NZ south Island – Dunedin May 02 – 09

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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!

 

NZ south Island – Stewart Island – North Arm, Port Pegasus April 17

Click here to open Google Map link – Bens Bay

It was an easy departure from Seal Cove. pull up the anchor and go!!

There was only one great weather anchorage in the North Arm of Port Pegasus and didn’t take us very long to get there. It was an anchor and stern line tie as the bay didn’t offer much room for the boat to swing.

With only a day to explore we decided to do a dinghy ride to the old ‘Tin Settlement’. The settlement was the ruin remains of tin mining back in 1889 and included a wharf, post office, general sore and hotel. The tin rush did not last long and the area was then used for a fish refrigerating plant. We visited the old compressor and made it to Belltopper Falls which was well worth it. Our only regret was not having the time to do the ‘Tin Range Track’.

Denny did make out for a quick dinghy fishing trip and it was Blue Cod for supper. Can never have enough of the fresh seafood.

Old Compressor

Old Compressor

Made it to Bell Topper Falls

Made it to Bell Topper Falls

Bell Topper Falls

Bell Topper Falls

 

Layers and layers of clothing. It's a little chilly here

Layers and layers of clothing. It’s a little chilly here

Road trip with Dylan, River Rafting

March 11 – 15

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Last day of the road trip and it was Dylan’s day. After doing the fantasy, high in the sky, volcanic , and below ground adventures the last quest would be in the water, river rafting to be more exact. Dylan booked in for an afternoon of river rafting. I was going to take it easy for the day and let my muscles absorb the pain of the Tongariro Alpine crossing. Dylan managed to negotiate for a free 3 hour mountain bike rental to go with the rafting experience. DSC_8045So the plan was for us to pick up the bike and then for me to relax in the sun until he was done. Well, when we got to the bike rental the lady working there did a fantastic sales job and convinced me to do the bike and river rafting tour.

We were given directions on how to get to the mountain bike trail which meandered along the Tongariro river.DSC_8039 It was a beautiful trail and it gave us a chance to see the river that we would later raft on. Dylan has been mountain biking in Newfoundland so he was off and racing down the track which would be rated as ‘easy’ for any Mountain biker. I had not been on a bike for years and years. After an hour or so I was feeling pretty comfortable and managed to stay on the bike and on the trail with a little exception of a nose dive into the bushes to avoid the tree. Just walked away with a scratch and my pride was a little hurt. But what hurt the most was the leg muscle burn. As if the Alpine crossing wasn’t enough?

We made a stop at the Turangi Trout farm and watched some anglers fishing and catching some pretty impressive trout. It was a catch and release program as they try to rebuild the fish stock.

We made our way back to the River rafting hut and got suited up for our next adventure. I was given an extra little fleece sweater as they were aware of my dislike for cold water. And so we were off! IMG_1802This wasn’t a gentle float down a river it was a hard paddle in rapids with the guide yelling ‘harder, harder, paddle harder, ok we made it again. Thank you folks!!’.

IMG_1784It was 3 hours of intense paddling and some floating with a couple of swim spots. For the swim we were given the option to get off and climb up a rock outcrop to jump into the river. I declined but Dylan did an impressive Topsy Turvy jump into the cold water. DSCN3750We did one more stop where people could jump into the water in a spot where the water was gentle and calm. Three hours of rafting and we arrived safely back. Although being with Dylan made me feel young as he challenged me to do things I may not have ordinarily done all I can say is that every muscle ached after the last 24 hours of hiking, cycling and paddling.IMG_1812

That was the end of a truly exceptional bonding experience with Dylan but it was time for me to head back to the boat. Cyclone ‘Pam’ was heading to NZ after devastating Vanuatu and I wanted to be back to help Denny in case the weather got really bad. Dylan continued his NZ travels. We did hope  to get together for one more road trip before he headed back home to another island, Newfoundland!

Road trip with Dylan, Tongariro Alpine Crossing

March 11 – 15

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Tongariro Elevation chart

Tongariro Elevation chart

DSC_7981My turn and I of course would pick a hike. Tongariro crossing is something I wanted to do since I arrived in New Zealand. It wasn’t something Denny was keen on doing with the trouble he has been having with his knee. The hike is just short of 20 km and it traversed over a glacially carved out valley and quickly started ascending to the highest point called the Red Crater before starting the long descent to the car park.

