Tag Archives: BPO

Approaching Mauritius

Tonight is our third and final (barring surprises) night of this hop from Rodrigues to Mauritius. The passage has been pleasantly uneventful. We had a steady 20 knots for the first half, and we did an easy 6 knots with just the jib. Today the wind went lighter, and we flew our small spinnaker. Tonight the wind has nearly died, as predicted, and we are motoring — probably for the remaining 80 miles. Easy going. Beautiful night sky.

It makes one think, this being our last night at sea. Tomorrow we will be clearing in and getting settled. Then TC’s priority will be to get on a plane and be gone. Tim will have a week to help with boat tasks, and then he’ll be gone. I have another 3 weeks to deal with boat tasks, and then I’ll be gone. I won’t spend another night at sea for two and a half months. For Tim it will be over 6 months.

Mauritius is a major stop on our map. I consider it the two-thirds point of the circumnavigation. Eight time zones away from home. About 127 degrees of longitude. I look forward to taking a break — a summer in Maine. Following that will be an exciting adventure, getting to Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Town. And from there it feels like a walk in the park back to familiar waters. (I may have to eat these words later!)

The most uncertain moment of this hop was actually a crew thing, and it occurred an hour before we cleared out with the authorities in Rodrigues. I should have seen it coming… It started three days before on our island tour by minibus. We were all piling back into the bus after a stop. Tim was climbing into the back as TC got in the front and closed his door…on Tim’s hand. Tim made a lot of noise about it, though he wasn’t really hurt. I’m not certain if TC even knew it happened. Probably he did, and he decided it wasn’t his problem that Tim put his hand somewhere that it shouldn’t have been. He said nothing. The incident seemed to pass, but it came up again a day later — Tim saying to someone else how there was no contrition on TC’s part. At this point I should have seen the similarity to what happened a year ago with Bill. But I let it pass.

As we prepared to leave, Chris dinghied over from Tom Tom to say goodbye, and he jokingly brought up a sensitive topic, asking who signs the papers for the authorities — who is really the captain…? While I was responding that it was purely a matter of convenience that I sign the papers, TC apparently was making comments about my being the real captain, and something disparaging that I didn’t catch about Tim being old. Chris departs, I go below, and then I hear Tim shouting at TC…repeatedly calling him an asshole…and adding that he understands why women don’t stick around with him… I hold my breath wondering what happens next. TC is hurrying silently to his cabin. After a minute I sneak a peek in his direction. He appears to be packing his gear! Oh boy! It’s not that we need him to get to Mauritius, but we have assured the police and immigrations that we are departing with the same crew that arrived. We won’t be allowed to leave without him until he purchases a plane ticket out of the country. Plus, I will be stuck with the aftermath…Tim’s one-sided story, starting with the hand in the door and no contrition.

I wait a few minutes, hoping everyone is cooling off. Then to the pilothouse where Tim is, and ask what happened. He vents, and he seems to relax some about it. Then I stick my head into TC’s cabin, and suggest that he ask Tim what set him off. To my surprise and relief, he cheerfully says that he will. A few minutes later I hear him going up and saying, “Can we clear the air?” And we all get through it. I didn’t hear any “contrition” about the car door though, so that may come up again. But the two of them seem to have gotten on well for the past three days. So many aspects to sailing…


Someone asked a question about the boats I’ve mentioned, that aren’t in the BPO rally: Gaia, On Verra, Tom Tom, Convivia, and others. Sailors tend to form their own “rally” when not in a formal one (or when the formal one has only two boats in the vicinity). A radio “net” started, as several boats agreed on a time and frequency for staying in communication. Others hear of the net, and join. A “net controller” volunteers to coordinate the radio traffic, which gets tricky as the boats fan out, and some cannot hear others. When boats check in, they report their position plus course, speed and wind conditions. And when someone could be in trouble, like Tom Tom with a broken forestay (and Gaia’s autopilot and engine both failed), everyone looks to see if they can assist. There are about a dozen boats currently tuning in to the “Indian Ocean South Net.” We are the furthest west of the lot; the first to Mauritius. So we will be letting the rest know what we encounter regarding formalities, mooring, etc.


A common question is what do I do to pass the time on a long passage. My answer has usually been that I love to just watch the waves roll by and enjoy my surroundings. But not so going across the Indian Ocean. A small dose of the waves was enough, and we generally wanted to stay inside the pilothouse. I read five thriller/mystery novels (probably as many as I’ve read in the rest of my life)! They became my “drug” to transport me to another world.

And Then There Were Two

Tahawus has decided to stay in SE Asia for another year, or more. So the BPO now consists of Maggie and us. We had a goodbye dinner last night in Ao Chalong, along with Daphne and Ruy from Blue Wind (which is being shipped to Turkey). Sad to say goodbye to people we have built such a bond with.

And…then there were two crew on No Regrets. Chris announced that he is feeling claustrophobic on the boat, and it isn’t his kind of travel (low budget backpacker type), and he is planning to leave us in Sumatra. So herein lies another sailing opportunity for anyone who would like to jump on it, for May and June, from Sumatra to Mauritius. We have a couple leads. But if nothing works out, Tim and I will go anyway without a third.

