Monday, October 15, 2012

The passage home and some stats!

TOWNSVILLE TO HONIARA             1048 NM        8 days
HONIARA TO MAJURO                       1315 NM      15 days
MAJURO TO VICTORIA                      4693 NM       44 days
              TOTAL DISTANCE        7056 NM
The passage across the N Pacific was made in three legs from June 1st to August 30, 2012! 

Friday, October 05, 2012

"love, love me do"


" was 50 years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play...."

Friday, September 21, 2012

another sunset

we were often treated to spectacular skies as the sun went down....

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Home again, Home again!

Sorry for the long delay in providing the closing chapter! 
Yes, we made it into Victoria Harbor that Thursday night on our 45th day from Majuro in the Marshall Islands, three months from Aus.  I have not calculated the distance yet but would estimate that last leg as approximately 4500nm and the overall passage as close to 7000nm. 
We were piped on to the customs dock in true scottish fashion, thanks Darroch and greeted by sign-waving fans.....:)...what a great feeling that was. 
So Toketie is tucked away into her slip in Maple Bay Marina for the moment.  After a few days of R and R, we began the tedious process of cleaning and sorting through the list of chores on board.  But it is beautiful fall weather with hot sunny days and cool nights so the work is going slowly and we are enjoying the peace and quiet.  It is wonderful to have Toketie back in BC and are looking forward to local cruising for the next while. 
More pics and info on the N Pacific passage to follow as I get them sorted......

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A true Canadian Welcome!

Prospects were looking bleak...after close to 7000 nm from Aus, we found ourselves a day off the coast of BC, with no wind and no diesel!! But the Gods were kind and smiled down on us...a ship appeared on the AIS and on further investigation turned out to be the Canadian Coast Guard Science/Research vessel "JP Tully" I called them up and asked if they could spare a bit of fuel! Two hours later, 80 liters more diesel in the tanks and we are steaming under moonlight on a calm sea! And they gave us two containers of home made chocolate chip cookies!! Now isn't that a true Canadian welcome!
A few glitches with air in the fuel lines were resolved and hopefully solved the problem. Not to temp fate but with luck and continuing on our current course, we could be at the entrance to Juan de Fuca Straight before midnight on Wed...another 65 miles overnight could see us in the inner harbor sometime Thurs....keep your fingers, toes, ankles and arms crossed for us as we are ready to come home!!

Well, the trials were not over and the engine quit several times. Hours spent bleeding air out of the lines and transferring fuel proved futile but changing all four fuel filters seems to have done the trick. We are now motoring up Juan de Fuca Straight and could be in the inner harbor by midnight....Neptune willing!

Monday, August 27, 2012

end game!

The home stretch, as it were! And what a stretch! After the cold, the fog, the beating to windward, the calms and heavy winds, you would think Canada would be opening its arms to welcome us through our ordeal! But we are having to work for every mile, currently headwinds are making it difficult to close the coast. Having come through the squash zone between High and Low pressure systems, with only 260nm to the entrance of Juan de Fuca, the winds have gone light and right on the nose! If we had 60 more liters of diesel, we could motor all the way but we have to save what we have for the straight with its tides and busy shipping! Getting tired of pasta, rice, crackers....down to last can of chicken so maybe one more curry. Looking forward to fresh fruit, salads, anything green and some protein on the barbeque!! Soon we hope!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

