Sunday, October 30, 2011

Next Stop - Fatu Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

We are leaving tomorrow morning at about 5'oclock for our next very long leg towards New Zealand. Fatu Hiva will be our stop for about 2 days before sailing further to Tahiti. Fatu Hiva is about 3000 NM from Galapagos. You can do the sum at say 5,5 Knots average per hour. For the not sailors, that is 3000 divided by 5,5 to get to the total hours it will take us, constant sailing day and night. I do not want to calculate the sum at this stage.....

Marco`s born day!

I love doing what I am doing! It gives me the wonderful opportunity to see my children grow into people with inner strength! We woke him with two candles of one…11…shoved into a cinnamon bun. Dad helped me blowing the 11 silver balloons and searching for plastic bags to wrap all his little gifts. Joe woke up and the three of us, were designing our own special birthday card on scraps of paper. This is something we learnt from Janlie, our daughter studying in Stellenbosch (SA). This tradition we saved.

We woke him with our low voices, and the love in our hearts filled the boat. He loved his new knife his daddy gave him. He loved the key chain with the scorpion, his star sign, his brother gave him. He loved the yo-yo his mommy gave him, and he loved the plastic army figures he bought for himself! He slept in his new sweater from Galapagos. He was feeling so special with little things from earth, and loads of blessings from the world around us. I love him so, for singing happy birthday to himself all day long. If only we all could learn to love ourselves so much…

Another Bird Story

The night we were battling to reach Wreck Bay, Joe and I tried to take a nap while our Skipper motored us closer to the Bay in the dark of the night. He was so tired, after not really sleeping well for 9 days now, but the universe saw his eyes battling to stay open, saw his shoulders slumping and the great fatigue settling in. So close to the end… Tonight he is going to get lucky! They send the boobies! The white shadow was following him, catching his eye, invading his male space with her clever touch, teasing him into giving up his fatigue and to give her all his attention. The white booby flew next to Andando flirting with the white on the waves, trying to catch a morsel from the sea. And he succumbed to her flirting, and shone the light on her. The beam of the torch revealed her beauty, her softness and her determination. Enchanted...She had him in her spell, hold him... He shone the light on the water, caught the fluorescent eyes of the sea morsel trying to get away from a predator. And then, it was her being caught in his spell. He coaxed her with the light of his torch, forward and backwards, playing her until she understands his game. She dove down, trusting him and his light, and she filled her beak with a little gift from the sea. And she took away his fatigue, his aching muscles and she gave him a sense of being alive again! That was the night our Skipper played with the booby!

Early Morning Wreck Bay, Isla San Cristobal

I didn`t want to wake up at 06h30, but the anxious agent was at our door step. Big Joseph came aboard with about 5 men, the Port Captain, the Water guy, the Fuel guy, the Fumigation guy…bombarding us with all the regulations and fees for being in this pristine Nature Reserve, protected by the Darwin legacy.

We thought we could stay for 72 hours according to info on Noonsite, but big Joseph assured us about new legislation…only 12 hours to stay without a 100US$ fee per person for the Nature Parks. Thanks to Internet our Skipper quickly studied Law 50, and convinced them that we could stay for 72 hours without paying the Park`s Fee allowing you to stay for 21 days. I wish, but yes, we`ll have to come back!

How can I forget? There was a Laundry guy too, and he left with two big bags, all our sheets will be washed in fresh water! Johan and I took the water taxi, all for 50 USD cents p p to touch land again! Boy, was I sick! I`ll rather be sea sick… Joseph took us to the fresh market and we found good veggies at good prices. Broccoli, cabbage, bag of tomatoes, bag of garlic, radishes for US$1 each per item or bag.

 Meat was hanging in the butcheries, and the chicken looked good.

Back at the boat to fetch the boys who was changing the sail drive oil and checking the engines, they dove into the ice cold water to check the rudder and props etc. Johan checked it as best he could while the boys forgot about the rudder and the props and were swimming with the seals and the colorful fish!

Beautiful curious shops greeted us, and I bought the T-shirt. I bought the post cards for all my loved ones somewhere, which I mailed under the big blue boat.

