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Thread: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

  1. #386
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    I'm loving this thread. Following along on a journey I'll never be able to take.
    What are the dimensions of Julia?
    I was born on a wooden boat that I built myself.
    Skiing is the next best thing to having wings.

  2. #387
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Another fascinating update, thanks!

  3. #388
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Jones View Post
    .
    What are the dimensions of Julia?
    She,s an Atkin Ingrid. 38 loa32 lwl. 11.3 beam 5.5 draught. 26000 lbs.

  4. #389
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    J. Madison, you make my day every time you post. Thank you for taking us along. I appreciate your perspective, your candor, and your no drama, but high interest stories and pictures.

    -Bruce
    Tales from the land and sea: http://terrapintales.wordpress.com/

  5. #390
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Quote Originally Posted by cstevens View Post
    I'm curious about the number of other wooden boats that are out there cruising the South Pacific? Are you seeing any others (Latifa aside)?
    There is nobody out her but us unfortunately.... In mexico there were a handful of wooden boats, but out in the pacific there has been none. I saw a little Hess cutter at Nuku Hiva, but it seemed to be in long term storage. That is it, except Latifa. Maybe some composite boats that weren't immediately identifiable.

    The median boat is a 44' lagoon catermaran, which is pretty much visual pollution in any anchorage. 50'+ boats are common. Its a little bit crazy. We talked to some life-long cruisers on a 36' boat who said they used to be the largest boat in every anchorage and the other cruisers thought they were living luxuriously. Things have changed. Every once in a while a little classic plastic contessa 32 or something will sail into harbor with us. Invariably crewed by a young person or young couple. They are always good company.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Bateau View Post
    Thank you for taking us along. I appreciate your perspective, your candor, and your no drama, but high interest stories and pictures.

    -Bruce
    Thanks Bruce and everyone else!

    So we left off in Savusavu, a bustling little town on the island of Vanua Levu. We stayed at Waitui marina, which is not a marina but a collection of mooring balls and a dinghy dock. The building is pretty much a shack, in an endearing kind of way. They started construction on a new bar upstairs while we were there, so it might be the new hot place to be by now.





    Our raw water pump was leaking sea water, and some actually slipped by the second seal and the engine oil started to look faintly milky. Very bad. After hammering on the shaft for a day, I took the battered remains into town and asked around for a machine shop to press the shaft out properly. Luckily I had a spare shaft, as I needed it. There was no machine shop, but a guy fixing lawnmowers behind the auto parts store had a press and in 5 minutes had my problem fixed.



    Turns out the seals were not quite right, despite being from a Jabsco rebuild kit. The new seals were also wrong, so they were bedded in gasket material where they press in to the housing, and no longer leak. We changed the engine oil as well.

    The local veggie market has good produce and good prices. The grocery stores only sell imported produce, anything local and fresh is bought at the town market.





    This ice cream stand only has one flavor at a time, but it changes frequently. A cone costs about $1. Ice cream is a big thing here, whole families sit around with cones waiting for the bus, old ladies rest under trees licking cones, etc..

    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 05:43 AM.

  6. #391
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    We rented a car for a day to see the surrounding area. First stop was a copra mill. We had heard they would give tours, but I think it had been a long time since anybody stopped by as they seemed a little confused. But we got a great tour.



    Coconuts are delivered by small farmers, who get FJ $0.25 for each large coconut and $0.10 for each small one. Not much money. They are split open with an axe and the inner meat scooped out with sharp knives by hand.



    The good stuff comes here to be grated finely, pressed, fermented, seperated and sold as coconut oil or coconut milk. This is the food-grade side of the operation.



    Lower quality copra is sent to this big shed where the same process happens but it is not food grade, the oil is sold for cosmetics and such. We bought a bottle of each. After seeing copra drying racks and plantations all across French Polynesia, it was interesting to see the final processing of the product.





    Continuing our rented car adventure, we headed to a nearby waterfall. It was quite difficult to find, no sign but some local kids pointed us in the right direction. We had vague instructions from the marina to talk to the landowner first. We couldn't find him, but luckily ran into him farming halfway down the trail and we got permission to continue. Fijians are super welcoming, but the culture is such that you need permission to do lots of things, including visit a villiage, anchor in front of one, fish in their bay, etc... Whit carries a sulu when in the villiages as dress code is very modest.

    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 05:46 AM.

  7. #392
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    The waterfall was lovely and we enjoyed the hike through the jungle to get there as well.



