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 We are NOT in the same boat

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the SAME STORM, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of reconnection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or a coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and familial crisis.

Some living alone may be feeling endless loneliness, while others may be finding peace and solace.

With the government’s emergency funding, some may be brining in more money, while others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families received a stimulus, others did not.

Some were concerned about a certain candy for Easter, while others were concerned about the uncertainty of having food.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment insurance and are running of out of money. Others are horrified by those who break quarantine.

Some are home spending two to three hours a day helping their child with online schooling, while others are spending 10 to 12 hours at work hoping they will have time and energy to engage with their children.

Some have faith in God and are expecting a miracle; others are saying the worse is yet to come.

Some have experienced near death but have recovered from the virus; some have already lost a loved one; some are agonizing, hoping and praying that a loved one will survive. Still, some see the pandemic as overblown, no big deal.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through the same storm, with some of us anchored in safety, while others are adrift in a skiff. Our perceptions and needs are different.

Each of us will emerge from this storm with a different story of this journey. But let kindness be a common theme of our narratives. Let’s not inflame, blame, or shame. Let’s remember we are not all the same, yet here we all are navigating uncharted waters. Let’s do our best to be mindful of those who need help to stay afloat.

 

 

May-09-2020

On March 8th, 2020, I made it out of India and back to Julie (& INFINITY), just before the madness started with Covid-19.   I can’t believe what is happening with the world right now – it seems like a bad dream.  For the last couple of months, Julie and I have been both well & safe onboard.  We have each other (and all we need) so we’ll continue to ride this out like the rest of the world.  I guess we are fortunate that our lives have not changed too much, because as ‘boat people’ we are used to isolation, and our own company.  We’re using this time as an opportunity to run through the vessel “To Do” list, update this website, catch up on some reading, and watch some movies.

Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone at this unprecedented time, especially to all who are experiencing personal loss through Covid-19.  Stay safe, and hang in there guys.

 

 

May-13-2020

Although Australia is officially easing the Covid-19 restrictions, Julie and I are exercising our own health regime by boosting our immunity.  Actually, not really different to how we normally live, but perhaps we’re juicing with more purpose now  😉

 

we enjoy getting off the boat, stretching our legs, and actively participating in our own health

 

 

Believe me, this stuff tastes good!! 👍

 

 

 

Covid-19 MOTHERS DAY

We woke up with a beautiful sunny day, and wanting to make the most of it we decided to walk to the beach.  It’s easy to feel like we were the only people on the planet.  The beaches are officially ‘open’, but not many participants just yet.

 

The beauty just hits ya!   (the beach, palms, sun and sand not bad either! 😜)

 

 

 

 

 

This is the main street of Airlie Beach – usually bustling with thousands of tourists, cars bumper-to-bumper, and back-packers criss-crossing the streets.  Different scene this week.  In fact, this has been the scene for the last 8 weeks.  90% of the shops are still closed, even though the government has issued a phased-in back-to-work program.  I’m hearing that many owners are not opening because they will not be making enough profit until the restrictions are fully lifted.  Even then it may take years for this tourist town to recover.  😕

 

The main street empty and kind of eerie. But we make the most of it, by enjoying the smooth transition from the town to the beach with unfettered access.

 

 

With no local restaurants open, we make our own fine dining onboard.  This evening’s protein – rack of lamb. (it was delicious!)

 

 

Onboard INFINITY, it’s business as usual, and into maintenance tasks.  For all the boat aficionados out there, believe it ot not – but we are now down to 12 items on the INFINITY TO DO list, down from well over 100 (at the beginning of Covid-19)

 

Julie working on an Engine Room light fixture. In this case, we were epoxying new attachment points to the lens cover.  Task No. 013  Done 

 

 

Not a bad place to be at any time.   But while this craziness in the world continues,  we can at least enjoy our surroundings and wait it out in this wonderful backdrop at Coral Sea Marina.

 

The view from our aft deck onboard INFINITY.  I toss the paddle-board in the water, and one step later I’m in my Spiritual bliss, and feelings of Gratitude come soon.  Every time.

 

 

 

(However – we do miss you Canada!   🇨🇦 )  Our original plan was to return to Vancouver, once I arrived back from work in India.  After discussions with the Australian Border Force, it became clear that If we left Australia we would not know if and when we would be able to return.  With plenty of time on our Visas, we made the decision to wait Covid-19 out here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Australia
May 42020

September 8th, 2018.  Our transit from Vanuatu to Australia was relatively uneventful (although I did have to shut down the main engine once [mid transit] to change out a torn stabilizer belt).  Generally though, the seas were manageable with a favourable current.  By the numbers; burning 755 gals for 1118 nautical miles, we averaged 1.40 miles per gallon which is actually our best yet!  Julie and I had dived the hull prior to leaving Vanuatu – and combined with the current, we often saw 10.7 knots!  The mood onboard was one of relaxed efficiency on a well-oiled machine.  We were enjoying the calm and Zen of it all.  As we approached the Great Barrier Reef, perhaps 6 hours out, I was disturbed by this deafening sound.  It was getting louder and louder, (like a Freight Train), and the unnatural noise caused a dump of adrenalin coursing through my body.  I ran out the Starboard door, and managed a glimpse upward, just outside my periphery vision.  A 4-engined Turbo-prop aircraft screaming past, right over-head, so low – it was if I could have touched it.

The event stopped me dead in my tracks.  As the plane was climbing back up into the air, I regained my composure and ran inside to tell Julie about it.  Mid-way through my delivery, the VHF broke in “INFINITY, INFINITY, INFINITY, this is the Australian Border Control X-ray, Bravo, Oscar, Uniform, over”  I picked up the mic at the Galley repeater station and answered the call.  The ABF had been expecting me (through my email communication from Vanuatu), and were just checking up on who was about to enter Australian waters.  I am still left with this feeling of professionalism, and awe, with the ABF.  Welcome to Australia!

 

 

We threaded our way through the Great Barrier Reef over-night, and tied up at Mackay Customs dock at 1730.  (Exactly when ABF was closing for the night).  Unfortunately, this was September 9th, 2018 – our 30th Wedding Anniversary.  ❤️  We could see and hear the festivities of modern society, but we could not join in.  We could not leave the vessel until cleared by Australian customs.  Not to worry, we counted our blessings for a quick, smooth and safe passage from Vanuatu, and really, what more could a cruiser ask for?

Our check-in into the country of Australia went smoothly, (visited by several agents and their dogs), and about 4 hours later, we were finally provided with an Australian Control Permit – good for a year.  We let go the ropes and headed up North, to Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach – the launch pad into the Whitsunday Islands.

 

 

 

 

AIRLIE BEACH

Ropes on, all secure at Abell Point Marina in Airlie Beach.  Seems both nostalgic and a bit weird that Julie and I are back here again.  We first visited Airlie Beach 30 years ago.  We were living in England at the time, and had back-packed our way through NZ, Australia and south east Asia.  We certainly didn’t have much at that time, and now felt a proud moment that we were visiting again in our own yacht.  Sometimes, you get these reasurances from life that you must be doing something right.

 

 

all secure at O-28 slip, at Abell Point Marina

 

 

As we were approaching Australia, Julie and I would often talk about what we were going to do when we got there.  I spent hours describing how we would spend our days sailing, paddle-boarding, and diving the Great Barrier Reef.  Julie asked about sharks, and I quickly assured her that there was nothing to be worried or concerned about.

 

 

Oh, how wrong I was…

The same week we arrived Australia, there were 3 shark attacks!  I didn’t know what to say 😬

As our time in Australia was unfolding, we were becoming aware of the other natural predators out to get ya.  If the sharks didn’t spoil your day, the Box Jellyfish would!  The threat of salt water Crocs loomed.  And of course we were moored in an area which is exposed to Cyclone Season, so that was also a concern.  It became apparent why Australians have a reputation as tough, hardy souls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2019, there were also many Tropical Cyclone warnings.

 

 

 

But, it’s not all gloom and doom!  😀

The town of Airlie Beach is the region’s central hub and has had some major development in the last 30 years.  Right in the heart of the town is this splendid public pool and recreation facility.  We spent days there, lounging around the beach & pool areas, and visiting the shops, cafe’s and restaurants.  All this, just a few minutes walk along the boardwalk from the Marina.  I could certainly get used to this!

 

Beautiful fresh, clean, cool pool

 

 

Anchorage – along the walk-way to Airlie Beach town center.  Accessed by several Beach areas.

 

 

Coral Sea Hotel lounge area

 

 

Coral Sea Hotel pool.

 

 

Everywhere you turn, you have to be mindful of geckos and other creatures underfoot. The wildlife is everywhere. This little guy wedged himself between our outboard motor bracket. Julie rescued him, and we put him in some cool water to think about his next move.

 

 

 

WHITSUNDAYS

The Whitsunday Islands are located on the northeast coast of Queensland, and are considered the central jumping-off point for exploring the Great Barrier Reef.  There are 74 Islands in the Whitsunday chain which lie between a huge stretch of coral, teeming with marine life. Most of the islands are uninhabited. They’re characterized by dense rainforest, hiking trails and white sand beaches.

 

This Robinson R44 Helicopter is a regular sight in the Whitsundays. This time, it landed a lucky couple at ‘the Causeway’ on South Molle Island, for a 45 minute hike.

 

 

The money shot. The reality was actually as the photo reveals. Being immersed in the natural magnificense of this area, was undoubtedly a treat for us.

 

 

I would prefer to fly over this area in a Helicopter, but we’ll make-do with a fly-by with our drone.  (watch this space!)

 

 

great hike, and a great day.

 

 

We anchored INFINITY in Chance Bay and had much of it to ourselves.  The odd sailboat, tour boat or float plane would drop by from time to time – just giving the right proportionate feeling of community vs total isolation.  The water was clear and the beaches pristine.  While anchored in this spot one day, Julie and I discussed how great it would be to have a Drone to capture the splendour of the place.  Lightbulb moment!  We looked at each other, and without saying a word, I got up and pulled the sat phone from it’s cradle and we ordered a Drone from Canada right there on the spot.  We’ll pick it up the next time we fly back to Vancouver.

 

tour boats like this came by every few days.  Eye candy for me.

 

 

Whilst enjoying a beach walk, this plane lands and drops off a bunch of Japanese tourists for lunch, like it’s a regular occurance.  It is!

 

 

The Pilot tending to his Charterers.  How cool is that!?

 

 

Definitely coming back here, and I don’t even play Cricket.

 

 

 

 

 

HAMILTON ISLAND

In between our Island hopping, we slipped into Hamilton Island (‘Hammo’) to stay for a week.  After all, it was my 54th Birthday, and what better reason to push the boat out?   Recalling our time onboard INFINITY,  I fondly remember spending my 50th in Mexico, my 51st & 52nd in Hawaii.  I’m liking this Boat/Birthday theme.  😜

 

INFINITY all secure in her slip, while Julie and I tour the Island with a golf cart rental for the day.

 

 

The Island is not a large one, so we were able to circumnavigate it in one day.

 

 

Birthday time.  (Time for relaxed reflection, and a moment of Gratitude) – while Julie charms the birds.

 

 

Hamilton Island Wildlife center, and breakfast with the Koalas.

 

 

 

 

As we were moving around the Island and taking photos, I distinctly remember how the last couple of years had an unmistakably ‘Southern Hemisphere’ energy to it.  It never dawned on me before.  But now for some reason, I had become aware that we were well south of the equator, and a visitor here.  The good news is that we are being treated well!  😀

 

 

 

 

 

Back in our Marina – which has now had a corporate name change from Abell Point Marina, to CORAL SEA MARINA.  The ebb and flow of friends’ vessels is a daily occurance.  I particularly like Nick’s taste in boats.  Fine eye.  😉

 

Nordhavn 62  VERITA  (Hull 012)

 

 

 

BUNDABERG

Julie and I were thinking of continuing our travels North, up to the Kimberleys, and ultimately push into Indonesia.  As our plans were developing, it quickly became apparent that we had a rather large wish-list of work for the vessel, and realized that Australia was probably the best place to get all this accomplished.  Our agreed destination for the yard work was Gold Coast City Marina in Coomera, QLD.  Just prior to our departure, I received a call from Jeff Merrill to see if I was available for a pre-purchase survey for a unique vessel.  Perfect.  The vessel was in Bundaberg, and it was on the way to GCCM!