Mount Doom

Mount Doom

The day started at 6 am and we had to drive to the end point of the hike where we took a 20 minute shuttle bus to the beginning of the track. I did feel like an ant climbing the ant hill as hundreds of people were being dropped of by shuttle buses and we all walked single file through a well groomed and stepped trail. Regardless of the vast number of people it was a stunning hike! We could see Mount Ngauruhoe in the distance and this was the site for Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings!

Let's go to the top Mom

Let’s go to the top Mom

There was a side trip we could take to climb to the top and Dylan was very excited about doing that. I was adamant about not doing it as I knew we still had quite a long hike back to the car and my knees were feeling a little shaky already.

As we approached the

At the top on Red Crater

At the top on Red Crater

Red Crater we could smell the sulphur and saw pockets of steam rising from the ground. I found it invigorating to be walking in an active volcanic area. There had actually been a small eruption in 2012 so there were lots of warnings to be vigilant and to obey all warnings! They did have red flashing lights installed which waned people to quickly exit the track if flashing. The track continued from the red undulating red ridge to brilliant emerald lakes. It was a feast of

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

 

colours but there were long lines for the best picture spots. From there it was all downhill and I felt the stress on the leg muscles. We practically sprinted down the hill to catch the 3:30 shuttle bus and save us another kilometer walk to the car. We arrived at 3:35 and decided to finish the walk versus waiting and hour for the next shuttle. Spectacular hike that I could tick off my ‘to do’ list.

Road trip with Dylan, Hobbiton

March 11 – 15

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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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Cape Brett Hike with Dylan

February 25 – 26

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Posting by Barb:

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

Cape Brett Elevation chart:

Whangamumu-Profile 0

2 km

2 km

3

3 km

 

Our friends Sonke and Tina invited us to go with them on the Cape Brett hike. We, of course said ‘yes!’ and thought no more of it until some of our ‘better educated on NZ hike’ friends, none of whom had done the complete ‘return’ hike, questioned our desire to do this. Well we were committed and Dylan was looking forward to experiencing the great NZ outdoors. The hike was a continuous trek up one incline and then down another. There seemed to be no end. As soon as we finished one grueling climb  and down over the other side we were already looking at our next climb!! Not a sight to behold when Denny’s knees started to give him trouble. We

4 km

4 km

5 km

5 km

won’t lie, it was a tough hike.   The trek traversed through native and  bush, ran along the ridge and through some beautiful coastline terrain. But we did do some research and this is what we found out ” To walk this 16 km undulating track, you should be self-sufficient and will need to have a high degree of fitness and experience. You will need 8 hours of daylight one way to complete the journey to the old lighthouse settlement. You must take plenty of water to drink during the tramp. Carry a water treatment system if you are staying at the Cape Brett hut as the quality of drinking water cannot be guaranteed during summer.”

7 km. We missed the 6 km marker??

8 km

‘ We can do it!’ we said. We did do it but it was no ‘cake walk’. For any of you contemplating this hike it is well worth the beautiful scenery and the option is there to take a water taxi back from the hut but you do need a cell phone to contact them and good weather for a ‘pick up’.

We decided to pack fresh vegetables and noodles for our cookout at the hut.  We each packed 3 litres of water and we brought along 2 bottles of wine for the celebratory drink. The hut was well equipped with everything we needed and the vegetable soup was exactly what we needed for nourishment. But it was the wine that hit the spot!! We found a pack of cards so the four of us had a round of card

9 km

9 km

10 km

10 km

‘golf’. All that we can say about that was that Tina won every single hand. Each time one of us thought we had a good hand she had a better one.

It was a beautiful night so Denny, Dylan and I dragged the mattresses outside and slept under the starts. Our total exhaustion allowed us to just lie there and think of nothing and  enjoy the glitter in the sky. And every now and then we witnessed a falling star.

The next morning our stiff muscles tempted us to take the easy way out and order a water taxi but we didn’t give in.

