2019 Cruising Australia with Bill

Before we post anything further we have to clarify that although I do most of the writing, Denny does all of the photo editing and we both are contributors to the pictures as we both love toting our Nikon cameras around. So the blogging work is shared.

And our friend Bob also asked me to insert this picture he took while visiting us and add the comment:

Dennis working hard

Three generations!

getting ready to watch the Junior World Series Hockey Game at my Dad’s

After arriving in Australia we left the boat on the hard at “The Boat Works” and flew to North America to be with family for the Christmas holidays. This means that I am in Ontario, Canada and Denny is somewhere between South Dakota and Minnesota USA, although I did make a detour stop in South Dakota to get a little quality time with our grandson, Rhett. Besides the beautiful family time, which we can’t get enough of after being half a world away, I was fortunate to be able to drive across Canada with my daughter Allison. She was moving from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Port Hardy, Vancouver Island to start a new job. She needed help to move herself, her little car and her little bit of stuff to her new home base. It was quality time with my baby girl in a little car for roughly 3000 km or 1800 miles with stops along the way to reconnect with family and friends. Some of the mountain passes where a little icy and treacherous (Ally drove on those occasions) but otherwise it was pretty good driving conditions considering it was middle of the winter. Allison and I can now both say we have been in Canada from coast to coast.

 

 

CHRISTMAS FAMILY PICTURES ( Sad we didn’t get to see my son Dylan)

 

Bottom painting complete. Should have waited for Bill

2019

Denny arrived in Australia a few days before me. He left from  Minneapolis and I left from Vancouver, British Columbia. Once we were both back on the boat in Southport, Brisbane it was work, work, work. Five days of bottom painting, cleaning and getting Landfall back in the water ready for our friend Bill’s arrival.

What were we thinking!! We should have postponed preparations until Bill was on board, at least for the sanding and bottom painting.

We started provisioning the day Bill arrived so that he could have somewhat of a say on what we had in the pantry. But the only thing he really asked for was hot dogs and coffee.

 

First anchorage and the pelican was patiently waiting for an easy meal

Click here for Google Map Link

We spent one calm day at the Muriel Henchman Park which is also where we spent our first anchorage in Australia with Bob. That was our starting point for our sail with our goal to get to Tasmania.

Seas getting a little rough

Our first few days of heading South had it’s challenges. We caught a fish and after considerable amount of effort trying to get it on board we lost the fish; a wave crashed through our open galley ports dousing everything with sea water and Denny had to spend time fixing our water maker luckily with success! About 60 miles south of Coffs Harbor the winds turned and it was on the nose. We were making very little progress and unable to get a good weather forecast so we decided to turn back and duck in for shelter in Coffs Harbour

Safety in Coffs Harbour

Click here for Google Map Link

Once we were safely berthed in the marina Denny realized that one of the cars on the sail track was broken. He managed to find a marine store and order the part with only 10 minutes left before closing. It was Friday afternoon and the part would be shipped the next day. We enjoyed the marina hot showers, had a little walk through town and found a quaint little Mexican restaurant where we had dinner. The next day Denny and Bill worked  on replacing the sail track “car” and managed to fix that with some challenges. Before setting sail on our Southerly course, we grabbed a tasty burger and a fine pint of beer and we were off again.

“The Boys” working together doing repairs

Click here for Google Map Link

We had some strong northerly winds, found a current that helped us get to Pittwater before the prevailing southerlies hit us again. Pittwater was busy, hot and lots of activities as it was the Australia Day holiday. We spent a couple of days here, grilling hot dogs, relaxing and waiting for a weather window to keep heading South.

Note the fancy bandage on the finger. Not even coffee is making me feel better

From Pittwater we sailed to Port Eden before the Southerlies made us take shelter again. This wasn’t an uneventful passage either. First we caught the monster fish!! Can’t say what it was as we never did see it but when it caught the lure on the first fishing rod it pulled on the line at great speed and I managed to clip off the top of my left hand pointer finger trying to slow or stop the drag. The HUGE tuna or marlin managed to break free but then snagged the lure on the second fishing rod and went straight down taking the lure and all the line with him. Not a fish we wanted on board anyway but it would have been nice to at least get a glimpse of the fish. We put a new lure on the remaining fishing line but forgot to tighten the drag so somewhere along the way we caught a fish that took our remaining line and lure without us even knowing about it.

On a calm day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before arriving in Port Eden we were hit by a thunder and lightening storm like we have never encountered before. Not the usual wind but a lightening show that lasted for hours. With each lightening bolt we were thankful that it didn’t strike the boat. And somewhere between the thundershowers we also had a squall that caught us unaware as we were sailing with the large 160 jib. We managed to sail through it but Denny had to go forward to untangle lines on the roller unit and going forward during a squall is never a good thing.

