R Factor Journal 2006

January 10th, 2006

We are still in Abemama.  We will be here another few days before going back to Tarawa to get our travel visa before heading on to Canton. 

Our generator still is not working and apparently will not be working until we get to Hawaii and have a Northern Lights dealer check it out.  No one seems to know what is wrong.  We have talked with Vector Yacht Services and with Northern Lights.  I am VERY disappointed that it is not working.  Actually, I don't think disappointed is the right word.  I am down right angry!!!!!!  This means that we have to run our engine most of the day in order to keep our batteries charged.  We cannot use our 20gallon/hour water maker.  We are now using a 4gallon/hour water maker.  Quite a difference.  This means we are constantly on a water ration.  Limited showers and laundry.  This is difficult with a family of five, two of which are teenagers.  We have now moved on to fixing our windless.  Hopefully this will end better than the water maker with a fully functioning windless.  Oh yeah, tonight when I went to start dinner the stove wouldn't work.  Bruce thinks there is something wrong with the propane solenoid or possibly something electrical.  All I know is that I couldn't use the stove or oven.  Another thing to add to our "to do" list.  Good thing none of the items are critical!  I mean, who needs to cook food, who needs fresh water, who needs a functioning windless......WE DO!!!!!!!

January 17th, 2006

We have arrived back in Tarawa in order to get our travel visas extended so that we may stop at Canton, Christmas Island and Fanning Island.  This was quite an ordeal.  It took approximately three hours in a very very hot office while the "officials" decided who was going to do our paperwork.  A mere $300.00 later we were on our way with our new visas.  Our next item was to arrange fuel for our boat.  We went to the bulk fuel company and arranged to get our fuel (1400L) for Monday, January 23.  Bruce went into shore on Monday morning to make sure all was a go and found out that there was no fuel.  Not a drop to be found on the entire island.  Fortunately the fuel ship was on its way and arrived on Tuesday, January 24.  It takes two days for the fuel to get to the fuel station from the ship.  We hopefully will be able to get our fuel on Friday.  If all goes as planned we will be able to leave on Saturday morning.  While in Tarawa we have done.....nothing!  There is not a lot to do in Tarawa.  They are not big on tourism.  The expression "ends of the earth" was made to describe this island.  It is dirty, and somewhat smells bad...use your own imagination - garbage, rotting food, decaying animals, and of course, the always pleasant smell of sewage as there are no facilities ie sewer system.  The kids have pretty much refused to get off the boat.  I can't say as I blame them.  I myself am able to only go ashore for a few hours since bathroom facilities are none existent, or should I say definitely not up to Canadian standards.  On the plus side, I have been able to provision fairly well which was a pleasant surprise.  I was able to buy Coca Cola (a necessity on our boat) and of course tomatoes (5 small somewhat fresh for a mere $8.00), carrots (6 small somewhat fresh for a mere $3.00), and one small but fairly decent head of lettuce (for the bargain price of $5.00).  We have not been doing much home schooling since the anchorage has been quite rough (30knots of wind blowing in an exposed anchorage).  The children are very happy about this!  Just an update - generator still not working and will not be working until we get to Hawaii where we can find a Northern Lights dealer, stove/oven is working, windlass is also working.  We're on a roll!!!

January 27th, 2006

The authorities have finally released the fuel and we were able to get our fuel today.  Nothing is ever easy and this was no exception.  We were told to be at the dock at 3:00 pm.  We pulled up anchor at around 2:15.  Just as we started the wind, which had been at a pleasant 15 knots gusted up to and remained at a mere 30 knots.  We made it to the fuel dock and waited patiently for our fuel to arrive.  At 4:30 there was still no sign of the fuel truck.  I then walked to the fuel depot, a mere mile in the scorching heat with the smell of sewage all around, only to arrive and find out they had closed for the day.  I found someone to help me who assured me that the fuel truck was on its way.  I then walked back to the boat and waited.  One hour later when the fuel truck still had not arrived I repeated the above process.  I was reassured, once again, that the fuel truck was indeed on its way.  I walked back to the boat a little concerned as the tide was now going down as was the sun.  About an hour later the fuel truck arrived.  The hose on the fuel truck was to large for our tank but we fortunately had a baja filter which allowed us to use it as a funnel.  It took over 2 hours to get our fuel.  Meanwhile, it was dark and when finished our depth sounder read 6'7".  We draw 6'5".  A little to close for comfort for me.  The whole time we are waiting for fuel and getting our fuel there was about 20 people watching us.  It was such an event that people had brought beer and chairs.  I guess they knew we would be awhile and that they might as well be comfortable.  Now that we had our fuel we had the task of re-anchoring in the dark in this not so great anchorage.  The winds were still 30 knots.  We finally managed to get re-anchored.

