The Puddle Jump and Beyond
March 8, 2006
Hello all from aboard Esprit! It is good to be home on Esprit! We made it safe and sound with only one little bus adventure where we had to change busses due to tire problems. Only our four 90 pound bags made that a bit difficult. Esprit appears to be in good condition and most importantly the engine started! Now we just have to fix the minor problems and we should be set to go. One of the minor problems is that only half of our refrigeration system works, but Chay's working on that one. Jamie is enjoying his summer vacation as he finished his 3rd grade homeschool before we left the states; he'll resume with 4th grade in late May. He misses his karate but is constantly "practicing". For those of you who don't know he took first place in weapons and forms at the National Tournament the day before we left!
Chay, Jamie (8), Katie, & Tripp - Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador
March 19, 2006
Hello all from the Pacific Ocean - we set sail (or at least motor sail) on St. Patrick's Day and are on our way to the Galapagos Islands. We have calm seas and not much wind - we did sail for a few hours yesterday though which we really enjoyed! Its about 82 degrees and humid. We only had a few glitches before we left - like our galapagos permit not arriving, Chay having an allergic reaction to shrimp (we think), and Jamie having a mild infection. Chay had a pretty ugly rash, but after a visit to the doctor and a couple of shots he's doing well. All of us are feeling well now. We departed on an international zarpe to the Marquesas, but will stop in the Galapagos and see how many days we can get. We also need to fix our autopilot and depth gauge which decided to stop working - both of these are a must before we jump to the Marquesas. We encountered the local fisherman our first night out - there were many of them for miles, but they used their lights to direct us around the nets. They are truly amazing to see out there in their open small pangas fishing throughout the night. One of the boats had a young boy with them who was shivering! It's neat to see the fishing trade passed down from generation to generation. It humbles us to see what conditions these people will persevere to eat and makes us realize how spoiled and fortunate we are. Yesterday it was calm enough for Chay to snorkle around the boat to check out the bottom and prop to make sure they were clean. Carlos at Puerto Amistad in Bahia de Caraquez did a good job for us! There were a bunch of little funny shaped jelly fish swimming with Chay! Good thing we have lotion to prevent most jelly fish stings. That is all for now. We are happy campers to be on the move again.
Jamie & Chay swimming underway to the Galapagos
March 26, 2006
Greetings from Isla San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands! We arrived safe and sound on Wednesday the 22nd after just shy of 5 days and 5 nights at sea with almost a full moon. It's truly awe inspiring to see how many stars there really are out there - you almost hated to have the moon rise because it was so bright you couldn't see the stars! It was nice to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets again - but no green flashes yet. We had only 12 hours of sailing time, the rest of the time was spent motoring or bobbing. While bobbing we jumped in and swam, and even took a bath one time. The only thing we encountered were little jelly fish, but none of us got stung. After getting past the fisherman we saw only one boat and one airplane (Katie saw both). It's amazing what your imagination can turn an airplane into during a night watch! In addition, the rising stars were easily confused with boats-fortunately they were stars. What an awesome sight when Chay said "land ho" upon sighting the islands! The sea lions and turtles escorted us into the harbor where we are now anchored with several other cruising boats, local fisherman, and tour cruise ships (small to medium sized). A local man, Fernando, greeted us and told us he could help with diesel, provisions, water, tours etc. We fueled up on Thursday and took an inland tour on Friday. On the tour we saw Galapagos Tortoises, mockingbirds, some endemic plants, and sea lions. We visited the volcanic crater (almost all the islands are volcanic) which is partially filled with water - very pretty. We were able to see all sides of island from several "miradors" or vantage points. We ended the tour with lunch at Fernando's house - a very good, typical Ecuadorean almuerzo (lunch). His family used to run a restaurant on the island so he presented a very nice meal. He has a 6 year old son who Jamie played fusball with. There was an old church (1917) which was made from stones which our guide took us to - he picked some pretty red flowers and placed them in a grotto near by. He also stopped along the way and picked some local fruits which were both tasty - one was like a small peach or nectarine (very tart and juicy) and the other looked like a tiny grapefruit, but wasn't. It had a small hard pit in the middle and you ate the outer rind. The sea lions and turtles swim right around our boat. Yesterday there was a sea lion playing with a fish (yes, playing not eating) right next to us - they are really fun to watch! There are also tuna swimming around us, but we have not caught one (not sure if it is legal to fish in the harbor). We will be here on San Cristobal until April 1st when our permit becomes valid. You have to have a cruising permit to visit multiple islands in your own boat - ours hadn't come in yet so we left Bahia de Caraquez on an international zarpe to the Marquesas. When we got here on March 22 we found out our permit had arrived - except it wasn't valid until April 1 so the port captain said ok, but you can't leave this island/harbor until the 1st. But that's ok - we have enough boat work (fix the depth sounder and clean the bottom) and exploring to do before we head off to the other islands to keep us busy. Chay has already installed the new compass for the autopilot (we actually used it underway because Chay was able to temporarily mount the new compass with duct tape to the floor until we got here - we just had to be careful not to step on it or knock it.) We went to church this morning - the Bishop lead the mass. The cathedral was very simple and the people were friendly. Our plan is to visit four of the islands for 2 to 3 weeks, then when the winds are right head west for the big jump to the Marquesas.
Chay, Katie, & Jamie - San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands
April 2, 2006
Buenos Dias - We write today from Isla Floreana (AKA Santa Maria) where we arrived last night a bit after 5 PM. We left San Cristobal at 4 AM and sailed the whole way!! It was nice to not have motor noise, but we did have to get used to the sails and rigging clanging and banging as the wind kept shifting and boat moved with the confused seas. We all had to adjust to the rocking and rolling - we hadn't had seas that "rough" in a long time. Jamie got practice steering on this trip while Chay and Katie were on deck getting the spinnaker poles down and rigged so that we could pole out the genoa (front sail) and go wing and wing down wind. Good practice for everyone. Jamie is turning into a good little skipper (the person at the wheel). Today we plan to explore the island - supposed to see green sand beach(from olivine crystals) and flamingos. While still in San Cristobal we hiked over to the Bay where Charles Darwin first landed in the Galapagos and snorkeled with the sea lions - literally! It was way cool! Two of them stayed with us for a while. The down side of that little hike was that a mother spider decided to climb into Katie's backpack outer pocket and lay here eggs. Two days later, Chay noticed the mother crawling along the salon floor and chased her down and killed her. She was very big and ugly. Then we checked for others and found her rather large family of tiny white spiders. Katie took the backpack into the cockpit and exterminated/fumigated the spiders - all in the rain! Katie was just glad she didn't reach into the pack to get a tissue and find the mother! While underway to Floreana, Jamie caught a fish - a bigggg fish! In reality it caught his lure and took off really fast with the line - he took all 200 feet of line right off the reel and broke the line! Fortunately he left the pole. We'll never know what it was or how big it was! One of our goals in the Galapagos is to have Jamie trained to scuba dive which Chay accomplished - Jamie studied the book, was quizzed by Chay, and then passed his training dives with flying colors....
Jamie & Chay - First Diving Lesson in the Galapagos Islands
April 14, 2006
This is just a quicky email to let you know we pulled up the hook this morning at 7:40 am and are underway to the Marquesas. We only have 2900 miles to go! It is hard to believe that we are finally doing this! We did have a chance to update our web site so check it out. Because the internet was very slow, we only updated the photos on the photo gallery page but it will give you a flavor of our stay in the Galapagos. Family members - watch the mail for a postcard from the "mail barrel" - it could be a while before you see it since it only gets delivered if one of the tourists picks it up to deliver to you directly like the whalers did hundreds of years ago....
Katie, Chay, & Jamie at Post Office Bay, Galapagos Islands
April 16, 2006
Happy Easter! We wish you all a very special Easter season - May His love shine through in everything you do! We are currently about 200 miles south/west of the Galapagos. We have been underway 2 days now and all is well. We were able to sail through the night -it is so peaceful without the motor running! The Easter Bunny came during the night and hid the eggs we decorated and left us some goodies to eat - Jamie has been looking forward to today. We'll treat ourselves to eggs and sausage this morning as well some pineapple pastries we purchased at a little bakery on Isla Isabela. We bought a huge bunch of green bananas - about 30 in all. The first 3 ripened all by themselves, but it looks like the rest are going to be ready all at the same time! They taste yummy! I might have to make banana bread. We had a good time in the Galapagos - we did some snorkeling, horseback riding, hiking, and touring of the volanic landscape including the 6 mile wide volcanic crater that is still steaming. It looks so prehistoric! We saw penguins, mustard rays, white tip sharks, sea lions, marine iguanas (ugly things!), blue footed boobies, and a whole lot more. It was a little harder to provision in the Galapagos but we managed to fill our coffers. Well only 2700 miles to go....
Marine Iguana - Galapagos Islands
April 23, 2006
Well, it was 9 days ago that we left land....Milk Run???????....we've had high winds, rough seas, lots of rocking and rolling, a few nights of squalls, one bout of serious sea sickness (Chay), one bout of minor sea sickness (Jamie), lots of sailing at 6 knots or greater - that's a good thing....we've reefed, unreefed, and changed sails more times in the last 9 days than we did the entire previous 2 years of cruising! Cooking has been a challenge, we've not had coffee in a week in fear of the coffee pot flying off the stove when an unsuspected big swell hits like this morning while Katie was making pancakes- the pancake batter flew all over the galley! What a yucky mess! But we managed to salvage enough to still have a nice breakfast. We've hove-to twice (setting the sails a certain way so we basically just bob and move with the current - somehow the boat settles in and its not near as rough)- once when Chay was sick and the other when Chay was trouble shooting the auto pilot. The auto pilot is a fair weather sailor, so we have been doing a lot of hand steering to boot (very tiring, especially at night) - even Jamie is getting to be a good helmsman. There is a lot of water out here! We've seen a few birds, dolphins, and flying fish. Speaking of flying fish, Katie got hit in the head by one the other morning when coming off her watch - scared the you know what out of her, and then everyone got a good laugh out of it. Well that's it for now...time to play Mastermind with Jamie. Only 1900 miles to go - we're over a third of the way! Pray for fair winds and following seas!
