_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Marcy on the way to OZ

The good ship Marcy has cleared out of New Caledonia and we are on our way to Cairns, Australia. In NC, we've enjoyed baguettes and people watching while sipping tiny coffees. Not to mention the almost deserted and gorgeous little islands with coral sand beaches that dot the lagoon. And we'll miss sailing here, with warm soft tradewinds and lagoon flat seas. As for the sea snakes, well, we're not quite used to them yet. As we head on into the Coral Sea we'll probably see more of these highly poisonous
but kind of cute critters.

Our passage will take more than a week, and we will pass through the most reef studded ocean waters we've experienced to date. We've spent hours plotting a course that threads through the dangers. We're looking forward to landing in Australia, the first continent (the smallest one!) that we've stood on since North America 14 months ago.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wet and Windy Passage to New Caledonia (video)

As we shopped for provisions at the market in Whangarei, little did we know that the man was singing about our upcoming passage......


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Noumea is très French

The first order of business for us as we arrived in Noumea, the capital of New Caledonia, was to dry out. As you know an upwind passage, with a gale thrown in for good measure, can truly soak everything onboard with salt water.

Drying out in Noumea

After that’s taken care of, we run our errands in downtown. We feel as if we’re in a town in France. French is the only language heard, all the signs and advertisements are in French, and the bread is wonderful. Peter follows Ginger as she gathers provisions. First stop is the market, similar to markets we’ve seen all across the Pacific. Only now, as the US dollar weakens, everything is very expensive for us.

Market Shopping in Noumea

The market ladies are as friendly as usual and the produce is delicious. They direct us to a pastry shop a few blocks away.

expensive pastry

Sacre Bleu! We can afford nothing here!

pastry shop Noumea

Ah, perhaps we can buy a couple of these little beauties…..

grocery shop Noumea

Then Ginger finds an affordable grocery store. Our last errand takes her to the marina office to organize reference materials for the next leg to Australia.

copies Noumea

A short dinghy ride back to Marcy, and we enjoy the fruits of shopping. And praise the skill of the French bakers.

pastries on Marcy


Friday, May 16, 2008

The end of the storm and arrival in New Caledonia

3rd reef to New Cal

Here is Peter putting in a 3rd reef in the sail before the worst of the gale. We rarely use our 3rd reef so it's not set up as a standard line. As he was tightening the line a wave rolled the boat and caused the boom to swing into him bruising his ribs. There is a lot of weight in our boom and sail and the momentum can really build up.

As the storm built we lowered the mails'l completely. While the mains’l was down, at the height of the gale, we noticed that one of our lazyjacks (the lines that hold the sail on the boom when it’s down) had broken at the first spreader. The loose line had wrapped itself across the main sail track and then around the top spreaders several times. With the line there we couldn’t raise the main sail. In big seas with dying winds we need to have the main up to keep the boat more stable and to keep moving forward so we had no choice but to go up the mast. As Peter had bruised his ribs reefing the main the day before it made sense for Ginger to go up the mast. With 20 – 25 knots of wind and 10 foot seas we picked the calmest moment and were ready with bosun’s chair, climbing harness and extra clothes for padding. When it’s rolling on deck it’s like riding a bull up the mast as it whips back and forth in the waves. It is imperative to cling to the mast because if you get shaken loose from the mast you would swing wildly and probably start breaking bones. Luckily the trip up the mast was just to the first spreaders and though it was an incredible workout hanging on to the mast the lazy jack was retrieved, untangled and a bowline was tied to another line to secure the top line until calmer waters.

The wind continued to moderate and the seas lessened somewhat as well. During the storm we were forced to head due north and as a result had to enter the lagoon on the east coast. The wind finally shifted as we approached the south end of New Caledonia providing light tail winds, a nice change from the headwinds we experienced the rest of the trip. We arrived off the entrance about 1AM and jogged back and forth until daylight and slack water. We had an uneventful and beautiful sail through the lagoon and Peter had time to go up the mast to repair the lazyjack. (No photos of Ginger up the mast as the operation was too dangerous to have a camera in hand!)

