About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Passage Notes: New Zealand to Vanuatu

Yee-hah, Bravo is back in cruising mode once again!!! Our under-7-day passage went very well, all things considered. Leaving NZ, it didn't take too long to get our sailing mojo back, though we both felt pretty damned rusty. (Hoisting the mainsail...no reefing lines are lead....oh, yeah, meant to get to those!!!)

Had a terrific 1st day of sailing up the beautiful coast of the north island in a perfect 15-20 knot westerly breeze. Felt wonderful to finally be underway, after nearly 2 years based out of NZ (and the 9 months in Oz). Things got a bit light on the 2nd day, winds had clocked right behind us at around 10 knots, and seas, though not too big at first, were on the beam.....VERY rolly conditions.

Finally started up the engine on the 2nd night, as the winds continued to drop into single digits, and seas stayed on the beam....yuchh. Wound up motoring through a 1028 high pressure system for nearly 60 hours....killed a heap of dinosaurs on this trip.

All of this time, all systems were working splendidly. The new charging systems worked fine, and the lithium batteries and bms were all behaving like champs. Sweet as.

At about mid voyage, on the 4th day, the wind returned, and we finally shut down the engine. Winds were still light and behind us, say 12 knots, but enough to keep the rolly boat moving along, and the peace and quiet were a serious treat. Had a few albatrosses join us, diving and skimming the water for hours on end.

And then things went a bit pear shaped. We turned on the generator to make water w/ the A/C powered watermaker, and top up the batteries. (We use quite a bit of power on passage, with all instruments running 24/7, and Otto our trusty autopilot getting his usual beefy boy workout.) Genset fired up normally, as did the battery charger. But when the switches were thrown on the watermaker, it started initially, then shut down pumps and lights. Ruh-row, this can't be good. I figured perhaps a breaker had tripped, but nothing looked out of sorts on the new AC panel. Genset voltage and frequency looked normal on all meters. But the AC breakers that are fed through the inverter/charger were dark. (includes all house outlets AND the all important watermaker) The other 4 were live (water heater, charger, and spares). And I noticed that the breaker for the hot water heater had been inadvertently been left in the "on" position. We were certainly overloading the capacity by running the charger, watermaker, and water heater all at once. Not good.

Serious business, in fact. For we now had no way to make water except off the batteries, making AC with the inverter. But this takes about 150 amps of DC, and will quickly drain the batteries. And we can now only charge the batteries w/ solar (its been cloudy....) or our main engine alternator, which is not large, only putting out about 75 amps. Double ruh-row

OK, that was our big mishap. Otherwise, a very decent passage. A bit frustrating, as once the breeze finally filled, we did the math and realized that in order to arrive in Vanuatu in daylight hours, we needed to start slowing down about 2 days before arrival. Just when the sailing was becoming amazingly good at last. Meant greatly shortening sail, once again creating VERY ROLLY sailing, with the reduced pressure on the rig. Ughhhhh, sleep was especially tough.

Arrived here at Aneityum Island at dawn today in a terrific 20 knot south easterly, nearly 7 days after departure. Felt wonderful to get the anchor down in this completely sheltered harbor (at least from this wind and sea direction). And the obligatory anchor beer to wash down the bacon and egg breakfast could not have been sweeter!!! We got the boat cleaned up, flying our yellow quarantine flag to await the arrival of customs and immigration folks. (we had received advance permission via email to clear in here, not a regular port of entry). There are 2 other yachts here, one British and one Australian who have already cleared in. They said if we wait until tomorrow, a cruise ship will be paying a visit, and the inspectors will come to the boat then. There's no real village here, so our other option would be to head to shore and ask around for "the policeman" who can give us temporary permission to go ashore. Think we'll catch up on sleep and wait until tomorrow's BIG EVENT.

So all in all, a very good passage. Bravo performed beautifully, in winds from very light to 30 knots. It felt wonderful to be on the ocean again, even if a bit rusty. Now, if we can just figure what is FUBAR with the charging system...

Sorry for the lack of photos. We have no internet here, and this post is coming via ham radio email.