Katie & her flying fish
April 30, 2006
We only have 1070 miles to go (7-9 days)! To help put this in perspective for you, when we started the trip in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador we were as far east as Florida; we are now as far west as San Francisco! This week has been pretty good - calmer seas, a few squalls, and the ability to go wing and wing for extended periods of time which meant fewer sail changes. Katie discovered the wonder of a gimbaled stove - it is very weird to watch it work, but it does. No more flying pancakes! In all of our cruising to date we never had to use it - gives you an idea of what the sea state is out here. Jamie has started writing a cruiser's guide to the all the places we have been and will be - it was his idea and he is doing an awesome job! It is a work in progress. We are just about out of bread, so I will attempt a loaf today - hope my yeast still works! Jamie turns 9 tomorrow so we'll see how the cake turns out...
Jamie's 9th birthday - the cake was yummy, if a little crooked!
May 9, 2006
Land Ho! We arrived this morning at sunrise, almost exactly 24 days after we departed the Galapagos! The first two weeks were rough weather and seas and not much fun, but the last week was more of "the milk run" that it was supposed to be. It is hard to believe we actually did it - crossed over 3000 miles of open ocean! The longest distance between land on the face of the earth! The third try was the charm. The island of Fatu Hiva is absolutely gorgeous - doesn't look real! It is very mountainous and very green - steep slopes and lush valleys. It paid to not give up our dream. More to follow after we are rested...
Katie, Jamie, & Chay - Landfall in the Marquesas after 24 days at sea!
May 15, 2006
Happy Mother's Day to all you great Mom's reading this message.
Kahuhu from Fatu Hiva! We've been here almost a week now and are finally relaxing. It's hard to believe we are in the middle of the Pacific ocean! Looking back at the passage we can describe it as follows: Week One (the washing machine) - "What the heck are we doing this for?" Week Two (the squalls escorted us) - "Ok, we're ready to be there...now!" Week Three (the milk run?) - "This isn't too bad, should we just keep going?" As we've said before, this was supposed to have been the "milk run". Jamie so aptly described it last night as the "milkshake run"! All in all it was an ok passage and we are proud and relieved to have it under our belt.
Jamie turned 9 at the beginning of week 3 - it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. We celebrated with all of his favorite foods - pancakes, tunafish, and home made pizza. We had "underway brownies" (they had a slight slope to them from our rocking and rolling) for his cake, and then he opened his gifts. Earlier that day he told us he wished we were on land; when asked if it was because there would have been gifts on land, he said yes. He was shocked at the gifts and is still wondering where we hid them! He has grown an inch since we left Boulder City and is still growing as evidenced by his insatiable appetite!
We've been busy getting Esprit back into ship shape. Katie cleaned the entire interior (except the floor, we need to wash and wax the top sides before doing the floor), and Chay's been busy fixing the auto-pilot (including installing a remote control for the cockpit so we don't need to keep running down to the navigation station to change course), cleaning the electrical connections to our depth and speed gauges so they read correctly on the display, tightening up bolts on the transmission and drive shaft to minimize future leakage, and checking/cleaning the rigging for chafe. The rigging fared well considering we were on the same tack for almost the entire trip (sails on the same side of the boat)! Jamie & Katie help Chay whenever he needs it.
We hiked to one of the waterfalls on the island - about 1-1/2 miles each way. The island is truly a tropical paradise - more so than anywhere we've been so far. The waterfall is a bridal veil type - very tall and graceful. We swam in the pool below taking advantage of a refreshing fresh water shower. There were "craw daddy's" in the pool, but we didn't catch any. After a picnic lunch on the boulders we hiked back to town.
The gendarme (policeman) met us along the way and asked us to meet him the next morning at 8AM to "check in". This island is not an official port of entry so we are actually here "illegally", except for the fact that we have boat repairs to make and are supposed to be allowed 3 days to make the repairs. Chay presented Tahuhu (the gendarme) with a cigar which he gratefully accepted and then proceeded to check us in. When he asked how long we needed to be here to make our boat repairs, Katie said, Monday (in French - been putting her 12 years of French to good use here although her vocabulary is a bit hidden in the cob webs). He said, o.k, Sunday. He also gave Hawkeye (the boat we've become friends with - John & Linda) till Sunday. To ensure this departure day, we also gave him some polypropylene line/cord for him to use for fishing. So shortly here we will depart for Hiva Oa to officially check in, re-provision a bit, and then we can explore the rest of the Marquesan Islands.
One of the local families invited us to dinner (Katie had to do some tough negotiations to keep the price at $5.00 US). 20 of us cruisers enjoyed a typical marquesan meal of poisson cru, taro (like potato), chicken (2 styles - one in coconut) and rice.
Katie spent 3 days doing laundry (about 3 loads of laundry) - first you sort the laundry to match the number of clothes pins you have, then you load the laundry, buckets, soap, and mat (to set clean clothes on) into the dinghy, start the engine, next you drive over to the concrete wharf, then you unload the dinghy and take everything over to the water faucet where you proceed to fill your buckets with soapy water and scrub the clothes. Once soapy, you carry everything over to the other faucet (5 feet off the ground, so easier to rinse under) and rinse the clothes. Once done, you put everything back in dinghy, go back to the boat, unload the dinghy, and hang the clothes to dry. Katie has discovered a simple pleasure in life - an empty laundry hamper!
We needed bread so decided we'd go to the bakery to get some. The only problem was, the bakery was in the other town, Omoa, on the island! So, we took a 3 mile/30 minute dinghy ride with Hawkeye to Omoa. The town is bigger than the one where we are anchored and has a very different feel to it. The people are a bit more upscale and less greedy. They didn't cluster around us asking for stuff, they merely greeted us as we walked through the village. We found a restaurant and asked if they were open for lunch. We don't think they really were, but they told us to come back at noon and they would serve us lunch. It was wonderful - tuna in a delicious sauce, bread fruit fries, and a cole slaw salad. We traded some of Linda's thin cord for Honey made locally from the local flowers (we saw the bee hives at several homes along the way). We bought our bread on the way back to the dinghy's - they only make enough for the locals, so we ended up buying one loaf from the store, and one loaf from one of the locals. The local ladies were all very pleasant and helpful! When we got back to the dinghy's the swell had increased making it a bit difficult to get our dinghy's. A boat had come in loaded with fish that they appeared to be splitting up amongst the locals. One of the fisherman gave Chay a ride to our dinghy (which was tied onto a line out a ways from the wharf) - Chay had a hard time getting the dinghy close enough to the wharf for us to board because of the swell, but he finally succeeded. We all got in our dinghy and dropped Hawkeye and Jamie off at Hawkeye's dinghy. Jamie rode with Hawkeye to keep our weight down - our motor is smaller than Hawkeye's and therefore needs as little weight as possible in it when we go long distances like this trip was. (The bread was delicious!)
We've learned how to trade for food and carvings. It feels a bit awkward walking up to people's homes and asking if they would like to trade, but they do and its a great way to "shop". Katie traded an old radio/tape player for a Tiki carving, as well as one of Jamie's old t-shirts for some pamplemousse (very large grapefruit), oranges, and some type of potato which we have yet to try. They are very willing to trade for line/cord and life jackets; they also want clothes, pencils, soap, deodorant, perfume, rum, and candy. Clothes are a bit tricky, since the teenage girls think our clothes look funny; in addition, the locals are a bit larger than most of us cruisers. While doing laundry Katie traded a life jacket for some very fresh tuna from a fisherman who had just caught a yellow fin tuna - very yummy barbecued!
So today Katie gets to relax and enjoy Mother's Day in a beautiful anchorage before we head off on our next adventure!
The Marquesas Islands
May 23, 2006
We are currently anchored in a small bay on the island of Tahuata. We had a wonderful 9 hour day sail to Hiva Oa from Fatu Hiva. We checked into French Polynesia in Hiva Oa - all went smoothly except for they made us post a bond - we don't think we were supposed to have to pay it since we had a 6 month VISA in our passports already which we obtained while in the states. We are going to inquire in Papeete, Tahiti about this and see if we can get the bond back sooner than when we depart from Bora Bora in August. The anchorage in Hiva Oa was crowded and the swell was big; we had both anchors out and were still having to keep careful watch to make sure we didn't hit another boat. Chay helped two other boats reset their stern anchors while we were there. Hiva Oa had good provisioning except for one problem - everything costs at least double what it costs in the states! The bakeries make wonderful bread and pastries - yum yum!
