Voyage of Traveler / Blog

July 8, 2008

French Polynesia to Australia - July 2008 to October 2008

July 2008 French Polynesia

Hi to our family and friends,

Good news: We got the new Yanmar engine installed, took it on a sea trail and everything went well!  It looks like Barbara and I will be on the road again soon. We need to spend a couple of days putting the boat back together, buying provisions and making final preparations for the passage to Rarotonga.

We have enjoyed our stay in French Polynesia, although much longer than planned. We arrived on November 12, so that makes eight months here.  During those months, I went back to California twice, each time for about a month, to take care of some unfinished business and sell my house, and then Barbara took some well-deserved time off the boat for 40 days in May and early June.

One thing I’ve learned about cruising is that almost nothing goes quite as planned.

We spent this time to tour the Islands of:

Rangiroa: nice place to drop anchor for a day or two, excellent scuba diving, but not much else going on there.

Tahiti: Papeete was a busy city with an interesting mix of the French and Polynesian cultures, nice stay at the modern Marina Taina, Tahiti Yacht Club, body boarded with Brian at the famous surf spot Teahupoo and enjoyed the Gauguin Museum on our tour around the island.

Moorea: Really enjoyed our anchorage off the Club Bali Hai and our gracious hosts Muck and Jay in the scenic Cook’s Bay, which is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet.

Huahine: Had a great visit from Melissa and Dana, and a rough passage from Moorea to Huahine, but what a beautiful island. Great bike rides and snorkeling. Enjoyed anchoring off the elegant and friendly Te Tiare Resort.

Raiatea: This has been our home base since January and we got to know lots of friendly people.  We also had installed new solar panels and a wind generator in February
and March and now the new engine.

Tahaa: So close to Raiatea, we came over to this gorgeous island many times to our favorite place, the Taravana Yacht Club. Our guest crew Dave LaMontagne joined us for a couple of weeks and saw Raiatea, Tahaa and Bora-Bora.  Loved snorkeling at the Coral Garden.

Bora-Bora: We got to visit this beautiful island a few times and loved it. We spent some time at the famous Bora-Bora Yacht Club and Bloody Mary’s Restaurant and rode our bicycles around the island.

We may make brief stops at the islands of Maupiti and Mopelia on the way to Rarotonga, weather permitting. Either way, we are now ready to move on, and continue our cruise around the world.

Michael and Barbara


  1. July 15 2008
    Bora-Bora, French Polynesia

    Ahoy, family and friends,

    As I’ve said many times before, “It’s all good, except the bad parts.”

    Barbara and I are aboard Traveler at anchor off the Bora-Bora Yacht Club, after a bit of a scare with our new engine and the electrical system over the past few days. On July 10, with our new Yanmar 110 hp engine installed, we finally resumed our around the world voyage by departing the Uturoa Marina on Raiatea (which has been our home for the past four months) for the nearby island of Tahaa, just four miles away. There we picked up a mooring off the Taravana Yacht Club for the night.

    All went well on our little sea trial. At noon the next day we departed for Rarotonga, with a planned stop at the island of Mopelia along the way. About 35 miles out, while motoring because the wind was light and we need to put time on our new engine to break it in, we noticed a bad smell, which Barbara discovered was coming from our very hot starting batteries. They were bulging and gassing out, and looked like they might explode at any minute. We turned off the battery switch and put a fan on the starting batteries. Our house batteries were fine, so we continued on.

    Then, about two hours later, still motoring, an alarm went off indicating we had water in the fuel system. I checked the primary Racor fuel filter and there was some sludgy looking water, so I changed the dirty fuel filter, but the engine stalled in the process. We decided to turn around and have a mechanic in Raiatea check things out. On the way back, the autopilot started acting strangely and then would not hold a course. It was just one problem right after another. We received a reply email while at sea from our electrician about the battery problem. He told me how to disconnect the alternator, so we could run the engine without cooking the batteries further, so we could motor back to Raiatea, which we did. The bottom line is that we got all the above problems solved in just a few hours, thanks to Richard, and then motored to Tahaa for the night.

    While breaking in the new engine, the manufacturer recommends after ten hours of engine time, when the engine has been warmed up, to run it for four minutes at wide open throttle, which we did (at 3400 rpms) and hit 9.1 knots! It looks like our propeller is sized right, with the proper pitch for this engine. The next day, we sailed to Bora-Bora using our spinnaker, the first time that sail has been out of the bag since Transpac a year ago, and it felt great to be flying the chute on the 20 mile passage from Tahaa to Bora. We anchored off the Bora-Bora Yacht Club and partied there with some other yachties celebrating Bastille Day. This was one of our better days. It appears all is well now and we can enjoy our passage westerly across the South Pacific.

    Livin’ the Dream,

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — July 15, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

  2. July 17, 2008 Bora Bora, French Polynesia

    Yesterday was a great day: Gorgeous morning here in Bora Bora, nice cup of coffee,checking emails, big breakfast (including pan-fried Spam, yum!), got the dive gear out and went for a tank dive off the reef, lunch at the famous Bloody Mary’s Restaurant (where we had a couple of Bloody Mary’s with our mahi mahi burgers), knocked off a couple of easy boat projects, filled the dive tanks then the boat’s water tanks, had a solo-yachtie (a retired attorney from Houston) on the neighboring boat over for dinner (we got out the Waterford crystal and china, he was very impressed.)
    Then at 8pm the three of us dingied over to the Hotel Bora Bora to see their Polynesian Dance and Fire Show, which is the best in all of French Polynesia, and I played in the band! With a couple of mai tais and under a clear warm sky with a full moon, for the 45 minute hour show I was in the band, banging away on my new To Ere Tahitian drum that Barbara bought for me for our three year anniversary, with many other yachtie friends there watching. Barbara got some cool photos of me playing with the band.

    Today, we may depart for the next island, Mopelia, then on to Rarotonga.I’m up early, and Barbara is sleeping in.

    Cheers!Livin’ the Dream, again,

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — July 20, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

  3. Jul 21, 2008 3:04 PM

    The umbilical cord has been cut!

    Hi Friends,bb here.

    As some of you know, besides being pinned down with putting in a new engine, we then got pinned down by bad weather lasting almost a week. We weathered it out in Bora Bora. Others who headed out either turned around and came back, or those arriving to westward destinations took a beating with knockdowns, broken booms, cracked masts and so on. “Limping in to port” is heard often on the radio in the last week. . .We made new friends and had a weather school of our own, trading software, websites etc.

    Last night M and I hosted a poker game and cleaned out our friends pockets . . . didn’t mean to! Bad manners by Traveler!

    Sorry for the interruption — a fish hit the line, but got off . . .

    Anyway, we are the first to head out to Maupiti, 25 miles to the west. Overnight there and then head on to Mopelia, where a family of 12 live. . . then Rarotonga. We hear Rarotonga begins Heva, “Carnival,” Aug. 1. All of Rartonga is out of flour, yep, flour. Raiatea and Bora have been out of eggs for 2 weeks now . . . always something!! Maybe we should have a chicken on the aft deck, laying eggs; gosh, we have so much other “junk in the trunk” back there, why not!!!

