Friday, October 29, 2010

Safe in Port

We had a fabulous sail to the Vuda Marina on Wednesday afternoon and night, enjoying easy-going wind, following seas, and a beautiful moon beam pushing us toward our destination with twinkling stars all around. As the light filled the sky with colors, we saw hills of green, welcoming us to the dry side of Viti Levi, with vibrant blue flat seas welcoming us into the inside reef serenity. We sailed until we literally stopped, due to lack of wind, very near the marina, making the most of our last day of peaceful, comfortable cruising; it was a wonderful way to end the season, helping us to immediately forget the wet, sloppy, uncomfortable passage. YEAH!  

The Vuda Marina is tiny and we are squished tightly between two yachts, with our bow tied to the circular wharf on the outside and our stern toward the center; this is how the boats are tied for hurricane season. We are temporarily here to get everything ready for the haul-out and placement in the ground on the hard. I will send pictures that show the details. The people are great, and we do have restrooms,warm showers, laundry facilities, a little store, cafe, restaurant and bar, and drinkable water. What more could a cruiser need? 

This morning I caught a ride with Milika, the manager in charge of the yachts, to Lautoka, checked in with customs at the port, made my way to the doctor's office she recommended, and Dr. Seeto asked for David to come see her. He is still not feeling well, even though we started anti-biotics yesterday, so I was able to contact him at the marina and he did make his way downtown. He does have a severe case of tonsilitus (there is a more technical name of course [Myron] ) and I am glad she did see him; now we are taking an additional medication to help get him back to health. This captain has not been a happy camper and I can't wait for him to feel better! 

While I waited for him, I browsed the municipal market that is awesome. Wish I had my camera with me; it has been a very long time since I have seen so many fresh vegetables and fruits! It will be great re-provisioning for our next season. The influence of the Indian population offers so many tantalizing tasty vegetarian treats, and it was great fun trying them. The Indian New Year's celebration of Diwali is happening this next week, and I look forward to venturing back to the city for fun. Lots of great shopping here with many stores blasting festive chants along with offering good prices, interesting little restaurants, and welcoming citizens. "Bula!" is the Fijian welcome word and it comes with a smile from everyone. I met a local Fijian woman selling tangerine juice at the market who said her choir made a trip to LA, Santa Ana, and San Diego, singing gospel music and she invited me to come hear the singing on Sunday at the Methodist church. Of course I will love that, as well as a visit to the Hindu temples in town with chanting and festivities. Looks like I am already having a great time exploring this new culture.  Pictures will help describe it all. Love to all as we ready ourselves to come home for the holidays.                          

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Suva, Fiji

We are motor-sailing out of the harbor on our way to Vuda Point, which will take about 24 hours to reach from here. It was raining a bit as we left, but it seems to now be clearing, as there are wonderful patches of blue up ahead; very little wind is blowing right now, but hopefully it will freshen up and we will cruise to our next destination. (one must always dream :))  We had a wonderful restful night and I think the good night sleep was great for David. 

This morning, we took a taxi into town and hit the ATM, paid the health department, and checked out of customs, meeting warm, friendly people all along the way, in spite of the big city atmosphere; we actually look forward to coming back to Suva to shop, eat, and get to know a bit more about it. One definitely would not swim in this harbor, though! The Royal Suva Yacht Club manager, Romina, welcomed us warmly and aided in our adventure into the city; she also orchestrated the officials coming out to the boat yesterday afternoon, and our check in to the country was surprisingly smooth. All three of the officials were very cool and they made the process very easy in spite of all the horror stories we had heard about the Suva check-in. There will be internet access at the marina so the next time you will hear from us will be after we settle in tomorrow afternoon, maybe in the form of gmail.  Location: S 18 12' W 178 18'  Wind is now 15kts and we are flying! YAHOO!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Change of Plans

Hi there. We have made a detour, set the sails for Suva and will arrive in about 3 or 4 hours to check in. Early this morning as we made our way to the next waypoint, not too far from Suva, we heard two other yachts close-by talk about the 50 kt winds they were encountering. We called Serendipity, one of the boats, and Harka told us he thought it was part of the front approaching Fiji from New Caledonia with high wind warnings. After further checking a weather source on SSB which gave us high wind warnings, and since we were so close to Suva, we made a decision to go to the "big city" instead of taking another day to work our way into the waters leading to Lautoku. Even though the check-in process is supposed to be more complicated and costly in Suva, thoughts of heading along the coral coast at night with possibilities of 50 kt winds make our pleasant sail to Suva seem like the smart response. 

