All posts by Eddie Smit-Jens

Also French Polynesia

French Polynesia or names like Bora Bora are equal to beautiful sandy beaches, very blue water, aquarium like snorkeling, sipping a cold white wine and so on.

Fakarava Atol
The beautiful scenery aka the super life in the Pacific. (Stock Photo)

And yes the scenery is extra ordinary and we are in the tropics, so yes to shorts and a t-shirt. But as always it’s half of the truth and the downside is less frequently mentioned.

Islands and passages

Well for starters, to get there, there is always a long passage necessary. And sailing dual handed with a watch schedule, even in the middle of the ocean, is tiring. Another constant is the patron of not enough or too much wind. We remember the nice passages, because they are rare.

Seek shelter in Fare in Huahine
Shelter for an strong Easterly wind

In Pacific crossing groups there is a 2-weekly report of somebody badly damaging or sinking there boat. Mostly to a navigation error and or a uncharted reef. Most of them experienced sailors. Are we getting sloppier or overconfident after 10.000NM. Or just exhausted.

We learned to have fate in Navionics charts and they are pretty good and accurate in a lot of places. But passages between islands are still inaccurate and reefs, or more common a group of rocks, are everywhere. So community edits and a second source like OpenCPN is part of the solution. But most of all when calculated an automatic route, zoom in (more !) and check the route. Make it a habit especially going west of French Polynesia.

Boat bullshit

Therese says, with a sadden, slightly angry voice “Why is there always something breaking, this is a new boat.” Is she blaming me, the weather, the boat, the universe? The list is endless. For sure ropes, lines, water pump, dinghy hoist, outboard fuel line, impellers, anchor winch up/down selector, more ropes, ParaSailor, gel coat, flexible solar panel. D-shackles etc, Sail bag, Courtesy flags. The thing I hate the most is the fact that stainless steel isn’t anymore. Everything rust. There is a lot of it and it needs cleaning and protecting endlessly.

And we know that Seawind is a quality build ship and I do a very thorough check on systems, components, deck hardware etc. So we catch at least 50% of the issues before breaking. Yes I know we are doing a lot of mileage, 15.000NM, a year. So yes maintenance and replacement is part of my expectation, but the rate and period of use is less than I expected.

Let me mention as well that we didn’t have big issues on the 3 main components: engines, electric and navigation equipment. Although my port alternator is kicking in late after starting the engine. A sign of corrosion somewhere on the wire boom or a bad seliode. 🙁

Anchorages and Marinas

On all these idyllic islands there is always smoke. A good thing the two of us are not asthmatic. Cleaning a parcel of land and the garbage is burned on most islands. To be honest, probably the best way to get rid of it. And I think most of it, is plastics. Everything is double, triple rapped. I get very angry looks from the supermarket cassiere for putting multiple fruits and vegetables in one plastic bag.

People are a species that live in a herd. So the tendency is they anchor close to each other in a big bay. So funny when the prevailing wind changes 1800 and everybody has 40-50 meters of chain out, except those three on 30 meters randomly spreaded in the flock. We had it the opposite way, suddenly in the morning this big bommie was 10 meters from us. It was 100 meters in the opposite direction on the night we went to bed. All well within our anchor alarm zone. We had 55 meters out instead of 40-45, just for safety… Another lesson to be learned.

Marinas, I don’t like them, Therese loves them. So we compromise. And yes it’s handy for fuel, washing the boat with fresh water. If potable take a 10 minute shower twice a day in our excellent bath room aboard. But in general they are expensive, loud, more current then I prefer etc. The one time another boat hit us, was in a Marina. My first deep fiberglass and gelcoat repair.

French Polynesia is expensive, from the supermarket to chandlery, prices are 3 – 10 times compared to mid America’s. From fresh local produce to French wines. So stock up for 4 to 5 months for flour, cans, UHTC milk, liquor, anything that will last . Best advice a sailor can get.

For sunny pictures of Kiskadee crew in Lagoons, beaches and bays, like SV Kiskadee on Facebook.

