July 17, 2016

We're in Alaska again!


Late June we left Kauai. Terry followed us down the stunning Na'Pali coast.


We saw two types of dolphins,
bottlenose and probably Hawaiian spinner. They played in the front of our boat.


We anchored off of Nihau
to get a good night's sleep. We could not go on shore but there was lots of plastic (black buoys) on the
Then we set off in the rising sun. At first there was no wind but then there were lots of big waves and we
were all seasick to death. We were joined by different types of albatrosses. Otherwise we didn't see a lot.
One day we saw another sail boat but they didn't respond to our radio calls. We had two 'blind passengers'
on board, they were two fish we found on deck. One was a small Marlin and the other was a flying fish. It was


We haven't seen a whale yet. On day 9 we got to open a present from our friends in Hanalei. It was full of so many delicious things! Thank you!!


It was nice and warm but now it is getting cold. Meret is our English
teacher (yay) and Cornelia our regular teacher.
-Salina, over and out.


Now, we are really near to the high. We have noo wind so we made an ice ladder. We were climbing it like
monkeys. We saw a big white buoy floating by from up there, Noe saw it first.


One week later we see dolphins for the first time since we left Nihau. There were about 30. They didn't
come to the boat and swam past quickly. Sometimes 7 or more jumped together. It was amazing.
Then, someone called Andri had this crazy idea to go swimming in the cold water. We put a yellow rope with
a red fender out the back of Pachamama. There was a lot of current so we held on tight. The jellyfish stung
us like mosquitoes!


The next day we saw a yellow part of a boat floating in the water. I made a pizza for dinner. It was the first
one on Pachamama for years.


A few days later, we were at dinner and then Salina spotted a whale. He was big.
-written by Andri


It was so grey and rainy. Salina was the first to see land. Yaaay! Alaska is awesome. It was really really
good to see land and all the green grass again.


So we saw really much puffins and we saw a seal and then we
saw lots of sea otters. And then we even saw a whale, it was a small humpback. Maybe it had just left its mum.
The water had a lot of kelp. There was a strong current and there were lots and lots of tornadoes (whirls) in
the water. We saw a big boat when we came around the corner, it was there last time too. Maybe it is anchored
because it hasn't moved since last time. We think it gets fish from the little boats. There was much smoke coming
out the top of it.
We are in the Aleutians. We saw some solar panels for a little weather station. There was an eagle on the weather
station. We thought we saw a sheep too. It was like all the animals from Alaska came to say hello to us.
-dictated by Noé

2016-07-16_usa-alaska-dutch-harbor_cory-anna-arrival feast.JPG

A huge thank you to Cory and Anna for making us the best arrival breakfast feast ever!


To follow us while we are underway, click here.

To see more photos click here!

The TOPtoTOP DVD is now online!!!

TOPtoTOP in Southern California
Here is a video by Gary Headrick.

SPADE ANCHOR were amazing! When our anchor bent they sent us a new one all the way to Hawaii.
A huge thank you to Danielle and Fabien at spade anchor for being so supportive and helping us out!
Check out this link to see some footage of our brand new spade anchor.

Posted by dario at 1:40 AM

July 25, 2016

Auf geht's nach Hawaii! (Andri & Noé)


20. April 2016
I am visiting the Catalina Island with my family. I got to go to school for two days, with the kids from
the island. For fun, we went wake boarding. On the way to a camp we saw a buffalo very close. We also got
to go on the water marine. From the glass-bottom boat we saw a lot of different fishes. Some were orange and
some were black-white. I have been having a lot of fun.

25. April 2016
Wir waren von Catalina abgefahren. Wir begegneten einem Frachtschiff . Der Kapitän hat uns mit dem Scheinwerfer
gewarnt. Das Frachtschiff hat Kontener und Lastwagen. Am Abend ist es finster in unserem Boot. Wir gingen
jetzt ins Bett. Wir waren müde. Am Morgen sind wir am Dock von Dana Point angekommen. Um 7 Uhr ist Dan,
der Arzt, gekommen. Er hat Salinas Ohr angeschaut.

Später habe ich aufs WC gehen müssen. Salina, Desirée und ich sind zu drei verschiedenen WCs gegangen, erst
das dritte WC war offen, die anderen waren verschlossen. Den Rest vom Tag haben wir Schule gehabt.

