Traveling Home

On January 12th Mom, Camille, and I boarded a plane in Australia to fly home. As you know, you can’t time exactly when you must be at the boarding gate, but it is better to be early than late. We were there 2 hours early. I colored in my coloring book, went on my phone and laptop, and did a small bit of homework. Camille was mostly on her phone, and mom was on her laptop, but she constantly kept getting up and walking around because we were going to be sitting down on the plane for five hours. Two hours later we boarded the plane. After five very long and boring hours later of coloring, watching movies, trying to get some sleep in, and snacking, we landed in Honolulu.

It wasn’t a normal layover of two or so hours to quickly get to your next flight, it was a long eight hour layover. We had already planned to go to Pearl Harbor, but we weren’t quite sure about anything else yet. So, this is how our eight hours in Honolulu went.

We landed at around 5:30 in the morning. The first thing we did after all the security kerfuffle was deal with our luggage so we wouldn’t be lugging it around all day. Luckily, we were able to check our big duffels into the flight to Seattle. That didn’t deal with all of our luggage for we still had Camille’s guitar and all of our backpacks. Somebody had told us about airport storage so we goose chase to find it. It took a while because as you know airports are very confusing with their levels and terminals… Anyway, as soon as our backpacks and the guitar were dropped off, we searched up a place to eat breakfast and got an Uber there. We went to a pancake house that was “close” to Pearl Harbor so that we could walk there after eating. We arrived at the pancake house and ordered. Camille and I got the trio which was eggs, meat, and pancakes. Mom got fruit French toast. My mouth was watering when the food came out of the kitchen moments later. One, because I was extremely hungry, and two, because I hadn’t been to a Pancake House in so long.

Less than 30 minutes later we started walking to Pearl Harbor with full and content stomachs. Mom thought it would be a short walk from the Pancake house to Pearl Harbor but it was far from that. It took us an exhausting 30 minutes to get there in the hot sun. (Not that we weren’t used to the sun, but still.) We went from sitting on a plane for 5 hours, to stuffing ourselves with food, to walking 30 minutes to Pearl Harbor.

Back to Pearl Harbor. When we finally succeeded in walking there, we got tickets to the documentary and boat ride around the harbor. We watched the devastating documentary about the bombing and all of the boats that sank and all the people that died. After the sad documentary we climbed aboard the tour boat and heard about the frigates in the harbor and the memorial.  It wasn’t exciting news to hear that we couldn’t go on the memorial because the stairs were cracked. When the boat dropped us back off at the dock we strolled around gazing at torpedoes, submarines, boats and names of people that died on different boats.

We all became tired and we had to head back to the airport anyways to catch our flight on time. We were prepared to take an Uber to the airport, but we didn’t have wifi like we did at the airport and the data on mom’s phone wasn’t working so we could couldn’t call an Uber. The good news was that there was a bus that drove to the airport and the bus stop was right up the road from Pearl Harbor. The bad news was there was only one bus to the airport. We must have just missed it because we waited about an hour before the bus came. At last it arrived. We hopped on the bus and it took off to the airport. When we got off the bus, we realized we had gotten off at the wrong terminal! We had to walk to the correct terminal. Everybody was exhausted when we boarded the plane. I was so exhausted I even fell asleep! When I woke up about an hour later, dinner was awaiting me. I looked at it and thought ew, another gross plane meal. I cookie looked delicious, (I mean you can’t go wrong with a cookie!) The potato chips were potato chips, but the sandwich looked disgusting. I opened the sandwich and took a bite expecting it to taste terrible, but it tasted delicious! It was a Hawaiian chicken sandwich. After a surprisingly good meal I tried to go back to sleep but my numerous attempts failed so I watched movies for the rest of the time.

When the plane started the decent, I had to put my laptop away, so I looked out the window and watches as the plane speed above the city lights. I was so excited to be back home and see my friends and my guinea pigs, but I was also sad to leave our adventures on Anila (the boat). My body was tired and I couldn’t wait to get a good night’s rest. The airplane landed we ambled off to the carousals to pick up our bags and get picked up by Kevin. We loaded our bags into the back of his car and then he drove us back to his house where we got a good night sleep. In the morning we all took a shower then put our stuff into our bags and drove to our friends guest house guest house.                                                                                                                    00

Home Sweet Home, Kinda…

Left outside but still smiling because there is snow and are cookies in the oven!

