Alaska to Australia

This page is the log of Dick and Peggy who sailed Katmai from Seward, Alaska to Fremantle, Australia during the months of July 2007 to January 2008.  Their arrival on 25 January in Fremantle, Australia was the end of an exciting journey.

January 19th, 2008 Albany, Western Australia

After six wind filled days, Dick and Peggy have safely arrived with Katmai at Albany, Western Australia for a few days rest and to wait for winds to subside before the final 420 nautical mile leg (3 days) to Fremantle.  Fremantle will mark the end of a 7 month semi-navigation of the globe on this journey from Alaska.

The passage across the "Bight" (pronounced "bite") during the southern summer (now) is often dominated by moderate winds and sailing during the day and low winds / motoring at night.   Summer has been slow to arrive in the Southern Ocean, and last week when Dick and Peggy made their crossing was one of the most stable weather windows this season!  Prior to that time, the region was been dominated by more winter-like weather with significant lows sweeping across southern Australia every few days.  Eric successfully picked a moderate weather window for the long passage from Port Lincoln, using the  model weather data from

Despite carrying jerry cans of diesel in addition to the 115 gallons on board ...just in case the weather was too calm and tankage proved to be too little fuel to motor across....... Dick and Peggy only motored for a total of 6 hours in the more than 144 hour passage.  They also made a trip record of more than 200 nautical miles (230 standard miles) in one 24 hr period on January 15th.  With strong east to southeast winds of 15 -35 knots, and a short period southwest swell of 10 to 15 feet it was a down-wind run with swells on the port bow quarter.  Definitely uncomfortable at times, but the Monitor wind vane steered through it all.

Only problem was the lost of the signal from the wind instrument at the mast head....which really does not prevent sailing safely.

Strong winds are dominating the south west coast of Australia right now, especially the Cape Leeuwin area, but are expected to abate about Tuesday.  When they do, Katmai and crew will depart for the last 400 nautical miles to Fremantle, the port city of Perth and the final destination for this trip.

Before returning via air to the USA, Dick and Peggy plan on spending several weeks exploring western australia....via automobile !

January 14th, 2008 Port Lincoln, South Australia
After a week in Port Lincoln waiting on a weather window, Dick and Peggy are eager to cross the last long leg of their 7 month journey (odyssey ?) from Alaska to  Western Australia.  Ahead lies the Great Australian Bight, 1000 miles of remote waters of the Southern Ocean with no place to seek shelter and a dramatic lee shore.  Low pressure systems march from west to east across the Southern Ocean circling Antarctica all year long like a predictable dance.  A very strong summer storm passed south of them while they were in port creating dangerous sea state with waves reaching to 50 feet.  This past week was a smart time to stay in port and enjoy the wonderful local hospitality of Port Lincoln.  The weather has improved dramatically and the outlook is fine until they reach their next port, Albany.  They departed Port Lincoln this morning for Albany, the last stop before rounding one of the three great Capes of the World, Cape Leeuwin, and heading north for the final 500 mile leg to Fremantle, Australia. 
Cape LeeuwinCape Leeuwin
While in port Dick and Peggy hired a diver to clean Katmai's bottom and replace zincs.  They also were greeted by Malcolm, harbor master, who waited for them on the docks on a Sunday morning to catch their lines!  Their first floating docks since leaving Seward.  Peggy was relieved for once not to having to tend the mooring lines all night as the tide ebbes and floods!  The people of Port Lincoln have been particularly friendly and helpful. Malcolm arranged for a diver and a rental car and then invited Dick and Peggy for dinner. A captain from the local tuna fleet came by in his 55 foot motor yacht to invite them for lunch. Peggy says, Port Lincoln is similar to Arizona in climate and scenery, even the houses are similar, except Port Lincoln is on the sea.
January 5th, 2008 Kangaroo Island, Australia
South East winds to 40 knots and SouthWest seas to 25 feet made for a very rough ride of 470 miles from Portland to Kangaroo Island just south of Adelaide. The breaking beam seas forced the need to hand steer by Dick and Peggy. Dick: "It wasn't fun, but at least the wind was from behind and not on the nose". The Southern Ocean swell was forecast to have a period of 12 seconds. Not so, the period was less than ten seconds. Not a ride in the park with 40 knots blowing at right angles to the swells. Dick and Peggy arrived well, but tired, in the lee of Kangaroo Island which is just south of Adelaide for a needed break. This afternoon they departed for the 110 mile run to Port Lincoln. In Port Lincoln they will re-provision, do some maintenance and wait for a good weather window to head across the Great Australian Bight - an 1100 mile run through the Southern Ocean to Albany. This is a major ocean crossing that can not be taken seriously enough, but then Dick and Peggy did just traverse the full (north to south) length of the Pacific Ocean! An incredible feat.
January 1st, 2008 Portland, Australia
Katmai and Crew had a relatively smooth sail through Bass Straits. They left Eden on the tail of the 72 racing yachts that were making their way south along the coast to Hobart. They spent one night in Refuge Cove along the south Australia coastline in the middle of Bass Straits. This is the southern most point of the trip.  Dick mentioned that he's never seen so many Sea Lions and black flies. I imagine the sea lions were the more interesting. They also saw a Great White Shark. They reached Portland, Australia, just to the west of Bass Straits just in time to bring in the New Year. Portland is a old but nice Australian town, with a old marina, too shallow to allow Katmai moor to the pier, so they had to transport 60 gal of diesel by jerry can from the local BP station. Not a small chore. Tomorrow, the 2nd, they will depart for Port Lincoln. The weather should be fine but quite windy for this 470 mile passage.
December 28th, 2007 Bass Strait
Katmai departed Eden, Australia this morning for the Bass Straits and on the tail of the notorious Sydney to Hobart Race. There is much weather uncertainty at this notorious junction of the Southern Ocean and the Tasman Sea. The Bass Straits ocean floor rises abruptly from the depth of the great oceans confining the tidal flows of the two great oceans to a narrow pass of 90 miles producing currents up to 2.5 knots and a severe funneling effect to the previously undisturbed Southern Ocean weather systems. Currently the crew of Katmai is sailing with a pleasant northeasterly behind them, by tomorrow the wind will back to the south west as a cold front passes over them bringing head winds. By Sunday the easterly should return until the next cold front arrives two days later. We are watching the weather carefully and have made every attempt to time the departure from Eden to provide the safest passage of Bass Strait.
December 17th, Ulladulla
Ulladulla was going to be a short stop to Eden, until the depth instruments failed. Laurie  flew from Perth to Ulladulla with a precious new depth transducer and other electrical parts. That fixed and while checking systems they found that the starboard steering sheave had quit turning. The steering cable was sliding around the seized sheave - very BAD news. From Perth Eric scrambled to find a replacement sheave, calling all over the world only to learn that a new sheave will not be available from France until the end of January. So Master MacGyver, Dick  went to work. With much bodily contortion cramped in a tiny aft locker, head and one shoulder wedged between a bulkhead and the steering quadrant and an incredible perseverance he managed to free the bad-boy sheave, lube it up and watch it happily return to its duty of  guiding the steering cable to the quadrant. Once more my hat off to Dick - MASTER MacGyver!
December 1, 2007 Coffs Harbor, Australia.
"Hi Everyone,
We are in a small place called Coffs Harbor New South Wales, Australia.  The one thing about this town is that each ad every yard and home is neat and tidy.  Lawns are groomed and beautifully landscaped.  Easy to do here with the tropical plants and lush grasses.  The birds are lovely.  Bright colors and interesting shapes.  Coffs Harbor has an atmosphere that seems to be relaxing and calming.  We took a road trip inland from here and I will try to get that all together for you in the next few days.  Hope all is well."
Peg and Dick
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 Arrived Bundaberg Australia.    
"Hi Everyone, Well we are all checked in to Australia and passed with flying colors and parked in our slip. And it is a REAL marina. How beautiful! Nice green grass and floating docks! I had my first glass of  milk since leaving home. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!! Things are looking up. Anyway we are here and just wanted to let you know. Passage from Chesterfield was pretty uneventful...motored some the last day."  Peg