We loved this little island with its Mexican feel many years ago, according to our Skipper, and to me I felt the remoteness of St. Helena I loved. Lots of seals make sure, us humans know this is their island, and they roam the beach road. The Galapagos seals live here, love here, and have their babies… We watched a naughty wet new born baby. Typical he was battling to get away from his mother, away from the sandy beach and the blue water, and into the Big city with the bright lights!

It was Halloween, and we thought we`ll crash a party, so we were dressed up for a change, wearing long pants and our best T-shirts looking for a trick or treat for our birthday boy tomorrow. We met the crew from Konodoo, the Irish couple who came all the way from Australia and are on their way to the Panama!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Panama City
Wednesday afternoon we left the skyscrapers of Panama City behind us. We avoided the big cargo ships laying waiting for the Panama Canal, and headed for the open sea. It wasn`t going to be an easy sail. Maybe the sea gods read my previous blog, about beating, and they thought maybe I was in need of a little bit more experience, so that is exactly what we got! A lot more! Nine days beating, 1184nm with an average of 130nm per day. But it felt much more. The 800nm to Galapagos increased to 1184nm with the wind up to 20knots on the nose. We did not find any doldrums !!! Andando is a star and with all the beating and heavy wind sailing we are defnitely not sailing the same Andando as the previous crew. But more about that later....

The first day started with two meter swells only 6 seconds apart, washing over Andando`s bow. With the apparent wind meter going up to 25 knots on the nose and a leeway of 40 degrees our Skipper decided to change course and run for shelter the first night at Iles Las Perlas! In the beam of the torch light hundreds of silver fish slithered out of the water running on their tails. What beauty in these islands! We`ll definitely be back! We dropped anchor at Las Coco Island the next day to inspect the sail drive and to fix the reef line stuck somewhere, while the boys went for a stroll with some locals, and we bought a bunch of bananas and fresh oysters for lunch.

We left for Galapagos, but we knew our sail directions still don`t look good! Out of the blue a big grey ship came up behind us.

Warship 46 (American) radioed us with a lot of interrogating questions and we were scrambling around for the documents. When night fell we were still chaperoned by them, feeling safe off the Colombian coast. Just after 9 o`clock the next morning we were boarded by a Coast Guard Team, in their full black kit!

Marco loved every minute with real `SWAT`s` aboard, but I wasn`t impressed with their big freshly polished boots on a very white Andando! I politely asked them to wrap their boots in my perfumed lilac plastic bags.

 That really humored the people on the Mother ship. They spend the whole day aboard, and what started as an inspection for the sea worthiness of the vessel, and the inspection of the safety equipment, ended up in them measuring every corner of Andando.I was very patient but after a while making beds and lifting up cushions for them to inspect the water tanks and fuel tanks…I had enough! What were they really looking for? No one checked our flares or our life raft or our life jackets…

We lost a whole day and were battling forward. Marco is doing Maths and caught a beautiful wahoo, and is counting the days to his birthday!

Joe is meditating watching the sun go down every night, reading and eating! Our Skipper, looking forward to the end of this nightmare trip to Galapagos! Me…I am not beaten…yet!

We motored into Galapagos last night around 02h00 in desperate need for a good night sleep! We anchored at Wreck Bay, among loads of big touristy boats and only one mono hull which sailed from Marquesas, on their way to Panama! Boy, do we need to chat with them.

Ps. Just an update on the Yanmar Sail Drive saga. After a`very `long email to Yanmar in America, we received an email the very next day via our SAT phone. They apologise for the misunderstanding and they will replace the complete sail drive asap!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We are leaving Panama for Galapagos later this afternoon or tomorrow morning very early.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Panama Canal

If you were sitting with your hot chocolate and your hot blanket, waiting I hope you had a hot memory too, we had one! We were late, very late! We were postponed for hours, but we decided not to complain. It is not like someone pushes her cart in front of you in the line at the Supermarket, when this monstrous Panamax pushes in front of you, it is `no problem!`

Our Advisor arrived at about 15h30 and we started for the first lock. Closer to the lock, we were hooked up with lines to the other yacht, E Capoe (French), an umbilical cord were holding us tight through the birth canal. To me, getting so close to another yacht and then attaching yourself to it, with only the black tires and your own little fenders protecting your crisp white hull against the cement of the mono hull…that was the scariest of the whole canal!

