Well received all of your incredible newsy emails. Thank you ever so much. I haven’t written you many emails of late. I’m in the midst of posting some of the blog entries that I’ve been collecting and writing at night. It’s a long process.
We’ve had the most incredible experiences here in Vanuatu. Exploding volcano, Rom dancing, hiking into remote African like villages, Land Diving, eating local yams and local mackerel – what adventure!
Tonight we’re anchored outside The Beachfront Resort (friendly and helpful to cruisers) on the island Espiritu Santo in Luganville and are planning to have dinner at the resort in order to benefit from their great Wi-fi X 4 people/devices. We’re hoping the wind dies down a little so our dinghy ride back in the dark to Kandu is not bumpy and wet as we’ll be transporting computers.
Eric got the engine figured out, which had been causing him angst since yesterday. Happily, the problem was apparent and the solution was simple; he had changed the oil and filters but didn’t stock up the new filters with oil, so the engine was sucking air. When we get our retrofitted pactor modem in Australia, we’ll actually be able to send emails in route over the ocean along with low-resolution photos. It will be great to have that working again along with our wind sensor.
I’ve got to send a message to Teaching Textbooks (Bryce and Trent’s math programs) regarding the discs we’re having problems with probably due to being in a salty environment since early 2015. They said they would send us replacements. We need them badly now that the boys are boat schooling full time. I must find the list of bad CD’s that we painstakingly drew-up! Where could that be? Sigh.
This week, we plan to go on a scuba dive of the USS President Coolidge 600 foot troop carrier wreck that sank in 1942 during WWII.
It is located in relatively shallow water so it will not be a problem for the boys to dive it considering their low degree of experience and skill. We also plan to take an afternoon island tour of the WWII leftovers: Million Dollar Point where the Americans dumped massive amounts of war vehicles and equipment deep into the water after the war, hospital sites, quonset barracks and shelters still in use, an old prison cell built to detain Japanese POWs, etc,
It should be a great education adding to the boys’ understanding of World War II and how it affected even the most remote peoples of the world.
Also, I think we might rent a car to tour the northern part of the island up to Port Olry, fitting in a swim in one of the celebrated Blue Hols along the coastline and a visit to Champagne Beach where the sand is beautifully fine. Friday – we’ll stock up and check out of immigration. Saturday we’ll be leaving.
Gotta go – dinner is ready. I love you, and dittoing your memorable salutation, send you back clouds of love love love, Leslie.
Samoa was a great place to visit. We visited Apia, capital city on the island of Upolu, the smaller of the two islands. The other island is called Savai’i, a bit like Hawai’i. Samoa used to be called Western Samoa to be different from ‘American Samoa.’ ‘American Samoa’ is an American overseas territory. The people of Samoa voted their country name to be simply ‘Samoa’ when it became it’s own country, independent, no longer a protectorate of New Zealand. In Apia, they have great restaurants and really nice people. The food in Samoa is much cheaper than in Tahiti and the people were always smiling. Not much Wi-Fi in Samoa but they have great surf and exciting new things to do.
There are all kinds of special natural wonders on Upolu all owned by different villages. In order to visit these sites, instead of paying a national park fee, you pay the family or village who owns and maintains the site. We got to visit the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, the To Sua Ocean Trench, and the Piula Cave Pool.
The Papase’ea Sliding Rocks was mind blowing. We asked locals how to get down to the slides just to make sure we wouldn’t get hurt. There were over a hundred well-maintained stairs to walk down. It was a hot day, so there were already a lot of people visiting the falls and slides. Dad asked a local how to slide down the rock. He went first, then I went, Bryce and mom last. It took some time for her to gather her courage. After awhile having slid a lot, Bryce and I went over to the waterfall. I went under and it felt like I was getting a massage. It was the best natural rock slide I’ve ever slid on. We all had a lot of fun.
The To Sua Trench was nothing I’ve ever seen before. When I saw it, it looked like a big blue hole in the ground. The sides were covered in vines and plants. It was located next to the ocean with what looked like pretty good surf swell. To get down into the water hole, we walked down some stairs then climbed down a ladder made out of huge trees. You can jump off the ladder at whatever height you want (no rules) then swim into the connecting cave. It was lightly raining, not cold though. Bryce and I jumped and swam to our hearts content in the refreshing fresh water.
Another day we got to swim again in cold, fresh water at Piula Cave Pool located on the north side of the island, also right next to the ocean. When you go deep in the cave where it’s dark, your body turns blue. It might turn blue because the water was super clean, or because the rock ceiling dripped water minerals in the water. It sparkled in the sun. There were two caves and we heard they were connected by a small opening that you could swim through, but the passage was dark and under the water so you would’ve had to hold your breath all the way to the other side. We didn’t have a light and a mask, so we didn’t go.
We had a great day visiting ‘The Samoan Cultural Center’ to learn about different aspects of Samoan culture. First, a trio of men danced a Samoan paddle dance.
It was much tamer than Marquesian and Tahitian dancing. It wasn’t a war dance as the three men dancing were all smiling. A woman danced too, but all she seemed to move were her arms, hardly any hip and leg movement.
