After Illusion sat in Ko Olina Marina for over a year we were pretty keen to work out somewhere else for her to be. We’d gone there originally because they were the only place to get back to my emails confirming Doug could arrive there and the paperwork seemed manageable. It worked out fine as a place to arrive to from the Marquesas, but overall we had a slightly disappointing time there – it’s right by a resort and is basically a really impractical spot unless you have a car, and even if you do, it’s not that ideal. The restaurants, shops and bars at the resort were crazy expensive and to get to other stores required a longish walk and bus-ride. There were a couple of friendly people on other boats, but it wasn’t a great vibe in general and it wasn’t cheap either – though we had some fun times wandering through the hotels and hanging out at the beaches. Maybe as a live-aboard place with a car it would be better, and admittedly it coincided with not being able to get our engine mended, Doug’s shoulder preventing him from sailing, Doug having a bad back, and me visiting while pregnant and really struggling with the heat – so it’s not surprising it has some bad associations for us! Anyway, last November when Doug went down with his friend Petra (while I was too pregnant to travel!) they managed to get a tow out of the marina and sailed to Honolulu. It should have been an afternoon sail, though they were unlucky with the winds and it took a while longer than hoped, but they eventually got into the harbour and that’s where Illusion‘s been for the last few months.
Toby finally met the boat! We wanted to introduce him to his English and American family first, so it took us 7.5 months to get him there, but now that we’ve tried family life aboard we don’t want to stop. It was just a short trip this time, but it’s keeping us motivated for longer term plans. From the first moments he seemed mesmerized and totally at home and having him there with us made it feel even more like home to us. Continue reading “Baby on board!”
So a whole summer has passed and we haven’t managed to sail Illusion at all. Oh dear. This is turning into a very slow journey from New Zealand to Vancouver, but life comes at you with all its unexpectedness and hey ho, you do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.
As you might have noticed, things have been pretty quiet round here – mainly because Doug had surgery on his shoulder after injuring himself during the (so-horrible-we-try-not-to-talk-about-it) day-we-finally-gave-up-on-the-engine, back in August. Here’s a link if you don’t know what that’s referring to. I still feel sick every time I think about it – that and the moment I nearly killed him with an accidental gybe, but that’s another story…
Doug’s speedy jump down into the engine room resulted, we later discovered, in three torn rotator cuff muscles (two of them almost 100% ripped) and a 90% torn bicep. We should have guessed it was serious when his whole upper arm turned a particularly disgusting shade of purple. Looking back it is kind of unbelievable that he then continued the voyage from Raivavae up to Hawaii, including a 15 day solo sail, mostly without use of the autopilot, and two trips up the mast while alone on the boat. Anyway, in about November, realizing the pain wasn’t going away, he finally figured he should get it seen to by a doctor and within weeks he was having scans and appointments and surgery was booked for mid-February. Continue reading “Boat building and shoulder healing”
It’s kind of nice having a second home, especially one that’s in warm, sunny Hawaii – even if it has moldy carpets and leaky windows! The surprise was that when my friend Martin and I arrived at the boat (Sara had to stay home for work), our neighbor informed us that we had just missed four days of clouds and rain – but all of our time there was great, especially considering the bitter cold for Vancouver last week. We had a fun, relaxing few days (joined for some of it by another good friend) and managed some jobs around the boat, too, in between beers in the cockpit and exploring the island’s beaches. Almost too relaxing, as we nearly failed to do the main job: mailing the fuel injector pump off to be rebuilt! After the difficulties of the last voyage (from New Zealand to Hawaii), it felt great to have some time on the boat to chill out and not have any imminent stresses. No sailing (without a usable engine, I can’t easily get out of the marina), but plenty of exploring and socializing. Too busy having fun to take many pictures, but here are a few: Continue reading “Quick visit to Hawaii”
I’m about to head back to Hawaii to spend a few days working on Illusion – and maybe get a little winter sunshine, too! This time there’ll be no sailing of course – without an engine it’s too much effort to get in and out of the marina – but heading back to the boat has had me contemplating those last couple of weeks when I was sailing up to Hawaii from Nuku Hiva. Arriving back to Vancouver I was exhausted; a friend recently used the word “depleted” which is a pretty good description. The first few weeks back were a bit of a blur: it was great to see everyone at the ‘Welcome Home’ party (thanks to all who came and gave me such a warm welcome), but somewhat overwhelming to be surrounded by so much noise and activity after all that solitary time and seven months living on the boat, most of them without a whole lot of sleep! I wrote a bit about some of my experiences at sea alone, but I thought it might be interesting, especially for those who have never done long passages, to have an idea of the kinds of things that need to be done and thought about whilst under way. It’s all relevant to group sailing too, but just a little more intense when there’s just one of you… Continue reading “Solo Sailing: Routines”
Well… get Illusion to Canada obviously! Eventually. That part of the plan hasn’t changed, although the timing has. I think at one stage we were even talking about having her here by the end of July so we could spend August sailing around the islands of British Columbia. We just didn’t realize that it would be 2014, not 2013!