    We decided the best way to catch a fish is to not buy provisions for dinner, so we have nothing but pasta or rice. The fish gods will hopefully look kindly on us.I do have a rack of steaks for the family in Mopelia, actually deep frozen in our little fridge. Those of you, like Kathy, who know this fridge, are gasping in surprise, but yes, it is true, we can deep freeze 2 meals in a 4″ by 8″ condenser.And I still have a tray of ice for 5:00 HAPPY HOUR!

    Hugs to all, and we are at sea on SSB now so do not hit reply but please DO send us a “Hi, how do you do!” We crave info!!

    bb and ml

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — July 21, 2008 @ 10:07 pm

  4. July 22, 2008
    Maupiti, French Polynesia
    Lat/Long: 16.426486 S / 152.243669 W

    Hi everyone,

    We’re safely in the lagoon at Maupiti, but had a tricky time getting in the narrow pass here yesterday because (1) we had 6 foot waves breaking out of the south (I would say 3 foot waves out of the south or waves from any other direction would not be a problem, but 6 ft out of the south was a little gnarly, anything more than that would be out of the question for a sailboat) and (2) we got there at 1430, well after the noon-time slack high tide, so we had about 3.5 to 4 knots of outgoing current, with rips in the pass. Barbara was at the wheel and did a great job of driving. At one point, we were surfing Traveler down a small wave in through the pass as if we were on a surfing kayak. That got the adrenalin flowing!

    We plan on leaving today about noon for Mopelia.

    Livin’ the Dream,
    Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — July 26, 2008 @ 11:03 am

  5. Subject: Traveler in Mopelia, French Polynesia
    Date: Jul 24, 2008 7:14 PM

    Hi Everyone,

    We made the easy over-night 100-mile passage from Maupiti to Mopelia, an atoll which is the farthest west of the Society Islands. Mopelia is very primitive, or as the French like to say, “savage.” The lagoon is about two miles wide. The only entrance to the lagoon is through a narrow pass with a fairly strong outgoing current of about 3 knots and waves breaking on both sides, which makes for a very exciting arrival.

    We went for a drift dive, just snorkeling, through the pass today, twice, and saw many reef sharks swimming just a few feet below us with a watchful eye. Very cool. We also dove on the wreck of the Seeadler. For a interesting story on an early 20th century pirate who came to grief on Mopelia, Google “Felix von Luckner” and read the article in Wikipedia, especially the part about his shipwreck here in 1917. Legend has it Luckner buried his treasure here on Mopelia, and it has not yet been found.

    Tonight we go ashore for a luau with a Tahitian family and their seven-year-old son’s birthday with a couple of other cruising friends. The menu includes coconut crab and fish caught in the lagoon earlier today. The total population for the island is only eight, and there are nine cruising sailboats here right now, which may be a record. Kalami, the local Tahitian hosting our dinner tonight, says last year he only say 50 boats in total for the whole year, and he thought then that was a lot of boats!

    We are waiting for the wind to change directions. Normally, easterly trade winds blow this time of year, but now we have three days of winds out of the SW, which is the direction where we’re headed next, to Rarotonga, 420 miles down the road. So rather than beat into the wind and waves, we are going to enjoy Mopelia for another couple of days when the wind is forecast to be out of the SE, then we’ll go.

    Livin’ the Dream,
    Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — July 26, 2008 @ 11:08 am

  6. Monday 21 July, 2008 (Bora)—-Now Aug. 4, Rarotonga

    We are about to leave Bora after being pinned down for a week with bad weather. Many boats that went got damaged with broken booms and masts and knockdowns. We may have to motor some of it, but we have to get engine hours on for the 50 hour tune up so not so bad now. GREAT ENGINE!! So quiet and less vibrations. Got new compass for autopilot, so good to go!!

    Aug. 4
    We are so in love with Rarotonga for the people and prices and the beauty, but the anchorage where we are stern tied is rolly. We are 15 ft off the wharf, and even getting into the dinghy to get to shore is a huge undertaking. People chafe through, it’s noisy, and no one sleeps well. Mechanic comes today for new engine tune up and then we go. M. got s into the ind. day parade. 16 yachts from 8 countries carried their flags, we had a flatbed truck and everyone wore coco shell tops and grass skirts. What a hoot!

    Say, stay in touch with Dave Lee who is due to arrive Aug. 12 or so. M. may have loaded him up with too many books and stuff to bring. If you are coming to Fiji, you can divide the load!!!

    Write, and hugs,

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — August 4, 2008 @ 9:18 pm

  7. Hi Barb and Michael. Really enjoyed reading the adventures you both are experiencing. Fantastic. We hope your engine checks out oky and you can be on your merry way. Love Marsha and Bill

    Comment by Marsha Horsfall — August 6, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  8. Hi guys!!great news that you are enjoying new sights and friends! quite a small party there,, has the ship saied for Rauaratonga yet?
    Mom is here with us for a few days before going to Danas fot the final push before the wedding… Drew and Ryan arrive on Monday! We will miss you both!!! but carry on and when next we meet!!!
    God bless!! Mobil Mel

    Comment by melissa mcleod — August 6, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

  9. Subject: Traveler to the Rescue
    Date: Aug 13, 2008 1:15 AM

    Hi everyone,

    As I am writing this email we are towing a disabled small fishing boat, with two very relieved fishermen, back to Alofi, Niue. We were on our way to Tonga and to pick up Dave Lee when we had this detour. The two fishermen were about ten miles out to sea, and drifting further away from land, when Barbara spotted their hand-held flare just at sunset. I called the local police on VHF 16 (called “Radio Niue”) to tell them our location and what we saw, and they responded that there was an over due fishing boat. We were about two miles away from them at the time. We quickly furled our genoa, turned on the motor, got a good bearing on them and headed toward the drifting boat. But the flare died out and we lost sight of them. We continued on our heading but we lost them and it was getting darker by the minute. Then we spotted a flashlight waving in the distance. We radioed the police on Channel 16 and they were very happy to hear that we found them. But not nearly as glad as the two fishermen were when we found them in the dark, guided by their small flashlight.

    There were four to six foot seas with wind chop, but we managed to tie on a towline to their boat. We should be back in the harbor in about 40 minutes or so. If we hadn’t seen their flare and gone to their rescue, it is very doubtful they would have made it. In the direction they were drifting, the next island group was Tonga was 250 miles away and they were out of food and water with no radio.

    Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — August 13, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

  10. Hey guys: Glad to hear that you’re finally under way on your travels. It’s been a long time in coming. I am sure you are glad to have gotten to see so much of Tahiti but equally glad to be on the way again. All’s good here. We went to Hot August Nights for a week and had a blast. Enjoying our summer home too. Bruce’s back and hips are killing him but otherwise we’re good. Hot weather is here but it won’t last long. We envy you on your tropical travels. We are so glad to hear you’re meeting new people on other boats and island folks who are good and kind. It must be a wonderful experience. Take care and keep us up-dated. We miss you guys and wish we were there to enjoy your experiences. Love, Bruce and Denise

    Comment by Bruce and Denise Stelzer — August 14, 2008 @ 7:11 am

  11. M. & B. to the rescue….nicely done! To bad Phillip wasn’t there to give them both mouth to mouth recesitation and a good hair cut! Shooby would have given them a shot of Patron and I would just have told them what idiots they were for being without provisions and a frickin’ radio…..can you say, “boating 101″? Miss you guys!

