A New Year – for better or worse

Wednesday 1st January 2020.

I’m finding it hard to utter the words “happy new year”. As Matt said, it felt wrong to leave behind the last year that we had Danny in it. Life will never be the same. I can’t wrap my head round it.

Bernie and I took our rum and lime up on deck just before midnight to watch the fireworks. We’d seen the barges in place earlier in the day, a dozen or more dotted around the bay. One was moored very close to Momo so we were lined up for a front row seat.

Acapulco is lovely at night and the display really was spectacular, with just enough breeze to take the smoke away as it progressed. We stayed on deck, yarning, with another rum, long after the fireworks were over. Boats started returning to the marinas, weaving around us.

I happened to look out over the starboard bow and saw a boat heading directly for us. I said to Bernie “That boat needs to alter course. Right now” and got to my feet to start yelling at them. Bernie joined me but they kept coming. The boat was overloaded with passengers and, way too close for comfort, some noticed us and relayed, presumably, to the skipper. They slowed but didn’t stop and the only reason they didn’t hit us was because Bernie and I both leaned out and fended them off. We physically grabbed their bowsprit and pushed them off to the side. The skipper finally got his dumb head into gear and went into reverse, yelling that he couldn’t see us.

Well, duh! I think we got that point loud and clear. The dickwad was steaming along with all their interior lights on and no navigation lights at all. Plus there were so many people on board he wouldn’t have seen through the throng ahead of the vessel. Idiot. It was no bloody wonder they couldn’t see us. We certainly had our anchor light on. I tried to get the boats name, to identify it for today, but they turned off all lights and went completely dark. So I couldn’t read the name.

We were a bit nervous after that so stayed on deck with a hand held light that we shone towards any boat heading our way. To be fair, it can be hard to see anchor lights against the back drop of the city, but that is exactly why you stick to the pilotage channels and don’t fucking drive right through the middle of a designated anchorage. And you keep a decent lookout and use your navigation lights. WTF! These things are in place for a reason!

So we’re feeling like we dodged a bullet this morning. Poor Momo would’ve been in rough shape if they’d rammed us. Not to mention the very real possibility of drunk guests from their boat either injured or in the water, or both.

This is a typical taxi here! Picture 6′ Bernie and me and groceries folded into one! And the name of this fast food outlet made us laugh. Do you think something got lost in translation?

3.01.19

We sailed off the anchor and exited the bay around 1615 this afternoon. The wind is WNW so we’re having to tack our way north. Its slow going but Momo is tripping along nicely. Its nearly 1900 now and I’ve just sent Bernie off to rest. It’ll be hard on him with all the tacking non stop. It’s a beautiful evening though.

We’re heading to Mazatlan first, probably, where I’m trying to persuade Fizz to meet us and join for a bit!

Acapulco, Mexico.

New Year’s Eve 2019

Momo is anchored the better part of a nautical mile from shore in the lovely natural harbour that makes horse – shoe shaped Acapulco Bay.

We entered in the dark, about 0530, I was on watch, and it sparkled with Christmas – like cheer, complete with fairy lit trees on the highest peak above the city. Rugged mountains frame the city, making it a very protected harbour.I roused Bernie and we stood on deck appreciating the beauty, while trying to orientate ourselves to the various marinas’ locations. It took a while to get a reply on the radio from the harbour master, about 0930 I guess. By then we’d chosen an anchorage close to two similar looking yachts. Luckily we were told to anchor pretty much where we already had, so Bernie just said “yes, OK” and we stayed put!We got most of the entry paperwork done that day, most importantly, customs and immigration. So with passports stamped we were free to roam. That was Dec 28th.

Since then we haven’t done a lot. I get land sick every time I step ashore which Bernie finds very amusing, I think! I usually head straight to a wee cafe with decent coffee and Internet close to where we get ashore. So I’ve managed to catch up with everyone except Mehrez.BTW, Mehrez, you’re still in top spot for being my hottie! No competition over here, chéri! Central Americans seem to be, on average, a good two inches shorter than me and twice as wide. And Mexicans really are 90% very overweight. I was rather surprised but Bernie told me that they’ve knocked Americans off the top spot for being fat.

Still, the atmosphere of Acapulco is very positive and happy. I guess life here is pretty good. For us, though I suppose not for locals, it’s very cheap. We got a bottle of rum, a bottle of wine and some fruit and salad stuff the other day for US$22. And a full provisioning of the yacht yesterday for both of us for two weeks was about $110.Bernie and I have just taken the local bus into town. Bloody hilarious. The very young driver (he looked about 16) played super loud EDM, real bangers and hash stuff, which I totally enjoyed. Bernie was highly entertained that I got Shazam out! And he pulled the tail on a stuffed monkey to make the horn work! Great experience!

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Another thing is, there are so so many different law enforcement agencies, armed men everywhere. They’re carrying serious weapons too, and often have face masks on, so quite intimidating, potentially. Even the banks have armed guards.The town is bustling and lively and I find the atmosphere good for a fractured soul. Music non stop, smiles and bright colours. There’s worse places to be!

2019 is a wrap.

As I said to Bernie last night, this year was a really good one – right up until 0600 on November 13th when I heard about Danny’s death.In that moment it became the worst year of my life.

I’ve done a lot this year. The boys and I had a wonderful summer together in Ohope and on our travels around NZ during the holiday period last Summer.My season in France was, on balance, great. I had a lovely boat to work on, I made wonderful new friends and spent special times with the ones I had already. I saw more of the French countryside thanks to Mehrez. I saw a lot more of the Mediterranean thanks to Lucky Wave.I got a trip to Prague and ABGT350 with Matt and Meg.I didn’t get my captain’s qualification thanks to Carly.

I did get my open water divers qualification in Koh Phangan thanks to Reefers and Lukas. I had a marvelous week with Ruth, and then looked forward to another incredible experience with Ruth, Orgest and Nina on Koh Phi Phi.And that’s when it all came crashing down.So Matt and I, along with all the family and wonderful friends, have said goodbye to our beloved Danny, in our own special way.So here I make a pledge to my sons.

To Danny – my beautiful baby, I will try to find peace in my heart again, joy in the simple things that came so easily before you died. I will miss you with every breath, every day, but I promise to try and be of good heart again for your brother. And because you were such a joy.

To Matt – my wonderful, brave first born son, you and I will make new memories as a duo, without our wingman. I’ll always have your back. We’ll carry Danny in our hearts and memories on this difficult journey forward without him. We will let his loving heart and positive energy live on in our thoughts and actions. I will love you enough for both of us, always.

Back to Plan A!

Boxing Day 1200

We had a plan change early this morning, after an intensely frustrating night of little or no wind. Again. Before we left Bahia del Sol we’d thought to take the coastal route via Acapulco to La Paz. Then Bernie felt it was better to skirt the strong winds created by the Tehuantepec and go offshore heading directly to Puerto Valletta. (btw, my nursing friends, this place is affectionately known as PV! Hahaha. I snort every time Bernie says it and now he understands the joke, he all but rolls his eyes)

However after losing so many days to no winds both before and after the Tehuantepec, and being low on food supplies, we’ve started the engine and are going directly to Acapulco. Poor Bernie! He sees this as a sailor failure! He uses the rags 99% of the time and loathes having to get the diesel out! Still, what can you do with no wind to fill said sails! Of course, yours truly has a healthy respect for all forms of power, and consequently am suffering zero pangs over getting that baby diesel going! So I’m happily on watch and have sent mon capitaine off to catch up on zeds.

Emotionally I’m really struggling. I feel like I’ve been chopped into a million pieces and each bit is on life support, can feel the pain of the torture but can’t find a way to put it’s parts back together. Alive but not functioning. Recognisable but not responsive. Breathing but brain dead. The ocean around me looks like the emptiness of my life stretching endlessly before me, navigable but featureless. Without a destination.

I daresay some of you will think “but you still have Matt” and thank god for that, but I’d bet you anything you like he’s feeling the same only 10 times worse. He has 50 or 60 years without his beloved brother. I face a mere 25 or so. And the three of us have grown up together, a tight trio, fighting our battles together, always having each others backs, knowing we could rely on one another 100%. It’s just so bloody hard. And yes, I miss Matt terribly right now. I wish he could join me on Momo for a bit! I’d like just the two of us to do something together in the near future.

1840. Back on sails for a bit as we have enough wind and Bernie wants to check the oil etc. The wind has backed a bit so its on our port beam. Lovely sunset as usual! We’ve just been sitting on deck yarning. As usual!

27.12.19 @ 0600. The sailing didn’t last long as the wind died again, but it w nice to have an hour or two of quiet, sitting on deck talking with Bernie. I did watch from 2100 to 0200 and am back on now. We don’t do changes in any formal way. Just get the other person when we get tired. So some nights I do more and some Bernie does. It works for us.