    Back in town for the evening we had dinner on the back patio of a nondescript building looking over the creek. The whole patio was screened in, and the sunset was great. Food was top notch too, though more expensive than we had become accustomed to down at the local curry counter.



    Having the car for a few more hours the next morning we went to a botanical garden. This involved calling a number we found online, and then armed with a new number from that person we called the local caretaker who opened the gate for us. Very exclusive. Outside of resorts, things aren't really set up for tourists here. Which adds a small layer of complexity to everything, but also gives a much better experience. The garden is primaily a collection of rare palm species, many of which are very endangered or extinct in the wild.





    There is a new chocolate farm just ouside of Savusavu, so we checked that out as well. If you've never seen one, this is a cocoa plant.



    The farm uses permaculture methods and focuses on the cocoa species that are not used commercially, giving different flavors to the chocolate at the cost of lower yields. Cracking open a pod, the seeds are in a fruity pulp and are absolutely delicious to suck on. They are tangy and sweet and taste like juicy fruit gum or something. They taste nothing like chocolate until they are fermented, dried, roasted, and ground. We bought a bunch of chocolate from them.

    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 05:25 AM.

  8. #393
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Feeling like we had done Savusavu thoroughly, we decided to head up the coast 40 miles or so to Viani Bay. Unfortunately we waited a day too long, and the reinforced trades kicked in. We left before dawn for the bash up the coast. I thought we would just be able to lay the course, but we couldn't and so a long day of tacking began. The seas were up and we bashed hard, water tumbling down the decks and spray stinging our eyes. The motion was violent. Mile after mile we clawed along with double reefed main, reefed jib, and with help from the engine too. Whit and I had been feeling a little queasy with the new biome served up in all the interesting restaurants we had been trying. Whether it was that or just plain old mal de mer, we both started getting sick. Eventually, for the first time on the entire trip, we both returned our breakfast to the sea.





    We carried on much of the day, until it became clear that we just were not going to make it before dark. Entering the reef and anchoring in the dark is not really a good idea, so we reluctantly turned around and had a glorious run back to where we had started. It was the kind of day where you sail downwind, not upwind. We threw the fishing line over and 3 minutes later had hooked a lovely mahi mahi. Consolation prize.

    The reef at the point out from Savusavu has some good snorkeling.



    The wind was going to blow for a number of days, and then dad had a flight to catch a few days after that, so we were pretty much going to be bound to Savusavu for another 2 weeks. We rented the car again for another day to keep from getting cabin fever. Having the old man around does have some benefits.

    We decided to visit another waterfall, this one adjacent to a village and that requires a sevusevu ceremony to visit. This is the tradition in fiji, even amongst themselves. When visiting another village, a gift of kava root is given to the cheif and a ceremony ensues if they accept you. You are literally becoming a temporary vassal of that cheif, entitled to the village resources and cared for as one of the group. This must have had serious ramifications during the great cannibal wars, but today it gives permission to hike or fish or take photos in the village. We pulled over outside the village to put on our sulus (skirts) and drove into the sleepy place in our rental car feeling very out of place. Our kava was accepted, (really I think there was no risk it wouldn't be), we sat on the mats and there was some chanting and clapping. After that the village wares were brought out and we bought some shell neclaces and similar. We did not drink the kava, although I understand sometimes you will.

    This is what a village farm looks like, taro and cassava growing in the weeds, with bananna and papaya trees surrounding. Most fijians still primarily subsist off the land, and 65% of households farm less than 1 hectare of land.



    We were assigned a guide and taken down the trail to the waterfall.



    We swam, which even in the morning was extremely refreshing. It is seriously hot in fiji! A fresh water dip is a luxury to a sailor.

    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 03:59 AM.

  9. #394
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    We walked through the village, heading to the beach. The tower structure along side the house is the wood cookstove. This is typical, although often the chimney cap is just a full sheet of corregated roofing bent over the top in an arc.





    We carried on across the island to the biggest city of Lautoka. The leeward side of the island was much drier, and sugar cane plantations dominated the landscape. Very narrow tracks run up the valley and this little cane locomotive was broken down near the mill.



    Trucks of all types were hauling cane in from the fields. There was a line of them a quarter mile long at the mill gate, tractors pulling flatbed trailers, trucks of all shapes and sizes, all fully loaded.



    At this point a cheap SD card decided to soil the sheets and we lost all photos and videos for the next week or so. I'll spare you the monologe without photos to break it up, but the big events were dad flew out to New Zealand to visit some job site for his company on the way home, and Whitney and I made another attempt at reaching Viani Bay. This time conditions were flat calm, and we motored most of the way without incident.

