Monday, 17 November 2014

Last post from Whangarei, New Zealand.

Kika has been hauled out, scrubbed and painted. We even varnished the saloon table! 
Kika relaxes after a long journey and takes the weight off her keel!

Bridget has arrived by air and we are about to take off and explore New Zealand in our bargain basement camper van "Daisy" purchased by eagle eyed Colin on Gumtree. When Bridget and I go back to the UK at Christmas, Colin and his daughter Jenny will go exploring in the camper van . In the meantime Colin is sailing Kika down to the port of Tauronga where she will be shipped in March 2015 to Flushing in Holland where I will pick her up and go and see the Tulips before sailing back to North Wales.
Some of Kikas crew over the past 16 months have kindly put pen to paper and sent their reminiscences so here they are!

Vincent Roddy - our Spanish Professor and top session musician.
(Conwy North Wales to La Coruna in Spain.)
Vince relaxes as we are entertained aboard Sephina

"Excited, I was also very nervous about the start of Jon and Colin’s round the world trip, especially crossing the Bay of Biscay way out in the Atlantic, away from the coast. I then made a fatal error and googled “Biscay Crossing”, which enabled me to read a selection of horror stories to make me even more wary of what I had let myself in for. Maire had absolute trust in Jon, having worked with him for many years – I had played music with Jon many times in public and that was (Maire assured me) a far less accurate guide to what we had in store.
I had the adventure of my life; after the sedate first afternoon sailing to Holyhead, we were up and away early in the morning for my first overnighter to Arklow, about 11 hours sail if I remember correct. It was scary to experience being completely away from the shore for the first time but I thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of helming, navigating and learning to read the signage at sea under Colin’s expert and patient tuition.
After several days’ wait in Kinsale, it felt like a phoney voyage; it had all come to a standstill as we awaited the right conditions to set off for La Coruña but music, Spanish lessons, tourism and anti-fouling occupied us until we left.
I still think about the days at sea, especially over Biscay, whenever I catch sight of the ocean; I appreciated every aspect of the experience, night watches, sunrise, sunset, whales and dolphins, and learning from Colin and Jon at every turn. A couple of moments stand out, playing music as Clive sailed past in Sephina, the last whale which passed astern by only a few yards when I was on watch and being able to play some tunes even as we froze in the rain on our route to Cork.
I realised last June, when I was lucky enough to get on another yacht for a week, that I had learnt so much and that I had really “got the bug”. Thanks again for a wonderful experience! "

Nick Orr.
Occupation Barrister - Nickname "the judge". Expert raconteur and keeper of the ships digestive biscuits. We never discovered his stash!
(Gran Canaria to Marigot Bay , across the Atlantic)
A relaxed Nick (having just been fortified by one from his McVite stash)

Hand steering all the way from Gran Canaria to Cape Verde (due to non-functioning wind vane).  Hard work and long hours but enormous fun with Kika going like a train (by her standards).
Atlantic clouds in fluffy rows during the day and brilliant stars at night.  I couldn’t have enough of them
Watching Sherlock Holmes in the cockpit on Joe’s laptop.
Eating the freshest fish, especially Joe’s big tuna.
Finding the digestives, a vital food source, hidden by Jenny.
Colin complaining during a squall that he had been hit in the face by a flying fish.  He took it personally.
Lou showing us all her experience during the same squall.
Dancing whenever the opportunity presented itself, though not as dirty as some of the dancing at the ‘jump-up’ at Gros Islet.
Kika’s wonderful stability whenever we had heavy weather or heavy seas, particularly when we left Cape Verde and during the last 24 hours before St Lucia, showing all the advantages of a long keel.
Fantastic crew.  We had a ball.

Jon dislocating his shoulder.   Actually it was quite exciting, administering morphine and so on, and, in retrospect, it was good to see Colin and Joe giving the skipper some serious grief.  At least we didn’t have to administer a diazepam suppository!  I hope the most recent repair is more effective than the previous one.
The mass of ropes on the front of the mast.  I never worked them out.  I’m sure that some of them are just for decoration."

Tony Power. Occupation - top jeweller to the celebs, Champagne Socialist, Stand up comic and Winner of all general knowledge quizzes
(Tuamotous Islands and Tahiti)
Tony gets to grips with some loose tackle on the foredeck

"So much I could write about the details of an outstanding trip with you but I guess I was most impressed by the relentless amounts of Coral (from Tetiaroa), Beer & Dancing Girls.
Please see pic...."
Relax and please sing along to the sound of music "Tony simply remembers his favourite thingsssssss...and then he won't feellllll.... so bad".

