Hit Counter

Tusk Log 






Tusk Lifestyle



An account of a yacht sailing around the world


















© Brian & Joyce Cook, Yacht Tusk,











Chapter 1 1989 Pg7

The accident in Rhodes

Delays delays delays

Wintering in Larnaca

Do you know?

Boat techs

Gourmet corner


Chapter 2   1989 Pg15

Boat Techs

Passage Cyprus to Crete

Samaria Ravine

Gourmet corner

Lumpy Lampadusa

Mediterranean weather

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 3 1989/90 Pg27

Safari-North Africa Style

Christmas boat jinks

How do we spend our time

Gourmet corner

Summary of Tusk’s log



Chapter 4 1990 Pg36

Anchors Aweigh

Extracts -Joyce’s Journal

Lynda’s holiday

Boat techs

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 5 1990 Pg47

Passage, Palma to Gibralter

Tusk saves catamaran

Tusk boarded at 3am        

Rock of the apes

Boat techs

Passage Gib’r to Vilamoura

The Algarve interlude

Vilamoura to Porto Santo

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 6 1990 Pg64

Porto Santo storm and peace

Madeira, 1st Tropical Island.

Hot rock

Back to earth, the UK

Boat Techs

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 7 1990/91 Pg74

Crossing the big pond

Las Palmas

The big crossing

Notes on the crossing

Landfall, English Harbour

A change of plan

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 8   1991 Pg88

Nevis, Coconut Island

We survived Mt Misery

St Barts and St Martin

British Virgin Islands

The American Caribbean

Samana, and the waterfalls

The balmy Bahamas

Gourmet Corner

Summary of Tusk’s log

Chapter 9 1991 Pg106

Ft Lauderdale, Florida

The waterway

Donaldduck & the spaceman

Beaufort, North Carolina

Bob gives us a fright

The Rose Buddies

Norfolk and Portsmouth

Crab bash

18th century fair

Washington DC, the Capital

Oxford and St Michaels

Annapolis and the boat show


Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 10 91/92 Pg134

The mast post

Stay extension for the USA

Anchor winch

The dinghy

The cook is the captain

Electronics galore

Lightning protection

New Rigging

Leaks and drips

The water-maker


Visit Home

Culture Vultures

Christmas in Lauderdale

Bottoms out

Aries self steering

Computer repairs

Stocking up our stores


The Boatyard

A soft touch

Keep  things in perspedtive


Chapter 11 1992 Pg159

Tusk sails the thorny path

Passages South

Iguana Island

St Patrick’s day

Mai Mai

Strange Customs -Boqueron



The Virgin Islands

St Martins, another mini refit

Antigua Revisited


Dominica, Island Tour

Gourmet corner

Dominica, the Indian River

Water not fit to drink


St Lucia- by bus


Island of the rich and famous

Canouan - the boat launching

Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau

The Tobago Cays

Grenada, the spice island

Boat boys

Summary of Tusk’s log











Chapter 12 1993 Pg192

Tusk in South America

Trinidad, Pan & more

Gourmet corner

Computer games

Why need a computer?


Big bang

Los Navados


San Blas Islands

Panama, historical notes

The transit preliminaries

The transit

Taboga Island

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 13 1993 Pg212

Pacific adventure

Panama to Galapagos

Darwin’s island

Our longest voyage

Bastille day

Tropical Blight

Water water everywhere

Takaroa Atoll

Yachties in bondage


The Cooks at Cooks Bay

Cooks arrive at the Cook Aitutaki.

Palmerstone Atoll

Kingdom of Tonga

The long white cloud

Kiwi Welcome

Summary of Tusk’s log



Chapter 14 1994 Pg251

Auckland City

The tubes

Carols in the park

Christmas and New Year

Shop till you drop

Opera in the park

Whitbread R T W Race

Jobs on Tusk

Kitty O’Brien’s

A Family Wedding

Auckland, the outdoor city

Visit to the UK

Four wheeled backpackers

Stormy Weather

Passage, NZ to Tonga

Touristing in Tongatapu

Happy Ha’apai

A picture of Vava’u

Ocean Breeze

Tongan Feast

Tsunami in Tonga

Clam spits at Joyce

Kenutu Island, our favourite

Rough  passageTonga-Opua












Chapter 15 94/95 Pg280

Bay of Islands

Cruise B of I to Auckland

Christmas and New Year

Moonshaddow wedding

Arthur’s Emporium

Whangerei Workshop

Gourmet Corner

Going South

Going South-the thermals

Horses and whitewater

Going South-Ruapehu

Going South-the flood

Going South-South Island

Section 21 Boycott

Friends’ call

Passage New Zealand to Fiji

Summary of Tusk’s log


Chapter 16 1995 Pg311

The Islands

Suva, another crossroads

Suva town

Suva storm

Kandavu, old Fiji


Nukubalavu Adventure


Musket Cove

The Yasawa Islands

Holy engines

Passage-Fiji to Vanuatu

Vanuatu to New Caledonia

New Caledonia

Passage, New Cal –Australia

Summary of Tusk’s log




Chapter 17 95/96 Pg346

Land of OZ

Coffs Harbour

Coffs Hr and Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie to Sydney

Christmas and New Year

Sydney sights

Around Sydney & Canberra

More around Sydney

Sydney opera House

Clubs and pubs

Australia day

Green travellers


Broken Bay

Tusk bumps up Hawksbury

Boatyards, boatyards

Broken Bay to Coffs

Home again

Back to Coffs

Digger Joe and Opal Lil

Summary of Tusk’s log














Chapter 18 96/97 Pg387

Seconds of Sydney

Sydney Harbour anchorages

Sydney Festival

Sydney Tower

Sydney Walks

Australia Day

Sun Rips and Sharks

Leaving Port Macquarie

Seal Rocks


Great Barrier and Darwin

To Kupang

Dragon country


Bali-Island of Hassel

Darkest Borneo


Summary of Tusk’s log












Chapter 19 97/99 Pg440

The final year

Singapore to Langkawi

Malaysia to Thailand

Langkawi to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka




Door of Sorrow


The weather


Shab and Marsa


More Sudan anchorages

The Marsa Alarmists

Safaga & Luxor

To Suez

The Suez Canal

Israeli Navy, Israeli Navy

Camping in Israel

Cyprus and finish

Summary of Tusk’s log











This account was written with no particular intent to produce anything more than a regular newssheet to keep our relatives and friends informed of the progress of our planned cirumnavigation as we went. We called these newssheets ‘Tusk Lifestyle’, and it was produced on consecutive portable computers on the boat using cheap desktop publishing programs. The intent was that we would mail a copy about every quarter year, but this quickly slid to six monthly, yearly and often rather longer. Basically each chapter of this account is a separate newssheet. Early copies of the newsheet were done on the MS Dos operating system and are incompatable with modern computer systems. The desktop publishing programs we used also became obsolete and it was impossible to covert much of the material from the old computer files to modern usable format. So to consolidate all the newssheets into one complete document we had to scan the surviving paper copies of the newssheets using a characture recognision program onto a word processor. The characture recognision was about 99% accurate but this left a lot of corrections to be done. It may be that not all the necessary corrections have been found, so the reader may have to gloss over these, and perhaps we may do another edit when time is available. The newssheet was written in a magazine format rather than a sequential blow by blow account of our journey, so do not be surprised to find small overlaps, jumps and gaps. We tried to stay true to the style of the original, but three original photos have been lost so one isomitted and the best suitable substitutes have been used. 


The collection of ‘Tusk Lifestyle’ newssheets.

Chapter 1


            Our story starts a year before our voyage started, because this incident had a significant impact on the start of our circumnavigation and events later on in the voyage. We were on a short holiday from our jobs in Saudi Arabia and planned to sail from Larnaca in Cyprus to Rhodes in Greece and back to Larnaca.


The Accident in Rhodes.

On 8th July 1988 after nightfall, we arrived in the crowded harbour of Rhodes in our yacht Tusk. We could only find a space to moor about three boats out from the quay. We completed customs and immigration formalities to enter Greece the next morning and on the way back to Tusk we had a walk around the historic walled city of Rhodes.

We collected some trays of soft drinks from a supermarket and while we were loading the drinks on board Tusk, a 350-ton motor yacht Camara C entered harbour. Camara C hailed us to say that we, and six other boats were in his berth, and we should move. We did not argue, but stowed our drinks below and started letting off our ropes and pulling up our anchor. Our anchor was caught on (a huge chain we latter found) on the bottom and we could not raise it. We told Camara C of our problem, and asked them to call the port authority and get a diver at our expence to release our anchor. Camara C said they tried to call the port authority but could not get any sense out of them.

By then several other boats had moved and Camara C said they had enough room to get in if we moved as far to one side as possible. We thought there was not enough room but tried to comply with this request. As Camara C backed into the space, a Laser dinghy stored on the top deck caught in one our shrouds and started pushing us back, and the mast started bending. Camara C had a crew with a hand held radio on the stern deck to warn of any problems. We later found the crew and the bridge were on different radio channels and had no communication with each other. Camara C kept going astern and our shroud was cutting through the Laser whilst Tusk was forced back onto the boats moored behind us. Our mast was bending the shape of a banana, and we could hear the deck cracking under us.

Only the shouting of scores of spectators around us alerted the Captain of Camara C of the problem, by this time the damage was done.


Delays Delays Delays.

Immediately after the collision between Camara C and Tusk, the Captain of Camara C admitted liability and offered to provide a surveyor to assess the damage. The surveyor was Greek, his survey was superficial and his appreciation of quality yacht finishes seemed minimal. The boatyard in Rhodes was a rather scruffy place, and it was not possible to find anyone who could recommend the quality of its work. We decided that it would be best to take Tusk back to Larnaca for repair.

After phoning the original builder in England I made an estimate of the cost of repairs as being about £3OOO. Camara C said this sum was too much for them to settle and they would hand the matter over to their insurers. We later found out that they had £10,000 excess on their policy and their insurer would not handle a claim as small as the one we had submitted. We got temporary repairs done and a surveyors certificate to say we were seaworthy so that our insurance would still be valid for the trip back. We then sailed to Larnaca to put the repairs in the hands of our insurance company.

When we arrived back in Larnaca the boatyard manager was going on holiday and would not take the mast down for survey until after his holiday. We returned to our jobs in Saudi and it was in fact late September before this was done. The surveyor produced a preliminary survey but there were some items that delayed the final report and it was late November before the final report and repair specification was ready. The damage included the mast, a cracked deck beam, cracked deck, torn shroud plate mountings, bent pulpit, and strained rigging wires. Tenders were requested from three repair specialists, but by 20th January when we finally left our jobs and arrived in Larnaca to start our new venture, only one offer had been received by our insurance company and they would not proceed with repairs without at least two offers.

We chased up other offers ourselves and the insurance gave the go ahead for Larnaca boatyard to do the, but the boatyard said now they could not start the work until May because this was their busy period.

Our insurance company had not received any answers from Camara C insurers so it looked as though we would lose our no claims bonus. We took up the claim with Camara C by sending a telex threatening legal action to the Lloyds insurance broker in London and they replied they would not be dealing with the claim and all documents were being returned to the insurance agent. So we sent the same telex to the agent and got a reply that our claim, now £8500 was less than the excess on the Camara C policy so we should negotiate directly with the owners.

So our next telex was by satellite directly to Camara C who was by now cruising in the Caribbean. Several telexes passed each way before we were told our claim was being considered and that a partner from London would contact us. When we asked for the London telex number we were given the wrong number. However in due course we did receive an offer from the partner for £2750. We decided this was too low to start negotiating on so we told the partner we were travelling to London to precede with legal action for a fair settlement.

In London we had some difficulty contacting the partner because there was no telephone listing of his company in the telephone directory. We went to Companies house in the city to trace the directors of the company owning Camara C. Camara C was in fact owned by a consortium of businessmen including a solicitor, insurance broker, stock broker and financial advisor, which were high profile names in the UK. After about a week we got a meeting with the partner in his office and this resulted in an improved offer. Further discussions achieved a final offer of £5,5OO, which was just enough to pay the direct foreseeable costs of the repairs. This was well into March and our stay in the UK was sure to cost more than the compensation we might have got by fighting on.

We received the cash and returned to Larnaca and the repairs were started in May. We rented a flat for a month whilst the cabin roof was removed to replace the deck beam. Work continued on some carpentry and on the mast and rigging until middle of June. The work done by the boatyard was first class and we had no worries regarding the integrity of the repairs, which are invisible from the original. Tusk went into the water at the end of June and other jobs, which could only be done afloat were completed in July, together with provisioning with three months of food. We had a few days cruise along the Cyprus coast to test as much of the gear as possible, and we thought we were ready to start on our westward track by the first week in August.

Having had an enforced stay in Larnaca for most of the summer, we are not keen to winter again that year in the Mediterranean. If we could make Gibraltar before the winter set in, we thought we could cross the Atlantic and be cruising the Caribbean by January


Wintering in Larnaca

We had wintered Tusk in Larnaca Marina from 1981 to 1989 and it was was almost a second home by the time we left. The thing about Larnaca Marina is that once you knew the place there was little chance of getting bored. There was always plenty going on. There is space for about 250 yachts and the winter of 1988/89 there were about 70 boats that had live-aboards. One satiric circumnavigator described the marina as suburbia afloat. We did not have time to join in everything because of the work we were doing on Tusk. But we did have a little time off especially for the barbecues that were held most weeks. In the middle of winter when temperatures were only just above freezing we had barbecues indoors in a vast old disused customs shed on the edge of the marina. As the weather improved the barbecues were held around different boats that were ashore for maintenance and painting. Boats stay mostly only for the winter, and start to leave for their summer cruise by about April onwards. The group of revellers got smaller as boats left, and by July, only a few crews with some problem or other were left.

Another thing we were interested in was keeping fit Whilst Brian would have an occasional early morning jog along the beach, Joyce would bicycle to the other end of town to do an hour of aerobics. It was not long before badminton and tennis were added to the weekly programme.

Special interest groups sprung up in the marina to organize country walks, archaeological visits, and a bridge school for learners. A handicrafts competition in aid of charity was also organised. The marina is surrounded by the town, and is only a short distance to the shops. We usually used our folding bicycles to get around Larnaca and when the bikes were not required we could pack them into the storage locker under the forepeak bunks.

Larnaca is as much a residential town as it is a tourist town, although it is quieter in the winter was never completely dead like some holiday towns. The local council holds interesting cultural events and exhibitions, and a cinema put on some good English language films. We also had visits from several sets of friends from our working days in Saudi Arabia, during our stay in Larnaca, and we were always pleased at their interest in Tusk and our planned voyage. We sat amongst the toolboxes in the cockpit sipping wine and exchanging news about our mutual friends.

For us the most interesting thing about the marina was that due to its location, many circumnavigators’ stop there and new boats arrive every week, having come from Australia and up the Red Sea. There are always a few real characters around to spin an interesting yarn, and we learned many things that helped us in planning and equipping Tusk for our own around the world attempt.


Do You Know?

Live-aboards change their names. They remember the first name of their friends and the boats name but not the surname. So we became Brian and Joyce Tusk.Could this be why a dentist from Dubai also staying at Larnaca changed the name of his boat from Mobius Stripper?


Boat Techs

Yachts are no longer simple vessels in which their crews sail into the sunset leaving all their cares behind. Under all that glossy fiberglass, varnished wood, or venerable scrubbed teak there is usually a bank of computer operated displays, electro-mechanical devices, pneumatic controls and servomechanisms which keep going wrong and cause exasperation and frustration, not to mention expense and lost time. It is true that you can sail without these things but so long as they work, they contribute materially to comfort and safety and the ease with which the yacht can be handled. The smaller the number of crew on the boat, the more this applies. There are not many purists around who will do without if they can afford to buy the equipment, and boats tend to get more complicated as the years go by.

We owned Tusk for 10 years before we started cruising full time. During that time we sailed from England to Cyprus and then cruised Turkey and Greece and we just managed with a depth sounder, an electric impeller log to give speed and distance, and radio direction finding. During our preparations at Larnaca, we installed a satellite navigator that received signals from US Navy satellites and calculated our position. With this we installed a log and heading interface so that the Satnav should know our heading and speed automatically and thereby do more accurate calculations to determine the yachts position between satellite fixes. The accuracy was only about a mile but this is quite useful and is all that is required most of the time.

We also had a Navtex, which was a fairly new worldwide system in1989. This is a weather forecast broadcasting system, which operates within about 200 mile of the coast. As the broadcasts are received they are stored in memory and can be displayed on a video screen when required. So there is less chance of missing a forecast if you happen to be busy at the time the forecast is transmitted.

We put more 12V sockets around the cabin to make it easier to use our electrical gadgets such as the car type vacuum cleaner or the 5-inch TV. We also added another battery so that we had three 100AH batteries to cope with the extra loading. We use one battery as a dedicated starting battery, and two for running all other equipment. Because in our live-aboard mode we had much more electrical equipment than we did when we used Tusk for holidays, we also obtained a high output alternator that has high charge, normal charge and a 240v AC output. So by running our engine we could either charge our batteries quickly or use normal domestic power tools up to 2KW. The installation of this equipment alone, and the extra wiring necessary was more than a full months work


Gourmet Corner

Cyprus does not have an international reputation for good food like France or Germany, but a cheap and pleasant meal can be found by the discriminating visitor who is willing to look around before settling on a tavern in which to enjoy their evening meal.

We classified Larnaca restaurants into three types, those that are in the central locations and cater mainly for the tourists, those that have some special appeal and are usually a little off the beaten track, and the simple taverna serving mainly local dishes. Naturally since we were no longer working, were interested in finding good food at the lowest cost, and we favoured the simple taverna.

Beside the Fort on the Larnaca seafront we found just such a taverna called Pefkos. The owner was always friendly, the place was always clean and the service was good. We would have an appetizer like Taramosalata (fish roe) or Tzajiki (cucumber dip), and then a grilled pork chop or kebab with chips and a little salad, with a bottle of wine. It was open air, so it did not open in the winter. For the special occasion, or if we have a visitor who likes a special atmosphere, we used the Tudor Inn, also near the fort. It has a cosy decor and an entertaining host, and in the summer we could dine in the garden surrounded by beautiful plants. There is a nice variety of dishes, but we would leave with a bill double that of Pefkos.

Around the corner from the Tudor Inn was, the Cuckoos Nest. We could get roast meat and two vegetables, and the drinks seem to be the cheapest bar prices in town. It was a favourite watering hole for some marina people and British pilots who fly for the airlines.

If we just wanted a mid morning filler we tried one of the old small Greek bread shops. They have Tiropitakia (cheese pasties) and Kreatopitta (meat filled pies) but one of our favourites is the olive bread. These are made in the form of a large roll, but mind your teeth, they put in whole olives complete with the stones!


Chapter 2




A worried looking owl takes shelter on Tusk 80 miles from land


We lost quite a few days attending to faulty electronic equipment in Cyprus, three weeks getting treatment for an abscesses tooth, and another two weeks due to engine problems. So when we arrived in Tunisia at the end of October we decided to stay there for the winter. We intend to relax and catch up on aspects of our planning and preparations that were neglected in Cyprus when we were preoccupied with our repairs and our desire to get moving.


Boat Techs.

The Navstar Satnav we bought before leaving Cyprus did not provide much help with the navigation during the first year. In Larnaca we could not get the log/compass interface working until we discovered that the software installed was not compatible with the interface, despite the fact that they were purchased together. After fitting a new EPROM it worked for a day or two but then started switching itself off, then failed completely. The voltage regulator and several other components were burnt out. We took the boat to Limassol for the main agent to look at the installation. He could find no reason for the failure and replaced the main circuit board. The interface still did not work and the agent called the factory for advice. The fault was a small fuse that did not look like a fuse. The whole system worked fine for less than a day at sea, and then stopped receiving satellite passes again. Another day later we got the ‘antenna fail’ alarm on the display screen. Brian checked and remade the connections a number of times, changed the position of the antenna and still missed most of the satellite passes, sometimes only getting one fix a day. We decided to give up on the repairs, and return it to the factory for attention, next time we visited the UK. Meanwhile Brian’s sun sights and calculations using sextant and tables are becoming quite accurate, but that is not much help when its cloudy and no sights can be taken.


Passage: Cyprus To Crete.

8 Aug. Left Larnaca to sail to Crete in a South Westerly force 4. Found water level rising in the bilge, traced to the toilet siphoning water, fixed temporally but need new pipe.

9 Aug. Stopped in Limassol to fix a few problems

11Aug. Left Limassol for Crete. A very red sun rises on the dawn watch. We have boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast. There is plenty of traffic to keep us on our toes. Joyce’s toothache continues, but she enjoys reading “The Shell Seekers” in the cockpit. A large owl has taken refuge on our backstay, he looks a bit tired, what we need now is a pussycat.

13Aug. We change course to Rhodes to seek dental treatment. From 8:30 pm a lovely quiet sail, wind keeps steady. There are lots of passing ships, including a large sailboat. Brian takes over just as the wind is falling to 5 knots. Joyce looks forward to a lovely sleep even with the engine on, but it is not to be. Smoke pours from the engine and the temperature gauge is high. We turn it off. Wind dropped to nothing and the sail is flogging from side to side in the swell so it is still difficult to sleep.

14Aug. Joyce wakes up to find Brian trying to fix the engine. The water pump impellor is cracked, and water break box needs patching. We have no spares, but we manage to do a temporary repair with epoxy. The engine restarted without any problem, and we motored all day and night.

15Aug. We turned off the engine around 10 am. Had a nice sail all day. Around 4pm Brian turned on engine to find water pump failed completely. Try to improvise using an electric pump. Boat is in a mess with cockpit full with engine covers and main cabin in general disarray, with toolboxes all over the cockpit and cabin. Electric pump no good, too powerful and water spurts everywhere. We continue with sail alone but the wind dies.

16 Aug. We are hove to, and both of us are taking rest in our bunks. At 3am I hear wind and go outside. Yes its here. Brian sets sail, wind between 6 & 9 knots. It is quite a fine dry evening. I can smell land, the smell of trees. Later, lights on land spotted. Seven o’clock breakfast, sausage and egg. We cautiously approach the rocky shore, anchor under sail in Lindos harbour at 11:15 am. We bus to Rhodes city to clear customs and immigration and find a dentist.

17 Aug. We get up early, to Rhodes city by bus for a dental appointment. Abscess confirmed, at least two weeks required for course of treatment. Go to Camper & Nicholson’s, to order engine parts. We now relax and revive our memories of the shops & cafes within the old town fortress.

26 Aug. Brian climbs the mast four or five times in order to repair the Satnav antenna connections. We row to the beach to buy a snack pack of chips, hear someone shouting. Joyce recognises the girl coming closer, who was this, surprise, it is great to see Claire from Opus X, also Steve. After a long chat about why they were staying in Lindos instead of cruising on Opus X we invited them on board that evening.

27 Aug. Yacht Melody Maker invites us to join them for lunch/cruise with Greek friends. It is a very pleasant afternoon. Curry dishes, Fruits/ cake & tea and a swim. One friend has an artificial leg. Another friend was the sister of Vasula Ryden who seems to have some (in)credibility as a conveyance of the messages of god by means of handwriting directed by god. A book is to be published in the original handwriting.

29Aug. Still at anchor. Heard the sound of an engine that was definitely too close for comfort, looking through the window Joyce saw with horror it was a big Turkish charter boat. Events moved quickly. We both shot on deck but the other boat had dragged up our anchor chain and started towing us across the bay. He cut his engine and drifted back in our direction and hit us. Luckily it only gave us a soft bang but the damage was still a large chunk out of our bow. There was a lot of shouting. We negotiated a small sum to repair the damage.

2 Sept. Dental treatment finished. Today we are leaving Crete. Anchor comes up easy. Lovely afternoon good sail. Wind 26 knots at times, on the stern.

3Sept. Toast for breakfast. We had quite a nice day reading newspapers bought in Lindos. Many boats passing, Brian caught our first fish. We are off Crete by 7:30 pm. Beautiful evening, calm, sky changing colour blue to pink. A pink haze surrounds us, and it is getting darker by the minute. We catch the smell of herbs from the shore. At 11:30 pm we tie up at Sitia. It was exciting to enter a new harbour by night. Sitia had the loud sound of disco music and seemed much bigger than I thought. It was too late to explore; we were both too tired.

7Sept. At Ayos Nikolaos, we get going early. Fenders in, we are on our way to Spinalonga Lagoon and Leper Island, a short trip. Beat into the Lagoon, beautiful calm and interesting. We anchor off a small beach. We are invited on board Vesta, a 60ft Dutch yacht for drinks. This was the most beautiful yacht we have ever been aboard. The builders and owners Evert and Gunnie Verbera were like old friends. The inside gleaming, all polished teak, full size bath, generator, desalinator, bronze statue, it was awe inspiring relative to the simple facilities we had aboard Tusk.


Samara Ravine

It is said that many people visit Crete solely to hike through the famous Samara ravine. So we decided it was something we should not miss. We had to meet the bus at 7 am at the road near Rethimno harbour. The luxury coach took us all along the north coast to Souda, the navel base, and then turned sharply inland, towards the mountains and the Ormalos plateau. The road became narrower and steeper and the ends of the huge bus seemed to overhang the edges of shear drops as we negotiated tortuous bends on the wooded slopes of the mountain. We stopped briefly at Ormalos settlement for breakfast and then continued to the entrance of the ravine. The view down the mountain into the ravine was itself a thrilling experience as we negotiated the rough steps at the start of the decent. The steps finished and we were treading a rocky and gravel-strewn path. It was necessary to tread with care because a careless foot could easily slide on dust and stones. More than a few walkers had bloody knees and bruised limbs when they emerged the other end of the ravine. It was not a hot day, but the heavy breathing due to unaccustomed exercise soon made the mouth dry. It was a relief to find the first natural spring where we could refresh ourselves with cool mountain water. We walked a steady pace, which became heavier as the kilometres passed behind us, and the rest stops became a most pleasurable part of the journey. As we sat for a few minutes in the shade of a tree, or beside the river we watched the ‘conveyor belt’ of other tourists trekking down towards the sea. Half way through the ravine there is an abandoned village, where everyone stops and takes some refreshing spring water and some food if they bought any. There is no commercial enterprise allowed in the ravine, which is a national park. After the village is the most spectacular part of the ravine where it narrows to less than 4 meters. Throughout the ravine you could catch the smell of wood and aromatic flora, but the plant life was passed is best because it was autumn already. After covering about 18 kilometres the ravine opens up to the sea. There is a village but no roads. We have a meal, then catch a small ferry to Chora Sphaldan where we meet our bus to return, extremely tired, to Rethimno.


16 Sep Left Crete for Malta, a relitivley uneventful voyage of four days or so, with mainly light /moderate NE/NW winds, anchoring in Lazaretto Creak in Valleta Harbour Malta.


Gourmet Corner

After leaving Cyprus our first stop was Lindos in Rhodes. Our most enjoyable meal in Rhodes was aboard yacht Melody Maker where we had traditional Sri Lankan fare prepared by Assu. Ashore we liked a starter that consisted of aubergine and shrimp, and Joyce reckons the bag of chips obtainable from the kiosk on Lindos beach made life worth living.

In Crete, the food was typical Greek, but our main memories of the experience are of an awful ‘not quite cooked’ octopus leg in a taverna on the quayside of Rethimon, and some delightfully cheap and tasty calamari at a back road restaurant in the same town.

At Malta Lampuki was all the rage. This tasty seasonal fish that can often be bought cheaply in the market, is promoted as a local speciality fish at six times the price in the restaurants.


Lumpy Lampadusa

12 Oct. We left Malta under a dreary sky and a fitful wind. The engine overheated slightly again as we left harbour, but we soon had all sail up and were lolloping along at about 3 knots, and turned the engine off.

We investigated the engine problem but could not find any definite fault, and we missed the weather forecast. By nightfall Malta was out of sight, the wind was strengthening from astern, and the main and largest genoa was winged out. Joyce took the first watch and Brian turned in for some sleep. Two hours later Brian responded to an anxious call from Joyce to have a look. Tusk was going like an express train rolling from ear to ear with heavy spray all round and big black rollers heaving the stern first one-way and then the other. Brian’            s adrenalin level shot up as he precariously worked his way along the deck to remove the whisker pole and drop the Genoa. The speed of the boat did not alter. We put three reefs in the main before the speed dropped half a knot and Tusk felt under control once again.

We continued through the night with only the fully reefed main and no headsail. The sea was not a regular swell; it met at all angles and burst upwards like a fountain where waves collided. By midday next day we had the island of Lampadusa in sight. Approaching the harbour we put up the storm jib and started the engine. Ahead of us, two powerful steel fishing boats were going into harbour rolling on their beam ends as each wave swept across the harbour entrance.

With a feeling of blank despair, we watched our engine temperature gauge register higher and higher temperature until it was in the red zone. It was too dangerous to enter harbour in those conditions with an unreliable engine, so we turned out to sea again.

We sailed downwind until we reached the Western end of the Island then hove to. We were in no danger, just uncomfortable in the wild, confused seas. No reason for the overheating could be found, although sea conditions made any proper investigation difficult. We decided to stay hove to, fix first proper meal for that day and get some sleep. We had about 80 Nm to the Tunisian coast directly to the East and about 60 Nm (S/E) to the Kerkennah Banks. This gave us enough room to weather the storm, but without an engine it did not give us a comfortable margin. Our batteries were low; we turned off all instrumentation to save power for the navigation lights.

When it was light next morning we got breakfast out of the way and Brian estimated our drift during the night as 18Nm South. The wind has dropped to force 6 and was swinging towards the North, giving us a manageable but lumpy sea. We set course to beat back to Lampadusa under sail.

With the wind slowly dying we progressively increased our sail area but still only managed to average 3 knots into the wind and lumpy seas, and arrived off Lampadusa at dusk. Our actual drift the previous night must have been more like 25Nm at about 190 degrees true, which meant we had drifted 7Nm further than we thought we had the previous night. We sailed through the harbour entrance in perfect conditions. Inside, the wind died completely and we ran the engine for the last 200-meters to an anchorage off a beautiful sandy beach.

The last thing we remember of that day was opening our supply of Cyprus rum.

In Lampadusa we met Wolfgang who became our interpreter, sorting out some technical problems gratis. He then took us for ‘a lunch snack’, which turned out to be the most costly meal we had that year, but the Italian seafood was superb.


It was at Lampadusa that we reviewed our situation and decided that our boat was not really ready for a transatlantic crossing this year. We had a long list of jobs, unresolved engine problems and many small modifications we would like to incorporate to make the boat easier to handle and more comfortable to live aboard. We knew a few of our cruising friends and associates were now settling into Monastire Marina for the winter. So we decided to join them instead of pressing on.

18 Oct. Departed Lampaduca for Monastire, Tunisia. A short overnight passage of 85 Nm. Moderate Southerly wind at first so we motor sailed, the wind eased around to the SW and we shut the engine off early in the evening and sailed until Monastire was in sight and we tied up in Monatire Marina mid-day the next day.


Mediterranean Weather Summary

We covered just over 1100 nautical miles in the two and a half months cruising in our first year of live-aboard. In stable weather conditions in the eastern Mediterranean we tend to get no wind early in the morning, slowly rising wind during the day to a maximum late afternoon and a gradual falling off of the wind strength in the night. The wind direction also changes with the wind strength. This pattern is modified by cyclones and anti cyclones passing over or near the area, which can bring more steady and often stronger winds. Passage making is often very slow under sail alone and frequent use of the engine is normal for most Mediterranean cruisers. Because steady winds are rare, wind vane self-steering is frustrating to use; they need constant adjustment. Electric auto helms are the more practical choice. We had both, and mostly used the electric tiller pilot, and rarely steered by hand.

Summary of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To                  Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/kts


Jan/Aug           At Larnaca Marina, Cyprus

8/9Aug            Limassol                        45     18        6      Var1-12         Light winds, slow

11/16Aug        Lindos                         252     97      22      Var1-10         Mostly to windward

2/3Sep             Sitia                               23       7        1      Var1-22         Some strong westerlies

5Sep                Ay Nicolaos                   23       7        1      NW10-22      Rough sea, beating

7Sep                Elounda                         10       4        1      NW7-16        Sightseeing, Spinalonga

8Sep                Iraklion                          27       9        8      NW0-10        Little wind, motored

10Sep              Bali                                20       7        4      Var1-20         Mostly light variables

11Sep              Rethimnon                     17       7        4      W0-10           Windward, light winds

14Sep              Khania                           27       6        6      None              No wind, motored

16/21Sep         Valletta                        411   134      28      Var0-10         Easy sailing

12/14Oct         Lampadusa                  145     61        3      E4-30             Steep confused seas

19/20Oct         Monastir                        85     26      12      S-SW4-14      Light winds abeam

Chapter 3


The Quay – Christmas day, Monastir Marina

See ‘Christmas Boat Jinks’


Most yotties, especially those arriving from Europe seem to suffer some degree of 'culture shock' when they first arrive at a Tunisian port. It is very Arabic, Moslem, and has many of the manifestations of a poor and underdeveloped economy. The language is Arabic and French and practically no English is spoken. The cheap daily fresh food markets, and the happy friendly nature of the Tunisians more than compensate for the lack of luxuries like Fray Bentos steak pies.

The Marina Capitanerie did all possible to make our stay in Monastir Marina an enjoyable experience.


Safari, North Africa Style

Before Christmas we decided to go walkablout, but with a hire car. There were four of us Brian, Joyce, David from Yacht Zingarro, and Julie, David’s daughter. David and his wife had started off from Australia in Zingarro and this was their second winter in the Mediterranean & Julie was visiting for Christmas, having taken a short holiday from her career as a TV news reporter in Hong Kong. Because of Julies flights, and the impending Christmas festivities at the marina it was important that we got a 7 am start on the 20th December. By 9:30 am our reserved hire car had not materialised and it looked as though our safari would fail before it started. A frenzied pedal on the Bickerton bike up to Monastir town finally located an immediately available Avis hire car and by 10.30 am we were packing our cameras and light luggage into the boot for our three-day trip. To get to the main trunk road we drove south along the coast then westward. The narrow roads lined with hedgerows protecting mixed agricultural land and ploughed fields were reminiscent of England in the spring, although this was winter in Tunisia. On the Trunk road we quickly found why Tunisia is famous for olives, as we passed straight lines of olive trees that literally stretched as far as the eye could see. Our first stop was at El Jem to see the Roman Amphitheatre, built in AD230. After a coffee and sandwich we had a quick wiz around a couple of souvenir shops and were on our way again. We passed through the busy metropolis of Sfax without stopping. On the Golfe De Gabes we could see small lateen rigged fishing boats each worked by a solitary fisherman in a way unchanged in centuries. The further south we travelled the more dry the ground looked. Gradually it took the form of a stony desert and we left the olives trees behind. At Gabes we had a glimpse of our first desert oasis, but it was late and our objective of the day was to reach the Berber villages yet further to the South. Leaving Gabes we were quickly into the flat stony desert again, but as we approached our objective, the Berber settlement of Matmata the landscape changed as the road wound around and over plateaus of sun beaten eroded rock. We arrived at Matmata just before dusk. This village is famous for its 'pit' dwellings dug out of the valley floor. To create these dwellings it appears that a large hole is dug out of the earth, maybe 10-meter deep and 10-meter diameter. The soil from the hole is piled around the edge of the hole so that all that can be seen of the house from the ground nearby is a mound of earth. Off this hole in the ground they then dig caves, starting with a door size opening and then cutting out a room size cavity behind in the earth. Often two and sometimes three stories of rooms are built off the main hole. Originally access to these higher rooms was by means of rope but now they have steps. A tunnel is built for main access from the central courtyard to outside. Our hotel for that night was the Marhala, and was converted from several such houses into the hotel. The disco scene in the film Star Wars was filmed here. Our bedroom was on the second level with beds cut as alcoves into the wall with a mattress thereupon placed. It was whitewashed and spotlessly clean. One further small alcove provided a place to put our bag off the floor. Dim electric lighting was provided. We had an aperitif at the bar and dinner in the dining room, these rooms being similar in style to the bedroom. An unexpected bonus was a cabaret of traditional exhibition dancing and some fun dancing for the tourists, all to the rhythmic beat of drums and pipes played by musicians in the Tunisian national dress of the south. By contrast, our walk along the village road before bed was peacefully quiet and the stars provided enough light for us to know why they did not have streetlights. However walking the desert at night was no go due to the risk of falling down into a Berber cave dwelling. Next day, we drove to the nearby village of Haddej. When we arrived we were stopped on the road by a group of small boys who wanted to show us around a typical Berber pit dwelling. A fee of one dinar was negotiated and off we set down a narrow ravine. The house was no longer occupied but the Berber household items were laid out on display. There was a bed, a weaving loom, oil lamp, cooking utensils, pots, clothes, and even an old fashioned transistor radio. Next we were shown an old fashioned olive press, also an earth cave. A stone slab, fixed to an axle driven by presumably a camel, was used to crush the olives, and the olive flesh is finally squeezed under a huge palm trunk fixed horizontally in an adjacent chamber. Back in the car we pressed on back to Gabes to pick up the road to Kebili. We stopped in the market town of Kebili for lunch and sightseeing before taking the road across the Chott El Jerid. This vast landlocked salt lake is dry most of the year and is known for its oasis mirages. It was cool and late in the day as we crossed. The mirages were not co-operating but the vast glistening flatness of the oozing salt was impressive itself. After the Chott we passed through Tozeur, the principle town in the area, and took the road to Nefta that was to be our stop for the night. It was on the road between Tozeur and Nefta that we found our first sand dunes formed like huge rolling waves and we knew we were truly walking on the sands of the Sahara Desert. Nefta is built around a beautiful oasis and is one of the most important religious centres in Tunisia. The hotel we chose had the same name as the one in Matmata, but was a modern building of simple standards. Our guidebook gave a recommendation for a cafe hidden within the palm trees, so that was where we made for, for dinner. The directions were, go to the PTT building on the main road, turn left, then look for the locals sloping off into the oasis and follow them. Well, we found this restaurant, with some difficulty, and it had the appearance of a bootleggers den. Smokey, noisy and all male. We were the only tourists so we tucked the girls into a corner and we were tolerated. We had a fine meal and a bottle or two of wine, and left early enough to avoid witnessing any fights. Next morning we had a walk through the oasis, famous for its hot water stream that sent an almost continuous gush of steam into the air. The lush palms and dense undergrowth had a humid pungent smell and there were little plots of cultivation that the local farmers were preparing for the new growing season. Time was running out so we headed north at high speed, eventually to be stopped by the police for speeding, like a jet plane as he put it. He was astonished when we had a whip round to pay the 4 Dinar fine and waved us on without taking it. Gradually the stony desert gave way to prickly pear plants and olive trees, then to the cultivated fields. We stopped at Kairouan to see the huge mosque. We arrived at evening prayer time so we were unable to see inside. It was a black moonless night as we approached Monastir, and scores of horse driven carts were on the road taking their produce directly from the fields to the nearby markets. None of the carts carried lights so extreme care and slow progress was the order of the day. We eventually arrived back in Monastir tired and hungry. It had been a trip of unforgettable memories.


Christmas Boat Jinks

Ever since Brian had spent one Christmas in Arabia in a hotel with no TV or radio, and one bottle of home made beer to share between two, it is a time he faces with some uneasiness when he is away from home This year was quite different from that dreary experience. Organising 40 or 50 live aboards from about 7 different countries was no mean feat. But somehow organizers emerged and volunteer helpers lightened the load and against all odds a traditional Christmas of feast, fun and carols was arranged to celebrate the birth of Christ and the New Year.

The Marina helped by arranging delivery of duty free drinks, which could be consumed 'on board'. (Imported alcohol in Tunisia has very high duty and is too expensive for most yachts).

The Christmas Eve gathering was a barbecue held on the remains of the film set used for ‘A Life of Brian’, which is only a short walk from the Marina. It is a terrace with a stone table and a brick fire and walls around that are of the style of the time of Christ. We started at 2 pm Carols were sung, food was grilled on the charcoal, friendly Christmas greetings were given in many different languages. As it got cooler a bonfire was lit on the terrace below. In the setting sun we sung more carols and danced to the music of a Yamaha electric organ played by a friend we had known in Jeddah. After the wood ran out, all repaired to the Marina to partake of Christmas hospitality and duty free drink on offer on various boats.

On Christmas day tables were arranged along a concrete finger pier and boats organised in groups produced their own traditional dinner. In our case we cooked the turkey, an Aussie boat cooked the vegetables, and another boat produced the pudding and brandy sauce.

New Years Eve was fancy dress with dinner in a restaurant on the Marina, a disco and the usual New Year fun and games.



How Do We Spend Our Time

We spent about five months sheltering in Monastir Marina during the winter, and we are often asked how do we spend our time when we stop so long in one port.

Well no doubt about it, we have more leisure time. We used one month to fly back to the UK to visit friends and family, and purchase the sort of clothes and boat parts, which are not easily obtained in Tunisia.

We had odd days out to visit other towns and cities such as Tunis, the capital. We went to a local olive festival and we even spend a few hours on the beach when the weather was good enough, and Joyce played tennis with a friend off another yacht. We also socialized with other boats in the evening, much the same as we did with our friends when we were working. We read more books than we ever had a chance to in the past.

Living on a boat does not relieve you of routine domestic chores, so cleaning, washing, cooking, and shopping for fresh food is done daily. We eat out at restaurants about once a week. On Sunday, all the boats got together for a barbecue at lunchtime, and the preparation and socialising for this took up more or less the whole day.

The ‘Jobs List’ mostly dominated the other days. This is a list of maintenance items, improvements, equipment to be purchased, and tasks related to the organisation of the boat. The list was actually over two hundred items long but was quite manageable since it is kept on a computer database that can sort the jobs in various ways and provide updated lists in various categories. We could not afford to get all the equipment listed, so our budget constraints require that some jobs will be done in the future, and we did not consider those on a day-to-day basis. Of the jobs we could afford to do we have to consider the time required, whether we have the materials or they can be obtained easily. These factors push a few more jobs into next years list and the ones we could go ahead with kept us very busy for all the time we spent at Monastir. Typical jobs that were done are as follows. Top overhaul of the engine and new engine mountings, servicing the outboard motor, painting the boat name on various pieces of deck equipment, getting a wind/towing generator functioning, fixing gas and water leaks, repairing leaky toilets extending a spinnaker pole track, and many other smaller jobs.


Gourmet Corner

We found Tunisian food quite interesting and tasty, and eating out was relatively inexpensive. Dishes we reckoned were distinctively Tunisian are the Brik, the Ojja, and Couscous.

The Brik is a very thin round of pastry, into which is placed a raw egg seasoned with salt pepper and fresh parsley. The pastry is folded over and fried in oil. The result is a crispy coat around a poached egg. Various fillings, usually seafood are used for variation. Westerners will tackle a Brik with a Knife and fork but really it should be eaten with the fingers so that you can slurp soft egg out of the crispy envelope.

 The Ojja is usually a hors d'oeuvre. In its basic form it consists of pimentos in small pieces, fried in oil with seasonings of tomato paste, harissa, caraway, garlic and salt. Into this mixture two raw eggs are stirred and cooked a few more minutes, then four more eggs are placed on top. When the eggs are set the Ojja is ready. It is hot and spicy and has a consistency softer than an omelette, but is eaten with just a fork and pieces of bread. Variations include additions such as thin slices of hot spicy sausages. The Harissa mentioned in the seasoning is a paste made from red chillies.

Couscous based meals are main course meals. Couscous itself is a cracked wheat/semolina base looking something like breadcrumbs. Special cooking pots are used, a thick bottomed stew pot with a steamer, which fits neatly on top, and has a tight fitting lid. It is a bit dodgy on a gimballed yacht stove, since the weight and height of the pots makes the whole rig a bit unstable. Pieces of seasoned meat are fried with onion in the bottom pot then topped up with tomato paste, a few chickpeas, and water. Later vegetables are placed on the meat and the steam from all this is used to cook the couscous in the steamer above. When cooked, the couscous is moistened with the sauce from the stew and served as bedding on which the stew is placed. It is delicious.




Chapter 4


The engine, Tusk’s archilies heel.



Anchors Aweigh.

We visited some lovely anchorages after leaving Monastir. Places like Carloforte, Bosa, Alghero, Cala Del Bollo, Reparta Bay Cape Testa, Pink Beach Budelli Island, Cala Galdana, Cala Turqueta, Calla Degollador, and Calla Blanes to name just a few. These places remain hazily in the memory as places of swimming and sunbathing and drinks, or a meal ashore in some small restaurant, or a walk in the country amongst the wild flowers and trees. Places that remain sharper in the memory are those where some ‘incident’ took place.

In Carloforte we were anchored by the bow with stern lines to the town quay. There were two boats to windward of us and two to leeward. At four o'clock in the morning we were woken by commotion and shouting beside us, and we scrambled into tracksuits to go on deck and see what was going on. The wind had increased a lot during the night. A German boat to windward had his anchor pull out, and drifted against the French boat next to us. The French boats anchor also broke out and we had to fend off whilst both of them tried to get clear of the quay and under way. The French boat caught his keel on our chain and, it looked as if we would have our anchor tripped but it held and the French boat eventually managed to get free. One of the crew of the boats had gone ashore to untie the stern ropes, and was been left behind. So we invited her on board Tusk to shelter from the biting wind until she could get aboard her own boat, but climbing over our stern she broke our self-steering wind vane. Her boat launched a rubber dinghy and managed to get her back on board again, but by daybreak Tusk was the only boat still tied secure on the quay.

At Pink Beach on Budelli Island we arrived whilst the cove was crowded with day-tripper boats and anchored in the only spot available. We had the anchorage to ourselves after they had gone, and had a swim and barbecue on the beech. There was just a light breeze when we went to bed. At breakfast time, an already strong wind was blowing stronger each minute. At the first bite of our toast it was clear that our anchor was dragging, and there was not much room to the rocks behind us. The toast was left to go cold whilst we scrambled to start the engine and haul up the anchor. We re-anchored further out from the bay to tidy up the boat, finish breakfast and get the dinghy aboard so that we could move to a safer anchorage. Clearly we should not have been lulled by the benign conditions the night before and should have reset our anchor after the day boats had gone and gave us more room. If the wind had increased in the night while we were sleeping we have been bumping the rocks before we woke up.

We arrived at Mallorca late in the afternoon having had a windward sail all the way across from Menorca. There were several small cala’s (coves) that we could use to anchor for the night. We chose Caleta De Font Saldada. By the time we anchored the strong wind that brought us there had died to a light offshore breeze. Two other boats anchored about half a mile away weighed anchor, and sailed out of the bay. It seemed odd that they should leave at that time, but we thought nothing more about it. The sky was clear but the boat was restless at its anchor and we did not sleep well. At 3 am in the morning it was obvious that a dramatic change in the weather was in progress and the wind had changed direction and was strengthening. We were now on a lee shore. Ominous black clouds could be seen against the moon and no discussion was necessary between us to decide we had to move out of our anchorage immediately, we would otherwise be in danger of being driven ashore. It was blowing 25 knots and seas were building up around us whilst we made ready for sea. We weighed anchor in the darkness with some difficulty, and motored out to sea in 30 knots of wind. It was about 3 hours of full ahead motoring into near gale force headwind and rising seas and pitch black conditions before we rounded a nearby headland. We then set a jib to take us downwind with plenty of sea room in front of us. We then had time to think about the other two yachts that had moved off that evening, they may have had a weather forecast and knew what was developing. We were relieved the engine performed so well at night. We used the strong wind for a rapid passage to Palma and after starting the engine on the approach to Palma it over heated. Conditions were pleasant enough by then to trace the problem to the thermostat bypass and did a temporary fix. We were thankful the engine had not let us down earlier at 3 am.


Extracts from Joyce’s Journal, Monastir to Mahon.

27 April 1990. The start of this years voyage. After 6 months in Monastir it was quite hard to say goodbye especially to our very good friends. We leave to the sound of horns and quite a few waving arms, a sad day.

4 May. Up very early, beautiful weather for the sail to Sidi Bou Said. We have not left harbour long when we realise our neighbour, 'My Pleasure', are also are going our way. We both hoist spinnakers. We enjoy the race very much as we have not really met each other yet. They were stopped by a Tunisian patrol boat, but not for long, they had their documents checked and were allowed to carry on. In Sidi harbour, we enjoy a glass of wine together on Tusk, and later we enjoy a meal at a restaurant together.

15May, Leave this morning for Algero, Looking forward to this place very much. When we arrive we are not disappointed. We find a lovely spot on the town quay and drop our anchor and tie the stern to the quay. The shops are manifique, including Benetton, but the prices are high. Buy a shopping bag and a frying pan from Standa supermarket. After dinner we walk along the Corniche.

18 May. We spend the day in Calla Del Bollo, Sardinia. Beautiful walk to see Neptune’s Grotto. On the way back pick lovely bunch of spring flowers. Sunbathe on a little jetty and swim, beautiful day. Later return for barbeque equipment and have potato, salad and steak barbeque on the shore, yum it was delicious.

1 June. On passage Bonifacio to Mahon, I had the dawn breaking watch. Later breakfast, toast and marmalade. At about 10.30 am, notice something in the distance, red white and blue. We change course to get a closer look, and then discover it is balloons, but what are they doing in the water? Brian retrieves them, just what I always wanted, a bunch of balloons. The mystery unravelled, the balloons are part of the French Revolution Anniversary. Attached to them are tags with names and addresses and a request to report where and when found. There's great excitement as we peel apart the wet little bundle of papers. All have different handwriting of school children. Twenty little tags are separated and dried. The address is a small French town 160 kilometres north of us. We post them to the school with a letter when we get to Mahon.


Lynda's Holiday.

Lynda is Joyce’s sister and was joining us for her first sailing holiday. We chose Menorca because it is small enough to sail around at a leisurely pace in two weeks without having to cover the same ground twice. It has many bays and harbours so you do not have to sail long distances between anchorages. If the weather turned bad it would not be many hours sailing to a safe harbour.

We were hit again by the jinx we seem to have whenever we make arrangements with other people. The day before Lynda was due to arrive we needed to fill our water tanks. To do this we had to move to another quay where there was a supply of drinking water. The weather was rather nasty, with very strong squalls. We got to the other quay and loaded the water with no trouble, but the wind was rapidly increasing in strength. We made our way back to our original quay and headed in towards our berth, but we were going much too fast because of the strong wind pushing us from the stern. A little too late, Brian put the engine sharply into full reverse to slow down. We continued rather too fast, but fortunately, there was someone on the quay to take a rope, and he had the presence of mind to fix it quickly on a bollard. We came to an ungainly stop, without running into the vessel ahead, or doing any damage, or so we thought at the time.

Lynda arrived on Friday afternoon 6th June. We looked around Mahon town and had a barbeque in the evening. Saturday we got our fresh stores from the market, had a lunch snack, got the boat ready to go to a small Cala only a few miles from Mahon. The weather was ideal for a first sail. The engine was started, we cast off the ropes and Joyce gave us a gentle push off the quay. Brian put the engine in gear and the engine revs increased but we still just drifted, the propeller was not turning. We continued drifting off the quay downwind and out into the channel with no control while Brian urgently looked for the problem. He found the prop shaft had sheared at the gearbox coupling. It must have happened the day before when we were getting water. Joyce dropped the anchor quickly before we drifted right into the main channel. Anchored we contemplated the problem of getting back to the quay. We launched our dinghy, sorted out two very long ropes and took one end across to the shore and hauled ourselves back to the quay using the winches. It was hard work but we got back into a berth without further drama.

Brian then rushed off to see if one of the local repair yards could help. It was Saturday afternoon and every yard was either closed or was not interested in looking at the job until after the weekend. Brian was depressed and morose mood at the unbelievable timing of this latest breakdown; and preoccupied with working out all possible ways to get a repair done in the next few days and salvage the sailing holiday. On Sunday, Joyce and Lynda took a bus to Punta Prima beach whilst Brian removed the coupling and studied the catalogues to see where we could get spare parts, if they were not available locally.

On Monday, Brian started up communications with two local repair agents and a specialist stern gear supplier in the UK. One of the local agents was non-starter, too much work on to look at the job. The other company was willing to try but the problem was that our prop shaft was imperial standard and only metric parts were in stock in Menorca. The U K company came up with several solutions (a day of expensive faxes and phone calls), and before end of business that day we placed an order for parts to be air freighted on an urgent basis.

The parts were ready for shipment the next day and things were looking good, but the shippers let us down badly. The goods were shipped several days late and were then stuck in Barcelona. We had to employ an agent in Mahon to get the goods from Barcelona to Mahon. They arrived less than 24 hours before the end of Lynda's holiday. The parts always looked as if they could arrive in a day or two but the hassle of chasing the shippers day by day detracted much from the holiday spirit.

Instead of our cruise we bussed out to a few different callas for sunbathing and swimming, we visited Ciudadela at the other end of the island. We hired a car for three days and saw a lot of the coast and most of the interior of the island. We found one lovely cala on our car trip and decided we would go back there for a relaxing day out but when we got there we found a giant earthmover charging up and down the beach, huge pipes laying in the sea and the sea dirty with sludge

We spotted an interesting harbour trip with commentary given by an English lady, but when we took the same trip we got a Spaniard with a strong accent that was hardly comprehensible.

Lynda was bitten by some unidentified insect, which caused large blisters, and got heat rash from the unaccustomed heat and sun. The holiday bad luck did not end when Lynda went home. When we unloaded Joyces camera to take the holiday film for processing we found the camera had jammed. When the film was processed there was nothing on it. It must have failed to engage when it was loaded. Brian overpaid the shipping agent that delivered the spares and sprained his foot on his way back after collecting the cash. Lynda did not have the sailing holiday we expected. It would have been different if the prop shaft had not sheared, but boating is an unpredictable business.


Boat Techs

The Navstar Satnav was by this time working well. At Monastir Brian had moved the antenna to the stern rail and installed a new cable. It then gave regular position fixes. The interface with the log and fluxgate compass also worked well and kept quite a good DR between satellite fixes.

Obtaining weather forecasts was a problem. There are no Navtex broadcasts in the west Mediterranean at the time so we tried to pick up SSB transmissions from coastal radio stations with a Sony ICF-7600D5 receiver, but the sensitivity was just not good enough. We realised we needed to buy a good single sideband communications receiver, but they were rather expensive.

Our Kestral alternator/generator was returned to the manufacturer for repair when we were in Monastir, and we had some difficulty communicating with them. The manufacturer went into liquidation with our unit in the factory and we only learned about this when we were in Spain. The liquidator could not find our unit; it was most likely sold to a company that bought all the machinery and parts from the liquidator. We did not have time to pursue a claim against the liquidator for the lost equipment, so the money spent on this expensive piece of equipment was completely wasted.


Summary Of Tusks Log.


Date                Passage To                  Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/kts


20Oct/27Apr   At Monastir, Tunisia.


27Apr              El Kantaoui                   13       4        3      SE3-5            Very light wind

29Apr              Beni Khiar                     33     10        4      E/6-17            Good sail, but dull and Overcast

2May               Keliba                            32     11        3      E/6-17            Sheltered from gale at Beni Khiar

4May               Sidi Bou Said                56     13        9      Var0-6           Mostly no wind

7-9May           Carloforte                    169     44      36      Var0-8           Light variables, motored

13May             Cap San Marco              47     11      10      NW0-8          Very little wind, motored

14May             Bosa                               29     10        6      NW10-12      Mainly light winds again

15May             Alghero                          31     10        7      NW2-9          Motor sailing to windward

17May             Cala Del Bollo               12       5        0      WSW8-10     Good sailing, beautiful anchorage

19May             Stintino                          34     12        9      NE-NW/2-10 A smart expensive marina

20May             Castle Sordo                  23       6        6      Var4-12         Motored all the way

22May             Rossa Island                    9       3        3      NE0-12          Peaceful anchorage

23May             Castle Sardo                  17       4        2      NE20             Headwind, engine overheated

24May             Reparta Bay                   30       9        4      SW-SE/0-10  Attractive coastline

25May             Porto Pozzo                   14       4        4      SW14-30       Strong headwind, took shelter

27May             Budelli Island                  6       2        2      NW10            Anchored at pink beach, lovely

28May             Bonifacio                       13       3        2      NE15-20        Very impressive harbour

30May             Mahon                         193     76      31      N-E-SE/1-15 Light winds, slow passage

23Jun              Calla Lazaret                   2       1        1      NE5               Quiet anchorage, went swimming

25Jun              Mahon                             2       1        1      Var0-5           Last mail collection + groceries

27Jun              Calla Latzeret                  2       1        1      NE4               Resting sprained foot

29Jun              Calla Porter                    11       3        3      SE5-15          Mostly very light wind

30Jun              Calla Galdana                12       5        2      W10-14         Headwind, engine overheated

1Jul                 Calla Turqueta                 2       1        0      NE20-15        Sailed with headsail only

2Jul                 Calla Degolladur             5       2        2      S3-9               Quiet but built up Calla

3Jul                 Ciudadela                        1       1        1      Var0-5           Busy, noisy, attractive harbour

4Jul                 Calla Blanes                     1       1        1      S6                  Nice beach, pleasant area

5Jul                 Cfont Saldana               24       7        3      SW-S/10-23   Nice sail, but to windward

6Jul                 Port Palma                     61     17        5      NE10-30        Mostly strong winds

10Jul               Calla Portals Valls         16       8        4      SE0-10          Popular Calla with three beaches








Chapter 5


The catamaran under tow.

See ‘Tusk Saves Catamaran from Jaws Of Death’


Passage, Palma to Gibraltar.

10 Jul. We leave Palma harbour and spend last day in Mallorca at anchor in Puerto Sol de Mallorca. Again, a beautiful beach with restaurant, anxious about wind direction and strength but no problem.

12 Jul. We arrive Santa Etilalia at 11 am. A charming holiday resort that becomes one of my favourite stops.

13/l9 Jul. Eat out several times at Caesars Pub, best Sangria and gammon pineapple and chips in town. We also try "Daphers", another good restaurant run by husband (French) and wife from Antrim Rd Belfast. In the winter they lease a restaurant in Andorra. Joyce gets involved in stopping a beach football fight between two 11-year-old girls tearing each other’s hair out. We visit Ibiza town by bus, we tour around the Citadel and Brian has his haircut.

22 Jul. We arrive at Garrucha at 8pm on a local holiday. Funfair at the other end of the pontoon. Lots of fish restaurants, we survey all of them and then go back to the first one. On way back to Tusk stop off for a try on the trampoline and the dodgem cars. 27 Jul. At Motril. Up early in order to visit Grenada. More than one hour on the bus. The city is disappointing but the old town, the Alhamra and the gardens are beautiful. We have drinks with small plates of tapas (bar snacks) when we get back to Motril late in the evening.

28Jul. Very rainy day, wear waterproofs. Up early to shop at the supermarkets in Motril. Have fun in the meat section where we discover you have to take a ticket and wait for you number to be called (in Spanish!!).

29Jul. We catch up with all the washing, good facilities, and water tap at Tusks bow.

30 Jul. Cast off at l0am and go to the fuel quay only to find we would have to wait until 2pm for fuel We are low on fuel but chance it and sail to Marina Del Est to refuel. Very smart looking marina with attractive housing development. At 11.40pm we arrive at Benalmadena marina and drop anchor outside. Uncomfortable swell and noisy anchor chain all night.

31 Jul. We move into the marina. We get a bus to Malaga; have lunch in alleyway café, good bread, good wine and plate of grilled prawns serenaded by Spanish street guitarist- very enjoyable.

1 Aug. Benalmadena and by 5pm reached Puerto Jose Banus, checked out the price-275OPsts per night, we immediately move on and at 8pm reach Estepona Marina. We have a very memorable meal on board the English Fish And Chip Ship at the end of our pontoon.

2 Aug. Walk into Estepona town to find bus to Ducluesa. Not impressed with Estepona town. Bus bypasses Duquesa and we find we are in LaLinea. Not impressed with it either. Return home and leave port 5:3Opm. 2 hours later at Cala Sardina. Ashore some tents & campers, looks a nice beach.

3 Aug. At about 3am woken by banging on hull and loud voices, at first think it must be the campers just having a prank. No it’s the police checking up.

4 Aug. 8am and we are off to Gibraltar. We have to go a couple of miles out to round fishermen’s nets strung out from the shore. One fishing boat gives us hassle as we go too near a net we cannot see. It’s very gusty as we get into Gibraltar Bay. Arrive at Marina Bay at 12.30 noon. Several Naval ships in port and warplanes taking off.

10 Aug. We are lifted back into the water we get a mooring rope around our prop on the way to our berth. Grahame of Lady Be Good joins us in his dinghy to offer assistance. We get it sorted out and berth beside Lady Be Good.

15 Aug. Celebrate Assu's birthday by a lovely meal at Gibraltar Casino compliments of David.


Tusk Saves Catamaran From jaws Of Death.

Our headline might be slightly exaggerated but we did save a small cruising catamaran from an embarrassing predicament. The day did not start well for us, we were tired because a noisy disco on the beach near our anchorage at Aimerimar had kept us awake most of the night. Our next stop was planned to be Porto Motril, some 40 miles west. At breakfast the wind came up as usual but from the west, promising a slog against one of the few strong currents in the Mediterranean.

The weather forecast from Monaco Radio promised winds 5 to l5 knots locally 20 knots with Westerly prevailing. We considered a shorter trip to Puerto Adra but decided against this and resigned ourselves to a day of motoring against a headwind to get to our preferred port of Motril.

We set off across a huge bay about 30miles wide and the atmosphere was filled with a heavy haze that blotted out both the land and the sun. The wind quickly rose to 20knots and continued strengthening, by midday it was 25 knots and gusting much higher. The sea was rough and although our dead reckoning position was advancing across the chart at a respectable pace, the Satnav gave another story and showed us well behind our estimated position. The difference was the strength of the adverse current pushing us back.

The engine was put into full ahead and we hammered into the waves while we discussed what we would eat ashore that night. Lobster was mentioned but Brian settled on Steak and Kidney pie and Joyce on pork chop in the interests of economy. By 4.3OPM we still had 15 miles to go and we ran out of fuel. We transferred our emergency supply of fuel to the tank and got under way again; the wind was now blowing 25 to 30 knots.

At about 6 pm. we still had about 10 miles to go when we saw a small cruising catamaran drifting with its sails down and the two occupants furiously waving lifejackets at us, this is an official distress signal. We closed in on them and found they had a broken rudder, and were drifting helplessly. The noise of the wind, the waves and the engine made communication rather difficult. They had a VHF handheld but it did not seem to work We offered to take them in tow, they indicated they did not have any suitable rope so we provided the tow rope and then set off inshore with the Cat in tow.

We hoped to find an anchorage and stay there until the wind abated. Cala Honda would have provided some shelter but as we closed on the coast we could not see any prominent features that would have identified it. We guessed we were to the east of the cove and therefore down wind of it. The anchorage that we were closing was in fact a recognised anchorage for big shps but gave very little shelter from the westerly wind. So we consulted with the Catamaran and reluctantly decided to turn back the way we had come to Adra, now about 15 miles to the east. It was about 8 pm. by this time. The haze was clearing as the sun went down. With the wind and current behind us the motion of the boat was easy, our speed against the shore was good. We set a Genoa for this downhill run. We gave up any idea of a meal ashore and prepared pork and potato hash for dinner.

At about 10.30 pm it was properly dark and we identified the Adra lighthouse on the shore. As we closed the shore we slowed down until we identified first the red port hand harbour entrance light and then the green starboard light. With the Catamaran towing on our starboard quarter we cautiously rounded the end of the breakwater and entered the smooth waters of the harbour. We were going to anchor the Catamaran in the middle of the harbour but they were not happy with this because they did not have a dinghy, so we had a tricky time getting them alongside the quay under tow. After this we went out to the middle of the harbour to anchor amongst the other yachts, but the wind was still very strong and our anchor dragged instead of digging in. We were very tired and before we got organised our stern had fallen back onto the chain of another yacht and their anchor chain caught under our wind vane rudder. The other yacht had to slacken his chain to allow us to get free and we anchored again. This time our anchor set properly and we were at last at rest. It had been a long day.


Tusk boarded at 3am.

We spent the day of 2nd August in Estepona marina on the Costa Del Sol. Brian wanted to be in Gibraltar by next morning so proposed an overnight sail. Joyce did not want to sail all night so we compromised. We would sail part way in the evening, anchor overnight, and continue early next morning.

Our overnight anchorage was Cala Sardinia. Not a proper Cala, more a dent in the coast, which gave shelter from the north and partly from the east. It was a nice spot, no restaurants ashore, just some tent campers on the beach. We had dinner at anchor, a couple of drinks in the cockpit as the sun went down and turned in early so that we would get a good rest and rise early next morning. As often happens on these open anchorages the wind died and a swell came in making Tusk roll uncomfortably, and making it difficult to sleep.

It seemed we had just dropped off when Joyce woke and was shaking Brian awake, whispering in his ear that she heard voices outside. Brian then heard the voices and a boat bumping against the hull. Brian dived into a pair of trousers and made for the main hatch shouting in an aggressive a voice, "Who’s there? What do you want?". Brian had thought perhaps the campers on shore might have been drunk, and thought they would come aboard for a bit of fun. But instead three burly men dressed like Fidel Castro’s freedom fighters, complete with guns, confronted him. After a few words, with Joyce in the background urging, "don’t let them on board", Brian found they were the Spanish Frontier Police.

He invited them into the cockpit, they were friendly but we had a language problem. They had come from a large battleship about 1 Nm offshore the investigate us. We just had to fill in a couple of forms and after a half hour they left. We breathed a sigh of relief.


Rock of the Apes.

Gibraltar was a special place, marking the exit (for us) from the Mediterranean Sea. We were only intending to spend a week or two there to complete some essential jobs for our planned Atlantic crossing. We were trapped by the good facilities, availability of yacht chandlery, the British food at reasonable prices, the English bitter beer, and the very British way of life preserved in this outpost of our old empire. These may not seem good reasons to our friends in Britain who would like to get away from these things, but we have been away long enough to miss them. We stayed in Gibraltar for 34 days, and only one and a half days was spent sightseeing, the rest of the time we were working on Tusk.

