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Wednesday, 5th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                0.0 NM

         Average over the past day            K

         Wind                   S                1 BFT

         Swell                   1 M

         Water Temperature    20 C

         LAT           007 deg  16.8 min N    0851.630

         LONG       080 deg 07.0 min W   7029.97


         Water Depth      20  M


Today is the day we embark on the Star Flyer for the South Seas. I woke up early so as to pack my stuff while it was cooler in the morning. Yes, we had air conditioning but we choose to sleep with the windows open to the warm fresh outside air. There is something special about relaxing in the warm humid atmosphere where sleep comes nicely. With the sir conditioning the cool air can be such a contrast as to generate chills and a cold. 


This morning the typical rain came in torrents such that you could not see across the hills. Of course, the rain stopped as fast as it started leaving a beautiful blue sky with puffy white clouds.  The rain did not stop the  birds from flocking to the hanging bird feeder. Many birds came to feed and were of many colors, some plain brown and others black with bright red tops. Small birds would just get started dipping their beak into  small hole in the side of the large cylindrical feeder when another small bird would fly up and just push the feeding bird away. Of course, just then a larger bird would swoop down for their fill chasing away the small bird.  None of the birds seemed too worried since within a few moments the large bird would fly away and the cycle began again.


All this action took place just beyond the balcony of the hotel lobby.  Since the building was on the side of a hill, when you were on the balcony you could only see a forest of tropical trees growing up from below to beyond the roofline above.  Along with the suspended bird feeder was a rope that had a bunch of bananas tied at the bottom. The action here was just as intense with birds flocking to the fruit. The birds pecked at the peel until it broke open exposing the succulent soft innards of the banana. 


Not only were birds attracted to the luscious yellow fruit, but monkeys took advantage of the opportunity to feed on the banana. They would scramble across the tree branch from which hung the bunch of bananas then slide down the tether to have their fill. Because there were several monkeys they took turns chasing each other away  causing the eating monkey to leap to the nearest tree. The monkeys were back with white snouts and moved quickly among the trees. Often times they hung upside down while munching on the bananas.


Now fully packed up and ready to transfer to the  ship we stowed our luggage in the hotel storage room and took a walk down the road to the Canal Administration building. The very large 4 story building stood prominently on a hill. Inside we viewed a set of pen and ink sketches of Canal construction images. Inside the rotunda were four murals of the construction times; these are well worth the hike to see them.


Now for a good coffee and strawberry crape in the mall then back to the hotel to wait for the transportation to the ship.  There were seven of us so it took 3 cabs to get to a local wharf.  Well, the ship was hung up a while taking on fuel; we were later to learn that the Captain had been waiting for several hours. Ah, well, this too is the land of manana. Finally, our passports were processed and we put aboard the ship’s tenders for ride to the ship. IN style, we were welcomed to some snacks while we were  processed on board.  This being a no frills cruise, really a voyage, the decks were still quite cluttered with lots of stuff and plenty of work to be done in the following days, like a new teak deck.


Following the final loading of our luggage and construction materials we were under way. It was night now and we could see the line of ships waiting for their turn to pass through the canal. Soon these lights were but a slight glow to our stern. We headed due South to exit the Gulf of Panama then set our final course of 250 degrees to Tahiti.  Following a late dinner we slept well to a slight roll and pitch of the Star Flyer.


Thursday, 6th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                136.6 NM

         Average over the past day            9.62 K

         Wind                   SW             3 BFT

         Swell                   1 M

         Temperature      27 C

         LAT           007 deg  06.8 min N

         LONG       080 deg 35.1 min W


         Water Depth      2,500 M


Now at sea sailing parallel to the Panama Coast leaving the large bay. Once again, after a good night of sleep with a wide variety of breakfast items typical of great cruising ships. There were a variety of cereals, juices, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fish, cheeses, and a chef who would make eggs to order, usually omelets with a number of choices to put with it.  Then there was toast and pasties. Ah, well, this was my first breakfast aboard so I should live it up and did so; coffee was served at the tables. However, I do realize that this type of eating, along with a good lunch and superb dinner could not continue for 22 days, lest I would waddle off the ship in Tahiti.  I needed to make a resolution right away to stick to oatmeal with maybe some toast with jam plus maybe, just maybe, a token spoonful of eggs and small piece of bacon which was so good.


Our cabin is quite nice with a large porthole to see the weather, a large bed, and nice head with hot shower. This cabin was not as big as my one last year, but very nice none the less.  The best part, of course, is having the bed turned down at night and chocolate placed on the pillow then in the morning the bed is made up. Yep this is the life.


The weather today had a bit of drizzle to it that would continue for the next two days which slowed the ship work down a bit, but not much.  This travel, as the Captain explained, was definitely no frills and was really a voyage with no stops. There is no cruise director organizing activities. Yes, there is some inconvenience stepping around the work areas but not detrimental to the  sailing and fine dining.  The crew is working very efficiently to square away the decks an put down all the new teak. There is grinding and pounding everywhere as we move along but it has drifted into the background.


