2018 Vanuatu – Mangita and Epi Islands – July 15 to 20

Mangita – Click here for Google Map Link

It was great to be sailing again. We left Efate with a beautiful 15 knot wind on the beam, music playing on our little portable Bose speakers and the occasional dolphin jumping ( which only Denny witnessed). Instead of doing a straight overnite to Epi we decided to stop in on Mangita Island. We arrived in the afternoon and the wind was slowly accelerating so it was nice to drop anchor after a careful search for a spot that had no large coral reef outcrops or ‘Bommies’. Soon after we dropped anchor we saw some locals coming towards us paddling (not rowing but paddling) a 14 foot aluminum boat. Ironic how the traditional mode of water travel on this island had gone from paddling dugout canoes to driving aluminum power boats back to paddling but using the aluminum boats. Is that progress ? The wind was strong and it looked like the paddlers were really struggling so we set out to blow up the dinghy in case they needed to be rescued. By the time we had the dinghy ready to go they had made it to the boat. They greeted us with a ‘Hello brother and sister’ and started dumping field corn, coconuts, grapefruits and cucumbers in the cockpit. It wasn’t a welcome gift, they were asking for a donation, a mere $30 to fund their local student soccer team. Hard to not give some money when your cockpit is littered with local produce. They also volunteered (for a negotiated fee based on the catch) to take Denny for a night dive for some fresh crustaceans for our dinner. We also had to supply the transportation and batteries for their torches. It was a fine feast of a variety of shell fish but we both agreed we would not do it again. The amount of meat obtained was not worth the effort of killing these beautiful colorful creatures, most of which had been speared by a spear gun.

What’s for dinner??

We spent an extra day here but had no luck getting  to shore because of the gusty wind and the reef surrounding the beach. It was time to sail onward to Epi in search for the elusive Dugong or Sea Cows. We had a little trouble pulling up the anchor as a part on the windlass suddenly broke. The workaround until we can get the extra part requires me to go down below and keep tension on the chain while Denny uses the windlass. I can tell you it isn’t much fun when there is 200 feet of chain out. A little nerving for Denny too when the anchor is free and he has to make a mad dash back to the cockpit to keep the boat from drifting to shore.

Epi – Click here for Google Map link

The sail to Epi was pretty uneventful, a wonderful 15 knot breeze on the rear quarter.  The anchorage in Epi was a large open bay so it had lots of swell and roll. It was bad enough that we had to throw out a stern anchor to keep us from being a beam to the waves and thus rolling with every wave. Three days in Epi but and no Dugong but lots of turtles. Every local that we talked to gave us a different location as to where we may find the elusive sea creature. But we did enjoy finally being immersed into somewhat more of the traditional way of life. People used dugout canoes and lived in the simple thatched huts and everyone had a garden, chickens and an occasional cow. They fished with nets and hook and line but it seemed the fish were scarce. Despite the day to day existence it seemed like everyone had cellphones and there seemed to be cell phone towers everywhere. There were also quite a few large trucks for the few miles of road. Walking was not a favorite past time as truck cabs were filled with paying passengers going short distances. There was a Medical Health centre here but only staffed by nurses that made the decision whether you needed to be helicoptered out to Port Vila. There were signs warning people about Malaria and everyone had been given a mosquito tent for sleeping but we were told it isn’t an issue until the rainy season when there is a lot of standing water.

Our next stop would be a day sail to the Maskelyn Islands.

 

 

Some locals sailed their dugouts

 

Hand tools, coconut trees and local knowledge and you have a home!

A good day for washing. Traditional ‘Island’ dress!

2018 Vanuatu – Efate Island – June 19 to July 14

Click here for Google Map Link for Efate – Port Vila

Click here for Google Map link to Efate – Esema Bay

Port Vila was home for Landfall for almost a month. Shortly after arriving in Port Vila Denny had to fly back to Minneapolis to attend his mothers funeral. We basically grabbed a mooring, made some flight arrangements and the next morning he was on a grueling 51 hour flight which included a couple layovers.  We find it hard being so far from home when things happen so we do our best to get back just as soon as we can.   Alzheimer’s had taken her years ago and this was the final chapter.  She was the easiest going person and was always supportive even in doing something as bizarre as sailing around the world.  She will be truly missed.