Of course, now that we are heading there, the wind has subsided a bit, the skies are clearing, and perhaps it was just a random wind that came up this morning, and David just said he will feel like a "dumb shit" if Skylight and Whorrelwind, both quite far behind us, have no problems making their way to Lautoku. But I think it is important on a gut level to be as cautious as we can be; it will be fine to check out the capital city of Fiji anyway, and perhaps we can check into all of the islands in one shot this way. We just received a sailmail from Milika at Vuda Marina asking for a confirmation date of arrival and that is a great relief; we do have a guaranteed spot saved for us! YIPPEE! I will write you again tonight or tomorrow morning with an update. Our night was a grueling, squally, squishy wet one and we are so thankful to have a bit of sunshine right now. Ah, the life of a sailor!!!!   

Day 3

The seas have settled a bit today, and we are only sailing with the main out downwind averaging about 5 kts, which is fine with us. We are not rocking so much, and life is feeling much better. Both David and I have started reading novels and are somewhat settled into the routine now, although he is still feeling pretty shitty. He has been sleeping lots, and we hope tomorrow he will feel good once more. The sun shone through the clouds a bit today, and that always makes for a better passage. We have one more full day tomorrow and hope to arrive the following morning. Thanks for the info about the island; we actually saw the pictures posted by the sailors who found the island then. We heard from a couple who left four days before us that there was lots of ash in the water, so we have been keeping our eyes open. Bye for now. Suzi   Location: S 19° 01' E 179° 52' 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 2 of Trip to Fiji

The waves are huge and definitely not going in the direction we have to go in order to avoid a few uncharted reefs, so we are pretty much beside ourselves, thinking that sailing is probably the most uncomfortable not fun thing ever to do! Of course, it could be much worse, so, at the same time, we are couting our blessings that we have only 20-25 kt winds, that we are moving quite quickly to our destination, averaging 7.5 kts, and that we are not getting too many waves into the cockpit. One can see the advantage of having a covered cockpit, nice and dry, while traveling in this kind of weather! David has not been feeling well and I hope it goes away soon........sore throat, little temp, achey, and definitely weak. He has been sleeping most of the day and looks like he's feeling better right now. Time for me to get a bit of rest and hope the evening seas mellow out. Right now our location is: S 19 15.8'   W 177 44' We have about 350 miles to go.....ya hoo!  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On their Way to Fiji

Left this morning in about 15 to 20 kt winds, gray skies, a bit of spit, and choppy seas, but luckily the seas are better now (although doing anything below besides sleep is absurd). We are averaging about 6.5 kts on a bumpy beam reach with triple reefed main and a partial headsail. You'd love it! The skies have sort of cleared up, and a full moon just popped its head up, so we are lookin' good! We are quite close to Skylight, with Claudia and Brian from California on board, and that is comforting; several others are in the pack as well. Our location: S 18 54'  W 175 19'. I am ready for a nap before going on my watch and David is eating chicken noodle soup with Mr. Moon smiling down on him.  Wish for mellow seas.......that would be soooo nice!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Last Day in Tonga

The following pictures are from our last two days in Neiafu. Yesterday, when I made my way to the college (middle school and high school together), it had been raining all morning and school had been cancelled due to difficulty getting kids to school. So Rosilynn and I had a wonderful conversation with the vice principal, along with a tour of the very poor facility. It definitely made us fully realize that we truly are used to the land of plenty. Last night we saw the last performance done by the kids we have enjoyed getting to know and it was very special. The pictures are of Meagan, the little bright-eyed girl, Laula (or Laura), and Jasmine, the oldest, getting ready to take exams which will help her make her way to the university, if she can win a scholarship. Colette and Taupe are wonderful and we certainly do hope we can reconnect with them again someday. David would love to help Taupe finish his house........that certainly would be rewarding.  This morning's sun makes everything so vibrant, and the flowers all are doing their best to fill the air with sweet fragrance; we woke up to a fantastic rainbow which welcomed us to a pristine day in the anchorage.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Preparing to Leave Tonga

