“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” –Jack Kerouac

The day before we arrived into Savusavu on Vanua Levu the ocean was “becalmed” and so we all jumped in at around 10,000 feet deep. I will not lie and tell you I was all cool, calm and collected about this. I jumped in and screamed, let go of the ladder, floundered about for a second and clambered back aboard. We heard if you do this to always get out within ten minutes because oceanic sharks will come. Being third in line to jump in I wasn’t about to become shark bait.

We arrived into Fiji and it was a beautiful cloudy last sail. I always feel a bit of nostalgia at endings but it was time to go. We were packed and our battered backpacks where ready to hit the road. We said goodbye to Karin, Andreas and Happy and thanked them for the voyage. We spent the next two days in Savusavu being a bit glutenous. We were excited to sleep on land again and stayed at a cheap little place run by a nice Indian family. We ate delicious Indian fare, pizza, went to a social club and tried the local beer. We also spent quite a bit of time repacking our bags after realizing we had accumulated way too much stuff. I’ve stopped buying souvenirs when I travel and instead collect magnets and little bits of sand. Ezra never lets me hear the end of how impractical this is when we are trying to cut ounces and I’m adding sand to my bag. Fair enough.

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We took our first flight since leaving the US to Nadi to meet Ezra’s parents! We were beside ourselves with excitement. We started our meeting as usual with lots of hugs, kisses and coffee. Laurie and Dave were troopers after such a long flight and we hopped on a bus down to the Coral Coast. We stayed a couple nights in a cottage reminiscent of the 60s. We loved it and unwound from our travels and focused on being together. The Australian owner Bob was quite a character and cornered us many times while he regaled us with stories and opinions (or should I say prejudices) on everything from American politics to how the Chinese were going to the moon by building a ladder of chopsticks. We smiled, laughed when appropriate, and when he finally gave his leave we roared with real laughter in our cottage.

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The rest of our time on the Coral Coast we walked the beach finding shells, starfish and sea slugs. We went for a horseback ride, a snorkel, visited the sand dunes and an Eco Park. We saw exotic birds and held iguanas and snakes… even Laurie, we were so proud of her! One night we met Ben, a runner, who had just won the 100m and 200m at some competition in Russia. We saw him on posters the rest of our trip. Just a little brush with fame. : )

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We said bye to Bob and headed to a village on the river. We participated in a Kava ceremony, visited a cute little school house where kids sang us songs, took a crazy boat ride up river, swam in a very cold waterfall and went down stream on a bamboo raft. After a fun filled day we headed to Suva until our driver got pulled over. He hailed us a cab who drove to our hotel like a bat out of hell. Dave told him, sure we’d call him tomorrow if we needed a cab. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

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We had two nights at a cool eco lodge but only one hot day in Suva. So we were good little tourists and hit the huge fruit and veg market. Seeing stands of Betel nuts and curious, I made us buy some to try later in the evening. There were some punk kids from then Solomon islands who gave us a demonstration on how to chew the nut with the lime and the leaf all the while probably thinking, “who are these crazy old white people.” Actually they were really nice. The Fijians laughed when we told them we were going to give it a shot. I think they thought it was disgusting, which it is. If you don’t know about it, Google it.

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The rest of the day we ate a lot of Indian food, Ez and I bought gifts for our trip to PNG and checked out the history museum. We made a great salad from the market, drank some wine and decided to try the nut. We all huddled in the bathroom and I almost peed my pants laughing so hard. Of course Ezra and Dave did a thorough internet search on how to properly try it and decided to only start with half after watching a very dramatic tourist get sick on YouTube. Dave on the other hand went for a whole one, said he didn’t feel anything so tried another. After awhile he felt a little hot and that made the rest of us crack up. I don’t get what Betel nut is supposed to do. I never felt anything but happiness from the wine and my family. We would get our fill of seeing it in PNG and it would lose its novelty quickly.

