms and were fairly successful - only got rained on once. Of course, all of these storms create lots of rough seas, so we didn't get much sleep either. Doug and I actually just slept in the cockpit and took turns on watch. Wasn't so bad - at least we had company.

Only one incident to report. Doug and I were in the cockpit talking. Doug looks over my shoulder and his eyes get very big. Next thing I know a big wave hit me on the back, knocked me off my seat, and onto the floor. No worries though - I was tethered in and wasn't going any where. Sure woke me up though!

Today, we have 15 - 20 knots of wind, so we are making up some time. It is definitely not a smooth ride though (picture me typing with a death grip on the Nav Station). Hopefully, the rough seas will start to flatten as the storms settle down. We have only had to dodge a couple today, so things are looking up.

Not much else to report - still haven't had our Easter dinner. Oh well!

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day 18 - Got wind - lots f wind!

Moondance stats:

LATITUDE: 01-29.17S; LONGITUDE: 131-20.76W
COURSE: 231T; SPEED: 5.3
24 HOUR RUN: 115m

Moondance crew is doing well. Right after our post yesterday, the wind kicked up and we have been sailing since. Of course, now we have lots of wind, plus throw in some big clouds and some scattered rain showers. That's what our day looks like - dodging rain clouds. So far, we have been successful - hope it continues!

So, Easter dinner just might be sandwiches and not the beautiful pork tenderloin I have marinating. Oh well, it will keep. And, I was wrong, I was talked into making SPAM and Mac-n-Cheese for dinner last night. My review: Not Bad!

Funnies - Doug and I were sitting in the cockpit last night and something caught my eye as it fell to the cockpit floor. It was fluttering, so I asked Doug to pick it up. He reached down, grabbed it, and squealed - just like a girl! All over a little ol' flying fish. Doug quickly got it back in the water. It was pretty darn funny!

Well, better get back to Storm Watch with Doug and Brian.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 17 - Still motoring along!

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 01-28.61S; LONGITUDE: 131-20.08W
COURSE: 230T; SPEED: 5.4
24 HOUR RUN: 117m

Everyone is just fine on board Moondance. A little tired, but just fine. We have been motoring for over 24 hours and there just isn't any wind yet, but there are lots of rolly waves with a very unique rhythm. I actually woke up clutching the mattress just so I could stay in one spot - oh my! So none of us slept well last night. But, that's okay - we got lots of time to nap today because there isn't much happening around here!

We are still hoping that the winds kick up soon so that we can turn the engine off. We know we do not carry enough fuel to get us to Nuku Hiva - we have to sail. We need to reserve our fuel for entering the harbor, running the generator, making water, etc.. So if wind doesn't blow soon, we will be bobbing around like a cork - doesn't that sound like fun (not)!

All are anxious to make landfall, but the crew seems to be handling life at sea. We definitely have more room now that we have eaten and drank our way through some of our provisions. Moondance almost looks normal again - well if you don't count the 8 rolls of paper towels and 36 rolls of toilet paper on the settee/couch. Every home should have it so handy! We still have lots of fresh fruit and some veggies left, plus tons of canned stuff. Doug and Brian swear that SPAM is an excellent staple - I am not sure I will ever get that desperate.

Doug is all ready working on our repair list that we will work on in Nuku Hiva like...

- running a new halyard for the spinnaker
- repairing some minor tears on the jib/head sail
- re-attaching the vang (which controls the boom)

Not too bad considering how many miles we have put on this rig this year!

Of course, we are definitely going to have some much deserved R&R before any work starts. Nuku Hiva has 5 stores, 2 banks, a post office, an Inn, and a bar (yeah!). I think we are going to have to check them all out! Plus, there are supposed to be some wonderful hikes and waterfalls. Hope we are there long enough to explore and get our land legs back!

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 16 - Crossed the Equator - finally!

Moondance stats:

LATITUDE: 00-08.65S; LONGITUDE: 129-54.60W
COURSE: 224T; SPEED: 4.9
24 HOUR RUN: 110m

And all is still well on board Moondance. We crossed the Equator at 18:31 GMT today, but we are sorry to report that there wasn't a line, the waters didn't part, and there wasn't a parade - very disappointing! But, we had a mini-celebration and shared a toast of grog with Neptune asking for fair winds and more tuna!

