Ship's Log               s/v Uliad 


July 2:


     After our unsuccessful fishing trip, we pulled into a place our guidebook called "the blue lagoon."  This idyllic little patch of water is surrounded on three sides by islands, beaches, and coral reefs.  (Sadly, Brooke Shields was nowhere to be seen)  The other thing the Blue Lagoon has is Germans.  First we found our German friends on Animos floating there.  Emmett was thrilled to have his buddies Vincent and Joshua to play with.  Then there was the Blue Lagoon resort on shore--owned by a German guy.  And on the opposite shore were several more German homesteaders whom we were soon to meet.

     Elke and Werner are a German couple in their 70s living there.  Elke responded to Werner's ad in a sailing magazine many years ago looking for a lady to sail with.  They went on to cruise in their sailboat for 20 years before finally selling it to settle here full time.  All land in Tonga is owned by the king and "granted" to native families.  Tongans can in turn lease that land to foreigners for a limited period of time.  Elke and Werner so fell in love with the blue lagoon that 15 years ago they signed a 20 year lease of an 8 acre plot of beachfront and jungle.  At first they camped in the forest as an occasional break from boat life.  Over time Werner cleared back the brush and built a thatch hut.  Gardens and groves of fruit trees were planted.  When they sold their sailboat, they used some of that money to build a more modern, concrete walled home next to the old thatch hut.

     Werner proudly gave us a tour of his gardens, showing big healthy trees producing bountiful crops of citrus, avocado, mangos, bananas, pineapple, and of course coconut.  There were herbs and taro and newly planted tomatoes, carrots, and whatnot in a patch of rich dirt.  Steep cliffs bordered the back of his land, giving privacy and protection from cyclones.  We looked around in awe and had to imagine that this must be what Eden was like.  It must have taken some vision 15 years ago for them to see what this place could become, but they now have their perfect retirement home.  And with all the daily exercise he's gotten, Werner looks to be in very good health to enjoy it...enough that they're hoping to extend their lease another 20 years soon!

Kathleen chats with Werner at the Blue LagoonEmmett's German friends at the Blue Lagoon

     Animos and we graciously accepted their invitation to stay for dinner, which we enjoyed at a large table overlooking the gardens.  A couple of years ago, another German and his British wife moved onto some land next door with their three sons.  So Emmett had a blast chasing around with 5 kids all night long. 

     What to do after sailing is a topic that comes up often among cruisers.  There seems to be two standard answers:  There are cruisers who always planned to do this for 1, 2 or 3 years and then go back to pretty much the same life they left.  Then the second group consists of those who nervously admit that they don't really have an answer.  They can't imagine themselves fitting into the daily grind of a job and a mortgage and all that, so they just keep on sailing as long as possible.  It occurred to me that evening that Elke and Werner were one of the few couples we've met who've found a third answer--a plan to transition from the sailing life to something equally beautiful and self-sufficient and adventurous, but a bit more settled as they age.  Wonderful.


July 5:

     We've finally gotten far enough away from our homeland that American boats are in the minority here.  There's something about that minority representation that seems to make celebrating the Fourth of July all that more important this year.  So Independence, Gallivanter, and Uliad began planning a couple weeks ago for the festivities.  We gathered on the island of Euiki with plans to roast a pig Tongan style, and have a big family picnic.  (We didn't get very far with finding fireworks around here.)  Fellow Americans Mike and Lori and Christy came out from Niafu for the day, as did a group of Tongan friends.  Rounding things out was the Kiwi owners and crew of the 90 foot motor yacht Barbarina, who arrived on shore flying a huge US flag with their two granddaughters dressed as statues of liberty.  They put us to shame!

     The fire was started first thing in the morning so that when the pigs arrived at noon, we had a good hot bed of coals ready to go.  The afternoon was spent taking turns spinning the pigs on big sticks until finally by around 5pm, we were ready to eat.  In true Tongan style, we had not only spit-roasted pig, but also an enormous buffet of other dishes covering the table for everyone to enjoy. 