Distance: 1010 nautical miles
Time: 6 days, 20 hours (inc 2 days of deliberate slowness for daylight arrival)
Fishing: WAY too rolly, with the seas, up to around 3 meters, on the beam nearly the entire trip.
Stuff broken:
Charging system, a biggy
Tiny chafe hole in our beautiful new mainsail, caused by our boom preventer touching a drooping fold in the reefed sail. Easy repair, NOT a biggy.

Cheers all....more to follow when we're allowed off the boat!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Passage NZ to Vanuatu - Day 1

We cleared customs this morning at the marina office. All went fine. Really felt terrific to get underway at around 10:30, though gotta say, we don´t yet have our sea legs!!! Funny how that happens.

Exiting the harbor, we prepared to hoist the main in a freshening sou westerly breeze around 15-20kn. Realized that when we put on the mainsail a few weeks ago, we didn`t put on the 3 reef lines.....uh, oh! Took a bit of flailing around in the soup to get all led, but all good now.

Sailed east for an hour or so before we could jibe and clear the heads. Since then we´ve had a fantastic sail north along the gorgeous NZ coast. No fishing yet, as the freezer is too full!!! All is going great, hoping for a great night sail in 15-25kn breeze, broad reaching at 7-8knts.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

New Zealand......so long, it's been GREAT to know you.....

"There is nothing  --  absolutely nothing  --  half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.  In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter.  Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it.  Whether you get away, or whether you don't;  whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular;  and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."

-  Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows, a children's book by Kenneth Grahame

Well, it's been quite a hectic past couple of months (sorry for lack of photos, just hasn't been time!!!).  We arrived back to New Zealand from Australia in March, to find all was good aboard Bravo, much as we'd left her.  Felt like a castle after living in the rooftop tent atop Tojo for the previous 9 months in Oz !!!  We figured just a few projects to wrap up in the boatyard, and we'd be good to splash and do a bit of coastal cruising around NZ.  Funny how it happens, though.....one project seemed to lead to another, we enjoyed the camaraderie of friends in the boatyard, and the next thing we knew, it was early May.  The southern winter is now nearly upon us, and it's nearing our time to depart this fantastic country.

Heading back to the water
So we launched one lovely autumn afternoon, waited for the tide to rise sufficiently, and slowly made our way in the fading light to the Whangarei's Town Basin Marina.  Figured just a bit of shakedown of systems on our complex (perhaps overly so) little starship, and we'd be waiting for a weather window to depart for Vanuatu.

Alas, we were quickly reminded once again that boats are happiest when in the water.  Bravo had been on the hard for nearly 2 years, (save a 2 week romp in the Bay of Islands) and the testing of several systems requires that we be afloat.  Water-cooled refrigeration compressors, generator, watermaker (desalinization machine) re-plumbing and pump, engine cooling, lithium battery system tweaking and monitoring, start battery charging system, even rewiring the running lights would all now clamor "me next" as the Bravo crew engaged in a daunting game of system Whack-a-mole.  Seemed as soon as we'd fix one issue (oh, say, tearing out the entire refrigeration system and installing a whole new one when the old Glacier Bay system unexpectedly failed us.....an expensive and several day long project), another would take it's place demanding attention.  We couldn't get the time, as the rest of the cruising yachts were doing around us, to simply work on voyage preparation.  Rigging, charting and route planning, stowing gear, provisioning of food, spare parts, and basic maintenance tasks like filter, oil, and coolant changes would all have to wait.  And this with our 2 year T.I.E. (Temporary Import Entry) expiring on May 31 (already extended for 6 months due to Cindi's accident).  (Means either take the boat out of the country, or pay the taxes and duties to officially "import" her into NZ.......$31K in Bravo's case.......Ruh-Ro).   Stressful?????  You betcha.

Bravo tugging at the docklines to head back to sea

We missed a major weather window for departure about a week ago.  Twenty boats from Whangarei and over FIFTY from Opua up north left for the tropics last Saturday.  Customs had 'em stacked up like cordwood waiting to clear out.  But at last earlier this week it was time for us to take another baby step.  We sadly bid our goodbyes to many friends in the Whangarei area, and turned Bravo down river for the two hour motor to Marsden Cove marina.  All systems were working beautifully, and we tucked into our slip here at Marsden with a bit of a feeling of melancholy, but also a sense of accomplishment of a major refit and refurbishment of our home.  A boat is always a work in progress.....there's always "The List".  But Bravo's never been better, and knock-on-wood, is ready to go voyaging again.  Hopefully the same can be said for her crew, who are feeling a bit rusty in the ways of the sea!!!