Hi there. I am on Sidewinder checking into sailmail so thought I would say hi from here. We are having more rain showers this morning and I am heading into town with Tupe to visit the high school this morning, since it did not work out yesterday. We had a wonderful Tongan buffet last night at the Mango Restaurant to say farewell to our English friends, Josie and Steve on Elysion, and the family plus a few more kids came to perform for all. It was a great larger area than the patio at the Giggling Whale, and this gave them a chance to really dance and sing; they were wonderful. What a treat to know them personally, too! We are checking out today and plan to provision tomorrow. We may leave for Fiji on Thursday. I will, of course, let you know before we take off across the blue yonder once again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More Photos from Tonga

We had such a wonderful time with Collette, Tupe, Jasmine, Lauri, Brian, and Meagan; they shared all that they had and were so loving and kind. We are fortunate!  I look forward to visiting the high school with Jasmine and Lauri tomorrow. 

Pangaimotu is the island where Collette and Tupe are; I don't think I gave the appropriate information before. The pictures here are of the princess tomb; it was a great short hike through the jungle and we were able to see quite a few of these flying bats "flying foxes" as we trekked. It was eery and interesting to say the least. They are quite big and hold their babies in pouches like kangaroos. If you enlarge the last picture, I think you will see it. Very cool! 

Snorkling in Tonga

These pics were taken when we were anchored with Brandy and Mark from Restless, off of a small island a few days ago; we discovered good snorkeling, a trail leading to the tomb of a former Tongan princess, and the infamous "flying foxes" of Tonga. I am sorry that I do not have my guidebook with the name of the motu nor the name of the princess with me, but at least I can finally send some pictures!  We did have some great fun with Brandy and Marc, and we will miss sailing with them.  A few other pictures are from our stay by the Coral Gardens.The rain has finally stopped for now, and the sun is trying to shine. We will begin the check-out process tomorrow here in Neiafu and leave for Fiji by the end of the week. Love to all.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Back to Niue

We are on our way back to town so we can take in the Saturday market and begin the process of checking out of Tonga and checking into Fiji by Monday. There is a huge packet that has to be sent to Fiji by way of email, and the Tropicana is set up to help the yachties with all of that. 

We said our farewells to Brandy and Marc yesterday and once again, a sadness filled my being. It was very fun exploring Suwarrow, Niue, and a few of these islands with them, and our passages from each of the Pacific Island groups were so special because we could communicate with them, laugh and groan about all the sail changes we were doing in the process, and just feel safe traveling with them. We had interesting conversations with them, and for me, it was great to have some female companionship. It reminded us of our wonderful times with Richard and Virginia on Mandy, and again, we now have some great memories and good friends we can visit somewhere in the future. There are a few boats leaving for Fiji this next week so we do hope to move somewhat together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Still Snorkeling in the Coral Gardens

Hi there. We are still at anchorage in the Coral Garden bay, enjoying two more spectacular dives, although the sun needs to come back out to make our last effort the best ever. We are with Brandy and Marc from Restless and having a great time adventuring with them. Our plan is to move to the island of Euakafa, hike to the tomb of a princess, do some snorkeling, and enjoy the peace and quiet before moving back to Neiafu for our check out, shopping, and last provisioning before moving on to Fiji.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Cruising Vava'u

We left this morning for our new lovely anchorage off of Nuapapu rather early so that we could explore and snorkel. We are now located off of a special reef called the Coral Garden, where we will snorkel tomorrow: S 18 43.403', W 174 06.039'  After late afternoon coffee and fruit with the European kids on Maui, and a great potluck on Whirlwind this evening with several friends we have met along the way, including A Cappella, it is now late again, but I will send tonight so you will at least know that I am thinking about you. First I will send what I wrote last night and then I will add a bit of today's incredible adventure.