5 weeks...almost

34 days from Majuro in the Marshall Islands! About 3500nm under the keel on this leg so far and exposed to a bit of everything from calms to surfing downwind in 40 knots winds. A wave found its way into the cockpit and took out the fridge, not a great loss at this stage as we were down to the last eggs and one onion! The UHT milk for our coffee or tea seems to keep in a sealed bag and the cheese is not mouldy yet! Morale is high, though we are both tired and look forward to the warmth of the down blanket after our four hour watch. Sail changes are constant and sap our energy, but we are moving steadily towards the coast, with 1100nm to the Swiftsure Bank. Still hoping to make the Juan de Fuca Straight by the end of August though a High Pressure system is forming ahead of us which may push us further N or leave us without wind so it is too soon to predict a landfall. Motoring through the night at the moment in very light winds with the sound of Willie Nelson to remind us of the world that awaits us. Had HF contact with 'Daydream' out of Rebecca Spit the other night, was nice to hear familiar voices and envied them their warm summer evening sipping wine at a secure anchorage!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

week 4

as the 4th week draws to a close, we find Toketie with 1800 nm to the Swiftsure Bank! we dug out the down duvets as the nights are cold now, refreshing after years in the tropics! have had strong winds for many days as three Lows compete with several Highs for territory, we being in the middle of it all! but we are going the right direction, visited by several of what appeared to be Minkie Whales who surface nearby and make a circuit around us before continuing their migration NW!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

day 22

finally we are pointing home! had to go far N to get around a High and now being squeezed from N by a Low but at last going E!! need a bit of wind now!

Monday, August 06, 2012

week 3

it has been eventful! lots of great sailing and a giant mahi-mahi! been feasting on fish for days! caught in large High Pressure system though and being pushed N, now motoring in light air to try to get over it to turn E. visited by pod of killer whales and large family of dolphins, crossing shipping lanes, cooler at night now, have to put a shirt on!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

week 2

was going great, a few scary lightning nights but the tropics are behind us now and the air is cooling, furler line broke in the night, now limping along under storm jib, have replaced line but waiting for less wind to hoist jib again, the curry was good though!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wed July 25 GMT

One week since we left on this 3rd and final leg of the passage from Aus to Victoria. Whatever prayers you loyal fans are offering, keep it up! At the risk of saying it (touch wood), this leg has been near idyllic so far! Constant steady tradewinds in the 10-20 kt range, close reaching and seas not too lumpy. Having my son on board is wonderful! Not only does he 'hand, reef and steer' but he knows how to trim sails almost as well as his old man :) Not to mention good company with stimulating conversation. We are even into cooking! Forecast is good at this point for the next few days. Thanx for the wx routing 'Argonaut'!! (of course the winds just died out and we are motoring to find more)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


spent a peaceful night at a small island, snorkeled over fuselage of plane and helicopter, now heading for the pass and N.....very light wind but no rain at the moment...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The long and winding road!

Clearing customs today and spending a night at a nearby island preparing for early departure tomorrow!  The very long last leg back to Victoria....looking forward to that Juan de Fuca Straight......

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Toketie preparing to depart!

Well, my son finally arrived after a missed connection, being bumped, and a cancelled flight...6 days in Hawaii....thanks are so customer service oriented...all those nice people did not mind a bit having their lives turned upside down because one of your pilots had a cold or hangover or whatever!!

Anyway, Toketie is fueled and hopefully watered today, though the heavy downpour last night would have filled the tanks pretty quick if only....hope to clear out in a day or so and head N for the long leg home....Inshallaw!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

marooned in Majuro!

Well, my crew member has decided not to continue the adventure.  Not a big surprise as this was a particularly tough passage and the lifestyle is certainly not for everyone.  My son arrives in a couple of days and I have a list of repairs to do on the boat and no facilities, resources or materials available here to carry them out!  Have connected with a handful of local cruisers though and will see what we can manage.  Not sure at this point what the future holds!!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Toketie in Majuro!

Well, we made it! This was a very tough passage! Took 17 days from Honiara, 1200 miles, some of it hove to in rough winds and high seas, last two days beating into 20-25 kt winds and seas to make the pass in Majuro and running on diesel fumes through the pass and 12 miles up the lagoon to tie up to mooring ball after midnight. But it is a friendly place, big fishing tournament on today so national holiday, of course that meant overtime rates to have customs and immigration come down! Repairs to do, laundry to do, need a shower and a cold beer!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


motoring toward Majuro! front or trough earlier delayed us for hours with heavy rain and 25kt winds...on the nose of course! main halyard jammed and had to cut it to lower mainsail...100 miles to go! now thursday, 30 miles to go, fighting strong headwinds, squalls, currents..enough fuel for the pass only...if we get to it!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

160 miles to Majuro!

still trying to steal E, light winds, head winds, currents all conspiring but still heading for Majuro if conditions allow!