After the dance, the performers treated us to a kava ceremony and explained, back when they were cannibals, if they didn’t give you a kava ceremony they would eat you. Next up, we walked to see real tattooing in progress. Samoan artists like using their old wooden tools, but in an upgraded style. They used to attach shark teeth on a stick, but now they use stainless steel combs. We got to see them tattooing on two Samoan men. It looked very painful. Every Samoan guy has the same tattoo in the same spot. For Samoan men, it’s their dream to get this tattoo, but if you start and then stop because it’s too painful, you disgrace your family. The session goes for an hour a day for six days. Lastly, we went to see how you could make clothing and artwork from bark. You cut off a branch from a specific tree, and carefully remove the bark. Then they separate the outside of the bark from the inside layer. After, you get two shells, one that is a little sharp and one that isn’t. After you’re done scrapping the bark, it’s six times the size. They stretch it out with rock as weights and let it dry. They dry it in shade letting the wind and air dry it because the sun dries it too fast.
Samoa has some great surf, but you have to pay to surf. Families own surf sites, which I don’t think is right. You can’t own a part of an ocean! Samoa is a Christian place so you can’t surf on Sundays. There are some surf resorts in Samoa and they pay to get permission from the families to go surfing, but they can only allow 12 people to surf at a time. We went to a resort and made an arrangement to surf on the following Monday morning. The spot was an hour and ½ away from our boat, and we wanted to catch the first boat out leaving early from shore at 6:30 am. So we woke up at 4:30 to drive over to the other side of the island and the surfer guide said we couldn’t go surfing with them. He said it in a really mean and aggressive way. We left and searched for another way to paddle out to the surf later that same day. When we arrived, that surf guide was frustrated we were there.
It’s said that Samoa and Tonga are where all the Polynesians came from and that the islands form a triangle in the Pacific from New Zealand in the west, to Hawaii to the north and Easter Island at the eastern corner and all the French Polynesia islands are in the triangle. Rapa Nui is the island where the performers wear the least amount of clothing when they dance. Performers in French Polynesia and Hawaii wear similar clothing, using grass and leaves, coconut shells and pareos. In New Zealand, dancers wear warmer outfits sometimes with fake animals skins. It’s cold in New Zealand even in summer.I loved the rockslide and the trench. Bryce and I had a great day surfing the Salani reef. I loved how Samoa, being next to ‘America Samoa,’ had my favorite chips that we’ve not found anywhere else: Spicy Hot Cheetos. We were going to tour Savai’i but immigration would only let us check out from Apia and dad didn’t want to sail back against the wind. After just one week only, we left to Fiji.
6-4-2017, Tuesday 23h15 – About Musket Cove and the surf.
Now on watch, I have a bit of time to recount some of our adventures in Musket Cove. From Suva, the most southeastern city of the island Viti Levu, we wanted to head west to the Western Mamanuca Islands and the renowned Musket Cove Marina and Yacht Club. With an obligatory $5 processing fee, we each became lifetime members. The Mamanuca Islands of Fiji are central to some of the best surfing in the world, boasting the legendary Cloudbreak, rated one of the top 10 waves in the world. Incidentally, the International Volcom Fiji Pro Surf Competition happened to be in full swing. As we were sailing up to Cloudbreak, we could see the hubbub and gathered boats, onlookers and surfers so we anchored the boat and hurriedly rigged up the dinghy for the boys to get close and check out the quality surf and male competitors. Bryce and Trent were ordered to be back by 15h00. Sure enough, they returned on time bubbling over with excitement, ready to haul-up anchor in order to make Musket Cove and its protection from the open ocean swell before sunset. We had a small glitch raising the anchor. The anchor, 50+ feet below, with a strong current was likely stuck on corral. Bryce quickly donned his mask and fins and dove overboard. With one hand on the chain and the other to clear his ears, he free dived as close as he could get. On his first attempt, he couldn’t get close enough to see the problem. Eric told him he didn’t have to get to the anchor, just see what it was doing. The second time, after relaxing and getting a solid breath, he plunged down the anchor chain again, determined to succeed. Once down, he realized exactly how the tip of the anchor was stuck. Under his directions, we motored forward over the corral head and with a strong tug, the anchor came free. Whew! Bryce saved the day!
Easily anchored in popular Musket Cove, we stayed put for a quiet dinner on board. Bryce was the only one who ventured out to the marina resort with the dinghy that night to try and learn how to taxi over to the various surf spots: Swimming Pools, Tavarua Rights, Second Reef, Wilkes, Restaurants and Cloudbreak. The next day, we organized a boat and I went with the boys that first afternoon. That day, our goal was Cloudbreak, but the weather was so rough and windy that we decided to stop at a closer spot called Wilkes.
The next couple times, Eric went with them to videotape. Each time it was our own private taxi boat, a little costly, but worth it, in case one spot was blown out, they could then go over to another. In all, the boys got to surf Wilkes again, Second Reef and Cloudbreak. Normally during the competition, the Cloudbreak wave would have been off limits to non-competitors, but when the competition was paused four days to wait for bigger waves, it presented perfect conditions for Bryce and Trent, so they headed over. While surfing, Bryce recognized his favorite pro surfer, Gabriel Martinez. Bryce paddled over and shook his hand. Cool beans! Eric was there video taping. Hopefully they got some good shots. Haven’t yet looked at all the media. After Fiji, the boys won’t be getting much opportunity to surf, so we really supported them to get out to the reefs everyday. Trent too had great success surfing. Bryce constantly encouraged him, which made for a happy Trent. The boys got in 4 days of great surfing.