This little fellow hitched a ride during the storm and hung around for a while

 

 

Click here for Google Map Link

Came across these little beauties

And then found these. Mussels for supper YUM

We waited in Port Eden for 10 days trying to get a weather window to cross the infamous Bass strait and finally get to Tasmania.  But we didn’t just sit on the boat and do nothing. We went on daily walks, had beers at the local pubs, had some Australian pizza and socialized with some of the locals and other cruisers.

Didn’t make it to the Wooden Boat show in Tasmania on time but saw these in Port Eden

 

 

 

 

An afternoon with Doug and brave Cloe

 

We had a nice afternoon with a man who volunteered to take us into town to buy sparkplugs for our dinghy motor that was acting up. His dog, Cloe was a sheep herder but was deathly afraid of cows.

Beautiful ‘ Sally Forth’

We had ‘happies and appies’ with Mark and Sally on their beautiful Nordhaven 52ft power boat “Sally Forth”. They were also trying to go to Tasmania.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the museum where we learned all about Old Tom, the killer whale. He was thought to be the leader of a pod which helped the whalers by herding the baleen whales into the bay. The killer whales were then rewarded with the tongue and lips as their share of the kill. We rented a car and did some day trips in search of the elusive Platypus and Koala. Never did see either one but we did manage to come across a Wombat road kill and stopped to have a look as we were desperate to see some Aussie wildlife.

Alas, NO Platypus

 

In the end Bill had to get a flight to Tasmania as his time was running out and Ella (his wifey) was due to arrive soon. He booked flights from a nearby airport with a final destination to Burnie, Tasmania. On his last evening we had a couple of drinks on another cruising boat. It was priceless to see Bill’s face as the local sailor exclaimed he had never heard of an airport in Burnie and further more would never fly there. Bill grudgingly left the next day but we had agreed that if we ever got a weather window we would try and meet again in Tasmania. As it would have it, Bill inadvertently forgot his wallet on Landfall so a meeting up with them in Tassie was a definite. 

More shopping. Where’s Bill?

Is there a resemblance?

The coast is not that friendly

Goodbye Bill, see you in Tasmania!!

 

2018 New Caledonia

Click here for Google Map link to Orphelinat Bay, Noumea

2018 New Caledonia – cruising with NZ Dockland 5 friends
It was a beautiful 3-day sail from Vanuatu with wind on the beam at 15 to 20 knots. We managed to clean up a little and managed to get some sleep but we were still feeling the effects of our volcano experience so we needed a quick place to rest and recuperate in Bai Du Caranage. We tied the boat to a mooring and felt very comfortable in this well protected bay. We slept for 12 hours or more and loved the 24 hours of rain we got that washed  all the ash, soot and salt off the decks. The boat seemed a little cleaner but the stainless had taken quite a beating from the acid from the volcano and would need some TLC with lots of muscle varnishing.
After 2 days of recuperating we made our way up the long channel to Noumea, the only place to check into New Caladonia. We timed it so that we would arrive there Sunday evening and be ready to check in Monday morning. Immigration is only open 8:00 to 11:00 in the morning so we would have to get started early. The Bai De L’Orphelinat is full of moorings and we anchored in the outskirts were the charts tell you NOT to anchor but everybody seemed to be doing it. It is not a place one would like to anchor for long as it has a lot of swell and the big boats passing by. The local island ferries would send Landfall on a nasty roll and we had to scurry to hang on to anything that would go flying and cause damage to our teak or cause nasty spills, particularly Barbie’s red wine. Early Monday morning we went to shore taking all our vegetables and with the help of marina staff found the location of immigration, customs and bio securities. Unlike other countries, in New Caledonia, the cruisers are required to go to the physical locations versus having officers come to your boat. Always a challenge to figure out the checking in process. Bio security still had to come to the boat and we managed to get a birth in the marina where we opted to stay for a couple of days to continue with the boat cleaning. Easy access to lots of fresh water, shore power, showers, grocery stores and a short walk to the laundromat. We were aware that many of the friends we made while in Dockland 5 were in New Caledonia as well so we were excited about a Dockland 5 reunion. And so it began. First a visit from our friends from Cava and Bravo and later Kindred Spirits. We spent a glorious afternoon recounting our experiences with the help of a bottle wine and a couple of beers. Fortunately, our berth neighbors were tolerant and didn’t mind the raucous talking and laughter.