I was greeted with the snow upon my arrival back in the Pacific Northwest. Usually, the clouds dump rain and the north sends gusting winds, but this winter, powdery flakes layer the ground with over a foot of snow! All throughout our time in Australia I had told people who asked about Seattle’s winters and I responded, “No, it usually just rains for all but two or three months of the year.” and “No, it doesn’t snow that often.”  Yet, just after my first week of school, the weather reports began to predict 9 inches of snow on Monday, then more on Tuesday! Commuting from Bellevue in the morning to arrive at school on time, (7:30) is not a piece of cake, even on a nice sunny morning. Driving on ice-covered highways with heavy traffic is not any better. Cars are slipping on ice, spinning off the freeways, and some aren’t even able to pull out of their driveways.

I started at Redmond High School on Monday, January 28th feeling groggy

and very appreciative of my coffee-filled thermos. I was not late to any of my classes and thankfully only made a few wrong turns. All of my teachers knew me as ‘the girl that lived on a boat.’ I guess news travels fast amongst the faculty and chatty teachers. The hallways are crowded during passing periods and full of kids looking at their phones causing unnecessary blockages and collisions. Everyone has a place to be and a time they have to be there, very different and unlike to the leisurely cruising lifestyle that I had embodied for over a year.

While our house remains unavailable for us to occupy, I spend lots of time at my best friend’s house just across from the high school, doing homework and being a model to fuel her photography obsession. I’m already making friends at school and within a week of returning from Australia, have rejoined Columbia Choirs and auditioned for a teen talent show at a theater in Seattle. I wasn’t invited to the call-backs, but I think it worked out, as now I have time to help Mom pick handles and tiles for the house remodel and get our all-time favorite Paseo sandwiches. I mean it’s all about the food, right?! I just received my learners permit, attend Drivers Ed classes on the weekends, and am learning to drive, as Mom and Dad make time to take me around town!

Beautiful, warm, and happy!

The sun shines on the snow in the afternoon making everything sparkle and I spend my time reading, eating, doing homework, and on my social media accounts posting pictures and reminiscing on the warm weather and fun times in the South Pacific, oh and of course, playing in the snow!

Tonga to NZ – Land Ho Four-O

October 21 – The feeling of excitement was palpable as the cry went up from the watch-standers: “LAND HO!” Everyone immediately dropped what they were doing and headed topside to see land.

New Zealand – our first sighting of land since leaving Minerva Reef nearly 5 days ago. Our intrepid crew is excited to finally reach New Zealand in what can only be described as excellent passage conditions. We had to fire up the iron sail (the engine) last night after dinner as the winds continued to drop. But with almost no wind comes calm seas and sunny, warm weather as we enter firmly into the high-pressure system over northern New Zealand. We all enjoyed shedding a few layers and soaking up the sun on deck today.

In addition to celebrating a successful passage, we also raised our cups of rum & Coke to Nick in recognition of his 40th birthday! Despite Nick solemnly keeping the fact of his birthday somewhat of a secret, Captain Dave was already wise… having previously inspected a copy of his passport! The crew surprised him with a pair of giant chocolate-chip cookies, baked in the shape of a big “4-0”, a toast, and a resounding rendition of “Happy Birthday”. Good times!

As if to welcome us, we observed spouting whales followed by a pod of dolphins paying us a visit and finally playing in the bow wake.

Tonight, we arrive in Opua shortly after midnight and tie up to the quarantine dock to await formal check-in procedures from the officials in the morning. Satin, Camille, and Kyra have made their way up from Auckland and will be on hand to welcome the crew back to land.