On the day before we left for Canton we went into town and met a man from the Taiwan Embassy.  He took us to a Demonstration Farm which the Taiwan government was trying to show the people of Tarawa that they could grow fruit and vegetables and eat a more healthy way.  It was amazing to see all the produce that was being grown on this desert island.  They loaded us up with so many fruits and vegetables that I couldn't believe my eyes.  On our passage to Canton it was certainly nice to have all these fresh fruits and vegetables since they are non-existent in Kiribiti. 

Looks like any other derelict vessel

This is the inter island ferry and cargo ship - scary. They put many people on board with no accommodations except the deck to sleep and cook. If it rains you get wet, if it's rough and water sprays over the deck you get wet, but if you are seasick you are close to the railing if needed.

We went to the Taiwan demonstration farm and Linda was very happy to get some fresh vegetables

January 29, 2006

We left Tarawa today, finally.  It is good to get going as we are all excited about Canton.  Just prior to leaving I noticed some oil leaking out the back of the boat.  "All boats leak a little oil - it's nothing to worry about" said the captain.  Famous last words.  Three days out our boat started leaking even more oil.  We had a faulty oil cooler.  I know what you are thinking - you're a sailboat, you don't need your engine, just sail to Canton.  For those of you who are not sailing savvy Canton is 900 miles southeast directly against the trade winds.  If we were to make it to Canton we would at some point need our engine.  The winds and current were not cooperating with us.  Finally, Bruce figured a way of by-passing the oil cooler and we were able to run our engine albeit at lower revs and for shorter amounts of time.  Just when we thought things couldn't get worse our 12V water maker stopped working.  This was our back-up water maker.  Our 110V water maker would overheat the inverter allowing us to make only 5 gallons of water per session.  Seventeen days later we arrived in Canton having sailed 1300 miles to get to Canton. This was a particularly hard trip as we not only had to sail against the trade winds but also against a very strong current. The current around Tarawa was about 4 knots making progress slow even when the winds were good.

February 14th, 2006

We arrived in Canton today after a long and somewhat difficult trip.  Besides our oil cooler and water maker breaking our Genoa took quite a beating.  Sailing 1300 miles close hauled is hard on sails.  We are all happy to be here and look forward to a rest before the next leg of our journey.  Canton has a population of about 40 people.  Most of the people work for the government.  They have 1 policeman, 2 teachers, 1 nurse, 1 minister, 1 fuel person, and one person who looks after the weather station, runs the post office and radio/telephone office.  The people were very friendly and were especially drawn to our children.  We were told by the locals that we were the first boat to ever be in Canton who had children aboard.

Upon arrival to Canton was a lone fishing boat. They were from Christmas Island and were here to net some sharks. Once they caught the sharks they cut off the fins to be dried and then sold to the oriental market. The shark carcass was then buried on the beach in the sand.

Many hermit crabs on the beach feasting on the buried dead sharks from above.

R Factor at anchor in Canton

The welcoming festival, half of the community showed up The feast including some very large lobsters and many flies!! The locals also seem to be developing a taste for Kava and the men sat around after the feast drinking Kava. 

As we would soon be in the Hawaii  we decided to leave any unused school supplies and some extra food supplies we had. Many of the canned vegetables seemed very foreign to them as they tended to have a diet of only fish, rice and coconut, supplemented with breadfruit. Canton is supposed to get a supply ship every 3 - 4 months but the last one took 10 months which was very typical.

The local school children, up to grade 6 (after that they go to school in Tarawa) and their teachers. They sang us a few songs for us during our visit.

Some of the unused roads on Canton, no working cars to use the traffic signs, and the last tractor and fire engine finally broke down, which was their only means of island transportation other than 1 moped.

The airport hanger in a state of disrepair (falling down) but the runway is in excellent conditions which is a back-up runway so it has been well maintained, the only thing on the island.  

The local weather station.