Roasting pigs Tongan style on the 4th of July

     After dinner, we found the owners of the motor yacht to be fellow wine lovers and while Otis, Mike, and Curt were diving into the kava bowl, Kathleen and I were exploring the world of New Zealand Pinot Noirs with Haden and Linley, the owners of the motor yacht.  To each his own!  As for me, I look forward to continuing my research when we get to New Zealand in November!

    The party continued long into the night--to the point that several unnamed kava drinkers found that their legs no longer seemed to function as they were supposed to!  We finally got back to Uliad around 1am...still a few hours before any normal person on the mainland USA would be waking up to start their 4th of July festivities.  So I am officially going down on record that in 2010, the crew of Uliad and her friends in Tonga were the first people in the world to celebrate the 4th of July! 


July 8:

     If in reading this blog it seems to you like we've been just flitting from one party to the next here in Tonga, That's what it has felt like to us lately, too!  So we decided to take a little vacation from our busy social lives and get out of town for a few days.  There's a group of islands about a day's sail south of the Vava'u group called the Ha'apai group.  We'd heard it is a place full of quiet sandy beaches, pristine reefs, and solitude.  Few boats go there.  "Perfect," we thought.

     So after one last run through town to get a few groceries and supplies, we sailed off on Tuesday afternoon for an overnight sail to the Ha'apais.  We also brought with us Karen, the British wife of one of those German settlers back at the Blue Lagoon.  She was looking for a ride to the main island of the Ha'apai group to visit a friend and take a week's vacation from being a mother to three boisterous half-German boys.  Karen lives next to the sea, but she's not a sailor.  After an initial hour or two of delightful conversation, I was soon explaining her options for sea sick medication.  She opted for the most sedating of the bunch and was soon fast asleep in the cockpit for the duration of the night. 

      We motored at half-speed for much of the night as the wind and seas were flat calm.  Then by 3am or so, Kathleen finally saw enough wind to set sails and shut off the noisy diesel.  We wanted to arrive at these remote islands shortly after dawn.  There are lots of unmarked reefs here and we'd need good light to safely maneuver Uliad.  For once I didn't mind that we were puttering along at 3 knots. 

     Shortly after sunrise we caught a nice yellowtail jack on my cedar plug lure.  The cedar plug is one of my most successful fishing lures, but it's hook had rusted and it needs a special long-shank narrow eye hook that I hadn't been able to find until this week at the fishing store in Vava'u.  Sure enough, first time I got it back in the water and we're catching fish again!  Yellowtail is my all time favorite sushi fish, so as soon as we had threaded our way through the reef, dropped anchor, and taken Karen to shore I was putting a pot of rice on the stove to cook for my lunchtime "welcome to the Ha'apai islands" feast.  We may be getting away from the partying, but we can't seem to stop the feasting.


July 9:

     We arrived on the island of Foa, but we needed to get another 5 miles south to Lifuka to clear in with the authorities.  Travelling from one island group to another in Tonga.  It's practically like going to a whole new country.  Leaving Vava'u required visits to three different offices (immigration, customs, and port captain); and now we needed to check in with the customs office in Lifuka.  The problem was, after anchoring behind the reef in Foa, we awoke the next morning to find the weather had turned overcast and rainy all day.  And without good sunlight to see the coral reefs, we didn't think it prudent to go anywhere.  The charts for this area are not particularly accurate, as evidenced by the fact that our GPS chartplotter shows Uliad to be anchored on dry land in the middle of the island. There are reefs and shoals all over the place.  So the only moving we'll do here will be in good light and the authorities will just have to understand that.

     So we had a lazy quiet day of reading books and playing games.  Rainy days don't happen often and they seem almost like a refreshing treat when they do.

