Through the high, making good progress

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Day 11 Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Lat. 37.30 S Long 163.40 W Course: 05 T Speed 5.5 knots  Wind NE 20+knots Waves NE 1.5 metres Cloud 99% Barometer: 1020 Falling
Distance in last 24hrs: 108 nm Distance to Rarotonga: 996 nm Distance to Cape Flattery 5571 nm

Wonderful to wake up this morning to WW II surging along at 6+ knots and in the right direction. We made it through the “High”with a great deal of help from Perkins and one of our Raymarine 2000 electric auto helms, and me, of course. I enjoyed the calm of the high, no water on deck, a chance to air everything out – rain gear, cushions, sleeping bag and anything else that could benefit from the sun’s healing rays. The motion, although at times can still be difficult, was a lot less than what we are experiencing this morning. I think we’ll reach one hundred miles for our daily run today which is good.

Very special treat this morning – a Gisborne grapefruit, one of three beauties given to me by Sally and Neil Knight, and right from their back garden, I believe. So sweet and juicy. It’s interesting now that I think about it the amazing oranges I have on board were given to me by Suzy and John McKendry and their three great children, Holly, Matt and Georgia. They all mentioned something about scurvy as well. There’s a connection Gisborne has with being the first place Captain Cook landed in New Zealand, although it was not so amicable a landing as history records it. Hence the name “Poverty Bay” that Cook gave their beautiful waterfront.

I got an email from Alek VK6 APK (in Perth, Australia) yesterday with instructions on how, if I have the right equipment, I could rescue what remains of my damaged solar panel. I’ll study that again this morning and see what we can do. Alek is one of my ham radio guys, and is a real MacGyver kind of guy. Thanks Alek!

Although we had cloud cover for most of the night, I woke around 2:30 to catch the moon setting on the western horizon. It was lying on its back and softly, with and orange glow, slid into the ocean. Most of the afternoon it was visible high overhead, very bright white and clear.

I’m off to make breakfast. Oats this morning.

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Managing in a seaway

 

Day 5 Friday December 2, 2016 @ 03.25 local time

12216-w-chatham-islands Lat 42.51 S,Long 171. 55 W Course 96 T Speed 6.8 knots Wind S 15 knots Waves SW 4 metres Cloud 75% Baro 1011 steady
Range CH 4086 nm 
Distance in last 24 hrs: 140 nm

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Back down below after a half hour on deck taking down the pole from the yankee. The dawn is breaking and as always, the most amazing thing about going up on deck is the enormous sea that is running. The motion below I have gotten used to and belies the great size of the waves.

There are petrels gliding by looking for offal. Sadly for them, my greatest offering would be my old tea bag at best. These seas cause WW II to yaw a fair bit when we are off the wind, it makes the yankee flutter,  and it shakes the whole mast.  It’s difficult to deal with. I am going to have to go back up and see what I can do to stop it. I will probably roll the yankee back in a bit and see how that works. Last night at dusk in amongst the pinking clouds I spied the sliver of the new moon. It will be nice to have that as company as it waxes over the next few weeks. I hope your day is dawning well.

06:40

Tea’s here beside me and the sun is up high enough on our port side to fill the nav. station with cloud filtered morning light. There’s light but no real heat which I have to admit would be nice this morning as it is a bit nippy. Got my fleece on and collar turned up. Finger tips need some rubbing but breath is not visible yet.

I finished Wade Davis’s  The Wayfinders last night. The litany of cultural genocide portrayed in great detail was enlightening but left me feeling guilty and ashamed at the plight of indigenous people around the planet. He did portray Canada as a modern country which in his opinion is moving in the right direct though. Felt like I took a first year Anthropology course and enjoyed it. It is wonderful that such dedicated people have pursued the study of indigenous people and in a very honest way recorded their stories.

My next book will be Bill Bryson’s A short History of Nearly Everything. I definitely need to laugh out loud. I read one of his books about Australia “Down Under” on my passage from Fremantle to Opua, NZ a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you Sally and Neil Knight of Gisborne for giving me this book.

