Lat: 12 08.363′ S
Long: 95 56.866′ E

It’s Day One of our 2900 mile passage to Madagascar, and so far, it has been very smooth sailing. The seas are calm, winds are fair, and we’ve already caught, cleaned, and eaten a portion of a nice wahoo. Dallas just arose from one of his nice, long power naps and has his nose back in the fishing book. He’s really getting into fishing now, which is just fine by me. I love eating fresh fish and don’t mind cleaning it as long as I don’t have to deal with until after it has already been put to death. Contrary to Kurt Cobain’s lyrics, I’m still not convinced that fish don’t have feelings.

If you read our last blog, you may be wondering why we are only just now setting sail. Well, our friends aboard S/V Marionette showed up in Cocos on Saturday morning, just a few hours before we were going to leave, and quite easily persuaded us to stick around for another night. I think both Dallas and me were up for having as much fun as possible in Cocos prior to embarking on this 3-week, one-way passage to Longitude 49 E. It turned out to be a very memorable delay….

We have spent a number of fun evenings with Marionette in a number of places (Panama, Marquesas, Niue, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Darwin, Christmas Island), but each time we have met them, there have been different people on board, with the only constant being the young (28) Belgian skipper, Markus. Sailing a racing boat around the world with no auto-pilot or wind vane, no electronic charts, no long-distance communication system, and usually very little fuel, he is of a different breed than most skippers. Some criticize his ways of operating, but aside from being declared missing by the Swedish news media during the tsunami last year, he has traveled around much of the world without too much drama. Personally, I appreciate his tenacity and ability to do a lot with a little. On long passages, he requires at least 3 other crew since they have to hand-steer the boat at all times, but he doesn’t seem to have much trouble finding backpackers willing to pay for the experience of island hopping or making an ocean crossing. Currently he is traveling with an exuberant guy from the Czech Republic named Johnny and a couple (Aussie guy/Chinese girl).crew

Markus (left) and his current crew

johnny Here’s Johnny!

Saturday afternoon we invited the Marionette crew to join us for a barbie to finish off the wahoo that we caught on the way in. Markus wanted to contribute as always, and cooked up a huge pot of curried rice and veggies. After lunch, I hopped in the water with the volleyball and suggested a game of monkey in the middle that turned into a rousing game akin to full contact water polo. We then took turns diving off of the diving platform and trying to catch the ball mid-air. About this time I realized that not only did I seem to have my energy back, but the stitches inside my mouth had finally dissolved, allowing me to talk without a lisp for the first time in three weeks. No wonder I was enjoying myself so much!

ball Reach for it!

Dallas and I returned to the boat for a couple of last minute boat projects, namely taping up the spinnaker sock and stowing gear in preparation for leaving first thing in the morning. Around sunset we were visited by Hans and Nino from S/V Drumbeat. We befriended Hans back in Tonga when he was on his own boat, and he is now the Chief Engineer for the superyacht. Anyway, it turns out that Hans had noticed our cat, but after hearing about my accident while in Bali two weeks ago, he thought that it couldn’t be us. He was glad to see that I was in good shape and eager to catch up. It wasn’t long before Markus and Johnny sniffed out the potential party going on and dinghied over to join in the fun. At some point, Dallas shared with Hans his idea to make a music video as a present for our mutual friend Martin on S/V Anima. (Martin has rewritten pop tunes to dedicate to others such as Tiff on their birthdays, so it was fitting that he should have one written for him.) Hans was keen on the idea as were Markus and Johnny, so needless to say, we were committed to sticking around for another day.

hans Hans’ arrival was cause to celebrate

Before rehearsals began on Sunday, Dallas and Markus went out near the east edge of the lagoon to do some spearfishing. Dallas had a lot of fun but had to get used to keeping an eye out for a shark that was lurking — normally reef sharks don’t bother you, but if you have a dead fish at the end of your spear, it’s a different story. They returned with two pretty large fish — a red squirrelfish and a colorful parrotfish, so the six of us had delicious fresh fish and curried rice (the same pot from the day before) for lunch again.

Hans then came over, and it was time to get down to business. Dallas had already selected and downloaded lyrics for MC’s Hammer’s “Hammer Time” (since Martin’s last name is Hammer), and it wasn’t too tough for he and Hans and me to change a couple of verses and the chorus to focus on Martin and his many talents. I found a recording of the song on a hard drive, and Hans was able to pick up the riff on the guitar, with Markus and Johnny on hand drums and Dallas and me on vocals. Initially it seemed like we were never going to pull it together, but after a little practice and a little rum, we filmed sevral entertaining versions of the song: one on the boat, one with us dancing and playing on the beach, and two versions with us sitting on concrete posts by the jetty, hamming it up while the cameraman (Nino) panned in on each of us individually. It turned out to be a blast, the only problem being that none of us can get that song out of our heads! We can’t wait for Martin to see the finished, edited product, but as we are on totally different routes now, we’ll have to mail it to him somewhere in Thailand.

beach MTV, here we come!

rap Yep, that’s us!

As for Marionette and Drumbeat, we look forward to meeting up again in South Africa!