11 km

11 km

12 km

12 km

Denny and I left 3 hours before every one else and slowly made our way back. The ‘young ones’ passed us half way through the trail. There was nothing more satisfying then walking past the last kilometer marking. Believe me we earned that satisfaction!!

That was just the first of many hikes Dylan would do while in New Zealand.

 

 

13 km

13 km

14 km

14 km

15 km.

15 km. No more markers but many more KM to walk

 

 

Each hike rewarded us with spectacular scenery. Cape Brett was a jewel!! 

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Hikes and Road trip with Dylan

February 15 – 20

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As Landfall was on the ‘hard’ we could not take Dylan sailing so we planned a couple of road trips. Close to Whangarei we decided to take him to the highest point, Mount Mania and then to an underground experience, Abbey Caves.

DSC_7686DSC_7729I had already hiked up Mount Mania but this time we decided to do a sunset hike. We  packed a couple of head lamps for the return trip and a couple of beers to enjoy while the sun was setting. Denny decided that he should not go as DSC_7749he was not sure if his knee would survive the hundreds of steps up and down, approximately 3.5 kms of stairs. There were a few people at the top when  we arrived but we were soon left alone to sit and watch the sunset. It was an incredible experience to be able to have front row seats to a beautiful sunset while sipping on a cold beer and being able to enjoy great conversation without trying to compete with social network pings and tweets.

Just a few minutes from Whangarei is Abbey Caves and Glow worms! So off we went with our headlamps and Denny was all over this hike! I never could understand why a cave would be more appealing than a mountain top with sunsets but that’s something Denny would have to answer to. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a short hike to the mouth of the cave and then with some encouragement from Denny and Dylan I followed them into the cave.  The warning “Only experienced cavers should enter underground, as there are risks from rapidly rising water and roof falls” was enough to dampen my enthusiasm. I did follow the boys for a while but as it got wetter and narrower I was out of there. Denny and Dylan did discover a chamber inside the cave that contained abundant glow worms. What is a glowworm you may ask? Although we see them as a dreamy mass of twinkling lights they are actually larvae (maggots) of a species of fly called a fungus gnat. Maybe not so dreamy!

Dylan had obtained tickets to the yearly Splore festival which included 2 nights of tenting with all day music and festivities. In Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words; defines Splore as ‘Merry making festivities, carousing and frolicking or a good going session.’ Just what Dylan was looking for!015fb71a5ce3ed5dd31c4b6a339c3ebfaa228e798b The festival was to take place in a location  South of Auckland so I decided that I would do a little road trip with Dylan to Auckland, enjoy the city and then drop him off at the festival. We stayed at the International Youth Hostel and had a clean,  sparse room for $70 in the heart of the city and it included free parking. Everything was within walking distance so we did a lot of walking. We enjoyed a fine, large mug of Belgian beer at a nice little pub and we now understand why Belgium has won ‘World Beer Awards’. We drove and walked on a few of the volcanoe craters in the city and took the usual visiting family/friend iconic picture on Mount Eden. It was a great bonding weekend. Loved it!!

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We are a Threesome again

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January 6 – January 20

Denny flew back from Minneapolis with our friend Pat. I love having Pat around as we usually team up and give Dennis a hard time and some well-deserved teasing. IMG_0398Pat stayed in a small B&B place within walking distance as Landfall was going to be torn apart by Dennis who was going to be working on our new engine to replace the transmission (the reason for this will be explained by Denny in his boat projects post). Pat walked to the boat every morning carrying his expensive NZ Flat White coffee. I heard that Starbucks now serve Flat Whites as well so Pat can continue to get his expensive fix!!

The B&B was quaint but I avoided the place after my first visit as the little dog there fell in love with me and insisted on wrapping his little paws around my leg, arms or anything it could hug and then proceeded to show more than just a simple affectionate hug! The dog left a little present for pat in his room thanks to an upset stomach.

The three of us hung out at the boat a lot as Dennis worked on replacing the transmission. Every morning after his walk and coffee Pat would log on the internet and call work.DSC_7573 We told him he could just stay in NZ and work from the boat! The first couple of days of Pat’s visit was a bust as far as working on the engine as Denny came back with some strong Stomach bug or food poisoning. It was bad enough to make Pat and I very  worried. You all know the moldy things that Denny can eat and his stomach accepts it all usually with no ill effects. While Denny was puking his guts out Pat and I were outside having BBQs with our friends Ernst and Inge. We felt bad but Denny didn’t want us near him.

