September 30, 2010

Texan Thong

The sky is baby blue with a few puffy white clouds on the horizon. The ocean is a deep dark blue with ripples on top and gentle small rolling slopes which is creating a beautiful contrast to the sky. The wind is just like a warm summer breeze coming across the beam of our boat and keeping me at a perfect temperature. All of our sails are out and getting enough breeze to keep them full and not flogging. Artemo is gently leaning to one side and cutting through the water at a very comfortable pace. I was starting to wonder if I had been lying way back when I said that I liked sailing. Now I remember finally what I liked about it! It is so nice to be sailing and not to be scared and looking for the next squall. Graham and I have been able to sleep in the cockpit for the past few nights and the star filled sky has been breathtaking.

All of us are happy. Life is normal on board. Amelia is making bracelets. Jules from Simpatica taught her how to make lanyard pulls (similar to mac-ro-may) and she took this skill and converted it into very cool and trendy bracelets! I am the proud recipient of the first one. Alex has been busying himself with making lures, changing out lines, making daisy chains (double hooks), pondering different types of bait and dreaming of fish.

We have been checking in on the SSB every 6 hours and chatting with Simpatica and Scotch Bonet. Yesterday we were all remarking how nice it was to have such a light breeze and how it was the perfect weather for an ocean swim. Artemo sails well in the light winds and given this we were making miles on Simpatica. Louis suggested that once we caught up we should have an ocean swim party! You can just imagine how excited the kids were. All day we plotted our course to make an intercept with them. Pretty cool that we were able to find them. Once they were in eye sight it seemed to take forever to get up to them. The whole time I am wondering what the heck is going to happen once we get there. Once we are close we see Louis jump in the water with his trade mark Texan thong! As we pull up closer Louis holds up a rope and tells Graham just to grab it and tie up and we will just drift along with Simpatica.

Louis makes it all seem so easy. If it wasn't for him I am 100% sure there would of been no open ocean swimming! The swell was pushing us up on Simpatica and I had to put her hard in reverse. We did managed to tie up and it was so weird to be attached to another boat in the middle of the ocean. I knew what was coming next....the kids wanted in the water. We untied the ladder and they all got in. I stayed in the boat and made sure we had no collisions. Graham was a bit nervous. He said he knew the chances of something getting you out here were very slim but it still was a bit unsettling. I watched as the three of them and Louis hung onto the rope in 15000 feet of water. YIKES.

Once they were all safely back on board I knew I couldn't let the moment pass and not have a dip. I climbed down the ladder by myself and submerged myself. YAHOO! I screamed out in joy......if mom could see me now!

We are about 3 miles behind Simpatica now. We are so hoping we can catch up to them and PASS EM! We want to give them the Perry moon show! Fingers crossed for us.

September 28, 2010

Big Things Come In Little Packages

by: Graham (Can you believe it???)

We have all been enjoying our stay in Rose Island and so far the American Coast Guard has not shown up to kick us out. We are so happy we were able to stop here as the weather finally looks favorable to continue. At the beginning of this season we were in an El Nino and now we have a strong La Nina in the Pacific. We are waiting to find out how this will effect us and our journey to New Zealand.

Today we had the best day ever. The few boats that are here organized snorkel and island adventures and we were off all morning. Sure this is the worlds smallest atoll, but that is where the word "small" stops. Alex and I were snorkeling in 4 feet of water when a five and a half foot Giant Trevally swims by. Alex tells me from his fish book that this is as big as they get. Needless to say he was just in for a look at the newcomers and was not in the least worried about us. Yesterday snorkeling near the pass there was a six plus foot grouper there and man was he a big fish and he would have weighed in at several hundred pounds.

After a lunch break on the boat, it was time for the boys to come out and play all by ourselves. We started to circle the inside of the lagoon and stop at these giant pinnacles that come up from the bottom of around 60 feet right to the surface and look like giant mushrooms from below. One after another we would stop at, drop anchor on the top and snorkel. Each one was unique but there were always sharks around us, massive schools of fish and brilliant coral. We came across giant turtles and on the last pinnacle, we found the remains of a humpback whale on the bottom.

From the pinnacle we went right out onto the outer reef where the water was flowing over like a mountain stream. You had to step up to get on it, and the constant water had eroded the coral to a smooth surface. The sharks in this lagoon have no fear of humans like in other places and are very aggressive. You really get the feeling they are just waiting for an opportunity:)

Now for the finale of the day, we went to check out the pass where we brought Artemo into the lagoon. The wind and waves had subsided considerably now and the pass looked reasonably safe. We decided we wanted to snorkel the pass and lined ourselves up and jumped in. We put out lines from the dingy to hang on to and began at the entrance of the inside. Soon we were flying through the pass with massive schools of fish, sharks and at least a dozen turtles. What a rush this was as Alex proclaimed it as his best day ever! It was not long and we were in 200 feet of water in the open ocean in near perfect visibility. What a rush! We are just now coming into our element where activities like this seem like a reasonable risk. A couple of months ago, I would never have done this unless with a organized tour.

We finished the night off with a pot-luck dinner on our new friends boat, Rolando and Sarah from Lebanon. These guys love their fish and would rather eat the head and roe than the other bits we eat. We feasted on a large jack head. We would have had the entire body of the fish to eat if the sharks had not gotten to it before he could land it in the boat! A true story that ended with Alex and Rolando eating the best part of the fish... the eyes! Yes sir, Alex was in their and said it tasted awesome. (Alex also wanted to add that he ate its tongue and its very small brain to!)

Such a treat to have been able to visit the thousands of birds on the small island. At the end of the day, I would never recommend going into that pass unless in very calm conditions and high tide. We left the lagoon in these conditions and it was a much easier exit than it was on the way in.

We will post pics when we get internet. We are now enroute to Tonga and hope to arrive in a couple of days.

ps.....moments ago Alex made himself a homemade lure by using Amelia's pink craft feathers, her glitter, shiny string and other bits...he then put it out and not 2 minutes after it is in the water he gets a Mahi! He reeled it up to the back of the boat and we all admired it within arms reach. He then asked Graham to take the line while he gaffed it and then just as he misses the gills on the first go we watch as it wriggles free of the hook and swims to freedom. Needless to say that homemade lure production is in full swing on board Artemo!!!