Hugh Clifford . My oldest pal. We had the great mutual misfortune to be at school together since the age of 14. Our relationship has steadily deteriorated over the years, especially in print!
(Tuamotous Islands and Tahiti)
Hugh and Tony...sometimes a caption cannot do justice to the shot!

"Ho Osborne; and so the odyssey approaches conclusion;
Bridget has kindly invited all the Cliffords to Jollity Farm for Christmas, so we shall all look forward to seeing you then; well, providing  you do note drone on about your trip, and insist on examining, and explaining, each photograph;
 As you said when first we spoke about the trip all those years ago it was a trip of a lifetime, but for all the wrong reasons; I know that Tone and I certainly did not think we would travel more miles in the inflatable than on Kika;
 You will be pleased and relieved to learn that I am currently composing my report, at some length; I regret that you do not  feature in a favourable light; amiable Colin, does so, of course, and I would not hesitate to join him on a future trip!"
(Sadly Hughies final report seems to have got lost somewhere in the internet. We think it must have corrupted his files.... Ed)

Peter Quilliam,
Fisherman extraordinaire, Top stew chef.
(Panama to Marquesa Islands)
Pete has never been this relaxed before!

An awesome experience and something I doubt I will ever better. Great company and very , very competent skipper and first mate . Thanks for allowing me to be a part of your amazing adventure.

I quote from an entry in my own log on the long jump from Galapagos to the Marquesa islands and one day in particular.

19 thApril (now named by me as black Saturday)

The day didnt start well. Early morning the skipper rudely woke me up to get at the tools under my bunk saying the engine had blown up! An oil pipe had blown off and the sump now held all of our engine oil!! Not what you want to hear part way through a 3000 mile journey from the Galapagos island  to the Marquesa islands!! A bit of an initial panic but 2/3 hours later all was fixed. Just as well these chaps can turn their hand to most things. 

Lunchtime.....I'm cooking when there's a huge bang and clouds of acrid smoke appeared around the chart table just behind me. Definitely an electrical problem!  All was switched off and the regulator suspected but after much head scratching and deep thinking  it turned out that the inverter had blown up. I can assure you that the last thing you need mid Pacific is a fire when there's no chance of help arriving for god knows how long....if ever. Yet again our skipper and first  mate rose to the challenge and sorted the problem. Useful chaps.

During the afternoon the winds dropped further so we dropped all sail and launched our secret weapon...a parasail. High tech ,very expensive and very impressive when flying. The wind continued to drop and it was flogging and struggling in quite light winds then soon after deployment it snagged on the pulpit and...........ripped. Our last intact sail knackered. What next!!

Not a good day!! They say things come in threes so we should be ok now..... well for today anyway! So weve now ripped or damaged almost every sail in one way or another. Some patched and still useable but two fairly wrecked. Still, we're all in one piece and still alive. The Skipper somehow manages to maintain a positive and calm outlook despite the setbacks as does Colin. Good to know you're in very safe hands.

Nigel Clay. Top Orthopaedic Surgeon, expert fisherman and fantasist!
( Rarotonga to Tonga)
Nigel, a man with a very active and vivid imagination, he can never relax.