We got a berth in Marina Bay on Friday and contacted Sheppard’s Marina for a lift out. The Saturday was taken tip with finding our way around, getting in touch with repair agents, sending letters and so on. Sunday was Joyce’s birthday so we had a good excuse to drop all our chores and have a good time sight seeing, eating and drinking. First thing we did was to make for the cable car. It does stop half way up at the 'Apes Den' but we went straight to the top with the intention of walking all the way down. The views were spectacular but we had a heavy haze, which detracted somewhat from the magnificence of the panorama.

From the cable car we walked further upwards to near the place marked as the highest point of the Rock, then we started our long slow decent, arriving before long at our next objective, St Michaels Cave. This is a complex natural cavern with a number of halls and levels filled with stalactites and stalagmites, some of which were of enormous proportions and must have taken millions of years to form.

Outside the Caves there was a pleasant snack bar and we had a jumbo size grilled sausage and a drink before continuing our plod downhill to the Apes Den. As we approached the area we saw a few apes but also found girl in a slightly shocked and distressed state, who had been bitten and scratched by one of the apes for no apparent reason. The Apes themselves were fascinating but with a shifty side to their character. We bought an ice cream each and a packet of sliced cucumber on sale for feeding the Apes. With ice cream in one hand and the bag of cucumber in the other I strolled out of the shop and in moments one of the largest apes came bounding towards us and made a grab for the cucumber. I was too quick for him and swung it above my head and out of his reach as he passed. I was so startled to find him bounding towards me again in a fierce and determined manner that I decided discretion was the better part of valour, and lobbed the cucumber to a safe distance away and it was pounced on by the big ape. He took to a tree and started eating the goodies, keeping one eye on me at the same time.

Joyce was having a good laugh at my expense when another big ape bounded towards her. Alarmed, she suddenly realised it was after the ice cream she was holding and threw the ice cream towards the Ape. The Ape picked it up and started eating it with a rather disdainful look on its face. In contrast to these bullies, there were really cute mother and baby pairs and family groups and we stayed there taking photos and trying to make friends with the Apes for a couple of hours.

Eventually we continued on our way down the hill until we reached the town. We walked through the Alameda Gardens, and stumbled upon the Trafalgar Cemetery. Many of the combatants of the famous Battle of Trafalgar were buried in this cemetery. We spent a fascinating half hour going around reading their poignant epitaphs on the headstones. They were certainly hard times as not only battle, but also disease took so many young and hopeful lives.

We finished the day in our favourite pub for dinner before we returned to Tusk, tired but happy with our day's trek.

The rest of our stay in Gibraltar is just a blur of work and preparations for our planned transatlantic crossing. Tusk was lifted out of the water for cleaning and antifoul. Equipment was repaired or replaced, many jobs we were putting off were done because of the availability of parts in Gibraltar. When we left Gibraltar we were in really good shape.


Boat Techs.

As mentioned before, anyone thinking of giving up work to have a life of leisure on a yacht had better think again. We work harder, longer hours on Tusk than we ever did in a 9 to 5 job, and we are not paid for it. Our stay in Gibraltar was probably a bit exceptional in this respect because we were preparing Tusk for the Atlantic crossing.

First priority at Gibraltar was to haul out to antifoul. Tusk is scraped of barnacles, and scrubbed clean. Loose paint must be removed and the rough patches smoothed down. We then put masking tape along the waterline, (raising the waterline 2cm because we were low in the water due to the weight of stores /equipment carried), and put on two coats of antifoul paint with a third coat along the waterline. We put anodes on the bilge keels as protection against electrolytic corrosion. The position of the prop shaft was adjusted; it had been difficult to get it back into the proper position whilst in the water after our repair in Mahon. In five days we were back in the water again.

Engine alignment was checked and was all correct. We took the VHF radio for repair, also our steering compass, and took the life raft in for service. A new mainsail we had from the UK had the luff too long so the headboard was shortened. More experienced long distance cruisers said we should have a ‘rain catcher' for when fresh water was in short supply, so we made a 'rain catcher'. We had a spare vane made for the Aeries self-steering and a drawer rebuilt to take our big Times Atlas, which had been difficult to store. With our Kestral alternator/generator system now defunct and Kestral gone out of business we needed something better than our old alternator. Nothing suitable could be found in Gibraltar so we bought a reconditioned car alternator and a TWC smart regulator as a stopgap. This did not work at first, but Brian found the alternator field coil was short-circuited. This was sorted out and all then worked well, but several days wasted on this job.

The engine was serviced, and one starter relay had to be replaced. The thread stripped on the fuel filter and a helix thread had to be fitted, gaskets were leaking so these were remade. The plastic outlet pipe of the toilet was replaced due to stress cracks. We installed an extra manual bilge pump that can be operated inside the boat, a long overdue safety measure. We had a go at sealing small leaks in the fore hatch and chart table window. We tried to loosen up the Aeries self steering which is now rather too stiff. Our teak rubbing-streak was repaired where we had taken a bang. The hatch in the cockpit floor was resealed with rubber strip. Rigging was checked and the backstays were replaced using insulators so that they could be used as a radio antenna. We cleaned everything.

We did lots of shopping including about six trolleys of food and drink. Finally we bought an HF radio transmitter, known as a ham radio. It covers 100KHZ to 30MHZ. It has worldwide transmitting capability in the right conditions as distinct from marine VHF, which is only line of sight transmission. The set must be used in a responsible manner and only used to transmit on frequencies for which you are licensed. Brian had a marine Restricted Radio Licence, but it was very desirable to have a ham radio licence. So, he started to study for his Amateur Radio License, with no clear idea of when he would have a chance to take the necessary exams. Before we bought our set, various friends with ham radio had mentioned how useful it had been but we did not really appreciate the full value of the facility to a cruising yacht until it was installed.

For example there is a ham maritime net controlled from the UK twice a day. They cover the whole of the Mediterranean, and the eastern Atlantic, giving weather forecasts for all the different areas, logging daily the position of yachts on passage, and facilitating contact between yachts on the move, passing messages, information and advice. The weather forecast is invaluable and is often the only weather information we can pick up in the English language. Similar nets exist all along the trade winds routes. Groups of boats on passage that are only a few hundred miles apart use marine band frequencies to keep in touch with one another. We can now ask yachts ahead of us what weather or harbour conditions are like and what are the best places to visit. SSB shore-side marine radio stations can be received clearly and we could contact them in an emergency.


Gibralter to Vilamoura

5 Sep. We leave Gibralter but quickly find we have a couple of problems. The aternator was not charging and the fuel filter was leaking badly. We turn back and anchor in Gibralter Bay. Problems fixed and we leave the next morning.

6 Sep. In light winds and strong tides we are carried onto an invisible underwater wreck and we hear our bilge keel clunk on steel superstucture. We power the engine to escape and are releived when we realize we are clear of danger.

7 Sep. We arrive at Vilamoura Marina at 9pm.


Paul and Ruth’s Villa on the Algarve


The Algarve Interlude.

Friends who we used to race with in the Red Sea Sailing Association in Jeddah were established in business on the Portuguese Algarve. Being near to our route, we dropped them a line, and by return we received an invitation to visit. Our friends were Paul and Ruth Loughlin and Graham and Maggie Fone. We arrived at Vilamoura Marina on a Friday night and by Saturday afternoon we were all in the cockpit reminiscing of happy times we had in Jeddah racing our Lasers and barbecuing on the beach.

Paul and Ruth insisted that we should go back to their villa that night and stay with them, such an offer we could not refuse. We threw a few things into a bag, and we were on our way. When we arrived at the Villa, Paul was at great pains to explain that it was not his. It was the 'luck of the Irish' that he had been offered a four year lease by a family returning to Britain to complete their children’s education.

No rent was charged, but instead all maintenance costs and local property tax had to be paid, and the owner's gardener and part time maid had to be employed. For the price of renting a modest small villa Paul and Ruth had a spacious and architecturally interesting villa with a large swimming pool and set on a wooded hillside with considerable grounds all around, and servants. The windows had a delightful rural outlook in all directions and a glimpse of the sea over the cliffs in the far distance. The trees were productive olives figs and carob, and some lemon and orange. The kitchen garden around the villa had melons, tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes, garlic, courgettes, aubergines, cabbage, asparagus, carrots, parsnips, grapes and an abundance of fresh flowers. Livestock included about a dozen chickens, two dogs and three cats.

We met the brood, Lynsey and Rebecca of the Loughlins, Daniel and Matthew of the Fones, then all of us had a Chinese take away feast and talked well into the night. Next day, we all went to a beach near Portimao and spent much of the afternoon playing beach cricket then dined on local dishes called Cataplan (sausage, ham and seafood stew) and Caiderado (rice with prawn). The next two days we spent back on Tusk in order to get a few chores done, but on Wednesday Ruth and Maggie bought the kids to Tusk. Brian took them for a row around the marina in our dinghy and afterwards we all piled into Maggie’s jeep and back to the Loughlins for a curry dinner prepared by Maggie. The evening was spent showing video film of our last Christmas at the Red Sea Sailing Association in Jeddah, and our winter on Tusk in Tunisia.

The next few days were lazy days for us, lying by the pool, visits to the local town, a dental appointment for Joyce, car rides to view the beautiful beaches, a walk along the cliffs, a restaurant, a pub, and the overwhelming hospitality of the Loughlins. On Saturday we went sightseeing and had a Peri Peri chicken dinner, leaving Paul and Ruth just enough time to pick up family guests from the airport after dropping us at Tusk. We found the Algarve the best value for food and drink since Cyprus.

The area seemed quite unspoilt and the Portuguese seem to have the planning rules in place to keep it that way. The coast is a series of sandy bays and coves and inland is wooded and green. Graham and Paul and another partner, a local estate agent, seem to have the ideal mix of skills for property development in the area and have several villas under construction


Vilamoura to Porto Santo

From Vilamoura in Portugal to Porto Santo in the Archipelago du Madeira is about 47O nautical miles. If we had a good passage it could be done in less than five days, but our experience of winds in the Mediterranean made us rather pessimistic, and we thought seven or eight days was more likely. Experienced ocean cruising friends assured us we could forget the fickle winds of the Mediterranean as soon as we got through the Gibraltar Straits. We would have following winds Beufort Force 5 and 6. This was not the case and the winds were just as fickle as in the Mediterranean.

Our passage was as follows;

17Sep. We leave Vilamoura at 3:30pm, flat sea, fine weather, motoring, lot of fishing floats to avoid. We hook a good fish but it drops off the hook as we lift it aboard. 8pm, have some wind, main and No2 Genoa, turn off engine. Quiet night, not much traffic.

18Sep. 3am, we have a nice breeze, but from the west, on the nose. Quiet morning, no ships, wind is slowly dying. 1:40pm, no wind, we take down the Genoa and use the engine. Our first day’s run is 77Nm. 4pm, some wind but only 5 knots, we put up all sail, turn off engine. Wind turns SW and we are beating to windward again. "Belle" of Melbourne is on the ham radio net saying they will leave Gibraltar for Porto Santo tomorrow. We might have company on our crossing.

19Sep. Still beating, the wind is fickle, some commercial traffic to watch. 5am, we run the engine for four hours to give Brian a rest (sleep) from playing the sails. Nine am, wind still SW but now l2 knots, we are going nicely but not in the direction we want. Our second day’s run was 5 nautical miles. The wind drops in the evening, so little wind at midnight, we are loosing steerageway, we run the engine.

20Sept. 9am, we have some wind, still SW but we sail, slowly. Contact Belle on HF radio, they are well south of us but have good NE wind and are progressing well. Our third day’s run is only 50 nautical miles. SW wind falls to an average of 4 knots, at 5:40pm it fails completely. Run the engine, and we catch a Tuna fish as compensation.

21Sept. 9am, we turn off the engine, blessed peace. We talk again to Belle; they have a good NE wind and are catching us fast. 10am, at last we have NE wind but only l knot. All day we drift along in 2 to 4 knots of NE wind. At least we can hold our correct course. Our fourth day’s run was 67 nautical miles thanks to the engine. 10pm, no wind again, we run the engine. We go south to see if we can find the same wind that Belle has.

22Sept. We sail through a deep water fishing fleet, constant watch needed. 7am, at last we have NE 8 knots and are moving well. 2pm, the wind is dropping and going east. Our fifth day’s run was 57 nautical miles. We pick up Porto Santo Aero Beacon at 260 nautical miles. In the evening it becomes very light and variable from east and south. We do not want to use any more fuel, we sail.

23Sept. 9am, we talk to Belle on the radio, they are still behind us and now also have light variables, they are not happy. 3pm, wind now steadied back to NE with quite a bit of cloud and some rain. In the evening the sky looks stormy.

24Sept. The wind steadily strengthens in the early morning; we get heavy rain and lightning in the distance. 7am, daybreak shows spectacular cumulus cloud formations and squalls all around. 10am, Brian saw a threatening black squall approaching dead from windward. We have the Genoa down before it hits us, visibility is down to about 200 meters with horizontal driving rain, lightning is close all around us, we can hear the crackle of the lightning bolts as they hit the sea. We shelter inside Tusk as she steers herself downwind. She gybes, but with the boom preventer on Tusk then lay peacefully hove-to as we watch the storm from the shelter of the cabin. 11am, the squall has passed, we set course with just the mainsail. 12am the wind has steadied and we set the genoa again. The rest of the day we have a marvellous sail in a NW 10 to 20 knots. We sight Porto Santo Island. We see Belle abeam.

25Sept. We are level with the lighthouse just after midnight. We start the engine but it overheats. At 1am, we sail in a light breeze into Porto Santo harbour without the engine.


Summary of Tusks Log


Date                From                           Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/Kts


11/l2Jul           Santa Eulalia                 50    17      16      Var0-15         Headwinds & very light winds

19/2lJul           Ens, De Mazarron        156     54      30      E/SE/NEO-9 Light headwinds and variable

22Jul               Garrucha                        36    10        7      SE/0-10         Mostly light headwind

23Jul               San Jose Marina             28       7        7      5/0-4              Practically no wind at all

24Jul               Almerimar                      34     10        3      E/SE/SW/W4-13 Variable wind

25Jul               Adra                             46     15      14      W/10-30        Headwinds, towed catamaran

26Jul               Motril                             32      9        9      W15-28         Strong headwinds all way

3OJul              Benalmadena                 52       12     11      Var/0-8          Calm sea very light wind

1Aug               Estepona                        32     10        7      Var/0-l0         Light variable wind

2Aug               Cala Sardina                    8       2        2      SF/0-4            Motored all the way

3Aug               Gibraltar                        12       5        2      SE/4-15         Mostly light, gusty at Gibraltar.

6/7Sep             Vilamoura                    184     37      34      WNW/0-16    Motor sailed to windward.

17/255ep         Porto Santo                545*   178      45      SW/NE0-35   Mixed bag of weather

*Porto Santo is only 470 Nm from Vilamoura but we did 545 Nm because of the South westerly head winds the first few days. During the period covered we had only a few hours of bad weather, but  the winds have been disappointing from the point of stregth and direction.


Chapter 6




Tusk, Belle, Barnacle  B and Topaz

Lavada Hiking in Madeira.

See ‘Mareira-Our first Tropical Island

Porto Santo, Storm and Peace.


Arriving at a new port at night is interesting and a challenge, but you do miss a lot not being able to see anything of the coastline and the port. We just saw the regular bright flash of the lighthouse as we rounded the point, the black silhouette of the mountain against the sky, the soft yellow glow of sodium streetlights along the coast road, and a sprinkle of white tights where the town was expected to be. Next morning when we pushed our bleary heads out of the hatch we had sight of a mountain towering over our anchorage, goats grazing on the slopes, strong concrete walls of the harbour and a calm sea through the opening of the harbour wall. The overall impression was of peace and restfulness.

We cleared customs and immigration and walked the mile or so along the ribbon of golden sand to the only town. The town had a lovely character, like a cross between a Mediterranean village and a quiet mainland European village. We inspected the basic vegetable fish and meat market, and the general store and queued for bread. All the locals at seemed to buy bread by the sack, and we felt out of place asking for our six rolls. When we returned to Tusk just before dark we could feel quite a punch in the wind. It was blowing straight into the harbour entrance. Sizable waves were forming in the harbour and we felt insecure rowing to Tusk in our small dinghy, but we made it back without drama and climbed safely aboard. As the night wore on the wind blew stronger and the waves got bigger and were running at several meters.

This caused violent snatching on the anchor chain so we put on a long rope rode to absorb the impact, but the snatching was causing the anchor to inch its way through the sand so that we slowly fell back towards another boat astern. There were about 15 or 20 yachts in the harbour and there were no large spaces was available to which we could move. All boats set anchor watch. During the night dark figures on the boats could be seen at irregular times precariously making their way from cockpit to bow to inspect the ground tackle and assess the situation. I think nobody in the harbour got any sleep that night.

In the morning, the boat behind us moved to the marina pontoons in the corner of the harbour, but the pontoons proved untenable in the violent conditions, so in a few hours he was back at anchor. However this gave us a chance to let off another 15 meters of chain, and we then stopped inching backwards and felt more secure. The blow and the large waves lasted another two days. A few intrepid Yachties did dinghy between boats to socialize, but most stayed on board their own boats. Some boats put as many as four anchors down but after we had the room to put out a good scope of chain we felt one anchor was sufficient.

After the blow, the weather was lovely. We had an afternoon on the beach swimming in the surf left behind by the storm. We had two long hikes over the island with two other couples, friends from boats Belle and Helgi II. The terrain of the island is rocky mountains and grassy slopes with a sprinkling of smallholdings in the valleys. There are not so many cars and they are mainly seen tearing along the south coast road. In the past grain crops, wheat for example, were grown on the flat areas but the only proof of this now is photographs hanging in the bars, and the wooden windmills still standing on their stone plinths on the hilltops. We visited Columbus House, a house that was occupied by Christopher Columbus whilst he was making a living as a mapmaker. It is now a museum dedicated to his memory.

The harbour wall at Porto Santo was covered in the most beautiful artwork depicting the names and logos of yachts passing through on their way across the Atlantic, and this really gives you the feeling that you have arrived somewhere special.


Madeira-Our First Tropical Island

Porto Santo and Madeira are only a little more than 20 miles apart, but the contrast between the islands is amazing. The first is dry and sparse in vegetation, but the second is thick with lush tropical greenery. The difference is mainly due to the height of the mountains in Madeira, which encourage rainfall, but must be also partly due to the system of Levadas (man made water channels), that wind down the hillsides and provide irrigation water to the farms the whole year around.

We anchored first at a lovely deserted bay called Enseada De Abra on the protected South side of the Eastern tip of Madeira. This was a place of spectacular rocky scenery and crystal clear water. We had a row around the bay. Then landed at some steps cut into the rocks and went for a walk over the hill to watch the untempered waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash onto the rocky coves on the north-side.

The wind died for our sail around to Funchal so we motored. We found Funchal a busy city with harbour water like a thick pea soup of unspeakable colour. This was probably due to the outpouring of silt and muck from the river and the town. Yachts in the inner harbour were rafted six or more deep from the wall, so we anchored off behind the breakwater.

Funchal city itself was well organised for the hoards of tourists from the constant procession of large cruise liners which call. But once away from the main harbour we found things similar to the less spoilt parts of Portugal, and were able to eat and travel cheaply. The vegetable markets were the best we can remember with superb quality and variety. Fresh meat was good arid the fish market was interesting but lacked variety. Travel by bus was cheap and convenient; we felt hire cars and tourist coach trips were unnecessary.

Walking the hillside Levadas was the high point of our stay. The lower slopes were covered in banana plantations, the middle slopes had mainly vegetables and fruit, as we climbed higher we found the grape vines which produce the famous Madeira wines. The highest reaches were covered in coniferous trees, and the paths along the Levadas had superb chestnut trees in full fruit, (or should we say nut)


Hot Rock

It took three and a half days to sail from Funchal to Graciosa, an island to the North of Lanzarote. It is a small Island, you can walk across it in half an hour or so. We anchored off a beautiful beach near the lower slopes of an old volcano. The island has only a few hundred meters of tarmac road, and otherwise the only roads are vague sandy tracks. The village houses were rather reminiscent of poor Arab houses, small, square, flat roofs and few windows. We spent three idle days at our anchorage, with two evening barbecues and bonfires on the beach with other visiting yachts. Next we moved on to Puerto Naos, which is really a double port together with Arecife and provides the main commercial harbours of Lanzarote. This harbour offered perfect protection from wind and wave under any conditions so we decided this was where we would leave Tusk in order to travel back to the UK.

Before our trip to the UK we shared a hire car for a day together with Bill and Megan of Belle. We first visited the agricultural area where they have a special method of making catchments in which grapes can be grown in the most hostile of environments. The highlight of our day tour was our visit to the Timanfaya National Park.

This park sets out to preserve unspoilt the vivid effects of relatively recent volcanic disturbance. We were driven around the park in a luxury coach, with a trilingual commentary and weird futuristic music, reminiscent of torture and barren emptiness. We looked across cinder-covered plains and distorted rock formations that showed clearly their molten origins. Numerous volcanoes, small and large, bore proof to how the landscape had been formed. After this we were ready for lunch so we found a geothermal barbecue and cooked our sausages and chops in the hot air rising from the volcano. While we were doing this, the official guides were bringing groups of tourists down to watch the poor Yachties cooking their food on the hot rocks. Next we visited an interesting volcanic cave with an amazing and surprising optical illusion. The day finished with drinks and Tapas by the quay of the Puerto Carmen fishing port


Back to Earth-The UK.

We had not intended to fly back the UK until the summer of 1991, but the purchase of the HF amateur transceiver made it necessary for Brian to take the British City and Guilds Radio Amateurs Exam as soon as possible. Joyce stayed with her mother in Belfast whilst Brian studied for the exam at his parents. A last minute booking for the Morse test also added to Brian’s workload. The written radio exam was completed without any problem, and we received confirmation that he passed the exam by the end January. The mastering of the Morse code to the required speed proved too much in the limited time available. The Morse test was taken without success, but it was worth trying because the examiners were able to give some good advice, that it may be possible to take the test in Antigua. We thought that by the time we got there Brian should be ready and able to pass the test. Before we left the UK we visited a few old friends, some of which were in the process of buying or building new yachts themselves.


Las Palmas

We arrived at Las Palmas after dark, on a Sunday night, the next day being Christmas Eve. We did not want to cook on board that night so we decided to try to find a cheap restaurant. Expecting the town to be deserted at this time we walked towards the main centre to find the shops all open and crammed to capacity with shoppers, who seemed almost panic stricken to get rid of their money. After our quiet passage into harbour in a near calm the bustle and surge of the crowds, the bright lights of the chrome and glass shop fronts was almost overwhelming.

This shopping centre is now one of Joyce’s favourites, with the store El Corte Anglais rating as high as Harrods in Joyce’s world survey of superstores. Next day we started out early to get our fresh produce for Christmas dinner. We found a turkey of the right size, potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, and a bag full of other goodies for our Christmas feast. In the evening we had a barbecue on the beach with about eight other boats. Everyone had a good time, and we invited a couple from the boat Scarmarie, for dinner on Christmas Day. The turkey turned out well, and in the evening the couple from the South African yacht Idunna II came for drinks complete with doggie.

Another good day was had by on New Years Eve. We had drinks on Scarmarie and then went off to town to find a restaurant, only to find everything closed. We made up a cold buffet on Tusk and then at midnight the whole city came alive with fireworks, cars hooting people shouting and singing. We watched all this from the calm of our own cockpit, and turned in an hour later when the noise had abated a little.

We just received mail the morning we left Las Palmas, We liked the message sent to Joyce by her friend Liz, which said “I am thinking of you on your courageous crossing Joyce, your a better man than I, Gungadin”.

Boat Techs

After our visit to the UK for four weeks we arrived back at Tusk laden with new toys for our cruising home. It was a promising trend, that our burden of goodies was actually getting less with each trip home. We had overspent our cruising budget by this time for two years running. So if we keep this up, bankruptcy was lurking somewhere down the bottom of our bank statements.

Our main purchase was as a solar panel. This is a device that uses sunlight to provide charging current to batteries. Batteries on small yachts are usually charged using an engine driven alternator, but running the engine every day or two just for battery charging in a nuisance. We found a 60 Watt solar panel would fit on top of our life raft on the stern, and was quite light in weight. The weight was important because our cockpit drains were just level with the sea when we are fully laden with water, fuel and stores, and we have to be careful not to add any unnecessary weight.

Under ideal conditions this unit should provide more than 3 8amps of charging current at 14v or more, but in practice this is not achieved very often. In the Canary Islands when we installed the panel is was winter, so the sun is fairly low in the sky, even at midday. We find we got something like 0.5amp in cloudy conditions, rising to about 2 amps in sunny conditions near midday. If we tilted the panel so that it is at 9O degrees the sun near midday we could get up to 3amps. But this tilting was difficult to arrange on Tusk, so we had to put up with the lower output resulting from the practical mounting problems.

As we sailed south, and as the summer approaches, we should get greater efficiency from the panel.


Summary of Tusks Log


Date                To                                Dist Time  Eng      Wind             Remarks    

                                                            Nm     Hrs   Hrs


10Oct              Enseada De Abra           3l     10        3      NW/2-12       Gloomy day, we have headwinds.

11Oct              Funchal                          14       5        3      N/02              Light headwinds, mostly motored

26/3OOct        Graciosa                       245     90      22      Var/O-l4        Calms, some following wind

O2Nov            Puerto Naos                   25       8        6      S/0-10 Light Headwinds, mostly motored

18Dec             Playa Blanka                  18       6        1      NW/5~25      Lumpy & uncomfortable

22/23Dec        Las Palmas                    86     20        1      NW/lO-20     Lovely trade wind sail


The amount of cruising done during the period was rather small due to Brian studying for the C & G Amateur Radio exam, and our trip home to actually sit the exam. We have had generally light variable winds, but our last trip to Las Palmas tended to confirm we were close to the trade winds area and should have favourable winds from now on.



Chapter 7


Tusk in the Atlantic, main down, twin running sails up


Tusk Crosses The Pond

2832 Nautical Miles-Gran Canaria to Antigua.

The Pond' is a euphemism used by sailors to describe the Atlantic Ocean. The trade winds route we took is a well-beaten path now used by hundreds of yachts every year, but it is still a serious undertaking for most. We listened to early starters on the radio, and heard stories of calms, gales, electric storms and tropical waves, and wondered what might be in store for us.



The Big Crossing.

Note: the positions given are to the nearest degree lat and long at midday, and the day’s run is midday to midday in nautical miles.

9 Jan, at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

14:00hrs, we tie up to the fuel dock and top up our fuel, and we wait for the shop to open to spend our last few pesetas. 15:3Ohrs we push off into a light S/E headwind and motor for 3 hours. After dark the wind becomes variable and finally settles N/E. Depth sounder indicates very shallow water so we turn 9Odeg out to sea to miss what seems to be the rock Baja de Gando.

10 Jan, N27 W16, days run 60 Nm. The wind is N/E 8 knots, running with full main and boomed out No2 Genoa. Shooting stars seen, not much traffic, fine night. We have a morning radio schedule with Ebbstream, Barnacle B, IreneVL and Zingarro. Ebbstream are two days ahead of us but Barnacle B are in port on the island of Gomera. Zingarro are in the Cape Verdi Islands. These daily radio schedules with our friends help dispel the feeling of isolation throughout the voyage. We also listen to the Ham UK Maritime Mobile Net and Atlantic Net for weather forecasts and information on other boats crossing at the same time. Wind pipes up to 12 knots, the Aries wind vane is steering well. At midday we sight the beautiful snow capped volcano of Tenerife. Several ships sighted in the evening and the night.

11 Jan, N26 W17, days run 85 Nm. The nights are cold enough to need thermal underwear to keep warm. One ship sighted. At midday we have an acrobatic display by a school of dolphins all around us. Wind still from N/E about 7 to 12 knots. Fairly clear sky with some cumulus clouds. Wind strengthens at about midnight

12 Jan, N25 W19, days run 116 Nm. At 05:00 hrs we see a yacht’s light behind us, its Barnacle B crossing our stern going from Gomera to Banjul on the African Coast. At 05:30 hrs a large wave pushed the stern over and we gybe all standing. The cleat holding the boom preventer is torn off the deck. It is blowing 20 knots so we take the main down and continue with just medium Genoa. 10:00 hrs, we put up a jib on the second forestay to provide running twins boomed out each side. Wind drops to 15 knots at midday. We read most of the day.

13 Jan, N24 W20, days run l2l Nm. Perfect sailing conditions, still using running twins. We are very tired, not yet really into the rhythm of watch keeping and sleeping. We listen to the BBC, news from the Gulf is not good, and 13 dead as Russian troops sent into Lithuania. This was the first day with no traffic seen.

14 Jan, N22 W22, days run 100 Nm. The wind increases, at 08:00 hrs we replace the medium genoa with the storm jib, so we have just two small jibs winged out. A big sea is running and we are occasionally rolling our side decks into the water and we have to hang on when moving about the boat. We catch a 2ft Dorado fish and have a delicious dinner of fish, baked potato, green peppers and onions. A cargo boat first spotted when only ¼ mile away sharpens up our watch keeping resolve. The wind moderates so we replace the storm jib with the working jib.

15 Jan, N21 W23, days run 90 Nm. Conditions are squally, rolly and uncomfortable but seem to be moderating. The weather is now gloomy and overcast. By midday, wind is down to l0 knots and we lower the working jib and set two genoas boomed out as twins. We have frequent rain showers but it is now noticeably warmer.

16 Jan, N21 W24, days run 82 Nm. A ship is sighted. The wind goes ENE and drops off to 6knots by midday. We put the mainsail up in addition to the two winged out jibs, but our speed now only 2 to 3 knots. There are showers and beautiful rainbows, including a double rainbow.

17 Jan, N20 W25, days run 72 Nm. At 03:00 hrs we hear on BBC we are at war with Iraq. In the morning we find the main halyard nearly frayed through, we splice a new eye. We have changeable wind and have several sail changes, including flying the spinnaker for a few hours. At 17:00hrs a pod of 6 whales takes up station on our starboard quarter. They are 15/20 ft long and watch us for a while before swimming ahead of us and disappearing. By night we are just drifting with no wind.

18 Jan, N20 W26, days run 26 Nm. Faint breeze. We have 2 genoas winged out and the mainsail up, we are hardly moving. We learn on the radio that Ebbstream ahead of us have wind, so we start the engine to motor for a while. It overheats immediately and we shut it down. Investigation shows no water in the water inlet pipe to the pump. This seems to be due to an airlock in the water inlet pipe. Pipe is re-laid flat on the hull and the problem seems to be solved. We run the engine for one hour and then get 10 knots of wind. We set main and genoa again and turn off the engine. We see an oil tanker and he calls us up on VHF channel 16 for a chat. We exchange information on where we are bound. We have a quiet sail for the rest of the day.

19 Jan, N19 W27, days run 78Nm. The wind increases to about 20 knots by late afternoon, a large sea is running and the motion is uncomfortable. We take down one Genoa and now have the main and boomed out medium genoa. We catch our second fish for dinner. Wind falls off at night and we put up a second genoa again, wing and wing.

20 Jan, N18 W28, days run 55 Nm. An overcast and uninteresting day except the wind is lighter and more from the north. We are almost beam reaching with main and genoa. We listen to the BBC Word Service for entertainment

21 Jan, N18 W29, days run 63 Nm. During the early morning the wind became very light and variable. Joyce hand steers her watch because the self-steering could not cope with the variable wind. In the afternoon it settles north and we are beam reaching again.

22 Jan, N18 W31, days run 85 Nm. The 15-knot northerly goes more easterly and we have another accidental gybe. We try running twins without the main but the wind goes back north. After midday it swings east again and we try twins again. It does not give enough sail area for the 15-knot breeze so we put the main up as well. We were soon going nicely and shoals of flying fish flee before us. Joyce sunbathes on the deck. While Brian was oiling the Aries vane gear the boat takes a heavy roll and he falls on the solar panel, the glass of the panel shatters. It still works but it may no longer be waterproof. By late afternoon it is blowing more than 20-knots so we take down the main. The fishing line is tangled in the towing generator rope and takes more than an hour to recover and untangle, an eventful day!

23 Jan, N17 W33, days run 98 Nm. The wind moderated to 15-knots by 15:00 hrs and we put the main up again. Joyce bakes eight bread rolls on Tusk for the first time, otherwise an uneventful day.

24 Jan, N18 W35 Days run 96Nm. Steady trade wind conditions all day, NW about 15-knots. Small cumulus clouds. We use Satnav for navigating but Brian takes some sun sights to practice navigating with the sextant. The wind goes easterly about midday so we are on a dead run.

25 Jan, N18 W36, days run 86 Nm. Just before daybreak we see a tanker. Weather conditions are steady. At 15:00 we hook another fish. It seems a really big one this time. The heavy fiberglass rod bends 90 degrees as the fish is pumped in foot by foot for 15 minutes. Seems strange such a heavy fish does not fight but just feels like a dead weight. It comes alongside and we are amazed to find it is a big porcupine fish, perfectly round like a football, but bigger. Florescent blue on top and a pure white belly, it also has two-inch spikes all over top and bottom. As it lies on our side deck the water it used to puff itself out is dribbling from its mouth. It has a clear expression of distain on its face. Not knowing if the spikes are dangerous we use long nose pliers to remove the hook and flip it back into the sea with a piece of wood. It lies upside down for a moment then turns the right way up, and disappears quickly into the deep.

26 Jan, N18 W37, days run 77 Nm. A large land bird takes refuge on Tusk, but leaves at dawn. The wind drops to 5-knots and we fly the spinnaker all day. The wind increases in the evening so we take the spinnaker down and put up the large genoa.

27thJan, N17 W39 Days run 99 Nm. The wind drops off early in the morning but strengthens so we reduce sail. It becomes a boisterous 22 knots with higher gusts. There is a 3-meter swell and rough sea; we have to hang on tight when moving around Tusk. We have several small rain showers.

28 Jan, N17 W41, days run 112 Nm. We have 2Oknot NE trades all day, with a rough sea. We use the medium genoa and 3 reefs in the main. Going near our maximum speed most of the time. Spray and waves coming over the edge of the cockpit so we wear waterproofs to keep dry when on watch. The motion of the boat is wearing. A cargo boat passes near by and calls us up on VHF. We exchange information on destination and course and the captain asks if there is anything he can do for us. We thank him and say no.

29 Jan, N17 W43, days run 118 Nm. The wind and sea moderate a little but still difficult to sleep due to the motion and noise. The towing generator somehow became fouled on the Aries paddle, so we haul the generator aboard to sort it out, a tiring job. At 15:30 hrs we sight another yacht to the north, but he does not answer our call on VHF radio.

30th Jan, N17 W4S, days run 107 Nm. Strong wind 20-knots ENE, sometimes with heavy rain. At 09:00 we see a line squall approaching and drop the mainsail as a precaution, the squall passes with 30/40-knot gusts and then we put up the mainsail again. At 09:30 another squall is seen but we are not quick enough and it hits us with the main still more than half up. We go off course and the boomed out genoa backs as we struggle to lower the main. As the squall passes we find our main forestay has broken and the spinnaker pole end fitting is badly bent. Our second forestay prevents the mast from falling down. We spend the morning jury-rigging the broken forestay using wire rope clips and spare wire strops we carry. We finally get a good tight and strong repair and straightened out the spinnaker pole end fitting using a hammer and a wrench. We set the mainsail triple reefed and a working jib; we now have clear weather and a nice comfortable trade wind about l8-knots. The wind moderates through the day; the jury-rigged forestay seems to be a good repair so we take two reefs out of the main.

31st Jan, N17 W47, days run 97 Nm. The wind goes NE, so we take down the jib pole and two sail reach. It is rolly and the boom dips in the sea occasionally but otherwise pleasant sailing. During the morning the toilet is blocked. Take the pump apart and find a build-up of hard deposit on a flap valve had jammed it. All cleaned, reassembled, and works ok, a rather unpleasant job to do at sea.

1Feb, N17 W48, days run 97 Nm. Fine settled weather; we sunbathe on the deck, fine sunset, uneventful day.

2ndFeb, N17 W50, days run 105 Nm. The weather becomes unsettled, cloudy and squally with rain showers. The wind is generally about 15-knots but with squalls of 25/30-knots from time to time; we put the third reef in the main so that we can sail through the squalls without continual sail changing. Later the squalls seem to have passed so we just have one reef in the main. We now keep one reef in at all times because the full main rubs on the spreaders and wears the sail through, whereas with one reef the main can be held off the spreaders even on a dead run. Our running 'twins' using our two biggest genoas leave us under canvassed in winds less than 20 knots so we have to keep the main up in winds less than about 20knots to make reasonable progress.

3rdFeb, N17 W32, days run 114 Nm. The wind strength is lower; about 12-knots but strong gusts from time to time oblige us to put reefs in and out of the mainsail. An oil tanker passes close ahead. The wind falls off to 6 to 10-knots at night and becomes variable from E to SE

4thFeb, N17 W54, days run 91 Nm. We have not much wind, and a lumpy sea, frequent heavy rain showers. The weather looks nasty but the wind stays moderate to calm, we gybe several times because of variable winds and later are becalmed.

5thFeb, N17 W55, days run 94Nm. The night is quite pleasant, but the day much the same as yesterday. A cargo ship is sighted.

6thFeb, N17 W57, days run 6l Nm. Light variable winds and showers and squalls prevail, although it is distinctly warmer. Not so much need to put on warm clothes at night in the cockpit We have jib and genoa boomed out each side and the mainsail up, but we still make slow progress. At dusk we spot another yacht catching us up. We talk on VHF and find it is a French boat called Fabulous Dancer on their way to Martinique. We give them a Satnav position and they gradually disappear ahead.

7thFeb, N17 W58, days run 83 Nm. We now have no wind, torrential rain and thunder and lightening. We can see the edge of the clouds and clear sky ahead so we turn the engine on. Within a couple of hours we are under clear skies but the storm clouds seem to be following us so we keep motoring. By midday the clouds behind are dispersing and the lightening stops so we sail. There are only a few knots of wind so we drift along so slowly we only just have steerageway. We calculate we have enough fuel to motor all the way to Antigua if we want, so we run the engine at tick over revs to make some progress. At night we have spectacular displays of lightening on the horizon. We see one ship.

8 Feb, N17 W60, days run 97 Nm. The sky is clear, but the wind hardly blows more than 5 knots all day, it is now very warm. Plenty of flying fish. We stop the engine for our radio schedule in the morning. About 18:30 hrs we see a small high-speed powerboat on the horizon, the first sign of nearing land. We sail during the night without the engine so that we get a better sleep, but it was slow progress.

9thFeb, N17 W61, days run 110 Nm. Before daybreak we see lights ahead. By mid morning the island is in full view. At 14:00 hrs we anchored in English harbour Antigua after 31 days at sea.


Notes on the crossing.

We did not necessarily do everything the best way, but for what it is worth we offer some information and thoughts on what we achieved.

FOOD: We stocked up in Gibraltar in August and loaded as much food aboard as we could find space for. We could easily have provisioned in Madeira or Gran Canaria and saved carrying all that weight for hundreds of miles the months before we actually crossed. However, we had no particular regrets since in Gibraltar we were able to get a considerable variety of British foods and other popular items that we particularly liked, at a fair price, and with the least amount of effort. We do not have deep freeze so we relied on tins, packets and jars of food that could be expected to last a year or more without refrigeration. We carried a more limited selection of items such as tinned cheese, which probably would only be safe or keep in good condition for a few months. We went for the biggest variety of foodstuffs we could find, rather than buying items in bulk, and we had no trouble making up varied and interesting menus for the 31-day crossing. The day we left, we purchased fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, bread and so on without much thought or planning and this lasted about a week before we were entirely on 'long life rations', In retrospect this period of using 'fresh produce' could have been extended if we had given it more thought, but we did not feel at all deprived using our tins, jars and packets, and most were of acceptable taste and quality. But being able to bake fresh bread on the boat is definitely a must. We found on arrival at Antigua that we had used less than half our stores, but since food is more expensive in the Islands, this was as good as money in the bank.

WATER: We carry seventy gallons of water in our tanks, and we took four containers of water totalling about sixteen gallons in case we had an accident with the water tanks (a leak for example). We do not have a level gauge for the water tanks, but when we got to Antigua we poured the containers of water into the tank and it overflowed after the third bag went in. So we assume we used less than sixteen gallons in thirty-one days. However we did have twenty litres of bottled water, about forty-eight litres of pasteurised pure fruit juices, two cases of Cola, one case of beer, forty-eight litres of long life milk and a collection of six other one litre bottles of soft drinks. On arrival at Antigua all these had been drunk except we still had about half the milk. Soft drinks were the only thing we ran out of on the voyage. The washing up was done in salt water, we have a salt-water tap at the sink, which makes this easy. Our personal washing in fresh water was kept to a minimum. This is not so bad as it sounds, because you really don’t get so dirty when at sea, and we did use salt water bucket baths in the cockpit, and rain showers once or twice. However, the rain was freezing. ELECTRICITY: During the crossing we never had to use the engine for battery charging. We used an Aquair towing generator and a large solar panel. The towing generator had the best performance and must have contributed an average of about forty or fifty amp-hours of charging per day, with the solar panel chipping in about ten to twenty amp-hours per day. We ran the electric log full time, the Satnav about four to eight hours a day, the masthead tricolour navigation light all night and had daily radio transmissions, cabin lights were used as required at change of watch, the fridge was used occasionally. We were careful and economical using battery power but the batteries and 'alternative' charging systems showed no signs of distress except when we had very light winds for a day or two.

WATCHKEEPING: We resolved before our voyage that we would keep 24-hour watch for the whole crossing. We kept to this with just a few minor lapses. We sighted traffic, mostly commercial vessels, all the way across. Not every day, but quite a few days, and this kept us on our toes. We did not use a ridged watch keeping system, but had an outline plan operated on flexi hours. We tried to finish our evening meal before dark, then Brian would watch from about 8pm to 11pm. Then Joyce would be on watch from 11pm to 2am, then Brian from 2am to 5am and Joyce from 5am to 8am. We would have breakfast and Joyce would rest up to about lunchtime, after lunch Brian would rest for some of the afternoon. Rest periods were often broken due to sail changing, or when traffic was seen on a doubtful course. We were occasionally very tired, especially during the first three days of the voyage, after that we got tired enough to sleep well. We had a rule that the on watch crew would not leave the cockpit to do deck work unless we were both in the cockpit.

TIME: We maintained GMT for navigation purposes and radio schedules but kept 'ships time' for domestic and watch-keeping routine. Whenever we covered 15 deg of Longitude we turned back our ships clock one hour.


Our Landfall-English Harbour, Antigua.

It is hard to imagine a nicer landfall than English Harbour. There are no offshore dangers to worry about, just an easily negotiated reef at the entrance to this natural harbour. Once inside we found a lovely palm fringed sandy beach with a few delightful beach villas sprinkled along the shore.

Even before we had our anchor down our friends on Ebbstream met us in their dinghy to welcome us and to pass over some mail, fresh bread milk and a bar of chocolate for Joyce. They came aboard for coffee and gave us a briefing on where we could find the showers, do our laundry, find the supermarket, buy yacht chandlery, and where we could eat ashore cheaply. We agreed to meet for sundowners and to eat ashore together that night, then spent the rest of the day tidying and sorting out the boat.

Most of the people we met after the crossing said they were so tired when they arrived that it took a week to recover. I think Tusk is an easy boat to sail, we needed no such recovery period and got stuck in straight away. We loved the Copper and Lumber Store with its Mainbrace pub, its bar meals, and the Friday fish and chip night with music, dancing and two drinks for the price of one. English Harbour is a national park area centred on the well-preserved remains of Nelsons dockyard, which has the sophisticated Admirals Inn one side and the tatty Yachties Galley Bar the other.

For entertainment the Shirley Heights Sunday jump up is the event that must not be missed. A walk from Freemans bay up along the ridge of the hill takes you through unspoilt tropical bush to a lookout post on the highest point overlooking the English and Falmouth harbours A magnificent steel band plays from 3pm to 6pm, then a reggae band plays until 9pm or later. A reasonable priced barbecue is available and other restaurant food for the well-healed tourists. Such a vibrant lively scene can hardly be imagined without experiencing it.

The capital of Antigua is St Johns and is a half hour bus ride from English Harbour. The bus is full of locals, and we have to help a rotund laundry lady load her enormous bundles of laundry on to the bus before we can leave. The bus zigzags off the main road to drop off the passengers nearer to their homes, and when the laundry lady reaches her destination there is someone to meet her but we still have to help to unload the washing.


A Change In Plan.

At this time we had a major change of plan. We decided to take an extra year to visit the USA east coast before continuing through the Panama Canal. The new plan was to sail up to the British Virgin Islands and the American Virgin Islands, then Puerto Rico Dominica, and the Bahamas. We would enter the USA at Fort Lauderdale, travel up the intra-coastal waterways to around Washington, then back down the same route to the Leeward Islands by spring next year. That was new plan and it was expected to add an additional year to our trip.


Summary of Tusks Log


Date                To                                Dist Time  Eng      Wind             Remarks    

                                                            Nm     Hrs   Hrs


23Dec/9Jan     At Las Palmas


9Jan/9Feb        Antigua                      2775   743      67      NW-E-SE/0-35Variable weather, good crossing















Chapter 8


Nevis-Coconut Island.

Nevis is a small island, dominated by a cloud-capped peek over 3000 ft high, the slopes being covered with thick dark green rain forest. We crept into our anchorage at Charlestown after dusk, and anchored near two other sailing vessels. In the morning we found one of these was a trading vessel still plying between the islands under sail.

We cleared customs and immigration and wandered around the quaint old town before setting off to walk the eastern shore. The beach was our idea of a desert island beach you dream of, or only see on the cinema screen. Golden yellow sand, waving palm trees, large seashells, crystal clear water and brilliant blue sky to cap it off. There was a hotel half way along the beach, but once past this we had the beach to ourselves.

Near the north end we found someone had placed a line of large shells across the high tide line and built a crude palm leaf shelter. We sat down a short distance away to rest, and after a few minutes our conversation came around to the thought of the refreshing coconuts hanging from the trees above us. No problem! Joyce would scramble up the tree and pick one. Joyce ran out of puff about 6 ft from the ground, with only another 34 ft to go to the top. Brian was doing his best to help by waving the camera around and shouting encouraging things like "You wont get your picture taken unless you get to the top", when a black man and a white man came running towards us. "Quick" shouts Brian, "run for it or you will spend a month in jail for stealing coconuts". However, the natives were friendly. The white man was a Canadian, who had bought the plot of land nearby which was "shelled off". He was going to build a house where he would see sunsets every day of the year. His friend, Hesketh, was a native of Nevis. During a chat sitting under the palm leaf sunshade the Canadian offered to save Joyce the trouble of climbing the tree since it was something Hesketh was expert at. The offer was graciously accepted. Hesketh went off to get his machete. He scrambled up the trees with little effort, and coconuts were thudding to the floor with each crack of the machete.

Brian enjoys a coconut fresh off the tree on Pinney's beach,



We learned that coconuts were divided into two types. Unripe coconuts having a soft flesh and plenty of milk were the drinking coconuts. The more mature, hard flesh coconuts were the eating nuts. We carried the harvest back to the sunshade, and selected one nut of each type to try. Hesketh expertly opened them with his machete, and we all relaxed in the shade enjoying the refreshing coconuts. Another day in paradise, as they said in these parts.

Next day we had a walk inland to the ruins of an old sugar mill The road climbed steeply up the mountain, the tropical vegetation was trying to envelop the road and it felt as though it was trying to swallow us up as well. We browsed around the old rusty cast iron sugar mill machinery. It was still complete enough to see exactly how they handled and crushed the sugar cane to extract the juice. The furnace towers were still intact, and we were surprised nobody had tidied the site up and charged for admission.

We continued in our circular walking tour to find the church where Horatio Nelson married widow Fanny Nisbet. The original marriage documents are still on show together with other interesting colonial artefacts. By this time we were tired and thirsty and were glad to see that the road we were following was now taking a direct route back to Charlestown, and our anchorage.


We Survived Mt Misery Volcano.

There was not much to do in St Kitts, it seemed rather run down and dirty compared with Antigua or Nevis. So when we saw a poster advertising "Kriss Tours" climb through the rain forest to the rim of the volcano, we thought this was what we needed to make our visit a memorable one.

Kris picked us up in his Land Rover about 7:30am next morning. It was quite cramped, with eight in the back and two in the front. We had an interesting drive along the bumpy coast road, through villages and small towns. Eventually we turned off the road into a sugar plantation. As soon as we could see the forest climbing up the mountain ahead, it started to rain heavily. The Land Rover had no glass in the side windows. The track was so narrow we were being flayed by the sugar cane coming through the windows and were getting thoroughly soaked by the rain. We left the cane fields and started a steep muddy incline. The Rover was skidding from side to side as though it was on ice. Soon it came stuck at a precarious angle on the edge of a muddy embankment.

We all gingerly got out whilst Kriss assured us that when he rolled upside down last week everyone got back in one piece. The men now had to push the Rover up the last fifty meters of track to a space where it could turn around. This was a hazardous operation. It was difficult to stand on the mud let alone push a heavy vehicle, which seemed only to want to go sideways. We felt we had nearly been killed three times already, and we had not even started the climb up the volcano. We got to the end of the track and unloaded the Rover. Each of us was given a water canteen to put on our belt and a backpack with food and emergency kit.

The climb up the side of the volcano, through dense rain forest was awe-inspiring. We were sometimes following narrow tracks, sometimes climbing up steep gullies, sometimes clambering over enormous roots or fallen tree trunks. Giant ferns and hanging vines dripping with water brushed us as we struggled upwards. We stopped from time to time to regroup the party and let the stragglers catch up and have a rest. When we got to the top the view was magnificent. We could look directly into the crater in one direction, and out over the island and the sea in the other direction. We were disappointed there was no smoke to be seen, but you could smell sulphur from the crater.

Everybody was starving by then, so we spread out a groundsheet and laid out a feast of fresh vegetables, salad, cheese, a spicy stew, bread and fresh fruit. Kriss entertained us with stories of the forest, details of the wild life, and an account of a frightening expedition of a few years ago when the volcano started rumbling and trembling.

The trek downwards was easier and quicker than the climb, but everyone was happy, and very tired, when we reached the vehicle. There was a bottle of rum, soft drinks and ice to help put back some lost energy and celebrate our successful climb. After a rum or two we had a hilarious trip back with non-stop jokes and stories to pass the time. St Kitts will be remembered for our Mt Misery expedition.


St Barts and St Martin

These two islands must be amongst the premier cruise liner destinations of the world. The main promotion was "tax free shopping". We found them rather disappointing. St Barts is a French colony. A large exposed anchorage is available, with a long dinghy ride to town. But the small size and shallow draft of Tusk allowed us to find a nice spot in the most protected part of the harbour, only to be clobbered with double fees for anchoring inside some line which was only marked on a harbour plan in the harbour masters office. The French harbour master was definitely rather overbearing and officious when we protested at our mistake and told us to pay up and leave if we did not like it. We looked around the town and were sorely tempted to buy a tee shirt with the motif “Frogs are Nasty”.

The night we stayed there an oil slick swept into the harbour and we woke up to find clods of tar sticking to our topsides, anchor rope, chain and dinghy. A barge full bunker diesel had sunk nearby. It was a day’s hard labour to remove all the muck from our topsides. We left St Barts wishing we had given the Island a miss.

St Martin was nicer, no hassle, but oriented towards separating the tourist from his money. We anchored in Philipsburg the Dutch part of the Island, and bought a new outboard at half the cost of the same model in the UK, so this helped to offset the other expenses. We took a bus across to the French side and bought lovely groceries imported from France.

St Martin has a huge lagoon with access only through a lifting bridge, which opens 6am and 6pm. We decided to explore the lagoon. Late in the evening we up-anchored in the dark and motored around to Simpson bay. This proved a bit trickier than we bargained for. The bay was not well lit, and our log was not reliable. We nearly ran into a reef only just awash. We both spotted the sea breaking at the same moment as the depth sounder went potty indicating there was no water under the keel. A sharp 90-degree turn brought us back into deep water with only jangled nerves. We felt our way slowly past the reef and into the bay and thankfully anchored near the bridge. We set our alarm for 5.30am.

We woke up, but you know how it is at that time of the morning, the spirit is willing but the body just lies there like a log. At 5.50am Brian crawled on deck to see several boats milling about the other side of the bridge, but none on our side. Brian calls Joyce," the bridge will be opening soon". Nothing happens for a few minutes, then there is a rustling sound and the clunk of the heads door. "Joyce! There’s no time for that, we’ve got to move", shouts Brian. The engine is now running and the chain winch is being cranked. "What’s the panic?" says Joyce emerging from the hatch "they wont close the bridge until we get through!" "The bridge is open, we cant be sure they will wait", says Brian, "you take the anchor winch and I'll steer". By the time our anchor was up, the other boats were through and the bridge started closing. We steamed right up to the bridge waving and trying to call them on VHF. It stayed closed, and we left without exploring Simpson’s Lagoon.


The British Virgin Islands

Approaching Tortola we could see more sails than we had been accustomed to, and the impact of the charter business of the BVI's made itself felt. We later found it was a quiet charter season due to the recession. Also, many Americans worried that they could be the targets of bad feeling that might arise over the war in the Middle East.

We loved Roadtown, and stayed there a month. This was to give Brian a chance to take a Morse test for a ham radio licence. Ken of Resolute gave up a lot of time to help. However it seemed that the local radio officer was not currently authorised by the Radio Communications Agency to carry out the test and it might not be accepted in the UK. It also proved more difficult than expected to achieve the correct standard. So we left without achieving our objective. We decided to try to get back to the UK in the autumn or winter and take the test after a longer period of practice.

At Roadtown we anchored in the inner harbour, which was crowded but more convenient and better protected than the outer anchorage. There was no charge for anchoring, but we did pay 20 cents a gallon for water before friends on Quiet Achiever, who were working for a charter company, offered free water from their hose. Roadtown has a lovely English style pub called Pussers. They make the Rum the British navy drink as grog.

Very popular with Yachties is the nickel beer night, when beer is sold for 5 cents a glass all night, and painkiller night when potent rum cocktail is sold for 10 cents a glass. A meal of pub food and a few drinks on these nights was the best value we found in the Caribbean. A more formal restaurant we tried was the Virgin Queen, where pizza reigned supreme, but mixed grill, steaks and fish were all available. For a real cheap ethnic type meal and our first introduction to Conch we tried the Roti Palace, a somewhat dingy single room, with plain wooden tables. The Roti is a spicy filling of seafood, meat or chicken in an envelope something like chapatti bread. They were delicious but to us they were so hot and spicy the flavour of the filling was mostly lost.

Our friends Ebbstream were at Roadtown some of the time and we shared a hire car for a day and toured the Island. While anchored in Roadtown a large motorboat with one engine disabled hit our short bowsprit with a tremendous force as he failed to execute a turn. We lost a few splinters of wood from the bowsprit and the end fittings were bent and a turnbuckle destroyed. The 3rd time we have been hit at anchor by motorboats.

Whilst practicing Morse every day we decided we could do some easy cruising so we set off first for Beef Island and then Virgin Gorda. We visited the Bath's where you can bathe in tranquil cool seawater whilst listening to the fierce crash of the waves trying to force their way into the cave. We arrived in Spanishtown on the day of a 'jump up', a sort of a fair with food stalls and steel bands playing in the streets. We next anchored in Leverick bay, and then moved on to Biras Creek, which remains one of our most favourite anchorages. There is a rather attractive and exclusive Norwegian managed hotel set on an isthmus. We joined their 'all you can eat' smorgasbord buffet on the beach for lunch, and were allowed to use their beach chairs for the rest of the day.

Just when we thought we had arrived in heaven we had a message on the radio that contrary to our understanding, we needed a Visa for the USA. A British boat arriving at the American Virgin Islands had been turned away for lack of a Visa. British -nationals arriving by scheduled aircraft can get a visa at point of entry but yachtsmen must have a visa in advance of arrival. Ebbstream got the necessary forms, we rendezvoused with them on Peter Island to fill in all the forms. We then took all the forms and passports to Roadtown and dispatched them by courier service to the nearest USA embassy in Antigua. We sat in Roadtown and followed our passports progress by phone calls and got them back complete with visas five days later.


The American Caribbean.

On leaving Roadtown we stopped at Norman Island, of the BVI's. There is a cave there where the fish are so used to being hand fed and you can snorkel in the cave amid hundreds of small, and some not so small fish looking for food. Swimming back to our boat we were treated to the sight of a 6ft Nurse shark cruising slowly beneath us.

We arrived at St John in the American Virgin Islands too late to go ashore and get our customs and immigration clearance: The place was crowded and there was only one small space near a derelict looking ramp where we could anchor, so we settled there and had an early night. Next morning we were disturbed by a fierce rumbling of engines getting very dose so we looked out to find a big flying boat demanding right of way to the ramp, which was now busy with people and vehicles. We had our anchor up in double quick time, the first time we have had to give way to a flying boat.

Our next stop was Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas. As luck would have it we arrived on the eve of their Carnival. Not so famous as some of the other Caribbean carnivals, but we were still most impressed and amused at the length, (it took more than 6 hours to pass) and the variety of costumes and entertainment. We had been warned of violence and thieving in this town but we neither saw nor heard of any trouble while we were there.

Our next Island was Culebra. This was the most poverty stricken place we had seen up to then, although we have now seen worse. It was badly hit by hurricane Hugo in September 1989, and the damage is still not fully repaired. Culebra is a well-protected natural harbour and serves as a hurricane hole for yachts and local boats. We met a boat that was there at the time of Hugo. We learned that not all the boats sheltering there at the time survived and quite a few lives were lost.

We next moved on to Puerto Rico, a fairly industrialised island with a large US naval base. We cruised along the south coast, stopping each night in a delightful anchorage. We had never considered Puerto Rico as a good cruising area but we now think it is greatly under rated and deserving of more attention.

Our most memorable anchorage was Baha Fosforecent. This is more like a lagoon than a bay, it has a narrow rather shallow entrance and then widens into a large lake' surrounded by mangroves. A more perfect hurricane hole is difficult to imagine. It gets its name from the millions of luminescent dinoflagellates, which thrive in this protected environment. We were lucky, we were the only boat anchored in the bay, and it was a moonless night. It was absolutely fascinating to disturb the water with splashes and watch it glow. The occasional tourist tripper boat visiting the lagoon would have the whole side of the boat lit up by the phosphorescence of its bow wave as it moved through the water.

We continued just day sailing along the coast with a new anchorage each night. The fishing was good but we were rather unlucky due to the fact that the fish were so big. We hooked one fish and the line broke before we managed to reel it in. We did catch one hound fish which provided a light meal for us, but we then hooked a big silver fish like a salmon which broke the rod in two, then broke the line as we tried to hand him in.

Our last anchorage in Puerto Rico was Bahia Boqueron. Here we found several yachts, including some old friends, poised to cross the dreaded Mona Channel to the Dominican Republic. This stretch of water gets its bad reputation from the strong winds and currents, and shallow banks which cause short, high, confused seas which are difficult, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous to sail in. Going from south to north, the way we were going was easier because we had the wind and tide with us. We also had calm settled weather and motored some of the way but sailed most of the distance.

Samana and the waterfa11s.

We arrived in Samana in the afternoon. We had dinner out at Morgan’s, the gregarious owners ‘Wally and Natividad’ insist that every yacht passing through should write a message on the wall of their restaurant.

We had already agreed while we were in Boqueron that Ebbstream would arrange an expedition inland and we would all go together and share the costs. Yachts 'Seaborne' and "Opus' had also agreed to join in. At the last moment two single-handed sailors joined us, one of them was a German girl named Susan of 'Glory'. The expedition was arranged through a quayside fixer, Philip.

We started early the next morning. Ice, drinks and dead chickens were loaded into a minibus, with ten yachties, three local men and the driver. Brian had forgotten to charge the video camera batteries so he plugged them into the vehicle cigar lighter socket, and looking around for a safe place to put the battery charger he opened the glove compartment. There he was faced with a very large automatic handgun. The driver’s hand came across and snapped the compartment closed again, and a wave of the hand told Brian he should not be nosing into the compartment.

We set off through the town, mainly a collection of poorly built single story dwellings. The few good buildings were mostly business premises along the sea front. At the end of the town we turned off the tarmac road onto a track and climbed into the mountains. There were no more concrete or brick buildings, just shacks made from wood board. They were not gaily painted like the Caribbean homes of the islands to the south, but were stark and utilitarian. There seemed enough to eat, this was an agricultural area of hill farmer smallholdings, and the people were fit and healthy as far as we could see. It was remarkably clean of litter and old cans. We speculated that this might be because a plastic bag or a metal can might be a luxury. But this might not give credit to a people who seemed clean and hardworking with a strong sense of community; apparent from the numerous small simple churches we passed in the villages.

We stopped at a hill farm and were shown the crops being grown, the well, the simple house and bare utility furniture. We saw the clay cooker that the food was prepared on. We carried on and the road became more difficult. We transversed muddy ruts with the wheels spinning, dodged pigs scurrying across the road, and passed open sheds were men were stripping copra from the coconuts. We finally stopped in a village and got out. The farmer and his household welcomed us. The chickens were handed over, to be cooked using the traditional village style.

Horses were brought to the farm, and with comedy and humour we each somehow clambered aboard the rough leather saddles. With a guide walking the horse we made shakily for the forest. This was no 'New Forest Pony Trek. We were slithering down forty-five degree slopes trying to stop sliding down the head of the horse, then scrambling up a similar slope hanging on for dear life trying not to slide back over the tail. The path was narrow and tricky and the horse would occasionally stumble or pass under a rather too low branch, making the rider form contortions with his, or her body, to try to stay in the saddle. Some decided it was safer to walk. But most people, including Joyce and Brian (the fools), continued on horseback and arrived sore but undamaged at the waterfalls after walking the last half-mile, it was too rough for the horses. It was a glorious waterfall, with clean fresh water cascading down a drop of at least 100 ft. Most of us had a swim, a particularly refreshing experience after our sweaty muddy trek, especially since some of us had not had a shower for weeks.

The ride back to the village seemed quicker than our ride to the waterfall. We may have been turning into proper horse riders by then. We collected around the table of our host in the village and feasted on the chickens and vegetables that had been cooked for us while we were on our trek. It had been another exciting day never to be forgotten.


The Balmy Bahamas

We were generally somewhat disappointed with the Bahamas, but this may have been because we did not give them enough time. The places we visited were rather quiet. The Bahamas seems to be the place to 'get away from it all', and to sleep in the sun. The weather had an important influence on the impression one gets of an island. A cloudy day can make a place seem dull and uninteresting, but a bright sun and blue sky will give the sea its famous aqua marine colours and make it stunningly beautiful. The islands are sparsely populated with few facilities, but the shallow sea is full of fascinating life if you know where to look. We sailed through late in the season, so the lovely beaches were deserted. The water throughout the Bahamas was crystal clear.

Our favourite area was the Exuma Cays. This comprises of a long row of small islands with deep ocean water on one side and shallow banks on the other. Even a shallow draft yacht like Tusk must go far off the direct course to navigate the banks on the shallow side of the islands. Some of the islands are a national park, and fishing and hunting is forbidden. The park headquarters are at Waderick Wells. This is a beautiful anchorage, protected by low islands. Large Conch shells could be found all along the shore.

To help visitors find their way around the park there are trails marked Boy Scout style with pieces of coloured ribbon tied to the bushes. We followed one of these trails through the bush, over rocks and lava, admiring the flora and fauna, until we came to an idyllic beach with warm shallow water and golden sand. We stayed there all by ourselves for the rest of the day.

When we left Waderick wells we sailed on the deep ocean side, and as soon as we were outside the park perimeter we trailed a fishing line. Rounding the north point of Highborne Cay we hooked a fish and started reeling it in. I felt a sudden strong tug, then the line went light When the fish was hauled in it was clear that it would have been a good meal for two, except the back half had been bitten off by something very big as it had been reeled in. We trailed the line again and halfway across between Highborne and Allen Cay we had another heavy strike. We had to stop the boat in order to haul it in and as it came along side it looked something like a red snapper, but must have been near 50 lbs weight. The rod was bending too much when Brian tried to lift the fish out of the water; we had no gaff or net! So Brian grabbed the line and lifted. The line broke, and the fish slunk to the bottom and slowly swam away.

Trouble always seems to come in threes. When we got going again we had to pay close attention to our piloting because this area was shallow. We meticulously followed the route shown in the pilot book along the east side of SW Allens Cay and ran aground. On a falling tide we were stuck there for two hours while the tide finished ebbing, and then flooded into the Cay again. The crew of yacht Safi came over in their dinghy to see if they could help, and then stayed until we were afloat again.


Gourmet Corner

We cannot pass by the Caribbean without mentioning the Conch, (pronounced Konk). This is a large shellfish like a giant whelk, but is far superior. It lives on the bottom of the sea, we think in about 5 to 10 ft of water, and can sometimes be found crawling over the sandy areas. The fishermen go out to the banks in small boats, often traditional sailing craft, and dive for the Conch. The locals say you should eat the Conch raw when it is so fresh it is still trying to crawl off your plate. To prepare the Conch, a hole is knocked in the shell, and the conch can then be extracted, several inedible parts are cut off with a sharp knife. The Conch is then hammered with a mallet in the same way as you would tenderise a steak. The flat white flesh is then criss-crossed with cuts and it is ready for the plate.

One Conch is enough for one person. It is served with salad, which should have only a light dressing, and fresh lime is squeezed over the Conch. Absolutely delicious.