Monday 28 October 2007 Moving Again, Bundaberg Bound
We are on our way to Bundaberg.  Should be there Wed Oct 31st.  Left about 1pm and I grumbled all the way out.  We passed a reef that I know would have been equal to or better than the one that we found there.  I felt like I was flying when swam off the edge.  I could not see the bottom...only schools of fish swimming everywhere.  I just started shrieking through my snorkel was so cool.
Our position is 19.58.20S 158.18.02E Course of two thirty three on the key board won't work.  Wind speed is 11 to 14 SE.  Bar reading is 1015 and hoping it lasts for a while.  Anyway I highly recommend this place.  I hear the one above New Cal is great too. "Peg
Sunday, 27 October 2007 Chesterfield Reef
Wish we had more time here, but must move on.  We will spend the day getting the big boy back out and getting ready for light winds. Last night the winds were more than any predictions. Will listen to the rag to see what is going on out there for real. The water is clear, snorkeling is pretty good. Different coral than in Fiji.  You anchor behind these little strips of sand and rock with a few bushes on them.  In any other direction you see nothing but water.  If it wasn't for the strips of beach you would think you just dropped the hook in the middle of the ocean.It is a nesting ground for birds...Noddys Frigate birds and Boobies.
There is an odor that is blown over the tops of the nesting grounds, but isn't totally unpleasant.  The birds are presently laying eggs and so we try not to disturb them any more than possible.  Sea Turtles are starting their nesting habits.  We see tracks where they have come ashore at high tide and buried their eggs and then return to the sea. We went out last night, but didn't see any since it wasn't high tide. It takes great effort to drag those big bodies up that steep sand bank and dig those holes.  All in all it is a good place to stop and enjoy. I understand that there are many of these reefs in this part of the world and many cruisers seek them out.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 Between Vanuatu and Chesterfield Reef
We no sooner emailed you about the lack of wind when we got plenty.  We have had 15 to 20 from the south and seems to maybe backing a touch already.  Pure Chance is about 60 miles further and some north of us, but he has southeast at about 15.  We are presently flying the staysail and one reef in main.  Currently Katmai is doing about 7 to 7.5 knots and are hard on the wind.  We are hoping to make Chesterfield before things get too nuts.
We are about 25 miles out and there is absolutely no wind.  Our grib files confirmed what you said, but that is all we are able to get for weather.  No other weather available to us.  We have hauled out the big guns.  The head sail is down and the big boy is up and ready in case we do get some wind.  Soooooo Hope you don't mind being our weather man for the trip.  It looks like Dick will live ;)   He was doubtful for a    while there, but is feeling much better and recovering from the flu although our work is in spurts between bottles of water and rests in the shade.  We are on a course of about 245 and rolling with the sea.  Thank goodness for transderm scop!  Peg
October 23rd: Departed Luganville, Espiritu Santos, Vanuatu
POS 2400 local time is 16° 23'S, 165° 45'E; Speed 6 knots, Course 239°M
Katmai and crew departed from Luganville, Vanuatu this morning bound for Bundaberg, Australia.  They were holed-up for a few extra days in Vanuatu due to very  strong re-enforced Trade winds.  The winds have now gone light (feast or famine) and Katmai is making good about 6 knots. Peggy indicated that they have the "Big Guns" up out of the sail inventory with the hope of getting every possible bit boat speed in these light conditions.
October 9th: Luganville, Espiritu Santos, Vanuatu
Hi friends,
We are still in Vanuatu. Presently on an island called Epi. The anchorages here are pretty rolly so will most likely move on to Malakula after checking out the snorkeling here in the am. We have noticed a lot of star fish here called the Crown of Thorn. These star fish eat the coral and kill it.
There are some wonderful people here. I took one woman's picture (her name is Lucy) with her children and several of the men wanted their picture taken. After returning to the boat I printed the pictures out and gave them to them. They were delighted, but more fascinated with the play back on the camera. We traded some things for fruit and a piece of bamboo to make a boarding ladder with Lucy for some fish hooks, tea, and another transaction we traded fruit etc for two slices of fresh baked bread with peanut butter and a bottle of water to Max in his canoe. Later finding out that he visits many boats to get food for his trip home. I have no idea what to do with all these bananas, papaya and grapefruit, but it was sure fun to do the trading. Hopefully we can find someone who would like some bananas that haven't already bought their own large stalk. Fishing has been a bust so far, but we are not the only ones complaining about the lousy fishing.
On Malekula the minister of one of the villages came to us and ask if anyone knew how to fix a lawn mower. Dick being the fixit man that he is said he would give it a try. So off we went to the village. Back in behind the mangroves was a path that led to the village back in the jungle. As we walked through the jungle I was hoping that this guy was on the up and it turns out he was and we did indeed fix the lawn mower. Then he brought out the generator....can we fix that? And then the sewing machine appeared. As Dick did what he could to help the islanders I took pictures of the village and of the children. This was met with giggles and laughter. When it was all over we were unable to fix the sewing machine as it needs professional help and the generator is a temporary fix that will only last a while. For our efforts we got coconuts, snake beans, sweet potatoes, and something that is a root that is suppose to be sweet. Here in Vanuatu, not only the land is owned by the people, but the water and reefs as well. The villagers have gardens that may be on another island near by that they work in each day and gather food for the next few days. To carry this food home they weave baskets out of palm fronds near the garden. The snake beans are okay, but not to Dicks liking and we probably won't eat them often. The sweet potatoes were dryer than the American kind, but still very good and we will have those again. We have signed up for lunch and a native dance performance tomorrow and plan to do some snorkeling in the am. Then we have ordered a lobster for tomorrows dinner, but we will see if that comes to fruition. Sometimes these plans don't pan out. I know that winter is near back home, but it is hard to think about as the sun moves closer to us here.
We will just have to find a way to endure.