Leaving New Zealand is proving to be quite emotional.  With the exception of our 6 months in Fiji and 9 months spent recently in Australia, NZ has been our home for the past 4 years, one of the longest times that either of us have spent anywhere in our 60+ years.  We've done a fair bit of exploring, including a couple of trips down to the south island, some great hiking, wonderful opportunities for photography, and, yes, a huge amount of boat work.  We've faced some really trying times here, especially around Cindi's injuries (which have fully healed at last!!!!!).  But most of all, we've had a great time getting to know the Kiwi people.  We've made several close friends here, and have found the people of this small island nation to be some of the most down-to-earth, capable, and easy going folks anywhere.  Frequent calls of "git 'er done", "she'll be right, mate", and "if man can build it, man can fix it" kept our spirits up when they sagged a bit.  We can't say when, but we're sure NZ will have a place in our future.

But for now, we're sitting in Marsden Cove marina, waiting for our weather window for the 7-8 day passage to Vanuatu.  The low pressure systems just keep sweeping across NZ from the Tasman Sea.  Although it's raining donkeys and blowing stink outside right now, it looks like we may get a window to depart tomorrow.  Will be wonderful to be at sea again, especially without the constant internet reminders of the shameful shitstorm underway in the US, led by the SCROTUS and his slimy cronies.

The plan at this moment is to spend the next 3-4 months in Vanuatu, then a month or so in New Caledonia, before sailing down to Australia and exploring until around June 2018.  After that?  Stay tuned!!!

We'll try to post to this blog while at sea via ham radio email.  You can hopefully also follow our progress by checking in at        www.yit.co.nz   do a search for BRAVO

Cheers, mates.......

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tasmania.....a devilishly great place!

We arrived in Tassie at around 6pm, and as we unloaded were met by mates Don and Deb, who had rented a campervan for a couple of weeks on the island.  Off we went to explore this rather remote part of the pacific, the most southern state of Australia.

(  Note to you loyal readers, if we still have any:  Sorry this blog post is so long, but we have a lot of ground to make up.....as always, we'll try to do better next time!!!  )

We were driving along one country road when we came across unusual farmlands.....acres and acres of fields surrounded by barbed wire security fences.....obviously meant to keep intruders out, not critters in.  Every few meters there was a sign.....

Turns out that Tasmania grows about 50% of the world's legal opium poppy crop, used by major pharmaceutical companies to produce morphine and other opiate derivatives.

The west coast of Tasmania is wet and wild, a rainforest much like the Olympic rainforest in Washington state.  Much of this half of the state is national park and forest, some with a mining or logging history, and some seemingly so dense it felt unspoiled.  We headed there first to explore.

View from "the Nob", on Tassie's north coast

A 4wd vehicle was recommended for the west, and Deb & Don's campervan was 2wd (and the rental company said it wasn't insured on these roads), so we agreed to meet up a few days later.  Tasmania is small, so no part is more than a few hours drive away.

The drive starts out along the beautiful coast before heading inland into the bush.

We decided to give this track a miss, after seeing the photos of rigs swallowed up by quicksand a few k's in.

The green of Tassie, especially the west, felt like another planet when compared to most of the Australia we've come to know over the past 8 months of travel.  Moss, ferns, rivers and waterfalls were all supported by the wet climate.  It did rain most days, and while it gave the rainforest its lushness, it was also a bit of a damper for tent camping!  We enjoyed exploring, and some shorter hikes, but after a few days in the wet we were looking forward to some sun!!!  This is SUMMER down here, remember!!!

Tojo crosses the river aboard the single car ferry at Corinna

Base of Russell falls

We really enjoyed Mt. Field National Park, and spent a few days there hiking and checking out the sights.  The hikes were beautiful, though we saw more snakes here (and in Tassie in general), than we did in all of the rest of our time in Oz.  There are 3 species of snake found in Tasmania, the tiger, the lowland copperhead, and the white-lipped snake.  All are poisonous, though the white-lipped snake has never been recorded to kill a human.  We weren't checking lip color, but I think we were just seeing the tiger and copperheads, both of which pack a lethal dose of venom.  Makes walking through the high grasses a bit of a nerve wracking way to get exercise!!!

