Saturday 30 March 2019

Exploring Hiva Oa

Tintin hasn't moved since dropping the anchor here on Sunday. Hiva Oa is a wonderful island to explore after weeks at sea. Walking ashore, it is so green. There are bright abundant tropical flowers, and mango trees dropping their fruit along the roadside. Bananas, papayas, pamplemousse, jackfruit and star fruit too. Birds sing.

Having got down to our last orange and lime on board, this is a wonderful place to make landfall. The last boat in the fleet arrived yesterday to the sound of fog horns and big cheers from others anchored in the bay.

The Marquesans are so friendly, very happy to help with any query, but no hustle whatsoever. We have hired a pickup truck (that's what everyone drives here) and explored the island. Up in the bowl of steep mountain ridges we found an archeological site with huge stone tikis (simple human forms with big eyes) and a terrace where ritual human sacrifices were made, in the not so distant days of cannabilism. The road to the north east is mostly gravel track, sometimes vertiginous along the cliffs, where it is hot and arid until the track dips down to a village by a bay, a green valley and coconut groves with racks of copra drying in the sun.

Lizzie, James and Bridget arrived on a small plane yesterday, and it is fabulous to be together again. Tomorrow we will sadly wave goodby to Steve as he starts his long journey home to Carlisle. We will then set off for the next island, Tahuatu. 10 miles for this next passage, not too far.

We have heard very good news from Nicki and Richard. The wounded arm is repairing well and they hope to rejoin us when we reach Bora Bora in May.

Thursday 28 March 2019

Monday 25 March 2019

On fishometers

Having been deprived of all technical aids in fishing, first by the theft in Peurta Ayora of Richard's best line and reel (so sorry Richard) and then by the age and non-functionality of the backup reel, we were forced to revert to primitive methods. This was, of course, a hand line.
Then we needed some warning of our future success in the form of a fishometer.
Mark 1 ,depicted in the first picture here, worked very well probably. Unfortunately the engine was on so we did not hear the cracker go off, but had evidence that it had worked in the spent cracker. And the splendid sail fish also shown here.
This was so beautiful that it got returned to fight another day.
I shall have to leave evidence of the mark ll version to be provided by future marine archeologists. But the fish that took it and a good part of the line must have been huge.
Progress was now rapid and advanced immediately to the Mark iv. This incorporated (see below) the Clever Little Improved Part (CLIP) and the Better Understood New Gear Elastic Extension (BUNGEE). Both of these parts worked faultlessly and resulted in the catching of the Skipjack Tuna shown. This was deemed not quite as pretty and was, instead,very tasty indeed.
To provide a bit of detail to the illustration, the cotton is, in fact, sail repair cotton. This is strong enough to hold the line drag but not a small skipjack tuna. When it breaks the old shackles make a Big Bang, everyone wakes up and hauls in the catch.
Worked like clockwork and all parts, except perhaps the cotton, are ready for reuse.
Engineering drawings available from Rob.
From Steve.

Marquesas landfall

We have arrived at the magnificent Marquesas, all safe and sound. Tintin was faultless as we sailed across from the Galapagos 3000 miles to these little islands in about the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

We have travelled 10,200 nautical miles since leaving Salcombe at the end of August.

The last 24 hours of the journey gave us wonderfully steady wind, and as day broke on Sunday we could see the islands 40 miles off. Towering cliffs and mountains made it easy to see them. To me it felt so reassuring to see land and know we were in the right place after all. Not the Truman show any more.

We sailed into Tahauku Bay at lunchtime and anchored fore and aft. We have slept, been welcomed ashore with wonderful flower garlands, marvelled at the greenness of the island, and have seen how many thousands of barnacles have been growing on the hull in the last 3 weeks. Rob is in the water now scraping them off while Steve keeps a sharp shark lookout!

I know many of you have been following our progress as we sailed over. Thank you.