As soon as we approached the canal, the two line handlers ( 90US$ a head) were getting ready. They caught the long lines from the canal guys, attached it to ours to lengthen it, and soon they were feeding the lines while our yachts carried on between the walls.

Andando was doing great, but our Skipper was doing even better, because the advisor only realized that the mono hull we were being attached too, was a whole 14 tons, and every time they got their engines started, Andando was pushed towards the walls! It left us, with our Skipper and Andando in control, piloting the two yachts through the canal. Me, I was happy….great gynecologist in charge!

By the time we reached the third lock, in Gatun Lake it was drizzling a bit, but we were waving at the webcam as if the whole world was watching! Nothing is gonna stop us! By the time we are going through the third lock, we are not so stressed anymore…the walls don`t look so close anymore. The only time the two yachts were fighting a bit, were when the fresh water were pumped into the lock from underneath, from the turbulent force of the water. The line handlers of both the yachts had to release and tighten all the time to keep the boats from the walls.

Exhausted after a whole day of expectation and preparation and about two hours in the canal, we were through and on our way to a buoy! We saw the yellow light and were heading for the `little` buoy! When our pilot suggested that both our yachts, now unattached at last can use the same buoy, I despaired. It was enough having a boat so close all day, I didn`t want to share a buoy, and wonder who is on what side of it all night! We reached the buoy, and it was huge! Joe jumped onto the buoy, secured our lines safely for the night, while I was putting our little gaff away, hoping that no one noticed my bravado!

After our Advisor were picked up by a Pilot boat, we enjoyed a lovely dinner with our line handlers, who were soon sleeping like babies in Marco`s cabin.

The pilot boat loudly awoke us the next morning around 07h30. We met our new Advisor, Roy, and were entertained by his expertise and his humor. E Capoe was heading for us again, with a French Skipper not afraid to speed up to the port side hull of our boat! Scary!! Everything happens slowly in the canal, except that! Anyway, we were heading for the second batch of locks, Pedro Miguel to be the first. The line handlers, Delvis and James were holding and releasing and kept us safe all the way. Maybe it was the good breakfast they shared with us.

 It was easier doing this in day light. The walls weren`t so close anymore…

Just before we went into the last lock, Miraflores Locks,

 the call came through that the big ship inside the lock broke down! How is that possible? Aren`t they indestructible? But of course, no complaints…

Attached to E Capoe , our Skipper had to control the two boats, while he was having tea! Another 40 minutes later, we entered the locks! A webcam! The three little French children had family somewhere watching, they were jumping up and down! We were bundled in the lock, with a boat in front of us, and a monster behind us!
Maybe the photo will give you an idea how close he was, but remember he was even closer!

The birth process was over, and us, twins were surfing out into the big world, to be separated at last.

Our advisor said good bye, left with a pilot boat, and we motored towards Flamingo Point where we rowed our two line handlers ashore with their long lines and tires. We anchored at Brisas. Andando and us, did the Panama Canal!

Ps. If you want to do the Panama Canal, it is an experience of a life time! But it is a costly affair…you even pay for your Clearing Out document from the Port Captain, 44US$! ( Was supposed to be only 24US$) And of course it is a no receipt affair! Silence is GOLD!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Maverick 400 - Andando

Herewith a video of some shots on the Trinidad to Panama trip. The Skipper Notes on the trip will follow Monday.

Time changed!

Ok, still hang on to your blanket,  but you can sit with your hot chocolate at 21h00 (SA time) now,  and check out the webcam!

The Panama Transit Dpt send you an email to keep you posted!  Efficient, I am telling you! 

Panama Canal

Today at noon our two line handlers will join us, and we will be leaving at 13h00 towards the Canal. We are nervously excited!  Eric, our agent assisted us in everything to make sure all the paper work was done, and he made sure that we know exactly what to do. He dropped black tyres wrapped in black plastic, which we reinforced with tape. We bought some rope to fasten onto the tyres,  but we will do that as soon as we are on our way. He also provided us with 4 very long lines, which we will use to control Andando in the locks.

