Friday, October 28, 2011

Nuka Hiva to San Diego

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The day started out sunny and warm, with a strong breeze from the east, which generated a beam swell that rattled the ship occasionally.  Today is a traditional Rijstaffell lunch in the Pinnacle Dining Room for those of us in Suites.  Today is also the “Walk for the Cure”, a 5KM walk to raise money for breast cancer research.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The strong breeze from the SE persists, with mostly sunny skies as we re-cross the equator headed north to San Diego. We are in the “doldrums”, but the wind and waves would say otherwise.   Today is the “Mariner Society” luncheon and the next to last formal night.  Passengers are apparently getting tired of formal nights since many people do not come to the dining rooms and there were lots of shorts at the show.  Shorts are discouraged by the dress code on board, but ignored by many people.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The ship is in the so-called “doldrums” marked by overcast skies, heavy rain at times and a fresh breeze from the SE at 17-24 knots.  By this evening we will be north of the Tropic of Cancer.  The weather is still warm and very humid.  The skies cleared about 1400 and by 1700 the wind had finally decreased to 10 knots or less.  By 2200 we were at 11 degrees North latitude and the seas were nearly calm, just a low swell.  We still have some 1500 nautical miles to go before we arrive in San Diego.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The wind and seas increased overnight, with the wind now 25 knots from the east with overcast skies.   There were brief periods of rain in the morning.  The seas are rough enough that the ship is once again creaking and groaning as we continue to head towards San Diego, just under 1200 nautical miles away at noon.  Miriam and I had dinner at the Pinnacle this evening before the farewell variety show, followed by the “Black & White Ball” with the ship’s officers.  The ball started at 10:30 PM and we finally got back to the cabin about 1:00 AM.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

At noon today we are still 750 nautical miles from San Diego, with the wind from the NE at 21 knots.  The skies are partly cloudy with the sun peeking through.  The air temperature has cooled considerably, now only 72 degrees, but with the wind feels even cooler.  The cruise is winding down, with repeats on the evening entertainment and the dinner menus are starting to look the same.  Berries have disappeared from the breakfast fruit selections, but there is still lettuce.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The seas calmed down overnight, with winds of less than 10 knots.  The temperature in the morning was only 64 degrees, but should climb during the day.  Today is packing day, and also time to review the charges, which came in as expected.  There is a repeat performer this evening and we need to have our bags in the hallway before we retire for the evening.  In the morning when we arrive are the US Customs and Immigration formalities before we disembark.  We have been told that we should be off the ship about 10 AM.

New news, this evening we had an impromptu didgeridoo demonstration in our cabin by Sean Patrick Ryan, one of the Koomurri Musicians that performed between Tahiti and Nuka Hiva.  It was a real experience!

October 29, 2011

We disembarked about 11:00 and took a taxi to the Hyatt Regency hotel.  After sighseeing, including a tour of the USS Midway (an aircraft carrier museum on the waterfront) we met our friends from the transatlantic cruise several years ago at the "C Level" restaurant on Harbor Island.  They are all leaving in the morning on the Zaandam for a 25 day cruise to Sydney and then another 14 days to New Zealand.

Papeete to Nuka Hiva

Some of the local fruits we sampled on Nuka Hiva

The "Survivor Nuka-Hiva" Beach
It is about 780 nautical miles from Papeete to Nuka Hiva, or somewhat further than Seattle to Ketchikan.  About halfway to Nuka Hiva we passed by several atolls in the Tuomotos, including Takaroa atoll which has the remains of an old square rigger, “City of Roxbury” on the beach.

The weather finally turned to rain as we approached Taiohae Bay on the south side of Nuka Hiva.  The bay is semi-circular and somewhat protected, except when the swells were from the southeast.  There were a number of sailboats anchored in a very open roadstead and they were all rolling heavily as we were taking the tender ashore.  We had booked a scenic driving tour to the Taipivai valley which was part of Herman Melvilles novels, including a look down onto the beach where “Survivor Nuka Hiva” was filmed.  There is no trace of the filming left, CBS completely cleaned up the area.  After driving through a coconut plantation we stopped for local fruit snacks and a chance to buy local handicrafts before returning to the ship in drenching rain.  The rain pretty much eliminated any of the scenic vistas we had hoped to see.