September 25, 2010

Free with a fill

Here we are at the world's smallest atoll, out in the middle of the ocean. We aren't suppose to be here. It is a deserted isle and a protected National Biological Reserve.....closed to the public but not to us. It is part of America Samoa so technically we are on American waters. I won't mention the name just in case they are searching the net to find any trespassers but I will say...the name is the name of a flower that people give as a sign of has thorns on it and the last time I got one from Graham it was free with a fill. LOL....seriously though.

Our sail here still wasn't that picture perfect sailing that we always imagined across the South Pacific....."The Milk Run" we heard it referred to......NOT. Still we should be grateful it was better than our last sail. The wind was behind us and blowing at about 25 knots with gusts and squalls pushing past 35 knots at times. Yucky but now strangely enough tolerable for the Perry clan. We averaged between 6.5 and 7 knots the whole way and we were severely reefed nice to be able to see the miles tick down quickly.

The pass into this atoll is INSANE!!! I guess since no one is suppose to stop here the charts are way OFF. Luckily we already had a few friends who had made it inside and they gave us a series of waypoints. Alex was begging us to let him fish through the pass since this is where the fish love to hang out. I am not sure why but we reluctantly agreed. He decided to shorten his line right up and try his cedar plug lure (Alex says...thank you High Five for the advice on the plug). Not moments after he gets it out and he is holding the line in his hand he feels the line cut at his skin. He quickly grabs the hand reel and yells at Graham. I slow the boat right down since we are almost on top of the first waypoint. They pull the fish in so quickly and Amelia passed Graham the rum in a flash. The beautiful yellow fin tuna laid beside me as I continue on into our trickiest pass yet.

Louis on Simpatica and Rolando on another boat came out to the pass in their dinghy to guide us in. When Artemo hit the first of the ebbing currents our bow began erratically moving from side to side. Louis was on the radio to get her under control and stay as close to the sharp jagged reef on my port side as I could since I would be pushed away from it. The pass was really narrow and in a zig zag. The current against us was about 6 knots. It was difficult to keep Artemo under control and still moving forward. I was in my "Power Zone" and even yelled out loud to Artemo, "Come on now! This is your f#$^&* time."

Alex was watching on our port side, Graham on our starboard and Amelia was reading out our speed and depth every few seconds. The reef was so close to our port side you could of touched it with a stick. Nearing the end the current was to much and our speed was dropping. Graham let out the head sail and .....whoosh....we had enough power to make it through. A huge sense of relief washed over me as we made the final turn and were in the safety of the open lagoon. As I reflect now on our pass I wish we could of video taped the four of us working so seamlessly together. We were a fine tuned machine working as a team. This moment was actually a culmination of these pass few months on board and all of us knowing our role and our value. Very cool.

Once we were safe and sound at anchor Alex went to work on the tuna. Once he was finished he took the carcass and attached a rope to the tail and hung it just above the water. There are a ton of very large black tip reef sharks here and we watched as they jumped out of the water and took chunks from the remains of this fish. It was actually quite frightening how easily they could snap through it.

Once we had cleaned ourselves and Artemo up from passage Graham announced on the vhf that it was time for a sushi party on Artemo and everyone was welcome. We had so much fun. Our new friend Ureko gave us a few new techniques for making the rolls. I was shocked as we all downed plate after plate of rolls and sashimi. The entire tuna is gone.

We plan on staying here until the winds die down. I am done with high wind sailing. I am staying until I see 15 knots!!! Mark my words :-). We will respect the fact that this is a wildlife sanctuary and we will try not to even leave any footprints of our stay here.

September 21, 2010

Gone Fishing

Today at 6:30 am I left to go fishing. The night before Appi the park ranger had told me that he might go fishing the next day and that I could come. Of course I said, "yes!", so away we left to go fishing. Another man named Rolando came with us to.

We started trawling with two big offshore fishing lines on the sides of the boat and one hand line off the middle. Almost immediately Appi who was holding the handline caught a fish. His expression showed that it was a small fish but then as it was close to the boat; as quick as a flash a shark bit onto the lure!

Now Appi was really holding on. He got the shark close to the boat and we saw the fin. It was a gray reef shark, the most vicious out of the three types of reef sharks. When it was close to the boat we scooped it into a net. The hook then fell out of the sharks mouth and we started fishing again.

The pass we were fishing through is very wide and in parts is very rough. The sun was just a golden shimmer on the horizon. A very amazing sunrise. Rolando caught the first fish. He reeled it in while Appi caught one too. Rolando then lifted the fish into the boat. It was a barracuda and later I found it in our fish book and it was called a Bigeye Barracuda. They are a long and skinny fish, very ugly with razor blade teeth.

Apii then pulled up yet another barracuda. We trawled a while longer and Appi and Rolando both caught another barracuda. Now it was my turn to catch a fish. The fish struck the rod and pulled me forward. Appi said, "pull the rod back". This set the hook in its mouth. I slowly reeled it in and it turned out to guessed it a Barracuda. We trolled for a while longer but we never caught anything else. I had a great time and I would definitely do it again.

Tonight we will share our catch with everyone at a big pot luck on shore. I am looking forward to it.

September 19, 2010

King of the Crab Hunt

James and Appi (the two park rangers) arranged for us all to go crab hunting the other day. We all met on the beach at about 10 am and James let us know how the day would play out including the park guidelines etc.

James wears his hair up in a bun on top of his head and has a full long beard. He has a huge belly with an enormous tattoo covering it. He is one of these people whose eyes are so happy that you know right away you are going to like him. He has a big laugh and is missing a few teeth. You feel an instant respect for him and for me anyway I wanted him to like me. His body is covered with tattoos. He told me later that when he was 14 his 12 year old brother tattoo'd him with little markings all over his body and once he was old enough he had nicer tattoo's put on to cover up his brother's handy work.

James described how we would travel by boat to one of the other motu's and then hike across the island and through the shallows to the coconut crab hunting area. He demonstrated on Alex how we would rip the crabs backs off to kill them. Since there were about 30 of us he said we needed to catch about 15 for a pot luck dinner.

Next James assistant Appi blessed the day. As many of you know I am not religious but I have to tell you I love the warmth of a group of people with heads bowed all thinking together about positive thoughts for the day. Absolutely beautiful on the beach of Suwarrow. Appi said the blessing in his native language and it was mesmerizing. Appi also exudes a warmth but his warmth comes from his smile rather than his eyes. He is so willing to share his knowledge and he also loves to laugh. It seems that these two men are fast friends with everyone. We feel very lucky to have met them.