Sunday 24 March 2019

Almost there, nearly

Today the wind has been playing games with us, dropping down at times
so that our boat speed has temporarily halved and Tintin wallows
around in the swell. It's surprisingly frustrating when we are so near
to landfall, but not sure if we will make it in before dark tomorrow
night or not. The bay on Hiva Oa is quite exposed and pretty crowded. We
won't risk entering in the dark, so all fingers on board are crossed for
enough wind and boat speed to get us there without the need to stand off
overnight tomorrow.

The Marquesaas are 9.5 hours behind GMT, so by the time you are
having breakfast or heading off to work on Monday morning in the UK I
hope we will have dropped our anchor.

I have been distracting myself today by baking bread
and a chocolate and walnut cake... it isn't so easy to concentrate on
anything when we are so close. It has been an amazing journey but I
think I speak for us all when I say we are so looking forward to
reaching the Marquesas!

Friday 22 March 2019

The Truman Show

Our progress across the charts, both paper and electronic, continues.
It really is the only evidence that we've moved at all. Some years ago
there was a film called The Truman Show, in which a rather dumb Jim
Carrey character comes to realise that his whole life is a reality-TV
show produced in a vast set and all the people in his life were
actually actors. He tries to escape by sailing away, only to
bump into the wall of the set. Since then they've obviously improved
the set for us by making the water move past the boat so we don't get to
the edge, but apart from that we could be in the same movie. We get
so-amazing-it-has-to-be-fake sunsets and moonrises. We get strange
creatures, squids & flying fish, landing on the deck. We're cut off
from the 'real world' almost completely - the only news we've had for
16 days has been that there was an exciting, tied, rugby match. Is
Brexit going to happen? Is May still PM? Who does the radio 2
breakfast show? No idea to all these; we're just in our bubble, about
5 miles to the horizon, not seen another boat for a week.

However, if we are in 'The Truman Show', the plot is a bit thin. To say
we've got into a routine doesn't really do justice to the word. One
day is almost indistinguishable from the next. The wind is the same,
the sails are in the same place. The sea is ever-changing - but only to
those who claim, like us, that a passage like this is never boring.
Happily for us, there has been no drama to raise the ratings. We're
all getting on well, no raised voice and no sulks (unless, of course,
I'm too obtuse to notice!). Our sailing set-up is pretty settled - for
the last 4 days a complete list of sail actions is:
19/3 am Put up Stingray (still with main)
19/3 pm Took down main
20/3 pm tightened starboard sheet by 2 turns
21/3 pm tightened pole up-haul by 6"
22/3 now midday - no action so far.

335miles to the Marquesas - where we find out if the islands exist or
it's all a big con!

Thursday 21 March 2019


From Steve,
It was 5 weeks ago tomorrow that I got a message from Rob asking if I
would be around at lunchtime the next day.
I speculated a bit to myself what it could be:-one of their children
needing bailing out of jail: watermaker gone completely kaput:book
flights home.
I did not expect "What are you doing in March?" fairly rapidly rephrased
to "What are you doing for March".."all of it".
Having got some leeway before replying, I thought quite carefully about
the pros and cons. It's a long way; flights aren't cheap; can I
actually get flights; can I get insurance?; what was I meant to be
doing? and ,of course, do I want to be travelling all that way on my own
and being away from home for so long:
The overwhelming thought in the end was that this was almost
certainly the only chance I was likely to get to come this far away
in the world. So will blessing of family and friends (Thank you Lynda
and everybody) I accepted.
Then you actually find that just dropping stuff is not that easy, I had
a present to finish making, things to cancel and so on.
But it all got done, just about, in time and I arrived roughly on time.
I think probably the most unlikely thing to be able to arrange was the
flights. The way out landed on what was no more than an airstrip and I
think the return is from an even smaller site. And virtually with one
click it was all arranged!
However, I was certainly right. I would almost certainly not have come
this way without this trip. I most certainly would not have spent 3
weeks out of sight of land or boats crossing the Pacific.
My image of the Galapagos is no longer David Attenborough talking
earnestly to an Iguana and discussing the significance of the number
of ridges on its back (or whatever) but rather of a huge and
varied wildlife community which exists almost entirely separately from
its numerous watchers, neither attracted to, or scared by, them. I only
had a chance to see a tiny fraction of the wildlife there, I suspect
only the actual workers get the full picture.
The sailing is much more what I was expecting. I crossed the Atlantic
with Rob and an impressive cast of 3 others (Hello all) back in 2011 so
knew largely what to expect. Tintin is roomier than Halcyon so you don't
live quite so much in each others pockets.
The hours are a bit longer, because there are only 3 of us, but the
winds (so far) change less, so alterations during the nights hours are
The Pacific feels a bit different. Rather than on the Atlantic, we left
a long way from any continent and finish a very long way from one. The
Atlantic had start and finishes considerably closer to mainland. There
is no other traffic here. No planes, no ships, no satellites, nothing.
Except for flying fish, the wildlife seems less, certainly fewer
Sunsets are good in both.
As to the Marquesas, where we are headed, I suspect these will be
nearly as far from the familiar as it is possible to get. We shall see.
As to being away, I have missed home, despite regular updates, I still
miss it all and will be glad to get the long return journey over. I
will be leaving Rob and Jo in the safe hands of their children and
then, hopefully, a recovered Richard and Nikki.