Unfortunately, since we crossed over, we haven't had any wind. After spending some time bouncing around trying to sail, we gave up and turned on the engine. Here, we were just bragging about going almost 2000 miles without using it - that will teach us! Based on the weather reports, we won't be getting any wind until tomorrow (hopefully). So, we are enjoying (not) the sounds and smells of the ol' stink pot, but taking advantage of it and charging all of our systems. Always the silver lining.

To celebrate the big event, I baked buttermilk biscuits and brownies. I know, an interesting combination, but I wanted to get all of the baking done early. And for sure, it's our hottest day so far. Things are heating up!

I wanted to mention a few regrets I have - just for the record:

- I should have started my French lessons a long time ago - merdi
- Wish I would have gotten a haircut - bouncing around with scissors in my hand seems a bit dangerous
- We shouldn't have bought so many tomatoes - we have been tossing a few over daily

I guess that's not such a bad list considering...

Miss everyone!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 15 - Let it snow?

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 01-18.99N; LONGITUDE: 128-55.78W
COURSE: 215T; SPEED: 6.1
DISTANCE TO NUKU HIVA, MARQUESAS: 922m (adjusting for not going in a straight line!)
24 HOUR RUN: 118

Moondance crew is doing just fine! Of course, wakening up at 3am for my watch this morning to the sounds of "Let it snow, Let it snow..." got me a little disoriented, but I recovered! Moondance plays music 24 x 7 (almost) through our Itouch and Brian's Zen, so you never know what you are going to hear next. Apparently, our playlist needs some work - there are lots of Christmas songs. Oh well, I like them!

The winds and seas are pushing us directly to the Marquesas, so we are going along with it. It extends our time crossing the Equator, but you gotta go with the flow. We have been experiencing 15 - 20 knots of winds all day. The seas are still confused, but not uncomfortable. Hopefully, all will settle tonight so we sleep well.

People always ask what you do on night watches. Are you bored? Scared? Etc.? So, I thought I would share my activities during my night watches:

Singing, dancing, whistling, doing a jig - all of the above
Reading and writing - picture me with my red head lamp on - dead sexy
Personal hygiene - mani's, pedi's, plucking, and more fun stuff
Exercising - not much room, but good for stretches
Snacking - all of those things you have the will power to ignore during the day
And the best, relaxing, thinking of family and friends, and watching the sea and sky sail past

A wonderful experience!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 14 - 2 weeks down and we are sailing along!

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 02-54.78N; LONGITUDE: 127-53.07W
COURSE: 233T; SPEED: 5.2
24 HOUR RUN: 110m

And all is well aboard Moondance! So far, the ITCZ and the Doldrums have been very good to us. For the last 3 days, we have been sailing along with winds averaging 10 - 15 knots, plus fairly mild seas. Yesterday, the seas got a little confused - mixing the waters from the South Pacific with the North Pacific, but not bad at all. The squalls definitely affect the wind speed, but only for a short period of time. Listening to other cruisers who are ahead of us and were sitting dead calm in the water, we are very fortunate.

We are definitely getting the hang of dodging the squalls and even decided to plow through one today. It was a minor one and saved us a couple of hours of trying to dodge it. A little bit of rain never hurt anyone, did it?

We are enjoying the 89 degree air temps, plus the water temp is 86 degrees. Can't wait to hop in it once we make landfall - of course Doug says the Marquesas will be a bit cooler! We are seeing some amazing sun and moon activities, plus several double rainbows. What a view!

Can't believe it has been 2 weeks since we left Cabo - boy, time is flying by. Today, the winds are heading us more Southwest - directly to the Marquesas. Since our course has altered a bit, we won't be hitting the Equator as soon as we thought, but that's okay too.

Our best guess is that we will be in Nuku Hiva in approximately 8 days. Of course, that's if the winds keep pushing us along. The Moondance crew seems to be handling the passage just fine and no mutiny is afoot at this time!

The evil pressure cooker is out again today, but seems to be behaving. Since the guys didn't catch a fish, we are having Cuban beans with Andouille sausage and some fresh Sourdough bread. Not fish, but should be pretty darn tasty.

Hope all is well with you too!

PS: Drank the last Diet Coke today - c'est la vie.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 13 - Amazing

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 04-32.13N; LONGITUDE: 127-17.59W
COURSE: 196T; SPEED: 4.8
24 HOURS RUN: 105m

And all is well aboard Moondance! We have been sailing for 2 days through the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and it is truly amazing. All around us are these HUGE cumulus cloud formations filled with faces and characters from my imagination - I even saw the Wicked Witch of the West go by on her broom, plus all of the farms animals and Disney characters - very entertaining. Doug and Brian think that I am nuts for sure!