Am nächsten Tag ist Dan wieder gekommen. Wir gingen mit ihm zum Swimmingpool. Am Abend assen wir Pizza mit
unseren Gästen. Um 6 Uhr am Morgen sind wir nach Ensenada (Mexico) losgesegelt. Wir hatten 26 Stunden. Hier
reden sie spanisch. Wir gingen zu einem Harbor. Es war aber nicht gut wegen dem Schwell. Wir gingen zu einem
anderen Harbor. Auf dem Weg haben wir die Fender ausgebracht. Ein Fender war nicht gut angebracht und wir haben
ihn verloren. Ich sprang in meiner Unterhose ins Wasser und holte den Fender. Es war ganz gefährlich weil es hatte
eine Strömung. Ich bin ganz schnell geschwommen im kalten Wasser. Nahe am Boot hat mir Mama ein Seil zugeworfen.
Emilie nahm den Fender auf, Mama zog mich auf Bord. Dann gingen wir Tanken.

1.Mai 2016
Vor 3 Tagen haben wir 2 Schulen von Delfinen gesehen. Es waren etwa 100 Delfine. Heute haben wir 2
blinde Passaschiere gehabt: 2 Tintenfische, aber ganz ganz kleine wie hier:


Wir sehen jeden Tag Wasser und haben immer am Morgen SCHULE. Heute habe ich ein Mathetest gehabt.

5. Mai
Mama hat an der Angelleine gesehen, dass etwas zog. Es war ein Thunfisch. Papa hat ihn schnell eingeholt.
Er hat ihn totgeschlagen. Noe und Salina haben alles ausgegrübelt, es war blutig. Noe und Ryen assen ein
Stück roh. Mama hat ihn mit Zitrone, Reis und Sauce gebacken. Ich habe Suppe gegessen, weil ich nicht Fisch
mag. Es war ganz fein.

Wir sind auf dem Boot. Ich habe mit Salzwasser geduscht, mit einem Kübel. Heute sind wir auf dem Genackerbaum
mit dem Klettergurt hinausgeklettert und sind über dem Wasser gebaumelt. Es war ganz cool.
Wir sind N19° W136°.

Wir haben 30m2 zum Wohnen. Wir waren am meisten 12 Personen an Bord. Kannst du dir vorstellen, 7 Wochen lang
immer nur blaues Wasser zu sehen?

20. Mai
Heute sind wir ganz froh, dass alle gesund sind.
Alegra hat Geburtstag gehabt. Es war cool, weil wir eine Schatzsuche gemacht haben.
Wir hatten 2 Fische an der Angel. Sie waren soo stark, dass sie den Silch gerissen haben.
Die Schule ist gaaaanz anders. Kannst du dir vorstellen, wenn du zu einem Kollegen schaust, siehst du auch Meer
und Wellen, wo diese Geräusche machen? Ja so ist es!

Jetzt sind wir N19° W150°. Was ist das? Das ist, wo man ist auf der Erde. Es gibt Längengrade und Breitengrade.
Die Längengrade gehen vom Nordpol zum Südpol, die Breitengrade sind waagrecht aufeinander wie hier. Die Zeichnung
hilft dir.
Wir sind etwa in der Mitte von H und T. Was das ist, erzähl ich euch ein nächstes Mal.


28. April


Posted by dario at 4:12 AM

Course to steer: north to Nome

After the 17 day passage across the North Pacific, we were warmly welcomed in Dutch Harbor on the 15th
of July. Thank you to Cory, Anna, Elijah, Sofia and Carlin for welcoming us into your home for a few days!

Since we knew we would have to keep heading north as soon as possible ships maintenance was our top priority.
Our autopilot had stopped working just as we approached the coast of the Aleutians. We managed to fix it before
leaving though.

Mia's haemoglobin counts had been low towards the end of the passage so Sabine went to get her tested in the
local clinic. On Friday her levels were low and we thought we may have to come up with possible alternatives
to doing the North-West Passage. However, after the elders John and Ken kindly came on board on Monday morning
and prayed for her, her levels were perfect on Monday. A miracle. This means we can travel on without worrying.
A huge thank you to John and Ken.