Enough refections, I'd better get this sent off.

On the subject of reflections, how is it that I can take the attached
picture of moonrise with my phone, which weighs about 200 grams and is
not top of the range, whereas my camera (which was pretty well up there
when it was new and weighs nearly as much as Jo's sewing kit, thanks
Sue) can't even get close?

All the best to all.

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Day 13

The last few days have given us blue skies with scattered fluffy cumulus
clouds by day, and brilliant moonshine at night as the moon waxes
towards full. The wind has been pretty steady in direction from the ESE,
blowing mainly at 12-24 knots day and night, for the last 1500 miles.

Today we are tryig a new sail format, trying to maximise our speed in
relatively light downwind airs. The stingray is flying from the bow and
we have the full mainsail up too. We had thought the main might
blanket the stingray and make it collapse - but it isn't. Both sails
are billowing and we are making 7 knots through the water with only 9
knots of apparent wind. The skipper is very happy. So are the crew. Go

This is day 13 of the crossing and it is becoming clear to us what
really counts as a luxury, making a big difference to us here on board.

Top of the list is the watermaker, hmm, have I mentioned this before? A
shower after getting hot and sweaty grinding winches and working on the
foredeck is bliss.

Next, being able to receive email via the satellite phone, to keep in
touch with family and friends, is truly wonderful. Don't be shy!

Withers Bros have formed a new extracurricular club: Crossword
mornings. Happy miles are passed as clues are discussed and grey matter
is taxed

818 nM to go

Sunday 17 March 2019

Are we there yet?

From Steve,
In a word, no.
Still 1160 miles left on the clock.
Notable points in history are fewer and further apart.
I was going to write about how it has been a long way, etc, and how far
to go, but reviewing the last few blogs have decided that our reader(s)
has probably heard that enough.
Progress is serene. The sea is a bit lumpy and sometimes a bit sideways
on to the boat, so it all feels like a ride on, or in, a very large,
very overweight, very ponderous, lazy rodeo bull that most of the time
rocks gently from siide to side and then has a pang of conscience and
give a bit of a roll to try to earn his keep.
The most comfortable places are on deck and in the aft cabins, and the
least comfortable is in front of the cooker trying to work.
I have been doing some cooking.
About half of the meals so far have been vegetable based, and this is
very definitely not my strong side in cooking, so I have been using the
mince in a variety of ways.
Jo borrowed a vacuum packer just before we left the Galapagos and it
has proved (so far) to have done an excellent job.

So actually we are all in pretty good spirits, just about up to date
with sleep and the Spag Bol tonight will be at least a bit different
from the Chilli Con Carne of a few days ago.
Oh, and the moon and the sea last night was absolutely beautiful
All the best to all, and love to home.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Day 10

We're well over 1/2way to the Marquesas now - only about 1300nm to go.
Then we think Hang on - that's about the same distance as Stornoway to
Gibralter, so we're not 'nearly there' by any stretch. Anyway, we've
done over 1/2 and celebrated last night with steak night and are
steadily working down the miles.

