Hiva Oa



"Hiva Oa..."

Just saying it, is a sigh of contentment, a happy, peaceful yawn.
The name is a tropical breeze, filled with sounds of brown,  flowing-haired, Marquesans...
Who laugh as they fish of the pier or paddle with strong arms and tattooed shoulders, racing past you, in long, fierce outrigger canoes.
This place is so dope, it's ridiculous.
Getting here from Mexico by boat... even more awesome.

We slept like logs.
The boat was still and quiet and the breezes wafting gently through the hatches are scented with woodsmoke and frangipani.
The sun comes up and I wander out on deck and look at the great green valley that leads from the bay up into the lush mountain above.
Black volcanic peaks disappear in a halo of soft tropical clouds...
clouds that I don't have to worry about, at least not today.
We are all so excited to explore,  
no one wants to eat breakfast.
The kids down some water and eat a spoonful of Nutella each, Jon and I drink cold coffee over ice,
We climb into the dingy and head to shore.
The kids are sparking with glee at every new thing...
And SO much is new, to go from the desert landscape of the Baja to this, green and fertile land.
Chickens and horses, dogs all wander freely and look so healthy and clean.
Nobody seems to go hungry here.

We wander along the road,  
marveling at all the juicy fruits hanging on the trees.
Mangoes and breadfruit, pamplemouse and papaya in such perfect shape and quality and quantity you cannot imagine.
They all look so tempting and ripe but we don't dare pick anything,
every tree here belongs to somebody.
It would be like having a stranger come into your house and help themselves to whatever is in your fridge!
We note the nicest farms and plan to stop by tomorrow and buy some fruit off the owners,
no bothering anyone on these islands on Sundays.
Town is about a two mile walk and everyone seems to be at the little church on the hill.
You can hear beautiful singing from the open windows as it floats across the valley. 

In the village, we find an atm and a bakery where we can buy baguettes tomorrow when we come to check in with the Gendarme and get our clearance papers for FP.

We pass  an inn that serves wood fired pizza,
and a plan is hatched to come back for dinner...

In town, we buy the most perfect, fresh, eggs ( there are chickens EVERYWHERE here ) and several little g√Ęteau .

Back to the boat to straighten up, make a giant plate of scrambled eggs with our last peppers and fresh herbs,
and then....
back to sleep.

Hivaaaaaa Oaaaaaaaaaa.....



Captain having coffee
FLOWERS!

SO many new bugs, birds, beasts, to discover...

A Marquesan prince thunders by on his horse- his hair was as long as the horses tail!


Not very good at hiding chickens.

Anchorage


French Poly Franc!




MANGOES!




LAND HO!!!!!

Final Tally...
"Landfall at Hiva Oa", by Joan and Chuck of SV Tender Spirit
24 days 4hours 32 minutes.... 2811 miles. Phew!


"LAND HO!",
Cried Kai.
That's right... It was, Kai.
The very, same, unable to find his SOCK, in a drawer full of SOCKS, child...
who finally spotted the darker shade of darker shade, lying low on the horizon.

In the wee hours of the night.
Kai found us the land we had come so far to find.

"I think that's it" he said,
with the slyest and most understated of grins...
Cheeky bugger.

We looked at the compass...
there was no doubt.
HIVA OA
visible,
after 2800 miles of empty ocean.

'LAND HO!" he shouted to the dark and turbulent seas...
and his voice finally (actually) dropped.
Jon and I glowed with pride.

We cheered,
but the cheer was subdued by the dark and windy night.
Land was still 15 miles off...

The sea had not given us a full pass,
Not yet.
We had tossed and turned,
into a salty jelly these past few weeks...
and still needed to make landfall in an unknown anchorage.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you-
when we loaded our new electronic charts for the South Pacific...
into our  FANCY,  EXPENSIVE, USELESS, nav pod-
the one that shows us where we are and what the dangers of the new coastlines are...
It came up blank.
That's right folks...
BLANK.
Go ahead, open your ROADMAP,
on that journey you decide to take through the backroads of Missippissi...
and you get...
A totally BLANK napkin,
staring you in the face.

Ok. Add it to the list of surprises.
We weren't counting ANY chickens yet,...if you get my drift.

Jon and Kai went down to catch an hour of sleep and Hunter and I took the dawn watch.

Hiva Oa reared her Polynesian awesomeness from the Ocean and we were silenced into witness by her profound beauty.

"Oh my Goddess" said Hunter,
 as the first rays of Dawn cascaded across sheer volcanic cliffs rising, steep to, 3500 feet from the sea.

"Look..." I said,
something was following us.
In our dark and churning wake, was a short, fat,
curved, dorsal fin.
Big.
Bigger than a dolphin.
And not running with boat, but moving just aft of our starboard quarter.
It was joined by another and another, big and bigger fins...
A blunt, rounded, head broke the surface.

"False killer whales" I guessed and checked the book to be sure.

A pod.
Of whales.
Welcomed us to Hiva Oa.

Hello, Goddess.
Hello, destiny.

And then the sun came up.
And the skies cleared.

"I smell flowers!" Hunter shouted.
An island of dreams reared from the sea.

It was true.
You could smell.
Green.
Earth.
"Volcanic" said Jon.

And he looked lit up, 
like an angel.
Gabriel, with a sword of flames...
Only steering a boat and drinking coffee.
So, so handsome...
and deeply brave.

We did this.

It began to settle on us,
as the sun burst out in all its glory
and the island roared ahead,
white breakers crashing over black, sharp and broken rocks.
The stars laid down and gave us their blessings.
"Thank you" we said,
they had guided us well.

We pulled down the sails for the first time in 25 days and headed for shore.

We couldn't see the anchorage yet,
as it was, tucked behind the point...
But what's this?
Here comes a dingy...

A little, brightly painted dingy.
And a really, small, person is driving...

They wear a bright yellow life vest, as they rocket past the breakwater and into the big pacific swell to meet us...
We look,
We get the binoculars...
And then I see the tangle of white blond curls.

It is 6 year old TEDDY! from  SV. LOLO-
our friends from back in the Sea of Cortes.
They must have arrived a few days before us.

Teddy has been up since dawn to wait for us.
His parents heard our position on the SSB last night.

They see us flying our flags as we come into the anchorage...and Teddy races out to meet us.

Friends.
In Hiva Oa.

Teddy yelled and waved, gave us the thumbs up,
told us to watch out for some rocks,
asked if he could help with our stern anchor-
he's 6. Its bigger than he is.
...Boat kids.

His dad, Peter came out on deck, with gorgeous mama Rossanna and little cutey Poppy,
They blew a Conch horn for us
as we rolled into the anchorage,
all the other boats waved us a warm cheer and welcome...

We arrived.
and it was good,
glorious,
and love filled the air.

Kai and Hunter stared with wide-eyed fascination at the swaying coconut palms,
the sharp, volcanic cliffs towering over us.
"I love this more than anything," said Kai.

Roosters crowed  in Marquesan yards and the sounds of a village morning filled the air.

The anchorage was filled to the capacity with intrepid, wasted, resting, weary, grateful, travelers...

A boat that arrived just a day before us had been dismasted on the trip over.
We were not alone in thinking it was more than a challenging year on the "milk run".

As we puttered around, returning noble, trusty, Pura Vida to her non-crossing, cruising condition,
we hear smatterings and tales from fellow cruisers..
"Quite a show out there, eh?"
"We lost our...'"
"We had a hell of a time..."

A relief to know it wasn't just us.

But here we are.

We make the worlds strongest Mango screwdrivers and LOLO brings us freshly picked, pamplemousse- .
I fix up fresh banana pancakes and homemade organic spicy sausages and we listen to Taj Majal and soak it all in.

The love, the adventure,the great Ocean,
the enormity of what we all belong to.
Every single day of our lives,
even when we don't realize it.

Form the bottom of our hearts,
we thank everyone  who has joined us on this adventure.
Knowing you were with us and hearing your voices,
was being a part of something wonderful this past few weeks.
Many of you will leave us and go back to your lives and we wish you love and blessings and thank you for giving your time and thoughts and prayers,
to the ocean--and to us.

