Welcome to Gypsea Heart

This blog documents the adventures of the sailing vessel Gypsea Heart and her crew Rankin & Sandy. Thank you for visiting our blog and we encourage y'all to poke around and explore. We have many features which will enable you to keep track of us and in touch like subscribing below. We hope you enjoy your visit and follow our adventures.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sailing from New Caledonia to New Zealand – We Made It!!

Personal Note to Family and Friends:  Congratulations Ari and Andrea on the arrival of your beautiful little acorn, so exciting!  I am sure that Grandpa Ron and Grandma Rita are thrilled too.  We can't be happier for you.  Happy Birthday, Walt wish we could celebrate with you!!!  Cheers!  Happy Belated Birthday, Jerry.  We miss you when are you coming for a visit??

We had a six day open ocean (no land in sight) passage from New Caledonia to New Zealand.  During the trip, we send email messages twice a day to our family and friends, and thought we’d share them on the blog.  These messages pretty much sum up our passage and will give you an idea of sailing conditions, how we’re spending our time, etc.  Here it goes.

Day 0:  Saturday, November 15, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Sat. Nov. 15, 2014 AM Checkin 
Date: 14 Nov 2014 22:59:04 –0000 (UTC)

Hey everyone,

How's it going?  We are doing well and have had a lot of fun in New Caledonia sadly it's time to leave (cyclones and all).  If you haven't done so already, check out our blog at http://www.svgypseaheart.com .  You can get some of the scoop plus check out our position reports.

We are leaving this morning to make the passage back down South to New Zealand.  We are leaving Ile de Pins, New Caledonia and sailing down to Opua, NZ.  It should take about six days and you should receive a report twice a day ... at least once a day if it's rough (which is not expected).  No worries, it's expected to be a good passage.  We'll send you an update later today with how it's going. 

We miss you all and we'll talk to you soon.  Take care and write when/if the mood strikes you.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

FYI:  Just so everyone has our information: 
Boat Name:  Gypsea Heart
Boat Length:  47 feet
Boat Model:  Leopard catamaran
Hull Color:  White
Bottom Color:   Blue
# Persons Aboard:  2
Life raft:  Yes
VHF:   Yes
Single Side Band (SSB) Radio:  Yes
Satellite Phone:  Yes, # 8816-2****-***** (use for emergency only)

This information is for safety purposes only, so don't worry.

At 11/14/2014 2:19 AM (utc) our position was 22°39.50'S 167°26.47'E
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Sat. Nov. 15, 2014 PM Checkin 
Date: 15 Nov 2014 06:54:17 –0000 (UTC)

Hi everyone,

How's it going?  All is well aboard Gypsea Heart.  We're having nice conditions out here with only a 1 meter (3 feet) seas. The wind was blowing at 10-12 knots which was (notice the past tense) pushing us along at about 6-7 knots.  However, the wind is just starting to die down to about 5 knots from ENE, so we've slowed down a bit.  It's still very comfortable and it should be a nice evening too.  

We have fishing lines out but didn't drop them in the water yet perhaps tomorrow.  I am currently heating up dinner.  Tonight we are having spaghetti, side salad and garlic bread.  The sun is close to setting and it looks to be like a beautiful sunset coming our way just in time for our evening meal. 

We hope you are having a great day/evening and we'll report in again tomorrow.  Take care.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

At 11/15/2014 6:42 AM (utc) our position was 23°24.10'S 167°37.22'E, course 167 T and speed 4.3 knots
Day 1: Sunday, November 16, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Sun. Nov. 16, 2014 AM Checkin 
Date: 15 Nov 2014 19:54:05 –0000 (UTC)

Hello all,

We had a peaceful night.  Shortly after I sent in our position report, the wind died so we were forced to use the engine.  We have been motor sailing all night with about 5 knot winds from NE and seas less than a meter.  During my watch around 1 am, I watched a moon rise.  It was very pretty seeing the moon peeking over the horizon then rising past.

Today is Rankin's birthday ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RANKIN!  We'll have to celebrate later.
Well, nothing else to report right now.  We hope you had a nice evening too.  Take care.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

At 11/15/2014 6:39 PM (utc) our position was 24°36.77'S 167°47.69'E
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Sun. Nov. 16, 2014 PM Checkin 
Date: 16 Nov 2014 07:18:07 –0000 (UTC)

Hello All,

How's it going?  All is well aboard Gypsea Heart.  Today, we've been celebrating Rankin's birthday (11/16) and the fact that we have very calm conditions during this birthday passage with only 5 knots WNW wind and less than 1 meter seas.  It's so calm we have been motor sailing for about 24 hours now at around 6 knots which is better than being hammered.  The last time we celebrated Rankin's birthday on passage was when he turned 50 in 2002.  It was and still is the worst passage we have ever experienced with 50 knots of wind and about 20 foot seas.  Since then, we (it's really me) have made it a point to avoid passages on Rankin's birthday until now.  So far our passage has been good and I am really hoping it stays fairly calm ... we'll keep you posted.

We celebrated Rankin's birthday with two candle topped cinnamon rolls.  The candles are worth 31 years each.  Rankin seemed pleasantly surprised.  It was a nice sunny day, so Rankin dropped a hook in the water and caught a 3 foot Mahi Mahi.  It spooled out a lot of line before we were able to get to the rod.  Rankin grabbed the rod and I slowed the boat down, but it still took about 10-15 minutes to reel that baby in.  We have photos which will post on our blog when we have internet.  Rankin wanted meatloaf as his birthday meal tonight, so I think we'll have Mahi Mahi tomorrow night (if conditions permit).  

Happy Birthday, Rankin!!

Luckily, I believe New Zealand will permit us to bring fish which we caught into the country ... the other meals we'll have to eat (i.e. meatloaf, taco lasagna, etc.).  New Zealand has some very strict regulations and we are NOT allowed to take any fresh fruits and veggies in nor any meats unless it is marked New Zealand plus a whole list of other items (like honey).  So our frig and freezer are basically empty except for passage meals and, of course, the Mahi Mahi.

Birthday wishes do come true!!
Today, we've spent a lot of time reading and I am finally on Book 4 ("A Feast for Crows") which covers material which has NOT been covered in the series yet.  YIPEE!  It's kind of exciting.  I can't wait to find out what happens next.  Rankin is still reading the Bernard Cornwell Saxon series, but hasn't mentioned much about it lately. 

