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Archive for the ‘Oceania’ Category:

Melbourne

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

MelbourneAustralia, Australia, Australia. It’s good to be in Australia. I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s the final destination on my journey after 4 and a half months of living on a boat and 10 months away from home. I would have liked to spend more time here but responsibility calls and I need to get back into the swing of a normal life.

I decided to fly from Brisbane to Melbourne; it just made more sense. Beacho convinced me that I wouldn’t be missing much by traveling over land and this way I’d get to see more of Melbourne. Sydney is expensive, he said. I’m staying at his place on Separation Street, in the Northcote neighborhood, with his bandmates and his girlfriend. I parted with Mike and Vick on Island Buoy and left them to transport the boat from Brisbane down to the Gold Coast. We spent our last day together cleaning the boat from bow to stern. Mike got a working visa is going to look for employment in Oz before he gets on another boat heading west. Vick’s plan is to stay with his dad around Brisbane and eventually return to South Africa.

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In Australia

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Island Buoy arrived in Australia yesterday afternoon. We are tied up at Rivergate Marina, surrounded by industrial warehouses and office parks. Quarentine and customs went smoothly. Now I have to get my bearings and figure out how to get to Melbourne. Was thinking of going over land but given the sparse time I have flying seems more feasible.

Will update more about the trip over and photos sometime in the future (hopefully).

Fiji

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

FijiI have recently made some decisions to alter the course of my planned trip. I decided to leave Marlin and sail on another boat, Island Buoy, going directly to Brisbane. At the heart of my decision was my desire to get back to California in time to see my brother before he leaves on a year-long trip and my preference to spend my time in Australia rather than Vanuatu and New Caledonia, both of which countries Marlin will be making stops at. I lucked out finding a boat going directly to Brisbane because otherwise I would be flying to Australia. I said I was going to sail to Australia, and doggonit, I still want to finish the job.

Island Buoy is a delivery job. She’s a 30 ft Rayvin catamaran, much shorter than Crystal Blue Persuasion. The skipper is a young South African and the crew member a Canadian. They seem like a fun bunch.

Bringing my trip to a close, I’ve been taking a look at airfare home. I originally intended to use credit from Hawaiian Airlines flight that I booked last year from San Francisco to the Philippines. The ticket I purchased to the Philippines was because I originally intended to start my journey there. When that plan fell through, I canceled the ticket and found that it was neither transferable or refundable. Oh well, I thought, I can just use the credit to fly home from Australia. Not so. As it turns out, the credit is only good between Manila and San Francisco. And I still have to pay a $200 booking fee. This is what happens when you don’t read the fine print. I just took a look at flights from Melbourne to Manila, and it looks like it will still be cheaper for me to fly to Manila in order to use my Hawaiian Airlines credit. But it’s going to be a flying hell. My flight from Melbourne to Manila will have a stop-over in Kuala Lumpar and my flight from Manila to San Francisco will have a stop-over in Honolulu. Is it really worth the distress to save say $500? Should I forget my credit and fly non-stop Melbourne to San Francisco? I haven’t bought my ticket yet because I don’t have my credit card on me, so it’s still up in the air, but I’m probably going to go the cheap route.

It’s about 1500 nautical miles from Denarau to Brisbane and the skipper estimates it will take about 2 weeks. With luck, I’ll be able to meet the Electric Jellyfish on tour in Brisbane. They are the friends that I wanted to visit in Melbourne anyway.

I’ve been enjoying my last days in Suva with my old crew mates Tom and Jan. We’ve hardly left the yacht club because it’s got all the entertainment we like (and jugs of beer are only $5). There are no hard feelings between us. Tom’s looking for crew, but if he doesn’t find any, him and Jan are perfectly capable of sailing Marlin by themselves.

I’ll update everyone back home when I finally have my flight booked.

Niuatoputapu, Tonga

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

NiuatoputapuSorry again for the sparse updates. It’s partially because the Internet is scarce and partially because there’s nothing really doing on these islands. I usually sleep at least 10 hours a day while we are at anchor and the biggest dilemma of the day is choosing between either rice or pasta with either corned beef or canned tuna for dinner.

Right now I’m in Niuatoputapu, Tonga. The name means “forbidden coconut.” This is the least populated-populated island that we’ve been to, with about 1010 people living here. In fact, there was a death here the other day so I guess the population is now 1009. The island is far away from the other Tongan islands and on the way from Samoa to Fiji. An 8 person airplane stops once a week and a supply boat comes about once a month, weather depending.

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Samoa

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

The HitchhikersSorry, it’s been a while since I’ve updated. I’ve been having too much fun in Samoa to write and before this were were 8 days on an almost deserted island. We set out to leave Bora Bora twice before we finally left. The first time the wind was too strong and on the nose. The second time there was no wind whatsoever. Then, like Goldilocks, the third time was just right.

The “deserted” island we went to was Suwarrow. It’s a national park of the Cook Islands. There was one family that lives there as caretakers for 8 months out of the year. There were also anywhere from 5 to 7 boats anchored there. The first night we arrived, there was a BBQ amongst all the boats on shore. We passed the days snorkeling and fishing, usually unsuccessfully. When it wasn’t too windy we tried trolling in the dinghy. Otherwise we fished off the boat. There were plenty of sharks in the lagoon, about the length of my arm. Sometimes we caught them fishing, other times they would steal our fish before we could reel them in.