Today is both an end and a beginning for us.
One journey completed and another begins tomorrow.
We invite all Shellbacks and everyone else who wants to, to feel free to stay with us.
I probably won't blog on a daily basis (and I won't have the talented Emily helping manage the blog as I can now post when I get internet) but there will be photos and underwater photos and updates of all that we visit and the things we see as we continue to explore and learn more about our seas here in French Polynesia.

We especially appreciate the thoughts, open-hearted feelings, comments, poems and musings that you all have been adding to the blog.
We read every single word that you put out there and so do many other people.

There are too few places in the world were it's OK to participate from the heart and we feel blessed to have this small space to do it.
So by all means...
Keep on
chiming in.

Much love and gratitude and kisses and hugs from the crew of Pura Vida......
we bid you all adieu...
and we are off to......
SLEEP.

Xo,
Us.

FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 24

60 miles to go.

An epic Dawn broke through the clouds this morning, ending a seemingly endless night watch. These last hours surely go the slowest...
The sun rose, in a blazing orange fire dance to our port side, while to our Starboard set the full white moon, backed by the palest pink sky. A rainbow broke through the clouds a moment later, framing the whole thing in impossible to describe, shifting, traveling colors. Pretty...absolutely, stunning... but... Rainbows at Dawn (for a sailor) foretell squalls. Sure enough, we had a morning filled with them. The wind and seas were high enough that even with a double reef in our main and a scrap of jib out, we were doing six knots. At this speed we will arrive in Hiva Oa during the night, meaning we will have to either heave-to and lie off or simply pull down our sails and drift until dawn when we can make a safe approach during daylight hours.
Patience, young Jedi's...

We need lots and lots of the stuff at this stage.
We are tired.

The boat is showing signs of a heavy past few days of confused, lurching seas. This morning, our first and second reefs were chaffed nearly through--in spots too tricky to see at night (but now we're onto them and will take precautions) only a last minute save by our one-armed captain kept it from fraying completely through. In the gusty morning that would have been a drag, to have our reef blown out durng a squall. I fabricated a temporary chaffe guard from a old plastic can of Pringles potato chips and it seems to be doing the job--for now.

But land IS near...for the first time in weeks, we spotted two groups of GULLS. They were too far away to identify but they clearly were not their sea-going relatives, the Boobies and the Terns--these were LAND based birds--feeding on something in the waves!

Early this morning before the sun rose, I had a visit with some sort of small dark porpoises, it was too dark to make out their markings but I was happy to listen to them take those deep gasping breaths of air. You always hear them before you see them, when they surface and hurtle through the tumbling waves that rush past the boat.

It's cleared up, but the horizon is still hazy. If we were to spot land in the daylight, it would be visible somewhere around the 30 mile out zone--if it was optimal conditions, which it's not really, these past few days. Hiva Oa does have rather distinct peaks, so hopefully, this should give us an advantage.

We are already placing bets on who will be the first to shout; "LAND HO!" If I were you, I would bet on MOM. Anyone who knows this family, knows that they are all totally useless at finding ANYTHING. Usually, this entails things like, keys, wallets, socks, the other shoe... "MOM! HONEY! Where's my...I can't FIND IT!" is the constant refrain around here--I don't see why spotting an island chain in the middle of the pacific after three weeks at sea should be any different.
I think I got this one locked down.

Hunter came to me with this poem (all on her own-some), she had just read in her book (Alice in wonderland) and wanted to add it to the blog...

OH! HUSH THEE,
THE NIGHT IS BEHIND US,
AND BLACK ARE THE WATERS THAT SPARKLED SO GREEN.
THE MOON, O'ER THE WAVES LOOKS DOWNWARD TO FIND US,
AT REST IN THE HOLLOWS THAT RUSTLE BETWEEN,
WHERE BILLOW MEETS BILLOW, THERE SOFT BE THY PILLOW,
AH WEARY WEE FLIPPERLING CURL AT THY EASE!
THIS STORM SHALL NOT WAKE THEE,,
NOR SHARK OVER TAKE THEE,
ASLEEP IN THE ARMS OF THE SLOW-SWINGING SEAS.
                                             -SEAL LULLABY

The Importance of Documenting Biodiversity

FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 23

Last night, Somewhere between, 11pm and 2 am...I  finally figured it out.

Pura Vida was slinking through yet another dark alley of night,
brutish, squally thunderheads hung around the horizon, like sullen bullies.
Once in awhile, one would pounce down and beat the snot out of us with rain and wind, for 45 minutes before it took off again-
I swear, I could hear them laughing as they went.

Pura Vida weathered the assaults like a champ. Her sails and decks streamed rivers of water after the torrents but there were no damages.

The Moon peeked out from behind the clouds to apologize for the rough neighborhood and guided us on to the next, little square of latitude and longitude on our charts.

I stood facing the pitching darkness, alone on deck, drenched to the bone, wearing only a pair of soaking wet boxers and bare feet.
My precious family was asleep below, my good and strong captain somewhat beleaguered by an injury, our water maker had quit working again, we were still a long way from anywhere and I felt tired and old and scared and unsure...
and I asked the Universe,
What am I here to learn?

Of course, one hopes, when setting out on an adventure like this, that they will "discover" something unique,
gain some previously hidden insight into themselves and the world around them. That the time spent in commune, with the great and rolling Ocean and the wise Stars above, will shed some light on the mysteries that puzzle us humans so.

Well, last night...I found it.

The answer to ALL,
to everything,
the actual "key" to happiness in this material world.

I asked,
and the Universe said...

"Suck it up".

Most. Valuable. Lesson. Ever.

Your Therapist will  never tell you this is the answer to all your troubles, because it takes one second to say,
and you couldn't really charge more than 10 dollars, for saying it.

But it is...
The Answer to Everything.

Invoking this phrase and acting on it has mystical and magical properties,
I swear.
it took me, 2,637 miles of Ocean to figure it out.
But I did.

This has always been the Key, although back in the day, the phrase-ology was different...
"Carry on!"
"Chin up!"
"Put your best foot forward"
Was the cry of the enlightened...
SUCK IT UP, is what it is now.

It is the Key to everything because it offers no room for whingeing, whining, blame, copping out, quitting or being a pussy.
It requires youth be brave, independent, be your best self, forgive, forget, and most importantly... succeed.

It is the ultimate mantra because it teaches us to forget our injustices,
It gets us off our butts,
it makes us do the uncomfortable for the greater good,
It even forces us to recycle more.
It is HOW you learn to 'Love thy brother and they neighbor"-even when your brother and your neighbor are really pissing you off.

(It was actually the FIRST commandment God gave to Moses- but he accidentally dropped that tablet on the way down).

SUCK IT UP
activates your will, reorganizes your synapses, cleanses your mind, cleans your blood and fires up your Chi.
Saying these magical words will crystallize your intentions,
and once that happens,
whatever steps YOU need to take to accomplish YOUR goal, will become clear.
And this is why it is holy.

It's what Budda learned under the Bohdi tree.
What Jesus did out there in that desert,
and what Snoopy would tell Charlie Brown -if only he could talk.

"SUCK IT UP".
I tell myself this and pull on my Helly's and look at the wind and set my sails and adjust the course.
I make the boat sail properly, not too fast but not too slow, make the heel more comfortable and check for chafe,
I reset the traveller and go below to tuck in the kids and find Hunter's teddy and make sure the water pressure is off.
I am not an overtired 45 year old in the middle of nowhere, worrying about the squalls or the night or the miles between our boat and the rest of the world,
I am sailor-girl, adventure-mom, I am activist and poet and lover of all...
There is no room for doubt or fear, no self-destructive thoughts...
I am sailing the boat, I am loving the moment and I am
as close to the Jewel in the Lotus Crown or Made in Her Image, as I will ever be.

So there it is.

Today, we still have a broken water maker and a sling on an arm,
Our batteries still are low because of the clouds and we don't have any more apples.
But we are happy and whole,
And facing the day (which is sunny and windy and perfect)
and there are only 185 miles to go!