Summary of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To:                 Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

1991                                                    Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/knots

9Feb/1Mar      Anchored-English harbour, Antigua:                               Beautiful and 1ively

1Mar               Sailed towards Barbuda, back to English Harbour due to bad weather:

2Mar               Charlestown, Nevis,      56     11        1      E/8-18            lovely beach, good walks

5Mar               Ballast Bay, St Kitts      10       2        0      E/16-20          Uninhabited bay, nice.

7Mar               Basseterre, St Kitts          6       1        0      E/5-15            Tatty, good volcano expedition.

9Mar               StOranjestad.StEustatius23    15        1      E/4-11            Slow sail, did not go ashore,

10 Mar            Gustavia, St Barthelemy 29      8        1      E/2-14            French, not very friendly

13Mar             Philipsburge, St Martin  14       4        0      E/8-14            Dutch, touristy, good shopping.

15Mar             Simpson’s Bay, St Martin 4       1        1      None              Nice anchorage.

16/17Mar        Roadtown. Tortola, BVI. 93   29        5      SE-NE/3-7     Laid back, nice pub, friendly

28Mar             Cooper Island,                 7       2        0      E/15-18          Nice, but crowded anchorage

29Mar             The Baths! Virgin Gorda 10      3        1      E/20               Windward slog, baths are fun

29Mar             Spanishtown,VirginGorda        3        1      1                    E/12           Nice marina and good jump up.

30Mar             LeverickBay,VirginGorda 5      1        1      E-NE/15-20   Small and touristy.

1Apr                Biras Creek                      3       1        1      None              Lovely hotel, beach and food

4Apr                Great Harbour. Peter Isl. 16      5        1      E/2-12            Nice anchorage.

4Apr                Roadtown, Tortola,         6       1        1      E/15               Visas and Morse code study,

24Apr              The Bight, Norman Isle   6       2        1      SE/l0-15        Nice swimming and snorkelling

25Apr              Cruz Bay, St Johns        10       4        0      SE/8-1O        Nice harbour, but crowded.

26Apr              Charlotte Amalie            l3       5        0      SE/8-l0          Busy, carnival time.

1May               EnsenadaHonda,Culebra 4       6        6      None              Difficult customs official poor.

3May               Playa De Naguabo         28       9        3      SE/0-10         Nice, did not go ashore.

4May               Puerto Patillas                25       8        0      SE/5-10         Small holiday resort

5May               Ponce Marina, PR          42     10        2      SE/0-10         Interesting City

8Mav               Bahia Fosforesente,       30       7        1      Var/3-14        Phosphorescent effects

9May               Isla Margueyes                3       1        1      None              Small holiday town

10Mar             Bahia De Boqueron, PR 22       6        3      SE/2-14         Cheap Oysters on the quay

12/l4May         Samana, Dom Rep       160     41      16      Var/4-12        Basic, but quite pretty.

19/21May        Mathewtown,Gtlnagua330     62        9      E-SE/4-l8       Poor, not very interesting

23/24May        Datian Bay, Acklins Isl.90     24        7      Var-E/2-l4     Seems plenty of fish

25May             Fortune Isiand,LongCay32    10        3      E/6-20            Didn’t go ashore, barren

26/27May        New Bight. Cat Isle    122     27        7      E/9-20            Beach and Jeromes Hermitage

28/29May        Sansom Cay, Exuma     65     22        6      E/4-10            Small Marina Complex

30Mar             Waderick Wells, Bha     20       8        5      E/4                 Nature Reserve, lovely.

1June               Allens Cay, Bha            25       9        9      None              Popular anchorage, nice.

2Jun                Nassau, New Province  35       9        9      None              The capital, disappointing.

9Jun                Chub Cay, Bha              36       8        7      NE/2-10         Marina complex, quiet

11/l2Jun          Gun Cay, Bha                80     19        2      ENE/10-15    Swimming with barracuda

12/l3Jun          Ft Lauderdale, USA      55     14        3      E/5-12            Terrific Place, Venice of USA.


Chapter 9



Electric Storms

Torrential Rain

Fierce Line Squalls

Scorching hot and freezing cold

But the USA is still fantastic




On Yer bike Joyce – To St Michaels.

See ‘Oxford and St Michaels’




Ft Lauderdale, Florida.

Crossing of the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas to Ft Lauderdale was rather quiet. We did it overnight and the predominant memory was of the awe-inspiring glow of lights over the horizon in front of us. We over allowed for a north flowing current and approached Ft Lauderdale from the south. As soon as we were through the entrance we were agog at the beautiful riverside houses, the smoothly manicured lawns and gardens, the creeks and canals lined with expensive yachts. Ft Lauderdale deserves its reputation as Venice of the USA, albeit a modern wood, glass, steel and concrete Venice.

We stopped at Lauderdale Marina to collect our mail, phone customs and immigration, this was a problematical procedure, and these officials were always difficult to contact throughout out visit. We also bought a street map of Lauderdale that showed all the canals. 'Pony' on 'Rassamond' had tipped us off on the radio, telling us of the best place to tie up. So we used our map to help us chug up the New River to find a spot by the 4th Avenue Bridge. We found a lovely position near to 'Rasamond', at 35c/ft /day, electricity and water included. We were alongside a quiet road yet in the middle of the city, next to a supermarket, near the bus station and several large chandlery shops.

We got a bus map from the bus station giving all the routes, times of first and last buses, and their frequency of running. It was possible to travel to any part of the city for less than 1$. When we knew we would be using buses a lot we bought a weekly bus pass which made travel even cheaper. We unloaded our bicycles and found cycling was convenient and pleasurable, if you were careful. Many roads had cycle tracks, although these were often bumpy and uncomfortable. We also used the Tri-rail train which runs from Miami to Palm Beach all along the coast, it had a free feeder bus network, and tickets only a few dollars for a days unlimited travelling.

We joined the Seven Seas Cruising Association, they have their office in Ft Lauderdale, and several members extended the hospitality of their homes to us.

We were only in Lauderdale for a few days before we discovered the New River Saloon and Raw Bar, which had reduced price drinks and free food from 4pm until 7pm. When we went there with friends off yacht 'Seaborne', a couple of young ladies were parading around in lingerie trying to sell the stuff by means of a raffle. Our friend bought so many tickets we wondered if he knew it was only the lingerie that was being raffled. We were able to get our computer repaired, and while we waited for the parts to arrive we had quite a few cruising friends to socialise with including Energetic, Verity and Rassamond. We were still in Lauderdale for July the 4th (independence) celebrations. We spent the day on the beach looking at the 'Sandblast' competition, where people were building sand sculptures. Our favourite was called 'Hy, wake up its 4th of July', a slob lounging on a settee in front of a TV, all in sand. Ice creams and pita bread sandwiches bought from stalls on the beach kept us going and we also watched the 'Welcome Home The (Desert Storm) Forces ceremony and a USAF fly pass. We finished the day having a BBQ with Carl and Patty of Verity and watched the 4th July fireworks from a balcony near to their berth.

By this time we were ready to start our move north, to explore America.



The Waterway.

The east coast of North America is peppered with rivers, large and small, pouring into the sea, often through huge estuaries. There are also long stretches of marshes, swamp and lakes and it is often not obvious whether you are in fresh water or salt. In other places, islands and sandbanks offshore protect navigable inshore passages from the fierce Atlantic Ocean The USA Corps of Engineers have used these coastal features to provide a protected waterway between Norfolk Virginia and Key West in south Florida. They cut canals, dredged channels in the marshes and lakes, modified rivers and provided a continuous waterway from north to south. It was built for strategic reasons, to protect USA coastal shipping from enemies. It carries substantial commercial traffic, but is now overwhelmingly used for recreational purposes. People in small boats can fish, water ski, just potter about, or cruise in relative safety.

Most cruising boats travelling along the east coast use this waterway and can find a different anchorage every night, lovely restaurants, and many fascinating towns to explore. The alternative, sailing outside, means sailing out into the ocean, pretty much out of sight of land in order to clear the sandbanks, a night at sea, risk of bad weather, and missing all the little places in between the main navigable estuaries. There is almost nothing actually on the ocean coast that a yacht can visit, everything is on the waterway. The ruling depths of the waterway are l2ft for most of the way, from Norfolk Virginia to Ft Pierce Florida, then 10ft down to Miami, and 7ft south of there. There are many bridges to go through. Some open on demand (just call them on VHF radio and they open), some have fixed times for opening, and some bridges are fixed with a clearance of 65 ft. Our draft of less than 4 ft was useful, we could use many anchorages that were inaccessible to larger yachts.

Navigation in the waterway is straightforward. Numbered port and starboard markers on posts, some with lights, show the way through the channels. Groundings are common, usually due to not reading the chart, or a few moments of inattention, or due to cutting the bends. America introduced us to 'Chart Kits’, which are ring bound books of complete folios of charts for the area/route covered by the 'kit'. These are so good they are sure to catch on in other parts of the world.

It is occasionally possible to sail, especially on the larger estuaries, but unless you have all the time in the world it is mostly necessary to motor. We started at Ft Lauderdale and worked north, and we would not have missed any of it. There was much built up urban development for many miles but the buildings are spaced out, with gardens and parks. There was no 'closed in feeling' and it was quite interesting to have a view of the homes and gardens lining the waterway. It became less interesting when the waterway widened out, and the dredged channel was a long way from the shore, making it difficult to see features on the shore. But the urban development gave way to dense forest, then large estuaries and coastal marshes. You can travel several days without passing a town. Eventually after passing through the Dismal Swamp we reached the Chesapeake, a legendary sailing area with literally thousands of gunk hole anchorages.

Shopping was a problem because out of town shopping centres with gigantic parking areas have resulted in town centre decay, or the redevelopment of the town centre as a tourist village. So transport is often needed to get to the grocery stores: Some marinas have courtesy cars you can borrow to get your shopping. Sometimes a phone call to the grocery store would result in transport being sent for you. At other times an enquiry as to the whereabouts of the nearest grocery shop resulted in us being bundled into a car and being driven there and back. Taxis were used occasionally, and sometimes it was actually possible to walk, bike, or get a bus.

The thing that is most likely to strike you when you arrive in the USA is lightning. Florida in billed the lightning capital of the world. Of the cruising boats we kept in touch with, three had direct lightning strikes. Two having almost all their electrical and electronic gear destroyed or damaged, whilst one, who had his mast bonded to the keel for lightning protection, had no damage at all. We met several other boats that were getting repairs to lightning damage, including one who described having showers of sparks across the deck when hit. These storms also bring fierce line squalls and heavy rain. The other problem is the potential for hurricanes, and our experience of this is described later.

It was very hot when we arrived in Ft Lauderdale in June, but by October when we were in Annapolis we had dense fog and near freezing temperatures. Under these conditions you need a heater in the boat to survive comfortably. Weather forecasting is very good but you do need to be able to receive the special USA VHF channels WX1, 2 and 3. Some. British and international VHF sets do not have these channels, but small weather radio receivers are available from yacht chandlers for $30 or $40. We were able to listen to the continuous forecasts and know exactly where the dangerous lightning storms were and we would anchor, or press on in order to try to avoid them. If we could not avoid them we tried to anchor, so that Tusk was electrically 'grounded' as best as we could by means of the anchor chain.

We found USA relatively cheap but in the end we did spend a lot of money. Our excess expenditure was mostly on new equipment. Food was of the best quality and reasonably priced. A free anchorage is always possible to find, but a longer stay in some large towns usually necessitates using a quayside berth or marina, and prices ranged from 50c a foot to 150 cents a foot per night We filled our water tanks free of charge whenever we went to a fuel dock.


Donald Duck and the Spaceman.

Our first main sightseeing stop was Cocoa Beach. We hired a car and headed for the Kennedy Space Centre. There was too much to see and absorb in one day. There were several galleries as soon as you get through the gate. They were a noisy dazzling collection of exhibits using animatronics, audiovisual displays and 'hands on' computer video screens to describe the universe and the space program. These galleries are dominated by a 'parking lot' of full sized rockets. We were able to walk through a space shuttle, and see how the working areas were laid out. We took bus tours to the launch site of the Apollo moon missions and the space shuttles, and also to Cape Canaveral to see the launch sites of the first American astronauts. What impressed us most were two IMAX movies. The screen is over five stories high and the visual effect is very absorbing. In 'The Dream Is Alive' we experienced a high-speed emergency evacuation from a launch platform that is so realistic we felt our stomach left behind. The other film 'Blue Planet' has some awesome photography covering the natural history of the earth. We left the Space Centre frazzled, but most impressed.

Next day we struggled out at dawn, for the drive to Orlando, to visit Disney World. This complex is so vast you need a week to see it all we decided we would get a taste by visiting the Epcot Centre. We started off with the ride 'Space Ship Earth' covering the history of communications. We saw 'The Living Seas', the world’s largest man made salt-water environment with more than 80 species, and we saw manatees properly for the first time. We visited "The Land' a sail through tropical rain forest, desert, American plains, and developments in agriculture. When we had enough of the rides we visited the World Showcase, pavilions depicting different countries. Late at night, there was a spectacular fireworks display. We headed back to Tusk, exhausted.


Beaufort, North Carolina.

We passed through so many interesting towns on our way through the waterway, that we almost feel guilty about choosing Beaufort NC to describe a typical stopover. Beaufort is rather touristy, but retains a lot of charm. There are two Beaufort's, spelt the same way, one pronounced 'Bowfort' and the other pronounced 'Boofort'. Both have much in common as being historic towns on the waterway, but about 335 miles apart. We are writing about 'Bowfort' spelt Beaufort Pew!

We anchored in Taylor Creek opposite Beaufort House Restaurant. The road facing Taylor Creek has apparently been recently rejuvenated. The shops provide a kaleidoscope of old and new tourist nick knacks and clothes. There is a large post office, which we used as a forwarding address. The waterside shops included a gas shop where we were able to refill our gas bottles, and a small chandlery shop, where we bought a few bits for Tusk. There are quite a few restaurants, but none of them cheap. We had a meal in the Beaufort House Restaurant, which was posh and most crowded, it was over $60 but we left unimpressed with the meal. On our way south later in the year we had Chilli Beans and French bread, wine and beer in Royal James Cafe/Billiards, for less than 5$ for two. We thought that was more fun.

There are three main attractions in Beaufort, the Maritime Museum, and a town square of renovated and reconstructed colonial houses, and a district of beautiful old houses. The Maritime Museum was of particular interest since it concentrated on the natural history and watercraft of local waters. There was also a substantial library of maritime books with a comfortable lounge, handy for rainy days. Visiting yachtsmen could borrow a museum courtesy car. In our two hours with the car we got groceries, and had a drive around the old colonial houses. We enjoyed Beaufort, as we did other towns along the waterway, but eventually one must move on.


Bob gives us a fright.

At the start of our round the world voyage, we originally planned to cruise the Windward Islands, and then proceed to the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. When we diverted our course towards the USA we had not done any 'homework' and did not have any tangible plan of what we were intending to do We had an idea that we should get to the USA mainland before the start of the hurricane season, and then we would cruise north in the intercostals stat waterway.

We gleaned more information from other Yachties and found that the USA coast was very much in the hurricane belt. We were told that there would be no problem in the waterway because there were so many rivers that you can always find a good hurricane hole in which to shelter. The east coast of the USA is so heavily populated that it seemed it must be safe enough. We were also told to get well north before August the high-risk period and we would have no problems.

All this advice is based only on half-truths, and anyone cruising anywhere on the USA east coast during the period June to November, had better be well aware that he is cruising in a hurricane area. In Florida, the TV has frequent programs explaining the forces of a hurricane, its potential for death and destruction, and the measures people should take in advance, and when a hurricane is imminent. Evacuation routes are marked with road signs to enable the mass exodus of the coastal population to 'safer' inland areas. Opening bridges are to be closed many hours before the hurricane is due, both to allow vehicles to use the bridges, and to save the bridges from destruction since they are stronger in the closed position. Boats cannot be sure of being able to pass through bridges to a safer area in the hours before a hurricane is due.

The chief danger, apart from the very strong winds, is the wall of water, which the hurricane drives ashore. Sometimes 20ft or more high, this has been known to sweep houses off their foundations and pick up big Shrimp boats tied up in the intracoastal, waterway and dump them a mile inland. Long tracts of the waterway have no protection except for one-foot high marsh grass between the waterway and the ocean. Someone told us that the biggest single cause of death in a hurricane is people who stay on their boats to look after them. Which brings us to Bob.

We heard of Bob even before he was born. He was described as a tropical depression 300 miles east of Miami. This was entered in our log at the time, 16th August. Later that day Bob was described as a tropical storm, and we knew we had a potential problem. We arrived in Belhaven that night and anchored off the town. Next morning we rowed over to two other boats nearby to exchange notes on what best to do and talked to the coastguard on VHF. We established four possible strategies, weighed up the risks of each, and decided we should investigate the upper reaches of the Pungo River for a possible hurricane hole in which to hide. Bob was by this time a full Hurricane. The weather forecasters were giving risk figures of a direct hit for major towns. Belhaven was on the list and the risk was rising with every forecast.

We refuelled and headed up the Pungo River. About 8 miles up it narrowed, and became shallower. There were several bends. The river had soft muddy banks. The surrounding area was marsh, and beyond the marsh there were trees. Finally we were stopped from going any further by a bridge. The river was wide below the bridge so we anchored in the middle with plenty of water all around. People on the shore soon hailed us and we rowed over to see them. They introduced themselves as Wayne and Becky, were very friendly, and offered to let us tie to their jetty. We were safer at anchor so we declined the offer, but we did have a few iced cokes at their riverside house before we returned to Tusk.

We dug in two CQR anchors, and one Danforth, but our big fisherman anchor would not hold in the soft mud. We stripped everything off the deck, sails, halyards and ropes, boom, spinnaker poles, life raft, and even the boom gallows, and stored them below to reduce windage on the hull. We only finished at midnight The forecast was now giving our area as being high risk for a direct hit by hurricane Bob within the next 24 hrs. We were both in a state of physical and nervous exhaustion after all the hard work and the threat of the hurricane. It was difficult to sleep that night. The weather was calm and clear, but it was also very hot.

Next morning we rowed ashore to find the riverside inhabitants were mostly preparing to leave their weekend homes early due to the storm. We gratefully accepted a lift with our new friends Wayne and Becky to the nearest inland town, and we checked into a Motel. The weather was becoming increasingly dirty. We spent the afternoon and all night watching TV for the progress of Bob. Luckily, he veered east and passed still out to sea, giving our anchorage nothing more that a strong gale. By the early hours of the morning we knew Tusk should be safe from the hurricane. After breakfast we phoned a person we knew had not vacated his riverside house beside Tusk. He was able to tell us Tusk was all-OK, and offered to collect us at our Motel and take us back, an offer we gratefully accepted. That same day Bob hit the Eastern Seaboard north of us and miraculously only took two lives. At Falmouth Massachusetts some 300 to 400 boats were cast ashore, hit by other boats or sunk. At Provincetown, more than 80 boats were damaged or sunk and the marina was destroyed. A total of 6000 boats were damaged by Bob according to the insurance companies. Luckily Tusk was not one of them, because we are not insured.

It took us nearly two days to refit all the equipment we had stripped off above decks but we were just very relieved we had taken all possible precautions and suffered no damage.


The Rose Buddies.

Elizabeth City is a town that has had better days. It used to be a busy sea trading port. For sure, it would receive more trade but for the fact that the waterway splits in two. The main commercial and deep draft traffic taking the Intracoastal Waterway to the east, and the smaller boats using the Great Dismal Swamp route, which takes you through Elizabeth City.

The municipality have made Elizabeth City a favoured stopping point by providing free dockage for yachts staying for only one or two nights. Also, two retired gentlemen make it a fun place to stop by meeting the boats arriving in the afternoon, and giving the lady a freshly picked rose, and the captain a free copy of the local newspaper. If there are more than 3 boats at the dock, they set up a table and have a wine and cheese party as a welcome for the visitors. We missed the wine and cheese because of bad weather, but we otherwise did enjoy Elizabeth City. It was convenient for groceries, bank, launderette, and post office. The tourist office gave us a (free) town walk map giving a route, and explaining the year built the history and special architectural features of the old buildings.

We had completed the walk and were admiring the largest old house in the town when Joyce wanted her photo taken on the porch of the house. Brian was reluctant and did not like the idea of Joyce encroaching on private property. So trying to get it over with quickly we positioned ourselves to take the photo, and suddenly the door opened. Next thing, we were inside, and being given a guided tour of the house, and a potted family history of the people who had lived there. The gentleman was the owner, and the last in the line of the Robinson family that had owned the house since it was built. One more example of many experiences we had of the warm-hearted hospitality of the Americans we met


Norfolk and Portsmouth.

Norfolk and Portsmouth are just on opposite sides of the Elizabeth River. As you come down the Elizabeth River from the Dismal Swamp Canal you first see a few small naval patrol vessels. Then a few submarines divert your attention, and then large grey ships with weird appendages on the deck and hull, battleships with guns and missile launchers. Finally, in the lower reaches you may see one of the largest ships to roam the ocean, the aircraft carriers.

We anchored off Hospital point, and bought a two day 'discover tidewater passport' which gave us unlimited free use of the local trolleys, a guided tour of the Naval base, a guided tour of Norfolk, and the old town of Portsmouth, and a tour of the Naval Air Station, and unlimited use of the Norfolk/Portsmouth ferry.

We could not see it all, but we did see the Naval Base, Norfolk, and old Portsmouth. Joyce’s favourite tour was of the Hill house in Portsmouth. It is only open a few hours a week for tours which are arranged on a voluntary basis by the Portsmouth historical association. A dear old lady who could hardly climb the stairs showed us around this house, built in the 1800's. The furnishings provide evidence of gracious living of the family over a period of fifty years. Many fascinating early domestic appliances were on show.

We had fish and chips at a pub in the Waterside shopping mall overlooking the river, and forgot we did not have a light on our dinghy. Half way across the river, returning to Tusk in the dark, we were apprehended by the coastguard for not having a light. When they heard our 'English' and 'Irish' accents, they let us off with a warning.

We used our trolley pass to visit Virginia Beach, a popular Atlantic beach town for sun worshipers and fun makers. It had a lovely beach covered in red and brown bodies, and had a brash glitzy main street but we were glad to be going back to our quiet waterway.


Crab Bash.

We decided to anchor for the night in the Little Wicoinico River. The surrounding country was an attractive mix of forest and farm, with pleasant houses dotted along the rivers edge. There were bends in the river, and bays and tributaries. We were tempted to sail further up the river. After four miles we anchored, it was a beautiful spot. A small sport boat drew alongside and hailed 'this is a Golden Hind isn't it.' Andy and his wife Marge had previously owned a Golden Hind named Pelican We invited Andy on board, but he said he couldn't because he had a party at his house, but we were welcome to join his party. We got into his boat and sped over to the house.

Andy had been across to Tangier Island, and bought a bushel of fresh live crabs. It was soon time to put them in the cooking pot. This resulted in much comedy as the crabs tried to escape. With everybody in bare feet it was a battle as the crabs scrambled out of the basket and defended themselves by making aggressive lunges at bare toes. With much hopping, dancing and squealing, and nifty handling of tongs, and the deft and daring use of fingers, the crabs were rounded up and put in the pot, seasoned, and put on the stove. When cooked they were drained, then paper spread over the tables, and the crabs were piled high on two tables with small bowls of seasoning and vinegar. We were given a wooden mallet and our host showed us how to break open the crabs, and remove the edible parts. With much banging and clattering the whole party set into the pile of crabs, and a really good feed was had by all. It was hard work, and as someone quipped, you don’t get full eating crabs, you just get tired.

By the end of our meal we could see a spectacular lightning storm approaching. We sped out to Tusk as the heavy rain started, and the lightning could be heard sizzling into the forest. Andy had an alarming trip back to his house with bolts of lightning all round while we watched from the shelter of our cabin.




Brian Meets Alexandria's Fair Lady


18th Century Fair

We sailed to Alexandria, an old town on the perimeter of Washington DC. Our guidebook said there was to be a fair that weekend, but we found in fact it was to be the next weekend. So we moved on to Washington DC. We returned to Alexandria the next Saturday with friends on the yacht Rassamond', in order to see the fair. It is a lovely old town, with plenty of sightseeing, shops, and delightful pubs selling real ale, a rarity in the USA.

One of the prominent attractions is the waterside Torpedo Factory, now converted into nearly 200 art and craft studios where you can browse around and watch artists at work, and buy their creations. But the 18th century fair was something else. It was set in the town square, and along the street by the Gadsby Tavern. The Tavern and the old houses lining the street were a perfect setting. Many people were dressed in 18th century clothes, and would only speak to you in 18th century dialect. They would not admit any knowledge of affairs not of the eighteenth century. There was so much going on that while you were at one end of the street watching or participating, you were missing something going on at the other end of the street. We were introduced to a lady. She was really interested in knowing when we had arrived in the America's, and wanted to know what the passage was like, and did we have a nice cabin. When she was told that we were crew, not passengers, she backed off a little and withdrew her hand from Joyce as though we might have the plague. With a sour lemon look she made excuses to go. The next lady we met, the one in the photo, was more friendly, but slipped a little card into Brian’s hand which said, 'if for Pleasure you are out. Look for Me, I'll be about, Megan'.

We were treated to militia musters and drills, with jolly loud musket fire, there was an 18th century court where the mob (us) passed sentence on the guilty. There was a gunsmith at work, basket makers, potters and artists. Roving mongers hawking their wares and various food stalls. We bought some home made bread at one stall, and our lunch was a white cabbage leaf filled with two chunks of cheese, bread, grapes, apple, pickles and radish. A more environmentally friendly snack would be difficult to imagine since we even ate the cabbage leaf. All afternoon there were strolling musicians, exhibition dancing.

Joyce had some fun joining in with the Glee Club singing. There were campaign speeches and elections and an auction. The auction was really amusing since at first the crowd were nervous at bidding, and some real bargains went in the early stages. There were some rather strange items, and most of the sales talk by the auctioneer was funny in the extreme. As everybody entered into the spirit of the thing, the bidding became fierce, and some items then sold for way over their real value. There were children’s games all down the street, and a Punch and Judy puppet show attracted children of all ages, including us.


Washington DC, the Capital

We anchored off the Capital Yacht club. There was no charge for the anchorage, and for 3$ per day, we could use the yacht club facilities, which included a secure dinghy dock, a clubroom with comfortable chairs and coffee always on the brew, a bar, toilets and shower and a coin laundry with driers. The friendliness of the members is terrific.

The anchorage is central to all the sights in the city and almost all is within walking distance. We did manage to visit most of the popular sites. We saw the U.S Capitol building. There was an excellent guided tour, but we were amazed at being allowed to wander around the building on our own after the tour. We had a tour of the White House, no photographs allowed, and it all seemed a bit artificial. We did see the preparations for a State visit of the President of Senegal, with the razzmatazz of all the troops and bands mustering on the ellipse in front of the White house, and the sergeant telling his squad 'not to cock it up'. We visited the park with the Presidential Memorials. A British scientist James Smithson willed his fortune to the US to establish a centre for scientific learning. The Institution prospered and has created a number of fascinating museums and art galleries as part of its program. Of these we visited the Air and Space Museum, and the Museum of American History. Guided tours around these museums were excellent. We also saw the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where all the dollar bills are produced. It is amazing to see piles of dollar bills being moved around on forklift pallets. We visited the FBI headquarters, but this was the only disappointment, it was just a poster board museum, and the target range was out of commission. We visited the Union Station, said to be the last of the great train stations. Built in the Beaux Arts style after the Diocletian baths and Arch of Constantine in Roma.

We took a bus out to Georgetown and used the metro underground train to visit a huge out of town shopping mall called Tyson’s.

There was a big seafood market next to our anchorage and one night on Tusk we had a (Pony's birthday) meal of blue crabs, shrimps oysters, and clams, and Sylvia produced a home (ship) baked birthday cake.

The Capital Yacht club had an appreciation day for the police, fire brigade and coast guard services, to which visiting yachtsmen were also invited. We enjoyed barbecue food and drinks, chatted to the service personnel and became friendly with Ken, of the Washington bomb squad. Ken invited Pony of Rassamond, (who is an ex London bobby), for a cruise on the Potomac in a police launch, and Pony kindly asked if we could come as well. So it was the next day we had a delightful cruise up the Potomac River to Georgetown in a police launch, with an interesting commentary on local affairs.

Tragically, the elderly lady who had done most of the organising of the appreciation day died suddenly and unexpectedly due to a heart condition. In her will she left a sum of money to be used for a party to be held in the clubhouse in her memory. So, we were again invited to food and drinks at the club. We were all given a hydrogen filled balloon and at sunset, there was a gun salute by the club starting gun, letting off of the balloons, and a sail past of the city fire launch with all water guns firing arches of water into the air. We are sure that lady would have been proud of her send off.

At the memorial party we met Ken again with his wife Ruth. They invited us, and yacht Yarandoo II to a barbecue at their house. We took a bouquet of roses for Ruth to show our appreciation. It was pleasantly relaxing to visit an American family home and we had a terrific time, met some of Kens and Ruths friends, had lovely snacks and nibbles, and a fine barbecue. A marvellous finish to our stay in Washington.


Oxford and St Michaels

We left Washington to get to Annapolis for the boat show. We had not left ourselves much time for this, so we had to be selective about the places we would stop at on the way. Since St Michael is the brand name of Joyce’s favourite clothing store that might have had some influence. But in any event, it is doubtful it we could have made any better choice.

Oxford is on the Tred Avon River, off the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay. The east side of the Chesapeake is a peninsular and has always been rather remote, from what we saw it retains an old world charm. Oxford, originally a tobacco port, then an oyster-canning centre, is now a waterman’s and tourist town. We anchored in Town Creek, and rowed ashore to wander up and down the old streets. We had been told we could catch a ferry across the Tred Avon and then bicycle to St Michaels. So next morning we unloaded the bikes and we were on our way, not far, since the gears on Brian’s bike packed up. We had to wait an hour at the Oxford bike shop for the mechanic, because he was on voluntary duty driving the local ambulance.

We got going again and crossed on the ferry, then had a marvellous cycle in perfect weather through mainly country lanes to St Michaels. This town was not as sleepy as Oxford, and was more crowded. We had a pleasant light lunch at the Town Dock Restaurant overlooking the harbour, then looked at the shops around town. Best remembered was a garden shop with a huge pile of big yellow pumpkins and a scarecrow, reminding us that it was near to Halloween, and our wedding anniversary.

Just as we were ready to start our journey back we saw the crew of yacht Arion, who we met at Antigua earlier in the year. After chatting a while we realised we were late, and had to pedal furiously back catch the last ferry of the day across the river. Fortunately, we just made it.


Annapolis, and the Boat Show

We went into a bar on the waterfront just as the boat show was setting up. We were given a small plastic cup of beer and charged 3$. Brian said to the barman, 'that is the most expensive beer I have had in America, and the smallest glass', the waiter shrugged his shoulder and replied, 'that’s Annapolis at boat show time'. Apart from this type of blatant knavery, which we experienced several times in Annapolis, there were some bargains to be had at the show. The anchorage was delightful, free of charge, and only a stones throw away from the town centre and show. The town itself is an attractive old world place, and is very much a boating town. The show is billed as the worlds biggest, but I do not think that it is as big as the Earls Court London boat show: It is a bit of a ramshackle set up in tents around the town docks. It rained one day and it was a shambles. There were many sailing boats to look at afloat, but not so much equipment manufacturer representation as you get at the London show.

The main attraction for us was the discount retailers selling equipment fast at the lowest prices. Mostly they did not know much about what they were selling so you had to know what you wanted. But if you could prove someone else was offering an item at a lower price they would beat it to get the order. We bought just about every item on our wish list that we planned to buy some time in the future, busting our budget for yet another year. We will say more about these purchases later, when we will explain how we fitted everything.

The day we were ready to leave Annapolis we got a taxi to take our gas bottles for refill, and getting out of the taxi Joyce shut her thumb in the door. We rushed her off to hospital and she had ten stitches. She was very lucky more serious damage had not been done.



By the time we had finished with the boat show and taken delivery of our goodies, the weather had closed in. We had near freezing temperatures and thick fog. This was the end of October. Our Taylor paraffin cabin heater was giving trouble, but we found that the Force 10 brand of stove had the same burner, so we fitted a Force 10 burner and had no further problems. We had condensation inside the boat, but at least we were warm.

We had ski suits on board, and these were most effective in keeping us warm and comfortable while we were on the move. Boats that did not have heating had a hard time keeping warm. For all of us it was a race south to find the warmer weather, but it was not until we got to central Florida before it was comfortably warm again. The weather during the drive south was mostly quite dismal and overcast. The waterway took on a less kindly aspect. We were glad that we had done our sightseeing in the summer months while going north. The only place we lingered in on our southward journey was Charlestown. But we only stayed two days and got but a glimpse of the sights. We arrived at Ft Lauderdale with a huge list of jobs to do, and plans to fly back to the UK for a brief visit.




Summary of Tusks Log.


Date                Passage To                                     Dist      Remarks

13Jun/10Jul     (At Ft Lauderdale)                                      Joyce’s favourite

11Jun              Boca Raton                                      19      Nice suburban anchorage! difficult to get ashore.

12Jul               Palm Beach                                      25     

13Jul               Hobie Sound                                    20      Good stop at Vero, all services nearby.

14Jul               Vero Beach                                      48     

l5Jul                Cocoa Beach                                    48      Nice, handy to visit Space Center & Disney

19Ju1              Mosquito Lagoon                              3l        Pleasant anchorages, did not go ashore.

20Jul               Flagler                                              61     

21Jul               St Augustine                                    33      Nice town, wild forest and marshland.

22Jul               Pine Island                                       11     

23Jul               Fernandina                                       49      Both interesting places, Frederica area beautiful.

25Jul               Ft Frederica                                      47     

26Jul               Cattle Pen Creek                              45      Estuary and marshlands, wild and attractive.

27Jul               Moon River                                      30     

28Ju1              Isle Of Hope, Nr Savannah                5      Quiet spot, good for visiting Savannah by bus.

1Aug               Augustine Creek                               l2      Marshes/estuaries,

2Aug               Beaufort                                           42      Beaufort is a nice old town.

4Aug               Rock Creek                                      20      Marsh and forest

5Aug               Charlston                                          47      Did not go ashore

6Aug               Minim Creek                                    53      .

7Aug               Georgetown                                     13      Georgetown had a noisy paper mill

8Aug               Prince Creek                                     22      Wooded Banks

9Aug               Barefoot Landing                             27      Very touristy

10Aug             Lockwood’s Folly, Topsail              32     

11Aug             Topsail                                              56      Holiday resorts, easy stroll over to the ocean

12Aug             Swansboro                                        31     

13Aug             Beaufort NC                                    33      Beaufort is a sailors town, quite interesting.

15Aug             Ceder Creek                                     15      We had hurricane Bob to worry about

16Aug             Bell Haven                                       54      Bob was heading our way

17Aug             Leechville, Pungo River                   10      We find a hurricane hole, removed all deck gear.

20Aug             Alligator River                                 25      Wide rivers with wooded banks, no towns.

21Aug             David Bay                                        45     

22Aug             Elizabeth City                                    5      Fun place, must not miss.

24Aug             Dismal Swamp                                 22      Not dismal, good fishing for catfish

26Aug             Portsmouth/Norfolk                         28      Huge area, much to visit, very interesting.

29Aug             Willoughby Bay                                l2      Naval Air Base

30Aug             Sackson Creek                                  42      Commercial fishing port.

31Aug             Little Wicomico River                      27      Lovely wooded area, very friendly.

2/3Sept            Westmoreland Creek                        36      Pleasant sheltered anchorage

3Sept               Colonial Beach                                 20     

4Sept               Aquia Creek                                     30     

5Sept               Mount Vernon                                  25      Mt Vernon is prime tourist site

7Sep                Alexandria                                          9      Lively, and lots to see.

8Sep                Washington DC                                 6      Great City, many attractions

27Sep              Swan Creek                                      11      Lovely anchorage, forested.

28Sep              Mattawoman Creek                          17     

29Sep              Colonial Beach                                 40      Colonial Beach was a run down holiday resort.

30Sep              Smith Creek                                     31     

1 Oct               Solomon’s Island                             30      Busy, wall-to-wall sailing boats and Marinas.

3Oct                Oxford                                             34      Nice old town, attractive anchorage.

5 Oct               Galesville                                          31      A yacht dormitory, we met some nice friends.

7 Oct               Annapolis                                         12      A proper yachting town with full facilities.

30Oct              Solomon’s Island                             37      Very cold, no time for sightseeing.

31Oct              Cockrell Creek                                 40      Cold and showery

1Nov               Hampton Roads                               56      Lot of BIG traffic on the river, was hairy at night

2Nov               Portsmouth                                       15      Crowded anchorage

3Nov               Dismal Swamp                                 28      Dismal weather, helped to make a dismal swamp

4Nov               Elizabeth City                                  23      No room at the town quay, we anchor

5Nov               Alligator River                                 52      Cold nasty weather, but our engine overheats.

6Nov               Campbell Creek                                51     

7 Nov              Beaufort NC                                    51      We sit out a gale, well wrapped up

10Nov             Swansboro                                        22     

11Nov             Swan Point Marina                           20      We stop to sort out engine overheating, no luck

13Nov             Topsail Beach                                   17      Our new GPS is not working properly.

14Nov             Dutchman’s Creek                           48      Marsh and forest.

15Nov             Barefoot Landing                             44     

16Nov             Georgetown                                     50      Interesting old city, a place of characture

17Nov             Charlston Anchorage                       68     

20Nov             Church Creek                                   18      Held up at Wappoo Creek, bridge closed

21Nov             Beaufort                                           50      Barbecue ashore with other yachts

22Nov             St Augustine Creek                          40     

23Nov             Cattle Pen Creek                              49     

24Nov             Frederica Fort                                   45      Drinks on SY Helgi, also visited SY Sparkle

25Nov             Fernandina Beach                            36     

27Nov             South side of Atlantic Beach           16      Strong currents, two anchors used

28Nov             St Augustine                                    34     

29Nov             Cement Factory Creek                     31      Actually quite nice, despite its name

30Nov             Mosquito Lagoon                             51      Arrived after dark, using searchlight

1Dec               Merrit Island                                    45      Fine warm day

2Dec               Indian Harbour                                 10      Shopped at Winn Dixie

3Dec               Pine Island                                       37      Saw a large turtle

4Dec               North End of Hobie Sound             44      Cold and miserable weather

5Dec               Peanut Island, North Palm Beach    21      Anchored after running aground

6Dec               Boca Raton                                      26      High class shopping district

7Dec               St Andrews Bridge, Ft Lauderdale 23      Took a mooring


At least 90% of the above was motoring, we only sailed in the Chesapeake area and occasionally on the way south. We anchored or tied up every night. Mileages are shown it is statute miles, (the waterway is posted in statute miles not nautical miles


Chapter 10


Its not all sun, sightseeing and sundowners.
We have work to do!

When we arrived at Ft Lauderdale on the 7th December, we had been cruising for seventeen months without doing any major maintenance or having a haul out. By then we had too many serious maintenance items to ignore, and most of the equipment bought at the Annapolis show was still in cardboard boxes. There are a few places where everything needed for a yacht can be found, and Fort Lauderdale is one of those places. So we stayed.............and worked on Tusk.

The Mast Post.

The standard GH31 does not have a mast post. When Brian was deciding what boat to buy in 1979, the two major considerations were price and seaworthiness. The GH31 was the best option within his budget. Brian met with the builder, Terry Erskine, and said that he was happy about the price and the reputation of the boat but did not like the layout of the two standard interior designs. Terry said, "If you can draw out what you want, and it is practical, you can have a custom interior at no extra cost". Brian’s sketch was accepted, with a few small modifications. The main changes from the standard interior called for the heads (nautical speak for toilet) and hanging locker to be moved aft from the space between the main cabin and forepeak to the space next to the chart table and opposite the galley. The new heads door was in such a position that it could be closed across the cabin entrance. The main benefits were to make the main cabin seem more spacious, and to separate wet areas from dry areas. This was achieved because the forepeak and the main cabin became a sort of open plan area, which can be closed off into two separate areas. The heads, galley and chart table can all be used by the watch keeper, without dripping water in the main cabin or causing any disturbance to the off duty crew in the cabin sleeping quarters. It has been in use now for many years and we find it difficult to suggest any changes we would like in this basic layout.

Moving of the heads removed the internal box section that provided the main support under the mast. This explains why we needed a mast post in our GH31. The mast support installed was a wood hollow box section, sized to provide music cassette tape storage, and to provide one leg of our table If this mast post was placed directly under the mast, it would have been exactly between where people sit opposite each other at the table. So the post was put about thirty centimetres aft of the mast step. Terry advised that the calculations had been checked by an architect/surveyor and confirmed as satisfactory.

Discussions necessary to have Tusk built, were all carried out by letter and phone. Brian’s job in the Middle East made factory visits impossible. When we went to the factory to collect Tusk we were impressed by the workmanship and finishes, and in particular by the attention paid to many details that were never mentioned in the specifications.

For eight years we sailed Tusk in the Mediterranean during our holidays. In 1988, we had an accident that we described earlier. The other boat was to blame. In the arguments for compensation, their surveyor said that the damage was worse than it should have been because the mast post was not directly under the mast and this was a design defect. I said there were architects calculations showing the structure had adequate factor of safety for all sailing conditions, and that if he thought this was a design defect he had better produce his own calculations to prove the original calculations were wrong. Their surveyor never mentioned the mast post after that and we received full compensation for the repairs. The repairs were done in Larnaca. We were quite satisfied with the work done. Later we did notice the odd creak from around the mast step but tried to dismiss it as normal 'working of the wood deck'. This became more persistent on our Atlantic crossing but not enough to be any serious concern. Sailing northwards through the Caribbean to the USA during the summer, Joyce noticed the top lamination of the new deck beam was separating from the rest of the beam. This new beam had been manufactured on the original jigs in the UK, and then installed in Larnaca. When fitted in the side slots it had been short of the cabin roof, so an extra lamination had been added and this was separating. We could not figure out why it would do this but it became obvious when we also noticed slight pooling of water behind the mast. The deck was sagging and the beam was twisting. This convinced us that we should have a strong mast post directly under the mast. This would transfer the mast load to the keel, so that we did not rely on the strength of the deck. We cannot determine if the problem arose due to the repairs, or whether it would have happened anyway. We decided to leave the existing wood post in position, and install a stainless steel post, 2.25" diameter. It has a thick plate welded on the top with bolts through the deck to the mast shoe making a strong sandwich. At the bottom we have a screw jack taken off a prop used to support the biggest yacht hull out of the water. The jack is fitted in a shoe welded to a plate cut to fit the bilge exactly. The clever bit of work was to install it through the middle of our cabin table with minimum of alterations. This was achieved by having a join in the tube inside the table, and a solid billet of s/s machined to exact fit inside the tube to reinforce the join. Only a 2.25" hole was required in the table. The finished job is immensely strong, and surprisingly does not look out of place. The main disadvantage was the cost and the extra weight to our already heavily ladened boat. In the heaviest weather we have had there is no sign of any 'working' of the deck. Drips we had through equipment bolts in the deck were difficult to seal properly due to flexing of the deck, but now these seem to have been cured. Its possible the problem would not have got any worse, but if you are to be happy sailing in open waters, and crossing oceans, you cannot afford to have doubts about your boat.


Stay Extension for the USA

On arrival in the USA mainland the customs granted us 12 months stay for the boat, but immigration gave only 6 months stay for ourselves. We thought 6 months would be quite sufficient. However we arrived back at Ft Lauderdale only about 10 days before the expiry of our 6 months with the knowledge that we needed at least 8 weeks to complete all the jobs we wanted to do on Tusk When we applied to the local immigration office we were blasted with the greeting "Oh yes, and where are you working". It is illegal for a visitor to work in the USA. We explained the cruise we had completed, how our time had been used, and why we needed an extension to effect urgent repairs to make our boat seaworthy for the sail to Panama. We gave assurance we had not worked and had no desire to work. We were told they could only give us a few days extension and that if we wanted anything more we would have to apply to the immigration headquarters in Texas. The necessary forms were not available in Lauderdale but could be obtained by phone or by personal visit to Miami or Palm Beach. A week before, a friend of ours in exact same position had been granted an extension of four weeks in this same office. But we did not mention this and left to try the phone number to get the necessary forms. With a hand full of coins, we dialled the number. We got a recorded diatribe of the USA immigration regulations, during which we were steadily pushing coins into the box. Eventually we got down to business and the relentless recorded voice asked if we were some category of immigrant, and if we were please press number one on the telephone keypad. This did not apply to us so I did nothing, and it went on to a second question, and a third and a fourth. None seemed to apply, and I realised we were back on the first question again when I ran out of coins. Defeated but unbowed I armed myself with a bigger bag of coins. It went through the diatribe on the regulations and through the first set of questions. We decided which was the most applicable .So we then preceded to a new set of questions. I listened to these questions twice before I could decide which might apply to us, but the new bag of money ran out. I heard enough by now to realise that it would be possible to work through these questions to the point that you were a special case and would be connected to a human! officer. I got an even bigger bag of coins, worked my way cunningly through the talking machines questions to where it should connect me to an officer, I was told an officer was not available but if I waited I would be connected soon. I waited and waited and waited until my huge bag of coins was exhausted... and I was cut off. I will not say what I did next but it is probably fortunate that the public telephones in the USA are virtually indestructible. We went to Palm Beach next day and found the immigration office. After a long wait we got the form required. We found that the latest date by which an application could be made was two weeks before our stay expired. But we now had only a few days. The officer said, "Never mind, just make your application and whilst it is under consideration you will still be legal”. It seemed this was going to leave us in a rather invidious position, with the possibility of having to leave at short notice if the application was refused. We filled in the form asking for three months extension, with a letter of explanation and fee of $70, and sent it express recorded delivery. Six weeks later, we got an acknowledgement that said ‘it usually takes 120 days to 4 month(s) from the date of this receipt of notice to process this type of case’! (This is no misprint; it is exactly what the notice said). We finished our jobs on Tusk and left the USA about ten weeks after we made our application for an extension, but by that time, we had no further news. It is somewhat ironic that while all this was going on, President Bush was appearing on British TV to persuade people to visit the USA and spend their money there to bolster the ailing US economy.


Anchor Winch.

The mast post was the most important reason we had for stopping in Ft Lauderdale, but we also had many other smaller problems as well. One of these problems was the S-L Hyspeed anchor winch, which was no longer in working order. After getting the gipsy and covers off it was apparent that the freewheel sprockets had seized through rust. To remove these it was necessary to remove a part called the operating lever. This was fixed to a shaft by a screw and nut. I gingerly turned the nut, but it then just fell into my hand. The screw sheared flush with the operating lever. Now I had a situation where I could not get the mechanism apart without removing the broken screw, but could not get any tools onto the screw without taking the mechanism apart. Ho-hum, such are the joys of yachting. In this case all was not lost. The screw was hollow. It could be possible to get a stud extractor into the center of the screw, if I had one, and if could do it without breaking the brittle stud extractor once I got it into the screw. There was practically no working room inside the winch case. I called in the boatyard mechanic. Nimble fingered, more experienced than Brian and with the right tools, he had the winch apart in an hour. The sprockets were so rusted onto the shaft that they could only be removed by application of heat. I left the job of ordering parts and reassembling the winch to the yard. After all, we would probably only have spent the money enjoying ourselves. The winch was back in operation a week later, and operated perfectly.


The Dinghy.

We chose a hard dinghy rather than an inflatable when we ordered Tusk This was a good decision but there are advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantages of the hard dinghy are that it is not so seaworthy and stable as an inflatable, the safe carrying capacity is less, and since it is normally stored behind our mast, under the boom, it does spoil our forward vision. On the other had the hard dinghy rows better and is more durable. Also, a fiberglass dingy can be repaired easily. After twelve years our dinghy had taken too many knocks and needed major renovation. All the fittings and the rubber fender were removed. The broken bow section and small cracks in the bottom were made good with fiberglass mat. The top moulding had started separating from the bottom moulding; this was resealed with resin filler. The new fiberglass was touched up with filler, sanded smooth, and then painted. The fittings were replaced and it looked like new again. We then made a mistake of using the dinghy as a bath to wash the sails. The weight of the water caused the top moulding to separate from the bottom again. This was not too serious so we left it, but a few months later we ran the dinghy onto an underwater obstruction at night and put two large cracks in the bottom. These wee patched with glass mat, but we need to paint again. A Yotties work is never done.


The Cook is the Captain.

The cooker we chose for Tusk originally was the Taylor 040. We later found this was not manufactured by Taylor’s but was made in the USA for the mobile home market. Taylor just added gimbals and their own label. It was a superb cooker but in time the gas pipes and burners were corroding. We bought the last spare parts available from Taylor’s, they said the USA manufacturer was no longer replying to their letters, not that these parts were much help. When we had a tap fail and become a blowtorch we knew we had to replace the cooker. We chose the Canadian Force 10 brand. I wanted to get the cheaper three burner model but Joyce wanted nothing but the best We luckily found the best model in stock in Sailorman at a deep discount. It was the same size as our old Taylor but the gimbals were different, so we had to install new ones. The USA gas fittings were different to those on our delivery pipe, so we had a new flexible pipe made up to join the cooker to our fixed pipe. We hoped to to be free from cooker trouble for years to come.


Electronics Galore

We had watched the development of electronic aids to navigation, but the price and the knowledge that further technical developments were on their way made us feel that the time was not right to buy. We did get a Satnav and wind direction and speed instruments when we took up full time cruising three years ago, and an HF amateur radio transmitter. Other items remained on our list as wants, until we reached the USA. The USA must be the biggest market in the world for yacht equipment. Not only are there a large number of boaters, most also have sufficient money in their pockets to indulge in the luxuries of their hobby. Discount retailers can be found relying on low prices to create high volume sales. Manufacturers have also got their act together to the extent that you do not need much technical skill to install the equipment. Any average handyman who can read and interpret simple instructions and drawings can do it. If you go to a full service marine electronics company and ask them to supply and install a radar set, it would probably cost at least double what you would pay for the equipment from a discount supplier and installing it yourself. We were told that we should look at the boat shows for the best bargains. So that is what we were doing at Annapolis in the autumn. We found the latest models of marine electronics were more compact, cheaper, and included many technical features new to small boat equipment. We bought a Magellan 5000 GPS, Furuno 1720 radar, Furuno DFAX 208A Weatherfax, Navico DS200 Depth Sounder, Navtex Tiller Pilot DS5500, and a new Balmar alternator. I had to find space for the radar, the weatherfax and the GPS around the chart table. I removed the old depth sounder, and relocated the ships dock and barometer, and the Satnav heading sensor, and was then able to locate the new equipment in logical positions. 12v power supplies were installed for the new equipment. Fortunately I had installed an additional switch/fuse panel several years ago and still had sufficient spare ways. The GPS antenna went on the stern rail, the weatherfax needed a backstay antenna, and the radar scanner was installed on the mast. Fortunately, other work on the mast and rigging required the mast to be taken down which simplified everything. Waterproof deck glands were installed as necessary. All cables were fixed and clipped at regular intervals. The display unit for the depth sounder was installed next to the wind instrument in the cockpit. The old transducer and its cable were removed and replaced with the new. The new transducer fitted the old housing perfectly without modification. The new alternator and regulator required completely new wiring, and I wired in diode battery isolators and one additional battery switch to give greater flexibility in the use of our three 110 amp hour batteries. The tiller pilot is a loose piece of equipment that fits the same bracket as the old one, but we did have to extend the power cord to reach our cockpit socket. When all this work was finished it all worked first time. The GPS did however fail due to an internal fault after being in use for a few weeks. It was returned to the manufacturer and repaired under warranty at no cost.


Lightning Protection

The fierce lightning storms of the east American coast did concentrate the mind on the possible benefits of lightning protection. It is practically impossible to prevent a lightning strike from happening, but if it happens damage can be minimised if the current from the strike can be diverted to a safe path to ground instead of finding its own way through the structure of the boat and equipment. We now have our mast bolted through to our steel mast post, and from the bottom of the mast post we have heavy cables bonding the post to the steel bilge keels. We hope we do not need it, but if we do, we hope it works. A friends boat has been struck twice this side of the Atlantic in the last twelve months.


New Rigging

Standing rigging supplied on Tusk was stainless steel wire, 6mm diameter 6x7 with a steel core. When we had the accident in Rhodes in 1988, our mast was damaged and the rigging was put under enormous strain. Almost every year a boat crossing the Atlantic seems to loose its mast, and we did not want to join the list. New rigging was agreed, and was included in the repair specification. 6x7 steel core was not available in Cyprus. I was offered an alternative. Not being knowledge-able on rigging wire and being preoccupied with many other problems arising due to the repairs I did not look into the matter. Assurance was given that the alternative was at least equivalent to existing. I just let the matter drop. We had some trouble when the mast was installed since the new rigging seemed to be the wrong lengths and it was difficult to set up. Further cutting and swaging was necessary to adjust the lengths and the final job was still not satisfactory. But not bad enough to insist on complete re-rigging. I let the matter pass in our rush to get sailing again. Crossing the Atlantic, we had a strong line squall in which one of our forestays broke. We made a jury rig repair and continued. But the incident caused me to look more closely at our rigging wire. The new wire was 6x19 with fibre core. This wire is intended for running ropes, not for standing rigging. It is about 25% less strong than 6x7 and we are sure the fibre core results in an unsatisfactory swage. It was the swage that pulled out on our forestay. We decided to replace all the rigging with 1x19 stainless steel and use Sta-Lock terminals instead of ferrule swages. A rigger checked the rigging before we removed the mast. He marked each wire plus or minus so many inches so that the new installation would have equal adjustment all round when properly set up. I then dismantled the rigging and handed the marked wires over to him. He cut the 1x19 wire to the correct length and fitted the Sta-Lock terminals. Then I refitted everything back on the mast and got the mast set up loose. The rigger then made the final adjustments and tightening. It was a good job in contrast to previous. What did surprise us was the rigging was not bar tight as it often is on other boats. The rigger said it was not necessary to have the rigging bar tight and that over-tightend rigging is a common cause of problems on small boats. The turnbuckles only need be hand tight, and maybe one more turn. Over tightening of the rigging might have been a factor in our sagging deck problem but we do not think so. The 6x19 wire had been stretchy and never felt tight. But we learn something every day


Leaks and Drips.

We fixed a few small leaks when we were at Lauderdale. Most boats develop an odd leak or a drip here and there that needs attention. We investigate the 'where and how' of the leak or drip in order to apply the correct solution. Sometimes it is quite difficult to see where the leak originates. Windows are sometimes a problem, the rubber seals in our windows are getting old and we do not know where to get new ones. We try to make good the cracking rubber seal with a black Polysulfide sealant such as Boatlife Life Calk. Through deck bolts we seal with flexible Polyurethane Sealants such as Sikaflex 241. Hairline cracks too small for sealant often respond to a dose of Captain Tolleys Creeping Crack Cure. We had a leaking fore hatch which refused to respond to any treatment until we found we could stop water getting into the well between the outer and inner rim by using draft excluder foam. These little problems are annoying and sometimes frustrating, rather than serious, but we do like an absolutely dry boat and it keeps us working at it.


The Water-maker.

Whilst on the subject of water, we did buy a hand operated reverse osmosis water maker. One of the biggest fears of long distance passage making is running out of drinking water or losing all the drinking water due to an accident. Our model 'Survivor 35' can produce five litres/hr using a hand operated pump. We keep it in our abandon ship bag.



We have a Lister 2Ohp 2-cylinder raw water cooled diesel engine, which has a reputation for strength and reliability, but we have had plenty of problems. These problems seem to be attributable to two factors. One is the engine mounting arrangement; the other is the raw water-cooling system. Our engine is mounted using what are known as Tico mounts. These are simply cork pads, washers and tubes fitted on the holding down bolts to absorb the vibration. Cork tubes that should insulate the holding down bolts from the engine frame were never installed. Apparently because the holes in the bearers were drilled slightly out of true and it was not possible to fit the cork tubes over the bolts. With only about ll50 hours on the engine the square cork pads between the engine frame and the bearers were cracking and breaking. When the holding down studs were removed they were found to be severely wasted, that is reduced in diameter at the point where they go through the engine frame, due to engine vibration and friction. While we were in Tunisia the studs and the Tico mounts were all replaced and installed in accordance with supplier’s instructions, except it was still not possible to install the cork tubes. After another 1150, hrs three of the Tico mounts were in fair condition but one was broken again, we were getting unreasonable vibration due to out of alignment caused by the defective Tico pad. This time we were in Ft Lauderdale. We had spare pads so we replaced the defective pad. After this the engine alignment was well out. Aligning an engine on Tico mounts means using metal shims under the holding down bolts. This is a tricky job, so I called in the boatyard mechanic to do this job. It was done quickly but I was rather surprised at how many shims were needed to achieve proper alignment. If it is ever necessary to remove the engine from the boat, we will reduce the height of the engine bearers and replace the Tico mounts with flexible engine mounts. Incidentally, when Tusk was hauled out for painting we took the prop off to check for deflection on the end of the shaft using an instrument the boatyard had. We found the stern gland bearing had very little wear but was loose in the housing. It could be turned by hand and moved from side to side in the housing. The bearing was replaced with a new one that was a tight fit and the deflection checked again and found within limits. We find the vibration of the engine and transmission is now substantially less, and we are a lot happier about it. We have been plagued with an overheating problem for some years. Sometimes we would start the engine and there would be no cooling water. Cutting the engine, then restarting after the engine had cooled usually resulted in everything reverting to normal, but not always. Occasionally a third try or few hours delay were needed. Diagnosis was difficult because it was usually several months between incidents, with no problem at all for long periods. But we did end up sailing into several harbours without the engine, at times when we would like to have used it. In harbour the engine always started normally with a full flow of cooling water, making it particularly exasperating, and difficult to locate the fault. Several times we thought we had solved the problem, but the problem always came back, eventually. On our Atlantic crossing we got a glimmer of an idea that the water pump was not priming, since after we had this problem I disconnected the hose supplying water to the pump and found it empty of water. Lowering the pipe it filled with water and water flowed from the pipe even when it was offered up to and pushed back on the pump. The pump must be just on the water line. The engine then ran with full flow of water. Now this problem has occurred several times since, and it has always been possible to solve by disconnecting the inlet pipe from tile pump, lowering the pipe until water is flowing out, then fix it back on the pump, and everything is Ok. But this takes time and it is awkward to do at sea because to get at the pump it is necessary to remove the engine covers. We assume that the water was draining out of the system when we were sailing on port tack and then the pump, although a self-priming pump, was not priming as it should. We had the same problem when we were motoring without sails in the USA Intracoastal Waterway. On this occasion we had a complete loss of water whilst the engine was running. Maybe we had a plastic bag on the intake but we do not really know. But going through the routine of removing the in-take pipe on the pump and then putting it back solved the problem with everything normal again. We consulted professional mechanics on two occasions; in each case, they say it must be the pump. They take the pump off, check it, fit a new impellor if necessary, make sure the end cover is not worn, charge me $50 or more, and say the problem is solved. But it isn't solved, it happens again. Apart from this total loss of water, we had a further overheating problem returning south to Ft Lauderdale, This was a slow overheating problem, the cooling water was obviously restricted and the heating was proportional to the engine power used. We could jog along at 3 kts but if we tried to go 4 kts or more the temperature would go to 100 or even up to 120 deg C if we pushed it. I was sure this must be due to a restriction in the cooling system, and checked the strainer and all the pipes I could and found nothing. Brian asked the boatyard mechanic to look at it and surprise surprise, he said it must be the pump. He took the pump off took it to the workshop, refitted it a couple of days later, and said try, that, it should be ok now. There was no difference, Brian dismissed the mechanic, and bit by bit dismantled each pipe and section of the cooling system and blew down it to check for obstructions. The only section where it was difficult to blow through was the water cooled exhaust manifold. Brian unscrewed the outlet pipe, cleaned off some grunge on the bottom of the pipe, then screwed it back in. As it screwed in I realised that the bottom pipe was touching the inner jacket of the manifold before the pipe was screwed fully home. Removing the pipe again and taking measurements I found that the end of the pipe inside the manifold must have been pressed against the inner manifold and the water must have to pass through the slit left due to the pipe only touching at one point. This slit had become silted up by the river mud and gradually closed, causing the restriction. But there must have been a partial restriction ever since the engine was new. It was easy to fix, by putting a couple of thick brass washers under the shoulder of the pipe. Our slow overheating problem was solved immediately, and the through flow of water is greater than it has ever has been. I did think at the time this was done, that this restriction might have been the reason that the pump would not prime. But experience since we left Lauderdale has shown that the priming problem is still not solved, we still sometimes have total loss of cooling water when we start the engine after sailing hard on port tack, even if we wait until we are back on the level before we start the engine. We will replace the old water pump for a new one shortly but I am still convinced that the pump is not the problem since when it is working it has good pressure and a fast flow rate. A friend has the theory that our exhaust mixer pipe may be the problem. When the original pipe corroded and blew a hole we could not get a proper replacement in Malta, so we had one made from stainless steel pipe. It was not possible to replicate the exact shape of the original curved pipe so it was made from straight pipe. The theory goes that because the angle of entry of the water pipe into the new exhaust mixer pipe less acute, it is possible for the exhaust to cause backpressure in the water system and reduce the ability of the pump to prime. We suppose this is possible but we first had an occurrence of the problem before we replaced our original exhaust mixer pipe. Eventually we got a brand new water pump from Lister, and after it was fitted the problem never occurred again


Visit Home

Since we set off on our full time voyaging, we have been fortunate to have the opportunity and money to afford a trip home to visit the family every year. These trips have never been a relaxed holiday away from the boat; they have usually been a desperate rush around to get boat bits, equipment repairs, clothes and things we cannot buy overseas. We keep promising ourselves, next time...to take a longer holiday so that we can...relax. But it never seems to be possible. This time we did not have any problem with equipment, since everything we needed was available in Ft Lauderdale, but we did have a constraint in that we must not leave it late to set off for Venezuela, because we should complete this journey by June to avoid the hurricane season in the Caribbean. So we decided three weeks was all we could spare at home. Also, Brian was to use the time in the UK to take the Ham radio Morse test. The Morse test was arranged with the help of Brian’s father, for ten days after our arrival in the UK. Brian went to his parents to practice Morse; Joyce went to Belfast to stay with her mother until the test was over. The test was passed, Brian then flew to Belfast to join Joyce, carrying his computer with him. After the computer had been security checked, and had a fragile label put on it and checked in as unaccompanied luggage with British Midland, they broke the computer open with a screwdriver forced under the cover. Apparently they could not find the two spring release buttons on the case that everyone else uses to open the machine, quite a bit of damage was done. They just packed it back in the bag without a word or a note, and we did not find the damage until we tried to use it (to type a letter) in Belfast. It took three days of our valuable holiday time to establish a claim for compensation. We did eventually recover the cost of the repairs that were about $550. The last few days we spent at Brian’s parents and then flew rather breathlessly back to Ft Lauderdale, Next time.... next time… we keep saying.


Culture Vultures

Right next to the boatyard in Fort Lauderdale was the Broward Performing Arts Center. Every night we could sit on our deck and watch the cream of Ft Lauderdale and probably the whole of Florida, driving up to the front entrance dressed in fine dinner jackets and evening gowns. Luckily our antifoul spotted faces and clothes were in the dark whereas they were bathed in bright floodlights. There were some extremely good shows and international artists performing at the center during our stay at the boatyard, but we could not get tickets. We think there was a supporters club that got first pick at the tickets, and by the time we knew about the show, all the tickets were sold out. But one day Joyce came back to the boat clutching tickets for a concert at the center. It was the Munich Chamber Orchestra playing a number of less well-known pieces of famous classical composers. The chief soloist was a flautist who studied under James Galway. Brian scrubbed most of the blue antifoul off his face and hair, changed out of his holey canvas shoes, paint spotted jeans, torn stained and ragged shirt into a smart new navy blazer, clean shirt and tie and grey flannel trousers and shiny black leather shoes. Joyce was trying on and casting off all sorts of clothes to try to achieve the 'Vogue' look Eventually we got everything right and strolled off to the concert hall feeling jolly civilized for the first time in months. The concert was a great success, and we were impressed by the humour of the conductor when dealing with some of the audience clapping at the wrong time. Afterwards we walked away from the busy foyer with the impatient Chevy’s and Porches picking up their immaculate cargoes, and we faded into the darkness of the boatyard. Rumour has it that the municipality thinks the boatyard in the middle of the city is an eyesore and should be closed, and turned into a tourist restaurant. It is such a pity that so many cities have their character destroyed in order to achieve such nice uniformity.


Christmas in Lauderdale.

The Christmas season is celebrated in the USA much the same as in the UK. Shopping centres make the best of the commercial opportunities by creating the usual Christmas atmosphere with decorations, and Father Christmas's abound. Joyce enjoyed the pre Christmas visits to the Lauderdale shopping malls. We knew a few weeks before, that Christmas was going to be quiet for us. Our cruising friends sailed for the Bahamas or had hauled out and gone home. We had a great deal of work to do on Tusk and we were grateful that we were not involved in the continuous round of partying that accompanies the season. We were working from sun-up to past sundown. We usually bought a lunchtime sandwich from the Italian food wagon that serviced the boatyard, and settled for a McDonalds hamburger and chips at night in order to save the time of shopping and cooking. Pre Christmas entertainment included an illuminated boat procession on the river, with scores of boats decorated with coloured lights, some depicting Christmas scenes. On Christmas Eve, the boatyard stopped work at midday, and we joined in the office party and barbecue by the riverside. After eating and drinking all afternoon we were ready for an early night when the final stragglers had left the yard.