Friday, June 29, 2012

plugging along!

Head winds and currents have plagued us for days making it hard to make Majuro! Now on course between Majuro and Kwajalein. Next day or so should determine where we land! Surrounded by ITCZ with thunderstorms and gusty winds. Steady E 15 at the moment, hoping it holds! Long days and stormy nights!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

so near yet so far

350nm to go, no wind and enough fuel for maybe 240nm..please send 15 kts from the E or SE!! Would be much appreciated!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Left the S Pacific behind about 2AM crossing the equator under clear skies with a billion stars, the S Cross setting below the stern. Toasted Neptune with a St. James sparkling Chardonnay, requesting fair winds and safe passage! Light Nlies continue to dog us making it hard to gain Easting.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Motoring overnight and all day into light NE, burning precious diesel. ITCZ not very active, some lightning, small cells with rain and brief gusts. Blue skies, puffy clouds. Very hot and humid! 120nm to the equator!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


going hard to windward day and night...very tiring..wind not too strong though just constant beating...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

on to Majuro!

Motored out in flat calm to leave Solomon Islands...heavy rains and some lightning overnight but nothing close. Now clear skies with very light winds from SE. Slow sailing but pleasant after the sound of the iron genny! No fish...yet!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

leaving Solomons!

Have cleared customs and plan to leave late tonight or early AM. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

some pics...

caught a mahi mahi on the way to Tulaghie...fruit and
crayfish were about 20 bucks from a local dugout....the walk and
kids were a much needed break....too tired for words...:)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Well, we made it to the Solomon Islands! The passage started out tame
enough but a few days into it, the seas became large on the beam and
the motion was uncomfortable. There was wind though so we sailed most
of it. Caught a nice Yellowfin Tuna a day out of Aus and
feasted on that for a couple of days. Ran into squalls in the night
and gusty winds with heavy rain but came through it to flat calm so we
motored the last two days. Our welcome to Quadalcanal Island was
rain, wind and more squalls in the night but a fleet of dolphins
escorted us around the point and up to Honiara. The new autopilot was
mounted so poorly it drove the quadrant up and overloaded the
hydraulic pump. Lucky we still had any steering at all. Not too
happy with the idiot in Townsville that installed it. But we found a
couple of great kiwis here starting up a yard and with their
facilities, I managed to make a new bracket. It works but still has
issues! Queen's bday here so everything is closed down. We hope to
take on diesel and clear customs Monday, then head for Majuro in the
Marshall Islands. This leg will involve an equator crossing so we're
hoping the SPCZ, a nasty bit of weather system, stays clear of us till
we get far enough N. Will attempt updates underway but radio
connections are a challenge (as are eating and sleeping).....have
managed to join Pacific Seafarer's Net daily though and posted our
position to Yotreps.
Caught a young Mahi Mahi the other day and feasting on
crayfish(lobster) and mud crab from the locals.
Have pics but internet too slow and flaky here....more later!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Arrived Honiara, Solomon Islands!

After one day in the thriving metropolis of Honiara, we have retired 20 miles N to the small island of Tulaghie where we hope to repair the mess the idiot in Australia made of the autopilot hydraulic drive! My fault completely, should never have paid him or accepted the job. Was not happy with the end result then...sure was anxious to get out of Dodge though! At least here there are Kiwis who know what an autopilot is.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Solomon Sea!