1700. I’ve just had my “shower” on deck. Much needed as it’s been sweltering hot today. Bernie has been doing sail repairs and I’ve done odd jobs and read my book. About once an hour poor Bernie laments the engine! I’m used to it. But there’s still no wind so a good decision and we should get to Acapulco tomorrow.

1950. Bernie and I were sitting in the shade of the sail having our dinner around 6pm,when Bernie commented “I can’t believe we haven’t caught a single fish.” Literally seconds after he uttered the words the fishing line took off! We looked at each other in disbelief and shot aft! There was a beauty marlin on the line! I wound it in and Bernie gaffed and landed it. Food! Just the day after we’ve run out of fresh food. Thank you Mr Marlin!

29.12.19. I’m ashore in Acapulco, my mission to find a laundrette, an Atm and sim cards, but I’m doing a bit of internetting with coffee in a local cafe overlooking the bay first! The waiter speaks English so I’ll pick his brains before I go.

I’m sure some of you will lament our catch of the marlin. We do too somewhat, but as we’d run out of food except rice and tinned tomatoes, we appreciate nature’s bounty and every bit will be used. Bernie is smoking and canning as I do this.

I talked to Matt last night briefly which was marvelous. And I’ll ring Mum and Dad later, at a sensible time in NZ!

Happy New Year, everyone.

Don’t forget to love each other. Love past the stars xxxxx

Bluewater Sailing

Sunday 22nd December 0515

It’s howling outside. We have Momo completely closed up. I’m on watch since I can’t sleep anyway. The only thing keeping my head on straight is that Bernie is trying to sleep, which means he can’t be too worried. But I feel like we’re going to turn upside down any moment. I’m not quite comfortable with this, lol. I keep thinking of Ibis. Except we’re 350nm offshore now and would certainly be fish food if Momo capsized. But she’s been around the world safely so I have faith! And as Bernie said “you can enjoy this more retrospectively!”

I have Danny on my mind this morning. I miss him so much, miss the thought of all the things we were looking forward to doing together. I woke in the middle of last night full of anger for the first time. Anger at the girl who killed him, anger at those who should have loved him unconditionally for being so critical and couldn’t see him for his own special qualities , anger at Carly for being so nasty to Danny that it made him cry, when all he ever tried to be was good to the selfish piece. I’ve tried so hard to suppress all that but I guess it had to come out sometime. I went on deck and the night sky was so magic, it helped drain my anger, let it go for now. I still feel like sneaking to Hope’s hospital bed and whispering in her ear “you killed my son, bitch” but it won’t bring him back. I still feel like yelling the definition of a good person is not just to be an A student, but it won’t bring Danny back.

And then there’s the fact that Danny was the most generous hearted person, kind, loving, non judgemental man and I don’t want to dishonour his memory but letting my baser feeling rule. I must just remember the wonderful years he was with us, the immense joy he brought me and that I’ll always love both my boys. Other people’s actions are on them, not me, and I need not be responsible for them. Though I would take a bullet for my boys any day.

0700. Bernie’s up and teasing me for my fears! And making coffee, happy days. We’re still doing in excess of 8 knots and the wind speed is about 30 knots with the sea state at 5, I’d say (2.5-4m). Everything looks better in the light of day!

0845. Bernie’s been telling me about courses you can do to learn to ‘read the waves’. He reckons its codswallop. So we’re taking turns at poking our heads through the hatch and gazing at the sea in the faint hope of detecting a pattern. Looks as likely as reading tea leaves, if you ask me. No fishing today!

1500. The wind’s eased so we’re going to brave the aft deck and have a shower! In case you’re imagining a real cubicle shower, sorry to disabuse you of that notion, but all I mean is we take turns at standing starkers on deck, tipping sea water over ourselves, then a fresh water rinse! Nothing fancy but quite pleasant nonetheless, since the sea is so warm.

Christmas Eve

1340. I’ve lost a day! Bernie and I have been sick, some kind of gastrointestinal bug. Not fun at sea. So we’ve been a bit moronic, doing what’s necessary and little else. Looking after each other. Watching TV!

On the plus side, there’s been so much sea life, many different kinds of dolphins and whales. Turtles, even saw a baby one. And these cool tiny fluorescent blue things we couldn’t identify, like fire flies of the sea! This morning, about 4am, a bird landed beside me on deck, looking a bit done in. He didn’t fight much when I caught him, just a half hearted peck. I helped him take off again but I don’t think he was very strong.

The weather has calmed the farm and we’re now making a respectable 4-5 knots without being chucked about! We have 500nm to run, as the crow flies, to Peurto Vallarta. So another 6 days probably, if the weather gods are good to us.

Christmas Day 0340!

I spoke too soon. Its glassy calm out there! The wind started dropping last evening and I did some fishing. No luck though. We did catch a bird on our trawl which had us both going No, no, no! Bernie dropped the fore sail and I started bringing the bird in slowly, so as not to drown it. Luckily it was only hooked lightly through the side of its cheek. Bernie held its wings while I got the hook out, easily thank goodness. We let him go and he was fine. Poor chap. I wish we’d catch a proper fish. We could use some fresh food.

Bernie is on the mend but my tummy is still delicate. I tried eating a little dinner last night, as I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours, but it fired straight through me in a very unpleasant manner. So no food again.

Have I mentioned there is a ton of bioluminescence in the water here. Its stunning. Momo leaves a shiny trail and we can see the fish and dolphins moving through the ocean. And since its so calm the stars are reflecting on the sea and dancing like fire flies. Its very pretty and also a little spooky! It’s as though there are creatures out there playing tricks on us. I can see how sailors of old got so superstitious!

0445. I just got a message from Matt via the InReach system. So wonderful to hear from him, though I did end up all weepy coz it’s Xmas and I miss my boys and we’ll never have Danny with us for Xmas again.

1100. Bernie and I were both up and on deck early. The wind is truly fickle today so one of us needs to be watching the helm all the time. But it was nice sitting together on deck and discussing all sorts of things! I made omelettes for breakfast with the last of the eggs. Bernie’s gone to have a snooze and I’m sitting under an umbrella I’ve tied to the guard rail! My tummy is still a bit average.

Having been pretty tearful and on edge for much of the day, the roller coaster wave seemed to suddenly calm down mid afternoon. I seem to have zero control over my emotions at the moment. So we had a nice afternoon. Took turns at resting and sitting chatting. Bernie is so kind about my crazy emotions, very understanding and sweet natured.

We got treated to some extraordinary sealife. I saw a big bird just chilling on a log, but Bernie went one better and saw a bird riding on a turtle! He got a photo too. We had numerous dolphin visits and then a school of sharks hung around the yacht all afternoon and evening, accompanied by so many different beautiful fish. I wanted to dive with them all but Bernie thought I’d lost the plot! For a sailor he doesn’t like actually being in the water that much!

For Xmas Dinner I made a rice salad with yellow fin tuna that Bernie had caught and bottled. Damned good! And Bernie made one of his rum specials! Which consists of a healthy drop of dark rum, a little bit of brown sugar and lots of fresh lime juice.

Seasons Greetings.

Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

16.12.19 @2030.I’m sailing again. That might not, on the face of it, seem surprising. However, this last month has been the worst of my life and I’m hoping this trip with Bernie will help me start to heal.On November 13th at 0630 I received the phone call no parent should ever get. My beautiful son, Danny, was killed in a car accident. There really aren’t words to describe Matt and my devastation and heart break. The three of us were a tight unit, a team. We’ve been through so much together. And my boys were not just brothers, but best friends.I’ve always felt so blessed to have such a wonderful relationship with my sons. I never thought of one without the other and I’m sure they knew I’ve loved them every second from the moment they were born.I don’t want to dwel on it here, because nothing I say will bring Danny back. I vacillate between quiet joyless heart break and bawling devastation. But both Matt and I decided he would want us to keep on with our adventures and we hope this will distract us a bit.So, after all of us returning to NZ for Danny’s funeral and so on, Matt is in Russia, with Meg, continuing their trip through Europe, and I joined Bernie on their (his and Michelle’s) yacht Momo, as planned. I flew into San Salvador on Dec 5th and got a taxi to Bahia del Sol where Bernie was at anchor.When I arrived I was as weak as a kitten, due to stress, something that’s shocked me and is another story I’ll touch on at a different time. I’d gone from feeling so fit and strong while doing my diving course (which I passed btw) to being unable to get up off the ground without huge effort. Scary really. So the first week or so here, getting to know Momo, swimming, supplying the boat etc, was a great catch up period, both physically and emotionally. I’ve felt myself slowly get stronger and the waves of grief fractionally more manageable.Bernie has been wonderfully understanding. He’s missing his girls too, who are all in NZ at the moment. What a pair we are! But he’s given me jobs to do, let me get on with anything I want and really just let me be when I’ve been upset. A couple of times when I was really not coping he issued a quick hug, but mostly realised I’m best left to have a wee cry, then sort myself out and get on with something.We’re good crew mates so far, talking about anything and everything, putting the world to rights! We’ve got to know some local people, joining them for drinks and a swim in the evening. I’ve also enjoyed the varied bird life here, with tiny swallows greeting me each morning and beautiful big McCaws (I think!) in the gardens of the resort.We were going to sail last week but the weather window closed up on us and we delayed until this afternoon. So we lifted the pick about 1730 today and got led out over the bar in a beautiful sunset. Bernie got the sails up while I took the helm and we turned the engine off by 1830. Peace. Its great to be at sea again. I got dinner while Bernie settled us on a course and put the auto helm on. After dinner, around 2000, I took first watch and Bernie’s trying to get some sleep. It’s a stunning clear warm night, we’re steering 225 and making about 3 knots.Bit different to Lucky Wave!2240. I just had the most awesome treat. I got up to do my 15 minute checks and a bunch of dolphins swam alongside. I followed them to the bow and chatted to them while they danced in the bow waves and made streamers of phosphorescence in the water. It was super cool to see their bodies in the dark ocean thanks to the light show! This is exactly why I thought I should still come to sea so soon after Danny’s death. Spirit food at its best.0225. Just had a nice little kip and am back on watch. The wind has veered slightly which is in our favour so our course is more westerly now and we’re making 5 knots. Holding course nicely and all is well.0500. More dolphins. I can’t tell in the dark what kind. Nearly five thousand nautical miles in the Mediterranean and we only saw them three times I think. And here we’ve seen dozens after probably 50nm! Not many other vessels around, either.1400. We’re currently almost becalmed, after a day of mostly steady breeze busting us along at about 4.5 knots. We even had a squall go through and had to reduce sail! Now it’s hot and clear and we’re barely moving! Fruit for lunch, though I think Bernie might’ve sneaked some Pop corn while I snoozed! He loves that stuff!We’ve seen dolphins at regular intervals, mostly Bottlenose which are impressively big. They really do seem to look at you as you lean over the guard rail. They turn on their sides or pop out enough to see their eyes! The water is so clear. I saw some spotty ones earlier this morning which I think were Pantropical Spotted dolphins.Bernie has lots of books so I can look up the animals we see! There’s also a ton of educational sailing books which I should look at too. Starting with “wind vane self steering theory, principles and practice” Eek.Wednesday 18th December 0430Very slow going. Heading 326 degrees and doing about 2 knots. Not ideal but we can’t do much about it. I just hope we are out of the way of the Tehuantepec when it arrives. I’m a bit nervous about being in very rough weather, I must confess. Mainly coz I don’t know enough to help Bernie if the shit hits the fan. This yacht has a more complicated sail system than I’ve ever used.The Tuhuantepec is a funnel of wind that comes off the mainland near the south Mexican border. Its strong and covers a huge area. We had wanted to be 350nm west before the next forecast wind, doing about 120nm a day, but for the last 20hrs or so we’ve barely covered 40nm. And had to go further North than we wanted.However, that’s sailing. What can we do?! Bernie has been on watch, since I did most of last night and couldn’t sleep. So I was pretty tired. It’s nice on deck, cooler. I can sit here all night wearing only my Thailand trou and t shirt.0840. Still very light winds so Bernie just put up the big light air sail. Its still flapping round though! We had a large pod of pilot whales (according to Bernie) play on their way past us just now. Beautiful.1000. I’ve just had cheese and rice for brunch – yes, Rob!We might not be achieving the nautical miles we wanted to, and Bernie is mending a sail, but oh boy, is it magic out here. Not another boat in sight. No engine noise. Just sealife. And us. I’m sitting in the sun (yes, hat, shirt and sunscreen) watching the course, though we’re barely moving, and reading a book about early settlers in NZ. Very good, it is! So different to the Mediterranean where we play dodgems with the multi millionaires of the world.I think I’ll loop back from time to time, to fill in the events of the last 6 weeks or so since I posted from Koh Phangan. As I feel up to facing it all. For now, my diving course and Koh Phi Phi.My diving course was done with Reefers, on Koh Phangan, and I completely lucked in getting newly qualified instructor, Lukas Niebel. He was 100% fantastic. Ruth, who’s an instructor herself with over 400 dives, was impressed with him too. He had the patience of a Saint the first day as I learned the dozens of new things and made him repeat stuff over and over till I was sure of it.Day 2 was two beach access dives in fairly poor visibility, but I did well I think, and really enjoyed getting the hang of everything. I realised it was easier to control the finer bouancy with my lungs, which Lukas was apparently impressed about, saying it took ages to teach most people that. Seemed logical to me! He was also stoked at how little air I used, but I explained that breathing apparatus wasn’t new for me, as I’ve done so much fire fighting training. That day we went to about 9m and practised emergency procedures and buoyancy control.Day 3 was the two dives on Sail Rock. Ruth came as well and Lukas buddied us up to give me practise with buddy responsibility while he could watch and test me. The two of them conspired to set me little traps but I spotted all their tests! It was absolutely marvelous. I was totally hooked. Ruth took her underwater camera and got some awesome pics of us. We had such fun and I went to the limit of what I’m supposed to do as an open water diver – 18m. Lukas was super pleased with me, and I with him! I used less air than both he and Ruth, which astounded them! I aced my navigation too, lol!That night Lukas and Abby (his girlfriend) joined us for celebratory drinks. They’re an awesome pair. We might’ve had quite a few cocktails and I think I was the only one without a hangover the next morning – to Ruth’s disgust! We really enjoyed their company. Lukas has the same great approach to life I’ve instilled in my boys. He’s lived in NZ for 4 years too, working for Weta workshop in Wellington.1040. Right now there is a huge turtle hanging around the yacht. I can also see fish and a sea snake in the water, its so clear.1720. Still becalmed and barely able to hold a course. We’ve even “made way” sideways when the fetch pushed us almost backwards! On the plus side, it’s chilled off a bit now and the sun is behind clouds, setting up a spectacular sunset. Again! We’ve given up on the autohelm and are taking turns at half hour tricks, just trying to keep heading every so slowly in the right direction. Wind is forecast this evening. We’ve seen turtles three times today!19.12.19. Happy birthday, Mehrez! Sorry I can’t say it in person. I’m sure you’ll celebrate appropriately!We finally got wind in the night and buzzed along at a decent rate, poor Momo being tossed all over the show. The winds north easterly but there’s fetch from at least two other directions, so waves all over the place. The sails are slopping about but at least we’re moving. Only about 3 knots though. Again seen lots of dolphins and not caught any fish! I’m making kedgeree for dinner. We had popcorn for lunch, watching TV series Bernie has on his laptop! I can see more TV in my life in the next 2 weeks than in the last year!I’m starting to learn a bit about the yacht. Bernie showed me how the self steering gear works. It’s quite complex but works very well. And I think I’ve got all the sheets worked out, in terms of which one adjusts which sail. I haven’t started on the halyards yet. Bernie does most of the sail work. Its surprisingly heavy. He said usually Michelle takes the helm and he works the sails, so I guess we’ll stick with that. I’m also trying to do my share of the cooking and the laundry.I’ve felt Danny’s absence a lot today and had a few weepy moments. I think coz I know he’d love this and I so badly want more time to do these things with him. I’d promised him to do his open water diving course for his birthday and go diving with him. He was so excited for that. It’s deeply unfair. I hate that saying “only the good die young” now, with intensity. Because in his case its true. He was such a good man. He and Matt. I’ve been so proud of them both. I’m going to have to try not to place limitations on Matt. My fear of losing both sons cannot be allowed to cramp Matt’s style. I guess we both have to live a bit extra for Danny. FML.Friday 20th December 2019 0625 – sunrise. Clear and very light wind NE again. I’ve just adjusted the vane to bring us a little more round to the west. We’re getting a little too close to the area where the Tehuantepec hits. Need to be a bit more SW to be safe, and further out. But we’ve been stuck with no wind so can’t do much about that! It’s a more comfortable ride this morning. Still big rollers but not from as many directions!There has been a little swallow hanging round the yacht this morning. It seems a bit far out to sea to me, so I hope it finds its way home OK. They’re so cute. I gave it some sugary water but didn’t see if it drank any!0856. I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. Bernie has been able to have a nice sleep and relax since0430 and I’ve managed to alter the self steering and sails by myself successfully, as the wind (such as it is!) has veered onto our starboard quarter. We’re now steering 240 on average and making a huge 2 knots, lol! There are times I miss my big Mann engines! Am I a petrolhead at heart?0940. High excitement as the fishing line took off! Upon reeling it in we saw, to our consternation, that we’d hooked a stingray – a Devil Ray, actually. Wondering just how we were going to get the hook out and release it, it got off by itself. Thank goodness! So now I’m going to rod fish!I nearly got a fish but it seems to be our day for the buggers getting off the hook inches from capture. Or it could be user error! However, my at least hooking one, and seeing others interested in the lure, had infused Bernie with greater enthusiasm in my venture than he expected, I think. If only I had some bait I’m sure I’d have one but now. I’m regretting our decision to release the little fish we hooked yesterday.Just had the weather forecast in on the InReach system. More light winds, dammit! We’ll have to start thinking about conserving food. We expected to be heading north on the outside of the Tehuantepec by now. Instead we’re not even as far west as we want to be.1840. Well, we’ve just done 4 whole days at sea and are not even at it second way point. A bit concerning. I took a photo of the chart so I can add it in once we get WiFi! In a few weeks, lol! By which time we’ll just be eating pasta or rice and maybe tinned tomatoes, of which there seems to be a lot!2318. Wind at last. We’re doing 7 knots! In the right direction! I’ve had a quick sleep and am giving Bernie zeds, in case he has to deal with higher winds and sail changes later. I hope not. This is actually enough for me! I’m turning into a wuss in my old age.Saturday 21st December0815. We’re still humming along at 6 or 7 knots, sailing very nicely and will regain our original course about lunch time. I didn’t sleep much, a bit on edge, tbh. I didn’t think I would be and I don’t know if it’s a hang over from my Ibis tragedy, or a new awareness of life’s frailty brought on by Danny’s death. I just keep thinking “I can’t leave Matt alone”. Which is silly, because he wouldn’t be, but it was just the 3 of us managing on our own for so long that I still feel locked in that tight unit. Guess I’d better sort my head out because that’s pretty fucked up now, isn’t it just. Hell, I miss my boys.Anyway. We keep seeing wonderful wildlife, reassuring after the Mediterranean seeming so devoid of it. Last night dolphins totally showed off, leaping right out of the sea straight up for the sky. Ikei o te rangi! Also more turtles, fish, snakes and jelly fish. A couple of tiny fish have been thrown up on deck and Bernie snaffled them for my rod!I realise I didn’t get as far as talking about Koh Phi Phi. After I’d finished my dive course, Ruth and I hired motor bikes and explored Koh Phangan, which was great fun. I haven’t forgotten how to ride a bike apparently. It was a lovely week with Ruth, girl time, with massages and cocktails, coffee and chat.After Koh Phangan we headed off to join Orgest and Nina (Ruth’s daughter) for our week in Koh Phi Phi, where Nina had organised for us all to help a local conservation team plant coral on a reef that was struggling to survive. Very cool thing to be involved in. As it turned out I only got one very wonderful day doing this because it was early the second day that I got the news about Danny.I don’t know how I would’ve coped without Ruth, Orgest and Nina there. They were wonderful. I was a mess, of course. But they took me to Krabi, got me on a flight to Bangkok and from there I went home. I’m not ready to write about the rest yet but I will say a thank you here to the ladies on Qantas from Bangkok to Sydney. They were wonderful. They saw I was distressed as I boarded, took me aside and asked if I was OK. I explained and was given as private a seat as I could hope for and an enormous glass of whisky to settle in with. Bless them, they looked after me like I was their sister.1855. Bernie has just reefed the main sail for the night. We’ve been screaming along at 8-9 knots. We’ve just begun crossing the base of the Tehuantepec so should keep up a decent wind all night. The sea has been rough (in terms of the Douglas scale) today but Momo has sailed beautifully and it’s been pretty comfortable. We watched 3 episodes of “Wire”, the series set in a tough Baltimore suburb. It’s very good!