On Christmas day we were not entirely alone in the yard. There was a security guard, and a Canadian couple packing up to get a flight home. We offered both to share our dinner, but the Canadians were too rushed to spare the time and the guard was having his dinner at home after his shift. We had celebrated the American Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner so for Christmas day we had a large spiced beef roast that we barbecued, with roast potatoes and other fresh vegetables cooked in our oven. A tinned Christmas pudding and rum sauce filled any cracks remaining. It was the first Christmas dinner that we ever had on our own. In the evening we took a taxi to a cinema and enjoyed watching a film. Next day it was down to work again as usual.


Bottoms Out.

Shortly after Christmas, we had finished most of the non-routine jobs, and were ready to haul out to clean and paint the bottom. We found that it was possible to buy cheap airfares to England, $375 return, so we arranged we would go home while Tusk was ashore. This would give the hull a chance to dry out before it was painted again. The bottom of Tusk had never been stripped down to the bare hull before, but the condition of the bottom paint was now so poor that it was time for a complete strip. The old paint was scraped off using a thin stainless steel scraper, being careful not to scratch the gel coat. It was a hard job, and took a long time. It was left to dry when we flew back to the UK for three weeks. Originally, we had polyurethane paint on underwater parts of the hull as a water barrier to prevent osmosis, but it is now known that this is not impervious enough so epoxy paint is the latest recommendation. We put on four coats of epoxy paint on all the underwater area. Then two coats of hard antifoul with a third coat along the waterline where it wears off more quickly. While working on the rudder we noticed a hairline crack along the back of the rudder, which seemed to go right through to the forward part of the stock The rudder was demounted for closer inspection and water poured out of the crack. It seems probable that the glass fiber rudder was formed around a wood former, this might have got wet and swelled, trying to push the rudder apart. We dried the rudder and reinforced and sealed the leading and trailing edges, sanded down and made good and painted. We should have no further problem with this but it is something we will have to watch. The seacocks were all taken apart, cleaned and greased. The prop shaft seal was repacked, and a hand greaser pump and pipe was installed in the engine compartment to grease the prop shaft instead of using the rather inconvenient grease cup. We were then ready to go back in the water.


Aries Self Steering

When we regularly using our Aries wind vane self-steering, it works very well but it has seized twice in the last ten years. This has happened when it has been out of commission and salt crystals harden on the shafts. Once it has seized it can be quite difficult to take apart. It is usually necessary to resort to workshop facilities to put it right. Being aware of this, and knowing that it would not be used for many months the gear had been well oiled when we arrived in the USA. But when it was checked shortly before we were due to go back in the water at Lauderdale, it was found to de seized again. I removed it from the boat, undid all the locking screws on the seized shaft and tried to knock the shaft out with hammer and drift. It would not budge. The gear was solid on the shaft. I asked the boatyard to remove the shaft while I was getting on with other jobs. The mechanic tried knocking out the shaft the same way as I had, but with no luck. Next he tried heat, a lot of heat. He did separate it eventually but had not noticed there were plastic shims to keep the gears spaced properly. These were melted in the process. He reassembled the unit as it was, but now without the shims and left it by the boat saying it was all Ok. When I checked it, I started to realise that all was not well. It was still stiff, too stiff to work; yet, the gears were sloppy. It was necessary to completely strip down the unit again. This time all parts were polished. New shims were manufactured, and the whole unit reassembled making sure all the correct clearances were maintained. After this the mechanism worked as smooth as silk and a feather touch on the vane would move the gear. It has worked very well ever since, but whether it is in use or not it is now oiled every day or two.


Computer Repairs.

After British Midland Airways tried to destroy our computer we tried to get it repaired in Belfast. IBM UK in Belfast did not have a service manual, and could not order replacement parts from the stores without part numbers. Fortunately there was a good repair agent in Lauderdale, but it was a long way away from the boatyard. Joyce became the courier, taking the computer by two buses, miles across the town and collecting it again when it was repaired The place where it was necessary to change buses was a super shopping mall, which Joyce loved. So there were some consequential costs involved in getting the computer repaired which we could not claim from British Midland.


Stocking up our stores.

Knowing that food is expensive in the Caribbean Islands, and the choice is often limited, we did a lot of restocking of long life convenience foods. Special offers in the grocery stores sometimes gave us 4 tins of vegetables for 1$, and tins of meat stew for $1.50. The variety of food available was impressive, and we had at least six expeditions to various supermarkets to fill our empty food bins. We also stocked up on Californian wine. Wine is quite expensive until you get to the French islands.



We were fortunate to have the Blue Water Book Shop at Fort Lauderdale. American Navy Charts are not copies write and it is possible to get photocopies of the up to date charts at less than a quarter of the price of the British Admiralty charts. We spent several hundred dollars filling in missing charts in our portfolio as well as purchasing pilot books for the Pacific.


The Boatyard.

The yard we used was Chinnock Marine. We found them friendly, helpful, generally competent, efficient and businesslike. We were there at the low part of the season, and during a local recession, so some items in their complicated pricing system were waived, but usually this would be considered an expensive yard. It is central to all facilities and the weather at that time of year was ideal for working. We believe that the work was completed in record time; and that justified our choice.


A Soft Touch.

I was in the boatyard. Someone was calling “excuse me sir, excuse me” I took no notice until I heard the same call again and I looked around. I walked over to the fence. It was a black man, smartly dressed. He had run out of petrol and had come out without his wallet. He wanted to borrow $10 to buy petrol to get home. He would return with the $10 that evening. He seemed educated, and genuine, I gave him the $10 and thought I had a fifty fifty chance of getting it back.  He never came back. A week or so later I was walking to a shop and a smart young blackman with a crew cut stopped me. In an urgent voice he asked "Do you speak English please" "Thank god" he went on. "1Ive been trying to talk to someone and they all only speak Italian or Spanish, you would think this was a foreign country", He said he was a war veteran, on the way to visit his sick mum in the south, he had run out of petrol and had no money, could I give him $10. Alarm bells were ringing in my head; there were too many coincidences here. If he were genuine, would it be heartless to refuse. I gave him five dollars, which would buy enough petrol to get to the far south. "God bless you,” he said as he dashed across to a smart sports car and disappeared down the road in a deafening roar! After this we were returning from a Fried Chicken takeaway. There was a car with a black family standing around; the man came walking straight towards us. "Sir, I got my family with me and I got a problem, can you please help me". He came to town for the day with his family and lost his money. He had been to the police but they would not help him. He had no money for petrol to get home, and he asked a dozen people but no one would help, all he needed was $10. I said "now look, I was approached by someone with a similar problem a week ago, and I gave them $10, I was a bit suspicious when I got a similar story a few days ago but I gave $5, now your the third, and I think you are conning me". "OK, OK, don’t worry about it" he said as he turned heal. All Brian was worried about was the $15 he had already parted with.


Keep Things In Perspective.

We often gloss over our problems in our stories but we hope we have now been able to convey some idea of the hard work that is necessary to enjoy the better times. We do not think the problems we experience are exceptional for a boat that is more or less constantly travelling. Other boats will not have the same problems as us; they will have different problems. Maybe water tanks will leak, maybe a propeller will fall off, maybe an engine will flood with seawater, maybe a rigging failure and the mast, boom and sail is lost overboard, a roller furling gear disintegrates. These are all things which happened to people we have met in the last year of so. So cruising people must be resilient and resourceful. But the reward is 'another day in paradise' as they say in these parts.


Chapter 11


Tusk at anchor


Tusk Sails The Thorny Path.

The passage from Florida to the mainland of South America, through the Caribbean Islands is known as 'The Thorny Path'. Mostly, it is a bash to windward against the easterly trade winds, in ocean swells that roll in all the way from the coast of Africa We found it hard going sometimes, but probably avoided the worst by taking account of advice of people who have done it before. It was necessary to reach the 10 degree north latitude before the start of the next hurricane season, so our late start from Florida did add a bit more pressure, and reduced our options for 'waiting for the weather'. But all in all, we had a good trip.


Passages South.

'Passages South' is the name of a book that we found very useful in planning our passage from Florida to Trinidad. It is written by Bruce Van Sant, a veteran of many passages on the route from the USA to the South. The book is sometimes praised, and sometimes ridiculed, depending on the individual experience of yachts trying to follow the advice given. We think the book is essential reading for anyone planning the trip, provided it is interpreted with the knowledge that no day is ever exactly like another, and no two passages will ever be identical. The book is 275 Pages long and maintains that if you follow the advice given, the thorny path will become for you the thornless path. This is provided you are free to move as fast or as slow as you please. A lot of the advice is just good seamanship, but almost everybody seems capable of forgetting the obvious on occasions, and will often fail to relate experience or accumulated knowledge to their present situation. The most important advice for the early portion of our journey was to wait for the passage of a cold front to turn the winds from the prevailing easterly trades, through the clock, South, West, North and finally back to East as the front passed by. These fronts are more common in the winter, and become less common in the spring and summer. The fact that we started out from Florida in March meant we had missed most of these regular cold fronts already. We crossed the Gulf Stream motor sailing in a light South Easterly. Then for the next five days, we motor sailed into mainly strong South East winds, anchoring in some suitable spot each night. Our first good days sailing was 20Nm along the western end of the Exuma Cays, where we experienced our first cold front of the trip. The advice in Passages South was that you should sail along the Exuma Cays on the South side, which comprises of shallow water protected by sandbanks. This would have taken longer than using the deep-water channel to the north due to the necessity to sail a long way out to get to the channels along the banks. So we ignored the advice and set off the next day in the deep-water channel. To compound the problem we chose to make for an anchorage at a place where the passage into the anchorage was not so widely used, because it was difficult to identify. We had a fine sail for most of the day. But as the day wore on, the wind became stronger, the waves bigger and heavy rain reduced visibility just as we were approaching the cut through the islands which would allow us into a safe anchorage. The admiralty charts of the Exuma's are very poor, and we suspect quite inaccurate. We had lost track of the gaps between each island but were confident that the GPS satellite navigator would give clear confirmation of the position of the cut we were looking for. When we were at the point where the GPS said we would be opposite the cut we wanted, we were in fact half way along an island. The strong onshore wind was now pushing big swells through the gaps between islands and to choose the wrong cut could be fatal under the prevailing conditions. We had to resort to basic eyeball navigation, comparing the terrestrial features with the chart and the simple sketches in the pilot book. We looked at the cuts at both ends of the island and we could not decide which was the correct route through. Poor charts combined with poor visibility is the only excuse we can offer, this was the first time we aborted an entry into an anchorage due to navigation problems. It was now too late to sail to another cut, it was nearly dark, and so we resigned ourselves to a rough night at sea. We continued SE sailing slowly in moderating conditions and anchored for breakfast in the well-protected harbour of Georgetown. We sailed from Georgetown to Calabash Bay on a weak cold front, which gave us a nice sail, but also an uncomfortable rolly night of disturbed sleep at anchor in Calabash. The weather forecast was not very promising for the next day. By this we mean it was normal trade wind conditions. We decided to bash on regardless rather than spend more time in Calabash, so we headed out straight into the trade wind swells and motored, bashing our way into headwinds and big swells to Rum Cay. It was a fine bright day but the violent motion was very wearing, and we swore we would not do it again if we could help it. Rum Cay was to be a stopover with a restaurant meal and some swimming and snorkelling. But the weather forecast gave news of a strong cold front on its way, expected next morning. We could hear boats in the anchorage discussing this development on VHF radio and it was clear they were all going to be on their way by morning. Joyce is aghast when I told her we should also move with them because fronts are becoming rare, and we may not have another chance for a long time. But she relents, probably with the thought of yesterdays 'bash' in mind, and we are one of the last boats to leave next morning. We had a comfortable sail overnight to Mayaguana and saw the other boats anchored off the west shore of the Island. We spoke to them on the radio. They said they would spend the night in the anchorage. I thought however that the cold front proper has not yet passed and we should press on to the Turks & Caicos. Joyce protests and again relents. We continue along the shore of the island, catch a large fish, anchor just before dark off the East end of the island, cook a meal and get about two hours sleep. We are on our way again at midnight. We have changeable winds but a fairly comfortable sail to Provodenciales. At anchor off Provo next day we witness a violent storm, and see the other boats arriving from Mayaguana like exhausted drowned rats. Brian’s decision to press on was exonerated, and was forgiven. We left Provo after about five days, and motored across the Caicos banks in no wind. Other boats travelling with us anchored on the eastern edge of the banks, but most seem to weigh anchor and follow us when we passed them and entered the main deepwater channel towards the Dominican Republic. We did not see these boats again, we think they put in to Luperon, but we pressed on further to Samana. We had reasonable winds until near the Dominican coast, then we experienced rather difficult headwinds, the Easterly trades. We sailed as best we could close inshore, and in the evening the wind died and we were able to crawl around the Samana peninsula in the dark, using radar to maintain a safe distance off the rocks. It was as black as pitch with no moon. We entered Samana at first light the next morning. This was another demonstration of advice from Passages South. Around the Dominica Republic and Puerto Rico the trades blow very strongly during the day but reduce to a light breeze or nothing at all at night. So night sailing is the way to make comfortable progress along the coast. We got our last cold front when we sailed from Samana to Boqueron. This can often be a wet rough beat to windward and is one of the most difficult passages on this route. We were lucky, we were thrown about a lot by the boisterous conditions, but had a free wind all the way and did it on one tack. We ignored Passages South and daysailed along the Puerto Rico South coast. There are so many lovely little anchorages you can just sail a few hours a day and put into a new anchorage, we preferred this to night sailing. The worst was now over. The Virgin Islands are just short dayhops. They are popular sailing areas because of the undemanding sailing and the beautiful scenery. Our last real slog was between St Martin and Antigua, which was done in four or five long tacks to windward, against a mainly SE 10 to 14 knot wind. Antigua is the corner you turn in the Caribbean to put the wind on the beam. It does not quite work out like that in fact and we found ourselves close hauled on more or less every leg down to Trinidad. The wind often blows from the SE rather than from the E and you have to point up towards the East to counteract the prevailing wind driven currents. The currents are especially significant to smaller slower boats like ours. Travelling between the Islands going south, it was particularly noticeable that the current through the gap between islands was strong at the north end of the gap, and weak at the south end of the gap. After a few islands we realised it was best not to try to counteract the current at the north end but just cross it as quickly as possible, drifting west of the rhumb line if necessary. Then make up to the east back onto the rhumb line where the current was weakest at the southern end of the gap, or under the lee of the island. We found approaching the Northern end of an Island we would often get violent squalls caused by the wind hitting the windward side of the hills and compressing around the end of the island. The temptation was to run off' to escape the squalls but we found they were generally very localized and if you just kept driving through them they soon dissipated. But for all this, the weather was generally fair and the sailing good.


Iguana Land

Allans Cay Harbour is a group of small un-inhabited islands at the northwest end of the Exumas'. It is a popular anchoring spot for local conch fishermen, and for yachts going to and from Nassau. It is also the home of the Iguana. This is a prehistoric looking reptile about the size of a smallish dog, having a fierce looking countenance and a leathery skin. They are a protected species in the Bahamas, and on Allans Cay. They are particularly tame. You can go ashore in your dinghy, and sit quietly on the beach for a few minutes, and one by one they crawl slowly out of the shrub to stare at you. They will gradually creep nearer and nearer until they are only a few feet away. But if you make a move towards them, they will quickly scamper away. It was a bright cloudless day, and we took some lovely photos, with Joyce on the beach surrounded by these curious creatures. We got head and shoulder close ups of the reptiles with our telephoto lens. I considered these pictures amongst the best we had taken for some time. We took our films in for processing in Phillipsburg nearly two months later, only to have the photographic processor tell us he spoilt the film by putting it through the wrong process machine. It was positive film and they put it through the negative film process. We were just offered a new film in compensation, for photos we probably can never take again.


St Patrick’s Day 1992

We spent St Patrick’s Day in Georgetown on Great Exuma Cay. The Two Turtles Inn was offering St Patrick’s Day decorations, a barbecue, and live music for the evening. We made our way to the Two Turtles in expectation of a lively evening with some fun and some dancing. The event was in an outdoor courtyard, with a few trees, wooden tables and chairs. Drinks were served out of a big icebox. When we got there at 7pm the barbecue was already cooked and we were encouraged to get our food and eat. The musicians set up and started to play. After the meal we got a cold drink from the bar and settled down to enjoy the music. But at 8.30 the band packed up, and by 9pm we were the last there. Disappointed at the abrupt and early end to the entertainment we asked where the St Patrick’s Day decorations were. The proprietor said ' cant you see the green decorations'. 'No' I said naively, 'the leaves on the trees' he said, waving his arms about.





Joyce Grapples With The Evening Meal.


Mai Mai

Approaching the island of Mayaguana we hooked a large fish. The rod bent 90 degrees as the fish hit .I could not haul it in whilst we were moving, so we had to stop and drift. For a time it was like the hook was caught on the bottom. Gradually the fish tired and I was able to wind in the line a few feet at a time. We got it alongside and we could see it was a Mai Mai, an ocean fish that is extremely good eating. It still had fight in it as Joyce deftly got the gaff in its mouth and heaved it aboard in one swing. It laid the length of the cockpit floor, over four foot long and thrashed around, sending blood everywhere. It quietened down, but it was just drawing on more energy for another thrash. Joyce had heard that fish would die quickly if alcohol was applied to the gills. So we tried that, but the fish thrashed around with double the energy so we let it lay quietly. We continued along the coast of Maguana until we reached the East end just before dark. Our pilot book, Passages South, said we should anchor, have a G&T and read a book, have dinner and a snooze, and leave for Turks and Caicos at midnight. But before we could enjoy our G&T we had to butcher this 25lb fish in our cockpit. It sounded something like this. Gi'me a sharp kitchen knife, that’s no good lets try the bread knife, no that’s no good have we got a meat chopper, get the toolbox out we need a hacksaw. Eventually we did have a fridge full of steaks and fillets. It was 8pm and we still had to cook our meal and clear up the mess. We got our heads down at about 10pm with the alarm set for midnight for our passage to Turks and Caicos, and not even a G&T.


Strange Customs at Boqueron


Boqueron is a large bay on the Western end of Puerto Rico. It provides yachts with a protected anchorage, good holding, and a small village with basic provisions and small cheap cafe's. It is not an official port of entry, but our book, 'Passages South', said you could check in to customs and immigration from Boqueron by telephoning the nearby main port of Mayaguez. We arrived early morning, having had no sleep the night before due to our boisterous and busy crossing of the Mona Passage. We were too tired to go ashore immediately so we put up our Q flag and went to sleep. We woke about midday, had a brunch, and then went ashore to phone the customs and immigration. The first number in the book was the customs number, and we got through with no problems. As soon as I announced we were a British yacht just arrived in Boqueron and we wanted to check in, I was told that I had entered the country illegally in Boqueron and that I should have gone to Mayaguez to clear in first. I explained about the instructions in the pilot book, and pointed out that British friends had cleared in at Boqueron by phone only weeks before without any problem. I was told that the 'clearing in' privileges at Boqueron only applied to USA vessels and that I was breaking the law. I told the customs officer that I had no intention to break any laws and was simply acting in accordance with the written guide I had. I asked what I could do to rectify the situation. He said we had to get a taxi to the customs office before it closed, and he would contact the immigration department to see if they could see me before their office was closed also. We jumped into the first publico taxi we saw and got to the inland town of Cabo Rojo, and there we got another publico taxi to Mayaguez. We had to pay the fare for four passengers to get exclusive use, so as to go straight to the customs office, it was getting late. At the customs office we were given a brief dressing down and given some extremely lengthy forms to fill in. This was more or less finished by 4pm and the customs officer phoned the immigration office. I was called over to the phone and the customs officer asked 'Where we had come in?' and 'Where were we now?' and then launched off into accusations that we had entered the country illegally and had been gallivanting about the country without immigration clearance, and this was an offence punishable with a $50,000 fine. I went through all the explanations already given to the customs official and was told this was irrelevant and I had broken the law and could be fined $50,000. In exasperation I asked 'Well, are you going to fine me $50,000 or not'. I did have an escape route in mind if she said yes. I was told that I should report to the Immigration office next morning at 11 am. We were at the port immigration office a bit early the next morning but the immigration officer did not turn up until about 12:30pm. We had the same lecture on Boqueron not being a port of entry and the fine etc. It appeared that immigration were also upset that we did not phone them first, rather than the customs. We showed them the pilot book and the officer photocopied all the pages relating to Puerto Rico. We pointed out how unsuitable Mayaguez was as a port of entry for yachts, due to the lack of facilities for yachts. The only quays are built for 1000-ton freighters and have no ladders for landing from small craft or dinghies. The anchorage is completely open and exposed. This was ignored and I was just told that it would require an Act Of Congress to make Boqueron a port of entry. We did part on good terms with the assurance that Puerto Rico did not want to make it difficult for foreign yachts, and he wished us a pleasant stay. We however felt that we had been unnecessarily 'roughed up' and it reinforced our already low opinion of the USA immigration service.



At this lovely anchorage in Puerto Rico we had some heavy rain that filled the dinghy with water. When our dinghy is full of water it is quite unstable, and when Brian climbed in to bail it out he lost his balance and rolled the dinghy upside down, dunking himself and the outboard motor in the sea.



Leaving Culebra to go to Charlotte Ameli, we had fine weather and not much wind. There are some buoys at the entrance to Ensenada Honda to guide you clear of a reef to the East of the entrance. We turned left when we reached the last buoy we could see, and set our course. We had turned left too soon and bumped our bilge keel on the reef before we realized we had made a mistake We backtracked, found the last buoy which we missed the first time, and set our correct course anew, a lucky escape.

The Virgin Islands.

When we went North through the islands the previous year, we lost a lot of cruising time due to Brian’s desire to pass the Morse test for an amateur radio licence. We had spent a full month anchored in Roadtown harbour, below decks, a tape recorder on one side and a Morse key on the other, just practicing Morse. We now had all that behind us, and we were determined to keep moving and visit most of those anchorages we missed the first time through. We started at Charlotte Amalie in the American Virgins. We toured the busy shops, joined the happy hour on the Bridge Deck Restaurant We always seem to bump into old friends at the Bridge Deck, this time is was Temptress, who we had helped pull off the mud when they were aground at Salinas in Puerto Rico. We got groceries at the superb supermarkets full of American produce. We then sailed through Pillsbury Sound to Watermelon Bay. At Watermelon Bay we barbecued a 'London Broil' coated in chopped garlic in oil, and had a most delicious meal. We have only ever seen the London broil cut of meat in American Supermarkets, never in England, and least of all in London, so we do not know where they get that name. It is a very tender cut of meat, between 1 and 2 inch thick weighing usually about 2lbs or so. It is about the best cut of meat we have ever tried, and barbecues superbly. When it is cooked, you slice it off the end of the joint in wafer thin slices, makes your mouth water to think about it. Next day we went ashore and had a walk around the ruins of a sugar mill, watched the seagulls perching on the heads of the pelicans, and discovered we had acquired a Remora. This seems to be a member of the shark family and has a sucker on its head and it usually attaches itself to big brother shark to get a ride. Sometimes it transfers its affections to a boat, ours was about 2ft long and we found we could hand feed it with bread. It followed us around several anchorages, presumably attaching itself to the bottom of the keel each time we moved, and always came up for food if it saw us around. Next we had a few days in Roadtown, we had to go there to clear in with Customs and Immigration. After we checked in we spotted a Golden Hind 31 same as ours, we think it was Malana, anchored in the inner harbour and we resolved to row out to it the next day to meet up. But to our dismay he was gone by the time we got there in the morning. We also enjoyed visiting Pussers Pub again for a steak and ale pie, although they seemed to have discontinued the nickel beer night and the painkiller night we had enjoyed on our last visit After three days in Roadtown we sailed around to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke. We spent two nights there and just...relaaaxed, and swam. We next moved on to Trellis Bay, and also spent two nights there, doing some walking ashore during the day. We were getting short of fuel so we next moved over to Virgin Gorda Marina at Spanish Town. After we refuelled, they let us leave Tusk on the quay opposite the fuel dock while we got some shopping. We were glad of this because otherwise we would have to anchor off Spanish Town, and take a long wet dinghy ride in to the dock to get our provisions. We motored around to Virgin Gorda Sound, and anchored with difficulty in Biras Creek, one of Joyce’s favourite anchorages. The problem we had was that mooring buoys had been placed in the creek (many bareboat charterers prefer moorings because it is easier and less trouble) for which a charge is made. In the evening we tuned in the radio to a medical emergency at sea. M/V Spirit had two crew lifted off by a Brazilian Navy helicopter. Ambulances were standing by to take the patients to hospital, and later there was some confusion because the ambulance had not arrived at the hospital as expected. We never heard the end of the drama. Next day we had a walk around to a resort called Bitter End. It has a few small provisions shops and a number of nice restaurants. We found one that had a modest priced 'help yourself' lunch buffet and the selection of food was most impressive. We started with salad, then fish, meat, sausage and roti, and sweets as well. We were disappointed when we were full and could eat no more because there were so many lovely dishes left un-tasted. As we have mentioned before, we always find lunches better value than the evening dinners. We spent the afternoon at one of the little beaches at Bitter End reading paperbacks and letting our lunch settle before walking back. It was now time to leave the Virgins, so we motored back to Spanish Town to clear out with Customs and Immigration. We were not happy with the look of the sky before we left so we delayed a day and got up to date weather forecasts off the Navtex before leaving.


St Martin, Another Mini Refit.

We anchored at Phillipsburg, which has the reputation of being rolly and uncomfortable. It lived up to its reputation on the first day, but after that we had calm settled conditions and were happy to stay. St Martin has several chandlery shops, and the prices are quite reasonable. The best of these was Budget Marine opposite Bobby's Marina. Our main bilge pump in the cockpit had a broken handle socket. Expecting to have to buy a complete new pump we were surprised to find the spare part we required, so the pump was repaired at minimum cost. Our 'new' Navico autopilot had broken down since leaving Florida, so we took it in for repair to the Navico agent Our outboard had seized due to its dunking at Salinas, so it was delivered to the Yamaha agent to sort out Our two house batteries were no longer holding their charge, so we got two new Prevailer batteries to replace them. We bought engine oil and filters and did a service on the engine. Also tried to tighten up the fuel connections to the injectors, since I suspected we were getting fuel leaking into the engine sump We were still getting trouble with our engine cooling when we spend time on port tack, and due to this had a slightly damaged exhaust water lock. So we got a spare. We also looked for a non-return valve to put on the engine cooling water inlet but could not find a valve I would be happy with. We put a fiberglass patch on the dinghy where we had a small leak. We attended to routine chores of checking around the supermarkets for items to add to our stores, and found a few cartons of Californian wine on special offer. After 10 days at anchor we were then ready for our windward slog to Antigua.


Antigua Revisited.

We visited a few places for the second time on our journey South, but we especially looked forward to seeing Antigua again. It had been our 'place of entry' to the Caribbean after our ocean crossing. As happens, we were disappointed with our second visit. It may have been due to the dull and overcast weather that prevailed, or it may have been the changes to some of the facilities that we did not like. The free laundry area where the cruisers could hand wash laundry in big basins had been rebuilt with washing machines and dryers, and a charge of about $7 per load. The harbour dues had been increased, and there was a cruising permit to pay for even if you were not cruising around Antigua. The fish and chip night had been discontinued. We heard the Shirley Heights band was now much smaller but in any case we gave it a miss due to the miserable weather. We found after we arrived, that an engine holding down bolt had sheared. We got a new one made at a nearby workshop and spent a day refitting the new one. We still quite liked Antigua, but it had lost that special magic second time around.



As we moved south, the islands became greener, more lush and tropical in nature. And guess what, it also rained a lot more. Our first anchorage on Guadeloupe was Deshaies. A fairly well protected bay with a simple village virtually untouched by tourism. There was an old style communal wash house where the village ladies did their laundry, a little river running into the bay, and a nice little park/picnic area on the south of the bay. On a dull grey day, we weighed anchor and found a mooring at Pigeon Island off Guadeloupe that is part of an area designated as the Cousteau National Park. Snorkelling at the Island was fair to average with quite a few different small fish, but the water was a bit cloudy. Having spent much time in the past in the Red Sea it is difficult to find a diving area good enough to get excited about. Joyce in particular did suffer small stings from baby jellyfish, which were virtually invisible in the water. As we were swimming we could feel something like a small electric shock, but when you turned around there was nothing to see. Eventually we realised what it was, but by then it was too late, we were stung. Our last step at Guadeloupe was Basse-Terre. We anchored outside Riviere Sens Marina and had one of our most uncomfortable nights rolling in the swell. We went ashore and had about a two-mile walk into town. It was a fairly interesting town with a colourful fruit and vegetable market. We were able to buy some wine, probably the best bargain we ever got in the way of wine. It was good French wine on special offer at a supermarket. We bought two half cases which we had to carry the two miles back to our anchorage, but we wish we had bought more. One of the half cases we gave to friends who got our Autohelm 1000 repaired during a trip back to the UK.


Dominica Island Tour

We anchored at Coconut Beach Hotel near Portsmouth. Friends on yachts Forth and Fantasy were there and we had arranged to club together to book an island tour in a minibus. The tour was booked through the hotel; the driver was a local man McLean. He turned out to be a keen and competent guide. Joyce even got told off for not concentrating on what he was saying. We drove to the east coast, through Calibishe, Wesley, Marigot, through the Carib Indian Reserve, into the mountains to the Emerald Waterfalls in the rain forest. It did rain continuously while we were there and drips of water eventually spelt death to my Nikon camera. Joyce and myself had experience of rain forest so we had light waterproofs. The rest of the party ventured into the forest with just swimming costumes, but I am sure we felt the more comfortable. We did get a nice photo of Joyce in her rain gear sitting next to Marjorie of Forth in a swimming costume, with the rain pouring and the forest all around them. Next we had a strong rum punch and a spicy chicken leg for lunch at a roadside cafe and continued to Canefield, Massacre, and Layou. We saw banana, plantains, pineapple, sugar cane, coconut, cacao, limes, coffee, breadfruit, sweetsop, papaya, passion fruit, guava, and mango. Explanations of agriculture processes and husbandry were given. Exotic flowers were seen, Flogainvillea, Flamboyant, Lobster Claw and others. We saw the industrial estates with factories making soap and cosmetics from coconut oil and other local produce. Finally we drove around Roseau town, the island capital. It was rather run down and dirty, but the botanical gardens were nice. We saw the Sisserou and Jaco parrots, which are near to extinction. Efforts are being made to breed them in captivity. Lastly we visited the Old Mill Museum at Canefield. This was an old sugar mill, now converted to a lime mill by Roses Lime, and now a museum. We finished with dinner at Coconut Beach.


Gourmet Corner

Dominica has a delicacy called mountain chicken. It is a large frog that lives in the mountains. It tastes much like chicken but is about twice the price. Tasty, but expensive, and I thought not a big improvement on ordinary chicken.


The Indian River

McLean had recommended a boat boy to take us up the Indian River. Eddie introduced himself the next day and we did a deal. Next morning he called for Forth, Fantasy and Tusk in his brightly coloured rowing boat, which had an outboard. We then motored off to Portsmouth dock, went to Barclays Bank to get some cash, then Eddie took us to the river and through the entrance. Banana barges were tied up in the river entrance. Eddie then cut the engine and started rowing us up the river. We watched mullet, and crabs in the tree roots lining the river. The river got narrow and trees overhung the river. It was very beautiful and we could hear tropical birds in the forest. Where the river became too shallow to go further there was a little landing stage and a primitive but quaint cocktail bar. Cocktails were made with coconut milk, guava, passion fruit, cashew or pineapple, with local rum. We then went for a guided walk. We found a Cashew tree and were surprised to learn that there was a Cashew fruit as well as the nut. The fruit grows on the outside of the nut at the end, not on the inside. Brian bit on a raw Cashew nut to see what it was like, only to get a few drops of bitter unpleasant juice. For several days afterwards Brian had a bad tummy upset. We discovered later that Cashew nuts are poisonous until they are roasted. We now believe the tummy upset was poisoning from the raw Cashew nut. After our walk Eddie rowed us back to the mouth of the river, and then started the engine to take us back to our boats. Friends Energetic arrived in the anchorage that afternoon, so the day finished with a gathering on Fantasy in the evening. Two evenings later we all had a barbecue on the beach organized by Eddie, with fish, chicken and rum punch. Bill on Energetic brought his electronic organ ashore and all had a marvellous time.


Water Not Fit To Drink.

Ourselves, Forth and Fantasy were all short of water, and Coconut Beach offered free water from a hose on their jetty. Lying in the sun, the transparent hose had slimy growth in it, which had to be filtered out before the water could be piped into the tank. We had Milton on board which we used to sterilise the water.



We arrived at St Pierre after dark, with the wind dying on us. It was not difficult to find our way in, since there were plenty of lights on the town shore, as we got close, a prominent floodlit statue could be seen. We took our sails down and gently motored along the shore intending to anchor near the town pier, but we had difficulty in identifying the pier against the glare of the lights on the shore. Even using radar we could not identify the pier, but we did find next morning it was only about a foot above the rather at high tide. We returned to the statue on the hill and anchored between two other yachts and the shore. It was calm and we slept well, only to be woken up just before sunrise by a banging on the hull. This turned out to be a fisherman. Small boats were all around us and we were being asked, in a rough French voice, to move. It was still pitch black, and we were groggy from sleep, or the lack of, it so we agreed we would ignore these nasty French-speaking fishermen and go back to bed. Bang bang, and more scuffling and one of the small oats dropped and anchor right at our bow. These fishermen had obviously dealt with yachties before, and knew how to get their own way. We got into some clothes, and there was just a glimmer of dawn. In a few minutes, we had our anchor up and motored gently along the shore looking for the pier we missed the night before. Fishermen shouted at us as we went but we did not understand what they were saying. As the light was improving, we saw the pier and found a spot just to the north and re-anchored. Then turned in for another hour of sleep. St Pierre is an interesting little town. In 1902, a nearby volcano Mt Pelee erupted and sent a cloud of superheated gas sweeping through the town. All the residents were burnt to cinders except for one criminal deep in the town’s local prison. The whole story is quite interesting and is wound up with folklore of a Carib Indians curse, and a governor who persuaded the townsfolk to stay when the volcano started rumbling. Some remains of the old town buildings can be seen, and there is a museum in remembrance of the event. We next moved on to Fort De France, the main port of the island, a big city with much bustle and a lot of French influence. The almost continual rain we experienced for the whole time we were at Fort De France spoilt our enjoyment of the place.


St Lucia-By Bus.

While at Marigot bay we became friendly with a boat called Junoesque, and since we were all interested in seeing more of the Island we decided to get together and see if we could get to the sulphur springs at Soufriere by public bus. We walked from Marigot bay to the main road, but when we stopped a bus, we were told that the road to Soufriere was closed for roadworks. We found that it might be possible to get a bus the long way round the east side of the island if we went to Castries. So we jumped on the next bus to Castries, which was in the opposite direction to Soufriere. At Castries we had to walk across the busy town center to another bus station, and eventually after much confusion we found a bus going to Soufriere. This turned out to be a long hard journey on roads rough enough to make your eyeballs bounce. It was quite interesting though and we were eventually dropped off at the entrance to the sulphur springs, just outside Soufriere. The sulphur springs were quite active, and impressive. The strong smell of the drifting sulphur fumes, the bubbling and gulping of the mud in churning swirling pools and the black streams were fascinating by themselves The guides stories of unfortunate souls who fell through the thin crust and were swallowed up by the hot mud added yet more spice to the situation. Afterwards we headed back for the town, not being very sure how far it was, but we were soon in the outskirts and our next priority was somewhere to eat We had difficulty finding somewhere but we were directed to a restaurant called The Sulphur Club where we had Roti and chips. Next we negotiated a deal with a taxi driver that he would take us to the Diamond falls and baths, then return us to Marigot. The Diamond falls were pretty but not spectacular, the sulphur baths were dirty looking and uninviting, so we all backed out of our intention to bathe. There were some nice gardens around the baths, so we had a stroll before joining our taxi for the journey home. It seemed that the road workers finished work in the early afternoon, so the road direct along the coast was usable in the late afternoon. It was however very rough in parts with much of the road still unmade. We arrived back at Marigot at about 5.30pm, just a nice time to have a relaxing evening recovering from a strenuous but inexpensive day out.



The topography of the channel between St Vincent and Bequia produces strong winds and rough seas. All the boats we talked to seem to have the same experience of 25-knot winds and a sea and swell which seems to be trying to climb on each others back, and into the boat. Bequia is a place you arrive at high on adrenaline and with a certain amount of relief. We stayed in Friendship Bay; anchored just off Tony Gibbons Beach, better known as Princess Margaret beach after it became a favourite of hers. It was a short dinghy ride from the Port Elizabeth town, which is a colourful collection of old style Caribbean houses and small shops. Along the foreshore, under the palm trees, ladies sell small snacks and barbecue lunches at fair prices. Bequia is known for its traditional whaling, carried out in open sailing boats with hand thrown harpoons. Catches are now rare and evidently, few people have the skills and presumably the nerve to hunt the whales in such a manner. Enthusiasts who race the traditional sailing boats keep interest in them alive. We saw a few sailing around the bay. We went for a walk across the island to Friendship bay. It was not a particularly nice day, cloudy with sunny intervals and showers. We had to take shelter under the trees a few times. When we got to Friendship Bay we walked along the deserted beach, and eventually came upon a hotel refreshment cabin, with beach chairs. We got a drink, selected a nice pair of beach chairs and settled down to read the books we had brought. Something made me look up, maybe it was a change in the ambient sound, and I saw the opposite side of the bay had disappeared and a wall of water was driving very rapidly in our direction. I shouted 'Joyce look, I think we have got about 10 seconds to get back to the cabin otherwise we are going to be drenched'. We started running and were hit on the back with 30 or 40 knots of wind, and then the rain. We reached the shelter with not much more than a damp back, but the wind was driving the rain horizontally and it was difficult to find a dry spot to stand in. We felt sorry for a few people who just had lunch delivered to the table, since in a few seconds buckets of rainwater were pouring onto their plates. It was an hour before the storm passed, and we were able to squelch our way back to town.


Island Of The Rich And Famous.

Mustique is the island we refer to, and it is little bit out of the way as you come south down the chain. It is in fact up to the east, and would usually necessitate a beat to windward to get to it. Owners of houses on the island include Princess Margaret, Lord Litchfield, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Raquel Welch. This is the sort of thing Joyce loves to see, so it was a 'must not miss' destination. We had about a 15-knot easterly wind and we just motored from Bequia to Mustique. We arrived just after midday, tied up to a mooring buoy in Britannia flay, and quickly got ashore in the dinghy so that Joyce could find Princess Margaret’s House. We took the main path to the village, past Basil’s bar, up a steep hill, past several small but attractive houses. We had a rough map and when we eventually found a crossroads at the center of the island we turned left. We were then walking away from the village towards the south. It was a lovely day for walking, clear blue sky with a few puffy trade wind clouds, and enough breeze to keep you cool. The views from the high track we were walking along were glorious, and there was a sense of peace and tranquillity about the place. After half an hour or more we were no longer sure that we were still on the right path so we stopped someone to ask. The young man was quite pleasant and it turned out that he had worked in the princess’s house, but now worked for Lord Litchfield, who had the house next door. He offered to guide us to the house, which was not far away. Evidently this was the off-season and hardly any of the wealthy residents were there. I am sure Joyce thought she might get an offer of a cup of tea if she just turned up and said hello, but it was not to be. The house was much more modest than Joyce had visualised. But it was quite pretty although it seemed some building alterations might have been taking place and it was not seen at its best. The Lord Litchfield place next door was much impressive. After our nose around we walked slowly back to Britannia Bay, bought some meat and salad at the small provision shop, had a drink at Basils bar, and had a barbecue on board in the evening. The restaurant prices were too expensive for us. Next morning we went for a walk to the northern part of the island, where there is a delightful tourist hotel and beach. We got back to Tusk by mid-day and sailed for Canouan.


Canouan and the Boat Launching

We were privileged at Canouan to witness the launching of a newly built local fishing boat. This is a rare event and was the first for several years in Canouan. One man built the boat on the foreshore in 7 months. I would estimate the length as about 45ft, and the displacement as 3Otons or more. All made of solid wood beams and planking. Everybody on the Island seemed to be there to help. A heavy rope was put right around the hull, and another taken out to an anchor buried in the sand out at sea. A three-way pulley block was attached to the bow rope and another pulley block was attached to the anchor rope with rolling hitches. The hull was lying on logs, and thirty or forty men heave on the pulley rope while other men rock the boat to help it slide on the logs. Bottles of vodka and water are passed around amongst the men to lubricate the machine. As the boat moves painfully forward, logs are removed from the stern and placed under the bow. Loud music and food add to the atmosphere. As the boat progresses down the beach the partying on the beach gets less inhibited, probably helped by the vodka. When the pulley blocks get too close they are removed and opened up, retied further down the anchor rope, and the heaving begins again. As they moved nearer the water the slope of the beach became steeper and more regular and suddenly the boat took off and launched itself into the sea. Without ballast, it seemed to float precariously high in the water. It was tied to a buoy about 50 meters from the shore, and the partying on the beach got under way in earnest. Later that day we had a walk around the islands mountain, and saw the ruins of an old 18th/ 19th century settlement. The old church was populated with hundreds of bats. The beaches on the east side of the island had foaming Atlantic waves breaking on a wide reef, a most impressive sight.


Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau.

This was our next stop after Canouan. The bay is a beautiful half moon bay with a clean sandy beach. We swam ashore, crossed the narrow peninsula and walked along the windward beach and back. We looked around the salt Whistle Resort Hotel, and then walked the length of the leeward beach before swimming back to Tusk. Joyce made a Quiche for dinner, with some salad. It was a pleasant and quiet anchorage.


The Tobago Cays

We had a short stop in the Tobago Cays, just two nights. Its one of those places that looks rather fearsome on the chart, but when you get there its really no problem at all. The main feature of these cays is the horseshoe shaped reel that protects the area from the ocean. There are several small un-inhabited islands and a few rocky outcrops. It is not a place to be messed with however, we heard of a local dive boat running aground and getting stuck for several days shortly after we left You can anchor right in front of the reef in fairly calm water, and in front of you somewhere is Africa a couple of thousand miles away. We found this position a bit too breezy for comfort, so we anchored between two little islands of Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau. We went for a walk on Petit Bateau, did some swimming and snorkelling, and generally lazed around. It was a busy place, with boats coming and going all the time, and boat loads of hotel tourists visiting from the nearby islands during the day.


Grenada, The Spice Island.

This is the most southerly of the Windward Islands, and is far enough south to be considered fairly safe from the Atlantic hurricanes that usually track well north of Grenada. Our first and second day was busy, organising a reciprocal amateur radio licence, and our application for a Venezuela visa. With these tasks out of the way we had time to join up with a group of friends and other visiting yachts to tour the island in a minibus. We visited the Annandale falls and had a swim in the river and waterfall. We saw a spice plantation, mostly nutmeg, for which Grenada is most famous. We learned how all the parts of the nutmeg are used. The peach like flesh for flavouring such as ice cream, or to make a brandy like drink, or to make jam. The nutshell is covered with a scarlet aril layer which when dried is known as spice mace. The seed is the nutmeg of commerce, the best specimens being exported whole, the not so good ones are ground into powder or crushed for oil. We were then taken to a nutmeg processing station, and then on to Sauteurs to view the Carib Leap, where the last of the Carib Indians are said to have leapt to their death rather than be subjected to slavery. Lastly we visited the Grand Etang Lake in the National Park before we made our way back to our anchorage, St Georges.


Boat Boys

As we worked our way down the Windward Islands we made the acquaintance of the boat boys. These are usually young men, but not always, who try to make money, providing services to yachts anchoring in their area. They use all manner of small craft to get out to your boat, including sailboard hulls, which they paddle with their hands. These services are usually the sale of fruit or fish, help with anchoring or mooring, or putting lines ashore, or to act as guides, or to get ice or other shopping anyone might require. Occasionally one will just be begging for money. Some of these boys are well behaved and are welcomed by the yachts and provide a useful and friendly service. But others behave like the Mafia, and will harass you until they extort whatever they think you will give. Sometimes, after refusing all services you are left with the feeling they will do something nasty to your boat when they get the opportunity, and this sometimes does happen. We had generally quite good relations with most of these boat boys. Often the boat boys would charge more for their services than you would pay ashore, so you need to remember the normal price of goods you were buying, or at least have a good sense of value. When you show you were serious about buying, and haggle, you could sometimes get a bargain. It seemed a good policy to pick a boat boy who seemed friendly and fair, and only deal with him. Get his name and remember it, and you can then tell the others “Jimmy is looking after us so we don’t need anything thanks”. Just do a little business with Jimmy, and the rest of the boys usually leave you alone. You should always have plenty of small change in local currency, since they will often not have change. Some places have a good reputation regards boat boys and some have a bad reputation. Yachts with radios pass on this information and it soon becomes common knowledge that a certain anchorage is best avoided if you do not want boat boy trouble. We ignored warnings about Wallilabou in St Vincent Approaching Wallilabou, still at least a mile out, we were a bit put out to be approached by a boat boy paddling a sailboard. He offered to tie our line when we got in for EC$1O which was the going rate, but then tried to put it up to EC$20 but backed down when I told him to go away. His name was Makay. Without an invite he tied his sailboard on our stern and climbed on board Tusk expecting to be towed in the mile or so to the anchorage. He said he could supply anything we needed. We went along with this but made no commitment. When we reached the anchorage, he got back onto his sailboard, and took a bowline out to a mooring buoy, then took a stern line onto a second buoy. This was a job we could easily have done ourselves. While he was doing this a second boat boy, Greg, in a rowing boat full of fruit came alongside. There was an acrimonious exchange of words between the two boys and we told Greg to go away until we had finished mooring. He just stood off a few feet and generally got in the way and distracted our attention until we were moored. Greg closed in again and renewed his effort to sell us some fruit. He said $EC10, and piled so many avocado, limes and green oranges onto our side deck that we had to say yes. It was actually good value. This led to resentment from Makay. We then found we did not have change so I offered $EC20 to Makay and said he should give Greg $EC1O when he got ashore. Greg was happy with this but Makay refused, and said I should give him his $EC10. I said I didn't have the change, and then asked Greg to take the $EC20 and get change to give to Makay. Makay blew up and said he would not take any money from Greg, and again said I should give him his money. He may have been hoping we would give him a $EC20 note and forget about the change. I shouted back at Makay that his unreasonable behaviour was the reason why there were no other boats in Wallilabou, and Joyce also joined into what was now a four way shouting match. All the restaurant owners the customs and immigration officers were watching on the shore. When the boys went over to the shore they were apprehended by the police and it looked as if they were getting a proper dressing down. They never came near Tusk again. I went ashore to clear in, the official said they saw what happened and apologised, a locally appointed security man said we would have no further trouble, and a restaurant owner also went out of his way to say he regretted the incident and hoped it would not spoil our opinion of Wallilabou. We in our turn said it was no problem, and we were quite willing to do business with the boys, but we expected them to be friendly, not rude. But clearly we had also broken all our own rules for dealing with the boat boys.



Summary of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To                  Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/knots

7Dec/lMar       (At Ft Lauderdale)                                     In Chinnock Boatyard/Maintenance

1 /2Mar           Cat Cay & Gun Cay      65     20      13      SE-E/6-20      Fine night but slow progress

3Mar               Bahamas Banks,            48     12      12      E/l 2-18          Lumpy sea, uncomfortable

4Mar               Frazer hog Cay,             28       7        7      SE/l0-20        Cloudy and grey

5Mar               Nassau, Bahamas           37       8        8      SE/l 2-18       Lumpy sea, sunny intervals

8Mar               Allens Cay, Bahamas    33       7        7      S-SE/0-2        Mirror calm, fine day

9Mar               Waderick Wells,            25       8        6      SE/5-8           Light winds, did sail a little

11Mar             Staniel Cay, Bahamas    21       6        1      SSE/10-20     Fine day nice sail

13/l4Mar         Georgetown, Bahamas  60     24        9      Var/04-22      Vicious front hits us

20Mar             Calabash Long Island    26       8        1      SW/S 5-12     Fine day, one nasty squall

22Mar             Rum Cay, Bahamas       32     11      10      ESE/ 15-26    Hard windward motor slog

23/24Mar        Mayaguana, Bahamas  150     31      22      S-W/5-1 5      Caught 251b Mia-Mai fish

25Mar             Sapodilla Bay, T & C    46     12        8      E/8-18            Grim and grey

1/4Apr             Samana                        260     72      46      S-SE/0-20      Both calms & rough sailing

6Apr                Boqueron, Puerto Rico 150     34        1      ENE-E/15-24Strong winds, rough seas

17Apr              La Parguera, P.R.          20       5        3      E/10-20          Gusty and rough

18Apr              Caleta Salinas P.R.          4       1        1      E/15-18          Fine breezy conditions

19Apr              Ponce, Puerto Rico        28       6        6      E/10-18          Rough sea and headwinds

20Apr              Salinas, Puerto Rico      20       5        5      NoneE14       Slight sea and headwinds

23Apr              Puerto Patallas, P.R.      20       5        5      None-5E20    Caught several fish

24Apr              Culebra, PR.                  50     10      10      E-ENE/4-15  Trop'l depression NE of PR

25Apr              Charlotte Amalie AVI   22       5        5      None-El0       Fine but we bump a reef

26Apr              Water Melon Bay, AVI 18       4        4      SE/10-13       Fine, but mostly headwinds

27Apr              Roadtown BVI               8       2        2      None-SE12    Calm sea, high cloud

3OApr             Great Harbour, J V D      5       3        3      SE/8-12         Shower with poor visibility

2May               Trelis Bay, BVI             12       3        3      None-E12      Heavy swell, cloudy

3May               Spanish Town, BVI         5       1        1      None              Calm with some swell

4May               Biras Creek, BVI             5       2        2      0-SSE/ 10-15 Cloudy with showers

6May               Spanish Town, BVI         5       1        1      S-SE/ 10-15   Dull cloudy day

7/9May            Philipsburg, St Martin 158     41        5      SE-NE/12-20 Long uncomfortable beat

20/21May        Antigua                          98     28        2      E-SE/None-14Calm sea, light winds

27May             Anse Deshaies,              42     11        1      SE/l0-l5         Fine weather, dose reach

28May             Pidgin Island,                  8       2        2      Var                Cloudy, calm, showers

29May             Basse Terre,                   10       2        2      SSE/2-l0        Calm and cloudy

20May             Bourg Des Saints,            1       3        3      SE/5-l5          Rough seas

1Jun                Coconut Beach, Dom    10       5        1      SSE/10-20     Rough seas, good sail

5Jun                St Pierre Martinique      52     15        7      Var-SE/4-20  Variable winds, squally

8Jun                Fort De France,             20       5        2      Var-S/5-20     Nasty, variable, squally

14Jun              Rodney Bay, St Lucia   35     10        2      SE/10-l8        Rough seas, nice sail

18Jun              Marigot, St Lucia            8       3        1      E/10-15          Average seas, nice sail

20Jun              Humming Bird Beach,  10       3        3      E/5-l0             Many acrobatic dolphins

2lJun               Wallilabou, St Vincent  38     11        6      Var/0-20        Cloudy, showery

22Jun              Admiralty Bay, Bequia 18       4        1      SE/10-24       Blustery and very rough

26Jun              Mustique                        14       5        5      E/5-18            Cloudy, sunny periods

27Jun              Canouan                        14       4        2      E-SE/l0-15     Heavy swell, rough seas

28Jun              Mayreau                           6       2        1      SE/16-17       Nice desert island resort

29Jun              Tobago Cays                    3       2        2      SE/16-17       Fine bright weather

3Ojun              Palm Island, Union          2       1        1      SE/8-12         Fine day, nice sailing

2Jul                 Hillsborough Carriacau    8       2        0      SE/8-12         Short but perfect sail

3Jul                 Sandy Isle & Tyrell Bay 1+1     1        1      SE/15             Nice weather, beautiful area

5Jul                 St Georges, Grenada     38       8        3      E-SE/2-15      Cloudy, calm seas

6Aug               Hog Isle Grenada            8       3        3      E/5-15            Quiet peaceful area

7Aug               Prickly Bay, Grenada      1       1        1      SE15              Calm seas inside reef

9Aug               Hog Island, Grenada       1       1        1      SEl0               Calm seas inside reef

12/13               Port of Spain, Trinidad  90     22      16      El5-None       Wind steadily died


Chapter 12




Joyce meets the Kuna Indians.

See ‘San Blas Islands’


Tusk in South America.

When we arrived in Trinidad we had expected to stay only two weeks. We actually stayed 6 months. We are not sure if Trinidad should really be considered as part of South America. It has such a diverse population of Indians, Asians, Africans and Europeans that it is a world of its own, and quite different to the mainland and the other Caribbean Islands.


Trinidad, home of Pan, and more.

Trinidad has not been a popular stopping place for yachts. It had a reputation for crime and lack of facilities for yachts. But that has changed quite quickly. There are now three clubs that provide facilities for Yachts. Each had its own special character. The Trinidad Yacht Club has finger piers for boats to tie to. There is electricity and water, so it attracts mostly long-term yachts that like an easy life and can afford to pay for it. Air conditioners are common on these boats. There is a restaurant, and the place exudes a 'suburbia afloat' atmosphere with a social routine better organised than any small town. Potluck dinners and music evenings are a regular feature and we attended several of these. Getting into town is easy and cheap using the maxi-taxies that pass the club every few minutes. The Trinidad Yachting Association, much further from town, is much simpler and less commercial. It is a friendly sailing club and the members’ race at weekends on a regular basis. Visitors are often in demand as crews for the club racing yachts and dinghies. Club happy hour, barbecues and dinners are open to visitors, and we had some very pleasant evenings there. Visiting yachts anchor out, and can use the club facilities at no charge. However the anchorage is exposed to the easterly winds and can be rolly. Visitors wanting to leave their boats to go home for a few weeks can rent a club mooring if one is available, and they have a small boat park and travel lift for hauling out. Transport to town is slightly more expensive, and not so frequent. We actually stayed at the third option known as Power Boats, or Trinity Yachts. It is even further from town than the others. Transport to town is by bus or maxi-taxi often entails a long wait. There is limited room for yachts mooring stern to a dock, most anchor off, or haul out to work on their boats ashore. There is a full size travel lift and quite big boats can be hauled out. The anchorage is the most protected and only rarely did we roll uncomfortably in the swell. Ashore there is a bar, which goes by the name of Lifeline. They produce snack meals and cheap specials from breakfast to late evening. A great help if you are working on your boat and do not have time to do the shopping. Cold showers were available but new facilities are under construction to provide better showers and washing machines. Soon after we arrived at Power Boats, Lifeline had a barbecue with an amateur talent competition. Singing, dancing and musical instruments featured, but we will always remember the flamethrowers. Two British lads with no previous experience of what they were doing filled their mouths with kerosene, and then ignited it with a flaming torch as they sprayed it through their lips. With all the panache they could muster they sent the audience scattering before a shower of kerosene and flames until they had an area big enough in which to perform. A few weeks after this, Trinidad hosted a weeklong festival called Carifesta V. This festival is held every few years to bring together the cultural and artistic talents of all the Caribbean countries it is an impressive organisational feat to bring together art exhibitions, historical exhibitions, drama, music, dance, storytelling, poetry, book fairs, fashion shows, pageants and parades. About 200 separate events over a period of seven days. Most of the spectator events took place in the Jean Pierre Complex. This is a sport complex having several stadiums and halls were there would be several events taking place at any one time. Around the outside of the stadiums each country had a stand promoting its particular cultural interests. Food stalls sold ethnic foods of many of the countries represented. We spent three days at the complex, switching our interest between events as our fancy led us. Joyce concentrated on the fashion shows, Brian on the ethnic foods and exhibitions, and both of us watching the folk music shows, the calypso competition, and the steel bands. There was also a mini carnival procession in the streets of Port of Spain as part of the Carifesta. Not long after the Carifesta there was a Military Tattoo. This is a rare event and has not been held for many years. It was held in the Jean Pierre Complex, which was full to capacity. It had the usual military parades and booming guns. The best was a play, acted out at the airport where a drug smuggler was apprehended; it had the crowd in stitches. Another simulation showed the security forces dealing with a group of terrorists with much gunfire.

With some friends off boat Energetic we used the local buses to go touring and saw the pitch lake, one of the few places in the world where natural pitch oozes to the surface. It mined to provide a valuable export. We shared a taxi tour with boats Forth and Energetic, to see Fort George, the Devil’s Wood yard, the East coast, the Caroni swamp, and much of the inland area of Trinidad. On Halloween, Lifeline had a fancy dress party for ghosts and ghouls. Brian won first prize of a bottle of rum using a costume we bought in the USA. It was a skeleton body sock with a plastic facemask. The mask had holographic eyes, that showed different ghoulish reflections when you looked into the eyes at different angles. We attended a ballet, a church choral performance, and saw several cinema films. On Christmas Eve we had a pot-luck barbeque at Power Boats, with Bill of Energetic on keyboard and Mike of Red High on Saxophone. We shared Christmas dinner on yacht Fantasy. Tusk provided the Turkey, Ebbstream a joint of pork, Fantasy the vegetables and Energetic the Xmas pudding. Each boat provided trimmings and a bottle of wine. The ladies made Christmas crackers with personalised proverbs and presents. New years eve was a barbecue, with dancing to taped music on the quay until the early hours.

We did some work on Tusk while we were in Trinidad, but not as much as we should have done. The people of Trinidad were so friendly; we really enjoyed our stay and would like to go back again someday.


Gourmet Corner

If you visit Trinidad you must try the 'Hot Doubles'. You probably will not find these in the Hilton Hotel, but try the workingmen’s takeaway cafes in downtown Port of Spain. It consists of a small round flat piece of bara bread with a channa topping. The bara bread is soft dough, yeast bread, cooked by frying in oil. The channa is a soupy mix of chickpeas, curry, garlic, onion and other spices. If this is not hot enough you can ask for pepper sauce to be added. It is a bit difficult to eat, but they know tourists are messy eaters so they may give you a paper serviette to clean up with. Recommended.


Computer Games

By October we had most of our work on Tusk completed and were thinking of leaving Trinidad. A friend anchored nearby, ordered a computer to replace his ageing Atari. He ordered it by phone, paid by Mastercard, shipped by Federal Express and got delivery from USA four days after his order. It was a good price, and a nice machine, and fast delivery. Our IBM laptop computer is rather old technology and not as easy to use on a boat as the new notebook computers. Joyce came out in favour of staying in Trinidad for Christmas. The decision was made; we would stay and order a new computer the same as our friends. It was ordered by fax from Compudyne of USA. No answer was received, a second fax was sent No reply, we phoned the international orders number. No answer. Tried again and at last someone answers. No, they do not have any details of my order, but they no longer deal with orders and would give me a new phone number, please hang on. I hang on, and on, and on, until I decide to terminate the call due to cost. I try the same number and get a different person so we start again. They eventually give me a new number. At this number they do not deal with export, but they can give me a supplier who does. By this time I had to give up that day. I tried again next morning. The order was accepted, and I got a fax acknowledgment next morning. We waited a week, but nothing came. I phoned and found that the order had not been dispatched because an adaptor ordered with the computer was not in stock, but all would be dispatched this week. Each week I phoned, and dispatch was imminent, but it never came. The week before Christmas I found a small inverter. That would allow us to use the computer without the adaptor. I told Compudyne to ship without an adaptor. It arrived just after Christmas, with two adaptors. It was in use for only a few days when the disk drive went faulty. I took it to a local computer repair shop. They tried to get a new disk drive from the USA but Compudyne would not supply spare parts, they insisted the machine be returned for replacement. A friend going on a trip to the USA took it back for me and a new machine was shipped to Trinidad. There was a delay in the shipment again. We were told that dispatch was held up so that we would benefit from a special offer of a 80mb hard disk in place of the 60mb for no extra cost. When it did arrive it still had a 60mb hard disk and the machine worked for only one hour before failing with the same fault as before. After a lengthy phone call with the engineer I was told they would replace the machine again. I returned it using Federal Express, but it was stopped in USA customs, they wanted $75US duty. They argued it was foreign made goods (Taiwan), and therefore dutiable as an import. There was no point in arranging temporary bond because it was to be replaced. A machine with a different serial number would be re exported, invalidating the temporary bond. The third machine arrived a week or so later, now with the promised 80mb hard disk, and it worked. I did find from my charge card account that as each computer was shipped they charged my account with the cost of a new computer. So, we had paid for three computers. More phone calls and fax were necessary to sort this out but we did get the refunds eventually. I also tried to buy a printer. I sent several fax to USA companies, but received no replies. I phoned one of the companies and was told 'No we do not export'. I phoned a second and found 'Yes they do export, but only accept payment by USA credit card'. I decided the USA was not export oriented and would order it from England. I found an advert for Diamond Computers of Bristol that said they exported, and sold the printer I wanted. An order for a printer and accessories was sent by fax. No reply was received so a second fax was sent. Still no reply so I phoned. Yes, Diamond was still at Bristol but export was dealt with in Southampton. Brian phoned Southampton and was told ‘export was not done from that number’, they gave him another number. At last I got someone who could deal with the order. I got a prompt acknowledgment that all was in stock and would be dispatched immediately. I asked that the airway bill (AWB) number be sent to me as soon as the goods were dispatched. After a week nothing was heard and I faxed requesting the AWB. They replied, giving the price of the goods and the freight costs and asking if this was acceptable. I replied that the price of the goods seemed ok but the freight charges seemed about twice the expected cost, I asked them to check again on the freight cost but in any case to ship the goods without delay. I told them to use DHL or Federal Express, since these were the only reliable couriers handling goods for yachts in' transit it Trinidad. They replied that they had their own agent that had been perfectly reliable. I checked the cost of sending the printer by DHL and this was half of the cost quoted by Diamond. I waited a week, still no AWB. I phoned Diamond again. They said the consignment was delayed because one of the accessories was out of stock. I told them to ship the rest of the order without that item. Another week and still no news so Brian phoned again. This time was told that it was delayed because another of the accessories was out of stock. I told them to just send the printer on its own. They confirmed that the printer was in stock and would be sent. After a couple of days I phoned and was told that since it was only days to Christmas, no freight was moving and it would be sent immediately after Christmas. Nothing heard for several business days after the holiday so I phoned again. My contact was in hospital following a car accident, and nobody could find any record of my order. Nothing further could be done until he returned to the office. I was not very polite to the person telling me this. On 4th Jan I was told that the goods had been forwarded to the airport but they could not give me an AWB until the goods were actually on the aircraft. By Thursday, still no AWB so I phoned and told them I must have an AWB number that day otherwise I cancel the order. After a considerable delay, he was given an AWB number. I assumed the goods were on the plane. I learned later that the freight agent TNT recorded the goods being handed to them in their Southampton office on the next day. Diamond gave me the Trinidad handling agents name and address. Looking for this in the phone book I can find no agent of that name, however there was an agent with the same letters transposed at an address near to the one given. I phoned and they said this AWB was not one of theirs, but there was another agent with the same initials, different address. This other agent denied that it was one of his consignments. I sent a fax to Diamond telling them they gave me the wrong information. Then I went to the office of the second agent. I made it clear that I was not going to move until it had been established which agent was handling my consignment. This agent phoned Diamond and found that the consignment had been sent using TNT and the other agent was the local representative of TNT. We found the office of this agent and he accepted the consignment was one of his, but it had not arrived. It was now overdue; he would put a trace on it to find out where it was. The events surrounding the 'trace' are just as bizarre, but to cut a long story short, the package was never found. There was a record of it being dispatched from TNT Southampton office to London Airport but no further. I believe that the package was never handed in to TNT. Diamond stopped answering my faxes and phone calls. Brian made complaints to Mastercard, Hampshire Council Fair Trading Department, and the magazine in which he saw the original advert. He did get his money back after a delay of several months, but Diamond did not attempt to address our complaints against them. We did finally get a printer shipped out from the USA.


What do we need a computer for?

Good question. Daily we record our expenses on an accounts program. This helps us to know exactly what we are spending, and gives budget comparisons so that we know were the money is going. We used to do this manually in a ledger book but it is many times easier on the computer. We produce a newssheet using a simple desktop publishing program, and use a word processing program for writing our letters. We use a database program to keep lists of improvements and maintenance items, schedule of equipment on board with serial numbers, and specs, electrical circuit details and loadings, lists of boat names with crew names, radio call signs and addresses when known. We keep a list of radio schedule frequencies and times, and a list of channel allocations for the 100 memory channels on our radio. We also have a list for grocery provisioning for the longer passages and cruises, a list of medical supplies, a list of charts and pilot books. To be able to add, delete, and re-arrange the order of items on these databases, and to print out a new list when required is a great advantage over manual systems, or no system at all. We have programs to produce tide tables for any port any year, for producing any page of the nautical almanac, for weatherfax, and for HF propagation conditions. We are trying digital communications on ham radio with access to onshore bulletin boards and message forwarding, but have not got that sorted out yet. Yes, you have guessed, Brian spends too much time at the computer.



Due to our delayed departure from Trinidad we needed to be quite selective to try to make best use of our time in this huge Spanish speaking country. Our first stop was Margarita, an offshore 'duty - free' island. Checking in to Customs, Immigration, Health and so on is made 'difficult' by the Venezuelans so we made use of an agent called Island Yacht Services to clear in. We used the taxis and por puesto's (cheaper shared taxi's) for the first day but we soon learned enough about the bus service to get about more cheaply. At Porlamar, we browsed around the luxury goods shops and bought a trolly-load of 'special' tinned and packet food that provided treats on our Pacific Ocean crossing when our fresh produce was finished. We also stocked up with duty free wine, beer and spirits from one of the liquor stores. There were many delightful little restaurants and snack bars and we indulged in eating out more than we should have done. Next we sailed for Puerto Mochima on the mainland. On the way there our GPS started giving spurious readings, reporting our speed as 60mph at a course of about 9Odeg from our actual course. It took us on a magic carpet to several hundred miles away from our actual position before turning us around and returning to our real position by the time we were anchored in Mochima. We speculate a satellite toppled out of position or some sort of experiment or adjustment was being carried out to the system. It shows one should not rely entirely on electronic navigation, and dead reckoning using only a compass is a mandatory skill for those wanting to voyage offshore Puerto Mochima is a beautiful fiord type inlet about 4 miles long, and having a narrow entrance and steep protective hills all around. There is one small village, and so many small bays that it is easy to find an anchorage on your own. We saw Venezuelans shooting geese to roast on an open fire at a camp in one of the bays. Our next stop was Puerto La Cruz, a major tourist resort. We found all the razzmatazz of street artists, souvenir stalls, bargain clothes and a huge variety of restaurants. The seafront was ever vibrant with music and life right into the wee hours We anchored off the town but it was exposed and wet going ashore in the dinghy, so we sailed to Marina El Moro De Barcelona on the El Moro peninsula a few miles away.