The editorial committee liked his report so much that we are offering a prize to anyone able to spot the one bit of truth in it!
  Outward bound
  The real reason for me being invited to join Kika was, I believed (at first at any rate), to act as fishing coach. Jon knew of my substantial prowess in matters piscatorial. When he discovered the denizens of the South Pacific were too much for his bent pin and a worm method it seem obvious he had no choice but to summon me. I asked if he wanted me to bring anything  but was reassured that he had loads of high tech fishing gear on board (partly true) but that they didn't know how to use it properly (Very true). He also told me it was constantly warm and sunny (untrue) and not to bring any warm clothes. Or waterproofs. And only a very thin sleeping bag.
I will never believe anything that man says again.  This, as it turned out, was a ruse to lighten my luggage to make space for the stuff he did want which included a solid steel bench vice, a litre of HP sauce and a catering sized bottle of Branston pickle. On top of all that he asked  me to pick up some specialist reading material from the top shelf at the newsagents, the nature of which I can’t disclose but is perhaps understandable after several months at sea. Oh, and also my guitar. So I not only had to get a large musical instrument halfway round the world on airlines who would prefer them to sit in a fare-paying seat, but also had to endure the constant raised eyebrows of security personnel who regarded the vice as a potential weapon and the Branston pickle as a Biohazard Capable of Destroying Life As We Know It. 
I  arrived on 2nd August after the aircraft made two abortive attempts to touchdown. Not a good start.  The all-important affidavit I should have had from the Skipper confirming my place as crew member, as I later discovered, was  sitting in the Drafts mailbox on his computer so they wouldn't let me into Rarotonga until I converted my single ticket to a return at great cost.
To be fair, Jon was at the airport to meet me, he had got the beer in and to begin with it wasn't pouring with rain. However the next ten days in Rarotonga was described by the islanders as "the worst weather we've had for 25 years". "Sorry about this Nige, this is the coldest its been since we left the UK" said Jon in his wooly jumper with Colin nodding in agreement and shivering.
Despite the thundery rain and cold winds we enjoyed Rarotonga, its people and its chickens. Colin even located a hire "car" for one day, at a price which fitted in with the skipper's tight-fisted budgetary policy. It was little more than a biscuit tin on wheels ( and a rusty one at that) and there was an ants nest in the hole in the dashboard where the radio used to be.
It was luxury, however, compared to Colin's so-called bicycle.  A velocipede of the folding type, it has been strapped to the deck for a year pickling in sea water. Where there had once been chrome and gleaming paint there was now an-all over orange patina of corrosion. It had no pump so the bald and perished  tyres were as soft as three-day-old party balloons. The brakes didn't work at all, though they sounded like they came off a tram. It is sooooo dangerous. "Nothing wrong with it, purely cosmetic" Colin announced, proudly "Its fine. You don’t need brakes really,  just don't go too fast (as if) and put your feet on the ground to stop."  I had to ride it to Rarotonga prison to collect my ukelele. I then realised that not only is the infernal thing an accident waiting to happen but it has tiny wheels which make it look a lot like a clown's bike so that other road users point and fall about laughing at you like braying donkeys. Especially kids in school buses  "Look at that man on his silly squeaky bike with flat tyres  haaa! haaa! haaa!"
Blue water and fishing
After ten days  we set off for our first long passage.  "Were staying here it's too rough" all the other yachties said but Jon is made of sterner stuff. Sally sensibly escaped to another boat and Seasick Steve aka Richard took her place. Colin dutifully lashed his bike to the deck. I loosened the rope when his back was turned and we set off.
It was rough all right. Richard was soon confined to his bunk totally unable to do any of the chores on the boat and being waited on hand and foot. Not much sign of sick, I noticed, though but the groans sounded convincing. "Still bad Richard?" I would enquire each morning after sitting up half the night doing his watch for him. "Oh yes still bad. Have you made the tea yet? And just the one boiled egg I think." It was now time to get down to the serious business of  fishing. "Righto Jon lets have a look at your tackle" I said. "No, put it away, I mean the fishing tackle" I added hastily at this sudden reminder of his Jewish ancestry. As it turned out he had quite a good rod and reel and some nice lures but only two fishing lines. One was on the reel and about 30lb breaking strain ( which I would describe a "sporting" given the size of the quarry) and the other was about half a mile of black monofil which I estimate was around 700lb, the sort of stuff commercial fishermen use for long-lining swordfish. This was wrapped round a wooden frame which Jon had cobbled from four bits of scrap wood and a few screws. It was the crappest bit of joinery I had ever seen. "Did you make this Jon?" I asked trying not to laugh.  "Yeah, s'alright init?" I shook it  and it promptly fell apart. "You've broken it" he protested,  but I think he knew it was futile to argue structural mechanics with an Orthopod.
Anyway I did show them how it was done and that evening we dined on Dorado steaks. Unfortunately the next time I hooked a fish it was a Marlin which leaped out of the water thrashing its beak around. I was really keen to get it on board in the hope that it might do some serious and hopefully terminal damage to Colin's bike but it snapped the line. The next big fish took the bait while I was down  below and I came up to see line stripping off at a rate of knots. Unfortunately whoever had loaded the line on to the reel (and I am not pointing any fingers at anyone, Jon) had omitted the elementary step of tying the line to the spool. So we lost the lot (I say we meaning not me).