Also French Polynesia

Shark Attack

We anchored in Gambier, French Polynesia near the Airport Island, aside the Fausse Passe, False Pass, a beautiful shallow snorkeling spot. We took the dinghy to the corner of the channel, my 2 crew members went for a free dive, snorkeling. They were going to the ocean side and let the incoming tide slowly take them into the channel again. The spot is, on a sunny day, beautiful. Coral, sandy bottom, little fish and small black tip reefs shark, on an incoming tide there is a lot of activity. And safe because you are pushed into the lagoon. More data as always on NoForeignland.

Snorkeling area and new Danger marker for Shark Attack
False Pass near the Airport, Gambier

The attack of the Shark

Swimming close together, 10-15 meters my two crew members entered the the channel close to the shallow part with 50 cm of water on top of big coral formations. Out of the ocean came a single bigger, 2-3 meters, shark, properly a Grey Reef shark. It swam directly toward A. and bit him in his underarm.

A. reacted promptly and stabbed him multiple times in the gills which resulted in the Shark letting him go. He managed to get on top of a coral bank bleeding badly from the bite running from below his elbow to above his wrist. D. swam ashore safely.

I managed to launch the dinghy from the beach, had to go around some very swallow parts and row the last 10 meters. Hoist him in the dinghy. It was obvious, this was a severe bite. Big open wound trauma, lots of blood.

First response

From that moment on, we went into crisis modes and did a few things right. We applied a tourniquet with a dinghy rope and twig and used a long leave shirt to make a pressure bandage over his wet suit and arm. On board we give hem a sugary, salty drink. And kept talking to him.

We motored back on maximum power, taking a few safe shortcuts. 45 minutes later we were in Rikitea, which has a medical center with two trauma Nurses.

After the first actions of stabilizing, IV, cutting his 5 mm wet suit off, replace our twig with a professional tourniquet etc, they consulted the ER doctor in Tahiti. A medical emergency was declared and the hospital ordered a medevac. At that time it was about 14 hours local time, all ready two hours after the attack. A. was put on pain medicine as well as antibiotics to counter any infections from the dirty bite.

The follow up

Gambier has an airport, but it’s not equipped for night flights, there are a very limited amount of lights on the runway. So the medivac was performed by the French Air force which flew in a midsize transport plane. They landed at 21:30 and departed an hour later. Flying time to Tahiti is about 3-4 hours.

The transport from the Medical Center to the Airport was performed by a Gendarmarie Pickup truck for the stretcher and the local ferry of the Rikitea community to the airport island. Ta’aone Hospital in Tahiti is the next stop for surgery.

Medevac transport after Shark Attack
French Air force Medevac

Update: A. is “ok”, surgery is today (24 may) reconstruct blood vessels, muscle tissue etc. Later an skin reconstruction, common with shark bits. An X-ray revealed two shark teeth in his arm. An unusual souvenir of a very scary event.

Things to learn

There is local knowledge about Sharks and there are stories about them (semi) attacking. Also that it is most likely a Grey Reef Shark which are know to be aggressive when their territory is invaded. We learned this stories afterwards. I would be skeptical about swimming in that channel having this info on forehand.

A. was not Speer fishing but wears a wet suit that was used multiple times while fishing. I called it his smelly suit. Don’t know if its a factor. Its a dark suit, opinions differs on colors attractive for game fish.

We called out a pan-pan-pan multiple time but nobody reacted. We called the Gendarmarie on cell phone but got an answering machine, between 12-14 its siesta time. Translate a short message in French for VHF. A local harbor master has almost no knowledge of English.

In this case the medical center was one to 1,5 hours away. If we were more remote we would have add three steps to our first aid. Start immediately on a maximum dose of Paracetamol and add a max dose of a broad span antibiotics like Amoxicillin from the Kiskadee board pharmacy, 8to fight on upcoming infection. Second, replace the improvised t-shirt bandage with a real pressure bandage. Third, release the tourniquet a bit after 1,5 hours to start a blood flow to his hand. Look for bleeding, if it occurs you have no choice then tightening it again. Releasing the flow will increase the pain.