We have spent the last two days (and nights) sailing through these cloud formations, which quickly turn into huge squalls. So far, we have been very lucky and have only been doused by a few. 4 am this morning was one of those times! But, the water is warm, there are no big wind or big waves associated with these squalls (at least for now. They usually just give us some nice sailing winds and we get very wet. But, we are getting smarter and more prepared each time. We are minimizing how much we get wet and how long, so we are doing just fine.

We have been taking advantage of the warm, sunny days and drying out our belongings. Good thing no one is around - we look like a laundry mat!

Today, we finished up the last of our Yellow Fin Tuna - guess we need to catch some more! Doug made Poke for dinner. Here's the recipe - you are going to love it!

Maui Ahi Poke

o 2 lbs fresh ahi tuna
o 1 small round onion, julienne cut ( Maui Onions preferred)
o 3 green onions, diced
o 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated fresh ginger
o 3 finely diced garlic cloves
o 1/2 cup soy sauce
o 1 teaspoon sesame oil
o 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
o 1 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce ( Rooster Brand)
o 1 teaspoon hawaiian sea salt or 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Cut Ahi into at least 1/2" cubes - set aside & refrigerate.
2. Combine all other ingredients in a large glass bowl & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. When ready to serve toss Ahi and other ingredients together.
4. Serve on chilled platter with chopsticks or toothpicks.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 12 - Tuna and squalls!

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 06-37.46N; LONGITUDE: 126-53.41W
COURSE: 186T; SPEED: 5.7
DISTANCE TO GO: 1108m - to the Marquesas - over half way there!
24 HOUR RUN: 118m

All's well aboard Moondance, but we have had some excitement for sure - too much!

Yesterday afternoon, we had just pulled in two more Yellow Fin Tuna's (another double catch) and were relaxing when we were blindsided by a squall. We were definitely not prepared! But, we got through it and were just starting to breath again when found more squalls were on our radar - big ones. So, we spent all night staring at the radar and weaving around the squalls. We were hit by some of the wind and rain, but missed the brunt of the storms. Whew - we were exhausted this morning though!

All weather forecasts stated that there was lots of convection (thunderstorm generators) in the area and the recommendation was to start our southerly route to the Equator. We did just that first thing this morning. There were some big squalls we were keeping on eye on, but only got hit by a good rain shower. Now, the skies are bright blue with scattered clouds and we are enjoying a nice leisurely sail - beautiful. We will definitely be keeping an eye out for more squalls, but hope to have avoided the big ones. If the winds hold, we should cross the Equator in 3 days. Better get busy with my party prep!

Our daily chores include participating in 3 different radio "nets". These nets are through our Single-Side Band Radio (SSB) and we state our position, course, wind and waves, etc. and let them know that all are well aboard Moondance. It also gives us the opportunity to find about how our cruising buddies are doing, plus collect weather data. It is really interesting, but I just haven't got the hang of the jargon: how copy, roger roger, whiskey delta echo, blah blah blah. Plus, I have to wait for my turn to talk. That's not easy for me - of course you know that!

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 11 - Thanks!

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 07-32.36N; LONGITUDE: 125-53.64W
DISTANCE TO GO: 1226m - to the Marquesas!
24 HOUR RUN: 131m

All is well aboard Moondance. Especially now that we got some wind and rain - thanks for sending it our way! The wind has been blowing steady since last night and we are making good time, plus Moondance got a much needed fresh water bath. Life is good! As we sailed along with the full moon last night, we were surrounded by rain showers and lightening storms. The radar actually displays the rain showers. At one time, there were at least 4 different storms within a 12 mile radius of us. Quite a site.

The fresh tuna for dinner was excellent last night. Doug has definitely perfected searing the tuna. The fishing lines have been in the water all day hoping for a repeat performance, but nothing yet. Looks like it's a leftover night. Oh well!

We are still 450 miles from the Equator. If all goes well, we will change direction in the next couple of days and start heading due South. Seems like we should be there by now, but winds and currents are always challenging us. So far, no one is complaining - we've all settled into a very nice daily routine and enjoying the ride and the experiences.

Happy Anniversary, David and Lynette!

**Moondance stats are a little off since we don't sail in a straight line, but it is close!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 10 - Trade Winds, are you sure?

