Directions

Our latest entry always comes up first...

Click this link if you want to start at the beginning of our trip from
South Carolina (where we bought the boat) to Lake Ontario Click this link:

If you want to see the story of our 2 1/2 year project getting
Blowin' Bubbles ready for our life on board click here:
FIRST "REFIT" BLOG ENTRY - March 2011

If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP - July 2014
2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Happy Sunday - Day 13

As the Sun came up this morning we were sailing south west at about 6.5 knots... The wind is ahead of our beam and we are in 3-5 foot seas. For the last few days we have been trying to get as far south as we can as quickly as we can. We are currently at 3 degrees south latitude. Our goal is to run west as soon as we reach 6 degrees south. This is where the westerly trade winds are blowing at the moment.

What that means in simple terms is that rather than sailing heeled over, we would put out big head sails and have the trade winds push us to Hiva Oa. Running with the trades will let the boat sail nice and flat (and fast).

Every morning we get weather information from 3 sources. All three sources come on our marine SSB radio. First, we download what they call a GFS (grib) file that graphically shows us a wind and weather forecast. The second source is to check in with other sailboats on a morning radio net. These folks are making the same journey and are spread out in front of us and behind us. This gives us a sense of what is happening in the moment.

Our third, and quite frankly, our most reliable source is our weather forecaster (Bill) who has been faithfully sending us real time weather information since we left Panama. Bill is a professional sea captain who has been in charge of vessels from the Bearing Sea to the Atlantic ocean. Shelley and I met Bill and his wife, Carol, when we were neighbors at the Myrtle Beach YC in 2014 when we were heading down the eastern seaboard of the USA. My sense is that Bill has forgotten more about weather than I will ever know...

He generously agreed to assist us with our Pacific crossing. Each day he checks a number of weather sources on the internet and evaluates what he sees and make suggestions to us based on that, and the position information we provide him early each morning.

Once we get far enough south, we will hopefully see less convection (rain) and begin making a straight line journey to Hiva Oa. This morning we have approximately 2300 nautical miles to go. This morning we have traveled 1560 nautical miles in 12 days. This averages 130 miles per day at a speed of 5.4 knots (10 kph, 6.2 mph). So basically we travel about as fast as a healthy person rides a bicycle! Based on our history, we will likely be at sea for another 18-20 days...

Christina has proven herself quite a sailor! She now takes her own watches and handles Blowin' Bubbles like a pro! We are all a little tired as we have been in squalls and rough seas for the last 36 hours.

We hope all is well with everyone!

Cheers,
Kyle, Shelley & Christina...

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Equator Day!

We are now in our 10th day underway. Today we expect to cross the EQUATOR! This is fairly monumental as sailing goes.

The tradition is that until you have passed over the Equator on some kind of ship, you are considered by King Neptune and all the other leaders of the sea, a POLLYWOG. Once you have crossed that magical line, you become a life long SHELLBACK.

The expectation is that all Shellback's on board would work under King Neptune's instructions and initiate all Pollywogs into the everlasting fraternity. If there are no Shellback's on board, then libations and homage is to be paid to king Neptune with a wee dram of the finest spirits on board... And don't think that he won't know if you served him up the cheap stuff!

After paying suitable respect to the ocean, we can toast ourselves and our nautical achievement. This too is completed with the aid of suitable libations.

Our hope is that under a glorious full moon around 8 pm tonight we will make this historic crossing. Our original hope was to cross during the day, but that was not to be.

Here are some statistics from our first 10 days underway...

We left Panama City last Tuesday at 1200z. As of this writing, we have traveled 1160 nautical miles. We have been at sea for about 220 hours making our average speed 5.2 knots. That isn't bad as far as we are concerned. At 5 knots we should make Hiva Oa in about 33 days. That means about 23 days to go!

We still have a few fresh vegetables, but that should end in the next day or so. Between Christina and Shelley, we have eaten VERY well... We had some trouble with our watermaker, but we think we now have it fixed, so our water supply is good.

We have run the engine for about 40 hours or about 18% of the time. This means we have burned about 40 gallons of fuel. We left with 260 gallons, so we still have 220. Also, we are approaching the western trade winds that should push us all the way across the pacific.