I had never realised Jon has profound exhibitionist tendencies and an evangelical attitude to nudism at sea. You might think being on a boat with flapping sails thrashing ropes and fishhooks everywhere would be a bit of a disincentive to  "letting it all hang out". Jon however throws caution to the wind and with it, his pants.  As soon as Kika is alone in the ocean all the kit comes off and he strides around the deck, his 'neck and giblets' swinging gaily in the breeze. "You should try it Nige. Sea air tightens the scrotum you know, takes the slack from the sac as they say. Look at mine!" " He's right you know," said Colin climbing out of the hatch naked "its the only way to sail". Richard, now recovered from his mal de mer emerged, his body glistening in the sunlight clutching a bottle of baby oil "anyone for a massage?" 
Niue - how the mighty are fallen.
Our adventures on this delightful island and especially our heroic sea rescue are detailed in the blog. It is not widely known however that  just before we left for Tonga the two senior crew members of Kika  suffered the humiliation of having to be rescued themselves. It was a scenario straight out of a Laurel and Hardy film. It began with  Jon in the dinghy getting it ready for departure. He unloaded the oars and then the motor. Bobbing about in the empty rubber boat he watched in horror as the knot he used to secure the painter to the Kika's handrail unravelled itself casting him adrift in a stiff breeze. In no time he was several yards away.
 " Grab that bloody painter before - too bloody slow, come on come on!....Throw me a bloody rope... not that one, Oh, for fuck's sake.... throw me the oars then , the oars,  the bloody oars get a bloody move on...come on, do something somebody!" You can imagine the pandemonium.
Quick thinking as always, Colin stripped off and dived in, then realised that he had forgotten the oars. Richard and I were then shouted at in stereo.  By the time we had thrown them to him Jon was disappearing into the distance shouting "Help!" in an increasingly hysterical high-pitched voice. He rather let the side down I thought considering there were Yanks about.
In desperation he started paddling furiously with his hands but was still going backward at the same rate that Colin was swimming forwards. It ended up with the dinghy coming to rest against a boat on the other side of the harbour where the by now exhausted and hypothermic Colin caught up. They were finally rescued by the polished boatmanship of  a nine-year-old boy  from one of the other boats who launched his dinghy and towed the bedraggled pair back to Kika.  Richard and I of course were most concerned but unable to render assistance as we were paralysed with mirth. " Could we have another of your knot lessons  Jon? " seemed an apt remark but it didn't get much of a laugh. They were to busy paying the lad to keep his mouth shut.
Voyage to Tonga
Another four days at sea with Richard seasick, Jon and Colin oiling their naked bodies on the foredeck, while I did all the sailing. Progress was slow, the boat being quite heavy with the crate of AK47s and ammo which Jon had bought in Panama with his NHS pension lump sum. This was the true purpose of his voyage and apparently masterminded by Bridget who is an international arms dealer, using General Practice and being a farmer's wife as a cover. She had struck a deal with the Tongan Liberation Movement and they promised to exchange the weapons for high grade cocaine. They would get 1000% return on the investment from Mr Big in New Zealand who had kindly agreed to pick up the drugs mid-ocean in his Stinkpot, as Jon called it. In anticipation of the forthcoming wealth the Kika was additionally weighed down with several cases of Dom Perignon 1975. Jon is exceptionally fond of the stuff and can polish off a bottle for breakfast no problem. He likes to keep a cold one in the freezer at all times and we had to keep his glass topped up when he was at the helm. 
Tonga and sadomasochism
We had to say goodbye to Richard shortly after our arrival in Vava'u as he is a very important chap in the BOA sorting out doctor's pay, clearly vital stuff as it’s a struggle for us to keep up with managers’ salaries even though we get the blame for everything. Sally joined us again and I was evicted from the Princess Suite and had to doss down on the settee in the living room. Actually Princess Suite was rather flattering as it was actually right next to the bog. One disadvantage of that particular berth was its acoustic amplification of anything going on in the little room next door.  Sally is an early riser and an avid reader and clearly quite deaf and anosmic as each morning she would lie happily in bead reading Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu  apparently oblivious of the wet farts, straining noises, splattering turds, the groans of relief and the thick faecal miasma which heralded the dawn of each new day."( Perhaps a little more detail here please ....Ed)
A remarkable woman though, one of the most seasoned explorers I have ever met (she sprinkles celery salt on her body every morning).  Sally has travelling light off to a fine art. In a very small portmanteau she has a costume for every occasion. One night after Jon and Colin had been on the rum and magic mushrooms all evening and smoking some awful weed that smelled like a bonfire she appeared in a full dominatrix outfit including a red latex basque, leather hot-pants, fishnet stockings and thigh-length leather boots. In one hand she had a riding crop and in the other a pair of rubber gimp masks and an enema syringe. "I hope you boys are going to do as you're told!" she said "Not you Nigel ,obviously, because you're not weird but you might find it instructional to watch." "And take photos please!" said Colin eagerly "Use my cameral!".  "Yes Madam!" said Jon obsequiously kissing her boots "we are your humble slaves and we will do whatever you say, no matter how humiliating" Horrified I watched as Jon and Colin once more stripped off all their clothes and donned the gimp masks. There then followed scenes of such depravity that I had to make an excuse and leave. I  motored across the bay until the screams of those two poor men ringing across the calm tropical lagoon faded into the distance and made my way to the Mango bar. I returned an hour later to find Sally with her nose buried in Proust again and Jon and Colin standing up rubbing Germoline into their scarlet posteriors looking extremely happy.
It was from Tonga, after many more adventures that I had to say farewell to my travelling companions. It had been such an eventful five weeks and I will carry the memories with me to the end of my days. I had been with a band of the most  brave kind- hearted, stalwart and honourable people the like of which one would be lucky to meet in a thousand lifetimes.
Jon, Colin Sally, Richard, it was a pleasure to sail with you.