Fixing lazyjack

We arrived in Noumea in the early afternoon and found to our disappointment that the marina no longer provides one free night to arrivals from foreign ports. After a much drawn out radio conversation in French with inconclusive answers regarding clearing in at anchor we decided to just go in to the marina anyway. Formalities were all completed by 5:30P just in time to go to the bar for our 2 free beers, provided by the marina to new arrivals. We were joined by British sailors Ian and Kathy from Ariel, who had arrived here just the day before. We first met them in Niuatoputapu. It’s great to catch up with them and discuss our trip crossing the Indian Ocean as we’re both headed the same way and expect to see each other at some of the planned stops.

Once at the dock the clean-up began in earnest. We had so much salt water in the cabin from a small leak in the toe rail over the fridge that we decided the best course of action was to hose off all the cushions. This is a drastic measure rather like hosing off the couch so it was not undertaken lightly. They’re still sopping wet as we write but hopefully with some sun today Ian and Kathy won’t have to sit on wet cushions when they come to dinner tonight. (Turns out the two big cushions are open cell foam - like a sponge - and it will probably be a week before they're dry. Ian and Kathy sat on the cushion with a shower curtain for protection..)

We did all our urgent dock jobs, took a shower (!) and then headed off to the anchorage. We thought we needed to go to the consulate and then wait a couple of weeks to get our Australian visas but we were informed at the consulate that the visas could be completed on line. That was easily done, so we have our visas for Australia. Now we’re just working on the projects that put themselves at the top of our list on the last passage, exploring here a bit and then getting ready for the 1300 mile passage to Cairns, Australia.

Ginger had an adventure across town yesterday afternoon with Kathy that involved an hour walk back to the dinghy in a tropical downpour. Every stitch of clothing was soaked and the temps are cool enough that back on Marcy it was time for some very warm clothes. The trip itself was a success and some copper foil was obtained. Having spent much of the day in unsuccessful attempts it was a good find and the ground for the radio antenna will be reconnected today. Radio is important to us and without the copper we had no radio and no radio email! Internet is slow and expensive here so we may not have many photos until we get to Oz.
It’s great to be back in the tropics enjoying fragrant papaya, moderate temps and clear blue water. We can hardly wait to get away from the big city for a swim!

Our big news from home is that our daughter Lisa is going to nationals again this year with the UW Ultimate Frisbee Team! The UW team (Element!) is ranked first in the US and it’s an exciting time for her as it’s her last year of playing for the team before graduation this spring. This is the second time at nationals for her and this year Lisa has been nominated by her team for two prestigious awards. Read about it here:
We’ll be there in spirit to cheer her on, and we’ll check the scores from here with our precious internet time (at: www.upa.org)to see how the team is doing.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Heavy Weather for Marcy

We spent the afternoon and evening of the fourth day on passage to New Caledonia preparing for a gale the weather charts have been warning us about for a couple of days. We tied in the third reef in the main (used only once before) and set the staysail. We double lashed everything on deck - the deflated dinghy, the water generator propeller and towline, outboard fuel tanks, and the rolled up awning. When we finished all this, we sat back to admire our work. We felt a little foolish jogging along
severely undercanvassed, but an ominous black wall of clouds, with lightening flickering constantly, approached us with unnerving speed. The first gust knocked us over on our beam ends, but Marcy stood back up and we forged on into the blackness. The night was gorgeous - flashes of lightening showed us angry clouds and foam blowing in streaks off the wave tops. We gradually got used to constant noise of thundering waves, shrieking rigging, and groaning boat noises. It became evident that we were
now quite overcanvassed, so we fought down the main and tied it tightly. We took turns sitting in the cockpit and lying in the bunk. The motion was amazing, the seas weren't huge but very chaotic. It seemed as if Marcy had no freeboard, because foamy seas were constantly at rail level and higher, all around the boat. We watched the barometer plunge hour after hour all night. The morning brought no relief, just a view of the growing seas and horizontal torrential rain. The boat was doing well. Tons
of water came on deck, but not a drop through our new ports. The sliding hatches, closed and dogged, let plenty in to keep us humble. One of the lazy jacks carried away and tangled in a spreader. Otherwise we were coping perfectly, running the bilge pump every hour and mopping up drips and spills.