 

 

INFINITY in her stride, and of course flying the Flag!

 

 

Transit down from Airlie Beach – to Bundaberg – to Gold Coast City Marina (Coomera)

 

 

This is the vessel which I surveyed for a client in California.  It’s a 28m Aluminum Wave Piercing Trimaran.  It was originally constructed and used as a passenger ferry for Lady Musgrave Island.  Our client has plans to convert this impressively fast vessel into a personal yacht.  I’m happy to report that my preliminary inspections carried over to a successful sale.  The vessel is now in Sydney, awaiting international shipping to California.

 

Wave Piercing Trimaran, Spirit of Musgrave.

 

 

During our time in Bundaberg, Jay and I thought we’d take the bus into town and discover what Bundaberg had to offer.   We overstayed our time shopping though, and missed the last bus (which was 1pm!) back to the Marina .  We thought we’d walk back, “we could use the exercise” – but that’s when we learned it was 22 kms to the marina!, and we were in flip-flops.  oops.  No matter, we had all day – and it took all day!  We got back to INFINITY at 6pm, in pitch black darkness, and ready for a Bundy.  😉

 

A quick stop at the Bundaberg Brewery (where they make the Bundaberg Ginger Beer) – on the walk back to INFINITY.

 

 

 

 

GOLD COAST

 

The journey down to Coomera (Gold Coast City Marina) was OK.  A little rough for my liking, and we had an autopilot pilot issue during the elevated seas at oh-dark-thirty, but we managed alright.  We always do, we make a good team, Jay and I ❤.  But that incident during the night pressed the importance upon me to get any niggly issues sorted, once and for all.  We originally planned just to do a simple ‘bottom-job’ (hull anti-fouling), but our list grew as we became aware that we were entering a full service yard, and therefore the opportunity to power through the vessel TO DO list.

 

Lifting INFINITY out of the water, to begin our 2019 maintenance period.

 

Just prior to our vessel lift-out, we received an email from our Quebec friend Justine Hamelin.  Justine once lived with us in North Vancouver (early 2000’s) and has remained in touch with us over the years.  She was taking some time out, traveling through New Zealand and Australia – and did we have time to meet up?  Of course we did!

 

Justine and Julie, together again 😀

 

 

Pressure-washed and blocked. The work has begun!

 

 

Julie – INFINITY’s official maintenance crew chief. Working on barnacle removal from the through-hulls.

 

 

Justine is staying to help us, and catch a ride up North.  It’s the weekend, and time for pancakes! (meanwhile, the work goes on)

 

 

During our time on the Hard, The Sanctuary Cove Boat Show (Australia’s premier marine event) was taking place, and I took the opportunity to down-tools and attend, representing Jeff Merrill Yacht Sales as the JMYS Trawler Specialist.  I had several meetings, and met many professional contacts.  Yacht Brokering is all about people and relationships.  Isn’t everything?

 

 

 

 

taking our ride to work

 

 

NO Jay,,,  just No.

 

 

In the midst of work.  Someone actually has to do this!

 

 

Justine was also busy at the Boat Show for Team INFINITY. She was working with the Drift sales team, and sold many SUP’s and floating docks.

 

 

After wrapping up our Hard-stand activities, it was time to put INFINITY back into the water.  For 2019, she is sporting a new Black anti-fouling paint job, and looks great!  We had the grey hullsides polished while we were at it.

 

 

Paint theme for 2019 = Black

 

 

Travel-lift underslinging the straps prior to lifting.

 

 

Julie giving the lift crew the final nod of approval.  It’s her call.

 

 

The obligatory “can’t believe we did it in record time” photo. Always a proud / joyous moment.

 

 

INFINITY’s bulbous-bow will be pressing through the ocean waters once again. (we replaced that through-hull – to the right of the bow thruster – while on the Hard)

 

 

That bright shiny surface is the propeller is “PropSpeed”. Let you know how it works, down the road.

 

 

 

The hard part done, we elected to stay at GCCM for a few more weeks to continue our maintenance period.  The decision an easy one, considering the close proximity of all the other yard services.

 

New underwater lightbulbs fitted from Aqualuma – (their facility was right around the corner from GCCM)  – And yes, that’s another Nordhavn 62 beside us – 6230 WALKABOUT

 

 

–ULGO– I imported this new product from Malaysia, while I was doing contract work in Brunei. We had it stored onboard for several months, and this was the perfect opportunity to try it.

 

 

The product uses nano-technology, and brought up our 19 year old fiberglass components up like new. How long it lasts is unknown?   But looks great right now.

 

 

Delivery time!  During the Boat Show, Julie and I stopped off at the Adjusta-Mattress display to rest our weary feet.  Timing is everything I guess, because we’ve actually been considering a new bed onboard.  These things were so comfortable, we bought a set.  When John from 6230 – WALKABOUT, and Nick from 6212 – VERITA saw them, they also bought them.  Standard issue onboard N62’s?  😉

 

Infinite positions onboard  INFINTIY

 

 

Bed all made up – looks like a conventional one, but you now know different   : )

 

 

I n f i n i t e  D r e a m s  –  last thing we see before turning in for the night.

 

 

While dockside, we prioritized our work where nearby vendors could easily supply us.  The parts would show up at the Marina office, and they’d call us to come and pick them up.  Every couple of days (for the next month) we received various parts and equipment to progress our work.

Just a few of the projects are mentioned below but many others will be documented at a later date @ INFINITY/MAINTENANCE section. 

 

The arrival of our new Hydraulic salt-water wash-down pump. This this kicks ass, and washes our anchor chain free mud & debris during recovery. The old one was 19 years old, and the aluminum blocks had corroded & virtually disintegrated.

 

 

The Main Engine panel dropped down so Jay could solder-in a new Rudder-Position Indicator bulb, and we used this opportunity to lubricate to our window wiper motors.

 

 

OK, here is where the fun really starts…  Our secondary generator had failed us (long ago), during our Pacific Ocean crossing from San Diego to Hawaii, by ingesting salt water.  I had a look at this job in New Zealand, but was told that the Genny was not salvageable.  😮  But, here in OZ, with a fresh outlook, I decided to have another look at this job.  The stars aligned when I found Ron Marshall to assist and believe in the project.  He said the job was doable and that’s all Julie and I needed to hear to give this a shot.

 

Engine Room access through the Salon floor. Nordhavn think of everything.  You are looking AFT, just seeing the Turbo and transmission of the Main Engine.  The Fischer Panda generator is to the left (STBD side)

 

 

Floor panel and crossbeam. Yes, that floor panel really is 300mm (12″) thick and was Heavy!  (made up of 1″ ply and 1/2″ layers of lead, for sound insulation). That crossbeam is a 4″x4″ hard wood.

 

 

Typical project disarray.  We actually hate it, and feel sorry for INFINITY

 

 

The offending article!  Cylinder #02, seized solid into the block. We ended up drilling this out after bending two punches.

 

 

Andy and Ron hard at it on day 3. We moved the generator from its’ mountings to gain full access, but rebuilt it in a clear space in the Engine Room.

 

 

The new piston in place!

 

 

There she be!   The rebuilt genny back in her spot and successfully commissioned.  I was a happy man.

 

 

So, with the lions share of the work done and the pressing feeling to get underway again, we set a date to push back up to Airlie Beach.  Justine was still with us, as she wanted to hitch a ride up North, and also experience a transit on INFINITY.  With a little bit of pressure to get off the dock, and a somewhat doable forecast (certainly not great), we departed on a Friday afternoon.  As soon as we nosed out of the protection of the coastal waterway, and into the Coral Sea, we encountered rough seas.  I should have known.  The forecast continued to deteriorate and this folklore ‘Friday departure’ thing was kicking our ass.  The forecast indicated winds 24 knots from the south, but instead we were getting 35 knots from the east – directly on our beam.  We were getting pounded.  Our stabilizers were doing the best job they possibly could until our Starboard fin alarmed a feedback failure.  (Of course, the usual scenario of piercing alarms at 0230 in the morning).  I tried resetting the unit several times, but it was clear that we had sustained some damage.  Absolutely no fault to ABT.  Our stabilizers have worked like trojans for the last 19 years and 1 ½ circumnavigations, it was just,,, time.

I made the command decision to pull into Brisbane, to get out of this shitty weather, and get the Stabs looked at.

 

 

 

BRISBANE

We approached Brisbane as the sun was setting, so we spent the first night at anchor in Moreton Bay.   I dived on the starboard stabilizer to see if I could see any physical damage.  Fortunately, all looked good, none found.

I had a few back-&-forth phone calls with ABT, and discovered a local Marine Engineering business (Stella Systems) who specialized in ABT installations.  How lucky was that!?  Stella knew their stuff, and the next morning Jay and I started disassembly of the Starboard fin once we reached dockside at Rivergate Marina.

 

 

 

These are my Notes from INFINITY’s Log – July 1st, 2019.

Richard and I completed the work on the Stbd Stabilizer.  Turns out that the encastellated nut holding the fins’ actuator arm assembly, had come loose!  The locking tab had sheared from the excessive seas and allowed the nut to rotate free.  Nut tightened and the potentiometer adjusted correctly.  We’re back in business!

 

So while we scored a win for INFINITY, we recorded a loss for our crew mate, Justine 😞  She had been diligently hanging out with us to visit the Whitsundays onboard INFINITY, but considering the recent events, I made the decision to wait for more appropriate weather, and this was not foreseeable for the next week or so.  As Justine was on a schedule, we exchanged hugs & thanks, and said our good-byes.  It was a pleasure having you onboard Justine, no doubt we shall see each other again.

Making the most of our self imposed delay, we toured around Brisbane city center for a few days, to see what this wonderful city had to offer.

 

We walked miles around the City, taking in all the sites, gardens, paths, and recreational activities

 

 

Beautiful gardens right in the heart of the City

 

 

Always time for Coffee and Chocolate!

 

 

We Zenned-out in a similar lounge chairs after our coffee and chocolate experience. – Actually fell asleep in the midday sun. It was gloriously decadent.

 

We found the city to be a vibrant example of Australia.  Clean, fun, and lots to do.  Brisbane was not on our radar before, (not an intended stop), but we certainly enjoyed the opportunity to explore.  Sometimes when you get lemons, you might as well make lemonade.  😉

 

Our transit back up to the Whitsundays (Airlie Beach) was blissfully uneventful.  We waited for a good forecast and it paid dividends.  (note to all potential cruisers;  this is what you are supposed to do!)  Anyway, the transit up was great, smooth seas all the way, and we arrived Coral Sea Marina refreshed and ready for more.

 

 

 

SYDNEY

 

It was time that I had to go back to work, but first Julie and I had some business to attend to back in Vancouver.  We planned to fly through Sydney (on our way to Canada) to visit friends (Nordhavn 62 alumni) – James and Claire from N62 PENDANA.  The Ellingford’s treated us with warm hospitality and took us touring around Sydney and Pittwater areas.  The last time we were all together was 2015, in Hawaii.

 

Enjoying Sydney Harbour and Empire Marina at Bobbin Head (Pittwater)

 

 

 

After our fantastic time with the Ellingfords, Julie and I flew back to Vancouver, and then back to INFINITY a few weeks later.  I had signed a new contract for work, this time working Deepwater Installations in the Bay of Bengal, India.

While I was at work, Jay was at work on INFINITY.

 

The intense heat of NE Australia took its’ toll, but you would never know it. Jay had the teak gleaming once again!

 

 

One layer of stain, and 8 layers of varnish. Et Voila!