Ups and Downs

I’m sitting on a lounger overlooking the beautiful beach of Long Bay resort in Koh Phangan, Thailand, right this minute.

However the last two weeks haven’t been all roses. I didn’t get to do my yacht masters offshore course and for that I put the blame squarely on the fourth person in co-ownership with my boys and I in our Ohope house.

She wanted to us to buy her out which is fine and we’d all but sorted it out until she realised she wasn’t coming out of it with the many thousands of dollars her silly little brain had dreamed up. She thought she was getting 24% (her profit share) of the whole house value, though why I don’t know. We talked about how it works often enough and she knows I put a huge amount of cash capital into it, which is not hers! So she has it in her head she’s get about $70k, not the reality of about $15k max, minus legal costs etc.

Anyway she is now trying to fight us for more. I’m so upset and angry. I have given her an amazing opportunity to make some money with no financial input of her own. The share of the mortgage she’s paid is likely a lot less than if she’d been paying rent. So she’s winning all the way. But now wants to get more at the expense of my life savings. So all this went down just after I started my course and I was devastated. I couldn’t concentrate at all. Navigation exercises I can usually do in my sleep, I could think how to start. So I pulled out. Damn her to hell and gone.

However its in the hands of our lawyers now and I’m going to forget about it until I get home. On the plus side I got to spend more time with Mehrez, and with my lovely friend, Johan. Also caught up with a few other French friends and sailing buddies. And now here I am with my gorgeous girlfriend, Ruth. Happy days.

We had a day in Bangkok which was exciting. As with most semi 3rd world cities its everything crazy, the good and the bad! Busy, fun, exotic, filthy, all kinds of different and wonderful! Also the usual cheating, lies and rip offs, but you’ve just got to keep your witsabout you! We used tuktuks, taxis and river boats, had cocktails in a rooftop (almost!) bar, walked miles and photographed half a dozen awesome Buddhas. The food is a highlight for me, so delicious and healthy.

Then yesterday it was up at the ungodly hour of 0315 to get our early flights en route to Koh Phangan. A few false starts, cancelled ferries that had been paid for, and unhelpful tourist operators later, I arrived in this lovely resort and found Ruth, totally in need of a swim and a drink! That we accomplished in record time and to maximum effect! The cocktails are €1.80. OMG! C’est dangereuse! But what the hell, I’m on holiday. No alcohol today though. We’re diving tomorrow!

So that’s about it for now. Wish me luck diving. New adventures!

Fleeting Visits worth Gold!

Sunday 13th October

Can’t believe my two weeks off have flown already!

Other than a couple of lovely nights with Ruth, I spent my first week off Lucky Wave with Mehrez, mostly in Cabris or Trigance. Both villages are truly beautiful representatives of how you picture French villages, right down to the Chateau in Trigance!

Mehrez’s boss and friend, Jamel, and another friend, Joachim, joined us in Trigance. It’s Jamel’s house, actually, and they were renovating, so I did a spot of prep for my Yacht Masters Offshore while they were busy.

Jamel took me mushrooming one morning, a truly wonderful treat, walking through the magical forest at dawn, with the mist hanging in the valley, reminding us Autumn was wrapping her cool arms around us. Mehrez isn’t an early bird, unless necessary, though Jamel gave him a tong up in French about not spending quality time with me, lol! I didn’t mind. Y’all know I like my space. We got enough mushrooms for two big feeds!

I’m trying really hard with my French and the three guys were really encouraging, not the usual way with French. Most locals mock your efforts or pretend not to understand even though they must have some idea what you’re trying to say. Very different to us, we’ll help, encourage and forgive mistakes! Not the French!

Monday 7th rolled around and I was dancing with excitement to see Matt in Prague. I lost my glasses going through the airport, SO annoying. I can’t read a damned thing without them and it took till the following day to find a place that sold cheap readers. And they’re terrible! I have my prescription sunnies, but not so great at night! And it wasn’t particularly sunny in Prague!

WONDERFUL to see Matt. I miss my boys. We’ve been a tight unit a long time. And great to meet Meg. I’m fairly sure people underestimate her regularly! As they have me. Attractive and girly does not equal little substance, and she has plenty behind those pretty eyes! And life experience to make her appreciate the good stuff.

We did the touristy thing, seeing the amazing history and architecture that is Prague, a truly incredible city. It’s bumped New Orleans off my favourite city spot! On Friday night we went to Above & Beyond Group Therapy. It was beyond fantastic! Matt’s friends, Ben and Gorman were there too.

Back to reality now, in Antibes. My Yacht Masters Offshore course starts tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. But it is ‘school’ so….

Wish me luck!

LAST TWO DAYS…

Day 8

I almost didn’t write that heading in case I tempted fate! However the weather gods still love me! Its sooo calm and beautiful this morning.

Turns out it was the owner who abused us last night. The captain arrived this morning and calmed him down. He was a nice guy and we sorted the problem with a handshake containing €250! That should cover getting the tiny gel coat scratch fixed!

We’ve had a beautiful trip to Kefalonia today. What a stunning little port town. Its my first time here and I heartily recommend it. We tottered ashore for a drink and to check out restaurants. Then Paul RTB’d for a nap while I explored and did a spot of shopping!

We should make Athens tomorrow via the Corinth Canal. Flights home are booked for Friday. Paul shouted is dinner out which was nice too. Supplies are limited now!

DAY 9 – Kefalonia to Athens

We’ve had really perfect conditions today. The only wind has been up the chuff, so booted us along at 21 knots.