This evening the dinner was again very fine with many choices from a printed menu. Since dinner started at 19:30, by the time we finished it was time to turn in.  Each dinner is different in meeting more of the other passengers. From the USA, Canada, England, Scotland, German, Austria, and a crew from Germany, Indonesia, Philippines, Sweden, with the Captain from Poland.  Each has  a story to tell; one couple had a dance studio for 27 years.  Interestingly, half of the passengers are much older than we are reaching beyond the 80 mark.


Several of the sails were put up to stabilize the ship but for the most part we were headed right into the wind. In the evening it cleared up and we could see stars everywhere.. Now I know I should have taken astronomy for I could only recognize a few constellations.  We are all interested in sighting the Southern Cross telling us we are headed into the southern latitudes.


Alas, another slowly rocking motion to put us to sleep.




Friday, 7th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,37.05 NM

         Average over the past day            8.3 K

         Wind                   NW            4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      25.5 C

         LAT           005 deg 56.4 min N

         LONG       083 deg 44.0 min W


         Water Depth      3,000 M


To day was a relaxed day but punctuated with a beginning lecture on Seaman, Knots, and Cowboys which was a great presentation about knotting and its migration into the interior by seaman. There are only abut a million different knots that sailors used to decorate their gear as well as those  knots used in sailing..


Three more great meals and the relax time was spent by most reading or chatting. Then, yet another good night of sleep.


Saturday, 8th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                539.42 NM

         Average over the past day            8.43 K

         Wind                   WSW                  3 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      23 C

         LAT           004 deg  44.7 min N

         LONG       087 deg 00.2 min W


         Water Depth      3,000 M


This morning we were up early for breakfast since we had a date with the master of knotting, Robert Black who was brought on board by popular demand. Out first project was a turks head bracelet; mine was to be dark blue.  Robert had a template that we stuck pins in, 14 staggered around each edge. The objective was to wind the cord across and back and forth  around the pins which after 15 passes created a neat bracelet.


Now to relax again, eat and sleep.


Sunday, 9th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                773.32 NM

         Average over the past day            8.97 K

         Wind                   SSW          5 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      24 C

         LAT           003 deg  19.7 min N

         LONG       090 deg 42.4 min W


         Water Depth      1,400 M


Up this morning to my usual oatmeal breakfast then since the sun had come out to the after deck to take it in a good 20 minute  high powered walk about the after deck. As you might imagine with the ship pitching and rolling 50% of the energy is put into staying upright. However, once  I found my wide stance stride sea legs I found I could really move around the deck, but once an awhile the ship would lurch and I would have to take a quick side step, or forward or back, to keep my balance. With all the good food such a walk is necessary to maintain body balance.  Now all I have to do is stretch the time out to 30 minutes and do it twice a day to stay fit until we reach land.  The ship has a pool but it is not too large and to date it has not been filled.


We are getting closer to the Equator and further West such that tonight we change our clocks back one hour.  Since we have been lazy enough about getting up I am sure this will not affect our routine.  The weather is nicer now and no rain but there are clouds all about. More later on what the Equator is going to be like.  It is warm and nice on deck.


This afternoon three staysails were up and we were at some heel. The breeze was good and fresh, most enjoyable. We could gaze out across the Pacific in wonder at the vastness, such a volume of water we are gliding across.  For sure this is a different experience.  I could imagine being in a 40 or 50 foot sailboat but this ship is just fine, especially with all its amenities.  We, like many before us, are truly sailing into the unknown for who knows what lurks under the surface.  There were some flying fish out this morning and during our walk on the fantail one of the crew caught a 4 foot King fish so I guess the crew will eat very well this evening.


Since this is a working voyage there is much that is going on all over the ship; last night our cabin door was painted and today most of the midships deck was laid with teak leaving the chalking to be done. Of course, one of these days there is going to be a great sanding party as all the teak decks are finished off. I cannot wait. The officers who normally attend to the passengers are doing deck work.  We talked with a young lad from Sweden during lunch. This fellow had just completed some military service and was now the SCUBA diving director on board the ship.  He is going to be very busy after Tahiti since there will be 160 paying passengers aboard.  Well, that is better than 1,000 on a large cruise liner. However, I think I would prefer a sailing vessel on the order of 150  to 200 feet where we could really sail.

Monday, 10th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC):

         Distance from Panama                1,031.3 KM

         Average over the past day            9.27 K

         Wind                   S                4 BFT

         Swell                   1 M

Temperature      20 C

         LAT           001 deg  44.0 min N

         LONG       094 deg 42.3 min W


         Water Depth      3,000 M


Before breakfast the special work crew putting the new teak decks on were busy. The day started out cloudy but dry so the deck work could continue. Apparently, while in dry dock, not all the ship’s overhaul was completed and at this point the Captain is a bit worried about finishing all the remaining tasks.  Once all the teak decks have been laid down then the sanding begins with what appears to be only small sanders for a very large deck.  There is a lot of  grinding at the edges of the steel bulkheads where special paint is to be put. Then there are all the deck sitting benches that need  to be refinished and sail mending to be done. Wow, some of us do not see how all this work can be accomplished in the next three weeks in preparation for a very large passenger load coming on in Tahiti.  Needless to say we a walking around much of the  to be done work areas.