Pademelon, a small marsupial that we saw all over Tasmania

Cindi inside the "Cave Tree", an enormous hollowed out live tree

The park was the site of a worldwide protest in 2003 to keep from logging the ancient old growth Eucalyptus (gum) forest for paper.  Protesters camped in the tree for weeks, bringing international pressure to bear on the logging companies.  Eventually the area, the Styx River valley, was incorporated into the park.

At the base of Gandolph's Staff, the tree at the center of the 2003 protests.

Eventually it was time to head to the town of Hobart on the east coast, where we reconnoitered with Don and Deb at the Australian Wooden Boat Festival.  The festival, held every two years, is one of the largest such shows in the world, and attracts boat builders, sailors, steam engine geeks, and wooden boat afficionados of all types and stripes from all over.  It was total immersion in the art of wooden boat building.....we loved it!!!

Boats gathering for the start of the opening parade.  Friends Graham, Diane, and Kerri hitched a ride on the beautiful ketch  Laurabara in the middle!

The parade begins its sail into Hobart town

Laurabara careful not to spill the champagne!!!  

Don sharing sea stories w/ the Laurabara crew

Laurabara interior

An 8-meter crew ready to race......looks like yesteryear!!!

Tassie crayfishermen making pots

Cruise ship presented a bit of a wind shadow for the little skiffs racing in the bay!!!

4 mates, a bunch of beer, and a classic century old boat.....what could be sweeter???

The Lyle Hess pontoon looking ship shape!

The Festival proves a great cross roads for yachties and boaties everywhere to come together, and we were thrilled to run into several old friends we've met along the line.  Jeff and Kathy (s/v Beatrix), Rich and Cindy (s/v Legacy), and of course Graham and Diane (s/v Maunie of Ardwall), as well as making new friends among the crowds.

Good times in old Hobart town indeed!!!

Finally the 4 day show was over, and we saddled up Tojo for the next leg of the journey, out the Tasman peninsula SE of Hobart.  As most know, Australia in general, and Tasmania in particular, was largely settled by convicts sent over in the 1700's from England.  Tasmania was home to several notorious prisons, and Port Arthur on the peninsula was the best known penal colony of the lot.

Began in the 1830's, today the Port Arthur prison is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and an important part of Tasmanian and Australian history.  The grounds have been beautifully restored, many of the buildings remain and are open to tour, and it really is a full day visit to the site.

Prison building at the abandoned coal mines.....a harsh sentence to serve in the cold Tasmanian climate.

Isolation cell

Solitary confinement prison.  Exercise yards in center, a cell door on the left.  Harsh indeed.

Leaving Port Arthur, we headed over to the Huon River Valley, known mostly for its huon pine, a fantastic rot resistant boat building wood, much like the kauri from New Zealand.

Spent a night in Franklin, a small town with a wood boatbuilding school.

We were told that the materials for this pretty little guy cost around $12,000NZ.....ummmmmm, maybe next time!!!

We also caught a great night of music at a local theater.  Headliner act was a bluegrass band led by a Japanese banjo player, Montz Matsomoto.  Eclectic, you say?  What's eclectic about a Japanese banjo virtuoso playing Lou Reed's "Take a Walk on the Wild Side", bluegrass style, in Tasmania!!!   What's not to like!!!

After Franklin we were anxious to meet up with friends Graham and Diane aboard s/y "Maunie of Ardwall", who have been cruising Tasmania for the past several weeks.  We arranged to meet them down south at Cockle Creek, the most southern point in Tasmania that can be reached by road.  They (G&D along with friend Kerry, from s/y Sel Citron) anchored in Recherche Bay, right by our campsite.

Although rain was in the forecast, the 5 of us decided to do a great sounding hike over to the "outside" beach on the south coast.  The hike delivered the goods, as did the weather!!!

All had a good time in the rain, though, including the leeches that seemed to have a real affinity for Kerry's red corpuscles!!!

Cindi and Diane in a rare sunny moment

After Cockle Creek we headed back north and caught a ferry to Bruny Island, on the east coast of Tasmania.  A popular stop on the tourist trail, we found it a bit over rated, perhaps, though it did have a lot of nice beaches.  Spent a couple of days exploring before heading back to the "mainland".