Bang Bang

We anchored in El Moro Marina late in the day and next morning rowed over to see Bob on yacht Kalona, who we had not seen since Trinidad. As we approached Kalona there was a commotion on the quay and a policeman charged to the bow of one of the moored boats and started shouting and gesticulating at us. Confused and not understanding what was wrong we indicated we were rowing to Kalona and he seemed satisfied and lost interest in us Meanwhile there was a roar of a motorbike and a police car charging down the quayside. We learned later the police motorbike accidentally ran over a stray dog that frequented the marina looking for scraps. On Kalona, we made our way to the bow with Bob to try to find out what was going on. Talking to people on the quay it seemed that the police were searching for two men accused of attempted rape at a crowded holiday beach opposite the marina. The men had run away and were believed to be hiding in the marina. One of the men was found on the deck of an unoccupied yacht fairly quickly and apprehended peacefully. The other, when found, jumped into the water and started to swim for Tusk, which was the only boat anchored out in the middle. A policeman started shooting at the fugitive and our hearts were in our mouths as we expected to see splinters of fiberglass off Tusk at any moment. Probably the policeman was just trying to frighten the man into submission, because he was an easy target at that range, but was not hit. The fugitive seemed to change his mind about making for Tusk and swam quickly for the outer breakwater. Another policeman had commandeered an inflatable dinghy with only one oar. He was obviously not used to boats and was paddling an erratic course towards the man now nearing the outer breakwater. As the policeman in the dinghy scrambled onto the rocks waving his handgun in the air he fell backwards into the water. The scene was taking the character of a Keystone Cops farce. Another policeman who had run along the breakwater caught the man before he could reach the other side and beat the still resisting man with his rifle butt. Soon there were three policemen holding down the man and beating him, and soon he was dragged off to a waiting police. Children on the quayside were still crying over the body of the poor stray dog.


Los Navados

With Tusk anchored in El Moro Marina, we were ready to set off on our major touristic experience in Venezue1a, an inland trip to the Andes Mountains and the remote village of Los Navados. A taxi took us to the bus station at Puerto La Cruz. We bought pastries and fruit juice from a street vendor for breakfast, and boarded our bus for Caracas. Each Venezuelan bus has a character of its own. This was a hard seated boneshaker, but the countryside and towns rolling past began to give us some insight to life in this interesting country. Only the night before we had recommended to us Hotel City as a good place to stay in Caracas. We got there from the bus station using the city metro, an underground train system similar to that of London. City Hotel turned out to be an excellent choice, it was very central and located more or less at the start of the Sabana Grande, the premier shopping street Joyce spent the afternoon indulging in her hobby of window shopping while. Brian trailed patiently behind. In the evening we dined on beef steaks almost too big to enjoy in a bodega near the hotel. Next morning we joined an organised tour to a German village called Colonial Tovar that included a lunch of traditional German food. The bus ride was nice, the village was artificially touristic, the food was average, and we felt we could have spent the money and time better on an all day tour of Caracas city. That night at 20:15 we boarded a bus for Barinas, a journey of 8hrs. The bus was packed, and the seats so close together that our legs pressed into the seat in front. As the hours went by, it became more excruciatingly painful. There were several stops for refreshments, but at the end of the journey we knew what it is like for sardines when the tin is finally opened. We had to wait two hours for our bus to Merida and fortunately there were ladies selling hot coffee from thermos flasks at the entrance to the bus station, We laid down on the bench seats using our haversacks as pillows only to be woken just before 6am by the station superintendent who was going around with his stick, whacking anybody sleeping on the station seats. We got another coffee from the ladies and climbed aboard our bus for Merida, another 6hrs away. The road from Barinas to Merida is spectacular, if you can keep awake. The bus climbs slowly up through the foothills of the Andes. Farmland and forest, rivers and lakes, and lovely mountain villages unfold in a never-ending panorama. Two stops were made for refreshments, and no doubt to allow the engine of the bus to cool. Approaching Merida we had to pay close attention to our town map so as to get off at the right place. We had been warned that the bus bypasses the city center and the bus station was a long way out of town. We got it right, and only had a half-mile walk into town. We had a list of cheap hotels and posadas in Merida gleaned from friends that did the trip months before. We found these places gloomy and rather rough, and settled on a moderate price hotel, the Hotel Teleferico. We were rewarded with a bright airy room overlooking the town square and a gorgeous view of the mountainside and Teleferico cable car. We spent the rest of the day walking around the city. Merida is an interesting University City and there are occasionally student protests. We nearly walked into one of these when we found police with riot shields firing tear gas at stone throwing students. We doubled back on our route and got back to our hotel by walking a circuitous route around the central park where it was all happening. We found from talking to students in a restaurant that this incident was a protest against the withdrawal of free bus rides in the city area for students. These fracases were not uncommon. As the students put it, the police sometimes do not play fair and a student gets killed. That night we had dinner in the hotel, and went early to bed to catch up on much lost sleep. Next day we wanted to arrange car hire for a day so most of the morning was spent travelling to the airport to arrange that. We were not to pick it up until the evening so we got a por puesto (shared taxi) to a picturesque village called Jaji. We took photographs, had lunch in a lovely courtyard restaurant, looked around handicraft shops, and got back to Merida in time to collect our car. The evenings were light until quite late so we toured up and down the jam-packed Merida streets and enjoyed looking into the old fashioned shops as we crawled along in the traffic jams. Merida is a one-way traffic system, and an arrow on the street name shows the direction. No one explained this to us, but we learned quickly. That night we had dinner in a pizza place. Next morning a few hundred meters from the hotel we had breakfast of a jug of ice cold juice made from fresh -liquidised fruit, and delicious hot pastries. By 8am we were on the road out of Merida to make the best of our days car hire. We visited a national park area with superb forest and lakes. We stopped to look around several small villages and visited the exclusive Los Frailes Hotel. Converted from an old monastry it is a romantically stunning building in a lovely mountain setting. We had a drink at the bar but abandoned the idea of having lunch when we saw the prices. We then drove up the highest road in Venezuela and viewed the eagle statue which overlooks the deep valley below. We tried to get to the observatories, which are situated high in the mountain, but we ran out of time and headed back to Merida to return the car.

Next morning we were up early to catch the first Teleferico up the mountain. There are four stages, but the top stage is out of action due to lack of money for repairs, the car is stuck midway between two stations, hundreds of feet in the air. At the end of stages one and two, we change cars. There are refreshment kiosks at each of these stations, and the whole journey takes one hour. We travel slowly, swaying slightly on the wire cables as we rise, the town below gets smaller and smaller and finally disappears. We travel over craggy slopes covered in deciduous trees, then coniferous trees, then the tree line ends and we see only scraggy almost cactus like plants. It gets distinctly cooler as we go, and the air feels cleaner and bites at our lungs. We arrive with a clunk at the top, the gates open, and we walk into a different world. Some of our fellow travellers will go no further, they will return to Merida by Teleferico later that day. Some make for the mule station, where the mountain people have mules and a few horses to carry people to Los Navados. We, and a few others, intend to walk the l6Kms and enjoy the views at our leisure. After a while we wonder what we have let ourselves in for. We were warned that it would be cold, but we are pouring with perspiration. The track is rough-hewn out of the mountainside and seems to rise at about 45 degrees. Sand and small stones roll under our feet and it is necessary to place our fingertips on nearby rocks to keep our balance as we go. Looking longingly towards the peak of the hill we have to climb we screw up our eyes because the sky is so bright and the sun is sending laser shafts of light down the slope at us. As we get nearer to the top we feel a little sick, are developing a headache, and our legs are wobbling. Mules passing us scramble and slide and kick sharp stones and dust into our faces. We have a rest and try again; we know this is supposed to be the worst part of the journey. We get to the top of the hill, and we are exhausted. We stop and rest again, and are offered a mule by a passing guide. We refuse. We are not giving in yet; us yachties are made of sterner stuff than that. So far as we can see into the distance the path slopes downward. We anticipate an easy walk from here onward. But as we go, we find that for every two steps down there is at least one step uphill again. The next few kilometres we really enjoyed the clean fresh air, the strange high altitude plants, the distant stream at the bottom of the valley, and magnificent mountains. We stopped two mountain horsemen dressed in colourful shirts, leather chaps on their legs, sat on sleek fit brown horses. We could not understand each others language but they agreed to pose for photographs and were soon on their way again. We stopped for lunch at midday, and had a snack and drinks we brought with us in our backpack. Our backpacks were getting lighter, but it did not seem that way, and our rest periods became more frequent and longer. The distance does not seem much, but the inclines, both up and down, make it hard work. Our shoes were not really good enough for this kind of walking. On the down inclines our big toes were being pounded into the end of the shoe. During the weeks after our walk our big toenails went blue, then black, and then dropped off. It was at least six months before they grew normally again. Most of the others on the track were half our age. Although some actually ran the distance, all seemed to agree that it was an arduous journey. Our legs were like heavy stumps of wood as we walked the last few kilometres into Los Navados, about seven hours after we had left the Teleferico. As we walked into the town, many small children approached us. They tried to lead us to the posada run by their family. Most posadas looked dreary and primitive, but getting near the end of the village Joyce spotted a bright attractive posada named El Buen Jesus. This is the one she said, lets stay here. We checked the prices. It was a bit more expensive than the others but it was clean and bright so we agreed a room for two nights. All the posadas seemed to be built in a similar manner. Ours had a stone foundation and thick walls made out of local mud brick. Roof beams were made of trunks of small trees and were covered in mud and red tile. The rooms had whitewashed walls and windows having wooden bars and shutters, no glass. The rooms are centred on a pretty stone floor courtyard with a cooking area and dining table at one end. One of the rooms was a lounge with a few chairs, and a chimney decorated with a nativity frieze. There were local woodcarvings, religious books and guidebooks in Spanish scattered if' the room. We had a walk around the village before dinner. Los Navados is still unspoilt by tourism, no souvenir shops, and no bars, only a few very basic provisions shops. Dinner in our posada was simple local fare with cooked dried beans and plenty of fresh fruit. At dusk, clouds rose off the deep valley floor below and enveloped the village if' a strange cold swirling mist. We had another walk through the village. Through the cracks in the doors and windows you could see the glow of dim lights and hear the low murmuring of voices. The place had a mysterious feeling of being in a superstitious bygone age. Next morning it was brilliantly fine and clear again. We had fried egg, black beans and chunks of bread for breakfast. Brian’s egg must have been off, because he felt increasingly ill through the day. We took a packed lunch and headed down the valley toward the river at the bottom. It was a more strenuous scramble than the day before, made more frustrating by the groups of local school children running up and down the path as though on a level playing field. City life and cruising never prepared us for this sort of thing. By the time we reached the river Brian was feeling the effect of the suspect breakfast egg, and we decided to go no further. The river was beautiful with waterfalls and rapids. The sun was hot and we were perspiring freely from our walk, but the water was so cold that it was painful to dangle our feet in the river for more than a few seconds. The scramble back up the side of the valley was somewhat of a trial for Brian, now suffering serious stomach pains. When we got back to the posada, we rested, and Brian skipped his evening meal Fortunately we were in better shape again by the next morning. We had ordered mules for the journey back but it was getting quite late before the mule driver arrived. He was a young boy, with three full size mules and two baby mules. We finally were mounted and started slowly up the village street, the boy guide walking, and the three un-mounted mules following. At the top of the village, one of the un-mounted mules suddenly bolted down a track, and after a moment of confusion, our guide ran off after him leaving us alone. Joyce’s mule then saw its chance and bolted off in the opposite direction to our guide, with Joyce clinging on for dear life. Brian expected the guide to return at any moment, and then go off to rescue Joyce. But after 10 minutes there was no sign of him, or of Joyce, and it was looking very like we might be too late to get the last Teleferico down the mountain that day, even if Joyce could be found in one piece again. Brian dismounted, tied his mule to a tree, and set of on foot in the direction Joyce’s mule had gone. At the first bend in the track he was relieved to see the Mule, munching away on a grass embankment, with Joyce still mounted. The mule had run into a cul de sac and could go no further. It was another 20 minutes before our guide returned with the renegade mule and we got back on the track again. For a while, all went well and we made good progress, but Brian’s mule was a bit pushy and tended to hustle any other mules that got in front. The mule in front retaliated by kicking, generally catching Brian in the shin, producing sizable bruises. Then Brian’s mule decided to have a jaunt on its own, and left the track and cantered along loose shale slopes, over boulders and scrub bushes and down towards the valley in search of something to eat. The guide followed a prudent distance behind but seemed unwilling to exert any undue influence on the animal. Brian tried precariously to maintain his seat on the back of the mule, and fortunately it found what it wanted and got back on the proper track before any disaster occurred The rest of the trip was uneventful but for the last kilometre the mules were obviously very fatigued. So, we dismounted and walked the last stretch to the cable car. Our journey home from Merida went smoothly. We got a por puesto to Barinas. Then a bus took us direct to Puerto La Cruz, a marathon of nearly 18hrs. But this was quite an interesting ride with room to stretch out, and most of it was in daylight. The whole trip had been exciting and fascinating



Curacao is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), more correctly known as the Dutch Antilles. When we left El Moro the weather was fine, but with little wind, and we had to motor. As we progressed it became windy, and we had boisterous and unsettled conditions. On the third day we knew we could make Bonaire before dark, but not Curacao, so we changed course for Bonaire, and anchored overnight. We had to anchor three times before we could get the anchor to hold on the narrow rocky ledge. We left early next morning without going ashore. Mid afternoon we arrived at the entrance to Spanish Water in Curacao, and knew we had made the right decision to stop overnight at Bonaire. Spanish Water would have been a difficult entrance to make at night. It is an enclosed lagoon with a narrow entrance and is therefore a very protected, although rather murky piece of water. Due to lack of high ground, it is open to the full force of the reinforced trade winds, so it is nearly always very windy. Most yachts anchor near to Sarifundy's who have a dinghy pontoon, a bar, produce snacks and light meals, provide water, showers and washing machines, phones and handle mail and faxes, They also have a weekly barbecue at which a few talented amateur musicians usually perform, so it is a very popular venue and a focal point for all the yachts. One unique feature of Sarifundy's is the 'honesty sheet'. All the services you use go on your account and you pay weekly. You help yourself to beer or drinks from the fridge and just mark down what you have taken on a list. You get your account to pay each week Its amazing that this works in this day and age with transient clientele, but it apparently does. Curacao is a clean and tidy island, and the Afro Caribbean section of society do seem to enjoy a much higher standard of living than in other Caribbean islands. The capital is Willemstad, and has an unusual floating bridge, a colourful floating market, good shopping, and many places of interest. We visited Fort Amsterdam, strolled the waterfront and admired the many old Dutch style houses in the city. We travelled the island by bus and car and visited several beaches. About 10 days were spent writing the newssheet of our voyage from Florida to Trinidad, and finding a photocopy shop that would do the copies for a good price. That done, we were ready to press on.


San Bias Islands

The trip between Curacao and Panama has a reputation of being rough and dangerous. Strong winds and the continental shelf off Columbia combine to make unusually rough seas. Added to this is Columbia's reputation for being the center of drug trafficking, and stories of yachts being hijacked for use on drug runs. This last factor has probably been exaggerated. Now Cartagena in Columbia is a popular stopping place for yachts. The weather and the sea however have not changed. We had very strong winds, and waves breaking over our stern deck for all of one night on our way to the San Bias Islands. The wind died on the approach to the San Bias and we motored the last 12hrs in a flat calm. We anchored off Puyadas, a reef fringed island, with yellow sand beach, covered in palm trees. Next morning a Cuna Indian fisherman approached us with three small lobsters for sale at $3 for the lot. We accepted his offer, concealing amazement at our bargain, and hung them over the side in a string bag to keep them alive until we were ready to cook them. We went ashore and walked around the Island and met the two Indian families that were living there. We were invited to sit down with them, and by sign language and example, and a few words of English and Spanish, we had a conversation with them. There was an old lady with a bad cough, and we were asked if we had medicine. We did, and we brought it ashore later. The ladies brought out some molas for us to see. The molas are made of bright coloured cloth sewn together to make simple semi geometric pictures of fish, plants or animals. Sewn onto a square or oblong back piece they were then used to decorate their shirts and blouses. We bought two molas that we found most interesting and parted the best of friends. That night we cooked lobster for the first time ever on Tusk, it was delicious. We next moved to Tiger Island on which there was a Cuna Indian Village, and a small landing strip for light aircraft We walked through the village, in which the dwelling walls were made of bamboo and the roof was palm thatch. They had dirt floors simple furniture and utensils and wood fires. Molas, clothes and bead jewellery seemed to be the main industry of the women. Fishing from dug out sailing canoes being the main occupation of the men. We saw fish and lobster loaded into an aircraft to go to Panama City. Most of the Indians seemed friendly, and Joyce bought a few small items of beads and a mola. But some Indians seemed resentful of our presence. We did not linger for long, and made back for Tusk We watched and photographed the little dugout canoes sailing downwind and being paddled upwind. It seemed a peaceful existence but probably due for change. The younger people were dressed in modern fashionable clothes instead of the traditional colourful Indian costume. It is difficult to believe that they would choose to preserve this somewhat simple way of life in preference to the temptations of the consumer society. We visited another two islands in the group and then sailed for Colon, the entrance to the Panama Canal.


Panama, Historical Notes.

Before the canal was built, boats needing to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific, had no option but to do thousands of extra miles around Cape Horn in what was often appalling weather conditions. In 1846 a USA charge d'affaires signed a treaty with New Granada, as Columbia was known then, to the effect that the US would guarantee the neutrality of the isthmus and New Granada's rights of sovereignty there, in exchange for the exclusive right of transit across the isthmus upon any mode of communication. This treaty, and the great American gold rush (the need for an easier route from east to west), was instrumental in the building of the very successful Panama railway, completed in 1855. US carried out some surveys in 1870 to find a route through the isthmus for a canal but no suitable route could be found. Possibly bolstered by the success of the building of the Suez Canal the French obtained a contract agreement with Columbia to build a canal at Panama. On the back of an inadequate survey and fudged engineering proposals the French raised the cash needed by issue of shares. Work began in 1881. The problems of building the canal had been grossly underestimated. Bad management, engineering problems, sickness and financial scandal led to the bankruptcy and liquidation of the French company in I 889. The US had strategic reasons for wanting a canal across Central America but they favoured Nicaragua. This changed when the price required by the French for the abandoned machinery and workings was set at - low figure. The Columbian government had been difficult with the USA over the negotiations, but an uprising in Panama in 1893, encouraged by the USA, resulted in Panama becoming independent from Columbia. This eased the way for the USA to complete its negotiations for the canal. Construction work started again in 1904 and was completed in 1914. If French and US costs are aggregated it is estimated the canal cost $639,000,000 and maybe 25,000 lives. Despite these costs, the Panama Canal was a financial success. A saving of some eight thousand miles is possible by using the canal instead of the route around Cape Horn. Yachts in particular benefit from being able to use the canal. It was with some excitement that we anchored Tusk on 'The Flats' at Colon to arrange our own transit.


The Transit Preliminaries.

When we cleared in with the authorities we were also briefed on organising our transit. Tusk had to be measured, and then we could book our transit day with the Canal office. We got measured, and collected our measurement certificate the next day. We then looked around Colon town. It was a drab dirty place that might at one time have had some class. There were some interesting buildings but nothing was maintained, nothing painted, everything was quite filthy. There were dubious characters around, and it was easy to believe the stories of crime and muggings. We were never threatened, but a friend was robbed of his wallet and got his hand bit when he resisted having his brief case taken. We topped up our provisions, but were glad we had already got most of our stores for the Pacific crossing. The variety of foods was poor, especially for tinned or packet meat products. We had repairs to do and had to spend time searching around Colon to find quite simple items. Joyce had a tooth problem so we had a couple of visits to a dentist. One night we had a tropical storm of unusual violence and our dinghy was missing next morning. Brian scoured the harbour bank to see if it had washed ashore. It was nowhere to be seen. Checking the painter to see if it had been cut free and stolen we found a great weight on it. The dinghy had filled with water and sunk, complete with outboard motor. We stripped the motor, cleaned it and got it running briefly, but then it refused work. We were unable to get spare parts. It was a long row from 'The Flats' to the dock so we took a berth at the Colon Yacht Club for the rest of our stay.


The Transit

Before we were ready to transit, Yacht El Gitano asked if we would act as line handlers for them. It was a good idea to have experience of the canal before we took Tusk through, so we agreed. The trip went very smoothly in one day. It ought to be explained here that each boat transiting the canal must have on board a helmsman, four line handlers, an advisor (pilot) and four lines at least 125m long. The vessel must be able to maintain a minimum speed of 5 knots; otherwise it must be towed through at commercial towing rates. If your vessel is fast enough, and traffic conditions allow, it is possible to transit the 38 Nm (anchorage to anchorage) in one day. But if not, it takes two days and you have an overnight stop at Gamboa, about 14 Nm from Balboa. When we were ready to do our own transit we agreed with Yacht Exocet Grand Duc that we would be their line handlers, and then they would be our line handlers. So we had another practice run, which again went quite smoothly. Our fourth linehandler was Lupe, an American Indian belonging to the Lepan tribe of the Apache group, now cruising with her husband in Yacht Icarus. Our transit turned out to be rather more exciting than our 'practice' runs. The crew was aboard by 6am, and we motored from the dock to The Flats where we were told to wait for our advisor to board from the pilot boat. We waited, saw advisors boarding other boats and leaving, but we still waited. It was nearly 10am before our advisor boarded and we got under way. The locks are enormous, and are not suitable for yachts. The flow of water often creates very strong currents, so special procedures are used to get yachts through safely. Outside the first lock we were instructed to tie alongside a large sport fishing boat. The fishing boat, with us tied alongside, the entered the lock and was to tie alongside a seagoing tug which was already secured to the edge of the lock. Ahead of the tug was a large cruise liner. The fishing boat manoeuvred up to the tug, and his advisor was telling the helmsman what power to apply to each of his twin engines. As we got close to the tug, the nervous helmsman gunned the wrong engine and turned the bow of the fishing boat away from the tug. The fast current caught his bow and in moments we were broadside across the lock, being swept towards the closing gates. Everybody on Tusk froze, and we hung on quite helplessly whilst the advisor on the fishing boat grabbed the controls and gunned the engines in forward and reverse to turn to face the gates of the lock, dragging Tusk alongside. The lock operator had seen our predicament and the gates were opening. We were conscious of hundreds of faces looking down at us from the cruise liner. We shot through the gap like a cork out of a champagne bottle into the placid approach channel. We considered ourselves fortunate only to have had one cleat torn off the deck by the fast, savage dragging. We could have been smashed to bits on the side of the lock. On the next attempt, no mistakes were made, and we entered the canal safely. The first part of the canal is actually a lake, several miles across and peppered with islands. The ship channel is marked with buoys, but we detoured to the east, and rejoined the main channel after about 7 Nm, at Bohio Reach. Below the waterline Tusk had plenty of weed and barnacles. This, together with our temporary crew of six, the weight of the extra mooring ropes, and overloaded with stores, we had difficulty in maintaining the required 5 knots even with the engine at full blast. Our advisor was helpful and suggested we should use our sails. With following winds, and full sail, we were able to achieve the required speed by motor sailing. As we then traversed a number of reaches, each about 2 Nm long, we thought what a wonderful cruising area this would be if yachts were allowed to use the many islands, bays and tributaries. We were surrounded by natural virgin jungle and swamp. We did not go through any more locks that day and at 4pm we anchored at Gamboa. Our advisor left us and we all had a swim in the canal and then tried a bit of fishing. We then made ourselves, and our crew, comfortable for night. We were very glad of a cockpit enclosure that we had made in Trinidad, and the crew of Gran Duc were happy to sleep in the cockpit without having to worry about the frequent rain showers. Next day, our new advisor joined us and we proceeded through the Galliard Cut, a narrow 7 Nm canal through a mountain. We then passed through the Pedro Miguel locks, Mira Flores Lake, the Mira Flores locks, and we were safely through the canal to Balboa, and the Pacific Ocean. We explored Panama City in a few days, and wished we had more time in Panama, but it was time to leave.


Taboga Island

We wanted to clean the bottom of Tusk to improve our speed for the long voyage ahead. We found it had been customary to careen yachts on the beach at a small creek on Taboga Island, off Balboa. There was the wreck of an old schooner that was big enough for deep keel yachts to tie to lean against. It seemed a good spot for us to dry out on our bilge keels and scrape the bottom. We found the schooner, dropped our stern anchor in deep water, and tied a line from our bow to the wreck. As the tide went out we started scraping. After three hours we were standing on a hard sand beach removing the last few barnacles. Waiting for the tide to turn, the weather deteriorated giving us strong gusts and rain. Unknown to us at the time, boats in the nearby anchorage were having a rougher time than us. One single hander with an engine problem dragged into shallow water. He was being pounded on the hard bottom by the unexpected swell, and attempts to pull him off failed. He had a worrying time until the tide rose and the wind abated. Our creek had given us more shelter than we realised. It was night by the time the tide lifted us off the bottom. We used our stern anchor to haul ourselves out into deeper water. When we tried the engine full ahead we got at least six knots, an improvement of about 30%, such are the penalties of barnacles on your bottom. We were now ready for the Pacific Ocean.


Summary Of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To:                 Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/kts

13Aug1992/9Febl993 (At Port of Spain, Trinidad)    -

9Feb                Scot1and Bay,                 3       1        1      Var/Squalls    Quiet attractive little bay

10/11Feb         Porlamar, Margerita     116     29      29      SE/0-8           Light conditions, motor sailing

17Feb              Pampatar, Margarita      10       2        2      NE08             Bright and fine, bit of a chop

18Feb              Isla Cubagua, Venezuela31      9        4      None-E08      Calm sailing, did not go ashore

19Feb              Mochima, Venezuela     32       9        1      E/5E05-14     Fine sailing conditions, calm

21 Feb             Puerto La Cruz,             21       7        1      NE04-14        Nice day, bit of swell

22Feb              El Moro, Venezuela         6       1        1      NE10-l5         Rather blustery and rolly

13/15Mar        Kralendijk, Bonaire     250     60        5      N/NE/E0-28  Mixed, fine to rough

16Mar             Spanish Water,              37       7        3      N/NE/5E6-l8 Changeable, dolphins sighted

3/8Apr             Puyadas Isle, San Bias 638   132      20      SE/E/NE0-25Very rough seas for a while

10Apr              Tiger '51, San Bias           3       1        1      None              We buy lobster from Indian

12Apr              Green 151, San Bias      10       3        3      NE06-l0         Fascinating Indian village

13Apr              Holandes Cays, San Bias10       3        3      NE04-08        Indian canoes come to trade

14/l5Apr          Colon, Panama              69     21      21      None              Flat calm all the way

15/6May          Balboa, Panama             38     12      12                             Transit of Panama Canal

14May             Taboga Is1, Panama      10       3        3                             We beach Tusk & clean bottom


Chapter 13



Tusk sailing in the trade winds- leaving Palmerston Island


Pacific Adventure

You really have to look at a globe of the world to see why the Pacific Ocean is considered an awesome piece of sea. A flat map does not convey the immensity of the distances between the masses of the continents each side. Islands that are seen as tiny dots, are insignificant compared to the overall scheme of things. The remoteness and isolation makes many of these small islands fascinating. Cheaper and quicker transportation and sophisticated communications are pulling these isolated communities into the modern world. We found an intriguing mix of old culture and modern.


Panama to Galapagos

Panama is South of the area where the NE trade winds blow, and comes under the influence of the inter-tropical convergence zone. The centreline of this zone moves north of the equator in the summer and fills the area between the latitudes of Panama and Galapagos. Yachts expecting a trade wind passage on this route are in for a disappointment. Towering clouds, heavy rain, thunderstorms and lightening, calms, and sudden squalls from any direction characterize the weather. The prevalent winds tend to be headwinds. Some yachts take plenty of fuel and use their engines extensively to motor a rhumb line course, sailing occasionally when conditions are favourable. We have limited fuel capacity so we resolved to sail, only using our engine for charging the batteries. If we could not hold course for Galapagos due to adverse winds, we tended to take the southern tack, knowing that if we went far enough south we would eventually pick up the SE trade winds. Four days out from Panama, we were off the Columbian coast and were challenged on VHF radio by a US warship. They had a US coastguard aboard and asked questions about our voyage and our birth dates for identification. They asked us to stand by while they ran a check. They came back later and thanked us for our co-operation and wished Brian a happy birthday. They had noticed from the dates that this was indeed Brian’s birthday. Adverse winds forced us to sail down the South American coast until we were in sight of a lighthouse off Ecuador. We crossed the equator at 9am on 28May and had a celebration. Later in the day, we had duck a l'orange (from a tin) for dinner as a special treat. Once across the equator we picked up moderate SE trade winds and had a sleigh ride into the Galapagos Islands.


Darwin’s is1and.

The Galapagos Islands are administered by Ecuador, and are located on the equator at 90 deg East. Their claim to fame includes a visit by Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle, and was an important influence in the formulation of his theory of evolution. It is now an expensive tourist destination for people interested in seeing unique and rare plants, animals, birds and reptiles. Tourists are restricted as to where they can go without a guide, and this applies especially to yachts, which are not allowed to stop outside the designated harbours. When a yacht arrives they give you four days stay and charge about $150 harbour dues. Some yachts consider this charge horrendous, but tourists arriving at the airport have to pay $60 parks fee per person, then airfares and accommodation make it one of the most expensive venues in the world. Yachts are by far the cheapest way of visiting the islands. But with only 4 days allowed, you have to get organised quickly. We entered harbour at dawn, had breakfast, and got ashore to the Port Captains Office. This is where we stalled, waiting for the Port Captain to arrive at mid morning. Formalities were completed on an intermittent basis amid much other business, and delays. Frustrating, because this was counted as our first day. After the Port Captain we found the immigration office and got our passports stamped for 10 days, but we knew who held the seat of power, we still only had 4 days. We then sought out a tour guide who had been recommended, Daniel at the Hotel Solimar. He seemed vague and distant and we had some doubts about him, but he turned out to be a very good guide. We waited the next morning at Hotel Solimar and he arrived with our transport. This was an open pick up truck with two upright dining chairs in the back. Daniel was to travel with us, so we had to borrow a plastic chair from the hotel. Feeling as conspicuous as the king, queen and the chancellor we drove off onto the dirt road that provided the main artery of the island. We visited sinkholes, great natural pits. Around the pits were Sicalesia trees, unique to the Galapagos. We saw several giant tortoises in the wild. We saw rare birds including the Vermilion Flycatcher. Had lunch at Furio's gourmet restaurant in the high lands and went for a horse ride at  his farm. Riding over the hillside in fine misty rain was a refreshing experience. Lastly we visited extensive lava caves only discovered recently. Accessible by ladder down a deep shaft, we used old type miner’s carbide (?) lamps to find our way. Then we bumped our way back to Ayora on our thrones. Next day we were at the quayside before sunrise to catch a bus to the other side of the island. We then got on a tiny sport fishing boat and set off with about 12 Ecuadorian tourists for the island of Bartholome. It was a crossing of maybe 20 miles in strong trade winds. Most of the passengers were seasick and we had serious doubts regarding the seaworthiness and safety of the craft. Bartholome was lovely, seals basking, shy penguins swimming in shoals, and birds like the Blue Footed Booby at close quarters. We walked up the side of a volcano to see the most gorgeous views. We finished by snorkelling and just before we returned to the boat, a seal came to play. It would head for us, and as we put a hand out to touch him he curved away just out of reach, then it would stand on its tail as if to say 'look how good I am, you ungainly creatures'. The sea trip back to Santa Cruz was rough again, and the bus dropped us off in Puerto Ayora after dark. Next day we visited the Darwin Research Station and saw more of the large tortoise. There are several distinct types but mainly the long necks and the short necks. There were also some reptiles on show. A small museum gave an account of the way in which the species had arrived on the islands from South America and the reasons for their differing development. It gave the history of the Galapagos and the environmental threats. There was also an explanation of the El Nino phenomenon. This is believed to have an important influence on the world’s weather. We learnt a lot in our days visit to the station. Next morning the Port Captains man visited us in a launch and gave us our departure papers. No malingering allowed here. We went ashore and stocked up with fresh vegetables and fruit. We bought a piece of beef, which we roasted to provide 'cold cuts' for quite a few days at sea. We had not been able to catch rain water for a while so we purchased distilled drinking water and extra soft drinks. After stowing the stores, we readied Tusk for sea, for what was to be our longest passage yet, about 3000 nautical miles.


Our Longest Voyage

We left Ayora in a drizzle, and had a problem with the Aries self-steering. A bolt holding a tube in place failed and the servo paddle would not stay down. Precariously hanging on the stern, Brian tied the tube in place using cord, and the Aeries was set to work again. Second day out, it was obvious that our stalk of bananas was going to ripen too quickly, so Joyce made some jars of banana chutney. From time to time we caught a fish, usually Wahoo or Tuna, but the best was a 5 lb Dorado. We hooked several fish that broke the line. Seven days out we lost our battery charging. We found it was the Balmar regulator at fault. We took the regulator out of circuit and applied voltage direct to the field coil. Then we could charge the batteries, but had to disconnect the coil or turn off the engine before the batteries overcharged.  Next day the temporary cord on the Aeries broke, so we launched the dinghy and Brian fixed two steel pipe clips on the tube for a more permanent repair. This was more difficult than anticipated due to the movement of the dinghy and Tusk in the ocean swell. Nine days out we had a visit from a Japanese fishing boat that made us nervous by heading straight for us. We talked for a few minutes on the radio, they appeared to be just curious. We had a schedule on ham radio with Roy (call sign G3MUK) in the UK, often with relay, and sometimes direct. Through Roy, our families were able to follow our progress across the Ocean. We also had a daily schedule with other cruisers sailing the same route. Known first as the safety net, it became Martha’s net after the main co-ordinator of the net. We gave our daily positions, discussed weather information, problem solving, fishing, and exchanged social chitchat. Not until we were a few days off landfall did we see another yacht. We passed Halo in rough weather, and then he passed us a day later when it moderated. Yacht Ridule passed us two days later. We sighted Hiva Oa in the Marquesas at dawn, 30 days after leaving the Galapagos, and anchored in Atuona Harbour before midday. It had been an easy trip of 2959 Nm, without any serious problems Weather throughout the voyage was generally fine, sometimes cloudy, and occasionally with a boisterous sea running. But we were still very glad to be back in harbour.


Bastille Day.

We arrived in the Marquesas at the start of the Bastille day calibrations, a big holiday festival in France to celebrate the French revolution. Since we heard of events being held over a week or more we asked a resident how long it lasted. We were told that it lasted until everybody had enough. Two days after our arrival we went to a dancing/singing fete in the village. It was an interesting show by mainly children, and gave us an entertaining night out. When we got back to the harbour we found the wind had increased and a large swell was running.        Our dinghy, anchored stern out, had dragged and was pounding itself on the stone breakwater. The front end was smashed, and we could not recover our anchor. Next morning Brian tried to find the anchor by diving with a mask, but visibility was zero and it was more than an arms length down a crevice. Moray eels were reported to live in the crevices, so the anchor was abandoned. After this, we sailed to Hakahaua on Ua Pou. This was a delightful harbour and a pretty village. With shallow draft we were able to tuck in behind the breakwater for maximum shelter. Temporary restaurants were erected around the quayside for the holiday. Most nights for a whole week, we had exhibition dancing of the traditional style. The girls had two particular styles of dancing. One was a graceful willowy movement of hands and body that seemed to emulate the calm swell of the ocean; the other was an incredible vibrating of the body parts, particularly the hips, to great erotic effect. Dancers would mainly be in large groups, with some solo performances. The men’s dancing was more accentuated on the warrior, and the conquest, with spears and clubs and slow heavy powerful movements, grunts and chanting to create a feeling of alarm in the watcher. The dances also often had humour. Costumes were all traditional grass skirts, flower and leaf necklaces, and were superb. We doubt if the dancing and the atmosphere could have been bettered anywhere. Before we left Ua Pou, we had a beach barbecue with all the other cruisers Jim from yacht Halo played folk on his guitar and sang. Jim had owned a record company named Halo and was a good musician and singer. He gave us a souvenir record of his star artist. Our next anchorage was Taiohae on Nuku Hiva. This was a large open bay, and the town is the capital of the Marquesas. There was still much partying going on. Yacht El Karim, owned by, Bill from Belfast, was in Taiohae. A gregarious host, Bill found a group of Polynesian musicians and singers for a party sail around the bay. Everybody Bill knew was invited. As we pulled our dinghy alongside El Karim, Brian was nearly hit by a tin can flying out of a porthole. Bill was in the galley making up his mock Irish stew from whatever he could find. We set off around the bay, drinks flowed, musicians played and sang, and the stew was served. All had a good time




Polynesian Band Plays on El Karim


Another day we organized a pleasant barbecue on the beach for our friends on yachts, El Karim, Energetic and Pangolin II. Joyce, having forgotten to bring our igloo' of fruit juice rowed back to fetch it There is always surf running on the beach at Taiohae. It requires good timing to keep the stern of the dinghy to the waves and hit the beach without getting wet. Approaching the surf line Joyce felt the surge of the wave taking over and shipped the oars thinking the wave would just sweep her onto the beach. On the shore, someone said, "Uh Hu Joyce is in for a tumble". As everybody looked the little dinghy turned sideways on the wave and then rolled over, spilling Joyce, the cooler, the oars and Brian’s flip flops into the surf and tumbling the dinghy over Joyce. All hands rushed down the beach to the rescue, Joyce was OK except for being soaked to the skin. Everything else was rescued from the surf, except one of Brian’s flip-flops. This was found on the beach at low tide the next day.


Tropical Blight

Even a slight cut or abrasion of the skin can turn very nasty, very quickly, in these latitudes. Brian is allergic to diesel fuel and must not get it onto his arms, legs, or body. Areas affected by fuel tend to develop a rash, became very itchy, then dry, and go scaly before it clears up. It usually means several days of mild discomfort At Ua Pou we shared a 50-gall drum of fuel with another boat. Siphoning fuel from the drum into smaller containers, Brian spilt fuel on his leg. Instead of the rash drying as usual, it festered and the leg became a mass of large open sores to the extent that it became painful to walk. Joyce had a problem with insect bites. These usually develop tiny septic heads, dry, then clear up in a few days, but this time Joyce’s bites developed large red lumps that went septic and became large open sores. A visit to the hospital, antibiotics, and painting with an iridescent red solution was necessary to start the healing process. Medical attention and medicines was free of charge in French Polynesia. We could no longer land on the beach and had a long row to the town quay so that we could get ashore without getting wet. Hardly any boats escaped being affected by cuts and sores that would not heal; some cases were quite serious when the problem was left without medical attention.


Water, water everywhere.

In the Marquesas we had frequent rain but never sufficient to provide water for our tanks. Town water at Taiohae had suspended sediment in it. We can disinfect the water using plain household bleach, but sediment in the tank is difficult to clean out. We heard clean water was available at Daniels Bay, only a few miles along the coast. We seemed to find Daniel, the resident owner of the land around the bay on a bad day. His water pipe was broken and would be repaired in a few days when he had time. He seemed to resent that we should come to him for water, he was only one person and there was water at the town. I would have offered to help with the repairs but it sounded like he had too many callers and was trying to discourage them. We talked for a while, exchanging pleasantries and left Daniel on his own again. Next day we motored 30 miles back to Ua Pou, where we knew we could get good clean water from the town wharf.


Takaroa Atoll

Between the Marquesas and the Society Islands are the Tuamotus. Their remote location is why the French used the Southern atolls for their nuclear testing program. They are low lying, closely spaced, without lights, surrounded by reefs, and subject to unpredictable currents. The weather can produce poor visibility and rough seas in the passages. Pilot books mention many shipwrecks and advise the navigator to go North of the Tuamotus rather than use the passages between them. A few yachts always visited them. But now that most yachts have GPS, some have radar, and good weather forecasting is available, they are visited by many more. We visited Takaroa that is about 15 mile long and 3 miles wide. It is an atoll with only a narrow strip of land encircling a large lagoon. Yellow beaches, with coral and swaying coconut palms complete the pictures. The entrance pass is a long channel. At times currents are very strong, 8 knots or mores. We have to go through the pass at a state of tide when the current is slack, and conditions were favourable when we arrived. At the end of the channel, friends came out in their dinghy to guide us around some nasty coral heads. The village and the copra boat wharf were at the outer entrance to the channel. This was a risky expedition in our dinghy now we had no outboard motor, so we were grateful when yacht Lucksall offered to take us to the village in their dinghy. We passed apprehensively through the inner gap of the pass, where strong swirls and overfalls made steering an adventure, and then swept down the channel to the dock. The village was sleepy, with small single story houses of concrete blocks, simply furnished. No one lives in traditional Polynesian huts now, except the tourists in the resorts. We were offered handicrafts and black pearls but did not buy. Pearls grew naturally years ago and were collected by deep-water skin divers, hut the oysters almost disappeared due to over collection. So commercial cultivating was started. You can see frames set up for pearl cultivation sprinkled throughout the lagoon. The next few days the wind blew hard and we could not go anywhere. Early morning Brian saw our dinghy bumping across the reef towards the Channel. The strong wind and waves had frayed the painter. Swimming and walking over the reef to the dinghy was considered, but it looked like the dinghy was nearly over the reef. Swimming the main channel was a no go, due to sharks, and strong currents. We needed the help of a high-speed dinghy. We gave several blasts on a foghorn to get the other boats on VHF. Energetic offered to use their dinghy, and we sped tip the lagoon, through the inner entrance, and down the channel. Our dinghy was nowhere to be seen, until a local fishing boat passed us with the dinghy on deck. The fisherman launched it and we tied a rope to it for a tow back to Tusk. We later found the fisherman in the village and gave him a bag of goodies from our stores as a reward. When we left, we had difficulty unravelling our chain from the coral heads and snorkelled to guide the chain free. We were then later than planned, and the current in the entrance was very strong. We had the engine full ahead in order to creep slowly through the inner entrance until we reached the moderate flow of the channel. We then sailed for Tahiti, that legendary paradise.


Yachties in Bondage.

Years ago French Polynesia was invaded by hippies and flower people, and was left with the cost of feeding and repatriating them when they ran out of money. So, it became conditional that visitors must have a return ticket to their home, or a bond with a local bank, equivalent to the fare. For us, this would be at least 1500 pounds. At Atuona in Hiva Oa they said they did not deal with bonds, we would have to go to Taiohae on Nuku Hiva. At Taiohae we offered to lodge the bond by Mastercard, but the bank computer had broken down, so they gave us four weeks to get to Tahiti to pay our bond. We took five weeks to get to Tahiti, but this was no problem. At Tahiti we said we were not staying much longer in French Polynesia, and did not want to provide the bond. They said that was OK but we could not cruise the outer islands, and would have to leave. We asked for a week at Tahiti and this was granted. After a week we cleared and were given another three days to leave Polynesian waters. We used that time to visit Cooks Bay in Moorea. The bond is refundable when the yacht leaves but some yachts lost money on currency conversion and were inconvenienced by the logistics of getting the bond refunded. We were fortunate to avoid this problem.



Papeete harbour in Tahiti is one of the famous crossroads of the cruising word. We had an image built up from ancient tales of beautiful girls of romantic nature, sandy beaches with waving palms, of easy life and simple pleasures. We expected it to be different from anywhere else. We knew it would be a bit developed from the old romantic picture described above. After all, we had heard it was a good place to stock up and get repairs done, It was rumoured most things needed for a boat were available. We did have a few problems with our equipment that needed attention, but we were disappointed with Papeete. It was a modern noisy city with more than its share of carbon monoxide, poorly equipped to service the cruising fraternity, and very expensive in every respect. We anchored in what was labelled the low rent district' by the cruisers. We had an anchor out and were tied stern to a tree. We used the dinghy to get ashore and there was a water tap nearby. But it was nice enough. Nearer to the town center it was possible to get expensive berths with easier access to the shore and electricity. A drink in a bar was so expensive we only indulged that pleasure once. Restaurants were so expensive we postponed Joyce’s birthday celebration until we got to the Cook Islands, and we never had an evening meal out in Papeete. The few chandlery shops were poorly stocked with overpriced goods, and repair services we needed were non-existent (agency changing hands, technician on holiday). We did enjoy using the buses to visit the Museum of Tahiti and the Grotto Of Maraa, and would have done more travelling if we had more time. We took our drowned outboard to the Yamaha agent but it was condemned as requiring too many parts for economical repair. Being tired of rowing, we bought a new duty free Mariner outboard that was difficult to start and seized up before we even got to New Zealand. We spent a day window-shopping around the city and concluded there was nothing worthy of note except the high prices. We felt Tahiti seemed to have a standard of living much higher than justified by the effort they put into things. We suspected the economy is bolstered by revenues from France, and maybe the EEC, to soften any opposition to nuclear testing.


The Cooks At Cooks Bay.

We nearly did not visit Cooks Bay Moorea. It was the three days extra the Papeete officials gave us on the clearance papers that gave us the opportunity. We do not know of any direct family connection between the famous explorer and our own family, but having the same family name does arouse a more than usual interest for us in the places he visited all those years ago. You go through a. gap in the reef surrounding Moorea, and enter a deep bay that gives excellent protection. At the end of the bay is a village, with a handy little supermarket. Several resorts are located on the shore, and a catholic church. Volcanic peaks rise steeply behind the anchorage and are covered with palm trees and cultivated plots. There were large fields of ripening pineapples and many other fruits and vegetables. Although the interior of the island consists of steep slopes, the coast road was mostly flat, and ideal for bicycling. On the spur of the moment, we hired bicycles instead of getting our old Bickertons' out of storage. Then had some leisurely exercise, peddling first to the main ferry dock on the east side of the island, and then back around the north coast to Oponohu bay. We took our own picnic of food bought at the supermarket, and bought cold drinks when we needed them. Had we started earlier, with a proper plan we could have cycled all round the perimeter of the island. Another day we took a walk inland, up the steep slopes, to lookout point, which provides inspiring views of Cooks Bay and Oponohu bay, and the forested interior of the island. On the way up is the site of some of the best-preserved ancient Polynesian structures The Polynesians built mainly of wood and leaf so there is no trace left of most of their buildings. Only structures like the royal tombs, and archery platforms built out of quarried rock and coral still remain. There were several boutiques around the coast road and Joyce found several clothing items of fashionable design that she could not do without. The prices seemed fair, but when they were worn they proved to be poor value. The material wore through quickly and the colours changed when they were washed. We cou1d easily have spent more time at Moorea, but our three days were up and we had to honour our commitment to leave.


Cooks Arrive At The Cook Islands

The sail from Moorea to Rarotonga was uneventful, with strong winds at first, and steadily moderating as the days went by. We motored into Avatiu Harbour in a flat calm. The harbour is small, and crowded with yachts. Rarotonga is such a delightful place, that most boats stayed quite a while, and that added to the congestion. Across most of the Pacific we had listened to weather information given by Arnold, on Marine and Ham radio. Arnold is a Kiwi, retired in Rarotonga. He is an ex-professional radio operator and enjoys helping yachts by collecting weather information, and giving weather forecasts for the Pacific area. If the forecast for your position is not clear to you, Arnold will give you a personal synopsis for your area. His dedication, and the value of his effort has been recognised recently, and he received a Queens award. We were able to meet him at Rarotonga, he was holding mail for us, and brought it down to the dock with mail for other boats. The people of Rarotonga were very welcoming and the prices were reasonable, especially compared with French Polynesia. We celebrated Joyce’s Birthday more than a month late by dining at Trader Jacks. There was a vegetable market, supermarkets, and interesting little shops along the waterfront. A bus service ran around the coast road. You can get a ticket that allows you to get on and off anywhere. We used this bus to have a ride around the island and to visit tourist sites such as the Historic Departure Point of Canoes for New Zealand and various beach resorts. Our most interesting excursion was the 'cross island walk'. Visitors should a take a local guide, But we found a publication about the walk giving a map, and describing the agriculture, native plants and trees, aquatic species, birds and lizards, that one might see along the trail. We took a picnic. The trail was sometimes easy, sometimes a scramble, occasionally difficult to follow but very interesting. One section in particular is through pristine native forest. The route passes close by Te Rua-Manga, a pinnacle rock with an outcrop bearing resemblance to a human head and face. It was at the rock that we met one of the official guides. He seemed to provide quite a bit of entertainment and local lore for his small group. We did loose the track once, but it must have been a common mistake because just when we knew we were lost, a simple signpost on a tree gave us the direction to the correct path. We finished the walk in six hours, and got a bus back to Avatiu. The harbour is open to the North, and rather uncomfortable when-a cold front goes through and causes the wind to blow from the North. Three nights during our stay we kept anchor watch because of these fronts. The first night, we knew the front was due and were surprised when people on the boat near us went ashore just after dark. We were staying aboard as a precaution. The wind shifted and strengthened as predicted. Our anchor and ropes held, but we could feel the strain as the swell built up. The anchor of the boat next to us dragged, in less than a minute it was pushing onto the little local fishing boats moored at the edge of the harbour. It appeared to have stabilized, and was too large for us to do anything, so we kept watch on the situation and awaited the owners return. It started to rain heavily and the wind was blowing strongly by the time the owner returned with friends that had dinner together in town. Soon the owner was on board and the engine started, but he got a rope around the prop trying to motor out of his predicament. Soon six dinghies were milling around trying to pull him off the moorings. Two local fishing boats joined the melee. Mooring ropes around the prop and the keel were cut to free the yacht. This caused the little local boats to be bounced against the rocky harbour edge. The local owners of the fishing boats took charge and eventually the yacht was dragged free of the moorings and he was able to motor out to the commercial quay, and tied up there. During this we stood by on Tusk because if things got out of control the yacht would drift down on us. We were ready with ropes and fenders to raft it up to us. A few yachties helped the fishermen make good the cut mooring ropes to re-secure the local boats. But there was now cold driving rain, and soon only the fishermen were left. They did not finish until well after midnight. We stayed secure, but one of the fishermen came out to us and said we would be safer over by the commercial quay. We knew yachts tied to the quay had been damaged due to the buffeting they received from the swell, and we suspected that the fishermen just wanted us out of the way in case of a repetition of the dragging. We felt we were quite secure and it was unnecessary, so we told them there was no likelihood us dragging, and we would stay where we were. About 1 am, we were still on anchor watch and realised we were swinging towards the harbour edge. The stern anchor, which had been fixed securely in a crevice on the shallow reef by the shore, was slack. We started the engine, dropped the stern anchor rode, and motored out to swing on our bow anchor, which was in the middle of the harbour, but not without scraping along ragged sheet piling, and getting scratches in our hull. Rowing ashore to recover the anchor, Brian found it lying on its back on top of the coral. It could not have got into that position without some help, and we think the fishermen released the anchor to encourage us to move; they were nowhere to be seen now. We lay the night in the middle of the harbour and made ourselves secure to the harbour edge again next morning. During the passage of another front we had a 'microburst'. This is a powerful down draft of air rather than the usual horizontal flow. They are dangerous to aircraft and have been the cause of crashes. This one lasted about 20 or 30 seconds and pushed the anchored boats in all directions and caused most to heel over at alarming angles, with winds of over 60 knots recorded. We had another front the night before we left. Arnold was updating yachts the progress of the front over the VHF. Radio. It did not seem to be as severe as the previous fronts so we decided to turn in for the night, but left the radio on. We were woken just after dawn by a call of “mayday-mayday-mayday”. It was a fisherman the other side of the island whose boat had been swamped by a wave and was sinking There were no local people on the VHF so a yacht took over the call and got details of the mans position. This was difficult, because the fisherman’s English was poor. Several fast motorboats were mobilised and set off to the area for a search, it was about 6 miles away. The boat was found in about an hour, one of the men drowned and the other was saved A week before there had been a safety at sea seminar for the local fishermen. This fisherman had not attended and did not have lifejackets aboard. We left Rarotonga later that day feeling rather sad and subdued.



We had light W and NW winds on passage to Aitutaki We motor sailed, in a moderate swell for two days. The pass at Aitutaki is narrow and has a strong current except a slack water. It is also shallow with 2m depths at high tide. Deep draught boats cannot use the lagoon. We arrived half way between low and high water. We could see the water in the entrance to the pass bubbling and swirling as it was being sucked into the lagoon. We anchored outside the pass to await high tide and calmer conditions. An inter island cargo boat was anchored off the pass and off-loading cargo onto shallow draft barges, which were ferrying the goods to the quay. An hour before high tide we could see the entrance was calmer. So we checked there was no barge traffic and started down the channel. Half way we saw a barge leaving the town dock. We had doubts that there was room for both of us in the channel at the same time. As we got closer we edged to the side of the-channel to give the barge room and ran aground on a bank of hard sand. Our shallow keel is handy for keeping out of trouble until we actually do hit, then our long wide center keel and the bilge keels make us stick to the bottom like superglue. We tried the engine full astern but to no effect. Next procedure is to look for a tow, but the barge was speeding up the channel without so much as a glance at us. Next option is to kedge off. We were launching the dinghy when a local fishing boat came up the channel and offered help. A pull with his powerful engine got us off the sand in moments He told us that he saw the incident and that the barge should not have left the dock whilst we were in the channel. Most of the rest of our stay was more relaxing. We had sundowners and a barbecue with other yachts at the fisherman’s club; we went walking, and attended an island dance night at the hotel, and went to church and listened to the wonderful singing. When we were due to leave, we were nearly blown up. There was a deafening bang, clouds of smoke and dust, concrete and rock showering down on the village and yachts. A builder was blasting away a block of concrete to improve the harbour, used too much explosive, and gave no warning of the event. Even the villagers were shocked, and the contractor was in much trouble.


Palmerston Atoll

Palmerston Island is one of those special places that are very rare nowadays. It is an atoll about 200 miles WNW of Aitutaki and measures 7 miles by 5 miles. Most of this area is lagoon, surrounded by reef. There are four or five significant Islands about a half-mile across, and maybe 30 small islands and rocks. There is a boat passage into the lagoon but it is only suitable for shallow draft boats, at slack tide, with the help of a local pilot. Yachts normally anchor on the reef ledge on the leeward side of the main island. This anchorage is only safe for easterly winds, and an anchor watch should be kept if a yacht stays there. Our pilot book (Charlie’s Charts of Polynesia) told us the islander’s are descendants of William Marsters, a Lancashireman who settled the island with 3 wives. He fathered 26 children and his descendants still live on and control the island, and are also scattered among the other Cook lslands, New Zealand and the rest of the world. Whilst at Rarotonga we heard cruisers on the radio giving a strong recommendation for a stop at Palmerston, and that a special welcome would be assured to visitors. The island trading vessels only visit when there is sufficient cargo to make it economic. So yachts are often asked if they can carry fresh produce or items in short supply on the island. We took a message that videotape was required to complete a video film of the building of a new church. We were able to supply a new VHS tape from our supplies and give it to a yacht leaving for Palmerston before us. When it came to our turn we received an order of three gross of eggs, a stalk of bananas, sack of oranges, and watermelons. We thought the eggs represented a great risk, because of possible breakage or loss due to delays getting there (we were stopping at Aitutaki on the way). They were also expensive, so we took the fruit but only 1 gross of eggs. At Aitutaki, we passed the eggs on to yacht Moonshaddow, who were leaving for Palmerston before us. When we left Aitutaki we had a good trade wind all the way. On Saturday night, friends anchored at Palmerston told us that we had been invited with the rest of the visitors to church on Sunday morning, and to lunch at Bill Masters house afterwards. We calculated we could be there just in time if conditions stayed favourable. In fact the wind strengthened and we reduced sail during the night to maintain more comfortable ride. By daylight we were a few miles short of the position we needed to be sure of arriving on time, so we set a full mainsail and genoa again, in the rather strong trade winds. When we sighted the atoll we had to change course onto a dead run in order to keep a safe distance away from the spectacular foaming reef. We had a boom preventer on, but when a large wave rolled the stern off to one side, we gybed with a bang and pulled a teak cleat off the deck. Appointment or not we had to put two reefs in the mainsail to make sure the same thing would not happen again, and we slowed down about a knot. By this time we were in contact with Palmerston on VHF radio, and unknown to us the service at the church was delayed for our arrival. As we came around the southern corner of the reef and into the lee of the main island we found a local open fishing boat waiting to show us exactly where to drop our anchor, and to ferry us through the reef as soon as we had cleaned up and changed. The entrance through the reef was another of those swirling caldrons requiring quick and skilful boatmanship. We then carefully picked our way through the reef strewn channel to the sandy beach, we were glad of the local boat to bring us in. 0n shore we were greeted by a few of the Marsters family, and several cruising friends who had arrived the days before us. We were guided up the beach towards the village and we started learning the names of our new friends. The Reverend Bill Marsters seemed to be the present patriarch of the island; Young Bill and Goodly were professional fishermen; David was the voice we had talked to on the VHF. There was a new church under construction, a floor, and roof frames in place, exuding the aroma of fresh cut timber. We collected outside the old church, which was quite a fascinating building. It was built out of old ships timbers Many of them a foot or so square, black and full of drying cracks, but immensely strong. The Reverend Bill Marsters told us it was the first house built on the island by William Marsters, and that he personally had sheltered in the building when the island had been swept by cyclone tidal waves on three occasions in past years. Inside there were simple wood pews and access to the pulpit was by means of a boats companionway.




The Church on Palmerston.


After the simple service we all filed back into the intensely bright sunlight and were guided towards the house. But not before having a dash to the beach to make sure Tusk, and the other boats, Pollen Path, Lucks All, Moonshaddow and Cream, were still tenaciously clinging to the reef ledge in the reinforced trade winds. None of our boats had an anchor watch, we were all in contravention to the advice given in the pilot book, and we were all firm friends by now. What was laid out on the table was not just lunch, but a feast of dozens of dishes of all variety of tropical vegetables, fruits, meat, chicken and seafood. It is a disconcerting Polynesian custom that the host does not eat with the guest. Although the Marsters family do not seem to stick as rigidly to this as some families, the cruisers were encouraged to sit and eat before our hosts sat down for their food. The food was laid out on a long wooden table with chairs all around, and thatch shade overhead, and iced fruit juices were poured out. Young girls waved palm leaves over the table to keep flies away. The breeze hissed through the palm tops, the sea glistened through the gaps between the tree trunks, and it was just a magic experience. Each day we stayed at Palmerston we were invited to eat with the family and we learned as much as we could about life on the island. There were about 50 people resident at the time, and they all lived on the same island. Young Bill Marsters seemed to be the 'live wire'. He worked for the Cook Islands fisheries department as a Fisheries Manager, and was keeper of the keys of the Government Bonded Liquor store, and had his own fish processing business supplying local fish packed and frozen to Rarotonga and beyond. Goodly Marsters is also involved with this business. David Marsters is the Government doctor. We learned that the VHF radio had been donated anonymously by a -passing yacht that must have experienced the same welcome as ourselves. We did not meet everybody but there is a HF radio operator, and an. Agriculture and Fisheries Officer, a professional long line fisherman who usually worked in New Zealand, but returned for a vacation. Finally, yet importantly there were the wives, children and dependants. We had a lazy social few days, watching carving of wooden bowls, playing darts, and talking about yachts, cruising and island problems. We explored the island and looked at the small-scale agriculture. Some yachts did laundry in the Marsters washing machine, and young Bill showed us his fish processing plant and generator house. In an attempt to reciprocate the hospitality, the yachts got together to produce an international feast for our hosts and managed to load the table with pizzas and pies, quiche and casserole, fish and rice, pasta, pumpkin pies and other items. Since most of these were drawn from the long-term stores of the yachts, it was a good effort, and did give our hosts a table of food different to their normal fare. We bought a case of Cooks beer (the nearest beer to English 'real ale' we have ever tasted out of a bottle) and finally bid farewell. There were vague promises of returning someday, although we all knew it would be many a year before any of us would have the chance again. For all of us it was a struggle to raise our anchor, and not just metaphorically, the chains had wrapped around the coral heads. But one by one, we got untangled and set off in the reinforced trade winds of the vast South Pacific Ocean, leaving the island to the islanders.


Kingdom of Tonga

Our passage from Palmerston to Tonga was often dull and overcast After leaving Palmerston, friends on yacht Pollenpath passed close by and took photos of Tusk sailing in the reinforced trade winds We were presented with the negatives some months later and we treasure them, photos of Tusk under sail are rare. The first night out Joyce spotted a green flare. These are used by the military and are not distress flares, so we took no action. The weather forecast mentioned a tropical depression developing North of Fiji. The usual track would cross our path but thankfully, it did not develop. It seemed that we would arrive at Tonga on Halloween, our wedding anniversary, so we asked on one of the ham radio nets if there was a Halloween party planned at Nuku'alofa. There was no response so we assumed we would have to make our own arrangements. Approaching Tonga we had rain, and visibility was poor. We used the Piha Passage to get through the reef, this is a funnel shaped passage that narrows, and has two kinks at the narrow part. As we approached the first kink, we had a squall, which wiped out our visibility for several minutes. We proceeded very slowly until it cleared. We got through the pass without any further drama and anchored stern to the harbour wall at Nuku’alofa. Shortly a dinghy came along side to tell us that a fancy dress Halloween party was being arranged at the Waterfront restaurant Come in costume and contribute a prize for the festivities and games. The party had been arranged at the last minute because most boats had been waiting for weather to leave e for New Zealand, and did not know if they would still be there. It was a great success. There was a modest barbecue, really well made and imaginative costumes and pumpkins with all sorts of ghoulish features and many candles. The harbour is a mile or so from the town center and we enjoyed buying food at the vegetable market, seeing a film at the decrepit old cinema, and visiting the British Consulate to read the British newspapers. We intended to visit Tonga again after the cyclone season so we spent most of our time cleaning up Tusk, now looking worn by our long voyages. We also did what maintenance and repairs we could to make Tusk fit and ready for the trip to New Zealand.


The Long White Cloud

The stretch of water from Tonga to New Zealand has a reputation for giving yachts a rough passage. We had been listening on the radio to yachts that left the weeks before us, and the weather had been living up to its reputation providing gales and difficult headwinds. A big high-pressure system spread out from central Australia before we left. Conditions looked good, but we had more ore than 1000 Nm to go and it is impossible to predict we what changes there might be after a few days. We motored our way between large patches of coral and through the Egeria channel to the open sea. Then set sail in a nice breeze, fine clear weather, and later a bright starlit night. Over the next three days the wind steadily became lighter as the high pressure area spread out and stabilised and we went slower and slower. We had a day’s run of only 27 Km but were reluctant to use our engine because we wanted to save fuel for the approach to New Zealand, when conditions might be more difficult. On the fourth day, we had only 2 knots of wind, adverse current was pushing us in a North Easterly direction, and the GPS indicated we were going backwards towards Tonga. So we motored into North Minerva reef. This is a 3Nm diameter reef having an entrance about 1 cable wide, and a lagoon with depths up to 16 fathoms. It used to be a ships graveyard before the advent of GPS. Now with satellite navigation it is a regular stopping place for yachts. It is effectively in the middle of the Ocean. At high tide the reef is fully covered and you can anchor safely with no land in sight at all. There were five or six other yachts anchored there waiting for the wind and preparing a feast for the US thanksgiving. We contributed plum pudding and custard, and a good party was had by all. We got some wind after two days and left with all the other boats to continue towards NZ. We sailed the rest of the way in mainly light variable winds and were spared the gale that is usually assured on this trip. We sighted the long white cloud of New Zealand and motored in fine weather down the coast to Waitemata Harbour and the Auckland docks. We arrived at 4am and anchored to get some sleep before, we had to meet the customs and immigration and the dreaded MAF (Ministry of Agriculture and fisheries).


Kiwi Welcome

We were woken at 7:30am by a ships horn, so near it implied imminent disaster. Brian jumped out of bed without putting on any clothes and stretched out of the hatch to see what was going on. There was an official launch with a man on the bow. He shouted over 'welcome to Auckland, you must be at the Admiralty steps by 8:3O for clearance'. Brian, Still befuddled- by lack of sleep replies 'But 1 didn't get any sleep last night, we were going to sleep in till about 10 or 11 and then check in'. 'No" said the man, you must be at the steps by 8:30, there is only one ship and Tusk to do, then the officials finish for the day (it was Sunday). The man then offered a plastic carrier bag and said ‘Can you take this? Brian reached out as far as modesty would allow, just managed to reach the bag, and the launch backed away. When we looked in the bag we realised whom the man was. It was Patricia's harbour pilot husband, who we knew as Brian, but had not met before. Patricia was a friend since our Red Sea Sailing Association days in Saudi Arabia. The bag contained fresh bread, butter, milk, fresh strawberries, a newspaper and our mail. We breakfasted on the goodies and started opening our mail. In no time we were overdue at the Admiralty steps. The steps were not marked on our chart but fortunately we had a road map and were able to follow this to find our way along the docks to steps. Patricia, Brian and daughter Angie were there to take out lines and help us tie up, and then we had a reunion. Customs and -immigration did not take long but the MAF involved a: lot of form filling and an inspection of our remaining food. NZ have strict regulations regards the importation of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and loose bulk foods such as flour, which might have bugs in it. Tinned food may be removed if it is from countries that do no maintain the highest standards. Handicrafts made of natural materials may be fumigated. Ships garbage must no be disposed of but must be saved and handed to the MAF official who will take it away and destroy it. This is all to protect the food and agriculture industry from imported pests and diseases. We were well briefed on the requirements, and had planned our stores accordingly. We only had garbage and some popcorn removed by the MAF. When the officials finished, Brian came aboard and guided Tusk to a berth at Westhaven, just a short walk from the city. We knew we were going t enjoy N.Z. very much.