    Comment by Beekenstein — August 14, 2008 @ 11:21 am

  12. Hi Michael and Barbara, What an experience you had with the fishermen. And a happy ending! Glad to get the news about whats going on with you.

    As for me, I have been thinking of you Michael, because I just got back from Yosemite. And of course your name and Yosemite come up together in my mind because we have had so many good times together there with the girls and boys when they were small! I rented a bike one day and rode around the valley just like we used to and checked out Mirror Lake and Camp Curry and the Ahwahnee. As beautiful as ever. I actually was at “adult camp” at the Yosemite Institute near Crane Flats in upper Yosemite valley and took hikes out of Tuolomne meadows. Accomodations were not up to the Curry Village cabins but was a large dorm with 40 bunk beds for the girls and similar for the guys. Community shared bathrooms. So very funny at bath time!

    Miss you and have a safe voyage. Love Patti

    Comment by Patti O'Desky — August 17, 2008 @ 10:34 am

  13. We haven’t a clue as to your rescuing fishermen. Please send us details of what took place. Love Marsha and Bill

    Comment by Marsha Horsfall — August 18, 2008 @ 4:11 pm

  14. Hey Barb. We haven’t heard a thing regarding a rescue of a fishing boat. Please send us details. Ok? Love, Marsha and Bill

    Comment by Marsha Horsfall — August 18, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  15. Ooops!!! I left the above reply before reading about the rescue. You guys are heros. I bet it feels good to save someone’s life. What an experience that must have been. Good show!! Marsha

    Comment by Marsha Horsfall — August 18, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  16. Subject: Traveler and the Niue Olympic Team
    Date: Aug 15, 2008 10:04 PM
    Hi, Everyone:

    We just left Niue and are sailing for Tonga, with 225 miles to go. Before we left someone gave us a copy of an article in today’s New Zealand Herald (Auckland) titled “Yacht rescues drifting fishermen.” It can be found at . Pretty neat story. Glad it has such a happy ending and that we were in the right place at the right time.

    While in Niue I got a idea about forming the Niue Olympic Team, which at first sounds kind of silly since this country has only 1300 people, smaller than the student body of most high schools. But this morning I decided to do something about the idea and wrote the letter below to the Niue Premier and then went to deliver it to his office. Even though the Pacific Forum (a summit meeting of 16 heads of state of island countries in the South Pacific) is going on now and Niue is the host country, so he was extremely busy, he took the time (about a half hour) to meet with Barbara and me to thank us for saving the lives of the two fishermen and to hear my idea about the Niue Olympic Team. He liked the idea very much! By coincidence, Felix (one of the two fishermen we rescued) was with us and his brother is the Premier’s Chief of Staff, and he sat in on the meeting too, so that helped a lot. Here is my letter to the Premier. He promised that he would get back to me after discussing the idea with his cabinet. I’ll keep you posted.


    Link to Michael’s Niue Olympic proposal

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — August 18, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

  17. Hey there Sailors,
    Boy, finally I had a chance to catch up on your travels and wow what stories and hero’s too! Glad you were there…….there is a reason your engine & the weather held you up for so long………the fishermen!

    I am writing now from China……I have been here for 3 weeks now and boy talk about an adventure……never a dull moment in my life!

    It actually started before I began my journey. The morning (5:30am) of the day I was to leave with a girlfriend, Joann, called to say her mother had had a series of strokes and that she could not go and would be leaving for New York instead. So off I go alone for 2 months, but then I phoned another girlfriend, Kim, from the airport and invited her. Right in the middle of our phone call we had the strong earthquake. Kim says she thinks the earthquake was her reaction to the fact that I told her she could only have a small backpack as her carryon luggage and be sure to pack a bed sheet and roll of toilet paper because she would be “squatting alot”. Well, Kim accepted the challenge and got her Visa in a day, a house/cat sitter for 2 months, and scrambled around in 5 days and then came an joined me. I waited at the airport hotel in Shanghai (and honestly, it has been the best hotel so far). I became good friends with the General Manager and he helped me venture out to explore a little on my own and I in turn, helped him by “re-interpreting” many of their questionaires and training his front desk staff to speak English. Michael……I was being treated like a Rock Star (lol)

    When Kim arrived I was ready to get out of Shanghai, but she, of course, wanted to visit it. So, I acted as tour guide and she did not have to deal with all the difficulties I encountered. Before she arrived I had met some people from Vancouver and secured Olympic Tickets to Women’s Beach Volleyball & Athletics (in the Birdnest stadium). We also had tickets to Women’s Wrestling, which is the whole reason we came to China……to support my niece, Marcie Van Dusen. She won one and lost one, darn, and was eliminated early on in the competition. Everyone was shocked, because she was forecast to take the Gold, but certainly to metal. Unfortunately, a couple nights before her meet, she had slept on a fleece blanket and developed an allergic reaction and broke out in hives. It also didn’t help that she drew her competitor who’s body type didn’t match hers. The opponent was taller and Marcie is 5′5″ so it wasn’t her best match. Simply heartbreaking! She did finish 9th as an Olypmian in her 55kgs class.

    The people here are kind, helpful and yet not, do not speak English (even though they think they do) and have some terrible human habits! The babies wear clothes that have no bottoms in them so that they can “do their business” anywhere…….parks, sidewalks (we even saw a mother holding a 1 qt. size plastic bag to the baby’s butt to collect the……….you know what. the men spit everywhere and seem to love to do it on purpose in front of you when you walk by. One takes their own life in their own hands when they cross the street. Pedestrians do not have the right of way. It actually seems as if we are targets, old and young, walking or bicycling, they have no regard for human life. We discovered their are indeed traffic laws similar to those in the US but they are not enforced at all.

    We have traveled by plane to Beijing (you have to pay cash for all transportation) spent one night so we could go to the Volleyball event to what Misty May & Kerri Walsh win. The U.S. men lost in the preliminaries.

    Gotta go……… be continued. Luv to all, Kathy

    Comment by Kathy Smith — August 19, 2008 @ 1:50 am

  18. Subject: Traveler Update From Tonga
    Date: Aug 23, 2008 3:47 AM

    Hi, Everyone:Here’s the news from Tonga: What a week, again!The new King, George Tapou V, was making his rounds to the outer island groups following his coronation and, coincidentally, was here in Vava’u when we arrived. Our friend and guest crew, Dave Lee, joined us here for a couple of weeks, and we went shopping for tupenus, the traditional Tongan wrap-around skirts that both men and women wear, partly as souvenirs and partly to honor the King and better fit in with the locals. We learned that after four days of official events, the King was having a relatively informal luncheon on Nuku, a small gorgeous private island, with his extended family, a few friends, and the local chiefs. We motored over to that island on Traveler along with an American photographer and his German girlfriend/dental student–new friends we met here. He was on assignment with Geo Magazine and spent two years here in the Peace Corps, so he speaks fluent Tongan. The five of us anchored next to the King’s barge, dressed up in our best Tongan attire, dinghied in to the beach, and walked up to the King’s private party as if we were invited.Our photographer-friend said a few magic words in Tongan to the right person and we were royally welcomed. As Barbara walked by the Royal tent the King’s sister motioned for her to come closer. Turns out that Barbara’s pareu was a little too short for the modest Tongan culture, especially in the King’s presence—too much leg showing–and the duchess discreetly and politely asked Barbara to lengthen her pareu, which Barbara did just by re-tying it another way after walking around to the back side of the tent. We ate a barbecued chicken lunch with the royal family, drank kava with the chiefs, and watched and heard a couple of dozen locals who so proudly sang for the King. After lunch, we witnessed the Royals (who had been drinking a few bottles of Dom Perignon) take turns throwing each other into the ocean. At one time, there were over 50 people in the water at the same time, all laughing and singing! It was an amazing experience–like a scene out of a National GeographicSpecial–and one of the highlights so far of our trip around the world.