 

 

the first thing we see everytime we board

 

 

Teak decks got a ‘lookin-after’ too.  Nice!

 

 

But it’s not all work onboard INFINITY.  I had returned from India and Julie deserved a well earned break.  With the Coral Sea Hotel just around the corner, it was time to take advantage of the obvious choice.  We spent days lounging around the pool and enjoying the Hotels’ wonderful food.  It was just like a mini-holiday, and a great way to reunite.

 

Lounging, reading, swimming, eating.  Repeat daily.

 

 

Sublime.  Personally, I never get bored of this.

 

 

And this brings us nicely up-to-date, (May 4th, 2020) right here,,,amongst our Covid-19 isolation exercise.  We are all in this together, globally.  Where this will all end up is anyone’s guess.  I just managed to get out of India before all the madness started, and Julie and I are safe onboard INFINITY.  We will be staying onboard until the international Borders re-open.  So far, so good.  We have everything we need.

 

 

Grocery run, as & when required.

 

What’s worse than Covid-19?  Nothing like an Aussie reminder,,,  Sharks again.  😬

 

So, this brings us up to speed for now.  I will be starting a new Listing, most likely called AUSTRALIA – (Covid-19), and updating that as we go, (yes, as I have threatened to do before, I know).  At least we all have the time to get to the things we normally wouldn’t prioritize, and I’m actually enjoying this part of the isolation restrictions.

 

You guys all stay safe out there.  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

More Information»
Vanuatu
August 22019

It was around 11pm. (August 16th, 2018) Julie wakes me up and says she’s tired, she needs some sleep. I’m somewhat dazed (what time is it?  where are we?)  “Are we through the Pass?” I said.

“Yes, we’re clear of New Caledonia, and now in open water”

That exact moment,,, I felt immense pride in my wife.  Julie had just piloted us through a convoluted and narrow pass that lasted many hours and was subject to strong currents. It was a pitch-black night and her only references were the radar and chart plotter.    Thoughts of the last 7 years flooded through my mind as I realized just how far my wife had come as a mariner.  I was both impressed and proud.

Time I got my butt out of bed I guess!  By the time I reached the pilothouse, INFINITY was set on her course and all I had to to do was a quick check of the Nav aids, and make my 1st double espresso.  We were transiting at 8 knots, in smooth seas.  HEAVEN!

We are on our way to Vanuatu, having just spent a few months in New Caledonia.  Our ultimate long term destination being Australia.  We’re certainly not getting through this cruising period in quick fashion our we?  9 months in Mexico, 18 months in Hawaii, 6 months in French Polynesia, 18 months in New Zealand, and I know we’ll be spending at least 18 months in Australia!  Jimmy Cornell would have a dicky-fit! (with recommended circumnavigation times of 2 years!).

Vanuatu is a remote destination and we spent all of our time at anchor.  When living this way, you seem to be more immersed in what you are doing, and the camera is always a secondary thought for me.  So, there are not as many photos for this destination as I would have liked.  Funny though, the memories of Vanuatu are burned deep into my mind, and I will never forget.  So, perhaps more writing this time, less visual.

 

 

Our actual route through the Islands of Vanuatu (copied from our track on iSailor)

 

 

This is my view from INFINITY ‘command central’.  It was a pleasant night with calm seas, and the dawn is now upon me.  As the sun is rising, Jay is tucked up safely in bed, and I silently give thanks to God,,, it simply does not get any better than this, and I’m grateful.

 

 

 

Always a spiritual experience for me. These moments are a very major reason why I keep cruising. I love this connection to the universe.

 

 

Approaching Vanuatu, the most southerly Island of TANNA.  From 12 miles out, you can see the active volcano smoking.

 

 

 

As we get closer to Tanna, the sights, sounds, and smell become vibrant

 

 

Entering the small harbour of Port Resolution

 

 

INFINITY at anchor in Port resolution

 

 

Our personal “Welcome to Vanuatu” party.  We gave them a gallon of diesel in exchange for the warmth & good-will we received.

 

 

We are at anchor in Port Resolution, Tanna.  You can’t see it, but to the left of us is the “Port Authority” to officially enter Vanuatu.  Two other yachts were also anchored in the harbour, so I hailed them on VHF 16, and asked them what the ‘go’ was?  I had actually pre-arranged this check-in process from New Caledonia, and after further VHF calls I was made to understand that Customs was waiting for me!  So, I quickly stuffed our passports and vessel forms into our dry-bag, and paddle-boarded to shore to formally check into Vanuatu.  First time for everything!

The check-in process went smoothly.  With our Passports stamped, we were warmly welcomed into the country of Vanuatu.  We were interested in visiting the Volcano, but only local currency was accepted and I had failed to secure any Vatu (local currency) in New Caledonia  😕  Seems the Volcano tour would have to be relegated to another time.  The weather was starting to pipe up too, and the anchorage was becoming uncomfortable even with the flopper-stoppers deployed – so we made a firm decision to press on to Port Villa!

 

∞∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞∞               ∞∞∞∞∞

 

The transit up to the Island of EFATE, (Port Villa) wasn’t too bad.  But we were tired from our journey from New Caledonia, so the relief of our arrival in Port Villa was palpable.  Julie and I secured a mooring ball in the harbour (and hoped for the best! 😜)  Our Nordhavn 62 is 77 Tons, but surprisingly easy to secure to a mooring.  We prefer to use our own anchor of course, but there simply wasn’t the swinging room for this and the anchorage appeared to be well protected.

 

At anchor in Port Villa, this was our view to the south.

 

 

,,, and the view to the North

 

 

remnants from the last hurricane in Vanuatu. (apparently sustained winds of over 160 mph)

 

 

Here’s the proof of what Hurricane Pam can do   : (

 

 

We are always proud to fly the Canadian flag.  Without fail, every time, every location, we always get a welcome comment.  Words like “you’ve come a long way”, or “I have an uncle in Toronto” repeatedly break the ice with locals and fellow cruisers.

 

 

 

Once Julie and I have settled  INFINITY in “at-anchor-mode”, we typically launch our dinghy and go exploring.  Our first order of business was to “check-in” to the Port Villa ‘Marina’, which we paid for a week’s time on our mooring.  The main priority for our first walk into town is usually in search of Internet access.  Once that’s done, we relax a bit, and can focus on our new environment.   The townships are becoming almost familiar to us now, sharing the same level of disrepair, vibrant markets, and warm hearted locals.  I always find myself mentally asking the same question, “could I live here?”  And then I realize there is really no need to go down that rabbit hole when you own your own boat!  My self imposed stress levels immediately subside, and I enjoy the day.  😉

 

 

we certainly felt ‘welcome’ in Vanuatu. 🙂

 

 

A must-do activity for us, a stop at the local markets.

 

 

Julie’s signature flower – birds of paradise!  Worth every penny, and they always add that tropical ambience to INFINITY.

 

 

 

 

Not a care in the world today.  Living the dream.

 

 

Different market, different vibe. Clean floors, new buildings, elevated prices, and note the lack of locals? We are in tourist-ville, but none-the-less a fun experience. (Money stayed in pocket this time though!)

 

 

Back on the boat.  Peace.  Our own private sanctuary.  After the hustle-&-bustle of the markets, scooters wizzing past, and sharing the close proximity of hundreds of people in small closed-in spaces, – it’s always a relief when we come back onboard, and are instantly transported back to our own familiar reality.

After a while spent chilling’ on our upper-aft-deck (our favourite go-to place on INFINITY), it dawns on me that I could be Paddle-boarding!  5 minutes later my board is inflated and I’m off exploring again in a much more intimate way.  The relationships I’ve forged, and the information I’ve gained from the deck of my SUP is amazing.

 

 

(Andy on his SUP) “in my natural habitat, checking the boats out, doing my own thing”

 

 

We’ve planned on staying a week in Port Villa, so we decided to book a few trips to see the Island of EFATE.  Our Infinity bag is permanently on stand-by, ready to go. (Thank you Joy& Steve Drover!)

We usually leave the vessel for no more than 12 hours at a time, so mostly just day-trips.  I’m constantly aware that INFINITY is on a mooring of somewhat unknown security, and of course we have our batteries to think about, which will need a recharge after a days use.  (It’s at times like this that I do consider a Solar power installation, but then end up rationalizing – “do I really want to stay away from INFINITY for extended periods in unknown waters?  🤔 uhm, we’re cool for now!)

 

 

our INFINITY bag, always ready to go with our beach-ware, our tourist essentials

 

 

A day trip to one of the many Falls in Vanuatu.

 

 

You could swim right under these Falls, and into a small cave.  It was cool!  👍

 

 

 

 

Other days, we’d spend just walking around the island, taking it all in, and this day was just outstanding.

 

 

our daughter Chloë is never far from our thoughts – always many reminders.  Based on the name, we indulged ourselves in some impromptu chicken-rice.  Not bad, not bad..

 

 

 

So what do you do when the weather turns to custard??  You go viewing Super Yachts!

 

 

 

 

It all looks so cool, until you think about cleaning it!  (But then you’d probably have crew for that!  😜)

 

 

The sheer size and majesty of these vessels is awesome

 

 

 

 

 

Back onboard INFINITY,,, we continue to watch the weather deteriorate.  So, it’s movie and popcorn time tonight!

 

 

 

 

And when you get bored of movies, it’s back on deck for some daily maintenance.  Our vessel maintenance plan goes like this:  “We do what we can, when we can”.  This time we had an afternoon break in the rains, so we pulled the folding bikes out and gave them some love.  I think Jay likes doing this stuff even more than I do.  I like working on simple mechanical systems, and Julie enjoys giving our gear a new lease of life.  We are a good team.  👍

 

 

 

 

new gear-shift and brake cables required this time. That moist salt environment is hell on the equipment.

 

 

The weather wasn’t improving and we had it, so we decided to press-on to Espiritu Santo.  This way, we could transit up North during the poor weather period, and enjoy Luganville when the weather improved.

 

 

Entering the Luganville channel. On a whim, I tried the VHF radio to see if our friend from New Caledonia, Cheryl Stone (on her sailing Cat – ‘SubZero’) was there. She was!!

 

 

 

Well the weather did not improve a whole lot,  so we kept busy getting the toys out.  😜

 

 

One of my favourite pastimes is sailing, and our MiniCat  certainly scratches that itch!  It takes about 30 minutes to set up, so when we know we’ll be at anchor for say a week or so, we’ll take the cat out of the bag!

 

Setting up the MiniCat.  See Video Link below!

 

Taking the MiniCat out for a burn!   (Video)

 

 

the real Vanuatu

 

 

DIVING

 

We repeatedly kept hearing about the President Coolidge dive site .  The first time was when when we were in Tahiti.  Then it came up again, while discussing international dive sites with fellow boaters in Savusavu, FIJI, and then a third time from our friend (Greg Palmer – who co-incidentally Captains the 30m M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO) in New Caledonia.  Every account mentioned Allan Powers Dive Tours, so our decision was made even before INFINITY’s hook was settled on the seabed.

 

Dive Site Description:  SS President Coolidge

Site Type: Wreck Dive – a big one!   {Shore Access}
Depth: Top: 20M, Bottom: 70M;
Location: West of Million Dollar Beach, just outside of Luganville, Vanuatu

 

The SS President Coolidge was an American luxury Ocean Liner, built in 1931.  She was operated by Dollar Steamship Lines until 1938, and then by American President Lines until 1941.  She served as a troopship from December 1941 until October 1942, when she was sunk by mines in Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, part of current-day Vanuatu.

The Captain attempted to run the ship aground in order to potentially save it from sinking. During the attempt however, the ship hit the reef, listed badly, and eventually slid into the channel, resting in 70m of water.  She had 5,342 troops on board – all but two onboard were saved.

 

 

 

Diving Video Link below!

 

 

Andy & Julie Diving the SS President Coolidge (Video)

 

 

The photos below were taken from Allan Powers’ books.  We spent an hour after the dive going through the texts.  They were a privilege to browse through and incredible historical value.

