October 2011

Heading Back Out

Image of the Day:

IMG_0433

Dawn view from my hatch of the “hnoss” the old Norwegian boat we’ve been rafted against these past 10 days.

Highlights:

It’s time to go.  People and Boat are ready, more than ready. 

Reflections:

Like waiting for water to boil, sometimes watching and worry about it doesn’t help and even gives the impression of prolonging the event.  Many people I am in contact with right now are waiting for something – waiting to sail, waiting for an interview, waiting for a hearing waiting for news…  How we wait and how we prepare for these inevitable events can be so difficult yet so critical to the final outcome.  Staying focused though flexible to move with the changes – that come – like it or not – can really help; as can accepting that things take the time that they take and that which is beyond my control is really beyond my control, e.g. learning “acceptance”  or as some would put it, “surrender”…

Comments (1)

Permalink

Coda – la Réunion

Well as much as we’re all eager to leave, it just isn’t the right time and the weather south of us is not moving at the speed we’d anticipated so we stay for a few more days. 

clip_image001

The low pressure system in the south normally moves quite quickly to the east and stays south.  This one is sitting still and edging north which is not a good sign for us.  We will stay put for at least 24-36 more hours.

Image of the Day:

IMG_0375IMG_0360

View from our window this morning in St. Denis – Garret room in the rafters of the Hotel Le Juliette Dodu – the brightly lit window in the 2nd image

Highlights:

Returning from le Cirque de Mafate Monday night we returned to the Austral Hotel in St. Denis tired and sore.  The next morning we spent a few hours at Le Hammam Sarah for steam, soak, massage and a fabulous North African lunch!

IMG_0351IMG_0353IMG_0352

Back at the boat we washed the decks and Noé’s feet:

IMG_0380

This was followed by our own showers and then the Dominique, Bianca and I left the boat and went down to St. Gilles for ice-cream, drinks and sunset…

IMG_0394IMG_0387

Reflections:

There was a strange irony in our time in le Cirque de Mafate that I don’t believe was captured by either Dario or my previous posts.   It was a paradise without cars and only a few families all living quietly in the crater of the volcano.  However at first light the next morning began arrival after arrival of helicopters, either delivering people or goods for the village, shattering the morning stillness.  The traffic was constant until the lunch hour.  Practically speaking – helicopters are the way to go for access, supply and transport, however the strange contradiction that they seem to bring to the quiet beauty of the place and those who chose to live there. 

Perhaps too an example of “having one’s cake and eating it too” though somehow it left me with an odd taste in my mouth…

Comments (1)

Permalink

Days in Isle de la Réunion, France

Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 20 56.340
Longitude East 055 17.027

Image of the Day:

IMG_0315

Dominique: dancing with the garbage we collected on the decent from Cayenne

Highlights:

We have been in La Réunion for a week and will be here for a few more days.  We have really been making the most of it!

Our days in port have been working on the boat and trying, still unsuccessfully to recalibrate the autopilot.  Le Port is a good place for boats, less for people as it is about a mile from the town and the neighborhood is a bit dicey at night.  Dominique and I rented a car…

 

Dominique, Bianca and I had a couple days off last week where we drove around the island and spend two nights at “Le Victoria” a very nice hotel in Grands Bois (Saint Pierre) in the South West.  We had fun driving around the island.

The Schworer family had gone up to Cilaos for these 2 days off and on the first night in Grands Bois, I drove up to Cilaos to meet Dario a little before midnight so that we could climb the highest peak on the island: Le Ption des Neiges (3070 Meters) which was a vertical ascent of over 1700 meters, something I didn’t really understand until about 2am… 

Note to self: when a Swiss mountain guide invites you on a short walk in the mountains, beware…  Dario and I climbed non-stop from 12:15 to 4:30 when we reached the summit.  It was beautiful!  We had hiked up in the light of the full moon to the highest point of the island above the Cirque de Cilaos crater.  The view was stunning and we were all alone.  Needless to say at the top it was close to freezing and even though my make-shift poncho (made from a shower curtain and duct-tape) cut the wind, it was not enough to stay for long, so before the sun rose we made our way back down, crossing close to 50 climbers eagerly making their way up for sunrise.  We were happy to have left and enjoyed the sunrise alone during our decent.