We departed Hiva Oa the afternoon after checking in the morning for a 2 hour trip to Tahuata. We anchored in a beautiful anchorage with a white sand beach and good snorkeling - and only 5 boats. Water visibility was at least 40 feet! The swell got worse after a few days making it difficult to go to shore which was a very steep beach - the waves were breaking right on the beach. Chay gave Jamie 2 more scuba diving lessons and Jamie did great! He went down to 25 feet the second day - he said he loves it! Even more than snorkeling. After a few days in this anchorage several more boats came in making it a bit crowded so we left Saturday 5/20 for the anchorage we are in now. This anchorage is very different than the others in that we face a vertical slope with no beach - the ocean floor drops of pretty quickly so we are anchored in deeper water than normal. The landscape is green, green, green - very pretty! Today we snorkeled, tomorrow we will dinghy over to the town which is supposed to be the quaintest and friendliest village in the Marqueses. It also has an archaeological site to visit.
The days have been warm - about 85 degrees and very humid; the water for snorkeling is 86 degrees! The nights cool off to a comfortable sleeping temperature except for when it rains and we have to close up the boat - then it gets kind of stuffy. The night time sky is absolutely gorgeous - more stars than we've ever seen! We've also seen Jupiter and Venus. Jupiter is very bright. We can see both the southern cross and the big dipper - so at least we know which ways are north and south!
We've been buddy boating with "Hawkeye" - John & Linda - since the Galapagos. They are wonderful folks and great to spend time with. They have been sailing for many years so have lots of experience for us to learn from.
We cross paths with kid boats every once in a while giving Jamie time to play with kids his age. He and Oliver (off Stenella) got along great - lots of lego time. They spent 7 hours one day building and playing! Oliver's dad gave us a large piece of smoked Wahoo - yum! Makes up for us not having much luck fishing.
Last night when we coming back from snorkeling, we stopped to watch the sunset and finally saw the Green Flash! First time! It's hard to believe we are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
May 28, 2006
We came here to Oa Pou on Thursday - a yucky 12 hour passage with sloppy seas and weird winds. After we finished getting the boat tucked away Katie noticed a washer laying on the deck by the mast - not good! The next morning Chay went up the swaying mast in large swells to find out where it came from and it was from the forestay (which helps hold up the mast)! We were fortunate to have found the washer, otherwise we might have lost the forestay and possibly the mast! Chay checked and secured the rest of the rigging on his way down the mast. Half the anchorage is on bow and stern anchors, while the rest of us are on bow only - it was the bow only's that did most of the dragging anchor during the squall.
Well, we just had an exciting time here on the island of Oa Pou...we woke up to an overcast, rainy day...then we got wolloped with a squall and the rains poured down and the anchor dragged (as did several other boats in the anchorage)...we were seeing up to 28 knots of wind but some boats say they saw up to 35 knots...when we went to start the engine to keep us from dragging back any further into the boats behind us the engine wouldn't start - not a good time to not start...Chay had changed the fuel filter yesterday and figured there was still air in the lines. The engine finally started...we reanchored and are now closely monitoring the weather and our position...
So, since last week we visited 3 anchorages on Tahuata two of which had villages that we explored. We took a couple of hikes up the hillsides - these islands are so incredibly lush - Jamie found a wild watermelon - the fruit is yellow and lots of seeds but tastes good!
Local Marquesan carving a bowl with his grandson
Lush Marquesan Landscape with Esprit at anchor
We explored town, had a nice lunch with REAL ICE CREAM for dessert (delicious) at a local "snack", and stocked up on some provisions and engine oil. Today is Mother's Day here so last night we went to a party that the local's were having - in addition to being for Mother's Day it was also the beauty pageant for Miss Oa Pou. It was a lot of fun! We got to see the marquesan's dance and even did a bit of dancing ourselves although we don't know how the women move their hips like they do! The music was american songs to a marquesan beat - very lively. The food was pretty good - mussels, beef bourganeone, rice, bread, and a variety of desserts.
Miss Oa Pou Competition
Chay has been busy fixing toilets and auto pilots, changing oil and filters - there is always something. In addition to helping Chay when he needed it, Katie did some more laundry and figured out what to do with all the fruit the locals have given us - she made homemade orange juice and froze a bunch of bananas to use later in pancakes and banana bread (we had one of those big stalks of bananas that all ripened at the same time).
Tomorrow we will depart for another anchorage on this island and then on to Nuka Hiva to do final provisioning and check-out as well as exploring different anchorages there before heading to the Tuamotus with the full moon in June.
Jamie starts school on Thursday (4th grade!), so Katie will be preparing for that over the next few days. For those of you who don't know, Jamie finished up the 3rd grade homeschool curriculum before we left the states in March, so he has been on "summer vacation" and thoroughly enjoying his time off.
June 6, 2006
We are anchored in the calmest anchorage the Marquesas right now - much better than the conditions we were in last week! Since we last wrote we visited another bay on Oa Pou where we met Etienne & Yvonne. Etienne is a retired school teacher and was mayor for 12 years. He speaks some English. We met Yvonne in the church yard while out exploring the surroundings and she asked if we wanted to buy some fruit from her garden. Of course! The next morning Etienne met us at the wharf and drove us to his home where we sipped fresh grapefruit juice and chatted with Etienne. We had a great view of the bay and Esprit from his outside kitchen where we were gathered. Landing at the wharf was a challenge - there was lots of swell and the wharf was extremely slippery! While landing the first time Katie slipped and scraped her legs a bit, but not much damage. We found launching from the wharf to go back to the boats much easier.
We had a great snorkel with our buddy boat friends John & Linda while in that bay - amazing coral formations and lots of fish. The snorkeling seems to improve the further west we go.
We left on Thursday for Nuka Hiva. We had a wonderful sail! John & Linda videotaped us while underway! Great footage. This is the island with the capital of the Marquesas. We are exploring the bays first before heading into the main bay/town where we will get diesel and provisions before heading to the Touamotus and Tahiti. We are looking forward to some of these bays as we have heard they have excellent snorkeling and diving. Yesterday we took down the front sail (genoa) to repair it - it's been our work horse on this trip. We picked the right day to do it - very little wind and only a few rain showers. The day before and today are both too windy - even early in the morning. Tomorrow we will hike over the hill to the neighboring bay/town - there is supposed to be a good restaurant there to have lunch! Restaurants are few and far between here.
Anaho Bay, Marquesas
June 12, 2006
We are now in Taiohae Bay, the capital city of the Marquesas. When we last wrote we were getting ready to hike over to a neighboring town for bread and lunch - the hike was wet but fun, and the lunch was pretty good. Chay had shrimp in his lunch and later that night his arms started itching, so we have confirmed he's allergic to shrimp. We gave our canned shrimp to our buddy boat friends John & Linda on Hawkeye. On Thursday we made the 15 mile bumpy passage around the island to Controleur's Bay on the south side. We were greeted by several very large Manta Rays - they were awesome! Linda caught a huge! Wahoo so we had fresh fish barbecue for dinner on Hawkeye. Yummy - lots left over in the freezer. We dingy'd over to the town of Taipivai which is the setting for Herman Melville's book Typee. What a gorgeous, lush valley! A hike up the hillside took us to an archeological site with 500 year old stone tiki's - very interesting, but very buggy. The anchorage we were in was rolly so we moved over here to Taiohae (T-Bay) - another lumpy ride, but only about an hour long. Unfortunately this anchorage is also rolly - I think we got spoiled last week in Anaho Bay. We explored town and did some provisioning as this will be our last place to provision before Tahiti. Chay and John did two fuel runs with Jerry Jugs for diesel and gasoline so now we are just about full again and ready to head to the Tuamotus and Tahiti in a few days. Today we went to church - what an incredible experience...the cathedral is built out of stone and decorated with local carvings...the singing was magnificent - mostly acapela (spelling?) and amazing harmonizing!...the service was partially in Marquesan and partially French. Although the congregation was 99 percent Marquesan, the priest was French - Katie even managed to get the gist of his homily which he delivered in French. The words to all the songs were printed on paper, so we managed to sing along - it was actually easier to follow the Marquesan than it was to follow the Spanish in Ecuador! Our excitement so far has been the fact that we dragged anchor last night at 1:30 am and bumped a nearby boat...we reanchored and are watching our position very carefully...no apparent damage to either boat - phew! We were able to watch the finish of an outrigger canoe race, the one we saw locals training for a couple of weeks ago at Etienne's bay. They can sure row fast! There has been a festival going on all week which will finish today so yesterday we wandered through the site which was beautifully decorated with local vegetation - very "polynesian"...Jamie was pleased to see Blue Sky here (we met them in Hiva Oa) - they have two kids on board who he has been playing with the last two days...
June 19, 2006
Happy Father's Day to all you Great Dads reading this update! Since we last wrote, our anchorage got rollier and rollier so we moved to the anchorage next door (Daniel's Bay) where it is much calmer. However, it is much buggier and we are all bitten up and very itchy! Katie seems to be affected the most. This is the bay where the first Survivor show was filmed. They moved Daniel to the next little town to do the show here. Daniel had lived here for over 60 years! On Friday we took a 2-1/2 hour (each way) hike up the mountain thru the jungle to see the third highest waterfall in the world! We went with Hawkeye and Jade (Arnie, Cam, and their two daughters Molly and Nancy, and Vivianne Cam's sister). It was a beautiful hike and the falls were breathtaking although you couldn't see the whole thing at one time due to the geology/topography of the area. We had to ford 4 rivers on the hike - two of them were flowing pretty fast - quite the adventure! In addition, the trail was a bit muddy in places, but the rivers cleaned our feet and sandals pretty well. At the last river on the return trip we sat a spell and skipped rocks- the kids got a kick out of it. Jamie gets along really well with Molly (7) and Nancy (5). They are from Hong Kong!