Love our friends. Great times

Beach fire, friends, wine and cheese and baguettes. Life is good

Once we had re-provisioned we headed to an all weather anchorage and do some ‘buddy’ boating with our good friends.We soon learned that the wind can blow in New Caledonia. For the most part evenings, nights and early mornings were quiet but then gust up to 20 knots during the day. So, this little anchorage offered little wind protection but great protection from the swell. In the evenings we had fun getting together for sundowners. Denny and I spent one afternoon gathering firewood and then had a great evening beach fire with our friends sharing tasty baguettes, French cheese and pates.

House boat??

 

 

We explored the shores surrounding us and us ladies even did a kayak paddle across the bay where we bought some more baguettes. The paddle back was a little nerving as it was against a 25 knot wind but we made it safely with dry baguettes.

 

 

Anchored with friends

Click here for Google Map link to Ilot Amedee

After 10 days of together in Ile Uerie we headed back to Noumea to re-provision and get propane.
Our first anchorage alone after saying goodbye to friends was to Ilot Amadee. The island had the tallest lighthouse of New Caledonia and also promised to be a great place for turtles. We had a little problem rolling in our jib as we approached the Island and it was just something else for Denny to fix.. Luckily we managed to take it down without any incident. Amadee was a beautiful little island that catered to all the tourists arriving there with the tour boat. Two days of being part of the tourist circus was enough.

View of our boat from the light house

Click here for Google Map Link to Ilot Kouare

Ilot Koure offered some beautiful pristine white beaches and great snorkeling. It was later that we learned there had been a fatal Bull shark attack but that had happened over 3 years ago. But considering that in the last 10 years there have been 10 shark attacks of which half were fatalities, the likelihood of coming face to face with the great beasts is unlikely. It’s still always a little unnerving for me getting in the water. Denny drove a piece of coral up into his heel while beaching the dinghy so what little snorkeling the weather permitted, I did alone.

Denny’s pic of the Eel. Better to coming face to face with a shark

Click here for Google Map Link to Ouatio Pass

We did do a day anchor next to the Ouatio reef pass and the clarity of the water there was unbelievable. We could see the details of the sea bottom in 15 feet of water. I snorkeled around at Denny’s encouragement while he followed in the dinghy. Having him near made me feel a little safer and I spotted many colorful fish, turtles, Manta rays and a couple of small, lazy grey sharks.

Click here for Google Map Link for Ilot Ua

We decided that we should visit Ils De Pins with its teal blue waters and beautiful white beaches. It was just a day sail and the winds were promising not to be too strong even if it was on the nose. We made one stop Ilot Ua and we were here with three other boats so there must have been promoted as a good place to go but mainly for the snorkeling. We just made it a one-night stop and it positioned us well for the day sail to Ils De Pins.

Click here for Google Map Link to Kuto Bay, Isle of Pines

Isle de Pines nearby resort

It was a tack, tack, tack sail to Kudo and we made it shortly before nightfall. There were about 20 boats here and it was a well-protected bay with little or no swell which was comfortable after the last few anchorages. We spent 5 days here and did a few hikes and kayak paddles.

Denny did one death march with me to a nearby town that boasted a cute restaurant but it was closed by the time we arrived. We were not looking forward to the return hike in the sweltering heat and we were lucky to get picked up by a couple of local women and a baby driving a well-used little pickup. Conversation was difficult as they spoke little English and I spoke minimum French. During our hike back, Denny had found a channel lock pliers on the side of the road and he offered this tool to the ladies as a thank you. The look on their face was hilarious but they accepted the gift, which, according to Denny was a useful gift!!

Top of PicN’Ga. Souvenir coins left on the cross

I did a hike to the highest peak in Ils De Pins called the PicN’Ga. Denny was still feeling the pain from the coral cut on his heel especially since the previous day hike. The view was astounding and worth the grueling up hill hike. Five days here was enough and we were looking forward to a couple more days with our friends in Cava, especially since they were looking for a weather window back to NZ.

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for Google Map Link to Anse Majic

 

Mooring at Anse Majic

We made it back to Anse Majic and grabbed a mooring and spent a day with Cava. Shortly after our arrival they found a great weather window for NZ so, sadly, we parted ways. Kindred Spirit had already left for Australia and Bravo would follow suit shortly. And that’s cruising life, meeting amazing people but always saying hello – goodbye. We did another great uphill hike and were amazed at the diverse colors and terrain from the rest of the anchorages in New Caledonia, mainly the red clay deposits due to the extensive mining in the area. We also found a really neat, hidden little paradise that offered a fresh water shower, although it was a cold one. It was also a great place to do hand laundry. Yes it is living the dream hand washing clothes by hand and cold showers where and if you can get one!