Dario and I arrived back at their Gite in Cilaos at 8am and had a nice breakfast with Sabine and the children and then I made my way back down to Grands Bois to join Dominique and Bianca for a second breakfast and then a fantastic lunch at Francois 1er followed by a drive up to the active volcano in the south – while I slept in the back of the car – Sadly it was raining quite hard at the top of the crater, so there was no view.  We continued to drive across the island and up through St. Andre looking for a new place to stay only to find no hotels and nothing available up in the mountains, given  a mountain running event that was taking place from Thursday night through Sunday: “La Diagonale des Fous”. Giving up our search around 7pm we called the Victoria and begged for a room and then drove back across the island where we slept… 

On the next day we drove south this time through a fresh lava flow (1976) and a church, Notre Dame des Laves which had been surrounded by lava, though not destroyed during an eruption of the southern volcano in the town of Sainte Rose. Our trip took us finally up to the lovely capital town of St. Denis and an amazing fish dinner at: Le D.C.P. (some of the freshest and best fish I’ve ever had!) Finally we returned to the boat that night and spend the next day varnishing and  and sealing hatches, all hoping for the weather window to open, but not yet (thankfully).

The next day the old Norwegian boat we were rafted to had a morning trip so we had to move and once again tried to calibrate the autopilot.  Still no joy.  That afternoon Dominique and I took off for St. Denis to the Austral Hotel and a 2nd dinner at Le D.C.P.

The Schworer’s and Bianca were heading up to Cayenne – a village of 8 families, no cars up in Le Cirque de Mafate – another crater in the north-west of the island.  Sunday the 16th is Dario’s birthday and he wanted to be in the mountains.  Dominique and I had chosen not to go, though secretly had arranged with Sabine that we’d come up on Sunday with a chocolate cake for Dario and surprise them all for dinner. 

At 11am we met Monsieur Legros in the town of Riviere des Galets after having an amazing fresh fruit salad of pineapple and mangos with hot pepper and salt from the church fair.  He drove us in his 4×4 up to the trailhead (about 45 minutes) and then we hiked up to the village of Cayenne (about 2 1/2 hours).  We met a nice dog along the way and were intrigued by the difficulties of having to carry a cake up into the mountains that we could not strap to our backs!

What a stunning place! 

Jeff our host at the camping – he  supplies the tents, with mattresses, as well as breakfast and Creole dinner, was a real treat and as you can see from the photos below, has perhaps the best view from his kitchen that we’ve ever seen…

Dominique and I split off from the family this morning and hiked back down the mountain on a different trail picking up garbage (plastics primarily) along the way – lots of it!  M. Legros was there at the meeting place and off we went back to St. Denis and back to the Austral Hotel where we’ve been lounging and snacking for the last few hours – ready for an early night.

Reflections:

We all wanted to sail, yet have seen more beauty and discovered more interesting people and places here – why fight it?  We’ll leave when we leave….

Comments (1)

Permalink

Do we? don’t we? … we don’t!

image

Current Position 06:00 UTC +4
Course over Ground   Degrees
Speed over Ground   Knots
Speed thru Water   Knots
Heading   Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 20 56.340
Longitude East 055 17.027

 

Image of the Day:

 

IMG_0056

“View from my hatch:” Dawn in port at ‘Le Port Ouest’ at Pointe Des Galets, La Reunion, France

Highlights:

We spent the morning trying to re-calibrate the auto-pilot, an instrument that was given a power-rest by Noé (age 2) prior to our arrival in Mauritius and then never managed to hold a course for more than about an hour or so, before it’s compass would lose its bearing and generally steer us off course and into a nasty jib or other ugly situation if not carefully managed.  The problem was a mobile speaker system that was too close to the flexgate Raymarine compass which is used for TOPtoTOP school presentations.

Unfortunately our attempts to calibrate the compass failed and the sea-trials took half the day and after further reflection on our weather situation the skipper’s decided to wait this out a bit longer.