I can keep you busy with a lot of wonderful information on the Panama Canal, which was built by the Americans about a hundred years ago. Joe interviewed Eric, our agent and is busy editing a video on the who and the what of the Panama Canal, and it will be available soon.

Follow us today, 16h00 our time, but back home in South-Africa, about 22h00! Come on get your blanket, and share this with us!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yanmar SD20 Saildrive

I`ll take you back to the beginning of the problems with the port side Saildrive of Catlyn. We started to notice a little bit of salt water in our saildrive oil end November 2009 on our way to Namibia. The oil was not milky but we noticed a difference in the oil when comparing with the star board saildrive. We contacted IMS Yanmar Cape Town who adviced us to monitor the oil closely and agree on my suggestion to change about 600 ml at a time from the top with new oil every 30 hours which we started to do immediately. The 600 ml is about all we managed to suck out with a household hand pump we have aboard. 
The rest of our voyage did not show any increase in the salt water and the fact that we replaced the old oil regulary helped a lot. We started using the port engine only for charging the batteries, just to take the work load from the port engine, because we knew we still had a long way ahead of us! However during our Atlantic crossing, close to Salvador Brasil end of March, we noticed an increase and the oil turned milky and as soon as you open the oil cap the oil level is pushed upwards from underneath.. We arrived at Itaparica, Salvador end of March and contacted IMS Yanmar Cape Town again and notified them that we are in Brasil. We were now able to change the oil seals on the saildrive which we (Yanmar CT and me)  thought would solve the problem. We beached Catlyn in April 2011, changed the oil seal, we even made a youtube video of the event for future guys to follow, and posted the video during May after editing. Attached below :

You can clearly see in the video that the saildrive is without any external damage that can indicate an accident.
After we changed the oil seal, within a few days the oil was milky again and I thought that maybe I did not change them properly. I contacted IMS Yanmar Cape Town again and they adviced me to beach again and to check the O-ring between the lower casing and upper casing. That meant that I had to order another rubber boot as well as the correct new O-ring from Yanmar in Salvador. We waited almost 6 weeks for the parts. We beached  again in June and when removing the rubber boot we noticed a fine hairline crack ( by pure co-incidence) in the lower casing of the saildrive on the port side therof.

New filled oil running down the leg after we replaced the oilseals and made the youtube video, it was then that we realised it is not the oil seals

The scratch marks you see below the crack is above the rubber boot and caused by the rubber boot moving up and down in the water. See photo above to establish the waterline.
It was only then that we started with the Yanmar Guarantee department, on the advice of IMS Yanmar Cape Town. We also started to communicate with Gittens Marine in Trinidad because we planned to haul out the boat to attend to the replacement of the Yanmar SD20 Saildrive. Gittens Marine immediately reported the Guarantee Claim with Yanmar and between us we decided to beach again and sand the hairline crack and fill it with Steel Pratly Patty. So we beached again in August and filled up the crack. When we refilled the Yanmar SD 20 Saildrive, oil was running out somewhere from behind. We realised that the crack was really very deep. We fastened the saildrive with rope unto the deck to prevent the dropping of the lower case, if it might crack any further while sailing to Trinidad. We did not use the engine at any time other than for charging the batteries. We arrived in Trinidad during September and hauled out at Peakes in Chaguaramas as soon as they could accommodate us :

We were out on the hard, and the very efficient Gittens Marine arrived about an hour later to investigate the Yanmar SD20 saildrive, took photos, apparently checked for electrolysis (which we didn`t even think about) and probably a lot more etc. They also came to the conclusion (as we already knew) that no bump or external force created the crack as no marks were on the outside of the Yanmar SD 20 saildrive. Also the Maverick 400 Catamaran is designed  that the Yanmar SD20 saildrive is totally protected. He forwarded the photos to the Yanmar Agent who came a week later to take more photos. They fetched the lower leg a couple of days later. We immediately noticed the difference in casting thickness just looking at it. Refer to photo.
Gittens Marine and the agent took the part of the leg with them, with no further word. Today (3 weeks later)  I received an email from Gittens Marine which informed me that Yanmar requested the complete Yanmar SD 20 saildrive to be shipped, " on my costs" to there facility in the USA for inspection to determine if it is a casting error or not. If it is, they will refund me the shipping costs. Gittens Marine asked me what they must do. I don`t does not sound fair, I have already all the cost of hauling out and paying the cost on the hard for nearly a many months until they make their decision on my fate ?
We are transiting the Panama Canal tomorrow with a delivery of Andando to New Zealand and  I will send an email to IMS Yanmar Cape Town and seek advice. I do get the feeling of being messed around Yanmar Sd 20 saildrive and me. I would like any reader to contact me via my email with any advice or recommendations...even sympathy will do!