    We also heard this week from a cruiser-friend who just arrived from Niue that the Premier of Niue likes my idea that I had pitched to him about the Niue Olympic Team and it is now on the agenda for discussion and a vote at the Forum, happening this week.Next stop: Fiji.

    Livin’ the Dream,Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — August 23, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  19. Hey Michael and Barbara:

    Your trip is certainly jumping off now. Everywhere you go you’re meeting with the royals and having wonderful local festivities that make your trip so very, very, very special. We are so excited for you and glad that things are finally going your way. Your adventures sound wonderful and yuo truly are living the dream at this point. I can’t get much better than that!!! Hopefully, the Olympic proposal will come to fruition and you’ll be a big part of that in the future. We wish you well with that too. Fiji. Oh, my God. We so loved it there. The main island of Vite Leveu (spelling?) isn’t that great, some beautiful sights and all but very impoverished, but the outer island, especially up north, are absolutely gorgeous. Try to sail to the little islands of Castaway Island (not the one from the movie), to the one where Castaway was filmed (I cannot recall the name of it right off the top of my head) and to Tokoriki. We absolutely LOVED Castaway and Tokoriki. Castaway was the absolute best!!! Not as lavish as Te Tiare but ever bit as wonderful in its own way. There are a gillion little island out there in the Mamanuca chain and they’re all great. We did island hopping one day and went to many of them and they all welcome day-tripper visitors and such. We hope you will love it there as much as we did. Well, keep living the dream. We love hearing your up-dates. We envy you SO much. Bruce says: “Tell them I’ll fly to Fiji and hook up with them for a while.” Yea, right. Anyway, have a most wonderful time. Keep in touch. Here’s hoping and praying everything keeps going well for you. Be safe. Love, Bruce and Denise

    Comment by Bruce and Denise Stelzer — August 25, 2008 @ 5:18 am

  20. Subject: Traveler Update: Fiji
    Date: Aug 30, 2008 1:33 PM

    Hi everyone,Our three-day passage from Tonga to Fiji was a good one, mostly sailing on a broad reach with nice wind and a warm sun, and our friend/guest crew David Lee, who joined us in Tonga, was with us to help with boat projects and the watch schedule. Dave likes to take the midnight to 0600 shift, and with the autopilot working well we only need one on watch at a time, so Barbara and I got some good sleep. As I like to say, it was all good, except for the bad parts.

    When we were just about ten miles off the island of Vanua Malavu, our first destination in Fiji, and while we were motoring because the winds had died, we unexpectedly ran out of fuel. It turns out that the fuel gauge was faulty (still!) It indicated our 117 gallon tank was nearly three-quarters full when we left Tonga and showed that we still had a third of a tank when we ran out of fuel. We had a marine electrician fix this problem in Raiatea, but apparently he (and we) only thought he fixed it.I like to keep a jerry jug of diesel on the deck as a reserve, which came in very handy now, and with the spare five gallons I figured we could make it to Lomaloma, a small village on Vanua Malavu, where we hoped to buy more diesel the next morning.So that “bad part” was relatively minor compared to what happened next.

    We safely entered through the pass in the barrier reef that surrounds the island and were motoring across the calm lagoon to the village. But it was now late in the afternoon and the sun was setting making it impossible to see any reefs or coral heads, which are easy to spot in the clear water if there is good sun light. The chart plotter showed the lagoon has mostly deep water with a few scattered small reefs and coral heads here and there. The fathometer showed we were in water that was 120 feet deep, which is too deep to anchor, so we started looking for a place to anchor for the night, ideally in water that is about 20 feet deep with a sand bottom. I was below at the nav station checking the chart plotter, Dave was also below putting some tools away, and Barbara was at the helm, when BAM! we bumped into a reef. The bottom went from 120 feet to only six feet deep in just two boat lengths, and our boat is six and a half feet deep. The reef stopped the boat—a horrendous sound– and we did not ride up over the reef, so it was easy just to reverse away from it, which we did for about six or seven boat lengths and dropped anchor there for the night. Early the next morning I dove under the boat and saw that the lower six inches on the leading edge of the keel was scratched a little, but other than that, fortunately, there was no damage.

    For some unknown reason in this part of the Pacific our chart plotter, which has been accurate to within a few feet so far this trip, has a position error (we are now able to calibrate) that shows our boat a half a mile to the East North East from where it really is. For longer passages, that amount of error is not a problem at all. But for navigating close to land, when we need to zoom in to a large scale, especially in the dark, it is dangerous to rely on the chart plotter, as we learned in the lagoon.

    Next, our windlass (the electric motor on our bow that pulls up the anchor) failed, so Dave and I pulled up the heavy anchor and chain by hand, and we then motored the final four miles across the lagoon to the village of Lomaloma and dropped anchor there.

    A couple of young local boys paddled out to see us, as they rarely get any visiting yachts here. I lowered the dinghy and they showed me where to get some fuel: from a fisherman who buys his diesel in 55 gallon drums, has it delivered by a ship that comes once a month and re-sells the fuel to his fishing buddies. He hand pumped the fuel out of the barrel and into a pitcher, then poured it into my jerry jugs, as this remote island has no electricity. (Just a little different from refueling at Dave Beek’s Island Marine Fuel on Balboa Island, where we started our voyage.)A few years ago the actor Mel Gibson bought the neighboring island, Mogo, and this is where he comes to buy fuel for his boat and generator. On the way out of this island we took a different pass on the other side. With Dave up the mast to spot and help us steer around any other coral heads or reefs, we cruised through Vanua Balavu’s magnificent “Bay of Islands,” one of the most spectacularly beautiful coastlines we’ve ever seen.

    Next stop: The port of Savusavu on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island.

    Livin’ the Dream,Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — August 30, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

  21. Subject: Traveler in Savusavu
    Date: Aug 30, 2008 5:51 PM
    Lat Long: 16 46S , 179 19E

    Hi, Everyone,

    Traveler made the easy, down-wind, overnight crossing from Vanua Maluva to the port of Savusavu on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island. We are on a mooring off the Waitui Marina and the Savusavu Yacht Club. Our friend and guest, Dave Lee, had to return to work and caught an overnight ferry to Suva and then three connecting flights back to LAX. For those of you who have had the pleasure of sailing with Dave, you know just how valuable a crew member he is. He taught us much and fixed many things on Traveler in the twelve days he was with us.