Click here for Google Map Link to Baie Du Carenage

Always trying to figure out how things work!

We continued our exploration of the Bay of Prony and anchored in the Baie De Carenage. We found some new hikes here and taking advise from other cruisers, we took a bucket and small bristle brush to wash off the red clay mud and coloring that accumulated on our footwear. The hike brought us to some beautiful waterfalls and to a unique swimming hole with overhanging rocks and pristine clear water that just beckoned us to jump in. Denny took all his clothes off and went in first and was cheered on by a hiker that appeared out of nowhere. It took some convincing for me to follow him mainly because of the cold water but also some inhibition, of which Denny has none. After all the cold water dips we were told of a nearby natural hot spring and it wasn’t hard to find. A gorgeous little man made concrete pool fed by fresh water and a hot spring. We had the warm pool all to ourselves!

Finally a pool with hot water!!

Our friend Bob was coming to visit us and then sail to Australia so we had head back to Noumea, as that was to be our meeting and starting point for our next adventure with Bob!

 

2018 Vanuatu. Visit from NZ friends Pete and Mel

Click here for Google Map Link – Lakatoro

Lakatoro would have been a nice anchorage but while we were there the weather was nasty. Denny and I had a long dinghy ride to the dock and from there a 3 mile walk to the airport where Pete and Mel would be arriving. We did manage to find a ride and it was a

Burned out hulk of an airport

good thing we did because I wouldn’t believe we were at the airport. It was just a burned out building, open to the elements and no security or gates. There were a couple of people hanging out with their luggage and that was the only evidence that we were in the right place. We waited and waited and waited. Finally Denny found somebody that looked like he was an airline employee and asked about the flight schedule. He informed us that the flight had been cancelled due to thunder and lightening storm in Port Villa. So we headed back to the boat not knowing where Pete and Mel were. We finally got a text that explained they were delayed, and then one saying they were on the way. The wind had worsened so we arranged a water taxi for them as the dinghy ride would have been a wet one. With the wind howling there wasn’t much to do except take a little tour of the nearby village. We decided not to stay in Lakatoro any longer and sailed to the next anchorage that was a little more protected.

Click here for Google Map Link – Crab Bay

Crab Bay was a little challenging to get into as there was coral everywhere. The little hole we anchored in wasn’t very large with minimal swing room, so we put out a second anchor to keep us from swinging. It was still very windy out but we were sheltered and felt no swell. There was a nearby nature reserve with a trail so we decided to do some exploring.

We found another shipwreck on the beach which is always sad to see. We couldn’t find the story about this boat on the internet. One of the planned stops during our friends visit was to do the volcano hike on Ambrym. The hike would take 10 hours through some rough terrain and uphill and it would have to be guided. We decided we would do it in 2 days and hire porters to carry our food, sleeping bags and camera equipment. This would give us more time and energy to enjoy the hike and the volcano. We got a weather window so after 2 days in Crab Bay we set sail for the next Island, Ambrym.

Click here for Google Map link – Ambrym

 

 

 

The link to google map will give you an idea of our less than desirable anchorage and the distance we would have to hike to the Volcano. Google describes Ambrym as one of the most active volcanoes in the New Hebrides and one of five lava lakes in the world. We were all pumped to go. 

We took a hike through the village looking for a guide, along the way we made friends with a village dog or I should say he made friends with us.

Our Buddy Flea

We named him Flea for obvious reasons. He followed us everywhere and was even prepared to jump in the dinghy with us. From the boat we could see him trying to swim towards us and  made it half way before giving up. He then started barking and pacing back and forth on the shore for a long time (Mel’s offering of cookies may have something to do with Flea’s persistence)

 

It was a hot and humid stroll around village and we were starting to second guess our ability to do the walk. We  came across a cozy, little Cava bar where we could celebrate our success. We found somebody who had the experience and knowledge and willing to take us to the volcano Caldera but the weather wasn’t cooperating. There were low lying clouds and it was coming from the wrong direction which would probably hinder our view of the lava lake in the crater once we reached the top. We weren’t willing to do the hike without being able to actually see the volcano. We waited for a day but weather wasn’t improving nor did it look good for the next couple of days. However, it was a  good sail (motor) window to head back South to the main Island, Efate. There were no available flights from Ambrym to the main Island that Pete and Mel could take in order to catch their connection to NZ so we decided to abandon the Ambrym hike. We hope to come back someday and do it. The night before we left we did see some Dugong swim by the boat and on the day we left Pete, who was in charge of fishing, caught us an Albacore Tuna so we were happy with that. The passage back to the main island Efate was an overnight motor but that was better than a beat against prevailing wind.