Reflections:

Making decisions which impact the lives of many is tough and though I may not always agree with Dario’s decisions, I respect his approach and the time he takes to make his choices.  He appears to be doing this in a very complete manner; gathering data for proper analysis by the mind, listening to his gut and feelings regarding how the data looks and finally seeking some form of confirmation from outside, like an echo or in his case, I believe a prayer. 

On the next day we drove south and when we saw this:

IMG_0083

realized that the decision was not all bad…

Comments (0)

Permalink

Heading Back in Again –Leg 4 Day 2–Voyage Day 50

image 

Current Position 05:45 UTC +4
Course over Ground 226 Degrees
Speed over Ground 5.0 Knots
Speed thru Water n/a Knots
Heading 250 Degrees
Position Direction Degrees Minutes
Latitude South 20 53.904
Longitude East 055 17.555
Distance Remaining n/a Nautical Miles Sea Surface Temperature 22.9 Degrees C

Image of the Day:

IMG_0043

Heading back in at Pointe des Galets, La Reunion, France

Highlights:

We had a rough 20+ hour sail from Mauritius to here, with most of crew quite sick,  a failing autopilot in heavy seas and wind causing random jibs and other scary moves, plus a holding tank which needed clearing, so early this morning we ducked into the harbor at Pointe des Galets for a quick rest and hopefully some quick repairs.  This really is our last chance before the crossing to Africa, which seems to be continually challenged by high seas and winds.

Check this out via downloading zyGrib a very handy piece of software for viewing Grib files (weather data).

Reflections:

I wish we’d kept going…

Comments (1)

Permalink

Back to Sea!

We’re finally heading out later today!  We should clear customs in the afternoon and either sail tonight or at first light tomorrow morning.  We are more than ready on many levels, as are many of the boats in port here in la Marina.  The weather window looks good and though will start to windward in the first day or so, if all goes well, in about 10 days we’ll be in Richards Bay.  If things change in the next day or two, we’ll duck into La Reunion, though the intent is to go straight through.

Image of the Day:

WP_000354

Fishing boats in Port Louis, Mauritius

Highlights:

It’s easy to complain about life at sea and shipboard conditions.  However, every time I’ve been here in Mauritius over the last 16 years (first on the R/V Knorr out of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)), I’ve seen these fishing boats, of Asian build and crew and quieted myself realizing that things could be worse than the conditions I currently have.  I admire and empathize with these men and hope and pray for their wellbeing at sea and beyond…

Reflections:

Anger: it eats a hole in you, drives you nuts and leaves you empty.  Sometimes it motivates action; often just digs you deeper into the hole you are already in.  It keeps you up at night when you should be sleeping.  Yet when you do sleep, often in the morning, you can’t quite find the intensity or the source that had you so wound-up the night before.  Anger is transient, thank God! 

Last night I went into a fit of anger, didn’t sleep until late and then woke this morning to find that my rage was gone and when I discovered that the source of it all was quite innocent, felt greatly relieved not to have had a confrontation at the time of my reaction.  The boat has become a pressure cooker for more than just our food here in port!  The sea calls us and I’m so happy that we’re finally sailing ! 

Comments (0)

Permalink

New Tracking System Installed for following Boat Position

We’ve installed a new ship-tracking system on the boat which will allow you to follow the PACHAMAMA’s movements across the Indian Ocean and beyond!

Instructions for how to access can be found on the October 6th post of the TOPtoTOP Expedition Report.

Enjoy!

Comments (0)

Permalink

Mauritius–Day 16

Dominique and I returned to the boat last night after a great weekend in the south at La Mariposa with our new shipmate, Bianca.  We woke this morning with aspirations of a sailing party with Cresswell (Cress) Walker up to Grande  Baie with a group of sailors here in port.  Well, this didn’t work out as we had work to do on the boat and were gently reminded that we were on an expedition, not a pleasure cruise, so we painted the deck’s of the PACHAMAMA instead; a great work party with all expedition members involved!   See Video!