The Marquesan's do a lot of stone carving
The local cathedral with the orginal 1800 entrance preserved
This is the last stop before San Diego.   San Diego is 2837 nautical miles away and we have already travelled 6693 nautical miles for an estimated total cruise distance of 9530 nautical miles.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moorea to Papeete

We actually arrived in Papeete by 2000 and we were able to leave the ship as soon as dinner was over.  The bars and clubs close to the ship were packed, but we found a table and shared some Tahitian beer with some of our cruising mates.  We got back to the ship by 0030 in order to get some sleep before the 4X4 tours the next morning.

The tour was called “off the beaten track – a 4WD safari” and we headed to the Papenoo river and valley outside of Papeete where we saw waterfalls, lots of scenery and had a chance to swim in the Papenoo River before returning to the ship at 1245.  The traffic, dust and smoke were all intense, with 160,000 inhabitants on the island of Tahiti and 80,000 in Papeete alone.  That left us some time to walk through the central market before we had to be back on board at 1430.  The ship departed at 1500 and is headed to Nuka Hive, some 768 nautical miles to the northeast, for our last port of call before returning to San Diego.

Bora Bora to Moorea

Sting Ray Encounter

Feeding the sting rays

Approaching the anchorage at Moorea
Day 2 of our stay in Bora Bora consisted of shopping in Vaitape and then going to a motu for a beach break in the afternoon.  This shore excursion returned to the ship just before departure giving us just time to get cleaned up before we hosted a “sail away” party in our cabin as we headed out of the anchorage to Moorea.  Moorea is not far, so the ship only travelled at about 11 knots all night.

The Westerdam entered Opunohu Bay in Moorea shortly after 0600 and the tenders began running to shore before 0700.  While we were anchoring we noticed a Nordhavn 55 anchored close by, and it turned out to be “Skie”.  We last saw Skie in Sitka during our 2010 voyage north and knew they were somewhere in French Polynesia.  We could not contact them directly, but sent a note via one of the tour guides who lives on his boat anchored nearby.  In the morning we had another 4X4 Land Rover tour of the island, up steep roads, through pineapple plantations and to incredible viewpoints in the morning.  In the afternoon Patrick went on a snorkeling expedition which included feeding manta rays, seeing lemon sharks and lots of fish. The texture of the skin was unbelievably soft, almost silky.   The Westerdam raised anchor at 1800 and headed the short 30 nautical mile distance to Papeete, Tahiti, where we expect to dock by 2100.

Pictures when we get a faster connection

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Raiatea to Bora Bora

The Westerdam entered the lagoon at Bora Bora shortly after 0600.  The skies cleared somewhat overnight, but the wind was still brisk.  The first tenders went ashore by 0700, and Miriam and I went ashore with Craven’s at 0815 for a 4WD offroad tour of Bora Bora.  There were 6 people per Land Rover and with the top covers down, we had great views of the local scenery as we climbed up steep dirt tracks to some spectacular views of the peaks on Bora Bora.  We also stopped at an artist’s house where hand painted Pareau’s were made and then a black pearl farm.  In the afternoon we went back into town and made reservations to eat dinner at Bloody Mary’s, a seafood restaurant about 10 KM from the ship.

There almost no pleasure craft in the lagoon.  One exception is a Nordhavn 76 “Legend of Capricorn” from Brisbane, Australia.  We were surprised at the number of resorts that were closed, some due to typhoon damage and some to the downturn in tourist business due to the economy.  We have come to the conclusion that this is not the time of year for cruisers, if the winds and seas of the last week are any indication.

Dinner at “Bloody Mary’s” was great, with fresh caught seafood.  Miriam had white albacore and Patrick had wahoo for entrees, while both of us had two versions of tuna, “big eye” sashimi and albacore kabobs.  We finally got back to the ship shortly before 10 PM, with NO lines for the tenders.  The tenders will run all night for the really hard core party people.

Spectacular Peaks on Bora Bora

Our 4WD transportation

The lagoon at Bora Bora

Rarotonga to Raiatea

October 14, 2011

After the aborted attempt to stop at Rarotonga we headed NE to Raiatea in brisk winds and seas to 15 feet almost on the beam.  Since we left early, the captain has kept the ship at only 13 knots, so there is quite a bit of roll motion even with the stabilizers.  It is very windy on deck, with the apparent wind as high as 50 knots.  The occasional larger seas cause the entire ship to shudder.