I stayed behind as we weren’t quite comfortable about leaving the boat unattended. It was a great mooring!

Landfall is somewhere there in the field of boats

So for my two weeks alone I did the usual passage clean up which consisted of cleaning the build up of salt inside and outside the boat. It wasn’t all work. I did explore Port Vila and enjoyed a few nights out with people we had previously met in Whangarei. My favorite was probably the Stone Grill restaurant where a hunk of beef was served on a lava stone heated to 400C and I basically cooked my own strips of meat while eating it. Vanuatu beef is superb!

During my walkabouts in Port Vila I noticed that a lot of vehicles driving around the main street were flying flags of different countries such as Germany, Brazil and France. I came to the realization that it was the flags of countries playing in the World Soccer games. The people in Vanuatu were huge soccer fans and would watch the games on a big screen in the open air. The hollering and screaming could be heard on the boat at ungodly hours as they watched the games streaming live until 4 am in the morning.

Denny was back after a whirlwind two week trip and we prepared for our cruising around Vanuatu.

First stop, the markets for provisioning.

 

 

We both love the local markets as it is a way to learn about local customs and foods. The vegetables of the day included eggplant, bock choy, cucumbers, green beans and variety of herbs. And then there were pineapples, mandarins, raspberries, bananas and pamplemousse (pomelo grapefruit).   The market provided an epiphany of colors and the vendors, mostly the “Mamas”, as they are called here in Vanuatu, were all nicely dressed in their “Island dresses”.

 

 

We enjoyed a couple of meals at the market and for $4.50 US we got a plateful of meat, veggies and rice plus some entertaining conversation with the “Chef”. Not upscale eating but definitely local cuisine at it’s finest.

Flying her soccer team colors on her head. Will France win? Great company, great food.

Can’t figure out what the vegetable of the day is??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before departing Efate we anchored in Esema Bay for some quiet, relaxing time. It turned out to be NOT so quiet with all the local boats roaring by. But early in the morning the huge turtles would make an appearance before the hustle and bustle began.

On the other side of the bay a beautiful 150 feet yacht “Blue Gold” was beached on the reef when cyclone “Pam” passed by Vanuatu, March of 2015. Denny of course had to climb on board and he found everything as it was when it dragged onto the reef. There were clothes, hand held VHF radios, reading glasses and a galley full of stuff. It was as if it had just happened yesterday.  Denny found it  kind of eerie.  Shortly after he climbed on board he was joined by a local guide who was  probably there to insure that things remained untouched. Upon doing some research I found out that the nearby villages of Sunae and Moso had written to the Government to have the yacht removed. Apparently the removal of the shipwreck  is the responsibility of the owner who was arrested in Switzerland, brought to Netherlands for trial and was convicted on bankruptcy fraud. An on going saga with not much hope for a timely resolution.

 

 

We are now Grandpa and Grandma!!!

Rhett was born on April 22 at 11:00. Soon after being born he was flown to Sioux Falls SD and admitted into the NICU because of breathing complications. Barb and I left Landfall in Whangarei New Zealand, at Riverside Marina, in the care of dear friends, and flew back to the US. After week or so Rhett went home and we got to enjoy some time with him before flying back to Landfall.

He is less then a week old in this picture

The proud papa

The happy new mom

Mom can’t wait to get home.

Auntie Becky

Grandma is in her glory

He will hate this one when he gets older

See he is excited to get a postcard from Grandpa and Grandma. He is already in a sailing outfit!

It is hard sometimes being so far away.  We miss people so much when we are out here and know we are missing so much.  It is a hard thing to balance.  People is really what life is all about!

New Zealand 2018

We flew back to NZ and  arrived January 1st. It was good to celebrate New Year’s Day in our home on Landfall. We worked hard to get the boat back in the water and to clean out a storage container that we had in Dockland 5 that was full of stuff that had to go back on the boat. Although we love NZ it was time for us to keep moving west with a few stops along the way. But first we had a few family visits planned.