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 We did do a couple of road trips with Pat. The weather while Pat was here was spectacular so we of course visited a couple of the beautiful beaches including Ocean Beach and the white sand beach in Pahia. We took Pat to Opua to say hello to friends but took the scenic, twisty, snaking road to Russell and then the Ferry to Opua. All our visiting friends naturally get a tour of Auckland and get their iconic picture taken on Mount Eden. We stayed a night at John’s house in Auckland. Dennis had met John in Chile. John cooked a great meal on the BBQ while we sat there and enjoyed their beautiful backyard while sipping on some good wine. 

 

 

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We decided to do a little road trip before Pat had to go back to Minneapolis. After 4 hours driving our first stop was Rotorua to take Pat to the Waimangu Thermal walk which we also did with Bill and Ella. DSC_7661 DSC_5416-1This time around some of the thermal pools were dried up so it wasn’t as spectacular but we did do the boat trip at the end which was just a relaxing experience. Well maybe a little boring for Dennis.  The dining escapades in Rotorua were unimpressive. At one point we were sitting in a restaurant for quite some time waiting to get served when a waitress came by and told us that the chef had closed the kitchen for any new orders for the next hour or so. We thought that was an odd thing to do?

From there it was on to Taupo with a stop at McDonalds for ice cream sundaes. Taupo is a touristy little town on the shores of the largest lake in NZ. A few interesting facts about Lake Taupo; largest fresh water lake in the Southern hemisphere, roughly size of Singapore, crater of one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the last 5000 years, 159 meters deep and a surface area of 616 square km. And we did not get one single picture there. I guess it didn’t seem like much after being on Lake Superior.

Our last stop was Auckland Airport where we said good-bye to Pat. I think we may have convinced him to be a regular, yearly visitor but next time it will have to be a little longer than 2 weeks!

 

Cruising with Becky, New Zealand

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Posting by Barb:

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So you all know that based on our previous blog postings that our trip from Fiji to New Zealand with Becky was a ‘cake’ walk. The only thing we worried about was running out of fuel. The only thing Becky worried about was catching that one last fish. Yes, Becky actually wanted more fish. Well 2 days before landing in New Zealand we did catch a Yellow Fin Tuna and it was a Big One!!

Becky spent 3 weeks with us in New Zealand. During the 3 weeks stay we did have to haul boat out at Dockland 5 so we couldn’t go very far. The weather was cool and Becky even thought it was freezing. That was before she arrived back in Minneapolis!

We celebrated Thanksgiving on the boat and managed to find and buy a small turkey to cook. It was so long since we had had turkey and the smell of it roasting in the oven  brought back so many family Christmas / Thanksgiving dinner memories!

 

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We did one road trip that took us all the way to Cap Reinga. We drove the car a little way on the famous Ninety Mile beach and ended up with a flat tire. Has anybody ever tried to change a flat tire on a beach? Well it cant be done. The tide was rising so we had to drive off the beach. We demolished the tire getting back on the access road and then drove the rest of the weekend on a little spare.

 

 

 

 

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We made it to the famous giant Te Paki sand dunes. Dennis, Bill, Ella I had already been there but with Becky we managed to work up the nerve to actually try the sand surfing. It was a long hike to the top and then we flew down the sand waves. Denny gave me a great tip to stay far behind the board so I didn’t get a face full of sand. The challenge was to go downhill without dragging the feet to slow us down but neither one of met that challenge. Doing a ‘sand’ face plant at a fast speed was not that appealing to either one of us.

DSC_5273DSC_5337We did the usual tourist stops which included Cape Reinga and a visit to Tane Mahuta, Lord of the
Forest, New Zealands oldest Kauri tree.

 

 

 

DSC_5300DSC_5318But one of Becky’s favorite stops was visit to Parrot Place. We played and fed the beautiful birds. Becky wanted to figure out a way of smuggling a parrot back to Minneapolis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_5397 One can’t go to New Zealand with at least spending one day in Auckland. Aside from the shopping and dining we did visit the Sky Tower. The view from the top was impressive. If it wasn’t for the cost we may have almost convinced Becky to bungee jump from the top. But all we did instead was sit at a window seat in the café  and occasionally see people flash by screaming as they fell to the bottom, attached to their bungee cords of course.