October 15, 2011

The seas remain the same as yesterday as we cruise at 13 knots towards Raiatea.  The winds remain brisk, gusting to 35 knots true wind speed.  The Westerdam, at 950 feet long, is still being moved around the ocean like a small boat.  When we happened to talk to the captain at noontime, he indicated the seas were seastate 6-7, or significant wave heights to more than 20 feet.  The wind across the decks is so high that most of the deck chairs on the aft pool have been lashed down to keep them from blowing away and the sliding cover over the amidships pool has been kept closed.  There are salt deposits everywhere, including our furniture on the verandah, which is 8 decks above the water.

October 16, 2011

As the sun rose through the clouds we approached Raiatea from the east side and entered the reef near the town of Utorua, at the north end of the island.  The brisk wind has continued but we made it through the entrance and docked at the town, where dancers greeted us.  Our tour was in motorized pirogues which each held about 35 passengers.  The destination of Faaroa River, the largest in Polynesia, was about 7 miles to windward, but inside the lagoon in the open boats.  We immediately regretted taking the bow seats as we were completely drenched in just a few minutes.  The crew finally passed out raincoats, but it was too late, we were all soaked, as well as our backpacks.

We finally arrived at the river, which was calm, and motored up perhaps one mile in the sun, looking at plants and a few birds.  After a short visit we headed to Moto Inru for a beach break.  The water was warmer than the air, but with the wind, we still were a little cold and welcomed the ride with the wind behind us back to the ship.  After changing into dry clothes we headed back into town.  Most stores were closed since it was Sunday, but a few shops were open.  We walked as far as the local marina before getting souvenirs and a cold beverage at the local bar.  By 3 PM the skies were totally cloudy and the wind had picked back up to 25 knots.

We left at 6 PM and headed northwest between Raiatea and Taha’a towards our destination of Bora Bora, just 47 nautical miles away where we will spend 2 days.  The wind is expected to continue, so it will be interesting to see how rough the water is in the lagoon at Bora Bora.

Our Canoe trip to the Faaroa River

Moving up the river

Entering the reef at Raiatea

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tabuaeran to Rarotonga – Part 2

Rarotonga from 1/2 mile offshore

October 12, 2011

We repeated October 12 as we passed back across the Date Line and are now only three hours behind Seattle, the same as Hawaii.  This is another day at sea, marked by partly cloudy skies and an increasing breeze.  There have been occasional rain squalls, but most miss the ship.  We spent the day exercising, reading or sitting poolside under the tropical sun.

October 13, 2011

The last day at sea before Rarotonga brought more wind and increasing seas, with more of the rain squalls.  At noon we were still some 330 nautical miles from Rarotonga and 1200 nautical miles from Tabuaeran.  The ship is cruising at a little over 17 knots, well below the usual 21 knot cruise speed for this type of ship, and we suspect it is just fast enough to always arrive in the early morning at our destination after leaving the previous destination in early evening.  The captain indicated during his noon position update that the windy conditions were expected to continue, but did not say there was a high probability of cancellation.  In fact, he emphasized that there was NO tropical depression in the area.

October 14, 2011

The wind and seas continued throughout the night, with the apparent wind at 55 knots when we woke up.  We suspected, and it was confirmed later by the captain, that the seas were too rough to permit using the tenders to get ashore and so the stop was cancelled.  We have now travelled to 21 degrees south latitude, after starting at 48 degrees north latitude.  We did cruise along the lee side of the island just outside the reef for several hours at slow speed for photos before heading back northeast towards Raiatea.  Holland America has refunded the port taxes and the shore excursion cost and offered a glass of sparkling wine with dessert at dinner.  However, Rarotonga was one of the primary reasons for us choosing this cruise and to travel 5300 nautical miles and do only a drive-by and get a glass of inexpensive wine is really disappointing.  I suspect the cost to Holland America is substantial when a stop is missed, but this is now the second weather related port cancellation, and we are not finished, since there is only one port at which we dock for the remainder of the cruise.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lahaina to the Equator