Clouds hanging over Ambrym

 

 

Click here for Google Map link – Havanna Bay

Back on the main Island we spent the time enjoying food from some nearby restaurants and resorts. Pete and Mel had friends that had a little cottage near where we were anchored so they were able to get off the boat for a little while. I did end up with a very nasty infection from a small cut on my ankle that appeared to be nothing at first. The cut became swollen, red and from there the symptoms worsened and I had fever and chills. It was going to be a hospital emergency stop for me but luckily Pete and Mel’s friends had the proper ointment and antibiotics and by morning I was cured. But it does stress the importance of keeping small cuts clean and having appropriate medication for these instances. The outcome could have been very bad for me if appropriate action wasn’t taken quickly.

We enjoyed our time with our friends and 12 days seemed to go very fast. They were back to NZ and it was time for us to head to New Caledonia with one stop on the way, our last chance to see an active volcano in Tanna.

2018 Vanuatu -Maskelyne – July 20 to 29

Click Here for Google Map Link

Beautiful village on Uliveo near where we were anchored

Our visit to the Maskelyne Islands would have ticked almost all our ‘bucket list’ boxes for our visit to Vanuatu if we had boxes to tick. If it had had a volcano we would have stayed here for the remainder of our visit to Vanuatu.

I will say that there was one distasteful incident which happened on a Catamaran anchored near us. A local that introduced himself as the chief dropped by while we were visiting on their boat and demanded that we pay a fine for snorkeling in Tabu waters. As our host family had told us where to go for snorkeling and hadn’t mentioned any restrictions, we refused to pay the $20 fine. We promptly left the Catamaran not wanting any further discussions with the local. We were informed the next day that he had been an impostor. Although infrequent, there are such incidents that give the village as a whole a bad reputation in the cruising community. I included this story at the beginning as it really was just a little blip to an otherwise beautiful experience and probably our favorite Vanuatu anchorages. And we loved the people.

If ever in Uliveo have Stewart give you a tour of the villages. Great stories and a wonderful personality.

The dugout, main means of transportation by paddle or sail in Uliveo. No cars!

We arrived at Uliveo island by mid afternoon and now had to find our anchorage point. The 2015 cruising guide showed an anchor icon in one bay but the waypoint indicated the anchoring in another bay. Hmmm, which one is correct? A local in a dugout came by our boat and volunteered to show us the pass. We invited him on board and then he proceeded to try to help us but couldn’t say which bay we should anchor in. Our first pick turned out to be a bust as it shallowed up really fast and there was coral everywhere. Stewart, our visiting local suggested that we try the next bay, which is where other visiting boats have anchored. It was a little nerve wrecking getting in as it became shallow quite quickly before it dropped off again.  Stewart had no understanding of how much water our boat draws being used to paddling a dugout most of his life. He gave us no warnings about how shallow it would get, just three feet under the keel at one point, or where we should really anchor.  Part of his reluctance to say anything may be mainly due one of the culture habits that became very apparent to us, Vanuatu people just don’t like to give you ‘bad news’ or ‘negative answers’. They would rather say nothing or tell you what you want to hear. And this has been a recurring theme while visiting Vanuatu and sometimes it got us in trouble.

We did anchor nicely in a very well protected hole. Shortly before arriving, we had caught a pretty large Barracuda and as we had some concerns about Ciguatera poisoning we gave most of the fish to Stewart. Google will tell you that Ciguatera poisoning is caused by consumption of reef fish contaminated with ciguatoxin which originates with certain algae associated with coral reef systems and accumulates up the food chain from small herbivorous fish to large carnivorous fish such as the Barracuda. It has no specific color, odor, taste but the effect of the poisoning can make one feel ill for a long time.  When we asked whether they ate Barracuda the answer was “yes”. When we asked whether Ciguatera was a concern the answer was “sometimes”.  It turned out that the fish was fine and they enjoyed every morsel or so they told us.

Basic but comfortable tourist lodge

There was a small basic resort on the island and there were  some NZ visitors staying there.  As they had not had a taste of a cold beer since their arrival in Uliveo we invited them on board for Happy Hour.  We were also craving some socialization as so far other cruising boats have been scarce.

As we had arrived on a Friday we were quickly invited to the Sunday Presbyterian church service. We arrived at Tom’s house at 10:00 for the 10:30 service. Tom took one look at us and suggested that Denny borrow one of his collared shirts and that I borrow one of his wife Esther’s ‘Island dresses’.