Kai's fact for the day
The High Seas -- areas of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction -- cover almost 50 per cent of the Earth's surface. They are the least protected part of the world.
Although there are some treaties that protect ocean-going species such as whales, as well as some fisheries agreements, there are no protected areas in the High Seas.

We have passed a few ships on this trip that were all lit up, steering side by side. These are ocean trawlers, working outside of protected zones.
They are trawling with giant nets between them scooping everything they can from the sea. Most of whatever they catch will be unusable and will be by catch-this included whales, turtles, dolphin and many many species of fish that are killed for absolutely no reason.


Make sure to ask how the seafood you are eating has been caught. If you don't know... don't eat it.
Bags of frozen shrimp are usually caught using large drag nets that kill everything in the sea.
Buy fresh shrimp when possible from local fisherman.
Going to the docks if you live near the ocean is a good way to learn about fishing and fisherman will sometimes sell you stuff right off their boats.

Captain's Corner:
A note on Suki and 'sucking it up'. For those of you who don't know...Suki is a gorgeous, sassy redhead with a big personality who can talk a great game. She has travelled all over the world, had all kinds of adventures, and given birth to two kids at home. It's easy to forget sometimes that she is also tiny (currently weighing in at about 11 pounds), a teeeeny bit high strung, has a HUGE imagination and is completely blind in the dark. Oh yeah, she also HATES to be cold. So for her to have been out there the last three weeks taking night watches, sailing this big fat boat through all kinds of rough and lumpy seas, enduring terrifying lightning storms, freezing cold deluges, a fairly constant string of gales and all with no moon to see by is amazing. The fact that she has done all that while cooking, cleaning, parenting, doctoring, all the while maintaining this steady stream of blog entries AND doing all my jobs for the last two days while I sit around with my arm in a sling AND having a smile on her face and looking like a million bucks is beyond words. This goes beyond sucking it up... This is BEING the goddess!!! She's my hero.


FIRST BIG CROSSING - Day 22

24 hour run-84 miles...boo.

Not there, yet!
This last leg has already brought some new challenges.
We've kind of had the wind taken out of our sails-literally.
First we got becalmed... all last night.
Slogging, slatting, clanging, sails and rigging...going nowhere-slowly.

And we also had our first injury aboard-not counting countless, minor, bruises, bumps, burns and scrapes.
Jon twisted his shoulder the wrong way during an unfortunate mismatch of waves and wind and lifting something heavy. It looks like he's managed to tear his shoulder rather badly enough to warrant a sling. I had to force the sling issue on him, despite much protesting and grumbling- because I happen to know ALL about unstable shoulders--and immobilization is the best thing for them.
That and rest, ice, and eating Advil like Smarties for a few weeks. The Advil we have, the ice and the rest-not so much. Jon is unbelievably frustrated (understandably), because being a Captain with one arm in a sling is about as much fun as being a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest.

Of course, the weather turned on us a few hours later and we went from no wind to squall central. It's more of a low, than a squall-the barometer DROPPED and we got hit with one blow after another all day long. The seas whipped up, we got hammered by rain and we had 20 knots-FROM THE SOUTH. Did I mention we are trying to SAIL South? The thing with sailing is you can sail close to the wind, or away from the wind or perpendicular to the wind but you cannot sail INTO the wind. SO we head west with as much of our nose sticking in that Southern wind as we can handle. Jon is in a sling and i am learning to do all those 'Blue" jobs i usually leave to the Brawny one. I feel worse for Jon, he is in pain AND watching scrawny ol' me, sloshing around on deck doing the heavy lifting--makes him crazy.
Yesterday we feasted on homemade Thai chicken and noodles in coconut sauce and tonight...it's get-it-yourself-cold cereal and crackers.
Such are the joys of cruising.
The GOOD news is, we have 318 miles left to go.
Please, let 'em go easy!

KAI and HUNTER:
Thanks everybody for all the emails and for reading the blog-cool to know you are following along.
We may not be able to answer every question today but we will get as many as we can and cover any we missed tomorrow...
So...

What do we eat?
Kai: 
I don't know. Food. When we aren't crossing an ocean we eat a lot of stuff we get from the sea, like fish and clams. oysters. scallops, lobsters. I fish for all of those either by free-diving or using scuba and spear fishing. I also like to fish from the dingy but I have better luck with the spear gun. There will be a lot of sharks where we are going next, so I will have to learn new ways to spearfish and fish than what we did in the sea of Cortes--there are not so many sharks there. I usually learn how to fish from the people that live where we are going. One thing about fisherman is they love to teach you how to catch fish their way.

Hunter:
Out here at sea, we eat Lots of canned and dried goods, things that we made ourselves and canned before we left.
Canning yourself means we put stuff in jars instead of cans actually-it tastes way better than store bought stuff and its better for the environment-because we don't throw away cans like, Tuna fish. We just caught fish before we left and cooked it ourselves and then you use it the same way you do stuff you buy in a store-only you can reuse the jar again.
We have to sink our trash in the ocean out here so we try to make as little as possible.
In the past three weeks we have made only one tiny bag of trash for 4 people.
My mom usually cooks really healthy but fresh stuff only lasts so long-about two weeks out here.
We make our own bread and yogurt and sprouts and stuff and we grow spices. My favorite kind of meals we have on board are lots of pastas and stews.

Do we get scared of falling in?
It is the thing my mom freaks out on us the most about and always has. She has ONE rule on board above all others-do NOT fall overboard.
There are procedures you go through if someone was to accidently fall overboard but honestly, out here, your chances of getting back on the boat would not be too good.
Its not scary though because we know how to act and how to move around in different conditions. When it gets really rough- we don;t go on deck and Mom and dad use their harnesses and clip into safety lines that run the length of our boat.

Hunter: we also have a rule that if you are going to go forward of the cockpit you ALWAYS have to tell someone.

Did everybody want to go on this trip?
Kai: Well, i did. I was totally excited. I get sea sick on the beginning of all of our trips but it goes away after a day or so and then I feel great.

Hunter: Yes and no. I was scared to go on this trip but now I would do it again.
Its way more fun than it is scary. I don;t get sea sick ever so I don't worry about that part.

DId we do a lot of planning and preparing for this trip?
YES!  There was SO SO SO SO SO SO MUCH stuff to do before we could leave.
It felt like it would never end. It is WAY easier to sail across and ocean than to get READY to sail across one. There was a ton of work to do-we helped with all of it from fixing the boat to shopping to helping mom can stuff. We also had to do medical stuff and get shots and things for all the jungles and places we will be going.
Well, that's it for now.

Oh yeah...
Hunter: I am reading THE SISTERS GRIMM SERIES. I just finished book 9 and i absolutely loved it.
I also sew a lot out here. I even made my own dress, and the pattern and everything, all by myself out of an old pillowcase.

Kai: I am reading GAME of THRONES-I am on book 4-it's really cool. There are a lot of characters and my favorite parts are about the stuff that happens on the Wall.
I mostly just read, sometimes I watch movies but mostly read, help sail the boat and do chores and fish. I have been really unlucky with fishing lately though. I can't wait to get closer to the islands where hopefully there will be more fish. Once we are back to anchoring and cruising i will fish everyday.

Why we have to be very careful about trash:




FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 21

24 hours- 128 miles
Miles to go:
395!

Where ARE we going, anyway?

The time has come for us to consider this question.
We were in such a mad scramble to ready ourselves (and the boat) for this adventure and before we knew it we were in the business of  actually DOING this epic crossing-that we haven't spent a lot of time lingering over the wonders that we are (hopefully, god-willingly) about to behold.

Paul Gauguin: She Goes Down to the Fresh Water
And, honestly, why does one cross an ocean, after all?
For each, the answer is different, and unique to the adventurer and their experience, but a large part, certainly must be...
TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE!
Which in our case is...
French Polynesia..
(because it belongs to France, for those of you new to this).