The local radio and postal office Canton, and yes a fire hydrant, non working of course. The infrastructure used to be very good but most parts not in use have been removed and sold. Most of the buildings have been cannibalized for building material and then they fall down, nothing is ever cleaned up. All the copper wire from the hydro poles and transformers have been removed and sold for scrap years ago. The only power on the island is the odd Honda generator which we never heard running during our visit. Everyone who lives here basically works for the government but with very poor wages, life is simple but everyone is happy.

One of the nice homes, ex-military housing, the inside is very sparse and likely leaks. There is a well on the island but you need to boil the water as it is contaminated and salty. Most people rely on rain water for drinking but the last rain Canton has was almost a year ago.  Most homes where not as nice this one and looked abandoned but were being lived in. There were no grass huts here on the island. 

Some of the locals who took a shining to our tall, blond and blue eyed daughter

The satellite dish which has not been used in years, in a state of disrepair like everything else.

One of the many nice sandy beaches and a few sharks in the shallow lagoon beside it, help you focus on the surroundings. The snorkeling was excellent and we saw lots of marine life, fish, manta rays, turtles and of course sharks. 

Home dentistry, nothing but the best for our kids. Actually Bruce had to pull this tooth out after Keegan tried a few times.

Keegan caught a fish in the Lagoon, the fishing was very good

Keegan practicing throwing knives, usual sport for kids

A wrecked WWII plane Big John, on the English Airbase side of the atoll

February 26, 2006

We left Canton today with our next destination - Christmas Island.  Just a few days out our engine started to overheat.  We thought we had taken care of this but apparently not.  Bruce investigated and was able to stop it from overheating by releasing the pressure while starting the engine.  Our intended plan was to catch the countercurrent to allow us to east.  However, this was not to be.  As usual Murphy decided that when we were in the countercurrent to give us 35 knots of wind from the east.  We were then unable to sail to Christmas Island and instead headed directly to Hawaii.  As well as our engine problems our laptop completed gave up and would not work at all.  Our satellite phone did not work so we could not send or receive e-mails and our halyard for our Genoa wore through and fell into the mast.  We therefore had to use our staysail for the rest of the trip.

About 7 days out our radar showed a fishing boat was directly in our path.  We called on the VHF radio but received no answer. As we got closer it appeared they were just drifting, although they did have a few lights on and eventually we saw exhaust from a generator. They must have been sleeping and did not expect to see anyone in the middle of the pacific. If we did not have an early morning watch we may have actually collided with this boat as it was directly in our path.

About 8:00 pm one night Linda thought she saw a green flare in the sky behind us, of course only Linda saw it. We checked the radar and saw a blip on the radar which looked like a small squall about 6 miles away. Was this another boat?  The flare should be red?  We called out on the VHF - no answer.  We decided that we should turn around and head towards the sighting and radar image. After searching for about 3 hours we did not find anything.  The radar image cleared up about 30 minutes after we turned around.  We scanned he horizon with a spotlight and saw nothing else. Likely culprit - a meteor low on the horizon!?  

 As we got within 250 miles of Hawaii the weather turned nasty with a system rolling in with 40 - 45 knots of wind for about 10 hours with a lot of rain. It was raining so hard that we could not see the bow of our boat at times.  During this storm a fishing boat came within a few hundred yards of our sailboat.  We talked on the VHF.  He was out of Honolulu, but we could not see him on our radar as it was raining so hard.

Leaving Canton we had an escort by many dolphins for a few hours

Sunset after leaving Canton

 

March 20, 2006

Oh happy day, oh happy day!!!!  We have arrived in Hilo, Hawaii.  The fact that it is raining so hard that we can barely see to get into Radio Bay is not even phasing us.  We are just happy to have arrived in civilization.  We are all excited about different things.  For the children, it means slurpies and ice-cream.  For me, it is a Laundromat and Safeway.  For Bruce it means the generator will finally be fixed.  We will spend about 2 or 3 weeks getting organized before leaving to go to Kona where there is a Northern Lights dealer who will make all our dreams come true!.  While in Hilo we home schooled, did a few repairs, and played tourists.  We rented a car for a few days and drove around the island, saw the volcanoes and waterfalls.   

I am finding the weather somewhat cold after spending so many months on the equator.  We have pulled out long pants, sweaters and extra blankets for our beds at night.  Who would have thought that Hawaii would be considered cold?