Summary Of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To:                 Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/knots

14/17 May       (At Taboga Island, Panama)

17May/4Jun    Ayora, Galapagos      1245   429     57       Var/0 22        Good; fishing, bad weather

8Jun/8Jul         Atuona, Hiva Oa       2959   715      36      S-E-NE/4-19 Mostly trade winds

11Jul               Hakahau, Ua Pou          70     23        6      E/6 15            Fine comfortable sail

22Jul               Taiohae, Nuku Hiva      31       7        4      Var-E/4-15    Fine sunny sail

31Jul               Hakatea, Nuku Hiva        7       2        2      None              Flat calm motoring

1Aug               Hakahau, Ua Pou          28       7        7      E-SE/10-14    Motor sailing, headwinds

3/8Aug            Takaroa, Tuamotus      425   120       l8      NE-E/8-20     Fine sail, bit dull

12/15Aug        Papeete, Tahiti             334     79        8      E-SE/8-24      Nice sail, rough near Tahiti

23Aug             Cooks Bay, Moorea       14       4        4      SEl0/20          Rough, big swell

30Aug/7Sep    Rarotonga, Cook Isle  608   191      24      S-E-N/2-22    Variable, mostly fine

6/8Oct             Aitutaki, Cook Isle      144     44      42      W-NW/0-10  Motor sailing in light winds

14/l7Oct          Palmerston, Cook Isle 201     98        5      S-SE-E/4-22  Mostly very light winds

21/3lOct          Nuku Alofa, Tonga     697   218      29      SE-N-W/l-22 Mixed weather, dull, rainy

27Nov             Minerva Reef               261   123      38      SE-E/0-l 5      Light, adverse current -

27Nov/12Dec Auckland, NZ             908   376      58      Var/O-23       Generally light, mixed



Chapter 14


Brian at Capt Cooks Landing Place, Tongatapu

See ‘Touristing in Tongatapu’ below

Auck1and City

We arrived in Auckland on a Sunday about two weeks before Christmas. After the reunion with friends in the morning, we had the afternoon to ourselves. We were so tired we could have just slept for 12 hours, but we were on the doorstep of an enticing city. We walked towards the skyscrapers that we could see in the distance, but were soon given a lift in a car. We were left at Queens Street, the premier shopping street in Auckland city. A few shops were open and we soon found a stationers/bookshop. We had a look inside for maps and tourist guides, only to walk into a Christmas wine and cheese party for customers. This first day, the party, the elegant shops, and the snack of wedges and sour cream we had in the Pier66 bar/restaurant, firmly placed Auckland into the short list of our favourite cities. In the months that followed, we spent a lot of time in the city and travelling on the buses around the satellite suburbs and shopping centres. We never became bored or disappointed. There is hardly a flat area in Auckland, it is built on a huddle of hills, and very few sites are without a view of the sea. There is rarely that closed in feeling most cities have. Parklands and open spaces are an important part of the city, and this was never more apparent than when we did the coast-to-coast walk. This starts at the main Ferry building on Waitemata Harbour, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It takes you through downtown Auckland, then an elegant district of 19th century merchant houses, Albert Park, Auckland Domain (81 hectare reserve), Kirk Memorial Grove and Mt Eden (impressive views across the city), through quiet suburban roads to Cornwall Park, One Tree Hill, and through to Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea. Nearly half the walk is through natural feeling parkland. Auckland is built the way cities should be built.

The Tubes

Resorts using natural thermal activity to heat water for spa pools abound in NZ. Patricia took us to Waiwera Pools, One of the biggest. There are several pools varying in temperature from tepid, to hot. You start in the coolest and work up to the hottest. After relaxing our way through the pools we looked at the other facilities, a pool with a cinema, a picnic area and 'The Tubes'. This is a set of slides. You climb a tower and slide down a tube, until you shoot into the water at high speed. The highest of these tubes was a spiral called 'The Black Hole' and was only for the young and brave. We worked our way up the tubes to the one below the Black Hole, then stopped before we did ourselves damage. Next morning we could hardly move due to strained backs, but Patricia survived with no trouble. We enjoyed several outings with Patricia and her husband Brian.


Carols In The Park.

A Christmas event in Auckland that is rather special is Carols In The Park. The park is the Domain, which has an area resembling a natural amphitheatre. People start arriving early afternoon and spread out a picnic with tantalizing food and bottles of wine. There is no entry fee, but charities collect for worthy causes. We believe there were 200,000 spectators. Sideshows, refreshment kiosks, and corporate sponsors marquee surround the area. Joining in the fun, Joyce and Lucy (yacht Pangolin II) had their faces painted as clowns. The show consists of Christmas carols and songs, by local and international artists and choirs, Father Christmas arriving by parachute, and at twilight, the audience was invited to light a candle for peace. It was a moving experience to watch 100,000 Candles lit simultaneously.


Christmas And New Year

Westhaven Marina was just less than two miles from Auckland center so we were able to enjoy the Christmas festivities put on lunchtime for the office workers. We saw dance exhibitions, listened to bands and music groups, and watched street theatre and street entertainers. We roamed the department stores and admired the trees, decorations and the goods on display. This was different to the simple life of the Pacific Islands we had experienced in the past months. Christmas morning, Patricia’s husband collected us and we crossed Auckland Bridge to Birkenhead to have lunch at the house of Laura and Max. It was perched on a steep wooded slope overlooking Soldiers flay and the backwaters of Waitemata Harbour. We all enjoyed drinks, and a superb Christmas dinner buffet. Relaxing in the lounge overlooking the harbour, it was easy to see the attractions of living in Auckland. In the afternoon we returned to Brian & Patricia’s house in Devonport. Their house faces across the busy Waitemata Harbour. It is a beautiful colonial style weatherboard construction, painted white, and has been rebuilt to immaculate standards. We were offered a chance to rest before moving on to our next stop for Dinner, but we opted for a walk. We strolled the King Edward Parade seafront, across the back of North Head, and sat on Cheltenham beach watching expert wind surfers performing in gale force winds. That evening we moved on to Brian and Patricias friends house, which was very much a family affair with a gathering ranging from toddlers to grandfathers There was another fine Christmas buffet, talk, drinks and presents and we learned about the work and play of the residents of Auckland. New Years Eve was a Yachtie event. Cruisers like us in the Marina had only been there for a few weeks so choosing a venue for NY Eve was hit and miss. The Birdcage, a pub/ restaurant near the marina was putting on an Internationa1' evening and it seemed a good bet, we all agreed to book a party table. They promised many dishes of food from around the world. There was to be a change of band every hour, and dancing. Apart from the good company, it turned out to be the only bad value we experienced in NZ. The dishes of food, when they arrived, were stingy in the extreme. The Italian dish was minute pieces of pizza, one each. The American dish was a third of a sausage with barbecue sauce. There was a rather spare lamb chop for another course. The Mexican dish was a few nachos with sauce. There were so few nachos that our party counted how many we were allowed each before we started. On the other hand a local was sitting at the bar with a bowl of lamb chops to himself. Some bands did not turn up, instead there was an over the hill rock group substituting loudness for melody during what should have been the best part of the evening. We left straight after midnight, disappointed and hungry. We advise you give ‘The Birdcage’ a miss.


Shop Till You Drop

Joyce’s favourite pastime is shopping, or window-shopping. Any old shops will not do, they have to be modern, smart, trendy, and expensive, to have entertainment value. In the previous 12 months we had seen few shops meeting these criteria, but Auckland comes out fairly well. Queen Street has a special atmosphere and is the Oxford Street of Auckland. A short bus ride from the city center the suburbs provide many shopping centres of varied character and interest. If Auckland has too much of anything, it is probably shops. Takapuna could have been the favorite, but Newmarket was bursting with interest, or maybe it could have been St Luke’s 'bright as a new pin image', or the conglomerate at superstores at New Lyn, or the little East Coast Bays shopping areas by the sea or...we could go on for pages.


Opera In The Park.

This event, a few weeks after Christmas, was organized in the same way as Carols In The Park in the Auckland Domain. It was a mixed program of classic opera and modern. It was organised to appeal to the widest possible audience, which on this occasion may have amounted to almost 250,000 people. It was said to be the biggest gathering ever in New Zealand. As well as the excellent music, the show included a laser light spectacular and finished with a fantastic firework display to accompany the 1812 Overture. We went with friends and had a delightful picnic on the grassy slopes before the show began.


Whitbread round The world Race.

This race had a stopover in Auckland while we were there. The media coverage, on the TV, radio and newspapers, was incredible because New Zealand skippers and crews were in prominent positions in the race, and sport reigns king In the New Zealand news casting. A Whitbread village was set up around a basin on the Auckland waterfront before the arrival of the yachts. Since sailing vessels operate according to Murphy's Law, the leading boats were estimated to arrive at about 2am in the morning, but it seemed that half of Auckland was at the basin to welcome them. They were late due to moderating winds, and the beer in the Whitbread village flowed on, and it was about 3:3Oam by the time the leading boat, New Zealand Endeavour, arrived in the basin. The enormous crowd were ecstatic, and a lot of them were three sheets to the wind due to the extended drinking hours. In England there would have been scores of police involved in crowd control, but here there were just a few policemen managing to keep the situation just about under control. One or two people were pushed off the high dock into the water, and drunken spectators got on top of a container in front of us used by a photo processing lab and the roof collapsed onto the people working inside. We waited for the second boat to arrive, and then we walked back to Tusk and collapsed into exhausted sleep.


Jobs On Tusk.

New Zealand has a strong local market for yacht equipment, and most foreign Visiting yachts spend much of their time doing maintenance and improvements to their boats. We carried out so much work and bought so much new equipment that it is impossible to list it all, but to give you some idea we replaced 40 locker catches, an exhaust water break box; an electric pump, and piston hanks on our sails. We had repaired or did repairs ourselves on 2 tiller pilots, engine morse control, TV and video machine, watches, cameras, Satnav, oil pressure gauge, wind generator, radio transmitter auto tuner, compass. We replaced or bought new an anchor snubbing line, engine cooling water flow alarm, a terminal node connecter for digital communications, 406MHZ EPERB, chart table lamp, fresh water filter system, alternator regulator, rings on spinnaker pole, Walker trailing log, toilet pump, sail bag for trysail, a topside spray paint job, and bottom paint, and scores of smaller items. We spent 6400 pounds sterling on parts and services.


Kitty O’Brian’s

One of the few good pubs we found in New Zealand was close to Westhaven. It was Kitty O’Brien’s, an Irish pub. The first time we went there, there was a group called Twisty Willow playing. The whole place was packed and throbbing with Irish music, dancing, and singing. It was better than anything we have seen in our brief visits to Ireland in recent years.Even on a quiet night there were  usually be a few amateur musicians playing the fiddle, the pipes and various improvised percussion instruments or singing Irish folk songs. We spent several evenings listening to these Kiwis who mostly had never been to Ireland, and were rarely disappointed with the entertainment.


A Family Wedding.

Brian has a cousin in Auckland, Christine, the daughter of his mother’s sister. They were good friends and played together as children at family gatherings in London, but lost contact when Christine married and emigrated to New Zealand with her husband Peter more than 20 years ago. We were so busy after our arrival in New Zealand, in the Pre Christmas period; we did not announce our arrival to Christine and Peter until January. We found the family were in the throws of planning the wedding of Christopher, their eldest son to Lynnette. -We were thrilled to be added to the list of wedding guests at such short notice. The wedding was quite delightful and although we were told the arrangements were typical of a New Zealand wedding, it was a unique experience for us, different to any wedding we had attended before. The actual wedding ceremony was held in the open-air grounds of a sugar factory on the North side of Waitemata Harbour. It was quite lovely, with a lake, ducks and birds, well kept lawns, fresh looking flowering trees and shrubs, and an impressive view across the harbour. The sun shone, the temperature was perfect and white fluffy clouds drifted across the shy. The beautiful bride arrived in a limousine and was escorted by equally beautiful bridesmaids to the waiting groom. A church minister took the wedding vows, prayers were said, the register signed and witnessed. Rose petals were thrown as confetti, and photographs were taken. Guests eventually drifted off to their cars and we were offered a lift to the reception at a nearby motel/restaurant We had an excellent buffet dinner, drinks, speeches, opening of presents, dancing and doctoring of the honeymoon getaway car. We made several friendships as we meet the other guests, which later resulted in social contacts that we would not otherwise have had. It was a fine and memorable day for us, and we wish Christopher and Lynnette a long and happy marriage.


Auckland, The Outdoor City.

One aspect of New Zealand life that Christine and Peter enjoy the most is the fine climate and the opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors. Quite a few areas of special scenic beauty around Auckland are maintained as Regional Parks. These are mostly area's of dense wild natural bush and forest with pathways ranging from wide compacted routes suitable for the very old and the very young or the city stroller, to narrow muddy scramble paths suitable only for the properly geared up and fittest walkers; and climbers. The parks are just a few hours drive from Auckland, and most are provided with campsites so they can provide a popular and inexpensive weekend break for the city dwellers. As well as these regional parks there are many privately owned campsites tucked away in remote and beautiful areas, particularly on the coast. We had quite a few weekend days out with Christine and Peter being shown some of their favorite areas, doing short walks in the parks, and taking in some of the glorious views. On one lovely day we stopped at an old farmhouse and enjoyed a Devonshire cream tea, all this on the opposite side of the world to Devonshire.


Visit to the UK

When we arrived in New Zealand one thing that was uppermost in our minds was to arrange a visit home to the UK. We used to manage a trip home each year but since we are now on the opposite side of the world the cost of going home is prohibitive. Our trips home are less frequent and we combine it with a haul out to do any major works on Tusk, so that Tusk is safely ashore while we are away. In choosing a ticket, we could not find much difference in price between the various airlines, but there was some add on perks that were very attractive. We could have had 3 days in a hotel in Singapore, but we chose the more practical 2 weeks free car hire in the UK. We hauled out Tusk near the end of February at Gulf Harbour Marina, about an hours drive north of Auckland, and were in the UK for all of March. We spent 10 days with Brian’s parents in New Milton. Then w drove north to visit Roy in Newport, an amateur radio friend who had kept contact with us across most of the Pacific. We dined in the local pub and stayed with Roy overnight. Then, we visited the Ibbotson family at Wirral, Merseyside, and cruising friends from our Cyprus days. We had dinner and stayed overnight. Then we left the car at Manchester Airport, and flew to Belfast and had two or three weeks with Joyce’s family. The time we had at home seemed all too short and we would have liked more time to look up more of  our old friends.


Four Wheeled Backpackers.

Friends on yacht Etoile Polaire wanted someone to drive their car from Auckland to Bay of islands, while they sailed their boat there. They were visiting a few anchorages on the way and offered the loan of the car for five days. We were delighted at this offer and buried our heads in maps and brochures to maximize our opportunity. We wanted to see as many tourist spots as we could, and visit marinas to see where we could haul out Tusk. The first day, we were away early, South through Auckland and onto the motorway. Hamilton was 130Km from Auckland and we found this city sufficiently fascinating to do a circular tour in the car. It was an attractive place on a grand river and had many Irish street names. The Waitomo caves were the first tourist hotspot we were heading for, about 80Km South of Hamilton. You are guided on foot through the first part of the limestone caves and observe formations of stalactites and stalagmites. At the end of the walk, you board a small punt and enter a very dark area of flooded subterranean cave, and the ceiling is studded with the lights of a million glowworms, a truly spectacular sight. After this we continued our drive to Rotorua, some 140Km. We arrived about 5pm and found agreeable accommodation in a backpackers hostel called Kiwi Paka. We were fascinated by the steam and sulphur belching out of drains and holes in the ground around the town. Next morning we drove to the Waimangu Thermal Park, 20Km out of Rotorua. This park is not much visited by tourist coaches because it is out of the way and involves a lot of walking. But we rate it as the most enjoyable thermal park we have visited. At the entrance there was a teashop, we had some refreshments and then set off along the path. Serious volcanic activity took place as recently as 100 years ago, and there have been isolated large eruptions since, and much activity is apparent today. The guide sheet given does stress that it is a dangerous area and you should not leave the paths. You see an impressive volcanic panorama, emerald coloured pools, steaming lakes, various volcanic deposits; craters, bubbling mud, silica terraces, hot streams with blue green algae, hot vents, petrified trees; and finish the 1 hour walk with nature trail along the edge of Lake Rotomahana. We did a Boat Cruise on the lake that was the site of the Pink Terrace and the White Terrace, renowned as one of the natural wonders of the world but they were destroyed in an eruption in 1886. Now there is little of interest at the lake except the boat ride. Next we drove about 100km through pine forests to Tauranga to see the Yacht Marina. Then we pressed on towards the Coromandel Peninsula. It was getting late after making a few detours off the main road to inspect the beaches so we decided to stop in Waihi, an old gold mining town. We stayed in the Golden Cross Hotel, a hostelry that had seen better days and is now the local pub and backpackers lodge. Next morning we reached Thames, the Southern end of the Coromandel. We looked around the town, the visitor’s center; had morning tea, then set off to circumnavigate the Coromandel, a distance of some 200Km. At an easy pace, we went up the West side of the peninsula. The further north we travelled the more spectacular became the scenery. We stretched our legs at the little town of Coromandel itself, and then headed over the hills to the east coast. Although it was marked on our map as a provincial highway, this was an unsealed road, often slippery with dust and lose stone, with tight hairpin bends, sheer drops, landslides, and temporary diversions. We thought we must be on the wrong road at first, and it was very slow going until we reached the sealed road on the East coast The East coast is exposed to the prevailing winds of the Southern Ocean so it is rugged, and indented with bays and estuaries. We stopped to admire the views many times. Arriving back at Thames after the shops had closed, we had fish n chips at a cafe. Mindful of the fact we had to be in Bay of Islands in two days, we drove 120Km to Auckland and slept the night on Tusk. Next day we headed North again, diverting to look at boatyards and marinas on the way. We reached Whangarei about 175Km from Auckland by afternoon. This is a major encampment area for foreign yachts, so we met cruising friends at the town marina. We stayed in backpacker’s accommodation, a delightful converted house, and had dinner in nice motel next door. On our final day we had a leisurely drive 70Km to Opua. This road was not so pretty but the Bay of Islands area was lovely. We checked the buses to Auckland and were offered a 'special fare' for that evening. Friends that lent us the car were not yet in Opua. We left the car with a mutual friend and were back in Auckland by midnight.


Stormy Weather.

The last wave of yachts, many of them in the Royal Sunset Auckland/Tonga Rally, left New Zealand for ports in the warmer climes of Tonga and Fiji on or about Saturday 28 May. Our friends were amongst these boats, and we were again feeling like the tail end Charlie, never ready on time. A large high had established itself, and it looked like we were missing the best weather window of the year. We were still onshore, and it had not been possible to get a berth in the water until the rally boats sailed for Tonga. On the Monday there were berths available and we were lifted into the water. We still had a week or more of work to do before we would be ready to leave, so we consoled ourselves with the thought that we would still be in Auckland for the Annual float Show next week. We beavered away all week, and by next Saturday night we were near to being ready and looking forward to having a day off to visit the boat show. It had been a fine clear sky with light winds, and seemed ideal weather for the show. We finished our evening meal and tuned the radio to a marine station known as Keri Keri that was providing weather forecasting and position reporting for yachts sailing north. Soon it became obvious that something extraordinary was happening. Yachts were reporting wind strengths of 50 and 60 knots and describing defensive tactics of heaving to, running before the wind trailing warps or drogues, and lying ahull. Strain and tension could be detected in the voices of both the sailors and the radio station operators, but the roll call and position and weather reports were proceeding in a calm and professional manner. Normally the roll call starts about 7pm and is finished before 9:00pm, but this night it never finished. One boat had earlier put out a Mayday call for assistance because seas were breaking into the cockpit and they were taking on water as quick as they could pump. A French navy vessel was on its way to provide assistance. Soon there was another Mayday call, a boat reported it had been rolled over and required assistance. After an ominous break in transmission they came back and said they had not been rolled but had been knocked down, but seemed to be intact and without damage and cancelled their Mayday. This boat was later lost with its crew of three. Another boat a ketch, was asking advice on how to heave to, he could only lay beam to the sea and felt this was a dangerous position to be in, unless he could get his bow into the seas he thought he would be rolled over. One boat had lost its mast and the husband had a suspected broken hip, steps were being taken to take them off their boat at first light. Another boat was breaking up and the crew rescued by a research vessel in the area. By about lam Sunday morning we felt we had to go to sleep despite the drama involving some of our friends still unfolding at sea. There was nothing we could do to help. It took some days before the whole story was known. The storm formed near Fiji and travelled across the route taken by the yachts travelling from New Zealand to Fiji and Tonga. It became known as the Queens Birthday Storm because in occurred on the weekend of the Queens official birthday. It was first shown on the Wellington weatherfax as a low between Vanuatu and Fiji on 3rd June. By then yachts south of Fiji were reporting 7Oknot gusts. By the night of Saturday, 4th June Mayday calls were coming in fast and a full-scale rescue effort swung into action. The storm continued affecting yachts for the 5th, 6th and 7th June. Some boats experienced seas 12 meter high and winds up to 90 knots. Yachts on passage reported sustained winds of 40 to 50 knots and more over a very wide area. About 40 yachts in the area rode out the storm without serious damage. Two of the yachts in trouble broke up, at least one had broken windows, and others were rolled and/or distasted. Naval and commercial vessels rescued the crews of six of the yachts. One New Zealand yacht with a crew of three was lost, its life raft found floating empty. At the time, only the situation of yachts in trouble that had SSB radios or EPIRBS was known, and it was weeks before all the boats without radios struggled into harbour and were accounted for. Among these boats were friends who had been rolled over and their radio damaged by water. After the storm, we reviewed our preparations for the voyage and purchased a 406 EPERB. We put catches on our floorboards to prevent them falling out if we were knocked down or rolled over. We put straps over our engine covers and companionway way to prevent them from coming adrift, straps across the quarter berth to prevent items stored there from dislodging. We got extra fuel containers to carry more fuel. This work added another week to our departure from New Zealand.


Passage-New Zealand to Tonga.

17th June. We leave Gulf Harbour Marina in grey overcast conditions, NW wind 10kts. A front passes in the afternoon giving heavy rain and poor visibility. Clears at night, still have land in sight, and a few small vessels.

18th June. Early morning the wind increases to 20kts, the sea becomes rough. We reef the mainsail. Conditions moderate in the morning and we shake out the reefs. The sky clears, it is very cool. Clear of land now but we sight a few small fishing boats.

19th June. Becomes squally in the early hours. We reef and observe lightning to the south. At sunrise we have pink clouds on the horizon. Is cool and boisterous and wind is up to 20kts. Line squalls hit us in the morning. It moderates as the day progresses, we take out the reefs, but it looks very unsettled.

20th June. Fine and clear with a bright moon. Cloud increases, we have another pink sunrise. Wind eases to 8kts and the sea became very calm. Is this the calm before the storm? The wind goes north, increase to 20kts, we reef again. We are now beating hard into the wind and building seas.

21st June. At 1:30am the wind is 25kts, our working jib splits a complete seam. We replace it with the storm jib as the wind increases to 30kts. It is uncomfortable to sail into these headwinds and seas, so we heave-to. Lying about 60 deg to the wind with the tiller lashed we try to rest in heavy squalls and rain. At 9:30am the front passes over with added fury, other yachts on the radio report 40 to 50 knots of wind. We eat the fruitcake made especially for us by our friend Patricia. The conditions start to moderate. Mid afternoon the wind is tending west, we get under way in rough confused seas and grey dismal sky.

22nd June. The sky is clearing, we have a fine sunny morning but it is still very cold. Wind is down to 15kts from the west. We beam reach in rough seas under reduced canvas. Still big cumulus clouds to the South.

23rd June. Conditions moderate and the swells are down to 2m. Sea is still confused and lumpy. Sky clears, the wind becomes light and variable. We have the full main again.

24th June. We have 100% stratocumulus cloud and it is quite chilly. Wind drops to 5kts at times so we motor. The wind heads us from NE, but is light. We continue to motor sail with full main and genoa. 25th June. Light NNE winds prevail. With the Queens birthday storm fresh in our minds, we want to keep our exposure in this piece of sea to a minimum; so we motor sail.

26th June. The wind is generally light but it is grey with isolated squalls. Frowsy seems a good word to describe the weather.

27th June. Becomes very calm, sky clears, lovely red sunset, beautiful evening, soft waves, clear sky, and a full moon. We motor sail.

28th June. Conditions are clear and calm. In the afternoon our tiller pilot fails and is driving us in the wrong direction. We change the tiller pilot, check position, and set a new course.

29th June. Variable winds turn to light NE and we have a mix of stratus and cumulus cloud. We refuel from our cans. Yachts in our area are all motoring or becalmed. We hear on the radio two yachts run out of fuel. The moon appears red when it rises.

30th June. We have a mirror like sea, and a clear sky. We motor slowly to conserve fuel, get through Maria pass just before sunset. We pass the harbour reefs in darkness and anchor outside Nuku Alofa small boat harbour on the Island of Tongatapu, Tonga. We breathed a sigh of relief that we had an easy passage compared with friends a few weeks before.


Map Of The Islands Of Tonga.

Touristing in Tongatapu.

Nuku Alofa on the island of Tongatapu is the capital of Tonga. It has the Kings Palace, the government offices, and most of the commerce of Tonga. It has the general appearance of a ramshackle Wild West town, but during the last year, there has been a sustained 'clean up the town' campaign. The improvement from our brief visit just six months before was quite significant. Hand painted murals (promoting environmental awareness) on building site hoardings were an attractive and interesting part of this campaign. The bus station had been moved out of the center of town to the seaside promenade. So pleasant seating, and a view of the sea, replaced the old dirty chaos. The vegetable market had been moved to the port area. Much more convenient for us yachties since we now only had to row across the harbour to get our vegetables and carry them back in the dinghy. Last year we had to walk more than a mile to the market, and hump the heavy vegetables back to the boat in our backpacks. It was the Kings birthday shortly after we arrived and everybody has a day’s holiday: There was a parade of marching bands and floats promoting traditional culture and modern commercial enterprise, many special sports events, and dancing and singing exhibitions by the school children. Most of the known history of Tonga revolves around Tongatapu, and we visited as much of the island as we could utilizing the cheap and excellent public bus services. On one of these expeditions we took a bus to Captain Cooks landing, the place where Cook was reported to have first set foot on Tonga, then walked a couple of miles through some villages to the tombs at Lapaha. These are large terrace style tombs, of a dynasty of chiefs that started about AD950. Next we started walking west looking for a bus or a lift to the Ha'amonga. We got the lift first in a truck and rumbled along a dirt road shortcut, through banana and coconut plantations and vegetable gardens. The Ha'amonga is a man made stone structure made of two vertical stones with a horizontal stone connecting and mortised into them, something like the structures of Stonehenge. It gets its name from the Tongan words for 'carrying pole’ that it is said to resemble. The original purpose of the structure is obscure but a currently favoured theory advanced by the current King of Tonga and promoted by the Tourist Board is that grooves in the top of the structure were used for astronomical observations. This theory is ridiculed in a publication by the Atenisi University who argue that it was probably simply built as gateway. But the fact remains that any surviving stone structure, built as long ago as 1200AD in Polynesia is remarkable. We spent some time on the beach nearby, and caught the last bus back to Nuku'alofa. Another bus expedition we did was to visit some spectacular blow-holes. On the day we chose, the wind was blowing a strong 25kts and the sea was very rough. The blowholes are small cave like holes in the reef where the incoming swell is forced into a hole below the surface of the reef and seawater is forced out under pressure through a hole in the top of the reef. The result is a spectacular and powerful fountain forced high into the air and accompanied by a loud boom. When you are standing close by, the power and the suddenness of the event is enough to make your heart miss a beat. After the blowholes we tried to catch another bus to Kolovai to see the flying foxes, but it appeared there was no bus in that direction. It was only a few miles so we thought we could walk it, but we were soon offered a lift. The flying foxes are actually fruit bats, and we had seen them before in other Pacific Islands, but not so large and numerous as in Kolovai village. Hundreds of them hang upside down in the branches of large Casuarina trees. From time to time one of them will drop off its branch and fly with a shriek to another branch or tree. In other parts of the Pacific, the bats are considered good eating but in Tonga, legend associates the bats with the spirits of the ancient tribal chiefs. They may only be hunted by members of the royal family, a privilege that they do not seem to make use of. From Kolovai village we walked about a mile or so to the beach and the Good Samaritan Inn, then walked back to the village and caught a bus back to Nuku'alofa. On other days we visited a bird aviary, beaches and other places of interest. In Nuku'alofa the British Consulate had a very pleasant reading room with quality British newspapers and magazines available. We spent several hours reading the British newspapers and drinking complimentary cups of tea prepared by the office clerk. Before leaving Nuku’alofa, we had Joyce’s birthday celebration dinner at the Seaview restaurant, arguably the best in town.


Happy Ha’apai;

The Ha'apai group of islands is an overnight sail north of Tongatapu. Hazardous reefs require confident navigation. A change of wind to the west can make the area untenable, especially if occurs at night. In prevailing easterly winds however there are plenty of safe anchorages. We had a beam reach all night. In the morning when we rounded the western side of the group and pointed towards the shelter of the islands, we were using the engine to punch into a headwind and short steep seas. We anchored first at Uoleva Island. There were two crescent shaped beaches each about a mile long. The interior was thickly covered in coconut palms, with the occasional lemon, papaw, and mango tree. The was no permanent habitation, but there was a backpacker camp called Captain Cooks Resort, where patrons were brought from Lifuka by small sailboat It was possible to walk out on the reef at low tide and see giant corals easily visible over the edge without getting into the water. The beach walking and snorkelling were superb. Next we motored through scattered reefs the few miles to Lifuka Island, and anchored off Pangai the capital of Ha'apai. There were a few provision shops, administrative offices, restaurants and hotels There is a main ferry dock at Pangai, and an airstrip in the north of the island. We had an interesting walk to the north of the island, across a causeway to Foa. There, an employee of the Ministry Of Agriculture offered us a lift. He gave us a tour of Foa Island complete with commentary of the agriculture on the island. Pumpkin for the Japanese market was one of the important cash crops, and we had seen a warehouse pumpkins waiting shipment at Nuku'alofa. Our next anchorage was Ha,ano Island. The sketch map of the anchorage did not seem to be quite right and we had a bit of manoeuvring before finding a spot for our anchor that we were comfortable with. The anchorage was off a small sandy beach in a gap in the reef next to what could truly be described as a coral garden. We enjoyed that lovely spot. It was here that we had our first sighting of the whales. We saw the backs of whales breaking the surface and blowing some distance offshore from us, but as we left the anchorage a whale about 30 or 40 ft long dived just inshore of us and waved its tail good-bye.


A Picture Of Vava'u.

From Ha'apai to Vava'u was another overnighter. We had light winds and motored much of the way. As we arrived at Vava'u before daybreak we used radar to confirm our position, and were puzzled for some time by the appearance and disappearance of groups of small islands behind us where there should have been nothing at all. After observing this phenomenon for some while it suddenly clicked that we were seeing a pod of whales on the screen as they were surfacing. When dawn broke, we could see the whales some distance behind us. Vava'u is to cruising, what painting by numbers is to art. Pretty, but not the real thing. The Moorings yacht chartering company has had a base in Vava’u for many years and has produced a cruising guide to the area that is quite comprehensive. It tells you if it is just a day anchorage or safe for a night stop, and gives every anchorage a number for easy identification. Instead of hearing the, lovely Tongan name of Mala for the anchorage you will hear people on the radio saying 'we are in number 6', or when they are in Vaka'eitu they will say 'number 16'. There are at least 30 islands and about 40 anchorages in the Vava’u area and they are all within a few hours sail or motor from Neiafu, which is the town where you can pick up provisions, gas, water and fuel. Most of the islands have low hills covered with coconut palms, fringed with reef, sandy beaches in some places, hard coral beaches in others. Small villages are scattered through the islands, and villagers will bring a few bits of fruit and vegetables or woven baskets for sale. A few taverna type restaurants try to scratch a living catering for the Moorings charter boats and cruising yachties. It is interesting to observe that the cruising yachties, who probably sailed a 1000 miles in very rough weather to get to the cruising grounds, will mostly motor the short distance from anchorage to anchorage. But the wage slaves in the charter boats for their week or two's holiday would sail in even the most contrary of winds. One wag at a cruisers barbecue was heard to say that if it has a sail set it must be a charter yacht. Our time at Vava'u was spent socializing, beach barbecues, swimming and snorkelling, exploring the little islands ashore, reef walking, reading, and just relaxing. But after a while, one island is much the same as another, and you know it is time to move on again.


Ocean Breeze.

Listening to the BBC World Service, we caught the end of a feature about a British restaurant in Tonga. It was taking bookings for New Years Eve year 2000. It would be the first in the world to see the sunrise on the new millennium, and it was thought that this was a rather special place for the New Years Eve celebration. John Dale and his wife Amelia in Neiafu, Vava’u, run the Ocean Breeze Restaurant. Tonga is on the Eastern side of the dateline, and should be the last country to see in the new-year. But in order to keep Tonga on the same day as its neighbours the dateline is bent East of Tonga, so putting it ahead of the rest of the world in time. We decided to 'inspect' the Ocean Breeze. Following a sign from town we walked over the hill, down an earthy path, past dogs and pigs and small scruffy children from the little wooden houses, into a quiet part of town overlooking the old harbour. The harbour is rather deep for anchoring, and exposed to Southeast winds. It has a narrow shallow small boat channel through the coral to the shore and is not much used. The Sea freeze was built on a slope looking east, with a view of wooded islands and sea colours ranging from light verdant to aquamarine. Below the house was a little tropical bar. At the bottom of the slope was a part built jetty and small beach with a man feeding a small bonfire. The man was the owner, and when he spotted us we were invited down to the beach. John was a talkative West Londoner who had found the pace in England too frenetic and moved to Tonga for a more tranquil way of life. He showed us his jetty, which he hoped to complete in weeks/ months/years, working on Tonga time. The little sandy beach had formed since the jetty had been started, and John was clearing and burning the debris that had collected. In the corner of the beach were the beginnings of a playground with an outrigger canoe, and on the reef was a hole, which was excavated as a salt water bathing pool. John explained he would work like stink for a few days then lay back and do nothing for weeks. But the delightful set-up and the well-kept garden suggested he worked harder than he admitted. He showed us his pig corral and we learned more about Tongan pig keeping from this Londoner than from anyone else. Every family keeps pigs, and they run wild, foraging for roots and leaves around the village and bush. Every owner feeds his pigs once a day. This brings the pigs back home every night, and a count is made to see they are all there. John showed us how coconuts were split with a machete and thrown into the corral. The small piglets eagerly scrambled for the pickings, and were butted away by the big'uns snout when they got too avaricious. Quick as lightening, John grabbed one of the small ones by the hind feet, and lifted it squealing into the air, demonstrating how it could have its throat cut when it was ready for the table. He admitted he was too squeamish to do it himself, so he got a Tongan friend to do it for him when the time came. He showed us the garden, chickens, roosting hens, banana plants and other fruits and vegetables, and it seemed that John and Amelia would not go hungry if they had no customers. We made a booking and two nights later we had a fine meal and a long chat with John comparing the similar problems of own chosen lifestyles. John had found a lovely niche in life; we could almost follow-in-his-footsteps, if we were not sailors.


Tongan Feast

One of the 'must do' things when visiting Tonga is a Tonga feast. We had been to a feast at the Cultural Center in Tonga Tapu but it was rather tea partyish. We found what we wanted when we met Aisea, in the Bounty Bar overlooking Neiafu harbour.

His was the original feast, started 20 years ago. He had been doing feasts every year since then and was planning an anniversary feast next weekend. This was to be special, with lobster, fish, octopus, yam, taro, clam, chicken, pork, and lots of other food. We were tempted, but our budget would not stretch to a meal out so soon. We told him we would come to one of his feasts in due time. Weeks later we sailed into Lisa beach and found Aisea preparing for a feast. At sunset, we all sat on the floor under a palm leaf shade with the feast set before us on a large fibre mat. The food was beautifully presented on seashells, leaves, and coconut shells. There was not a piece of food or utensil that could not be found in the sea, the beach, or the forest behind us. It was the ultimate 'organic' meal eaten with our fingers. The villagers poured kerosene into coffee tins to provide light for a traditional song and dance exhibition. Next day was Sunday and Aisea arranged transport for us to his village church, and we were invited to his house afterwards for lunch, such is the hospitality of the Tongans


Tsunami in Tonga

We were anchored at the north end of Taunga Island, Vava'u and were awoken by our alarm dock at 6:30am. We put the kettle on, and turned on the radio for Arnold’s weather forecast. The first item of the broadcast made sit up and listen with more than usual concentration. It was a Tsunami warning. There had been an earthquake in the sea near Japan and a Tsunami wave had been detected on the shores of Japan. Of particular risk were northwest facing shores and shallow water areas. The wave could travel at 400 to 600 miles per hour and times were given for when the wave could be expected to arrive at various islands in the Pacific. The warning also said that it was not possible to predict the height of the wave. Arnold added that when the last Tsunami hit the Cook Islands 20 years ago it emptied the harbour of water for a short period, and the harbour master now was advising that all boats evacuate the harbour. Evidently, when there is a sudden rising of the ocean floor, water rises and then settles back creating a wave that travels at high speed across the surface of the Ocean. In deep water, the wave height would not be more than 2 or 3 feet and have a wavelength of 100 miles, so it would not be conspicuous. When the wave enters shoal water it slows quickly and builds in height. Tsunami of 50 feet or higher have reached the shore, inflicting widespread damage in harbour and on coastal areas. After this forecast we switched to the Ham radio Maritime net. There was much Concern expressed by various callers and it was decided to keep the net going all day to disseminate any information on the developing situation. It looked like a low risk for us because of the barrier of small islands of Vava'u to the north of us. We seemed to have three options, stay where we were, and sail out into deep water until the wave passed, or get into Neiafu harbour. Getting into harbour is normally the last thing to do when a Tsunami is expected, but Neiafu has all the elements necessary for a safe haven. It has a south facing entrance, a 4-mile long narrow channel ending in a 90-degree bend, and a large deep-water anchorage area. We were also out of fresh provisions so a trip to Neiafu was opportune. We motored to Neiafu and arrived one hour before the wave was expected. The Ham net was still operating to get information from islands that would be hit first.

So! What happened?

Nothing! . Some islands to the north recorded wave heights of one or two feet above normal, but south of the equator there was no detectable wave. It was an anticlimax but we had learnt about the nature of the Tsunami, and it had been an interesting exercise; and

We got our fresh provisions.


Clam spits at Joyce

We were poking about the reef at Kenutu Island at low tide when Joyce found a medium size clam tying in a small pool. This was a rare find since clams usually fix themselves firmly in a crevice in moderately deep water and do not often wash ashore. We considered the possibility of turning it into a clam chowder (soup) -but we decided to let it live another day. It was partially open and a narrow fleshy band could be seen around the edge of the shell, so Joyce started to prize it open a little more to see what it really looked like Suddenly it squirted a bullet of seawater at Joyce’s eye and snap- shut, catching her finger tip as it closed. Joyce winced at the jet of dirty seawater and screamed at the same time, dropping the poor clam on the coral. Joyce had a small cut on her fingertip, Brian had a good laugh, and the clam was placed back in a small pool to await the return of the sea.


Kenutu Island, our favourite.

After visiting the anchorages of Vava'u the question always arises as to which was the favourite. We most enjoyed Kenutu (No.30). It is the most Eastern of the anchorages, part of a string of long narrow islands, with the full force of the Ocean pounding on the East side, and a delightful sheltered anchorage on the west side. It is uninhabited except for an island bar run by two German ladies, called the Berlin Bar. You can swim and snorkel, laze on the beach, go bush walking, watch the magnificent surf crash onto the cliff s, and collect shell fish for dinner from the exposed reef between Kenutu and the next Island. A short dinghy ride takes you to Umuna, the next island to the North, where you can find an interesting volcanic bubble cave hidden in the bush. It has a small entrance, and opens out inside to a huge circular rock cavern, with a small pool at the bottom. The time we spent at Kenutu was the most relaxing of the year.


Rough Passage-Tonga to Opua

2OthNov.We leave Tonga after cyclone Vania has dissipated. 15kt breeze leaving harbour but are blasted with 20/25kts as we clear land.

21st Nov. We have strong winds and rough seas with heavy grey clouds. Joyce is seasick.

22ndNov.Wind moderates and eases to ENE 10kts by evening. Joyce is feeling better.

23rdNov.Cornfortable, moderate conditions

24thNov.Moderate, NE winds give us downwind sailing with Main and Genoa.

25thNov. Increasing cloud and wind.

26thNov.The wind increases steadily, we reduce sail. Mid morning we get winds of gale force plus, we lay ahull with no sail in 20ft Seas. Eases to 25kts and we get under way again.

27thNov. Strong winds and rough seas continue and switch to SE, now beating hard on the wind. When Brian climbs out into the cockpit a huge wave breaks over us and sends a cascade of solid water down the hatch. The HF radio is saturated and no longer working properly, it is difficult to change frequency but we can still transmit.

28thNov.We are still hard on the wind, with a triple reeled main and working jib, 25/30kts, with rough seas. The Aries wind vane is steering but the control rope breaks and we improvise by knotting on a new rope.

29thNov.Strong winds and rough seas continue. During Joyce’s watch, the cockpit was filled with water several times by large breaking waves. We change the working jib to a storm jib.

30th Nov. The wind increased to a steady 30kts, with occasional gusts of 35 plus. We are pounding into large waves and headwinds Small leaks are appearing in places where we never had leaks before. We are running out of dry clothes. By midday, Tusk is taking so much punishment we take down the mainsail and put up the storm trysail. We slow but the -comfort level improves dramatically. Like changing from a wooden wheeled barrow on a cart track to a Rolls Royce on tarmac.

1Dec. It is still blowing 30kts, but more easterly, we are not so hard on the wind. Is grim and grey and bitterly cold in the cockpit. We do much of our watching inside, using radar, and rest as much as possible.

2Dec. It is grey and miserable but through misty rain, we can see the Bay Of Islands. It is a long run in to Opua; the wind moderates as we get shelter from the land.


Summary Of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To                  Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/kts

12Dec/12Feb  At Westhaven Marina/Auckland                                     

13Feb              Motuihe Isle/return        18       4        2      E10                Day sail with picnic, nice day

22Feb              Woody Bay, Rakino Isle 12      3        3      E05                Light winds, lovely anchorage.

23Feb              Gulf harbour,                   5       1        1      E05/10           Calm and hazy, we lift out.

23Feb/16Jun   At Gulf Harbour Marina                                                   Bottom paint and many jobs.

17Jun/30Jun    Nuku’alofa, Tonga    1087   320    165      Var/0-4O       Too much wind or too little.

2Aug               Pangaimotu                      1       1        1      SE10              Small island anchorage, nice.

8/9Aug            Uoleva Isle, Ha’apai    101     29      11      SE/El0/18      Fine passage but choppy.

12Aug             Pangai, Ha'apai                6       2        6      El5/25            Squally with rain, poor visibility.

15Aug             Ha'ano                             4       1        1      E10                Fine day, reefy passage.

16Aug             Ovaka, Vava'u               58     14        6      NE5/15          Clear sky, moderate sea.

17Aug/230ct   Day sailing around Vava'u                                               Lazy sociable sailing.

24Oct              Foa Isle, Ha'apai            67     16        4      E/NE6/15      Fine beam reach.

25Oct              Pangai Ha'apai                 9       2        2      NE5               Calm conditions.

26Oct              Uoleva, Ha'apai               5       2        2      Calm              No wind, smooth sea.

28Oct              Ha'afeva, Ha'apai          19       4        3      S14/20           Showery and grey clouds

3OOct             Nuku’alofa, Tonga        70     22        3      SE12/20         Close hauled, blustery.

2ONov/2Dec  Opua, NewZealand   1120   289      48      Var/4-44        Heavy weather passage

Chapter 15


The Tusks Whitewater Rafting

See ‘Going South – Horses & White Water


Bay Of Islands

Our sail from Tonga to Opua, Bay of Islands in New Zealand, was one of the longest periods of strong winds we had experienced. Tusk is a, dry boat but this time, water got in everywhere. Lockers got wet that never got wet before, and we also brought water into the boat on our oilskins. It had been too cold to dry anything. The first few days in Opua we spent rinsing salt out of every bit of clothing and bedding and cleaning and drying. While we were doing this, friends Ken and Anne of Resolute arrived at Opua in a hire car. They had sailed fast a track to Australia and then flew to New Zealand for a whistle stop tour. We would like to have taken Ken and Anne on a cruise but they only had a couple of days to spare, and we still had sodden piles of laundry in various stages lying around a damp boat, and maintenance to do before we were cruise worthy again. Instead, we went cruising with Ken and Anne in their car. We took the Opua ferry across the bay and drove to Russell, the most popular tourist town in the B of I. We strolled around the town looking at the old colonial buildings and the Museum, with its large-scale replica of Captain Cooks ship Endeavour, and exhibits, outlining local history. We walked the seafront and the pier that is used as a wharf and drove up nearby Flagstaff Hill. We were glad to be doing it in a car, it was a steep climb. In 1840, the British and the Maori Chiefs signed the controversial Treaty of Waitangi just across the water, and Russell became the capital of New Zealand for a short time. Some Maoris chopped down the British flagpole several times before full reconciliation was achieved, and the flagpole was allowed to stay. But the Waitangi Treaty remains a contentious issue today. We took the ferry back to Opua and drove to Keri Keri, which has a history as home of one of the Maori warrior tribes and one of the early European settlement areas. The town is in fruit tree county and you drive through miles of orchards on the approach. It is high above the water, and down the hill from the town beside the river, are the main tourist attractions. The Stone Store, the Kemp House, and the Rewas Village. The Stone Store was closed for renovation. The entrance fee for Kemp House was out of proportion to its interest to us, so we just looked around the outside. We took photos by the river and inspected the cruising yachts tied to the pile moorings. The Rewas Village was a reproduction of a typical Maori village, with types of living quarters, an umu cooking pile, food storage pits, traps and weapons, canoes and stone anchors. It was an interesting site, well laid out and instructive. In the afternoon we headed back to Opua but stopped in Paihia for a ‘takeaway roast beef dinner'. We said our good byes to the Resolutes, knowing that we were unlikely to see them again for several years. After a few days of drying out and repairs, we weighed anchor and motor sailed quietly two Miles to Russell. Next Morning we took a few photos ashore, then weighed anchor and headed for Roberton Island. About 8 miles out Joyce discovered her camera was missing, and remembered last having it when we sat on a street bench in Russell. We steamed back as fast as we could. The shops and the police station were closed, but as we wandered forlornly around where we had sat, one local resident came up and asked it we were looking for a camera. It had been handed in to the nearby butcher shop, and we could collect it when shop opened. We thankfully collected the camera next morning; we were lucky the folks of Russell were so honest. We arrived at Roberton Island a day later than planned and found it to be an attractive high wooded island with a lagoon. It has an underwater trail for snorkelling, but; it was in a state of neglect; we were there at the wrong season. Instead, we had a walk through a pine forest to the top of a hill having glorious views across the Bay and out across the ocean.


Cruise B of I to Auckland

We left the Bay of Islands and sailed south along the coast to Whangamumu, an old whaling station. Our GPS had stopped working in Tonga, so we were navigating using dead reckoning. We passed the entrance to the Bay before we realized and had to beat back nearly a mile against a headwind. One should turn off the electronic magic boxes occasionally and brush up on basic navigation. We shared the bay with two other yachts and a group of young people camping on the shore. We explored the old rusty whale processing machinery, followed a stream with small waterfalls, and then walked up and over the hill on a footpath that eventually joined a road that runs back to Russell. The footpath was very steep, rough and muddy in places, and we were fairly well puffed by the time we get to the top. The view over the bay was glorious, and worth the effort. We left Whangamumu in calm but cloudy conditions and motored slowly, close inshore, until we reached Whangaruru Harbour. Although Whangaruru provides good shelter, it never developed as a significant town. It is not so much a harbour as an estuary surrounded by low-key holiday villages and camps. We anchored at Parutahi Beach and rowed ashore. Then we walked along the road to the small resort town of Oakura, and bought a few groceries and a bag of chips. We thought we could find a more attractive anchorage for our overnight stay so we headed further up the estuary until we found a small backwater at the entrance to Racehorse River. We spent the night in this serenely quiet pool surrounded by wooded hills with not another vessel in sight. We set off early next morning in calm conditions. There was a moderate head wind when we got out to sea, so we motored about 6 hours and put in to Tutakaka harbour. This is a well protected harbour with a narrow rocky entrance, and is popular with Game Fishermen. There is a marina, but we anchored. We were glad of our shallow draft, the harbour was crowded and it was difficult to find a spot in the deeper water. There was a handy little grocery store ashore that also did fast food, so we had fish and chips at an old wooden table beneath a large tree overlooking the harbour. The other thing we will remember about Tutakaka is a flock of aggressive seagulls that swooped and attacked anybody crossing the beach. Joyce was quite alarmed at their behaviour, but a stone thrown in their direction discouraged these aggressive antics. Next morning the wind was more westerly, and we were able to sail on a fine reach to Great Barrier Island. We had grey anticyclonic gloom until early afternoon, but the sky started clearing about 3pm, and when we arrived in Rarowharo Bay, Port Fitzroy, at 7 pm; we had a clear blue sky. Sailing through Port Fitzroy on a bright fine evening, with clear water, wild craggy cliffs; and thick dark green forest on the hills, was a majestic experience. Great Barrier Island is only a day sail from Auckland city, and was named by Captain Cook because of the protection it provides to the Hauraki Gulf. Despite its chequered history of logging and mining it is still sparsely populated and unspoilt, and has some of the best forest and bush walking available in New Zealand. A large part of the Island is under the control of the Department of Conservation and most of the land is accessible to the public. Many paths and trails are available for all grades of walkers. Next morning we got ashore and walked to the Port Fitzroy ferry terminal thinking we could get a walking map at the information office at the terminal. The information office was closed, so we headed for the general store. The store was quite well stocked and busy with locals buying up their daily necessities. We were amused to find that a carrier pigeon mail service was run between Great Barrier and Auckland, and it was sometimes possible to send mail by this means to anywhere in the world, at a rather higher price than the ordinary mail. We would have sent letters home by this means, but it too, was closed. No information about walks was available at the store, but we bought a few groceries and took them back to Tusk, then headed back to shore and found the headquarters office of the Department of Conservation. At last we obtained a trail map, and set off on a walk to the old Kauri Dams. To begin with, the track was disappointing, just a wide compacted vehicle, track, but eventually it became a pleasant walking path through the bush. Soon we were leaping from stone to stone and 'tightrope’ walking logs to cross streams and shallow rivers, and then removing our boots to wade crossings that were rather more difficult. The path narrowed and became more of a scramble, and we were sometimes pulling ourselves up steep slippery banks using tree branches and roots to hang on. Just when the going started to get really tough the first Kauri Dam came into view.

The Kauri is a tree, native to New Zealand, and is said to have a dominated the northern peninsula of North Island before the arrival of the Europeans. It grows with a tall straight trunk. In common with the majority of the majestic trees of the world, it has a slow rate of growth, taking maybe 100 years to grow to a size that would be commercially useful. Trees believed to be more than 1000 years old, over 50 meters high, and with girths of over 12m still exist today, but the great Kauri forests of the past are mainly gone, felled by Europeans during' the early, development of the New Zealand timber industry. Because of the dense bush and hilly terrain, the transport of the Kauri logs to a suitable shipping port posed special difficulties. Roads were not a practical or economical solution, so they built dams across gullies with small streams, and built up a head of water behind the dam. The Kauri trees lining the gully were then felled and slid down the side of the gully into the stream. When there were sufficient logs in the gully, and a sufficient head of water behind the dam, the dam was tripped, allowing the rush of water to float the logs down the gully and into the sea. They were then captured and formed into rafts to be towed to a shipping port. The dams themselves were actually built of logs and held together with rope and wedges and the like, and were designed to be reusable The two dams we saw on our walk were in a remarkable state of preservation and it was possible to study every detail of their construction. It had been a hard climb, but fascinating insight into problems overcome by the early pioneers of the timber business. New Zealand is going some way to repairing the damage done to the Kauri forests by preserving existing forests and planting new Kauri forests in several areas of North Island.  Most of New Zealand's existing Timber industry is now based on renewable resources using fast growing imported pine.

Next day, in light SE winds we motored out of Port Fitzroy through ‘Man Of War Passage’, passed Little Barrier Island and anchored in Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island. We admired the area but did not go ashore. Instead, we vowed that we should return after Christmas. Next morning we had a very early start, and motored again in fine calm conditions into Auckland harbour, and tied up in Westhaven Marina.


Christmas & New Year

Our arrival in West Haven, in Auckland about 10 days before Christmas did not have quite the same magic and excitement of our first arrival just one year before, but we enjoyed a more relaxed approach that comes with familiarity. We were able to call our friends and relatives and arrange our get togethers without throwing everybody’s plans into disarray. Then we started determinedly to spend more time as tourists, and to visit the sights and attractions of Auckland, but soon were sidetracked by shopping for Christmas, and dealing with boat maintenance problems. We did however manage to spend most of one day at the Maritime Museum, visited Kitty 0 Brians Irish pub to enjoy some Irish ballads and reels, caught up with the latest cinema films, and joined the Teps. The Teps is a heated indoor swimming pool with sauna, steam room, & spa pool. Over Christmas, attendance falls off and they offer a special one-month season ticket for about the same price as it was costing us each month for hot showers at the Marina. So we had a months 'keep fit binge, building up our swimming stamina and luxuriating in the sauna and spa pools, and unlimited hot showers. It took an hour or two of our time most days and we felt much better for it afterwards. On Christmas Eve, we joined the panic buyers, with Brian blitzing the grocery and booze list whilst Joyce combed the stores for presents. We spent Christmas day with friends Patricia and Brian Jones, joining up with Patricia's brothers family gathering. The hosts David and Yvonne made us very welcome and we had an enjoyable day with great food. Next day we were invited to Brian’s cousin Christine and Peters house, and had an equally enjoyable evening. A coup1e of days later we had cruising friends of yacht Taki Moana for dinner on Tusk. Next day we took Peter out on Tusk for a fishing expedition in the Hauraki Gulf. We anchored in the Rakino Channel and caught 4 red snapper, 1 barracouta, 2 napuka; and several small fish that were returned, inluding a small shark. On new years day we took Patricia & Brian, David, Yvonne, Sam, Maeve and Ian to Waiheke Island for the day in Tusk. It was a bit of a squeeze on board and we were low on our waterline but everyone seemed to enjoy the trip even though a strong headwind gave us a rough ride back to Westhaven Marina that evening.


Moonshaddow Wedding.

After New Year our plans were dominated by several factors. A wedding of friends on yacht Moonshaddow, to be held at Whangarei on 2 February, we wanted to do more touristing and some coastal cruising we also had a long list of maintenance projects. Boat equipment needing professional attention was taken to workshops, and maybe 20 maintenance jobs were completed. We had social calls from several cruising friends, and a day out with friends off yacht 'Pangolin' to see the Howick Historical Village. The Fencible Village, which comes from the word defensible, housed soldier settlers. They were induced by offers of land and a cottage to come to New Zealand from England in the 1840's and 1850’s to defend farmer settlers from the threat of attack by Maori tribes.

We did a canoe trip down the Puhoi River with friend Patricia, starting at Puhoi and followed the tide through forest, grassland and marsh to Wenderholm on the coast. It was a relaxed tranquil trip, until we met headwinds on the coastal marshes and were forced to paddle hard, but we enjoyed the day.

We still needed to get started on varnishing the inside of Tusk, so we hit on the idea of buying the materials and then sailing out to the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. We would then do the varnishing and move anchorages as we fancied. We headed out on 18th Jan but we were blasted by a 30 kts headwind, so we put into Islington Bay on Rangitoto island for shelter and stayed overnight. Next day in dull rainy weather, we sailed to Putiki Bay on Waiheke Island, and anchored inshore of the local boats. Next morning we dragged anchor and realized it was rock bottom and the anchor would not ‘dig in’. We moved to where there was good mud for anchoring, but three times as far to row ashore. We stayed 10 days at Putiki, rubbing down, painting and varnishing the forepeak, and completing a dozen other jobs while paint and varnish was drying. The weather was wet and windy and made it difficult to maintain a good standard of work. In the afternoons we sometimes went for a walk or a bus ride, or to a beach. We were invited to a New Zealand Anniversary Day party at Brian and Patricia's house on 30th Jan so we headed back to Auckland again for a buffet barbecue and a very sociable evening. The next two weeks were dominated by maintenance, our only recreation being to attend ‘Symphony Under The Stars’ at Auckland Domain, which was a spectacular evening. On 5th February we headed out of Auckland to attend the Moonshaddow wedding at Whangarei, about 75 Nm North. Leaving Westhaven we saw the QE2 arriving at the docks and used the binoculars to get a better view. These were left oh the: stern deck, and rounding North Head we were blasted with a squall that healed us over 45 degrees, the binoculars tumbled down the deck and lolloped over the combing into the sea. It was an expensive start to our cruise. We had headwinds the rest of the afternoon and it-was evening when we got to Whangaparoa. We anchored on the South side of the peninsula at Okorama Bay. Next morning we had a sail in fickle winds, resorting to motoring before long. We anchored in Mansion House Bay on Kawau Island just after lunch. The house was the home of Sir George Grey, Governor of New Zealand in 1845-53 and 1861 67. It is open to the public, and backs onto forested hills with walking paths and a Wallaby enclosure. We walked along the south coast to the old working of a copper mine. The tunnel was closed; but vains of copper were visible in the rock. Some pieces of old machinery were lying on the beach, and the furnace tower was still standing. We walked back using the Redwood track, so named because of the Redwood firs. When we were back aboard a Kiwi yachtie came over for a chat and offered us two freshly caught flounders, which we gratefully accepted, and cooked for dinner. We spent two days at Kawau and then motored all day in calms to the mouth of Hatea River, that runs up to the town of Whangarei. We were too late to get up river that night-so we rounded the sandbanks into a lagoon on the North side of the estuary called The Nook. Next morning we chugged up river to the town basin marina. It took longer than we thought, about 3 hours. The Harbour Master allocated us to a pile mooring, which was next to Moonshaddow. Next evening David and Candia (Moonshaddow) organized a barbecue for their friends and family at the marina and we all had a good time. The morning of the wedding was a bit of a blur with many arrangements going on with apparently little direction, but all the threads -pulled together with extraordinary effectiveness at Mair Park where the ceremony took place. The sun shone, the river chuckled, the birds sang, a kilted piper marched up and down the clearing beside the river playing Northumbrian airs. Guests walked through the forest, following vague instructions on how to get there, but never really looking happy until the groom arrived and it was clear we had all found the right place. The bride and bridesmaids arrived, walking slowly and elegantly across the river bridge and joined the groom waiting patiently and unruffled. The ceremony proceeded in those beautiful surroundings, and soon family groups and friends were being organized for photos and guests unknown to each other were becoming acquainted. A car took us to the A’fare Restaurant for the reception. Champagne flowed freely and there was a buffet dinners with speeches, live music and dancing. After it all finished we walked back to Tusk, rather mellow after a wonderful day.


Arthur’s Emporium

This shop should be a listed tourist attraction; we found it by word of mouth from other yachties. Tucked away in the back streets of Whangarei the fascia announcing the name of the shop looks rather old fashioned bazaarish, but when you get inside you can easily substitute bazaar for bizarre. You could find anything from an electric motor to a tin of popadoms, a hacksaw blade to a length of material, a clock to a Japanese machete. The common factor is that everything is as bargain. If you went looking for a particular item you probably would not find it, but would leave with a bag of goods that alway seemed to total more than expected. You could go broke saving money at Arthur’s! We were tickled to see copies of a book written by an author friend of ours 'Buying a Boat' by Mike Harper, and wondered what he would thinks of his tome being on offer at Arthur’s Emporium. We bought quite a few items including circlip pliers, hacksaw blades, universal inspection mirror, a wire grab for fishing things out of inaccessible places, garden ties (sail ties), tubes of suntan lotion, a book on heavy weather sailing, and a wetalarm. The 'piece de resistance' was the wet alarm. At $5 it was packed with instructions for use as a household detector of over flowing water from say a kettle or a bath. It was no doubt a commercial failure.

With a few minor modifications we saw it as a bilge water alarm, and it is now working well in this capacity on' Tusk, and several other yachts. It seams likely that if the original designer had the lateral thinking to aim his product at the boating market, it would have so1d for at least $50.


Whangarei Workshop

We were determined that we would not stay in Whangarei for longer than was necessary to attend the wedding, but as we browsed the town, the shops and businesses our resolve; evaporated. We had a substantial list of maintenance items and improvements, and materials and services we had 'found elusive in Auckland were available in Whangarei. We decided there would be no harm in staying a few more days. As we got involved in more projects, and a car tour South with friends, and got involved in New Zealand politics, the few days stretched to three months. Amongst the maintenance and improvements, were repairs to our alternator/regulator system, to the portable fridge, the chain re-galvanised. We installed new burglar alarm equipment, and cabin reading lights, we made new sail bags, a navigation light for the dinghy; and the biggest job was to paint and varnish the main cabin area We also purchased a Para-anchor and the gear necessary to deploy it. This is a-sea-anchor, which is designed for extreme storm conditions when the waves are so large and dangerous that the boat could be rolled over. Remember our account of the Queens birthday storm that our friends were involved in. Our Para-anchor is 9ft diameter and should hold Tusk head to wind in the severest of conditions until any such storm has' passed. But it was not all work. Whangerei had a film festival while we were there and we went to see several interesting films not often shown. We went bush walking, and socialized with local friends Lyn & Gerry, (introduced to us by Patricia of Auckland) and with cruising friends, Moonshaddow', 'El Gitano', 'Buster’, 'Aquarius' and ‘Lucksall' to name but a few


Gourmet Corner

Like most of the world New Zealand food is becoming increasingly international, but we identified two items -meriting comment as specialties of NZ. The first is the Green Shell Mussels that must be the best in the world. They are sold fresh; from water spray tanks in supermarkets, at $1 or $2 a kilo. They are delicious, steamed and served with garlic butter and wholemeal bread rolls. The other item is Wedges. These chunky potato chips are oven baked, and flavoured with a coating of a-caraway seeds, or garlic and rosemary, or any other coating the imaginative cook creates. They are usually served with sour cream.


Going South.

It was Brian and Denise of 'Lucksall', that thought we were working too hard and said we should take a break and go touring with them in their car. They were driving down to Wellington to join some friends to walk the famous Milford track. While they were on the walk, some 4 days, we could use the car to tour around Wellington. Because we never intended to stay at Whangerewe did not book our mooring for more than a week or two ahead when it was time for our car trip with Brian & Denise, we were told we would have to move to another Mooring because the owner-was due back from his summer cruise. So we were allocated a pile mooring in the middle of the river and directly in front of the road bridge. We were not so happy with this location because it looked rather exposed, and we left it to the last possible moment to move.

On the morning we were leaving in the car, Joyce was in the Marina Office and by some chance, the owner of the mooring we had been using was collecting mail. It transpired that he would not be returning with his boat for another month so we could stay where we were. We were very happy with this, but we did not -realize what a stunning piece of luck this had been until we returned from our tour. With four of us in the car we set off south, had a stop in Auckland so that Denise could collect some documents and details from the NZ immigration department and we then thrust again into the noisy jam-packed roads of Auckland. Soon we were out onto the motorway, through the town of Hamilton and arrived at Rotorua by early evening. We stayed at Kiwi Paka', the same backpackers hostel we had used the year before. We had drinks at the Pig & Whistle in Rotorua, dinner in an inexpensive restaurant, and then returned to the hostel in the hope of being able to watch a TV documentary giving the story of the Queens birthday storm of 1994. About 40 or 50 backpackers were watching a different channel so a sales talk was necessary to get the channel changed to the one we wanted. This was successful and we all settled- down to watch Pacific Rescue. It was rather long, and the action was often a bit slow, but the story was- well covered and there was impressive footage of the storm and some of the rescues taken from the rescue craft on amateur video cameras.


Going South-The Thermals

Brian & Denise drove us to Whakarewarewa Thermal park, probably the best known and most visited thermal park in New Zealand. They continued to Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which we had visited the year before. Whakawerawera is the Most Volcanically active park we have seen, but the impressiveness is demolished by the manufactured walkways, fences, and the constant, stream of coach parties being hurried by their guides through the-park and back to their buses for the next scheduled stop. But it must be admitted the geysers, springs and mud pools are amazing, and the thermal activity is almost continuous. In the afternoon, we met Brian & Denise again outside Whakawerawera and drove on to a resort known as 'The Hidden Valley' at Orakei Korako. This was a delightful wood cabin water ski resort with a thermal reserve on the opposite side of a river. Access to the reserve is by ferry from the resort. Steam rising from the terraces in the evening gave the place an ancient mysterious air. We stayed the night and -next morning we took the ferry to the reserve, which was remarkable for its silica terraces, but the volcanic activity was low while we were there. Later we headed for Lake Taupo, stopping at the roaring torrent of the Huka falls for lunch before heading for Turangi. At Turangi, Brian & Denise gave us the keys to their car for us to use while they were staying with their friends and we headed black to Taupo and booked into the Birkenhoff Lodge, popular backpackers. A pleasant airy double room with its own toilet and' shower, and a voucher for a free drink each at the bar was just $30, equivalent to less than 15 UK Pounds. Joyce had seen an Inn on the road into Taupo so we set off to find it on foot. It was further than we thought, but the walk to the Ploughman’s Inn was welcome after so many hours in the car. It was a pleasant English style pub. We had a drink and a roast dinner before walking back.


