Tag Archives: Sonrisa

Sometimes We’re Fast, Sometimes We’re Slow, By Sonrisa

We spent an entire month in the Kei Islands. Part of our long stay is simply because there is a lot about Kei Islands to enjoy; part of our long stay is our collective indecision about what to do about the Indonesia Visa Conundrum.   As Leslie mentioned a few posts back, the day we checked in with i

Source: Sometimes We’re Fast, Sometimes We’re Slow, By Sonrisa

Minding My Ps and Qs, By Sonrisa

Another piece by the lovely and talented Sonrisa. She makes me smile!

As I write this, I am in a new ocean – an ocean filled with excitement, adventure, and squid boats.  But, don’t let me get ahead of myself.  For our last week in PNG, I wasn’t so sure we would reach this next stage.  Could Andrew really be serious?  Could he want to ship me back to the state

Source: Minding My Ps and Qs, By Sonrisa

A Week Aboard S/V Sonrisa Part Four

Internet is a problem again, sorry for the text only post. I promise I will fill in pictures when I have internet access once more. …. For our second day of diving, we are going to dive the Clam Mac Wreck. My first wreck dive! Riki arrives with our regular dive crew – Jo and Mosh, and Makke the Tongan dive assistant. Riki explains the history of the wreck as we gear up at the site. The Clam Mack was a freighter traveling the Pacific in 1927. It was scheduled to collect and carry copra (the coconut meat used for extracting coconut oil) from the islands. They failed to add false floors to keep the coconut meat in nice layers, so as they piled up more and more copra, the weight of the coconut on top started pressing down on the bottom layers. Coconut oil began to weep into the bilges and eventually, the coal fired engine lit the coconut oil on fire. The Clam Mack was in transit from Fiji when the fire started. They shut all the hatches and smothered the flames. This worked until they reached Nieafu, but after they had anchored in the harbor and brought the ship along side Nieafu’s wooden wharf, they opened the hatches and the smoldering hot oil burst into flames again. The crew all abandoned ship leaving the captain and the engineer aboard to fend for themselves. Nieafu’s Port Captain gave them clear orders to get the ship away from the wharf before it burns down the entire village. So, the Captain attempted to drive the ship into the middle of the harbor and anchor it on a shallow coral ledge safely in the middle until they could contain the fire. Unfortunately, the huge anchor and chain caught on something and wouldn’t come up. Tongan lore has it that the captain and the engineer could be heard fighting with each other as the Clam Mac went down. They are still down there, fighting to this day. Sometimes you can see the bubbles rising from their watery graves. Everyone gears up and we drop down toward the wreck. It’s about 90 feet down, so you can’t see it from the surface. As we descend, the wreck appears like an apparition gaining strength. By the time we reach the deck, the water clarity is perfect. We can see from the stern all the way to the center of the 400 foot ship. The deck is decorated with all sorts of soft corals, tiny fish, and translucent shrimp. An eagle ray flies by in the distance. We make our way from stern to midship, breathing with a steady rhythm and beating a flipper only when necessary to create a steady movement. Coffee and Brian are doing great, each flanking Riki. We see a school of five giant travali being cleaned by cleaner fish. A huge sea snake rests at the bottom of a ladder. I look down the tunnel of a covered side deck and a school of about fifty fish the size of a yellow and black dinner plate weave toward me swimming right, then left, then right again through the narrow hallway. When we are almost nose to nose, they all turn in formation and squeeze through the rusting metal bars just like ghosts filtering through a wall. We float over the engine room, and we can see bubbles slowly rising out of metal rubble that has been under water just shy of 100 years. Where would that air be coming from? That must be the Captain yelling at the engineer. We circle back to the stern, then ascend. By the time we reach the surface everyone is completely jazzed by the dive. We are all chittering with excitement and reliving this or that thing we saw. Riki pulls out an old wine bottle he found on the wreck. Still corked, you could smell the sweetness of wine inside. “Whaaaaaaooooowwwww!” We all exclaim. What an amazing dive! Andrew and I immediately schedule another day to do it again. We want to go deeper and see the giant propeller. After basking in the sun on the dock, drinking tea and reloading our tanks, we head out to sea to dive another dive with crystal clear water, colorful fish and a number of tight swim throughs. At this point, C&B are feeling quite comfortable and everyone is having a great time. We all get together for a group shot. It’s not awkward to try to float all together, now is it? With the healthy coral, awesome underwater variety, and $45US per dive, Tonga is being added to my list of favorite diving destinations. But then again, there doesn’t seem to be any bad diving spots in the South Pacific. Back at Sonrisa, we clean up and head back to Neiafu. C&B have only one more day left in town before they fly out. We need to get back so they can shop for trinkets. C&B’s last day is “cruise ship day” in Neiafu – the perfect shopping day. All the Tongans have built their little tents and arrived with their wares to sell to the cruise ship patrons. We join the mix with its jovial brass band, chicken roasting on a rotisserie made out of an old truck bed, and trinkets everywhere! Coffee settles o