Yes, this is a no frills voyage, but we sure are eating well,   I have disciplined myself to take only small portions and cut out at least one dinner course.  I counter the eating with a good 30 minute walk on the stern deck each day,  This walk is becoming a habit but it is not a standard walk on a moving deck where staying upright is the challenge. 


We have a very special person on board for this voyage, Dr. Robert Black who is retired but really into the history of life at sea and knotting. Thus, he has lectured twice now, the latest about Lord Nelson and his ship used at Trafalgar. On alternate days he teaches knotting such as a turks head bracelet and now the key fob.  The stitches are really great but getting used to the particular methods and special knotting knots are sometimes frustrating.  I have more than once I have undone my work to once again attempt to get it right. So far, I have finished one bracelet and started on the key fob.  We shall see how many new fancy knots I can learn before we arrive in Tahiti.  Robert has brought all the tools and materials for making many items. He is a member of a world wide knotting society which seems to be quite active.  If you were to look at old and new sailing ships you would find many simple and fancy knots used for 10,000 reasons. The old sailors used the knotting to identify their sea bags as well as decorative items for the wrists, ankles, and hats.


With seemingly endless leisure you would think you have all the time in the world but I can tell you that between eating sessions, walking the deck, and doing some knotting that I hardly have time to write my log. It is a good thing this is along voyage so I can get some extra reading in too.


Tonight we had to change out clock back one hour as we travel West. Alas, one more hour of sleep.



Tuesday, 11th December 2007 Position: At 12:00 local (17:00 UTC):

         Distance from Panama                1,230.23 KM

         Average over the past day            9.54 K

         Wind                   S                3 BFT

         Swell                   0.5 M

         Temperature      24 C

         LAT           000 deg 00.1 min N

         LONG       098 deg 39.5 min W


         Water Depth      3,200 M


Today is going to be a very special day.


After breakfast I worked on my knotting then went for a walk on the stern deck. We spotted some whales and dolphins this time, such a delight to see in the open ocean. The sea is nice today glistening as the sun reflects off the waves. Needless to say the sea here in the middle of the Pacific is quite calm with a nice breeze from the South.  The sails have been set to stabilize the ship and we slice through the water at a little over 10 knots.


Both Bob and I worked on our knotting, doing and undoing to get the stitch right; finally I caught on to what I should have been doing and finished that task. Now I have only two more tasks to do to finish my key fob.


At noon we had a great celebration, the Skipper raised two of the jibs and all were on the Sun Deck as the moment approached. Both the crew and passengers had smiles on their faces and chatted about our voyage. A couple of the crew passed our Mimosas (Champaign and orange juice) and photos were being shot all around. Then the ship’s whistle blew as we crossed the Equator; it was almost like New Year’s Eve. The crowd was happy. Yet another good experience to cross such a line by ship, thought I had crossed it many times by plane. I remember my first time on my world trip 40 years ago, also going to Tahiti and the airline crew handed out certificates. As so it was here upon return to our cabin we found two formal Certificates of having crossed the Equator on this day on the Star Flyer (the first time for this ship too) at two minutes past noon.


It is terrific having Isabel along, such a find in a woman few come across. She is a terrific partner and so willing to take on this adventure when she has never really been on such a voyage; Isa has traveled to the USA and Europe and migrated from Argentina but not many other places.  She is warm, affectionate, and caring with great understanding and fine intelligence; everyone she meets likes her. Her wit is quick and discussion points abound with knowledge. We speak in Spanish sometimes but her English is so very good that it is too easy to speak such, but I think as we get into South America I shall get my head back into Spanish, a language I really love. Our meeting was via the Internet followed by good dialog and my visit to Lima in July of this year.


After a relaxed afternoon and more work on my key fob we had to go to the piano bar lounge for 17:00 snacks, after all, dinner is not until 19:30.  This is a good time to chat with whomever is around. We sat a while with the ship’s doctor from Belgium who is taking a break from his family practice with his wife.  He told us that he is lucky for his daughter, also a doctor, has taken over while he is gone; he also has a schooner in the Aegean Sea where he needs experienced sailors and I told him I could cook. Perhaps there is an opportunity here only costing me frequent flyer miles.


Now to sleep under the gentle rocking of our ship.




Wednesday, 12th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (18:00 UTC):


         Distance from Panama                1,540.94 KM

         Average over the past day            10.45 K

         Wind                   SE              4 BFT

         Swell                   0.5 M

         Temperature      22 C

         LAT           001 deg 32.7 min S

         LONG       102 deg 32.4 min W


         Water Depth      3,300 M


So we wake up to another perfect day at sea with warm sun and cool breeze. After yet another very good breakfast, but not too much,  I took my walk around the aft end of the ship. After a brief rest and a shower it was lunch time again.  We took a long lunch chatting with others and after a walk topsides and a brief relax time it was time for the lecture.  Robert Black gave a very informative talk sailors of the past 150 years and their life aboard ship as well as how they came to become sailors, many sailors took up the vocation of being sailors unwillingly or unwittingly. His slides showed a number paintings of the times depicting the sailor.