During Rankin's watch, a cargo ship motored past us heading to Auckland.  We could see and track him on AIS (automatic identification system) which is why we knew where he was headed.  It doesn't sound like much, but we can go days without seeing any boats ... it's a big ocean.  We have friends who are sailing around us heading to NZ also which we know are out there because we get their positions via a SSB radio net, but there's no visual on them.  It's just nice to see another boat out here with us every now and then.
You can tell it's calm conditions because I am just babbling away.  We hope all is well at home.  Miss you.  Write if/when you can.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

At 11/16/2014 7:13 AM (utc) our position was 25°55.85'S 168°18.89'E, course 150 degree T, speed 6 knots
Day 2: Monday, November 17, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Mon. Nov. 17, 2014 AM Checkin 
Date: 16 Nov 2014 18:29:59 –0000 (UTC)

Hi ya,

Well, it's my watch now.  We had a very peaceful night with less than a meter seas and 10-12 knots of NW winds which gives us a nice downwind sail.  The sun is just rising.  I realized this morning that I love this time of morning you know when the darkness starts to fade into light and brightness.  Very nice.

Based on weather predictions, we should have a downwind sail most of the day (YEAH!).  Last night we were thinking we'd raise the spinnaker (light brightly colored sail), however, it's a overcast day and looks like it might be a bit squally.  We'll see as the sun rises further what conditions might bring.  If it looks to squally, we'll just keep the jib up which isn't too bad.  Right now, we are sailing at 5.5-6 knots with jib out (without the pole), so we’re moving along.
It was a quiet night and not much happened except Rankin did see another cargo ship pass us about 10 nm away.  Thank you, AIS!  There were also lots of phosphoresces in the water which makes things glow.  Rankin mentioned seeing large glowing shapes behind the boat last night which hopefully were dolphins or fish and not some unknown sea monster.  :-)  I wasn't fortunate enough to spy one of this glowing creatures maybe tonight.

Well, that's all for now.  Everyone take care and we hope you're having a great day. 

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

P.S.  Technically, Rankin can celebrate his birthday again in the States!!  Happy Birthday, Rankin!

At 11/16/2014 5:50 PM (utc) our position was 26°47.88'S 168°52.06'E, course 138 T, speed 5.7 knots
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Mon. Nov. 17, 2014 PM Checkin 
Date: 17 Nov 2014 06:47:28 –0000 (UTC)

Hello all,

How are you doing?  This is Sandy & Rankin here and all is well aboard Gypsea Heart.  I am currently heating up dinner which will be rotisserie chicken w/baked potato and salad tonight.  MMM!  We had a pretty eventful day.  This morning we had perfect conditions for a spinnaker sail 15 knots of wind aft of beam, so we raised the spinnaker and we're flying along for about an hour and a half.  Unfortunately, the wind picked up enough where we were flying along at 10 knots, so we thought it was time to douse the spinnaker, so down it went.  We were sorry to see the big red sail stowed away again, but hopefully, we get another opportunity to fly it on this passage.

Right now, we are sailing along at about 7 knots on a course of 180 degree True with about 16 knots of WNW winds gusting to 20 knots.  It's a little noisier than before still a very comfortable ride. 

It's been a pretty quite day nice and sunny which helps because the temperature is starting to drop.  We're starting to feel the New Zealand cold, but it's not too bad yet.  We did have a squid jump aboard the boat, but we thought it best that we had no hitchhikers.

Well, that's all for now.  We miss you.  Write if and when you can.  

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

At 11/17/2014 6:44 AM (utc) our position was 28°11.65'S 169°06.77'E, course 180 degrees T, speed 7 knots

Day 3: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Tues. Nov. 18, 2014 PM Checkin 
Date: 18 Nov 2014 06:17:24 –0000 (UTC)

Hey everyone,

How's it going?  I got a couple of emails from people, and it is so nice to hear from you.  Well, it's been a pretty uneventful day though we did "punch through" a Front this morning which caused us to have winds of about 30 knots for maybe 10 minutes.  We had WNW winds until we got through the Front and then the winds changed to S/SW.  The winds dropped and we had to motor for about 5-6 hours but now they have picked up again, so we're moving right along.  Currently, we have winds S/SW about 15-20 knots, so we're a little of course but we hope over the next couple of days we can make up the distance (fingers crossed).
We can definitely tell it's getting colder now, so we're having chili with cornbread tonight for dinner.  MMM!  We expect to arrive Opua, New Zealand on Friday (11/21) YIPEEE!  Well, that's all the goings on here.  We miss you so write if/when you get a chance.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

P.S.  Hey Larry, did you get your VHF antenna installed?  Working?  You may see Slip Away and Evergreen around Sydney too.

At 11/18/2014 5:50 AM (utc) our position was 29°54.23'S 170°31.23'E, course 120 degrees T, speed 7 knots

Day 4: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Wed. Nov. 19, 2014 AM Checkin 
Date: 18 Nov 2014 19:07:19 –0000 (UTC)

Hey everyone,
How's it going there?  All is well aboard Gypsea Heart except that it looks like it will be a motoring day today.  Right now, we have a container ship behind us which will pass soon.  I just woke so I am a little groggy and this email will probably be short (thank goodness huh). Actually, I think that's all we have to report now.  

We miss you and will talk to you later.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

P.S.  Can someone go to our blog at www.svgypseaheart.com and click on the Position Report tab.  It will take you to the YIT sight which should give you our position.  Can you tell us what it shows in the text which is under the map?  Thxs.

At 11/18/2014 1841 (utc) our position was 30°16.54'S 171°42.12'E, course 160 degrees T, speed 4.4 knots
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Wed. Nov. 19, 2014 PM Checkin 
Date: 19 Nov 2014 06:27:58 –0000 (UTC)

Hello all,

How's it going?  Well, we're moving along now.  We've been sailing at about 8 knots with SSW/SW winds all day.  The seas have been about 1.5 - 2 meters a little bumpy nothing dangerous and really not that uncomfortable considering the speed.  Not much to report today, except that this morning we did see a sail on the horizon.  It was definitely a sail boat, but then it disappeared and we haven't seen it since.
Tonight's menu item is leftover meat loaf and baked potato for Rankin, and I had a late lunch of chili so think I'll just skip dinner.  Well, that's all for now.  Everyone take care and have a pleasant day/evening.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

At 11/19/2014 6:25 AM (utc) our position was 31°17.94'S 172°45.69'E, course 150 T, speed 8 knots
Day 5: Thursday, November 20, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Thur. Nov. 20, 2014 AM Checkin 
Date: 19 Nov 2014 18:22:40 –0000 (UTC)

Hello All,

Well, this will be a short email, because we're having a bit of a boisterous ride though mainly because I haven't had my coffee yet. :-)  Anyway, we have wind 20-25 SW and seas 3.5 meter swell.  All is well on board except for the coffee thing which I will fix here in a few minutes.