We checked out with the Thai authorities yesterday. Most paper pushing that I’ve seen anywhere on this trip! But all in air conditioned offices, so we didn’t care. Today we “left” — just sailing around the south end of Phuket to a neat little anchorage off an almost hidden beach (with tourists coming and going constantly in longtail boats until sundown). Everything here (southern Thailand coast) is incredibly touristy — tour boats going everywhere by the dozens, resorts and restaurants and bars wherever you look, and local girls hanging out in the bars inviting the foreigners to join them…

We didn’t want to actually leave for Sumatra today, because we would arrive on Sunday. That means special fees; Luc advised us not to. You remember Luc, right…? The master organizer of BPO events! He will be at it again for our first stop at Sabang in Sumatra. I have some trepidation about Sumatra based on accounts I have read — people being unfriendly, anchorages not providing shelter from sudden squalls. Oh well, we will have our own experience, and who knows what it will be?! In any case I am excited that we are moving on from Thailand. This coast is beautiful, and people have been sweet, but I never connected much to either, largely for the oppressive heat. End of poetry.



We spent nine days in the new marina in downtown Papeete. Hallie and I spent three of those nights in a B&B a short walk from the boat. It was interesting to see the apartment and speak with the owners, but I think we were happier when we moved aboard.

Papeete was very convenient. Shops and restaurants and banks (everything is expensive, except baguettes), and the BPO reps Luc and Jackie helping with rides and phone calls and translation. We got our foresail patched and a zipper replaced on an awning. (And we ordered a new sail to be picked up in Australia.) We changed the oil in both engines and were able to dispose of the old oil. (We had been carrying old oil across the Pacific, waiting for a place to dispose it.) We had an electrician check our batteries and tell us they were okay. We rented a car so we could drive around the island, plus carry many hundreds of dollars worth of groceries to the boat. Last good place to shop until Australia, they say.

But the most important activity was the long-awaited meeting with Jimmy Cornell. My expectation coming into it was that the eight (?) remaining BPO boats would have eight different and strongly-held ideas about the route and schedule after Australia. I expected Jimmy to announce his grand plan, and then everyone would grumble that this wasn’t what they signed up for, and the BPO would unravel completely. That’s not what happened…

There were several surprises in store for me in Tahiti. The first was that Jimmy did not declare the new/revised BPO route. He asked the participants what they wanted to do, and made suggestions. My second surprise was that the participants went out of their way to come up with a consensus plan. Everyone was flexible. And indeed, with Jimmy’s coaching about what routes/schedules work and what doesn’t, a consensus plan emerged. The BPO still has life after all.

However, while many participants think the plan is ‘fast,’ I see it as ‘slow.’ I would like to sail more and visit places less, and return home sooner. The options are limited by the weather — particularly the cyclone season in the Indian Ocean. Either we have to sail aggressively to Australia and then to South Africa, which could get us home in one year, or else we follow the BPO plan (which now also goes to South Africa; the Red Sea is out), and see some marvelous places along the way, and get home in two years. There isn’t any middle ground. I’m on the fence about this. Since I expected the BPO to unravel, I was thinking of going fast on our own. With the BPO still alive, and the camaraderie of the participants, I’m now leaning toward the BPO plan (which, time-wise, is what I originally had planned).

But wait! There’s another surprise! Bill and I got word from Tim (who flew home from Rangiroa and planned to rejoin in Bora Bora) that his return is delayed, IF he returns at all!!!! This news requires some adjustments on the part of Bill and me. I don’t just mean having adequate crew aboard, but what is the nature of our partnership…the bond of trust…what the future of the voyage looks like…what happens after Bill leaves in Australia…

I probably haven’t written about all the crew in the BPO who have switched from one boat to another. There have been many shifts between boats. And in Papeete we learned that Bob Shanks, who had been crew on Maggie, was looking for a new berth. He asked Bill and me if we needed crew. At the time, the answer was, “Perhaps, after Australia.” It was later the same day that we got word that in fact we did need crew! (In retrospect it appears that Bob, and perhaps others, knew we would be wanting crew before Tim informed us; but Bob gave no hint of whatever knowledge he held in confidence.) In any case, by the next day we had signed Bob on through Australia. Bob is interested in continuing on after that, but we need a getting-to-know-each-other period, and we need to determine whether Tim will be rejoining or not.

More to be said about these changes, and what the post-Australia plan will be…in another post. For my own blogging purposes, I’m considering this the start of Part 3 of the BPO.

Yesterday we (Bill, Hallie and I) left Tahiti and sailed/motored the 10 miles or so to Mo’orea, where we could anchor out behind the reef, and get away from the city. That was a relief, but this anchorage leaves a lot to be desired, so we’ll get underway shortly to explore another part of the island.

Hallie says goodbye to Tahiti.
Hallie says goodbye to Tahiti.
Bill says it's great to be sailing again.
Bill says it’s great to be sailing again.
Mo’orea ahead.
Looking back at Tahiti from our anchorage in Mo'orea.
Looking back at Tahiti from our anchorage in Mo’orea.