We’re through the Corinth Canal, always a groovy experience and on the home straight. We’re actually at a marina called Lavrion tonight. It’s quite a bit East of Athens city proper, but much closer to the airport. So about 2hrs to run.

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It’s been a good way to end the season. I’ve always liked doing the transits, so a delivery was the perfect finish for me! Thanks for the ride, Lucky Wave 😊🤘👋

LAST VOYAGE 2019 Continues

Monday 23rd September–Day 6

Yesterday was Mum’s birthday! Managed to ring her while the cell coverage was OK! We’ve actually got really good 4G WiFi on this ship, so it seldom drops right out. Can be a bit patchy way out to sea. Don’t ask me how it works. It just does! That’s all I need to know.Yesterday

was from Gaeta to Vibo. The log shows we did 170.4nm and took us 10hrs and 20 minutes. We averaged around 19.5 knots, but you have to remember the times include entry and exits from ports.We were blessed by the weather Gods again and fingers crossed that holds today, at least till late morning.

Today we go to Crotone, via the infamous Messina Straights. Anyone who has read Greek Mythology will be familiar with this place. Great books, and the whirlpools are every bit as incredible as depicted. Beware, indeed. Hooray for big diesel engines!It’s a similar distance to yesterday so another long day. I don’t mind them really. We do two hour tricks, resting in between, and in my case, doing food prep! But it’s nice scenery, peaceful, if you discount two big Mann engines roaring, and I get to read! In the congested areas we’ll both be on watch, like yesterday going between the islands around the Bay of a Naples (autocorrect wanted to put ‘nipples’ there!).

Vibo is a nice little port, a bit of a backwater and charming, everyone very friendly. The bar closed early though and we missed out by the time we’d washed down etc. So the liver had a rest last night. We refuelled on arrival so we could get away early today. Note to other boaties, the fuel dock is really high so set your fenders well up on the straking rail. And the marina fingers are low! But you’ll be stern to so that’s no issue! And the Italian water fittings are generally the really small screw on ones, not the male to male fittings like in France.

It’s just on 1000 and I’m on watch! I came in just as we entered the Straight of Messina, so Paul duel watched the first hour with me. There wasn’t much traffic today and the sea state is smooth, though some SSE fetch, exiting the Straight. The only thing to really look out for is fishing buoys! Those buggers are everywhere and hard to spot!

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For the land lubbers reading this, fetch is a swell that has been generated in another area and travelled to your location. It can make for quite uncomfortable sea conditions if mixed with a localised weather pattern. So, for example, later today the forecast is for 20 knot SW winds. If we’re still in this, it’ll be a bit rugged, making for a rather confused sea! I think we’ll be out of it though.The only blip on my horizon right now is the MY Quantum Blue, info courtesy of the AIS system! She’s 5nm away and going at 17 knots! CPA (closest point of approach) 0.32nm! Gotta love these navigation systems… makes a NavO’s life so easy.I particularly remember this ship as she was on a buoy near us when I was on Moonbeam last year, for about a week, in Villefranche. Fouche and I had a day worker sign on our starboard side and took the tender out looking for work! Quantum Blue crew were real fun to chat to and cool about us begging to come on board!

I came round on our waypoint not long ago, an easterly heading, so the sea running is almost on our beam. Lucky Wave is not liking it, wallowing like a pig in mud, and the waves barely touching the upper limits of a “slight ” sea (0.5 to 1.3m). The wind is starting to veer and pick up though, as predicted. Still, it’s only 2.5nm till the next waypoint and we will be heading NNE so should be more comfortable with a stern sea.

It’s 1300 now and I’m over an hour into my break, if it can be called that, since I’ve made wraps for lunch and cleaned up, plus relieved Paul for a loo break. I can do a 2 hrs trick without needing relieving, but he has a woolworths bladder! Also I did a 3 hour trick on the last one because the captain slept through the watch change! Didn’t really mind. The conning chairs are super comfy and a good spot to be!

As I thought we left the fetch behind and just have the predicted SW behind us. It’s a nice ride, though you might think not, with the compass swinging through 10 degrees of helm and the speed surfing between 16 and 23 knots! I like it! We’ve probably got about 3hrs 20 mins left to go. In time to bunker, hopefully.

Here’s a laugh. Paul’s always admonishing me for tempting the Weather God’s wrath by complimenting the conditions! But this afternoon he commented the sea had calmed down and I swear the words barely left his mouth and the sea state worsened considerably! My theory is that they love my dulcet tones – after all, the Kiwi accent was voted sexiest in the world this year!

1530. I’m on watch for another 15 minutes which will take us to our second last waypoint.

Off now, so I can play with my phone again! I like the slow – mo mode for the wake!

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DAY 7 – Crotone to Gouvia, Corfu.

My alarm woke me this morning at 0600, a rare event (mainly coz I was awake from 0200 to 0400) and I couldn’t turn it off because my arm was dead! Thanks to the rock like battery cage I sleep in!

We got under way by 0645 and are now an hour and a half into my watch. The wind is backing (changing anticlockwise) and the sea is a bit confused at present. I reckon we’ve got another hour or two of these conditions before the predicted bad weather arrives. Fun times!It’s Paul’s watch now and I’m enjoying the wilder ride today. We had an interesting little crossing of wills with a big cargo ship just at change over. She was approaching us fine on our port bow, almost head on. Colregs (rule of the road) state that in a head on situation both ships shall alter to starboard and pass port to port. They also state that the ship which can see the port side of the other vessel is the give way vessel. In either of those interpretations, the cargo ship should have altered to starboard to give way to us. Given it was almost head on and the sea was moderate, I helped by going 15 degrees to stbd also. We both had AIS, so could see what each other was doing. With TCPA (time to closest point of approach) only 9 minutes away, she still hadn’t altered. I put another 5 degrees to stbd on. She still didn’t alter and I wasn’t happy with the CPA. Colregs also say that notwithstanding the previous rules, the stand on vessel still must take reasonable steps to prevent collision. Realising the cargo ship had zero intention of altering course as she should, I came 20 degrees to stbd to pass astern of her. It put us in horrible sea on our port bow but was the best option in the end. It’s no surprise really. A lot of these huge vessels think they can ignore Colregs and apply ‘might has right’, even with a ton of sea room to manoeuvre.

I really want to go outside and play with my slow-mo but it’s not safe out there! 😔.Guess I’ll have to do it from inside!

The rest of the trip was uneventful. The only challenge was putting Lucky Wave in the skinny berth we got here in windy conditions. I can’t talk to Paul on the radio, handle fenders and get lines on all at the same time. The mate on the neighbouring ship helped, bless him. But we still hit both other vessels. Hard not to. One captain was ok about it, the other a total A hole. I told him to take a fucking chill pill. Hasn’t he ever been in rough weather? Idiot. Talk about holier than thou!

Two more days! 😜 Then 🍸🍾🎈🌎

LAST VOYAGE THIS SEASON

Wednesday 18th September 2019

On Monday afternoon we were informed the boat is going to Athens for the Winter or until sold. Paul and I were a little dismayed at this last minute change of plan, as we’d packed up almost everything on board for winter storage. So we’re travelling light!

It should take us eight days (weather permitting as always) and we have an extra day in Rome, to get the fuel filters changed. Paul’s flying straight home to the UK after this transit. I’ve asked that I fly back to Nice via Venice, to see my cousin for a couple of days. I don’t know if they’ll do that for me or not, yet. I checked out the price and it was pretty cheap, so fingers crossed.

Ruth has been away with work, so I’ve left most of my gear with a French guy I’ve been hanging out with, Mehrez Saadouni. He’s Tunisian originally and a very sweet natured person. He only speaks French so it’s been good for me! I’m improving!

Matt is en route to Europe and I’m flying to Prague to have a week with him on October 7th. I can’t wait to see him. Seems so long!

It’s been a good season. Our owners have been lovely to work for and it’s nice to be asked back next year. Paul and I have worked well together on the whole. There was an odd patch in the middle, I think with the crew change, as our new cook had a bit of an odd mind set. She seemed to think because she’s a school teacher, she’s way smarter than the rest of us, and we were beneath her somehow. I tried really hard to gel with her, helped her lots, took her out for dinner, picked up the slack when she was really crook with PMTs, and covered a whole day when she was too hung over to move! But it was a one way street and I kind of gave up in the end, was pleasant, did my job and made sure Paul was OK. He’s a kind hearted person and good to the crew, so didn’t deserve her contempt. Anyway, she’s gone, and it’s just the two of us doing this last trip. Rather nice.

So… DAY 1!

Antibes to Macinaggio – Exited Port Vauban at 1130 and set a course of 110 degrees at 19 knots. Wind force 3 and sea state Moderate initially, but an hour into the trip we found calm seas.