Dave, Kevin, “Old Man Nick”, John & Mike

The Elusive Coconut Crabs of Suwarrow Atoll

We were fortunate to be able to spend a week at Suwarrow Atoll, a Cook Islands National Park, in the northern Cooks. We had originally planned to sail south to Rarotonga, but the weather had other plans for us. Instead, we sailed west with most of other boats leaving French Polynesia in July. After checking out in Bora Bora, the last official port where you can do so, we made stops at Maupiti and Maupihaa to break up the over 600 nm trip. Our buddy boat Manna with Curtis and Julie had left a week earlier and were still there when we arrived, and other buddy boat Muskoka with Scott and Laurie followed a day behind us. As a National Park, Suwarrow has only a resident staff of two rangers from June to October. A boat drops them off with all the supplies they need for their entire stay and picks them back up at the end of the season. They get to choose their provisions, “except beer and wine,” laments John, assistant ranger. Along with head ranger Harry, they check in and out visiting boats, give tours of the tiny Anchorange Island, tell stories about Suwarrow, and enjoy the inevitable cruiser pot lucks on the beach for some different foods and their only source of beer and wine during their stay. The atoll has a long history. Discovered by Russians in 1814 and named after general Alexander Suvorov, it now bears his Anglocized name. Apparently, Robert Louis Stevenson visited in 1890, but as far as we can tell, the only treasure here is as many free coconuts as you can carry. Camille wowed the rangers with her quick and expert shucking shortly after we arrived. It takes a special touch to spear the husk on the strong shucking stick followed by just the right twist to pul it apart. The most famous resident of Suwarrow was New Zealander Tom Neal who lived on Anchorage Island on and off for 16 years from 1952 to 1977. There is a small statue/memorial to him on the island near the ranger’s quarters. He wrote a book about his experiences which we’ll have to track down and read. Despite the strange weather ofconstantly shifting winds accompanied by seemingly random periods of sun and rain, we had a great week in the atoll. Three more boats showed up the day after we arrived, bringing to total to 16, which is not uncommon in the summer. We had to hunt around a little to find a good anchorage spot due to coral reefs that drop off quickly, but our patience paid off. As in the Tuamotus, we had to attach floats to our anchor chain to prevent getting wrapped around multiple heads of coral, as did other boats who didn’t take this prudent precaution. Several boats had to reanchor after wrapping around multiple coral and one boat even broke a bow sprit. During our “busy” week, we had a potluck on the shore, a movie night with Muskoka, pizza and game night on shore, several snorkeling excursions, and hosted the three crew from boat Sea Casa for dinner the night before their departure for Pago Pago. Kyra, Camille, and kids from other boats enjoyed rounding up hermit crabs from the beach for crab races. They draw a large circle in the sand, everyone picks their crap and gingerly deposits them in the center. Then the excitement begins as we watch to see whose crab with be the first to leave the ring. Several always stay put in the center, much to the chagrin of their “handlers.” We had also heard of the coconut crabs who inhabit the islands. Once prized for their tasty meat, the are now protected on most South Pacific Islands, and Suwarrow is no exception. Ranger Harry explained that they can live to over 60 years old and grow very slowly. They are the largest land-based crabs and eat primarily coconuts and from time to time even climb the trees to claim their feast. Having not seen any in French Polynesia, we were naturally eager to see them. Harry explained that they like to hide out in the heat of the day and only usually come out at night or during rain storms. He invited the cruisers back after dark to show us. It was the same night as our pizza/gaming get-together on the beach. There’s a very nice setup with hammocks, a few tables, benches which the rangers and helpful cruisers nicely maintain. Just after dark, Harry and John came padding over with the largest coconut crab we’ll probably ever see. They’ve named him “George” and see him frequently around the ranger house. Visiting biologists estimated his age at 40 years old, not surprisingly dating him to just after Tom Neal left the island. I’ll bet ‘ole Tom ate a lot of coconut crab. Many others came scuttling out of the underbrush looking for food. They look a little menacing with the large front claws and long second set of legs, with which they’ll swipe at you with if you get too close, but like most crabs they’re shy and generally retreat when people approach. It’s great to see how these giant crabs have thrived with the National Park protection. With the weather window to Niue opening, it was nearly time for us to leave. One group of boats planned to head off to Pago Pago on American Samoa for either repairs or a stop on the way to Tonga. We’ve heard good things about Niue (pronounced “new way”) and have been eager to make it there. Manna and Muskoka also decided to head there. Based on the forecasts, we decided to leave on Friday, August 10th (after stocking up on 10 more coconuts for the voyage). The prevailing winds were forecast to be NE to NW, which makes for a good reach (wind on the side) straight to Niue. Since then we’ve seen several shifts, but as of Sunday afternoon we’re sailing along at 8 kts with 17 kts of wind. It’s supposed to die down in the evening, so we’ll see if we can keep sailing or will have to motor a bit. Niue is one of the smallest self-governing countries in the world, although New Zealand provides significant support for them. There are no harbors or even anchorages, so we’ll be staying on mooring floats generously provided by the Niue Yacht Club. With tourism one of the few small income generators on the island (the others being fishing and farming), they had to do something to make it possible for passing cruisers to visit. We’ll share more about this interesting island in an upcoming post.