Trinidad to Panama (Inbetween)

My Skipper commanded nicely that I do not write too much, but how can I put eight days to the Panama Canal in only a couple of sentences? So please, don`t miss out on our fun and games, and make sure that you scroll down the page to the last blog you`ve read before, and do the Chinesey thing and read from bottom to top! Also don`t miss out on Joe`s Blog, now that I am talking about Chinese…

Anyway we are still beating for the fourth day and thank goodness will be in Panama soon! To my non-sailor friends and especially my non-aquatic family I will take the time to explain the term, ” beating.” It is exactly what the word says. Like when you throw four cracked eggs in a bowl, and you take the Moulinex Beater, and you don`t put it on full speed, but just one less, and you put the two twirly metal things in the yellow yolk of the eggs and you switch on the beater, and the white and the yellow starts to blend, and it becomes foamy and frothy… That is exactly what it is to beat! The wind is switched on at one less than top speed, right in front of you, and the swells are on the nose, smashing all over the boat, leaving a salty crystal layer, and inside this bowl is the four little eggs, rolled around into a frothy feeling.

And yes, it is such a long time since the moon interfered into my life cycle, that this constant frothy state had to interfere with my biological clock some way or the other. And don`t think my clock is ticking, but something was surely ticking this morning. We are steering clear of each other, trying to create as much as possible space between us four. I decided to grant me the pleasure of a proper shower and not a basin wishy-washy clean. The thick lather of the fresh green apples filled the shower, to replace the fleshy flavor. I stood there enjoying feeling soft and feminine again, but alas… All of a sudden I was drenched from above with a wave full of salt water. Someone didn`t close the hatch properly!! The apples went! The freshly washed washing at my feet were soaked in salt water! The water washed out of the shower and was now running over the floor, down the alley of the master cabin, to fill up a puddle in the corner on the wooden floor, right at the foot of our bed! I am not a screamer, but I yelled! No one bothered, because they knew you can`t fall over board where I was! I didn`t stop this time. I yelled! Eventually Marco peeked around the corner, and when I asked him for an old deck towel, he only replied that, sorry, he can`t find one. I didn`t stop. I yelled! My husband or was it perhaps my Skipper peeked around the corner. ” Sorry, I am busy sending a message via the SAT phone. Can`t you close the hatch yourself?” By now my estrogen was in a knot, and with one heave I got hold of the very tight handles of the hatch, and with no freaking apples in sight anymore, I was swinging from the handles trying to twist and turn them, only to watch my husband turn around, (it wasn`t my Skipper) his feet wet from the seawater return to the SAT phone. I could only sit there, girls, in a salty shower feeling sorry for myself for a little while, before I had to get up, dry up the floor, rinse out the washing and gasp for fresh air again. Ready to beat the rest of the day!

Important note: To all the creators and designers and architects of this lovely boat! You have to put some kind of barrier at the entrance of the door at the heads. It is always wet, and the water is always going to run down the hall way. I know you think with your port side of your brain, but please save the girls from running after the water, and trouble with their Skipper!