Our first visit was from Adrianna, Barb’s niece and her 2 friends. What was supposed to be a 2-night visit to include a leisurely sail, somewhere, turned into a one night  dreary, rainy, windy night stay on Landfall, although we enjoyed the time with our short stay company. Can’t predict the weather too far and unfortunately a small cyclone passed through. 

But they had a great stay with our friends Pete and Mel in their lovely home in Whangarei Heads and then went off chasing the sun and wineries!!

 

VISIT FROM ALLISON, LEANNE AND SEAN

Our second adventure was a visit from Barb’s daughter Allison and niece Leanne and  her partner Sean. All five of us spent an incredible month on Landfall cruising the Hauraki Gulf.

Not much space for 5 people but we survived and had an amazing time. We will let the pictures tell the story.

Start the visit with a look at Volvo Around the World Races

A Closer Look

First night they were treated to the worlds best tasting mussel, the NZ Green Lipped Mussel. Fabulous

We stayed in Waiheke for a couple of days. It’s a place for wineries so we visited a few. We hung out for a couple of days as we had to wait for another mini cyclone to pass us by while we were in a safe anchorage.

 

Fine day for a nap

A visit to the Winery while we are in Waiheke. But first a little honey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the weather settled the kids were anxious to get going so we decided to do a night sail to Mercury Island. None of them had done an overnight passage on a boat so all were excited and all hands on deck. By midnight only Denny was left on watch. I guess the jet lag was still kicking in.

Great Mercury  is a beautiful little island. Not great for anchoring but we managed to grab a buoy and hang out for a couple of days. And oh the fish. We fished and fished and fished some more. We even had a Marlin on the hook but he ran all the line off the reel then jumped out of the water and waved his tail goodbye but not long enough for a pic.

We did a couple of hikes and a day sail to a near by bay so we could hang out on a beautiful beach and do some kayaking.

Another exhausting death march

 

View of our anchorage

Guy time

Me time

 


One last look

We Left Great Mercury with the predictions of BIG wind and headed for Great Barrier. The winds were not bad at all and that was a good thing because our Auto Pilot failed us and from that point on we had to hand steer. Not so bad with 5 hands on board.

We made it to Great Barrier. It was a chance for the young ones to do an overnight track.

From there it was hand steering to the Hauraki Gulf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped and fished on the way.

With some leisure time in between.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then it was a visit to some other Islands along the Hauraki Gulf.

First a stop on the Coramandel Peninsula.

With some more fishing on the way

Until we can’t fish anymore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then on to Rotorua and some nature walks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more Island Rangitoto to see more volcanic stuff. Our dinghy didn’t work so we rowed the kids to shore and left them there to explore while we worked on fixing the problem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last stop Whangarei. Some more hiking, rock climbing and finally a look at some glow worms, a must do!

Can’t capture the picture. But we know the pearly strings are glow worms!

Some people would rather wander around outside than in the caves

Some people just need to climb

It’s worth one last look

A month to remember.

Company has left. The boat is quiet.
Goodbye New Zealand

 

2017 Final Post Update

It has been almost a year since we have posted anything on the blog. After circumnavigating New Zealand, we headed back to North America and the desire to post anything seemed to be put on the backburner. The remaining year seemed to be mainly about spending time with family and friends versus exploring the world on our little sailboat. But it’s time to get moving again so I decided to do a quick update before starting our sailing adventures again. (I will say we considered not continuing with the blogs but at the encouragement of our family and friends we will continue).

Time with our family means that Denny is in the US and I am in Canada. A little time apart is healthy.

Then on to a visit with our friends Eric and Yuki in Japan and we travelled there with our friend Pat. I will let the pictures tell the stories but aside from being grateful for having our personal tour guide friends it was all about the food, Buddhist temples, ancient history, not so ancient history, a look at a different culture and navigating massive transit systems designed to move millions of people.

With the whole Gang

Hiroshima gave us all something to think about

Ancient, amazing architecture

 

 

 

 

Lots and Lots of good food

Funky take out snack packs

 

 

 

 

 

 

And more colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the USA we bought a truck and did a cross country, month long road trip with amazing friends that were able to tolerate and dish back as much as we gave out (we did have a safe word “for some space needed” which was occasionally used).