     Finally, on the third day after our arrival, the sky seemed to get light enough that we were seeing the coral heads fairly well and we decided to go for it.  With Kathleen on the bow as lookout, we puttered as slowly as possible through the pass and turned for Lifuka.  The clouds thickened again so we kept a nervous watch for shoals the whole way.  Lifuka harbor has navigational aids.  With them, its usually a simple matter of keeping the red markers on one side and the green markers on another.  Except any paint on the steel posts sunk into coral reefs had long since rusted away.  The first marker that we came to on our chart was supposed to be red, but as we approached it, seeing obvious breaking reef across our path, it became clear that the red marker itself had rusted away and we were now looking at the green marker on the other side of the channel.  Thus oriented, the rest of our trip into Lifuka was uneventful.

    It's funny how you can't buy safety at sea with the latest charts, fancy GPS chartplotters, or whatever other fancy gadgets they come up with.  In the end, it all boils down to eternal vigilance.

    The town in Lifuka is much smaller than bustling Niafu.  A short wander down its deserted streets led me to the combination Post Office/Customs House where, as I predicted, the customs officer took no concern in how long it took us to show up.  He collected our clearance paper, wished us a happy time in the Ha'apai, and reminded me to pay him a visit when we were ready to leave again.

     On my way back, I followed the sound of some angelic singing and found the cause of the quiet streets.  A funeral was going on at the edge of town.  Everyone was dressed in traditional Tongan ta'ovalas, which are these woven mats which they wrap around themselves like bulky skirts.  In a little place like this, I'm sure everyone knows everyone, so the whole town had practically shut down for the funeral.  But after all we had gone through to get ourselves to Customs, I was sure glad they had stayed open today. 


July 12:


     The clouds persisted, but we felt confident enough of our route the following day.  We would head south out of the harbor, around the end of a large reef, and on to the island of Uonukuhahake.  The name is practically bigger than the island itself.  It looked to be an uninhabited sliver of sand and trees facing the open ocean on one side--offering the combination of solitude, beachcombing, and snorkeling that we were looking for.

     We had a great sail the whole way down, pegging 9 knots at times on the meter.  As we approached shallow water, I had pulled in one fishing line and was just reaching for the second when something took the lure and started running with it.  I grabbed the pole and set the hook while shouting instructions to Kathleen and Emmett to slow us down.  After a few minutes of fighting, I gave Emmett the pole to continue the battle while Kathleen was pulling in the dinghy to keep it out of the way of the line. Soon we had a beautiful Wahoo along side the boat. 

     I gaffed it and just as I was bringing the beast up over the lifelines, our jib back winded, pushing us around and heeling in the opposite direction.  Amidst the chaos, the fish swung around into the cockpit and started flopping about, getting blood, scales and slime all over the place.  I froze for a moment, wondering to I address the boat first or the fish first?  I was about to choose boat, but then I looked down and saw the tail of the fish sliding down through a port hole into our bedroom.  Now fish slime all over the cockpit was one thing, but fish slime in our bed?  I chose to deal with the fish first. 

    With a heave of the gaff pole, I got the wahoo flat on the floor of the cockpit and sent Emmett below for the ice pick.  But in all the madness, it took me a few seconds to remember the word for "ice pick".  So at the same time I'm yelling, "Get the....get the..."  while  Emmett is saying "Get what dad?  A knife?"  And Kathleen is yelling,  "Why don't you do something!  You should have let him go if you don't know how to fish!"  And the fish is flopping about equally unhappy about the whole situation.

    Finally, I remembered the word and Emmett is back in a flash.  I poked the ice pick into the top of the wahoo's head in the region where I presume a brain would be found and wiggle it a bit.  The flopping immediately stops, and a deafening silence blows across Uliad...  I survey the damage.  A huge fish is slowly bleeding onto the floor.  A mix of slime, scales, and blood is smeared over the cockpit cushions, the seats, the binoculars, and down into the teak grate on the floor.  The smell is not good.

The aftermath of landing the wahoo...