Beating? Beats the hell out of me, how they came up with that word! It is like calling up angry spirits from the Sea, giving them permission to beat you up. Three days of great sailing, one day of a nothingness, only to complete the first leg of our journey with the next four days of beating. But this last morning with the beautiful islands ahead of us…Pan Pan Panama! All hell broke loose! Twenty nautical miles still ahead of us to the entrance, and we were faced with a storm pushing us away from the entrance, back into ocean. Thirty knots of wind on the nose, the fog thick around us, water washing down from the heavens and salt water crashing over the bow…Pan Pan Panama! Beats me!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sailing Andando - Trinidad to Panama (Part 1)

 It was  Monday morning, 3rd of October 2011, and we were ready! I think I was feeling more ready for this crossing than for my own Atlantic crossing. Was it only because I`ve been there before? Was it because I was only allowed a crash course of preparing? I can remember, with Catlyn still brand new and the factory still battling to smooth their first boat out, it took us months to get ready, and then not. It took me months to rent my house, it took me months to say goodbye to my dog…   Now I only had two weeks to get Andando ready to go, and Catlyn ready to stay!

Catlyn stored on the hard at Peakes in Trinidad for 3 months

Andando ready to go

Old friends, new friends and almost friends were holding onto our five mooring lines .With lots of warm hugs and a bag of lollipops from Veronique (Yacht Grainedo) they were just as excited to share our moment. Michelle, and Marco`s friends were waving good bye. Earlier we said good bye to Samuel and Correen, (Yacht Ercolausa) and Marco gave his French girlfriend a shy hug with her brother being the good friend.  The tall lanky Leon from Yacht Isa bowed to a line, while giving us his time, when we know he is busy helping his sister and her family to buy a boat. Mark and Tania, the sellers of the boat, Yacht Blue Diamond, were still looking after Andando with a careful eye. They were excited about what  will be in their new future, and looking forward spending a night in a hotel. Larry and Marlo from Yacht Beatrice, sat on the wall watching us, sharing this moment like Larry shared his precious `boerewors` with Marco. And of course good hearted John was there while Jo-Anne was taking a last photo of us thrilled to be alive! We waved good bye to Martin, the last ex-Andando crew, sitting on Eros,  a beautiful charter yacht, polishing her prestine woodwork. Even Joe got a hug from a blonde…

Everybody waving farewell

The emotions were immense.  I recalled the day ten months ago, December 2010, in Port Owen, SA when Alan and Urshula waved us good bye on our journey… How would we like to see them again !!!

 We have the Big Blue of the Pacific Ocean ahead of us. Our Skipper opened the bottle of Italian champagne. On our own with a prayer in our hearts we blessed Andando, and prayed our family an unforgettable journey!

As soon as we left the protective bay, reality struck in big swells on the beam and squalls all over!

After a night with not a lot of sleep, I stood in the heads, trying to `toothbrush` the foul taste of seasickness out of my mouth, when I looked up into the mirror. My eyes grew wide and big! Right there was a swirling waterspout through the port hole! I stumbled upstairs on unsteady feet to find the rest of the crew gawking at this monster sucking up the water from the sea! The big black clouds and monster were aiming straight towards us! Johan revved up the engines and a little boat tried to get as far away, as it can, from it. It is scary to look at Nature controlling the world,when you are on a little boat on a very big ocean…  Hmm, nice introduction to us, on our first day at sea!

We are lucky with fair winds from behind between 10 and 15 knots ESE most of the time, and Andando is sailing like a dream! Our average speed of 6,5 knots with a maximum of 13,5 knots! Very easily she reaches speed of 7 and 8 knots. I do hope Catlyn is going to lose some weight while standing on the hard in Peakes Yard, Trinidad.

No one else is losing weight or planning to lose some, so we were delighted to enjoy the young Dorado for lunch, cooking it the way Annemarie from Wayne (student friends from some time ago) taught us.

It is already four days at sea, and slowly I am feeling alive again. Very dedicated I started with some stretching exercises, and maybe it is enough for today. 

The crew are taking strain from very little sleep, but as soon as someone spots some dolphins, their energy just flows through all of us, and we cheer them on to entertain us playing around the bow. Joe is bending and stretching low to take some footage to show you the wonderful world we share with dolphins.  Amazing, this little waterproof GOPRO camera he bought.

Thunder and lightning are all around us, giving us a little scare for the past two nights. It is quite a fearful sight when they split open the skies around you, and you know that you have nowhere to hide.

Marco woke up during the night, saw the lightning and still full of sleep, stumbled with his new Nintendo 3DS (birthday present in advance) and popped it in the oven! We can afford to be without a satellite phone or a Garmin handheld, but what are we to do without a Nintendo? That is if lightning struck....

