Saturday, May 19, 2007

On to Fiji

May 11, 2007
Suva Harbor, Viti Levu, Fiji Islands
coordinates 18.07.369S, 178.25.782E

After an 8 day crossing we had the islands in our sights. What started as a delightful sail turned into quite a busy experience for us. After a couple of glorious and sunny days of sailing we were aware that big winds and weather were on the way. Prepared as we were, the 35-45 knot winds and 3-4 meter seas for the next few days were not necessarily comfortable but not a big problem. As they passed though things started to unravel. As the saying goes, if it could go wrong it did.

Right off the bat the fridge and freezer decided to act up soaring to new temperature highs. Next the water maker stopped desalinating up to our standards. The engine began to lug down to a near dead stop and not have the power it usually does. An issue we had thought we addressed in the marina but were not sure now. We ended up changing the alternator 4 times including rebuilding one with our two combined backups before the heavy weather hit. The engine never did have it's usual pep but it
hung in there questionably when we needed to use it for charging the batteries.

As the heavy weather hit we took many a breaking wave over the stern knocking out the autopilot and shorting out lights in the cockpit. Truly one of the toughest parts is the sleep deprivation, the root of all evil. The noise created by the large breakers hitting the boat night and day disrupts any sort of decent sleep. After 48 hours of howling winds and the weather began to die down. Aside from electrical issues we seemed no worse for the wear. Now with a nominal 10 knots of wind we had to
motor sail. Some how in only the lightest of winds with a reefed main a 10 - 12 ft. seam in the main sail let loose. There was no big blow out, no flogging of sails, so we figure there must have been some worn stitching that just decided to let loose. We took that sail off and put up just the jib to help motor sail as well. Not long after that a strange sound arose and we found by some fluke of nature we back winded the jib to find the spreader spearing right through it. Two sails down.

Five days out and lots of motoring ahead and again the engine didn't sound well, running itself down to nearly a complete stop at times. We nursed it along, changing filters, changing fuel tanks and deciding that we had best get at least one sail repaired if possible. We knuckled down and we hand stitched around the clock, we figure 3000 stitches. We weren't sure at this point if we would have enough fuel to make it to Fiji. We could definitely feel the changes in latitudes as the temperature
in the cabin was soaring into the 90's. Running the engine only exacerbates that inside the cabin. Each time we turned around though small things continued to plague us, the fridge and freezer continuing their rising temperatures, GPS would randomly go on the blink, computers would stop working when we least expected it, the clock stopped, new batches of batteries right out of the pack wouldn't work. We were beginning to think we were in some new Bermuda type triangle. We limped into Suva with
a beautiful sunrise on Friday, dropped anchor in 8 feet of muddy water in front of the Royal Suva Yacht Club and looked in awe at the busy port working around us. One sail repaired, the engine stuck in there with us the whole way, the fridge and freezer decided to come back to life and some friendly Fijian custom agents boarded our boat and checked us into the country. Listening to the various nets we realized we still had much to be thankful for as other boats lost their autopilot all together
and had to hand steer nearly the whole passage.

Our first journey onto shore brought much fun and surprises. Enjoying the differences between the mix of Fijian and Indian culture here, you can get a taste of both worlds. The open air market is full of familiar and still new foods for us. We found new sea weeds treats, Indian jack fruit, and of course the coveted Kava root that we will be delivering as gifts to the chiefs of the various islands we meet. We almost had the boys married off to an adorable little Indian gal in the first few hours.
It may be a long journey. We will continue to repair a few of our projects here in Suva for a couple of days and then head to the outer islands in search of more fun and adventure.
until then, Bula!
your crew on Ohana Kai