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Next we caught a boat to the Yasawa islands. We stayed at a quiet little place where we snorkeled (Laurie and Dave were snorkeling machines, I was super impressed), took a lot of naps and ate too much. We learned how to weave our own bracelets, Ez and Dave played volleyball with some local guys, we drank more kava and had a bonfire on the beach with our new German friends. Our first night we learned why keeping food in the room was a bad idea. We woke numerous times to rustling and Ezra got up every 30 minutes to usher mice outside and free them from the trash can. They ate our cooler, crackers and whatever else they could sink their little teeth in to. Where’s a cat when you need one?

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Perhaps the funniest part of this trip was Abu, one of the guys in the village, who loved Dave and would hug him and called him “David” the first day. Sometime in the second day he got his name confused and started calling him Jerry. Dave was always too polite to correct him and so he would answer to Jerry. At the bonfire Abu was commenting on how the names Ezra and Angela were names from the Bible (which I think made them like us more) “and so is Jeremiah, right Jerry?” Dave paused, it was the moment of truth, and Dave just said, “yes, yes it is Abu.” And so Dave’s alter ego Jerry was born. Jerry did all sorts of things Dave didn’t, he snorkeled, swam under water into dark caves and later on would win a dancing competition.

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Next hop was to a resort on Nacula. It was a beautiful place and also a little weird. It was like camp for adults with planned activities. Laurie and I tried to husk a coconut and scraped the meat. We never did get around to the jewelry making as this conflicted with the two hours the local tea and cake shop was open. Naturally we felt the need to support this local woman with afternoon treats rather than further our education on the myriad ways in which coconuts are useful. We had one great last snorkel (saw seahorses, clown fish and starfish), walked to a lookout point and took a medicinal walk to learn about traditional Fijian remedies.

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In the evenings there were dancing competitions (Jerry won this), singing national anthems, hermit crab races (mine came in second), swinging a coconut in a sock (between our legs, arms behind our backs) and hitting a beer can across the floor. Yes, it was as bizarre as its sounds. After the forced activities we had kava with some employees and our German friends. The next day it was a shit storm of bad intestinal problems. I’m not naming names but us three girls were all okay. Maybe the guys caught the eBula virus (bula means hello- I know, I’m so clever). We went to the Saw i Lau caves, but after a rough night we came back to our room and took it easy.

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A couple of American girls got the room next to Laurie and Dave. We’re not sure what they were talking/shouting about but they kept saying over and over again “Booola little boy, Bula. Hahahahaha!” We over heard them telling one of the local guys to give his daughter Rachel (she must have been three) kava, so she’ll sleep through the night. We found out they were from New Jersey (this explained a lot) and were communication majors. Well they communicated too much and I was embarrassed to be from the same country. Ezra said it was like they were auditioning for some bad reality show that didn’t exist. Fiji is a fairly conservative country and while at resorts its acceptable to be more casual maybe walking around in only a bikini and a crocheted strip of cloth (all the time) isn’t the best idea, or look. On the boat back to Nadi they strutted around and let it all hang out. They did sit-ups while hanging over the side and pressed their bikini clad butts to the window. Everyone below tried not to look, but it was a train wreck and one couldn’t help but watch and marvel at their level of oblivion. We even snapped some funny pictures. Luckily I had slept in a tent on the beach and was spared from much of their chatter.

On our way back to Nadi we saw Happy anchored and pointed her out to Laurie and Dave. We had only been off two weeks but it felt like forever and it was strange to see her from a distance. I loved many things about sailing but one thing I always struggled with was feeling very removed from the cultures we visited. I liken it to visiting another country but staying in a resort and never leaving the premises. Most of what I love about travel is the day-to-day interactions. Finding a place to sleep, asking where the bus stop is, ordering food. These all add up to getting a feel for the place you visit. Maybe it’s because we went to such remote places that I felt isolated. I know there are sailors who travel differently, but this was an aspect I struggled with in our experience. I suppose if we ever do something like this again, it’ll be on our own and we can decide how to do it.

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Back in Nadi, before the Eashs’ flight, we did a little souvenir shopping and visited a Hindu temple. We took Laurie and Dave to the airport and watched them pack up all our crap (including my sand) to take home. When it was time to say goodbye I was sad to be apart again and I know being gone is hard on our families. I felt grateful for our time together and tried not to focus on how long it would be before we had coffee together again. But for now we’d have our memories of Jerry, chopstick ladders to the moon and the communication girls to keep us warm.