Children Posing for pictures
Schoolgirls on the main road
Climbing for coconuts

We have limited bandwidth on board, so only a couple of pictures until we arrive in Rarotonga.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The remainder of the day in Lahaina was pleasant.  We stopped for lunch at the Lahaina Yacht Club on Front Street and watched the boat traffic and surfers from the lanai.  After more shopping we finally headed back to the ship about 1500.  The ship began departure preparations about 1630 and by 1700 we were underway south past Lanai as the sun set.  The evening entertainment was a repeat from the very first night, so we skipped that and had a leisurely dinner instead.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Overnight the wind and seas picked up a little with an 8-10 foot beam swell which rocked the ship all night.  Morning rain squalls were gradually replaced by partly sunny skies, but the brisk wind made being on deck unpleasant at first.  The wind and swells gradually decreased and we spent the afternoon relaxing in or around the pools under mostly sunny skies before getting ready for formal night number three.  We joined Bill & Ruth Craven in the Pinnacle Grill for a special dinner finished off with Chocolate Volcano Cake.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Overnight we crossed the International Date Line (due to Kiribati wanting the who nation on the same day, even though we are not actually that close to the official date line) and lost Sunday entirely.  We woke up to rain showers and 79 degrees, with visibility of less than one mile.  The swells continue, now with a sizeable wind chop on top.  We seem to be picking up the edges of the tropical storms headed for Mexico as we head south towards the equator.  Our next stop, Tabuaeran (Fanning Island), part of the Northern Line Islands and the nation of Kiribati is tomorrow.  We will be able to go ashore only if weather permits.

Tabuaeran is an atoll with a diameter of about 7 miles at the widest point and has about 2000 residents.  There is no electricity or running water and no cars, but a few trucks.  Most families live in a “Fale”, a house consisting of a single room with dirt floors covered with gravel.  There are separate cooking and dining rooms to keep pests at bay.  Lifestyle is described as shared, and ancestor worship is still practiced.  The name “Tabuaeran” itself is taken from a Polynesian phrase that means hallowed footprint, probably from the shape of the atoll from the air.  It is a low lying arid atoll and just barely above sea level, so is very vulnerable to the effects of global warming.  The atoll has no native population, all the current residents moved here following its rediscovery by Captain Fanning in 1798.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

As the sun rose over the SE horizon we could see Tabuaeran (Fanning Island) in the distance.  There was both a swell and wind chop, but the captain used the ship as a windbreak and created a lee as we stood offshore, no anchor.  Miriam and I were on the first tender ashore and the passengers were all greeted by islanders singing songs, selling curios and posing for pictures (for a fee).  We walked south from the landing and saw people processing seaweed, gathering coconuts, and lots of kids, including many in school.  There were also lots of dogs and pigs and relatively lush vegetation.  After several hours sightseeing we went back to the ship for restrooms (there are no facilities on the island) and then returned for more pictures and some swimming on the site of the former Norwegian Cruise Line beach, now fallen into disrepair.  After a long day in the sun we finally left Tabuaeran at 1700, bound for Rarotonga.  Tomorrow we cross the equator and will have the appropriate ceremonies to appease King Neptune and initiate some “polliwogs” on the crew that have not yet crossed the equator on a ship and received their “shellback” certificates.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another day at sea marked by crossing the equator at 0602 in the morning.  At 1000 we celebrated the crossing with the fun King Neptune ceremony around the aft pool.  No passengers are allowed to participate, only watch, and the pool is then closed for cleaning out the debris from coating the polliwogs with everything from colored egg whites, syrup to dry cereal.  We had rain squalls late in the afternoon and the skies turned mostly cloudy.  At noon we had some 1100 nautical miles to go in order to reach the next stop, Rarotonga.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Honolulu to Lahaina

 The dinner cruises depart Aloha Tower
 The famous King Kamehameha Statue
 Iolani Palace, now a museum
Approaching the Arizona Memorial
 The aft gun turret base, still smelling of oil seeping
Inside the memorial

Hawaii state capitol building

Queen Iolani statue
Departing Honolulu for Hilo

Daimond head in the background

Fireboats greeting us in Hilo

Mauna Kea from the harbor on a clear day in Hilo

After docking late at Honolulu Harbor we waited for the crowds to thin out and headed into town, looking for the post office and internet access.  We found the post office just four blocks from the ship in a building across from Iolani Palace and mailed a package back to Bellevue.  Walking a few more blocks brought us to the Aloha Tower which has really changed since Jetfoil Days in the 1970’s, with lots of pricey shops and a few places to eat.  One of the coffee shops offered internet access when purchasing coffee, so we spent some time paying bills and updating the blog.  We shared a taxi into Waikiki with Craven’s and ended up at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for lunch and Mai Tai’s.  Dinner on the ship was nearly empty, with many guests sampling the BBQ on the Lido deck.  We decided to pass on that.