French Polynesia consists of four distinct island groups that sprawl over the South East corner of Oceania. The whole shabang covers about 1500 square miles and around 240,000 people of mostly Polynesian (with a smattering of Europeans and Asian) descent, live there. The Society Islands, Tuamoto archipelago, The Marquesas Islands and the Austral Islands comprise the majority of this group. The Marquesas are the closest point of land one encounters after leaving Cabo...
and so, our first stop
Fruit. Water. Soil...
and baguettes.

There are six large and six small islands in the group.
They are mountainous, volcanic, fertile and not fringed by coral reefs.
They became a French protectorate in 1842 after France signed a treaty with the various island chiefs.
There are no indigenous land animals in the Marquesas but plenty of wild pigs, sheep and horses that were a result of plantation days long gone by.

They rise steeply from the surrounding vast expanse of ocean and so are frequented by many species of whales, Mantas, whale sharks and very large sharks.

We have heard tales of immense waterfalls-600 feet high and perilous hikes through the steep mountain passes. Time to find those hiking shoes that we haven't seen in months! Come to think of it, I have no idea where ANY of our shoes are at this point.

We need to declare ourselves and Pura Vida at an official point of entry when we arrive and there are only two islands (of the six in the chain) where we can do this.

We had, at first, thought we would check into Nuku Hiva but then changed minds after learning that several of our other cruising friends will be heading for Hiva Oa. The past two nights we were able to check in over the SSB radio into an informal cruisers net of boats making the crossing. Many of the boats were already on approach to the Marquesas. The most exciting for us, was hearing our friends on LOLO, who are also headed for Hiva Oa--we had no idea they were also crossing but as it turns out, they are only about three days ahead of us. The past two nights another boat has checked in just 22 miles from our position! We can't see him-which seems amazing because it looks like you can see for like, 400 miles. We tried to call each other on the VHF and we could hear them but they could not receive us. It seems we have issues with our VHF radio--guess we'll just add that to the list of things to fix!

After checking in at Hiva Oa (also famous for being the last home and burial site of the french painter Paul Gauguin so, we will get to do more art history lessons for homeshool!) and getting some much needed rest, we plan to set sail for the Island of Tahuata. Our friends on Muktuk have been for the past few weeks and have written to us about how wonderful it is. They have told us that this is the only island with clear water in the Marquesas and that the snorkeling and free diving are superb and that the bay is visited by giant Manta rays.



Better get the underwater camera charged up...

All is well, we had great wind all day that seemed to die right off a few hours ago. The SSB radio is giving us fits and so we haven't had a weather grib download in a day or so.  Our Chart plotter (GPS) keeps losing its satellite signal which is disturbing--but it comes back on after a while.

Kai and Hunter:
We are wondering if losing our satellite signal on the GPS  has anything to do with two mysterious objects we have passed floating in the ocean.

MOM: (both times, this is exactly when the signal went out)

Kai and Hunter:
They look like large basketballs (like, maybe three times as big) with  tall broomsticks sticking out of the top of them and some bits of shiny metal (transponders?) floating out behind them. We think they might have something to do with recording weather or something.
They were about ten miles apart and not marked.
Mom says she hopes we aren't going to accidentally tangle in one some night.

If anyone out there knows what these might be-we would love to know!

Thanks!

Map of Pura Vida's Crossing

For those who haven't yet discovered this, there is a tab on this website with a map that Jon updates every day with their current location. Just click the link "Where Are We?" in the tabs.

Once you're there, you can zoom out and in, using the - and + buttons on the left side of the map. Zoom out first - you'll see Pura Vida's whole journey from Mexico.

FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 20

A long night.
The South East trades blew wide open, we had 22 knots on the forward quarter and a fast, 10-15 foot swell on the beam.
Back to the grind.

In order to keep us from falling too far West and missing Hiva Oa (tricky business, this estimating your course to make landfall, when sailing across a great distance), Pura Vida had to scratch and claw her way along on a close haul and take those big rollers straight on the beam.

We soldiered on. Took it on the chin. Peanut butter and crackers for dinner...again.
"Milk-Run" my patootie.

We've done more close-reached, hard on the nose, sailing on this trip than we ever have.
But we are getting hardened by the experience.
A salty glint flashes in the eye nowadays at the smell of bad weather.

Everyone on the boat has lost about ten pounds due to the 24 hour isometric fitness class we've been taking on these rolly seas. Kai has also had a major growth spurt in the last three weeks-so he's like 9 feet tall now, and rake thin-and is still the color of milk (no matter how much he tries to "tan"). He looks like some sort of giant white Heron we are smuggling into Polynesia. We are all looking forward to Hiva Oa, where the baguettes are supposedly wonderful and cheap. I'm sure Kai will sort himself out in no time!

So, the roll was back and the jerk and slosh and the waves were creeping higher and higher. Occasionally, a really big one would smash and break rudely over our rail. I got hit with a soaker in the cockpit and with it came a HUGE flying fish. It flopped around in it's death-throws, in the pitch black, smacking my bare legs with it's wings. I was shreiking and cursing until I could find a towel to grab him with and huck him over board. I'm just lucky it didn't flip down the open hatch and land on Hunter or Kai who were sleeping right beneath me in the sea berth! Only five more days or so..but five more days of this... was gonna be a grind.

We fell off a little and reefed in the sails. Night watch was gonna be another howler, nothing to do but sit behind the wheel and listen to the ocean hissing like a wet cat.

"Yeah , yeah..." I said, rolling my eyes at the challenging sea. "...what-ever". Sometimes, it works to speak to the Ocean in hushed tones of awe and gratitude but... there are other times, when you just gotta show some teeth. Treat her like she's your home-girl, and all the world's your ghetto. "That's right, you see me, putting this reef in?" I called out to the spitting Sea, "I'm just sailing across you, bitch, and I got ALL night, too..."

A little smack-talking goes a long way, when you just want to wet your pants you're so tired and scared.
But by late morning, we were best friends again.

The winds settled and the waves laid down, we could hold a good bearing on our course again...
Ahhhh.
That's better.



Which way does Pura Vida's toilet flush at the Equator?

This question was asked by Markus and Hugh, and the crew of Pura Vida has now answered...
We did not spend the actual MOMENT of our equator crossing in the head( a not so ceremonious a place to be)-so the ABSOLUTE second it switched is still a mystery.
But one minute before crossing and one minute after crossing the great switch had happened!
We are now a counterclockwise operation down here.
This video - from land - demonstrates the phenomenon.

FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 19

24 hour run - 118 miles

Week three at Sea and the longing has set in.
We are craving.
Fruit.
Fresh.
It's all anyone can think about, these days.
The tiny herb planter, I made back in La Paz (and have lovingly cared for out here),
is the only thing standing- between us and madness.
(that, and two green apples and a box full of foil-wrapped Anaheim peppers).
We have been making our own bread and yogurt and in another day, the sprouts will start to come in.
But our desperate NEED cannot be filled by Mung beans.
Only a huge, greasy, CHEESEBURGER, cooked-by-someone-else-and-loaded- with- fresh-lettuce-avacado-and tomatoes ...will fix us.
We dream of Mangoes! Pamplemousse! Banana! Papaya!
All awaiting us...only 650 miles away!

The boat is quiet as a tomb a lot of the time-everyone has their nose buried in a book.
Note to future kid-boat cruisers: However you do it with them it will be wonderful, but to make a crossing with children who already know how to READ...is a godsend. Neither child has ever asked "when will we get there?" on this trip. They haven't even played cards or drawn much. Just read, read, read, read and talk about everything under the sun.

We let homeschool be very free-association these days. It has turned out to be a great lesson for US in becoming better at teaching/guiding our children through this (often daunting) experiment of homeschooling them. No text books or work books, no making anyone do a certain amount of "pages" everyday before swimming. They willingly contribute when its time to talk about what they want to write on the blog-as long as I type. Which is fine, because who wants to try and type on a rocking horse-it's bad enough for me. We stick to what comes with no conflict.

2000 miles out to Sea-who needs time-outs? We try and keep it fun.

