Saturday, December 31, 2016

So hot you can fry an egg...

Cooking an egg in the midday sun
It's so hot here...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Winning the Lottery in the Solomons

There is a study that shows that happiness levels for lottery winners decline after they win. Part of the reason is that they start getting bombarded with requests for money from relatives, friends, charitable causes--everyone. They can't give money to everyone and having to saying 'no' creates a feeling of guilt.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A Solomons Christmas

A hand-carved canoe Conrad bought with some of his
Christmas money

This Christmas marks the end of our fourth year on the boat. It is also the first Christmas where the boys didn't get any big, commercial gifts. No Lego or electronic devices. Instead, they got some local wood carvings, shorts that I sewed them, stocking stuffers of candy and small toys that Matt has had forever, and extra time for iPad games. They also got Christmas money from their grandparents and uncle.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Holidays in Roderick Bay

Boat kids watching the dancing

After the stress of being in Honiara, we were ready to be somewhere peaceful for Christmas. We had heard about Roderick Bay from other cruisers and our friend Titus in Ndendo. Although the other islands in the Florida Island group have a reputation for thefts and for charging to anchor, John Roka has made an effort to keep Roderick Bay yacht-friendly. He has free moorings and canoes to patrol the anchorage at night.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Honiara Hell

Honiara, while not as bad as some people had reported, was not a relaxing place. When we arrived in Point Cruz, we had to med-moor (for the first time) to the wall in very tight quarters. Fortunately, our friends on Rehua had arrived earlier that day and Seathan was a big help in getting us situated. Though the population of Honiara is only around 64,000, the city itself was overwhelming in contrast to the small villages we had been frequenting for the last six weeks. There were hordes of people, cars everywhere, and smells of copra and other industry.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Lots of villages. No internet.

Port Mary, Santa Ana Island. Our boat became the playground
for the local kids, who were on holiday.
Since we left Luganville almost two months ago, we have been in some of the most remote places that we have cruised to date: The Banks and Torres Islands (Vanuatu) and The Reef Islands (Solomons).  The internet has been even scarcer than usual and, more often than not, nonexistent.  Hence, our failure to update the blog for over two months.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Millenium Cave and normal life

The anchorage at Loltang Bay, Pentecost

A few weeks ago, I felt like I was done with cruising. It was hotter than hell, our usual breeze had deserted us, and swarms of flies had descended upon us. Tempers were short. My rope burns were still oozing and I had gotten a secondary skin infection that wouldn't go away. It was truly miserable.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Happy Vanuatu

Mt. Marum's lava lake
Before we came to Vanuatu, a few people that had been here before would say something along the lines of, "They're very poor--they have nothing." From a Western perspective, that may be technically true. There is very little electricity or plumbing. Stores are few and far between. But from what we have seen, a typical village in Vanuatu seems to want for nothing that really matters.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Perry Versus The Volcano

We had heard so much about getting an up-close--and seemingly dangerously close--view of lava spewing out of Mt. Yasur that it seemed impossible that the experience could live up to the hype. It matched the hype and then some. In fact, our evening at the volcano on Tanna has surmounted our list of most memorable experiences so far in almost four years aboard.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rethinking chili as a passage dinner (Fiji to Vanuatu)

Mystery Island, pre-cruise ship

As we were leaving Fiji to head to Vanuatu, we overheard a conversation on the VHF radio between an approaching freighter and the Port Authority about a possible tsunami warning. We had cell phone service just long enough to find out that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake had hit just south of Vanuatu (the direction we were heading). We were right at the pass out of the lagoon, heading towards the ocean, which would have been a bad spot to be if a tsunami had come.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lazy days in Port Denarau and Musket Cove

Conrad at Big Bula Water Park. Photo
courtesy of Marie-Claude Osterrath
Blog-writing on Perry is one of the casualties of being back in civilization. After spending weeks without seeing any other cruisers (other than our friends on Amelie IV), Port Denarau and Nadi were a bit of a shock to our systems. There is always something to do.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kadavu (Fiji)