October 1st: Port Vila, Vanuatu

What can I say about Port Vila? If is party city. Cruise ships, jet skis, name it, you got it. It does have just about anything you might need in the way of food, clothing, electronics, hardware...with the exception of marine, and an small major airport.
Port Vila has two supermarkets and a very large veggie market. The best place to put a boat here is on the moorings between mainland and Iririki Island out front or at the sea wall in the same area, but the depth is about 8 ft at high tide in a couple areas including the fuel dock so Katmai was unable to enter that area and had to anchor out side with the bigger boats. The yacht club has very good food and has a dinghy dock that should really be twice the size with the amount of dinghies that tie up there. We left there after my sister Sandy left and sailed up to Port Havannah on the north west side of the island. We will stay here for a couple days and then head up to an island north of here for some snorkeling. We have noticed a temperature change here. It is slightly cooler. A light blanket or sheet is needed in the early morning hours.
We are taking our malaria medication each week, but haven't seen a mosquito since we arrived in Vanuatu.

September 24th: Tanna, Vanuatu
Hi Friends,
Our trip from Fiji to Vanuatu was slow. We had to motor about 75 percent of the time. Light winds to about 10 knts on a deep broad reach.
Sept 20
Port Resolution:
We arrived at Port Resolution in the late morning and proceeded into the village to see about checking into the country through Lenakel on the island of Tanna. This is the first time I have been in a real native village. This is the genuine thing. We are having difficulty arranging the drive over to Lenakel. The drivers seem to have disappeared. We also plan a trip to the volcano. We hope to be able to do all of this tomorrow.
Sept 21
Trip to Lenakel
We think we have found the place that we always imagined that cruising is like. The western world has not touched the village of Port Resolution. The village is primitive with pigs and chickens running everywhere, the houses are made of woven palm fronds, and the children roam freely with out supervision. They know how to swim, they know where they live and know how to get home. Most everyone carries a sling shot to kill the birds that destroy the eggs of the more desired birds and the spears that they fish with are home made as well as the bows and arrows. Their boats are mostly hollowed out logs with outriggers made with logs and twine. The people here are very poor in a financial sense, but are very rich in their life style. A very happy people who don't seem to envy any of us who sit out here on our fine boats.
The customs, immigration and quarantine are in Lenakel on the other side of the island and to get there you take a truck to the other side. You ride in the back of the truck sitting on board seats and hanging onto the Jungle-Jim like structure over the bed of the truck and I recommend that you hold on tightly as it is 4x4 trails and takes about two hours each way. A cushion is recommended also. The trail is mostly vine hanging jungle and travels up over the mountain past the volcano and down to the other side to the town of Lenakel. We went over on payday which also was market day.
The volcano is one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world and was a site to behold. As you stand on the rim of this magnificent hole and hear the explosions and watch the lava shoot into the air like fireworks it isn't hard to imagine what the center of the earth looks like.
Sadly we leave Port Resolution for an over night sail to Port Vila to drop off my sister Sandy. She will return to Michigan with much to tell her friends and family.
Hope all is well with all of you. Take care Peg

September 22nd: Tanna, Vanuatu
Well we are still trying to get a ride to the other side to check in.
There are three out of five boats waiting. Then it is off to the volcano this evening. There is ash falling on the boat, but don't worry....Dick says we will keep it shoveled off.
Will let you know when the check in is final. You were right about this being the real thing out in the villages. This is great and Sandy says "for this the long flight was worth it. However, made a mistake in giving Kava to the chief.....his son told everyone that we had Kava from Fiji and we have been offered everything they to trade for Kava.

