Sunday, May 26, 2013

An Update

It's late. And tomorrow is my last day of work. Again. So I'll keep this short. Krister and I have been working in the Bay Area for the last five months, but we're about to leave on another adventure next Friday. We've been haphazardly getting ready, making plans and figuring "things" out. So what's next for us?
We're headed to Alaska for the summer. Krister and I, along with his brothers and Rick, will be working on fixing the foundation of the homestead, cleaning up the little cabin, and building a guest house. Should be a sweet time to reconnect with family, ourselves, and land.  When the summer's over things are a bit hazy. We're hoping to visit the midwest to reconnect with family and friends. Then maybe head back to the boat for a few weeks to check in and keep up on maintenance. We'll keep you posted, but as things stand now, the cruising kitty isn't big enough for south east Asia.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Holidays down-under

Krister and I continue to enjoy ourselves in Brisbane. The holidays are not the same as when we were kids, or when we were in the States, but they are jolly fun anyway. White boomers, Christmas crackers, minced pies, custard, and summery picnics with friends...

King George Square

Christmas day cruiser picnic
Opening a Christmas cracker
We three kings?
Christmas morning on Convivia; Lego mania!

Merry Christmas Britannia; our new fiberglass propane tank!

This is likely to be the last post for a while as we won't be traveling through exotic destinations anytime soon. Our cruising kitty needs replenishment so we're taking a break while we decide where to go and what to do next. Thank you to all who followed us through the blog across the Pacific.

Wishing you all happy adventures!
The Britannia's
Brisbane CBD from the dinghy dock

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Week in Brisbane

We've had a wonderful week in Brisbane! Our cruising schedule has been shattered; we do more than one thing a day. In fact, sometimes we do four or more things! It's hard to keep track of it all. With miles (kilometers) and miles of biking and walking trails throughout the city, we've had a great time getting our land legs back. Krister and I are running again and looking forward to taking advantage of the natural climbing wall at Kangaroo Cliffs across the river. And now that we're in a marina, there's plenty of fresh water for showering. We're moored right downtown in the business district within walking distance to cafes, restaurants (yummy sushi stands), stores, parks, libraries and museums. The city is sparkling. It's strange to look out the port lights and see towering buildings all lit up instead of uninhabited palm fringed atolls. Brisbane is full of useful amenities; lots of drinking fountains, bike racks with bike repair stations, paths and trails, a free public pool and water park, libraries and museums, and tons of public transportation options. And it's so clean; haven't seen any homelessness, graffiti or trash. I've never seen any city like it.
The serpentine river runs through the city of...
beautiful old buildings... 
along side modern designs
and tons of public artwork.

We've made some time to clean-up and make repairs to Britannia too. Krister took the opportunity of the hottest day on record (100+) to install a new galley faucet. I don't think Britannia has looked this good since leaving Mexico.

 Last night we attended a free Christmas concert in the Botanical Gardens with our friends on Convivia and Ceilydh. Tons of people showed up dressed in red and green with Santa hats on, but it felt so much like summer that there was a strange disconnect for us. A picnic in the park will never feel like Christmas to me no matter how many carols are sung. But it was fun :)

One more strange Aussie creature;
a possum checking us out on our walk back from the concert

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More on Vanuatu

I'm sorry these didn't get posted and written about sooner. Our time in Vanuatu was too short so I spent most of it out seeing as much as I could before we had to leave. We had a great time celebrating our 6th anniversary, eating out, visiting the markets and getting away from town to see Mele Cascades waterfalls. Here are the highlights...

The waterfalls are a short cab ride out of Vila. There was an entrance fee to the park, but worth it. The grounds are well cared for, with paths and hand ropes to guide you to the top pool of the falls. The also had a snack bar, showers, restrooms, tables and patio that made it a pleasant place to spend the day. 

Impressive bamboo stand 

Mele Cascades; waterfall near Port Vila

Very easy hike to the top, including handrails for walking over slippery  rocks

Lots of pools and rocks to hang out in and on 

There are a few great grocery stores in Vila; we found special treats we hadn't seen in a while. But the markets were definitely more colorful and interesting. 
Wonderful Port Vila Market; the most variety anywhere in the South Pacific
Ruby with a drinking coconut at the Port Vila produce market
Getting provisioned for our passage to Australia

Here's a couple things you may not have tried at home...
Choco; looks kind of like an avocado, and honeydew melon on the inside; but you pit, peel and cook it.
Has a tangy taste, great in korma, curries, soups, or where ever you need more vegetables. 
A sprouted coconut; it's the texture of foam but taste like a sweet coconut treat

Ladies playing cards near the handicraft market
These ladies could sew anything you ask for on their  antique machines

We really had a wonderful time in Vanuatu; wish we could've sailed further north, and stayed longer. But life is full of choices, and you can't do and see everything.

We're thankful for what we have been blessed with...
The moon rise.
 I love when you can see the faint shadow of the full moon  behind the crescent.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

On our way to Australia

We arrived in Bundaberg last week, but making landfall, rally events, celebrating Thanksgiving and such, over-rode posting a blog. Now that things have settled down, here are the highlights...

