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!