    So I furled up the sails with my tail between my legs and we motored into the anchorage off Uonukuhahake, trying our best to ignore the carnage at our feet.  We set our anchor and I began the long job of cleaning up the mess, then cleaning the fish, then cleaning up THAT mess.  Kathleen went below without a word, but we've been married long enough that I know exactly what the unspoken thought on her mind was:  "I'm not coming out until you have every f--ing drop of blood and every f--ing fish scale cleaned out of every f--ing nook and cranny of this boat!!"

    At least that was her plan until she discovered the small pile of fish slime and scales beneath that port hole on her bed. 


July 14:

     The island of Uonukuhahake is a long sliver of sand with a thin ridge of bushes and palm trees down its center.  It lies surrounded by crystal blue waters dotted with coral heads.  The waves wash over its tips on either end, depositing thick layers of seashells and assorted flotsam on the sand flats.  Beachcombing here is rewarded with all sorts of rare seashells and other interesting things.

     The protecting reef offshore is reported to be a great spot to find lobsters.  But lobster hunting in the South Pacific is a much different game than in the Caribbean.  Back in the Bahamas, we'd pick a nice sunny day and snorkel around in 20 feet of water looking for antennae peeking out of little holes in the rocks. 

     Here the lobsters descend to dark, unobtainable places during the day and only show themselves at night.  They wander up onto the shallow reefs looking for food and are gone by morning.  So to catch them, you have to either dive or walk the reef at night.  Both are harder than it first sounds.  Walking on a jagged coral reef demands vigilance even in daytime so as not to slip or step in a hole.  One trip would leave you full of painful cuts, scratches, and urchin spines.  In the dark, by the light of a flashlight...yikes.  Snorkeling the outer reefs is impossible in all but the calmest conditions.  Even small, gentle rollers coming in from the ocean create a surge on the reef that can toss you against those same jagged coral rocks.  So lobstering here is a matter of finding the right spot, and the rare but right conditions, at a low tide, and at night. 

     But ooohh we do love a lobster dinner.  So Emmett and I set our alarm clocks and motored to shore around midnight when the tide was low.  We thought we had finally found that right combination of circumstances to fetch ourselves some lobsters here.  When we got to shore and looked out across the lagoon, though, our hopes were quickly dashed.  First there was a maze of coral heads to wander through, then the reef still stood awash under a foot of water.  And despite a lack of wind waves, there was still an ocean swell crashing against the reef and rolling waves of foam across the shallows.  One look at the precarious conditions through the meager light of our flashlights and one thought popped into my mind:  "I think I'd rather just pay 40 pa'anga for a lobster dinner in a nice restaurant when we get back to town!


July 15:

    The wind returned from the west, giving us no protection at our anchorage.  We moved north to another uninhabited island called Tatafa.  By now we had all caught "shell fever" so we spent more time wandering the beaches looking for interesting seashells.  We eventually brought back bags full, which Kathleen and Emmett laid out carefully on the side decks and picked through which ones were truly worth keeping. 

    Our most interesting beach find was not a shell but a bone--a whale bone.  One could easily walk past the big white skull base lying on the beach and mistake it for a rock or a weathered tree root.  But then we noticed the symmetry and figured out what it was.  Humpback whales are just starting to filter into Tongan waters now after their long migration from their summer feeding grounds in Antarctica.  They come here to breed and give birth.  Quite an industry has sprung up here in Tonga providing whale watching tours for tourists.  In the markets there are trinkets carved from whalebone and whale tooth.  Since Tonga (like the rest of the civilized world) no longer hunts whales, the market ladies tell us that whale bone is hard to find now.  Most of those trinkets come from bones found on beaches or gathered from places where whales were slaughtered a century ago.  I found it peculiar that such a large bone had not been taken away and carved up yet, but given the remoteness of this place, I guess it's possible that it hadn't been found yet.  Or maybe it lay buried in the sand until this year's hurricane revealed it.  I looked at the orientation of the bone and decided there might be more bones in the nearby waters.  We came back with snorkeling gear and found one small fragment of a vertebrae under 2 feet of water.  Maybe there's more down there in the sand, waiting for you to find some day.