Away we all went in 3 different boats. The hike was long and so HOT. We have had so many rain days that now that the sun has finally come out it is really hot and humid. When we finally reached the crab hunting area I was in for a big surprise. I had just assumed that we would be grabbing them along the reef. I guess I should have realized that "Coconut" crab means that they eat coconuts but I never clued in. Appi took us all into the deep brush of the island. The palms scratched our legs and we crawled over the trees and brush. It felt like a safari. He led us to the bottom of a tree that has the roots exposed like a teepee above the ground. In this mini prison he pointed out our first Coconut Crab.

Next he demonstrated how we would grab the massive crab out of his dark hiding place (without having the pincher's take a finger off) and then rip its back off and kill it. I forgot to mention that prior to this he had split us into teams of 4 people each and each team had to catch 3 5lb crabs. He put the Perry 4 together. Given this as Appi is wrestling the crab out and then killing it, I am thinking....."oh shit...we have to do this!" Luckily Alex was thinking, "Cool, we get to do this!"

Once the demonstration was over we were on our own. Graham describes the way Alex approached the hunt "like a hound dog". He was climbing over stuff, crawling on the ground, reaching in holes, poking his stick around....he was on a mission. Finally he spotted our first one and with no fear he poked and prodded and got the crab out. He then didn't even hesitate and ripped the back off! Alex the King of the Crab Hunt. We were all so thrilled. We were thinking, "Wow, our first crab within 5 minutes! This wasn't that hard."

We couldn't of been more wrong. We kept finding crabs but Appi had instructed us only to capture the big ones. Finally we spotted another big enough to catch. This time was Graham's turn....our fearless Captain and it turns out that our fearless Captain is afraid of Coconut Crabs! lol. He finally says, "Ok, Alex get in there". We managed to find 3 more after that!

The day was a success and we left with our 15 crabs. For me the best part of the day was eating them. Appi roasted them (shell on) on an open fire and we all made up pot luck dishes to accompany. James stood and cracked open all the crabs with ease for us as we dished up our plates. I have never seen it look so easy. He waited til everyone was well fed before he dished in.

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of our provisions and still eating like kings. We ate and ate and ate and of course we drank. A really great party. A highlight for me was when one of the French cruisers broke into a French song from my childhood called, "Aloe'etta". Everyone joined in and belted it out and it was such a hoot. We are having such a good time here that we don't even want to think about leaving just yet.

September 18, 2010

Spiders or Sharks

Artemo is surrounded by sharks. At any given time there are 4 to 6 black tip reef sharks circling our boat. This poses a bit of a problem since our method of getting clean is sea baths. Alex thinks it is pretty cool and as I did laundry on the back deck the other day he swam around the boat. It was strange to keep looking up to make sure he was safe and see Alex and then see the sharks. I told him to speak to me every minute or so, so that I didn't freak out. Later in the day I asked him to spot for me (basically wear his snorkel mask and watch for sharks) while I took a bath. Unfortunately on this occasion one of the black tips decided it would be fun to play a game of chicken with Alex and made a b-line right for him. He jumped up in the dinghy faster than I had ever seen him move. Regardless bath time was OVER.

Suwarrow is a really cool deserted island with a neat history. A man named Tom Neale came to live alone on this island in the 50's, 60's and 70's. He ended up writing a book about the adventures he had setting up his life here. It is titled "An island onto oneself". It is definitely worth a read. I love imagining him here and being able to put real images to each moment as he has described it in his book.

There are now 2 park rangers who stay on the island for the cruising season and there is a club house and cook shack where everyone hangs out. The rangers are from Rarotonga and are unbelievably nice and organize outings and pot lucks. When we checked in they said we were free to use the showers on the islands so given the fact that bathing with the sharks wasn't appealing this is what we set out to do!

The shower is at the back of the club house and has no light and is quite dark. I had Graham connect the wires for the pump and away I went. I forgot to bring my regular glasses, so I had on my prescription sunglasses. I basically showered in the darkness. It was still wonderful. Once I had finished Amelia had her shower. After about 10 minutes I found her and her pile of stuff outside of the shower room doing the "weebie geebie" dance. She said there was a HUGE spider in the bathroom. The biggest spider she had ever seen and she kept repeating, "It was furry, furry!" She was FREAKING out. Graham went in the room and managed to get the spider out and I watched as it scurried up the wall. It was huge and yes it was furry. Totally terrifying. I realized that I must of showered with it to!

Once Amelia had calmed down I asked her to describe what had happened. She said that she finished her shower and her clothes were hanging on the back of the door. She went to reach for them and she spotted the huge spider in the shadows on the wall. The problem was that she was naked. Outside the shower room all the cruisers were gathering for the potluck. Her options were....stay with scary spider and dress OR run out naked in front of cruisers. She opted for taking her chances with the spider. She said she kept her eyes on the spider and carefully put on her clothes. She then grabbed everything up in a frenzy, exited the room and proceeded to have her break down!

So now each day we are faced with the question as bath time comes round......"Spiders or Sharks?"

September 17, 2010

I do not like green eggs and ham

The morning we arrived in Suwarrow Simpatica called over and offered us fresh water showers on their deck. This was like offering us a trip to Disneyland. Graham didn't even hesitate with his quick, "YES" reply!

We spent a few hours organizing the chaos on board, sleeping and checking in. At about 4pm Louis picked us all up. I am sure it must of been quite the sight to see all four of us on his back steps all lathered up and oohing and aahing. Louis even gave us the hot water hose. Can you believe it???? Glorious, glorious hot water. OMG it felt so good. Graham said it felt like he was washing away 3 days of stress.

Once we were all clean, fresh and dry Louis slid open the patio doors and welcomed us in to the air conditioned salon. It felt like we were entering another world full of all those creature comforts we were all craving. We all stretched out on the cozy couch, poured the wine and toasted our safe arrival.

Alex brought over our massive Mahi Mahi to get filleting lessons from Louis. They cleared off the counter and got out the filleting knife. Louis is great with the kids. He would first show Alex how and then let him go at it. He was so encouraging that Alex wanted to do well. Each time he needed some course correction Louis would do it in a way that didn't cripple his pride. I watched and learned not only how to fillet a Mahi but how to "teach" my kids.