Source: A Week Aboard S/V Sonrisa Part Four

A Week Aboard S/V Sonrisa Part Three

Internet is a problem again, sorry for the text only post. I promise I will fill in pictures when I have internet access once more. …. I think it was circa 2011, but I can’t be sure. Andrew and I had been racing aboard Heeling Art with Captain Shane since 2007, but our regular crew mates were dwindling due to a variety of odd circumstances. Bobby was out of commission with his back injury, a crew mate who recently realized sailboat motors were equipped with a propeller rather than a jet had mysteriously disappeared, Benedict Alan decided to race on a competitors’ boat and the motley selection of randoms were not sufficiently reliable to man the boat on heavy wind days. So, Captain Shane reached out to two new sailors he met during the Nevada Yacht Club Sail Training Weekend. C&B arrived at the dock with cheerful smiles and ready attitudes. They climbed aboard and were promptly assigned to be rail meat. The cycle of sailing life starts again. Coffee’s spot-on impersonation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail won her immediate permeant crew status. They learned fast and were a cheerful addition to the boat. Soon, we were meeting them for dinners or cocktails away from Lake Mead, receiving invitations for random weekend projects like racing go carts or going camping, and bringing them along to listen to Henderson Symphony Concerts. New friends swiftly became old friends. When Sonrisa came into our lives, C&B volunteered not just to come visit her San Diego but to put in hours and hours of slave labor. They helped us reinstall new chain plates, re-bed various areas of Sonrisa’s deck hardware, and take her out sailing. Having them aboard for this tour of Tonga is our pleasure. After the Bacon Odyssey, our next project is to relocate to anchorages close enough that the scuba boat can pick us up. We have a couple days time to reach the close anchorages, so we have plenty of time to stop at a beach perfect for shelling, swing around in the hammock, snorkel the most colorful reef in Tonga, and stop by Swallows Cave for a tour. Both the reef and swallows cave are a bit awkward to access. They are far away from any safe anchorage for Sonrisa and Grin is nervous about taking all four of us at once across the great expanse. So, instead we take shifts. We reach our destination, everyone piles out in Grin, while I hove-to in deep water. (Hoving-to is a storm/lunch break tactic in which I backwind the front sail, leave the main sail as is, and balance Sonrisa’s rudder in the spot in which she wants to turn both right and left according to her opposite sails. This stops Sonrisa and allows her to scuttle very slowly sideways while we wait for the crew to finish their tour.) When the crew returns, we swap places, and I go explore while Andrew and Sonrisa wait. This worked great at the reef where Grin escorted everyone closer to shore. But, at swallow’s cave, we were so close we figured we could easily swim from Sonrisa to the cave. One by one, Andrew jumps in, Brian jumps in, and then Coffee jumps in. Suddenly, Coffee lets out a sharp screams/wail indicating both fear and pain. “What’s the matter?!” I call back. I begin to untwist my sail plan and use the motor to circle back. “Are you okay?” She is shaking her head “no, no, no”, but she is still swimming away from Sonrisa toward the cave. Andrew and Brian turn back and reach her. The three of them head to the cave and they huddle where the cave meets the coral reef. As I watch them, I wonder what could be wrong. Did she cut her foot on something as she jumped? Did something in the water bite her? Jellyfish? We haven’t seen a single shark while we have been in Tonga, so I doubt it was anything like that. I circle, but Andrew waves me off. So, Sonrisa and I shrug and circle away again. When they emerge out of the cave again, we circle toward them. I instruct them to swim together in the mouth of a cave and I will take a picture. Instead, I get a resounding chorus of “NOs!” What the heck is going on? As they climb aboard Sonrisa, they explain that Coffee did not appreciate the deep, deep blue of 200+ feet below her when she jumped in. I guess I have to come back to cave to get pictures later. We anchor at Port Maurelle and we enjoy beers and olives on the silky soft white sand beach. Pork chops, freshly made refried beans, mole and peppers for dinner. Riki and the Tin Can picked us up bright and early the next morning for our first round of scuba diving. Coffee got her Open Water Certification to be ready to dive in Tonga, so this is going to be her first dive somewhere exotic. Remembering my nerves the first time I dove out here (Link to Manihi Dive), I volunteered to be her buddy and hold her hand. Everyone gets dressed up in their gear, over the side we go. Suddenly, her regulator

Source: A Week Aboard S/V Sonrisa Part Three