Going South-Horses And White Water.

Next-morning we were' up early, and were the first customers in the Taupo Visitors Center. We settled on horse riding for that day, and white water rafting for the next day, which we booked with a company especially recommended by the girl on the desk. Our horse riding was not until the afternoon so we drove around the Acacia Bay looking at the scenery and visited the Lake Taupo boat harbour. Errol Flynn’s old yacht is there and is providing cruises around the lake, which is an inland sea formed in the crater of a volcano covering over 600 sq Km. We then headed for the stable and joined a group of riders across farm and forest and the Craters Of The Moon. This is a thermal area where you ride a path beside which steam is hissing from cracks and openings in the ground. A tortured, burnt and sulphuric landscape shrouded in puffs of steam makes you feel it could be a place of evil, and that you should not linger. We are not experienced horse riders but Joyce enjoyed a reckless gallop whilst Brian settled for a dignified saunter. Next morning we looked around the shops at Taupo then headed for Turangi, to the premises of Tongariro White Water Rafting. We fitted out in swimming costume, wetsuit and boots, long sleeve waterproof tops, crash helmet and lifejacket. We looked a bit like Mr Michelin, but later we were glad to be so well fitted out compared with some other operators we saw on the river. We hitched the trailer with the raft (a large inflatable dinghy) to a four-wheel drive and headed out to the launching spot on the river. We were a team of five, ourselves, one other tourist, a fourth man to complete the team of paddlers, and the instructor guide. After launching and climbing in, we were given some instruction on what we had to do. We were told that it was necessary for all members of the team to do exactly as instructed in order that the raft could be negotiated safely down the rapids. We were told what instructions would be necessary, such as (paddle) forward, back, left side, and right, jump left (or right), and so on. The jump instruction was necessary in case the raft tipped to one side and it was necessary for the whole crew to throw their weight to one side to keep it upright. It also seemed the technique was sometimes used to steer the raft. We had to repeat the instructions to show we understood, and lastly we were told what to do if the raft overturned in the rapids or if we fell overboard and lost contact with the raft. By now, we were apprehensive if not downright scared. What had we let ourselves in for? The guide laughed at the serious expressions on our faces and assured us that- we would enjoy the trip. Paddling cautiously down the slow deep current we entered the first fast shallow section. Instructions were coming fast and furious and we were paddling as though our lives depended on it. It was a short but exhilarating section and we were soon into deep slow section again where we could catch our breath. We were told where our performance had been weak and were promised that the next section would he more exciting. Soon we were off again faster than ever, we were breathless from the action exertion and the excitement and alarming booms and bangs the rubber-raft made as it hit rocks both above and below water. Body heat from our exertion was washed bed away by icy jets of water constantly dousing us. The raft was of a self-bailing design, so unlike other rafts we saw, we did not have to bail out accumulated water. As we negotiated the narrow twisting path through the rapids, the raft would bank one way then another, one moment we would be going forwards, and next we would be going backwards, and sometimes sideways, paddling furiously to aim for the next gap in the rocks which was often a small waterfall. We had to wedge our feet in the raft not to loose our balance and fall out, listen for orders barked urgently by our guide, remember to breath occasionally, and take in the wonderful scenery that was whizzing around us. Each rapid was followed by a slow easy stretch where we could rest, just drifting easily with the current. We saw another raft with about a dozen people on board, which was so heavy they were bottoming on the a rapids and getting stuck. They must have been freezing because their waterproofs had no sleeves and they were bailing furiously after each rapid because their raft was filling with water. We now appreciated the tourist office recommendation. We are not sure how many separate rapids we went through, but by the time we reached our destination we were tired enough to feel we had our monies worth. Most of the route had passed through an old convict settlement and the riverside was unspoilt bush with rocky, deep gorges, which must have been much the same as first seen by the earliest European explorers. The vehicle and trailer were waiting for us at the end of the rapids and we lifted the raft onto the trailer and headed back to the office. We stripped off our gear, dried off, and had complimentary sandwiches and drinks before heading back to our accommodation for a well earned rest.


Going South-Ruapehu.

We checked out of Birkenhoff Lodge and joined Brian & Denise at their friends house their friends had gone back to work, offering their bedroom which we gratefully accepted. The weather forecast was iffy, but we decided on a hike. There seemed to be a breakdown in communications. This was apparently due to Brian of 'Lucksall’ on one hand assuming a conversation two days earlier, where a proposal to walk on Whakapapa (a ski field on Mt Ruapehu) was understood to be a firm arrangement; whereas Brian of 'Tusk' concluded the walk, now being proposed would be a bush walk in the hills near to Turangi. Brian & Denise took gear for a walk on the ice, Brian and Joyce took gear for a walk in the hot foothills. The drive to Whakapapa provided spectacular views of the snow topped mountain, and at the foot of the mountain we stopped at the visitors center to see an exhibition covering the Tongariro National Park, in which Ruapehu was located. Next we made for the ski chairlifts and Brian 'Lucks All’ asked if we would like to go up. Brian ‘Tusk' was dubious because we were not dressed for snow conditions, but Joyce was keen to go, so we agreed. The lift to the main ski runs was not in use because of maintenance, but there was a lift operational to the right hand side of the snowfields. The Brian’s took the first chair and the girls followed. It was a long lift, and we swung over ravine and gorge in a gentle but increasingly biting cool breeze. At the top, the snow was rather patchy, and there was another lift going yet further up into the clouds. This next lift took us into the permanent snowline, and often nothing could be seen due to cloud. The only thing to be heard was the gentle squeaking of the chairlift machinery. We started clambering up the rocks and snow and our body heat increased with the exertion. We were soon out of sight of the chairlift, and from time to time, we had magnificent views down the mountain, only to be wiped out by passing cloud that reduced our visibility to about l00 meters. We found a spot to have a picnic lunch and decided to see how near we could get-to the top, where there was a lake of volcanically heated water. We were limited for time by the last chairlift, which would close at 4:30 pm. We began walking along a snow filled gully, and worked our way onto a ridge beside the gully. The snow was hard, and to climb the slope it was necessary to dig a toehold into the snow. Hard tipped shoes were an asset in this situation. Brian and Denise had their hiking shoes, Brian Tusk had reasonable walking boots, but Joyce had rather soft boots that made it difficult going. Brian 'Lucks All' gave his ice stick to Joyce, and that did help get a grip so that reasonable progress was maintained. It was the first time the 'Tusks' had walked a snow ridge up a mountain with steep drop offs each side, and the experience was exhilarating. Joyce had a light jacket, Brian a: pullover, but the cold was forgotten in the exertion of the climb. Eventually as the two Brians climbed ahead, the clouds became thicker and the weather gloomier, and the two parties lost sight of each other. We could not have been so far from the top, but were running out of time. Halting on some flat rocks, with visibility now perhaps only 20 meters, the Brians waited for the girls to catch up and discussed whether it was prudent to continue. It was decided that we should not risk being late for the last lift down the mountain, so we started our climb down. It was faster climbing down. We reached the bottom of the ridge and snowline, and looked around d for familiar landmarks. At first every thing seemed ok but the top of the chairlift did not appear when expected. Visibility was poor and it was impossible to see down the mountain to get our bearings. We came upon a sheer drop where we could not climb down any further, and Brian 'Lucksall’ did a reconnaissance while the rest of us had a brief rest. We could occasionally hear the chairlift machinery and could hear what seemed to be some workmen hammering, but Brian ‘Lucks All’ an experienced mountaineer, reckoned that sounds could be a misleading guide to direction on a mountain. We had a compass and a ski trail map, and we thought we may have tended too much to the left when we came off the snow ridge, so it was agreed we should try moving more to the right. We had to climb back up for a distance before we could find our way around the sheer drop. Soon we were heading downwards again and to the right, clambering over boulders and down ledges. We were leaving the snow behind us but it was starting to shower. We were getting cold, damp, and running short of time, and we now seemed to be much lower than where we expected to find the lift station. Out of the gloom, we saw a tower and the cables of a chairlift. With renewed spirit we checked our map, but it seemed -that this was not the lift we had come up on, but another lift far to the right, which was closed for maintenance. We scrambled down the slope following the towers. One tower would just come in. sight as the other-disappeared in the gloomy cloud. The cloud became less dense and then we saw the outline of buildings, and the noise of men at work was becoming louder. We had found one of the lift stations that were closed, but a half dozen workmen were working on a big tank below. It was just 4:30 pm, the time of the last chair. Brian 'Lucks All' walked down a rough track to where the men were working, and asked if they were staying overnight, or going down. The chair, was closed to the, public but they were' going down at 5:30pm, and would take-us with them. We waited, sheltering from the cold showers, in the increasing gloom. There were two quad chairs available for ten persons. Four of us on the chair, and one -workman would ride on the back. So that he I had something to sit on, we would have the safety bar up, and we should take care to hold on. Before the chair started off, a huge acetylene-welding bottle was placed onto Brian & Joyce’s lap and we were, told to hang on to it. The showers changed to rain and there was now a strong cold wind. The chair was swinging, and jerking in an alarming manner. We hardly dared to breath as we looked down, the sheer drop without so much as a safety bar between us and a fall. We arrived at the bottom feeling somewhat out of breath, and walked to the next' chairlift. After some, delay, we got onto a double chairlift, this time without our welding bottle, and with the safety bar down. We swung our -way in a strong wind heavy rain that went straight through our clothes like icy pins. By the time we reached the bottom we were soggy with cold rain, but quite relieved not to be facing the prospect of spending the night on the mountain. We drove home with the car heater on high. Our main regret is that we did not, set out earlier that day so that we could have made it to-the top of Ruapehu. Next time, good boots and 'waterproofs will be part of our kit. The sequel to this story is that a few months later, at the beginning of the ski season, Mt Ruapehu erupted sending ash high into the air, and spreading it for scores of miles down-wind. The ski fields were closed and nearby dwellings were evacuated and airports were closed.


Going South-The flood

Next day we had a walk around Lake Rotopunamu, looked around the Tokaanu Thermal area, indulged in hot thermal baths. Before returning to the house we picked wild blackberries for a pie that evening. Next day the plan was to drive to Whanganui to collect Heather, and then to Wellington to meet up with Bob. They would all then fly to the South Island for their Milford Track expedition, while we borrowed the car. We took the scenic route through Whanganui National Park, following the banks of the Whanganui River. We had stops to admire the spectacular views of the winding valley, and to visit a restored old flourmill. We met up with Heather at their farmhouse, had a brief look around the town, and then drove on to Wellington. That evening we all had dinner together in an Indian restaurant, and we took over the 'Lucks All's' car for the five days they would be away. Next day we had a drive around Wellington, and ended up at the Ferry Terminal making enquiries about ferries to the South Island. We found a good deal could be had on a four-day return ticket, but it was more expensive to take the car across than it would be to hire a car. After much debate we made bookings to go by foot on the ferry, and hire a car in Picton, all at special low excursion rates. There was a boat show on in Wellington so we spent-the rest of the day at the show. It was a small affair with few manufacturers represented. Later in the backpackers TV lounge we saw a three second news item that told of floods at Whangarei, and of yachts torn from their moorings. It was too late and too far to drive to Whangarei to see if Tusk had been harmed. We had to wait until the next morning to phone the marina. Ominously, we could not get an answer when we phoned the marina office, but we then found a telephone message from Brian and Denise on the notice board. They had seen the TV news earlier last evening and phoned the Marina Manager at home. Our boats were not affected by the floods and were unharmed. When we got back to Whangarei a week later, we found that the moorings we were told to move to before we left Whangarei had taken the brunt of the flood. Tree trunks hit them and a wooden bridge swept down the river by the flash flood. Piles were bent over and the mooring rings slipped off the tops of the piles and yachts floated free in the raging torrent. Several yachts had significant damage.


Going South-South Island

We caught the ferry crossing the notorious Cook Strait to Picton. It was a dull and menacing morning but the weather was moderate, and became bright and cheerful as we passed though the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound into Picton. We collected our car, and then looked around the backpackers’ lodges for accommodation. We settled on 'The Villa', a restored colonial style weatherboard house. We had a double room, with Laura Ashley type drapes and quilts, a free breakfast and free use of bicycles if we so wanted; for only $32 a night (7 pounds each). After perusing the tourist activities available, we booked a self guided ferry trip/walk/mountain bike ride for the next day, and then used the rest of the day seeing Picton, the nearby town Blenheim and the surrounding area by car. The weather was perfect for our trip next day. The ferry took us around all the inlets that had public wharfs before it arrived at Mistletoe Bay, the start of our walk We walked about four hours along the Queen Charlotte Track to Anakiwa, where we picked up mountain bikes-and biked 3 hours back to Picton. The people who hired the bikes were very interesting and we lingered talking too long over tea, and then found many hills slowed us down. We arrived at Picton well after dark having negotiated the last few hills in pitch-black conditions without lights. Luckily the road was little used by other traffic. Next day we drove to Nelson, the largest town in the area. We looked around and followed a scenic drive featured on a pamphlet provided at the Nelson Information Bureau. We stayed at a modern backpackers lodge in Nelson, and started back to Picton the next morning. Back in Picton we wanted to look up old friends who had belonged to the Saudi Arabia Red Sea Sailing Association at the same time as us. We located their newspaper/stationary shop in the main street and had an hour or two reminiscing and passing on news about mutual friends, before we joined our Ferry back to Wellington. At Wellington we met up with Brian & Denise and headed north. We stopped at Otorohanga Bird Aviary, to have a look at the excellent Kiwi House, and other native birds. The Kiwi, the national symbol of New Zealand, is a groundbird and only active at night. The casual watcher in the wild practically never sees it. Otorohanga has a low light aviary especially designed that, you can see these birds in a natural type environment Once your eyes become accustomed to the low level fight you can watch them grubbing around for food. It is quite intriguing when you first catch sight of these unusual birds in the dim light. We stopped overnight at Cambridge, and hired a cabin on a caravan site. Next day after a stop at Gulf Harbour Marina to visit friends we arrived back at Whangarei.


Section 21 Boycott.

When we arrived at the Whangarei Marina we walked- straight into a protest meeting held by the visiting foreign cruisers. In February the New Zealand government had passed a new Maritime Transport Act, the purpose of which was to reform the commercial maritime law of New Zealand. But embedded in the law, and never publicized or discussed, nor the subject of consultation with affected parties was a Section 21. This required that 'no pleasure craft may depart from a port in New Zealand for a place outside New Zealand unless the Director (0f Maritime Safety) is notified in writing of the proposed voyage, and person in command, that the craft and its safety equipment are adequate for the voyage, and that the crew is adequate, and the craft and master comply with any relevant maritime rules'. Throughout the world, this area of responsibility has always been that of the skipper or captain of the craft. NZ is now introducing special rules and regulations and introducing compulsory inspections and making a fee of $75 for the inspection. Yachts belonging to NZ nationals have been subject to similar regulations for some years. The regulations they were obliged to conform with include detailed provisions for basic Standards structural features, accommodation, general equipment, navigation equipment, emergency equipment, safety equipment, engine and fuel tanks and so on. There are about 150 numbered clauses and sub clauses, quite a few of which go into considerable detail. Unified opposition by the visiting overseas yachts has resulted in the Maritime Safety Authority introducing a simpler set of rules, allowing visiting yachts that have completed an international voyage under the same command during the last 12 months, to carry out their own inspection against an official checklist and witnessed by a government inspector. Penalties, if an owner cannot comply for any reason, or makes a false declaration, could involve a fine of up to $10,000 or 1 months jail. If a vessel were not allowed to leave because of the regulations the crew would have to leave without the vessel when their visa expired, a non-complying vessel would not be accepted as a reason for extension of a visa. A vessel not complying with the NZ regulations, and remaining in NZ for a period longer than that allowed for temporary importation under the customs rules, would become subject to payment of importation duties, and could be confiscated by the customs if not paid by the due date. Most cruising yachtsmen are still opposed to the simplified rules and decided to fight this legislation in the courts, and by calling for a boycott of New Zealand. The court case is based on the NZ legal requirement that all affected parties should be consulted before new legislation is enacted. This was clearly not done in respect to the overseas visiting yachtsmen, and several international yachting magazines and the British-Royal Yachting Association have contributed cash to the fund set up by the visiting yachtsmen to finance this action, which still going through the courts. The boycott; by yachts has at the time of writing (1994) been more successful than expected by the NZ government, but less successful than hoped by the cruising yachtsmen. If other countries were to enact similar regulations on yachts temporarily stopping in their countries, then it would mean the end of cruising for most people. We spent many days assisting any way we could to oppose this legislation. The fight is still going on, with the court case still being delayed.


Friends Ca11

Friend Alfie from Ireland flew into NZ for only two nights on a business trip. He phoned Patricia from the airport, to see if he could meet up with us. Patricia knew we were travelling and that was nearly the end of our opportunity to meet. We are out of space to give the whole story but, Patricia had another thought and had Alfie paged at the airport to give him an invitation to her house for dinner, then phoned Whangarei to try to get a message to us. We got the message from a yachtie who answered the ringing of a public phone box in the marina and did not even know us, but took the trouble to locate us. We phoned Alfie to find this was his only evening in Auckland. We borrowed a friend’s car (all hire cars were already rented for the weekend) and drove 175Km to Auckland, arriving just in time for dinner. We had a very interesting evening together, thanks to Patricia.


Passage New Zealand to Fiji

We left Westhaven, on a bright morning and got fuel at the TEXACO jetty, then headed north. We were uncertain about the weather, so when the Coastguard VHF gave a strong wind warning with northerly winds we decided to put into Bon Accord harbour at Kawau Island to wait for more favourable conditions. Strong wind warnings changed to gale warnings as we sat tight in an anchorage. After a couple of days Brian developed a toothache so we decided that we had to find a dentist. We motored over to' Sandspit’, and got a lift in a farm truck into Warkworth, there being no local taxies. The problem was due to a loose tooth and gum infection, so the tooth was extracted on the spot. The dentist was quite positive that all would now be OK and we could leave for Fiji the next day if we wanted. We had a day moored at Sandspit then crossed back to Kawau to top up our water tanks. We set off with strong south winds forecast. About a day out, a low formed unexpectedly over North Island and reinforced our strong winds into gale force winds from the southwest. Brian’s toothache was not showing much improvement and Joyce became seasick, having left taking any anti seasickness remedies until it was too late. We jogged along at about 3 knots with only a storm jib, conserving energy and waiting for an improvement in the conditions. It became apparent that Brian had an abscess on a tooth only two away from the one that was extracted. On radio advice from a dentist on a sailing yacht on passage from NZ to Tonga, Brian started a course of antibiotics. The abscess was slow to respond but did eventually ease, and stated to improve. Fortunately so did the weather and we had mostly moderate winds on the stern, until two days out of Suva, we then had the backside of a high-pressure area, which gave us northerly headwinds. We managed to hold a fair course, being pushed off to the west a bit, until the wind eased to light and moderate in the coll area between two highs and we then motored for a day and a night to get into Suva. Fortunately, we had stocked up with twice our normal tank capacity of diesel in order that we would not be unduly affected by foul weather or prolonged calms. It was great, to get a shower at the Royal Suva Yacht Club.

Summary Of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To:                 Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/kts

2Dec/6Dec      At Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.

7Dec               Russell                             2       1        1      None              Fine calm day.

 9Dec              Roberton lisle                  8       2        2      Fine day, not much wind.

 10Dec            Wangamumu                 17       5        3      Var/0-1 5       Abandoned whaling station.

11Dec             Whangaruru                   13       4        4      Delightful anchorage, Racehorse River

12Dec             Tutakaka                        20       6        6      S/6-10)           Motored all the way.

13Dec             Rarowharo Bay             55     10        9      SW/6-15        Motors sailing, a fine reach

15Dec             Bon Accord                   27       7        6      SE/5-12         Motor sailing in light winds

16Dec             Auckland                       25       6        6      S/2-8              Calm fine weather

29Dec             Rakino-Auck1and         24       6        6      N5-12            Calm, fishing trip

1Jan                 Waiheke-Auckland        32       6        6      S-SW/10-15   Round day trip

18Jan               Rangitoto                         7       2        2      E20                Headwind, uncomfortable

19Jan               Waiheke                           7       2        2      E10                Dull, showery weather

29Jan               Westhaven Marina         12       3        1      E10                Cool, partly cloudy

5Feb                Whangaparoa                 17       5        1      NW/15-22     Blustery rough conditions

6Feb                Bon Accord                   14       3        3      Var/0-5          Calm, fine conditions

9Feb -              The Nook, Parua Bay    40     10      10      Var/0-3          Calm, cloudy and hazy

10Feb              Whangarei                     10       3        3      Var/0-3          Calm, negotiating shallows

9May               The Nook, Parua Bay    11       3        3      S/10-15          Fine day, settled conditions

10May             Mansion House Bay-     21       5        5      Var/2-12        Cool and cloudy

11May             Westhaven, Auckland   31       8        8      None/Var5     Fine clear warm day

25May             Bon Accord                   30       7        7      Var/0-6          Fine and calm    -   -

30May             Sandspit                           5       1        1      NW25            Blustery

1Jun                Smelting House Bay        5       1        1      SW20            Blustery, uncomfortable

1Jun/14Jun      Suva, Fiji                   1089   330      78      Var/0-35        Variable, grim to fine














 Chapter 16


7 Hour spinnakar run.

See ‘Passage-vanuatu to New Calidonia



The Islands

            The New Zealand and Australian sailors often refer to the islands to the North of their countries as 'The Islands', as though there were no other islands in the world. If sailing around the world is not your ambition, it would be easy to spend the rest of your life exploring the many islands and countless beautiful anchorages of this region.


Suva, Another Crossroads.

Suva is one of those places holding an almost mythical attraction to circumnavigators. Almost every serious sailor seems to have passed through. The reality of Suva was somewhat; more down to earth. We arrived early morning, and shared the entrance channel with an Australian warship arriving at the same time. Heading towards the town you have a view of warehouses and heaps of containers on the commercial dock, and to the left of the docks there is a ramshackle collection of shipyards. On the right of the docks are high-rise buildings of no particular distinction, and a seafront promenade with a few grey featureless buildings. We called Port Control on the radio to ask where we should go to obtain customs and immigration clearance. We were told we should moor up to the main dock next to a large container ship. It was low tide, and the dock was so high that we would have gone under it. We looked around the dock, and the only ladder ended at least six feet above our deck and we could not reach it. We called Port Control and told them we were too small to tie to the dock; we will anchor out and come in by dinghy. It was possible to see a small landing stage by the-promenade, so we took the dinghy over to this concrete landing stage. It proved to be dilapidated and half collapsed. Brian disembarked with the ships papers and Joyce took the dinghy back to Tusk. The wind was light at this time. It was a short walk around to the docks, but it was a bad day to arrive in Suva. There were four cargo boats requiring clearance, an unusual occurrence. It was late afternoon before a customs officer was available to deal with Tusk. There were many forms to fill in for customs, immigration, quarantine, health, and Ministry of Agriculture. Whilst the waiting and form filling was going on in the Port Control building, Brian witnessed a container ship leaving the dock, colliding and tearing a 3Oft gash in another ship that was also tied to the dock. As the day progressed the wind increased from moderate to very strong, making Brian apprehensive about Tusks safety. We had dropped the anchor as a temporary measure without our usual 'digging in' process, expecting only to be off the boat an hour. Tusk was hidden from the Port Control building by the Australian war-ship that was now moored at the end of the dock. When the paperwork was finished, Brian raced out of the docks to the promenade to make sure Tusk was all right. She was pitching violently in the increasing swell but all seemed well. The next thought was to get some money, but a quick march to the nearest bank proved fruitless. It closed 40 minutes ago. Back on Tusk, Joyce had been so apprehensive about the increase in wind it was not necessary for Brian to attract her attention. She was already pushing off in the dinghy as Brian arrived. Joyce could not get the outboard started as the dinghy was bucking-in the swell so she valiantly rowed across to the landing. The swell was now breaking over the concrete staging and it took impeccable timing to get alongside, get Brian in the dinghy, change rowing positions so that Brian could row, and get away from the landing-stage before we were smashed into it. The recalcitrant outboard would still not start and the row back was exhausting against wind and waves, but we made it. When aboard, Joyce explained how worried she had been. She had let off more chain and tried to get the engine running as a precaution, but could not turn the key. In fact, the starting switch had seized and it took five minutes with a can- of penetrating oil to free the mechanism, which had become filled with seawater during the trip. At 5pm, Brian had his first coffee and-food since breakfast, and then found a spot to anchor outside the Royal Suva Yacht Club. We collapsed into bed and slept for 12 hours, such at the joys of yachting.


Suva Town

We had mixed feelings about Suva at first, but the -longer we stayed the more we liked it. It is cosmopolitan with a mixed population of Fijian, Indian, Chinese, and Europeans. But the overall impression is that of a poor and undeveloped nation, that knew how to enjoy themselves. Fijians are partygoers, and love fun and music. We found them friendly, polite and helpful. Native Fijians arrived thousands of years before the birth of Christ. The Europeans first visited Fiji in the 17th century and the land became mostly notorious for its dangerous reefs and its warlike inhabitants that indulged in cannibalism. European settlement of Fiji seems to have been slow, but by the late 19th century, European settlers grew sugar. Indians and others were imported as labourers for the sugar cane fields on a 5-year agreement. After 5 years these imported workers became free of obligation to their employer, some returned home, but many stayed. The Indians that stayed eventually prospered in their own businesses, and became involved in politics. In 1970 Fiji gained its independence from British colonial rule to become a democracy within the British Commonwealth. Fiji developed as a good example of a multi-cultural democracy until 1987 when the Fijian Alliance party, that had been the majority, was defeated by a coalition comprised mostly of Indian dominated parties. Racial tensions then came to the surface due to the fears of the Fijians that they were losing control of Fijian land and that their culture, which is very much involved with the land, was under threat. Traditional Fijian culture has been steadfastly maintained throughout the rural areas and islands and Fijian leaders pointed to how the Maoris and Hawaiian cultures have been decimated by foreign rule. As soon as the new Indian dominated government took its place in the Fiji parliament the Fijian army took control in a bloodless coup. The rest of the world quickly condemned this move, and Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth. Attempts to bring about reconciliation and return to democracy failed and the new rulers declared Fiji a republic. Developments now revolve around a new constitution that will guarantee Fijians a majority government in their own country. Indians can carry on with their lives and business much as before, although there has been a drain of better educated away from Fiji due to lack of confidence in the future. Most foreign aid has been reinstated, but although Fiji would like to rejoin the British Commonwealth, it cannot do so until democracy is reinstated. None of this is apparent to the casual visitor, but when you talk to a Fijian there is a wariness towards the Indians, and when you talk to the Indians there is a resentment towards the Fijians, but none of this is expressed openly.


Suva Storm.

Suva anchorage is in a lagoon surrounded on three sides by land, but with only a low reef to provide protection from the South. One afternoon, Joyce called Brian on deck to have a look at a bank of dense black clouds approaching from seaward. The breeze was still moderate, the morning weather forecast gave no warning of abnormal weather, but the clouds heading our way looked evil. Joyce suggested we should bring aboard our dinghy in case it was a nasty squall. Brian thought no, nothing was forecast, no need to. After watching for a few minutes, Brian decided it might be a good idea after all to bring the outboard motor on board, and to unscrew the filler caps of Tusks water tank, so we could catch some rainwater. While this was being done, amid spectacularly increasing gusts of wind, we decided without further discussion to haul the dinghy onto the cabin roof. As this was being done we were hit by very strong winds and torrential horizontal rain, and it was already apparent that half the anchored fleet around us was on the move, dragging their anchors towards the mud flats behind. We grappled in the blinding rain to let more chain out, increasing the scope from five to ten times depth. There was a trimaran anchored behind us preventing us from letting out more chain. A large steel German ketch was swinging wildly on its anchor and dragging, down on us. Its hatches were open but no sign of the crew. We were ready to fend off, which probably would have been a futile operation, when the crew suddenly piled onto deck. They got the engine started, motored forward, and hauled up their anchor. They missed us by a couple of meters and motored to windward up to the other end of the harbour. In a short time the swell had built up to the point that waves were coming clear over the bow and solid water was sweeping over the deck with every wave. We have been anchored in exposed situations in gale force winds before, but never had the bow below water like this. We remembered too late, that we had opened the freshwater tanks, which were now being filled with muddy seawater. We screwed the caps closed, but were to late. The next boat to cause us problems was a small single-handed sloop on our port side. He was dragging and swinging wildly on a rope rode and trying to use his engine, to keep control and prevent dragging further. Eventually someone from another boat was able to get aboard to assist and he was able to re-anchor. On the VHF radio, boats already forced on to the mud flats were calling for he1p, but the wave conditions now made it unsafe for small craft to attempt to assist. Unmanned yachts were dragging through the anchorage, banging into securely anchored yachts, sometimes tripping their anchors and creating more mayhem. Owners still on the shore watched helplessly, conditions being too rough to use their dinghies to attempt to re-board their boats. Most of the dragging yachts came to rest as soon as their keels dragged on the mud. It was fortunate the wind was in the direction of the mud flats and not towards the reef. We were soaked to the skin, there being no time to don waterproofs. After some time things seemed to become 'steady state', and we were able to sort out some waterproofs to keep us warm, put the kettle on for a coffee, and listen to the other boats problems on the VHF radio. Before the storm, we had been anchored between the fleet and the mud flats taking advantage of our shallow draft, but now most yachts were between us, and the mud, presumably actually aground on the mud. Just before sunset, conditions eased slightly and yachties were able to negotiate the still considerable seas in stable inflatable type tenders, and the Yacht Club launch was able to get out to assist with the unmanned yachts. With conditions continuing to improve, most yachts got themselves off the mud on their own, or sometimes with a little help. Fortunately the tide was rising. One of the unmanned yachts had bumped its way through the other boats in the anchorage, scratching other boats and damaging its own rudder on another boats chain. It fetched, up on the mud, and during the torrential rain, was boarded by (it is thought) some locals, who broke in and stole valuable loose items they could find in the cabin and lockers, without being seen. It took two powerful launches and more than a dozen dinghies and tenders, including ourselves, to tow this yacht off the mud after dark. The owners had been at the cinema oblivious of the changing conditions.

The weather forecasters explained the next day that the problem was a trough that deepened unexpectedly as is passed across the Kandavu channel. It just goes to show the best weather forecast is obtainable by looking at the sky.


Kadavu-O1d Fiji.

Suva is a port and a capital town, full of economic migrants, businesses, foreigners, and of course tourists. Fijians working and living in Suva often come from the remote islands to find education and work, and are mostly free from the traditional pressures imposed by family and village. Due to these factors, the customs of Fiji seem to be mostly abandoned in Suva except where they are maintained for touristic or ritualistic purposes. On the other hand, the off lying islands are almost exclusively populated with native Fijians, and the traditional family and village customs are still strongly maintained. We decided to visit Kandavu, an island group some 30 miles south of Suva, where Fijian life and customs closely follows the traditional way. We found some of these customs quite delightful and some rather bothersome. The Kandavu passage is a difficult stretch of water to cross. It is often a heavy weather beat to windward and can be wet and rough. We have known yachts to wait for weeks for favourable conditions, only for their patience to run out before their chance came. Our fortune was to have no wind at all, so we were obliged to motor across. The autohelm gave some problems, so we zig zaged a bit until that was resolved by changing to our spare. Then our cooling water alarm sounded, we had to stop and clear weed out of our engine cooling water intake. We spotted the Astrolabe Reef Lighthouse quite early but had some difficulty in identifying the entrance through the reef until we were quite close, inside the lagoon we anchored off Dravuni Island, with the weather looking increasingly grey and gloomy, and the wind filling in from the west. During the night, the wind went south and increased to 20 knots. We rolled on our anchor, unable to land on this beautiful island because the surf on the beach was too rough. We spent another night waiting to see if conditions would moderate. In the morning we watched local boats having difficulty landing on the beach, so we weighed anchor to seek a more protected anchorage. On the: island of Ono, in the Nangera Village Bay we found reasonable shelter from wind and swell, and the company of five other yachts. We were invited to join all the boats for drinks on yacht 'Skywave' that evening, and received a briefing on the local customs from boats that had been there for several days. The most important custom for a stranger visiting a Fijian village for the first time is the Sevu Sevu. Sevu Sevu is the offering of a gift of Kava root to the Chief when you first arrive at a village. If your gift is accepted you receive in return the protection of the chief when you are on his land. The Kava root is pummelled and ground into small pieces, then wrapped in a straining cloth and squeezed in a bowl of water to extract the essence of the root. The result is a drink called Yaqona, or Kava. Most Europeans compare the colour and texture to dirty washing up water. It has a slightly bitter taste and a mild narcotic effect on the mind. Its effect is to give a relaxed rather mellow feeling similar to drinking a small amount of alcohol. Drinking excessive quantities can cause blotches to appear on the skin. Traditional Sevu Sevu would normally require the visitor to sit with the chief in his house and share a drink of Yaqona, but nowadays some chiefs will accept the gift of Kava root without the offer of hospitality and Yaqona. All the land in Fiji is owned communially by the villagers and is ruled by the village Chief, but is often administered by the village Mayor. The Chiefs position is usually hereditary, whereas the Mayor is a government appointment, and may require the completion of a government course on land and village management resulting in the award of an academic diploma. The mayor is subordinate to the chief, but he will usually be most involved in the day to day running of the village affairs in respect of farming, food collection and communal maintenance. He is responsible to see that things are done properly and that everyone in the village does a proper share of the work, and receives just reward. When we rowed ashore, the village Mayor met us. Where Fijian customs are maintained, strangers must always have a guide, and are not normally allowed to wander around the island or village on their own. This can be rather disconcerting when you prefer to follow your own inclinations rather than be shown where to go, but then, the Fijians do look upon the whole island, or surrounding district as their home, so that is the way you should look at it. You do not expect to invite yourself into a stranger’s home and have free range to go anywhere you want. The Mayor accepted our Kava root on behalf of the chief, and assigned a young girl as our guide, and we were shown around the village, the gardens where the food was grown, and the school. Next day we were invited to a pre-wedding party. For several days before a village wedding there is feasting and partying, music making, dancing, and drinking of Kava. We were met by the mayor and a group of children at the beach and led to the house where the celebration was being held. The house was little more than a large strongly built shack with the floor a foot or two off the ground, with several small rooms and a corrugated iron roof. The women were outside preparing food and filling great metal pots boiling on open wood fires. Other food could be seen cooking in banana leaves on the coals. The men were inside playing guitars and other simple instruments, singing and passing a cup of Kava around the group. Children were outside playing, and some were pummelling the Kava root so that the great Kava bowl could be kept filled with the addictive grey liquid that was being drunks from half coconut shells used as cups. Everybody was happy and swayed to the rough rhythm of the music and occasionally there was a little dancing The local girls did not dance so much, but Joyce was asked to partner with the village men a few times. Eventually we were encouraged to move to the- edge of the room and a large white cloth was laid out on the floor. Bowls of food were placed on the cloth until there was no more room. There was chicken, fish, goat and pig, yam, breadfruit, cassava, plantain, squash, spinach we think, and rice and other items we were not sure about. We all ate with our fingers, and as plates were cleared, more plates of fruit replaced them. After the feast, the party resumed with more music, singing and drinking from the Kava bowl. The sun was soon low in the sky and we offered our last congratulations and best wishes to the couple and made our final farewell to the village.



We left the village of Nangera and sailed a short distance to Nambouwain Bay, also on Ono Island. It was cloudy, bleak looking day, which also made the bay look rather bleak. We had a visit from two young men in a fishing boat from the Nangera village. They stayed and talked for a couple of hours. When they left, we settled down to a calm, but rather rolly night. Rolly anchorages make sleep difficult, so we rose still rather tired early next morning and just as we sat down to breakfast we felt a bump as Tusks keel hit a rock. It was low tide and a wind change had swung us in towards the bay and we hit an isolated rock. We quickly fired up the engine and moved anchor further on in the bay before we continued our breakfast. We needed a better-protected anchorage than this so we were soon under way, motor sailing into strong headwinds         and a nasty chop to Kavola Bay on the main island of Kandavu. The drive shaft of the electric autopilot unscrewed itself from the drive mechanism, and the GPS stopped working. Both incidents were aggravating, but of no serious concern on this short voyage. High mountains around Kavola pacified the elements and as we entered more deeply into the bay it became a flat calm. We anchored near some mangroves, good distance from the nearby village. We had a good nights sleep. Next morning a man in a dugout canoe came for a chat, and two other small local boats came alongside to pass the time of day. Mid afternoon a man with two small children in a dugout canoe came alongside and introduced himself as the village Mayor. He asked if he could come aboard, so on they came, and while the kid had a soft drink the Mayor inspected our papers. After finding all was in order he broached the subject of us going ashore to meet the Chief. We tried to make excuses to put it off until the next morning but the mayor countered this by saying he would busy in the garden (meaning the fields). So we agreed that Joyce would stay Tusk and Brian would go ashore to meet the Chief. The Mayor got back into the dugout and paddled back to the village, while we launched our own dinghy off the cabin roof and Brian rowed after him with the two children and bunch of Kava root. At the village the Mayor explained that the Chief was still at church and that we would wait at the Mayors house until the Chief had finished. The Mayors house had a wood frame, plywood walls and a corrugated iron roof, and the kitchen was a shed annex with a wood fire. We sat in the Mayors house a talked and had lemon tea and cake, until word came that the Chief had returned from church and was ready. Brian was lead through the village to the chief’s house and introduced to the Chief. The bunch of Kava root was offered to the Chief. The Kava was placed in front of the chief and after a long and solemn speech, all in Fijian; he picked up the Kava and handed it to a young man nearby. With the Mayor now acting as -translator, the Chief asked if Brian would stay for a bowl of Kava. He agreed, and the young man with the bunch of kava, stripped the bark or outer coating, and then pummelled the kava with a mortar and pestle. When the Kava was reduced to powder it was put in a muslin bag and the man worked it with his hands in the water to produce a grey slushy liquid. This took quite a bit of time. The Chiefs house had brick and concrete walls, there were about 10 people sat around the room, with people coming and going throughout. The time was filled with much chatter and laughter mainly from a woman and the Chief, all in Fijian. According to my interpreter, much of the amusement and talk was in connection with the Chiefs sermon in church earlier. When the Kava was ready it was ladled into coconut shells and passed around the group. Brian had two of these bowls, and then excused himself from the gathering, rowing back to Tusk only just before dusk, and to the relief of Joyce waiting on board. We had been told that the local ferries often carried produce such as bread and frozen meat to sell to the villagers when they stopped to drop passengers, we were keen to buy fresh bread and meat because none was available in the primitive Island shops. After a few days a ferry came into the bay to unload items the villagers had bought from Suva. Brian rowed out to the ferry to see what it might have to sell. It anchored in the bay and the villagers’ goods were off loaded into small open fishing boats powered-with outboards. Brian had to stand by clear of the ferry while this was going on. To watch five or six men grappling with a Welsh

Dresser (a large crockery display cabinet with glass doors) to get it through a door in the side of the ship, then down a ladder type chute, into a rather unstable small open boat already full of women and children, was funny enough. But the sight of four men unloading an enormous squealing pig in a slatted wooden crate was hysterically funny, at least for those watchers standing clear of the droppings and urine trickling onto the heads of the, two men taking the lower end of the heavy and almost unmanageable crate. When the pig was on its way to the shore Brian was able to board the ferry and have a look into the fridge. All the steak had been sold but there was some frozen chicken. On the long row back to Tusk, the Mayor passed furiously paddling his dugout canoe towards the ferry. But the ferry waits for no man, and it steamed out of the bay before he got there.



Nukubalavu Adventure Resort

When we left Kavola we worked our way around the eastern corner of Kandavu Island. This area is protected fully by the offshore reefs, but requires careful navigation due to the numerous isolated reefs. The channel is marked with beacons fitted with shapes to indicate which side is safe water, and the channel is quite zig zagy. Normally the water is clear and the reefs become visible as you approach them, but you cannot count on this because a heavy downpour of rain can turn the water a murky brown due to the run off of soi1 and dead vegetation from the steep and thickly forested land. We anchored at the entrance of a bay known as Naisogonikino. A small village could be seen far away at the inner end of the long narrow bay. Two other boats, Skywave and Slipaway were anchored between the distant village and us. Late in-the afternoon, Jay from Skywave came alongside and invited us next day for a dive, and lunch at the Nukubalavu Resort, which we had passed on the way to our anchorage. We declined the dive, but accepted the lunch, and arrangements were that the resort launch would collect us after Jay returned from his dive, and would deliver us back to our boats after the lunch. Next day, the Nukubalavu boat collected us as planned and took us along the coast to the resort. This was a charming but very basic native cabin type resort catering mainly for scuba divers and walkers, and described itself as an adventure resort. We had heard on the radio the previous week of two divers that were lost in the same storm that hit our anchorage at Suva. They were diving when the storm arrived without warning and the driver of the launch was anchored waiting for the divers to surface. The boatman was alarmed at the sudden extraordinary increase in wind and the rapidly building seas and feared for his own safety and that of the boat, so he ran for safety. When the divers surfaced there was no boat and huge waves, and they were far from land. They struggled to the nearest shore, by which time it was nearly dark, and found what shelter they could in the -forest behind the beach. They were reported missing on the national radio and search parties were organized: They were not found until the next morning, and must have felt they had more than their monies worth of adventure by then. The resort they were diving from was Nukubalavu. Our lunch was excellent. It was served on a long table in the open, but with a palm leaf sunshade. We had cold beer; fresh Rock Cod speared that day by Jay on his dive, and plentiful tropical vegetables and salad with fruit and coffee to finish. As much as we could eat for the two of us was $21, including drinks and coffee. When the resort manager invited us to join them the next day, together with an afternoon trip down the coast to a remote village for a Meke (Fiji word for a native party) we jumped at the offer. Our lunch at the resort the next day was again excellent, and while we were waiting for the food we watched one of the locals skinning and cleaning a Moray Eel. Moray must be prepared for the pot very carefully otherwise it can be toxic. We were told that Moray eel had been served to the guests the week or so before and they were all poisoned, and we wondered if the aforementioned divers had been involved in this other 'adventure'. Little did we know that our 'adventure' was about to begin. The resort launch was actually just an open Yamaha utility/fishing boat with a few boards athwart ships for people to sit on. It was the longest Yamaha we had seen, not far off 30 ft, and had one big outboard motor on the back. Two fit looking Fijian men operated it, and the passengers consisted of ourselves, Jay and Barbara, and two other guests from the resort whom we were now getting to know, and the resort manager. He was an ex-hippy, of the bearded prophet type according to a photo portrait hanging in the resort bar. The weather was a touch cool, some cloud appearing, the wind was moderate and the sea was calm. The village was further than we thought, about flve miles, and the ride was of great interest to us because we intended taking Tusk through these reefs soon, so this was a very useful preview. The reefs look formidable on a chart; but the channel seemed to be adequately marked with unlit beacons, so long as the water was clear and the edges of the reefs were visible. When we arrived at the village we were welcomed by the villagers, and met other guests that had walked overland from the resort using the mountain paths and camping overnight. We were guided towards the chiefs house, which was the largest house in the village. Our Kava was handed over and we could see some Kava was already prepared and a few men were sitting in the corner passing around half coconut bowls of Kava and playing musical instruments and singing. The house did not seem to have any rooms but was open plan and our attention was particu1ar1y drawn to the four-poster bed draped with tine white mosquito netting, it looked so incongruous in the otherwise simple surroundings. As the party warmed up and dancing began the three men sitting around the huge wood Kava bowl remained looking very serious, almost sinister, and one was reminded of the fact that it was only about 1867 when a certain Reverend Baker was killed, and cooked, and eaten, by the remote hill people of the Fiji mainland. We are glad to, say the hosts were a happy and friendly crowd and we were made most welcome. Meanwhile the weather seemed to be undergoing a change. It became cloudier, there was a quick heavy shower, then some more persistent rain, thunder and an increasing wind, and it was becoming quite gloomy outside. We became a little uneasy, but did not worry since it was now getting late, and we expected we would soon leave in order to negotiate the reefs back to our boats before it got dark. At about an hour before sunset, the resort manager stood up and made a short speech of thanks on behalf of the guests he had bought to the Meke. The Chief then stood up and made a speech in Fijian, apparently thanking the guests for honouring his village with their visit and extolling the virtues of friendship, and went on, and on, maybe for twenty minutes. Then it was proposed there should be one last pass of the Kava bowls before everybody left so it took more time to stir the Kava, to serve it into the coconut bowls, and to pass them all out to the whole group. Meanwhile the sun had already set behind the hills and it was starting to get dark. By the time we were standing knee deep in the water ready to climb aboard our launch, we had to use torches to see what we were doing, and the wind was gusting viciously though the tops of the trees. The prospect of negotiating the passages between the reefs in such conditions was daunting. The launch was more crowded on the way hack because the walkers were returning with us, and there were now four Fijian youths on the boat, acting as lookouts/pilots. As we gathered speed the weak lights in the village quickly disappeared in heavy rain, and we were hit by strong winds and waves as we headed for the open lagoon. Frankly, the trip back bordered on the terrifying. We were skimming along in this large open boat, on a foul black night, with a steersman and pilots all having drunk liberal amounts of Kava, and bits of reef and rocks briefly and dimly sighted in the churning sea in the glow of two hand held spotlights that provided the only light. The lookouts from time to time would scream something in Fijian that portended instant disaster and the launch would veer to port or starboard or slow dramatically. Brian had more or less memorized the route and the channel markers but could not figure exactly where they were, until it suddenly dawned that they were not following the main channel but were taking an inshore route and making use of the fact that it was nearly high tide. The passengers had each jammed themselves in the bottom of the boat and used whatever they could to protect themselves from the lashing rain. The youths on lookout were shivering in the appallingly unpleasant conditions, picking out the shallows and rocks before we ran into them. It was a poignant remark of Joyce’s that we have all this safety equipment on Tusk which cost a small fortune, and here we are at sea tearing along in reef infested waters guided by men whose minds are probably dulled on Kava, without so much as a life jacket between all of us and not muchof a clue as to where we were. We had no option but to put our faith in the local knowledge and skill of these boatmen about which we new nothing. On a couple of occasions we came to a stop whilst heated and excited discussion took place between the various lookouts and the steersman before we would go charging off in a new direction, so we were certain they were not infallible. We had a high adrenaline count by the time we rounded the entrance too our bay and came alongside Tusk. When we got aboard a double brandy was the order of the day.



Our last anchorage in the Kandavu group was Galoa Harbour, which is a small inlet on the island of Galoa. A small muddy river runs through a village to the creek that is named Galoa Harbour. Protected all around by the land of Kandavu Island opposite and by the Galoa Island itself, it is reputed to be a hurricane hole. From the anchorage it is not possible to see the village so you get a sense of seclusion except for the occasional village fishing boat going in out of the creek. At the village we were welcomed by the schoolteachers and shown the school

Facilities. There is pleasant walking on the island which is mostly cultivated gardens for growing of fruit and vegetables, and some bush and grassy areas. A beach is available by walking through the bush to the North Eastern side of the island It is possible to explore the protected area of sea between the small island and the big island by dinghy, and the snorkelling and fishing is good. We enjoyed drifting along in our dinghy and just peering into the water and exploring rock promontories in the sheltered area.


Musket Cove

We had a pleasant cruise along the southern coast of Kandavu, although the weather was rather changeable. Then we had an overnight passage across the Kandavu Channel to Malololailai, known to yachties as Musket Cove. This island has two quality tourist resorts. The accommodation for the guests consist of whitewashed bures (huts), with palm thatched roofs and there are pleasant restaurants, pools and beaches, small grocery stores, and an sorts of water sports on offer, a small airstrip and a ferry service to the main Island. Joyce loved this anchorage, and we stayed three weeks. We enjoyed swimming and snorkelling, walking around the island, barbecues by ourselves and with friends. The Seven Seas Cruising Association had a potluck barbecue ashore at the island bar, which was very successful. For a few days, we had very strong winds, which kicked up quite a swell. One day the violent pitching of the dinghy tied behind Tusk shattered the bronze ring holding the painter and Brian had to do a quick strip to his underpants to swim after the dinghy to recover it before it disappeared. Brian signed on for a diving course in order to get fully qualified. He had done a week’s course in the UK, which was not internationally recognized, and completed many dives in the Red Sea whilst working in Jeddah. Both Brian and Joyce had done the British Sub Aqua course years before, but it was never completed due to more pressing matters. So, we did not have the necessary international certification. Brian took the Padi course at Musket cove, passed the basic certificate without any problems, and then did an additional course for experience at navigation, multi level diving, search and recovery, and night diving. The night dive was a rough night, and had its difficult moments. We would have been happy to spend a whole season in Musket cove.


The Yasawa Islands

From Musket Cove we sailed to Denera Island and then to Sawini Bay, where we found an old friend Jim. He now had a larger boat called Sirius Of The Sea, which he had purchased in American Samoa and refurbished. He also had a lady named Margaret from Samoa as a crew. After this, we sailed on to Lautoka and picked up our mail, and met cruising friends also anchored at Lautoka. We re-fuelled, re-victualled, and repaired equipment on Tusk, replied to the mail, and socialized at the marina in the evenings. When we left Lautoka we had no wind, cloud and a calm but rolly sea. We motor sailed to Navandra anchorage, hooking a Bonito and a Blue fin Tuna on the way. The anchorage is formed between the islands of Navandra and Vanua Levu that are almost joined by a rock ledge. Yacht Moonshaddow were already there. We handed over a frozen chicken and fresh salad they had asked us over the radio to bring with us. The two islands are unpopulated, and the Yasawas in general have no shops and fresh produce is difficult to come by. We had bought ourselves a chicken as well, so we now had a chicken and two large fish and no fridge. We gave one of our fish away. The swell was coming in from the North, giving dangerous surf on the beautiful beach on Vanua Levu, so we were unable to get ashore: Next day however we got ashore in a sheltered corner of Navandra, which was mainly rocky with some sand. The snorkelling around the coral ledge joining the islands was particularly good, and we explored the easterly side of Navandra by climbing around the rocks. Our next anchorage was Nalauwaki Bay on the Island of Waya. This larger island had several villages. The village not too far from where we anchored, and was notable for its use of corrugated iron canoes for fishing, several of these visited us. We walked over a peninsula to reach a resort in Likuliku Bay on the opposite side of the island. It was a pleasant walk with lovely views along the island coast and over the ocean, but the resort seemed empty and we were unable to buy even a cold drink. We moved on to Naviti Island, and anchored in Narewa Bay, also known as One Dollar Bay. This is a curved white sand beach and is popular with yachts. One afternoon we organized a potluck dinner and campfire party for all the yachts, on the beach under a large mango tree. The swimming and snorkelling in the bay was excellent. Several good walks were available from the Bay, up the steep hills for a good view, and one that took you through dense bush to a beach on the more exposed North side, where there was a lagoon with a sunken world war two aircraft. We were having trouble finding the plane when a local man came up to us and offered to show us where it was. He took us about 300 meters along the beach and pointed out to where it was located, still out of sight beneath the water. We started swimming, looking towards the beach occasionally following our new friends directions. It was blowing a strong wind and the water was cool and rather murky. As it got deeper we could not see the bottom clearly. Joyce decided that the conditions were too uncomfortable and decided to return to the beach. Brian continued to where the wreck could be found. After a while, a wing tip could .be seen, then the rest of the fuselage. The plane had broken up into three parts but was otherwise complete. The man explained that the plane had run out of fuel and the American pilot parachuted to safety. Most of the damage to the plane was done during an attempt to salvage it from the lagoon. Our friends name was Watson and he lived with his family beside the lagoon. He offered to get us some pawpaw so we followed him hack to his family village and waited while he collected two of his grandsons aged 8 and 13 and a horse. We then set off along the path back to Narewa Bay, and. as we went he picked out a tree, and up shinned the 13 year old and hacked off a ripe pawpaw. Joyce wanted green pawpaw for making chutney so another tree was chosen and the boy scrambled up to cut off several green paw paw. Not to be outdone the 8 year old also shinned up a tree and cut down another two, so we had an armful of fruit. When we reached the bay we invited the group back to Tusk for refreshments. Watson was pleased with this because his boys had not been on a yacht before. It took two long trips in the dinghy to get everybody on board, and we gave them a tour of the boat, explained what all the equipment was for, gave Watson a few tins of canned meat in exchange for the pawpaw, and gave the boys a book each. We had a few kid’s books on board because we had been told that children in the islands were short of reading material for school. After a chat, Brian rowed them ashore and they disappeared into the bush on the back of the horse. The next day Joyce turned the green pawpaw into three jars of delicious chutney. Our next anchorage was in a bay with no name, near to a shallow passage between the islands of Nanuya Sewa and Nanuya Levu. They are better known to the Tourists as Blue Lagoon and Turtle Island. It was a lovely spot and the resorts and our anchorage were mutually unobtrusive to one another. There was good snorkelling, a passage between the islands to explore by dinghy, and a good walk on Turtle Island including a mangrove swamp boardwalk. It was time to prepare for our sail to Vanuatu so we headed back to Lautoka for re-provisioning, and had only one stop on the way, Soso Bay, Naviti. We did not go ashore in Soso Bay but were invited for drinks on yacht Toucan.


Holy Engines.

            We were anchored off Lautoka preparing to leave Fiji for Vanuatu. The main task was to refurbish the Aeries wind vane. The mechanism had become stiff again, and a joint on the paddle section had become sloppy due to excessive wear. We replaced some bushes, and a part that was excessively worn was taken to a workshop for attention and we were waiting for its return. We were running the engine to charge the batteries, when the engine note changed and became somewhat muffled. Strange, better take the engine cover off and see if anything is wrong. Usually trouble with the engine provides symptoms like smoke, black oil spurting everywhere, or smelly diesel fuel everywhere. This time I was amazed to see what looked like dairy cream spewing-out of the dipstick holder. I shut the engine down and considered the situation. I knew that if water gets in the lubricating oil you get white streaks in the oil, but in this case the normally black oil was a cream colour and at least double the correct volume. If it was water in the oil it must be a catastrophic quantity. We must have a serious leak from the cooling water into the oil sump and were going to have to dismantle the engine to find the leak. We were distinctly unhappy at the prospect of doing this at anchor because of the possibility of strong winds causing us to drag, or other boats in the crowded anchorage dredging up our anchor with theirs accidentally, or other boats anchoring too near and dragging on to us. With an engine you can do something in these situations but without an engine you are helpless. Lautoka marina had a dock for visiting yachts; it was rather exposed, but better than being at anchor, and it was only a few hundred meters away. We drained the contaminated oil and refilled with new oil. After a few hours, the oil was still in perfect condition. So long as we did not run the engine, there was no leak. Next morning, when it was calm, we weighed anchor, started the engine, and then motored at low revs to the dock. Another yacht was standing by to take us in tow if we did not make it. The engine ran normally until we glided slowly alongside the dock and then it note changed as it had done before. We had just made it. The oil was now a creamy colour again and was near to the top of the dipstick hole. We drained the sump and filled it with new oil again. Next we had the rocker covers off, no sign of any problem. Then we removed the cylinder heads, which meant hose pipes and the air and exhaust manifold had to come off. The gaskets and seals were inspected for possible leaks but no defects were found. To go any further involved removing the cylinder blocks, a major expense in terms of gaskets and parts necessary to put it back together again. Brian suspected the seal at the bottom of the cylinder, so he called in a diesel mechanic recommended by friends on yacht Zephyr, in order to get a second opinion. He could not find any cause in the partly dismantled engine, but suspected the water pump. I was sure it was not the water pump but agreed that he should take the pump back to the workshop to test. Next morning I went to the workshop to see how things were going only to find they had not tested the Pump but were preparing to strip it instead. The way the pump is designed makes it impossible for water to leak from the pump into the oil, and after a heated discussion I convinced them that this was so. It was then agreed that it was necessary to remove the cylinder blocks. When the big end shell bearings and the pistons were removed, the fault became apparent. It was a hole at the bottom of the cylinder through to the water jacket. It seemed to be due to corrosion or a fault in the casting. We had all engine spares to reassemble the engine including new shell bearings and rings, but did not have a spare cylinder block. This had to he shipped out from England. We decided to replace both cylinder blocks, and it was three weeks before we had received the necessary parts and reassembled the engine. Hopefully, with this major rebuild behind we should get many more years of reliable service from the engine.


Passage-Fiji to Vanuatu.

We moved from Lautoka anchorage to the commercial port to complete clearance formalities. It was late before this was completed so we stayed at anchor at the port until next morning. Early we headed for the pass through the reef. It was a fine calm day with mixed stratus and cumulus clouds. We had a steady breeze through the pass, and stuck close to the transit provided by marks on the hill. Further out the sea conditions became boisterous and rather cool. We put a reef in the main and boomed out the jib. For the following two days we got 15 to 20 knots with gusts of 25 knots. On the second night we sailed though a large shoal of flying fish and found dozens stranded on the deck. On the third day the wind moderated, and late in the evening we went over a fishing net stretching from North to South as far as the eye could see. It was suspended from buoys and we were fortunate to spot the buoys and steer between them. If we caught a line on our keel we would have tangled in the net. Next night we saw two navy vessels to the South of us and they disappeared to the East. The weather became grey and overcast and the wind picked up again as we closed on Port Vila. We were glad to reach the shelter of harbour and tie up to the quarantine buoy.



Due to our delay in Fiji it was getting late and we were thinking about the oncoming tropical cyclone season. We only had 12 days to spare before we felt it necessary to move again. There are a few exciting places to visit in Vanuatu. One that we would like to have seen was the island of Tanna. This is a difficult slog to windward, except for periods when conditions are favourable. We had no such opening while we were in Vanuatu, so we stayed in Port Vila. Our first days were spent looking around town, which was hardly more than one street. There was a colourful fruit and vegetable market, but prices were higher than we were used to. We had lunch in a Deli cafe with a group of yachties, including Jay of Skywave, and visited the tourist information office looking for things to do. We were anchored between the mainland of Efate and the island resort of Iririki. There is a ferry to Iririki but we just rowed across in our dinghy, and walked the' paths around the island. It was a' nice resort, with a good restaurant on a cliff overlooking the channel between the island and Port Vila. Another day we took a trip on the public bus to Hideaway Island Resort. The bus left us half a mile from the beach, we walked to the beautiful white sand beach hacked by palm trees and bush. Then got a small ferry out to Melee Island to the Hideaway resort, this consisted of a handful of small bungalows and a bar/restaurant. We had a drink before returning to the mainland. The rest of the time at Port Vila was spent finishing off a news-sheet and getting it posted to family and friends, and on boat maintenance for our voyage to New Caledonia.


Passage-Vanuatu to New Caledonia.

We left Vanuatu in a 15 to 20 knot breeze, but it only lasted 24 hours. The wind then became light and we were wallowing in the swell, with our speed less than 2 knots. For the rest of the trip the wind just teased. It would increase a few knots, we would turn off the engine, and then the wind would drop, so we would turn the engine on. At least the wind was on the stern all the way. On the second day we sailed through a huge area of floating membrane the like of which we have not seen before. On the third day we sailed through the Loyalty Islands. Conditions were calm through a tidal rip between the islands but the sea looked distinctly evil for a while. Early morning the day of our landfall in New Caledonia, we saw a pod of whales, we kept clear. We had a fright when the engine oil pressure dropped to zero. The oil level had been checked but was now not recording on the dipstick It took nearly 4 litres of oil to bring it to the proper level We kept topping up the oil at regular intervals, but did not find the leak from the oil filter adaptor plate until we got into harbour. For the last day we adjusted our speed so that we arrived at the Havana Channel at the right stage of the tide to have a smooth ride in through the reef. The channel can be dangerous for small vessels due to strong tidal currents passing through the narrow gap and the heavy swell driven by easterly trade winds. We slipped through at slack tide, with a minimum of swell and pleasant conditions. Sailing the South coast of New Caledonia we had high mountains to the North and distant palm clad islands to the South, and carried our spinnaker for 7 hours until sunset, one of our most glorious sails. We could not reach Noumea before nightfall so we anchored behind Isle Bailey for that night, and motored 12 miles to Noumea early next morning.


New Caledonia.

We had arrived on Saturday morning; and when we finished the checking-in formalities, the banks were closed. So, we had no local currency for the weekend. We spent the afternoon walking the city streets window-shopping. Noumea is a sophisticated modern city with a very French flavour. It was tidy, well kept and clean. The goods in the department stores and the food in the grocery shops and deli were the best in the Pacific as far as we could see. The price of everything was also very French, expensive that is. Next day we walked around the coast road to view the Yacht Club Marina, the Baie De Citrons and Anne Varta, the premier beach of Noumea. Being a fine hot weekend the beaches were crowded. We walked a long way and had forgotten to take a drink with us, still had no money, so we were glad to get back to Tusk. Norm & Gerry off the American boat 'Witchcraft' invited us to join them for dinner at the 'Golden Arches'. We were uncertain about this having seen the prices at some of the restaurants, but with much amusement Norm explained to us that the Golden Arches was McDonalds. We had never heard it called this before. When we explained to them our recent arrival and lack of local currency, they offered to sponsor us until we could get cash from the Bank. So McDonalds it was. There was always a queue at McDonalds, but the restaurants in town were very quiet, and presumably only used by the prosperous French expatriates, or the cruise ship tourists. Next day we got some cash from the bank and settled our debt to Norm and stocked up with fresh food. A good selection of French cheeses were available, and French cheese, bread and wine became our favorite lunch snack while we were in Noumea. We spent the rest of the day searching for a restaurant in which to celebrate our wedding anniversary next evening, but could not find one that seemed to have a combination of menu and ambience to match the price. So we decided to make up a barbecue and have a romantic evening on our own in one of the many bays our anchorages within an hour or two of Noumea port. The next evening, we were anchored by ourselves in L'anse Kuendu, just a short sail from Noumea. Everything was going well, the moon was rising and the food partly cooked on the barbecue when we saw some shapes gliding past underwater. It was a group of scuba divers, each with a chemical light stick, and a leader with a flashing strobe. We thought this must be a group of scuba divers on a night dive, but then we saw another group and another. We were now puzzled at what was happening. Next, out of the darkness came a large inflatable boat paddled by 12 sinister black clad men. When the second inflatable glided past, we realized that our quiet romantic anchorage was being used by the French naval assault troops as a practice invasion beach, and another dozen inflatables could be seen strung out across the bay heading for us. Our quiet evening vaporized. All these troops disappeared onto the beach in front of us and there were flashing lights on the beach, and making plenty of noise with vehicles moving about in the trees. Gradually things quietened down again, but it was almost midnight before they had all gone. The rest of the two weeks we had in New Caledonia we spent visiting the islands and bays around the south lagoon that surrounds Noumea. While in Bay de Maa we saw the green flash. This occurs at sunset when the last of the sun disappears below the horizon and a beautiful green flash appears in the sky over the sunset. On our last day in Noumea, we decided we must try one of the restaurants, so we had a seafood lunch at a restaurant called Tan Hauser. It must be admitted we did enjoy the meal.


Passage-New Caledonia to Australia.

We left New Caledonia for Australia on November 15th. It was close to the cyclone season so we listen to all sources of weather forecasting before leaving. Cyclones are expected mainly from December but a month earlier is possible. We had to sail 1000 miles to our proposed destination, Coffs Harbour, on the New South Wales coast. We expected to take about 10 to 12 days. Conditions at the start were fine, rather gusty, with a few small trade wind type cumulus clouds. When we cleared through the pass the sea was distinctly rough. We try to avoid these conditions at the start of a passage because if we get rough seas before Joyce gets her sea legs, she tends to suffer from sea sickness for a day or two, but it was too late to consider turning back. The sky remained mainly clear, the wind eased slightly, but the seas remained rough. On the third day we were alarmed to find we had hooked a bird on our fishing line. We stopped the boat, then as carefully as possible-pulled the bird in to the boat and grabbed hold of it. It was a large, but apparently very young bird still with rather downy feathers and black flecks on its wings. The hook had caught on the wing. It seemed uninjured but exhausted. We placed it on the seat of the cockpit and it seemed to he happy to stay there, but once we were under way again it had a problem staying put, and kept sliding on the seat. It was almost dark so we placed a cushion on the lee side of the cockpit floor and moved the bird on to the cushion. It was safer in this position and it could grip the cushion and did not slide about. We were very quiet and kept our own movements in the cockpit to a minimum in order not to alarm the bird. It stayed with us all night, and we believe it got some rest and sleep. Next morning it refused water, milk, bread and tinned fish we offered it but it did show some sign of trying to fly. Down on the cockpit floor it was unable to spread its wings properly so we lifted its cushion onto the cockpit seat and secured it as well as we could. After a while the bird did a short flight to the seat on the other side of the cockpit and back to its cushion. It did this several times but did not try to leave the boat. It seemed an intelligent little bird that seemed to know how to look after itself. By mid day the wind was tending more Northerly and it was necessary for us to gibe the mainsail. We did this as carefully as possible but the activity and the noise of the sail and boom crossing the boat was just too much for our bird, and it took flight, and we were elated to see it fly, fly away, and disappear over the horizon without any apparent difficulty. On the fourth day we had a large school of dolphins with us for a while. On the fifth day the weather started to deteriorate, with low cumulus clouds and gusts up to 30 knots. We changed down to the working jib and put two reefs in the mainsail. Dull showery weather set in for the next 24 hours, with the wind fluctuating from 15 to 30 knots at times and the sea was rough. On the eighth day a trough passed over us at about 2 am in the morning, with gusts to 35 knots. We heaved-too with three reefs in the main and the working jib for the rest of the night rather than try to beat into almost gale force conditions. Every now and then a wall of water would hit the side of the boat and everything would shudder. It was afternoon of the next day before we got under way again. The wind dropped suddenly, and went more southerly. To sail would have meant taking a more southerly course than we wanted so we motor sailed into the wind with just a triple reeled mainsail While doing this our last electric tiller pilot stopped working, so we now only had the Aries wind vane which was not working well because it still needed some new spare parts. If the Aries could not cope we had to steer by hand. About 1 am next morning the wind had continued swinging to the west and we were able to sail again close hauled on our required course in confused seas. Next night we sailed through a front accompanied by a severe electric storm, and continued the next day motor sailing about 30 degrees off course. At this stage, two other yachts in our vicinity decided to abandon Coffs Harbour as a destination and head for Brisbane, which would save at least a day or more at sea and did not require this unpleasant windward sail. A low-pressure system was forming just inland of Coffs Harbour, and next night it deepened and moved rapidly off shore, just to the south of us. We got a gale forecast showing this new system at about the same time as the gale force winds hit us. This time we used three reefs in the main and the storm jib. Instead of heaving to we set up the Aries to sail us to windward. Although the mechanism was still stiff it would work with strong winds well enough. So that night we slammed slowly through the waves roughly on the course we wanted, but all the time thinking maybe we should not put the boat under all this stress, but should heave to or lay ahull. Fortunately, the rapid movement of the low towards the South East gave us improving conditions, and by mid morning we were heaving along in big seas and only a moderate wind. As we got nearer to Coffs Harbour the wind backed to the east, then to the North and our stiff Aries wind vane could not cope with the lighter conditions For the last eighteen hours we hand steered. We arrived off Coffs at about 3am in the dark. We used the leading lights to get through the gap between Muttonbird Island and the main harbour wall and anchored between the old wooden jetty and the marina wall. In our exhausted state, we had no trouble sleeping that night. We awoke early next morning to find we had anchored off a lovely yellow sand beach with walkers and early morning swimmers already in action under a calm blue sky. We thought this was a wonderful introduction to Australia.