We've been next Cassiopee for the last 3 days; it's quite niec being
within sight of another boat in the vast ocean. Now however I think
they're a bit further north over the horizon.

The sea is livelier today. We're goose-winged with 2 reefs in the main
and 1 in the genoa. We could probably shake out at least 1 of the
reefs but this is definitely a long, endurance event with not breaking
things being top priority. Shackles come mysteriously come undone and
the pin on one of our snap-shackle sheets disappeared overnight. Apart
from that, all people well and all systems go.

Friday 15 March 2019

Fish at last...

Since Richard left the boat our fishing efforts have varied between
poor and pathetic. Richard's best rod and line was stolen from the
back of the boat in the Galapagos, which was a huge shame. He had left
the boat brilliantly equipped, but with no one with the right skills.
We tried to get one of the other reels to work on a rod, but either the
rod or the users weren't up to the job.

So we went back to a handline dangling off the back of the boat.
First the lure was taken by we-know-not-what, then the line
mysteriously snapped near the boat and then we caught the towed
generator. That made a big mess and we resolved not to fish while
generating. Yesterday, with sufficient power in the battery, we put out
the handline again fully expecting to bring it again at dusk with no
fish hurt. We rigged a bungee cord to indicate if anything pulled on
it. Imagine our surprise when we caught what we think was a blue
marlin. We think this because it looked like a marlin and was blue -
but it was substantially smaller than the giants of fishermans' tales.
It was hauled aboard reasonably easily and we decided to release it
because we thought it was a baby and because it looked so beautiful. Jo
extracted the hook which had gone through the top of its bill and we
threw it back - hopefully allowing it to grow to a giant over the next

If anybody can identify it from the photo, please let us know.

We had tinned tuna for supper.

Thursday 14 March 2019

Steve at sunset

Day 8

We're making excellent progress towards the Marquesas with about 1700Nm
to go. In our reverse history of the world we whipped through the
19th century, playing Tchaikovsky at 1812Nm to go. The French
revolution happened in reverse as I slept and we're approaching the
South Sea Bubble.

The sailing is more of a reach than downwind, which
actually means that we can sail consistently faster for the same
windspeed compared to, say, crossing the Atlantic. We did use the
'stingray', our double-headed code 0 sail, yesterday and allowed
ourselves to sail more downwind. It felt very easy, but once we took
both sails over to one side and hoisted the main, we added an extra
knot and headed in the right direction. We're very un-brave at night -
with 18-20 knots of wind we have the genoa and 1st reefed main. It's
probably 1/2 to 1 knot slower than full main and the code 0
(single-sided stingray) but I sleep better! A masthead light that has caught up several miles on our port quarter
overnight. We think it's our friends on Cassiopee - a hylas 46 - but
they are not appearing on AIS so we can't be sure.

This evening has been wonderful sailing under clear skies in contrast
to rain and little wind last night. Obviously, the skies are very
different here, no pole star and thousands of new (to me) stars in the

Tuesday 12 March 2019

A third of the way across

We have just celebrated reaching 1000 miles out, and 2000 to go! Tintin
is crossing just north of the Bauer Basin of the central eastern
Pacific ocean, where the water is around 3800 metres deep.

At times it can feel a bit remote here, especially in the dark. But
other boats are not far away. On the daily radio net we share our
latitude and longitude so we can soon see who is close. Today we have
chatted to the crews of Cabana and Casiopee who are both within VHF
range. It is so reassuring to hear them. The fleet has spread out as
usual but there is quite a group within a 100m mile range of us. That
doesn't seem very far out here!

The "miles to go screen" on our GPS, attached by the wheel, is
prompting us to reminisce as we go...
Rob "Jo, we have just sailed through our married life!" (We are at 1991
miles to go now)
Steve has brought with him " A short history of England" to help us out
with deeper history as the miles go by.

We have all settled well into our watch routine, 6 days in, and have
decided not to change shifts. Instead we will put the ships clock back
one hour every 15 degrees of longitude we cover. The sea state has
moderated a bit today so it is easier to move around on board, to
cook, and to sleep. Even managing to not spill mugs of tea. Spirits are
good on board.