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 08-46.83N; LONGITUDE: 124-06.47W
COURSE: 245T; SPEED: 4.2
DISTANCE TO GO: 1357m - to the Marquesas!
24 HOUR RUN: 125m

Moondance and crew are doing just fine, but we are wondering where those constant Trade Winds are hiding? Not where we are for sure! We have been making forward progress towards the Equator, but it has been slow. Do I have to ask everyone to send us another Norther? I am sure you are all tired of them, but we sure like the wind they send our way!

Doug and Brian brought in a couple more Yellow Fin Tuna's this afternoon, another double catch, so we know what's for dinner! They aren't as big as the last ones, but they sure look good. A dolphin followed the tuna right up to our boat. Not sure if he was just checking things out or was going for an easy meal. Too bad - we beat him too it!

Our boat systems and equipment are all working well - except for the evil spinnaker. We turn the generator on every 3 or 4 days to charge our batteries, plus make water. The water tastes wonderful! Doug has had to make a few repairs along the way, but nothing major - thank goodness. We found that our Jib (sail) has a few seams in the Sunbrella that need re-stitched, but we will wait until we get to the Marquesas for that. So, things are holding up just fine - thanks to Doug!

We still have lots of fresh food on board, but are running out of some things - we are sure going to miss those wonderful mangos! We have plenty of tomatoes though and they are all ripening up at the same time. So, we can either have food fights or make some spaghetti or soup. I am betting we skip the food fight - Moondance is funky enough!

Please send us some wind!

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 9 - The Evil Spinnaker

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 09-52.66N; LONGITUDE: 122-21.57W
COURSE: 237T; SPEED: 5.5kn
DISTANCE TO GO: 1482m - to the Marquesas!
24 HOUR RUN: 114m

All is well with the Moondance crew, but our spinnaker is not looking so good! We all slept well and woke up to a beautiful, sunny day. The winds were light, but going in our direction, so we decided to fly our spinnaker. Very nice ride until... the spinnaker halyard broke off and the spinnaker was floating in the water. Yikes! Doug and Brian did an excellent job of getting the big sail back on to the boat where it is currently drying out. The really bad news is that we won't be able to fix the problem until we hit land in the Marquesas. We are really going to miss it as we cross the Equator and through the Doldrums...

Evil Spinnaker = 2; Moondance = 1

Other than that, all is good. The weather and water are warming up daily, so we are going in the right direction. We are starting to put away those warm clothes - yeah!

You missed an excellent breakfast this morning. French toast made with homemade Sourdough French bread with a splash of Fern's homemade orange liqueur, plus some bacon (of course). Doug must have been dreaming about it all night, because he woke up with a hankering!

Ramblings... I have two night watches: 9pm - 11pm and 3am - 5am. The 9pm watch is painful because I am all ready thinking about bed and I getting very sleepy, but it goes fast. I love the 3am watch - it is beautiful and quiet especially now that the clouds are clearing. All you see is the moon, stars, and lots and lots of water. Which leaves lots of time for thinking. My thoughts last night - we have been constantly moving for 9 days without using the engine - only our sails - never stopping. We go on with our daily activities of eating, drinking, sleeping, projects, etc. and Moondance just keeps moving us closer and closer to French Polynesia. A strangely comforting feeling.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 8 - Special treats

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 11-39.24N; LONGITUDE: 122-23.56W
COURSE: 188T; SPEED: 6.1kn
DISTANCE TO GO: 1596m - to the Marquesas!
24 HOUR RUN: 136m

Moondance and Crew are doing just fine. Amazing what a good nights sleep and some sunshine will do for you! We finally found the wind we were looking for last night: 20 - 25 knots and a smooth ride. We all took advantage and slept like babes while off watch.

Today, we are in position and sailing due south towards the Equator. Oops - we aren't 400 miles from the Equator as reported yesterday - we are 700! But we had another nice sunny day and great sailing. So this is why everyone loves the Trade Winds!

We haven't seen a boat for days. We constantly monitor our radar, but know that we are alone - very alone. Our only other companions are birds and dolphins and the occasional squid or flying fish that land on our deck. A flying fish actually jumped into the cockpit and tried to snuggle with Brian the other day. He handled it very well - I would have had a heart attack!