September 16, 2007: Fiji
After saying our good-byes to all our old and new friends we prepare to leave Fiji. We must say it wasn't what we expected. Guess you can't believe all the pictures you see in the magazines. There are some pretty the resorts etc., as in most places the real world lies beyond the resorts. Poverty is apparent and the industry of the sugar cane is everywhere. The smoke from the burning of the harvested fields hangs heavy over the whole area while it drops a steady stream of ash over the coast. We are sorry to say that we didn't see much more than the Lautoka side, but perhaps another time we will see the other side of the island. My sister Sandy has flown all the way to Fiji from Michigan and will be making the trip to Vanuatu with us where we hope to see the Valcano up close and personal on the island of Tanna.
The weather seems to be a bit unsettled as the cyclone season approaches and many boats prepare to leave the area. Musket Cove Resort on the island of Malolo, each year has a regatta from there to Vanuatu and I believe they leave Musket Cove next week. I will try to send a daily report as we sail along. Hoping that it is uneventful.
Peg and Dick on SV Katmai

Arrived in Lautoka Fiji July 27, 2007
After a very rough and tiring couple of days Dick and Peggy made landfall in Lautoka, Fiji. Here they cleared in with customs and immigrations. All is well on board and I think there are a couple of very happy folks on Katmai to finally have made it to Fiji. My hat off to them for having sailed down the middle of the Pacific Ocean from Seward, Alaska to Fiji for a total of over 5500 nautical miles in 30 days of sailing. Incredible!! Now it truly is time to slow-up and enjoy the sun, palms, turquoise tropical lagoons and fascinating culture of Fiji. We are all relieved, Dick and Peggy, that you have made this very long passage in safety!
July 25th
POS is 17° 33'S, 177° 36'E
A high pressure has moved to the south of Fiji reinforcing the Trade Winds, now blowing a steady 35 knots with rough seas. Conditions are not likely to improve soon. Dick and Peggy are taking Katmai southwest to try and get some reprieve in the lee of the Yasawa group of islands. There they hope to hide out until daylight before entering the reef strewn coast of Viti Levu and making landfall at Lautoka. They sounded tired and ready to have a quite meal at some tropical restaurant. Weather permitting they should make landfall late tomorrow and a hard earned break. Let's all wish them a safe landfall.
July 24th
POS is 14° 14'S, 178° 09'E
Wind blowing 25 knots this night, boat speed 8 knots with a stays'l and two reefs in the main. Ride is a bit rough with spray flying that makes being in the cockpit uncomfortable. Distance to the entrance to Bligh Sound is 145nm. They should arrive in the protected waters of the sound sometime tomorrow early evening.
July 23rd
POS is 11° 41'S, 178° 16'E
Last night was a rough and sleepless night for the crew of Katmai. Thunder, lightning and heavy rain squalls kept them up all night. The winds have picked-up to about 25 knots and they are close-reaching under double reefed main and staysail at 7.5 knots. Tonight is clear and the sailing is good, Dick says that Katmai is loving these conditions. There is a high pressure on the move to the southwest of Fiji with the possibility of causing reinforced Trade Winds. Katmai is in a bit of a race to beat the high to Fiji with hope of avoiding the strong reinforced Trade Winds. But first there is a trough and a front that they will have to contend with. These will bring more squalls and wind shifts as they pass over Katmai and crew in the next day or two.
July 22nd
POS is 09° 17'S, 178° 10'E
July 21st
POS is 06° 51'S, 178° 24'E
Hi Everyone,
King Neptune crosses the equator
Richard (being of not so sound mind) officiates over the Equatorial Crossing Ceremonies. Dressed for the occasion he offers up our meager, but most treasured gifts to King Neptune. A shot of Dicks Southern Comfort and our prized chocolate chip cookies. I know it looks like Dick has had some of that Southern Comfort, but I can assure you that this is his sober state at this time. Now as we stare into our next squall line we hope that our gifts were much appreciated.
Peg and Dick Aboard SV Katmai
Going was tough today, little wind and big seas made keeping the sails drawing steady hard work. The wind is back up at 13 knots and they are sailing along at 8 knots towards Fiji. The island of Funafuti is about 110 miles to the southeast of Katmai's midnight location and a tempting short stop. Still no fish-on!

July 20th
POS is 04° 40'S, 178° 20'E
July 19th
POS is 02° 15'S, 177° 30'E
Katmai and crew crossed the equator from the northern to the southern hemisphere at 02:20 a.m. local time. Rumor has it that King Neptune did come by for a visit, while Dick and Peggy had a smorgasbord of Southern Comfort and certain sweets ready for him. Not entirely sure what initiation rites occurred that night onboard Katmai, but I bet her crew will have great tales to tell.
Sailing is good in 10-12 knots of breeze from the ESE, making good 7.5 to 8 knots of boat speed. Crystal clear star filled nights and warms days under blue skies wich are studded with pure white 'popcorn' clouds, a sign so typical of fair weather in the tropics. Dick and Peggy maybe world class sailors, but I am not sure about their fishing prowess. They now have been dragging that poor fishing lure for well over 4000 miles and have not had a bite! It's time for all of us who sail vicariously with them to offer some advice. Any takers on how to catch that tuna?
July 18th
POS is 00° 14'N, 176° 42'E
Today was again a very light wind day. Mostly in the 0-5 knot range. At mid-night the wind was up to 9 knots, sailing with the big #2 Genoa and making 7.5-8 knots in calm seas. All is well on board, though the lack of wind can be very trying. It's a fight for every mile made good. In a couple of hours Katmai and crew will be crossing the equator to the southern hemisphere. Our two gallant crew will then gain the title of 'Golden Shellbacks'! I'm certain King Neptune will pay an appropriate indoctrination visit....
July 17th
POS is 2° 03'N, 176° 00'E

Hi Everyone,

Marshalls to the equator. We left Majuro in a squall [on July 14th]. As we entered the channel to exit the atoll we looked back at the anchorage and watched the squall swallow up the boats that were there. The first few hours out were a little tough and we ended up motoring as we neared the end of the island just to miss the reef that was there. Once out of danger of the reef we began sailing with a nice breeze and continued through out the night.