We forgot to collect sand, darnit. I’ll have to contact Kurt Roll, a surfer/sailor/drone flier ex-patriot who lives on a modern south pacific style studio hut-boat in the Musket cove Marina. He took the boys surfing one afternoon. Maybe he’ll collect some sand for us and mail it back to Ventura for our growing collection. Every place the boys surf, we commemorate it with a vial of sand.
We also met some Danish sailors, a couple and family of 4 with 2 sons of similar age. I approached them for a game of beach volleyball. We played together a couple times and enjoyed a couple BBQ dinners and happy hours together. The father was a minister. We had much to talk about and share. Eric had recognized their sailboat from the Papeete Marina the summer before. It was lovely to meet such culturally interesting people.
The Musket Cove Resort was gorgeous and high class. We felt so spoiled being able to enjoy it without having to pay the high daily resort fees. We even got a chance to walk to the adjacent island during low tide to visit a nearby local Solevu village and school. The central village buildings were solidly constructed in cement blocks. The outlying thatch homes and structures were similar to the Polynesian style – open without glass windows. The villagers were friendly and the children at play were full of smiles and polite ‘hellos.’ Bryce had a great time amusing two little boys giving them piggy-back rides and playing ‘Catch me if you can.’ The walk back across the pass was a bit more challenging. Up to my thighs in water, I sloshed back as quickly as possible conscious of the ever rising tide and wanting to keep my clothes away from the salty water….laundry is always a consideration, of course!
6-4-2017 To Lautoka, Viti Levu from Musket Cove.
Departed Musket Cove and headed back to the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu to anchor outside the east coast city, Lautoka, to provision and check-out of Fijian customs and immigration. Lautoka is a sugar-cane oceanside town, less important than Suva. It is quite modern with a brand new shopping mall sporting many fancy shops, a restaurant court and a fancy movie theater. The downtown was large with a McDonald’s, several gas stations and well-paved streets. Apparently a Hawaiian owns all the McDonald’s in Fiji. After provisioning one afternoon, the boys and I hired a taxi to carry our many bags of groceries back to the boat and asked the taxi driver to give us a quick city tour. He brought us to a couple colorful Indian temples, drove us through nice residential areas and passed by the very large sugar cane plant. There were lines of trucks loaded with long poles of sugar cane waiting to enter. The air smelled sweet surrounding the factory. Kandu was anchored just opposite that factory and the exterior of our boat became immediately dusted from the filthy black soot blowing across the water from its hot fires.
Today, deep down in my soul, I really understand the idiomatic expression “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” I thought I did when I was raising my boys. So often, the two toddlers would be sitting at their miniature dining table while I was serving them lunch and all of a sudden, a plate would accidentally be overturned onto the floor, or a glass of milk precariously situated would get knocked over. On earlier occasions I flipped out and yelled at them, but as they grew-up I found it easier to quickly bring over a rag and clean up the mess. Less stress, less commentary, less noise. After all, it was an accident. They knew their mistake and already felt badly. With my outward show of calmness, I also felt like I was growing-up as a parent, learning patience and feeling an adult sense of satisfaction that I was better handling ups and downs.
Wherever or whenever the expression “Don’t cry over spilled milk” was born, I imagine it might have been on a family farm perhaps during a South Dakota winter where we’ll presume a young maiden or mother, rather starved, had woken very early on a frigid morning to go milk the cow for breakfast. She walks to the barn through the snow remembering this time to bring the cleaned bucket with her, sat herself down on little stool, and got hit in the face by the tail a few times while filling the bucket. She makes sure to give the cow some more hay before leaving. She almost slips on the ice as she walks back into the cottage, yet catches herself and safely places the milk on the dining table. As she is preparing to cut the half of loaf of bread they have leftover from the day before, her two young sons enter the room roughhousing. Inadvertently, the bucket of milk is knocked over. Now – I can imagine crying over that milk. No warm milk for breakfast to add to the meager bread, and the morning’s work was a waste. But what does it serve to cry?
Kandu and crew departed Lautoka, Fiji yesterday afternoon – Monday. It was a busy morning. Eric had to clear the boat out of customs and immigration, the boys and I had to get the three 15-gallon diesel jugs and one gas can filled at the gas station, all carted ashore in the dinghy along with our folding aluminum Kandu cart. I needed to get some last minute fresh food provisions that we hadn’t found over the weekend because most of the stores were closed and I wanted to try one more time to obtain some Vanuatu money, Vata, so we’d have some before arriving. I paid for the diesel and it was agreed we’d all meet at McDonald’s before returning to Kandu. Eggs, lemons, pineapples, ginger ale and Indian tonic water for nausea, a Bic lighter to ignite mosquito coils, a flea bomb (Eric discovered a flea trying to bite him onboard, ugh!) and money – off I walked hurriedly to town. After trying several stores, I gave up on the Bic and flea bomb. I enjoyed a hurried stroll through their outdoor market, where I found the fresh foods. Neither bank nor money exchange carried Vata. I carried back all the purchases in bags to McDonald’s, which then were carted and lowered into the dinghy and then up onboard and into Kandu’s galley.