The big lesson of this whole boating thing for me has been to learn to expect everything to change and not rely too much on plans. It’s a great lesson. Even though I was warned that everything would take a load longer than predicted it was actually pretty interesting to realize that Doug was spot on with his sailing prediction times for the most part. Aiming for two weeks from New Zealand, but might be up to three. Even with awful storms and no engine, it was twenty two days. Five days tops to get from Raivavae to Tahiti, he said. It took about three. About a week to get from Tahiti to Nuku Hiva, five days if we’re lucky with the winds. We weren’t lucky, but it was still only seven days. Aiming for two weeks from Nuku Hiva to Hawaii, but don’t worry if it’s more like three – it was fifteen days. So it’s good to know we can have a reasonable idea of travel times. It’s just all the other stuff that gets in the way…. Continue reading “So… what’s the plan?”
In the past I’ve done quite a lot of solo sailing on Illusion, starting in my first years of ownership, sailing into San Francisco’s inland waterways (1000 miles of diked paths snaking through California’s central valley), then later coastal cruising around New Zealand. But this voyage – from Nuku Hiva (in the Marquesas of French Polynesia) to Hawaii – was my first open-ocean passage alone. Usually I set an anchor each night – this was different: 15 days with no anchoring; two weeks out of reach of land. It sounds dramatic, perhaps, but in other ways it was very similar to previous sailing experiences. And as I was alone on the boat, I didn’t feel the same responsibility or concern for how the others were doing. I could make decisions solely based on my needs. If anyone was going to be sick or get injured or break something, it would be me…
As with most ocean crossings, the days were filled with sky and sea, brief radio check-ins, getting food and trying to get sleep. There are plenty of ocean-crossing sailors who describe it as boring. I wouldn’t say that, but there aren’t necessarily lots of anecdotes to come out of it! The first day proved to be the most action packed so it gives an idea of a busy day at sea:
The last ten days, while Doug has been at sea, alone, heading towards Hawaii from Nuku Hiva, have gone slowly here in Vancouver. And while it’s felt slow to me, I know time will have been even weirder for him.
The seven day passage from Tahiti was a lesson in the bendiness of time. Time off (mainly sleeping or cooking) flew by. Watches, for the most part, didn’t. A three hour stint of steering the boat under the moonlight could feel like just a few minutes one night, and never-ending another. The three minutes between banging on the floor to ask for relief and somebody’s head popping up to say they’d be there in a minute dragged ridiculously. As did the next ten minutes waiting for them to get their drink and snacks and life jacket, and get up on deck to take over. Continue reading “The Illusion Show”
What’s a pony doing on the ocean?!?!? Well, not much, as it turns out. I ordered a replacement motor for the autopilot drive through eBay (another nightmare, worthy of its own post if I ever get round to it) just before we left Tahiti. I contacted the seller in England to confirm that he could ship to French Polynesia and the shipping cost. He said it would take a week for him to order the part, then the DHL “Express” shipment (GBP 50, about US$80) would take 2-5 days. Continue reading “DHL – The Shetland Pony Express of the South Seas”