Now back to my log, but not before being interrupted by a nice conversation with some other passengers with who have not yet engaged. Two of them had lived in Chico, California, and knew my former uncle, Dr. Al Forbes. We then got to talking about Russia and our respective travels there and about Tourette Syndrome. Yes, this is a small world.


Herman, the chief of the dinning operation stopped by for a chat as Isa and I sat at one of the dinning tables. He is from Indonesia, has two children, one of whom has just finished college, but he does not look that old. He talked of his career on board.


This evening Isa and I had dinner with the Second Officer, Loreto,  who is from Italy. He talked of his home town neat Napoli and his family involvement with the sea. He wanted to get into the Italian air force  academy but needed more schooling so he went to Nautical school then just continued to attain his ship Masters qualifications.  He has been on large  tankers that sailed around Cape Horn then up to Valdez in Alaska; he has a wife a two children one who is 18.



Thursday, 13th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (18:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                1,792.63 KM

         Average over the past day            10.49 K

         Wind                   ESE           4 BFT

         Swell                   0.8 M

         Temperature      23.5 C

         LAT           003 deg  06.9 min S

         LONG       106 deg 43.5 min W


         Water Depth      2,900 M


This morning Isa and I woke up early to gaze out our port hole to the rising sun, yes another bright day in paradise.  The water is a beautiful blue with only ripples across the quiet surface.  Isa spotted a flying fish just above the water wishing us a good morning. Our voyage continues.


Isa is in taking a shower now while I sit at one of the unused dinning tables where I can look out on the sea.  There are a few lazy white caps. Looking down along the hull we can see the wake of the ship steaming through the South Pacific.  I am sure this is the way it was several hundred years ago as the Tahitians sailed north to Hawaii.  We have seen only one other boat so we are far from almost anywhere, peaceful, beautiful, serene, and tranquil.


Now we must have some breakfast and suffer more good food.



Where does the time go, where does the time go?

During our days at sea with great plans for reading and writing,

Where does the time go?


The time went for good conversation during the several hours during dining

And the time goes when we chance to chat with this passenger to another.

And the time goes just watching the ocean go by


Where does the time go, Where does the time go?

The salt air and ocean breeze mixed with tropical sun affects

All the senses and is absorbed by the soul deep in the center of being.


Where does the time go, Where does the time go?

When all your body is full of the ambience of the sea voyage

When all your body is relaxed and satisfied you sleep well.




At noon Isa and I had lunch with a very nice lady from London, UK.  She had been on several Star Clipper cruises and traveled a good deal. Such nice conversation makes for good lunch company.  Bob Westbrook then came up and we compared the key fobs we made; wow, what an effort the first time through. The ultimate objective is to learn a couple more knots so we can make some bell ropes for the ship.


As usual the food is fairly good and abundant. I don’t think the food on this trip is as good as that served on the Atlantic voyage in 2006, but we shall not starve.  The deck work continues and few of us can see how all the work can get done before we dock in Tahiti, but we still have two weeks at sea.


This afternoon Gretchen, a passenger whom I met last year, is going to give her lecture on her sailings to Pitcairn Island. She has sailed around the world on their family yacht with three kids a number of years ago so she has some great stories. She tells of some of the behind the scenes stories and issues Pitcairn has gone through.


Isa and I were up on deck after lunch where the sun was warm but the breeze of 10 to 15 knots just great. Two jibs, two staysails, and all the square sails have been set and we sail towards Tahiti.


Dinner this evening was special in that 6 graduates of Cal State University at Chico gathered and one of the women was the first female Chico Mayor. This was unusual to find such a group on this particular voyage of 40 people. The more interesting was that fact that we all knew common members of the faculty. The chief steward even made a special table sign for our group.


After dinner Isa and I went up to the Sun Deck an watched the clouds clear up to reveal numerous stars.  There was also a new moon glistening across the water.  Theese is a brisk breeze but the temperature had a warmth to it.


Friday, 14th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (19:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                2,072.00 KM

         Average over the past day            11.17 K

         Wind                   SE              4 BFT

         Swell                   1.3 M

         Temperature      24.0 C

         LAT           004 deg  54.4 min S

         LONG       111 deg 02.1 min W


         Water Depth      2,800 M


It happened again – we changed time zones and had yet another extra hour of leisure then off to breakfast but I am learning to hold back on eating too much food.    So once more we have to put up with bright sunshine, blue water, and blue sky – what a way to go.  We worked on a little knotting, had lunch, then hear a talk. But, I must take a walk around the deck this evening.


Isa and I had dinner with a charming young fellow from the Sports Team who work with the passengers when in a port. He was born in Peru, lived in
Venezuela, moved to Spain, and attends university in Sweden. Needless to say we spoke mostly Spanish. I hope Spanish will become less of a challenge as we get on into South America.


Again it was a nice sunset and a beautiful evening with the moon shinning across the water. The wind seems to be quite steady at about 15 to 20 knots and we have all the square sails, two staysails, and a couple of jibs up helping out our speed. It is just great to sit on deck in the evening and we can see many stars.