My borrowed Island dress. Covers everything, especially the knees

She came out with 3 and then accompanied me to the eating area hut and watched me try on the dresses. She shook her head to the first, second and third dress and then exclaimed I was ‘Fat, very Fat’!! Her comment took me by surprise and I found it  refreshing that they had no body shame to casually make such a remark  and I exclaimed that life was good. Although I was a little puzzled as by comparison to a lot of the ‘mammas’ I was not so fat?? I realized later that she was probably referring to me as being ‘Tall, very Tall’ and most dresses did not properly cover my knees.  (at least that is what tells herself,  and of coarse I have agree)

The church service had the usual local vibrant optimism and  unabashed singing and at the end of the service they welcomed us to their village, said a prayer for our safe journey and then asked us to lead the exit procession so that we could give a hand shake to all attendees and receive many a  ‘God be with you’ remark. Tom and Esther invited us to share a Sunday meal with their family and it was the first time we ate the local Lap-lap, Vanuatu’s national dish.

Sharing Sunday dinner with Tom and family. Still wearing Island Dress. I was actually enjoying it!

It was made by grating manioc, smothered in coconut cream, wrapped in banana leaves and then cooked in a ground oven of hot stones. It wasn’t Denny’s favorite but the second time we were invited for a Lap-lap meal and chicken was added it was actually pretty ‘tasty’!

Tom’s family sharing a meal on Landfall

We had several meals with Tom’s family and also invited them back to our boat for dinner. I am not sure if the meal was a hit but the cake sure was.

Tom’s sister harvesting the shell meat for the Sunday dinner

Tom invited to go fishing in his brother in-law Philippe’s power boat for a fishing excursion. All we had to do was bring our own fishing lines, lures and supply the gas. They weren’t too impressed with our lures, too BIG! Most of the fishing was done inside the reef and the tuna they were catching were no more than a foot long. Fish was actually scarce and we were told that they used to export 40 large bins of fish per week to the markets in the larger islands.

Fishing with Philip. Lots of rain, no fish

Now they can only fill up about 25 bins and that is slowly diminishing. They were actually contemplating putting a stop to all netting. difficult to do if fish is one of the main income source for the small islands in the Maskelynes. It was a great way to see the outer islands although we hit some very hard rain and wind on our return trip making it a miserable ride home. We didn’t catch any fish with our lures.

No pic of a Dugong but lots of other interesting sea creatures

We did do some snorkeling as there were Dugong here. And I finally saw several Dugong although not with a camera.

We stayed at this anchorage for 10 days so that we could partake in the annual Canoe Race festival. This was a 2 day celebration which included lunch and dinner, watching the local canoe races and even participating in the tourist canoe race, which I won (thanks strong big arms)!

The festival took place on the North side of the island with a beautiful backdrop of the mountains of Malekula and colorful canoes scattered on the beach and ready for the races.

The day was filled with a range of canoe races which included different age groups, ladies and men but never mixed as that was Tabu, and mother daughter races.

The BIG boy canoe race

The SMALL boys getting ready

 

Preparing the Kava. Notice the meat grinder being used

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a Kava making demonstration which was basically peeling the Pepper plant root and grinding it using an old fashioned meat grinder into a small bag which would be submerged in a bucket of water and water squeezed through the bag to seep the drug out of the ground root.

Meat grinder Kava

This process was repeated 3 times and then we were all offered a cup to gulp down. I could feel tongue and lip numbing for about 10 minutes but nothing after that. It was suggested that we drink about 4-5 cups to have the pleasant, happy, relaxing feeling. They named the kava ‘Morning Fresh’ as no matter how much you drank you would wake up morning fresh. We found that hard to believe. First cup was free but after that we had to pay.

Kava ready for drinking

We were good with just a taste as the sloppy, grey dishwater kava drink wasn’t all that appealing.

For one it was ‘hmmmm, maybe’, for the other it was ‘I’ve done it before and love it’ and for Denny it was ‘let’s get this over with!’

It will be a turtle when finished

 

 

There was a sand drawing demonstration which I had also seen at the National museum in Port Vila. We were asked to pick a specific animal, plant bird and then the sand drawer would make the elaborate drawing all in one smooth flow, never lifting his finger until the picture had been completed. Pretty impressive!

As if all the colour of  costumes and surroundings wasn’t enough, they introduced us to their local birds which I had had rare glimpses of and now could look at up close.

She made a fan for me!

 

 

 

We were given a basket weaving demonstration and shown how the coconut leaves were used to make the walls for their huts, fans, carrying baskets used to carry the vegetables gathered from their farms and throwaway plates and garbage collection baskets. They made all this stuff with such ease and it is great knowledge to have considering plastic has now been banned in Vanuatu.

With a little help, doing some of my own weaving. Making the wall for the hut

Bringing in food by dugout. The island is to small so much of the growing is done on the neighboring island.