The next morning we departed on our shore excursion to the Arizona Memorial, which included stops at Punchbowl National Cemetery, downtown, and then to Pearl Harbor.  The tour of the Arizona Memorial was sobering as we reflected on the lives lost and that my Dad had survived the sinking of the battleship California on that “Day of Infamy” in 1941, nearly 70 years ago.  All the accounts we had read about that day fell into place seeing the actual sites.  Most of the people were respectful at the memorial.  There were several Pearl Harbor Survivors signing autographs, but we did not get a chance to talk to them with the timing of the shore excursion.  The new museums and film presentations were well worth the visit, but we wished we had even more time to look at them in detail.  The drive back to the ship was long due to traffic jams, but included at detour though Chinatown.

The Westerdam departed Honolulu at 1700 and we headed for Hilo under sunny skies.  Our entertainment this evening was a ventriloquist who had appeared on the David Letterman show and he was pretty good.  The seas and wind increased overnight as we approached the Big Island of Hawaii, but the skies were clear as we headed into Hilo Harbor, docking before 0800. We were surprised to see the “Zaandam” tied up, but found that rough seas off Lahaina had forced a detour to Hilo.  We are hopeful the seas will subside for our planned visit tomorrow.   The top of Mauna Kea was visible until about noon, and then the skies clouded over and rain showers arrived.  Taking a taxi into town, a distance of about three miles, we walked around the old town that survived the Tsunami of 1946 and went to the museum, which had been a bank before the tsunami.  We watched the video presentation in the old bank vault and then headed back to the ship for lunch.  The rain showers discouraged us from further forays into town.

On Friday morning we were able to get ashore quickly and are sitting in a Starbucks sipping iced coffee while we update the blog.  This evening when the ship departs Lahaina we head south for French Polynesia.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

At Sea between San Diego and Honolulu

Seas remained calm, with 10 knot winds and a low northwest swell, overcast skies.  This weather pattern is expected to persist for another 24 hours and then get warmer and sunny for the last two days of the four day crossing to Honolulu.  We are getting into a shipboard routine, which includes a workout and hydrotherapy session before breakfast, some seminar attendances (like a cooking demo), lunch, another workout session and then getting ready for dinner and evening entertainment.  Not much stress in this routine.

By day three the skies have cleared, the wind is gentle and the sun bathers have come out of hiding, nearly every outside deck chair is taken.  This evening we went with Bill & Ruth Craven to “La Cirque”, the recreation of the famous New York restaurant by the same name.  The Pinnacle Grill is transformed with new decorations, dishes and uniforms to appear the same as the namesake restaurant.  The menu items are supposed to be the same as the original, but in our opinion, fell a little short.  Still, it was a good experience and meal, which included lobster salad, a deconstructed Caesar salad, butternut squash soup, chateaubriand and chocolate soufflé or crème brulee for dessert, along with wine pairings for each course.

Our last day at sea started out with rain squalls and mostly cloudy skies.  They finally passed by and we had a sunny afternoon walking the promenade deck.

This morning we approached Honolulu and passed by Diamond Head.  We will stay overnight in Honolulu and plan on visiting the Arizona Memorial tomorrow.
 Passing Diamond Head
 Dinner at "La Cirque"
 Gathering on the verandah for evening cocktails
Looking for the "green flash" - too many clouds

San Diego Interlude

The mission at the Presidio, San Diego

The first formal night was fun.  We started with appetizers and wine in Bill & Ruth Craven’s cabin and then headed for the show.  There were many people in attendance that ignored the “formal” night dress code, with everything from jeans to t-shirts and shorts.  The show was entitled “Stars of Stage & Screen” and was a high energy dance and vocal production by the Westerdam singers and dancers.  After the show we went to the Vista dining room for dinner and then the Ocean Bar for an Irish Coffee.  By now the seas and wind had moderated so it was a peaceful night.