 

 

 

 

 

We spent our remaining days lounging by the pool with fellow international voyagers at the Luganville Beachfront Resort.   The hotel was only a few minutes’ dinghy ride to the beach, and was ideally situated right off the anchorage, welcoming cruisers from around the world.

 

The pool is nestled in between the thatched roofs.  The pizza here was pretty good too!

 

 

Pool to the left, and the walk down to the beach lis ahead

 

 

the view from the Beach.  My heart always skips a beat when I see INFINITY out at anchor ❤️

 

 

The map below, marks the position where INFINITY was anchored for a week.  We were comfortable there, and having the resort available to us, for swims, pizza & beer, was a welcome bonus.  However, our long awaited destination of Australia awaited us, and it was time to press on.  I think I’ll clearly remember our departure from Espiritu Santo, forever.

 

 

 

 

It was 7pm, and absolutely pitch black outside.  Must have been overcast because there wasn’t a single light or twinkle in the sky, no markers, nothing.  As we were bringing the anchor up, I remember looking around the surroundings and thinking this was probably the most ‘absence of light’ I have ever seen, and apart from the odd anchor light and some scattered lights ashore, there weren’t any references at all.  It was actually kind of eerie.  Even the sound of the hydraulic windless seemed unnaturally amplified due to the stillness of the night.  Anchor up, and threading our way through the anchored vessels, It occurred to me that I had probably not thought this departure through as well as I should have.

Underway, the shore lights disappeared from sight as we left the metropolis of Luganville, and I was presented with a new intensified blackness that I had never ‘seen’ before.  I scrambled into the pilothouse to dim any light I could in order to get some sort of reference ashore.  Nothing.  The only information available to me was the Radar and Chartplotter.  (please do not fail me now),,, my instruments were telling me the shoreline was closing in, and we were speeding down the river at 11 knots with the favourable tide.  I knew we were hustling through the water, but I could not even see it, or feel it, or hear it (I could only smell it),,, it was that still outside.  It was like a scene from Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’.  We were fine though.  And as I glanced at the instruments and got myself acquainted with the new reality, I could hear Julie below in the galley chopping vegetables for a slow-cooker meal for the transit – and a sort of calmness overtook me.  It was like a hand touched my shoulder and said “easy – enjoy!”  So I did.

The final exit through the channel shallowed to less than 500m wide, so I just kept her bang in the middle and prayed for no traffic.  Not to worry, we were certainly the only vessel on that water that night.  An hour later, we were into the Coral Sea, and making our way towards our milestone landmark – Australia!

 

 

 

More Information»
New Caledonia
February 62019

New Caledonia, starts in Vancouver.

My new position at work changed our schedule to a  ‘6-weeks on – 6-weeks off’ routine.  (How this is going to affect our cruising is anyone’s guess??).  I had been travelling back-and-forth from Brunei to Auckland, for the last 6 months, though this time we decided to rendezvous in Vancouver.

Our last week in North Van was spent tearing around, tidying up our affairs with business, family & friends.  We always look forward to going back to the boat, but this time we were even more excited because we were finally making the push out of NZ and into warmer climes of New Caledonia!

Julie scored some great Airline seats.  We were flying from Vancouver to Auckland, –direct– for $700 USD, with Air New Zealand.  👍

 

 

passing the time at Vancouver Airport (YVR)

 

 

Packing up all our bags, the taxi to YVR, checking-in, going through Customs & security, boarding the aircraft – it was all going so perfect.  The seats turned out to be better than expected and the flight was like 3/5ths full.  There was room to spare everywhere, for everyone!  Julie and I had the 3 starboard seats to ourselves, and they’re the ones which fold down to form a bed, called a Sky-Couch.  This ain’t our first Rodeo, so no sooner had the seatbelt sign gone off, we had those seats transformed into our palatial berth, shoes off, blankets pulled up, drinks in hand, movie on.  14 hours of this for $700 USD?, man-o-man I pinched myself.

DING DING!
“Ah, folks this is your Captain speaking,,, we’re encountering a problem up here on the flight deck. Absolutely nothing to worry about of course, just that I would rather not continue the Journey like this, so I’m making a landing to get things put right.  Nearest landfall is Honolulu”

Damn!  I knew I should have let things ride,,, should not have pinched myself back into reality.  Julie’s headset is off now, asking what’s going on.
“They’re landing the plane” I said.

“What? When now? Why? Where?”  I have to admit I was quite impressed, she only missed out the “who” and she’d have nailed every question possible in one sentence.
“Apparently the Captain is not happy to continue the flight because his Radar is goosed and he knows there’s weather up ahead”
And so our plane banks to port with one of those big sweeping, pinned-to-your-seat, turns.  In 30 minutes we were on the Tarmac of Honolulu Airport.  An hour after that we are back in the air.

We go through the whole transformer thing again with our bed.  Roll of eyes at each other, but we’re on our way…again. We were perhaps 45 minutes into our movie when ‘DING DING DING’ announces the beginning of another message over the intercom system.
“this is the Flight Deck speaking,,,ah,, we’re still having issues up here, and with that weather ahead of us, I sure would like to see it.” –long pause– “I’m turning around, we’re heading back to Honolulu. Fasten your seat-belts, ETA 53 mins.”
Even INFINITY has two radars for God’s sake!!  I’m not sure whether I should be angry or mildly amused. I looked at Jay for clues.  She had the corners of her her mouth raised, we’re all good!  As we descend towards Honolulu, we get more information, and the Captains’ calling it quits. We’ll all try again tomorrow.

So it looks like an impromptu ‘mini-break’ in Hawaii will be forced upon us!  Not to worry, we’ll survive. 😜

 

 

Not a bad view from our Hotel room. I could get used to this!

 

 

Despite humping around 4 hockey-bag sized hold-alls, full of boat spares, plus all our personal gear, we decided to treat this as a Holiday and go with the flow.  It was almost one year ago that we were last on Hawaiian soil, and I realized I missed it.  Felt like my soul was home.

 

 

We spent most of the day on the beach. Perfect.

 

 

We have this wall area on INFINITY in our Salon which has been bare since we moved aboard.  We have been on the look out for something to adorn the space, and we found it.  3 Honu’s (Hawaiian symbol for good luck) made out of Hawaiian Koa.  Julie has had this special association with the Honu since our time spent in Hawaii in 2014/2015.  It was a great opportunity to take advantage of the unique set of circumstances which brought us here again.  Purchase made.

 

 

 

It did not take us long to get settled back onboard INFINITY, since it feels more like Home than any place else.  We like to leave the boat super clean, so our time coming back can be as enjoyable as possible.  We were immediately rewarded with the new carpets we had installed last trip;  I had actually forgotten.  Jay had the Honu’s up in no time, and they looked great!

 

 

Honu’s on the wall. I smile every time I walk pass them.  New carpets through out the boat too!

 

 

Operation “New Caledonia” was in motion. It took us a week to pull it all together.  (To do all our last minute shopping, say our final ‘good-byes’ to all our NZ friends, refuel INFINITY, return our rented car, and receive our travel-pack of Nespresso pods). Finally, we were good-to-go!

 

 

Saying our final Good-bye’s

 

 

,,,and we’re off! New Caledonia, here we come.

 

 

I wrote a few notes during the transit, and copied them here below; as follows:

 

June 09, 2018
1600:   Got away from the dock, no issues. Commenced Journey at 1600.
1900:   Weather turned very cold, have to wear sailing jacket, with a sweatshirt underneath. Feels great to be underway again, like a huge achievement has been accomplished.

Status:  61.5 miles / 57.9 gals. @ 0001. June 10th.
Position:  35 41.9 S / 174 42.7 E

 

 

June 10, 2018
1000:   Adjusted (tightened) stuffing box gland.  Emptied Head-tank
1400:   Tx fuel from mid tank – 145 gals
1500:   First 24 hours completed. Status below. Daytank now reading 260.

Status:  178.2 miles / 160 gals. @ 1600
Position:  34 11.89 S / 173 15.68 E

 

 

June 11, 2018
0300:   ER Check. All ok. Daytank 190 gals
0330:   wx still up. Uncomfortable, short seas, jerky movements onboard.
0400:   moon very bright this morning. luminous
1400:   turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day.
1645:   Seas still up, but smoother.
2200:   TX 140 gals from MID tank. WX indications on radar

Status:  350.2 miles / 320.7 gals. @ 1645
Position:  31 38.08 S / 171 50.27 E

 

 

June 12, 2018
0245:   ER checks OK.
0300:   passing squall, winds 27kts, very loud, lot’s of rain.
0500:   wx actually pleasant now, smooth, calm seas, light winds.
1100:   tx fuel, 140 gals. Daytank was 110
1140:   wx gone to shit, as forecasted. With us for 24 hours.
1800:   noticed fwd bilge pump running constantly, motor warm 🤔
1815:   decided to isolate the fwd thru-hulls, in case of siphoning effect

 

 

June 13, 2018
0145:   Tx140 gals fuel from MID. ER checks ok
0200:   checked fwd space for water. Seemed same.
0205:   opened up bilge bulkhead manifold in ER. Flow activated pump, then stopped.
0300:   aft bilge now cycling frequently
0530:   wx still rough, 28kts heavy seas.
1300:   woke up to calmer seas. Thank God.
1345:   aft bilge seems ok, no real gain in level. Aft bilge pump still runs continuous on auto
tx 120 gals fuel from Port tank.
2000:  wx moderated as forecasted. Using the ECMWF forecast, bang on for this transit.
2300:   ER checks ok. First signs of Stab belt deteriorating. Threads found on floor. 260 Nmtg.
2305:  tx fuel – 70 gals from Port Tank.

Status:  666.6 miles / 632.9 gals. @ 1620
Position:  26 57.5 S 169 00.5 E

 

 

 

 

June 14, 2018
0035:   tx filter getting clogged, currently tx’ing 70 gals per fill.
0217:   beautiful clear star filled night, spiritual.
1015:   Stab belt failed. Changed out for new one. ME hours: 9626
1045:   tx fuel from Port tank,
1100:   during belt change, noticed the hyd oil cooler pump coupling is loose! Will adjust.
1105:   during belt change, noticed the wing engine raw water pump is leaking. Will change out.
2115:   tx fuel from Port tank.

 

 

June 15, 2018
0255:   running water maker, and emptied heads.
0830:   passing through Dumbea Passe – Hello New Caledonia!

DIESEL
FWD 450:  full
MID 580:   tx 145, 140, 140, 140
PORT 680:   tx 120, 70, 70, 70
STBD 580:  tx fuel 70 gals from Port tank

 

 

Google-Earth plays a significant role in my pre-transit planning. I copy a few images to my Mac, and review them as we make our approach.

 

 

Our Marina is the middle one. Note how many boats are at anchor! Also note the small clear path leading to the dock. That’s where we are going.

 

 

Heading into the Port du Sud Marina – the very first sighting of our new domicile.

 

 

INFINITY all secure at her new Berth. 

 

 

Once we arrived, I made a phone call to our Agent, that I had prearranged from New Zealand. Chloë Morin is a special young lady, and we were fortunate to work with her.  We first heard of Chloë when we were in Tahiti, and the seed was planted that using an Agent may be the best way to enter certain countries.  The first (and only other time) we used an Agent, was in Fiji.  Both times, expensive but worth it, especially when there is a language barrier.

 

 

You can see Infinity berthed at the end of the pier

 

 

So, established in our new spot, we hit the Market.    Fresh fish is always good.  Jay grills our white fish with fresh ground sea-salt, black pepper and lime.  Simple, succulent, and superb.  Tonight, it’s fresh Dorado!

 

 

My fish favourites list;   Salmon, Ahi Tuna, & Mahi Mahi.   In that order.  👍

 

 

the local Markets are always interesting, and can be fun too

 

 

our bounty for the afternoon. (maybe I’ve been cruising too long, but it looks so luxuriant, vibrant & healthy – my mouth is watering!)