Monday 11 March 2019

Steady progress

Tintin is making great progress at the moment. The winds have stayed
with us, 18-22 knots on the beam. We have the mainsail and the genoa up
and the boat is moving along with a great sense of purpose.

With slightly lighter winds yesterday we hoisted the cruising chute,
our large blue foresail, and went flying along. It was a bit too much
for Wendy to cope with so we hand steered - which was fun but pretty
tiring. With the moderate sea state waves of 2-3 metres height are
arriving at our port quarter and nudging the bow up into the wind. It
all gets more exciting then as the apparent wind increases and the boat
heels more.

For a more relaxed night we switched to the electrically driven
autohelm, which steers according to a compass bearing rather than
relative to the wind direction (which is what Wendy does).

We had rather grey skies for the weekend, but the skies have cleared
and we have trademark tradewind fluffy clouds.

However, without Richard our fishing efforts have been poor - few
attempts and very unsuccesful, including getting the fishing line
caught in towed generator. Doh!

Sunday 10 March 2019

We have wind

From Steve
Hello all,
The wind arrived at about 5:15 this afternoon. To be more accurate, we
arrived at the wind. It hadn't moved much, it was simply a matter of
making our way to where the wind was.
The wind changed from a boring, dull 10 knots to a very brisk 22 knots
in the space of about 10 minutes. Like going into a different room.
Before and after pictures attached.
It was however still raining, so everyone got wet sorting out sails
ready for the new wind and for overnight.
All done now, so we are going along at a bright 8.5 knots.

Pause there for food, it is now 8:pm
We are now on rules for rougher weather.
Life jackets all the time outside, and clipped on (fastening you to the
boat) at night time.

Thats all for this evening I will let got this computer monitor turned
off so that Rob can get his night vision back.
Love to all and
Happy Birthday Jenny.

Saturday 9 March 2019

Back in the Doldrums

We knew it was too good to last!

The lovely breeze from yesterday has died and left us with a
slightly confused sea, leaden grey skies, grey sea and intermitent
rain. After an unsettled night of sail changes/engine on/engine off we
are feeling a bit in the doldrums today. Tintin is motoring along and
blending well into the greyness. A painted ship upon a painted ocean.

But there is good news; boats further south and west are reporting
constant SE breezes of 10-15 knots: the SE trades. They seem to be
starting from 5.5 degrees south; we have about 40 miles to go. A
sweepstake has been set for arrival time.

I can see no boats on our limited horizon, but Tumi is about 6 miles
behind and we have chats with Paul and Deborah on the VHF radio: have
you got the found the current yet? how about wind? any fish caught?
(not yet...)

I have discovered today how much juice can leak from an over-ripe water
melon...onto a bunk, guitar, duvet bags
Honestly it is more than you might think!
That incident prompted a review of all fruit and veg stored in nets and
the bilge which should really be checked daily. It is clear that
produce doesn't last as long as it did during our Atlantic crossing. The
average daytime temperature is in the low 30s here, so it isn't really
So - we have a wonderful amount of tropical fruit to eat in the next few
days, no chance of scurvy yet.

Friday 8 March 2019

Easing in to the rhythm

We are easing in to the new routine as our body clocks become adjusted.
It will take a few days, but it will become a lot easier to hop out of
the bunk in the wee small hours and present oneself, awake and alert,
ready to take over in the cockpit. I'm not quite there yet!

I'm struck by how different it felt preparing for this ocean crossing
compared to the Atlantic last November: much more low key. Much of that
must be because we have come this far already and the boat is doing so
well. And we have Steve with us, brilliant. For me, the Atlantic was my
fist ocean crossing and I didn't know how I would find it, so was a
little apprehensive.

This time, I think we all felt well prepared and ready to go, off on
another adventure. Added to that, we are due to meet Lizzie, James and
Bridget in the Marquesas when we arrive. I'll be counting down the

We are bowling along right now with a great tailwind of 15 knots. The
seas were a little rough and confused overnight when we had a bit more
wind, but have settled now into a gentle 4 foot swell that is
repetitively lifting the stern and pushing Tintin along in the right
direction. Long may it last.