    Fiji is now our fifth country, and we’ve found the check-in procedure varies with each country, and even differs somewhat at different ports of entry within the same country. Hear in Savusavu, the various officials, one at a time, come out in a small boat to each arriving yacht: first the Health Inspector (to make sure everyone on board is healthy, and then you can take down the yellow Q-flag signifying that you have cleared quarantine), then Customs (to inspect your Customs clearance from the previous country to make sure you departed on good terms and to make sure you are not smuggling in guns, among other things), then Immigration (to stamp your passports), then finally the Agriculture Inspector (to make sure you do not have any harmful insects such as fruit flies, and he takes away your trash). Our Ag Inspector, Abu, was a delightful, friendly Fijian and very helpful. He arranged a cab for us and took us to the bank to get cash at an ATM, then to the hospital where we paid the $20 fee for the health inspector, then gave us a two-hour tour of the island.

    This tour ended by taking us to his village’s church, an old, stone and stained-glass Catholic Mission built in 1890–possibly the oldest structure in Fiji–and still in use. Next to the church, at the parsonage, Abu introduced us to the elders who invited us to join them in a Kava Ceremony on the front porch over looking the bay as night fell, to “talk story” and to pray for our continued safe passage around the world. When it is your turn to drink the kava you can request the portion, called low tide, medium tide or Tsunami depending on how full your coconut cup is. You take the cup, say “Bula!” and then you chug it down. The group sitting around the kava bowl then gives an acknowledging single clap of the hands as you wipe your chin. It was a great experience. Once again, I felt as if we were in a National Geographic special. We all had such a good time together they invited us to come back in a few days to their village for a “lovo” which is a traditional Fijian feast where the pig and other food is slow-cooked in an underground oven.

    At the Saturday Market, which is an eclectic mix of vendors selling fruit and vegetables, fish, kava and handicrafts, some of which we bought, including a lobster, a ceremonial kava bowl and a wood-carved turtle-head war mask. Fiji is a very cool place, and we’re definitely…

    Livin’ the Dream,
    Michael and Barbara

    P.S. Barbara’s 51st birthday is coming up on September 4, so please send her a nice email. Thanks, and Bula!

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — August 31, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

  22. Subject: Traveler: Cousteau Diving
    Date: Sep 1, 2008 12:42 PM
    16 48.8 S, 179 17.3 E

    Hi, Everyone,

    We’re having a cup of coffee and watching the sun come up while anchored off the fabulous Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort (Google it for photos) on the island of Vanua Levu. This five star resort is similar in many ways to the Kona Village Resort on Hawaii, if you’ve been there, but with, of course, an emphasis on diving. Last evening, just before sunset, we dinghied up to the hotel’s dock, went ashore and had a pool-side, very romantic, gourmet dinner to celebrate B’s 51st birthday (a couple of days early.) Barbara looked gorgeous, as always, wearing a knee-length silk floral dress with a pashmina shawl and her matching Tahitian pearl earrings and necklace. Our bartender made us a couple of special cocktails, which we thoroughly enjoyed with appetizers while the Cousteau Marine Biologist gave an interesting and entertaining 20 minute Power Point show on coral. Just before we sat down for dinner, we joined up backstage with the Bula Boys (three guitars and a ukulele) for a couple of rounds of kava before they played and sang for the dinner music. Later this morning we go scuba diving, after we fix the alternator, that is. At noon we sail for Koro Island (27 miles away to the south), where we plan to anchor off the Koro Beach Resort. Life is good, and…

    We’re really Livin’ the Dream now,
    Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — September 1, 2008 @ 2:33 pm


    Comment by Susan Adams — September 2, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  24. Happy Birthday from Anne and Don!

    Sounds like you are having a great and amazing time..>WOW!!!!!

    Comment by anne and Don Yahn — September 2, 2008 @ 2:55 pm




    Comment by Bruce and Denise Stelzer — September 3, 2008 @ 7:47 am

  26. Happy, happy Birthday Barbara.

    Kava, yum.


    Comment by gogo — September 3, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

  27. Happy late bday Barb !!!! I have just returned to the cabin after enjoying 2 wks on my boat in Catalina. While there I had a great happy hour and dinner with Jim Palmer & family , it was great seeing them and the Island was great.
    Reading about your travels in Tonga & Fiji brings back all my fond memories of those places while I was there. You wont find any better people anywhere and it seems you two are making the most out of your visit. Just north of you off Taveuni is a resort you can anchor in front of called Garden Island resort. There you are only 15 min. away from the great white wall, the zoo and cabage patch- some of the best diving ive done other than Manerva atoll in the S.Pacific.
    I just found out I am co- captain of a new Lagoon 440 catamaran for the Ha Ha this year and for cruising Mexico this season- so Im very stoked, we even have a washer and dryer on board .
    You guys are great and keep the stories coming and the wetside down.
    Fair winds, love you Kurt.

    Comment by Kurt Roll — September 5, 2008 @ 9:52 am

  28. Subject: Traveler in Fiji
    Date: Sep 13, 2008 5:35 PM
    17 39.5 S, 177 15.5


    We’ve been cruising Fiji for the past couple of weeks now. We liked our port of entry, Savusavu ( ), very much. One of the highlights was a tour of the town by our quarantine officer after he inspected out boat. He took us to his church, built in 1890, where we had kava and “talked story” for an hour or so with him and the church elders. Later, I bought a souvenir Fijian war mask and a rare and valuable tabua, a ceremonial sperm whale’s tooth worn as a necklace by a chief during festivals–I found it at a pawn shop! We really enjoyed the nearby Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort ( where we celebrated Barbara’s birthday and went scuba diving. We then cruised to Namena Island (, then on to Levuka, founded as a whaling settlement and Fiji’s capital until 1882. There we enjoyed a walking tour of town, especially the old Royal Hotel, the Ovalua Club (the oldest private club in the South Pacific, and the dues are still only $20–per year!) and the Marist Convent School. Then we made a short hop south to Leleuvia Island ( ) where we went ashore and had a traditional lovo (like a Hawaiian luau featuring food cooked from an in-the-ground oven with hot rocks), with Fijian music and lots of kava and where we met up with some young Americans here on the Peace Corps. Then we cruised over to Suva, which is the largest city in the South Pacific and the capital of Fiji, where we anchored off the Royal Suva Yacht Club.

    Over the next three days there, we taxied into town to see the Fijian Museum, saw a couple of movies and did some grocery shopping at a farmer’s market. We also went to the Australian Embassy in Suva to get our visas for that country. Then we cruised westerly down the Coral Coast to Cuvu Harbor, a nice little anchorage where we were the only boat and anchored in a protected lagoon right in front of the Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort ( At the Fijian we watched yet another gorgeous tropical sunset, played miniature golf, had dinner and a few drinks and then danced to a live band. Next, we cruised around to the west end of Viti Levu (Fiji’s main island) and in through a pass at Tavarua Island (, which is a famous surf resort with huge beautiful waves. We then motored a few miles further to the Musket Cove Marina just in time for the start of the Fiji Week Regatta festivities.

    The first night was a complimentary dinner, drinks and a fire dance show for all the yachties who signed up for the regatta, which was also free, so the price was right. The next day was a fun regatta with a pirate theme. All fifteen of the boats just motored the whole way because the winds were light, it was that kinda race. And, yes, we have full pirate costumes on board Traveler, just in case we want to have a pirate party. There were water balloon fights between boats as we cruised to Beachcomber Island ( ) just ten miles away. There we had a costume contest, limbo contest (we did well on both, but didn’t win), huge buffet luncheon, lots of rum drinks and a live band for dancing. Coincidentally, there is another member from the BYC here, too, Kim Olinicof on her boat WMD.