Whale bone on the beach in Tatafa, Tonga


July 20:

     We hung out in the Ha'apai group for nearly two weeks before sailing back up to Vava'u on Sunday.  We spent our last two nights in a little cove where we could watch the giant fruit bats fly around above us and the fish swim around beneath us.  Nice view.  After some effort, I finally got a good photo of one with my little digital camera:

The Tongan "flying fox", a giant fruit bat.

    On the trip back we stayed on lookout for whales since they're all supposed to be arriving here now.  I did see one tail fluke about a hundred yards off the port bow, but since waving tail flukes means the whale is diving down, that was it for our whale sightings.  The fishing continued to be good.  Twice we had our lines broken by fish that must have been enormous.  After peeling off most of a reel full of 100 pound test monofilament, I was at first pretty disappointed to see the line go limp, but the more I thought about it, it was probably for the best not to try to land a fish that big on Uliad.  A few weeks ago Emmett and I watched a sport fishing boat come into the harbor with a marlin that must have been 9 feet long and 500+ pounds.  That's an awful lot of fish scales to clean up. 


July 21:


     You may have noticed a distinct lack of "fix it" stories in the blog over the past few weeks.  It would seem that we have finally (knock on wood) exorcised Uliad's demons.  Not to worry that I've run out of things to do, though.  With no mechanical issues needing to be addressed, we just move on to cosmetic issues.  There's always something needing another coat of varnish or some stainless that could use a polish.  Some of those rainier days in the Ha'apai gave me a chance to catch up on a few of those issues, and there's nothing like shining up a few areas onboard to swell one's pride in one's boat.  Today I even pulled out a book to figure out how to tie a decorative "Turk's head" knot for the helm.  When motoring slowly, it's not always obvious when the rudder is in middle position, so the knot makes it immediately clear which way the wheel is turned.

fancy rope work on Uliad

     One other nagging issue that I've finally addressed is the broken collets on one of our cockpit winches.  The collets are little funny shaped pieces of bronze that screw into place to keep the self tailer still while the drum turns.  I broke them last year when I didn't see a foul wrap in time and the powerful hydraulic winch started to chew itself up. 

     So my original plan was to order new ones from the manufacturer when we were back in the US.  Unfortunately I learned that our 15 year old winch model was several generations out of date and Lewmar no longer provides parts or service.  "Buy a new winch," they suggested.  ($900)  With some whining on my part, they pointed me to Fawcett Boat Supplies who might still stock some old parts.  They quoted me $70 for the collets, which still seemed like a lot for two little pieces of bronze, but given the alternative I placed an order and was immediately told they were backordered.  I even searched EBay thinking that maybe I could buy an old used or broken winch of this model just to harvest the collets.  5 months later and only a few weeks before flying back, the collet arrived.  Note the use of the singular.  That was $70 for EACH collet, Dr. Erickson.

     I've been making do, trying to be extra careful when using that winch all season and living without the self-tailer.  But one of the great pleasures of having breakdowns in third-world backwaters is that there are usually talented mechanics and welders and craftsmen who are accustomed to figuring out ways to get on with things when one can't just order up a new part.  So I brought my little broken collet and another good one from another winch to Ashley, the local welder to see if he could either repair it or fabricate a new one.  Several weeks went by and finally yesterday evening he called me up and asked where I was.  "At the Marina Wine Bar, of course", I told him.  Five minutes later he drove up with my original collet and two more exactly like it.  Total cost, about $5.  So the next time somebody asks me how our family can afford to live on a yacht and not have a steady job, I'll have to tell them its because I can fix for $5 in Tonga what it would cost me $900 to replace in the USA.