Life on board has settled into a very comfortable routine. We only keep formal watches at night. So from 7 till midnight I am on watch, from midnight to 4 am Shelley is on watch, and from 4 am till 8 am Christina in in charge. During the day we just keep someone on deck and lookout every 10 minutes or so. To give some perspective, the last ship we saw with our eyes was 2 days ago! There isn't much out here... It feels like a wet desert on steroids! That doesn't mean it is boring. We keep busy during the day getting chores and work done on the boat. We eat together for supper each night, but there is usually someone sleeping during the other meals so we tend to feed whoever is awake. We bought LOTS of snacks so we will NOT go hungry.

Shelley and Christina have been taking turns making some GREAT suppers. Sadly we have not caught a single fish in the 10 days we have been out! Not even a bite... And it not just us, our friends, Lanny & Ginger (s/v SwiftSure) are about 30 miles behind us have also caught nothing... We hope that when we hit the trades, fishing will improve.

On our watches, we sometimes read, listen to music or old radio mystery programs. Sometimes we even watch a movie on a little portable DVD player we have in the cockpit.

The ocean gives so much. Some nights I just sit in the darkness and gaze in wonder at the incredible night sky. With no light pollution, the stars are like nothing I have ever seen before... And before the moon sets, there is sometimes enough light to read by! There hasn't been a day yet when we haven't seen a pod or two of dolphins... They are magnificent! We have also seen a sea lion and numerous turtles and baby Manta Rays doing acrobatics (we think they were boy Mantas, trying to get dates... So far, no whales...

Shelley has been recording all our seabird sightings in our log so that she can participate in an organizations efforts to better understand seabird migration and behavior patterns... Who ever said, sailors can't be useful.... Two nights ago, 4 Bobbies (the birds) settled on our mizzen and main spreaders for the night... This was all good until they started pooping on everything and everyone! They are NO LONGER WELCOME at night...

We are blessed to have Christina with us. She has been such a trooper. She and her partner, Derek have a small sailboat on a lake in Oklahoma, but hope to one day go cruising together. This has made Christina suck up like a sponge all the things we do on board... It has been great so far!

It is time to wrap this entry up... Thank you all for following along with us as we go places and do things that change our life in ways we could never have imagined!

More soon...
Kyle, Shelley & Christina

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Day 4 Update

Just a short entry to let everyone know we have traveled about 350 nautical miles so far. That is just under 10% of the way. So far all is well on Blowin' Bubbles.

The night before we left, we picked our good friend Christina up at the airport. She brought us some much desired treasures. We set sail from Panama City at 7 am on Tuesday morning. We motored out the harbor and briefly stopped at Isla Taboga to clean the bottom of the boat.

After that, we set sails and begun this, our epic journey.

So far, the seas have been relatively calm and the wind has been a little lighter that we had hoped. Still, we have averaged a little over 100 nautical miles per day so we should still arrive in Hiva Oa in the planned 40 or so days.

We have not caught any fish yet! Hopefully that will change today. Right now the water depth is as much as 10,000 feet! It is a good thing we float.

In the next few days we should cross the equator! For a sailor this is an epic event. We are looking forward to sharing this moment when it arrives.

Shelley has been cooking some great meals and our fresh veggies are still in good shape. It won't be too much longer before all our veggies will come from a can. lol.

More soon,
Cheers

Position:04°56.34'N 082°55.80'W
Course: 232 Degrees True Current Speed: 3.5 Knots

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

YotReps: 2016/04/09 22:12:51

AIRMAIL YOTREPS
IDENT: CFN6398
TIME: 2016/04/09 22:12
LATITUDE: 08-54.45N
LONGITUDE: 079-31.62W
COURSE: 133T
SPEED: 1.0
MARINE: YES
WIND_SPEED: 10
WIND_DIR: N
WAVE_HT: 1.0M
CLOUDS: 30%
VISIBILITY: 20
BARO: 1011
AIR_TEMP: 30.0C
SEA_TEMP: 26.7C
COMMENT: We are testing our daily position report via SSB.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Back to Panama City...

Welcome to our Blog. Our latest entry always comes up first... 
Click this link if you want to start at the beginning:
FIRST BLOG ENTRY
If you want to start at the beginning of our trip:
START OF TRIP
If you want to see the story of our trip from South Carolina
(where we bought the boat)
 to Lake Ontario Click this link:
  SOUTH CAROLINA
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After a little more than three wonderful weeks in the La Perlas Islands we returned to Panama City yesterday (Monday).  We find ourselves back in the La Playita anchorage.  Lots of rude local work boats, big wakes and dirty water.  All necessary so we can get our last few provisions, fuel and our crew, Christina so we can set sail for The French Marquesas Islands on or about April 12th.