We splurged and had a huge feast for supper today: pork tenderloin (Lorenzo style), baked potato, brussell sprouts, and homemade Sourdough French bread. It all turned out very well - especially considering I accidentally dumped the tenderloin and got it stuck in the back of the oven. Doug had to save the tenderloin and me! Sometimes it feels like the Lucille Ball show when I am in the galley/kitchen. Due to the wind and wave conditions, we haven't been able to BBQ. I miss the BBQ and I miss Doug doing all of the cooking. Oh well - I will get the hang of it - and so far, no one is complaining!

Another treat today - Hot Showers and the Moondance crew lined up for them. When Doug charges the batteries using the generator, it makes lots of hot water. It felt so good and we all smell and feel so much better. Doug even put clean sheets on our bed. Now, that is living right.

Based on the weather reports, our good sailing weather should be continuing, so another great sleep ahead for all. Yeah!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 7 - 1 week down; 2 to go?

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 12-36.70N; LONGITUDE: 120-41.13W
COURSE: 248T; SPEED: 4.9
DISTANCE TO GO: 1732m - to the Marquesas!
24 HOUR RUN: 142m

All aboard are fine, just a little tired and crabby. We had a bumpy ride last night, so no one slept too well. And today, we spent the day adjusting sails, changing courses, etc. in order to cross the Equator between 7N 125W and 4N 130W. This is supposed to be the shortest route (at this time) through the Doldrums. We are still 400 miles away from the Equator, but the winds and waves are fighting us again!

We tried to hoist the spinnaker today too, but had all kinds of trouble. After two tries and making a mess, we decided to give it a rest and try again tomorrow. Poor Brian, he had no idea what cruising was going to be like! Spinnaker 1 = Moondance 0

Damages: On this trip so far, we lost 1 boat hook, broke 2 bowls and 1 glass, and 1 winch handle went overboard. Guess we are going to have to be more careful, but it is kind of hard when everything is bouncing around you.

Today was the first warm, sunny day that we have had since leaving Cabo - it felt very nice. We even have a beautiful moon to guide us across the water tonight. Night watches under the moon and stars - just amazing!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 6 - Wasn't meant to be...

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 13-52.55N; LONGITUDE: 118-47.29W
COURSE: 212T; SPEED: 5.8
DISTANCE TO GO: 1874 - to the Marquesas!
24 HOUR RUN: 131m

First, all is well on Moondance.

Second, we made a decision last night to change our course from the Gambiers to the Marquesas. We were really hoping that the wind and waves would cooperate and we could reach the Gambiers easily, but Neptune had other ideas. Doug estimated that it would take an "additional" 5 days to reach the Gambiers due to course adjustments. We decided that it just wasn't meant to be.

Instead, we have all agreed to set our course for the Marquesas and it is only 1874 miles a way - about 16 days southwest of us! While we are disappointed, we know it is the right thing to do, plus all of the other Puddle Jumpers will be there. It will be fun seeing everyone and hearing the stories. From there, we will sail to the Tuamotus, Australs, and then Tahiti by June 20. It will all work out just fine.

We were surprised that it has almost been a week since we left Cabo and not one of us have picked up a book to read - we have been too busy! The boat is loaded with books we have collected just waiting for a long passage, but our days are filled. Besides constant adjustments to sails, rigging, and instruments, things just take longer. Some examples -

Washing dishes underway - I have gotten very good at picking them up as they slide by, but it is a challenge. Doug's words today "Nice grab"!

Sorting our daily trash to make sure no plastics go overboard. It is legal, but not good for the environment.

Rotating our eggs, fruits, and veggies to keep them from spoiling.

Dodging flying objects when opening lockers and re-organizing them (again). Yes, some things do shift around underway.

So, things are interesting at sea. I actually saw Doug Moonwalk across the cabin in his socks the other day as the boat rocked side-to-side. Now that is a site to see!

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 5 - A differnt heading

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 15-00.68N; LONGITUDE: 117-13.22W
COURSE: 184T; SPEED: 6.8
DISTANCE TO GO: 2465nm ++
24 HOUR RUN: 153nm

All's well aboard Moondance except the crew is a little tired. We had good wind all night and we covered some ground, but the waves made sleeping very difficult. Brian was a trooper and manned the helm for many hours so that Doug and I could get some rest (I slept the best in the cockpit). A couple cups of coffee and Brian was good to go until almost dawn. Great crew we have!

Today, we changed our course from South West to due South so that we have a shot of hitting the Gambiers. We are officially in the Trade Winds and should have steady winds (hopefully not waves) until we hit the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) or the Doldrums. That's a whole 'nother story. Due to the direction the winds have taken us, our course will be a little longer than planned - of course!