“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” –Jawaharial Nehru

Sailing to tonga I saw the spray from a whale and quick ran to get the others. Ez and Karin were still sleeping (suckers) so Andreas and I ran up just in time to see a humpback fully breach right in front of the boat. It was amazing how close she was… almost a little too close. That day we saw two more whales. A calf was playing on his back and looked like he was waving at us. I guess we’d finally entered the humpback playground of Tonga.

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We spent our time in the Vava’u group. We spent each night at a different anchorage looking at cerulean water and pristine beaches. During the day we snorkeled and swam to the beaches adding to our ever increasing collection of shells, which we would later just have to throw. : (

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We walked into a couple small villages and got a glimpse of their gardens, vanilla farms and homes. Some children, no older than four, were running around throwing machetes at a poor little piglet. I do not believe in spanking but I wanted to spank their naked little buns. Seriously, put the machetes down!

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A couple evenings we had bonfires with our friends we met in Niue and their good friends (Lily, Charlie and Caroline) on Portal a 30 ft monohull. They were really kind people and showed Ez and I their boat knowing we’re interested in getting a small boat ourselves. It was helpful to hear their story and made us feel we could do it too. They were on their way to Vanuatu so we would not meet again but exchanged information and you never know. The world is becoming smaller and smaller.

Another night the Swedes invited their friend Umberto over, a wizened old sailor who told great stories. He kept saying he was going to retire in Tonga, although he hadn’t been working since 1999 (retiring from what?). He was proof that even if you don’t have money (every time he had it he either spent it or gave it away) people help you out and you don’t need much. I’m not sure I’d want his lifestyle but he had a great attitude and constantly said how beautiful everything was (meals, people, life in general). One of his stories was at an Australian airport. Security told him to put on shoes but he didn’t have any (sailors never wear them and he was only there to deliver a boat) and the guard was getting more and more agitated with him. Finally someone slipped him her high heels and everyone was roaring, except the guard of course who had to begrudgingly let him through.

What really made our time in Tonga though (at least for me) was we decided to give swimming with the whales another go and hoped we wouldn’t have a repeat of Niue. We were picked up by a boat full of Europeans. A nice Spanish couple who gave us tips for when we go to Borneo and a French family traveling with two small children (the French are just so cool). Of course I can’t forget our Austrian guide Claudia who felt bad when she didn’t bring us a vegetarian meal (no problem, this happens all the time) and she said she could stop eating meat except for ze sausage. We had such a fun day and guess what, we saw whales! We swam with a mother and her calf. I get goosebumps thinking about it. We took turns and each had about 40-60 minutes total in the water. After each swim we were all so giddy and couldn’t wipe the grins off our faces. Claudia told us a bunch of stories about the whales. When the calves are too playful the mothers scold them. When they misbehave by getting too close the mother calls out and the calf will then keep his fin touching her side, much like a toddler holding a parent’s hand. They are curious of kids and got close to the two little French kids trying to check them out. She also said dolphins love pregnant women because they can see the fetus with their sonar. Amazing, right?

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This was our last stop before getting off Happy in Fiji and I’d been promising the Swedes for months that I would make them a few of my mom’s recipes including a pumpkin pie. In fact they said I couldn’t leave until I followed through. I’m not much of a baker, but suffered through, and was happy they liked our American tradition. It was my parting gift to the Sweets.

Then we headed out on our last sail that would take us to Fiji and on solid land once again. Where the Internet and vegetables are plentiful and seasickness and night watch are a thing of the past. I’m ready.

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“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller

A few months ago I’d never heard of Niue and our guidebook only bothered to give it a few pages of note. It’s the world’s smallest independent nation and “the rock” of Polynesia, whatever that means. So I wasn’t really expecting much. It’s a difficult place for sailors to go because of unprotected anchorage. If the westerly winds start to blow, you often need to take off. After days sailing here I really didn’t want to have to leave right away. It did hold out and we were lucky, because Niue was great. It had really interesting geology being formed from limestone and there were caves riddled throughout the island.