We got to do a lovely hike to two lakes just above Dutch Harbor, where we found two pieces of plastic, saw a family
of foxes and cooked delicious Salmon over the fire. The kids are happy to be back in Alaska: "We picked sooo many
blueberries and salmonberries!!!"




Monday evening Dario did a presentation in the library. Then we stocked up on food and got ready to leave Tuesday
midday, while the tides and the weather were still in our favour.

The passage to Nome started off with a burst in wildlife around us. Noé reports: "And then we sailed away and we
saw maybe 15 humpback whales. No wait, for sure 15 humpbacks and around those whales there were thousands of birds.
Alegra and I also saw a sea otter."

The seabirds continued to whizz around our boat the whole passage. We saw puffins, guillemots, fulmars, storm petrels and
many more we couldn't identify.We had very good winds to start off with. Even with a drift anchor to slow the boat down we did 170nm the first day.

2016-07-22_usa-alaska-bering-sea_sailing-in the-bering-sea.JPG

The Bering Sea is a very shallow sea, which means the waves can build quite high after coming from
deeper areas. Luckily, they came from behind and we surfed down them. We are nearing the place people probably crossed
to the Americas thousands of years ago!

Our autopilot gave up again two days before we arrived, so we had someone at the helm constantly. Just before we
left Dutch Harbor all of us got some warm fishermen's gloves, which we were very grateful for at this point.

We didn't see any marine debris apart from a buoy floating 30nm offshore of Nome. It was a grey wet, morning but
the day ended with a glorious sunset half an hour before midnight.



As we arrived in Nome we met EJ. EJ is a gold digger. He dives for gold just off the coast of Nome here even in
the winter! He showed us some gold digging rigs in the Bering Sea. They have big excavating arms to dig up the
material and clean out the sediments to get the gold.


Today Salina, Andri, Noé and Alegra finally got to go fishing! They were very excited. We had seen so many salmon
jumping in the river here the night before. Andri caught at least six. Salina and Alegra gutted the fish. We look
forward to eating salmon they caught.



Posted by dario at 4:45 AM

July 31, 2016

Nome continued...

28th July 2016 Location: Nome, Alaska 64°30′14″N, 165°23′58″W

The past few days in Nome have been busy getting everything ready for our nearing departure. Christina our
last crew member for the passage, also a teacher, joined us on Tuesday. Her parents came along for a day too,
it was great to have them here briefly. Dario did a presentation at the Rotary Club on Wednesday (yesterday),
which was a good opportunity to connect with fellow Rotarians. We also successfully filled up our fuel tank.



This morning we had the honor of welcoming Richard Beneville, the mayor of Nome himself, on Pachamama. Here
is a short video of how Nome notices the impacts of Climate Change:

During the crossings to Dutch Harbor and Nome we noticed three leaks. So the past few days have been dedicated
to finding and fixing them. To find a leak you basically go to the general area where things are getting wet,
e.g. the windows of our heads. Then you use water to pinpoint exactly where the water is coming into the boat.
This is easier said than done and it took us most of a day to peel back enough layers of foam and insulating
materials to find the exact leaks. The water in Salina's cupboard seems to be coming in via the bolts that
fix the wooden toe rail to the hull. These bolts have corroded a little and this is allowing water to pass.
The other two leaks are windows that don't seem to be tight anymore. The rubber has grown a little old. Check
out the pictures to get a better idea.




The toe rail is a bunch of pieces of wood around the outside of the deck of the boat. Each piece is screwed
to the hull in several places. Since we don't know if the water is running in through the wooden corks above
the screws or under the Sikaflex that should seal it to the boat. We assumed it may be the Sikaflex, so Alegra
and Meret spent an hour or so removing it from around the dodgy toe rail. This will allows us to clean it and
renew the Sikaflex, which should fix the leak.

2016-07-28_usa-alaska-nome_alegra-helping-fix-leaking-toe-rail (2).jpg

In the meantime, Christina, Cornelia, Andri and Noé were sanding
the parts of the wooden window frames, which had started to rot a little or where the coat of varnish had
started to come off. Later, we also sanded the stairs into the galley and gave everything a nice new layer
of varnish. Since we removed the stair to sand and varnish them and had to wait for the new layer of varnish
on the stairs to dry, we now all have to jump down into the boat and climb out.