The dinghy and boat exteriors were filthy due to the soot carried over the water from the sugar cane processing plant. The boys proceeded to rinse them both, store the dinghy, and prepare to leave as I vacuumed the interior and cockpit. Everything in the galley was cleaned, carefully stored and arranged for heavy movement…including my large basket of specially sought after eggs that I considered a bit like treasure. We pulled anchor and departed around noon, stopping briefly in a nearby fancy port, Denarau, to pick-up a new prop for our 9.9 hp outboard motor that had recently broken. We threw off docklines around 17h00. It was getting on dinnertime. Quickly I fried up lamb sausages and boiled yams before we exited the calmer water of the lagoon. Leaving the shelter of the reef, that’s when the swell picks up. As predicted, the night proved to be another “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” bumpy, moving up and down, side to side as we were sailing between a broad reach and downwind. My watch went without a hitch, although I was exhausted when Trent summoned me not having been able to sleep beforehand (I always take the second watch). Two and half hours later, Bryce relieved me of my watch, and two and half hours after that, Eric, his. That’s when I awoke to Eric yelling, “Bryce, Bryce, come back here quickly, the wind vane isn’t steering properly.” The boat was flailing around and that’s when it must have happened. I didn’t hear it, but the egg basket let loose and two-and-a-half dozen eggs crashed, leaving a terrible mess in its wake. Bryce having finished helping Eric had since come down into the galley. I heard him exclaim, “Wow, it’s a lot of eggs! What a mess!” which brought me out of my bed into the galley. It was a mess. Broken eggs all over the counter, yolks and whites streaming into my topside icebox and refrigerator. Eggshells and slime on the stove, under the stove, on the floor, in the sink. All the places I had scrupulously cleaned beforehand were now slimy and sticky from my shattered treasure. I started to wipe up the goo, but after a few moments, I simply couldn’t bear the cleanup and the loss (the money, the time to purchase and transport, plus the plans I had for those eggs). I returned to my aft nest to cry so that I wouldn’t make a scene throwing things and hollering expletives in the galley like I have been known to do.
Lying there and reflecting, while Bryce on his own accord sweetly started the cleanup, I realized that it’s good to take a moment to step away, to calm your emotions and thoughts before reacting. I can easily be reactionary when stressed. Certainly, broken eggs are not the end of the world. What was egg-ceptional was my son stepping in and helping tidy up the greater part of the wreckage. My stepping away, gave him a chance to save the day. Bryce is a good egg. As far as broken eggs are concerned, omletting it go.
I have enjoyed keeping in touch with you through our Delorme texting. It’s a perfect way since connecting to Wi-Fi is so limited.
I came down with a little cold – so have been careful to eat well, drink lots of water with lemon, and get plenty of rest to recover as quickly as possible. We are presently hanging out in Musket Cove, Fiji in the Mamanuca Islands.
It’s an idyllic spot – the very first Fijian resort – but we’re here specifically for the surf. A couple internationally famous surf spots drew us to this area (Cloudbreak and Restaurants) and by accident we happened on the annual international Fijian surf competition presently being held at Cloudbreak. Bryce and Trent got to surf the famous Cloudbreak today with some star surfers…Bryce paddled over to one he recognized and shook his hand.
It’s a very pretty, clean, and high class resort here at Musket Cove. I was able to wash our laundry in a real laundromat. It seems that two loads (darks and lights) wash and dry is a universal US$20. Plus, at the resort we benefit from hot showers! It’s been quite awhile since we’ve enjoyed hot showers.
Yesterday we met a Danish family with two teenagers similar ages to BnT who are traveling Fiji on a sailboat. We played a GREAT 2-hours of beach volleyball and then all went over for happy hour beers at the outdoor spot Dick’s while the boys swam in the adjacent pool. They returned to their boat and we, ours. The boys decided to make: dinner by themselves: gnocchi pesto and tomato-cucumber salad. I loved it! Today, I rewarded them on their return from surfing (they left at 5:30 am) with a fresh-baked chocolate cake. Tonight we intend to BBQ over at the resort, New Zealand lamb chops and lamb sausages. We bring our own food and the resort provides plates and the use of a grill for US$2.00. We’re excited.
It’s much cooler here in Fiji…well it is considered winter, but here in the dry Mamanuca Islands of Western Fiji, there is little rain, so we have the hatches and port lights wide open (hardly any mosquitos). The guys get so chilled at night in the front & middle section of the boat, that they crawl into their sheets and use blankets to keep warm. It’s a welcome change from Polynesia. In the aft cabin where I’m sleeping, I too use a blanket and am even wearing my longer pajamas considering I’m always the hottest these days! It’s delightful not to be constantly sweating and dripping.
Tomorrow we will start taking the antibiotic Doxycycline that will protect us against malaria. There are several choices, but we chose this particular antibiotic because it helps with acne. I’m hoping it will help clear up our skin. We will have to take the antibiotic for about 9 months from Vanuatu until we sail away from Sri-Lanka. There is one drawback. We will have to be extra careful to protect our skin against the sun as it makes skin more sensitive to sun damage.
We pulled-up anchor to depart Suva, the capital of Fiji, late this afternoon at sunset around 5:30 pm. Eric estimates our arrival at Musket Cove Marina (surf extraordinaire!) around 2:00 pm tomorrow. The sky was gently crying in anticipation of our departure. The guys did a bang-up job getting the topside ready in the wetness. There was much to do: rinse the small outboard with fresh water, hoist ‘Wee Kandu,’ our dinghy, up on deck, tie it down, move our larger 10 horse outboard engine to the aft stanchion fitting (it was straining the mast pulpit where it sat previously), set-up the lines to sail and prep the cockpit. Bryce and Trent’s hands and minds are remembering what to do without having to be directed. It’s terrific that I don’t have to prep both topside and down below too. Always when living aboard, things are pulled-out to use and then not put back in their designated places. The laundry hadn’t yet been stowed; groceries needed to be organized and dishes required washing and stowage. It’s quite the preparation. But if everyone does his or her part, it can be relatively quick.