Once the Mahi was all filleted Jules informed us that we were staying for dinner. Yippee the day was just getting better and better. They had caught a HUGE 60lb tuna on the way and had a beautiful cut of tuna to share for dinner. Jules got to work bustling all over the kitchen and all the while involving Amelia and getting her to help out. Between the two of them the first thing they laid out beautifully presented was fresh slices of tuna, pickled ginger, soya sauce and washbi. It looked like what you would get at a gourmet restaurant. All the while as they are preparing it I am thinking to myself...."YUCK"! Once it was all laid out Louis was in shock to learn that Amelia and I had never ate raw fish. All of sudden out of nowhere Amelia says, "That's it, I am trying it!" I was abandoned. She took a big piece and she loved it.

Well there I was on my own little island. I knew I couldn't stay there. All eyes were on me. I had to jump out of my comfort zone and try the dreaded "Raw Fish". I was thinking in my head....."I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am."

With my chopsticks in hand I took a piece of fish with a piece of pickled ginger and dipped it in the soya/washbi and now the moment was here. I put the whole thing in my mouth preparing to be disgusted and then to my shock the most amazing beautiful delicious taste filled my mouth. I DO, I DO LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM.....screamed through my head. I couldn't get enough of it. We all devoured the plate. What else have I been missing? I ask you....hmmmm

All the while Jules and Amelia were making sushi as we drank and ate. They made beautiful rolls and for the first time EVER I ate sushi rolls that weren't california rolls and they were so good. You might think at this point that we would be all stuffed but the eating continued. Earlier Jules had taken Alex's Mahi and chopped some up and made Ceviche and had this chilling in the fridge. Ceviche is basically raw Mahi, lime juice, onions, and a Louisiana spice. Again in my head I was thinking I had overcome enough need to push my luck. Jules wasn't having any of it and prepared the cracker for me. My love for it wasn't as instant as the Sashimi but soon enough you could see me preparing cracker after cracker. YUM YUM YUM.

Still the feast wasn't over. Next Louis took the Mahi fillets and fried them up with the Louisiana spice. I don't know how anyone had room to get this down. The fillets were accompanied by a yummy fresh tomato concoction that we hadn't even realized was simmering on the stove since we had arrived.

As we all sat around the table totally satisfied and stuffed...Louis says, "Who is up for chocolate milk shakes for desert?"!!!!! We really shouldn't have but WE DID. We completed the evening with chocolate gooey's accompanied by chocolate milk shakes! Are we in heaven or what?

I am not sure how we are going to top this evening on Artemo but we are sure going to try. The people out here make this journey so much more fun. I find that we are so much more open to including people in our lives out extended family. I am not sure if this can be replicated when we get back home but I am sure going to try because the friendships are SO WORTH IT!

Thank you Louis and Jules for a night we won't soon forget!

Do not trust the weather files

We knew that the sail to Suwarrow would be challenging but we had no idea HOW challenging. This was the first time we headed out in such high winds and overcast conditions but the weather files we had received promised that lighter winds were on the way.

We raised our small storm sail, a spiff of main sail and a spiff of the missen. It had been a long time since we had sailed with both the wind and waves at our side. It felt strange and foreign and I won't lie to you I was a bit scared. We kept telling ourselves that this was the worst of it and soon light winds would be with us. The wind was consistently over 25 knots and as each squall would pass through it would blast substantially higher. The worst part was that we were only doing about 3 knots. The waves were so high and forward of the beam that they slowed us right down. We tried raising more sail but given the huge wind Artemo would heal so far over that the port deck was under water. We had never seen so much water running over the decks. I could just reach out of the cockpit and be touching the ocean.

The sounds down below were unsettling. I am sure they are normal but we hadn't heard them in so long. The bashing of waves against the hull at the front. It sounded like we had collided with something. We would all brace ourselves and look to Graham for a "it's ok" nod. For the first time ever we took a huge wave down below. We had the door in the companionway but we didn't have the sliding lid shut. A rogue wave hit us and water was everywhere. Alex was in the cockpit tethered in and took the worst of it. I was in shock and it was a lesson learned. We took many more waves into the cockpit on the trip. Water was everywhere. The tiniest drip down below would overtime cause "wet bed".

Since we hadn't felt this motion in so long we were all sea sick, even Graham. Alex and I were the only ones to woof our cookies. We would both try and make it to the cockpit in time.....sometimes we weren't quick enough. The boys took to peeing in a bucket since it was so much effort to travel from the cockpit to the bathroom and then to go. We all wore the same clothes for the 3 days. On the first day we had some pre-cooked chicken that Graham managed to throw in the oven to heat up. I passed us each out a piece in bowl for dinner. None of us could really eat but Alex was starving. He dug in immediately and after about 5 bites he says...."mom can you take a look at this". It was dark down below but I had a head lamp on. I shone the light on the meat and could see blood. I freaked out and felt even more sick. A fight between Graham and I ensued as I begged Alex to make himself throw up and Graham told me not to be so crazy. (fyi...Alex was fine and didn't throw up)

During all of this Alex continued to fish. We had no idea what we would do if he caught one. There was no way the boys could of gone on deck to reel it in and clean it. On day two Graham heard the dreaded words...."I caught a fish Dad!" Graham was laying down below and told Alex that we would just have to drag it for a while til it was dead. Alex and I watched up on deck as it fought and jumped from the water. It was huge. Graham could hear us oouing and ahhing on deck and he said after that he was so hoping the fish would win the fight and he wouldn't have to bring it on board and clean it. Luckily he got his wish and Alex watched as the line went from tight to loose. He was so sad. He brought in the lure and the fish had ate half of it and taken one of the hooks. He had double hooked the line, so there was still half a lure and a hook on it. He spit on the lure and back out it went.

On day three he landed the biggest fish yet on that half eaten lure....a five foot Mahi Mahi. Luckily he landed it during the calmest part of the voyage. Winds were still 25 knots but the sky was blue. The boys cut off the head and tail and quickly gutted it. The threw it in two huge long bread bags and put it in the fridge to deal with once we were safely at anchor.

On the morning of our arrival we were hit with the worst squall yet. Normally Artemo could manage each squall without us having to reduce sail since we were already reefed in but this squall hit with such a force that we were battered down towards the sea. We yelled at the kids down below to get on their life jackets and we secured the hatches. We knew we had to go forward and bring down the storm sail but conditions were just so crazy that the thought of one of us going forward was way to scary. We were using our windvane to steer us because our auto pilot had given out due to the high winds 2 nights before. We decided to turn off the windvane, hand steer and run with the squall. The strange part was that we were in sight of the island but this brought us no feeling of peace since the squall was pushing us towards the reef. Once we had Artemo turn away from the wind I tried to hold her on course. I was shocked how hard this was in the high high winds. Graham went forward and lowered the sail. We rode out the worst of the squall and were so happy to finally see it pass.