Sunday, October 9

This morning as we slid across the glassy bay, the deep blue sky and bright sunshine brought forth vibrant hues of hillside greens and water blues, everything so clear after the huge thunder/lightning rainstorm last night. Tuke picked us up in his van and we were off to one of seven churches in the small village on Pangaimotu, stopping by his home at the top of the hill to pick up the rest of the family. The music was the best ever; all of the men in the pew behind us had incredible voices and they sang praises to the Lord with soulful commitment. Both David and I immediately felt the spiritual essence of the island and we knew how very fortunate we were to be touched by all. 

After the service, we drove back to the house Tuke built from scratch after the last hurricane in 2003 destroyed all they had, and this ongoing project of his, with much more to do, made David realize how much he could do for the people of Tonga, if he ever wanted to stay long enough to really be of help. They need so much, and, even though they work very hard everyday, money comes very slowly and everything is expensive. Collette and Tuke's number one priority is education for the kids and they work nonstop to make sure that happens. We ate on the floor of their two story block house with a wonderful view of the ocean beyond, and the food was delicious: lamb, corned beef, and fish sauted in coconut milk and wrapped in taro leaves, raw Mahi in coconut milk, lime, tomato and onions, baked breadfruit, and water melon. Their generosity and graciousness made us feel wonderfully special; they are so poor yet gave us so much. We left them a few gifts, along with a secret envelope with some money but it was apparant that they certainly just wanted to share their family and culture with us with no expectations from us. Once again, our journey is so much about the people we meet, much more than the place; of course, this island hopping is way cool as well, especially when the sun does shine.


It was a beautiful sunny day with huge white puffy clouds moving cross the blue sky as we motor-sailed to our next destination off of a reef named the Coral Garden next to a beautiful white, sandy beach, with palm trees gently blowing in the breeze on the island of Nuapapu. Since the Coral Garden can best be reached at high tide by way of dinghy and it was too late to go today, so we took Worm around a motu close by with a different reef and found the most incredible coral garden we have ever seen. What an amazing display of color, shapes, and sizes! It is so impossible to properly describe the experience of floating freely along a wall of such vibrant live plants; it is as if I were flying through hilly fields of flowers everywhere, each one different in so many ways. WOW !!!!!! And this is not the real Coral Gardens! Tomorrow (today for you) we will snorkel the actual Coral Garden Reef and take pictures, hopefully sharing the essence much more than my limited words can describe when we find the internet again. We are so so lucky.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Near Mala Motu

Even though the weather was rainy and stormy all day yesterday and last night, we had a fabulous time on s/v Visions of Johanna with Bill, Graham, and Johanna hosting a spaghetti dinner with the local family, Colletta and Tupe with their four beautiful kids, whom they have befriended this last month. Our friends from Simpatica, Louis and Jules, also joined us, and we all brought something to add to the dinner. Regardless of the thunder, lightning, and major rain, we all were comfortably nestled inside the 57 ft. custom East-coast sailboat designed by Graham and Johanna, and it was wonderful visiting with these special Tongans who have grown up here. They are both highly motivated people who believe that education is their first priority beyond survival. (Unfortunately, not usual for the Tongan local population who are so poor.) Their two oldest girls are in high school; Jasmine, the oldest, is about to graduate and is planning to go to the university in New Zealand if they can find the money. The entire family performs on Wednesday evenings in Neiafu at the Giggling Whale, and the money they earn is for education in the village; we did catch the show last week, and they invited us to come to their village tomorrow and go to church with them. Now that we know them more from our lovely evening on Visions, I think David will even go with me to be with them at their home and church. I look forward to learning more about them, and going to church will again give me a chance to soar with the angelic music of the local people. We are saying farewell to Simpatica and Visions, who are both on their way to New Zealand and are moving to the anchorage closest to the island village of Afo near Tapana Point tonight; hopefully the sun will come out for our journey. The anchorage with the surf close at hand is not too far from where we will be tonight. Hopefully when we return to Neiafu, I will have more pictures to share. Haven't tried internet at Mala yet and probably won't, so no skype. Love, Suzi

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Heading South

We are leaving today to go out to the southeast side of Vava'u to look for some surf and then we will work our way back to some cool snorkeling areas; we will be gone for about 5 days and then come back in to reprovision and check out officially. Sailmail will be our true blue friend once again until we return. I bought airline tickets on Air Pacific yesterday, leaving on Nov. 11 ( I think it is a Thursday) and it arrives at 12:05 PM on Nov 11, I think. I do not have the confirmation in my hands so I will let you know the details later. Love, Suzi

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Pictures are from fun times at the Perfect Reef with Apee in Suwarrow and yesterday in Tonga. 