We have spent the last couple weeks in the Great Astrolabe Reef area, which didn't make the cut during last season's visit to Fiji. The land is much greener here than up north. There is no cyclone damage and plentiful water. The main island of Kadavu, owing to its moist, well draining soil, is the source of the best yaqona (kava) in Fiji. It's a major cash crop for the folks here and the well kempt villages reflect the added income it provides.  As with most of the traditional villages in Fiji, visitors (including boats) are required to present an offering of yaqona to the village chief in a ceremony called sevusevu. Ironically, the yaqona we are bringing to our recent sevusevus may have been grown in Kadavu, shipped and sold to merchants in bigger towns, bought by us, only to be sailed back and returned to villages in Kadavu. It seems like cutting out the middleman could help both the producers and the cruisers, but it's tradition.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bright Lights, Big City

Perry as seen from a bay near Avea in the Lau Group

Savasavu has a population of a little over 3,000 people. To put that number into (somewhat morbid) perspective, almost as many people have been shot this year in our hometown of Chicago (and some people think our lifestyle is dangerous!). But after five weeks in the remote islands of the Lau Group, Savusavu feels like a bustling metropolis to us.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Lau Group (Fiji)

Kids from Cicia visiting Perry. Not many cruising boats get to this island.

Our nearly month long (so far) visit to the Lau Group has been very different from our visit last year. Our work with Sea Mercy has kept us busy doing assessments of the needs of hard-to-reach villages after the destruction Cyclone Winston and delivering donated and purchased aid.  We've also done a number of projects within the villages including clearing and cutting logs, building fences, wiring generators, installing water makers, and anything else that the villages need help with.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Spraying and splashing and leaking (just a bit)

Cam from Port Whangarei Marine Center spraying on our Coppercoat.
Kiwis swear a lot. At first I thought it was because we were in a boatyard and that's just how the tradesmen talked. But in the time I spent at playgrounds and walking along the scenic waterfront paths in Whangarei, I was continually, mildly surprised to hear the F-word casually uttered in conversation by moms pushing young kids in strollers. Seems that just the way it 'effin is here...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Two steps forward, one step back--Cha-Cha-Cha

The view of the boatyard from the top of our mast. It's
much higher when you're out of the water because we're blocked
up 8 feet higher than normal.
Conrad has been knocking the socks off me in the 'updating blogs' department. And I need those socks because it is cold here. Yes, it's only in the 60's overnight and 70's during the day but keep in mind that we don't have heat and still have thin blood from living in the tropics for the last few years.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chicago Visit 2016

Conrad and Grandma
When you grow up in Chicago, you don't usually think of it as a vacation destination, especially in the winter (even the 'end' of winter). Add to this the fact that we have spent the last several years in places dominated by beaches and tropical weather and you can see why I found myself cringing at the idea of intentionally subjecting ourselves to long pants, possible snow and--the horror--shoes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Doing stuff. And things.

Auckland Art Gallery
Matt has been hard at work doing fiberglass work to close up some unneeded through hulls. The boat yard has also given us a vacuum pump to help dry out the hull. We'll continue to let it dry out while we visit Chicago for awhile. Our parents got together and generously bought us tickets to make the trip. Conrad and Mark are excited to visit their birthplace after three years away.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Road trip!

Zorbing was invented here: rolling down a hill
in a big rubber ball filled with water
Mark and Conrad finally got to test out their new tent and it turns out that it effectively shields them from Matt's snoring and most other background noises. It's a good thing too because there are a lot of people camping in many of the places we visited and they are not shy about plopping their tents within a few feet of yours. We're used to a little more breathing room when we camp. On the plus side, the toilets are usually clean(ish) and stocked with toilet paper at the Department of Conservation sites.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Yes, I realize there are real problems in the world

Big kauri tree
So this month we find ourselves "On the Hard." That's boater speak for having the boat pulled out of the water and placed in a boat yard.  No matter how nice a boat yard, being on the hard is always a wee bit soul crushing for us. There is always a long list of work to do: known projects, known unknown projects and worst of all, the dreaded unknown unknown projects.  All of these result in the  bleeding of copious amounts of money. Couple that with having to get up early (unless you can sleep through grinding and welding just out your window) and having to walk to the bathrooms 200 meters away, and you can start to understand that being on the hard just plain blows.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's all fun and games until you get hauled out

Perry on the hard, complete with a grand staircase
Like all immutable rules of nature, including the Laws of Thermodynamicsthe Law of the Jungle, and Murphy's Law, you can count on boat fixes taking x times longer and costing y times more than you predicted.  If you're lucky, x and y are confined to the single digits. I don't think it has an actual name, but 'The Law of Just-Shoot-Me-Now' has a certain ring to it.