In the morning, our last sea day before San Diego, the weather started out sunny but then we ran into dense fog.  We listened to the fog horn until early evening when visibility improved to 3-5 miles as the ship headed down the Santa Barbara Channel past the Channel Islands.  The marine layer producing the poor visibility persisted overnight, but lifted as we docked at the “B” Street Pier in downtown San Diego.  We were joined by the Statendam and the Sapphire Princess. 

Miriam and I left the ship about 0900 to meet our friends, Mary, Kyle and Kathleen for a tour and lunch in La Jolla.  After stopping at the Presidio and the Mount Soledad war memorial we headed into La Jolla.  The fog still was present in La Jolla, so we did not get the views we expected, but we had a great lunch at “Georges” in La Jolla Cove.  The sun finally broke through as we headed back to the ship, where we re-boarded a little after 1500, so we could attend the mandatory lifeboat drill at 1615.  The Westerdam left at 1650 under sunny skies and headed west towards Hawaii.

At Sea Southbound from Columbia River

The weather did not cooperate so the Astoria stop was cancelled and we are now spending 3 days at sea rather than the 2 days originally planned.  As the day progressed, the seas did continue to build in height, but also were longer, so the ride remained about the same.  Miriam and I went to lunch in the Vista dining room at the stern and the waves looked incredibly large.  We then spent some more time in the exercise room and hydrotherapy suites before dinner.  There were many empty tables at dinner, so service was very quick.  The Captain had ordered champagne for everyone as partial payback for having to cancel the Astoria, Oregon stop.  We headed to the show, which was a less than funny comedian and suspecting that might be the case we sat in the back and finally left early.  We were not the only ones that did so, including people sitting down in front.

The wind continued to abate overnight, and the swells moved around to the beam, so we had a gentle rolling motion when morning arrived.

Tonight is the first formal night so we will have to get dressed up for the first time this cruise.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tahiti Cruise Day 2-3

The weather was rainy, but not cold as we disembarked in Vancouver with Bill & Ruth Craven.  We grabbed a taxi and headed to Yaletown to check out “Cento Notti”, or 100 Days in Italian.  We had tried this restaurant last year when it was called 100 Days, which meant that it would close and be re-invented every 100 days.  This is the third re-incarnation and has been redecorated in Italian Bistro style.  After checking it out we headed to a Starbucks for coffee and walked around part of Yaletown until 1100 when brunch started at “Cento Notti”.  The fare was pretty standard, except for a lobster and crab eggs benedict, where the crab and lobster were made into a cake and substituted for the English muffin.

After brunch we shopped for a dress shirt for Bill Craven and then back to the ship where we departed at 1700 in rain.  We were awakened at 0100 as we turned the corner at Swiftsure Bank and headed south.  The winds and seas continued to increase overnight and when Miriam and I went to the observation deck at 0700 the seas were 20 feet and the winds were gusting to 67 knots.  After breakfast and a workout the seas continued to build and at 1000 the captain cancelled the Astoria stop due to near hurricane force winds.  The ship slowed to 9 knots as we headed into building seas and the entire ship was creaking and flexing.  We went back to the 10th level observation deck and enjoyed the ride.  The winds are predicted to exceed 75 knots later today but subside around midnight.  All the outside decks were closed, as well as the main pools.

Our first and hopefully last major storm at sea!

Tahiti Cruise Day 1

We had ordered a Shuttle Express town car to take us to Pier 91 and the cruise ship terminal.  What actually arrived was a stretch limo, which was just a little over the top.  We certainly arrived in style, and in just a few minutes were through security and on-board the ship.  Our cabin was ready for us when we boarded before noon, and our luggage arrived within one hour.  After exploring the ship we had the mandatory lifeboat drill (life jackets are no longer required and roll call was not done) and departed from Pier 91 at 1545, about 15 minutes ahead of schedule under warm but overcast skies.  We waved to our friends on “G” dock at Elliott Bay Marina as we headed up Puget Sound for the short 166 nautical mile voyage to Vancouver.  We did not realize until we boarded that there were nearly 1900 passengers going for a one day “booze” cruise to Vancouver, and only about 200 passengers staying on for the full 35 days.  We apparently will pick up some more passengers in Vancouver, and the rest in San Diego.

