Archive for May, 2007

First gale

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Not quite what we pictured the tropical trade winds to be, is going through our heads, as we’re beating with tiny staysail, no jib and triple reefed main into 30 knots+ of easterlies with considerate lumpy swell. Half way between Norfolk and Fiji Berlin Express is getting her first really beating. Waves are punching hard against her side from a beamy swell and every now and then she lands heavily after a steep wave… each impact hurts my heart but she’s coping fine. A crisis of different sort is that we’re down to our last 2 chocolate bars, which is a real issue with 3 people…

Click here for two short videos:

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hand-steering.WMV

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Mixed emotions

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The GPS plots a perfect course with fantastic speed but I have trouble getting exited today. 3 liters of water in the forward bilge and the view on some corrosion spots reminded me that it’s not all roses and beer all the time. Water may only be from the missing plug in the chain hawser and the corrosion is half as bad and can be worked out during the next overhaul, I try to convince myself… but the point is that I am not ready to think about major work yet… I’ve just started to relax. This is my first sad moment since leaving Melbourne and I know it will pass… but it’s still bringing me down. Well, these are the lessons I wanted to learn. Only sitting at home will keep you free of all troubles… It all comes together… Music cures my soul… already working ;-)

Deep Blue Third

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Norfolk Island lies 100nm to the north but we won’t stop. One third to Fiji, now bearing away, wind builds, one sail change… It’s night and the sea is heavy blue with bright reflections of the half moon dancing on the waves. I am listening to Henryk Gorecky, Symphony #3, Op 36 and realize that this is exactly what I was looking for. Living a dream, fly angle of steel, cut through the water like a princess. This is it!

Westerly winds

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Finally we got this long anticipated weather window of westerly winds and we’ll be riding it from the beginning to the end. Slow first day but now we’re getting into the groove. 5+ knots and a massive cloud formation on the horizon with distinct mare’s tales promise more pressure. Too good that we’re running downwind, with 1m chop and 4m swell, beating would be terrible. But this just shows how clever we are ;-) Spirit’s are up as usual… batteries down (as usual, too)

160 nm done so far, further 450 nm to go before turning northwards direction Fiji after rounding Norfolk in the South.

Keener then ever

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

No matter how pretty it is here, 2 weeks in Lord Howe are enough and hoisting the sails again for a brief sail with some locals, I realize how much I want so get going again. Things continue to change as I am settling in this new life style more and more every day. This is just the beginning.

Lord Howe is right in the horse lattitudes with a lot of variable winds. You need a big low pressure system from the south creating westerly winds to push to longitude 170 degrees east from where on one can turn north to catch the south east trade winds. Two of these lows are on their way. Estimated time of deparure is Friday… Over 1500 nautical miles to Fiji. Bring it on ;-)

GADFLY

Friday, May 11th, 2007

Our friends Travor, Fiona, Dave and Jeremy on Gadfly, a boat form the same Melbourne club I come from, have caught up with us here in Lord Howe, giving us yet another excuse to celebrate. After a staggering win of Berlin Express over Gadfly in a lawn bowling match, we went to the radio shed again and had one of the best nights so far. The small place was packed and everyone was dancing… Will be good to sail along with Gadfly for a while. But my head this morning told me that I have to take it easy with these big nights for a while. Too bad that there’s another BBQ on the beach and dance night at the bowling club tonight… Ok, one more but this will be it… ;-)

Click here for two videos:

lord-howe.WMV

no-petrol-left.WMV

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the pier

Thursday, May 3rd, 2007

The stunning beauty of this place leaves me speechless and in this very moment this pier may as well be the most beautiful pier in the world built by an artist not an engineer. I can’t take my eyes of it feeling the aging rough timber planks under my feet.

We sailed Berlin Express behind the main reef on the western side of the island where the water got even more turquoise and the view on the towering two mountains of the island with its cloud caps is even more stunning. The dingy cuts through the crystal clear water and the corals below us look like we’d hit them any second although they are still more than 4 meters deep. Then walking though the island, I realize that this is all different. It may look like some tropical places I’ve been before but despite all it’s similarity it’s still different.

This feeling is like having arrived to the first true destination of my journey and every day prior this is part of it… so is every day to come. A place in time existing by its past and future and in the perfect balance of the two allows me to truly enjoy. Old strength is coming back and I feel that this is my path.

We bowl with locals, agree to golf on the next day and move to that very pier. The radio station is open to everyone and sitting on old sofas with the DJ and his friends, surrounded by unique junk, hundreds of party photos and amateurish paintings on the wall, we are living a hippy life even we will never be one and there was no spliff passed around…

Following the breeze from the ocean, I step out of the small weather board house and walk over a small verandah towards my pier. The music starts to fade to a lesser and lesser thumping in the background, making space for the orchestra of waves on the reef and wind in the palm trees echoing in the unbelievable space around us. The full moon sparkles on the water and shines all the way to the bottom of the lagoon.

All I can think of is that I have to walk to the edge of the pier to find out what it is like…

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Lord Howe

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

After 435nm in 3 days and 16h (average 5 knots) we’ve arrived in Lord Howe and dropped anchor on the North-East side, surrounded by palm trees, steep cliffs and a coral reef with crystal clear water. Some explored the island and managed to meet all residents in about 4h. Hence the important commitments for today will be bowling, drinking and dining with the locals… to bad that I also have to fix the engine-shaft connection, GPS, a toilet issues, etc… but who cares: we’ve made the second step of 4 towards Fiji…

Offshore… as it should be

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Great start out of Sydney under full set of sails. Screaming along with the building westerlies and already making plans for an early arrival at Lord Howe. 135 nm in the first 24h…

Then… Massive Thunderstorms during the nights… encircled by lighting everywhere. Squalls, Spray, down to one small staysail. Riding a confused sea of up to 4m throwing us wildly from one side to the other… no real fun and no real sleep… Carefully watching this big pot of boiling water on our heavily shaking stove… Food lies heavy in my stomach… not really happy!

But there’s always a next day… opening up, sunrise, the ocean settles… everything forgotten… Deep blue, sun, crisp air, slight heel, 6 knots plus… 100 nm to go but it doesn’t matter… this is what we came here for. Berlin Express is loving it and we’re all smiling with her ;-)