Waterfall at Daniel's Bay
Molly & Jamie on our hike at Daniel's Bay
Yesterday, in preparation for our 5 day passage to the Tuomotus, Katie made ginger snaps - the ginger will help abate sea sickness - they taste yummy! There is little to no wind for the next couple of days, so we are planning to depart on Tuesday/Wednesday when the winds pick up some and seas have laid down some. Then we'll just hope the weather stays nice for awhile because the passes through the reefs can be quite dangerous.
Jamie has been busy with school. We haven't been able to snorkle/dive here because the water has been too rough or too murky. You don't want to go when the water is murky because the sharks can't see how big you are and are therefore more of a danger. They don't usually bother things that are bigger than they are, that's why you want them to see you really well! Today, Katie (with lots of bug spray on) will clean the water line of the boat (it is growing a hula skirt!) and Chay will go to shore with John on Hawkeye to burn trash. Jamie and Katie will make peanut butter cookies as Jamie's reward for getting 50 "brownie points" in school. Tonight Jade's coming over to watch "Captain Ron" and have popcorn. If you haven't seen this movie, it is a great comedy! NaNa (goodbye in Marquesan)
June 27, 2006
After losing the battle with the "no-no's" (no-see-ums) and looking like we have the chicken pox we departed Daniel's Bay in Nuku Hiva on Monday June 19th for the Tuamotu's. We had 15-17 knots of wind for the first two days and had a record 24 hour sail making 170 miles! We were going 7 knots most of the time, but saw as high as 8.9 knots! That is a very, very, good day! The down side was the auto pilot didn't like going so fast so we hand steered for the first two days until the winds slowed way down (had to motor for a while). For the last 12 hours or so we had to keep our speed at about 4 knots so that we would get to Keuahi, Tuoamotus at just the right time to go through the pass with the morning slack tide. Katie spotted land just before sunrise - mind you, land is about 5 feet high! Without the palm trees, you wouldn't be able to see it very well! What a contrast to the looming volcanic spires of the Marquesas Islands. We navigated the pass with no problems and came to anchor in front of the little village making sure the anchor dropped and hooked in sand rather than on one of the many coral heads. The "island" is actually an atoll which is a circular reef surrounding a submerged volcano forming a lagoon. This atoll is 10 miles across! Our friends on Hawkeye experienced some engine problems (water in oil) along the way so were planning on coming in with the afternoon slack tide. Their engine oil problem worsened at exactly the wrong time - in the midst of a squall, with all sails down, their engine quit as they were approaching the pass! We were in constant radio contact with them, assuring them that the pass was "easy" and the way to the anchorage coral/obstacle free. They sailed all the way in and we helped them set their hook by pulling them backwards with our dinghy. Once hooked we celebrated the passage and our first Atoll entrance with beer and pizza on Esprit once everyone was showered and more relaxed. The four day passage was more tiring than the 24 day one! This place is breathtaking! Amazing to think that we are out in the middle of the ocean anchored by a small piece of land. The water is very calm and very clear - how nice to sleep without rolling back and forth! The fish swim all around our boat - they especially like it when we throw the leftovers overboard! We dinghy's over to the town - the roads are coral sand, the houses simple, and the church a bit dilapidated, but quaint. There is a small, fairly well stocked store which we did not expect. We took a walk out to the point before heading back to the boats before dark. We snorkeled yesterday - lots of tropical fish, giant clams, and oyster traps along the bottom! The Tuamotu's are famous for their black pearls - the lagoon has oyster farms scattered throughout. We are hoping to trade for a few black pearls while we are here. Jamie launched his sailing dinghy with Mom & Dad's help and has been out rowing. We need to remember how to rig it properly so that he can sail it- the first attempt didn't work right. Today we will spray up with bug spray and go exploring for shells.
Besides the fun stuff, Jamie has been doing school, Chay repaired the autopilot (we won't know for sure until we are underway again), and we are getting ready to "empty" Esprit room by room, cupboard by cupboard, to give her a good cleaning and to find out where the ants are coming from!
We feel as if we are in a dream sometimes when we get beyond life on our little boat and realize where we are! Last night as we watched the sun go down, we were all able to see the green flash just as the sun goes under the horizon - a beautiful sight! The green flash can only be seen at sea because you need a flat horizon with little to no clouds. We were disbelievers until this latest passage - amongst the three of us we've seen 3 so far.
Jamie & Chay in the sailing dinghy
July 4, 2006
Happy Fourth of July - we are still in Kauehi, Touamotus enjoying the calm anchorage. We've gotten to know a bit about the village we are anchored off of. The main industry is the farming of black pearls. There are only 112 people - most are young. There used to be 500 people and 52 pearl farms, but according to the man who gave us a tour of his pearl farm, there are only 4 pearl farms left. He said this is due to laziness of the pearl farmers - they spent too much time partying and not enough time working their farms. The pearl farm tour was very interesting - he has a lot of time and money invested. Each oyster can produce four cultured pearls over a 4 year time period - after that the oysters are "tired". The nucleus for the pearl is surgically inserted into the oyster and then the oyster is put on a line that is hung vertically in just the right depth of water to produce a black pearl. The color comes from the color of the inside of the oyster shell or "Nok". They had us eat the raw muscle that the oyster is attached to the shell with - it was very good! We never would have thought of eating that part. They use every part of the oyster from the pearl, to the animal itself for food, and the shells which are used to make beautiful jewelry and art. After the tour they treated us to coconut milk and coconut fritters which hit the spot! Coconut is the second industry on the island. We went to mass Sunday morning - they actually have a man who rings the bell before mass and prayer services each morning and evening! Once again, we were treated to beautiful music and wonderful harmonizing. The parish is too small to have a full time priest, so the mass was performed by several deacons. The mass was said in polynesian - good thing the "rhythm" of the mass is the same as at home so we knew what was going on most of the time.
We've gone snorkeling several times - amazing fish and even an eel! The eel was kind of ugly so we stayed away from him! We watched the Brazil vs France soccer game with the locals - France won so they were happy! They have invited us to their airport (quite the accomplishment given what they have to work with) on Wednesday morning when the once a week flight comes in - apparently there is lots of music and food! One day we went to the ocean side of the atoll to look for shells and two local girls showed us the way - we ended up trading with one of the girls: a pamplemousse for some polished shells, including a very nice oyster shell. We plan on moving on to another atoll, Fakarava, on Thursday assuming the winds are right for our buddy boat, Hawkeye. They are awaiting parts for their engine so will need good winds (direction and speed) to sail through the passes out of here and into Fakarava. The parts will hopefully meet them in Fakarava.
We wish you all a Happy 4th of July - we aren't sure what we will do but it will include a barbecue, but probably not fireworks, unless we use some old flares!
July 11, 2011
We are still in Kauehi waiting for right wind and tides to head to Fakarava and for Hawkeye to receive their engine parts so they can safely navigate the passes. We celebrated the 4th of July with a barbecue and fireworks. Our fireworks were 3 flares - they worked great (even though they were long expired). However, they worked so well that some of the locals came out in their boats to "save us". They are strict about using flares at sea only in times of distress. Fortunately, they understood our explanation and accepted our apologies for inconveniencing them. We were so embarrassed! We've continued our routine of school in the morning for Jamie & Katie, and boat waxing for Chay. We have done some more snorkeling on the coral heads - tons of beautiful fish, an octopus, and sharks! Chay was the lucky one to see the sharks. We had a potluck barbecue on the beach with all 9 boats - it was a lot of fun. We are in the company of 3 American boats, 2 Finnish, 1 Swedish, 1 French, and 1 German/Brazilian! Quite the international community. A couple of the cruisers had guitars, harmonica, flute, and other instruments with them, so we had music and singing all evening. Some of local kids joined us on and off as well. Chay and Linda (Hawkeye) scuba dove on Rasa Manis' stern anchor yesterday to unhook it from a coral head where it had dug itself in. One of the things that makes cruising so great is how helpful cruisers are to each other! Jamie has been enjoying the company of the boys on Diva - they are Germans who live in Brazil! Patrick is 11 and the twins, Phillip & Alex, turned 9 yesterday. Jamie enjoyed sharing in their birthday celebration. Their mom made several wonderful desserts! Yesterday was also Linda's (Hawkeye) birthday! We had Hawkeye and Marita (a Finnish couple) over for her birthday dinner celebration. It was a lot of fun, especially hearing about life in Finland. We've been cleaning the boat compartment by compartment and have managed to reorganize in such a way as to give Jamie more of his bedroom back - it was filled up with bikes and sails, but now he has room to spread out his legos during the day and himself at night so he can sleep better. He is definitely growing! We all got haircuts recently - Katie buzzed Chay, while Chay buzzed Jamie and trimmed/buzzed Katie. We had to lean over the stern so the wind would blow the hair away from the boat! The haircuts turned out pretty good! The weather has been very comfortable, except for when the winds die (like they are now) and it gets very stuffy and sticky.