The party was on in full force even before the lifeboat drill, and the pools and hot tubs were jammed with bodies enjoying the short cruise.

Bill and Ruth Craven joined us for appetizers and drinks before dinner and we then went to the Vista Dining Room for an 8 PM seating.  Following dinner, Bill was presented with a birthday cake to celebrate his birthday on departure day and we then went to the late show titled “Rockin’ Road”, which was a variety show of oldies but goldies of rock and roll.  By the time the show ended, we were departing the pilot station at Port Angeles and heading for Victoria to pick up the Canadian pilot for the short trip to Vancouver.

We are not quite clear how a ship can take so long to go from Seattle to Vancouver, and apparently neither did the crew, since we arrived at the cruise terminal in Vancouver nearly 2 hours ahead of schedule.  The weather was no longer sunny and warm, more like a typical fall day, rain and 50 degrees.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cruise to Tahiti and the Marquesas

With our trip to SE Alaska now complete and Spirit in the yard for maintenance and upgrades, we are getting ready to explore some potential future destinations for Spirit.

We depart Seattle on the MS Westerdam, a Holland America ship for a 35 day cruise.  Our itinerary takes us to Vancouver, BC, Astoria, San Diego, several locations in the Hawaiian Islands, Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, several locations in French Polynesia and the on to Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas before returning to San Diego.  We are fortunate that our son, Cameron, will be staying in our house and taking care of it while we are gone.

This cruise will be a real change from our SE Alaska cruise, someone else is navigating, cooking, cleaning and all the other tasks that filled our days this past summer.  We can just concentrate on exploring the destinations and seeing if they are places we might like to go back to in either our own boat, or by chartering.  We will also have several stretches with 4-5 days at sea, so we can experience open Pacific Ocean waters, in comfort!

Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Alaska Voyage Ends

August 2, 2011

After an uneventful transit of Yuculta Rapids we decided to avoid the crowds in Prideaux Haven and instead headed for Gorge Harbor on Cortes Island.  The anchorage near the marina was very crowded so we found a relatively empty space near the east end of the harbor and enjoyed the sun.

August 3, 2011

We had a relaxed departure from the anchorage about 0800 under sunny skies and headed for Nanaimo Harbor, taking a route down the west side of Texada Island.  Military Area "WG"  was active, so we stayed close to the Vancouver Island shore as we passed Balleanas Islands.  By 1720 we were docked at Nanaimo where we shared a potluck meal with the Nowie's on their Selene 58 "Rhapsody".

August 4, 2011

Slack water at Dodd Narrows was predicted for 0815, so we were underway at 0700 to make sure we were there on time.  Passing through Dodd Narrows and heading down Trincomali Channel we heard to Victoria Coast Guard radio asking anyone near if they could assist a 37 foot pleasure trawler that had broken down.  We could see the boat and ended up towing them about 4 miles to a safer anchorage where they hoped someone could either tow them to Vancouver or fix their transmission.  The tow went well, except the trawler's tender engine scraped and dented a section of our teak caprail.  The people on board, while otherwise nice enough, did not offer to pay for the repair at the time, with obviously more pressing problems on board.  We will contact them later and see if they might consider helping with the cost.

The towing exercise took about two hours to complete, but even so, we docked in Ganges Marina by 1320 under sunny skies.  We visited with Miriam's cousin Dean Sevold and had a dinner in town with him before returning to the boat to continue visiting.

August 5-7, 2011

Spirit departed Ganges at 0930 for the short run to Roche Harbor for the Roche Harbor Yacht Club "Colors" cruise.  We were able to clear US Customs by phone with our Nexus passes and were tied up at the main guest dock by 1215 to begin the festivities with our fellow club members.  The weather continued sunny and warm and we decided to stay one extra day along with many of our friends from the club and continue visiting.

August 8, 2011

We reluctantly got underway for Anacortes at 0950.  The skies remained sunny in Roche Harbor but the clouds were hanging over Anacortes.  However by the time we arrived the skies had cleared and at 1330 Spirit was back in the slip at Anacortes Marina, after 104 days of cruising.