Lap-lap or Bunia in the making

The ‘Mamas’ gave us a traditional food making demonstration which included Lap-lap and Bunia (which stands for baked solid food and meat). The main difference between the two being the meat which is included in the Bunia.

Food preparation by the Mamas. Note the sea shells in her hands which would be cooked in lemons

The meals that the mamas prepared for us was very tasty. It included a buffet of shell fish marinated in lemon juice, deep fried taro patties, kumara chips, rice, curried fish and grilled fish and we served ourselves using ‘Island paper plates’ (a stack of 2-3 large leaves cupped in your hands to hold great quantities of food).

The roasting pig required constant attention

For the final meal they even roasted a piglet over hot coals. The roasting was well tended by several men that continually fanned the meat with fragrant leaves and one man manually turned the piglet on the spit as required.

 

 

The children were a constant source of entertainment with their beautiful smiles all eager to watch the races and play their simple old fashioned string games. They would come in pairs and show you what symbols they could create with 10 fingers, a long string and little help.

Beautiful Beatie, Tom’s grand daughter

 

The closing ceremonies included Kastom dancing and singing.This required some pretty elaborate face painting and costume preparation all from local materials.

 

 

life here is much simpler but it is changing and the future is not always the brightest.

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!

 

Family time and Road Trip

Living on a sailboat and anchoring and cruising in places where there is no reliable Wifi makes staying in touch with family a challenge. So going back to the USA and Canada  during the Christmas holiday was special as we got to spend some time with our parents and all of our children.

During this trip home, we also did a fabulous road trip with Denny’s daughter Jenny and hubby Tyler, Jenny’s close friend Kathleen and her fiancé, Jeff and our friends Bill and Ella. As the saying goes ‘Go West young man, go West!!’. It was a 3-day road trip to Deadwood, nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It used to be a lawless wild west town started by the Black Hills Gold rush and it harbored many gambling saloons and brothels. It’s the very place where Wild Bill Hicock and Calamity Jane met their demise.

Jenny planned the whole trip and she was a fantastic hostess. On the way we made a stop in Sturgis for lunch and we tried to imagine what the town would look like during the famous yearly bike rally. Deadwood is now just a modern day gambling town with a lot of history. We tried to re-live the history by dressing up in Wild West costumes and acting out our part!

Deadwood

As far as gambling went, we tried our hand at Blackjack and Roulette and Denny and I can say that we didn’t win or loose but we all had loads of fun and laughter. An afternoon was spent playing shuffle board, drinking beer and eating lots of free popcorn which only made us want to drink more beer. We decided to have a shuffle board tournament with some serious competition. Some of us took it more seriously than others! The pictures tell the story!

Denny 1

Playing with the camera instead of shuffle board

Tyler 1

I can drink beer and play at the same time

Ella 1

I am gonna win!

Barb 1

What is Ella doing that I am not!!

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (32 of 175)

What to do. Wipe them out, hit and stick, how fast to push, where to aim????

But the highlight was our visit to Mount Rushmore. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny day. Even the drive there was spectacular with a stop here and there to play in the snow. Bill M Deadwood 2017 (80 of 175)

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (101 of 175)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill M Deadwood 2017 (115 of 175)We were able to wander around the park and museum at leisure without having to jostle through thousands of tourists that normally go there during the summer vacation. We were told that during peak season an average of 10,000 people a day visit the park. Pictures do not capture the enormity and grandeur of the sculpted faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. I tried to the a selfie of the moment with Denny!! Bill M Deadwood 2017 (138 of 175)Bill M Deadwood 2017 (140 of 175)

Bill, please take the pic!!

Bill, please take the pic!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We decided that maybe we could make this an annual Christmas Holiday event and next time we would hope that the rest of our children could be there as well!!

Fiji 2016 – Vuda Marina

17 40.873 S – 177 23.213 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb :

dennys-birthday-2016We have been in Vuda Marina since November 1, Denny’s birthday. We celebrated his birthday at the Sunset bar with our good friends Barbara and Michael from Astarte. The bar must have known it was Denny’s birthday because they had half price pizza. Denny didn’t have a birthday cake as we were en-route to the marina and I didn’t seem to have the ingredients to make a cake (not that I am such a great baker anyway). But Denny did get to savor a pack of Oreo cookies!

We have been sitting here at the marina preparing for our passage to NZ. We finally have the weather window we need (at least we hope so) so we will be leaving as soon as we check out with customs and immigration. Check out scheduled for November 8th. We will do our usual en-route postings. We hope to get to NZ by November 21 and then back to Canada/USA for December.