Chesterfield Reef, New Caledonia
Nothing more than a way point on the way to Australia, but more than amazing. 

Chesterfield reef  is home to thousands of sea birds, and zero humans.
Mothers and babies were easily found and disregarded our presence.

Nests everywhere; in trees, grassy patches, and on the beach.

Nice tail feathers huh?

They flew right over us...

... and looked into our eyes with no fear.

Not much shade to be found for the young ones.

I'm not usually into bird watching... but this was a special experience.
I could have watched them soaring all day
and just living their lives.

Am I with stupid?

I took so many amazing photos the day we spent at Chesterfield, that the next day when something even more amazing happened, I only got one shot before the camera battery died.
A total solar eclipse!

If you've never seen one in real life you'll have to take my word for it; it's breath taking! To watch the sky go dark and the stars come out in the middle of the day... To see the moon and the corona of the sun all around it... and the rosey color of sunset on all horizons... it left us with a feeling of unimagined, difficult to describe, awe.

The passage from Chesterfield to Bundaberg was sweetly uneventful. The customs and immigration officials were nice and easy going. The Port to Port rally organizers did a great job.  So now we're in Australia, headed south to Brisbane... what's next?

Yes, there are just as many wild kangaroos hopping about in Australia
 as there are deer trampling through  your gardens back home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


We set sail for Vanuatu on a Friday- something we never do- never ever. Yes, some might say it's superstitious, and it is. Oh wait, I say that, and I am superstitious. Because if you don't know what you're doing, it's best not to tempt fate. See there I go again. Well, we had one of the best passages ever, and safely anchored after dark (another thing we don't ever do). I guess Vanuatu is a special place, easy-going and safe.  Not being familiar with the anchorage and unable to gauge the distance between us and the anchor light of other boats, we dropped far outside the area. In the morning we awoke to the customs officials. They asked if we could please move closer to the other yachts before checking us in. They were so nice, and accommodating. We didn't have to call on the radio, or walk across town to multiple offices; it was the easiest of anywhere we've been. (FYI for cruisers, the Aneityum anchorage is open with good holding, our charts were accurate and coming in after dark was not a problem. Check-in was also easy, but there is no access to money here, only an exchange bank, so bring your $ US, NZ, Fijian or other currency. The fees totaled $80 US, and we were able to trade sugar and rice for produce).

This is downtown.
 Ladies sat in the shade and chatted, the men  were  hauling cinder blocks to a build site. It was a great place to get off the boat and run around.
Local kids hanging out in the residential area.

Miles flying his kite on Mystery Island

Self photo :)

A day at the beach with the crew of s/v Convivia!


Just hanging out
The villagers threw us a traditional dinner and invited us to ask any questions we had about their culture and way of life. After 3 bowls of kava, Krister was ready to chat (see previous post). The local kids ran around with Ruby and Miles (from Convivia), we all danced and talked and really got into the spirit of cross cultural exchanges.

Traditional dress

A short walk across the island through coconut palms and banana trees

I was so excited to find my first nautilus shell! ... followed by my 2nd, 3rd, 4th... Krister said I shouldn't keep them all, so I left a few for some one else to find. What a magical beach! 

We had a great time on Anetieyum and Mystery Island, but with such a short time left before we had to be in Australia, we had to keep moving. Early in the morning we set sail to Tanna. It was a long day's sail to Port Resolution, and our charts didn't provide much detail of the anchorage. The friendly locals came out to say hello, they brought delicious, organic produce and asked if we could come by and help fix their generators.

Krister assessing the generator  problem with Patrick, his son Louis, and the local boys.

The kids loved having their photo taken!

Britannia anchored in Port Resolution

Patrick's home, and village

Katie showing us the village garden. Sweet potato, taro, corn, beans, a variety of cabbage, papaya, banana,...

Beautiful banyan trees where everywhere
We made arrangements to visit Mt. Yasur, an active volcano. It was a bit on the expensive side, but like swimming with the whales in Tonga, it was unforgettably awe-inspiring. It felt like living on the pages of National Geographic. Even though I'd seen videos and photos, I was not prepared for the physical experience of standing on the edge of a living volcano. The minor eruptions sent pulses through the air; the shock waves could be seen in the smoke rising from caldera. The larger blasts sent adrenaline pulsing through our veins as we stumbled backwards in instinctual survival mode. The vibrations of the molten rock hitting the earth could be heard around the crater and the pulses of air forced out blew through us.

As the sun set, the lava glowed brighter and Mt Yasur  disclosed its secrets

Local fishermen in their homemade outrigger
After the volcano experience, we were off again. This time on an overnight passage to the capital, Port Vila on the island of Efate.
Krister on watch with the bananas received for working on a generator

The day before elections in Port Vila- voting is taken very seriously.  The streets were full of pride and  propaganda.

Amanda looking over Port Vila.
We've had such wonderful times here in Vanuatu, wish we could stay longer.

Footprints in the volcanic black sand