 

 

Wanting to explore a bit further, we took the scooter off the boat, and headed out to see what we cold see.  Some of you long-time readers may notice that one of our scooters is now red.  Well, there’s a story to that – one which I’ll cover later in the INFINITY maintenance page.  The Ocean finally had it’s way with one of them, so we replaced it with this newer one in New Zealand.  It’s pretty zippy, and gets the job done.  👍

 

 

Out & about, exploring the Island.

 

 

The Groupama Yacht Race was in full swing while we were in Noumea. The race takes place every two years, and Noumea comes alive with sailboats and yachts of all shapes & sizes. It’s absolutely fantastic. I personally love seeing the Trimarans fly!

 

 

 

 

 

The Pastries in New Caledonia are world famous, and I can attest that the reputation is not unwarranted. 😜  To counter the calories, we’d often go for walks along the shoreline.  This particular day, Jay and I walked for 8 1/2  enjoyable miles.

 

 

Boulevard along the shoreline, connecting a few of the Hotels in the area.

 

 

NOUMEA – AUGUST 7, 2019 – LIVING THE DREAM

 

 

Hotel Coffee & Pastry stop. I sat here for an hour, sipping superb coffee, soaking up the morning sun, and discussing cruising in New Cal with our good friend Jane.  (from M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO)

 

 

No rush — enjoy the moment

 

 

After a few weeks of getting to know Noumea, we decided to slip the lines and head to the south of the Island, to Ile des Pins.  We overnighted in a secluded cove (Anse Majic) mid transit, and rendezvoused with a couple of cruisers who we had met at Port du Sud, Noumea.

 

 

the evening upon us.   John & Kat’s self-built WHARRAM bathed in the universal splendour we shared that night

 

 

early morning coffee,  thanks of Gratitude come easy.

 

 

Chantal & James Fine — yours truly — John & Kat  —  totally chilled  —  enjoying each others’ company.

 

 

And onwards we press on, finally dropping anchor in Ile des pins.

 

Anchor set. Flopper-stoppers out. We’re all set for a week of bliss.

 

 

Beach walks are often a time for reflection.   Sometimes, it all works out.

 

 

 

 

You have a moment.  when you jump off the dinghy and your bare feet land on soft, pure white, powdery sand.  In the exact same instance, you become aware of the afternoon sun warming your shoulders, and your body gliding through the crystal-clear water – and you realize that everything is perfect with the world at this moment in time – as God intended.

 

 

Welcome to our new back-yard.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect time to get out the MINICAT!

 

 

 

We actually bought the Minicat in New Zealand but didn’t really have the weather for it.  Cue in some sunshine at Isle de Pins et Voila!  Julie and I had some great fun together, and I got my sailing fix!  It has turned out to be a great activity for the both of us.  No doubt the Minicat coverage will increase as we move on.  You can read more about the model we bought here.

 

 

Check out that cloud overhead!  Who cares, we got minicat!!  Just building, so no sail up yet & sadly very few photos this time.

 

 

Sailing is part of the Culture in New Caledonia.  I love it.

 

 

Always on the look-out for INFINITY.   Accessorize, accessorize.  😉

 

 

 

Back in Noumea – Who mentioned Pastries??
We were told by the local boaters that there was this one place you gotta try in town. Would have been rude not to investigate.

 

 

We made it.   And no, those two bags are not stuffed with pastries,,, this time.

 

 

Heaven’s cafeteria.  (what I imagine it to look like)  I’ll have two,,, of everything please!   😜

 

 

On the way back to the boat, we’d often go past this shop.  Disappointingly, we never did try one of these.  Perhaps the next time in New Cal – you are mine!   (I’m hoping they are sweet )

 

 

that fresh crap only lasts a few days.   Better stock up on the real McCoy! 😜 😜

 

 

Our last night out, we enjoyed another pleasant evening with Greg & Jane from the 30m M/Y ESPIRITU SANTO

 

 

 

 

Time & Tide wait for no man.   Lines cast off, we are on our way to Vanuatu!

 

 

 

As we press-on to Vanuatu, this my personal lasting memory of New Caledonia,,, sigh

 

 

 

 

 

More Information»
New Zealand
January 212018

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

It has been over two years since my last blog, for which I am truly sorry.

Truth is, Julie and I we’re ‘down-unda’ in New Zealand, and lost to the world, (in our own world), convalescing after a serious bout of ‘over-boating’.  Careful boat aficionado’s, it could happen to you too!  😮

We spent virtually 10 straight months cruising from Hawaii to Fiji – and then another few months from Fiji to New Zealand.  We were exhausted, the boat was tired, and it was time we all enjoyed a break.  We flew home back to Vancouver a few times, and I of course had to go back to work.  INFINITY was also in need of some love and attention after many months of deferred maintenance and hard use.  What better place to catch up on things, than one of the World’s boating Mecca’s – Auckland – New Zealand!

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First up then, the Stats from the Fiji-NZ transit for the Offshore savants, (and Dreamers alike).  The first and last entries (below) were partial days, but we show fairly consistent milage in between.  I plan our days at Sea to cover 180 nautical miles per day, burning 150 gallons.  As you can see, we were not far from this, (and we usually do better), but this passage certainly could not have been described as ‘favourable’ conditions.

 

 

FIJI – NZ (2016)
nautical miles per day fuel burn (Gallons per day)
Oct. 24th 58.1 52.8
Oct. 25th 172.3 135.1
Oct. 26th 178.7 147.6
Oct. 27th 167.7 148.3
Oct. 28th 175.7 135.7
Oct. 29th 176.6 140.2
Oct. 30th 153.2 139.4
1082.3 899.1
Averaging:  1.21 nm/Gal.

 

 

 

          Our transit from Port Denarau, FIJI, -to- Opua, New Zealand.

 

 

We arrived Opua, NZ, during the dead of night, exhausted but elated.  Not much to see, everything closed for the night; so we shut down INFINITY and went to bed.  The next morning, bright, full of sunshine and promise, we saw several other boats at the Customs Dock with the NZ Customs Officers already going from boat-to-boat, checking-in the 6-odd vessels that arrived during the night.  Formal entry into New Zealand was a straight-forward process.  They were expecting us, as I had been in contact with NZ Customs prior to leaving Fiji. That’s the way we like to roll on INFINITY 😉👍

Once checked-in, we decided to press-on down to Auckland, rather than stay in Opua.  We had reservations at Gulf Harbour Marina, and were keen to get established in our new ‘home’.  Who knew that we were going to spend the next 18 months in Slip N-25?

 

Our immediate goal was to take some time out from cruising and decompress awhile.  After which, I planned our time in New Zealand to be a ‘catch-up’ period – for boat maintenance, visiting my Uncle John (my Mom’s brother), and getting myself immersed back into work.  The diesel isn’t going to pay for itself!

The first week we pampered ourselves by doing nothing.  In that I mean, we slept-in often, and caught-up on some TV mini-series during rainy afternoons.  We hired a car and spent the next 3 weeks exploring the local Township of Whangaparaoa and meeting our Dock Neighbours; which N-Dock coincidentally turned out to be a mini-Nordhavn coterie!

 

 

N40 – CELLO

 

 

N52 – MERMAID EXPLORER

 

 

 N62 – GREY MATTER

 

 

 N76 – RELIANCE

 

 

and our personal favourite!   N62 – INFINITY ∞

 

 

At the end of November, 2016, Work in India was looming, the call had finally come. We decided that Julie should go back to Vancouver and spend Christmas with family.  In the end, we flew to Vancouver together and I caught a flight to India from there.

Now, fast-forward 105 days (to Mid-March, 2017).  Work completed, money in the bank, and I’m in desperate need of a Jay-fix!  We rendezvoused in Hawaii for a week (our self-designated ‘perfect-place’), and then flew back to NZ & INFINITY together.

All good so far right?  But this is where things go awry.  😮  With a maintenance plan & some funds in place, we commenced what we assumed to be a routine period of up-keep.  Not so fast. Mr. Murphy and the Chaos sisters had other plans! The routine maintenance period turned into a few months of hard work.   (I’ve actually written about this phenomenon before, whereby I defined a period of 15 years to be the naturally occurring lifetime of any bolt-on component in a trans-oceanic vessel).  Well, many of the remaining components which were not tended to before, (without being repaired or replaced), played “GOTCHA!” this time.

Before you, lays a brief outline of what kept us on the verge of entering the Twilight Zone.  😜

 

Equipment failures & mediocre luck during the 2016 season

 

  • Weld on flopper stopper pole (STBD-side) parted in the Tuamotus Islands;
    • Re-welded, and painted at Gulf Harbour machine shop
  • flopper stopper wire-rigging failed in Fiji
    • Replaced with a Dyneema harness in Auckland.
  • Polished some rocks with not one, but 2 propellers on our Yamaha 60HP outboard engine in Bora Bora.
    • spare prop installed, & new spare purchased and entered into inventory
  • Anchor winch failure in Aitutaki.
    • parts shipped from Australia, and repaired on-site in Fiji.
  • Davit slew ring loosened, NZ.
    • retightened 3 main fastening bolts, easy fix!
  • FWD & Bustle bilge pumps stopped working mid ocean!
    • older units removed, & replaced with new Whale Gupler models in NZ.
  • Sub Zero refrigerator condenser fan & relays stopped working in Tahiti
    • replaced on-site, after being shipped by DHL from Vancouver
  • Fuel leak on 20KW Generator fuel pump. Replacement required in Rarotonga
    • new fuel pump shipped from Seattle (Hatton Marine),,, love those guys.
  • Upper-Aft-Deck Cushion lost  (blown off in Bora Bora)
    • replaced in Fiji  (we’re still in therapy with this one)
  • Stbd Stabilizer HP-Gauge failed. Mid ocean!  (still too soon to talk about)
    • effected an immediate repair, & refilled header tank with spare Hydraulic. fluid  (Thank God we had spare!)
  • HYD oil cooler impeller failed while in transit, during extremely rough weather
    • straight-forward swap – although did require shutting off the main engine mid-ocean  😮
  • lost my iPad in Hawaii
    • please, let’s move on.
  • hydraulic hose burst, emptying all 12 gallons of Hydraulic oil out of the Reservoir (again)
    • Okie dokie, locate spare oil, overalls on, engine off, effect repair, fill up tank, engine on, on we go!
  • TRACE inverter failed, so replaced both
    • Replaced with 2 new Outback Inverters, nice!
  • ITR Furnace fuel pump failed (tear in diaphram)
    • straight-forward repair
  • hot water tank failed  /  had to remove  (this job was a nightmare)
    • Replaced with a new Torrid stainless steel unit, shipped from Seattle
  • Inverters and hot water tank were both ‘lost’ in NZ Customs.
    • Around two weeks MIA, fortunately we had other work to occupy us 😬
  • iPhone lost overboard, just too add insult to injury ; )
    • silver lining here, replaced with a shiny new-to-me iPhone 6
  • Underwater cleaning tool (Wave Blade) failed.
    • One tool NOT recommended by me, but at least it did work well for a couple of years.
  • Dive Compressor belt split, of course had no spare at the time.
    • Supplier located in NZ and ordered 2 spare.
  • Dive Compressor HP gauge failure.
    • BAUER supplier located in NZ, gauge replaced along with new HP fill-whip for good measure.

 

 

What can I say?  It was a challenging time!!**
However,,, we came to terms that we both like to have INFINITY fully operational and looking great, and this was just necessary maintenance after cruising for an extended period of time.  And while we were at it, we slotted in a few more projects and vessel upgrades:  (a few to be detailed later in our Projects section)

 

Full varnish of the teak cap-rail

Full vessel waxing, from stem-to-stern.

New Dinghy and scooter covers

New flopper stopper covers

Twin room Cabin revamp

New teak corner on bustle/swim step

New Headliners through the boat.