We hope everyone is well and will talk to you later today.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

At 11/19/2014 6:14 PM (utc) our position was 32°34.45'S 173°33.83'E, course 150 T, speed 7 knots

Day 6: Friday, November 21, 2014
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Fri. Nov. 21, 2014 AM Checkin 
Date: 20 Nov 2014 18:29:56 –0000 (UTC)

Hello Everyone,

I am thrilled to say that we have only about 40 nm til we reach the Bay of Islands and then we'll easily work our way through the protected bays into Opua.  So we should arrive sometime this afternoon would be my guess.  YIPEEE!!  

I have been wanting to do a "Message in a Bottle" thing.  You know where you write a message, put it in a bottle, set it adrift and see if anyone replies to you.  Yesterday afternoon, I wrote and sent off our message in the bottle.  I had wanted to send it earlier in our trip, but conditions didn't allow it.  I am hoping that someone will receive it and contact us regarding where they found it, etc.  I think it will be interesting to see if/where someone finds it.  I'll keep you posted.

Message in a bottle!

Well, we had a good and bad night last night.  The good part was conditions were very calm seas less than 3 feet wind about 10-15 knots perfect though not really.  That's where the bad part comes in the wind was blowing from the same direction we wanted to sail.  After trying to sail for a while, we seemed to be getting further from our destination, so we ended up motor sailing more towards our destination.  It wasn't bad just a little frustrating. 

All is well aboard.  We have been running the engine so we're both looking forward to a hot shower and some good internet upon our arrival in Opua.  Just can't wait.  Well, it's time for us to listen to the morning weather net.  More upon our arrival.  

Miss you,
Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

Position:  34.39 S, 174.37 E, course 188 degree True, speed 5 knots
Subject: Gypsea Heart Update - Fri. Nov. 21, 2014 PM Checkin 
Date: 21 Nov 2014 04:38:28 –0000 (UTC)

WE HAVE ARRIVED!!!  We had to motor the last 40 nautical miles into Opua, because winds were on our nose.  We were lucky seas were lake calm and the wind was light, so motoring into those conditions was a piece of cake.  As we entered the Bay of Islands, dolphins were swimming around the boat with a beautiful sun high in the sky.  About 15 nm offshore, I had already gotten our internet and phone access setup.  Of course, you know what I was doing don’t you … you got it making arrangements to get the iPad fixed.  You gotta love technology!!!  

We had no problems docking by ourselves at the Q deck (where we check in) weather conditions permitted it.  Customs, immigration and biosecurity arrived shortly after our arrival (within 15 minutes).  Customs and immigration took care of their paperwork fairly quickly, however, biosecurity was another story.  They turned the boat upside down literally looking through the pantries, freezer, refrigerator, storage compartments under the settees, closets, under the mattresses, etc.  It was no problem for us we understand they are just doing their job.  They were very professional, polite and friendly.  

You might be wondering what they were looking for well biosecurity removes any items they deem harmful to New Zealand.  For example, fresh fruit brought into New Zealand from Vanuatu could carry fruit flies which can reek havoc on the fruit crops in New Zealand.  New Zealand is very protective of their environment and we feel as a guest to their country we should respect their rules which we try very hard to do.  So we were helping them as much as possible go through our pantries and stuff.  They were so nice they even emptied our shop vac which to our embarrassment was full of dirt.  Oh, they don't want us to bring dirt in either.  Our whole check in process took about an hour and then we moved over to our slip at the marina.
We are now docked, have internet and cell phone service.  We are about to leave for a free BBQ held by the an organization called ICA (which right now I can't remember what it stands for) All Points Rally.  So we have to go for now, but will post an update to our blog soon.  

We miss you all very much. Thank you for looking out for us and tolerating our boring passage emails.  Write when/if you can.

Sandy & Rankin
s/v Gypsea Heart

P.S.  We got to keep the Mahi Mahi Rankin caught during our passage.  NZ doesn't have a problem with frozen fruit, frozen veggies or frozen fish.  YIPEE!!!

At 11/19/2014 6:14 PM (utc) our position was 32°34.54'S 173°33.91'E

We have been docked at the Opua Marina for a few days now taking advantage of marina life.  AAAAHH!! Dinner out last couple of nights no dishes it's been nice.  We received such a wonderful, warm welcome from everyone here in Opua it was like coming home again.  We did enjoy the free BBQ the night we arrived  where we ran into a couple we hadn't seen in almost 10 years.  We originally met Neil and Kathy on the sailing vessel Attitude in Trinidad back around 2005 that was when we were cruising aboard Heart of Texas.  What a small world!!  

We are so happy to report that all the boats that we left with from New Caledonia (Astarte, Distracted, and Kailani) have all made it safely to their respective ports.   There are still boats coming into Opua from various locations like Fiji, Tonga and New Caledonia, so we often hear new voices on the radio reporting in.  

Our currently plan is to stay in Opua for a few days before heading South to Whangarei, however, that could change so you may want to check back.  Until then, we hope all is well with you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ile de Pins, New Caledonia

Yesterday, we sailed down to Ile de Pins after a quick overnight stop at Baie Kouo on Isle Ouen. It was basically a place to stage, because we left Noumea too late to arrive in Ile de Pins before dark. It was a pretty anchorage with lots of singing birds all around, and it was flat calm so we slept well.

Our sail to Ile de Pins was slow mostly making 5-6 knots, but at least we were able to sail and not burn any precious diesel which we may need for our passage to New Zealand. We are now anchored in the harbour at Ile de Pins, New Caledonia waiting for our weather window for New Zealand which should come tomorrow (Saturday, 11/15). We are ready to go! Meals cooked and stowed - check; stuff stowed that can fly around and hit you - check; ditch bag out - check. Our last chore is to stow the outboard engine which we will finish later today.

Currently, I am finishing up some tests on our systems like making sure the sat phone and pactor work so we can download weather and email messages. Testing our blog to make sure I can post updates using our single side band radio connection ... you get the idea. Hopefully, this post will not only appear on our blog, but will also be syndicated through to Facebook using Networked Blogs. Fingers crossed.

If you want to keep track of our progress to New Zealand, we'll be sending in reports so just click on the "Position Report" tab in our blog.

That's all to report aboard Gypsea Heart. Au revoir!!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Noumea, New Caledonia – Cooking, Exploring & Checking Out!