Image of the Day:

IMG_6201

Scraping, Grinding and Painting PACHAMAMA

Highlights:

Today was all about the expedition and the boat and we scraped, grinded and painter her aluminum deck…

Yesterday and the day before were quite different as we were ‘off’ and in the south.  Sunday, the highlight was a sleepy start with breakfast in our beachfront room followed by beach time in Le Morne and surf time for me at One Eye – great waves and 4 locals out, 1 nice and 3 jerks.  It was a real funny contrast to the day before when I hadn’t gone out because of a lack of people, now I was so happy to see guys in the water and had to deal with ‘locals only’ BS. My thanks to the one, a sailor I’d seen in Port Louis, who let me in a bit and also had his buddy pick me up in his boat to save some paddling in…

 

Later in the day we visited the mountains of Chamarel and the Black River Nature Reserve, though missed the Chamarel Rum Refinery due to its being closed.  We returned to the Mariposa for a sunset dinner of cheese, saucisson, salad and wine and then made our way back to the boat in the evening.

On the drive back we scored a truck tire for a sea anchor for Dario, only to find that it was too big, so launched it back to nature in the appropriate manner…

Reflections:

Back to Fear, Love and Respect: I was intrigued today to see how my fears subsided when others were in the water.  The waves were still big – about 3ft over-head, yet having company and being able to learn and watch the excellent local surfers made it all seem possible.  I still took several trips ‘over the fall’s’ avoided the reef and actually had a good time, irrespective of the localism vibe that was running.  Learning from others helps, regardless of their intention and it’s just plan harder to go it alone.

Comments (0)

Permalink

Days in Mauritius

image

We arrived in Mauritius on the 17th of September and are still here on the 1st of October due to weather conditions further south.  Next stop should be La Reunion and then on to Richards Bay South Africa, passing south of Madagascar given that conditions north were not advisable due to pirate conditions

Our time here has been a mix of working on the boat, environmental clean-ups, presentations to schools, the founding of TOPtoTOP Mauritius, a press conference, surfing in the south, discovering Port Louis and the rest of the Island and some great time with friends both new and old.  The only challenges are the uncertainty of when we leave, which makes planning anything quite difficult, the shifts in location and costs of hotels.

Image of the Day:

Looking out at “One Eye” at Le Morne in Mauritius (shot with Cannon S90 through my binoculars) “One Eye” from above –note the long paddle out, no fishing boats for help this time.

"La Roche Qui Pleure" at SouillacLooking out at the line up at One Eye

Highlights:

Surfing at One Eye on the neighboring peak to the KSP World Tour: Mauritius One Eye Pro Competition was a real treat, though a bit scary at times as the waves were really big, the paddle out incredibly long and the reef incredibly shallow!  Check out the link above for  better images and video!

A few nights back at Le Paradis with a King-size bed and fabulous food and environment

IMG_6035IMG_6033

Cleaning up boat and getting things ready for rough weather as well as the kids cleaning themselves Winking smile

IMG_5991IMG_6002

Discovering Port Louis and the Island with a local lunch and dinner with our friend Marc & Claire Israel and their friends as well as staying down at La Mariposa in Riviere Noire twice, once just the two of us and a second time tonight with our new shipmate, Bianca, here to teach the kids and friendly birds at La Mariposa

Port LouisRiviere NoireRiviere NoireFruit Lunch in the SouthFruit Lunch in the Souththe Southhttp://www.princemaurice.com/inland MauritiusSugar Cane Sunset with Mountains of Mauritius Dominique, Alegra and Bianca waiting by the boat friendly birds at La Mariposafriendly birds at La Mariposa

Reflections:

Fear vs. Respect: I am fascinated how we can fluctuate between both respect and in many cases love and then fear.  In this case I speak of the ocean.  I’ve had a good taste of both these past days here in Mauritius where I’ve been stymied by unbelievably good  surfing conditions where the waves were huge, winds right and the crowd, nonexistent.  On some levels too good to be true, yet too big for me,  too big to surf alone and having been thrown against the reef at One Eye and Ambulante more than once over the years I’ve been coming here – a reef which breaks shallow to dry – I once again tasted fear in my surfing.  It was great to meet Hugh and Harry, two brothers from Jersey, England on their way to the UK from Australia on the “Little Coconut” as surfing with them eased this and put me back in my stride.  That said, today, I chose not to go out as One Eye was pumping massively, no one was out and the beach was emptying when I go there.  I’ve more to think of on this one as it’s troubled me quite a bit over the last days…

Comments (2)

Permalink