Bonfire on the Beach

The day before we were going to leave Huahine our friends planned to have a cookout/bonfire on a beach three miles south of where we were, for their 2nd year anniversary of living on their boat. We didn’t want to dingy because it would use a lot a dingy fuel and we didn’t want to return in the dark, so we drove big boat (Anila) to the bay near the beach. We drove to shore in the dingy right after we anchored and brought a big bag of Doritos chips, fresh fish to cook, and a couscous salad. The others had brought baguette, fish and cake. First, we had cake and chips to celebrate, then all the kids played games before the sun went down.
We started the bonfire and started cooking the fish. When the first fish was done, I made a fish sandwich by putting the baguette around the fish. When the next fish was done I plated some up and ate it with baguette and salad. The fish was so delicious I could have had more but I had to save room for marshmallows. When everyone was done eating we cooked marshmallows and ate them. I made three for me two for Camille and some more for mom and dad. When most people where done roasting their marshmallows on the coals we collected coconut husks and other wood and made the fire huge again. When I got bored of that, I watched the stars, looking for constellations I recognized, until I was tired and ready to go back to the boat.

Anaho Bay Anchorage

We sailed up to the north side of Nuka Hiva two days ago to the calmest anchorage in the Marquesas. We met up with other boater friends and are enjoying a hike to the neighboring village/bay today. (Where there is some cell coverage!) It’s calm and beautiful in Anaho and we’ve been catching up on our sleep and baking.

Unfortunately the slow coverage keeps timing out when I try to upload a photo so I’ll try again later when we find WiFi again.

Day 19 Update: We made it!

Summary: We arrived at 2:30 am local time at Hanamoenoa Bay on Tahuata Island and are busy catching up on sleep and meeting up with Galapagos cruiser friends.
Position: 09 54.42 S 139 06.40 W at 09:00 UTC-9.5
Last Day Distance: 101 nm Total Distance: 3209 nm Total Time: 18 days 12 hours Total Average Speed: 7.23 kts
The evening before arriving we heard on the SSB net from that it was easier to arrive at Hanamoenoa Bay at night plus we had received news via email the several of the boats we had met in the Galapagos were headed there. It is only 7 miles past Atuona on Hiva Oa so we headed there instead. We anchored with no problems and immediately went to sleep relishing the limited boat motion and relatively peacefulness of finally being at anchor. Yesterday we spend time cleaning up around the boat and assessing the bottom growth (not too bad on both counts). Friends came over to say hello from their dinghies and planned to meet on the beach later so the kids could play. Of course we were eager to get our feet back on land too.
Unfortunately the boat work never seems to end, and the normally reliable Honda dingy engine wasn’t putting water out of the little tell-tale hole which indicates cooling is working properly. We tried rowing for the beach as the strong winds pushed us sideways to Counting Stars, a neighboring friend’s boat. He noticed our predicament and came out to give us a tow into the beach. Dave spend the remainder of the afternoon troubleshooting the engine, checking the impeller pump, and the drain hoses for trouble. Everything looked fine but water is still unfortunately only trickling out of the tell-tale so we still have a problem on our hands as the dinghy is our critical ship-to-shore transportation.
Everyone is doing well and we are grateful for finishing the longest passage of the trip, reconnecting with friends, and getting some much needed rest. Thank you to everyone for following along, posting comments, and sending words of encouragement our way. They really helped when we were bored and tired. We’ll have real Internet soon and will get your posted comments approved and upload some photos too.