    Viani bay is adjacent to the famous Rainbow Reef, one of the best dive sites in the world. We were determined to go diving here with a local company. The bay is lovely, has no road access, and the "dive resort" is 2 little cabins and a bar that welcomes cruisers. What a cool place!



    We ran into some boats we knew from Polynesia, and had a fun time the first night at the little bar. But the next morning we felt pretty flu-ish and we ended up not leaving the boat for over a week. It wasn't covid, we had a test on board, but we were in no condition to do any diving. Day after day slipped by, and we continuously thought that we were almost on the mend. Eventually it was clear we were going to be clogged up for many more days so we reluctantly decided to get a change of scenery and do our diving with another outfit on the other side of the straights when we felt better.

    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 03:58 AM.

  10. #395
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    We headed across to Taveuni, the garden isle, grabbing a free mooring ball off a little dive resort.



    It was pretty posh compared to what we were getting used to.



    We were invited to attend their lovo feast, which is a traditional party involving pig roasted in the ground and dancing and such. Pretty touristy, especially at a resort, but they set it up just for the cruisers moored out front and we were excited for some pork. We put on our brightest fijian shirts and got ready to party. Here the stones are heating before they will be buried with the meat wrapped in banana leaves.





    Afterwards there was a communal kava bowl for the resort guests who would not likely see one otherwise. I feel too intimidated to take pictures during the real thing, so I was glad to get some pictures here. The root is pounded and placed in a cloth, then water is poured over it to the desired strength. Traditionally I believe young boys would chew the root and spit it into the towel instead of grinding it. Happily that seems to have fallen out of favor.

    The cheif drinks first from the coconut shell, when drinking you say "Bula!" and then clap a set number of times depending where you are, and then the drink is downed in one swig. One clap follows and then the shell is passed to the next person. Your mouth and lips go numb and it is mildly relaxing. It isn't really inebriating, but kind of the opposite of coffee, just calming.



    The wooden bowls are amazing, carved out of a single piece of a log. In a villiage the bowls are often very old, passed down the generations. We liked them so much we bought one, and sent it home with dad. I hope it made it safely. We probably wont drink much kava out of it, but it seemed like something that would help us remember this adventure.

    Finally we felt good enough to do some diving. It was spectacular. Probably the best corals I've ever seen, and of types that are mostly all new to me. You'll have to take my word for it, our underwater camera is only rated to 30 feet so we didn't bring it along. Googling Rainbow Reef, Fiji will probably give better photos anyway, this is where the dive magazines come to get their pictures.


  11. #396
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Finally checking that off the bucket list it was time to start getting serious about seeing Fiji. Our quarantine in Viani bay along with the days spent at the dive resort pretty much worked through our fresh food, and we planned to head way out to the remote inslands. So the next move was to sail up to Somosomo for a re-provisioning.








    There ins't much of a harbor, but we anchored out in front of the town for one night.



    Somosomo is a small but quaint little place, with a few vegetable stands and a grocery store.



    This little river runs right through town. Very peaceful.


  12. #397
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    After hitting the ATM for some cash we grabbed a couple bundles of kava root to use as gifts and we were ready for the overnight passage to the Lau group. The Lau group did not used to be open to foreign cruisers I gather, but you can visit it now. The difficulty is it is the windward group of islands within Fiji, so you must find a weather window or bash upwind to get there. The islands are the closest to Tonga, and have been settled by both Tongan and Fijian people through history. As one Fijian told us, "The Tongans used to be here, but we had a big war and then we ate all the tongans." So i guess fiji won.







    We sailed upwind over the top of Taveuni, tacking through the evening. We rounded the island in the dark and had an easy slow sail all night. In the morning we were outside the reef entrance on Vanua Balavu.



    There are range markers, which is a pretty big luxury on these reef passes. Unfortunately if you follow the range you go right over the shallows and may even hit a bommie. Following the markers the bottom came right up until we could see the fish swimming through the coral under us. We could see deep water by the color off to port, and swerved hard over into safety. Our charts don't show much detail for these passes, or anywhere inside the reefs, so you pretty much navigate using the color of the water when the sun is high.



    Once through the pass we had an easy passage along the reef down to the villiage.


  13. #398
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    At the village, slash and burn agriculture was evident, as it is all over Fiji. The permaculture chocolate farm we visited is teaching courses to groups of young fijian farmers on the benefits of maintaining soil fertility and using ground cover to prevent the erosion and the sterilization that comes with slash and burn. There are also benefits for the coral reefs that otherwise can be silted out after an area is cleared.