We will be seeing some of you soon!!dsc_7152

 

Fiji 2016 – Anchorage # 10 – Nukubati

October 10 – 14

16 28.139 S – 179 01.749 E

Link to Google Maps

Posting by Barb:

As we headed to our next destination the wind started to increase and it started to rain. At first we were both excited as we hadn’t seen rain since we started our cruising around Vanua Levu. The decks and everything on deck had layers of salt so a good rain was what we needed. By the time we were near our intended stop it was a torrential rain and we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of the boat. We nearly t-boned a local power boat that suddenly appeared out of nowhere. We had to wait and do circles with a constant eye on the depth until the rain stopped or lessened long enough for us to pull in and anchor. By the time the anchor was finally buried in good mud we were quite drenched but the boat was clean. We arrived near the Nukubati resort on our first anniversary day so we were in a good spot to enjoy a tropical drink at a nice bar. But that would have to wait until tomorrow as Denny felt ‘done in’ after a stressful passage.

dsc_9731The resort was beautiful and we enjoyed a couple of evenings chatting with the owner and some guests. But the staff were all very pre-occupied preparing for the weekend Fijian wedding of the owner’s son. Family were arriving every day and on Sunday the official Fijian wedding would take place with 400 guests invited. On the menu was a pig cooked on the spit and beef. Extra locals had been hired to prepare all the food.

dsc_9726We stayed out of the way and finally managed to put a coat of Teak Oil which was long overdue. Denny had to stand in the dinghy and float along while carefully brushing on the oil. I had to do the portion accessible on the deck, easier but damn hot with the deck radiating heat absorbed by the sun.

We had a visit from the school boat driver and his family. They were amazed at how good our de-salinated water tasted. They would cautiously take a drink expecting salt water. They were amazed at how our salon chairs could be pulled out and turned to a bed and the topper was Coke made by our Soda stream. dsc_6722They liked the taste but we knew it wasn’t something they had before when they proceeded to dip their cookies in their drinks! I made paper airplanes and boats with the kids and they left with extra sheets of paper so that they could show their friends. They left with lots of invitations to come visit their village.

dsc_9732We did a little bit of snorkeling but the coral was dead. I did however see my first close-up look of a turtle. It was feeding below me and it took a little while before he realized I was hovering over him then he disappeared pretty quick. We did a little exploring of the outskirts of the resort. We found some pretty large Mangos which Denny decided to devour. He was sorry he did once he realized he had no way to clean his sticky hands until we reached the salt water edge.

It was a busy anchorage with lots of locals going to and from the resort, probably as a result of all the wedding preparations, with the constant wave or ‘Bulah’ yell. We decided it was time for a quiet reef anchorage but we would return to do a visit of the nearby village Nasea as we promised we would. On a final note we would like to say that despite the busy, special family wedding celebrations, the Bourke family, owners of the resort, made us feel very welcome.

 

Road trip with Dylan, Hobbiton

March 11 – 15

35 44.393S 174 20.339E

https://maps.google.com/maps/place/@35.44393,-174.20339,12z

Posting by Barb:

Dylan and I wanted to do a road trip  to see some of New Zealand and spend some quality time together. Dennis decided to stay behind on Landfall as he had lots of boat projects to work on and he wanted Dylan and I to just have some time to ourselves. We planned our 4 day trip and we each picked places we  we both wanted to see and places we individually wanted to see.

DSC_7832DSC_7919First stop would be Hobbiton!! Yes, it’s a tourist trap but both Dylan and I were huge Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fans. Actually our love for the story started long before the movie was made when we read the J.R.R. Tolkien’s book the Hobbit. We probably both immersed ourselves in the fantasy at about the same age, many years ago when I was 16 and not so many years ago when Dylan was 14 or so. It would be a Mcisaac family tradition to see the Lord of the Ring movies when it premiered every Christmas. This last Christmas I watched the last 3D Hobbit movie with our good friends Tina and Sonke. Never would have dreamed that I would actually be here in NZ for a premier showing!

DSC_7824DSC_7881When we got there we were greeted by Gandalf himself. We, that is Dylan, I and 20 or so other people, followed the tour guide, along the Shire. When Peter Jackson began to look for suitable locations for film series he first saw the Alexander Farm during an aerial search. Peter Jackson nailed it because the Shire was everything I imagined when reading the book.

 

 

 

DSC_7957DSC_7920Our tour ended at the Green Dragon where we enjoyed a good craft beer and a traditional New Zealand pie. Everyone visiting in NZ must have pie!!

After visiting Hobbiton,  it made us want to go back and have a marathon day of Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies. Get the popcorn ready Denny, I know you can’t wait for that day to come!

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