For comfort and against a shock, cut his wet suit off, except the arm peace covering the wounds, and rap him in a few blankets.

Words of Thanks

We are in deep gratitude for so much help and kindness. From the professionals to the lady on the dock handing us a bottle of water. Numerous people where involved by transporting him to Tahiti. My second crew member was allowed to fly with him to Tahiti. Also unusual.

So my final words, sailing is beautiful and dangerous. Therese and I are always super grateful that dangerous thus not go all the way to fatal. We are privileged.

Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn, Pitkern as the locals call it, is indeed remote and wild and not easy to reach. The general route is sailing from east to the west. As usual I updated all things to be know for sailors on Noforeignland


Pitcairn history started with the discovery of this island by the “bootsmanjong” Pitcairn, aged 15, on one of the British expeditions. It was noted with an error of 3 degrees, 180 NM ~ 335 km. So not easy to be found again. In 1789 Fletcher Christian muted against Captain Bligh, and fled to Pitcairn after being advised of this error by Polynesian narrators.

The Pitcairn settlement has been one with many difficulties. An overpopulation in the 1960’s and a forced migration to Norfolk island. (in the Pacific). A sex abuse case in 2000’s and recently the issue of a elderly and diminishing population.

Currently only 41 inhabitants are on the island, which is a independent state in the British Commonwealth. Ivar and Floris made a nice impression of the island.

Our stay

After 7 days of sailing from Easter Island, Rapa Nui, we arrived at Bounty Bay on the first day of a week with big winds form the SE. Bounty Bay is a patch of sand in front of the landing strip and a notorious rolling anchorage. Not optimal on SE wind, really bad on East to NE winds.

On the second day we heard a loud noise and discovers we lost the starboard side d-shackle on the anchor bridle. Ergo, hanging on one rope and a lot of force and the port side hardware. Loosing the shackle is most likely because the safety wire was off and the pin slowly wiggled its way out. Temporary putting in a single line with an anchor hook, we discoved we had only little shackles in spare. We radioed for help to Pitcairn and there was a used big shackle available, properly straight of some equipment. A fine example of help and friendliness.

Pitcairn was indeed eventful. Two days later, on much calmer weather, we flipped the dinghy in the inlet next to the landing strip. No harm done and after turning the dinghy back, retrieving all floating footwear and servicing the outboard, all was fine. This moment is actually (almost) captured on video. We had 4 spare CO2 cylinders to replace , so no more flipping the dinghy. And of course another item on the growing list of spare things to buy in Papeete.

So, all and all we had a very nice time. We had diner in a home restaurant. Got invited to the homes of a few locals and sponsored the Pitcairn economy in their big and we’ll organized General Store. My high light was a real good, deep tissue massage and just walking around the island.

The anchorage was a 2 but the island and its people made it a 5 star adventure.

Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui, also known as Isla de Pascua, Paaseiland, or Easter Island, was discovered by Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday in 1722.


Early In the 17th century, the tradition of Moai, enormous stone statues, emerged on Rapa Nui. These statues were erected to honor ancestors, local tribe leaders, and to protect villages. They all face inland, towards their communities.
Despite their advanced society with a written language and strong social systems, Rapa Nui fell into decline. Due to an obsession with these statues, leading to depletion of natural resources and internal conflicts. The eventual contact with Europeans, bringing diseases and further hardship was the end of this culture.

In the 19th century, Rapa Nui saw a resurgence in popularity due to cattle farming, leading to further deforestation.


This small, green island, with a population of about 7,000, is now known for its super friendly inhabitants and pristine cleanliness and off course the Moai.

Kiskadee and crew visits in Autumn (April) and because Rapa Nui maintains a subtropical climate, temperatures are still above 20⁰C. The occasional rain and winds add to the charm of the island.

Surfers like my crew, Angus and Declan, enjoy the big waves, while navigating the small panga harbor proves to be an adventure with our trusty 3.4 meters dinghy and 15hp outboard.