We are stilling running wing-n-wing and making good time. We had calm seas this morning, which was wonderful, but it looks like the big waves are back and that we might be in for another night of rock-n-roll. Oh well!

Changing course meant we had to shuffle everything to the other side of the boat to keep it from flying across later. We are getting smarter! Of course, now we have to get use to leaning the other way. Good work out for those other muscles!

Miss everyone and hope you are well!

PS: If you want a visual map of our journey, click the "Where is Moondance" link at the top right of the blog. I update our position daily.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 4 - Still flying wing-n-wing

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 16-38.37N; LONGITUDE: 115-34.92W
COURSE: 234T; SPEED: 7.2kn
24 HOUR RUN: 143nm

All is well on board and we having been zipping along for sure! We have been running wing-n-wing for over 24 hours and making excellent time. Our average speed was almost 6 knots, but our top speed was 13 knots - oh my. Unfortunately, the seas have been a little too big for our taste and erratic. Doug was watching some 12 footers roll by, which makes the ride a little uncomfortable. But Moondance is handling it all well and we are safe. We just hope things settle down before nightfall so that get a good sleep.

Our weather is cold and cloudy still. Last night, it was so dark, you couldn't separate the water from the sky. Brian thinks we have kidnapped him - he signed up for the tropical cruise - not the penguin cruise. Me too!

Doug and Brian are working well together, plus having some fun. Yesterday, they re-rigged our whisker pole to use separate lines (guys) instead of the jib sheets. This allows us to bring the jib down easily if we hit a storm, plus add some stability/strength to the rig. Brian got an excellent workout as our Grinder! Safety first though - they are tethered to the boat at all times when out of the cockpit.

Pressure cookers - never have liked them! I still remember my Grandma's horror stories. But, Doug convinced me to use it to make Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage today. We didn't blow up, but the dumb pressure cooker burned our supper. Oh well, the corn muffins were tasty!

Wing-n-wing: one sail (our main) flying on the port side of the boat; one sail (our jib) flying on the starboard side. It is an excellent way to sail when the wind is behind you.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 3 - Duldrums all ready?

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 18-21.27N; LONGITUDE: 113-55.27W
COURSE: 208T; SPEED: 5.6kt
24 HOUR RUN: 96nm

All is well - Moondance and crew are doing fine. We just haven't covered much ground in 24 hours! We had 6 hours of no wind last night, but were lucky that a little current kept us going in the right direction. We were happy to see the wind pick up and the sun is shining. Doug and Brian have been experimenting with downwind sailing. First, the spinnaker. It didn't stay up very long - the wind was too unsettled. Then, wing-on-wing. That seems to be moving us along very well, so we are going to stick with it. Per the weather gurus, starting tonight we should be getting good steady winds from the north. We shall see!

Our watch schedule seems to be working out well: 2 hours on; 4 hours off. With 3 of us on board, it means that Doug and I actually get to sleep together for 2 whole hours - whoopee! The Kitchen Winch (that's me) does 2 night watches, but no day watches. I think it will work out well as long as I put semi-good food on the table and on time. Today, the Butter Chicken Curry was good, but the pita bread could have been used for hockey pucks. Oh well, the guys ate them.

It is pretty quiet out her. We only saw one other boat yesterday - a shrimper - and no one is chatting on the VHF. A few birds fly by to check on us, but that's about it. Our fishing lines are in the water, but no bites yet. So, there is lots of time to watch the beautiful blue water pass us by and reflect on our adventure.

PS: French is a very hard language!

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 2 - Settling in...

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 19-25.31N; LONGITUDE: 112-45.34W
COURSE: 212T; SPEED: 6.0kt
24 HOUR RUN: 134nm

And all is well on board. We are a little tired, but doing well. Last night was a little bumpy and winds erratic, so none of us got a real good nights sleep. Today, Doug and Brian have been making adjustment on the sails, anchors, and whatever else is rattling. Tonight should be much better. We have been on the same starboard tack since leaving Cabo, so everything is leaning and falling out of the lockers. We even had to change which end of the bed we were sleeping on, plus it was challenge keeping the pear/papaya cobbler in the pan and in the oven!

Weather and water temps are warming up - yeah! For awhile, we thought Doug had tricked us and was taking us North.

We are passing through the Socorro Islands now - we can't see them, but know that they are out there. This is the last bit of land we will be anywhere near for a very long time. Fishing lines are back in the water and we are hoping for Dorado or Pargo - well anything except Bonita.