July 26:

     Being a newly certified scuba diver, Emmett has been hot to get out diving with Mom & Dad.  We rented him some gear in town and went over to a bay called Port Maurelle for a few days where we were in easy dinghy range of a number of dive sites.  Kathleen and I were proud (and relieved) to see that he seems to know his stuff.  We did three dives in three days, culminating in a dive of Mariner's cave that we had previously snorkeled into.   The entrance into Mariners cave is 3 or 4 feet underwater, but there's a second entrance down in 40 feet of water that we went through this time. 

     On our way to the cave, we ran into another boat with Sandy and Kathy, who own a popular restaurant in town.  Then later, we saw Sandy waving his arms frantically on the bow of his shiny new panga.  We motored over to learn that his brand new outboard had up and died on him out here miles from anywhere.  The shoreline here is a long rocky cliff, so it's no place to be bobbing around without a motor, so we ended up towing his big boat for three miles to a resort where he could get help.  It took us a good hour or so, then we still had to go back the other direction to get back to Port Maurelle.  But in the end, Sandy topped off our gas tank and promised free meals for Emmett and I at their restaurant, so that was nice... a good lesson for Emmett in doing the right thing.

     Independence came to join us at Port Maurelle and we had a nice beach bonfire with the kids under a full moon to top it all off.  I've been thinking a lot to myself lately about what a perfect age 10 years old is for a father and son.  Emmett is getting old enough that we can truly do fun things together.  Not things like going to Disneyworld or a cartoon movie where you take what pleasure you can out of seeing that your child is having a good time--but things like scuba diving or fishing or bonfires that are just as much fun for both of us.   I think about these things and recognize that soon enough will inevitably come some new adolescent phase in his development and our relationship where I, for a time, become instead a source of annoyance and/or embarrassment to him.  Hopefully days like today will leave enough of a lasting memory to help both of us through that phase!


July 28:

     After leaving Port Maurelle, we finally saw a group of whales splashing about in the distance.  We have been lingering here in Tonga longer than we usually would for several reasons.  First is the friends we have here of course.  Second is the chance to see the humpback whales that migrate to these waters starting in late July.  Third is that an old friend from medical school, Curt had contacted me a month ago to tell us that he and his family were coming here on vacation on July 28 and would we be around to meet up?

     So after pulling into town yesterday, we got a call on the radio this morning:  "Uliad, Uliad, this is long lost Minnesota sailor calling".  We made plans to meet for lunch and I met Curt's wife Kim and their kids who are conveniently close to Emmett's age.  They apparently brought terrible winter weather with them from New Zealand as it was windy and rainy all day.  So we gave them the tour of Uliad and we sat in our cozy cabin over cappuccinos all afternoon catching up on what we've been up to over the past 15 years.   Curt's family is also excited about seeing whales and they've got reservations on a whale watch boat tomorrow.   Good thing because the weather forecast is for better weather tomorrow, then more wind and rain for the rest of their time here.  Kath & I will have to put our heads together and see how we can entertain them regardless of the weather.  Step 1 will be for the whales to show up for them tomorrow!


July 31:

    The Meske family managed to take a whale watch excursion between rain showers and even got to swim with the whales.  As I've mentioned before, Tonga is the winter getaway place for hundreds of humpback whales.  And while there are plenty of places one can see whales in the wild, Tonga is one of the few places where you can actually swim with them.  So there's quite an industry here set up to take advantage of the few months of the year that they're here.   After getting to know a few of the whale-swim boat captains, we decided to sign ourselves up for a trip next week, so stay tuned! 

    Yesterday we took Curt, his wife Kim, and their two kids out for a sail to a nearby cove called Port Maurelle.  We did some snorkeling and kayaking and took them to the cave that Emmett and I had previously explored.  Independence pulled into the harbor later and soon everyone was onboard enjoying moonlight cocktails.  Otis had been fishing earlier in the day and brought over a huge platter of fresh yellowfin tuna sashimi, too.  The party continued long into the night and we finally decided to pull out the extra bed linens and make it a sleepover on Uliad for the Meskes.