New Carpets through out the boat

 

**One thing I can absolutely guarantee a couple considering crossing oceans in their boat is that equipment will break down, and you will get though it. The blessing, or the beauty in this for me, was that these very trying times actually brought Julie and I closer together because we got through all these events together.   I came to understand that I can trust my partner in any situation, and she would actually be my number one pick for any ocean transit.  After 35 years of marriage (at the time) it was an epiphany for me to realize this.  As I write this, I’m both humbled and honoured to have had this time, and these experiences together.  So you potential cruising aficionados, get on it, stop dilly-dallying, buy the boat and get out there!  The cruising life is full of potential enrichment and experience, even when the chips are down.

 

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To break up the hectic work-scope on the boat, we’d take INFINITY out to the local Islands to keep our souls engaged in the Cruising game, and revive this wonderful lifestyle.

 

Entering the Great Barrier Islands, which was only a short 40 mile hop from Gulf Harbour.  Felt very much like being back in British Columbia!

 

 

Sunsets like these were typical & beautiful. You did not have to wait too long to be reminded why we do this.

 

 

Back in Gulf Harbour Marina, slip N25 – Julie putting together a few bites for our friends / neighbours dockside

 

 

Ross & Jane Burton – Nordhavn 40 – CELLO. We became good friends over the 18 months spent in NZ. Their dog ‘Henry’ was the cutest dog I have seen in a long time. They were always welcome onboard INFINITY

 

 

,,,and some friends become like family!  The two Julies together.

 

 

Every blue moon, when you and the universe are connected, the gift of friendship-for-life is bestowed upon us.  It happened to us in New Zealand with Murray and Julie Bailey. A chance meeting I guess, fairly innocuous.  I’d noticed this guy cleaning his boat one day (80′ custom, ‘AZZARRA’) and we’d exchange the “I’d rather be doing something else” look at each other.  This happened on a few occasions and over the course of a week we’d stop and chat.  We learned that he too, was happily married of many years, to a ‘Julie’

I began to look forward to our chats, and within a month our door was always open to this most wonderful couple.  As often as our schedules would allow, we’d share a dinner together, and of course they invited us to their amazing property looking out over the Hauraki Gulf.

Cruising is, and always will be, most about the wonderful people you meet along the way.  My take on it is that if we had not made the bold choice to cross oceans, and visit distant shores, we would not have met the souls who have enriched our lives. It’s actually not about the boat, it’s about the people – the boat is the icing on the cake🧁

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With many of the projects, and maintenance, and 5 months behind us, we decided a Road Trip was in order!  We had no specific plans other than to head to the South Island.  I did a quick scan of Google-Earth and marked out a few places of interest:

Wellington:          we had to catch the Ferry there

Christchurch:      the location of a Trimaran builder Farrier Marine

Queenstown:      I have some friends that live there

So with a very loose agenda in hand, we took off.

 

 

 

 

Driving through Auckland, we saw these ‘Noddy-type’ Postal vehicles everywhere. It hits you how each country has many of their own peculiarities, which make it special.

 

 

This particular peculiarity, we found hard to adopt.  Note the lack of shoes,,,  Kiwis of all ages, from 4 to 40 sporting the Hobbit theme.   Cold weather did not seem to be an issue. 😮

 

 

Wellington Museum – overlooking Wellington Port. We spent an afternoon there. It was an interesting place and I enjoyed it, but it occurred to me as we were walking out the door, that I enjoy walking up & down the Marina docks even more.

 

 

Wellington declared itself a Nuclear Free zone in a benchmark vote, which 5 years later was adopted by the whole country.  Nuclear powered vessels are barred from entering all NZ ports.  The reaction was interesting – New Zealand was officially downgraded from ALLY to FRIEND status.  Fast forward to 2018, the US is in the process of approving easier trade and investment agreements.  We certainly did not see any evidence that the Nuclear-free decision caused any harm what-so-ever.  In fact, the waterfront city was named the world’s most livable City by Deutsche Bank.  I believe the factors were cost of living, climate, safety and pollution levels.

 

 

 

Our ‘ride’ over to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait and bound for the Port of Picton

 

 

This was my very first glimpse of New Zealands’ South Island. I had been waiting over 50 years to see this, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed! 👍

 

 

 

Picturesque, rugged beauty – meditation worthy.

 

 

This is one of my favourite shots.  We were bombing down South, with new horizons to explore, empty road ahead, music cranked, the future bright & clear. The moment is permanently burned into my brain.

 

 

Occasionally we would get out of the car for a stretch when the scenery would provoke it. (reminded me of Merritt, BC)

 

 

 

Having arrived Christchurch, we discovered the best way to tour the city is by hopping on & off the Tram that weaves its way through the city, stopping at all the attractions.

 

 

 

This Trolley transited right through this back mews.  Kinda cool.

 

 

We found the City to be an eclectic blend of the old and the new.  Not too long ago, Christchurch experienced quite a severe Earthquake, and the rebuild process was evident everywhere.

 

Earthquake stabilization & rebuild ongoing

 

 

Earthquake rebuilding. The old in front of the new.

 

 

This one was an Art Gallery, which I actually DID enjoy. (Note to self: you like Art Galleries, not Museums)   Never did get to see the Trimaran builder.

 

 

Neil Dawson’s Chalice sculpture, located in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square.

 

 

Christchurch Botanic Gardens, founded in 1863.  When Julie and I owned our house back in Vancouver, we were really getting into Gardening.   Atriums like these are another place where I feel connected to God, it’s like Church to me.  

 

 

On our way again, next stop, Queenstown!!

And here I have to introduce you to another great friend, Mr. Martin Hardy.  Martin and I worked together in Trinidad, Singapore, and China, and we have kept in touch over the years.  Turns out he had a property in Queenstown which was coincidently available.  “Why don’t you guys stay there” he said.  He did not have to ask twice.

 

Queenstown is an incredible place. And yes, this is the view from Martins house.

 

 

Yep, what did I tell you? This was going to be a very comfortable week.

 

 

woke up to this every morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

zoom into the wee car, and you’ll see a stellar individual,  Mr. Martin Hardy

 

 

The SHOTOVER JET

 

In 1986, I was working in Saudi Arabia with another Diver called Stuart Anderson.  He had spent some time in New Zealand and kept raving on about this Jet Boat ride, saying I just HAD to do it.  Stuart, you were not wrong!

CHECK OUT THIS LINK, HERE.

 

Julie and spent a few days and nights just walking around Queenstown with no other agenda other than to explore the town at our leisure.  Our Digs were only a mile out of town, so there was no rush to do anything.  On impulse, we thought we’d check out the ICE BAR.  (Actually, I think we had free tickets 😜)

 

they dress you up,,,

 

 

and push you in!

 

 

Bartender! Give me a cool one!!

 

 

Now this is more our speed. We imagined our daughter Chloë (who lives in Norway) snuggled up in this chair with Harley. Aw,,,     (actually, I wouldn’t mind climbing in there myself!)

 

 

We had heard that this place, called  ‘The Cow’  was pretty cool, so on a cool afternoon we checked it out.

 

 

 

Oh yeah!   This place is going to do just fine!

 

 

Someone call a Cop, a Pizza is about to get murdered! That Garlic Loaf was smothered, and infused, with garlic butter. Yes, it too went the way of the Pizza.

 

 

A bit further afield, probably 20 minutes drive from Queenstown, was this delightful little area known as Arrowtown.   “Where History meets Nature”

 

Yes, that is a Harley Davidson, and yes I am checking it out unashamedly.

 

 

The Car version of the Nordhavn 62!

 

 

Back to our digs,,,towards the end of the week we found ourselves scanning the local property market. 😮

 

 

those Queenstown pies aren’t going to work themselves off. Jay and I try to get 1/2 hour of some form of exercise in each morning.

 

 

It was time we were heading back up North again.  We took the route heading west, past Milford Sound (sadly) and up the west coast of the South Island, stopping whenever the mood took us (quite frequently as it happened 😜)

 

Traveling back up the west coast of the South Island. Very rugged, wild, spectacular scenery

 

 

Taking the Ferry up to the North island. I always feel so comfortable back on the water.   Here I’m taking a moment to thank God for our time on this earth.   Who could blame me?

 

 

Meet Zach Rohland.  We first met this fine young man in North Vancouver, dockside, helping his family bring their boat ‘FAMILY TIME’ alongside.  Months later, we all met up in San Diego.  We decided there, that we would loosely ‘buddy-boat’ down the Mexican coast, and up the Sea of Cortez, to La Paz.  We spent months together in 2013 with the Rohlands, and just knew we’d all run into each other again.  Cruisers do that.  So I wasn’t really that surprised when I got a text saying “where are you, I’m in New Zealand”.  Well one can’t leave Divine intervention like that unattended, so after a series of texts, and hundreds of miles of driving over multiple days, we finally met up for one night in Tauranga, North Island.  It was like we had seen each other yesterday!

We spent the evening catching up, devouring two large Pizzas, and recounted what each of us had been doing over the last 4 years.  Zach had been in this area for a few days and asked if we were going to see Hobbiton while we were so close?  Why not?  While the whole Hobbit thing does nothing for me, I do think that the Lord of the Rings was Epic, so we put it on the agenda.

 

Zach & Jay at the Pizza Library.  Bethlehem, Tauranga.

 

 

 

 

Hobbiton turned out to be a great day, and a fun experience.  Those impromptu events usually are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had always wondered what became of Stevie Gorton?

 

 

After the the Hobbiton visit, we pointed our car North again, back home to Gulf Harbour Marina, to our friends and INFINITY.  We are always happy to rejoin INFINITY, even if it’s been just a few weeks away.

 

Quite often, we were rewarded with these amazing sunsets

 

 

this time, I stared into the sunset wondering if we are we going to miss New Zealand?

 

 

While I was at work, Julie stayed with the boat and caught up with a necessary full wax job . Here is  INFINITY spic & span, and ready for Sea!

 

 

After this downtime in New Zealand, I got a call from work to report on the status of a new-build Diving Support Vessel, which was being built for the company in Norway.  It was supposed to be a two or three-day affair.  In-&-out.  To this very day, (two years later) I’m still working on the same boat.  You can read all about the vessel delivery trip, from Norway to Singapore, here.

 

I travelled back & forth from Auckland to Alesund over the next 6 months, Julie and I patiently waiting for a favourable time to move on to New Caledonia.  Finally, we managed a slot when INFINITY was ready for Sea, and I had a clearing of time away from work.

 

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F I J I
June 92017

BULA!   Welcome to FIJI !

Uncharacteristically, this FIJI Listing is going to be a long one. I warmly suggest you dig into it when you have your favourite beverage by your side, and a clear 35 minutes… : )

Fiji wass our penultimate destination for 2016, and more-than-managed to live up to the magnificent reputation our cruising peers suggested it might be.   In a word ,,, Awesome!

 

AITUTAKI    FIJI   (arrived Aug/29/2016)

Total trip time:  7 days, 16 hours

Total trip distance:  1360 nm

Total fuel used:  1012 gals.  /  1.34 nm/gal

 

 

 

First things first though. If you have frequented our blog in the past, you may recall our anchor winch failing (almost catastrophically) in Aitutaki, Cook Islands, during our final recovery.  Not understanding what mechanical support lie ahead in Tonga, we decided to by-pass Tonga, and head directly to Fiji where support was assured.   (I am SO glad we topped-up our tanks with Tahiti’s duty-free diesel when we had the chance  ????).  However, arriving FIJI under such conditions (an unplanned destination, and the ability for us to change plans quickly), was immensely rewarding.

During our transit to Fiji, I made contact with James Ellingford / N62-PENDANA.   James confirmed that Port Denarau Marina was indeed the place to go, and offered to manage our arrival in Fiji with Customs, Agents, and service providers.   All was waiting on the quayside when we arrived.  Thank-you James!

 

PORT DENARAU

After the legalities of checking into Fiji were completed, we immediately tore into the Hydraulic Winch problem.