Due to our latest experiences departing into rolling seas, we all swallowed anti-nausea, seasickness medicine earlier in the day around lunchtime. We are all benefiting immensely from having taken the precaution.
9:30 pm – Ohh – the rain and wind have picked-up. It’s a soggy night, but had we waited, the weather & conditions were only going to worsen. Happily, our hard dodger is providing more than sufficient shelter to hide behind out of the wind and most of the wetness. I’m not wearing a raincoat as it’s not cold, although my bottom is soaked through. On nights like this, along with our doubly equipped lifejacket/harness, we wear a tether line attached to a solidly anchored cockpit ring. After two and ½ years of use, our poor lifejackets have unfortunately developed spots of black mold. I cleaned them well before leaving Raiatea with soap, water, vinegar and anti-mold spray to no avail. Evidently, I wasn’t able to eliminate all the mold spores that insist on living. The jackets look quite nasty and smell worse. I’ll have to try and clean them again. Ugh! At US$250 a pop, they are worth not replacing. Plenty of other things to spend our money on.
With time to reflect, I think back on our recent experience. Suva is a small city bursting with energy. There are taxis galore with friendly drivers. All the people we met, Fijian and East Indian, were cordial and helpful. “Bula-bula.” I felt welcome. Eric had heard that the population was instructed to be friendly and helpful to tourists to encourage tourism. Well, their outward enthusiasm affected all of us positively. Someday, if the opportunity were to arise, I would love to visit again.
The city of Suva is the most attractive city we’ve seen out of all the islands we’ve visited so far, perhaps because its movie theatre was modern and clean….lol. Like in Samoa, we were so starved for a modern film experience that we attended movies every evening since there was nothing else going on and the ticket price was a mere $4.00 USD per person. We enjoyed seeing great Bollywood films along with international box office hits: Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the very silly Bay Watch. Bollywood theatergoers seemed especially amused by our presence, almost giggling as our family entered the cinema chamber and found our seat assignments, as if they thought we were lost, surprised even more so that we returned after the obligatory Bollywood intermission. We thoroughly enjoyed Suva’s East Indian cultural influence in clothing, work ethic, and on the delicious food flavored with Indian spices, although it’s typically quite salty.
Suva was also one of the most plentiful and resourceful of cities we’ve visited. Eric was even able to replace our shattered cockpit dodger window with Safety E glass, matching what was lost. Just as with the rest of Fiji, the glass cutting was immediate and inexpensive. One USD equals two Fijian.
The outdoor vegetable market offered a large selection of beautiful and proudly displayed seasonal foods: pineapples and mandarin oranges were the most plentiful and succulent. Unfortunately, their grapefruits were dry and terrible: nothing like Polynesia’s succulent ‘pomplemouse.’ Lots of okra, huge yam roots, taro, cucumbers, papaya, eggs, cabbage, bok choi, green beans, carrots, celery, and delicious drinking coconuts were for sale. The fishermen offered a variety of small and large fish, green crabs of all sizes, sea grass, sea grapes, clams and lobsters. It was a cornucopia of plenty. With so many choices of fresh foods to eat, the population looked healthy and fit with bright, naturally straight teeth.
Yesterday, on our last day, Bryce and I stocked up on the many fresh selections at the market plus stopped in a local store to pick-up bread and boxed milk. Thank goodness I had a helper to help carry the many shopping bags. Feeling it would not be convenient to walk our folding aluminum cart into the city center, we instead hired a taxi from and to the Royal Suva Yacht Club where our dinghy was docked. It was a five-minute dinghy ride to Kandu, anchored with other sailboats in the murky bay. Our 10hp outboard having developed a problem with its propeller the night before, we were relegated to use our slower and noisier 3hp. At least it was downwind.
And finally, Suva is where Eric, before leaving Raiatea, found that the US Embassy would be willing to allow a commercial courier to ship our boys’ renewed passports to his brother in Sydney. Samoa would not, and no other location would be as convenient as Fiji or Samoa. Suva’s newly constructed US Embassy was pristine and heavily guarded. The guards at the guard station joked with Trent that they’d play on his DS while he was inside. Leaving, Eric joked, “Even the fountain water tastes American!”
We pulled anchor from Maupiha’a just before noon yesterday anticipating a 7-day sail to Western Samoa, Port Apia on Upolu Island. Once outside the lagoon, it was clearly not going to be a gentle sail. The cockpit was soaked in no time.
5-12-2017 Friday 11 pm
The cockpit continues to get regularly soaked from random waves spraying up over the cockpit combing. Eric and Bryce had to replace the starboard dodger window cocking as last night the window popped out. Fortunately, the glass didn’t break and was saved from falling overboard by the lifeline. One of the things we’ve learned during our travels is that when moving or actively sailing, things onboard have a greater probability of breaking. It’s much less expensive to stay put in one spot like we did in French Polynesia, yet while there we still felt like we were traveling because we were actively living in a different culture.