We finally made our way to the pass for the island and it was much easier to get in then we anticipated. We made it to the anchorage and just as we laid the anchor down the wind blasted to 50 knots. Can you believe it? Luckily Artemo was well set and now here we sit safe and sound and reflecting on our journey. Trying to think...."Cup half full" and all I can come up with is that the universe felt we needed the sailing experience. If things are always good then how do you learn....right? and I guess challenges do seem to also bring us all even closer. Oh and they also make the good times even sweeter.

We called over to Simpatica once we arrived. They had arrived a full day before us. We all love to hear Louis's take on things. Again in his fabulous Texan accent he says, "It like we were shot at and missed, and shit at and hit.".....Yup, this pretty much sums it up!

ps....don't trust the weather files!

September 15, 2010

Mass Stripping Frenzy

I love the moments out here when I can actually see the kids surpassing my knowledge and comfort level. I found when we were back home these moments would usually slip by and I wouldn't really notice them. Out here they are so often defined by action, that they are hard to miss.

The morning we left Palmerston we readied Artemo for passage. We tied up the ladder, attached all the splash guards, did up the gates, stored away all the gear and prepared to lift the anchor. Just as we were about to turn on the engine Alex spotted whales not to far off. We postponed a few moments and just watched in awe. All of sudden the kids realized they were coming towards us. In a flash Amelia jumps down below and begins throwing up their snorkel gear. I was in shock. She says, "This time we are getting in with them!"

Alex thought this was a great idea to and there was a mass stripping frenzy and snorkel gear flying. I told Graham to hurry, hurry. I told him he had to get in with them. There was no time for him to go get swim trunks, since the kids were going. He just had time to whip off his shirt before the kids had jumped over board into the ocean with the WHALES!!!

My heart was RACING! "Get in Graham, get in", I was shouting. The winds were really high and I worried about the current. Alex wasn't waiting for no one. He swam off ahead. Graham jumped in and grabbed Amelia's hand. I tried to watch from deck as I could see HUGE whales and the three most important people in my life snorkeling next to them. Unbelievably amazing. I ran around untying the ladder, attaching a long rope off the back of the boat given the current, getting their fins to pass to them, getting the camera and all the while trying to take it all in. Attempting to do all these things with tear filled eyes was very difficult.

I was just so proud and in awe of my kids. Even despite all my freaky worrying over protective ways they have become fearless adventurous young people. I am so thankful for this.

Once the whales moved off and they climbed back on board. They describe how beautiful it was to watch the whales from under the water. There was no blasting of the wind....just peaceful calm. Alex said that it he loved that he could check out the spots on the whales and their eyes. They said it was a mama whale and a baby. Amelia was so excited. I am sure you can all imagine her excitedly loud fast talking about all she had seen.

Moments like these fill me up. I didn't manage to get any photos but I can tell you that these images will never be forgotten. Man I love these kids.

September 11, 2010

Dead Fish

Well I thought I should write and let you all know where we are headed next. Today our 3 day visa expired at Palmerston. We hate to leave but the weather looks like it is just going to be getting worse if we wait and we aren't sure how long they will keep extending the visa, so tomorrow will be our departure date.

We had intended on continuing west and stopping at Niue and then on to Tonga but the problem is that Nuie is another open ocean anchorage and again there are only a few mooring balls available. Given the forecasted high winds we would much rather be in a well protected anchorage for the big blow coming through. We looked at options and we see that we could go straight North to a island named Suwarrow. It is part of the Northern Cook Islands. It is suppose to be stunning and deserted. There are only 2 park rangers who live there. It is also suppose to be a well protected place to stop. The problem with this option is that the seas/waves will be on our beam for the 2 day sail and this will be uncomfortable! We all sat down and made our pros and cons list and we decided on Suwarrow. Another pro is that we can then continue West and visit the American Samoa's and reprovision on some of the nice to have items we are running low on......such as chocolate, nuts, pickles and trail mix. It is suppose to be the promise land with Costco and Walmart style stores! We could also visit Western Samoa which is back to the beautiful beaches and great snorkeling. From there we would continue on to Tonga and back on course to New Zealand.

Tomorrow we will start out pointed at Suwarrow but if we find it to uncomfortable then we will change our plan and point West at Niue and put the wind and wave on our back! Regardless I would so much rather be heading off in reasonable winds. I hate leaving in 25+ knots of winds but it really isn't a comfortable anchorage here at sea and as the seas grow is going to get worse, so away we will go.

We spent today cooking and preparing for voyage. We know it is going to be rough and we don't want another repeat of the last trip. We made bread, chicken, rice and lentil burger's. We also made pizza and cinnamon buns but these all got eaten at dinner!

I know I already "OMG'd" you about the whales we saw yesterday but today they came right...and I mean right....beside the boat, huge humpback whales! The size of them is overwhelming. The huge tail fin is so beautiful as it come up and out of the water and then they plunge beneath the sea. Graham took some video footage. I hope it turned out. We just couldn't believe it as they swam towards us and then alongside Artemo and then underneath us and off to Simpatica. WAY COOL!

The winds blew like crazy today but Graham still managed to take the kids out for a snorkel on the outer reef. Our dinghy isn't inflated so it worried me to have them off so far with no way for me to rescue them. Luckily they are all amazing swimmers. They all came back saying how great the snorkel was. They said it was like fields of rolling hills of coral, that rose from the deep water up to the shallow reef. They said it was like nothing they had ever seen before. Oh the other thing they were able to do was have a look at the toilet intake on Artemo. Yesterday we notice a dead fish smell in the bathroom. Graham took a long stick and stuck it up the intake and a couple small fish swam out....they were alive....nothing else came out. I am sure there is one way up there and dead. The smell is getting worse. I spent a good amount of time tonight pumping and pumping, hoping to release it. It seems a bit better but still not perfect. I will see how it smells in the morning. If we have to start using a bucket as our toilet I may jump ship!

We will let you know en route how things are going and which direction we are headed.