Personal Note to Family and Friends:  We know that each person/family has their own personal struggles and celebrations, but please know that we are there with you in both.  For privacy reasons, we won’t address everyone here, but for those who have already made some of their personal triumphs and challenges public here’s a few messages we’d like to share.  Tracy McMorrow:  You are one incredible woman.  Congratulations on being CANCER FREE!!  What a great victory.  I loved your t-shirt “Yeah, these are fake, my real ones tried to kill me”.  Sam:  You are an awesome person.  Congratulations on the new job.  They couldn’t have hired a better person.  Good luck.  Amanda:  Happy Birthday!  I love you bunches and always. From Your Favorite Aunt :-)
Now, for anyone who would like to continue reading.  On Wednesday, November 5th, we arrived Port Moselle Marina with the intent of checking out of the country on Friday, November 7th then sail to Ile de Pins about 60 nm South, so we could leave the country.   Well, of course, that’s not what happened!  The weather changed (as it often does) which delayed us and the Customs, Immigration and Port Captain was closed for holiday from Saturday thru Tuesday which we are still in Noumea.  No problem what’s not to like fresh baguettes daily, good internet, water and electricity, freedom to walk into town … priceless.

Actually, at first we were a bit disappointed with the weather change, but we quickly rebounded.  Since most of our boat chores were done, it gave us some free time to visit the New Caledonia Aquarium along with Astarte (Michael and Barbara).  It is a really nice aquarium and very easy to get to by bus.  We jumped on the No. 10 bus which we caught by the Cin City (cinema) for only 2.10 francs/pp and it dropped us off just a short walk from the Aquarium.  We thoroughly enjoyed the Aquarium spending hours EEWWing and AAWWing over the many fish and took lots of pictures.  I will try to name the fish, but please forgive me for any mistakes also there are some fish I just don't know the names.  I want to thank Michael & Barbara from Astarte for sharing some of their pictures with us and permitting me to use them on our blog.  Thank you so very much!  Also, on any pictures within our blog you should be able to double click on them to get a larger view of the photo.

Barbara & I exploring the deep!

Zebra Shark (Juvenile)
Clams - Never seen clams opened up so much!

Can you find the flounder?
Peppered Moray

Zebra Shark (Adult)
Blacktip Reef Shark
Star Puffer
Diagonal-Banded Sweetlips

Rock fish - Photo by Astarte
Lionfish - photo by Astarte
I want this aquarium at home!! - photo by Astarte

Seahorse - Photo by Astarte
Humphead Wrasse - Photo by Astarte

Besides just goofing around, I helped Pete a bit more with a different computer issue.  I also did some testing on Venture Farther for our friend Jon on Evergreen.  We exchanged some music with Astarte and also some New Zealand charts which we downloaded for free, and we can use with our free navigational software OpenCPN.    If any one needs these charts, just drop us an email message or send us a comment.  We’ll be happy to send you the information.  Since we had wonderful internet, I also found a way to work around my dead iPad issue at least when it comes to recipes.  I downloaded the Android version of Paprika Manager onto Rankin's Kindle Fire.  He wasn't thrilled about sharing his Kindle (afraid I was going to "fill it up"), but we worked it out (meaning I begged him).  Since all my recipes were backed up not only on my laptop but also to the "cloud" then I could download all my recipes onto the Paprika Manager running on the Kindle Fire.  YEAH!!!

Another thing, I had an opportunity to research "False Tobacco" or faux tabac which I mentioned in our earlier blog under the "Five Islands" section.  Basically, a frenchman told us you could use False Tobacco to prevent ciguatera.  To my amazement, here's what I read which I thought was very interesting:  "Traditionally in New Caledonia, herb teas of various plants are used for treatment. Some preparation of the traditional medicine seem to have some efficiency. Preliminary results of studies conducted by the IRD (ex Orstom) research center have confirmed the activity of some species such as the "faux tabac" (argusia argentea) and "faux poivrier" (schinus terebenthifolius). L' IRD has established a list of some 100 plants from New Caledonia and Vanuatu known to treat ciguatera but many have yet to be scientifically tested."  WOW!  The frenchman was onto something.  Well, I will admit we did not drink the faux tabac concoction though it's something to keep in mind for the future.  We did enjoy a wonderful Wahoo dinner with Astarte and Harley (Kailani).  Harley offered to cook the fish and we kindly accepted especially since we have never cooked a wahoo before.  We have never had the pleasure of catching one.   Harley cooked up a wonderful and tasty blackened wahoo.  Per Harley's suggestion, I made a nice pineapple salsa (good idea too) and some okay rice.  While Barbara brought a delicious desert ... chocolate and butterscotch pudding topped with chocolate chips.  MMMM!!  NOTE:  No one had any symptoms of ciguatera after eating this fish. Thank goodness.

Well, there’s a lot to prepare for a passage, so we did work a bit.  Since I get seasick, I prepare all of our meals in advance and freeze them.   What I usually do is cook double batches of meals then freeze half for the passage.  For example, I cooked an extra large batch of chili then froze half for the trip to New Zealand.   Rankin made a special request for cornbread with this batch of chili, because Harley (from sailing vessel Kailani) mentioned that he makes cornbread with his chili.  Harley does all the cooking aboard Kailani, so I sometimes exchange recipes with him.  Well, there are no cornbread mixes in the stores, so I found a pretty good recipe at www.allrecipes.com (see the recipe below).  I figured anything with the word Grandmother’s in the title can’t be all bad plus it got five star rating with over 3,800 reviews.  Well, the only problem is that I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I made my own.  Making buttermilk for recipes wasn’t so hard at all (even for me).  Just place a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice (I used lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup.  Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.  Let stand for five minutes.  Then, use as much as your recipe requires.  The buttermilk recipe is found online from www.frugalliving.about.com . Voila!!  Easy-Peasy!

Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread (makes about 9 servings)
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
So I whipped up this cornbread recipe and the only thing I changed was adding about 1/2-1 cup of corn (Rankin’s request).  It was delicious and Rankin really enjoyed it too.  For this passage, I cooked meatloaf with mashed potatoes, asian chicken (I will prepare the rice underway), chili with cornbread, spaghetti.  I made some homemade English muffins but they are about gone now, so I’ll make another batch for the trip plus some homemade cinnamon rolls.  I will also prepare some PB&J sandwiches in advance and pop them in the frig.  For one more evening meal, I will cook chicken enchiladas using an enchilada sauce I just got from Harley on Kailani.  It calls for using the Vitamix can't wait to try it out.  Anyway, the idea is to keep cooking as simple as possible while on passage just in case there are adverse conditions.  Our motto is “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” which has worked pretty well so far. 