Cape Bruny lighthouse

We headed up to Freycinet National Park, home of some great hiking and an iconic view from an overlook into Wineglass Bay.  The hiking was terrific, and the views and camping (at Friendly Beach) were great as advertised.

Hard to get oystercatchers to sit still for 3 second exposures!!!

Friendly Beach sunset

Wallabies weren't at all shy!!!

Wineglass Bay from the overlook

Our 5 weeks in Tasmania were winding down, and we wanted to see Tasmanian mates Merve and Trudy before leaving.  We met them camping up in northwest Australia several months ago, and they invited us to visit when we came down to Tassie.  Spent a great few days with them at their home in Longford, seeing the sights and enjoying their hospitality.

(If you've made it this far in this overlong post, thanks for hanging in there......almost done!!!!)

There are a couple of critters, endemic to Tasmania, which we'd wanted to see, but hadn't yet spotted. So we bit the bullet and paid to see the rascals.  First up was a platypus, a very strange character native to small streams and waterways.  One of five species of monotremes (egg laying mammals), they also are the only venomous mammals, with a sharp spur in their hind legs that can put a human in a world of pain for many months.  Had to see them, so went to a platy zoo.  Interesting to see and learn about these unique animals, and they also had echidnas (another monotreme) to check out as a sort of bonus critter.

Feeding time (every 45 minutes, all day, every day!!!)

Good to the last drop!!!

Our last stop in Tasmania was Cradle Mountain National Park, one of the best known places to visit in Tassie.  The hiking is fantastic, and we had an uncommon clear weather window!  Perfect way to wrap up our trip.

But first, remember that there were TWO critters we hadn't yet seen on our bucket list??  Well, we had just crossed off the platypus, leaving just the Tasmanian Devil remaining.  We had heard them screeching during the night (they are primarily nocturnal), but no sightings.

In the national park is a devil sanctuary, where they breed devils to release into the wild.  The Tasmanian devil population has been decimated by an unusual communicable form of facial cancer, which is endangering the species.  The rascals in this sanctuary are tumor free, so hopefully they will succeed in researching how to take care of the disease, which to date has eluded a cure.  We had a great tour of the place by a zoologist who fed the devils while we were there.  Pretty amazing little scavengers, carnivorous marsupials eat whole animals, including bones and fur!!!  We watched 8 juveniles  polish off a wallaby hindquarter, no problem!!! Per Wikipedia, the devils generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator.  A nasty piece of work indeed!!!

The park also was a sanctuary for quolls, another unique carnivorous marsupial (carries it's young in a pouch).

OK, enough Wild Kingdom for now.  We wrapped up with a great hike around Cradle Mountain itself.  Like Yosemite Valley, the park uses a shuttle bus to ferry hikers in to the many hikes around the park, in order to reduce the traffic and it's impact on the wildlife.  We chose a rather challenging circuit, but after a late start, had to cut short our climb of the peak short about 1/2 way up in order to catch the last bus out of the park.  It was a beautiful day nonetheless.

At last it was time to head back to the Australian mainland.  We drove 'Tojo' back aboard the ferry and hunkered down for the 12 hour crossing to friends Don and Deb's place in Melbourne.  Since the original owners of our trusty Land Cruiser were no longer planning to buy her back, we quickly hustled to get her spiffed up, and needed some mechanical work to pass the Victorian "Roadworthy" inspection (none is required in South Australia, where we bought her).  After a rather stressful week of advertising, she sold to a couple of young women who will be using her for a similar trek around Oz.......Tojo's adventures continue!!!

Saying our goodbyes to Deb and Don (THANK YOU GUYS!!!), we headed to the airport and flew back to New Zealand.  We're now happily aboard Bravo, still in the boatyard.  We enjoyed Australia so much that we have changed our plans to allow more time to explore the east coast and Tasmania by water.  We'll stay in NZ until May, then sail north to Vanuatu for a few months.  Then in Oct/Nov we'll sail down to Australia, looking forward to the start of the Sydney Hobart Race after Christmas, and the fireworks display in Sydney harbor for New Years, before heading down to Tasmania for a month or two.  We'll work our way up the east coast of Oz, getting ready to depart Darwin by June, 2018, destination ?????  Stay tuned, lots of adventures to come!