 

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Upon stripping it down, we found the keyway-key had sheared, the clutch-cones were damaged, and the main shaft was scored.

 

 

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This is the gearbox.  The hydraulic motor mount broke off and you can see part of it still attached to the gearbox.  All the bolts were loose, the seals were shot, and of course all the oil had leaked out.

 

 

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All internal and external components have been removed.  We replaced all damaged components for new, and rebuilt the winch in place.  This was a relatively easy job.

 

The project got off to a good start.  We identified all the parts required, and left the ordering of parts in the service providers hands.  We then decided to rent a car for a few days and check out Nadi while our parts were to be flown into Fiji from New Zealand.  Not my brightest move.  Julie and I usually handle all repairs ourselves.  This time however, I decided to hire professionals to quarterback the project as I was exhausted, both mentally and physically from the anchor-failure-drama, and the week-long transit to Fiji.  The last two days of which I was on ‘high-alert’ as we threaded our way through Fiji’s insufficiently-charted waters.

It seems there was an issue behind the scenes, between the NZ distributor and Maxwell.  Old part numbers conflicting with new Maxwell 3500 HWC drawings.  Days rolled on.  When I inquired about the delay, only then was I informed about the issue.  (The British have a saying – “I was beside myself!“)

In retrospect, I blame only myself.  I should have ordered the parts myself (as we always have done) and managed the entire project between us (as we usually do).  The delay in receiving the parts was further complicated by the Marina needing our slip for other pre-booked vessels.  We played dock chess for a week, moving 5 times during our stay.  Ali @ PDM was a star.  Ali – God bless you my friend.

Our agent, Josephine Morris (Jo), from Yacht Partners Fiji, cleared the parts through Customs and had them delivered to our boat in hours.  Jo continued to provide exemplary service to INFINITY  throughout our entire time while in Fijian waters.  + 10!

Our hydraulic windless was rebuilt in just a few hours, then function tested and put back into service.  I suppose we’ll never know for sure what the exact root cause of the failure was, and I have many theories.  But having stripped and rebuilt the unit, I’m convinced of the Maxwell quality and satisfied INFINITY  is good-to-go for another 16 years.

 

 

We rented a car for a few days, and zipped around Nadi to see what we could see.  The Sleeping Giant mountain was repeatedly suggested as something you should see, so we drove out to the Botanical gardens.

 

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Our rented charabang for a few days

 

 

Normally, I’m not really a flower guy.  Oh I can appreciate it alright, like when Julie and I used to get ‘garden-fever’ when we owned our house, but I thought of this trip out to the Gardens more as something to occupy some time.  I was pleasantly surprised by the tranquil energy and vibe of the place.  In  fact, I’d welcome the chance to visit the local ‘Gardens’ in any future destinations we go to.

 

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The next day we headed out to familiar territory, and tried-out the  Sleeping Giant Zip-Line.  Just the drive out there was an adventure in itself.

 

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And of course no visit to a new destination is complete without dropping-in to the local Market.

 

Nadi market.  Typical island flair,,, great place!

 

 

During our stay at Port Denarau, we met a great couple (Gerard & Trish Knight).  Yes, Gerard Knight is James Knight’s brother.    We enjoyed a fun afternoon together, and invited them over to the marina for some cocktails on  INFINITY.

 

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Sept. 9th, 2016  –  Celebrating our 28th Wedding Anniversary

 

 

 

We were asked if a Nordhavn Rally was taking place because there were 5 Nordhavns gracing the docks, 1 x N60,  2 x N62’s, 1 x N75 EYF, and 1 x N78.  I t was cool spending time with the Captains, and the owners.  As you might have guessed, all good people     :  )

 

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Nordhavn 78 – SIRIUS

 

 

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Nordhavn 60 – OCEANZSPIRIT

 

 

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Nordhavn 62 – WALKABOUT

 

 

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Nordhavn 75 – LADY GREY

 

 

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Oh, my personal favourite,,, Nordhavn 62 – INFINITY

 

 

While sitting at the ‘Rhumba’ at Port Denarau Marina (PDM), sipping our rum & cokes, we watched one of the most wonderful sailboats I have ever seen, slip gracefully into Harbour.  A famous quote sprang to mind.

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.”  – Robert N. Rose

The vessel was s/v ATLANTIC, and she must be seen to be fully appreciated.  While studying the boat from our bar-stools, I had this realization come over me, ‘our days here are going to be cool’.  PDM is temporary home for many super yachts, cool yachts, and other fine ocean crossing craft.  Pinch me now.

 

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INFINITY next to some big dogs.  (Helps us keep our perspective as we travel).

To our Starboard side was Senses,  (owned by the dude who owns Google).

To the Port of us was SuRi.

 

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this plane was actually lowered off of SuRi.   Apparently it was time to be replaced by a newer model.   Yep,,,

 

 

 

MUSKET COVE

 

With our windless repaired, and our stores replenished, it was time to move on and discover FIJI.  But just around the corner was Musket Cove, a must-see location near Nandi.

 

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flying our colours as we enter Musket Cove

 

 

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S/V  ENCORE    (our neighbors in Hawaii)

 

 

The timing our our arrival at Muskett Cove was just perfect.  Everyday was filled with fun events, followed by an evening party.

 

 

 

 

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non-stop events, people flying-in & flying out at regular intervals, daily.

 

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Cloud 9.  Yes, that’s right.  A Bar & Pizza joint right out in the middle of Ro-Ro Reef, opposite Malolo Island.  The only way to get there is by small boat (dinghy).  You anchor your boat just off the platform, or tie your boat right up to the platform rail as we did.  The Bar is surrounded by crystal clear water, around 20’ deep, and ideal for snorkeling.  The top level is perfect for diving-off of.  Rock music is playing and the vibe just says –“PARTY”–.  I loved this place, it was unique and a lot of fun.

 

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with Monty & Margy from the sailing cat  WHISTLER

 

 

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Another great cruising event, in another fantastic tropical destination.      :  )     ????

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After regatta week,,, Musket Cove turned into one of the most peaceful & tranquil anchorages we’ve ever been in.

 

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Jay & I went sailing on a Hobie Wave (a small Catamaran) this afternoon, and what great fun!!  We had such a fun afternoon, we have decided to buy a small sailing Catamaran for INFINITY.  Because we require one which can be assembled on site, our choice is between two models, the MiniCat or the SmartKat.  Which one will we choose?  Which one would you choose?  Our next Listing for New Zealand will reveal all.     ;  )

 

 

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Funny story:  27 years ago Julie and I were visiting New Zealand.  Our trip to the south island was scuppered because all the Ferry’s were booked solid.  So, feeling cold and needing some warmth, we booked 10 days in Fiji instead.   27 years later we find ourselves in the exact same resort!  We spent a fun afternoon going down memory lane at the Plantation Island Resort.

 

 

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Yep, 27 years ago we stood right here  (BC)  “before kids”.

 

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Musket Cove was great, but we can’t stay here forever.   Anchor up & heading north up to the Yasawa Islands!

 

 

NAVADRA ISLAND

Our first stop on the Yasawa Islands tour was Navadra Island, which consists of two islands joined together by a small inlet.  It’s the perfect Island-get-away that you dream of, and we shared the bay with only a couple of other boats during our whole time there.

 

 

 

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This cave is still used by the local Fijians for the occasional ceremony

 

 

Margy (from s/v WHISTLER) organizing the party

 

 

From our boat, we had the most stunning view of the hill top beside us.  I kept looking at it during my morning coffees, and mentioned to Julie how it was toying with me.  “We should climb to the top of that mount”,,,  seemed like a good idea at the time.

 

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half way up the hill

 

 

at the top of our summit!

 

 

getting nostalgic, we decided to build a North American Inuksuk to leave our mark

 

 

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now we get personal!   Leaving the  ∞  card behind.   ;  )

 

 

my favourite Navandra photo!

 

 

Monty & Margy (from s/v  WHISTLER), got their Drone out and managed to capture some great shots of INFINITY from the air.  Note to self:  must buy a Drone!

 

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WAYA ISLAND / NALAUWAKI BAY

 

On our next stop, just 15 nautical miles north from Navandra, is Waya Island.  We met some wonderful locals there and got some great diving in.

 

the view from here was great!

 

 

unfortunately, our 300 lb CQR adopts this attitude too often

 

 

Once we met with the Chief, we were invited to walk around their village.  It left a huge impression on us, being surrounded by such lovely people.  And by lovely I mean folk without any agenda at all  (well, perhaps some Kava or fish-hooks) button attachment to the outside world or even a consideration about it.  I found the experience calming, something with a purity about it.  I liked it.

 

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our guide (Pauli)  for our mountain top excursion

 

 

half way up this one!

 

 

and to the top we make it!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

water break for everybody

 

 

Julie and our Paulini shaking it out,,,

 

 

Waya Island village view from mountain top

 

 

INFINITY on the right.   s/v ENTICE (Greg & Karen) foreground.

 

 

Ya, we fell in love with this too.    We will return     ;  )

 

 

sometimes, the photos we take do not capture how truly beautiful a place is,,, and sometimes they do!

 

 

While we were on Waya, the was a group of Volunteers from Australia rebuilding the village school that was damaged in the last Hurricane.  God bless these guys.  While social media prevails with negative stories, as Jay and I travel we consistently see good, bright, positive deeds done by wonderful people.

 

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these village kids took a shine to Julie

 

 

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the children revelled in showing us the new fresh-water pipeline that was installed at their village last year. The new line is piped right to the village from a mountain top spring. The original water supply was contaminated by wild animals.

 

 

Julie and I donated some items to the local village at Nalauwaki Bay.  (various items that we had onboard INFINITY)

 

 

the kids seemed to like the masks & snorkels we picked up in Hawaii – Thanks Dad & Joan!

 

 

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here comes the school bus – really!

 

 

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the presence of God everywhere you look

 

 

Back in the water for some more diving.

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Pauline and Amelia hanging’ out

 

 

Yeah, that’s it.  We trekked right to the top of that right-side peak

 

 

leaving Waya Island, and heading north to the Blue Lagoon

 

 

NACULA ISLAND / BLUE LAGOON

Navigating through the Fijian Islands is done in daylight, and by sight only.   Many of these waters are uncharted, which make it easily the most treacherous waters we’ve had to navigate in, by far.   Vessels going aground are common.  Lately, our navigation is assisted with Satellite imagery, using an iPad app ‘MotionX-GPS HD’.  This simple software is a revelation to me and has saved our bacon once already. (entering into Blue Lagoon).

While we were anchored in Nalauwaki Bay, we spent some time with Greg & Karen (s/v ENTICE), and they mentioned a couple of activities they enjoyed during their stay in Blue Lagoon.  I have come respect the opinions of other cruisers who have gone before you.  It’s usually hard-won knowledge, and something we can capitalize on while cruising to new anchorages.  So, when they suggested we venture out to a nearby Island to buy some fresh vegetables, and go mud-crabbing with with Shirley, that sounded like a good plan.

 

 

We dinghied over to a neighbouring Island near Blue Lagoon, and met the local Vegetable farmer who welcomed us to all that was in season.

 

 

You can’t get any fresher than this!

 

 

 

During one of my morning paddleboard excursions, on our third day at anchor,,, behold!  What do I see?  The sailing vessel  Red Thread – who we last saw in Tahiti!  I paddled right over and said a big hello to Jesse & Neil, who with cruising with their good friends from the USA, Katrina & Tyler.  It was a blast to see these guys again, and just reinforces why international cruising is so cool.

 

Katrina, Tyler, Neil, Andy, Julie, & Jesse,  impromptu group meeting – they’re the best!

 

 

INFINITY gets to relax in the sun too.

 

 

getting ready for the mud-crabbing-collection adventure.   Tooling up with heavy socks & water shoes.

 

 

getting our game plan together with our host, Shirley.