We had to raise Rankin up the mast (using the electric winch, of course) to replace our main halyard block.  He had no problem replacing the block though it didn’t look very comfortable way up there.  Sorry there are no pictures this time.  We stowed our dive compressor which is kind of heavy and fits into a tight spot, so is a little tricky but we have a system so it was no problem.  Though it’s always sad to see the dive compressor stowed, because it means no diving for a while.  Oh well, there’s next year or New Zealand maybe.  Okay. We are very close to being ready now.

All meals prepared and weather looks promising it’s time to check out.  Rankin left this morning at 7 a.m. with Michael on Astarte and they walked over to Immigration, Customs and Port Captain (in that order) and checked out.  They caught a ride back from a friendly cruiser, but Rankin took a detour to the duty free shops to stock up on a few essentials (i.e. liquor and stuff).  While Rankin was busy with the officials, I took out trash (ICK!), paid marina fees, did a quick bakery run (wouldn’t want to run out of baguettes) and internet stuff.  We finally left the marina around 11 a.m. and no we’re not done yet.  It’s time to get duty free fuel, so off to fuel up.  Almost 400 liters later, we are now ready to leave Noumea. 

We are currently sailing along at 6 knots heading for some place which depends on the wind.  Yes, can you believe I am actually updating this blog underway right now.  Isn't wifi great!   So, come back and find out where we ended up!   

Friday, October 31, 2014

Baie Maa, New Caledonia – Happy Halloween!!

I mentioned in our previous post that we were driven out of Signal (Te Ndo) Island due to wind conditions which made the anchorage uncomfortable.  The wind was blowing about 20 knots by the time we left Signal around noon which made for a quick sail North to Baie Maa about 5-6 nautical miles away.  Baie Maa has some nice protection from all winds except Westerly and good holding, so makes for a comfortable anchorage though the snorkeling isn’t as good here.

The Rocket Guide talks about the animals around the bay.  There are suppose to be some deer, turkey, sheep and local birds, however, they are not wild.  They are owned by the extended family which descended from a German man who swan ashore there from a shipwreck last century.   Unfortunately, we didn’t see any deer, turkeys, or sheep.  Though to our surprise, later in the afternoon, we saw a Unicorn!!!

Unicorn Sophia
This beautiful Unicorn, named Sophia from the boat Kailani, came by Gypsea Heart trick or treating.  What a wonderful surprise!!  Unicorn, Sophia, was our first trick or treat guest to visit Gypsea Heart ever, and to our dismay, we didn’t have ANY candy aboard.  We did give Sophia, the Unicorn, a granola bar for her halloween basket, and she graciously and happily accepted it.  Thank goodness otherwise Rankin would have been obligated to perform a trick or something.  Sophia was the best unicorn we have ever seen. We were really sad to see her gallop off to the next boat, but understand there was more trick or treating to do for the night was young.

Unicorn Sophia onto her next boat
We stayed in Baie Maa for about a week.  Though we had beautiful sunny skies, the winds were up, and this bay provided us with great shelter.  Being in one place for a week, gave us a chance to catch up on boat chores like waxing the topside.  UGH!!  We put it off long enough it was time.  I think I’ve mentioned there are times when Gypsea Heart, 47 foot catamaran, feels like a 94 foot boat.  It seems like lately there have been MANY of times (i.e bottom cleaning, marina fees, topside waxing, etc.).  Rankin did most of the waxing work though we did "team up" for part of the job in the beginning.  While he was finishing up the waxing, I was polishing all the hatches and the strataglass (and we have a lot of hatches and strataglass) .  If anyone has a way of cleaning strataglass without streaks and without scratching it I am ALL ears.  I was doing the “wax on, wax off” thing for quite a while.  I think it took us two or three days to wax and clean the boat.  Finally, it was time to have some fun.

We were invited over to Kailani (Harley, Jennifer and Sophia) for happy hour along with Astarte (Michael and Barbara).  It was our first visit aboard Kailani, a beautiful Deerfoot 63, nice, sleek, go fast boat.  It looks like a wonderful boat for a family too with Sophia having her own cabin aboard containing all her books and stuffed animals (she gave us a very good tour).  We had a really nice time getting to know Harley, Jennifer and Sophia.  It was hard to leave, but we made an early exit knowing that children have a little earlier bed time than us though not much earlier.  If you want to check out Kailani’s blog go to www.laughterjourney.com .  I’ll also list it on this site too.

The next day Astarte organized a bocce ball game ashore and invited us, Kailani and another family from the sailboat Rapaki.  Pete, Shell and LeRoy (just turned 5 on Nov 4th) from New Zealand live aboard Rapaki.  Everyone had a great time though I can’t tell you who won all the games, I know that Barbara and Jennifer kicked the guys butts.

Pete & Harley
Sophia showing us how it's done
Jennifer, Shell & Rankin
Michael & Rankin
One morning before the wind kicked up, I kayaked around the bay.  In the northern portion of the bay, there’s a camping area.  I didn’t walk ashore, but watched some teenage boys skipping rocks on the water and then bury their friend in the sand up to his armpits.  It looked like another great camp site.

Besides just having fun, I did a little work helping out Pete (Rapaki).  Just to add a little boring part, his computer was suddenly unable to receive weather faxes.   With our Single Side Band (SSB) radio, we have the ability to download weather faxes from New Zealand while we are under way (no internet).  So it was important for us to get this working again before his departure to New Zealand.  We spent a little time one morning and got it working again then Rapaki was off for Noumea.  First they were celebrating LeRoy's birthday with cake (we are so sorry we missed it) and then a few days later Shell and LeRoy were flying home to New Zealand.  Pete will be sailing the boat to New Zealand with his nephew.

Speaking of New Zealand, it's that time again where we start to get ready for our sail down to New Zealand.  We’ll keep you posted when we make the departure, but for now our next move is to sail back to Noumea.  Until then …

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ilot Te Ndo (Signal Island) – Dive bombing seagulls!

We arrived here on Sunday, October 30th my dad’s birthday … HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!!!.  After a fantastic sail, we dinghied over to Astarte. During cocktail hour we admired this beautiful sunset behind Gypsea Heart.  What a great way to start an evening.