    This morning we motored around to another spot called Mala Island where there was more good snorkeling.  We turned the kids loose on the reef there for more exploring and made reservations at the resort on shore for lunch.  So it was shaping up to be another lovely day in paradise, and we were commenting on how nice it was to get some sunshine finally after a week of rain.  After lunch we were walking about on the sandy beach when I noticed that the sky to the south looked cloudy again.  Not just cloudy but stormy.  I mean it was black.  And the wind was definitely picking up.

Emmett, Joel, and McKeeley swimmingThe Meskes on Mala Island--an hour before the storm hit

     As the self appointed safety officer, I wanted to start moving everyone back to the boat.  On the snorkel in I had noticed that our anchor was hooked on a big piece of coral rather than being buried in the sand--fine for typical 15 knot winds, but not a reliable set for high winds.  Now Kathleen usually gets annoyed with me if I start telling her that she has to quit what she's doing immediately and tend to boat I didn't want to panic the guests, so I'm trying to be all casual at hinting that now's the time to start back to Uliad so we don't get wet.

    By the time all 7 people were rounded up to the dinghy, there are whitecaps everywhere and the wind is blowing over 30 knots.  It occurred to me as we motored back to Uliad that the code zero sail is still up, which really shouldn't be up in anything over 25 knots or it starts to unfurl itself and all hell breaks loose.  The anchor chain was pulled up taut as Uliad was getting buffeted about and I looked up to see a tiny flap of the code zero loose in the breeze.

    At last we made it to the stern of Uliad and everyone is gathering up their things and sorting out who will get out first when in happened--all hell broke loose.  The wind continued to increase to 40 knots.  The top half of the code zero opened up with a great fanfare of booming and snapping sailcloth.  The boat heeled over 20 degrees from the additional force of the wind.  I yelled "Excuse me!", or something like it and climbed over everyone in the dinghy and sprinted up to the mast.  I quickly took the halyard off it's hook and released the clutch.  The rope shot up as the big sail flew backwards and just when I started a sigh of relief, a knot of rope jammed against the clutch with the sail still half up.  The billowing and snapping and tipping resumed and one or two quick yanks on the rope convinced me that it was jammed so tight by the force of the wind that there was no way I was going to shake it loose.  I ran back to the cockpit to grab my knife, ran back to the mast and cut the halyard.  The end shot upward, the rest of the sail hit the water on the starboard side, and relative calm resumed.  Better to lose a $300 rope than a $3000 sail I consoled myself while hauling in the code zero.

     After Kathleen and I finished pulling in the sail, I assigned Curt the task of sitting on the bunched up code zero so it wouldn't blow away.  A steady 40 knots is making our wind generator sound like a jet engine so I hurried back there to shut that down.  And it was right about then that the anchor broke loose and we started dragging downwind!  So once again I found myself running down the deck to turn on the engine and the anchor windlass wondering what the Meske's must be thinking of their panicky captain tending to one fiasco after another.  Kathleen took the helm and we raised the anchor and stowed the code zero as the rain from this sudden squall started pounding me on the head.  I grabbed my raincoat and started slowly motoring back to town through the storm while Kathleen went below to offer hot showers and dry towels to everyone.  I think Curt felt bad for me as he kept me company in the companionway for most of the trip back.

    By the time we got back to town, the wind had died down to 25 knots or so and the rain let up so we could get the Meske family back to shore without additional trauma.  We soon learned that three boats had broken loose from their anchors or moorings in the harbor, creating plenty of drama there as well!   With Uliad well secured on a heavy mooring and our guest unloaded, I poured myself a tall rum & coke and gave thanks for a sharp knife, a good crew, and another storm safely weathered on Uliad.




     created by Steve Erickson 2007-2012
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