Exploring the island, we rented a car to see its sights, including the iconic statues. Dining out, finding a bakery, and browsing hardware stores are essential, especially for boat owners like us. All info is on NoForeignLand

Stocking up on diesel, groceries, and doing laundry are priorities after a long crossing, all easily done on the island. We rented a car for a day and did shopping as well as site seeing.

As we prepare for our next stops at Pitcairn and Gambier, we appreciate the opportunity to restock on supplies, respecting the harmony of these small island communities. Rapa Nui may be off the beaten track to French Polynesia, but it’s a beautiful stop for sailors seeking relaxation and refueling.

Navigating Mexian Food Regulations for Sailors

There’s often confusion among sailors about Mexican regulations on food when entering or leaving the country. The guidelines for what’s permissible are not clear and there isn’t a official Mexican government website but look at

Generally, fresh or frozen meat, fish, seeds, and fresh produce are prohibited. Processed or canned items are acceptable. Homemade goods are not accepted. Pork meat is always confiscated.

Check-in Regulations

Checking in from the North, such as in Ensenada on the Pacific side, is straightforward with no physical inspection and minimal paperwork. However, entering from the South, like in Chiapas, involves stricter procedures. Expect a thorough inspection, including a drug-sniffing dog, due to concerns about plant diseases and pests from Central America. Items like eggs, nuts, meat, and fresh produce will be confiscated. It’s advisable not to provision in El Salvador for Frans Polynesia with future stops in Mexico. Fortunately, supermarkets like Soriana, Walmart, and Sam’s Club are readily available in Chiapas.

Check-out Regulations

When departing Mexico for destinations like Galapagos or French Polynesia, provisioning in Chiapas with packaged goods, fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, dairy, and liquor poses no issues. While there’s a physical inspection, it mainly focuses on contraband like drugs or human trafficking.

If heading to El Salvador, Costa Rica, or Panama, their is not much regulations, particularly regulations and Mexico is cheap.

Tips for Chiapas Departure

When checking out in Chiapas, attention to detail is crucial. Officials are stringent and scrutinize forms closely, even asking for a captain’s license. Ensure all documents are in order, and be prepared to clarify any discrepancies. Regarding the dinghy and Temporary Import Permit (T.I.P.), customs officials had a discussion with themselves. The outcome is: Dinghies shorter than 4.5 meters are considered part of the sailboat and do not require a separate T.I.P. Provide proof of ownership, such as purchase receipts or insurance papers or formal registration documents, to expedite the process.

Lastly, exercise caution when sharing information on social media platforms and messaging apps to avoid misinformation. I shaw some pretty wild statements, just partly true.

Bahia in Baja California (Sur)

Our trip into Mexico is one big adventure of beautiful bays and beaches, the Bahia ‘s. Kiskadee is doing super. Low draft, 4 feet, double engines, anchor bridle and a good anchor alarm (Vesper Cortex) Our sailing dates were 11 November to 13 December, after the Bajahaha rally. So most of these huge anchorages where empty or with one or two other boats.


For those of you intending to sail this bahia route, this is our itinerary: Puerto Santo Tomas – Bahia de San Quintin – Bahia Tortugas – Bahia Santa Maria – Cabo San Lucas bay – Marina San Jose de Cabo – Los Frailes – Bahia de los Muertos – Isla Partida – Isla Espiritu Santo – El Merito Cove – La Paz Channel – Punta Gaviotas.

Our itinerary down south through Baja California (Sur)

Most bahia’s are fine anchorages with shelter in the winter season . The dominant wind direction is North to North-West. We have many favorites and a few disappointments, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose de Cabo are to expensive and offers little. I don’t know why La Paz is called the cruisers paradise, anchorage in the channel is wind against current, filthy and noisy. We did some groceries and bought new zinc and left. Back to the coves and inlets just south of it. So much better and almost empty.

Nautical Information on spots

I have been searching for quite some time what the right site/app is to share nautical Information on spots and decided to use Noforeignland. Its not restricted, open. As an active sailor do register (follow SV Kiskadee and become a supporter) As a spectator follow us at So our electronic presence is on Facebook, this website and on Noforeignland. No more no less.