    Today, we will cruise over to Denarau where the big resorts are (like Maui’s Kaanapali Beach, except by law you cannot build higher than a coconut tree). In a couple of days we plan to be in Fiji’s Yasawa Group of islands at Manta Ray Island, where the mantas are in their mating season now and you can snorkel with them. A day or two after that we sail a downwind run for three and a half days west to the next country: Port-Vila of Vanuatu, then on to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

    As you know, we cannot send photos through SailMail, so I’ve given you the websites for the places we’ve been so you can go on-line to check out the photos there.

    Livin’ the Dream,
    Michael and Barbara
    Lat: 17-39.5 South
    Long: 177-15.5 East

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — September 14, 2008 @ 11:34 am

  29. Happy Belated Bday Barbara. It’s great to read all about your adventures. Here’s to many more…
    xox jo and the gang

    Comment by joanne — September 14, 2008 @ 8:29 pm

  30. Happy Birthday Barbara,well after being gone from America for almost four years,I’ve ended up in Keppel Bay Marina,almost to the Whitsundays now so keep in touch with me and Petrel,I’m signrd on to do the Indo Rally,July 22,2009,perhaps I’ll see you in Darwin.Watch that run from Fiji to Oz I really got hammered there with 60 plus.
    Adios as they now say in California,your friend,Giles.

    Comment by Giles Douglas Finlayson — September 14, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  31. hello barbara,
    ross and i are in brisbane with our daughter jeneene. ross has a visit to his cardiologhist today.have been reading of you exciting adventures on the blog we would agree with you on fiji we have been there several times and just love the people, also vanuatu where we stayed at le lagoon resort. we look forward to you arriving on our shores, let us know your itenary and we will endevour to catch up with you.keep living the dream
    regards ross and glenda.

    Comment by Ross and Glenda — September 16, 2008 @ 3:02 pm

  32. Subject: Update: Hauled out at Vuda Point Marina
    Date: Sep 17, 2008 2:26 PM

    Michael and I ended up hauled out here on the western coast of Fiji and just love it. We were sailing by, and decided to check it out, so I stayed out and hovered around the coast and he went in by dinghy. An hour later we were hauled out! It is such a clean, well run yard, with great facilities like hot water and showers (do I dare mention the L word-laundry-is reasonable here!) And they are Yanmar dealers so we are having a few things done a little differently on the install of the engine, etc. Very competent and very reasonably priced, so far!

    There is also a small resort right through the gate and we have already used the pool, had sunset drinks, played chess and ping pong. Tonight there is fire dancing so I know M. will be in top form, raring to go. I had some spa treatments as a gift from M’s mother. This is the best haul out experience I have ever had!!

    We get news of the market chaos in the US and can only wonder from afar what that is doing to so many lives and livelihoods. We are in strange times.

    Our best to everyone,
    Barbara and Michael

    Comment by Barbara (via JP) — September 17, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  33. Subject: Traveler Update September 27
    Cruising in the Yasawa Islands of western Fiji
    17 11.14 S, 177 11.30 E

    Hi, Everyone,

    We were in the boat yard for 10 days to get the boat bottom painted and for several other minor repairs and routine maintenance. Some of the time was just waiting for a part or two. The yard was at a very enjoyable place, the Vuda Point Marina, with the Vuda Yacht Club and the First Landing Resort next door. At the resort, I had a couple of $20 massages–very nice–while there were six guys working on the boat! The repair bill was much less than I thought it was going to be and would have been twice that amount, easily, if I had the same work done in NB. The boat is in great shape now, and should be good for the next two years.

    Two nights ago, while anchored off Lautoka, we went ashore to see the town and to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant, then cabbed it back to the wharf. Because of the military coup, security is high at all critical facilities, especially the shipping harbors. But as we were walking through the main gate, the security officer motioned for us to come over to his guard shack, where he, the head of Customs and a couple of their buddies were passing the time drinking some kava. We joined them in a quick couple of cups, thanked him and moved on. But just a hundred yards further and on our way to our dingy we passed a Fijian Navy cutter, tied to the wharf. The sailors on board motioned for us to come over and join them in drinking kava, which of course we did. Drinking kava is a huge part of the Fijian culture, but only for the men. The women don’t drink, so it was quite a novelty for the Fijian men to have Barbara (and me, but most of the attention was directed toward Barbara) sitting around the kava bowl. When it was her turn, Barbara would chug down a cup of kava like a college sophomore drinking a draft beer, just like one of the boys. The kava cups are made from half a coconut shell.

    Last night we were just a few miles off the west coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, and picked up a mooring at Tivoa Island, better known as Mystery Island.We dinghied ashore after about 30 tourists from a cruise ship left and motored back in their launch after a picnic and snorkeling on the island. The island is small, maybe four acres in size, with lots of coconut trees surrounded by a sand beach with a reef around it. It is owned by an elderly Fijian named Jack, who lives there. Jack invited us to come ashore after the tourists left to drink some kava with him and his buddy, Oscar. I offered to bring the kava. In Fiji, especially when visiting the outer inhabited islands, the custom is to bring a gift of kava roots, known as a sevusevu (about the size and shape of a bouquet of long stem roses–and received with the same amount of delight.) Socially, it is the thing to do, like taking a bottle of wine if going to a friend’s home for dinner, but much more important to Fijians. We also brought some kava already ground into powder, ready to mix and drink, and a ceremonial kava bowl that I bought as a souvenir in Savusavu, but had not yet had a chance to christen. I formally presented the sevusevu to Jack, as chief of this island, which he formally accepted. In so doing, he blessed Traveler and us for a safe passage around the world, as a prayer in Fijian (then he translated the blessing into English for us). It was like a scene out of a National Geographic special. We then drank kava and “talked story” for about a hour. Jack told us that at one time his family owned six islands, but his grandfather sold one of the islands to an enterprising New Zealander for 60 pounds sterling, which he said seemed like a lot of money at the time. Now, there is a high end resort on that island that charges $1,500 per room per night!

    We are now cruising to one of the resort islands in western Fiji, in the Yasawa Group, called Nanuya Balavu, but better known as Manta Ray Island because the mantas group up there in big numbers to mate this time of year. The locals say it is easy to catch a ride on one, grabbing onto the shoulder and holding on, while snorkeling. Sounds awesome. Then we cruise for three days (about 500 miles) west to Port-Vila, Vanuatu, just for a couple of nights, then on to Australia.

    Livin’ the Dream,
    Michael and Barbara
    Lat. 17 11.14 south
    Long. 177 11.30 east

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — September 28, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

  34. Update September 28

    We didn’t see any manta rays, but had a nice snorkel in the late afternoon yesterday in the pass looking for them, and saw some gorgeous coral and tons of fish. Then we had a few drinks and and a nice dinner with a couple we met from Australia staying at the Manta Ray Resort.