 

 

 

 

into the mangroves we go

 

 

,,, and keep going

 

 

Shirley recounts the crab-catching-plan one more time

 

 

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be adventurous they said,,, it will be fun they said,,,

 

 

we can see you!

 

 

Turns out the “plan” is to stick your hand up a black mud filled space, feel for the crab, and yank ‘im out.

 

 

I had a better idea.   I’ll hold the bucket!

 

 

Yep,  Shirley could catch these fish by hand too, so they made up some of the menu that night.

 

 

Neil was right in there. You-the-man Neil!

 

 

all washed up,  heading out for the nights’ Fijian feast.

 

 

All the food we gathered and caught that afternoon, was cleaned and prepared by Shirley’s family, and we we’re invited to their home to enjoy the feast.

 

 

 

Yep, that’s the mudcrab. Tasted good, if not a little ‘muddy’

 

 

Shirley’s sister, and our wonderful host for the evening.

 

 

The feast in full-swing!

 

 

awesome experience, wonderful night,  great people!

 

 

 

 

 

SAWA-I-LAU  ISLAND

 

Sawa-I-Lau was yet another, quiet, tranquil anchorage in the Fijian Islands chain.  Additionally, the location is also renowned for it’s underwater cave structure, which is open to cruisers.

 

Hook is down, dinghy has been launched, and we’re going to investigate the caves.     (excuse the steam on the Go-Pro lens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

looking for a spot to anchor the dinghy.

 

 

 

 

steps right up to the Caves entrance

 

 

 

 

 

 

how cool is this place!?       ; )

 

 

Slowly, as we threaded our way through the Tuamotus Islands, French Polynesia, and the Fijian Islands, I have been doing more Free Diving and loving it!  This cave was only 50′ deep but gave me another safe opportunity to explore.  As I approached the bottom, I found a CASIO Waveceptor watch.  The strap was broken, but I scooped it up and got the strap fixed for $10.  I now love wearing the watch as it reminds me of FIJI.

 

 

    Sawa-I-Lau Caves video from our FaceBook page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local  Sawa-I-Lau islander, and our cave guide for the day

 

 

 

 

Just before the sun started to set, I’d get the paddle board out and paddle around the island, which was full of intricate rock formations and shallow waters.  I could have spent a month in this one spot.

 

 

 

 

YASAWA ISLAND / 8-MONTH BEACH

 

From Sawa-I-Lau, we moved further up North to the tip of the Yasawas Island.  Apparently there are beaches there, (8-month-beach and Champagne beach), that are recognized as some of the worlds best – with silky white, powdery sand.  In fact, local folklore has it that “it will take you 8 months to wash the sand completely from your hair.”

Well, turns out we didn’t even get a sniff at the beach.  We arrived in cloudy unsettled weather and things did not improve once the hook was down.  As I was pondering the situation, I saw a trimaran entering the Bay.  It looked peculiar at first, and  it took me a few seconds to figure it out.  It was dismasted!

Once they were settled, they hailed INFINITY on VHF 16, and I paddle-boarded over to their vessel to see what assistance we could provide.  Jeff & Jose Allen told me how the dismasting events unfolded, and indeed, they were lucky to be alive.  Their Norman Cross designed trimaran suffered some serious damage.  We worked out a plan for the next morning.  I would provide them with our Satellite Phone and a few gallons of diesel.

Morning came, and over I paddled.  Julie and I had invited them over for lunch on INFINITY, but as the morning progressed, so did the weather, and it became increasingly obvious that no lunch-date was going to be had.  :  (

I wish I could tell you that was the only issue.  Not so.  While we were sitting there at anchor, a local weather system passed right over us.  Seas rose over 5m with breaking waves, sustained winds over 50 knots howled through the rigging.  It was getting ugly out there and my cavalier attitude was disappearing fast.  INFINITY was pitching up and down wildly and then BANG!  Anchor chain running out uncontrolled a-freaking-gain!  I ran out of the Pilothouse in terror, and grabbed some 1” nylon line.  The reef was only 30 meters behind us!  I bent on the 1” line with a rolling-hitch and secured it to our centre-cleat.  As more chain began to run out, it was halted by the line.  Thank you God.  Two more lines soon joined the chain, one to the Port cleat, and one to Stbd.  OK, now that that was in-hand, Julie and I went around the boat securing everything.  It was kind-of a disaster really.  The Flopper-stoppers were both deployed and there was no way we could recover them now.  They held strong for many hours but the 6mm stainless-steel wire harness eventually parted.  So there we were.  Connected to the seabed, pitching and rolling wildly for the 12 hours the Storm Force winds lasted.  By luck, I installed separate retrieval lines to the Flopper-stoppers, so we were able to recover them as conditions allowed.  It was an altogether horrible experience and probably the worst boating experience we’ve had to date.  It’s not all sunshine and Champagne you know.     ;  )

 

     The ‘Bad Day’ video from our You-Tube channel

 

 

Jeff & Jose’s Trimaran “STRAVAIG”

 

 

 

 

SAVUSAVU

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Savu Savu was a much, much better experience altogether.     :  )

After the storm force winds abated the the Yasawas, we picked up anchor and cruised on over to Fiji’s Northern Island of Vanua Levu.  Here, we were going to see our friends Mike & Cheryl who we met in Hawaii.  They have chosen to build a house and settle part-time in Fiji.  We were looking forward to see what the appeal was.

 

INFINITY anchored at the mouth of the Nakama Creek.  Still waters with plenty of clear blue depth, and swinging room.

 

 

 

John & Sandy’s FPB64 – TIGER, in the foreground.                                  (While I’m a Nordhavn aficionado, I do appreciate these very purposeful Dashew boats).

 

 

The weekly supply boat rolls on in, on schedule.

 

 

The Parade is on!  & the town stops.  I needed a break anyway, we grab a coffee and watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We felt quite charmed with Savusavu, so much in fact, that we found ourselves looking at property.  Yep, ‘wouldn’t it be great to own a slice of this heaven?’  Little did we know that this thought process was going to occupy us over a 6-month period.   A spending an enjoyable week in Savusavu (promising to return), we picked up anchor and cruised back to Nadi to make plans for our final transit to New Zealand.

 

The majestic faces of Savusavu,,, just another day in Paradise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once back in Nadi, we dropped anchor in Musket Cove again.  We have only been there twice before but somehow it felt like coming into a home anchorage.  From here, we organized our immigration and refueling to be done at Port Denarau.  The forecast was good and we’d soon be on our last leg to Auckland, New Zealand.  All-in-all, this Journey has been a wonderful, glorious 8 month period.  A lot of work, and a lot of challenges, but one so worthwhile!

 

Next Listing     >>  New Zealand.

 

 

 

 

 

More Information»
Cook Islands
September 32016

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Rarotonga is the vibrant centre of the Cook Islands and is where government resides. Circular, and only 32 km in circumference, it is dominated by high mountain peaks from which lush rain forests provide a dramatic backdrop to a palm-fringed shore.

The island is almost completely encircled by a reef, however there is no navigable lagoon, or free anchoring here.  Avatiu Harbour underwent a huge harbour realignment and dredging project to straighten the east quay and dredge the basin to 10m. This project was completed at the end of 2012 and the harbour has now re-opened to visIting yachts.

The end result is a better arrangement for yachts, however locals warn (and I can confirm!) that the harbour is now even more exposed and open to the north winds and seas brought on by frontal passages, (luckily most of the weather comes from the ESE).     (Source:  noonsite.com)

 

TAHITI    RAROTONGA   (arrived Aug/02/2016)

Total trip time;  76 hours

Total trip distance;  622 nm

Total fuel used:  498 gals.  /  1.24 nm/gal

 

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“Motor Vessel INFINITY, INFINITY, INFINITY,,,,,HARBOR MASTER”

               Harbour Master, this is INFINITY on VHF 12 – go ahead.

“Harbor Master here Captain,,,, – Richard wants to say ‘Hello’

               “Hey Richard!    How you doing Dude?!”

Of course, Richard, is none other than Nordhavn Dreamer & esteemed Global Entrepreneur, RICHARD BARTON.

Richard has been a casual acquaintance of INFINITY, via the Nordhavn Dreamers website, and we have emailed each other from time to time.  Richard understood we were on our way to Rarotonga, reached-out and extended a warm welcome. 

He has shown us around the Island, and looked after our importation of our fuel pump.  And his wife Willy invited us over to dinner at their beautiful house on the west side of the Island.  We’ve also met & hung out with their daughter Trish for a few days.  What a great family!  It’s wonderful people like this who make our cruising so worthwhile.

 

 

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Richard Barton and Andy Nemier, on  INFINITY’s  upper aft-deck

 

 

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Julie, together with Willie, Richard, & Trish Barton

 

 

This morning, (Aug/09/2016) we installed the new fuel pump for our 20 KW Generator.  She’s a go!!  However, minor upset occurred trying to remove the stop solenoid.  As we unscrewed the solenoid, it came apart in our hands  :  (    Perhaps it can be rebuilt?  For now, I plugged it off and have to stop the Genny by using the manual ‘stop’  on the machine itself.  No biggy, apart from the fact that the “auto-shut-down” feature will no longer operate.  We’ll have to keep a closer and more frequent eye on the oil pressure and engine temperature.  UPDATE:  (18/AUG/2016)  The fuel-stop solenoid has been repaired, installed, and is working like a champ!)

 

 

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Our generator with the leaking fuel pump. You can see the blue gasket material we used to stem the diesel leak, and the funnel-&-cup arrangement to gather the overspill during operation. Crude, but effective.

 

 

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leaking fuel pump removed. Prepping faces for installation of new pump.

 

 

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New fuel pump installed! The fuel delivery lines are not-yet attached.    Shiney!

 

 

 

 

I have always been interested in the South Pacific Islands and the Polynesian / Melanesian / Micronesian cultures in general.  I think many of us have been at one time or another.  My own personal interest started in high-school geography class and the wonder blossomed through-out my twenties, and thirties.  I travelled internationally for a living, and my interest grew stronger.

But it wasn’t until Jay and I bought our Nordhavn, and we crossed the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, that my interest in this diverse culture began to be addressed.  We were welcomed into Hawaii with open arms and could actually feel the ALOHA spirit radiate through the Hawaiian people.  We loved the Bishop Museum and the local Luau’s, and basically any other opportunity which immersed us further into their culture.

But we had a whole world to explore and we were not getting any younger, so onwards we pushed – further south and further west – towards French Polynesia.  All through the Society Islands, their own unique culture was immediately evident – from the most open & accepted personal sexuality, to the most amazing display of Tattoo’s.  Almost everyone, it seemed, had a Tattoo prominent on their body.  This was a revelation to me.  I have always respected well intentioned Tattoo’s, especially one’s which told a story.  I even considered getting some sort of tribal Tattoo myself years ago, but simply could not justify it.

Once we reached Rarotonga, and I saw with my own eyes, that a major percentage off the population (young & old alike) were adorned with ink.  I stood in awe how every persons’ Tattoo was different from each others.

Jay & I were asked if we would mind being interviewed for the Cook Island News, and of course we said ’sure’.  It was during the interview, that I noticed Soloman’s Tattoo.  I remarked how striking it was, and he asked us if we wanted to hear of his Tattoo’s story.  I was enthralled to hear how each symbol represented a certain time or path in his life,,, it was truly unique to him.  At that moment, I knew that I was finally going to live-out a life-long dream of getting a Tattoo, one which told my own story.  Two days later, my personal canvas was done at Polynesian Tattoo, in Rarotonga.  I could not be happier with the results.  I will forever be reminded of the wonderful experience we’ve had in Polynesia and fulfilled another dream.

 

 

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Infinite dreams,,, endless possibilities,,, without boundaries. 

 

 

My Tattoo is a traditional Polynesian interpretation of my own personal journey: the union of two people, traveling together to foreign lands by sea, guided by the sea-birds and the warrior spirit. Our family is close-by in our hearts.  We are all kept healthy from the fruits of the land, the sun, and positive energy.

 

 

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