For all those people who said it couldn't be done, that we would never make it all this way against the trade winds, we are here to say that it can be done.  We traveled 3000 miles against the trade winds and the current.  Although it was not an easy trip, it was not the horror that we were lead to believe.  Although we had to change our course several times and it was hard on the boat i.e. equipment it nevertheless can be done.  Everyone on our boat feels a great sense of accomplishment and no regrets about our decision to sail this direction.

Our first morning in Hawaii we saw snow, yes snow, on the top of the mountain near Hilo. We must be getting close to Canada

The kids are happy to be back at their schoolwork in Hilo

The top of the volcano near Hilo, still smoking. the lava although not seen is still dumping into the ocean through lava tubes under the ground

Linda is finding it very cold here on top of the volcano, a cold north wind.

A wet family by one of the volcano craters

One of the petrographs in Hawaii

The lava flow has blocked the road here

One of the many beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii

April 16th, 2006

We left Hilo today to go to Kona.  We have made arrangements to have our generator looked at when we arrive.  The sail to Kona was, as usual, full of excitement.

When we left Hilo we had no wind.  We motored for a bit and then put up our sails.  We were sailing very slowly (3 knots) when a small fishing boat approached us and wanted to know if we were in trouble since our sails were flapping.  We assured him we were fine.  Several hours later the Coast Guard made a call on the VHF for a sailboat in our area.  We responded to the call and were asked if we were in trouble as someone had reported a sailboat that appeared to be in trouble.  We were all laughing so hard that Bruce could barely talk.  We assured them that we were not in trouble and that our sails were flapping as we had little wind.  Shortly after this call our sails were definitely not flapping as the wind picked up to a fresh and gusty 40 - 45 knots.  We pulled in our Genoa and were sailing with our main.  We were approaching the infamous "south point".  The following seas caused an uncontrolled jibe which in turn broke our boom preventer.  The remainder of the sail was very brisk and fast.  We arrived at our destination several hours earlier than we had thought we would.

We went into the marina and found our slip, tied up and waited for our Northern Lights dealer.  He arrived about an hour later, was on our boat for about 10 minutes and then... he was gone.  Prognosis --- our generator is GARBAGE!!!!  This is not a typo.  He said our generator had got salt water in it somehow and everything was seized.  There was no way he could fix it and, of course, this was not covered under warranty.

We have since been banned from using the "G" word around Bruce.  He is still a little upset about the whole situation.  The good news, we now have more room in the engine room.  Bruce hasn't found the humor in this yet.  Needless to say, R Factor still applies.

The lava dumping into the ocean with the steam rising, along with a bit of sulfuric acid. On the was to Hilo we passed this spot at night and could see the red glow of the lava as it entered the ocean. 

Keegan enjoying the sail

Glen from Nootka in Kona, Linda and Bruce in Kona

June 6th, 2006

We have spent the last two months enjoying Oahu to the fullest.  We were docked at Barber's Point which is a nice marina with all the amenities needed.  Bruce's parents and his two sisters visited us for a few weeks.  We saw Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, drove the North Shore, went to the swap meet (several times), saw the Dole Plantation and went shopping in the Ala Moa Shopping Center.  We were spoiled at their condo with the use of a swimming pool and hot tub.  The condo also had a TV (and cable) which the kids especially enjoyed. I however, marveled at the large fridge and freezer and fell in love with the washer and drier.  I also soaked in what was my first bubble bath in two years!

After the family left we finished the home school year.  All the children are quite happy about this but not as happy as I am.  I was apparently spotted doing the "dance of joy" down the dock.  We have fixed everything that broke on the boat since leaving Fiji.  Our good friends at Vector Yacht Services once again helped us out with a much needed care package.  

Our friends Bruce and Maria on Bianca, who we met in Ahe in the French Polynesian,  were also docked at Barber's Point.  A few days before leaving they gave us a farewell party with other cruisers in attendance.  It was fun yet sad.  Once you are given a farewell party there is no turning back.  Like all good things, our time in Hawaii was ending.  It was time for us to once again cross the big blue ocean known as the Pacific.  