    We left Fiji this morning at 0800 and are sailing now to Port-Vila, Vanuatu, with 490 miles to go. Conditions are perfect: sunny and about 86 degrees, wind is on the beam out of the north by north east blowing about ten, so we are sailing on autopilot at a slow but very comfortable 5.5 to 6 knots in smooth seas. Listening to Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album on CD. Just finished a nice brunch of coffee and a coconut scone, then scrambled eggs and bacon with fresh pineapple and a half a papaya, and a slice of carrot cake for dessert. We have our trolling lines in
    the water and hope for a mahi for dinner.

    It doesn’t get any better than this.

    Michael and Barbara

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — September 28, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

  35. Subject: Night Sailing in the South Pacific
    Date: Sep 30, 2008 6:30 AM
    17 27 S, 173 05 E

    October 1, 2008
    On Passage Between Fiji and Vanuatu

    Hi, Everyone:It is 0100 on the first day of October, and all is well onboard Traveler. (Because of the International Dateline, we are a day ahead of the US.) After a great dinner of tacos, I was off watch from 8pm to midnight and got four solid hours of sleep while Barbara stood watch and we motored in light winds. Just before midnight, Barbara woke me up to say the wind just picked up and it was now my watch. The main was already up to steady the boat in the swells, which are out of the south at only a foot or two. Within a few minutes, we had the jib furled out, the engine shut off and we are now sailing well on a beam reach. The apparent wind speed is 16 knots on the port beam in fairly flat seas, ideal conditions. I fixed myself a cup of coffee and I’m wide awake now, listening to Honk’s Five Summer Stories on the cockpit speakers, typing this on the laptop. The cockpit side curtains are rolled down because there is a light rain. There is no moon tonight, and because of the cloud cover there are no stars out, but we’re charging toward Port Vila at 7.5 knots and it now looks like we’ll have a mid-day arrival on Thursday.Everything is working well onboard, except we blew a fuse on the alternator, but that is only a $1 part in the next port and easily fixed. Meanwhile, for power we have solar panels (when the sun is shinning), a wind generator (when the wind is over 10 knots, and it is spinning now) and a portable Honda generator to re-charge the house batteries, which are at 12.5 volts. Barbara is sound asleep already with the ear plugs in, and although I’m on watch until 0400 I’ll let her sleep in until after sunrise. Pipeline Sequence just came on and I cranked it up. It is a comfortable 80 degrees, and I’m wearing my swim trunks, T-shirt and my PFD. Night sailing in the South Pacific. It is only an hour into October 1, and already it is a great day. Just one of many onboard Traveler.

    Wish you were here to enjoy it with us.

    Cheers!Livin the Dream,
    Lat. 17-27 South
    Long. 173-05 East

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — September 30, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  36. Subject: Traveler at anchor near the Volcano
    Date: Oct 3, 2008 6:22 PM
    19 32 S, 169 30 E

    Hi, Everyone,

    We are now at anchor in Resolution Bay (named after Captain Cook’s ship) on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Last night we stood on the edge of the Mt. Yasur volcano, which has been erupting continuously for many years and they say is the world’s most accessible active volcano. You drive up in a four-wheel drive vehicle with a guide on a very rough road of dirt, volcanic ash and rock, park very near the rim, and then walk up a trail from there for about five minutes to the edge of the crater. About every five to ten minutes, the volcano erupts and shoots sparks, molten rock and lava bombs about a thousand feet into the air with a huge explosion that knocks your socks off. It is a shocking experience. In the hour or so that we were there, we were literally blown back from the crater rim by 12 to 15 eruptions, with fireworks of molten lava spewing high into the air. Sometimes the lava bombs are shot out of the volcano and fall over your head, making it very dangerous. The guide said it is better to go at night, not just because the show is more spectacular, but also because you can better see the red hot, firey lava bombs coming at you and step to one side or the other to avoid getting hit. If this were in the US, the government would not let you anywhere near the crater as being way too dangerous. A couple of years ago, a Japanese tourist and her two guides were killed by lava bombs that hit them in the stomach and literally blew them away—their bodies were found far from where they were standing when the volcano erupted. Our guide also told us that just recently an Australia woman nearly died from blood loss and burns when a small lava bomb, just the size of a golf ball, hit her in the leg. It is quire common that tourists will flee in terror, leaving behind their backpacks, cameras, whatever and run away from the crater’s edge in fear for their lives. We got some awesome photos of us standing on the rim with the volcano erupting over our shoulders, just a football field or two away. The sound is incredibly loud, and the volcano can be heard easily ten to fifteen miles away, so you can imagine what it is like to be only a couple of hundred yards from it when it goes off. It is one of the most amazing things I’ve every seen.

    We leave soon for Port Vila, Vanuatu. We have two hitchhikers on board for this passage, a young couple backpacking their way around the South Pacific, PhillipoCimitan (Italian) and Emma Charbit (French). So we hope to have some fabulous meals with a couple of new chefs in the galley!

    Livin’ the Dream,
    Michael and Barbara
    Lat. 19-32 South
    Long. 169-30 East

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — October 3, 2008 @ 6:33 pm

  37. You guys sound like you’re having a ball. We envy you. Bruce leaves for a month or 6 weeks in Montana on October 14. I will fly there for a week November 5. We have a friend there and we’ll be staying with him. Bruce isn’t going to hunt, has no tags, but can hang out with Eddie and his daughter and her family and go hunting with them, with his camera. He will get to fish, photograph, metal detect, scout for them, and observe many species of wild game which we love. I SO want to see and hear wolves, I just love them. Them and the moose!!!! Anyway, it will be a blast and he deserves the time away to enjoy himself. I will miss him a lot, of course, but I will have my part of it to look forward to. Very, very busy here at work and the fact I used so much vacation already this year limit me to a week. We have some big cases coming up and I am jazzed about my “trial assistant” role so I am looking forward to that, too. I guess you guys really like the kava!!!! I liked it a lot too but it wasn’t Bruce’s favorite thing — he said it made him have bad dreams. Well, yea!!! I am glad your voyage is going smoothly now, your rotten luck in Tahiti is behind you, and so now it sounds like smooth sailing. Your travels sound marvelous and I cannot believe all the stuff you’re getting to experience. We loved Fiji a lot and aren’t the people GREAT? Man, we just loved them. At least in Suva you got to do some “regular” things like movies and shopping, I bet that was somewhat of a treat. Yea, economics here at home, and the politics of the upcoming election, are forefront in everyone’s minds and in our faces constantly. But, you know, it can only last so long and then I figure, after the election, things will level out. Well, I gotta run. I am going to a matinee (by myself) of Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Gere. It was a fabulous book and I can’t wait to see the movie — and Richard Gere is always my favorite. Bruce does not do movie theaters (it’s a cop thing) and isn’t much on love stories anyway so he’s opting out. My friend, Denise was going to go with me but her husband wanted to go to Reno for the day so I decided to go solo, never done that before, but I want to see the movie bad enough I will do it. I would much rather be sailing the South Pacific. You guys are so fortunate to have this opportunity, what a glorious time you’re having. We went to Beachcomer Island when we were in Fiji and loved it too. There are so many little resort islands in that chain and I wish you could have gone ashore on more of them. They are all different and all lovely. I hope to return there one day, too. Anyway, enjoy your adventure. Take care and be safe. Don’t drink too much kava!!! By the way, we talked to Matania in Huahine this week (for Bruce’s birthday) and she said Te Tiare Beach Resort is still open, which was a bit of a surprise actually with the economy being what it is. However, the American who owns it is cutting back and all the employees are now being cut to 30 hours per week instead of 40; the shuttle bus only runs to town every two hours now instead of every hour. There are other cuts too but he says he wants to try to keep it open and aflot but I figure it is only a matter of time. Matania is very worried and scared. I feel for her. Richard, the old guy who owns the shuttle boats, you remember him? Well, they had a big storm a couple of weeks back and his huge bit fishing boat at the dock got partially wiped out. He somehow got it to Papeete (? I don’t know how) and got it repaird and then had to sell it. It’s a bad deal there now. It is such a shame cause it’s a lovely place. Gotta run. Love, Bruce and Denise