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We rented a car for four days and on my 33rd birthday we checked out some caves, went for a snorkel or two, had a picnic on the beach (treated ourselves to a big salad, olives and oranges) and Ez bought me ice cream. It was such a nice birthday! When I woke the Swedes sang happy birthday to me (in Swedish) and gave me a gift that they knew I’d love (a bag of chips). Later they gave me the night off from cooking and we all ate the chocolate cake I’d baked myself (I finally put my cake decorating classes to use).

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Sailing in the first day we saw whales along the coast. Niue is known for having humpbacks and one night their song woke us up below in our cabin! There are only three places you can swim with humpbacks and Niue and Tonga are two of them. This activity was not really in our budget but I sold a kidney and we did it anyway. Of course the morning before and after the tour we saw whales near our anchorage. Guess how many we saw on our tour? Nada, nothing, zilch. We did see some dolphins and sea snakes while snorkeling at least.

Other days we visited an old abandoned village, walked a bunch of sea treks, stopped to watch rugby, visited some chasm, rock arches, a funny sculpture garden made of junk, a couple markets, more snorkeling and more caves.

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We also made some new friends, Duncan and Jess. They came over for dinner one night and another night had us all over. It’s interesting meeting other sailors and seeing what their style of sailing is. They use some of the old school methods that Ez and I are interested in learning and they had some interesting experiences. We were very happy to meet them.

Its hard to recap Niue because I feel like so much happened while we were there. We spent about a week and I still felt rushed trying to see everything in this beautiful gem of an island. The new Zealand government is trying to promote tourism in the country so maybe we will all hear more about it in the future.

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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” –St. Augustine

The Cook Islands were high up on our list of places we wanted to visit and one of the reasons we decided to sail across the Pacific. We would be spending a week in Aitutaki which we heard was “the next Bora Bora.” Besides being absolutely beautiful, thankfully this did not seem to be true and I hope in the future that it’s able retain its charm and culture.

We seemed to be hitting all the islands at the perfect time for festivals. Aitutaki was no different, it was their week of Independence. A solid week of singing, dancing, parades and plentiful food. (There was a woman who sold the most amazing looking cake. Each night I would go to her stand and wait patiently in line for a slice of perfection, and each night she sold her last piece to the person in front if me. I was so disappointed the last night I thought I would cry.) There was a good turnout at all the events and it was fun watching the older generation take pride in the youth carrying on their culture and customs. Watching the dancing made me feel a little melancholy. I wished I were Polynesian and could wear a grass skirt and beautiful feathers too.

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For such a small island population there were a disproportionate amount of churches, they take their faith seriously. Forget about doing anything on Sunday (there’s not much to do anyway) because everyone goes to church and hangs out with family. All over the island you see signs protesting flights to the island on Sundays. We visited a church that we’d read had really great singing and the congregation wears white the first Sunday of the month. We didn’t understand the service (it was spoken in Maori) but the singing was incredible. Their voices were so loud, haunting is the only way to describe it. Ezra laughs when I say this, but its true. We were invited to watch the singing competition later that night and thought why not. It was a lively event and we got to chat with some guys from the winning choir. On our walk back to the boat everyone who drove by yelled “goodnight, goodnight” to us.

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They were the friendliest people and so relaxed. The guy in immigration came aboard to clear Happy and stayed to chat awhile. He told us they take pride in their island and their friendliness. The people in the capital Raro (Rarotanga) are too stressed out, there’s too much traffic and people aren’t nice. Rarotanga has about 13,000 people and is also a beautiful island in the South Pacific. How stressed out can they be? But this tells you how special Aitutaki is.

One day we rented a scooter and circled the island. I managed to forget what we were doing and put my foot down as we were rounding a corner- almost ripping off my toe in the process. This is why Ez doesn’t take me on his motorcycle I’m sure). We saw the old spiritual houses or Maraes, picked mangos and papayas (Ezra scolded me when I went for one at a Marae. Did I want to piss off any lost spirits still wandering about? Why take chances, fair enough.), treated ourselves to a coffee and splashed in a beautiful lagoon. Another day we drove the dingy out to Maina and Honeymoon islands. (We heard maybe we weren’t suppose to go out into the lagoon unless on a tour. This was not clear though so we took our chances, although it made me a bit nervous, ever the rebel that I am. Ha ha.) Two small perfect little islands that are surrounded by what I think rivals the most beautiful water in the world (or at least what I’ve been lucky to see).