Saturday, 15th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (19:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                2321.969 KM

         Average over the past day            10.41 K

         Wind                   ESE           4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      25.5 C

         LAT           006 deg  26.7 min S

         LONG       114 deg 44.7 min W


         Water Depth      3.200 M


Another difficult day in paradise we have. The wind has not changed and there are still many white caps plus a good swell from the SE. A number of us took a 30 minute walk around the Sun Deck this morning warming up for lunch. This afternoon we saw a Hornblower movie which, while it was a story, there was much depicting how sailors lived and died over a century ago.  Now for some snacks to tide us over until dinner at 19:30 and a chance to catch up on my log.


The ship just moves on as the many workman continue to refurbish the ship, but we all wonder if they are going to finish all the projects before we arrive in Tahiti.  While the ship is relatively stable to help the workman, it still rolls a bit and an elderly woman yesterday had a nasty fall cutting her head and breaking an arm.


This afternoon we had a celestial navigation lesson given by the Captain and had a chance to use the sextant. Maybe tomorrow we will walk through the calculations for a line of position. This ship takes a noon shot every day and plots it on the chart.

Sunday, 16th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (19:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                2,556.62 KM

         Average over the past day            9.78 K

         Wind                   ESE           4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      26 C

         LAT           007 deg  52.3 min S

         LONG       118 deg 35.9 min W


         Water Depth      2,000 M


Another great day and breakfast; I find myself sleeping very well on the sea.  We can tell we are moving into the tropics since the weather is getting warmer and more humid. Yes, and I even walked for 30 minutes around the Sun Deck again  to keep in shape.  Today was a milestone for I had no dessert for lunch; however, I was very tempted since there were three to choose from


Let me make mention of navigation of one’s cabin head facilities (land lubber translation: toilet). As you can imagine there is not enough room to swing a cat, as my wife used to say, and is not unlike that in an RV, but there are some differences.  First, you will notice as you enter you must turn the light on using the switch on the outside then push the very heavy door open. Next you must remember to step over the rather high threshold and into a rather small space. The first issue is now that you are face to face with the toilet itself is to how to close the door behind you when there is barely enough room to put yourself in. Technique one is to easy, just step into the shower stall then turn around and close the door after you have squeezed between the door and toilet. Technique two is to split your legs over the toilet and balancing with one hand put the other behind you to close the door. Be careful to close the door tight for we shall see later why this is important. Now once in you can do your business, sitting or standing, as appropriate.  You must recognize that toilet waste systems aboard ship and in many European country towns are sensitive and you must not deposit anything other than your personal waste and maybe some toilet paper down them. Yes, there is a small container for those items you cannot put down the toilet, this is normal. Taking a shower is quite a normal process, just step to the corner of the head with the shower, pull the curtain around you, then turn on the water.  But, watch it for the hot water is very hot.  Of course, now I must tell you about the most critical dimension of using a shipboard bathroom facility. Yes, at you might have guessed, during all these procedures the ship rolling and pitching; it is convenient that the space allocated is small for you cannot fall far. However, the challenge for any use is to hang on with one hand and use the other for the appropriate task.  Needless to say, for men, use of an electric razor is best since using a blade is tricky so as not to cause serious damage and draw blood.  Taking a shower is definitely a challenge to hand on to the bar provided and soap up at the same time,  but it can be done. Toweling off is trying to balance and dry with your elbows hitting the bulkheads (walls) in the small space. Well, the level of difficulty goes up any increased motion of the ship so using the facility while in a storm requires great caution, dexterity, and balance skills.  Good luck on your next voyage.


This afternoon is a special occasion since many re-corked wine bottles with a message inside of contact and location information will be thrown overboard with the hope that some soul will find it somewhere and send you a message.



Monday, 17th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (19:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                ? KM

         Average over the past day            ?

         Wind                   ESE           4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      26 C

         LAT           009 deg  10.0 min S

         LONG       122 deg 15.0 min W


         Water Depth      2,000 M


Today we had a second navigation lesson. The first step is to determine the approximate time of the sun’s highest point in the sky when it transverses our meridian.  Once determined, see later calculations, we head to the outside bridge with the sextant. First to point straight at the sun with filters in place then moving the split image device down with the sun so the horizon is also in view. Now comes the tricky part. We know the sun is about to transit so holding the sextant with the sun just above the horizon and rocking the sextant back and forth as the sun moves, all the time turning the fine tuning knob of the angle to the sun. When the sun stops moving down (up in the sky) is when it is at its zenith and you stop turning the knob and take your noon sun reading of the angle. Now you take this value and make adjustments for your height above the water, parallax, and other corrections arriving at your Latitude line of position.  While this all seems easy, I found that keeping the sun steadily in sight on a moving ship is a real challenge on top of watching for the exact moment when the sun passes.  Well, since a slight error will on put your position 40 to 50 miles off, one must practice a great deal to master this art. The skipper says about 80 shots should make me somewhat proficient; I only have 77 to go,  Alas, we shall practice again tomorrow.


