Thursday, December 29, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Fiji

I decided to head to Fiji for the holidaze to visit my friend Soko. It took me 9.5 days to sail from Fiji to Auckland, NZ in October.  The return trip took 3 hours by airplane. Yesterday we returned to Suva after spending several days in her home village of Nayavu. Highlights of the visit include hiking in the bush and picking wild yams, edible ferns, chili peppers, and oranges; swimming in the rivers and streams; drinking kava and a homebrew made from fermented coconut juice and sugar; waking up in the wee hours to the all-night kava drinkers breaking into beautiful harmonies; delicious food; and the very welcoming hospitality. I'll be flying back to Auckland and Twister on New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

reading list

Probably my number one pastime (based on the amount of time spent) since getting off the hamster wheel is reading--especially when I'm sailing. Here is a partial list of what I've read since departing Southern California in April (since I haven't kept written record, I'm sure I've forgotten a few things). More or less in reverse chronological order:

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution by Richard Dawkins

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Eirik Raude by Preben Mørbak

The Island of Desire (The Story of a South Sea Trader) by Robert Dean Frisbie

Stories Of Hawaii By Jack London

The Ministry Of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

River Town: Two Years On The Yangtze by Peter Hessler

Life by Keith Richards

Brain Bugs: How The Brain's Bugs Shape Our Lives by Dean Buonomano

Hell's Corner by David Baldacci

1900 Morgenrød by Gunnar Staalesen

1950 High Noon by Gunnar Staalesen

1999 Aftensang by Gunnar Staalesen

The Forgotten One: And Other True Tales of the South Seas by James Norman Hall

Home from the sea: Robert Louis Stevenson in Samona by Richard Arnold Bermann

An Island To Oneself by Tom Neale

Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert*

The Life And Adventures Of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe* (I must have read an abridged version when I was a kid. After he's rescued, it goes on and on about his newfound religion)

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Breakfast Of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut

“Why I Am Not A Christian” by Bertrand Russell

Following The Equator by Mark Twain

“Walking” by Henry David Thoreau

Between A Rock And A Hard Place by Aaron Ralston

Guns, Germs, And Steel by Jared Diamond*

The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupéry

Wind, Sand, And Stars by Antoine De Saint Exupéry

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

*Did not finish

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Waiheke Island

Today I'm cruising over to Waiheke Island, only ~12 miles from Auckland. The plan is to anchor in Huruhi Bay (sheltered from the north-easterlies which are forecast to continue for several days). Many locals have encouraged me to visit Great Barrier Island, but as the prognosticators are predicting crappy weather for the next week, I'll save it for January. Another Twister is said to live on Waiheke Island. It belongs to Miles Hordern who sailed his Twister from NZ to Chile and back and wrote a book about it. I'll let you know if I run into him or his Twister (to clarify, Twister is both the name and the model of my boat. You can read more about Twisters at The Twister Class Association).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

made it with one tank (and two jerry cans)

Today Twister and I putted over to the fuel dock to fill up in preparation for some cruising around NZ (I've also read that it's a good idea to keep the tank full to minimize condensation). Expecting to fill many gallons I was surprised when it overflowed after only 2.2. Back in the slip I sat down to calculate my fuel consumption for the Pacific crossing (I had topped off the fuel tank in American Samoa). Turns out I used almost exactly 36 gallons from San Diego to Auckland which is the amount of diesel I left San Diego with (25 gallons in the fuel tank and 11 gallons in two jerry cans).

Yesterday I gave the deck and the shrouds (steel wires that support the sides of the mast) a quick scrub with concentrated hydrochloric acid (aka muriatic acid). Sounds like a bad idea, right? Well it's great at removing rust and rust stains. Now Twister has white decks and sparkling shrouds. Anybody have any thoughts on the use of HCl on boats?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

what makes me nervous

Occasionally I am asked if I get scared out there in the middle of the ocean. I'm sure I will when I finally encounter some bad weather. But what scares me now and always is navigating the boat in and out of tight spaces with lots of other boats around (like a marina). A couple of days ago I was on Twister installing the new throttle control when the guy at the helm of a powerboat, trying to avoid bumping the dock and other boats, cranked the wheel, floored it, and slammed into a piling and another boat. Amazingly a minute or two later they found themselves in the same situation and responded in the same way and with the same result. With a lot of help they finally got the boat into the slip.

The reason they were having trouble parking (aside from lack of experience) was a strong wind perpendicular to the slip they were trying to park in. This has caused me many nervous moments parking the boat back in San Diego. Twister has a long keel, but it ends well before the bow, so that end of the boat tends to slide off when the wind is blowing on the beam (this is only an issue when the boat is not or barely moving). That power boat has very little in the way of a keel and a lot of area above water for the wind to push.