Jamie & Patrick from Diva dinghy sailing with pearl farm in background
July 17, 2006
We left Kauehi on Bastille Day (Friday, July 14th) and had a motor sail to Fakarava arriving mid-afternoon. The pass was wide and the entrance easy - the water was so clear we could see bottom - at least 90 feet visibility! Our friends on Hawkeye received their engine parts on the airplane that arrives weekly on Wednesdays in Kauehi. Chay helped John on Hawkeye repair the engine, and after a couple of iterations, by Thursday morning the engine was running again. The tides and winds were right to make our departure the next morning, so we pulled up anchor at 5 AM and here we are! We had dinner on shore Friday night and watched the local dancers (male and female) perform - the women sure can gyrate those hips and the men do a unique sort of knee dance. The dancing was "softer" than the dancing we watched in the Marquesas islands. We were disappointed that there weren't any fireworks for Bastille Day. We explored the island again on Saturday and did some grocery shopping while the winds picked up from the south causing the seas to get big and choppy - we had quite the dinghy ride back to the boats. This atoll is very large - about 30 miles long. We are anchored in the northeast corner so when the south winds kicked in there was a lot of water to get stirred up. Now that the winds have clocked around to the east/northeast, the seas are much calmer because they don't have as much distance to build up. We are missing our calm anchorage at Kauehi! Linda (Hawkeye), Jamie, and Katie went in this afternoon and watched the weaving contest - the women wove baskets, mats, and hats out of palm fronds - amazing to watch! We also watched the javelin throwing contest yesterday - the men had to try and hit a coconut mounted on a pole about 30 feet high. They are very skilled! It is great to see that the traditional polynesian crafts and sports are still learned and practiced. Chay had the pleasure of taking apart one of our computers today to try and fix the plug - of course it couldn't be easily accessible! The computer wouldn't hold a charge or recognize it had regular power. He was successful and it is now working again! Jamie has been learning different crafts from Linda on Hawkeye - he is enjoying learning how to bead and weave - he made Chay an ankle bracelet and Katie an ankle bracelet and wrist bracelet. He has a good eye for color and design which also comes through in his lego designs of boats, airplanes, marinas, fishing poles, etc...we hope to do some diving this week - everyone says its incredible...we'll let you know next week. Well, time to make pizza, and have our Sunday movie and popcorn....
Javeline throwing contest at Fakarava
July 24, 2006
Greetings from the south pass of Fakarava - while still in the north anchorage, we had the unique experience of watching the freighters come through the anchorage to the wharf. When we say through the anchorage, we mean literally through the anchorage! We had one come between Hawkeye and us and we were only about 100 feet apart! And to top it off, they do it at night! It definately got the adrenaline running.
Freighter working it way through the Fakarava anchorage to the dock
We had a nice calm ghost of a sail down from the north anchorage on Wednesday. It is just gorgeous here! The water visibility is over 100 feet! We did a drift snorkel on Thursday through the pass - when Jamie got in the water and looked down through his snorkel mask he came up and said "Awesome", when Katie got in her response was "WOW"! We could see down to the bottom of pass and could see a blanket of coral and fish everywhere. The current lead us slowly through the pass back into the lagoon - we saw so many colorful fish and coral of all shapes and sizes. The most exciting thing was swimming with the black tip and grey sharks! Chay kept near Jamie so the sharks wouldn't see that Jamie was smaller than them. It was incredible. Katie towed the dinghy and enjoyed watching Chay and Jamie dive down deeper - they looked they were flying and almost as if they were superimposed over a fake backdrop.
That night we had a wonderful fish buffet dinner at the restaurant. The fish was caught that morning and we were able to watch the fisherman bring it in and clean it - we had Grouper and Parrot Fish, plus tuna carpaccio (raw tuna in a ginger sauce). Normally you can't eat the Grouper and Parrot Fish because of the poison they carry from eating the corals, but the locals know how to determine if the fish are contaminated and these weren't. They served a delicious coconut pie for dessert. Then the adventure began...it was very dark, we didn't have a very bright flashlight, and the winds were howling as we started our dinghy ride with Hawkeye in their dinghy back to the boats...the wind and current quickly brought us too close to shore and onto a reef and bombie (coral head)...as we got ourselves off that one, we landed on another..John brought up the motor (corals do great damage to propellors) and Chay started rowing while Linda with flashlight and Katie tried to con (look for) the coral heads..Jamie hunkered down in the bottom of the dinghy and was singing to himself. Finally the team came together and we worked our way out of the reef and back to the boats - after we got safely off the corals we realized that in addition to all the other bad weather it was also pouring rain! Fortunately, Hawkeye's dinghy did not sustain any serious damage which they were really glad about particularly since the grinding sound the dinghy made when it landed on the coral heads was awful. Lots of lessons learned that night! In addition, Linda mentioned it to the restaurant owner the next day and suggested the restaurant offer taxi service for dinner since they know the lay of the water much better than we cruisers do - last night that's exactly what the restaurant did, and tonight we will take advantage of that service as well.
Napolean fish in the waters near the restaurant, South Pass Fakarava
Dinghy anchorage at restaurant - note sharks! South Pass, Fakarava
The next day we did a drift scuba dive with the dive instructor that has a dive shop here. It was a great dive - all of us did well, including Jamie who stayed with the instructor. We only had a few touchy moments at the beginning when John & Katie had to swim against the current over to the mooring ball where we were to begin the dive..Katie got bumped in the head by the dive boat (she wasn't hurt) and then panicked a bit during her swim to the mooring ball; she recovered herself back to a calm state in just a few minutes. We all (Jamie too) went down to 41 feet and saw lots of grey sharks as well as fish and coral. It was a great way for Katie to get used to diving again, and for Jamie to gain more experience!
We explored the coral beach right near our boat yesterday and did some more snorkeling. The hermit crabs are amazing - we found a huge red one with a big ol' shell. The winds are up today to about 20 knots. Chay just helped Hawkeye pick up anchor (the anchors and chains tend to get wrapped around the coral heads making it difficult to bring them up) so they could re-anchor in shallower water. When the anchor rode (line) wraps around corals it shortens the line and the boat starts to jerk more in these higher winds - not very comfortable or safe. So far we are ok, but we'll find out when we bring up anchor in a day or so! We did two more drift snorkels this morning - this place is by far the best we've been to so far!
Jamie "drift" snorkeling at South Pass, Fakarava
Chay worked on the autopilot again since it decided not to work even in calm winds - so far it sounds and runs better than it did, but we won't know for sure until we are underway to Papeete, Tahiti. We plan to leave tomorrow or Tuesday for our 2 day passage.
August 7, 2006
Hello from Papeete, Tahiti - We had an easy passage out the south pass of Fakarava. We really enjoyed Fakarava and were sad to leave its clear waters and great snorkeling/diving. The winds were fair during almost all of our 2 day passage to Tahiti - we sailed the whole way. When we turned the corner around the point on approach to Papeete Harbor the winds picked up to 25 to 30 knots and we were sailing 9.5 knots! That is the fastest we have ever sailed! Katie got to bring down the main sail in 30 knots of wind (gale force) - she just kept telling herself "I can do it, I can do it, I can do it". She has to stand on the mast pulpits (about 2 1/2 feet high) and hold on to the mast to get the last part of the sail to come down and unclip the halyard from the sail - that involves a few seconds of "look Mom, no hands". That was a grand welcome to Papeete, that's for sure. We negotiated the pass and the channel inside the reef with no problems - we had to request authorization to enter the harbor and authorization to pass by the airport runway at both ends. We are anchored near Maeva Beach and Marina Taina about 3 miles from Papeete. Two days ago we were in a squall that brought 30 knots of wind and a lot of rain. One of the boats dragged and requested assistance, so Chay and Jamie put on their foul weather gear (30 knots of wind and blinding rain is pretty foul!) and dinghy'd over and helped them get off and away from the boat they dragged onto. Then they helped them re-anchor - Jamie was the voice relay between the cockpit and the bow of the boat, while Chay was on the bow. Chay said Jamie was a true seaman! Katie stayed on Esprit making sure that Esprit didn't drag, and that none of the boats around her dragged. Just one more adventure to add to our list! We celebrated with hot chocolate - the squall also dropped the temperature into the 70's which feels pretty cool here. Papeete is a medium sized busy city - we've walked most of it in search of pieces and parts. We've been disappointed in what has been available in the way of boat supplies/parts; however provisioning for food has been great! Checking in was easy; we will find out Tuesday if we got an extension to stay an extra 30 days. We would like to stay till the end of August and then leave for Tonga. If we get the extension we will haul out on Raiatea (another of the Society Islands) so that we can install our new depth sounder which we received from West Marine by FedEx. We still have one box that is being held in customs - once we get that we will check out of Papeete and move on to explore the other islands. The website is updated - no easy task from these 3rd world countries.
August 14, 2006
On Tuesday we rented a car with our friends on Hawkeye and did the "circle island tour" of Tahiti. Once you get out of Papeete, Tahiti is very beautiful. We took a short hike to a couple of waterfalls - they are always a wonder to see. We drove along a pretty tree lined road to the plateau on top of Tahiti Iti (the small island connected to Tahiti by an isthmus) and had an awesome view of both sides of Tahiti - plus it was high enough that the vegetation changed and the temperature dropped - a pleasant treat! The "tour" also included a stop at a grotto filled with water (but it was too cold to swim) as well as some archeological ruins. The day was a pleasant change from the monotony of traipsing around Papeete trying to get things done. We received our visa extension on Wednesday, fueled up on Thursday morning, and sailed to Cook's Bay on Moorea on Thursday as well. The anchorage was the calmest anchorage we have ever been in - surrounded by mountains on three sides we felt like we were on a lake in Switzerland. We hiked all around the Bay and even stopped to look around at what we think is the hotel we stayed at on our honeymoon 13 years ago! One of the 3 "Bali Boys" that started several hotels (the most famous was the Bali Hai Hotel) on Moorea and Raiatea in the 1960's is still here running the last of them - the Bali Hai Club. His name is Muk and each evening he hosts a bring your own happy hour where you can sit and chat with him about what Moorea used to be like. In addition to running the hotel, he also farms an active avocado farm here on the island. At 75 he is still quite the character. After happy hour we treated ourselves to a wonderful French dinner at a restaurant that sits on the water (we dinghy'd over and tied up at their deck). We had a waterside table and were able to enjoy watching the rays feed right below us. We went to church this morning and once again enjoyed the wonderful singing. After church we pulled up anchor and motored a few miles to Opunohu Bay where we are now anchored just inside the reef in perfectly clear water! There is a little coral head under our boat with lots of colorful fish! Katie noticed a piece of a cotter pin at the bow, which we suspected might be from the anchor, so Chay donned his scuba gear and dove down to check the anchor which was well buried. The piece was off the anchor, but fortunately not a critical piece. Since we were already in the water, we decided to clean the bottom of the boat as a family affair - Chay scuba dove the very bottom of the boat, Katie snorkeled and cleaned the water line, and Jamie rode his surf board and washed the ocean "scum" off the hull. Tomorrow we plan on taking the dinghy to a spot a couple of miles away where we can swim with the sting rays and feed them! Some of our fellow cruisers have even reported that the rays will give hugs too! We'll let you know how our experience goes in next week's update....