John Darby gave a good talk this afternoon on his trip around the world on a freighter a couple of years ago. Being a reporter he did a good job of his presentation.  This type of travel seems more interesting than the big cruise ships and one sees many interesting places. His quarters were very nice and the ship even had a small swimming pool plus the food was very good and all the grog you could drink.


Some more reading and just relaxing working on some knotting then we had dinner. Isa and I sat and talked with one of the women from Chico who has lived a varied life from the US to Spain to Okinawa and four kids. She will meet one of them in Tahiti before she returns to the USA.  Her first husband was in the Navy and was killed in an air crash so she had a lot of responsibility in raising her kids.


Once again we need to change our time to a new western zone thus gaining one more hour of sleep. Of course, when we head east we will reverse this gaining process to loose hours.


Tuesday, 18th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,58.83 KM

         Average over the past day            9.6 K

         Wind                   E                4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      26 C

         LAT           010 deg  32.71 min S

         LONG       126 deg 04.4 min W


         Water Depth      2,000 M


Up for another busy day and off for breakfast then to a navigation lesson. Wow, I almost missed lunch with my educational diligence. I picked up some lunch just before they closed and now I am back to my knotting just before an afternoon lecture. Yep, not a dull moment aboard this voyage to the South Pacific.


I received an email from both Jacob and Ross in response to my email and things seems to be going well at home. Isa and I picked up a couple of movies to watch in our cabin on our personal DVD this evening.


The day is another good one and the sea very calm making very little motion on the ship. The warmth of the islands seems upon us. There is even the occasional short lived rain periodically.


Wednesday, 19th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,293.16 KM

         Average over the past day            9.76 K

         Wind                   ESE           4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      28 C

         LAT           011 deg 49.5 min S

         LONG       129 deg 50.0 min W


         Water Depth      3,500 M


We can see the sunrise from our cabin porthole which is nice to see how tranquil the day is going to be, and today was no exception. Arriving on deck there certainly was a difference in temperature and heat of the sun. 


Since we left Panama men have been working on replacing the teak deck and the crew has been chipping paint, painting, and varnishing everything in sight.  There seems a great deal of work to do yet and it will be interesting to see if things get done before a large contingent of new passengers come on board for a 7 day cruise around the Islands.

The Captain gave a talk this afternoon about his tall ships experiences and narrated a movie about his sailing on the Polish naval training ship which is about he same size as the Star Flyer. He showed his passage of Cape Horn by sail which was a rough as usually described. I think back to my Grandfather who sailed around Cape Horn on a tall ship. I am sure the pictures do not do it justice.  During my sail around Cape Horn I was very luck to have very quiet weather, not a foot of sea and less than 5 knots of wind.  The experience of the captain was the usual showing very large seas and young men of their early second decade of life climbing to the top yard arms to furl sails as the ship rolled and pitched violently.  One shot showed the lee rail under water and he explained how he had to change from his wet clothes three times a watch.  Now I wonder what our Cape Horn passage is going to be like.


Thursday, 20th December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,434.46 KM

         Average over the past day            5.9 K

         Wind                   ESE           4 BFT

         Swell                   1.8 M

         Temperature      28 C

         LAT           012 deg 34.4 min S

         LONG       133 deg 07.5 min W


         Water Depth      2,100 M


Today we can see that there are may more clouds forming here and there with obvious squalls all around us.  We have not had much rain, so far, but there seems good potential for some real wet weather now.


Since we are ahead of schedule the engine is off and we are really sailing at about 6 to 8 knots with the wind off our port quarter; all squares are up along with a couple of staysails and jibs up.  The Captain would love to put up more sail and get the boat moving but he has resisted to keep the ship on a more even and stable keel to make it easy for the workers to get their jobs done.  I will have to admit that I would really like to sail this boat under full sail healing over at 20 degrees.


At noon we had another navigation lesson, each time learning more about the process and technique. Our measurement are getting closer.  The Captain has taught us to first determine the estimated time of the sun’s median passage, then we take the sextant to the outer bridge to take a shot. Now here is where the real trick comes in to catch the sun at its zenith; tomorrow I will have my challenge to take the sextant measurement.


This afternoon we watched a movie about whaling ship and life at sea for the whaling sailors, truly a rough life for two to three years. We will see a couple more movies on tall ships and sailing around Cape Horn in the early 20th century. Following the movie Isa and I went to the piano bar for the afternoon snacks to hold us until our dinner. I think we really do not need so much food but here it is, hence one must be careful to balance the food intake with walking exercise around the deck.


Before dinner Isa and I went to the aft deck where it was quiet without sun in the early evening.  The clouds on the horizon were spectacular with their white puffs against the light blue sky above and dark blue sea below. There was one particular cloud that morphed from one shape of a dog to another animal to another as I watched.  There was a fresh breeze and the ship rolled from side to side. This is a great time to just have silence since the workers have quite for the day and only the two of us there enjoying the ambiance.  We could see the tops of the clouds reflecting brightly as the sun was setting. All around us is the sea, the middle of the Pacific slowly moving towards Tahiti.  There was one interruption as the ship took a serious roll and we slide on the lunges we were sitting on across the deck for a ways. This was enough to make my heart stop for a second with imagining that we could slip right to the rail.