It is important to note that at this very moment the wind has picked up and we are surging along at the breakneck speed of 7+ knots and Fleming seems to have everything in control. I hope it stays that way. I have been conservative in my sail area during the night not wanting to have to get up quickly to react to an increase in wind. This seems to be working fine for now.  

There are several rain squalls around us this morning so I imagine it will be exciting sailing through those. Have to keep a hand on the tea mug.

Another project I’m starting is the carving of a wooden chain out of a solid piece of wood. A shipwright in Opua, Graeme Rigden, an incredible talent, gave me a couple of pieces of wood from his shop to do this project.  I picked up a small set of carving tools from Lee Valley Tools before I left and some sharpening stones. Meeting Graeme was a stroke of luck and of course I am benefiting from his generous gift of two pieces of wood  for my project. He also came down to the boat and dropped off a beautiful wooden bowl he spun out on his lathe one evening. It’s incredible, paper thin. Thank you Graeme for your kind generosity. Wade Davis would likely use Graeme, as an example of those individuals who will keep the planet safe.

My stomach is telling me it’s time for breakfast. I think a hard boiled egg and a pancake with hazelnut butter will do the trick. Making it in this seaway though is going to be a real feat. I’ve had tens of thousands of miles of practice at this, but still one never really knows if at the last minute your breakfast will land in the right place or be interrupted by a rogue wave. He, by the way is part of that same mob as the guy with the fire hose. 

Cheers from the great Southern Ocean. Have a good day and be thankful your galley isn’t moving at 7 knots over 4 meter waves.
(This is ML saying “duly noted and thankful indeed.”  :-)  

Note: A small correction to what was posted earlier. Glenn actually crossed the International Dateline today, December 2, 2016  at approximately 0:737 local time, or 1837 UTC. As this imaginary dateline zig zags in a north south direction, the exact time of crossing varies depending on your position of latitude where you crossed it.

Safety at Sea

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Day 4, December 1, 2016

Lat 42.13 S Long 174.58 W Course 123 T Speed 6.5 nm Wind: South 15 knots Waves: S 2 metres Cloud 90% Baro 1014 steady 
Range: CH 4213  Distance in Last 24hrs: 144 nm

Bright sun shine streaming through the port  side windows (ports) this morning, quite chilly outside, lovely and fresh. Thought I got a glimpse of a Suka off the stern this morning. This is a hawk-like bird and quite clumsy looking in its flight compared to the petrels. I will look it up in the bird book later and confirm. There many birds around due to our close proximity to the Chatham Islands. Unfortunately I have the smell of a burnt beans from my stew permeating the cabin this morning instead of the more pleasant aroma of Bergamot from my Earl Grey tea. I must have spilled some of my stew on the stove burner last night when I was ladling it onto the rice.  Add cleaning the stove to the list this morning.

Good sleep, only up a few times which is to be expected. I’m still not sure I have the right time zone but I will check things out in the almanacs I have on board. I’m going to start carving my wooden chain out of a solid block of wood this morning,

I’ll have to take my time and get it right. Also thinking of getting the GoPro Kite project on the go as well.

So combine that with my Yoga at Sea class, keeping the boat going, navigating, and feeding myself, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to fit it all in. And, oh yes, I see its vacuuming day as well (Imagine!). Maybe have to put the Kite project on hold.

Reading Wade Davis’s “The Wayfinders” and it has me thinking of the great inhumanity toward humanity.  So, I’m looking for some positive sign we’re going to save the world. Not sure where to find that but to look outside where I am, things here seem to be in order or as they should be.

To answer a few questions people posted through the blog…

Q: Do you ever feel seasick when you start your journey, the transition from land to sea? Or is that a malady for the unaccustomed?

A:  Everyone reacts differently to the wave action of the sea. From no reaction to full on coma. I’m lucky, other than my appetite is a little off. I have very little reaction to the transition from shore to sea, although if it is very rough in the first few days eating is not high on the menu, so to speak.

Q: Are you tethered to the boat at all times? The thought of losing your footing and falling overboard would scare the you know what out of me let alone the  eerie silence of the night.