I took watch at 1230, for my 2 hour trick. Very little traffic. I did see a turtle! Second trick from 1630 and arrived around 1800. Perfect conditions for our first day. Had a couple of wee wines ashore before pies for dinner.

Macinaggio is a gorgeous port town at the top of Corsica. We’re probably as big as you can be in terms of berthing here. Most boats are sail and Lucky Wave dwarfs the ones here at the moment!

DAY 2 – 19.9.19

Macinaggio to Rome.

The weather forecast is not bad, in fact very good until about 4pm. We have to refuel so probably won’t get away till about 0930. NNE 0-10 knots, turning NNW 15-20 kn at 1600. Its about an 8 hour day so we’ll nearly be there, all going well, by the time the wind gets up.

I got up early to do some food prep. Its easier than at 20 knots!

We got away at 0915 having taken on 4500l diesel. So we’re now carrying 7 tons of fuel around. Poor Lucky Wave! Some big land generated cumulonimbus are piling up behind us but we should leave them behind.

I’ve decided there’s something about the fuel guys in this part of the world. Amy and I couldn’t help noticing on the way to Cyprus and back! Hot damn but they’re a good looking bunch! Window shopping, gals, is all! Paul and I agreed to not judge each other for enjoying the views!

I’m writing some of this as we go and some of it retrospectively, so forgive the changing tenses!

I took the watch at 1015, about an hour after departure. Paul said he was tired so I’m on for the next couple of hours. Got the sea to ourselves! Nothing on radar within a 4nm radius. La mer est très belle aujourd’hui 😊❤️

Treat of the first watch was dolphins. They really are special. The only other excitement (hardly) was giving way momentarily to a big container ship!More dolphins on Paul’s watch, just after I’d made our lunch (wraps)! They put on a really good display in our wake. Then I had the 1415 to 1615 watch.

About 1530 the forecast wind started to get up. The fetch was SSE and the wind ESE, so potentially not particularly comfortable! But it didn’t come to much so can’t complain. We arrived about 1700, berthed, washed the boat a bit and cooked dinner. Wrapped up now – 2000 – and I reckon we won’t be long out of bed!

DAY 3 in ROME

Really nice day. We both got up when we were ready. The guys who came to work on the boat arrived in good time and it was all done before lunch.

We could’ve pushed on to Gaeta but decided not to. I did some work for my YM, quite a lot, actually! Went for a walk and yarned to Matt in fb messenger. Paul and I popped out for a bevvie before dinner. Then he went off to watch a movie in bed and I did some food prep for the next couple of days. Its so much easier to do stern to, than at 20 knots! Finished about 8pm and Mehrez rang to catch up.

This port is really quite big with a serious ship yard, but the support services are almost non existent. The potential is huge but certainly not realised. There could be regatta sailing here, shops in the beautiful old buildings, restaurants, so much. But there’s nothing! Even the beach is nice!

Refueling in the morning, then 6 hours to Gaeta. Bon nuit 😊

DAY 4 – ROME to GAETA

We got away later than we’d hoped as the refueling dock didn’t open until 0930. Southern European work ethic in practice! So eventually got under way at 1105, having topped the tanks! Again blessed with a good run and fair weather. Made excellent time and arrived in Gaeta around 1630, in time to refuel again. The fuel dock guys told us to stay on their dock for the night, so that’s less effort!

We decided that since we have 3 big days ahead of us we’d go ashore for a meal. I wanted to explore a bit so we walked to the old town and back, before settling into a place Paul’s friend told him he must visit! It’s called Rendezvous and I’ve never been to a bar /restaurant that had every single available seat booked out! There was reserved labels everywhere! However we parked in one that said it wasn’t booked until 9pm, and no one seemed to mind. After a couple of wines, peanuts, Olives, pestachios and crisps, we decided we didn’t need dinner!

I came straight to bed and have had a chat with Mehrez. Sleep now! And I think I’ll post this. Its getting long!

One Month to go!

The Summer has flown, not that the temperatures are easing up, thankfully. Its still usually around the 30 degrees mark most days. The nights are a little cooler, though, which we do appreciate. But this season does seem to have gone by very quickly.

I’ve just booked flights to join Matt in Prague, once he begins his travels in ernest! I have a couple of weeks off in early October before my yacht masters course and so will join him for the second week. I’m so looking forward to that, as who knows when I’ll see him again!

Yacht life has been fairly quiet. Our owners haven’t used her much so my days are just maintenance, on the whole! The ship next door, thanks to her ghastly owner /captain, has yet another deckie. This time a totally lovely young Montenegran, Oto. To be fair, he’s so much more than a deckie, a very smart, educated guy who has the brains to use this as paid accommodation really! Till the end of the season. We manage our time beautifully, with nicely spaced rest periods, sitting in the shade, talking about anything and everything. He reminds me a lot of my boys and we’ve become fast friends. I planned on a group video call with my guys last weekend, before Matt left, so they could all meet, but sadly, Oto’s Dad passed away last Friday, on Oto’s birthday. My heart broke for him. And his two brothers. So we’ll save that for another time.

It’s the Cannes Yacht Show next week, so all resident boats are being kicked out of Port Canto. Our management team, for whatever reason, don’t appear to have got this eventuality covered, so we’re having to go to San Remo. After that who knows! Still, it’ll be nice to actually move! I’ll miss my new friends though!

After my YM Offshore course, I’m flying to Thailand. Happily, Ruth and Orges are coming too. I’ve booked the first week on Koh Phangan and I think we’re considering Krabi for the 2nd week. Will possibly play it by ear.

I’m going out for dinner tonight with Max, again. It’s hard to organise as he’s so busy. He’s a free lance Captain based here, so a very experienced skipper and great company. I say this with my fingers and toes crossed, because it’s dependent on guests finishing at a sensible hour! There’s a great little bar /restaurant in the port, with awesome staff, so if he gets waylaid, I won’t starve /dry out!

I visited with Ruth last weekend. It was marvelous to get into the hills, see some greenery and escape the boat for 36 hours! I went via Mandelieu de Napoule, which I am totally enamoured of. Am adorable place. Will return!

We also had a brief visit to the shipyard in Antibes. The hydraulics operating the swim deck sprung an oil leak. Got the undercarriage cleaned as well.

Other than that, not much to report. Some beautiful sunsets, as there often is over Cannes!

A bien tot!

A Deckhand’s Day!

It occurred to me last night when I couldn’t sleep that I could do a post describing a little more fully what I do each day and week!

I mean, you could be forgiven for thinking that a deckie’s life revolves round sun and wine! Certainly the sun has an influence. Access to the latter is a bonus by no means allowed on all yachts! But I’m lucky in as much as my captain this year is pretty relaxed as long as the work is done and we’re capable of doing our job. I’m not much of a night owl in general so it’s no trouble for me! I get up early, knock out the work, then chill.

So this is a list, by no means exhaustive, that I keep in my phone. I do these things on a daily or weekly basis.

As you can imagine the stress levels are WAY down compared to nursing! Straight forward jobs, great view, nice weather. Not bad at all!

Of course, when the Boss and his family is on board it’s full on and long hours. But they’re really lovely and actually don’t use the boat that much.

In case you noticed the few interior memos thrown in there, I’m a deckhand but our cook /stewardess is not a good time manager. So I do most of that too. I really don’t know what she does with her time. It seems to take her all day to do (sometimes) two meals, usually only one as we have lunch leftovers for dinner. And do a wee bit of dusting occasionally. The only time she does proper stewardess stuff is the day after a Boss trip, when there’s usually enough food left over to feed an army, so she has to clean all the cabins. Even then if it involves making beds, I end up redoing them! Without her knowing! She doesn’t have the eye for detail.

She’s a teacher but I’m buggered if I know how she kept up. It takes her hours to meal plan alone. I did that while running up and down corridors getting theatre equipment, in my head, then shopped on the way home and did 3 meals each day for 3 people and anyone who turned up. Plus homework, animals etc etc. So a childless teacher should be able to cope with this light job. But apparently not.

Anyway, rant over.

Port Pierre Canto, where we’re based, is a nice port, though a wee way from Cannes Central. It takes half an hour to walk to the train station or the old town where most of the bars and restaurants are. The bus is good. €1.50 each way. Our berth is in a top spot. We berth stern to the dock, so our view is over Cannes Bay and city. Perfect for the fire works! It’s a small skip over the sea wall to go snorkeling after work and cool off. The crew on the neighbouring ships are good value and I often get together with them after work. The cook goes off with her “beau”, as she calls her South African sailor bf. Cute?!

Today I learned how to change the filters in the water maker. Very easy. Easier than the system we had in Darfield! Seawater gets turned into drinking water through osmosis. Saves me stressing about getting the tanks filled when we’re anchoring.

This is a pic of the local constabulary going about their business. Some of you have seen this, but yes, they really do wear thong bikinis and budgies! In fact the guys usually don’t bother with a T shirt either. Rather too much information, often! You only know they’re cops coz of the tender they’re in!