We’ve been fortunate that rain is light. Cockpit duty is much more pleasant when it’s dry even with the occasional saltwater splash. We haven’t changed the sail setting since departing. Staysail is rigged for broad reach/downwind sailing with the main substantially reefed. No genoa. Even so, we’re clipping along at an average of 6.5 knots. The seas and movement of the boat are rough enough that we wear our life jackets in the cockpit and expressly at night…if it’s especially rough, we tether our harnesses to the cockpit. If work needs to be addressed outside the cockpit at night or in heavy weather, Eric has set-up our fore-to-stern deck lifelines in which we attach ourselves with a harness tether. We also require someone to watch the working sailor from the cockpit. We don’t want to lose anyone overboard…EVER!
5-14-2017 Mother’s SunDay 10:45 pm
Bryce made chocolate chip cookies for breakfast, which we all enjoyed tremendously, gobbling down without restraint. It rained all day long with very bumpy seas. Incredibly hot inside the boat with all the port lights and hatches closed tight, I preferred to remain outside in the cockpit, by myself. Fortunately, I’ve been re-enjoying tremendously the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Romantic historical fiction at it’s best! Engaged by the story, I didn’t even notice my unpleasant soaking shorts, wet jacket and damp straggly hair. The guys watched a movie below in the sauna, while I escaped into 18th century American Revolutionary times with the occasional glance up to check for obstacles or changes. I was also often interrupted by a large dip in the swell where I had to physically hold on! WEEEE!
5-19-2017 Friday 4:45 am
Arrived in Port Apia in the dark. It is never recommended to approach a new and unknown harbor at night, yet we went against our better judgment and entered anyway, eager to escape the heavy swell. We were all fully awake and at the ready with Eric at the helm, Bryce up on the mast, Trent and I scouting at the bow. Having been contacted earlier by phone from Curtis in Australia, when we hailed the Apia Harbor, within minutes a small boat came into view to escort us to a slip in the marina. It was amazing to go from heavy movement into a completely calm environment within the timeframe of an hour. Still dark, we tied-up to the dock, quickly tidied-up the sheets, hooked-up our electrical line and took much needed fresh water showers on the aft deck. Bryce and I washed down the very salty topside, solar panels, dodger and interior cockpit with fresh water until it was spotless. All the salty cockpit cushions were removed, unzipped, sprayed down with fresh water inside and out and left open to dry. At around 9:30 am, the officials started to arrive: health quarantine, biohazard, and customs. With no complications, we were instructed to visit the immigration offices in town across the way. Departing French Polynesia, Samoa was our first port of entry. Having studied in advance the sites to see, we were excited to explore. Leslie
We cleared Bora Bora Customs & Immigration after a bit of a run around from the local gendarme (a newby officer misdirected us on several accounts) by 10:30 am and departed Vaitare at 11h30 for a 17h00 arrival in Maupiti. The passage was straightforward yet enlivened at the end while heading through the Maupiti reef pass. It was like ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’ motoring through the deep but somewhat narrow pass into the lagoon. Trent and Bryce and I were all posted on deck to watch for coral heads while Eric maintained as straight a motor forward as possible.
We rode in on the substantial swell at a 6.5 knot over-the-water clip with a 3 knot exiting tide, giving us 3.5 knots of forward way, plenty to steer by. The conjunction of swell and exiting current made for a tumultuous yet thrilling entry. Sometimes Kandu rowdily slid left or right, even under Eric’s steady hand. We were all exhilarated and relieved to have passed successfully into the lagoon, to easily navigate through the lagoons’ large coral heads and to find an empty mooring. Once settled, fellow cruiser comrades Walter and Meryl from s/v Flying Cloud (first met them in Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas) dinghied over to share some refreshments. It was great to discover they were in Maupiti and to catch-up on their latest adventures.
While preparing Bryce & Trent’s spearfishing catch from Bora for dinner, the boys and I played a few rounds of our new favorite game, Cribbage, taught to us by Ron and Michele while Eric borrowed Flying Cloud’s dinghy to head ashore in order to meet up with contacts for whom the next day we would be transporting items and mail to atoll Maupiha’a aka Mopelia by French sailors. We slept comfortably in the calm lagoon. Leslie
5-6-2017 22h00 Maupiti to Maupiha’a (Mopelia)
First night-watch since what seems to be forever. It’s clear out with more than a ¾ moon illuminating the clouds and rolling dark sea. We have the genoa out, but probably only gaining a knot of speed as we’ve got the engine running. Engine sounds normal. Kandu fairs well, but it is pretty rocky and rolly since there’s no wind. Yet we are blessed with light swell and no rain. We have our cockpit canopy up which during the day provides much needed protection from the blazing sun. Hard to believe we’re on the road again after so much time being stationary. I’m not yet adapted to the constant movement. My stomach is a bit off. Leslie
5-7-2017 Sunday 2h40 am
Nice motorsail. 5+ knots making good time. Nice stop at Maupiti. Swam with 2 mantas at their cleaning station near pass: beautiful majestic creatures. Picked up supplies for Mopelia families. Had ice cream and spent the last of our French Polynesia money on souvenirs and gifts. Shopkeeper gifted Leslie earrings and a matching purple pencil urchin bracelet!