Summary Of Tusks Log


Date                Passage To:                 Dist Time   Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/knots

15Jun/l5July    At Suva, Fiji.                                                                    Touristing & Maintenance

16Jul               Dravuni Island               39       8        8      W/0-5            Calm, fine becoming overcast

18Jul               Nangera, Ono Isle           9       2        2      S/lO-20          Blustery, reef-strewn area

21Jul               Nambouwaiu Bay,           4       1        1      S20                Moved to better shelter

22Jul               Sololavul, Kavola            6       2        1      SE/10-25       Heavy swell, autohelm failed

27Jul               Naisogornikino, Kadavu 9       3        3      SE/S-20         Fine & blustery, reef strewn

3lJul                NgotoaCreek, Kadavu  24       5        5      S3-SEl2         Calm, beautiful reefy area

3/4Aug            Musket Cove               143       31        9      SE/4-20         Mainly light wind sail

23Aug             Denarau Isle, Viti Levu 13       3        3      SE/10-15       Fine conditions

25Aug             Lautoka, Viti Leiru        14       3        3      Var                Light calm conditions

30Aug             Navandra, Yasawa        14       5        5      None/SE10    Calm and cloudy, fish caught

1Sep                NalawakiBay, Yasawa  15       5        5      Var/0-4          Fine and calm, some cloud

2Sep                Vunayawa Bay, Yasawa 2l       5        5      NNE/8-13      Fine day but a headwind

5Sep                Blue Lagoon, Yasawa   13       3        3      E10-18           Fine clear day

7Sep                Soso Bay, Naviti           18       4        4      NE10-N2       Calm fine day

8Sep                Lautoka, Viti Levu        40       8        8      None-El2       Calm and hazy

6/11Oct           Port Vila, Vanuatu      593   128      31      N-E-S/0-20    Mainly fine/variable

24/270ct          Isle Bailey, New Cal   351   109      48      E-ESE/3-15  Mainly light winds

28Oct              Port Moselle, New Cal  12       3        3      None              Fine and calm

31Oct              L'anse Kuendu, New Cal 3       1        1      NW/04           Fine and calm

1Nov               Ilot Mba, New Cal        16       3        3      N/3-6             Fine and calm

2Nov               Baie Moa, New Cal         4       1        1      SE/15-18       Boisterous sea, headwind

6Nov               Isle Maitre, New Cal       8       2        2      SW/0-14        Smooth becoming choppy

7Nov               Port Moselle, New Cal    2       1        1      N/2-l0            Moderate chop, light wind

15/27Nov        Coffs Hbr, Australia  1053   256      16      Var/5-40        Somewhat trying passage









Chapter 17

Tusk on a reach, passing the Sydney Opera House.

See ‘Sydney Opera House’ below.

Land of Oz

Our original plan for sailing around the world allowed us 2 months in Australia.  We did in fact spend 21 months there and enjoyed every minute of our stay.  The weather, the good food, good sailing much of the time, friendly people, lovely coastal scenery, interesting towns, estuaries and rivers all conspired to encourage us to postpone leaving Australia until we could no longer extend our visa, or find excuses for not moving on.


Coffs Harbour.

Coffs Harbour was a good choice as a port of entry.  It has a safe entrance, easily negotiated in the dark or in bad weather. (Later in the year we did find that it could be closed in stormy weather). There are no complicated navigation hazards on the approach and no long sail up a river to get to the customs dock. Everything is right there when you get through the harbour entrance. Customs, immigration and quarantine formalities were dealt with in an efficient and friendly manner and we were allocated a marina berth immediately.  We were able to walk into town for lunch the morning we arrived.  There is a chandlery shop and boatyard with haul out facilities right at the harbour, and a small shopping centre nearby where you can get necessities. The main shops are in town, just over two miles away, an hourly bus service is available. An ice cream shop and a fish and chip shop are right at the marina, and a welcoming sailing club just outside. What more could you want after a hard and arduous sail across the Coral Sea? Pleasant though Coffs Harbour was, we were keen to get to Sydney by Christmas, so we made a list of priority maintenance jobs and got them under way first. Most of our time at Coffs was spent on these repairs. Coffs was full of small businesses and workshops that could do virtually anything you wanted. We did the Coffs Creek walk, a footpath through woods along the edge of a creek.   We also walked Mutton Bird Island, so called because it is a breeding ground for Mutton Birds that make nests in holes in the ground.  The island has been joined to the mainland by the breakwater to provide protection for the harbour.  Access on the island is restricted to footpaths so that the nesting birds are not disturbed.  There were lovely yellow sand beaches each side of the harbour that also provided good walking, there were often surfers riding the ocean rollers. We socialized with yacht Odyssey, with whom we had a radio schedule on the approach to Australia, and with yacht Lakme, whom we first met in the Caribbean. As soon as we were ready we headed back out to sea to reach Sydney before Christmas.


Coffs Harbour to Port Macquarie

Our first passage was planned as a day sail of 34 miles to Trial Bay or the Macleay River, which runs into Trial Bay.  The rivers on this coast tend to be shallow, with a sand bar at the entrance which provides an area of rough water, and often breaking waves.  A strong outgoing tide with an onshore wind can produce conditions that are dangerous to small craft, whereas an in going tide with an on shore breeze can produce almost flat calm conditions in the same place.  Weather conditions and state of tide are important factors to consider when crossing these bars.  We left Coffs for Macleay River at mid morning.  That would allow us to arrive at Macleay at about the 3rd hour of the rising tide.  The forecast predicted a wind of NE 15 knots but it was already blowing 20 knots when we left the harbour.  It was on the quarter, so we put 3 reefs in the main, and flew a small working jib.  We were doing 5 or 6 knots through the water, and clocking 7 and 8 knots over the ground due to the 2 knots South current that is usual in this area.  As we flew south on this magic carpet the wind strengthened and a big swell was building up behind us.  When we were 5 miles off Trial Bay it was blowing 30 knots, with a huge swell.  Trial Bay and the Macleay River entrance were now a dangerous lee shore and it would have been foolhardy to approach the river bar.  We hove too and called South West Rocks Coastal Patrol, a radio station that overlooks the Bay.  They confirmed conditions were "hazardous", and that there had not been any weather forecast predicting such strong winds. They asked us what we intended to do.  We told them we had a few hours of favourable tide left, and that we would stay hove to see if conditions moderated.  Coastal Patrol called us back every hour to check we were OK, but there was no improvement in the conditions.  After 3 hours we decided to continue sailing south until we could find a harbour we could enter.  This would most likely be Port Macquarie 35 miles away.  We told Coastal Patrol and they said they were sorry we could not make it into the river but wished us a safe passage south, and asked us to check in with Macquarie Radio as soon as we were in range.  We took down the mainsail and set off with just the jib.  The wind continued unabated and we were still making 6 knots until dusk, when the wind dropped and became variable in direction.  We set the mainsail again, but the wind headed us, so we took all sail down and motored.  Heavy gloomy clouds gathered and we could see spectacular glowing lightning ahead.  We called Port Macquarie Radio and they told us they had a severe electric storm, and the new weather forecast for the next 24 hours was not good.  Getting into Port Macquarie became our urgent priority.  In the next 2 hours the wind continued to drop to a light breeze.  The thunderstorm was travelling north, so our southerly progress brought us together quickly and we had spectacular lightning, the most severe since we had left Florida.  This storm was in a class of its own, with network lightning across vast areas of sky, and thick bolts of lightning to the sea.  How such lightning can miss an aluminium mast in the middle of all this activity never ceases to amaze us. We passed through the electric storm in about 3 hours and were relieved when it drifted off North of us.  We arrived off Port Macquarie after midnight and it was half tide on the ebb.  This was the worst possible time to cross the bar but the wind had now died and the sea was almost calm.  We called Macquarie Radio and the operator told us from what he could see in the dark, the bar was not breaking. So with the bad weather forecast in mind we decided to go in. We put the hatch boards in, closed the main hatch, put on harnesses, clipped on to strong points, and headed in using the leading lights to guide us over the deepest part of the bar.  As we approached, the almost negligible swell built up to a powerful surge as we met the shallows. It was necessary to steer with both hands on the tiller to counter the stern being pushed to the side, and it was difficult to steer and watch the leading lights. Joyce watched the lights, and as the bottom one seemed to move to the right she shouted "steer starboard", or if it moved to the left, "steer port".  Everything went well but as we crossed the worst area of the bar we could see breaking waves both sides of us, a steep wave pushed our stern and we were surfing at an alarming speed.  This lasted for quite a few seconds until we settled back in the water, which was now rough but somewhat flatter. We were over the worst. It was slow going over the rest of the bar and up the channel due to the ebb current, and we had time for our heartbeat to slow down.  This first crossing of a significant river bar in Tusk had given us cause to have considerable respect for river bars and to reflect seriously on our tactics for crossing bars in the future.


Port Macquarie to Sydney

We stayed at Port Macquarie for nine days, and set-to being tourists with serious intent. One fine day was spent on a bike ride along the coast to visit the beaches to the South of the town. It was quite hilly, but we counted seven beaches by the time we reached Tacking Point Lighthouse and turned back. Views along the route were often outstanding. Another day, when it was overcast with drizzle, we biked a triangular route out to the west of the town. Our main point of interest was the Cassegrain Winery, and the Bramble Cottage nearby. On the way we passed along country lanes that were rather too bumpy for our Bickerton bikes and a bolt fell off Brian's bike, making it unrideable. A detailed search of the road failed to locate the bolt and we were just contemplating aborting our trip when one of the local residents stopped his car to offer help. We were invited up to his house to check his box of bolts to see if something suitable could be found. The problem was fixed and we were soon on our way again, very grateful for the help received. We had quite a cordial host behind the bar at the Cassegrain Winery and sampled several fine wines before selecting two bottles to take with us. Nearby was the Bramble Cottage, a delightful old country cottage now used as an old world souvenir shop. Joyce loved the place and we spent some time there looking around, talking to the owner, and finally eating our picnic in the shelter of the porch, waiting for a heavy downpour of rain to pass over. The cycle back, through showers or rain, was broken by a stop at a craft exhibition center serving Devonshire teas. Another day was spent exploring Kooloonbung Creek nature reserve trails and mangrove boardwalks. When we were ready to leave Port Macquarie we waited for a good northerly wind and sailed overnight non-stop to Sydney Harbour, some 174 Nm.  We sailed with a stiff breeze through the Sydney Harbour heads with the sun setting over the high-rise buildings of the distant city of Sydney. Rather than sail down Sydney Harbour for the first time in the dark, we turned north around the heads into Spring Cove. As we dropped the anchor in this beautiful little cove, Christmas carols from a mass carol service held at St. Patrick’s College on the hill above us wafted down on the last of the evening breeze while we relaxed in the cockpit. It was a moments that make the unpleasant side of cruising worthwhile.


Christmas 1995 & New Year

We sailed up Sydney Harbour for the first time on Saturday morning a week preceding Christmas day.  There were scores of sailboat races, ferries going all directions, working boats criss-crossing the harbour, scores of buzz about sport boats, dozens of cruise boats, in fact it was an alarming wall to wall confusion of boats and churning water. As we got into the melee we found Sydney boaters had good manners, knew the rules of the road, and applied them with common sense. We had no trouble picking our way through to our anchorage at Drummoyne, beyond the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Drummoyne Sailing Club was our favourite and most convenient anchorage in Sydney. There was no charge, and we could get fuel, water and cooking gas refills at the Birkenhead Point Marina a few hundred yards away. Birkenhead Point is a factory outlet mall and has a supermarket and fresh food hall. We could wheel the supermarket trolley to the marina jetty and drop the shopping straight into the dinghy. When we went ashore we pulled our dinghy up the club ramp and chained it to a post. Eating at the club was inexpensive, complete with harbour view. This week before Christmas was a blur of sightseeing, shopping for seasonal provisions, and searching for workshops that would repair equipment. Sydney was nicely decorated for Christmas. Streets were swarming with shoppers, buskers and entertainers. Some shops and malls had choirs singing carols. There was also a Carols in the Park concert, but Sydney did not have the same impressive setting and polished presentation as the Auckland event we attended the year before. One notable event we attended was a carol concert at the Town Hall.  This is a magnificent old building that has been beautifully restored with galleries, a stage and a grand pipe organ filling one entire end wall. The performance included foreign choirs, international singers and a local dance troop. A lively exciting performance. Friends Bill & Megan arrived on their new boat "Belle" (a 47ft steel Van Der Stadt) on Friday. We had Australian champagne on Belle followed by a barbecue on Tusk. Christmas dinner was on Belle, followed by a walk along the shore of Iron Cove, finishing with port and cheese on board. On Boxing Day we sailed on Belle to watch the start of the Sydney-Hobart race.  We also spent New Year's Eve night on Belle, watching the spectacular Sydney harbour fireworks display.


Sydney Sights

We admit that we adore Sydney. London is supposed to be the most visited tourist city in the world, but we are sure this distinction would soon be won by Sydney if it was not so far away from other counties and expensive to reach. Auckland calls itself the city of sails, but this reputation really belongs to Sydney. Sydney Harbour is the centrepiece of Sydney City and is its most important tourist attraction. It is about 30Km long and variable in width. 1,5Km between North and South Heads at the entrance, opening up into Port Jackson proper, then branching off to Middle Harbour and finally to the Parramata River. Small islands are dotted throughout. We first passed through the harbour on a Saturday, we expected it to be busy and it was. But on Monday afternoon there were cruiser races out on the harbour, it was the same on Tuesday, Wednesday and every day of the week. Even when the racing yachts were not out there were always a few sails passing up or down the harbour or just pottering about. Some of the most spectacular racing classes in the world can regularly be seen on the Harbour. It does seem one of the few areas left where sail still reigns supreme and does not seem to be in threat of being overwhelmed by recreational high-speed sport fishing boats and `trawlers’, although they do have those as well. Sydney city is truly built around the harbour, yet from the water much of the harbour still has an attractive rural aspect. There are parks and reserves, providing forested walks and scattered beaches safe for families and the shoreline is easy on the eye. The beaches are mostly fitted with shark nets since sharks are quite common in the harbour, although we did not see any during our stay.  Sydney Harbour Bridge is itself quite an attractive feature but by no means as imposing in real life as it appears on many photographs. It is now quite old and has been eclipsed by many larger bridges throughout the world. But the placing of the Sydney Opera House beside the bridge has ensured that these twins will be famous for a long time to come, and droves of tourists arrive every day just to view the Opera House and the Bridge. We did sail and motor around most of the harbour in Tusk, but we still enjoyed viewing the harbour from the commercial vessels working on the harbour. Rather than using the luxury tourist cruisers we travelled the working ferries to every corner of the harbour using weekly-unlimited travel tickets. The hub of Sydney is Circular Quay and this is where the ferries operate from. The busy tooing and froing of the ferries is an attraction in its own right. Because it is so much of a hub there are always street entertainers attracting crowds at Circular Quay and it is easy to spend an hour or so watching their antics before sloping off to the nearby Custom House Tavern for a cooler. It is warm in Sydney in January, but not excessively hot. Nearby to Circular Quay is an area called the Rocks. This was one of the first areas to be developed. In 1792 convicts built rows of timber framed thatched cottages along a line of rock ledges that gave the area its name. It still has many historic buildings but is now a buzzing tourist trap with a colourful outdoor street market, stores selling Australian opals and ‘duty free’. There are also many restaurants and a few almost nice pubs and the best tourist information office in Sydney.  On the other side of Circular Quay are the Botanical Gardens. This seemed more like a park than our idea of a Botanical Garden but it is a nice enough area for a stroll or a picnic. Circular Quay also is the start of the main shopping streets of Sydney, George Street and Pitt Street. One could spend weeks exploring all the nooks and crannies of shops in these long roads and the other roads around and about. George Street should be a showpiece of the city but it has its scruffy aspects.

Plans are afoot to tidy the area up before the year 2000 Olympic games are held in Sydney. There are many Museums, Art Galleries, and Exhibitions. We visited the Powerhouse, a kind of technology museum, but this seemed to be levelled at a very elementary school age. We also visited the Jewish museum that had a special feature covering the holocaust. The museum we enjoyed the most was the Maritime Museum in Cockle Bay. The prime attraction was a newly arrived Russian submarine. It was possible to explore every nook and cranny of the submarine and it gave an interesting insight to Russian engineering practice, which seemed beefy and basic. Nearby is also the Chinese Gardens, an oasis of peace, tranquillity and beauty. Pagodas, pools and trickling streams help to calm the fevered tourist brow. Our itinerary around Sydney took us to the many yacht chandlers, and our diary notes remind us of the many Sydney suburbs we explored on foot. Like the entry for 24th Feb, ‘Walked to Dock Five and bought a bottle of Champagne and a bag of chips’.


Around Sydney and Canberra

We were fortunate to meet up with friends Bill & Megan on yacht `Belle’. We first met the Belles in Gibraltar in 1990. We crossed paths until the Canary Islands. Then Belle sailed fast track to Australia. Whilst we crossed the Atlantic, sailed the Caribbean, explored the USA, trekked the Andes, transversed Panama, crossed the Pacific and looked at bubbling mud in NZ, Bill and Megan were building a new boat in Perth. A 47ft Van Der Stadt with all mod cons including a washing machine. They sailed to Sydney to arrive a few days after us. It is a beautiful boat and we were impressed, and envious of the space, facilities and equipment. Bill and Megan were as new to Sydney as we were. Bill had a brother living in Sydney, who kindly lent him a car. Bill gave us the task of tour guide, arguing that a couple of foreigners would probably know what sights to see. So we made out a plan, and it gave us a chance to see more than we would otherwise have managed.

North Sydney Beaches. Our first drive was along the coast road North of Sydney. It passes through small towns, along a switchback of hills and cliffs. The beaches are yellow sand exposed to the Ocean swell, giving many spots for surfing. Swimming is only recommended at patrolled beaches, where lifeguards set up flags to indicate safe bathing areas, and display danger signs when the surf is hazardous. Towns have endearing names like Dee Why, Collaroy Beach and Narrabeen. On the North part of this peninsular is Palm Beach, the home of many Australian celebrities and the rich. The peninsular ends at Barrenjoey, a huge rock surrounded by a giant sand blow, with a lighthouse on the entrance to Broken Bay. We had a picnic under the shade of trees over looking Pittwater, then turned back to our anchorage at Drummoyne.

Canberra, the first day. We needed a safe anchorage to leave our boats unaccompanied for a few days so we moved to Castle Cove, in Middle Harbour. This is a narrow flooded valley with high dense bush all around, still in the suburbs of Sydney. Gale force winds would hardly ripple the water. We were ashore at 6:30am. Bill drove us through the suburbs onto the highway, then through farming grasslands and forests until we reached Berrima, a village where we could stop for refreshments. It is lined with old colonial style shops selling brands of sweets we had not seen for decades, and handicrafts, home made jams and chutneys. We browsed, then had cheese and bacon muffins with coffee before driving on.  We arrived in the outskirts of Canberra at midday, and booked a cabin at a Carotel so that we could get straight on with sightseeing. Canberra did not grow naturally from small beginnings, but was designed and built as a capital city. In the 1800’s Australia consisted of separate states each having their own parliament.  The states joined together and the Commonwealth of Australia came into being in 1901. One of the first problems was that of establishing a capital. Jealousy between states made a compromise solution prudent, and the result was the Federal Territory of Canberra.  The boundary of Canberra was established in 1911, and an international competition was launched to produce an architectural design for a modern city that was to be the finest capital of the world. Whilst the competition was won by an American Architect, the government deemed that they might not use this design but would instead use several of the finalists’ plans to produce a working design. This key decision may be the reason why Canberra seems to give the feeling of a place designed by a committee. We get the impression that Canberra is one of the least liked Australian cities. It does have some notable buildings, and the most important of these is the new Parliament building on Capital Hill.  It has a futuristic appearance, with a low grassed over roof. It looked to us like a camouflaged building made to withstand a near miss of a nuclear explosion. It was completed in 1980 and is one of the largest buildings in the southern hemisphere. It is intended to fulfil its function for 200 years. Walking through the public areas we were shown Aboriginal mosaics and architectural features evocative of the unique Australian landscape. In the great hall is one of the worlds largest tapestries copied from an Arthur Boyd painting, depicting a eucalyptus forest. One of the few links with the old world was a display of the Magna Carta, one of the four surviving originals.  The art collection includes over 3000 works, only a few of which we had time to see. Next we had a look at the National Capital Exhibition, then drove around the South side of the Lake, passed the Governors House with its Kangaroos and suddenly decided to drive to the Tidinbilla Nature Reserve to see Koalas. The drive to Tidenbilla was a treat, through narrow lanes with dense bush and small streams and rivers, which we crossed on wooden bridges. Dusk was the best time to visit; most of the animals wake up from their afternoon sleep and begin to feed. On the forest trails we saw Emus, Kangaroos, Koalas, Galah birds and Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. We returned to the city and had dinner at an ‘al fresco’ restaurant. Back at our Carotel we watched TV and saw a news flash of a severe storm and heavy rain in Sydney.  We decided our boats were safe and we should not worry.

Canberra, the second day. We started at the War Memorial, which also has a museum. We had an excellent guided tour by a character who was an ex WW2 Spitfire pilot. When explaining the exhibits he added spice from his own memoirs of events he was actually involved in. We had a snack at the top of the Telecom tower and took photos of the city from the observation platform. We next visited the National Gallery. We joined a guided tour covering a selection of modern American art, and to our eye we were hard put to accept the pieces as art. We had a tour of the galleries covering Australian and Aboriginal art and then drove to the Film and Sound Archives. This was an interesting and lively exhibition with displays of sound and vision recording equipment from past and present, and film theatres showing Movitone newsreels and developments in Australian cinema. By now most tourist sights were closed, except for the Botanic Gardens, which were open until dusk for strollers and for guided nighttime tours with wine and cheese. We were too late to book for a guided tour but one of the guides offered to take us for an tour before he took his official party for the night walk. We had a brief but informative tour of the gardens that were some of the best we have seen.  We finished the day at a bicycle museum attached to a working mans club where we had dinner in a converted tramcar.

Canberra, the third day. We left Canberra and headed for Bateman’s Bay. The city gave way to grass farming. We passed though several villages with colonial cottages and climbed the coastal mountain ranges into steep forest. We spotted the sea from near the top of the mountain but it took a while to ascend to the coast. A barred river runs into the Bay, and was an attractive place for a yacht to anchor. North along the Princes Highway we found the coastal plain well developed. It was late in the history of the area before explorers found a way across the mountains. Farms, ribbon development, and tourist facilities lined the road until we reached Kiama, a small fishing town. It has a blowhole providing a periodic natural sea fountain. We had fish’n chips in rain showers at the harbour and pressed on. We stopped at scenic viewpoints, and passed though the Royal National Park, just north of Sydney. It had been devastated by bush fires the year before and was charred but showing signs of new growth. At Castle Cove we found Belle and Tusk secure.


More Around Sydney

Hunter Valley.  North of Sydney is one of the most important wine growing areas, the Hunter Valley. This is where we headed in order to gain some education on the finer points of Australian wines. It was a long drive, more so because we visited the eastern shores of Lake Macquarie on the way. Cessnock is the anchor town of the Lower Hunter, and once we were through the town we had to puzzle which route to take through the maze of vineyards. Bill & Megan wanted to visit Drayton’s so this gave us a direction. Drayton’s was a good choice and they were generous with their samples, free with descriptions of the different types of grape and their effect on the final product, and sociable and interested to know of our travels. When we left we had done so well we thought it might be imprudent to sample more wines the same day. We completed a circular drive around the vineyards, stopping occasionally, and back into Cessnock for a late lunch.  We then headed for Newcastle, a major port of New South Wales, visited friends of Bill and Megan, looked over the estuary and beach and drove back down the Pacific Highway to Sydney.

Old Sydney and a Farmhouse.  At our request the Belles took us to Old Sydney. This was a heavily promoted reconstruction of what Sydney was like in colonial days. In was the most disappointing attraction we visited in Australia. The day was saved by a delightful visit to friends of the Belles who had a traditional Australian farmhouse not far from Old Sydney. We had admired these grand and stylish houses and it was a delight to be able to walk around one and see what they were really like. John and Libby Barrett called their house Joliba. They were not farmers and had regular jobs, and enjoyed the tranquil surroundings that included a freshwater lake. We enjoyed our few hours there with a barbecue under the porch before heading back for Sydney.


Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous and easily recognized and most photographed buildings in the world. Set beside the harbour with a roof cognizant of glistening white upturned boat hulls and a backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the city high-rise buildings this controversial building is not going to be ignored. It is one of the most visited sites in Australia and a constant flow of coaches bring thousands of tourists every day to do a guided tour of the building and its facilities or to just walk around the forecourt and take photographs. Bill and Megan of Belle agreed that the only way to see the Opera House properly was not by whistle stop guided tour but to watch a performance. We were all interested in seeing a "classic" opera and it was left to the Tusks to make the arrangements. The choice was not difficult because within the timeframe we had available there was only one opera that fitted our joint criteria, and that was "Orphee et Eurydice" which was better known to us as "Orpheus in the Underworld".  "Orphee et Eurydice" was a French version of this famous opera, first produced for the Paris Opera in 1774. Choosing a ticket price was more difficult.  They were very expensive. We all agreed that this might be the one and only time we would see an opera at this famous venue, so we decided not to spoil it by penny pinching. Our tickets cost $110 each, which we believe is good value in international terms for an operatic performance in such a high-class venue. Dress code was smart casual or dress. We managed something in between, without adding to the overall expense of the occasion. We were anchored in Balls Head Bay, which was the opposite side of the harbour to the Opera House. We had to row ashore onto a beach, in bare feet and with our trousers well rolled up the legs. We pulled the dinghy up the beach and chained it to a tree, and then tiptoed over some scattered rocks along the beach until we reached a spot where we could dry our feet, roll down our trousers and put on our shoes and socks. Bill had the use of his brother's car, so we drove over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and arrived at the Opera House underground car park with time to spare. We walked along Circular Quay and had an alfresco snack of salmon pate and a glass of wine at an oyster bar overlooking the ferry terminal and the harbour bridge. By the time we returned to the Opera House it was practically time to find our seats, and we settled down for the performance. The singing was entirely in French, but the story line was familiar to us and not difficult to follow. The music was superb and the costumes and scenery were marvellous. What really did catch us by surprise was the startling vitality and excitement of the dancing and the action. Quite different to what we had expected from a classic opera. At the interval, over a bottle of Australian champagne, we discussed the opera with Bill and Megan and were unanimous in our esteem for the performance and were in complete agreement that it had been money well spent. The inexpensive Australian champagne we were drinking will soon be no more, or at least it will not be called "champagne", because of objections by the French. Australian wine companies producing sparkling white champagne-type wines are looking around for a new name for their wines which can compete with the prestige of the genuine Champagnes. In our opinion the Australian versions have no problem competing on price and quality. The second half of the opera was every bit as exciting as the first half, and we were enthralled right to the end. We drove back to Balls Head Bay with occasional flashes of lightning decorating the horizon and hurried from the parked car to our dinghies to try to get back to our boats before it rained. We had trouble with our padlock, and it seemed that we did not have the correct key on the key ring. It was already starting to spot with rain and rolls of thunder warned that the storm was quite near. It was decided we would go in Belle's dinghy to their boat, then borrow the dinghy and get the correct key from Tusk, then rescue our dinghy and return Belle's dinghy. This was expedited exactly as planned except that before it was completed, Brian, still in his opera togs, was frantically rowing Belle's aluminium dinghy in torrential rain, with zips of crackling lightning crashing from the black sky all around, a most anxious and uncomfortable finish to a superb evening.


Clubs & Pubs

One disappointing aspect of most of Australia is the lack of pleasant relaxing places to sit and enjoy a quiet drink.  "Pokies", that is gambling machines, always dominate the seating areas, and bars usually have hard upright seats and seem to be designed for hosing down every night, when they close. A good pub in Australia is a rare find.


Australia Day 1996

On the 26th January 1788, 11 ships that had travelled for eight months with a cargo of 1000 men and women shackled below decks, with 500 head of livestock and poultry, arrived at Port Jackson to set up the first convict settlement in Australia. This is the event which is now nominated as the birth of the nation, and is celebrated every year as a national holiday. Port Jackson, better known as Sydney Harbour to most of the world, is the natural centrepiece of the celebrations, which include a ferry race, a tall ships race, scores of yacht and dinghy races and a flags afloat parade culminating in an evening concert and fireworks on the harbour. Good company, good food and drink are an essential ingredient to the enjoyment of the entertainment. We were invited to spend the day on 'Belle' together with Bill's brother's family. Megan prepared the lion's share of the food but we all contributed a few bits and pieces from the Deli, and brought along a bottle or two of wine, of appropriate quality for the occasion. Belle cruised out of our quiet anchorage in beautiful weather, and was soon in the main channel which was now wild rough water due to the churning of hundreds of vessels of all sizes going in all directions. A bottle or two of Australian champagne were popped by the time we passed under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and found a spot from which we could enjoy our food and watch the ferry race and the tall ships race. The ferries have been in service carrying countless numbers of Sydneysiders to work and play to all corners of the harbour for many years. They are an important and integral part of the Sydney public transport system but are due for retirement and replacement with more modern vessels. So this was to be the last year these particular ferries would race. The large green painted vessels, decorated with balloons and streamers were an impressive sight as they steamed at top speed down the harbour followed by hundreds of spectator craft. After a short lull the tall ships could be seen gathering in Campbells Cove. Midday they headed for the start line. The race is arranged in one direction only, depending on the wind, for most of these ships were square-riggers, such as the reproduction "Bounty". These ships are mostly used for tourist harbour cruises, or for charter, or for youth adventure training. They have engines but can be rather difficult to manage in confined waters. They motor to the start line which is set upwind, and sail downwind to the finish line at the Harbour Bridge.  They made a magnificent spectacle, especially when they are all close together. After the tall ships the racing yachts and dinghies took over the whole harbour. Sydney has an incredible variety of racing yachts ranging from well known international classes to famous local classes like the 18 ft skiffs, and odd boats about 6 ft long with bowsprits twice as long as the boat and a gaff rig that towered to unmanageable proportions above the tiny hull. We motored through these fleets down the harbour to Manly. We dropped Bill's brother's daughter and friends off at the Manly wharf so that they could get to a 'gig' and we anchored at spring cove. The Cove was packed with boats and soon after we arrived we saw a display by the British Red Arrows over the harbour. Then we were ready to take a siesta in the now rather warm afternoon. As the sun was setting we were heading back up the harbour to find a spot from which we could watch the fireworks. We anchored in a cove on the north west side of the harbour bridge. It was a good spot from which to watch the activity on the water but it turned out to be a miscalculation. We only saw the fireworks set off on the top of the city buildings and our view of the main display in Darling Harbour was obscured. It was a minor disappointment considering the fun we had, and we agreed it had been quite an exciting and memorable day.


Green Travellers

Sydney has one of the best-integrated public transport systems in the world. It incorporates buses, trains and ferries. The frequency of the services vary, but within a reasonable walk there is usually a public service that can get you to where you want to go, at almost any time of the day or night. We did a lot of travelling in the greater Sydney area and were never in danger of being stranded and resorting to expensive taxis. We concentrated our sightseeing into weekly blocks so that we could take advantage of the travel pass. There are more than ten classes of travel pass which vary in price and the extent you can have unlimited travel on the system. We found the green travel pass most to our liking. This gave us unlimited travel on the buses and ferries all across the city, and limited travel on the inner city rail system. Using this pass we would hop on and off buses to save time even when the distance was short enough to walk.



We would never have seen Melbourne if it had not been for Gill and Alex. We were all members of the sailing club in Jeddah when we were working there. They had settled back in their hometown to work, and invited us to visit as soon as they knew we were headed for Australia. We left Tusk on a mooring at Cammeray Marina in North Sydney, and caught an overnight train to Melbourne.

First day. We arrived about 7am, and Gill was waiting outside the station with a smiling face ready to drive us to their house. After meeting Alex and the children Nathan and Natasha, and exchanging all our news it was proposed that we spend the day visiting Healsville, a nature sanctuary, and call in to Domaine Chandon on the way. This is one of Australia’s finest

 producers of Champagne type wines. There was no free sampling, but the tasting room was bustling with people willing to pay to taste the produce by the glass. We very much enjoyed the stylish wine and a small snack, but the prices were rather daunting and we moved on. After a picnic lunch we reached the Healsville sanctuary and had an interesting afternoon taking a close-up look at many of the unique Australian animals, reptiles and birds. A most impressive display was an exhibition of birds of prey, flying free and being fed by their handlers on pieces of meat. They would fly low enough over the spectators to make most people instinctively duck.

Second day. Alex was at work so Gill drove the children and us to Sovereign Hill Goldmining Township. This is now a living Goldmining museum built on the site of one of Australia’s most famous goldmines. It was a very well constructed site which showed the original open cast mining techniques of 1851 to 1855, the Chinese tent villages to house the unskilled diggers, the development of the township during the years 1854 to 1861, the introduction of more sophisticated and efficient surface mining techniques using machinery, and the development of underground workings and tunnels which were in use from 1860 to 1918. Gold is still found on the mine and visitors are encouraged to pan for gold in a stream that runs through the site. After a bit of instruction on panning, Joyce was the first to find a small piece of gold, but we all found a speck or two of after trying for a while.

Third day. Gill is not a person that has time on her hands and we knew she had a busy schedule of things to do without having to entertain us. So we insisted on not taking up any more of her time, and set about exploring Melbourne on our own. There was plenty to do. We took a tram into the city. Melbourne has retained the use of its trams and they now provide a perfectly adequate city transport system, appealing to the eye and a major tourist attraction. The tourist office was our first call. After we introduced ourselves as British visitors we were given wads of info, and many marks on our map of things we should see. It was the most helpful tourist office we ever visited. We took a circular tour tram to get oriented with the layout of the city, but got off when we spotted the Museum of Victoria exhibition of whales and the sea. We spent a couple of hours at the exhibition, and learned a little about distinguishing features of the different whales. We might be able to tell what whales we are looking at next time we see them on the ocean. The general exhibits about the sea were very interesting but we had to tear ourselves away because there were so many things still to do. Next we visited Cooks Cottage. The cottage was presented to the people of Melbourne to commemorate the centenary of the State of Victoria. It was dismantled at its original site in Great Ayton, England and reassembled in Fitzroy Gardens. Captain Cooks father, later in life, actually owned the cottage. There is some question as whether the famous Captain actually set foot in the cottage at all. Presuming he would have visited his parents between voyages, it is likely he at least would have slept there a night or two. We next toured the main shopping precincts and returned to Gill and Alex’s house for dinner.

Last day. We joined a guided walk of the Royal Botanic Gardens in the morning but the highlight of our visit to Melbourne was probably the Exhibition of Arthur Streeton originals at the National Gallery of Victoria. Our guide was a lady, very knowledgeable on the life and works of the painter and bubbling with enthusiasm to pass her knowledge onto anyone that was interested. We most appreciated the paintings of the Australian landscape, which gave impressions of Australia as you would expect it to be, but is in fact very difficult to find. We reluctantly headed back to the house to pack and be ready to catch an early train back to Sydney next morning.


Broken Bay

We left Sydney city the second week in March and anchored inside the heads of Port Jackson at Spring Cove. The weather was grim and grey with heavy showers. So we stayed on board and waited. Next day the weather was still grey and dismal, but the wind was moderate. We motored against the wind until we were clear of the North Head and then sailed. We trailed a fishing line and caught a tuna of about 2 or 3 Kg. Rounding the South Head of Broken Bay we again headed into the wind and tacked up the Pittwater keeping out of the way of racing boats also criss-crossing the channel. We anchored in Towlers Bay, a pleasant wooded bay beside the Ku Ring Gai National Park. Next day there was no wind. We motored slowly around the edge of Pittwater, around Scotland Island and past the famous Bayview and Newport yacht clubs. When we had seen enough we picked up a mooring in Coasters retreat, had lunch, and then in improving weather went ashore for a walk around an almost enclosed saltwater basin joined to Coasters retreat by a narrow channel. Rock outcrops stopped us from walking all around the basin so we returned to Coasters and walked along the beach. For dinner we cooked our Tuna, North Africa style, baked with fresh tomato, lemon and harissa. We stayed on the mooring for several days, going ashore to enjoy `sundowners’ with fellow cruisers at the picnic tables. We looked around the interesting little exhibition in the visitors center depicting what was known of the history of the retreat, and hiked up to some Aboriginal rock carvings near the road. It appears that there is no way of dating the carvings so they are estimated as between 200 yrs and 5000 yrs old. There are three groups of drawings scratched onto flat rock and depicting people, hunting implements, fish and wallabies. On a quiet evening, we could see kangaroos, small rodents, snakes and lizards over a meter long scrambling away into the undergrowth as we caught them by surprise. We set out next for Apple Tree Bay, the wind was light and fickle, so we were motoring. The engine suddenly started overheating and smoking from around the exhaust manifold, so we anchored where we were in deep water to check the problem. We found the water inlet partly blocked with weed, and a hole had blown in the exhaust manifold. The water inlet was easily cleared, but the hole in the exhaust manifold was a problem. We plugged the hole using a tube of plastic metal, and then sailed and gently motored back the way we came to the nearest workshop which was at Mitchell’s Marina on the Pittwater. The manifold was repaired in two days and we then tied up at Mitchell’s Marina fuel dock to get fuel and water. There, we were approached by a local ferry captain, who told us about a boat the same as ours in Little Lovett Bay.  We are always very interested in meeting other owners of Golden Hinds so we made a beeline for Little Lovett Bay and found a Golden Hind named Golden Opportunity moored outside a lovely wooden colonial style house.  A neighbour the other side of the bay saw us circling Golden Opportunity and phoned the owners who were in the house but had not seen us. Shortly afterwards Tusk was anchored off the house and we were enjoying drinks and flapjack on the veranda overlooking the bay with the owners Nick and Ann Reeves.  They owned Golden Opportunity from new, and had sailed from England to new jobs awaiting them in Australia so that their children would see more of the world than if the trip was completed by air.  The house they now had was not accessible by road, and they used an aluminium dinghy, or tinny as they are called locally, to get to Church Point to link up with the road. We had a look around each other’s boats and then bid a reluctant farewell with the promise to call again if we were in the area.  The next two weeks we explored the creeks and bays within the Broken Bay area. We particularly enjoyed Apple Tree Bay, and did several long forest walks in that area. One of these walks took us North along Cowen Creek to Waratah Bay, then inland to scramble up a steep heavily wooded gorge to Berowra railway station. Trains were not running but a substitute bus service was laid on which got us to Mt. Kuring Gai Station, where we took a forest track back to Cowan Creek and Apple Tree Bay. We saw large lizards (4ft long) and what we think were Turkey birds. There were also many cockatoos, particularly the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Highlights of our cruising around Broken Bay included several long walks, visiting secluded creeks, showering under a waterfall at Akuna Bay, picking oysters off the rocks, finding unmarked Aboriginal rock carvings hidden in the bush. We also enjoyed the villages and small towns around the edge such as Brooklyn, and Woy Woy on Brisbane Water off the north side of Broken Bay. 


Tusk Bumps Up The Hawkesbury.

Hawkesbury is the main river that runs into Broken Bay. It is berated by some as spoilt, due to riverside development, pollution, and overuse for recreational purposes. We had a delightful trip up the river, and thought the cavilling exaggerated. It meanders though countryside North of Sydney, and navigation is possible up to the town of Windsor, 60 Km from the sea. Access is limited by the railway and road bridges, which have a clearance of 11.8m and 11.5m respectively. Low water gives an extra 1.6m at least. This was still too little for us, but it was possible to swivel our VHF antenna into a horizontal position, giving the clearance we need. We arrived at Brooklyn Rail Bridge with the last of the outgoing tide, allowing us to stem the tide and approach at dead slow speed, without the risk of current carrying us unwillingly under the bridge. It looked awfully close, and our mouths went dry, but as the mast drew level it became clear there was clearance and we accelerated under the bridge. The road bridge was lower, and it was not yet the lowest tide. We waited and then went though at dead low tide with less than 1 meter to spare. We followed the river, which was cloaked in forested hills and rock cliffs, and a sprinkling of houses, then turned off, into Berowra Creek. This is narrower than the Hawkesbury, and more secluded. Water skiing and aquaplaning are banned, it is a popular spot to fish for flathead and bream. There are bays off the creek with oyster leases, mangroves, and craggy open woodlands.  It was dark as we arrived at Berowra Waters, with its numerous moorings, a chain ferry, and a cluster of restaurants. Next morning we visited Berowa Waters Inn to book a champagne and seafood buffet for that night. To our dismay the tables were all booked. We were offered a lunchtime table tucked away in an inside corner. Not matching up to our predilection we declined. We spent the rest of the day on a bush walk along the upper reaches of Berowa Creek with glorious views along the river from high vantage points. That evening we had fish and chips at a cafe overlooking our anchorage. In the morning we headed back into the Hawkesbury.  There were shoal areas and several times we missed the channel and scraped over mud but past Bar Point the channel was deeper. By lunch we reached Spencer Point, an attractive village with a colonial atmosphere. Spencer is on a Mangrove creek off the main river. We rowed ashore and found a curious little store selling odds and ends, and some snacks and beer, which the patrons took to a table by the waterside.  The interesting looking Dunkirk Hotel seemed to be closed. We returned to Tusk and continued up river. The bank was lined with mangroves, rock formations, farms and a few caravan sites. The water was deep and navigation not a problem. That night we anchored on a broad bend at the start of One Tree Reach. It was a delightful rural anchorage. We watched the birds, the fish jumping, and occasional traffic passing until well after dark. Next morning we traversed One Tree Reach and Trollope Reach to arrive at Wisemans Ferry by midday. This small town owes its existence to a ferry that has been in business since early this century. The chain ferry acts as a funnel through which traffic for miles around is directed if they need to cross the river. The one road town is full of tourist shops and eating-places and is quietly busy with passing trade. We found meat and vegetables, and talked to an estate agent about the river. We were concerned about the reputation of the river to have spectacular floods. We were assured that there would be several days warning if there was risk of flooding and we would have time to reach safety before the situation became dangerous. He pointed out a cruising guide on sale that described the river in detail. With a copy in hand we set out for the upper reaches. There are no navigation aids, the channel depth varies and meanders from bank to bank, and the water is muddy. The bends are easiest to read. As the river sweeps around a bend it scours the outside and deposits silt on the inside. So the outside of the bend is deep and the inside is shallow. Cutting a bend can result in a sudden grounding. On the straight the channel tends to meander from side to side. The cruising guide gave some indication as to which side of the river the channel could be found on some stretches, but left it that the channel often changed during flood conditions, and could not be easily predicted. We passed through Bathhurst Reach, Half Moon Bends, Liverpool Reach, Gloucester Reach, Sussex Reach, Cambridge Reach, Cumberland Reach, Kent Reach and Sackville. We anchored near Sackville Caravan Park, and we could hear the strange tinkling sound made by hundreds of Bellbirds in the nearby forest. Depths had been variable, from 14 meters down 2 meters, but leaving Sackville next morning we went over 1.2 meters, then it went deeper, and then we ran aground. The engine in reverse did not get us off so we laid out a kedge anchor, and used the engine and a winch together to pull off. We probed different parts of the river and found deep water against the south bank, but from here we frequently ran aground. We soon developed a few tentative assumptions. The deep section of the straight seemed always to follow the extension of the outside of the bend downstream. If part of the bank is a sheer rock cliff, the deep water was directly under the cliff. The depth sounder often did not give an early enough warning.  Whenever we ran aground we stayed there until Brian had taken the dinghy across the river and probed the depths with a long stick. There was always a deep channel somewhere, it was a matter of finding it. We made notes on the cruising guide as we went so that we would have a better idea of where to go when we sailed downstream. This was invaluable on our return trip when we avoided running aground at all. The river took us past the Cattai National Park and through low wetlands where we saw many types of water birds. Willow trees line the banks and there are reputed to be foxes, black snakes and platypus. We anchored at Port Erringhi for lunch, watched water skiers, and then carried on to anchor at Windsor Bridge by evening.  The center of town consisted of stylish old brick houses converted to fashionable shops, a lot of which were antique shops for which Windsor is famous. We wandered in and out of small dark shops of furniture and peoples junk of yesteryear that can be bought at fancy prices. During our day at Windsor, coaches disgorged tourists onto the streets for a half hour before carrying on, but we decided the best reason to visit Windsor was the river trip. We had quite a few stops in mind for the trip back, so we were happy to be on our way. We left mid afternoon, and reached Cattai National Park before sunset, in time to row ashore and a walk in the park. Next day we continued to Sackville and had a long walk to the Tizzana Winery, a small winery that made a reputation for itself in the 1880’s to the 1920’s, then closed. It was now run as a winery, restaurant and tourist attraction by relatives of the old family. We hoped to have lunch there, if the prices were not outrageous. On the way we came upon a colonial graveyard, with headstones telling the story of the hardships of the early settlers. St. Thomas Church of England, on a hill further along the road, replaced two earlier churches that were destroyed by flood and fire. The church had a marker in the grounds showing the height of the water in the great flood of 1867. The level reached 63ft above the normal river. It was awe inspiring to imagine what it must have looked like, and what it must have felt like, to be involved in such a flood. The winery was a delight and worth a visit. We wandered around the outside and it seemed rather private. Another couple arrived by car and were nearly ready to leave when Joyce knocked on the door to inquire. After a brief wait, the owner invited us all inside. The cellar had old grape presses and vats, storage barrels and racks of bottles. He pointed out the vineyards on a distant hill, and explained that they were having difficulty growing grapes of quality, but were progressing. We sampled some produce, which was pleasant, and he drew our attention to selected vintages that were offered for sale from other small vineyards. We chose a bottle of Tizzana wine that had been produced on the premises. When we drank it later, we found it to be of rather poor quality. They had not attracted enough trade to justify keeping the restaurant open, so we were unable to have lunch. Back on Tusk we continued down river to anchor at Gloucester Reach that night.  We reached Wisemans Ferry next day and went ashore to get groceries. Next day we crossed the river by ferry to look at a road built by convicts in 1829. It is one of the spectacular engineering achievements in NSW. Cut into a rock mountain it has a steep incline and massive ramparts, cuttings and drains formed with solid rock blocks. Drill holes for explosives used to split the rock can be clearly seen along the cliff face left after the blasting. It was built by 500 convicts on a ration of 1.5lbs of flour, 1lb of meat and 2oz of sugar per day per man. Stones are individually shaped and expertly fitted with no mortar, and built without modern machinery. Interpretive plaques are placed along the road explaining details of construction. The scenery is forest, with distant views of the winding river. While we were there the fire brigade, to reduce the risk of uncontrolled forest fires, was burning off the underbrush.  The next few days we motored gently down the river, and were treated to cool misty mornings and brown leaves started covering the grass. It was a reminder that this was March, the southern autumn.  We needed to press on North all to soon. 


Boatyards, boatyards, boatyards.

Our plans were now constrained by our intention to visit the UK in May. We needed to get Tusk to a boatyard to haul out in time for our departure. We had looked at all the boatyards and decided that Coffs Harbour Slipway suited our needs. Yards use different pricing structures to maximize the return on the resources they have available. A boatyard with large hard standing may have a low charge for storage ashore, but charge more for lifting in and out. A yard with a small storage area and repair facilities might make hard standing expensive in order to obtain a fast turnover for the workshop. Some yards include a pressure wash and some do not. Some charge extra for props or cradles. Some will not allow live aboards in the yard, and some will, some charge extra for live aboards. Some allow you to do your own work, and a few only allow work be done by the boatyard. Some allow you to use subcontractors and some do not. Occasionally the subcontractor must pay a commission to the boatyard. Some apply so many rules that your contractor walks off the job in frustration. Some allow you to buy your materials anywhere from the cheapest source and others insist you buy all your materials from them. Security against unauthorized intruders and the competence of the boatyard staff in handling and moving boats are also vital factors. So is the cleanliness of the yard. So if you have a few alternatives, a lot of work, and a lot of questions and calculations are needed before deciding which boatyard will be best. A few cheaper yards are located in the back and beyond which is often not so good if you have a lot of work to do. We have infrequent haul outs and do a lot of work when we do haul out, so we like to be near a town. Coffs Harbour Slipway suited us for price and easy access to facilities we required.


Broken Bay to Coffs.

We left Broken Bay with the sky full of chaotic clouds and a light SW wind. A large swell made sailing uncomfortable so we motor sailed. The approach to Lake Macquarie is shallow, and we could not see any leading marks, so we called the Coastguard on the radio. They told us to go close to a row of red buoys and follow them in. They also told us the road bridge across the entrance channel would be opening shortly. We gunned the engine, and made it though the bridge, saving a long delay. The next problem was a ledge where the entrance channel joins the lake. We recorded 1.7 m depth, a comfortable margin for us. Lake Macquarie is a huge saltwater lake and a cruising area in its own right. We anchored off Belmont, and spent a day exploring ashore. Leaving the next day we missed a bridge opening, so we had to anchor and wait. We again had light winds and arrived at Port Stephens at dusk. This is one of the all weather entrances on the Australian East coast. In the increasing gloom we had difficulty picking out the leading marks, and we could see swirling overfalls. When we were clear of the shallows that complicate the entrance we followed the shore side navigation lights, until we reached Nelson.   We anchored, and while Joyce cooked dinner, Brian put a fishing line over the side. Using strips of Tuna from a previous catch, he hooked three Bream, a Flathead and an Eel. Nelson is a small town providing tourist activities, and is one of the prime property areas of NSW. The estuary is mainly shallow but extensive and surrounded by bush and low hills. We spent next day exploring ashore, including a bus trip.  We left at sunrise to sail to Cape Hawke Harbour. It was again very light winds, aft of the beam, then forward of the beam, then dead calm. We motored all the way and the only event worth noting was that we caught one fish and were accompanied by dolphins through the entrance channel to Cape Hawke Harbour. We anchored on the north side of the harbour, which has a town on each side of the estuary. We footed quickly around Tuncurry, crossed the bridge and looked around Forster, had swim in the YMCA swimming pool, and a hot shower. We finished our day at the cinema. It was very cool next morning, but fine and clear. We sailed part of the way but were obliged to motor in order to reach Camden Haven before the tide changed on the bar.  The harbour is actually a shallow river, and it is necessary to follow channel markers carefully. We anchored at Laurieton. On the day we spent there we took a long walk up North Brother Mountain by road. It was a round trip of 10 miles. The steep climb up the mountain left us frequently out of breath, and with aching leg muscles. The views from the top were extraordinary, and the coastline could be seen for miles in both directions. A family with a campervan invited us for a cup of tea. So we sat and chatted with them for over an hour. They told us of their circumnavigation of Australia by road, and we told of our travels by sea. We had planned to walk down using a bush path, but with the sun low in the sky we were uncertain we could make it before dark, so we headed back down the road. It was dark as we rowed out to Tusk, and probably because of tiredness we climbed out of the dinghy without securing the oars.  Joyce jumped back into the dinghy and immediately lost her balance. With arms flailing like a Dutch windmill she slowly toppled over backwards into the black, cold, fast flowing water. She grabbed the dinghy before being swept away by the current, and with great difficulty Brian pulled her aboard, now much heavier with sodden clothes and walking boots. We had enough exercise for one day. We weighed anchor from Laurieton at first light next morning. It was peaceful as we crossed the bar, and the wind continued light and variable to Port Macquarie. We like Port Macquarie and stayed several days, writing some newssheet, bussing out to Lake Cathie for a picnic, repairing the dinghy, and going to the cinema. There were strong wind warnings for the area north of us, but our sail to the Macleay River was dogged by light winds, we used 10 hours of motoring to do 37 miles against the southerly current. We arrived late at the bar and the tide was ebbing, not a good time to cross, but it was calm. We anchored off Leisure Craft, a rough and ready boat rental business. Next day we had a walk to South West Rocks. It was pleasant along the river edge, past mangrove swamps, holiday camps and housing estates, eventually into the town perched on a steep bluff over Trial Bay. Our first call was the tourist center, which was a small museum of local history. There we fell into conversation with one of the staff, Jenny, who invited us back to her house for tea and muffins at 5pm. We looked around town, got a few groceries, had a beer at the pub, then sat on the grass hill of Pt Piner and read newspapers. At 4pm we headed for Jenny’s house, which was on our way back to Tusk.  She had converted her house into a home stay, with an artist studio including all materials which could be used by the guests. It was a nice set up and would certainly provide the artist, or the aspiring beginner, a chance to work away from distractions. Jenny had lots of stories about South West Rocks, and told us about an Australian yacht that sought shelter from a NE gale, dragged anchor and was wrecked on the beach. When it was time for us to go, it was thundery, with lightening and spots of rain. There was no shelter along the road so we were grateful when Jenny drove us back. Next day there was a strong Southerly wind and it was overcast with heavy rain. We stayed put.  Next day it was dull and showery, and although there were strong wind warnings north and south of us, our forecast was moderate. We decided to make a final dash for Coffs Harbour. It was calm, but dull with showers. We caught two Tuna. We anchored in Coffs harbour, and had a rolly night. We took our dinghy into the boatyard and agreed we would be hauled out next morning, Tuesday. We moved Tusk into a marina berth for one night, later the boatyard manger said Wednesday would be better because he had a boat on the slip waiting for clear weather to do some welding. Wednesday it was blowing a gale and there were periods of rain. In the following days the NE gale developed into a storm, and the boat on the slipway had still not moved. Huge seas built up outside the harbour and waves started breaking over the high breakwater. One yacht got safely through the entrance only to be knocked down inside the harbour. One fully crewed 60 footer surfed spectacularly though the entrance, then the Coastguard declared the harbour closed until conditions moderated. The sea coming over the breakwater filled an unattended fishing boat on the same pier as us. The boat sank, and pulled the finger pier down, breaking joints on the main pier and severing the water line and electric cable. We had to move to another pontoon.  The storm continued for a week, and it was 10 days after our arrival before we were hauled out, with only 3 days to go before our flight. We worked like maniacs to sand the bottom so that it was clean and would dry out well while we were away.


Home Again.

Bob of `Waylander’ gave us a lift to the Train in their car. At Sydney we stayed overnight with friends Bill and Megan on `Belle’ with dinner on board. Next morning we were drenched by rain as we took the dinghy to the shore, and arrived at the airport like drowned rats. The flight was delayed, and when we arrived in the UK we were very tired. We knew six weeks would not be enough to do everything we would have liked, but we had to balance this against the time we needed to complete the long list of jobs back in Coffs. The time was spent with the family, and we felt we should have a longer trip back to the UK to have time to look up friends. We promised ourselves we would do this next time.


Back at Coffs harbour.

We did a huge amount of work on Tusk while we were in Coffs Harbour Slipway, working from 9 to 5 at least, and mostly seven days a week. It is surprising how many jobs both small and large you can find on a live aboard boat. Most of the time was spent on preparing and painting the bottom with Interprotect, a barrier paint to help to delay the onset of Osmosis in fiberglass hulls. We replaced deck Treadmaster and painted the cabin top, resealed the cabin windows, and replaced some teak mounting pads on such items as stanchions. Some upholstery was replaced. The fiberglass dinghy was strengthened, leaks fixed, and painted to look nearly new again. The gas stove was stripped down and rebuilt with a lot of new parts. A new Ham radio was installed and a controller for the TNC was built so that it could be used with the new radio for HF and 2meters. Anchors were sandblasted and re-galvanized. Some sheets, reefing lines and the topping lift were replaced. The engine cooling system was thoroughly overhauled with new parts and it was given a thorough service. Scores of long standing minor jobs were done between the major items.  The weather throughout was perfect for working. It was dry and sunny, and not too hot for manual work. We hired a car for three days for Joyce’s birthday to do some touring. We visited the coast North and South of Coffs, and the inland National Parks and reserves. On our wedding anniversary we also had a day off, and spent the day walking the beaches and cliffs North of Coffs and in the evening went to a wine tasting gourmet dinner and talk on Australian wines given by a director of Brown Brothers, one of the prime vintners of Australia. We were disappointed with the talk which was without microphone, and could hardly be heard where we were sitting. But the food, wine and company were excellent, and the speaker did come over to our table afterwards and give us a resume of the important parts of his talk. We also had four days off to fly to New Zealand so as to qualify for a new Australian visa. We got discounted flights to Christchurch, but the weather was miserable and we thought Christchurch did not live up to its claim of being the city of gardens. Although we thoroughly enjoyed our haul out at Coffs it was with some relief when we were winched down the antiquated looking but effective railway slip back into the water. 


Digger Joe and Opal Lil.

While we were at Coffs Harbour we became friends with a colourful retired couple. Joe and Lil had an Aluminium motor cruiser custom built and had spent some time cruising the Australian coast before settling down to make Coffs harbour a base. Joe and Lil take their campervan North to the Australian desert and dig and fossick for opals and semi precious gems. They then take them back to Coffs Harbour and put them in a gem-polishing machine, and end up with a small collection of lovely polished stones and gems. They gave us lifts to the shops, and we had a few sundowners and a barbecue or two together during our stay in the boatyard. We wish them many years of successful digging, and hope they will sometime hit the jackpot by finding a valuable gem.



Summary of Tusks Log.


Date:               Passage To:                Dist. Time  Eng      Wind             Remarks

                                                            Nm    Hrs    Hrs      Dir/kts          

27Nov/5Dec   At Coffs Harbour                                                             Nice relaxing holiday town.

5/6Dec            Port Macquarie              62     14        6      Var-N/0-30    Dramatic weather changes.

14/15Dec        Spring Cove Manly     174     32      32      NE/4-15         Motor sailed for quick passage.

15Dec/9Mar    Various anchorage’s around Sydney Harbour

9Mar                Towlers Bay, Pittwater 26       9        1      Var-SE/5-12  Fickle sailing conditions

10Mar             Coasters Retreat              6       4        1      Var-SE/0-10  Sailed around Pittwater

12Mar             Towlers Bay, Pittwater    9       6        1      None-NE10   Via Refuge Bay, engine failed

13Mar             Mc Carr Creek                 2       1        0      Var/5-8          Exhaust flange repaired

15Mar             Apple Tree Bay               1       1        1      None              Michel Marina/fuel/water

15Mar             Little Lovet Bay              1       1        1      None              Visited owners of GH162

15Mar             Apple Tree Bay             14       5        5      None              Explored several creeks

18Mar             Smith Creek                     5       1        1      None              Lunch stop, beautiful place

18Mar             Akuna Bay                      5       2        2      None              Anchored off quiet marina

19Mar             Refuge Bay                     9       3        3      None              A popular crowded anchorage

20Mar             Brooklyn                          3       1        1      None              Used the police mooring

23Mar             CrosslandBay,Berrowa10 3       3   N/A                             Touristy but nice

25Mar am        Spencer Point                12       3        3      N/A               Start up the Hawksbury River

25Mar  pm      Lower Hawkesbury       11       3        3      N/A               Farms & forest

26Mar am        Wisemans Ferry               7       2        2      N/A               Delightful village

26Mar  pm      Sackville North              20       4        4      N/A               Caravan parks and forest

27Mar  am       Port Erraghi                     5       1        1      N/A               Farmland, water-skiers

27Mar  pm      Windsor Bridge             10       4        4      N/A               Old world town

28Mar  pm      Cattai National Park        7       2        2      N/A               Walked around the park

29Mar  am       Sackville Ski Gardens     9       3        3      N/A               Walked to Tizzana Winery

29Mar  am       Gloucester Reach            9       3        3      N/A               Quiet rural anchorage

30Mar am        Wisemans Ferry             12       3        3      N/A               Walked the convict road

31Mar  am       One tree reach                 5       2        2      N/A               Rural anchorage    

1Apr am          The Vines, Milsons Isle 15       4        4      N/A               We wait for tide change

1Apr pm          Brooklyn                          5       2        2      N/A               Moored ,small boat harbour

3Apr                Gosford, Brisbane Water 15      4        4      N/A               Explored Gosford town

7Apr                St Huberts Isle                 5       2        2      N/A               Looking for old friends

8Apr                Woy Woy                        2       1        1      N/A               Handy shopping town

11Apr              Coasters Retreat            10       3        3      N/A               Attractive anchorage        

12Apr              Around Pittwater            8       2        2      N/A               Just pottering around

13Apr              Lake Macquarie             43     11      11     None-SW10  Dull day, mainly light wind

15Apr              Nelson                           43     11      11      SE/4-8           Clear day, light wind

17Apr              Cape Hawke Hbr           46     10        9      Var/0-10        Fine, light shifty wind

19Apr              Camden Haven              41     11        5      W-S-NE/4-6  Fine, but light variable winds

21Apr              Port Macquarie              18       4        4      None/W10     Calm, but significant swell

26Apr              Macleay River               37     10      10      Var/0-11        Mostly calm, light headwind

29Apr              Coffs Harbour               36       8        8      W-SW/2-5     Calm, cloudy, rain

29Apr/30Nov  At Coffs Harbour                                                             Haul out and visit to UK

1Dec               Macleay River               33       8        8      Var-SE/0-8    Clear sunny day

3Dec               Port Macquarie              38       7        7      S/8-14            Wind on the nose

11Dec             Cape Hawk Harbour     53     12        6      E-NE/5-10     Slow sailing, large swell

15Dec             Nelson Bay                    46     10        9      S-SW/4-10     Motor sailing, close hauled

16Dec             Coasters Retreat,Pittwtr74     14      12      NE10-20        Bad weather threatening

18Dec              Rose Bay, Sydney Hbr 22       5        5      None-S06      Overcast with light winds



Chapter 18

Tusk in the Flags Afloat parade.

See ‘Australia Day 1997’ below.


Seconds of Sydney

When we sailed into Sydney Harbour for the second time it was exactly a week before Christmas. We anchored first in Rose Bay that is about half way between the entrance and the bridge, and visited nearby shopping centres. We had no friends in Sydney this time so we had no schedules to meet, and we had complete freedom to please ourselves as to what we did. We made a list of things we wanted to do, included assignments necessary to keep our affairs, Tusk, and ourselves in good order. These were sorted according to priorities, time constraints and dates, effectively removing our apparent freedom and putting us on a new schedule. But it did mean not much time was wasted.  To do our main Christmas shopping we anchored at Drummoyne, which is upstream from the bridge. We anchored at Spring Cove, near the harbour entrance, for Christmas. The anchorage was quiet on Christmas day and we had a traditional Turkey dinner on board, and shared Christmas drinks with another boat anchored nearby. On Boxing Day, Sydney boaters turned out in their thousands, and most of them tried to anchor in spring cove. Some motorboats did not seem to have a clue as to how to anchor. We climbed North Heads for a view of the start of the famous Sydney Hobart race, and had magnificent views of the start of the race in the far distance, and the boats tacking down the harbour and through the entrance heads and out to sea. When we got back to Tusk the cove was wall-to-wall boats anchored and rafted together. Mid afternoon the wind suddenly changed direction and strengthened and there was a frenzy of engines starting as the badly anchored boats started clashing together and dragging into one another. Most weighed anchor and left the cove. We watched intently, with our engine running, ready to fend off any troublesome boats, but luckily we escaped any serious trouble. But we did find afterwards our heavy teak rubbing strake had been hit and splintered near the stern, it must have happened while we were walking ashore and watching the race at North Heads. 


Sydney Harbour Anchorages.

Where to anchor.   Sydney Harbour is crowded with many conflicting interests. Responsibility for ensuring the fair and efficient use of the harbour resources is the job of the Waterways Authority.

A foreign yacht arriving should report to Waterways, and get a permit to anchor. The permit says the only place you are allowed to anchor is Balls Head Bay.  If you do not know about the Water- ways Authority and anchor sensibly where it suits you, you will probably be ignored. A Waterways launch may visit and explain the rules and regulations and direct you to Balls Head Bay. They do not seem to bother with temporarily anchored yachts, so change anchorage regularly and you may be lucky to have freedom of the Harbour.