A friendly manta ray at Moorea - and yes it hugged Chay!August 22, 2006
This week has been interesting. After a bit more snorkeling and exploring at Moorea we departed on Wednesday for Raiatea. The passage took us about 18 hours (100 miles) and was not very pleasant. The winds were behind us, but not consistent, which caused us to have to jibe 5 times! We lost our spare battens for the main sail on one of the jibes - the broke loose and flew out of the boom. Our boom vang cable broke also (it holds the boom down and allows to be more "controllable".) Chay had just replaced the cable with new cable purchased in Papeete, but obviously it was not the same strength cable we can get in the states! So, once anchored here in Raiatea we dinghy'd over to the boat yard where we were scheduled to be hauled out the next day. We surveyed the lay of the land and the next morning had a successful haul out except that there was confusion over which way to go into the haul out slip way and ended up having to back out and back back in in a very tight space. To make things worse there was a boat tied off right next to the entrance to the slip way, but fortunately there was someone on board who helped keep us off of them. The haul out crew was very professional and competent and had us in our cradle in less than an hour. Much better than our Costa Rica experience! While on the hard we reversed and re-marked the 25 foot intervals on the 400 feet of anchor chain; Chay installed the new depth sounder (so far it works!); touched up the bottom paint which was actually in pretty good condition (Panama bottom paint is good stuff); changed the zinc and lubed the Max. prop and thru-hulls. The boat yard was full of mosquitos so we are pretty bitten up. The restroom/shower facilities were minimal - about a 1 out of 10, but they worked. On a fun note, we took the bikes to shore and rode about 6km into town to do some sightseeing and provisioning. The cruise ship station and shopping area is very nice - the best we've seen in all of French Polynesia; unfortunately, it was Sunday and nothing was open. We "splashed" back in this morning and are now back on the hook. The winds have been strong the last few days - the locals call it a Mir'amu - gusts up to 35 knots or so. Jamie enjoyed being able to ride his bike around while on the hard - especially during his school recesses. He is testing today and not enjoying it very much; but as he put it, only 100 days of school left to go!
Jamie & Chay next Esprit in the yard on Raiatea
September 4, 2006
It is rainy, grey day here as a cold front passes over us here in Bora Bora. This is the most beautiful island in the Societies, by far!
September 14, 2006
The water color ranges from purplish blue to turquoise. Chay & Jamie went with Robert on Lawur for a scuba dive here in the lagoon - although they didn't see very much, Jamie had fun making a sand castle while sitting on the bottom (20 feet down)!
Jamie diving at Bora Bora
Since we last wrote we have hooked up with another family boat - Lawur. We went with them on a dinghy ride up the only navigable river in French Polynesia to see a botanical garden with many of the local plants.
Katie, Chay, & Jamie taking a river trip in the dinghy
Our guide Alfred was very nice and did an excellent job describing all the different plants - in spite of the language barrier. Before coming to Bora Bora we spent a few days on Tahaa. We picked up a mooring at the Taravana Yacht Club and enjoyed a nice dinner with a few of the other cruisers at the Yacht Club's restaurant. The owner of the yacht club came here on his 28 foot sailboat in 1972, and he never left! The weather was calling for a front to come through while we were there so we moved to another anchorage to be better protected. The seas were calmer, but we did a lot of swinging on the hook when the gusts blew through. When it came time to pull up the anchor, we couldn't! After 45 minutes of maneuvering, we finally unwound the chain from around a coral head and pulled the anchor out of whatever coral it was stuck in. It usually only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to pull up anchor. At least one of us didn't have to dive the anchor to unhook it! Jamie told us it wouldn't have been a problem - Dad could dive it, Mom could steer, and he could work the anchor winch! He is such a trooper! During our time with Lawur we have shared many fun dinners and conversations, and the boys have had a ball together, including 3 sleepovers! Lawur has a cat, and Jamie has discovered that he is allergic to cats; so, we just give him Benadryl when he's going to be on Lawur for any length of time. Chay has been diligently working on the autopilot - he engineered a fix which when tested on route to Bora Bora in very rough seas failed. So, he re-engineered the fix to make it more robust. Hopefully this will get us to Tonga. In addition to the scuba dive mentioned above, we also went and picked up a mooring at Bloody Mary's Restaurant where we had dinner 13 years ago on our honeymoon. We had a very nice dinner at Bloody Mary's - some of the same workers were there that were there 13 years ago. Yesterday we dinghy'd over to the Hotel Bora Bora where we stayed on our honeymoon and had lunch as an early celebration of Katie's birthday. It was fun to reminisce!
Katie & Chay in front of the Bora Bora Hotel bungalow where they stayed on their honeymoon in 1993
After lunch we moved again and picked up a mooring at the Bora Bora Yacht Club where we are now trying to stay dry as we prepare to move west. We will either leave this afternoon, or early tomorrow morning, for Tonga. It is 1200 miles to Tonga, and we expect to be at sea for 7-10 days depending on the winds.
We just completed a 9 day passage from Bora Bora - about 1300 miles. During that time Katie turned 46, we had no rain to speak of, Chay repaired the boom vang cable which broke during the night, read a lot of books, did school, did some laundry, listened to books on CD, used a lot of diesel, lost a day, and enjoyed an autopilot that worked the whole passage! Thank you Chay for an ingenious engineering fix to the autopilot. Tonga conveniently moved the date line around them, but didn't change time zones, so they are the first country to greet the new day. Katie enjoyed cooking some real meals (unusual when underway)- a Carribean Banana Chicken was particularly yummy. Fortunately, the winds picked back up with about 120 miles to go and we had a great sail into Tonga with 27 gallons of fuel to spare. We are all checked in and are now tied up to a mooring ball here in Vava'u - the officials were very friendly, especially after enjoying our juice and Oreo cookies! The King of Tonga passed away on Saturday, so the locals are almost all wearing black and their traditional skirts - men and women both. Hopefully his funeral won't affect our travel plans to Hawaii where we will be (or travelling to and from) from the 18th to the 27th (we gain a day and lose a day on that trip!).
October 1, 2006
We are back on board Esprit after our long but fun and successful trip to Hawaii. We were able to thank our Criterium crew for keeping the ship on course over the last 7 months.
The trip to Hawaii was interesting - we flew from Vava'u to Nuku'alofa (the capital) where we spent the night on Monday. The King's funeral was the next day so the town was busy getting ready for that. Dignitaries were flying in from around the world - most stayed at the same hotel we did (not many hotels in town) and got to share the dining room with them for dinner and breakfast. On Tuesday we walked up to the palace and watched part of the funeral procession. The Kingdom of Tonga will mourn for 30 days - they used to mourn for a year! We left on Tuesday for Kona, Hawaii with stops in Fiji, Christmas Island and Honolulu. Needless to say we were extremely overwhelmed with crowds in the Honolulu airport! We arrived in Kona on Tuesday (Wednesday Tonga time) and were pleasantly surprised with very nice accomodations overlooking the ocean. The hot showers with good pressure were a very pleasant treat. We did a lot of shopping on Wednesday at Walmart, Border's Books, and marine & auto stores looking for all those things we can't get here. The consumerism was again overwhelming after spending time in the south Pacific islands - too many choices! However, the choice of what to have at Starbucks was easy and yummy! The Criterium crew arrived on Thursday - after a welcome meeting with an Hawaii trivia game we all enjoyed dinner at the restaurant on site - unfortunately no green flash at sunset. We enjoyed a Luau on Friday and a drive around the island on Saturday. Saturday night we ended up at the volcano to watch the lava flowing into the ocean - an amazing sight! The drive back was long and dark - there is sure a lot of nothing on the southern end of island. We celebrated Amy's birthday on Sunday morning before heading back to Tonga. The trip back was again long - Honolulu, Samoa (to refuel because of strong headwinds), Nuku'alofa (overnight again) and then back to Vava'u and Esprit. It was like Christmas as we unpacked the West Marine order we had shipped to us at the hotel in Hawaii. It is definitely great to have a barbecue again! We've discovered that Esprit does not like us to leave her alone for too long - several things decided to "break" while we were gone, but Chay has slowly been troubleshooting and repairing them. The biggee was the generator because we rely on that to charge the batteries and the refrigeration! Jamie has been enjoying playing with the many kids that are here now - all the boats we have been with along the way are pulling in to Tonga now to get ready for the jump to New Zealand. He especially enjoys his time with the Lawur and O'hana Kai boys. There is a hotel here that lets cruisers use their pool so the kids have been enjoying that in the afternoons after school is done. The water here in the harbor is not the greatest to swim in. As a matter of fact, he is enjoying a birthday party at the pool as we write for twin girls on Blue Marlin who turned 7 today. So, we've fueled up, done laundry, gotten wonderful baked goods at the local bakeries (one is Austrian and has typical Austrian goodies, the other has great bagels - fresh out of the oven!), and gotten Esprit ready to do some more anchorage cruising. We will head out on Tuesday. The nice thing is there are several anchorages to enjoy all within a few miles of each other - we're anxious to see the "blue lagoon", the whales, and hopefully dive the wreck "Clan McWilliam"! Until next week...