Bought our last baguettes for awhile and eggs too. In the center of the very small town, young boys hailed Bryce from Lycee d’Uturoa. (Those boys were home from the high school’s boarding school for the weekend.) Enjoyed visiting with Flying Cloud. Borrowed their dinghy. French elections yesterday. Interesting to see how the small community was buzzing with energy as a result of the elections. Excited to motor through Mopelia’s extremely narrow pass and to meet the families. It’s a Fr. Polynesia site I’ve never visited. Due to our connections, we may just get to gorge on some of their local lobster and coconut crab. We’ll see. Eric
Motored safely through the narrow Maupiha’a pass with Bryce up the mast at the first spreader to direct us around coral heads. Anchored at 10h00 am quite a distance from the shore to avoid the large coral heads. Due to storms or squalls, shifting winds could blow the boat in any direction dragging our chain and possibly wrapping it around coral heads. Later bringing up anchor tends to be tricky. Right away, a local fishing panga motored over to us by two young women. They had been eagerly anticipating our arrival us being laden with their packages sent from their Maupiti families. Cordiality extended on both sides, we unloaded their things onto their boat brimming over with smiles, happy to have been of service.
They invited us to dinner that evening in thanks. Shortly thereafter, a darling couple, Norma and Harris, motored over to greet and thank us for transporting their belongings. Offering us lunch of island delicacies: seafood coconut cucumber salad and steamed whole fish, they were excited to get to know us and asked us to join them for dinner the following evening also mentioning that they’d like to take us on a 4×4 tour of the atoll. Wow! Trent took one trial bite of the seasnail salad saying, “That’s interesting…” Eric, Bryce and I found it to have a delicious taste with an intriguing texture. Leslie
Mom and Dad –
Happy 78th Birthday this Friday Dad! Happy Mother’s Day on the 14th Mom!
We are always thinking of you!
Such a lovely photo of the two of you at the San Xavier Mission in Tucson. I also am astonished to see photos of you riding on donkeys. Wow, full of surprises you are. That’s great! So glad you’re out doing it: traveling and living life to the fullest. Whoohooo!
Ron and Michele left yesterday for Bora Bora by plane. We were sad and frustrated to see them go as we had planned to sail with them to Bora and then to Maupiti.
We have been slowed down due to two things: Eric was troubled by a kidney stone and we had a radio problem that we thought was going to be fixed by some parts brought in by another friend, but after three days of messing with it, the pactor modem seems to be broken, unfixable here.
Eric’s kidney stone started giving him trouble on Friday morning when we were leaving the Miri Miri surf site after spending 2 days sailing around Taha’a. He took 800 mgs of Ibuprofen around 9:00 am to reduce swelling and just after he took another 800 mgs of ibuprofen around noon, it seems he felt the most amount of pain, and must have passed it. We staged and enjoyed a lovely happy hour on the dock that night with our friends in Marina d’Uturoa hoping to leave on Sunday. It was a lovely farewell gathering. But based on the recommendation and help of two doctors who also live on their boat, Eric walked over to the emergency on Saturday morning to have an X-ray performed. Eric’s kidney stones are always oxalate, so you can see them on an x-ray if he has one. In fact, they could not see a single one, so either some stones exist but are so small they will pass, or he doesn’t have any more for the time being. This one was his 10th! Since it has passed, we can depart into the big blue without worrying that he will be troubled by the pain of passing kidney stones – at least for now! He is under doctor’s orders to drink twice as much water as before, preferably with lemon!
On the other subject of the pactor modem, unfortunately it appears that the modem is faulty and needs to be repaired in the states. The system is so antiquated, there are only a few people who know how to repair it, and one of them lives in San Francisco. It looks we’re going to send it home with Ron and Michele to be repaired. We’ll have to sail without it for a while.
In the meantime, Eric set Bryce to read a manual on obtaining weather faxes straight from the radio through some special software that we already have…perhaps he’s going to become our weatherman specialist. And if we’re so fortunate, that’s all we’ll need to download weather grib files. We’ll see. To buy a new pactor modem we think would be about $1,500 and we just don’t want to spend that kind of money on electronics right now if we can avoid it.
We are pulling out of the marina tomorrow morning – finishing up last minute details today. I may pop into the market one more time for more oatmeal…as we pretty much used up all I had on stock. We plan to catch-up with Ron and Michele in Bora. If we leave tomorrow morning, Wednesday, we’ll arrive there by the evening and we could meet them for dinner and perhaps spend Thursday with them depending on their schedule. We want to get a bit more instruction on the new game they taught us: Cribbage. They leave on Friday for Huahine. We’ll pull-up anchor also on Friday for Maupiti.
Our plan is to visit Maupiti island for a day, then head north to Mopelia – a very small atoll to deliver mail and enjoy some lobster, which they have a plethora. Then we’ll head on towards Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and make Darwin by mid-July. Lots to see, lots of surf, lots of sailing. Our ocean passages will be about 10 days each, god willing. We simply don’t have time to stop in the Cook Islands or the Solomon Islands because we plan to join the Indonesia Rally which leaves Darwin July 28th. We did some research and found out that Papua New Guinea has a big theft problem. So we decided not to stop there.
It was lovely having Ron and Michele aboard. They were incredibly helpful – Ron worked a lot with Eric and was able to engage in some handyman issues that needed addressing, plus he washed dishes!!! Michele shopped food inventory with me, cleaned, vacuumed, helped with dinner, even planned and made dinner one night, and cleaned things all on her own volition (what a concept!)…generally reducing my work and stress. Amazing. I had a wife for a week!!