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There weren’t many sailors here because the passage through the reef was narrow and shallow and therefore more difficult to navigate. While I like the sailing community its was nice to be the only boat around, and to meet people where sailing was not the main topic of conversation all the time. It was a wonderful week and we hope to come back to the Cooks someday and do more exploring. Maybe even check out the stressed out island of Raro.

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“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” -C.S. Lewis

It was just a couple days sailing to the Society islands which is what most people think of when they hear French Polynesia. We arrived in Tahiti just in time for the Heiva festival, a week long event of singing, dancing and all sorts of interesting competitions. We saw coconut opening, javelin throwing and stone lifting. We went to Pape’ete to walk around, looked at Tahitian pearls and checked out Pointe Venus which is where Captain Cook went to trace the path of Venus across the sun’s surface. We ate a lot (and I mean a lot) of baguettes and enjoyed using free WiFi at a cafe (which is almost unheard of in the South Pacific).

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From there is was just a couple hour sail to Mo’orea. We were planning to stay only a few days but the winds were strong so we stayed a week until it was safe to head out. Mo’orea was my favorite of the Society islands. We went to a botanical garden and tried fresh jam, walked to a beautiful lookout over the bay, picked fruit off trees (we did this everywhere actually – when we found grapefruit I was practically making love to it while I ate. It would have been embarrassing watching myself) and ate more baguette (we were missing bread… and fruit and vegetables and nuts and tofu. Please anything but more oatmeal, white pasta and canned crap. Maybe the life of a sailor is not for me). One night we stayed up too late and I must have been worn down because I got a pretty bad cold (see above to what I’d been eating). But it was a great place to recover. Ez went for runs and we crashed the Hilton and used their Wifi. We had a lot of trip planning to do, plus Ezra’s parents were meeting us in Fiji and we needed to coordinate with them.

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One night we saw a ring around the moon. We called it a “moonbow.” Later we found out it’s ice crystals that you can sometimes see around a full moon. We wondered if we’d ever see this again. It looked unreal.

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By the time the winds had died down we were behind schedule and had to cut out most of our time in Bora Bora. We did get to check out the town and spent a day walking around. The lagoon was beautiful and while I would have liked more time here, I was actually glad we had traded it for more time in Mo’orea. It seemed more old school French Polynesia to me and I got a better feel for the culture. Bora Bora seemed more of a playground for high end tourists, not that there’s anything wrong with that, its just not what I’m after when I travel (I am also broke and would probably be ushered out of a high end resort. At this point showering was not a common occurrence). I didn’t get much time to explore the island though so I could be wrong. The water was beautiful nonetheless.

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We spent six weeks all in all in French Polynesia and I feel like we really got to see and experience a wide array of islands and met many friendly people. This is a place we will probably never come back to and am grateful for the length of time we got spend here.


“The big question is whether you are going to say a hearty yes to your adventure.” -Joseph Campbell

It was a three day sail to the Tuamotus. The internet tells me they are the largest group of island atolls in the world. I thought I had made progress with being seasick but we hit rough weather and when Karin asked me to come up front and help reef (shorten the sail to slow you down), that was enough to have me hanging over the side. Let me tell you, being slightly seasick for 4-5 months is a great weight loss plan. I’m going to market this when I get home… I’ll be rich!