Gypsea Heart

Then we were treated to a spectacular dinner with our main course being Veal Cordon Bleu with rotini pasta and salad.  The main course was followed by a delectable chocolate pudding topped with mini chocolate chips.  MMMMM!!!  We were so pampered and loved every minute of it!  We enjoyed wonderful conversation about movies, music, books and even touched upon our past work lives a bit.  Michael and Barbara have both had very interesting work careers in the “TV bizz” which they shared with us along with some very funny stories ... can't reveal too much for privacy reasons.  They are both also avid readers, so often they will share with us books they have read like “Getting Stoned with Savages” by J. Maarten Troost, “Kingpin” by Kevin Poulsen and several others. Thank you so much Michael and Barbara for a wonderful evening!!  Rankin has read “Getting Stoned with Savages” and he has encouraged me to read it too which means he gives it a good review.  It is on my list along with “Kingpin which I can’t wait to read.  However, I am still working my way through the Game of Throne series for which I am 75% through Book 3 “A Storm of Swords”.
After such a wonderful dinner last night, I needed to get a little exercise.  Rankin enjoyed his morning coffee aboard Gypsea Heart along with some quiet time while I kayaked ashore and circumambulated (a new word I learned from Barbara) the island using my toe shoes that my sister, Angie, gave me some time ago which I just now started using.  Sorry, Angie, I just forgot they were in my closet though great little shoes.

Toe shoes

There’s a nice walking path around the island which runs along a beautiful white beach.  Apparently, many local people come by small power boats and camp on the island for the weekend.  The camp sites are very nice with picnic tables, grills and covered areas which I saw being used to string up some hammocks.   I can see why people would like to camp here the camp site views are stunning.  My nephew, Donnie, and his family are no strangers to camping, and as I was strolling around this island I couldn’t help but imagine how much they would enjoy camping out here … check it out, Donnie!

Camp site
Camp site view

It took about an hour or so to circumambulate the island and that included time to read all the posted signs which were in French and English (thank goodness).  All along my walk, I kept seeing these fairly large burrows in the ground, and I couldn’t help but wonder what creature occupied them. On the south part of the island, there’s a tall white column about 10 meters (30 feet) high.   Per the signs, “Captain Tardy de Montravel had chosen this islet as a a sea-mark for vessels heading for Port-de-France. He erected a "triangular pyramid made of wooden spars and coral blocks 10m in height". In 1860, Captain Saisset replaced the spars with a pyramid of coral stones and rubble. A tall coral limestone column still stands on the islet. This is what gave the islet its name of "Signal" (marker in French).  The islet was named Senez Islet by Captain Tardy de Montravel in memory of Officer Vincent Senez, who explored the bay of Port-Laguerre in Paita.”

On the opposite side of the island, I saw a huge nest which I thought was for a sea hawk, but apparently there are ospreys on the island too (per the signs).  The nest did look a lot like an osprey nest, however, seagulls were occupying the nest.  To  my surprise, they were dive bombing seagulls too.  As I walked along the path which wasn’t that close to the nest (at least in my opinion), I was attacked by seagulls.  They were loudly squawking and swooping down upon my head.  I ducked my head and ran along the sandy path while trying to avoid stepping into any burrows until I could safely reach a tree and took cover for a while.  The seagulls were persistent, so I had to make a break for it running and ducking from tree to tree.  This went on for a while until I was finally out of range.   Sorry there are no pictures or video of this experience … too bad, huh!  I am really sorry Rankin missed this experience. 
Osprey nest
Now that I was safely out of harms way, I noticed some of the plants on this island.  One had red and green leaves which I thought was interesting (see below) and Michael on Astarte later told me it was a poinsettia.  Besides cooking, I don’t have a lot of experience with plants either which is probably pretty obvious now.  The only poinsettias I’ve seen have had solid red leaves.  I didn’t know that poinsettia leaves could be red and green at the same time.  Pretty plant!
Signal Island is a marine reserve, and all land and sea life are protected.  There are five species of seabirds which nest on the island.  There are three species, the Tahiti petrel, the black-winged petrel and the wedge-tailed shearwater which can be seen at night on the islet where they dig burrows.  This explains all the burrows I saw around the island (they were everywhere).  When I was hiding from the seagulls, I heard some cooing sounds from one of the burrows too.  The other two species are the red-billed gull (most common species) and the bridled tern (only observed in the hot season).  There are also osprey here too, and of course, seagulls.

We didn’t snorkel this visit, because the wind picked up which made the anchorage uncomfortable.  However, below are a few pictures from our last visit to Signal.  The sea life is beautiful here and there are many turtles swimming about.  During our last visit here, we snapped a photo of this guy (sorry for the quality).

We couldn’t stay long at Signal Island, but it was a pleasant visit and we really enjoy visiting this island.  We left Signal on Monday, October 31st and sailed North to Baie Maa for some protection from the wind.  You’ll never guess what we saw at Baie Maa ... keep reading!!!

Noumea, New Caledonia

We spent a quick couple of nights at Port Moselle marina.  We did some quick grocery shopping, enjoyed some fast internet and tried very hard to get the iPad fixed with no luck.  No worries, I'll get it all worked out in New Zealand.  We were antsy to get back out again, because the weather is gorgeous.  

Our friends, Michael and Barbara on the sailing vessel Astarte were also at the marina upon our arrival.  It gave us a chance to enjoy a Happy Hour at the nearby bar/restaurant then we found a good pizza joint around the corner where we grabbed our "to go" pizzas for PIZZA NIGHT aboard Gypsea Heart!! MMMM!  Love those spontaneous plans.   Below is a picture of our pizza chef (sorry it's not a great picture).

Pizza Party!!!

Besides the wonderful pizza, we had a great evening catching up with Astarte and just laughing.  Today, we finished up our little chores like filling water tanks, taking out trash, and stocking up with more fresh fruits, veggies and internet time then we left the marina.  We had to be out of the marina by noon or they charge us another day, so we got otta there.  

We had a very pleasant sail, though way too short, West to Ilot Te Ndu (Signal Island) where we picked up a mooring.  This is a marine park and currently there's lots of snorkelers in the water from a commercial power cat moored nearby.  The only other boats here are Astarte and the New Caledonia Coast Guard.   We'll be making a splash soon and will keep you posted.  In the meantime, we've been invited to join Astarte tonight for a "surprise" dinner ... can't wait, I love surprises!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ilot Amedee, New Caledonia

We left Ilot Ua around 8 a.m. after listening to the Gulf Harbour Radio net on SSB (8752 Mhz which begins at 6 a.m.).  We had a beautiful sail to Ilot Amedee taking the scenic route (which is not the most direct path) and traveling along the very edge of the Southern Lagoon reef.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the we cruised along at a moderate ~5 knots with just the jib (most forward sail).  

We could see where Ilot Amedee was located several miles off because there's a lighthouse on the island which of course can be seen from miles away.  It only got prettier the closer we sailed to it.  Per the Rocket Guide, Ilot Amedee is a Natural Reserve (Southern Lagoon Park), and there are mooring balls in the area so people will not anchor and harm the reefs.  