A: As the famous UK circumnavigator Dee Caffari once said to me, “You can’t finish if you’re not on board”. Good advice, I thought. I have every intention of coming home. Wearing the harness is a two-edged sword, sometimes it’s absolutely essential and other times it’s more trouble than it’s worth. The weather and motion of the boat dictate its use. Night time is one of the times I absolutely need to wear it. Reefing of the main sail is done on deck at the mast and it’s a lot easier to do with two hands. On a cold dark and stormy night when the boat is awash – waves constantly over the entire boat, and I have to go up to the mast, I do have my harness and safety line on. I hook it to the “Jack line ” that runs from the cockpit along the deck to the bow. Most of the time in conditions like this, I am on all fours as low inside the lifelines as I can get till I get to the mast, then I stand up and transfer the safety line to the mast, step up on the coach house beside the mast and rap one leg around the mast and start the reefing procedure. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes, sometimes an hour and of course all that time, the guy with the fire hose is laughing his head off as he tries to get the water down the back of my neck or up my pant leg.

At this point, my eye glasses could definitely do with automatic wipers. So here I am holding on for dear life my leg tethered to the mast, almost blind, trying to work with lines that the wind is tearing at, saying to myself, “You can do this Glenn.” Occasionally I have to laugh, what was I thinking getting out of that nice warm bunk to come here and be violated by mother nature and the fire hose guy.

All seriousness aside, the safety harness is 50% psychological and 50% practical.  Marylou who is here in my heart, is sometimes standing right beside me saying “If you go over the side I’ll kill you.”

There are always risks in life. I have worked as a logger, a fisherman, and have been in the construction industry all my life. Risk of injury has always been with me and I have a huge respect for the consequences of ignoring it. By the grace of God go I. To him or her, all I ask is safe passage back home to those loving arms.

If I had crew on board they would not be allowed to leave the main hatch without their safety harness on. Double standard you might say and you’re right, but I’m still the Captain.

Hope that answers some of your questions. I’m happy to answer them, and thanks for being there.

 

Light winds overnight

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Day 2 November 29, 2016 @ 04:45

The winds have been light and shifting back and forth all night. As you can probably see on the InReach Google map, our track is somewhat erratic. I’ve had the motor on since 2:00 am at 500 RPMs, just enough to keep us going in the right direction.

By the look of the dawning red sky off the bow we are indeed heading away from NZ. The wind has shifted to the west and along with it the sweet smell of hay and sheep. I hope the wind fills in with the sunrise.

We have some very big steep waves coming from the south west and smaller waves coming from the north east. These two sets of waves and light wind make it impossible to keep sail up as the waves shake all the wind out of the sails as each one passes. We need more wind and less sea in order to sail this morning. I’ve taken the jib in and we have two reefs in the main to stop the slatting. As you can imagine sleep has been illusive. 

I’m looking forward to the new day dawning to see what it brings to get us on our way. We aren’t fussy, we’ll work with just about anything. 

I’m going to lie down beside the motor and try to get some sleep. Just had a section of juicy orange from Gisborne. So sweet!

Will check in later.
G

Goodbye Gisborne


WEst Wind II leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Day 1 Monday, November 28, 2016 @ 17:30 leaving Gisborne, New Zealand

Lat 38.45 S Long 178.31 E Wind:SW 10 knots, Waves: SW 2 metres, Course: 85 True, Speed: 4.5 knots, Cloud: 60%, Temperature: 13° C

Its 5:30 in the afternoon and the sun is streaming down on me as I sit at the nav station typing. I have the “iron main” on and my ear plugs in. There isn’t enough wind to sail and I want to get as far offshore as I can before it gets dark to avoid or at least see the traffic going up and down the east coast. I just spoke with Cliff. It was a short sked unfortunately as I had to put the engine on to stop the main from trying to destroy itself.

I left Gisborne’s inner harbour at noon with lots of wind and I’m sure if Peter had not helped me getting out it would have been next to impossible to leave. I chose to leave at the same time as the freighter that was in loading up with logs destined for China, so ended up doing several tight circles to kill time and stay out of the way of the two big tugs escorting her out. Once out into Poverty Bay, I had a good breeze but after leaving Young Nick’s Head off the stern the wind started to fall light. There are three swell patterns and so motoring with the main up was the most comfortable way to go and here we are with the old Perkins (engine) vibrating away.