Thinking of you

September 10, 2010

Little Hell for a Piece of Heaven

I can't possibly do these past 2 days justice in a blog. I would say though that they have been the best days of our cruising experience thus far. I will NEVER forget these moments. I will do my best to bring you all up to speed...

When we finally reached Palmerston there were no mooring balls but we were told that it should be ok to anchor. Basically Palmerston is a few small islands surrounded by a reef. There is a nice calm inner lagoon, as there has been on many of the other islands but the problem is that there isn't a large enough pass to get into the inner lagoon with a sailboat and the depth is only 4 feet or less in many parts. Given this, all the sailboats are tied up to mooring balls on the outside of the the open ocean! Since there were no balls left for us, we brought Artemo right up close to the reef and dropped the hook in 7 meters of depth and then the depth drops off to over 100 meters within only a few feet. Here in lies the problem.....if the wind shifts so that we are not being blown away from reef but rather on to it....then YIKES....we will have a huge problem. For now the wind continues to be strong and from the South no problem! (knock on wood for us)

We anchored right beside a Canadian tall ship named Picton Castle. Graham could not believe our luck to be in Palmerston with the Picton Castle. Many years ago when this dream wasn't even a spark in his imagination he watched a Canadian documentary series called, "Tall Ship Chronicles". This show tweaked his interested in sailing and it was on one of these shows that they went to Palmerston...the first time he had ever heard of this place. Now all these years later here we were anchored next to them. You can imagine how special this was.

Our luck continued and the next morning the Picton Castle invited everyone from the island and all of the cruisers over to their boat for a huge goodbye celebration. I made up a batch of chocolate gooey's and we were off to the the tall ship. We were the last people to arrive. There must of been over a 100 people total onboard. We were all a bit overwhelmed as we climbed up over the side of the huge ship. I stepped on deck with my bowl of chocolate gooey's and I looked around for where I could put them...each step I took the islanders grabbed cookies....I was surrounded in a mass feeding frenzy....totally crazy moment. Finally I was able to put the bowl down and leave the crowd and take everything in. totally wild. The ship is totally traditional...even the stove is from 1863.....big old black thing. The ship was packed with the town and all the crew and many familiar cruising friends faces. A number of dances were put on and the ukulele's and singing accompanied them. The kids made fast friends with all the local kids. They were all so lovable. During one of the dances I started to look around at the crowd. I could see the happy young energetic crew members excited to be heading off on their voyage later in the day. I could see many of the islanders with tears in their eyes since one of the girls was going with the Picton Castle on a 14 month circumnavigation. I could see the small children singing along and doing the dance steps....even though they weren't up in front of everyone. I could see above me....up on the top of the ship...Amelia and Alex with many many kids looking down at the show.....huge smiles on their faces. I could see our friends Louis and Jules from Simpatica on the other side of the ship with their arms around each other as they watched. Finally my eyes found Graham in the crowd....he had found a nice spot for himself in the back and I watched as he took it all in ....he looked so happy....made me feel so good for him to be a part of this. The universe is constantly surprising me.

After the party we were brought into the island. The way they work it here is that each sailboat is hosted by a family on the island. The family takes care of you while you are here. Their generosity is really unbelievable. Our host families names are Edward and Shirley and their two kids David and John. Edward shuttles us back and forth between our boat and the island while we are here. When we are on the island we are his guest.....basically the same way family would be if they visited. We went to his house and we sat and visited. Then Edward and Shirley went to work preparing us a huge feast. Their son David took us on a tour of the small island. The island has a cool history and it is definitely worth a google. One of the things that I find the most interesting is that they have no problem giving away their babies. Shirley gave her sister her baby girl and she said it is really common. Often times children will even give their first born child to their parents. When I ask the kids how many brothers or sisters they have....many of them answer...that they have so many brothers and sisters, and so many cousins who are living with them like brothers and sisters and also so many feeding brother and sisters".....the feeding kids are basically just kids who come and eat all the meals with them but don't sleep at their homes. Needless to say it has been a VERY interesting couple of days. They welcome you into their lives and expect nothing in return. Shirley had me bring in all my laundry today and let me us the washing charge...and before I realized it she had even hung it up for me. She took me aside yesterday and told me how much she loved my chocolate gooey's and apologized for eating so many on the Picton Castle. I had to laugh. I told her how happy I was she enjoyed them and that I would make her more.

Today we brought in a huge chocolate cake for Alex's birthday party and Edward and Shirley made another feast. We had a birthday celebration that I don't think Alex will soon forget. We were invited to the school and we had such a good time there. Alex played soccer with the boys. The smaller children climbed all over Graham. A really cute boy took me into his outdoor classroom and showed me his desk and all of his work. He was just so proud. Another girl with quite the sense of humor told me how she was the oldest child, so she was basically everyone in her families slave! She said that if she didn't do everything just right then she would get a beating (she didn't use the word was a word that started with an a stitching...or something) ....anyway she said she would either get the belt, the broom, the palm frawn, or a wooden spoon. I asked which she preferred and she said the broom since it sprung back. Yikes eh.

Later in the day we went for a snorkel. The underwater world here is beautiful. Right off the beach you can see beautiful coral, sharks, rays, turtles, grouper, parrot fish and the list goes on. Amelia and I snorkeled until we came across a shark and then we began making our way back. The boys said they saw 2 aggressive white tip sharks. Most often the sharks don't even take notice of you and just swim away. They said that these 2 began to circle them and one got his back curled up. Graham and Alex kept their eyes on them and backed out of their territory. Alex said it was the first time he felt a bit scared by a shark.

Last night Edward brought us back to our boat just before sunset. We were all just trying to come down from such an awesome day when we heard over the radio....."we got whales out here!"....We all jumped out on deck and way off on the other side of the anchorage we see the big spouts of water but they are quite far. Alex stays up on deck and the rest of us go back down. A while later Alex calls us ....."they are right behind our boat!!!" OMG....HUGE whales.....3 of them. We all stood at the back cheering and clapping and jumping. The whales came up and down and up and down and spouts of water....everything I had always hoped for. WOW, what a day. I called Louis on the radio and told him that Palmerston was everything he promised it would be. He replied in his fantastic Texan accent...."Darlin, sometimes you have to endure a little hell to have a piece of heaven!"

ps...We went through all of our supplies and put together a bunch of stuff for Edward and Shirley. They haven't had a cargo ship here in 8 months so supplies are running low. We were happy to be able to give them sugar, flour, rice, cake mixes, drink crystals (would you believe that this was on the top of their list), muffin mixes, candy and a bunch of gasoline. I am finding it hard to sleep at night, so many thoughts going through my the top of the list though is....I am grateful, I am grateful, I am grateful

September 07, 2010

Storm Warning

Crappy, crappy, crappy weather. Let me try and describe the past 30 hours.....Everything began with an email we received from our friends who were about 100 miles ahead of us enroute to the same island. The email was titled..."Storm Warning"...we watched as each byte was slowly downloaded. Finally we could read it and it said:

"Hi Guys,

We thought we should let you know, we were just in a storm of about Beaufort 8-10 for around an hour, we are 130 miles at 70deg from Palmerston and it would be travelling at around 10-15knts on about 220deg, so should miss you, unless it turns a bit. We're OK, minor damage to a couple of bits. Don't want to worry you, but might be worth keeping and eye on the radar."