The first picture is saying good-bye to our wonderful camp counselors at Suwarrow, James and Apee. What incredible Cook Islanders they are!   Our days in Niue were really special with Ondrea, Karolina, and Maggi from sv Maui (Czech Rep, Poland, Slovakia), and Brandy and Marc from Restless. What great caving adventures we did have!

Swimming w/ Humpbacks

Today was a very special day swimming with these incredible creatures of the deep blue waters. The humpback whales come here to mate and to have their offspring, as well as to enjoy the warmer waters during this time of the year. They will be leaving for the south by the end of this month, so we feel privileged to have met them here. Whale Discoveries is owned by a young couple, Dave and Trish and their two kids from Australia, who are very environmentally conscious and care deeply for the whales. They are sensitive to when the whales are disturbed by the presence of human company, and they keep a fair distance away from them when following. We had eight people aboard the large zodiac, and four were allowed to go at a time, to match the whale comfort zone. It was so special being close to such marvelous mammals who seem so gentle as they gracefully cruise the ocean waters; the pictures we took do not even come close to capturing the essence of our experiences. I will send pictures when I have the time to recap all that we have done over this past month. What an amazing trip this is! Love to all,  Suzi and David

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Serene Sunday in Nieafu

In Tonga, because it is Sunday, there is no activity except singing in church or walking to church. I did just that this morning and thoroughly enjoyed the hour of the spiritual musical chanting-type Catholic mass Tongan style; my soul did soar as the singing filled the village. 

David stayed on Sidewinder and found the internet connection we needed and when I returned, he was writing to all of his facebook friends who made contact with him. We did go for a dinghy ride and took Jock and Eureko from sv Scotch Bonnet, the couple from San Francisco we befriended in Bora Bora, out to Swallows Cave, with incredibly intense deep blue water, and we just returned. I will plan to Skype you tomorrow afternoon, while David is watching Sunday Night Football at the Aquarium Cafe nearby. 
Love to all, me

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vava'u Landing

Land ahoy! We are motoring in our last 5 miles to civilization and should be there in about 1/2 hour. It is Friday here and we have heard many yachts with names we recognize on the VHF talking and look forward to saying hi to them all. Had a nice gentle sail all night long with enough wind to get us here for check-in. As we turned into the entrance to the first bay, a mama humpback and her baby greeted us so close to Sidewinder that I needed to turn away a bit to avoid a collision. Several others were following and it was so cool to see them up close. This is going to be great fun here!   

So here we are the next morning and I just got back from the morning market with wonderful fresh vegetables and eggs. The little town is very poor and the "supermarkets" are very marginal little markets, at least the two I have been in, but there are some fabulous restaurants and bars with reasonable prices and it will fun to check them out. At sunset, we had cocktails on s/v Visions of Johanna with Bill, Graham, and Johanna, whom we had not seen since Ecuador. It was great fun catching up with them, as they are leaving today for some of the outer anchorages to go diving and then are making their way south on their way to New Zealand. While sipping our tequilas David mentioned our refer/freezer problems and Bill asked him what motor we had, and lo and behold it was the same one he had for his refer and they had some spare brushes! So today David tore it all apart again and exchanged the brushes and we now have cold beer again! We still want the brushes Marc is getting for us as it's always good to have spares. If we would've had a spare set already we wouldn't have had all this headache.

Cornelia and I are making dinner tonight on A Capella using the fresh clams we just found this morning, and we haven't seen them since the Marquesas. So, as you can see, Tonga will be about seeing lots of friends we have made over the last couple of years and that is a wonderful part of sailing. We also look forward to finding some pretty anchorages and great snorkeling; the water is supposed to be really clear and the coral reefs alive and beautiful. Later today I will venture out to find an internet connection and finally send you some pictures.