Friday, March 30, 2007

Traveled the South Island

March 31, 2006
Kia Ora from New Zealand,
We are finally back on the boat after our visits with family and road trips around the South Island and back. It was amazing fun to see our families and share a bit of the country with them. There were so many things to see and do, here are just a few of the highlights.
Rotorua - The largest tourist draw for the north island, famous for their mud pools and hot water springs, along with which comes the constant odoriferous sulfur smell. We had the great joy of staying on the Lakes Ranch Christian Camp facilities where our family friends the Clifford family reside. The boys had trampolines, swimming pools, swings, horses, goats, kayaks, and abseiling at their finger tips to share with our hosts children Caleb, Owen and Terah. I am surprised we got them back on the boat.
Auckland - the Auckland Museum has to be one if not the best museum we have seen. Three floors take you through New Zealand's land, cultural and war histories like none other. We even went twice and I wouldn't hesitate to go again.
Sheep World and the Agrodome - of course no trip to NZ is complete without one of these shows and yes we saw both. We now know how to tell the difference between 19 different sheep, feed, sheer, separate and hunt them up. One facility is larger with much more to see and the smaller is much more personal, take your pick.
The Bay of Islands themselves - a special treat to be able to take both sets of parents out for a few days and enjoy the blue sky to sail under, green islands to hike over and clear water to snorkle in.
The South Island - As we arrived they were having their first big cold snap of the year so there was no camping for us this time around. You could spend months and a whole lot of money traveling here. We spent nearly 3 weeks and as little money as we could possibly do and still they find a way to part you from it. Our favorite parts were:
Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers - where you can nearly walk right up and touch them.
Wanaka - this cute little town boasts it all. Every sport, hobby and adventure at their fingertips. Our boys were thrilled to spend the day at Base Camp Indoor Rock climbing gym where they could clip and climb all by themselves. We also put ourselves through Puzzle Worlds outdoor maze in just over a half hour.
Queenstown - chilly, we saw snow down on the foothills. We toured the Kiwi bird reserve and got our first peek at the cute little creatures.
Milford Sound - We met up with the curious Kea birds. Large looking parrots that love to pick rubber pieces off of cars.
Invercargill - we could safely say we were the closest to Antarctica that we had ever been.
Dunedin - we celebrated church in the first church of New Zealand and then we indulged ourselves, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate - we visited the Cadbury Factory!!!
Christchurch - Bruce got a bit of kite boarding done.
Waipara Valley - We had the great chance to help out on a farm in the absolutely picturesque valley with our friend Su Kay. The boys and I had our first taste of tending to the vineyards, herding the lambs, feeding the deer and mending the fences. We slept really well after all that work.
One more ride on the Bluebridge Ferry across Cook straight and we high tailed it back to the boat. Usually excited to a stay in the hotel we were more than excited to be back on our home with our own beds to curl up in.
Since our return to the boat, the northland is feeling the effects of some tail ends of cyclones stretching down here and have experienced 3 months worth of rain in 36 hours. Our little town of Opua was temporarily cut off from civilization as the roads have eroded away, rivers flooded and homes and gardens potentially sliding away. Good thing we are on a boat. Temporarily without power and water, this is still the best place to be. Hope all is well with you as your spring approaches and we enjoy autumn in NZ.
the crew of Ohana Kai

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Traveling Northland NZ

Greetings from Ohana Kai. We have certainly been busy in this New Year. The second week of January we got used to life as fishy out of the water. We hauled the boat out and "put her on the hard" as they say to get some work done. We were really pleased to see how well the bottom paint had held up all this time. A quick sanding, a couple new coats and she's nearly ready to go. A few more projects involving the rigging and the prop completed and she was back in the water by Monday. whew. As fun as the new location was for the boys with a spectacular hill for exploration behind us, this climbing the ladder business to use the restroom is for the birds.

Christmas celebrations and Santa were good to us this year. We enjoyed a quieter than usual but none less special celebration of all gifts we have been given in our lives. Surrounded by our boating family we had a spectacular dinner with our favorite fleet complete with Diana from White Swan, and Bob in spirit as he tended to his brothers health at home on Port Townsend. Sarabi hosted and the Kelly's and Capaz crew were all present. A white elephant gift exchange still has people wondering who got the snazzy boxers and who wants the rat. New Years was complete with a fire works display from the nearby town of Pahia. We celebrated in style on the end of the wharf with our pals from Diva complete with a toast of champagne. The boys saw their first midnight though Dad nearly missed it.

We spent the next few weeks wrapping up our projects in the great anticipation of spending the majority of our time left in NZ with visits from both sets of grandparents. I can safely say this event is bigger than Christmas around here. The countdown started long ago! We have managed to slip in a few more short and sweet camping trips. Best of all has to be our journey to Shipwrecks Bay or Ahipara Beach on the north west side of the north island. You have to see it to believe it as mini-vans to quads traverse beach and tide pools at low tide to reach around the sand spits. All this in order to find the right stretch of land that won't go under as the tide comes in. We only had to push the Kelly's car out of soft sand a couple of times. We all had a bit of fun surfing there and Kelly boy, Tristan and Matthew braved sand tobogganing. As it's name suggests, riding your boogie board down 100+ foot high sand dunes. Hot and Sandy!

Bruce has completed his kite boarding lessons from some new pals Su and Dave Kay of Ruakaka Kite Sports. They are champion kite boarders here in NZ and champion people to boot. Congratulations Su on her 3rd straight National Title down in Nelson NZ.

Now that we are finally getting our computers back in working action (salty air, pitching seas and electronics don't like each other), we will be getting the web site back on track in the next few months and up to date. When the internet is running it is usually strong enough to call people and chat. So... your goal is to download the free web program SKYPE at, and we will be able to talk to you and you can see us for free. Did I mention FREE. If you get any microphone that can plug into your computer it will work to chat with us. If you brave the little camera that goes with it we can see you.