Ilot Amedee

Good thing, because as we were leaving Ilot Ua our windlass (the thing that raises and drops our anchor) deciding not to function in the down direction.  We discovered it will actually lower the anchor using the weight of the anchor; however, if there's nothing pulling it will not drop.  I am not doing a very good job explaining the issue, so let's just say we can still anchor but it was good to just pick up a mooring instead.  We also discovered a "head" (toilet) issue in our owner's cabin head.  Now, I am really not going into any details there either, but Rankin cleared it up.  Thank goodness ... it's a nasty job.   We were finally settled but only after I dropped the boat hook (which luckily floats) while trying to bring up the mooring ball.  A lovely man moored in front of us assisted us with secure Gypsea Heart to the mooring.  After such a wonderful sail, the windlass, head and mooring issue were all left behind us.

I would love to tell you that we had a fantastic afternoon and evening, but alas, it wasn't in the cards.  First, the Rocket Guide indicated there was internet here which there was but very, very slow ... practically non- existent until I placed the phone on the stack pack (the highest point on the boat without raising it using a halyard).  We were still content at this point, because we could at least get email messages plus we were going to run off snorkeling anyway.  Shortly thereafter, the wind must have switched directions with a more Northern component, because the waves were rolling in.  Nope, we didn't see it in the weather forecasts.  Oh My!  It was one of the worst experiences we've had in an anchorage here in New Caledonia.  We were facing into the wind and waves which caused us to pitch forward, aft, forward, aft.  UGH!!!  I think we had 2 foot seas rolling into the mooring field.  UGH!!!  I was feeling pretty ill ... nothing like being seasick while on a mooring.  

Rankin could tell I was feeling pretty ill, so he offered to cook dinner.  YIPEE!!!  What a wonderful treat ... things are starting to look up again.  I thought it was quite a romantic gesture for Rankin to cook dinner for me.  I was feeling pretty special ... the tune "Love is in the Air" was playing in my mind.  SPECIAL NOTE TO FAMILY MEMBERS:  Prue and Steve, you may want to look away at this point.  

Rankin fixed us a gourmet meal of canned ham, blackeyed peas and rice.  MMMM!!   


I have to admit I am not a fan of canned ham, but  I truly loved watching my Texas Southern Gentleman cook me a gourmet meal.

Cooking Captain
Too many pics
Bon Appetit

It was a lovely dinner.  It was still bouncy most of the night, but did settle down a bit much later in the evening.  We left for Noumea the next day with a memorable experience from Ilot Amedee.  Au Revoir!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Five Islands Area, New Caledonia (UPDATED OCTOBER 30, 2014 with links & pics)

Yes, yes, it has been awhile since our last post. Our friends on Evergreen (Heather and Jon), Panta Rhei (Larry and Karen) and Blue Rodeo (Mark and Anne) are so diligent about keeping their blogs up to date it puts us to great shame. They have wonderful blogs with exciting, interesting and funny adventures (I will provide their blog addresses as soon as we have internet). Even though we have sadly traveled our separate ways now, reading their blogs allows us to keep in touch enjoying their experiences giving us the feeling like we are still with them during their adventures.

With their blogs in mind, I have been thinking about our blog a lot lately. Sometimes, I have felt that our blog was well a bit repetitive. Same stuff different island kind of thing. After mulling things over a bit, I thought perhaps a change in format was in order. Sure we'll still have some of that beautiful island stuff, though now we'll also include some everyday things which the cruising lifestyle brings including boat and various repairs, recipes, "how make do without when that store is NOT just around the corner", and "you know you're a cruiser when ...", etc. I thought it would also be nice to solicit thoughts and comments from anyone and everyone who reads our blog which may not be many (if any) people at this point. Well, perhaps this new format and it's continual updates will bring our family and friends back ... let's hope so.

So, what have we been up to lately. As the title of this blog indicates we are in New Caledonia now, wonderful little French islands located in the South Pacific. We are anchored at Ilot Ua which is part of the "Five Islands". For those cruisers or anyone else who's interested, it's a lovely anchorage with an uninhabited little idyllic island to provide a bit of protection; however, it may be a bit rolly at times for monohulls. There have been occasions when the waves wrap around the island and have rocked us a bit. We'll post our anchor spot on the Venture Farther website which you'll read about further down.

The weather has permitted us to be here a week now (nice calm conditions about 10-15 knots from SE mainly), and I honestly don't believe Rankin ever wants to leave. The beauty and the solitude is something that he enjoys. We have slowed things down now which I am sure some of our cruising friends are wondering how much slower can we go. We've both been enjoying some reading. Rankin is reading a Bernard Cornwell series of books. The first series I believe is called the Saxon series, which he has read five of the books though we believe there are more books in the series though we don't have internet to check it out yet. Now, he has moved onto the Warlord series written by the same author. I have been reading the Game of Thrones series written by George R. R. Martin, and I am currently on book three "A Storm of Swords". We've already watched all the Game of Thrones HBO series to date, so why am I reading the books? Well, I personally find that the books are usually better, but mainly because I can't wait for Season 5 to find out what will happen next. I know it's sad.

Beside reading, I have been doing a lot of cooking lately which has been a bit of a challenge. First, we currently have limited supplies. Since we'll be traveling to New Zealand soon it's time for us to empty the food stored aboard the boat. New Zealand has pretty strict (though fair) rules about food and things they permit into their country. For instance, there's a pretty strict limitation on any fresh fruits and veggies brought into the country. We understand these rules and do our best to respect the rules of each country, so we are emptying out our stores. However, we still need to have enough food for our approximately six day passage South to New Zealand.

Second, my iPad died ... UGH!! Since I usually get seasick during our passage, I prepare meals in advance and freeze them. So, I have been doing a bit of cooking (and unfortunately eating, but that's another story). My cooking skills are very limited, so I rely a lot (very much actually heavily) on recipes which on occasion I tweak to our tastes. I have a wonderful iPad App called Paprika Manager which I use daily and LOVE IT!! I won't bore everyone with the reasons why I find this app FABULOUS, so if you're interested in my thoughts, the cost, etc. just drop me a comment in the comment section below, and I'll get back to you. However, as I mentioned before my iPad recently died (UGH!!). The good news is I have contacted Apple (a long story) and it's under warranty. The bad news is we are about 30 nm from Noumea where I believe (though I don't know for certain) that I can get the iPad repaired or replaced. Since I use my iPad daily and consider it an important piece of boat equipment (though I am not sure Rankin agrees), I was devastated when I couldn't bring it back to life. Many of my recipes (not to mention other stuff) are located on the iPad, so now what. Okay, I have been scrambling a bit searching through the few "hard copy" recipes books I still have left trying to find something tasty to cook with the limited supplies I have aboard. For me, with my limited cooking skills and knowledge, I found this a challenge. Well, I came across this banana bread recipe which was not the best banana bread recipe (since that's on the iPad), but very tasty especially considering that I ran out of butter and bananas (at least fresh/old bananas).