Motoring in flat calm overnight and all day! Some tropical showers in the distance but no rain over us yet. Would welcome a good shower at the moment! Seeing lots of coconuts float by! Expect to make landfall early AM! A/P has been christened 'Austin Powers' (Arnold Palmer was too boring). But it failed 1st day out due to engineering(glorified welders) incompetence in Townsville! Will attempt repair in Honiara.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Western Spaghetti!

I think our wx router on Orcas Isl said it best, "the good, the bad, and the ugly"! We thought the 3 nites was bad enough but last nite was 'ugly'! Hope there is land ahead as Noah never saw such rain! Winds to 30+kts! Good thing we were reefed and ready! Now motoring into weak headwinds with just over 200 miles to Honiara!

Thursday, June 07, 2012


3 nites and 2 days of big big swells breaking on the beam, strong winds, rockin n rollin...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

squally night

winds over 20, gusting 30, three reefs in main and couple turns on furler, still doing 6 kts, making good time!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Trade Wind sailing!

Pretty idyllic so far....touch wood...winds coming up to 20 now, one reef in...hitting 7 knots!!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Toketie offshore!

We are about 200nm offshore! Very light winds from the SSE! Peter hooked a nice yellowfin tuna first day out!! Sashemi!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Toketie leaving Australia!

Cleared customs and anchored in HorseShoe Bay on Magnetic Island.  Looking at the weather for a pre-dawn departure through the Great Barrier Reef!!  Will post positions to Yotreps!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

listing to port....

....where would I be without the lists?  But...they are getting shorter...down to one page now....started the paperwork with customs today and they will visit Toketie Friday morning for final clearance out of is looking good this weekend to get through the Great Barrier Reef and out into open ocean....hoping it is not too sloppy after the low pressure system out of PNG goes by....and that it didn't suck the wind out of the area....but to quote the walrus..."the time has come"....plan to post position reports on Yotreps and report in to either Tony's net or Pacific Seafarer's....but anyone who wants to follow our progress can look us up on the Yotreps Position Reporting site...if not by boat name then by my HAM call sign...VA7DXF....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

time flies like an arrow....

....but fruit flies like a banana!

Sorry for not having provided more updates....when my fans start nagging I know it's time....crew arrived along with 4-5 days of cold and rainy weather...but we have made the most of it....rented a car, put in masses of provisions, propane, diesel jerry cans, water, gas for outboard, along with a multitude of chores on board...bending on the sails, a shelf for the lazarette where the autopilot now occupies the bottom half....stowing, stowing, stowing....wanted to do sea trials today but woke to rain and wind so hopefully tomorrow...have tested the new Pactor modem (loaner thanx SilverGirl) three times now and connected flawlessly so big relief on the communications front...the lists are growing shorter....looking at the weather window with help from our wx router on Orcas Island...large low pressure system  coming out of PNG....take a pass on that one but would be very convenient to ride the back of it going chart and changed the waypoints through the Great Barrier Reef...a little local knowledge about bommies in one of the passes so staying with the shipping lane through Palm Passage....Toketie is close to ready and we are not far behind.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

one giant step.....

There must be something masochistic about this cruising life!

A month on the hard, and I know now why they call it 'the hard', climbing a rickety aluminum ladder 20 times a day, dirt and dust from the city, noise from the workers...nothing is ever clean…as the saying goes…"cleanliness is next to impossible"….so many chores…the day starts at first light and carries on as long as I can stand it…problems to solve, issues to deal with….eating in pubs or the rare treat in the yacht club….no head so you pee in a bottle…no way this old guy is climbing that ladder at night….but as all things…this too shall pass…and now…

I sit at the yacht club dock…rocking gently, the gentle scream of the wind generator telling of things to come….soft music and wine to study 'the list'….the never ending list, you take one thing off and add two more….but it is planned chaos and the universe is unfolding as it should….today very dear friends from our experience on the river in Bundaberg came by, on their way to Darwin for the Indonesian rally, oh that we could be joining them…but as Brutus said

"There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures"

So onwards….may the autopilot steer true, the gps report as required and the communications systems function to keep those far away enjoined in the voyage!