It is already Saturday morning, and when the sun turned the clouds pink in the east The Wind went away. After blowing so nicely for days it decided to take a break. We had to motor the whole day and night. I am sure The Wind was just contemplating on how much He will blow tomorrow? We enjoyed the calm around us....while it last.

Ps. We took our own barbeque with. What is an South African without a barbeque -- no good !!!. Andando is equipped with a lovely barbeque, still safely stacked away in its box. Hopefully our own barbeque will fit in my suitcase...

Our Skipper gave into our begging and we even swam in the blue ocean and Joe used the opportunity to film underwater.

Again as the sun set right in front of us, the lightning started, again all around us. And then The Wind knew what it had to do!  “Change to the West, or South-West is best!” We were faced with strong wind between 14 and 20knots, and sailed close haul with the main and the genoa out.

Little migrating birds were seeking  a safe place to sleep for the night, and somewhere on the vast ocean this white drifting thing gave them shelter from the night and the wind. Four of them seek safety on Andando, and Marco was the happiest boy at sea! They were so exhausted, just reached the safety of the deck and then the boys took them in their hands, and bring them into the boat, and put them safely in a bowl filled with double ply toilet paper.

Three of them were sleeping soundly for the whole night, but the fourth one was somewhere on the upper deck. We were just hoping that he will also be safe when a big wide winged hawk circled Andando, also looking for a place to rest. He tried out the Simrad Radar ball on the mast, but it was just too slippery and he had to settle for the stanchions.  Trying to keep his balance with the wind pumping and the boat rocking, he gave up and circled the boat again. The danbouy has to do.  He was balancing with his wings open wide just above our heads on this long pole swinging and swaying in the wind. We were still entranced by this big bird balancing on this pole, when he sped forward right onto the deck!  He found the forth little swallow!  We sat in awe! We were part of a God catching moment, with a hawk catching moment, with a boys catching swallows moment…
Can somebody please tell us the name of this beautiful bird...we have not seen it ever on the ocean...AND WHILE CATCHING ITS PREY ????

I remember somewhere in the Bible it says something about God looking after the little swallows! With the lightning flashing  and smashing all around us, we felt so safe. God is watching over three little swallows on Andando tonight, and I am sure He won`t mind looking over us as well!

Phoebe, stayed with us when the other two swallows flew away when the sun started to tinge the clouds.  I started searching the boat for little insects, and regretted sweeping the floors yesterday. She was so hungry, that she pecked the few insects I could find on the deck, from my finger. By now I am sure you gathered that Phoebe is the name Marco gave the one little bird who decided to linger for a while longer.  She hopped down the steps to the lower cabins, sitting on the soft bed for a while, having her quiet time, only to fly back to the saloon landing on our laps, our heads or in our lunch. She found a red bean in our stew, and after her tummy was so full she hopped over to the stove, just to sit on the foil and to catch a wink in the gentle heat. She explored everything, the red button on the TV remote fascinated her, or our Skippers` glasses, as soon as he lay down to take a nap.  She hopped out to the aft deck, but quickly returned to the warmth of the saloon, and only when Joe sat at the helm, did she fly out to sit on his lap.

We thought we lost her when she flew off to the blue sky, but she circled and flew right back into the saloon just to rest on my knee again. This little creature was loving us, and we were loving her right back. But late afternoon she gave two shrill chirps, went to sit on each one of our heads, and then she took to the blue sky. We hoped that she would come back, just like the time when she went out to say hallo to another swallow, but this time she really left to carry on with her journey.

I don`t have to tell you that we were sad, and every time we saw a swallow, we hoped… But Phoebe went on her way, but she told all the other swallows she met, about us, and it is a new day today, and already three little swallows are all over the boat, eating our leftovers from breakfast…

Two days later and Andando became the shelter for the homeless! She is sheltering four free spirits, taking them on an unforgettable voyage, creating a memory forever. She sheltered 14 little birds up to date.  They flew in and out of the saloon, shared our breakfast or lunch, and sipped the spilled (on purpose) water on the kitchen top. Some stay for a while and some are even sleeping over on the drying rack, just to leave us again, with their little wings flapping around us in a farewell.