A friendly bald eagle sat on our Windex wind indicator in Dutch Harbor and managed to bend it. Luckily, Christina's
parents managed to find another one and brought it with them all from Switzerland. Salina had the honor of
winching (essentially pulling with a little help) Dario up the mast to exchange the old one.


This afternoon we joined Keith and the members of the Cross Country Ski Club's their clean-up of the town snow
dump. We filled many bright yellow bags with plastic and all sorts of other items, such as a scooter, that the
snow left behind when it melted! Here is a little snippet from Keith about what he does:

2016-07-28_usa-alaska-nome_clean-up-snow-dump-all volunteers.jpg


New ice charts show there is still ice around Point Barrow, so since the wind isn't great yet either, we
will wait here a few more days.

Posted by dario at 7:01 AM

29th July 2016
Location: Nome, Alaska
64°30′14″N, 165°23′58″W

Today it rained and rained and rained some more. It reminded everyone of Cordova. The children felt at home in all their
rain gear.


We had hoped to finish fixing the toe rail and windows but for that we needed to open the windows
and the wood of the toe rail would have to be dry. So the kids had a couple of hours of school. Salina and Andri
have been having their German and math end of year exams.

Sabine also did a quick interview with Bobby, a gold miner. Watch the video to see what equipment they use to mine
for gold, just off the coast in the Bering Sea here:

Sabine went to stock up once again on food in general and food for the eventuality of having to overwinter in
the ice. Thanks to Christina we had lots of new fresh fruits from anchorage already. Dario was in charge of finding
new motor batteries.
Here's a birds-eye view of Pachamama almost ready to set sail, which Dario took yesterday.


After hours of rain we decided to put a tarp over the toe rail and reroute the water flowing from the deck, but
even so it was too moist for anything to dry! Nonetheless Christina and Sabine cleaned and sanded the whole aluminium,
primer and paint around the toe rail. Maybe we'll have more luck tomorrow to finish the job.

Seeing as it was Friday, we decided not to let the long daylight to fool us, as it had us working until dusk the last
few days, and finish a little earlier. We had promised to cook dinner for Lew, who has been kindly letting us use
his internet, washing machine and shower. Afterwards, we went to a concert in the elementary school. The Super Saturated Sugar
Strings played as part of the Salmonberry Jam Folk Festival here in Nome.


Posted by dario at 9:06 AM

30th July 2016
Location: Nome, Alaska
64°30′14″N, 165°23′58″W

We awoke to a windy but sunny day. Perfect for what we had planned for the day. First we joined a race here
in Nome. TOPtoTOP has a habit of joining any race that is happening wherever they are at that point. Dario and Christina
were our cyclists, while Cornelia and Andri ran and Sabine, Mia, Alegra, Noé and Meret walked and jogged intermittently.
It was a wonderful way to see some more Muskox and a little more of the countryside around here. In the meantime,
Salina got to go to a workshop with the cellist from the Super Saturated Sugar Strings.




All back on the boat the work began! We cleaned all the windows, which entailed taking away all the old silicon sealant
over the screws holding the window to the hull and the cleaned rubber around the window. Then windows were stuck
down and sealed using silicon.
Here, a picture of our newly varnished stairs drying out on deck:


Andri helps out by cleaning the gun. The gun may become handy when we need to scare off too nosy polar bears.


When the boat is too messy to eat lunch on, the pontoon becomes the best second option. Mia does this in style.


We also finished the sanding and cleaning of the toe rail and got rid of all the dust using acetone. Then a
layer of primer was added to the aluminium and let to dry. Then the new layer of Sikaflex was added once again
sealing the gap between the toe rail and the hull. Just to be on the safe side Dario also tightened the bolts
and added nuts to keep them in place better. Hopefully all our leaks are no longer leaks!


Thank you to Roland for giving us their smaller oxygen tank in case we need to dive to look at the underside
of the boat or keel.

To say goodnight a picture of the midnight sun, that is confusing all our body clocks. More pictures here!

See our current location by clicking here.

Please also help us save Pachamama! To find out more click here. This is our challenge until the end of the year!

Posted by dario at 9:08 AM