Honestly, sailing into the atolls I thought they looked a little creepy. It was a cloudy day and here were all these small barren and deserted looking spits of land. I couldn’t help wondering why we came here. When we got to Rairoia we walked around a bit and almost immediately Tatiana and Regis found us and invited us over for dinner. A local couple that were very friendly. You might call them the welcoming committee and maybe also the town drunks. We went to their place and had some drinks and conversation until late into the night (at least late to us sailors, like midnight). She told us all about their pearl business and its decline while insisting we drink Chet a very strong (and I think toxic) peppermint liquor. The next night she caught us again and this time invited us to her cousin’s house for dinner and a bonfire. This was a great night. We met a lot of people and were not forced to witness Regis drink wine straight from the box again (while riding his bicycle). The next night when Tatiana called on the VHF Ez and I bowed out, but the Swedes went off to keep “making a party.” There had been some Norwegians earlier that supposedly hung out with Tatiana and Regis for three days. Not to be outdone, the Swedes were off, and Ez and I got some much needed time by ourselves.

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Before we left we wanted to snorkel the passage (only way in and out of an atoll). Ideally you do this at slack tide. We went with a Brazilian boat that arrived and drifted from our dingy over the corals. I’d never seen anything like it. It looked like a field of brilliant coral with channels running through. This was my first snorkel with sharks which was really cool but also made me nervous. The Swedes kept telling me not to worry, but the night before our host showed us his shark bite that made him afraid to swim for years (his job was a pearl diver and spear fisher) and the Brazilians were snorkeling with knives. Reef sharks are harmless… I’m still not sure I buy it.

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On our way to Fakarava we had a scary night. The wind was really strong and this was the only time we put in all three reefs. In the morning we passed a freighter who told us the forecast would continue to be high winds. So we headed south to Makemo to wait out the weather. Here we swam to shore to look for baguettes and walk around a bit. We motored to the opposite end of the atoll the next day which was a task in heavy rains and someone always on the bow watching for coral heads to avoid. We had a drink once we made it to the other passage to celebrate. (At least Ez and I did. The Swedes, or the Sweets as we started calling them because of their love of sugar, had hot chocolate and a whole bag of marshmallows.) This was on the 4th of July and after a long cold day Karin made us an American meal with our limited ingredients… pumpkin soup and popcorn.

We finally made it to Fakarava! It had a beautiful pink sand beach, sharks everywhere (four always swimming around our boat) and baby black tips swimming in the shallows. We had a bunch of picnics, snorkeled the passage with lots of sharks, barracudas and Napoleon Wrasse. It was incredible! There weren’t enough sharks for the Swedes so we took the dingy out further in the ocean where we found a bunch of gray sharks. I jumped in for a minute to look but I was cold without a wetsuit and nervous of the current and bigger swells without any flippers on. (I had a good pair at home and was too cheap to buy new ones.) Oh alright, ALL the sharks made me a bit nervous too.

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Our last night we had a bonfire on the beach which was a perfect end. I wasn’t sure that I really liked the atolls until we came to Fakarava and it changed my mind.



“Not all who wander are lost.” -Tolkien

On the 13th of June we arrived into Fatu Hiva which is part of the volcanic island group known as the Marquesas in French Polynesia. The first task at hand was not to crack open a beer and relax but to clean the whole boat top to bottom (literally, hours were spent scraping barnacles and seaweed off the hulls. I was tempted to eat it as salad considering my body had not consumed anything green practically for months. Do all sailors think fresh produce is not a necessary part of diet?). Besides this chore, there was a bit of an euphoric feeling after making the crossing and a few other sailors came over for dinner and drinks. Fatu Hiva was so beautiful I have a difficult time finding a better word to describe it. One day we walked across the island to the other village and back again, this gave us 21 miles to take it all in. It also gave us time to enjoy each other’s company and talk through our experience. Using our legs and chatting out of ear shot from anyone else was elating!

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We’ve come to the conclusion that we want a very simple lifestyle. Sometimes we talk about buying land in another country (hmm, what worn torn country can we afford – joking!) and more recently a sailboat (maybe we should start with a rowboat), but we aren’t sure how or if this will fit into a simplistic life. Having more free time makes us want to reevaluate our lives back home. Fewer possessions (do I need so many books?), fewer commitments (maybe we should just stop working- this would free up some time) and more time just to enjoy life. We want travel to continue to be a part of our lives and we bounce around ideas of how to do this with a family.