A visit to the Sea Caves

A visit to the Sea Caves

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First stop Cornucopia, Wisconsin. Home of Landfall

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Enjoying the boat ride to the sea caves

 

 

 

A stop in Thunder Bay to visit more family

Couldn’t miss the Corn Palace

And of course the Badlands

 

Pennsylvania views

 

And dangerous animals

And Roadtrippers shannigans

And cool roads

And odd stops

And Birthday celebrations

 

 

Can’t wait until the next road trip

Completed circumnavigation of NZ – June 7

Click here for Great Barrier Google Map Link

From Tauranga we made one stop in the Great Barrier islands. The anchorages seemed deserted and it was a quiet peaceful place to relax and reflect on what we had accomplished, our dream to circumnavigate New Zealand. We didn’t do much in the Great Barrier except collect a few rock Oysters. We loved it there and plan to return to this beautiful place in the New Year after the bustling holiday season.

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Cleaning oysters in Great Barrier

The dictionary’s definition for ‘circumnavigation’ describe the word as the action or process of sailing or otherwise traveling all the way around something, especially the world; the action of going around or avoiding an obstacle; the action of avoiding something difficult or unpleasant. It sure does define our entire experience.

It is impossible to describe how we felt when we passed the charted way point which signaled our completion of the circumnavigation. Feeling overwhelmed with many different emotions, we quietly reflected on our journey.

We made our way back to Whangarei, pulled the boat out of the water and spent a few weeks with great friends before heading back to North America. Landfall will be on dry dock until the New Year as we make plans for our next  sea voyage. In the mean time we will be visiting with the family and continue our road tripping in Japan and USA.

 

 

 

Translate circumnavigation to

 

NZ North Island – Tauranga June 1 – 4

Click here for Google map link

On our first attempt to leave the South Island, we only made it as far as Cape Campbell. The wind was whistling through the Cook Strait from the direction we were trying to sail so it made it almost impossible for us to make any headway. We finally decided to go back to Purau Bay and wait it out for a better weather window. We were disappointed but it just didn’t make sense to keep beating into the wind making very little headway.

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Landfall docked in Lyttelton marina

When we arrived back in Purau Bay we decided that we needed to get some fuel as we had used quite a bit trying to motor sail into the wind. We searched the harbor not finding the fuel dock so we headed into the marina in Lyttelton where we found out that the only place to get diesel was in Christchurch. Luckily there was a very lovely couple that volunteered to take Denny and our Jerry cans into town for our much needed diesel. We were invited  to spend a night tied to a temporary docking wharf free of charge and given the combination for the use of the hot showers. We walked to center of town and had a great meal at a cozy little restaurant, Freeman’s Dining Room. We had a goodnight’s sleep before going back to Purau Bay to wait for another weather window.

Sunrise welcoming us to the North Island

Sunrise welcoming us to the North Island

DSC_8494After a couple of days we made our second attempt to leave the South Island and this time we successfully made it to Tauranga but we did have some challenges trying to round East Cape with gusts of 40+ knots. We made it into Tauranga Harbor shortly after sunrise, feeling relieved and happy to be back on the North Island. We did have to get some assistance to tie up to the dock in the marina as there was a 6 knot current.

Tauranga Harbour was a large, well kept, modern marina and although it had everything that we needed it wasn’t a place where we, or particularly Denny, would spend a lot of time in. Landfall seemed a little lost among the large boats with no live aboard people only the occasional weekend cruiser.

We spent a couple of nights, long enough to purchase a few provisions and do a day hike to Mount Manganui. It was a 20 minute walk and a 45 minute bus ride to the  quaint little beach town with many little cafes and restaurants and a large outdoor sea water pool. We did the hike to the top of Mount Manganui and got to enjoy the fabulous 360 view. It was all so vastly different from where we had just come from that it took a while for us to acclimate ourselves to the uber touristy surroundings. We enjoyed the bustling town but we were really ready to finish our circumnavigation so as soon as we got a decent weather window we left the marina and headed for our final anchorage destination, Great Barrier.