The next morning we were becalmed. We made a decision to motor sail with the very light breeze to the south and while doing a whopping big 2 knots we were able to get lots of rest and do some reading. By the next morning we were back in the pink with 10 to 15 knots and have been sailing along at an easy pace of 7.5 to 8.5 ever since. We expect to cross the equator sometime tomorrow late and I think Dick is planning something.

Peg and Dick
SV Katmai
[Also see their last note regarding Majuro, on the Seward to Marshall Islands log page]
Crossing the Equator (a tradition)
The ceremony of crossing the line is an initiation rite which commemorates a sailor's first crossing of the equator.  Originally the tradition was created as a test for seasoned sailors to ensure their new shipmates were capable of handling long rough times at sea. Sailors who have already crossed the equator are nicknamed (Trusty) Shellbacks, often referred to as Sons of Neptune; those who have not are nicknamed (Slimy) Pollywogs.
"King Neptune and his court" (usually including his first assistant Davy Jones and her Highness Amphitrite and often various dignitaries, who are all represented by the highest ranking seamen) officiate at the ceremony, during which the Pollywogs undergo a number of increasingly disgusting ordeals (wearing clothing inside out and backwards; crawling on hands and knees on nonskid-coated decks; being swatted with short lengths of fire hose; being locked in stocks and pillories and pelted with mushy fruit; crawling through chutes and large tubs of rotting garbage; kissing the Royal Baby's belly coated with axle grease, hair chopping, etc), largely for the entertainment of the Shellbacks.
Once the ceremony is complete, a Pollywog receives a certificate declaring his new status. Another common status is the Golden shellback, a person who has crossed the equator at the 180th meridian (International Date Line).

July 16th
POS is 4° 16'N, 174° 30'E
Today Katmai became one of histories many sailing boats to drift aimlessly in the Doldrums with her crew, Dick and Peggy, scanning the horizon for any hint of a breeze. There was none! The ocean as glassy as a mountain lake on as windless morning. The air temperature soaring to 100F in the shade and the ocean not much cooler. As night fell the sky became illuminated with a trillion stars, in Dick's words "such stars a person on land has never seen".  In the end they were lucky as a night time zephyr of a breeze grew to 10 knots. At mid-night local time they were reaching along on a still smooth ocean, with the only accompanying sound being the faint gurgling from of the ocean water along Katmai's hull. Her sails drawing and making a steady course towards Fiji. Time will tell if King Neptune has only provided Dick and Peggy a Doldrums sample to day and there is more to come, or has he allowed them to pass through with minimal time spent in his equatorial parking lot.
July 15th
POS is 5° 24'N, 173° 28'E
Been sailing most of the day closed hauled to the wind at about 8 knots. Winds 10 knots from the east. Very nice sailing. All is well on board, may even have email working again!
July 14th

Departed from the Marshall's  and bound for Fiji. Dick and Peggy re-provisioned Katmai with food and fuel, had a few good dinners ashore and met some helpful cruisers. Fuelling in the Marshalls is done by buying a barrel of diesel and filling your tank from that barrel - there is no easy fuel dock to pull up to. There were some minor repairs to be made and a trip to the DHL office to pick up a spare autopilot hydraulic drive unit and other odds and ends. 
Now the big question is: what is the best way across the Doldrums? King Neptune is the 'Meter Maid' for this area and is not afraid to hand out stiff parking tickets to yachts that drift too long in these windless expanses covering the world's equator.  The strategy Dick and Peggy worked out to avoid a run in with King Neptune is to head due east (if the wind allows it), back to about 175E to 180 longitude. There they will turn south towards Fiji. That will add about 200 miles to the direct route. The driver for adding these extra miles is to take advantage of the Equatorial Counter Current and minimizing sailing hard into the wind once they reach the southeast trade winds in the southern hemisphere (it is much more pleasant to beat into 10 knot winds at the equator than further south in 20 - 25 knot winds of the southern trade wind belt. Unfortunately Fiji is to windward of the Marshall islands. The graph on the left is called a Stream Line chart and shows wind directions. The red hashed line in the top center of the graph is the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) and is where the southern and northern trade winds converge and form the Doldrums. This is the zone where the warm and moist tropical trade winds rise from sea level to the upper atmosphere (and is where King Neptune's Parking Authority rules). It is an area with lots of squalls, heavy tropical rains and plenty of thunder and lightning, AND often very little wind. Dick and Peggy are just left of the western end of this ITCZ belt as it is today. The ITCZ moves, however, by many hundreds of miles each day and is tough to predict. Fiji is just to the northwest of the 'A' at the bottom of the graph. So if they can sail due east to the 180 longitude line then they will have a nice reach all the way to Fiji.  - Eric

Arrived in the Maruro, July 10, 2007

Hi Everyone,
We arrived at Majuro in the early morning [of July 10th] after slowing the boat down to a crawl during the night so not to arrive in the dark. Majuro is a small Island Atoll in the North Pacific with approximately 30,000 people in a 1300 acre area. It is about 27 miles long, but less than 1/4 mile wide at any one place. It is the major entry port and was a breeze checking in and out. The islanders are pretty laid back and don't sweat the little stuff. The cruisers there are really nice. They are very helpful and they are like one big family. We were told not to judge the Marshalls by Majuro. The outer Islands were lovely and pristine. We regret that once again work dictates the schedule and we are on our way to Fiji where Dick will fly back to AK for one more day of the W word. Then perhaps we can slow down and take some time for ourselves. We will let every one know when we get to Fiji. Laurie will be joining me for a few days in Fiji and I am looking forward to that.
Peg and Dick
SV Katmai


Majuro IslandJuly 10th

Arrived safe and sound at Majuro Atoll, in the Marshall Islands.