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I had a tough time leaving Gisborne. In only a week, I had become quite attached to the charming city and most of all the lovely people who helped me do a number of difficult repairs. The first night I wandered up to the fishing club and was very quickly signed in by one of the club members. I sat outside and enjoyed a cold beer and emailed Marylou and caught up on the phone with her. I ordered dinner and when it arrived John McKendry invited me to join his family at their table for dinner. His wife Suzy and their three great children Holly, Georgia and Matt were very welcoming and I felt very much at home with them. The next morning John was down at the boat and offered to take me to get the dodger stitched and then off to the electronics shop, to see Laurie at Colvin’s about repairs to the Ham radio.

This is John’s town so he took me to meet the right people to get my repairs done as soon as possible. For an out-of-towner on a tight schedule finding the right people is so very important. I was invited back to John’s for dinner several times with offers to use the laundry and have a shower. He introduced me to his friends and they in turn invited me for dinner all the while having my repairs professionally dealt with in amazing time. Greg Pawson rolled up his sleeves and put his great gift for fixing things to work on the broken engine mount and in an afternoon we had the motor lifted, the bracket removed, repaired and reinstalled ready to go and then I had to cajole him into letting me pay for his incredible effort. New Zealanders are the most accommodating, generous people I have ever met and Gisborne has more than its share of warm friendly people.

 

112816I’m about 20 miles offshore now and New Zealand is dipping below the horizon along with the evening sun and I am here aboard West Wind II alone and feel sad to have left such good friends. I have just been on deck to roll out the jib and turn the Perkins off in the hope of sailing. There’s a school of dolphin playing around our bow. The wind is very light but hopefully with nightfall there will be enough to take us offshore and on our way again. All is well.

 

 

The best of New Zealand

sailing to Waiheke

sailing to Waiheke

We’re now home from New Zealand with great memories and new friends. My original goal of bringing West Wind II back to Canada was not realized, but the foundation for that voyage was well and firmly laid at the end of this year. In lieu of that goal we spent several months in NZ interrupted by one quick trip home and back for business reasons.

I caught up with old friends I had first met in NZ in 1969 when I was travelling with my long time friend Mike Lemche. Our Australian mate Andy McLellan whom we had also met in 1969 joined us in NZ. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to get together with both of them once more for old times sake. Once they left, I got down to the serious preparations for leaving NZ .

Our daughter Claire, who lives and works in Auckland, decided she would like to join me on the sail home, so I gladly waited until she got her affairs in order and was able to join me on West Wind II for the leg to Tahiti with one stop in the Austral Islands. She and I got provisions, gave our 72 hour notice to the Customs office and set out one morning around 11:00 am. We found a good breeze after leaving the Bay of Islands and were making good time in some fairly heavy seas when I noticed we were taking on more than a healthy amount of water in the bilge around the forward keel bolts. This was more than a little disconcerting and I decided to turn back to NZ to try and solve the situation.

When we arrived back in Opua, I was able to take West Wind II out of the water and sit her up on the hard. During the next week to ten days,  I consulted with local experts and pursued many theories. I realized the problem was not the catastrophic failure of the keel bolts but a combination of several not so obvious symptoms. West Wind has almost 20,000 nautical miles under her keel since leaving Victoria in Sept 2013, all of which are open ocean miles. She has sat at the wharf in both Fremantle and Opua for almost two years waiting patiently to return home, and at the moment she is in need of some TLC. She has many stubborn deck leaks that allow water to build up in several areas of the bilge and behind bulkheads which release a steady flow of water when she heels over and tacks. This, I misconstrued as leaky keel bolts. That is not to say that the forward three bolts, as a result of failed caulking in the leading edge of the keel where it meets the fibreglass hull, were not susceptible to allowing some water up through their threads. I was able to remedy this in the yard and it is no longer the source of water in the bilge. The hawse pipe, which the anchor chain passes through at deck level as it turns out along with the chain locker was also holding a fair bit of this water and was the source of bilge water which I originally thought was coming from the keel bolts. Once I plugged the hawse pipe at deck level and caulked some of the deck fittings the so called keel bolt leaks subsided. That was the good news.  