Crew arrives Thursday….provisioning, stowing, bending on of sails, sea trials….and customs clearance to find our way through the Great Barrier Reef, to dodge many other lumps en route to the Solomon Islands….it's a great life if you don't weaken !!

and some pics to prove it.....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

bottom job!

Must be getting close to 'splash' time when the bottom gets painted!  I know, it's really boring...guess you had to be there!  Hopefully have some shots of the crane lifting Toketie back in on Monday....

On another front...had a bit of rain this morning so the ground was wet when I tested the problem with the Pactor hoping getting back in the water will resolve the issue!  Maybe just a lesson in 'remaining grounded'....

Have waypoints to Honiara in the Solomons, then Majuro Atoll in the Marshals.... then a big leg back to Vancouver Island!

You know how sometimes things just seem to fall all over themselves to happen?  Well this seems to be one of those times....something is inexorably leading me on to some destiny....hopefully a crowd of happy people in the Inner Harbour of Victoria at the end of August....but that's a lot of water under the keel so I try not to guess what tomorrow will bring!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Autopilot installed!

Well, I've been back in Aus for almost a month now!  It has been a busy real damage to report but the systems have taken a bit of 'waking up' after hibernating in the tropics for six months!  So to amuse myself and perhaps aid in the journey back home, I have installed an Autopilot with a hydraulic linear drive that pushes the quadrant to maintain a course.  The mounting of the drive unit was the greatest they call them 'engineers' but I would say they are skilled metal fabricators....either way the young fellow I found to help mount the drive was quite willing to take on the challenge and it was a challenge!  Mounting it in the aft compartment of a double-ender, with very little space to work in was challenging enough but mounting it at an angle to match the plane of the rudder post made it even more interesting.  Anyway, after a lot of to and froing, we got it done and then I proceeded to install the electronics to drive it.  Still a bit of an issue sending Raymarine Heading data to it but think I have found a solution.  Sea trials have to await the imminent launch date on May 21st....which is to be followed by crew arrival, provisioning and a long day to get through the Great Barrier Reef to open sea!

The Pactor modem is acting up so hopefully I can settle it down and report our position along the way, not to mention downloading weather data!

The plan is to aim for Honiara in the Solomon Islands and after a brief stop to take on whatever is needed continue on a 1000 mile leg to the Marshalls where a second crew member will join us for the long leg back to Vancouver Island.  The plan, however, like all cruising plans is firmly written in the sand at low tide, subject to the vagaries of the powers of the sea!

Here are some pics of the autopilot install...wish I could as easily photograph the emails and phone calls to get it working.....:)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


...third crew member has arrived but needs to be 'installed'.....take a bit of 'engineering'....need to name him/her...'Otto' seems so boring....there is 'Hydra' for the many headed beast but that has connotations....maybe just 'push the button and go'...bit long....oh well, get it in and see what it wants to be called....

Sunday, April 29, 2012

life on board

....cluttered perhaps is the on board in the yard...fortunately accessing the facilities at the yacht club next door....myriad of minor projects to attend to every day from the cocoons in the speed transducer impeller to the antenna wire for the HF acting up so rode a borrowed bike 4k to a mall today and bought an Olympus tough camera...on the bigger front, have an autopilot on the way, an engineer lined up to help install the hydraulic drive, the crane scheduled for May 21st and crew arriving shortly is a busy time and good wine is hard to find so have to resort to rum on occasion...seems to be an occasion every day when the sun goes down....ordered two charts to fill the N Pacific gap....will be a minor miracle if this actually happens.....'shank's mare' has elevated to 'folding cycle'.....and as the wise man said..."this too shall pass"....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Captain on board!