    We anchored up and prepared to go present our sevusevu.





    Its not every day I put on my sunday best skirt, but this is what it looks like. I must say the sulu is very comfortable, although I struggle not to startle the cheif with indecent views when sitting on the floor. Takes a certain practice I imagine.



    The sevusevu went smoothly, we signed our name in the guest book and we were free to go anchor in the beautiful Bay of Islands. This area is stunning. Little mushroom shaped islets are scattered throughout the bay, forming little coves and secret channels. The area is completely untouched, and no sign of humanity can be seen except for the occasional sailboat tucked back in a little cove.



    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 05:23 AM.

  14. #399
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    We rowed the dinghy around taking in the scenery.







    One of the unique features is a huge colony of giant fruit bats in one of the coves. These are the biggest bats I have ever seen, and they number in the many thousands.



    Each sunset they all leave the roost and head off into the jungle to feed. They are noisy creatures, squawking at each other in the twilight. We rowed the dinghy into their cove to watch the evening commute.



    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 05:12 AM.

  15. #400
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    This is one of my favorite photos of the entire trip so far.


    One day we set the rig on the dinghy to do some exploration a bit farther away, I had seen an interesting area of islets on a satellite image.





    The snorkeling was pretty good too.





    There were many little coves to explore and we stuck our nose into all of them.


  16. #401
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia



    We met some Australians on another boat who wanted to do some bouldering on the cliffs. We gave it a try with them, falling just put you into deep water so it was a good time.





    Every couple days we moved a few hundred yards to a new spot. This is truly one of the most unusual and beautiful places I have ever been. The only sad thing was our stupid drone just flat refused to fly. Now that we are back to civilizaton it has decided that everything is fine. The arial shots would have been epic.



    We spent some time scraping the bottom. It is interesting the different things that grow in different areas. Here we are not picking up barnacles at all, like not one. But we are growing little purple plants that look just like soft corals. They have a ring of hard crusty at the base. No idea what they are but they tried to make a forest on the hull. We knocked them all off. Trying to keep a clean bottom for the bio-security-rigorous countries later in our itinerary.



    Last edited by J.Madison; 09-23-2022 at 05:21 AM.

  17. #402
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Still loving your travelogue Jon, more and more as you move through the Pacific. Where are you planning on hiding for the cyclone season?
    You're getting ever closer to Australia mate, I hope we get to catch up some day.
    cheers
    Greg
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    “It’s pointless”, said reason.
    “Give it a try”, whispered the heart.

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  18. #403
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Great shots and narrative, thanks for sharing.

  19. #404
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Been following your track and this update was the perfect companion to this morning's coffee. Thanks very much for taking the time to post it.

    Sorry to hear about your unidentified illness. Hope there is no lingering effects.
    Alex

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  20. #405
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    It's been such a pleasure to follow along with the journey. I'm sorry to hear about the SD card. I had a card get corrupted with nearly 2000 pictures from the galapagos. I was able to recover most of them later (didn't have a computer until I got home) using a program called Disk Drill, it's available for mac and windows. I think there are other programs that would do the trick as well. Just don't format the card or the recovery will be much harder. If it's a physical failure that's another story.

  21. #406
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    It's interesting to hear about the longstanding traditions on these islands. Seems like a good way to protect their way of life yet give you an opportunity to experience it as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  22. #407
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Love this thread--thanks so much for posting.

    As for this:

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Madison View Post
    We swam, which even in the morning was extremely refreshing. It is seriously hot in fiji! A fresh water dip is a luxury to a sailor.

    You've just been sailing in the wrong places--plenty of fresh water on the Great Lakes.

    (Actually, judging by this thread, I have been sailing the wrong places, not you!)

    Tom
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  23. #408
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    Brings some great memories from our trips there, we got trapped in Savusavu about 4 days longer than we wanted and did the same thing, hired the car and drove to Lambassa and then back and up the coast road towards Viani bay. Sailing up to Viani the second trip we were braver and cut inside the reefs, there's a crazy narrow s bend pass in there that was exciting.
    Although we'd come in from Tonga direct to the Lau I really felt we'd arrived in paradise when we made the Bay of Islands, Vanua Balavu. It became a place to judge others by for us.

  24. #409
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    Default Re: Cruise of the Ketch Julia

    What a thread! Thanks as always for sharing. I'm having a great time following along the map and trying to work out some kind of multi-year vacation scenario to sail out there myself! Even if it never gets past a daydream, it's been a lot of fun.

    - James

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