A year spent in Mexico, has given both kids a real love of communicating in another language. We will forever have the warm and gracious Mexican people to thank for that. They encouraged and complimented and inspired the kids (and us) so much that it made us WANT to practice and try. When we talked about learning French, the kids couldn't wait to start. Everyday, is Rosetta stone and books about fish and whales and lots of peering over the shoulder at Dad's mechanical manuals or Mom's cookbooks.

And the days out here are not as long as one might think. There is always much to do and watches and constant sailing and all the usual chores of running a ship and a household. It's hard to believe its already been 19 days.

Yesterday was a study in a South Pacific Ocean fantasy.
We drifted along on a 10 knot breeze, in perfectly lovely seas, under a sunny sky for 24 hours. We only touched the sails to take down the spinnaker when the wind increased enough to hold out the Genoa. It was heaven. We got caught up on some needed down time, reading, bathing in the solar shower, trying different hooks and lures on our totally empty fishing line.

This morning was a different kind of world out here.
We ran though about six line squalls, with winds and seas and we got hammered by heavy rain but this is now routine. It was no big deal. In fact, it all happened on my watch and other than having to wake Jon up to move the generator off the deck, Hunter and I managed it all just fine-reef in, reef out, head up, fall off, open all the hatches, close all the hatches...we even baked a loaf of bread during the deluge.

Jon came on watch and looked at the weather gribs and tweaked our course. The sun broke through the clouds and the winds picked up and as I went down for my off watch to snuggle and snooze with Hunter-Jon announced that we were in the beginning of those South East Trades. The wind has risen steadily all day-we're in 12-15 doing about 6.5 knots now. If that keeps up, we could have "Land-Ho!" and mangoes in six days!

It's funny how life seems normal out here now- although, I admit, there is, still, that underlying tone of dread, coursing though my veins at all times. I sleep with one eye open and all children are accounted for, at every moment. I still peek through the hatches every hour, on my off watch- just to make sure Jon is still on deck. Even though we are getting closer to our destination, we are still, amazingly, in the middle of nowhere and very much on our own.

I know Jon is the same- he keeps many of our systems on a "need to know" basis with me so I won't panic about anything, I don;t know how he manages to keep his cool all the time-but thankfully, he does. He just tackles whatever daily, potentially, life-threatening problem we are having, one step at a time.
And I try and make sure not to feed us any rotten eggs.

KAI:
What I miss about land is...
Fruit.
Stableness.
Hiking.
What I like about out here is...
I like getting to read all day and the gently rocking back and forth of the waves. It is peaceful being on the ocean for lots and lots of days, in a way that feels different from anywhere or anything else.
My favorite time of the day on the boat is sunset. Everybody takes a moment to calm down and watch the day end. Sometimes we just watch the sunset and sometimes we talk for hours about where we might go and what we might do and sometimes we talk about home.
This is the time of day when we are getting ready for night watch. Mom goes down for her off watch and Dad and I talk about the books we are reading.

HUNTER:
What I miss about land:
Having things stay still for one second!
Walking.
Interacting with other people.
I like it out here because you can't get bored, you always have to do stuff. We have to help with sails and chores but then there is a lot of time to read and cook and play with mommy and daddy and Kai, of course.
My favorite time of day on board is the morning. Mom is usually on the dawn watch, she starts at 5 and goes until dad gets up around 8:00. I like to do this one with her and watch the sun come up. We drink tea and sit in the cockpit and I help her with the sails. We usually make bread then so the boat doesn't get too hot later in the day.

Captain's Corner:
The fine art of squall-sailing. This is something we had read about before leaving but were in no way clear on. The idea is that during stretches of no wind in the doldrums, you can use the line squalls that come through to your advantage and gain precious miles. The idea of sailing AT a line squall seemed a little crazy at the time but hears the thing... It totally works. We had a very unlucky version of the ITCZ. It is normally about 200-300 miles across but for us... 730 miles! 730 miles between anything that could be considered 'Trade-winds". We managed to traverse that huge expanse and still have half of our fuel by Squall hopping. Usually, if we were becalmed, you could look in any direction and see Squalls large and small. The biggest would take up about one third of the visible horizon at a distance. The idea was to guess the speed and trajectory of the squall you wanted to jump on, aim for the intersect point that would have you riding the leading edge of the squall and motor towards it. As soon as you got within a couple of miles of it you you start to get wind on your forward quarter. Off goes the engine, out go the sails and zoom, you're sailing. As you work your way around it the wind would clock around to the beam and then aft and then finally die. If you do it right you get a little rinse off, a little cool down and 1-2 hours of boogie-woogie sailing giving you 10-12 miles and then you look for the next one. Of course sometimes you get it wrong and get overtaken by the beast and soaked and hammered but you still get your miles. For six days this is what we have done and 40 gallons of fuel went a loooooong way!



GOOD MORNING SHELLBACKS! (First Big Crossing: Day 17)

At 11:21 PM Pacific Standard Time Pura Vida and her merry crew, crossed the equator under sail, with a beautiful moon shining overhead, a sky full of stars, and the Southern Cross leading us onward. The seas were gentle beneath the hull and the air was soft and heavy in the tropical warmth. We sat in the cockpit, marveled at the sheer awesomeness of where we are and what a blessing this journey has been so far.
A joyful crew, we raised our glasses and toasted our Captain for getting us this far with such courage and wit.
And we munched our "Shellback" cake.

The entire day prior to this sublime moment was spent in high-jinks and festivities. There were re-enactments of the great SHELLBACK legend, much cake making and decorating, much silliness and laughter, plenty of dancing and singing-along at the top of the lungs. As the bubbly was put to chill, we were visited by a rare and endangered Sei whale who came to have a look and give his tidings-a big, salty burp.

When we realized we would be crossing in the dark-
we opted to do our special blessing of the ocean with all our thoughts from you, at sunset. We were just a few degrees from the equator and the sky was the most beautiful we have seen it all during the trip. We celebrated with thoughts going out to each and every one of you, who's names we had written on tiny colored cotton strips. We beckoned the ocean to listen for a minute as we sent it a message of committment from all of us. Sigor Ros played on the speakers and the sun sent pink and golden fires across the horizon. We lit some incense and spoke some words silently and out loud and the kids tossed everyone's names and wishes into the Sea.

It was a perfect moment--one we will never forget. We took lots of pictures, which we'll post when we can and everyone can see what a lovely celebration you all participated in.

Wherever you are today and whatever you are doing, know that your wishes, thoughts and prayers, are forever drifting on the waves.

You are now, and always, a part of the "Blue Heart" of our planet.

And...
It is only 795 MILES to HIVA OA!

Kai's corner:
Hey Peyton, So cool to hear you're following the blog with your class. Hi to everyone at BICS-the BEST school ever! Well, homeschool on a boat IS pretty good, too.
Sei Whale - click to enlarge
Yesterday, dad was on watch when he shouted "whale!". We haven't seen one in a while so we were pretty excited. We have whale identification books that help us figure out what we are looking at-they don't always come that close-but you can guess what kind they are by studying their spouts, and their tail flukes, how many there are in a group, where you are seeing them and stuff like that. This one got really close, he actually came to check us out. We knew right away he was some kind Rorqual (baleen whale) so we looked closely at his very small dorsal fin to help figure out what kind it might be. It was slender, upright and curved on the tailing end. We haven't seen one exactly like this before so this was our first clue that this was a new species for us. It was alone and had a particular dive pattern and a not very distinctive blowspout (we look at the height and shape of these) other factors and like where we are led us to believe that it was most likely a SEI whale. One cool thing about the SEI whale is that unlike humpbacks, they are not lunge feeders-they just open their mouths and swim steadily though the food rich waters.

Hunter's facts:
Sei whales are endangered, we have seen a lot of kinds of whales but this is the first SEI we have ever SEEN.
Sei whales are found in deep temperate waters world wide. They are usually found at lower latitudes-which is where we are, so that's probably why we got to see one. Did you know that a Sei whale's birth weight is 1600 pounds!
What a big baby! Also, they are already 14 feet long at birth.
When they grow to adult weight, they will weigh around 35 tons and be 69 feet long.
The one we saw yesterday was probably 50 feet long.-that's bigger than a school bus!
Hey, Myah and Rhiannon and Grace-next time you are on the school bus think about how big this whale was. He came to look at us and was just 20 feet away from our boat-which is 44 feet long-so he was bigger than us, too!
Miss you guys!