DSC_5415Naturally we had to do the signature picture from Mount Eden. Every one of our guests visiting us in New Zealand will have their picture taken from this spot, the one of many volcano craters in Auckland.

As the weather in New Zealand started warming up and one could actually sit out on the beach it was time for Becky to head home to the ‘real’ cold.  We loved having Becky on Landfall!DSC_7202

 

 

 

Cruising with Becky, Paradise

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DSC_5052Although it may appear that we spent most of our time with our host family we actually spent a lot of time on our own exploring the beautiful island of Fulaga. The anchoring was ideal with sandy bottom and no coral. We could quickly anchor, go  and  re-anchor. There were lots of beautiful white unspoiled, untouched, pristine, virgin white beaches. There aren’t many places left where we could walk barefoot, sand between our toes and know that we would be alone, well with the exception of the crabs that seemed to be everywhere. DSC_4971Becky did lay out on the beach but was always on the look out for the little critters.

Looks like an elephant head?

Looks like an elephant head?

There were many limestone rock outcrops that made it fun to explore with the dinghy.

Becky and I fished over the side of the boat with bait given to us by the locals. We caught enough fish to throw on the BBQ, Fijian style, the whole fish after Denny gutted it. Ate and enjoyed every morsel. We ( not Denny as he was having problems with his ear) swam the pass and saw some pretty amazing large fish and I even saw a pair of grey sharks. I did scramble into the dinghy pretty fast when I saw those two! Fish, fish, fish!! To think when we set out Becky said fish wasn’t her favourite food, didn’t want to touch fish and wasn’t sure she could snorkel as she was afraid of big fish!!
We anchored off a little island on the lagoon and soon realized it was inhabited by a single man with his 3 dogs. DSC_5164We took the dinghy and went on shore with gifts. He was very appreciative and invited us to his home and wanted to chat for a while. His home was more the traditional Fijian Bure and everything was neat and very tidy. He had 2 large Trevally fish hanging on a tree and he was planning on throwing them in the Lovo to cook it. He had caught the fish from the shoreline using hook and bait. He has lived there for 30 years all by himself, never married and no children. Occasionally his brother would drop by and pick him up and bring him to the village to re-supply. I think he appreciated our company for a little while.

DSC_6995There were times when it got quite hot and Becky really wanted to just sit in a float in the water. So with Denny’s help they tied all the fenders together and she had her float. It was great until a large turtle popped his head up close to where she was and that gave her quite the start!

While Becky enjoyed sunning on the deck, beach or on her float Denny and I swam in our private little swimming hole . The little pool was well protected from any wind by the limestone cliffs. A little opening to the outside of the lagoon allowed the fish to swim in and out so there was always a variety of fish swimming with us. Stunning!Swimming hole

DSC_6888We shared a couple of dinners with Elisabeta and Carlos from S/V Barca Pulita. They were professional photographers and short film producers. They were there to do a short film about the slow evaporation of the traditional Fijian way of life. For Denny’s birthday they gave him a copy of their ‘Sailing Around the World’ book, with some stunning pictures which describes their 80 wonders of the world encountered during their 20 years of sailing. They had scribbled ‘Buon 55 Compleanno Dennis’ which we laughed at and told them that it was actually Denny’s 56th birthday (they had made an appearance at the birthday party and saw the banner). They wanted to make the correction on the book but Denny wanted it left as is!! He really did want to be 55 years old for another year!

On the back cover of Elisabeta and Carlos book they wrote “A sailing boat is a wonderful form of transport that allows the crew to reach far places shile sensing the slow and natural rhythm of sea and wind. One leaves, sails for days that become weeks until a new and unknown land finally breaks the horizon – offering the reward of meetings, discoveries, images and emotions never experienced before”. I think that pretty well describes our experience and we feel so lucky to be able to share that with the people that we love. But to us Landfall is not just a form of transport, it is our home. Fulaga was definitely a paradise of images, discoveries, meetings and emotions.DSC_6975