We had a decent storm over the weekend. It was meant to be days off for us and both the others had gone ashore. So I was on board alone. This meant that when the wind got up I was here to put the springs on, when the power cut, it was up to me to sort that out! So my days off were peppered with boat jobs! Not to mention a bloody shite hawk (seagull) majorly pooped on my clean deck.

But it was a nice relaxing weekend. And I rather like thunder and lightening storms. I sat up here on the fly deck watching until the wind started driving the rain in.

I miss everyone at the moment. Maybe because my boys are so close and yet so far! In Athens!

3+ months on Lucky Wave

The season is flying by! Only two months to go and I’ll be staring at the reality of my Yacht Masters Offshore course! I’ve started the online component, which I must say is pretty easy, and have averaged 98.85% after 7 modules/tests. So this part of it isn’t causing me much stress. I have this weekend off so will do some more.

Fireworks season has got under way since I last blogged, beginning with the Bastille Day celebrations. Stunning display.

The fly bridge is a marvelous place to watch from, wine in hand naturally.

We did a day trip to Beaulieu sur Mer, anchoring and playing with the toys. Fun for me as well as the family! We had 5 adults and 4 kids on board, also for our next trip, to St Tropez overnight. They loved it and both trips counted as successful missions! They had dinner ashore in St Tropez so I did two evening runs in the tender to pick them up. No problems. There’s literally hundreds of vessels anchored outside the port entrance at St Tropez. One of the kids asked how I could find the ship in the dark, so I explained about taking a bearing going into port and reversing it going out! He’s a great lad, full of questions and interested in how we run the boat.

I’ve got to know one of the local freelance captains, Max, and we went out for dinner earlier this week. Good company and great to converse freely with a Frenchman with a global view! He taught me a lot about the politics of France, their medical system and why their attitudes differ so much to the rest of Europe. It was a fantastic evening out.

I’ve got to know the health system a bit for myself the last 10 days! As you know I hurt my nose a couple of months ago. It hasn’t healed properly so I invoked the ship’s insurance policy and trotted of to the doctor. An x-ray, CT scan and specialist visit later, I now know I broke it in two places and the left side is so messed up the ORL doc couldn’t get a scope up it.

He got out this gorgeous wee scope and I went “oooh, nice scope”. My theatre nurse friends will understand my appreciation. He laughed and said “I don’t usually get that response when I bring this out! It’s usually apprehensive fear”. So I had to explain I’m not JUST a sailor!

Anyway he’s given me four different revolting substances to shove or spray up my nostrils and wants to see how it settles in two months. Suits me. I’m too busy now to have surgical intervention. How compliant I am with his goop remains to be seen. I’ve been good so far but it’s only day 2!

There are truly enormous sea gulls here. We call them shite hawks because they make a hell of a mess on our shiny boats! One has just decorated my foredeck – on my day off, the bastard. So I can’t resist cleaning that off. Why can’t they perch on the perfectly good trees everywhere? At least it isn’t as hot to work outside today. It’s only about 28 I think. Yesterday was 36 with 70% humidity.

Over and out till next time!

Les Iles de Lerins

I’m currently basking in the glow of getting two days off in a row. First time since joining Lucky Wave.

I booked myself an Airbnb for the two nights, intent on being able to starfish in a big bed. Alone. Without getting woken up during the night, either by inconsiderate crew or banging my knees and elbows on the bulkhead or deckhead! (Yes, my bed is that small!)

Blissful barely begins to describe going to bed at 8pm and sleeping till I want, taking coffee back to bed and reading till 10am! And being able to ring and chat to everyone without watching my language!

That’s really about all I’ve done. Lazy in the extreme. I have a small excuse I’m going to chuck out there! I think my nose is not right after my argument with the door in Cyprus. Its not healing up totally and I think I may have a bit of infection. Tossing up whether or not to use my antibiotics. You know, be a good nurse and self diagnose/treat instead of sensibly trotting to the GP!

Anyway, I digress. I’ve limited myself to one bottle of wine a day. Half on the beach and half in the evening. Such a struggle. I really hope my liver appreciates this effort. And healthy food.

Tapenade counts, right?!

I also decided to visit the islands that are here in the Bay of Cannes, which we takes guests to all the time but never set foot on. The two main ones are the Ile St. Marguerite and the Ile St Honorat. Both have incredible history, dating from before Christ. (There’s another debate! Why we date our centuries based on one bloke who may or may not have existed! Maybe I shouldn’t go there!) Anyway I got the ferry to the former and spent a few hours exploring. Along with half of Cannes! It’s a popular spot, because history aside, there’s a big pine forest and lots of picnic spots, so a very lovely place to go.

I got my ticket (€6) into the Fort and trotted off. As I said the earliest parts date to a few years BC and AC, there’s a strong Roman history, and then various arguments between France and Spain, until the most popularised history of the “man in the Iron mask” during the reign of Louis XIVth.

The museum was very interesting and well done. The cells where they kept high profile prisoners, including the elusive unnamed man, were surprisingly large but very secure! The bars on the windows were made of three offset sets, so you couldn’t throw anything through them. Never mind get out!

A lot of the art and depictions have been done by school students. They were thoughtfully portrayed and imaginative. The scientific part was good but did sneak into the subjective when covering theories of the identity of the Man in the iron mask!

All in all, it was a good experience and one I’d recommend. After doing the touristy thing in 30+ degrees of humid heat, I headed for the beach and a swim.

Later my French teacher/friend, Aly, joined me for a wee while before he went to work. We practised each others languages. I think he gets more laughs out of my attempts! But, hey, at least I try. Captain Paul’s been here donkeys years and has almost no French, plus the most excruciating accent. Doesn’t even try! Aly says my pronunciation is pretty good, so propos to my St Mag’s French teacher! What was her name? Mrs Scannell? Scary MF, she was!

So here I am, reflecting on my months in France this year. Pretty good really. Life’s not bad! Typical Kiwi understatement. Wish Matt and Danny could get here. Doesn’t look like I’ll get to Athens, sadly. Nature of the industry. But I reckon we might have to plan a sailing trip together. Round Corsica. Yep!

Day Off – Hooray!

It’s July 5th and I’ve been in Europe for over 3 months now. Well, not technically “in Europe” but on this side of the world and gainfully earning my keep again!

We’re now based in Port Canto, Cannes, as I was last year, and have a few Boss trips under our belt. That means the owner and his family has been out with us. They’re lovely, a rarity in this business really. So I’m very grateful. Such nice people and seem to truly appreciate that we try to give them a great experience on their new boat. Makes a lot of other minor irritations fade away.

We’ve done a couple of day trips and one to Italy, with another longer Italian trip planned this coming week. The weather forecast is a little inclement, not enough to put the average Kiwi off, but defs enough to scare my captain. I think I’ve mentioned his abilities before so I won’t digress! I’m learning to live with that. Yes, boys, my patience is getting a work out. And my fellow Kiwi and cook on board has less than me. I count that a win for me!

Jo joined us after Amy quit, unable to tolerate the situation on board, and having been offered her old job. Can’t say I blame her. If I had something better to go to I would too. But I’m realistic. Nurse jobs are few and far between and most captains put me in the stewardess box, sooo not me. I’m happy on deck, albeit for less money than I deserve, haha!

Jo is an ex school teacher. Intermediate and high school science, so another smart girl driven away from her NZ profession by stupid beaurocracy (I think my French and English are merging right now!) and red tape, with the actual job coming second.

My French is doing better. At least this year, people seem to understand me and help me try. I’ve also made a French friend, a local, who’s making me only use French with him. Eventually that will help, I’m sure! He only lets me off when I’m obviously bursting with frustration!

I’ve caught up with lots of friends, had some great time outs with Ruth and made the most of my few days off!

Today I’ve been organising my leave for doing my yacht masters and diving courses. Fingers crossed it’ll all work out.

Meantime, trucking on! Loving the Summer!

5 HOURS TO ANTIBES!

It’s hard to believe our trip to Cyprus is nearly over. St. Brendan and the Greek weather gods have blessed us truly! We’ve had incredibly good weather the whole trip with only one day on a moderate sea.

Last night we stopped in Macinaggio at the top of Corsica. What a stunning wee port town. It was delightful. Amy and I went for a walk and found a smoke grill pizza place, persuading Paul to have dinner there instead of on the ship! So she didn’t have to cook and we had a lovely relaxed evening.

The pizzas were huge and I managed, disgracefully, to eat all of mine without help! We all did. So much for keeping some for lunch today, lol.

I think it would be super awesome to hire a yacht and spend a Summer sailing round Corsica. You boys up for that next year?! Might have to do some research.

We’re having a few days in Antibes to fit out the ship for our owners arrival early next month. There’s so much still to get since we didn’t achieve much in Cyprus, in spite of being told that was where we’d be stocked up. It’s been quite disorganised really. Hopefully we’ll get day workers to help but I’m not holding my breath!