Spirit travelled 2920 nautical miles this trip, We ran the main engine 412 hours and consumed a total of 2565 gallons of diesel fuel for the heater, the generator and the main engine.

We will compute some of the other statistics later, but the fishing, crabbing and prawning this season was excellent.  We did discover some improvements we need to make before our trip next season.

The cruising is not quite finished this year, stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Southbound from Port McNeill

July 29, 2011

After docking at the Port McNeill Fuel Dock Marina Patrick hunted for spare parts (none found) and Miriam did the final shopping for provisions before Spirit heads back into the USA on August 5, 2011.  That evening we had dinner with Ray and Sue Biggs at the “Sportsman Steakhouse” in Port McNeill after appetizers on “Seventh Wave”.

July 30, 2011

This morning we said goodbye to Ray and Sue Biggs onboard ”Seventh Wave” and headed out from Port McNeill in heavy rain and occasional fog, never having more than 2 miles of visibility, and most of the time just one mile.

The rain and fog meant the seas were calm, but the promised push from the flood tide never really materialized.  We passed Alert Bay and headed east into Johnstone Strait, where we had to dodge a few gillnetters before turning into Port Harvey, our destination for the evening.  We arrived about 1335 and docked in heavy rain.  Port Harvey was full for the evening, so we were glad we had made a reservation, since they had to turn one boat away.

We had dinner in their pub style restaurant (they have added a few items to the menu, such as steak and fries and the food was good) and reconnected with several other boats we had met over the past two weeks.  We highly recommend stopping here!

July 31, 2011

The rain had stopped overnight and in the morning we had complimentary Starbucks coffee on the barge, and purchased some freshly baked turnovers and sausage rolls for breakfast.  The tides are large this time of month, so we left at 0835 to minimize the effects of the currents in Johnstone Strait and in Cordero Channel as we headed to Cordero Lodge for the evening. We arrived at 1400 after dealing with 3 knot adverse currents and 6 knot favorable currents at various places along the way.  The skies continued to clear and we docked under partly sunny skies.

There were rumors that Cordero Lodge would be closed this season, but it is open for both moorage and meals.  We are looking forward to Beef Rouladen for dinner.

The rouladen was good as expected and we had a great evening with the three other vessels at Cordero Lodge.

August 1, 2011

The sunny skies persisted and we left Cordero Lodge at 1000 to arrive at Dent Rapids at slack water, which occurred at 1200.  Dent Island Lodge is only about one mile from the rapids, so by 1215 we were docked.  By evening, the docks were completely full.  We had made reservations at the Rapids Grill, which is a covered, but open air pavilion alongside little Dent Rapids that we had first experienced last year.  Rather than the traditional 5 course meal in the main dining room, the Rapids Grill offers a tapas style menu (small plates) cooked in front of 12 guests that sit at a high counter in very comfortable high chairs.  There are also a couple of tables for overflow, but a maximum of 20 people.  This evening there were 16 people.

Our menu included chilled gazpacho soup, grilled avocado with Dungeness crab, BC spot prawns sautéed in gin, butter and garlic, a duck confit risotto, grilled tenderloin and a dessert of chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries.

We have now travelled 638 nautical miles since leaving Ketchikan on July 12.  We have about 200 nautical miles to go before we return to Anacortes.

August 2, 2011

We leave at noon to hit the low slack tide in Gillard Passage and Yuculta Rapids.  We will stop someplace in Desolation Sound before heading to Ganges on Saltspring Island to visit Miriam’s cousin Dean Sevold.  We will not have internet until we get to Ganges, but hopefully we will have phone service most of the time.

We expect to re-enter the US on Friday, August 5.

Friday, July 29, 2011

More Broughton Archipelago Photos

Dinner in Sutherland Bay

On the flybridge of Seventh Wave

Linda Collier's Paella

The Raft Up!

All 13 people fit on the flybridge of Seventh Wave
Eagles nest in Acteon Sound

Allyson reading a Cajun fairy tale after the Cajun Dinner
Jennis Bay Marina

The Roche Harbor Yacht Club member (less Patrick)
at Jennis Bay

The Jennis Bay staff as the blessing on the food is asked.
The view entering Turnbull Covre

Turnbull Cove
Shawl Bay Marina

The shelter where pancakes are served in the morning.

Departing Shawl Bay under sunny skies