July 9th
POS 2pm local time is 8° 08'N, 171° 550'E

Great sailing, reaching at 8-9 knots. About 65 miles to go to Majuro. Will need to slow-up and maybe sail in a triangle for the night to time an early Tuesday morning landfall in Majuro. Making a night time landfall would be fraught with danger of putting the boat on the reef.  These atolls are only a few feet above sea level and have a very narrow entrance into the inner lagoon. The entrance channel cuts through the corral reef which is pounded by the pacific swell on both sides of the channel making accurate and visual navigation critical.
July 8th
POS 2pm local time is 9° 28'N, 174° 00'E.
Typhoon developing 1800 miles west of Katmai heading away to the northwest. This is however causing a belt of very squally weather in the vicinity of Katmai. Katmai saw 45 knots and blinding rain last night. Conditions have improved dramatically and this morning there are very thin and high clouds with 15 knot breeze from the northeast. Dick and Peggy are fine and sailing towards Majuro. No weather charts predicted this line of squalls developing in one of the long spiral arms of the above mentioned typhoon. They are however very visible on the satellite infrared loop.  In the picture to the right Katmai is in near the dark blue blob to the right of center and the developing typhoon is to the left of center. Again, the track of the typhoon is to the left in the picture and will NOT be a problem for the crew of Katmai.


July 7th, Saturday

POS 7pm local time is 10° 29'N, 175° 12'E.
Significant local squalls, sailing on heading of 250M will head more southerly. Sailing >8 knots with just a bit of the headsail out, wind gusts to 45 knots.  Making great time, but horizontal rain and tropical squalls are not fun.  300 nautical miles to Majuro, Marshall Islands, still anticipate Monday arrival.
July 5th (Crossed the International Date Line and lost July 4th to the wind)

Our position this morning at 8:30 local time is 12° 52.2'N, 177° 43.5'E. Good sailing through out the night, most of the time in excess of 8 knots. Still looking like Monday arrival.





July 3rd
POS 16° 02.29'N, 179° 32.03'W
Spoke with Peggy on the sat phone today. All is well on board. Very nice tropical trade wind sailing now. Winds 10 to 15 knots from the east. Peggy is now spending the nights sleeping under the stars in the cockpit while Dick is on watch. The new laptop they bought to send emails via sat phone is on the blink a bit. So if you are expecting an email from them be patient and don't worry.  They expect to be arriving in the Marshall Islands in four to five days. Life onboard is good! - Eric
July 2nd
POS 20° 09.1'N, 178° 15.1'W
We are changing course from 180° to 200°. Barometer up. We are heading more west. The winds have gotten better and the big nasty clouds that pass over us didn't come with the normal heavy wind last night. Instead they sucked all the air out of the whole area. I'm not sure I have ever experienced that before.
POS 22° 15.5'N, 178° 04.7'W winds 25 to 35 knots, seas 10 to 15 feet, barometer dropping.
Barometer dropped 3/100 yesterday and today each. Expect to be near 19 degrees latitude tomorrow pm. Squalls are frequent and ride not too comfortable. Getting tired of combat any smoother water out there some place?
Eighty five degrees and very hot inside boat, but cannot sit outside without becoming a salt pillar. This is a very wet boat! I know you said that, but had no idea. Thanks for the update on weather. Seem to be able to get weather only once a day (night time). Six charts were unavailable today.  ---- Peg