The view from Mount Managanui

The view from Mount Managanui

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NZ south Island – Purau Bay May 11- 23

 

Click here for Google Map link

As we motored into Purau Bay it appeared that there were quite a few sailboats anchored there but as we came closer we realized that most yachts were on moorings. We did manage to find a fairly well protected anchorage away from the moorings in 10 feet of water. From this anchorage we were able to take the ferry across to Lyttelton and check out the earthquake devastated marina (which is only now being rejuvenated), the small grocery store and lots of quaint little restaurants. Lyttelton is only a short underground tunnel away from Christchurch which is where most people work and shop.

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Purau Bay, view from our boat

Sheffield Pie ShopWhile we were in Purau Bay we decided this was a good place to jump off the boat and do a little road trip. We rented a car in Christchurch and planned a route that would take us coast-to-coast traversing the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass. Our first stop was the Original Sheffield Pie Shop as we have garnered a love for the traditional NZ meat pies. We were not disappointed, bloody good pies!!

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Arthur’s Pass

The road slowly wound its way up into the foothills of the Southern Alps and the scenery changed constantly. But the pictures can better describe that. To make our road trip a little more NZ authentic we did follow a sheep transport truck for a little way as we wound our way up through Arthur’s Pass and little did we know at the time that the stream of water being dumped out of the truck was actually liquefied sheep dung. After a while we started to get an odor in the car and during our first stop we realized the odor was very distinct outside of the car from even 10 feet away. Oh well, no worries, it’s a rental!

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Creative ways to divert water and rock landslides from the road

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Of course we saw sheep sheep sheep

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We managed to do a stroll on one of the many on the southern Alps treks

DSC_8330 DSC_8432 DSC_8428We made it all the way to Greymouth, the largest town on the West Coast and by the time we reached there we were tired, it was getting late and we didn’t feel like driving anymore so we made the decision to spend the night there. We were a little anxious about leaving the boat anchored without us being on board but we checked the weather and there didn’t seem to be anything to worry about for the next 12 hours or so. Noahs ark

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Our room number !!!

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Our hostel room wall decor

We found a great Youth Hostel, Noah’s Ark. Each room was identified by an animal versus a room number. We got the keys for the ‘Pig’ room. Hmmm was it because we hadn’t showered in a week or more, looked a little scruffy or maybe had some sheep dung residue? Whatever… we had a great meal at a nearby restaurant,  took advantage of the hot showers and had a great night’s sleep. We made our way back to Christchurch via the same pass and made a few other pit stops along with another stop at the Sheffield Pie Shop. We made it back on Landfall before nightfall and all was well in Purau Bay.

We were fortunate to be back on the boat as the next evening a weather system passed through bringing with it gusts of 50+ knots of wind. It all happened very quickly. I was standing in the galley and could hear and feel the wind picking up. I suddenly felt the boat moving and at the same time the anchor alarm went off. Dennis was on deck within seconds and quickly started the motor realizing we were dragging the anchor. There was a large Otago University research boat anchored behind us and we were drifting towards it very quickly. Dennis had the boat in full throttle trying to keep Landfall from crashing into the research boat. I radioed the captain to alert him of our predicament and to determine where their anchor was in relation to our anchor. He turned his spotlight on us and advised us that it was safe for us to pull in our anchor. I quickly went on deck with a jacket for Denny as it was cold and raining very hard and he was out there with just pants and t-shirt. I ran forward and proceeded to bring in the anchor and luckily we were in shallow water so it didn’t take much time for the windlass to raise the anchor.  Thanks to Denny’s quick reaction to our predicament, we managed to avoid a collision. We moved to the center of the bay and re-anchored hoping that we could set the anchor despite the driving wind and rain. We put out about an 8 to 1 scope and we were successful in re-anchoring. The weather front only lasted about an hour and we were soon back in calmer weather conditions but we didn’t sleep well that night. All the while we were dealing with avoiding a collision and re-anchoring  we were aware that there was another boat in the same predicament. It was our first experience with the anchor dragging and we were thankful that we were on board when it happened despite the fact that we had a 4 to 1 anchor scope out in only 10 feet of water. It was also the other boats first time dragging anchor and we figured it may have been attributed to some very fine sand in spots. Incidents like that make us more aware of how quickly things can take a turn for the worst when mother nature unleashes it’s fury.