Well the email did scare us and it wasn't long after that the sky filled with cloud, the wind picked up and the rain began. After a few hours of this the seas also grew. We reefed Artemo way down and flew under only a tiny spiff of main sail. I couldn't believe how fast we were going under so little sail. Winds were high. Things got so bad I heard those dreaded words from Graham's mouth last night...."I can't make dinner tonight!" ha. We ate crackers, kobasa and cheese. He tried to make lunch and we had the pot of soup securely latched to the stove top and the stove is also gimbaled but since the back and forth smacking is so intense the hot pot of soup flew. To risky to cook now.

Right now the harsh reality of life on a monohull is right in our face. The small amount of floor space we have is covered in wet rain gear. The cockpit cushions are strewn across the table. The front v-birth bed has a blue tarp overtop of it but it came off during the night and the bed is soaked from a couple of small leaks up there. In order to step outside you have to climb over the companionway door and ensure you have full rain gear on as the cockpit is soaking wet. Once outside you have to quickly tether in. Our feet and hands are all shrivelled up and sore......basically WE ARE LIVING THE GOOD LIFE! ha ....NOT..but somehow in this chaos everyone maintains their spirits. I hear Graham and Alex talking in the cockpit about our speed and telling stories about when we use to tree plant. Amelia is watching Madagascar and I am typing. When it gets really bad we just reef right down and come down below and rest.

I am dreaming of arriving and for this hell to end but at the same time....I couldn't put a price on these moments. We are about 35 miles away from our destination but unfortunately we have heard that there are NO mooring balls left. We are praying a boat leaves today and there is room for us to stop. If there isn't we have to just keep on going to Nuie. I can't tell you how upsetting it will be to not be able to stop and recoup. Everyone think positive thoughts for us and visualize us safely on a mooring ball in Palmerston!!!!

We will keep you posted.


ps.....Alex is still fishing, so if you could also visualize him landing a huge Mahi to that would be great! :-)

September 05, 2010

4 Minute Fix

We woke up Friday morning in Mopelia (our final French Poly isle) and we readied Artemo for departure to the Cook Islands. At about 9am we listened to the weather on the morning SSB net. We heard that there were basically two camps on how the weather was shaping up. Some felt that it would be fantastic sailing conditions with about 15 to 20 knots of winds and others felt that it would be kicking up to 25 to 30 with thunderstorms and showers. The various weather sites were contradicting each other. We conversed with our friends on Simpatica and Ceol Mor and Graham and I decided that we really weren't in a hurry, so why take any risk of crappy weather. We got out monopoly and started the kettle for our morning tea. At about 10am we got a call from both Simpatica and Ceol Mor letting us know they had decided to go. Louis made some good points. He said that if we waited for a few days we might have light winds but we would have huge seas from the high winds previously. I was tempted to go but we continued to play. Once we saw them both pulling anchor both Alex and Graham were wanting to go to. We decided why not and away we went.

We had to first travel across the wide open lagoon which is riddled with abandoned oyster farms. These are basically many buoys attached with ropes. It would be a very bad day if we snagged one of these ropes around our propeller. Alex was at the front and Graham was up on the Granny bars and they were both yelling directions at me......"Hard Port....Neutral....Starboard....forward now". A bit stressful. The other thing was that we wanted to stay close behind Simpatica and Ceol Mor since then we could follow their tracks through the very NARROW and dangerous pass. I noticed we were falling behind so I gave Artemo a bit more juice. We were quickly approaching the reef surrounding the atoll. The wind was directly behind us at about 20knots. All of a sudden the boat just stopped going!!! Even though I had it in full throttle, we weren't getting any power. I was terrified. We still had plenty of forward motion since we had been going so fast and since we had no throttle we had no steerage. The reef was so close. I yelled to Graham...."We have no power, no power!!! The throttle is full on and we are getting NOTHING!!"

Graham jumped down below and began assessing the problem. I radioed our friends and let them no we had no motor. Simpatica was already through the pass but Ceol Mor had enough time to abandon there go at it and circle back to us. I wasn't sure what assistance they could provide but I was happy to know they were there. I told Ceol Mor I was giving Graham 2 minutes and then he was going to have to get up on deck and we were going to have to go sail back to the anchorage. The problem was that the reef was very close and we would be going pretty much directly at the wind to the anchorage.

Now this is the unbelievable part....within 4 minutes Graham had the stairs off, the door to the engine room open, the problem discovered and a new throttle pin lock wired on. Just as I am beginning to have a full on panic attack....he says the words I have come to love..."All fixed!" It wasn't a moment to soon. I gave it some throttle and voila. Unfortunately now as my heart is still racing, we have to navigate the trickiest pass in the French Poly. It is basically a narrow zig zag with reef lining both sides. I shudder to think what would of happened if we had lost our throttle 5 minutes later. Graham says that he could of just gave us throttle from below with his hands without installing the fix. It still freaked me out.

Once we were out of the pass Louis from Simpatica called over and asked us if it was Friday.....OMG. I couldn't believe it. It was Friday. We have a rule on Artemo. We never set out on a Friday. Louis is always joking about how we are superstitious that way. Go figure!

Once we were out the fun continued. We have our old main sail on and she is a wee bit wrinkly so she sometimes gets bunged up in the furling. This was the case today and we proceeded to spend the next few hours with Graham up the mast in rolly seas and Alex and I working the lines trying to get her out.