I’m hoping once we’ve got everything in order and have settled in Port Canto, the day to day on board experience will be much better, more relaxed. To date the culture has been nothing like the easy going boat to work on that we were promised! Both Amy and I feel like we have slave branded on our foreheads! The captain is SO messy and we’re constantly picking up after him. It’s really not our job. I asked him one day if he’d got too used to his mother and wife doing it! He didn’t get the hint! He’s a nice person but not the easiest crewmate!

The monitoring VHF radio stations are interesting along this coast. Marine language is supposed to be English. Everyone except the French honour this, making announcements first in English, then in their own language. But the French omit the English, lol! So if you don’t understand them, tough, you don’t know which channel to change to to hear weather warnings etc! Good job I understand!

We have tomorrow off, the first day off since driving to Italy to join the ship on April 23rd. Can’t wait. Plan to do nothing, except catch up with Ruth and Jean – Luc.

Lucky Wave

May has arrived already, which means I’ve been in Europe for a month! How time flies. We are at Rhodes Island, in Greece now, so I’ve been on board for nearly 2 weeks.Paul and I drove in a rental car to join the ship in Fano, Italy. I was a bit nervous about driving in Italy as my memories weren’t complimentary to Italian driving, but I ended up enjoying it! The motorways are good and no one takes the least notice of the speed limits! We drove between 120 and 157kmph most of the time!Our first night was in a hotel but after that, on the boat. Amy was already there and we get on really well, which is great, partners in wine crime!The boat yard did not have boat ready yet so we didn’t leave till Saturday 27th, not helped by it being public holidays on both Tuesday and Thursday that week. We did sea trials finally and she was handed over to us, still not ready in my eyes but Paul accepted it. The compass has not been swung, we have no radios to use on deck, he doesn’t know how to use the Raymarine navigation system, no EPIRB, and almost zero equipment. Any and I did a huge supermarket shop in Fano’s inadequate supermarket, trying to at least get basics like a frying pan and knives for her to cook with.We’ve put in some long days but not too hard really. I’ve done most of the Nav planning and watch keeping. I’m actually not that confident in the captain’s ability. He’s made some very odd navigation decisions and at times hasn’t been able to make a decision. I’ve made it. Even Amy said she doesn’t feel comfortable when he’s on the bridge alone. I’m acting as first officer and getting paid as a lowly deckie, lol!Paul also tends to panic over little things and only give negative feedback, but he’s not horrible about it, so I’m reserving judgement. Hopefully once our stores are complete and everyone’s got to know the boat better, it’ll all settle down. I do think there’s potential for this to be a good team without drama. She’s certainly a nice vessel to work on from my point of view, much easier to clean and run than last year’s vessel! Thank god for a decent anchor system too!So, to date we’ve done day runs from Fano to Termoli, Termoli to Brindisi, then across to Lefkas, a looong day to Athens via the Corinth Canal, then Naxos and finally to Rhodes Island, where we are now. I’ve really enjoyed it. This place is beautiful and the Greek and Italian dockies are so friendly and helpful. Rhodes Island has more than its share of hot guys too, just saying!Amy and I have jumped ashore for a short walk most nights to see a bit of the towns we’re in. After the boats refuelled, watered and washed down, of course!

CYPRUS

Today’s Wednesday 15th May and we’re 3.5 hours into a 15 hour transit from Cyprus to Rhodes again, having left at 0500! We’re missing out Kas Marina in Turkey where we had a night en route to Limassol. That was one of the more beautiful marinas I’ve seen and everyone there was super friendly and helpful. The agent for our team showed up with local food which was awesome. Amy and I found decent local wine and live music of course! So we’re quite sad to miss this stop on the way back!We arrived in Limassol, Cyprus, on the 4th so have had 10 days there. Its been very busy with guys on board almost every day, trying to sort out the ship’s dodgy electrics, amongst other things. Not altogether successfully! We still can’t use more than one appliance at a time.The Boat Show was from the 9th to the 12th inclusive. We worked our butts off and had the ship looking grand. She was the star of the show for Azimut and I think Marios, our lead agent, was very happy with us. He saw how much effort and commitment Amy and I put in. I don’t think it escaped his notice how often Paul was MIA either. Nor the workmen. They seemed very supportive of us girls. Even the guys on the ship next to us called out to Paul yesterday “Captain, why do you work your deckhand too hard? Slowly slowly!” I had to keep my chuckles to myself! But it cheered me up.In general we are working ok together. I think the stress of setting up the new boat and the show have told on the skipper but he’s certainly not trying to upset us, so I feel it will calm down once we’re organised and in France. Amy and I continue to do well together, the only problem for us being, she needs me to help her with the interior and Paul doesn’t even have it on his radar, hogging me 100% for deck. So she’s frustrated at trying to do both the cooking and the interior alone, and I feel bad not being there for her! Not to mention she has barely been able to get in the galley with workmen in there most days. I really hope she doesn’t get so pissed off she leaves coz I’d miss her company. She’s bloody good at this job, all of it.I didn’t get much chance to get ashore and explore unfortunately. Not that that’s unusual. We are, after all, working! But the little forays I did manage promised an interesting and diverse culture I’d like a chance to see more of sometime. The local church is rich and beautifully bestowed. Good local wine in friendly wee cafés were a favourite with us girls. We also indulged in a massage to ease the achy unfit muscles, not long after arriving! That lack of fitness is already a thing of the past. I’m used to the work now and enjoying it, as ever.One thing I’ve noticed again is the lack of marine life. We seen dolphins twice our whole time on board so far. Nothing else other than heaps of mullet. Seems very sad. Though perhaps more disheartening is the volume of plastic we see floating in the sea. It’s no exaggeration those photos you see in the media. The sea is such a gorgeous clear blue this side of the Mediterranean, and here we are spoiling such a wonderful environment.Well, its now 1600 so we’ve been going 10.5 hours. Amy did a delicious brunch of bacon, eggs, tomatoes and avocado for the two of us, and similar sans avo but plus baked beans for Paul. He’s a very traditional British food kind of guy, while we ladies love salads and more exotic fare! I’m back on watch. Paul and I do two hours about. Had a very smooth crossing so far, with the sea state only just starting to chop up a bit now. I’m watching a massive ship pass down our port side about 3nm off, with what looks like an equally big vessel rafted alongside her. Interesting.

2123 – stern to in Mandraki Marina, Rhodes Island

Mediterranean Season no.2!

You might think leaving the country on April Fool’s day could be a dodgy proposition, but I had a really good flight from Auckland to Nice, via Melbourne and Dubai.I arrived to a chilly 9 degrees in the mid afternoon, a rude shock, having left Ohope still on temperatures around 20, even at night. Got the bus to Antibes and luckily Paul’s friend turned up with the apartment key soon after I arrived.I didn’t suffer too much from the old jet lag and had a fun few days catching up with friends. I had dinner with Ruth and Orges which was grand. So good to see them and hear all their news, especially their diving trip to Bali. Sounded marvelous. Fouche and I tried to get a night in Nice, in an Airbnb, to catch up after so long. But he got as far as the train station in Monaco, only to be called back to his ship by his boss, to baby sit the dog. We were fairly pissed off! Most Kiwis right now are going “WTF? Baby sit a dog? For 3 hours?” Yeah, well, we felt that too! By the time he was released from precious pooch duty the last train had gone, so that plan failed, lol. The joys of being a sailor for the rich!He’s done super well, having been promoted from deck /engineer to mate /engineer, so I’m really happy for him. But with that comes the extra responsibility, of course.Paul arrived back from the UK on the Friday after I arrived here. Great to meet him in person at last. I’m really looking forward to the season, working with him and Amy, our chef /stew. That’s all definite now and we’ve been shopping for the boat, getting uniform, medical kit etc etc. She’s a brand new Azumit Grande 25 called Lucky Wave, if you feel like googling it! It’s a private vessel so no chartering, which I’m quite happy about.Wren arrived here on Friday last, so we caught up over lunch and I’ve sent her CV off to a captain Paul knows. Fingers crossed for her.I had said to Fouche on Wednesday “what’s the chance of you getting a weekend off?” with zero expectation, but he did! So we hired a car, an Airbnb in Grasse and took off exploring for the weekend. Its been a nice chilled catch up, though I suspect he wishes it was a week, not a weekend! There’s an amazing old cathedral with parts of it dating to the 13th century. Very awesome. I finally have driven a left hand car on the wrong side of the road! Didn’t crash, though I got teased a couple of times!Back in Antibes now and this week we’ll likely head to Italy to join the boat. Then it’s off to Cyprus for a month or so. I’m really looking forward to it. Paul and I have been doing the passage planning, which I enjoy.So that’s all I’ve been up to! Not a bad start to the season over here. I just hope it warms up soon!