During our time in the islands we visited 5 different anchorages.  Each offered something unique and special.  From the "bustle" (I use the term loosely) of Isla Contadora, to the absolute solitude of Isla Canas, we have relaxed and enjoyed this jewel of the Panamanian Pacific.



Pelicans
Here in this part of the Pacific the spring tidal rage can be as much as 20 feet!  That is a lot to think about when anchoring.  We found the holding here excellent and although the water was much cooler than the Caribbean side, it was clean (outside Panama City) and filled with fish...

Mike and Margaret (our good friends from Cozumel) arrived late last Friday and we met them at the Contadora Airport.  I suppose "airport" is a bit of a stretch, given that there is only a runway, a guy who checks it for rocks and garbage, his dog, and a lady with a clipboard.  They arrived from Panama City and we were allowed to meet them at the plane. (We are DEFINITELY NOT in Toronto anymore!)

Checking for stones....

You get thirsty looking for stones!

The ground crew in action....

The baggage claim area....
Together, we explored this island on Saturday morning after Mike and I rented a golf cart for a day.  Exploring every road on the island took a whole two hours, but is was very interesting...



Our understanding is that much of the infrastructure of the island was laid down by the US military when they were responsible for the Panama Canal.  In 2000 when they left Panama, it seems that much of Contadora went into a state of dis-repair.  That was until a few years later when the folks who make the hit US TV show, Survivor made 3 series here over the last 10 years.  It seems they infused enough cash and created enough interest in making this into one of the desirable places in Panama.  The roads are all new, and they are in the process of raising the funds to install a new state of the art water desalination plant.

Mike and Margaret took Shelley and I out to  celebrate my birthday on Saturday night.  We had a lovely meal and a great time.

On Sunday morning we picked up our cruising friends, Lanny and Ginger from s/v SwiftSure and went fishing for the day aboard Blowin' Bubbles.  As you may know from earlier blogs, we love to fish!  With 5 lines off the back (2 on outriggers, 1 on a downrigger, and 2 straight out the back) we trolled for much of the day.
Mama Maggie!

Lanny & Ginger (s/v SwiftSure)



As it so often is with fishing, we caught nothing.  Around the time we were thinking of heading back to the anchorage, we saw a female Magnificent Frigatebird in some kind of distress on the water.

Magnificent Frigatbirds grow to have a wingspan of some 91 inches.  They fly thousands of miles out into the ocean to hunt for fish near the surface of the water.  They often steal food from other ocean birds as they themselves can't swim.  Further, their own plumage is NOT waterproof.

This poor thing was really in distress, so we launched the dinghy and I cautiously lifter her into the dinghy.  She (we know she was a she because of her markings) was so exhausted she let me help her into the boat.  After getting back to Blowin Bubbles I got back on, and we towed her very slowly 3 miles back to land. She traveled well and when we arrived in the anchorage, we dropped Lanny off on his boat so he could launch their dinghy.




We anchored and Lanny and I slowly pulled our dinghy with Connie (by this time we had named her) in it, to a deserted area of beach.  When we were about 100 yards from shore she saw the land and took off from our dinghy.  Connie flew well considering all the crud that was still all over her wings.  Shelley watched her land in a large tree on shore where, for the remainder of the day, she continued to dry and clean her feathers.





In case you are wondering how Connie got her name, we found her off the shore at Contadora Island, and Connie was also my mom's name...

We celebrated her life with a great meal and a few drinks (Okay, we celebrate everything with a great meal and a few drinks).  By morning she was gone and we hope never finds herself in such a mess again...

On Monday morning just before day break we raised anchor and began the 40 nautical mile trip back to Panama City to drop Mike and Margaret off to catch their plane home.  After Shelley helped me get underway, she returned to bed where she and Margaret stayed until we were almost at Panama City.

Mike & I put out the fishing lines and within an hour had 4 tunas!  We kept 3 of them and let the last one go as the freezer was full.



After we anchored in La Playita we spent the afternoon at the Albrook Mall.  Last  night we enjoyed Marinated Tuna Steaks on the BBQ.  What a great day!

Mike and Margaret left today.  We so appreciate when people visit us. As much as Shelley and I love each other and enjoy our own company, having friends and family with us makes our life full...

We will spend the rest of the week here in Panama City getting ready for the biggest journey we will likely ever take... Crossing the Pacific Ocean.

We leave you this week with a few more STUNNING sunsets...




Cheers,
K&S