We had to wait a couple more days for a weather to make our way to the North Island and after the anchor dragging incident we were hesitant to get off the boat so that  made the wait seem to go on forever.

NZ south Island – Akaroa May 10

Click here for Google map link

We had to wait for the peak of high tide and motor sail our way out of the long harbor on a falling tide. This meant that we could not leave Dunedin until mid afternoon and it was an overnight and a full day sail to Akaroa. We entered Akaroa on a setting sun and had to anchor in the dark. This required me to stand on the bow with a flashlight so that we could avoid motoring over existing mooring balls.

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Beautiful Akaroa Harbour

DSC_8272We spent a day exploring the touristy little town with it’s French heritage. It was nearing the end of the tourist and the cruise ship season. Although it was a quaint little town, we had the sense that the locals were preparing for ‘down’ time and were a little tired of catering to tourists like ourselves. We had pastries and coffee at a café and made the decision to continue our way up the coast to nearby Lyttelton where we would wait for a weather window for our next puddle jump. size of hector dolphinWe left the next morning, shortly before sunrise and had a spectacularly warm, sunny motor to Purau Bay. Hector dolphins followed us all the way up the coastline, showing off their elegant blend of colours.  Again we felt fortunate to experience a rare gift of nature as Hector’s dolphin is considered the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin.DSC_8304 DSC_0533

NZ south Island – Dunedin May 02 – 09

Click here for Google Map Link

DSC_8133-1We finally had a weather window to leave Steward Island and cross Foveaux Strait, which  is in the middle of the roaring Forties and rarely calm.  With the diminishing effect of distance, Steward Island slowly disappeared. We felt some regret to leave this beautiful, isolated little patch of paradise.

My anxiety about crossing Foveaux Strait was unwarranted and our sail to Dunedin was uneventful. As we approached Dunedin we were again awed by the beautiful coastline.

 

After contacting Harbor control we were given clearance to traverse the 6+  miles of the natural harbor to our destination, the Otago Yacht Club (OYC). I used our Vodafone cell phone service and called the OYC manager, Barry, so that he could help us navigate Landfall to our berth as we arrived shortly after sunset.  DSC_0453He stood on the shore and used a laser pointer to ensure that we approached the entrance without any incident, although we did have to drag the keel through the mud. It was a little intimidating to motor to our designated spot in the yacht club with ‘0’ feet showing on the depth meter.

DSC_0459 It was somewhat of a treat to stay at a marina with hot showers, laundry facilities, access to fresh water, free Wi-Fi and use of the club house that included a large kitchen with  commercial grade appliances. DSC_0474_1I took full advantage and used the slow cooker to make  ‘pulled pork’ and the oven to roast a couple of whole chickens. We shared our oven cooked meals with friends from Dunedin. OYC is probably one of our favorite NZ marinas because of the people and the facilities. We took advantage of the available fresh water and thoroughly cleaned everything including the ‘miles’ of line we used for anchoring in the fiords and Steward island.

Early morning fog

Early morning fog

While in Dunedin we toured and enjoyed the grocery stores, restaurants,  city architecture, museums,  and public transportation. We visited the large Saturday market and came home with some NZ chicken and beef pies and a Venison smoked sausage stick. The ‘pie’ lady gave us a small complementary venison pie as a welcome gift once she heard how we had arrived in Dunedin.

Dunedin Train Station

We packed a picnic lunch and with the help of the great  public transportation, we made our way to Tunnel beach. Access to the coastline required us to tramp down a steep inclined coastline but it was worth it as the scenery was stunning.

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Denny taking a snooze in preparation for our return uphill hike

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Note the hiking trek to the top of knob where we had our picnic.

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After the isolation of Steward Island, it was a nice change to return to urban living!