So that's it folks from Kika and its crew. We thank you sincerely for reading all this dreadful travelogue to the bitter end, but at least you will know to avoid the slide show

The skipper had rehearsed his slide show with this very appreciative audience
Jon Osborne(skipper and scribe)
The Skipper, a rare moment of relaxation!

Colin Sharratt ( first mate and photographer)
The photographer and friends relax ...and below some photos from the Galapagos where poor internet limited the uploading of photos

In search of a tasty morsel...

and there it is...

but did he get it?

he sure did!

Perhaps the owner hadn't paid the mooring fee!
As timeless as a voyage across the ocean, goodbye
A late entry posted from Germany..............

Susanne Liese: Our dear friend from German; gourmet chef, supplier of ships snacks and breath of fragrance in an otherwise noxious boat cocktail of bilge water and male body odours!
(Nuku Hiva to Tahiti)
Our ray of sunshine

First of all I have to thank Jon and Colin again for allowing me to be part on such an amazing trip!
I grew up in Germany with a father flying and sailing most of his life, which had a great influence on my addiction to travel. Taking every chance of an adventure it took a blink of an eye to accept the invitation of Jon and Colin to take part on the trip from Nuku Hiva to Tahiti.
I took more than a month of vacation and nobody could change my mind.
During this four weeks I've had the time of my life, having time to think about a lot . . . having disruptions with "too much exitment" according Colin (at the end of the four weeks twice) . . . Jon, good to know the shoulder have had finally a repair . . .
Sailing the Pacific on a well founded vessel together with three gentlemen was indeed a favored life!
Lucky am I having no night watch just relaxed sleeping were my system could attach to the constant moving of KIKA. From time to time I've joined the one on watch in the early evening for a chat but just then to concentrate on the stars. what a show, they were extraordinary bright and vivid.
Now I'm able to relate to the stories of my father I've listened during my younger ages.
Daytime was my duty with watch and cooking, helping hands from all sides, Colin, "Otto" and Jon.
Behind the helm I felt at ease and comfortable after a while when one of these sickness put a strain on me. As soon when consentrating on a job the sickness faded away, even cooking in the gally did the trick.
I liked to spoil the "boys" with some goodies from KIKAS oven. There was a time of more than 6 plus myself  coexisting members, old crew, new crew visitors of other boats and of course Jon and Colin.  . . - " Tahiti here we are".
I enjoyed the trip immensely!
While there is always much to do at home, on sea you can live a relaxed live.
Seeing dolphines, baby killer wale, manta ray and much more was a thrill. These pictures I'll keep for the rest of my life and do not need any technical equipment for it, my brain is so much more capable of it.
All the friends of Jon and Colin I've met on the trip and beforehand in Gran Canaria and St. Lucia, thanks for all your company and get-together over this last year I've enjoyed it immensely.
Hope we will have time to reflect, think and talk about this adventure together.
Many more thanks to my crew Jon, Colin and "Otto", I had a great time! My favourite photo is below...
Jon and Colin relaxed swimming and KIKA in the background!


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