Wendy, our windpilot, is smoothly doing all the work at the helm for us,
so we can choose if we want to hand steer rather than having to
do so all through our watch.

Wildlife continues to delight us unexpectedly. At dawn something small
flew past me from behind, missing my head by a whisker, then
continued over the cockpit and into the sea - a little flying
fish. Steve saw something jump up from the sea and land on deck with a
thump - on investigation Rob found 3 squid, declared too tiny (and
stinky!) for dinner.

Storm petrels, swallow tailed gulls, boobies, and dolphins also visited
us yesterday. It is magic.

Just how big is the Pacific?

We've had a great day for the first full day out from the Galapagos to
the Marquesas. The wind, which was predicted to go light, has held up
quite well, but we did get a chance to run the engine to charge
batteries and make water. The real bonus, however, is the current. It
is adding the best part of 2knots - sometimes more - to our moderate
sailing speed to greatly flatter our progress. It all counts! Our
task, for which we have enlisted the help of my brother Paul, is to
follow a route that maximises the use of the conveyer belt.

To give a sense of scale to the Pacific.. Lizzie is currently diving in
Fiji - about 3/4 the way across the Pacific. We were in the Galapagos
islands, 900miles into the ocean. We were still nearer London than
Fiji. We've got a lot of sailing to do!

Thursday 7 March 2019

Galapagos out of sight

The islands are over 50 miles behind as as dawn is breaking this
morning, and the other boats in the fleet are now beyond our limited
horizon too. It's us and the Pacific, stretching on in every direction,
a sight we will be getting well accustomed to.

10 knots of gentle breeze over our left shoulder is pushing us along,
and together with around 3 knots of westbound current we are
managing to make decent progress in the right direction. The strength
of this southern equatorial current is amazing. It stretches in a
relatively narrow band with no obvious land formations to guide it, and
gives us the bonus of a good walking pace's worth of extra speed.
Paul,thank you for advising where to find the best of it.

We have started our watch system devised by Steve of 3 hourly shifts
from 6pm to midday, followed by three 2 hour shifts in the afternoon.
This pattern will allow our body clocks to get into a bit of a routine
by having the same shift hours each day for one week, after which we
will slip back by one shift to give some variety. We will put the ship's
clock back one hour in a week's time and continue to do that once a
week. The Marquesas are at 138 degrees west, another 45 degrees of
longitude west from here and the clocks there run at 3.5 hours behind
Galapagos time.

Breakfast time. Stocks of Jimmy's marmalade are
running perilously low.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Parade of the Bluecoats

Here are the past and current holders of the blue "good luck jacket" award.
It was in our gift to choose the next holder, and at last nights crew dinner we had a chance to take to the floor with our nominations and to announce the winner ( name in a golden envelope opened by my glamorous assistant Rob).
The jacket went to Lars and Laura on Sweet Dream , who had unfortunately left all their hatches open that afternoon when Steve's flight couldn't land due to biblical amounts of rain, whilst they explored ashore.
All their bunks with 4 inch thick feather mattress toppers got sodden. The floor and galley were awash. They demonstrated stoicism in the face of adversity, starting the clean up job with a glass of wine....

Get ready, get set

I was up early to go to the market at the top of the hill this morning, where local farmers set up stall and start selling from 6am.

We have vacuum packed some meat for the fridge and filled the net hammocks above the spare bunk with papayas, mangoes, pineapples and melons. The veg gets relegated to the bilges where it seemed to keep pretty well when we crossed the Atlantic.

Meanwhile Rob has scuba dived to change the anode on the propeller and Steve is fixing a leak under the sink. All of us happy with our own tasks!

Studying the wind and current predictions we think we will take the rhumbline route to the Marquesas (ie the direct line) rather than heading south first. There is a steady high pressure system to the south of us which will provide south easterly winds for us once we reach it, hopefully by Saturday night. It's due to give us 10-20 knots of wind. Nice!

(In the Southern Hemisphere the rotation of high and low pressure systems is the reverse to the Northern hemisphere, so a high pressure system has wind rotating around it anti-clockwise).