The rest of our time in Fatu Hiva was spent relaxing on the boat, hiking to a waterfall, taking baths in the stream with flowers floating on the surface (you need to take advantage of fresh water when you’ve got it) and trading with locals for fresh fruit. We were invited over for dinner by two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, Anna and Collin on their boat Ithaka. They were a very grounded and kind couple that have really inspiring stories and experiences. They even made us some vegetarian food they were horrified to realize later they’d made with beef broth. Haha. No wonder it tasted so delicious!

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Then we stayed a couple nights on Hiva Oa to check in. We visited the French artist Paul Gauguin’s grave and checked e-mail the first time in a month. Woohoo! We had what Ezra called WWWW (worldwide web withdrawal). There was no swimming in this anchorage as we were told tiger sharks were in the area and were relieved when we didn’t have to jump in to scrub the boat some more.

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Our last stop in the Marquesas was Tahuata so we could swim with manta rays. It took us a bit of time to find them in deeper water but once we did it was incredible. There must have been twenty of them all feeding on phytoplankatan. They seemed pretty curious and I was a little alarmed when they swam right at me before quick turning away. They were incredible creatures! We took another swim, had a little picnic on the beach and that was our time in the Marquesas.

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sailing the ocean blue

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”  -Mark Twain

Alright, twenty-three days at sea, this is what happened…

For having a lot of time on our hands, the days were fairly structured, to my disappointment (aren’t sailors supposed to be laid back?). We each had a shift for day watch, cooked either lunch or dinner (more about the food situation later), washed dishes and had night watch. Every activity takes a lot longer on a boat than at home. For example, after bumping your way to the bathroom you need to pump flush (unless its our toilet and half the time it didn’t flush which meant going up, throwing a bucket over to get water and bumping your way back to throw it in the bowl), pry your hatch open to throw out your paper and carefully, very carefully, turn the faucet slightly on to use some precious fresh waster. Going pee could easily take 5x the amount of time than it should. Unless you’re a dude and can just pee off the side. I did ask Ez to stop doing this while we sailed though because we heard that a lot of drowned sailors have been found with their flies down.

We did watch beautiful sunrises and sunsets and myriad marine life added some excitement to the days. It was not uncommon to wake with flying fish and squid all over the deck as they made their kamakaze flight on board. Sometimes we saw dolphins playing off the bow and once we heard them speaking (is this what they do?) below in our cabin.

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A few days in a French family passed us on their catamaran. We spoke over the VHF and took pictures of each other passing by. This is very exciting when there is nothing between you and the horizon in all directions. Shortly after we saw a pod of whales breaching. Other than that, we saw only one other boat in those weeks at sea. It was just the Swedes and the Americans on a 38ft boat.

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In our free time we read a lot of books. Ez read Mark Twain and studied constellations and knots. I read about homesteading, simple living, herbalism and trashy novels. He would stay up and teach me what he learned (he wasn’t as interested in my current educational choices). We listened to books on tape about Buddhism and planned a lot for our upcoming travels. We had great conversations about the future and what we want from our lives. Some nights I would just stare at the dark night for those hours and try desperately not to fall asleep in the process.

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Of course I am glossing over all the difficult parts (its not productive to think about how fast you could go 3000 nautical miles in a car versus 5 knots by sail) but by the end we had really enjoyed the experience of the long passage and at times is was incredibly peaceful. I felt more confident navigating, could jibe by myself and started to feel more comfortable sailing overall. This was all until a few days before landfall and we saw cockroaches onboard. That made me ready for land and some alone time. Four people on a small boat can feel a bit crowded and I wasn’t excited for the new stowaways.


we made it!


“Adventure is worthwhile.” -Aristotle

Our first sail was to the Galapagos and it was a bit of a rough start for our beginning forays into the world of sailing. We had headwinds and after a couple days decided to turn back to Las Perlas, Panama to wait for better weather. After a couple days we decided to head off again even though we never got the winds we were hoping for, as they weren’t as common this late in the season.