The Adventures of a Broken Starter Motor
Katmai left Midway Island at the end Hawaiian island chain a couple of days ago, following an ‘emergency ‘stop.  The engine starter was destroyed when it engaged while the engine was running due to faulty ignition switch.  Of course everyone is OK, the boat is fine too and never in any real danger, other than not being able to start the engine again and charge the batteries (it is a SAIL-boat after all so it can still travel most anywhere), but it is not particularly prudent or pleasant to cross the high seas with out navigation equipment, HF radio, water maker, or refrigeration etc.
The Dick and Peggy on Katmai could not at that time send a photo of the broken starter’s cast iron nose cone for identification, but they did have a model number and a phone number for Kaestner Auto Electric, which was written on the side of the starter.  It turns out the one on Katmai was a rebuild from a shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Kaestner Auto Electric - not a marine center, nor a Perkins dealer.
First we tried the Delco Remy dealers in Honolulu thinking they are closest, no luck. Next we called the Delco Remy corporate office.  After many emails and phone calls the corporate office arranged a teleconference with their best and most experienced engineers and customer reps, but they couldn’t figure out why the model number didn’t match our description.  It translated to a starter that was never going to work (too many teeth on the pinion gear)!….We even tried Perkins (the diesel engine manufacturer) in the US and UK and the sailboat builder in France, Beneteau.  Useless, and lots of precious hours lost
All the experts at the manufacturers and engineering shops, literally from around the world, were scratching their heads.  It did not make sense to them, as the model number from the broken starter gave a very different description for number of pinion teeth, pinion size etc than were actually on the unit.  To them, that meant the possibilities were too limitless to fathom.
Did I mention that Katmai was going to make an emergency stop at Midway (requiring emergency approval from the US Coast Guard and the Fish and Wildlife Service)?  On Midway are 30 FWS people and 2,000,000 nesting albatross on about 2 sq miles of sand and is located smack-dab in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean.  The new starter absolutely needed to be in Honolulu for the next FWS flight out in a few days time, one of three flights per month!
Anyway, you can imagine the surprise on at Kaestner Auto in Waukesha, Wisconsin, when Eric called (nearly 15 years after the now broken starter was built by them) and said:
“Hello, my name is Eric, I am calling you from Australia(of course it is 1 am in Perth).
Kaestner Auto Electric: “Yesssss……. how can we help you?”
“I own a sailboat that is in mechanical distress in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean and the nose cone on the starter motor has self-destructed and has the phone number to your shop printed on it!”
 “Is there anything that we can do to repair it? Maybe with Epoxy, or anything like that?”
 Kaestner Auto: “No-way, not a chance! There is too large a load on it”. 
 Eric: “Do you by chance have sales records back to about 1990 to help me figure out what starter I need?”
After a few more calls with further questions, Eric ends-up talking to Joe Bradish at Kaestner Auto Electric and tells him he is desperate for help in trying to determine what starter Katmai needs.
Suddenly, a bazillion brilliant questions about angles, bolt patterns, dimensions and pinion gears and over the course of couple of days and nights Joe came back and had eliminated all but four potential choices.  Two were eliminated right then and there while on the phone with Eric.  Then Joe emailed pictures of the remaining two nose cone options to Australia, which we then sent to Katmai via satellite.  After numerous terrible voice connections via Iridium satellite telephone with Katmai and through shear diligence from Joe and his desire to help, we narrowed the choice to one.  In the end Joe built a custom starter (on his weekend) that he overnight express shipped to Honolulu and from there it went by small plane to Midway Island.  Best of all - it WORKED PERFECTLY! - Joe is our hero, he solved the puzzle that no one else could!  If you ever need help with a starter, call on Joe at  Without him, Katmai would still be stranded in the middle of the North Pacific. (OK, so in the end it will be the most expensive starter I’ll ever hope to own)
So a huge thanks to Joe Bradish at Kaestner Auto Electric in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Joe and his wife know a bit of the allure of long distance travel them selves….They set off on their Harleys for a 4000 mile trip to Newfoundland yesterday!
While all this was happening on shore with phone calls going around the world, Dick on a small heaving sailboat in the middle of the North Pacific managed the impossible!  He reassembled the bits and pieces of the broken cast iron nose cone from the old Delco Remy starter with JB Weld, drill bits as stiffeners and Epoxy.  He kept saying, I’m going to get at least one more start out of this piece of …. And you know what? True to his word, we get a satellite phone call in the middle of the night with Peggy excitedly yelling “do you hear it?” “Do you hear it?” “The engine is running!!!”  Dick got one final start just outside the entrance to the Midway Atoll and was able to motor under Katmai’s own power to the dock.  Now that gets the MacGyver award of the century!
June 29th, Midway Island
The Battle of Midway was said to be the turning point in World War II.  To see the island and the history that is left 60 years later left us with a feeling of awe.  How could such a major battle have taken place in a spot that is now so peaceful and tranquil?
It was inhabited by the Navy for many years but now is a Bird Sanctuary.  It supports the largest colony of Albatross in the world.  It also supports many other species of birds.  The Red Tailed Tropic birds, the Fairy Turns, Frigate birds, about 100 Canaries, the Petrels that burrow in the ground to nest, Mina birds and the Laysan Ducks which are on the endangered list.  Outside of the birds are the Monk Seals that are endangered and very well protected here by the biologists along with the turtles that nest on the beaches of the island. 
The Albatross mating dance is legendary with lots of head bobbing, foot stomping, and a sound called mooing.  The mating begins at the age of about 8 or 9 and is for life.  The mating, nesting, chick rearing takes about 7 or 8 months which leaves the adults free to relax and fend for themselves for only a short time.  In the mean time the adult birds take turns guarding the chick and flying sometimes 300 miles or more to find food.  Only 1 egg per year is laid and if anything happens to that one egg the season is over for that pair. When the chicks are of a certain age the adult leaves the chick to fend for itself and learn to fly or die.  Many of the chicks parish as a result of the heat and dehydration.  The chicks sit near the place where they were born and await the parents return.  The fledging stage of their life is spent learning to fly.   As the winds increase and the rains begin to fall the chicks begin to spread their wings and begin to hop and run trying to take off.  Some chicks gain altitude with great success just in time to loose control and land in a heap in a bush or on top of another chick who, by the way looks very indignant about the whole thing. 
Our reason for being on Midway, is as we all know that as much as we try to minimize things going wrong on our boats there is no way to prevent the little gremlins that mess with things when our backs are turned.  A faulty ignition switch caused an unplanned engine start and busted the nose cone on the starter.  Now who would have expected that?  With Eric and Laurie’s heroic efforts we were given permission by the government to make an emergency landing at Midway.  With their help we were able to get the parts needed and repair the boat.  In the mean time we were very well received by the people here. 
On arrival the boat was inspected for rats.  It was explained that the rat population here had been eliminated to protect the bird eggs.   Then we were greeted by John Klavitter of (Fish and Wildlife) and his wife Leona who monitors and is very protective of the Monk Seal.  We were taken to the Clipper House for lunch and then taken for a tour of the island by John Miller.  A very special couple that we met was the Physicians Assistant, Jim Cassell and his wife Nancy Wallander who took us under their wing and treated us to a shower at their home and a tour of the medical facility.  Jim and Nancy are keepers.   We were then given bicycles to ride.  The transportation there is either bikes or golf carts. 
We found that it was easier to weave through the thousands of birds with a bike than with a golf cart.  Many times you would see people get out and shoo the birds out of the way.  Bill in the mechanics shop was a big help in the repair of the Auto Pilot. 
All in all I would say our visit to the island of Midway was an unexpected treat.  We would like to thank Eric and Laurie for all their help with weather and their exhausting efforts in getting us everything we needed… is really great to have a shore crew that is there to help when needed, and thanks to all the people at the island that took their time to help us with repairs and seeing that we were okay.
We plan to leave today, June 29th to continue our journey to Majuro in the Marshalls.  Hope you all are having a really great summer.
Peggy and Dick
Aboard S/V Katmai
June 23rd,  Midway Island
Awaiting a new starter scheduled to arrive mid week.  Safe and sound tied up at the tug pier.  A huge "thank you" to the Fish and Wildlife Service for allowing this emergency stop, and for all their kind help and hospitality.
June 22nd, 120 nm NE of Midway at 29° 17.5'N   175° 31.5'W. 
Reaching at 6-7 knots in easterly winds 10-15 knots. ETA Midway Saturday afternoon.  Beautiful sailing, much warmer weather.  If only they had power, it would not be a problem to carry on to Majuro.  The USCG and Fish & Wildlife Service have been understanding and are allowing Katmai to come in to Midway for repairs to the starter.  Without the starter they have no way to recharge the batteries and can not run the engine. Except for marine emergencies Midway Atoll is off limits to visiting vessels due to its status as a National Wildlife Refuge. Nearly two million birds call it home for much of each year, including the world's largest population of Laysan Albatrosses, or "gooney birds".
Those of you with "Google Earth" installed on your computer it is definitely worth zooming in on.   28° 10' 50.6"N   177° 21'  17.1"W
Midway was the focus for the second of the Pacific War's great carrier battles.  The battle took place 4-7 June 1942. The perseverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive. More on Midway history.
June 21st
Katmai and Crew are making a short stop at Midway Island to repair a broken starter. All is well on board, the sailing is good - reaching along at 8 knots in 70 plus degree weather. Dick has been working on the starter to get one more start out of it - if anyone can do it he can! Unfortunately without engine they are having to conserve on electrical power and so are sailing along in power conservation mode. I'm sure we'll get a full update of their adventures once they make landfall and have rested a bit.
June 18th
Hi everyone, Our position is 40° 41.75'N/170°30.69'W Since leaving Kodiak we have weathered two gales, broke the steering vane and the auto pilot. Not bad work for just a few days! Well, we do have the vane fixed, but auto will have to wait for parts. The Aleutians were interesting. Smooth mountains and hills with nothing growing but grass. Not much for wildlife unless you count the fishermen down at the docks. We met some lovely people there though and hope someday to see them again. We have finally started to see some warmer temperatures and finally found just the right amount of wind on the beam. Katmai is sailing along at 7.5 to 8 knts and things are looking up. I will send another up date some where along the line. Hope all of you are well and happy.
Peg and Dick on Katmai