Day 18 Update: Spinnaker Blow Out :-(

Summary: We had settled seas and a nice 12-14 kt breeze all day yesterday. Unfortunately it picked up quickly after sunset and we were too slow to get the spinnaker down before the wind took it down for us.
Position: 09 42.98 S 137 29.58 W at 12:00 UTC-7
COG: 258 degrees m
Distance: 171 nm (24 hr), 3,107 nm total
Average Speed : 7.125 kts (24 hr)
Distance to go to Hiva Oa: 93 nm
After seeing apparent gusts to 20 and dips in the water with the possibly higher winds coming, we had decided it was about time to take it down. Dave popped down below to stow a laptop when suddenly we heard a loud “bang!” He quickly returned to the cockpit followed by everyone to find the spinnaker down in the water. The top edge had torn out and then ripped along the sail tape on both sides almost all the way down to the foot. We carefully hauled the whole wet mess back onboard and rigged the genoa while we continued to sail at 3.5 kts under bare poles. No hardware or sail parts were lost, so we are hopeful it can be repaired in Tahiti. Although an errant line ripped the headlamp from Dave’s head and of course threw it immediately overboard to top off the evening. We waited too long to decide to take it down and paid the price. The mood onboard is low today, but we are fortunate that no one was hurt.
The spinnaker is made of 5 oz nylon panels sewed together in a large, semi-curved triangle. It’s made for light wind sailing when the genoa is too heavy to catch the light winds and propel us along. There are reinforcement points on the three corners – the head, the tack, and the clew – for connections to the lines. The overloaded sail ripped across the top just below the point where the panels all come together, this appears to be somewhat of a weak point.
Following this separation, the nylon ripped down both sides just inside the sail tape, which is thicker nylon folded over and sewn into this edge for reinforcement. We are hopeful that the top can be reconnected with sail tape or other material, and the existing sail tape from the edges can be reused and sewn back over the ripped edges. If this works, we’ll lose about 1″ of width on both sides. It’s not clear if the corners will still taper appropriately but we’ll find out soon as there are sail repair lofts in Nuka Hiva and Tahiti. Wish us luck in our repair efforts.
Today the wind has dropped, but we have swells from both the S and SE creating confused seas and very rocky conditions. We are disappointed in letting the spinnaker get ripped up and it doesn’t help that we again beleaguered by these rocky conditions. We made it almost the entire with no breakdowns or damage, so it is unfortunate to have let this happen on our second to last day. At least we shall arrive Hiva Oa early tomorrow morning and finally be done with this passage.
Wildlife Sightings: None

Day 17 Update: 2 am Sail Change

Summary: We had another fast day, which would have beat our record, if not for squalls in the night.
Position: 09 24.44 S 134 41.14 W at 12:00 UTC-8
COG: 250 degrees m
Distance: 188 nm (24 hr), 2,936 nm total
Average Speed : 7.8 kts (24 hr)
Distance to go to Hiva Oa: 240 nm
Yesterday was another nice sail right down the rhumb line under spinnaker alone. Winds picked up after dinner along with the seas. We continued to run with the spinnaker making good speed hitting a max of 11.5 knots! We were hoping to sail through the night again with the spinnaker, but approached squalls and rain at 2 am and felt it was safer to drop it and switch to the stronger genoa given unknown conditions. Although we don’t like doing the sail change at night, we thought we would all sleep better and not risk damage to the spinnaker. Fortunately the sail change went smoothly, but under less canvas we were subject to quite a bit more rolling again which has continued through today. We hoisted the spinnaker again at first light as the winds had diminished again, but the choppier, confused seas have continued with us.
Still it was our second fastest day of the trip and we remain on track for landfall at Hiva Oa by Saturday morning. We can’t wait.
Wildlife Sightings: none

Day 16 Update: Tuna Catch

Summary: Light winds continue, but we’ve got the spinnaker operation mostly down and are the perfect high rhumb line course for Hiva Oa. We caught a bluefin just after sunset, but released it.
Position: 09 11.87 S 131 34.11 W at 12:00 UTC-8
COG: 255 degrees m
Distance: 183 nm (24 hr), 2,748 nm total
Average Speed : 7.6 kts (24 hr)
Distance to go to Hiva Oa: 440 nm
Conditions today are much the same as the last two days. Lower seas, lower winds, and hotter. We headed up above the rhumb line yesterday again to avoid nighttime jibes. With the slight wind shift are heading is now just above the rhumb line to Hiva Oa which is great because it will be easy to turn more southward when needed. We continue to run under the spinnaker only with winds staying between 12-18 kts keeping our speed from 6.5-8.5 kts overall.
We caught about a 20 pound bluefin tuna just after sunset. We still have some tuna left from a fisherman’s trade for beer in the Galapagos and didn’t feel like bleeding and filleting it after dark so we let it go. We were also kind of hoping for another wahoo, but will keep the next catch even if a tuna.
This morning we picked up a Japanese fishing vessel, the “Kotoshiro Maru No. 8” on AIS and radar about 7 nm NE of our position. We heard them say something on the radio, but they didn’t respond when we called back. We expect to see more vessels as we get closer.
We are happy with our recent progress, everyone is doing well, and we are anticipating landfall by Saturday and getting some uninterrupted sleep for a change as well as meeting up with friends again. We met Curtis and Julie on S/V Manna on the way from Seattle to San Diego last September and out of lucky coincidence they expect to arrive Hiva Oa from San Diego on Saturday too.
Wildlife Sightings: fish, birds, and bluefin tuna caught