For those of you who have not guessed, we are leaving Hawaii and headed back to Canada.  We will leave Hawaii on June 8th.  Our decision to end our trip early was a difficult decision.  We had hoped to sail one more year before heading back to land but things change as we all know.  Our decision to go back to Canada was a result of many things but, in particular, a result of home schooling.  We had always said that even though this trip was an education in itself it was never in lieu of a formal education for our children.  Home schooling three children, two of which are at high school level, is not easy,  It takes self discipline and many hours of work.  Between sailing to our destination, fixing the boat, which is never ending, home schooling and exploring the new place you are in can be a juggling act at best.  We feel that at this point in our children's education they need to be on land.   Someone once said that cruising was fixing your boat in exotic locations.  For us it has become fixing your boat and home schooling your children in exotic locations.  

Our decision to go back to Canada at this time was also made easier since Bruce and I have decided that we will go back out cruising once the children are all in university, about 8 years time.  This time we plan to do a world circumnavigation.  Our children will join us when their schedules permit.  I am hoping to have them on the boat more than not as they are, in my opinion, the best crew anyone could ask for.

Grandpa reunited with the grandkids, everyone is happy now

Of course Grandma did not want to miss out either, The kids have grown

Grandma's birthday cake, Hawaiian theme of course

At the luau 

Hawaii family picture

Grandma and Grandpa enjoying their drinks

The luau show, lots of good dancing etc.

Dole Pineapple Plantation, never knew how pineapples grew until now

Pineapple people

Chinaman's Hat

Pearl Harbor

Large canopy tree found around the island

Always a gecko or 2 around

An endangered duck, only 40 or so left in the world

Grandma was surprised at how big and nice all the flowers were

Ranch were Jurassic Park was filmed                      Keegan and his 2 aunts, Liisa and Jeri-lee

Traditional Hawaiian home, no one in Hawaii lives in these huts anymore

 

International Market Waikiki

Waikiki aquarium in a mall downtown, at least this shark we are not swimming with

Bruce trying to surf, spent more time below the water than above

Diamond head, Honolulu

Jessica on Oahu, trying not to get wet

Bruce and Jessica in front of the surf

Couple getting married on the beach in Oahu

Sunset on Oahu, Ko Olina Resort, Barber's Point 

Farwell party thrown by Bruce and Maria from Bianca in Marina 

 

June 8th

We left on June 8th with full water and fuel tanks.  The weather forecast looked good for the beginning of our trip.  We motored the first 12 hours just to get away from the island.  The trip was very uneventful.  The winds were much lighter than we expected and ended up motoring a little more than we thought we would.  We kept in  touch with Sailors Run, another sailboat which left from Hawaii the day after us.  They were headed to San Francisco.  We saw a few cargo ships, dolphins and millions of jelly fish.  Amazingly, nothing on the boat broke!!! We had Bruce from Bianca send us e-mails everyday with the weather.  This was in addition to our own weather but it was nice to get it from another sailor.  Thanks Bruce!!! As we entered the Juan de Fuca it was calm with very little wind but some fog.  As we approached Race Rock outside of Victoria the winds had picked up to a fresh 40 knots behind us.  Needless to say it was a rocket ride for the next few miles but with Victoria in sight we didn't mind.  We arrived at the Customs Dock in Victoria at 7:00 a.m. on Canada Day, July lst 24 days after leaving Hawaii.   By 8:00 am we were in our dock at Wharf Street and Victoria started to make preparations for our arrival which included fireworks that evening.  The next few days we enjoyed the festivities on the harbor front.  On July 6th we headed to Sidney.  We forgot how calm sailing the inside passage is! 

We arrived safely in Sidney at the exact dock where we left two years ago.  We have traveled 20,000 nm in two years.  Considering that we had never sailed a day in our lives before we left I am very proud of our family and the accomplishments we have made on this journey.

I am sad that our journey is over.  It just seems like yesterday we were packing the boat to leave.  I will miss the excitement of  making landfall in a new exotic location and of course, all our cruising friends.  To our friends still out cruising, may you have fair winds and following seas.  To those of you who are living vicariously through this website, you know who you are, just go.  You will never regret it!!

We are now trying to get our "land" life organized and we will update the website one more time once we are settled. 

A few feathered friends wanted a rest stop at night 1,000 miles out from Hawaii

Jellyfish, thousands of them we saw for about a week

Always need to keep a watch for ships, they don't always see you

Our escort to Canada

We arrived safe and sound in Victoria Canada on Canada Day, they even had fireworks for us

Downtown docks always had excitement, a takedown by the Victoria police

Back in Sidney where we started

How we looked 2 years ago

The Family has changed, Back in Sidney to start over

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