The bad news was it meant Claire and I would be leaving NZ past the middle of December instead of mid November as I had originally planned which had us arriving in Tahiti at the beginning of their cyclone season in an El Nino year. Not a good idea. We made the decision not to go which left both of us feeling very disappointed.

The good news was that MaryLou and Nicola could join us in NZ and fulfill our family dream to do some cruising in New Zealand.  We set off to explore as many of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf as we could. Here’s a peek at some of them.

leaving Auckland

leaving Auckland harbour

This turned out to be an adventure beyond what any of us could have imagined. We found great anchorages,

 galley view

Our view from the galley 

had lots of fabulous hikes on the islands,

hiking vistas

hiking vistas

swam every day,

Waiheke waterfront

Waiheke waterfront – plantation style

and enjoyed a fine amount of NZ’s best wines and fresh food. Best of all, we met so many great Kiwis who were proud to show us their favourite spots.

I should also mention that we did have a few problems – the starter motor went on the engine which I replaced, and we ran hard aground in the mud, all of which we recovered from but will not soon forget. New Zealand is one of those places that’s difficult to visit because it’s so damned great even when it rains for two days and blows the dog off the chain.  You soon forget all that once the sun comes back out and dive over the side into that lovely green blue water or walk up a gorgeous trail and come upon a flock of sheep dotting the rich green fields.  “It’s all good” as the ever optimistic Kiwis say, and it is.

lush pastures

lush pastures

The plan is for me to return to NZ in November to try again to do what I thought I was going to do – bring West Wind II back across the Pacific and home to Victoria.

We all sat in the cockpit one afternoon and realized that WW II is our magic carpet and that she still has many adventures left in her …as do we.

rain dance

rain dance

We hope you’ll join us again in November for the adventure of the voyage home.

Thanks for being there.

       

At anchor in Kaiarara Bay, Great Barrier Island

Dec 28 7:15 am.   Kettle’s on and we’re anchored off Port Fitzroy in Kaiarara Bay on Great Barrier Island. Beautiful anchorage with natural wild hills and trees down to the water’s edge.

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The sounds of the birds breaking the silence across the mirror smooth bay as the sun comes up over mount Hobson through light morning cloud.

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 The smell of the forest is sweet in the air. There are several sail and motor boats scattered in the bay all pointing in different directions with their anchor chains hanging directly down from their bows. Very peaceful and still.

Yesterday morning we left our lovely anchorage and went up into Whangarei harbour past the oil refinery and the commercial docks to the Florida canals style community call Marsden, where we topped up with fuel then headed back out and across Parry Channel through the Hen and Chicken Islands with 40 miles to Great Barrier Island. All the islands we pass have steep volcanic terrain and scrubby natural green coverage and are uninhabited.

There were many rocky outcroppings which all seemed to have the face of an angry or sleeping man carved in them.  The crossing was a straight line over a moderate sea with a very light headwind and clear sky with fluffy white sheep clouds. We motor sailed from noon till we made land fall around 6:30 pm. Along the way, Jurassic Park peaks of Little Barrier Island kept our eyes occupied on the starboard side most of the way. This island resembles the ones of French Polynesia with steep mountain ridges and valleys and foliage that looked like it had been draped over it in one big blanket.

This was one of Claire’s must see spots in New Zealand. Along with seeing a place for the very first time from a sailboat, it was very exciting for her and for me. Everyone we talked to said that the islands many sheltered anchorages would be packed with boaters at this time of year but so far that has not been the case. 

Last night we were treated to another magical entrance by the moon, its bright white face rose above Mount Hobson the highest peak on the island, through the trees that fringe the mountain top before breaking out above their canopy and filling the bay with bright moonlight. Half an hour before that, the sun filled the horizon on the other side of the bay with many shades of red silhouetting the jagged landscape and sending its fiery light reflecting across the water of the bay to West Wind II.