Captain's Corner:
A comment on comments...Emily has been dutifully forwarding them all to us each day via the messenger birds. They have become one of the highlights of our day!!! To Jerry G, the greybeard loon, Sam T and all his friends... Vee lauff ewe!!! keep 'em coming! We gather around the albatross landing platform every morning, waiting for the birds' arrival, hoping he has some fresh news tied to his wrinkled toes. For all the other folks who have dropped a line here and there... muchas gracias! They have all been read, and laughed at and cried over and totally appreciated. The Grandma's, The Grundy's, Eleventwice, Manta, all our Bowen friends, the Mare's, the Leckie's, Pura Vida's previous parents....and everyone else. Thanks for being with us.
Many Thanks,
Jon

FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 17 -- Message in a Bottle and EQUATOR TONIGHT!

24 hour run - 63 miles
ETA equator - Midnight!!


Before we left San Jose Del Cabo, I looked up what sort of maritime rituals were involved in becoming a SHELLBACK.

Pageantry usually plays a big part in these ceremonies-in fact, the whole show was most likely, originally invented to break up the inevitable monotony of extended sea voyages, especially those that cross such a roasting hot latitude! A boost to morale and a cure for the boredom of a long passage at sea.

But what exactly are these ceremonies?
Different Navies celebrate this longstanding custom, and as with many traditions, in the armed services, the objective is always slanted to bond the greener Men to the Old Guard and in general, a fair amount of hazing seems to be in order.
The "pollywog" was a lowly sort of creature-uninitiated and naive and the "Shellback" was a venerable, wise and competent thing to behold. Pollywogs were subjected to various unpleasantries, like crawling through garbage, eating refuse, being harangued and bullied, ridiculed and forced to complete inane tasks.
Pollywogs are then made to face the court of Neptune and upon judgement (and crossing the equator) be deemed worthy and thus receive a "stamp" of some sort, declaring one an official SHELLBACK. This card, once stamped, is to be carried at all times, or a Seaman could expect to repeat the process again, should he cross the equator on another ship.

Well, far be it from the crew of Pura Vida to turn down a chance to get into costume--but hazing? We have had quite enough of crawling around our own refuse these past few weeks and putting up with various humilities doled out by our great ocean and I was thinking of a ceremony more along the line of a nice party with some champagne--and, maybe, a pretty dress in there somewhere.

However, sailors ARE a superstitious bunch and as we don't  like to stray far from tradition, we wondered how we could incorporate elements of the naval ceremony--only without all the nasty bits.

So, how did these rituals begin?
What is their origin story?
Out here in the big Yonder, we have no Wikipedian Oracle to run to, so we were left to mutter our questions aloud and ask the flying fish and the Booby birds--but no one seemed to remember where the story of the POLLYWOG and The SHELLBACK came from.
We began to despair about what we would do for a ceremony.
That is, until this morning...
While becalmed, on the flattest sea imaginable, Kai spotted a bottle floating towards us.
In the spirit of environmentalism, we looked to fish this spoilage from the sea and as it approached the boat ,
we discovered, to our astonishment, a NOTE inside the bottle.
This is what it said:

To Whom it may concern,
It has come to our attention, that yea proclaim to be seekers of a certain knowledge of certain mysteries, occurring hereabouts, a longy time ago.
Thus have we consulted on the question and repaired unto Yea, a short transcription of such events, that did in fact take place.
We vow this account to be,
the Truest True of all the possible Truths.
Yours Truly,

-there were no signatures, only  (what looked like) a large fish scale stamped into the paper.

Inside the bottle was a second scroll:

The TRUE tale of how the SHELLBACK became so wise.

In the Deep and Long ago,
The Queen of the Universe sat on her throne, inspecting all that she had made.
The Earth was beautiful and it's creatures a marvel of all the galaxies.
The Queen was filled with Joy and she laughed out loud.
But alas, she had no one to laugh with.
So then she took a tooth from a from a playful dolphin and a hair from a silly monkey and swirled them together in a net of Starshine,
And this is how the first Children of Man were born.
The Queen adored these children and she spoiled them terribly.
She called them her "Pollywogs".
They had full run of the Earth and could go where they pleased and have whatever they wanted of the bounty of her world.
They were fun and clever and always getting into everything.
The Pollywogs ran wild and the world was filled with their songs.
But as they grew and grew, their appetite was huge and they ate everything in sight.
The more the Queen gave them, the more they wanted and they fought and cried, yelled and screamed,
and left their garbage everywhere.
They even burnt down parts of the beautiful palace and smashed things.
Always they wanted more form their Mother, until one day, the poor Queen had no more to give.
She lay down and could not get up.
The children were frightened.
"Why won't our mother get up?" They cried.
"We are hungry and there is no more food!"
But the Queen did not answer.
There was no one to answer, for the sea was empty, the birds and the whales were all gone.
What shall we do? The Pollywogs cried.
Just then, a tiny jellyfish floated by.
"You could try King Neptune, who sleeps in the middle of the world, he is as old as Time and he will know what to do."
So the Pollywogs went to the Equator and called for King Neptune.
They awoke him from his nap and he was grumpy.
His beard was long and full of sea cucumbers.
"What have you done? You naughty children!" He scolded them.
"You are not babes anymore, look how big you have grown! "
The Pollywogs hung their heads and cried. They had not meant to do so much harm.
King Neptune felt pity for them.
He took out two beautiful cloaks woven from Love and Understanding.
He placed them on the shoulders of the children and they turned into shells.
"You are no longer Pollywogs, silly children, who take and take with no thought for future generations.
Now you are wise Shellbacks and you have seen the truth..."
He looked at them sternly.
 "She's not only your Mother but the Mother of us all".
Then he stamped their Passports with sticker-stamps to show that they had travelled far and wide in a genuine quest for knowledge.
The children returned to their mother, not as spoiled Pollywogs, but as wise and venerable Shellbacks.
They treated the Queen well and appreciated her, and they always cleaned up after themselves,
and when she gave them things, they never took more than their share.
The Shellbacks gave the Queen presents of flowers and they put up flags and danced to disco music,
and the Queen was joyous and laughed and wore a pretty dress and drank champagne and baked them a cake  in the solar oven because no matter how our children behave--Our Mother will always love us.
As long as we learn from our mistakes.

And this is the exactly how it happened.

Well,  now that we are armed with the WHOLE story...
here's a chance to don a costume and toast some grog!
So, today in the middle of the flat and endless sea,  as we approach the equator,
We will  re-enact the Shellback story to the best of our abilities,
write the final names on cotton, of all of you who have been so wonderful and joined us on our journey this far,
We will prepare our disco playlist...
And get that cake out of the solar oven!

Then as we pass that final countdown, we will raise our consciousness to our Mother Ocean,
and toss all of our prayers, into the Sea.


FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 16

24 hour run: 138 miles


Wow. I can't even begin to do this justice.
Out here.
BECALMED.

So still.
So empty.
So huge.
So silent.
So BLUE.

"BECOME CALM...",
said the Sea.
"The WInd is busy, somewhere else,
this may take awhile."

We turn off the engine.
and DRIFT...
in the Zero degrees,
the minutes of naught.

This is the world of dreamers.

"COME IN" said the Sea, presently.
She had seen us looking.

Acolytes of the Big Blue, we couldn't resist.
To refuse the invitation would be to lose a moment offered to so few.

We clung to the swim ladder and the boat lazed along.
Looking below us, we saw FOREVER.
14,000 feet straight down...To the beginning of Time.

Maybe being awake for two straight weeks heightens your sense of the experience...
But when it all stops moving for a minute,
the veil falls off,
and you find yourself staring the Goddess straight in the face.