Tonight I had salmon with a special sauce following my cream of asparagus soup, yes we are eating well.


Friday, 21st December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,606.30 KM

         Average over the past day            56.3 K

         Wind                   E                4 BFT

         Swell                   1.8 M

         Temperature      27 C

         LAT           013 deg 29.0 min S

         LONG       134 deg 54.3 min W


         Water Depth      3,700 M


As we took our 30 minute walk around the deck of the ship there was a little rain which keep us cool. From the Bridge area we walked across the Sun deck, down the stairs to the Tropical deck, aft to the Stern deck on the starboard side crossing to the port side and back to the Tropical deck, down the starboard outside deck walk, up the stairs to the Bridge, down the steps to the fore deck, around the foremast, then back up to the Bridge, and around again. This turns out to be a good work out in preparation for eating again.


First we had our navigation lesson, step one was to find out the approximate time of the sun passing our meridian. This time it was my turn to take the sextant reading. Well, to my surprise I was able to hold the sun in my sight while balancing on the rolling ship. Slowly I turned the fine tuning knob as the sun traversed to it peak. I moved the sextant in an arc watching the sun and always bringing the lower edge of the sun to the horizon. Just as I detected that the sun hung in the sky, which means it was at it zenith, I stopped turning the knob and read the angle of the sun with the horizon. Now we had to make corrections to this reading – for the extant mirror error, sextant manufacturer determined error, parallax adjustment for our position on the Earth to the center of the Earth, and finally an adjustment for our height above the water (8 meters). Now we took the compliment subtracting the angle from 90 degrees then applied the Earth Declination for this date. Our result was not far off from the GPS figure, so we are not lost.


This afternoon Robert Black talked about sailors and their coming and going from home, friends, and loved ones. One must ask what drove these sailors of yesteryear to stay away so long and earn so little, the lure of the sea is strong. So strong is the sea that sailor endured great grief and conditions to go sailing for years at a time. On the other hand, the adventures and new lands encountered were many but the solitude must have been devastating.  Robert presented many images of coming and parting done on cards, in photos, and myriad of  carved articles as well as tattoos. The most striking image for me was a painting of a woman on a wind swept shore looking to sea. Below her feet is a ground covering of tall grass, no ship in sight. She is dressed in a long dark skirt and blouse with a shawl wrapped around her shoulders, how cold is she inside and out. Iam sure a penny for her thoughts would gain an outburst of tears and lament. However, she stands erect, tall, and shows no signs of collapse or weakening. Behind her on the bluff is a very small stone house with a high pitched tin room. At one end s a smoke stack from an inside stove, no windows can be seen but on the shore side stands a dark door. Who is this woman, who is she waiting for, and how does she live from day to day? We can only presume a broad spectrum of answers to these questions.


Almost a full moon it was among the scattered clouds and we could see Mars just to the NW with its characteristic reddish color. The wind was out of the ESE with a good force but warm. It was so pleasant standing on deck in such nice air. This was quite different from the afternoon when we went through a good heavy rain storm which did not last long and soon the decks were dry. The sea is still splashing around but it not really rough, but there are plenty of whitecaps as the wind comes and goes. Our voyage has been a good one.  The talk now is about Tahiti and decorations for a Christmas celebration.



Saturday, 22ndt December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,771.25 KM

         Average over the past day            6.87 K

         Wind                   ESE           5 BFT

         Swell                   2.0 M

         Temperature      28 C

         LAT           014 deg 19.8 min S

         LONG       137 deg 36.0 min W


         Water Depth      4,200 M


Today the sun makes is farthest movement to the southern hemisphere.  Isa and I were up on deck before breakfast enjoying the fresh warm air, a good beginning to the day. Now down to breakfast. Another good day in the Pacific, each of us doing some reading, eating, and knotting then we watched a movie on the history of tall ships where the USA excelled during the age of sail. By then it was cocktail hours again but we limited ourselves to very little know dinner would be a good one again.  As usual, the several ship refitting crews were hard at work as we could tell by the noise of grinders and sanders.


During our happy hour today Christmas decorations appeared and were put up. We were given a special invitation to a Captain’s dinner on the 24th.  This will be my first time spending the winter Holiday at sea and with a good group of folks so we should have fun.


After dinner most of the passengers were on the bridge looking for our first sight of land in over 20 days. This was an exciting moment that all of us wanted to experience. We each peered into the dark horizon off the starboard side where the first island was expected. The is island is a small one, being less than two miles in diameter, but with over 125 inhabitants living there. The horizon played tricks on us as there was a full moon and we often saw flashes of light which were probably just the sea.  Finally, one of us spotted what he thought was a real light and we all stretched and strained to see what he saw. Over the next 15 minutes it did become apparent that there were truly real lights in the distance. Eventually, we could see a whole group of lights on the island which were more that beach fires.  I wonder what those people did for a living or were they all retired catching fish each day to eat. Don was the first spotter so he earned a bottle of wine from the Captain..  By this time we were tired and retired where again we slept well on the sea.