We said our goodbye's at sea to Simpatica and Ceol Mor. We are all heading to different Cook Islands. We have had unsettled weather. Last night as I was sitting alone in the dark on the cockpit floor in full rain gear, cold and tired....I thought...these are the pictures you don't see. Ha. Artemo is safe and sound in the big wind. We just reef her down and she handles great. It just isn't any fun though. You wish and wish for it to be over. We have had two nights of weather like that but luckily the days have been nice. We are thinking we will arrive in Palmerston on Tuesday.

Today we celebrated Alex's birthday on board. He popped his head up on deck at about 6:30am this morning. He was all excited. He looked the total opposite of how I was feeling but I tried really hard to be excited with him. I let him know we had a rough night and asked if he might give Dad and I a few more hours sleep before we got into presents and breakfast....being the very mature 14 year old he is he totally understood. At about 8 we all got up and watched as he opened his gifts. Amelia made him 3 different necklaces and we gave him a mars bar, huba bubba, gummy bears and kinder surprise. Amelia wrapped each one individually. We then let him know that we were going to pay for a chartered dive for him in Nuie. We downloaded all the brochures on the computer and right now he is reviewing all the different options. He said that he is totally satisfied! Graham made eggs benedict for breakfast and the day has shaped up pretty good.

How lucky am I to have a guy who can fix a throttle in 4 minutes AND make eggs benedict?

September 02, 2010

Strange World

Where to much has happened in the past few days. When night comes I am so exhausted that I can barely keep my eyes open through dinner. I think I last left you in Maupiti. We had a really awesome day there. We had our dinghy all deflated and stored down below, so Simpatica suggested that we all spend the day together in their dinghy trying to circumnavigate the island and having adventures along the way. Louis said he would pull along their two kayaks and bring all their snorkel gear. We all packed snacks and drinks and away we went.

We left at 9 and didn't get back until late in the afternoon. We snorkeled, kayaked, reef walked, hiked over an island, played on a cool teeny tiny sand spiff out in the middle of the lagoon in crystal clear water, fished, swam and played on the beach and LAUGHED. Totally great day. The kids were in heaven. Louis let Alex drive and even pulled out the tiller extension for him. Alex was so happy. He is always envious of all the other cruisers standing up in their big dinghy's with their big long handles. Finally he was on the other side of that picture! Louis let the kids ride in the kayaks and we pulled them. They got up on the huge wake we were making. It was so funny because after a while Louis just unhooks them both and drives off. They were in shock. It took them a while to realize that they should start paddling. I thought for sure Louis would go back for them but he just kept right on going and went for quite a ways......maybe 2 miles. We then anchored and waited for them both. They had to come against a current and the waves. When they finally arrived they were so mad. Louis was laughing. He kept yelling at them as they were getting closer..."We are over here."....they weren't laughin. I told them that the reason they like Louis is because he is unpredictable and crazy.....sometimes though these characteristics might work against ya! HA. Didn't take them long to forgive him and Alex was off with his spear gun sitting on the back of the kayak with Louis paddling to get up close to the outer reef.

The next day we headed out to an even more remote island named Maupihaa. Only one family lives on the island. The guide book says that it is the trickiest pass in the French Poly islands. We left Maupiti with 4 other boats. We were shocked to find that Artemo was going tbe fastest! We were only getting 8 knots of wind from behind and we were able to do almost 5. It was really shocking and so glorious. We arrived first at the pass the next morning. Just as we are about to get all lined up to go in Alex tells us he has hooked a bird with his line. My first reaction was to just cut the line. Luckily Graham and Alex thought this was a bad plan. Alex went and grabbed a towel, needle nose pliers and wire cutters. Graham reeled in the bird. He then lifted it on deck and Alex covered it with the towel. As soon as the towel was over top of the GI-normous bird it quieted down. Graham then got to work removing the hook from its web foot. Once he had it out he backed away and then instructed Alex to remove the towel. The bird then just stood on the back deck. It was so odd. The bird had a long blue beak. It was a boobie bird. It didn't seem to have any injuries it looked like it was just taking a break. I was flipping out. I have a fear of birds, so weird eh? We had to slow right down because there was no way I was going through the pass until the bird was gone. Finally 15 minutes later the bird crawled through the lifelines and flew away. This is when I started to breath again.

We then proceeded up to the pass. We got up close and Graham yelled from the front of the boat that he just wanted me to have a look and circle around and come back at it again. I was "in the zone" and didn't want to circle around again. It was time to DO IT. I told him I was going for it. The sun was perfect and we could see the reef on either side and the coral heads. I navigated Artemo brilliantly and before we knew it we were safe and sound inside the lagoon.

We arrived on our 19th wedding anniversary. Graham and I made a deal last year to take turns organizing the festivities on this date each year. This year was his turn. He kept asking how I was going to top a deserted French Poly island next year! Lucky for us Simpatica took the kids for the night and Graham totally outdid himself. We had a romantic sunset walk on the beach with wine in hand. We then drifted back in our dinghy to Artemo and enjoyed an awesome Green Curry dinner. Really perfect evening. He did good.

In the morning we all decided to move our boats to the other end of the island where we had heard the family lived. The kids stayed on Simpatica and Louis let Alex take the helm all the way to the next anchorage. He was pretty happy. Louis and Julie went in and met the family and the family offered to take us all lobster hunting tonight. We spent the day exploring the reef and a few of the abandoned houses on the beach. At one point today I was pushing the dinghy out of the shallow water with Graham, Alex and Amelia in it (since we couldn't put the engine down or it would hit coral) and I see this black tip reef shark circle me! I jump up on the dinghy and Graham is laughing at me and razing me....about barely escaping attack (obviously dripping with sarcasm). I was so mad.....I am like..."geeesh you guys if I am the only one pushing the least you can do is look out for sharks". What a strange world we are living in!

Everyone just got back from the night time lobster expedition. I hung back to have a little "me" time. They said it was a lot of fun and pretty cool to be doing in the dark. They said the family was so happy to get the huge bag of candy I put together for them and they dug right into it. Unfortunately they only got one tiny lobster and the family kept it but it sounds like it didn't matter the experience was cool enough to make up for it.

We may leave tomorrow for Palmerston. Not sure what tomorrow will bring. We will see how everyone is feeling in the morning. It will be about a 4 night sail and the winds look good right now. We will keep our position reports updated. Thanks for all the nice Happy Anniversary emails. (I sent a few replies from our SSB email since we don't have internet. You may want to check your junk boxes....the email address begins with VA3PRY.)