Thinking of you all and hoping you are all well and happy.

Provisioning tip: Couscous flies and should not be eaten in the cockpit on a windy day - what a mess!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 1

Moondance Stats:

LATITUDE: 21-11.61N; LONGITUDE: 111-21.93W
COURSE: 213T, SPEED: 6.3kt
24 HOUR RUN: 130nm

And all is well aboard Moondance! We have had 8 to 15 knots of steady wind since we left Cabo San Lucas and moderate seas, so Moondance is cruising right along. The crew is happy and healthy and enjoying the ride and the beautiful blue of the ocean. Of course, there isn't much else to look at! We have seen a couple of boats in the distance, some dolphins, whales, and a turtle swam by - that's it.

We have a contest aboard to see who can guess how many days our sail to Mangareva, Gambier Islands will be:

Carla 27
Brian 25
Doug 23

We are all hoping that Doug will win! The prize - the winner doesn't have to do the next night watch and can party till the dogs come home - hah!

Our only complaint, it is sunny and COLD. But, we can handle that as long as the wind and waves are cooperating!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crossing over...

Well, we only cruised 287 miles to Cabo San Lucas, but it seems like a whole 'nother world!
Goodbye Amigos!

This place is wild with cruise ships, jet skis, and lots of sunburned tourists!

We had a wonderful send off from our fellow cruisers in La Cruz on Saturday - Thank You.  We hope to see all of them again somewhere!

Brian enjoying his coffee!
It was a great shakedown cruise from Puerto Vallerta. We got to see lots of different kinds of weather and seas - from nothing to 25 knots - when we least expected it.

Plus, lots of salt water crashing over the bow - oh my!

Moondance and crew held up very well!

Dolphins off the bow - beautiful!
We had a wonderful dolphin show along the way.

They came to play in our wake, plus chased some wonderful Yellow Fin Tuna our way.

Thanks for the fish!

Surfing Tuna

We've never caught two fish at one time, but Doug and Brian handled it very well.

No mess, no fuss, but excellent eating!

Dinner preparations

Depending on our findings in the morning, it looks like our weather window is here - yeah!

Time to get this party started. We are so ready!

This will be our last post with pictures, but promise to blog daily so you can check up on us.

Love to all - Carla, Doug, and Brian!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sushi on Moondance -

Bring your chopsticks!

We were watching an amazing dolphin show this afternoon and were surprised to find two wonderful Yellow Fin Tuna's on our lines. Yummy! Brian and Doug did an excellent job of getting them on board, cleaned, and ready for dinner.

Wish you were here!

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We left Puerto Vallerta/Banderas Bay on Saturday as planned - unusual for us! We had a little wind for awhile, but it was pushing us the wrong direction. So, we decided that we would motor to Cabo San Lucas, refuel, and wait for the Trade Winds to fill - hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday. All of our Amigos in the USA and Canada - please send us a Norther!

We are considering this our shakedown cruise - getting our sea legs, finishing up some projects, etc. We are also hoping to catch a fish for dinner!

The sun is shining, a breeze is blowing, and the men are relaxing in the cockpit! All is well aboard Moondance.

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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Adios Mexico; Bonjour French Polynesia!

After 15 years of dreaming and scheming, it's finally time to sail to those beautiful French Polynesian islands - white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters, and lots of fish (sharks) - oh my!
Moondance crew 2011
Brian, our crew member, is on board (yeah) and Moondance is shipshape and ready to sail.

We have stuffed all of the lockers with 4 months of provisioning, spare parts, and fuel. We are out of room and water line!

We are leaving Puerto Vallarta/Banderas Bay today.  We hope to find some wind out there.  If not, we will motor/sail to Cabo San Lucas, refuel, and wait for a weather window.

We want to catch the Trade Winds that will sail us across the Equator and all the way to French Polynesia - what a ride!

Moondance crew 2000

Yeah, it took a little longer than we anticipated and we are a little older than we wanted to be, but we have learned so much a long the way and have seen and done so many wonderful things and met some amazing people - time flew by!

Thank You to all of our family and friends who have supported us along the way - you have kept us going!

Our current sail plan: Mexico, Gambiers, Australs, Societies, Marquesas, and the Hawaiian islands for the winter. Doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Come and see us sometime - we would love to have you aboard Moondance.

Only 3130 nautical miles to go!