So sailing south is fine and the promise of better temperatures, 20 Celsius and going up, helps. Remember, from October on every 1.000 NM south of B.C. Canada you gain 3 degrees Celsius. We are now close to 30.

High Lights

The islands of Partida and Espiritu Santo are incredible. We spent not enough time in the different bays. This is by far the spot with the clearest water, everywhere rocks, reefs and fish to snorkel too. Good anchorage and well protected. From bay to bay takes 1 or 2 hours of motor sailing.

Our next stop is Mazatlan on the main land.

Going South into Mexico

Coming from BC Canada, passing the Pacific Coast of US, we are now in Mexico. And every 1.000 NM the temperature, air and sea, is getting warmer. We do like it. Although I don’t know if it’s cultural or just the temperature, but people are outspoken, friendly and Spanish is a beautiful language. Cuando se habla rápido, es difícil entender.

Viva la Mexico


We first docked at Hotel Coral Marina in in Ensenada. It came with a pool and whirl-tub, nice restaurant, fuel dock. And across the street of the Marina a big grocery/supermarket, Soriana. We like the Mexican supermarkets for there one stop shopping, from groceries to my beloved yogurts, milk, meat, cleaning products, pasta, cans, frozen foods, wine and even booz, a good rum, gin or tequila. Because we are a dry boat, we enjoy a nice cocktail at anchor or in the marina.

The marina offers us a payed service to help us check-in into Mexico and we gladly accepted it. A typical Mexican thing is the TIP, a temporary, 10 years, import permit for your boat. The other thing are the Aviso de Arribo and de Salida, with you need in every port with a Port Captain.

On the first turn into the docks, no propulsion on my Port engine. My folding prop was needle rapped, ergo closed, with kelp.

Follow Sailors

In every marina you meet new people on boats, friendly, most experienced. Always with a word of advise and a strong story of high seas and strong winds just around the corner. And the numbers are really getting big as its all in feet.

The ongoing feet-meters, liters-US gallons, phantoms and fl-oz. confusion continues. Even the thread of bolts and nuts is different. And indeed SV Kiskadee is a metric boat. Hilarious, when my crew member looking at the Navionics chart in disbelief because he interrupted my 2 meters depth as 2 feet… So approaching a dock, it makes a lot of difference 3 feet or 3 meters… Conversion is easy, with the exception of F to C. So we know below 65 is cold and above 73F is nice. Enjoy

The first pictures of Mexico.

Bars, bars, bar

Sailing down the Pacific Coast of the US. Bars, bars, bars. Is this post about drinking? No, it is about waves, jetties and shallow water when entering a bay, harbor or marina. We started going south from B.C. Canada toward Mexico at the first week of October. That is certainly the beginning of autumn with a different weather pattern. With a pro dominant Northern wind which is oké when going South. The bad thing, there are more depressions with high winds and a North East direction. The wind isn’t the bad aspect, it’s the waves rolling onto the shore that is the factor to be aware off.

So the Pacific is deep, 1000 meters and beyond and it goes back to zero in 30 NM. When entering a harbor, marina on the west coast in the state of Washington, Oregon or California it’s usual a shallow bay or cove, protected by side jetties, partly submerged. Sometimes a canal, 20-30 feet deep, dredged. The entrance is called a bar…..

So the buildup of waves, rolling in from the west, can be 12-18 feet and then also breaking and rolling. That is a scary thing to look at and definitely not something you want to be in.

Website and Coast Guard for Bars

So information is key, you can’t go and have a look and be safe at the same time. Luckily their is a site for Bar Observations (by the Portland Meteo Office). And almost every harbor has a local coast guard with info on VHF 22A. (Switch your marifon from International to US)

A lot off actual data can be retrieved from NOAA buoys. Look at the app NOAA Bouy Reports in Google or Apple store. A graphical interface makes things so much easier.