Banana Nut Bread (Cookbook: "Ship to Shore I" by Capt. Jan Robinson)
1/2 c margarine (I used ~1/2 c of vegetable oil since I didn't have butter or margarine)
3/4 c sugar
1 egg (I specifically looked for a recipe which used only 1 egg since I am running low on eggs too)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 c flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c mashed bananas (I used bananas which I had in the freezer and just let them thaw a bit)
1 c chopped walnuts (out of walnuts so left them out)

Cream sugar and margarine. Add egg and beat thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients. Mix well. Stir in mashed bananas, lemon juice and walnuts. Fill one 9 X 5 X 3 loaf pan - ungreased (I did use cooking spray to grease pan). Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

This was a pretty tasty banana bread considering the limited resources at our disposal. We usually rate our recipes 1 through 5, 1 being poorest rating and 5 being the best. Rankin rates many things a 4 and I think this was no different; however, I would rate it a 3.5. Good in a pinch, but I would prefer our other recipe which is stuck on the dead iPad. UGH!!

Since we find the water here in New Caledonia quite chilly (can't tell you the temp yet), we have spent more time than usual on the boat. We have done some snorkeling though we first cover ourselves from head to toe in wet suit gear then mentally prepare ourselves before making the chilly plunge. BURRRR!! Thank goodness the days have been beautiful and sunny and the water visibility has been good which makes for perfect snork (short for snorkeling) conditions. During one of our snorks at Ilot Kouare (south of Ilot Ua), we spotted at least half a dozen or more porcupine fishes hiding under what we call "table top" coral. Porcupine fish are very skiddish and hide under overhangs, "table top" coral, etc. and it can be difficult to get a good photo of them. I snapped a picture of one porcupine fish who's was so cute he's now my new Desktop page. I will post a picture as soon as we have internet. I've decided he's cute enough to deserve a name, so feel free to send us your suggestions. 

What shall we name this cute little Porcupinefish?

The coral was alive and beautiful which makes this snorkel spot worth sharing. Our friend Jon on the sailing vessel Evergreen has created a website called Venture Farther (www.venturefarther.com) which allows people to post snorkeling, diving and anchoring spots all around the world, so the information can be shared. The website is free and all you need to do is register, so it's worth checking out. Besides sharing various spots, there are many other features this site has to offer like the ability to download Google Earth charts to kap files which can be used for navigation. We will post our information to Venture Farther, as soon as we have internet. Definitely, check out this site. As soon as we have internet, I will include a link from our website too.

Our other water adventure has been cleaning the boat bottom. Now that we have a catamaran, there are occasions when we feel like we went from a 45 foot monohull to a 94 foot monohull ... cleaning the boat bottom is one of those times. Even though Gypsea Heart is only 47 feet, she has two hulls which can mean double the work. Our strategy for boat bottom cleaning is I clean the stuff near the surface with a snorkel while Rankin cleans the deeper section (i.e. keels, props, etc.) with a hooka. By the way, a hooka is device which pumps air to a regulator, so you can dive shallow depths without a tank. My description could be better, but I think you can get the gist of it. It took us two days in the cooler water to clean both hulls well, and the bottoms were not too bad just a little "scummy" stuff which came off fairly easy.

This past week was a "spring break" type holiday in New Caledonia, so we have seen several chartered catamaran boats come and go from the anchorage during our stay. One day, an English speaking French Captain from a chartered Lagoon catamaran stopped by along with two children (they didn't speak English). He (I forgot his name shortly after he told me, so I'll call him "Captain") brought us some fish. The Captain said it was a Wahoo or Waloo though it was hard for us to determine which fish he said, because of his accent. He caught it while sailing between Isle de Pins and Ilot Ua. The fish was about 4 feet long and around 50 lbs then he handed us a large chunk of fish which we gladly accepted. We gave him a bottle of wine in return then invited them aboard for a bit. We chatted a bit about sailing the Southern Lagoon, fishing, cooking (because he's the chef aboard too). Then he gave us some leaves from a plant he called "False Tabacco" (I will post a picture soon) which he explained helps prevent ciguterra. He got them from the island and said to boil about four leaves in a cup of water for a 3-5 minutes, remove the leaves, add about a liter of cool water to the boiled leaves mixture and then drink up. For those who aren't familiar with ciguterra, I found a description of it in "The Cruising Chef Cookbook" by Michael Greenwald which states "Ciguterra is a neurological disorder. It is caused by consuming reef fish which in turn have eaten smaller fish which contain toxins. The toxins are concentrated in the flesh of the larger fish. There is no quick test for it, no sign of its presence in the fish, cooking does not destroy it." We had a lovely conversation with him though now I am not as keen about eating the Wahoo or Waloo ... we'll see. 

False Tobacco ... solution to ciguterra???
The Captain has been our only visitor though we've had a lot of entertainment. We have had about half a dozen mackerel tuna swimming about chasing and catching the tiny fish (not sure what they are) hovering around the boat. We can't see the tiny fish well, so do not know the type of fish. The tiny fish don't have much of a chance, because while the tuna chase them from the bottom there are birds flying around above to catch them. There's a lot of splashing activity around Gypsea Heart. I took some pictures though I haven't look at them yet. If they turn out well, I'll post some.

Well, I believe our adventure ends here today or maybe tomorrow. Our next stop should be Ilot Amedee which is just 12 nautical miles South of Noumea before continuing to Noumea for a quick touch and go for possible iPad repair (YEAH!) and quick provisioning. Our current plan is to hang around the islands near Noumea and wait for a weather window for our sail to New Zealand.

We hope you will enjoy this new format and find the variety a bit interesting. Feel free to post any comments or thoughts we'd love to hear from you. Until next time ...

We enjoy reading about their new adventures ... .

We're back.  I wanted to add a few updates now that we have internet.  I have included links for our friends websites which I mentioned above.  The links are located on the right side of the screen under the heading "Sites to Visit".  I've also included a link to the wonderful Venture Farther site which is an excellent site for cruisers, divers and snorkelers.  In addition to the links, I've included the pictures of the Porcupinefish (yes, it is all one word) and the False Tobacco plant.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a great picture of the birds and tuna hunting the little fish, so sorry!

We enjoyed one more night at Ilot Ua which meant one more beautiful sunset before we traveled to Ilot Amedee.