    Comment by Bruce and Denise Stelzer — October 4, 2008 @ 11:43 am

  38. Hi Barb and Michael. So sorry I haven’t sent an e-mail sooner, but, as you know, a lot has been going on here (healthwise). I am doing much better every day. I am so sorry Barb for not sending you a Birthday greeting. Please forgive me!! I just read the above ventures you both have had and are having and I can’t believe it. You two are experiencing more than most people will in a lifetime. I do hope you are keeping a journal of all your adventures. It would surely make a great book. Who knows ? I’ll be your agent (ha, ha). Bill is doing so well and improves daily. I start physical therapy next week and we are planing on getting out of town in a few weeks. We have cabin-fever!! Please continue to be safe and enjoy! Love, Marsha and Bill

    Comment by Marsha Horsfall — October 4, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

  39. Date: Oct 8, 2008 7:26 AM
    18 23 S, 164 33 E

    We are in route to OZ and expecting a minor squash zone. We have to decide whether to hole up in a reef ‘chesterfiled’ or ride it out.

    Great crew we have with us. Their cooking is fantastic!!
    Hugs, bb

    Comment by Barbara (via JP) — October 8, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

  40. Subject: Traveler on Passage to Oz
    Date: Oct 8, 2008 10:17 AM
    at 0400 on 9 October
    18 27 S, 164 16 E

    Hi, Everyone,
    It is my watch and it is 0400, everyone else (Barbara, Filippo and Emma) on board are sound asleep. We’re still on passage to Australia, just passed the Petrie Reef to port by four miles and we’re approaching the Grand Passage through the northern reefs of New Caledonia. We’re expecting rough weather later today, with some rain, bigger winds (20 gusting up to 30) and big seas (12 foot waves.)
    Ride ‘em, cowboy! This weather could last for four or five days, too.

    Still Livin’ the Dream,

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — October 8, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  41. Subject: Wow, wow, wo!!
    Date: Oct 10, 2008 9:28 AM

    bb here. I surfed to 15.6 kts. Wish I could say I was steering but at least I was on watch to experience it. The autopilot steers better than all of us. We have 22-25 kts, gusting to 32, apparent, and averaging 8.2 with higher surfs. Waves are about 2-2.5 meters. Thank goodness it is down wind. Reminds me of Transpac, or how T-Pac should have been. When I get to OZ, I will get that download and start sending pics more often.
    Hugs, bb

    Comment by Barbara (via JP) — October 10, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  42. Date: Oct 11, 2008 10:48 PM

    We are on passage from Port Vila, Vanuatu to Mackay, Australia (near the WhitsundayIslands), and we’re having a blast. The wind has picked up some, blowing 20to 25 knots, but it is behind us at 120 degrees apparent so it is a fast and funwind angle. We’re doing 8 to 8.5 knots with reefed sails. Yesterday we caughta 48-inch, 22-lbs mahi mahi and sailed 168 miles.

    For the next four months, our expected itinerary is to sail about 7,000 miles fromAustralia to the Red Sea and is outlined below. I’ve divided it up into fourlegs, each about a month long and about 1,750 miles of cruising (dates are estimatesand will likely change a little). If you want to join us, but cannot commit to awhole month, or leg, that’s okay, too. One week, two weeks, or three weeks is okay, too, whatever you can do. We’ll just keep you advised as to where we are and when we’re expected to be at a certain place, and you can join usfor as long as you can.

    Cairns, Australia to Bali, Indonesia
    October 25 to November 25
    Stops and highlights: Sailing up the Great Barrier Reef and around Cape York,seeing the extreme 20 ft. tides of Darwin, going on a trek in search of the KomodoDragon on the island of Flores, and finishing with cocktails in the exotic port of Bali.Bali to Phuket, ThailandNovember 25 to December 21 Stops and highlights: Starting out with one of the most exotic places on the planet, Bali, then sailing up to Singapore, then up a little further to Bass Harborand Port Kelang (Western Malaysia) to visit Kuala Lumpur, and then up to Phuket,stopping at small islands along the way. Fly home from Bangkok.

    Phuket to Mahe, Maldives
    December 21 to January 21
    Stops and highlights: Phuket is one of the most popular destinations in SoutheastAsia, and the best way to see it is by yacht, don’t you think? Of course, spendingChristmas and New Year’s Eve there will be quite memorable. From Thailand, we sail west across the Andaman Sea to either Banda Aceh (place most devastated by the tsunami) or Nicobar before heading over to Galle, Sri Lanka to ride an elephantin the rain forest. Then we may stop at the tip of India at Trivandrum or Cochinto see some of the beauty of that great country, before ending the passage at oneof the most beautiful archipelagoes of the world, the Maldives, with spectaculardiving.

    Maldives to Suez Canal
    January 21 to February 28
    Stops and highlights: Starting the trip in the gorgeous Maldives, we sail westerlyacross the Arabian Sea and through the Gulf of Aden, stopping at Adan (Yemen), Djibouti,Massawa (Eritrea), Port Sudan and Hurghada, Egypt to ride camels and see the GreatPyramids and the Spinx. Then we cruise through the Suez Canal, which takes on average100 ships a day through its 85 miles (no locks). Fly home from Cairo. Note: Weplan on staying at least 150 to 200 nm off the coast of Somalia and will likely be buddy boating with one or two other cruisers and be in daily contact with theCoalition forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden to avoid pirates there. There are 100to 120 ships and boats a day that cruise through the Gulf of Aden and the reportedpirate attacks is averaging two a month, so the odds are good that the only pirateswe come across will be ourselves. Arrrrrgh!

    These are places you do not normally get invited to see or go cruising to. Someof the most exciting places in the world. Great cruising. An adventure of a lifetime.

    New to Traveler since you were on her last:
    Clear plastic side curtains around the cockpit to roll down if rainy or too windy.Nice.
    Solar panels and a wind generator, so we have lots of amps in the house bank to burn.
    New sound system, with 1,000 songs on an iPod and dozens of CDs.
    New engine: more horsepower and reliable.
    Leaks are all fixed.
    Autopilot works great, so watches are easy and comfortable!

    Use up some of those frequent flier miles. Hope to see you soon.

    Let us know,Livin’ the Dream,

    Comment by Michael (via JP) — October 21, 2008 @ 7:12 pm

  43. Glad to see you’re still living the dream! How’s the Leisurefurl holding up?
    Are you finding it beneficial for reefing and furling?
    Best of luck for the rest of the trip, I’m enjoying your updates.

    Comment by PETER HOBMAN — November 26, 2008 @ 12:47 pm

  44. I am the guy you met with MUK in January in Moorea….. Keeping track of you guys..




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