Strategy for Bars

The down site, it takes a week before clearing up, the sea needs at least 2 days to calm down. And then you need 2,5 days for your next 300 NM south and the next harbor. So if the bar is open hop on the back a southwards going depression and sneak in the next harbor before the next depression arrives. It’s all about “reading” the weather predictions.

When 40-60 NM outside the coast, waves are back to 6-9 feet (2-3 meter) with a wavelength of 12-15 seconds. And in the same direction as the 15-20 knots of wind. So for a Seawind catamaran that is more or less a “perfect” combination. We like the sound of riding down a wave, the goorgeling sound of water under the bridge deck, salon floor. When the wind dies down, waves are back to 3 feet.

Most Harbors in WA and OR are fishery harbors, we visited Port Angeles, Grays Harbor/Westport, Goos Bay/Charleston, Bodega Bay. In general enter at slack tide, high water. For instance Bodega Bay is really shallow. We spent 13 days at Westport, partly because we did a 4 days road trip to Eugene, but mostly because the bar was closed. We skipped the Columbia river, Astoria. Notoriously difficult at high winds and wicked currents.

San Fransisco Bay

More south we stopped at San Fransisco Bay, Santa Barbara and Catalina Harbor. More relaxed, better temperature. San Fransisco Bay is special because of the Golden Gate bridge crossing. We came in by night, because of the slack tide we needed and a full moon. We anchored down town. I appreciated the site of Patrick Twohy with a top recommendation for Aqautic Park.

In Santa Barbara the main thing beside relaxing and eating out, aka anything else then fish and chips, was a visit to the West Marine shop. Needed a few things including a new barber hauler line for my Jib.

Catalina Harbor is a unplanned stop because of a gail warning of the Coast Guard. So some extra time on a nice anchorage. Mexico here we come ….

Look at the Photo Gallery for more pictures.

Boat Work in Canada

After our crossing to the Pacific Coast with a lot of mileage and severe weather, we where in need of some maintenance and repairs, spare parts and improvements.

James Conan, the Canadian representative of the Seattle Seawind dealership contacted us and helped us with all kinds of contacts, advice, arrangements etc. Thanks James

James arranged a meeting with Philbrooks Boatyard (PB) in Van Isle Marina at Sidney B.C. Our liancé, project manager is Daniel Thompson, daniel.thompson-at-philbrooks-period-com, who talked us through our wishes, helped us with the planning, did the estimates and introduced us to a lot of his fantastic colleges etc. etc. A few tips and tricks to maximize the experience:

  1. Prepare your work list in advance and send it to Daniel at least two weeks before arriving in Canada, 
  2. Make sure there is room in the PB planning, so if you arrive at Van Isle Marina, they can start right away,
  3. If you want to apply for the work to be tax free, (12% in summer 2023)
    • you need to be a non-Canadian vessel;
    • Van Isle Marina must be your first port of entrance, yes there is a customs dock;
    • ask PB to obtain the waiver before starting any work,
  4. Any expertise not available, like a certified gas technician, will be arranged by PB;
  5. You can ‘shop’ at the PB supply room. Marcus, the guy in charge, is a walking encyclopedia, well connected to any supplier. He managed to find my a few exotic Lewmar parts, busses for my water pump, soft cradle for my outboard etc etc.
  6. It helps if you are on board and helps with the jobs, to build up your own knowledge, less hours and expectations-execution, results close to each other.

We like the Canadian way of doing things. Knowledgeably, skilled, no language barrier, hourly rates are better than US WA rates, good work ethics, friendly.

We like Sidney B.C because their are 2 Chandleries, A Yanmar dealer, UK  sails for  a repair and Blackline, also a Boatyard with a rigging department to help us with some issues

We liked PB for their work and reasonable docking prices. We did some extra projects.

We like Sidney B.C. because Victoria Int. Airport is extually in Sidney, easy bus right to Victoria, shops, grocery, a few nice restaurants etc. And the summer weather in B.C. is top. For us none US/Canadian buying a local (prepaid) SIM made everything so much easier in communication. From calling a cab to a reservation. 

 It’s a great place to start some motor-sailing the famous Gulf Islands and surroundings.