Three boats left Suwarrow at the same time, headed for Apia, Samoa. It took us 4 days. By the first night on sea, we were no longer in eyesight of each other but we all ended up getting into Apia the same day, within 5 hours. Arriving on a Sunday, we weren’t allowed to leave the marina until we were checked into the country, which would have to be done on Monday. Luckily, Radek, a Czech guy from another boat, managed to sneak out and smuggle in some beers for the night. We had spent the previous 20 days sailing and on Suwarrow completely dry, as in no alcohol, so we were extremely eager to wet our whistles. In fact, our whistles have been well wetted every night since.

So far, the highlight of Samoa has been our hitch-hiking out to the east coast and staying at the Taufua Beach Fales. “Fale” is a Samoan beach hut. The huts were nice enough; it was the hitch-hiking that was the highlight. A great way to see the countryside and meet the people. Everyone here has been really friendly and we had no troubles getting rides. I can safely say that Samoa has been my favorite place since I left Ecuador.

Now it looks like we will be leaving on Monday for Fiji. Maybe Wednesday. Who knows?

P.S. Here are photos from Samoa

Bora Bora Bora Bora

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Bora BoraMarlin arrived in Bora Bora last Friday afternoon. We spent two extra days in Moorea waiting for the wind to die down. When we went out on Tuesday we were doing 8 knots with a reefed main and the waves were tossing us around. It was so blustery, in fact, that I lost my hat, never to be seen again. We had a boat meeting 10 minutes outside the reef and decided to go back. It’s a little over a day’s sail to Bora Bora and we figured we were on vacation. Why not wait for more pleasant conditions?

In every anchorage we go to we meet a bunch of other boats who are doing the same thing and usually organize potluck between a couple of them. A lot of them also have websites, so now I will give them a shout out. Coromandel Quest Tom knew from Panama. They greeted us with breakfast our first morning in Tahiti. Zephyr we also met in Tahiti and later on in Bora Bora. The skipper is South African and he traded his Polish crew member for a Canadian in Tahiti. The Polish guy had actually emailed Tom in January to see if he could crew on Marlin but was too impatient to wait till March. In Moorea we met O’Flo, which was a catamaran with 11 people on board. I think there were 5 originally but they had friends come out to visit while they were in French Polynesia. Lastly there is Ragaine II. They fly under the Lithuanian flag and we’ve been hanging out with them in Bora Bora.

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Moorea

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Cook's BayOur second day in Papeete, while I was lounging in the cockpit, a fellow was waving his hand at the gate to our dock trying to get my attention. He was waving and pointing to what I later learned was a six pack of Hinano. Feeling lazy and figuring he wasn’t looking at me or was mistaken, I ignored him and kept reading my book. Eventually, the guy from the boat across from me got up to let the stranger in and I figured that he knew the guy. A moment later they were all on the boat next door having a beer.

Not too long afterwards a tall, head-shaven Scandinavian-looking guy came up our boat and said, “So I hear you guys are looking for crew? That’s great because I’m looking for a boat to crew on.” I agreed with him that the situation was beneficial for both of us and we were both surprised at how easy it was to find crew and/or a boat on which to crew in Papeete. Almost every boat crossing the Pacific stops here and it’s not so isolated by air as it is by water. These properties give people the freedom to switch boats or quit on sailing altogether, like Brad did. I referred Jan (that was his name) to the captain because I didn’t want to assume any responsibility that wasn’t mine.

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Tahiti

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I’m still alive and doing quite well, although it is very difficult to get to the computer and write a little bit about my trip. I’m right now at an Internet cafe in Tahiti and paying about $10 an “huere” to use it. I just finished 3 pitchers of beer with Brad, each costing $26. Suffice to say, I’m no longer in 3rd world South America but the Imperial playground of a European heavyweight. Tahiti is probably the biggest city I’ll see until Cairns, Australia.

Brad and I always joked about making a newspaper for Marlin. Had we followed through, the biggest headline of the Marlin Wake, (that was the name I gave the fictional paper) would be: “HURSH TO JUMP SHIP!” Two days ago, the crew of Marlin was enjoying the good weather and wind when abruptly Brad said, hey guys—. I was startled by his assertiveness and waiting to hear something profound like, I think we should have beans tonight for dinner, instead of pasta. Then he came out with: I’m going to get off the boat in Tahiti. This was the last thing on either Tom’s or my mind and we both took our time to process the curious statement. At first I thought he was just making funny, a sarcastic comment that we usually make to each other to make the days go by. Then he elaborated, as if he could tell we would need more of an explanation for such change in the universe of Marlin and to prove he wasn’t pulling our legs. He said, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and I wanted to make sure. Ever since we left the Marquesas. I know it’s a decision that I’ll regret but I’ll regret more not going. But I know that once I’ve made up my mind, and that I’ve begun to think about the other possibilities, that I now have to go.

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Land Ho!

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

29 days and 14 hours since leaving Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, we dropped anchor for the night in a little cove on Ua Huka Island of the Marquesa Archipelago in French Polynesia. After making this epic ocean crossing people usually comment about how vast the great Pacific is, which I now know. It’s so vast that I can’t even comprehend the distance. If it weren’t for the stars and the sun we could have been going in circles or sailing on some giant treadmill. We counted down time and distance remaining everyday but in vain. It wouldn’t get us there faster and each day we made an almost respectively negligible amount of progress, averaging maybe 120 nautical miles a day. After a week I had to adjust my conception of time and way of life. I told myself that I was starting a new life whose universe consisted of the boat, everything on it and everything around us within eyesight and it would remain that way until we reached the Marquesas, whenever that would be.

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