The south equatorial current may give us up to 1.5 knots in a westerly direction, a huge benefit to us.

Steve's Blog.

Hello all. Steve here.
I have taken some pictures of the town.
This is perhaps the most surprising thing of the Galapagos for me. I had not stopped to wonder where the locals lived, or where tourists were accommodated. 
The three towns we have visited, Puerto Morena on San Cristobel, Puerto Villamil on Isabela and Puerta Aroya on Santa Cruz were increasingly large and correspondingly touristy. 
This last was getting on for being too noisy and full of tourists for us hardened travellers (!). Especially at festival time.
Also, nearly everything involving the sights, dives, visits and so on requires that you are guided by an qualified and approved naturalist. And these don't come cheap. 
The authorities have obviously decided that tourism is inevitable, so they must control it and generate enough money to fund the environmental work.
So the tourist access is kept to what is apparently 0.1% of land area and specified dive areas. Quite a few of the islands hav ed no tourist access at all and others are very limited.
Pictures attached are of the town and harbour of Puerto Ayora.

Best Regards
Steve Withers

1 more picture.

Sorry about the extra on the last one.

Best Regards
Steve Withers

Monday 4 March 2019

The miracle machine

This amazing watermaker was built on board Tintin last year by Steve and Rob.
It uses power from the engine to drive a pump which forces seawater through a very fine membrane at high pressure. The membrane only lets water molecules through. The resulting output of fresh water goes directly into our water tank, and the super salty water by-product goes back into the sea. It produces 120 litres per hour.

Without this machine we would have to limit ourselves to using 4 litres per day per person on the long crossing ahead. With it, we can even have a shower every day. Fantastic.

Pre Pacific voyage preparation

In two days time we start the next stage of our travels, 2910 nautical miles to the Marquesas. We aren't yet half way to New Zealand, but we will be soon.

Here in the Galapagos we are still closer to London than we are to Fiji!

Today the water taxi delivered 400 litres of diesel to top up our tanks (we used quite a bit coming here from Panama, 79 engine hours over 6 days).

We know that we will need to head south from here to find reliable SE trade winds, before we head west across the Pacific to Polynesia. Now Steve is on board we hope for seamless downwind sailing, because that is what usually happens when he is with us!

Rob and Steve spent yesterday in the engine "room" giving the engine its service. We need to change the propeller anode, check the running rigging, and buy fresh food. Then most of the pre departure job list will be done.

The water tanks are full of freshly desalinated water made by our miraculous Steve and Rob Watermaker. I love that machine.

Galapagos landscapes

The landscapes here in the Galapagos vary from scorching dry lava fields with candelabra cacti to verdant forest in the interior.
On our journey from Isabella to Santa Cruz we passed an island which was a volcanic crater, horseshoe shaped, sheer and arid.

Friday 1 March 2019

Reef sharks, rainbow fish, turtles and rays

Underwater Galapagos

The island of Isabela is shaped pretty much
like a sea horse. Yesterday we took a snorkelling trip to the SW corner of the island, together with the Aurora B team of Ed, Gemma, Henry and Eva, and a very knowledgeable naturalist guide called Rodolfo. The boat Anita was crewed by Captain Klever with his sidekick Captain Banana (according to their T shirts).

Our destination was Los Tuneles, part of the coast where lava has left incredible rock formations and arches, and it was snorkelling paradise. Much shallower than the seas around Kicker Rock off San Cristobal island, it was less daunting to slip over the side of the boat even though we knew that these too were shark infested waters. But only reef sharks, Rodolfo reassured us, and apparently they aren't remotely interested in us.

Our bravery was rewarded instantly by a little Galapagos penguin whizzing around just next to us underwater, chasing his lunch. We encountered enormous sea turtles who didn't seem at all bothered by our presence. Rodolfo found a sea horse, about 20cm long, wrapped round a stick on the sea floor.

Photo credits: Rob and Rodolfo

Isabella Island

Each time we go ashore we are surprised by another treat of close up and completely unafraid wildlife
Flamingos today!