Back on the boat we make lunch.
Ham salad and Ice tea.
We play music but out here mellow playlists are lost in the dream,
It's Arena Rock. Ludvig B., Zepplin, Queen...
Go big or Go home...
Whatever you do, stay awake and alert.

You still need to check the horizon every twenty minutes.
Or you could miss the huge tanker that bore down on us yesterday,
He appeared on the horizon and within 7 minutes, he was right on our position.
We had seen him coming, so we were fine but the kids and I were overjoyed to see another BOAT!
I grabbed our VHF.
"Big Tanker, Big Tanker, This is Sailing Vessel Pura Vida, How Copy?"
"Ya." Said the Tanker. " Vee copy you. This is Vessle Magdolene"
"Oh, Hi!" I said, like I was serving brownies at the church social,
"How, ya doing? No emergency.  Um....Just saying hello. We're form Canada and California and we've got kids on board and everything's just fine, we only wanted to reach out because we haven't seen anyone out here in like two weeks..."
Big pause.
"Vood Evenink, Mizzus." said the Tanker.
Then, Click. They hung up.
Really, that's all you got?
No other humans for 2000 miles around and your SOOOO busy you can't even say hello?
Oh well, not everyone's a Chatty Kathy, I guess.

Now, to the BIG question:

WHEN WILL WE  BE CROSSING THE EQUATOR????
It is currently 52 miles away...
We are presently going 1 1/2 knots.
Jon is estimating sometime tomorrow... or the next day...

And just so you don't worry, we promise...
No more swimming.

But while you're waiting for your great honorary Shellback journey... have a look at this film:


FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 15

24 HOUR RUN - 133 MILES

Flat seas. No wind.
Ahhh...this is what we were EXPECTING.
We motor on.

Jon has decided to use Ol' Perkie for 48 hours and about 2/3 of our diesel to press through as much of this as we can - after that, we will have to take whatever we get.
Just as every sailor to cross these seas before us, ever has.

We like to think about who has travelled these waters in eons past.
First Men in their balsa rafts, canoes, longboats and skiffs, the Colonizers and Claimers in their  Galleons and Warships, Emissaries, Rulers, Explorers, Tyrants, Refugees, Pirates, Hunters, Gatherers, Thieves, Poets, Seekers and Scientists, Those who bring religions and Those who fled from them.

The ITCZ can extend South of the equator for quite a ways  before those trades kick in, which means we could be stuck in this area for some time -if the winds don't cooperate. Right now, the weather gribs don't look promising. In fact, they say we're screwed and will be stuck in the Doldrums for like 300 more miles.

We decide to stop looking at the unpromising weather gribs and enjoy what we have. Which is, sunshine and a sky blue above that has no trace whatsoever, of Man's sticky fingerprints. The Ocean purrs and lolls beneath us, kneading, with soft paws, licking Pura Vida with a salty tongue. We receive the affection gladly, knowing that at any moment she can become an altogether different beast. Claws and Fangs and a Thing so wild, she might swallow the Earth in one bite. But right now, it's glorious to feel accepted by this untamed place.

It was practically impossible to stay awake during watch last night- we rocked so gently and the stars shone so perfectly, it was hard to tell if you weren't already dreaming.

Today brought squalls but we were seasoned and hardened by the Sea and we saw them a comin'. We have our moves down.

We learned to take them in the Buff, too. It's the tropics after all and hotter than hades, so you aren't gonna die of exposure and nothing is so banal as constantly shedding and drying out foul weather gear. So when the rains come with their whooping winds... we strip to the birthday suits. Nothing adds a little humor to a squally situation than watching your crew madly work a winch with their Kiesters hanging in the breeze.

My fairy blog-mother, Emily, who manages this shindig while we are at sea, posted us the sad news about what went down at the Boston Marathon. I know it is one of a hundred thousand atrocities, suffered everyday, but  never-the-less, our hearts broke, out here in the great expanse.
How on earth can we help our planet if we can't stop hating on eachother?
It made me think of that song ONE by U2...
and that groovy Irishman, Mr. Bono, knew a thing or two about living in the shadow of extremist views...

"Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you... now you got someone to blame?
And it's one Love,
One Life,
One Need... in the Night,
One Love, that we got to share,
and it leaves you baby,
if you don't care for it"....

We cranked up our speakers and stood on our deck, 
and sang or hearts out .
For us, beautiful, conflicted humans, our incredible planet...
and  for one moment,
the 2000 miles of ocean, 
that separates our tiny, floating vessel from everyone we know and love,
was nothing.
The world is small, baby
It's our hearts that are the big crossing.

"...One life, with each other..
Sisters, brothers...
One life
but we're not the same...
We got to carry each other,
Carry each other...
ONE..."

Seriously, go put that song on-
I know you have it on your playlist somewhere .

(And the supposed fairy-blog-mother, who still has Internet... also has YouTube at her disposal:)



Support Sylvia Earle's Blue Hope Kickstarter Campaign


If you've been following this blog for a while, then you've already heard of Sylvia Earle, and how her work has inspired Suki, Jon, Kai and Hunter. She's trying to put together a book, and needs our support to gain valuable National Geographic funds for it.

If you're interested in helping, you can do so, here, on her Kickstarter page:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sylviaearle/blue-hope-an-ocean-book-for-the-world

Watch Sylvia's well-known TED talk, here:


And see her Kickstarter appeal, here:

Coconut Milk Run

... that's one name for this voyage, apparently. Another is the Pacific Puddle Jump. These obviously make the thing sound a lot easier than it is, but maybe that's due to the new perspective gained by those who've done it. I found this video of another boat who made the jump, and I think it's enlightening for those of us "honorary future shellbacks" who are not actually aboard Pura Vida. Now we can see what this voyage looks like! Or at least what it looked like to some other people; for the real thing we'll still have to wait until Jon, Suki,  Kai and Hunter make it to a good Internet connection and upload their photos. Enjoy!

--Emily




FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 14

24 hour run-118 miles

THANK YOU! To everyone who shook their medicine rattles (after reading yesterday's post).
We had a lovely CALM evening, no death-defying activities, all was smooth and even SAILING in the right direction-not expecting to do that in the doldrums but there we were, doing 6 knots in a 14 knot breeze with smooth lovely seas and the moon finally showing up when the clouds took a breather.

All aboard was well enough this morning, to have a proper breakfast together,  pumpkin-spiced pancakes, bacon and fresh orange juice.  Sheets of warm, tropical rain  hammered the decks, while we read and napped and did our French Rosetta stone lessons and straightened up the boat. All the while, the forever and endless changing of the watch, went on and on and on....

We are still in the Doldrums-in fact we are only now in what is usually considered the "beginning" of the Doldrums- after two days. The ITCZ had jumped so far up, that we get to feel its effects much longer than most passagemakers. This has required some "acceptance" on our part. We have henceforth renamed the ITCZ the " Never-ending, endless, endlessness...of all ends".

The ITCZ has made me into an amature weather expert. The near ass-kicking we were dealt that first night has driven me to read every book on board that talks about weather patterns and identification. We are students of Alan Watts out here-and there are two of them, each great gurus in their own fields and who have much to offer a wandering mind on a long and questioning journey.  There is the hep-cat, beatnik lover philosopher,"Do you do it, or does it do YOU" Alan Watts-and I gotta say, that title is incredibly appropriate out here. The Other, Mr. Watts, is a weather man. He has written several books on weather that I think everyone-sailor or no should own. THE WEATHER HANDBOOK is a bible to us out here. We can order wind GRIB files to download and ponder as we plot our course but no one can tell you what the weather will be-you must look to the clouds and your instruments. The weather Handbook helps you identify what they mean and actually FORETELL with your own two eyes, what might be in store for you in the coming hours. If you are planning a garden party or a golf tourne or a kite flying regatta, your local news station will only give you a mass generalization based on the largest metropolis in your area. If you want to know what to plan for the weekend, when you have arrived at your cottage, pack this little book with you, stand outside in the garden and look up. Our vista of information is so vast at the moment and we are in such a tricky spot on the planet with so many weather things happening at once-it's a little confusing. Over there is a warm occlusion being met by a passing cold from being intersected by a thunderstorm. With book in hand, Jon guides Pura Vida through this palace of Giants. We do our best to tip-toe past the nastiest and grumpiest looking beasts as they slumber and roll on the horizon, counting down the endless miles of blue carpet we have yet to cross before finding the doorway that will lead us to the relative safety and comfort of those South East trades.
Which as of this writing should hopefully be only.... miles away.