The skipper has safely navigated 30 hours of airspace to land in Townsville.....jet-lagged and exhausted....and very thirsty for some reason...could be the 30 degrees and high humidity....Toketie seems none the worse for wear...bit of a leak through a porthole but no damage found so far.....batteries up and running and charged....topsides need a good stop...the Yacht Club Bar!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Captain on the move....

This was our back yard in January, unusual for Victoria....lasted less than a week when the rains returned!
This blog has been quiet for a while....transition stage I guess!  Sorry to all the emails I have not gotten back to since Xmas.  Been a busy time and the months are flying by.
The Captain will fly back to Toketie in Australia in April while the First Mate keeps the home fires burning back in Victoria.  It is a big change for us but for now the full time cruising lifestyle is on hold.
We never set out to prove anything to ourselves or anyone else.  Since we left in 2006, we have lived the experience a day at a time and made our decisions according to the seasons.  All along we maintained that we would continue cruising as long as we were healthy, we could afford it and we were enjoying it.  Well, a lot of water has passed under the keel and a lifetime of experiences that few people will ever have.  But those who have followed this blog will have shared in the difficult times as well.  From the knockdown out of Tonga to a cyclone and close encounter with a reef in Fiji, we picked ourselves up and kept going.  The flood in Australia was very hard and we could have lost the boat or more in that one.  The power of the river was incredible but we survived, unlike some, and after a brief period of land travel, decided to give it another chance.  The plan was to continue to Darwin, then Cocos Keeling and on to Thailand and Malaysia, but part way up the Queensland coast the old diesel engine packed it in.  So we spent two months and all our cruising kitty replacing it and would have had to hurry not to miss the cruising window going West.  So one day as we were sailing past Airlie Beach in the Whitsunday Islands, we decided to slow down and enjoy the fabulous Barrier Reef area and hung around for another two months exploring the islands.  With another cyclone season approaching, we lifted the boat on to land in Townsville and flew home to family and friends in BC.
We had decided not to continue West to Indonesia and Thailand.   Days of motoring in calms to get there was not appealing and our land travel there gave us the impression that the violent tropical weather patterns would keep us looking over our shoulders and never completely relaxing.  That combined with the increasing levels of piracy in the Indian Ocean and global terrorism seemed to take the romance out of the adventure.  There are few alternative destinations once you reach Australia.  The trade winds that carried us across the South Pacific Ocean were now a barrier to returning.  The Southern Ocean is an option used by some.  Here the Westerlies continue their relentless journey around the globe, raising huge seas and cold air.  Toketie could handle it, no doubt, but for us it would be an ordeal.  North to the Louisiades, the Solomons, the Marshall Islands, all remote isolated areas, was the only feasible route if we wished to bring Toketie back to Vancouver Island.  But this 6000+ mile voyage with only two stops for fuel and provisions would not be an easy task.  High import duties and a slow market made selling in Australia a desperate option.
I have not cast the net wide for crew at this time.  There are a few people interested but it is a major undertaking and would require experience and commitment.  I am still open to attempting it this year but realistically it looks like next season before I am ready.  There is roughly a three month window, June-August, where a boat could leave the cyclones in the Western Pacific and arrive on the West coast of British Columbia before the winter storms set in.  There is the famous 'island of floating plastic' as well as the debris from the Tsunami in Japan last year that lie on the route, as well as an equator crossing and the infamous Tropical Convergence Zone, an area of unpredictable weather patterns, from thunderstorms to calms.  And it is unclear how far North a sailboat would have to travel before catching the Westerlies that blow from Tokyo to Vancouver.  Anyone with experience, knowledge or an interest in this passage is welcome to contact me through the comments field on the blog or directly if you have our email.
So the Captain will return to see how Toketie has weathered the wind, rain, and humidity of the season and make sure all systems are still functional.  I will post an update on what I find when I arrive and keep this site up to date on any ongoing plans.
Thanks to everyone who has shared this amazing experience with us.  Comments are always welcome (except from those robots trying to sell us jewelry).......
Fair winds and calm seas!