First, let us assure all of you that we are safe and sound in Micronesia which is thousands of miles to the east of the terrible Tsunami disaster of December. We do have friends in Phuket, Thailand. It is an extremely popular destination for cruisers during the holidays. Our friends and their boat are safe as they were “on the hard” when the quake happened. Most of those boats that were at anchor rode out the first wave and put to sea during the rest of the after shocks. Most of them will leave to head west this month with final destinations of the Red Sea or South Africa. We have received word from them that the rebuilding is going quickly and that they are amazed by the tenacity of the local people.
Before we left the Solomons in late November, we had received word that Jane’s mother was not doing well. We debated remaining there a while longer in case she needed to fly home on the spur of the moment. Air connections from there would have been very difficult – through Australia. We decided to leave right away for Micronesia where we knew that we could arrange a quick and easy flight back home.
We had thought the big problem for this 10-day crossing would be the “doldrums” at the equator. The usual weather pattern is a large band (perhaps 200-300 miles wide) of nearly calm conditions requiring motoring. As it turned out we had no winds less than 15 knots and 30-35 knots were more common. Our mainsail was already very old and threadworn. We had begun negotiations with a sailmaker in Hong Kong to build a new mainsail for us and planned to pick it up in Guam. As usual our plans had to be changed.
The mainsail blew out entirely with half the trip to go. You can see just how battered it was in the first photo. The big seas did not bother us nearly as much as listening to the tatters of the sail beating against the rigging and knowing that we could not safely go out on deck to lower the sail. When we were able to lower the sail, we had to motor-sail the rest of the way using the forward sail only. This sail is the one that we purchased while in Curacao three years ago. There is a 2’ wide band of sunbrella material along the two exposed edges of this sail and that piece of material also started to separate from the sail due to the heavy winds and the age of the stitching on the sunbrella. The sail itself was fine but it did look awful flapping around in the wind!
Through the ham radio email system, we learned that Jane’s mom had passed away when we were still two days out from our destination. So you can see that it was not one of our best crossings. It was such a miserable trip that we had to wonder exactly what it is about cruising that makes us continue.
We are anchored at Kosrae Island which is the furthest island to the east in the chain of Micronesian islands. It is very small – only about 5 miles in diameter. They are proud to be a part of the U.S. now. One year ago they became a territorial trust: their people carry US passports, they use the US dollar and the US postal system. Satori is anchored in front of the local Ace Hardware store. What a kick it was to go ashore and be back at home in an “Ace”. We have spent so many years saying, “Yes, it’s a good hardware store but it’s not Ace!” Because everyone knows everyone here, it was fairly easy to make connections for Jane to go home after only 24 hours here. Sander stayed aboard and continued to work on projects.
After a 48 hour grueling trip back home, it was great to be reunited with family again and wander around the stores with stacks and stacks of “stuff”. A LOT OF that stuff came back to Kosrae in Jane’s bags. There is a new computer and a new digital camera, plenty of boat parts that have been sorely needed and some cheese for Sander. Jane spent about ten days in Maine with her dad who is coping well with his losses. “Live strong”, Dad! The girls and grandchildren in IL are doing well and enjoying the snow and cold weather. The time ended all to soon for Jane. It is getting more and more difficult to say “Good Bye” to all of them.
The trip back to Kosrae was much easier with the layover in Honolulu spent aboard the yacht of good cruising friends. If Honolulu were a little less crowded and less expensive, that would be a great place to keep the boat for a while!
Sander had spent the month getting to know Kosrae and doing long overdue maintenance chores aboard Satori. The folks of Kosrae are not as outgoing and friendly as those of Vanuatu and Fiji, but they are very hospitable. Both the local population and a handful of ex-patriots took Sander into their holiday festivities. The Nautilus Resort is about ½ mile away and the Australian owners of the resort have kindly allowed us to set up our Singer sewing machine on the ping-pong table in their breezeway. The huge forward sail can be laid out nicely for its repair job. More often than not, when we are walking to or from the resort, a local will stop and offer a ride. See the second photo.
We have taken time to rethink what we are doing and whether we want to continue. At this point in the voyage we are committed to continue. We are nearly half way around the world in a place that would be impossible to sell Satori IF we decide that is what we want to do. We have thought about where we will head from here and have come up with a tentative plan. When our new mainsail from Hong Kong arrives (early Feb) we will head on west through the island chain of Micronesia to the island of Palau just east of the southern end of the Philippines. From there we will head southwest through the Celebes Sea to the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, south to the island of Bali in Indonesia and eventually to the Singapore region. Please remember that this is a tentative plan. If you have been following our voyage, you know that our plans often need to be changed.
The above paragraph seems ominous…that we are not happy with our cruising life-style. It is NOT all fun and games. Sometimes it just seems really hard work and uncomfortable situations. That is, after all, how life is. We continue to crave more traveling. We continue to feel safe with Satori and continue to desire to see more of the world and her fascinating people.
We hope that you will follow along with us and let us know how you are doing through our on-board email at *** If you have missed some of our earlier messages and would like to read them, you may find them at the following website: www.anchorageyachtclub.org
Jane and Sander