We try to avoid this kind of weather. The passage to and from New Zealand is notorious for exposing cautious sailors to gales, in fact we met a smaller one as we approached the island. We left NZ on the heels of a passing low in an effort to get the maximum time before the next one. If the next low had been smaller or further south, no problem. We weren't lucky, but there is feeling of accomplishment for dealing with the situation, keeping morale up and staying safe. As we write this at noon on day
five, the barometer is on the rise and we can expect better conditions soon. The seas are much bigger now, but more regular, and we see longer stretches of sunshine in between the rain.

We should arrive in Noumea on Monday or Tuesday, we can almost taste that wonderful French pastry now.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Clear skies and calm seas

0800 NZ time Wednesday - lat 31 deg 40' S, long 173 deg 14' E
We left the completely still waters of Whangarei as planned on Monday morning. We motored down the river in company with two other boats taking advantage of the same tide, and cleared out with customs along with "Rontu", our next door neighbor at Riverside. We were directed to come alongside a crane barge at the commercial pier. After negotiating the obstacle course on the deck of the barge we had to climb a ladder with a huge beam at the top that made an interesting overhang to negotiate to reach
the top handhold. We stepped across the 2 foot gap to the pier and decided if we made it back to the boat in one piece we had passed the fitness for sea physical test.
We were under way by 11:00AM with perfect wind and seas just aft of abeam. We chose our weather for leaving to make sure we had enough wind to get away before expected high pressure fills in and the wind dies. We didn't want to wallow just off the coast and use diesel fuel in the first few hundred miles. As expected the wind picked up and so did the steep confused seas. Walking around the cabin became dangerous with the unpredictable movements of the boat and there were really only two places
to be, either in the sea bunk or in the cockpit on watch. We were both a bit green around the gills and wishing we'd spent a night or two at anchor getting used to a little bit of movement. As Marcy forged on we took a couple of breaking waves over the deck which found their way through any and all little openings even though everything was closed and the hatch boards were in. As we've gotten some distance between us and NZ the weather has calmed and the seas are flattening. The sun is shining,
we're sailing with the full main again and the jib is winged out. The improvements we've made on the boat are serving us well and today is a beautiful day. Now it's time to go eat now some food - eating sounds for the first time since we left!


Saturday, May 03, 2008

The car is gone and we're on our way...

no more vip for the crew

We have sold our car and along with it our VIP status in NZ! It wasn't quick and we were getting worried about it. There seem to be more used cars than buyers and we were getting a bit worried about what we would do if we were stuck with a car. With our best used car marketing skills we posted large signs and a fluorescent streamer on the antenna, our Swedish friends Bo and Vivi loaned us a cell phone to field calls and this afternoon after a trip to the mechanic, the bank and the post office we are officially car-less!

Cliff and our new bow roller

The bow roller has taken form. It's been welded and Cliff finished the last fitting and welding on Friday afternoon. Our big projects are mostly done and the smaller items are being deferred until the next stop. We have enjoyed our stay at Riverside Drive Marina. There is a great sense of community, weekly barbecues, work areas, proximity to downtown, convenience of chandlery and hospitality of Ray and Karl has made our stay feel like guests. We feel very fortunate to have landed at such a perfect place for our stop in New Zealand. Of course, if we come back to NZ again we hope to see more by boat and do less work on the boat but when we do stop at a marina it will be here.


It feels a bit like the end of summer camp with boats leaving every day and new rounds of good-byes as they go. It's been a fantastic stay here in Whangarei. It's the longest stop we've had since leaving home and we have formed some lasting friendships with boats (from Sweden, England, France, Switzerland, South Africa, Canada, Germany,USA, NZ, and Netherlands) we will look for in our future travels.

Peter's circus

With Peter there is always time for play and he has found many ways to entertain himself and our neighbors too.

As we write this we are preparing to head out to sea on a passage to New Caledonia. The boat is ready to go - all that remains is to get our sea legs (and stomach for Ginger) back!