This is a magical place and we feel lucky to be here. Our plan for today after breakfast is to row ashore, climb Mount Hobson and explore this amazing island.   

Love and fond regards from Claire and Glenn

Glenn receives Endurance Award from the Ocean Cruising Club (and in person February 28th)

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I was very honoured to recently receive the Ocean Cruising Club’s  ‘Endurance Award’. I proudly share this award with my wife MaryLouise who has selflessly supported me through my triumphs and agonies over these many years and nautical miles, and who created this Going Solo blog with my daily reports for the benefit of thousands of sailors and supporters. 

UPDATE:  Glenn will receive his award in person from the local chapter of the OCC in Victoria on February 28th. We’ll post photos shortly thereafter. 

Read the full OCC Media Release.

OCC AWARD for Endurance

Arrived safely in the Bay of Islands

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Jan 2, 2015

Glenn arrived safe and sound in Opua in the Bay of Islands this morning around 10 am. While he cleared Customs on the quarantine wharf, I sat on the wharf opposite anxiously waiting. After an hour or so, the lovely NZ Customs officials ferried me across to West Wind for our long awaited and sweet reunion.

We’re visiting dear friends, Mike and Deb Carere in Kerikeri tonight. We’ll sail around the Bay of Islands for 4 or 5 days, then head to Auckland to visit our daughter, then head home.

What a journey it’s been. Thank you for sharing it with us. 

All the best,

Glenn and MaryLou

 

Land HO!

Dec 31 @ 0:2:20

Dec 31 - 2

I’ve just finished my afternoon radio sked with Ted VK6NTE near Biningup WA. and Wayne VK4 XG in Brisbane. They were both good copy to me but Ted only had light copy on me so I spoke mainly with Wayne who always has 9/5 copy and booms in here across the Tasman.

It is still overcast and light grey, not too low and nothing angry in the sky at the moment. The wind is a steady 15 kts from the north and we have full yankee andtriple reefed main and doing a respectable 6 knots. The wind is supposed to build to 20 kts from the NNE this afternoon and then swing around from the Southeast around 10:00 tonight. I am at present Lat 34 49 S and Long 172 27 E which puts me 20 odd miles off 90 mile beach. This is the same beach I hiked up at the same time of year by myself in 1969, 45 years ago. I remember it vividly as if it were yesterday. The die was cast by then and nurtured over a lifetime to bring me back to this same beach across many oceans.

3 capes

This morning was a morning to plan my rounding of Cape Reinga and two other Capes, Cape Maria van Dieman just to the west of Cape Reinga and North Cape just to the East of Cape Reinga. I have set a series of four way points to guide me around this narrow and prominent land which marks the Northern tip of the North Island of New Zealand. My first way point marks a dangerous sand bank that elbows out some 15 miles from land called Pandora Bank. I am hoping to clear that around 08:00 tonight then if the wind has filled from the Southeast by then I can run before it around the next three capes and come out to the east coast of the Island some time in the morning. It is about 120 miles down to the bay of islands from there.

I won’t get much sleep tonight but it is an exciting time and I have a great deal of anticipation about these next few days. I should be able to make the land inan hour or so, as a matter of fact you may hear me announce this great moment when I see it. “Land Ho!”

I will let you know my position as I bag each Cape. Not long now ….

UPDATE @ 15:30

~~~~~~~.)~~~~~~~”Land Ho” __________!!!!!

This is a feeling so very unique, after crossing The Tasman for the third time, making land fills my whole body with joy and excitement. I am tingling all over. There were dolphins at the bow and we surged ahead as I sprung on deck bare foot and let out a reef to free another 100 square feet of sail for West Wind to turn into knots. She eagerly pushed the waves aside and joined the dolphins and myself in the celebration.

There is a wonderful earthy smell filling the air and the line on the horizon gives way to a smudge that gradually comes into focus. The land is low and gently undulating with a soft green hue. Off to the port side it rises to the Cape not yet discernible at this distance. I will continue into the bay for an hour then come round onto starboard tack and work my way past Pandora Bank and off to the Cape.

Wonderful to be on deck now with some new horizon to focus on.