October 15, 2006
We are still enjoying the Vava'u Group of Tonga and its many anchorages. It has been a challenge getting in and out of a couple of the anchorages due to coral reefs, but with careful conning on sunny days we managed with no problems. The first anchorage we went to was "16" - the Moorings charter company has numbered all the anchorages and published a nice laminated chart showing them all. Without this chart and numbering system it would be difficult to talk about where to go as the names of the anchorages are very difficult to pronounce - mostly all vowels. At "16" we enjoyed snorkeling the "Coral Garden" with our friends on Lawur and then Chay dove the outside edge of the reef there with Robert on Lawur. The most stunning thing we saw was bright blue star fish.
Blue Star Fish - common throughout all of our travels
We enjoyed a bonfire on the beach with an almost full moon - very pretty! One day as the weather turned rainy, we were swarmed with boats coming into the anchorage all at once. The charter boats (vs cruisers) were coming in full speed to beat out the cruisers who were approaching a bit more cautiously - had to make sure they got a good spot! We guess you sail a bit differently when it's not your boat. We wanted to experience a Tongan Feast so we moved over to "11" on Saturday morning. The Tongan Feast was excellent - it started out with a small craft fair, then we moved onto the Kava Tent where we enjoyed the music and tasted the Kava. Even Jamie tried the Kava which tastes like muddy water and has a numbing effect on your mouth, similar to Novacaine. We understand that if you drink enough of it your arms and legs will also go numb; none of us found out whether that part was true or not.
Chay & Katie sampling the Kava
They then brought out the feast served on mats woven from palms. All the food was local - fish, pork, lamb, crab, fruits (lots of watermelon here), etc…. and all was served in some sort of natural bowl, such as heart of palm, banana leaves, coconuts, etc. Many of the meats were wrapped in spinach before being baked in the fire pit. We all sat on the ground on woven mats - there were about 20 of us - and ate with our fingers! No utensils here! Fortunately they did bring out a bowl of water at the end so we could wash our very sticky hands.
We took a hike the next day just to see what the island looks like on the interior - very simple jungle with scattered homes. Our next passage to "30" was a bit tricky but we maneuvered through the reefs and anchored safely behind the motu where we had a pasta potluck/bonfire with 5 other family boats - a great way to get new pasta recipes! We explored a cave with a brackish water pool at the bottom of it (the kids and big boys all swam), and took a hike to the other side (a whole 10 minutes) to see what the island looks like on the ocean side. It has very steep limestone cliffs which reminded us of northern California.
Kid boats in their dinghy's after exploring a underground cave with pool
October 23, 2006
The weather was supposed to turn bad so we headed back to Neiafu (the main anchorage) and picked up a mooring ball. We've spent the last few days provisioning, extending our visa, and running various other errands in the rain! The highlight was on Friday when they held the first annual Governor's Cup Regatta - the King and Prince of Tonga were here so this event was put on for them. The Prince watched the race from the Mermaid restaurant and attended the awards festivities. He ate all by himself at a special table - the life of Royalty!? Chay and Jamie raced in the dinghy race in our sailing dinghy - they came in 4th or 5th , but the smiles on their faces showed how much fun they had!
Jamie & Chay approaching the finish line of the dinghy race
Jamie won a copy of the new Jimmy Buffet CD and Chay won two tickets to the movies - they show movies at the hotel here on Thursday and Sunday nights, so we will go tonight. Jamie has been rowing his dinghy around quite a bit - even tried fishing from it today but found rowing and fishing in a head wind was not the greatest. He'll wait to try that again until a calmer day. Chay dove on the SS Clan McWilliam wreck this afternoon and tomorrow we will go whale watching…and hopefully will get to swim with the whales. We plan to start working our way south through the Haapai Group to Tongatapu (where the capital city is) in a week or so and hope to leave for New Zealand, weather permitting, the first week of November to take advantage of the full moon.
We've had fun this last week...We went on the whale watching trip, but unfortunately the whales we saw breaching did not stay still long enough for us to swim with them...since we didn't see much whale activity we asked if we could go to Mariner's Cave. Mariner's Cave is a cave with an underwater entrance where you dive down about 6 feet to enter and then swim another 12 feet or so into the cave. Chay successfully snorkel/dove it, but Jamie had his wet suit on and was too buoyant to get deep enough to enter; Katie chickened out. Jamie immediately asked if we could scuba dive it, which we did a few days later. We also went to Swallow's Cave where the whale boat took us right in (it just barely fit) - we swam and dove off the boat and got to see all the swallows' nests. In addition to the water activities, we got to meet some folks vacationing from New Zealand - it's always fun to meet new people. So far all of the New Zealanders and Australians that we've met have given us their personal information and have told us to look them up if we are ever in their area! Chay & Jamie scuba dove Mariner's Cave while Katie drove the boat in circles just off the cave entrance (too deep to anchor). Jamie was ecstatic after that dive and really wants to come back next year so all 3 of us can dive it. It was a bit tricky because they had to get suited up on Esprit and then climb down the ladder while the boat was still moving, and then swim to entrance. It was even trickier picking them up after the dive - Katie had to steer right toward them, but not run over them. It was a great practice for Katie and she was much more relaxed when it was over than she was before the adventure.
Diving Mariner's Cave - Tonga
The next day we did a family scuba dive along the reef in the anchorage where we anchored to stay protected from the winds (they have been blowing 20 knots or so for several days) - it was really fun! The next day we came back into the main harbor and picked up a mooring - it was very windy/gusty and took many attempts to successfully get the mooring line. Fortunately another cruiser was kind enough to assist from his dinghy. Unfortunately, we (Katie)lost the pole we use to pick up the mooring line! We did another Tongan Feast last night with our friends on Lawur and Aurora - this time the local school children performed with dancing and singing. They even got Chay up dancing! The other cruisers were amazed at Chay's dancing feet! It was a treat to see the kids perform. Jamie had a sleep-over on Lawur last night as we will soon be going separate paths and won't see them again until we get to New Zealand. We are hoping our good friends on Hawkeye will catch up with us in time to make the passage to NZ with us - we haven't seen them since August! So many hello's and goodbye's in the cruising community makes it hard sometimes! That's all for now as we continue the boat chores...oil changes...cleaning bathrooms and grey water tanks...repairing the generator water pump...and trouble shooting the inverter which went on the blink this morning...a hike on the island today will be nice (hope the rain quits)...
Chay, Katie, & Jamie on board Esprit in Va'vau Tonga
October 21, 2006
Happy Halloween! We are anchored in the Haapai Group, which is the middle group of islands in the Kingdom of Tonga. The anchorage is in a beautiful setting - islands and reefs scattered about. There are even two volcanos off in the distance - one is a perfect, traditional, "cone volcano". Fortunately they are dormant right now. We had a nice 10 hour sail down from the Vavau Group - the first time we've sailed into the wind (instead of the wind behind us) in a long time! The first anchorage we stopped at was Haano Island where we hiked on the island looking for the flying foxes (bats) and explored the windward side of the island as well where the rock formations looked like volcanic coral, if there is such a thing. The towns are gated to keep the animals from wandering away from the town. We moved on after two nights to Haafeva, where we are now. We have to be careful as we navigate through this group of island as there are lots of reefs which are only identifiable by water color variations and the breakers on them. They are on the charts, but the charts are off by 0.3 miles! We plan to snorkel/dive this afternoon and tonight we will celebrate Halloween with the family on the boat Diva (who we are buddy boating with), Quest, and Seeker. The family on Diva is from Brazil and there are 3 boys around Jamie's age. We first met them in the Tuamotus. Jamie has been making decorations for Halloween, and tonight the boys will go trick or treating in the dinghy - too bad there aren't more boats.
Getting ready to go trick or treating in the dinghy - yes there's a mummy in the dinghy!
November 6, 2006
After filling our diesel tanks, we left Tonga yesterday and are underway to New Zealand. We should get in on or about Monday 11/13 if weather cooperates. So far we have had about 20 knots of wind and slightly lumpy seas, but things are settling down now. We will email again when we make landfall in Opua, New Zealand. I'll keep this short as we need our radio time to bring in our weather reports.
November 10, 2006
Just a quickie to say we only have 428 miles to go to New Zealand - its been a bumpy ride most of the way and the temperature has dropped to the mid-60's- brrrrr! We are bundled up and staying warm. The seas are supposed to calm down today and the winds lighten up (they were 25 knots for a few days). Looks like we'll be motoring the next day or so and then sail into Opua on Tuesday morning. The calmer seas will be welcomed - especially by Chay who has been a bit under the weather (bronchitis and sea sick). But we are all hanging in there. Ready to be in New Zealand....