This second attempt took nine exhausting days. It was cold, windy and no one slept well. The sea was rough and when in bed you’d lose contact with the mattress as we’d crest over a wave and be in a free fall. It was jarring to say the least! Our first night watches were unnerving and I felt like I clung to my safety harness looking for boats and other perils while trying to figure out how to navigate. (We had come across small fishing boats, got tangled in their lines and had to cut ourselves free. The fishermen were not happy with us and so we apologized and paid them back with beer and a coke. They made us nervous and we were not always convinced of their trade given our proximity to Colombia. We were concerned about a whole different kind of coke.) But it was also enthralling watching the phytoplankton and jellyfish light up as we sliced through a field of them.

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One night we were awakened by a horrible noise and I literally think my heart missed a few beats. It was 4:00 am and my first thought was that the boat was sinking! Well, no we weren’t, in fact we were crossing the equator. Sailors like to make an offering to Neptune as they cross over, sometimes baptizing themselves in the ocean. Given it was the middle of the night, rough seas and freezing, we decided not to take a dip. Instead our captain dressed himself in green and banged on a pot with his trident of forks. As an offering to the god of the sea we all did a song and dance to appease him and for a safe crossing.

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When we saw the Galapagos from a distance land never looked so good. We spent most of the week on the island of Santa Cruz. We went to El Chalto reserve and saw the giant tortoise in the wild (one hissed at me). We spent all day walking and so a nice woman who worked on the reserve gave us a ride back to town in her gravel truck. We went to the Darwin center and learned how they were protecting the baby turtles, visited a beautiful beach, saw salt flats and went to a chasm. Interesting animals were everywhere, marine iguanas, seals (they got up on the boats), sally lightfoot crabs and pelicans (one took a snap at me) to name a few.

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It’s hard to get around independently because everything is protect. So we took a boat to the bigger island of Isabella. There we went to another Darwin center, saw flamingos, seals (one barked at me), penguins and lots of sharks. We even went for a very cold snorkel.

Our week in the Galapagos was up and it was time for the big crossing to French Polynesia. I was nervous for this after the last sail. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be at sea for so long. But as I would find out this first sail would be some of the roughest we would encounter and it would literally be all down wind from here.

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leaving panama

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”  -John A Shedd

We met “The Swedes” (otherwise known as Andreas and Karin) out for dinner and drinks to make sure none of us were too crazy and get any remaining questions answered before we joined them on the Pacific crossing. We got a good feel for them and decided to go for it. Sailing has long been a dream of mine but it always seemed a little out of reach. Last summer Ez and I took sailing lessons and joined a sailing club but wanted some more experience other than in the calm Minnesota lakes. So this plan of becoming crew was hatched and here we are, in Panama and ready for what we hope will be quite the adventure.



It was an interesting first few days learning how to provision for such a massive passage. It was an epic shopping experience (one I hope to never repeat) – three solid days of running around Panama City just buying food. (Another day was spent just filling up water and Diesel.) We filled somewhere in the ballpark of 12-15 grocery carts. Months later we would still be savoring the delicious canned goods on the other side of the Pacific.

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One of our taxi drivers was horrified at what we were about to do (although he was driving us around a little loopy on pain killers-you tell me what’s more dangerous) and so pulled out an 8×11 laminated picture of Jesus (who doesn’t have one of these under their visor?) to take with us on our voyage.  We kept our savior in the hanging fruit basket and asked him to watch over us and our passion of the fruit.  Maybe even turn a few pieces into wine.  We had a great many chats with him in the upcoming months.

I was glad when that tool show was over and we were ready for our first sail out of Panama City. We were finally on our way to Las Perlas islands, a six hour day sail. We were giddy with excitement and I had a hard time processing that we’d made this happen. We spent the next week on the islands of Contadora and Espírito Santo getting used to the our new routine and discovering what life on a sailboat was all about.  How do I do dishes?  Do the solar panels produce enough electricity to power my e-reader?  How often can I shower? We got the answers to these questions quickly.  One night while rinsing my hair with salt water (you use just a bit of fresh water at the end to rinse) I noticed bioluminescense dripping from my hair and hands.   I’m sure this is the closest I will ever be, to feeling like a fairy.  It was an absolute beautiful moment.

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We also beached the boat to do some repairs on the rudder. It was quite an interesting day sitting on a catamaran, on the beach.  Repairs were made, the tide came up and thankfully we were out at sea once again.

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