Back in the northern hemisphere at last! After a 9 month hiatus south, Slick crossed the equator at 1815 on the 16th, local time. I felt it necessary to remove Zach’s wogness so I made him push a coin across the deck of Slick and the equator as we crossed it, all the while I was dumping buckets of sea water on him. This is much different than the shell backing I went through, but I was fresh out of extra-fat men to pose as a baby and I don’t have any cherries on board.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: After the last blog post when the thunderstorms stopped there were many of the villagers of Mollot sitting on the dock next to Slick. This is one of the problems of tying up to a village dock, you get no privacy. But it was OK, and after while I went out to talk to the locals. I thought they were there because they were curious about the boat and the people in it, which was only partially true. The real reason they sat there was to hear the music emanating from Slick’s massive 4 inch speakers. It is a good thing Billy Joel was playing and not some of Zach’s death metal. Anyway, we sat and talked and asked the children what sport they played. The sad response came that they had no ball, and no one could even remember the last time they had had a ball. So I offered to make them one and we proceeded to turn an old pop bottle, some extra foam and a copious amount of tape into a sort of rugby ball. Then we all played touch rugby. That was fun, but after the local church came in session we had to stop. So we returned to the pier for a nice swim and some more conversation. Then as it was getting dark one of the elders came and said in pidgin that the dock was tabu tonight and they had to respect their guests, and everyone politely excused themselves and no one came to bother us for the rest of the night. It was really great and strangely refreshing to be in such a place with such manner. If this would happen anywhere then a village on a remote island in PNG.

Of course this didn’t stop the children from being there with the rise of the sun giggling and making noise. So I woke up and felt like a zoo animal a bit as I ate my breakfast. Curios but harmless and perfectly understandable. After a short time a thunderstorm came up and the wind was blowing us hard against the dock. When the waves increased we decided it was time to get out of there and cast off. It was tough getting off the dock but we managed and made our way to the Bismark Sea. That night was spent dodging massive squalls that came down between New Ireland and New Britain, then in the morning, they changed direction and came back at us. Wonderful. It was an uncomfortable trip with the only wind in the squalls and too much at that. But there was no shortage of waves.

Early in the afternoon we arrived in Kavieng via the very beautiful Albatross Channel. We anchored outside the Nusa Island Retreat and there were even other yachts there! We met some of the Kiwis who explained it to us as a sort of surf camp resort, which is what Kavieng is known for. Zach and I headed in for a beer and realized that not only was the owner a prick but everyone there seemed to be trying to relive a surf adventure that they took as teenagers with their bros, but now they are paying thousands to surf and get away from the misses. I imagine though that they all still find Bill and Ted bodaciously excellent. Town wasn’t much more impressive and we checked out. We also noticed that in the cash machine area there is a security guard and he types in the PIN and gets the cash for anyone who is illiterate. It took me some time to figure out why he was doing it, that the people where illiterate I mean, but once I got up close in line it was obvious. I had never seen something like that before. And later we finally got to snorkel a Jap Zero!

We left yesterday, Saturday, for Yap. It is a 1200 mile or so sail and we are hoping to make it by Christmas, but that remains to be seen. So far, we have had to motor into about ten knots of wind to get away from the influence of land, and past the equator as fast as possible. Basically we need to get away from the NW monsoon winds and into the NE trades. We encountered several squalls on the way out, some bad ones that were really big. After the sun went down they changed directions again and chased us all night. Then in the morning, we saw them turn around again and head away, hopefully we will not see anymore till about 4 north when the NE trades fill it. It seems the squalls here are all the same and move about in the way bad guys did in first generation video games. It was pretty miserable getting out at first but then once we cleared the thunderous land influence we hoisted, now though we are in the Equatorial Counter Current, which runs against us at a knot or so. At about 2-3N this should go away, lets hope. And there is probably plenty more motoring to be done before we are across the ITCZ. Also, it is strange that we are closer to Guam than our destination. For now though, we are heading west north west, hard on the wind. Oh, and we were welcomed to the northern hemisphere by one of the most amazing sunsets I have seen for a long time.

It was interesting approaching the equator again. All the northern constellations are coming into view and the southern ones getting low on the horizon. But I have noticed something about my sailing. I am getting more and more lazy. I think today is the first time I have had the main sail out since Joep was on board and I motor more now than I used to. Maybe it is because I am in a hurry, or maybe it is because my relationship with Slick has gotten to a dangerous place – we watch a ton of movies together. A little secret about my relationships says that (watching lots of movies together) signifies the end for Timmy. I hope it isn’t anything so drastic though and the break we will have in Thailand will do us some good, Slick and I, I mean. In any case, This is my first blog post from underway and Merry Christmas to everyone in case we don’t make it to Yap as fast as we thought. We have less than 1000 miles to go!