I only wish we had been able to sail with the two of them as planned to Bora Bora and then Maupiti. It’s frustrating. However, we did sail around the island of Taha’a together and got to enjoy the corral gardens there on the west side of the island near the Pearl Lodge Hotel. Also on Taha’a across from the corral gardens, we enjoyed an educational tour of a combined rum manufacturing plant, coconut oil, Temanu oil and vanilla bean provider. I had been buying the coconut oil from that very business, Pari Pari, since we arrived here in Raiatea. It’s the only local company around pressing virgin and edible coconut oil. I mentioned to the owner farmer giving us the tour, that I bought out all his bottles of coconut oil from the store that retails it in Raiatea. He was tickled to hear that.
The four of us are excited to head out. With the last minute details worked out: laundry, cleaning up ropes and installing the wind vane, we feel ready in mind and boat. Aside from the radio problem which previously allowed us to send emails at sea, and most importantly enabled us to download weather grib files, everything else is working great. We’ll get by with our delorme texting device and I can’t say I ever communicated by sailmail anyway. I send this email to you with big hugs, thoughts and well wishes for you r special days this Month of May. Please take very good care of yourselves. Did I mention to you that Curtis and Joel will be coming to see us in Darwin in July? Sending you virtual hugs and kisses
We are getting excited for your visit too. We do have many stories to recount. I wish I had time and energy to write them all down. Alas, what are we doing here in paradise, if we’re always on the computer recording?
Certainly we’re not the best sailors in the world, but we at least have some experience now. We’re especially getting good at reading the weather! It is very uncomfortable to travel in bad weather!
Yes – the end of April and your arrival coinciding with our departure is looming. We are working furiously to get boat repairs and projects accomplished…then we’ll need to reload the boat – Ugh! Not my favorite thing to do as Eric always thinks it’s only going to take a day or two and forgets every time how long it takes to fit everything back into/onto the boat, tie it down, etc.
Anyway – regarding your thoughts about our needs – There will definitely be some boat parts. Eric will either be ordering them and having them shipped to you or Uncle Bill will organize them when he returns and ship them to you. Eric may have you pick some things up at the local West Marine Chandlery. Which one is the most convenient for you? Can you send me their phone number and address…email and contact person?
We will be ordering some things from Amazon prime and shipping them directly to you. You won’t need to really buy much for us. However, the boys absolutely love the hottest, spiciest Cheetos that you can find – those cannot be found here. Mexican tortillas, corn chips, salsa and the like can actually be purchased here in Raiatea along with all the candies a person can imagine – so no need to cart those – we’ll have other things for you to bring for sure.
Regarding your own personal items and clothes. It’s very sunny, hot and muggy here. You’ll want to purchase or bring along a long-sleeved button down Columbia sunblock shirt along with a pair of similar fabric pants: light, stretchy and beige colored – to keep the mosquitos off at night if we happen to be walking around in town. No jeans or heavy cotton fabrics. Colorful T-shirts, a couple bathing suits and stretchy light fabric shorts. You should bring a pair of Teva or Keen closed toed sandals to hike with and wear around town, also a pair of flip flops (they’re expensive here) and maybe a nicer pair of sandals to go out with. Sundress or light sleeveless dress could be good too. I normally wear shorts during the day and tank tops – with a long sleeve shirt nearby in case I spend anytime outside. You’ll also want a good floppy hat – Columbia is the best anti-sun. You’ll want to bring mosquito spray and zinc sunscreen. You can buy or borrow a pareo here – no need to bring. We have all and every medicine you can imagine. Don’t bring shampoo or towels, or bed sheets or pillows – we have all that.
Okay – now for business: health insurance. Eric and I discussed the options regarding the renewal of our International World Health Coverage Plan. We are going to go with Ron’s suggestion to up the deductible and add a sports rider on the boys. We would like to pay for that soon.
As you know, we have been having some great times traveling at large away from Kandu by airplane. You probably know that over the Christmas holiday we visited the north island of New Zealand and spent two weeks with Eric’s brother Curtis in Sydney, Australia. Such great times and then we enjoyed more good times at the end of Jan-early Feb, when we spent two weeks on Easter Island. It had been on my bucket list for years to visit that remote mysterious island. Since we decided not to sail there in 2015, adding 2 months of open water sailing to our itinerary between the Galapagos and the Marquesas, we took a plane instead (only US$450 per plane ticket from Papeete) and stayed in a home run bed and breakfast. The entire experience between studying about and visiting the archeological moai sites all around the island, traveling with dear Marquesan friends Sebastien & Raymonde Falchetto-Ly, and Linda & Chuck Hoolihan from s/v Jacaranda, plus witnessing the Tapati cultural festival events, was extraordinary. I’m not sure if the boys really understand what they’ve witnessed, but someday they will. We splurged spending one morning playing dress-up Rapa Nui style. We hired a woman and her daughter to paint us, dress us, and then photograph us in front of an impressive moai site near the city. We had such a great time posing and mugging for the camera nearly naked, onlookers be darned! On top of all the site-seeing, the boys got to surf almost everyday. For all four of us, it was a top-notch experience.I’m trying to take advantage of our easy and fast internet while staying during this month of February at the Sunset Beach Motel near the boat yard where Kandu is hauled. She is getting a new anti-fouling paint job and we are accomplishing various boat chores that are easier to perform on land. Our boat is terribly torn up inside with all the work being done. It’s impossible to live on right now. So staying in our little bungalow situated right on the lagoon is a real treat. Plus it’s great having Uncle Bill with us helping out. The pressure to get things accomplished is halved with his help.