And a big congratulations to all of you joining us on this adventure-we finally past the half way mark!
Thank you for being such a wonderful "crew" we love having you all with us.

Kai's thoughts:

The weird thing about being out here is that when you look outside all you can see is ocean and sky. That's it. We haven't had any sort of land thing to look at since fourteen days ago when we left Cabo-but the funny thing about it is...it FEELS like we have been in all kinds of different places. Like, when it was super roll-y and big and kind of tiring at the beginning, that was like, one country. Then it got really hot and the ocean was super blue and then there was the place where we had our first showers on deck and the ocean was grey and the clouds looked way different and also the place where we saw the shark or got stuck in no wind or had the lightening storms or the big squalls-its all been the same whole Pacific Ocean all this time but I feel like I have been to all these different places already.

Hunter:

It rains all the time now, usually people think it would be hot sailing to the equator but you have to remember we are going to the tropics which is way wetter than Baja which is arid and desert. Good thing we are from Bowen Island and I love the rain. It makes me miss my friends but it's fun to go on deck during the squalls. The wind gets so crazy it comes from different directions every couple of minutes and it rains so hard you can't see anything but white. By mom makes me wear my harness, so don't worry. I don't think the squalls are scary, I think they are beautiful because they remind me of home!

And an add-on from the web-person...
Weather satellite image from today. Ahhh... looks much calmer where they're headed!



Contacting Jon and Suki

Jon and Suki do get your comments, which I forward to them over SSB, once a day, but they cannot receive emails, photos, or look at websites, etc. They send a text-only SSB message to me every evening, which I turn into the post with whatever photos/videos I add from here. If you send them links/etc. they will no doubt go back and look at them when they get to an Internet-capable port... and that may be quite a while!

Also, please remember that they may not always be able to report in regularly, and I may not always be able to get the report published as soon as they do. Sooo... if you feel like you've been waiting longer than you expected -- keep waiting! They're safe, and eventually the next report will appear. :-)

And of course, they're grateful for your comments and well-wishes. They are sailing with a cloak of our collective love and good intentions, and it just can't get much safer than that!

--Emily

FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 13

The sun just came up.
Everyone on the boat is asleep.
The engine is running for the first time in 13 days and 1100 miles.
A rainbow just burst through the massive clouds ahead of us and splashed into the ocean.
What Doldrums? This is beautiful...

It was also absolute HELL for the past twelve hours.

I look down at my wrist, where I have my Tibetan prayer beards coiled around my hand.
You know it's been a rough night if I broke out the beads.

Lightning.
Like you cannot believe...
If it wasn't so awesomely terrifying, it would have been the best light show I have ever seen- and trust me, that's saying something, coming from an ex-Deadhead.

It started on my watch-of course.
Jon was just going down after his "long watch" 6-10.
He had let me sleep and extra half hour, the seas had settled nicely and we were still sailing along (expecting the winds to die soon) but he was watching the sky when I relieved him on deck.
"There's a little lightning"he said.
Oh yeah. " I said, swallowing the instant rush of nausea that comes over me whenever I get afraid. "I'll keep an eye on it" I tried to sound confident. "I'm sure it's heat lightening"--the humidity is stifling.

A half hour later I was shaking his foot,
"Honey, sorry to wake you but... we better pull in the sails and fire her up, we need to get the hell out of here".

Lightning.
Everywhere. SO much of it. The sheet stuff, the big crackling mad-scientist bolts, the entire sky back-lit by blood red fire.

We even saw some sort of cosmic alien space bomb weirdness land in the ocean after a particularly big burst. A GREEN SWIRLING BALL- like a falling flare but it lasted way less long, before fizzling out in an explosion of red sparks.
WHAT THE HELL?
We looked at each other and...laughed.
Because, honestly, when it gets THAT crazy....what else can one do?
North South East West, it flashed in all corners of the sky.
No where to run-but run we did.

There is still no moon and with the cloud cover we would have to wait for the big bursts to see the outlines of the "thunder bumpers ". That's our cute kid-name for them but these ones were not cute. These were middle of the pacific monsters. We had no wind-which made things manageable but managing terror is always a sort of rear calm, really polite, "can I get you anything, honey...and do you know where the VHF is for the ditch-kit?"

A ditch kit is a thing you pack with food and safety items and you hope to never mention again...because honestly, ditching in the middle of the Pacific is not an option.

Now, this is all from our newbie perspective, too. So maybe there is an oldy-salty type person who would be WAY more sanguine about the whole thing. Me? It scared the pants off of. The lightning was close and everywhere and that is just a helpless thing to feel on the boat. Jon drove through it as best he could manage, we slalomed around the biggest, nastiest looking clouds as they lit up and after a huge amount of praying and pleading with the universe, some stars poked out and we aimed for those. A big storm cell moves really fast though, so it was many miles and many hours of hide and seek. At one point I looked up to the sky to wish us a safe passage on a star I saw over the mast. I realized as I finished my wish this was no star-it was my own mast light. I took that as a sign. This isn't personal-it's a phenomenon and its up to you guys to brave it out.

Which we did. The kids slept throughout he whole thing--except for the moment when I moved them from the sea-berth (directly beside the mast) and into our less lightening strike prone bed in the aft cabin. I told themI didn't want them getting wet every time I opened the hatch to change watches with daddy. A little lie never hurt if it makes kids go back to sleep.

We got through it. Thank you, Universe and there was no sleep for either of us so finally Jon took off for a little nap and I sat down to write this...

I am now finishing this several hours later. We have been in high squalls all day, with unbelievable rain and winds clocking around like crazy. The rain was a blessing because when Jon went down for his nap this morning, I made a pot of tea and Kai woke up and I got distracted saying good morning to him so I left the water pressure on (A big no-no out here because if you spring a leak you could very quickly empty your tanks without knowing it, especially with the engine drowning out the sound of the bilge pump). Jon woke up an hour later and went into the engine room to discover that underneath the engine was flooded with FRESH water. The line that comes out of the hot water tank above the engine had ruptured and after a terrifying night of no asleep we discovered we had lost HALF of our fresh water supply. That's right folks. Secondary tank empty yesterday and now HALF of the primary today. Middle of the Pacific-two weeks left to go.
Jon looked at me and told me not to worry he had done the math already and we had enough on board to survive. When I could breath again and the feeling returned to my body, he told me he would run the water maker and I went upstairs and prayed for rain.

Well, that prayer worked, too!
So, after a long night of dodging squalls we spent the whole day chasing them! - which the kids thought was a blast and really once the sails were all reefed within an inch of their stitching, it was all cool. But we did manage to refill almost both tanks entirely just from Catchment.

And we rode the tail end of one squall for a few hours with 15 knots from the North East-almost like we were out of the doldrums but we are SOOOO not even close yet but it was a positive-though rainy few hours of good wind and gentle seas all headed in the right direction.
Hey, we'll take it.

So....
Not to worry, Mommies and Grandpaps  and all our faithful readers...
We are still here, still heading South (under power) and are a little more experienced than yesterday...
and praying for no lightning tonight.

Break out the Ju-Ju beads!!

PS. If I am ever a day late in writing one of these--do not panic. I might have overestimated my abilities to type in chaotic seas or even email when dealing with wonky propagation in weird convergence zones--so PLEASE do not worry (I know its hard when I write a freaky one like this one) I will write the moment I can. We are doing fine out here--really. It's an OCEAN we're crossing so ...we're gonna have our crazy days!

Captain's Corner:
Well , she kinda said it all but here's something to chew on... After all this time and all these miles, we are STILL getting farther away from land rather than closer to it! How bout them apples?
Oh, and I fixed that water line...Phew.