Monday, 23ndt December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                3,940.93 KM

         Average over the past day            7.07 K

         Wind                   E                4 BFT

         Swell                   1.8 M

         Temperature      28 C

         LAT           015 deg 03.85 min S

         LONG       140 deg 25.1 min W


         Water Depth      1,200 M



The sick crewman has caused some concern so we turned on the engines to full speed and the Captain considered arrangements for transfer to the hospital on Tahiti. It was now quite overcast with rain at times. Many considerations were taken into account including helicopter airlift, but we were too far fro a base. The decision was made to head for a near island in the Tuamotu Islands where and evacuation airplane could land. On we went, a race was on. The Captain Brunon is a very cool person who thinks very clearly.


The deck workers finished up all they could given that they were running out of materials. The engineers putting in the new waste system seemed to reach milestone in putting in a large pipe along the starboard side.  The ship was slowly being brought back to normal with a cleanup of the deck.


Bob, Michael, and I did out preparations for shooting the noon sun but there was no sun there.  Robert Black showed a film on schooners.




Tuesday, 24ndt December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                4,200,928  KM

         Average over the past day            10.4 K

         Wind                   ENE          4 BFT

         Swell                   1.5 M

         Temperature      24 C

         LAT           015 deg 57.0  min S

         LONG       144 deg 49.1 min W


         Water Depth      1,300 M


Now we really have rain which has really stopped the deck work and we steam on. This day will be marked as a special day it being Christmas Even but also contending with a medical emergency. We have had a special invitation to the Captain’s dinner this evening.


When the rain cleared for a while this morning I joined the walking group and did my 30 minutes going up and down stairs and from stern to foredeck.  The walking feels good but it is a challenge on a moving ship. One finds new muscles to maintain balance; it will feel good to be on land again.


So special arrangements have been made to evacuate the crewmember who has a medical problem and our ship headed to one of the larger atolls of the Tuamotu Islands. Some problems were developing, such as more rain. We approached the island and we could see the low lying land covered with palm trees; there was a structure on the island which looked like a tower of some sort. A plane took off from the island and we were relieved. Our ship prepared to evacuate our medical case and one of the inflatable boats was prepared and the gangway was lowered.  The drama began to unfold and the ship took in all sails and slowed down. When were abeam of the entrance to the atoll we came to stop. The sick man was brought up in a stretcher taken to the boat still hanging from its davits;. The sea was a bit choppy and the crew lowered the boat caring the boat skipper, a crew member, and the sick man. Now the objective was to pick up the ships doctor from the gangway to accompany the sick man.  It was rough so it was tricky for the boat to come alongside the gangway among the 5 foot swells. With a great leap the doctor was aboard and off they all went in through the atoll entrance to the waiting ambulance that would take the man to the medical evacuation plane. Now we all waited and darkness was approaching. To our relief we all spotted the boat returning. Soon the boat was aboard and the ship was moving again..  The doctor came back with the boat saying that a doctor and nurse had taken over and all was going well for Romon.


Our special dinner included lobster and all were dressed for the occasion, including the wearing of ties. The Captain gave a speech wishing that the world the same ambience and friendliness we have aboard with our 25 countries represented among the 40 passengers and 80 crew. His speech culminated in a Champaign toast. We adjourned for a great evening of singing Carols then Santa showed up. He handed out gifts to many folks as given to him earlier in the day by others directed to friends and loved ones.


We now were tired and slept well.



Wednesday, 25ndt December 2007


Position: At 12:00 local (20:00 UTC)

         Distance from Panama                4,418.38  KM

         Average over the past day            9.06 K

         Wind                   N                3 BFT

         Swell                   1.0 M

         Temperature      28 C

         LAT           016 deg 58.05  min S

         LONG       148 deg 22.50 min W


         Water Depth      3,900 M




Today is Christmas, my fist at sea.


We are not going to Tahiti directly since it seemed easier and cheaper to head to Moorea. We are still a ways from land in the blue sea of the Pacific. In fact, today we just floated around while the workman worked on getting the ship ready for a special Tahiti welcome cruise with the Island governor and dignitaries. Then, one day later 160 new passengers come on board. The big question remains, will the ship be ready for all the new guests at the expected expense level.


For lunch we did have roast turkey and cranberry sauce which made it feel like the Holidays. The rest of the day the ship went slowly towards Tahiti since we were a day ahead of schedule. The weather was quite overcast as we approached the islands. Alas, this was our last night aboard the Star Flyer so during day and this evening was spent packing up to put out our bags before retiring. The cabin stewards would pick them up early in the morning to take in on the first launch.


Thursday, 26tht December 2007


Position: In the morning

         Distance from Panama                4,418.38  KM

         Average over the past day            5.0 K

         Wind                   N                3 BFT

         Swell                   1.0 M

         Temperature      28 C

         LAT           Tahiti

         LONG       Tahiti


I was up early, but there was still no sunrise to be seen. However, as we approached the island of Tahiti the sun came out and we all stood on deck cooking under the South Pacific sun.