November 20, 2006
Happy Thanksgiving! Greetings from New Zealand where, as the weatherman says, it's mainly fine! After a rough 7-1/2 day voyage we made landfall on Monday 11/13 at 11pm. Except for about 36 hours of "calm" in the middle of the high we had the most boisterous trip yet - 20-30 knots of wind on the nose, 15 foots seas, and short choppy seas that Esprit liked to "fly" off of and go "kaboom"! As you know, Chay was sick most of the trip, but did take his night watches. Katie gained confidence that she could indeed handle the sail changes, etc. without having to wake Chay up. Because it was so rough, Jamie couldn't do much but lay around to avoid getting sea sick - he was pretty bored. But, we survived and are that much stronger for it! New Zealand is absolutely beautiful! And the people are very friendly and helpful. We stayed in Opua for a week getting rested up, cleaning up the boat (drying it out after taking lots of green water over the deck), and visiting with our friends from Lawur, Diva, and Ohanakai, as well as making new friends. Jamie attended the local school for 3 days and really enjoyed it - he said the kids were really nice.
Jamie at Opua School with Sebastian (Lawur) & Tristan (Ohana Kai)
We took the ferry to Russell (just across the bay) with our friends on Diva and walked around the town which dates to the late 1800's and is very, very quaint. It is an old whaling town and was once the capital of New Zealand. The weather has been cold, grey and drizzly for the last week, but today it has cleared and the winds have calmed so at the time of this writing we are underway once again to Gulf Harbour Marina (about 20 miles north of Auckland) where we will keep Esprit for the next few months. It was very sad to say goodbye to friends that we know we will not see for a very long time....When we get in tomorrow we will have to go shopping in hunt for a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner...Jamie is getting excited about the holidays and is planning how we will decorate Esprit!
Christmas in New Zealand 2006
The last we wrote we were getting ready for Christmas in New Zealand….Both Chay’s & Katie’s Moms came to visit for the holidays as well as Chay’s sister, niece & nephew. We spent Christmas on the boat (and at the hotel nearby where our guests were staying) and then headed south to Rotorua where we enjoyed a week of playing tourist and visiting with family. Christmas in New Zealand was definitely different, but one we will always remember.
Christmas dinner with our family at the hotel they were staying at (we made the entire turkey dinner on the boat!)
Grandma McWilliam, Chay, & Jamie fishing in Rotorua, New Zealand
January - June 2007
Early January found us heading back to Boulder City to take care of our business and replenish the cruising kitty – or at least Esprit’s maintenance/repair kitty! We quickly fell back into the craziness of life on land. Jamie finished up his Calvert 4th grade program in February, just in time to enjoy a wonderful “holiday” with our good friends on Nueva Vida. We picked them up in Newport Beach (they are working their way home to Canada) for a crazy adventure that took us to Big Bear, Hoover Dam, and the Las Vegas Strip. Our office manager Amy (our youngest daughter) gave her notice shortly after we returned home – after almost 6 years of working for us she made the big decision to pursue her life long dream of a career with Metro police department! Katie has been working double duty with the business & home schooling Jamie with a new curriculum for 5th grade – we switched to Seton (a Catholic home study program). The new program is a big change and much more rigorous than Calvert was – both teacher and student are adjusting well (we think!). Chay has been very busy doing inspections and training two new engineers – in addition to joining Katie in marketing endeavors. The four months really flew by as we traveled the country (and Canada) with Jamie so that he could compete in karate tournaments – we are waiting with baited breadth for the final standings to post for Nevada State Champion! He has worked extremely hard both in his competition and regular training – he will test for black belt on June 18th. The tournaments are tiring, but fun – we meet lots of great people and Jamie makes friends with his competitors from around the country. We flew back to New Zealand on May 6th to check on Esprit and do some traveling in the motor home we rented. Esprit is out on the hard getting a new bottom, new varnish, and new ports. Once she is back in the water, the riggers will re-rig her with her new rigging. In addition to this work, Chay has taken apart the engine and sent the head out for repair (she still burns oil?!) Needless to say, unfortunately we won’t be enjoying this cruising season, but hope to head north again next year (2008). We will enjoy the next 3 weeks of land cruising the south island in the motor home – Jamie just loves the motor home!
Esprit on the hard in Gulf Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand
Jamie in the motorhome next to our New Zealand car
To Bluff & Back!! Since we last wrote we have had a great adventure cruising New Zealand by land in a Maui campervan (motorhome). We spent 3 weeks touring the north and south islands – a big hurrah to Chay who did all the driving because Katie didn’t want to try shifting a diesel truck with her left hand. As it turns out the gear shifting was a bug in Chay’s bonnet – it liked to slip into reverse when it wanted instead of second! Jamie loved life in the motorhome – especially checking out almost all of the Top10 Holiday Parks in New Zealand – he particularly liked the ones with jumping balloons or trampolines.
Jamie enjoying the "bouncing" bubble at the camper park
We on the other hand liked the well maintained/clean facilities which all but one or two were. Our first stop was Lake Taupo where we enjoyed the hot pools and New Zealand Pizza Hut (a bit different than ours), as well as the McDonalds with a World War II DC3 airplane to dine in!
WWII DC3 airplane at McDonalds
We moved on to the Napier/Hastings region where we enjoyed the Art Deco architecture and the tour of the Church Road Vineyard and winery, which was owned by the McWilliam Winery company (Australian) for several years! Quickly we continued our trek south as the south end of the south island was our main destination and we had many kilometers ahead of us. We visited Wellington where we walked the town, visited Parliament while in session (no different than our house or senate when in session) and took the cable car up the hill for a great view of the harbor. Wellington is a very “government” town. After purchasing seasickness pills, we took the Ferry across the Cook Strait to Picton on the south island – the crossing was calm and we watched a movie in the ferry cinema for most of the trip. Our first stop on the south island was Kaikura – known for being the home of many whales. We opted not to take a whale watching trip (we knew they were most likely heading north to Tonga where its warm) but walked around the very touristy seaside town. We attended church on Sunday morning before continuing south to Christchurch where we visited the historical museum and walked the beautiful gardens in addition to touring the International Antarctic Center a very interactive museum which let us experience an antartic gale and included a ride on a Hagglund Machine which is the mode of transport in the Antarctic (it is the actual jumping off base for New Zealand, USA, and Italy’s exploration of Antarctica).
Chay & Jamie at the International Antarctic Center
We continued down the east coast to Dunedin where we toured the Cadbury chocolate factory (yummmyyy!!) and took the Taieri Gorge train trip which was a fun and beautiful trip in vintage 1920 train cars!
Taieri Gorge train
Before heading to Invercargill we visited the Larnach Castle – a gorgeous mansion overlooking the well protected Dunedin harbour. The countryside from Christchurch to Dunedin is just gorgeous and the towns along the way charming. This was our favourite part of New Zealand.
Typical Scenery of South Island New Zealand
Next stop – Invercargill and Bluff – the southernmost points on the south island (47 degrees 30 minutes south). There we enjoyed the famous Bluff oysters and seeing the motorbikes actually built and used by Burt Munro of “The Worlds Fastest Indian” fame (a great movie if you haven’t seen it).
Chay & Jamie at Invarcargill - Land's End
Chay & Jamie and the World's Fastest Indian
Now it was time to head north along the wet, oops I mean west, coast to Te Anau where we stopped and took a coach/cruise of Milford Sound (giving Chay a well deserved break from driving) which is actually a fjord (glacier cut rather than river cut as a Sound is). It was a chilly, drizzly day but it was an interesting tour. Fjords weren’t enough cold for us so we journeyed northward to Franz Joseph Glacier via Queenstown (where we made a quick stop to take the gondola ride up the mountain and ride the luge which unfortunately was closed due to wind). We took a guided tour/hike up the terminal/leading edge of the glacier – way cool! (no pun intended). The glaciers in New Zealand are unusual because they are in a temperate climate!
New Zealand South Island Sheep
Katie, Jamie, & Chay on the glacier
Enough cold for us, time to head north to catch the ferry back to the north island! We stopped in Nelson and Picton along the way – both are typical seaside ports/towns. The crossing back to Wellington was a bit windier than the southern crossing, but not bad. We watched “Wild Hogs” in the ferry cinema – a fun movie. This time we drove back to Auckland via the west coast – the roads are not as easy to drive as those on the south island are. Upon our return to Gulf Harbour Marina we found Esprit looking like she’d never sail again! The engine was completely out, the interior was all covered over in paper and plastic while the ports and combing were being replaced, and the bottom was almost done (just waiting for the right weather/dew point). It looks like she’ll be on the hard for a while, but that’s ok – her bottom will stay nice and clean! As our cruising friend Jim, from S/V Aurora wrote “Sounds like you’ve just about jacked up the mast light and built a new boat underneath!” We managed to squeeze in Pirates of the Caribeaan III and Spiderman 3 in between inventorying the accessible parts of the boat, picking up various pieces and parts that we had out for servicing, putting the storage shed in order, and otherwise getting Esprit ready to leave again for several months. Before leaving we will enjoy a Lebanese dinner at Olga’s house (a wonderful New Zealand lady whom we met in Hawaii and it turns out goes to the Catholic church we go to here in NZ).
Olga & Glenys - our New Zealand friends
Oh, and by the way, the results came in while we were tourning NZ - Jamie Triple Crowned (forms, sparring, and weapons) as 2007 Nevada State Champ in Karate
June - December 2007
After our NZ motorhome adventure we returned back to the states and resumed our Boulder City routine of work, homeschool, karate classes & tournaments, and visiting with family and friends. Jamie earned his 1st degree black belt and started working toward his goal of being in the Top Ten for the World Karate Tournament.