That's all for now. Hope your winter is slowing down and your spring just around the corner. We'll be exploring the north island with family for the next 5 -6 weeks and let you know all that we find. Sheep shearing and mud pools here we come!
until next time,
Lisa and the boys

Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas from New Zealand

This is a whole new Christmas routine for us as we streamline our camping routine and hit the back roads. No snow here. We took a few days with our pals the Kelly's from s/v Moorea and car camped on the beach in Tutukaka. A splendid long soft beach, perfect for the boys to skim board to their hearts content. A local surf school gives lessons and rented us some boards for a fun day of surfing. A great intro to New Zealand waters for us.

It doesn't necessarily look like Christmas is coming anytime soon around here as Kiwi's don't really decorate the outside of their houses like we might at home. Never fear, Christmas paper crafts have exploded inside the boat and ornaments abound. Due to the fact that it is summer vacation here in New Zealand right now and the sun doesn't set until fairly late at night, there isn't a lot of time to view pretty twinkling lights outside. They are also getting ready to go camping and tramping (that would be trekking or hiking to you and me). They set out for their summer vacations the day after Christmas. They are having an unseasonably cool spring/summer start so you don't want to waste a minute of that great weather when it comes.

No matter where you are this season and how you are celebrating it we truly hope you are sharing all the gifts that we have received in this life with all those around you.
all our love,
the crew of Ohana Kai

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Zealand!!!

Land Ho or Lanaho in Hawaiian. We will have to find out the translation now in Maori.
We made landfall in Opua, on November 13 and hit the ground running. We couldn't have asked for a better introduction to this new world. Gliding along toward a spectacular setting sun with 30 knots of wind at our back and calm seas was the perfect way to end our 7 day crossing from the Tongan islands. Apparently we got out of there just in time as riots and trouble occurred the following month in Nuku Alofa. Our crossing though rather uneventful dished out a little bit of every type of weather. 15 foot seas and 25 knot winds on the nose. Complete flat calm with steep seas or flat seas. Continuous days of water over the bow. We sailed East, we sailed due West, and eventually we made it South. We have to say though that there was something amazing about reaching this destination over any other.
First impressions are it looks and feels a lot like home. Rhododendrons, azaleas, jasmine mixed in with kiwi's and palm trees. We could be cruising anywhere up in the San Juan Islands in early spring for all we know minus the funny accents and people still driving on the wrong side of the road. Though they say summer is on it's way here we are often found running around in long sleeves, pants and fleece vests. Big babies we've become. It has all the flare of the pacific islands and all the comforts of home. There are more varieties and choices in the stores than we could have ever dreamed of. A bit overwhelming at first.
In our first week we cleared customs, bought a mini-van, placed the boys in a local school for a couple of days and then sat down to catch our breath. Whew. We have quickly assimilated to life on the docks and are thoroughly enjoying out 6 min. $1.oo HOT showers any time we like, connected to endless power, free water, and lots of room with friends for the boys to roam and run. Bruce has mastered the internet when it is running and we can even listen to our favorite radio station KMTT The Mountain at home, skype our friends and family, and yes, he found a download to watch television. We can catch Comedy Central or watch the latest football game when the airwaves are just right. We even watched the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade! Week two and three were spent helping our friends on Lawur as they emptied out their baby and put her on the hard and up for sale, while they returned home to Austria for some family time with the grandparents. In between there somewhere we celebrated Thanksgiving at the local yacht club, explored some other marinas father down south, took a yoga class, learned how to make glass beads, the boys got in a Saturday morning of dinghy sailing with the local kids club, Bruce has joined a gym, we go trail running, we took a road trip to explore the north tip of the island discovering the ancient Kauri forests and the gum diggers, of course while scoping out the best surf spots. As with this whole journey, one of the best parts are the wonderful people we get to meet. We had the opportunity to swing around on a true circus trapeze at a fantastic Adventure World Park run by some dear new friends, Carol and Freddy Osler-Weppenaar. Once the greatest trapeze acts in the world, they have set up a park that allows you to experience the fun of their world by doing just that "flying from the trapeze" among other things like a high tight rope walk. See mom, all those years of driving me to gymnastics practice paid off.
We have managed to get moving on some of our boat projects and begin to lay out a game plan for the duration of our stay here. We look forward to some visits from family while we are here and continue to explore the north and south islands of New Zealand. The land of the extreme tourist sports we already have our eye on quite a few adventures like kite boarding, black water rafting, kayaking, camping and climbing. The good old everyday rituals still apply like school each morning, cleaning, and shopping. We are making sure though that we try to enjoy each minute here until we decide what to do with ourselves come next April.
until next time,
Lisa and the boys