June 16th
Position 43°N, 169° 30'W, Heading ~180°. The wind is gradually decreasing as Katmai is heading south and loosening her grip from a near by low pressure. The going has not been easy due to the rough seas and high wind. Dick and Peggy sound tired and are looking forward to the forecast weather improvement. The outlook for the next few days looks good with 15 to 20 knot winds and broad reaching conditions. They have been making very good southing.
June 15th
Position is 46° 55.513'N 167° 26.849'W On a heading of about 218° SW trying to put some distance between us and the low to the east of us. Junky and lumpy lumpy weather.  Winds are in the high 20 to 30 knots range.  Slogging through this area.  will write more in a few days

June 13th
Our position is 51°00.325'N 167°13.435'W Wind SW at 10 knots. Air temps at about 46 degrees. Not much exciting going on at this time. We expect to be sailing like this for the next day or so and then expect a mild low that will give us some higher winds so have been preparing for that. Weather transmissions are poor. Hard to read most of the time and untimely. They seem to just throw a weather chart at you once in a while. Will try Hawaii next. Will try to find time to learn how to send pics with this system in the next few days.

June 10th
In Dutch Harbor rafted up with the fishing fleet. Fueled up, last check of systems,  and plan on heading out tomorrow, weather permitting.
On the way in to Dutch Harbor, while still at sea we saw lots of birds and whales.
One whale was particularly interesting when he came up not 10 ft from Katmai headed right at her beam. I don't know who was more or the whale.
He blew and with a flip of his tale that drowned me in the cockpit, he dove under Katmai without touching her.
In the mean time I was attempting to suck all the air out of the atmosphere.
And did I have my camera ready for that one?....NO!  That same morning we were sailing along through thousands of birds. Puffins, Shearwaters, Petrels, Albatross, and some others I am not familiar with. They were everywhere for as far as you could see.
June 9th
Anchored near village of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Heater is fixed! the suction tube was plugged and it is now functional.
We are anchored in a place called Broad Bight about 25 miles out of town.  We are waiting till morning to run into Dutch to fuel up.  It is really dramatic.
Indescribable. I'm taking lots of pictures. Would like to stay in town for a day and do some laundry. We have lingered in cold country too long.
Plan on fueling up in Dutch Harbor and heading direct for Marshall Islands.
We were pretty tired after the gale with 40 knots so we hid out in the Semidi Islands and slept a couple days ago.  Temperatures are still in the low 40’s looking forward to warmer weather to the south.
The water maker is doing great...had a little problem at first with a water leak under bunk and at first it seemed to be sucking air so Dick put it through another start up cycle and that seemed to take care of the problem. 
We are using our GPS with the AIS system.  It works very well.  It is neat to see a big old boat out there and know the name size, position and direction.  Yesterday sailed with winds light to 16 knots. Monitor self-steering driving well and Katmai pranced smartly with 9 knots of wind we are doing 4 to 5 knots. Today had period of stronger winds again, about 30 knows but tide against wind so was lumpy.
June 6th, 2007 Semidi Islands
Our position is 56.03.105N/156.42.199W On Semidi Islands. 
Hiding out here for a little while to rest up and get warm, dry out clothes etc.
Will push onward down the chain until we get to Dutch to refuel and then jump out there and go. Having to use engine to heat so will most likely stop in Dutch Harbor to refuel.  We saw between 20 knots to 40knts for hours.  Couldn't sleep or eat so we decided to take advantage of the little islands refuge.  Temps were in the low 40's. It is a good thing we have so much time to make Fiji.  We don't have to go out into bad weather for very long.  Saw the sun once....scared me....took a moment to remember that that bright orb in the sky was a good thing.
Peg and Dick


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